Experienced Real VR For First Time & It Was a Blast

2CE38099-5F70-48B3-A1C4-A931088034F7Virtual Reality is something that has been a long time coming. It was around in concept form since the 90s or earlier, particularly in sci-fi film but the 90s had the early machines showcasing stereoscopic 3D in gaming form. However, the technology never caught on and was forgotten basically until a couple of years ago when the Oculus Rift started making headlines as it secured an acquisition and funding from social media giant Facebook.

This meant that for the first time the technology was being taken seriously and serious money was at play to make it a success. This news followed competitors also emerging on the scene in the form of Valve-backed HTC Vive and Playstation VR — maybe the most interesting and promising of them all as it is affordable and an at-home console solution not reliant upon expensive gaming PCs and high-end graphic cards.

Well to fast forward a few hears of development and mixed results in terms of adoption rates (there is a paid report available here showing the growth and trends in this industry), we are basically at a point where the Oculus Rift is still dominating and is the biggest name in this space while a number of other companies are competing with their own headsets. I previously mentioned the Playstation VR having in my opinion the greatest adoption potential due to its console and living room experience, however in terms of overall tech I think the all-room VR experience of HTC Vive has the greatest immersion potential and technological advantage right now.

41418E19-587A-41FA-AF1A-973A757AFB27

There are numerous other players, some focusing not on gaming, but other VR applications such as military training, motion pictures or video on demand, sight seeing and travel as well as medical training. These are just some examples of how VR can be implemented past gaming and entertainment. However, I think this is where its strengths currently are and gaming is also something VR needs to capture first as the audience and market share is strong in this regard.

There are constant developments in the VR space with wireless headsets now making headlines such as the Pro version of the HTC Vive (as long as you purchased a separate adapter priced at $300), which can be used without being tethered to a PC or separate device such as a Playstation or smartphone, as is the case with most other headsets. There are also various virtual reality headsets coming out based on Android use and smartphone applications. In fact, Google is a strong player in this regard with its Dream project and support for Android headsets with its own pair of googles (I remember the Google Box being very innovative as well a couple years ago).

AR vs MR vs VR: Competition or Coexistence?

However, with Apple pushing AR Kit 2 and augmented reality being a technology that is also growing in this space it will be interesting to see how long VR’s legs will be in this regard. In some ways the two technologies of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are competing for marketshare, at least in smartphones as they share many similarities. Augmented Reality is based on using the camera and seeing objects that are virtual or digital appear in real-time around the space the viewer or user is looking at. It is less virtual or immense, in my opinion, than virtual reality, which is based on going into a completely different view and world after the glasses are put on.

I actually covered Augmented Reality (AR) a couple years ago when it was still in its infancy (arguably still is now) and Microsoft and Google at the time were its heavy proponents. The title of the piece was „How Augmented Reality is Defining Entertainment” and was published on TechHive and PC World. The cover feature focused on mostly various mobile apps and headset implementations that were becoming popular at the time and this was before even Google Cardboard.

There are some differences in what works better in AR vs VR and vice versa as specific maps or Yelp-type of geolocation services may be more practical or efficient using AR, particularly in mobile where we are moving around while looking for landmarks. However, VR has many benefits and advantages over other technologies, including AR, in terms of various industries and not just gaming as well.

According to MarketWatch:

“AR applications are being developed which will provide map overlays of prominent landmarks for improving geographic awareness and enabling rescue teams with better navigation into difficult terrains. Similarly, the healthcare industry in the region is expected to be one of the most promising users of VR technologies and devices because of surging usage of VR in surgical training, live streaming of surgeries, patient monitoring, pain management.”

There is also a relatively new concept that I see mentioned more and more and I did not hear about when I published that feature for PC World on AR (again: here). Mixed reality seems to be about adding virtual or digital objects onto the real world that we can see with the aid of smartphones, mobile devices, glasses or other peripherals. There seems to be a fine line between defining mixed reality vs augmented reality, but augmented reality could simply be using Yelp’s landmark finder or restaurant finder and not see virtual objects like spaceships flying, which would be more of a mixed reality experience.3899AB55-4CBD-4908-BB0D-56AC06C2ADEA

Personal Experiences with VR at Warsaw Cafe 

673B5B0F-6C59-4902-B658-587662EFCA75The bottom line is there is a strong future for both of these technologies, but I want to focus on my experience using a full-on virtual reality headset for the first time. This occurred last week when I ran into this VR gaming cafe or shop called

I actually had a chance to try out other VR headsets available and always missed out on the chance. During my time at the EGX Rezzed show I attended in London (I covered the event here) the VR headsets I saw were always packed with people on them or queued up ready to play whatever was offered. I also missed some other chances due to similar reasons at other locations, such as a artistic showcase at a gallery.

F9D566D9-B7D8-4CC9-9DA8-29318C9BDFE3

So, when I ran into this shop specializing in VR, called ImperiumVR, here in Warsaw where I am currently living. It was a pleasant surprised to run into this place in such a secluded shopping area known for cheap thrift stores and haircuts. How I found this place is a story all onto itself as it is located on the second floor of the shopping strip in the back with very little advertising or notifications. In fact, it looked more like an abandoned storehouse or the beginning of the apartment living area that is adjacent to it and behind the other shops.

