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Strip 325, Volume 3, Page 19


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< Piro >

"Real Time vs. Emotional Time"

Tuesday - October 22, 2002

[Piro] - 13:10:00 - [link here]

If you read my rantings and ravings with any sort of regularity, you might get the impression that I get nothing but flames, hate mail, and lengthy dissertations on how i could do the world a favor by falling into a wood chipper - but this isn't really the case. Aside from spam and virus laden email (which i still get in voluminous amounts - never put your email address on a webpage kiddies), 95% of all the email i get is both positive, warm, supportive, and generally good natured. Actually, i get a lot of email that is just plain fun to read - one of the most rewarding things about doing MT is that people really seem to like to think about it, and i probably get better feedback than most 'creative professionals' get back in a lifetime.

If you have ever written me an email, but have never received a response - you should know that at that i read all of them - in fact, reading email is one of the more enjoyable 'breaks' used to get to take (note i used the term 'used to' - more on that later). I have a horrible habit when reading emails - I mark emails that i "must answer" and then read on rather than just answering them as i read them. I swear, i may never get to answering them. I have an inbox full of emails marked 'must answer' that is now 1,854 msgs. It used to be much bigger, but Eudora crashed out several months ago and destroyed 2 years worth of backlogged MT mail. Now it's building up again. So much for my fresh start.

So, in short, thank you for all the supportive emails. It really pisses some people off that i have so many people emailing me and telling me how great i am and how much they love MT... y'know, there's really nothing wrong with it. You'd think it would be easy to get puffed up on how swell you must be with all these people emailing you such stuff... but that's not how i view it. To me, it's a sign that i'm doing ok with MT so far - as flawed, delayed, messed up, unorganized and unprofessional as it is, people are willing to look past that and stick with me as i try to do things right. MT fans show me a lot of respect, and to me, respect is a two way street. This is one of the reasons i try as hard as i do to do things right - even though i routinely fall way short of the mark.

My life tends to defy any sort of 'routine' - i suffer from an inability to understand what i am capable of doing and what i am NOT capable of doing. I routinely commit to far more than i can physically do - it's like some sort of twisted mental disorder - my brain is incapable of estimating time. An old employer used to refer to my time estimates as 'fred time'. For instance, when asked how long it would take to produce a fully rendered 3d model of this doctors office, i'd respond "two days". To this, he would apply the latest 'conversion factor' (like, say 5x) and come up with what it would really take me to produce image (ten days). After a while, even i learned to apply 'conversion factors to my estimates.

I think that over the years i've discovered why i do this. I think there are two types of time - Emotional Time, and Real Time. Real Time is fairly easy to discern - its basically the agreed upon and measurable duration between things that we use mechanical devises to measure (clocks) so that the measurement is the same for everyone. Now, we could get into deeper discussions about the fabric of time, space and other metaphysical stuffs... but i'm just a lowly webcomic artist, so for the sake of simplicity, we'll stick to keeping 'real time' in general terms.

Emotional time has more to do what we feel the time should be. We have all experienced the fact that an hour at work lasts a hell of a lot longer than an hour relaxing with friends later that evening. I can sit at work at 3pm and feel that the day will never end, but then later i can find that the time between 7pm and 2am disappeared in a flash. I think this is because deep down i measure time based on how important something is to me emotively. Its more about what i think that time is worth.

For instance, i can easily say 'a megatokyo comic takes eight hours to draw and put together'. and at this point i can really understand the time it takes to draw stuff - but that is only because i've been doing them for so long that i've been able to make the Emotional Time and the Real Time numbers align better. I run into problems with everything else. "i need to process, clean up and export these 133 comics to TIFF files. Sure, i can do that tonight, shouldnt take more than a few hours."

