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Friday, August 26, 2016

Game Development is Science & Art...but Not Contemporary Art


Sounds weird, right?  Claiming that video game development is an art but not contemporary when video games have only been around for the past ~40-50 years.  Hear me out here because a lack of understanding this is positively ruining the game industry as well as the credibility of indie game development; possibly even game development as a whole.

Listen, I'm guilty of being one of the many over the past decade who pushed for categorizing both anime and video games as art.  This is from decades of dealing with a usually right winged, religious conservative mentality that since the 80's tried to demonize our hobbies and games from either a position of ignorance or a position of envy that they have no discerning hobbies and dreams.  Since my early years of gaming in the 80's I've been told a number of times that I was "wasting my time" with my love for video games from those in my own social circle, on public news and even my academic sphere of influence in Computer Science during the early 00's.  Oddly, we are now seeing the same bullying from those on the far left.

Kid trying to talk to great aunt about Pokemon Go; who's desperately wanting to return to a life of no hobbies. Source 

It was a battle of creditability that many of us fought and still try to fight to this day.  Thing is something (mostly) great happened.  A few years after I finished left college in 2004-2005 a threshold was reached, games became bigger than Hollywood movies.  The "game" changed.  Video games pierced into the main stream media and has since only grown and expanded in the 10+ years since; maintained by the fact that we, the gamers, became adults and to the dismay of the past generations, didn't shed our supposedly childish love.  From that point on, game development & programming courses became a norm in many schools and eventually it was finally recognized as an art of both technology and design as oppose to some "childish fad" some hoped it was going only to be.

So the battle was won right?  We did it.  We, the gamers (and yes, even anime fans to some degree) didn't have to be shunned for liking a hobby that was scientifically proven to improve a number of our senses and expand our imagination; with the development of which encompassing the entirety of of Computer Science and also responsible for moving that field forward.  Trust me, the old hat enterprise apps being outsourced to India in the early 00's were in no way improving Computer Science.  Much of the mobile / smart phone revolution was due to gaming... as is the current revolution of VR and AR.   Games have and will always move tech forward.

Dark Souls 3: A game that is a work of art in addition to being a fun game

Depression Quest: A game created for the sake of being "artsy" 


Not so fast with the celebration, though...
With this great improvement of the field and hobby came some issues; one of which was a ghost of gaming's past that almost killed it before.  The main issue is that the popularity of games and thus the money that can be had from clinging onto it's coattails invited a feverish group of marketeers and later, non-tech contemporary "artists" into the field.  The prior, the marketers, where actually the group who almost killed games in the 1980's, whom shunned games after a crash they created, and whom their succesors today like to keep the indie game scene in some sort of clique.  If you are not a part of that clique, forget any preemptive rewards, accolades, blog posts and well... hype.  The "clique" now includes a bunch of well positioned non engineer contemporary "artists" who don't know what it takes to make / code a game but want to "change" the industry similar to how a contemporary artist wants to "change" art with a canvas full of literal, actual shit.

See the above example of two games; Depression Quest (DQ) and Dark Souls 3 (DS3).  First off, I initially honored Depression Quest's "doing something different" angle.  Though one was by one person and the other was by a big budgeted studio, the politically motivated gate keeping created by the maker & bloggers supporting DQ shows what is wrong with the Western Indie game dev scene.  Dark Souls was created by a person (Hidetaka Miyazaki) who, like me, was told he'd never be good enough for the industry.  The creator of DQ took the fame to her head, not looking for improvement of the craft while Miyazaki stays humble and always trying to do better with each game since Demon Souls.  If you are to be a true game designer, the latter is the way to go and how you make art out of the craft.  The other way is like being a cat who sprays the yard to keep others out while also letting the yard die from the abundance of urine.

Like Art, Game Development and Programming is a Craft & Skill
da Vinci's art vs...

...contemporary art.

