Singing Sunflower Pet

September 20, 2010 at 1:45 am | Posted in Video Games | 40 Comments
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This post is for the World of Warcraft players out there: TotalHalibut (a youtube member who has been keeping the public up-to-date with the Cataclysm beta) just posted a video previewing the Plants vs. Zombies quest that you’ll be able to play once the expansion comes out. Besides being fun and kind of novel if you’re into PvZ, you get a pretty cool reward for finishing the quest: a “singing sunflower” pet! I actually had no idea this information was public until Hashimoto linked me to TotalHalibut’s video earlier tonight… incidentally, I was right in the middle of recording the sunflower’s voice when I watched it ^_^ I am so excited about voicing a WoW-pet because what can I say… I’m a big nerd 😛

Plants vs. Zombies piano versions #7: Sheet Music!

September 3, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Posted in Plants vs. Zombies piano version series, Video Games | 102 Comments
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So as most of you know, I’ve been trying my best to post piano versions of the music from Plants vs. Zombies on youtube and I’ve been amazed at the response so far! I’m really happy to learn that there are so many people out there who can appreciate video game music, so thank-you all for the support and kind words. And if you haven’t gotten a chance, I hope you would subscribe to my channel ^_^

In the meantime, I’ve got something for you today: Since I’ve gotten literally thousands of requests for sheet music, some awesome folks have stepped up and transcribed sheet music for all of my piano videos 🙂 Thanks, you guys rock!

This set of transcriptions was done by Tobias Deussen from Germany. It has all 8 pieces: Brainiac Maniac (Dr. Zomboss), Cerebrawl, Choose Your Seeds, Grasswalk, Graze the Roof, Loonboon, Moongrains, and Watery Graves.
Pack of 8 pieces of sheet music in pdf

Ron Lester Crisostomo has also transcribed and uploaded a couple pieces of sheet music to if you’d prefer to see them online:
Graze the Roof
Brainiac Maniac (Dr. Zomboss)

And lastly… I’m working on setting up a music store at bandcamp. Currently it has my old album and the first part of the Melolune soundtrack, but later I’ll be using it for the Plants vs. Zombies soundtrack.

Plants vs Zombies XBLA Release Party!

August 3, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Posted in Video Games | 36 Comments
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So for those of you who were wondering what the August 2nd “save the date” was all about, PopCap held a Plants vs Zombies XBLA Release Party in San Francisco on that day and it was a blast! I tried to take as many pictures as I could (I’ll post some here, but if you want to see the entire batch, you can find them here). George and I also performed “Zombies on Your Lawn,” which you can watch here. I was a little nervous at first, but I hope it’s still alright!

There were 3 areas at the venue: The main courtyard had a makeshift stage and a delicious buffet-style dinner.

All the cooks there were wearing PvZ aprons, and unfortuntely for the plants they were serving Cornpults

They also had one of those giant pictures where people could put there heads through it in order to look like Bobsled Zombies. What are these called anyway? I see them all the time at carnivals and amusement parks, but I have no idea what their actual name is.

George Fan

laura shigihara
Laura Shigihara dances with zombies

Indoors they set up a gaming station with several large monitors and Xbox consoles so that people could come and try out the new game (some people were glued to their consoles for literally 2.5 hours)… there were benches and folks could hang out here to warm up (since it was really cold outside).

People test out versus mode for the first time

Lindsey Kurz, Tod Semple, Rich Werner, George Fan

laura shigihara in game room
Laura Shigihara in the game room

The last area was a small covered space between the courtyard and game station… there was a bar here where you could order PvZ-themed drinks like “Fermented Plant Matter” or Crazy Dave’s special “Zombie” drink. The PvZ artist (Rich Werner) also had a table set up where he drew personalized plants and zombies for people.

Infamous Brain Ooze

Some of Rich Werner’s sketches

Drink menu

laura shigihara, crazy dave, george fan
Laura Shigihara, the “real” Crazy Dave, and George Fan pose outside the game room

As for the game itself, I really think they did a great job with the conversion. At first I had no idea how the control scheme would work; going from the mouse to the iPhone or iPad was a simple transition, but I figured mapping controls to an Xbox controller would be a much bigger challenge. Basically, the player uses the analog stick to move the cursor around. Rather than clicking on sun, you roll the cursor over the sun in order to pick it up. Pressing the R-trigger will magnetize the sunshine allowing it to be automatically collected. You can use the right and left bumpers in order to scroll through the seed packets, and you press A to select them. It’s surprisingly intuitive and easy to pick up.

