Sunday, April 7, 2013

Miiverse Art - A Bumpy Ride

Annnnd... back to the frivolity of the Miiverse. :)

Another note about GDC, I had to keep my Miiverse enthusiasm in check as I made my way across Nintendo's booth in the Expo Hall and saw the brand new Luigi community on display there. If I had more time, maybe I would have posted something there right on the show floor, heh. As it is, I haven't really had a chance to draw anything new in Miiverse since early March, I believe. I've just been too busy getting ready for, then subsequently attending GDC, and now I'm trying to play catch up at both of my jobs. Soon, though, I hope. Fortunately, I still have lots of older Miiverse art to post!

Let us go back to late November, when Mario and Luigi hitched a ride on a giant Wiggler to make their way through a lake of toxic soda. Good times. Back to the stylized mini Mario and Luigi for this one. I had a lot of fun drawing Wiggler here. :)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

On Questionable Parties and the State of the IGDA

So, I've just returned from GDC and feel the need to weigh in on things from my little corner of the internet. It was a great trip overall--I learned a lot and got to catch up with some old friends and make some new ones. But for those keeping up with GDC news, you may have heard some controversy surrounding this year's IGDA party, and this and the events that followed did cast a bit of a shadow over what was otherwise a pretty awesome week.

To sum things up, the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) annually sponsors a party for its members out at a big industry event such as GDC or E3. This year, the IGDA co-sponsored its party with YetiZen, a company which may now be best known for pissing people off with its inclusion of topless women at its party at last year's GDC (which the IGDA was not involved with). While this year's party did not include topless women, they did hire somewhat scantily clad models to mingle with the guests, which goes against the inclusive mission of the IGDA and the new GDC Code of Conduct, which is supposed to extend to "all conference venues and conference-related social events." While the party was organized by YetiZen, the IGDA supposedly approved the presence and costumes of the models, though it appears that what YetiZen showed the IGDA leadership for approval and what actually appeared at the party may not have been exactly the same thing.

Because of the IGDA's involvement with this, a number of long-time IGDA members pulled out of the organization, including Brenda Romero, who was co-chair of the IGDA Women in Games SIG, and Darius Kazemi, who was just shy of the end of his term as board member. The membership in general has become split over whether the IGDA has lost its usefulness in its mission of advocacy or whether it needs the individuals most frustrated with its failures to become more involved in order to prevent this from happening in the future and improve this aspect of the organization.

So, my thoughts. I'll start by saying that I have been a member of the IGDA for over a decade now. I'm fortunate to be a part of a very active and supportive chapter of the organization (go Philly!). I've been to a number of their parties over the years, and I've met some really cool people there. The quality of these parties has varied, however. I'll be the first to say that I'm not much of a "party person." In my experience, loud music and sexually-biased "entertainment" don't seem conducive to professional networking. When the IGDA had more say in the organization of these events, usually my only complaint was that there just weren't enough places to sit. I have pretty fond memories of the parties at E3 2006 and GDC 2007 and a few other events. Networking games with free drinks as prizes? Hell yeah! In 2011 and 2012, they included a section of the party devoted to people sitting down and playing board games together, which was absolutely fantastic for the more introverted among us and the people who wanted to get away from the loud music and dancing.

I can't give you my detailed thoughts on this year's event, however, because I couldn't even get in the door. We had RSVPed. We waited in line for a half hour or so before being turned away since the venue had reached its capacity, and no one else would be allowed in (unless they were a VIP), even if others were to leave the building. Note that this was at least 3-4 hours before the party was scheduled to end, if not longer, and there were a ton of people still waiting to get in. That was definitely a first for me. We went back to our hotel and went to bed. Maybe that was for the best.

The party was Tuesday night. The only thing I really heard about it on Wednesday was a couple of friends telling me that it kind of sucked. The shit didn't really seem to hit the fan until Thursday, when the backlash really started (in response to a Forbes article that was published on Wednesday). I saw pictures of the costumes online, and are they "offensive"? I don't know if it that's the word I would use. From the pictures I saw, the costumes seemed somewhat "tame" compared to some of the other shit that goes on at industry events. Were they inappropriate? Yes. Not just the costumes, but the presence of hired models in general. Why would they be necessary? Note that the models were only female and no male models were present. What does that say about who this event is catering to? What does that say to the many female IGDA members who want to have a good time and network without feeling objectified? And I can't speak for any men, but I'd think that someone feeling that you need to have someone paid to talk to you at a party is a little insulting. There may be a time and place where hired models paid to mingle with party guests is appropriate, but is sure as hell isn't a professional networking event at an industry conference. Fuck that.

