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For the last 3+ years, I've been helping out the excellent people at Wayforward Technologies, making the latest game in the Shantae series.
I painted a whole whack o' backgrounds, playfields, and props, in addition to concept art and various bits n' bobs.
I'm playing the game right now and it's a lot of fun to see the final product. (I'm dying a lot because my PC platforming skills are super rusty, lol.)
It took longer than even I expected, but the time went by faster than I ever would have believed!
The game is launching Tuesday Dec. 20th in digital form for PS4, Wii U, PC, Xbone, and PS Vita, and a physical release is in the near future.

Congrats to Wayforward for delivering on their Kickstarter promises and making an awesome game!

Here's some of the stuff I worked on:

Key Art 02 by Spex84

10 by Spex849 by Spex84

© 2016 WayForward Technologies. Shantae and the Shantae logo – TM Matt Bozon.
Just saw "Rogue One", and despite more or less liking "The Force Awakens", I think I finally watched a "new" Star Wars movie that I can enjoy and re-watch without cringing.
I really, really liked it.
Design work that was downright reverential towards the original concept work done in the 70s, characters that I actually enjoyed and began to care about, action scenes that were tighter and less cluttered than any of the prequels (as well as more reminiscent of the original series' action scenes), a couple badass Vader scenes, some grit and violence (frickin' FINALLY!) in what is essentially a bloody tale (so tired of the "pew pew, everyone falls down!" stuff), and a generally basic plot that didn't get too absorbed in itself.
My only beef is: sorry, using CGI to bring back younger or dead actors is still a shaky decision. Didn't work for Terminator, didn't work for Tron, and doesn't work here.
But otherwise,

I had almost forgotten, but I still love Star Wars.
For years I've struggled with trying to get decent lines in Photoshop. I had discovered that Paint Tool Sai had line stabilization and generally better brush behavior than PS, but it was a pain switching between the two. The way Photoshop's brush tool leaves little stubby ends (the "shoelace effect") was driving me nuts. The lack of stabilization meant a lot of re-drawing lines and wasted time.
  I had searched previously for a tool or plugin that would give me line stabilization in PS, but didn't find anything. Finally today I discovered "Lazy Nezumi Pro" and am ecstatic with the ability it gives me to do clean lines with proper tails in Photoshop..AND...and this is the big one...ellipses with freehand line-weight, but constrained to an ellipse guide, so they're always perfect. I mean, dang. That's something I've struggled with for many years. If I draw an ellipse over and over again, I can generally get a near-perfect one, but it wastes enormous amounts of time. Creating ellipses with the pen tool and using "stroke" doesn't give me the line weight I want, and it can be very slow and tedious. Nezumi Pro takes care of that. Awesome.

I might update if I find downsides to this software, but right now I'm very happy.

Clean lines in Photoshop for like $35, woohoo!!

So..why in the f*ck does photoshop not have functionality like this right out of the box? I mean, for the price, it should (I don't have CC, so forgive me if the newest versions of PS have this and I'm not aware of it yet).
Was pretty much what I expected from the trailers. Loved it, even if it wasn't quite what I was expecting (not sure what I was expecting).
In a world of car franchises that have lost touch with their automotive roots (cough, Fast and Furious), the characters of Mad Max still worship the mighty V8. And superchargers. Nitro. Necker knobs. Flame-spewing exhaust. Temples erected to the glory of guzzoline.
The film is gleefully insane without lurching too far into cheesiness....I was worried it might bring 80s camp along with some of the 80s visuals, but thankfully, no. Well, maybe a little bit. But in a good way.

