Thursday, January 16


High time I checked in after what has been a year both testing and triumphant, weary and wonderful!

After merging my previous blogs I got stuck into some folio artwork and was posting about that until I began to organise a trip to California. I have made good friends with a number of concepts artists (and plenty of others!) who were working with my friend at Blizzard. Since then many of them have moved on to other companies and I've done my best to keep in touch. They have been hugely helpful and supportive in my efforts to improve my folio and garner attention from the international gaming community.

Then my blog went dark. Well, what happened?

After garnering attention with some fan concepts, art comp entries and submitting my folio I was offered some freelance work from Riot Games on the skins team. It was such a huge breakthrough for me and the opportunity of a lifetime and I devoted all my time to the work. At the same time I already had a trip to the US booked so, rather than cancel it, I took the chance to visit Riot's office and even volunteer at PAX for the LCS NA Finals.

When I returned from the US I found the company I'd been working for had fallen on hard times and I was retrenched immediately. This gave me time to focus on my work from Riot but without a day job I've been struggling a bit financially. At this point I had a fair amount of money saved and decided to try and pursue more freelance art as a primary source of income (here comes the Ramen).

The freelance work from Riot is going well and I'm going to be doing some work for the champion rework team this year. Obviously I can say much more than that. But once some of my work goes live I will request permission to share some of my concept work here.

So what I will talk about, as we enter 2014, is exactly what I'm doing to avoid having to get another 'box factory' job and live the life of a freelance artist.

1. Have a Buffer/Support: I'm happily married to an awesome supporting wife. She works full time and we don't have kids so I have financial security and tremendous moral support. In return I've taken on the household chores, cooking most of the meals and massages on-demand! I also saved up enough money to pay the rent for the next 6 month because I don't expect to make much money at first. I saved up that money to give myself an honest chance. Younger artists might still live at home but whatever the situation I make sure the people who support me know how much I appreciate and respect them.

2. Be Prepared for Failure: Just because I have and idea, and because other people make it work, doesn't mean it will work for me. I strongly believe that anyone can do anything with enough dedication (and getting work from Riot cemented this in my mind) but I have a time limit on this. If the lifestyle doesn't suit me, I can't get enough work, or it's too stressful then I am prepared to return to a 'box factory' day job and keep doing choice freelance work after hours.

3. Get a Coach: This is something I would never have though of but a good friend of mine told me she really enjoys helping people with their passions and I'm more than happy to let her. As it turns out this is one of the most valuable things I have done. Once every couple of months we have a meeting where she helps me lay out short and long terms goals, teaches me how to network better and get exposure (just learned how to Tumblr last night), and gives me a pat on the back for giving it a go. These first three are the major factors, aside from my own skill and drive, that have made all the difference so far.

4. Make it Your Job: I'm sure everyone has heard this one but working from home is impossible. I've made myself a routine so that I take work seriously and don't procrastinate. Each morning I do exercise, eat, take a shower, get dressed then 'go to work'. When I'm in work mode I am ONLY working. This also helps me relax because I can 'leave work' and not spend my evenings half-working or feeling stressed.

5. Network/Advertise: There is no shame in keeping in touch with or reaching out to people who you want to be connected to. I'm particular bad at this because I like to be honest with people and feel like this is a little slimy/rude just emailing people from out of the blue. But my 'Coach' insisted; if you are honest with people and let them know exactly what you are asking for you really have nothing to lose and everything to gain, so why not? She started me off easy with the task of adding people on LinkedIn. But even then I feel hesitant to impose on people unless we have worked together before. In terms of being noticed I'm slowly building up my online presence with my own website, Deviant Art, Twitter, Tumblr and some forums (Facebook to come). So far this has been the primary source of the work I've managed to get and I'm working on a pricing chart for commissions in the new year.

4. Keep Learning: I think the worst thing for an artist is to get comfortable. I never agree to do paid work that I'm not confident I can complete quickly and to the expected level of quality. However I always make sure I have hard-basket projects on the side that keep pushing me out of my comfort zone and learning as much as I can. When I do a personal piece it always takes a long time because I don't waste my time churning out art below my skill threshold.

5. Be Inspired: I was reading Mark Merrill's blog recently (because I eat up any and every bit of insight into Riot as I can) and he mentions that he always asks people who their role models are during interviews and if they hesitate it's a bad sign. While everyone can be inspired by the lives of others I think this is doubly important for artists. Making friends with other artists and sharing their trials and tribulations is not only motivating but makes me feel like I'm not alone. The second time I was in California I made friends with a guy named Paul. I didn't know much about him but we really got on well and shared similar outlooks and attitudes which I find pretty rarely with others. Well when we got onto art it turned out that he is something of a concept art jedi  master and I've been learning from his wisdom ever since.


6. Art Appreciation: If I want people to pay me for my art then I need to make art that people want. I need to know what others are doing and how successful they are. It might sound arrogant but the art I take my time to look at is the art that wows me because I can't do it myself. I don't feel guilty spending time looking at galleries because I'm basically trawling for new tricks and techniques. It's not just google searches for 'digital concept art' either. It's everything from a Baroque Art Exhibition to walking past an interesting piece of architecture.

7. #YOLO: This is it! This is what I've always wanted to do with my life! I'm going to enjoy every second of it. However long it lasts I'm proud of myself for making it this far and so lucky to be where I am in life. When people ask me how I am I tell them: "I'm happy" and it's absolutely true.


*Art School Confidential is an awesome film, particularly if you love art. See it!

Monday, May 13

There has only ever been, only ever will be... one Azshara.

 Finally finished this painting to my satisfaction (and then added nipple-censoring jewellery).  The original idea was to come up with a card-art sized painting of Azshara from the Warcraft lore that was simultaneously alluring and alarming. I also wanted to merge the octopus and elf forms in a way that felt more natural than a lot of fantasy mash-ups. I think it's important that the character is believable as a whole and not just 'oh okay bottom of a horse, human mid-section, chicken head' because that is sloppy design.

One of my favourite parts was the reflection and ripples in the water. It was really hard to get this looking good and she loses a bit of her form that is below the surface. Despite this I feel like it ended up great and establishes that we are breathing air in what still feels like an underwater palace.

You can see very late I also repainted the face. I like the original and it works well as a monster but a good friend suggested my work needed to show some sex appeal so I turned to the flawless Jessica Biel for a beautiful otherworldly elven visage.

I worked on this piece intermittently for a VERY long time and you can almost see me becoming a better artist as I go...

Sunday, April 21

Bring us the armoured girl...wipe away the ADC.

I managed to play through the entirety of Bioshock Infinite uninterrupted over the Easter Weekend and my impression and enjoyment of it was much the same as everyone else's: Artistically breathtaking, mechanically bland, clumsily told.

First it must be said that I enjoyed the story, art and music so much the game was easily one of the best in recent memory and I overall enjoyed it until the final fight which I very nearly gave up on.

I wasn't surprised to hear the same complaints from every reviewer, as the problems were clear and sadly could have been easily flagged before launch. Given that the combat is well, bad with no real innovation from previous Bioshock games, there is far too much of it. The skyhook system was great for getting around but what appears to be the biggest playground (from the demo) has been removed from the final game. The whole 'asylum' that is Comstock House seems to have also been gutted - I know the Boys of Silence were supposed to be more than sentry turrets (which given that they are blind makes no sense and is a clear case of re-purposed assets). There are too many Vigors (Plasmids) that have overlapping function and end up falling off in effectiveness - a similar problem with the weapons as you can only afford to upgrade a few of them but are often forced to use alternatives. One of my favourite parts of Bioshock 1-2 was the big daddy/sister fights could be planned out while the combat in Infinite is sudden and confusing. Most of the story, which is very interesting if you manage to collect it, is delivered through hidden optional pickups and the cutscenes have a bad tendency of talking over them. Coupled with the finale that is just a big information dump the narrative seems very poorly handled which is a shame given how vital it is.

