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  1. Panel 1:
    <I assume you think you are amusing today.>
  2. Panel 2:
    <Aren't I always? Howabout a smile? Or do you want to try to scare them all away?>
    Also shown:
  3. Panel 3:
  4. Panel 4:
    <Much better. OK, I'll go manage the mess at the door.>
    Also shown:
  5. Panel 5:
    <Piro, don't let anyone pressure her into answering questions she doesn't want to. And don't let them behind the counter.>
    <OK. I'll do my best.>
    Also shown:
  6. Panel 6:
    <Hayasaka-san... are you OK?>
  7. Panel 7:
    <No, no I'm not. I can't decide if I want to scream or cry.>


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< Piro >

smile, Mai, you can do it...

"pulling a smile"

Friday - June 18, 2004

[Piro] - 13:31:00 - [link here]

One of the things that I've noticed about myself is that I am very much a creature of habit. For instance, when I find a dish at a restaurant that I like, I will order the same thing every single time I go there. Habits are hard to change, it's a lot like trying to divert a stream - it takes a lot of digging, engineered fill and concrete pipes to encourage it to go somewhere else.

My worst habits are all time management related. Simply deciding, for instance, that I will start working on a comic at 10am instead of 10pm is about as effective as trying to coax a stream to flow uphill just by talking to it. For months I've been battling this subliminal habit of mine which had arbitrarily set the real deadline for MT comics to "within 12 to 18 hrs of the 1am deadline I keep telling people." Upon returning home from my last trip, I decided that it was time to change this bad habit.

It's amazing how long it took for the actual change order to filter thru the various bureaucratic levels of my brain. Yesterday was like a bit of a breakthrough. I was able to start early, do things mostly to an acceptable level of quality, and finish things a whopping four hours early. This is what I hope becomes a habit.

Like all changes, of course, things don't always go smoothly. After going home, making dinner, and sitting down to watch the midnight re-broadcast of the Keith Olbermann show and taking in what I felt was a well deserved couple of episodes of Full Metal Panic Fumoffu (of which I will speak more later), Sarah says to me... "Did you post the comic? it's 1:15am."


Of course, by the time I went thru the process of getting it up, it was 1:20am. Technically, given the fact that the comic is usually REALLY late, I shouldn't berate myself for this little trip up at the finish line, but still, it set me in a bit of a glumpy mood that only another episode of Fumoffu was able to rectify.

The new website backend, which is coming along nicely, will enable me to actually enter comics into the system and set them to go live at their actual release time. There will also be a RSS feed that will alert those who utilize RSS feeds that the comic has been updated. The system will also put another level of pressure on me - I'll have to enter the finished script into the database as I post (so the search function can work properly). This means I really can't be doing comics last minute like I tend to do. So I hope the new habit sticks.

Oh, and i want to give props to Larry Ullman from DMC Insights. Larry is currently embroiled in building the new backend for the Megatokyo website. I actually worked with Larry years ago when looking to do a website for the architecture firm i was working for. Larry has also authored a few books on PHP, one of which i had and didn't realize it was by him ^^;; We are currently a little behind schedule, but that is 100% my fault because i didn't anticipate the learning curve for getting up to speed with XHTML and CSS and i was late finishing the templates.

When I was working on today's strip, one of the things that worried me the most was trying to show Erika smile and still have her looking like Erika. I've had people email me in the past and ask my why the girls I draw always look so sad. I've had people ask that and then go on to ask if I am unhappy or sad too (sound familiar? :P) So how do you make a sad girl smile?

In one of the many Kanon inspired comics that I have, in particular, in the "Kagikko" Kanon & Air tribute comics by Twin Hear Comics there is a comic where Sayuri and Yuuichi are trying to get Mai to smile. Probably the most amusing part of it is where Mai looks in the mirror in the bathroom and tries to force herself to smile. For most of us, how we feel inside is reflected on our faces or in our eyes, and you can't truly hide it. I wanted to convey that Erika can give a eyes open smile that would come off as extremely creepy - and it would only be so because we know what she is really feeling inside.

