Yeah, you know how last week I said I was going to try to get a buffer of comics done because my freelance work was light right now? Monday morning I got a call and started a job immediately. Of course I’m very glad to have paying work. But this mythical buffer of comics I keep dreaming of will have to wait.
So I’m drawing in Photoshop now and really enjoying it. It’s really strange. When I started the comic last year I did it in Photoshop, and hated it. I was slow and couldn’t figure out how to make the lines smooth. Part of that was that I was relocated for a bit and was drawing on a tiny Wacom tablet instead of my cintiq that I have here at home. I sped up a lot when I moved to doing the comic in Flash. But I guess I must have learned and changed a lot this past year, because now that I’m back in Photoshop, I don’t see what I hated about it before. Flash smooths out my lines a lot more, but it also has to lie some to do that. Photoshop has a truer interpretation of my pen stroke. Unfortunately, there’s a much higher file size that comes with it. I’m going to have to invest more in online backup of my files.
NPChloe is the weekly inward musings of one pensive and game-loving feline, Chloe. The words and art below have been ripped directly from her diary and spread out on the internets here for all to see.
I must say that I’m very excited for the new year. But I found it curious that when I asked everyone what they thought 2010 would bring, they all said something technology related. I suppose on the one hand this makes some sense. Technology is related to change, to progress, to the future. But can’t we also look forward to more naps? More playful romps down the hallway? More tasty snacks?
Of course, I can’t lie. While I may not care about Kindles or iPhones, gadgets or gizmos, I must admit that I’m very much looking forward to the release of Cataclysm. Cat-aclysm. I wonder if Deathwing is actually of feline descent?
I am also very much looking forward to improving my music. For the Two Blue Cats Cast, but also for myself. Podcast intros are great, but I want to compose entire songs! Sadly, it’s a little difficult to be proficient in piano playing when I have feline paws with no opposable thumbs. Perhaps I shall someday have to turn to technology to solve that problem for me…
I made a self portrait. Maybe I should also resolve to improve my artistic skill this year.
First Impressions is a regular feature in which Mary shares her -surprise! – first impressions of a game she’s been playing while she should have been making comics.
I received the latest in Nintendo’s beloved Zelda series for Christmas and launched right into it. The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks so far has me engaged and looking forward to picking up my Nintendo DS, which is a rare feat these post-iPhone days. This is a marked improvement over the previous DS title in the series, Phantom Hourglass. I’m not even sure I’ll ever finish PH, due to the repetitive nature of having to return to the same temple after completing each dungeon. Spirit Tracks also has a tower you have to frequently return to, but you don’t have to repeat the parts you’ve already completed, making all the difference.
Spirit Tracks is a little talky in the beginning, which I usually get impatient with in games, but I actually enjoyed the story and humor. The cut scenes are very well directed and acted, proving that you can still have compelling storytelling even with limited graphics. The art style is like Wind Waker. Short adorable big-eye characters. The action is 3-D top down, and you direct “Link” (his name is actually whatever you choose, but we all know who he really is) around with the stylus. I’m really not a fan of moving and attacking with the stylus. I get used to it, and for the most part it works fine, but I can’t help but feel I’d have more control if I could just move him with the D pad and attack with the buttons, like the good old days. Otherwise the gimmicky goodness of the DS is well utilized. You have to draw to solve puzzles sometimes, and you’ll find yourself blowing into the mic a lot, which is a little awkward in public.
So far I’ve completed the first temple, which was very fun and surprisingly short, but I can tell there’s a lot to the game. I still haven’t acquired a stamp book, which I am frequently reminded of by the many stamp stations throughout the land. No doubt a side quest, which the Zelda series is usually known for handling pretty well. I’m looking forward to exploring the side-quest aspect of the game more, especially if it means I can get a faster train engine. I’m very glad for the change of transportation (no more huge expanses of sea!), but the train is pretty boring so far. The fastest speed is slow as mud, and there’s no challenge to getting rid of any baddies in my way – simply pull on the whistle to scare them. Perhaps the developers wanted the transportation in this game to be easier than in the recent titles, but if I have to chug along, at least make it interesting. But I think I’m just not far enough into the game. The trailer I posted above shows Link shooting enemies from his train, so obviously it gets more interesting.
Otherwise, I’m thoroughly enjoying the latest Zelda romp, with its fun and challenging puzzles and engaging temple design.
The game does feature a multiplayer option, but I haven’t tried it yet. Looking forward to it, as I really enjoyed The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures.
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks is published by Nintendo, produced by Eiji Aonuma, and playable on the Nintendo DS and DSi. It was released in North America on December 7, 2009.
Two NPC comics featuring this Zelda game: Downtime and Declaration.
My original idea for “Of Avatar and Avatars” was to be set totally in game, and have several naked Draenei chicks hanging out on a floating mountain, conversing with each other. “Hey.” “Hey.” “Hey.” “Saw Avatar?” “Yeah.” “Yeah.” Pause frame. Then the same punchline, but said by the characters. You know, the avatars! I changed it because I thought it was the perfect opportunity to bring back the nerd guys. My only regret is that we don’t have a close up of the Draenei, or the whole connection between an avatar talking about Avatar.
“Predictions” was fun to draw. All the main characters in one long panel. We haven’t seen Jenny or Bill for a while. I tried to cute up Chloe and Bink by squashing their heads some, and gave the humans highlights in their hair for added depth.
So we’re starting a new year, a new decade, and it’s as good a time as any to improve my art. I’m going to try very hard over the next couple of weeks to get a buffer of comics done, and to make the drawing better than ever. My freelance jobs are light right now, so I can put a lot of time into the comic. But I have to move fast before I get another gig and I’m back to drawing comics at night and on the weekends, exhausted.
Not only is it the last day of 2009, it’s the last day of the first decade of the 21st Century. This was the decade I started my adult life, and ironically, reignited my childhood love of gaming. My favorite game of the last ten years? Well to be fair, there’s so much I haven’t played. But from what I have, it’s a tie for me between World of Warcraft and Portal. Below is a roundup of various gaming sites’ top games of the aughts. The consensus? Looks like I really need to try Half Life 2. What were your favorite games of the last ten years?