Staying on Track

Keeping a 4th grade creative genius on task in remote school while also working on my own projects has been challenging at times. I am not always aware that she has an assignment due until she loudly announces, “Oh no! I was supposed to do this by [time in the past/ two minutes from the current time]!!!” Many times while I am trying to concentrate, The Child will barge in to ask questions which could have been written down and/ or Googled for later when she had time. I don’t want to ignore her, but kids at this age need to learn how to prioritize tasks on their own, and sometimes Mom just needs to finish a thought.

So we went old school. While she was sleeping last Sunday night, my co-parent installed a new 2’x3′ corkboard on the wall above her workspace. I taped cool LED lights around the edge of the board and cleaned her desk to give her a fresh start. In the morning, I gave her a stack of Post-It notes and pins. As I handed her the Post-Its, I stated they would only be used for writing down tasks, due dates, and questions related to school.

A blood oath was sworn. I retreated to work in peace, patting myself on the back for my parenting skills.

Chaos ensued. In a matter of hours, the board and her freshly organized workspace had transformed into Post-It Alley. She had perfected Origami frogs, developed an amazing new line of cartoon characters, and somehow missed even more deadlines because she was spending too much time “organizing.” To top it off, it wasn’t long before she burst into my workspace to ask this absolutely life or death question: “Mom, can I have more push-pins?”

Suffice it to say, the few remaining Post-Its were confiscated. I re-approached the drawing board, and designed a series of organizational headers and task cards for her use instead. I intentionally left a couple of blank cards in the design so she can cut out the squares and improvise as needed — ideas of projects to work on independently, plans for world domination, etc. The board looks a lot more organized, and she still has space to color and customize cards that get placed on the board.

Category headings by Suzanne Skaar, 2021. All rights reserved.
PDF available for personal and educational use at no cost.
Task card samples by Suzanne Skaar, 2021. All rights reserved.
PDF available for personal and educational use at no cost.

I am sharing the file for those who’d like to print it out here. It’s free for personal and educational use. If you find this kind of resource useful, you can contribute to studio expenses/ buy me a coffee here. You can also comment below with suggestions for additional cards/ themes. I’d be happy to post additional versions in the future. Please share this blog post with friends who might need it. And if you haven’t yet, please like and follow No, Mine! Studios on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok.

Cheers!

Suzanne

New work

The countdown is on to the Arts at the Armory event, and the last few weeks have been a flurry of excitement. The banner and an order for buttons were sent off to the printers yesterday. Now my focus is on finishing a small coloring/ activity booklet for my table and a brief demo of some of the game art so far. If you’re in the Tacoma area, come say hello on October 16 or 17.

Draft cover of Coloring and Activity book.

In non-dino game related news, I released another experimental track on Bandcamp today called “And in Time of War (part 1).” This side project (DJ Living Wage) is an excuse to fall into the gloom and doom of October/ politics in general, so be forewarned.

DJ Living Wage is now on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook.

For more upbeat, pixelated dino goodness, follow No Mine! Studios on:

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

TikTok

YouTube

As always, thank you for your support!

— Suzanne

Stickers

I ordered a test run of stickers and magnets through Stickermule, and they just arrived on Monday evening. I am happy with the results and can’t wait to order a larger run of stickers and buttons. In the meantime, I am looking at options for offering limited runs through indie comics, arts, and other stores. If you’re interested in selling No, Mine! Studios designs in your store, please feel free to email nominestudios@gmail.com.

Photo of stickers and magnet against black background. Stickers and magnets are of pixel dinosaur eating a taco.
Test run of vinyl and holographic stickers and magnets from Stickermule. Photo by Suzanne Skaar, 2021. All rights reserved.

Artists, if you have been thinking about getting some of your work printed through Stickermule, click here for a $10 credit. (Double check their site for limitations.) Their team was very responsive and easy to work with through the setup process.

As always, thank you for your support!

Suzanne

Screenshot Saturday

Good morning! Here’s a look at some of this week’s progress.

Screen capture of game progress in Unity. 2D pixel art dinosaur walking along the sidewalk past a flower shop. Music, graphics, animation, and editing by Suzanne Skaar. All rights reserved 2021.

Technical Hiccups

I’m still working out the overall music score/ sound design, and will be for some time. My laptop and some of the major DAWs are not on speaking terms at the moment, so much of this week was spent on tech boards looking up what’s going on with my audio drivers and dreading having to go out and purchase an audio interface.

