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Behind The Art Of Box Panda

Features

BC2Kevin, The Guardian and Scream; within merely a week from April the 10th, 20 year old South African Brandon Crampton piqued quite the interest in artistic circles both within and outside the Community by way of three, three dimensional extra-terrestrial character models that were put on display in commencement of his tenure as a multi-faceted, freelancing Video Game 2D and 3D artist herein.

These three models, each crafted as a means of practice and venting artistic angst, come supplemented with detailed overviews of their creative processes that serve to but touch upon the thought and work methods that outlines the majority of Crampton’s work.

A wide area of work that is, given six years of experience in 3D modelling, two years in Digital Art, a year of playing Junior Artist at Lighthouse Games and a proprietorship of an independent gaming studio to his name.

2D_1All of this of course, is put to use by him in offering services in Pixel Art, Vector Art, 3D Modelling & Animation, UI/HUD Design, Logo Art, Conceptual Art, Banner Art and a whole lot more to Game Developers and other Gaming creators on and via the Higher Eclectic Community.

He’s currently doing so by means of the service of Fiverr for rates as low as $5-$10, which then fluctuate depending on the complexity and demands of the task at hand, slowly working his way up the skill and experience ladder in the hope of eventually toiling for a AAA Video Game studio.

All the art I do now is for practising new techniques and portfolio pieces that I would like to one day use to apply for a job at one of the bigger gaming companies; I do after all, plan on doing digital art and 3D models for the rest of my life’, read one of his earlier correspondences with us.

I remember quite a few drawings being torn up in class when I should have been focusing on work!

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A dream not too far from his reach it might appear, given the vibrant assortment that is visible on his Instagram profile amid his sizeable following of independent game developers therein. As is with a lot of talent of his calibre, Crampton’s fondest childhood memories centre themselves around art.

‘I remember quite a few drawings being torn up in class when I should have been focusing on work! But nonetheless, most of the time I remember classmates asking me to draw things for them all the time during my junior years in school — I absolutely loved it’, he recalls, stating the reasons behind this fascination of his being a yearning for attention and a chance to prove himself to others.

With his transition to senior school came a more serious understanding and appreciation for the art he practised, realising that its magic lay in but leaving his created works to talk for themselves. ‘I remember stepping into Grade Nine, where I was doing a painting as part of a school project — my teacher loved it so much that he took it all around to show it off to the rest of the Seniors. It’s always good to have someone love your work as much as you do and till date, it remains ones of my proudest moments as an artist.’

Traditional painting and sketching aside, another one of Crampton’s laurels lay in being one of only three students in his division that practised 3D Art; a practice that stemmed out of hours spent in the school’s Computer Room. Besotted by his friend’s drawing and playing around with shapes on Blender 3D one day, Crampton began playing around with those of his own — putting into a motion an obsession that would have him learn all he could about the software, create his his own character models and eventually detail them with the intricacy visible today after his introduction to ZBrush.

For me it was an amazing experience; I got to learn some of the tools of the trade, the pipeline workflow and its just really awesome being able to work on something with talented people that  love the same things as you.

3D_1I think what really drew me into 3D Modelling was my love for games at that time — Ratchet and Clank was my favourite, by the way’, explains Crampton. ‘I absolutely loved the idea of bring able to sit down, create awesome characters that people could play as all over the world; It’s what draws me to game design — the variety scale in terms of how far one can push designs and concepts as opposed to movies.’

This innate appreciation for the artistic design of Games finally manifested itself into his tenure as Junior Artist at South Africa based, Lighthouse Games Studio in 2014 — where he spent a few months developing character, environmental and other game asset concepts for their 2015 release Shark Deathmatch 2. For me it was an amazing experience; I got to learn some of the tools of the trade, the pipeline workflow and its just really awesome being able to work on something with talented people that  love the same things as you.’

