Showing posts with label IRL. Show all posts
Showing posts with label IRL. Show all posts

Thursday, March 25, 2021

From the Sketchpad

Benny disapproves
This collection is more about using things before they dry up and get wasted. I have a set of markers that are a thin copy of Copic markers. They have a great array of colors in the pack, but no way to work them for shading because those are the only colors available. If I don't use them up, they'll dry up. Nothing worse than losing a marker to disuse. 

I do have this thing for retro designs using a very limited color palette, so I am burning these markers up to make rough drafts for my Inkscape work. The work is quick and very loose, as these are just rough ideas to keep my hands steady and moving. Use it or loose it. 

I'll probably redo these a couple of times before they graduate to something I do digitally. The whole digital thing is also new to me, so I need to practice, practice, practice. Inkscape is my go-to tool for digital work. I like the ability to make geometric designs with bold colors. 

I'll probably have a few more later tonight and tomorrow. I'm in training for the week, so it's natural to sketch while taking notes. 

I've seen any number of designs by Disney artists like this and you'd be correct if you thought I was dying to get back to an Amusement Park soon. Disney is out for 2021, but Six Flags is more doable. 

These are really small, about 4 or five inches. 

I did like the ship design with the water playing around the front and back. I'm going to revisit that idea because it was really an after thought in these designs. 

Funny how the little thinks just pop out at you. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Teaser Art - Working with Pros.

I want to hire an artist for an upcoming project. The one I have selected has sent me some samples of works in progress. This means my commissions are on the back burner. Yeah, that happens. We have to work out the deal, pricing mostly, then style. 

She works in a digital anime style. At least that's what I would call it. The image above is the wireframe for the image to the right. She works fast, so I hope I can afford to hire her. 
Of course, all this talk of artwork has my brain singing. I need to start drawing again. 


Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Gaming Garden - Phase One Complete.

Phase one of the Gaming Garden is complete. My son and I build a raised bed from wood scraps in the garage. It's light pine and a 2x2 cut up for stakes to hold it together.  

I busted up a four foot by eight foot section of grass with a shovel, laid down some compost I had from several years of yard clippings. Then the grass went back on top, upside down. 

In a week or so, phase two will start up. More layers to the raised bed: soil and mulch. Then I have a month or so of rest before the plants go in. It's like planning a D&D campaign. 

Don't let anyone tell you need power tools for this sort of job. Just go get the power tools from the start and save your hands. I regret using hand tools for the whole project. Everything hurts. 

But if it makes a nice backdrop for summer gaming in the backyard, it will be worth it. Last year, we spend a lot of time outside and 2021 is looking to be a rebuilding year. No family vacation this year. 

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Updates - Some setbacks, some success.

I suffered a few setbacks this week and more than a few successes. 

The battery for our camera failed. That's the setback and it'll be ok. They are available as a two pack rather cheaply on Amazon. Once they arrive on Monday, I'll be all set to start work on my Star Wars model series. 

The other setback is rather minor. My work schedule is all screwed up next week due to new training. It'll be rough for a few weeks but I'll survive. 

As far as successes, my seedlings are going well. 13 of 18 plants are thriving. I'm not sure what is up with the remaining 5. They seem to show signs of life, but no green sprouts yet. We'll see what's happening as time goes on. I have the next batch of seeds ready to go, I just need to clear a shelf for them. They seem to be thriving under the lights in the basement. It's cool and brightly lit. I hope to have zucchini, cucumbers, peppers and carrots. Everything I need for canning in the late summer. 

Yes, I really do canning. Mostly pickles and giardiniera. 

Another success was a brief Wednesday night gaming session. My family and I were able to play a couple of games of Exploding Kittens and discussed the next game session for next Tuesday. This is exactly what I wanted, a weekly family game night. This is why I am creating a gaming garden outside. 

Additionally, I have received an offer from a budding artist to do some characters for an upcoming book. I can't wait to see what she can do. Here is an example of her work. 

I'll be commissioning her for a couple projects this year. I can't wait. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

2021 Gaming Garden Go!

2020 sucked and 2021 is going to be a rebuilding year. We don't have much hope of traveling or a real vacation, so we're doing home improvement. Over the winter, our basement flooded and a lot of stuff had to go. I now have a shot at doing some serious changes inside and out. Outside, we'll have our Gaming Garden which will be the source of inspiration for my summer series. 

