Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Zehkiflorn



The paths of a lost fungal spore and a validation-seeking plastics factory worker gradually and disastrously converge as their ambitions bring them into contact with horrific aspects of humanity.

Zehkiflorn will be the first in a trilogy of films, with each film being vaguely inspired by a series of animated shorts that I created between 2007 and 2014 for the internet.

FAQ
Q: Are you seriously just remaking all your shit again?
A: Despite a few cosmetic similarities, Zehkiflorn has almost nothing to do with the SuperVillain series.

Q: What about SuperVillain 6?

Q: What about Rictus of Sock?
A: After Zehkiflorn, I'd like to use my ideas for Rictus in my second film project. Unlike Zehkiflorn, it will draw more heavily on the Sock series for inspiration.

Q: BUT I CAN'T WAIT FIFTY YEARS FOR THE CONCLUSION
A: Consider "Empire" to be a bad end where the destruction caused by the warring Gods prevented humanity from overcoming the crisis. More info buried in here. 

Q: Okay okay (NOT OKAY), is Sulek at least doing the music?
A: Nope, the film's contents are not something they want to be associated with. I don't want to rope any musicians into the eternal rollercoaster that is this film's incomprehensibly long production time, so I'm not specifically recruiting anyone at the moment.

Q: What's up with the website?
A: Besides it being just the neatest thing ever? For starters, it's still in beta, and we will add in more features over the next year (improved video player, embedded comic and news readers, new merchandise, 1990's mode for shitty computers, bug fixes, etc). It might not be terribly friendly with older browsers, but it is mobile compatible.

Q: I can't think for myself and therefore can't find anything on the new site?
A: Idiot proofing successful!

Q: Will we never see you again?
A: Bye!


Sunday, January 8, 2017

The SuperVillain Abortions

I'd like to talk about a huge mistake I made: SuperVillain 6. Originally advertised as coming out in 2011, the lingering promise of this sequel quickly proved to be hilariously or infuriatingly wrong depending on what type of fan you are. As previously mentioned, in a few days I'll be abandoning the internet and setting off to work on real films which means SuperVillain 6-10 get to join Codefenestration, ToastProphet, and Sezja in the dead project corpse furnace.


Way back when I only had whorish dreams of pumping out web-based episodes of series until they ran dry, I originally had the ambition of making five more SuperVillain cartoons solely on the rationale that "SuperVillain X" sounded like a cool title for a final SuperVillain short. As such, the plots were gimmicky and repetitive, even for a series that consisted of nothing but a little creature going around and hitting people with various objects. It got to the point where one plot outline was just SuperVillain on a plane that goes down on an island and it makes everyone's life hell during an already traumatic event. That's when I knew this had gotten out of hand and I needed to reel this crap in.


So the series was narrowed down to just SuperVillain 6 and 7, with SV7 being the final installment. For years the scripts have been rotting away on my computer, so I will summarize them here, accompanied by low effort scribblytimes.


SuperVillain 6
SuperVillain 6 is essentially an edgy re-skin of SuperVillain IV, a fact I realized during pre-production that really put me off the project. It concerns another BarfQuestion-type thing (named "OtherVillain" in the script) that lives in a junkyard and is obsessed, perhaps even erotically, with SuperVillain. Its den is lined with newspaper articles about SuperVillain, which this other villain lovingly caresses while breathing heavily. To this end, it has created a winged robot suit out of scrap metal in order to be just like its hero.


Meanwhile, SuperVillain sets up a bear trap in a changing station and wrecks havoc at a carnival by getting into a fight with a gang of alcoholic clowns. Fortunately this terrible concept is promptly exploded by OtherVillain who flies in, unleashing a barrage of lasers and missiles. Because these are things you can build with the contents of a junkyard.


SuperVillain is put off by this wanton destruction because there's nothing left to ruin, and so it leaves dejectedly. OtherVillain is saddened by the lack of acknowledgment from its hero and pursues SuperVillain, spreading destruction in its wake and ruining all of SuperVillain's fun. SuperVillain finally has enough of this and attacks its fan in retaliation, only to take a claw in the eye. OtherVillain is horrified at what it has done, but is also seemingly aroused by the blood on its claws, shuddering as it licks them off. This is an "improved version" of the script, as in the original they only fought it out in pure territorial rage. I eventually made a more "improved version" of this script by crushing it into a ball and throwing it in the trash. However even in ball form it was still too edgy and somehow managed to cut my bin in half and I had to buy a new one.


