Dashkin dies in the end

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Jun 232015
 

2009

In December 2009, I released The Last of the Dashkin and promised fans that it wouldn’t be another 3 years before the next Brackenwood story.

2010

In November 2010, I messaged Sean McGee to ask if he was interested in working with me on a Brackenwood game. My plan was that the game would be the next Brackenwood story. After 6-8 months we had a side-scrolling endless runner. I was writer, designer, artist and animator, with Sean programming and teaching me a ton about game development along the way.

The aim of the game was to control the “dashkin” (named Bitey) over, under and through obstacles to achieve the greatest distance.

2011

Around that time I was doing some work for EA2D and I showed our progress to my colleagues there. In the meantime, EA2D became Bioware San Francisco and they had been actively scouting for established 2D IPs on Flash game sites. They had begun approaching independent developers, and this is how Brad Bourne’s Fancy Pants Adventures went from Newgrounds to consoles. I was delighted when EA2D asked if I’d like them to work with me on making Dashkin a social game on Facebook. After some discussion with Sean, I agreed. Although the thought of Dashkin becoming a social game with microtransactions worried me initially, I decided that I shouldn’t pass up this opportunity to get Brackenwood out to a massive audience.

A small team was assembled, file sharing and version control was set up and we prepared to dive in. Sadly, just as we got to contract stage I received word that EA2D would be going through some big changes and the boss quietly advised me to take Dashkin back. Soon after, he left the company to co-found Rumble Games and within a few months, most of the EA2D team I knew was scattered to the four winds.

This was a huge stumbling block for Sean and I because we had already begun completely overhauling Dashkin to be a social game. We had no money and maybe 5% of the game done. We shopped the game around to some Flash portals but couldn’t get the kind of money we needed, so we made the decision to try Kickstarter.

Our communities (Brackenwood, Newgrounds, Facebook) rose up in force, and six weeks later our campaign was a success. We were very excited and I got right to work on the backer rewards. We decided at this point to rebuild Dashkin from the ground up. We ditched the idea of a social, endless runner because after Canabalt and Robot Unicorn Attack, endless runners were quickly taking root as clichés. Instead we settled on a speed-based, side-scrolling, kinda-platformer, time trial obstacle course.

Funding goal aside, my next favourite outcome from the Kickstarter was the Brackenwood Character Sketchbook. If it wasn’t for the enthusiasm of Brackenwood fans, I’m not sure I would ever have got around to putting it together. I believe the addition of this reward was what helped us over the line. I’m really happy that this book now exists.

 

2012

Fast forward another couple of months and we were out of money again. After fees and tax, our Kickstarter split was about $6,000 each. More than $4000 of my cut went to printing and postage for the backer rewards and before long we had to demote Dashkin to part time, in favour of paying work. I scored a gig doing 3D animation – bosses and ambient creatures – for King’s Road (A social game for Facebook by Rumble Games), and some experiments for their game maps and cut scenes. I was also doing some effects scenes for Bob’s Burgers.

2013

I spent all of 2013 writing the A2H book. Writing is one of the hardest things because unless you have a substantial advance from a publisher, you don’t see any money until the royalties start coming in. It was a very difficult year for me because writing A2H was a full time, non-paying, thankless job. I was working on games animation, effects animation, illustration and comics for a handful of separate companies all while trying to stay on schedule with the book. I was pretty miserable most of the time, working 15+ hours a day, 6+ days a week.

It’s not my place to talk about what Sean was going through but let’s just say neither of us had the freedom to work on Dashkin. All this time I had been trying to post regular updates on the site and the Dashkin Facebook page, hoping that our next big push was just around the corner. Eventually though, the updates dried up because progress on the game had stopped.

2014

For most of 2014 I worked for Riot Games animating and designing effects concepts. These guys are excellent people to work with and they’ve really looked after me. Later in the year I took on a second job storyboarding for Bob’s Burgers full time, alongside my work for Riot.

A2H was finally published in November and I was very pleased with the result. I was looking forward to the reaction (not to mention some royalties).

At the end of the year, as the Bob’s Burgers season wrapped up, they asked me to storyboard on The Awesomes over the holiday break. The schedule was punishing but the people are great and it was certainly a valuable experience.