I've been picking up a lot more stuff lately. I've been digging thru my backlog of manga, digging into magazines and routing thru more websites than usual. I've been feeling more inspired lately, I guess. For instance, Full Metal Panic itself was ok, I enjoyed watching it, but theres really something about Full Metal Panic Fumoffu that *really* appeals to me. That's the nice thing about the huge variety of things that are out there. You can be selective.

I've been playing around with Clannad a bit, but I'll go into that in my next rant. I feel that the world really is ok, because Quarter Iceshop now has a clannad inspired comic called MINACLA (it's on the front page, easy to find). :) I also bought the first Marvel comic I have bought in... in... like, EVER? Something about this particular one grabbed my interest, so I snagged it. I'll let you know what I think when I read it. Also, Seraphim and I got a really nice stack of stuff from Antarctic Press that we are still going thru, and there's some nice stuff in there too.

But I'll save that for monday :)

Oh, and wonder of wonders, there's an update over on fredart. If you liked today's comic, you might want to step over and see one of the erika drawings that i had done a few weeks ago, while thinking about all of this. :)

oh, one other thing, i almost forgot ^^;; Last week marks one full year that my sister Jen has been working on her website, Swenyar's Find. Congrats Jen, and good luck on another year :)

And I also put up a RSS feed today. It's manually maintainted for now, but we'll see how well it works. :)

< Dom >

Ah, Independence Port...

"In the shadow of giants"

Sunday - June 20, 2004

[Dom] - 23:00:00 - [link here]

So I'm typing this rant with one hand (no jokes until you finish the sentence, please) because with my left hand, I'm playing City of Heroes. I have 89 more minutes to rescue a group of mystics from the nefarious clutches of the Circle of Thorns, and I haven't a moment to lose--if I dillydally even a moment, they may not survive the night.

Yes, I'm that addicted to the game. I can barely pull myself away from the Alienware long enough to write.

I mean, I've been talking about CoH since around 2002 or so, so it's only natural that I've been playing it a lot recently. But I didn't realize that it'd be so... so GOOD.

I know MMORPGs are time sinks, but good lord! Final Fantasy XI didn't suck nearly this much of my time! Well, more on that later.

I mean, I intended to write about other games I'm playing. I mean, I picked up Sakura Taisen Monogatari at E3. I've had D->A: Black lying around since I got back from Japan. My Tarutaru Warrior awaits his promotion to Samurai status. Hell, I still haven't finished Shining Force 3 part 3 and it's been years. And in a development that I knew would happen two years ago, I'm too stuck on City of Heroes to play any of them.

Lots of other webcomic people have already spent a lot of time and effort talking about the game, so I'll content myself talking about why I dropped FFXI like a ton of bricks and lifted City of Heroes like a certain famous car from the '30s. It's a simple explanation, really, but it illustrates a lot.

See, a week or two before E3, I was running around the Tahrongi Canyon in Final Fantasy XI, trying to get to Jeuno, where it's recommended that I'm supposed to level up. I ran my stubby little legs over to Meriph[tab], and about a half hour later, was through. And then came the Sauro(tab). I asked the Shirt Ninjas, "Hey, can anyone help me through this zone? It's probably going to kill me."

No one helped, so I said "okay, I'll just log out for a while then."

A day later, City of Heroes came out.

Now, I want to point out that in the three or four weeks that I played Final Fantasy XI, I partied with my friends exactly five times. Twice with Paco-Paco, twice with Dingoko and once with Pdac. I was never able to group with other friends because they were off crafting, farming, or levelling jobs that were wildly higher than mine. Just keep this in mind.

So Gamestop messed up my pre-order because of a snafu regarding my CoH order, which meant that I didn't get to play during the three days of head start that pre-order people got. I joined my friends (on the Justice server, in case you're wondering) and realized that they were about 8 levels above me.

