A lot of people were posting their 2018 retrospectives right around New Year’s like you’d expect, so i decided to wait a little on mine despite the fact that I totally made one on time. 2018 was a big year for me, a lot of crazy stuff happened and overall ended pretty positive yet tiring. This is a very long recounting of that time so just know I appreciate you reading even a little bit of it all. There is no tl:dr.
Just a couple days into the year I attended MAGfest for the very first time with some friends and met a ton of wonderful people, attended my first concert, met up with some NG users, talked to other indie game devs, bought too many posters from the artist alley and had an all around good time with my friends. Unfortunately I couldn’t afford to go this year otherwise I’d be enjoying myself at the Gaylord National instead of typing this news post up. When we got back from DC, I finally got to cut off the 18 months of hair I had grown to donate. Immediately after a shower I bounced on over to the arcade for my best friend’s birthday. Also at the start of the year Malcolm, Anton, and I were wrapping up development on The Story Goes On(a 3 year long project) for Xbox One and Steam(PC, Mac, Linux). I’d call up Anton in the morning to do some final QA by playtesting levels and he would touch up the code while watching me screen-share gameplay. When he’d go to bed(Anton lives in Sweden),I would drive on my 40 minute commute to community college to waste away at courses I was more qualified to teach than my professors; not a flex, it was that sad. We logged nearly 300 hours of testing this way on multiple accounts with several 100% completions and speedruns(spend 3 years on something and I outta be thorough before the release). I didn’t have much time for other personal projects because I was also applying to 4 different art schools to transfer to in the fall semester. During this period of limbo that my future was in, @EiGiBeast on the site contacted myself, @Ninjamuffin99 and @Digimin through @moawling’s discord server about making a horny RPG for the Strawberry Jam 2(initially Cam’s idea but as recurring trends will show he’s very late to invite other members). It was a two-week long game jam so even though I missed the first weekend I had time to contribute. I was still polishing TSGO and only really knew Cameron(who was a fan of mine and we collaborated on Breathing Sim already) from the bunch, so I asked to take a backseat and just supply additional code to the project with a little game-feel insight. This project evolved into Monster Mashing after EiGi stormed out of the project. We left what was done alone til the last two days and scrambled to finish something from the ruins; I could spend hours in detail about the whole experience and what lies after so I won't go too in depth here, maybe we’ll do a podcast sometime with a more focused post-mortem on the finished product. The three of us bonded over that whole experience and decided to keep working on the game even after submitting it; slightly past deadline. We're actually preparing for a Deluxe Version release on several platforms nearly one year later! You can read more in my previous two news posts I did this year about the first couple months, especially the one about March 1st, 2nd and 3rd which was amazingly hectic and fun.
March 3rd was one of the highlights of my year which is a shame I haven’t catalogued much about it on the site yet. I started the day with a solo trip to Philly(like I’d done before with the Ambler Theater Screening) to visit UARTS, a college I applied to, and then travel downtown for @IvanAlmighty’s bowling meetup. The visit ended pretty quick, so with nothing to do I messaged @PhantomArcade and he invited me to hang out by the office, moawling was there too and the place looked shutdown for the day so I didn’t feel too much of a bother. I ran into @TomFulp and @Spazkid(still means a lot that you recognized my face from several months prior) and gave everyone a copy of my game that launched just the day before. I shot the shit with Ivan for a bit and exchanged info on secret projects and meetup ideas before heading out. Ivan was gonna lug a bunch of merch in an uber to the bowling alley, but since I drove my car to the office I offered him and moawling a ride to the venue so we could show up early, greet people, and sell some of that sweet merch clogging up the backroom(if you guys need a summer intern I’d love to get the NG store back up, for a limited time, for the people). These unexpected series of events led to my ACTUAL highlight of 2018: singing “Shout” by Tears for Fears on full blast in duet with Ivan and Moaw in the car as we took several wrong turns trying to find parking. The night was a hell of a time, I met cool people like @Krinkles, @Luis and @SirLenward. Bowling got cut short but everyone seemed to have a ton of fun. There was also a pretty pink cake with the tankman’s face on it as well as the best damn brownies I’ve ever had the pleasure of putting in my mouth. People started going home but some of us continued the party late into the night by walking in Philly for miles in freezing temperature only for Ivan and I(the only ones left under 21) to get carded at Dave & Buster's. We offered to head back to the office early, drop off the merch and chill while playing gamecube games, but the gang insisted we stick together. Luis offered up an after-party at the Adventure Haus but the night started to die down so we walked a couple miles back to the lots and drove out into horrible traffic(I will never forget the panic of watching the car in front of me hop over the fat middle-lane curb to escape the horde as Tom had no noticeable reaction in the passenger seat before looking to me as if I were supposed to do the same). I offered to drive Tom, Phanny, Moaw and Ivan back to the office instead of waiting hours for a late night Uber, generally an easy ride and it was fascinating to hear Tom talk so passionately about sponsoring school-related animation events. We made it back to the office, there was a police barricade on the street we had to move, unloaded merch and relaxed for a little while. Ivan offered me a large poster for free as a thank you, but joke’s on that little ****er I slipped a ten on top of a table in the merch room to cover it. Everyone left at the office signed the poster, I gave Tom a painting I'd made to commemorate the Ambler Screening and I went on my way to crash at my Auntie Bon-Bon’s place in South Jersey.
