Exactly one decade ago, on the 31st of July, 2004, I was 12 years old. Inspired by movies online on Newgrounds, I had just finished creating my very first flash animation, and uploaded it for the world. I was in my first year of high school, in Scotland, incredibly proud of the very first project I have ever created and uploaded to the internet, dead set on becoming a director. Now, one decade later, I have under my belt over 50 animations, 20 videogame projects both personal and contracted, 15 albums, and working on my first official released videogame. I sit here in my apartment in California with my beautiful wife, mere hours away from flying over to Baltimore for a large convention. Everything I thought I would be by now is wrong, and I couldn't be happier.
Yes, for those of you who have known me for this long (which I doubt is very many), and for those who have been introduced to my works in more recent years, today marks the 10 year anniversary of me putting projects on the internet. Ten whole years of dedicating myself to creating content in the hopes that it entertains an audience of complete strangers. The medium of my work has changed back and forth many times in the last decade, but the core principle has always remained.
I want to entertain. I want to inspire. I want to, in some way, make an impact in someone else's life through my work, the way others have so graciously done to me.
I'm taking this opportunity to show a little retrospective of what I've done in the last decade, or at least as far as I can remember, in the hopes that it sheds some light on the kind of dumb stuff that I've been making, and hey, maybe it will introduce some new fans to what I was doing before they knew me, and some older fans might like to know just what the hell I've been up to and why.
As I'm sure it's painfully aware, I was never the most popular kid. In high school I was one of those kids who didn't even go outside during the lunch break. I remember there was a room tucked away in a corner of my high school that was open during the lunch hour, for all the misfit kids to go and hang out, so naturally, that's where I went. One day, however, one of my, well, I'm hesitant to even call him a friend. His name was Gary and he was one of those “I'll talk to you like a friend but also treat you like shit” kind of guys, but I digress. One faithful day during a lunch break, he went on the computer and showed me Newgrounds. And, as was custom at the time I'm sure, I was introduced to Newgrounds via the Xiao Xiao series. Now for those of you that are unfamiliar with this series, it's a series of movies and games based around fighting/shooting dating back to around 2001, so naturally I thought it was the coolest shit ever.
I got home that night and started watching the movies over and over again, loving them every time. It took me a good week or so to realise there were a lot of other movies and games on Newgrounds to enjoy! I checked out everything, obviously starting with the Adult section because I was 12 years old at the time, and just marvelled at the stupid amount of animations and games there were. But, there was one particular that caught my eye, and that was Video Game Director's Cuts, or VGDC, for short.
Video Game Director's Cuts was a website run by Randy Solem, who credited himself with the creation of the 'sprite movie', which basically means, taking sprites from a videogames and moving them around on screen. I loved it so much that it inspired me to also move sprites from a videogame around a screen, and thus, sparked my original desire to create content. And after trail and error, I eventually finished my first ever sprite movie.
And it got blammed.
On Newgrounds, for those that are unaware, that's basically my movie was terrible. So terrible in fact that the users voted that it would not stay on the website. I was confused since I say it wasn't on the website, and submitted it again! And, again, it got deleted. This movie was not the first movie I have on my profile on Newgrounds, and in fact was submitted a few weeks earlier, but I don't know the exact date, and the 10th anniversary of a failure is pretty silly. All I remember about the flash movie was it was Kirby (I didn't know who Kirby was at this time) beating up Mario enemies on a white background. Riveting, I know.
When a user explained was 'blamming' was to me on a review, I deleted the project and started a new one. This one, called Mario Bros. Movies, which was submitted on July 31st, 2004. I was ecstatic that it stayed on Newgrounds, and people gave pretty ok reviews to it too! I even remember saying I would just keep updating the flash file with new shorts over time, as if this was going to be my sole project. I scrapped that idea pretty fast. The movie was bad, of course, I had no idea what coding was, I had no idea what scenes were, and I didn't even have any idea what motion tweens were. Clearly, I had no where to go but up.
