Friday, May 20, 2005

Legends

You'd think that the most important week for the video game industry would be reason enough for me to blog, especially regarding how excited I've been about the whole event. You'd think that I could get off of my lazy ass and write something about the topic that I follow fairly closely. You'd think a lot of things if you didn't know me, so what does it matter. I should write something, but then again, there are thousands of articles out there on the Electronic Entertainment Exposition (E3), particularly of the war that the 3 main console companies are waging. If you really want to know, do a Google news search for E3 and do about a minute of reading. You'll catch up on all the hubbub fairly quickly. The concise summary essentially says that Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo are at each others' throats again, vying for another bout at domination of the console market. The new Xbox360 (Xbox2), Playstation 3, and Revolution are setting up their artillery and flying in the troops to do battle over the next 18 months, when they are all expected to be released.

From what's been documented so far, it seems that Sony and Microsoft are the real competitors in the race for console gaming market superiority. Both are beefing up their machines to draw more power, fuel more fire and hopefully knock the other out of the contest. It is akin to the frightening arms race that plagued the era of the cold war, except we as the bystanders in the race are excited, and will actually benefit from their competition, not suffer. The gist of it is that Microsoft has put 3 PowerPC processors into one box, effectively drawing enough power and creating enough heat to sustain a fusion reaction (or so my theory goes), and thinks it's going to muscle out the Playstation, which decided to redefine computer architecture with its unique Cell processor, which is something like 4 times more powerful than the most powerful of current personal computers. So Microsoft has put 3 computers into one moderately sized box, and Sony has created a kind of micro-supercomputer. Impressive. Where does Nintendo fit into all of this? Well they claim they're not taking the path of relying on pure power to fuel their firepower in the war. They claim to be playing strategically, though with what they have not revealed yet.

Personally I'm an enormous fan of Nintendo. I've stood by them during some of their more questionable decisions, but not disappointingly, since they always manage to produce the most top-notch and entertaining games in my opinion. Their contribution to the next generation of gaming is the Nintendo Revolution. It's a system that is only - only being used relatively - going to be an order of two to three times as powerful as their current Gamecube. This seems to pale in comparison to the promises of both Microsoft and Sony, but Nintendo is promising us that this system will truly be revolutional in changing the way we look at video games. Its juicy little secret will be the undoing of Sony and Microsoft... apparently. Talk is cheap, and Nintendo isn't even doing much of that which angers those of us who follow because we're being bombarded with hype about the other two systems. We want Nintendo to be more competetive; their showing at E3 was uninspiring, to say the least, compared to the others. Both Sony and Microsoft created buzzes surrounding their consoles by releasing videos and images of absolutely stunning graphics within a few of their new games. If they are not lying (which they easily could be, hell, they have before) then the systems of tomorrow will look like the pre-rendered cinematics of today. We will be playing games with graphics akin to Final Fantasy: Spirits Within

This prospect is salivating for those of us gaming nuts. Nintendo has a lot of pressure on them to produce this revolutionary console, else risk losing the faith of their already dwindling fan base.

I know they can do it.

Thus, I have drawn a picture of one of their flagship characters to cheer them on!


It's Link, from the upcoming game The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. I'm always thrilled to know there's another installment of Zelda coming along, so insert some random fanboi drivel about 1337ness and uberness in here. It does look outstanding, like all of the past games, and it's a title I cherish from my days as a lad, so I figured I'd sketch up our green-clad hero.

It's a pretty quick little drawing, with some detail missing; I wasn't up to polishing one today. It's not bad though. The face has a sort of worried/angry look on it, which is a pretty common reaction for Link in the games. His costume has become more detailed in the design for the next game, and I threw most of it on there. In the past he's been pretty much wearing a pretty plain cloth tunic, leggings, boots and gloves - and the always attractive hat - but in this game he's looking a bit more grown up. The clothing isn't so plain, it has visible stitching and patterns to it. The boots look like they're made from embossed leather and he's got a layer of chain mail underneath his tunic, so he's ready for his next adventure, clearly. If I knew how to draw a sword convincingly from the side he'd be holding it the right way (showing the narrow edge of the blade, not the broad), but I don't so he's not. I think I got the perspective on his hand right this time, but his bent leg is not very convincing. Damn you perspective! Overall it could use some work, but I like it, and that's all that matters to me.