SuperVillain sleeps off the facial impaling while OtherVillain destroys the city. We cut to a man with a spatula-sized facial scar watching the news. He gets up and opens a high tech closet, inside which is the Hero suit from "SuperVillain II". The Hero arrives on the scene and fights OtherVillain.


Meanwhile, SuperVillain has some bad dreams about being bored/burning to death and wakes up, having apparently gone through the "SuperVillain IV" emotional arc again where it decides to get back into business despite the recent defeat. SuperVillain joins the fray as the Hero is about to win, and the Hero offers SuperVillain his hand in friendship. SuperVillain instead tugs the Hero into the path of OtherVillain's oncoming attack, and spends the rest of the fight using the Hero as a human shield to soak up OtherVillain's ammunition. With the Hero out of commission, the two villains enter a nearby shopping center where SuperVillain amputates OtherVillain's gatling gun tail with a heavy duty paper cutter.


Turns out OtherVillain somehow also built a flying fortress under the junkyard because ??!?. The fortress enters the city and begins destroying it some more, but SuperVillain piggybacks on the retreating OtherVillain and lands atop the fortress to continue this bloated and completely disinteresting fight. Meanwhile the Hero presses a button on his suit and turns purple, giving him the ability to shoot a solidifying, volatile gas. BECAUSE ??!?. All three duke it out on the roof of the flying fortress, with OtherVillain getting sucked into a jet turbine by a tape measurer. Somehow the Hero ends up dangling off the ledge of the fortress, and SuperVillain kicks his fingers off, sending the Hero plummeting to his death. 


We cut to a "SuperVillain Support Group" which consists of a lot of bandaged people and kids suffering from shaken baby syndrome. SuperVillain shows up and terrorizes the PTSD victims by pouring salt into a burn victim's full body cast. And with that, this disgustingly excessive and utterly redundant cavalcade mercifully comes to an end. After three separate drafts all made with the intent of making this less generic, I hate this thing more than ever and am very glad I dropped it in favor of Empire of Sock. Unfortunately it is far from the worst idea I had for this series…


SuperVillain 7
Winter has come and humanity has finally had enough. Fork Laboratories (the organization from Grumatorium) is created by the government with the intent of putting an end to SuperVillain and general BarfQuestion related destruction as a whole. The military is deployed in full force and SuperVillain must escape its apartment building while fending off tanks with a gas station squeegee.


Replacing the trademark cardboard mask for a more bulletproof one made out of an ammo crate, SuperVillain escapes the military blockade only to be greeted by Fork Laboratories' secret weapon: a multicolored nudibranch-like mutation that absorbs all living matter. It has been busy eating lab workers, so it is now an amalgamation of human limbs. Because of its voracious nature, the Lab has brought in a portable nuclear reactor/emitter/MacGuffin to suppress and guide the creature.


Of course SuperVillain eventually ends up behind the controls of the reactor and starts blasting the monster with nuclear energy because we are miles above the shark at this point. The deus-ex-machina reactor goes into meltdown while in use for some reason, probably because it (like us) wants out of this horrible project, and promptly explodes.


The evacuated townspeople watch the mushroom cloud from a nearby cliffside, when a flaming scrap of SuperVillain's tie drifts through the air and wraps around a kid's face, sending him screaming off the cliff. The end.


Well, you're all welcome for not making these. Hopefully your confidence in me hasn't been shaken too hard. There were a scant few ideas from these scripts that were worth saving, and have made their way into a future project. I've omitted them from this post for this reason, and also because it makes these plot summaries look even worse. LET US ALL HATE ALONG TOGETHER.


