Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Death of a Macintosh

 I have no idea how it came to be like this but the computer that I've used proudly for 8 whole years suddenly froze in the middle of a typical internet session, forcing me to do a soft reset. When I turned the computer on, to my utter shock, I was greeted to a "no" symbol.

Turns out the hard drive decided to fail randomly on me and I was scrambling around trying to figure out if it did indeed fail or if certain parts of the disk were still safe, and no, it was busted. And I had not backed anything up for it (ironic considering how much I like to preserve things like old games) so a restore through Time Machine wouldn't cut it. A friend of my father's even stopped by to further investigate the computer, realizing that the disk drive could not be read by the computer despite it otherwise seemingly being functional.

So after some afternoon errands I took the computer to a nearby Best Buy and they refused to do anything related to touching the innards of the machine, so I then took the computer to a not-so nearby fella that had made my personalized Windows 8 five years ago. He took apart the machine no problem and tested the hard drive. This was how I knew the issue was a failing hard drive and... somehow it had been slowly dying over the past several years only for me not to have realized it and now it was to the point where it couldn't realistically run. The guy said I could have the hard drive mailed out to a specialist group that was based around getting the contents out of dead drives and have had a 99.99% success rate, so I took the plunge and let him mail out the nonfunctional drive as well as improve some of the internal specs of my 2012 model iMac for the low low price of 600 dollars.

The bad news was it's going to take them around two weeks to complete the data extraction, including the 1.5 TB's worth of files, images, and music. In other words that means if the data can be extracted, if at all, I'm going to be forced to wait till the end of this month before I can resume any of my big projects, most of which is more content for SRB2Kart. I did try to jump back into regular artwork lately but my attempt to work with the pose/posture I decided on for Ptolema wasn't going to cut it, so when I do get my Mac back (heh.) Ptolema's pose will be further refined until I get something fluid and dynamic while also not being far, far out of my league (then again she's in skintight but I do have some ideas to make her outfit more interesting).

If the drive can't be recovered then I'll be spending quite a lot of time trying to build everything up back to where I was and I don't know how easy or hard it would be considering nothing I was working on was archived properly barring the stuff I shared over the many Discord channels I'm in.

As a form of last ditch-effort I threw Photoshop onto my PC. It may not do me that good until I have access to my files due to the different form factor and having to reconfigure everything but at least it's an option for doodling or sketching and maybe some other minor content. As for now I'd rather wait until I know I can continue working on my main projects before I start tinkering with stuff on my PC (besides I feel burnt out from constantly making kart racers for several months straight) but maybe I'll make something interesting if I'm bored enough.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Nothing new, really?

I'ma be real with you, everyone. Lately there just has not been anything worth commenting on- all I can say is I'm slowly grinding through more SRB2Kart characters and polishing out the occasional Wiki. 

It should go without saying that every convention I've been eyeing up this year was canceled. Which is fine in a way since 2016 was a nice warm up, 2017 was pretty packed with cons and both 2018 and 2019 were home to six major cons and a small number of smaller local cons each. I met a gigantic roster of artists and captured so many good memories in just those four years (especially in the latter two years) that taking the year off doesn't really impact me as much as I thought it would. Still it was a bit heartbreaking seeing all these cons I've familiarized myself so much with in the past two years being forced to cancel due to the ongoing pandemic.

Honestly atm I might just end up reusing this graphic next year since it was a good way to kill an afternoon and it's got some of the more recent additions to my roster of OC's.

Monday, June 29, 2020

The late June experience

Yeayea, I know I had planned to make a post for my birthday but it kind of just fell by the wayside. Especially now that adulthood means birthdays have not as much oomph as they once did and my inability to go and do things outside my home severely limits what I could have done on that day anyways. It was a fine birthday all things considered but it does leave me wishing for more.

Con-wise, as I established already, pretty much every con up to Long Island Retro Gaming Expo was dropped due to the ongoing virus (you can do online events and such but they don't have much of the charm that makes cons fun to attend for me). That leaves the two New York-based conventions as the only cons that are still planning to welcome guests on their respective dates.

With how things are progressing and the fact I had to miss more than half of the major conventions I was planning on attending this year (plus considering how crowded these cons in particular got last year especially with AnimeNYC's new layout and boosted attendance), I may hold off on attending these last two cons if they were to avoid the cancel-hammer out of safety for myself and since I kind of need the break from cons after spending 2017, 2018, and 2019 going to convention after convention and convention.

They get kinda expensive too and trying to get tickets and find parking at the cons themselves was as counter-productive as ever (except for the local cons) but let's not talk about that.

I'll probably reserve plans for SRB2Kart and what else is on the table for a post next month.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Slow Times

Hey there. I'm not really sure what to go on about in terms of content, just haven't been feeling my usual wave of creativity as we speak.

