Our mission at BonusXP is to craft fun, polished games that we love to play. We believe that the best way to achieve this is to build a tight-knit, passionate team of talented developers - and then turn them loose to do what they do best.
Sharing some of these murals I had more time to work on, or even more opportunities to do them. It’s super fun and challenging working at such a big scale, mixing colors and improvising make it super exciting compared to the more organic flow I have when working on the computer.
It always starts the same, I design something and add color digitally. Sometimes I even comp it in the place it’s going to go in and then, well, just buy the paint and get to work.
Here are some of the ones I have designed and painted myself.
My very first mural, in a hostel located in Cucuta, Colombia. Based on a painting I did that I thought would go pretty good in the space:
Mural - YouTube
My second mural, in Caracas, Venezuela. This one is very special because of what it meant to the community and what the organization Haciendo Ciudad did to clean the space and add some life to it with several artists participating:
CASANA mural! - YouTube
This mural was also done alongside Haciendo Ciudad, and with the same purpose of cleaning and recuperating the space so that children can have a nice area to play in. I only designed it and sent the concepts over so that the people of the community would have the chance of painting it:
The last one goes to the same hostel where I did my first one, this time on the outside. I also sent the concepts and the owner chose which one he wanted. The workers painted it since it was pretty geometric:
This week at GDC, I had the opportunity to demo our latest project, Stranger Things 3: The Game. Nintendo graciously gave us a spot in their Independent Developer Showcase, the “Nindies”. We’ve also just announced that the game is coming to Switch on July, 4th. Yes, that’s the same release day as the new season of Stranger Things!!!
This was the first time I’ve ever done anything like this. It was very exciting to see something out team built out on display alongside a lot of other great looking indie titles.
We spent the day talking to the press and watching folks play through the game behind closed doors for the first time. We got a ton of great feedback as we showed off the major features and talked about how much MORE of the Season 3 world you can explore in the game. Alas, the story for Season 3 is still a big secret; we wouldn’t want to spoil it anyway!
The show Stranger Things is all about overcoming adversity through friendship, so our game is playable as a 2-player cooperative game, which felt like a perfect fit for the Nintendo Switch.
In our demo, players got to run around as Hopper and Joyce, exploring the world of Hawkins, Indiana. Some exploration requires specific character abilities. For example, certain doors required Joyce to bust them open with a pair of bolt cutters. There are also several puzzles that are solved by cooperating together to open doors and solve two-player puzzles.
That cooperative gameplay is also featured in our combat where players can work together to beat up bad guys using special abilities. Joyce had a wicked whirlwind that stuns enemies with her bolt cutters. This sets up a powerful combo for Hopper, who charges through and wrecks anyone in his way with a hefty Bullrush.
It has been a lot of fun working again with Netflix to bring the world of Stranger Things to life in a game. Showcasing the game on the Nintendo Switch has been an exciting, new experience for a lot of us on the team, too. I can’t wait to share more about the game in the coming months.
I work mostly in computer animation these days but I have done some traditional art in the past. These are some of my charcoal life drawings from way back. I don’t use photoshop very much but have often wondered if it can give the same type of control as with traditional art mediums.
Gordon Moore, a co-founder of Intel, had observed by 1965 that the power of transistors on integrated circuits seemed to double every two years, while their costs cut in half. This became celebrated as Moore’s Law that still seems to hold true still in computing nearly five decades later.
Less known, or completely unknown, to be fair, is Shelley’s Law, regarding computer game technology. I had observed, beginning in the late 1980s, that there was a regular significant change in the tech we worked with as game developers. I decided that change was on a roughly six-month schedule (but made no prediction on costs).
In the early days of computer gaming, there were comparisons to the development of the film industry at the turn of the 20th century. I suspected that film making tech changed as regularly in their early days as the changes we were seeing. But I remember thinking in the 1990s that film making tech was relatively settled (probably naïve to think so) but that we game makers had to rebuild the equivalent of the camera, the film, the audio, and the distribution with each new title. Every game needed a new graphics engine.
Over a relatively few years, I worked on games for the Commodore 64, Commodore Amiga, and IBM PC, while colleagues down the hall labored on the Atari ST and Apple IIGS. It seemed that every new project was to be first launched on a different platform, with corresponding headaches for the programming and art teams.
The first PC game I worked on (1987) used four colors for pixels: black, white, cyan, and magenta. By early 1988 I was working at Microprose and we were able to use the full suite of sixteen CGA colors. Then came 64 colors (I don’t think we could use them all and had to select a limited number for a game’s palette), 256 colors (glorious), and today, of course, unlimited. Computer graphics of amazing quality are now everywhere. Virtual reality touts itself as the next big thing.
I worked on games, very successful in their day, using an IBM-PC with a 30-kilobyte hard drive. (My phone today has 64 gigabytes of storage, a demonstration of Moore’s Law.) That machine had cost the company something like $5,000 just a few years earlier and had been state-of-the-art. Machines got out-of-date quickly then and passed down to designers and producers.
