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< Piro >

into the QR dungeon

"Sprites in a QR Dungeon"

Friday - February 24, 2012

[Piro] - 15:09:26 - [link here]

Just before we went to Ohayocon last month, Seraphim asked me to make her a hoodie with a QR code that led to the Megatokyo website. Not a bad idea, really - you’d have to scan it to find out what it was for. The only problem was, I didn’t put too much time into understanding how QR codes worked. To put it on a black background I inversed the QR code which, needless to say, didn’t work. You can imagine the level look I got from her at the convention when it was discovered that the QR code she was wearing was unreadable. Oops.

Partly in an effort to make up for that FAIL, I poked a little at how QR codes work. Seraphim noted that it might be in my best interest to see if I could make the QR Code a bit more interesting by adding some sort of design to it. This is actually possible because QR codes have a certain amount of error correction built in - if you work within the error correction, you can do some interesting things. Since working within error correction ranges is what I’m all about… challenge accepted.

At first I experimented with putting the word ‘megatokyo’ in the design. In the process of trying to get it to work, it kinda seemed to negate the whole purpose of having a design that you would have to scan to identify. Then it dawned on me that a QR code looks an awful lot like a Pac Man game or a Dungeon Maze… which lead instantly to my sudden need for some Megatokyo sprites. If I could create decent, recognizable sprites of Largo, Pirogoeth and M0h it would be the perfect overlay. If you recognized the characters, you’d know it was a Megatokyo shirt - if you didn’t, you could scan the QR code to find out. Fun, I thought.

Except for the whole making the sprites thing. In case you weren’t aware of it, doing really good pixel art is HARD. A lot harder than you might think. That said, I think my first real crack at doing pixel art in years didn’t come out too bad - Largo, Pirogoeth and m0h, actually looking pretty reasonable. Are they TRUE sprites, designed to a low color palette and to a specific size? Uh… no, not really. But they’re close, and probably could be tweaked, if need be.

Now all I need to do is fire up RPG maker and … uhm…

Woah. Getting ahead of myself. ^^;; Lets get the t-shirt designs out first. The QR Quest design is now up in the Megagear store, as well as a shirt featuring just the MT Endgames sprites. All our black t-shirts including these new designs, which normally sell for $20 are on sale for $17 (S-XL - larger sizes are a bit more). A nice alternative to all those Nintendo sprite shirts, no? ^^;;

Speaking of sales and stuff in the Megagear store, all Megatokyo posters are on sale for $10 each, including the new Megatokyo Cast poster.

Also on sale are all 11x17 Fine Art Prints, $15 each, including a brand new full color print “Respawn Point” print. The sale includes our full selection of prints from the sold-out 2012 Megatokyo calendar, now including Dom, Ed, Piro, Largo, Junko, Seraphim and Junpei.

Thank you, as always, for your support.

< Kalium >

More details on the text of the bills here

"Black Bars"

Wednesday - January 18, 2012

[Kalium] - 11:08:07 - [link here]

In case anyone missed the memo, today is January 18th. That makes today SOPA Blackout Day. SOPA - the "Stop Online Piracy Act" - is HR3261. It's what happens when the MPAA and RIAA write the legislation they think will save them from piracy. In this case, it involves internet censorship and placing a heavy burden on site owners to police what their users post. I won't go into details here, but lots of other people can and have on other sites. The point is this: censorship bad.

As an anime and manga fan, the crusade against piracy puts me - us - in a bit of an awkward spot. Ours is a culture that thrives on piracy. On the one hand, we want to support the people who create what we love. On the other hand, we're not always willing to wait and find out if the stuff we want to watch now will be picked up and translated. So piracy is often the answer. In that sense, we're part of the problem. We pirate wildly, and many of us have few compunctions about pirating things that we do have legitimate ways to get.

Maybe Gabe Newell's right. Maybe piracy is a service problem. I've drifted far afield, though. Point is, we as a subculture are in no position to wax self-righteous about piracy. It is, after all, a big chunk of what unites us. We're pirates. Yarr.

The reason so many people are upset over SOPA isn't piracy. Broadly speaking, there is agreement that piracy needs to be fought. The issue is how. SOPA and it's close cousin PIPA contain an array of tools that amount to censorship. The bills would empower the Attorney General in a way that would require the removal of links and search results and force companies to stop doing business with each other. Moreover, "qualified plaintiffs" would have most of those powers without judicial involvement. To rub salt in the wound, the sort of sites that would be subject to this legislation is very broad. Pretty much any site that allows users to submit content would fall under SOPA.

Also, the way they chose to go about it is technically clueless. Because it wasn't bad enough thus far, right? It sets up a system ripe for abuse. If the DMCA is any guide, enforcement of "under penalty of perjury" clauses will be impressively lax.

In theory, this stuff is intended to block piracy. In practice, it grants a few people the power of censoring entire domains for very flimsy reasons. I don't know about you, but I have remarkably little sympathy for would-be censors. I have even less for ones who want to break the internet.

Back off, chumps. You can't have it. It's ours.


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