By far my favorite part of this version is the “versus mode.” You can play as either the plants or the zombies. The zombies’ goal is the same as in the original game: you want to break through the plant defenses and get to the house. The plants’ goal is to destroy a certain number of gravestone targets, while battling the onslaught of undead that the zombie player sends towards you. While it was still in development, I spent several hours playtesting this mode with George. Despite the fact that the game wasn’t even balanced yet, I could not stop playing because it was so addictive. There’s something incredibly fun about being able to place zombies… especially large ones like the Gargantuar.

The co-op mode is also worth checking out; especially if you’re trying to get less competitive friends or family members to join in. Players can help each other out by “buttering” zombies in order to hold them in place. This mode also encourages players to talk with one another in order to come up with strategies for the more difficult levels. And of course, there is no shortage of fun mini-games in addition to the original adventure mode… so even though this isn’t a sequel, it has so much new material that it kind of feels like one 😛

Anyways, thanks to Popcap for putting on such a fun event! We had a great time 🙂

Girls in the Video Game Industry #3: Paula Wong

July 8, 2010 at 5:36 am | Posted in Girls in the Video Game Industry interview series | 19 Comments
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I’ve been hoping for a while now that PopCap would make more Plants vs. Zombies merchandise… after all, there are so many cute characters to choose from that would make for awesome figurines, stuffed animals, stickers, etc. Heck, even Crazy Dave and his Magic Taco would make a good plushie, don’t you think? And if it’s anywhere near as well-designed and creative as some of the swag that’s been coming out of Popcap’s Creative Labs, then rest assured I will be doing my best to collect a complete set.

Girls in the Video Game Industry #2: Paula Wong
Senior Director of Creative Labs at PopCap Games

If you’ve played around with the Zombatar, seen the eye-catching Plants vs. Zombies retail boxes, or gotten your hands on a can of “Brain Ooze,” then you already know a bit about the creative and interesting things Paula has worked on during her time at PopCap Games.

1.) Can you tell us a bit about your job?

I lead the marketing creative team at PopCap Games. We bring the awesome games our studio creates to market. We’re a team of 20 print, web and video designers, copywriters and account managers. Most of us are based in Seattle; two are in Dublin and two in Shanghai. We develop all the retail packaging, marketing materials, ads, video and the creative for our partners and for, where we feature our games.

2.) How did you get into the video game industry?

I was recruited by Dave Roberts, our CEO at PopCap, four years ago. I told him that I wasn’t a gamer and he just smiled and handed me some PopCap games to play…

3.) What are some of your favorite games?

Peggle, Bejeweled Blitz, Bookworm, and of course, Plants vs. Zombies!

4.) What were some of your favorite projects to work on and why?

I find it thrilling to go to a national retailer and see a whole line-up of our retail products, side by side. We have an amazing shelf presence and that has helped contribute to a successful retail business. Since this is a direct result of my group’s work, it makes me super proud! It was also outrageously fun to work on Plants vs. Zombies marketing projects. I was part of the team that suggested and promoted the idea of a Zombatar—a Zombie avatar creator. Everything that we did for Plants vs. Zombies was so full of personality and quirkiness. Irreverence and silliness went into everything we did for PvZ, from the “no zombies” stickers, to energy producing sunflower seed packets, a Brain Ooze drink, Zombie Temp Worker videos and creating a party invitation with Zombie handwriting that printers were instructed to fold “poorly” as if it came from Zombies.

5.) What are your thoughts on being a female in the video game industry?

When I first started at PopCap, there were perhaps 5 women, out of 75 total employees. Women are definitely in the minority, but our percentage has grown. PopCap’s casual games are immensely popular with women. I foresee our numbers increasing in the video game industry as well as customer base and believe there will be better gender balance in the future. I love that I’ve gotten to be a bit of a pioneer in this industry.

Plants vs Zombies piano versions #6: Zombies on Your Lawn!

