27 June 2012

Goofing Around with Art Studio

It's been a hectic summer so far. I've been preparing for next semester's teaching duties, getting work done, and helping my sister care for Chloe. I may talk about a recent trip to Nashville soon. However, here's a different type of sketch: purely digital. I've been playing around with the Art Studio app on my iPad, and I decided to try and draw Robin Fox, my female lead from the web comic. So, here's a simple portrait of her. It's not the best, but I'm still trying to get used to digital drawing.

01 June 2012

The Green Lantern Goes Gay

Please pardon the cheap alliteration in the title. It was announced some time ago that a major DC super hero would come out as homosexual. Since the announcement, there has been a bit of media storm and a guessing frenzy among fans and critics as to who this character is. Now let’s not forget that Marvel’s first openly gay superhero, Northstar, gets married soon (sorry, Northstar, but marriage sucks).  Well, the news is out, as DC announces that Earth 2 #2 will reveal that Alan Scott, the Green Lantern of Earth 2, is in a homosexual relationship.  As much as cynicism tempts me to claim this as a publicity stunt to try and steal Marvel’s thunder, I don’t think it is. And I don’t think it’s a bad idea.

31 May 2012

Concept Sketch: Blind T-Bone Fennec

Today features a sketch for an upcoming/recurring idea for the Tales of the Fur & N3rdy web comic: Blind T-Bone Fennec. T-Bone is TK's blues singer alter ego. I'm not certain if I'll do a long story arc each time I bring in the character, but I may. I may also give TK a more medieval/fantasy alter ego who is a bard. But we'll see.

Anyway, this is a pencil-only sketch of the character. He has a white suit with a black shirt, which is the opposite of most blues musicians who wear dark suits. Why? Well, TK has black paws, and I wanted to show where his pants and sleeves ended and his paws began when it becomes necessary. So, that's why he's wearing a white suit. The concept may be updated as I work it into the comic. However, as for right now, he'll be waiting for his first digital world tour, because today I finished up a story focusing on TK.

23 May 2012

The Blizzard's Chill Marks the Return of Evil Diablo

Well, one week has passed since the release of Blizzard Entertainment's Diablo 3. D3 will end the story that began with the original Diablo, but from what Blizzard has said, this will not be our last foray into the Diablo-verse. The story occurs twenty years after the end of Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction. The world of Sanctuary prepared for an attack from Hell, but the attack never came. Deckard Cain began a journey to learn why. When the game opens, a strange star has fallen into the ruins of Tristram, and your hero character (for some unknown reason) seeks the star as an omen. How do you know the star brings an omen? Well, massive armies of undead assault the settlement of New Tristram, that's why. During the entry, we meet a young woman named Leah, whose uncle, Deckard Cain, has been trapped in the ruins of Tristram. She asks the hero to save him, and things move forward from there.

Overall, the game is really solid and really, really fun. I didn't find any glitches in the game play. I didn't experience any of the Error 37 furor on opening day, because I waited until Wednesday afternoon to play. Progression through the story went smoothly, and level progression moved equally smoothly. I liked that I can continually rearrange my powers and glyphs between battles so as to really prepare myself for any challenge.  The downside to that is that I now only have a reason to create one of each heroic class instead of playing multiple variants of my favorite classes. But that's not a huge problem, because I've always found the Diablo series to have pretty high replay value.

The narrative is a traditional "Hero-Saves-the-World-from-Evil" story, and it was delivered solidly across the visual, aural, and interactive formats used in video games.  I thought a certain major plot twist [event redacted due to spoiler content] was telegraphed a bit too strongly and for too long. That said, the voice acting played the event itself well, delivering enough emotional engagement to keep me playing.  The art of the game kept the mood dark and serious, which really helped propel the feeling that you were playing a hero in a heroic fantasy world.  Plus, there really is nothing more fun than wading into a group of thirty enemies and slaughtering them. That makes you feel really heroic.

So what are my complaints, aside from telegraphing foreshadowing? Well, the use of the left mouse button to move, to attack, and to interact with everyone gets annoying when your finger cramps during a massive multi-wave battle. Also, it feels a bit awkward and old-fashioned compared to the use of the WASD keys for movement employed by most PC games. Oh, and the Templar companion never seems to shut up. But I tolerated his incessant prattle, because he has good healing abilities.

So where does that leave us? Diablo 3 is one solid, enjoyable video game. Do I recommend it, yes. But be warned, Diablo 3 is a gateway game to World of Warcraft. And that game will suck your life from you if you're not careful.

Rating:  4.25 out of 5.

17 May 2012

Back to Normalcy?

So it's been a while. Yeah, the end of the semester always brings with it lovely events that infringe upon my free time: grading, my own work, oh, and the International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  I actually planned to blog from there, but for some reason, my laptop refused to connect to the wireless network at WMU. My iPad worked fine, so go figure. And I forgot to bring the charging cable for my iPad's wireless keyboard.

I planned to blog from the conference, because there was an interactive panel on medievalisms in video games (read, Bring Your Own Console and play).  I missed the panel, because I didn't feel like climbing a steep hill on this brown, slushy, muddy drink that officials at WMU tried to convince me was coffee.   I also forgot to take my sketchbook to actually draw while away. But I'm back, and I hope that means a return to normalcy and regularity.  

Anyway, here's a "Before and After" type of thing. I drew this little mourning scene with pencil and pen, and then I colored it using brush pens. Overall, I'm actually fairly happy with how it turned out. I may do some manipulations and digital recolorings later, but right now, I'm happy with this.

To summer. To art. To life. To loss.