"Damn you ice cream! Come to my mouth! How dare you disobey me? What are you looking at, you infantile... stupid. That's right, damn you... and such........... zzzzzzzzz" - Fat Stewie, Family Guy

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

News you won't find on CNN indeed

Galloway takes on US oil accusers.

This man perfectly sums up my feelings about the not-at-all-yet-still-proclaimed recent oil-for-food drama... and then some. I could only hope to have the character this man has in his pinky finger for defending himself against such wild allegations. It's an absolute atrocity what's going on. I can't comment on it any further, it speaks absolutely for itself. I urge you to read. This was found on MBLOG, which I also urge you, with all the emphasis that I can, to read.

I don't post politically on here because, frankly, it's rude to do for anyone coming just to see me draw. After reading this, though, I can't resist it. If you are the kind of person who is so strongly opposed to this, what I would call truth, then you won't get past the first paragraph anyways without spitting on the ground and closing the page - and your mind. It is this kind of opinion that is never, ever given the time of day on mainstream public television. I want it to be out there.

"Absolute power corrupts absolutely." - Lord Acton, British Historian

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Drawing 05/14/05

Yes, this isn't posted on the right day. I did this yesterday and just... never got around to it I guess. Lazy weekends tend to make me forgetful.



IT's a drawing of another WoW character, this one drawn by request for a friend in-game. He's an orcish warlock named Niamh, and that's his naughty little Succubus minion. Yes, she has a whip. Yes, she uses it in the game. Don't think I'm any more naughty than the good developers at Blizzard entertainment, I'm just a reproductionist. ;). Overall it's quite good. The detail in it was put in kind of quickly, it woudl benefit from a few more hours work. Actually what I should have done was forgo the shading and focus on details, but alas, I chose one over the other. Shading takes so damned long with a 0.3mm pencil, as I've mentioned before. The robe is, inadvertantly, very much similar to the last drawing... I took this directly from a screenshot in-game, so its design wasn't decided by me.

"I come from land of Orcs, we eat with spoons and forks, we love to eat our pork." - Orcish folk song, anonymous

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Sound and Sushi

Just re-reading some posts from a while back and I noticed that I said I'd blog about the speakers and japanese food I had, yet never did. I do this frequently; when I've done an entry without a drawing and then update a picture later on, I don't write any more. If the drawing gets finished (I use the term finished loosely) and uploaded and posted, I'm already so sick of the whole procedure all I do is scribble down some quick thoughts of it and publish. There isn't much patience left to do additional content.

/self-bashing intro over

So yeah. I had a pretty great set of speakers a while back, I got them for my 19th birthday, or so I recall and they lasted me about a year and a half. They sounded great, and were a good set for me since I had to move around a lot; the 2.1 setup (that is 2 speakers and 1 woofer) was just light and compact, yet substantial for sound. Quality was right there, crisp sound through high and low ranges. Too much bass did make the woofer vibrate unduly, but I'm pretty sure that was a problem with footing, not speaker quality. So, yeah, they were good... except for this connection that they had. Imagine, if you will, a very large version of the ps2 socket: ps2 being the common modern mouse/keyboard inputs - round, I think 6 pins in a circular orientation. This connection is rather flimsy. Rather really flimsy. I hate the connection. I've had the entire thing rip completely apart on several occasions with mouse/keyboard tripping accident, and it's a pain because this cheap ass connection - which is a bitch to orient when pluggin in, sticks out a mile from the computer, always gets in the way and generally is a pain - ruins the entire unit.

