I downloaded Twine yesterday. I learned about it from a blogger a couple of years ago, but I had heard it could be buggy, especially on mac. I am pleased to say that so far there are no problems!
One of the first games I ever played was Zork. I'm not a technical person, but it was one of those black screened computers with the bright green writing. There was no mouse. I am not sure what it was. Zork intrigued me, and I remember playing it quite a lot, though I am not sure if I ever beat it. I read a few series of those choose-your-own-adventure tales, including Dungeons & Dragons. Ten years later when I learned about video games that let me make more choices, which may impact the ending or even change it, was I ever on board!
Dragon Age is one of the games that pulled me back into the world of games. At that time I still played games but was not very excited about many. I also was opened up to other genres -- I had previously played mostly fighting and RPG (which were usually linear, though some had puzzle aspects). With my horizons expanded, I wanted more than ever to work in games and contribute to the great variety.
I may not know how to code, but I can write. I script and write all my comics and I really enjoy the process. Besides getting the comic into black and white (the inking), editing the script is my favorite part. I took an older story of mine, about twenty pages in length, and began converting it into a choose-your-own-adventure sort of story. And not only can I write, but I can draw. I will be dropping in illustrations every few pages, depending on how heavy the text blocks become. It will be a way for me to work in the initial plans for this story, which was to be a sort of illuminated manuscript storybook.
Here is a screenshot below from Twine. It's on my computer that is still on Japanese time, so it thinks it is October first already.
On September 26th, my comic turned three years old. It was launched in 2011 on that date, though under a different name. The first half year for Spidersilk was tumultuous due to the steep learning curve of using a tablet (as well as other issues). I renamed it and doubled efforts on updating after half a year. I threw myself into networking and advertising as well. It built slowly, and after it became featured on Inkblazers.com things have been gliding along. It picks up on average 30 new readers a month and ranks in the top half of all featured comics on inkblazers quite consistently. The comic must come first, above other projects (as fun as they are!) and I have been spending much time on it.
For the third anniversary I initially thought I could get the copy ready for print, and that is still in the works, but I haven't completed the necessary work for that yet.
So ... I decided to do a promotional event, for whatever I can manage at my moment. I am reading "Console Wars" and it makes me want to aggressively market something, anything -- good thing I have a comic! It made me think for quite some time on what I could do with what I had, and what was going to be the most beneficial for the comic. So, I basically asked fans to share the comic, and add why they liked it. Simple, takes little time, is fairly easy for me to track entries, and will give me a really good idea from otherwise silent fans what it is about Spidersilk that is interesting, unique, and catches attention to better help me promote it in the future. (Tumblr post details)
A week ago I began drawing this to put up as a thank you to readers. Clothes-swapping is always good, though I don't know what the heck Prentice (far right) is doing. He is either not a very good fashion model or an exceptional one. I can't really tell!
Here are the promised (per the previous post) mage hats on the unimpressed Morrigan (of Dragon Age).
I sat down to design mage hats and was stumped. There are already a lot of colorful hoods in Dragon Age, with about half of them being a bit too goofy for me to want to wear.... So I decided to throw caution to the wind and went colorful and flamboyant to see what would happen. I often practice in extremes before I settle when working with something new.
First I attempted some speed painting for Morrigan. I don't quite have the hang of it yet, but I am now enjoying it.
Then it came to actually making the hats. I drew silhouettes first, then layered colors on top of that. As for the designs themselves, I began to think what is it that makes a mage hat a mage hat. A simple cowl or hood would probably look best for a game character, but in terms of practiced actual magic, items hold meaning, embody certain gods and goddesses or their traits (ie protection, war, archery). I thought about items people have worn in the past, sewn into clothes, to avert the evil eye, call luck, etc. Colors are also associated with certain traits, magical or not -- red with passion, aggression, etc for instance. I chose bright colors. For decoration, I decided natural items were best: antlers, pearls, feathers, gems, etc. Particular patterns, visible in the far right mage hat, might evoke some sort of magic or ritual casting.
The hats are still undergoing critiques on my social media. It seems like favor is swinging between one and two.
The first hat was done on thinking about the "Green Man," the god of the hunt, present in much of Celtic paganism. He is often depicted as wearing green and with antlers of some sort. The second was a lot simpler -- it was based on an owl. The cowl was initially a rich purple as I'd decided on bright colors, but it made the overall hat look a bit like the Shredder (TMNT). Finally the orange one quite literally has a hat brim, and was based on some of the Jaffa helmets from Stargate SG-1 (Horus guards, I believe, with the bird sort of appearance), though it's not too evident it seems.
I was struck with inexplicable inspiration in a bank parking lot the other day – mage hats. Mage hats would be my next design challenge.
I like the games that I do these challenges for, and I mostly like the appearances of characters and the world. It's more for the challenge of designing for a world I had nothing to do with.
Why mage hats? I think the mage hats have become a bit of a running joke with not only the fans, but the Dragon Age team as well. I remember listening to a podcast where some of the creators joked about making the hats better for DA2 since they had apparently received a lot of comments on the hat designs!
I started with research. I typed in “Dragon Age” and “mage hats” and was instantly rewarded with results like “Are there any mage hats that don’t look like total crap?” with entire forums devoted to how people get around the mage hats – some posters said that their mages always ended up in plate to avoid the hats, while others suggested using a very specific hat to be found from the circle or to use studded light helmets ... or nothing. The seriousness and outright helpful attitudes with which this concern was addressed was entertaining and in a weird way heart-warming. Such intense passion for helping other players’ mages not look silly! These hats are serious business.
Below is an image I found on tumblr, but the original poster seems to have deleted the initial post. However, it's still being reblogged. It has over a thousand notes on it!
So what is it about the mage hats? Though I do think they improved a lot in Dragon Age 2 (well ... mostly), fans are still having a bit of a field day. I think part of it is that mages are traditionally seen with the witch hat or some kind of hood. The concept artists apparently decided against that and have been explored other options.
So it'll be fun. Like the these designs, I will try to avoid, for the most part, the often-seen wizard, witch, mage, or magic hats. I suspect I'll find it is rather difficult, but that is the point!
Step one will be the same as with the Fenris armors design challenge. I’ll draw several items, then release them on my social media for voting and critique. After that I’ll take the winning designs and ideate some more designs.
I leave you with this not-very-impressed Morrigan, from Dragon Age: Origins, wearing the Apprentice cowl. (Source: dragonage wikia)
Now that all the moving from country to country thing is settled, I've had time to get back into a schedule. Spidersilk is updating three times a week and commissions have opened!
Below is a commission for six costumes for a D&D character by northernvehemence. The character is a bard who raps, and the world is a bit steampunk. I was pretty excited by this one! Very fun to do.
I've also been able to do a fair amount of personal illustrations. My recent one is a romantic fantasy image. I really wanted to do this one because I don't find the pose all that romantic yet I have seen it in a lot of places! I have this thing about drawing cliche poses -- in fantasy, pin-ups, whatever. Otherwise my "couple" illustrations are a bit weird, and they are always doing something like reading or eating for some reason.
Anyway, here's the sketch. The final version will appear in the illustration section of my portfolio.
Since this image was fairly successful (even with this pose!) with its flat coloring and dusty palette, I might try out something similar for the elusive Dragon Age fan art I keep trying to do. My Dragon Age II is somewhere over the ocean on a boat being shipped from Japan to home, but I could always make up a new Hawke. I have about six of them anyway!