Tuesday, December 29, 2020

New Year's Eve 2020

I don't even believe it. I've had this silly image on this blog for ten years straight and I still distinctly remember it enough to resurrect it and alter it slightly. So consider it repurposed if anything.

Anyways, 2020. The year that seemed to go wrong on so many accounts for me. March was the pandemic and the lockdowns and the closure of every single event (including the six conventions I was planning to go to this year) and turning every holiday into yet another basic day with nothing special. September was the death of my second Mac OSX and the loss of all my art, WIP's, sprites, music, documents, and con photos thanks to a mostly botched and incomplete hard drive recovery that couldn't pull most of the data to begin with (because Mac hardware is too "exotic" compared to the more widespread PCs). Being told it was a full recovery beforehand before receiving the refurbished, upgraded Macintosh didn't help in the slightest, but I'm sure you all know that by now and now I'm taking extra steps to make sure I don't lose more of my projects.

2020 was a bad year for art for me all for one simple reason. SRB2Kart. The indie kart-racing game starring Sonic the Hedgehog and co-starring characters from all sorts of different fictional works swallowed me up tenfold this year from the desire to add new racers and update existing ones and things just got really messy and started taking me too much time. Thus I'm taking a slight semi-hiatus to go and do other things so I'm not making characters for that game practically 24/7 but if you know me I tend to adjust my schedules and plans on the fly.

Believe me, I tried to start on full art renders for a character or two but I just couldn't do it or get it to look right. Plus making characters high-definition didn't do any favors and it just turned me off from doing more arts in that style from how much extra detail and zooming-in I have to do. Thus I'm thinking of going for a size inbetween the high res and the low res images I made in the 2010's so I don't feel like I'm pushing myself hard. Of course I'll still be going for making everything clean and sharp as I can so the renders still look good resized. For what I'll be making, the goal is to get one or two more renders for Aozora (one was being worked on before the hard drive failure) and resume making character renders for other characters in the project, starting with Ptolema. There will (hopefully) also be more of an effort to balance making art with making SRB2Kart racers along with trying to doodle out more sketches and non-Aozora creations, maybe. Fanart is still out of the question for the time being but depending on how I'm feeling I may be willing to take a venture and draw some art featuring others' characters.

I made a blog post on the Aozora blog detailing game ideas and concepts and the like. Due to just how bloated the series have become I've trimmed away some of the ideas that I deem lower priority or too complex that it may take them longer to get made. The revamped list ended up being mostly just 2D-based games with only the occasional 3D-based game joining the roster. For non-Aozora games there's Otaku-Ball, which is currently on hiatus until further notice (my last attempt at working on it didn't go so well and overall not a lot of progress was made) and atm I'm not planning on much else. And to further these goals I'm seeking to get a brand new Windows 10 computer for my birthday in June so any game-making software I try out is up-to-date, provided I have the funds necessary.

Sprite-ripping is on hold especially since I lost the font pack I had used for most of my rips for the Spriters' Resource. Most of the games I've always wanted to rip from are now all ripped with only a scant few left, though I may do a surprise rip here and there for the heck of it. No promises but don't count it entirely out, even if you only see a few new rips compared to prior years (doing rips fulltime stopped being interesting as I started to run out of material I wanted to rip quickly).

Custom content for other games is uncertain. I recently began to develop custom content for DX-Ball 2, a game I got for Christmas, and there's also the remainder of my Mari0 mappack "Special Something". Whenever I decide to resume that is pure chance but it might scratch the itch for wanting to make games that I've been craving since mid-December.

Anywho that's all for now, I'll keep quiet and let you enjoy the new years' celebrations.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Jump'N'Bump 3D Soundtrack

No this isn't the big New Years' post you were expecting, that won't be until about a day or two from now. But with Flash deactivating very very soon I thought it'd be appropriate to rip and share this soundtrack.

This here is Jump'N'Bump 3D, a flash game from February 2009 that was a part of my freshman-in-high-school self's favorite Flash games of the time. In other words the period when my imagination was at its peak and before I begun my entry into the world of social media and proceeding to embarrass my current older self. This game was a big part of that era and I deeply loved it, not to mention it was back when any sort of 3D in flash games was a rarity. And of course there's Julian Robotz' legendary score for the game, spanning seven tracks total and still being a fun listen even eleven years later, (twelve if you catch this by February 2021)

I've ripped the game a while back in the past but it was very incomplete rip, so this time I went double-duty and extracted all the music from the game followed by running it through Audacity to add all the necessary tags and establish better loop points.

Anyways I'll just shut up now and give you the link.
If the loops are wrong/incorrect please let me know and I'll update the soundtrack in the future.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

SJB's NullpoMino skins - Complete Collection

Hey everyone. Since it's Christmas Eve here I'd like to spend some time to wish you all a Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year (considering how up and down this year has been for me between the pandemic and my Mac dying suddenly). But today is not the place for going over the happenings of the year. Instead I'm treating you all to something I should have published long ago.

