Here are a few of my favorite things: Nintendo, Penny Arcade, The Legend of Zelda, Mario, Pokemon, Harvest Moon, Fallout, Dungeons and Dragons, books, dice, Professor Layton, Shadow of the Colossus, Minecraft, and so much more. I'm going to talk a lot about video games, I sincerely hope you don't mind.

Newest paper sculpt project!

Sonic Screwdriver trio for my friend's birthday.

An interview with Adam Harum of Transolar Galactica.

They achieved their Kickstarter goal, and now the world gets more of their award winning sci-fi comedy!

Doctor Who themed lip balm!

Brought to you from Earthtastic! and A Bit of Geek.

Minecraft paper sculpt!

My submission to the Mojang community art contest. Watch the video!

A TARDIS desk lamp!

Instructions and babbling on how to make a TARDIS lamp from foam core!

Monday, July 30, 2012

If humans had a heads-up display, it would be "Sight"

I live in excited anticipation of a future where virtual reality is heavily integrated into day-to-day life. Project Glass from Google is about two years away from being a real product and, considering how frequently I use my phone and how much I love the heads-up display in video games, I won't say no to a tiny visual map in my field of vision.

However, it's important for anyone who is looking forward to this future to consider the potential draw backs. In a short video titled "Sight", Israeli students Eran May-raz and Daniel Lazo demonstrate a world where virtual reality is embedded into every person's eyes. "Sight" offers up numerous scenarios that need to be considered, ones that I had certainly never entertained.

The world presented in "Sight" is one where man and machine are more entwined than ever before. If this, or something like it, could be in our future, how do we keep it safe and out of dangerous hands? 

I'm all spooked now.


Friday, July 27, 2012

'+5 Food of Eating' Cookbook Kickstarter

Some people that I follow on tumblr post really awesome geek related cooking recipes. The majority of them are actually alcoholic beverages, but some people also post real life food items that can be found in-game. The Gourmet Gaming tumblr most notably comes to mind.

And now, we have something else food and geek related in the works.

The "+5 Food of Eating" cookbook kickstarter promises an RPG centric cookbook filled with simple, diverse culinary alternatives that are safe to have around our delicate character sheets. I think the premise is really great: we could all use something healthier and more interesting than pizza at every board game, tabletop, movie or TV night. (Not that I don't love pizza. Do not get me wrong there.)

The $3500 goal will go toward publishing fees, contributing artists, and practice ingredients to level grind those recipes to perfection! For only $15 the donator even gets a copy of the book once it has been released. You can bet that I got in on that, I think that this is a really fun and interesting idea!

I really hope that she includes themed foods, like Mario Creme Pies, or Altair Chicken Casadillas. I don't know how they'll become those things, but the creative powers at the helm will figure something out I'm sure!


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

LEAP, so I can eat cheetos and not muck up my mouse.

I don't know about you, but I just love to snack all day long. Personal favorites are Munchies and Kettle brand salt and black pepper potato chips. I love to eat these at any juncture. You know, movies, TV shows, gaming, showers, really any time of the day.

This causes problems for my delicate technology though: I hate sticky, mucky, dirty keyboards and mice. Mouses. Computer mouse. This problem has become exponentially serious since receiving my iPad. I mean, I use a stylus pen but I don't want to get that all chip-y either. What is the solution?

Leap is a motion sensing device being developed by Leap Motion. It's available for pre-order with an estimated ship date of February 2013 and it costs $69.99. The device will be compatible with Mac and PC (Linux currently being worked on) and is a motion control replacement to the traditional keyboard and mouse.

The video demonstrates many applications from drawing, gaming (side scrolling as well as first person), and 3D modeling. It looks extremely practical and pretty awesome. It also jaunts the human race one step closer to Th Future, where one simply waves a hand and information is shown a-plenty.

What do you think? Neat? Bad? Questions or concerns? I think my arm would get tired from being perpetually held up as though I possessed a gun...


Monday, July 23, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises: spoiler-free review!

Christian Bale as Batman in The Dark Knight Rises. source.

The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan’s final entry in his Batman trilogy, has arrived, and is arguably the biggest movie of the summer. With the amount of anticipation surrounding the film it is easy to imagine fans could end up disappointed, but I believe that Nolan tied things up nicely while including quite a few twists along the way.