Partially from how stagnant (and dare I say, boring) my personal life has gotten as a result of the pandemic. Virtually every convention in the foreseeable future is postponed, local businesses are either closed or greatly impacted, and I'm not able to go meet up with others in public, whenever it be at the redemption arcade or wherever. It's sad, honestly.

So it's discouraged me from trying to get stuff accomplished just from how... I won't say depressed but I wouldn't say it's super-great either things have been. SRB2Kart is still the main focus and I might end up spending the whole rest of 2020 finishing up the mass selection of racers I have planned. And well, I'll see when exactly I get to finish them cause I've been struggling a wee bit with them. That's what not being exactly super-motivated does to you, so I unfortunately can't give an exact release on Springman or Sunset Overdriver other than "we'll see", so expect one of them to drop in mid to late June. And if 2.0 Kart ever stealth-drops, I'll start on a project to get all my current racers in the new kart frame model before I resume with making more (which shouldn't take as long apart from the sheer number of racers there are to convert).

Onto other things- I would like to get started on some art sometime this Summer, but when in the summer is still in the air. It all honestly depends on how much I'm able to get done with other things and if I'm not super bummed out from not being able to do anything interesting since mid March thanks to the pandemic. I did write a few things about the Aozoraverse but it's not really in a state that I'd like to share it, and I'm still leaning towards relying on outsourcing character designs to other artists for the time being- though not really as often as I once did with the increasing prices artists charge for designs and DeviantART being pretty near-unreliable for getting designers that do the exact kind fo character you want.

Anyways I'll stop here cause I don't know what else to say.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

2020 Conventions: A followup

Okay so it's been quite a while since I reported on what I was planning for conventions this year and wow. In the period from March 14th to today, both Castle Point Anime Convention 2020 and AnimeNEXT 2020 get canceled as a result fo the virus floating around (and numbers still going up even if we're all still being confined to our living spaces). The rest of the conventions throughout the the year either followed suit or are still waiting out on if things get any better (let's face it, it likely won't)

With how things are progressing I may just call a year off from conventions just to keep on the safe side. I've been to two major cons in 2016, a few more in 2017, and then 2018 and 2019 being the first two years where I attended all of the "signature cons" without skipping one for one reason or another. So if I were to indeed call "this year off" it wouldn't mean or impact much since I've been to so many conventions, large and small, over the past four years.

The earliest con I'm willing to consider attending this year is Long Island Retro Gaming Expo 2020. I'm uncertain about NYCC2020 unless that gets canceled since it's on a much bigger scale compared to most of the other cons. As for AnimeNYC2020, I'm going to try seeing about attending that convention as well even if it's massively grown in scale from the first two years.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

SRB2Kart: Going forward

Alright, clearly I lied when I said I wanted to put aside working on this game in favor of doing other projects because I ended up coming back to it in what may be my biggest death wish ever. Especially while my area continues to be under the threat of the virus sweeping the nation, but that's a story for another day.

Since SRB2Kart Version 2.0 never happened and likely won't happen for quite a while, I figured I'd bite the bullet and do my "Character Refurbishment/Renovation" project alongside bringing two new, highly-detailed racers to the roster. That basically means every racer from the Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff duo to the Noid are getting some kind of alteration, either a full on remake in the case of Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff to simply making the legs and feet of the racers on-model.

These changes to the pack will be carried out in what I hope to be two, maybe three versions of the Super Justin Bros Character Pack. 2.0.1, 2.1, and 2.2.

2.0.1 along with some minor changes not worth mentioning (really, they're super-minor) will feature the Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff remakes as well as touchups to the Vinesauce duo, Scott Pilgrim, and The Noid while also putting in my Beat remake from last year as a bonus. 2.1 will be the debut of the Sunset Overdriver and a touchup to Slash Kamel with cleaned up hair and better two-tone support with the maroon color, and 2.2 will see the release of SRB2Kart's first pinball rep, Dr. Dude. From there the pack will very likely enter another period of dormancy so I can put some effort into other projects as I mentioned in my last post on SRB2Kart. I may dip back into the game every now and then to do light progress on more racers and fill out more stat blocks with little representation, but I'm not making any promises if I decide to go a while without working on a kart racer.

Two of the racers currently in the pack, Pipo Monkey and the Self-Propelled Bomb, will also be removed from the pack starting from 2.0.1 for various reasons. For the Pipo Monkey, his sprites feel outdated and have a certain ounce of "laziness" to them so I'm thinking of scrapping and coming back to the racer in the future. As for the Self-Propelled Bomb (aka the thing that chases after you in first place), the novelty of it wears off quickly and I feel the concept of a playable S.P.B. can be executed better with lua scripting, which I don't know. But if you are curious, here is a diagram showing how I'd like to revamp the SPB racer:

If the image is a bit hard to understand, I'll sum it up. Since I created the SPB racer, I always wanted it to better interact with the SPB item that when used chases after the leader of the race. In that the SPB itself jumps out of the kart when the item is used and makes a mad dash for the one currently leading the race (maybe with a "SPB cam" on-screen somewhere showing it trailing the leading racer) while a "SPB essence", a less-aggressive looking SPB with either a fully bare body or a smaller colorable ring continues to drive its Kart. When the SPB is either destroyed or collides with the leading racer, it remerges with its essence and returns to driving its Kart. Even if this full scope revamp of the SPB happens, it'll likely remain a separate racer from the pack as it already has two "sprite rip" racers in the form of Robo-hood and Gargoyle, both whom I'm waiting until Kart 2.0 before I start porting their redesigns from SRB2 2.2 over.