Before even the 00's, to make a game was a mostly engineering feat that, once set up, could then be given a focus on art, gameplay and design.  You had to know Computer Science and programming first and foremost and create your own game engine.  The improvement of the game development field was moved along by people like John Carmack who understood the science of both light and what gets displayed on to the screen.  Even in the early 00's I read the insane details on how to code for the Game Boy Advance in C++.  Once you got a working game engine, you can then get to work on the "real" development.  This steep learning curve was why Flash and actionscript2 took off in the early 00's as much of the initial engine set up was done.  This lead to many game devs beginning in the field thanks to mainly Newgrounds.com.  in 2002-2003 it was either 1) Go to Computer Science in college and secretly do it for game development (since you'd have been shunned then) or 2) Self teach some action script and Flash and get posting on Newgrounds.  I did a little bit of both.  Later when IOS game development reached a peak in 2010, me and other devs had engines like Cocos2D, Cocos3D and later SpriteKit / SceneKit to get going on apps.  Today it's even easier with the Unity game engine taking the lead as Flash did then with others like Unreal Engine and other easily available engines at our disposal. To be a game dev now is like saying you were a blogger in 2008... it's not hard to be a game dev at the minimum... and that is fine.   

However, like good art, there are basics one should know before being able to do something truly great with the craft.  Even with great tools like Unity and Unreal Engine, a lack of understanding the science/coding behind it will become apparent to the masses of gamers, your real client, in the form of missing features, lag and overall bad execution.

For Da Vinci to have even begun his art, he had to study human anatomy and lighting.   Many artists know this and a good art school will train the artists with those two main keys to their teaching.  That scientific detail to the craft in art is no different when you learn the update loop cycle to a game, or understanding that you need to keep polygons, lighting and scripting lean on mobile devices or even on consoles.  No being a so-called "true" artist is the driving force to the tenants of contemporary art and also due to the paradox-like idea of the question of "what is art?" You can (sadly) get away with an empty canvas due to some weird artsy notion of "emptiness" or some drivel like that.  

To the dismay of bloggers posing as news companies and some indie devs...you can't pull the same crap in game development.  Your clients, the gamers, will see right through it.  It's a fragile foundation to build a game on and no amount of mass demonization of those who call this out will protect you from the obvious... that you'd need to get back to the drawing board. 

The issues of Over-Hyping By Marketers, Devs and Computer Illiterate Journalism 

The promised look of No Man's Sky at E3 2014

Back when a non gaming marketing-based company like Warner Bros took over a then new industry when they bought out Atari in the 80's, it echoed the current situations of when major blogs posing as news sites (blogs younger than even this blog) haphazardly promote or degrade individuals via political motives with the end goal of who gets the most clicks while awarding and promoting games that aren't even out in the market.  WB was an uptight, stuffy, suit-filled cubicle factory that saw the groups of free loving Atari devs, cabinet builders and it's former owner as a bunch of hooligans.  In what became a development hell for Yar's Revenge's creator Howard Scott Warshaw, the computer illiterate marketers / owners of WB tried to ride the hype of the E.T movie and rush out a game based on the movie.  This mistake and ignorance of what it takes for developers to make a good game was what lead to the crash of '83 (and not Warsaw's fault).

When you have people who are not familiar with the craft trying to sell the craft, you run into a big problem.  There have been a number of companies who have done this mistake over the years but the most recent example of this was with the game, No Man's Sky.  This one was a collision of two of the bad issues that arose in video games being in the mainstream.  Not only was this game over hyped by bloggers and game "journalists" who hardly know about the technology (just how to spin things for clicks) it also was over hyped by it's main designer, director and yes, the rare thing of also being a developer as well.. Sean Murray.  As a fellow dev who loves procedural computing, I really feel for why he was maybe a bit too excited about this.  To make a game even like the final output of No Man's Sky all procedurally is a feat of the science.  However, the current Indie culture does nothing but make insane expectations for upcoming games and applications.  Marketers are paid to do just that, market products and make them look good.  To a point we can see where they were coming from but we have to stop over selling something that isn't even out.  Even worse, when you look at games like Fez or No Man's Sky... the games were not even out, yet the creators were given awards and accolades for what was nothing but hot air at the time of the awards.  The indie "clique" is creating a hashtag leeching, gatekeeping "club" of people who are all high on themselves.  Instead of the humble attitudes we see from someone like Miyazaki, we see nothing but pats on the back, oddly synchronized well edited Youtube videos and blog posts for a select batch of games the "club" feels worth it.  Not only is this counter to what it means to be an indie dev, as all of these "indie" award conferences resemble the averous of the Oscars, but it also goes a few steps further in it's delusion by shunning and blackballing those who call them out.  It's awarding devs too early in what the Oscar equivalent would be like giving the Oscar away to a movie where only the trailer was shown.

