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AmanitaZest's blog

4:55 PM on 10.20.2010

Guess who got an awesome poster from Destructoid?


This guy.


When I posted a comment way back when that my dorm room needed decorations, I really wasn't kidding. The place used to be a retirement home, and the rooms still have a heavy medical facilityj feel to them, which isn't exactly the most homey atmosphere in the world. Let's just say that there's a reason our basement is turned into a haunted house every Halloween. That being said, I was pleased as punch to find out I won one of the random contests on my fave gaming site, and I was surprised to find out just how big my print of Dirk the Daring turned out to be- it's taller than me or my roommate, and takes up most of the wall behind me. Many thanks to Dtoid for making me one happy college geek.


(I just realized this is my first blog on the brand-spanking new Destructoid site. Weird...)

12:08 PM on 05.21.2010

Nerdy Art Trade! (VGR, Pic-Heavy)

So, a while back I ended up getting a request from one of the members of the fine TIGSource forum. He wanted to do an art trade, and asked if I'd like some pewter-bead pixel art. I said hell yes, please. I didn't give him any specific instructions on what to make, so I didn't know what to expect. This is what he ended up sending me:

That giant Pokeball is most definitely going to find its way into my dorm room next fall, and that Bomberman "sprite" is so adorable I could pinch its cheeks.

In exchange for providing me with the bead art, the TIGSource member asked me to make a puppet for him. On a lark last fall I had made up a silly prototype after finding a large supply of cardboard outside my campus dorm (finders keepers). This prototype was actually the reason he wanted to do the art trade in the first place.

So, last week I set to work on the new puppet- no requirements or expectations, just a simple cardboard puppet. This is what I ended up making for him:

All of the materials are super-cheap, and can be found in your local dollar store. The joints are made of a special type of pin. The name escapes me right now, but you see them all the time in folders- the sort with the two prongs you spread apart to lock your papers into place. Anyways, these make excellent joints for the cardboard puppets. The design itself was made in Photoshop, at least six hours of labor combining planning, sketching, and execution. The parts were all made on a single sheet of paper with enough space to allow me to separate them properly.

The strings of the puppet have a special knot at the end, from my Boy Scout days. This particular knot creates a loop that can be adjusted in size- the end can be moved up and down the whole of the string, creating a larger or smaller loop without actually tightening the knot. This is perfect for fitting the fingers onto the string for better control.

All in all, this was super-fun to make. Assuming I did make more, who would you all like to see in puppet form? More importantly, would you be willing to pay for them, on a store like Etsy?   read

7:21 PM on 10.10.2009

Postmortem for Bounty (NVGR, but GR?)

Hello again, everyone!

For everyone who missed it, Bounty was an experimental comic I began in honor of 24-Hour Comic Day last weekend. The basic premise was that it would be a forum comic like MS Paint Adventures, with one simple twist: Multiplayer. Two forums were made, one for TIGSource, and one for Destructoid. The original plan was to have the game conclude within the 24-hour time limit, but complications arrived that prevented me from doing that. Nevertheless, the last pages were posted a couple days ago, and I've decided to take some time to analyze the project.


It was finished- Never underestimate this. When it comes to projects, I have a habit of biting off far more than I can chew, so I was determined to not let this experiment get out of hand. Ever since I'd heard about 24-Hour Comic Day, I'd been wanting to participate, and this seemed like the perfect way to ensure that I would get the darn thing done. Even after running into every single problem possible (more on that later), I was stubborn enough to not give up.

Improvisation Forum adventure comics are by nature made up almost entirely on the spot, and Bounty was no exception. Among others, these are a few things I didn't plan and/or just made up on the spot:

-The dream sequence
-The ex-girlfriend
-The metaphor behind the Tape Measurer of the Sea (seriously, that came out of nowhere)
-The catbomb(s)

Aside from the comic itself, I had to improvise a bit for when my tech started futzing up. After the first three pages, my tablet started acting weird, so I ended up drawing the rest of the comic on sketchbook paper with ballpoint pen. Not only that, but I drew all of the pages without any penciling or layouts- all pure pen, with no planning whatsoever. And then when my scanner refused to connect to my computer (again), I decided to simply photograph the last three pages. I personally like the sepia tone effect that occurred as a result, but of course that's just me.


