Darkborn

I started this blog several years ago because I was inspired to get back into creating stories and drawing. Ultimately, I wanted to create a new comic. As some of you may know, many moons ago I had two comics online, but when I finished them... I just stopped. I didn't start another one. A lot of that was due to life things and spending way too much time gaming, but the other issue was that I felt my last two attempts severely fell short due to poor story planning. I wanted my next comic story to be fully thought out and created properly. That, however, caused me to over-examine everything I came up with... so time dragged on and on. But, finally, many many years, ideas, games, and more life issues later, I think I finally managed to create a story I feel confident with, and I'm excited to get it started. It took a while, but some things can't be helped. It's not a work of art by any means, but it will hopefully be a fun little comic.

Darkborn

As the title states, the new comic is called Darkborn. It takes place in an average town and follows a teen girl named Azilina Cross. What most don't know is that she comes from a long lineage of monster hunters that are part of the mysterious Venatores Council. However, Azia's parents disappeared five years ago during one of their monster hunts. Azia didn't have much time to adjust before she was thrusted into a foster home. Azia's life was fairly dark for several years with her family familiar, Jax, as her only real friend. But she recently began to train to hunt monsters with the help of Jax. Through her training and hunting monsters Azia really hopes to find her parents... or at least learn what happened to them, which leads her on an adventure she never could have imagined. It's a dark world filled with monsters at every corner and it is the job of Hunters to find and kill them. Will Azia succeed and find her parents or will she become some monster's next meal?

The story took me a few months to plan, but much of it was based off older story ideas that I cobbled together to create this one. It quickly took on a life of its own. I plan to explain the process I used in more detail down the road, but I found that using a mind-mapping program really helped me to quickly plan the story out. From there I used Scrivener to start scripting the individual comic pages.

I'm currently working on the initial comic pages that will launch with the Darkborn website. Many are already sketched out and I'll be inking and coloring them soon. The website itself is mostly ready to go, it just needs some more polish and information about the comic.

Things are coming together. The Darkborn website should launch in the coming weeks. I'll do my best to post updates on my tumblr and twitter, so please follow so you can keep up to date on its progress. I'll see you all then!

 

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Desk Diary 4-9-2016

Annnd... I'm back! So! I had a bit of a long "pause." A... three year pause, in fact. It's amazing how much can change in a couple years, but also how fast time flies by! I'm still working on my next webcomic, but for now here's a little update on some things that happened since my last post.

Over the last couple months I've been redesigning this site, updating it with a new look. I even added a couple new posts and updated some old ones. This is my first new Desk Diary to "officially" kick off the site's reboot. But it wouldn't be a proper "Desk Diary" without some new loot, gadgets and news. I've received a lot things since my last Desk Diary. So let's get to it!

First up is some computer add-ons. During my time in Final Fantasy XIV I really needed to upgrade my graphics card, and so I got a very nice NVidia 770 GTX. It's been a great card ever since. Then, as things go with me it seems, I had to replace yet another monitor. I now have a large 27" LG IPS LED display. I was not super eager to get an LED, but they are pretty much the only choice these days. My past experience with LED displays has left me wanting, especially in the color department. Thankfully times have changed and IPS is much more affordable. IPS LED displays produce much much better colors than the older LED displays. I'm very happy with this one. I also got my Corsair RGB K70 keyboard, which I made a post about.

As I started to become more confident that my webcomic was getting off the ground, one thing I wanted to help me along was a tablet that I could draw on. I have tried to do this on my iPad, but I was never fully happy with the results. I've had my eyes on the new Microsoft Surface Pro for a while and was able to get a refurbished one several months ago. It's a full computer with an i5 processor. I am able to run all my creative programs on it, and with Dropbox, I can work on files between both of my computers. Best of all it also has a Wacom digitizer in it, so I am able to draw on it just about as well as on my Cintiq. I really like this little thing. If I had one complaint it's that I'm very used to the "instant on" of my iPad as well as the long battery life, both things the Surface is lacking in. Who knows though... those iPad Pros are looking pretty interesting.

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Last year my computer was starting to die on me. I rarely have had my computers simply just fritz out on me to this extent. The best I can tell is that my motherboard's internal overclocking protection feature was freaking out. I never overclocked my computer, but it kept warning me when I booted up that something was wrong with my overclocking! For a time I was able to bypass it with a little trick and as long as I kept the computer on it was fine. However, every time I had to reboot it was a gamble. Eventually it got to the point it would just refuse to boot almost at all. It was time for a new computer.