You’ve probably scrolled down a bit earlier to see how long this would be, I’m sorry. I am flattered however if you even make it this far. So, Monster Mashing was getting pretty popular and over at Scarecrow Arts we got some positive reviews with overwhelming praise from players who beat the game and some negative reviews on metacritic from some assholes who only played 30 minutes(of course we received negative reviews that were perfectly justified too). I can back that shit up too because you know when there’s a big twist early in the game and you don’t read d*ck about it in their writing it means the didn’t put in the time to play that far. It was really neat seeing a streamer I followed pick up the game by chance and recommend it to his viewers. I also watched every livestream of The Story Goes On I could find and tried to learn from how they played(one time I spent 5 hours watching a stream in a coffee shop on my phone). PAX East was coming up and you know I’m gonna go to that shit; for the first time it was for business too! I was hunting down publishers to get TSGO on Nintendo Switch, which is still a fairly exclusive platform, as well as film a series of informational videos with other indie devs about showcasing at conventions. We cover a neat slew of topics with various studios and I look forward to making some more this year! Coming back from the con(sick btw) I received 3 letters of acceptance from the 4 colleges I applied to. UARTS had no response and RIT felt less focused on the artistic majors so two minutes before midnight on decision day I flipped a coin and went with SCAD over CCA for the fall semester. Fast-forward a couple months and UARTS reaches out to me for a response. Apparently they accepted me into their program but never sent a letter because I was a special case. They set aside my portfolio and decided based on the animation, art and game dev work that I should take a custom one-year self-study-program for my bachelor’s in Animation with them as the only student in my class. Well I felt ****ing special and ****ing stupid because I just took out a student loan and dropped a couple G’s on SCAD. It was a bit shocking, I began to think about their mistake and how cheap college could have been, but I remembered that I have a VERY long way to go until I’m satisfied as an artist. If they think I’m already there then I’m not being challenged enough by my peers and UARTS wasn’t for me. It’s not about the degree for me(I mean come on, look at my field), I need to study and practice so Savannah, Georgia it is. I was delayed entrance into art school by a string of horrible advisors, including my high school guidance counselor that vowed Animation was not an existing major in any school(to which I foolishly believed) and then failed to get me accepted into community college by neglecting to send my stellar SAT score, highschool transcripts and all the things that are absolutely required. Things were going good and I’m finally on track where I wanted to be 3 years ago, though I wouldn’t change a second of it even if I could.
