The Modern Borefare Interview: David Yu on Hyperkin’s Retron 5 Console

RetroN_5-610x380Welcome to The Modern Borefare Interview, an occasional series of discussions with up-and-coming creators, writers, builders and DIY’ers of the comics/video game/pop culture scene. Today we’re talking with David Yu, Marketing Director and resident Man of Many Hats at Hyperkin Games, the makers of the upcoming Retron 5 all-in-one retro gaming console.

Modern Borefare: So, what were Hyperkin’s’s goals in developing its Retron line? What’s the overarching mission statement?

David Yu: In a nutshell, we really like to make cool stuff. We pretty much make stuff that we want to play with. [Hyperkin] started off making DDR dance pads. After a while the company became very successful and it got to a point where a lot of retailers and our partners were asking us if we could make other accessories and other types of products. After doing some research we found that the retro gaming niche, that market was grossly underserved. So we realized we wanted to make retro gaming our focus.

When it comes to the Retron 5, previously we made a lot of different consoles that were maybe up to the level of the original but never surpassed it or offered anything new. In the back of our minds we always felt like we wanted to make a console that would not only cater to the retro gaming market but would be able to actually give all the features that people wished they had when they played their retro games. The development of Retron 5 was almost two years in the making and during that time there were a lot of things we tested out, we tried out. Ultimately, for all of us here, we grew up with most of these systems. We love these systems dearly and we wanted to be able to create a console on which every gamer out there has the ability to play some of the most beloved games in the world.

MB: You mentioned the two-year development cycle for the Retron 5. I know it started out as the Retron 4, the successor to the Retron 3. What additions give this Retron its “fiveness”, as opposed to just “fourness”? Continue reading

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The Modern Borefare Interview: Diego & Emmett of Sugoi Papa Interactive (Part 2)

Welcome back to the part two of the second installment of The Modern Borefare Interview, an occasional series of discussions with up-and-coming creators, writers, builders and DIY’ers of the comics/video game/pop culture scene. This time we’re talking with Diego Garcia and EmmettButler of Sugoi Papa Interactive. You can read part one here

Modern Borefare: Talk about your art style a little bit, it’s retro but exaggerated & unique. Has this been an evolution from a different style you started with or have you worked on refining an original, core style?

Diego Garcia: I didn’t start doing pixel art until about three years ago, but I’ve been drawing my whole life. I think my pixel art is basically a low-res translation of the way I used to draw in flash and on paper. I try not think about pixel art as a style. It’s not, really. It’s a medium, and I just try to apply its rules to however I want to draw.

Where does your inspiration come from? For both your games and your art?

DG: Everywhere. Short stories are great inspiration for games, because they’re simple and experimental. I follow a lot of amazing artists and read a lot of books and comics. Movies are great too. When I see a scene that moves me to laugh or feel nostalgic or sad or anything really, I tend to think “I wonder how I could recreate this feeling with a game?” Art is pretty much the same deal. You just need to ask yourself questions about what you want to achieve, and don’t give up until you’ve answered them or  decided it’s time to move on to a better idea.

EB: A lot of what inspires me is the desire to do things that I can’t do. That is, I don’t know how to make something, so I learn how and then find that I’ve done it. I don’t know if that qualifies as inspiration, but it’s certainly the driving force behind most of my creative output – especially Heads Up. Also I’m inspired by systems. Figuring out how complicated systems work is something that I just realized I spend a lot of time doing.

Talk about  your NYU program a little bit; what’s the basis, what’s the focus, how was the admission process.

DG: The Game Center focuses on “the exploration of games as a cultural form and game design as a creative practice,” and they stick to a pretty simple mindset: “games matter.” Basically, the thought is that games are relevant – because clearly they are. The MFA program offers a degree in Game Design, with focuses Game Design, Programming, Visual Design, and Criticism. I’m going to be focusing on Game Design.

The admission was pretty standard for a creative program. A statement of purpose, an analytical essay, resume, and creative portfolio. Most of the other schools I applied to had similar processes. Since I didn’t have a completed game I rushed to make Ultimate Flirt-Off, which was really stressful, but totally worth it. I submitted it along with my senior project from  undergrad and this little thing I made when first considering getting into games. Applications are available now.