Anyways that's all I really have to say. I expected 2020 to be a year where I could take a nice break from Kart but after realizing all this stuff to do was piling up, I figured I'm jump back into action and finish what I had started.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

2020 Conventions

Yup, It's that time of the year again. A new year, a new lineup of anime, comic, and video game conventions. And this year it's not exactly much different from 2019 in terms of the lineup, with the same six major conventions that I attended since 2018.

The one major factor here however is, well, North America, in particular New York and New Jersey, is currently under the scare of the Coronavirus and politics clearly hyping it up to be some mega ultra deadly virus that will absolutely kill anyone who contracts it. And this month with cases flying around the locations of these cons among others, conventions have either had to cancel or continue on with less attendees. This graph, however, assumes none of the conventions are harshly impacted by the virus by the time May rolls around with Castle Point Anime Convention 2020, in which the rising temperatures will force the virus into dormant state.

But enough about some virus, let's get into the big meat of the post. Once again I pulled out some characters to represent the trips to the six big-name conventions I'm targeting this year (though I tried to make the image more stylized and detailed) and for the most part the cons are all as you remember them, two in New Jersey, two on my homeland of Long Island, and two deep in New York City. The change comes in what months two of the cons take place: Castle Point got the very early May slot (which is usually the slot it does get if it does not secure a late April timeframe like last year) and Eternal Con moved from late June to mid July. The rest of the conventions are still set in their typical timeframes: AnimeNEXT in mid June, Long Island Retro Gaming in early August, NYCC in early October, and AnimeNYC in mid-late November. With the timings being adjusted, that means I get four months straight of conventions followed by a break in September, then two more months straight of cons. It's honestly pretty crazy, but I've seen friends of mine that attend lots more conventions year-round. And while I would like to attend more cons myself, I'm... not exactly sure if I'm ready for venturing out further away.

You may have noticed that unlike last year, I did not pick out exact dates for the conventions as I did last year. There were multiple times last year where I had to change the date I was planning on attending a certain con (including changing the accompanying con timeline image) after pre-planning for that one day for months. So this year I will just go with announcing the date on social media but for the most part expect em to attend a convention on either Friday or Saturday (for three and four day cons) or Saturday only (for two-day cons). I still don't have it up to me to attend a con for two or more days straight as I always "exhaust" the con on the day I do visit (and not to mention even if hotels are getting steadily better if you pick the commercial ones, I don't have a laptop to game on or work on projects while I'm away). If you all remember, I spent 10 hours at AnimeNEXT last year and walked several thousand steps that day- I don't think my legs would be up for another day of what is effectively running a marathon across the convention centers.

(seriously where are the spare benches and seats in these cons? People just parking their butts on the concrete floor should have sent a message to con organizers by now).

Anyways I'll be back when I have more stuff that's worthy enough to stick in a blogpost.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Kuball Net: Lost(?) Japanese Doujin game

Once upon a time, it was December 2018 and I was watching some Sunday Night Vinesauce, typically containing corruptions and/or grab bags of different games, some well known (like the nineteenth-millionth Super Mario 64 corruption or the thousandth Banjo-Kazooie opening sequence but messed up) and some obscure (late 90's early 2000's PC games, prototype collections, and "failed mascots"). This time the theme was Japanese indie games, aka doujin soft games typically sold through a convention held twice a year known as the Comic Market, or Comiket.

Now as you are are likely to know I'm no stranger to doujin games. A little around twelve years ago I discovered a little game known as Rosenkreuzstilette and... let's just say my relationship with said game was kind of complicated and while I gave the sequel released some time later a fair chance and will admit it's good, it was kind of disappointing with how very little the game took the Mega Man formula and twisted it into something new and fresh. But that's a story for another day and I would absolutely not like to alienate the RKS fandom as my younger, less controlled freshman at high school self did all those years back.

Anyways back to the topic on hand. This is Kuball Net (クゥるぼ~る), a doujin soft game from 2003, developed by Studio Til. Like RKS, it was sold at Comiket for a few years with a trial version available for download online which contained a limited roster of characters and stages, (three each) Unlike RKS, the full version was never re-released in digital format and the current website of the studio makes no mention of Kuball Net. There are footage and screens of the full version and you can get a partial archive of the old site, but a download or other means to acquire the full game is practically nonexistent. It's a similar situation to a number of shareware games from the DOS era that never had their registered versions uploaded online or put up on digital storefronts. I'd even say Aquanoid, one of my personal favorites, was subject to this.

