In the Beginning…

I just came across this old comic strip, which if I recall correctly, was to be the first of many during the course of my now ill-fated MattontheMoon project.  I’m pretty sure this is the only one I ever completed.

Image

I’ve been hard at work in Photoshop trying to resurrect my old comic book, so if all goes well, we should be getting a good “then and now” comparison of my digital drawing skills very soon.

Drawing Again!

A couple months ago, I created an account on a Japanese website called Pixiv.  It’s a place to upload drawings and creative gobbledygook.  It’s basically the Japanese counterpart to DeviantArt.com, which I tend to avoid due to it’s name which makes me feel like some kind of pedophile, and also for the fact that there are tons of pictures of anthropomorphic animals having sex with each other on there.

Pixiv is no better, really, but at least it’s in Japanese and I can’t read the comment sections which is nice.

Anyhoo, here’s some kind of link I printed out from the site which may or may not take you to my Pixiv page.  Sorry if it doesn’t work.  I’m tired and I’m going to give this one shot.

http://embed.pixiv.net/blogparts.php?md=m&id=kid_infinity_eb094e8636263251e41e8941eb29b71a&logoColor=0x258FB8&bgColor=0xFFFFFF&btnColor=0xFFFFFF&allowColor=0x258FB8&nanameColor=0xEDEDED&wakuColor=0x999999&tabColor=0xFF9900&fontColor=0x000000

Mars500 Experiment: The Definitive “End of an Era” in Space Exploration

Seventeen months ago, somewhere in Moscow, a group of international space aviators climbed into a big metal capsule and pretended to fly to Mars.  I’ll let you read some excerpts from the BBC article and draw your own conclusions on the importance of this faux mission to the red planet.  Afterwards, feel free to read my rant if you have the stomach for it.

The full article can be found here.

After 520 days of isolation, three Russians, two Europeans and a Chinese man have emerged from their sealed capsule.

Their 70-million mile journey within the confines of a warehouse in Moscow is complete, bringing to an end the simulated flight by the European Space Agency that sought to test the physiological and psychological impact of a mission to Mars…

…In February, three of the crew members made a mock landing on Mars – complete with space suits and assisted by a robot rover. But in fact, they were still in a Moscow suburb.

The mission “tried to make the surface look like Mars” using sand, but it was no comparison to the planet’s lack of oxygen or gravity levels, says Christer Fuglesang, head of the Science and Application Division of ESA…

…A real mission to Mars would actually take about three years, almost double the time of the Mars500 experiment, says Mr Wade.

Once there, the crew would spend about 18 months on the planet’s surface, carrying out research while Earth and Mars realigned sufficiently for the trip back.

Perhaps the most obvious difference is that the Mars500 simulation went nowhere.

"To Infinity...and Beyond!"

“The people in the Mars simulation know that they’re on Earth,” says Mr Whitehouse. “If they really needed to, they could open a door and get out.”

For that reason, it doesn’t provide the same stressful environment of a real mission.

My take is this:  we’re done with space travel.  It’s over.  We’ll never go to Mars.  Forty years ago we were blasting people off the planet and landing on the moon.  Now we’re just playing make-believe, and for what?  What could they possibly have hoped to learn from putting half a dozen people in solitary confinement for a year and a half?  “Woohoo! They didn’t go crazy and murder each other!  It’s TOTALLY possible to send someone to Mars!”

Right.  If only our governments had the funding or the desire.  In case you’re curious or just don’t believe how stupid this whole thing is, here’s a very boring video of our heroes getting out of the capsule:

http://www.space.com/13503-mars500-crew-emerges-520-day-simulation.html

I feel a little sorry for the guys in the pod.  Since the Cold War ended, nobody really ever reaches for the stars anymore.   However, the dream is still alive in a lot of individuals.  These guys dedicated their whole lives to the pursuit, and in the end they got stuffed in a tin can and sold a year and a half of their lives for basically nothing.  They’re never going to Mars.  No one is.  Ever.

War was the catalyst that produced the Space Race.  We wanted to see who could make the bigger rocket, and by extension, the bigger bomb.  Now that mankind has all but perfected the science of dropping massive warheads on people, what possible motivation is left to justify the cost of traveling through to the stars?

Stunts like this are lip-service to a future that will never be.

Future.

That used to be such an amazing word to me.  Those of you who grew up with Ray Bradbury and Gene Rodenbury probably know what I’m talking about.  With every passing day I begin to believe more and more that the future is dead.  In school, we were basically taught that the passage of time would ultimately yield more and more progress.  More technology.  More discovery.

