Tag Archives: Bizarre

Pimp My Portal Part 10: Return to Jersey

This series documents my adventures in ultra low-budget, grass roots marketing attempts to drive traffic to my game portal sites, with the hopes of breaking even at $33 a month. For other articles in the series, visit the Pimp My Portal special feature page.


•*´¨`*•.¸¸.•*´¨`*•.¸¸.•*´¨`*•.¸¸.•*´¨`*•

My last experience with a Fiverr seller from New Jersey had him supposedly driving the ZombieGameWorld.com logo around on his car for a week. i spotted another seller on Fiverr who vowed to shoot a “Jersey Shore-style testimonial”. i took a look at his sample video, and was impressed with his confidence, glasses, and hilarious accent:



i decided to buy this guy’s gig, which meant i’d have to write a ZGW-style script for him. i didn’t know much about Jersey Shore, except that it was a) popular with the kids and b) deplorable. i took a quick spin around YouTube and, after watching a few highlights, felt i had the show pretty much figured out.

Here’s the script i sent to the seller:

What’s up, everyone … it’s The Happenstance comin’ at you with a comPLAINT, for real. The zombie apocalypse is cramping my style. This shit’s gotta get SOLVED.

So i’m at the club, straight-up guido, you know – killin’ it – dancin’ all up on these two girls like them bitches like it, and the living dead come busting ass through the dance floor cuz some asshole forgot to barricade the back door. I was about to get with these bitches, and then these zombies tear their heads off and start eating their livers out of their bodies.

ZOMBIES BE UP IN MY SHIT, and I’m SICK of it. Go get a shovel, ima go get my hair gel, and we’re gonna kick these motherfuckin zombies in the TEETH, if they got any.

For real. We’re gonna kill it. Literally.

i can’t tell you how badly i wanted to hear this guy say “zombies be up in my shit”. Many Fiverr sellers will clarify in their gig description whether or not they’ll perform a script with profanity in it. This guy stayed mum, so i figured it was alright. What he delivered to me was not only profanity-free, but stripped of every single Jersey Shore nod i’d written into the script:



A Buyer Scorned

i asked the seller if he could do a re-shoot, because he was way off the script. i explained that profanity, the hair gel gag and the guido thing were all bits i’d gleaned from watching Jersey Shore clips. “The Happenstance” was a spoof of the Jersey Shore character “The Situation”. i said if the profanity or anything in the script bothered him, i’d gladly work with him to do a mutually acceptable re-write.

As with many other Fiverrers, i didn’t get a response. Once these guys get their five dollars (four dollars after Fiverr takes their cut), there’s no incentive to respond to a buyer. Best to just wait out the twelve days beyond which a buyer’s customer service complaint will be ignored.

I can't hear you otter

If you’re planning on working with people on Fiverr, my best tip is this: if the seller doesn’t deliver the goods to your satisfaction, request a redo. Give the seller a maximum of three days to respond, and then hit up customer service. The whole process favours Fiverr and the seller (except for the fact that it’s a measly five dollars). You need to get your claws out to keep from being bilked out of your money – even small amounts of it.

Blood from a Stone

Continuing along on this trend of milking the most value i possibly can out of these videos, i gave this one a long think. i decided that if it was truly a Jersey Shore-style video, it needed Jersey Shore-style profanity – otherwise, what’s the point? Was it a funny or entertaining video as-is? Not really.

So taking a tip from Jimmy Kimmel, i jazzed the clip up with a little unnecessary censorship:


NOW he’s killin’ it.

Down to Shiggity

My return to Jersey dented The World’s Most Meager Marketing Budget to the tune of another five bucks. Here’s the shopping list as it stands:

Original investment: $100

Spent:

* ZombieGameWorld tagline voiceover – $5
* Show Us Yer Bewbz! – $5
* Zombie Funk – $5
* Advertising on Some Dude’s Car – $5
* Zombie Self-Defense: American Version – $5
* Zombie Self-Defense: Russian Version – $5
* Zombies Attack the Jersey Shore – $5

Remaining: $65

Spielbergin’ It Up

With my Fiverr video experiment, i expected to be able to post the clips as-is with no need to doctor them. Things changed dramatically when i found i had to add animation and sound effects to make the movies halfway watchable. The next Fiverrer i contacted told me she could shoot in front of a green screen. Without considering how much work i was about to create for myself, i said “sure!” The resulting video is in the next post.