Well that's what happened with the speakers. The ps2 style connection channeled power from the woofer to the speakers, and sound information from the speakers to the woofer. A horrible logistical setup of cables, if I do say so myself. So the connection became flimsy and I noticed I was losing signal to the left speaker. Wonderful. The problem seemed to be solved if you added pressure to the connection in the right direction. Over time the problem persisted and got worse, requiring ever increasing force to be applied. Eventually there was a really taut elastic band holding it at like 30 degrees to it's natural angle, and the sound was still getting lost. So I go back to apply more pressure and the connection shears right off. It wouldn't be so bad if it was just used to get the sound information from the speakers which connected to the PC - I can live without a woofer - but it supplied power TO the speakers as well, so the entire good quality system was shot because of this cheap-assed connection.

I really resented Creative for that. It was either an evil money making strategy or a very poor design decision, and either way I was pissed. I tried to do a home-made wire repair, but the task was beyond me. I looked around for professional services that do this, but nobody deals with this kind of connector to be able to repair. I went as far as calling the company and they said it was covered by warranty... my 1 year warranty which had just expired. Fan-freaking-tastic. Well I gave up on it, since it would probably cost me more than I wanted to spend, and I had an old pair of speakers I could use as back up. Ironically, the old $10 speakers didn't sound half-bad, which is probably because of my amazing SoundBlaster Audigy2 Platinum ZS sound card. Beautiful unit it is.

This was all about a year ago. So last week(ish) I was out with a friend just going to TigerDirect in Markham because she wanted a new hard drive. She got a really good deal by the way, I think they were limited quantity reduced half price... something like 80GB for $40. Anyway, while browsing the store I was looking for this set of speakers I'd had my eye on for a while, something to finally replace and upgrade from the last ones. There was never really the opportunity to buy them: eBay had them for cheap, yeah, if I want to pay $50 shipping charges... same with online stores like ncix. Couldn't find them at my trusty FactoryDirect, which always has the cheapest prices, but limited selection. I don't hold it against them, they're still great =P. When I didn't see them around the store I just thought "oh well, missed them again." and we went to check out. Well what do I see in a big stack at the checkout? The Logitech Z-5300e! And lower than what I found them online! And new! Most.Expensive.Impulse.Buy.Ever! Oh wait, no, my Minidisc player in NY was the most... well still, it was funny because it was decided waiting int he checkout line at the counter, like you'd do with a packet of gum or something.

They're a 5.1 setup, nice upgrade from last time with 2 front, 2 rear, 1 center speakers, and 1 subwoofer. The sound quality is huge. I never listen to stuff that loud to begin with, but these bad-boys can get LizzOUD! (Loud, for those who don't know the ~izz~ rules) The surround sound is pretty killer. I love how much more it adds to music and playing Warcraft. There's a very useful controller that easily powers on/off, controls volume, bass, fade and... uhh... one other thing I don't exactly recall. The connectors are all separate, so if one fails I'm pretty sure it can be replaced with minimal cost expenditures. The whole thing is solid as a rock though, so I'm sure everything will be fine. It cost just under $200 after taxes, and I already feel they're worth it; it's a pleasure simply to listen to them. The only drawback I can see is that they're huge in the box, and it means another sizeable addition to my already bulky tri-annual move. Whatever.

Oh, and later that day I had the best japanese food I've ever eaten. Ironically, I found it in my home town of Woodbridge, which I always accuse of being devoid of culture and quality entertainment. I hope it does well, I wouldn't want the stubborn and ignorant masses of this town to force it to go out of business. It was also surprising because I assumed the restaurant to be from the 'Taste of Japan' franchise, which you can find bastardizing the food in many mall food courts across Ontario (Waterloo to Ottawa, and many places in between I know of first hand). I honestly didn't expect it to be such a class act in terms of their facility and food. It has a live hot-table eatery, a sushi bar, and of course just the regular sit-down. I'll have to go for the hot-table sometime, as it was a lot of fun when I went to Benihana's.

