News

Commissions and Update

Tue, 13 Jun 17 02:24:53 +0000

So uh, how about all those updates and stuff I said was coming.

It’s been pretty crazy with work and different situations going on, normal progress on the game and album got kind of derailed, but on a different note, I finally buckled down and got a small commission portfolio together!

Hopefully this will help me take steps to becoming more independent and be able to do more art and the things I love, so if you want to support me visit http://www.animerrill.com/commissions for details if you’re interested in a commission or share around on social media!

Thank you for the patience, hopefully this time more will actually come sooner than later.

~AniMerrill, a.k.a. Ethan Merrill

Um…

Wed, 17 May 17 02:24:53 +0000

THAT’S IT, IT TOOK OVER A WEEK TO UPDATE AGAIN. SHUT IT DOWN BOYS, ANIMERRILL PRODUCTIONS IS CANCELLED. WE HAD A GOOD RUN BUT ITS OVER NOW. KTHXBAI.



Okay, not really. It would be kinda dumb to add a screenshot if that was the case.

So uh, real life happened. Yeah I know, it’s pretty weird, had to pull a long week last week and didn’t get much done. Plus, and maybe this is just a personal note, but since a couple weeks ago I’ve been in a bit of a weird funk just because like… it marks a pretty big step in my life and I think after the manic scramble to get a website done in a week, get a game done in 48 hours, start a new game, start an album, etc… I burnt out just a teeny-weenie bit. Mostly though, since last paycheck I’ve now just finally gotten in the black again financially and it’s just sort of this calm in the storm, like the breath before a plunge. I finally have some creative outlet again, I finally have some semblance of financial stability (read: I am stuck in a factory job I hate), and in large parts I have finally had the first moments of some well deserved seclusion to really sit down and just feel my own feelings for myself. And understandably that isn’t pleasant. But it is good, and I needed to do it. I think I needed a hot second to just sort out all my shit and see where the road forward is for the long term not only for my creative life but also my personal life as far as my health and spirituality are concerned which has me more or less optimistic looking forward.

As you can see above I did get some minor work done on the game, the basis for a functional enemy which means once I get some collectables and power-ups added we’ll basically be looking at a fully featured game (plus or minus about six months of level design and bug fixes, ah those sweet gamedev blues). Other than that there are a couple of minor art projects that should hopefully come to fruition pretty quickly soon, updates as they’re available as always.

This is by no means a hiatus of any kind (don’t worry, one guy who reads this) but it will likely be until June when the next update comes out. I’m pretty sure I promised weekly updates in the last post or something like that, but I think right now I need to respect what my mind and body is trying to tell me and take it easy and approach again over the end of May in a more reasonable, sustainable way for the long term. That manic crunch won’t do anybody any good especially when you have a 50+ hour job to balance with it.

Thanks for understanding, one guy, and I’ll see you in the next update!

~AniMerrill, a.k.a. Ethan Merrill

That Awkward Moment When…

Sat, 06 May 17 02:24:54 +0000

In the course of human events, you accidentally write a pop song. And then another. And you’ve pretty much got a queue of lyrics and musical backlog to the point you might as well be making an album. Yeah, that’s right… turns out I accidentally started making an album which is something I never thought I’d say or do.

So earlier this week I shared with a video with Jimmy about how every Chainsmokers song is written and we had a good laugh about it and everything. Then the next day I was just joking around and said we should actually try to write a pop song for shits and giggles. Less than an hour later we had a back track. And by the end of the night… we accidentally made something pretty decent. We’d always kind of joked of starting a band, but after the first couple songs started taking shape and we realized we could probably make a funny/serious commentary on how shitty pop music, pop culture, etc is while exploiting the formula to make super catchy songs, we decided to go for it. Luckily we already had a joke band name on deck for it: “Medicinal Kazoo.” And well… as they say, here we are now.

For full clarification, Medicinal Kazoo is a name I came up with after watching the now legendary and extremely memable You On Kazoo video, after which I started using “kazoo” as a euphemism for drugs because… well watch the video, it isn’t exactly a ground breaking conclusion. Although we’ve spitballed different ideas for music we could write in the past, it never really came to fruition because in the short term it was more important to focus on our game work. But we’re kinda in the lull between Ludem Dare now and really chugging away at our big project (work has been done mind you, just nothing yet worth sharing… mostly technical stuff, more on that later). More or less, Medicinal Kazoo was gonna be our planned dev cameo in games that allowed it, where we would be an actual band in universe trying to get gigs and such and make it big. But it seems that pop music is so easy to write and sing lyrics for, even a talentless hack fraud like me can do it with a little assistance from an actual musician!