Pimp My Portal

Porn, In A Nutshell

i’ve been doing some spring cleaning on my laptop, and have come across a number of half-baked blog ideas. i thought i’d just throw this one up on the weekend. It has nothing really to do with Untold Entertainment’s bidness, but it’s good for a giggle.

The PenIs Mightiter

“Who writes the plot for porno movies?” Nobody cares. That’s an old joke anyway. People who produce pornography obviously put a lot of unnecessary energy into their “craft”. i’m more interested in the people who don’t work in porn, yet have to somehow dignify pornographer’s efforts within a more respectable framework.

To be more specific, i noticed in passing (in PASSING!) that the adult titles in the pay-per-view listings all had plot synopses written for them. Forget the guy who has to write the plots for porno (he’s also the lead cameraman, and the horny mechanic from Act III). i want to know what poor schlub working at Rogers head office has to write the SYNOPSES of those already paper-thin plots – and partciularly in cases where the movies have no plots. i mean, how do you summarize a movie that’s just an hour of straight-up porking?

Here’s a selection of adult movies and their synopses from Rogers Pay-Per-View. One interesting thing to note is that while the movie titles are completely crass, the synopses are as (needlessly) puritan as they possibly can be.

5 Raunchy Rock Tails

Groupies give rock stars a backstage pass to their bodies.

5 Horny Blondes

Fair-haired beauties (Monique Alexander, Alexis Malone, Gen Padova) entertain randy men.

A Train 4

Hardcore harlots ride the rails to backdoor ecstasy.

American Cream Pie 2

Gorgeous women prefer sexy threesomes.

An American in Prague

Wild men enjoy intimate moments.

Anally Yours … Love, Rebeca Linares

Hot young women crave carnal encounters.

Asian Beavers

Exotic harlots find plenty of wood to devour.

Ass Deep 2

Juicy strumpets (Sandra Romain, Trina Michaels, Isabel Ice) take the plunge through the backdoor.

Juicy strumpet

Hey – check out the sweater meat on THAT juicy strumpet!

Understanding Functions

There is a very short list of programming structures you have to learn to be reasonably comfortable in most modern object-oriented languages. Functions are one of them.

Bang on De Drum All Day

Here’s a secret about programmers: they are inherently lazy. The less typing a programmer can do, the better. Programming is all about dreaming up complex tasks that programmers don’t want to do, and delegating those tasks to a computer so that the programmer can blow off and watch cartoons the rest of the day.

Many programming structures are designed to make a programmer’s life easier. And a programming rule of thumb is generally that if you have to type something twice, there’s an opportunity to make your code more efficient.

Functions make your code more efficient. Let’s imagine a game where we need to create a bunch of monsters. If you’ve read Understanding Loops, you know that you can set up a loop to run an action multiple times. i’ll use a combination of pseudocode (in comments) and real code to demonstrate:

// Make 50 monsters.
var totalMonsters:int = 50;
var i:int = 0;
for(i=0; i<totalMonsters; i++)
{
    // make a monster
}

So far so good. But there are a few other things we have to do with these monsters we create. We need to put each one on a hill. Then we need to dress each monster up in a Power Hat. Next, we need to hide a key to each monster’s hilly domain. Let’s modify the loop:

// Make 50 monsters.
var totalMonsters:int = 50;
var i:int = 0;
for(i=0; i<totalMonsters; i++)
{
    // make a monster
    // put the monster on a hill
    // put a power hat on the monster
    // hide a key
}

Mmmm … we’re almost there. Now we need to create a portrait for that each monster and put it inside the castle, so that when the hero defeats a monster, the portrait gets a big checkmark on it. Then we need to create a magic gem that will kill each monster. Each gem needs to be buried somewhere underground. Finally, we need to create a villager for each monster in the game. Each villager will give you a clue as to where to find the monster-killing gem.

// Make 50 monsters.
var totalMonsters:int = 50;
var i:int = 0;
for(i=0; i<totalMonsters; i++)
{
    // make a monster
    // put the monster on a hill
    // put a power hat on the monster
    // hide a key
    // create a portrait
    // put the monster's face on the portrait
    // put the portrait inside the castle
    // create a gem
    // bury the gem underground
    // create a villager
    // give the villager a gem clue
}

Oh man. This loop is getting real ugly, real fast. There’s so much STUFF in there. It’s getting out of control.

If we take a close look, we see that we’re running a few tasks that can be grouped together. All the monster stuff goes together. All the key stuff goes together. The gem stuff goes together. The villager stuff goes together. That’s four separate bundles of tasks that, like a pile of sticks, we should be able to wrap up with twine in a tidy little package.