So what was so good about Kinda: A Taste of Japan, you ask? Well, for starters it had a very elegant ambiance. The entrance with full plate glass doors, the clean and open sushi-bar with fresh fish, the picture-laden book-style menus, the service, the facilities... I could go on. The most notable thing about the experience though was the food. The first thing I noticed was how quickly it was prepared and served. There were generous portions to the meal(especially since we over-ordered, heh). It isn't often I literally cannot finish what is put in front of me, but this was the case. It was so good, though, that you wanted to keep eating, despite that sickly feeling of girth. Particularly good was their sushi and tempura. The tempura was so amazingly crispy and flaky, I had never seen it cooked to such perfection before. The sushi was by far the most surprising though. Normally, while I do enjoy it, it tends to leave a rather strong and notable aftertaste, and the texture of it can be somewhat rubbery. Not this. This was like... like butter.
Forgive the SNL reference for a moment and just literally think of butter (though it was like buttah, lol). Soft and smooth and refreshing, it had the genuine taste of salmon, and yet left a fresh and inconspicuous aftertaste. Brilliant! I'll definitely have to go there again. It was quite the experience in delectability.

That was a very good day. This is not. I feel trapped at work because of these long hours. I'm sure I'll get accustomed to it, but right now it's still rough on the system. Oh, and no drawing tonight. Sorry, last night it took far longer than I wanted it to, and once again I did not get done half of what I had wanted.

"I like the sushi cuz it never touch the frying pan" - Barenaked Ladies, One Week

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Drawing 05/10/05

As promised:



I like it. I'm not crazy about the face, it should look more determined. His expression including the mouth shape, brow furrow and nose angle should express a much more upset and straining reaction. The clothing design is what I like about it, mainly. I should have spent more time polisihing it. The lightsaber is a bit lacking, and I'm not sure I'd leave him with sandals... though it goes with the monk-like qualitites of the jedi... still, it was an impulsive design decision. The gloves also have to go. /sigh. I can see it's good overall, but I'm still always really critical of it all.

Plus another Yoda quotation hehe.

"Remember, a Jedi's strength flows from the Force." Yoda - Star Wars:Return of the Jedi

All things of Stellar Conflicts

With the countdown to the release of the Third (or Sixth depending if you're into sequence or chronology) and final installation of the Star Wars legacy, I'm a little pumped... to say the least. I might not be if I wasn't at work these days and didn't have time to simply peruse the internet for things to read. I might not be, had I not found this. It intrigues me a great deal to read of this kind of fan-fiction, where holes in characters are filled in by emotional and off-persona script. To those who don't understand it at first glance, it's essentially a mock blog, written to sound like it's a diary by Darth Vader himself; entries include Vader's pondering of his fate in the galaxy, the complex relationship between he and his 'master', his tragic fall to the dark side, musings of the intricacies of the force, and so on. What surprises me even more is that the writer manages to squeeze in some (albeit dark) humour every now and then, and still stays in character. It's most definitely not something George Lucas would have put together to celebrate Star Wars in a different way, but it is for that reason that it is so refreshingly unique. No melodrama, no emphatic score, no CGI sequences, just raw emotion through introspection.

Read it. I can almost guarantee you a good time if you've even seen a Star Wars movie and know what 'trachea' means. His descriptions of strangling people with his mind is... well, just read it, I hope you see it as I do. This blog is the kind of thing I would never think of when I think of blogging... taking somebody else's point of view, playing a different role. It's not something I think I'm up to trying, but it certainly is inspiring.

There's also been chit-chat on the Gamedev forums about Star Wars mythology as well, which I think is where I found the link. Suffice to say, episode III has all of us uber-nerds aflutter, anxious in anticipation about the ending of an era. What malevolent plot twists are left for the sith to unfurl? What will be the ultimate fate that the noble jedi must face? How utterly mad does Anakin end up going? We know how it ends (since we know how it begins, ponder that), but how does it get there? I can't wait to find out. May 19th, counting the days.

