It was ten years ago today that I officially joined Newgrounds. While it wasn't the first time I'd been to the site, it still marks an impressive date for me. In ten years, Newgrounds has been the home of over 40 personal projects and collaborations I've been a part of. I want to take a minute to discuss a few of them, and cover their significance in my time here.
In 2003, I submitted my first serious project to the portal. It was a game, called Punish Your Slave. It involved an enslaved black man, and your various methods of punishing him for his escape attempt. Well animated and aimed at satire (a 14-year-old's attempt at it, anyway), I was proud of the finished product. Unfortunately, slave brutality tends to rustle some feathers (who knew?!), and it was quickly flagged and removed. I found it recently on an old harddrive, and I can say only two things about it: one, I had good reason to be proud; and two, it had good reason to be removed.
In 2004, I had become acquainted with a fellow NGer, AntiClockClock. He was abrasive and didn't do a lot of good stuff, but I considered him a friend for a time, and I didn't mind helping him out. He asked if I'd collaborate with him on a cartoon that would be Pokemon: The Unseen Episode. I obliged, and he sent me a file consisting of very little. Eager to please, and having difficulty reaching him for a while, I finished the remainder of the cartoon over the next two days. After a continued lack of response, I went ahead and posted it. I found out later that the audio, which he had led me to believe was his own, was in fact another person's. I was kind of hurt knowing that I made a cartoon "collaboratively" with him, when I evidently did a vast majority of the work. But I handled it like water on a duck's back.
In 2005, I started making a few of my own cartoons. They're all shitty, so I won't bother sharing them, but I was enjoying making these stupid, brisk projects. Many of them were done in a 24-hour block of time, as I lacked focus to create projects spanning multiple days, weeks, or months. That same year, I was asked to collaborate again with AntiClockClock, as he needed help completing this remake that would be To Kill A Clock '05. He requested scenes, and showed me the work he had done around them. I enjoyed doing random shots, as I didn't have to think too deeply about anything other than what was there. In total, I completed 7 scenes. When he had finished and published his cartoon, I realized that there were no more than 13 scenes in the entire cartoon. I had done more than half of the work. I was recognized with a "Special Thanks" or something at the end, and not so much as a collaborative credit. That was frustrating. Our relationship dithered slowly thereon out. It was probably for the best, as he was known for making enemies with people I would often find myself attacked by that I had no problems with.
I moved onto my own stuff again. I released my first personal cartoon that took me more than a day to complete. A modest success, MGS3: Boss Failures garnered me my first Daily First Award. Looking back on it, I feel like it kind of holds up. The audio suffers, much like the majority of my work. Oh well.
Late that same year, I put out a retarded little cartoon called Ingus. I went on to make 12 installments of a cartoon that arguably peaked on the second episode. The jokes are extremely hit-or-miss, and looking back on them, I can see the potential for good humor botched by my own shortcutting and general laziness. A pretty entertaining ninth episode remains unfinished to this day, though a fully watchable version of it exists somewhere among my harddrives.
In 2008, I shifted my focus to games. With my friend, Eli Brown, we debuted with the often-criticized and often-played Besieged. Though there are a handful of obnoxious issues, like freely placing towers and fading enemies, I stand by the game's steep difficulty level and clean aesthetic. The Newgrounds API tells me that it's been played nearly 6 million times, and that's only tracking the copies that didn't have that feature disabled (of which there are many). It's a cool feeling, knowing that something you made had that great of reach.
In 2009, Eli and I worked on an untitled physics-based catapult game. The prototype was a lot of fun, but Flash's limitations at the time prevented us from doing any truly impressive structures, so we scrapped the project and moved onto other things.
After a year of trying to make smaller projects and failing under the weight of our own ambition, we said, "fuck it" and went after making something truly impossible. In 2010, that impossible creation dropped as the turn-based role-playing game Epos. While some of the work began late in 2009, production didn't truly begin until January of 2010. By June, I had created every piece of artwork and animation for an entire role-playing world. It was something that seemed undoable, and yet it was done. The game was (rightly) criticized for its keyboard-only control scheme -- an error in judgment that even Tom Fulp warned us to fix before debut, but we stuck by our guns and called it a retro feature. Nobody agreed. But that didn't stop the game from scooping up a few awards, and reaching almost 3 million plays across the Net. While it didn't achieve the success we had hoped for, it remains my proudest project to date.
Immediately following the release of Epos, Eli and I began work on our next game. Called Bubs, it revolved around an overweight dragon, demolishing towns with his upgradeable physics-based fire-breathing abilities. With 100% of the art assets completed and 90% of the code in place, the project was shelved when Eli got a job with Microsoft Game Studios. What a loser, right?!
Bubs will probably never see the light of day, but there may be a time when I make what's there available for all of you to see. I'm proud of the work I did on it, and it's a shame it never made it out of the ether.
After a measly two cartoons, we're caught up to today. I've fallen away from a community that brought me where I am today, and it's something I have great desire to rectify. Without a place like Newgrounds, I'd have never had a place to pursue my creative ventures and develop the skill-set I have now. I owe a lot to this place, and I hope to pay it back sometime in the future.
So what am I doing now? A lot of things. Most of my energy is being put toward a handful of writing projects, though a few cartoons are in the mix too. I hope to put out one this year, and hopefully kick off a new little series with my friend and frequent collaborator Seth Forsman, though life is an annoying one at times, so who knows where things will go?
But for now, I just want to reflect on ten years with Newgrounds. It's been with me through middle school, high school, some college, and married life. I'm an entirely different person now than I was then, and I'd like to think that Newgrounds had a big influence on that. It's a sappy thing to say, I know. Especially considering this is the place that introduced me to this gem. But I think it's true. And it means a lot to me.
Thanks for a decade of growth an entertainment, Newgrounds. Here's to another ten.