What Sorcery is This?!

Happy Holidays, everyone!   

Sorry for the lack of updates through November - I've been nose to the grindstone over here and sometimes it's hard to remember to come up for air. Before we get to the new stuff, let's talk about release since we're about to head into the new year.

To be frank, the game isn't finished yet, which is as big a downer for me as I'm sure it is for you. I was hoping to be close to wrapping the project up by this time, with mostly sound, music, and quality assurance work left and well underway. I'm not quite there, mostly because I feel that what I have isn't the game I want to play yet. When this game launches it needs to be well worth your time to play through! Sorry to be a bit of a broken record, and thanks so much for your patience and support!

On the other hand, what I do have is coming along great! Over the past year, I have essentially been building myself a toybox full of cool action figures and set pieces at my disposal. It's a relief (and very gratifying) to be able to pick and choose from an array of neat looking stuff and build out interesting little rooms and levels. I have learned that this is also one of the most challenging parts of the process - to produce interesting and playable levels that don't get boring, and keep the experience fresh from start to finish. The map maker and designer in me is having an absolute ball throwing all of this together, while the obnoxious art-coward in me is throwing a fit at the challenge. The map maker part is totally kicking the coward's butt, last I checked ;)

As a small example, here's what the old pre-alpha starting dungeon looked like:

And here it is again after a pass using some of the new art assets and props to populate the scene:

It feels a lot more alive and a bit more "real" (as real as a low resolution pixel art scene can feel, anyway, ha!). 

So, New Stuff! 

Here's a sampling of the new area, Blackfen, in the works:

An example of the new visual props I've cooked up:

New Boss!  

This particular character has definitely been the most challenging to create thus far. He does a lot of things that I'm not used to - flying around, shooting magic, teleporting, etc... From a raw engineering perspective (and an art one), it's been a real battle trying to get it right - but I think I've finally nailed down something I am very satisfied with.

Here is a graphic representing his most basic finite-state machine loops (horrible graphics tablet handwriting and all!):

Some character fluff - because!

He was called Gizmotin - a sorcerer from from an ancient civilization who reached too far into esoteric wizardry, flinging his body across time and space into the Beyond, a realm composed of madness, nightmares and raw psychic energies. He has spent so long away from the physical plane that the sum of years comprising his absence are trivial. He has since re-materialized in the world of Lor where his body and mind are broken and in a constant state of flux. Bits and pieces of his ego phase in and out of reality, quadrants of his psyche are constantly fragmenting and reshuffling, existing in several places at once. His sojourn has made him alien, mad, and even more dangerous.  

With him he brings things strange and vile; creatures that devour, break and bury anything not of their own.

My gif software doesn't like the game's framerate, so Gizmotin's teleporting animation looks strange here

My gif software doesn't like the game's framerate, so Gizmotin's teleporting animation looks strange here

Trailer Update!

The super talented Christine Carstairs of Escaping Westlawn sent me some composite shots of the Savage "TV commercial" she's been working on - Behold!

I'm hiding behind the 'table', holding the sword up in place :)

I'm hiding behind the 'table', holding the sword up in place :)

To see the full update including a sample video, go here: http://www.escapingwestlawn.com/savage-the-shard-of-gosen-commercial-preview/


When time allows, I've also been cranking out some in-game music, as well as music for the trailer.


This is the full version of the track, "Sei-Thahn", featured in the recent teaser:

Here's a mashup of different versions of the Savage theme, "Hymn of Doom", that will go in the final trailer:

So that's all for now - again, sorry for the delay everyone. I can't tell you how grateful I am for your patience and support - it means everything! It will be super worth it once your game ships!  

The Happiest Holidays to you and yours!


The Room(s)

Since the last update, I've been in mega content-grind. What I have been focusing on for the most part is rooms. Rooms and rooms and rooms and ROOMS! All the pieces that will make up randomly generated encounters and mini-stages (including dungeons and caves).

One of the challenges presented with these "sections" is that they all need to match up - ground levels and ceiling levels need to be on the same coordinates from screen to screen, so the player's character doesn't get "stuck" in a solid during a room transition. This is all handled during the stage randomization, right before the area is loaded. Rooms are tagged with a base coordinate, so that the algorithm knows which batch of rooms it can choose from... like a giant grab bag of rooms stamped with a number, all shuffled and mixed up, and then slotted into a randomly chosen sequence.