It should be apparent by now that I intended for all of my web content to be part of the same timeline (check it out while it's still available), and even more apparent that I want a fresh start from this mess where I can fully explore my ideas and do some actual world-building without the restraint of this pre-existing and poorly explained continuity quagmire. You might notice a few loose ends on the site here and there for the next few days while we switch over to the new website design, including some pre-release anniversary content (like this post and the timeline for example) if you hunt around a little. I'll see you all one final time on or around the 12th!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Telegram from the Titanic

For the last few years I've known and said I wanted to make a film. A real film. Something I can take on tour when it's finished and stand on it's own, outside my jumble of web content. This, of course, causes a bit of a problem concerning what to do with my internet audience. The herculean effort required to even attempt something on this scale is terrifying, and that naturally means fewer (than the already sparse) updates I can put out. The fans will feel abandoned, but to stay engaged with them takes valuable time away from the project I really care about.

The first draft of this post was written yesterday and it was very optimistic in nature. I promised to invest great effort to create audience outreach tools for BarfQuestion's 10th Anniversary, such as a Twitter account to keep everyone posted with lots of free content and extras (production updates, animation PSD files, more frame giveaways, preview clips). It would take time away from production, and even though audience feedback only comprises 5-8% of my job satisfaction, I'd suck it up and do it anyway for the greater good.

And then the election results came in. From the collective prolapsed anus of America that mistook the presidential election for a reality show, to the stuck up idealists who voted third party or "protested" by not voting, to the religious who voted for the actual anti-christ just to preserve bundles of cells less complex than the organisms on their dinner plates, to the indifferent and apathetic 40% who shirked their responsibility to vote altogether in favor of continuing to waste oxygen, to the liberals who failed to acknowledge trending issues (such as the rising problems posed by Islam) and in doing so allowed President Caligula to have a monopoly for his barbaric "solutions" that will condemn countless Muslim Americans to a horrible fate: I realized that I found the prospect - of continuing to provide free entertainment to anyone who very well may have contributed to the destruction of everything this country has strived for over the last several decades - to be completely repulsive.

When I'm already struggling with how to balance a feature length project against dumping more content into the internet, this shit really makes me want to just drop the internet plate altogether. I would just feel bad for my foreign audience who already has more than enough America-related problems headed their way.

The terrorists are not immigrants or people who follow a hate-religion different from America's favorite hate-religion. Terrorists are fat, sagging goblins that spew hateful lies to make us afraid of our own country for personal gain. Fuck this country and the American people. I am more ashamed to be one of your number right now than I am of that one time I tried asking out a Hmong girl with a valentine written in Japanese because I thought the calligraphy looked cool without realizing how horrifyingly racist that would come off as.


FUCK.

Friday, August 5, 2016

After 10,000 years, it's free!

Back in the distant lands of 2010, Danielle found an online tutorial about how to code ActionScript games in Flash. The tutorial instructed the reader on how to make a game in which you, a paddle, use a ball to destroy apples in a tree. The very most basic of brick breaker clones. Having completed the project, I saw her excitement in having coded something. And I decided in that moment to obliterate that small happiness forever.


"What if we made it more elaborate?" I said while lightly tapping in the first nail. "You could be a little guy knocking down a building! What if we added procedurally generated levels of a building with cutscenes in between them?". Meeting with little resistance I decided to query further, sweeping my hand along a shelf of antiques. "How about adding different kinds of bricks and building materials?" This, of course, destroyed the fancy procedural generation script that had already been completed. I either did not or could not recognize the shattered finery on the rug. More. There must be more.


"Racket physics! And we'll need new levels! We'll make new levels to replace all that hard work you just did! While you're at it, how about we add construction workers that call the police on you! Oh! Yes, we should have multiple game over conditions! We'll need a health meter, and power ups to go with it like buckets and sandwiches. And let's add more level designs while we're at it!" Unable to accept the fact that this would be just another brick breaker game, no matter how many bells and whistles we duct taped to it, I proceeded to push us deeper into madness. "Let's add something besides rocks that you can hit at the building!" Having seen the resulting rock re-skins, I could not let this scab go unpicked. "What if they each did unique things, like broke or exploded? Let's put in multi-ball functionality and an inventory bar while we're at it.
How about a remote control that brings in a wrecking ball? Wouldn't it be cool to fight a UFO with a wrecking ball?"


