Thursday, January 28, 2010

DnD, Art: Custom Player Icons for My Wave RPG

I've been running a D&D campaign on Google Wave (NMP wRPG 1 - check us out!) for a little while now. There are a couple of cool plug-ins ('gadgets' in Wave terminology) to enhance the experience. The two I rely on are a dice-roller and a battlemap interface called Fighty, which basically takes an uploaded map and puts it into a Google Map interface that can be interacted with in Google Wave.

Fighty made the encounter possible, but things got a bit confusing since there was only one icon available to use for all the PC's and enemies. Then, an enterprising user took Fighty and added some really cool features like uploadable custom icons, different icon sizes, and polygons (which are great for showing auras). This upgraded gadget was called Fighty+, but the additions are supposed to be pushed back into Fighty, if they haven't already been.

The challenge, then, became to find some icons that were attractive and accurate in their representation of the PC's in our game. Alas, the ones that were attractive were not accurate, and the ones that were accurate were not attractive. So I decided to make my own:

Listed in the numbered order presented above are:
  1. Theren - Elf Ranger
  2. Shyaan Kin - Dwarf Cleric
  3. Zelt - Human Druid
  4. Lun'ka - Kobold Warlock
  5. Lii-Ug - Dragonborn Paladin
  6. Akalia - Dragonborn Bard
I used a couple of the SD sprites from the PSP version of Final Fantasy as a basis for the style and anatomical proportions, scaled them down to 30 x 30 pixels which Fighty (Google Maps?) uses for its icons and then painted over them in Photoshop. I tried to be accurate in the weapons and armor presented, but also use the colors that the players identify themselves with in the wave.

Future plans for the campaign include an entry on Obsidian Portal, whenever I get around to it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

DnD, Art: Card Game Preview - Knight

Okay, I'm really excited and just a tad paranoid to be sharing this. Here is the first image from a card game I'm developing. Unfortunately, I can't really say too much about it until things are a bit closer to completion.

By the way, if anyone has any experience with print-on-demand (POD) services - particularly involving board and card games - I'd really like to hear about it. So far, my Google-fu has turned up two likely candidates: Guild of Blades, which has (I think) been around for a while; and what appears to be a newer site, The Game Crafter, which has the added benefit of actually selling the game once it's finished.

Monday, January 18, 2010

DnD: Lava Dungeon Tiles

I whipped these up for Newbie DM after a comment he made about a lack of lava-based tiles. Just print these off, then cut and assemble the stone tiles so the non-elementals will have something to stand on. Borders are provided to give a slightly more natural transition between safety and instant death.

They are 300 dpi print-quality. The squares are the standard 1" that Dungeon Tiles use, so they'll work with your minis.

Get the images here (5.7 MB .zip, Medifire)

Feedback and suggestions on other useful sets/textures are welcome.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Early Riser: Day 1 - The Best Laid Plans . . .

It's not going to work. And not for the reason you might think.

Here's how things played out:

10:00 pm: Head upstairs, brush teeth; spend about 30 minutes reading Seige #1/admiring Copiel's art
10:45 pm - 12:30 am: Drift in and out of sleep (nervous about getting up early?)
5:30 - 6:00 am: Got up at the radio alarm - no problems here; head downstairs to work out
6:00 - 6:30 am: Nice hot shower, brush teeth, get half-dressed
6:30 - 7:00 am: the kids are awake and want attention; I get their breakfast
7:00-7:30 am: Wife gets up, grabs her shower; I finish getting dressed and shave (a mid-week rarity under normal circumstances)

7:30 - 7:45 am: Grab stuff for lunch, hug wife & kids, leave for work

I was already a firm believer - and have now been convinced entirely - that if a person hopes to be a creative professional, any progress they have not taken towards that life goal becomes exponentially harder once you have kids.

