January 2016

Month Archives

The 2016 BSRTC PRO Series’ Video Game Teams Sponsorship Plan

BSRTC PRO Series, Other

 

2016/03/16 22:59:59
To Season Launch

Team Sponsors Onboard

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1.      Introduction

 

Following the success of its biggest season yet – Season Nine that spanned 35 weeks from 19th March, 2015 to 3rd December 2015, featured 50 Drivers, 11 teams, a $10,000 prize fund and a MotorsTV broadcast – the BSRTC PRO Series is already looking to outdo itself this year.

Having recently received IRacing’s support & sponsorship that brings with it 130 hours worth of Motors TV International broadcasts over Season 10, as announced here, the British Sim Racers are now looking to increase its prize fund in keeping with the increasingly large number of drivers entering their names for the season. It hopes to facilitate this via a more rigid Team Sponsorship structure as opposed to the previous year.

In observance of the response Higher Eclectic Ground has received from its independent video game community over the final month of the season – wherein its members were granted the opportunity to sponsor a driver for a race for a small fee and advertise their games during the races’ livestreams and televisions broadcasts – it proposes to create a stronger sim-racing based platform for independent developers to market and showcase their games over 2016.

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READ: A quick overview of the coverage received by our Community’s Independent Game creators during last season’s race broadcasts.

This platform will have the BSRTC PRO Series’ quality racing at its core while involving established mainstream Video Game entities such as publishers and news outlets as sponsors of racing teams within the Series. The purpose behind this is to attract a larger more varied Video Gaming audience that is not confined to the sim-racing population of IRacing alone.

A larger, varied Video Gaming audience will in turn facilitate the metamorphosis of the BSRTC PRO Series into a widely recognized video gaming event – allowing greater exposure and incentive for the indie game community to debut its creations and avail of exposure like never before.

In accordance with this vision, the BSRTC PRO Series has laid out a format for its 2016 season through the course of this document – detailing sponsorship fees and subsequent splitting of the prize fund.

 

2.      General Season Structure.

 

Season 10 of the BSRTC PRO Series will span 35 weeks from the 17th of March, 2016 to the 8th of December, 2016.

Competing, will be 13 teams of 3 drivers and 2 reserves each. These reserve drivers will be utilized in the absence of either of the primary 3 drivers, in the event of a team race or a race grid that allows for more than 3 drivers per team in general.

Over 40 Drivers have already specified their interest in racing over the next season, by making an initial entry payment of $30. These drivers will now be classified as PRO(Professionals) or AM(Amateurs) by the BSRTC’s administration based on past seasons’ qualification and race performances.

The drivers will now be segregated into 13 teams – each of which can be either a PRO team or an AM team. A PRO team will consist of no AM drivers while an AM team may consist of one PRO driver.

Each of these teams will be competing for their respective shares of a $20,000 prize fund – twice as that of the BSRTC PRO Series’ previous season. Just as last time, this prize fund will be split among the season’s various winners as per a pre-determined structure listed below –


PRO Team Championship Winners.

1st place – $6,000

2nd place – $3,000

3rd place – $1,500

AM Team Championship Winners.

1st place – $3,000

2nd place – $2,00022923874426_c24625e570_h

PRO Drivers’ Championship Winners.

1st place – $2,000

2nd place – $700

3rd place – $300

AM Drivers’ Championship Winner.

1st place – $1, 000

Safest Driver Award.

$500

Total = $20,000

This prize money will be accumulated from –

  • The Drivers’ fees of $8 per race meet.
  • Team Sponsors.

While the event will be commentated and broadcast by ApexRacing TV on YouTube and IRacing Live as the previous season, highlights of the races will also be featured on MotorsTV International over 45 episodes with 2 repeats each that comes with the series’ IRacing title sponsorship.

 

3.      Sponsorship Structure.

 

Sponsorship opportunities have been made flexible to allow for ventures of varying budgets to gain coverage in the best way possible.12510245_1539013593078409_8334005933808583871_n

 

3.1    The BSRTC PRO Series Championship Title Sponsor.

 

The title sponsorship package has been picked up by IRacing themselves, granting them the privilege of having their name associated with Season 10 of the BSRTC PRO Series in all media and communications namely –

  1. TV, Youtube and IRacing broadcasts where their name and logo will be displayed on the race overlay at all times.
  2. Mentions by the commentary team each time the Championship is introduced during the broadcast.
  3. Social media posts that will be made by both the BSRTC and the Higher Eclectic Ground community in relation to the PRO Series’ tenth season.
  4. Subsequent magazine articles in relation to the PRO Series’ 10th season including the Season 9 review that is scheduled to be written for Sim Racer magazine by Higher Eclectic Ground.

 

 

3.2    Full Team Sponsorships – Intended for mainstream video game entities (Established Gaming News websites, Publishers, Gaming Hardware companies).

 

Every team sponsor will be granted the opportunity to sponsor either a PRO/AM team alone or a PRO and AM team together for a full season. Due to the competitive nature of the series, every team is likely to have at least one high profile driver ensuring all sponsors obtain adequate and equal coverage.