Perhaps this is why the beginning of the game is so wonderful? The music and art is on display, the story is only hinted at and the combat has not yet begun. Would it be such a bad thing to have an entire game that continued in this way? Would it have been better or worse with more direct and gradual story delivery and less combat?

I picked up the artbook (along with The Art of Drew Struzan) and it is pretty fantastic. I feel sad that Colin Fix didn't work on this one as he is hands down THE MAN for his contribution to Bioshock II. I feel great though seeing professional artwork that is comparable to my own. Nearly there!

In other news I decided to respond to a question from Ironstylus about a possible skin design for Leona on the League of Legends forums by doing this cool skin design for the armoured ass-kicker:

The forum thread was seen by the mighty Ironstylus and has received plenty of positive feedback! I'm a happy artist :D

Sunday, March 31

A Man Chooses, A Slave Obeys

2:30am in the morning and I'm watching Fanatic slowly strangle the life our of Against All Authority in the League of Legends LCS (with xPeke's super lame split pushing strategy). I don't really watch tv and I've never been interested in sports, but I love League of Legends and I really want to see eSports become a legitimate form of entertainment. These days it is safe to say that if I am not doing League of Legends fan art or playing League of Legends, I am watching LCS vods. My artwork is looking really good these days and I'm really gearing up to start shopping my folio around with the expectation of at least landing some freelance work. I've got my website up again (not quite running), Deviant Art, Twitter and this blog to make myself accessible AND appearances at PAX here in my hometown of Melbourne followed by a trip to USA including a visit to Riot Games and PAX Prime. It's pretty obvious that Riot is my dream client and one day I hope to live and work in Santa Monica, but in the meantime I will freelance where I can and keep pushing my love of LoL and skin design.

As I said this site is now a merger between my art and my games blogs, and right now I feel like talking games.

Thanks to the some Aussie public holidays here and there over the last few weeks I've had a chance to plough through more than a few new games. Halo 4, Dead Space 3, Tomb Raider, Year Walk and Bioshock: Infinite. Let me begin by just pulling the odd one out - Year Walk is a very short, very original iPad puzzle game that used the medium in interesting ways and rewarded the player with a satisfyingly chilling ending to a simple story. It costs a small amount of money and time and is very rewarding.

This leaves 4 big budget sequels. The only type of game that seems to be produced by large companies these days (I'll be playing SC2:Heart of the Swarm as soon as I get the chance and that's an expansion to a sequel). And while they appear to be very different games I can summarise them all with one sentence:

'The story is really interesting but the gameplay is stale: a weaker iteration of the original game.'

Bioshock in particular has a standout story but the gameplay feels like we never left Rapture. I've already mastered this gameplay, I wonder why they didn't just write a book. At the end of each of these sequels I felt the same way: I'm glad I played them for the story but got next to nothing out of the actual gameplay experience. Is this just the problem with making sequels in an age with little technological advancement? Where Gears of War 2 and 3 are released on the same console (on the same engine?) as the original and just look like more of the original rather than what we think of as a true sequel. I think it's more than that though - Tomb Raider feels like a bad version of Uncharted, except with LESS TOMB RAIDING. Dead Space 3 introduced ranged enemies in cover-based-Gears-of-War style areas that were probably there to appeal to a certain fan base but completely disrupted the atmosphere that the original game held so well. Combined with aliens and hungry evil moons the game was major suck. I bought Halo 4 for the multiplayer and even that didn't hold the charm of the almighty Halo3.

Perhaps they suffer the same problem as Mass Effect 2/3 and Crackdown 2 that, trying to follow up on a perfect game, change/add to the game just for the sake of it. It could be that as new games they feel pressure  to 'innovate' on the original no matter how perfect it might have been. Mass Effect 2 made some radical changes that were actually very fresh. I still prefer the original, but I think ME2 was much more of a success in something new than ME3 that fell somewhere between the first two. But is this '2.0' tweaking necessary? The Gears of War and God of War series change nothing and it works great, although they are strongly tied to the 3 act structure of the narrative. I realised this when I saw God of War 4 and Gears of War 4 at the store and felt no desire to play them. My feeling was that I have already closed those books and I can get no more satisfaction from the gameplay on offer.

Halo 4 suffered the same shortcomings as Halo Reach. The story was just terrible, with none of the charm of the original and this weird feeling of playing with characters that were supposed to be done with their 3 part storyline. It's like making a 4th Lord of the Rings where the same tired characters face a new, unfrelated, threat and it's sort of the same thing all over again. Perhaps we'll see this bizarre phenomenon with Star Wars VII? The real problem for me though is that the multiplayer is just weak. There are stacks of new weapons and they've gone for the stupid Reach abilities on top of everyone having sprint without any consideration for how all these extras simply dilute the pure PvP experience of the earlier games.

The original Tomb Raider was a huge hit. But over the years it's become stagnant and so they decided to give it the Batman Begins Dark Gritty Remake[TM]. Making a short list of the original's strengths it's difficult to figure out how they got it so wrong.

Witty, confident, wealthy female hero.
Travels to exotic locations and delves into ancient tombs.
Carries twin pistols for shooting wild animals.
Gameplay involves platforming to solve complex puzzles broken up by combat.

The new game has exactly zero of these award winning elements...

I find myself more frequently playing games on easy and knocking $100 titles over in a weekend, because they feel more like interactive books than real games. Darksiders could also fit on this list but I felt they had enough variety and gorgeous artwork to be a little more worthwhile. Perhaps I've just played too many games? If it really is interactive storytelling doesn't it make sense that a dominant method of interaction would be established? People don't read or watch films in different ways. It's not all bad though. Demon Souls and JRPG's like the Shin Megami Tensei series are reminding me why gameplay is crucial and really make a game stand out. Along with PvP games such as League of Legends, Team Fortress and Soul Calibur I still love playing games. But the big budget sequels are really starting to lose their charm, and when all they can do is add superfluous features as they do with sports games what will become of them?

Tuesday, March 26

Katarina's Torment

Check out my latest painting: Katarina's Torment.

Done for the LoL art contest 'Training for Season 3'. It's got some attention on Tumblr and Deviant Art but didn't place in the competition. As always I learned a lot in the process and shout-out to Gino Whitehall for giving me some advice on colouring over a B/W base. I did the same thing on my latest WoW fan art (coming soon)and it really helped control the tones and create solid depth. Before I get to the progression here is the stencil for the roof feature, which I wanted to be a hook to keep people looking longer at the piece and architecturally depicts the summoner's seemingly endless choices that make the game so appealing. See if you can guess them all:


And here is the full progress. I used a concept of the Institute of War, the lifesized sculpture of Katarina, my wife's gym clothing and several pieces of Kat fan art for inspiration/reference:


Friday, March 15


I've just merged my Gamer Documentary Blog ( which is now as defunct as the documentary itself) with my old University Project Journal Blog so I can start keeping an Art Blog just like that amazing man Paul Richards.

This comes about a year later when I am feeling confident in the professional level of my skills and digging my heels in to give this a real go as a career: I want to be an Associate Concept Artist, and now feels like the time. I've also just booked my 3rd trip to the US (in August) and I'll be attending PAX Australia and PAX Prime with a folio of my best work in tow.