 It's a wild ride!
So recently I decided to try resurrecting my faulty Dell XPS 1210 laptop. It worked well for a few years, but got very hot. Eventually it developed an issue where the screen would change colors, almost like it was reverting to 256 color mode or something, kind of a watercolor effect. Then it would switch back to normal, and repeat every 10 minutes or so. Needless to say, it rendered the machine useless for photoshop work, and in 2010 I replaced it. It had been sitting on my shelf ever since.
  I had done some research on baking motherboards in the oven in order to re-flow the solder connections, but decided it was rather a lot of work for a computer I didn't really use. But a few weeks ago I found a recent Gizmodo article about a successful bake on a Dell XPS 120, just like mine. That decided things...I was going to try.
I stripped the computer down to the bare motherboard (and was careful to remove the CPU!), shielded the whole thing with foil except for the GPU (apparently it's the Nvidia GPUs of this time period that overheat and fail, similar to the Xbox 360's red ring of death failure). I removed all the stickers from board first, so they didn't burn in the oven.
I propped the foil-wrapped board up on some foil balls atop a cookie sheet, then baked at 350C for 4 minutes, flipped it over, baked for another 4 minutes, then shut the oven off, opened the door, and let it cool slowly.
After half an hour or so, I pulled the foil off. Or tried to.

Pro tip: if you wrap the whole thing in foil except for the target area, the stickers probably won't burn, so don't bother removing them. If you pull off the stickers (as I did) AND foil wrap it, the foil will STICK to the remaining adhesive on the board. You will then have a godawful time trying to remove shreds of stuck aluminum foil from your motherboard. Arghhhh.

After laboriously scraping off the stuck foil, I re-installed the board and all the other components, and to my surprise, the laptop fired up. I have not run it for very long yet, but the display problem seems to be fixed!!
The whole thing took me a few hours, including disassembly and reassembly.

So if you have a computer that is truly on its last legs, or won't even display anything on the screen...a motherboard bake might be worth the effort!
This journal entry was a little too ragey in retrospect. Tired of looking at it. TLDR version: To remove the annoying banner ads in Skype, you can find instructions below:…
In a happy surprise, I have acquired an Ipad. I'm not really an Apple person, or a mobile/tablet person, but I intend to put it to good use, hopefully as a digital sketch/doodle pad.
So...does anyone use their Ipad for drawing or painting? Any reviews or feedback on which apps work best?

Another one down. Whenever I think "dark sci fi horror", Giger's work is the first thing that will always come to mind.
Well, the Kickstarter for Bugbear's latest racing game (working title "Next Car Game") has been cancelled due to lack of support BUT they are still collecting preorders at their main site (, so that's where you can support them if you want.
  They've recently released a tech demo for Preorder customers that features a basic playground/test level and 24 cars with derby AI. It's a blast, crashing the cars and running them through the grinder until they're tiny shreds of metal. The "car death" is turned off, so you can still drive your car even if it's mashed into a tiny ball :D  For those who want to see what I'm talking about, there are tons of crash videos on youtube now.
All in all, a ton of fun, and I can't wait to see what the final game brings.
After waiting, often impatiently, for _years_, I've finally had the opportunity to play GTA V. I took my time working through the main story, making sure I explored and did side missions. The world is just incredible in its detail and complexity. There are so many little things that made me stop and think "wow, I can't believe they thought of that". That said, there are some niggling issues that still bother me:

1. GTA V is a world mediated by vehicles. This is how characters traverse the world, and for much of the game, how they interact with it. So I'm annoyed that only lip service has been paid to car storage and customization. No large garages for purchase? No car graphics? No wheel size adjustment? No ability to lower cars more than like, 1"? No ability whatsoever to lift vehicles? Lame...