So what now? Well probably not much actually, not for a while anyway. We’ve got rough takes of a couple of songs but this has actually motivated me to quit smoking so my voice can heal up and I can actually sing a little better. In the longer term we’ll probably take a while just to write a full track list and get everything polished up, and I have a couple music videos in mind I wanted to try to actually animate so I can cross that off my bucket list on top of literally becoming a rock star. Really that’s mostly what this is about: how many people can actually say they made a pop album who aren’t in the industry? Like just decided one day to sit down and record some stuff as a joke and have it accidentally come out pretty decent? Not many. And it’s been a really good creative outlet for when I’d probably be too zonked to do much else in the interim between transferring positions at work.

But of course, get hyped, cuz that shit’s coming. #MEDICINALKAZOO #SHITPOST2017 … or 18 idk.

“BUT ETHAN, WHADDABOUT THE GAME?”

Good question, single person who reads this. Things are also going very well for the game too, although after the 72 hour crunch of LD I did need to kind of step back and plan to pace myself over the long term. Last weekend I finally got together a decent level editor, both so I don’t have to use Game Maker’s broken level editor but also so Jimmy could help with level design as well (not to mention, I’d like to add a way for fans to add custom levels as well once the game releases). That kind of consumed my entire last weekend though because… well, mostly file parsing stuff. Which is why it’s not really anything worth posting. I’m in the process of adding enemies and collectables to the game soon though so hopefully by next weekend I can at least get a new screenshot of that.

Jimmy also has a lot of the sound effects and music already written, we just have to design some stuff so it works a little more like an old NES game would. Which is really the theme of this game: to make an NES game that never was. From an art perspective, I’ve been trying to follow all the rules (as best as I can understand them) to make sure I’m not using too many colors and the screen resolution is perfect… I might even add a CRT filter by the end if it’s possible. For the music and sfx though, it’s a bit tricky. Because of course now you can just load all the mp3s and wavs you want into Game Maker and play them back on the fly with little to no consequence. But in the NES days you only had four channels for ALL music and sound effects: two wave channels, a saw wave channel for mostly drum sounds, and a “noise” channel that gave us some glorious bitcrushed voice and sound samples back in the day. So basically we need to figure out a way to divide the music in game and make sure the music temporarily stops playing for a sfx occupying that channel to play and then start again.

Also on the subject of samples and sfx, this game is actually going to be voice acted. Again, with GLORIOUS bitcrushing and probably earbleeding results. But we think it will add to the comedy/charm of the game.

I’m not sure when I’ll have the next update ready, but hopefully something soon. I’ve been able to post one of these a week so far and I would like to keep up that pace though. Site updates will be coming early June most likely along with some light rebranding (I relearned vector art so I can update my logo and the site graphics). More will be coming soon though, and thank you for reading as always! :3

~AniMerrill, a.k.a. Ethan Merrill

Onward

Sun, 30 Apr 17 02:24:54 +0000

Hello and welcome, Internet! Well, last I heard, the Ludum Dare voting was supposed to begin today, but I found out kind of late that apparently there’s no community voting or anything like that so it was kind of pointless to… probably put as much effort into hyping it to non-LD people as I did. Oh well! It was still a great time and it will be interesting to see if it gets anywhere in the rankings. If you haven’t yet, my LD game Boardom is now available to play here on this site and for PC (source code included in the downloads as well). In the coming weeks, whenever I find a free moment, I probably will look into doing a small post-mortem on it and discuss some of the design decisions I made to fit everything within the 48 hour window. Probably nothing groundbreaking, but it might help someone.

So then: where do we go from here? Well as I briefly teased with a screenshot in my first news post, we actually DO have a longer term project waiting in the wing. It’s not much now, but we do have a lot considering it’s only a couple weeks old at this point and we took a week out for this whole LD thing. It’s called “Dick the Duck” and it’s a good ol’ fashioned 8-bit style platformer about a greedy asshole looking to make a quick buck desecrating some old ruins. Probably won’t be a very family friendly game, but should be a ton of fun if I do my job right. Hopefully I’ll have more to show in the next couple months. Our goal (~knocks on wood, crosses fingers, and throws a salt shaker over my shoulder~) is to get this game done by the end of the year so we can get to work on a bigger and longer term project fresh next year. It’s gonna be hype so stay tuned.

Other than that, near the end of May or beginning of June I plan to spruce up the website a little more. It’s still not much and probably won’t be for a long time, but I want it to be as easy as possible for me to share new stuff with you guys and for you to look at it. PLUS, now we have comments on the site so if you have any suggestions, I can officially receive that now.

Thank you so much for reading and I hope I have more for you soon!

~AniMerrill, a.k.a. Ethan Merrill

Our LD38 Entry: Boardom

Tue, 25 Apr 17 02:24:54 +0000

Hello everyone! This post is a day late but I was dead tired yesterday and needed to rest, but our Ludum Dare 38 entry “Boardom” is now up! You can play it on the site or download the PC version and source code here. I made pretty much the whole game during the first 48 hours but, as per the rules of the Jam, we got the extra day to polish up and post it. Fifteen levels, cool puzzles, get hyped heh.