There was almost no Dashkin progress (I might have tweaked some story and animation) and even less communication between Sean and I. Just the occasional conversation about the state of Flash game portals and the money they no longer have. I realised Dashkin was on its deathbed when Sean started to talk about quitting game development in order to survive.

2015

I finished up on The Awesomes just in time to start on the new season of Bob’s. I signed another contract with Riot and today I’m storyboarding Bob’s Burgers alongside.

My first A2H royalty cheque came in the mail recently. I actually earn more money in 3 days of storyboarding. Let’s just say I probably won’t be writing ever again.

..so here we are

A couple of weeks ago I contacted Sean for the first time in many months. We chatted about our current situations. He’s working in a games store and doesn’t have time even to work on any games of his own. I suggested that we cancel Dashkin and release the source files. He agreed that it would be good to have some closure and be able to move on.

So I’m taking it from here. I have a few ideas for Dashkin, but my current plan is that it will be released unfinished, but playable, with source files and a tutorial on how to use Sean’s fantastic level editor. I also contacted Lee Miller about releasing the music, as that is one of the last remaining, unfulfilled Kickstarter rewards. I really want to honour those so I can move on to other things.

 

The future?

I’ve learned one or two things over the past 4 years. If I somehow manage to make a new Brackenwood game in the future, it will be from scratch, with financial backing, two or three extra people on board, and quite possibly a 2D 3D hybrid.

In a way, our progress on Dashkin was like playing through one of the levels. Each time we hit a stumbling block, we’d get up and push on, hoping to make up the time. With each new obstacle collision though, it becomes apparent that you’re not going to hit that finish line and the Yuyu are going to catch you.

Thanks almost entirely to my over-ambitious design, Dashkin outgrew our ability to see it through. We could have released a smaller, simpler game in 2012 and moved on with our lives but with the success of our Kickstarter, we aimed high. So despite the hours and passion poured into it, Dashkin drowned and could not be revived.

For all the fans and backers who cheered us on through this ordeal, we thank you for your support. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank Sean for his amazing work through some really dark times. Even unfinished, playing Dashkin is a blast thanks to you man. I’d give anything for a better outcome.

While I’ve made up my mind to release the Dashkin source files, including all art, code and audio, I’ll be cleaning a few things up first. In the meantime I’d be happy to consider alternatives; so I welcome any suggestions, questions or comments.

You can contact me in the comments below, my contact page, or on the Dashkin Facebook page.

Update 2017

Oh hey, good news: I’m now teamed up with a new developer and we’re building a new Dashkin from the ground up. Full story HERE.

  54 Responses to “Dashkin dies in the end”

Comments (50) Pingbacks (4)
  1. Hi Adam, sorry to hear Dashkin isn’t going to be the game you hoped it would be. Totally understand why you’ve pulled the plug on it and I think it makes sense, but it’s still a shame that it’s ended this way. All the best with your work on Bob Burger’s, sounds like an awesome job, and here’s to a brighter future for Brackenwood 🙂

  2. I snatched up A2H and the sketchbook the moment they came out, so I’m disappointed you don’t get a bigger share of the royalties on A2H. I’m an animation professor and I recommend your book for anybody that has an interest in Toon Boom. No matter what, an animator has to eat and be happy with his work. I hope the next step brings you back to projects that keep your spirits up and I’ll eagerly await your next short.

  3. Always been a fan. So sorry it all went down like this. Good luck. Glad you’re working on Bob’s Burgers. Just got into the show myself.

  4. Shame it ended I was looking forward to more from Brackenwood animations or games I would still have watched or played any of them

  5. Adam, sorry to hear about the Dashkin game. It looked truly awesome and I hope Bitey will return one day. I will remain a fan forever, regardless of his fate.

  6. Aww sorry to hear mate, been following you since the unreal days (god how many years ago is that now haha) and love all the animation work you do.

