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      Game Culture

      Bullet Appétit - Volume Three

      Bullet Appétit - Volume Three



      Gaming works up a mean appetite. This is especially true when you’re world-hopping and gripping your controller tight with grueling boss battles. We here at Mega Cat know all too well how easy it is to forget to fuel up when traveling and working.



      Some of us have wholesome, nutritionally dense, often Vegan diets. Others are unevolved meat-eating cavemen. Some of the cats at the office subsist on Pop-tarts.



      Good food helps us perform and feel better. It’s not just good diets that create good games. We also take time to enjoy simple pleasures like a great drink or sumptuous dessert. We work hard, we play hard, and it's important to reward yourself from time to time.



      Once again, our food influencer pals have come to the rescue with a variety of different dishes and treats to tantalize the palette! Whether you are a kitchen ninja or a master of take out, these recipes are sure to be a hit with cooks of all skill levels.




      The Succulent Bite

      Nico Norena is the founder of The Succulent Bite. Born in Chicago in 1993, raised in Madrid and with a Colombian family, Nico grew up traveling the world and exploring various food cultures. What started as a passion for food and photos, soon progressed to a social media marketing company that works to take the most succulent bites from Miami and travel directly to you!

      When you look through his feed, you can expect nothing less than indulgent and mouthwatering content, from the most mesmerizing cheese pull, to a spoon diving into a freshly baked souffle. Awarded Best Food Instagram 2019 by the New Times, he tags every place he visits, so everyone can go get themselves a piece of deliciousness.

      Favorite Gaming Memory: “ I remember as a young boy playing Pokemon in my GameBoy color. I had the red version and my cousin had the blue. We used to stay hours playing and advancing levels together, trading Pokemon and sharing endless memories.”


      Nico’s Walnut Chocolate Fudge Brownies
      & Ice Cream


      Nico Norena: “Why cook?: Sharing a meal or a dessert with someone means spending time (even if just a few minutes) and enjoying the delicacy together. Each of these moments will have a story, create the best ones!”



      Appeasing a Food Geek

      Kelsey Tenney is a food scientist and product developer that loves to dabble in making home cooking more approachable. Always a food nerd, she uses the science behind cooking, baking, and ingredient interactions to create recipes that are understandable for any level of home cook. She also loves to drop general geeky food facts in the mix too, because why not? She lives in the Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco, and you can usually find her reading a cookbook, baking, or testing out a new twist on the dirty gin martini.

      Favorite Gaming Memory: I remember playing Fatty Bear's birthday surprise on my family's old-school PC when I was a kid. I loved it because the big priority of the game was to find ingredients to bake a surprise cake for Fatty Bear's owner (he's a stuffed animal), Kayla. I must have played that game dozens of times every month.


      Kelsey’s Sweet Potato Broccolini Sheet Pan Hash


      Kelsey Tenney: “Cooking is great fun. It can be experimental, meditative, routine, or simply a way to cure a craving. It is often viewed as something that's intimidating, but once you conquer a couple meals, it's very freeing. This recipe is a great way to start if you're new to cooking or a great add to the repertoire if you're a kitchen veteran.

      You can make this recipe work with whatever is in your pantry. It’s extremely versatile for veggies and seasonality. I used broccolini here, but cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, and squash would all work wonderfully! Also reducing the potatoes and adding more veggies makes it more nutritious. Plus, it all gets roasted on one sheet pan, so clean up couldn’t be easier. Bonus: springtime herb sauces would be amazing here as well. Enjoy!”




      Giovanny Gutierrez is a technology evangelist, thought leader and serial entrepreneur. Giovanny is Founder of Chat Chow TV, a mouth-watering video podcast where he goes behind the scenes with the chefs, owners and mixologists of Florida's celebrated food industry and is currently operating as Director of Interactive Media at Tinsley Advertising in Miami, FL. Previously Giovanny was founder of Ionic Studios, making viral videos like my Wii Fit Girlfriend and teaching web design/programming at Miami Dade College.

