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< Piro >

"endflow...ing"

Wednesday - February 25, 2009

[Piro] - 02:19:23 - [link here]

Well, i certainly didn't finish any of these BEFORE i left, but they have turned into a nice fun exersize in sketching. Indulgant, perhaps, but they are actually part of the story, so maybe you'll forgive me. The first one is almost done, but i still have to finish the background. Here is the drawing where it currently stands, and a detail of the nutty hatching on the dress.

I'll refine the background a little more in the morning, but i thought i'd post what i had here before i got some sleep. Florida trip was lots of fun, did a lot of things, Jack had a great time, the coldest temperature we experienced on the whole trip was in our driveway when returning home... you get the idea. :) Good to be back, good to see i can still draw again, too.

the author and his cohort

< Pirowen >

"The Gangster of Love Speaks Out"

Thursday - February 19, 2009

[Pirowen] - 16:11:16 - [link here]

Please allow me to introduce myself. I'm Pirowen and for quite a while I've been Fred's go to guy for information on playing MMO. The fact is that for the last ten years I've played nothing but MMO, only once having played Mortal Kombat on someone else's console. During this time I've played many different games but currently I'm only playing Everquest. In fact I've said that once I was done with Everquest I'd be done with any gaming at all.

I'm a Guide on Everquest and one of my favorite duties as Guide is to perform weddings. As the Wedding Coordinator on my home server I will check for messages in guide help as soon as I log in to see if there's anyone needing my services. The procedure is as follows, I find the message and then check to see if the player requesting it is online. If so I send them a tell asking them for little details such as race/religion/class of the happy couple, where they'd like the event to take place, if they have rings. Then my work begins, I find a script that is suitable for the occasion in our library then pretty much rewrite it to make it appropriate and special for the couple. Now this is where the fun can begin!

Once I married a Dark Elf Shadowknight and a Half Elf Paladin. Talk about an apparent mismatch! But I'd known the two of them for a long time having frequently stopped by to give them milk and cookies in the Plane of Knowledge. Well this ceremony needed something just a bit more over the top so I suggested that to confirm his abiding devotion and love for his darling that the Paladin should perhaps... kill something! Well this suggestion was greeted with a great deal of enthusiasm and arrangements were made to bring a hapless low level Gnome whose usual haunt was the Bazaar in to be the victim. On cue the Paladin, a devotee of Erollisi Marr the Goddess of Love no less, fell on the hapless Gnome and slew him! I rather think the Goddess would be pleased at such devotion, if you know the Hills of Shade lore then you know just how intense she can be. Well having completed the ceremony my cohort and I served up Gnome sandwiches obviously made from fresh Gnome! This was a big hit with the Players that day.

Of course not all weddings turn out so well, on a couple of occasions I've seen runaway brides. On one of those occasions the bride went link dead, we waited and waited, the groom told me that he was trying to call her on the phone. This went on for nearly an hour and I began getting humorous tells from his guild mates and friends. We never did see the bride again.

Sadly though, it's frequently not the Bride and Groom who are the center of attention but one of the guests. Had an occasion where an avatar popped in right in the middle of the ceremony in a state of partial dress and began sending me tells that seemed to indicate that the player was working on alcohol tolerance real time. She wasn't anywhere near as funny as she thought she was.

The most memorable wedding ever really had nothing that memorable happen in it at all though. A few months after the event the groom approached me in the Guild Lobby and told me that he and his game wife had met in real life shortly after the wedding and were now engaged. That was pretty cool. The truth is that for most MMO players the game world is just another place that they go and spend time. They meet people, make friends and on occasion fall in love. C'est le vie!

So if you're an EQ player and happen to see a Green Name of Pirowen be sure to hail me and ask for a snack. I have plenty of milk and cookies.

Cue OP from the anime that never happened.

