Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Games and such

I've been giving the free-to-play mmo Runes of Magic a bit of a try for the last week. I'm thinking I'll write up a detailed review in a week or two but in the mean time some quick and dirty thoughts follow.

The game is definitely higher quality than the other f2p games I've tried. The client downloaded very quickly even though its 3.4 gigs. It runs pretty well too. Although I did see a lot of people in the newbie area complaining about lag, I experienced none myself. I made a
mage and the early abilities seem clearly distinguished, have nice effects and an interesting upgrade path.

I'm burned out on
EQ2 at the moment. It's both the game and the community actually. I'm at a point with my characters where I can't progress them without doing group content and I've spent months trying to get groups going for the places I need to go without luck. The community itself is just abysmal these days. 1-9 is like an open sewer of idiocy, filth, arguments and snotty sniping. And since they've made it take just a few weeks of playing to get to the level cap the over-all quality of players has significantly declined.

So, me and Angela cancelled our accounts.

She's been playing
The Sims 3 and I've been playing Neverwinter Nights 2. Last time I played NWN2 I got about 20 hours in to it and got bored. I was playing a Paladin which is the class I've played in every D&D game I've ever played. This time I made a Warlock and I'm having a blast. The game is more of a challenge. I'm having to use and control my party members a lot more. I giggle every time my character sets some poor thug on fire.

The story is kind of slow and the game is *really* lacking in the type of humor I expect from a game made by people that worked on
Fallout. But, so far anyway, the party combat is keeping me interested.

I'm still looking for a job every day without luck. It's gotten to the point that it's like some sort of sick joke. I busy myself with writing, drawing comics, cleaning the house and researching possible means of self employment. I've never wanted to run my own business but it's looking more and more like that is going to be my only choice.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Nudie parade

Two weekends ago we went to the Fremont Solstice Parade. It was really fun. We left a little early and then realized I hadn't looked at the weekend schedule. But the bus seemed to be late anyways. There were a good ten people waiting at the bus stop with us.The bus was so full when we got on, there was only standing room only. We almost left the bus stop because we were there almost 45 minutes before the bus came, but I am glad we stuck it out.

At the parade, we were right at the start of it. There were three guys next to us who were really funny. The start of the parade was nudists on bikes. Very strange. Most of them were painted up or in some sort of costume. There was someone dressed as Batman, but I only saw him from the back, so I am not so traumatized. Someone was on a skateboard and painted all silver - silver surfer. Some larger dude was dressed as Pan - it was awesome. The nude bicyclists went on for probably 10 minutes. Shocking!

Then came the rest of the parade. My favorite was the dark stilt group. They had wings like birds and intricate wicked looking masks and huge stilts. There was a small marching band that had 10 people or so. There was even a drummer being pushed on a cart. Awesome. There was another good rock band dressed in gold spandex. Creepy, but definitely the best sounding band on amps. There was a break dance group I felt bad for because before they could really get going, they got overrun by the group behind them.

When the parade was over, Abe and I walked a good half way back to the house. Well, we walked maybe a quarter of the way, caught a bus for the middle half and got off and went to Fred Meyer's where I got some new walking shoes. My old ones are full of grass seed. They are itchy and poke me. And the new ones look nicer. They are a little too long, but good in length, which is typical for my wide feet. They are Adidas in grey with mint green stripes. My old ones are just ugly white ones. New Balance, which is a great brand, but I don't like white sneakers. That was so much fun.

Also at Fred Meyer's, we bought Sims3. When I got home I played for 10 hours and then another 5 or 6 on Sunday. I love it. The Sims look better. It is more customizable. The sims act better (still weird, but better). However you can't do the same thing where you play multiple families in a town. You have to make new save games. You can change your active household but you lose control over the household you gave up. You can switch back to them, but who knows what they would have done. Blegh. So far, I made the Harry Potter crew, Enterprise D crew, the Disney princesses, and some other random ones, including a family that look like mice. I played another 10 hours this Saturday and some more on Sunday.