ImperiumVR is really a cool place. It is small and no one was here besides me and the lady running the place or working there who helped me put on the OculusRift headgear and calibrate it so it fit perfectly on my head. She also introduce me to this crossbow training game first before I dived into the Superhot experience to get a small taste of how VR works. The place is worth checking out to anyone who lives or visits Warsaw. It is also fairly inexpensive and because of how it is located in the back of the strip, I imagine not too many people know about it, which is a shame.

I actually found out there are other VR venues here including one that offers the option to use a number of headsets, such as HTC Vive, beyond just Oculus Rift. It is called VR Project, but I have not had a chance to go there yet and try it out.

I was pretty surprised knowing this place existed, along with other gaming-focused venues, and even Warsaw gaming pubs such as New Meta Bar, because I never imagined Warsaw to be heavy on gaming or tech before moving here. However, it is and Poland as a country has a history and long gaming, despite its communist and relatively poor past.

When I was young arcade cabinets were lined up in these places called ssalony gier or gaming saloons. The American equivalent to these places would be the traditional arcade, but they were quite different because they were set up in long booths with arcade cabinets lined up against the walls inside a very thin walkway and the games were played using żetony or special coins inserted into the machines (yes I understand and remember some arcades in the U.S. using tokens instead of quarters as well so there is some similarity).

Poland even had a gaming culture before this that I remember well. Various gaming-centric computers such as Commodore 64, Atari ST and the Amiga were popular among the kids who could afford them when I was growing up. The way, I actually found out that Superhot is a Polish-developed game was I ran into this screening in the middle of a square in Warsaw at night showcasing the Polish gaming scene. I caught a bit of it at the end and here is what it looked like:

When I played Superhot, I felt for the first time the potential of VR. The game outs you in a role of an action movie star where you do both bare hand fighting and gun shooting. You also have the ability to throw objects at enemies, but this is difficult to pull off with precision in my experience. However, the movement is awesome. The ability to look 360 degrees for enemies and move out of the way of punches and bullets truly was a captivating experience. I even broke a bit of a sweat and got a chance to try out some boxing and martial art movies I picked up from training in the game. Note, throwing a body punch and waiting for the enemies to come to you rather than overextend is a tactic I found works well in the game as it does in real life.

I can actually imagine a sequel or a hard mode in the sequel offering real challenge where martial art skills or police training can come in handy if not learn the fine motor sensory skills involved through the VR experience. I actually see such ideas for future implementations of VR in gaming and beyond (think Matrix martial arts training where Neo fought Morpheus).

SUPERHOT-2-1030x579

The game puts you into these levels divided by sequences you have to overcome. For instance, in a sequence, you may quickly have to pick up an ashtray and block a shot from an enemy afar, then quickly turn to the wide where an enemy is running at you that you need to take out hand to hand. Than you may have to grab that enemy’s gun and use it at the rest of the foes to end the sequence and move onto the next sequence. Once you overcome a few of these sequences you move on to the next arena or level with its own sequences. If you die, or get hit, you will have to restart the order of sequences again, but not necessarily have to go back to the beginning of the game.

You will truly get some sweat going and feel an adrenaline rush playing this game. It is by far the best implementstion of VR I’ve seen in gsming or beyond. I am also proud it comes from a Polish development studio and zi wish them all the best in the near future.

The future of VR: Where Do We Go from Here?

So what does the future of VR hold? I presume that mobile VR including Google’s Dream will have a bright future despite the competition from AR in this space. However, I really see wireless showroom and home VR making the most noise in terms of innovation and possibilities the technology can unleash in the future. It is already showing its potential as it is applied to various industries teaching students and being applied in the workforce to give practical experience in various industries before hands-on training is applied.

I previously mentioned military and the medical fields as examples of such usage. I imagine it will grow very strong in both these fields and can imagine a VR implementation teaching soldiers to overcome natural fear of combat and being able to overcome the adrenaline or mental breakdowns that often occurs for first-time combatants. It is still not the real thing, but virtual reality is becoming so immense and life-like that it can really simulate that reality and it will only improve from there.

I can imagine a headset with some form of light pain implementation and sense implementation making an appearance in the future bringing reality and virtual reality closer in this field and many other VR implementations. HTC Vive is already showing grip technology simulating various objects being tangible is very advanced and this is already a roadblock that was once impossible to overcome. Other senses such as smell and wetness or mist may make an appearance (maybe not at home, but at military implementations, for instance, or showroom floor VR set-ups).

Current Implementations of VR Showing Potential for Wide Range of Industries

I also see travel being a huge industry for VR, particularly live-albeit-virtual travel to locations where cameras are set up. Users can get that experience of a particular city or place without having to purchase a plain ticket to get there. it is also a way for people to tour a particular place and compare it to others to get a sense if the trip is worthwhile of if they might as well go somewhere else in person.

There is already some implementation in this regard, as reported by Appreal-VR, for instance, where Youtube is being used by Best Western Hotels to offer hotel tours for users trying to make a reservation choice ahead of time. Quantas Airline VR is also being use don flights to give travelers a chance to check out the places they are about to embark on before even landing. There are even museum tours available as another example of VR finding a home in tourism and travel.

Those are just some examples of uses already being implemented, but to list more and the potential for VR in this regard would be a whole separate article all onto itself. Gaming is where I really see VR being implemented in the most interesting ways for me personally. Particularly after experiencing the awesomeness of Superhot. It was as if the game combined a movie or action film experience with first person shooting and combat to bring me to the forefront of the action like I’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing before.