So I've told you this game is not easily accessible without getting into detail on what kind of game it exactly is. Well it's a sorts game of sorts where you play as one of several female characters, grab little fuzzy creatures known as Ku, and throw them into your goal to score while throwing barrels and  using special attacks on your opponent to disrupt them and throw evil black Ku into their goal to lower their score. If one side stashes up too many Ku, the referee, the small siren girl Lou, pops out of one of the goals and runs around the arena. If stunned and thrown back into a goal, whichever side Lou was thrown into will be at a huge disadvantage.

The three characters of the demo include:

Fal, the cute and sweet (according to her oversized eyes and blush stickers) girl with long blue hair,
Tiara, the pink-haired lady with a fiery passion,
and Diva, who quickly grew to be my favorite of the three girls if you know my love for tough characters.

Among them included the likes of cat girls Mia and Rin, the athletic long-haired Ayane, and the kind of nerdy(?) Yukari. Two other characters, Iris and G Yukarin, got introduced afterwards, bumping up the roster to nine, as shown in this pic below.

(from left to right: G Yukarin, Rin, Tiara, Ayane, Fal, Mia, Yukari, Diva, Iris)

This game isn't exactly on my high-priority list of games to own and I'm sure if I did get it, not much would change except having to swap out the demo version that's been on my Windows 2000 since last year with the full release version (and possibly being able to post more assets of the game online onto the Spriters' Resource for archival purposes, plus if I ever decide to maybe do a full on remake with more characters/stages and a new "arrange mode").

That's all for now.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Karted Out

For pretty much the entirety of 2019, I was a frequent contributor to the game "Sonic Robo Blast 2 Kart", an extensive mod of Sonic Robo Blast 2 that I've mentioned years ago on this blog (and I mean years ago). How did I contribute? Well, I crafted a good haul of custom racers featuring both well known and obscure characters, some of which were created for special collaboration packs. However, with my latest creation taking me literal months to complete (though that can be attributed to it being a quad character update) with progress running through several conventions in the latter half of 2019, I thought I'd take a break from doing more racers for the time being. And even when I tried to work on more racers when saw break was "up", I started having trouble keeping focused on one thing and not zoning out.

So what's happening? Well I figured it'd have to happen at some point but I'm going to be taking a hiatus from working on racers for the time being. I might squeeze some progress out once in a while but my priorities are elsewhere. To make a long story short I'll give you guys a brief summary on why this may be the best course of action:

  • Burnout. Sonic Robo Blast 2 Kart character creation became the biggest priority of the year alongside sprite-ripping, and it became so frequent that I even had to call for a break from doing sprite sheets just so I could focus on SRB2Kart, and even after finishing up all my racers for the year, I still don't feel the audacity to resume ripping sprites. Pretty much every day I was doing one or the other and it was honestly getting less fun as I went, trying to shift back and fourth from project to project. And that's not even getting into the lesser racers that I worked on outside of the SJBCP.
  • Some physical condition crap. Since August of last year some things began popping up regarding my arms/shoulders as well as my neck, in addition to allergy and sinus problems. And since conventions are going to be starting up soon for me once again (and by soon I mean in early May) I need to try and prep myself and my form when the time comes.
  • Artwork. While I haven't started on anything major yet, there may be a point this year when I decide to whip out my art programs and make some art. Some of it will be available to the public, others may very well only be for a limited audience (and if you've seen my past project you'll likely know why). But my point stands that art still takes a while to do and I'd like to try and get some art worked on over the year if the problems under "Some Physical Condition crap" lessen up and I don't feel as terrible.
  • Custom levels in games. I'm part of the team for a friend's Pac-Man project and I've become the team's main level designer (so yeah I did manage to get into working on a Pac-Man related project after all) and I've been considering picking up my Mari0 map pack again and working on it some more since I kind of neglected it for most of last year (but that can mostly be attributed to newer Photoshop being slightly harder to make retro backgrounds on since I haven't figured out how to make the transparent background a 16x16 tiled pattern when zoomed in). There's also Otaku-Ball, but as I've had no contact from Mr. Block for quite a while, that project is pretty much on hiatus too.
  • Binging games. Oh yeah I play games too. Sonic Robo Blast 2 had a proper update, Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled is still having monthly "Grand Prix" events, I'm still collecting and strengthening Pokemon in Sword and Shield, and I recently got back into OpenRCT2.
  • Kart's 2.0 update still MIA. Since Kart hasn't had a major update in quite some time while the newer 2.0 build is worked on, it's also been a sort of contribution to the lack of motivation to work a good deal on more racers.
The SJBCP is currently at 25 racers, with some racers planned for a big overhaul of sorts as part of a "tuning update" to prep the pack for Kart 2.0. When I get motivation to work on more racers, the tuning update will be done alongside new racers, to the point where one update might be a new racer + a major tuning update or a new racer plus several minor tuning updates. These will tweak and fix colors and several other errors to update everyone up to current standards.

