Hey there guys it’s your old pal ShockSlayer and today, I’m going to give you the bullet points of my life up to now.
I have been using the online moniker of ShockSlayer since the very early 2000’s, likely sometime between 2003-2005, but first as a player name in Team Fortress Classic. It is absolutely something a 10 year old would’ve come up with, but the unique nature of it keeps it available when signing up for websites, and it’s now attached to my body of online work, so I’m stuck with it.
I first gained notoriety online around 2006 when I joined the portablizing community, and had a small YouTube channel where I posted videos about the projects that I had made, usually while wearing sunglasses indoors. Most of the things I built around that time had a significant level of “jank,” which combined with my “exciting” personality, garnered me a “unique” reputation in the communities I frequented. However, my appetite for creation was insatiable, and through trials and tribulations I was able to expand upon a few aspects of the portablizing scene before I was done. During this time, a few of my videos obtained a (then) significant amount of views, and I had a few articles written on some of the spicier projects that I put out.
Over the years my interest shifted to other things, but around 2016 I was an instrumental part of the creation of BitBuilt, which was considered a bit of a revival for the portablizing community. About a year after that, one of the other founders and I got involved in creating a fan game for that community, which we would come to call Crystal Clear, or CC for short. While we had started the project together in May, by December of that year I had largely taken over the development, aiming to release a first, complete version as a fun little Christmas present. While this initial release was met with minimal fanfare, it was during this time that I solidified my love for programming and general obsession with game design.
I continued to work on CC after the initial release, fixing bugs and adding expansions, just for the personal satisfaction. About a year later, the game had somehow picked up traction outside of the BitBuilt community, ending up on the radar of one Pikasprey, who covered it on his YouTube channels. This “lit the beacons” so to speak, and many other creators covered the game shortly after. In total this led to a massive influx of new players on my end, which transformed the CC Discord server from a handful of friends to the now 80,000+ people it is today.
This allowed me a unique opportunity to learn a lot about game development in a trial-by-fire way. This growing storm of users was interacting with a program I had significantly modified in all kinds of unforeseen ways, finding insane edge cases and other gameplay interactions that I wouldn’t have been able to consider otherwise. With so many eyeballs on the project and tons of user feedback, I was able to gain a sense of focus and continually put out large updates that improved the state of the game, from useful tools to additional customization options, as well as general balance improvements. And having a large community offered a lot of opportunities to make new friends and put together fun events; memories that I’ll cherish for a long time to come.
With that said, while Crystal Clear was certainly a life changing experience for me, there were a lot of limits imposed by it as a medium, both technologically and personally, and as development went on I began to dream about what I could do without abiding by certain restrictions. I had finished up some college classes in 2021, and in June of 2022, I began building my own game from the ground up, completely shifting my focus away from everything else. This has been a liberating yet excruciating experience, and this project is something I am very excited to share with the world once the time has come to do so. But as of writing this (August 2023) I’ve only recently completed my first year of engine development, so I’m not quite ready to show anything off yet. If you’ve made it this far, I hope you’ll check it out once it releases. Until then, I’ve got a lot of work to do.
Right. The pig thing. That’s what you were interested in finding out, right? Of the many character traits that I’ve come to express, this one seems to garner the most attention, or is at least the most synonymous with me these days. This took some introspection for me to figure out, but I’ve tracked it down to two major sources.
The first was in 2002, when The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker first released. Despite having grown up in the 90’s, our family never owned an N64 (which would later start my teenage obsession with the console, since things like the transfer pack and Stadium 2 were pure childhood magic to me.) So instead, my first 3D Zelda was The Wind Waker. I was just young enough and the TV was just bad enough that I either didn’t notice, or couldn’t see the ladder in Grandma’s house, so I had progressed far enough that I needed to climb up there to get the shield. Not knowing that, instead I spent quite some time outside trying to figure out what to do next, and the most animated, attention grabbing things out there were those three funny little fellows wandering the island. So I was picking them up, throwing them around, trying to figure out what I was supposed to do with them to progress the game. And for what they actually amount to in the game, they have a surprising amount of interactions: they can swim, fight, detect you when you’re not crawling, are hard to catch, and of course you can feed them the bait you buy that’s in the pig-shaped bag. You can even anger one and position yourself between it and a mailbox, and it will endlessly attack it and flip backwards. That’s a lot of detail for what amounts to a very minor, skippable tutorial and rupee sidequest.
Eventually I figured it out and moved on, only to discover MORE pig interactions at the next base island of Windfall, where one of the pigs is “sick” which produces some crass humor when you pick it up backwards and position yourself in front of the townsfolk. Later in the game, one of the Outset pigs grows to a massive size, and the other two disappear under mysterious circumstances, which I’ve yet to unravel. This is all compounded by the fact that the game’s final boss, Ganondorf, can be fed bait, because he is also a pig, which is a great book-end for the gameplay interactions. Lastly, I remember having one of those weird one-game-only Action Replay discs, which let you both super jump, and access development maps. One of the first things I tried to do with that power was pick up one of the pigs on Windfall, and fly it all the way to the Private Oasis island. I am pretty sure I accomplished this, but the details are a bit fuzzy now. The other thing I did was discover the Porcine Cathedral test map, which is a real thing in the game that you can read about on online. That existing still blows my mind. I remember telling people about “the pig dungeon” and they didn’t believe me. It’s such a cool thing, the textures don’t match the art-style and the whole thing feels strange, and there’s nothing in there except a bunch of pigs walking around. Awesome.
The second was Minecraft. Whatever “the pig thing” is lay dormant until I first experienced that game. I was relatively fresh out of high school, and while I had some friends riding the initial hype train, I didn’t actually check out the game personally until a little later. But, being a creative game, it hooked me, and the pigs in that game were so pleasant and foolhardy, which reawakened the part of my brain that wanted to see what all they could do. Eventually after setting up my own server, my friends took notice of this strange obsession – which I did nothing to abate by putting out a few funny videos on the subject, and that was where it entered the public atmosphere.
Over time, I’ve developed a fondness for the species as a whole – and since people know about this now I’ve been shown a great number of things that maybe I would’ve missed otherwise. And when a game has a pig thing, I always go for the pig thing, which is why Crystal Clear has what may appear to be a strange choice for a mascot character. It’s just how my brain is wired now. I’ve chosen to embrace it – as a whole I think pigs have a lot more to offer the gaming medium and through this combined set of circumstances I think I may be able to shed some light on what that could be like. But like I mentioned earlier, as of the writing of this I’m not quite ready to reveal anything yet…