      Favorite Gaming Memory: “Playing a Ms. Pac Man cocktail for the first time. I was instantly hooked!”


      Giovanny’s Havana Especial


      Giovanny Gutierrez: “Opened in 1912, hordes of tourists arrived from New York aboard the "Havana Special' first-class train service, which would take them in 42 hours aboard train and steamships from Key West to Cuba. Havana Especial ran until 1960 when it ceased operations.”




      Alyson Nachman started over 5 years ago out of a passion for family, travel, and food! Cruise over and you’ll find helpful reviews and photos of cruises, resorts, and destinations…plus all the food that comes with them. She is obsessed with the culinary aspects of vacationing (and so are we). Taking pictures of what’s around her, on her plate, and even the menus: you’ll find it all on her website, as well as on her social media posts. She can talk cruising and food all day long! Maybe she’ll take us with her next time!

      Favorite Gaming Memory: “ Lots of gaming memories here! Both of my boys were immediately obsessed with gaming from the day they were born so MANY happy occasions and milestones have been celebrated with gaming gifts throughout the years.”


      Alyson’s Bermuda Beef

      Alyson Nachman: “One benefit of travel is to discover other cultures. I love to recreate dishes that I’ve had when visiting other regions. It virtually brings me back to vacation mode! An easy and favorite recipe is one that I created after visiting Bermuda and sampled their amazingly delicious skewered beef at Harbor Nights, one of their popular summer festivals”



      Buddy The Traveling Monkey

      Vicky Sosa is a Florida-based blogger traveling around the world with her stuffed monkey Buddy. From a very young age she dreamed of traveling the world and got her first real chance after joining the Army. Since then, she’s had many different jobs and lived in many different cities.Two years ago, tired of the 9-5, she sold all of her stuff and started traveling and writing full-time.

      She started her website Buddy The Traveling Monkey to provide others with useful travel tips, inspiration, and destination guides. Although she writes about her travels all over the world, she loves to focus on Florida and show how much more there is to the state than the typical tourist attractions.With her blog she hopes to inspire people to get out there and see the world, whether it’s a weekend trip or traveling for a year.

      Favorite Gaming Memory: “A favorite gaming memory of mine was following along as a guy I was dating at the time played "The Last Of Us." I've never been good at actually playing video games (I'm horrible with controllers) but I've been a pretty good helper. As in, I watch and point out things the gamer might miss, help with mini games, etc. "The Last Of Us" had an incredible story though and I was hooked from the beginning, more so than any other video game. I remember being so emotionally invested that I cried at a few key storyline parts. It got so bad that I wouldn't let my boyfriend play the game unless I was there because I didn't want to miss any of the story!”


      Vicky and Buddy’s Italian Meatloaf


      Vicky Sosa: “I love this Italian Meatloaf recipe because it's different from your traditional meatloaf and is very easy to make.”



      Meals Maven

      As Owner of The Meals Maven, Stacy does more than create delicious recipes. With an eye on simplicity and common sense, she’s dedicated to protecting the place of real food in our everyday lives through an established system of meal planning.

      Favorite Gaming Memory:I wouldn't call myself a gamer but I've had my hands on games a couple of times in my life. When we were kids, my brother and I had to share this electronic handheld pinball game. I loved it and was way better at it than him. My husband tracked one down for me on ebay for my birthday one year, which was really sweet. It's in pretty rough shape but I'm still good at- even better than my kids. I live in a family of gamers, but I prefer cooking. It's kind of like a game...

      The other, slightly-more-recent gaming attempt was a hospital sim game. At first I thought I could do it, but when patients started relieving themselves in the hallways and garbage started piling up, I quickly realized there was no way to recover and I had to concede.”