After my first foray into sprite animating I decided to actually join the VGDC forums, where I was lucky enough to meet a few very special and important people who go by the names MeesterO and SirKirbs120. I first met these guys around this time, on the VGDC boards, and thanks to a mutual friend called ZeroMega (who I will get around to later believe me), we are all still in touch to this day, and some of the few people I would gladly call my best friends.
But I also met MajinPiccolo.
While I was on the forums I happened to stumble upon a flash animation contest run by one of the users. The user was called MajinPiccolo and he was basically recruiting people to be in a rag tag group of sprite animators he called 'Dungeon Studios'. By this time I had already made my second flash movie, Donkey Kong Medley, and was looking for new ideas. His contest was to make a sprite movie using Castlevania sprites (I didn't know what Castlevania was), and submit it by the deadline. In response, I created CM1: Simon vs Trevor, and if I recall correctly as one of the few people that actually entered the contest, I ended up winning! How about that! Majin then introduced me to the rest of the gang, which consisted of himself, Yoshi-1up, and some dude I cannot remember for the life of me but I'm pretty sure it was something like 'Carl52' so lets go with that, he didn't factor in too much anyway.
Now let me tell you Majin was a piece of work. He was one of those compulsive liars on the internet, who kept bragging he had everything, literally everything. He told me he had every single NES and SNES game ever made. A room dedicated to this with a 42 inch TV screen that he and his sister play on. One time he said that Miyamoto was visiting, fucking Miyamoto was at his house, to meet his dad. At first I thought, who would lie on the internet? This guy is awesome! But it obviously bit him in the ass quite a bit when he would backtrack and contradict himself with what he was saying. I remember even asking him to show Miyamoto my newest movie, Donkey Kong Arcade Remake, to which he weaselled his way out of it saying “oh no no he's a busy man I can't possibly of course not no”.
I think what eventually brought me down was, despite the fact that I stayed friends with him, he clearly didn't care about the work. I'm not going to claim we were good at what we did at the time, but I tried to put effort into what I did, when he just wanted me to make quick terrible shit like the DSTV series, and him being very complacent in his own Skittles N' Bitz series. I don't know, but there was definitely a rift appearing between us on a creativity level, and with the advice of Yoshi-1up, I decided to leave Dungeon Studios in December of 2005. The website finally shut down in 2007, and MajinPiccolo hasn't been seen since...
He went to university and cut his ties with flash animation, I hope he's doing well!
From Megaman's Massacre onwards (I had never played Megaman before making that), I was making movies under my then tentative name 'Psy City', which just sorta stuck. I remember it vividly, I was talking to Yoshi-1up a few weeks before leaving Dungeon Studios, who had already left to create 1-up Island, trying to convince me to leave Dungeon Studios because I'm much better than that. I remember saying “If I leave I'll probably just use some shitty name like 'Psy City' or something”.
Yoshi-1up, someone I rarely talk to anymore, got out of that group the strongest. And while he's often crude and silly, never really taking anything super seriously, and often making masturbation jokes in his movies, he might just be one of the nicest people I've ever known.
The Mystical Forest Zone
Around this time I was also part of another community, called The Mystical Forest Zone, which for a good number of years was the go to place for Sonic the Hedgehog sprites. At some point they opened a forum for their users, and I was an 'active' member of that community. By which I mean I had the highest post count because I had nothing better to do with me time. Now I mentioned ZeroMega before, and I technically met him on VGDC, but it was here that we, and another user called SpykeTP or more recently as SuperCalleh, really hit it off, in the most dysfunctional manner possible. We would pretty much spam random crap, spout Bill Cosby memes, and generally be pieces of shit. But I digress.
