Facts About Pixelated Blood

Pixel art animated blood is one of the most SATISFYING things to watch when its done correctly. They Bleed Pixels is an example of a game that does it like.. PERFECTLY.

Quick little story. The blood in They Bleed Pixels is a mix of Andrew’s carefully coded particle physics system and some hand animated splash effects I pixeled. We worked together to fine tune how each element of that system worked to get it looking just right.. or thought we had… except we messed up. The splash animations I drew don’t run properly in the current version. They’re far too slow and are possibly skipping frames.  This only became apparent to us when we got the blood up and running in the to be released rewrite and whatever obscure XNA bug was messing with them didn’t make it over. Suddenly the blood looked EVEN BETTER then before! Andrew has also raised the cap on the number of blood particles that can appear at one time before the engine starts culling them (previously 4000 particles), so along with all the other improvements in the next update expect even better looking blood effects!

Status of the Major Update to They Bleed Pixels

As some of you may know we’ve been working on a major rewrite/update of They Bleed Pixels for the last year or so.  Among other things it will drastically improve the experience of playing the game on low end machines like older laptops and netbooks with wider compatibility for older graphic cards and gamepads. There will also be new bonus levels and an easy mode with some shorter, easier levels.

We’ve had our nose to the grindstone on this and haven’t been doing a great job keeping folks up to date on its progress, other then some tweets and FB updates. Andrew (the programming half of Spooky Squid) has fixed this and is now posting very detailed progress on our Steam forums.

Once this update is out of the way we should have Mac and Linux ports out shortly with the possibility of some console stuff following that.

Some Early Art for our Next Big Game

Spent yesterday working on some character art with comic artist Eric Kim. Here are some examples of the pencils he drew and my final pixel art drawn over them. These are all for a new thing we won’t be announcing for awhile yet.


Last night me and @spookysquid got to making some art! Here’s a compilation of last night’s collabs #games

Comics vs Games + Spooky Squid Games = Crazy Busy Toronto Weekend!

Comics vs Games + Spooky Squid Games = Crazy Busy Toronto Weekend!

So outside of Spooky Squid Games I’m also part of the Hand Eye Society a Videogame arts and culture non-profit here in Toronto.  As part of that I started a project called Comics vs Games a couple years ago that keeps getting bigger every year. The third one happens this weekend as part of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) and it is going to be madness. Here’s where you’ll be able to find me (Miguel) or the other half of Spooky Squid (Andrew) all weekend.

Saturday May 10th 11am-8pm at Bit Bazaar, Andrew will be manning our table which will have the new Russian Subway Dogs playable and a ton of They Bleed Pixels Merch

Saturday May 10th 12pm-1pm I’ll be upstairs from Bit Bazaar  interviewing XKCD’s Randall Munroe for Comics vs Games Talks live on stage. (Full talk description here) In fact I put together a full 7 hours of talks and panels that day with comic artists and game makers talking about the intersection of the mediums. Full list in the CvsG Talks program guide: http://handeyesociety.com/wp-content/uploads/Comics-vs-Games-Talks-2014.pdf

Saturday and Sunday May 10-11th at TCAF
Black Church Brigandage 2/4 player versus barbarian sports game I created with comic artist Andy Belanger will be playable at the Comics vs Games Showcase. This game isn’t available anywhere so it’s a rare chance to play it. Here’s a video of a 1vs1 match I played against fellow game dev Christine Love, however it really shines in 2vs2. It’ll be upstairs near the elevators at the TCAF main location along with a whole bunch of other games.  I’ll also be there most of Sunday if you want to chat or challenge me to match.

I’ll also be on the following panel talking about traveling in Japan with TCAF:

Sunday, May 11 12:15 pm - 1:15 pm
Toronto Marriott Bloor Yorkville Hotel - Google Map
TCAF International: Japan, England, and Beyond!
The Toronto Comic Arts Festival has been exhibiting on behalf of the Canadian Comics Industry and Canadian artists in Tokyo, Japan, for the past 2 years. In 2014 and 2015 we plan to head back to Tokyo, as well as other destinations around the world! Find out about our trips, what we’re hoping to accomplish, and how you as an artist or publisher can get involved.

So if your in Toronto and a fan of Spooky Squid Games, or just comics and games in general you should come out! Full info on Comics vs Games including times & locations here: http://torontocomics.com/comics-vs-games-3/

Russian Subway Dogs at GDC!

I’m at GDC this week with a brand new build of our next commercial game, Russian Subway Dogs. You may have caught me tweeting about its development lately.

If you’re attending GDC and would like to play just tweet or email me and we can figure something out.


What’s this Russian Subway Dogs game all about?
It’s a single screen arcade game where you play as a stray dog wandering the subway, stealing food and competing for scraps against rival dogs. It’s inspired by the real life stray dogs who travel the Moscow Metro.

Wait I thought Russian Subway Dogs was a free jam game?
It was but this new version has a ton of improvements, new art and new content, including irritating poodles and the dreaded RUSSIAN SUBWAY BEARS!

