Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Amazon Fire Tablet

There is a ton of hype surrounding this new device. Then there's all the shameless headlines claiming this device will take on Apple's iPad just for page views. Finally you have what must be obviously a serious gamble on the part of Amazon releasing a $200 Android tablet at what is probably cost.

Does Amazon have the content to back up handing these things out for virtually no profit? I think they do and then some. The problem is that the media and tech blogosphere is being really quick to shove the little guy into the ring with the iPad. It'd be like watching a Ford Focus try to outrun a BMW 530d during a chase scene in a John Frankenheimer movie.

Maybe if Robert De Niro is in the Ford Focus, and he's packing a H&K MP5.

I don't see a lot of people holding an iPad in one hand and an Amazon Fire in the other and weighing the pros and cons of each item before making a purchase. They barely resemble each other in what they would and can be used for by both casual consumer and tech adept. Employing my previous comparison, I don't see someone who went in to buy a BMW 530d being talked into a Ford Focus instead, and vice versa.

There's some chatter that Amazon's Fire could unleash doom for it's more expensive Android brethren fighting for market share. Could a cheap device being handed out at cost for the purpose of distributing paid content wreck the ambitions of devices put on the market to provide that and dozens of other services in addition, just because it's cheaper?

The tech market is largely perception based. It is for this reason that companies don't release their sales figures unless they are pretty sure they're top of the heap. Just because a device doesn't sell well, there must be something wrong with it. Given the youthful nature of the mobile computing device market, it's not odd at all that it would all look like melodrama unfolding in a junior high hallway.

The analysts making the assertion that a $200 price point will give Amazon an edge in competing with Apple haven't been paying attention to the last 10 years of mobile computing. My first laptop in 1999 was $2500 for a 200mhz. Most of the people who buy and rely on mobile computing devices are used to paying a high premium for the privilege of bringing their computer with them wherever they go. Relative to what my iPad does for me on a day to day basis, the $700 I paid back a year and a half ago seems like a bargain.

Yes, it's easy to forget that I'm not the typical iPad user and that even the games loaded on my iPad are somewhat work related. I use it to create far more content than I consume, something the majority of people who use desktop computers at home probably can't say. I'd really like to bash Jeff Bezos (it'd be easy) for his snide comparisons made during the unveiling of the Fire tablet, but he isn't trying to sell one to a guy like me.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Old Staff Fighter verses New

Clickorz to emgiggen

Sadly, the older pic looks better when cut and diminished to 200 x 240 pixels for the fly-in graphic during combat. Dave and I have been talking about developing for a different platform that would give me more screen landscape to play with. Might not be a bad idea as my artwork outgrows our current 800 x 480 limitation.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Artist Evolution

Clickorz pic to embiggen

When I was a kid I couldn't figure out which of my hands was the dominate and it wouldn't have mattered much because I couldn't tell my right from my left most of the time. Writing a sentence was a challenge until a few of my teachers got together and spent considerable time helping me retrain my chaotic mind to control my limbs. I still suck at Street Fighter.

I've been working on doing the Artwork for a game for the Windows Phone with a friend. I've been a doodler since I was small because I was told that anything I did to train my hands would help me overcome my disability. I wasn't very imaginative back then so it was all Transformers and thinly veiled replicas of my favorite comic book heroes.

I was talking to my business partner and friend last night about the progress in the game when he told me he'd handed it off to someone he works with. Every time he does that my heart sinks a little bit because like most creatives I thrive on the thing I fear most, criticism. So far, including what was described to me last night, everyone likes the artwork for the game. That's a big deal for me because I've only been doing digital artwork for a year.

My cousin posted a blog to his google plus stream that had been maintained by a gentlemen who started at ground zero and eventually transformed himself into a remarkable artist. I haven't posted a lot of my work because I'm self conscious about it, but the blog made me go back and look at the work I'd done in the last year.

I've painted/drawn/rendered Master Red, a character in our game, dozens of times trying to get him to look right. I wanted him to portray magnetism and intelligence like so many of the good people I associate with on a daily basis. I wanted he and the other two masters to be inspiring when the player sees them on the screen of their phone and receive their mission orders.

I'll have to go back through all my files and find some for Masters Blue and Green, and some of the other characters we've introduced over time. I'm beginning to see why keeping your old artwork is as important as keeping your old writing. Looking back I can see a lot of things I did right day 1 and things I still do wrong to this very moment.

When I'm simply told "this is awesome" it does little to help me refine this skill I've had to reach out to. It does a lot to keep me going though because drawing is extremely tiring for me and I think has been the source of a lot of my eye strain recently. Any fuel to carry on burns the same, and I'm grateful.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

In The Name Of God(s)

Folks ought to figure out the implications of their actions relative to their own temporal identity before doing it in the name of a Celestial one. Maybe God doesn't care about your earthly means and contrivances? From what I've seen, it's a lot safer bet. Glorifying a heavenly entity shouldn't be about earthly things that won't matter in a month.

