70K Contest + New Zelda vocal remix!

April 11, 2014 at 5:12 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Working on Rakuen has been keeping me very busy lately! But thankfully I was able to take a short mental break from building puzzles to record a couple new videos for you guys! The first video is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while… It’s a vocal remix of the music from Kakariko Village in the Zelda games. This is one of those pieces of music that was just so natural and calming to play on the piano, and I’d instinctively swing back and forth and hum along as I was playing (just like I did while walking through Kakariko Village in Link to the Past). I hope this version can bring some calm to your busy day, just as Kondo-san’s original composition did for me during many a stressful times in my life!

This next video is my way of saying “thank-you” to everyone for supporting me and helping my youtube channel reach 70,000 subscribers! I thought I’d hold a special contest with a very lovely prize: A piano-shaped music box that plays a song I wrote/composed for the game To the Moon, “Everything’s Alright.”

On a completely unrelated note: I got to hold a couple of baby geese today. Yeah, that was pretty neat.

Flappy Bird: A note about 8-bit sprites

February 9, 2014 at 6:08 pm | Posted in Video Games | 5 Comments
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All other things aside, as someone who has had to create both 8-bit and 16-bit sprites… When I read captions like these: “look how similar these are, this is ripped art” alongside images like this:

Flappy Bird 1

I feel the need to point out that 8-bit graphics with such severe palette and size limitations will all end up looking pretty similar. As the image below says, Flappy Bird and a Cheep Cheep look no more similar than a Cheep Cheep and a vast array of NES sprites pulled from multiple different NES games from multiple different companies.

Flappy Bird 2

The same can be said about pipes with such graphical limitations (friends of mine who had to create faux 3D metal in the NES era and before will all attest to this). It saddens me that death threats and other cruel forms of vitriol are being slung over something like this.

similar vs ripping off 2

Plants vs. Zombies 2: Egypt Theme on the piano

January 21, 2014 at 2:40 pm | Posted in Plants vs. Zombies piano version series | Leave a comment
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Hi you guys! So a lot of folks have been asking me whether or not I contributed any music to Plants vs. Zombies 2. To answer your question: Yes, a lot of my compositions from the original PvZ were remixed for the sequel; I also composed the music you hear during the Egypt stage. Originally I gave it a silly pun name, as I did with all the earlier tracks (“Walk like an Egyptian Zombie” heh heh)… Anyways, I hope you enjoy ^_^/

This is my *REAL* Facebook page (the others are fake)

January 19, 2014 at 3:16 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Hello all!

I’m writing today to let you guys know that I finally made my own Facebook page! A while back, it was brought to my attention that there were a lot of fake “Laura Shigihara” pages popping up after Plants vs. Zombies came out… I didn’t mind at first, but then I realized that several of them were using my pictures and pretending to be me! There was even one that had some crude material on there >_< Of course, none of those belong to me. I figured that the best thing to do (besides reporting the bad ones), was to make an official page of my own… So hopefully, it will be clear which one is real ^_^

www.facebook.com/LauraShigihara

So now, I need to ask you guys for help! I would really really appreciate if you could give the real page a “like” and let people know via Facebook, Twitter, etc. that this one is the real me! While Facebook hasn’t removed some of the folks who are pretending to be me, I think getting as many people as possible to like the real page will go a long way in communicating which one is real… Every little bit helps ^__^

laura shigihara_banner_blue

I will try my best to make the page as interesting as possible, with updates about my games, music videos, contests (I’ll probably do another Zelda Ocarina giveaway), and I’m sure there will be some bad puns and nerdy-jokes as well (ohohoh~!!).

Oh, and lastly! Here is a new video for you guys: “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” from the movie “Frozen”… I hope you enjoy ^_^/

Adamas Nivis (my Christmas present to you^^)

December 26, 2013 at 4:11 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Merry Christmas everyone! This year I thought I’d write you guys a song! It’s called Adamas Nivis (which means diamond snow in Latin).

