Merry Christmas 2011

Every drawing feels like style exploration >.<  Merry Christmas!

Ludum Dare #22 - Surume

So I did the Ludum Dare Game Jam with a bunch of friends!  It took place over the weekend of Dec 16th, and I even had a buddy sleep over.  I had to take care of most of the programming, which, unfortunately, is not my strong suit, but I'm glad we pulled through at the end.

Our game is titled:  Surume: The Little Squid

and you can play it here:  http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-22/?action=preview&uid=8680

Web version of the game

The First of December

The First of December came and went as quickly as the Winter winds blow.  The day before, Erica Zhao and I turned in a completed build of Spectra for class.  No project is without its crunches, and Spectra was no exception.  I worked as many hours as I could as soon as Thanksgiving Thursday ended, clocking in about 5 hours of sleep by Monday night.

Here's the one minute teaser video we put together to showcase our game:

The major changes that occurred during this looong weekend were:

-color changing flashlight

The boy's sprite was overly static compared to the girls.  She would have her hair dyed a different color every time her powers changed, whereas the boy had a 2 frame flashlight animation.

I separated the flashlight from his sprite, and let it change colors.  It's only a small number of visible pixels compared to the entire screen, but better associates the floating circle with his wand.

-animated, reactive picture frame (hud element)

Spectra is bordered by a picture frame.  I'd always wanted it to be one that changes according to the game-state, but the design/insignia had always stumped me.  I ended up animating a vortex, as if light were emitting from a source in the center of the box.

each individual tile changes colors after every animation cycle, and the color that is matched with the girl's current color is lit brighter than the rest.  I will try to post a video soon, but for now, imagine twinking stars.

-simplified node sprites

The color fountains that I had going before had too much unnecessary detail.  I removed the pillar that held up the orb and diamonds, so now they're just left with the base and shape.


Anh gave me a rough pencil sketch for the background.  I then spent the entire night painting the repainting the entire thing.  Sometimes the flow of the lines would direct eyes out of the picture instead of inwards, and those sections would have to be repainted.  Othertimes detail would accumulate in certain areas.  Since the background is a decorative element and is not part of the playspace, i had to simplify and remove anything that was distracting.

If you've heard me pitch Spectra before, I talked about playing in a stained glass world, where the picture and the game are one.  I mentioned how players would be brought into the stained glass environment.  In practice, it is a difficult goal.  I do plan on experimenting with that idea again, but it seems unlikely that we will be able to find a convergence of gamespace and the background.

In its place, I plan on implementing 'glitch world' levels, where the the entire screen is filled with gameplay elements, platforms, and players will have to find their way through its maze-like structure.

What does your Character do?

My partner and I have been working on Spectra, a two player cooperative puzzle platformer, for our Intermediate Game Development class at USC.

 We set out not to create just interesting game mechanics, or to tell a touching story, but to also address co-operative play between two players.

Mirror Images
Today, whenever the topic of co-operative play comes up, everyone is quick to refer to Portal 2, which includes a two player campaign alongside its main single-player story. Valve was very successful in crafting an entire experience around their two player mode, stringing together a set of new characters, voice acting and a narrative.

However, these new puzzles are essentially Portal levels that involve a second set of portals. The two players are mirror images of one another, have the same controls, the same portal gun. players have swappable roles, 

Two Layered Cake
Spectra's co-op gameplay is different in that the two players abilities are directional and can be layered on top of each other. Each player is given the same set of colors: white, red, blue, yellow. However, they differ in the way that they use these colors. Games like portal 2 had a straightforward evolution to a two playermmode. It is, however tough to go in the other direction, creating a single player experience out of a multiplayer one. Part of our purpose for creating spectra is to bring two players closer together and feel the intimacy of the hero and heroine. The removal of either of the characters breaks down the structure of control. to use an analogy, Spectra would be the equivalent of two players each controlling a single portal. you need both of the portals for the mechanic to be demonstratable. you need two sets of primary colors to create secondary colors.

10-Day MEGA Hackathon

A friend of mine invited me to contribute some art on a hackathon project.  We were given 10 days to work on it, minus whatever time we would want to spend on Actual Classes that cost money.  The theme was the poem My Shadow by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Our game was a sidescrolling action platformer in which the player manipulates the position of the shadow of a priestess(placed on the floor, on the side of walls, or even right behind him), to execute different abilities, which both support her platforming and her combat.

Here is the stuff that I put together for the project:

And Yet Again Those Four Colors

I've been yearning for a course on color recently.  My school does not seem to offer one, and the closest I would be able to get to color theory would likely be the Painting class and/or certain Animation courses.  I remember watching the Gurren Lagann production documentary, and noting that a key role in the entire process were the people in the coloring department.

Another instance was a Toy Story 3 presentation by Lee Unkrich in which he showed how the entire film was color keyed to set the mood in each sequence.  

Agent Purple?
In this last game I worked on, Agent Purple, (again for CombiForm), I made sure not to recycle any previous colors, instead opting to practice using the Photoshop color picker.  I ended up referencing the original cover for A Study in Scarlet, and, at my producer's suggestion, Patrick Owsley's rendition of Secret Squirrel.

