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Hello everybody!

On 01/14/2014 at 04:18 PM by Justin Matkowski

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Hello Pixlbit crew!

Figured I'd say "Hey!" to everyone and see how you all are doing. I'd finally gotten a bit of a break from freelance, and then decided to dive headlong into some spec work (which is why I haven't been around much the past couple weeks) because I am a friggin masochist. This piece of work was another "Walking Dead" promo image, and I'm quite happy with the final product - had to build "Lucille" (Negan's baseball bat) from scratch, which was a great exercise in texture/lighting. It's been doing well on twitter (Gale Anne Hurd even tweeted it)! Here's a look for those who would fancy one.


I've also been working on some stuff for Pixlbit, including my "Game of The Generation" article. It was pretty tough to narrow down to one title considering this has been my favorite gaming generation since the 16-bit era (although, in my humble opinion the 16-bit era will forever be the greatest :). I'm also going to be working on the next installation of The Forge, so keep your eyes peeled! 

On the gaming side of things, hopefully now I will be able to fully dive back into Dark Souls. I also plan on playing some SNES classics, most likely Harvest Moon and Earthbound. I'm especially excited for Earthbound, since I haven't played it before and I can't wait to explore it!

How has everyone been? What have you been playing? 



Matt Snee Staff Writer

01/14/2014 at 05:01 PM

been playing WW and Super Mario 3D world but there's a bunch of games on Steam I'm gonna get next month including DayZ. 

That's a cool image.  I don't know much about the walking dead, but I do know that bat looks a little dangerous. 

Justin Matkowski Staff Alumnus

01/14/2014 at 05:46 PM

Thanks Matt! Honestly, those two games have made me consider getting a Wii U - I've heard awesome things about both, and there will definitely be more Nintendo 1st party that might make me finally take the plunge.

Let me know what you think of DayZ when you pick it up! It's insane how many people have picked up the Alphia already!


01/14/2014 at 05:59 PM

That promo is really cool work Justin. I've been playing Spelunky every night for a while now, then if I can stop I try to fit in a little bit of Red Dead Redemption.

Justin Matkowski Staff Alumnus

01/14/2014 at 06:30 PM

Thanks Mike! I still need to pick up Spelunky - I'll be doing that once I put at least a small dent into my growing back catalogue. I've heard great things about it, and in all likelihood I'll pick it up sooner rather than later.

Red Dead is by far one of my favorite games of this past generation; occassionally I still pop into Free Roam to just ride around and have some good ol' shoot outs!


01/14/2014 at 07:22 PM

I talk a little about both games in my newest blog. I've had a hard time trying to reason out exactly why Spelunky is so good, smarter people than me have discussed it at length but it's been tougher for me to nail it down.

I feel that Spelunky is just about a perfect game, one of my favorite platformer puzzle games ever. It doesn't appear to be a puzzler on the surface, and it isn't marketed that way, but when you get into theory and break down what you're actually doing, the game is more about solving puzzles around you and surviving, the platforming is more or less just the means to an end. People that try to play it like an actual platformer end up not surviving very long and it ends up being more frustrating than it should. It's all about looking around your character, thinking 2 or 3 steps ahead of yourself, and then using the exact mechanics and skills needed to get to where you need to go. A little bit like Dark Souls but they certainly have a lot of differences too. I really enjoyed the process of getting better at combat in Dark Souls and developing adequate timing and logic for what strategies to use for different situations, and Spelunky has that same kind of satisfying learning experience except magnified and purified so that it is the game.

So far I've died 850 times total (the game keeps track for you lol) and I've never been mad at the game or wanted to quit. I've been furious before but it's always because you usually immediately see what went wrong and how you made a stupid choice or performed a move poorly. Spelunky's systems and rules are consistent and the mechanics are tuned for expert players so the game doesn't cow down to anybody or hold your hand, it lets you learn all the nuances on your own, develop your skills, and the way the levels are designed to be short and the rapid way you can get right back into the game after a death makes you want to keep getting better. Make it just a little bit further next time. All of that says nothing of the great music, cool visuals, mountains of secrets in the game, and the replayability that the procedurally generated levels offers.

That's awful, I should be able to make better sense of it than that and explain it better, but I'm new to this kind of game design so I'm still wrapping my head around what the game is doing right and how it's doing it, let alone describing it.

Justin Matkowski Staff Alumnus

01/14/2014 at 08:01 PM

I think you've explained it really well, actually - you've definitely peaked my interest - another game added to the "I must play this very, very soon" pile! I'm a fan of the process of learning a game and it's mechanics, and a big part of that is peaking into the design element of things and learning from them. Spelunky sounds like my cup of tea!


01/15/2014 at 03:14 AM

The Official Playstation Blogcast has been gushing about Spelunky for months now. <Groan> I'm sure it's great, but hard platformers are not my cup of tea.

Super Step Contributing Writer

01/14/2014 at 07:29 PM

Been a hell of a lot more relaxed than I was last year, I'll say that. Playing PC games.

I wish my freelance streak had been a bit more successful, but of course the e-mails I get asking me to come do a shoot somewhere came in when I was back getting my Masters. -_-

I dig your work, though. Not a huge zombie fan, but I'm impressed you built that bat from scratch. 

Justin Matkowski Staff Alumnus

01/14/2014 at 08:03 PM

It's all part of the ebb and flow of freelance - sometimes you are so busy you want to tear your hair out, and then you hit a dry spell and want to tear your hair out for other reasons, haha! What are you going for your Masters in?

Thank you for the kind words!  The bat was by far the trickiest element, and I went through a bunch of builds and revisions before I got the texture/lighting I was shooting for.

