Midnight Mansion HD

 Click here to go to the ActionSoft website for more info and to download MM HD!

Midnight Mansion HD was released earlier this week on the Mac OS X App store.  The first Episode (we had to split it into 2 episodes) is $5, and features 5 huge mansions (including 2 brand new mansions!).  The graphics have been completely redrawn by yours truly, and it looks better than ever.

If you haven't heard of MM HD, and have been craving some good classic platformer action-adventure gaming on the Mac, go get it now!  Even if you've played the original, you haven't seen it looks as polished as it does now!  For $5 there's literally dozens of hours of gameplay.

The App Store is a savage arena where Apps battle it out, and the only key to victory is word of mouth and enough good luck to get into the top 10.  So if you are interested, buy it!  If you like it, rate it!  You are doing a service and helping my good friend Vern pay the bills so he can keep making games.

Photo 52 - Week 32: Christina

If you haven't already, meet my wife.  I rarely shoot portraits, but when Christina needed a photo taken for her work's website, I was more than happy to pull out my nifty 50mm f/1.4 and give it a shot.  I'm extremely happy with how they turned out, especially this one.

The late afternoon light was perfect, and all I did in Lightroom was a little warming up of the white balance and boosting the contrast.  It helps that the model was so good looking also.

Photo 52 - Week 30: Solo Silo

I returned to the scene of my Week 2 crime.  I had come up short for the week, and in the late July heat, I figured I'd take my camera to work and head down to the graffiti grotto at Lunch.  Much to my disappointment, the place was gated up so I couldn't actually go in. 

I did snap this shot of the outside of the building.  I made it moody with a grainy filter and desaturation.  Nothing to write home about, but hey, they can't all be winners.  Oh, and walking around at noon at 90 degree/70% humidity weather is not a great idea, pretty much ever.

VG All-Star 001 and 002

EDIT: I fixed Proto Man's helmet because I was an idiot earlier and didn't look at a reference.He's not a palette swap of Mega Man's sprite.  Mega Man's sprite is a palette swap of him.

The character above is the very meloncholy, often misunderstood Proto Man.  Kid of fitting for the first character in this series, since he was the first robot that Dr. Light built, and the "proto"-type against which his other creations were based.</nerd>

Something I'm going to try from now to the end of the year is draw 100 video game characters.  I'm trying to practice my speed sketching and games from the 8-16 bit era have a huge well of inspiration to draw from.  I'll keep each drawing to less than 30 minutes. 

 

How does she keep all that hair in her helmet?

And VG All-Star #002 is Samus Aran.  Back in 1988, playing Metroid for the first time, I remember the playground rumors (the playground is what we had before the Internet for sharing cheat codes and passwords) of a "JUSTIN BAILEY" code and that the "dude" from Samus was, in fact, a girl.  Fear of cootie-transferrence aside, Samus is still one of the badest-ass characters in Gaming history.

Strago Magus

In a rare turn of events, I'm doing an art post two days in a row; and not only that, it's another piece of Fan Art!  I don't know why I resisted fan art for so many years.  It's a lot of fun to draw when the character is already designed for you.

This is Strago Magus, who is my favorite character in my favorite Final Fantasy game.  Final Fantasy VI had the best character designs, in my opinion.  It represents the last of Amano's great Final Fantasy work, before part VII and Nomura ushered in an era of belts and spiky hair.  Puffy pants, curly-toed shoes, ornate capes and the all-important muscle shirt complete Strago's look. He looks spry for a blue mage of 70 years of age.

I also attempted a faux-watercolor look in photoshop, which was a lot of fun to do.  I hope to do more Final Fantasy VI art using this style in the future!

The Duel

I drew some arts.  I will color it and add a background at some point.  I was inspired to draw a duel between Harry Potter and Voldemort.

The last of the Harry Potter movies comes out this week.  I'm a huge fan of the books, and the last few movies have been extremely good.  It'll be sad to see the saga come to a close, but I hope this really is it.  I don't want to see "Hogwarts High", a teen drama about magically inclined teenagers dealing with the most mysterious magic of all: Love.  Seriously, no.

Goodnight, sweet prince.

