Friday, July 17, 2009

The new site is up!

Fair, readers,

The new site is up, in its rough form, ready for your consumption. Please visit at

Monday, July 13, 2009

Another successful zoo trip.

I love going to the zoo. I love the animals. I love the photo opportunities. I love watching the people watching the animals.

On Saturday, Brian and I took a trip up to York Wild Animal Kingdom in York, Maine. Neither of us had ever been up there before. Aside from a little parking snag, it was pretty great. They have a big amusement park as well as the zoo.

Now, let's face it. These are animals. There is always the chance that perhaps some animal or other may be engaged in... ahem, delicate activities. Of course, there are animals that you would be more likely to expect this sort of behavior from. I think anything from the ape family is highly suspect. Monkeys too. The big cats maybe.

But no!
For the first time, Brian and I saw animals engaged in such activities while at the zoo. And it wasn't a pair of primates or the big cats. Not even the giraffes, though I feel that would have been an enlightening experience. No, it was the tortoises.

So as wonderful as the rest of the zoo was, there was just no getting away from the tortoises. There were several other highlights, especially the kangaroos who were SOOOOO close and the prairie dog Alamo. You can see the rest of my photos from this trip here.
York Zoo 7-11-09

Friday, July 10, 2009

When cool kids drink

Before we all embark on another weekend adventure, I'd like to recall the events of the 4th of July.

The 4th of July around here is a time for celebration. Beers and barbecue. Friends getting together and enjoying each other's company. This is what Brian and I set out to do last Saturday morning. We headed down to the house of a friend of ours who was kind enough to host. The burgers were seared and the beers were flowing.

Now, this party was populated heavily with what I'll call "Cool Kids". These are people who are into sports, watching and playing. They've got the clothes and the sunglasses and all that...

... but, woe to them, for after a few beers, inhibitions are decreased... or erased entirely. Some suffering this fate participate in the usual acts of public drunkenness. But a few, the select few, are compelled to unleash their inner nerd upon the world. They do this by singing a World of Warcraft parody song. I am not making this up. I was serenaded about the woes of being a shadow priest from one such inebriated cool kid. I have proof.

So beware, fair readers, as you set out this weekend for whatever debauchery you have planned. You, too, could wind up showing someone your inner nerd.

Note: The one on the right is wearing a Nat Pagle Fishing Supplies shirt. He has nothing to hide.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

[WoW] I loves me my PvE server

The Midsummer Fire Festival has come and gone. As with any of these holidays, there was a large amount of complaining about the PvP element. I am not without sympathy for these complainers. There are those that do not really enjoy PvP. I also fully agree with the solution to the problem that others have put forth; you don't have to do the holiday. For those of you still with me on the epic quest for the Violet Proto-Drake, it doesn't seem quite so much like a choice. Rather than complain, though, I wish people would embrace the excitement that a little bit of PvP can introduce to your regular game.

Behold, the PvE servers. As Brian reminded me, in the days of Vanilla WoW, they were referred to as "Carebear Servers". Of course, I'm not particularly concerned with my "hardcore" status, so that's where I roll. Even while cuddling my Carebear, I do love some good PvP. I like battlegrounds (except Warsong Gulch) and Wintergrasp. Woe to the lowbe Ally flagged in my presence. Otherwise, I like to be able to do what I want to do without having to worry about some jerk killing me for no reason other than the pleasure of ruining my day.

Along come the holidays. They seem to usually have some kind of PvP component, be it battleground achievements or world PvP. The Fire Festival is no exception. We must honor our own flames and desecrate those of our enemies. Desecrating enemy fires cause you to become PvP flagged. This is where the complaints lie. We're on a PvE server because we don't want to have to deal with world PvP. Really, though, give Blizzard credit for trying to make it something a little more than just a tour of the greater Azeroth flight paths. I, for one, relish the excitement of finding oneself vulnerable in the middle of the wilderness. Avoiding the Alliance on the roads, preparing to make a lightning strike raid on their main cities, waiting out a flag in the trees. This really makes my heart pound. There's preparation there. I ride around on my Dreadsteed instead of my wolf. I turn off my title to make my name shorter. I turn my helm back on to be less conspicuously Blood Elf. There's a Mata Hari-like thrill to the whole affair.