      Stacy’s Sweet Potato Chana Masala


      Stacy Westman: ” Nutritious and healthy food is food that is colourful. It’s food that I want to eat. It’s a meal that I want to sit down and savour and enjoy every bite, and it’s food that challenges my taste buds and delights my eyes and tickles my nose. Nutritious and healthy food is food that supports my body- in its entirety- it makes me feel energetic and strong.”





      Bullet Appétit - Volume Two

      Bullet Appétit - Volume Two



      Food and Games. They go together like chicken and dumplings, coke and potato chips, Chewy and Chewella. It’s no surprise that the love for both runs universal. Even in video games, mixing strange digital herbs with other hard to find delicacies gained after fierce challenges are sometimes just the kind of thing you need when stepping up to take down a boss.


      Everybody loves games, despite what your ex-girlfriend told you.





      No Recipes

      Marc Matsumoto is a private chef, culinary consultant, and TV host with a base of clients around the world that range from royalty to celebrities to restaurants. Born in Japan, and raised between the US and Australia, Marc developed an early love for travel and a broad palette of global flavors.

      He spent 8 years as a marketing executive before launching a successful food blog with a large global audience. He believes that by making wholesome delicious food accessible to people of all backgrounds, the world becomes a better place. Marc’s goal is to use his unique positioning to teach basic cooking techniques and inspire people to follow their own culinary adventures.

      Favorite Gaming Memory: "Geez, this is a tough one as I have so many, but here are two:

      Getting a Japanese SuperFamicom in the US almost a full year before the SNES came out. Nintendo only produced 300k in the first run and they sold out almost instantly. My mom flew into Japan a few days after it's release and looked everywhere but couldn't find one. Somehow she convinced the manager of a shop to sell her a unit he was keeping to give his kids for Christmas. About 25 years later, my wife pulled off the same magic to get me a Switch at launch for my b-day *mind blown*


      Marc’s Bulalo


      Marc Matsumoto: “Native to the Southern Luzon region of the Philippines, Bulalo is a light-colored soup that’s made rich by cooking beef shanks and beef marrow bones for hours, until much of the collagen and fat has melted into the clear broth. At its core, Bulalo a simple cattleman’s stew, best made in a large cauldron with whatever veggies are growing nearby.”



      Cooking with Amy

      Amy Sherman is a San Francisco based freelance writer and content developer who has written for food, travel, and lifestyle publications and clients including British Airways, Fodor’s, Food Network, Gastronomica, Via, and Westways. She also develops recipes for clients including USA Pears, Nasoya, and California Avocadoes. She is the author of A Microwave, A Mug, A Meal, wrote the new introduction to Jane Grigson's Vegetable Book, and the foreward to the reprint of Betty Crocker’s Good and Easy Cookbook.

      Favorite Gaming Memory: “I had Blip, a game from TOMY in the late 1970s. It was clunky but I loved it!”

      Amy’s Grilled Cheese, Pear and Turkey Sandwich


      Amy Sherman: “One trick to getting this sandwich is right is to layer the ingredients just so. Start with a mustard slathered slice of bread and top it with cheese. The cheese and the mustard will kind of melt together. Put the smoked turkey in the middle and on the top put the pear. By grilling or toasting the sandwich on both sides in a pan you get a warmed through pear and gooey cheese that holds the turkey firmly in the middle.”



      Culinary Hill

      Born and raised in Wisconsin, Meggan Hill combines her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. There’s nothing she loves more than cooking for her family, cooking for friends, and cooking for every occasion! Food is love on Culinary Hill, and we definitely feel the same way.

      Favorite Gaming Memory: “Favorite gaming memory: Playing Monkey Island with my older brother as a child - specifically the Insult Sword Fighting! Everybody should learn to cook because it’s an easy way to connect with other people. Plus we all need to eat - we need to keep up our strength so we can play more video games!”

      Meggan’s Easy Goulash Recipe


      Meggan Hill: “Sometimes, kitchen-sink dinners are the best kinds, thrown together purely out of hunger and what’s in the refrigerator. A long time ago, Easy Goulash probably started out as just that: something fast and filling that can feed a group—especially kids. That’s why it’s called Mom’s goulash, made by cooks all over the country.