I Have a Tiny Little Package

That’s one of the things Functions do for us: they allow us to group related tasks together into a little package, and we can refer to that package over and over again without having to repeat any lines.

A Function declaration looks very much like a variable or array declaration. Instead of the var keyword, we use the function keyword. In ECMA-based languages like Actionscript 3, Unity javascript and C#, functions are followed by round brackets. Then you open up a statement block between curly brackets, just like in a For Loop or a conditional (If) statement:

function doSomething()
{
   // statements go here
}

Note: If you’re using Unity javascript, best practice is to begin a function name with a capital letter.

So doSomething is our function name. That’s a custom name that we came up with. It makes a lot of sense to use verbs (action words) when naming your functions. We’ll see why in a moment.

Let’s carve out the statements involving the monsters and put them in their own function:

function initMonsters()
{
    // make a monster
    // put the monster on a hill
    // put a power hat on the monster
}

(the “init” here is short for “initialize”, which means “set it up”)

Now, back in the loop, we can substitute those three statements with a Function call. A Function call always uses the name of the function, followed by round brackets, with a semi-colon to end the statement. Take a look:

// Make 50 monsters.
var totalMonsters:int = 50;
var i:int = 0;
for(i=0; i<totalMonsters; i++)
{
    initMonsters(); // We removed these three statements and put them in their own function.
    // Now, we just call the function.
 
    // hide a key
    // create a portrait
    // put the monster's face on the portrait
    // put the portrait inside the castle
    // create a gem
    // bury the gem underground
    // create a villager
    // give the villager a gem clue
}

In common programming parlance, this is called calling a Function.

To understand how a function call works, we need to put ourselves back in the role of our code interpreter, which is a lot like Pac Man.

Pac Man and functions

Pac Man hits the first statement in the loop. It’s a function call. So he jumps out of the loop to wherever the Function is declared, and chews through all of the statements in that Function. When he reaches the bottom of the Function, he bounces back to the loop again, and resumes chewing through code at the very next line.

This works very nicely. Now we can go through and offload all of our chunks of functionality into their own Functions. When we write it all up, i looks something like this:

// Make 50 monsters.
var totalMonsters:int = 50;
var i:int = 0;
for(i=0; i<totalMonsters; i++)
{
    initMonsters();
    initKeys();
    initPortraits();
    initGems();
    initVillagers();
}

Look how much easier to read that loop is now. It’s very clear that we loop 50 times, and each time we make some monsters, some keys, some portraits, some gems, and some villagers. The details for each process are buried in their respective functions. Now, when we look at the initKeys function, we only have to worry about tasks related to initializing those keys.

This bouncing around that the Pac Man-like code interpreter does is the reason why i say that Object Oriented Programming (OOP) is like taking multiple plane flights through time portals.

Pac Man Map

Pac to the Future

There are two more very important things to learn about functions: Arguments and Return Values. These are detailed in two additional articles. Once you read through those, you’ll know almost everything there is to know about Functions, and you’ll be ready to start putting that knowledge into practice by building your own stuff!

For more Flash AS3 Tutorials and a pile of other useful stuff, check out our Flash and Actionscript 911 feature.

Movember 2010

i’ve never (voluntarily) grown a beard or a moustache before. Puberty kind of imposed a weak ‘stache on me in my junior high days, and since i didn’t have a dad around to teach me how to shave my face, it kind of overstayed its welcome. Then later, in high school, i decided to try growing a beard, but one of the student council kids, Joey Testosterone, ribbed me about it mercilessly. i went home and shaved it off that very day.

A few years later, i landed a bit part in a community theatre production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Who’s That Guy in the Background Trying to Grow a Beard?. It looked as though i had once had a full beard, but was then tragically mauled by a mountain lion and patches of it had been eaten.

Flash forward to today. It’s the end of Movember, the month when dudes grow beards to raise awareness for Cancer of the Balls and Cancer of That Other Thing, and mens’ health in general. The folks at my church are holding a creative moustache growing competition tomorrow, and the prize is a pair of Leafs tickets. i couldn’t care a fig about hockey, but the moment someone says “creative competition”, i’m in, and i’m in deep.

The Foundation

A creative moustache growing competition is more of a creative moustache grooming competition if you think about it. To that end, i figured it would be wise to grow as much hair on my face as possible, without risking the townspeople loading up their shotguns with silver bullets. So i decided to lay some follicular groundwork – the raw slab of marble from which my masterpiece would be hewed.

