itch-darkdeeds

Itch: The Dark Deed

“Give us yer money, or we’ll slit yer throats!” the leader of the brigands threatened in a low growl. His short sword waving menacingly at two travelers, the blade sharp and gleaming in the sun. His near dozen fellow assailants surrounded their targets and growled their agreements. Brandishing a mismatched assortment of weapons from make-shift clubs to axes to long swords, they readied to pounce hungrily if their leader gave the word.

The two victims stood side-by-side, and seemed to be exact opposites in attitudes.

The younger lad was well-groomed, richly dressed, and shaking in his soft, leather boots. His light green silk shirt sat slightly askew from where one of the robbers had shoved him toward his associate. He was terrified and just stood petrified. He looked like a rich man’s son who had never seen the business end of a weapon.

The other man stood shadowed, though it was mid day and they were under the bright autumn sun. He was all in a long, black cloak with a hood pulled up over his head, the cowl low over his eyes. Dark leather gloves with strange writing in dark red across the back. Where the other man was scared, he was indifferent to the point of being oblivious to the highwaymen.

“What do we do,” the young man asked the dark cloaked man.

“Looks like your friend has nothing to say,” one robber said, smiling a toothless grin, “perhaps he will not mind if we lessen his load a few coppers!”

They laughed, and the speaker began to move forward, until the man in black spoke. It was a simple word barely a whisper, and no one understood what he meant.

“Itch.”

They stopped, and the toothless robber looked at the leader, who simply shrugged and waved him to continue his play. The robber nodded and smiled, yet moved tentatively toward the mysterious man.

It started as a tickle on his chest. He didn’t pay any attention, and just rubbed it away. It grew quick until it was a burning sensation across his breast.

He turned to his leader, who was likewise rubbing his heart area. The others in the thieving party all had the same feeling.

“Itch.”

The burning grew until it was all over his body. It was an uncontrollable urge, and they scratched and scratched.

“ITCH!” the man in black screamed. Birds flew away at the sound, and his young companion jerked away and fell surprise.

Men screamed in agony as they ripped shirts away, trying to see the cause of their affliction, but there was none. It was under their skin, and bestial reasoning took place of human logic, and they began to scratch harder at the skin.

Red lines began to appear from where they dug into their flesh. They looked at each other, and themselves, in horror – but they continued to scratch, ignoring the pain.

The toothless one dropped first, bleeding to death. His face twisted in torment and pain. Chunks of skin hanging off like ripped fabric.

Others soon fell to the itch. Their bodies marred and disfigured, destroyed by the desire to stop the crawl under their flesh. As if a million tiny ants scurried along sinew and bone like they would on dirt and rock.

The leader fell last, being the strongest willed. He gave a look of hatred and fear toward the man in black before falling like the others.

“What did you do,” the young man whispered.

“I started the beginning,” the dark man said, his voice monotone and deep. He began to move off the road toward the forest.

“Beginning of what?” the nobleman called, getting off the ground and running after him. He kept looking back at the brigands, his fear replaced by contempt for these fools.

“It will be night soon,” the dark one said, looking at the sky. It would soon be dark even though it felt like moments ago it was midday.

“We should prepare,” the dark man said, almost to himself.

“You didn’t answer my question,” the nobleman called, walking toward him, careful not to step in blood, “the beginning of what?”

The dark man stopped and waited for him to reach him before he turned to answer his question.

“It is the beginning of your army.”

The young man turned toward the corpses and slowly began to smile. He’s return to his kingdom and take what was his by force. No idiot brother of his would steal his crown.

“Excellent.” he replied, spitting into the dirt and following his companion.

What’s new at the lab

It’s already a quarter through 2014 and there has been little or no news from the lab. It’s as if a black hole spontaneously opened and sucked up all the projects, leaving no news or updates!

Well, in a way that is what happened. Minus the cosmic event.

Things of the personal nature has caused all the wonderful projects on the “to do” list to be pushed back. It’s a bit frustrating, but that’s life.

So, small updates per projects:

Deadland Chronicles

This project is huge. It’s going to take some time. I’m tweaking, revisiting, tweaking, revisiting the script trying to get it right. It will come. What form, who knows. It could stay as a graphic novel/comic, be a written novel or hey, maybe an animated series. Time will tell. But this story is dear to me and won’t be left alone for long.

Show your support! Like DLC on Facebook

Hello, Hydro

Mobile games are the future! And they’re here today! Which, means .. they’re really the present and …

This is still in the works. I’ve been slowing building up my code base so when it comes time to rollin everything out I’ll be on top of it. This will be primarily a game for your smartphones and tablets – so get your game face on.

Dance like a robot and like Hydro on Facebook!