It was actually inspired by something totally random… My friend Emmy sent me these really cool looking Minecraft cards; they are a tan color, and the drawings on them resemble something that might come from an ancient map. They’re also labelled using Latin names (Ferrum, Adamas, etc.)… For whatever reason, after looking at the “Adamas” one, I started getting music in my head. I was going to play some Holiday Cube on Magic Online, but the music was so pronounced that I had to compose it! So I have to thank Emmy for sending me those cards… Seriously, sometimes inspiration strikes at the most random times and from the most random catalysts!

Anyways, you all have a wonderful holiday season. Stay safe and healthy and eat lots of cookies~!!

First Day

November 19, 2013 at 11:49 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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I was really surprised that a number of folks had recognized my voice in a song I wrote for an iPhone game called High School Story. Since then a bunch of folks asked if I’d put up a video for it, so I tried my best to get that finished up today^^ This song is called, “First Day”… And I created it for my friends at Pixelberry Studios. There are some really talented writers there, and I really like some of the things they’re doing to help with education and anti-bullying (they recently partnered with cybersmile.org). They’re also fun to play board games and drink tea with.

Anyways… I hope you enjoy ^_^/

Oh, one more thing: So the reason I’m dressed up like that (yes that’s a blue wig) is because a while back the Pixelberry folks and I entered a Halloween contest all dressed as high school stereotypes (jocks, nerds, cheerleaders, goths, punks, etc.). We ended up losing to a group of people who went as Adventure Time characters, the ringleader being my artist for Rakuen, Emmy ^_^ Small world!

~Kaze no Toori Michi~

November 12, 2013 at 8:37 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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I’m so happy that after about 2 months of hiding under a rock working on Rakuen, I was finally able to post a new youtube video today! For our 2nd collaboration, Britaney and I decided to do a violin-piano-vocal cover of “Kaze no Toori Michi” from Miyazaki’s Tonari no Totoro. Hope you guys enjoy ^_^/

Bandcamp Video Game Music Special

November 5, 2013 at 11:30 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Bandcamp (the incredibly artist-friendly digital music store) just posted their weekly show, and this episode happens to be all about video game music! They interviewed a bunch of video game composers (Danny Baronowsky, Austin Wintory, Jimmy Hinson, me, etc.) while playing select tracks in the background. It’s a fun show, I’d suggest checking it out if you enjoy game music and the composers behind it ^_^/

Much thanks to Andrew Jervis for organizing it, it was a pleasure participating in this.

My response to the Indie Cube comments

October 24, 2013 at 5:17 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 28 Comments

I’m a little bit saddened by some of the negative comments I’ve read on Twitter about the Indie Custom Cube. I think the most disappointing and disturbing part is how easily things were taken grossly out of context, thus leading to weighted terms like “racism” and “sexism” being so wrongly applied to the set’s design. I’m even more disturbed by how certain people saw said words, and without doing any research about the context, designers, or how MTG even works, immediately attacked the developers (including myself).

I would like to address a few of the more illogical and unwarranted comments specifically, but I will start by saying this: It disappoints me greatly that anyone would blindly group me into such categories without doing their research first, given how much I’ve done to take a stance against such things, and how much racism and sexism I’ve experienced in my lifetime being both Asian and female. To assume that I would participate in something with such labels deeply saddens me. I will go through and debunk each one, and hopefully it will become quickly apparent how nonsensical and taken out of context these arguments are. I think the fact that I was involved with this should clue you into the fact that the Indie Cube was not some sort of “elite boys club meant to degrade women.” >_<

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Women in the ICC deck are given an extra qualifier: they are “female” developers, “female” artists, and “female companions” (in the case of the “Supportive Spouse”). The same cannot be said of men, who are identified by nationality or personality.
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This is taken completely out of context. Using the term “female” had ZERO sexist connotations. Mechanically speaking, if you are familiar with Magic the Gathering, then you know there are “creature types” that get referenced for the purpose of gameplay (for example, other cards will boost the power and toughness of a particular creature type when they come into play). Since it is a reality that there are very few female game developers, we made it a “creature type” so that cards could better interact with it. Speaking in terms of flavor, we also did this to give a nod to accomplished female developers.

