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Small Game Project #2

October 6th, 2013 | Artwork, Process

church02_th

Texturing is not done, but it looks pretty nice already (at least I think so). I’m painting these textures by hand in watercolor. Most of the lighting here is dynamic (enabling a nice flashlight effect, not shown here), although the sunbeams on the floor are baked. More to come!

Small Game Project #1

September 22nd, 2013 | Artwork, Process

Click to enlarge

What’s this? Apparently I’m making a small game, maybe. More details to come.

Justice Canyon Remix

June 2nd, 2013 | Artwork, Process

Doing a little project to become better acquainted with Blender Game Engine features which have been around for an embarrassingly long time now. Here’s the Justice Canyon arrival area (from Into the Titan), by day and night. All dynamic lighting.
Justice Canyon 1 - Day

Justice Canyon 2 - Night

More to come…?

Myst in Retrospect: The Great Tree of Possibilities

May 24th, 2013 | Myst in Retrospect

“Take from the past only that which is good.” – Atrus

Erase this post after you read it, just to be safe.

Popular culture has a remarkably short attention span, especially so in the world of video games. A new game is one that’s been around no more than a month or two; an old game is one that was released over a year ago. Talk to many video game enthusiasts and you’ll get the impression that games released, say, five years ago, are ancient history, archaic as the Model T, something their grandparents played. Many people react to these antique games with something akin to disdain, as if they resembled discoveries from the back of the refrigerator. This is no doubt due in part to how closely games are tied to the forward march of computer technology; it is inevitable that a game from five years ago is going to appear graphically inferior to one produced today. That said, while games are dependent upon imperfect technologies, it is important to remember that the best games will strive to transcend these limitations and excel despite them. This is the context in which we’ve been examining the Myst series: it’s twenty years old, placing it somewhere between Gilgamesh and Beowulf in video game years, but like any work from antiquity, it still has power and meaning worth examining. As we wrap up this journey, I want to take a final look back to consider what the Myst series accomplished, why it’s important, and what its significance will be in the future.

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Myst in Retrospect: End of Ages

April 7th, 2013 | Myst in Retrospect

Warning: Spoilers abound. If you haven’t played Myst V, I suggest you do so before proceeding. You can buy it at gog.com.

They finally canceled the lawn service when it started raining all the time.

“What you still don’t understand, you have failed to hear or don’t need to know.” – Yeesha

“Consider it a ‘Myst’ opportunity.” – Esher

At long last, here we are. From the heights of the Fifth Age to the lows of Serenia, through Stoneship and Ahnonay, from the Cavern to Terahnee, we now gather for one last journey, one last quest. I begin to understand why Yeesha talks like that; it’s much easier to write than meaningful sentences, yet it still manages to sound profound.

All silliness aside, Myst V is the end, “the final chapter,” as the box proclaims. Considering how vast and varied a journey it’s been, wrapping it all up is a tall order. We have loose ends from Atrus’s family turmoils, we still don’t know Yeesha that well, the question of the Restoration is still in the air, and (of course) the Bahro. Naturally we also want to check out a few of our favorite old haunts, and see some new places as well. Myst V: End of Ages manages to hit a few of these notes. It has some nice character moments, some spectacular Ages, and the occasional pinch of nostalgia. Unfortunately, it also has some fairly serious flaws that drag down the experience considerably. Is it a fitting end for the series? Considering some of the high points we’ve seen, for the most part it isn’t. At best it’s a predictable end to the series, delivering most of the elements we’ve come to expect, both the good and the bad. Let’s begin.

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Myst In Retrospect: Uru, The Path of the Shell

February 11th, 2013 | Myst in Retrospect

Warning: Spoilers abound. If you haven’t played Uru, I suggest you do so before proceeding. You can buy it at gog.com.

Kadish's ego, depicted in 1/4000 size.