Sponsors attain naming as well as vehicle livery rights over their respective teams although the degree to which they can control their teams’ liveries will be dependent on the sponsor packages they opt for. The available packages and their provisions are listed below.


12644733_1559761791014056_2159474836224326746_nThe £500 or $760 package – Sponsor One PRO or One AM Team for a Full Season.
  • To be paid once at the start of the season.
  • Grants sponsors a PRO team or AM team for the full season. The BSRTC’s administration will assign an existing team of 3 full plus 2 reserve drivers to the sponsors unless they wish to sponsor a pre-determined team.
  • Grants sponsors a team livery that will either be designed by the Sponsors themselves as per a template determined by the BSRTC or by the BSRTC itself, as per the Sponsors’ requirements.
  • The liveries of the vehicles however will have to leave space on the roof and sides of the car to allow for Per Race Driver/Team sponsors (Explained in the next section) to advertise their games/products over the course of the season on a driver’s or team’s vehicles.
The £800 or $1,210 package – Sponsor Both a PRO and an AM Team for a Full Season.
  • To be paid once at the start of the season.
  • Grants sponsors both, a PRO team and an AM team for the full
    season
    . The BSRTC’s administration will assign existing teams of 3 full plus 2 reserve drivers to the sponsors unless they wish to sponsor pre-determined teams.
  • Grants sponsors a team livery that will either be designed by the Sponsors themselves as per a template determined by the BSRTC or by the BSRTC itself, as per the Sponsors’ requirements.
  • The liveries of the vehicles however will have to leave space on the roof and sides of the car to allow for Per Race Driver/Team sponsors (Explained in the next section) to advertise their games/products over the course of the season on a driver’s or team’s vehicles.
The £1,000 or $1,520 package – Sponsor One PRO or One AM Team with Full Livery Control for a Full Season.
  • To be paid once at the start of the season.
  • Grants sponsors a PRO team or an AM team for the full season. The BSRTC’s administration will assign an existing team of 3 full plus 2 reserve drivers to the sponsors unless they wish to sponsor a pre-determined team.
  • Grants sponsors a team livery that will either be designed by the Sponsors themselves as per a template determined by the BSRTC or by the BSRTC itself, as per the Sponsors’ requirements.
  • Grants sponsors complete control over the sides and roofs of cars.
The £1,500 or $2,280 package – Sponsor Both a PRO and an AM Team with Full Livery Control for a Full Season.
  • To be paid once at the start of the season.
  • Grants sponsors both, a PRO team and an AM team for the full season. The BSRTC’s administration will assign existing teams of 3 full plus 2 reserve drivers to the sponsors unless they wish to sponsor pre-determined teams.
  • Grants sponsors a team livery that will either be designed by the Sponsors themselves as per a template determined by the BSRTC or by the BSRTC itself, as per the Sponsors’ requirements.
  • Grants sponsors complete control over the sides and roofs of cars.

Note that the BSRTC’s livery template will also specify the amount of space that needs to be left on the sides and roof of a vehicle.

 

 

3.3    Per Race Driver/Team Sponsorships – Intended For Higher Eclectic Ground’s Independent Game Developers & Other Members During The Course Of The Season.

 

The £5 per race package – One Car Roof Spot for One Race:BSRTC-Showdown-Sean

Payable on a per-race meeting basis (one meeting equals three races), this package grants a sponsor a spot on a single driver’s roof for the duration of one race – over which a logo of their game/company can be advertised.

The £12 per race package – Full Team Roof Spot for One Race:

Payable on a per-race basis (one meeting equals three races), this package grants a sponsor a spot on the roofs of each of the vehicles of a team of 3 full time drivers plus 2 reserves for the duration of one race – over which a logo of their game/company can be advertised.

The £10 per race package – One Car Side Panel Spot for One Race:

Payable on a per-race basis (one meeting equals three races), this package grants a sponsor a spot on a single driver’s side panel for the duration of one race – over which a logo of their game/company can be advertised.

The £25 per race package: – Full Team Side Panel Spot for One Race:

Payable on a per-race basis (one meeting equals three races), this package grants a sponsor a spot on the side panels of a team of 3 full time drivers plus 2 reserves for the duration of a race – over which a logo of their game/company can be advertised.

The aim, is to have mainstream Video game establishments sponsor full teams via either of the Full Team packages listed above for an entire season, while Independent game developers & other members from the Higher Eclectic Ground community will advertise their games on car roofs via the Per race driver/team sponsorship packages.

Additionally, the ad slots for independent developers and television pop-ups will return – preserving the sim-racing event’s vision as a platform for video game exposure.

 

4.      Deadline.

 

There is no deadline to announce one’s interest in participating as Racing Team sponsors; Accommodations can be made mid-season as well provided there are sufficient slots available. To do, simply leave us a message via our Contact Form.  The Per Race Driver/Team sponsorships of course, can be availed of at any time during the season.

The BSRTC PRO Series is a long time partner of the Higher Eclectic Ground community, with us even providing the sim-racing community with weekly race reports of the series. To learn more, drop by their Partner’s Page.

BSRTC PRO Series Biography Now Available on Sim Racer

BSRTC PRO Series, News

Released on the 25th of this month, Sim Racer Magazine‘s first issue of the year now features an elaborate, never-seen-before biography of the British Sim Racers & their increasingly popular, BSRTC PRO Series Touring Car Championship on IRacing — as written by us at Higher Eclectic Ground back in October, 2015.