Ryan Henson Creighton Movember 2010 Before

Before.

An hour later, with the help of my wife and resident manscaper, armed with scissors and a safety razor (NOT electric clippers, which would be like winning the Olympic 100-meter dash with a bionic leg), we gingerly chipped away at it until we got exactly the effect we were hoping for.

Ryan Henson Creighton Movember 2010 After

After.

i call it “The Blustery Day”.

December 1st is my birthday, at which point the moustache goes out and the presents come in (i am registered at Toys ‘R’ Us, in case you’re racking your brain trying to think of what to get me). It was an amusing adventure, and while the beard gave me a distinct confidence boost after the first two awkward weeks, it still felt like i was being stabbed in the face by thousands of microscopic men with tiny little spears. A face phalanx. A facelanx. i dunno. i’ll be glad to get rid of it, anyway.

The Results

For the entire month, Untold Entertainment’s team of one has raised exactly zero dollars in the name of mens’ health. We didn’t take donations. (It’s not too late to kick a couple of bucks over to people who did!) But consider this a promise that in future years, the Untold Entertainment team is one you want to get behind with your pledges, because we’re bringing our (hairy) game faces. An Untold Entertainment moustache is money well spent.

Join us next year. And in the mean time, make sure to give the boys a jiggle at least once a day to avoid Cancer of the Cajones (AKA Huevos Canceros). Or better yet, get your loving manscaper to do it for you.

Can’t get enough of moustaches? Check out our game-in-progress Putty Crime: On the Tail of the Foxy Badger, in which every single character (including the pigeons) have lip sweaters. Good show!

Further Reading:

Where Credit is Due

[this article was originally posted on MochiLand.com]

Credits are those long, scrolling pages of text at the end of the movie that you watch just to see if the filmmakers added a special jokey tack-on scene at the end of the flick. If you read closely, you’ll see that they are the names of people who worked on the movie, listed alongside their job titles. In film, there are credits for the big people – the executive producer, the director and the principal actors – all the way down to the little people – the sandwich grip, the second-line gaffer, and the assistant schloob.

Credits

The elusive and rarely-seen credit roll, photographed here in its natural environment.

If you look closely, you’ll begin to see credits everywhere. They’re tacked on to the beginning and end of teevee shows, they’re inside album liner notes, and they pop up at the end of your favourite home console or computer video games. But the one place you won’t find them is in online free-to-play Flash games – partly because Flash game developers decide not to put them there, and partly because developers are actively blocked from adding credits to their games by corporations with selfish interests.

Flashsploitation

More than just being a token kind gesture recognizing the hard work and effort people put into an entertainment product, for mature industries like film, television and music, credits are actually a key cog in the machine. The CVs and resumes of performers and technicians rely on the credits system; often, your ability to land future jobs is based on the credits you’ve amassed on earlier projects. Because of this, there are unions and guilds strictly guiding the practice of giving credit, in order to protect entertainment professionals from exploitation.

Nunsploitation

It’s equally important to protect entertainment professionals from nunsploitation.

The Flash game ecosystem is notorious for being packed with non-professionals, but we boast our fair share of pros. Many game developers do what’s called “service work” to pay their bills. A company will approach a known game developer, and will contract him to build a Flash game to certain specifications. My own company, Untold Entertainment Inc., is just such a developer. We survive on service work, largely building Flash games and Flash websites for clients like kids’ television production companies. If a prodco has a teevee show, especially if it’s targeted towards kids, they’ll also want someone to build them a web game to help promote and extend their brand. Companies like Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, and Disney regularly contract Flash game developers to build their arsenal of online games.

Disney

Disney. i’m posting their logo because i have a death wish.

If you wanted to find out which developers built these games though, you’re largely out of luck. Try fishing through the games on the sites i mentioned and look for production credits – even a single logo of the developer who built the game. With a few rare exceptions, you’ll come up empty-handed, game after game. Before founding Untold Entertainment, i worked at a media conglomerate serving a number of kids’ teevee stations. Throughout my time there, i made over fifty games. i was not credited for a single one.

