(The UI was developed by Megan and I through a never ending series of iteration. Something to be expected if we want to get it to function and feel right.)
The first playable demo is rapidly approaching. In a little over a month Creative Proximity and Box O Zombies look to reveal a peek at what is to be expected of the Box O Zombie game. The demo will also provide an opportunity for the art team to review how things are or are not working together visually. The biggest issue thus far is making sure that assets stand out against the ground texture.
Although measures were put in place to avoid visibility issues it turns out more needs to be done. A lot of this is due to the wide range of the camera. The player can zoom out quite a bit. This leads to a loss the simple block detail used in pixel art. There will be some touch ups as well as VFX tricks that will need to be implemented. It is very difficult to let some things go but it is important to create reminders that there will be time for it later and prioritize. I keep notes of issues and potential solutions. An I.O.U to any testers and the art team itself. We will pay back what we owe to the game before it fully ships.
As an artist I primarily focus on character, props and more recently environments. I greatly appreciate sleek UI design, but working on it can be a tedious process. For starters it is tricky business. The UI needs to sync with the game and when the visuals of the game slowly evolve with the update process it leads to a lot of iteration. The design at this stage has gone through various adjustments and changes. The UI is directly linked to function dictated by design, so that piles on more iterations and adjustments.
In addition, I also have moved to working on animation, icons and miscellaneous environment and clean up tasks. It is a rough road with small development and sometimes to many gear shifts can take it’s toll on the creative process. Early on I could focus primarily on the characters and overall art direction. Now that we are in a semi-crunch, it is more direction and even more production. Early on I felt like Dr. Octopus with the great art team working as extra arms. Now Dr. Octopus doesn’t have quite enough arms to keep Peter Parker from another mid-fight, sassy quote. SHUT UP ALREADY SPIDERMAN!
(The animation team now consist of Eddie Einikis, Sarah Harkey the mid production addition and myself. Unfortunately Vicky Kao took a break to pursue opportunities in comics, her work has been greatly appreciated. The Sprites in this post are a mixture of all our work.)
This is one area that was daunting early on. Animation, especially in isometric, ESPECIALLY with pixel art, is another area of tedium for some. Luckily, the team has picked up to pixel painting quite well. When sitting down to plan production I was concerned with the level of animations requested with the time and small team we had. There was a good amount of dissection and clever production shortcuts that helped make the schedule more reasonable. Solid production techniques, and prioritizing has also been very important. It also helps that although small, the team I work with is very talented. It also helped that despite my experience in certain areas, I overlooked a simple technique shown to be by Larry Pixel of the awesome Moon Intern team (http://www.moonintern.com/)
(As the case with many tasks, with time production runs smoother and more quickly. The key is not just improvement through repetition but properly utilizing new techniques, hot key’s and time management. I am very happy with the consistency in look from artist to artist through it all.)
So fast forward a bit to present time and we are in a really good place as far as delivering animations for the demo. There will be a significant amount of fixes and improvements I would like to see that will really push the sense style. For this deadline, we have some solid work keeping the spot in the code warm. Sarah, Eddie and I have been churning out sprite sheets, bringing each character to life.
The next Dev Diary will be the last! It will be a brief overview of the production and feature a look back at the game’s Style Guide. It will be interesting to see the comparison. It also could be very uninteresting. We shall see.
We hope you had a fun and safe July 4th weekend. As August approaches, we wanted
to give all of you an update on what’s going on with the Box O Zombies game.
We promised you beta access sometime in July but we’re going to have to bend that
promise. You’ll still get to test out what we’ve been working on this summer, but it looks
like it’s probably going to be a little closer to the end of August.
We know this might be disappointing to all of you but I assure you it is a necessary
delay. We want to provide all of you with the best test environment we can, and to do
that we need a little more time.
We Want You…To Play Box O Zombies
Make sure you keep www.boxozombies.com bookmarked as we’ll be posting more
developer diaries as well as some test footage in the coming days. We’re super excited
about what we’ve been working on and we’re anxious to get you all into the game.
As Zombie Sam would say, “Braaiiins!!” but what he’d mean was it will be worth the
(This year’s C2E2 booth was really amazing, kudos to Kent, Amanda, Shawn, Tim and everyone who made it what it was.)
(The booth was also generous this year giving out some toys, an iPad mini and an original sketch seen above. The sketch was done during the course of the final day.)
The dust has cleared, the banners are rolled up and the cardboard Iron Man suites are tucked away in the closet. Money has evacuated pockets. Rooms are decorated with superheroes and villains. C2E2 is in the rear view mirror, but there is still much work to be done for Box O Zombies.
A polished, fully playable demo of the game is in sights. This is impressive considering the team is a mix of professionals and students with most of us working on it part time. This makes production and deadline setting extremely tricky. As noted in earlier entries, flexibility and keeping a finger on the pulse is key. So far so good as the game is now taking shape before our eyes.