Last week, Abe and I started watching Chuck, season 1. It is awesome. We are having a blast watching it. I don't have much to say about it, but it kicks butt. I love Adam Baldwin from Firefly. His character is very similar, but not. Such a funny show.

You know what other show is funny. Rules of Engagement. Patrick Warburton is frickin' hilarious. I LOVED him in the Tick. That is really what sealed the deal for me. Haha. I am not sure if it is him or his writers that make things sound so absurd and funny.

On a craftier note, I haven't knit on the Fraggle Squiggle Socks in a while. I am all the way on the foot of the second sock. But Nisa go caught in the ball a while ago and ruined it. I just had to wind it again, but it took an hour to get it wound back up. And I am about a third done with a quarter of the front half of the quilt. This is going to be one crazy ass blanket.

I also bought some new pens at Fred Meyer's this weekend. There are three sizes of nibs and a brush pen. I am really excited for the people drawing class. Next weekend I have lunch at mom's on Friday, a day of walking around with the dogs on Saturday, and a baby shower for my cousin on Sunday. And maybe Abe and I will finally watch Sweeney Todd Saturday night. We have been meaning to for over a month. But man alive, are we forgetful.

Edited: Added paragraph breaks (the HTML was missing before) and fixed some misspellings. The funniest was in the last sentence. Alice instead of alive. I wrote half of this post while laying on my stomach on the couch watching TV.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Better late than never?

I meant to scan this one and put it up this morning but I got busy and forgot about it.

There are two ways we've been doing these. Both ways start out with me drawing the basic comic. Then Angela either scans my drawing and redraws it in photoshop using a wacom graphite tablet or she just overlays some transparent paper and redraws by hand.

Personally I really like how it turns out when she draws by hand. The comic looks very sumptuous.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

More Georgie and Arthur

I imagine that Ernie would actually enjoy having a person in the house that was small enough to ride him like a horse. Nisa, I think, would not be into to it though.

I'm drawing a comic or two almost every day now. Once I've drawn them and scanned them in to the computer, Angela re-draws them so they look good. I get the perspective all screwed up and stuff. She told me the other day that I basically commit crimes against art in my drawings.
That made me kind of proud.

As I'm sure you've figured out for yourself, Georgie is pretty light hearted for the most part. She's always screwing around. Arthur is more serious, dour even.


Friday, June 19, 2009


Blogger ate the long, very funny post that I wrote explaining how this comic came to be. Maybe I'll tell you tomorrow.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Stank Breath

So as a pre-reward for cleaning the fridge, I am going to make Abe an acid green tawashi that is a skull and cross bones that will be designated for cleaning the fridge. I will have to make this one up, but I might write down the pattern. I am not as good at crochet, but I think I can do it.
I have another comic ready for tomorrow (we'll see if we can get on a M-W-F schedule, haha). Abe is sketching them and then I get draw them. The last one I used pen on tracing paper over the pencil drawing I did from Abe's tiny drawing. The next one (for tomorrow) I did using the pad thing that Abe's friend Cliff has loaned to me. So, it won't look as nice, but I should get better with practice and as long as Abe keeps doing the sketches and scanning them in for me, I will continue using the pad thing and practicing. I totally can't remember what it is called now. We thought of at least three more comics to draw last night and I nearly laughed myself to sleep last night thinking about it.
Anyways, I am working on the quilt. All the stripes for the back are ready, so I am sewing them together. I have almost three stripes sewn together. I started with the smallest stripe, so this could be pure torture. So far I have the black sewn to the snowflakes on blue and the green is almost sewn to the black. Then I have 3 more stripes to go.
So in other non-news, the dogs have the worst breath. Like from three feet away, when Nisa breaths in our direction, she can clear the room. Amazing.

Okay, I was done writing, but I went to put on the Thursday night shows. The Info says it is How I Met Your Mother, but it is NCIS. A little disconcerting when you think the beginning of a TV Crime series is a sitcom. Ew.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A collaborative Comic

I came up with the idea and did a rough sketch then Angela re-drew the comic at this size using her skill with a pen. Hope you enjoy.


