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< Piro >

teaser....

"(v) to rend"

Tuesday - July 24, 2001

[Piro] - 06:21:00 - [link here]

Before i start, people PLEASE be careful when opening your emails! As many of you know, there is a virus called Sircam that is running around - it's a worm virus that attaches itself to files in your My Documents folder and sends it out to people via Outlook. I have been getting sircam infected files on the average of 2 to 3 emails an hour ever since Saturday - i'll let you figure out how many files that adds up to be. It's enough to make me want to scream. ^_^ Info on the virus and how to take care of it can be found here. Thanks. :)

btw, to whoever made this virus - not l33t. not l33t at all. Very lame. Try doing something creative, not destructive, for once in your life.

If the feedback i've been getting means anything, most people liked Monday's comic. Unlike most episodes of Megatokyo, there really is no punch line, there is no joke. There are a lot of subtle, amusing things in the comic, many of which people did pick up on, but on the whole it's really just about Yuki in one of her more fragile moments. Back in January i nearly got my ass handed to me for doing a strip that didn't have a punch line, a strip that wasn't a joke. It's nice to see that people are willing to take strips like this as part of the flow of the story without giving me hell about it. Thank you.

It's also interesting to compare Mondays comic with Friday's comic (the one that actually went up on Saturday) I am not happy with Friday's strip. Its not really any more complicated than todays, but for some reason it took three days to do (Thursday night, Friday night, and Saturday morning), and I still wasn't happy with the result. Today's comic took me four hours to draw, and 2 hrs to put together. Why the big difference?

Well, a few things. For Friday's comic, i really didn't spend enough time planning the layout, reviewing the script with largo, dom and ed. I didn't do a rough sketch of the final comic. I didn't really plan the panel layouts. It was Thursday night and I had to just start drawing. The funny thing is, as a result of this lack of planning, the strip took forever to finish. In contrast, I took the time Sunday to hash out the script, layout the panels, think about text placement, etc. As usual, i didn't start drawing until almost 9:00 pm on Sunday, but in the end it only took 4 hours to draw everything. After an hour of scanning and tweaking, and then a half hours worth of work first thing in the morning, the comic was done and up. And i was very happy with it.

Planning is important. The biggest obstacle that Largo and I have always faced is not the production aspects, its that never-never land of planning and organization that always presents the biggest challenge.

Otakon is coming up on us very fast - it's only a few weeks away. In that time, not only do i intend hammer along with Chapter 1 for the next two weeks, but i have a lot of material i am trying to finish for the con. Since Largo and I are invited guests and whatnot, we aren't really sure what to expect. ^^;; And since my life isn't complicated enough this month, my cousin decided that the weekend before Otakon was the perfect weekend to get married - so guess who is flying out to New York the weekend BEFORE Otakon. ^_^ I also hear that one of my younger cousins is a avid MT fan, and never knew that it was his cousin that drew the thing (hi Justin ^_^)

There's only one way to get thru a busy time like this, and that's to plan well. Too bad i suck at it. :) As an architect, planing and managing projects is something that i have to do every day. I guess that's why i'm pretty hard on myself when some of my planning goes awry, like with the multimedia CD project i talked about in my last rant.

Not all projects go astray. Sometimes a project or idea moves along very well, and turns into something that exceeds my expectations. If you visit the Art Forums at all I'm sure you are familiar with Merekat's work. She's a incredibly talented artist (her stuff REALLY makes me want to feed my drawing tablet thru a paper shredder ^_^) I had a chance to meet up with Merekat and her significant other Thien (who introduced her to MT in the first place) in Ann Arbor a few months ago. So, rather than maiming myself by lopping off fingers with a bolt cutter, we discussed the idea of doing some joint projects, specifically her applying her realistic rendering techniques to some of my drawings. This wasn't really an accident - truth is, Largo and I have some concepts and ideas that her technique were perfect for illustrating.

There are several 'modes' to megatokyo. The standard mode pretty much reflects the real-world situations of comic-piro and comic-largo in all its metaphysical manifestations. We have the Naze Nani mode in which the characters poke fun at themselves, Seraphim and Piro mode that is almost like a free-chat section by me, and Shirt Guy Dom mode which is just plain terrifying. There are other 'modes' that we will fall into from time to time - i call these 'gaming' modes or 'campaign' modes.

I think we've slipped into a gaming mode only once so far (remember the b4k4 quake episode? still one of my faves.) But these modes are actually a lot more complex and detailed than many of you realize. Much like gamers in real life, you tend to have long running lives that you live thru games that often have little to do with your daily life. These modes will reflect those adventures and stories, and there will be times when you can see glimpses into neighboring worlds, including the real one.

Since Largo and Piro don't really have access to computers right now, it's been easy for me to let the game world stuff slip, but it really is something we've been trying to develop. One of these days we'll manage to get some nice person to put together those PiroQuake and LargoQuake mods. There's a dating sim world which is the only one where piro plays a male character. There is a whole variety of worlds that loosely represent various gaming genres that exist out there.

One such genre or world is one that is loosely based on Neverwinter Nights and games of that ilk. I've been calling it MegaWinter Nights, and since it's based on the robust and story-filled world of RPG games, we've developed a pretty elaborate story that Largo and Pirogoeth have been playing. It's a campaign that has a history, and hopefully i'll figure out the best way to present these things without killing myself ^_^ As part of fiddling around with the concept, you'll remember the color drawing i did of Pirogoeth a while back. Not bad, really, but compared to the official art of games like Neverwinter Nights and Baldurs Gate, it was lacking.

That's where Merekat comes in. After taking some time to clean up and fine tune my own version of this drawing, i sent her it on to her to work her magic on. She has transformed the image into something that i could visualize but never render, something that really comes to life and has the intensity that i envisioned in the image.