What do you hope the end result will be?

 DG: Ultimately what I’d really like to do is start a small studio and build it up to a very slightly less small studio. I never want to be making game with hundreds of people. I think 10 sounds a little scary, honestly. 2-5 People. Mmm. Yeah.

 What are you currently playing?

 DG: Basically whatever I’m assigned in school for a given week, whatever I’m making in school as playtesting, and Johann Sebastian Joust whenever I can.

EB: Magic: The Gathering, Starcraft, Final Fantasy X, Dead Space, Jamestown. I just did a Magic draft for the first time last week, and it’s like standing on the edge of a deep pit.

What are your top 5 games of all time? Why?

DG: Wow. In no particular order:

  1. Animal Crossing: Wild World, because sometimes your neighbors have really intense arguments about whether it’s cooler to fill a pool with coffee or black tea.
  2. Shadow of the Colossus, because I love digital horses and eatin’ lizard tails.
  3. Katamari Damacy, because of the sound the pompadour punk makes when you roll over him.
  4. Crash ‘N The Boys: Street Challenge, because you can spend money to have one of the shopkeepers say something inspirational to you despite it having no effect on your character.
  5. Mega Man 2, because Mega Man 2.

EB: I hate picking top games. For every one I think of, there are ten more. Here are my first five.

  1. Mega Man X because it’s so innately replayable
  2. Silent Hill 2 because it introduced me to survival horror and is the most amazingly atmospheric experience I’ve had in a game (until Journey?)
  3. Magic: The Gathering because it’s such a deep and interesting strategic world, and because HELLDOZER
  4. Ikaruga because you can’t shoot the final boss
  5. Metroid Prime because it’s just as good a transition from 2d to 3d as Mario 64

MB: What do you think about OUYA? Is this something you’re excited to explore?

DG: I haven’t been paying a ton of attention to the OUYA, but from what I gather it’s a pretty amazing idea. Is it something I’d like to explore? Yes, for sure. That being said, I think a poorly executed free-to-play model can be really exploitative, so that’s a little scary. I wonder what kinds of guidelines will exist.

MB: When not coding, designing or working…what are you doing?

DG: I work, read, watch movies, go to shows (mostly chip music), and above all else I like to eat food, so I go out to eat a lot. I also play D&D with my non-NYC friends once every couple of months, and I’m DMing a few sessions now for the first time, so I’m spending some time on that. I read a ton of comics, and I tweet. Kind of a lot. I’m sorry.

EB: Gaming a lot, becoming more literate. Also still doing school. I’m starting to tech blog, and aside from that I love going to Barcade and grinding Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins.

MB: Diego,  how many geography jokes have you had to put up with?

Too many. Yes, I know there’s an island called Diego Garcia. I’ve known that since the first time I remember someone telling me, which was when I was 5.

Thank you again to Emmett and Diego taking the time out of their very busy schedules to make us feel like journalists and to shed some light on a bit of the inner workings of the indie game world, art, inspiration, programming, Helldozer and a slew of games that you should probably investigate if you haven’t before.  Do yourself a favor and download Heads Up! Hot Dogs for your iPad and your iPhone. I know you’ve been thinking about putting weiners on heads for awhile now, and this way you can do it while staying out of jail. Also check out Dokideux Panikku and play a game as difficult & yet addicting as QWOP.

Have any questions for Diego or Emmett? Leave them in the comments below or ask me on Twitter at @imperviousrex and I’ll try to get them answered.

The Modern Borefare Interview: Diego & Emmett of Sugoi Papa Interactive (Part 1)

Welcome back to the second installment of The Modern Borefare Interview, an occasional series of discussions with up-and-coming creators, writers, builders and DIY’ers of the comics/video game/pop culture scene.

Modern Borefare: Tell the MB audience about yourselves!