On many occasions I’ve mentioned Myst to an avid video game enthusiast and seen the same reaction: their eyes glaze over and they say that they thought it was boring. As I’ve established throughout these reviews, one’s enjoyment of these games is due in large part to one’s willingness to meet the game’s story at the level it’s being presented. Uru, as we have seen, tends to be even more difficult to appreciate, since its story is obscure at best, and feels somewhat empty even to invested players. This final installment, sadly, does nothing to correct that precedent, and unfortunately compounds it with an almost complete lack of storyline and some of the most tedious and repetitive puzzles ever devised. Uru: The Path of the Shell is not without its charms, but the inescapable fact is that it is, in all honesty, pretty boring.

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Sunrise: The Complete Anthology

February 2nd, 2013 | Artwork, Comics, Sunrise

The complete anthology of Sunrise, my now-completed webcomic, is now available for purchase. Until February 16, the option of a signed and/or drawn-in copy is available. See this page for more details, or see below and after the fold for additional pictures and information. Click here to go ahead and order a copy for yourself.

Sunrise anthology, in isometric-esque view

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A Found Poem

January 26th, 2013 | Et Cetera

trying to remember,

once upon a time, I would
create a single polygon the shape of the perimeter of the fence line.
project this to terrain/ground
wall plus this nonplanar face
set the proflie in wall plus to have a 30 degree bend at the top about a foot down (two points) -gives a “3d” fence with barbed wire geometry at top
texture with nearest (to have forced poles at the corners – do texture accordingly) -wasnt a CDB db
then those polys were all reset to view 2x
shade

(Source here.)

Myst In Retrospect: Uru, To D’ni

January 18th, 2013 | Myst in Retrospect

Warning: Spoilers abound. If you haven’t played Uru, I suggest you do so before proceeding. You can buy it at gog.com.
“[L]ooking back at the others about the table, he smiled and raised his goblet. ‘To D’ni!’ he exclaimed. A dozen voices answered him robustly. ‘‘To D’ni!‘” – Myst: The Book of Ti’ana, pg. 142

“There’s a couple things that the fans will like. I think the first is the fact that they get to go to D’ni. And anybody who knows our stuff on a little bit deeper level knows that D’ni is someplace you want to go.” – Rand Miller, interview from Myst 10th Anniversary DVD Edition

Onward, past the DRC's omnipresent roadblocks

Long before Uru was released, it was well-understood among the fan community that the game would finally allow players access to D’ni itself. This was, undoubtedly, the game’s strongest selling point among the fans. It was something of a disappointment, therefore, to find that Ages Beyond Myst offered only cursory glimpses of the Cavern: a couple small balconies, a rooftop, and a tiny office. Sure, you could catch a glimpse of Kerath’s Arch (a well-known D’ni landmark), but unless you were one of the lucky few who had access to Uru Live, D’ni seemed to be nearly as far away as ever. It wasn’t until the collapse of the multiplayer edition that the Cavern was opened to all, in the form of this first expansion pack, To D’ni. It was made available free of charge, which makes it clear that its intent is to grant D’ni access to as many people as possible following the demise of the online community. It’s not much of a game, per se, but it’s not really trying to be: we, the fans, wanted access to D’ni, and they gave it to us. In addition to that we also got some closure to the Uru Live storyline, a objective (albeit a somewhat dull one), and some foreshadowing of the expansion yet to come. Overall it’s somewhat impressive that Cyan Worlds managed to release something of this scope even while reeling from the destruction of its longtime labor of love, but the inescapable fact is that To D’ni‘s meager content is somewhat beaten down by its tedious and repetitive gameplay mechanics. To D’ni wanted to be more than a couple additional environments, but in actuality that would have been enough.

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What I Read: 2012

January 6th, 2013 | Et Cetera, Review

Welcome all to the second annual end-of-year roundup of various media I consumed this year. This year I kept a list, so this is guaranteed to be comprehensive. Instead of alphabetical order, entries are listed in the order read (within each category). As in last year, recommendations are in bold. Mini-reviews provided below entries, as applicable. Starred entries I only read part of, usually books of short stories. Note: also includes movies!
The happy winners
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