Life, Art, and Monkeys

Turbo was Terrible

I saw Turbo last week, and it was awful. Just a terrible film. The story is -SPOILER- about a snail on drugs who wins the Indy 500, so that in itself was not the greatest idea, but as a FILM it was simply badly made. There are two silver linings, though. I learned a ton about what not to do, which you can read some of here, and also this:

That Snail is FAST!

So bad, it's awesome. Except it really isn't awesome, it's just bad. Yet I keep listening to it.

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New Toys- I MEAN, work… tools…

I don't often want much stuff. Don't get me wrong, I'm no monk, it's just acquiring material possessions has not for several years been very high on my to-do list. Most of the time when I want some "thing" it's a new book (more times than not about animation). For quite a while, though, I've really had a nagging desire for an SLR camera. I think it started about 20 years ago when I took a camera class in school. It was so much fun, messing with settings and seeing what would happen. The picture quality is astounding, too.

This past weekend I managed to justify it after two decades. I'm working on a new project that needs great photos, and my iPhone camera just isn't going to cut it. Sure I could probably get by just fine with some half-decent point-and-shoot model, but how many of those have super awesome lenses that you can swap out to make it seem like you're taking pictures from second base when you're really in the nosebleed section of the outfield? Not many. (And if there are some, just be quiet about it, because that ship has sailed.)

Yesterday I got everything set up and spent the day snapping photos left and right of whatever was in front of me. Since I was at a Pirates baseball game, it was mostly that. I also got some pictures of flowers (my favorite subject for some reason) and my cat. So I figured I'd share some here.

There's something about composing photos using a good old fashion tiny viewfinder that you jam your eye up against that makes me very happy. Something I've never been able to recapture when just staring at a little screen on the back of a camera before pressing down the shutter button.

Also the camera goes "ca-click" when the mirror moves out of the way to expose the sensor, and that sound is like music to my ears. If only it used 35mm film... And film still existed, and I could afford to get this many photos developed. Hmm... On second thought that particular feature can stay in the past I think.

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Xenoblade: Now Coming to the US

If you haven't heard, Xenoblade is headed to US shores in April 2012. If you haven't heard about Xenoblade at all, let me bring you up to speed:

The game is an RPG for the Wii made by some very talented folks. It was released in Japan and then Europe to very good reviews and a handful of dedicated gamers in the US lamented the lack of American release. They started a movement to attempt to sway Nintendo to bring the game over here, which included Twitter campaigns, letters to Nintendo of America in Seattle, and other online rallies. Nintendo repeatedly said they had no plans to bring the game over at that time, and it seemed the cries fell on deaf ears.

Now the game will see a limited release via Nintendo's Online Store and at Gamestop. Gamers have gotten what they wanted, but I have to wonder, at what cost?

The Pros and Cons of What Happened

I've been torn for a while on the subject of Xenoblade. Let me precursor this with the fact that I'm not an RPG fan. I don't enjoy the games much, minus a handful like Paper Mario and Pokemon. They just don't appeal to me much. So I was never planning on getting this game regardless. (Q, however, almost certainly will when it releases here.)

When it was announced that the game would come to Europe and not the US, I felt proud of the small group who set out to change that via letters to the HQ of Nintendo in Seattle. Here were people upset about something and trying to CHANGE it. I applauded them, and actually sent a letter of my own explaining that for their sake I'd like to see the game come here. I'm a big advocate for people doing things (reasonable things) to make change happen. Many times what I see instead is people crying about it on the internet without any sort of attempts to change the real world.

And therein lies what became the problem. After the initial push to try to change Nintendo's mind, things quickly degraded into a whole lot of whining. A WHOLE lot of whining. To the degree that I left several gaming forums I had occasionally frequented because a few people were being such self-deserving babies about it. It was never ending. Just complaining on top of complaining on top of complaining. Doing nothing to help anyone, except perhaps themselves by putting a worthless social bandage on the issue by knowing they others shared their misery.

The Love I Never Knew

Once upon a time a game called Giftpia was made. It is the creation of the genius crew at Skip, creators of the fabulous Chibi Robo among other things. Well back 2003 when this game came out in Japan I pined for it to release in English. PINED. Literally, I sat around miserable that it wasn't out here. I don't want to compare my longing for this game to the people longing for Xenoblade, but let's just say it (Giftpia) was absolutely unique while there are MANY RPGs out there as suitable substitutes (for Xenoblade). At any rate, it never did see release outside of Japan. At one point I literally almost took up Japanese just to play this one game. I was devastated. And do you know what I did next?

I got over it. Because it's a video game.

Life is a funny thing. Sometimes you're going to get what you want, and sometimes you're not. At some point you have to accept that and move on with your life. Sadly many, many people refused to let go of Xenoblade. They turned it into a crusade against Nintendo for "constantly" (like a handful of titles) refusing to release things in the US. They screamed and shook their fists and made bold, brash claims of abandoning the company forever. They basically acted like spoiled little kids.