What I want you to take away from my experiences as well as others’ experiences related to modern-day VR, is to not give up on the technology. Give it a try if you haven’t and do not just try one game, title or experience before making up your mind. give Superhot a try and some others. You will not regret it and come away from the experience learning of an emerging technology that has a strong future in gaming and various other industries.

Some of you may have read the book Ready Player One or seen the latest movie coming from famed director Steven Spielberg. It was a descent film and that type of virtual reality and eSport displayed may be closer to reality than many realize. Both eSports and vsrious VR, AR and MR technologies are advancing and gaining in popularity. It may only be a matter of time before eSports and VR are merged.

FA0768AF-E77E-49F8-91AE-DCBFA31C6EFD

Advertisements

I Launched a New Website Using Weebly This Time Around Called Artistic Counterculture

F8C41266-706D-4CC9-9634-4EBB0E8A22C8So I have decided to launch a new website using a visual and drag-and-drop style of a web design interface called Weebly. The website is available here. It has been in the planning stages for months. I wanted a service site that is less of a personal site focusing on me, my ontent and resume, but on services I or my friends/co workers can offer. I also wanted a site I can showcase some of my skills, such as graphic design and video editing, past writing, reporting and type.

Again, I used Weebly for its creation process and surprisingly I mostly did it all from my iPad, although I also used my Macbook Air for certain things or simply because I did not have my iPad at hand. Weebly is similar in some ways to WordPress and different in many ways as well. I would say that I prefer it to WordPress when using the app on iPad and how easy its drag-and-drop interface is when compared to the mobile WordPress app. It is seamless from mobile and allows you to add videos, slide shows, backgrounds to image layouts with ease.

Obviously, it works more efficient or loads faster as you upload new content from a Mac or PC than iPad, but it is still great on Apple’s tablet from my experience. Once you make your changes, however, be sure to publish them after clicking preview on the upper right-side bar. It even has blogging integrated and many styles of templates you could work from.

Another reaosn I prefer Weebly to WordPress in certain instances is that it is simpler to use overall to accomplish certain Web design tasks. You do not have to worry about navigating various menus or sub menus such as WP Admin, or the various plugins to accomplish basic tasks. It has search, maps and various things integrated form its main drop down menu you access when clicking the plus sign. You then just drag such features onto where you want them to appear on your landing page or any other page of the site.

6DE83E73-0497-4C23-91B6-FFD48E55171BThere are obviously a lot of advantages WordPress has over Weebly and similarities as well. It is good to be able to use various web design services, apps and software and get a good perspective that way on the type of templates or sites you want to work from. WordPress seems more integrated with CSS and HTML in custom creation of content and editing, but then again I am currently just starting to work with Weebly and on the free plan, so I will see going forward what else it offers.

I also like how you can use WordPress, as long as you have at least a personal site plan, to store multimedia content and share the url of such files or content elsewhere. You may have noticed that the search bar in the image above does not appear on my Weebly page. This is because the feature that I accessed simply from the drop-down menu is not available with the free version of the site. Another advantage of WordPress I find is how easy it is to modify the custom url of a blog post, or site section for further sharing and linking.

I have been using the Artistic Counterculture tagline or brand name in certian instances, such as some content on my Facebook sister site as well as some video content I uploaded to Youtube. Thus, I figure this is a great name to my site and potential company (or at least an icon/emblem of my services) I am in the process of realizing. The reason I choose Artistic Counterculture because I enjoy mixing street art, urban culture, graffiti and the like with an artistic flair. I enjoy taking pictures, capturing video content from my iPad or digital camera and modifying it or adding effects to make it art. I also enjoy traveling to strange or scary places and adding flair to the captured content I find there with the aid of visual tools — whether video or still images/graphic design.

Also, if you have been following this blog, you may have seen my other recent posts such as this one, which showcase the way I combine street art through photogrpahy with graphic design for added flair and ideas. This is also part of my Artistic Counterculture idea. I think the name sounds right for the type of content I enjoy doing, hence the reason I used it for the new site, which again is: https://artisticcounterculture.weebly.com

I like the way the portfolio section looks on the new site and the way that Weebly let me organize it with my custom background of a rock wall I actually took from my iPad and uploaded it to Weebly. I also like the slide show feature of Weebly and utilized this on the landing page of my site or the home page. There are clearly advantages of using various templates and some services have better ones than others, but overall with certain workarounds and navigation you should be able to create the type of content you need for your site or brand across services, with some differentiations along the way. The other thing, is some services have better free vs paid tiers than others as well as advantages and disadvantages like I already mentioned above. Bottom line, however, is you can always use custom HTML code and CSS to design things your way outside anything a service or template may try forcing on you or your design.

WordPress really just started out as a blogging service and turned moe into custom web design software over time. Weebly offers blogging as part of its templates pages, from the get go, as you can see in my template along with a news section. This is one way it integrated full web design with blogging as just one of its features rather than the focus.

255F4E80-2440-4F12-A62E-F70547A995A2

I also like how Weebly has the various insights integrated right into the main app rather than having to navigate to see how many visitors or clicks you got from some separate menu. Anyway, check out my new site and send any suggestions or comments as well as ideas. I may try integrating more of this site with it or link between sections, however I still have uet to add a full service page with a bullet list (I simply linked to the Facebook sister site). So it is obviously a work in progress. Also, you may have noticed that a lot of the content I have posted over the last few months, or so, on here I have integrated into the new site across the pages and into the portfolio as well. I will try to keep the themes or focus more segregated as it is a bit of a jumbled mess right now.