Another thorn in my side has sadly come from Game Maker: Studio's room creator/editor. Doing so many of these, I started to get really worn out - the user interface is a bit challenging to work within, especially quickly! BUT - I found an alternative in a piece of software called Tiled.

Tiled is freakin' awesome! It has (just about) everything I have been craving that's missing from GM:S's room editor - fill commands, randomizers, line tools, buttery smooth UI interactions - it's seriously good stuff. It has cut my room production time waaay down - I am able to crank out a room in a quarter of the time it was taking me in GM:S! This is especially handy since each room needs to be "skinned" several times over with location and biome specific tilesets. Highlands need to look like highlands, swamps need mud and vines, mountains need snow and tons of rocks - you get the idea.


If you're interested in checking out Tiled, you can grab it here: http://www.mapeditor.org/

There's also this brilliant little program created by someone named Pasty on the GM:S community forums that will convert your Tiled files to .gmx files (asset files used by GM:S) which can be enthusiastically enjoyed here: http://gmc.yoyogames.com/index.php?showtopic=583235

These two programs have made my life about a billion times easier - yay!!

I've also been cranking out all of the remaining environment art that still needs doing. Things like props, varied backgrounds, climbable bits, and so on.

Here are some composite test shots with some of the background and parallax scrolling assets:

One last thing for anyone interested in project organization and the like - My good friend Tim (of Boss101 and Donley Time Foundation) introduced me to Cloudforge and TortoiseSVN. You see, GM:S had recently kinda melted on me (MY FAULT!)- Savage WOULD NOT compile! The last week has been quite the nightmare, pulling my hair out trying to figure out what the heck was going on.

I had been going about managing my backups very stupidly - creating a brand new project file every time I pumped out a new iteration, with titles like "Savage - the Shard of Gosen_a 7-27-2015". Somewhere, somehow, GM:S's streams got crossed and assets were overwritten or deleted. Trying to compile resulted in GM:S not being able to find things like sprites, backgrounds, rooms, or whatever, and causing it to crash when I would try to compile the game for testing.

I ultimately managed to fix things by digging around in a backup's asset directories, and overwriting my working directory's asset folders.

What TortoiseSVN and Cloudforge allow me to do, is have this sort of live project folder that keeps track of EVERY change I make every time I choose to update to the repository created on Cloudforge. If I need to, I can delete my entire project file locally, and grab a previous build from the repository, while also monitoring every single modification made to the project! BRILLIANT!

Things like this have slowed me down somewhat, but I am in a much better (and more stress-free) position to plow ahead.

There's still a lot to do, but the game is getting beefier and more exciting all the time - it's become a ton of fun to run around the worldmap and see what sorts of stages are generated when you run into a baddie or a dungeon!

Talk to you soon, and thanks for the support!

New Stuff, Old Stuff

Took me long enough. Anyway, yeah, it's right over here:  




That is pretty much what has been taking up a good 16 hours of my day - nose deep in UI/Inventory systems code and coming SO CLOSE to a working state! Er... the Inventory system, that is, not the game itself, unfortunately. I do want to be finished, or pretty darn near at the end of this year, but we will see what happens. 

There has been a lot of traffic here lately, and I just wanted to extend a big 'THANK YOU' (big = caps)  and a sincere 'welcome!' to any new visitors (and returning) and let all a' ya know what exactly is going on here.

What is going on here? I ask myself that daily - and although I never really seem to arrive at any self-satisfying conclusion, mayhaps (<== spell check doesn't like this, >:]  ) I can provide you with one! ... Maybe.  

I have been pouring most of my time into the aforementioned Savage - a game I've been developing off and on (more like tearing down and destroying, building back up, repeat) for the last 3 years. As a result, I haven't been putting any time into my Comic over the past month/two months... but it is definitely something I want to get back to. And will get back to, on occasion. The comic started as an experiment with the daily-gag formula, mostly to see whether I had the chops/liked the format enough to do something like that long-term. A couple years later, I'm still not entirely sure, ha!! But I do dig a few of the characters, so I'm sure some other iteration of it will rear its ugly head eventually - however dissimilar to the original it might be. 