So, how do we fix this?  How do we, the gamers and game devs stop the over hype?  It's unfair to the gamers who are already tired of the now over two years of being demonized by people "in the industry" who don't even represent the end clients.  It's also not fair to developers who work hard to get a game out but have to feverishly try to match the extra hype that might not have matched the scope of the work they had to do; an extra scope brought on by the blindly passed accolades & overzealous, uninformed bloggers.

To fix this, we have to realize that great game development is the combination of both great science and great art.  Flimsy contemporary art methodology could maybe work on the most abstract, upper level...an after thought after the presentation, but won't fly as the foundation of the development.  Secondly, in addition to gamers (and some devs) speaking out against the collusion in the game journalism and the indie scene, we have to also let it be known that journalists have to know at least some of the technology before they go out and hashtag bomb the hell out of social media about some "industry changing game."  We need less business people and marketers behind the voice of games and more gamers and game devs being that voice.  If you are a game dev like me, get blogging and though I've be a "dev" technically for over 15 years, I'm not some amazing dev, I'm always improving and learning. Yes, the blogs that spawned a few years after this one became huge and yes, they love to blackball devs and gamers who go against their marketing campaigns or political agendas (things that have no place in this field) but your voice can matter.  Gamers still love it when a dev is open and honest about the hard work that it takes to make even a basic game. It might drown out the marketers who are only writing about games because it's a hot topic is just a feather in withered cap of journalism.

In the case of No Man's Sky, it was also much to the fault of it's director. So studios, indie or not, need to find that median between what they are delivering and representing it in a good promotional fashion to the gamers.  Basically, under promise, over deliver.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

So About Our Long Blog Post Hiatus...



Well... it's been some time.  Our last blog post (not including the previously sponsored one) was back 9 months ago in November.  Simply tons of things have happened in that time and it's about damn time to get this site (and the anime figure store) back in gear.  There is just too much going on not to talk about and with a number of anime, gaming and pop culture blogs/sites, most much younger than this site getting too much lime light (and some falling off the deep end of selling out)....I think it's about time we keep our hands game....or am I just talking to myself here?

Where the hell have we been? (wait, didn't I ask this in the last post?!?)

The last post talked about something that finally happened in the 16+ years I've been working a job and something sadly most of us today might never experience... 1) being treated like a human being and equal at the job 2) being in the field / job you wanted to.

To somewhat summarize..I was trying to get out of a dead end "web dev" job.  I almost did that with the anime figure business and voice acting when Hurricane Sandy wiped much of that away (well, much of the figure business that is; voice acting helped a bit after).  Since the late 90's and after many years of being told of how stupid I was for doing it by "professionals" in Computer Science, I was always looking to be a game / app developer.  The forever unfinished game Tenshi-Oni and the characters from it whom are the mascots of this site came from a flash game idea I started in 2003.   Then I moved to IOS native and almost got Tenshi-Oni rolling out on IOS in 2012; yet another victim of that storm's aftermath.  This later turned to Unity development.

With voice acting picking up and getting the honor to write my own published IOS development book, I somehow broke free from the IT recruiter purgatory and got a Unity developer job in NYC for a major production company.  They sadly were wolves in sheep's clothing and I actually flat out quit them for the sake of my sanity and to not give such terribly ran places the satisfaction of having developers at 1/4th the pay and 4x the workload/stress.   During that time, my anime figure store's php code got nerfed by some .htaccess hack that I to this day haven't had the chance to undo. (just frontend stuff, nothing else in terms of logins and whatnot)

There was a silver lining in me quitting as within that week I got scooped up by a smaller yet much more awesome group of developers in NYC who were in desperate need for a Unity developer who worked with game and particularly non game work; something I did exclusively for the few months I was with that horrid & vapid production company.  Working with non game applications in Unity was (and still kind of is) something almost nobody is doing so I instantly became a need asset for this and other companies.  This was ALL without the help from IT recruiters who now more than ever come to me with roles, to which I gladly say, "sorry, I'm taken."  It's seriously like relationships...the moment you are taken, people want you.

Speaking of relationships.  I started this site only a month before I met my fiancee Danielle in April of 2002 and we got engaged..get this.. Xmas eve 2007.  The various trials of life always kept the wedding and a chance to move on in life far away.  Thing is, in about 3 weeks, Danielle and I will be finally married...FINALLY!  The wedding ceremony was officially signed for back in January....near the beginning of this long blog hiatus.