Here is what I have planned for 2021 and into 2022: 

Current series - 52 product reviews.
Spring 2021 - Star Wars Models,
Summer 2021 - Outdoors Game sessions,
Fall/Winter 2021 - Superhero gaming,
Fall/Winter/Spring 2021-2 - Appendix N+. 

There is a method to the madness. Since I have been doing product reviews, I can't help but notice my shelving storage for games sucks. That's going to be replaced. Many of my games are going into totes as I review them, until the new storage option becomes available. I don't when that will be, but sometime this year. I am picturing redoing the whole basement into more livable space, so I will not have an "Office". It will be a common shared area. 

Cucumber and zucchini
seedlings on my shelf. 

Second, the lighting in my office sucks for photography. I'm doing lighting on the cheap right now for plants. My game shelves are being given over to new seedlings. 

Third, the seedlings will eventually make it outside for nice backdrop for gaming. We already have a hot tub, a firepit and a grill. The fiery features will also get an upgrade. 

And last, but not actually last, I upgraded our camera equipment. I picked up a Nikon PowerShot 50SX at a good price. It's 12 megapixels, which will more than do for my purposes. My wife has an interest in photography so this will not be a wasted item that sits idle until I can think of an excuse to use it. 


Anyway, here is the tie backs to all of this. Reviews cause the books on my shelves to go into storage. The shelves will be storage for plants for the next 60+ days. The raised beds in the garden will be ready by then and make a nice environment for outside gaming. I hope the skills I gain building raised beds will contribute to my woodworking skills in the basement. My new shelves will include space for models and perhaps a bar. My wife pitched the bar idea to me and I can't really say no to her. 

I'm growing a great space for gaming. 

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Launch the Fighters!

This is a preview of my spring modeling series. I am short a few TIE fighters, but I shall press on. 

All fighters launch!

What are we looking at? 16 Bandai Star Wars model sets, in 1:144 scale. I really like this scale for gaming. In reality, this is 26 different models, not counting the 2 I already completed. 

I figure I'll kick out 2 a week for 13 weeks, then revisit when I paint them. Behind the scenes, I'll be building one of each first, then painting them as examples. As I said, I am rather light on TIE fighters and heavy on TIE Advanced models. 

I really wish they made B-Wings in this scale. 

Like I mentioned the last time, unless these models are on sale on Amazon, you are better off elsewhere. My personal preference is Hobby Lobby due to the 40% off coupon. But they only have X-Wings and TIE's. For a bigger selection, try The Big Bad Toy Store. They are super consistent with pricing and shipping, but I go with Amazon for the random price drops. 

I do get remuneration from Amazon and DO NOT get anything from the Big Bad Toy Store or Hobby Lobby. It's just straight shooting on good prices. 99% of the time when placing an order with Prime  with free shipping is the reason why I go with Amazon. Click that link for a 30 day trial of Prime. 

Friday, February 12, 2021

No Cheating! Repost from MeWe.

The path forward is murky
No, I am not cheating by throwing out #TBT reviews. Old reviews don't count towards my goal of 52 reviews in a year. It's basically building an index of all reviews i have done.

Right now, I have three tabs, Game Reviews, Appendix N+ and 2021 Game and Book reviews. At the end of 2021, those will collapse to two pages/tabs: Reviews and Appendix N+. 

Once that happens in or around December 2021, I can launch my 2021-2 series on Appendix N+. This will be about books formative to game play and scenario creation, post-1977ish. The Population of Loss review is the kernel of an idea to start my Winter 2021-2 series on Superhero themed gaming posts. I now need to read the rest of the titles in the series because this series is wildly different than other superhero titles.

So on deck, I have a couple of post series planned:
Spring 2021 - Models
Summer 2021 - Outdoors Game sessions,
Fall/Winter 2021 - Superhero gaming,
Fall/Winter/Spring 2021-2 - Appendix N+.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Ooo... Shiney.

