PAX South, and Working in the Growing Louisiana Indie Scene

Welcome home from PAXSouth 2017, energized fans and tired devs!

Colton and I weren’t able to make it this year.  Oops. With our big move to Osaka it proved to be a bit troublesome, but Necroball, a game we spent the last year working on with King Crow Studios, got all polished up and reappeared, so I figured I would recap on our visit from 2016.

A quick introduction on how I started working on games from an area not well known for game development: in 2002, Louisiana legislature passed a tax incentive for technology media and entertainment in order to help bolster the state’s economy.  Here’s some dated articles from Forbes and Fortune about it, but I can say that during some of my visits to Baton Rouge we had a chance to meet some folks who were working on American Horror Story and developers who had worked on beloved retro games such as Boogerman and A Bard’s Tale.  Louisiana is getting the Hollywood treatment, as movies such as 10 Cloverfield Lane (starring one of my favorite actresses, Mary Elizabeth Winstead) had a setting that was just outside of Lake Charles. As for games, we have an EA in Baton Rouge and a Gameloft in New Orleans, as well as a healthy mix of independent developers, so there is certainly growth. This is really something special around here, you’ll know it to be true if you’ve ever been to Louisiana.


In all cases, you are driving over this lake to get to the next city.
Welcome to the swamp. There’s not much to do.

Colton and I were lucky enough to work outside of an indie development incubator called the Level Up Lab, which is where we had the chance to work with and meet some inspiring figures in the industry. This gave us the wonderful opportunity to attend a PAX, and my first time and we were demoing a game that I had worked on, so this was a pretty excellent double whammy off the bucket list… I think I may have a high luck stat or something. Here’s some photos of our 2016 PAX set up:

 I made some necromancer jokes because I animated the dead
An awesome promotional display of Quest of Souls illustrated by none other than my friend and fellow Lake Charles local, comic artist Johnny Segura III.
I took a few blurry pictures of cosplayers I met.
Since I am quite shy around cosplayers, so that also means miserable photos. It’s like meeting Mickey Mouse as a kid and then screaming as you forget basic skills. This cosplayer goes by Inkling girl!
I like this costume. I don’t even know what character this is. Freedom Planet? Just kidding… 
we talked to almost a thousand cool people all weekend! 

Did anyone see us last year at PAXSouth or our Necroball display this year? Did you take photos? I’d love to see them.

Thanks for reading!


Cherry

8bit Cafe in Shinjuku, Tokyo!

When Colton and I went to Tokyo in 2014, I had a few must-visit locations on my list

The meat of the list included the Capcom Bar, Super Potato, and Sunshine City, but there were two that I had to see: The Ghibli Museum and the 8bit Cafe.

I can be a bit of lush at times so I just love “Barcades” and other nifty themed bars. I had seen pictures of this place floating around on the internet and was pleasantly surprised to find out it served alcohol instead of coffee. Don’t get me wrong, I love coffee, but maybe it’s just that 8bit Cafe rolls off of the lips better than 8bit Bar. We had already made it to the Capcom Bar earlier in the week, and it was our last day in Japan. We had missed our appointment at the Ghibli Museum because we meandered onto the wrong bus in Mitaka (yes, we had to make an appointment to go to a museum). After a half an hour of watching stops go by we realized that we either missed our stop or were on the wrong bus. I got up and had a confusing exchange with the bus driver, who instructed us to turn around. We disembarked and started wandering around a residential area until a very confident Shiba Inu barked us towards the bus stop and we made it back to the station. Thanks Shibechan.


This wasn’t the only event follied by sheer gaijin bewilderment. We discovered a swanky cosplay karaoke establishment in Akihabara but when we arrived I couldn’t figure out the kanji on the check-in forms and hurried out the door. We also missed our Tsukiji fish market tour because I was having issues with our American bank card because I’m a blubbering tourist. I was trying to get money from Lawson and Family Mart. Don’t do this. Go to the 7-11 like someone who knows what the hell they are doing.


“五 2 7-11 4 円, ¥o ¥o ¥o ¥o”
-can you decipher my rap lyrics?