Long ago I contributed an assortment of custom skins to NullpoMino, an open source Tetris fangame packed with a variety of modes and a large assortment of modding potential. And of course, I stepped in and created a few skins for the game, including ports and rips from other Tetris games, bootlegs and clones, and a few other oddball skins. Since all my Dropbox links went inexplicably dead, a few people commented asking for a re-upload, and after some time of neglecting these calls I decided to finally answer everyone's prayers.

You can get the entire collection at this link. Be sure to add its contents to the "blockskin" folder and re-number the skins if you have previously downloaded and applied custom skins.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Candy Crisis (Mac/Windows) Soundtrack

Last time on Super Justin the Blog, you may recall that I lost many if not all of my ripped OST's and my desire to slowly revisit many of these games and provide rips not widely available online or ones that are improved over other downloads of the same soundtrack.

Today's subject and one that I have not tackled before is a Puyo Puyo clone released for Macintosh(!) back in 1999. Discovered around late October around when I received my new Mac, the soundtrack of Candy Crisis grew on me throughout November and to make getting a hand of it in a more widely-recognized format easier, I threw the audio files into a converter, added proper album info and track numbers, and compiled everything into a ZIP. For added connivence, I spliced the title screen theme "Delicious Nightmare" into three different songs: Unlooped and looped versions (the latter used in the game proper), and the second half normally not heard in-game due to the loop.


As for what's next, the next OST I decide to tackle will be one I ripped previously but never posted online, so it should be fresh and new to most of you.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The search for good music soundtracks

For about eleven years I have been building up a steady yet expansive library of videogame music. Then last September it all went to hell when the Mac hard drive went dead. While I'm certain they could just repair the contacts on the disc, put it into a new unit and it would be all good, they wasted no time in telling me it was a total failure and I had never bothered to put a backup drive in place after bad memories of one in the past where external hard drives were very bulky and worst of all, required an external power source.

I spent 15k dollars into getting the contents of the drive extracted and what I got back was a range of JPEG's and PNG's, all with generic numbered filenames and all with their info stripped away, and only a small selection of MP3's- only 474 songs were preserved compared to the 27,000 or so songs I recall having before the crash. Many of the songs were composed of self-made rips with the good majority of them not being put up for download online (which I plan on re-ripping from scratch), others were downloaded from various sites.

That last point deserves a bit of a closer look. Over the past decade, there existed many, many sites that hosted videogame OST's in mp3 format, some rips of one game being better than others of the same title, and as time went a lot of these links either died completely or the sites that hosted them went offline, meaning no one could access the links. This is a problem as one specific website which hosts a slew of videogame soundtracks that people submit (or just take from other parts of the web), except a good few of the OST rips are riddled with problems, including bot not limited to:

  • Being outdated as heck, with no good replacements or re-uploads since then to replace bad, usually low-quality rips with better ones (instead of vice versa as I've seen the site do with certain OST's).
  • Songs with loop points always running to exactly 3 minutes before fading out instead of the fade happening after the first loop (thus, two full loops are included)
  • Songs containing leftover sound effects and voices from the game in question.
  • Songs containing obvious skips in the recording or static/loud "chirps" scattered about.
  • Songs lacking proper author/album tags or just being the track title in lowercase with dashes in place of spaces.
  • An inverse of the above and the songs are just called "BGM #" or "Track #" with no effort made to give them proper labels. Or if they are labeled, they're all jumbled up.
  • Outright misses songs.
  • Being part of greater collection that ripped most of all of the games in all series but were then split apart and uploaded separately- only to neglect to upload certain parts of the "collection".
Paradoxically, a good deal of some of the ripped OST's hosted by the site were outperformed by external rips from other sites (including in one case, this very blog you're reading now), a lot of which fall under the "links removed or website taken down" pool I mentioned earlier. While not every soundtrack I have taken interest in falls under this trap, it's rather sad when it does, especially when better rips existed either on this site or externally before being replaced (or in my case, losing it to the hard drive "failure") and with how things are looking things may not get better.

Wile it's not much, I may go forward with an idea I've been developing due to the inability to recover my old music/mp3 files: Re-rip a good chunk of the OST's that I had once ripped in the past across NES, Game Boy, GBA, and a few other older consoles and upload them to this blog. If my memories do serve me right, I heard one of the sites I used to rely on for music downloads, so I might start some kind of project there to bring up or resurrect better versions of rips.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Ye olde SRB2Kart

 Well it's that time of the year again. For those of you wondering about the status of my Macintosh, yes I got it back, no I didn't get most of the content from the hard drive that failed. I'll touch up on the subject later in the moth so it doesn't hog up this post but lets just say it's not the same Mac and in a nutshell it's a brand new computer.

So where to begin. As you all know I routinely make content for a little game called Sonic Robo Blast 2 Kart and this whole debacle with my Mac's hard drive going dead really set me back quite a bit. I planned to finish and release one of the characters I was developing by late September but my unfamiliarity with Windows when it comes to making art plus the screen size being rather small meant I decided to just take the six weeks off. Luckily some members of the community helped me recover some WIP's I shared previously so I didn't have to start completely over but I did get knocked back a few steps when it came to some of the racers.