I'll try to update once a week with some new artwork (the best of which will also be on Deviant Art and my website) which will be accompanied by text that I'm guessing will be equal parts Art appreciation and angry Video Game ranting.

I'm a big fan of the League of Legends Pro scene and just the idea of eSports as a pass time in general. My favourite team is the European 'Evil Geniuses' and their star-mid is a young man named Froggen who is very very VERY good at Anivia.

This is actually inspired in equal parts by his screaming during the Season 2 World Finals and some seasonal card artwork by J.C.Leyendecker. Leyendecker's work is really amazing me right now and I think my next piece will be more League champions in a typical Leyendecker composition.

Friday, November 4

More like 10 shitloads

Looking back on recent posts it seems like I'm becoming the Grumpy Old Man of the gaming world. Good I say! Nuts to you all.

It's fair enough to say 'There's always going to be a cheap and nasty side to gaming' but it feels like rather than being the seedy underbelly or the politely ignored idiots that corruption is spreading. It's becoming the rule rather than the exception.

First let's look at these EB/Gamestop fuckers.

Sexism and insulting stereotypes aside, this is an ad to convince you to basically give them your old games so they can sell them again. The store credit is negligible really. Gone are the days when you could trade in 42 PSX games for a PS2 on launch. Ever since I happily offered a kid twice the trade-in price for his copy of Powerstone 2 I've felt like there's something seriously wrong with game trading.

At PAX last year they explained how games are ready to be sold online but Gamestop threaten to stop carrying their hardware, which is why those stores still exist: blackmail. They are a redundant leach on the games market, one with a deadly effect. If half the people who buy a game from a store were to buy it second hand, that doubles the stores profit and halves the developers profit. The stores just annoy you, try to rip you off, and dictate how and when you can buy games while the developers actually MAKE THE DAMN GAME. In an age where word of mouth, television and the internet form a powerful advertising net and people of all ages comfortably trade online there is no need for a store front. HMV? iTunes. Blockbuster? Netflix. Gamestop? Steam/XboxLive/PSN.

Now on to a threat not to the industry, but to the gamers themselves.

That is a link to something IGN call Babeology.

Babeology [beɪbˈɒlədʒi]
Some terrible excuse for quasi-nerd fantasy fap material that actively drives a wedge between male and female gamers. Largely used to increase website hits. While it's true that 'Sex sells' I feel like this kind of crap, along with 'girl gamers' like the Fragdolls and virtually every female games tv host gives a wholly unrealistic (and honestly undesired) model of female gamers. At least on tv they have equally vapid meat-headed men to stand alongside and read terminology off a teleprompter but I don't exactly see a section for girls with male models dressed as pokemon. Oh and if I see one more girl posing naked with a plastic guitar I am going to snap like my GH2 Explorer controller variant.

Thanks (or damn you!) to Joshua Muller for the links.

I find myself writing this on one of my last nights in California on my -second- trip to America. I didn't film much more for the documentary this time, but I did do a lot more networking (which is crucial), went to Blizzcon, and Luke [aka Mr--Jack] has taught me how to paint like a pro. A favour for which I will forever be in his debt.

I'm not sure if my blog reflected it, but the highlight of my last trip was meeting one Chris Allsopp. he is basically me but English and being so vein I immediately fell for his nervous charm. He considers me an uncouth Australian which is refreshing, considering I am probably one of the most couth Australians. But I don't tell Chris, he'll find out when he comes to my wedding next year.

Enough for now. Although I can say that after a long pause to work on my painting and organise a second trip to America I am ready to talk once again about making a documentary and being a true gamer.

Tuesday, April 12

Nice jump, human


Last night whilst riding my bicycle home from work I had an idea.

My name is Sunny Koda, I'm a 27yo Concept Artist living in Melbourne Australia. I like metal, art, films, eating, rock-climbing and meeting cool people. I love playing games.

My lease and my work contract both end in July and I've been planning a trip to California to attend San Diego Comic Con and visit a couple of friends (a talented young Blizzard employee and an old friend up in Silicon Valley). My main reason for going is to get a feel for the community and business over in the US where I'd love to get a job in the future. But now I've been struck with the spirit of adventure! I really don't have much money, but wouldn't it be awesome to hang out in the US right through to the Penny Arcade Expo at the beginning of September? As a gamer that would be totally win.

Then I struck upon the idea of couch surfing, an affordable way of remaining in the US for the entire month of August. But I don't just want to subsist for a month, I want to do something cool! So here is the plan....

I'm making a Documentary celebrating Gamers, Games and the Gaming Industry through an adventure narrative!

I'm going to see if I can convince 30 odd people who love games to offer me their hospitality and their perspective to document the ultimate gaming experience. Yeah! I'll try to stay with a different person each day and share with them views of games, gaming culture and really find out what being a gamer means to them. Perhaps each host can show me their all-time favorite game and in return I'll do some gamer art for them and they can appear in my documentary representing their game and locality.

I like this idea.

It's been over a year now since this idea sprung into my head. Things have certainly changed. But this morning I finally saw the story that would turn this pile of ones and zeros into something watchable, into entertainment itself.

I want to put some focus on the making of the documentary:

Gamer as idea to travel and make doco, gamer plans things.

But then loses his job (focus on how tenuous the industry is) and spirals into despair.

Gamer goes ahead and packs his bags without any money, relying on the kindness of gamers.

The adventure begins!

California - USA, land of opportunity
Hanging with Luke & Chris
More Food
Nerd Market
San Diego - Nerd culture and the need for gamer's own identity
Comic Con
zomg Gabe & Tycho

San Fransisco - The gamers
Lauren + Patrick
Steph + Tristan

Portland- Gaming as a community
Ground Control
Retro Expo
Kristin's small-town gang

Seattle - train from cali, PAX: the gathering
The mehicans
PAX Train
Ty and 'friend of Ty' (name? Ty help me out here!)
games media, the culture realised

Vancouver - communication between industry and gamers.
Mitch + Em
Vancouver is beautiful
Games stores, Halo midnight Launch
Game testing, working in the industry

Home - the past, the future, my sweet new guitar.

raj pay attention!

Friday, April 1

You're gonna kill my dick?

More mildly offensive trash. All the appeal of 'Teenage Dirtbag' (which I did listen to at the height of my teen-angst, Mena Suvari...) with a much narrower audience. Who is this aimed at anyway? Who would listen to this?

At PAX I passed the line for Jonathan Coulton. He was headlining the night's prescribed entertainment, but I was on my way to the MTG Mirrodin Party with the real nerds. Comedians get away with performing preschool-level songs because they're really a medium for the humor that is their trade. What are musicians who forgo skill for gimmickry selling? I suppose they are trading in popular culture.

In-jokes have evolved into 'meme's, whose entire purpose is to create a feeling of tribal inclusion by excluding those that don't 'get it'. When they drop a line about a certain level of a certain game that you have played you think 'hey, s/he's played it too!' and feel both validation and belonging. It comes down to something of a pep-rally. A vibe that PAX in it's entirety emanated.

'We are the same, we are a community. We haven't met before, yet we share so much.'

This isn't a bad thing, in fact it's a fantastic feeling. It's perhaps the core of my documentary and the highlight of my travels. But is the frenzied affirmation any different to that of a sports or religious fanatic? Perhaps only in it's innocence. Sports focuses on victory over rivals and religion on virtue through worship. Games are about play and interaction at a nascent level. No one is vilified and at worst outsiders are seen as those that 'don't get it' and always as welcome n00bs.

I've been silent for a while for a number of reasons. Firstly it's difficult to write when no one is really reading. This becomes a dump-site for my opinions and thoughts and only when I have the need to expel such emotion. I've been busy with paid work lately which was been very awesome for my career but not so much for the documentary, still languishing in editing limbo.