Photo 52 - Week 27

Way back on week 6, with the snow still thick on the ground, I took some shots of a shut down lumber shop in town.  I was taken aback by the bright red brick and the stark white lettering with missing letters and felt compelled to capture it.

I didn't think much of the building after that, until last week, when, while driving around I noticed some big changes happening.  Half the building was torn down, with piles of that same red brick standing as monuments to the building that once stood there.

Seeing the building torn down halfway gave me a unique glimpse inside.  On Sunday afternoon I decided to go try and captures some images there.  I had fun wandering around the ruins and playing archaeologist, trying to find evidence of what this extinct civilization used to do.

Photo 52 - Week 26

Am I a time traveller?  Somehow I arrived at the mid-point for the year a full 2 weeks early.  This shoot is for the week of June 12, which is really the 24th or 25th week of 2011, depending on how you count.  I haven't figured out where the extra week came from, but I'm not going to fret too much about it.

Chrisitna and I spent our anniversary weekend in Anna, IL at the Davies School Inn.  We had a great relaxing weekend.  That Sunday, as we drove home through the rolling hills and rich farmland, we pulled over frequently so I could capture shots like the one above.

This particular wheat field was the only one left standing; the rest had apparently been cut down very recently.  In fact, if I had come back later the same day I shot this, I fear it would have been cut down as well.  I'm noticing a lot of transcience in the things I shoot.

Someone was nice enough to leave a bunch of hay bales near the side of the road for me.  I had a particularly hard time finding a good way to compose the shot, but I kind of like the one above.

The rolling hills and quiet country roads of Southern Illinois were a nice place to spend a sunday afternoon and a nice backdrop for some shooting.

And remember, I've compiled all my previous photos of the week in a Flickr set. Click here to view them all.

Photo 52 - Week 25

Week 25.  I've got to admit I'm very proud of this one, and it was sort of a spontaneous shooting session.  I had been wanting to shoot the rows of sprouts that are very common in this part of the country in late May.  When the sun was creating a very perfect "golden hour" one evening, I went to nearby Parkland College's experimental fields and shot the sprouts you see above.

While I was there, I tried to capture the quiet warmness of the late spring evening as best as I could.  Hence, the cliched shot of a street, and of a dandelion silhouette.

 

The Enemy's Gate is Down

The above "fan art" depicts a very iconic scene from the book Ender's Game. Six hours in photoshop.  Once Again I leave backgrounds for hte last, and it shows.  But I always imagined this room/scene being very very sparse - just Ender, a holographic console and a terminal.

I'm a huge fan of the book Ender's Game. I didn't read it until I was 25, and i was immediately drawn into the visceral action, the intrigue and suspense that culminates in the twist toward the end of the book.  If you like sci-fi and are even moderately interested in reading Ender's Game, go read it now.  If you don't care about Sci Fi, just quit reading this post since I'm going to nerd out for the rest of it.

I just finished Children of the Mind, which is the latest book, chronoligically, taking place 3,000 years after the original book.  What's interesting is it took me 5 years to get into the mindset to enjoy the original sequels to Ender's Game, which, starting with Speaker for the Dead, take a decidedly philosophical turn; a definite contrast to the action and intrigue of Ender's Game.

For the past six months I've been listening to the entire series via Audible.  It made trips to the gym, doing dishes and folding laundry that much more enjoyable.  The Ender books are the best produced audio books I've ever listened to, and I really recommend them.  It's the next best thing to a movie, with different characters voiced by different narrators (really "actors" is the better term) at times.

In addition to the original four Ender books released from 1985-1996, there are five full novels in the Enderverse released in the last 10 years.  The took place between the original Ender's game and Speaker for the Dead.  I had the ability to read them all in chronological order, so I did.  Consult wikipedia if you want to do the same.

The last chronological book (the one I just recently finished), Children of the Mind, was a very good read/listen.  The plot took a very interesting turn and presents -- and attempts to answer -- interesting questions, such as whether Artificial Intelligence is life, what it is to have a "soul", what happens when you die, etc.  That's quite a philosophical arc, going from a little boy in a battle school to a story about the very nature of the universe.

