Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Kamikaze Credit Where Credit Is Due

Kamikaze from Serious Sam, c. 2001
With a new Serious Sam game being released, I thought I would pay homage to the first shooter I remember that had a suicidal bomber enemy that would run kamikaze at you... and it's not Serious Sam.

I really liked PC games from the mid-90's through the early 00's. I typically had a PC that could handle them too. It was Doom that convinced me to drop my Amiga and get a PC, and from there it was a non-stop shooters, RTS, and just about any other game I could find. I was present for the birth of hardware accelerated 3D, and it was good. Demos were plentiful too, and although high speed internet was much more rare than nowadays most computer magazines had a CD of demos tucked in the sleeve. (Remember those? Printed magazines?) In 2001, FPS games had gotten a little crazy in complexity and narrative. Everyone wanted to have Doom's success, but with more thinky. Along comes this out-of-nowhere development team, from Croatia of all places, with a fun, fast, mindless romp of an FPS called Serious Sam. It was universally loved. If you didn't love it, get out of my universe. Old Man Murray even interviewed its creator. Twice.

One of the many web-based reviews was going on and on and on about how great it was, and gushed on about how original the screaming kamikaze bombers of Serious Sam were, a new enemy never seen before. Immediately, I thought to another shooter I had played, MDK, which also had screaming kamikaze bombers. MDK was released in 1997 and it wasn't a big hit, so I suppose it was a forgivable oversight on the part of the reviewer. I decided to send a quick and friendly heads-up to the reviewer... something along the lines of:
Regarding your Serious Sam review, the kamikaze bombers are very cool but this isn't the absolute first time we've seen something like them. MDK had kamikaze enemies that ran at you holding a bomb over their head. Thanks for the great web site, etc, etc.
The one-line response from the reviewer was something like:
I don't remember anything like that in MDK.
 Well, that will teach me, won't it? He doesn't remember it, therefore we may imply that it didn't happen.

Fast forward ten years, and the Amazon App Store free download of the day is "Serious Sam Kamikaze Attack" and memories of this whole forgotten exchange flood back. What was the name of that game again? What web-site was that? I may not remember the web-site that had the review, but I was able to dredge up the name MDK and here is incontrovertible proof of the MDK bomber dudes existed, via the miracle of youtube (time 5:30-6:00 roughly.)

Ha! Take that, ten year old computer game review! 
Plus, you gotta admit... MDK was pretty amazing for its time.

The Escalating Hello Kitty Project

A woman I barely know at work has seen some of my miniature painting, since I sometimes paint at lunch. She had all the usual comments and questions for someone who doesn't know much about the hobby, but seemed to appreciate the work. About a month ago she asked me to paint something Hello Kitty for her daughter's birthday.  I assumed that she wanted me to personalize a toy by painting something on it. "Sure, whatever you need," I answered.

Do you see the problem with that offer? I didn't at the time. Next thing I know I'm not only painting three Hello Kitty figures, but sculpting them as well based on a page from a coloring book. Oh, and they are big. Here is a regular terminator for scale.
He has a 3++ save against cute.
In retrospect I should have corrected the issue immediately, but instead I just ran with it like I knew that was the plan the whole time. I didn't want her to feel like I had agreed to something and was backing out just because she and I didn't have a complete understanding of what I would be able to do well. This is really the first time I've sculpted something like this. After about 20 hours of work and several serious miss-steps, I was finally able to get them together and paint them (poorly) and am delivering them today. They are by no means sturdy, so I hope they survive transport. I was fairly happy with the little dance floors I made for them.

So, the take away here (which you would think I would already know in my line of work) is to define your scope and set expectations early.

Hmmmm.... maybe I'll use what I've learned to sculpt my own Teddy for Malifaux.....

My Strange Children and the Waffled Cheese Sandwich

I was home with my kids last weekend, and prep for lunch started. They clamored for grilled cheese, so I dug around in the drawer that houses our Salton sandwich maker. One of the kids spotted the waffle iron in that same drawer and suggested we make the sandwiches in the waffle iron instead. Hmmm. Strange idea, but why not?
Hey, that's not a waffle
It actually worked out pretty well. Once done, the bread had a distinctly waffle-like quality to it. The sandwiches were definitely a unique twist on plain old grilled cheese.
It's a waffled cheese sandwich!
Warning though... the bread and cheese left little burned spots on the waffle iron that came out as black dots in the next waffle I made. Next time I will definitely take more care to clean the waffle iron when I'm done.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Thing That Ate Nino

This was my Rotten Harvest entry in the "Things That Go Bump In The Night" category. Since the contest I have added a few rocks to the base, just to break up the sand texture a little.