I started to partake in some reanimation collabs toward the end of the fad, my new friend, SirLenward, invited me personally when we went out for some burritos since he just so happens to live 10 minutes from my house. It’s almost finished but needs a few more participants. Later in the year I joined the Bartman Collab because a few people dropped out of that and entered the Rhythm Reanimate project hosted by my friend Kevin I met at MAGfest. My initial shot got rejected so I still gotta redo that for second deadline. I started multiple experimental projects: one of which I tried getting 360 video to work natively on newgrounds. Dozens of hours went into packaging my Sleepycast animation in different forms including cubemaps, spheroids, image sequences, split videos, half-spheres, and web-hosting. I ended up at a roadblock. One version played perfectly(if you call waiting 5 minutes as it downloads 500mb perfect) and played after refreshing the page to clear errors with a very shitty quality video to follow. Another version was a 7MB template I created that could play any video uploaded to newgrounds in 360 with mouse and keyboard controls. There were a couple issues: the video had to be public on NG, the video had to come from a project file(not file share or dumping grounds), and lastly due to the site’s CORS policy a game hosted on newgrounds cannot load videos from ungrounded.net, the newgrounds video hosting server(makes no sense to my brain personally). Hopefully in the future I can figure out a workaround with @PsychoGoldfish that doesn’t threaten site security and can add such an interesting medium to the platform. There was also the case of Cam’s games. He did a couple Ludum Dare jams with @Fushark and despite me asking if I couldn’t do anything to help Cam would wait til the due date to message me. I did the goofy walk for the chaperones in Prom GOblin and some miscellaneous junk in an unfinished entry.
Sometime into the summer Ivan transitioned the DBZ Collab Discord into the official Newgrounds Discord Server and made it public via one tweet. I joined almost immediately and for some reason ended up with a Mod role out of the gate. Subsequently I spent a lot of time on the server(this would have been true regardless) and became a friendly face to new joiners and a ton of creators in the community I’d never heard of before. I made a lot of friends, some of which I still talk to and work alongside, and hung out in the voice chat late into the night very frequently with the likes of @LoganPhresh who swears it was always past his bedtime and @BillPremo. I had a gentle-fist approach to my role as a Mod because I didn’t want to step on Ivan or Phanny’s toes and punish people for reasons that I couldn’t fully justify to them. The server was extremely active and had hundreds of members posting content and typing in the different channels with some regulars; no matter what Ivan seems to think. Early in the summer Tom also announced the Newgrounds Summer Animation Jams; I got third place overall in the end just beating out dooderdoo! It was a lot of fun to grind out cartoons in about 4 days(I waited too long to start most of the time) while on stream. It was neat to see some WIPs in the discord and I gained a small following from my toons as well as recognition from creators I admire. My last entry was incredibly ambitious compared to the other 3 I’d done previously. First of all I had just finished writing the idea when I was about to fly out for my first semester at SCAD, and second it was due at the end of my first month away from home(I had no idea if I would have any time at all with classes, though it turns out my biggest enemy was sleeping too much; the cost of having a comfy bed next to your desk). It required a lot of friends to pitch in, some delivered while others dropped the ball hard. And in the case of two friends, @NickConter and @Cymbourine(who I met through Ivan and the NG Discord; she happens to live down the hall in my dorm). I’d gotten a decent chunk of the rough animation done and my workflow was set for quick composite by the time I embarked on a two-day trip to Atlanta for an animation festival with my roommate Kevin as well as Cymbourine. It was a four hour drive and we spent some time in the city nearly being recruited by a pimp in a wheelchair and visiting an adult video store/arcade. When those two went to bed I stayed up to work on the summer jam entry for a couple hours and then got up in the morning to enjoy the festival. Ultimately I got no work done that day between the festival events and four hour travel time back to our dorm for classes the next day. Tom was gracious enough to extend the deadline, though I felt really bad and un-deserving to even have to ask. That’s when Nick came out of nowhere and stayed up with me and Cym for 72 hours animating the crap out of a toon that would land me 3rd place. That was a straight up a bonding experience(even though I passed out on the floor several times while those two kept moving along). It was an absolute pleasure working with Nick and I hope I can continue doing that this year(in fact I am with one secret project, shh). Backtracking a little bit, the wonderful home on the NG Discord I described was defiled on September 17th, never forget. That day Ivan kicked down the door and I woke up to about 30 DMs asking why they were kicked from a server that didn’t exist anymore. Until the fool changes his mind and relaunches it for a second go-around, you can spend your time in the Demins Discord(somewhat of a virtual refugee camp).
