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Dec 15, 2013

YTP Vid: It's a Wonderful Loaf - Part 1

Merry Christmas! This took forever, but it was a ton of fun to get to know some of the ins and outs of YouTube Pooping. I also notice that there aren't any other YTPs of It's a Wonderful Life online, so who knows? Maybe it'll get more views than my other vids.

Dec 9, 2013

Fun with Song Lyrics

I come from a family with a sense of humor. The thing I miss most from them when I'm away from home is their individual laughs; When we're together we're always quoting lines from What About Bob?, Galaxy Quest, and ¡Three Amigos!; Our earliest family videos show us being silly and joking with each other. It seems like there's always an unspoken contest to see who's next to make everyone laugh.
One of the things my brother and I like to do on the fly is make fun of songs that are playing. I realized that there are at least three ways we like to do this.

1. Change the Pronoun

Changing the pronouns of the song works best with story songs, because it completely changes the angle the story is being seen from. The personalities and emotional connections of characters blur, and usually it's a really easy way to make a story funny because of all the pronouns and verbs to change. It may screw up the rhyming scheme, but it's still funny. Here are some examples.

Boulevard of Broken Dreams
by Greenday

He walks a lonely road
The only one that he has ever known
Doesn't know where it goes,
But it's only him and he walks alone.
He walks alone, he walks alone.
His shadow's the only one who walks beside him.
His shallow heart's the only thing that's beating.
Sometimes he wishes someone out there will find him.
Till then, he walks alone.

You'll Be in My Heart
by Phil Collins

Come stop his crying, it'll be alright.
Just hold her hand. Hold it tight.
She will protect him from all around him.
She will be there, he shouldn't cry.
For one so small, he seems so strong.
Her arms will hold him, keep him safe and warm.
This bond between them can't be broken,
She will be here, he shouldn't cry.

'Cause he'll be in her heart.
Yes he'll be in her heart....
No matter what I say.
He'll be in her heart, always

2. Add Crude or Twisted Humor

This is a classic for all immature moments in our lives, but I've never been a fan of something so lowbrow as fart jokes. No, the "crudeness" of the humor we weave into our song parodies mostly revolves around throwing up, obesity, or something equally hilarious (think of Weird Al's countless food-themed parodies). Still shocking and funny, but not so common and ordinary as what an 11-year-old can come up with. This type of song changing can be very funny, but requires extra effort and wit to come up with clever substitution words and phrases that rhyme or sound similar to the original. When in doubt, change one word to a slant rhyme, and see the rest of the song in a new light.

Frosty the Snowman

There must have been some magic in that white powder they found,
For when they sniffed it up their nose he began to dance around.
Oh, Frosty the Snowman was an acid trip they say.
He was made from "snow" but the children know how he came to life that day.
Oh, Frosty the Snowman was as high as he could be...

What Makes You Beautiful*
by One Direction

You ask for more,
Eat off the floor.
You won't stop making trips to the refrigerator.
Just want to sup
And drain your cup.
Don't you think that you've eaten enough?
Everyone else at the table's finished.
Everyone else but you.
Baby, you've eaten way more than anybody else,
The way that you lick your plate makes me overwhelmed,
And when you belch in my face it ain't hard to tell,
You don't know oh-oh
You don't know when you are full.

3. Dumbing Down Adjectives and Adverbs

This is one I personally find very easy to have fun with. I love to modify just certain, select descriptive words in a song that don't even change the meaning drastically. It's the subtlety in this method that can make a powerful song about passion just be a mediocre and halfhearted song, or add a measure of uncertainty and hesitation to an otherwise assertive lyric. In order to use this method effectively, make sure to watch for superlatives and comparatives, which make prime targets, such as "always," "very," "best," etc.

Never Had a Dream Come True
by S Club 7

Lots of people got something they had to leave behind
One regret from yesterday that just seems to grow with time
There's little use looking back or wondering
How it could be now or might have been
Most of this I know but still I'm having trouble findin ways to let you go
I've rarely had a dream come true
Till the day that I found you
Even though I pretend that I've moved on
You'll most of the time be my baby
I hardly ever found the words to say
You're the one I think about most days
And I know no matter where life takes me to
A part of me will sometimes be with you

*Credit for this one goes to my little brother Keaton Ballard

Nov 26, 2013

A couple of surprises

On Hearthstone, there are special "golden" cards that are animated with special effects. Besides that and their higher worth/cost, they're just the same as normal cards. But I like them. Anyway, I decided to try my hand at making my own on Adobe Premiere. These are three gods from the Argae mythos. They're really low resolution because I wanted to use them on my Argae forum, but it turns out they're too big to put as avatars anyway. Go figure. Oh well. A fun idea and a nice gateway experiment for making GIFs.

Nov 17, 2013

Battle of Finnsburg Reading

I decided to try my hand at reading Old English aloud. Here's a passage from the poem on the last post.

Nov 14, 2013

Anglo-Saxon Translation: The Battle of Finnsburg

I'm learning Old English! And what better place to preserve my translations than Pretzel Lectern? This particular piece is an intense epic battle poem, but sadly only this fragment survives.