I have also been arguing with the sound settings in Unity about triggering sounds only in proximity to the player, and not from the start of the scene. Imagine, if you will, the simultaneous cry of a million peeping stegos, and you understand why sound is not currently enabled in my game build.

However, I will not let technology win this war. To quote Flaming Lips:

[S]he knows that
It’s demanding
To defeat those evil machines
I know she can beat them

Process, Workarounds and Links

For those who are interested in learning more about my process, I made the music using a combination of two free programs, Beepbox and Audacity. The program I have been using to build the game, Unity, is free for those under a certain income threshold. I then used Adobe Premiere Pro to compile audio I’ve been kicking around for a while now with new in-engine footage from Unity. As I was already subscribed to Adobe Creative Cloud for Photoshop, it makes sense for me to work in this software, but the price can be a barrier for those not fully invested in the field yet. If others have suggestions for free video editing software, please feel free to make suggestions in the comments. I know there are several great options out there.

If you want to see more behind the scenes work or receive updates, please follow this blog. You can also like and follow No, Mine! Studios (nominestudios) on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, and Facebook.

Thank you for your support!

–Suzanne

Dino Game Update

Hi.

I started working on my first video game in June 2020. Progress is coming along nicely. I’m striving a balance between pushing forward and fleshing out the first game level’s overall layout while going back and refining existing work. The following trailer contains some new in-game scenes. Tacoma people might recognize a couple of shout outs.

Thank you for following along as I tackle my largest project to date!

If you haven’t yet done so, connect with No Mine! Studios on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and now even TikTok. I would love your support!

Suzanne

Physics

Fun fact: Removing the box collider from the playable character provoked instant evil laughter from the kid.

Poor dino.

Falling
Work in progress. Behind the scenes look at what happens if you remove the box collider from a game object. Suzanne Skaar. All rights reserved.

 

Dinosaurs and other Updates

Summer has been fairly busy. On top of entertaining a kid during a pandemic and planning for homeschool, I’ve had other projects in the works. I was asked to submit work to a by invitation-only call for cyberpunk stories to a journal overseas. Regardless of whether my story gets picked up for publication, it was an honor to be asked, especially as I haven’t written in this genre before. I’ve been volunteering locally as I’ve been able. Remote meetings are a lifesaver for individuals with chronic illnesses/ conditions like migraines, arthritis, and motherhood (ahem), so I hope this trend continues after the pandemic. The ability to turn off the video and audio functions is especially appreciated. A laughing, streaking kid in the house did elicit momentary panic at one point.

In the relatively quiet moments and through the chaos, I have begun to make significant progress on my biggest project to date [Master’s thesis be damned]: an indie narrative game combining many of my favorite subjects.

Here is a peek at the main character:

Mini Dino Pixel Art.
Mini Dino Pixel Art (side view). Suzanne Skaar. 2020. All rights reserved.

Dino Front view Idle 8 19 2020
Front view Dino character, idle. Suzanne Skaar, 2020. Animation/ pixel art. Work in progress. All rights reserved.

My last programming class was in high school, more than 20 years ago, so I have been teaching myself Unity, a development platform which is free to users up to a certain revenue bracket. Brackeys tutorials on YouTube have been on repeat for months in the house. They are awesome: go check them out! Thanks to the site Beepbox, I have also been working on digital music composition for the first time. I first started using Audacity for podcasts a few years back, and it continues to be a great tool for artists. [While I’m not ready to share some of my serious attempts yet, my co-conspirator did willingly lend her vocals to this “parenting dance anthem.” It was created using Beepbox and Audacity.] 

Other snippets of the game art are up on the No Mine! Studios Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook pages. I’ve set myself a soft deadline of December (6 months from when I started) to get basic art in place so I can focus on research, writing, and mechanics. This game is a one mother show. If you are on the above platforms, please follow for updates, like, and share. Your support means a lot!

Gift of the No Mine! Kind

It’s December!

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

You’ve made it through another year. Congratulations!

 

Treat yourself at the online No Mine! Studios Redbubble shop. Custom order stickers, cards, framed prints, scarves, skirts, coffee mugs, hardcover journals, and more embellished with No Mine! designs. Great for a last minute gift — most orders are printed and shipped within 24 hours! To find must order by dates, click here.

 

Have an idea for something you’d like to order but don’t see it in the shop? Send an email to nominestudios [at] hotmail [dot] com.

 

Cheers!

 

Suzanne

No Mine! Studios