      In case you’re wondering, it’s definitely not a traditional Hungarian goulash, or even a German goulash. It’s more of an American goulash; a beef, mac and cheese concoction made in one single pot for easy clean-up.”



      Chef David Thomas

      The true embodiment of his catch-phrase “ Modern Soul”, Chef David Thomas has always had one foot in the kitchen. He was introduced to farm-to-table cooking by his grandmother, Anna Poole Thomas when he was a young boy. An African-American woman of Blackfoot Indian heritage, she fed her family almost exclusively with the things she raised on her 13-acre property. Drawing upon her teachings; his first restaurant Herb & Soul had built such a demand and following in six months, that they transformed the tiny carry-out into Herb & Soul: Gastro Cafe & Lounge, which went on to become a 4.5-star restaurant. His success continued when he opened Ida B’s Table in partnership with The Real News Network, a place where the truth is honored and ideas are exchanged. Chef Thomas has made it the restaurant’s mission to bring light to the history of Soul Food, and illuminate its future. On top of that, he has taken home the champion title TWICE on Food Network’s Chopped and again on Bite Club! He is currently working on a dinner series, more recipes, and a book that tells the story of Soul Food through food.

      Favorite Gaming Memory:As a kid growing up, I was on a bowling team with my brother. We would get to practice early and stay after practice to play Galaga at the arcade. The best memory?My brother and I would play Call Of Duty. I am very much a history/war buff and experiencing the historical settings of COD really did it for me”


      Chef David’s Succotash


      Chef David Thomas: “ People should learn to cook because it is self sustaining. One must learn to feed oneself in order to survive. At some point you may even find that cooking starts to become a means of creativity and self expression.”



      Paulie’s Kitchen

      Paul Handley is the mind behind Paulie’s Kitchen. The social media account is the home of home-cooked recipes made easy and wrapped in fun. Paul is an avid gamer and a member of a small online Halo community called UK Elite.

      Favorite Gaming Memory: “I remember falling in absolute love with Tekken 2. I used to practice on ultra-hard against the computer and got to the point where I couldn’t find anyone that could beat me! I practiced with all of the characters to learn all of their chain combos and special moves to know what was coming!”


      Paulie’s Steak Quesadillas


      Paul Handley: “A really simple but amazing recipe would be some quesadillas. This Mexican street food is delicious finger food which is ideal with some sour cream and some Guacamole. They are perfect for a bite in between breaks on long gaming sessions!”


      Bullet Appétit - Volume One

      Bullet Appétit - Volume One



      If there’s something everyone can agree on, it’s a universal love of food and video games.

      Far and wide - whether there’s a Wi-Fi connection or not - humanity has always centered around these two happy moments: food and fun. Without one, life is unsustainable. Without the other, what would even be the point?

      Building a game universe from scratch is hungry work. This is especially the case when it's set in an apocalyptic food scarce future where one might find themselves eating robots and other questionable substances to survive.


      I love this meme, and you should too.


      It goes without saying; a hungry dev is an unhappy dev. And after working on a project for three years, unhappy devs can get a bit well… ghoulish. There’s only so far you can go with an eating station and - as an indie game company - it’s not like we were rolling in the Uber Eats.

      Be on the lookout for these helpful vending devices. They will produce foodstuffs upon activation, and can often bring a character back from the edge of ruin.


      Three years of hard work, late nights, and voracious appetites, we’ve finally arrived. We’ve tested the strongest of stomachs, and it soon became clear that Chewy and Chewella weren’t the only ones with a mean bite. To avoid a mutiny, we started scraping the ends of the internet to find some food figureheads, in hopes they’d teach us how to satiate the voracious minds behind Bite the Bullet.

      Actual footage of one of our devs. You do not want to mess with them when they are hangry.


