Epic Gamer of the Month: Dot Stasny

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Hey guys, welcome to this week’s edition of “Epic Gamer Artists.” Tim here, sitting down with Dot from the Epic Gamers Community, who makes the awesome stuffed Tickers! They are quite the fan favorite, as well as the folks at Epic. Now let’s dive in on how she goes into creating them!

Tim: Tell us a little bit about yourself, and what you do.

Dot Stasny TickerbunDot: I live in a small town in Connecticut and I work for Microsoft doing inventory, as well as some freelance Production Assistant work for a TV/film/documentary production company. I went to school for live audio engineering for theater, but my main interest is in foley/voice over recording. Eventually, I hope to get into that field.

In my spare time (of which I don’t have much,) I’m pretty much a giant nerd – I’m a member of the 501st Legion, a Star Wars costuming group and I have my own Stormtrooper armor. I’m not as big a Star Wars fan anymore, so I’m looking to branch out in costuming – I really want to get a set of Gears COG armor going, as well as a set of Halo armor.

Other than that, I try to spend as much of my limited free time relaxing as possible, but that never happens! Usually I’m sketching patterns for new projects, drawing for my own enjoyment, reading or watching really bad horror/sci-fi movies.

T: Are you a gamer? Pretty sure you’ve played some Gears of War!

Dot Stasny TickerbunD: I’ve been a gamer pretty much as far back as I can remember! My grandparents had an Atari for us, so I spent a LOT of time playing Mouse Trap. When I was like 5, my cousins used to troll me by making me play E.T.- The Extraterrestrial, saying that ET needed my help. I spent hours sitting in the TV room while my cousins ran around outside playing and doing fun things and I was trying to float ET out of holes.

I’ve pretty much only been a console gamer – Atari, NES, Genesis, N64, PS1, PS2, Xbox, Xbox 360, PS3. I really dig handhelds, but I can’t get into them as much, unless it’s Pokémon, really. I also have a Sega Game Gear, but after I lost the AC Adapter, my parents refused to mortgage the house to buy batteries for it.

Dot Stasny TickerbunI LOVE Gears! I actually got into Gears pretty late – I only had my 360 for a few months before Gears 2 came out, and picked up Gears 1 maybe a month or two before Gears 2, but after playing some co-op with a co-worker who eventually became one of my best friends (because we played so much Gears together,) I was totally hooked.

T: In terms of what kind of medium you use, what would you say it would be? I’ve noticed you enjoy working with sewing things up!

D: For making the plushies, I pretty much only use jersey knit material. When I first started, I just went to Wal-Mart and picked up a bunch of 4XL t-shirts and used them for ticker material, and for the most part, still do, because it’s less expensive and it’s easier to find the colors I need. I originally started making plushies out of t-shirts only because that’s what I had laying around the house, but I’ve been looking into trying flannel and fleece for future projects.

T: Your Tickers are quite the fan favorite. What gave you the inspiration to make these stuffed buddies? I think you’ve captured Flak’s and raczilla’s heart with their cuteness.

Dot Stasny TickerbunD: Thanks! It basically all stems from Twitter. Cliff Bleszinski tweeted about pet ticker costumes. Looking back, he probably wasn’t 100% serious, but I got bored and made a ticker costume for my rabbit, Blossom, mostly because my cat would have nothing to do with that. From “Tickerbun,” I met Stacey/iFlak and she was really cool, so as a “thank you” for all the support for my silly bunny costume, I made a Tickerbun plush for her and sent it down to Epic.

After I made plush Tickerbun, she forwarded a request from someone else at Epic requesting real tickers, so I was just like “I got this” and” that’s how I got into making the plush tickers.

T: I think I remembered you making a Lambent Wretch… I thought that was pretty awesome. Tell us a little bit about him.

Dot Stasny TickerbunD: Yep! I made a plush Lambent Wretch for Zilla when I met him at PAX East. I actually had made a regular Wretch for iFlak out of the leftover material from the ticker request and sent that down. When I found I was going to be meeting raczilla at PAX East, I was already making a ticker for someone else and didn’t really want to go down that route, I was nowhere near satisfied with any of the other ideas I was throwing around, and I didn’t want to send him a standard Wretch because I’d already done that, so I tweaked the original Wretch patterns to make it Lambent. It’s basically a palette swap, so I like to think of them as Smoke and Noob Saibot.

