Apr 302013
 

So we’re back from the Steampunk Symposium. It was a lot of fun and I got cool things and I tried Caraway chocolate and a whole lotta stuff happened.

 

What did NOT happen was the maiden voyage of the Radiant Vanguard.

There was a multitude of reasons, ranging from panel conflicts, to timing, to losing the engine for a weekend. But at the end of it all, it just didn’t happen. That’s alright, tho. It meant I actually got to look over the design of the other balloons and see what does and doesn’t work.

Case in point: Size. Our balloon was WAY too small after seeing all the competition.

 

I believe this was the largest balloon, but not by a whole lot

I believe this was the largest balloon, but not by a whole lot

That is the Nimbus, by the way. It was actually one of the better balloons in my opinion, mostly due to my next point.

Control:

True Facts: Balloons are hard to control. Even with the small engine we have, it’s a little unruly to pilot one of these things. The fans I have may not cut it for a more competitive design, but I’ll have to cross that expanse when I get to it.

So yeah, it was a learning exerience….also the races themselves were hilarious. There’s a lot of points, so I’m going to go down a list to make sure I get to everything.

  • Balloons are REALLY hard to control…and when they ARE controlled, they’re still pretty slow most of the time. It makes me realize why we have the modern designs that we do…well that and it takes less fuel to carry more people in jets than in balloons.
  • The first race (Between the Nimbus and the Omnipotence I) took a while with one of the balloons getting caught in a ceiling air vent. It was called the ‘mysterious vortex’ for the sake of being a little more ‘in character’.
  • Speaking of Airship Omnipotance (an Airship is a steampunk group, usually consisting of no less than 4 members, I believe.) They had four ships in the races. Omnipotence I, Omnipotence II, Apocalypse (Which had an interesting design with flapping dragonfly wings for propulsion), and Exodia. Ken mentioned that it didn’t fire ancient egyptian laser beams, so it was obviously not the same thing he remembered.
A veritable fleet!

A veritable fleet!

  • The next race was the Omnipotence II and the Hammerhead. I unfortunately was unable to get a picture of the hammerhead, as it appeared to be inebriated. That or it wanted next on King of the Monsters II, which I wouldn’t argue too much about.

One of the best arcade games around, IMO

  • Side note: There was this awesome game station with a steampunk set of controls like an arcade cabinet. It had centipede, King of the Monsters and all sorts of games. If I had thought better, I would have taken a picture to show you guys. I’ll be more diligent next time.
  • The next race was a very slow paced one that pointed out another design problem. Multiple balloons are hard as hell to control. The redesigned Radiant Vanguard is going to use a single, larger balloon as long as we can get one.
  • The final race, the Nimbus versus the Elenor Page, was a real interesting one. The Elenor Page was a much faster airship with a fan that moved on a plastic track along the bottom, making it really fast and fairly easy to adjust height. It was horrid at turning tho. Also the engine came off the track and almost took one of the spectators out, making it not a design I’d use.

So there you have it. It’s a short post, but I wanted to get this stuff down. I’m also totally not delaying on showing off the completed guns because I got an idea for one. No way, no how.

Apr 282013
 

Transcript:

Yami: Hello everyone. We’re here today with Chaos

Chaos: Hey

Yami: Why don’t you tell me a little about how you got started in Steampunk?

Chaos: Well, mostly you… I’d been interested in the, um, genre, but as far as actually wanting to go to Steampunk cons and sort of being immersed in it that’s mostly after I met you.

Yami: What are your biggest Steampunk influences?

Chaos: There was an old cartoon show called Big O, I don’t know if anyone actually remembers it, but, it had a giant steampunk robot.

Yami: Would you say you’re particularly interested in giant robots?

Chaos: You know, there is a– yes. I’m not going to do the joke where I simply say that there’s a slight chance, but, yes, I am. I mostly was into a lot more of anime stuff before I got into Steampunk.