I watch and re-watch the footage, looking for a story. Story writing is something I don't have enough experience in. I've absorbed enough film/books/comics/television to put together some great moments but the secret to a strong narrative and an overarching plot slip through my fingers times and time again. I'm also trying to outline the plot of a graphic novel which will perhaps find it's way into this blog as it's many cables and wires worm through my cortex.

Lastly with the Dickwolves controversy rearing it's head once more I've tried to restrain from writing about it. Nothing I say is going to have any positive effect on the non-issue and so it's best left to blow over. I expected it to come out at PAX when I was there but it seems only now that it's boiled over. All I can say is that arguments can get muddy when they aren't clearly defined. One side defends women's rights, the other Penny Arcade. But they were never conflicting entities to begin with.

Last fortnight a good friend made the arduous journey to visit me way out in the countryside. He stayed for a few days and in that time we managed to assemble no less than five 'Commander' (formerly EDH) Magic decks and complete Dead Space 2 and Bulletstorm in their entirety. A mighty effort indeed. Dead Space 2 was reserved for the night and it did not fail to follow the first game in being terrifying on every level. I don't normally enjoy survival horror games but this one I do for two main reasons.

First I was one of the few who was excited enough to pre-order the first game knowing it would be an instant sci-fi staple, and a milestone* for EA as their first R rated franchise and an original in-house-developed title. For this reason playing the game was powerful gratification for my ego as it is excellent. Secondly the game design is so genius it had me guessing and double guessing at every corner in an endless battle of wits. It was like I was competing against the designers directly, trying to figure out how each room would go down and knowing they would use fear to control me.

For example; the deepest darkest corners usually had rewards for bravery stashed away but sometimes they would be soured by monsters or empty boxes. Just often enough for you to question the value of trying. A body springs to life and attacks you, but it doesn't happen again until the very point you become tired of checking every corpse and then, as if the game senses your complacency, boom! Some moments are so spectacular that I felt like I was at the design meeting, ready to applaud the employee who pitched the concept.

At all times I was glad to have someone to turn to and share a collective look of terror and excitement.

Bulletstorm was the antithesis. Crude and well... crude. However after complaining about every stumbling line of gear-of-war-grade dialog and shortcoming of the controls we began to enjoy the game for what it was. Interactive cartoon murder on an epic scale. Talk of 'Dick-killing parties' and fruit-related decapitation become hilarious once the tone is set and all expectations are set aside. And so, barring the complete and utter gameplay failure of a remote controlled Mecha-Godzilla, we trundled through the game laughing heartily at every swear-word and nut-shot.

I did some design work for a friend on a sci-fi pilot called Barrier last year and now I'm working on something new with him. He has some great ideas solidly grounded in the works of classical science fiction (before one dared abbreviate) and I'm happy to be involved. The reason I mention this is because in my annual anime catch-up I got all excited about Redline, a new film that won't be out 'till September:
When I say new, it's been in production for the better part of seven years. So you know it's going to be good. Duke Nukem good. The art style is amazing, the subject matter intriguing (I thought Speed Racer was great purely for the editing and style, it actually looked fast) yet not unfamiliar. My favourite episode of Astro Boy was the race episode (The White Planet?) and I still remind people that Yogi's Space Race did in fact exist.

The girls who've served me at games stores a) don't know anything about or even play games and b) are generally more useless than the guys. Sad but true.

*I had to double-check whether to use the word Milestone, Watershed or Hallmark here. All nonsense words with interesting etymology

Thursday, January 6

If this is all a dream...

then don't wake me up.

It's 5am. I had a dream that films were now distributed to cinemas digitally, and that directors could continue to edit films and patch them after their release. "How was Tron?" "eh, the latest patch ruined it..." or "How could you like Tron!?" "You should watch it again, it's gotten much better since release." In my dream I saw Inception again only to find an additional scene had been added explaining whether the movie was a dream and JGL had been completely replaced by NPH. Needless to say it really ruined the film.

When I think about the way video games are distributed, released, sold and controlled and compare it to any other medium I can't help but be angry. Do you think people would tolerate having their films edited for Australian audiences?* Or books not being sold in your country because their was no translation deal? Oh this album is $30 in the US, but for the same songs in NZ you have to pay $110... Perhaps DLC is a way for studios to work around stringent release schedules set out by producers, but it feels like a slippery slope that leads to a compromised product that still releases for full retail price.

I also had a dream about the college Wargames Club contacting me because they wanted to sell off the Warhammer 40k miniatures and books I had donated to them years ago. In the dream their treasurer carefully went over the remaining 'assets' and emphasised their lack of real market value. My teen years labors ultimately weighing in at around $3,000**. I know this dream was sparked by something my father said over Christmas. My parents often bring up what a shame it was that I made a large charitable donation (absolutely all of my stuff, down to the paints and dice), after all the time and effort and misguided love I put into those hundreds of figures. When I did it I felt really good about it, but seven years of 'good parenting' have made me feel miserable about my loss of material possessions. Particularly on a day like today, when I'm trying to plan a wedding with $7 in the bank and a documentary idling in edit.

Something that identifies gamers, that sets them apart, is their ability to take their time and invest it in play without hesitation. 75 hours on Rogue Galaxy? 75 hours of my life where I was doing what I love; Awesome. My parents look at the time invested in my hobby and try to see some kind of financial gain but the truth is that every minute I spent bend over my hobby desk was not spent working; it was entertainment. Sure it was creative, otherwise it would feel like a waste of time, but it's only insulting to try and put a price on the time I spent simply enjoying myself.

I'm having a similar issue right now (and I'm sure a lot of people can relate to this one) with Warhammer Online. The game is entering it's autumn (fall) years and even the US server I'm on is looking pretty boring. Some of my guild have moved to the European servers where the game is still fresh and the population very high but horrid lag discourages me from following. Most of the other guildies have unsubbed and are waiting for the release of ToR. But being a little more casual I've only just gotten my characters up to the top (not including the level cap increase they recently added GG) and it feels like a waste after all this time not to enjoy the power I have ground out. At least for a while. But I hear stories from friends selling characters to EU players for decent amounts of money, money I could really use, and this then forces me to take a look at that account and decide what's more valuable. $250, or being able to hold the fruits of my leisure time in my hand instead of just a memory? But just like my miniatures, the potential to pick up and play is always there. Reconciling that with the reality that I won't is the hardest part.

*Okay I realise a lot of television gets edited for US audiences, but I also know that the people who really like the shows/films *ahem* work around that.
**Based on Games Worshops truly evil inflation of prices, to replace my collection today would be something more like $15-20k

Friday, December 17

Party Time

Whether you are religious or not, by mid-December it's generally time to hit pause and just chill for a minute. Look back at what you've accomplished and celebrate the fact that another year has transpired and you have lived. You have lived well! I happen to be beset with the annoying notion that as long as I keep living, every day is something special. Yes it's very hard to argue with a man who finds the joy in spending 3 hours on a bus or getting the flu, but this zen awareness really helps remind me to be happy sometimes. Just because living, no matter how you spend your life, is awesome. Look at the sky. The fact that you can see is pretty damn cool. I'd be completely lost without it, my world being mostly about art and video games (If you are reading this on some blind-person version of the internet then my other big passion is music - pick up the Tron soundtrack; Daft Punk have been winning all over my ears while I've been working and it's awesome).