ZeroMega was a another animator from VGDC whom I became friends with. We collaborated on a lot of really silly projects together, often finishing each others animations, or straight up uploading them unfinished. But even if But before we get to ZeroMega yet again, there's one more person that was important on TMFZ, who went by the name Velota. Now, this guy was a year my junior, but he could draw sprites, something I couldn't do that well despite claiming to be a goddamn sprite animator. So, for a lot of movies, he was my spriter. The collaboration in 2006, and ended in, well, 2006. The first main movie I made with his sprites was Pico's Last Stand, and our big project together was A Very Spritey Christmas. One fun fact about Mario's Silent Movie was I originally uploaded an incomplete version of it to his Newgrounds channel as a joke, but took it down when I saw that people were actually enjoying it, so I could probably finish it! And while our official collaboration has long since ended, I still use his sprites to this day in my intro animation. I can't remember how this friendship ended, but I have a feeling it wasn't a good break up. I haven't talked to him in 6 years but I sincerely hope he's doing well.
A slightly interesting thing about this is that for Pico's Last Stand, I created a pre-loader game. This was in fact the first time I ever made a game, and it resparked an old desire to make games. I don't even remember why I made it, maybe I was trying to impress Velota, but regardless of the reason, making that pre-loader game was the first real shift of my career path from director to programmer, but I'll get into project specifics in a little while.~
Also at some point in 2006, I ended up also joining Sheezyart. It was here that I started making mashups. With the help of ZeroMega to an extent, I started learning the ins and outs of making music mashups, something that I still do to this day, a hell of a lot more prominently than animations that's for sure. But I digress. Joining Sheezyart ended up being a very important thing in my life, not because of the website, the website was shit, but because it introduced me to one of the most important men in my life, Edd Gould.
Now, my introduction to Edd was actually thanks to MajinPiccolo, weirdly enough. In 2006, Edd Gould was looking for a programmer to make a game for his friend's 16th birthday, that friend being TomSka. The game was very basic, but it eventually became Quest for Bacon, and the start of a great friendship between Edd and I. We would collab on a lot of different projects over the years, including Not-So Special Stage, and Bang, Boom, Splat! I also ended up animating for his movies here and there, writing music here and there and eventually becoming a foley artist too. Now if anyone was lucky enough to ever know Edd you'd know he was some kind of amazing. He managed to inspire people by just being around him, he collected a very talented group of friends both on and offline, and honestly he still inspires me to this day.
Also on Sheezyart, was finally, ZeroMega. Now like I've mentioned, I've knows Zeromega for most of my internet life at this point, but it wasn't until Sheezyart that we started properly collabing. Along with us were our mutual friends Eggshells and Monk_09. We made really bad looping flash animations on Sheezyart, usually to the tune of Super Eurobeat tracks. We would just basically fuck around and make bad animations and people would get mad when they got voted to the front page of the website. You know, a humble lifestyle.
Last but certainly not least, Sheezyart introduced me to the incredibly talented Wolfgun, someone who I have the sincere belief is going to be world famous with his music one day. I found Wolfgun's work through a Super Mario RPG remix, and I have been constantly impressed with his work over and over again. He has inspired numerous projects from me, including Salmon Ok and 2 Slices of Pie. I also had the honour of him creating the soundtrack to two games of mine, Bounce Coil and Bullet Bill 3, to which I'm eternally grateful, because those games would not be what they are without his amazing music. I do not deserve to know someone that talented.
I couldn't be a social outcast forever, and eventually I got accepted into university. Luckily for me, however, the only reason I got into university was my flash movies and games. I actually didn't get the grades needed to be entered into the course I wanted, but, in my application, I submitted my movies and games, to which they were shocked I wasn't applying to enter straight into the second year of the degree. Unfortunately, this meant the death of a few projects I was working on at the time, the highest profile of which being Kid Thulu. I always told Edd that I'd get back to that project when I finished university, or whenever I had enough time to dedicate to a project that big. And I still want to keep that promise.
