Introducing, ManaGrind.

4th of January, 2014

A while back I was looking for a new project. Something fresh that I can focus energies onto. Hearthstone, Blizzards new online card game came out, and I was instantly hooked. I realized this game would be a competitive and eSports success, and saw it as an opportunity to help build a game’s competitive community from the ground up. I contacted many different websites and communities who’s game of choice was Hearthstone, looking to give a hand where I could. ManaGrind was one of the bunch I emailed, and the first thing we busted out was a new logo.


There was a pre-existing ManaGrind logo and we did not want to stray too far from it, so I created some iterations to evaluate and talk about. We ended up rolling with a logo that is really a combination of all of the rough iterations put into one, and I really like how it turned out.


The logo can be broken down into pieces that stand on their own, and styled to fit any image that the logo is placed on. This ability made it very easy to create small, clear icons (Twitter, youtube, etc), web page headers and advertisements, and alternative logos for other parts of the ManaGrind community.


I used the logo to create a graphic advertisement for the ManaGrind Open, a weekly tournament held for both NA and EU Hearthstone. If I could, I would make the wispy stuff animated and eminating from the mana gem inside the gear. That would be bad-ass. Anyone know how to do that, want to teach me?


A version of the ManaGrind logo can be seen in the Manacast logo. Manacast is the weekly video that discusses the competitive state of Hearthstone, and is watched by thousands of gamers looking to develop their skills each week. Along with this logo was a whole overlay, which you can see on the videos on Youtube. Oh, also the Youtube header, ya, lots of stuff.

When the Manacast videos are finished, they’re uploaded to Youtube. I created a quick intro for the videos to give them a lead-in and add some production value to the videos. This was the first time I had used After Effects, but some amazing tutorials over at Video Copilot helped me pick up the program quickly.

We’re just getting started at ManaGrind, and 2014 will be a huge year for the community, and for Hearthstone.


Mini-Characters Update!

4th of January, 2014

Polished up some sketches for my mini-Characters on the computer. There are 10 of them, and I cant choose my favorite, but I did start doing some 3d modeling!


The modeling helped me learn and understand what to expect when I ask for help from an experienced modeler with the project. I spent hours rigging and animating the guy, but nothing ever looked great. I believe I should defer this part of the project to someone else.


If there are any 3d modelers who would be interested in this project (Jimmymon, totally a fake name) Leave your email/skype/twitter/phone number/mailing address in the comments below!


Jimmymon Prototype

4th of January, 2014

This game prototype was an experiment in the Unity engine, and learning javascript. This is the first thing I had ever programmed. Creating the prototype was fun, difficult, and super rewarding. Many thanks to Graham for helping me unwind knots.. lots of knots.

Play Jimmymon

This prototype is over a year old now. And one thing I did after I made the prototype was sketch what I wanted the prototype to actually look like at some point, which you can see in this post. There was also a sketch of the ‘Character Screen’ where a user would be able to build their party, pick each member’s moves, and see the member’s stats.


Later in the year I picked Unity and JavaScript back up and tinkered with a new prototype. This time in 3d. I was focusing on ‘How the hell do user interfaces work in Unity’. I do tons of UI work at work, but that’s with proprietary software that I have helped build from scratch. It’s time to learn a new tool.

My goal was to make a UI that allowed a user to pick from many parts to construct a weapon. I actually achieved that goal at one point, and it was pretty awesome. But then I started to tweak and look to do other things and overwrote the scene and the scripts. Opps. But trust me, it was AWESOME.

I will definitely get back into the 2nd prototype and get a build for others to try.

Personal Branding Post Mortem

2nd of January, 2014

Earlier in 2013 I had the opportunity to work with a friend to develop his personal brand so that he would have a hot business card to give away at GDC. His name is Graham, and he’s an AI and Systems engineer. In order to efficiently use my time developing a representative logo for Graham, I wanted to know about his situation and his intentions. I gave him an email with a list of questions and ideas the think about. It only took a month to hear back from him, neither of us were in a hurry.


  • Explain to me what it is you do. If you can give me a 1/2 sentence which clearly indicates what you do/want to do, we’re golden.
  • Word dump. I wanted him to figure out what he’s about. Write down every word that comes to mind when you think about your job, career, interests.
  • Prioritize the word dump. Which words are more important and meaningful than others.
  • Write a list of assets that you’re looking to create. This helps me understand his expectations of me, and get us both on the same page.


With all of the information, sketching 50 ideas down on paper should take no time at all.


I collected reference images from the internet using Google images, Dribbble, and Behance and sketched every single stupid, awful, bad, cruddy idea i came up with. But in that pile of turd there were a few concepts I thought could be good jumping-off points and mocked them up on the computer for sake of clarity when presenting them to Graham. Because this is a personal branding exercise, it’s important that the icon or logo incorporates the person it is representing, most often this is by finding creative uses of the person’s initials (G.P.).

  • A.I. Pathing arrows that resemble mustache brackets (frequently used in programming languages).
  • Hollow initials that show the ‘insides’ of Graham. A logical and systems orientated thinker.
  • Stylized pathing symbols that represent what happens when two entities meet. Very faint G.P. initials.
  • Boids in the shape of a G. Boids represent how items in a flock (yes, birds) react and move with one another.


With two concepts to work with I began focusing on the shapes of the concepts, how each shape is positioned on the image, and what information should be on the front / back of the business card. I experimented with a large variety of colors at this stage and eventually whittled the broad spectrum down to a few different hues. The gradient helped pop the shapes off the background and helped make the name a focal point on the card, so that ended up sticking around. It’s unclear to me how colors are usually picked for logos and icons, our process was “Let’s make the icon with all the colors, and pick a favorite”, no clear design decisions or reasons were made.


