MegaGear Intervention Con MegaGear
Strip 126

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Intervention Con

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< Piro >

did you ever wonder who erika was cosplaying as?

"tripping over my feet"

Wednesday - May 30, 2001

[Piro] - 01:02:00 - [link here]

Well. Finally back on schedule. Imagine that. :)

Catching up wasn't easy, but it was worth the effort. I'd like to thank everyone for being patient with my and my schedule for the past few weeks. The 'lull' in MT strips was very productive for us. It's given Largo and I a chance to catch our breath, do some thinking and some development that was badly needed.

Doing megatokyo is a lot like developing a game and releasing it to the public at the same time. I've said in the past that MT is a bit of an 'experiment' - and it is. It's been a fairly successful one, too. The problem with experiments is that when you do them out in the open like this, you're mistakes are there for all to see, and they don't go away. But, hey, that's part of the fun. One of the things you learn about art is that it's not how perfect you are when you set pen or brush to paper - it's how adept you are at fixing or working with your mistakes. :)

Many weeks ago i switched to a new, manga-style format. I'm much happier with this approach, it's given me a lot more freedom and room to do individual strips. Keep in mind that i've never done comic-style layouts before. I haven't read or studied any books on the subject, i've just been using my feeble brain to cobble these things together. Most of the strips work well, some work great, some are a little confusing. Unfortunately i haven't had the luxury of being able to pass my work thru three levels of editors and had multiple chances to re-do the strips. This 'raw' style of MT is just part of it's pathetic charm, i think...

In the same way that the format needed to change to make things work better, so does the story format. Up till now, we've just been rambling along telling the story in a very slow, disjointed, organic kind of way. Part of the reason for this is that we've been developing the details for the story as we've moved along, and we've had to be cautious not to make moves that would hurt the story later. Coupled with my rather busy life, it's been a problem. Well, one of the benefits of the little 'lull' we took is that Largo and I have had some time to adjust and fine tune some things that have needed doing since we started. One of those things is the very format of the story and how it's presented.

Right now, Largo and I are in the process of wrapping up 'chapter 0' of megatokyo. It's been almost a year, and well over 125 strips. To me, life is a continuous, organic series of threads and happenings, but this lack of structure in a comic/story format makes it harder to build clear, entertaining stories that don't frustrate the hell out of people because there is the feeling nothing is ever resolved. By sliding into a 'chapter' based format, Largo and i can build more cohesive 'arcs' that fit within a 16-20 episode set, which also leaves room for one-liners, outtakes, art days, and other in sundry happenings. We won't be taking any breaks between chapters - that's not the purpose - it is just simply adding a little structure to the story. Much like loosening up the 4-square frames - adding structure here will be beneficial and help us with our planning. That's what we've been working on for the past few weeks.

Before I took a break, i felt like i was stumbling and tripping over my own feet with Megatokyo. I finally feel like i've got my balance. That isn't to say MT is going to be perfect - far from it - but i feel that now we can finally start providing the quality content i think all of you deserve from our tiny little world.

[update]

oh, i just HAD to add this.

There was a little confusion of Erika's confrontation with the 'chikan' (molestor, pervert) who groped her on the train (can you say 'oooh... bad choice, dude.' ^_^) First of all, yes, this kind of thing is a problem and is very common in japan. When i read the Mainichi Daily News (thier english version is fun to read) i spotted this article today in the Wai Wai section of the paper called "Molested girls pay back perverts"... read it and laugh. :)

< Largo >

you're already here.

"E3 Wrap Up II"

Wednesday - May 30, 2001

[Largo] - 08:21:00 - [link here]

The real gem of E3 was Bioware's Neverwinter Nights.

For those unfamiliar, Neverwinter is a single player and multiplayer role playing game designed with the 3rd edition Dungeons & Dragons rules. However that fact isn't the games defining factor, nor is it a chief selling point. Instead, the real appeal of the title to us has been the concept of a "roll your own" game.

The purpose of Neverwinter was to design a product that is more then just a mere game. With most single player games, once you've completed it in all the possible ways, you tire of it. In Neverwinter - that may never happen. The reason behind this is because Neverwinter is designed to allow anyone to make an intricate adventure for anyone to use.

The product is divided into three equally important parts; server, client, and the module creation tools.

The server is just that, a server. This process runs the module you've either downloaded off the net, or created on your own with the tools. The server runs the module, and that's about it. It waits for a connection from a client, or multiple clients. Bioware has said the server is going to be able to support up to 64 client connections at once. No fancy front end, no bloated code just to make it look pretty will be found here. It's refreshing to see a company make a product that meets the requirements to fulfill its purpose, without letting marketing impose unnecessary kludge on such a crucial piece.

The client is just that, a client. There will be one for both Players and Dungeon Masters. The interface is very clean, in fact it's one of the most efficient designs I've ever seen. The concept behind the interfaces creation was as Trent Oster has said "It's there when you need it, it's not when you don't". The interface appears as a circular ring, a dial over your character when you call it, the interface takes up a tiny area of the screen, so you don't lose visibility. The dial itself is not much larger then your character to give you can idea of its compact size. The dial works by selecting an option off the ring, which spawns another layer of options. The design is akin to tree architecture, as each option branches out into another set of options, and so on. Durring the E3 demo, I saw a spell caster manually call the interface, and cast a spell in a matter of seconds.

Finally, the real jewel in this crown is the Neverwinter Tools. These tools are what allow you to edit, and create modules on your own. The interface is clean, and in 3D, so you can zoom into and get a good idea of what the final look of your world is going to be, before you load it. The interface is simple too, it appears as even a novice with no scripting background can paint down a town, forest, or dungeon and throw in any of the pre-scripted villains and features in order to create their own adventures.

However it is the scripting language itself that appeals to me, granted - I'm a coder myself, so I'm biased, but the idea of using a C-like language and giving players with the know how or drive to use it for their own is new. Most game makers never have this sort of optimism when it comes to their market's audience. As Trent Oster said "The good news about the scripting language, is it's a real scripting language. The bad news about it, is it's a real scripting language." Leaving the door wide open for people with talent to create impressive modules will only further the lifespan of this product. This is also one of the main reasons so many people are waiting with bated breath for its release. To help those new to scripting be able to make their own, more complex modules, Bioware has decided to open source their modules, so when you download, or purchase a module - you can see everything inside it, just as if you made it yourself. By analyzing existing modules, a person will be better be able to understand "how they did that", and learn to do it themselves.

During the E3 demo, I got a glimpse at some of the AI scripts already developed. To put it plainly, it's insane. I've never seen so many functions just for how something is going to attack you.

Bioware's E3 demo was a success on a number of levels. Bioware was able to demonstrate a product that is mature in its development cycle. They showed that their product is becoming everything they have scoped it to become. And most importantly, they proved they have great taste in beer.

One final note, Neverwinter Night's release date is said to be, in "winter" - but Trent made it a point to note that in Canada, it's always winter.

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