A new character, and APB.

As this is a long entry, here’s some advice for ya: If you like dragons/art/DAZ Studio, but don’t give a crap about gaming, you can start at “New Character” and ignore “APB”. If, however, you like gaming, and you don’t give a crap about dragons/art/DAZ Studio, go ahead and start at “APB”. If you like both, then you sir, are epic, and should read it all. Open-mouthed WinkNew Character.

Okay, so just when I thought I had enough dragon characters, BLAM, another interesting one starts to form in my mind. Tongue out

His name is Ikari, and like a few of my other characters (Ifri, Shadow, Whirlwind), he has some interesting features that really make him stand out. Firstly, he’s very spiritual and religious. No, he’s not a bible basher… it’s not like the Draconic religion has a bible, anyway. Tongue out (You have no idea how well-developed the world of Dragon Tail is. Or, as a Guirian Dragon would say: Sar kar ne nier har kari nurkurir mut eache fur Dragon Tail turk. Wink) Secondly, he sometimes carries a staff, and nearly always wears red robes, unlike all of my other dragon characters, who usually wear… well… nothing. Tongue out And thirdly, he’s freakin’ PURPLE. Open-mouthed I’ve tried to recreate him as best I can in DAZ Studio, so here you go – have a render:

(Click for full version, and please don’t compare him to Spyro – he’s not quite as cool (attitude-wise Tongue out) as the original Spyro, and nowhere near as gay as the new “Spyro”, so there. Tongue out)

And as you’ll probably notice, he’s not carrying a staff, he’s carrying a giant sword. And he isn’t wearing robes, either. That’s because I don’t have ANY robes, let alone robes that would fit the SubDragon, and I also don’t have any staffs. Tongue out These kinda things are becoming annoying problems.

DAZ Studio is, if I’m honest, starting to become too limiting… for my usage, anyway. I ONLY use dragons or other creatures – I’ve never properly rendered a human as of yet… because why would I want to? Why would I want to render human figures when I could render something fantastic that doesn’t exist in the real world? Tongue out That’s my opinion, anyway. If I wanted a picture of a female model posing, I’d take a picture of a female model posing. Alternatively, I’d Google it. Tongue out

So, let’s stick to dragons right now. And DAZ 3D sure makes a lot of them – I have a choice of… 14 types of dragon, but, unfortunately, the SubDragon is the only one that’s any good. The SubDragon looks the best, it has the best morphs, it’s easy to pose and quite flexible, especially with the expansion morphs. Sure, I also quite like the Wyvern 2 – he looks great and is also easy to pose, but his materials are pretty lame, and his morphs are few and far between – about 75% of them are for the wings. Confused

Even with all these morphs and the ability to make a massive amount of unique SubDragons (especially with ninja material modifying skillz Tongue out), the body almost always looks the same every single time. The horns are always in the same positions, the talons are always the same size and style… and unlike the MilDragon, there are a TINY amount of “addons”. With the MilDragon, you get a very nice selection of addons for your dragon – tail fins, tail spikes, natural head armour, different horns, stuff like that. With the SubDragon… you get HAIR. Sure, fair enough… but uh, I don’t WANT hair on my dragons. Tongue out And as for armour, you DO get one set… but it’s pretty poor, and has NO morphs, so it ALWAYS looks the same. The MilDragon, on the other hand, has at least TWO sets of armour. Tongue out So, why don’t I use the MilDragon? Well… he is VERY difficult to pose – I can’t make him stand on two legs without failing miserably. Tongue out Also, there are a ridiculous amount of joints. And the textures are either too unrealistic or total crap. Also, the MilDragon does look a bit lanky, and the lack of expression is almost painful. Tongue out And the SubDragon just looks so much better, too. Open-mouthed

But anyway… Ikari, in that render, is NOTHING like what I have in mind. The colour is a LITTLE too bright (although I can fix that easily), his head isn’t really the right shape, he has white chest PLATES which are impossible to recreate without extensive material editing, instead of the spikes along his back, he has a golden crest that starts at his neck and spans the entire length of his body, he has longer, sharper horns which curve upwards, not sideways, and he has more “chunkier” talons, and with a REAR talon instead of a (sort of) dewclaw. And, of course, he’s not wearing robes, nor carrying a staff. Tongue out A few of these things I could TRY and change – I could try and find a robe for M4 or V4 (DAZ’s male and female models) and ATTEMPT to apply it to the SubDragon (I WOULD fail Tongue out), and I could easily find some sort of staff and scale it to be dragon-sized… but most of the other things are outside the SubDragon’s capabilities. See, I TOLD you the SubDragon had limits. Tongue out