Reflecting on the morning's events, I have come to believe that, while the exercise and waking up at a pre-determined time are beneficial, the 6:30 - 7:30 am hour is probably not going to work as my Golden Hour. Being more naturally inclined to the evening hours, perhaps I could shift things a half hour toward the evening, making a revised schedule look more like:

6:00 - 6:30 am: Wake up, work out
6:30 - 7:00 am: Shower, get dressed
7:00 - 7:30 am: Help get kids ready while wife gets ready for work
7:30 - 7:45 am: Pack lunch and leave for work
8:00 am - 5:00 pm: Work
5:15 - 8:00 pm: Dinner & family time, get kids in bed
8:00 - 9:30 pm: Freelance & personal projects (TV okay)
9:30 - 10:29 pm: Dedicated art time (limit TV, none after 10:00); will have to learn to listen to The Office, and not simply sit there watching it (Shame it doesn't come on before Parks & Rec. - bleh)
10:30 pm: Bedtime

If you're wondering why I'm keeping the amount of time spent sleeping to around 7.5 hours (and why wouldn't you?), it all has to do with sleep cycles. A complete sleep cycle - one that involves all 5 stages of sleep - takes an average of 90 to 110 minutes for an adult. What I've been doing for a while now is calculating the amount of sleep I need/get in 90 minute intervals.

So we'll try this evening and tomorrow morning using the revised schedule and see how that plays out. Hopefully it won't take too much tweaking to hit on a rhythm for maximum productivity & creativity.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Misc: In Pursuit of Creativity and Productivity

Okay, first of, this is NOT a New Year's resolution. I've been reading various and sundry articles and blog postings about managing life and being focused and staying creative - enough to know it's a sign.

I'm going to attempt a moderate shift in my lifestyle.

The goal is to see if a few extra hours at the beginning of the day are better for productivity and creativity than those last few extra late hours I always seem to spend staring blankly at the monitor or flipping through the few channels we get, disgusted at the lack of interesting programs.

My current average routine looks something like this:
  • 7:15-30 am: Reluctantly get up, slowly help get the kids dressed, get a shower, go to work
  • 8:05 - 8:15 am: Arrive at work (I'm supposed to be there at 8:00)
  • Work 'till 5:00 pm - not much I can do here
  • 5:15 pm: Arrive home (5:30 if I stop at the game store, 6:00 if I go to the comic book store), eat dinner with the family
  • 6:00 - 7:00 pm: Kids run wild, usually try to get a load of dishes, pick up toys; sometimes we'll go out to eat or need to pick up something from the store
  • 7:15-30 pm: Get kids ready for bed, tuck 'em in (occasionally they'll be up 'till 8, rarely later)
  • 7:30-10:00: Wife and usually I do personal stuff - pay bills, freelance work, paint 40K, WiiFit, Facebook (her, not me), sometimes art - often on the couch while watching TV together
  • 10:00-???: I continue to work on personal stuff and/or play games while the wife goes to bed. If I don't build up some momentum on a project by this point, it's hopeless and I'll turn to video games. Nothing worthwhile on TV at this point.
  • 12:00 am: Bedtime, usually - not unusual for it to be later.
Here is the proposed change:
  • 5:30 am: Wake up, go downstairs and do WiiFit for 30 min. (seriously)
  • 6:00 am: Shower, get dressed for work
  • 6:30 am: Dedicated art time - probably start out doing digital speedpaints - go from there
  • 7:00 am: Kids are up, getting them ready for school, wife gets ready for work - I may find a little extra personal time once they're out the door - but I definitely need to be on the road no later than 7:45 am
  • 8:00 am - 9:59 pm: Keep it the same for now, maybe try to structure evenings better
  • 10:00 pm: Bedtime, no if's, and's, or but's
Possible issues:
  • Coordinating new routine with the wife's-get-up-and-shower time
  • Making sure not to snack or have caffeine after . . . 7:00 pm (?). Don't wanna be lying awake after 10 pm.
  • May need some additional structuring after the kids are in bed.
  • Getting up and going to bed the first couple of days is going to be a challenge.
One of the tips I picked up somewhere had to do with stating your intent - making it public. The idea is that once it's out there, a person is more inclined to stick with it.

So congratulations, you've just been incorporated into my scheme to become more creative and productive.

Ultimately, I hope that this will lead to more posts on here. But let's just take it one day at a time, okay?