For the moment I'm going to spend a few weeks playing catchup with these custom racers so I can finally get something out- in the meantime I've been making some custom "Kartmaker" templates with the intent of helping out others since it became the de-facto way to make racers for some time and there's certain racers that require custom ones to work due to extra frames or having too large of a body to support an 80 x 80 pixel space without resorting to the larger 160 x 160 space-per-sprite template (leaving a lot of wasted space).

Anyways, here's what's on the radar for my projects for SRB2Kart.

  • As teased earlier on this blog, the OC's are still the biggest project I'm developing, containing Justin, Matt, and Amy. All three are being made and will release simultaneously as a pack separate from the SJBCP. Justin and Matt are 8,3 and 7,4 respectively, while Amy is 7,9.
  • Roger and Zax will start work sometime after while I'm busy with other racers. Their stats (4,2 and 8,6) will not be changed and they will be joined by newcomer Tan Tan with a stat spread of 3,1.
  • For the regular SJBCP pack, the first new racer released since last July will be Neku Sakuraba from Square Enix's The World Ends with You, with 8 speed and 6 weight. He's been stuck as a WIP for a while and I'd like to get him finished so the fast middleweight section has a new rep.
  • Following the completion of Neku Sakuraba is another duo of characters that I've had on the mind since last year: Berecca and Van from GungHo Online's little multiplayer Switch game Ninjala. These two Ninja-Gum powered children will be speed-focused lightweights at 9,3 and 8,4 respectively.
  • The last major characters on the lineup and the final duo will be too reps from Konami's Metal Gear Solid series: Solid Snake as he appears in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (along with other games that feature Snake with that particular look), and Raiden from his big starring role in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. Since a Snake racer has already existed for a while, I'll be giving my interpretation a more unique feel with a larger overall build and slower yet heavier stats (2,9). Raiden meanwhile will be the pack's 9,7 representative and like with the Ninjala characters, Solid Snake and Raiden will both release at the same time.
  • From there, future reps will be slowly worked on over time, with a dose of slower, acceleration-focused characters to balance out the large number of speedy racers in the pack.
  • When it comes to remakes, the current Vinesauce duo will be taken out of the abridged pack (a smaller-scale version of the pack intended for netgame servers with lots of characters) around when either the Ninjala or the Metal Gear Solid duo join the pack. In their place, both streamers will get a full respite from scratch and will be joined by one extra member, Imakuni, a streamer more closely connected to the Sonic series than either Vinny or Joel. Outside of this, Scott might get a from-scratch resprite (plus Beat but that's more on the fence compared to Scott) and one extra character, a remake of "Stevo" from a few net game servers, will be made and released as a separate add-on.
Further plans are TBD.

Friday, October 9, 2020

3D Maze Man: Complete Modded Collection

This was something I've been meaning to do for a while and now that my Macintosh is still in the repair shop I figured I'd finally get it out of the way.

You may recall back in September 2016 I posted a custom-modded version of 3D Maze Man that added a few extra levels to the campaign and restored the otherwise cut Winter Wonderland world from Fantasy Zone. The truth is, I also have modded the other four games in the "series", which were all built from the same engine and feature otherwise identical gameplay.

3D Munch Man II not pictured

These modded versions serve to slightly distance the games from each other- primarily in the audio department. Rather than pull all of the music from the original 3D Maze Man, the other games sans Winter Wonderland are given new and unique soundtracks. 3D Frog Man takes its OST from the otherwise unrelated 3D Frog Frenzy, 3D Ms. Maze uses the tracks from 3D Caveman Rocks!, and 3D Munch Man II has a new selection of tunes assembled from various Webfoot games. The sound effects and in-game text have been altered as well to varying degrees (no more screaming, instead you get the classic Pac-Man death sound and a few other "funny" sounds if a ghost catches you) to give each game a different feel, if that makes sense. The original sounds are still included if you wish to revert the changes.

The odd one out in this collection is Winter Wonderland, the only game in the pack that is almost identical to the original save for text changes and is only here for the sake of being the complete collection with no exceptions to the rule.

You can grab the pack in its entirety here, and remember to use Windows 98 compatibility if your computer supports it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

The return and retool of Super Justin

Long ago, you may recall back when I was a teenager I crafted a project named "Super Justin". Needless to say it was an absolute mess and after roughly seven months of existing on the net, everything about it was dropped. Today I still look back at certain stunts I did with the project in pure disgust but I still saw a very small glimpse of hope for it, and for the past few years I've been toying with the idea of bringing it back to an extent, but with a massive overhaul that gives its main cast better characterization and does away with all of the controversial elements that the project was associated with back in 2009.

I sort of teased this idea when in late 2018, I re-created what I nowadays consider the "main trio" (Justin, Roger, and Zax) into SRB2Kart, a game that readers of this very blog should be familiar with.