Oh and yes I do get that the background may be a bit unsuited to the writing on the portfolio page due to the rock wall image. It makes the writing a bit hard to read, but I am still trying to figure out if there is a way to segregate that background or rock wall into only secitons with specific content on the sub page (portfolio) and not across the whole page. However, I am not willing to rid of the beautiful background just yet.

Some Recent Graphic Design Ideas for Potential Posters, Game or Album Covers, Ads & More

Recently, I posted some fresh graphical content, including a video clip showing my digital media and multimedia skills combined into a wave style of transcendence. In that recent write up, I mentioned going on a trip to Israel and capturing some cool street art, which I planned to use in future graphic design content. Well, it only took me a day or so from my other blog post to start coming up with ideas.

Here is some of my recent work using these ideas and media as it fits into the sci-fi style of graphic design I enjoy doing immensly. I combined multimedia skills across a wide variety of formats from photography to multiple raster apps. I captured the main head, which you will see in the graphics below, as a photo I took of graffiti from the recent trip to Tel Aviv. I then masked it as a stand-alone object and combined it with other self-created assets in order to create something unique. I think the idea could work well for game, movie or book posters as well as front covers.

Here is the Tel Aviv street art I captured via my iPad’s camera and which got me inspired in using it for future assets for graphic design work:

FC28177B-E9E5-4893-B094-D721D1F97606

And here are the sci-fi ideas I came up with thus far:

454D8000-EFA4-460D-ABC0-319C3299E6CC

5D6BC72E-1E53-41BE-81A5-C1D711ADC593

Here is a PDF file with all work intact in a nice loseless format ready to print.

Keep in mind this is all raster work as I used my iPad exclusively to create everything you see above. I could add some of these assets to Illustrator and vectorize them via the trace command to get more print-friendly work. It could also open the work up to newer ideas using desktop apps, Illustrstor or Photoshop, which I also use interchangeably with the iPad apps (aprocreate and Artstudio Pro) as I swap files across iCloud. Look for more content in the future, particularly some vector work.

Techno Nightclub Art Ideas for Ads, Posters & More

I visited this techno night club in Warsaw a couple of days ago called Luzztro, or The Mirror (not exact spelling as lustro means mirror in Polish, but you get the idea). This club is very underground with a dark setting and kind of a crammed space inside — there are two dance floors and an upstairs to just chill out at on couches.

However, this place never seems to get overcrowded, despite this, and has some really awesome musicians/DJs playing really trance type of techno. The music just makes you forget about what you are doing or thinking about at the moment and zone out to the grooves of the techno beat. While this is happening, there is also a light show on the wall and straight across form the upstairs lounge where you can zone out and enjoy the display.

These lights seem to be based on a lazer and go in different patterns across the Luzztro face-like icon. Some of the go right around the icon’s eyes and it really is quite a show.

luzztro

Luzztro’s icon (also displayed inside club) — via Luzztro’s Facebook site

Here is Luzztro’s Facebook page and the page the club has many of their announcements made. Some of these are actually Facebok ads and the club seems really about promotion. In fact, Luzztro has its own energy drink and apparently some sort of a magazine or publication I saw mentioned on its website.

This all makes for attractive ads and a need for the company to create ads to attract new techno goes to its events. It got me thinking. I took some really cool shots and even a video clib of that display while enjoying music.

So I started thinking that I could combine my photography of that display with some abstract graphic design and see what I come up with. If it is any good, who knows maybe I could pitch it to Luzztro as either something for the magazine, a Facebook ad, a poster, or a variety of things Luzztro seems to be doing. Check out the club’s Facebook site to get a sense just how creative Luzztro is with some of its ads.

8724D5DD-8883-4445-AA3F-31E7F013E8F4

Here was one of my photographs I took of the light show with Luzztro’s icon used for background

I took this image and this is what I started doing with it using first Procreate, then Artstudio Pro for some filter effects and later even using iCloud to keep working on the psd file in Photoshop. The Photoshop workflow can be seen here.

Screen Shot 2018-06-02 at 12.52.43 PM

This is just a low-res screencap from my Macbook Air

I actually opened up Photoshop because I wanted to try creating a longer and larger artboard than just the image space area. This is something that is harder to do in Procreate or Artstudio Pro because once the image is already selected in terms of the resolution you will be using and dimensions, it is hard to just resize it nicely like with Photoshop’s simple Artboard tool.

You can create a separate image or canvas space and paste it inside then if it is too large or small, you can scale it it down. However, sometimes the resolution quality drops as you keep fiddling with it and scaling in either heigth, width, or a combination of both. Thus, the image may become really annoying to scale on these apps, while Photoshop has that nice tool as does Illustrator in its Artboard options to do it. I do recommend having a workflow that combines both the desktop Adobe apps with iPad apps of Procreate and Artstudio Pro however. Saving can all be done across file formats or even in one (if not using Vector) and via upload to iCloud or other cloud services.

