Thursday, March 28, 2013

MS Paint Memories

I'm currently in the process of cleaning my apartment, and while I was doing so I found some old flash drives. Since I tend to use them once then lose them in drawers or backpacks or high-speed pursuits, these cute little pieces of technology tend to be time capsules for whatever catastrophic computer meltdown I was having at the time.

So I found the one I was using just as my old tablet PC was dying back in 08, and included on it are these little gems (click it to enlarge or check it out here); artwork I did with my tablet and MS Paint, because owning a tablet PC should never stop you from killing your own ambition with miserly ineptitude.

This one is delightfully psychotic; a meme from DeviantART that encouraged you to use ten original characters to fill out the scenarios they provide. Now, did I have ten original characters? Only in a very broad definition of the word "character". And "original".

1) Dan, the janitor. Briefly a character for a comic I was working on based on my own experiences as a summer janitor.

2) The Mimeclops: A chainsmoking creature meant to be a parody of Pablo Picasso's habit of inserting himself into paintings as a mime, back from when I confused allusions with wit.  As a character he was meant to be part of a surrealist comic somewhere between Evan Dahm's Rice Boy and the works of George Herriman.

3) Forgot who this guy is. Looks like a tough guy, though.

4) Julius, scrapyard mechanic. The star of my first-ever comic book, he has a big wrench and he likes to break machines into their constituent pieces. God, that original comic was horrible, you can see where I cracked under the deadline.

5) Augustine, Julius' female counterpart. She had a bit part in the original comic but there was an expanded universe where she was important. Yes, there were originally going to be twelve characters, each named for a month and each representative of a district in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. It was like the Hunger Games, only without the strong premise or thousands of pages of actually finished writing.

6) The Brass Man. My shameless knockoff of black mages and yukes from Final Fantasy. I resurrect these guys from time to time.

7) James (or... some other name, who can remember): Dan's roommate and best friend. Loosely based on a buddy of mine from high school.

8) Um, the Library God. His masks are an ibis and a cat, representing the two sides of intelligence: knowledge and curiosity. Or something. I think there might have been a Cat in the Hat reference in there? And Alice in Wonderland. I liked the idea of a character who had absolute control over a realm of books

9) The Skeleton. I'm sure he had a name at one point, but I can't remember it. Way back when The Story wasn't even The Story yet, The Skeleton was a character. I had no idea what the story was about, but I knew for sure that I wanted him to be able to move through fresh dirt to access secret places. I tend to have ideas upside-down.

10) The Anubian. I drew these guys a lot back in college, under the influence of Akira Toriyama's character art in Blue Dragon . Weird, naked dog-headed monsters; villainous monster. As I got further from pure fantasy as a genre I lost interest in drawing him. In retrospect, these guys are a lot like Tolkien's orcs. Apparently biological but not really, they exist purely to serve some sort of evil power.

  A drawing of the Kark and Celie from the mesozoic era. I don't know what they're wearing. I think it's pajamas with a leather belt on him and some sort of aquafresh labcoat on her.

Chromeon: a metallic evolution of Eevee I designed with a friend while we were hanging out at the game store back home. Look at those sweet highlights and reflections! Undertones? Reflections? I don't even know what those are.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Cataloger

The Cataloger, a woman of exacting specifications. She likes measuring things, and classifying things, and fixing bindings... of things. Check out that magical filing cabinet. It's a magical filing cabinet. It's full of stuff!

She was originally an archivist but I got a bit carried away and the design kind of got everywhere. She's got yarn! She's got filing cabinets! She's got one of those flexible rulers that seamstresses have! And the pincushion.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Rain Slick Precipice Flavor Dialog

I'm still on my Rain Slick Precipice kick, and I had a thought while I was driving today, and I had a kind of interesting thought about tailoring the game's dialog to the player choices. This is by no means an original idea, but I had it specifically for OTSRPoD 3, so there.

Team Fortress 2 and all Valve games have something called "response rules"; when the rule is met, the game calls a piece of dialog related to the rule. It's a way of deepening immersion by making AI (or other player characters) seem intelligent and react to both their circumstances and various unique player interactions.   In TF2 specifically, you can change your character's response rules by equipping different weapons; when your Demoman uses his default bottle to kill somebody, he'll use a line that references drinking (Ay, me bottle o' scrumpy!), but when you equip a sword, he'll use a line that references the sword (or makes Highlander jokes). TF2 has a ton of response rules: characters may make comments when taking or dealing damage to particular classes, when using particular weapons, or when they are near enemies while specific events are happening.