Living in the country and working from home I am getting a little lonely. Fortunately my fiancée and I went halves in an Xbox for Xmas (quick aside, the X is from a Greek root and is just an archaic spelling, it is not for use by atheists or whatever). She bought me the new Majin and the forsaken Kingdom from Yoshiki Okamoto, which I am putting off until I finish my work and have a few whole days to throw at. I bought her the Kinect thingey and Fable II (Fable II is proving far more popular right now and I admit is makes me love her all over again seeing her play through an adventure/rpg). I'd like to tell you all more about Kinect, when they release some actual games and they implement the voice features. Yeah that's right once again Australia has gotten the big old shaft* and the voice activation (which is apparently really effective) has been removed for the time being because 'the Australian accent is too different'. Arguments to the contrary- my accent is very mild, often mistaken for English AND the system was released in the UK and damned if they don't have some of the most difficult accents in the world. I do however clearly remember having to put on a Yosemite Sam voice to navigate automatic voice phone services in the USA.

Anyway, while I am still mainly playing Warhammer Online along with the occasional international bout of Starcraft 2 for my social component, I do miss my friends. Hopefully this season will afford me the chance to catch up with them. Ah, we'll see.

*I think the last one was removing the PS2 backwards compatibility from the PS3, which really sucked for me and my carefully manicured collection that somehow doesn't include a PS2. Hey, that's why I moved in with my girlfriend!

Friday, December 3

Please stop making games for the Wii

...I don't have one!

Quite a few games recently (Capcom vs Tatsunoko, Donkey Kong Country, Goldeneye) have been released for the Wii and while yes, it does have a large market, it pretty much puts the big fail-stamp on your product. The original Donkey Kong Country was a polished platformer that pushed the graphics of the snes to the limit while the Wii limits the graphics and ensures polish is replaced with wiimote gimmickry*. More importantly I DON'T HAVE ONE, I don't want one, and the only person I know who does wishes he didn't. So I get to play SSB:Brawl about once in a blue moon (now I'm thinking about sonic, who pwnes that game) but that's really about it.

Take into account that PC games only seem to come in the MMO variety and that I refuse to buy a DS game when they are three times the American price (Look at it this way; Professor Leyton and the Latest Adventure currently costs the same price as Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood which is on sale, which would you invest in?) and suddenly half the games store just isn't my concern anymore. Then so many games are released on both Xbox 360 and PS3 that I'm really just looking at one shelf. Why go in at all anymore? Why indeed. After bombing around all the stores in the local area and trying to balance the price of a new game with whatever enjoyment I thought I would get from them I went home empty handed (on three consecutive days). About half an hour ago I just hit up ebay and bought a really cool game I'm looking forward to playing for $30.

The game was Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm. I played a demo of the second game at PAX and it was the truest and best rendition of the comic/anime that I had gotten my hands on. The Naruto game I had waited some 20 odd games for (still waiting for a great One Piece game, protip - oldschool rpg or the most awesome MMO imaginable... I mean, the Grand Line? COME ON! They even have the sea kings and calm belt to stop players wandering off the map, you know I could go on). I told the guy at the booth, who looked like he was about to die what with it being 4pm on the second day, that I would find it and buy it then promptly high fived him. I then asked what happened to the first game and he told me it was a big hit and just as solid. Huh, I didn't even see it in Australia. No surprises there. The first game covers the first anime with the new game covering Shippuden. I think I'm up to the 50th episode of Shippuden (because that's how many there were last I watched Naruto) and I'm excited to relive the story through a video game and perhaps even experience the new Shippuden storyline for the first time as a game instead of the anime. I really love the media overlap here and I'll let you know how it goes in terms of a familiar story with an interactive twist.

Finding it on ebay after fifteen minutes spent browsing hundreds of games, I was then able to pull up as many reviews and gameplay videos as I felt necessary to convince me one way or another (can it be played with japanese dialogue? yes? good). Then I pressed a button and waited for it to show up at my front door, literally meters from my console. WHY DO I STILL GO INTO EB? I mean, it's not like I enjoy the stifled atmosphere, garish sales posters, irritating prerecorded PA, incompetent sales staff and complete lack of soul in the place. I suppose games stores have been my generations arcade. My parents left me in them when I was a kid while they shopped. As a tween I paid a guy $5 to play Sonic 2 for 30 minutes. In my teenage years I hung out the front selling and buying second hand games just above the stores going rate until they chased me off. But now they've gone from gamer haunts to the the cheapest of fire-sale prostitutes. As dead as arcades. I wonder what the next generation will reminisce about in terms of a gamer environment? Their grandma's padded Wii-room? That sounds bad.

Yes it's been a while since I updated. Coming back from a three month trip to realise it's all over and now you have to pick up the pieces of the life you dropped so fast it smashed has a way of making you not want to write a blog for a bit. Also the trip's over, so the blog is done right? Well, while progress on the doco is slow (nothing really happening until my brother gets settled into his new home and I have some time between freelance jobs, which I totally have!) I do want to keep using this blog as a way to put down my thoughts and opinions on games and other miscellaneous brain-waste.

All I need to do now is pair it with a regular psudo-funny comic strip about two guys who play games on a couch and occasionally cause miscarriages and I will have the attention of teh interwebs which I so sorely crave. I have been meaning to start my most awesome of strip-form comics, ADAPTORFACE so maybe they (the comic and my blog) can be friends? I'm also "rebooting" a scrapbook comic I used to make to entertain my Warhammer guild. Yes, I said reboot just to make you cringe. But I'm playing again so I figure, why the hell not?

*blogger wants to auto-correct this word to 'goldbrickery' which is a term I will now endeavour to use. Yes, it's 'vour' not 'vor' Blogger... you idioth.

Wednesday, October 20

Nerd stuff! And you thought this blog was over.

This is, apparently, my 60th post on this blog. If it were a man and each post was a year then he'd be looking towards retirement and reflecting on a life all but spent. Although this is not the case, it is definitely a good moment for reflection. It's a shame that people rarely read back-dated blog entries, there's a great story that unfolds through those virtual pages.

Well I did make it home relatively cleanly and have spent the past week seeing friends and carving a space for my life in Erin's countryside house. I also have a fairly nice chunk (900gig) of footage to address that will hopefully become the meat of a film, one I'm not yet sure what to expect from. I am sure I want to make it, but I'm unsure and perhaps rightly modest when it comes to the repercussions of it's impending release. In some secret place I'd love to see it picked up and shown perhaps on local tv and hosted online, perhaps the good people at Penny Arcade would finally feature a link to it on their own website and the resulting attention and entertainment would provide some kind of future for my brother and I. But I try to keep a lid on that and just look at making something with enough value to personally justify the endeavour.

I have been binging [bingeing?] on video games. I missed playing with my brother, and even though I did play a lot on the road (in fact that was the mission honestly) I feel like I've been missing the ceremony of dedicating a day solely to a new release. To playing games on my terms.

Scott Pilgrim and Castle Crashers were once more set upon, but this time with my brother, sister and fiancee as comrades. So important are the personalities of the people I play with that this rotation made them feel like brand new games.

Halo Reach was blown through, continuing to disappoint all the way. As soon as I learned that you couldn't play as the colourful members of the Noble team but had to instead play the completely blank 'Noble 6' (and I thought Master Chief was flavourless) I realised I was in for a weak ride. It would be easy to write pages on Reach's shortcomings but what it really comes down to is that it's not Halo 3. There was also the knowledge that Bungie are done with Halo, replacing future hopes with the knowledge that Bungie are stepping out quietly.

On a far more uplifting note, XBox Live Arcade is working hard to finally make GameStop redundant with two excellent titles: Sonic 4 [Episode 1] by SEGA [Sonic Team] and Comic Jumper by Twisted Pixel [and friends].