Diego Garcia: I’m Diego Garcia, a 25 year old man-about-town with a lusty passion for illustration and animation and, duh, games. Along with Emmett I’m ½ of Sugoi Papa Interactive, our little two-man, when-we-get-around-to-it dev team. I’m also pursuing an MFA in Game Design as part of the inaugural class of the NYU Game Center’s new program.

Emmett Butler: I’m Emmett Butler, a 21 year old programmer and game designer, and I study computer science and music technology at NYU. I love Japanese food, SNES, and Magic: The Gathering. I’ve been programming, participating in lots of student organizations, and doing my own projects since the beginning of school. I also very occasionally make music.

MBWhat are you doing currently?

DG: At this exact moment I am sitting at my desk answering these interview questions instead of doing work. I am a full-time student and work part-time in television and digital media.

EB: Right now, like RIGHT now I just took a midterm! I work at a web startup and I go to school, trying to make games and learn lots in the in-between parts. I do some work in the open-source semantic web community, and I’m involved with Tech@NYU and their student hacker initiatives.

MB:Can you talk about your projects a bit? Ultimate Flirt-Off, Dokideux Panikku, Heads Up! Hot Dogs…how long does it take to go from concept to completion?

DG: Ultimate Flirt-Off was the first game I ever saw through to completion. It’s a quick-time response game, designed to replicate the awkward stressfulness of flirting with a stranger. Since I created the game as part of my grad school applications, I had a hard deadline of about two months to make it. I would advise anyone who works full time and doesn’t know how to code to give themselves more than two months on their first game (especially if they’re doing all of the art, too).

We can both speak to the others – Dokideux was a molyjam (ed.note: Unfamiliar with a molyjam? Check it out heregame that we made in a total of about 10-12 hours one weekend. Faced with a time restraint like that, it was basically an issue of agreeing on a (SIMPLE) concept as quickly as possible, figuring out the tools to use, and diving in.

Heads Up! Hot Dogs is our brand-franking-new action touch game for iOS. It’s kind of a hectic absurdist space management game about putting hot dogs on people’s heads to save them from getting dirty and decomposing (also, hot dog puns). We’ve been working on it since January and just released with [adult swim] games. I think if we had been focusing full-time on this game, we probably could have completed it in a few months. But meeting less than once a week due to school and full-time jobs has drawn it out. That’s actually been kind of helpful, as Emmett has had a lot of time to get a better grasp of Objective C and we’ve been able to put a lot of thought into the game.

EB: I don’t have much to add to this, just speaking to the mention of my lack of familiarity with iPhone programming. When I started writing Heads Up, I had more or less never touched iPhone code before, so obviously the first few months were a rough process. As you’d expect, though, I came out on the other side with a near-encyclopedic knowledge of the technologies I used – which is what one would hope for working on the same project for ten months.

MBYou’ve now had two games you’ve worked on featured on Kotaku; describe that.  Have you noticed an uptick in interest after those profiles?

Ultimate Flirt-Off

DG: Like I said before, Flirt-Off was my first completed game, and definitely my first public release, and I spent months convincing myself that it was no good, that nobody would play it and I would never get into school because it wasn’t polished enough and the dialogue tree is too limited and the character choices aren’t diverse and blah blah blah, I was really self-conscious about showing it to anyone.
I released it on Thursday and on Saturday it was on IndieGames, and then Kotaku on Monday. I freaked out. I absolutely lost it. If that hadn’t happened, I don’t know that I would have jumped into Heads Up! so soon after. It gave me a lot of confidence and affirmed my belief that I need to be creating things. Since then I’ve had my box art blog featured on a few sites and I’ve made a lot of connections in the games world, so I wasn’t that surprised when Heads Up! Got the coverage it did. I think maybe Emmett feels differently about that…

EB: Being featured on blogs is so weird. Heads Up is still this project that I think of as very personal, and I had to be deliberate about accepting the apparent fact that people were treating something I built as if it was a “real thing”. It’s a total confidence booster, but it’s also a bit scary as a one-man programming team – what if I missed a bug? I was really surprised the first few times we got featured though.

MB: Who’s doing the music for you Heads Up! and how did that partnership come about?