That being said, there are a few easy things you can do to make your life easier during these times. First, if at all possible, don't try to get this stuff done during peak hours. Brian and I raided all four of the opposite faction cities to get their fires first thing on Sunday morning. We only died once at the hand of another player. Because we got such an early start on the achievements, we had actually done all of Azeroth before they reset the quests. I actually wound up doing most of them twice. With all of those enemy fires, I only had a problem with other players a couple of times. I'll admit, once I became flagged, there was a fair amount of diving off the roads when someone was coming. Occasionally I'd cast water breathing on myself and wait it out at the bottom of a lake (This works well. Players don't like under water battles). It's great fun. And don't go alone. Even if you only have one other person to roll with, that's enough to protect you from the lone jerk wandering the wastes. Sure, you might die a couple times. Remember, if the person is camping your corpse, as long as you're not in the capital city, you can always wait out your flag as a ghost so they can't continue to grief you after you res.

So, come on, people, embrace the opportunity to show some of those snotty members of the opposite faction what's what.

Something's happening here...

... what it is ain't exactly clear.

Greetings, boys and girls.

I know, haven't posted in a while. Being unemployed has inexplicably given me tons of free time and yet made me completely busy. I've got a lot of projects going on right now. Several of them involve you, dear readers.

New site incoming...

I'm not going to say too much about it yet. It is in the infant stages right now. Well... I've got the domain registered. The blog will be there, as well some exciting content from Brian. Our portfolios will eventually be a part of that also. Very exciting.

Etsy Store in development...

I'm working on putting together an Etsy store full of gifts for nerds. I'm thinking it will have things for gamers, DMs, even baby nerds. Things like dice pouches, DM screens, dice towers, baby clothes and toys, stuff like that. Input on the kinds of things you'd like to see there is welcome.

I should also be posting more often. Be ready!

Thanks to everyone who reads ye olde blog. Be sure to follow me on twitter ( to keep track of what's going on.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Congratulations, Scott Johnson

I've gone back and forth over the last few days as to whether or not I wanted to write about this, but in light of recent events, it seems kind of important.

On Thursday, June 18th, Scott Johnson of MyExtraLife and podcasting fame announced on CNET's Buzz Out Loud that as of Monday (today) he would no longer be a slave to the 9 - 5 but would be working for himself. Somewhere along the way, Scott discovered that his web work and commissions were bringing in enough that he could do it full time.

That. Is. Awesome.

Even though I don't know Scott personally, I find this turn of events very exciting. I know there are other people who make a very good living as webcomic artists. But I wasn't there when Gabe and Tycho quit their day jobs or when Scott Kurtz decided to do his art work full time. I am here now, following Scott through his Twitter and his blog. And now he's living the dream.

So many people have commented on how Scott seems to do everything. I agree. He does. About a month ago, when he announced on Twitter his new iPod and iPhone application podcast, Appslappy, I retweeted this information with the comment that "Scott must be bored." He direct messaged me back with "Bored? Hey!" I told him that he clearly didn't already do enough if he was adding another podcast.

His reply... "Easy when you love it. :)"

Now, just a short few weeks later, he is doing what he loves as a career. I couldn't help but draw hope from this. One more of us regular people (albeit a very talented one) had done what everyone dreams of. I never seem to find enough hours in the day for everything that I love to do, let alone progress those things to a level where they could become profitable. I may have worked in the art department, but it certainly wasn't the art that I wanted to make. Seeing Scott succeed with his own work made me think that maybe I could find a way to do both.

Here I sit, no longer having the job that I liked well enough, but didn't love. Being downsized sucks, no matter who you are, but I'm having a hard time being completely unhappy about it. I have a singular chance to do what I love, at least for a little while. Maybe I can find that opportunity that will let me make my creative works a career.

It's comforting to know that someone made it.

Congratulations, Scott, and good luck.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

[Webcomic Wednesday] From Comics Coast to Coast

As requested by Mr. Frost, I'm getting back into the Webcomic Wednesday groove. Behold, three webcomics for your entertainment. All of the following were originally suggestions from Brian Dunnaway and Justin Thompson's podcast Comics Coast to Coast.