Up until now, the Unity work was indeed rather grueling with any all nighters and weeks of crazy debugging and fixes.  The app was for an awesome famous beer company who made the process much easier to bare (unlike the jewelry client I had the misfortune to work with under that production company).

However, to think I've abandoned this blog, the site, the figure store, Tenshi-Oni and the voice acting you are completely wrong ^_^

This crazy 2016 year:

So... if there aren't many posts after the one.. soon after the wedding on Sept 10th and the much needed 2 week honeymoon vacation, we will be hard at work to get back to regular posts, finally get the store back up, back to Tenshi-Oni work and maybe upgrade the look and feel of our sites as well. (feeling very 2007 around here).

This year has been the most insane, eventful year I have ever witnessed in my almost 33 years alive; not just for me personally but in terms of public news and events.. from the insanity brought on by Pokemon GO last month, to the anime and gaming news, to the wonderful and much needed death of Gawker and to the explosion in new emerging tech.  There is just too much to talk about and we should have been talking about more.  The internet moves fast and forgets fast but as always, we are still here and will soon catch the next wave back into the fray.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Anime Invades Las Vegas




 Use anime on almost anything and it will become an instant hit due to its vast global appeal. Today its popularity has made it where our favorite series can be seen on clothes, shoes, bags, video games, and now, even slot machines in Las Vegas casinos.

 Anime is appreciated by both children and adults nowadays - the latter growing up watching Dragonball's Goku to Naruto. Now, it seems that anime's appeal has transcended to the grandest of casinos, as its artwork is being utilized as core themes on a slew of gaming machines. Even online slot machines have started incorporating anime. Spin Genie was one of the first portals to showcase the groundbreaking Koi Princess game which has garnered mainstream success among anime fans.

 Slot makers are even partnering up with triple-a game publishers to draw and animate character designs for slot machines in order to attract people who adore them. Konami, in particular, has created several titles with anime themes such as Pretty Devil and Sakura Lady. Perhaps it's only a matter of time until other video game companies follow Konami's lead, as the market for these kinds of games are huge. A quick glance at Play Store or iTunes' casino game genre and you’ll see just how many people play these kinds of games. And that's just the free-to-play games. Right now, apart from anime, there's an ongoing trend where slot machines are using commercially licensed themes from pop culture and superheroes from both Marvel and DC. For instance, the Superman slot is extremely cool given its animations and realistic sounds – a far cry from the traditional slot machines that only feature bars, 7s, and cherries on their reels. There's also a Star Trek slot machine now, which presents players with awesome graphics as well as snippets from classic Star Trek episodes whenever players hit the jackpot.

 It looks inevitable that we’ll see more anime-themed slots in the near future what with the popularity of the genre. What are your favorite anime titles? Let us know in the comments section below.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Where Have We Been Since July? Back from the Trial of Fire Known as 2015


Where Have We Been?

Ok, we have to come clear with some things.  It has been months since our last blogs posts.  With the prior post about supporting Kenneos on Patreon, we have come back from almost near silence since our last post in July!  Ironically, that blog post was about how not to make your job define you yet it was indeed my new job (and book) that caused the "hiatus".  It wasn't a true hiatus as I simply didn't have the time to do much of anything these past few months (and I'm actually not out of the woods yet).

So, what have I/we been doing?   Where the hell is the anime store?  Why are you using a picture of Saitama from One Punch Man as the header?

To explain, back in June of this year something finally happened and (I believe) we mentioned in our last post.  Basically I got a developer position with a major NYC studio.  For years I was working as a very very underpaid web developer for a semi-local camera store...nearly 9 years to the day that I finally left.  I used that job's mundane monotony to of course revive the site from stagnation that started in 2004 by starting this blog, running the anime business and beginning my own independent development work with our (seemingly forever unfinished) Tenshi-Oni game.  The camera job hardly let me do anything development wise, Hurricane Sandy wiped out my anime figure business's momentum and like Saitama here in episode 1, I was searching for work for a long time, stuck in a sad state of loss and numbness.  I had some programming jobs and even some well known game companies turn the other way either due to antiquated code tests or simply because of insane prerequisites.  Nearly 5+ years of time wasting, hope raising daily emails from practically useless spam-like IT recruiters did nothing.  My success as a business owner and skills in various fields that outdo most college grads meant nothing to them... and for some time, it was killing me.

