I've got a lot of work ahead of me...

Shawn Tanner @Afro-Ninja

Age 38

Game Developer


Joined on 3/2/02

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Afro-Ninja's News

Posted by Afro-Ninja - May 8th, 2024

So my last news post from 2020 was titled "I miss making web games" and man, let me tell you, I've made approximately 0 web games since then. But! near the end I wrote:

...the thing I wanted to make more than anything else was an honest, sit down with a god damn controller in your hands, console game. I'm closer now more than ever to being able to make that happen.

So that part was at least accurate. Because that game is called Designated Demigod, and you can wishlist it right now!


So what's a turn-based combo rpg? For me it's when you take Paper Mario and cram a heaping spoonful of Street Fighter into it. Other games have definitely gone this route- observers have compared it to Valkyrie Profile and Indivisible. Both are great games and good reference points, but I feel like my game has just a bit of its own unique twist. Maybe a bit more like Marvel Vs Capcom. I'd love to bring a demo/prologue to NG in the future, but that depends on how well Unity is playing with WebGL at that point. If nothing else maybe I can coerce @tomfulp into hosting an art contest.

I'm not going to wax poetic about my own game, but I would like to say that I'm incredibly grateful to be able to work with a team of talented devs on this project, as well as receive publishing support from Armor Games. The game dev industry is more brutal than ever these days, so I don't take it for granted.

Oh and If you'd like to follow development a bit more closely, hop into my Discord Server.

Other than that... I'll see you in... slightly less than four years this time? Maybe one?

PS I'm at 6.9k followers.


Posted by Afro-Ninja - November 6th, 2020

H-hey guys. It's been a while, huh?

A couple days ago @mike messaged me to let me know that my first game, Escape From Elm Street, was now fully functional in Ruffle. If you haven't been following the development of ruffle, it's an amazing flash emulator developed by mike and a number of talented contributors:


You've probably already seen a number of games and animations running right here on Newgrounds with it, even if you didn't realize it explicitly. Ruffle was able to get flash animations up and running pretty quickly, but anything involving actionscript was tough due to... well, a number of factors. A lot of actionscript is loose and inconsistent behind the scenes, and the way in which it can mix with the flash timeline makes it very complicated. I browsed the ruffle source and for a short period of time considered trying to contribute, but I found myself in over my head almost immediately. So I figured I'd leave it to the experts.

Anyway, mike messages me and I go play my old game for nostalgia's sake. The surreal part is that it functions IDENTICAL to the original flash version. Every janky 12 fps animation is in sync, all the sound effects where they should be, every line of code that keeps parts of the scenery hidden until they are needed. Even the text input boxes, which mike informed me was something they recently fixed (hence him notifying me)

With the insanity of 2020 I keep forgetting that flash "dies" at the end of the year. We'll always have access to offline flash player tools of course, but the removal of the plugin means nobody is going to go out of their way to play an ancient, terrible game like "Escape From Elm Street."

It made me feel guilty because I kind of just accepted that all of this content was destined to be forgotten. All of these old games and animations that consumed my teenage and young adult years. The entire basis of my own website, afro-ninja.com. Everything that, in one way or another, is the reason that I'm still able to work independently in games today.

Today is a bit different of course. Web games were my lifeblood. But If you take a look at my Newgrounds profile you can see a steady decline of new submissions, ending in 2017. When flash games exploded you could make good money from ads, sponsorship deals, and other arrangements. I was fortunate to be able to make that my career. But as the viability of web games changed, so did my career with it. Today I work in the mobile and (hopefully soon) console space, which doesn't leave me much time to work on web games anymore. Even if I do create something for the web it just ends up being a demo for something I've already released elsewhere (See: Soda Dungeon lite). Hell, I don't even have a copy of flash installed on my current work PC.

I've really enjoyed watching the recent success of Friday Night Funkin from @ninjamuffin99 and his crew. It reminds me of the time when all that mattered was chasing down those daily and weekly awards. The community support here is greater than ever and it's really motivating to see it in action. I'm not sure when I'll be able to make a web game again. But when I do, I hope I can still channel the spirit of small, scrappy, and fun.

The flipside to all of this of course is that my career path over the years HAS afforded me new and unique opportunities. Even before Newgrounds the thing I wanted to make more than anything else was an honest, sit down with a god damn controller in your hands, console game. I'm closer now more than ever to being able to make that happen. While I'd love nothing more than to take a break and crank on a game jam for a month, I'm also compelled to push full steam ahead on other projects now that I see a clear path. And in all fairness, that's not really something I can complain about.

But I'll be back for my daily awards eventually, @tomfulp


Posted by Afro-Ninja - April 18th, 2017

It's been a long time coming, but me, @poxpower, and @armorgames are glad to finally bring the (demo) version of Soda Dungeon to Newgrounds. It's a pretty unique opportunity since the game was created in OpenFL and is one of the few remaining multi-platform tools that still lets you produce a .swf. Of course at this point we can move on to html 5, the Unity weplayer, etc, but there's something that feels right about uploading a .swf here. 