The game is ever changing and will continue to evolve. We have a UI in place, but it is almost sure to go through a transformation. Buildings are adjusted and characters are stepping off of the concept sheet into the pixel world. Below are some of the art updates since the latest entries. This includes the complete survivor roster and a couple last second Zombie editions.
(More characters are joining the team, all serving a specific purpose in keeping the community alive. The pixel art was created by Vicky Kao.)
This is the complete rosters of the game’s survivors, all of which will be key factors to your…survival. Behind all those furrowed brows (would you not furrow a brow during an apocalypse?), there are unique abilities that will prove valuable whether you need to destroy, manage, defend or construct. The cast of characters not only serve different elements of combat and narrative, they each come with a specialty, calling for you to properly implement them when planning the best way to not end up between awful smelling zombie teeth. For example, Nathaniel Tinkerton (farthest to the left) is an engineer. Upgrading and protecting him will be important in advancing your camps infrastructure and recovering lost technologies. Where as Mindy Gupta is the team’s doctor, maintaining health, emergency care and day to day medicine will depend on her progression.
(A couple new zombies join the group. This time I took a crack at the pixel versions so the team can focus on animation.)
The exploding zombie was a smooth process, which was good because I needed to turn these concepts around quickly. The idea was to create a bloated zombie that would explode onto people. Something that isn’t a new concept to the genre. As always, I wanted to figure out a way to bring something new to these old concepts and create a universe that feels a little different. So as I developed the silhouettes with a standard approach of a big, bulbous form, I started to play around with how human the zombie looked.
I pushed it to the point where it look less like a zombie and more of a alien/monster. It went too far, but helped establish some interesting ideas. What came about was developing it on the border of zombie and monster. I started to give it an amphibious feel. I wanted to convey this idea of pressure building internally and over all sliminess. So what better inspiration than a frog like form that inflates and is often moist. The zombie started to transform from standard exploding zombie, to monster and now into a frog like zombie, with touches of the creature of the black lagoon in it’s face
(Time was tight, but I am getting a little better at knocking out iterations in a short amount of time.)
Originally, I imagined the wrestler was attacked in his gym across from a construction yard. Upon turning, he chased out his apprentice into the construction yard where they battled and he picked up his extreme damage. Completely believable.
Although the story is absolutely plausible…The Luchador makes him a little too much of an individual for a character that needs to be duplicated through out the game. So upon the return to the drawing board a new story arose that complimented the design and function better.
I now started to develop him as a garbage man. I imagined him en route when he was bombarded by a hoard. Unable to fight them off, he was infected. In an attempt to avoid the life of a zombie he hurled himself into his truck as it was compacting. Unfortunately he turned while before being fully crushed and with his now mysterious zombies strength, crawled out to unleash smelly doom. The gives better support to the body damage as well as explains why you might see more than one of these guys hanging around.
So initial disappointment lead to more iteration and the strengthening of a character. This version suits the hopefully iconic elements better than before without pinning them down to an individual. The Luchador is definitely a character that will be revisited, and because of this process of cutting and rebuilding, that design will find itself stronger when its day comes.
In review both concepts could use some better rendering of the forms and surface textures. It would have also been nice to have a little more time to push the design further and refine elements to make the execution of the design a little more solid. I am getting better with poses but still have work to do in regards to making them feel a little more lose and fluid.
Box O Zombies exhibited at C2E2 last weekend to give a peek under the hood of our upcoming game for iOS and to showcase the brand new Touchstone from Creative Proximity working with the enhanced line of Box O Zombies toys.
Con attendees who stopped by the booth for a song and dance from our developers (featuring Shawn’s corny jokes), were introduced to the NFC collectible figures crafted for the Box O Zombies game and got to see first hand how the figures are used to create enhanced gameplay and add additional strategic elements to the game.
We were thrilled with the positive feedback on our game as well as the “game” changing NFC Touchstone. We can’t thank you enough for your support. Be sure to keep an eye out right here at BoxOZombies.com for information on how you can get into the beta and help support the project if you were unable to attend the C2E2 festivities. If you are interested in learning more about the Touchstone, NFC Toys, or how other game and app developers can integrate the Touchstone into their next project, visit the Creative Proximity site.
Our convention exclusive figure, Zomicbook Guy, was very popular, along with other available products for sale like the Founder’s Set which included the Touchstone and (3) limited edition bronze and green painted figures. We want to thank everyone who made a purchase, as you all are helping to support the remaining development of the game.
A congratulations to our two giveaway winners who were notified earlier this week of their incoming prizes. One lucky supporter who purchased a Touchstone is getting a brand new iPad Mini and a new Pixelite who signed up for Pixeldom on the convention floor will be getting the grand prize package of a Touchstone, the (3) limited edition figures AND an iPad Mini!