This biography of course, arrives exactly a week after BSR made one of its grandest announcements in the midst of its on-going Winter Series’ race at Silverstone last week — IRacing has picked up the official title sponsorship of the upcoming, tenth season of the BSRTC PRO Series scheduled to launch later in March this year. This is in addition the the Series’ being granted 45 episodes on Motors TV International, with 2 repeats each,  garnering it 130 hours of International Television time for the upcoming season.


 

Founded in 2013 by IRacing enthusiasts Kip Stephens and Steve Richardson, the BSRTC PRO Series became the simulation racing service’s first user-created, professional-grade Touring Car championship to grace the households of real-world motorsport fans via Motors TV  last year. The television broadcasts arrived halfway through the Series’ ninth season — one that for the first time, featured 50 talent sim-racers & 11 teams compete for a slice from a $10,000 prize pot.

Higher Eclectic Ground’s affiliation with the Series began in October of the same year via a mutual acquaintance — long time BSR member Tristan Boddice Ratsnacker — with us constructing an inside look at the BSRTC PRO Series’ rise from a falling out with Pitlanes.com‘s founders within IRacing’s UK & Ireland community, to what is now clearly a true-to-life Video Game experience vouched by the likes of real world racers such as BTCC Team BMR’s 2015 Clio Cup UK Champion Ash Sutton and Simpit legend Shaun Cole.

This affiliation quickly grew into a partnership, with us not only delivering exclusive weekly race reports to the sim-racing community but also for the first time in independent video game history — offering our member independent game developers & talent the opportunity to uniquely advertise their creations during the races’ Apex Racing TV live streams & television broadcasts.

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A preview of the Sim Racer Magazine issue.

Now as the Series gears up for its largest, most eventful Season yet — Higher Eclectic Ground continues to work with the Series, as it has been for last few months, to help turn it into a more widely recognized, mainstream Video Game event that transcends sim-racing barriers. All of this of course, in recognition of the Series’ potential as a platform for independent Video Game talent.

Stay tuned for announcements & more on the same as we head into February. Till then, if you’ve picked up an issue of Sim Racer Magazine’s latest issue via their portal and read our biography of the Series — be sure to let us know how you enjoyed it. To learn more of the BSRTC PRO Series, catch last season’s races & our coverage on the same, feel free to drop by their Partners’ page.

Tenebrae: Twilight Of The Gods’ Xbox One Release Confirmed

News

After a little over a year since founding, several months of development ridden with concept art, teasers & trailers, a full-blown Square Enix Collective campaign and now, a month’s tenure under the radar — members Troglobytes Games’ first outing as a team, a 2.5D procedurally generated Action/Adventure RPG by the name of Tenebrae: Twilight of The Gods is now set to arrive on the Xbox One console beside its scheduled PC release.

Despite having alluded to a release on Microsoft’s popular console ever since the game’s inception both on and off record, the team have understandably steered clear from discussing the subject for months now until a solid confirmation from the technology corporation was received. The console port of course, is being made possible by the ID@Xbox program that lets independent game developers self-publish titles on the platform by providing them with access to its development kits.

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‘ The vision shared by all of us here at Troglobytes Games is to reinvent and redefine the Metroidvania genre, giving players our take on it with all the makings of a modern game-play experience’, stated Community member and Troglobytes’ Lead Programmer and Tech. Artist Luciano Iurino in a press release issued last night. ‘We’ve been waiting for a chance  to develop on major consoles for a long time and now thanks to the ID@Xbox program — we can now reach that goal’.

The news comes exactly six weeks post the game’s 28 days Square Enix Collective campaign — an initiative by the publisher that lets indie game developers pitch their game amidst an audience for the aforementioned period of time, before deciding if the game is worth supporting through a crowd funding stage based on observed user feedback and internal assessment. The campaign had ended on a high; with Tenebrae being upvoted by 89% of Collective’s audience base that had viewed the game’s pitch.

However despite that, the Troglobytes team have received little to no word on their game’s status within the Square Enix circle yet; it is worth noting that only 10-12 games a year make it to the next round of the Collective campaign as per its website. ‘Honestly, we don’t really know what is going on — things have been rather silent on that front’, confided Iurino when asked about the campaign’s status. ‘Regardless of support and/or funding, we’ll continue to develop Tenebrae — we wouldn’t have started it all otherwise. Sure, any help or support received along the way is always great but should it happen that we have to develop Tenebrae without it? We still will.’

undeadScreenshot

With the Xbox One system now added to that definite release, could one expect to see added/enhanced game-play elements exclusive to the console? ‘Tenebrae isn’t really a game that would gain something different based on the console itself since it does not use any particular feature specific of a platform — like for instance, Kinect’, Iurino explains in response. ‘As of now, it’s just a matter of spreading the game on every possible platform.