Interestingly, the shift of his two dimensional art to a digital platform came around about the same time — when the purchase of a Wacom tablet coaxed the artist to cast a more serious look towards digital painting –which he continued to build on using Feng Zhu School of Design’s YouTube tutorials. While naturally the style of a large amount of his digital artwork resonates with Zhu’s own, Crampton maintains that the biggest inspiration in both his 2D and 3D artistic career remains to be his grandfather.

I’m very thankful my grandfather was with me when I was growing up.

3D_2He helped me develop my painting skills and the ability to look at objects and interpret them properly in my paintings. I used to go down to his house and we’d spend the day painting and truly, it was then that my work started to improve and become a lot more professional looking. I’m very thankful he was with me when I was growing up.’

Capitalising on his experience with 3D modelling and a new found interest in the digital medium of 2D art then, Crampton finally went on to release up to four free-to-play Android games under the Box Panda Games banner in the same year.

While this was done as an attempt to personally contribute towards the near non-existent Gaming Industry in South Africa, the artist’s hopes of the brand growing into a larger company remain bleak. There just aren’t many interested in this sort of thing, as he admits.

Nevertheless, what keeps him path of artistic enlightenment is the continued interest in his services as a freelancing Video Games artist from the world over — services that were put forth only by last year when his work reached an acceptable level of personal satisfaction, and services that Higher Eclectic Ground is now making accessible to Game Developers, YouTubers and other gaming creators within its network.

Over the next few months you’ll probably see a wide variety of characters of mine

2D_2At the moment I’ve been focusing a lot on my 3D work really, trying to perfect that and improve as much as I can, building up a decent portfolio for hopefully Game studios to see,’ speaks Crampton of his immediate future on the Community.

‘But over the next few months you’ll probably see a wide variety of characters of mine, as I am trying different methods and styles, improving my texture work, character hair and the like — so ill probably be doing a lot of testing and messing around there. 

In terms of my 2D work, I’ll be looking to keep creating vast environments as I have been documenting on Instagram. I’d like to get better at that as well particularly because it makes for wonderful backgrounds for my 3D work. So really just lots of practising and working on areas of my work that I am not yet happy with.’

Whether you’ll be looking for a 2D/3D artist of substantial talent and reasonable fees, or are a fellow artist looking to trade notes and work together with one of Crampton’s calibre, the artist will now be reachable via his Higher Eclectic Space where all of his ongoing and forthcoming independent art work will continue to be documented.

 

New To The Community: Textures, Models, Character Art & Weekly Twitch

News

The past week and a half since February’s demise has seen up to four independent Video Game artists, each with their own varied set of skills on show and offer, step onto Higher Eclectic Ground. From 2D & 3D art to weekly Twitch streaming, the following is a quick overview of the Community’s latest additions and what each hope to be bringing to the table shortly.

 

1. Paul Evans – Texture Artist

 

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READ: Evans writes how he created the Alley scene.

 

A 2D asset designer at Evlox Studios, whose third-person, open world RPG Children of Acacia‘s development is actively being showcased on the Community, conversations with Paul Evans began soon after the game’s debut on Higher Eclectic back in February; with a few good years of experience in Texture and Graphic design, the young artist had come in looking for a creative medium to showcase his 2D work.

Picking up on our suggestion of using 3D models to his benefit, the owner of CraftyTextures was soon seen putting together his first 3D scene on social media,’The Alley’, before effectively making use of his created Textures to add color to the same. Deciding then that showcasing his 2D work on 3D models was the best way forward, Evans set foot on the Community on the 28th of February as a member of its circle of 2D artists

Open to Texture design requests and commissions while also offering his services in photo manipulation & texture repair, the weeks since have already seen him put together a second 3D scene showing off more of his work on textures with him currently working on his next. Furthermore, he’s also on the constant lookout for other 3D modelers to share notes with and improve his art form; to get in touch, have a gander at his work or even learn of how his craft has its roots in a lifelong battle with Epilepsy and Dyslexia, be sure to visit his Higher Eclectic Space.

 

2. Indigo Doyle – 3D Modeler

 

With an Honors in Game Design & Animation and several years of experience as a 3D environment and prop artist at independent studios such as Liquid Melon and Pointless Button, Modeler Indigo Doyle debuted on the Community on the 7th of March with a demo reel embodying her recent portfolio of work.