The author, Orson Scott Card, has political views that I vehemently disagree with, and he tends to get a little preachy in his storytelling, but I did genuinely enjoy them for their imagination and the very thoroughly realized characters.  And for getting through the sluggish parts (some of them tend to drag on with pages and pages of dialog), listening is the way to go.

I'm not sure, but I think seeing the story unfold this way (chronoligical rather than the order in which they were written) made it much more enjoyable, and I hope this will especially be true when Card releases the book that ties the Shadow Series and the Ender series together and ties the loose threads.

When I finished up Children of the Mind this past weekend, I got inspired to create the art you see above.

Photo 52 - Week 24

Week 24 took a turn for the photojournalistic.  During a week of pretty awesome and awful thunderstorms, we had a series of Tornado warnings.  As soon as the siren sounded, we rounded up our dogs, laptop and my camera and went downstairs to the basement.  While we were down there, I decided to pull out my 28mm prime and shoot some journalistic style shots.

I love the above shot, because of Thor's motion blur, Christina's expression, and the fact that you can they are all framed by the stairwell, and you can see the basement paraphenalia at the edges of the photograph.  Like all good journalism, this photo tells a story.

I also shot some other photos while I was down there.  I was practicing in Manual Mode, and decided to get artistic and black and white with the lightbulb and floor joists.

Photo 52 - Weeks 22 and 23

Week 22

Week 23

Well, a confession I have to make is that Weeks 22 and 23 were taken on the same day.  Blasphemy!  Kill the heretic!  Buuuuurn him!  Boo, hiss...  Well, what do you want?  It's free, so you get what you pay for.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I've gone off the rails as far as calendar weeks go, but the point is I tried.  I really tried!

The above photos for weeks 22 and 23 were taken at my work.  No, I don't work in a dumpster or at a flourescent light factory.

There's a big office space right near where my office is that has been sitting as a sort of white-collar archaeological dig site.  I had been meaning to take a picture of some stuff in there for a while, but never seemed to bring my camera.  Just so happened I wanted to take some photos of some baby geese that had hatched in the parking lot overnight.  Well, by the time I left work the geese were gone (went to find an actual pond I guess).  However, the light was great and I had my camera, so I shot the pile of flourescene lights.

I also shot an exit sign.  It was dead when I found it, I swear!

When I went back outside to wait for my ride, I wandered the parking lot looking for some gosslings.  Instead, I found an excuse to practice some basic composition.  I like the "NO PARKING" text in the foreground drawing your eye to the off-kilter dumpster.  I also love the texture of the ground and the whole thing looks so moody and gritty in black and white.

When in doubt, I think I'm going to take my camera to work.  When I get out of work it's usually great light - problem is it's 90+ degrees and high humidity.

Photo 52 - Week 21

First an apology for the lack of updates!  I promise it is not you, it's me.  The month of May was kind of crazy -- maybe, or that's just my excuse -- and I haven't been consistent in shooting.  So, the next few "weeks" will not literally reflect a calendar week.  There are times I've gone 12 days without shooting, and then shot 3 evenings in a row.  During these droughts when it's just a little too warm or rainy, or my camera battery isn't charge, or whatever the excuse d'jour may be, I have to pick a photo of something to fill the slot closest to that calendar week as possible.

Ladies and gentlement, Week 21 was one of those weeks:

This was taken in Christina's vegetable bed.  Not quite sure what it is.  Tomato?  Chile?  I don't remember.  I took plenty of other shots on the wrong days or wrong times of days, and out of those this was the only one with decent light and clarity.  In Week 25, yet to be posted, you will see what I think is a much better attempt at capturing what I was going for above.

So, thanks for being patient!  I will post weeks 22 through 25 before the week is out.

Photo 52 - Week 20

Welcome to the big two oh!  Week 20 pretty much sums up this Spring in Champaign.  Menacing clouds, clattering thunder, soaking rain and nagging wind.  Today was a gorgeous 75 and sunny, but the rest of May has been pretty fickle.  Nature in the Midwest is a cruel mistress sometimes, but I don't seem to mind when it's just so damn beautiful.