The point I’m not eager to make is that it was now our last day in Japan and we hadn’t yet made it to the 8bit Cafe. Coming from Lake Charles, we only have two skyscrapers.  It’s hard to get lost. Imagine taking us small town babies and plopping us into one of the largest metropolis areas on Earth, and try to think of an outcome that isn’t watching us burn a loop walking through the city. Thankfully we were renting out an Airbnb near the easy-to-navigate Ikebukuro Station with some amazing hosts that invited us to get some totally Oishii Tsukemen. They brought along another fellow American traveler, someone much better at navigating the metal playground that is Shinjuku: A Los Angeles native named Alex.

I missed the name of this place, but it’s the 新宿店, meaning it’s the Shinjuku location, so there could be another one somewhere in the city. 

I loved this Tsukemen. It was spicy, thick, and had a sophisticated chili flavor


Shinjuku

After our hosts retired back home and we gained a new party member, we discovered that the 8bit Cafe was open for another 2 hours. Thus we began our journey.

 

With our new destination in mind, we tried using google maps. We perimetered the area around the Shinjuku San-Chome station for about an hour as a result, and after walking up many a mysterious staircase and elevator we were about to call it quits. We had 45 minutes left until close when Alex finally found it.  A small sign beside a narrow staircase in the ShinjukuQ Building. It’s been a while now, so I’m sorry that I can’t give great directions on how we found it. It felt like a stroke of luck.  We definitely wouldn’t have found it if we didn’t have Alex in our party.

Ok, so I can get a burger on 2F and a drink on 5F but what the hell is happening on 3F

We walked up.  I might have only been tired from trying to find it intially, but Japanese stairs are pretty steep so it felt like the most excruciating five floor climb in history. You might burn off the calories in your drink walking here and back, because this is what it feels like to ambush Shinra HQ.  The hard work pays off because the interior is retro heaven.

 this place is filled with video gaming memorabilia

Alex, the victorious explorer at our destination

Colton’s pictures look slightly better

guuuhh the coasters are too cute, they transcend worlds

It wasn’t busy; we were lucky. I ordered a Bahamut Zero, which was a shot of sake and gin with lemon, if I remember correctly. It was quite strong, so it makes sense as to why it was named after a pretty excellent Bahamut. Colton ordered a Dr. Mario, and my sloppy self ordered a second drink, which was a daily special called Knights of the Round. I really love Final Fantasy 7, by the way. The drink tasted like a milky green tea matcha with sake. Weaak. I don’t really know the connection on this one, but it was still very delicious, and very Japanese. I almost ordered another. I think it may be a drink that’s contents change depending on what is available.

If you were considering going, I can’t recommend this place enough. The time spent looking for the 8bit Cafe was totally worth just the cool shots we got of Colton wearing the Power Glove!

being a retro techno gangster boss

I am enthralled to say that I made it here.  I mean, look at how genki we are.
I would say 100%, 10/10, ★★★★★ would get drunk again


Surely Colton agrees

There was a day when I was pretty miserable at taking selfies, this was one of them. 

Have you been to the 8bit Cafe? What kinds of drinks did you try? Definitely look out for it in Shinjuku if you are in Tokyo, because the pictures here don’t do the 8bit Cafe justice!

Oyasuminasai and Happy Travels,


Cherry

 

Necroball Launch!

So for the bulk of last year I had the awesome opportunity to test my skills as an artist, as Colton and I worked on two games with King Crow Studios, one for game called Necroball, connected to another named Quest of Souls. Today I am excited to announce that as recently as of today, 1/10/2017, @ 12am Central Time (US), Necroball is now available on Steam!

It’s like graveyard Foosball with a dash of tower defense, with 4 playable characters.  It’s meant to be played cooperatively and can get hella competitive (from what I witnessed watching playtesters at PAXSouth 2016).  We demoed Necroball originally as a mini-game to Quest of Souls, which is still in development.  We beefed it up a bit by adding some new minions, play mechanics, achievements and playable characters, with more content as it phases out of Early Access.

Here’s a gif I cobbled together of Brunhilde from Quest of Souls.
She also makes an appearance in Necroball!

You can play the demo for Quest of Souls (as well as a primitive version of Necroball) for free on Steam

Check out Necroball Here!

Thanks to all that supported us during the dev cycle!

Cherry
P.S.- Today is also my little sis’s 14th Birthday! Happy Birthday Sam!! ^0^

 

Ludum Dare 37

Last month I participated in my second Ludum Dare, a weekend game creation challenge based off of a loose theme.