< Kalium >

"The Sacred Moon"

Wednesday - February 18, 2009

[Kalium] - 11:00:00 - [link here]

When Fred asked me to rant while he's away, my first response was a large grin of the IRC variety. This was followed rapidly by maniacal laughter, and then by half a dozen potential topics racing through my head and being immediately discarded. There's no point in talking about the economy, or politics, or how variable the weather in southeastern Michigan has been of late. I can't talk about art or drawing - I'm certainly no artist. The dozen or so of you readers who actually know me and would be interested in hearing about my life have already heard it. As much as I like talking technical details of things, a technical post on some aspect of our setup here would leave many of you headscratching and wondering what language I was speaking. I mean, I could talk about why gpc_magic_quotes and register_globals being enabled in the PHP configuration of a NAS I bought from ThinkGeek has nightmarish implications for the Korean-built management software that comes with it, but that means nothing to most of you.

Well, not you, Sir Systems Administrator, but think of the rest of the readers.

So instead I'll start you off with a bit of what it's like to try to talk story directly with Fred. For whatever reason, you've decided that you want to nail Jello to a pole. Not just any pole, that would be too easy. This pole is in the middle of a parking lot in Phoenix, and it's a bright and sunny day in mid-July. So you start hammering, trying to ignore the bizarre squishing sounds. Inevitably, you hit your thumb. Once you finish demonstrating your prowess at profanity, you search the vicinity for your gelatinous escapee. You find it soon enough, half-evaporated and complete with a new coating of dust.

And your thumb still hurts.

Yes, it's kind of like that. No, I won't explain. Before anyone asks, I do indeed mean the Phoenix in Arizona. The one in the middle of a friggin desert. I don't really have anything against the place, but I come from the land of the ice and snow I'm from Michigan. It's just too hot for my blood.

I can hear you now. "Kal, when are you going to get to the point? Does this rant even have a point?" To which I respond "It does, I promise. Eventually." By which I mean "immediately."

Despite the manga-ness of Megatokyo, anime doesn't get a lot of play in the rants these days. It's past time I changed that.

Akikan had a promising start. It didn't take itself too seriously, and had at least one genuinely amusing character - Najimi. Unfortunately, this didn't last. It veered all too quickly into Serious Business with some kind of nonsensical tournament (aluminum cans versus steel cans - who cares?) and some extremely predictable "plot twists", as well as your standard gags. All of it got old fast. Najimi's still a good character, or was when I stopped caring, but she deserves a better show around her than Akikan. I watched four episodes, and decided enough was enough.

RideBack is somewhat better thus far. Admittedly, the name is just a bit odd, and the titular semi-motorcycle pseudo-mechas on which the show centers are odder still. A former star ballerina as a mecha pilot also strikes me (and many of the characters) as a bit strange, but they make it work. To their credit, the fact that a girl wearing in a dress and driving a motorcycles gives a show to all the guys nearby was only played for laughs twice that I can recall. The art is good, the characters interact in believable ways, and the evolving web of loyalties and politics is going to make things really interesting down the line. Armed conflict is brewing, and the mechas are going to be a big part of it. I'm still watching this one, although it's only been a few episodes. If nothing else, watching ballet applied to mecha piloting is unique and interesting, and has the potential for mech battles as fun as anything the first season of Code Geass did.

White Album started off with a exceptional first four episodes. A main character who, despite the harem cropping up around him, would rather stay with his girlfriend, a rising star of an idol. Needless to say, he's also a complete tool, but his best friend is somewhat saner. There's the sempai, who appears to be slowly self-destructing. There's a classmate, who manages to be inscrutable and bizarre while still fixating on him in ways that border on creepy. There's even a high school girl involved. By far the most interesting and most entertaining is Ogata Rina - an established idol and probably the best character in the show. She's certainly more fun than the rest of them. After a great scene centering on her in a coffee shop in episode two, I knew she was going to be the heart and soul of White Album.

Unfortunately, I was proven right - episode five takes a dive when it minimizes her presence while simultaneously setting a record for sheer awkwardness in a date setting. Episode six didn't help much, but episode seven may be the beginning of a recovery. That said, White Album is slated for thirteen episodes, so it had better get a move on if all this drama is going to go anywhere. If nothing else, at least the cheesecake is animated in loving detail.