Technology- First was my tablet. I love my Wacom Bamboo, but it has this nasty habit of going nuts in Photoshop. At seemingly random times, it'll lose pressure sensitivity and not even recognize the other end of the stylus. This would not do, so I switched to good old pen and paper. Then one of the forums got locked for about four hours- both moderators were offline, and no one seems to know how it got locked in the first place. And then after all that, my printer refused to connect to my laptop, so I decided to photograph the pages with my camera, but the camera's batteries were running low and I didn't have any more AAs... All this didn't kill the project per se, but it made it a helluva lot harder to get through.

Momentum- The other major issue was trying to keep people playing the game at the odd hours of the morning. For several hours after starting, there was not a single person posting in the Destructoid thread. I didn't want to make the character do anything autonomously, so I just let him sleep. This eventually led to the weird dream sequence, which I suppose made it worthwhile, but it was still a bit of a pain. The other major roadblock came when the TIGSource thread got locked (again, for no apparent reason). I didn't want to just continue the game on Destructoid (as it would have been an unfair advantage), so I let it sit for several hours, which is basically why it took me a week to finish what should have been done in 24 hours.

All in all, I'm pleased with how the comic turned out. I'd certainly like to try more multiplayer comics like this, especially if I can do it with you guys. Now that Bounty's over, what are your thoughts on it? Any suggestions for what you'd like to see in the next comic?   read

11:38 PM on 08.15.2009

Psychonauts Boxart is Done! (Shortblog)

Just finished this today. My printer's giving me hell for it (I think I'm gonna need a new ink cartridge soon), but
overall I'm super-happy with how it turned out. I've been thinking about doing more covers like these, but I'd like to
take random requests, see what games could really use some nice-looking artwork. What do you guys think of
the Psychonauts box, and what game covers would you like to see me do next? If I sold these online, through
Etsy or somewhere else, would you want a copy for yourselves?   read

8:23 PM on 08.10.2009

How I Spent my Summer Vacation (Videogame related- trust me...)

Okay, technically my summer vacation isn't over just yet, but it's close enough that I can start offering a
retrospective. So, aside from the usual hanging out with friends and volunteer work, I've kept myself busy
with a variety of projects both big and small.

Back in May, held a contest for new shirt designs. Mine was one of the three finalists, and is now
being sold through their online store here.
Below is the front to the shirt.

These are my new shoes- blank slip-ons after a week's worth of inking. You can't see it, but there's extra
stuff on the sides and the back. I filled the shoes with all of the things that have influenced my work and
personality. See how much you can name!

A school that a friend of mine goes to was wanting to do a mural based on Shel Silverstein's Where the
Sidewalk Ends, but couldn't because of copyright issues. The friend contacted me, and I designed a mural
loosely based on the cover. Shel Silverstein's books made a huge impression on me as a youngster, so this
project is one of my personal favorites.

The Choose-Your-Own Adventures of Bucky Swash is an online comic experiment I've been running on and
off this summer. The readers in the forum here
submit suggestions, wherein I take the best of those suggestions and turn it into the next page. It's been very
fun so far, and I'd like to see how far we can take it.

Now this some people might have seen. I was commissioned by WryGuy on the D-Toid forums to design him a
custom cover for Katamari Damacy, and I was more than happy to oblige. It took exactly a month's worth of
digital painting in Photoshop, but I'm very pleased with how it turned out. The fact that the editors wrote an
article on it made it even sweeter.

I did say this would be videogame related, yes? Well, you can't get much more videogame-related than talking
about an actual game! Commedia Dell'arte: The Game is my new major project- Commedia, for those who don't
know, is the ancient Italian improv theatre that literally invented slapstick. The game will allow the players to
control the major masked characters in what we're tentatively calling a "strategic storytelling game". If you're
interested, you can find out more info on our DevLog on the website

Well, that's all for now, I hope you all had a great summer, and I'll see you...