Keep it Secret, Keep It Safe

Once out in the “real world”, i began to actively ask my clients for credits in the games i produced for them – a logo, at the very least. Credit is one way to boost morale and mutual respect among your developers, and beyond that – it just seems RIGHT, you know? When teevee and film are crediting their most important people down to the very guy who tapes the pylons to the road, it just didn’t seem right that the team or individual who created the entire game wouldn’t be recognized. And having my logo feature in the game somewhere could be a compelling driver for future business. All a prospective client need do is cruise through Cartoon Network’s site, for example, see my logo, and call me up with a contract offer.

Bananaphone

With any luck, they’ll call me on the bananaphone.

Aye – there’s the rub. That’s exactly the situation that a client like Disney or Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon wants to avoid. They don’t want anyone else contracting out “their” developers. More competition for developers means that the devs will be more highly paid, and it may be more difficult for them to get their games made if the best devs are in higher demand.

No Promo

The second excuse i hear for not allowing credit is that these companies don’t want to let on that they didn’t do all the work themselves. There’s this strange macho corporate pride in pretending that all of their interactive work was done in-house – or at least, that’s the excuse they all give me. But a quick look through the credits of any special effects-laden film, for example, shows that individual effects shots are farmed out to numerous different special effects houses. This serves the special effects team in two ways: they can say they worked on Blockbuster 2: the Awesoming, and prospective clients can see their name in the credits, which both increases their brand recognition, and enables clients to contract them for new work.

Explosion

The Awesoming is two and a half hours of explosions, nudity, and Hasselhoff.

But surely, a Flash game developer can at least SAY he worked on a given project, right? Actually, no. Many of these clients specify in the contract language that the game developer cannot even say he worked on the game. That means no screenshots on his site, and no link to the game. The developer must disavow any knowledge that the project ever happened, Mission: Impossible style. On one of my contracts, the client forbade me from ever mentioning i worked on the project. This became a sticking point, and when i fought for the right to promote, the client struck a bizarre bargain: i could promote my involvement in the project anywhere but online. Of course, the web is the only place i ever promote my work with Untold Entertainment.

It Doesn’t Ad Up

You could argue that the work we Flash game developers do for these companies amounts to advertising. Creating a game to promote The Family Guy or the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse shows is tantamount to creating an interactive advertisement online. And since teevee commercial spots don’t credit their creators, games promoting shows don’t need to either.

This argument falls down for two reasons: for one, there’s really no room in a teevee spot to credit the creators, but there’s plenty of room in Flash games, as they’re not temporally limited to 30 seconds. On the second count, advertising agencies promote their work all the time. Visit any agency website, and you’ll see the logos for the brands they’ve repped displayed proudly and prominently on the main page. Many sites actually do list credits for the commercials they created. Industry awards like the Clios list teevee commercial and print ad credits in full on their websites.

2010 Clio Award Winner

The 2010 Grand Clio Award winner

Credits are important. They serve as proof that a developer completed the work he said he did. They help to increase a developer’s brand awareness, and they help new clients reach Flash game developers that they otherwise may not have known about. Clients who refuse to credit developers, and who actively block developers from promoting the work are preventing the industry from maturing in the name of their own selfish interests.

Resistance by Insistence

So what’s to be done? When I started hearing from new clients that they wanted to use me instead of my more well-known competitor, i asked what he’d done to lose their business. Their answer? “He started getting pushy about credit.” Asking for credit, or even demanding credit that is rightly due to us as developers, is apparently hazardous to your health. It can harm your business. It may even be possible to land new contracts simply by forfeiting your game credit. Clients really seem to go for that type of thing.

But you know what i say? Screw that. The solution is for ALL Flash game developers to demand the credit they are due on ALL projects. Even if you’re not in this fee-for-service racket, you should add a Credits link to the main page of your Flash game as a matter of course. You need to create a logo and preface your own game with it – or simply use your own name (e.x. “A game by Ryan Henson Creighton”) Build your personal brand so that if clients come calling, you’ll have established a credit expectation in all of your games.

If ALL Flash games have a credits page (just as ALL teevee shows, movies, album liner notes, gallery installations, operas, stage plays, and nearly every other mature form of artistic expression or entertainment already has), then it will be simply unspeakable for a client to ask that you remove your name from the game. You can also support the IGDA in their efforts to create a Credit Standards guide, and point your clients to that guide during contract negotiations. For our part, Untold Entertainment now requires credit and promotion rights on all of our contracts – otherwise, we simply don’t take the job. If we as developers band together and demand recognition for our creative efforts as they do in so many other entertainment industries, together we can drag online games kicking and screaming from adolescence to adulthood.

Credits: this article was written by Ryan Henson Creighton, assistant schloob.