I wish we could bring you guys the full version, but the web just isn't what it used to be for games. Luckily the full version is also free, so if you own almost any mobile device or a PC you're in luck.




Posted by Afro-Ninja - February 7th, 2017

Pox and I finally launched our F2P game, Soda Dungeon, on Steam last night!


I've been excited to bring the flash demo version to NG for a long time now, and we're almost there now. Just one more small mobile update to go :3


Posted by Afro-Ninja - January 3rd, 2017

Everyone loves New Year's resolutions, so here goes with mine. I'm starting off the year with a short video series where I wrap up the previous month's work in terms of game development, reading, research, game playing, and more. I'm trying to be a bit more structured with my time, and also hoping to tip other people off to some interesting content as well. 

I'm still working on Soda Dungeon, as we're currently looking to wrap up the Steam version and put it out near the end of this month. Still debating dropping a flash demo version, and then we're off to Soda Dungeon 2.

Here's to a productive 2017!



Posted by Afro-Ninja - April 25th, 2016

First off, shout outs to @Mindchamber for hooking me up with a new avatar pic. Afro Ninja is a little older and wiser these days, not quite as angry.

Just got back from PAX East! Very overwhelming, but a great time. The best thing to come from these meetups and conventions is the inspiration you bring back to work on your own projects. Working at home all the time puts me in a bit of a bubble. Getting out and seeing all these devs in person is a huge help.

Made my rounds to say hi to everyone at Armor Games, The Behemoth, and Kongregate. Genuinely cool to see such solid representation at a big convention like that. 

Also I met Kirby.


Posted by Afro-Ninja - January 25th, 2016

If you like games that have died and been dragged out of the grave several times then be sure to check out 


Trust me, I don't actually think that escape the car is that awesome. BUT, whenever I research a new platform I inevitably bring back Escape the Car because I can focus on the mechanics of the new platform and not have to worry about designing a new game at the same time. A big thanks also goes to @Hyptosis for turning my stale old flash art into something worth looking at.


For personal education I'm doing a stream where I try to play and study games. I'll be playing Recettear: An Item Shop's tale this Thursday at 2 PM EST if anyone is interested. Catch me at http://twitch.tv/anproductions.


Posted by Afro-Ninja - January 4th, 2016

I saw my old pals @Luis and @TomFulp making New Years posts, so I felt compelled to join in!

It made me a little sad to look back on 2015 and realize it's my first year on NG without a single flash contribution. Creation, credit, or otherwise. Interestingly enough, I should end up with at least TWO flash submissions for 2016: Soda Dungeon and Escape the Car HD. That being said, I'm still not particularly proud of that. A demo and a re-release: two projects that have released on other platforms first. 

Newgrounds is why I was able to commit to making games for a living back in 2006. A full decade ago! But when I chose that path I also subjected myself to the whims of industry, business, and trends. Back then you could pull thousands from a simple flash mini-game. That kind of thing is still possible, but flash and the web platform just aren't what they used to be. You don't need me to harp about the incredible uprise of the mobile gaming market. 

So in 2015 I made a full jump to mobile- and luckily, it's been working out so far. Soda Dungeon was a hit, at least for our small team. And I'm very thankful, but the whole situation has me nervous. I became too complacent in the flash world. Even the success of Soda Dungeon is nominal in the grand scheme. Will I get lucky with my next project? When is the next paradigm shift? And to what?

As a result my NG presence has also suffered: my front page posts are usually just promoting something on another device, platform, or site. And I'm not 100% committed to mobile either though, I see it as more of a stepping stone to something greater. But that sounds like something we all say, doesn't it?

I mean, I'll always make games. Whether it's as a living or not. In the very least I think I've gained a new appreciation for even the smallest success. Sometimes I think I might be better off relegating games to a hobby. Hell, I'm 30 now. I'm getting married this year and I'll be rasing a family after that. I'm not exactly a kid anymore. Career instability and stress do start to take their toll. But I'm happy with where I am and I'll be seeing this to the end, however far I can take it. HERE'S TO 2016 FELLAS.


PS I'm trying out this streaming nonsense from time to time as well, follow me at http://twitch.tv/anproductions if you're into that kind of thing.



Posted by Afro-Ninja - November 13th, 2015

I wish I had more flash/web related stuff to report to you guys, but Soda Dungeon has pretty much been my life for the last year. We're still looking to push out a Steam release and a flash demo, but all in due time. Until then:


and we're still on iTunes!



Art by @poxpower

As always thanks to @ArmorGames for publishing us, and special thanks to @RicePirate@AlmightyHans, and @El-Cid for help with our promo materials.

Follow us on twitter at SodaDungeon !

Posted by Afro-Ninja - October 8th, 2015

Grab it on iTunes as a free download! 


Art by @poxpower. We'll be coming to Android next month, and then we're planning a flash demo version to show you guys here on Newgrounds.

Once again thanks to @ArmorGames for publishing us, and special thanks to @RicePirate@AlmightyHans, and@El-Cid for help with our promo materials.


Follow us on twitter at SodaDungeon !