Why do I not think this is sexist? For starters, when news sites like Gamasutra write articles about the “Top 20 Women in Games” but don’t write corresponding articles about the “Top 20 Men in Games”… or when Anna Anthropy gives a talk at GDC complaining about how we need more “female” or “transgender” game developers (thus grouping them separately from the “white male norm”), are these people coming from a place of sexism? Are they coming from a place of hatred and discrimination against women? Absolutely not. They are making a distinction in order to raise awareness. Sometimes highlighting successful females is inspiring to other females who hope to work in traditionally gender imbalanced fields. When I see people like Melissa DeTora hitting Top 8 in the MTG Pro-Tour, I feel inspired. When I was one of maybe two females in my computer sciences courses in college, I was inspired whenever I met or read about accomplished female programmers.

So when the Indie cube features cards like Erin Robinson (a “female developer” who gives +1/+1 and “Inspired” to other female developers), not only is this interesting from a design standpoint because you can attempt to build a deck around cards like this… But it’s also (in my opinion) anything BUT sexist from a flavor perspective. Just as when Gamasutra writes an article specifically commending successful women (and not men) in the game industry, and when Anna Anthropy groups “female” and “transgender” developers as separate from the norm… cards like Erin’s are there to highlight and empower females, not the other way around.

And as a side note: “Supportive Spouse” is only female because this card was Danielle McMillen’s cameo (Ed McMillen’s wife). The card features her photograph, and the card’s mechanics were all built around her. Nothing about what we did in any way implies that a supportive spouse can’t be male.

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Soulja Boy is included as an “unstable” black card.
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Wow, I’m especially disappointed by how grossly taken out of context this is. A lot of very bizarre assumptions are being made here, that in my opinion are quite racist in their own right.

I’ll start by explaining colors in Magic. There are 5 colors: white, blue, black, red, and green. Each color is associated with particular things. They all have positive and negative attributes, and none of them have anything to do with race. For example, green creatures are traditionally large and powerful, black spells can outright kill creatures, blue spells get to draw cards, white is given the ability to destroy enchantments, etc. So, if a card has the very powerful ability to outright kill a creature, it usually falls into the black spell category.

The Soulja Boy card is a reference to a scene in Indie Game the Movie. Soulja Boy uploaded a video of himself and some friends playing Braid; they enjoyed the game, but commented on how there wasn’t any underlying meaning. The movie focused on how Jonathan Blow was very bothered by the fact that many people did not understand the “deeper meaning” behind Braid. The movie was edited so that after Johnathan talked about being disappointed, it cut to another scene of Soulja Boy playing the game and saying, “no point to the game, you just run around jumpin’ on s—.” So basically, the Soulja Boy card was designed to kill the Planeswalker Jonathan Blow. In order to make the card playable (since having a card that kills just a single other card in the set isn’t very good), we added the ability to kill a creature when it came into play. Thus, since it killed a creature, it needed to be a black spell (see above explanation about Magic colors).

This has NOTHING TO DO WITH SOULJA BOY’S RACE.

The “Unstable” mechanic was created with PROGRAMMING in mind. It was commentary about an old game making program called “Klik ‘n’ Play” which was very unstable. While we were playing the set and balancing the cards, we realized there weren’t enough “unstable” cards, so went through and added the mechnanic to cards that didn’t already have a mechanic. The fact that Soulja Boy’s card gained this mechanic had nothing to do with his real life personality or his race, and drawing such a connection is beyond ludicrous.

In fact, the idea that you’re making some sort of weird assumption that just because the card has the word “unstable” on it, that it’s because the character in the art is black… That seems INCREDIBLY RACIST when you take into account the fact the “unstable” mechanic was featured more frequently on cards featuring white males and programming-related topics (and this was not the only black character in the set; all other characters were on non-black cards). Selectively choosing this card only shows how hollow the entire argument is.