Hello, hello, what's this?


6:18 PM on 04.19.2009

Matt's Animations! (NVGR)

Since I don't have premium DA account, I figured I'd go ahead and post all the little animation projects I've done
here instead. This fall I'm heading to college for Media Informatics, which is essentially animation with some
web design thrown in for good measure, so hopefully this won't be the last post.

First up, we had to have two characters tell a knock-knock joke, to learn how to lipsync.

As a little side project, I made a quick loop to learn how to use anticipation, squash and stretch, and all those
neat little tricks from the good ol' days.

Then, we worked on our first big 3D project. All the models were made in Swift 3D and textured in Photoshop.
Although I hate that the rendering screwed up the second half, at least you get a good glimpse at the creepy
sun I made.

Finally, I have this project I started several weeks ago- 3D models in Swift 3D again and hand-drawn animation
in Flash- not a single motion tween in sight. A little rough, but overall I'm terribly pleased with how it came out.
You can check it out here:

Since I made that one, I've colored the figures to make it look a little nicer. I'll probably stick it in this post, once
I've finished uploading it. EDIT: And here it is.

This one I just finished today- it was supposed to be a birthday gift for a friend of mine, but it took two weeks
longer than I'd initially planned. Hope she likes it...   read

9:17 AM on 03.28.2009

How to Play Sexy Adventure Time (Part 1, NVGR)

(This is a re-do of an older post that was screwed up by Google Chrome. The original has since been deleted.)

I've always been fascinated by tabletop games- after all, D&D is where a lot of modern video games came from, and the idea of building a story with a bunch of friends sounded like a ton of fun to me. So, I played Dungeons and Dragons for the first time- or, at least, tried to. Just one look at the character creation sheet scared me shitless. What were all these numbers doing in a storytelling game, anyway? What's the difference between Strength and Constitution? When do I get to play this game? Eventually I got started, but in the back of my mind, I kept thinking to myself, there has to be a better way of doing this. Not one to simply complain, I decided that I would design my own system, taking elements of the Dungeons and Dragon ruleset and boiling them down to their essential core. The result...


All right, it's just a working title, but the real point is to make a system that's easy to grasp so that players can get on with the actual game. This is not meant to supplant D&D, though- for experienced roleplayers, this is a more relaxed and fun version of the game they already know how to play, and should fit in easily. Newcomers will be able to grasp Sexy Adventure Time's rules very quickly, and can use this as a stepping stone for more complex RPGs if they so choose.

But enough talk, how does Sexy Adventure Time actually work? Well, you start off by creating a character. Your sheet will have the following:

Character Name
Player Name
Physical Description

They will also have the following, under the subcategory Skills:


The first part's pretty self-explanatory, but the Skills section is a bit different. The player assigns a number to the skills; one is given a 3, another a 2, and the last a 1. These numbers indicate how, er, skilled they are in that particular area, 3 being your best and 1 being your worst. The Special skill is always 4, and can be any unique gift the player desires. The more obscure or seemingly pointless, the better. Besides the player's health, these are the only numbers needed in the game, and are used in what are called conflicts. Let's use an example conflict to demonstrate how the system works.

Mr. Player wants to punch a goon in the face. Since he is physically attacking a character, the DM (or Narrator as they are named in SAT) decides to use the player's Strength stat, a 3. The goon, meanwhile, does not like being punched, and so will try to dodge the blow. This will use their Speed stat, a measly 1. The Narrator and the player both roll a die (it doesn't mater how many sides they have). The Narrator comes up with 3, and Mr. Player rolls a 4.

Narrator- 1 (Speed) + 3 (Dice roll)= 4
Mr. Player- 3 (Strength) + 4(Dice roll)= 7

Mr. Player has successfully punched the goon in the face. From here, the Narrator can take 3 points (the difference between the rolls) off of the goon's health, and add some story bits about him being knocked
backward. Easy, yes?

