Spring 2023 promises to be a great time of personal and professional growth!
Background on why the following news is so important to me:
Like many other artists, I started drawing, painting, and writing as a kid.
I was also diagnosed with migraines as a kid. More recently, in 2018, I was also diagnosed with both bilateral hand arthritis and early-stage glaucoma.
Ironically, working long hours as a VRC without adequate accommodations became unsustainable, and I left the field in December 2018. For a while, I stopped creating art at all, due to both pain and fear of making the latter two conditions worse.
In June 2020, I started designing my first video game with accessibility in mind. I personally can’t enjoy media with flashing lights (a known migraine trigger), and time-sensitive games can be impossible with hand arthritis, so these were the starting points for determining my design process. Thanks to in person game demos, I have been able to incorporate feedback into making gameplay more intuitive. I have received a lot of support in this project, and I still have a long way to go before I’m ready to release the game.
Yesterday I found out I was selected to attend an upcoming AbleGamers’ Accessible Player Experiences (APX) Certified Practitioner Training session for free through the Developers Promoting Accessibility & Diversity (DPAD) Initiative. I am grateful for this opportunity and look forward to learning how to better apply knowledge and skills from my previous experience as a VRC/CDMS within the gaming industry.
Recently, I began pitching my exciting new business venture, Yeetcosystem (TM). The first promotional video is up now. Please check it out, unless you’re not allowed to watch videos with a swear word in them. [I forgot to bleep something. I blame sleep deprivation/ laziness/ being a grown up who occasionally uses mild curse words in public.]
In other news, I am happy to announce that No, Mine! Studios will be back at Tacoma’s Arts at the Armory event on December 10 and 11, 2022! I’ll be listed in the materials under my name (Suzanne Skaar) in case you have troubles finding me at the Armory. The dino game will available for playtesting for those interested in seeing the latest progress. I’ll also have buttons and stickers for sale for those looking for last minute holiday gifts.
As promised earlier this week and to those I spoke with at the City of Tacoma Kaleidoscope Kickoff Party, here are some resources that I have found useful while working on my as yet untitled dino game.
I am building my game in Unity, which is free for individuals who make under a certain amount of income from games per year. I am brand new, and I have definitely not come close to that threshhold yet. Another engine that other artists like using is Unreal. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m thinking about testing it when I start on my next project. A great benefit of Unreal is that they do offer funds for some projects. Here’s the link for more info.
(NOTE: This is not a paid promotion by Adobe.If they would like to change that, my bank account is all ears.)
I create the initial designs of characters, objects, and background art in Adobe Photoshop. I held on for as long as I could to my 2009 MacBook and hard copy of Photoshop CS 6, but at this point, I am now locked into the full Creative Cloud. It’s expensive, so if others would like to suggest free/ cheap alternatives that work well with Unity, please comment below. The import process between Photoshop and Unity is fairly simple. I can share a sample video of the process if others are interested, but there are also many tutorials on YouTube.
When getting the sound ready for the game, I have used a combination of Audacity (audio editing software), BeepBox(online tool for making and sharing melodies), and more recently, Adobe Audition. The first two are free whereas Audition comes with Creative Cloud subscriptions. I have used Audition more for marketing than content creation so far.
For video, I have been relying on Open Broadcast Studio (OBS)for screencaptures and Adobe Premiere Pro for compiling videos. OBS is free, and I am still figuring it out. For Creative Cloud subscribers, Audition is linked to Premiere, so changing audio levels or doing simple effects like fade in/ fade out is relatively fast.
I started researching how to turn my concept into a game using Unity in March 2020. Since then, I have watched a lot of videos which break down the process of animating sprites, importing audio, and more. Due to updates from game engine platforms, some of these tutorials may become outdated fairly quickly, but I really like the teaching styles of Brackeys and BurgZerg Arcade. While Brackeys is no longer posting new videos, they have a plethora of great ones still up on YouTube. GDC posts a lot of great talks about game design from all angles. From the business side, I recently discovered the Future of Play channel on YouTube. The Publish Me Punish Me series is entertaining and informative.
If you think this kind of post is helpful, please like and share with friends. You can also support No, Mine! Studios on the following social media platforms:
If you’re local to Tacoma, I would love to see you at Grit City Comic Show on October 22, 2022! In addition to having the game progress available for playing, I’ll have a limited supply of merchandise for sale.
This is a few days later than I had hoped, but I wanted to say thank you to everyone who attended the Tacoma Arts Month Kaleidoscope Kickoff Party at the STAR Center. Thank you to the City of Tacoma and Metro Parks staff and the Tacoma Arts Commission for this great opportunity! And a special thanks to the Arts Commission for accepting my game into the 2021-2022 Tacoma Artist Initiative Program. The game demo went well, and I can’t express how much I appreciate the support!
It was great to see 2021-2022 Tacoma Artist Initiative Program recipients Curtis Ashby and Tamiko Nimura! [Tamiko is a 2022 AMOCAT Award Winner! ] Thank you to the Tacoma Arts Commissioners, artists, and staff who popped in to say hi and check out the game in between taking care of other duties for the party. And I loved seeing how far indie game devs will go to support each other, like Natasha who came all the way from Seattle! (Check out her work!) It was absolutely a packed house at times, so I didn’t get a chance to thank everyone personally.
