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.
The subtitled version of the first Yeetcosystem Promo is set to premiere on YouTubeat noon today (November 16, PST )!
[Content warning: There is one swear word, and it’s not even my favorite — I mean a really bad one.]
I promise I’ll get back to posting dinos and other work soon — unless some actual investors want to make this project happen. [How much would liability insurance on a project like this cost? Ten dollars?]
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.
A huge thank you to everyone who came by to show their support at Grit City Comic Show! And thank you for your patience regarding our technical difficulties. Who knew affordable access to electricity for vendors would be so vital to a game demo at a convention?
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 email@example.com.
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!
“If all the other galleries charged submission fees to jump off a bridge, would you?”
“How much is the normal submission fee to jump off the bridge? Will artists have to pay for the bungee cords and protective gear on top of the application fee? Would it be during Art Walk? Will there be a no-host bar?”
An online discussion over the weekend about the ethics of charging artists submission fees led to some misogynist and ableist attacks on my intelligence, mental health, and character, as well as what would seem to be a not-so-veiled threat. So of course, I decided to talk about the practice here.
Artists shouldn’t pay submission fees to have work considered.
Not if the work will be seen by “so many people,” not if “other galleries are charging fees,” and not if accepted artists will receive some kind of perk that can be purchased from that business any other time of the year for the same amount of money as the submission fee.
Other authors have already done excellent jobs on explaining how submission fees frontload the risk of shows onto artists. Martha Knox gives a detailed breakdown on the subject, particularly how the charging of fees maintains the status quo of who is represented in the art world. Please read her article, aptly named “Stop Charging and Paying Artist Submission Fees.” The site Art Business Info. for Artists covers the phenomenon of “vanity galleries” — galleries which make their money off of artists and not actually selling artists’ work. If you’re just starting out as an artist, or if you know someone who is struggling in this field, please, please read their page for a great list of red flags.
Instead of repeating the information found on these sites, here are resources for finding arts organizations that don’t charge submission fees.
Seattle-based Artist Trust recently revised their opportunities website to list whether an organization charges submission fees up front. They also have a number of grants available for Washington-based artists, as well as assistance for those interested in learning how to apply for said grants.
Submittable’s advanced search option allows creators to exclude results with fees. If you haven’t used it before, click the “Sign In” button to create a free account.
An international site that I have had luck with in the past for writing opportunities is the UK-based Writers HQ. Not only do they list the compensation writers can expect to receive, “Writers’ HQ will now only be accepting listings from organisations offering accessible submission opportunities for low-income writers.” Many of the opportunities listed are free.
Submission fees are exploitative. Stop normalizing them, and start creating spaces for more artists to thrive.
I try to share resources as I find them. If this kind of advice is helpful, please let me know either in the comments or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org), and I’ll make it a more regular feature on the blog.
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:
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.
Social media reminded me that 11 years ago today, I made the announcement that I was expecting my Junior Tester, a.k.a. “Kiddo,” and 9 years ago today, I started this website, nominestudios.com, borrowing the then 1.5-year-old’s favorite phrase.
The development of this website inspired me in many ways to make the switch from painting to digital art. The need to keep two cats and a toddler out of my ink and paper supply also provided a lot of motivation to this end. I started off doing animations using a mouse and an old MacBook that kept dying. I was finally able to update my equipment two years ago to a computer capable of running current forms of Windows and a Wacom tablet after the pandemic once again necessitated a shift in work styles.
And now, I’m fortunate enough to be developing a game, experimenting with music and sound effects, and doing research/ background art with support of the Tacoma Arts Commission Artist Initiative Program.
Here’s a look back on some of my work through the years. Apparently WordPress is still glitching on mobile apps with some of the animations :(, so if you can view this on desktop, it will hopefully work better.
Thank you all for your support!
Click on any photo below to expand to slide show view.