One of the most exciting aspects of Nolan’s take on Batman is the way he incorporates multiple storylines and characters. Fans familiar with the many existing Batman arcs will notice storylines blended together to create new and intriguing tales. Nolan’s Batman has been a more grounded and realistic take, as evidenced by the previous film’s villains (Scarecrow, Two-Face, and The Joker) and in this iteration by Catwoman, the “cat burglar”. While unlikely, these villains could potentially exist in the real world, as could a technologically advanced and rich playboy ala Bruce Wayne.

The Dark Knight Rises has an interesting formula, one where the audience learns a great deal about the enemy, and the film shows less of Batman and Bruce Wayne than one might anticipate. The acting was superb, and the additions of Anne Hathaway and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were well cast.

Running at a little over two hours and forty-five minutes, one might think that the film is overlong. I would have to disagree, as every moment feels important and interesting. That said, some of the choreographed fight scenes went on just a touch too long, and some of the dialogue seemed cheesy and a little bit forced. And near the beginning of the film there were some scene cuts that felt jumpy and abrupt, but perhaps it was an intentional choice, as the overall feel of those scenes was anticipatory and leading up to the first exciting event of the movie.

It’s difficult to say exactly why the film was great without revealing too much; Nolan intentionally made teasers, trailers, and posters vague. This made a  film that was much more interesting, because I knew so little about what the story was going to hold. Most movie trailers these days reveal the majority of the plot, including major twists and sometimes even the ending!

There are deep emotional connections with the characters that build up during the movie, and all of the characters had amazing chemistry with one another. I will never tire of Michael Caine as Alfred, Bruce Wayne’s ever-loving housekeeper and life-long friend. I’m also very glad that Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman have continued their roles throughout the trilogy.

Whether someone is a fan of Batman or not, The Dark Knight Rises provides an exciting, engaging and highly entertaining spectacle. Fans will enjoy their favorite elements from the comics, while those unfamiliar with storylines will enjoy total surprise at the reveals (like me!).

I give The Dark Knight Rises nine out of ten apples. The fight scenes really did bore me after a while, and the times when the dialogue slipped it was almost laughable and a little distracting. The cinematography, acting, and story are all aces though.

Who else has seen it? What did you think? I know some people have been disappointed and I’d really love to hear why!


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

'Breaking Bad' inspired paper sculpt!

OK, this is what should have gone up yesterday!!

Any Breaking Bad fans out there? :D


Monday, July 16, 2012

Excitement to come!

Good morning all! Last night I was up late finishing a project. I have to head out to work today, so I can't finish the last 10% of the project. When I get home tonight though, it'll happen. :D


Friday, July 13, 2012

Cartoon Comedy: 'Gravity Falls' on the Disney Channel

Gravity Falls Disney channel

'Gravity Falls' is a brand new cartoon that debuted on the Disney channel back in June. It focuses around the story of twins Dipper and Mabel, who have been forced by their parents to spend their summer with their Great Uncle Stan and his tourist trap, the Mystery Shack.

dipper and mabel in Gravity Falls
Dipper and Mabel are the stars of 'Gravity Falls', Disney's newest show.

Episode one immediately establishes the hilarious dynamic between Dipper and Mabel, and sets up Uncle Stan, or 'Gruncle' Stan as they say in the show, as the comedic and slightly repulsive  curator of the Mystery Shack.

Gruncle Stan in Gravity Falls
'Grunkle' Stan frightening audiences in his underwear.

I believe that the days of truly innocent and 'G' rated children's cartoons are long gone; 'Gravity Falls' includes light violence and some mild crude humor, but probably nothing that the majority of parents would bat an eye at these days (It's nothing compared to some things. Ren & Stimpy, anyone?). A majority of the dialogue is good natured fun with surprisingly great comedic timing, and an impressive range of jokes that are sure to please a wide variety of audiences.

'Gravity Falls' is an unusual departure from the content one would expect to see from the Disney channel. The show’s quirky attitude is almost reminiscent of something from Cartoon Network, but the wholesome Disney-style family values make a prompt and obvious appearance by the end of the episode.

gnomes in Gravity Falls
Audiences can expect 'Gravity Falls' to be full to the brim with weird, zany plot points and characters.