With so much thanks to a dear friend, I was able to get a new computer and it's a really nice one. It has an Intel i7 4790K CPU running at 4GHz, 16GB of ram, a 500GB Samsung EVO SSD, and it's all running on an Asus H97 Pro motherboard inside a Corsair Graphite 230T case. Whew! That's a mouthful! I also upgraded to Windows 10. Point is, it's a nice computer and has been running great since I built it!

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No new computer is complete without some new software. I wanted to set myself up with the creative programs that I'll use for my webcomic and websites. First thing I installed is the creative staple, PhotoShop. Thankfully, for the not-so-rich like me, Adobe has a nice subscription plan on their Creative Cloud that lets you have the latest Photoshop as well as Lightroom for $10 a month. This is the perfect pair of programs for my needs. I use PhotoShop for most of my design work and Lightroom is great for adjusting my photos for this blog.

Next up is a program I hope to learn and use for my webcomic called Manga Studio EX5. It is a paint program specifically designed for making comics. So far it seems very competent. EX is the "pro" version of Manga Studio that features a way to have all your comic pages in one window so that you can switch between them. This is great for the planning stages and thumbnailing all the pages for a given chapter. I've already started to use this feature to thumbnail my webcomic. It also has a variety of rulers for drawing in perspective. It has nice tools for creating frames to keep your layers organized. Of course, it also has extensive tools for word balloons.

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Finally, some time ago I picked up a writing program to help me organize and work on my story ideas, and I can't say enough about how nice it is to have a tool like this. It's called Scriviner and it's a program that is, really, an idea organization tool. It has many ways to add and view data, mainly text and images. You can have a folder for ideas and put images and text in that. You can then organize your story ideas using virtual index cards so that you can move them around. This part alone is wonderful for working out story ideas. When you're ready you can start writing out scenes. It is great for working from big, general, ideas down to more detailed ideas. I've been using this program for some time and it's been a great help!

I'm really excited to get my webcomic going! It's taken me a long time and a lot of fighting with myself, but I'm getting closer!

It's a new year and a I'm ready to get going with all these new tools and plans. I hope you'll join me! Now I just hope I don't get sidetracked again or lost in the abyss of another game. >.<

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In My Spare Spare Time

When I’m not spending my spare time working on a creative project, I spend some more spare time on one of my many hobbies. Like most people, I love music and movies. I can't work without some sort of music playing. I pretty much like all styles of music, but typically my favorites range from dance, industrial, pop, rock, and 70s/80s/90s classics with a little bit of metal on the side. I also enjoy cartoons, anime, and movies, but rarely have time to watch them. Comics have been a part of my life since I was fairly young. Today I typically buy digital comics and the occasional trade paperback, but I have my small collection of comics that I like to look at for inspiration, as well.

Beyond those fairly average interests, I have two other hobbies, one a little more uncommon than the other.

Where I tend to waste most of my spare spare time, and the one hobby I'm probably most obsessed with, is gaming (video games), primarily MMORPGs. I started playing video games back with the Sega Master System in the late '80s. Today I don't play many console games, but I do own an Xbox One, PS3, and 3DS. My primary gaming system of choice is the PC. I really love games that provide me with a vast world that I can freely explore. For single-player games I gravitate to open-world games such as Oblivion, Skyrim, GTA, Saints Row, and the likes. I may enjoy a good RPG now and then as well like Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Persona, and Final Fantasy. Also, going all the way to my first computer game on the Amiga, Test Drive, I always love a good racing game. My favorites include Test Drive Unlimited, Forza Horizon and The Crew.

However, like I said, my biggest gaming addiction is MMORPGs—online role-playing games. Not because they are online, mind you, but because they tend to provide an ever expanding world (with regular updates) that I can explore and that feel alive. This obsession was started with an innocent little invite to play Anarchy Online with some friends. Since then I've played nearly every major MMO released as well as amassing several collector's edition game boxes. Most recently I've played/been playing Guild Wars 2, World of Warcraft, and Final Fantasy XIV. While I tend to dabble in almost every MMO, I have spent most of my play time in those three.

Guild Wars 2 is an MMO that tried to break the standard MMO formula. I think one of the highlight of this game is the sense of camaraderie you get when it's essential that other players you are not even grouped with help each other out to defeat an enemy. They made quests into events that happen in real-time in the world and they removed the typical trinity of class roles. In many ways it's a breath of fresh air, but sometimes there is something to be said that when it's not broke there is no need to fix it.