Eventually they gained a small niche among the game's custom character community and I decided to give them further revamps and retools, similar to what I recently did for most of the other characters I made for the game in its first three months. This includes giving them new sprite sets to put them on par with my newer racers while also reintroducing two characters originally envisioned as siblings to the fictional Justin. Due to circumstances regarding my Macintosh I had to delay the project, but it will re-enter full swing once I have everything (hopefully!) restored.

Otherwise here's a list of changes that I plan on launching in this reboot (yes, a list, you know I love these!):
  • Justin is same ol Justin, a 14-year old with a heroic but zany and immature personality at his worst. He's mostly like if Mario, Sonic, and Monkey. D. Luffy were conjoined into one character personality wise, but out of all of these characters his personality is more like the latter two. His super speed is downgraded to just being able to run quickly, akin to the classic Sonic games, though he can still do Sonic's rolling maneuvers including the Spin Dash.
  • Justin's brother Matt, age 15, is given a unique, more slender form instead of copying and pasting Justin's. He remains as the "Luigi" to Justin's Mario, being slightly more cowardly but more mature, intelligent, and a bit snarky (especially in competitions). He shares Justin's moveset, except he's not as fast, but in return has better acrobatic abilities especially on the jumping side (if a bit slippery).
  • Amy and Rebecca are no longer siblings but instead older cousins to Justin and Matt, bumped up from being teens to proper adults aged at 19. They're both jocks (especially Amy who now has a small noticeable amount of muscle) and continue to wield their old weapons (Amy's hammer, Rebecca's magic wand). While Rebecca remains overly pleasant and sociable, Amy is turned into a more smug, irate, and easy to upset figure, but otherwise is still protective of her younger cousins and their friends.
  • Roger, aged 13, is altered into a human/beast child instead of going through further mutation as the story progresses, though his levitating wings are replaced with more proper vampire wings from the get-go. To make his outfit more modest, his shirt will be changed from a wrap that goes around his chest to a fitness tank custom-made to better support the fact that he has wings intruding from his back (with a giant zipper on the back). Personality-wise he's still smug and a bit of a brat when he's angry, but his intelligence is bumped up to better make him the "Tails" to Justin's Sonic, though his engineering traits are not as pronounced as Tails'.
  • Zax's outfit shows less skin compared to the 2009 version while still incorporating the theme of a scientist/researcher as the new standard to his look. Meanwhile, the Hawaiian-style "summer" getup from 2008 is still used for when he's on break, altered to provide improvements. Zax is 17 years old in this retool and retains the magnetic liquid metal morphing arm (with several different forms than what he was usually drawn with in '09).
  • Tan-Tan still remains a loyal robotic partner to Justin in the cases where Matt and Roger don't, including flipping his main body upside down so Justin/anyone else can surf on it. To prevent redundancy, the similar characters San-San and Ran-Ran will likely be dropped out of this reboot in favor of fleshing out Tan-Tan further.
Anyone not listed here will either be replaced or removed. Mostly since a number of the designs strike an uncomfortable itch and are a little too close to what was wrong about Super Justin and why it got canned in the first place. I've changed a lot since then and I'd rather keep the main cast short and sweet instead of turning it into something large and complex like Aozora (and Aozora has a very good reason to be as big as it is). Additionally, Justin will get a new adversary to oppose- and he should be a large improvement over any of the previous adversaries he had in the past, even in the incarnations of him prior to me entering the online world.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Death of a Macintosh

 I have no idea how it came to be like this but the computer that I've used proudly for 8 whole years suddenly froze in the middle of a typical internet session, forcing me to do a soft reset. When I turned the computer on, to my utter shock, I was greeted to a "no" symbol.

Turns out the hard drive decided to fail randomly on me and I was scrambling around trying to figure out if it did indeed fail or if certain parts of the disk were still safe, and no, it was busted. And I had not backed anything up for it (ironic considering how much I like to preserve things like old games) so a restore through Time Machine wouldn't cut it. A friend of my father's even stopped by to further investigate the computer, realizing that the disk drive could not be read by the computer despite it otherwise seemingly being functional.

So after some afternoon errands I took the computer to a nearby Best Buy and they refused to do anything related to touching the innards of the machine, so I then took the computer to a not-so nearby fella that had made my personalized Windows 8 five years ago. He took apart the machine no problem and tested the hard drive. This was how I knew the issue was a failing hard drive and... somehow it had been slowly dying over the past several years only for me not to have realized it and now it was to the point where it couldn't realistically run. The guy said I could have the hard drive mailed out to a specialist group that was based around getting the contents out of dead drives and have had a 99.99% success rate, so I took the plunge and let him mail out the nonfunctional drive as well as improve some of the internal specs of my 2012 model iMac for the low low price of 600 dollars.

The bad news was it's going to take them around two weeks to complete the data extraction, including the 1.5 TB's worth of files, images, and music. In other words that means if the data can be extracted, if at all, I'm going to be forced to wait till the end of this month before I can resume any of my big projects, most of which is more content for SRB2Kart. I did try to jump back into regular artwork lately but my attempt to work with the pose/posture I decided on for Ptolema wasn't going to cut it, so when I do get my Mac back (heh.) Ptolema's pose will be further refined until I get something fluid and dynamic while also not being far, far out of my league (then again she's in skintight but I do have some ideas to make her outfit more interesting).