EB: The music’s being done by Knife City (Anamanaguchi’s drummer Luke’s solo project) and Space Boyfriend, two good friends of ours from the chip music scene, which we both follow closely.

DG: I discovered Anamanaguchi 3 or so years ago and immediately became a huge fan. Shortly after moving to New York, I ran into Luke at a Guitar Wolf/Peelander Z concert. I never would have spoken to him, but I had THOUGHT I was missing an Anamanaguchi concert to be there. Instead, we split a cab to the other venue and I saw both shows. Now we’re working together. So weird! We met Space Boyfriend through the whole chiptune scene (and twitter). He thought I didn’t like him at first!

MB: How long have you been making your own games? How do you like collaborating over working solo? Do you find you have to compromise on your ideas or you can actually flesh them out more?

DG: I call Flirt-Off my first game, although I did do some sprite-replacement in high school, made lazy stupid things in RPG maker for Playstation, and made a terrible point and click in a basic ActionScript 2 class in college. And I guess as a kid forced to go to church, I used to draw death mazes on the pamphlets. Collaborating is amazing! Emmett and I are on a pretty similar wavelength, and with him doing code I can focus on art and give it my all. The only way we’ve ever had to compromise on things is in terms of what we have time to do. When we first started, it was really hard for me to not know exactly what was going on in the code and relinquish that control, but Emmett (seemed like he) actually knew what he was doing so it’s all for the best.

EB: I love collaborating. I did a few small game projects myself before working with Diego, and they were all great learning experiences, but the process of working with another designer on a large time scale is so different from that. I had to learn how to balance feature requests with time, how to deliver working code at a reasonable rate, and probably most importantly how to compromise on design ideas without feeling like we were losing things. We definitely have to compromise, but I think they’re healthy compromises and that our styles mesh well together. It also helps that we’re total bros.

MB: What’s the best part about game design?  The planning stage, the actual nuts and bolts creation, or when you’ve finished and you’re waiting on feedback?

DG: For me it’s the conceptualization. I think that’s largely because I am lazy and like to lie around thinking about stuff and making myself laugh. Waiting for feedback is the worst! It’s so stressful! But getting it feels pretty good usually (beware the comments).

EB: Seeing gameplay concepts go from abstract ideas in the mind of the designer to actual interactions that you can touch and feel. I think that’s a big part of the draw that I feel to software engineering in general: getting to help a design go from idea to implementation. It’s also an awesome feeling to have someone play the game you made and get some real enjoyment out of it – I love seeing people react to something that I made. As a programmer, it’s also really gratifying to see your creation not crashing and working properly after hours of head-smashing.

MB: What’s the most under-utilized/under-appreciated part of game design?  What’s the most misunderstood part?  Which aspect, if it went away, would you miss least?

DG: I don’t feel qualified to answer this, haha! We’re pretty laid back, come what may, see what sticks about this whole game. Testing and feedback is probably the most important part, because you start to recognize what the game needs added or what needs tweaking, and what needs removal. When you come up with an idea, it’s either fully formed and perfect, so testing helps you realize that’s not true and you need to work with it, or it’s totally incomplete and testing helps you figure out what the next question that needs answering is. For me, it seems like a misunderstood aspect of game design is the strange desire to pack games full of features and different types of gameplay. My favorite games are simple, streamlined, and don’t have any elements that work out of concert with the rest of the game. It’s one reason I can’t get into MMOs. Get all that HUD business out of here. The aspects I would miss least are financial requirements/stresses. It’s depressing to put things in for the sake of a buck.

EB: It’s crazy to think about the amount of untapped potential in game design. For every insane idea there are hundreds more, and I’m of the philosophy that there probably exists a way to make most ideas into viable game mechanics. I like to stay optimistic about it.

 Thank you Diego & Emmett for participating!  Come back tomorrow for part 2, where Diego & Emmett discuss art style, inspiration, going to grad school for game creation & their top five favorite games!  Please check them out on Twitter (Diego, Emmett) , Box vs. Box, Ultimate Flirt-Off and Heads Up! Hot Dogs for iPhone and iPad in the iTunes store!

