Friday, August 30, 2013

eBayables: Off Script

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Denver 5 Comics 66-70

Denver 5 is an unillustrated comic strip about a group of dicks that are vaguely acquainted with one another because they are all endowed with metahuman abilities. Character descriptions are here.

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Comic 66
1. CLIFF WHITE (Well-built, young male, dark hair) in a shower (chest-up). There's a "beep" sound happening in the background.

Caption:
University of Colorado, Denver
Campus Village Apartments

2. Cliff is getting out of the shower and wrapping a towel around his waist. The Beeping continues.
Cliff (Internally):
He's up!  Finally, I am going to have a conversation with my roommate about--

3. Cliff is facing out of a bathroom and into an empty sleep area with two beds (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nzi4JLfT2qU). The beeping has stopped, as has his train of thought. We can see an invisible CYBER PARANOID with a bookbag waiting by the open door to the hallway outside.

4. Cyberparanoid is still invisible and is outside of the door to his room, which is being slammed shut.
Cliff:
"Can't even close the damned door when he leaves!"

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

New Schedule

So I'm weaning off of Google. That includes working more with the big boy site (vanvelding.com if you're one of those readers who is allergic to links). I'm not going to shut down this place any time soon; I know folks' RSS feeds and links and autocomplete thingies are set here. I am going to throttle back though.

It's the Magic will keep going on Mondays until "Getting {U} from a Stone" is finished. I'm currently posting it a few weeks behind over there. The Tuesday videos are queued up through to October and they're so simple there's no reason not to keep them coming (are the videos a draw for you guys? I don't have reader stats on those.).

Wednesdays have been wildcard days for a while now, so they'll be quiet unless I make them a "Meanwhile, at The Website..." sort of plug day where I talk about all the cool stuff I'm doing on my Tumblr, Twitter, etc..

Denver 5 stuff is entrenched here, so it stays. Will be reposting to catch up over there.

Fridays will keep up until the end of this eBay stuff, then...I don't know. Again, I don't get stats on the video stuff, so I'm not even sure what the level of interest is for more original video content.

Anyway, thanks for reading folks.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Layperson's History of Getting {U} from a Stone, Part 3

For the past few weeks, I've been idly speaking about artifacts (and lands) in Magic's history that give mana of any color. Some give a few mana up and then sacrifice themselves, some convert generic mana or life into the color of mana you need, and others can produce mana of any color, but usually don't, or restrict how you can spend it.



Though it really is just a restriction, making the production of colored mana finite has been explored enough to warrant its own category. Sure, Black Lotus and Lion's Eye Diamond are powerful one-shot, bursts of mana, but Magic eventually dialed it down to one mana, or even just filtering. Weatherlight gave us Gemstone Mine and Tempest gave Lotus Petal. The mine was pretty popular, but you only got three uses out of it. The lotus also had finite uses—well use—but managed to break its format.

The concept stuck though. Invasion had Archaeological Dig, which produced generic mana until you sacrificed it for a mana of any color. It also had Chromatic Sphere, which was essentially a two-mana Lotus Petal. What Chromatic Sphere had that the petal didn't was a card draw attached; now you weren't discarding cards to get the mana you needed, you were cycling them.

Then you have Ravnica's Terrarion, which is the Magic card equivalent to Sin City's Marv. Terrarion is ugly, slow, and clunky, but it's a hell of a nice card. Like Kalhni Gem, it's almost too niche to include, but it swings us neatly back to our one-shot mana filters perfectly. Time Spiral's Chromatic Star is an obvious descendant of both the Terrarion and Chromatic Sphere. It saddens me that Star vs Sphere is a real and concrete point of contention in some parts of the Magic community, a fact that is one of many reasons I'll shed a single tear when World War III starts, but only because I know humanity will find a way to survive.

Strangely, these sorts of artifacts taper off after Chromatic Star. I'm not sure why. What I've seen more of are things like Sphere of Suns and Pentad Prism, which use counters to make a finite amount of colored mana before the artifact becomes useless.

To lapse into pure hyperbole, I can conjecture about why they stopped. Pentad Prism.



Oh, sure, it gives you a set amount of colorless mana. It ends up filtering and floating mana at a 1:1 rate in a two-color deck. Pentad Prism, like Mox Opal, is the right card in the right set. It's a simple, flawless piece of design that makes Magic hum like a perpetual motion machine[1]. Chromatic Sphere? Cute. Chromatic Star? Adorable. Lotus Petal? Nope. Implements of Sacrifice? Fuuuuuuuuuck you! :) Pentad Prism is a reason to shut down the store and retire.