As for future racers...
  • Sunset Overdriver (9 speed 6 weight) and Springman (6 speed 5 weight) will likely be the next two racers to join the pack, in that order. Along with or sometime after Springman, Dr. Dude (9 speed 8 weight) will be worked on.
  • "MGS2" Solid Snake (2 speed 9 weight) and "MGR" Riden (9 speed 7 weight) from the Metal Gear Solid series will follow in the stead of the two/three racers. Snake will differ from the currently-released Snake racer in that this take will be based more closely around the Metal Gear Solid 2 version of the character. Both Snake and Raiden are intended to be worked on and released simultaneously but Snake may be released first/early if progress with Raiden is slow.
  • Tracer (9 speed 4 weight) will likely follow after the MGS duo, with Neku Sakuraba (8 speed 6 weight) not long after.
  • The "Ninjala Duo" consisting of Van (8 speed 4 weight) and Berecca (9 speed 3 weight), the main duo used for promoting the currently-Switch-exclusive Ninjala are on low priority as they're part of A) an upcoming game and B) two of SRB2Kart's most overused weight classes (fast lightweight and fast middleweight). We'll see if I feel motivated to work on them after the games get released.
  • The Mr. Driller duo, containing Susumu (4 speed 4 weight) and Taizo Hori (1 speed 8 weight), are also low priority. Partially since both racers already exist in Kart in some way; Susumu being based on his older look from the first Mr. Driller, while Taizo is based around his debut game: Dig Dug. The versions I will work on will use the "modern" versions of both, using the looks/artstyle of the characters from Mr. Driller A, Drill Land and Drill Spirits.
  • Other racers, which include the likes of Yuichiro Tomari, Coca-Cola Kid, the DMC Duo with DMC5 Dante and DMC5 Nero (as DMC3 Dante already exists), Mister Mosquito, and Asterix, are currently TBD.
  • Maybe a few joke racers similar to 7 Grand Dad, but don't hold your breath on those.
And with that I've made my case. Apologies for January not being as eventful as I had hoped but I'm currently stuck in some crap that I need to get sorted out, even if that's more to do with my form and being too lazy to do work. In the meantime you can experience what I've done so far for Kart if you haven't already here.

Monday, December 30, 2019

It's 2020 already?

Well it's December 31st, and what felt like one of my more busy years of productivity is now going to become a long-distant memory, as is the tenth year I spent with an online presence of some sorts.

And technically the entry into 2020 also marks the end of another decade and people use that as a tool to celebrate and look back on what they did for the past 10 years. As for me, I don't really have much to comment on other than I think this decade was when I finally decided to grow up. Over those 10 years I discovered many new hobbies and made the biggest leap in artistic quality ever in my life as the previous decade ended and this one begun. And it's also where my most successful project, Aozora's Adventure, took off and grew to what it is today, and while there's still lots of development and planning for the project, I'm glad it's been coming to life thanks to all the artists I've partnered with over the decade.

Perhaps the biggest impact of the decade was all the new people I met over the years and all the ones that I could consider honest-to-true friends. Sadly, not every one that I met in the earlier years of the decade managed to least until now, with artists and the like abandoning or leaving their social media presence and taking my ability to interact with them as a side-effect. Thankfully the new friends I've made as the later half of the 2010's rolled in managed to fill in most if not all of the gaps that were left by the people that vanished from time and space. And in 2016 at the suggestion of a friend of mine, I attended my first convention in the form of Castle Point Anime Convention 2016, and from there I made efforts to visit future local and semi-local conventions as a form of meeting and communicating with artists I followed and friends I made that were also into the same interests I had. It also kickstarted a further appreciation for the art of cosplay and led me to start photographing cosplayers at these conventions, leading to this year's AnimeNEXT in June where I managed to snap 190 total photos across the convention.

So where am I now? Well I decided to take a small holiday break from working on any long-term projects to spend some time with the family and wind down after spending months working on Splatoon racers for Sonic Robo Blast 2 Kart and not much else. Plus after so many conventions in 2019 (two in New Jersey, two in NYC, and another five local conventions) I needed some time to unwind and maybe start on some new projects without the pressure of a convention getting to me. Luckily the next con I will be attending won't be for another several months which should be enough to work on a thing or two before I set of getting my cardio on the concrete floors of the convention centers (seriously is it that hard to set up some benches!?).

Anyways I think I'll leave it at that before this post gets too long and drawn out. See you all next year.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Oh Poser...

Okay, I have no idea how it happened, but because I've heard Adobe is killing support for Adobe Flash soon and it's automatically turned off on every new site, it somehow crept into my Poser and broke literally one of the most important parts of the program.

So now I'm kinda stuck with either trying to figure out how two get this thing to work again, or upgrade for $100. And considering this version of Poser is very, very old, I very well may end up just bitting the bullet and upgrading.