    If you want to make a fun small game I reckon you should focus it on that cool little yellow water bottle thing from the bitey of brackenwood short! He’s my favourite character by far the way he sorta plops around at the start looking a bit ‘pigeon like’ hahaha

    By the sounds of things the future is looking bright for you anyway, riot god… I don’t want to even think about the amount of hours I’ve spent in the League… and bobs burger is another top sounding high profile gig I reckon. Anyway glad to see you’re still getting along mate and remember: Moar yellow water bottle thingy! 🙂

  7. Hey Adam,

    I’m really sorry to hear that 🙁 I been hoping to play Bitey for a long time, because its such an amazing story, with a fantastic character, but I also understand the hardships of life, and the unexpected twists and turns that come with it. I loved watching every story, since the first ones I seen in newgrounds years and years ago, wanting to be a great developer like all the other amazing people form the site. I never did, but I did learn programming, and work as a software developer. I’ve worked a lot in Unity3D, and am working to start on my own. Create an opportunity, and Even though the Last of the Dashkin never lived to see the light of day, I still consider you an inspiration to me, and im sure to many others as well, because you have an amazing talent, and gift. I hope you don’t plan on stopping with any stories, and maybe…. just maybe… the Last of the Dashkin can still make an appearance 🙂

  8. All the best to you Adam and to Sean. Life is punishing and unfair, but the closure gives you both the time and space to breathe and take on the next chapters in your lives with renewed focus rather than dwelling on the bad weather. Many of your backers and supporters have been following you for a long time as an artist and a creative force across your career and I doubt any of us have anything less than sympathy and respect for your decision. Best wishes and full support towards what’s next.

  9. I still remember when my brother first showed me The Yuyu, all those years ago… to this day, it remains one of my favourite pieces of music and animations.
    I remember when I came back and explored this site, watching everything I could find.
    And I remember thinking about this just a few months ago, wondering if the game ever finished.

    I’m sad about the outcome of this, but some things must end… and Bitey and all of Brackenwood will always have a special place in my heart.

    Keep being awesome, Adam, and I’ll be here, watching and hoping that we get to learn more about that strange planet of spirits, animals and other things…

  10. Don’t sweat it buddy. Dashkin will always remain a magical experience. It’s the nature of magic. It comes in its own time and place, it can never be forced, coerced, or reasoned with. You have the honor of bringing Dashkin and Brackenwood to the world, never forget that.

  11. So does this mean no more Brackenwood stuff ever? I was honestly always just hoping for more animations. There are a lot of animated regular shows these days that people seem to be able to live off of, and your work was always so beautiful.

    As a side question, since you’re releasing all the art/audio/etc does that mean you’re ok with anyone using it to make a little mobile game? I’m going to assume it’d have to be free, since you own the copyright to all the stuff for it.

  12. Aww, really sad to hear that Adam. Whatever happens man, you still have my support on whatever ventures you choose. I’ll be forever grateful to you and what influence and inspiration the Brackenwood series brought to me, 10+ years ago. It somehow made me (as an animator), what I am today. So thanks for that! 😀

    I wish you, and Sean, the best of everything in the future, may it be with games or animation or TF2 or whatever. I still hope to see Bitey run someday. And knowing what passion you have in your craft, it will happen for sure. I’ll be waiting until then. Cheers!

  13. Thanks for letting us know what happened. Closure is good. Sadly, this has become a common kickstarter story :- . Best of luck with future projects.

  14. Hi man,
    I’m sad to hear that. The little I saw of the game was looking really good, I wish it had a different ending.
    I know game making can be a very demanding mistress and be on the right place at the right time can make or break a project.
    I hope you get a better chance in the future.
    Best of luck man.

  15. Man! You are going to places! (Well, you’ve already been to places) You’ve undertaken many awesome projects! I’ve been following you for around ten years now. Sarus, or b525, this website, all the animations – they’ve all been so inspiring for me! I wish you’d had a body of solid backers that’d keep your things in development. – Some of your undertakings just seem too big for you to grapple with them solo. I’d love to see your fantastic world flourish! Isn’t there an option of gathering the talented and zealous fans of yours to create something together under your guiding?