                     hornas     byrnað nǣfre.'
  Hlēoþrode ðā     heaþoġeong cyning:
  'Ne ðis ne dagað ēastan     ne hēr draca ne flēogeð
  ne hēr ðisse healle     hornas ne byrnað,
ac hēr forþ berað,     fugelas singað,
  ġylleð grǣġhama,     gūðwudu hlynneð,
  scyld scefte oncwyð.     Nū scȳneð þes mōna
  wāðol under wolcnum;     nū ārīsað wēadǣda
  ðe ðisne folces nīð     fremman willað.
 Ac onwacniġeað nū,     wīgend mīne,
  habbað ēowre linda,     hicgeaþ on ellen,
  winnað on orde,     wesað ānmōde!'
  Ðā ārās mæniġ goldhladen ðeġn,     ġyrde hine his swurde.
  Ðā tō dura ēodon     drihtliċe cempan,
 Siġeferð and Ēaha,     hyra sword ġetugon,
  and æt ōþrum durum     Ordlāf and Gūþlāf,
  and Henġest sylf     hwearf him on lāste.
  Ðā ġȳt Gārulf     Gūðere styrode
  ðæt hē swā frēolic feorh     forman sīþe
 tō ðǣre healle durum     hyrsta ne bǣre
  nū hyt nīþa heard     ānyman wolde,
  ac hē fræġn ofer eal     undearninga,
  dēormōd hæleþ,     hwā ðā duru hēolde.
  'Siġeferþ is mīn nama', cweþ hē,     'iċ eom Secgena lēod,
 wreċċea wīde cūð;     fæla iċ wēana ġebād
 heardra hilda.     Ðē is ġȳt hēr witod
 swæþer ðū sylf tō mē     sēċean wylle.'
  Ðā wæs on healle     wælslihta ġehlyn;
  sceolde cellod bord     cēnum on handa,
bānhelm berstan     (buruhðelu dynede)
  oð æt ðǣre gūðe     Gārulf ġecrang
  ealra ǣrest     eorðbūendra
  Gūðlāfes sunu,     ymbe hyne gōdra fæla,
  hwearflicra hrǣw.     Hræfen wandrode
sweart and sealobrūn.     Swurdlēoma stōd
  swylċe eal Finnsburuh     fȳrenu wǣre.
  Ne ġefræġn iċ nǣfre wurþlicor     æt wera hilde
  sixtiġ siġebeorna     sēl ġebǣran,
  ne nēfre swētne medo     sēl forġyldan
ðonne Hnæfe guldan     his hæġstealdas.
  Hiġ fuhton fīf dagas     swā hyra nān ne fēol
  drihtġesīða,     ac hiġ ðā duru hēoldon.
  Ðā ġewāt him wund hæleð     onwæġ gangan,
  sǣde þæt his byrne     ābrocen wǣre,
 heresceorp unhrōr,     and ēac wæs his helm ðyrel.
  Ðā hine sōna fræġn     folces hyrde
  hū ðā wīgend hyra     wunda genǣson,
  oððe hwæþer ðǣra hyssa
                       The gables never burn,”
Said then the     battle-young king:
“It is not the dawning east     nor doth a dragon fly here,
Nor doth this hall's      gables burn,
But here they (the Frisians) bear forth,        birds sing,
grey-coated ones howl,     spears shout
shields answer the shafts.     The moon shines now
wandering under clouds;     now evil deeds arise
that will bring about     the people's strife.
But now awaken,      my warriors,
have your shields,      think on zeal,
fight in the vanguard,     be one of mind!”
Then many a gold-laden thane arose,     girding himself with his sword.
Then to the doors     went the noble warriors,
Sigferth and Eaga,     drawing their swords,
and at the other doors,     Ordlaf and Guthlaf,
and Hengest himself     went on behind.
Then yet Guther     exhorted Garulf
That he not bear     the equipment
on that first undertaking     to the doors of the hall.
For the warlike foe     would take it away.
But over all he      openly asked
the brave-minded warrior     who held the door.
“Sigeferth is my name,” he said.     “I am leader of the Segiens,
widely known exile;     many misfortunes
and hard battles have I experienced.     Then is
Whatever you yourself     seek of me yet decreed to you.”
Then the noise of slaughters     was in the hall;
The shield, the bone-helm,      had to burst in
The warrior’s hand     (the hall-floor resounded)
Till after the battle      Garulf was
The first     of the earth-dwellers to fall
Guthlaf’s son,     of which much good is spoken,
(mortal body).      A raven wandered
Black and brown.     Swords gleamed
As if all of Finnsburg     was on fire.
It was never heard of     in any battle of men
For sixty brave warriors     to bear themselves so well,
Nor never Hnaefe’s     unwed warriors
To pay so well for     their sweet mead.
They fought five days     so that not one of the vassals
Fell,     but they held the door.
Then departed him,     the wounded warrior [Garulf] went away,
They say that his armor     was broken,
Battle equipment worn down, and each had his helm pierced through.
Then he the guardian of the army     asked
The warriors how     they had avoided injury,
Or whether of the young men…

Maybe I'll record myself reading it in Anglo-Saxon. Should I?

Nov 4, 2013

Blog Design overhaul?

So... what do you think of the new Pretzel Lectern? I thought the old version looked a little juvenile and flashy, so I tried to streamline it a bit and improve the overall appearance. But what do you think? Do you think it's boring now? I welcome your input as followers of my blog, so if you like the other way (or something more similar to the old way) better than this style, I would appreciate your feedback.

Oct 29, 2013

Abelhawk's Final Smash

I've been meaning to make this for a long time. I came up with the idea years ago for if I were a Super Smash Bros. character. I took it in this shirt so that I could use it as my YouTube cover picture to match the avatar I drew.
Geeky? You bet it is. That's how I roll.

Oct 21, 2013

Story: The Bridge

The Bridge

One day while lost hiking alone, Jack came upon a thicket in the forest that had leaves of strange colors. He entered a small archway in the brush and came upon a bridge. The bridge spanned a large chasm, the bottom wreathed in black shadows too deep to see. On the other side of the bridge was a land unlike Jack had ever seen. There were fruit trees as far as he could see, rolling hills, and mountains decorated with blue waterfalls. He began to cross the bridge, intent on exploring the beautiful land, when suddenly an immense humanoid being with wings flew out from beneath the bridge and perched in front of him.
            “I am the guardian of the Bridge. You are fortunate to have stumbled upon this place.”
            “Bridge to where?” asked Jack, “I don’t even know where I am.”
            “The lands beyond are the Realm of Happiness. The people who have passed before you were wise and brave, and have built a perfect city where there is no disease, no crime, no war, and no pestilence. If you pass, then you will die only of old age, full and happy.”
            Jack thought of his life. He had little to live for back home. He had no family, no wife or children, and his job was nothing to be proud of anyway. He looked at the lands beyond, seeing a rainbow gleaming over a field of wheat. He thought he saw a glimpse of golden buildings near the horizon.
            Jack took a breath. “I wish to pass, Guardian.”
            “Very well. But to pass you must prove your wisdom. I will ask you a riddle. If you answer correctly, I will give you leave to cross the bridge, and your new life will begin. But if you answer incorrectly, I must instead end your life.”
            Jack was taken aback. “Are… are those the only options?”
            The being blinked its almond-shaped eyes. “Once I ask the riddle, your life will never be the same. However, you are free now to leave the way you came. But you will never find this bridge again.”
            Jack thought, looking out over the beautiful land. Then he looked off the side of the bridge at the blackness beneath. He opened his mouth to speak, then swallowed. He took a step backward. Then he walked through the multicolored leafy arch, never looking back.
            He soon found his way back to the trail, and made it home safely. He fell asleep that night peacefully, but in the morning he felt troubled. He had expected to forget what had happened the day before, but it was more vivid in his mind than the dreams he had had that night.
            Eventually he could go days without thinking of the strange bridge, but he never forgot the look in the winged being’s orange eyes.

Oct 18, 2013

An Ode to Blizzard

A couple of days ago I was invited by Blizzard Entertainment to be a part of the beta for their new game Hearthstone. I don't know how often they take aboard new beta testers (I even asked on Yahoo Answers), but it is a great honor nonetheless. Not only do I get to play the game before it's released, but I also get to see it in its beta stage and help the company work out bugs.

Blizzard has been a big part of my life as long as my written history shows. The first journal I had was in 3rd Grade, and I filled much of it with designs for WarCraft II: Tides of Darkness maps, and comics with the game's troops as characters. I even designed and wrote up a manual for an entire campaign I planned to make in the game called "The Hard Lands," which was literally a WarCraft II fanfiction in scenario form. The main reason I looked forward to going to my grandma's house was to get on my uncle's computer and play around on the WarCraft II map editor with my brother.
We also looked forward to seeing the vibrant Grass tileset.

