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< Piro >

New fine art prints at the MegaGear store!

"promotional forensics"

Saturday - November 29, 2008

[Piro] - 10:21:16 - [link here]

If you've avoided reading my personal twitter for the past year because you really aren't interested in baby pictures, quirky personal philosophies, old-school piro-whining or links to the unusual and sometimes interesting things that tend to snag my moth-like attention span, then you probably have missed what I've been up to over at the MegaGear store. Some of it is actually kind of interesting because it reflects an interesting shift in our "business model" that we're hoping helps us serve our customers (you) better. Since most of you aren't likely to engage in promotional forensics to learn what those changes are and what we are now offering, I really should write something about it... especially since i need all of you to go buy some of it :)

[In case you are balking at the amount of text below, here's a quick summary: All of our new shirts are full color, 100% cotton Direct to Garment shirts that we print ourselves. We are offering a number of new designs as well as some old favorites we haven't offered for a while. We are also offering 11" x 14" fine art prints of pretty much any Megatokyo comic you want as well as the Broken Miho drawing. We are also running a big sale where most products (including new ones) are on sale. On top of this sale price, you can take an extra 10% off the sale price on shirts and hoodies if you use coupon code "G34R" when you order (Good through December 12th). Also, Megatokyo posters are $12.50 each or two for $22, and Megatokyo button sets are two for $10.]

Now for the long version.

One of the core philosophies behind MegaGear is that we like to make and sell stuff we might want ourselves. That's been a little difficult to do with t-shirts because the color limitations of screen printing have prevented us from offering the detailed, full color shirts we've wanted. That situation changed earlier this year when we acquired the other new 'baby' in our family, a Direct to Garment printer. A DTG Printer is basically just a big inkjet printer that has been heavily modified to print directly on t-shirts. The technology has been around for a while but has evolved over the past few years to the point that it has become a viable production choice.

The main advantages to DTG printing is that you can print full color images on normal, 100% cotton t-shirts, including dark/black shirts. The detail and quality of the output is actually pretty impressive. There was a bit of a learning curve (let's not talk about head alignment, shall we?), but a few months ago we felt we were ready to start offering the shirts in our store. Testing included multiple washes to test the durability the shirts which by their very nature they are not quite as durable as screen printing inks over the long term. They will stand up just fine if you take reasonably good care of them. I've been wearing and watching a number of shirts for several months now and they are holding up well. [Care note: just like screenprinted shirts, you should turn them inside out when washing them and use the gentle cycle if you want any shirt to last a long time. Note that *I* am not doing this, because i am testing them to worst case washing conditions :P]

The other advantage to DTG printing is that all shirts are printed on demand, which means i can experiment with shirt designs without having to worry about having a big inventory of shirts no one wants if the design is a real dud (This is liberating, trust me). Another advantage is i can print designs on tshirts, ladies t's, hoodies, etc. This means that we can offer many of our designs in both ladies t's and hoodies which is something we could not really do before.

In the store you'll find some new shirts that take advantage of this full color printing, like the recent Ph33r t3h Cute Ones design and the new Piroko Spellcasting design. It's also enabled me to bring back some Megatokyo designs we haven't offered for a while, like 3V1l Minion and Kimiko Idol. The printer has no problem with solid color graphics, like the long awaited OB3Y design (it took me forever to come up with a graphic i liked, but i'm really happy with the final output).

There are also a number of light colored shirts like Broken Miho and Bunnies and Kitties which i can print much larger on the bigger sized shirts. There's a pretty decent variety of new designs in the store, including a new, alternate Megatokyo logo and even a print of the classic 4 panel MT comic "B4K4 Quake". Check out what we have to offer, and if you like one, i'll print it for you. :)

Another product I put a lot of research into also involves a high end inkjet printer: Fine Art prints. It's actually rather amazing to see the quality output these printers are capable of producing these days. Since there is a lot of detail i draw that most of you never get to see (because of the limitations of web resolution or the print size of the books) I've always wanted to offer fine art prints so people might see it. Since my work is generally pencil and greyscale, it was important to find a printer that could accurately print subtle pencil work. After much research I finally chose the HP B9180 which is a pigment-based ink printer and Moab Entrada Rag Bright 190 Fine Art Paper. Note that both paper and inks are archival, with the HP Vivera inks being tested to be fade resistant for up to 200 years.

Our first Fine Art Print offerings in the MegaGear store are prints of any Megatokyo comic you wish (with a few limitations), printed, signed, dated and slipped into an archival plastic sleeve with an acid free backer board. I'm also offering a print of the updated version of the original Broken Miho drawing i did back in 2002, also signed and dated. More to come as i work on making availible some of my COPIC colored works.