You want to glorify a Maker, a (the, w/e) supreme creator of stuff? Create something that can't be spent, lost or easily forgotten.

Okay, I'm done for awhile. Ranting that is. Maybe.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Illustration Frustration

I started doing some illustrations for a small book I've been putting text toward for a long time. I feel pretty good about what's in the book, but the type of illustrations I want aren't completely inside my skill set. It's nothing fancy, just some small bugs that live in my mind.

I've done a fair number of extremely detailed drawings of these characters but I want what I put into the book to be far simpler and very small. I want there to be little Chitterlings in the corners of the pages, sitting at the edge of the text as though it were a ledge, and similar. I want them to be no larger than three times the height of the text unless they are standing next to a header.

It's a statement about the type of creative person I am in general. I like to make things complicated.

Trying to limit myself to as few lines as possible to craft the little guys on the pages. I'm allowing myself some liberty when it comes to rendering things they are carrying, but otherwise they need to be extremely simple. The book is part of my table top RPG I've been creating over the last five years and I'd like to finish it before the end of the year.

Maybe having illustrations at all is just a bad plan.

Gonna take one of my precious days to craft as many of these little guys as I can just to see if I can render enough of them that I like for the purpose. It feels like I spend way too much time with a tablet pen in my hand already. Being a one man crew on most of my projects requires doing a lot more of what I don't like as opposed to what I really enjoy.

Having some off-the-grid creative license in that regard comes with a price you pay in time.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dear Me, Look Back Here In 112 Days

Looking in my Things App on my iPad this morning was pretty depressing. I'm writing this entry more to give myself something to look back on in four months than to illuminate anyone else that might read my blog regularly. Going into Fall and Winter my mental health generally suffers if I don't provide myself an even greater degree of focus.

I've got about 124,000 words left to write between two novels to make four total for the year. Collectively it's somewhere around 250,000 words that I'll have to edit and arrange for publish and make covers and such for. I've got a couple of people willing to help me with this but it will be a push to see it all happen before 2011 elapses.

Visting the Raging Rickshaw forums today made me realize just how much is left to complete our App for the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace. I think Dave and I have reduced the overall complexity of the game but added in several elements that will require a lot of additional artwork. I've got less than two months of real time to make that happen including the work that needs done on my novels into the equation.

I'm very close to completing several works for Storytelling Sciences and I'm not worried about the text required for that project. I've thousands of words waiting to go in and find a place. I've too much content if anything. I'd like to do some illustrations for the books though, something that might push the whole thing into next year. I need to find a play test table for the final form of the game, hopefully some folks that have never played it before.

I do a large amount of writing and creating for the purpose of recreation with my friends playing RPGs. It feels like a stretch to keep it all going and stay on schedule even after putting things into perspective with my Things App (awesome App btw). I would rather my work schedule suffered than my mental or physical health. My LARP crew has already stated that they want the game to continue after the first Chronicle is complete, and my RPG tables continue to contain interested folks.

Then there's the new Space Marine game. I will play through the whole thing on Normal mode before the end of the year. Somatic Dyslexia be damned.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Laying in Bed

My morning ritual since returning from vacation is to lay in bed and make text using either my iPad or my Macbook Air, whichever went on the nightstand before I fell unconscious. As a kid I hated getting up in the morning because some of my best ideas seemed to come to me in that half wakeful state. As an adult, I've typed so many words, I can actually work a keyboard in that same state.

The result is a few thousand words of odd ideas probably inspired by my travels, a fresh perspective and all those potato chips and cottage cheese I ate the night before. Strange and angry dreaming aside, I think that my trip to Seattle wasn't as restful as I would have liked. The Penny Arcade Expo was incredible fun and I hope to make a return visit, but like my typing in bed, it was a somewhat awkward experience.

I mostly abhor any social situation involving more than a half dozen people. To that end, I'm glad we had so many friends present in Seattle with us and a pair of gracious hosts willing to navigate the labyrinthine roads and highways to get us where we needed to go. The weight of the journey always seems to fall sometime after you've returned home.

It's Friday, and tonight I'll get to roll some dice and pretend to be a Lawful Evil Elven Wizard. I have a different outlook on table top RPG gaming than I did previous to visiting PAX. I'm excited to participate for completely different reasons. I guess it takes being in a cramped space with thousands of like minded people to make you realize how much you are part of a culture.

I'd carried a sliver of guilt over the practice because I thought I was leaving myself bereft of more traditional social gatherings. I see now that I'll always have a more intimate connection with my friend playing her Chaotic Good Half-Orc Barbarian than I would passing the salsa at a Super Bowl Party. There's a difference between being on, and rooting for, the same team.

I've laid in my bed typing for almost four hours now, in the dark of my room. It occurs to me, I need to buy better pillows.