This little gem comes from Comics Coast to Coast co-host (try saying that five times fast), Justin Thompson. Admittedly, I haven't read many of them. I'm working on it. I do really enjoy Justin's whimsical style and color work. It has a simplicity that makes it absolutely endearing. The story revolves around Boody, the last dragon, and Dudley the knight who "disdains him for being his best friend".

Much the Miller's Son

I've started reading this one from the beginning, and I'm making pretty good headway. Like Mythtickle, it has a fantastic art style. The art here reminds me of the Asterix comics. The story revolves around Much, the son of the miller. He begins his adventures as one of Robin Hood's Merry Men, and things pretty much go downhill from there. A great read.

Cock & Bull

I really enjoy this one. After reading the first couple, I wasn't sure I was going to like it. But I soon found that I had read through every single strip and had fallen in love with it. I really enjoy the simple black and white line art. More and more comics are moving to full color, so that this is still black and white really helps set it apart. A word to the wise... The language is often foul, and they're certainly not above making horrible puns. But that's the charm. It's great for a quick laugh.

Three fantastic webcomics, ready for your consumption. All of them suggestions from Comics Coast to Coast. Please do visit these sites, click their sponsers, the whole deal.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

[Rant] An open letter to hosts of Warcraft Podcasts

Please, please, please. I'm begging you. When hosting a podcast, please don't speak as if you were in trade chat. "DK" does not take any less time to say than "Death Knight". Do not say "Lol" while actually laughing out loud. It's "Congratulations" not "grats". While these acronyms and colloquialisms may save in game chat times, you shouldn't have to rush your podcast.

I may be somewhat dismayed at the sloppiness of internet chat, but I accept that it's not going to change. I mean, somewhere along the way, people decided that "it is" is too long and made it "it's". That's fine. Language, especially written language in this age of faster communication, must evolve. Keystrokes are time, people. I get that. But please, people, there's no character count when you're speaking. Use real words.

That being said, I have no problems with using some acronyms. If you want to say BRD instead of Black Rock Depths, I'll accept that. Sometimes that's the only way I learn what the acronym actually stands for. DoTs are fine. Call it WoW. But let's be reasonable.

I've been trying to expand my podcast listening, maybe adding one or two more Warcraft related ones, and I just can't bring myself to do it. I downloaded one today, which shall remain nameless, but I just couldn't get past the WoW speak. This is, of course, not a universal problem. The Instance is safe. How I WoW is fine. WoW Insider is tolerable. These shows seem to have set a certain standard of professionalism for themselves, and because of that, the language used is, well, professional.

And if you want someone to listen to your product, a little professionalism might help.

Monday, June 15, 2009

E3 Part 2: Games and hardware that intrigue me

There were a fair number of games discussed at E3 that while I'm not necessarily excited to play them, I am intrigued by them.

Monkey Island - I won't deny it. I miss old computer games. I miss Hugo's House of Horrors and Day of the Tentacle. I am awesome at clicking the mouse on random items. News of a renewal of the Monkey Island franchise has made my ears perk up. It's just going to have to be a wait-and-see situation for me.

ModNation Racers - From what I saw, it has all the appeal of a Mario Kart where you can build your own tracks. And the build system they should could not have been easier. So while in games like The Sims, I don't mind spending hours perfecting their houses, if I'm making a track in a racing game, I want the time between creation and actually playing on it to be as short as possible. It just all looked so smooth.

Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks - I still haven't finished Phantom Hourglass. I have yet to play Twilight Princess. And I just downloaded Majora's Mask and have barely gotten into that. So this game is on my radar, but I've got a fair number of games ahead of it. I like the style that the Zelda games have taken of late.

I guess that's about it in terms of games that have really piqued my interest without being games I'm really excited about. My list of games that I really want to play is devastatingly long, causing this list to be shorter than I had anticipated.

EDIT: I was going save all the motion stuff for a separate post, but I think it will fit in here just fine.

Everyone has jumped on the motion control bandwagon. Not surprising; when done right, it can be really fun. One of the benefits of being in the business was that I was able to watch most of the big three keynotes streaming live while at work. Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft all had motion demonstrations, and all of them brought something a little different.