It was back in April of this year that things started to finally break the status quo.  I got an interesting email from the good people  over at Packt Publishing.  They wanted me to write a programming book centered on IOS game development and in April I began the tough work of writing a programming book.  Not too long after that, I was emailed form the co-owner of that studio I mentioned before.  They were looking for Unity developers to join their team.  Interestingly enough, in November of 2014, shortly after publishing PikiPop, I taught myself Unity development.  My past code-centric training that began in 2001 with C++ made knowing Unity a breeze and I was confident I could have been of help to that studio.  It was that last blog post in July when I was already in the thick of things, working on projects for things such as The Late Show with Steven Colbert and some big business that oddly wanted boring boardroom garbage in VR apps.

There was a major problem with all of this that I couldn't mention until today...and that was the ridiculous hell that position put me through.  Here I was finally leaving that camera store web job, excited about what this could be for my future as a developer and for what the move could be for the site as well...and at the same time I'm writing a 200+ page IOS game dev book.  Problem was, this place didn't tell me my salary up front...something very sneaky; even more so when it's a studio with a shit ton of money and celebrity clients.  I ignored this red flag due to my years of struggling to get out of my past position and the heart break of what Hurricane Sandy did to the anime business that could have broke me free much sooner.  To the dismay of family and friends who warned me of the cryptic salary and expectations, I dove in and started that new position at the very start of June.

It goes without saying that with my book and this new job, my time for what remains of the store and this site was hampered.  I was working 5 days a week in NYC from about 9:00am until 6:00pm with a train that takes 2 hours to get to and from NYC.  My work day started at 6:45am and didn't end until about 9:00pm...and even then my bosses (all 4 of them) had me do work for them until 1 am from home.  Most weekends was me also working all day, doing web tasks that nobody seemed to know how to do with projects that weren't even my own.  I traded 1 depressingly computer illiterate boss for 4 horrendously developer illiterate & (mostly) computer illiterate bosses (half of them being bipolar).  I was put into a place of great pressure to perform, but at times oddly was given some great tools to work with (ie: they gave my personal Unity account full pro benefits)  Every day was both a kiss and a slap in the face.  It took almost two weeks in before I found my salary..and it wasn't even close to the ~$60K that junior Unity devs make...it was half. I was making almost exact to the previous camera job.  Ok, they did pay for my $400 monthly train ride and paid for lunch... but I always felt like I was being guilt tripped into it; yet people from MTV events and social media people at the place would just leech off the hours and relax while I struggled doing everything from web design to helping other people code their projects.  Add this and the fact that they were having an unpaid intern work 30+ hours a week on development projects and at times calling developers "crazy and you can see the motivation to that post I made in July about not making your job your identity.  That post was my realization that I jumped into a trap.

Not too long after that post, I began my own project...an insanely over exaggerated, rushed timeline app for a major diamond dealer.  It was utter hell, given 6 weeks to work on an app solely (well, originally by myself) with ever changing features for a client that didn't even know what an app was, while still being told to assist my coworker 40 hours a week.  It was enough to make a person go mad.  After the app eventually went past the deadline (was really only given 3 weeks to focus on it)  I got some extra time on it, with lovely bipolar scolding about how worthless I am to boot.

Thing is, I was doing stuff with Unity that nobody did before in time frames that would make any legit developer's head spin.  In reality, like Saitama here, I went through a trial by fire.  Out of it I realized I was indeed a legit programmer; able to solve problems that most programmers would throw the towel in for.  I also physically got stronger.  Despite the emotional distraught that job did (got nervous breakdowns that I haven't seen since I worked as a manager at Friendly's while in college 10+ years ago), I was physically getting stronger from the walking and train rides to and from NYC.  The horrible work environment was uncovering the programmer I truly am and molded my physical body back to my high school age.  Emotionally, the work was taking its toll and the client was making me see first hand some of the truth in some preconceived notions I had about NYC and what that city would deem as "successful" in certain "high ranking" individuals.  I was seeing NYC through eyes that sees nothing but garbage, stupidity and evil that is the real NYC and the real New York/Long Island workplace.

