Fox Plans

Fan art of Spearhead Games’ fabulous “Stories: Path of Destinies”.

“Stories” is cynical, world-weary, charming, and intimately aware of How Stories Work. It’s a very grown-up game. And as a game for grown-ups should be, it’s very respectful of your time – I finished it in about eight hours, and felt very satisfied. It’s also the first game whose characters I’ve cared about enough to do fan art of in years. Highly recommended.

It’s got two major gameplay loops: fast, simple combat that politely suggests maybe you want to learn some finesse by ranking every encounter on style, and a really neat spin on “Choose Your Own Adventure” storytelling – you’ll make about four story choices during the course of a 20-30min playthough, and probably get a Bad Ending. But you (and the player character, he’s explicitly being reset back to the beginning with new knowledge) will learn a Truth about the way an important character or item behaves, and take that (along with whatever combat skills you unlocked) into the next playthrough. So you begin paying attention to the story, and trying to guess which choice will result in a happy ending for that old scoundrel Reynardo, or at least one that’s a really entertaining fiasco.

There’s a lot of ways to fail in this game, and only one good end. Unless you make a deliberate choice to avoid the Good End, you’ll probably get it in 6-10 runs. It makes a lot of coy references to other stories and other games that come off as witty cracks rather than “hey look I made a reference you should laugh”, because it’s very much its own coherent vision.

I got it when it came up as one of December’s free games on PSN. I wish I’d gotten it sooner so I could give the folks who made it more money, because it is delightful.


This drawing was done almost entirely with the Mobile Studio – pretty much everything except for adding the text (I haven’t copied over all my fonts yet) and doing some final tweaks happened there. About halfway through it I got the Twiddler keyboard set up, which rapidly went from “slower than poking at icons and my big page of RadialMenu buttons” to “about 75% as fast as working with a full keyboard under my left hand”. So that’s pretty cool.

Bugs For The Bug God

I decided to turn the doodle I made to show how to do symmetry into something like a full drawing.

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Here’s a screengrab of the stuff I actually drew. This would have taken so much more time if I’d done it all by hand.

Alba

Ex-bunny kitty archivist who is two seconds away from calmly escorting your saucy ass outside if you give her any more shit.

This started as a headshot icon for the ex-with-benefits but grew a little.

Illustrator, about an hour.

Breakfast At Peggy’s

Sigil suggested this dialogue and I had to draw it. In the grey-wash mode of a New Yorker cartoon. I would like to say “ala Charles Addams” what with being a big fan of his stuff as a kid but I was honestly thinking more of one of the modern artists whose name I can’t remember. The one who draws the really big ears and the super flat lower jaws.

Now I’m having horrible visions of Enmerkar and Peganthyrus as a comic strip about a couple who have been married for about forty years longer than they really ought to be. Kind of like ‘The Lockhorns” except with more biting.

Coffee and Local Politics

So a few years ago I drew a header image for the Seattle board on Reddit: “Snoo”, Reddit’s mascot, wrapped up in a scarf, drinking coffee.

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After a while it got tweaked to be in the average colors of all of Seattle’s sports teams.

Today I got a username mention notification: the Seattle subreddit has redesigned, and people are debating if the new generic “material design” Snoo head is a suitable replacement for the old hipster Snoo.

Said hipster Snoo seemes to be loved enough that the new SeattleWA subreddit’s header contains someone’s traceover of it. This made me pretty happy to see!

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So I decided to knock out a new one:

coffeesnoo high res, transparent high res, transparent, no coffee radiance

I drew this new version of the little guy in about a half hour. And now I get to decide if I want to offer it for the old Seattle subreddit, or the new SeattleWA one – there’s a whole bunch of drama around really aggressive mods using the Seattle subreddit to promote their own businesses and delete a lot of local event posts and whatnot. If you mention the new subreddit your comment will probably get deleted and you’ll get banned. Which is really just kinda shitty. Dunno.

The Unicorn Hustle

The Unicorn Hustle

I’ve been playing a lot of No Man’s Sky lately. It’s the best simulation of hiking through a lurid 1970s sci-fi paperback cover I’ve ever seen. I think it might be my game of the year.

This is my headcanon of what’s going on when I play it with the ex hanging out on the couch next to me. And one of the rare occasions I spend more than an hour or two on a drawing – I think this was about eight or nine hours over three days.