      Lucky for us, we crossed paths with some amazing foodies, chefs, and bloggers that shared our passion for food, and love for cooking. Once they heard we were surviving on Bawls and Cheetos on our Discord, they were happy to help us build a healthy, satisfying menu that inspires both the savvy kitchen hero as well as the basic beginner to roll their sleeves up, and learn to create food that nourishes the body and soul.




      Good Food Stories

      Writer, traveler, and artist: Casey Barber’s work has appeared on TODAY Food, The Kitchn, CNN Travel, DRAFT, and other national publications. She illustrated the book A is for Absinthe and has not one but TWO cats.

      We love her already.

      Favorite gaming memory: “As for my favorite gaming memory, I'm going to have to go with Balloon Fight, the most underrated original Nintendo game ever. I think my sister and I were the only ones who ever rented it from our local Blockbuster, but that was fine because it was constantly stuck in our console as we flip-flopped the little balloon-powered men across the screen.


      Casey Barber’s Homemade Cheese Wiz

      Adapted from Classic Snacks Made from Scratch: 70 Homemade Versions of Your Favorite Brand-Name Treats by Casey Barber


      Casey Barber: “ Homemade Cheez Whiz for nachos, cheese fries or dipping can be made in 5 minutes without adding scary chemicals or preservatives. You're welcome.”


      Baking Bar

      David Purdon is the owner and author of Belfast based food, home, and lifestyle website BakingBar. For the last ten years Baking Bar has provided simple, easy to follow recipes, reviews, and many featured articles.

      Favorite Gaming Memory: “My favorite gaming memory was discovering the Sims, the original Sims when I got my first computer. Hours and hours of time were wasted building fantasy homes (with great kitchens of course!).”


      David Purdon’s Banana Bread


      David Purdon: “Banana bread is a firm favorite in our household and it is a lot simpler than most people think. The recipe is quick, simple and the results are just delicious! Pop the kettle on and enjoy a slice.”



      Simply Souperlicious

      America ex-pat and Chicago native, Carolyn Davenport-Moncel is a writer, entrepreneur, and Souper-in-Chief at Simply Souperlicious, a food recipe website, app and community devoted to converting veggie “haters” into veggie “lovers” – one local, seasonal, homemade soup at a time.

      Favorite Gaming Memory: “My favorite memories always involve my kids’ very first interactions with gaming. For my son, it was sitting on my lap playing Age of Empires together on my PC when he was three years old. For my daughter, it was taking her to an arcade around the age of seven and watching her play Flight Simulator. While my son still loves gaming and plays Fortnight online with friends, it’s my daughter who remains the serious gamer in the house, and she’s just learning to code. She plays everything from 2D games to sports and open-world games. Some of her favorites include: The Long Dark, Red Dead Redemption 2, Witcher, This War of Mine, Life is Strange and Night in the Woods. These days, I just marvel when she plays, but I take pride in knowing that it started at the arcade.”


      Grilled Pomodoro Tomato, Jalapeño, Avocado and Basil Soup


      Carolyn Davenport-Moncel: “Sometimes, all you need is a quick soup! We found a winner in this grilled Pomodoro Tomato, Jalapeño, Avocado and Basil soup! If you have little ones, remove the pepper. Pair this with a classic grilled cheese sandwich and what have you got? Magic!”



      Simply Recipes

      Emma Christensen is the Editor-in-Chief of Simply Recipes. She has over 10 years of experience creating food and cooking content for both web and print. She was formerly the recipe editor for The Kitchn and is the author of three books on home-brewing, True Brews, Brew Better Beer, and Modern Cider.

      Favorite Gaming Memory: “My very first gaming memory is as a kid playing *all* the King's Quest games with my brother on our ginormous PC, and trying to resist as long as possible before looking in the cheat book.”


