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Topics - AdamAtomic
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I just finished writing the rough draft for a blog article on Gamasutra by that title:

1 - From beginners (at either freelancing or hiring): was anything confusing or unclear?  Anything you would like to know more about?

2 - From veterans (at either freelancing or hiring): did I get anything just plain wrong?  Any subjects I missed that are particularly important?

Thanks ahead of time!

General Discussion / Gravity Hook!
« on: September 06, 2008, 01:40:32 am »
Hey guys, I'm basically gonna copy-paste my post from TIGForums because I spent a long time writing it and it says everything I want to say and hear, so...yeah, here it is!

Move the mouse to highlight "nodes".
Click to grapple onto a node.
If you run into an active node you die.
Press 'X' to quit the game, and register your hi score (if you made it into the top 10)


I had a few days space in my schedule, so I made a remake of a cool prototype that Arne made a while back called "Gravity Key."  In Gravity Key you used the keyboard keys to climb to the top of the level by "grappling" using a gravity function.  Because it uses gravity, the closer you get to a node, the faster you go.  However (IMO this is the crowning touch in Arne's design) if you get TOO close to the DIE.

It was a really great mechanic, but having to use the keyboard made it....difficult.  So with Arne's permission I made my own gravity grapple game, only powered by mouse clickan.

It's pretty much finished at this point, I just need to get Arne to put up a proper page for Gravity Key that I can link to, reset the high scores so Ptoing no longer dominates 7 out of the top 10 spots :P, and make the md5 key for high score submission a little harder to guess.

I made Gravity Hook using my Flixel framework for AS3 (coming soon!), the Flex Builder plugin for Eclipse, Photoshop 7, Pro Motion 5, SFXR, and Audacity.  Total dev time was around 5 days I think.

I had two goals for this project.  One was to make a skill-based game a la Thrustburst, where there was no lock-and-key progress, just becoming more badass via experience.

The other was to make something that was intentionally and I hope evocatively abstract.  I have been thinking a lot about the games I played and loved when I was younger, and I think the fact that they were FORCED to be abstract by low-powered hardware had a huge impact on me, and what I got out of the experience of playing a game back then is very, very different from what I get out of most new games.  I always loved how Super Metroid told the important part of the story with the title screen graphic, and HATED how Metroid Prime let you scan anything you want just to stuff the screen full of bullshit nobody cares about.

I think Cave Story is a notable recent exception, as is Fez to some extent, and Rescue the Beagles, and Knytt too.  I don't know that I succeeded in the way that those games did, but I tried to only put in things that would trigger the player's imagination, rather than prescribe or overly detail things for them.  This is a new approach for me but it feels more honest or pure or something than force-feeding MY story and MY characters down the player's throat.


Challenges & Activities / Mockup Frenzy #8: Megaman!
« on: August 18, 2008, 07:07:02 pm »
From user QuickSilva, a.k.a. Jason, a new Mockup Frenzy activity!

Mockup Frenzy #8 : Megaman!

Were you excited by the announcement of a new Megaman game but equally dissapointed by Capcom's decision to take the graphics all the way back to the beginning of the series? Well now is your chance to show them how Megaman 9 should have looked! Your task is to create your very own boss character, one complete tileset and set of enemies to populate your stage using the limitations of the original NES (See NES specs below.)

Start Date

Monday 18th August 2008

Monday 1st September 2008

No rips or edits please. All entries must be 100% your own work apart from the possible inclusion of the main Megaman sprite.

NES colors, resolution and restrictions.
(Kindly supplied by AdamAtomic :) )

And finally some samples to get you started. These are from Megaman 6 and show just how far Capcom had come with the series graphics towards the end.

For extra inspiration take a look at some real Megaman levels and sprites from the following sites.

Lastly, a sample boss avatar. Please make sure that your boss avatar fits inside this template.