Friday, June 12, 2009


I'm impersonating Angela so I can post this cool drawing she did earlier in the week.


Thursday, June 11, 2009


Angela made me two cool scrubbies from her weird japanese scrubby book. One is just a blue circle but the other one is an elephant :-) Its so damn cute I haven't used it to clean anything yet.

I've been kind of depressed the last week or so. It's been six months since I was laid off. I've had one job interview in that time and it was last week. I've written a bunch of stories and done scripts for comicsbooks but it's all seeming like a big waste of time right now. When I stop to think about it for too long I start to feel like I'm going to cry.

Angela made my day yesterday when she came home and told me it was my half birthday. She took me out to dinner and I felt like a normal person for a little while.

The warhammer graphic novel is Exterminatus. I didn't like it that much either. The characters are flat and uninteresting. I am *really* enjoying Vampire Wars though. It's written well enough that the writing gets out of the way of the story. The characters are decently interesting and the setting is great. Thats really the problem with most of the warhammer stuff. The setting is awesome but the characters just feel forced and card board.

My guardian, Eunika, in EQ2 is level 75. I've been tanking stuff for my guild since I have the highest plate tank. Here's a picture of her. She's wearing level 12 master crafted armor in her appearance slots because it looks really cool.

The guys I'm playing with are a mix or newbies and players that have been away for a long time. It's been a lot of fun going through content that I haven't played in a while.

Game Update 52 is in the works and there are a lot of new features but the one I'm most excited about are shadows that are calculated and rendered by the graphics card. Previously all shadows in EQ2 were rendered by the CPU and it was an *immense* performace hit to enable them. I downloaded the test client last night to try it out and with shadows on full on test I get 25 frames a second more than I do on live with shadows enabled.

For some reason, a lot of people have been talking about what EverQuest 3 might look like if SOE were to announce it soon, say at fan faire. The topic of EQ3 comes up every so often but it seems to me that its getting more talk this time than it usually does. I've been thinking about it and here are a few things I would like to see.

No classes. This is a *huge* change but I really want to see a system thats skill based with progressive specialization as your skills get higher. An example, you start the game as "adventurer" there are trainers in the newbie area that correspond to the general divisions of melee, magic, crafting and support. You do quests for each one and the teach you an ability in return. As you use the ability you gain skill in it and are able to unlock choices at certain thresholds of skill. You might have 2 slots and six abilites to chose from though so your choice at one threshold determines what you will be able to chose from at the next threshold.

At the lower level scharacters should be fairly generalized but as they are played more and more they will progressively specialize. There would, of course, have to be ways to get your choices undone so you can try different combinations and permutations.

I would also like to see crafted gear be customizable by the crafter. So not everyone makes the same broadsword +1, then iron broadsword +1, etc. If the crafters can use different raw materials to determine the types of stats on a given piece of gear then every weird combination of abilities will be able to get gear with the stats they need to be effective. This is a big one for me because I play an Inquisitor in EQ2 and Dennika is very much pigeon holed into playing a specific role by the gear she is able to wear and what is available in the game.

I very much want EQ3 to not be a min/max stats and gear game like EQ2 is.

I want the creatures and enemies in the game to have and use spells and combat arts. The mobs should use tactics that are appropriate for the type of abilities they have. Casters should try to stay at range. Mobs should be social. They should run away, call out to their friends, ring alarms, use roots, stuns, mez's, dots, heals, etc. Mobs should use strategies consistently so players can figure out the strategy a mob is using and create a counter strategy. They should be a challenge, but the rewards need to be inline with the challenge. RoK is still an exercise in frustration for most soloists and the rewards, both in terms of xp and gear, are a joke. A mob that can one shot me damn well better give me more than .001% of a level's worth of xp.

