Community Spotlight: Pixel Punch and the Konami Code

Ray "aurealis" Keilman doesn't make video games for a living, but his love of those games prompted him to put an Easter Egg on his web design site that only one who knows the Konami Code could truly appreciate.

Keilman, a Shack community member since 2003, has been knee-deep in graphic design since he was first introduced to Photoshop in high school. He majored in Computer Graphics Technology in college, specializing in 3D animation. Years later, he found himself in New York City and, after bartending for a year, he learned the skills needed to become a freelance graphic designer. Keilman has since created Pixel Punch Creative, where he offers his talents in the areas of designing graphics, web pages, logos, and cartoon characters.

"Pixel Punch was born when I started browsing freelance directories from the point of view of a potential client," said Keilman. "I was clearly not standing out among the sea of names so I decided on a more personal and whimsical angle. Pixel Punch is influenced by my love for cartoons, video games and my bartending experience."

Keilman is also an old-school gamer, with fond memories of the old Konami Code. For those unfamiliar with it, the Konami Code has been a staple of the publisher's games dating back to the NES era. By hitting Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, and Start, players could unlock extra lives, additional power-ups, or random Easter eggs in games like Contra, Gradius, and even Metal Gear Solid. Keilman's memories of the Konami Code eventually led to him working it into Pixel Punch.

"I try to keep up on new web trends, best practices, new technologies, and came across an article about adding the Code to a site," explained Keilman. "The concept thrilled me, but most of the sites I found that implemented it kept it completely hidden and often the payoff for inputting the code was pretty boring. It seemed like such a great way to engage visitors!"

Keilman had a more engaging reward in mind for his visitors. Inputting the Konami Code to the front page of Pixel Punch will bring up a fully playable Pac Man applet. It's a fun addition to an already-colorful site, one Keilman credits Chatty with helping him implement.

"As for the construction of the site, my hat is off to the Shacknews community," said Keilman. "The entirety of my web knowledge is from online tutorials, 'view source', and starting threads in the Shack Chatty. I'm still trying to get a handle on Javascript and had all but given up on implementing the Konami Code in the manner that I wanted because the site had to launch. I posted about it here and received some helpful tips but I just couldn't crack it. The next morning I woke up to find a message from Zman0404 who had looked at my code and figured it out. Blew me away."

I asked Keilman if he had any memories from the Konami Code. "Just the memory of the first time my friend and I beat Contra using the code," he answered. "We ran around his room yelling at the top of our lungs and high fiving. I never beat it again. It's funny that every kid who played Contra knew the code and I'd love to know of anyone who played, but didn't find out about the code until much later in life!"

In addition to maintaining Pixel Punch, Keilman's future projects include a full-length cartoon for fans of animation and craft beer, the first of which just went up on Wednesday. "Finely Made Drink is a beer cartoon. The first of its kind, it's a truly unique product which seeks both to educate and entertain the throngs of craft beer enthusiasts. Our original characters, who are all assigned a set of beer styles in which they'll specialize, like a wizard who loves hops and a sorcerer who loves malts, will review a new beer every episode in hopes of bringing some lesser known great beers and breweries to the forefront. We often even include food pairing suggestions and ideal glassware. In addition, we feature a home-brewing lesson in every episode and promote local and regional establishments who we feel deserve recognition for providing supreme craft beer supply. The show's MC is a hip young beer expert. All of this is done with full original scoring while maintaining a highly comic narrative style."

Keilman is creating the show alongside his partner, a comedy writer and professional voice actor. After each script is written and recorded, he then storyboards and animates each episode to fill a full 18 minutes.

Keilman said that he'd love to bring his style of animation to the realm of gaming. "I began learning character design in response to a friend's idea for a cartoon. I've since begun animating again and watching my drawings come to life has been incredibly rewarding. Having the ability to control them in a game would have to be an even more deeply satisfying feeling!"

Look for future Finely Made Drink episodes on the official site and be sure to check out Pixel Punch Creative. Play a little Pac Man while you're there.