Followers of the game here on the Community might also recall  that Tenebrae puts players in the shoes of two main characters on an epic journey set in dark and mysterious dungeons — letting them play the game from two refreshingly different points of view, each with different combat-styles and abilities that lead to their own thought-provoking endings. Given that, Iurino quickly cleared away all expectations of a potential online multiplayer or local co-op mode, reinstating that Tenebrae is heavily story based — ‘Players will have to play both of the characters by themselves, separately; playing both will give them a different point of view on the story. As for multiplayer? We do have plans for other games in our future :)’

With that aside, the team are now gearing up to get back into action on social media — with a barrage of updates featuring improved environments and more that have taken shape in the weeks since the Collective. That is, not forgetting our exclusive interview with the team set to arrive soon, responses to which were held back on until the Xbox One announcement. What’s more, Iurino also hints at the possibility of involving other Community members — Writers & YouTubers — in the game’s development as it gears up for a release later this year. To stay tuned to all that transpires then and even catch an informative glimpse at various aspects of Tenebrae’s structure as shared by the team during their Collective days, be sure to stop by their Higher Eclectic Space.

 

 

Also feel free to leave them a word of encouragement in the comments below.

The Sonic Boom; A Channel Re-Launch

News

This week saw our community PS4 GameTuber Zack Swader alias Sonic_X49 take to his YouTube channel to make a special video announcement – after 2 years in the running, the Sonic_X49 Channel was getting a relaunch.

The last few weeks have had Swader’s videos gaining a significant number of views than before, for which he extends his gratitude to the Community’s members for its support. His affiliation with Higher Eclectic Ground began in December last year with the intention of widening his viewer base and since then, we’ve showcased videos ranging from the Apex Online Racing Project CARS U.S GT3 Elite Series which he’s been a participant of, to headset reviews & impromptu fun. It’s interesting to note that the Sonic_X49 Channel had once begun with Swader pointing a camera at his TV Screen to shoot videos until the PS4’s Sharing feature arrived.

He seemed particularly thankful of Craig Evans – founder of independent music label and long time community partner, Isle of Bass. The Isle of Bass will now also be officially sponsoring the Sonic_X49 channel, by being the official provider of background tracks in Swader’s videos. This is not the first time the Isle of Bass has picked up sponsorship of Gaming Channels, having done so recently with community member & PlayStation 4 writer/streamer Mike Blundells blog & gaming channel, Mike’s Pad.

‘We’re happy to be sponsoring Zack!’, explained Evans when asked about Isle of Bass’ new-found interest in sponsoring Gaming channels. ‘IOB is always happy to help people out by providing them with music to fit their needs. Hopefully this partnership will help add to Zack’s channel and give him further creative motivation for future work!’ Besides satisfying his EDM fetish, the sponsorship will also aid Swader in avoiding any copyright issues that might crop up from his extensive us of third-party music.

Community readers might remember the mention of Swader’s new Channel avatar in member Digital Artist Kevin Andrews’ recent project announcement, A Tryst With The Humanoid. It is the very same Andrews that Swader alludes to throughout the course of his Channel relaunch video.

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Subject_X49, Swader’s Avatar’s first draft from Andrews’ archive.

Unfortunately, the re-launch also brings with it the cancellation of the aforementioned Apex Online Racing Project CARS series. With Swader’s inability to switch camera angles in-game while maintaining competition and glitches breaking the ability to record suitable replays post-race, Zack had come to realize the resultant quality of the videos were far from that of what he’s striving to bring about in his current work; a point our staff had put forward in the past as well.

Regardless, it’s a big year ahead and Zack has big plans too – he promises a significant improvement in quality in the upcoming videos. While as of now he’s only pursuing making YouTube videos as a hobby, he still maintains that he strives for quality material, stating that if monetization comes along with it, it would as an added bonus. As always, one can always keep track of how that unfolds, view his prior work, pair up with him, or send in review or channel requests via his Higher Eclectic Space here on the community.

Also feel free to leave him your thoughts on his work in the comments below.

Isle of Bass’ January: The Voice of Kathryn MacLean

Features

One of our oldest partnerships is that with the Isle of Bass, an independent music label covering genres spanning DnB, dubstep and electro, with an ideology similar to that of ours – to showcase independent talent in need of appreciation. Founded in 2012 by music enthusiasts Craig Evans and Grant MacDonald, the Isle of Bass has garnered an audience of over 10,000 across social media, and featured almost 500 artists to date.

The collaboration began with this Video Game Community’s best interests in mind – the Isle of Bass would provide the Community’s game developers and game related media creators with access to unique indie music talent, to help with tasks from composing original background scores to simply providing royalty free music for use in YouTube videos and Game trailers.

Over the two months since, the collaboration has brought the community tracks by one EDM musician Ghost With Paranoia and Acid Jazz musician Tanko. This year however, we kicked things off with a vocalist, Kathryn MacLean, as a breath of fresh air and boy, was it a fun month!

Evans put us in touch with MacLean, a Scottish singer-songwriter and definitely no stranger to the underground music scene. She’d already lent her voice to countless tracks prior making selecting her top four tracks to be featured during the month, quite the task. Regardless, as her tenure on the Community as an Isle of Bass featured artist came to an end earlier this week, we thought it best to give you a quick rundown of her showcased creations thus far.