This run’s theme is One Room, so I worked with another small indie team in Louisiana, Raconteur Games (creators of games such as Close Order and Evangeline) on our one room game and we had a real blast creating it.

It’s a short story featuring a shop keep named Sam who lives in a town obsessed with death, building their own tombs throughout their lives.


A mock-up favorite I created. Unfortunately, it’s not real dialogue.

We had a lot of fun creating this one. It’s more of a graphic novel, but we did win some points for coolness! Check out our entry here:
The Tomb

I love participating in Ludum Dare.  If you are looking for an artist for an upcoming Ludum Dare, feel free to contact me on Twitter. I’m usually happy to join if I am free.

Thanks for reading,

Cherry

The Capcom Bar in Kabukichou

I managed to completely book a reservation at the Capcom Bar in Japanese.

It was a fun experience, I learned that the Japanese word for reservation is yoyaku(予約、よやく)and that Japan loves it’s novelty bar and restaurants.

We arrived at the bar early and browsed the selection of fancy eateries and desserts on displays outside of the building.

かっこいい!

blurry ftw

these square cakes continue to mesmerize me

We went inside and waited in a eerily quiet concession room. I could not figure out why it was so quiet. We were in the busiest district in Tokyo, there were a lot of nice things everywhere, and nobody was here. We decided to sit down and wait.

eventually an attendant came out of a hallway and started calling names to line up and giving out menus, with an assigned seat. I was trying so hard to understand the spoken Japanese that when they switched to heavily accented English I didn’t quite understand. Thankfully Colton understood and we made it into the bar without too many gaijin fumbles.


down here

This place is awesome!!


They were heavy on Monster Hunter displays, most likely promoting the new game


ah, yes, fantastic. Booze.

There was a pretty extensive menu filled with various Capcom characters. Everything was delicious~

English Menu!!!

You order your food when your server arrives with your table number and a form. Some dishes come with performances or surprises.


?Leon Kennedy?

They will usually reclaim the toys after you get to play with them for a few minutes. This is would be a pretty nice way to sell statues, I might add.


Colton got the T-Virus drink!

Injecting the Brain: Photography Fail

with better details

We gave ourselves permission to splurge it up on food here. We ordered as many dishes as we wanted, like fat, fat Americans. They were worth it due to the fun, gimmicky nature of most of the dishes.

Wow, Colton’s drink glows!

One of these Takoyakis are a Wasabi Takoyaki. Russian Roulette, bitches

This was a dish inspired from Sengoku Basara, it’s marinated octopus slices arranged to look like Sakura. This was one of my favorite dishes, flavor wise. The tako was tender and a little tangy.

in case you were wondering, yes, I did get the Ace Attorney onion rings.

The onion rings were served with ketchup, mayo, and a spicy sauce. It also came with a hush puppy and a decorative nori, which we admired and played with a little!

Objection!


This one came with a bit of a live show that I unfortunately couldn’t understand. We didn’t get it until the end of the meal though!


We ordered an Okami inspired pasta dish as well as a brain shaped cake, but we forgot to take pictures before we ate it…  too many drinks! Thank Nippon for the subway!


Capcom Bar paper dispenser

THERE IS A REAL E-TANK HERE

Crazy cool decor, I think the fish tank display might change with new promotions

After we ate and paid, we had the opportunity to buy souvenirs. We were just happy with the food and left, and shortly an attendant chased us outside and gave us a couple of decorative coasters with various Capcom characters on them! I love the service industry in Japan, they are usually overeager to serve and find great satisfaction in hospitality. The hospitality of the Japanese always inspires me to be a better person.

After the meal, we walked around Kabukichou to burn off some calories and found a few cool looking establishments and an arcade.

 I wanted to see the Tank Girls!
The Robot Restaurant! We’ll be back here later!


seems to be a maid cafe with mini-live shows and all you can drink specials.

A cool looking staircase. Does it go somewhere shady? Seems to be a bar.

There was something about this building with Goku yelling in glasses and a red suit
Kintaro “Salary man’s Corner” renting DVDs and private booths? Hmmm….
 Bar Psy had some really cool art on their logo… I wanted to go in so badly! We weren’t good for anymore drinks so we skipped it.