The IBM-PC became the standard game machine but the computing power driving them continued and continues, to evolve. When we launched Age of Empires II in 1999, Windows 98 was a worldwide platform for games, which contributed to its success. But consoles like the PlayStation had arrived, changing once again the industry’s technology. And then came smartphones, the iPad, and games as applications for digital devices and pages on Facebook.
Games I worked on were distributed on tapes, then 5.25-inch floppy discs (seven in one game?), then 3.5-inch floppy discs, then CD-ROMs, then digital downloads, and then to being cloud-based.
I don’t think it would be too hard to make a list of 60 significant technology changes in game making to give Shelley’s Law credence for the past 30 years. I am less sanguine about the next 30.
A tweetcart I wrote out this morning. Tweetcarts add in an extra wrinkle of having the whole program the length of a single tweet.
So the last thing you’d expect me to want to do after a long day of making games is to go home and make more games right?
Well… kind of.
I got interested in a game design program called Pico-8 a while ago. There was something about how instead of making it easier to make a game it seemed to just make it harder: restricting you to 16 colors, a tiny 120 pixel screen even limiting how much space the program could take up!
What I found was a place where the limitations of the space prompted creativity, experimentation. I didn’t feel compelled to work on the same kind of projects that I was doing in my professional life, I was freed to make tiny, broken things.
Like, a vaguely incomprehensible RTS made in a weekend for Ludum Dare :
I think my favorite Pico-8 cart was part of a jam to make an even tinier, smaller game in a fantasy console inside of Pico-8.
A few years ago I got really into Warhammer 40k and now Warhammer Fantasy with Age of Sigmar.
I enjoy the hobby a lot. It hits all of the high points for me. Cool stories, awesome pictures, fun models to paint, all wrapped up in a tactical strategy game where I can mess with builds and strategies for days.
But there’s one part of the hobby that I hadn’t gotten into until this year, making terrain. It’s really enhanced our games to get rid of the books and boxes that we use to make be cover and pretend that they’re buildings.
I’m not going to bore everyone with a long drawn out series of in progress pics and how I’ve been doing it. There are way more experienced hobbyists out there with some really great YouTube channels that could help more than I ever could.
So onto some sweet pictures of my Dwarfs, my buddy’s Orks, and some terrain that I’ve made:
Lately, my gaming obsession has moved away from Heroes of the Storm to a very intense first-person shooter called ‘Hunt Showdown’. The challenge and gameplay are very unique and keeps me coming back for more and visually, the CryEngine is stunning and really brings the game to life, evoking incredible realism and atmosphere.
Let me break it down for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure: as the title infers, to be successful you need to be able to hunt well. Not just finding where the boss monster is, but hunting and killing other players. At a high level, the game is a player versus player vs environment game where up to five teams of two go head-to-head against monsters that are plaguing the land. You can choose to be solo on the mission or be placed with another player to make a team and you gain money and experience along the way by finding clues, killing monsters and other hunters. In the event of death, all gear and experience (e.g. improved endurance, slowed health loss, expensive guns etc.) are lost.
Better luck next time!
More specifically, the goal of each match is to use the clues you discover to lead you to specific boss monsters (in most cases a demon butcher and/or giant hell spider!) slaying them, and then escaping with its bounty without losing my life. To make things extra interesting, in the midst of all this chaos, players are also encouraged to hunt each other and steal the bounty for themselves! And there are no rules among thieves with many hunters allowing another to fight the monster and then swooping in to first kill the fellow hunter and then steal their bounty without getting their hands dirty! A ruthless approach to strategy is your best friend in this game!
The Butcher can be pretty intimidating!
Speaking of ruthless, death is permanent. Everything in this world wants to kill you or alert other hunters to your position and in order to play this game successfully, you need to be silent. For example, firing your gun or disturbing a murder of crows will alert other players to your position even if you are all the way on the other end of the map. You can count on ambushes being set at clue sites or around boss lairs so you always have to mindful.
Scare those crows and everyone knows your position!
To sum up, the high risk, high reward factor of this game makes it very exciting and keeps me queuing up after every death. Perhaps I will be hunting you in my next game?
Hey everyone. My name is Andy and I’m a Concept Artist here at BonusXP.
Just a quick reminder to everyone out there in the creative fields, it is essential to keep your inspiration tanks all topped off by immersing yourself in the work of all the amazing artists out there making and sharing their art with the world. If you’re running low of Inspirado™(Tenacious D) and need a jolt of awesome, check out a few of the things that are keeping me fired up these days.
OUTER DARKNESS – Image Comics (Written by John Layman, Art by Afu Chan)
If the Star Trek franchises got into Seth Brundles teleportation machine with the movie Event Horizon, this is the monster that’d appear at the other end. It’s only 3 issues in but so far, it’s incredible. Spaceships with exorcists and a hate engine that runs on souls sacrificed to the demon-god trapped inside. It’s bonkers and the art by AFU CHAN is so damn good. Follow him on twitter @AfuChan1 for more inspiration.