Funny that I had to do the same thing with Photoshop early last January after it suddenly started crashing every time I looked at it funny.

Anyways this basically means I'm being forced to go on hiatus from full body arts until I can get this fixed/updated. I planned on going on break anyways for the holidays due to my psychical condition being a bit questionable lately (it's not a subject I want to discuss and I'm sure it wouldn't change much if I explained what's up in detail) and me spending way too much time on this one Sonic Robo Blast 2 Kart project that I spent literal months on.

But yeah that's pretty much how things are going right now. I'll probably post another update when it's not super late out (I'm typing this at 1 in the morning) and I'm not in a rush to sleep.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The Convention Update of November: AnimeNYC 2019

After eight months worth of conventions I can finally say my journey across New Jersey, Long Island, and New York City is finally complete. And now I get to spend the rest of the year (as well as the first four months of 2020) in the comfort of my own home doing what I usually do. Resting, chatting with friends, and making stuff. And after the ride that was 2019's fall son season, I feel as if I deserve a break.

So how was AnimeNYC 2019, you may ask? Well it was a great con- but in ways it was a bit of a step down from AnimeNYC 2018. You see, complicated scheduling issues and other such issues prevented me from visiting the convention on Friday. So instead I opted to go Saturday and... wow.

First off, the convention was massively packed as the con was now in its third year of operation and word of mouth combined with a possible push to make the con more wide-spread and commercialized(?) lead to attendee numbers exploding. Second, both the dealer's room and artist's alley doubled in size- to the point where the artist alley had to move down with the dealer's room to accommodate for the larger number of artists selling prints. This had its ups and downs- for one the artist's alley was no longer in risk of having its artists getting baked under the sunlight of the glass walls of the balcony where it was located in 2017 and 2018 and you could transition between the dealer's room and the artist's alley in the blink of an eye, but that also meant that the crowded-ness of the dealer's room bled into the artist's alley and instead of walking on carpet which didn't drain your stamina as quickly as cement... well, you were now walking on cement. Additionally, a few prolific artists I've met at the con in 2017 that also attended AnimeNYC 2018 were completely absent. The list is too big to describe in full but while some managed to come back a second or even third year, others were left out.

Because of the absurd expansion to the Artist's Alley and with how nearly every booth had a big crowd in front, I ended up meeting and chatting with less artists overall compared to 2017/2018. I met up with the ones I wanted to see, yes, but it's a bit disappointing when I ultimately ignored what felt like 80% of the artists. So the one thing I looked forward to for the convention didn't really live up to expectations, so what else was there to enjoy?

Well, the cosplay of course. As I mentioned, typical comic cons don't really have enough worthwhile cosplays that it's worth going around snapping pics, but since this was an anime con, I had my phone's camera on the ready and snapped a plethora of pics, resulting in the second-largest collection of photos yet at 162 unique cosplay shots. It didn't break the record set by AnimeNEXT 2019 at 190 but it still was a number to be proud of and I was snapping pics form the moment I got there to when the con ended- even venturing into the first floor food court which I never thought I would ever do.

If you want to see the outcome, here's the entire gallery for your viewing pleasure:


Panel-wise the only panel that interested me enough on the day I went (Saturday) was the Gkids panel. They showcased some upcoming releases but everyone got the most hyped about Promare when it was announced it would get more screenings in the city. There was even a raffle at the end of the panel and predictably I didn't win anything (but I got a good laugh when for one of the prizes, I was off by one number). The other panels I was interested in didn't interest me enough to the point where I wanted to diverse from my "schedule" and attend, and the only other panel I would have went to see (the Into Creates panel) was the day prior, and according to one of my friends it was largely disappointing with no Gunvolt-related announcements to speak of.

I left the con at around 8:30. I intended to stick around  for about an hour and a half longer but the garage that I paid to park my car while I attended the con was not willing to hold onto the car for much longer before it would force me to walk to the car and get it by hand. Plus, my legs were starting to fail on me from ten hours of endless walking with not much sitting so I took a few final pics of the Javetz Center as I did with NYCC and left.

And that was the end of eight months worth of conventions. There were two other minor local comic conventions hosted in early June and late October but they were not significant enough to warrant putting into the infographic. I also considered attending Derpycon 2019 but I had to choose between that and the local con, and the local con won.

So what's in for the rest of the year? Well, I'm going to go on break from cons because the holidays are fast-approaching and I have some things I want to work on, namely finishing up some Sonic Robo Blast 2 Kart projects and possibly get back into sprite-ripping for The Spriters' Resource afterwards. as for 2020, I have no plans to attend any sort of con until Castle Point Anime Convention in May.

Until next time, see ya, and happy holidays.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

The Convention Update of October: NYCC 2019


Guess who forgot to make a post for the month of September? This guy. But if you really do want to know, September was a pretty standard month for me. I managed to get some art of Taku that I started back in January done at long last. I wasn't expecting that much fanfare since Taku at the moment is pretty flat and needs further development. And of course some further development on SRB2Kart racers as if that game couldn't suck me in any further.