Perhaps Rockstar didn't want GTA to angle in on Midnight Club's territory, but why offer customization but very, very limited storage for customized cars??
  Also, car customization is about color and stance. Everything else is icing on the cake. What I mean is that the paint/graphics and wheel/tire combination define a car's look and style, more than accessories do. In MCLA, I can take a Buick Grand National and paint it black, slam it to the ground, give it wide, low-profile tires on custom wheels and it's Pro-touring. Or I can paint it metalflake orange, raise it skyward on massive chrome or painted rims, and it's a Donk. Or paint it red oxide, with bondo and primer patches created using the vinyl wrap system, nose low and tail raised high, with 15" mag wheels and fat tires in the back, and it's a wannabe 80s street freak.
  GTA V gets some of it right--wheel type and color can be modified; there are a variety of paint colors and finishes. But wheel choices are limited, the tires are linked to the wheels, tire/wheel size cannot be modified, and all of this this severely limits the player's ability to personalize the car. Additionally, all of the optional parts seem to exist within the vehicle file--that is, I can only put a supercharger on a vehicle if that supercharger already exists within the vehicle's file. No loading up custom parts from external files (I could be wrong, but I think I have it right). So I can't put a supercharger on a semi, and I can't, say, lift a van and put a winch and roof rack on it.
  I kind of expected this, because I know how the vehicle files are set up in GTA IV: Ride height can't be raised because the center of gravity can't be changed dynamically, so lifted vehicles tip over easily (lowering is OK in this case because it just makes cars MORE stable). Custom parts are located within the vehicle file (rather than in external files) so custom parts are linked to specific vehicles. And so on.
I was hoping Rockstar would re-vamp the system and give us something new, but instead they adjusted GTA IV's system to bring it (almost) up to the level of San Andreas. So, in terms of car customization anyway, GTA V is basically what GTA IV _should have been_.
2. The LCN stock market is mostly bullshit. It's too bad. I would have loved to be able to destroy vehicles or properties in the world in order to manipulate stocks. I was looking forward to it, until it became apparent that the LCN can't be manipulated, and most of the stats (including the cool graphs) are 100% fabricated. That's incredibly lazy, Rockstar.

3. The developers built a world of surpassing beauty for GTA V, and the writers populated it with the most bilious and cynical characters yet. GTA V has a history of satire, irreverence, and playfulness. As its world has grown more realistic over the past few games, its sense of humor has become stunted into lazy, hateful snark. Instead of sharp observations, we get a thick coating of unpalatable derision, applied to everything. It's a shame to see GTA V's wonderful environment polluted with "humor" that barely qualifies. Or as Michael would put it: " jokes that aren't funny." Stating the obvious isn't satire, Michael.
   I think the criticisms of GTA's treatment of women ties into this complaint about lazy humor: GTA attempts to create a world where the objectification of women is magnified to the point where it becomes notable and qualifies as satire (billboard with crotches on them, "America's Next Top Hooker", "Point, Click, Ship a Bitch"). But once this heightened state of awfulness is reached...what is the takeaway? Where is the victory? Nobody wins. The game has merely succeeded in smearing its beautiful world with the same shit we get in real life.

In fact, that could be the theme of GTA V: Nobody wins.

Or perhaps "Misery loves company".

GTA V is a monumental achievement, and perhaps the most disillusioned game ever made.
Shortly after learning about the Shantae Kickstarter, which is progressing nicely but could always use an extra shot in the arm (Get over there!), I found out that Bugbear studios is making a spiritual successor to "Flat Out", possibly my favorite driving game ever. Awesome banger-racing action, a difficult but rewarding handling model, and some of the gnarliest crash physics of the day made the game a true standout...but it didn't get much publicity.

Bugbear longer has the rights to the name "Flat Out" (The title was given to another studio, which made the awful Flat Out 3), so they're calling it "Next Car Game" for now. Because they're based in Finland and can't take advantage of Kickstarter, they're taking pre-orders on their website (

  So, if you played Flat Out and loved it...Bugbear could use some help. They're trying to make the game without publisher funding, because the publishers they've talked to want them to change the game into something more mass-market (think Burnout, Need for Speed, Dirt Showdown), and the team isn't willing to compromise the awesome demolition-derby racing action they're committed to producing! So they're appealing to their fans to spread the word and purchase pre-orders.

The team is talking about adding some car customization in the vein of the 90s Street Rod games, another of my absolute faves. There are pretty much zero games out there today that offer an experience like Street Rod did, so anything similar would be awesome.

If you like good crashes...NextCarGame promises to be a lot of fun.

If I have some spare time I'll try to make some fan art. Oh boy.
News Flash:Today Wayforward started a Kickstarter for a new Shantae game!