Offering her services as a 3D Modeler by stating availability to commissions and requests from the Community, the Canadian artist is also preparing to showcase forthcoming 3D art projects here — much of which involves her dabbling in personalized, stylized art and eventually, the Allegorithmic Substance/Designer software. With her currently aiming to develop a stylized, fantasy-themed environmental scene this month, feel free to give her Spot a visit to make a request or keep an eye on her progress.

 

3. Jesse Staples – Character/Concept Art among several other things

 

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Visit: Jesterdog23’s Character Design Emporium.

 

Game Designer, musician, writer, Graphic, character and concept artist; multi-faceted Jesse Staples debuted JesterDog23’s Character Design Emporium on the 8th of March; a character design banner under which he aims to showcase all ongoing & future character art on Higher Eclectic Ground.

Furthermore, with extensive experience in Graphic and OHRPGC Game Design, Staples is also offering his talent as a traditional/digital artist for 2D characters, weapons, concept art, environmental art, logos and more in a multitude of themes and styles. This is of course, via a set structure of semi-flexible rates that are currently viewable at his Higher Eclectic Space. 

In description of his forthcoming artwork on the Community, Staples adds, ‘An original character is to be posted soon, as well as a new band logo, a business logo for a photography/film company, and a random commission of a drunk man laying down in a giant bottle of Old Crow.’ As he doles out more of his independent and commissioned work for others to relish on a weekly-monthly basis, Staples also eventually aims to launch a Character Design Tutorial Series based on popular response.

 

4. Jack Davison – The Potshotpete Twitch Channel

 

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Comfortable; the Potshotpete HQ.

Deviating from the usual stream of YouTube gamers, the Community’s collection of Video Artists saw its first, full-blown Twitch streamer join the fray in the form of Jack Davison. Having first streamed via his channel, Potshotpete back in 2014 — Davison was subjected to a long lasting hiatus from his passion after real life commitments to family and work stepped in.

Fast forward to 2016 and Potshotpete is back on its feet with greater vigor than ever before; following a strict schedule, Davison streams thrice a week on Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays — keeping his style, unnecessary banter and time wastage at a bare minimum in abidance of his High Quality, no-nonsense streaming rule of thumb. A frequent streaming partner of member writer/YouTuber Mike BlundellDavison has already begun partnering up with other Video Artists from the Community — jumping into a early evening to late night stream of The Division on the 11th of March with Blundell and Craig Evans in tow.

Furthermore, he intends to provide much of his streaming expertise to the benefit of the other Game Developers resident here, offering to cover their games from unbiased yet fun standpoints. To get in touch with him for any particular coverage requests or simply tune in to his streams every week, be sure to hop in to his Space.

One Man, a Decade & Eighty Musical Instruments

Features

September 16, 2015. Ninth months post its release, ‘Around The World In 80 Instruments’ made its first appearance on the Community here. Released digitally on Bandcamp and Souncloud, the album brought along with itself a tremendous, episodic musical of its coming to fruition; created by Royalty free Video Game music composer Matteo Bosi and composed using each of the eighty instruments the Italian musician had collected over a decade. With each track holding within itself a segment of Matteo’s journey through those years, the musician had arrived with every desire of illustrating the album’s charm, hoping that the Community’s members would make use of it in their projects.

Debuting with the album’s first track, ‘Dawn of Mankind’, Matteo would go on to showcase each of the album’s 13 tracks — speaking not only of the instruments that brought them to life, but also the circumstances & events that inspired their sound. On the 10th of December, that show finally concluded with the album’s final listed track ‘Alchemy of the Worlds’; in the months that followed, knowing full well that Matteo’s history & the story of the album’s inception was one that deserved yet another recount, we set about delving deeper into the personality & inspirations that culminated in the decade that was the album’s creative process.

 

 

I was fascinated by India and its music, forcing me to buy my first Ethnic instrument, a Sitar when I was there.