The plan for this image is that once Merekat finishes it up, we're going to have a poster size print made that I'll bring with me to Otakon where we will show off the image (don't worry, we'll make it available here too) I'm also working on a image that represents the dating sim world, which will flank this image - to help represent the two sides of MT, the two extremes. God help me but i have a challenge ahead of me to make something that looks like anything beside this image.

Since we are so evil around here, we decided that a teaser image would be fun to pass around, so Thien put together this rather fascinating juxtaposition of Merekat's painting to my original. It's wallpaper sized, and you can view it here.

I don't ever anticipate being able to render the way Merekat does, but it does challenge me to improve my own styles and techniques, something she's been gracious in helping me with. Of course, the biggest challenge might be hers...

"what? you don't even know how to use levels??? for heavens sake, piro!"

heh. lets just say i have a long way to go. :)

< Dom >

the guy on the left is largo's new drinking buddy.

"akon-templations"

Tuesday - July 24, 2001

[Dom] - 04:34:00 - [link here]

One note before I switch from angry-rant mode toamused-rant mode: For the love of God, Outlook users,change your settings so your pain in the ass of a mailclient stops auto-opening anything. The rest of you, forcrying out loud, don't open e-mail attachments, even fromthose you trust, without first using an up-to-date virusscanner. I'm in the same boat as Piro, and I swear if I seeone more "Hi! How are you? I send you this file in orderto have your advice" I swear I'm going to track you downand tear out your larynx with a Chia pet... end rant.

Okay, it's been about a month and a half, I can now lookback at A-kon with a muddy memory and talk more about myoverall impression of the con and things that stick out inmy mind than about nitpicky details of the con.

The first thing I remember about the con is arriving at DFWairport and thinking "What the hell am I doing here?" A-kon was my third con in three months and my sixth in sixyears. The first was Origins '95 in San Jose, in caseyou're wondering--that's where I got most of my 1st editionD&D collection, including one of the few copies of OrientalAdventures that still has all the pages in it. But anyway,the point is that it was the third con in as many months,just as AX was the fourth con in as many months, and Otakonis my next con. Sometimes, I fear it will be my last,since the meeting of Piro and Largo is likely to cause fancritical mass. I can see the headlines now, "Comic stripcreators meet; Baltimore leveled in resulting crush offans."

Enough of that rambling, I'll get on to the meat of myrant. As I was waiting for Natsuki to pick me up, Ianother thought came to mind. I'd forgotten what Natsukilooks like. Thankfully, she picked me out easily, sinceaside from her boyfriend, I was about the only Asian inthat airport. The fact that I was carrying costumesupplies and looking about in the manner of an abandonedpup probably didn't hurt either.

>From there, I eventually ended up at the con. The secretsof how I made it out of Natsuki's clutches in one piece andstill in men's clothing still elude me. I'd pay good moneyto figure out how I kept her from tying me to the futon andslapping me in a skirt. Anyway, as I parked myself outsidea room and munched on my burger, I met the first MT fan ofthe con. I took a picture with him, talked a bit, and weboth left unfrightened. Thankfully, the encounters with MTfans I identified by their shirts generally followed thispattern, with me talking to someone as if I were anothercon-goer and not some sort of freak--which I am, but again,that's beside the point. That's a marked difference fromTanzy of OkashinaOkashi's experience, which involved unwanted contactand a healthy dose of fear. There was one uncomfortableexperience for me, but Largo was there to deflect some ofthe attention, and plus there was a table and expensiveequipment between us and them, saving us a great deal oftrouble.

And as a normal con-goer, I of course ran around in costumegetting pictures taken and taking pictures of othercostumes I was impressed by, such as Shiranui Mai, SolidSnake, Yun, Myotismon (the sheer amount of work thatmust've went into that costume boggles me), the cast ofCowboy Bebop--complete with stuffed dog and Red Dragongoons--and the lovable fool who had the balls to weartwenty pounds of chains and cosplay as KoF's Chang. Me, Iwent around as Kusanagi Kyo, and Wild Daigo. I had a lotof fun with Wild Daigo--only four people recognized me (thecostume wasn't exactly quality at that point, but itcertainly was FUN, which is all I care about) and two ofthem asked me for tips on Project Justice.

Another impressive effort award goes to the guys who madetheir own Boo consciences using the wings from a weddingcake (or something) and a stuffed hamster/gerbil/rat/trichobezoarand wore them around the con as a gigantic in-joke for allMT fans.

Actually, that's how I recognized Largo on Saturday night--he'd been given one of those Boos by a delightedfan, and was staring at it fascinatedly as the glitter fromthe wings slowly started migrating from Boo's wings to hishead. What followed was one of the highlights of the con,as Largo was handed a drink, and, still fiddling with theBoo to see if it exploded or had a hidden prize orsomething, some and promptly entered the nation of ReallyDamn Smashed. Right about when he was lying down mumblingabout panels and rooms and signs, Piro called. I onlycaught half of the conversation, but I felt a great deal ofsympathy for Piro for having to conduct daily dealings withLargo. I think I got fired and re-hired two or three timesduring that span of time, too.

Hmm. All in all, I liked A-kon for the sheer fact that Ihung out with so many great people--oh, and Largo, mustn'tforget him--and there was a Chang cosplayer. I didn'tcatch your name, O Crazy Chained One, but wherever you are,you made my con.

Now if you'll excuse me, I want to finish preparing forOtakon before I rant about AX. Let's see, fingerlessgloves, check. Spleen fork, check. Piano wire, check. Vibrating Sheep Mk IV, gotta buy that...

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