T: Have you drawn anything related to Gears?

D: Actually no, it never really occurred to me. I do draw, but usually it’s just animals or dinosaurs or cartoony, cutesy things. The closest thing I’ve ever done that was remotely close to fan art would probably be the holiday card I sent some of the folks at Epic this past Christmas, and that was primarily just “Photoshopping” pre-existing pictures into a holiday scene.

T: Before we end this, what do you want to say to your fellow Epic Gamers in the community?

D: Everyone in the Epic Gamers community is fantastic! The passion you guys have for all things Epic and for gaming in general is insanely awesome! I’m proud to be among the ranks of the Epic Gamers!

We have chosen Dot to be our Epic Gamer of the Month! Dot will receive an Epic Edition signed by Cliff Bleszinski and an Epic swag bag. Thank you Dot for being an Epic Gamer!

Cliff Bleszinski on Reddit AmA

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Our very own Cliff Bleszinski will participate in a Reddit.com AMA (ask me anything) this Friday September 14th at 1:30 PM Eastern.

Here is Cliff’s picture proof! One random participant will be chosen to receive the signed Lancer, so get ready Redditors!

Cliff Bleszinski Reddit AMA

Epic Games Podcast: Episode 7 – Fortnite With Pete Ellis

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In this PAX Prime edition of the Epic Games Podcast, Fortnite Lead Artist Pete Ellis talks about what inspired Fortnite’s stylized look, how to make it as an artist in the video game industry and more.

 

 

 

Do you have more questions about Fortnite? Post them in the comments and we’ll follow up with Pete in a future podcast.

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Epic Games Podcast on iTunes (Available Soon)

Epic Games Podcast: Episode 5 with Tanya Jessen

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In this special San Diego Comic-Con episode of the Epic Games podcast, Producer Tanya Jessen chats with @Raczilla and @iFlak about Fortnite. Today at San Diego Comic Con, people attending the Fortnite panel had their very first look at the co-op sandbox survival game and the Fortnite building system.

We also announced that Fortnite is the first game that is using Unreal Engine 4 and that the games is being developed for a 2013 PC release.

In Fortnite, players will explore, forage, collaborate and build by day in their own dynamic and expanding world. At night, they’ll work together to defend their prized fortress from the forces of darkness.

Stay tuned to fortnitegame.com, Twitter, (twitter.com/fortnitegame) Facebook (www.facebook.com/fortnitegame) and here for more Fortnite information or join in the discussion on the Epic Forums.

Podcast correction: Gears of War: Past, Present and Future Panel takes place on Friday, July 13.

 

Gears of War: Past, Present and Future Panel at Comic-Con

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San Diego Comic Con - Gears of War 2 XP Event

The San Diego Comic-Con news continues this week as we reveal our plans for the Gears of War panel.

We’ll have more news about exclusive swag and where you can play the new Gears of War: Judgment multiplayer mode OverRun, but until then, here are the details of the panel.

Gears of War:  Past, Present and Future
San Diego Comic-Con
Friday, July 13, 2012, 2:00p.m. – 3:00p.m., Room: 6BCF

G4 TV Host and video game goddess, Morgan Webb, will serve as moderator as Epic Games comes together to discuss the past, present and future of the Gears of War franchise. The creative and technical minds behind one of the most successful game franchises in history will be on hand to share experiences with attendees.

Panelists include: Epic Games’ Design Director Cliff Bleszinski (@therealcliffyb) and Director of Production Rod Fergusson, (@GearsViking)  writers Tom Bissell and Rob Auten, and the voice of Baird, Fred Tatasciore. This panel will feature extended Q&A session.

Fortnite Panel at Comic-Con: Fortnite Revealed

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Fortnite Panel at Comic-Con 2012On Thursday, July 12 at 10:45 to 11:45 AM PST at San Diego Comic-Con, be sure to check out the panel, Epic Games Presents: Fortnite Revealed.