      Emma Christensen’ Lessons on Tuna Melt & Tuna Salad


      Emma Christensen: “Cooking yourself good food is so awesome. It can definitely seem like a chore, but I actually think it's pretty empowering. Combine ingredients! Add heat! Eat good food you made yourself! It also doesn't need to be complicated: quesadillas and English muffin melts are fast, easy, and delicious”



      Dennis Littley

      Dennis Littley is the talent behind Ask Chef Dennis. Food & Travel Blogger, Chef, Speaker, Brand Ambassador, Content Creator and Digital Strategist; Dennis is eating his way around the World sharing his adventures & recipes!

      Favorite Gaming Memory: I remember playing Frogger and Mousetrap until all hours of the night. But my first video game memory was pong. It was such a simple, silly game but we were amazed at how it worked.


      Dennis’ Four Bean Beef and Beer Chili Recipe



      Dennis Littley: “ Learning to cook is not difficult if you remember that recipes are guidelines. You should enjoy spending time in the kitchen and if you cook what you like to eat your time will always be more enjoyable.”



      Old Fat Guy

      David “Old Fat Guy” Farrell is a food blogger, host of a television cooking show, and an acknowledged expert on smoking meat. He had culinary training when he was young but left the industry. However, he never lost his love of food. When he retired, he started his food blog, starred in a community TV cooking show and published the Old Fat Guy’s Guide to Smoking Meat for Beginners. His second book for Pitmasters is in the works.

      Favorite Gaming Memory: I am old enough I was around when Pon:g came out and had an Atari 400 computer. In those days, my favourite game was Zork. Now, my favourite games series is the Wolfenstein games.


      David’s Cream Cheese Shrimp Rolls


      David Farrel: “ I am a retired fat old guy who lives in the Canadian Rockies. I learned to cook in the navy and culinary school but left the industry to make more money in a government job. I continued cooking as a hobby and started my food blog, when I retired seven years ago.”


      The True Slime King: An Interview with Josh Penn-Pierson

      The True Slime King: An Interview with Josh Penn-Pierson


      How was The True Slime King born?

      The True Slime King is heavily inspired by Super Meat Boy. The game initially started as a test to see if I could build a replay system similar to Super Meat Boy. After I built the replay system, the mechanics of the game were starting to come together, and at that point, the game was fun enough that I decided to continue development to see what it would turn into. Almost 4 years and 2000+ hours later, I'm pretty proud of what I've built with The True Slime King.


      Example of the replay system (green = player; blue = replays that have beat the level; white = fastest replay that has beat the level; yellow = replays that have died without completing the level):




      What is the most impressive thing, visually, about this game?

      From a slightly more technical perspective, one of the more impressive things for me is the wall graphics. The game is built on a 32x32 grid, where each wall block takes up one square in that grid. I wanted to create a good visual atmosphere by having the blocks tile with each other, but I didn't want to just tile a single 32x32 graphic across the whole screen. Humans are good at picking out things that are very repetitive, and my opinion is that this kind of repetition doesn't allow for a polished look in a lot of cases. So I created a 256x256 graphic that tiles with itself vertically and horizontally (which means it only repeats every 8 grid squares). This graphic is overlaid on top of all the walls, making the walls seem like one piece. The difficult parts about this were:


      • Designing the graphics in a way that multiple pieces of different sizes could fit together seamlessly.
      • Making this system work with minimal impact on the performance to the game.


      I got this all working smoothly in the end, and I'm very happy with the result, but it was quite the challenge, so I understand why I haven't seen many other games implement this strategy. Most other games stick to 32x32 graphics and have many alternate graphics that can be plugged in to mix things up. However, these 32x32 graphics still need to tile at the edges of the 32x32 square, so you're still going to get a lot of repetition.


      Wall graphics with just one 32x32 sprite that is tiled:



      Wall graphics with the 256x256 graphic overlayed onto the walls:




      What has development been like?

      Development has been a slow and difficult process, but has also been very rewarding. I've learned a lot through working on The True Slime King, and my pixel art has gotten way better throughout working on the project (which has meant that I've had to go back and update a lot of the graphics I made earlier in development). It's been nice working on the project alone, since I've had complete creative freedom. At the same time, it's been difficult working on the project alone, because sometimes I feel like I exhaust my creativity for the day before I finish all my tasks, and then I just have to keep trudging on anyway and force the creativity to emerge.