Nintendo - Wii Motion Plus - I have to say, this is a huge disappointment. It seems to me that they want to sell me another periferal that will make games operate in the way they promised the Wii would work in the first place. I think this is especially apparent in the fact that one of the release games for this new technology is Red Steel 2. The first Red Steel game was supposed to be so awesome, since it would be like you were really swinging a sword. We were pumped. This was the wave of the future. I mean, come on, if you're swinging a virtual sword, how long could it be before you're swinging a virtual lightsaber. Geeks of the world, REJOICE.... until any of us actually played the game. It was "cool", but certainly not the revolution in gaming that we had all anticipated. So I really find I have no option with this new tech but to be wary.

Sony - Playstation Eye - This tech is clearly still in the early stages of development, but it seems to be based off the same principles as the Wii motion controls. You've got a couple of wands and you use those as placeholders for whatever your character is weilding in the game. The demonstration that had reminded me of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Not that it's a bad thing. It was really kind of cool seeing the image of the guy doing the demonstration holding cartooney weapons. Having a controller means that, yes, you will have to buy extra controllers if others want to play, but it also solves problems that I worry Microsoft might run in to. That being said...

Microsoft - Project Natal - I don't think that anyone at Microsoft doubted that the demonstration for their new baby would make people talk. And it most certainly did. I'll admit, I'm probably not as skeptical about it as I should be, but I want it to be awesome. One of the facts that gives me hope is that Johnny Chung Lee, the guy who put together the Wii head tracking 3d thing, worked on this project. This dude does cool things. My only concern is that while peripherals will be supported, game developers may be too willing to jump whole-heartedly into the motion sensing that they won't include them when needed. This would become especially a problem in terms of UI. Now, if I have a UI bar along the side and I can just virtually press buttons like in the movies, that'd be just fine with me. But if I have to pat my head and rub my tummy while standing on one leg to bring up the multiplayer menu, that would be a problem. Example: I love Okami. I have it for the Wii. It's tons of fun. But I haven't finished it. And I haven't played it in a while. I'm going to have to start over because I don't remember what any of the motions are. I just don't want an entire library of games that I'm going to have to remember a separate set of motions for.

That covers most of what I have to say about E3. I do want to cover a few major disappointments, then I can be satisfied that I have had my say.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

E3 Part 1: Games I'm super excited about.

Alright, this is going to be the first part of my take on the stuff that came out of E3. These are the games that I am so very excited about.

The Last Guardian - Not much to say about this one. I've been waiting for years for another game from Team Ico. Here it is. The teaser trailer promises everything I'm looking for. And I am now going to have to purchase a PS3. I have no idea where we'll find room for it.

Overlord 2 - I admit, I haven't come close to finishing the first Overlord game. But it's so damn fun. I've heard about a fair few problems in the first one that I didn't play far enough to encounter. These are supposedly fixed in the second one. What's not to love? Brian claims that the Overlord looks like Arthas, but, hey, who wouldn't like to play as Arthas?

Assassin's Creed 2 - Again, I personally haven't played much of the first one, but they are so graphically stunning, I really enjoy it. And, again, claims have been made that most of the things people didn't like about the first game shall be remedied in the sequel.

Super Mario Bros. Wii - I'm fairly certain I have never really adapted to 3D games. So the prospect of a somewhat old school Mario side scroller is very exciting to me. Plus, Brian and I could use another game we can play together. As long as I get to be Princess Peach.

Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box - After I wrecked the first game (8 hours, baby. I loves me a puzzle game), it killed me to know that there were others in the series that I couldn't play. I would search the internet for whisperings of an English version of the sequels, but nothing. Finally, the second in the series is being released, and a game magazine I was flipping through at the book store stated that they plan to release the entire series in the US. Hooray! I do understand the delay, though. I imagine a puzzle game, especially something like Professor Layton which will inevitably have tons of language and cultural references in their puzzles, must be a nightmare to localize. I'm just glad that the first one did well enough to warrent them going through the effort for the others.

Star Wars: Old Republic - This game doesn't interest me personally so much as I am concerned about the possibility of losing my favorite Undead Warrior companion. If this game lives up to they hype, no Star Wars nerd will be able to resist.

Brutal Legend - Jack Black as Jack Black as Eddie Riggs in Brutal Legend. 'Nuff said. (And I still maintain that Tenacious D is the best concert I've ever been to.)

That pretty much sums up the games that I am truly excited about. There are several others that I look forward to playing, some that intrigue me, and there were a lot of E3 disappointments. But that will all have to wait til a later post.