Not Goodbye ~ It’s “See You Later!”

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Bill Watterson’s final Calvin and Hobbes strip – This says it all perfectly about the end of my Blue Frog experience!

I thought it would be a good idea to officially post a “See You Later” article, marking the end of my time at Blue Frog Gaming (this Bill Watterson strip is SOOO fitting, above)!

It sure is nice when you are able to part ways in a friendly manner, no feelings hurt – merely a professional situation!

My whole time at Blue Frog I have reminded myself daily to enjoy the ride. Starting this blog was part of that. SO glad I started this blog – it’s a wonderful place for me to look back and remember my experiences – I only wish I would have posted more about the little stuff!

There are times of my life I have known were transient (sometimes unsure) like having my own apartment to myself, having babies – then toddlers – then youngsters – then (aaack!)… and the different jobs I’ve had in my life. I make sure I enjoy the ride while I’m experiencing it, and I learn from every one of those experiences.

What did I learn at Blue Frog Gaming?

I learned what it feels like to work for a company you really care about, and what it feels like to be respected by the employers you work for too (not just the managers… the EMPLOYERS… the people who actually pay your salary). That was a new experience for me, and a very special one.

I also learned how to make Blue Frog cupcakes (self taught). 🙂 Going back to the days when I used to bake was quite refreshing to me! And I got a kick out of how humorously stereotypical I was being – the sole female employee bringing in a batch o cupcakes! Hey, I am who I am!  🙂

I learned a great deal of new tricks of the trade, getting familiar with CS5 (thank goodness) and falling in love with the line width tool (I GOTTA get CS5 at home!! I miss that tool like CRAZY!!). And I learned how to animate in both Photoshop and Flash! Oh yeah – that’s a huge career boost right there!

I learned once again what it’s like working with all guys (I hadn’t experienced that since my Kamans Art Shoppes days, learning to do caricature). It really is pretty cool. “Feelings” are simply a non-issue. Less anxiety, really. I did miss the one other girl who worked there as an intern, Liz. Easier to ask another girl out to lunch than one of the guys. And if I ran out of feminine products, I had nobody to whisper HELP to – thank goodness for the receptionist in the company across the building (LIFE SAVER)! Unfortunately the guys did have to deal a bit with my own PMS-ness (endless apologies to Jeff, and to my good buddy Ron for witnessing me come into the office in tears a couple times)!

So with any transition, of course there is difficulty, but more than anything, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the experience at Blue Frog (new friends, new experiences) and tremendous HOPE for my future.

So… Time to go exploring!!!


BFG Office Moving!

I know this only affects us who work here at BFG, but I thought I should post about this momentous occasion (well, it’s a big deal to me, anyway). This is the first office move I’ve experienced at BFG since I’ve been here. I’ve moved my desk once or twice, but never the whole office! I’ve had a nice cozy little office and have enjoyed that, but it will definitely be different in the new space.

I remember at American Greetings it would take almost a whole day just to move from cubicle to cubicle (SO much paperwork!). But this place is pretty paper-free (except for my layout pads). So I’m guessing the move should go pretty smoothly as long as we don’t dent any computers en route!

We’ll be moving into downtown Akron.

I will miss the trees outside my window, the convenient shopping nearby, and the convenient parking spots.

I will NOT miss stepping over goose poop on the walking paths and having to scrape snow off my car in the winter (we’ve got a parking garage at the new place).

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Our new space – under construction.


Blue Froggies

2013-12-03 16.47.13Just thought I’d share some doodles I made, getting the “cute” out of my system.

The circular one is based on my Blue Frog Cupcakes I haven’t baked in a while.

Would be fun to make a little animation of this guy catching a fly and then belching, mouth WAY open. Yeah right – in my “spare” time.


My Favorite Animated Building for Darkfire Galaxies – Crystal Mine

Concept sketches for Crystal Mine by David Sladek

Concept sketches for Crystal Mine by David Sladek

Currently revisiting the buildings for Darkfire at BFG, and I thought I should highlight my favorite building here in my blog. I should begin by stating that this building was not my original concept. The building was originally concepted by my coworker, David Sladek. I remember his initial sketches for the building and could automatically sense the energy of the building. I remember saying out loud at one point, “If I ever have to ANIMATE this building… just shoot me!”