Years had passed at this point and the once simple tutorial game had already been reprogrammed from scratch, including several code revamps to handle all the new ideas I was polluting this once innocent project with. But my nagging suggestions and torrent of new assets had only increased with time. Three mini-games were planned and the groundwork laid out for them. More bosses. The collectibles system. Easter eggs, including a cheat system and a new hidden game mode within it. Remastered the cutscenes. Made a new cutscene gallery to replace the old ugly one. Added corrupted cutscene files to the game which replaced all the sprites with cutscene frames and almost irreparably broke the game. The level auto-complete system. Randomly generated countdowns. Procedurally generated room interiors. An actual ending to the game, instead of an endless loop of levels. More cutscenes. Throwing out of the previous groundwork for the three mini-games and adding the Demolition Carnival in their place. Unique cutscenes for all the bosses.


Neither of us wanted anything to do with it at this point. A spaghettian titan of tangled code and jumbled ideas, desperately trying to be something more than the uninspired monster it was. Meanwhile, Danielle had surprised me with Cardiac Snowdrift in 2011 which was everything Hitting Stuff at a Building was not - concise, addictive, and quaint. With Cardiac Snowdrift out in the wilderness, HSaaB had become even more reprehensible. What was the point of this mutant hearse of a training-wheels game when Cardiac had totally supplanted it in that role? We did not know. We did not care. Hitting Stuff at a Building rotted in the depths of our hard drives for years, untouched and unloved.


But here we are. We finally pulled it together in 2016 and made a concentrated effort to finish it. I am still coming to terms with the realization that I am a horrible, horrible project manager and our first substantial game will be just one of millions of derivative indie-games that are over-saturating the market. This trend of nostalgia fixation and subverting retro game tropes is something I desperately don't want to be a part of. Having grown up without video games, I had very lofty ideas about what video games actually were, and when I finally got to start extensively playing them 5-6 years ago, I was disappointed with how limited most of them actually are. Seed of Destruction is more along the lines of what we'd like to make, but we played it "small" and "safe" with Cardiac Snowdrift and HSaaB in order to get a handle on how to make games ourselves. But we've learned a lot, and thanks to her trucking through this programming boot camp hell, Danielle's grasp on coding is now so high that her career is moving up as a result. We've come away from this a lot more experienced than before and that's what really matters at the end of the day.


When asked for comment, Danielle added "FUCK FLASH RRRHAAABBGGLKKKGGRAAAH". Needless to say, we will thankfully never be working in Flash again. Our next project is being built in Javascript and HTML5 and it has been phenomenally easier to work with. It doesn't hurt that I've learned to plan out the full scope of a project in advance, as to prevent another catastrophic idea cascade. Meanwhile, I'm working hard on getting the Zehkiflorn reveal trailer ready for BarfQuestion's 10th anniversary on January 14th, 2017. It's going to be a huge update.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Sunday

Edit from the future:
This post was made, somehow, in a more innocent time. A time in which I thought encouraging constructive discussion and public awareness about religious extremism could be helpful to take power away from scare-mongering tyrants like Trump and the growing threat of the alt-right. Sadly, this never came to pass and tribalistic fear won out in the end. Now that we are saddled with Hitler 2.0 and his large following of spineless cretins who are terrified of anyone from a different gender or race, we no longer have the luxury we had before to peacefully criticize endangered minorities.

While my views on religion (all religions) has not changed, I do not want these insidious supremacists to mistake my past words for an endorsement of their repulsive, adult middle-schooler views and mentality. Protecting Muslims and immigrants is our first priority. When and if we return to a society that is not eagerly poised for another holocaust, I will be first in line to take the piss out of Mohammed and his rival prophets from other religions. But right now we have to be a united front against the violent animal bigotry that is sweeping the globe.

If you quote or link to any of this post, anything I have said, and try to claim I'm on the side of bigots like you - I'm not. I abhor you and everything you stand for. I have come to detest some of my earlier (especially commissioned) work for its bleeding heart "don't let the man keep you down!" messages and am further mortified to see that the establishment of privileged whites seems to have adopted my message as encouragement for them to break down the shaky scaffolding we've painstakingly constructed to cage in our species' tribalistic, xenophobic urges. To you the Trump supporter, you the Brexit supporter, you the nationalist cancer - you are not the oppressed. You are and have always been the establishment of humanity's worst aspects that better people have given their lives to fight against. I have never spoken for you and will not ever do so.


With that said, on with the post...