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While certain figures are praised as heroic figures (including ICC’s creative team, Gabe Newell, Cactus, Notch, and Jonathan Blow), many others are represented with open scorn. General archetypes include the “Flakey Artist”, the “Oversensitive Indie ‘Musician’”, and the “Butthurt Indie Developer”, while specific jabs are taken at real people like Kellee Santiago (“Female Developer?”) and Anna Anthropy (“Put a guilt counter on target non-black non-Female creature. Creatures with guilty counters on them can’t attack.”)
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I’ll start with the “Flakey” cards. If you actually look at the set, you’ll see that there are a great variety of artists, musicians, programmers and designers (obviously). Only one of each has the “Flakey” label. I’m not exactly sure what is even bothering you about this… Are you saying that it’s bad to point out that there are flakey people in every industry? Because the Flakey cards span industry disciplines: musicians, programmers, artists, designers… there was no discrimination there (and nothing made it seem as though unreliable people don’t exist outside of the game industry, obviously unreliable people exist everywhere). Additionally, I see nothing wrong with pointing out that there are people who don’t meet deadlines. It’s a huge issue when working with contractors. Other than that, I fail to see anything to be offended by. Nothing implied that any one group was more flakey than any other; and nothing implied that the aforementioned groups were overwhelmingly flakey (again: one card per discipline). In fact, nothing implied anything except that the word “flakey” is used to describe people (in any discipline) who don’t meet deadlines. Where were you even going with this?

As for things like Anna Anthropy’s card: I did not create this card, however I understand that Ed and Anna were friends, and Ed had reason to believe she would not have been offended by the wording. She’s made jokes to Ed at other peoples’ expense that were far worse and more blatant than anything that was written on this card, so rather than attacking everyone involved with the cube, perhaps you should take into consideration why Ed felt comfortable enough to joke around with Anna given their relationship. I know Ed and his wife personally, and they are both very nice and caring people. I don’t doubt for a second that he meant no harm, and that there was probably a reason he felt she would have reacted differently due to their past.

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There are several dismissive jokes about mental illness, including cards for “Depression” and “Nervous Breakdown”.
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Why do you assume that using these things as gameplay mechanics somehow makes them dismissive jokes? To a game developer or programmer, game mechanics are often the best tool for representing complex emotional concepts. Depression is very common for people who isolate themselves for years at a time in order to push out a game; it’s often lonely and isolated (I know that I have personally have experienced this). While creating the cube, many of us spoke about this topic while working on these cards. It was a great way to encourge discourse after the drafts were finished.

Don’t assume that just because the word “depression” is referenced in a game that it’s for the purpose of dismissing something as a joke. You don’t know what the developers were thinking when the cards were created, and it’s not like the art was a picture of someone laughing at another person’s suffering. Additionally, the term “nervous breakdown” is not always used in reference to a mental disorder; sometimes it’s just used as a blanket statement to describe someone caving under pressure (the scene from the television show “The Office” where the character Andy punches a hole in the wall is not a dismissive joke about people with mental disorders; nor is the Adventure Time episode about the comically rigid character Lemongrab).

Please think before you make inflammatory comments and throw words like “racism” and “sexism” at people. Do your research first, open up a discussion, there are more mature ways to handle things than to create even MORE miscommunication by blindly throwing rocks.

Indie Game Dev Themed Magic Cube Set!

October 23, 2013 at 8:04 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Hi everyone! This post is for the Magic the Gathering players out there… and the indie game developers… and ESPECIALLY for the indie game developers who PLAY Magic the Gathering.

So earlier this year, my friend Andy Hull decided to spearhead an initiative to create an entire indie game dev themed Magic the Gathering cube set. We spent many many hours on this (coming up with the cards, talking over Skype, printing out and sleeving up test copies, etc.) and it ended up being really fun to play. The set came together around GDC, so all 7 of us (Andy Hull, George Fan, Ed McMillen, Kyle Pulver, Tommy Refenes, Derek Yu and I) got to hang out and draft during the conference.

If you’re interested in checking it out, the official site with a full visual spoiler (and some goofy pictures of the creators) is live and can be found here.

Derek can be pretty messed up if you don’t have removal!!

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