Sonic 4 is the awesome that I and all other Sonic fans have been waiting for for the last 16 years. That means there are teenagers who have lived their whole life never knowing a decent Sonic Game!* I just secured the last three Chaos Emeralds (after completing the game yesterday) and have been enjoying setting ridiculous act times and killing myself by moving too fast with Super Sonic. Ah Super Sonic, the traditions continue. And that really is the point here, it's pure nostalgia. This game was made for me and everyone who gave me props for my Sonic 2 t-shirt (my favourite on the trip). It is crammed full of references to the first 3 Sonic titles and just makes me smile a big stupid grin. However this is also the most obvious complaint amongst gamers; it's just the old games with better graphics. But I say no! And I say it with authority.

Sonic 4's greatest traditional nod is to the way in which the sequels always reflect the original games. All you have to do to see Sonic 4's genius (and vast improvements/innovations) is go back and play the original games. Sonic 4 has distilled the Sonic franchise to it's essence. There are four (and a half) worlds, and they are the first four that come to mind in every Sonic Game- Tropical Island, Casino/Carnival/Pinball, Ancient Ruins (in Water and Lava flavours), Industrial Techno-nightmare and then theres always Eggman's 'Final Zone'. In fact I just found someone's list of Sonic level cliché's right here. What Sonic 4 does is first take Sonic for a walk down memory lane BUT then continues to innovate on those old designs and mechanics.

The first level: Splash Hill Zone is split into 4 Acts. The first begins with a carbon copy of the first part of Green Hill Zone from Sonic 1 and continues to play on those themes. The second Act is more reminiscent of Emerald Hill Zone from the start of Sonic 2 while still identifiably the same location as Act 1. In the third Act the sun is setting giving the level an orange hue which, along with the zip-lines that heavily feature, remind me of Angel Island Zone from Sonic 3. Finally the Eggman Boss is the very first encounter from Sonic 1 but with an aggressive twist in the second half of the fight. The Eggman Boss fights in the Sonic games have more often than not been a time to set speed aside and do some carefully timed attacking, I really like the way that some of the speed has been allowed to exist with Sonic's new physics. The Final Boss (a re-imagining of the Final Egg from Sonic 2, only this time I get rings thank god) was much more fun to play and was more about fast paced combat than nail-biting timing and placement.

So basically yes, this is a nostalgia driven game and all the Bosses and levels are a mixture of old and innovated old. But that is exactly what we've been crying for so I'm very happy. And here's the kicker; at PAX I got a chance to sit on a couch with one of the developers and chat about the fact that it's 'Episode 1' and seems to be largely reworkings. He was ready for the obvious question and what he said was (and now I feel like a real journalist) that this first Episode is all about nostalgia and getting the Sonic fans on board, getting them to trust Sonic Team again (and after Shadow with a gun and Sonic as a werewolf I can understand the need) but Episode 2 and beyond are going to be about taking the traditional 2-D Sonic adventure in a new direction. Keeping it true to retro Sonic style but heading into uncharted territory. This is exactly what I think everyone needs to hear. Yes, Episode 1 is very retro and not really new or innovative enough to stand alone as Sonic 4. But it's only the beginning, and it's a very strong opening.

Now that I've spent four paragraphs nailing down Sonic 4 and establishing myself as a complete fanboy let me tell you about a new game that is just as good but without having any history at all. At PAX I first saw it briefly; a superhero with an emoticon for a face sliding down the side of a building with a woman for a board. That's all you really need to know about Comic Jumper. The combat is simple but challenging and comes in three distinct game 'modes' that are switched between on-the-fly. But you need to get this game because the story is great and it's one of the few games to make me laugh. Captain Smiley's comic gets cancelled and you must guest star in other comics to earn enough money to re-launch. It's like Gumby with guns and jokes! Anyway it turns out that parody, mediocrity and a grumpy Bender-esque star are great forms of comedic entertainment and if there's one thing I love it's Genre-based adventure**. I particularly like how much effort Twisted Pixel went into making this game their own. There are live-action cutscenes of people reading the comic, the employees interact with Captain Smiley and offer advice and tons of little touches like the Stats Screen Song that really help a low-budget title from feeling second-rate.

Oh and I also saw "Resident Evil: Whatever... 4 Maybe" last night and it was pretty good for what it was. They haven't got better, but surprisingly they havent got worse. This leaves them as one of the few sci-fi-techno-apoca-horror franchises I still look forward to seeing. You can always rely on there being Milla Jovovich looking badass and mutated zombie-dogs looking all The Thing-esque. Unfortunately it was only playing in 3D. It was good, the 3D was actually cool, but I really don't want to encourage the mainstreaming of 3D films as I still firmly believe it is a gimmick. On a gamer note, while they don't follow the story lines of the Resident Evil games (at least not anymore) they do strongly follow on from each other in spite of their improbable endings. In this way they have created their own Resident Evil mythos, although it features the same main characters and themes. What I really like is that you can clearly see that this independent franchise has been created with as much effort and attention as the Resident Evil games. I think I may actually prefer it...

Enough for now. Gotta go play Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock. Finally they released a GH game with a songlist I actually want to play!

*Well Sonic Adventure was awesome in my book and Sonic Rush on the DS is a true successor to Sonic & Kuckles, just not on the big(ger) screen.
**Timesplitters, Viewtiful Joe, Psychonauts, Conker's Bad Fur Day are all great examples. Go play them!

Friday, October 8

I’ve been gone so long...

gone so long
But I will come back

The Foo Fighter's 'Come Back' plays appropriately as I tap away, one last time as the sun illuminates the Californian noon. I'm used to looking at it now, but the view is still idyllic.

Packing is going okay, it looks like I might pull it off. Arrangements have been made to gate-check my precious guitar, everything else will just have to survive as best it can in the belly of the steel beast. My main thoughts now are whether the move to break up the flight was wise. 10 hours to Fiji, 3 hours in the airport then 5 hours to Melbourne feels like a better option than 15 hours to Sydney and then 1 hour to Melbourne. Plus I can say I've been to Fiji. Hopefully my stuff will make it too, but chasing up luggage is much easier when you're home.

The thought of home right now is positively titillating. This is probably the first time I've really truly missed anything or anyone. Sure there's a little bit of greed and remorse here and there, but at this point in time I just want to go home. I miss video games, I miss my mom.

I'm leaving Chris and Luke my NTSC copy of SSF4, I feel like I got some good use out of it and games here are only about $30 anyway. They are also getting the lion's share of the magic cards. I've transcended the demanding collection aspect of the game but they are both single, so I think they'll have a blast.

Time for one last lag-free game of SC2 with Luke. Wish me luck! He coached me to a crushing victory last night. It was rad-tastic.

Okay we lost a couple of times, but I played pretty well. Particularly in the second game, aside from not pushing at the right moments, it was pretty good.

Before I arrived in America, I just tried not to think about it too carefully. Until the moment I actually sat down in my tiny aeroplane chair it was just something that was going to happen in the future. But the future eventually becomes the present, leaving the present in the past and a sense of loss. This trip and this place has become a part of my personality for the last three months, and now I'm losing that piece of myself. But I'm not slipping back into the life I left, that's all over too. One adventure is ending, but I'm just as nervous as when I first got on the plane; another adventure is just beginning.

I'm coming home, for the first time.

See you all soon.

Tuesday, October 5

Oh Vegas, you silly town.

Just got back across the balmy desert and (because Ocean's Eleven isn't streaming on Netflix) are settling in to watch Fear and Loathing to compare and say 'We went there'. Because that's what you do when you go somewhere for the sake of saying 'I have been there'.