Here is what else I came up with combining these apps or programs (for this project I did not use vector or Illustrator at all):

 

shapesluzztro

This one comes with a high-resolution PNG file I saved it as such. This means, it could be blown up decently and probably printed — although not to the levels of a vector/Illustrator image or even pdf files you can see below

Here are the images I created or graphic designs without messing with the artboard tool in Photoshop and using pure iPad apps, such as Procreate with some Instagram filters and Photoshop Express and Artstudio Pro filters:

 

 

inne2

Some more variations, and again, keep in mind this image is what I inserted into the Photoshop flow above, thus these are not chronologically posted by any means. I used a filter in Artstudio Pro for the top one below to create its wave-like effect.

Photo 104

 

I would really love to get into professional graphic design as I seem to be enjoying it more than freelance writing or blogging and it is letting my creative juices flow. I think clubs such as Luzztro and the techno music scene in general are a great option to try breaking into this industry as they seem to be always looking for additional ideas and experimental art to add to their repertoire of ads, posters, newsletters, e-mails, — or any other way to reach fans and newcomers.

 

As I continue to learn Illustrator, combine my skills in various iPad apps using stylus and Photoshop, and am able to mix media with photography or hand drawings, I will keep sharing my ideas. Hopefully, I can start landing some interesting graphic design or art gigs or at least keep expanding my skills as a multimedia journalist.

If you are nterested in any of my work or want me to do any similar type of work for your brand, please don’t hesitate to comtact me. I can also rework various images I have already displayed for you specifically.

img_8491

I fixed the right eyeball to make it more level to the left eyeball.

9B02299C-5645-494B-AC2A-DFFDAA1EFB1A

Below are some pdf files I created and uploaded to iCloud then here to WordPress. Notice, the large file sizes and greater quality as PDF is lossless and doesn’t compress. Thus, these should be good enough for small prints, albeit not to the same scalable level as if I had created them in Illustrator and made them be vector-based.

Luzztro2

Luzztroshapes4

LuzztrozNapisem

 

 

More Schmup Concept Artwork

I have been working on more ideas related to the graphic design assets I have and combined with my recent play time with Super Hydorah, my review (plays surprisingly well on iPad with its touch controls), I have decided to use the game’s concept into my own. This type of art is interesting because it lets my imagination run wild and at the same time experiment with multiple apps and brush strokes.

IMG_2955

4C6EF8BF-348F-4DA9-A762-8A5C5DCF436C

I have also decided to start using my iCloud Drive and it is a real asset to save my work in multiple format. That way, I can print a PDF file in high quality. This can be useful, for instance, if someone wnats to ever work with me in creating a cover or box art design. Alternitavely, I can sell such artwork or create print out ads. By saving files in multiple formats, I can also export such work into Illustrator for vector work or even to turn a whole design into vector by sketch, or continue working on it in the future.

I have a PDF file of most of the images above as well as PSD for Photoshop and Procoreate/Artstudio work and PnG for exporting onto the Web.

Here is the PDF file, which should make a nice print out

By the way, this is a continuation of my previous post using similar assets in different ways:

Lastly, here is something else worth contemplating:

 

More Gaming Style Artwork I Am Creating

You may have recently read my blog post on creating game art — or really digital artwork that could be used for in-game title screen, transition sections within games (in-game), box cover art for games (or even books and music albums), or as simply cocept art. Because I started doing game reviews for TouchArcade recently (here is my review of Super Hydorah — a similar game to some of the images you will see below in concept or theory), I got indoired to start creating some game art again as well as continue my skills with vector work. Thus, on my free time one of the things I continue doing is improving my graphic design skills. I love to work on a combination of apps or programs and there are benefits and downfalls to this approach.

I really enjoy using a photo or an asset I drew either with a physical pencil or on my iPad using a stylus and either Artstudio Pro or Procreate and importing the drawing i to Illustrator on my Mac. Then, I will sketch or trace the drawing using software within Illustrator to vectorise it thene expand it (this is a thing expanding artwork in Illustrator). That way, I can edit the individual lines or paths and even turn the object into a live trace then color i dividual sections.

Anyway, I started out with this photograph I took on my iPad of a face in water here in Warsaw:

C61964D2-149E-475B-B6F0-4EC9FBF8F41F

Then I did all sorts of things with the face after tracing it and vectorizing it into Illustrstor. Before you start nagging that the images I show here are rasterised (bitmap files), they probably are due to me right now uploading them from iPad after I turned them into PNG images or took screenshots. I may upload some pure vector assets soon (I ended up uploading PDF/PNG files of a high-fidelity quality with vector trace to the bottom of this post). I also rasterised some of these images on purpose, in order to upload them to my mobile devices so that I can showcase them on Instagram. Also, I like to use bitmap backgrounds to add into Illustrator while having the objects or foreground (top layers) vector. However, as you can see with pdf file on bottom of this post, I can simply trace and vectorize bitmap backgrounds anyway.

Here is a graphic up close from above, which I created turning the head photo via skews and effects and my own use of tools (such as the pen tool) and into a boss (in terms of video game bad guys or bosses) or a high-level being of sorts. In fact, I already have many ideas for machine learning or AI art in using this asset. I also think that this would work well for either game box art for something like Gradius or Super Hydorah (or something similar) or a concept art for a schmup:

Here is just something wild I did with the graphic or asset or object in terms of context and my own imagination going wild — by the way, the two graphics below were not part of the karge set above at all:

I am still working on additional ideas using this asset and have more I have not uploaded just yet. I can also use any of these assets i to other ideas you may have or concepts for work you may need. Contaat me and we can do something cool and creative — whether in raster/bitmap, or pure vecotor or a combination of raster background inserted into illustrator and saved as a pdf or png or something at 300 PPI (if PNG file, which I also made some, although PDF I believe is as high as it gets anyway for printing or other purposes).