We came to agreement in the information, and wanted to try a few different color scheme and positioning combinations. Getting close, this is where we communicated most frequently due to the speed of these iterations and minor tweaks.

Once we had the final images and layouts, we picked as the printer we wanted to use to generate the business cards. The layout of the design made conforming the card to the business card scale easy. In the future I am going to work with a printer in mind already, and work at their scales from the start to avoid any cropping and bleeding issues. The prints came out pretty good, and Graham was able to give many away at GDC.

BusinessCard_GrahamPentheny_BackThat’s a wrap!

Graham has also set up a blog at – Check it out!

License 2 Beard

2nd of July, 2013

A friend of mine, Alvin, approached me with the desire to make a game about having a beard license. Something which you used to have back in the day because some mean guy thought facial hair was distasteful. To mock previously mentioned mean guy, Alvin and I created License 2 Beard. A side-scrolling runner in which the user plays the roll of a weird naked guy with a beard-sword who’s mission seems to be to run from the imaginative authority for as long as possible. Along the way the player has to avoid some weird green stuff seeping onto the street, an angry old Italian barber who seems to continuously get in your way, and a large, bazooka wielding black woman. Alvin found the ideal soundtrack for the game, and with permission from the original artist, was allowed to put it into the build.

Play License 2 Beard

Developed in Unity, programmed by Alvin Phu, and art by me!


Needless to say, we did not take this game seriously, but it was a serious amount of fun. It’s stupid simple, and took us about 2 days to, using the word loosely, develop. Our goal was ‘to finish something’. We wanted to achieve the goal as quickly, as simply, and with as much fun as we could. This was a great exercise because we walked away feeling like champs because we were able to attain the original goal. Within the game industry, it generally takes years to call a game finished and in some cases games are never finished, they’re released then built upon. L2B’s scope was small from the start because Alvin and I wanted to ‘release’ something, to just ‘make a game’, and not deal with all the other crap.


Mini Characters part II

30th of June, 2013

I’ve had the opportunity to do some sketching for fun while waiting for other things to catch up. I quite like the results, and I think it’s time to take action. I enjoy making the sketches because I am learning more and more each sketch and I enjoy putting together these characters. In the last post you saw some of the original sketches, here are some updated sketches which are coming along.



Let’s take some action! I can continue to create stacks of the sketches and numerous characters. If my goal were to create some sort of side-income from these sketches, what are my options?

  • Sell Prints

Mini-Character Sketches

18th of June, 2013

Did a few sketches while at work rendering some 3d stuff (It demands all of my computer resources it seems). I’ve needed a creative outlet at work recently, so these were nice to do. Inspired by Mini Ninja’s by Io Interactive.

It could be cool to develop this style a bit more and consider using it for Jimmymon, my Pokemon-esque game that I would like to get around developing more. Here’s a sketch of the battle UI.


Steam Summer Sale 2012

Steam Summer Sale 2013

10th of June, 2013

I have never bought a game during the Steam Summer Sale. I have a backlog of games I “just HAVE to play” that stretches longer than a 5 year old’s Christmas list. However, there are a few games that I have had my eye on and if the price is right, I will scoop up. What’s that short list? You asked because you’re oh too polite. Well let me tell you! Without having played the games myself, the descriptions are bound to be slightly inaccurate.


In FTL, you assume the role of Captain in a spaceship. You’re goal is to survive, and be the mightiest captain you can be. I’ve heard many great things of this game’s simplicity in presentation but difficulty to master. From what I can tell this game was a great success especially considering it was developed by only two people, but I’m not sure why yet. The screenshots do not look at that appealing, loads of buttons, tons of colors, and no one thing that attracts my attention. The images lead me to believe there are lots of parts to micromanage to ensure victory and survival of my crew which is off putting, but hopefully all the bits and pieces are introduced in a manner that allows you to master one at a time. I’m pumped to board enemy ships leading the aliens to assume I come in peace only to blast them with my laser guns, to build and upgrade my ship by with the remains of my mutilated enemies, and see what all the hub bub was about albeit a year late.

Current Price: $9.99

Would buy for: $4.99 (50% Off)



Like FTL, in XCOM you’re leading a crew of sci-fi bad asses into a turn-based battle against aliens. You’re ultimate goal is to fend of the invasion. You do this by capturing aliens and learning their weaknesses to develop better technology and battle strategies. Sick! I was going to get this game on day one until I found out that it was a full $60 dollar game. Created by the developers of Civilization(one of my first computer games), Firaxis, this game seems pretty high budget from the trailer and screenshots so I am optimistic on the overall quality. The one feature that really calls my attention is the perma-death. If one of your crew members falls in battle, they’re gone for good. As the leader, you develop a connection with your crew because you’re constantly fighting with them, learning with them, and building their abilities up. All for nothing if the die. Yea! No mercy! I guess you also build up a XCOM Headquaters, but that seems glossed over in the steam page, so I don’t know what to expect there.

Current Price: $39.99

Would buy for: $29.99 (25% Off)



Look at those colors. Damn. Bioshock Infinite has to be one of the most visually appealing game’s I’ve ever seen, and that’s only from screenshots and TV commercials. I recently finished Bioshock 1 and was left pumped up for number 3. I’m going to skip 2, because it was developed by a different team, and seems a bit lack luster compared to what the original created. Listing the reasons I want to play this game could take too much of everyone’s time, bottom line is play Bioshock 1 ($20) if you haven’t. The reason I have yet to play it? I guess I keep forgetting about it in my frenzy of work, but at the right price, I will pick this game up and make time to play it.

Current Price: $59.99

Would buy for: $39.99 (33% Off)

Let’s hope Steam decides to hit these three games with the sale-stick. I will definitely report back with my thoughts on these three games when I get the chance to play them, because everyone want’s to hear what game artist thinks, right?