And Now for a Taste of Things to Come. You asked for more zombie info, well here it is. Take a look at some early game footage and a little taste of what you’ll be doing in the game. While it’s still in the alpha stages, rest assured by the time we launch we’ll have many more zombies on screen and the ability to build a much bigger camp.
Looks like Santa went down the wrong chimney this holiday. Check out this Zombified Santa created by the Box O Zombies team. This creepy Mr. Claus will be a full flesh figure with in-game content and is available through pledging the Box O Zombies game on Kickstarter.
The Box O Zombies game began with Shawn Recinto’s Box O Zombies figures. Recinto was influenced by his own children’s toys to create 2 inch Zombie figures that resonate the little green army men we all enjoy. He is now collaborating with Eight Bit Studios, NFC Data, and Pixeldom to create the Box O Zombies game. The game evolves around the player building and defending his camp from Zombie hoards. With NFC chip technology, the Zombie Santa and other figures will trigger exclusive in-game content with a simple scan.
My name is Amanda, I’m new here on the Box-O-Zombies team and you will be seeing some posts from me on site from time to time under the name amandaveronica.
I wanted to introduce some of the team to you so that you can get a feel for the real people who are working very hard and passionately on the Box-O-Zombies game. You may find we have a lot in common, and we’d really like you to know that we’re not just working on this as a job, it’s a creative collaboration made from like minds.
First here’s a video from our last meeting. Some of us spend more time thinking about zombies than others (one can only take so much zombie at any given time before going nuts) but we all spend most of our time thinking about how to make this experience the best possible one for gamers.
About: I was born in Chicago in 197… too far back? Ok, I’m a Technology Consultant and Entrepreneur who loves video games and martial arts. I started Immersive Realms back in 2004 and was inspired by my kids to make Box O Zombies back in 2010
Favorite Scary Movie: I have two: The Changeling and Poltergeist (I wet my pants just thinking about that bathtub scene and the wheelchair at the top of the stairs in The Changeling)
Favorite Video Game: The Quest For Glory Series
Weapon of Choice in a Zombie Outbreak: A Katana because lopping off undead heads looks like its fun
Who’s on my zombie apocalypse team: A Red shirt from the original Star Trek series so I can throw them at the zombie horde to slow them down as I make my getaway
TIM LYONS – Lead Designer
About: Tim is a video editor and motion graphics artist. He does improv all around the city of Chicago and is very much interested in the softer side of zombies, by which we mean where the best place to slice them open may be. He also enjoys sitting in dark theaters, going down hill, and peanut butter.
Favorite Scary Movie: Carnival of Souls (Classic), Insidious (Modern)
Favorite Video Game: Half-Life 2
Weapon of Choice in a Zombie Outbreak: Glamdring, Sword of Gandalf the Grey
Who’s on my zombie apocalypse team: Stone Cold Steve Austin
KENT MAGES – Lead Designer
About: I had dreams of building a game while in the Game Design program at Columbia College, and I’m finally getting that chance. I’ve worked in the tech space for the past 8 years, but my love of tech and geek goes back to my childhood. I’ve worked in online payments, mobile application development and I’m an avid gamer and movie fanatic.
Favorite Scary Movie: Event Horizon
Favorite Video Game: Halo
Weapon of Choice in a Zombie Outbreak: Aluminum baseball bat, just swing for the fences.
Who’s on my zombie apocalypse team: Superman, unless we find out zombie goo contains kryptonite…
About: Another Columbia College graduate, when I’m not working, playing video games, or creating digital art I can be found watching cartoons, dancing at a local metal concert, or walking my mini dachshund. I live my life by rule 32 of Zombieland: Enjoy the little things/don’t sweat the small stuff.
Favorite Scary Movie: 28 Days Later
Favorite Video Game: Chrono Trigger
Weapon of Choice in a Zombie Outbreak: Sawed-off double barrel shotgun
Who’s on my zombie apocalypse team: Peppermint Butler
MARTY MEINERZ – Composer and Sound Designer
About: I graduated from Columbia College here in Chicago with a degree in Game Design with a Sound Concentration, and have been freelance composing and sound designer-ing ever since. When I’m not working on music for games, odds are I’m listening to music from games(a.k.a playing games all day), reading Sci-fi books, or daydreaming about being a cowboy…or maybe a guy that lives in space…or a space cowboy.
Favorite Scary Movie: Event Horizon
Favorite Video Game: The Mass Effect series
Weapon of Choice in a Zombie Outbreak: With a body like this who needs weapons? But seriously, probably A LOT of guns.
Who’s on my zombie apocalypse team: An army of well trained bears.
ANGIE GOELLER – Marketing Intern
About: I have a Psychology degree from University of Toledo and currently getting
another at (you guessed it) Columbia College in Advertising Art Direction.