It breaks my heart to see us rolling backwards downhill on something that means so much to so many people.

Stopgap!

Hello world!

I’m finally reconnected and enjoying the 21st century in all its crazy technological glory.  The internet is something I’ve missed dearly, and the absence of my pen tablet has prevented my created juices from escaping.  In short, I am full of juice.

But no more!

The sweet, sweet internet is a stranger to me no longer, and to top it all off I just dropped a hundred and eighty bucks on a pretty awesome Wacom Bamboo pen tab.  I’m hitting the juice eject button on my brain and starting to create  some fun digital artwork.  In the meantime?  Here’s a stopgap to, uh, stop the gap in my blog entries.

This is an oldie but, I’ve always thought, a goodie.  I got a C+ on it a couple years ago in my drawing class.  My teacher never believed that digital artwork fell into the realm of “drawings.”  Jerk.

So…I hear the Bible’s pretty popular these days.  But think of the audience they’d reach if they just threw out all those dusty leather books and tailored God’s Word for today’s hip young brandscape.  I present The Bible 2.0!

Jesus is ripped, Judas is a hot goth chick, and the whole thing takes place in space.

Fun Fact:  The Bible’s actually pretty exciting if you summarize it in less than two hundred words.

So cut out the nonsense, throw in some laser beams, get rid of the robes and deserts and give the kids something they can relate to.  After all, what’s more important, the message or the medium?

Discuss!

Setting the Bar for Game Trailers

Having just stumbled across the new trailer for Dead Island on Kotaku, I can start to understand why an impulsive movie exec might want to scoop up the film rights to a game that’s only still in development.

Follow the link and watch it full screen, if you know what’s good for you.

What bothers me is this:  Trailers for video games are never really indicative of the product they’re trying to sell.  Despite the similarities, movies and video games are seperate mediums.  A person’s ability to artfully craft a cinematic narrative doesn’t really reflect their ability to create, compile, and deliver an interesting three dimensional world for a user to interact with.

That being said, this is easily the best game trailer I’ve ever seen.  I just hope the developers haven’t inadvertantly set expectations too high by creating a video that’s too awesome.

Best TV in the World

Don't Laugh

In case you were wondering what I’ve been watching on TV here in Japan, it’s stuff like this.

Gaki no Tsukai

I guess this show was pretty popular a few years back, but everyone says it’s not as good now as it used to be. 

I beg to differ.

In any case, the premise is this: Laugh, and You Will Be Punished.

If you like this, you can also find Part 2 of the onsen episode on youTube, as well as the famous “Silent Library,” where the comedians play Russian Roulette in a library to see what sorts of ridiculous stunts they can perfom on one another without disturbing the bookworms.

EDIT: I removed some of the youtube links–copyright violation.  Gomen nasai…

Final Fantasy XII: International Zodiac Job System

I can’t remember exactly when I started hating this game.  I guess one of the pitfalls of having a nearly six year development cycle is that it gives people plenty of time to start hating your game for no good reason.  All I can say is: 

Sorry, Square-Enix.  I was wrong.

Final Fantasy XII is a materpiece.  Great characters and a great story, all set in an amazingly believeable world.  Definitely the most fun I’ve had with a Final Fantasy game since #7. 

Over the years, I’ve slowly lost interest in the FF series.  I used to think that maybe I’d become jaded, or simply grown out of the series’ target demographic.  Nope.  Turns out I still love the shit, it’s just been a while since Square has made something that really knocked my socks off. 

My only regret is that it’s taken me almost three years to come around to this gem.  It sort of makes me wonder if the current bad taste FF XIII has given me will eventually be washed away as well.

I’m playing the Internation version, which means cutscenes are in English, but everything else–menus and text dialogue–are still in Japanese.  It’s really not as bad as it sounds.  If you can read katakana, you’re good to go.

The International version also includes a bunch of extra license boards and other shit I’m not equipped to comment on because I never really played the original version.  Also included is a bonus DVD that includes a huge amount of concept art, interviews, and a detailed runthrough of every major FF game ever released.

And it comes in a pretty box (see above).

The only stumbling block so far is the game’s Gambit system, whose menus are litered with kanji and nonsensical Japanese characters.  It was hard enough to figure out when I toyed with the American version a couple years ago, and now it’s basically impossible because of the language barrier.  Instead, I find myself pausing battles and issuing individual orders to characters.  It’s a bit slower this way, but doesn’t hinder my enjoyment.

In summary:  Good shit.  Pick it up if, like me, you were stupid enough to pass it up the first time around.