In the wake of Sunday's tragedy it is imperative, especially as artists, that we look closely at this issue. This was something I had previously assumed was obvious, as years ago the internet gleefully took to causes like Draw Mohammed Day in defense of free speech. But the death threats, torture, and executions in response to people practicing their basic human rights have continued to intensify. The Charlie Hebdo shooting, the Paris massacre, and Sunday's mass killing as well as countless atrocities committed against human rights in the middle east are things that we cannot just willfully ignore the motives behind. But here we are.


I understand that many people, the majority in fact, that follow an Abrahamic faith do not actively practice the contents of their respective holy book. Few Christians these days have even read the Bible in its entirety. Which is good, because that shit is unjustifiably evil in a lot of places. Even the oft-quoted New Testament contains some crazy shit which culminates in the balls-to-the-wall global murder orgy that is Revelations. A balls-to-the-wall global murder orgy that just so happens to be one of the primary inspirations for Empire of Sock.

Heaven on Earth: the descent of New Jerusalem
The credits sequence was meant to draw a lot of parallels to the Bible, showing Sock sacrificing a version of itself to itself in order to appease itself and then slumbering underground awaiting its second coming (which would herald the apocalypse). The cult is shown divided, and members wearing attire and symbols suggestive of the three major Abrahamic faiths are depicted murdering each other over their religious differences.


The idea was that the Cult of Sock inspired these modern day faiths, which are all watered down but still occasionally batshit nuts versions of the Cult's religion. The underlying theme of the Sock series is that religion is inherently dangerous, devalues actual life by promising an eternal afterlife, and reduces people to the playthings of Gods- causing more problems than it solves. Hence the other Gods showing up to combat Sock's destruction, only to use the victims of Sock's wrath as literal ammunition in their crusade. It's how religions have functioned for millennia.


People (Judeo-Christian and Muslim alike) are happy to ignore the shadow their religion casts over the world and pretend that their holy books filled with glorified judgement, rape, and murder are somehow metaphors about unconditional love and forgiveness. In some ways this is a good thing - despite the inherent hypocrisy entailed in such an action - as by redefining what these religions stand for, we are able to move forward as a more peaceful and more forgiving species. However, when these hate crimes and atrocities are still being committed, you cannot just turn your head and write these 'outlier incidents' off. This kind of deplorable behavior IS what religion in its base form encourages. We rightfully do not give Nazis or the KKK a free pass just because most of their members haven't killed anybody recently and they've been a largely nonviolent organization for some time. If you stand with a hate group, you are supporting that hate group.


If you are Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Scientologist, Mormon, whatever - if you can't account for the immoral things your religion preaches and encourages others to do, if you don't support the crimes committed by your peers, you need to find another way. People have been making splinter factions of religions over petty disagreements for ages. You can too. Redefine and reclaim your faith by creating a new one or drop it altogether. But by doing nothing and pretending the problem doesn't exist, you are condoning these massacres and the hateful beliefs that give birth to them. The exact same thing goes for people of different beliefs that do nothing and make excuses on other religions' behalf.

Sock, like religion, looks sweet and harmless on the surface, an object of comfort- but just below the skin dwells a seething mess of insanity.

LGBTQ, artists, liberals, anyone remotely forward thinking, this is our problem too. In an age where someone like Trump is honestly running for president, denial is terrifying. If we are too afraid to discuss these issues, if we are too afraid of looking politically incorrect, we feed fear-mongering tyrants like him. People are scared and desperate and if it means committing revenge killings against Muslims or electing a stubby fingered Hitler-wannabe like Trump, they will because no one else is willing to talk about this issue and it drives them to heinous extremes.


Discuss, make art, raise awareness. It's pretty much our only responsibility as artists, aside from drawing dicks on things. Or you can just accuse me of having bad taste in headwear and maybe of being a hateful racist for good measure because this is the internet after all and when in Rome.

Illustrating hotel Bibles for the greater good

Thursday, May 26, 2016

BarfQuestion International Development Conference


So Hitting Stuff at a Building reached a state of completion for the seventh or eighth time, and then I was like WAIT A MINUTE all the bosses need cutscenes! and then all production on the books ground to a halt and I lost a week's worth of work on the trailer because of it and then I worked straight through most of the weekend on it and sad. I am the worst. The worst director.