World of Warcraft is, for many, the staple of the genre. While it is getting on in years now, it has continued to be the elephant in the room for a decade now. Almost no other game provides worlds as large and varied as WoW. WoW is simply MASSIVE! There is so much to explore! I don't think any other game feels as close to a real world as WoW does just by the sheer size of it alone. Add to that the deep and still growing lore with solid, tried and true, features and mechanics and you really can't deny the strength of this game.

Then you have the new kid on the block, Final Fantasy XIV, the little MMO that could. This game broke history when it "failed" with its original release and was then rebuilt into a new game that has since been a success in its own right. Final Fantasy XIV has taken cues from many other games and made a polished and solid MMO. It is closest to WoW in mechanics and features, but they took each of those and made them new and modern. It has a friendly community due to the fact that a single character can be all jobs and roles. It isn't uncommon to really feel like you're part of a community when you see the same faces for years on end.

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Finally my second, and somewhat uncommon, hobby is Ball-Jointed Dolls, or BJDs. These are a class of doll made typically out of resin plastic or a type of rubber and are put together utilizing ball joints to allow movement. They greatly range in style and size and are typically made to order or sold as limited editions.

Many collect BJDs because they can be completely customized and are a great beautiful form for photography. Some BJDs can truly be considered works of art. Personally, the best thing about them for me is the customization. It allows you to create your own characters in a physical form. When I learned about these dolls I became really intrigued. There is a large community built around them along with a large variety of little items that are, in themselves, amazing. I currently own two BJDs and several Dollfie Dreams. They are all SD sized, which is about 2 feet tall.

So that about sums up my hobbies. Some are fairly average, while others are a bit unique. I think hobbies really say a lot about a person. What are some of your unique hobbies?

 

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When I Grow Up

Like many artists, when asked about my creative background I usually start by saying something like, "I've been drawing for as long as I can remember." However, was this always what I wanted to do? How did I actually get started down this path?

Old Drawing As far as I can remember I was never one of those kids that wanted to be a fireman or a doctor. As a child of the '80s I fell in love with all the great cartoons and comics of the time. They really helped introduce me to a variety of imaginative worlds. When I was very young I remember asking my father to draw characters for me and I was so amazed at watching him draw. My father wasn't an artist, but he did well enough that I would ask him to draw many things. This lead me to try and draw on my own.

During grade school my friends and I were all big fans of Transformers. We would spend our lunch break drawing our own Transformers. I built up a whole collection of images. Drawing big robots actually helped me learn about perspective, especially when I tried to draw them so they looked tall and towering.

I didn't stop there, though. So enthralled to create my own robots I actually made my own out of poster board, in full three dimension, even with the ability to transform. I was creating my own "paper craft" without even knowing that was a thing.

During my years in middle school I was exposed to many new creative avenues. I think this time was the most pivotal for me. Around this time I was very much into superhero comic books. My free time was often spent drawing new characters and coming up with my own superheroes. A friend of mine actually paid me to draw him superhero images. These were my first commissions. Soon I found myself being approached by a variety of girls in the school asking for a portrait sketch from their own class photos. Imagine my eagerness to please my new clients.

waxaAround this time I had a crush on a little mermaid, which spurred a great interest in animation. I started to read books about animation and its history and dreamt up my own animated cartoons.

But most importantly, also around this time, my father was working for a local TV station, which was eventually sold to another network. During the transition he had the station mostly to himself. I spent a lot of time there learning and playing with all the expensive equipment. We even had some fun making our own skits à la SNL. It wasn't all fun and games. He had to produce local commercials and I would often help him out. Our home always had a bevy of electronics since my father was a technician by trade, so I was no stranger to camcorders and the like.

My experience at the TV station lead me to one piece of equipment that I believe greatly changed the course of my future. It was a little known computer called the Amiga. At the station it was used to create a variety of graphics—usually titles. I spent a lot of time playing with that machine, especially in my first paint program, Deluxe Paint. With this I created my first digital images and even animations. Some of my animations were even used in commercials my father produced.

rivaBy the time I started high school I had a fair amount of experience under my belt with drawing and computer graphics, but I didn't stop there. I took classes in photography, print, art, and video production. I even tired my hand in airbrushing on the side. Image Comics was an obsession of mine around this time and my desire to draw comics was stronger than ever. I even teamed up with a friend to draw our own as a team, much to the disdain of our art teacher.

Windows-based computers were becoming much more powerful around this time and the internet was starting to take shape. I was beginning to learn 3D graphics with Imagine 3D at home and in school I was learning Photoshop on our Macintosh computers—coloring in my comic drawings.