Swinging back to the land side, Tendo Ice Bridge in Betrayers of Kamigawa took the same aproach. It lessened the more finite elements of the Gemstone Mine by allowing giving a one-time multicolored land use and providing colorless mana indefinitely. It was a hybrid of the mine and less successful filters like the Henge and School, but still popular.



The vivid cycle (illustrated here by Vivid Creek) would be a straightforward upgrade of Gemstone Mine, but it enters play tapped, essentially costing its own mana to play. The change allows something that lasts longer than Tendo Ice Bridge, while being more useful in the long term than the mine. The short term tradeoff is something for professional players to talk about, but using time to balance multicolored mana generation is--in my opinion--the maximum extent of complexity for lands that generate finite mana of any color. I am going to talk about it next week though.

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[1] Which I don't think would actually hum because of the energy loss due to emitted sound.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Jesus Fuck Google

This is intolerable. I can't stay logged into YouTube. I can't upload my YouTube video. Whatever that fuckup is, it's fucking up Blogger as well.

When and if I get the latest eBayables video up (Vimeo and Photobucket are my options after this last try), I'll probably put a post up here directing to it on my much-neglected VanVelding.com site.

Which I feel won't be neglected for much longer.

Edit: eBayables 3: Something Old, Something New

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Denver 5 Snag

Hey, don't have a Denver 5 thing today. Having a problem working the next storyline out. Rest assured I'm reading tons of webcomics and regular comics as, um, research for how to approach it.

As a side note, I was looking up Neo's name because of reasons the other day, but all I knew was that his real last name was Anderson (somehow). So I googled "Neo Anderson," and it turns out that's the name of a pretty hot model, so sometimes I have very, very good reasons why I don't get things done.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Contemplation: Biking

It's a bicycle.

But if you ride one, you're a cyclist.

The colloquial term, for either a bicycle or motorcycle, is "bike."

Fuck you, English.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Layperson's History of Getting {U} from a Stone, Part 2

Last week I talked about getting mana of any color from colorless sources, namely artifacts and lands. Black Lotus was too strong. Mana Prism and Standing Stones were awful, but the work moved on. I laid out three major avenues Wizards seemed to pursue to get the balance just right; artifacts that can only be used once, repeatable artifacts that required a cost (usually filters that turn one type of mana into another), and artifacts that placed conditions on the type or use of the mana they generated.


Let's start with the exception: Lion's Eye Diamond from the Mirage set. It almost looks like Lion's Eye Diamond was an attempt by the folks at Magic to tame Black Lotus. After all, lotus proved three mana was worth more than a single card. Lion's Eye Diamond took it to the next step; what if the cost of all that mana was every card? Lion's Eye Diamond was never a Black Lotus, but its "drawback" added a lot of fuel to graveyard-based dredge decks and keeps it in the just-under-$100 range in the secondary market these days. Until Lotus Bloom got it right in Time Spiral, it was also the final attempt at the three-mana-for-none-artifact.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Ebay Week 2


Sorry 'bout the sound levels. Trust me, it was a herculean effort just to get the shitty level this low.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Denver 5 Comics, 61-65

Denver 5 is an unillustrated comic strip about a group of dicks that are vaguely acquainted with one another because they are all endowed with metahuman abilities. Character descriptions are here.

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Comic 061
1. THE DENVER FACILITY CENTRAL CLASSROOM. It has two rows of four wide tables. Each table has a four seats and each row his higher than the next. At the front of the room are a large electronic "blackboard," a simple, wooden podium, and a table with a matte black top. Brown, zig-zag soundproofing covers the side of the room. There are single doors on either side of the front of the room and double doors on each side of the back wall. TYLER FOSS and THE SPIDER are entering the front right door with notebooks and pencils. You can see the entire front room of the class here and only The Spider and Tyler are visible.

TYLER FOSS
"Class? Really?"

2. Same shot, but Tyler is moving towards the front left table. Spider is trailing further behind, taking the room in.
TYLER FOSS
"This is way too early. I just woke up, like, five minutes ago."

3. Shot over Tyler's shoulder as he puts his books on the table. He's looking off to the left in surprise. This is probably the first shot which allows you to see the two back doors of the classroom.

TYLER FOSS
"I was up until two playing--"

THE SPIDER (OFF-PANEL)
"I've been up for 72 hours sraight."

4. POV is from Tyler. The Spider is sitting at the left table, second chair from the center aisle stairs. His posture is tight and focused, spine straight, feet on the floor. As much as possible, he's staring straight forward.
THE SPIDER
"In another 12, the hallucinations start."