When I’m not at school or working, I’m either playing video games,
cooking/baking, or watching the moving pictures.
About: Hihi, I’m a 2008 graduate of Carthage College in Graphic Design with special interest in Web Development. I view myself as a casual gamer, but I have played Counter-strike competitively in LAN teams for several years. If I’m not being a workaholic, I am photographing inanimate objects, being crafty, and enjoy eating anything in sight.
Favorite Scary Movie: A Tale of Two Sisters
Favorite Video Game: currently it’s “Killing Floor”
Weapon of Choice in a Zombie Outbreak: Haruko’s bass guitar from “FLCL”
About: I’m attending my last year in Columbia College and working on some projects
(like Box O Zombies!). I like to draw. I’m Lithuanian. I’ve legally raced
my car last summer (timed, not wheel to wheel).
Favorite Scary Movie: I don’t like scary movies
Favorite Video Game: RollerCoaster Tycoon 1 & 2
Weapon of Choice in a Zombie Outbreak: Sword of a Thousand Truths
Who’s on my zombie apocalypse team: Brucie from GTA
About: I gradated from Robert Morris College in 2006 with a concentration in Graphic Design where I also played ice hockey. I love to play video games and go see the latest flick at the theater which works out great since I review a movie and video game on a podcast every week with my boyfriend Kent.
Favorite Scary Movie: Silence of the Lambs
Favorite Video Game: King’s Quest VI
Weapon of Choice in a Zombie Outbreak: Modified hockey stick with metal blade
About: I have been a Technologist in Chicago for over 20 years, diving deeply into mobile technoligies, specifically iOS 4 years ago. I’ve been working in Objective-C, that’s what the kids are calling it these days ‘cause that’s what the geezers called it in the late 80s, since 1992. I live tech, am an avid reader and a bit of a film buff. In addition to being a software engineer, I am also a linguist so I’m on fire at parties.
Favorite Scary Movie: Jaws
Favorite Video Game: I’m gonna go all modern and say Portal
Weapon of Choice in a Zombie Outbreak: Box-o-Brains
Who’s on my zombie apocalypse team: Lt. Cmdr Data from T.V.’s Star Trek, The Next Generation; The Terminator; and Jaws.
ANTHONY SIXTO – Art Director / Concept Artist
About: I graduated from Columbia College in Spring of 2011 with a degree in Game Art. I’m currently a contract artist working on various projects ranging from small animated shorts to triple A titles. I work as a illustrator, concept artist, 3D artists and occasionally an animator. I enjoy studying film and philosophy.
Favorite Scary Movie: Alien
Favorite Video Game: Metroid Prime
Weapon of Choice in a Zombie Outbreak: Tank
Who’s on my zombie apocalypse team: Ben Roethlisberger
RYAN BLAKE – 3D Artist
About: I am currently a character artist at Phosphor games where i sculpt, model, texture and setup characters for video games. I spend most of my time alone in a dark room with my Wacom. You can take that however you like it.
Favorite Scary Movie: Twilight
Favorite Video Game: Shaq Fu
Weapon of Choice in a Zombie Outbreak: Harry Potter’s Invisibility Cloak
Who’s on my zombie apocalypse team: Gandalf
DAVID LASKEY – Programmer
About: I’m currently a student at DePaul University studying Game Development Programming. Gaming is my favorite past-time, but making games is my passion. Outside of game dev I spend most of my time writing music and watching crappy movies on Netflix.
Favorite Scary Movie: Cabin in the Woods
Favorite Video Game: Gitaroo-Man
Weapon of Choice in a Zombie Outbreak: The Master Sword
Who’s on my zombie apocalypse team: The Eagles from The Hobbit
Now that you’ve met us, leave some comments below and tell us about yourselves!
And if you feel like it, we’d really appreciate your help in spreading the word about our Box-O-Zombies Game and the Kickstarter!
We’re pleased to announce that we’re getting in the holiday spirit with our Zombie Santa exclusive Kickstarter figure! Ever wonder what happens to Kris Kringle when you don’t feed him his cookies and milk? Wonder no more with this exclusive holiday flavored zombie.
Just because it’s the end of the world doesn’t mean Santa wont be making his way to your town. Our Zombie Santa is coming to eat your brain whether you’re naughty or nice. Complete with in game content and special Christmas bonuses, this limited edition figure will be included with all pledges with the exception of the JUST A FLESH WOUND level.
We’re also pleased to announce A VERY ZOMBIE CHRISTMAS pledge level. For $10 you get a digital copy of the game when it releases and your very own Zombie Santa. You’ll still need to buy an NFC reader or the full Box-O-Zombies game to get the in game Santa content, but you’ll have a Zombie Santa figure to keep you company all year long.
We’ve got some early concept art to share today and we’ll be showing off our finalized concepts over the next few days including an early render of the actual figure. Happy Holidays from the BoZ team!