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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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...


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.




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.


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!



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?



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.


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.


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!"




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!




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:


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.



Desk Diary 4-2-2013

It's been a while since I posted anything. I've been pretty busy with several things. In any event, I have a few items to share that I received over the last few months.

Some time ago I posted about a package I got from a friend and hinted at what was inside. As life goes, I didn't get a chance to show what it was for some time. Since then that same friend has continued to be my enabler and helped me with a few more...

Three more, to be exact.

The mystery item was in fact a Sakuya head from "Shining Blade." One that I mentioned that I wanted since she's from the same series and sculptor as my first two. Here are a few quick photos of her:

She looks amazing! I also got her default wig and I love it. This is the only default wig that I'm actually using. Along with the head and wig, I got her really cool black katana (sword)!

But my friend didn't stop there. Some time later my friend helped me with a nearly complete Melty from "Shinning Hearts." I was floored since she was super popular and hard to get. Here are a few shots of her:


As if that wasn't enough, my friend sent me a "white skin" Lucy head. It's my first white skin Dollfie Dream. I had to order the body as separate parts since they don't sell the white skin bodies as a complete item. I also got her a really neat pastel blue wig and glasses. I still want to get her some eyes and an outfit. I have no photos of her together yet, but soon!

(Sorry for the poor quality phone photos)


I obviously can't thank my friend enough. I'm so spoiled and will forever be indebted.

Finally, I got a New iPad. My first generation iPad was starting to really struggle with newer apps. It has been a really great device and I don't think I could live without a tablet at this point. I had hoped to use my iPad as a digital sketchpad, but the iPad is not really made for that. No stylus I used really worked out too well.

Before getting the new iPad I tried out an Android tablet. I have been using my Android phone for a while and I thought that maybe an Android tablet would be a good upgrade from my old iPad. I got the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. This tablet has a digitizer with a pen. However, in the end, I didn't much care for it. There is a major app deficit on the Android tablets. The pen, while better than my options on the iPad, was not that great either. Maybe in time they will have more apps, but for now... not so much, so I returned it.

Now I have a shiny new iPad! There is not much to really say about it. It has better everything and a very nice Retina display, which is really impressive. The resolution is so high that it makes some images online look pixelated. In either case, I know I'll put this iPad to good use as it helps me with my projects.



Creating Worlds

As I attempt to reenter the realm of story-making I've been trying to figure out ways to make the process easier and more manageable for myself. It's usually easy to come up with an idea, but to take that idea and make it something that has a beginning, middle and end with compelling situations and characters can be a whole different animal.

I'm no expert on this, not even close. My track record is anything but mediocre at best. However, creating stories, characters, and worlds has been an activity that I've enjoyed doing since I was a kid. I'm currently trying to develop stories for two potential personal projects. I had little problem coming up with the general ideas for both. In fact, I have several ideas that I like, many were started years before. The first problem was to narrow them down. In the end I decided on two ideas that seem interesting and fun and are also something that I think I can handle. I was even able to combine a couple ideas together to make them more layered.

I have plans for both of these ideas, but that's not what I want to talk about here. I want to give some tips I've come up with to help me develop these ideas into full stories. So if, like me, you have your idea(s), you can picture it in your head, but it's not a complete story, what next?


The most important thing for a story is to have compelling characters, so this is likely the next best place to start. We need to figure out whom or what will move the story forward. Who is the good guy and who or what will try to stop them? We need conflict. You've likely heard the phase man versus man, man versus himself, and man versus nature. These are the bases for story conflict. It doesn't always have to be another person that's causing the problem, so keep that in mind.

Usually when you have a story idea in mind you will know, vaguely, who the characters will be, but they aren't usually very fleshed out. We'll work on that in later steps. The main thing is to have in mind who the characters are in the story. Don't be afraid to add more characters or remove some and never be afraid to kill off a character if it will move the idea forward.

Also keep in mind relationships between the characters. Do they get along? Are they related? These things can be useful in developing more story ideas.


The next thing is to try and drum up as many scene ideas as we can. Knowing the characters and the overall story idea we should be able to think of some interesting scenes that we'd like to have in our story. Order is not important here. What we want to do is basically create a catalog of ideas. Don't worry about how much they make sense. You might not use them in the end or you may merge some later on.

The trick here, and for any story development, is to keep asking "what if?" What if the character runs away? What if they have an unknown brother? What if they get hit by a car? These kind of questions can easily spark scene ideas.

One of the most crucial scenes we need to think of here is the ending. This is something that may take a long time to develop. It is, after all, the crux of the whole story. We don't even need to know how it happens yet, we just need to have an ending. If unsure, you can try to think of a couple endings. If you can't come up with an ending then the next phase will likely help.

