Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What the hell, Karma?

Life is weird right now.

I miss old friends.

But at least I still have my art.

Time to get back to being who I want to be.

Time to make some progress.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I guess it's no surprise that pretty often my emotions get the better of me. The best of me, some would surely say. Well, in spite of my best efforts, I'm a pretty emotional guy. Something happens, and instantly it effects every part of my life. Sleep, how I eat, how I function at work, my ability to concentrate and rationalize are all compromised. It's interesting that I see myself this way, because someone very close to me one said that she couldn't tell what I was feeling at times. I feel like I wear my emotions on my sleeve, and that's not a very good virtue. Men are supposed to be stoic, unyielding in their resolve, yet if something hits me hard enough, I turn into a blabbering idiot, turning into a monster who says and does things that I abhor, or a gutless wretch, unable to form a single coherent sentence. 

I used to be much better about this. When I was upset, I'd just jump 
on the computer and start doing some artwork to take my mind off things. Recently, it's been increasingly hard to do so. My muse isn't there, and nothing flows. 

Seeing as art is the one productive thing that I do in my free time, i've been forcing myself to do it, and it's yielded some interesting, and unexpected results. Much art is fueled by emotion, I suppose, so it's appropriate that if it's dark in my mind, that may come out in my pieces. I'm working on a few pieces right now that make me think that, and as I look at them, I'm almost ashamed that I'm creating them. They stand for something that I don't stand for. I got to a milestone on one of them and thought, "This isn't me..." to myself. But because of the fact that it's one of the better pieces i've done, I can't bring myself to stop working on it until it's done. 

Besides there just being a lot of pills (and more to come) in the picture, there actually is a point to it. I dunno, hopefully things will make more sense, or start working out the way they should soon, because I don't want to use my only outlet to make things I'd be ashamed to show people.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

I can has Mac?

So I broke down and got a Macbook. It wasn't really breaking down as much as my Dell smacking me in the face and saying, "Ha, you fell for it! You're stuck with me, you silly, silly man!" But now, I've joined the herd of Mac people who would rather give up their firstborn than go back to fighting IT battles with their computers (not to be confused with the herd of people who went to Mac first, never used a windows based machine, but swears that Macs are better anyways.)

Let me back up a bit. 
A couple of years ago, I got a Dell Inspiron 1705E that has a lovely 17" display. Little did I know that the reason that Dell could offer this computer at such a low price was because they essentially took parts that they knew they wouldn't support anymore, threw them in and said, "Hey, a 17" at this price? We must be out of our bloody minds!". It turns out that WE, the consumers were actually out of our minds. 

About a year into owning the Dell, things started to act a little wonky. Another 3 months, then my soundcard went, my screen almost fell off, my keys got stuck, my DVD drive broke, my Audio-In jack bit the big one, and it won't connect to any network.

So to make a long story short, I'm now the proud owner of a brand spankin' new Macbook. So far, it's doing the job. The graphics are OK (I need to buy another 2GB of RAM. The display, while bright, isn't 17", but it'll do. It won't network with my Dell, but sees pretty much anything. I'm a huge fan of dynamic memory allocation (the cool thing that Macs do to give back ram after the program you're using is shut down. Windows doesn't do this). 

The main graphics program I use, Lightwave 3d has Mac versions (for everything except for the most current upgrade). My painting program, Artrage has a mac version. My 3d painting program, 3d-Coat has a mac version. I have Skype, Adium for all my messaging needs, and iLife, which comes with OSX (I have a hard time saying OS Ten, 'cus OSX sounds much cooler).

I'll be the first person, however to say that the claims that Macs "don't get viruses" is bullshit, and a pox on anyone who says different. While I haven't gotten one yet, (thank god), it's only a matter of time before I do. The only thing preventing Macs from getting viruses is that there are fewer people writing viruses for Macs. It'll happen folks, you mark my words.

Aside from that, I appreciate the stability (even though i've crashed it about 8 times now since I bought it from massive memory usage). I haven't had to fight with it since I bought it. It doesnt take 5 minutes to wake, and runs like I just booted it. 
Rendering my stills in lightwave happens pretty fast (even with interpolated radiosity activated). 3D painting flows a lot faster, unless i'm working with a very highpoly mesh.

All in all, i'm happy with it. I'm still getting used to the change from Vista to OSX, but with the help of a very good friend, I'm a lot more comfortable with it. 

Friday, September 05, 2008

Mesh-up Mash Up

Recently, I did a search for CG artists in the surrounding area, as I do often. I do this just to see if anyone new has popped up, and to try to network a bit.

It's been pretty disappointing in the past, because 3D artists are few and far between, mostly to be found in major cities like New York and Boston on the east coast, and a lot more on the west. 
I found a site, meshfolk.com, and discovered that the studio is actually just down the street from my office, so I decided to call them up and see what they were all about. I wasn't expecting a whole lot, just maybe a newtworking opportunity, but they were kind enough to invite me over to chat after work. 

On Thursday, I stopped by their studio, met the owner, and one of the modellers. It was a really nice meeting, and they liked the few samples of work that I brought with me. They're a Maya house, (meaning that they use the software Maya), and I use Lightwave. For those of you not in the know, knowledge of how to use different pieces of software can make or break you in this industry. Luckily, there are ways to convert from one to the other. 

They asked to see some more of my work, so I pulled some together after I got home, and sent it to them. I got an email back praising it, and was told that they'd consider me for their next big project. 

This is actually a huge step for me, because I've never really formally studied 3D, and never expected that my work would catch the attention of those who do this for a living. 
So we'll see where this goes, but for the moment, i'm feeling pretty good. Below are some of the pieces I sent over.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Slowly Getting Back on the Saddle

I've been very lax with my project. I think it's because of poor planning. Last monday, however, I started doing my best to storyboard my graphic novel, based on an updated script.
I've been doing a quick sketch on index cards what I'd like page to look like, and then writing on the back of the index card writing any notes about the page, models that have to be made, and thoughts on each one.