I, still in my Final Fantasy XI mode, said "ach, I guess I'll have to level up a lot before I can play with you guys".

They, who mostly didn't drudge through FFXI (notable exception: Kuro), said "Don't worry about it, just get to level 5. It'll take about 20 minutes."

So I got to level 5, told them (they were about level 12 by this time), and they said "come on by!".

So I ran to Steel Canyon, and saw the words "[character name] invites you to join forces as a sidekick." After clicking the yes button, I was greeted with the words "You are now fighting at level 11."

And so began our adventures, which I'm starting to chronicle at Villain Hunter, our supergroup's official website. Almost daily, I'm out playing with my friends, shooting the breeze on TeamSpeak, and kicking righteous ass. "Almost" daily because thankfully, most of us maintain healthy social lives outside of the game. We've done task forces together, we've gone on missions, and that handy little "sidekick" button is always there to pick up whoever's lagging behind in levels.

On May 16th, something similar to the following was said on the Shirt Ninjas linkshell and my diseased imagination:

Dom: "Hey guys, can anyone help me through Sauro(tab)?"
Shirt Ninjas: (crickets)
Dom: "anyone? I don't know the way and it already took me like a half hour to get through Meripha(tab)"
Dom: "Alright, would anyone at least tell me what mobs are aggressive here so I can avoid them?"
Shirt Ninjas: "Goblins and Yagudo, both aggro on sight. That's it."
monkey: "Okay, thanks..."
Final Fantasy XI: Sauromogue Couerl hits Dom for 68 points of damage
Final Fantasy XI: Sauromogue Couerl hits Dom for 50 points of damage
Final Fantasy XI: Sauromogue Couerl hits Dom for 62 points of damage
Final Fantasy XI: Sauromogue Couerl hits Dom for 70 points of damage
Final Fantasy XI: Sauromogue Couerl scores a critical hit! Dom takes 97 damage
Final Fantasy XI: Dom has fallen.
* Dom pushes up daisies
City of Heroes: Come back to me, sweetheart... in Paragon City, the time between point A and point B is mere minutes, and you can avoid aggro by superleaping out of trouble. And you can party with all of your friends by becoming their sidekicks.
Dom: I love you, City of Heroes.
Final Fantasy XI: Wait! I'm not done sodomizing you yet!
Dom: I have a new sugar daddy now. Goodbye.

That illustrates the main point: Things are FASTER in City of Heroes. Teleporters cover 100 yards in the blink of an eye, superleapers hop from rooftop to rooftop as they hum the theme to The Tick (dup dweeeee dup dup dup dweee dow), fliers fly, and super speeders run really fast. You get these powers at level 14 (or later, if you don't plan right). In Final Fantasy XI, you spend about 6 hours getting a Chocobo pass, and then you have a long-ass way to go before you can ride the airship. Time passes sooooo slowly in FFXI... you can ask the Shirt Ninjas, whenever I got bored I would start making off-color jokes on the linkshell.

Then again, whenever I was having fun I would make off-color jokes on the linkshell, so I guess that's a bad example.

So City of Heroes doesn't have crafting. It doesn't have a significant economy at the high end. But you know what? It doesn't require a white mage to every team, either. It doesn't nail you to the "Seek Team" button after level 12, because every archetype has a chance on its own, and meshes fairly well with another archetype. It doesn't penalize you levels when you die, and when you die you don't lose hours upon hours of work--you just lose some future XP to debt. Sure, blasters are overpowering in groups... but my Storm Summoning/Dark Blast Defender sure dies a lot less than seiya's Fire Blast/Fiery Melee blaster when soloing. In groups, our death numbers are about even, but that's a tale for another time.

Anyway, I'd like to finish this off by saying... the next update includes evil clowns and giant robots. I'm SO there.

PS: I finally got to Jeuno a few weeks ago. I then logged out and haven't gone back since, because my supergroup needed me to help stop the 5th Column's nefarious plot to build an army of super robots. And yes, I just wanted to say "nefarious" again.


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