Rundown (6/23-6/29) Art Is Hard!

For years I have contemplated posting my novels in their entirety on Nigma Box rather than hosting them via Google Docs, but have not done so because I like having a header image associated with each of my posts and, well, I don’t have any visual assets to represent these works.  I thought about commissioning art for each chapter, or just the novel overall, but that could get expensive, and would require me working with an artist, which kinda scares me. So I said screw it, I’ll make my own headers. But I cannot draw, barely know how to use Photoshop, and lack visual artistic sensibilities, so what can I do?  I know! I made crummy sprite edits of 8-bit Danganronpa character sprites for my cover of A Vile Doohickey back in 2014, so I’ll just do that again!  So I tested this idea by making a header for Random #001: Grandpappy Pyra, and… it took me like 3 hours to make in total… Art is hard!

We are currently in the summertime slumps where not a lot of news is happening in Gamindustri, but that has not stopped games writers from digging up dirt on companies in order to expose the world to the poor conditions faced by the people who make games.  Yes, Jason Schrier of Kotaku has one again dived into the inner workings of a game studio, specifically Call of Duty developer Treyarch and the way they treat their Quality Assurance department.  All of which depicts the management within the company as being incredibly disrespectful to their QA staff, treating them as a lower caste of employee not allowed to mingle or converse with developers, and being forced to work unsustainably long hours in order to get enough money to pay their basic living expenses.  

This really is nothing new or shocking here, but goes to further highlight a problem lurking within the AAA games industry, and one that will likely only be solved via the introduction of a union.  An idea that would indeed treat the symptoms of the problem, it will not necessarily go after the cause.. The core problems discussed in Schrier’s works are managerial related issues stemming from tight deadlines, scope limitations, a lack of focus, or in the case of EA studios, the mandated use of inappropriate tools (Frostbite Engine).  Poor working conditions are symptoms of these issues, and I doubt things would be all sunshine and rainbows if the conditions improved and crunch was not mandated… but that would still be nice, since, y’know, worker abuse is destructive and inhumane.

Moving onto more regular publisher approved news, in a recent GameInformer piece, the CEO of Square Enix expressed an intention to make every game from their popular series available on modern platforms, regardless of whether or not the individual title will be profitable.  A notion that I find commendable from a preservationist perspective, and may be part of their previously stated initiative to provide their entire back catalog to consumers via a form of subscription service.  All of which should be relatively easy, if they still had the source code for many of their games, but Square Enix, and many other Japanese developers, have a bad habit of losing it.  I naturally hope that their efforts are successful, and that their rich history and contributions for the medium are made accessible on future hardware and for future generations to enjoy… and that they put out a good version of Final Fantasy VI after they released that visually butchered mobile port on PC.  *Shivers*

There are plenty of other Square Enix titles I would love to see them put out again, or check out for the first time, but with them seemingly fixating on bigger franchises, one can assume that titles like ActRaiser may be ignored.  A hyper specific example that I bring up because Sega is publishing a game from the people who made Rock of Ages and The Deadly Tower of Monsters that, well, is about as close to ActRaiser as you can get based on the debut trailer.  

The title, entitled SolSeraph, is a half action platformer half city management simulator centering around a loosely defined divine being aiming to please citizens while occasionally possessing the form of an angelic looking warrior with a big sword.  All of which looks as if it will play nicely, though the visual style adopted here and mingling of the 2D and 3D assets does strike me as a bit rough. Regardless, the game is coming from a talented team, and will debut on all relative platforms, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC, on July 10th

Speaking of upcoming summer releases, the Pokemon company held their own unauthorized ‘Nintendo Direct equivalent’ for Pokemon Masters, but it was mostly just a 4 minute anime trailer followed by a brief overview of the most basic inner workings of the game, followed by another announcement that the game will be available sometime this summer.  I know I swore off Gacha games, but I am curious enough to wet my toes in this title, but despite having a presentation built around it, the Pokemon Company is seemingly disinterested in selling it beyond stating that it is a flashy affair with active time battles, Z-Moves, and trainer support abilities.  

Also, in case anybody is wondering, I made this pixel art using Paint.net, which is surprisingly good for pixel art, and am using the Danganronpa V3 sprites from The Spriters Resource as reference points, which I mixed with a macro image I found a while back that, coincidentally, helped motivate me to make these header images in the first place.  I actually just finished another header right before scheduling this post, and it also took me ~3 hours to make. Here’s hoping that the… 17+22+16+16+14+4… 89 other headers I have on my to-do list will take less time as I become more efficient.  Oh goodness this was a mistake…

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