Super Step Contributing Writer

01/14/2014 at 08:15 PM

Mass Communications. I'm also the Station Manager for KSAU (*cough* *cough*). 


And no problem!


01/14/2014 at 08:29 PM

Whoa, nice! It can be hard to balance work, life, and games. Sometimes blogging falls by the wayside.

I certainly have an idea of what I'd call the game of the generation, though I suppose it could vary wildly depending on your criteria.

Justin Matkowski Staff Alumnus

01/14/2014 at 10:01 PM

Thanks! It can be a tough juggling act at times, but I have some irons in the fire for Pixlbit :) 

I'm excited to hear everyone's take on Game of The Generation; it's such a personal choice, and I always love hearing about people's favorite gaming experiences and why a particular title resonated with them.

Cary Woodham

01/14/2014 at 08:39 PM

Believe it or not, I never liked EarthBound.  The battle system was too archaic, and the storyline was so nonsensical that it was hard to know what to do or where to go next sometimes.  There's a reason why they packed a strategy guide in the original game.

Right now I'm trying to finish Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies so I can start on Chibi Robo: Photo Finder.  With games like that, it's hard for me to discuss gaming with the general public and a lot of typical gamers, too. :)

Now go read my blog. :)

Justin Matkowski Staff Alumnus

01/14/2014 at 10:05 PM

Interesting - as someone who's never played Earthbound, I'm really trying to wipe my mind of all the hype surrounding it and go in fresh. It's nice to hear the voices of dissent about a seemingly universally-loved title, it keeps it grounded and keeps things honest!

I've never played any of the Phoenix Wright games, perhaps I should get on that! And we need people like you discussing the games that a lot of other people graze over; a lot of those titles are a pleasant surprise to say the least.

PS. I will go read your blog Smile


01/14/2014 at 08:56 PM

Nice work Justin. I've been playing Etrian Odyssey IV and Tales of Graces F. After SMT IV this is a little light gaming. LOL

Justin Matkowski Staff Alumnus

01/14/2014 at 10:08 PM

Thank you! And you also win the title of the first person I've heard refer to playing JRPGs as a "light gaming". Hahaha!


01/14/2014 at 09:36 PM

cool work dude! I love the walking dead. I ve not played earthbound either so you can be my gateway into the experience!

Justin Matkowski Staff Alumnus

01/14/2014 at 10:09 PM

Thanks man! As do I - it's rare to see an IP translate so well across mediums, but I love the comics, TV show, and TellTale's fantastic, episodic title.

I'll be sure to let you know what I think of Earthbound!

Travis Hawks Senior Editor

01/14/2014 at 09:38 PM

That promo image is really slick, Justin!

I'm doing just fine. I played a bunch of short games over the holidays on PC, am diligently trying to wrap up Etrian Odyssey Untold, and working on Don't Starve on PS4. 

Looking forward to your next edition of The Forge, which always makes me want to get a good PC.

Justin Matkowski Staff Alumnus

01/14/2014 at 10:11 PM

Thank you Travis! I've heard Don't Starve is really awesome, what do you think so far?

Glad you're looking forward to the next edition of The Forge - there's a couple different mod themes that I'm kicking around for this installment. In any case, it should be interesting Cool

Travis Hawks Senior Editor

01/14/2014 at 10:19 PM

So far, I really like it. You have to be the sort of person who can take repeated plays and frustration. I need to play a lot more to really form an opinion. Best game yet was ended by a flock of angry pengulls who pecked my pyro girl to death.

Also, I agree that Spelunky is worthwhile. I have it on Steam and when I'm in the right mood, I have a lot of fun with it.


01/14/2014 at 10:41 PM

Hey Justin. I'm glad to hear that your still alive lol. Nice job on the Walking Dead image and good luck with Earthbound. I tried playing that game a couple of times, but I couldn't get into it. I'm sure there are reasons why so many people love it though. I ordered a new PC, and am so super excited for it! Laughing

Justin Matkowski Staff Alumnus

01/14/2014 at 11:29 PM

lol Thanks Aaron! I've heard so much about Earthbound that I'm really trying my best to go in fresh with no expectations, although that can be really tough to do! 

Congrats on the new PC my man! What did you go with? And I'm going to go back now that I have some time and catch up on your retro reviews!


01/15/2014 at 12:07 AM

I didn't want to say too much yet, but it's an Alienware X51 with this video card in it. I plan on writing something about it after I spend some time with it. I've never had a nice PC, so it's really exciting. Now I will actually be able to run Skyrim and try out some of those mods you mention in the Forge. Although no matter how fancy it is, the first game I'm gonna play is Brutal Doom lol.

Justin Matkowski Staff Alumnus

01/15/2014 at 12:33 AM

Damn Aaron that sounds beastly! If you do pickup Skyrim, let me know which mods you are enjoying and I'd be glad to feature them - and Brutal Doom it up, brother!

Congrats on the new rig!


01/15/2014 at 03:18 AM

THE FORGE!!! I can't wait. 

I've been playing Advance Wars on a red DS Lite and XCOM: UFO Defense on my silver PS2 slim. Gotta stay stylish with my console choices, even more than with the games I play on them. Oh yeah!

Justin Matkowski Staff Alumnus

01/15/2014 at 01:31 PM

Got some cool stuff coming bud :) Glad you enjoy The Forge!


01/15/2014 at 09:10 AM

That poster is pretty sweet.

Justin Matkowski Staff Alumnus

01/15/2014 at 01:31 PM

Thank you sir!

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