The Modern Borefare Interview: Ryan & Eastin from Spaceship Long Island (Part 2)

Welcome back to the second installment of the Modern Borefare Interview with the creators of Spaceship Long Island.  In case you missed it (for shame!), part one is here.

Modern Borefare: What does the next year look like for SSLI? How far out do you have the series plotted and do you stick to that plan pretty rigidly or do you find yourself going off on tangents?

Ryan: More like what does next week look like. It kind of feels like we have just finished clearing our throats when it comes to the story.We have always had a lot ideas floating around, but until recently we weren’t always clear on how to get our characters from point A to point B. For instance, we have had a story to tell about Brooklyn since day one, but I don’t think we could have told it before now.I think it took us this long just to figure out who our characters were, where they were going and what they wanted. Now that we have a clearer sense of that I think we can start mapping out a bigger picture.

Eastin: The Hell arc was supposed to be three strips long. It turned into eleven. We knew the ending, so we just kept it going until we could reach that point naturally. So, we have a basic idea, but if something needs to be cut short or drawn out, we’ve got no problem doing either.

MB: What are your favorite webcomics?

R: No surprises. The ones I never miss are Penny Arcade and PvP. My favorite at the moment is probably Hark a Vagrant, just like everyone else on the planet. I also was sort of obsessed with this comic called Art Animals for a while. It was compelling in the same way as watching a car crash, I couldn’t make myself look away..With most other webcomics, like The Abominable Charles Christopher or Chainsawsuit, I tend to just swoop in every two months and make a run through the archives.

E: Yeah, everything Ryan listed plus xkcd. I also really dig Battlepug. Love the art in that.

R: Wow, xkcd, that is so underground.

E: I usually like to Instagram xkcd strips.

MB: What, if any, webcomic trends bother you? What annoys you about webcomics? Conversely, what excites you about webcomics?

R: I hate comics about people’s everyday lives. There are exceptions to this rule but biographical comics mostly suck. Too often biography just means wish fulfillment or self-aggrandizement. I crave characters.

E: Yeah. Not really a fan of one-panelers with ironic captions, either. What I like though? I love that people are willing to create, do, and then put it out there for the world to see. It’s kind of like all those crazy ideas you had as a kid finally have an outlet, and some of them out there are pretty damn awesome!

R: Eastin just told me that he hates Sorry Comics. Now I hate him. Sorry Comics is great because rather than being wish fulfillment it is an unblinking confessional of all the times the creator fucked up.

E: ^ Rude.

R: What excites me about webcomics is that there is literally no gatekeeper for webcomics. Anyone can make one. Imagine if that was true of video games? Movies? Academia (cough, cough)? Anything else really? I guess it is starting to happen to novels with the Kindle, but I think it is still easier to put out a webcomic and get it in front of a lot of people than pretty much anything else.

MB: Any advice for people looking to start their own comic?

R: You just have to do it. Even if you are writing a shitty biographical comic that I am going to hate, you just need to make a publishing schedule and stick to it. The hardest part is making sure there is a new comic on the site every week.In that regard, it helps to have a partner who you are responsible to. No one wants to be the guy who draws the comic at his girlfriend’s house, but then forgets the scanner at home resulting in a late strip. Not that Eastin did that.

E: Get ready to give up your weekends. Forever. Get on the social networks and talk to other creators, a lot of them are really cool and willing to spread your work if you just ask. There’s actually a really supportive community out there.

MB: What are your favorite non-webcomic comics?

 R:: I am working my way up the ladder to claim the title of the world’s biggest Thor fanboy.

Beyond that I love Conan the Barbarian comics. That means both the old Savage Sword of Conan stuff with its copious side boobs and the new Brian Wood/Becky Cloonan stuff. Obviously, I also like Wood’s Northlanders since it is essentially Conan + Thor.

My tastes are pretty omnivorous though. I will read anything. I just started reading Bone which I have wanted to get to ever since I saw it being serialized in Disney Adventures at age 12.