Our high school had a pretty extensive video production class. We made our own morning news show for the whole school. There they had a little marvel of a computer called the Video Toaster by Newtek, which just happened to be bundled with a 3D animation program called Lightwave. No one in the class knew how to use it, not even the teachers. I spent many hours after school hunkered over the large manual learning the program on my own. I was eventually producing 3D animated titles for the variety of shows we produced for the school. It was a really exciting time for me.

By the mid 90's Toy Story had hit the theaters, anime was exploding on US TV, and Netscape was the browser of choice. My love of 3D had kept growing and Pixar certainly helped motivate me even more. Lightwave became a standalone program and I was eager to use it on my personal computer at home. I was working in several creative odd jobs as well, such as a local print TV guide and a clothing embroidery shop. With the fast-paced growth of the internet I became intrigued to create my own website. I printed out a large "how-to" for coding your own website in HTML and got to work with a text editor and a paint program.

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xamraI found myself working in web design not long after. At the time web designers were in short supply, so work was easy to come by in my local town.

By the end of high school I was looking at various colleges. My life up to that point was filled with creative endeavors. It was clear that I needed a school that catered to that. I was set on becoming a creative professional. I eventually attended Full Sail University in Florida. I went to Full Sail mainly to start a career in 3D animation. Unfortunately, that never came to pass.

When I graduated with my associates it was much easier to find work for web design than break into 3D animation. And that is what I ended up doing for many years. That didn't stop me from continuing to create my characters and stories in my free time. After work I would spend time developing new stories, which lead me to create a couple online comics for a few years.

The rest is pretty much history. I had found my love of creating characters and worlds from a pretty young age. Growing up in the '80s with amazing cartoons and comics certainly seemed to help enchant my creative young mind to learn to draw. My early exposure to computer graphics and later 3D and web design seemed to really help me hit my creative stride to where I am today.

What will happen next? Hopefully this fresh new site will help answer that. It has been several years since my last personal creative project. There are still many characters and worlds I'd like to explore and share. Hopefully I can finally get some of them off the ground. Who knows were it may lead.

To be continued.

 

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Final Fantasy XIV

Final Fantasy XIV. The game that did what no other has before it. When Final Fantasy XIV launched in late 2010 it received poor reviews. As someone that always respected Square Enix from all the way back to when they were Squaresoft and having spent a fair amount of time in Final Fantasy XI, I was really looking forward to this new MMORPG. At this point I was sick of all the free to play MMOs out there and tired of being burned when an MMO I liked switched to free to play (Tera!). I wanted this game to succeed. I wanted a game with developers that made actual content and expansions instead of items to sell in a cash shop.

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I wasn't as negative about the game as many others were, but soon after it launched most of my friends stopped playing. I tried to continue on my own and I played off and on, but eventually I stopped playing as well. As did many people. The game was doing so bad that the company suspended subscriptions and a new development team took over led by an unknown Naoki Yoshida.

After some patches here and there they announced they would be re-releasing the game with a new engine, content and revamped gameplay. This was unheard of in the industry. Most games in this state would have just switched to free to play. However, due to the fact that "Final Fantasy" is a brand, Square Enix couldn't let this happen.

I was really happy to hear they were going to re-launch the game. I eagerly waited for it to come out. I can safely say this game is one of the main reasons I disappeared for almost three years.

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Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn was launched in August 2013. I played the beta, bought the new Collectors Edition, and I also was a "Legacy" account since I subscribed to the original version during the time they were developing the revamp. I was very excited to play this and it was all well worth the wait. The new version (2.0) was polished and filled with all new content. They didn't only add to the game, they completely remade it! It had all new zones, all new quests, a new user interface, and more. Every aspect of the game was reworked all the way down to the animations. About the only things that remained from the old version were the races, classes, main cities, and the lore of the game world.

They did it! They rebuilt a "failed" game... and it was a success.

During beta I joined a free company—a guild. I was making new friends, everyone was enjoying the game, and I even did a little role-playing. Things were great! My first class of choice to level was the newly added Summoner. The game was eating my time like nothing else, and I loved every minute of it.

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During my journey I tried out other classes. I was a Black Mage for a time and I also tried Scholar—the healing counterpart to Summoner. I found that I really enjoyed healing, but I was not a good Scholar, so I started to level a White Mage. I played a White Mage in Final Fantasy XI and it was the last time I played a healing class since they are typically, at least in my experience, not treated too well by other players. Here, however, surrounded by a great group of new friends, I was eager to heal again and help out in our group content.