Work on both of these parts for a while. Let the ideas "cook" in your head. Give it a couple days or even weeks, each day try to add more ideas. When you get to a point that you just can't come up with more ideas, move on to the next part.


At this point we need some fresh ideas. It also doesn't hurt to see how other stories are setup. We should find some inspiration to get ideas. I'm not talking about stealing ideas here. That's never a good idea. Get it? Ahem... Anyway, we can learn a lot from other sources and it will likely spark more ideas. Look at books, comics, and movies etc. It's likely that your original story idea was sparked from something you read or saw. Try to find stories that have elements similar to your idea. It doesn't even have to be the same genre. We're looking mainly for character development. What has a character in it in a situation similar to your character?

I like to watch TV shows and movies. This way I can see and more easily feel the character's emotion. It's also faster than reading a novel. Yes, I'm lazy. The point is to, again, gather as many ideas as we can. I usually will write down little things anything to spark more "what if" questions. For example: I saw a fight scene where someone got thrown out the window. I had no idea if I could use that, but it was an exciting and scary moment in the show, so I wrote it down.

I don't just jot down scene ideas, I'll also pick out character traits—"Likes animals" "Hates smoke" "Is afraid of heights." I can use these to help flesh out my characters.

Again spend a couple days or weeks on this part of the process. I keep adding all these things to my "idea list" on my iPad. That way they are in one place an I don't have to worry about losing papers etc.

Once you have collected a decent amount of fresh ideas, go to the next step.


With all our ideas gathered it's time to test ourselves. We came up with as many ideas as we could and we did research. Let's see how far we've come. At this point we should create a list. I will usually start with a numbered list of, say, 10 or 12 chapters and then test myself to see how many chapters I can fill in. I figure that the first two chapters are the introductions, where we learn about the character(s) and are met with the first challenge that sets the stage for the rest of the story. Then I go to the bottom of the list and put the ending. Then I'll fill in a couple chapters before the ending. These are the lead-in chapters, the build up to the final conflict.

With that in place I'll have a few chapters left over to fill in. Here is where all those ideas come into play. We can start to figure out where some of those idea can play into the overall story. Can some of them lead into other ideas? Can we make connections between scene ideas? Do we need a new character to move things along?

If we can't fill in all those chapters then we need to go back and find more ideas or try to combine some of the ones we have. You can repeat this process until you have all the chapters filled in. The ideal situation is to have more ideas than chapters slots on the list. You don't want to add too many unneeded chapters. Going from 10 chapters to 100 is likely not a good sign. You should always make sure that each chapter and each scene moves the story forward. If it doesn't, and it's just fluff, then you should remove it or merge it with a scene that does move things forward.

By this point we should have a decent idea of what's going on in our story. We should have a very basic outline. From here we need to refine and add detail.

The basic process here overall is to start with very broad strokes and then slowly narrow things down to the details. This way we never get overwhelmed with the details from the start. We work towards that slowly so that we can always see the whole picture. This is actually true for drawing too.

If you get stuck then either something is preventing the story from taking shape or, more likely, there is an idea that's blocking other ideas from connecting. Something else you can try is to take all the ideas you gathered place them on index cards and try to jumble them around to see what ideas crop up. Place a couple cards in random order and see what you get. You may be surprised. It's all about sparking an idea.

And finally, talk to others. By talking to friends and family about your ideas you may find that ideas just jump out at you in the process of explaining it. Or they may ask you a question that forces you to think of an answer. If the idea sounds bad while you explain it, it's likely that you'll need to keep working on it.

Always write down ideas. Don't let them slip your mind. An iPad is great for that "nighttime idea" that you think of as you are trying to fall asleep. Just be sure the glowing screen doesn't bother others.

Of course, there are many other ways to develop a story. This is just a method that seems to work for me.



Enter Kanami

This post has been a long time coming. Many months ago I received my limited Dollfie Dream 06 head. She was my first "floating head," as they call it. Finally, after nearly six months, she is complete. So I'd like to introduce Kanami, my third Dollfie Dream.

I was lucky enough to get this limited head thanks to a close friend. I was missing a key component, however, a body. I wasn't able to get a body for her for a long time due to a lack of funds and the Dollfie Dream body supply shortage that spanned most of this year and continues to this day. However, if you read my last desk diary you will have caught images of a recently acquired Dollfie Dream Dynamite body and some clothes. With all the pieces finally in place, my third girl is here.


With her striking red hair and Dollfie Dream Dynamite body, which is more "curvy" than the standard body type, she has a unique look compared to my other Dollfie Dreams.