Fall Figure Drawings

I just did my first set of figure drawings since the beginning of the Fall Semester.

As usual, they get better as the session goes on.

Color Coded Characters

Last year in Game Design Workshop, for the first Paper Game, my team created a spy themed laser gun board game.  Each spy was given a color, and as such things usually go, we settled on Blue, Red, Green, Yellow, finding success in Google's logo design.  What makes it such that these four colors represent basicality?  The inclusion of Green instead of Orange or Purple a consequence of being complementary to red and a combination of the Opponent colors Blue and Yellow?

That's not to say that Green does not fit into the team.  Look, he's just as good a spy as any other:

I recently worked on another set of color coded characters, and as usual opted to assign them as hair colors.  These one's for Pop Quiz, a CombiForm math game:

Sis Puella Magica

I successfully completed my part in an art trade this weekend.  I gifted a fanart of Kyoko Sakura from the anime Puella Magi Madoka Magica.  If you havent seen it yet, consider it a must watch because Yuki Kajiura is behind the music.

In other news, I've been continuing game development as the new semester has started.  This time around I'll be creating art and designing the experiences around Combiform, Pid Rescue, and a tentatively titled Stained Glass (in one way or another inspired by Kyoko here).  Artists are much in need here, as the curricula focuses mainly on design and programming, and I've had classmates constantly suggest that I contribute drawings to their work.  I already have much to do, but that isn't to say I there arent other projects that I wouldnt mind doodling here and there for.

Having gotten an iPad recently, Zach and I have begun platform testing with Pid Rescue.  Flash developed applications absolutely do not run efficiently on Apple's devices, but with Machinarium working finely on the ipad2 and breaking sales charts on the App Store as a Flash app, making Pid Rescue run smoothly should be definitely possible.

I just found this resource today, which seems to provide a good starting point:

vacation's about to end

 Summer break is about to end!  Here's a couple of sketches and WIP, that I'll be working on as school starts up again.

The first drawing was part of a live stream at livestream.com/shuandang.  Any suggestions between ustream and livestream?

Summer Blues

I accept your challenge!


Finished a spunky character I started last night.  
 Yesterday was fine.  It'd only been a day, and I had preoccupations.  Today, however I woke up feeling empty, cold, carrying a nagging emptiness inside.  It hurts, it will inevitably scar;  If only I'd been strong enough to carry the burden and prevent the blood from spilling.

iPad LiveSketch doodles

Some quick doodles on my friend's iPad during a 4th of July celebration.  It's pretty fun for random sketching.

Secret Summer Game! Project Duet

Here's a sneak peak of what I've been working on in the weeks since E3.  There isn't really a reason to be secretive, but for now, I will be anyway.  I'm one of the designated programmers on the project, so there will be a shortage of art from me, but, whenever I draw something, I'll post it up!

Elise and style exploration

Another painting done with a palette of colors.  This time it came out really bland.  This is a painting of Elise done in a different style than the original drawing I had of her.  Expect some more style exploration with her!  

I've also played through the ending of Mass Effect yesterday, skipping many side missions (the universe was in immediate danger!).  I've transferred my ME save into ME2, and its very tempting to ignore work and continue the adventure.  Here's a bunch of screenshots from my gameplay, mostly of femshep. http://steamcommunity.com/id/kajiuran/screenshots/

On another note, I've finally earned enough points for Rumble in League of Legends!  My favourite yordle and I rock lanes with him!

Naginata and line-art

I think I'm getting the hang of line art.  This time around, I also prepared a color scheme so that I wouldnt get lost from all of the color choices.  Ah, traditional painting, with its more limited color choices, is so much more simpler.



Here’s a work in progress!  My drawing’s been so rusty since Fanime and E3, and this is the only good drawing from a sketch dump of bad doodles I made to get back into shape.


Trying to make sketchbook drawings look nice.  
Also trying to figure out a cost friendly phone plan (trick: there isn't one), and utterly failing at it.

Caffeine Girl

Meet "Caffeine Girl".  I found her hiding in an old notebook from last year, originally created to be in a game set in your local cafe.

She's that cute girl that that sits alone at the other end of the room, sipping her coffee and looking out the window.  And you wonder to yourself, What's she thinking of? And you feel the urge to walk over, and ask.  But you hesitate, and take another sip from your cup.

Instead of The Cafe, it could take place in the The Laundry Room (Days of College), On The Street (Murakami), or In The Library (Scott Pilgrim).

Anyway, I checked the local Coffee Bean and she wasn't there.  Turns out she isn't a person you're supposed to search for.


Hey look I drew a 4-koma.  The idea was taken from a discussion on philosophy and sketched on the bus ride to work the following day. Watch as my handwriting evolves panel after panel.

Figures (Spring 2011) Set 4

27 April 2011
Here's what I got from sneaking into my friends' drawing class!

Figures (Spring 2011) Set 3

16 February 2011