E: This list could go on forever. Taking a graphic novel class with Scott Snyder (RYAN: Name dropper.) really turned me into a DC fanboy, but lately, I’ve been branching out.

I’ll just throw out a few of my favorites:

Batman (Snyder and Capullo)

Animal Man (Lemire)

Sweet Tooth (Lemire)

Invincible (Kirkman)

Wonder Woman (Azzarello)

Wolverine and the X-Men (Aaron)

Peter Panzerfaust (Wiebe)

Action Comics (Morrison)

More and more I’m finding a lot of really good creator owned stuff, which is really exciting to see. There are comics about everything–so don’t ever let anyone tell you they have no interest in reading a comic book.

Oh and a really weird and depressing book that is beautifully illustrated is Jimmy Corrigan: Smartest Kid on Earth. It’s worth taking a look.

MB: Going to NYCC this year?  If so, do you plan on doing anything differently from last year?

R: Definitely! Last year we had no idea what we were doing. We just kind of wandered around handing out flyers and temporary tattoos. It was pretty sad actually. I think in total we got like 50 hits from all our “marketing.”

This year I think our approach will be more about networking and less about promotion. NYCC is such a sensory overload that no one is going to remember some webcomic guys who gave them a flyer. If we can link up with some other creators this year I would consider that a victory.

E: I’m totally pumped for it! Like Ryan said, last year we had no idea what we were doing. We probably passed by some really great writers and artists and had no clue who they were. I feel much more prepared this year.

And I just love browsing the vendors from the small ones to right on up to Midtown Comics.

Let’s get those badges!

MB: Do you see yourself eventually going to a 2 or even 3 times a week schedule?

 R: We would love, love, love to do this. Hell, we’d put it out seven days a week! Once we successfully run a $100k Kickstarter and are able to quit our day jobs we will get right on it!

Truthfully though, three days a week would probably be the sweet spot for a strip like SSLI. We like doing longer strips, so a daily would be too ambitious.

The once a week thing is more a result of the time we are able to put in rather than a conscious choice.

MB:Anything I forgot to mention that you’d like to bring up?  Feel free! (Rants are fine but I draw the line at screeds.)

 SELF-IMPOSED QUESTION #1: Which of you is more handsome?

E: Ryan.

R: You’re really too kind, but who could argue?

SELF-IMPOSED QUESTION #2: What time is it right now?

R: 1AM

SELF-IMPOSED QUESTION #3: Which of you is still awake?

R: Not Eastin.

After the jump check out the original outline for the end of the Multar fight:

Continue reading

The Modern Borefare Interview: Ryan & Eastin from Spaceship Long Island (Part 1)

Welcome to the inaugural installment of The Modern Borefare Interview, a series of discussions with the up-and-coming creators, writers, builders and DIY’ers of the comics/video game/pop culture scene. The very first people to submit themselves to our merciless grilling are:

Modern Borefare: Tell the MB audience about yourselves!

Ryan: Hi, I’m Ryan. I recently turned thirty, freaked out, dropped out of a PhD program and got a job. I make the webcomic Spaceship Long Island with Eastin. My gaming proclivities tend toward tabletop and my comic reading tends toward pulp.

Eastin: Hello! I’m Eastin. I’m pursuing my MFA in creative writing and literature at Stony Brook Southampton and teach English to international students. I work on and read comics on the side. The idea is to one day do the comic thing full time. Also, I’m totally awesome and much better than Ryan.

MB: How long was the planning/conceptual phase of SSLI before you launched the site? What was the time span between “I’m/we’re really going to do this” until the first strip was published? Where did your inspiration for the strip come from?

Ryan: The time between the initial concept and the first page was literally about one minute. And you could tell. We were sitting at the kitchen table, I think we were both grading student papers, and we just hit a wall. The concept for SSLI, that the earth explodes and Long Island flies off into space, was just one of those dumb things you talk about when you are stressed out and trying to procrastinate.

Eastin: About an hour later we had three terrible pages that we posted to Facebook. A week later we had a shabby looking Comicpress page and were committing ourselves to weekly updates.