Vendetta
A track by Dead:Lung, a Malvern based dubstep producer, was chosen as her first. An electronic track infused with melodic 8-bit sounds, she also wrote the lyrics on this one.

 

 

Fire
Electro-Light and Ragequit’s ‘Fire’ was the follow-up track; a fast paced tune with a ‘chill’ drop, and some great melodic work by Ragequit.

 

 


What Could Have Been
An energetic electro house collaboration between MacLean and EDM producer Aerodynamic.

 


 

The Edge
An EDM track, again by Electro-Light, that MacLean had recorded vocals for. It was the first track she had a hand in — that reached a million views.

 


 

Kathryn’s vocals give every track a unique twist!’, explains Evans when asked about his experiences working with MacLean under the label. ’I’ve been sent music before, listened to it and immediately thought “I know that voice” and it turns out to be hers. It is just a shame that she isn’t always credited correctly for the work that she does. I hope one day that vocals is something she can do full time as it is something she is excellent at!’

MacLean’s Higher Eclectic Space of course will continue to exist, meaning should any of our members wish to use her voice in any of her creations – a quick overview of her work, social media profiles and contact details can be accessed via said Space.

In the meantime, Evans tells us that he’s hard at work on singling out the Isle of Bass’ next artist to be showcased within the community for February. When asked for a hint of what’s coming up, he teased, ‘Quite possibly House music with lush vocals or the deep dark side of Dubstep!’

As always, to keep in tune with how that develops, learn more of the Isle of Bass, prior artists and even get in touch with them, drop by their Partner’s page.

Member Toby Burn Crosses 100 Subscribers On YT Channel ‘Gaming Now’

News

Nearly 2 years, 142 videos and 17,909 views later — Community member Toby Burn’s Multi-Gaming Console based YouTube channel, ‘Gaming Now’ achieved its first ever grand milestone in the form of 100 subscribers earlier this week. In celebration, the UK based streamer issued a quick montage of his time on the Channel thus far as seen below.

 

‘It’s been an interesting one!’, says he when asked about his journey thus far. ‘I’ve enjoyed all the projects I’ve done by myself and with others — I’ve enjoyed every minute of every video I’ve done. I need to thank everyone who helped along the way. I couldn’t have done it without them! :)’

Since its inception on July 10th, 2013, Gaming Now has catered to a wide variety of video gamers over the years — churning out videos and content on mainstream hits and offbeat instalments alone or with a group of like minded, guffawing online collaborators inclusive of community YouTubers Evanzo7 and Sonic_X49What’s interesting is that Burn had previously dabbled in running a multitude of other Gaming Channels prior to Gaming Now — but had failed to have them grow as per his vision due to lack of proper equipment, time or sufficient motivation.

When asked what his plans were for the future, he states — ‘To get to the next 100! Of course, with a lot, lot more variation in content along the way.’ Despite only two of the Channel’s videos being featured on the Community since his joining, it is worth checking out his prior body of work from over the years — inclusive of which is an ongoing Bully series as well.

 

As the others, Burn is constantly looking for Gamers & YouTubers based on the PS4, Xbox One and PC to collaborate with — and is also always open to any video requests and channels from other members; one of the forthcoming videos on his agenda is that of him playing RAM BOE, an indie puzzle game developed by Community members PointFive Team, in an act of raising awareness towards its Steam Greenlight campaign. To stay tuned to how that progresses, track his work or even get in touch with him — feel free to drop him a comment below, via any of his posts or the e-mail address listed on his Higher Eclectic Space.

Starr Mazer Still Cooking; Prequel DSP First Look

Features

22nd January, 2016. Exactly a year has passed since Imagos Softworks, the extraordinarily retro-obssessed pizza-eating ensemble led by movie writer & director Don Thacker, took to Kickstarter to pitch what they called Starr Mazer;  a point & click, shoot ’em up classic of their own, replete with the art, music, action, fun and a storyline reminiscent of the retro games they seemed to have grown up on and yet infused with modern-day gameplay standards. ‘Nostalgia in HD’, as they called it.

Retro-obsessed would be an understatement, given that a quick look at their Kickstarter page today would light up a dark room like a bonfire — with all its glorious, flashing pixelated art; The campaign was a success, amassing nearly $194,000 on its $160,000 goal at its end, leading the team to retreat into a brief period of founding development, before pulling the cloth off an intriguing little pre-alpha build at PAX Prime while announcing a Spring 2016 release.

 

 

By the end of September — they were here on the Ground, marking the first time us or anyone on the Community on the matter had had their tops blown off by the pompadour wielding Brick M.(Metal) Stonewood; an ancient mercenary who, after having been found drifting aimlessly in sleep-lock as a direct consequence of his participation in THE GREAT WAR as a DSP Mk.II pilot,  is revived with absolutely no memory or recollection of his past. The very same Stonewood who, equipped with nothing but his trusty ceramic-steel Starr Wolf airship, a blaster and a few packets of cigarettes, sets out on a brutal 1980’s shoot ’em up outing blended seamlessly into a point n’ click world, to uncover his past.