Eventually one of our uncles hooked us up with the shareware demo version of the game. It only had three levels, but we played the crap out of those three levels. If we would've paid for that demo, we would've gotten triple our money's worth. If achievements existed back then we would've gotten Tree Cutter (cut every single tree down on the entire map). We mastered every level, rejoiced when we
came out victorious in a tough battle, and watched the preview for the retail version, dreaming of the day when we could see what a Dragon Roost looked like. When I finally got the game for my eighth birthday, I was ecstatic, and I would even put the game disc in the CD player and listen to the game's music when I wasn't playing it.
But let's take another step back.

This was one of the two hardest puzzled in the game for us to coordinate. After we finally did each, there was much rejoicing.1996. My uncle (I still look up to my uncles as heroes because of how much they spoiled my brother and me with computer games as children) gave me his copy of The Lost Vikings for PC. My brother_Redge and I played the game religiously, diligently copying passwords down as we progressed through the game (I still remember several passwords today—TFFF, QCKS, WCKY...), and then got stuck three levels from the end boss. We were disappointed then, but years later we figured it out and had due closure. That game was made by Silicon & Synapse, so what does that have to do with WarCraft II? Any die-hard fan like me will know that the company later became Blizzard Entertainment.
I can't tell you how cool I thought the dungeon creeps were. I wrote a comic about an Ogre and a Brigand who were friends.Back to 3rd Grade. Along with my beloved WarCraft II came a game we hadn't seen before: WarCraft 1: Orcs and Humans. This game had choppier graphics and odd controls, but there were amazing things about it like fire and water elementals, scorpions, slimes, and brigands. It also had a Unit Editor, which meant we could jack up the attack and HP of all of one race's units and whiz through the campaign. That took all the fun out of it, and even made one of the levels actually harder (where you have to spare one of your enemy's mage towers), but we still enjoyed it anyway. And we especially enjoyed the game's manual!

I also really loved to draw demons. What can I say? They look awesome.Egads, manuals. What ever happened to game manuals?! Games back when I was a kid were like entire experiences in a box. Besides the actual game you got to play, you got at least a few hours' worth of reading along with it that told the story of the game, biographies of characters, and up-close artistic renditions of every unit in the game! What more could a young boy with a doodler's hand want? I would bring those WarCraft manuals to school and read them during personal reading time; I would try my hand at copying the drawings myself; I even made up my my own manual for a fictional game I planned to make when I was grown up. For awhile, I thought that the funnest job in the world would be to illustrate game manuals for a living. It never crossed my mind that hard-copy game manuals would go out of style.

My favorite artist in the WarCraft manuals was a mysterious man whose signature said simply "METZEN." I had no idea until later that this man was the one responsible for bringing WarCraft into existence; I only saw him as my idol as an artist. His drawings were epic, interesting, and detailed—many of my early drawings were modeled after Metzen's.

Hey, you wanna hear a song that conditioned me to think of StarCraft years later? "South Side" by Moby.My first glimpse of Blizzard's next game, StarCraft, was in 1998 at my friend Dustin's house. It must have been only a vague glimpse at that, judging by the prompt drawings of my own version of StarCraft I invented soon thereafter. It was only in 6th or 7th grade that I got the game's Battle Chest and was able to actually play it for myself. I was amazed at the "triggers" in the game that allowed you to actually
make storylines in the scenarios. While WarCraft II depended mainly on context and custom maps had only two possible objectives, the possibilities for StarCraft maps were limitless in my eyes! I had always been a map maker, but this is really where my career took off, and I made over 150 maps with varying themes. I still have these relics on my external hard drive, and am still impressed at how my young, not-yet-voice-changed self was able to program them. This is also when I was able to truly play multiplayer for the first time, with my friends Rick Hoffmann and Jason Durfee.

This scene still stands in my mind as one of the more exciting days in my life.
Around this time, rumors began to surface among my friends about something too good to be true: a third WarCraft game, with 3D graphics, animated portraits, two new races, and best of all, a map editor with triggers like StarCraft's! I watched the game evolve on its website during its development for a long time, and Redge and I hurriedly took a glass jar and taped a note on it that said "WarCraft III Fund." We saved money every way we knew how, and at last the time came to go to WalMart and buy our coveted game. I still remember the day we installed the game and played through the tutorial. It was more detailed than ever before, and the environments with waterfalls and shallows instilled awe within us. We couldn't believe that the characters we had come to love as children were coming to life in the cinematics! Soon after playing the game, I went to the World Editor to see what I could make. It was mind-blowing how many triggers there were. There were infinite possibilities for game creation, and even a Unit Editor. I could make myself in the game with the spells I liked best!  (And I did.)

I'm curious to know how many hundreds of hours I spent in this program. Very probably several.The new, more logical way triggers worked ruined me for StarCraft. Even though I've had the urge to make a StarCraft map since, the triggers are just too primitive for my mind to wrap around any more. And when WarCraft III: The Frozen Throne came out, the World Editor was made even more powerful and user-friendly. To this day I  still have phases of playing and making games on WarCraft III. It has only been in the past two or three years, after over 10 years of on-and-off play, that the game's lack of updates has begun to make the game feel dated.

I could spend a whole post on the Map Editor for WarCraft III, or the zany and cheesy maps my brother and I made (this time numbered at over 200), and I probably will someday, but I've probably lost readers by this point anyway at this long of a post, so I'll move on to...

Ah, original WoW and Burning Crusade, how I miss you. I lay a [Withered Rose] on your grave.
For whatever reason, when I read about World of WarCraft in the back of the StarCraft: Brood War strategy guide (I also miss strategy guides coming with games), it didn't seem interesting to me. Perhaps I was scared of branching out of my favorite game universe expanding outside of the strategy game genre. At any rate, I didn't even try to play the game until my uncle (yes, one of the uncles) let me try it out on his computer. I had never played an MMORPG before, except Runescape, and the third-person perspective dazzled me. Before long, my brother and I were taking the "shut up and take my money approach," and WoW was ours. We shared the subscription fee and account, which made it easier to fund. I always get frustrated at the bad connotation WoW has because of some idiots who couldn't put it down. We would play the game for six or seven months, get tired of it, and play it six or seven months later again. I think the real-time commitment to playing with other people online came across to many as an addictive force to the game, but it was more like politeness and keeping appointments.

After two tries at other classes, Thebis the troll mage was my favorite character, and I played him through the first expansion to the game, Burning Crusade. I loved the day/night cycle, meeting people and making friends with people I would never meet in person, celebrating holidays in-game, and questing and playing battlegrounds alongside my real-life friends. I was never able to meet the concurrent level cap with Thebis, but he made it to level 68, and there he sits till this day. After the Wrath of the Lich King expansion (which came out during my Brazil crusade), I was never able to get back into the game completely. I've since tried out the Starter Edition just to try out the changes, but a part of me feels dead now that the original, untouched versions are gone for good. It has been in the past three or four years that Blizzard has begun to become ultra-modern in their game designing, and WarCraft has become almost beyond a fantasy genre into a sci-fi/steampunk/fantasy/chinese genre.

Still, I am delighted to play Hearthstone. They use classic sound effects from the World of WarCraft I knew, implement characters I'm familiar with after years of reading and playing through the lore, and even play WarCraft II music when searching for players to challenge. Lots of things about it bring back memories of what Blizzard has become for me today. It has been a pleasure to grow up with Blizzard, and even though they may not have the same style or standards of gameplay as they used to, I still salute Blizzard as one of my favorite game developers of all time. (Now if only they would release Heroes of the Storm already!)