Born within a humble Italian household in the year of 1976, despite not being of any significant musical background, Matteo’s tryst with self-composed music arrived at the tiny age of six. This in large part, was a result of the encouragement provided by Bosi’s Elementary school Music teacher, who taught him & the rest of his young peers to play both the Flute and the Melodica. Such was the joy the batch took in their new found craft, that its first Christmas together amounted to a mini-concert of Christmas carols amid astonished parents. Under the same teacher, Matteo would also go on to hone his transverse flute aptitude via dedicated lessons.

As he grew older, the acoustic Guitar and Italian Folk music added themselves to his growing list of musical capabilities although funnily enough, Matteo was yet to devote himself to thorough music composition and learning. That devotion finally came as he picked up on Heavy Metal and his first Electric Guitar, leading him to learn not only the art of recording, generating computerized music, mixing and more, but also causing him to form his own band called ‘No Direction’.

‘We started off in 1999 and disbanded in 2006; We played a sort of rock-punk-funk crossover — we had great time! We recorded two albums, and I took care of recording and producing the second one,’ Matteo recalls. Midway through the band’s early years, Matteo would earn himself a Degree in Physics in 2000 before commencing his PhD in the subject; ‘It was during the course of that PhD that I got the chance to attend a PhD school in Mysore, India with my tutor’, recounting how the PhD eventually resulted in him owning his first Ethnic instrument.

‘I was fascinated by the country and its music, forcing me to buy myself a Sitar when I was there. I asked the Indian students for help, who were kind enough to lead me to a Sitar-maker shop in the city. It was quite a pain to bring it back home, I’ll tell you, but I did manage to do so without breaking it!’ 

 

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A shot of No Direction; Matteo talks of his band in Italian on his Alchemy Studio page while also linking to their older music on MySpace.

I did it with no particular reason. If anything, maybe to challenge myself.

While Matteo’s PhD arrived in 2004, the Sitar would go on to inscribe in him a rather interesting hobby– that of picking up instruments from every country visited on a business or pleasure basis. Matteo admits that while the hobby emerged as but a means of remembering his place to visit, it soon turned into a mission; for every country that nurtured a strong tradition and culture of music, an instrument from its regions would be added to his library.

Ranging from those that were procured via interesting turn of events to those that were simply bought from second hand shops, Matteo’s library gradually began to grow to the awe inspiring 80 that it stands at now — leading to him constructing a dedicated page on his website to document each instrument’s sound and his relationship with them. By 2008, ideas to put those instruments to use began to emerge, with the Italian finally deciding to write, compose and record ‘Alchemy of the Worlds’ with the help of a friend. Encompassing moods & tunes ranging from the Far East to Europe, Matteo put to work his entire arsenal of instruments in an attempt to reconstruct nearly a decade of wandering in music.

‘I did it with no particular reason. If anything, maybe to challenge myself. Many years later as the collection grew, so did the inspiration to record more music with it. I lacked  a definite plan. though; I merely enjoyed learning to play each of the instruments and composing something unusual with them. The possibility of using my cell phone first, followed by my wife’s professional camera inspired me to make short videos of myself playing and recording.’

In 2013, the idea of ‘Around The World In 80 Instruments’ finally hit him — deriving its name from Jules Verne’s classic, ‘Around The World In 80 Days’. ‘It literally arrived out of nowhere, but when it suddenly appeared in my mind it was like an epiphany; I realized then how original the concept could be, without anyone having attempted something like this before.’  In the year between 2014-2015 then, Matteo would go on to write & compose the remaining 12 tracks of the album, before releasing the same on Bandcamp & Souncloud for a customer-stated price. High Quality videos for each were also recorded & uploaded to his YouTube channel, each with elaborate descriptions of the stories they attempted to recreate.