So many things affected my life in so little time after finally starting art school It’s hard to go in order without this looking like a Vonnegut novel. First of all, going to college halfway across the country is weird. It’s a radical change, I still don’t get a lot of work done on personal projects but this time it’s because of the downgraded equipment I brought along and my time being spent with friends after/inbetween classes. I have a good support system, one I hope to maintain going into my second semester. For starter’s my roommate Kevin is the best. Not quite my favorite but the best. My ex-roommate Jack was my favorite, he did some moans for Monster Mashing that he;s quite proud of and they’re waaaay more convincing than all the others. So Jack’s my favorite, no competition. Kevin is a far better artist than I am and a good friend who not only puts up with my shit but joins in. He’ll get a newgrounds account someday; I plan to break his will. Talking about college is a whole nother experience, similar to Monster Mashing in a sense that it’ll take hours to chat about all the happenings in a meaningful way. I’ve made a lot of friends, feel more confident with rapid packing/travel, and my professors love me even if they didn’t want to at first. Hell my one professor Swagner(coolest name ever) would calmly wake me during his art history lectures, midway through class, during the break. He was real gentle about it and we had some mutual respect/banter; pretty helpful that I was nonchalantly top of the class. It was fun to joke around with him and then walk down the street to my favorite coffee shop for some arcade games and chocolate waffles with my classmates.
More college life blah blah blah I went home for Thanksgiving and stayed all the way through the end of the year. I caught up with some friends, binged all of the Harry Potter films, attended some open mics and had a great time catching up with my best bud in the whole world, Bandit(subjectively the cutest dog to grace the earth and equally passionate about naps and breakfast food as I am). Closing out the year Cam mentioned doing an Advent Calendar which I fully supported and absolutely hyped up on Twitter. A lot of great artists joined and of course on December 1st, the first day of any advent calendar, Cam was behind on code and still wanted to redo all of the in-game art. Up in the sky, it’s a anthropomorphizes bird, no, it’s kamakazing plane, no, it’s CLUTCH MAN, defender of the newgrounds portal swooping in and trying my hand at some pixel art. It turned out quite nicely I think and I gotta say the medium is a lot of fun; be sure to check out the Christmas ADVENTure 2018 when you get a chance. For the rest of the month I casually sipped on eggnog while working every morning to make the game feel alive, updating all the little details in the world day-by-day. It was a lot of fun and for the first time ever we got a huge banner on the top of the site because Tom’s a G; it was pretty nifty to see a screengrab with our banner on a Business Insider article about the Tumblr purge.Oh shit that happened too, bunch of tumblr refugees coming aboard and livening up the place with more porn. I’m down, also some great SFW art cropped up and more and more artists I follow on twitter have been appearing in the art portal. It’s great to see their content all uniform and in a row for browsing(please bring the “next submission” buttons back). So I wrapped up the year with ADVENT work, some personal art, more animations, sending Tom bug reports a-plenty, and getting Monster Mashing ready for a full release on Steam and Nutaku. We signed a contract back in november and are getting ready to simultaneously patch NG, Itch, Steam, Nutaku, and Android with the latest and greatest we have to offer with some extra art added in by FuShark. One last major event occurred around Christmas however, #IndieXmas2018 hosted by IndieGamerChick on Twitter. A lot of attention was directed toward my game studio, Scarecrow Arts, and I lovelingly spent the holidays checking on the twitter feed, the hashtag, responding to players, and watching streams of The Story Goes On. I love seeing people figure out my game and we got such a warm reception as well as demands for a Switch port which may be coming soon. We’ve been a completely obscure game since Early Access, and our initial launch on Steam & Xbox One was pretty ghostly, but now almost a year later we’ve gained a small fanbase eager to see what’s next(even though it’ll be in 3 years)!
I was going to write this all while still in New Jersey but my flight back to school cropped up 36 hours earlier than I remember booking and I’ve entered a new whirlwind of events and happenings. I’m excited for the many projects I’ve already started going into 2019(some secret animations, some games, some After Effects templates, maybe one to do with VR) and the meetups I’ll attend even if I did have to skip out on MAGfest. There’s still PAX East at least where I’ll be filming some new Dev Talks videos, and allegedly I’ve been invited to Pico Day. I dunno, I plan to be rooming with @OzoneOrange and the gang, but I’ve yet to see an email about it though; maybe I’ll see some of you there ;)