Well, months later… Yep. Uh huh.

The initial animation was completed already for this building, and implemented in the game (the one that is now used as the sporadic active animation). But it was SO busy, we needed an idle animation created for it… one that wouldn’t look so busy as a constant animation. Most of the other idle building animations (which I also worked on) were simply blinking or moving lights, small moving areas, or glowing effects. But this Crystal Mine was not a static building. I knew right away what the idle animation should look like for the Crystal Mine. I had the idea it should look as if the building is “breathing” – that’s how I described it to my art director. I knew the only way to make people understand what I meant by a “breathing building” was to just do it.

So basically the entire building was spliced up into pieces and animated. I used Photoshop, just as my coworkers had done for the previous animations, and it worked very well. The tricky part was making the animation look smooth using the least amount of frames possible, using VERY subtle movements. I also had to be sure the elements around the building matched up with the movement as well (suspended wires).

In the end I’m very happy with how it looks in the game, and feel happy I was able to contribute to my favorite building’s appearance in the game.

You can check out the Darkfire Galaxies game HERE.

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Left to right: Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3, and Stage 4 of the Crystal Mine.


Designing the New Advisor Character for NEW Starfleet Game ~ Hired Guns

It’s always fun to design a new character. The only hard thing is that I can get attached to my character too early.

That’s when I rely on my art director, Eric Browning, to step in and remind me what best fits the flavor of the game. There are a couple characters who I developed before the final design.

shifty evolutionI first thought this character was my guy! I nicknamed him “Sneaky Pete” – he personified “SNEAKY” to me. Sly and slippery. But the character was too elongated to work within the allowed space in the game. He had to fit inside a square box shape. And this just wasn’t going to work well. So I had to let Sneaky Pete go, and try to think of a sly-looking character that wasn’t elongated… this was tricky, because most “sly” characters in cartoon land are often characterized as tall and lanky figures. Hmm…

So I had to think, what is the feature that best characterized the “sly” look?

Of course, it was the eyes.

So I began sketching characters that were rounder/squatter in shape that would fit comfortably into a box frame.

I love this character

I love this character

I started to fall in love prematurely with this little guy. He didn’t last long enough on my sketch pad to develop a nickname, but I really loved this little guy. He seemed like a character that would be a good advisor type – kind of like a humorous sidekick character. But unfortunately I knew he wasn’t quite the best fit for the game. He was a little too cartoony, and didn’t look like a character that could be taken seriously.

So back to the drawing board.

Screen shot 2013-11-13 at 3.06.37 PMThat’s when I created my “Jabba-inspired” character. Jabba certainly had those sly eyes – shifty. I started sketching squatty-looking characters with big Jabba-eyes, and finally settled on this character. He had to look somewhat friendly, so I enjoyed playing with his body language a bit to create some different poses. It definitely helped to get to know my character better.

So there’s a little back-story on the development of this advisor character. It sure was a journey.

The game hasn’t launched yet – but is coming soon!


Teeny Tiny Territory Icons for NEW Starfleet Game ~ Hired Guns!

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Territories are a huge new feature for the new Starfleet game from Blue Frog Gaming: Hired Guns.

So I thought it would be fun to share the process of designing the little icons for the territories that are shown in the game.

The challenge for this project was that the icons needed to look good at a large and teeny-tiny size. By teeny-tiny, I mean these icons would be as small as the moon icons you see on the home page of the original Starfleet game.

Like, smaller than the speck of dust in Horton Hears a Who!

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating.

But not by much.

Yeah, that can be tricky. How do you design something that looks recognizable at a teensy size, yet doesn’t look boring at the larger size? I started by brainstorming a few different directions for these icons.

IDEA ONE: Create graphic icons for the territories that illustrate the features of each territory.

IDEA TWO: Create actual territory illustrations to look like man-constructed space ports. This seemed like a cool idea, and I was hoping it would work, but in the end it was just not working at the teeny size. Oh, well.

IDEA THREE: Illustrate different colored and shaped asteroid-like territories. I had the idea that they could look like they had been altered with some man made structure attached. Not a bad idea, but in the end, they just looked like different shaped space poops.

Obviously, the graphic icons won over as the best option.

The game is launching very soon now, and I’ll keep posting up to launch day!