Just to give myself a quick burst of motivation, I tried making the first page (or at least, page -1). Here it is:

This weekend, i'll continue working on my story board, spruce up the page above a bit, and set some goals/milestones so I can keep myself going.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

PS3's HAZE: Run of the mill game, or brilliant military commentary?

This post may contain spoilers for Ubisoft's PS3 title, HAZE

"They told me I would be the best. They gave me the best weapons. They gave me Nectar."

HAZE, the newest first person shooter for PS3 follows Shane Carpenter, recent college graduate and member of the private "Mantel Army" who learns early on that he's fighting for the wrong side.

During the early stages of the game, Shane (and
you) learn how the Mantel Army works. Being the most successful private military, you have access to the most advanced weaponry, tactical information, and one key component, Nectar, a super performance enhancing drug.

The Nectar administer is attached directly to the back of the character's neck, and supplies a steady dose of the drug. By pushing a button, the player can administer higher doses, reflected by a gauge on the left hand side of the screen. These higher doses allow the player to see the enemy combatants surrounded by a hazy glow and from farther distances, see farther through the scope on their weapon, hit harder and sense danger such as grenades.

There are two immediate downsides to the Nectar drug. The effects do not last long, maybe 60-90 seconds per dose, so the player has to constantly administer it to themselves, something you hear your computer controlled squad-mates doing as you hear a click-hisssss as they run by. Also, if the user uses too much of the drug, they can overdose, not be able to tell friend from foe, have vision problems, shoot their weapon uncontrollably and pull the pin out of grenades and hold onto them (i'm assuming from muscle spasms).

The one main downside (or upside, depending on how you're looking at it), is that Nectar sterilizes your environment. That is to say, the player on nectar doesn't see what the regular person sees. The player walks into a room, sees a clean room with a door on the other end and a few desks. What they don't see is the dead bodies littering the floor, the blood splatter on the walls, and the player's own hands covered in blood. However, because the suit that the player wears delivers a constant low dosage of the drug, none of the other soldiers ever sees the gruesome damage that they cause.

Halfway through the game, the player's Nectar Administrator is permanently damaged, and he sees everything. This of course, leads him to question everything he was fighting for, and instead of his team wanting him back to fix him up, they try their best to kill him.

I'm skipping around here, but the player eventually joins
the group of rebels that he had previously hunted as a Mantal soldier, and you learn that the reason for the entire skirmish is that the plant used to produce Nectar grows in the rebels back yard. Instead of striking up some kind of deals with the rebels (who at the beginning, weren't rebels at all), Mantel tells their people that the rebels are involved in ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity, terrorism, and that their leader gruesomely disfigures captured prisoners.

Let me say that again.

The army that you're a part of can't
see the destruction and brutality they're causing while invading a country to steal its natural resource under the guise of liberating its people from a terrorist group with an insane leader.

It wasn't until close to the end of the game that you realize that the leader of the rebels uses the same speeches to motivate his troops th
at your former squad leader used to pump his guys up before a mission. Also, one of the last lines in the game is about how the company used the drug in the wrong ways, and in the rebels hands, it would be used for good.

The most powerful weapon was indeed the drug, Nectar that was given to the soldiers. How could any regime defeat an army that couldn't see the evil it did, and willingly removed itself from the moral responsibility of its actions? Wrap all this up in a drug that made them stronger, faster, and more effective, as well as constant encouragement from superiors to "...go ahead and take your meds...". It somewhat reminded me of Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card in the sense that if the soldiers knew what they were actually doing, they never would have pulled the trigger.

So, this game touched on a lot of interesting points, but was far enough removed to look at the plot objectively. Many reviewers gave it a poor score, but I feel that they missed the point that the entire game was social commentary. I found a military with little oversight going into a foreign country on the grounds of liberating people from evil while actually just trying to secure their own interests somewhat familiar. How about one military group not learning from the mistakes of another?

All in all, it was an interesting game, and interesting concept, even if executed poorly.
One thing this made me think though, was that more games should follow in the footsteps of Haze and Battlestar Galactica in making social commentary. It is a viable medium after all.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Important Tax Rebate Information from TurboTax

Wondering why you haven't received your stimulus check yet? this may be the reason.


Nice of them to fess up early - ____-

Important Tax Rebate Information

Dear Valued Customer,
We want to provide you with the most up–to–date information about the tax rebate to which you may be entitled.
Recently, you may have received a letter from the IRS advising you when to expect your Economic Stimulus Payment (rebate). That IRS letter may have inadvertently left off some important information. Taxpayers who chose to have their tax preparation fees deducted from their federal tax refund will receive their tax rebate in the mail, not via direct deposit.
Our records show that you chose this payment option in TurboTax. As a result, the IRS has determined that you will receive your tax rebate in the mail. This may result in you receiving your rebate on a date later than expected.
This situation, while not unique to TurboTax, is understandably causing some concern and confusion. To help further clarify the situation, below is the most current IRS rebate payment processing schedule, as well as additional resources about the tax rebates.
I hope you find this information helpful. If you still have questions, the best source for the most up-to-date information is www.irs.gov (see the "Rebate Payment Questions" link).

Bob Meighan

Vice President, TurboTax Customer Advocacy

If the last two digits
of your Social Security
number are:
Payments will be
mailed no later than:

00 – 09
May 16

10 – 18
May 23

19 – 25
May 30

26 – 38
June 6

39 – 51
June 13

52 – 63
June 20

64 – 75
June 27

76 – 87
July 4

88 – 99
July 11