The weeks after saw the team bring us more — insight into the game’s Open-Middled game-play that brings unpredictability to the various story modules resulting in multiple endings, insight into innovative new software being created for the game’s development, competitions, music & a barrage of weekly Twitch streams.  Out of nowhere, a prequel named Starr Mazer: DSP was announced — developed by PixelJam Games in association with Imagos and scheduled for a pre-Starr Mazer release. As concept art continued to take shape away from the limelight and the wikis fleshed, the team momentarily broke from the usual hubbub to push out the offbeat interactive media experience, ‘Melissa: A Game of Choice’ for Ludum Dare 34.

 

 

A few more snippets from events, a bit more art and as of yesterday, a Synthwave infected game-play preview that stood to depict vast difference from the original pre-alpha prototype from 4 months ago. Soon after though, Imagos Community Manager Kazuo Mayeda got in touch with more; not only was a preview of DSP ready to go live, but also Starr Mazer’s release had been pushed back to Q3/Q4 of this year.

What? Why? ‘Well’, stated he, ‘This turkey needs a little more time to cook before it is perfect.’ As we drafted an announcement on said Turkey, we watched the same go live on the game’s Kickstarter page and elsewhere; safe to say, with so much happening in conjunction with Starr, a few even seemed perplexed on hearing the word ‘prequel’.

Admittedly, the Community here at Higher Eclectic Ground would have shared much of the same perplexity had we put up the announcement of the delay with first-look GIF’s from the prequel DSP. You see much as Community posts raved about the game, much as members or any occasional visitor on either of the Ground’s social media pages liked, shared or ogled at a game-play snippet here or an image there — we could tell a large part of them were largely disconnected from what was really going on with Mazer.

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 Which we believed was far, far less than it rightfully deserved; hence is why the primary half of this article has served to bring members up to speed with everything Starr Mazer from the dawn of time (Almost. Nearly. Yet sufficient) — before an onslaught of all that is currently happening and in store for Mr. Stonewood over the course of this year was brought on.

And so, the delay. What goes on in the interim? Ardent followers of the game on the Community might recall an uber-cool GIF posted around about the 30th of December (seen above), that put on display the remodelling of one of the game’s prominent bosses — a space-trash eating, asteroid mining…thing called the Scutbot. Readers might also remember the remodelling being attributed to Kirk Barnett, who was in fact the team’s newest addition brought in to assist Art Director Maximo Lorenzo.

Barnett will now be assisting Lorenzo — who himself has spent the latter part of last year developing concept art for various aspects of the Starr Mazer world and populace. Kirk’s current role of course, involves fleshing out several of those pieces of concept art into living, breathing, pixel animations. Furthermore, besides working on the newly iterated UI Design, reactive portraits and enemy turrets that were showcased in yesterday’s gameplay snippet, Lead Developer Auston Montville will be fleshing out the Shoot ‘Em Up tools portion of his very own Mazer Maker.

The Mazer Maker, previewed within the Ground on the 31st of October, is a Mario Maker inspired game creation and publishing tool in development for Starr Mazer’s developers and writers, that allows them to create and modify their own levels within the game via a simple drag and drop interface. While last year saw Montville add elements to the Maker that would simplify the development of the game’s PNC portion, tools for the SHMUP portion are currently being added in at full steam.

 

In conversation, the team admits that the main reason behind Starr Mazer’s incurred delay is in fact the Mazer Maker’s progressive development; what began as but an idea to aid the team’s progress has now turned into a full-fledged tool crucial to the game’s development. Without the Mazer Maker up and running in full force, development stalls — which is where Starr Mazer: DSP, the prequel comes in.

As illustrated by Don Thacker in December , while the core of Starr Mazer developed over the earlier half of last year — the team’s game-play programmer Miles Tillman of Pixeljam Games had very little to do and loads of spare time, which he put to use by creating a whole new shooter using Starr Mazer’s assets. One thing led to another and before anyone knew it, the team were calling it Starr Mazer’s prequel — DSP.

 

Set to release earlier than Starr Mazer for the PC, Mac, Linux and mobile devices, the prequel will put players in the shoes of DSP Mk.I pilots — from the generation that preceded the likes of Stonewood — in the midst of THE GREAT WAR. ‘Players will play as many pilots this time around’, explains Mayeda. ‘Each with their own set of skills.’

Said pilots will generate dynamically — each harnessing what is known as DSP Core, a technology that apparently allows mismatched equipment to work together (read custom tuned space-ships) — as they attempt to survive and withstand the enemy long enough for their partners to make it through. While Thacker directs the entire course of the prequel, Imagos musician Alex Mauer will toil to put into effect a heavy Synthwave/Outrun based soundtrack with Lorenzo shelling out Art herein as well.

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DSP Preview – A bullet eating high recoil laser weapon.

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 DSP Preview – A more devastating spread and a shot of the temporal slow down

 

As Starr Mazer now makes its way to PC Gamer’s list of 2016’s upcoming SHMUP’s then, rest assured, a more playable version of the Prequel is to take form soon. As always, to keep track of everything happening with Starr Mazer within and beyond the Community — its Higher Eclectic Space is the place to be.

Update: A week after this article, the team released a ‘January Update’ trailer putting on show for the first time, Starr Mazer’s progress from over 2015 along with a preview of DSP. Catch the trailer & its details down below.