I have a soft spot for a good space opera of roughly Jovian proportions, so I've been watching Tytania. If you like space opera involving both Byzantine politics and the shenanigans of clever rebels, then watch. If space opera's not your thing, go elsewhere. I find the political machinations of four barons vying for the favor of their lord fascinating, especially when they create an enemy that has the potential to bring down their dynasty in the process. The aforementioned clever rebel manages to be a combination of Ender Wiggin and a devil-may-care attitude. Akin to Mat Cauthon, if you've read Robert Jordan. Albiet with somewhat less womanizing and more revenge-seeking.

Clannad After Story is kind of a big deal right now, so I would be remiss if I didn't touch on it. The first season was fun. It had humor, it had characters I liked, it was broadly fun to watch. After Story... really lost a lot of that for me. I keep hearing about how good it gets, but really, I lost interest once Tomoyo and Kyou left the picture. Nagisa just leaves me cold. I realize she's the main girl of the game, and thus the focus of the anime. For me, Nagisa is somewhere between uninteresting and actively boring.

This may or may not be tied to why I wanted to strangle the bimbo Nana in the first few episodes of that show. Or related to why I liked Sheryl and found Ranka irritating in Macross Frontier. Or, for that matter, why I much prefer the Unlimited Blade Works scenario to the Fate scenario in Fate/stay Night.

I need to mention Toradora! There's just no way I can get away without doing so. It's the standout show this season. Of course, you don't need the likes of me to tell you to watch it. With two guys and three girls in a show where romance is in the air, you're going to run afoul of the pigeonhole principle - when you have more pigeons than holes, you're going to get pigeons sharing holes. Unlike most shows that do something like this, Toradora isn't marked by shallow or incredibly insensitive characters. The five main characters are all very distinct with clear motivations - at least at the beginning. Then things get complex, emotions run high and hot, and almost all the main characters have to take off the mask and face themselves in the mirror. After all, what you think you want and what you actually want often don't quite line up. It's a solid work, and easily one of the best high school romance shows in years.

Far and away, my current passion in anime is Kara no Kyoukai. It's a Type-MOON/UFOtable work and thus visually stunning, although there are some visual constants running around. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Kara no Kyoukai starts you off with a view of the lead couple. Well, sort of. What you actually see is Mikiya through Shiki's eyes. As cold as she is to him in this scene, their relationship is both dramatically deeper and very much more complicated than it seems.

The plot of the first episode kicks off when a girl mysteriously commits suicide by jumping from the top of a very large building. She's not the first girl to randomly jump off that particular roof, so something is up. Shiki goes looking. She knows she's found a clue when bloody footprints and a grisly corpse turn up. Things promptly get strange and supernatural, and Shiki stops to chill out.

The climax of the episode is undoubtedly the fight scene. If there was any doubt, here it is erased - Shiki is beautiful, elegant, and always stylish. She's also brutally effective, has steel well beyond just that in her hand, and the grave is no bar to her blade.

I said that Shiki and Mikiya have a rather complex relationship, and you'll just have to take my word for it that that's an understatement. I won't go into why, but it takes something unusual for the heartless assassin that is Shiki to be involved with someone as apparently banal as Mikiya. Suffice to say that their romance is anything but conventional.

Yes, I said romance. Under the blood and violence, Kara no Kyoukai is a love story. This may or may not be a big part of why I love it so dearly. That, and the fact that it's just that much fun. So if you're up for a dark, violent, and mature storyline, check out Kara no Kyoukai. Just remember - blood makes the grass grow.

...

Is anyone even reading this far down? I could go on. There are six more episodes of Kara no Kyoukai to talk about, and its connections to Tsukihime and Fate/stay Night to discuss... but I suppose I'll cut things short. 'til next time.