In the wake of 'Adventure Time's popularity, I'd say that 'Gravity Falls' is well poised to garner a large audience. So far it seems likely to make a B-line for 'ridiculous', but won't quite go as far as 'Adventure Time' does, with its nonsensical (if hilarious) exclamations of "Mathematical!" or “Algebraic!” and anthropomorphic technology that puts things in its butt. Y'know, weird things. For the record, I think 'Adventure Time' is quite clever and funny.

If anyone out there is looking for some new cartoonage, then 'Gravity Falls' is worth checking out! You can watch a couple episodes that have aired so far on the Disney channel website, with new episodes every Friday. Give it a watch and let me know what you think of the first episode, "Tourist Trapped."


*all images screen captured from the Disney channel video

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

hitRECord is the artistic collaborators haven

hitRECord joseph gordon-levitt

Who out there has heard of hitRECord, the collaboration company owned by Joseph Gordon-Levitt? He started it in 2004, and it is an online community for artists to create together. It is full of collaborations from musicians, photographers, writers, and more. Collaborators upload their original works to the website and other users are free to remix and reuse those pieces to create new works. In September 2011, hitRECord released its first anthology of work titled 'RECollection' comprised of RECords from the the community. The hitRECord business model states that, if pieces are chosen for monetization purposes, then any money made after covering costs will be shared 50/50 between hitRECord and all collaborative artists. 

This unorthodox compilation system creates an incredible allure: work with new people on exciting projects, make new friends, be inspired, and maybe even make money while having your work featured to the world!

hitRECord RECollection
The first hitRECord anthology titled 'RECollection'

It's an amazing community of creative individuals, and provides unique opportunities for artists to work with those both inside and outside of their preferred medium. The projects can evolve in fascinating ways. For instance, a piece called 'A Blot Story' is a painting. Whimsical and straightforward. It has then been remixed into videos, incorporated into larger pieces, and set to music. Artists can do whatever they'd like to the original RECord, and seeing as each RECord's page has a list of derivative work, attribution is never an issue. This design also leads to constant click through, so you never know what neat new piece you'll find!

I've often heard artists talk about not having many artist friends, or wishing they had someone to collaborate with on a new idea. hitRECord solves all of those problems and creates more opportunities in the process. I can't wait to see what kind of work comes out of hitRECord now that the first anthology is out. Maybe I'll contribute something of my own! What about you?

You can follow Joseph Gordon-Levitt on twitter @hitRECordJoe, as well as hitRECord news @hitRECord.


*images are screen captures from the hitRECord website

Monday, July 9, 2012

Don't Let Singleplayer Suffer For Multiplayer

super mario bros. and new super mario bros. wii

I prefer single player games over multiplayer ones. As a child, most of the video games I owned were single player, like Mario games, and my sister and I would just trade off each level. My first experiences with multiplayer games were with fighting games. I was terrible at them, and as such avoided them my whole life. A few short interactions with Smash Bros. served to further my wide berth.

When I began playing World of Warcraft, I realized that great gameplay wouldn’t make me prefer multiplayer. I knew very few people who played MMOs, and some of the quests required multi-person parties and I simply didn’t have anyone to play with. What should have been a fun, collaborative experience was instead a dark and twisted place where everyone but me had a friend to play with. The few times that I did get to play with my friend were very fun, but it was near impossible to coordinate our schedules. I wasn’t interested in teaming up with strangers because I wasn't sure if they would be nice, but more than that I was afraid that they wouldn't accept me. For example, I was once called a ‘slut’ by another player in WoW simply because I took a quest item that was about to respawn. 

A World of Warcraft conversation snippet. The item respawned just moments later.

The other day I was playing New Super Mario Bros. on the Wii with some friends, and it was too easy to be knocked into lava by another player. As a quick session with no intention of real progress, this was fine. Party games are an absolute blast and they have merit. I love Mario Party, but I rarely have people to play with. But this as a way of consistently playing future games? No thank you.

I enjoy being able to play games at my own pace and not have to depend on the availability of another person (like my experience with WoW). Originally, the single player campaign on consoles was more fleshed out, whereas the multiplayer campaigns depended on playing repeat levels with minimal story. Throw in online multiplayer and you are reminded that not everyone is fun to play with. In most first person shooters played multiplayer, one is required to be teamed up with or fight against strangers, and some of them will be very profane and angry. 

A small example of the brilliant sophistication present in World of Warcraft 
and other online multiplayer games.