Some friends who saw WIPs of this did me the honor of namechecking Jim Burns when reacting to it, but mostly I was thinking about the zillions of Baen books with covers by Stephen Hickman. Dude’s an absolute master of stylized shiny things. The signature on this one is a riff on his to pay tribute.

Me being me, of course, I made Illustrator do a lot of the work for. All those little seamlines with the shinies next to them? I drew a handful of art brushes and quickly slashed out lines using them; if the one I chose didn’t quite work, I could just change to another one or draw a new one.

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The purple stuff is in multiply mode, the yellow stuff is in screen. Works great. I’ll probably be using these again in the future.

Tealthree

A new digital drawing tool means revisiting the drawing I did for my last new drawing tool. Which has been replaced a couple of times but it’s not like buying a new edition of the same computer a few years later really needs a ceremonial celebration like buying an entirely new form factor running an OS you’ve never used before does.

A few years ago, when I got my first Macbook Air, I got really stoned while I was transferring all my data to it. The Magician came out and impulsively tried summoning a local spirit to inhabit the computer and make it work that much better; part of the process of this summoning was of course to draw said spirit in a way that acknowledged that it was kind of stuck inside my computer.

There’s a sticker of that drawing on the back of the current Air, just like I had a sticker of it on the back of the last one. Getting a new Air didn’t seem like it needed any ceremony. It was just a simple matter of making sure one was backed up, and restoring the backup onto the next one. But moving to an entirely new form factor and OS? I felt like I needed to be a but more complicated about it.

When I went to the Microsoft store to get the Surface, the Magician made me bring the Air along so that the genie I have living in it could sniff dubiously at the Surfaces, and so that she could start settling into one if I brought it home.

And what better thing to use to make sure I could get Illustrator running in there than a new drawing of this spirit? She’s looking a little more dragon-y than she originally did, probably as a result of living with my dragony self for so long. This was quite deliberately not a conscious choice on my part; I just went with what the voice in my head wanted . Said voice is maybe just me assigning a personality to this carefully-molded pile of metal called a “computer”, or is maybe me making contact with some kind of entity outside myself. As always with all things majgicghkal, I’m never sure if there’s any objective reality to any of it, but I’ll note that my Air was super cranky after I spent a couple days working exclusively with the Surface, until I politely requested Tealfour to not stay exclusively in one device or another.

After I finished that drawing, I did another one of this revised version of Tealfour to be the desktop/startup screen. I figured having her hanging out looking cute and offering me her stylus might help keep this as a device that I think of as my sketchbook rather than a general-purpose Twitter/Reddit/Hacker News/etc machine that I can waste away hours with.

Shut Up And Draw

 

Configuration continues to go well; I’ve changed from SharpKeys to AutoHotKey for swapping the ctrl and windows keys, which also lets me use the capslock key for ctrl-alt-shift, and gives me back a lot of shortcuts. I’ve also been playing with RadialMenu to create a tool panel I can make sprawl across the bottom of my screen and work as those shortcuts when I don’t have room to take out the keyboard, though it has some weird issues with one shortcut triggering ‘cut’ after doing its thing and some other shortcuts not working. It’s still a lot faster than grovelling through the dropdown menus.

I am sort of considering trying one of those little keyboards with like a dozen reconfigurable buttons as an alternative to having to make space for a full keyboard when I’m sitting on the bus. Right now I can only pull it out and draw with full keyboard-shortcut-powered speed if I’m sitting next to someone who doesn’t mind having my keyboard on their knee; ideally I want to be able to do it next to a total stranger without invading their personal space. Maybe one of those little ultra-programmable keypads designed for Gamerz? Though they tend to be bulky and not bluetooth. Or maybe one of those button grids musicians use? Though some googling suggests they mostly have the same problem. Maybe just a tiny Bluetooth pad with some heavy abuse of AutoHotKey… bonus points if I set things up so I can attach it to one side at the back and hold the tablet while using it. Maybe. That starts to sound like work, though. Or how about a glove? Mmmaybe not. I’m thinking “bluetooth numeric pad” sounds worth investigating, though.

I’ve also added on a matte screen protector. Out of the box the Surface is incredibly reflective; it’s so much of a black mirror that you could contact Enochian angels on it. Which makes it kind of a pain to draw outside. It’s still not usable in direct sunlight but it’s a lot better.