Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Bogleech Pokemon: Samstink and Fouliath

Samstink
The Dogbreath Pokemon
Fighting/Poison
Samstink have breath so disgusting it takes on a physical shape. Samstink's breath-arms dissipate in rain.

 Ability: Poison Touch
Physical attacks have a small chance to poison
Ability: Stink Breath




Fouliath
The Strongman Pokemon
Fighting/Poison
Fouliath has breath so powerful it can knock down an entire building. Fouliath are obsessed with building the strength of their terrible breath, and can be seen eating anything that smells terrible.

Ability: Poison Touch
This is the same as the last one.


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Stop Motion Lego App

Lego has a stop motion app, and the last time I used it, it was very average. Minimal features for a stop-motion app. Onion skinning, variable framerates, and I think that was it. Then I had an idea: LEGO heads printed with multiple faces, for the sake of animation! Turns out they already do that. Wait, a better idea! Several LEGO heads, printed with several phonemes so you can make your brickfilms look like they're talking! That... seems like something only a hardcore brickfilmer would bother buying.

And then I got Snapchat, and I had a bunch of ideas all at once. See, Snapchat has something called Lenses. Basically, the app detects your face and then does something weird to it; one Lens will detect the "eye" area and then redraw the face so your eyes appear huge. Another app can swap your face for a face from a photo in your inventory, even going so far as to animate the mouth moving.

So, what if we applied this kind of technology to LEGO? First, you produce a quality stop-motion application. Forward and backwards adjustable onion skinning, variable framerate...

Then you introduce the Snapchat technology. You print a LEGO head with some detectable characteristic. Probably an array of simple machine-readable green-screen dots, which can be easily filled in while maintaining the light/shadow balance of your original film. Whatever it ends up being, we'll call it the d-face, for "detectable face". While you're filming, the app gives you that little square to let you know it's tracking the d-face. Then, once you've completed an animation with the d-face detection on, you can go into the FACE ANIMATION menu.

There would be a couple faces in this app. Basic simple face, face with painted red lips, cocky smirking face, skull face, etcetera. Each face has a gamut of emotions. In a launch, you'd probably want four emotions: happy, sad, angry, surprised. There are ways to automate transitioning between emotions, or even between faces. These faces would get overlaid on the d-face, snapping to them and rotating in space, much like some of the more complicated Lenses do in snapchat.

"But... couldn't that be accomplished with two heads printed with each face? Brickfilms are already natively inflexible, so the audience will grant the animator a bit of leeway with facial expressions. Why would I want this?"

Good question, surprisingly astute imaginary reader. Now, using that earlier Snapchat tech, while you're creating a face, you could record dialog with the front-facing camera active. Snapchat can detect a fair bit of mouth movement, which they would then translate into phonemic animations on your character, creating a smoother, more accurate speaking animation.

Final idea, pretty crazy town: wave-marking. In iMovie, you can pull the audio out of a video clip, which gives you the wave form for the audio. We'd use the same technology to give you a visual "mark" to deliver your animation to. Notate your audio so you can use a set number of frames to get to a particular sound. Helpful for animating to music!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Pokemon Go! Changes, From One Nerd to Another

Pokemon Go is an incredibly successful game. It's wildly successful and people who experience joy tell me it's a lot of fun. I... don't like it. That's just me! I don't think it's not fun, it just doesn't appeal to me. It feels too much like Ingress with Pokemon stickers on there. I know how video games work, now, and changes are definitely on the way, but while they're coming out, let me talk about the changes I would make to this game.

1) Rebranding Pokemon Candy
This game's economy is... messed up.  Unlike a traditional RPG, where Pokemon are leveled up through devotion and training, Pokemon are evolved and powered up through the use of two in-game resources: "stardust" and "candy". Candy is specific to a family of Pokemon--Pidgey candy can only be used on Pidgey, Pidgeotto and Pidgeot. This means that common Pokemon are easier to level than their rarer counterparts.

I don't like the  candy system because of that economy, and because the idea of Pokemon inexplicably carrying candy--smooth, striped spheres--bothers me. Berries make more sense within the Pokemon canon, since Pokemon are well-known to carry berries. It would also make slightly more economic sense to align these evolution-promoting berries to egg groups, which would make it easier for players to promote preferred Pokemon rather than common ones.

Stardust should also be changed. Stardust is better than other freemium resources (gems, coins, stars), but it still feels painfully generic, like it was thought up by a Mattel exec in 1986 to explain why the Carebears should be shipped with five ounces of glitter. There's gotta be a more interesting thing to use. Vitamins? Minerals? PROTEIN? Buff berries? Ooz grabblers? Weave mubblers?


2) Changing Up the Look
First of all, the aesthetics. Pokemon Go is basically Google Maps, but with a generic anime protagonist where the little blue guy normally is. If you pan around the map, you'll see hovering pins in the distance. Some of these pins end in little diamond shapes, others look like little hovering platforms with Pokemon on them. They don't look... they don't look great. I suggested using Pokemon gyms.
Okay, these little rectangular gyms from the Gen1 that this game pays tribute to are not particularly iconic. Later generations used more distinct architecture that might be more iconic, but one software developer pointed out that gyms might be too large to overlay easily onto the screen. Well, let's go with something smaller. The familiar statues from Gyms.


3) Changing Pokestops
Pokestops gotta change, too. I was thinking it'd be cool to replace the little pins with trainers. They give you a little rejoinder about themselves pulled from a list (I like shorts! They're comfy and cool!"), give you your item, and if you tap on them, it does what the Pokestop does and spins around to reveal the real world location. You don't control them.
Or, as an alternative, each Pokestop is a Pokemon obstacle. STRENGTH boulder, WHIRLPOOL whirlpool, CUT tree. You get your normal haul of items visiting the Pokestop, but you have a Pokemon that can use a particular move? SURF, and you get a bonus item. CUT, bonus item.

