Sunday, November 27, 2011

Kayli Model Finalized

Hey Folks,

Just dropping by for a quick update...the Kayli model was recently updated and I'm very happy with the changes. I know, anyone still reading this blog probably can't even remember what the old one looked like. The changes were mostly in the head and face so she pretty much has the same basic body shape you saw in the previous post. I hope to have a neat model preview link here in the next week or so.

By the way, the "Naked Kayli Sighting" post was just something I did on a whim. I was messing around in Unreal and dropped the model into UDK (Unreal Development Kit) to see it in some fancy lighting. The environment you see is a tech demo area built by Epic...not by Project IITS.

We're currently working on finishing up the rig for the model (which needed fixing/editing as a result of the model changes). Once the rig is done, we can start doing more fun stuff. I got a new animator for the project and she's great. More on her later when we got some stuff to show (her work was interrupted when we had to update the model/rig).

Anyway, hope y'all had a great Turkey Day weekend...thanks for reading.

- Joseph

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sure Is Quiet...

Hey IITS Readers,

Just a quick project update since I noticed I hadn't posted in awhile. We're in the middle of making some pretty substantial changes to the Kayli in-game model, which will then need to be re-rigged and also needs a facial rig for facial animations, and finally...I'm pretty close to finding a VO actress for the role of Kayli! More on that soon, hopefully. =)

Thanks for stopping by!

- Joseph

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Kayli Mousepad Owners...Get Your Free Stuff!

Hi Folks,

As I mentioned in the previous post, those of you who have purchased either or both Kayli Boob Mousepads at the IITS Store site or at any of the shows we attended (such as Comic-Con or APE) are eligible to receive some freebies from the IITS Store as an apology for the manufacturing flaw.

To get your free stuff, you'll need to submit a "proof of purchase"...which is pretty easy. First snap a photo of the pad and include a note in the picture that has your name and address and the two items (not including the mouse pads) you wish to have sent to you. Here's an example:

Please select two different items...the following examples are all valid:

1 Comic, 1 Kayli Big Sword Print
1 Assmeats Magnet, 1 Kayli Business Suit Front Print
1 Comic, 1 Assmeats Print

Next, email the picture to wait a bit and the stuff will magically appear in your mailbox! I'll keep all of this on record and when the fixed mouse pads are manufactured, they will be sent to you at the same address. If you don't want the freebies but want to submit your proof of purchase with me to keep on record for when the fixed pads are ready, just provide your address with the picture of the mouse pad. Finally, if you're too busy right now to deal with this nonsense, you can always wait for the announcement on this blog of when the new pads are available and claim your replacement then. Sound good? Cool.

Sorry for the ghetto way of doing things but it's easier to just respond to requests rather than track down everyone on record who has bought a mouse pad and sending out an email to each person. Hope that's okay with everyone!

P.S. Those of you who don't mind the flaws, the discounted and updated product is available at the store page and now includes details of why the item is discounted and some additional pictures of the problem.

P.P.S. If I don't find your name in the records, I may ask you a few questions about your purchase to verify your identity as a customer. Don't worry, if you're'll be fine. =)

- Joseph

Monday, August 1, 2011

Manufacturing Flaw in Kayli Boob Mousepads

Hey Folks,

Got some unfortunate news to share...which those of you who purchased the Kayli Boob Mousepad may already be aware of. Apparently, over time, the gel area (the boobs) of the mousepad begin to curl a bit from the base of the mousepad. At first, I thought this was a fluke because my own mousepads did not exhibit this problem. I know now that it probably has something to do with exposure to oxygen because most of my stock is stored in boxes which are, in turn, stored in a closet. After taking a look at similar commercial mousepads and even the Kayli Boob Mousepad prototypes the manufacturer sent me, I think the problem can be chalked up to the lack of the inclusion of a stiff back plate between the gel and the rubber bottom of the mousepad.