While I pulp my face against this demon of my own making for next to no reason, the coding remains basically completed which frees up the programming queue. I don't know where queue gets off having all of these fucking vowels but here we are. 


What that means is that the new website I blew several months last year making assets for is being coded. That is to say, Danielle is tearing through it with an inhuman fervor and doing an incredible job. Now I understand that news about a website design sounds not so impressive because websites who cares everyone just uses social media move on already and accept the heat death of human imagination already right WRONG. I don't want to sound conceited or anything, but YOU'RE SUPER WRONG. Seeing it all coming together and being able to play with all the little dynamic elements has been a really exciting experience (and there are so many more yet to import). I had previously hated mobile everything, but the mobile version is way more fun to play with than the desktop version. The ability to manually poke and prod all the squishy things turned out to be really engaging. It's looking to be far more playground than website at this point.


It's still in the very early stages, but we'd really really like for it to launch during BarfQuestion's upcoming 10th Anniversary Week in January. That's also the timeframe I'd like to launch the Zehkiflorn trailer in. But now that I've speculated a release date I've cursed both of them to rot forever in development hell. Oh and there's going to be a 10th Anniversary week in January. I'm lining content up for it now including the aforementioned two projects and maybe a 24 hour animation stream (I HATE STREAMS)!?


Friday, March 11, 2016

Side Projects Assemble! Ganglotron is on the scene!

It has come to my attention that Cafepress quietly disposed of their publishing service in hopes that no one would notice. Which means that the Encyclopedia Retardium is no longer in print. Which means extra despair because I lost the pdf used to print it ages ago. Which means that the thirty or so of you that bought a copy are now in possession of an extremely rare item. But the fact that less than thirty of them sold kind of indicates how worthless that status is.


So, my own personal copy has volunteered to undergo open-air invasive bowel surgery in BarfQuestion Films' first ever attempt at cloning a perfect child!* I am attempting to make the second edition as close to the original as possible, and it is proving to be incredibly difficult. Not on a technical level, but simply because the contents are proving to be woefully unfunny. I have not touched this book in years and it has not aged well, but I suppose that is like saying afterbirth does not age well. The more I think about it, the more appropriate the description of the comic being the afterbirth of my animation career becomes. As a result, I am torn. On one hand I want to charge as little as the new publishing service will allow as a pre-emptive apology, but on the other hand people might take the lower price as encouragement to buy it over the vastly superior volume 2 so I should charge monstrous amounts for it instead. Either way, I will also be releasing the book electronically as a free ebook download.


Oh, what's that about volume 2? Tales of BarfQuestion volume 2 is on the way! If I'm already wasting a bunch of time on compiling one book, why not two? I was going to wait until Syphilis Rice chapters 1-3 were done and theme the next book around them, but there's an entire book's worth of material to cover before we'd even get to chapter 2. I think I'll just withhold Syphilis Rice #1 and save it for the future third and final comic anthology.


With two books on the way in the coming year, I'm also excited to announce that Hitting Stuff at a Building is in the homestretch. No really, I'm serious. We finally stopped procrastinating and started plowing through play-testing. The final bugs are desperately running for cover from the UNHOLY LABOR STORM we are raining down on their filthy nonsensities.


On top of all this, I'm still trucking through the Zehkiflorn trailer. There's probably five? production blocks and I'm mostly done penciling in the first one (plus a bit of inking as well). I've been recovering from some persistent health issues that have limited me to working on remastering content for the books for a week or two, but I'm ready to get back into animating full time. Once the books are finished, it'll free up my spare time so I can also get back to remastering my old films as well.


Two books, a game, various remastered projects, the stray comic here and there, and maybe maybe maybe a feature film trailer oh no please don't give estimates we've talked about estimates you know the trouble this gets you into don't make me say it supervillain 6 2011 stop screaming you brought this on yourself biting me isn't going to solve anything

TWENTY SIXTEEN IS LOOKING TO BE OKAY.

* The pursuit of creating perfect children is both futile and impossible and the practice is in no way endorsed by BarfQuestion Films, BarfQuestion Games, or its subsidiaries on the scientifically demonstrable basis that children are fucking horrible.