I would also like to see a more or less seamless world like Vanguard has. I'm not talking about a world like WoW that is essentially a series of well constructed maps connected together by a few specifically designed points. I'm talking about a single world map with large geographic areas that bleed into each other like on the earth. Not large themed maps like eq2. A seamless world where you can ride your horse from the ocean, through a swamp, to a grassland, to a forest, to a forest in the foothills, to a pass through a mountain range, to a high dry desert, etc.

There should also be a good fast travel system like the bells, boats, griffons, spires and druid rings in eq2 and / or the rifts in vanguard.

I have more thoughts but I'll write them down later on.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Crows! The Crows!

So a while ago we switched the room that was our bedroom from the north side to the south side. Now there are frickin' crows. There is some idiot crow that sits outside our apartment and won't shut up for hours! He is actually out there right now as I am writing this. It is annoying at anytime, but at 6 in the morning on the weekends. Even 5:30 on the weekday mornings. Closing the window and covering my head with a pillow only dulls the screeching noise.

So today is Abe's half birthday. Happy half birthday. We went to the restaurant next door, Luisa's. I, of course, had chicken sopes. He has a chorizo burrito. My favorite thing about him is that I have turned him into a star trek fan. (just kidding, though it is awesome). Yesterday or the day before we watched an episode where the question of Data's humanity was explored and when it finished Abe told me he finally realized why Data was such a favorite character of mine. He had only seen a few of the later episodes where he was such an established character that he wasn't explained and didn't see the appeal. Abe says he is an intriguing (ha!) character and ... Well, maybe he will explain it later.

So this weekend we dyed my hair black. I love it. It looks awesome. My hair is a little dry though. As soon as I can afford it, I will go to a salon to get it done for real. But this is the black so black it shines blue. Which is perfect. Abe says it makes my eyes stand out. It worked really well on the ends but the top that hasn't already been dyed and processed didn't take it so well. So we will try again this weekend. The top on the right is still brown! It felt thoroughly saturated, but whatever.

So I have watched a few movies. There was Popeye and M.A.S.H., which I didn't enjoy. Both were by Robert Altman it appears. Blegh. Mash was weird. It was like it wanted to be a dark comedy but didn't have the courage. And Popeye was crazy. Shelley Duvall was Olive Oyle. She was pretty good. She sang that song "He needs me" so awesome. She did the neck perfectly. And that is all the good stuff about the movie. It was too true to the cartoon. People wore the shoes with the bubble on the toe. And Olive Oyle did that weird twirly, I am falling down thing. Looks dumb in live action. And Robin Williams with the stupid rubber forearms looked like an idiot. The songs were weird. Everyone talked weird and acted weird. Wore weird clothes. Actually, the guy who played Garak's father in DS9 (Paul Dooley) played the guy who says "I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today" (Wimpy). That was funny.

I also watched The Postman on Instant movies from Netflix. That was fun. LONG but fun. I like those post-apocalyptic movies.

So Abe has a graphic novel from the War Hammer series. I tried reading it, but I just can't get into it. The story is flat and the characters boring. On the other hand, I read Elephantmen, and it was awesome. Abe got it at ComiCon. I liked it a lot more than him. I have also just finished the first in the Fables series. I am so excited to read the next one. It is a fun series. I am really enjoying it.

So I have started working on a story for a graphic novel that is based on super heroes. The story has two layers, one story told within another. Really it is one story just folded up on itself. I think it will be a good one. I like it a lot. I hope I can do it. I am really unsure how far to produce it. Should I just pencil out the whole thing or should I do the inking, color, and speech?
I also drew a picture of a mermaid. I am thinking I will make a coloring book of some ink drawings, but first I have to make some drawings. It won't be one of those cutesy ones with no detail. I will include detail and maybe some shading. Maybe not. Then I can compile 15-30 pictures to make a coloring book. I have a few themes in mind. Good and Evil Mythical Creatures, Robots, Aliens, Weird Creatures (just a bunch of creatures that I make up, like the dude).