Like this ^^ I mean, just look at this. That one guy has a revolver for an arm. C’mon.
My daughter is almost 2 and she is bonkers for this movie. It’s makes a fantastic bookend to the original film, and might be the most visually stunning Pixar movie to date. Huge shout-out to the animators on these movies. As a horrible/failed animator in a passed life, I can tell you these movies are as close to sorcery as animation can get. I mean, it’s hard enough imbuing a character, complete with arms and legs, limbs and digits with believable, appealing life. It’s an entirely different level altogether when you do the same for what are essentially essentially boxes with eyes. Freaking magic. Oh, and there’s an sequence in there (THUNDER HOLLOW!) that puts every chase sequence in any Hollywood blockbuster to shame. 9 stars out of 5.
Speaking of my daughter, here are 2 of my favorite books to read to her before bedtime.
THE STORM WHALE & GRANDADS ISLAND
Written and (Incredibly) illustrated by Benji Davies, these books are sweet and touching. I dare you to get through Grandad’s Island without tearing up a little. I dare you. These books are everything ‘kids’ books should be and more.
SPIDER-MAN : Into the Spider-verse
Did you see it on the big screen yet? No. Then what are you doing here? Go!GO!GO!GO!
In game development, you sometimes have to try out new ideas even if you are skeptical of the results. Sometimes this is because you’re working with a team, and someone else on the team is convinced it’s going to work. Sometimes it’s because you just have to pick the least-worst idea and see how it pans out. And sometimes you just want to get out of a rut and force yourself to try something different to avoid stagnation.
When you actually implement an idea like this, it might be a total disaster (“told you so!”). But it might also be a surprise success. Or maybe it doesn’t work out but teaches you something along the way.
Get to the Bread!
So how does this relate to bread-making, you might ask? Oh, you weren’t going to ask that at all? Well, I’m going to (try to) make a half-baked connection anyway.
I started making bread a couple years ago. I progressed from total noob making some pretty sad looking first attempts at basic no-knead breads:
… to a dabbler producing something recognizable as loaves, however rustic-looking at times:
A little more sensible.
Let’s Get Started
For quite some time I have been making essentially all the bread we eat. I especially enjoy making sourdough. Not just because like I like to eat it, but there’s something cool about building and maintaining a starter, which is just a culture of wild yeast and bacteria, and putting it to work for you.
No two starters are totally alike. Even if you get yours from a friend, the cultures will diverge over time as you feed yours with different flours, in a different kitchen, with different local yeast and bacteria coming along for the ride. This is probably why some people go so far as to give their starter a name, like a family pet. I’m not that crazy… yet.
Yet to be named
Time to Mix It Up
I do make a variety of breads, but sometimes I get in a rut. My recent go-tos have been the Poilane Miche from Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice and the Sourdough Miche from Martin Philip’s Breaking Bread (though I really never make either of these as a miche). With my most recent loaf, I decided to try something way different, a 100% rye sourdough (also from Bread Baker’s Apprentice).
For the uninitiated, the rye bread you usually get (in the US anyway) is generally something like 30% rye (the rest is wheat). So 100% rye is quite the departure, making me a bit skeptical of how it would turn out. But the goal was to try something different, so what the heck?
Never Read the Comments!
It generally takes 2-3 days from start to finish to make a sourdough loaf, and this one was no exception. Some time on the second day, I had a whim to search for other people’s experience with this recipe, so I might have a better idea of what I was getting into. Bread Baker’s Apprentice is a popular book and some people challenge themselves to make every single recipe in it. It turns out gamers aren’t the only completionists! Unfortunately the reports I could find were generally of the form “by far my least favorite in the whole book” and “at least now I know how to make bricks!”. Uh oh.
I’m not truly a neophyte anymore, but I certainly had no reason to expect I’d do any better than these bloggers and commenters, who probably have more experience than me, not less. I’m not even sure how much of my previous experience applied to this bread. Rye is very low in gluten, so it doesn’t develop the nice stretchy consistency of wheat dough. It’s almost like a very sticky, crumbly clay.
The dough was rising, at least, and I managed to shape it into something you might recognize as a loaf. So maybe I was on the right track.
Gluten is what gives wheat bread much of the structure it needs to rise, capturing the carbon dioxide from fermentation as bubbles, which become the familiar “holes” in the crumb of the bread. But rye bread rises mainly by some other process, I guess, and this leads to a dense structure (in the worst case, the “brick” of some people’s failed attempts).
Brick or Not?
Well, this loaf did come out pretty dense, but it definitely didn’t turn into a brick. It was a fairly soft, almost creamy texture. So maybe this was one of those times where you are surprised and it turns out great in the end!
Dense, but not brick dense.
Alas, I think I learned from this experiment that I probably don’t like 100% rye bread. The flavor is just a bit too strange. Elisabeth liked it, though, so there’s one more outcome to consider when you try out an idea you’re skeptical of, whether in game development or with bread: one person loves it and another hates it!