 

 

Contrary to what some might imagine though, Matteo’s grand attempt is yet to garner the massive audience it deserves. ‘I posted my work in several music-production forums, mainly computer-music related such as KVR. I got positive comments from musicians, impressed by the overall project and my ability to play so several instruments together. I also tried to send the album to magazines and music journals in Italy but got no response at all. The most awesome response was from Pond5 though; I’d put my work on their forum which led me to be contacted by their staff who wanted to conduct an interview and shoot a video on my work. A really talented individual from their Staff came all the way from New York to Parma, Italy; showing my studio, my instruments travels, and the royalty-free music I’d put up on their website.’

With his musical career’s largest and most ambitious project over and done with, Matteo now finds it hard to imagine himself surpassing the scale at which ‘Around The World In 80 Instruments’ was created. Nevertheless, his passion for music as a hobby continues to take up what remains of his spare time — as he composes for royalty free markets and Video Games using the Unreal and Unity engines before uploading them to their respective storres.. ‘I would like to improve my piano/keyboard skills although I find myself making more and more ‘trailer-like’ epic and bombastic music — particularly because I have stumbled upon a few new sound libraries suited for this task!’

I also tried to send the album to magazines and music journals in Italy, but got no response at all.

Naturally, discussions are underway to showcase all of his forthcoming and ongoing compositions on the Community, hoping to have his musical talent assist the independent game developers and talent housed here. It’s worth noting that although ‘Around The World In 80 Instruments’ arrives with a Creative Commons license, those intending to make use of the album’s music in their Video Games are requested to get in touch with Matteo first.

He does also accept commissions; those interested in reaching out to Matteo or simply taking a closer look at ‘Around The World In 80 Instruments’ then, can do so by visiting his existing Higher Eclectic Space.

 

 

Durandal Debuts ‘Space Cruisin’ As Isle Of Bass Spotlight Ends

News

In conclusion of the month of February, one that saw his work featured extensively as the Isle of Bass’ music artist of the month, Deep, Dark & Minimal Dubstep musician Steve Philips Durandal debuts a snippet of Space Cruisin’ — an upcoming collaboration with fellow Dubstep producer, The Widdler. Starting its life off as a beat & baseline mix by Durandal that was sent to The Widdler to build on, Space Cruisin’ derives its name from the ‘honking sounds’ that lie within; after Durandal realized they conjured a whole ‘cruisin’ in space while bumping to some beats’ vibe. That is of course, when its not sampling the character McLovin’s ‘What’s up guys!’ from the 2007 comedy, Superbad.

The exact date or period of its release still remains highly uncertain, given the musician’s want for building hype around the track by playing it at musical events first. While the track may or may not be available as a free download later this year, members can still get in touch with Durandal should they wish to use it in any of their projects.

Introduced to Higher Eclectic Ground on the 7th of February this year, Durandal ‘s tenure within Higher Eclectic Ground thus far has brought its gaming community a rather creative selection of Minimal dubstep, ranging from Classic Horror inspired undertones to Conspiracy themed pensive tune,s each of which are available as free downloads. ‘Despite his easy going demeanour, you can really tell he takes his music very seriously,‘ states Isle of Bass co-founder Craig Evans. ‘He wants to help others just as much as others help him! And as we’ve seen & heard from him in the last month, he has very interesting ideas which he turns into music. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for him!’

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READ: Isle of Bass’ February: Deep, Dark Beginnings

As March draws in then, its time to shift the spotlight to the Isle of Bass’ next tending talent — House music infused with lovely vocals, as Evans hints — who will be making his presence known with the Community later this week. Rest assured Durandal’s Space here on Higher Eclectic will continue to exist, showcasing not only the musician’s latest compositions but also the ones featured during his spotlight tenure. Members looking to make use of any of his musical talent in their gaming projects, are always invited to get in touch with him via the same.

Durandal & his work was made available to Higher Eclectic Ground’s independent gaming community by the Isle of Bass; an independent music label promoting underground electronica from around the world. As Higher Eclectic Ground’s music partners, the label provides our independent gaming talent with access to a variety of electronic music by having us feature their most trending artists for a month. Learn more about the label & the artists featured prior by visiting their Partner’s page.

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.

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

News

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.