 


 

 

A Tryst With The Humanoid

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Post two intricately crafted Graphic Art projects in quick succession back in October-November last year, community member and digital artist Kevin Andrews had dropped off the radar — resurfacing only intermittently to put on display his written prowess via prompt-based Short Stories.

This momentary break, was largely brought about by the large number of private portrait requests (viewable on his Instagram) from friends & peers that had inundated his personal agenda. Notable among these requests, was that by community member and PlayStation YouTuber Zack Swader alias Sonic_X49, which had Andrews construct an Avatar for the YouTuber’s online persona.

Subject X49

Subject_X49

The Avatar, christened Subject_X49 by Andrews, sought to encapsulate the best of Swader’s Video Game streaming personality while also deriving from Sonic The Hedgehog’s characteristic traits; notice the large ears and facial structure. By the end of it though, Andrews confessed that he had pretty much reached a ‘burn out’ phase with his true-to-life portraits — suggesting that it would indeed be a healthy amount of time before he returned to taking requests on the same.

Halfway through Swader’s request though, Andrews jumped back to doing what he did best — challenging himself to a Graphic Art projects centred on a subject he hadn’t dabbled in before; that of Steampunk, Cyborg and Dystopian art based humanoid robots.

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Patchwork Companion – WIP #1, uploaded 22nd January ’16.

Inspired by the works of Deviants begemott and bluefley, the Art project — titled Patchwork Companion — will have Kevin take his time through a multitude of weeks, constructing what he describes his first ever attempt at designing a humanoid robot.

‘I’ve Never done things like cybernetic parts before so… it’s slow going’, he adds. ‘I’m probably gonna watch a million speedpaints and tutorials on the subject on the way there.’ The project’s Album on the Community’s Facebook page in the interim, has been set up and will document Patchwork’s development over the forthcoming weeks. To keep track of its progress then, be sure to keep stopping by Andrews’ Higher Eclectic Art Space, which also holds previous art and written projects showcased by him within the community.

Out With The Old, In With The New.

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For the first time in five months I believe, we — us on the staff at least — are in for a reasonably sound sleep. No, not because we’re short on sleep half the time anyway and that we’ve suddenly reached peak deficit; or that the Thai we had for lunch has us feeling dopey all day for some reason. It’s quite fairly because Higher Eclectic Ground has made its first, full-fledged footprint on the Internet in its still young life.

That footprint being the very website you’re reading this on. Visitors new to Higher Eclectic Ground might not know the difference — that’s good, you haven’t missed much on the older thing we called a blog — and yet our returning members might probably need a few moments to take it all in; we’ve come a long way, haven’t we?

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When we started out on the 6th of August, 2015 — a website as such was frankly, the last thing on our minds. We were raring to get out there put into effect what was seemingly more than an offbeat idea at the time. And toiled we did, day after day bringing in new yet varied Video Game talent to the community, growing ours and our member’s presence on social media, having fun and bringing a lot of ingenuity and creativity to the table.

The growth, courtesy of the support and appreciation of our members alone, has been been steady yet massive. As that growth occurred throughout the end of last year though, we realised that despite our best attempts at keeping things highly structured and constructive on Ground Zero — the Facebook Community — it was soon getting difficult to continually have our members track each other, find each other and stay in tune with everything happening on the community.

We created a Forum, we organized explanatory, dynamic records of our members on the Facebook Page, we sent out monthly letters and yet despite it all deep down, we were beginning to realize that in the long run the Community wouldn’t function as a Community unless drastic changes were made. There was one very important need — a singular hub that would not only allow for quick access to community happenings but also engage a wider Gaming audience that lingered outside Facebook. The solution was simple; an intuitive, easy-to-read, interactive website that would consolidate everything we have ever done and will be doing in a singular spot — without taking away from any of the action or buzz on our base of operations, the Facebook page.

Which is why as the world retreated to their caves for the holidays, we set about making changes to our structure on social media first– members would have noticed the minor and major tweaks that we made on a weekly basis to ensure that at least on that front, things were orderly. As we moved into the New Year, we quickly realized that if we were to set about doing the multitude of things we had on the Higher Eclectic agenda — we’d need a thorough, functional website.

And so for the two weeks post January 1st we put a temporary halt on all our reaching out, channel building and accepting new members — deciding instead to focus on re-establishing ourselves first before thinking about progress. We confined our daily stream of posts to that of updates on our existing members while on the back-end, we created what you see here today.

Without further ado then, whether you’ve been through it all or not — here’s a quick run down of everything that’s new within the website, how things function and where this particular portal is headed as a whole.

 

  1. Our trademark of a Banner gets company. 

     

Much as we are fond of that piece of art we have flying on every social-media page on ours, we thought it deserved a bit more activity than simply staying there on the home like it did on the older blog. Now, as you’ve probably noticed, it’s accompanied by a Stream; snippets of posts that are being made on the Facebook page, or any of our social media pages for that matter, in relation to the community and our members’ projects.

Want a quick overview of what’s been happening over the day? Simply head down to the home page, take a gander at the snippets in motion and click the Facebook icon at it’s bottom to head to the Facebook page to read and learn more.