  16. I can’t help but feel like I’m saying goodbye to a old friend as tears come beckoned to my eyes. The game was really of no consequence to me, however the story in which you shared with the world 10+ years ago really sparked something in many people, myself included. I was always looking forward to the possibility of you continuing the wonderful story that you began. It’s unfortunate but life takes us down many twists and turns and sometimes the realities of the world and the limitations that we’re forced to deal with can be dream shattering, however temporary it may be. Just remember this if nothing else; your passion reached countless people and your artistic touch will never fade from the memories of these people.

    Keep doing what you dream of and never let them die, even if you have to put them aside for some time. I do wish you the best and I hope that you at least keep us informed on how you’re doing. Take care.

  17. This is sad breakfast reading … It must have been harder for you to write than it is for us to read though, knowing how many pros and cons had to be weighed up in order to reach this decision and make this announcement. Thinking of you xx

  18. Can’t say I’m honestly surprised. Life always seems to get in the way of all the good things. I understand as making a living does come first though the real blow softener is the fact I had once read a comment that said “Nothing to see here. Just a dead stick floating in a pond of broken dreams.” Unfortunately, I had long since given up hope for anything Dashkin.

  19. I love Bitey and Brackenwood. I showed it to my kids and now they love Bitey. I’m sorry this project went bust. Keep developing the world and we’ll keep enjoying it and supporting it.

  20. Don’t release the files! Just release a more basic game or something and hang on till you can get some funding. Surely Newgrounds could help you out? You’ve been contributing to their site for over 10 years! Considering your fame I am amazed you can’t get a publisher to pick this up. It is such a great original concept. If I had any knowledge of game development I’d help offer to help you out. Anyway, do what you gotta do. It would just be sad if it never came to fruition…

    • I agree. Do not release the files. Release a short playable version, this way people will understand how awesome the game is and a publisher will contact you!
      I am so gonna play this and talk about it with friends for hours like fanboys should!
      Again, don’t release the files! Just the game.
      Best wishes

  21. I’ve been following your work for years and the world of Bitey has always been an inspiration to me. Sorry to hear about your troubles, but I’m glad you’re in a good place right now. Best of luck to you!

  22. Adam,

    The world of Brackenwood is bigger than Dashkin, and your animation talents and creativity are both bigger than Brackenwood itself.

    There is something magic to Brackenwood, and I believe the world has the potential to become something huge much like Middle Earth or Narnia, on its own style. As a fan, I wish Brackenwood can continue to be an outlet for your creativity in the future, but if you must part ways with it too, then don’t hesitate.

    As long as you keep animating and being creative, the world will benefit from your work. If video games is something you want to do, I hope you get a second take again maybe with spin-off of Dashkin in the future. If video games is only something that you want to do to promote your animation work, then I suggest you to reconsider if maybe it is better that you don’t put your efforts into another video game, but rather more animation work or something you can rely on your own talents and interests to carry you through.

    I really wanted to play Dashkin, it’s a shame it was never finished. As for Brackenwood, I hope it lives on.

    Best of lucks.

  23. I can’t wait to play.

  24. I’m really sad to see it peter out in the end, but glad to hear you have paying work which you seem to like. Still hoping that you’ll revisit Brackenwood some day.

  25. I’ve been watching your animations since I had discovered them several years ago on NewGrounds. You are one of the people that influenced me to try and find a talent in my own self, finding that animation is a strong passion of mine. I hope things will go far for you and it’s good to hear that you’ve found work in a great TV show like Bob’s Burgers. Thank you for your time.

  26. Oh Adam, we love you.

  27. NOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THIS IS SO SAD!! WHY WHY WHY WHY?!

  28. Adam,

    I was just having a meal with a colleague and during the meal we find ourselves talking about Newgrounds and sharing childhood (middle/high school) memories. We both have a good laugh and reflect on how we both used to go there a lot. When I told him that I check in about once a year on Newgrounds just to re-watch your videos, he knew exactly what I was talking about. I honestly think it is something special that you created that could have people, such as said in the comments and even in my everyday life, who vividly remember the world of Brackenwood you created. So thank you for that and your work!

    But honestly consider a movie or a youtube series or a netflix orginial or a HBO original or a CartoonNetwork original, or something outside of gaming.