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Search for Search

I use Google for a lot of my default web services. I am considering changing that though. Obviously, the biggest service is basic web searching. That's Google's bread and butter, but I've been a tiny bit dissatisfied with it lately. Let's go through why that is.

I love Pacific Rim and I've heard the soundtrack is really popular. I'm interested in it, so I'm going to google it.


That's pretty cool. Google contextually knows that most people looking for a soundtracks are looking to buy them or listen to them first, so it's giving me links to Amazon and YouTube videos. But I also want to make sure the soundtrack has a kick-ass picture on the front of the CD case, so I'll do an image search.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Layperson's History of Getting {U} from a Stone, Part 1

So, last week I talked about an artifact that let other artifacts made colored mana, on the condition that they had that color. There are over 100 artifacts that are colored (most of them White, Blue, and Black because colored artifacts were released as the mechanic for the white, blue, and black faction in Alara), so it's a workable niche.

I often research my designs so I can understand templating and power levels. I ended up looking at the interesting methods that lands and artifacts have used to give players mana throughout the history of Magic.

Hated as they are, these cards have seen more nerdboners than anything should ever have to.

The grandaddy of them wall was the Black Lotus. The Moxes were up there too. The theory behind the lotus, based on conjecture, is that it's only one-use, so it's not that bad. However, dropping a four-mana anything on turn one is a really big benefit. It might be a card advantage issue, where you're effectively discarding a card for three mana (even Dark Ritual makes you pay B for that), but it's still a bargain. I can't even begin to defend the moxes, which are basically lands you can play all at once that hate Nevinyrral's Disk and Shatter.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Ebay Week 01


I'll have the actual auctions up and linked later today.

Fun game: list the bits I did in one take and the ones I did in 2+ takes.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Sorry there's no blog up today. I was wicked-sick yesterday and I didn't have today's blog queued up.  It's a bit late now and I've got to spend the rest of my evening working on tomorrow's so, I'll just have to get it up next week.

How's your week going?

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

The Joys of Spellbook Ownership

So, I have this thing where I don't usually play D&D (or Pathfinder, which is D&D). It's not my thing, but whenever I do play D&D I often like to do it as a wizard. A specific wizard. The best wizard. Lucio Pavlec.

Now, Lucio is my go-to wizard because I kind of grok him better than most of my other characters. If this seems familiar, there's an older blog where I go on about him at length. I never know which particular version and level of D&D I'll be using Lucio in, so I've prepared an exhaustive, if not comprehensive, collection of them.

If you've played D&D before, you know that spells are kind of a big deal for wizards. Now, I like the plethora of D&D spells as much as any other reasonable human being but it's a constant struggle to keep up with what spells I have and what they do exactly.

Conventionally, a player would just copy-paste the spells from an online source and make a reference document. I did that, but then I realized I could take it a step further and found a parchment image from the internet. An hour's worth of working with Microsoft Office and a lifetime's worth of cursing later, I opted to just give my reference document a quadruple pass through the printer to make:


A spellbook. 

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Home by Ellie Goulding

A friend of mine just finished watching Deep Space Nine all the way through.

This is for you buddy. One clip from each episode.

Monday, August 05, 2013

It's the Magic: Hungry Eyes

So, last weekend, Jay Treat over at Goblin Artisans put up this Weekend Art Challenge. It was based around an image by keepwalking07. In case you can't/won't click over to see the image yourself, it's a massive silhouetted mecha standing amidst a ruined landscape.

Jay's challenge was to create a common or uncommon colored artifact based on that image. Bonus points were offered for a card whose color and status as an artifact were made more relevant by its rules text.

My first thought was to create a piece of equipment because it seems every submission I make to Goblin Artisans has the desperate, sweaty need to be recognized as a unique snowflake. Despite the fact that it came from TMI, the first set from the Deep-Seated Personal Issues block, I was relatively happy with the result:

Thursday, August 01, 2013

I Saw Pacific Rim and I Liked It

So I watched Pacific Rim and it was great and I loved it. I'm posting my initial reactions as the movie unfolded below. Sadly, because Pacific Rim was so utterly engrossing, this write-up is probably a bit less engrossing than the rest because I spent more time staring slack-jawed at the screen. Spoilers.
Not sure which part of USAF training is about flying into the enemy like a clumsy drunk.

I'd be surprised if most these suit sequences weren't practical effects. This shit is really lived in.

Huh. Knifehead. "You killed my brudder!"

Hell of a first fight. Surprised Knifehead died...or did he!? <He did.>

The jager could have IR or thermal vision, but they put floodlights on them. I wonder if there's a cutoff point for impractical mecha technology.