I am flexible and would love to have some clients right now. Game art, dover art for games or books or music albums, concept art, or anything else — I am interested. Hope you enjoyed my artwork and strange ways of thinking outside the box. Feel free to contact for assignments or projects, or we can work out using my existing work for your brand or having me add text as well.

EDB263A8-5A3C-4E73-BBA3-CDFF7EA268F8
E6A7B076-1C71-46CF-8DE3-87671EA4BB74

By the way, I have been using the same face asset for previous work as well in case you missed it here is my previous post showcasing some of the other stuff I’ve done with it.

Lastly, after writing all this I created something else from these assets I wanted to add:
42128E3C-B0B9-428A-B0D0-C1DA35AEF309

Here are some files imported straight from Illustrator and the head was traced in using the sketched art preset and set as black and white. The first and second files are in PDF format and should be pure vector work. The second, I uploaded as a high-fidelity and high-resolution PNG file at 300 PPI. I am not sure if PNG keeps the pure vector format, but the quality is good (WordPress also let me embed it into the post unlike PDF files):

Sample 1

Sample 2

twarzprint5

Personal Account of London’s Biggest Gaming Expo EGX Rezzed

C86773A9-0817-4F1F-8DD7-74137ABA5453As many of you know, gaming is now a mainstream hobby and activity that spans across devices, operating systems, virtual and augmented realities and more. It is enjoyed by millions of people world wide. There are gaming shows happening around the world, although arguably the most well-known occur in Japan and the U.S. (particularly E3). However, Europe has a huge gaming scene as well and the UK arguably made gaming in terms of many of the original developers started out from garages in the UK (think Jeff Minter). Games now considered retro classics that were developed decades ago and for computers and gaming systems such as the ZX Spectrum and Amiga, really survived based off the UK fanbase at the time and thrived. This was when much of the rest of the world, inlcuding the U.S., gamed on the Commodore 64, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis and IBM PC (via DOS and later Windows).

Well the UK is still a very strong region when it comes to gaming, both classic and modern. The country also has a show that takes place annually called EGX Rezzed and it used to be referred to as the Eurogamer Expo. The expo took place April 13-15 at the Tobacco Dock in London and the next EGX show will occur Sept. 20-23 in Birmingham, UK. I never knew about the show until my recent and coincedental visit to London as a tourist. I will mention my experience at the expo as well as a bit of background how I ran into the show (Also, be sure to check out what Eurogamer had to say about the recent EGX).

The show was all about indies, and across platforms and genres. It offered much more, but if you are an indy gamer it was pure heaven. There were indy offerings from developers that are known and onces barely on paper who had titles not even announced (or at least announced outside of their countries of origin).1D326B16-27EF-48E5-BA76-C410DD19795B

If you are a frequent visitor to this site and a reader of my blog, you may have already noticed my previous story, which included an interview, mentioning the show briefly, but mostly focusing on two mobile games showcased (Vandals and Homo Machina).  The reason I wrote that post so promptly and only focused on mobile was because that is my bread and butter or how I started my writing carrer (hence the original focus of this site being the iPad, iPad gaming and most of my content is still produced and shot with the iPad as was EGX) . I am thinking of getting into gaming journalism  with mobile being a good entry point to pitch websites and editors because of my previous focus and content.

Now, let me tell you how I ended up at this game expo before I tell you how surprised I was the way it turned out to be one of the best expos or shows overall related to tech or gaming in general. I was in London just visiting and site seeing the city before I even found out that EGX was happening. It was already Sunday and I flipped through this guide about London and what is worth checking out in the city during this time or 2018 in general and saw virtual reality displayed along with a game expo mentioned.8DFA8857-1A39-4D81-AFB5-1776DC5975D0

I kind of paid this no attention for a day as I assumed it was just one of those VR-focused shows that really is only British in scope and will feature just the run-of-the-mill games, or companies showcasing their games, that have already been covered to death. However, as I realized the show was happening not far from the London Tower, where I happened to visit the following day, I figured if there were still tickets available I would check it out. Mind, this was already Sunday so the last day to see the show.

I walked by the harbor renting one of those London bicycles that cost 2 euros per half-hour and as I rode by this long and wide building that looked like an old factory, I first didn’t think there was a show happening there at all. It wasn’t until I reached further into the side that I saw an opening with what looked like an event happening. However, until I rode by looking for places to park my bicycle and I saw the front entrance, I still doubted this was the place that EGX was happening at.

I then realized that if I was to purchase a ticket I should do it right away before they run out, as this was the last day of the show after all. So I contacted the EGX staff from their website contact section and I got a very prompt response from Tom Champion, who is the manager of the event, and he replied promptly with information about the show and availability of ticket88714763-B077-406E-BC2C-383E774C0784

I ended up going and being surprised about how robust and feature-rich the show was. There were all sorts of games on showcase including the latest titles, games yet to be released, titles barely announced or in pre-alpha phrase of development, indy games and retro titles.

5A3EB8A0-2FB9-44EC-92BB-245BAE0CABF5

When I first walked into the show floor I noticed how it had multiple levels or a staircase that took you to the bottom floor and various sections on both levels. There was also a divide in the middle walkway on topthat divided the left side of the Dock from the right and eachs ection had rooms with different themes of games showcased, which included multiple monitors or TV sets in each room and multiple publishers present.