There were a cornucopia of things to do in Kabukichou. It is the red light district, so even though Japan is a safe country, the Yakuza run the bulk of Kabukicho at night so it’s best to be on your guard. You will see a lot of host and hostess bars here, and apparently they are pretty pricey for the average person. We didn’t go to one, but if you know Japanese there are probably a few that allow foreigners if you wanted to check them out; I just wouldn’t mess around in any shady establishments here. You can also find an impressive block of Love Hotels on the Shin Okubo side. We stayed in one called Hotel Venus on our last night in Tokyo and it was roomy and beautiful. Love Hotels are pretty amazing, and I’ll have to make an entry about them soon!
Thanks for hanging out in Kabukichou with us!

じゃあ~

Cherry

“What is 8-Bit City?” & Chasing the Retro Dream

I quit my dead-end job and traveled the U.S. looking for a perfect place to relocate. The journey turned into a passion.

I am an artist. I paint, sew, draw, animate, design, and imagine. I love retro games because I watched the technology grow with me, and I associate entire years with what games I played, as well as a love for reinterpreting limited graphics with my art. Because of this I have an interest in gaming memorabilia, as well as a modest collection of retro games.

 I currently live in Lake Charles, Louisiana with my husband and frequent co-worker, Colton, and my 5-year old Boston Terrier, Buster. Colton and I both share a passion for gaming nostalgia, technology, art, food and travel. Sometimes it even dictates our life decisions and destinations, hence the name, 8-Bit City. It’s everywhere I want to go.

Early Logo Concept

I was only supposed to live in Lake Charles for two years, but I stayed for 8. The city itself has a small town feel and a Louisiana charm that sits you down in front of a big, steaming ice chest full of boiled red creatures called “Mud Bugs”, hands you a large plastic tray and a Bud Light (or a glass of sweet tea if you’re “the one not drinkin'”), and swears themselves silly before inviting you to church in the morning. What I’m trying to say, is that the people here are pretty unique and possibly mad as hatters. Also, for some reason I married one of them because I just happened to like those Mud Bugs. I decided to settle down here as there was a nice Play n’ Trade selling a few old games and an old Arcade where I could get my retro fix. Well, eventually the mad hatters nix’ed them and now both of them are gone. I was devastated. So now it’s time for greener pastures.

After I made sure that I bagged a good one that can make me some cajun food on the road, we started slow by taking yearly trips home to my St. Louis suburb to sate my low-resolution hunger.


nice try self, but no ginger

In St. Louis we have these amazing used game and hobby stores called Slackers.  New games, old games, comics, movies, collectibles, CD, DVD, Blu-Ray… They have EVERYTHING.


Even Wonder Woman. 

So the Slackers chain is one of my favorite things about St. Louis. I’ve been buying rare retro games and systems from them for years, and the quality is always great (they actually work)! Colton and I always save up for this part of the trip and come home with caches of retro games. I bought my copy of Secret of Mana here, as well as gaggles of games I never thought I’d see again that I loved as a kid. You can even browse Slacker’s merchandise and buy from them online. The St. Louis area is pretty retro-collector friendly. If you are ever in town, be sure to check out Vintage Vinyl in neighboring University City. They don’t sell video games but they have an amazing selection of Vinyl and CD and are known to have many indie and local performances, as well as complimentary stickers at the check out. I always take a few and stick them all over everything!


here’s one on my CD binder

It was kind of funny because I originally wanted to relocate due to the climate and poor shopping and entertainment options in my city, and even as things are starting to look up now, I still feel myself yearning for adventure. Due to a few tragedies in my husband’s family and distance I have from mine, we realized that we had little holding us back from going wherever we wanted. Over the span of 2 years we took many roadtrips across the west, looking for a place to relocate. We went to Portland, Seattle, Denver, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, So. Cal, El Paso, Oklahoma City, Baton Rouge, New Orleans and even stopped in many others.  In Beaverton (just outside of Portland) there was a pretty nifty second hand game store called Retro Game Trader.

This beauty

This Super Mario 3 themed pixel art map of the area really impressed me!

If you happen to follow this blog I will write about my favorite retro-gaming destinations during my travels. To any readers, are there any awesome retro gaming attractions in your city or town? I don’t buy as much as I used to these days but I would love to make a future must-see destination list.

Love-Peace-Retro,


Cherry