Yami: Why don’t you tell us how you came up with the idea for the character of Lucas?

Chaos: Well, I originally came up with the character of Lucas because I remember, I believe… I want to say it was Romance of the Stone? It was an old — late 80’s, early 90’s — um, like, B movie. But the actual antagonists were these like, was this couple of pretty much business people who were just these almost amoral to the point of being funny. And I thought  well, I was trying to come up with some villains for a couple of um, roleplay games we were doing, and I thought  maybe I’ll go with someone who’s got more of a corporate angle. And it’s originally where I came up with the idea for Lucas.

Yami: So would you say Lucas is more of a villain character?

Chaos: Usually yes. I’m not– I haven’t really nailed down the character as far as this iteration as of yet, he’s probably not going to be exactly the, um, upstanding citizen, but he probably won’t be as, well, dark and manipulative as he usually is.

Yami: So you’re going for more of an anti-hero feel?

Chaos: Maybe not hero, but there’s definitely not a– maybe more anti-protagonist?

Yami: That’s an interesting new term. How do you see him relating with the other characters?

Chaos: Well, that would based be[sic] on what he had to gain from the particular interactions as well as what he could actually expect him to do when he actually gets the results he needs.

Yami: Were there any other interesting influences into Lucas’ character?

Chaos: There was actually the book that you had actually suggested that I read, which pretty much had– after I made the character, someone wrote a book about exactly that same character, and it’s like, ‘well that’s pretty much how that worked out’

Yami: Consultation with a Vampire?

Chaos: Yeah. And it was like, ‘oh, it’s a little short story. Oh, that’s exactly the character I made, like, two months ago. Oh, if only I could actually read books.’

Yami: Now, I understand from your blog column that you’re somewhat of an engineer?

Chaos: Well, somewhat, I’m still in school to be an engineer, so I guess I’m engineer-like?

Yami: Well, what drove you into engineering as a field?

Chaos: Um, mostly I’m very interested in being able to make things; most of the things that we’ll be seeing is… a lot of them, um, figures outside of being just interesting technology in general was, um, kind of an interest in prosthetics, seeing as how I’ve seen people have really interesting, um, prosthetics, and doing replaced limbs and I think that they work fairly well, so I’m kind of interested in being able to do.

Yami: Are you going to build us cyborgs?

Chaos: Not right now. Everyone keeps asking if I’m going to make cyborgs or, um, arms that shoot rockets. No. Maybe someday, but I have no idea how to even begin doing that kind of stuff.

Yami: Alright. So what sort of projects are you looking forward to doing?

Chaos: Well, there’s the airship, which actually now that I’ve started having some kind of idea how to make a gian– how to make an airship that flies around that I can actually control it’s going to be fairly interesting.

Yami: Cool. Anything else down the pipeline?

Chaos: Um, well there is one other thing, but I don’t want to talk about it yet, I actually want it to be somewhat of a surprise.

Yami: Alright, fair enough. If you had infinite time and resources, what would you build?

Chaos: Infinite time and resources… um… hmmm… a hovercraft.

Yami: A working hovercraft?

Chaos: It would be cool. A working hovercraft.

Yami: Alright. Now, before we wrap up, is there anything else you think our audience should know?

Chaos: I am really bad at talking about myself apparently.

Apr 212013
 

Let’s address the elephant in the room first: Chaos is black.

Technically I’m half-black myself, but I look white; Kaelas and Kendandra are both rather white. I decided I’d rather use Chaos’ race as a building block instead of ignoring it and just hand-waving that the character was ethnically British or ignoring that he’d be in the minority because “hey, steampunk, whatever”. Which isn’t to say there isn’t a level at which I just handwave things, but my personal preference is to go as far as I can with the information I have before I handwave things to make it more fun.