Sep 29, 2013

KnightmareGames logo

I'm in a design class right now. It's required for my major; otherwise, I might not have taken it. Still, I'm glad I was able to learn about certain tactics in alignment, contrast, etc., which I may not have figured out on my own. It's always satisfying to learn more about something that you've always known about innately, finding out there's a science to it.
Anyway, if I ever market Corridor, Epic Chess, or any of the other board games I'm coming up with ideas for, this is definitely a pretty good looking logo and name for a company.

This is just the first draft, so obviously it'll get better, but I really think the logo picture itself is very aesthetically pleasing. It's drawn with vectors, as well, so the curves are perfect and scaleable. If I change anything it'll probably be the arrangement of the text or something.
Speaking of board games, I've been making great progress on Corridor's new look of cards. I've hit a snag, however, and need to further playtest the game to see how I can expand the skill sets and balance stats with monsters. I'll also need to figure out how I'm going to procure the art needed for the new cards. The items are easy, obviously, but skills and creatures... yeah. Those'll either take a lot of time or a lot of money to make.

Sep 24, 2013

The Year

January is like the Monday of the year. The year’s weekend holidays are over, and it’s kind of a bummer, but you’re relaxed and energetic and ready to get back to work. For a while. But the weather is gloomy, new annual reports need to be filed, New Year’s resolutions and goals need to be made, numbers need to be crunched. And the early months’ saturated Mondayness make the weeks drag on and on and on until you find yourself thinking “If I can just make it past February, I can survive.”
Finally the drippy Tuesday of the year begins. It’s a lot better than Monday, of course. The goals are made and many of them forgotten; the spring weather is starting to melt the snow. Since you’ve made your big push since the holidays, the future looks as bright as the sun on the glistening silver world. But the year’s work is still just beginning. There are meetings to go to and errands to run, and the yearend is still more of a memory than an anticipation.
The Wednesday of the year—more or less late April to early June—seems to come pretty fast. Despite the long drag through the winter, summer seems to have pierced through the fog of time headlong and met you halfway. It’s Hump Day, and you’re halfway through the year on a roll. These are the months and weeks when you marvel at time, and how fast summer has come once again, how you can remember last summer’s music hits as if they came out last week. One-half of the year down, and one-half to go!
Thursdays are great. You’re past all the dreary parts of the week slash year, and you have a lot to look forward to. This is when you loosen your tie and replace goals for work results with plans for recreation. You congratulate yourself at all the work you’ve done so far, and spend quite a bit of time relaxing. You’ve made it this far, and you can make it the rest of the way.
The Friday of the year has come at last! There is still work to be done before the yearend holidays, but it seems like it isn’t as daunting or tedious as before. The big, crystalline obstacles that seemed unsurpassable on Monday have thawed, and the spring in your step lets you soar over them and see vistas of color on the horizon. Even the leaves change color in festive anticipation. The muggy weather is replaced by cool, crisp breezes. There’s no energy for homework now. What you need is some revitalization!
At last, the yearend has come—the Saturday of the year! This is a time of parties and celebrating traditions. You dress up in a costume just for fun; special foods designed for this time of the year are plentiful; you let loose on your diet goals and enjoy extra sweets. Relatives and friends come over to visit, and you only do enough homework to keep your guilt and procrastination in check. This is the time of the year you look forward to, and the time that makes the most memories.
The year’s Sunday arrives, and the party of yestermonth has calmed down somewhat. It is now the time of year for relaxation, TV, religious contemplation, and football. You think of how many things you have to be grateful for, and to celebrate you eat as much as possible. You watch the falling snow as the year’s eyelids flutter and begin to close. You go to church and learn about Him who created the seasons and who made the earth spin in the first place. Your family surrounds you. Gentle songs that bring memories of past Sundays play on the radio.
A few pounds heavier, you yawn and savor the moment. The year has ended, just like it always has. You think of all the times you have stayed up till midnight to scream “Happy New Year!” and bang on pots and pans. Those times seem to be lined up all in a row, and yet vastly different from one another. You were a different person in each of those memories, just as now you are more different still. Tomorrow is yet another year. Soon the pure white snow will be too dirty, too icy, and too cold. But right now, napping in the warm glow of a Christmas hearth, none of that matters. 

Sep 6, 2013

Argaenothruzil Classic

Today I stumbled upon an old email in my archives that was a message to myself containing a single link: http://pub45.bravenet.com/forum/static/show.php?usernum=3860195469&frmid=6335.

This link leads to Argaenothruzil Classic, the original forum that my friends and I used to start our stories. It's been really fun for me to look over how the somewhat vast mythos of Argaenothruzil began as the simplest of universes. The races seem cliché simply because they began that way as meaningless lists of adjectives. Now at least they have backstories, cultures, and geographic locations.

The gameplay of the forum was a lot different back then, too. It was a lot more like a typed form of Dungeons and Dragons. Now it's a lot more story-based, complex, and time-consuming. Sometimes I miss the simple, stat-based factor. The story moved a lot faster, the characters interacted with each other a lot more, and we had a lot of fun. Of course, we were high school students at the time anyway, so we had more time to write.

I guess this is what I've called in the past a "bookmark" in life. Some point where you are forced to look back at an aspect of your life and see how far you've come. Argae is probably the longest-running project on my list, so it's been a fun ride. It's interesting to see how something like a project evolves over the course of years when it's allowed to.

Would I have done things differently if I could start over? Definitely. Now that I know so much about different languages and cultures, I would have made up my own races instead of just hijacking overdone trope races. But at the same time, it has been fun to see my own interpretations of how I think they should be. I also would have eliminated certain plot elements, such as the Civil Elf-Wood Elf conflict. There even used to be a third elf race, Magic Elves, which were merged into Civil Elves.

Anyway, this probably means nothing to you if you haven't been to the Argaenothruzil forum. If you're ever interested in creating a character and practicing your creative writing skills, go to the forum here, read up on some of the lore, and follow the guidelines!

Sep 4, 2013

Dustin better feel honored to be featured twice in a row on my blog!

Dustin, the antagonist of the last post's comic strip, is currently coming up with ideas for movies. I YTP'd this home video of his to show him my (and Adobe Premier Pro's), so it was a fun little YouTube Poop exercise.

Sep 2, 2013

Comic: Cupid

This comic is dedicated completely to my best friend Dustin.
This is the longest comic I've ever lettered and colored digitally! It took me a lot longer than I thought, especially given that I didn't care at all about the panel shapes and did a half-bummed job on the shading/coloring. But either way, it was fun to make. and really fun to have something long enough to have to organize and outline. If ideas like this grew on trees, I'd plant an orchard and actually have a full-out comic blog! I'd also have a lot less free time. :D

Aug 26, 2013

Corridor Cards Update

While thinking of fun things to customize, I decided to look up how much it would cost to make a deck of custom playing cards. Not only was what I found affordable—it had more creative capabilities than I had thought! Some sites I found even allow you to design the back and front of each individual card. This gave me an idea for something that would definitely be worth putting time into: revamping Corridor completely!
What once looked like this:

Can in the somewhat near future look like this!