And now, it brings me onto THIS:

<OKAY, I just realised – I’ve left my bag with the Notepad of Doom 4 in it at my Uni accommodation. Tongue out So please excuse my dumbassery, and try to picture a semi-rough, hand-drawn dragon called Lineus SHORYUKEN-ing something called a Failmonster. Open-mouthed Oh, and it was done with PEN, not pencil. Tongue out I’ll get a copy of it posted here when I get back to Uni. Open-mouthed>
(Extract from the Notepadus et Doomus IV. Draconus Shoryukennius. Wink)

Sure, it’s not the greatest dragon pic you’ve ever seen (I can guarantee
Tongue out), but this was done with a PEN on THE WORST PAPER KNOWN TO MAN… WHEN I WAS BORED. Open-mouthed I’ve found that, unless I have a PERFECT reference, I totally SUCK at artwork. When I DO have a reference, I’m not too bad at it. I used a reference for that drawing… wanna guess what it was?

Oh yeah. Previously posed in DAZ Studio. Open-mouthed This is what I’ve noticed recently: every time I’ve ever tried to draw a dragon from MEMORY, I ALWAYS get stuck at the dragon’s shape and/or pose. As a result, I give up. Remember that drawing of Whirlwind I did? I used a good reference for the basic shape – a tutorial. After I got the basic shape down, I actually threw away the tutorial, as I was able to go from there and add extra features and modify old ones – changing the head’s shape, adding horns, spikes, crests, etc, which is what I do best. And look how that turned outOpen-mouthed (remember, this is ME we’re talking about. Tongue out) THIS was also created with a tutorial as reference. Sure, I had an awful graphics tablet and set my line thickness to be a bit TOO thick… but (despite the name Tongue out) this WAS my first attempt at a totally digitally-created dragon, and at least I FINISHED it instead of saying “screw this, I give up”… Tongue out
So… if, when using a reference posed in DAZ Studio, I can draw something that’s not too bad on shitty paper with a PEN… in theory, I should be able to make something pretty good when I try drawing it on GOOD paper with a PENCIL. And then, when I scan it into the PC and colour it in Photoshop, I reckon it could be REALLY good! Open-mouthed If this turns out to be true… well… I’d be able to manually draw each of my dragons EXACTLY as I want them, instead of using a generic model and having limits set on what I can do. And that would be epic. Open-mouthed

I’m gonna test this theory and draw Ikari at some time in the near future, fully coloured, using DAZ Studio as a reference. And, whether it’s good or bad, I’m going to post it here. Open-mouthed Oh, and I’m not kidding – I WILL do it this time. Tongue out

Yes, I know. I’m a programmer. But what the hell. It’s not as if I like drawing EVERYTHING. Tongue out I like drawing dragons, and random monsters. Basically anything non-human that doesn’t actually exist. Tongue out The exception to my “non-human” rule are my epic semi-stick men/women who live in the Notepad of Doom. Open-mouthed And anyway, what’s wrong with having more than one hobby? Tongue out

… Right. That’s the first part. Now onto APB. Open-mouthed All those interested in dragons and art but not games, you may go now. Wink


Alright, so Ped told me of this new MMORPG in closed beta, and I IMMEDIATELY said “PFFT, FAIL.” Tongue out MMORPG’s, as all sane people know, are just simple, repetitive games for idiots wishing to spend £XX.99 a month to gain access to the game servers which barely require any maintenance, and also to fund the developers’ drinking and drug habits. Tongue out

However… one day, Ped decided to show it to us all through a multi-way screen sharing session. Through the 0.016 FPS I was getting, I saw a crosshair. And an ammo counter. I saw cars that you could jack, and a wanted level at the top left. And best of all? THERE’S NO FRIGGIN’ GAY ACTION BAR. Open-mouthed

My immediate thougts were “HOLY SHIT, IT’S A CROSS OF SAINTS ROW AND GRAND THEFT AUTO… AND IT’S MASSIVELY MULTIPLAYER!!” Tongue out I was intrigued, but also kinda reluctant. A persistent world where survival depends on skill and equipment, not level, stats or the ability to press buttons repeatedly?! No way. That’s what EVE Online said, and they were just speaking bullshit. Tongue out I didn’t believe it. Then I saw the developer. Realtime Worlds – the company behind Crackdown, one of THE most fun games I’ve ever played, ESPECIALLY multiplayer. So, maybe this COULD be what it seemed…

So… I decided to sign up for the closed beta, whilst laughing. YEAH, like… SURE, I’D get in. Tongue out I’ve got a good PC, sure, but… I NEVER get invited to these kind of things. It’s been MANY months since I signed up for the Jumpgate Evolution closed beta, and they haven’t even sent me ANYTHING to do with the game, yet! Not even info about how it’s going, or anything!