I'm stuck in mainatence mode right now, I'm cleaning up the basement and getting ready for my spring Model series while trying to figure out where my campaigns are going. I have to decide if we are doing Star Wars or D&D tonight. Since the players are the same, I guess it doesn't matter. 

It's a good thing it doesn't matter because I had to take a spin to Hobby Lobby for a model and Home Depot for a shower head. One of those was more important than the other, but both where wiped from my mind when I found this excellent R2-D2 ceramic figure my grandmother made for me. 

It stands about 9 inches tall and has a fitting to hold a light. At some point the single flasher bulb was replaced with Christmas tree lights. It lit my bedroom from 1978 to about 1998. I am really sure my grandmother had no idea what R2-D2 was at the time. It's dated 1978 and bears my grandmother's initials, TV.

Putting it away was an odd but glorious moment in my life. My girlfriend at the time said, "Ooo. Save that, the kids will like it." That was about 2 years before I proposed. I didn't even notice. From about 2002 til now the kids did like it. But now they are Star Wars'd out and it has been returned to me. 

It really never left. 

Monday, February 1, 2021

1001st Post (or not) - The Countdown Is On

Edit - It turns out I goofed. This is not the 1001st post, its actually 950 something. I have 43 draft posts for upcoming reviews I planned for this year. Sorry about that. Carry on...

I have couple of projects coming up. As promised before, this spring I will be doing a series on the Bandai Star Wars Models. These are 1/144 scale models, except for the Falcon which seems to 1/350. I almost have everything I need, I want to get a few more TIE Fighters and X-Wings. 

The list so far is: 

4 A-Wings, 
2 First Order TIEs, 
2 Classic TIEs, 
2 New Style X-Wings, 
2 Falcons, 

2 AT-STs, and
2 Snowspeeders. 

I'm going to be real honest, Amazon's prices are not the best at first look. They fluctuate so some days they are a steal and others they are a rip off. If Amazon isn't working for you, try out Hobby Lobby or The Big Bad Toy Store. They are super consistent with pricing and shipping, but I go with Amazon for the random price drops. I do get remuneration from Amazon and DO NOT get anything from the Big Bad Toy Store or Hobby Lobby. It's just straight shooting on good prices. 99% of the time, my Amazon Prime account with free shipping is the reason why I go with Amazon. Sad but true. 

Spring is 47 days away and summer is 91 days long. That puts me on a schedule of one or more models a week. I figure in fall I can do a series on painting models. 

In the meantime, what am I doing with those 47 days until spring? I am getting seeds ready to plant. I'm doing a garden this year. I hope to do some gaming garden side as I really enjoyed my outside posts last year. I figure the garden will be a suitable place to play some D&D. All I need is some chairs and a small table and we'll be set. 

Now I have one more mystery picture to share. 

What are they? 1440 3 mm rhinestones. What on earth could I do with those? You'll see. 

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Curious Toys - U. B. Funkeys

My basement flooded and I am still sorting things into piles that go, items ok and piles that could be saved. I have a lot of odd things down here. 

In the pile ok items I found a set of figures that go to a game called U. B. Funkeys. This was product I worked on back in 2006-2010 while at Mattel. Mattel acquired Radica and Funkeys was one of the product that came over to the Mattel side of things. 

It was a very ambitious and creative computer game. The player received a Hub and a Disc with a couple of characters. Each physical character was placed in the Hub and that character appears within the game. Think Skylander... in mid-2000s Skylanders. 

My kids got a chance to play with these things, sometimes before they came out in stores. The games were interesting and varied. The music was either whimsical or madding depending on your outlook. Of course, the central plot revolved around taking your child to the store to buy a new figure to unlock more areas. 

The individual characters had online posters and downloadables for kids. You could, on paper, design your own Funkey. It was kind of cool. 

Well, now it's 2021 and their time is over... or is it? I see people are still producing reviews and posting information online about them. It's a curiosity from the oughts to be sure, but I have fond memories of it. 

Check out the video below from Media Mementos to learn more about this oddity. 