I know a few people on the team, and I know they'd like nothing more than to spend their time and love on a new Shantae title and get it out there on as many platforms and with as much content as possible.
For anyone who has played the previous games, this is a no-brainer:D For anyone who hasn't: you're missing a darn good time!

Follow the link to "Shantae: Half-Genie Hero":…
Felt like moving the last journal entry off the front page.
Move along; nothing to see here.
SO, I've been waiting patiently for GTA 5 for eons now. I keep getting disappointed by delays, and I've finally kind of given up. Maybe I'll get excited again later.
I wasn't a huge fan of Saints Row's overall silliness, all over-the-place design, arcadey driving, etc...but this latest trailer has pretty much bludgeoned me into acceptance.
GTA5: Southern California! You've never seen it like this! Really! There will be yoga, and planes, and semi trailers. Also underwater!

So a couple days ago I noticed that I'd hit 998 watchers. That's 1k now.
Just wanted to say thanks to all of you, and thanks to all the other artists who inspire me!
I was checking around to see how many times my '31 Ford hot rod mod for GTA IV had been downloaded, and discovered that it has been downloaded over 12,000 times between 3 english-language sites--so that's not counting the German or Russian sites.
If every downloader compensated me a buck, I'd have $12,000. If I had even half that much, you can bet I'd make more models! As it is, I can't really justify making any more from-scratch mods, because I should be using that time for paying work or, you know, having a life.
There's gotta be a way...
I never meant for these journals to turn into obit columns, but...
Respects to Ray Bradbury, whose novels and short stories have affected me like few others. He forsaw so many technologies and events that have since come to pass, and some that may still lie in the future (for better or worse!)
When I observe the world around me, with its technological and social twist and turns, I invariably think of Bradbury's remarkable stories. They will likely influence my work and interests for the rest of my life.
So, many of you may be aware of this already, but I thought I'd spread the word. I picked up a 3DS a couple months ago with the intention of using it as a travel entertainment/sketching device. Then I discovered that the application I had in mind, Colors, was actually a homebrew and wouldn't work on the 3ds without doing some stuff that breaks the EULA. A legit version was slated to be released, but...I forgot about it. Remembered yesterday, and I see it's been released.
So yeah, it's kinda crude, but it works, and now I can sketch digitally. It's handy for those ideas that are more color than anything, and don't lend themselves to ballpoint pen, or grey markers, or pencil, or similar sketching tools that I tend to carry with me. So far I have been wary of trying to carry an acrylic sketching set--too much mess. Maybe someday. For now, I'm excited to try some 3DS sketches.
There's a childlike finger-painting-ish quality to it that is invigorating! Perfect.
Just thought I should link…

John Christopher's Tripod series, particularly "The White Mountains", played a significant role in my attraction to post-apocalyptic science fiction. I remember reading the book in a day, perched atop a 15-foot tall tree stump while on holidays on the west coast of BC.  Later, I read "A Wrinkle in the Skin" and found it equally enticing--a story about re-discovering a world that has become unfamiliar, violent and strange overnight.
(I see upon reading some of the obits that this genre of story is referred to as "cozy catastrophe".  Certainly, I'm glad I can read about these worlds and not live in them!)

Today, when I explore strange new places, or take photos of abandoned cars and decaying buildings, I experience the same sense of wistfulness and awe that I felt while reading those stories.

I am sad to hear of his passing, and hope that perhaps more people will discover his books now that he is gone.

I've been reading hints here and there that the next Microsoft console may somehow block used games...this strikes me as absolutely insane, and also perfectly predictable.
It makes sense that publishers would want to cut out the middleman (Gamestop et al) and channel all profits back to themselves and (hopefully) the developers. Downloadable, digital-delivery content is growing in popularity and availability, and can side-step secondary vendors completely. There's no such thing as second-hand digital content...unless you pirate or download cracked software.
Blocking used physical-copy games would simply put them on the same footing as digital content, right?