But anyway, university had a big impact on my life, as you'd expect. While I haven't been talking about my personal life all that much here, during university I embraced my bisexuality for the first time, in a 4 year stint with someone who I'm going to refer to as Yuki. In my second year of university, I was getting annoyed that I had not made a new animation in so long. My inspiration was dwindling and I hated that. I eventually came up with A New Place, which I was incredibly happy with, for a final movie. And Bullet Bill 3, for my final game. I figured after university, I would be done with flash as a format, and be able to focus my attention on other languages, and hopefully get closer and closer to releasing my first proper game. It was also around this time, 2010, that I started getting back into mashups a bit more, after delving into the practise in 2006 on Sheezyart, but the real reason I still do them is because of fucking My Little Pony.
My Little Pony
Now don't get me wrong My Little Pony is shite, at least, it is now. I thought gen 4 was good for the first two seasons, but since then it's gotten a lot worse. With terrible writing, excruciating plots and an overall arc that just left me incredibly bored I honestly have no idea why it's still held to such a high regard. Especially since much better shows like Gravity Falls and Steven Universe have launched in its wake, but, what the fuck ever I guess. My friends from VGDC, MeesterO and SirKirbs120 actually introduced me to My Little Pony gen 4 in late 2011. Doing the general “yeah it's actually ok weirdly enough you should check it out” that most people did. So I did check it out, and yes, it was ok.
I created a terrible mashup known as Discord Days in 2012, which for some bizarre reason took off. I think, honestly, it was featured on 'fail blogs' or whatever the hell they're called these days. But regardless, it got big. I kept making pony mashups here and there, because I did genuinely enjoy the music, and that was a lot of fun! It did get me back in the groove of mashups, something I still have a lot of fun doing now.
Despite that, 2012 was a bad year, straight up. I lost two incredibly important people and almost lost a third. First of, Randy Solem died in the beginning of March, 2012. And then Edd Gould died at the end of March, 2012. At the same time, Yuki was admitted to hospital for a huge spinal injury, with the chance of him surviving pretty much up in the air. Randy Solem, which I didn't know him personally, was the original inspiration for me to create flash animations, the create content period. If it wasn't for him, I would never have taken the life path that I did. And then, Edd Gould, as I explained earlier, was one of the most important men in my entire life. And likewise for him, there is no where I'd be where I am now if it wasn't for him. And then the man I loved in Yuki was on the verge of losing his life too. Now, thankfully, he got out of there just fine, but lets just say it wasn't the best of time for me.
So I did what I always did naturally, I turned to animation. I ended up making Pacific with all the emotion I had built up surrounding the events. If there was ever going to be an ending to the opening chapter of my content, it would be Pacific. I don't know if I'll ever be able to create anything like that again, and I'm fine with that. I can look back on that animation and see the culmination of 8 years of work in play in that one animation. It's just a sad state of affairs that it had to be made in the first place.
In lighter news, 2012 also marked the year I started using Tumblr, which ended up mostly being a new place for my mashups to be hosted. The weird thing is, of course, a lot of people probably know me for this work, and don't know about the first 8 years of my work, which is completely fine! I have had, however, a few people be really surprised when they realise the Psycosis making mashups is the same one behind the Thwomps movies, I've even had a friend called Aussy, who was a friend of mine from my mashups who used to also watch my flash movies and play my games in school. That was an interesting conversation!
But I digress, one of the biggest projects I had on Tumblr was known as Slamayan Apocalypse, where for the entirety of 2012, I would release a Space Jam mashup every Sunday. It was a really silly project, that was formed after a really silly conversation with Ross, one of my few close offline friends. And I can't even joke about how important that project was. Thanks to that Space Jam project I met my eventual wife, a beautiful woman who goes by the username Steve Holt!
Steve, in fact, is probably the most important influence in my life at this point. In fact, almost all of my inspiration comes from her in one way or another now. Including the idea that will hopefully become my first official released game. She is a fantastic person and I'm incredibly luckily that she let me into her life. And I'm super confident that it is our relationship and the creativity of her and I that is going to propel my projects forward in the future. And as much as I'd love to talk about this stuff, this part of the story is still being written. She's also totes hilarious.