If the drive can't be recovered then I'll be spending quite a lot of time trying to build everything up back to where I was and I don't know how easy or hard it would be considering nothing I was working on was archived properly barring the stuff I shared over the many Discord channels I'm in.

As a form of last ditch-effort I threw Photoshop onto my PC. It may not do me that good until I have access to my files due to the different form factor and having to reconfigure everything but at least it's an option for doodling or sketching and maybe some other minor content. As for now I'd rather wait until I know I can continue working on my main projects before I start tinkering with stuff on my PC (besides I feel burnt out from constantly making kart racers for several months straight) but maybe I'll make something interesting if I'm bored enough.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Nothing new, really?

I'ma be real with you, everyone. Lately there just has not been anything worth commenting on- all I can say is I'm slowly grinding through more SRB2Kart characters and polishing out the occasional Wiki. 

It should go without saying that every convention I've been eyeing up this year was canceled. Which is fine in a way since 2016 was a nice warm up, 2017 was pretty packed with cons and both 2018 and 2019 were home to six major cons and a small number of smaller local cons each. I met a gigantic roster of artists and captured so many good memories in just those four years (especially in the latter two years) that taking the year off doesn't really impact me as much as I thought it would. Still it was a bit heartbreaking seeing all these cons I've familiarized myself so much with in the past two years being forced to cancel due to the ongoing pandemic.

Honestly atm I might just end up reusing this graphic next year since it was a good way to kill an afternoon and it's got some of the more recent additions to my roster of OC's.

Monday, June 29, 2020

The late June experience

Yeayea, I know I had planned to make a post for my birthday but it kind of just fell by the wayside. Especially now that adulthood means birthdays have not as much oomph as they once did and my inability to go and do things outside my home severely limits what I could have done on that day anyways. It was a fine birthday all things considered but it does leave me wishing for more.

Con-wise, as I established already, pretty much every con up to Long Island Retro Gaming Expo was dropped due to the ongoing virus (you can do online events and such but they don't have much of the charm that makes cons fun to attend for me). That leaves the two New York-based conventions as the only cons that are still planning to welcome guests on their respective dates.

With how things are progressing and the fact I had to miss more than half of the major conventions I was planning on attending this year (plus considering how crowded these cons in particular got last year especially with AnimeNYC's new layout and boosted attendance), I may hold off on attending these last two cons if they were to avoid the cancel-hammer out of safety for myself and since I kind of need the break from cons after spending 2017, 2018, and 2019 going to convention after convention and convention.

They get kinda expensive too and trying to get tickets and find parking at the cons themselves was as counter-productive as ever (except for the local cons) but let's not talk about that.

I'll probably reserve plans for SRB2Kart and what else is on the table for a post next month.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Slow Times

Hey there. I'm not really sure what to go on about in terms of content, just haven't been feeling my usual wave of creativity as we speak.

Partially from how stagnant (and dare I say, boring) my personal life has gotten as a result of the pandemic. Virtually every convention in the foreseeable future is postponed, local businesses are either closed or greatly impacted, and I'm not able to go meet up with others in public, whenever it be at the redemption arcade or wherever. It's sad, honestly.

So it's discouraged me from trying to get stuff accomplished just from how... I won't say depressed but I wouldn't say it's super-great either things have been. SRB2Kart is still the main focus and I might end up spending the whole rest of 2020 finishing up the mass selection of racers I have planned. And well, I'll see when exactly I get to finish them cause I've been struggling a wee bit with them. That's what not being exactly super-motivated does to you, so I unfortunately can't give an exact release on Springman or Sunset Overdriver other than "we'll see", so expect one of them to drop in mid to late June. And if 2.0 Kart ever stealth-drops, I'll start on a project to get all my current racers in the new kart frame model before I resume with making more (which shouldn't take as long apart from the sheer number of racers there are to convert).

Onto other things- I would like to get started on some art sometime this Summer, but when in the summer is still in the air. It all honestly depends on how much I'm able to get done with other things and if I'm not super bummed out from not being able to do anything interesting since mid March thanks to the pandemic. I did write a few things about the Aozoraverse but it's not really in a state that I'd like to share it, and I'm still leaning towards relying on outsourcing character designs to other artists for the time being- though not really as often as I once did with the increasing prices artists charge for designs and DeviantART being pretty near-unreliable for getting designers that do the exact kind fo character you want.

Anyways I'll stop here cause I don't know what else to say.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

2020 Conventions: A followup

Okay so it's been quite a while since I reported on what I was planning for conventions this year and wow. In the period from March 14th to today, both Castle Point Anime Convention 2020 and AnimeNEXT 2020 get canceled as a result fo the virus floating around (and numbers still going up even if we're all still being confined to our living spaces). The rest of the conventions throughout the the year either followed suit or are still waiting out on if things get any better (let's face it, it likely won't)

With how things are progressing I may just call a year off from conventions just to keep on the safe side. I've been to two major cons in 2016, a few more in 2017, and then 2018 and 2019 being the first two years where I attended all of the "signature cons" without skipping one for one reason or another. So if I were to indeed call "this year off" it wouldn't mean or impact much since I've been to so many conventions, large and small, over the past four years.