Due to this, I believe tonight's drawing (I am intending to do one) shall be something related... most likely a Jedi. Not Vader, though, he requires too much shading... damn dark outfit. Probably just some creature with a lightsaber, that's all, as it is difficult to capture the exact essence of a Jedi on paper... or something =P

"Ready are you? What know you of ready?" - Yoda, Star Wars:The Empire Strikes Back"

P.S. There will be a number of Yoda quotations to come. So quotable is he.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Drawing 05/06/05

I forgot to wish you all a happy international Luke Skywalker day. Let me do that now:
May the fourth be with you.

*gets slapped for horrible, horrible joke

But seriously... I don't know how George Lucas could have passed up an opportunity to release the movie on such a date. Only happens once a year, it would have been pretty appropriate. The date markets itself! If I was him I would have done that. Then again I wouldn't have ever concieved of a creature as asanine as Jar Jar Binks either, so I suppose George and my differences are many. A few million (billion?) dollars separate us as well...

The new movie has me really excited. Looks to have many epic battles with jedi and sith out in full force, lightsabers ablazing, ready to wrap everything up. We pretty much know how the movie is going to end, so it will be interesting to see what else goes on to wrap up the story. I like Star Wars, I don't care what anyone else thinks.

Now onto what you actually give a damn about: today's drawing!


Another World of Warcraft character, this one is a human female (duh) paladin. The drawing itself is technically sound, but there are a lot of small things that I don't much like about this picture.
a) Paladins are supposed to be holy knights... I don't believe I captured that essence. There's nothing UNholy about it or anything, it just doesn't speak to me.
b) There is not enough interesting detail on the armor
c) Her legs are unfinished, like so many of my drawings
d) Her expression and stance reminds me of the last drawing... scroll down to compare. Am I getting creatively stagnant?
e) The head of the mallet is crooked.
Other than that I guess I'll just stop bitching and accept that I like it. I like the shoulderpads, her forehead pendant, and gloves most of all... and if the mallet weren't crooked I'd like it as well.

"No! Do, or do not... there is no try" - Yoda, Star Wars:The Empire Strikes Back

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Drawing 05/04/2005

I don't know why this took me so long... It's not even finished. *sigh* and now it's late and I have to sleep and I didn't do half of the things I wanted to today. 9 hour work days are a bitch. At least fridays will be nice, 8am-12noon =D. Glad I swung that deal.

Anyway, as promised here is the drawing.


I really like where it's going, though I don't like the fact that it didn't get there. And since it's up here and I'm satisfied I doubt it ever will. The main reason I like the drawing is for the face. He has a very nasty smirk on, and his face is androgynously dark. I would like to use this kind of a character in the game project or even outside of it as a model for a villain of some kind, because of the personality I feel exudes from it. The facial tattoos are a bit extravogant and distracting, but it's quite coherent with the rest of the design and I'm glad they're there. In a finished picture they would not be as contrasting a colour as black on white, but hey, what do you want with a pencil drawing?

The armor is also quite interesting. I didn't know what style I was following the whole time, but it seemed to work out. The "mushroom caps", as they have been described, around his shoulders are meant to be energy fields, generated by the armor, but I didn't spend any time on them. I was focusin on the decals of the armor, which I actually gave a bit of thought to. The theme is a 'swiss cheese' effect now that I look back on it, with solid stripes and holes, but I'm not letting the lactic simile get the better of me, I still think it looks good.

I do regret that his arm and legs are incomplete, but the idea of the character is all put forth; going any further into the design would be an exercise in futility, or anal retentive nitpicking... or so I'm going to tell myself =P.

I'm thinking with the long hours I won't even pretend to try for a once a day picture post. It saddens me to think I've failed my resolution, but it was a pipe dream that drained long ago. I promise one WoW drawing a week, one other decent one, and maybe one or two sketches. Here's to promises, whatever they're worth. Here's to irrelevant quotations as well.
Cheers!