As I rescue or throw away more things in my basement, I'll post about some of the oddities that I find. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Terminal Cone of Negative Energy - What I Thought Instead of What I Should Have Done

Yesterday I posted about creating a map with a download of the HPS Cartography Kit. I love Nate's artwork. Well, that didn't work for a variety of reasons that seem to limited to the six inches of space between my ears. 

Ooo... that looks nice! 
I meant the interface and the tiles, not my map.
The HPS Cartography Kit is meant for Hex Kit, not Inkwell Idea's Worldographer. I wasn't going to let that stop me, I could just edit... 400+, 500+, 600+ images so that they fit in Worldographer. Then I started messing around with Inkscape, not to edit pictures but to freehand a map. 

Yeah. No. 

So, back to DriveThruRPG for a copy of Hex Kit. It made the most sense. If I'm going to review HPS Cartography Kit in the near future, I should have the actual software which it was designed for, which means I need Hex Kit. Which has the side benefit is one more review I can do. 

If you had a lot of patience, you could totally free hand a map with just tiles. Or you could edit one type of tile for a completely different type of software. The problem is I'm adjusting my insulin levels since a near disaster the middle of 2020 and I am now made of frantic energy and not a drop of patience. 

Did I mention it's week 4 of 2021 and I'm on Week 8 of reviews? It's the drugs, I swear. 

Speaking of problems that I have, I have my own product called "Hex Pack", I am really glad I researched that name not at all and luckily missed naming it "Hex Kit" like I've been calling it in my head since it first popped into my mind. I launched my Hex Pack back in April of 2020, so you can see how some of these things can collide. 

Anyway, maximum effort! More speed! 

I usually drop little hints about what I intend to review, but I usually don't offer links to products I haven't used, read, reviewed, etc. because I don't know how they will turn out. The links to DriveThru and Inkwell Ideas are a pretty good hint as to what I think of these products already. 

I do have one other hint, I had the worst time trying to figure out how to launch Hex Kit in Linux. So I reached out to the author and they gave me the answer in a couple of minutes or hours. Frantic energy, no difference between minutes... hours to me right now. Anyway, it's easy. 

Oh, what the heck?

All you need to do is open Hex Kit. It's right there! 

Yeah, Linux Terminal foo is required. The actual command is: 

or ./Hex\ Kit

Hmm... when was the last time I used a front slash anywhere? Don't know, but I can already see it's going to become a habitual thing. 

I wanted to review Hex Kit first then HPS Cartography Kit second, but software has a learning curve that no amount of drugs will fix. I really want to do these now, but it may take until March 2021. 

I did want to share the output of just a few minutes/hours of tinkering got me. 

And of course, that also leads to the heavy handed hint that great products come from authors who have excellent customer service and responsiveness to the most random and frantic questions. 

Monday, January 25, 2021

The Last Package Arrived Today

My last package from Amazon arrived today. Now I am almost ready to start a second series of post on modeling. I'll be working on these Bandai 1/144 scale models over the summer. You can find them at many hobby shops, but I've had the best luck on prices at Ironic, because the grid of ads from Amazon is showing the most expensive things. Sigh. Ah. Checked it now, and most of the prices are reasonable. 

(Note: My Amazon Affiliate account has really taken off, I just need to figure out how to make it work better with my posts.) 

One of the snags with series posts is they start strong and either come to an early conclusion or they just peter out due to a lack of inspiration. 

I hope to change that this year by having a spring/summer series ready to go. I also have a couple of things in my back pocket. My Star Wars campaign looks good to restart and even more exciting (for me anyway) it looks like my gang is ready to go back to the Peninsula of Plenty campaign, perhaps as a hexcrawl. That's two more series to update for the Blog. 

The only problem now is time. I've had my basement flood and defy all attempts to remedy and I recently started a new job which takes up my evenings. My weekend is now Tuesday-Wednesday and I work every holiday for the foreseeable future. I'd know how things will work out, but they will. 

At this point, I am thinking of retiring the Podcast. I really can't see how I'll have the time for all of this. Time will tell. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Updates - New Podcast Episode and More.

I have a short update episode of the podcast loaded to today. It's brief.  I talk about some changes in real life, updates to gaming sessions and the blog. 