4) After you catch a new Pokemon, it shows you the Pokedex entry right away. I mean, you might start skipping over it eventually, but that just seems basic.

5) Pokemon Snap
Dude, you don't have combat, you have an AR camera. Gimme some Pokeball film and let me catch the Pokemon that way. Hit the film at the right time and KA-SNAP, you caught yourself a Pokemon. It fits the Pokemon Go mechanic more readily. This one is actually a pretty cool idea. Because I'm so handsome and smart.

Seriously, though, wouldn't this make more sense?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Ragtriever and Saniterrier

Inspired by Bogleech's 151 Poison Pokemon, I created a pair of Poison/Normal Pokemon.That is a heck of a weird combo! Poison's resistance to fighting types negates the normal type's vulnerability to an elemental weakness that many Pokemon have access to, and his normal typing renders him immune to ghost-type moves. Which doesn't really help a whole bunch, but it's really interesting, I guess! Anyway, look at how cute he is!
 Ragtriever
The Ragdog
Pure Normal
Ragterrier, the ragdog Pokemon, starts out with Tackle and Sand Attack. His special attack, Dust, does extra damage if it's used after any ground-type moves and has a reduced priority as a result.

RAGTRIEVER use their handkerchief-like bodies to sweep up dust. Huge herds of RAGTRIEVER are believed to have congregated to cause dust storms.
Saniterrier
The Bleach Pokemon
Poison/Normal
Ragtriever evolves to Saniterrier at level 36, where it gains a Poison typing and starts learning poison moves like Poison Gas and Sanitize. Sanitize clears status effects from Saniterrier and all allied Pokemon..

SANITERRIER glides around on a layer of toxic bleach saliva. These Pokemon are often employed to clean restaurants and Pokemon centers.
Hepateon
Poison 
My friend asked what would happen to an eevee if it was exposed to a kidney stone, and well, I had an answer allllll ready. This is her joke, but I figured hey, I'm already drawing Pokemon today, what's one more?

Hepateon's special power is "Renal Failure", which means that Hepateon is automatically poisoned at the beginning of each turn.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Curry Recipe Mk. II

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts
1 bell pepper (diced)
2 yellow onions (diced)
1 can coconut milk
2-3 habaneros (diced)
1 cup rice
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon red curry paste

turmeric
garlic salt

Shake can of coconut milk. Open can, and mix together until interior is uniformly liquid.

Put 1/2 can coconut milk in pan on high, mixed with oil and curry paste. Cook until oil separates from coconut milk. Add in diced chicken slices. Cook until chicken is mostly done, then add in diced veggies.  Allow to cook until chicken is complete. Reduce heat, and add in remainder of coconut milk. Lightly dust with turmeric and cinnamon.

In separate pot, boil rice (1 cup rice + 2 cups water + dash of oil) until rice has absorbed most of the water.

Mix curry and rice together in slow cooker on low heat.

An excellent potluck meal!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

"I Am From" Poem

I am from the sound of traffic
in the distance, filtered by a mile of pine
I am from snot-yellow pollen, swelling my eyes and nose
I am from the stacks--books, not pancakes
From paper that's seen a century turn
and paper so new it'll make your nose burn
I am from the Hebrew: "son of the right hand"
And the German: in a certain light, you might call it a papermaker
I am from days with two sunrises.
From Lake Lachrymose, the Indigo Plateau, and from a network of secret tunnels a dozen universes wide.
I am from a brick wall and a spotlight.
An unexpected guest on the other side of an unopened door
A chicken at a crosswalk.
Knock Knock: I am from the Answer

Monday, December 28, 2015

Openers and Closers

Twenty two years ago, Roger Zelazney wrote his final book, called A Night In the Lonesome October. The book casts some of the West's most classic monsters as players in a cosmic Game to either open to door for the Elder Gods to pave over our world and construct a new one, or to shut the door and keep the world like it is.

The Game takes place over the month of October, with the players arriving and spending the month getting ready for the ritual at the end of the month. This includes gathering items of power, performing ritual sacrifices, collecting herbs, and of course surreptitiously sabotaging one another. Membership in the two sides--the Openers and the Closers--is kept secret for much of the month. Players find that knowing who the others are inspires sabotage, whereas anonymity breeds cooperation.

Players construct a home base where they perform their ministrations. The book's hero, Snuff, together with his master, Jack, collect monsters to serve as body guards during the final rituals in the game, gather body parts from the cemetery and weirdly specific items from town (a scrap of a green dress stolen from a woman with red hair). These home bases also figure into a complex piece of calculus for the location of the Game's ritual, at the center of which an altar must be placed.

This sounds like a really interesting video game! A team game where, for much of the match, you don't really know who your teammates are. Perhaps each player selects the side they're on. Then they're given tasks and strengths and weaknesses. Your character can't do every task on their own, so you have to collaborate, but someone who can help you out might work for the opposite faction, so you have to keep it secret. 
So I envision a game going like this. You're given a side: openers or closers, and a series of tasks. You awaken on a map, and must select your home base, and set about defending it while completing your tasks. You investigate your neighbors to determine whether or not they're allies, if they can help you with your task or not. You might build trust with people, trading information on third parties. Or you might just try to poison everybody and take all the glory for yourself.

I picture a game that is full of secret monsters, spells and traps. A combination of a Lovecraft fantasy story, Assassin's Creed multiplayer mode, and a team based objective game.