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I make cartoons and voices. I've put a lot of stuff on Youtube and Newgrounds

Saturday, December 31, 2011

What Happened To Ace Pilot?

It has been a very long time since I made a blog post. I'll say right now that the month of December has been an incredibly intense one. Good and bad, but more importantly. Intense.
A section of a live-action movie style rendition of Ace Pilot poster made by RJ Palmer

Finishing Ace [Ace Pilot], that beast of a project, was a big deal. My end heavily involved directing the cutscenes of the game, and coordinating the team of four in the final stage of that process. We have Brian Sadler as the composer of the soundtrack who lives in Japan. JP Neufeld, the sound designer who is based in Montreal Canada. Nathanial Milburn, in charge of the after effects based in Atlanta, GA. Atlanta also including Justin Pruitt (co director) and Josh Sole (programmer). Thankfully Carlos Ubillus, making the CGI ships and cutscene background art, was my room mate in San Francisco.

Point is, I had to live in like 3 time zones at once, basically stay awake for an entire week of crunch time on the project. I had to do all of this before my family trip to Spain, because I wouldn't have access to the computer with flash and such until I returned January 7th. Also, we were initially planning on releasing before the year 2011 ended. But after showing Tom Fulp the game and discussing stuff, we figured it'd be more practical to release it early Feb. Being that he sponsored some awesome games coming out December, and January.

In the end I think it's much better off releasing the game later. On top of the reasons just explained, we have more time to test and honestly we've been getting great feedback and are making the game better and better!

Technical notes aside. I'm gonna go on a personal tangent here. Well, not really tangent, this is something I've love to talk about in this post.

Ace in his true cartoony form
Basically, Ace was a very ambitious idea from the get-go. We placed the bar pretty high for ourselves and it was a tough experience. I learned a lot of things. The first is just that. I learned to realize how important it is to learn. Not only do you get something good out of hard times by learning, but in order to learn, you need to keep an open mind and a decent attitude. I am immensely happy and relieved at how this project turned out. I have indeed experienced working on a dream project of mine and boy was it exciting. But what I am most satisfied with is how we have grown and improved as a team.

One thing I learned a lot about is communication. Me and Justin Pruitt (the co-director and writer of Ace Pilot) are very different people when it comes to communication style, but we share very similar appreciations. This was awesome in the writing process, our strength was how our differences complimented each other to provide a very well-rounded mindset creatively. However that was also our struggle throughout the productive process at first.

Like any process, there were difficulties. Many of them I might add. One of the major ones was communication. I will admit now that I can be a very intense person. Intense is putting it lightly. This causes stress and stress equals 'not thinking clearly'. And all that snowballs into bigger problems. It's just inefficient and stupid. Something that's essential is confronting issues. My over communication is just as inefficient as a lack of communication. And in working in a project, especially one like this one where we are spread out all over the world.

Every step we take in the project took double the time it would if we were together in one studio. There's a lot more extra steps when working online like this. This stresses further how important good communication is. In that process, I felt Justin was having trouble with something. We eventually talked about what was going on. He said, this being his first game at this scale made him feel like he had to prove himself as a game designer, leading him to over think every decision he made, naturally causing him to get stressed. In discussing the problem at hand we came to a conclusion. Which I think is one of the most important thing every creative person should always keep in mind.

We can't be purists, if we are, what we put out will not be pure.

What do I mean by this? Well, Justin told me he felt like he was marrying himself to his own ideals and that was effecting what Ace needed to have in order for it to be a great game. Every idea, thought, or inspiration starts with a feeling. And for you to effectively carry it out, that feeling needs to be very personal to you, obviously. But when it comes to putting it together, after you have passed the main stage of defining, you basically need to throw your personal standards out the window. You need to see your project with its own identity and be adaptable to it. That way, you'll know what it really needs to be better and reach it's full potential rather than butchering it with probably inapplicable and unnecessary personal limitations. I was very happy to figure this out with justin. When everyone on the team sees it that way, no egos will clash and we can be incredibly effective.

Working a lot on fleshing out and developing an idea helped us create a defined world and clear characters. Then, having that open mind and fresh perspective in the process of putting it together allowed the story and characters to almost write themselves.

Not only did we get to experience that, but our teams matured and evolved. Even though I slept 10 hours in my last week and the game took a year to make, and so many other nightmarish steps in the process... I am looking forward to making part two, telling the story of Ace Pilot, and continue to learn and grow with this great team more than ever.

Throughout the month of January, we'll be releasing the game's epic soundtrack on iTunes by Brian Sadler. I'll be printing promotional posters and spreading them all over different cities. I might give out some custom tank men figures for some competitions preparing for the release of "Ace Pilot Episode 1: Infinity Drifter"

It's been a crazy but great year. Thanks for following my new blog, and I hope you guys have an awesome end of the world in 2012!

Some ideas for promotional posters I'll print and spread around a handful of major city streets.
01/01/2012 EDIT:
The soundtrack is available to buy now! Click the links below for your consumer preference:

iTunes Amazon Zune Rhapsody

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