The earliest con I'm willing to consider attending this year is Long Island Retro Gaming Expo 2020. I'm uncertain about NYCC2020 unless that gets canceled since it's on a much bigger scale compared to most of the other cons. As for AnimeNYC2020, I'm going to try seeing about attending that convention as well even if it's massively grown in scale from the first two years.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

SRB2Kart: Going forward

Alright, clearly I lied when I said I wanted to put aside working on this game in favor of doing other projects because I ended up coming back to it in what may be my biggest death wish ever. Especially while my area continues to be under the threat of the virus sweeping the nation, but that's a story for another day.

Since SRB2Kart Version 2.0 never happened and likely won't happen for quite a while, I figured I'd bite the bullet and do my "Character Refurbishment/Renovation" project alongside bringing two new, highly-detailed racers to the roster. That basically means every racer from the Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff duo to the Noid are getting some kind of alteration, either a full on remake in the case of Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff to simply making the legs and feet of the racers on-model.

These changes to the pack will be carried out in what I hope to be two, maybe three versions of the Super Justin Bros Character Pack. 2.0.1, 2.1, and 2.2.

2.0.1 along with some minor changes not worth mentioning (really, they're super-minor) will feature the Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff remakes as well as touchups to the Vinesauce duo, Scott Pilgrim, and The Noid while also putting in my Beat remake from last year as a bonus. 2.1 will be the debut of the Sunset Overdriver and a touchup to Slash Kamel with cleaned up hair and better two-tone support with the maroon color, and 2.2 will see the release of SRB2Kart's first pinball rep, Dr. Dude. From there the pack will very likely enter another period of dormancy so I can put some effort into other projects as I mentioned in my last post on SRB2Kart. I may dip back into the game every now and then to do light progress on more racers and fill out more stat blocks with little representation, but I'm not making any promises if I decide to go a while without working on a kart racer.

Two of the racers currently in the pack, Pipo Monkey and the Self-Propelled Bomb, will also be removed from the pack starting from 2.0.1 for various reasons. For the Pipo Monkey, his sprites feel outdated and have a certain ounce of "laziness" to them so I'm thinking of scrapping and coming back to the racer in the future. As for the Self-Propelled Bomb (aka the thing that chases after you in first place), the novelty of it wears off quickly and I feel the concept of a playable S.P.B. can be executed better with lua scripting, which I don't know. But if you are curious, here is a diagram showing how I'd like to revamp the SPB racer:

If the image is a bit hard to understand, I'll sum it up. Since I created the SPB racer, I always wanted it to better interact with the SPB item that when used chases after the leader of the race. In that the SPB itself jumps out of the kart when the item is used and makes a mad dash for the one currently leading the race (maybe with a "SPB cam" on-screen somewhere showing it trailing the leading racer) while a "SPB essence", a less-aggressive looking SPB with either a fully bare body or a smaller colorable ring continues to drive its Kart. When the SPB is either destroyed or collides with the leading racer, it remerges with its essence and returns to driving its Kart. Even if this full scope revamp of the SPB happens, it'll likely remain a separate racer from the pack as it already has two "sprite rip" racers in the form of Robo-hood and Gargoyle, both whom I'm waiting until Kart 2.0 before I start porting their redesigns from SRB2 2.2 over.

Anyways that's all I really have to say. I expected 2020 to be a year where I could take a nice break from Kart but after realizing all this stuff to do was piling up, I figured I'm jump back into action and finish what I had started.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

2020 Conventions

Yup, It's that time of the year again. A new year, a new lineup of anime, comic, and video game conventions. And this year it's not exactly much different from 2019 in terms of the lineup, with the same six major conventions that I attended since 2018.

The one major factor here however is, well, North America, in particular New York and New Jersey, is currently under the scare of the Coronavirus and politics clearly hyping it up to be some mega ultra deadly virus that will absolutely kill anyone who contracts it. And this month with cases flying around the locations of these cons among others, conventions have either had to cancel or continue on with less attendees. This graph, however, assumes none of the conventions are harshly impacted by the virus by the time May rolls around with Castle Point Anime Convention 2020, in which the rising temperatures will force the virus into dormant state.

But enough about some virus, let's get into the big meat of the post. Once again I pulled out some characters to represent the trips to the six big-name conventions I'm targeting this year (though I tried to make the image more stylized and detailed) and for the most part the cons are all as you remember them, two in New Jersey, two on my homeland of Long Island, and two deep in New York City. The change comes in what months two of the cons take place: Castle Point got the very early May slot (which is usually the slot it does get if it does not secure a late April timeframe like last year) and Eternal Con moved from late June to mid July. The rest of the conventions are still set in their typical timeframes: AnimeNEXT in mid June, Long Island Retro Gaming in early August, NYCC in early October, and AnimeNYC in mid-late November. With the timings being adjusted, that means I get four months straight of conventions followed by a break in September, then two more months straight of cons. It's honestly pretty crazy, but I've seen friends of mine that attend lots more conventions year-round. And while I would like to attend more cons myself, I'm... not exactly sure if I'm ready for venturing out further away.