As a whole, I prefer games that are predominantly made with only a single player campaign. Adventure games, platformers, and role playing games lend themselves well to one person in one story. The larger issue at hand is when developers create a short single player game, then tack on multiplayer and expect that to be the majority of the sustenance. Seeing as multiplayer is very popular and has many merits (social aspects, having a community, and competition among them), I’m not lobbying for their demise. I am, however, insisting that their rising popularity should not come at the detriment of robust single player campaigns.

What are your thoughts? Do you favor one over the other?


Friday, July 6, 2012

Warhammer cosplay hullabaloo

It is an aspiration of mine to have a full set of Sisters of Battle armor to wear to PAX and other Cons. This desire came about after PAX 2005 when I showed my in-progress Canoness to one of the pro painters in the tabletop room. However the logistics and reality of the project quickly surfaced and I became overwhelmed. It will take a miracle to have my dream armor/costume become tangible, but never say never!

With San Diego Comic Con coming up the internet is percolating with cosplay and larger than life armor costumes, and now I can't stop thinking about it!

female warhammer costume
Check out this amazing Warhammer costume! Source.

Fortunately for those who are so inclined (and financially equipped), the internet is full of useful resources. Wired has a particularly great article that includes an extremely comprehensive list of instructions on how to make your own Warhammer costume. The largest issue that I've encountered when I attempt to plan a costume is how to make the large items that aren't found in real life. This is where vacuum-forming comes into play, but generally that equipment isn't available to us lowly ones.

vacuum-forming warhammer costume
Vacuum-forming for a Warhammer costume. Source.

Costuming and cosplay is such an impressive hobby. One of my favorite aspects of conventions is admiring the walking artwork! I'm glad that it's becoming more popular at PAX seeing as it's the Con that I frequent most often. My trip to WonderCon this past March yielded an eye-popping number of costumes, and I wish I were attending SDCC so I could oogle more fully clothed people. Next year! If you're going could you snap some pictures for me?

We're going to wrap this up with a small selection of my favorite Warhammer outfits.

warhammer tau costume conventionwarhammer costume
Some very impressive Tau on the left (source) and a proud Warrior Priest (source). 

warhammer space marine costume
Some serious business Space Marines right there. Source.

How do you feel about cosplay? Do you have any favorite costumes?


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Animal Crossing 3DS speculation and excitement!

animal crossing

Lately I've been playing Animal Crossing: City Folk for the Wii again. I stopped playing about two years ago because I felt pretty bored. Initially, Animal Crossing has tons of things to do. The player must clean up the town, plant flowers and trees, get to know the neighbors, repay home loan debt, and fill up the local museum with fish, bugs, fossils and famous paintings. Because the game moves in real Earth time, this all takes about a year.

What to do once that is done, though? That has become my dilemma. I still have paintings and bugs to find, but overall the game has lost a lot of its appeal. I've been popping into Kakariko for about twenty minutes every day and doing this: hunt for weeds, water flowers, plant new flowers, talk to everyone, sell some fish. The game is overflowing with content and potential, but has very finite goals considering that it literally goes on forever.

animal crossing 3ds screenshot
Animal Crossing 3DS has so much potential. What is that shrub on the left!? Source.

With E3 come and gone, and no mention of Animal Crossing 3DS whatsoever, the community of AC lovers at large is in overdrive wondering what kinds of features will be in the newest game. My focus isn't necessarily what the new features will be (although of course I'm curious!), but it is more on what will be added that will keep the game interesting even after the museum is full. Let's take a look at what we already know!

-players will be able to swim in the ocean bordering their town
-lamp posts and benches can be purchased and placed around the town for further beautification and customization
animal crossing 3ds screenshot
Lamp posts in Animal Crossing 3DS! It looks so cozy. Source.

-items can be hung on the walls of player's houses
-character customization has been boosted in the form of altering both pants and shoes (in previous versions girls only wore dresses and guy's shorts were unalterable. In City Folk, shoes could be changed to match clothing, but only by visiting the shoe shine guy in the city.)
-players will have the option to become mayor of their town
-streetpass will be incorporated as a way to visit towns, as well as a venue for neighbor swapping
-it appears that players will start life in their new town by living in a tent
-hangouts can be arranged with your in-town neighbors

I have really high hopes for what a lot of these facts could mean for gameplay! First, if we start off living in tents, that could mean that it will take even longer to get a real house. This automatically extends gameplay by creating a longer loan repayment period. That could seem cheap at first glance, but previous versions haven't incorporated tents, so I'm all for it!

animal crossing 3ds swimming screenshot
Swimming time in Animal Crossing 3DS! Source.