Normally, that'd be more than enough promotion, but... hey, it's the holidays, and we want to give you lots of incentive to buy stuff from us. :) Most products in the store (including new ones) are on sale! For example, most $22 t-shirts are on sale for $20, $20 t-shirts for $18, etc. Also, be sure to check out our Clearance section where we are closing out some of the older designs

On top of the sale price, you can take an extra 10% off the sale price on shirts and hoodies if you use coupon code "G34R" when you order (Good through December 12th). Also, All Megatokyo posters are $12.50 each or two for $22, and Megatokyo button sets are on sale two for $10.

So, in short, the shift in our "business model" is that we are now printing most of our own t-shirts, Dye-sub mugs, license plates and coasters, and now our own fine art prints. When you buy stuff from the MegaGear store, you are not only supporting the comic, but you are getting stuff we produce ourselves. Stuff we pack and ship ourselves. It's the way we like it.

Hopefully you will find something you like. Thank's for shopping with MegaGear and supporting Megatokyo. Jack appreciates your support :)

Ok, that's enough of that. Right now, it's snowing outside my window, i have a little something i'm trying to finish for Applegeeks, and then it's back to work on the Megatokyo comic. Thank you, as always, for your support.

< Dom >

"Pen Names and Other Frivolities"

Saturday - January 17, 2009

[Dom] - 22:00:00 - [link here]

Right, twice a week, twice a week... to be honest, it's been difficult to keep focus this past week due to family health issues. However, as I stare down my self-imposed deadline for "two rants per week," I realize that now more than ever, I need to write to keep my head clear.

In that vein, I'd like to write about my writing. As I've mentioned before, I've always been terrible at self-promotion, which probably contributed to my current unemployment situation. In that vein, pen names are a way for me to tackle new styles and subjects without having to attach the baggage of my public online/print persona to it. I like being able to dodge taking credit for work I've done, in some sick self-aggrandizing way.

But that doesn't keep me from having fun - after all, my fake names have always been created as jokes and stuck with out of sentimentality. Take the name that I use on Pocky's web magazine, Spwug - Win-Myun Kim. I came up with that name in college as a joke, cobbled together from two popular mispronunciations of my last name. Win (the easiest way to say Nguyen and have it sound vaguely close) and Myun (a corruption of Nyuen, itself a corruption) stuck together sounded vaguely Korean to me, so I stuck those two together and added Kim to the end to make it sound less conspicuous.

Meanwhile, the name I made up and used for a while at conventions, Owen Fong, was made to be shouted. Owen Fong is a corruption of Ouendan, so I secretly hoped that someone would shout "OWEN FOOOOOONG" at me so I could reply "OSU!"

Yeah, I'm a nerd... but I really just like playing with names. Is that so wrong?

< Dom >

"The Painful Pursuit of Perfection"

Thursday - January 15, 2009

[Dom] - 10:54:57 - [link here]

Nippon Ichi made this game called Prinny for the PSP, and it's perfect for me. It's a traditional 2D platformer with a good sense of humor, a good sense of how to reward skill while being accessible to players who don't want Nintendo Hard, and it even makes no sense (even if you know Japanese)! It reminds me of my younger gaming days, when Alex Kidd, Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse, and Sonic the Hedgehog ruled my gaming time. It even has a butt bump! I love it!

Unfortunately, I can't play it.

See, the way the game works, you play as a legion of prinnies, the expendable goons of the Disgaea series. Unlike other prinnies, you don't explode when you jump thanks to some handwaving at the beginning. Even with this, it is still extremely easy to die by getting hit in the face a lot or by falling into a bottomless pit. Thankfully, you have a thousand lives to work with, so it never really feels like you're under a constraint... unless you're me and want to get through the game with a "perfect" run.

Thanks to stubborn gamer pride and a misplaced sense of attachment to my prinnies, I've been running through the levels over and over again until I can string a "perfect" run together, since I don't want to lose any lives. I have spent the last month trying to run the dock level without dying, and it is killing me. I could probably breeze through this game if I didn't care about losing a few dozen prinnies, but I just can't. It's not in me to admit that I have to die.

This does not take anything away from the game - it's fun, and I recommend it to both Disgaea fans and PSP owners alike. It's a fun game, and you'll probably enjoy it. It's just that I'm not good enough at it to enjoy myself.

I'm trying to figure out where this stubborn streak comes from, and I think it's based on a Super Robot Wars/Disgaea habit I picked up, called Giburo in Japanese. It's a common gaming term, short for "Give up and load." In any game where you can save in combat, or where you really want to game the hell out of the random number generator, you save right before you try something - if it doesn't work, you give up, reload your game, and try again until it works. I once spent 3 hours of Giblo fighting the Inspectors in Super Robot Wars OG 2, and that experience carried over into my time playing Valkyria Chronicles, Fallout 3, and a bunch of other games that allow you to try incredibly unlikely things until they finally work.

Giburo has worked out for me in most cases, allowing me to satisfy my perfectionist tendencies by dying and dying until I find out what works, then doing it - but man, it hurts for platformers.

So there's my review of Prinny and a look at my gaming life all in one - it's a good game, I am just keeping myself from enjoying it!

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