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I became pretty good friends with one person, the leader of our guild, whom, after some months, left the game for personal reasons. This was pretty upsetting. Our little guild fell apart after that. I had become rather close to many of them. It was a heartbreaking situation. For a while I played some other MMOs as my heart wasn't in FFXIV after all that.

After a couple months, however, I returned to FFXIV with a couple friends from the original guild and I started a new guild for us. Together we saved up and bought a house. Little by little many of the old members joined us. I tried very hard to keep things going as they used to when we were the old group, but I couldn't really replace our old leader.

As these things go sometimes, drama happened. I had some troubles with one close friend of the group. I tried to deal with the situation and also keep things from escalate to the rest of the group, but it affected me and people could tell. To them I appeared to have lost interest. Around this time I fell in with a static raiding group. I had raided a little in WoW, but typically this was a part of MMOs that I didn't get involved with.

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Between raiding and trying to avoid causing issues with my guild and that one person, I was under lot of stress. I was also the White Mage for this new raiding group I was in, which was a new kind of stress and responsibility. I started to close off a little... a lot. I was getting worn out from it all. People started to drift from the guild and a lot of my play time was spent raiding or leveling and getting better gear for raiding.

Juggling the two things became impossible, and I became depressed, but I kept playing. For a long while this is how things continued. My guild eventually settled, but in a much quieter and smaller state. I met some new friends and lost some others. The old guild leader even returned off and on. My raiding group cleared all the raid content and I slowly became a competent healer. My character even got married! A lot happened and a lot of my life was wrapped up in this game and the people I played with. Yes, it was just a game, but the people I met there became a part of my life even outside of the game. We became a family of sorts... a somewhat dysfunctional one, but it was what it was.

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Then the first expansion came around—Heavensward. I was so glad to finally be playing an MMO that had a proper expansion. I was excited for all the new content. My raiding group, which by this point had been farming all the old raid content, was eager for the new challenges. We ate up the new content like locust, but it was great. The story was interesting, the new classes were... unique and flashy, and the new race was actually really cool. The new race was so cool that I changed my main character to it. By this point, and with everything that had happened, I was in desperate need for a change. Since I did role-play a little this caused some issues, but by this point the role-play in our group had been pretty scarce.

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I also tried the new healing class, the Astrologian. This was a pretty neat class. It had a lot of the skills and playstyle of a White Mage but with an added random card mechanic. It made playing a healer all the more engaging. Sadly when my raid group started on the new raid content, the Astrologian just was not tuned enough to handle the healing load at the time, so I went back to my White Mage.

I liked the expansion. It kept me playing for several more months, but by this point things with many of the people I had met in the game were strained. We had so much history that it almost felt like walking on ice in some cases. I would log in just expecting some issue to arise. I tried to keep my head low and play with the few that I had fun with, but there was always something looming. Why I had kept playing for this long started to become a thought in my mind. I loved the game, but the social aspect with some of the people I met and the issues that arose from it really killed the enjoyment of the game. I'm not the type of person to burn bridges. At the very least I try very hard not to. So I stayed in this... sort of mentally abusive relationship.

Eventually things started to come to a head. The raid content was extremely punishing. As a group we managed to defeat everything we came in contact with. We were a pretty tight little group. We knew each other's strengths and weaknesses. We managed to defeat the first two bosses of four of the new raid content, but the third was proving to be trouble for us. We spent weeks and weeks beating our heads against it. The mood around the game was low all around. Many other groups were falling apart. Some even gave up on the last two bosses and just farmed the first two.

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Morale was low. Eventually, after talking to others in our group, me and a couple others decided it was time to call it quits. We had been raiding for over a year and we were just not enjoying it anymore. I was so worn out from all the stress over the year that I needed a break.

With that, sadly, the raid group fell apart. The others seemed to feel the same. Many stopped playing altogether. Me and a couple others kept playing for a month or so, but eventually even we were getting to a point that it just wasn't in us anymore. That spark was gone.

As I write this it's been a few weeks since I last logged into Final Fantasy XIV. I have many fond memories of this game. I really did put my all into it. I met a lot of interesting people, made some great friends, learned a lot about myself, role-played, ran a guild, raided and played nearly all the content the game had to offer, and much more. I played this MMO for longer and more consistently than I have any other in my gaming history. Something that I think won't be soon replicated.

It was a good run... a great run! While I was often stressed, I will miss the good parts. It was my life for a long time. Some things I would not change for the world. Who knows... I may poke my head in Eorzea again someday and see how the world has changed, but for now it's time to explore new realms and also to work on personal projects again.