In reality, we had a great time. Despite travelling the lands and meeting colourful characters along the way, this was the first trip that actually felt like a real holiday. When Luke and I went to Comic-Con that was kind of cool, but this had the whole feel of a weekend away. For example; Luke and Chris took time off work, travel agents were consulted, we stayed in real hotels, we ate out, and most importantly were sad to leave but glad to be home. I know this isn't really my home but it's been my base camp for three months, which is half the time I spent in my last place and a respectable fraction of a year (one quarter).

So, Saturday morning we set off and took tollways to avoid Californian traffic. Going on Saturday morning and returning Monday instead of leaving Friday night and returning Sunday meant we comfortably avoided what I hear is terrible traffic.

The drive was really not that bad, just a straight shot down the I-15 Fear & Loathing style. The terrain was amazing! What was just as surprising was that when we arrived in Vegas it was raining... apparently they get one day of rain in October on average. Not surprising that it happened while I was there. But it was still hot, not half as hot as it would otherwise have been so in a way it was a blessing. By the evening it had cleared up and we celebrated with cocktails, burgers from the Harley Davidson Cafe and Bally's 'Jubilee' stage show which teleported us back to the 50's and all that made America once great (breasts and cabaret). Chris and I refused to let the night end, hitting up a number of Casinos and a western themed club called 'Gilleys' which included a mechanical bull and some top quality tail. While the high roller rooms were occupied by poorly dressed middle aged chinese, the Vegas from James Bond's era is maintained by the ridiculous amount of unbelievably hot women and dramatic spectacle. Chris suggested 'it's like Disney Land for adults!' which is a daunting when I consider my fiancée wants to go to Disney Land.

The next morning saw us a little rough around the edges, but for the most part I wanted more. We brunched at Max Brenners which was pretty spectacular. Mexican Chilli Chocolate and pancakes with banana, pecans, caramel glace and two vials; pure chocolate and white truffle sauce. Pow! Somehow we burnt through the day. We had decided to change hotels which was a small hassle but well worth it when we saw The Bellagio. That place is the classiest building I have ever inhabited and we really started to feel like we were in Vegas. I was up for a spot of gambling, but Chris agonised over the $10 minimums on the tables (and the $1 minimum on the slot machines which ironically no longer have coin clots) so I just fed a dollar into a machine and pulled the lever... I won $6! People always tell me to quit while I'm ahead so I proudly collected my $5 margin and swaggered out. Chris then dumped $5 trying to repeat the effect with no luck, so I guess between us we broke even. The house always wins, because it is evil. I am glad I understand that because I saw hundreds of sad faces that didn't.

I went over to another hotel in the afternoon because I desperately wanted to see an old-fashioned Burlesque show and I actually found one that was playing. Unfortunately the starting time clashed with our tickets to Cirque Du Soleil and I wasn't about to miss awesome-made-flesh. The show 'O' has been running at The Bellagio for 12 years. It incorporated a stage made up of elevator platforms that can submerge into what must be 10 metres of water. So sometimes it was a stage, sometimes it was a pool, sometimes it was a bit of both. The show itself was dark and ambient with awesome music and it showcased the incredible abilities of a human body trained by purpose. After that we saw the elegant fountains dance to music outside The Bellagio before going to watch TI's Disneyland-esque stage show on the two ships out the front of the hotel, the difference was one of sophistication.

Monday we blasted back across the desert (with only a brief detour to Barstow!) and just chilled out.

Oh and we played a draft with the new Scars of Mirrodin. Chris and Luke forced me into B/G infect... which I then beat the snot out of them with. I think it's okay 1v1, but they need to change the number of poison counters in 2HG.

Saturday, October 2

Text Log

My phone databank is full, so here's the sms version of my trip:

