Here is the third annual summation of all that I read/watched/played this year. Titles appear in the order that they were read/watched/played. Unreserved recommendations are in bold. Mini-reviews, where applicable, appear in italics. So, read on and perhaps you’ll find something you might like. Satisfaction is not guaranteed, however.
Well, looks like it’s time to upgrade the old website. New template is online; more changes to come. Check back often!
December 7th, 2013:
- Corrected rendering of lists
- Improved display of posts on blog page
- Altered various metadata displays for posts (category, tags, etc.)
- Improved rendering of “on the blog” list for front page
January 20, 2014:
- Altered portfolio display.
- Added Words page.
- Changed organization of header links.
- Added back/forward buttons to blog.
- Added Contact link (page forthcoming).
- Miscellaneous stylesheet tweaks.
January 25, 2014:
- Set up a new system for webcomics
January 26, 2014:
- Added the contact page and requisite illustration.
- Nearly finished an illustration for the front page but Photoshop crashed and (like an idiot) I hadn’t been saving.
February 2, 2014:
- Finished the illustration for the front page. I don’t like doing self-portraits, though, so look quick before I change it to something else.
- Added an illustration to the Words page.
- To quote a series of old Blender tutorials I saw once, AND WE’RE FINISH WITH IT!
Here in America we are, by and large, removed from the actual production of food. Meat comes from neat styrofoam trays, no longer remotely resembling the animal it once was, and that’s how we’ve come to like it. When the animals are represented at all (which is unusual), they are either made cutesy or abstract: a smiling cartoon pig, a silhouette of a bull’s head.
This is what makes Thanksgiving so interesting: it’s a time when American culture seems unusually aware of where the meat comes from. Turkeys have long outstripped Pilgrims as the primary icon of the holiday, and are generally depicted in one of two ways: realistic and dignified or cartoonish and manic. The realistic variety are drawn as large, healthy male specimens in enthusiastic display mode. They stare out with a sort of calm, detached dignity, willingly offering themselves up for our annual feast of gratitude. On the other end of the spectrum manic cartoon turkeys are goofy-looking creatures with bugging eyes, brown feathers, rainbow-colored tails, and tear-shaped red blobs dangling from their beaks like stray ketchup. The cartoon turkey’s primary goal in life is to not get eaten, and attempts endless cockamamie schemes to this end. This setup has been a staple of newspaper comic strips for years, which spend much of the month of November making jokes to the effect that turkeys, hilariously, are afraid of dying. This is how, in America, we show our appreciation for the animals we eat.
It was bound to happen eventually… I’ve updated the website for the first time in what, years? I don’t even know anymore. Here’s a quick rundown on what’s new:
- Easy-access table of contents for the Myst in Retrospect essays.
- More cool stuff in the sketchbook.
- Some new images of client work in the portfolio.
- Resume now reflects my actual employment status
- The about page which might as well be removed is now more accurate and less blabby.
Now I can get back to work on something more interesting.
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!
What’s this? Apparently I’m making a small game, maybe. More details to come.
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.
More to come…?
“Take from the past only that which is good.” – Atrus
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.
Warning: Spoilers abound. If you haven’t played Myst V, I suggest you do so before proceeding. You can buy it at gog.com.
“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.