So. Black people generally tend to originate in Africa. (Fun fact: Chaos has recent Jamaican heritage.) A little research tells me that the British Empire spread primarily into Egypt (wrong phenotype for Chaos), West Africa, and South Africa. South Africa was on the trade route to India, meaning a lot of wealthy merchants passed through; since Lucas is the financial backer of our expedition, I wanted him to be wealthy, and the shipping empires of the British Empire seemed like the perfect backdrop for his owning airships. So I decided that his father was born in the Cape Colony (established 1652 as a resupply station for the Dutch East Indian Corporation and traded back and forth between Dutch and British rule several times), and that Lucas had inherited his wealth and company but was eager to grow the business.

It made financial sense for his headquarters to be in London; since Lucas, a pre-existing character, tends to be hands-on and controlling about his business (whatever the industry), it made logistical sense for him to live in London as well. While today, 13% of London’s population identifies as black, in 1841 the largest immigrant population were the Irish at 4%. Lucas is likely to be the only black person he knows.

Slavery in Great Britain is a fascinating topic for an American to research. For us, it’s taken as a given that you had slavery when you started and then became enlightened and gave it up. However, the Brits have a lot longer history than modern America does. Slavery existed when the Romans occupied the isles; it was abolished in 1102. In the 1550s, British merchants were selling slaves to the Americas, though few ever came to England properly. In the 18th century, slaves started being brought to England, but in 1701 it was decreed that a slave would be freed the moment he set foot in England. In 1729, though, it became legal again; it was re-abolished in 1834 by an act of parliament. In any case, the Britsh no longer hold with slavery in Lucas’ time, but slavery still exists and the image of black people as slaves or generally inferior is still something he has to struggle against. Add to that the fact that his father has a rags-to-riches story and you get the driving force behind Lucas Warren: ambition.

In short, Lucas is a wealthy merchant, a black man, and a man driven by a need to be respected and a strong ambition. His costume design is fairly common: the rich, elegant gentleman character that’s so easy to costume for 🙂 Essentials include a vest, a coat, and a cravat:

Chaos has expressed his desire for a cane and monocle as well, though sadly his glasses don’t allow for the latter.

One prop I’m particularly excited for is the calling card. During the Edwardian period, it was expected that when you called on someone and they were out you left a custom-made card if you were anyone of note. Business cards, then called “Trade cards”, go back even further to the 17th century in London, where they were a handy way to advertise and provide a map. I’m certain that, fashionable as he is, Lucas would always carry cards with him.

Apr 192013
 

As promised:

 

By the way, does anyone have a suggestion for a method of making giant camera-sized photos into internet friendly sizes besides using GIMP to load and import each one individually? Something that I could just point at a folder and smile would be very, very useful, particularly once I start coming back with more than a dozen or so usable photos.

 

And finally, Ken’s hit a bit of music block and won’t be posting this week so… listen to this instead:

 

You’ll note that Mal wears a dustier. Just saying.

 Posted by at 12:16 am
Apr 162013
 

So, new update. Tuesdays are now Fridays, so this post is not late in the least…yeah, I didn’t think anyone would buy that .

 

So hey everyone, as you all can tell, this post is not going up Friday and is instead in the regular Tuesday. As such, I’ll be doing a little bit of an extended post. As to why this didn’t go up Friday…well, we’ll get into that. First, I’ll start with the smaller build that’s going really well.

 

Gun Mods:


So the guns are coming along really well. We got some of the dollar store guns that almost anyone uses and some really good Krylon Fusion paint. It’s designed to stick to plastic and makes the job almost twice as easy than our previous work. After about 3 coats of paint, it looked like this:

Not seen: Really nice designs along the barrel of the gun

Not seen: Really nice designs along the barrel of the gun

See, now that’s a good improvement. A blank canvas upon which I’ll paint a masterpiece…or at least a more realistic look. And for that, we need Rub’n’Buff.

Newest tools of the trade.

Newest tools of the trade.