So there you have it! A very vague-ish, murky report on my goings on here with a series of magic 8 ball 'perhaps'es and 'too soon to tell's.  One thing I know for sure: I like making comics. I like working on video games. Expect more of both.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you didn' hurt yourself too badly during your visit. Band-aids (or, adhesive strips) at the door.

Love,  Matt


Where Was I Again?

I just did a fool thing (but what else is new?): So  - I had this amazing, meticulously conceived, well rounded and (possibly) award winning blog I've spent all morning laboring over... and I accidentally deleted it. And the world is way worse off because of it, I tell you... Honest! Or, better, maybe. It's a matter of perspective (probably).

Oh well! here's kind of  what I was going to sort of say before my mouse up and decided to listen to some stupid impulse my hand suggested: We're in our new place! We made it out of the fire and landed in a much better living situation, a cleaner complex and an apartment that smells like a bunch of new stuff! Because it is. New, I mean. We've had our little Amazon shopping spree (thanks, insurance money!), received all of it and we're feeling a lot happier and more comfortable.

July has definitely kicked my ass. So much has happened: There was the fire on the 4th, and... well, that's pretty much it, but hot (heh) damn, what a loaded event! Each day after within those first two weeks felt like a whole month of their own. We are so lucky and blessed and have had so much help from so many wonderful people I can't even begin to compose another weighty run-on sentence like this! Actually I probably could, but I won't (for now). I can see the trail of red tape behind us and we're making tracks.

Here's what my shiny new "office" looked like about a week ago: 



Not demons, not deadites, not Ted Raimi in a giant, sweaty latex suit can bring old Ash (I will spare you any more fire-related jokes on that one) down - Hail to the king, baby. And thank god for buying crap on the internet. Without all that packaging material, I would not have been able to construct that luxuriant designer desk you see pictured above. I have a future in carpentry. 

I feel like I have about a bajillion (or some other equally absurd and hilarious fake number) hours of sleep to catch up on. Like that's going to happen.  I have too much to do, and I'm too excited to not do it. I think that came out right. More comics to do, a game to release this year, a shiny new podcast to do with my buddy Gabe (ya know:  that brave soul who braves the under-dark of the film industry to bring you outrageous/disturbing/funny reviews of such classics as (The) Legend of Sorrow Creek, and Killjoy, all that and more RIGHT HERE ) and... other stuff I haven't thought of yet or forgot to mention.

Anyway, I'm going to go try to fight through the aftermath of a Benadryl coma. Thanks for reading and stay flame retardant!


The Roof is (No Longer) On Fire

The Roof is (No Longer) On Fire

Indeed - it's more like... caved in, or collapsed. Verily - what used to be our apartment now looks like what happens to a tiny village hamlet when the denizens make the local dragon angry. The roof (what's left of it) looks like it was raked by giant talons, the interior mostly buried in debris, insulation, ceiling and ash. It's difficult to describe the picture that still comes to mind when I think about our apartment -

Read More

The Roof Is On Fire

And it really was yesterday morning! What a crazy way to start a 4th of July holiday - opening up the front door at 6 a.m. to a wall of very angry and very real flames. Our apartment is pretty much destroyed with most of our belongings. No one was hurt or killed in the fire, but there are a lot of (something like 50?) other residents who shared the building with us that are kind of left scratching their heads and wondering where their new homes are going to be. It's been a pretty crazy day today, and the fire feels like it happened such a long time ago, as opposed to just yesterday. Lots of trying to get a hold of property management - lots of talking to our insurance provider - lots of not sleeping, ha!  

It's a pretty surreal situation, and we don't really know what's coming, so needless to say, updates on the ol' Planet Tobor are going to be a little thin in the coming weeks... at least until we find some new digs.  

We are so grateful to all the awesome firefighters who were braving the blazing inferno that was our place of residence, and the amazing folks at the Red Cross that showed up on the scene, providing everyone with comfort and information on what to do and where to go next. 

I'll keep you guys posted on the goings on here as often as I can. Thanks for reading/listening/watching, and there is lots more to come!  