< Piro >

"journey endgamming"

Monday - February 16, 2009

[Piro] - 11:19:15 - [link here]

Yknow, if i'm ever going to start ranting again, i just need to 'effin do it, yknow? The hell with trying to pull together some sort of meaningful and life-altering drivel that i've pondered and given extensive thought to. My head is such a perpetual motion machine of randomness, threads of thought and scatterings of in-progress works that i guess it's only proper that my rants reflect this as well. Works great for twitter, so why not here (i wrote a bit about my thoughts on this over on my fredart blog.)

Sarah, Jack and I are going on a trip this week down south and i've been scrambling to get things ready. It's not like the old days when Sarah and I could just throw stuff together, hop in the van and trundle off into the wild yonder. This will be Jack's first big trip, and the first trip for Seraphim since we got back from New Zealand and Australia. A little vacation, a little clearing of the head, a little business, and good chance for Jack to watch more of the world go by outside as we do some 'splorin. We're leaving on Tuesday, and we'll be back on Monday the 23rd.

I've been trying to get some things done to post while i am away, and of course i am behind on them, but if nothing else some of it will get posted before or during my trip. Here is a screengrab of the drawing for today's multi-part DPD-ish postings for the week, as well well as a slightly closer look. The idea here is to not really explain anything to you regarding the drawings, other than to say that they are all significant to the Megatokyo story. I did some preliminary sketches in pencil for this series, and i've been working from this one for today's drawing. It's a little curious to put them side by side and note the differences.

BTW, you will note how nice it is to be able to take screen grabs with a quick keystroke. I created an Automator function quite a while back that lets me take a screen grab, uploads the file to my server and stores the URL in my clipboard. Yes, i know there is software for the mac that does this, but its not as convenient or simple as the way i do it (which sucks, because ther are other features i like about it). The upshot is that I actually have a pretty nice record of some of my work in progress, something i never really had before.

I've also asked two friends to do some guest blogging/ranting while i'm gone, and you can look for their posts here on this site during the week. Also, If you haven't done so, be sure to give dom's The S-Words Podcast a listen, it's actually really entertaining :) It might actually take you a few weeks to get through all the giddy bouncy bouncy posts, but Danny Choo has posted quite a few entertaining and interesting posts over on Boing Boing where he's been guest blogging for the past week or so. Just don't poke him too much, he might burst.

I do not mean to relegate this to the end of my rant, but the lack of rantage just goes to show how important it really is to do this more regularly. Like i said earlier, this trip we're taking is really the first we've taken since our big trip to Australia and New Zealand two years ago. I've watched with a great sense of horror the devastation and death caused by the brush fires in the state of Victoria in Australia.

When we visited Uluru, i remember looking at some of the charred areas where brush fires had burned near the rock and looked around, wondering at how scary a fire might be in the very dry scrub all around us. In fact, on the way back from our camel ride (yes, a camel ride, don't laugh) we drove past a scene that was quite alarming - a controlled burn. I tried to take a picture of it. Even this smaller blaze had such an air of conflagration to it that was chilling. Disasters on this scale take a lot of time to recover from, and our hearts go out to everyone there who has been effected by it. I got an email from a reader that says it better than i can, so i'm just going to post the relevant bits here:

I don't know how much you've heard about what's happened down on our side of the globe, but the state of Victoria in Australia, has been really badly hit by bushfires this year. So far, over 1,000 homes have been destroyed, as well as businesses and schools and kindergartens. Entire towns have been levelled. The death toll is more than double the previous worst fire death toll. In the 1980s we had the Ash Wednesday fires that killed 76 people. This year's Black Saturday fires have killed 181 people, with the death toll expected to rise.

The fires are still burning, towns and people are still in danger. The whole country has rallied to support the victims, so I'm doing my bit right here.

I realise that arranging delivery to Australia could prove tricky, but you may be able to work something out with the Red Cross - they're coordinating the relief efforts down here and might have some suggestions.

And anyone who wants to donate towards the Bushfire Relief Appeal can do so through their website.