I am especially grateful for my co-parent Tim Kapler and Izzy’s hard work. In addition to helping with the setup and tear down processes, I was informed by several attendees that Izzy did a great job directing people to the game demo, as well as pitching the game itself. Despite being encouraged by both parents to focus on enjoying the party, multiple trips to the pancake station and the Grand Cinema’s table for popcorn only strengthened the Junior Tester’s resolve to make sure everybody in the building had a studio business card and tried the game for themselves.
I ran out of stickers and buttons at the event, but more will be available for sale at the Grit City Comic Show on October 22 at the Tacoma Convention Center. Please let me know via email (email@example.com) if there is a specific item you are looking for, and I’ll do my best to have it on hand (within reason). I also have a smaller set up for those who haven’t gotten a chance to check out the game progress yet.
Because a few individuals asked, I am available to speak to local classes and am open to teaching beginning animation and digital art classes. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those who asked about the tools I am using to make my game, I’ll share a more in-depth blog post later this link, along with links to tutorials that I have found helpful.
A common theme of the night was talking to people who had either made an indie game and not released it, or wanted to make an indie game but didn’t know where to start. If you are interested in seeing more indie games flourish in Tacoma, let’s connect! There are so many talented creators here in the 253! I want to see the local dev’s game about revolution in my Steam account!!! (I didn’t grab your contact info, so please contact me if you see this!)
There are many ways to help support No, Mine! Studios. If you haven’t yet done so, you can like and follow No, Mine! Studios for more frequent updates on the following social media platforms:
Financial contributions are appreciated. I am considering options such as crowdfunding to hire a local programmer to help get the game ready for publication. Until that campaign kicks off, you can buy a dino a coffee here. And you can buy some of my art onlinehere.
Thank you again for your support, Tacoma and beyond!
In this picture: Text: “As Yet Untitled Dino Game; 2021-2022 TAIP Funded Project; Suzanne Skaar.” Background art: screen capture of black and white pixel art dinosaur peering over green brick wall in underground environment. Different colored pipes form networks throughout the foreground and background of the picture. Pink No, Mine! Studios logo is in the bottom right corner.
I’ll be presenting at the next Tacoma Arts Commission meeting!
Join us online on Monday, September 12, 2022 at 5 p.m. I’ll be talking about my experience as part of the 2021-2022 Tacoma Arts Initiative Program Funded Cohort and progress on my first game. Information is available on the City of Tacoma’s website.
Stop by and test the latest progress on the as-yet-untitled dino game.The last public demo was at the October 2021 Arts at the Armory event. There’s still so much to do, but I am excited to share the progress made since then!
For those interested in being included in the game as an NPC, I’ll have audio recording equipment and permission forms on hand as well. 🙂
I received support for the research and development of game background art from the Tacoma Arts Commission through the 2021-2022 Tacoma Artist Initiative Program. (While the Kickoff Party will mark the completion of my participation in the program, I’ll definitely be working on the game for the foreseeable future.) For those who would like to learn more about this program, I’ll be talking about my TAIP experience at the September 12 Commission meeting.
You can help support this small, Tacoma-based business by liking, following, and sharing @nominestudios on the following platforms:
I have been invited to talk about my project at the September 12 Tacoma Arts Commission meeting which will be recorded and posted for the public. If you would like to check out what’s been going on in Tacoma, you can find the Arts Commission meetings here. The new Tacoma Arts Initiative Program (TAIP) application should be up in a couple of months, and these meetings are a great way to gather insight into what Commissioners look for in project proposals.
In the next few weeks, I’ll also be able to share more information about a free all-ages arts party in Tacoma that No, Mine! Studios will be a part of. Mark your calendars for the evening of October 5! Although I still have a lot more that I plan to do in terms of game development, this event will be the final component of my TAIP 2021-2022 Project.
As always, thank you for your support! If you haven’t yet done so, you can like and follow No, Mine! Studios for more frequent updates on the following social media platforms:
My next live demo is at Grit City Comic Show’s Artist Alley in October, & I’ll be announcing my TAIP artist talk soon, so I’ve been hard at work on background art, secondary character design, & animations.
I’ve been looking up the history of cool Tacoma buildings I want to reference in my game and did some digging into what used to be an old theater in the Lincoln District.
When it was first built, the owner made it so that women (not men, mind you) could have a separate nursery area for caring for their kids and still see the screen. It closed in 1958, became a theater not at all appropriate for kids, then a church. It’s been boarded up for a while, now.
While I usually change the names of buildings/ businesses to dinosaur/prehistoric puns, I think I’ll keep the original name in this instance.
A challenge with drawing from historical references for this game has been to not be too literal in the design process. I’ve taken some liberties with background art design for the purpose of keeping with the game’s overall style. For example, looking at my illustration and the historical photo of Rex Theatre side by side, it’s easy to see that my version is a little taller and less rounded on the top than the original. Another difference is that while the original theater had 650 seats, I don’t think 650 dinosaurs could fit into the original theater.
At least not 650 adult T-Rexes. The building itself is only 6,000 square feet, and T-rexes could grow up to 40 feet long and 12 feet high, and that’s not accounting for width…
So rest assured, my overthinking friends who also get caught up in historical details, I am overthinking this, too, and we’re just going to let some things slide. And the other details I can’t let slide will be dealt with in the game as awkwardly as possible. Like what happens when you try to jam as many dinosaurs as you can into a theater.
I’m grateful to the Tacoma Arts Commission for supporting this part of the game research process through the Tacoma Artist Initiative Program (TAIP). You can learn about other TAIP projects by clicking here.