I may need to hire my brother to do some of the art on the cards, but I am really enjoying this format. Specifically, keeping the nostalgic "original drawing" icon, but this time on parchment; as well as the colored dots for specificity on whether the skill is a Warrior, Mage, or Rogue skill (I'm also working on implementing a Priest branch). The possibilities are more endless than I thought! What if I were able to convert every card and tile in the game into actual legit board game material?

I have high hopes for this project. Who knows? Corridor might actually be able to be converted into a full-on board game in my household. I wish I had realized earlier how much of my work I could customize!

Aug 22, 2013

The Spider's Doom

Audio mixing is harder than it looks. But sometimes videos just somehow magically fit to the already-recorded music track.

Aug 17, 2013

End of the summer update

Well, now that summer is over and I feel like I've gotten all the computer-game playing and vegging out of my system, hopefully I'll be able to buckle down and work on some projects again. It seems like in the summertime I'm lazier, even though I'm working more than doing homework. I think the intellectual stimulation of school inspires me to work on personal projects more. I just hope I don't get stuck in a permanent rut after I graduate.

Anyway, here's a basic update of some of the things I've been working on:

  • I started editing Alfred and the Cavern of Time for its third copyedit, so one more time through on my part and my cousin's, and it should be almost ready to be "published." When I say published I mean possibly bound into a codex, but at least it'll be "finalized" to the point where I can make an audiobook of it. And later, perhaps into a Graphic Audio book with sound effects and music.
  • I just finished It's a Wonderful Loaf - Part 1, the YTP of It's a Wonderful Life, so that was a lot of fun to work on. I put it on YouTube, but I'm only going to release it to the public's view when Christmas comes. By then I can maybe get the other part (or two) done so they can all be together. That will also give me enough time to see how strong YouTube's copyright laws are. There are thousands of YTPs online, so hopefully mine won't be taken off.
  • I've been really wanting to make a couple of short films, and I have one or two ideas... I'll hopefully be able to put them to use soon. My deal is, if I can just write up a screenplay, the idea comes to life almost immediately. Filming and editing is the easy part. So hopefully I can find time (and motivation) to write up some screenplays. Or at least mess around with a greenscreen or something.
  • A couple of easier projects that are just documents, such as the Corridor Roleplaying Game handbook, should be easy to work on in the near future, so hopefully I can finish those soon.
  • And there's always graphic art that seems to pop up every so often, so I hope to put on some of that soon as well.
That's all I can think of now, so onward to the fall semester!

Aug 7, 2013

Abelhawk the Archmage

This one didn't turn out as good as the other one color-wise, but I liked doing it just the same. This is the fictional character whose name I use in everything, as I best imagine him in my books. Strictly speaking, this drawing is based on his Argaenothruzil incarnation in the present era.

Jul 26, 2013

Vilhellm Xonafitii

I got in the mood to draw today, so I drew the protagonists of the current story I'm writing with my cousin. This first one is my character, Vilhellm "Will" Xonafitii. One thing you should know about my own mythos, Argaenothruzil, is that though it uses lots of cliches (such as elves, dwarves, and vampires), it does so so that I as the writer can interpret them in my own way. In a sense, it's a sort of my fanfiction of classic fantasy.
Will is a wampyre, a recently discovered race (for mainland Argaenothruzil) from Nerolanth. Wampyres in my universe are not bloodthirsty monsters. They are simply another race in the world. They are a nocturnal race, mainly because their skin is sensitive to the sun; their eyes can range from red and orange to pink and magenta in color; they only drink blood from animals, and some even drink the juice from fruits. They are a vain race who value their family lines, ingenuity, and written works.
Will himself spent some of his childhood in mainland Argaenothruzil, so he learned to speak Argaen without a Nerolanthian accent. His main goal in the story is to travel to Argae and become a part-time diplomat and a full-time artifact hunter. He meets Zenaeron, my cousin's character, and they set off together to go on adventures. You can read the story as it stands thus far here, and it's a work in progress, so we're adding to it almost daily.
I'll upload other pictures soon!

Jul 19, 2013

The Creation of the World

I've been slacking on projects due to an especially enthusiastic playthrough of Oblivion, so here's a filler: A look into the world of Argaenothruzil (my play-by-post forum RPG) and its creation. If you want to read stories that take place in this world, check out the forum itself here!

The Creation of the World 

Before the world existed, there was only Void. Matter chaotically flowed through the infinite Void with no reason to do anything else. Th
e only life in the entire universe were the Intelligences. The Intelligences were beings that resembled what humans would later become. They knew the balance of the cosmos and how, more or less, to control it. There were many Intelligences, but nine in particular had great leadership skills amongst the rest

It became meet in time for the Intelligences of the cosmos to organize the matter in the universe and pass on their lineage to lesser beings, mortals. All of the Intelligences agreed that the population of mortals they created should appear in their own image, but before they could create life, they would have to create a world on which their denizens could live. From the matter scattered across the infinite Void, they sorted out five important elements: Fire, Water, Earth, Air, and Quintessence.

Quintessence was the same substance that flowed through the veins of the Intelligences. They used this godly essence to construct the countless stars in the sky.

From Earth, the Intelligences created planets, moons and other bodies of rock to serve as the solid representation of matter in the universe. They especially made great care to form the World on which they planned to let their heirs inhabit.

They used the element Fire to create a yellow Sun to warm their new world. Some Fire was also used within the world itself and other planets.

Water was used mostly for the seas and oceans of the world, but some Water was frozen and wrapped around stars called comets.

Air was useless to the Intelligences, but they created with it a bubble of pure Air around the world in hopes that their inferiors could use it to sustain their mortal life.

Having now a mortal world on which to extend their children’s lives, the Intelligences created a race of strong, healthy humans from the dirt on which they were destined to stand. The Intelligences also created many different animals and plants to accompany them. To make the mortal lives begin, the Intelligences inserted into their veins the most special of all their creations, blood. This sacred fluid was the epitome of the Intelligences’ love for their children.

At this time, the Intelligences of the cosmos reached an argument. What would the human race’s objective in life be? The nine head Intelligences each had a different point of view for the mortal race, but they were divided into three main viewpoints. One group believed that the human race should want to help each other and work together. Another believed that they should work only for their own pride and self-accomplishment. Still another believed that both of the others were wrong, and that something in-between should be achieved, something balanced, like the way in which the world was created.

At last, most of the Intelligences agreed that all of the various viewpoints would be present in their world of men, and that a compromise should be made. But some of the Intelligences were deeply offended and demanded that their way should be the only one present. At this point, the Intelligences made a “Great Division” within themselves. Two-thirds of the nine became known as Gods, hoping for the well-being of the world, and one third became known as Demons, hoping for the possible destruction of what they had just helped create. The latter group and its followers were driven out of the council and shunned.