Time to Grow Up and Be Responsible

Well, spoiled little kids, you got what you wanted. In April Xenoblade will be released in the US. Do you know what that means? You flippin' better well buy it.

If this game sees release, even in its limited form (which at this point is still EXTREMELY accessible, unlike say Chibi Robo on DS which was a WalMart exclusive and you could rarely even find it in stores), and does not sell as well as people cried out for it, gamers are essentially screwed. Here is a brilliant example of a company listening to its customers, and now the ball is in the customer's court. If it sells, everything is hunky dorey and things are looking up. But if it doesn't? Well, we're in a lot of trouble.

You see, if Xenoblade doesn't sell after ALLLLLL that hubbub, it is going to be a giant blinking neon sign to Nintendo that says "The consumer has no idea WHAT it wants, do not listen to them." Nintendo already thinks that (and in many ways they're right: Wind Waker would never have seen the light of DAY if they listened to the Zelda fans). If there is any hope for gamers to get the point across to developers and publishers world wide that it is worth listening to the consumer prior to release, this game needs to sell decently. Selling well would be an outstanding achievement, but I honestly don't have high hopes for that, so let's just try DECENTLY.

So now what?

So, those whose voices rang out the loudest in 2011, your job is not over yet. In fact, think of what came before as the interview, because your job JUST STARTED. You're hired. Now you need to get people to actually fork over the cash for this title or the job you're going to lose is "Nintendo ever listening to you again." This is the harder part of your job. It is no longer about taking a minute to tweet your outrage, or sending Reggie a letter. Now you have to get people to part with their precious money in April, and join you at the real and virtual cash registers to pick up copies of this game.

The ball is back in your court, gamers. Go for the win or go home.

EDIT: So that there is no confusion (which there seems to be a bit of) there are two groups of people involved in this issue. The first group is crusading and striving to get Xenoblade (among others) to the US. The second is USING that effort to lash out at Nintendo with no intention of buying the game even now that it is coming over. I hope that's understood. I am fully supporting and applauding the first group, who is trying to make change happen. I think the second group, though, is a waste of everyone's time (including their own). I am sorry for any confusion that may have caused.


Tea Time

Since Dededoll was technically sitting on my desk first, he threw a welcome tea party for SC. There wasn't any tea. Only Capri Sun and Hershey's Chocolate.


Cause of Delays (and no it’s not just E3)

Well here it is Monday and the Mailbag still isn't up. I blame myself. Because... well, who else would I blame, my studio only has one employee! 😛

I thought I'd better give a bit more info, though, so folks didn't think I was totally slacking off. I wasn't. I mean, yeah, Tuesday I did because it was E3, but the rest of the week I didn't!

The pastor at my church is leaving after 24 years and as the Lay Leader I have had a lot of things to do while we're in the transition period. You'll have heard if you check my Twitter account that I guest preached yesterday. The good news is that time is mostly over, just a few more weeks, and then I should be back to my normal schedule. Well, as much as I ever HAVE a normal schedule. Anyway, this week I was painting wooden cutouts and planting vegetable gardens and filing bank deposits and loading garbage into trucks. So I did a lot of important things that needed done, but they weren't the Mailbag. I probably only got half as much time as I expected last week to work on the cartoon. I am, however, still working diligently on the mailbag and it will be done as soon as possible. And when it's done, I'll put it up at FtM.

I did want to respond to the comment by TheKeyMcKee, which was:

If the Mailbag is done before Friday, DON’T POST IT UNTIL FRIDAY. It makes the week feel more finished and rewarding.

That's a good point, and one I hadn't considered. I probably would end up delaying the toon until Friday just for that purpose, but Friday I have another update planned that's already finished and ready to go live, and so I'll put up the Mailbag ASAP and the new update this coming Friday. I think people should enjoy it, and without giving too much away, it should bring enjoyment for many moons to come. But alas, I've said too much. You'll have to wait until Friday to see. Maybe I'll continue dropping vague hints all week just for the mischievous glint it puts in my eye.

And finally I assume you have all seen the new Clydex design by this point, yes? If not, it looks like you only follow me on the blog and not various other locations I frequent online...


Ohhhh! I see what happened with my schedule!

I was really beating myself up about not sticking to my schedule (shown here) when suddenly I realized it's not quite what I thought. See, I have it listed every seven days starting on May 1st. The thing is, I then reset the counting for June by starting at June 1st. This week is labeled June 1st - June 8th. That means technically this "week" goes from Wednesday to Wednesday! Doh. Since I'm accustomed to working Friday - Friday (updates traditionally on Fridays) that's what was throwing me so far off! It turns out the Mailbag isn't due on my schedule until next Wednesday. I just didn't fully see that (I made the schedule a month ago), so I talked about it being updated as usual on a Friday. Woops!

Well that's good news for me. A boost of confidence that I didn't TOTALLY blow my deadline. I still have a bit of time, technically speaking. Sorry about the mix up.

Moving on!

I was watching The Simpsons on Hulu during one of my breaks from working (is it a break when you're not animating to STUDY animating? Hmmm) and came across something interesting to share. Take a look!