What will it be released on?
We’re still figuring that out but likely various mobile platforms since that suits RSD’s high-score driven arcade gameplay and simple controls.

When will it be released?
When it’s done.

Are you working on anything bigger for PC or consoles? 
We have another They Bleed Pixels sized game in very early development. We’ll be making announcements about it later this year.

Is there a trailer or press pack?
Not yet. We’re still tweaking art and gameplay. We’ll have trailers screenshots and the rest ready when we announce release platform(s).

Logo Design for Interstellar Selfie Station

Interstellar Selfie Station is an 8-bit style photo app created by game designer Christine Love (with a physical photo booth created by Nadine Lessio), that takes photos and animated gifs in a variety of bright 2-bit color pallets.

It’s a really neat stylish piece of software so I was happy to create the logo and mascot for it. The version at the top is the final design but I thought I’d include some of the early work in progress variations as well.  Be sure to click on the images and view them undistorted. Tumbler murders pixel art.

"Interstellar Selfie Station isn’t cute, it’s bold. It’s Ziggy Stardust, not Kyary; it shops in the Shibuya 109, not Takeshita Street.” - Logo design feedback from Christine Love.

Photo: Miguel Sternberg and They Bleed Pixels’ musician
DJ Finish Him (Shaun Hatton)

Using a PS4 Gamepad to Play They Bleed Pixels on the PC

I’ve been wanting to test the PS4 gamepad with They Bleed Pixels for awhile so today I picked one up and ran a few tests.  Good news is with a few quick tweaks it works and works well, especially if you’ve wanted to play with a good D-pad (honestly something the 360 gamepad lacks).

If you just connect the PS4 pad without installing anything you only get some limited directInput compatibility which won’t work with They Bleed Pixels and a lot of other modern games. You’ll need to install this XInput wrapper:

Use 1.1 Beta 3 or later if you want rumble and be sure to follow the instructions.

[We are in no way responsible for this wrapper. It worked for us but don’t blame us if it causes you trouble.]

Once that’s done load up They Bleed Pixels and switch movement to the D-pad in the options and you’re good to go! One thing to note is that since the motors in the PS4 are different then the 360’s the force feedback feels deeper and less sharp. You might want to turn that off if you find it distracting.

Just to head off any questions, NO this does not mean we’re porting TBP to the PS4. I just wanted to let folks know about another controller option available to them.

Update: if you do choose to use a PS4 pad, know that the bluetooth doesn't always play well with all devices so you may need to use it wired up via USB.

Live Pixel Painting at Toronto Long Winter with En Masse Tomorrow!

I’ll be painting (pixel art) with the En Masse collaborative art project tomorrow (Dec 13th, 2013) at Toronto Long Winter music and culture festival. If you’re in and around Toronto come out, catch some great music and watch me draw!  I won’t be the only game related person at the show, DrinkBox Studios have curated a bunch of indie games to play and I Am Robot and Proud from Sound Shapes will be performing live. Should be an awesome night.

This is actually the second time I’m drawing with En Masse.  The first was at Design Festa Gallery in Harajuku, Tokyo where I drew the 2-bit Clawed Girl you see in the photos above.  I had an amazing time, and it was one of the highlights of my 2012 Japan trip.

Want extra incentive? There’s a good chance I’ll be drawing something related to our next, as yet unannounced game tomorrow night!

Photo credits: Rupert Bottenberg, Jurie Manzarkowski

All Hallow's Eve Tea and Masquerade

If you’re looking for something to do in Toronto this Halloween may we suggest ALL HALLOW’S EVE TEA AND MASQUERADE at Bento Miso? They Bleed Pixels will be among several spooky local indie games available to play. Cover is $5 at the door. “Delightful drinks and tantalizing treats available for sale at the event.” All profits go to the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. 

More info here: https://bentomiso.com/events/all-hallows-eve-tea-and-masquerade

I get back from my epic Tokyo trip the day before and will likely be in attendance, confused and disoriented by massive jet lag and so very afraid.

They Bleed Pixels at Kaigai International Manga Fest in Tokyo - Oct 20th 2013!

We’re making it out to one last event in Japan before heading back to Canada. You’ll be able to find us (and pick up some rare TBP postcards, prints and buttons) at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) table at the Kaigai Manga Festival alongside several Canadian cartoonists and fellow Toronto indie dev Christine Love. It’s part of a larger event called Comitia which is jam packed with amazing original art. 

More info on Kaigai and TCAF’s involvement can be found here: 

Screenshot is from a quick and dirty tutorial translation we’ll have at our table. Big thanks to the folks at Playism for helping us out with that. Expect a full localized version of They Bleed PIxels from them sometime in 2014!

A Short Dance About Architecture (and Action Games)

A short game design microtalk on performance platformers and game controls I gave at the Tokyo Indie Underground event at 8bitcafe in Shinjuku (2013/09/18). Worth checking out if your interested in some of the thinking behind They Bleed Pixels.

Into my second week in Tokyo now and lots to write about including attending and exhibiting at Tokyo Game Show’s first indie game event (including a super confusing stage show I got to be a part of).  More soon!