Most aggravating of all is the fact that the two prototypes that were sent to me, which are the ones I look at on a regular basis because the others are stored, do not exhibit this problem and have the back plate included. Check out the following images:

Top to Bottom: Prototype, Retail Version, Retail Version
w/ AAA Battery for Gap Scale, Record of Agarest War Pad.

As it turns out, if you actually place your wrist on Kayli's boobs, the pad lowers to a normal shape and appears to be perfectly functional as a gel filled, wrist support mousepad and may not even bother some people. However, the design flaw is unacceptable to us and we sincerely apologize for it. I feel very terrible about this and while the manufacturer is entirely at fault for screwing me over with badly manufactured pads, I'm entirely responsible for the stock I've sold to our customers.

All said, here's my three step process for addressing this problem:

Step 1: Those who already purchased the mousepad are eligible to receive any two items from the IITS Store (not including the mousepads) free of charge. I know, some of you own everything we have...but please feel free to give these items to a friend. Also, keep reading!

Step 2: The remaining mousepads will be sold at a $20 discount (for a total of $25 after shipping) at the IITS Store to help pay for Step 3.

Step 3: I will begin the process of finding a competent and reliable manufacturer for flaw-free Kayli Mousepads.

Additionally, everyone who purchased a mousepad before today will be eligible for a free replacement mousepad which will be mailed to you when they are complete.

Islands in the Sky is a independent, self funded operation but we understand that our faithful fans and customers are the lifeblood for our project and despite the difficulties this process will create for us, your support is all important to us and nothing is worth losing that over.

For instructions on how to get your free stuff, please look for a forthcoming post. For those of you who don't mind the flaw and want to get a discounted pad, please wait for the IITS Store to to display the new price before purchasing.

Finally, just so you know, the process of having to get the pad made was very involved and took quite a long time...therefore I cannot guarantee a date for when the new pads will be made. Rest assured, I'm on the task. Thanks for your understanding, guys and gals. We'll do our best to get this fixed as soon as we can.

- Joseph

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Project IITS Game Update

Hey IITS Readers,

Just a quick update to let everyone know we're still alive. A lot of folks are wondering how the game will play and so the current plan is to create a visual proof of concept and I'm still in the process of putting that together. Beyond just entertaining a small but faithful group like yourselves, the visual proof of concept will help to secure funding to kick the project into full gear.

Due to the self funded nature of Project IITS, things like animation and modeling and such are all done on a contract basis...rather than having a full time team. As contractors come and go (getting busy with other contracts or finding full time work), the team changes from time to time and there is a process of relearning things and sometimes finding new directions to go in. Currently, Project IITS is in that process...but don't worry, we're still in business.

RE: The IITS Comic, I don't have any real updates for you...sorry. As it stands, Genevieve is still focused on working full time in the game industry and I'm focused on the Project IITS game. As always, if there is some new development, it will be posted here. For you small group of faithful fans out there...thank you for still dropping by from time to time!

- Joseph

Monday, June 20, 2011

About Project IITS - Part 1: Gordo's Island

Hello IITS Readers,

A reader named FifthFanZac commented on my last post and speculated a bit about the design of the game and while responding, I decided I should just write a whole post about some aspects of the Project IITS game here it is:

As a game element, Gordo's Island acts as a hub area for adventures. It's a place for the player to engage in some secondary forms of gameplay (as opposed to the primary gameplay of combat and exploration). In the original design, the hub was supposed to be chosen by the player from any of the procedurally generated islands that they might come across. I decided that was a bit ambitious so, instead...the hub areas are prefabricated. However, that doesn't mean that they're completely static...Gordo's Island can be upgraded in several different ways and what you see in the concepts and the 3D island crafted so far probably represents and island that is halfway upgraded. Each of the different upgrades provide a different gameplay bonus, whether it be storage, or crafting, cooking, etc.