The world was made up of two continents: Argaenothruzil(or “Gods’ Crown”) and Elidethnar(or “Noble Diamond”). After the Great Division, the Demons attempted at once to seize control of the world for their own practices. The Gods and their army of Angels outnumbered the cowardly Demons, and succeeded in saving Argaenothruzil from their evil taint. Unfortunately, the dark grasp of the Demons held fast to the latter continent of Elidethnar. The continent was corrupted beyond the Gods’ control of it. Before the blight could spread, the Gods decided to use their remaining element of Air to thwart the Demons’ plan. With their remaining supply of element Air, the Gods conjured massively violent storms surrounding the corrupt island in hopes that none of their noble children on Argaenothruzil would be touched by its dark influence. The storms successfully ceased the Demons’ invasion, but the humble continent of Elidethnar was lost. The Gods’ children there were no longer in the safety of their influence. Only a small part of their power could occupy them any longer. The Demons rejoiced in their taking of the entire continent to their own. They renamed the continent Eredathios, meaning “Black Possession.”

To this day the Gods extend their help to their beloved blood-children in hopes that they can sustain the order of the world, but not all of their heirs held fast to the feelings of Good in their hearts. Many let their ungodly passions corrupt their own minds and become under the Demons’ influence, and some even lost the love of order altogether, and sought to aid their Demon lord masters. However, most of the blood-children adhere to the standards set by their divine creators, even through the much evolution the world’s population has gone through, to the splitting of races besides pure humans. In many societies, they construct magnificent temples in worship to the Gods. Although, of course, there are those gullible and weak-minded who spill their own precious god-given blood in sacrifice to Demons as well. The Nine Deities and their alignments are as follows:

Vendictes: The most pure of the Gods, Vendictes dwells in the hearts and minds of the blood-children in hopes that he can guide them in their thoughts to what is right in their lives and the lives of others. He is always with those who are Virtuous.

Phroella: Known as the Nature Mother by some, Phroella is always anxious to use her argument-quelling powers to settle the various disputes among men. She is the Goddess of sympathy, regret, and forgiveness, and the Goddess of Peace.

Bezzoan: The noblest God is by far Bezzoan, who puts determination and fervor into the hearts of his blood-children. He is a warrior God, but not a bloodthirsty one. He is revered by those who value their Honor above all else.

Henaeros: The wisest of the Gods and the organizer of the world’s creation, it was Henaeros who protected Argaenothruzil from the steady corruption of Eredathios. Henaeros is the God who never changes, and he believes that the world should be that way as well. Henaeros is the God of Order.

Ezrim: Ezrim, who esteemed the Demons’ actions intolerable in comparison to the Gods’, chose to join their order. He was the founder of the cities and governments of Argaenothruzil and gave the kings of such cities divine right to rule. Those who seek Justice are favorites of Ezrim’s.

Moeki: Moeki was actually one of the Intelligences who proposed a selfish race of humans, but in seeing his comrades the Demons outnumbered in vote joined the Gods instead. He is a cunning, sneaky God, and he still believes deep down that the favor of others is ultimately important. Those who seek Fortune worship Moeki in particular.

Rauroth: Perhaps the most quick-tempered of the Demons, Rauroth’s entire being is consumed in hatred for the Gods and his banishment from their council. Those of the world who find themself in a similar vengeful state of mind will find themself growing closer to the influence of Rauroth, the Demon of Revenge.

Khlamul: Followers of Khlamul are rarely religious, busying themselves entirely in the workings of science and knowledge, in hopes of dominating others. He was among one of the more missed of the council, as his lust for knowledge was rivaled only by Henaeros. Now he sees no other way to defeat the Gods than to overtake them by making himself more Powerful than they.

D’nethrokash: The most evil of all the Demons, it was D’nethrokash the Corrupter who succeeded in obtaining Eredathios from the Gods’ control. He is the Demon of Chaos, and seeks to destroy everything that he does not control. Many of the citizens living on the Eredathios continent were driven mad with his dark energies, but his influence extends to a small number of individuals in Argaenothruzil as well.

By way of commentary (so this post isn't a complete cop-out), I think it's interesting how I made this up without too much thought, but that certain archetypes seen in other stories apply here. For example, just like in the Elder Scrolls mythos, there are Nine "Divines," though admittedly three became evil. This is also an interesting allusion to LDS theology, in that "a third" of the hosts of heaven chose Satan's plan over God's.
I also, if you notice, tried to add variety to the Deities' names by making each one have a different beginning sound and ending sound.
Bonus points for whoever can comment and guess who the actors are I used to portray them.
I HATE the actor I had to choose for Vendictes, but that is literally the only picture I could find that remotely resembled the god I imagined in my head. If anyone knows of an older actor who has a beard and a benevolent smile, please let me know.

Jul 10, 2013

Story: The Phoenix Suns Coat

And now it’s time for storytime with Austin. Today's story: The Tale of the Phoenix Suns Coat.

When I was in Fifth Grade, I had a Phoenix Suns coat. It was a pretty nice coat, as coats go. It was purple and orange, and had a shining basketball on the back. It was probably a hand-me-down, but I liked it. My coat didn’t have a zipper—it was one of those pullover-style coats with a hood. Basically like a hoodie made of the slick, snow-resistant coat material.

My coat kept me warm at recess, but it was too hot to wear during lunch. Besides that, because it was so bulky, I didn’t like carrying it or draping it over my shoulder while getting my food tray and eating at the tables. At my middle school, the lunchroom was in the hallway on the way to the doors to the playground. Going down the hallway toward the recess doors, the lunchroom doors were on the left, and on the right were the pop machines next to the gym doors.

Every day on my way to lunch, I would pull off my coat and leave it next to the pop machines. After I ate my food, I would come out the exit doors a ways down the hall, put on my coat, and head off to the snowy playground. I don’t know why exactly I put it by the pop machines every day. I can’t remember the first time I thought they were a convenient and safe place to store my coat. I just remember that being the routine for most of the winter months of school. That way, I wasn’t inconvenienced during lunch, and I could be warm as I played outside every day.

Have you ever experienced that sort of hopeful ignorance you get when you’re doing something you know you could get in trouble for? It’s not even just a one-time emotion—it’s an attitude, a habit; a routine that you know could blow up in your face any time. It’s like speeding, or going outside without sunscreen, or not having a spare key under the mat on your porch. Somehow, with this ignorant hope, we just go on in life, fully realizing we’re balancing on a tottering pinnacle, fully at the mercy of Lady Luck, when we could be in control of the situation with a little less laziness. But since each day turns out okay, that small bit of extra convenience seems to be worth the risk.

Anyway, one day when I came out from lunch, the coat was gone.

I remember being pretty distraught about it. Not enough to skip recess, of course. A kid’s gotta do what he can, even without staying warm. I may have told my teacher or looked in the lost and found, but as far as I remember, I just had to accept the sad fact that somebody had stolen my Phoenix Suns coat, and there was nothing I could do about it.

Months passed, and I wore a different, less warm jacket to recess every day. I never left it near the pop machines, but that may just be because it was light enough to take into lunch.
Eventually, it was Easter time, and the school was abuzz about the upcoming Egg Drop. Each student would be given an egg to be put in a package. The principal would drop the boxes from a cherrypicker, and whosevers egg remained intact would win McDonalds coupons. I can’t remember if that’s the year I encased my egg in jello, or attached a makeshift parachute to my box. Either way, the day finally came when our entire Fifth-Grade class got to get out of class for the Egg Drop.