All that is left to say now is to have fun and enjoy the challenge :)


Alex Hanson-White, floatvoid, floatvoid:

gamingjustin, huZba, joe123:

Lord Ash, mice, mice:

mice, moket, Mt:

Mt, Pietepiet, ptoing:

QuickSilva, QuickSilva, QuickSilva:

rdcarvallo, rdcarvallo, Red Mist:

Rosse, Rosse, Rosse:

Ryona, Tobe, vierbit:

Zccc, Zccc, Zccc:


Finally, we had a bunch of submissions that weren't full-on mockups but still get at the heart of the activity:

Sorry for the INSANELY LATE COLLATING AND UPLOADING!  Happy holidays, pixelators  :D

Challenges & Activities / Mockup Frenzy #7: Cinematendo!
« on: February 28, 2008, 12:00:24 am »
Mockup Frenzy #7: Cinematendo!

Colors & Resolution:

Theme: NES Games Based On Movies
Start Day: February 27th, 2008
Deadline: March 15th, 2008
Notes:  Mockup Frenzy returns!  Sorry for all the delays, it was a crazy couple of months.  I hope you all stored up some serious mockup-making energy!!  The NES had perhaps the finest film-licensed games of all time, including Batman, The Terminator, The Goonies, Fist of the North Star, and (stretching here) TV shows like The Addams Family and Darkwing Duck:

Your mission is to create your own NES mockup of a game based on a movie.  If you're dying to do a TV show instead...that's ok too.  As usual, the color restrictions here are a little wonky, feel free to stretch them a little if it means creating a piece of art you're really happy with!  Just make sure you work at the right resolution :)

Is this your first Mockup Frenzy?  Why not check out the rules & results from Mockup Frenzy #1: Mobility!, Mockup Frenzy #2: Ninjas!, Mockup Frenzy #3: GB Demakes!, Mockup Frenzy #4: Invasion!, and Mockup Frenzy #5: Horrorween!, and Mockup Frenzy #6: Musical Inspiration!


Ben2theEdge, infinity+1, johnnyspade:

johnnyspade, L___E___T, L___E___T:

L___E___T, Lackey, schu:

schu, snake, Teknogames:

vedsten, xenobond:

Sorry for the INSANELY LATE COLLATING AND UPLOADING!  Happy holidays, pixelators  :D

Challenges & Activities / Mockup Frenzy #6: Musical Inspiration!
« on: November 16, 2007, 06:26:07 pm »
Mockup Frenzy #6: Musical Inspiration!

Resolution: 240x160
Colors: Up to 32
Theme: Games Inspired By Music
Start Day: November 16th, 2007
Deadline: November 30th, 2007
Notes:  This will be the last Mockup Frenzy of the year, as Secret Santa will be starting again very soon, so let's see some badass mockups!!  Your mockup should be inspired by a specific song this time.  I recommend pop songs as they will be the most familiar to a majority of the forum members, and therefore the most fun, but you are welcome to do classical, metal, jazz, whatever floats your boat.  Just find a song that inspires you and make your mockup based on that!  For example, the banner was inspired by Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Pt 2, and you can also check out Adarias's "What's the Frequency Kenneth?" mockup for more ideas.  Finally, there is no set palette for this, just use whatever colors you want!

Is this your first Mockup Frenzy?  Why not check out the rules & results from Mockup Frenzy #1: Mobility!, Mockup Frenzy #2: Ninjas!, Mockup Frenzy #3: GB Demakes!, Mockup Frenzy #4: Invasion!, and Mockup Frenzy #5: Horrorween!


griffy6, Jad, Larwick, Lawrence:

locust, mice, surt, Xeno-Striker:

Sorry for the INSANELY LATE COLLATING AND UPLOADING!  Happy holidays, pixelators  :D

General Discussion / New Feature: Employer Reviews!
« on: October 23, 2007, 01:54:54 pm »
I've had it up for a week or so now, but it's not getting a lot of views, probably because it is over in the Employment forum :P  So I thought I would post a notification about it here.  In an effort to continue to improve our Employment forum, I have created an Employer Reviews thread.  You can check it out here:

It is my hope that this will become a useful resource for the community and as I get more reviews will start to provide a pretty objective picture of our industry!  Toward that end I urge anyone with professional working experience to check out the thread and to PM me about your own work experiences so that I can beef up that thread some more.  Thanks!

I am also open to suggestions for the feature, though it will likely not undergo any major changes at this point in time.  However, if there is something you would like to see changed or added please post it here; I don't want to miss a chance to make it the best resource possible!