To the shock of many who didn't know my struggles, I quit that job...with the true colors of my past employer quickly showing in light of me finally standing up for myself.  As a business owner, author of a programming book and a fully realized programmer, it was my time to finally end the nearly 20 years of being a door mat by employers.  One would think that I would be happy to be free... but it was only a brief time of relief as the realization of the debt I still faced (and still do) was now looking at me straight in the face now.  What remains of my anime figure business and this site was not enough to survive.  So,in a panic I applied for a retail job at a Costco near my apartment and even managed to begin the training stages of a consultancy job I found through Flexjobs.com.  One week out of that last NYC job I was now having to wait for the processes of two jobs to come through and feel the grief of returning the the horrors of retail/food after a decade of being away from it.  At the same time we were losing my fiancee's grandmother to the complications of heart disease and age; soon to be the 4th grandparent we've lost since November of 2013.  As one can guess, things have not been great up to this point.  Yet, despite the despair and fear, I felt a sense of calm and a feeling that all will be ok now that now I'm free from the employers that bound me and hindered me from my goals all these years.... or maybe... I finally cracked.   It was what happened next that took me by surprise.

The week after I quit that NYC studio didn't give me time to rest nor did it grant me the ability to grieve over the fact that the woman who gave us an apartment to live in, my fiancee's grandmother, was on her death bed.  Recruiters were ruthless now that I came from a developer position.  The change to Unity last November was a blessing as it oddly gave me more credibility than my C++ and iOS native coding experience (skills that are more advanced than Unity honestly).  IT recruiters were on me like flies on shit and I was on the phone hours on end. I wanted to reboot the store and my own projects but was in the full time job known as ferrying IT recruiters and going through, again, mostly time wasting pre-interviews and questionieers.  I was on the verge of getting two low paid jobs (Costco and that social media consultancy) but they too had me wait and go through hoops.

Then, amongst all of the emails, Linkedin posts and calls was one LinkedIn message from a studio in NYC.  This wasn't some recruiter but one of the heads of the company.  Granted... this was the same scenario as what got me the job at that hellish the studio I quit; a company head messaging me directly on Linkedin.  Understandably, I was a bit hesitant at first.  I did the routine I have become so accustomed to, scheduling a call and preparing to tell my job situation now with the caveat of the recent Unity dev hell I went through.  To my surprise, the manager was really nice and they were a studio really looking for my exact skills, skills I came to learn are almost nowhere to be found...the ability to make non-game features / APIs in Unity (since Unity is a game engine).  That development hell made me a rare commodity in the programming world.  I found out from this person that I was ranked as the #1 person in the NYC area on LinkedIn for Unity development; my constant phone calls and emails were the result of this.  He hired me on the spot, at 2x the pay I was making at that last studio with the ability to work from home some days and via contract.  In other words, I'm still my own business owner but get to help a studio, a studio who this past month I've come to see really likes me and is just an amazing group of people to work with.  I work with other devs and for the first time in the 17 years I first started working a job, I felt like I am actually appreciated for my work and skills.  The hours up until x-mas eve were in some cases (due to the project) even worse than my last studio job... but I didn't care.  It makes me tear up in happiness thinking about it.  My first job was as a baseball umpire at 15 for my baseball league..I was told I didn't have what it takes.  My next job was a toy stocker at Kay Bee Toys during the x-mas of 2000 when the PS2 was launched...I was never told that I was seasonal.  The following role was that horrid job at Friendly's in April of 2001, the job that I found first hand how horrible people from my town were.  I was call a retard by people, treated like garbage and worked to the bone while in college.  In college I was doing computer science mainly with the goal to make videogames...I was told I was an idiot for not wanting to do CS for what it "really is for".  The hatred for the job at Friendly's made me join a network marketing group that I worked my ass off...only to come out as the only person willing to put in work and ending up $40,000 in debt.  After Friendly's I got a job at Office Max... and was told I was stupid by customers who thought I was "on speed" because I drink one energy drink in the day instead of the 10 cups of coffee most do.   I left Office Max to work at an eBay consignment job...that soon went out of business (though it did help the start of the anime store).  The next job in the summer of 2006 was that camera store "web dev" job... a job I was told I was useless in as well and got stuck in until June of this year.  Then finally that studio in NYC in June... where I was told I was a useless programmer.
As one can see, I've been stepped on for many years and now, now it's finally time I stand amidst the ruins of the past.  Not only has this job finally give me a sense of confidence and an eagerness to improve myself, it also helped start something that now finally is happening...the marriage to my other half who's been here since the site started in March/April of 2002.  On x-mas eve of 2007 I proposed to her but we stand still not married thanks to the myriad of events that tried to prevent it.  Now, we stand here with that date, September 10th, 2016.  The papers have been signed and we are getting ready for the wedding that should have happened so long ago.  I'm hoping this new studio will last for at least all of next year but even then., I know we will continue to stand stronger than ever before.