Host Jessica Chobot (G4TV’s X-Play, Attack of the Show) will join Epic Games as it lifts the veil on its new game Fortnite. Teased late last year, attendees will be the very first people in the world to see Fortnite in action.

Get inside the minds of Epic Games‘ Design Director Cliff Bleszinski,  Producer Tanya Jessen and Lead Artist Pete Ellis as they reveal inspirations, gameplay details, and why Fortnite is taking Epic Games in both a classic and all-new direction.

The panel will be held in Room 6A.

Follow the Fortnite Twitter and Facebook accounts for more information about the panel and swag giveaways. Seats are limited to 1000, so be sure to get there early!

Epic Composer Interview: Robert Allen

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Robert Allen Epic Composer InterviewAs a part of our Epic Games 20th Anniversary celebration we wanted to feature some of the wonderful composers who have created music that was included in our Epic Games 20th Anniversary Original Soundtrack (available for free here!)  Robert Allen is the talent behind the music of Jazz Jackrabbit and Epic Pinball and two of his tracks are featured on our anniversary soundtrack!

Robert currently is married with five wonderful children and is a Senior Engineer.  He’s in the early stages of developing a digital content licensing marketplace called New Digit Media.  He now makes music for fun in his free time instead of professionally.  We caught up with Robert and got all the details about what it was like composing video game music with Epic!

PixelK1tty: When did you first begin composing music?

Robert Allen: I started composing music when I was 5 or so. I don’t believe I ever had the “gift”, but I worked pretty hard at it until I could come up with something I liked.

PK: How did you first become involved in creating music for video games?

Jazz Jackrabbit Epic 20th Anniversary SoundtrackRA: Shortly after I got my first PC I was introduced to Bulletin Board Systems. One of the first games I downloaded was the shareware version of Jill of the Jungle. It was amazing for the time. I had never seen or heard anything like it. The graphics were an incredible 256 colors – almost life-like. The sounds effects were strange, but somehow fit, and I was immediately impressed with Dan Froelich’s music. I wanted to do that.

The CATALOG.EXE program that came with the game had a “Calling All Programmers and Artists” screen that I noticed had the same address as the order screen so I called the order number to see if I could get a hold of anyone who could tell me how to get a foot in the door. On a whim, I asked for the founder of the company, Tim Sweeney. As it turns out, Tim was the one who answered the phone. I told him I was a musician and wanted to know how to get into the industry. He told me he didn’t have any projects that needed music at the moment, but I should send him a tape (yeah, an audio cassette) in case something came up.  He called me a week or so later and said he liked the music and would let me know if something came up.

About 9 months later he had me try out a few demos from various other developers, one was a game called “Traffic Department 2192” that was being written by John Pallet-Plowright, one of the Jill of the Jungle level designers. The other was a quirky, windows adventure game from some kid named Cliff. Tim asked if I wanted to work on them, and I jumped at the chance.

PK: What was the process like working with what was once Epic MegaGames (now Epic Games) on the Epic Pinball and Jazz Jackrabbit soundtracks? How did you collaborate?

Epic Pinball 20th Anniversary SoundtrackRA: For me, the normal process for writing the music involved getting art, example screens, or a working level. I would usually talk with the designer to find out if they had anything in mind for the music. Usually some melody or theme would come to me, but sometimes I needed to work at it for a while until something that sounded right.

From a technical perspective, working on Jazz Jackrabbit and Epic Pinball was a bit more challenging since we were moving to using sequenced digital music instead of the AdLib (FM synthesis) music that was common for the day. I’m not sure anyone had published a PC game with digital music at that point, but Epic was all about pushing the limits. Even though the sound engine was “cutting edge”, I was only allowed 4 different sounds at a time and some really stringent limits on the size of the song files. At the time, the goal was to have the complete shareware game, including the music files, fit one a single 1.44 MB floppy disc.  Certainly there were musicians who were far better at creating this kind of music, but because of my limits, I focused on some kind of catchy melody or theme that matched the graphics, and a beat that would set the pace of the level.

PK: How do you feel music adds to or enhances the gaming experience?