All that's pretty standard for an action RPG type game, what I wanted to do to set Project IITS apart from similar game paradigms is that unlike your usual hub world, where there are linear paths that lead to other game areas, in Project IITS...the adventure comes to you. That probably makes no let me take a moment to explain that the world of IITS is in a constant state of change...the islands swirl around in an invisible ocean of wind...making everyone in the world a nomad. Imagine this: Kayli comes back from a long hard day of hunting popees and after cooking a few up for dinner, takes a nice long bath in the hot springs (what's an IITS product without a little naked Kayli?), she heads up to the treehouse and goes to other words, the player exits out of the game. The next time the player logs into the game, Kayli wakes up and the game has simulated the passage of time and distance traveled and when Kayli steps out onto the front porch of the island abode, she might find herself in a completed different environment. Calm, blue skies are replaced with reddish tinged clouds and lightning storms. Popees are replaced by ravenous birds of prey looking for a juicy bit of Kayli to snack on the docks, a beat up old airship is tethered...its lazily swinging lantern beckoning the player to approach...

All of that should be gameplay of course...the hunting of popees is part of the primary combat and exploration gameplay, cooking up the popees uses the cooking crafting system, taking a bath ABSOLUTELY should be interactive (I'm shameless, I know)...even the airship that suddenly appears is interactive. Using a dynamic questing system, the game generated the appearance of the airship and its owner. It may be a traveling salesman offering rare precursor artifacts for sale, it may be a craftsman offering upgrades to weapons or armor or glider may be a dude in distress (Kayli rescues the MEN) with a dynamically generated quest for Kayli to undertake.

In the original game, the project known as IITS Ultimate, the idea was to allow players to create their own character in an instanced, procedurally generated MMO style experience. Being a bit more realistic, I pared the project down to a be single-player adventure featuring Kayli as the main character but all the tech and experience we get from the first game will be built upon till everyone can participate in the world of IITS as a character/persona of their own creation. Game development is about iteration and while the idea of IITS Ultimate excites me, a smaller, tighter experience and testing out gameplay and ideas with Project IITS will, well...ultimately benefit IITS Ultimate.

I hope this gives those interested an idea of what to expect for Project IITS. I wish I had some gameplay to show but the game is always in a state of flux and I've got to make some big decisions about the direction of the project before I can state or show anything more solid.

- Joseph

Monday, June 13, 2011

Hey IITS Readers,

Just a quick update today in the form of a video of the Gordo's Island model that Alex Mathis created for Project IITS. The video itself was also captured by Alex...I just threw it up on YouTube.

A few notes about the island...the area with water is an open air, steam bath grotto that can be entered from the outside as well as an interior entrance. The tent like structures in the branches of the trees are the sleeping can sometimes catch a glimpse of a bubble window from some of the camera passes. For those of you who read the book, that would be where Kayli is found sleeping at the start of the story.

As far as the world goes, you would likely see many other islands nearby and in the distance as well as a lot of creatures flying through the air but this is specifically showcasing Gordo's Island. Anyway, hope y'all like it. =)

Update: I messed with the size it displays on the blog site, if you want to see it in higher quality, just watch it on YouTube.

- Joseph

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Gordo's Island in 3D!

Hey IITS Readers and Various Peoples,

I've been juggling various projects and trying to keep them afloat so I apologize for the lack of updates but I got a neat little treat for you today. My friend and ex-coworker, Alex Mathis, just recently sent me some screenshots of the model of Gordo's Island I contracted him to do for Project IITS. He said it's not done yet (artists, feh!) but it certainly is nice enough to show here. Enjoy!

P.S. The original concept is here.

- Joseph

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fantastic Comics Grand Opening in Berkeley, CA!

Hey folks,

I've come out of another long silence to just do a quick public service announcement for comic lovers in Northern California. My good friend Jeff Carter and his brother Uel Carter are having the grand opening for their new comic book store, Fantastic Comics, in Berkeley, CA on Sunday, May 1st. I've just come back from a small private party that they threw for their friends, neighbors, and business partners and I'm happy to report that the store is looking great!