R: Honestly, if it hadn’t started that way, we would probably would have just spent months in the planning stage before finally giving up. Our original concept was very different though. MFA was originally going to be the main character. The premise was that after Earth exploded everyone on Long Island would be assigned new “spaceship-centric” jobs based on their skill set. MFA was going to be assigned the job of toilet scrubber, and the story was going to be his ascent from toilet scrubber to poet-space-hero. When we really thought about it though, that seemed a little over-complicated, and we weren’t sure that people would understand what an MFA degree is. We decided it would be more fun if we just took a stereotypical Long Island d-bag, gave him some vaguely defined powers, and put him into encounters with aliens. Thus, Captain Long Island was born.

E: All of this happened between strips three and four by the way. We called a major audible on the plot.

MB: What’s with the Panda X-press guy (who I think is awesome, like a deadly Uatu)?

R: Yes! “a deadly Uatu” is an excellent description of him. I originally drew the Panda X-Press guy as just a normal dude for a Roosevelt Field Mall story arc. I was kind of enamored with him from the beginning and so I wrote up a little character arc for him in the blog post that week. I didn’t really expect to ever go back to him, but when Eastin was in Spain for a few weeks I thought it would be fun to take a look at him again. Now he has kind of evolved into his own thing. I think it was his beady little eyes that first made me fall in love.

MBWho does what?  Do you take turns writing and doing art or do you each have an established role a la Penny Arcade? Do you find collaboration makes the process easier?

E: We don’t really have set roles. We try to collaborate and divvy up the workload as evenly as possible. Sometimes one of us will end up writing the script while the other pencils. We both have, or had, rather, varying sensibilities when it comes to art, but now, more than ever, we are learning to meet in the middle to a pretty satisfying outcome. There are times when life gets in the way and one of us has to take on the full responsibilities of writing and art (Ryan, with The Quest and myself with Massively Effective and Panda Express), which is actually fun once in a while; it lets us work out our individual ideas of art and writing.

R: Collaboration definitely makes the process easier. Sometimes when you have been trying to draw an angry seagull for an hour with no luck it is nice to just look at the other guy and say… here, you do this one. Of course, we live in different cities, so when I say “look at the other guy,” I mean via Facetime.

MBSpeaking of PA, do you see writing yourselves into the comic?

R: No. I’m not that interesting 😉 And I hated it when Stephen King wrote himself into The Dark Tower.

E: Also no. There are plenty of weird and interesting real Long Islanders out there that would make better characters.

R: True! And there are too many webcomics that are about Two Guys and videogames/comics/vampires/whatever.

E: Agreed!

MB:Recently you’ve moved from black and white to color; any reason?

R: We started spending so much time shading that it just felt like it wouldn’t be too much more work to go to color. Scott Kurtz had a similar realization when he was doing his Doctor Who plot arc in PvP. I borrowed a little of his epiphany.

E: I think we were a little intimidated by color at first. We didn’t want a “paint bucket” look and so we kept putting it off until we could come up with a good enough color palette. We finally went color for the Christmas strip and it came out great. It got a nice reception. And yeah, there was so much shading…

MB: Are you creating any of the strips digitally, or are they all hand drawn then scanned? What are you using for the art?

E: All of my pencils are hand drawn. First, I don’t have a tablet, and secondly, I tried using Ryan’s once and I felt really weird about it. We have a good thing going though: I’ll do my drawings, scan them over to Ryan who then digitally inks and colors. Other times, I’ll ink and paint the strip by hand. Playing around with the watercolors has been tons of fun, too.

R: I would say 90% of my stuff is digital at this point. When I do draw by hand my process is pretty absurb. I draw on loose leaf paper, take a picture with my phone, and then e-mail it to myself to ink. I have to do this because Eastin stole my scanner.

E: I did steal it . . . shh.

(Come back tomorrow for part two, where Eastin & Ryan discuss future plans for SSLI, what they do and don’t like about webcomics, and which one is the handsomest. M Night Shyamalan wrote that question so prepare yourself for a TWIST.)

After the jump, see an original Spaceship Long Island sketch, featuring early designs for MFA and The Captain.

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