RA: Wow. That’s a tough question to answer in words. It is really hard to describe how music enhances a game experience, but the best way to know is to play a game while playing completely different music. Game music needs to enhance the experience. That could mean setting the pace, causing an emotion, fabricating urgency or calm. Unless the game is about music, the best musicians do this without getting in the way of the game.

Thank you Robert for taking the time to answer our questions and collaborate with us on the Soundtrack!  Epic Gamers,  be sure to check out the Jazz Jackrabbit “Menu Song” and “Space” from Epic Pinball by Robert Allen!

Unreal is 14 Years Old Today!

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Unreal Screenshot14 years ago today, many of us made our way home with an amazing prize, the video game Unreal. We played the game for hours, making our way thorough Vortex Rikers and into the beautiful world of Na Pali.

Unreal Screenshot, Thank you to Thesto Neroses Some of us jumped in fear and had to turn on the lights when the vicious enemy, the Skaarj, first came into view. It’s hard to believe 14 years have passed.

What is your favorite moment from the last 14 years of Unreal? Let us know in the comments!

Happy Birthday, Unreal.

Epic Gamers take over PAX East 2012!

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Epic Games PAX East Panel Epic Gamer Shirts

Epic Games made the journey to Boston this year for the weekend of gaming glory known as PAX East.

Epic Games PAX Easter EggHundreds of our Epic Gamers attended our  “Epic Games: Past, Present, and Future” panel where Epic Games President Dr. Mike Capps and Lead Designer Cliff Bleszinski answered the questions you submitted to us, as well as questions from the crowd.  Much to our excitement, there wasn’t a single empty seat in the Naga Theater!  There were lots of great nostalgia moments and facts for our old school fans as well as hints about future projects.  You can check out a replay of the live feed from the panel here!

Throughout the weekend, Jazz Jackrabbit was live tweeting pictures of Epic Easter eggs hidden throughout the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.  We saw many of you carrying around the eggs or tweeting us about your egg discoveries!

Epic Games Cosplay Meetup Mike Capps Cliff Bleszinski Gears of WarAfter the panel on Saturday we were surprised to find fans had already begun lining up hours in advance of our Cosplay Meetup at the Triforce booth!  Every one in line early received Epic Gamer shirts and were given the opportunity to meet Mike Capps (@epicactual) and Cliff Bleszinski (@therealcliffyb), as well as take their picture with Gears of War cosplayers that stopped by.  Community Manager Will Kinsler (@raczilla) was on hand taking photos and saying hi to fans.  I wore my Anya Stroud cosplay and took lots of pictures next to some amazing Gears cosplayers!  It was an incredible experience to see so many of you take part in this event.

Thanks to all the Epic Gamers, we had a fantastic time at PAX and we hope you did too!  We truly have the best community around and we can’t wait to see you all again next year!

Epic Games at PAX East

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Are any of our fans heading out to PAX East this weekend?  So are we!  Remember to check out all of these Epic Games related events while you are there!

Epic Games Past, Present, and Future Panel

Saturday at 1:00PM – NAGA Theater

Epic Games Design Director Cliff Bleszinski and President Dr. Mike Capps will be on stage answering questions from our biggest fans on topics relating to design, inspirations and the secrets to staying around for 20 years!  Martin Rae, President of the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences will be leading an even more in depth conversation between the two about the past, present and future of the studio.  Of course there’s also a chance to snag some awesome Epic prizes as well.

Thrashball Cole Cosplay Dale HarveyEpic Cosplay Meetup

Saturday at 5:00 PM – Triforce Booth #1123

Armor up and head to the Triforce booth wearing cosplay from an Epic game or just come as a fan for photos, prizes and a meet and greet with Cliff Bleszinski (@therealcliffyb), Dr. Mike Capps (@epicactual) and Will Kinsler (@raczilla), Epic’s Community Manager.

Please RSVP on our Facebook event if you plan to attend: https://www.facebook.com/events/142052045921373/

Epic PAX-Easter Egg Hunt

Jazz Jackrabbit, the Epic Easter bunny, has hidden Easter eggs around PAX East filled with Gears 3 DLC codes and other goodies!  Follow @EpicGames on Twitter for hints about where to find the eggs.  Keep an eye out and send us a tweet when you find them.