Bitter Balloons

Oh, these darling little air filled bundles of grouchy joy!

We (Jon [Jerboa Studios] and Tadd) are still hard at work on this, but with time cut short by prior obligations we had to step back, take a breather and regroup. We’re still excited for this project, we thing it’s going to be one heck of a game! Who doesn’t want to get rid of their grouchy little balloons!?

Get poppin’ and like Bitter Balloons on Facebook

Other writings and games

OK, anyone who knows me(Tadd) knows I have dozens of ideas for other projects that I keep tucked away in what passes for my brain. Also, Evernote. So where are these in the greater scheme of things?

To be fair to the previously mentioned projects I’m putting a lot of my future dreams and aspirations on hold for now. Other than taking notes to expand whatever world I’m creating for said story. I love writing. I love exploring new possibilities. Until I have time, they’ll have to be put on a shelf, only to be admired from afar.

In Conclusion

So you see, the lab is still in full effect. However, 2014 has shown some unwanted surprises and we had to pull back a little before we’re completely overwhelmed.

Our beakers are burning. The lab is still open.

Scientifically Yours,
Prof. Tadd
Head Lab Technician  

Letter to the Crew of UGSA Explorer

Congratulations, Crew of UGSA Explorer!

On behalf of the entire human race, we want to thank you for your dedication and passion for exploring the stars. Our world is in peril. After hundreds and thousands of years, we need a new source of life. A new Earth.

That is your mission, Explorer.

While our home dies, our attempts to Terraform other planets within the Milky Way has gone unsuccessful, and the human race is reaching an unprecedentedly genocidal catastrophe. With our air polluted, water and natural resources depleted, everything is dying.

This is a race with time, ladies and gentlemen. You few are the first to venture out of our reaches. Beyond the edges of mapped space, where no human has ever ventured. You are the first to fly in the Explorer. A united venture of all earth, to explore the reaches of space. This is science fiction made reality.

Now go and be safe, and return soon. We will look to the stars for your return.

Sincerely,
Jonathan Wilson
United Global Space Administration President

 

Old Asylum – Work In Progress

I decided to start a new project in Blender today. I found a pretty awesome photo by “Project Mayhem” from historical Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in West Virginia. The picture is really lovely.

So I couldn’t help myself but to open up good ol’ Blender and try to model it out in 3D.

I started by examining the image for a while. There is a lot of little details to the scene, such as broken doors and window frames, that really make the image feel sad, but beautiful. I started doing small things first (walls, windows, ceiling) and I’m now adding details such as the light switch and wire conduits. The lighting in the end will make or  break this render, so I’ll be playing around with that in the near future.

This is a work in progress, and so far I’m enjoying the progress.

Low Poly Imagery: Oh how fun it is!

lowpoly_lake
Fun, Low Poly scene made in Blender

The low poly artwork style has become one of the newest fads to hit the 3D world. It’s a faux-illustrative style that uses flat colors and very little heavy detail. It often feels like origami – folded and cut.

I actually have fallen into a fascination with this method. It’s inviting. It has the ability to tell a story, but leave enough to supposition. There is a quirky, playful feel that just appeals to my imagination.

Recently I created a fun little scene using Blender. It took me about an hour to model, texture and render the scene which is really quick. The above scene is simply titled “Low Poly Scene”. I started off following a tutorial and quickly abandoned to take it in a different direction. The final results were better than I anticipated.

After this was finished, I decided to take it a step further. Opening the delightfully easy to use Unity 3D I was able to import the assets from Blender (exported as FBX files) and set up a quick scene to run around in. It took less than half an hour to put it all together in Unity, add some custom collisions so people won’t fall off the world, run through trees and can sit on the bench.

You can explore the scene at: [http://projects.cubelabmedia.com/lowpoly/] (You will need Unity3D’s browser plugin)

If you have any questions, please comment below. Should I make a tutorial on any of this? Make a time-lapse video?

 

The bitter start to an uplifting future

Today we began real work on a future game. We, as in friend, developer and fellow game addict, Jon Price. We met and sketched out and talked and worked out some preliminary specs for our first cooperative game, “Bitter Balloons”. Coming soon to Android and iOS devices nearest to you!

We’re really stoked about the prospects this brings.

Here are some pictures of an hour of discussion.

 

Hello Hydro Game Update

I’ve been off and on not really giving much updates to anything I’ve been working on. Shame on me.

However, there is some small updates on the game, Hello Hydro. This platform style game is being developed to play on a desktop/laptop computer and, hopefully, in the future your Android/iOS device.

Originally, my plan was for it to play like this: http://projects.cubelabmedia.com/hydro/ and this was a fun prototype. However, I opened up Unity3D and played around for a weekend.