Final Fantasy XIV will always have a special place in my heart. I'll never forget. ♥

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Star Citizen - Constellation

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Have you ever wished you could captain your own starship—sit in the cockpit and fly from a station to a planet and maybe meet some friends in a local bar? Maybe you'd like to be a space pirate, living on the edge, or an explorer going to some unknown corners of space.

Ever since I was young I loved space and spaceships. I grew up on shows like Star Trek and cartoons such as Robotech. Soon we'll all be able to live out these fantasies in an upcoming game called Star Citizen. Star Citizen is currently the largest crowd-funded game in existence. To date it has raised over $102,000,000 from backers—average gamers that believe in the game—and I'm one of them.

Today a lot of gaming companies believe that the PC is a dead platform for gaming. Many companies have moved to developing games for smartphones and consoles. So when the creators of Star Citizen said that they wanted to make a PC game that pushes the envelope, PC gamers took notice and they took notice in a big way. The backers of Star Citizen are showing the big companies that we are here and we love PC gaming. Where else can you get state-of-the-art graphics and peripherals?

Star Citizen is a PC space simulator game unlike any other to date. It will be essentially two games in one. There will be a mostly single-player story called Squadron 42 and an online open-world universe. The story will be fully voiced and acted out by top-name actors such as Mark Hamill, Gary Oldman, Gillian Anderson, and John Rhys Davies, to name a few. It will be a story with choices and consequences, space battles and battleships with a "living" crew.

The open universe side takes place some time after the story. Here you are free to do just about anything you want in a nearly fully fleshed out sector of space containing 100s of star systems. You'll be able to explore space stations, fly around and land on planets, go down to a city and shop or hang around the bar, trade, mine, explore, fight, and much more.

Each spaceship is built out like any real machine. It has physical systems for power, life-support etc. You can modify the ship to fit any need you want. You can be a pirate, trader, explorer, miner, news reporter, salvager, racer... the list goes on and on.

I'm hardly doing the game justice with my simple descriptions. Some things you just have to see to believe. I've been a backer and following this game since 2013. Since then I've seen the game and community grow and grow. This game is making history.

When you back the game you pledge for a ship that you will receive in the game and access to the in-development modules of the game as they build them. It's an incentive to get more money into the game and to get your favorite ship with some other perks. When I initially backed the game in 2013 I was cautious, so I got a small package with a single-seater ship. Since then my faith in the game has grown, as well as my excitement. When they released their alpha 2.0, the first time you could see many elements of the game come together, I wanted to invest in the game even more.

And I did...

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I now am a proud owner of a Constellation Andromeda starship. It is a beautiful ship, one of the most iconic in the game. It is a large multi-purpose ship. It is also a multi-crew ship. One of the special features of Star Citizen is that you can fly a ship that is controlled by a crew. The Constellation has two turrets, a living area, a sizable cargo bay, and even a detachable fighter ship.

The ship is very detailed. No corner is without some paneling, wire or little LED light. Throughout you will see placeholders for the different components that allow the ship to function. Eventually these will be something you can open to access or replace with other, better, components. The front of the ship has three seats. The central one is for the pilot/captain. From there he can control most of the ships systems by himself. On either side are other seats that have their own consoles. From those one can control the shields or power at a finer level.

Behind those seats are the two turrets. Something right out of Star Wars, you can call a chair for the top or bottom turret and fire away at enemy ships. Behind that is a bulkhead with sliding doors that leads to the living cabin. Here you have an all-in-one bathroom, lockers, a bench and table, and some sleeping bunks that also double as escape pods. Also in this section is a hatch and the platform/airlock that allows you to leave and enter the ship.

Behind the living cabin, and another bulkhead door, you have the largest section of the ship, the cargo bay. Here a catwalk wraps around a large platform that can be lowered to place cargo. On either side are more hatches as well as the missile holding bays.

Finally, behind another bulkhead door is the little room that house the ship's power unit and sticking up from the floor is the cockpit for the detachable fighter ship, the P-52 Merlin. This little ship is a beautiful, aluminum-looking, ship that you would think was designed by Apple.

As someone that has done a fair share of 3D modeling, I can say this is a well made model. They put a lot of love and care into it. It took them 8 months, and you can tell.

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I can already imagine the adventures this ship and I will have. I can trade, explore, maybe even mine. I can tweak and upgrade her systems to make her even more powerful. Supply her with bigger guns and special missiles. Ships in Star Citizen will get dirty over time, they will pick up odd quirks. Caring for your ship will just make it feel all the more real and make you more attached and proud when she pulls through a sketchy situation.