For those that don’t know: This stuff is a godsend for doing modding and getting a good metallic finish. It’s really easy to use, too. All you do is use your finger (I like the Q-tip approach for more precision.) to spread a thin layer over whatever surface you’re working with. After about 15-20 minutes of drying you can buff it with a soft cloth, getting you a finish like this:

Let's see spray paint do THAT!

Let’s see spray paint do THAT!

And this isn’t even complete! I love this stuff. Also helped that it was fairly cheap to get. I’m still waiting on the delivery of the other colors, so I can finish the second pistol as well as getting some leather to wrap around the handle of this one, so be sure to tune in next week when I show off the finished pistols for Bob and Richard.

…what do you mean, I’m leaving something out?

 

*sigh* Alright, fine. I’ve been told I shouldn’t just leave this out, so here ya go.

Airship:

So, I don’t like wood puzzles. They’re like regular puzzles except with more work and less reward.

Last I said, we had a working blimp engine and helium and we were all good to go. We just needed the ‘ship’ to put on the bottom of the balloon so we could do some test flights and fine-tune the steering. Well…turns out my first idea of ‘build ship from scratch’ wasn’t going to happen in the time frame. So we went to plan B:

Looks simple enough, right?

Looks simple enough, right?

So at this point, I have very little time to actually build it. I have a presentation on Thursday and I still have to get ready for a test…so that’s around the point where I said “Yeah, this isn’t going to get done” and put up my last post. The plan was that I’d do my presentation Thursday, complete the ship on Friday so I’d have a nice picture of the ship attached to a balloon and everything would be roses and fine wine.

Now, the astute of you would notice the “83 psc” in the corner. Well, the way the airship’s gonna work, I wouldn’t need the mast or sails and the rigging  could be used to get the boat attached to the balloon. Well…that was the plan, but I ran into a couple problems.

Problem #1: Why the FUCK don’t any of the pieces fit without having to sand the crap out of them!

I mean seriously! I mean, I could see if maybe one or two pieces weren’t cut exactly right so they’re a little too big, but almost 50% of this thing was a good 2-3 mm off. Sure, that doesn’t seem like a lot, but let me tell you it is. You have to sand those things, and the only sand paper I had was the little square they give you to smooth out the edges when you remove the wooden pieces out of the thin balsa wood sheets that these things are punched out on. Which meant I needed to sit there, sand a little bit off, and prey to any god that would hear that they didn’t break when I tried to put the piece back.

Yeah, this is just two out of the 5 sheets.

Yeah, this is just two out of the 5 sheets.

Problem #2: Christ, this shit is fragile as hell!

I understand that it’s balsa wood but EVERYTHING was fragile. There was at least 10 different times in punching the pieces out alone that I thought something would break irrevocably and we’d just have to hope it was for a part I didn’t need. Every moment of trying to put two pieces together was nerve-wrecking.

 

Despite these problems, I slowly got the boat together, having to stop every three or four pieces to sand the piece, sand the hole that it goes in, and pray nothing broke.

Yes, that paper in the bottom right corner is the instructions. No, they're not completely useful.

Yes, that paper in the bottom right corner is the instructions. No, they’re not completely useful.

So it goes…alright. I’m still fighting with the pieces, but it looks like a boat and I only have a few more pieces to put it. Mostly for effect.

90 minutes and 15 more curses against wood puzzles later.

90 minutes and 15 more curses against wood puzzles later.

And then it’s finished…well, mostly. The part I needed together is done and it looks like a boat and I don’t care that there’s parts still places, I don’t have to fucking deal with any of them anymore! So, of course, I try to get some string and attach one of the big helium balloons we have. Some of you might already know where this is going. For those that don’t, even balsa wood, when layered several times over to give the effect of a ‘hull’ can get a little heavy.

The above model is 12.5 oz, or about 430 grams.

The average balloon holds 14-15 liters of helium

The lifting power of helium is one gram of material per liter of gas.

This is the point in which I cried a little inside.

How I was supposed to feel when I finished the 'ship' part and got it to fly.