With this, it is now time to get back to the anime store, my voice acting and oh yes..the Tenshi-Oni game...


Where is the anime store?

In the middle of my development hell chaos there was a change in security measures for online stores and retail in general in the US.  Many of you probably got those surprise credit cards in the mail with the chips on them...yep, that security measure.  Well, we had to update the SSL of the site for the additional safety of the customers.  Granted, we don't keep any payment information on the store.  All of that is done on the site of Paypal, Amazon and Bitpay.  So the store was automatically taken down in absence of a new early enforced SSL certificate.  We got it back but the database connect is still off.  So, as we speak the anime store is still down but once we tidy up the SSL and reconnect the database (something we couldn't even focus on in the few months it's been down), the store will be back up.  In the mean time we will soon (I know, it's after x-mas) have a bunch of our new and old stock on the store on our Ebay and Amazon branches in the mean time.  The store is not gone and we have a number of really great figures on hand we need to move out before we even think of doing any more preorders, pre-orders going forward that unfortunately will have to have deposits due to a number of customers abusing our generous no-deposit preorders we've been doing since 2007 :-/.

Tenshi-Oni's Status...

It's the game that both won't ever die nor ever seem to come to life in a completed form.  It started in 2003 and almost became a full game on iOS back in 2012.  So many music artists in particular gave us music to use for the game... a number of people have waited and have gotten nothing in return.  I have promised Tenshi-Oni for many years and it is killing me that it keeps being stuck in limbo.

I'll use this to announce that in secret I've been rebuilding Tenshi-Oni in Unity.  With a combination of my vastly improved skills as a developer and the tools I have as a Unity pro developer... Tenshi Oni is back in production and it is planned to be greater than it ever was, being a "living AMV" 2.5D-side scrolling slashing bullet hell.  If any of you are following our other site, Anime.fm....you will get a hint of what we have on the development block.  I know I have sometimes bashed Kickstarter and other crowd funding platforms, but to help make this as close to looking like a AAA title as possible, I will make a prototype/tech demo as soon as possible and that will be used to promote a crowd funding campaign.  I want all artists who have helped us thus far (and others we plan to contract along the way) to get compensated in what can be a really great game if my vision is brought to the numerous platforms Unity can export to.  AMVs were what got this site on the map back when internet fame wasn't even a thing and it could be AMVs that inspire a major part of the gameplay in this game.  After working in production studios as one of the lead developer in numerous current gen projects, I could very well make Tenshi-Oni something far beyond the amateur iOS build it was a few years ago.

I don't want to jinx myself again with that game so we will only post new Tenshi-Oni status when there is more to show...but it is being reworked into Unity.  Like Saitama, it was through the pain of extensive training that has brought us back from the brink.

Here's to a bright new future in 2016.  It had a long time coming.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Support Kenneos on Patreon! ^.^ (https://www.patreon.com/kenneos)



@Kenneos is one of the artists who made our site, anime store and Tenshi-Oni art come to life.  The banner you've seen for years on our pages has been thanks to her and artists like her.  We are happy to announce that she now has a Patreon page for you all to support.

Go check out her Patreon page at https://www.patreon.com/kenneos

In due time we will also have our Patreon page all set up as well (once we get an idea which of the many creative tasks we can make worthwhile for Patrons ^^;;)  Make sure to give her some support or at the very least follow her page.  It's thanks to her and a number of our fan artists that help us keep this site going after almost 14 years now.


Sunday, July 5, 2015

Remember What Defines You and Never Let that Be A Job


Hey everyone, a bit of an odd post (with a tad bit of title porn), but I thought it was a good time to give an update as the site, figure store and blog here probably deserves one.

Remember that rather long term situation I've dealt with? You know, the 8+ years of working at an underpaid web dev job while trying to bring this anime site, the store and indie game development into my main 9-5 workflow?   Well, a few months ago that finally changed.  Not sure what happened...hell froze over? the Cubs won? there was a glitch in the matrix?  Yamcha didn't die in a DBZ fight?