You may have noticed I only briefly mentioned a few of my most popular works because, quite frankly, after recalling them, all the biggest projects were so... dumb. As in, the way they were made, all of them had very weird conditions, so I thought it would be interesting to tell you what happened.
The Thwomps was my first 'big' sprite movie, by which, for some reason someone on Newgrounds thought it'd be a good idea to put it on the front page! The concept of the movie was incredibly basic, I thought it'd be funny to think about how long the Thwomps must be waiting in their positions until Mario decides to finally show up. I saw the sprites that were used for The Thwomps on a random sprite website and I made the movie on the same day. I wrote the script, animated it without lines and was about to submit before I asked two friends that just happened to be online at the right time if they could voice it for me. Those friends happened to be Gary, the person that introduced me to Newgrounds, and Daniel Sun, most famously known for the Power Star series.
I was so excited about the success of the movie that I made three sequels, two of which were in the same year. And then, on August 10th 2007, I released Thwomps: The Movie, a 20 minute long movie starring the two characters, and introducing Yoshi-1up as Marty, the green thwomp. This was and still remains the biggest animation I've ever done, mostly because it was a challenge to myself to see if I could write something of that length, if I could in fact create a 20 minute story that was both engaging and funny. The movie ended up getting to the top rated spot on Newgrounds and holding there for a bit over a week. Whether I succeeded or not I still don't really know, I think it's funny in parts but some parts are just terrible, but I guess that's to be expected with old projects.
Bullet Bill was a really great game that I didn't even make. I actually effectively stole the game from someone else on VGDC. A user who went by the name of Placky made a game called Bullet Bill in I believe Game Maker. The entire game that became Bullet Bill was right there. Controlling the Bullet Bill, dodging platforms and hitting Mario at the end of the level. The level even had a pipe you could go into to go underground for a little bit and skip part of the level. I asked Placky if it would be ok to remake the game in flash, to which he was perfectly fine with. A short while later, my version of Bullet Bill was released.
Again, I was a bit too impressed with the reception it got, and ended up creating a sequel in the same year. Billet Bill 2 traded the NES sprites of the original for the SNES All-Stars look, and the game increased from 2 worlds to 8 worlds. I was pretty much subscribed to the 'more is better' kind of design in the sequel, which somehow actually worked out for me. The sequel was a even bigger success! So naturally I started working on Bullet Bill 3 straight away. And ended up scrapping it because I had no idea what to do.
Then, 4 years later, I decided to look back on my old games. By this point I was already in university so I had learned a few things about actual coding, and not just the self taught stuff I was going off beforehand. One look at Bullet Bill 2 was enough to make me digusted. Absolutely none of the game was actually generated. Somehow, I had the patience to make each level by hand, make separate movie clips for each one and just place them in the timeline one after another until all the levels were done. It didn't look neat, it didn't look professional, hell it didn't even look playable, but somehow it worked.
But that wasn't going to cut it anymore.
I wanted to make a new game, so I started working on Bullet Bill 3. I decided I didn't want to make the levels by hand this time, so I got to work on a level creator tool, thinking that if I can make the tools to make levels, I can just get other people to actually make the game, this will be a lot faster! So, I set to work, coming up with systems and algorithms and all kinds of dumb stuff to try and make my level creator a reality. And finally, the level creator was complete, about two weeks before the release of the game. So, from that you can say wow, I made the actual levels in only a few weeks, that was fast! Much better compared to the few months it took to make the levels in Bullet Bill 2! But, then again, I spent a year and a half working on the level creator.
You see I confirm to a certain kind of programming, if something doesn't work, don't do it. And I'm not meaning in a programming sense I mean in a gaming sense. If you create an engine that can't support this feature, then just don't use that feature. If you create an engine that breaks when these two enemies are together, never have them together! It's a much easier way to fix games, you just make sure the requirements for the glitch can never be fulfilled. But, when you're making a level creator, you can't exactly do that. You can't tell the user not to do one specific thing otherwise it breaks, you have to have a fix for every single thing that could possibly happen. It was a challenge for sure and I'd like to think it paid off. Bullet Bill 3 is one of the very few projects I can go back to and say that I'm proud of what I made, and I hope that everyone else had fun playing it as well.