Challenges & Activities / Mockup Frenzy #5: Horrorween!
« on: October 16, 2007, 12:47:48 am »
Mockup Frenzy #5: Horrorween!

Resolution: 160x146
Colors: Up to 32
Theme: Horror
Start Day: October 15th, 2007
Deadline: October 31st, 2007
Notes:  Halloween is coming up, so MF5 is all about horror!  160x146 is the itsy-bitsy screen size on the Sega Game Gear, which had a lot of horror...err horrible games, at the very least.  For extra credit, which is worth nothing, pick your 32 colors from a palette of 4,4,4.  This means each of the RGB values is between 0 and 15, instead of 0 and 255!  Good luck!

Is this your first Mockup Frenzy?  Why not check out the rules & results from Mockup Frenzy #1: Mobility!, Mockup Frenzy #2: Ninjas!, Mockup Frenzy #3: GB Demakes!, and Mockup Frenzy #4: Invasion!


mice, faktablad, atum, arachne:

infinity+1, atum, bengoshia, griffy6:

MaDsk8tard, Rebel-CD32, VisMaior, Darien:

Great job everybody!

« on: October 04, 2007, 06:58:43 pm »
The Employer Reviews Thread

This thread is a collection of anonymous, verified accounts of work experiences with pixel-art-oriented companies around the world.  Pixelation's moderators and administrators personally review and research every submission before posting it to this thread.  The goal of this thread is not to provide cut-and-dried "ratings" or "approval" of the companies or organizations featured, but to enable our users to make more informed decisions, and to increase the quality of connections made in our Employment Forum.  Many industries provide resources like this, but to my knowledge none exists for pixel artists.

If you would like to submit a review, please PM Indigo, and it will be added to this thread.
However, we do have some simple guidelines that will determine what reviews are presented here:

  • Proper spelling and grammar are of paramount importance!
  • This is not a gossip column.  Please provide information, not opinions.
  • Do not feel the need to compare the company you are reviewing to other companies. Readers will gather the information themselves and make well-informed choices on their own.
  • Reviews will be posted anonymously.  Please avoid blatantly identifying yourself!

Employers: If I have incorrectly named/identified your organization, or inappropriately summarized your primary activities/platforms, please notify me ASAP!

Finally, I would like to steadfastly and vehemently impress upon any organizations or employers featured here that the following content in no way representative of the opinions or ideas of the Pixelation moderation and administration staff.  While we do serve as editors for this content, we do not OWN it, and we are NOT the authors.


5th Cell Media [Mobile & Nintendo DS]:
  • "Excellent developer with great dedication toward original franchises."

Battle Phase Games [Casual PC]:
  • "Really nice to work with. Pretty nice rates. Very prompt payement. Open to new artists. Explanation sometimes a bit vague, but compensated for with loads of artistic freedom."

Capricom Mobile (Luke Miller) [Mobile]:
  • "Initially I was offered roughly half of a minimal hourly wage suggested here on Pix. I was able to easily negotiate a fair price, tho. The money was ALWAYS late, usually several weeks, at times even months. Most of the time I wouldn't get my money untill another project came up.  They were routinely unavailable on chat or via email when were in 'payment' phase. Of course, this wasn't the case when they were expecting me to deliver pixels.  Very tight deadlines for mockups, poor management on GD game that resulted in having to completely redo significant portions.  After my work on the last project was done, money was constantly being promised, but delayed, and this went on for months.  This eventually culminated in Luke Miller lowering my already agreed-upon freelance rate for these 80 hours worth of work. I agreed to this, fearing that otherwise I'd never see my money, and sure enough I got it pretty soon. This was a year ago. The game came out recently (published by Glu), and my name is not in the credits."

Cellufun [Mobile]:
  • "The work itself could have been fun and challenging but the sheer volume of sprites demanded is not reflected in the price they are willing to pay. Negotiations are unproductive and discussions over timescales and cost are seldom answered.  The deadlines are unrealistic and the restraints imposed through unprofessional attitudes only adds to the negative sides of working for this client.  If you are prepared to work for less than $1 per sprite, and draw somewhere in the region of 700-1000 sprites in a week then this could be the right client for you."