      Pixel art progression (bottom was my pixel art at the start of the project; top is my art after a few years working on the project):




      What have been the biggest challenges?

      Working on this project alone has been the single biggest challenge. I do have people I can run ideas by, but when it comes down to it, all of the creative decisions are on me, and it can be hard to know if I'm making the right decisions.

      If I'm having trouble making decisions, usually I will just prototype something and quickly add it to the game. Once things are in the game and I can see them in context, it's easier to figure out what direction to go in. If in doubt, I try to keep things as simple as possible.

      Pixel art as a whole has been very challenging for me, since my art wasn't very good at the start of the project. The main reason development has been slow is because I've had to learn a fair amount of skills along the way (mainly pixel art).



      Any fun development stories?

      I've had lots of fun just playing the game throughout development, but I don't have any specific fun development stories. Although, I do enjoy laughing at people dying over and over while trying to complete any of the levels in the game (as long as they're having fun). As far as pixel art goes, it's been really nice to look back at my old art and see how far I've progressed.



      For a lot of people, working in the game industry is considered a dream job. Did you always know you wanted to work in video games? If not, what did you originally want to be when you grew up?

      I never really dreamed of a career in the game industry. For the longest time, I had wanted to be a wildlife biologist and have a TV show like Steve Irwin. I even went to university for wildlife biology but ended up dropping out after becoming more interested in things like computers and music. All growing up, I dreamed of making my own video games and would write up design documents for how the games would work.

      In any game I played that had a level editor, I would spend hours upon hours crafting my own levels, trying to figure out what elements contribute to making a good level. In high school, I had a graphing calculator that was supposed to be used for math class, but once they taught us basic programming on the calculator, I immediately realized I could start creating my own little games. I did a lot of game programming during math class and ended up failing that class.

      When I bought my own computer in high school, I downloaded some game development software and slowly started learning to program so that I could make video games. Over the years, I've continued to play around with making games and became more and more proficient at all aspects of game development (programming, music, art, level design).

      Toward the end of 2016, I decided my skills were good enough to try building and selling a game. So that's how I got to where I am today, with my first full commercial game (The True Slime King) in Early Access. I still don't have a strong craving to build a career in the game industry (my preference is more toward general software development), but I've definitely enjoyed the journey so far, and I'll just have to see where game development takes me.




      What games did you play as a kid and how did they influence this?

      In my youth, I played lots of Gameboy Color and Gameboy Advance games, so I had a lot of exposure to pixel art and chiptune songs. In high school, I played a lot of Dance Dance Revolution, which further developed my taste in wild electronic music. I think these two sources of music were the most influential in the music composition for The True Slime King (there are a lot of high energy songs with powerful leading melodies, which you don't find in a lot of other games these days).

      I always enjoyed playing games with a puzzle aspect and with technical movement, but there didn't seem to be many that combined both of those elements, so I decided to combine both of those to make The True Slime King into a precision puzzle platformer. I don't really know what influenced the pixel art style of The True Slime King (other than my exposure to a lot of other games and my general interest in pixel art). I mostly just developed my own visual style of the game throughout development.




      What have you learned about yourself through this?

      I wasn't sure if I had all of the skills needed to build a game entirely by myself, so getting the game to where it currently is feels like a huge accomplishment and has empowered me to continue building other software outside of video games.

      I have also learned that everything always takes longer than I originally think it will. There are several large pixel art pieces anywhere between 128x128 to 512x512 pixels that have all taken 5-10 hours each to complete just because of how many pixels to fill in on that size of canvas. A 512x512 piece has 262,144 individual pixels, which is a lot if you're doing them all by hand. I did try to make my workflow as efficient as possible by constructing larger structures using bigger paint brushes or by copying and pasting, and then later going through and adding in the details one pixel at a time. But pixel art on larger scales ends up taking a lot of time (and can be tedious), even if you streamline a lot of the processes. For example, the piece below (207x244) took me several iterations to get to its current state, because I wanted to faithfully upscale the 16x16 player character and the 32x19 crown (that were already in the game), while still bringing some new interesting details to enhance the piece overall.