The principal got into the cherrypicker, and as it slowly rose over the students, I saw a familiar set of colors on the opposite side of the blacktop. There in the crowd was my Phoenix Suns coat, worn by some punk from another class! I told my friend Jake about the coat being the same missing coat I had lost months earlier. “Are you sure, man?” he asked. “I’ve seen Phoenix Suns coats like that before.” But it all made sense. That cretin had taken my coat from its usual place by the pop machines that fateful lunch hour, and had the audacity to wear it himself at a grade-wide event!

I told my teacher, Mr. Peterson, who also asked me if I was sure. Of course I was sure. The hood, the pullover-style, the purple and orange color scheme… that was my coat! Besides, what was the kid going to do when he was confronted if it was my coat? Deny it? Fifth-graders are too dumb to do that, at least to a teacher’s face.

I enjoyed the Egg Drop as much as I could, while glancing over repeatedly at that kid flouncing around in my coat. When it was over, Mr. Peterson disappeared into the crowd. At this point, I panicked. What if he pointed over to me as body language for “That kid is that coat’s rightful owner”? I was a small kid, and the other guy was too, what with him fitting in my coat and all, but what if he had bigger friends who would come beat me up? (I was kind of a worrier when I was younger) I hurried with my friends inside, avoiding any eye contact.

I went to the restroom, and when I emerged, I saw it—in the arms of a female teacher (the jerk thief’s, apparently), my glorious coat lay draped. I couldn’t help but feel a sense of triumph at seeing the coat presented like that—unworn. The teacher had no idea it was my coat; she was just on her way to leave it in the office for its owner to pick up. She gave me a polite smile as she walked by. I later would pick up my coat at the office and wear it for as long as it would fit me. But as I looked out at the woman’s class fanning out behind her, I found it interesting that, without the coat, the coat-stealer kid was unrecognizable.

All throughout high school, when classes were no longer divided, I never could make the connection of who the coat-stealer was. Perhaps he moved sometime after the Egg Drop, or perhaps I later unwittingly became good friends with him. Regardless of who the living, breathing soul was who really did it, I like to think of that kid I saw wearing my coat as someone I’ll never see again—someone who no longer exists, save in my memory. As far as I know, I was the victor on Egg Drop day, and Coat Stealer’s plan was thwarted.

The End

Jul 9, 2013

New Project: Corridor Role-playing Game

I decided just randomly a week or so ago (Literally randomly. I seriously can't even think of what gave me the idea. I was just suddenly there at my computer, with four pages typed up already) to make a handbook for the original Corridor game (previously called "The Hero," and "Dungeons of Doom") that my brother and friends would play as kids.
I'm taking some liberties; for example, a six-sided die is now used to determine the success of certain encounters, and a set of skills are going to be included. But I'm going to try and capture the basics of the game I had so much fun inventing and playing.
Of course, when I'm done I'll release it as a .pdf for download. I'm also still trying to come up with a logo for Corridor (both the board game and the pen-and-paper RPG).
Anyway, hopefully I can capture the fun of actual Corridor games like the one shown here from high school. Obviously, back then we only needed paper and pencils, but a guide will help to organize some of the more iffy rules and have a template for dungeons.
I just really am fascinated with Corridor. I think it's interesting that, even though I never learned about Dungeons and Dragons as a kid, I came up with my own version. I think there's something inside all of us that wants to pretend, to explore what we can come up with on our own. Just looking at the unfinished game here, I really, genuinely wonder what's behind that door blocked by the wooden wall. And I wonder what all of the situations were that these characters encountered. That's the problem with this game, is that you can only play it once per sheet of paper. Then it's anyone's guess what happened amidst the mess of scribblings and erasings. I wish I could invent something that could read the order that lines were drawn. Then I could see it drawn all over again and really get some good ideas.
Anyway! Another fun project on the list to have fun working on. Later days!

Jul 2, 2013

Battle Cards Spotlight 3a: Gameplay I

Part 3a: Gameplay

I'm not sure if my friends and I ever came up with a standardized way of playing Battle Cards. In fact, to my memory I can only remember playing about ten full games total. There were some mechanics that we never were able to completely iron out before the Age of Battle Cards came to an end, but I'll do my best to remember for the purposes of this post.

Understanding the Parts of a Battle Card

  • CARD NAME: This is the name of the Battle Card. Heroes have their hero class, followed by their actual name to distinguish them from other similar heroes.
  • HIT POINTS: These show how much life the Battle Card starts with. All Battle Cards, for whatever reason, have hit points in multiples of 10. When it reaches zero, the Battle Card is discarded into the dead pile.
  • ELEMENT: What subdeck the card belongs to. The basic elements are Good, Evil, Wild, Tame, Artifact, and Special Move. Some attacks do extra damage or special effects to certain elements as well. For an explanation of the different elements and their icons, see Part 2: Design.
  • APPEARANCE: A visual depiction of the item, troop, special move, or hero.
  • ATTACKS: Each attack has an icon, a name, and one or more effects. The effects will be detailed later.
  • DESCRIPTION/BIOGRAPHY: Every Battle Card has an description, which looks into the untold lore of Battalia. It may describe the unit's origin, practices, diet, etc. Heroes have more specific biographies. Also written here are any special abilities or rules the card carries with it.
  • OTHER FEATURES: "Credit cards" (see below) have a monetary value assigned to them (for example, 50$); One tame card, the Wind Wizard, had an MP stat alongside its HP that it used as a mana cost for its attacks.


As far as I can remember, this is basically the way a typical game of Battle Cards went.
  1. First, we would choose our deck. We would decide beforehand how many each person would get (for example, 1 hero, 1 artifact, and 10 troops). We would arrange them in the order we wanted them to fight in. This style of a "linear" sort of formation was later replaced by a style in which we could set out up to three cards in front of us, each taking its turn. This way we could choose which of the enemy cards to attack, rather than just the first one in the enemy deck (for purposes of explanation, the first style will be called style A and the second B)
  2. The first player would take his turn. A turn could consist of switching out your card for another one, equipping an item, or using an ability. If he chose an attack, it would take effect immediately on the enemy card. The card would take however much damage the attack was designated, or receive the designated status effect. If the card died, it would be discarded into the dead pile, and in style A any leftover damage from the attack would be carried to the next card(s).
  3. The next person would take his turn.
  4. Whoever destroyed his enemy's deck would win.
  1. No using the same attack twice in a row.
  2. God cards cannot be killed in one hit under normal means.
  3. Certain cards could be banned for being too "power-happy."
As you can see, there are a few glaring problems with these rules: Firstly, what limits are put on the card attacks? We recognized that Pokémon cards had those energy cards that were used as a sort of cost system for attacks, but we didn't want to waste paper making a buttload of those. So instead, we simply said that you can't use the same attack twice in a row. This worked okay, but if a card had one devastating attack, they could still use it every other turn for power-happy results. Secondly... well, let's do a whole section on "style A."

