2018 focus points

In 2017 I stopped meticulously blogging about all the things I do because I simply do not do all that much next to my day job anymore. But for 2018 I’m gonna start again, it’s too easy to lose a year just sort of pushing projects forwards while not really achieving anything.

But this time I’m not setting goals; I’m defining focuses for each month. This is an idea I picked up from Design Life. It’s another way of saying “do this and nothing else for this period of time”. I’ll be picking from this list during the year to set a monthly focus.

  • Draw more Off-stage
  • Update portfolio
  • Improve drawing skill for poses and expressions
  • Learn to draw with my left hand
  • Release a new game
  • And a bonus objective: do something incredible every month.

January has already been dedicated to Off-Stage, and lo and behold, new comic pages have started to appear online! So it’s working.

Media log 2017

Continuing the tradition, here’s my media log of 2017. This year I’m highlighting a few noteworthy entries.

The Kanye West discography


I started listening to Dissect, a podcast about musical analysis. It examined what might be my favorite album of all time, Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. I already loved it for its artistry when it came out in 2010, but diving in this deep and exploring all the artistic nooks and crannies made me appreciate it even more. The way it tells a complex story and references mythology is very inspiring.

It may sound strange to people that know me, but a part of me identifies very strongly with Kanye. And listening to all his albums in sequence really filled up my artistic tank again, made me look differently at the work I do.

Prey + Spirits of Xanadu


I love a good immersive sim. The year started off right with Deus Ex Mankind Divided, I played some Dishonored 2, but Prey really impressed me. It’s a classic formula, but it has just the right mix of setting, art style, gameplay, and level design to make me want to spend hours in that world. It cemented for me the idea that this might be my new favorite genre, and that I want to try and tackle making a game like this, however impossible that may seem.

Then I played Spirits of Xanadu, by the people currently working on the System Shock remake (it’s all connected, eh). It’s basically Prey, but at such a low fidelity that it could have been made by one person in a reasonable amount of time. It was then that I knew I had to attempt this too.

Blade Runner 2049


I saw this one twice in a week’s time. The visuals are amazing (those colors!), but especially the thought that went into each part of this world, from the architecture to the functional UI for an AI companion, I just can’t handle it.

It’s okay to quit


This one’s not specifically about one entry, but a more general feeling that I’ve developed this year: it’s okay to quit. We live in a time where we have access to such an embarrassment of riches, media-wise, that instead of looking for quality we now have to look for time. I would play all the games that look interesting and clear out my Netflix and IMDb queue if I could, but there is simply not enough time.

So instead of tightly maintaining my ever-growing backlog (which ironically is what generates the data for these posts), I’ve come to terms with the fact that it’s okay to not experience everything. I’m sure the new Marvel movies are good, I can live without them. These games that I played for two hours and enjoyed but have to push myself to finish, I can live without them. There is so much out there now that is good, I’m concentrating on finding the things that are great (such as those mentioned above). Focusing on one thing deeply instead of consuming three things at the same time and not really absorbing any of them. I think this will also give me more peace of mind.

I think for next year I might then transform my media log into an experience log that also includes trips, events, and other things that I find enriching.

See this year’s full list after the break:

Continue reading “Media log 2017”

Lights, hair, action

I felt creative this weekend but didn’t know which project to pour it into, so I spent some time speedpainting from photo reference.


Instagram is a great source for crazy colors and compositions. I especially love hair that’s lit from behind or some similarly interesting lighting setup.

I recorded the one in the bottom-right. In the beginning these usually looks like shit, it’s a real process of sculpting with the brush. I wasn’t shooting for a 1-to-1 likeness either, just to capture the light and the wildness of the hair.


How to do datamoshing in Photoshop

Datamoshing is “the practice of intentionally using compression artifacts in digital video and animated GIFs to create glitch art”.

It’s an effect popularized by Kanye West in his video Welcome To Heartbreak, but it’s mostly been an effect exclusive to video. There are a few crazy ways to get this effect on images by editing them with text or audio editors instead of image editors, but it’s hard to find a straightforward way to just do it in Photoshop. But, there is a fairly simple way to emulate it with a few filters. Here’s how:

Continue reading “How to do datamoshing in Photoshop”

A former drug addict, a priest and an investor walk into a games expo…

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

INDIGO, the games expo put on by the Dutch Game Garden, was pretty intense this year. 32 local devs gathered on the spaceous ninth floor of music palace TivoliVredenburg for two days to showcase their games in development. I was there too with Black Feather Forest.

I saw some familiar faces, some fresh new ones, and talked to a ton of people. Seeing visitors take the time to play through the entire demo and most of them raving about it afterwards was a really great experience, and a much needed refreshment after the past few weeks. Thank you to everyone who came out and stopped by! My parents, uncle and some good friends included. Also dinner with my Game Oven friends was a good time, and my booth neighbours from Wolfdog Interactive kept me going through the long hours. And a special shout-out to Benjamin who came to help me out on friday evening after work when my legs had turned to jelly. You rock dude!

It’s hard to describe all the moments and conversations from those two days, but I wanted to highlight a few that really stood out.

As a kid I used to read Power Unlimited, the biggest games magazine in the Netherlands. Of course like any publication it’s run by normal people, but having looked up at these guys in my teens it felt pretty special to have them stand in front of my booth checking out my game and following me on twitter now. Check that off my bucket list.

Speaking of nostalgia, the memories left behind by the game Broken Sword are what compelled me to start making my own games, and then all of a sudden I run into a programmer from Revolution Software, and a dutch one at that, on the show floor. It was really cool to meet Joost and exchange adventure gaming stories.

Near the end of the VIP night on thursday an older man came up to me. He started on the demo as I explained what the game was about, then he turned to me and asked me why I cared so much about this particular true story. From there we got caught up in a passionate exchange of ideas, where he revealed that he was a recovered stock-broker-turned-drug-addict who just started learning about computers three days ago. After getting clean he had set out on a quest to learn about himself, and had become a very joie-de-vivre carpe-diem kind of guy. He wasn’t even on the guest list that night, he had just wandered in and was having a blast talking to people. We spoke for about half an hour and at the end shook each other’s hand with a well-meaning I haven’t experienced in a long time. Like we were both genuinely excited to see the other enjoying life, and wishing eachother well.

The second day of the expo was also punctuated by an unexpected meeting. 5 minutes before the end of the show a man dressed in a priest’s garb came up to me. I recognized him as Roderick Vonhögen, also known as the podcast priest. He hadn’t played the demo yet but had read all about the project on my website before coming here and went on to tell me how incredibly cool he thought it was. He was even familiar with The Walking Dead games, which was perhaps even more of a surprise. It was super cool to have had a chance to talk with him before packing up and heading off, and I took his encouragement to do a Kickstarter and get on Steam to heart.

I’d been on the fence about Kickstarter for a while, but after I left the hubbub of INDIGO behind that night and checked my email on the bus home I saw that perhaps a Kickstarter was not even going to be necessary…knock on wood. More info on that very exciting email soon.

All in all INDIGO was a great succes and I want to thank the Dutch Game Garden for letting me be a part of it.