You may have noticed that unlike last year, I did not pick out exact dates for the conventions as I did last year. There were multiple times last year where I had to change the date I was planning on attending a certain con (including changing the accompanying con timeline image) after pre-planning for that one day for months. So this year I will just go with announcing the date on social media but for the most part expect em to attend a convention on either Friday or Saturday (for three and four day cons) or Saturday only (for two-day cons). I still don't have it up to me to attend a con for two or more days straight as I always "exhaust" the con on the day I do visit (and not to mention even if hotels are getting steadily better if you pick the commercial ones, I don't have a laptop to game on or work on projects while I'm away). If you all remember, I spent 10 hours at AnimeNEXT last year and walked several thousand steps that day- I don't think my legs would be up for another day of what is effectively running a marathon across the convention centers.

(seriously where are the spare benches and seats in these cons? People just parking their butts on the concrete floor should have sent a message to con organizers by now).

Anyways I'll be back when I have more stuff that's worthy enough to stick in a blogpost.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Kuball Net: Lost(?) Japanese Doujin game

Once upon a time, it was December 2018 and I was watching some Sunday Night Vinesauce, typically containing corruptions and/or grab bags of different games, some well known (like the nineteenth-millionth Super Mario 64 corruption or the thousandth Banjo-Kazooie opening sequence but messed up) and some obscure (late 90's early 2000's PC games, prototype collections, and "failed mascots"). This time the theme was Japanese indie games, aka doujin soft games typically sold through a convention held twice a year known as the Comic Market, or Comiket.

Now as you are are likely to know I'm no stranger to doujin games. A little around twelve years ago I discovered a little game known as Rosenkreuzstilette and... let's just say my relationship with said game was kind of complicated and while I gave the sequel released some time later a fair chance and will admit it's good, it was kind of disappointing with how very little the game took the Mega Man formula and twisted it into something new and fresh. But that's a story for another day and I would absolutely not like to alienate the RKS fandom as my younger, less controlled freshman at high school self did all those years back.

Anyways back to the topic on hand. This is Kuball Net (クゥるぼ~る), a doujin soft game from 2003, developed by Studio Til. Like RKS, it was sold at Comiket for a few years with a trial version available for download online which contained a limited roster of characters and stages, (three each) Unlike RKS, the full version was never re-released in digital format and the current website of the studio makes no mention of Kuball Net. There are footage and screens of the full version and you can get a partial archive of the old site, but a download or other means to acquire the full game is practically nonexistent. It's a similar situation to a number of shareware games from the DOS era that never had their registered versions uploaded online or put up on digital storefronts. I'd even say Aquanoid, one of my personal favorites, was subject to this.

So I've told you this game is not easily accessible without getting into detail on what kind of game it exactly is. Well it's a sorts game of sorts where you play as one of several female characters, grab little fuzzy creatures known as Ku, and throw them into your goal to score while throwing barrels and  using special attacks on your opponent to disrupt them and throw evil black Ku into their goal to lower their score. If one side stashes up too many Ku, the referee, the small siren girl Lou, pops out of one of the goals and runs around the arena. If stunned and thrown back into a goal, whichever side Lou was thrown into will be at a huge disadvantage.

The three characters of the demo include:

Fal, the cute and sweet (according to her oversized eyes and blush stickers) girl with long blue hair,
Tiara, the pink-haired lady with a fiery passion,
and Diva, who quickly grew to be my favorite of the three girls if you know my love for tough characters.

Among them included the likes of cat girls Mia and Rin, the athletic long-haired Ayane, and the kind of nerdy(?) Yukari. Two other characters, Iris and G Yukarin, got introduced afterwards, bumping up the roster to nine, as shown in this pic below.

(from left to right: G Yukarin, Rin, Tiara, Ayane, Fal, Mia, Yukari, Diva, Iris)

This game isn't exactly on my high-priority list of games to own and I'm sure if I did get it, not much would change except having to swap out the demo version that's been on my Windows 2000 since last year with the full release version (and possibly being able to post more assets of the game online onto the Spriters' Resource for archival purposes, plus if I ever decide to maybe do a full on remake with more characters/stages and a new "arrange mode").

That's all for now.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Karted Out

For pretty much the entirety of 2019, I was a frequent contributor to the game "Sonic Robo Blast 2 Kart", an extensive mod of Sonic Robo Blast 2 that I've mentioned years ago on this blog (and I mean years ago). How did I contribute? Well, I crafted a good haul of custom racers featuring both well known and obscure characters, some of which were created for special collaboration packs. However, with my latest creation taking me literal months to complete (though that can be attributed to it being a quad character update) with progress running through several conventions in the latter half of 2019, I thought I'd take a break from doing more racers for the time being. And even when I tried to work on more racers when saw break was "up", I started having trouble keeping focused on one thing and not zoning out.

