Tag Archives: pre

pre-production part two: dreams and nightmares


so hey, I ended up finishing another image for one of these! It’s my first NPA animation in photoshop, and after 60+ hours of work I can safely say that I will never animate in photoshop again! The program just isn’t built for it, it’s got an animation system straight from the 90s (designed for making animated gifs, and only animated gifs), and layer control that just doesn’t work with undo and frame changes. Disappointing on every level…

To be fair, it was a learning experience, and I got a lot better at using photoshop in the process. For one thing, always use the solid-pixel pencil for fills, otherwise you’ll get bleed through where the pen pressure didn’t hit 100%.  And tap the eraser once when you switch layers, so undo doesn’t switch the freaking layer back. Also, make sure to change undo (ctrl-z) to step backward, but I think I made that change a long time ago… I’m pretty happy with the result, but all future animations will be in Flash for sure.

For a mini-review of the cintiq 13 hd I recently bought, I have to say it’s really great. There’s about a 0.2 second delay for drawn lines showing up, but you get used to that very quickly. And the pen and eraser both work fantastically, a definite 1:1 connection that makes it feel like a magic piece of paper you can zoom and undo. I set the two pen buttons to sample color (alt) and pan/scroll, and the four side buttons to prev/next frame and undo/redo. I used the wheel buttons for the four main tools I use: brush, lasso (in [-] mode so it can remove sections after the first one), marquee, and move. I basically can’t recommend it enough, and other than the 1/1000 driver errors (which I think are caused by lag on windows or something), it’s better in every way than the ol’ mouse! =)

Okay, let’s get to some preproduction already! Here’s some music to get you in the right frame of mind.

One of the main concepts of this game is dreams and nightmares, and a surreal sense of both in the real world. Red’s secret power is the ability to create dreams which influence the outside world, so she spends her incarcerated time stepping into dreams and creating a new world in her own image, while trying to avoid the nightmares of her past.

Part of what I want to get across in Red the character is that she doesn’t give a shit about anything. Red lives a life without fear, she doesn’t care that she’s in prison, or that the world is falling apart. She just dreams of better worlds, until it becomes clear that that is not enough to stop her nightmares. Her quest is self-serving, she’s not the hero, and the world might be better without her in it.

Nightmares are actually an interesting concept for me. I think in the last four years I’ve had maybe eight nightmares, and all of them revolved around my computer getting a virus or being stolen. For some reason, when someone pulls a gun out at me or a monster is chasing me, I just laugh and say “do it” or “I’m not running from this, I’m going to turn around and fight.” I think that’s probably a bad sign, but something just doesn’t feel scary about “life or death” scenarios. It might be because I don’t enjoy or particularly respect the horror genre, and I stay away from those kinds of movies because I find them completely boring (I think I actually fell asleep the last time I watched a horror movie…). Or I might just be dead inside already, so there’s not much to lose…

But the idea of nightmares is interesting, because they are like your brain trying to tell you something urgently. You and your brain become two different people, and have a conversation about a problem. People don’t have nightmares for no reason, they have them because something is wrong and needs to be solved immediately. My nightmares usually mean “Greg, you need to backup your work folder,” but I think it still applies…

But dreams are different. They don’t have a message to get across, or any motives. I like to think of them as the echoes of your day and everything you thought about. It’s not your brain thinking, it’s your brain processing. And sure, people think there are messages sometimes, but I like to believe those are merely the processed answers to things you were already thinking about during the day.

redneptune is definitely a game about the blending of both dreams and nightmares, and I hope the music choice gets that across. I don’t want to spoil too much of the plot, but the theme is literally about the difference between dreams and nightmares in many ways. One of the main categories of pre-ideas is labelled “nonsense”, in the tradition of Alice in Wonderland and Hitchhiker’s Guide. There’s just something about the way the mind works when sleeping or falling asleep that I find fascinating, as if the rules of logic no longer apply.