Also, on the news page you can now read and link to individual entries and ~drumroll~ ADD COMMENTS! I know, super basic functionality that I just bothered to finish lol. The site uses Disqus for the comment service so you should be able to post via any social networking account instead of needing to make an account on my site or with them. Let me know if you have any problems (you can find my social media contacts on the About page). I will probably add comments later on to the game page itself, but I don’t want to effect the link to the game until after the voting is done for Ludum Dare (April 28 to May 16 is what they’re saying right now).

These last couple weeks rushing around to get everything done- this website and the game -have certainly been tiring but some of the most empowering work I’ve made in a long time. The feeling you know you CAN make a full- albeit sort- game in only 48 hours only reinforces the fact that you could do a lot better without the time limit for a bigger better project. And that’s exactly what we have planned. I don’t know when we’ll have a proper update or announcement for what our longer term project is, but we had a decent prototype of something we were brewing up before Ludum Dare. After I get some rest and play some of the other fantastic looking LD games, you can bet that I’ll be putting in some crazy hours trying to get our next game to a state where we can start revealing info about it.

Thanks to all the people who reached out, encouraged, and talked to me over the jam! It’s been nice to have the support. More from us soon!

~AniMerrill, a.k.a. Ethan Merrill

Ludum Dare 38: 48 hours down

Sun, 23 Apr 17 02:24:54 +0000

Two whole days since the jam begun and things have really shaped up! I think originally I might have said… somewhere, on some site… that Ludum Dare ended tonight. That’s only true if you’re participating in the “Compo,” the hardcore version of LD, which we automatically disqualify for due to us being a team. Anywho, here are some updated screenshots from the game featuring a couple actual levels that show up. As of today I have 15 done. I’m sort of torn between finishing all 20 that I originally planned or spending the last few hours I have tomorrow (the Jam ends at 9pm but… uh, I have work) polishing up and adding a little more art just to really tie the game’s concept together. We’ll see!

Once it’s done I’ll be posting both an HTML 5 version on my website and a PC version on Itch.io. I’ll have links and everything though so don’t worry about it heh.

Until tomorrow!

Ludum Dare 38: 24 hours down

Sat, 22 Apr 17 02:24:54 +0000

One day down and two to go for the end of the jam (less if you’re doing the compo which… thank god I’m not). As you can see from yesterday’s tests and such, I’ve gotten most of the art done and most of the mechanics implemented. All that’s left is to hammer out some levels from the tools at hand and polish it up. In the last pic here you can see Level 5, the first of the challenge levels. I have a feeling I’m gonna get downvoted for ragequits lol… the box pushing mechanics are… a little less than forgiving. Ah, the gamedev blues.

Hello World!

Wed, 19 Apr 17 02:24:54 +0000

Hello and welcome, Internet! It’s that time yet again when I attempt to relaunch my website and business to become super duper internet famous!

Yes, for those of you who are returning fans (read: friends, family, acquaintances… and my mother, mostly) I’m finally relaunching AniMerrill Productions hopefully for good and have recently started working on some smaller game projects. I’m getting this site up to be ready for Ludum Dare 38 this weekend, which is one of the bigger internet game jams one can participate in. For those that don’t know, a Game Jam is a competition where you get 48 hours (some of the smaller ones give you a week as a consideration for people who work or don’t have a “weekend” of free time) or so to make whatever you can make based on a theme and then you submit whatever you’re able to make by the end! Ludum Dare starts this Friday night and ends Sunday night, so you can check here for updates on that! Right now the final theme voting is under way and I am both anxious and incredibly excited.

I am also announcing a new creative partner for AniMerrill Productions who will be helping make music for my projects here as well as helping me come up with a lot of the content for the early projects we have planned, Jimmy “Young Pup” Zagorsky! You can find all of our social links and whatnot on the About page.

As you can see (or not if you’re reading this on a social media page) that this site is very bare bones and still heavily under construction. I’m hoping to get things finished up by the time we release our first game later this year (teased above in the image) so there will be full features for interacting with me, Jimmy, and other readers here as well as just… generally being prettier.

As a bit of an aside, let me just address people who used to follow me when this was a blog or a comic or just people who know me personally. Last couple years have definitely been a couple of the toughest for me, and a variety of stressful experiences and work in general really drained me and made me kind of creatively stagnant. But as of a month or so ago, I’ve somehow managed to get a lot of stuff done. It might not look like much, but this website and the game featured above actually took a long time to do backend stuff and I feel pretty proud of being able to get it done. Things really seem to be going okay lately and I’m out of that rut.

Thank you all for reading this and I look forward to making games for you very soon!

~AniMerrill, a.k.a. Ethan Merrill