    I say all this, with selfishness (of course) because I love your videos so much, but shouldn’t that tell you that it is something of value if people feel this strongly about something YOU created. I mean YOU’RE A GENIUS! The world, the characters, the feels, the emotions… Seriously you are incredibly talented and gifted, please use those gifts to bring Bitey and Brackenwood to a screen of some sort!!!! People would eat it up.

    Adam congrats on the work you are doing and the progress you are making moving forward. If you need any financial backing please contact me and I will give what I can, just think about it.

    You are the man!

  29. Drop the gaming idea and just put together a short animation to provide closure, we’ve waited this long, 6-12 months is nothing.

    • Giday Adam, our children have grown up and left our home but you are still here as our second daughter painted her whole room with the Brackenwood theme. Our guests who stay with us always ask about your characters and we always tell them about your awesome talents and direct them to your YouTube channel. I hope you find your way into your next season in your artistic journey. We will all be following you!!
      All the best from us in the Wairarapa of New Zealand 🙂

      • Oh, you’re the mother of Sparky ! I gotta tell you, she is an amazing YouTuber, and an amazing (and probably the biggest) Phillips/Brackenwood fan ^_^ Puts me to shame as a fan haha.

  30. Well I dont think this will be the end I mean since your releasing the source files I’m sure someone will complete the game themselves 🙂

  31. While its sad to hear that Dashkin has come to an end, I think its important to look back on why the series was loved in the first place.
    The reason why there are so many captivated, faithful fans is because your work is so amazing, the world of Brackenwood is so robust and lively, the characters are unique, the story is intriguing and the animations are silky smooth and bursting with style. That’s why the series had produced such loyal fans who kept coming back, why so many of us have fond memories of Brackenwood.

    Anyway, thanks for giving us all this insight on the development process and how persistent and hardworking you and Sean have been over the past 4 years. I really hope you continue your animations, whether its about Bitey or Bob’s Burger or whatever else it may be, your animation skills and ability to create worlds are among the best I’ve seen. Thanks for all your hard work and dedication, i wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

  32. Adam, I’m from Pakistan. I loved your brakenwood animations when they came out a couple of years back on Newgrounds. The Dashkin animations and Ninjai were my earliest web-series, loved them both. While I am really disappointed that nothing concrete has been done on these two amazing flash series (especially Dashkin!), I just wanted to to tell you how much I loved the work you did on Dashkin. Kudos ! 🙂

    • Thank you very much! More Brackenwood works are high on my list of personal priorities 🙂

      • omg thats great! I’ll keep checking back for updates!

      • Dude, I think everybody would be totally fine if not completely thrilled if we all just put these long years in the past as a personal hiatus and learning experience for you, and you started making small-ish, not such big projects as the first Brackenwood animations that the fans so much loved. I for one, as a fan since 2005 (yay 10 years), would be stoked!

        • I think we’d rather want to support what Adam wants to do. He has a lot of ambition, so it’s natural for us to want to support those ambitions 🙂 So if he wants to do more Brackenwood, let him do it, share the word with other people, get him out there. And it is a plus that most of us loves Brackenwood almost as much as him heh.

  33. Hey there! Just wanted to say I loved your work at newgrounds when I was little.
    I would love to see a game made by you, your art style is awesome.

  34. You work at Riot? That’s so funny! I just loaded up LoL and for some reason the Kindred login reminded me of your work (although I don’t know if you actually worked on it or not) and I decided to look up the site again, even though I haven’t been on it in years. I remember some of the first animations I did were from your flash tutorials (and now I work at an animation studio!). I’m sad to hear that Dashkin didn’t work out, I hope only the best for you and your future projects. Thank you for the years of inspiration.

  35. What scripting language did you guys use for the game? I know it was probably ActionScript but it sounds like you had to cross platform a bunch of times.

  36. I wish I could get the hang of programming. I’d totally be on board with picking up the project if I was capable. That said, I’m glad to hear you’re well. Your latest image on Newgrounds made me decide to see what you’ve been up to recently.

  37. Just curious, was the source code ever released, or is it still in cleanup?

  38. Make more animations dickhead!

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