So right now, I am working on finishing the Fraggle Squiggle sock from the last Socks that Rock club. This is not my favorite. I enjoyed the first sock, but this second one is dragging. I have already turned the heel, but it seems like the foot is never getting longer no matter how much I knit. I mean Each sock is about 30 repeats of the same 4 rows. Boring.

I have also made some adorable Tawashi. Well, one adorable Tawashi and a normal one. The first one was how I learned the magic crochet cast on. Awesome. I mentioned I was going to the Hilltop yarn store in Queen Anne to learn about Tawashi, the little Japanese scrubbers. They are super fun to crochet. As a reward for dying my hair on Friday, I crocheted him a little elephant scrubber. It is pretty dang cute. I gotta get a picture of it. Totally awesome. So much fun. The instructions are a challenge to read because I just have to make out the chart because the words are all in Japanese. But I really enjoy the challenge. Though it is so cute that if this is a good representation of Japan, I really want to learn Japanese. :)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

voice acting in mmos and stuff

So last night me and Angela were talking about something or other and got on the topic of The Old Republic which is a star wars mmo being made by Bioware. Angela had seen a promo movie for it and I mentioned that at E3 they had announced that every npc in the game is voice acted. People are all excited about this. But, EQ2 had *tons* of voice acting when it launched and added even more as time progressed and, while some of it is quite good, a lot of it is so bad that it isn't even comical.

Text dialog allows the player to read at their own pace and to skip things that they've already read. Text also puts some of the "story" creation into the imagination of the player which can really make a game come alive. In contrast, voice acting has to be absolutely *top notch* or it undermines the players immersion rather than strengthening it. Historically, mediocre voice acting is pretty much the best you can hope for in video games and absolutely abysmal voice acting is so common as to be unremarkable.

Bioware is talking a pretty good game for the old republic. They're hitting the points that people want to hear; focus on story, voice acting, meaningful decisions. But the problem is that in Bioware land, stark kill everyone or save everyone dichotomies are what pass for "moral choices" and the stories in their games could easily have been written by any 14 year old who's read a couple of fantasy novels and has a competent editor.

So, don't believe the hype. I mean that's always true. It's especially true in the video game industry though. We are talking about an industry that relies on selling as many copies of its newest shit as fast as they can, before the bad word of mouth spreads. Support for most games lasts almost as long as a snowball in hell in well. Video game publishers strategy is essentially a slash and burn approach and they can get away with it because there's an endless supply of new kids and teenagers who've never seen the machine in action before.

Modern game publishers are essentially snake oil salesmen.

Yeah, I'm totally not jaded or anything.

So, on other topics, Angela bought the entirety of Star Trek: The Next Generation about a month ago. We're about 3 discs in to season 2.

I've never really been a star trek fan even though I've spent many hours happily watching the various series. I watched the original series with my uncle when I was a kid. I watched occasional episodes of TNG with nate. I watched a fair chunk of both DS9 and Voyager with my roommates when they were on the air. My basic attitude towards star trek was, if I was flipping through the channels and it was on I'd watch it but I never went out of my way to see it.

Angela has turned me in to a star trek fan though.

It started when we watched DS9. I really enjoyed it but I had no idea how much until the episode where Jadzia Dax was killed. I was so pissed that I refused to watch the rest of the series for about six months. Then I realized that I was pissed because I enjoyed the characters so much that I had taken it personally.

TNG, I've basically only seen about 10 episodes of and they were all fo the last few seasons it seems. We've watched probably 20 or more episodes and the *only* one I've seen before was the one where Tasha Yar dies. I was shocked that it was so early in the series.

Star Trek is basically shitty as sci-fi. The science is *terrible* but, it is generally self consistent. And, as story telling that's focused on long term character development it's quite good. Its ham-fisted sometimes and preachy at others but there's a sense of seriousness of purpose about the shows that I really enjoy. And the fact that they even dare to take on the subjects that they do is pretty impressive for a popular tv series.

Ultimately its about the characters though. All of the series have characters that are strong, idiosyncratic, interesting and have verisimilitude as individuals.