June 23, 2010 at 6:56 am | Posted in Plants vs. Zombies piano version series | 63 Comments
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Yup… I finally got around to this one 😛 But I didn’t do it alone! I had help from zombie-George…

Plants vs. Zombies piano versions #5

June 17, 2010 at 1:42 am | Posted in Plants vs. Zombies piano version series | 23 Comments
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For some reason, I had a sudden burst of energy today and decided to record some more piano videos ^_^ For the 5th installment of the series I finally got around to recording “Grasswalk” (the music that plays during the first part of the game):

This next one is called “Cerebrawl”… you can hear it during the more serious mini-games like Vasebreaker. Get it? It’s called Cerebrawl because you have to think more, and you’re having a brawl with the zombies? Ohohoho… I know, it’s so lame. On a side note, if you play as a Hunter in World of Warcraft, you can learn a move called “feign death.” When you cast it, you fall over and groan. I love this move because it’s the best way to respond to dorky jokes. So feel free to feign death in response to all the punniful names I’ve been giving to the PvZ music tracks 🙂

And this last one is actually not from PvZ… I felt like playing Aerith’s theme, which is one of my favorite pieces from Final Fantasy VII. It’s just an improvisation, so it doesn’t sound exactly like the Piano Collections version. I fell in love with the music from Final Fantasy VII even before I got to play the game… I used to make Winamp playlists of the soundtrack so that I could listen to it when falling asleep.

Plants vs. Zombies piano versions #4

May 2, 2010 at 12:40 am | Posted in Plants vs. Zombies piano version series | 38 Comments
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Hi everyone! So… I know a lot of you guys have been requesting a piano version of Dr. Zomboss’ theme from Plants vs. Zombies (otherwise known as “Brainiac Maniac”), so I wanted to make sure to record that for you. As I mentioned earlier, this was a particularly interesting challenge for me since the original arrangement has so much going on and I only have two hands 😛 But hopefully you’ll like it (it took me about 20 tries to do this without messing up even though I’ve been practicing all week, haha):

P.S. Could anyone recommend a reasonably priced webcam that isn’t too laggy or choppy? I have a little one that I got several years ago, but as you can tell from the Yoshi Slippers video, it’s quite laggy.

Plants vs. Zombies on Classical Guitar

April 27, 2010 at 11:44 pm | Posted in Plants vs. Zombies piano version series | 18 Comments
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I’ve got to share this with you guys because it’s just so cool… Marcus has been doing classical guitar arrangements of some of the Plants vs. Zombies themes and uploading the videos to youtube. He’s even made the guitar tabs available for anyone who is interested in learning!

Guitar Tabs:
Grasswalk (the theme from the first area)
Graze the Roof (the roof level theme)
Cerebrawl (the theme from the more cerebral mini-games like Vasebreaker)

Plants vs. Zombies piano versions #3

April 23, 2010 at 8:03 am | Posted in Plants vs. Zombies piano version series | 31 Comments
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Hi everyone… for the 3rd installment of my PvZ piano series I’ve uploaded 3 new videos. I’m sorry the video isn’t as sharp as last time, the sun kept coming and going so my lighting wasn’t as bright. But hopefully it’s not too bad!

The first one is called “Moongrains”… you can hear this music during the first night level.

This one is called “Choose Your Seeds”… it is the music that plays right before each level where you have to (you guessed it) choose your seeds 😛

And lastly, here is “Watery Graves”… this music is heard during the pool levels. Actually, if you listen carefully to the in-game music, you can catch the underlying melody that inspired the main theme song.

Plants vs. Zombies piano versions #2

March 22, 2010 at 11:13 pm | Posted in Plants vs. Zombies piano version series | 18 Comments
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As promised, here is part 2 of the Plants vs. Zombies piano music series… this one is called “Loonboon” and it’s the music that plays during mini-game levels like “Walnut Bowling.”

When George first told me he needed music for the mini-game levels, I had a bit of trouble coming up with a theme. I played the game for a bit, went on a few walks, ate some chocolate… but none of the normal catalysts were working for me. But inspiration struck from an unexpected source: our black cat (his name is “Metroid”). He was in play-mode at the time; chasing us around the house, attacking stuffed animals, attempting to balance on places that were too narrow for him, etc. And at that moment I got this song in my head:

And because I talked about our cat, I have to show you a video of him doing a couple dog-tricks (he’s really smart):

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