It's kind of funny, but I started this podcast with a mistake. I was thinking about podcasting and was shopping for microphones and trying out new software. Someplace in that process, COVID hit and the only way I could get art supplies was online. I placed an order with Amazon without noticing that I place a microphone into the cart instead of my wishlist. 

I could of sent it back, oooooor I could make something with it. That mike has served me well over the past year, far more than just a podcast. 

I used it for my zoom classes, both the classes I taught and the classes I took in school. I also scored a new job using that set up. The mic is hardly used for the podcast at all but it's been a life saver.  

Rather than spamming it up with multiple posts, I've been drawing again with some new markers. I'm trying to get the hang of really simple sketches. I'm having probables balancing line weight with proportions. 

The ill-proportioned horse.

A better try.

Needs shading. 

My nemesis. 

In the last image, I really shouldn't have picked a stippling style with this image. I'm probably going to use some digital Magik at some point, which I hate to do. I wanted this to be all ink. If I don't go digital, I will be out 7 zillion pens and it will take me a life time to complete. Art-life balance, I guess. 

Friday, January 15, 2021

Retrospective Post

Happy Friday! I am off to work soon, but I wanted to do a quick post. I often wonder about the status of my blog and what changes over time. Throwback Thursdays are good way to look at what has happened, but these are often posts that I happen to like and reshare. 

So, I ran some data on posts and broke it down not from start to finish, but picking the most popular posts in a random month during the data collection period, Hardly scientific, but here is what I found: 

Back in July of 2019, my post popular post was about the amazing David Macaulay, author and artist. The post contained links to his series of videos on youtube. This one was very popular with some my teaching friends, as Macaulay also has a series called "How It Works" and many of friends use it as the basis of a science and history themed unit activity.  

In 2020, the hot post was "What is Dungeons and Dragons", a book review. This one was part personal reflection and review. Obviously, since I am still engaged with D&D, this book was very important to me. 

And now, the top post is a peice called "You Can't Buy That!" about many, 7 I think, old sets of small box or baggy games now available on the web. 

If you are feeling interested, reflective or contemplative, go check out these posts. I hope you enjoy reading them as much I as enjoyed writing them. 

Saturday, January 2, 2021

New Links for Products by

I've always wanted links to DriveThruRPG to look like links to Amazon. However, most of DriveThruRPG doesn't work like that. If you look to the left of this post, you can see an example of what I wanted, which is an affiliate tool for the Daily Hot New Book. You can get that link by logging in to DriveThru and scrolling to the bottom of the Affiliate Resources Page.

The code looks like this (excuse the image, blogger doesn't like code tags):

It displays the ad like this:

Hottest New Book
City of Nexus | 20x30 Battlemaps [BUNDLE]
City of Nexus | 20x30 Battlemaps [BUNDLE]

By harvesting their code, you can change what is displayed by manipulating the code, like I did for my Swashbuckler Character Class.

Swashbuckler Character Class for D&D and AD&D

Swashbucklers for D&D and AD&D

You can get the product page link via the Social link on DriveThruRPG. 

That will automatically append your Affiliate Id to the link, which is super handy. The image associated with the product can be directly linked to by right clicking the thumbnail and copying the image address. Many times you can plug that image link right into the code.  

Zero to Hero: Uncommon Heroes
Zero to Hero
Zero to Hero

The thumbnail seems to be generated by .css, which will rescale the image to 139 by 196 for the product page. However, if the author uploaded a larger image, you will have to rescale the image and host it yourself. That happened to me with all of my products. I should probably go back and rescale all of the images so DriveThru does less work to display a thumbnail. 

Character Sheet for AD&D
Character Sheet
Character Sheet for AD&D

You can combine the code above with the table html to create side by side links, like I did below.

Kobold’s Folly Mini Setting
Kobold’s Folly
Kobold’s Folly
The Hex Pack
The Hex Pack
The Hex Pack
Compass Rose Inn Mini Setting
Compass Rose Inn
Compass Rose Inn

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday!

The season is upon us now. I'll be spending the next three days with friends and family, as much as we can get together in the middle of this pandemic insanity. We are going to make the best of it of what we have, each other. There will be food, drink and games. I can't wait to tell you about it next week.  


Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Latest Novels and Test Posting from Kindle and Moto G Stylus

I've been reading a lot. I have a series of novels I'd like to review. I am also trying to combine my Kindle and Moto G Stylus phone so I can post more frequently while on the road. 

I have two books to read and 7 that are done. I'm making a list by screenshotting the covers on my Kindle and loading them up via my phone with the Blogger app. One of my issues with Kindle is the poor imaging handling. People pay a lot of money or put tons of effort into having the best of the best, only to have Kindle regulate it to a see once cover or a tiny image that doesn't play nice with the software. 

First, up on the completed list is a set of books by Rick Wayne. The Minus Faction series is an incredible collection of stories that build to a world breaking peak. Exactly how I will review this is beyond me. The stories build and build, so reviewing one might spoil others. I don't know how to handle that. I'm sure I'll figure it out. 

Copper Knights and Granite Men is by Mike DiBaggio and Shell "Presto" DiBaggio. This husband and wife team are dynamic duo of artist and author. Previously, I reviewed Population of Loss. It was an excellent read. Mike and Shell also caused me to update my own book, Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners. I didn't list Illustrator and Stationers among the professions. 

The Feast of Shadows series is next to read. I've only read the reviews and it looks great. 

Tech notes: One of the glitches I have encountered is my phone and Kindle don't sync as quickly as I would like. In the Blogger app, there is no good way to cancel out of selecting an image. Deleting incorrect images is also an issue. As you can see below, I picked the wrong file.  

Like I said before, I'll figure it out. 

Monday, August 24, 2020

The Simple Things - Printing

I love books, but the oldest and the newest stuff is hard to get in print. Invariably, I wander DriveThruRPG ordering stuff left and right. It never ends. Once I read through something, it goes in one two places: into a hard copy or stays in my "Library of (Digital) RPG Titles" on my Kindle. 

Qualitatively, they are different places. One I expect to read again, while the other is something I might want to read by candlelight after the Nuclear Apocalypse. 

Anyway, reading preferences aside, printing books yourself is really dependent on your printer. I have an HP all in one inkjet printer. It's good for most things, most of the time.

In the picture on the left, look how sharp the text is. It's really nice. Perfectly acceptable for reading by nuclear candlelight. Inkjet are very good on plain paper for text. You can see a little blow through because I printed two sided, but it's still very legible. 

What inkjets are not good at are large, color images on plain paper. Things could not be worse. And since I print a lot of my own stuff on plain paper, the result is less than satisfactory. 

Here is a photo of Cult of Diana: The Amazon Witch for Basic Era Games by Timothy S. Brannan. I just love the covers of his books and this one is my favorite. 

And with inkjet on plain paper, it just sucks. Can you say mud? How did it go so wrong? 

It's the paper. 

Check out this next image. It's the same printer and settings, except I used photo paper.  

I'm very happy with this one, the colors are much brighter in real life, but I didn't want to alter the image with different settings to accentuate the colors. Where I went wrong is selecting my favorite cover rather than one that would highlight how good good can be. 

Take a look at this next image from Mr. Brannan's The Basic Witch: The Pumpkin Spice Witch Tradition

That 100 times better. We have blues and reds, and stuff in between. I can totally see the how this is different than how it appears on screen, but even using my cheap inkjet printer, the photo paper gives it far more color than plain paper. It's far more satisfying. 

Ah, the simple things. 

Saturday, August 1, 2020

#RPGADAY2020 1. Beginning.


I don't know where it began, but I know how it began. It began with my parents. Way back in '77, they took me to my very first con. And then another and another. 

I recall a zillion different games. Mostly WRG, but tanks, dragons, rayguns and so many other things I hadn't seen before and perhaps some I will never see again. But I won't forget them. 

Since then, I've read a hundred different games and played more most of them. And the the process continues. 

As my son reads his copy of the Dungeons and Dragons Essentials Kit, I have two other kids that I have encouraged to enjoy their own creative ventures. Sure, they don't do games as much as their brother, but they have their creative outlets, art, music, stories, etc. Which are just as different as Wargames Research Group is from D&D, but it's a beginning. I hope I've given them a beginning as good as I had.

Thanks for the beginning, Mom and Dad.