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Star Citizen is still in development, but it is well on its way. I look forward to exploring the immersive universe they are creating on my Constellation in the near future. Be sure to check out their website. They have a lot of articles that explain the game systems in more detail and they have weekly videos that update you on the game's progress.

Maybe I'll see you in the verse!

 

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Corsair K70 Keyboard

After many years of good service, my Logitech Illuminated Keyboard was starting to show its age. The palm rest was going bald, the backspace was hanging on one hinge, and some of the keys were losing their coating. It was time for an upgrade.

But upgrade to what? I could have picked up another Logitech, but after dealing with a broken backspace button, I wanted something a little more sturdy. As an avid gamer, I've heard praise about these "clicky" "mechanical" keyboards. So I did my research. What I found was that, for one, there were a lot of choices and also a lot to learn.

Mechanical keyboards uses more traditional switches that harken back to the older keyboards of yester-year, but don't let that fool you. These are not the spring-based keyboards from your old IBM. These switches are sturdy and pretty straight forward. They come in a variety of flavors, usually identified by a color. Each one is built for a different purpose or with different options to fit the user's needs or comfort. Some keyboard companies make their own switches, but many use switches made by Cherry—a company that has been in the business since 1950.

For example, the more common Cherry switches are blue, red, and brown. Blue switches are one of the notorious "clicky" types. These are great for those that type a lot since it provides a click sound and a tactile bump letting you know that you actuated the key fully. Then on the other end is Red. This switch has no click or tactile bump. It is purely made for gaming, giving a no-resistant key with a short reset, which allows for quick double-tapping. Then you have something that is in-between, the brown switch. This has same specs as the red, but with the addition of the tactile bump.


With this knowledge I started to narrow down what keyboard I would want. There are several gaming mechanical keyboards lately sporting animated RGB LEDs. This allows for some pretty flashy animated keyboards. All the top mainstream companies have one—Logitech, Razer, and Corsair.

One that really caught my eye was the Corsair K70. It sports a few features that the others did not. It uses Cherry switches. If you're going to go with a mechanical keyboard, it seems sensible to go with one that uses switches from the company that is pretty much synonymous with mechanical keyboards. This keyboard is built on an aluminum frame. You almost never see a metal... anything anymore. So this stood out to me. They also went a step further and protected the LEDs with a plastic case. This serves two purposes. It enhances the glow of the LED under each key, it also protects the LED from static electricity created by the keys, which should help extend the life of the LEDs.

With that is was just a matter of picking a switch. At first I was going to go with the red switches. I game a lot and they say that is the switch for gaming, so it seemed the right choice. That was until I tested my current keyboard. I realized that when I pressed on the key the rubber dome under the key game me a little bump. I figured that I was likely so used to this that I didn't even realize it. I would likely realize it if it wasn't there. So that's when I decided that the brown switch was likely the best choice for me.

When I first got the keyboard I was a little intimidated by it. I had been using a chiclet keyboard for so long that the tall keys of this keyboard had me worried. First of all, this thing is heavy. It is also thick. It feels sturdy, no doubt about that. It sports media keys with are always a plus. The volume is a rolling dial made of metal. They keyboard has a switch to turn off the lights, which is very handy. It also has a button to lock the Windows key.

As with most modern keyboards today, it comes with software to control... well, just about everything. You can pick from a preset of animated LED color patterns. You can create your own with a fairly complicated keyframing window. There are some pretty neat presets. One that has the LEDs animated in a rainbow circle, one that goes from side to side, one that pulses colors outward from each key that you type. It's all rather neat and fancy, but it can get distracting. I tend to leave is on a slow color shift. You can control the speed of each preset, but even still. Too much motion, I find, tends to distract me. It is certainly something to set on a fancy setting when having guests over.


Some features I would have liked was a simple way to set a color per program. Say I launch a game and the keys change for that program, complete with certain shortkeys lit a different color. It would have also been nice to have a way for the keys to animate with whatever music you have playing. These features apparently can be added using user-created mods. Something I haven't toyed with yet.

EDIT: Having had the keyboard for a month now. I have to say that I've become pretty accustomed to it. Like anything, it just takes some time to get used to. I still haven't used any mods. I appreciate that if the keys ever wear down I can replace them. If one thing worries me it's that the palm wrest will likely start to look bad after some time. It seems to attract and show oils. Otherwise, I'm pretty happy with it and suspect with enough care it will last for some time.