The following videos are prototypes only and not intended to be viewed as a real product.

My first attempt wasn’t bad. But I needed to fix a few things. I really wanted a rotating wheel .. so, after a little extra code ..

BAM, a wheel that spins in the correct direction.

For the robotic character I used Blender. It’s not the best model, but it was enough to get me started.

One thing that I learned, through trial and error, was the FBX format is far better than OBJ for game characters. When I bring it into unity it keeps all the data from Blender that I needed. I can then take pieces (such as the wheel) and rotate it in game, rather than build out animations (BVM) and bringing those into Unity. This makes it more flexible to me and allows me to do more with my character.

I had to also find a good screen capture tool. I didn’t want to pay for Camtastia, Jing didn’t cut it and CamStudio has frame rate issues. So, after a lot of time on Google I came across Open Broadcaster Software. This a 100% free software that works wonderfully. The interface isn’t perfect, but it works well.

Is creating outlines for a story worth the trouble?

As a constant dreamer of stories I have a lot going on in the ol’ brain. Different stories, angles and characters weave themselves through out my sub-conciseness likes ants through the anthill.

Sometimes this can be a great thing. It helps me to solidify a story, plot of idea and gives me a chance to explore different avenues. It gives a character life and makes he or she likable. It personifies the villain and proves to me why they’re despicable.

However, more often it muddies the water. Causes me to bounce around from idea to idea without landing and gives me trouble focusing the story. This is death to any writer.

Today marks the start of a new way for me to write. I’m setting down the pen for a few weeks and will start pushing myself to create a fairly detailed “item map” for ‘The Elderverse’. This includes characters, sub-characters, plots and scenes.

This will, I hope, help me to focus on the the story and know where things sit and how they fit. I can explore the characters and plots just as much, but will help me to focus instead of writing random on a sheet of paper. That may work for some folks, but not for this guy.

What do you think? Is this a good way to approach writing?

Hello, Hydro Game

hydro-test

It’s about time that I went from “just playing around” to creating something to be played. So, I’ve started working on my first game – coming sometime – called:

HELLO, HYDRO!

H,H will be a platform style game ala Super Mario Brothers created for desktop computers (Win and Mac).

This simple, fun game will be released in chapters and will feature a cute robot, tricky jumps and more.

I’m really excited to create this and have already started prototyping it out. Hopefully I’ll be able to show something more in the near future!

Hair progression for Deadland Chronicles Character

I’ve been struggling on the “hair front” for the graphic novel, Deadland Chronicles, for some time. I’ve bounced around from using all Blender to Daz Studio to makeHuman … nothing seemed to work for the longest time.

Happily, I’ve gotten further on this than I hoped. Here is a short progression of tests.

FIRST TEST

This was a test as I was planning on using Daz Studio. So I needed a mesh=rendered hair. Not the best … actually, it’s pretty embarrassingly bad.

hairtest

SECOND TEST

This was taking what I tried in my previous and make it work better. The result, while not ideal, did give me some hope that I wasn’t wasting time. Using Blender.

hair_test_v2

THIRD TEST

Trying to use a hair technique used by Henrik Ryosa in his upcoming project, Brute, the result was albeit interesting but really not what I was looking for. It did, however, push a few of my Blender skills a bit and helped me to learn a few new tools that I didn’t know Blender had.

This was simply put extruding faces individually, smoothing and closing the ends to make big chunks. Finally, using the cloth modifier to make it fall.

henrikstylehair

FINAL TEST

Finally – I abandoned Daz Studio (which I would need to export a mesh) and fully embraced a Blender/makeHuman pipeline. I can now use the hair particle tools to make some pretty convincing looking hair.

The results I think are the best – not perfect but with a few tweaks could be pretty outstanding for this graphic novel.

newhairtest

And there we have it. A few interesting tests of different hair. I’m excited to see where I can take it from here!

This is the future

There have been a few changes for me (T.E. Mencer) in the recent past.

First of all, I’m not doing freelance web design or development any longer, except for select clients. I don’t have the time to dedicate to client work. It also ends up not that great of a deal and I work long hours in order to meet the needs of a project.

I’ve closed my personal blog. Why? Because it’s become more of a distraction than anything else. It was unfocused and didn’t really create any new. I felt the blog would be more of a personal rant, and I didn’t need that.

So, what is the future?

First of all, CubeLab Media will start taking shape. I’ll be releasing development posts about projects that I’m creating such as Deadland Chronicles (visit www.facebook.com/deadlandchronicles).

You’ll hopefully notice new works passing through and being presented. It’s time for the creative part to begin shinning through.

With that said, keep watching these digital walls. They’ll be painted with information upon information and hopefully you’ll see positive projects released.

Cheers.