Okay, I’m getting a bit too philosophical, so I’ll end it here. It is technically 6:33am right now… But I do hope that animation let you see a glimpse of Red as a character, and what this world is built around. At this point I have everything up to the final, final, final boss planned, it’s just a question of writing some of it down with interesting art to match… See you next time, but for now I think I’ll try out this sleep thing I’ve been writing so much about.

pre-production part one: misogyny


so, hmm… it seems I was a bit upset when I wrote the last post. Family stuff involving hospitals was happening at the time, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to pretend this is a professional blog. My emotional state will vary by post, and I’m going to talk about stuff that I’m thinking about, regardless of the ‘professional distance’ I should be using. If you don’t want to see the sausage being made, don’t read the personal blog, okay?

so let’s talk about GamerGate……………….

dammit, Greg, why? you know it’s bad to talk about that subject! why make this blog even more awkward?

because it is relevant to Red Neptune, self, that’s why!

I was aware of “games journalism issues” long before this absurdity started. The guy who wrote a bad review of Kane and Lynch 2 got fired from GameSpot for it. Companies have always paid reviewers for good reviews of their products, and it’s become more of a publicity thing than it probably should be. Most people already knew this.

(Of course, there are real reviewers out there, and there’s an easy way to find them. First, they give out low scores. Second, they don’t make much money. When I look at reviews I tend to read the lowest scores and see if they make valid points, because it’s the closest to truth you’re going to get on the internet.)

So that’s part one of this story, but there is another part. As far as I can tell, this is where it changed from Quinnspiracy to GamerGate, bringing feminism into it because a few feminists commented on the topic. Suddenly, being a woman in games was a crime, punishable by doxxing. Groups formed on feminist lines, one side angry that the core topic of journalism was being deflected, the other side angry that women were being attacked for being women. Both sides were right, and both sides were wrong, because the word ‘sides’ was misappropriated. Everyone individually shouted, “You are either with us or against us!”

This is Us Versus Them, and it is a flaw in human psychology. It’s the same behavior that makes political parties and sports teams so effective. You identify with one side, and then they can do no wrong! Clearly the other side is the devil for what some of them have done wrong.

So why is any of this relevant? Because I am exploring both us vs. them and misogyny in the plot of Red Neptune. At first only Red was female, but as I worked on the story I realized that it was necessary to make Blue and Green female as well. I believe there is a pervasive weak misogyny in our culture, that is rarely talked about or understood, and I want to present the different types to people in an indirect way. For reasons…

So, step one, Yell is a weak misogynist. He doesn’t hate women or even have a problem with female leaders. He doesn’t want women to “go back in the kitchen”. This kind of misogyny is cartoonish – it just doesn’t happen in the real world. Twelve year olds make jokes about it in the YouTube comments section.

Step two, he treats each other female team member in a uniquely annoying way. Yell directs Red, tells her that he is the one with the plan, calls her ‘kid’. He deflects Blue, says she is crazy and a witch because she is more powerful than him, and he doesn’t want to admit it. And he enables Green, sheltering her and fawning over her because he is physically attracted to her.

These are the kinds of misogyny that exist in the real world. So called “nice guy misogyny” is really about letting women get away with things that men cannot because you assume that is what they want from you, and you have ulterior (even unrequited) motives. Controlling misogyny is about taking on the role of control because society dictates that men are providers for women, and they want to be protected. And deflecting misogyny is about ignoring the truth in favor of ego, pretending that you are more capable because society expects it.

I am ashamed to admit that I have been each of these misogynists to varying degrees in the past. To be fair, our culture almost tries to force this behavior with subliminally approved male and female roles, the constant questions of “do you have a/is she your girlfriend?” from parents, and the assumption that every man in the world wants to work a 9 to 5, earn money, get married, have 2.5 kids, and take vacations to Europe.

These are the approved life goals, you are either with us or against us.

So, if you haven’t guessed already, Red Neptune is going to be about making people uncomfortable with the truth. I’m going to wrap everything in black comedy and surrealism, but I want to touch on interesting and complex themes. And then explain why everything is wrong and you should feel bad about it. Or just keep dancing and don’t worry about the destruction in your wake.

I’m not sure I’m there yet, but at this point I can safely say that Yell will enter the longstanding tradition of annoying sprite side-characters.