Fantastic Comics is opening at the exact location of the old Comic Relief store and it was because of Jeff and Uel (who was a long time employee of Comic Relief), that Genevieve and I were able to do a fun signing to promote Islands in the Sky at both the store on Free Comics Day 2009 and at the Comic Relief booth at Comic-Con 2009. They are also the reason why we were able to get our little book on the shelves of Comic Relief!

Fantastic Comics is located at:

2026 Shattuck Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94704

If you live in the area, drop by sometime and say, "Hi!" If you've been looking for a great comic store that you can trust and rely on, why not start a pull list with Fantastic Comics? Remember, customers are the ones who help dictate what the store make your voice heard!

- Joseph

That's Uel on the left and Jeff on the right...Congratulations, guys!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Project IITS Update

Hey folks,

I promised I'd give an update with a few details on the Project IITS, uh...project. The game stars Kayli, of course, and while it was the intent to feature her prominently for the game, I'm a great believer in allowing gamers to create their own persona within the world we want them to spend a great deal of time in. The scope of the project has scaled back and forth a few times but we needed a Kayli character in any version. For the game, I felt a smaller, cuter Kayli was more appropriate so we needed to re-imagine her a bit to fit into the game world. Below is the dynamite little package that we came up with:

While our readers will surely recognize Genevieve's distinct touch and style, I needed someone to create Kayli in 3D for the game. I was lucky enough to catch a former co-worker of mine, Mark Kobrin, in between gigs (he is now in NZ working at WETA Digital, no less) and he banged out a great 3D Kayli for me. Here's the result:

Given that Genevieve has been so busy, I've had to look elsewhere for some help in doing some concepts for environments that will later be turned into digital versions. My friend and former co-worker, Brandon Luyen (who is an instructor at the Academy of Art University in S.F.), suggested that a former student of his might be a good fit for the general style of the game and I contracted Cecilia Wong to do a few pieces for Project is a re-imagined "Gordo's Island" that will be one of the set pieces for the game:

Hope y'all enjoyed this tiny taste of the Project IITS game. Thanks again to all our faithful readers for continuing to believe in IITS, supporting Genevieve and I, and spreading the word.

- Joseph

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Long Time No Post!

Hey Folks,

Sorry for the extended silence, I feel bad for keeping everybody in the dark for so long but there really hasn't been a lot going on with Islands in the Sky for awhile. First the bad news, Genevieve and I have no IITS related shows currently planned for 2011. We're currently taking a bit of a break from the comic project but are collaborating on a few other smaller projects here and there...if we feel there is potential interest among our IITS readership regarding these other projects, we'll post the info here.

The good news is, neither of us have given up on IITS...but it's just a matter of the planets aligning correctly for Genevieve and I to find the time to get back to the comic. In regards to the comic, we were originally going to do a direct sequel to the first issue we put out but decided to reboot the series midway through. We're simply not capable of putting out a regular book so we've decided to put out a "one shot" IITS graphic novel that will give readers a complete story. Rebooting the story requires quite a bit of work in terms of figuring out what format we want the book to be and most importantly, coming up with a great story from start to finish. This is all on me and it will take awhile for me to put together the original storyboards for the book. I think the first step is to contact some printers about the technical aspects of the book type we want but I've been putting that off. When there is progress on the storyboards...I'll let everyone know here.

The other good news is that I'm currently working on an indie video game project that I've codenamed: Project IITS. As some of you may know, Islands in the Sky started off as a video game idea that was a natural evolution of game ideas that, as a game designer, I've developed over the course of several years. Now, I know a video game isn't of much interest to those of you simply wanting more of the comic but I love comics AND video games and I'm doing my best to be true to the feel of the IITS world and its characters. This post is already getting TLDR so I'll save some of the details about the game that I can share in the next post...probably a few days from now.

For all of you who still hold out hope that we're nearing the completion of a second book, thank you for keeping up the faith...we will do our best not to let you down and want to make sure that the IITS graphic novel will meet and exceed all your expectations.

- Joseph