EA Mobile [Mobile Games]:
  • "Great people, interesting assignments, lots of creative freedom, but contracts/payment is a mess.  A fantastic team if you don't mind hounding people for your money."
  • "The rates are quite good, but the paperwork and invoice process is very slow and convoluted.  NDAs, contracts, specially formatted invoices, low level of communication between departments, etc etc.  EA works mostly with licenses and existing franchises, so you may find yourself with some arbitrary limitations imposed on your work by suits at both EA and the license holder.  Art direction ranges from inspired to utterly confusing.  In the end I was pretty happy with the pay and the quality of work I was able to do for them."

FLARB [Mobile Games]:
  • "Enthusiastic leadership, lots of creative control.  Bad but prompt pay.  Recommended for talented beginners with fair knowledge of mockups, HUD/menu layouts."

FTMobile [Mobile Games]:
  • "Disappointing experience.  Leadership was poorly informed, pay was bad, negotiation problems, major mid-project spec changes, insistence on poor design ideas hampered final product.  Feedback was slow and vague."

Gameloft NYC [Mobile Games]:
  • "Expect ubiquitous management issues: remote decisions, language barrier, infrequent/brusque/sometimes misleading feedback, high turnover, low starting salary. Artists work under the game designers, who are often new to the industry (English majors, etc.). Projects often require indexed photographs and concept art. Limited/no creative freedom. The benefits are satisfactory (health and dental) and New York City has its own appeal."

glu [Mobile Games]:
  • "I worked one short job for them, as they rarely/never use contractors, but the feedback was rapid and informed.  Pay was very good, but took 6-8 weeks to arrive."
  • "Working freelance for them is more of a one time chance thing as they seem to rely more on their on-site crew. The projects they work with are fun and usually spiced with Kenneth Fejer all over them graphically. Payment is good, but not as fast as you would wish."

Heavy Cat Studios [Various]:
  • "Pay is uncertain, and the pay is around rates for beginners. Leadership is uninformed and I have been asked to replicate a style which uses non-pixel art tools. Due to how the studio is structured, expect to be working in the dark; you will not be able to see how your sprites and tiles are used in practice. On the other hand, they are very lax when it comes to expectations of the quality of your work or anyone else's work. Whether this is good or bad depends on your ideal level of professionalism."

Helixe [Nintendo DS]:
  • "Very professional shop, offered decent amount of freedom per animation."

Id Software Mobile [Mobile Games]:
  • "Pay very random and generally low, but reliable pay. Half the team are interns and there is a very high turn over rate. Vague and almost always negative feedback - even on the finished artwork. Management makes many unprofessional remarks about personal topics and employees (This is separate from the main Id Software). Problematic features are insisted upon despite protests from the whole team. The only good things were the people on the team (who were really awesome) and project itself. A good way to get your foot in the door if you donít mind being an intern for a year. The work is an odd combination of pixel art and traditional art."

Jet Set Games [iPhone]:
  • "The art director was helpful, friendly, and professional. Payment was three months late, requiring several dunning actions to extract. Approach with caution."

MaxArtists [Mobile Games] (now defunct?):
  • "Steady work, easy to work with management. Paid well."
  • "They went bankrupt many years ago and many people did not get their paychecks, including me."

MGA [Toys & Games]:
  • "Paid incredibly well, nice to work with and very open to suggestions."

Pretty Good Games [Casual PC Games]:
  • "Lots of creative control, decent & prompt payment, feedback was sometimes a little vague.  Recommended for artists with good grasp of other mediums, not just pixel art."

Pronto Games [Mobile Games]:
  • "Very receptive to new talent, willing to give fresh artists a foot in the door."

Q8IsMobile [Mobile Games]:
  • "Best company (a two-man or so team) I worked for. I only revamped some graphics for their first game. Provided very detailed design documents  which made making graphics very simple. Great communication, okay money and paid quickly."

Requiem Software Labs [Hiptop/Sidekick Games & Applications]:
  • "I am currently working on my fifth freelance game project with them, and it has been a very positive experience.  The rates are OK, but they pay very promptly.  The supervision is excellent, and you generally have a lot of creative flexibility.  Some jobs do include simple asset resizing, but they only support a limited number of platforms, which lightens the load a bit.  Recommended for mid-level artists who have good foundations and creative drive."