Swimming has been sorely lacking from every iteration, so it is a huge relief to finally see it in the 3DS version! It would be really great if Nintendo added a secret island or cove that could be swum to on certain days or at certain times. Also, what if the ocean had a tide? That'd be so cool!

The potential to become mayor of your town is by far the most exciting piece here. To me, it's the longevity piece that I'm looking for. In one segment of video from Nintendo Direct last month, we see the player sitting at an important looking desk with a computer, and a villager is talking them up. Will players be dealing with town issues and helping citizens? I certainly hope so!

animal crossing 3ds mayor screenshot
Animal Crossing 3DS, mayor problems. Source.

Animal Crossing 3DS is set to release in Japan this fall, and for the U.S., we simply have "2012" as a release date. I have my fingers crossed for something around Christmas, and a little prayer that it doesn't get pushed to 2013! Are there any other AC fans out there? Would you like to exchange Friend Codes for City Folk? :D Also, what are you hoping for in the 3DS version?


Monday, July 2, 2012

Review: The Amazing Spider-man

This is a great summer for movies: The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers, Prometheus, Moonrise Kingdom, Men in Black III, Brave, Total Recall, Magic Mike, but forget all of those, go see The Amazing Spider-man.

andrew garfield amazing spider-man suit
Andrew Garfield as The Amazing Spider-man. Source.

I was excited to see Andrew Garfield in action as the guilt-ridden, smart mouthed, nerdy Peter Parker. It turns out that the webs of fate were swinging my direction, because a friend that works for Sony offered A Bit of Geek the chance for an early screening of the film!

Let’s jump right in and say that I laughed, I cried, I loved it. The whole film was gorgeous, well-written, and exciting. Garfield plays a perfect Peter Parker (sorry Tobey, you can’t even hold a candle) and he also has great chemistry with Emma Stone, our on-screen Gwen Stacy. 

andrew garfield and emma stone as peter parker and gwen stacy
Garfield and Stone as Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-man.

Amazing Spider-man kicks things off with a storyline not often touched, the mystery of the missing parents. At a young age Peter’s aunt and uncle take him in when his parents abruptly leave town. Early in the film Peter’s curiosity is ignited when he finds an old possession of his father’s. Between the unraveling of his parents mysterious history and his gradual evolution into Spider-man, Peter devolves socially and emotionally into a rebellious and temperamental teen.

Uncle Ben (portrayed spectacularly by Martin Sheen), is hardworking, honest, and devoted to his family. When Ben comes down hard on Peter for his selfish antics and recklessness, the importance of the relationship between Peter and Uncle Ben solidifies, emphasizing their father-son bond.

**Herein lies spoilers. Highlight to read!**

The director plays off Sheen’s heavy-handed Ben quite well when it comes to his death: the heat of his words are still ringing around Peter’s angsty head when Uncle Ben is shot. It was beautifully orchestrated, and very believable. This event combined with Peter’s search to know more about his father creates a multi-dimensional springboard for the development of Spider-man’s character.

**End spoilers**

The visual effects throughout the whole film are beautiful, especially when Doctor Connors’ (played by Rhys Ifans) skin changes to lizard scales. Ifans is transformed into a very realistic The Lizard. However, I had two issues with the visuals: The Lizard’s eyes didn’t feel real, and in one scene the interaction between Spider-man and The Lizard’s CG reptilian claws is lackluster. Aside from that, all of the fights were amazingly choreographed and looked simply stunning.

the lizard and the amazing spider-man
The Lizard and The Amazing Spider-man in one of many violent confrontations. Source.

The Amazing Spider-man contained more surprises than I expected and plenty of epic scenes. The script was near perfection, including many appropriately sarcastic lines for Spider-man himself. There are morals to be learned, and they’re told eloquently as well as subtly; the audience learns with Peter about how power relates to responsibility, and their roles in his new life. The film easily lends itself to a sequel, and I expect to see Garfield and Stone in more action as well as awkward, yet realistic, teenage embraces. I say nine out of ten golden apples, but only because of those few visual slip-ups.

The Amazing Spider-man opens in theatres nationwide tomorrow, July 3rd. Be sure to check it out!


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