Concerning style A, as I arbitrarily refer to it in this post, I have no idea what we were thinking. I think we had a basic grasp on the gameplay of Pokémon cards, and I think they work the same way, with one Pokémon card being in play at a time. This makes sense regarding the whole system of Pokémon trainers sending out their Pokémon one at a time. But carrying over the damage? I think we wanted to make it realistic, in that if a blast of fire seared through one unit, it would continue with the rest of its fuel to harm enemies behind it. But this caused all sorts of issues like having to arrange your troops in a strategic order, which subtracted greatly from the fun. Also, what is the point of an attack that makes the enemy lose its next turn? It uses up your turn, which means it's automatically your turn again. You might as well not do it. And more than one turn would be unfair, because according to our rules you could do it repeatedly forever. I guess this would make sense if more than two people were playing, but style B makes a lot more sense, in that you would want to silence certain cards so that other cards could deal with them. In fact, it makes me sad that it took us so long to get to that point.

The rules were never completely ironed out, but oh well.

On the next Battle Cards Spotlight, I'll discuss specifics of the game such as Combat Effects and Attack Design.

Jun 25, 2013

Comic: Those Darn Pine Trees

It's likely that only people who have had a mowing job will get this, but it was fun to draw anyway. I've been in a real comic-drawing mood lately. I wish I could just force myself to do an epic 12-page fantasy graphic novel using Knight Guys, but that just leaves me frustrated. In the meantime, enjoy!

Jun 24, 2013

Battle Cards Spotlight 2: Design

Part 2: Design

The attributes of our cards evolved over time, just like any project that adds on to itself. But we were able to basically divide the types of cards we manufactured into some simple categories that stuck. Each card contained one of these symbols in the upper-right corner, signifying its element or function:

The cross was the symbol of good cards. These were benevolent creatures or humans who had powerful defensive and enhancing abilities. Examples are the King, Unicorn, Archangel, Phoenix, Medicine Man, and the Genie. The good hero class was that of Knight. I made 20 good cards.

Evil cards bore a skull on their corner. These were creepy, scary, and otherwise malevolent creatures and humans, including several undead cards, and focused on attacks that were poisonous, destructive and dangerous. Examples of evil cards are the Vampire, Mummy, Devil's Viper, Chimera, and the Parasite. The evil hero class were the Necromancers. I made 28 evil cards.

The gaping jaws was the symbol of wild cards. These were beasts, barbaric humans, alien-like creatures, and elementals. Their abilities were many times physical attacks, and chaotic, unpredictable spells. A few examples of wild cards are the Behemoth, Hydra, Flame Dragon, Void Elemental, and the Basilisk. Barbarians were the wild class of heroes. Due to the elementals being wild, as well as the wide range of animals available to classify as wild, I made a whopping 47 wild cards.

The whip was the tame symbol. This was a host of cards that were lawful-aligned, hired, enchanted, or otherwise domesticated creatures. Their abilities were often magical, and focused on manipulating the battlefield in unique ways. Some tame cards are the Squire, Silver Magus, Griffon, Wood Golem, and the Halfling Throng. Tame heroes were Enchanters. There were 30 tame cards.

There was really not much special about the hero cards, except that they had names and could wield artifacts. I think I was shooting for a bit of a roleplaying element, with heroes that had similar attacks but different specialties. Some of their histories interwove, too, which may have inspired my Battle Card Quest decks (I'll explain that in a later spotlight) Anyway, a flag with the letter corresponding to their element was the heroes' symbol. Each faction had 2 or 3 heroes.

Gods were a special card that came about later in the game, symbolized by the lightning emblem in the element corner. Gods had names, were one of a kind, and had one more attack than other cards (four, as opposed to three). They also had a special defense condition: they could not be killed in one attack. For example, the God of the Void Orin has 190 hit points. If an enemy card did 190 or 200 damage, it would have no effect whatsoever. Orin would have to have been dealt at least 10 damage to be vulnerable to an attack like that. To counter this, there was one wild card in my deck called the Titan who could kill gods in one hit. Another fun fact is that each god was named after the middle name of one of my family members. I encouraged my friends to name their god cards in the same fashion. I had 7 god cards in my deck.

The gem was the symbol of the item or artifact cards. Artifacts were originally created as ways to increase the abilities of heroes to make them more of an asset to one's army, but many items eventually were able to be equipped by normal cards as well. Mainly, they gave special attributes to the army or otherwise modified the rules of the game; for example, the attack of all wild cards could be increased by 10. Also included in the artifact deck were credit cards (credits as in money), which were largely useless cards used to "buy" enemy cards; and some items that granted the card more abilities than they normally had. There were 54 artifact cards.

The leaping man icon meant the card was a 'special move' card. These cards were good in theory, but I  think the idea was severely underdeveloped. Basically, these were abilities that heroes could "learn" that would simply add to their regular abilities, allowing a person to more fully customize their heroes for the battle. Unfortunately, many of the abilities were power-happy, or otherwise game-breaking. Either way, it was an interesting idea to come up with. There were only 13 special move cards.

The ridiculously mundane stupid smiley face was the symbol of a master card (I know, there are a lot of weird puns happening here. Master card, credit card. Purely unintentional). I mean, seriously? A smiley face? Not even a smiley face, an indifferent face. The symbol for the most important card in the deck could have been a crown, or a star, or a sword, but no. Had to be an indifferent face. Anyway, the master card was a card invented to add an element of overarching leadership to an army, beyond the heroes. Specifically, there was to be one master card per deck, and it was us. Meaning, I made a master card called Austin Ballard, illustrated myself the way I wanted, and made attacks for myself, my friend Dustin made one called Dustin Clements, etc. I think this card was meant to be more powerful, and perhaps if it died then the game was over, but I kind of choked when it came to designing it. It was less powerful than most of the regular army cards and had mundane attacks anyway. Oh well. A good idea. But not a good icon.

These last few elements of cards were kind of odd. I'm not sure where we were going with these. The darkened skull signified a possessed card. there were only 3 possessed cards, and I think I was the only one to ever mess with them. Basically, possessed signified an "evil" version of a good card. There was Evil Arko, Evil Jerrith (both were also knight hero cards), and even Evil Austin. Apparently in the lore of Battalia, at some point knights had become corrupted (or more accurately, infested. They look just like infested terrans from StarCraft), gaining separate, disgusting abilities as part of their new form. Again, it didn't go too far, but I like how Battle Cards had a sort of unwritten story you could catch glimpses of between the lines of the card descriptions.

There was only one relic card symbolized by the many-faceted gem: the full-color Prize Flag card, which granted all units in the army carrying it the Regeneration (+10HP per turn) and Fire Shield (10 damage to attackers) abilities. The Flag was to be passed on to the victor of each battle it was used in. I really like this idea, and I wish we would have actually played games with it. Judging by the apparent age of the card, though, it looks like I made it very late into development. I also regret some of the color choices on the flag. It could have looked really cool, but it just looks like a mess.

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Those were the standard Battle Card elements, which basically sums up the design section of Battle Cards. I'll talk more about the ideas behind certain attacks and other mechanics in the Gameplay spotlight.