2DCDBC65-ED7E-4061-BDB0-1F5509137532I then walked inside one section or space and noticed a couple big-hit titles in this section, such as the highl-anticipated and longed-for below, a slasher game called Sinner, and this awesome-looking Freespace type of exploration shooter called Sinner, which I unfortunately did not get a chance to examine too closely as there were so many other titles grabbing at my attention. As I walked by the many isles in the first room I ended up walking into on right hand of the first or upper floor of the Dock, I couldn’t help but be captivated by a game that was showcased across numerous monitors. It also had an active gathering of gamers trying it. This game, which isn’t released yet, was State of Mind, which I actually never heard of before the show but came away impressed and captivated by its art direction and interesting ideas it brings to the table.BF00C809-0EBC-4F5F-8B15-4CF673C01A38

I actually ended up interviewing the marketing and publishing team behind it, Lisa Mallory who is the community manager at Daedalic Entertsinment based out of Hamburg, Germany and Mounir Aouina, the marketing assistant who was at the show as well. Thus, if anyone is interested in the storyline or the game in greater detail and about the origins of the title and the sort or psychological and pop-culture message it offers, let me know. In a nutshell, it focuses on a man namd Richard, who is antagonist to technology running people’s lives and becoming more part of mainstream. Mind you, this game takes place in th future, so technology is even mote prevalent and part of people’s lives than in our reality. Richard also happens to be a teacher, which makes such an approach interesting to say the least. Mallory promised, however, thst there will be other characters playable further into the story.

The graphics and aesthetics seemed real interesting snd gave me a very Max Payne and Blade Runner type of feeling. Mallory told me that the game shares adventure game elements with older point-and-click PC titles, but isn’t a strict adventure game in terms of structure or genre because it offers much different puzzles and implementsiton in terms of narrative. The graphics were pretty awesome and the storyline seemed pretty unique as well with people resisting or accepting texhnology in different ways in a not too-distant future and there is a lot of room in there for good storytelling. It will be interesting to see how it turns out when it gets released this upcoming August. Here is a gameplay section I shot of someone playing Richard (via my Youtube channel under Mike Lata).

As I kept walking a couple of isles down the hall, to the left and perpendicular to most of the other games showcased, I then noticed a game playing in its own booth section that seemed to have a very akingdom Hearts and Dragon Ball Z aesthetic and felt intrigued. The game was Oniria The Land Of The Three Z and at first glance gave off a type of mix, in terms gameplay, of Kingdom Hearts and Super Mario Sunshine. It looked like a platformer with collecting elements the game’s title sounds almost as strange as the concept behind the game. It is a 3D platformer with heavy collect elements because it ties into the aspect of having a dreamcatcher to fill as enemies become captured when they perish. New paths are also opened within the various worlds that the development team plans to implement. New abilities are gained as enemies get captured and the player advances.

I talked to Pablo Martin Alvarez, who is a co-founders of the studio behind the game (D-RealmS) and an active developer in the title, as well as Maria mercedes garcia muñoz, who was an active Spanish-to-English translator for Alvarez and was part of the team at EGX showcasing the game. Pablo described the game as an action adventure title as well as a 3D platformer all at the same time. Judging the mis of weapon handling and platforming he seemes to have described it well.

At one point Pablo pressed a keyboard shortcut for the development version of the game and the main character started flying in mid air to the point in the map that Pablo wanted to demonstrate for me (the later boss fight occured there you will see in the video below). He told me this was a (keyboard) shortcut intended for developers to be able to not have to actually tackle away at the game to get further, but fly straight to the point of what they want to assess.

Here is him explaning some of the mechanics of the game while showing off a boss battle (via my Youtube Channel under Mike Lata):

(If anyone is interested in having me write a story for your publication I have a whole interview with Pablo and more info about the game.)

Outside, on the top floor and between the two sections of rooms and secrions, there were refreshments and food available for purchase. There were also some stands inside one of the sections or rooms that had gaming accessories, art, and other things available for purchase. One of them fewtured a lot of old retro, particularly game boy, games and modified game boys with various lighting and display additions not available in the orignal Game Boy or GBC hardware (possibly some sort of save state functionality or other modifications).

Paper Rock Shotgun (RPS), a quality and popular gaming website and network, had a big presence at the show with a room dedicated to it that had various games showcased inside from varied publishers, but all based on comedy or games that were just hilarious in nature. Some of them had weird controllers, for instance, or featured a battle royal against friends with much laughter involved. PRS also has a nice and very in-depth analysis of the show and what it offered available here.

Nintendo’s Switch console was not forgotten and had a pretty large presence at the show, which surprised me a bit due to Nintendo generally focusing on its own periodic livestream show, called Nintendo Direct. There were various games showcased in an arc or circular set up where eager marketing and publishing teams were literally throwing joycons at potential players to try out their games. Some or these titles had multiple people with joycons playing co op, others focused on single player action. Most were indy or retro in appearance.

They included the famous PSP-era puzzler Lumines, but remastered for the Switch (thus named Lumines Remastered), a multiplayer fighting game with retro and pixelated graphics, called Pocket Rumble, and more. The Switch seems to have a surprisingly (to me) thriving indy scene as Nintendo is finally getting on track with its online gaming distribution platform and besides having a system with a high adoption rate, The Kyoto-based company seems to be giving indies some breathing space and freedom this time around.