Then October came and I was immediately thrust into a convention known as New York Comic Con. Perhaps the biggest convention I go to each year and perhaps so big that I can't possibly experience everything the show had to offer in the time I was there. You have your typical NYCC flaws including being SUPER-packed, lack of benches (so I came prepared and brought a holdup chair) long-as-heck lines for practically everything, and the ratio of cosplayers to non-cosplayers being abysmally low (and with most cosplayers just not being worth your time, if I had to be honest).

One thing I was surprised about was the massive presence of anime at this con, between Dragon Ball Z at nearly every corner plus some My Hero Academia, Epic7, and Yu-Gi-Oh (especially My Hero). Otherwise it's your standard over-comericalised comic convention stuff, similar to EternalCon but on a much more massive scale (but thankfully it had a lot more to offer and wasn't all on a cement floor). In the end though I ended up with several posters being given out at the booths and a few prints I purchased at the booths. Including a Nightwing and a Green Lantern print, mostly due to the influences they give to my characters Hades and Mr. Morph respectively. One artist there even did a lot of lesser known characters including Gum from Jet Set Radio and the only instance of a Trigun print I ever saw at a con outside of AnimeNYC 2018. Overall there's only so many artists at a comic convention that can hold my attention since under most circumstances it's dominated by artists that work professionally for Marvel, DC, IDW, etc. And don't even get me started on their commission prices if you dare fork over a hundred dollars for a sketch bust that other artists charge at $80 less.

There was also a booth for Arcade 1UP. The makers of those miniature arcade machines I've been skeptical on for some time because the cabinets would not fit in that well with my traditional authentic machines in my basement and I already have the games on other formats (especially the likes of Pac-Man, since I'm probably the biggest fan of that silly game and have it on almost every console thanks to Namco Museums and the like). The booth was also one of the few instances of seating in the entire con, disregarding panels (seriously where were the benches along the blank walls of the con?).

But yeah I guess that's enough NYCC for me for one year. Got some good stuff that I need to get onto my wall including a print of this graphic novel supposedly in the works with lots of "motor-punk" vibes or whatever you call it. So what's next? Well I will be making one more journey to the Javits center for the smaller-scaled but more important/exciting AnimeNYC with the goal of meeting more new and returning artists, acquiring more prints and commissions, and overall having a great time. There's three other smaller scale conventions I'm planning on venturing to, but I can only choose one and I will not be referring to them by name for obvious reasons.

*The first of these is a relatively small "anime" convention that is normally held every May followed by an even smaller Halloween-themed event in October. And I put anime in quotes because the content featured there and the artists that exhibit their works there have none, if any, anime-related content, despite the con billing itself to be about anime. Instead it falls more in line with the kind of content you'd see at NYCC and EternalCon, with the October event being billed as an anime convention when in reality it's a costume party confined into a very small space and with no dividers to separate the open space from the stage with the host via microphone and the Youtube'd anime music blasting full force through the small room. And you thought "hey at least the cosplay would be good?" Well it's a free convention and unfortunately that's just begging for lots of low-effort costumes that scream "budget cosplay" with kids and adults dressing in overly simple skintight suits. As much as I'm willing to return to the main convention next May, I have doubts I'll be attending this halloween event of theirs this year due to how abysmally awful it was back in 2018. Even the one they did in 2017 was leagues ahead.

*The second con is an actual convention in New Jersey, believe it or not. I went there in 2016 after being recommended to attend following NYCC 2016. However there was one big problem. By coincidence the convention was hosted on the same day as the release of Pokémon Sun and Moon, which resulted in most of the day just being spent at the hotel's cafe playing through the forced tutorials and grinding up Pokémon over going around and meeting artists. And sadly there were only around ten artists and none of them seemed worth chatting with (instead the dealer's room made up a bulk of the area featuring goods to buy). Sure the place was nice, filled (and I mean FILLED) with cosplays that took actual effort to make which is more than I can say for most comic conventions and there was actual seating and good food options, but it was just a meh convention overall. I did not even consider going there again in 2017 and 2018 because the dates of the con landed on the weekend of and the weekend before AnimeNYC respectively.

*The third one is another free (or at least low-pricing) comic book convention, however this one was far less cringe-y than the "anime but it's actually about comics" convention described under the first bullet. Plus it has actual comic artists to meet up and interact with, including a duo of artists that I'm good friends with. Other than that not much else to say.

So I'm currently deciding on what to go through, as all three cons take place over the weekend of October 26th-27th. Of course the first "anime" convention is out of the question but I'm eyeing up the second and third ones (the first for the cosplay and maybe an improved artist's alley), the second for the professional-level comic artists that I can actually have small talk with. I'm not sure if I can plan on visiting them both over the course of the weekend but hey, there's like three weeks left before I have to choose.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

The Convention Update of August: EternalCon and LIRGE

I told everyone it was coming, so now here's a bit of coverage on two conventions that I visited across the summer, one in late June, the other in mid August.

