Over two years since I last submitted to the portal, I'm now hard at work again. But this time, things are different. A lot's happened over the past two years. I've grown up in many ways. I know now that there is no point making Flash content for the sake of awards and recognition (take a look at my submissions and you'll see that really didn't work out); it should be about enjoying the creation and the satisfaction of the end product. This means I won't be churning out half-baked submissions with sketchy tweens and crude bitmaps. If I see a problem, I'll fix it, even if it means dumping and rebuilding part of my library.
I'm still all about the sprites though, nothing's changed on that front. True love lasts a lifetime! I think my ability with them has improved though. Judge for yourself when I'm finished with my current project. Which is...?
I developed the idea of a darker Mario project around late 2006. Shadow Mario had appeared in Super Mario Sunshine but despite the dark, stone-like aura of Shadow Mario, he didn't capture the portal as I thought he might. My fleeting attempt to capitalise on this was the incredibly weak 'Mario vs. Shadow Mario', submitted early 2007. It was a slapdash effort with the alterior motive of cashing in on the SMBZ hype. Not cool. Even if I was 13.
The idea wasn't shelved for long; also in 2007, I started submitting a sprite comic adaptation to WiiTogether, and gave it the name Shadow Rising (I'm aware there was a pretty good game of the same name recently released in the portal. I don't see why we both can't use the name, especially since I actually had the name first :P ) . This time, I gave it a lighter, more comic (geddit?!) vibe, and also tried to include non-Mario characters like Samus. It was alright for what it was, but I left it after 33 issues; it just didn't capture what I wanted from the Shadow Rising project.
After that, Shadow Rising lay stagnant for a long time. I turned my attention to sprite skits in Flash; they were easier to write and quicker to make and held my attention better. Ironically, this was actually where my only award to date came from. But the satisfaction at the end was minimal. Work and a loss of interest conspired against me and Flash and I drifted apart from 2009 onwards.
In December 2010, I found myself back on Newgrounds. I still can't remember how it happened, but I started frequenting the BBS again, as well as watching the new content come in. After a couple of weeks doodling on Flash and rewatching my old favourites (Power Star, Psycosis,Dungeon...), I decided I wanted to return to Flash. And there was only one option for me: Shadow Rising, in all its dark, gritty glory.
I learned from my mistakes before and didn't throw myself straight into it. I spent about three to four weeks writing scripts, collecting music, sprite sheets, editing sprites (I wanted to use Super Mario World style sprites and I couldn't find any Shadow Mario sprites in this style, so I had to do all the palette changes myself) before I actually started animating. I finished my exams about a week ago and I've been toiling over Shadow Rising ever since. I've just finished the big introduction, which took ages and may well have been the hardest I've ever worked on Flash before. I'm now working on a few more set pieces as well as piecing the main story together for the first chapter, which I intend to put into the portal in about two to three weeks. I've got scripts for more after that, and I've choreographed the final chapter already anyway, so there's no chance of me bailing on this project before it's done.
Essentially, this project is to gauge how much I've developed and matured over the last two and a bit years. But it's also to give something with some genuine effort to Newgrounds; my other contributions haven't been up to scratch and I owe the website that (questionably) guided me through adolescence.
So keep an eye out for Shadow Rising: Chapter I in a few weeks. I really hope it's something people can enjoy.