Looks like SOMEONE didn't get the memo that the show is in Widescreen format now! :)

It's always interesting to me to see these sorts of things, especially these days. I mentioned in some previous blog entry that if you look at characters who aren't the focus of attention in many shows/films, they look completely lifeless and awful. That's because your eye is not supposed to be there, so sometimes they take shortcuts. Me, I don't always look where they're trying to guide me. Gotta study everything I can, not just the moving parts!

I'm not ragging on the background artist of The Simpsons who made this tiny error. After all, the show (especially this season) is amazing and hilarious (compared to the shaky seasons 13 - 19, I mean. Obviously still not as quality as 6 - 9 but nothing ever will be), so who cares if every detail isn't perfect? Sometimes, though, it's nice to remember that even shows as big as this have little errors and things. Makes me feel like my goof-ups aren't so terrible, and that we're all human.

The funny thing is I do this same thing CONSTANTLY. I just draw what's going to be on screen. If you scrolled to the left or right, there wouldn't be the other half of a microwave, or box, or whatever. It just ends. That can actually be a pretty major setback when I want to reuse something but show all of it. Suddenly there I am, lacking the left side of a refrigerator or something and have to correct my lazy error. When will I learn just to draw the other part, even if it isn't on screen?! Hopefully I learn that soon.

Finally to wrap up this weekend post, I believe I have settled on the final redesign for Clydex. Look forward to seeing it next week. Not TOO different, but cleaned up and now he has legs instead of before where despite all his appearances, I never once drew his feet. Much like that half-crafted box next to Lisa up there.

Have a great weekend everybody!


JKR is out

Hello! Q here, to let everyone know JKR is sick today. He got much worse last night and didn't sleep, so he won't be doing the blog or anything today. He said to tell everyone he was sorry and that he would try to update as soon as he was back up and about.

So sorry for the delay! I'm sure he will sign in when he's feeling up to it.


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Whoops! Friday mistake on my part

I came to write today's blog entry today and noticed that the entry I wrote last Friday wasn't up! It turns out I clicked the "save" button instead of the "publish" button. My apologies. The new upgrade to the blog has both buttons next to each other, and the Save one is where the old Publish one used to be. I'll have to make a mental note to double check which I click next time. Specifically Friday since that's my busy day.

To recap Friday's updates:

New Fred cartoon! Mailbag 47 is up for watching, and hopefully by Wednesday the easter egg that was supposed to be at the end will be included. Plus I'm upgrading a few of the animations, because I had to cut some of the original movements in the opening scene. I'll let you know.

New Cubetoons comic! Level 97 (ooo, we're almost at 100) is available to view at IGN, so go check it out.

Now that those are out of the way, I'm going to get back to work on this week's Fred toon. I hope people will enjoy it, I get enought emails constantly requesting this sort of thing! Oh and the Daily Drawing, here you go:

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Middle of Nowhere

I am in the middle of nowhere and very sick. My stomach is not happy with me at all. Hopefully this stops soon. The internet here is flaky, so I'll write more when I can.

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Wii Fit: It is now mine

This morning my wife dragged me out of bed to drive out and be at Best Buy for the launch of Wii Fit. As a backup I had preordered it from Gamestop, but frankly their shady trade-in business really makes me hesitant to shop there ever. So it was a last resort.

An hour before the store was set to open, one woman waited in front. Ironically, with a cane. She had knee surgery recently, and her 28 year old son mentioned that Wii Fit might be just the therapy the doctor was already asking her to do. So there she was, first in line.

We were second.

Third place went to a very "core" gamer, probably my own age, clearly a fan of gaming. We talked about games for a bit, including me recommending Boom Blox. Hope it stuck.

Fourth in line was a guy probably also in his 20's, but he was there for a Wii, not Wii Fit. And fifth was a new mother with a 2 month old baby who had already bought her copy at Target, and was now waiting for a second copy for her sister as a favor to her sibling. Wow, that's a nice sister right there.

At any rate, they handed out tickets soon afterwards, so we went walking to other stores in the complex. I found a shopping cart to ride around the parking lot for fun. Let it be known, folks, that you are never too old to zoom around a parking lot on a shopping cart. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

I was pretty surprised, I guess, when we returned at 5 to 10 and found close to 50 people standing in front of the store. Yeah, I think this game might be pretty popular. As it opened, a woman drove past and rolled down her window. Everyone else crowded inside, so I stopped to chat.

Lady: Why is everyone lining up?
Me: A game called "Wii Fit" comes out today
Lady: Oh, I heard about that. Do they have any Wii systems too?
Me: Yep, some people are in line for that as well.
Lady: Can you get those anywhere?
Me: Well... They're kind of hard to find actually. Which is why... (points at line filing into store)
Lady: Oh. Maybe I should get one now. Thank you!

Then she went to park.

So now I'm back at home, with Wii Fit (the store started with a nice stack of the game and had about 5 left when we exited) and I'll wait until after work to actually play. But I'm sure glad we went this morning. I have a funny feeling, like the Wii, this game is going to cause some lines to form well after its release.

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