Luke - Hey man; so, the plan is for us to leave here about 5.45 and head over as soon as we get back, so be ready to leave around that time.
Luke - Just sending an email now :)
TMobile - Do you have life insurance? Get the best policy and the lowest premium.
Jorden - What are you up to tonight?
Tim - We are in line outside if you want to hop in with us
Luke - Near the front; I'm over at the Bandai booth now.
Luke - And holy crap is it awesome
Tim - Hey i think we are trying to leave at 8.
Chris - Picking up your guitar pretty soon dude!!
Luke - Yo; looks like we'll be heading stright over from sketch group tonight, just to let you know :)
Luke - Okay man, sorry 'bout the organisation there; I'll see you guys later!
Luke - Up for a game?
Luke - Alright, I'm ready
Lauren - Oh no! That sucks! What Did You do?
Lauren - No problem just let us know
Luke - We're coming back! I'll run up and drop em off.
Luke - Alright, you're set for 5.45
Lauren - What type of bus? Greyhound?
Lauren - I didn't know they had buses. Learn something new i guess
Lauren - Going into cahill street diridon station?
Lauren - When you get here if You want to do mystery house We need to get tickets Soon. First available on thursday
Lauren - Ok, We Can order when You get here ;)
Luke - Hey hey! Sorry, I don't always notice messages arriving :P No sensation eh? Hope that's cleared up now! I'm assuming you've made it all the way now?
Chris - Nice one dude, have a wicked time
Chris - How is San Jose treating you dude?
Chris - What's up dude?
Mojo - Cool beans.
Mojo - Not much going on, headed home early
Luke - The topic is mobile garlic castle, with bonus frog :)
Chris - Yeah I neeeeeeeeed it!!!
Chris - Cool. Don't spend it there! ;) have fun dude!!
Chris - Yeah that's the last state I need! You gotta be kidding me?
Chris - :) :) keep on the lookout for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands too lucky charm boy.
Mojo - Sure, take the Bart to Castro Valley station. Let me know when you get to San Leandro station I will strat driving.
Mojo - There was a miscommunication, turns out I don't need to be here yet. Headed home :)
Kristin - Be there inna bit
Chris - Cool dude. Shall we wait for you for grub? Not a problem...
Erin - When are you coming online? I want to see you and chat and what-have-you. Love you lots sunny-pants. Erin
Zack - Hey man I just wanted to leave you my friend andy's number so when you get into the train station you can give him a call and he can come pick you up.
Zack - Also our other aussie friend is getting into pomona station at 10 to 8 so if you wanted to get in at the same time that would b great.
Luke - Feel like some SC?
Zack - No worries that sounds good, andy will get u then. So just let him know when u arrive and ill see u when I get there.
Zack - Do u happen to know what bus line the 757 is?
Zack - Cool ill let andy know
Chris - Sorry bout the scare earlier! Was stressed tryin to get you on time. Have a fun trip!!!
Chris - After all that my game tonight just got cancelled!
Chris - stupid cow! You did say no one knows where they are going here but you'd think a bus driver would for gods sake! :( back on track???
Jason - Hyatt at Olive 8 is hotel name. 1635 8 Ave is address. Room is 863. Just so you have the info handy.
Ty - enjoying downtown?
Chris - How's PAX dude?
Chris - Holy crap! My favourite album of all time!!!!!!!!
Jason - Have to stop at verizon. hows the line?
Jason - We're midway in the line. they aren't letting cuts at all.
Zack - Its.pretty fun were just playin ds and talkin with ppl while the line games r ran i the background
Zack - That sux dude. I could probably do that but i don't want to commit just yet. Put me.down as a probably.tho
Mojo - Nice man, are you inside the convention center?
Mojo - I'm on duty in bandland all day, come on by.
Jason - So who is going to tonight's concert?
Jason - Anyone at benaroya?
Chris - Papers in the mornin. Bowler hat on head.
Chris - Ok I've put 25 bucks on your phone. :)
Erin - Calling from mum and Dads compuet! The mike is really shit and the cat is swalking on the keyboard.GAH!! It'll have to be tomorro when i call again!
Ty - should I bring your stuff over?
Zack - Freeplay console?
Ty - do you still have my metroid poster?
Mitch - Hey man. My number is XXXXXXX. See you tomorrow at 1230. :)
Ty - Godspeed, sunny. godspeed. hopefully I'll see you soon enough
Mitch - Hey man, quick check, do you get here at 1230 or 215? Or some other time? Not sure if you were supposed to leave or arrive at 1230.
Mitch - Haha, awesome. I will see you soon then!
Zack - Hey man we just got back to cali. Hope your travel plans went ok and we will see u in a cpl weeks
Mitch - Hey man. I will be heading back seen. There may be a friend of mine that will get there a bit before me, if so want to let him up? His name is matt. :)
Luke - Hey man, I'm about to send that figure, I hound a box; what's your brother's address?
Luke - Cool, I'll send it off tomorrow morning :D
Jag - hey leaving now. will be there in 30 min or so
Mitch - Hey man, sorry, i thought you guys were there until tomorrow for some reason. The guy can't let you in because if doesnt have a key i think. I will be back about 630, so is it alright if i just meet you then?
Mitch - Hey man. I am just on my way back now. Where are you? I can meet you where ever.
Mitch - hm, do you have anything to drop off? We can just head straight to the draw jam thing if not, and i can just meet you where you are rather than you walking all the way back to the apt.
Mitch - alright, haha, meet you at the apt then. :)
Mitch - Hey sunny, where are you at? I will be off soon so we can meet up and head over to the pub to meet with everyone if you want.
Mitch - Jeff and people are going to the blarney stone. There is a facebook event for it, you are invited.
Mitch - Sounds good man. See you there!
Mitch - Hey man. Can you make sure to lock up on your way out? Thanks!
Mitch - Hey man, we are here, where ya at?
Erin - I can't seem to phone you back, according to skype you are still online. I can wait for 15 minutes than i have to go get dinner
Rob - Hey it's Rob I'm just leaving now. Please don't tell me you are there already.
Rob - Text me the address. I'm at 1138 Hastings.
Rob - three blocks away
Rob - I'm at the cafe artigiano
Rob - One...
Rob - Two...
Chris - Presumably you didn't end up needing my card then?
Chris - Good stuff. I'm alright but took the day off as have a bit of a cold. Made 2 magic decks, played some guitar and now some mafia 2. Not too exciting really. Have fun in Portland!
Erin - Oma passed away this morning. I'll call you in about half an hour.
Zack - Hey man i just wanted to let you know we are meeting up at andys place friday night for the prerelease. Let me know when u want to meet up.
Zack - Sounds good man, ill make sure we partner up for that
Chris - So are you going to be getting to the station at 6.30? Only I have s football match at 8 tomorrow...
Chris - Bowler hat on head?
Chris - The original and the best.
Chris - Our teams not that fast!! ;)
Zack - Knows how to paaaarrttyyyy!
Chris - I'll be there asap. Still at work...
Zack - So what's the plan aquaman
Zack - Lol this whole time? Were going to all the ones we want. Im heading over to andys tomorrow after work and spending the night. The doors open at 6:30 so we will get there a bit before and play til were done. We can stay at andys for re weekend if we like
Zack - Ya the radisson. O so u aren't going to b coming with us. Ok we will b there all day
Zack - Ya it goes from 6:30-midnight
Zack - Sounds good
Chris - Come in.
Erin - Yo sunny, u watching this? Whats ur dad's number.
Erin - I can't believe it but its a draw!
Erin - Well. Sorry I woke u. I'll be better tomorro ;-). I am going to learn how to play d'n'd tomorro. I have to come ur with a character and a name and i am unsure of how to do thisn
Zack - O damn sorry about that man! Ya definitely, several of those games could have been won if we weren't flooded but no worries it was fun so come back and we will have to play again sometime
Luke - We're on the way :)
Chris - We are going to leave at 6.15 from Blizz. Cool?

And it's 5:45 now so I better get going!

Monday, September 27


I hate this country and I want to go home.

Yesterday I was in a bad mood for no evident reason. Chris and Luke played in their first Magic tournament and won a few games. I played 2HG with Zack. Zack is a fun guy, but I hated the new set. In 2HG poison decides every game in an immediate and non-interactive way. It's worse than permission magic (which I actually love). Infect is a terrible mechanic and I'm particularly angry because I know Rosewater fought the other designers to make it happen when he should have just let it go. Given the 600+ geeks in the Radisson hotel the air was also thick with infection. Perhaps I'm getting a little ill. Speaking of which, we went to Kaiser Hospital again today to try and get some paperwork so I can claim back the ridiculous $350 I had to spend to get a prescription for codeine (which you can buy over the counter in Australia for $20). It was particularly upsetting because I didn't want to go in the first place but Chris felt guilty and insisted. Not half as upsetting as the events of this second visit. Turns out the paperwork that got 'lost in the mail' was actually a bill. What I had paid was just a down payment on the $816 I owe for my visit. I'm so furious at how ridiculous it is. Chris is beating himself up about it. For taking me and then, because he has insurance and could have got painkillers easily, not lying to the staff and got them himself. The whole situation is terrible but it doesn't look like there's much I can do about it. I'll get the paperwork and then try to claim it from my insurance.

We also spent this morning trying to organise flights to Las Vegas. So far it's proving expensive and daunting and possibly not worth while. Tomorrow we'll got to a travel agent and try to get Anj's flight vouchers validated. So much business here is conducted in an underhanded way. But I guess that's not so much different from Australia, more that I don't know how to avoid it. Unfortunately neither do my international chums.
After unpacking and repacking all my bags it looks like I lost a small one somewhere between the station and Chris's apartment. It had my travel essentials so iPod, Nintendo DS, Ventolin and earplugs. No big deal.
Found it. I used my enormous powers of deduction and complete refusal to believe that I could lose something through negligence to deduce that it was in Chris' sports bag with his soccer shoes. Bam! Cheered me up before bed.

In other news the Scott Pilgrim game is fun.

Friday, September 24

What you say? No rubbish, or Ayla head go boom!

There's probably a lot that I've forgotten to write about, there's certainly a lot I didn't capture on film. Tuesday saw Kristen and I reviewing footage for most of the day (whilst enjoying Rogue, Dead Guy Ale and an assortment of Tillamook's best cheeses) and while there was plenty to see and talk about there were also big holes, where I had put the camera down to have some fun. Ironically my strongest memories are the ones when I wasn't filming so the whole things has a peculiar quality. When I get home there will have to be another beer & cheese day while we figure out what to do with this terabyte of random stuff.

After spending Wednesday in transit, a phenomenon that has become all too common, I am safely back in Irvine, CA with my good friends Luke and Chris. The next couple of weeks will be great as I take time to relax and take stock. I'm also hitting the gym to get rid of the fat I gained in my travels. All day in a train/plane seat followed by hamburgers'n'soda is not a healthy way to subsist and it's starting to show. Fortunately Luke and Chris tend to maintain a fairly healthy diet and there's a swimming pool right there *points*. This weekend we are heading into LA for a grand MtG prerelease. I have arrived back here to find they have been steadily buying more cards and playing most evenings. Their training is almost complete! All that remains is the sanctioned trial-by-fire as they pair up for some 2HG and hopefully more than a few drafts with the new set.

The following weekend is still potentially a trip to Vegas. After not being able to go to Austin I am fairly determined to at least make a night in Vegas and hey, gotta have a bucks party right? Who and where better to have it? I hear there's a pinball museum...