But, hilariously, one day after signing up for the APB beta, I got an e-mail from them. “APB: You’ve been selected as a Beta Tester!” ONE DAY. LOL, they must’ve looked at my DXDiag and orgasmed over it. Open-mouthed Unfortunately, I now had to download the 8GB client on a 512Kb connection. It took almost 30 hours, and I missed the first of my playtests because of it. Tongue out Not too much of a big deal, because Ped was ill with norovirus, so it would’ve probably been boring playing alone anyway. Tongue out

I didn’t miss the NEXT playtest, though. And do you know what? Realtime Worlds have actually given me hope for future MMORPGs. Open-mouthed APB, despite its weird name (All Points Bulletin Confused), is something that MMO developers should freakin’ look up to and TAKE NOTES FROM!

Now, I’ve agreed to the APB NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement), and I would REALLY like to keep my place in the beta. But I guess a bit of info posted on a Space accessed by a tiny amount of people of wouldn’t hurt. Tongue out Besides, it’s free advertising, so don’t whine. Wink

It does throw you headfirst into the tutorial, and it’s quite disorienting at first. But it’s simple – go to each location and PRESS F. Tongue out Yeah, that’s kinda what put me off it a little – to break open a building, press F. To pick up a mission critical item, press F. To spraypaint a target area, press F. And so on. Tongue out I didn’t quite understand why it was so impossibly simple at first… and I didn’t understand how this could be FUN, but I continued on and cleared the tutorial, giving the game a chance to impress me.

And I’m SO glad I did. Open-mouthed I spawned into the district where Ped was, and entered his instance. Each instance of a district can hold about 100 players, so it’s a little different than other MMOs – it’s kinda like a 100-player shooter. Besides, I’d expect that if there were 30,000 players shooting each other and blowing stuff up all around you, sure, it’d be AWESOME, but it’d be extremely disorienting at the same time. And laggy as fuck, and most PC’s wouldn’t be able to run it. Tongue out. Say if one person shoots when there are 500 players around him, the server would have to send that message to 500 people AT THE SAME TIME. That’s just a LITTLE bit stressful on the server, methinks. Tongue out

Anyway, I was still a bit confused at what I was doing, but I decided to just “go with the flow”. Wink Now, what the game does is give you opportunities to enter missions by displaying them at the top left of the screen, along with a “Yes/No” prompt. When you accept a mission, the whole party is entered into it. The missions are simple enough, get to point A, do X, get to point B, do X, and so on, until you complete the mission. However, when OTHER PLAYERS have to try and stop you, or when you have to stop the OTHER PLAYERS, it gets QUITE interesting, and HELLISHLY fun. Open-mouthed I found that it was especially fun and fulfilling when I managed to kill two higher-ranked players with the NOOB GUN that you start with. ^_^

Then there are those times when you have a Notoriety level greater than two. If this happens, Enforcers (also real players) can be dispatched AGAINST you, and you either have to KILL THEM ALL, or survive for a certain amount of time without running out of lives. CAR CHASES. DRIVE-BYS. EXPLODING CARS. FUN FUN FUN! Open-mouthed And that’s all it’s about – FUN. Open-mouthed Unlike every MMORPG ever, this isn’t a chore to play. You don’t play it because you just NEED to grind so you can get enough of a specific item, or earn enough experience to level up. You play it because you WANT to play it, because it’s FUN to steal an Enforcer’s car and then own them in the following mission. Open-mouthed

I can’t really say much more, since I’ve only played it for TWO HOURS, but it’s pretty damn good. Open-mouthed Instead of click on enemy, press buttons, it’s AIM AT ENEMY, SHOOT! Skill is what you need to win, and I love it. Open-mouthed It’s THE ONLY MMORPG that I genuinely LIKE. Open-mouthed Oh, and the character and car customisation is INSANE – Ped’s got a car with the words “EAT MY DUST” written on the back of it. And it’s hilarious how EVE Online said they couldn’t do ship customisation due to “latency issues” or some crap. Open-mouthed More like “we can’t do ship customisation cuz we can’t be arsed and we’re stupid and just want money”… Tongue out

All I can say is… Beta signup. Do it. NOW.



See this. Oh, and this. 😛

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