Here are my objections:

1. When I buy a _thing_, I expect to OWN it. Most people do! There is a concerted effort these days, on the part of large corporations, to convince customers (sorry: consumers) that they are in fact paying for the privilege of a media experience, rather than for the object itself. That makes some sense--a DVD is a few cents worth of plastic; in itself worthless. Problem: this argument means that players will ideally be _renting_ their gaming experience for $60 bucks a pop. Ridiculous. I can go to a rental place and experience all 6 hours of the latest AAA shooter for a few bucks.
If I fork out the full amount, I expect to have something that is MINE.

2. A game that cannot be re-played, or shared, or played on another machine etc etc. is a broken product. A game should not be designed to _become broken_ at any point. This is insane. Most consumer products are designed to become obsolescent at some point, but no-one would buy cars if they were _designed_ to break down after 1 year or 5,000 miles, whichever comes earlier. The same should go for games.
To define games as delivered experiences rather than purchased products completely devalues the time, money spent, and dignity of the customer, er, consumer. Unfortunately, this argument is so widespread these days that it's gaining major traction; for some people, the freedom to consume without owning is a wonderful, freeing thing. You can bet that the designers of this system are rubbing their hands with glee.

3. Games depreciate in value. Let's assume for now that physical-copy games are rented experiences, similar to games purchased online in that the physical media is simply the delivery system and the experience itself is the product.
When I rent or buy a 3-year old game, I am playing a depreciated product: the graphics aren't as good as those of a more recent game, and multiplayer is either a ghost-town (because everyone has migrated to the latest multiplayer game) or has been discontinued entirely. The experience may be "the same" as when the product was new (minus multiplayer), but it does not have the same value. So don't try to tell me that someone purchasing a used game is a "lost sale" because they would have otherwise purchased it new. This is completely false.

4. If the point of killing the used physical-copy game market is to inspire gamers to pay full price for their gaming experiences with each and every purchase, then what happens to physical-copy rental stores? Under this model, they would wither. That's some evil shit right there. Maybe publishers will allow gamers to download "rentals" that go dormant after the rental period has expired--like Netflix for games--but this would use such incredibly massive amounts of bandwidth that it would hamstring many gamers who can't get the bandwidth.

5. This would murder the modding community. Again, no company wants gamers digging around in its code and content, and possibly spreading it around the internet. Publishers want to sell us a wagon and show us exactly how fun it is to roll down a grassy slope that they have carefully designed at great expense, and be thankful for it. And when we're done experiencing that grassy slope--perhaps feeling a little empty and dissatisfied with how we've spent our money--they want to take the wagon back. Games can be like toys, but publishers would rather that games play with consumers, rather than the other way around.

Today, I can rent or buy a depreciated game and play it for a much less money than by purchasing it new. I can also buy online, from Steam for example, and get an older game for less. So, essentially, regardless of what prices publishers might command for their digitally-delivered content, the end result is that all game purchases will be driven online. There are some problems with this:

1. Online purchases require credit cards, which many younger players do not have.
2. Credit card data, stored online, is vulnerable. The hacking incidents of 2011 make this very clear.
3. Online profiles, passwords, memberships, etc. etc. are also vulnerable to hacking and information theft.
4. Modern AAA games are _massive_ downloads. Believe it or not, there are many avid, gaming Americans and Canadians without the reliable high-speed non-capped internet necessary to download games.
5. Online delivery services are subject to failure in a way that physical media is not. If a website goes down, if the cloud-based service I am "renting" my games from gets shut down by the FBI for distributing contested intellectual property, then I am shit out of luck, and wishing I could just put a disc in my machine. Maybe I'm getting absurd now, but it could happen.

All of this is probably pure speculation at this point, and I'm probably silly to even participate, but I can see this kind of autocratically controlled, product-free, "experience-delivery" system taking over our future freedom to own what we buy. When I was a design student, we were all encouraged to think about service-based solutions rather than product-based solutions, because service-based solutions tend to be more environmentally friendly, easier to sell, and easier to update. It didn't occur to me, at the time, how nefarious the concept could become

Needless to say, if this becomes fact in any way, I am _done_. I'll play f*cking boardgames, and love it. I refuse to live by subscription.