First off, for you awesome handful of fine folks who keep visiting the site despite my appaling delinquent lack of updates - Thank You So Much!! 

The site is not dead (though, perhaps on life support for the past, what, 7 months?? Yikes), but is definitely, finally, going through a bit of a transition.

Planet Tobor started out as something entirely different from what it's become, and I can't help but feeling like I need to shed some skin and start the process of replacing it with a newer, shinier, more personal coat. That said, I'll be moving some things around, redesigning and moving to a new domain name: www.grinningmonster.com, which is already associated with planettobor.com.

The Planet Tobor comic strip will remain intact and see a lot more love soon, thanks to me finally getting (relatively) comfortable with the development of Savage. The game is one thing that has been moving along full speed ahead and I'm excited to finally post some progress on it in the form of some videos and new screen caps.

More updates to come, and thanks for sticking around!


So, our computers here have been suffering from a strange case of WTF I CAN'T EVEN DO ANYTHING ON THE &*@#* DESKTOP syndrome. Stupid, stupid viruses. I swear, this sumbitch is dug in deeper than an Alabama tick. Or something. I seem to be cracking it's disgusting membrane open and I've regained some semblence of control over my wife's laptop, but it still feels like an uphill battle. A big part of me wouldn't mind taking that dark and dangerous road up the scary volcano and casting into the flames from whence it came...

Anyway, in much better news, some of my music is featured in this episode of Gridlock TV; a show for cycle, car, generally anything that goes vroom gearheads.  The show is put together by my very talented buddy Eddy Montiel of Compadre Productions - watch the badassery at work:

There is also a shiny new animated intro in the works for the above show being stitched together by yours truly. More updates to come!

I ain't got time to bleed,





It has been way too long since I updated this site and for that I feel nothing but shame! Thanks to all you readers/viewers who keep coming in to check the comics and the pages out - that means a ton to me and I shall hence forth strive to keep this an entertaining (and frequently updated) place to visit.

I'm in the process of wishy-washy-ing back and forth with whether or not I want to choose a different hosting service and giving the site a face lift, so I apologize for any haywire behavior you might be experiencing here.

Work on Savage is going nicely - I've been pumping a lot of 20 hour days into the project ever since I finished animating the music video for the talented guys at Texas Microphone Massacre. If you haven't seen it yet you can check it out here.

The Spellbook (by super awesome Escaping Westlawn Productions), a short film I lent my goofy acting abilities to will be available for viewing soon. The director, crew and the cast were all awesome and super talented people! I'll post a link for it here when it's available for those who are into demonically posessed toys and sorcerous evils (who isn't?).

Escaping Westlawn Reel:

Two awesome fellows who worked on The Spellbook (and also comprise PointShootRecord) also threw together a production for the Austin 48 Hour Film challenge and asked me to be a part of it - I excitedly and happily accepted. The link for that film should be up sometime soon, too. 

PointShootRecord reel:


Computers. I mean, wow, man.


Feeling Animated

I've been slaving over a hot stove for the past couple of months and... wait - smell that? Freshly baked animated music video?? I'll get the butter!


The animated project I've been working on for the awesomely talented Texas Microphone Massacre is complete and available for viewing! The premiere at Elysium in Austin was a lot of fun and the band rocked the audience's proverbial socks off - thanks for coming if you made it out and if not, do not fret, the video can be viewed right here.


We will resume our regularly scheduled programming soon - thanks for all the patience and enjoy the video!



... Not to be confused with anime-hem, which is or is not something I just made up. Whew - now that that's cleared up I wanted to take a moment to talk about the animated short I'm working on.

It is a music video. A cartoon animated music video for Texas Microphone Massacre's upcoming single, "In Your Dreams". Give them a listen - great tunes and I am so excited to be working with these guys!

The video will premiere at Elysium, in Austin TX on July 21st, so if you're in the area mark your calendar and come check it out!

On a more nitty gritty note, work on the video is going well despite an artform I'm not too terribly familiar with. But, babysteps toward the elevator...

Challenging, rewarding and interesting. Eadweard Muybridge was right - moving pictures are neat!


P.S. More comics coming soon!