How I was supposed to feel.

So…yeah. Things too heavy. Even if I take out all the ‘aesthetic’ bits and just left it vaguely boat-shaped, it’s STILL too heavy. So Yami, in her infinite wisdom that I will constantly thank daily for wanting to marry me, spent about 15 minutes and found plan C, which is a papercraft boat that we’ll hang on for ornamental reasons. So yeah, that was most of Friday and a little bit of Sunday. On the plus side, the guns look great and the boat should be done by the next post so I can show it off. On the minus side, that was a day’s worth of work that I will never get back and I HATE wooden puzzles.

So tune in next time when there will be actual progress of a decent amount.

Apr 142013
 

First things, first- we had fun. When it comes down to it, that’s the biggest factor in deciding if the going was worth it so I’m glad we went to Shinboku 7. It was clearly a small, local Con, but it had all the good parts of being that as well as bad parts. Sure, there were only two panels in addition to the gaming and dealer rooms. But the lines were reasonable, the people friendly and the creepy-Shining/Bates-esque hotel aside, the environment was pretty good. Seriously though, when we got turned around and had to wander through the dorm area of the hotel, the place was creepy. All uneven walls and floors, patchwork wall colors and just dim enough to be strange. And the possessed elevator didn’t help either. Thing just cycled between floors two and three for about five minutes without opening the doors.  Anyway. The Con.

 

The other attendees were stand-up. We might have been lucky, but we didn’t run into a single rude (or unwashed) person. I would say just less than half the con-goers were dressed up and a lot of them were in really good costumes- aside from Yami’s back-up cat-girl outfit, we weren’t dressed up, I must admit. The highlight of the Con was the Cos-Play Parade- unfortunately, it opened late so the cos-players were kind of rushed through. This lead to a lack of posing, which in turn lead to… well, it’s a new camera, see, and I don’t keep know all the tricks of using and… the auto-focus is cursed, I swear.

Yeah, that's a bit blurry. Sorry. It's supposed to be Akita Neru.

Yeah, that’s a bit blurry. Sorry. It’s supposed to be Akita Neru.

But by the end of things, I’d figured out how to work the camera. More or less.

Got a Nyan Cat Anthro, a phenomenal GLaDOS anthro, Lightning and Hope from FF, and an old school White Mage.

Got a Nyan Cat Anthro, a phenomenal GLaDOS anthro, Lightning and Hope from FF, and an old school White Mage.

Poor Kendandra was absolutely torn between two of his favorites thanks to the GLaDOS and a lovely Rule64 Doctor-

They even have great props- sonic screwdriver, pocket watches, cake and lackeys.

They even have great props- sonic screwdriver, pocket watches, cake and lackeys.

Amusingly enough, Portal and Doctor Who were involved in the two best ‘Con-Moments’ as well. While wandering about the gaming demo room while waiting for a panel, we noticed that someone had a Portal gun and an inflated turret that you could pose with for pictures if you wanted. Yami and I instantly informed Kendandra he would be posing for pictures. Before I could get the camera turned back on, a little kid wandered up to Kendandra and politely asked what the gun was. Well. Ken, as we knew and none of you likely did, is a bit of a Portal fan. He’s also a fairly good mimic and has a head for quotes. Without missing a beat, Ken slips in the GLaDOS voice and gives the in-game explanation and instructions for using the Portal Gun, then solemnly offers it to the now even more confused child.

Underneath the privacy shield, the child looks very perplexed. Trust me.

Underneath the privacy shield, the child looks very perplexed. Trust me.

The Doctor Who related one was started by the Rule63 Tenth Doctor into an unlikely cross-over: a Pokemon theme song sing-a-long. Yeah, it was a bit strange. Awesome, but strange. I, alas, was mostly just staring and fumbling for my camera because I can barely remember the words to ‘Happy Birthday’ but still awesome.