This, combined with some free time to think while I was driving, gave me an idea for "flavored dialog". The idea here is that while writing some pieces of dialog, room be left for distinct player-driven circumstances. This may include weapon choices, accessory choices, and class combos.

For example, perhaps Tycho is  saying "I'm going to murder you." This dialog could possibly be punched up by having him reference the class he's using, so he might say "I'm going to transform into a terrifying dinosaur and murder you." With the Gardnar pin, he it could be "Come over here, I have a trowel I wanna show you. Just for, like, a second."

Now, the main reason I bring this up is because of something that happened in the first two Penny Arcade games: characters would often explicitly reference the combat they participated in and the game was functionally aware that Gabe, Tycho and the player were essentially murderers. This was intriguing, because it touched on a duality in many video games: combat is often seen as an abstract mechanism, rather than a functional portion of the story. Pokemon was like this: you might force your sentient cloud of toxic gas to poison a preschooler's pet dog, then order your half-ton narcoleptic bear-thing to beat it into unconsciousness--and afterwards, this five-year-old would ask for your phone number so she could call you to do it again later. I liked the idea that combat was treated as a continuous part of the story, and the horrifying violence was often lampshaded in the game's dialog.

So the incongruity of the combat system is a ripe process for this kind of joke, and it bridges the divide between the abstract of combat and the stract of the story. Don't do it too often, of course, but bring that shit up sometimes.

Monday, March 11, 2013


The Hobo is a drunken, homeless lout. He's got a rat! Several rats, in fact. And holy shit, clown makeup. This guy has clown makeup in his pocket and absolutely nobody has any idea why. Incredibly strong in spite of his slight size and inflicted with the horrible disease of hoboism, he's the guy you bring to a fight if you want your enemies to suffer painfully over aggregate rounds.

Just a heads up, don't bring him anyplace else. Seriously, he smells just awful, and also his coat just chock full of rodents.

Learn more about the Hobo and PA Adventures here.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

OTRSPoD Knitters

The Knitters
The Knitters are benevolent spiders, mending wounds with strands of pearlescent silk. Look at them! They're so adorable, it's easy to forget that they're goddamn spiders who do their work by crawling all over your skin, excreting protein strands into your skin.

I've decided to do some drawings of various items and classes from Penny Arcade to assuage my frustration that there wasn't more art in the game. We'll see how it goes. Learn more about the Knitters and PA Adventures here.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Anecdote I'm Sure You'll Find Hilarious

I decided to finally go through and finish the DLC for Penny Arcade's On The Rain Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode 3. I had originally started playing it on my old PC, but when the caught fire again I decided it was time to retire the ol' gal and it took a while before I could work up the courage to try OTRSPoD: The Beginning of the End. I'm kidding, it's really more the idea of using my laptop to play video games is a horrifying thought because it precludes the option to use my computer to surf for none of your business. 

So I boot up OTRSPoD 3 on my computer, and sure enough, the DLC is available right from the menu. No need to play through the campaign and it doesn't require any save information from previous play-throughs to run a competitive character. Feeling cocky, I snap it into "insane" mode, and start playing.

I immediately lose the first fight. In fact, during the whole trek through the initial play area, I only win two of the eight-ish fights on the first try, and in several of the battles, I die before Tycho can even take his second turn. I'm sure a hardcore RPG player or an unemployed person could figure out how to win these battles on "insane" but after four losses on what should clearly be an easy battle I give up and turn the challenge back down to veteran. These fights still require something of a correct order to win, but it's not so punishing that the wrong move screws your entire fight and forces you to sit helplessly at one HP while four enemies buff themselves to deliver a truly punishing onslaught to your tenderized hindquarters.

Finally, I've gotten to a place where I can consistently win battles, and Tycho learns a new spell: Overkill. The spell description claims it "Uses all your remaining MP to cast a powerful Darkness spell." Alright, I think, I have four MP, let's cast this spell. I cast in, and my screen goes black. Hey, that's pretty clever. It's a darkness spell so potent it even shuts off the game's GUI! And it turns off the music. That's pretty funny, but it's been like ten seconds. Alright, a minute. How long is this attack animation? Why can't I access the menus or even ESC out?

Oh. My battery died.