So there you have it. The Corsair K70. A pretty robust, metal, flashy LED mechanical keyboard. It will take some getting used to, but I think it will work out in the long run. What sort of keyboard do you find works best for you?


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Smart Doll - Mirai

Some time ago I talked a little bit about Danny Choo in my post about the figma that was released based on his mascot, Mirai. I even did my own fanart image of that same character. Danny has been an inspirational figure for me for some time. He loves what he does and shares his excitement for his interests with the world on his blog. He's taken many of his ideas and worked his behind off to make them a reality. He never stops and he never gives up. He posts about his trials, and while it might seem like he's gone from one thing to the next over the years, he's never done any of them halfway.

He's taken his main character, Mirai, and several others from just an idea and some images to a true idol. His characters are all over the place now in Japan. I look at him and see someone with determination and a love for what he does. I only hope I can be so persistant.

Over the last year or so Danny has started a new endeavor, to create SD-sized dolls similar to Dollfie Dreams. He wants to make them motorized so that they can move and react, but first he made a "manual" version. He did everything himself. He researched, hired people, and little by little he managed to produce his own product, and it's doing well. So well he can only take small orders at a time and the line is long.

I was one of the few lucky enough to get my hands on a Mirai after the first few batches. I don't have a ton of time to take photos of her, but here are a couple.

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She came in a clear plastic case wrapped in bubble wrap. She also came with a couple cards and a signed "Thank you" note. For a product that is not being mass-produced this is amazingly professional packaging. A real display of Danny's attention to detail.

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She came complete with some really well-made clothes. The shirt and pants are quiet amazing, really. The beany hate and magnetic hairclip are a nice touch. She also comes with socks, shoes, a wig, and panties. The shoes are simply... unreal. Since his father is a fairly well known shoe designer, it's not terribly surprising. Her wig is also very nice. It has her two signature braids and is fairly well stylized to match her look. She also comes with a unique stand. There is a "port" on her back that you can place the single, telescoping stand to lean her against. It's fairly stable and it allows you to hid it by cleverly angling when taking photos.

She looks amazing! My photos don't really do her much justice. I'm grateful that Danny gave me the opportunity to get her. He was very nice in our email exchanges. I was also very excited to get a response from someone I've followed for some time. ^^

Mirai will be with me on my desk reminding me to keep moving forward, have fun, smile, and never give up! "You can do it!"

 

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Pause

Yes, for those that might be wondering, I'm still alive. As you know from reading my posts, I've spent the last couple years trying to get my webcomic off the ground with little success. I've recently decided that I need to "pause" my internet postings until I'm actually ready and done with all the "planning parts" and am actually well into the "doing parts". I think that in posting my slow progress that my confidence has waned. While I had hoped that I could share my progress as I went along, I think that it has become, in part, the cause for my lack of moving forward. Since every time I mention a little progress I've tended to backtrack and each time felt disappointed that I had to keep dragging it out in my posts, just like this one. Ever expressing that "Yes, I'm still working on something." This, in the end, hasn't helped me at all.

SO! This is why I'm going to put all this on "pause." I'm going to work on my ideas at my own pace. This is the reason I haven't posted in a while, and so far I think it has helped since I've made good progress. Hopefully in a couple months time I will come out of my hole and have something to show that is complete and not just vague ideas.

Wish me luck and I'll see you soon!

 

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Rise

Today I'd like to share with you something special that I have been lucky enough to get my hands on. With the help of the same friend that spoiled me in the past, I was able to get a Rise Kujikawa head. She is a character from the Persona 4 RPG.

The reason that I wanted her, though, is because she is unique. Her face is a bit more "realistic" than the typical Dollfie Dream with a molded nose, lips, and smaller eyes. She is almost a mix between my BJDs and my other Dollfie Dreams. And while I really like my BJDs, due to the fact that they are resin, there are many precautions you have to take with them. I keep mine in their boxes because I don't want to risk damaging them. Dollfie Dreams, on the other hand are a bit more rugged. They are also easy to repair or you can buy replacement parts. They also don't yellow in sunlight, so I don't mind keeping them out.

For me Rise is like having the best of both worlds. She has a face that is closer to my BJDs with the more durable body of a Dollfie Dream.

Here are a few photos I took of her:

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I put her on my Melty uni-body, which is a unique Dollfie Dream body that has a single piece torso (unlike the typical chest and bottom setup). I really like how she looks. She's quickly becoming one of my favorites. I have to thank my friend, again, for helping me get her.

 

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