Of course, like the other girls, she's trained to fight! Thanks for following along as my third Dollfie Dream came together.




Desk Diary 9-10-12

Well, it's been a little over two months since my last desk diary post. I've been pretty busy (gaming) and thus haven't posted much (leveling), but it's time for some updates and, of course, new loot!

First things first, an update on the webcomic project. My friend recently called this my "white whale," but hopefully this won't have such a tragic ending. For the last several months I've been bouncing between two main ideas. Lately I have been thinking of combining many of my favorite aspects of both. I think I'm close. I still want to get this started before the end of the year. That doesn't give me much time. I tend to work well under pressure, so hopefully a deadline will force me to get this project started.

In doll news -many- things have happened, some of which I'll share below. For now I'll say that my desk has suddenly become a little more crowded. I'm -still- waiting for some things I pre-ordered almost a year ago. Volks has been very much slammed this year due to that pre-order event. They are just now starting to ship out the last batch of orders, my stuff included (hopefully). There are already rumors of another pre-order event coming. With the shortage of regular items this year, one has to wonder if things will ever settle with all these events. It also goes to show how much this hobby has grown in popularity over the last couple years.


In gaming news... we'll let's be honest, I've been sucked into a handful of new games that were launched this year, which hasn't helped my productivity. I had mentioned in my 2012 post that the games coming out this year could potentially suck away a lot of my free time, and that prediction has become mostly true. In that post I had mentioned I was playing Star Wars: The Old Republic at the time, I had quit that game not long after that post, as have many others. It's going "Free to Play" later this year, nuff said. For a time after that there wasn't really a game distracting me. That is until Tera launched earlier this year. That game has been the main time-sink for me this year. I'm still playing Tera, which I talked about at length in its own post.

Since then the other games that I mentioned in my 2012 post have also been released. I played The Secret World from launch, and while I do like its unique modern-day-mixed-with-horror-films style, it was fairly buggy and a bit unforgiving in its gameplay. While a challenge is nice, sometimes I prefer the more casual stuff. It also had some stiff character animations and a lack of character customization. The combat was decent. Working on finding a "build" that worked for you was interesting as were the unique quests and stories. However, All MMOs need a time to grow and expand, so it's definitely one I may check out again down the road, but for now I have stopped playing it.

Next up, and most recent, is Guild Wars 2. The most hyped MMO of the year. Did it live up to that hype for me? Yes and no. It's a wonderful game and very pretty (not Tera pretty, but still really nice), and it really does break many of the not-so-great and over-used MMO mechanics, but some of what they claimed didn't really pan out. The dynamic quest system, while great overall, doesn't really give that sense of making lasting changes to the world. They restart rather quickly. While this makes sense from a gameplay perspective, it does kinda make the game feel a bit like a theme park, not like a WoW (World of Warcraft) theme park, but a different kind of, and certainly more fun and active, theme park. That doesn't actually bother me at all, though. Heck, Tera is a prime example of the old-style WoW theme park setup. The combat is, at its core, a target based system, but you can attack while moving. Some of the personal missions can be a bit brutal as well. My favorite part of the game is that they encourage you to explore. This aspect is the gem of this game to me. They have added a lot of little hidden areas to the game and even some rather fun and challenging jumping puzzles. Overall, it's a well-polished and well-made game. Since you only have to buy the game once and there is no subscription fee, there is really no reason to not play this game. It's one I'll certainly be playing for some time to come (sucking away more of my free time).

Finally (yes, it does end), a game that was released two years ago this month may be making a comeback and has me eager to try it again. Two years ago Final Fantasy XIV launched with a less than stellar reception. It was so bad that the game suspended its subscription fee for many months. While I didn't completely agree that the game was a total failure as some others, it did have some holes and lack of content. Most of the original team was taken off the project and a new, untested, game director was handed the reigns. Square Enix has been determined to push forward. You have to give them credit. Other MMOs would have buckled and failed under similar circumstances. However, not only has this new team and director attempted to fix a lot of the problems, late last year they stated their plans to take things a step further with a project that would almost completely remake the whole game. This is something that has never been done before and just recently the first signs of this "2.0" version have begun to surface. I'm very interested to see how this pans out. I had a lot of faith in SE when the game was released and I still think they can pull this off. So this is the next MMO that I'm looking forward to trying... again, especially when I learned there will be a new summoner job. I really respect them for working this hard to please their customers. They have taken a lot of polls and kept the players in the loop. I think they deserve a second chance. I know I'll be there opening day. I already have "Legacy" status for supporting the game during this rough period. It should be interesting.