She also included information about donating to the Victoria RSPCA to help the animals that have been effected by the fires, but its gratifying to see that the response has been so great in Australia that they are good for now.

Hopefully i can post finished versions of that drawing DPD thingy before i go (i know i'll get at least one up ^^;;). Now back to scrambling to finish prep and those drawings...

< Dom >

I

"Uh oh"

Friday - February 27, 2009

[Dom] - 14:44:28 - [link here]

I'm going to see Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li tonight. It has zero positive reviews on the Internet so far. I figure it's going to take the place of my penance for Lent.

< Dom >

"Tweet tweet"

Saturday - February 21, 2009

[Dom] - 22:35:22 - [link here]

I've resisted Twitter for a very long time, largely because it stokes my OCD in ways that my OCD should not be stroked.

But here I am as the s_words, and it's not as bad as I thought it would be.  I am completely free to ignore 90% of it, so basically I just post random updates and ignore anything that isn't addressed to me.

I honestly have no idea if this is the right way to use it, but it's good enough for my purposes.  Now to figure out why so many of the marketing positions I'm applying for ask me if I use Twitter...

Image from blog.wired.com

< Dom >

"The Lame Scale"

Thursday - February 19, 2009

[Dom] - 11:14:31 - [link here]

I almost pulled a 6 on the Lame Scale last night.

Before I explain what the Lame Scale is and how it's calibrated, I should tell you what actually happened yesterday.  Early in the day, I picked myself up a copy of Street Fighter IV.  Contrary to popular belief, I didn't pick up a pre-order.  I didn't need to, because I don't go to Gamestop - the Target near my parents' house is always stocked up with whatever game I want that will be sold out at other stores, so I just went there as I always do.

When I went home and fired up the game, I realized that I had tickets to the Warriors-Lakers game, which I've had circled on the calendar for a year.  Street Fighter IV only spent about six months circled on the calendar, and I was torn between staying at home to play Street Fighter or going to the Oakland Coliseum to watch basketball.

According to my roommate, I was about to commit a 6 on the Lame Scale.  The Lame Scale, as he delineated it, goes from "not very lame thing to miss" at 1 to "you will be mocked forever" at 10.  So here's an example of what constitutes one through ten:

1: Not answering the door for evangelical Christians because of Street Fighter
2: Not answering an IM because of Street Fighter
3: Not answering the phone because of Street Fighter
4: Missing your favorite TV show (and forgetting to record it?) for Street Fighter
5: Staying in and ordering pizza instead of heading out, thanks to Street Fighter
6: Missing a basketball game for Street Fighter
7: Missing a date for Street Fighter
8: Missing a job interview for Street Fighter
9: Forgetting your anniversary for Street Fighter
10: Forgetting your wedding day because of Street Fighter

...Anyway, that's the lame scale.  You can argue with specific listings, especially since basketball and dating will either mix or switch positions based on your current interests, but the concept is there, and I nearly pulled a 6.

Given that the Warriors played 45 minutes of a great game and lost it completely in the last 3, I kind of wish that I'd actually pulled it and stayed home to learn my Dictator poking game.

PS: New S-words podcasts up, with our Johnny Yong Bosch interview and a mailbag/Stuff segment. Have a listen and tell us what you think (hell, we have a Twitter now)!  Also, I seem to have made a real appearance on Real Life Comics, so thanks, Greg!  I think.

< Dom >

"Long live the fighters!"

Saturday - February 14, 2009

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

Two exciting things happened today - one, the S-Words podcast for Street Fighter was posted, and a lot of love went into that one. Two, we got to interview Johnny Yong Bosch for the S-Words!  I'm having a great time here at AOD, as always (I'm staff, so my definition of "fun" is slightly different from an average convention attendee's definition).

So head over to the S-Words and listen, then tell us what you think!  We're starting to get enough demand that we're having special episodes to break past the weekly schedule.  We're doing everything from mailbag episodes to interviews (as we can) and more.  This is getting pretty exciting!

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