      What do you love most about modern pixel art?

      My favorite part about modern pixel art is all of the tools and tutorials available (although most of the time I just use GIMP, which isn't really geared toward pixel art at all). Another thing I enjoy about modern pixel art is that there are so many different styles that have emerged and matured. If I need inspiration, I can just go browse the internet for things other people have created.

      It's also nice to be doing pixel art as a design choice rather than being forced to out of a limitation of the game platform. Doing pixel art on more advanced computers has allowed people to do more complex and diverse things, allowing for this emergence and maturation of all the different pixel art styles.




      What are you working on right now?

      The True Slime King is still in Early Access, so I'm still working on it. Since I'm only working on the game part-time, I don't know how much longer it will be before full release. There's not too much more pixel art to do for the game; most of the tasks left have to do with programming or level design. Depending on how successful The True Slime King is, I might try to invest some of the money into making another game. Either way, I know I will be continuing to develop non-game software since that is more of where I want to take my career.



      This last year I've been having a lot of fun adding seasonal themed objects to the game:




      Anything else you want to add?

      Working in the game industry is a dream for so many people, which makes it a highly competitive field. Working for companies operating in these highly desired fields can often have a lot of drawbacks, such as long hours and low pay. Starting your own business in these fields can be even more challenging (but can also be very rewarding). While my personal goal is to make a reasonable amount of money with The True Slime King, I've primarily built the game to prove to myself that I could do it. No matter what the outcome is, I will be happy, but I don't think that would be the case for many people wanting to get into the game industry. Considering this, I have mixed feelings about recommending that people follow their dream of getting into the game industry.

      I think people shouldn't be blind in following their dreams; they need to be aware of the state of reality and really do their research (especially in starting your own business). That said, I think it is always an excellent idea to follow your interests, improve your skills, and increase your knowledge in your free time. Those things will be invaluable in really understanding where you want to go in life, and if the game industry is where you want to go, there can be a lot of rewarding aspects to the job. I personally really love the creativity of it all: dreaming up a world and bringing that world into existence as an interactive experience.




      Finally, and this is totally optional, but I love to include tips/tricks/tutorials. In some cases, people have tutorials they can already point to and share. In other cases, people will give a quick tip/best practice that works really well for them. If you have something that fits that, please share it along!

      My general design philosophy (which encompasses art design) is written out on this page:

      If I had to learn how to do pixel art all over again, I would find a style I liked and then try to replicate that. In The True Slime King, I use a lot of outlines to make all of the objects appear distinct from their environment and other objects. I always keep the outlines only 1 pixel in width.

      For art (and pixel art), my biggest recommendation is to learn lighting (and to use a consistent light direction when creating all your graphics). For me, having good shadows/highlights is pretty much all the difference between bad pixel art and good pixel art. I think this is something that just takes practice, but one of the quick tips I do have is to experiment with changing the color of the shadows/highlights. So for example, if your object is light blue, maybe try shifting the highlight color to be more greenish and try shifting the shadow color to be more dark blue or purplish. Below is an example of my process for making pixel art for The True Slime King.

      Start with the base shape and colors (don't worry if the colors seem to not be very good, you can always play with that later). Then add shadows and highlights depending on where your light source is (there are a lot of different ways to do highlights and shadows in pixel art; the way it's done below is just my preference). Once I get the basic shading and highlighting done, I'll go through and adjust colors as well as the brightness of highlights and darkness of shadows.





      In the game, this friendly-looking mushroom actually ended up being something that kills the player if they touch it. So at some point, I adjusted the design to help convey danger.