Okay! Now on to the loot. There have been several items that have come my way over the last couple months that I meant to post about but didn't have the time (gaming), so I'm going to post them all here in one go.

First off I bought some new items for my computer. My hard drives have been nearly full for a long time, so I bought a new 3TB hard drive to ease the pain. I also picked up a new keyboard and mouse.


This is the new Logitech G600 gaming mouse. I wasn't sure if I would like this mouse at first. I picked it up on impulse. The mass of button on the side were intimidating at first, but I have to say that it really has grown on me. I've been a "clicker" for most of my computer gaming years until I was "forced" to use the keyboard for combat in Tera. Now this mouse has taken me to the next step with executing commands all from the buttons on the side of the mouse. I don't know if I'll be able to go back.

Since I take a lot of photos for this site I'm always struggling with my lighting. Usually I just deal with whatever light I have, but normal room lights tend to be yellow and I don't always have sunlight. So I finally saved up and got a proper lighting kit. I couldn't afford anything super crazy. I also didn't want to deal with lights that gave off a lot of heat. After much searching I found the Flora light set by Linco. They use florescent light bulbs and have pretty ingenious softboxes.

The softboxes are a sort of umbrella deal. You just pull a string and they open up and snap into place. The diffusing cloth attaches with some Velcro and it's all set. The softbox sits in the grooves in the light base which kinda looks like a flower, hence the set's name. Setup is not too bad, another thing that was important to me. They do take up some room, though, but I can tell they are improving my photos a lot. They seem to be made pretty well. Some parts are plastic, but as long as I'm careful with them I'm sure they will last for some time. They also came with carrying cases. It's a really nice set and I'm glad I got them.


I picked up a new Blu-Ray anime called "Samurai Girls." I haven't finished it yet, but it's a silly haram story with some unique animation styles. I'm not really sure what I think of it yet. It has some cute and funny moments, but some of the over-the-top stuff isn't really my thing. The "fan-service" is nice, though.

As I mentioned above, I've been playing Guild Wars 2. Since I had a feeling it was going to be a good game I pre-ordered the Collector's Edition, which sold out soon after. I'm glad I took the plunge. The box for it is -massive- and contains a lot of nice goodies.


Inside is the massive Rytlock statue and a sizable tin case. Everything about this CE is big.


Inside the tin case is a collection of items. A portfolio with prints, a picture frame, an "Behind the Scenes" artbook, a soundtrack sampler and the game discs.


And last but not least is the Rytlock statue. He is one of the main characters in the story from the Destiny's Edge guild. He is also a Charr, the race that was the main enemy from the previous game. He's quite massive and hefty, fairly well painted and detailed and his Rurik "flaming" sword is pretty cool.


It's a really nice and well-made collector's edition. I'm glad I got it. Now where to put it...

I also got some doll loot. Some I didn't plan on while others were nice surprises. First I got a couple little things from Volks. Some cute hands and another wig cap.


I've been on the lookout for a body for my limited 06 head for many months, but due to the Volks pre-order event from last year, bodies have been in a major short supply and nearly impossible to get. However, I managed to snag a slightly used one from a member on the Dollfie Dreams forum.


This one is a Dollfie Dream Dynamite body, which is different from the standard body due to its larger hips, thighs and other "assets." This means that my third Dollfie Dream is nearly complete.

Of course, no Dollfie Dream is complete without some clothes and accessories. And, of course, if you are going to get clothes for one, why not get some for your other girls as well? Here are some items that I got from Cool Cats. I like Cool Cats because their prices are reasonable and they have nice clothes and stands made for Dollfie Dreams.


Here I got some swimwear, shirts, skirts, stands, shoes a wig and way too many socks. I seem to have a thing for socks. At least my girls will never have cold feet. As always, Cool Cats threw in some free extras too, which is always a nice surprise.

With all these items I realized I was running out of room to store them. I had most of my Dollfie Dream stuff in cardboard boxes. So I thought it was about time to get a new container for their stuff.


Only two years into this doll hobby and I already have a cart for their stuff. I never thought I would get to this point. The funny thing is, as you can see with the extra box and container on the top... I already filled it up.

But wait... there is still one box left.


A friend helped me greatly with these items in a way I could never fully repay.


As you can see there are some interesting items in the box. But there is this odd item...


What ever could it be? You will just have to wait for a future post to find out.

WHEW! Well, that concludes this desk diary. It was quite a long one, but it wasn't six months apart from the last one at least. Still a lot happened in a short couple of months and I'm not done yet. There are still a couple item I'll have to show soon. I also hope to start working on illustrations again for my webcomic.