The first of these was, of course, Eternal Con. Unlike 2018's, this Long Island-based convention didn't have much in the way of good opportunities for quality cosplay shots as being a comic-focused convention it's limited to (for the most part) people in skintight bodysuits/outfits. Sure they get the job done but as someone that goes to at most three anime-themed conventions a year, attending the likes of CPAC and AnimeNext and then going to a local low-priced comic convention is a bit disappointing.

And disappointing may sadly be what it was- Sure it wasn't as bad as some of the smaller bite-sized comic conventions I've found myself going to, but it felt much more commercial and merchandise-driven compared to prior years. Even the artist's alley, the highlight of nearly every convention I attend, felt bare and smaller in scale compared to last year's. I commissioned a few artists, grabbed some pics, and left with my feet acing me from five hours of walking on pure cold-stone cement- and like most cons the only place you could sit and rest was on said cold-hard cement, unless you went to the tabletop gaming section that is. As for the food.

So yeah, it was mostly nothing special- I could have skipped it and it probably would not have changed anything, but I had some friends there in the artists' alley so I went mostly for their sake.

Two months later, I attended Long Island Retro Gaming Expo 2019, which in some ways was a much bigger and robust convention than last year's. They got in some new, high-profile guests along with the return of Vinesauce, some new consoles unseen in prior years being demoed (including the ZX Spectrum), and alongside the endless array of arcade games, an entire section devoted to pinball. Now that last addition was significant, as it skyrocketed attendance to a much higher number compared to 2018's, and more people being aware of what was unfolding down at the expo invited a lot more of them in. It was so crowded that in the pinball section, all of the tables were almost never un-occuped, and they contained some rather uncommon finds (an intentional choice by the one that brought in the pinball tables). There were other arcade machines and pinball tables, but they were in the tournament play section and not available to the typical visitor.

The third floor's PC section from last year also remained, in which I briefly showcased Mega Man 8-Bit Deathmatch (mistakingly labeled in the computers' game select menu as the average-looking-in-quality Mega Man 2.5D) and to my surprise the game caught on with a fair number of people exploring the third floor, though the ones that tried the game struggled with getting used to the default controls and weapon-switching mechanics. As for the rest of the con, there were three 16-player LAN-powered Mario Kart: Double Dash tournaments on the second floor (the first time I ever saw proper LAN play for that game) and a group of people also on the second floor that played remixes of video game OST's, until for whatever reason they proceeded to full-blast the volume for about 30 minutes to an hour tops- forcing me to cover my ears whenever I walked nearby the corner on the balcony with the music playing. At least the food selection was good, provided you were willing to step outside and check out the food trucks.

Otherwise, Long Island Retro Gaming Expo is a good convention I wouldn't mind visiting again, provided you remember to pack earplugs.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Remembering 8bit Revenge

Since I seem to do a lot of posts based on things that are long gone, forgotten, or defunct since the late 2000's, here's another thing that I had a bit of nostalgia for while growing up in my teens.

In around 2008, I found a small Youtube channel that went by the name "8bit Revenge", which catered around the misadventures of a group of video-gaming friends playing together and having a lulzy good time. There was a hefty period where no new content was being produced, with only a selection of episodes/episode parts and some highlight reels being present on the channel. Now if you try to search the name, you get nothing, and Google only produces generic results that have no relation to the original group.

The only remnant of what once was the 8bit Revenge team is this, the theme song composed by 8bit bEtty used in the openings of their show where the members each picked up various controllers for a variety of gaming consoles form the third to seventh generations and making poses on their couch before their mascot (a sexy girl standing next to their personal logo) popped up. Since web archives are not powerful enough to save entire videos, all of their content sans the theme song are now 100% lost.

Through the power of memory, I can recite some of the moments the 8bit Revenge crew's Youtube had posted over time:

  • A two-player Cooking Mama: Cook Off session
  • Some four-player Diddy Kong Racing on Windmill Plains with varied vehicles
  • Some two-player Rock N' Roll Racing followed by some co-op of the SNES version of Beavis and Butthead
  • Robocop on the NES, but with horribly corrupted graphics
  • A sped-up Mario Paint session set to the absolutely rocking Blast Off, also by 8bit bEtty
All the video game footage was shot off a camera stationed on a tripod instead of direct capturing, and the episode segments that weren't just the highlights featured two of the cast chatting on the couch. All I remember was one of the members having a FLCL t-shirt and not much else, other than there being about six members total. They may have had a site of some kind or a presence on some sort of pre-Youtube video-sharing site that got deleted when the Youtube channel was made, but I cannot conform nor deny this.

Anyways that's all I have to say on 8bit Revenge. Will more info on them ever pop up or will we ever get to see their content properly archived for all to watch? That I have no idea on.