"As we stoned the bird
We stood there for a long time hoping it would rise,
Waiting for it to fly again.
One by one we all turned away,
Off to kill the grass where the others came to play
Bye bye bluebird, bye bye my bluebird."
- Matthew Good Band, Blue Bird

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

DON'T EAT IT!!!!

Hilarity ensues.

Sorry about the lies yesterday, I can only imagine the absolute fury it instilled in all of you. Well, bite me, I was out. Got home at 5:30 and then promptly left to go buy some awsome speakers (I'll blog about them tonight, gotta stop swearing on it though) and have some amazing japanese food... best I've ever had, and I've eaten around ;). Teryaki sauce was a bit... Okay dammit work is over and I'm heading home. I'll blog there. Plus a picture.

"Don't'cha put it in your mouth" - Random dental hygene educational video characters.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Blog from work

Why not, eh? First day at work today for the wonderful, marvelous IKO industries.

*crickets*

Yeah, that's what I thought. Aside from working at the airport for the GTAA, the general reaction of people to hearing the name of my employers has been a resounding and emphatic "huh?". I don't know how I keep picking these obscure, and yet worldwide companies. My guess is that this is simply the job of most engineers, doing something that would only seem important to those in the industry. What about the glory? What about the fame? This is important work we're doing, is it just that nobody understands?

*sigh*

At some point I'll rant a little about the reasons why I'm not too thrilled about the current path I'm taking in school, and what it could mean for a future career. Not today though.

It is a nice change of pace to be in a work environment as opposed to school. There is almost a complete lack of pressure, particularly at this job which already seems very laid back. I'm working with another co-op student for the first time since the airport job, and it's nice to have somebody to talk to. Maybe it will keep me from browsing the forums too much... oh wait, IKO industries already blocks me from them! Way to go internet security! I'm convinced that trying to stop people from wasting time only forces them to waste MORE time to think up more creative ways to get around the same time-wasting preventative measures. I can definitely see blogging once a day (or more) to pass time here, since Blogger isn't blocked; hooray!

I'll save a description of the job for another day as well, since
a) I should spread out my procrastination time
b) I still am not quite sure what I'm doing
c) It's only the first day and it's a bit busy getting accustomed to my job
d) I should maybe do some actual work ;)

Drawing tonight like I said.

"Work is for suckers."
"I'm proud of you, boy, I was twice your age before I figured that out!"
- Bart and Homer Simpson, The Simpsons

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Blog Template

It seems my blog has been acting a little strange for some people. If there ever was a large space before the first post, it should be fixed now and I'll take care not to have that happen again. I first noticed the problem with Internet Explorer, but chose to ignore it because I simply feel no sorrow for anyone still using IE. You have more problems than simply not being able to see my blog if you're still using that broken-assed piece of software. Do us all a favour and upgrade to Firefox. It's tabbed browsing, improved customizability and more secure architecture makes browsing the net a much more pleasurable experience than the old pop-up ridden, slow and resource heavy IE. If I could remove it from my system I would, but it's built into the Windows system, I'll just have to ignore it.

Anyways the problem was with the 'img' tag apparently, where I was using width and height parameters as 100%, which I assume was spilling the image slightly over the edge of the table, forcing it to not be justified with the other. I changed it to 90% and it seems to have done the trick. So from now on they'll be 90% width instead; wahoo.

Blah, blah, blah. I'd like to be able to post a picture tonight but it's late and I'm tired. The picture is getting close to finished, but it's not worth scanning just to have to touch it up again. I like the drawing so far, but I've put in a bunch of detail into a small area, so if the rest of the pic doesn't follow suit it won't look coherent.... or something. Long story short: picture tomorrow.

"I got a nasty papercut and well to make a long story short it got infected and I died" - Weird Al, Everything You Know is Wrong