 

 

All in all, the biggest problem with Shinboku Con is a lack of participants. The attendees were great, but few in number- particularly in regards to the various contests. There was only one group in the skit contest and Chaos was bemoaning the fact that he hadn’t found out about the various video game contests in time to enlist. According to him, he was pretty confident in his ability to have at least placed, if not won outright, given what he saw about the contestants.

 

So yeah. A good, solid Con that’s only real flaw was one that you can fix simply by attending and participating.  Best indication of how we liked it? We’ll be going back next year. I just hope the weather is cool enough to wear my duster that time too…

 

PS- a few more photos will be finding their way to a photo album on the website at some point.

 

 

 

 Posted by at 6:52 pm
Apr 142013
 

Kaelas apologizes for losing his train of thought so often. Yami apologizes for the sound quality.

Transcript:

Yami:  Hello everybody, today I’m  here with Kaelas.

Kaelas: Hello.

Yami: Why don’t you tell me how you got started with Steampunk?

Kaelas: Mostly you, like I had mentioned in my blog. I mean, I had read a couple of books that were steampunk-oriented, I had seen Wild Wild West, which is Hollywood steampunk, so you know, there was some interest in it previously. We went to OhayouCon [2012], we saw a few people there, we saw Aloysius [Fox, co-founder of the Steampunk Empire] at a panel, which was awesome, and things kind of snowballed from there.

Yami: What would you say is your biggest Steampunk influence?

Kaelas: Probably the Emporer’s Edge series [by Lindsay Buroker], it’s a pretty good one. It’s vaguely steampunkish, they kind of go towards clockwork stuff that’s powered by magic as opposed to steam, but the feel of it is there even if it doesn’t quite fit the definition.

Yami: How did you come up with the idea for Bob?

Kaelas: Um, Bob is a steampunk version (with a little bit of Wild Wild West [Clarification: he did not mean the movie here] thrown in) of an RP character who’s a little bit of a self-indulgence. It’s Clint Eastwood, it’s Rambo, Terminator, the stereotypical badass mercenary type. So I basically just move him into like what he would be having grown up in the West in a steampunk setting.

Yami: So, what sort of settings have you played him in before?

Kaelas: Amusingly enough, his biggest setting that he– well, his original setting that he was created for was actually a Western sci-fi, kind of a Firefly feel to it. He was a mercenary in that one; he’s also done a urban fantasy setting, um, so that one’s definitely not steampunk but the original did have a little bit of a steampunk feel thanks to the Firefly influence.

Yami: What would you say is the driving force behind your character?

Kaelas: Particularly this early, since he’s been reset to have no character development, right now, uh, he wants to do his job. He’s being paid by Lucas to keep him and his airship safe. He’s also– part of the the reason why he wants to do his job, to be the mercenary,to be the soldier, is, he wants to prove that his way of doing things that he can be this perfect soldier, there’s, you know he’s got that stereotypical tragic backstory, very overbearing domineering father. He definitely wants to prove that regardless of what happened to him, he can still be the perfect soldier.

Yami: Where do you see this character developing in the future?

Kaelas: That could go a lot of ways. In other incarnations he– one of the balancing factors for him is that he’s pretty mentally flawed. He has almost zero emotional understanding of people; he doesn’t really know how to react  in social situations, so one of his defense mechanisms is he’ll basically assign a person as his anchor, his social anchor, and just kind of go along with wahtever they tell him to do if he doesn’t have an answer for something. So a lot of that depends on who he ends up– I mean, presumably one of the three of the other crew members–

Yami: Or any of the honorary members who haven’t made characters, or something–

Kaelas: Yeah. So it pretty much how he’s gonna develop is gonna depend primarily on who he ends up associating with because he’ll start trying to follow that person socially.

Yami: I understand he has sort of a physical handicap of sorts?