Neutral Bling Hotel
Wow where to begin with this one. Well this is without a doubt the biggest project I've ever made, and it happened completely by accident. Neutral Bling Hotel started as a silly music track but a really dumb and great cover image made by an anon on /mu/, the cover art itself is all that I knew about before starting the project, as it was posted on Tumblr by a friend of mine. Now, at the time I was in university, and I was living with my friend Lewis, who is your typical /mu/tant, as in he has the goddamn original postcard the Neutral Milk Hotel cover in based on on his wall. So, inspired by the cover art, I went ahead and made the album over a weekend at my parent's house. I got there on Friday with the idea, and by the time I got back on Monday, I released it online. And then things got crazy.
See I uploaded it to Bandcamp but figured /mu/ would want this too, so I uploaded a mirror of the album to Mediafire, and made a thread. One thread, and I didn't make anything else. People say the cover and the art and figured it was a joke, but then some people downloaded it and realised wait I actually made a full mashup album. Some people hated it, and damn right too it's pretty bad, but others hyped the hell out of it completely and utterly. Posted it again and again in new threads, spamming it to facebook walls of reviewers they liked and just general viral marketing. I thought that was really cool! And if it stopped there it'd be a success... But then it got posted on AV Club.
Things got a bit crazy from then on. I got interviewed a few times, the album kept popping up in sites I went to, and it was the highest selling album on Bandcamp for a whole week, only overtaken by Balloon Party, a My Little Pony shitdubstep album that I made the cover art for, at qhich point it was at number 2 for a while as well.
So number one was an album I didn't make with my cover art, and number two was an album I did make but not the cover art.
None of my more recent albums have garnered nearly as much attention as this one has, and it's safe to say it was a complete fluke that it happened. It was still a lot of fun though! And through that I managed to donate the proceedings of said album, about 2 grand, to charity.
That was way too long holy shit
And there you have it! That's basically 10 years of my life condensed into a blog post, and I didn't even mention everything! I had a weekly blog post for a year talking about Visual Novels! I've worked on various contracts for internet flash games! I've recently been streaming speedrunning on my twitch channel! But none of those seemed too important to be part of the main write up.
I really have no idea what the future holds. If you were to ask me ten years ago where'd I'd be now, I doubt I would have said living in California with my wife about to jet away across the country for a convention, and if I did say that then what the hell that's weirdly specific.
No matter what it's going to be fun, I want to keep creating, keep inspiring and keep entertaining strangers around the world with my music, my animations and my games. I want to meet people who have been inspired by my work and I want their work to inspire me to. I want to envelope myself in more and more friends that are so incredibly talented I have no idea why they would let someone like me talk to them, but at the same time hope I could at least bring something to the table to help return the favour.
And man I didn't even mention everyone who has helped me get to this point! I have people in real life like my family, Ross and Beki, Lewis, Joe and Parky. People online such as Tom Fulp, Tracer, Bigfoot, Triple-Q, and RosalinaSama. People from the pony fandom like Mic the Microphone, Braeburned, Amitie and Garnika. There are so many people, online and off, people I still talk to and people who I have maybe only exchanged one or two lines of dialog with, you have all helped me reach this point right now. Looking back on these ten years I realise now that I would not be here without each and every one of you, and for that I'm eternally grateful.
It's the people, it's the people you meet that make you who you are. I would never be here without the support directly and indirectly of people all around the world who are either fans of my work or I'm a fan of theirs. The people you look up to and the people who look up to you are what shape your future, and I cannot wait to see who I will meet next that can have that much of a positive impact in my life. Maybe I've already met them before and they'll surprise me with something so amazing it puts them in a new light. You never know where your inspiration will come from and if I can even inspire one or two people with my work then my job is done.
Because to me there is no greater feeling than inspiration.