The IGDA annual meeting on Thursday definitely had an air of tension about it. An apology was issued right away, but people wanted answers. In the latter half of the meeting, the membership demanded it. The answer was that due to lack of funds and the original sponsor backing out, the only group willing to sponsor at the last minute was YetiZen, so it was that or no party at all. The membership often cited the IGDA party at GDC as one of the main perks of membership, so there was pressure to deliver despite reservations. YetiZen allegedly promised to abide by the GDC Code of Conduct before IGDA agreed to partner with them.

The CEO of YetiZen later issued her response to the controversy, clearing up some of the misconceptions that had been flying around the media, but still claiming to not see a problem with the situation in the first place. Gotta love the line: "We hired avid gamers, who happened to be models, to discuss gaming with the invited guests." Oh, they just happened to be models? What a coincidence! Because, you know, where, at a party held at a conference that is attended by tens of thousands of game developers, would you find anyone to discuss games with the guests? What fucking bullshit.

While I understand the pressure that IGDA leadership was under, I have to say I'm in the camp of preferring no party at all to one that does not cater to the core values of the organization. I mean, it's GDC--there's no lack of after-hour events to attend. And I'm saddened by the resignation of some of the IGDA membership, though I understand their reasons. I can definitely see how Brenda Romero in particular would feel that this was the only choice that made sense based on her ongoing battle with female representation at industry events. Prominent resignations have also fueled the media attention this has received, which brings the discussion to a larger audience than those attending the show.

But where does this leave the IGDA? The main problem with prominent voices leaving the organization, is that it just continues to weaken it. Some seem to believe that the IGDA is losing relevance in realm of advocacy, but as someone who attended GDC this year, I can tell you that the new Advocacy Track at GDC, which involved a partnership with the IGDA, was one of my favorite parts of the show, and the content it invited was some of the best I've seen in years. Does that excuse the decisions made in regard to the party? No, and I'd like to see someone held accountable for that. But I definitely don't think it's a reason to burn the entire organization to the ground, especially at a time when we're seeing some promising new blood come into its leadership roles. But I think we all need to take this event as a wake-up call... to both the leadership and the membership as a whole. The IGDA is a volunteer organization, and it's up to all of us to fight for the changes we want to see within the organization and the industry. The leadership needs to listen to the concerns of their members, and members need to vocalize their concerns to the leadership. We get nowhere by being passive. If something's broken, we need to find out how to fix it. If things aren't getting done, we need to lend a hand. If people find that they're better equipped to fight the good fight outside of the organization, then that's fine, and I support them in their efforts. But we have an existing infrastructure here that we can continue to build upon and improve, and I'd like to see that happen. We can take this mess and turn it into a call to action.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Miiverse Art - Looking the Wrong Way

The Van Gogh-inspired background in Painted Swampland makes for one of the prettiest levels in the game. While I wouldn't exactly say this Miivers sketch looks too much like Van Gogh's work, I did want to go for something a bit looser and sketchier to better fit the feel of the level. Boos are pretty simple to draw, but a lot of fun, and we were frequently finding ourselves surrounded by them. :)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Miiverse Art - The Delicious Dead

I figured this might be a good one to post with this week's release of Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon. I imagine that Luigi is a big fan of the ghost-eating Yellow Baby Yoshis. :)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Miiverse Art - Giant Goombas and Secret Exits

As I'm sure you can tell by the simplicity of these pictures, I was a bit eager to get back to playing the game during this particular session. Still, I didn't want to skip over the option to draw entirely. I was a big fan of the Giant Land in Super Mario Bros. 3 and was really happy to see the giant enemies and environments make a comeback, if only briefly. For Bridge over Poisoned Waters, I wanted to leave other players a tip for finding the secret exit... without giving it away completely.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Miiverse Art - Surrounded

I believe this is the second picture I tried in the style of the Haunted Shipwreck post. This was a pretty neat level that had just the right level of tension to keep us on our toes along with a memorable starring enemy that made for a nice composition. I think at the time I drew this, it was my most popular Miiverse picture, as well. I think this was also the first picture with a Mario enemy I'd never drawn before attempting a Miiverse drawing of it. Dragoneel has a fun design!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Miiverse Art - An Exercise in Futility

One of the advantages of playing NSMBU with two people is that it gives you the freedom to jump to your death multiple times without necessarily having to start over from the beginning of the stage or last checkpoint. This is useful when searching for hidden Star Coins and secret exits. At some point, though, common sense is supposed to kick in where you realize you're probably not supposed to be able to make that jump without a Flying Squirrel Suit.

Many lives were lost, Yoshis were sacrificed, and flying Cheep Cheeps picked at our bones victoriously. We eventually made it to the pipe, sure, but I'm pretty sure we made it a lot harder than it needed to be.

After finishing this level, I wasn't in much of a drawing mood (as you can probably tell from the simplicity of the image), but I felt this was an epic failure that needed to be documented.