What ever it was, a few months ago I got an interesting message from a site I all but thrown out as anything to care about, LinkedIn.  Despite getting some success with voice acting, publishing the PikiPop game, getting into podcasting, Let's Playing and returning to the forever forgotten project, Tenshi-Oni...I've basically thrown out any seriousness I took from recruiters and contacts from job/ project sites.  After dealing with IT recruiters for so long I learned quickly how much of a waste of time they are.  They come at you with arms flailing, saying you'd be the "perfect fit", waste your time and phone minutes doing an "interview" while never letting you talk to their client's (the job potentially at hand) and simply forgetting you exist after they take your email and phone for their quotas.  Even after I mention this interesting news....any of you going through the trials of IT/programmer recruiters...due take note of the scam artists many of them are.  Just build your own projects first and don't let them waste time you could be using to complete such projects.

Anyways, a few months ago I got an amazing email from a publisher in the UK.  The offer to author an IOS game development book.  For the past few months I've been working on that book.  More on it in a future post as I'm now half way done with that...but it's partially why we've been a bit weak with the updates and figure listing posts around here.  A little over a month ago, as said before I got what I never thought I'd see from LinkedIn, an interview invite.  Not some recruiter, not some test of a test of a test to have an interview.  A flat out, "hey, we think you could be a fit, come to the office for an interview."

With in a few weeks, here I am now working as a developer in NYC for that said company.  The underpaid camera store web dev job is over!  I'm now a full fledged pro Unity dev and am working with some cool stuff for some big clients...mainly in the realm of non-game VR experiences.  Stuff I'm still trying to get better at as I'm more of a game dev in the traditional coding sense and Unity is also still a newer platform for me.

So, does this mean this is the end of the anime site, the anime figure store and Tenshi-Oni or my own game dev projects?  Quite the opposite.  First off, the reason why I submitted my ego to the 9-5 job (when I'm obviously more fit for just running my own ship), is because sadly, past events outside of my control ruined my original run to have that life people like YouTube celebs, indie game devs and anime hobbyists have where their online sites/stores/activities pay for their lives.  I almost did it but (as seen in a past post, a certain "Sandy" storm ruined that).  I don't come from wealth like some of those people do whom can stand on such a platform and just grow it...so, like the rest of us I have to work a crap job that pays the bills; hence the camera store "web dev" job I had for all this time.

This new position is very great, I do like it and I even got to see some celebrities we get to work with in NYC.  My long train ride is taken care of and I get to eat some good sushi during lunch.  But... I came to know something about myself and I'm certain some of you might have gone through the same.  As great as this job is, as much as I've fought to get it and as much I've dealt with in the past, I wasn't prepared for the shell shock coming out of my comfort zone was.  In some ways I reverted back to my personality of my high school years (mind you I graduated high school in 2002, so it's been some time).  Much of the professionalism, personality fixes and all got reverted back to the subservient mentality that honestly doesn't help me in the new job or anywhere else in general.

I do love the job, I have awesome new coworkers and all but I can not forget my goal of this,  to utilize the job as a stepping stone for my true goals and dreams.  The shock of a new work environment is finally starting to fade away and as soon as I finish the game dev book, we shall be back to normal here.  Actually, I hope to bring things back to pre Hurricane Sandy times as I realized that it is indeed anime, video games, game dev and this site (and the sister sites) that I love.  I probably won't be truly happy until my fiancee and I are married, living in our own home (not an apartment) and we are surrounded by these hobbies and the work we can and have done in them.

The past job was not helping that overall goal and this one hopefully will.  It will still be a challenge until that day of true freedom comes but be it a great new job or an old job...don't let that position make you forget who you are and the hobbies you love.  Sometimes the work obligations and such live changes in general could make us almost forget or feel guilty for liking our hobbies...but don't do that.  Don't let a job (good or bad) change who you are.  Always make sure your goal is to do what you love ALL days so that you'd never work a day in your life.  There's still some work for me to do but now I believe I have a better vehicle with the new job to do that.

After this busy month, there should be some new stuff on the horizon here and in general for the site.  No matter what life throws at us, we won't forget who we are..and hell, there's new Dragon Ball episodes, news Sailor Moon and Final Fantasy VII is getting a damn remake!

There's so much to miss by forgetting who you are and what you love, so, we are still here ^_^.
 
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