Kaelas: Yes. The experimentation that I mentioned earlier [in a cut clip], his dad was trying to breed — or rather,[produce] Frankenstein-style — the perfect soldier — Dr Jekell would be more accurate. Ah, he was trying to create super soldier serum: better reflexes, no pain toler– er, complete pain tolerance. So when he was a kid, his dad fed him a bunch of beakers full of things. So at this point he’s basically in constant low-level amounts of pain but there’s nothing above that. So he also has an issue there that if his hand is on fire he might not notice. 

Yami: What caused you to pick this particular condition?

Kaelas: Um, to be honest I’m not entirely certain where my first idea on that one came from. I wanted to do the whole genetic experi– well, maybe not genetic experiment, but some kind of, you know, perfect soldier program that came out completely morally wrong, particularly in a moral sense: experimentation on kids, the original incarnation was basically tortured and had brain surgery to the point where he can’t distinguish pain anymore. I wanted something that was incredibly just wrong in so many ways and then still came out wrong, so now he’s just doing his own thing because it didn’t work.

Yami: Now, how do you see him interacting with the other party members?

Kaelas: Erika probably confuses him a lot.

Yami: She does that to everyone.

Kaelas: Yeah… yeah. Lucas is his boss; as far as he is concerned he is… Lucas isn’t even so much of a person as almost just a way of understanding what the universe’s rules are. Lucas, when he gives an order or something, as long as it’s within, ah, Bob’s understanding.. it’s almost like it’s a law of gravity. You just follow it because that’s the way the rules are. So Lucas almost isn’t even a person to him, just how the universe is expressing that the rules have changed. And then there’s the new pilot, he hasn’t really known him yet. He’ll probably look down on him a little bit because he’s just a soldier, and he’s not even a good soldier because he’s just a pilot, he can’t even shoot a gun properly — and by “properly” he means he can’t shoot someone in the eye at fifty paces. But…. Bob’s a bit of a gunslinger.

Yami: Now, we heard from Kendandra a few weeks ago that he sees Ricky as being a very straight man. Do you see Bob as being the Costello to his Abbot?

Kaelas: I would say yes except that most of the time Bob doesn’t realize that he’s doing it. He’s very funny because he doesn’t understand that the things he’s saying are going to be understood differently. So you know, Ricky will say something, Bob will make a reply that probably sounds like he’s making fun of Ricky but to Bob it was a perfectly logical question.

Yami: Okay

Kaelas: You know, ask him whatever comes to mind, his filter is not as intact as it should be, which is why in strange situations or in a formal setting he usually will just default to silence.

Yami: I see. Well, it looks like we’re running low on time, so is there anything else that you’d like our audience to know?

Kaelas: I love my duster.

Apr 122013
 

Kendandra here!

Okay.  First off, I’m not late.  It’s still Character Theme Thursday.  Though now that I’m actually working again, we’ll have to see how often I can keep these updates up.  If I can’t, feel free to make Character Theme Thursday into Taco Thursday.  If you don’t like tacos think of another T word.  I suppose sometimes people abbreviate Thursday with an R, so it could be Radical ThuRsday.  Or something.

Ahem, anyway.

Oh good ol’ Robert Owen.  What is there to say about Bob?  Not much, considering Yami beat me to the punch.  So thanks, Yami.  Basically Robert’s the muscle of the group.  He’s rude, crude, and full of attitude.  Let’s go down the list shall we?

Ridiculously skilled?  Check.  Gruff?  Check.  Questionable morals?  Check.  Tough as nails?  Double check.  Tormented past?  Check.  Funny Hat?  Check.

Yeah.  Not many other people fit that list.  Batman is one of them.  Jayne from Firefly is another.  So Robert is a gun-toting Batman.  Or Jayne from Firefly.  Oh, or Jayne is Batman.  Oh.  Yeah.  That’s head-cannon now.

Ahem, anyway.

When I started doing these themes, for the most part I had little in my head (like always) except for a few instrument collections.  Bob’s was acoustic guitars and no drums.  I want to avoid having any “true drums” in there (there will probably be a few percussion tracks, like a woodblock.  You know, something sporty.).  With that in mind I set out to lay down a rough melody and harmony.  So here’s a demo.