We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Program

I sincerely apologize for the lack of a real update today, but I wanted to take a moment to alert everyone to the fact that the next couple of weeks are going to be pretty quiet as far as the comic is concerned. I was recently commissioned to do a short animated project and that's going to take up quite a chunk of time - but the strip will be back to the five day a week update once the project is well underway/finished.

Thanks for reading and I'll have more strips coming very soon!


New Art... And Stuff

I thought I'd throw a little mention up on here about getting rid of the RSS feeds littering this site... in that I have smote them down upon the mountain side (most of them). Having so many on here seemed a bit cumbersome to me, so I decided to leave just the one sort of catch all feed in the form of the News feed. I think.

I don't know - all this web/computation machine mumbo jumbo gives me a rage induced headache the size of a bantha! So, here's a pretty new picture I made between strips (no pun intended) that's part of a concept piece for a project I've been wanting to get off the ground for some time.


(No, it's nothing raunchy despite what the scantily non-clothed magic wielding harlot in the illustration might suggest)

But with Savage in the works, Warpaint on the back burner and Planet Tobor kicked into a 5 time a week update schedule, I might not see this project for some time. That's ok! Being too busy is a good problem to have, right? ... Unless that causes me to miss out on too many of my kid's little league games or school plays.

But I don't have a kid. Problem solved!


Oops. But No Longer!

First (completely unrelated to 'Oops'), Planet Tobor is switching to a Monday through Friday update schedule. 5 days a week you'll get a brand new page! Now, onto the oops:

It seems like there were some dead links and images not displaying for a handful of pages in the Planet Tobor comics as well as some pages numbered with goofy inaccuracy. Fixed! I'm sure there are still some dead links floating around the site after the redesign, so I'll try to get to those as well. I guess I was putting a bit to much faith in the Force and went and switched off my targeting computer.

And what's with Gray Skies not getting updated this or last week? Gray Skies is getting it's own shiny new website, that's what! Along with the launch of a new Gray Skies site, Eric is also going to be launching his own hub site to house all his awesome artwork and creations. He's a very crafty man.

Details forthcoming forthwithly!


We Can Make You Stronger

Maybe not faster, but certainly better looking. Arguably, at least. Or at the very least give you something you can argue about. I don't know - excuse the minutia(e).

I have another update for the Planet Tobor Comic - and yes, yes I know; What happened to Nocturnal Transmissions, you ask? Somebody? Please ask? It's the same thing! Me and my wishy washy ways have decided to go back to just calling the comic Planet Tobor because I liked it better. But from now on, you have my word, Planet Tobor will remain just that - Planet Tobor... the comic.

I thought it was appropriate to rename the comic (again) in light of the shiny new site overhaul I did last night. Let me know what you think of the new layout - if it rocks, blows, just sits there, or whatever.

And hopefully I can wrap my head around a better navigation for the comics pages in the coming days.

Until then, live long and prosper.


She (he) Dreams In Monochrome

Slowly but surely, I'm gaining some ground on the color front.

Please excuse the wonky navigation. Our scientists are hard at work devising a new system that will (maybe) knock your pragmatic socks off!

Meanwhile, I'll be turning toward a piece of software that just maybe has diverted my addiction from Taleworld's black tar heroine of a game, Mount and Blade.

Two Worlds.

I know! It's badness is practically legend... for those who only stuck with it for about fifteen minutes. I was guilty of the same moments after I snatched it off the digital shelves at GOG.com. I found the presentation down right insulting, and listening to that dialogue had me squirming uncomfortably in my already butt-numbing-ly uncomfortable computer chair. Like when you're watching the A-Team, or some similar show, and somebody says something goofy at the end and protagonists A and B have a hearty chuckle at protagonist C's antics. Freeze frame. Totally embarrassing stuff.

Seriously, it's like they paid the voice actors a pool of 5 dollars to lay a sprawling minefield of "Forsooth"s, "Aye verily"s and Mayhaps"es across the span of the game.

Despite all that, somehow, somewhere, the magic kicks in. Once you get past the janky animation, horrible pre-rendered cutscenes and laughable (yet somehow not completely cringe worthy) ren fair voice overs there is a good and vast game in there. I promise. Or I'm a blue assed knave's unle.

Aye, forsooth.