I was also pleasantly surprised that there were some big, although could also be considered indy, hitters displayed for Nintendo’s console-tablet-handheld hybrid to try out. The latest and upcoming title in Suda 51’s No More Heroes franchise, a series that started life on the original Wii, was showcased and available for gamers to try out. It will be called Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes. Shaq Fu had a section all of its own to the side of the main Switch-only circular arc with posters advertising it.ac847fe7-9b12-4772-9dab-353ae1e10ae1

Because I only went on the last day of the show, which was a Sunday, I missed out on a lot of what the whole event had to offer. Even though, as you may have noticed, I got a great taste of the awesomeness of what such shows bring and the types of gaming experiences they can unveil people may not have access to or try out on their own.

7691B5BC-5DCD-44BF-9427-90D26F397D7AThere were various VR set ups, for instance, and always a line to try out those Oculus Rift or Cive headsets. There were also gaming talks and seminars in a seperate section on how to work inside the gaming industry with big time developers or heads speaking about their experiences and giving advice on how to break into the industry. There were even various submissions for indies to get their presence at the show, for instance the Leftfield Collection and RPS gives some details here on how submissions worked, as from what I saw it was heavily tailored for that independent and creative spirit.

What was truly bizarre and interesting was this set up I saw on the bottom floor of the show. It was a multi-legged robotic machine that had multiple retro-looking CRT TV sets connected to it that gamers played Steel Rats on. There were eyes on top of the CRT TV sers in their own TV sets that looked into the viewers. This dystopian and almost Mad Max in-appearance set up included various metallic pipes and even what looked like scrapmetal and stereo speakers fused together. I felt a huge steampunk vibe from checking out the robot and it was an awesome set up that truly fit right in with Steel Rat’s gameplay.

AD12611D-9901-4B5F-915C-957EE2DCED30

Steel Rats is a dieselpunk and 2.5D motorcycle action game that has you spinning your wheels at high speeds while fighting robots with what looked like destructive or highly-combustive environments. Geek has described it as a “high-octane motorcycle action game,” which I think fits the bill with a retro-futuristic art style.

“Steel Rats takes place in a “Dieselpunk” world inspired by 1940’s and 50’s Americana. The game’s heroes are the titular Steel Rats, who are defending their hometown of Coastal City against an invading army of automatons called junkbots.”

I did not get a chance to play the title or try it out, but saw others playing and the mechanics of it explained. However, it definitely is one to watch for. Here is what I recorded of the behemoth in action (from my Youtube channel under Mike Lata) from the top floor of the Tobacco Dock:

Here is actual gameplay of Steel Rats being played on the robotic bhemoth (via my Instagram under Stirolak or Mike Lata):

There was also this game that was showcased or playing on a circular display that was being powered by a projector and it fit the type of genre it represented nicely. This was a surreal and artistic type of game from the quick look I had of it running and being demonstrated. The game was Stereopolis and it seemed to rely on some sort of environmental manipulation and almost a tunnel-runner type of gameplay. Here is a brief gameplay video I shot (from my Youtube channel under Mike Lata):

The Retro gallery downstairs offered an awesome section for the type of gamer I am. The titles showcase brought me back to the 90s and really the high era of my life in terms of gaming: the time I discovered online gaming with the original Starcraft or my Doom marathons when I discovered wads or modifications it offered turning the vainall doom game (with a download) into a completely different game — now we refer to these as modifications or mods. Well, Doom, Starfox and even the original half-Life were all available at the Retro section that gamers could play on PCs as originally the games were released on and in my opinion gaming of this era that these games came out was the cream of the crop of PC gaming.

Retro gaming can be a whole new topic here but I have such fond memories of the games thst I saw at EGX that I can really write some awesome ancedotes about it. I am currently mostly a retro gamer who loves portable and movile gaming as well as some marathons of PC gaming. But because ai do not have the latest and greatest rig in terms of Pc gaming, in fact I rely on my Bootcamped iMac mostly, I still mostly play games like Team Fortress 2 or Starcraft 2, which are getting up there in age. I also am big into my iPad and Nintendo 3DS, in fact I love on going on night runs and jogs up the stairs in the park newr me and take breaks trying to complete Super Mario 3D Land, which has been my evening program lately here in Warsaw.

img_6903As you can see, EGX was an awesome show with a lot of fun stuff in terms of gaming and beyond that any gamer if given a chance should check out. There were titles in all genres and across various systems, set ups and budgets available to try out. If given a chance,I will try to make the next show as well and this time not just on the last day. Apparently EGX’s popularity has transcended beyond London with Berlin being a destination in the near future. Berlin is not far from me here in Warsaw, so I may check this upcoming one out. I recommend that you do as well if you enjoy gaming at all.

If anyone is interested in more content, including a lot of interviews and multimedia I have and may not have had the space or time to divulge here (there is at least one interview or game I covered, which I ommited), do not hesitate to contact me. I can also go a lot further nto the individual games that I covered here, such as State of Mind and more about the gameplay and message behind the game (and other titles as well). So if any publication, media or gaming/tech site wants such content or likes my work and would not mind having me work with them or freelance for them, please also let me know. This also goes for gaming studios that can use someone like me on their team as either a media publicist, game writer, PR, marketing guy, graphic designer/video editor or more (some of my skills showcased here in terms of art and writing for game narrative). Thank you and I look forward to the next EGX show.