Two Tribes [Mobile & Nintendo DS]:
  • "Nice bunch of folks, very easy to work with."

WayForward Technologies [Nintendo DS]:
  • "Excellent company. Good pay and offers a lot of creative freedom to artists."
  • "Working with them has been a fantastic experience. Nice staff, great and prompt pay, and usually they offer quite a lot of creative flexibility."

Vblank Entertainment [PC, PS, Switch, 3DS]:
  • "Assignments involve matching a fun art style!
    Client is generally not picky about the end work.
    Expect low estimates for tasks. Time is allotted for execution but not design, so you may have to negotiate the hours you bill.
    Several times the client ghosted me for 1-2 months each, leaving unexplained tasks and unpaid invoices. This quirk can certainly create frustrating situations for the freelancer who doesn't have a cushion of savings or additional clients."

Challenges & Activities / Mockup Frenzy #4: Invasion!
« on: October 01, 2007, 05:23:08 am »
Mockup Frenzy #4: Invasion!

Resolution: 224x144 (or 144x224)
Colors: Arne's 16-color Palette

Theme: Invasion!
Start Day: October 1st, 2007
Deadline: October 15th, 2007
Notes:  Click here to read about the development of Arne's palette, and to see some great little mockups by Arne and Tomas.  224x144 is the resolution used by a little-known portable console called the Wonderswan Color.  However, I have no idea what the specs are for that machine, nor do I care!  As for the're free to interpret it however you choose...I am looking forward to seeing some creative interpretations this time 'round!!  Ah, .TakaM has just informed us that the screen was frequently used portrait-style, so 144x224 mockups are happily welcomed as well.  Good luck!

Is this your first Mockup Frenzy?  Why not check out the rules & results from Mockup Frenzy #1: Mobility!, Mockup Frenzy #2: Ninjas!, and Mockup Frenzy #3: GB Demakes!


Souly, ptoing, madsk8tard:

Pixelfish, Skull, arachne:

Adarias, jonkk, helm, kindred, mice:

Great job everybody!  Sorry about the whole "no banner" thing...I will definitely have one for MF5!!

Challenges & Activities / Mockup Frenzy #3: Game Boy De-Makes!
« on: September 17, 2007, 07:47:48 pm »
Mockup Frenzy #3: Game Boy De-Makes!

Resolution: 160x144
Colors: 4 (see images below for examples)
Theme: De-Makes
Start Day: September 17th, 2007
Deadline: September 30th, 2007
Notes: To sum up, de-makes are the inverse of the "next-gen" game update.  Take a new game, and roll it back to an older piece of hardware.  Only we're going to be rolling it WAY back; all the way to the original Game Boy!  Goldeneye 2D is a perfect example, and the inspiration for this theme!  To help you get started, I've included a few choice screens from the better-looking GB games of the past.  Feel free to use any of the palettes in these images, or invent your own 4 color monochrome ramp!

(Castlevania II, Spiderman 3, Tiny Toons, Trip World, Universal Soldier)

You're welcome to follow the strict Game Boy spec, but it is not a requirement for this competition.  The basic specs for the system are as follows:
  • 2-bit color (black, dark grey, light grey, white)
  • 8x8 tiles
  • 8x8, 8x16 and 16x8 sprites
  • 1 4-color bg palette
  • 2 3-color sprite palettes (that must choose from same 4 colors as the bg)
  • Background tiles each get a foreground/background flag
  • No more than 10 sprites per scanline on the raster

Is this your first Mockup Frenzy?  Why not check out the rules & results from Mockup Frenzy #1: Mobility! and Mockup Frenzy #2: Ninjas!


Lackey, Lackey, Lackey, AlienQuark, AlienQuark:

CroM, Helm, HMC, Radek Smektala, Ego:

.TakaM, .TakaM, KhrisMUC, KAT, infinity+1:

am_pm, Judas, Judas, Judas, telecommtubbie:

Arachne, vpk, Arne, mattness, opacus:

Quicksilva, Greenwing, D.W., D.W., D.W.:

Doppleganger, pkmays, Jad, kite, KAT:

KAT, robotriot, baccaman21, MaDsk8tard:

Arachne, Arachne, Rydin, Schu, Schu:

QuickSilva, Bouzolf:


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