So what's happening? Well I figured it'd have to happen at some point but I'm going to be taking a hiatus from working on racers for the time being. I might squeeze some progress out once in a while but my priorities are elsewhere. To make a long story short I'll give you guys a brief summary on why this may be the best course of action:

  • Burnout. Sonic Robo Blast 2 Kart character creation became the biggest priority of the year alongside sprite-ripping, and it became so frequent that I even had to call for a break from doing sprite sheets just so I could focus on SRB2Kart, and even after finishing up all my racers for the year, I still don't feel the audacity to resume ripping sprites. Pretty much every day I was doing one or the other and it was honestly getting less fun as I went, trying to shift back and fourth from project to project. And that's not even getting into the lesser racers that I worked on outside of the SJBCP.
  • Some physical condition crap. Since August of last year some things began popping up regarding my arms/shoulders as well as my neck, in addition to allergy and sinus problems. And since conventions are going to be starting up soon for me once again (and by soon I mean in early May) I need to try and prep myself and my form when the time comes.
  • Artwork. While I haven't started on anything major yet, there may be a point this year when I decide to whip out my art programs and make some art. Some of it will be available to the public, others may very well only be for a limited audience (and if you've seen my past project you'll likely know why). But my point stands that art still takes a while to do and I'd like to try and get some art worked on over the year if the problems under "Some Physical Condition crap" lessen up and I don't feel as terrible.
  • Custom levels in games. I'm part of the team for a friend's Pac-Man project and I've become the team's main level designer (so yeah I did manage to get into working on a Pac-Man related project after all) and I've been considering picking up my Mari0 map pack again and working on it some more since I kind of neglected it for most of last year (but that can mostly be attributed to newer Photoshop being slightly harder to make retro backgrounds on since I haven't figured out how to make the transparent background a 16x16 tiled pattern when zoomed in). There's also Otaku-Ball, but as I've had no contact from Mr. Block for quite a while, that project is pretty much on hiatus too.
  • Binging games. Oh yeah I play games too. Sonic Robo Blast 2 had a proper update, Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled is still having monthly "Grand Prix" events, I'm still collecting and strengthening Pokemon in Sword and Shield, and I recently got back into OpenRCT2.
  • Kart's 2.0 update still MIA. Since Kart hasn't had a major update in quite some time while the newer 2.0 build is worked on, it's also been a sort of contribution to the lack of motivation to work a good deal on more racers.
The SJBCP is currently at 25 racers, with some racers planned for a big overhaul of sorts as part of a "tuning update" to prep the pack for Kart 2.0. When I get motivation to work on more racers, the tuning update will be done alongside new racers, to the point where one update might be a new racer + a major tuning update or a new racer plus several minor tuning updates. These will tweak and fix colors and several other errors to update everyone up to current standards.

As for future racers...
  • Sunset Overdriver (9 speed 6 weight) and Springman (6 speed 5 weight) will likely be the next two racers to join the pack, in that order. Along with or sometime after Springman, Dr. Dude (9 speed 8 weight) will be worked on.
  • "MGS2" Solid Snake (2 speed 9 weight) and "MGR" Riden (9 speed 7 weight) from the Metal Gear Solid series will follow in the stead of the two/three racers. Snake will differ from the currently-released Snake racer in that this take will be based more closely around the Metal Gear Solid 2 version of the character. Both Snake and Raiden are intended to be worked on and released simultaneously but Snake may be released first/early if progress with Raiden is slow.
  • Tracer (9 speed 4 weight) will likely follow after the MGS duo, with Neku Sakuraba (8 speed 6 weight) not long after.
  • The "Ninjala Duo" consisting of Van (8 speed 4 weight) and Berecca (9 speed 3 weight), the main duo used for promoting the currently-Switch-exclusive Ninjala are on low priority as they're part of A) an upcoming game and B) two of SRB2Kart's most overused weight classes (fast lightweight and fast middleweight). We'll see if I feel motivated to work on them after the games get released.
  • The Mr. Driller duo, containing Susumu (4 speed 4 weight) and Taizo Hori (1 speed 8 weight), are also low priority. Partially since both racers already exist in Kart in some way; Susumu being based on his older look from the first Mr. Driller, while Taizo is based around his debut game: Dig Dug. The versions I will work on will use the "modern" versions of both, using the looks/artstyle of the characters from Mr. Driller A, Drill Land and Drill Spirits.
  • Other racers, which include the likes of Yuichiro Tomari, Coca-Cola Kid, the DMC Duo with DMC5 Dante and DMC5 Nero (as DMC3 Dante already exists), Mister Mosquito, and Asterix, are currently TBD.
  • Maybe a few joke racers similar to 7 Grand Dad, but don't hold your breath on those.
And with that I've made my case. Apologies for January not being as eventful as I had hoped but I'm currently stuck in some crap that I need to get sorted out, even if that's more to do with my form and being too lazy to do work. In the meantime you can experience what I've done so far for Kart if you haven't already here.