"But wait," you may say. "Where do I use each stat, and when?" The answer is easy: Whenever you want. The real trick to Sexy Adventure Time is that your luck is not only influenced what you say, but how you say it. If Mr. Player had a 3 in Speed instead of Strength, he could say that he wanted his character to sneak up behind the goon and then punch him in the face. The Narrator, likewise, can use this to either help or hinder the players, depending on how successful they have been. In our first example, if the goon had a 3 in Strength, the Narrator could have described him wanting to block Mr. Player's punch, making it a more even match. By encouraging players to play to their character's strengths, they can get more into the role they've created for themselves and enhance their own playing experience. I'll go more in-depth with possible strategies for both players and Narrators, as well as other gameplay devices on the next installment. Until next time...   read

6:05 PM on 02.09.2009

Self-Publishing? (NVGR)

So I've just finished my memoir comic, and I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. Of course there are things I'd like to tweak, like the thickness of the borders, some illegible text, etc. but overall I think I'm getting better at this thing. After this, I'm likely going to return to The Island, a satirical fairytale I started last year, but had to let sit for various reasons (mostly school and planning for college). I started thinking about what I could do with my work, and around the same time my parents have been telling me I need to get a job for the summer.

So here's what I'm thinking: Self-publishing's getting way cheaper, right? and places like that are available for people to print out their own books and sell them online or in person, with the sites taking a chunk of the profits for printing materials and suchlike. What I'd like to do is, once The Island is complete, to go back and do those tweaks on it and the memoir comic, and sell those as the "definitive editions". The changes likely wouldn't be drastic- again, it would likely be things like fixing my messy handwriting to make it easier on the eyes. The original versions would still be up online- this way, you know exactly what you'd be paying for.

Aside from the comics, I've been designing my own pen-and-paper RPG system, tentatively titled "Sexy Adventure Time". Like the comics, I'll post the basic rules online, so people know what they're paying for, but as a bonus for buying the book (which isn't going to be terribly long- it's a pretty simple and flexible system), I'll be filling it with illustrations- maybe even in color!

Unfortunately, a lot of it is going to depend on how many people are interested in buying my work. What say ye, Tokyopop?

(P.S. Any ideas for a good store name? I'm not sure I want to use Otaku42 as part of it, so any suggestions are welcome.)   read

11:19 PM on 02.07.2009

Matt's Art Dump- Now With Comics! (NVGR)

For the past couple of weeks, I've been working on a comic as part of my Creative Writing class, based on my own life experiences. I'm really excited to have finally finished the project, and am wanting to share it with anyone who wants to. You can read the whole thing right here. I'm including this in my portfolio, which I'll be sending off in a couple days to the Minneapolis and Savannah Colleges of Art and Design- I'm applying for their respective Sequential Art programs- with the intent of snagging a nice thick scholarship. Here's hoping!

Besides the memoir comic, I've completed eight pieces in my concentration series, with four more to go. In order:







and Zeus.

I'm not entirely sure which ones I want to do next. I want to do four goddesses, but I'm having a hard time coming up with ideas, mostly because I want to avoid doing any more Greek/Roman characters. *shrug* If you have any suggestions, I'll be happy to hear them!

(Oh, and thanks to whomever added the Artsy Fartsy blog topic choice)   read

5:33 PM on 01.18.2009

Matthew Blake's Mini-Art Dump (NVGR, WIP Pics)

Here are three pieces I'm working on for a 12-part series- still in progress, as you can probably guess. In order of appearance, Apollo, Vishnu, and Bacchus:

Next up are going to be Jesus, Hades, and Quetzacoatal. This is gonna be sweet, hopefully.   read

8:24 AM on 01.18.2009

Just in Time for Inauguration Day! (NVGR, Shortblog)

Dear Obama,

Congratulations! Please don't suck.



America   read

10:31 PM on 12.22.2008

My Persona 4 Contest Entry

Here's hoping I can nab that prize pack- there are a couple really fantastic entries, so I hope there's room for one more. This one was actually a lot of fun to color.

Thank you, and good night.   read

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