Now normally I record a MIDI track and then spruce it up a bit before releasing it to you, single reader of this blog.  However this theme’s main attraction is the guitars and I’ve yet to find a satisfying guitar sample in Fruityloops.  Which, quite frankly, is odd.  I was, however, marginally happy with the guitar sounds Privia makes.

[Oh yeah, I got a new keyboard to celebrate my return to the working world, that’s important, I should have mentioned that first.  Perhaps I’ll cover Privia (keyboard) and Samick (piano) in a different post sometime.  And yes.  Those are their first names.]

Ahem, anyway.

So I set out on the arduous task of trying to capture audio from Privia to my computer.  So obviously my first thought was that I could just place a mic against Privia’s speakers.  Then I noticed Privia has speakers.  Plural.  And it balances the stereoscopic sound between the high and low ends of the instrument.  Which is amazing.  If I wasn’t recording sound.  Clearly that wasn’t going to work.  So I got clever.

I took a quick stroll out to my car and grabbed a male-male headphone cable (that I use to pipe my phone audio to my car stereo).  I hooked it up to the back of Privia and straight into the mic jack on my computer.  I had to spend like… forever balancing the levels between the two to get a decent sound.  Then I realized something.  With the audio going to my computer, I couldn’t hear what I was playing.  So I had to Beethoven it.  The final recording has a lot of noise that I couldn’t remove because Fruityloops’s built-in recorder is… gah.  For a music composing software it… just… GHAH….  You would think that… bah! <Incomprehensible garble of frustrated noises>

The original theme I had it my head was much faster than what I recorded for the demo, but it works well enough.  The more I listen to it the more I only like the third part of the song (which is the chunk stolen from Ricky, if you’re wondering).  Before I scrap the other parts though I’m going to see what I can get out of some refinements:  cleaning up note placement and duration, and fixing the velocity of the strumming part.  It should have a more punctuated beat, something Privia couldn’t convey well enough.  Though to be fair, Six-Trak couldn’t convey it at all.

Ahem, anyway.

That’s all for today lads and lasses.  Next time, I’ll have a small excerpt of Lucas’s theme.

–Kendandra, we’re done here.

Apr 112013
 

It’s not a steampunk Con but we figured we’d let you all know we’d be heading to Ramada of Elyria, Ohio, for Shinboku Con 7.  It’s billed as an Anime and Role-Playing convention, hosted by the Lorain County Community College Role Players Association and Anime Society, the Shinboku Con Committee and the Lorain County Community College Role Players Association. It’s a smaller Con but it’s also less than an hour away and only ten bucks for a day-pass so we figured why not? If nothing else, it’ll give me a chance to try and figure out how I want to do this whole ‘reporting’ thing.  Hoping to get a cheap digital camera before we go, otherwise I’ll be, ahem, borrowing Yami and Chaos’ smartphones to take some pictures. Hmmm. Not much else to say, other than to thank a certain local Jo-Anne’s employee for the tip on Shinboku in the first place. Oh, and here’s a link to their website for those in the area that might be bored on April 12 – 14 2013.

 

http://www.shinbokucon.com/index.html

 

Everyone enjoy your weekend, whatever you find yourself doing. And get a duster. They’re awesome.

 Posted by at 5:46 pm
Apr 092013
 

Hey everyone. I thought I’d be able to make it through without having to do this, but I’m going to need to delay this weeks post till friday. Mostly because of large tests and due dates looming. Fear not, progress has been made and you’ll all be able to see the first of the modded guns almost completed as well as the ‘ship’ of our airship.

In the meantime, I’d like to get some feedback on a future build. I’m planning a few more sciencey weapon mods and I need a fluid that will hold shiny particles in it that’s opaque enough to still be seen. Anyone got a better idea than just dish soap and glitter?