47 Real Time hours later, and i still have 16 more comics to 'clean up and export'

I do this kind of thing all the time. When i plan projects, or think about what i would like to do, I never estimate the amount of time it takes to do it correctly. Usually, its a stubborn factor - "i WANT to do this, therefore, i can do it in four hours." for something that will take an entire week to complete. I am currently suffering from this problem with the book. Just the basic stuff is taking far longer than i thought it would, even with appropriately applied "fredtime conversion factors"

This always leads me to think that i am just slow. Why can't i work as fast as my 'emotional time' says i should? I don't know. I really don't.

Maybe its a good thing that there is this kind of discrepancy between Real Time and Emotional Time. I swear, if i really knew what kind of time Megatokyo would suck out of my life, i would have been way to terrified to start. But once you commit to something, you have to find some way of compensating for your 'errors' in time estimating. At work its called 'overtime'. For something like MT, its 'deprivation of sleep' and paring down all non essential activities as much as possible. Recently, i haven't even been reading my email - and it's been piling up in alarming numbers.

The saddest thing that has had to give is the Megatokyo comic itself recently. I really AM sorry that Chapter 3 has stalled a little, but i can't help but think that in the future, people will be able to understand the infrequency of comics for a few weeks now, rather than real serious flubs in the quality of the book. Once that goes to print, its kinda hard to fix it. :P

I've also had to be more realistic about just how much new material i can put in the book. Just preparing old material for print has taken weeks of work - far more than i thought at first. How can i expect to prep old material, produce new material, and keep the current webcomic going all at the same time? The answer is simple - i haven't been able to.

Yeah, its enough to make the head spin sometimes. I'll be the first to admit that i am probably slower at a lot of these things than most professionals would be, even most other webcomic artists. I am a lot faster than i used to be, but it's still not fast enough, it seems.

I always get the same response from some people when i grumble about all the stuff i have taken on. "why don't you just quit?" (sigh) they just don't get it. People get on my case for whining a lot, but you know somethin... too damn bad. to quote a character from an old comic called "Fusion" that i used to read - "Leave alone, bitching only pleasure left in life." And it's like Seraphim told me once, over a year ago when i was feeling particularly overwhelmed and felt like quitting:

"If you weren't doing this, you'd just be messing around with something else just as time consuming."

Y'know, that poor girl deserves a hell of a lot more Real time and Emotional Time than she gets from me. hopefully once the book is off to the printers...


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< Dom >


"Machine Gun Talk"

Monday - October 21, 2002

[Dom] - 01:30:00 - [link here]

Okay, so I haven't ranted in a while. You'll have to forgive me, I've been riding a World Series roller coaster (two one-run games? My heart's gonna explode!), while balancing old deadlines, new responsibilities, upcoming events and, of course, The Book.

Alright, first The Book. Looking back at the early MTs, I've realized just how much things have changed since the first days of this sucker. God, has it been two-plus years already? I still remember where the sun was when I was looking at the first MT scripts--and trust me, with all the time I've since spent in cubicles, around demos, and under tables, that's an achievement.

But as Fred also discovered, it's a great way to touch base, no matter how much we think the early days sucked. I go back and think "Hey, we need to tighten that up soon"... so I guess this is a good thing. But it won't really be a Good Thing until we're done, and even then we'll probably complain about it. But it'll be done and we'll be ready to go on. Greeeeat... oh, and to answer your questions, yes, there will be SGD in the book. I won't say what ones, though I will say that most likely, Abstract Art Day won't make the cut. The original version was self-censored two years ago, and it'll be censored now.

Oh, right, and games. I work with those, so I might as well talk about them. But I warn you now, just as I won't touch BMX XXX with a ten-foot pole, I won't touch the subject either. I don't like dealing with Acclaim much, with their growing history of tasteless grabs at media attention, so I'll just leave it there. If you think it's funny, you think it's funny, and if you think it's crass, you think it's crass. I think it... is.

Super Monkey Ball 2 and Animal Crossing are ruling my world right now. My GameBoy Advance, once a $99 machine that existed solely to run Castlevania, has become a $60 or so controller for Animal Crossing that lets me go to Hokkaido. Meanwhile, I've lent Super Monkey Ball 2 to a friend with much greater patience for the single player game than I, so she can give it back with the tasty treats that are Monkey Tennis, Monkey Dogfight, Monkey Shoot and Monkey Baseball. Anything my 4-year-old niece can play her aunts and uncles at a nearly equal level of skill and fun deserves props... and of course, the magical spell is ei-ei-poo.