Of course, this is not going to be the only thing on there. Think live-streams from our members, weekly airings of the upcoming BSRTC PRO Series Season straight from Apex Racing TV’s feed and more; Neat, yes?

Note that mobile devices do not allow for Slider videos to play automatically and so, one might only be exposed to a video’s cover should they choose to access the website via their phones.

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2.  A Member Catalogue

Perhaps our proudest addition; we were quite uncertain if it would make its way to the website or not but now that it’s here, we can’t stop looking at it either. What the Member Catalogue effectively is — is a living, breathing portal to all the community’s projects and members.

Know how every project of yours has its own Higher Eclectic Album on the Facebook page? Well all that we’ve done is set up a dedicated space for you or your game/product — depending on whether you are a Video Game artist/writer/musician/YouTuber or Game/Tech developer respectively — synced that space with your Higher Eclectic albums and given it an easy to remember URL.

This means that if you are a Game or Tech. Developer, your Game or Tech. product has its own Higher Eclectic Space within the Member Catalogue that contains —

  • All of the Game/product’s corresponding Facebook Album’s descriptive details word for word.
  • A meta-box that provides a quick overview of development status, contact details, immediate blogs and website.
  • And more importantly, all posts from the Game/Product’s Facebook album. These posts are automatically imported as and when they’re made on Facebook.

Sure you may have to open up the post via Facebook to read it in its entirety and watch any videos associated with it, but at least one no longer has to head down to Facebook first, open up one of the on-site records and find the abnormally long URL to their Facebook album to access it. Now, all it requires is one simple URL to keep track of your Albums and posts.

Artists, Writers, Musicians and YouTubers on the other hand are categorised as themselves — allowing for members to easily find Video game talent to work with. Each attain their own Higher Eclectic Spaces with complete listings of all their present and past projects that — as with the Game/Tech creations — are synced to their respective Facebook albums as well.

Easily find other members to work with, follow up on favourite projects and most of all? One can now share their Higher Eclectic albums with anyone as and when they please thanks to the simple URL and everything else being at one, singular spot.

 

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When the Catalogue was still Work In Progress.

 

3. News, Notes & Features

 

Back in the day, our articles mainly dealt with special features on community projects or the occasional announcement while staying dead for the remainder of the time. Now however, we’re gunning to turn it active than it’s ever been — not just the usual video game test reports or competition announcements; but instead regular notices of new additions to the community, major developments related to community projects, regular sneak peeks into what we’re working on the back-end and so forth.

We’re hoping to keep the website as active as our social media profiles themselves, hoping to involve a wider Video Game audience in ours and your work.

So, while the News & Notes section will contain community announcements and Editorial banter, Features will be restricted to special coverage of member projects in the form of close-looks and interviews.

 

4. An ABOUT and FAQ

 

An ‘About’ section was one of the driving forces behind us deciding to put together a revamped website. In all frankness there’s so much that the community does at any given time — that it was fast becoming difficult for us to type out long messages in personal chats and go back and forth with questions which in-turn, reduced potential member patience.

Moreover those new to Higher Eclectic Ground didn’t really have an easy time reading the cramped introductory post on our Facebook page that was packed with links for illustrative purposes.

Now, we’ve got everything we do covered within the ABOUT section and because that isn’t enough, we’ve even created and referenced a little FAQ in various sections of the website. The FAQ was compiled on the basis of feedback and enquires received by us in the past and so rest assured — it will continue to stay updated.

Both the ABOUT and FAQ provide an in-depth look at what we do and why we do it, making it the perfect read for our members new and old.

 

5. A Contact Form

 

Always thought contact forms were cool and said let’s get one for ourselves. Not only does the Contact page allow for potential members to quickly drop us a line — but also directs them to the Bulletin where all the discussion is.

 

6. Partners’ 

 

In the past, things might not have been entirely clear on how our partnerships benefit members of the community. Which is why, we’ve devised a thorough space for our partners that not only brings a constant stream of audio, visual and social media content from their respective domains but also elaborates how they function with respect to Higher Eclectic Ground.

Make sure you take a trip down there before leaving here.

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7. Newsletter Sign-up

 

Our monthly issue of ‘In Eclectic Perspective’ that lends perspective on community happenings from the month? Visitors and members alike can sign now up for it with ease by simply entering their details in the form in the footer, or by ticking a check-box at the end of any of articles while posting a comment.

 

8. This

 

Yes, this. This simple, pure little interface to read articles over without distraction that we think is the cleanest thing ever.

 

What comes next? Why, it only gets better from here. Now that we’ve firmly established ourselves and what we do — we intend to gradually add a variety of user features to the website based on how the community grows, public opinion and response. Make no mistake, the heart of the community will continue to dwell on Facebook, no doubt, but as a one stop spot to everything Higher Eclectic — this website is key.  That being said, anything you would like to see added or would like to see the community head towards — we’re always willing to hear from.

In the interim, go mad going through all the Higher Eclectic Spaces and content we’ve put up here. Once done, let us know what you think here in the comments or down at the Bulletin. For now, it’s Good Night — the community should resume its usual barrage of activity by tomorrow and hey, we definitely have some fascinating news lined up for you this week.

Speak soon.

Title image artwork by community member Richardson Cleetus.