Meanwhile, in case I haven't talked about Steel Battalion before, I will again. It is awe-inspiring. There I am, sitting behind my editor in a darkened room, and I'm awestruck just by the ignition sequence. I love all the aspects of the game that I've seen so far. It looks gritty, plays at a nice, deliberate place, and there is no such thing as a debilitating leg shot. After much thought on this, shooting for the legs in a mech combat game, while effective and all, is no fun for the man you just shot down. At least you can appreciate a good head shot--especially if it's using the pistol in Halo. All you can appreciate with a leg shot is your new view of the sky or the turf. But if there's anything lacking, it's more games using the controller. While I enjoy my Twin Sticks, and had fun with the Maracas, I wouldn't mind too much if I could use them for more than one game, and those were less than half the price of the Steel Battalion controller. Feasible multiplayer wouldn't hurt, either.

And because I'm a big Sega fan, I have to give them some love for the spooge-inducing trinity of Panzer Dragoon Orta, Toejam and Earl 3, and Shinobi. All of these franchises have made great memories of three different systems, and I'm happier than a wet pig that the updates are as fun as I remember the originals being. Orta looks good in the preview builds I've played, though I can't help but wish it was Panzer Dragoon Azel/Saga 2. The Panzer Dragoon RPG had the best combat system I've ever had the privilege to get my grubby little mitts on. It was real-time and much more active than other games where you just watch a time bar build up, the maneuvering was simple yet intense, and it had more plans of attack you could shake a stick at.

Shinobi, meanwhile, is one of the better 3D action games I've played. Unlike certain 3D games, many of them platformers, the enemies are actually harder to fight than the camera. Most 3D action games haven't yet perfected the camera yet, and the number of times I was ready to kick Kingdom Hearts into the street-even though I wasn't playing it, my roommate was-just proved to me that it's still damn hard to get active cameras to feel right. But I haven't yelled at the Shinobi camera yet, so hopefully that'll hold up. Then again, I held the same hopes for Devil May Cry for a while, and that disappointed me a bit too, so we'll see.

Toejam is a peanut. That's all I have to say about that. (That's a good thing, by the way)

And finally, my sense of perversity (not perversion, though that sense is keen as well) has led me to playing Bistro Cupid, the game I linked up above. Some of you may have heard of this game, then promptly forgotten about it. I wouldn't blame you, but the sheer strangeness of this game led me to buy it.

The best way I can describe Bistro Cupid is as the mutant offspring of one of those Tycoon games, an RPG, and a girl get game. You see, the main character runs a restaurant named, unsurprisingly, Bistro Cupid. He's just graduated from cooking school, and many of the people in his graduating class, who happen to be young females designed to attract the fanboy eye, are also running their own establishments. He has to run the restaurant, and... er... run the restaurant.

This is where things start getting weird. Y'see, he starts out knowing one recipe, Spaghetti. To learn new recipes and become a better chef, he needs to... go out into the world and fight villainous monsters with his giant cleaver. He can bring two girls who like him into combat with him, and as they level up, they gain the ability to learn and equip more recipes. And the recipes don't just help you out in kitchen mode, no sir, they count as spells, too. Every recipe is assigned an MP cost and an element, and people who know the recipes can cast the recipe card as a spell. Weirded out yet? It gets better, the enemies that you fight are quite villainous, ranging from apples and eggplants to monkeys and ducks. My personal favorite enemy so far is the circus panda, who was a pushover but got quite a few laughs the first time I saw him.

Apparently, there's a dating game of some sort in there too, but who cares? I get to cast Vacuum Spaghetti at the enemy sheep, then follow it up with a slice from my mightily oversized, yet still SD blade. What's not to like?

Out for now-have some deadlines I have to make, and some of them are even ones that I can't push.


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