The inspiration for this piece came from playing a game of Malifaux against a guild player using Nino Ortega. We put far too little terrain on the board, but as a new player I didn't know any better. All I remember was thinking, "Something had better eat him before he kills all my models." Behold that something.

The model is scratch built, sculpted initially from Fimo polymer clay around an aluminum foil core.

The Fimo / Sculpey version
After the Fimo was baked I used epoxy putty (green and gray) to sculpt on the features. To give the mouth some depth, teeth were sculpted on the model, and the lips were sculpted over them. Lots of watered down Milliput was used to get the body as smooth as possible but it still took a ton of sanding to get it even close to where I wanted. The little legs are based on an illustration I saw years and years ago from a book of Arthurian legend depicting a battle with a Wyrm with many short, taloned legs in a very centipede-like layout. I figure everything in Malifaux has to be at least obliquely referential to something else, right? I had intended them to lay more flat against the body, which probably would have looked better.

The original plan was to put him on a 50mm base, since that's the largest base used in Malifaux, and to have the hat sitting on the ground in front of him to suggest who the victim is. My hobby group convinced me to use a larger base to get my narrative across, which I appreciated. My stubborn insistence on using game appropriate bases limited my Space Marine vs. Howling Banshee diorama to 40mm, and for the life of me I don't know what I was thinking. After switching to the larger base size, my daughter saw the sculpted hat and declared that he should wear it. I resisted the idea for about 10 seconds until I saw the genius of it. "I ate you, and now I'm going to wear your hat." It reminded me of the very old Far Side cartoon of vultures eating some carrion, and one of them has a cowboy hat on doing his cowboy impersonation.

The translucent image of the victim was always part of the plan, but it didn't go quite as well as hoped. I'm not entirely sure what I should have done differently, but it could just as easily be an image on the outside of the stomach as the inside. Some people in the comments obviously got it, others did not.
Getting closer. Just needs his lunch painted in.
The cactus was an interesting challenge. Each lobe was sculpted separately, and the whole thing glued together with the tiniest of contact points. Touch the thing and it falls apart.

So there it is. My first fully sculpted and painted miniature. I'm pleased with it despite the flaws and lessons learned.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wyrd Rotten Harvest Entry - Ghost Girl

This started out as an entry for the "Harrowing Harvest" duel category, with Reaper's Clarissa painted as a ghost (using the water sculpted on the base as a sort of "spectral splash") facing off against an undead hunter, utilizing OSL. The two figures just never really popped on the base together, so I decided to use Clarissa on her own. Most of the critique mentions the disconnect between the base and the mini, and this is mostly due to me having painted the mini separately and gluing to the base later. I really should have gap filled better between the "splash" and the grave, but I really didn't notice how bad it was until looking at the photos later. Most of the time my angle of viewing during painting the base (directly overhead) obscured the disconnect.

I had considered adding a tree, some clumps of grass or similar to make the base look busier, but in the end just was running too low on time. The snake (which I will post later) was my main entry, and most of the time went to him, being fully sculpted. I'll probably add some more details, clean up the OSL in some spots and then post this to CMON.

At the end of voting, she got 3rd place in her category, with which I am very pleased. Kudos to my wife for suggesting the red eyes. The original eyes were yellow-green, and Stef knew that a little touch of complementing red would give the model a nice focus point. Was she ever right!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"Hako" Means "Absent" in Swahili

And I regularly live up to the name by fading away for a few weeks.

Rotten Harvest pics have been up for nearly a week. Today is probably the last day to vote, so if you are so inclined and already have an account on Wyrd's forum go take a gander. Do not create an account just to vote on stuff (specifically mine) because you'll potentially get the person disqualified for vote stacking. After the contest is over I'll post photos of my entries along with some WIP shots. I can't say I'm 100% pleased with any of my entries, but they aren't terrible overall. Only my accursed photography is terrible. Of the three entries only the ghost girl photos look halfway decent. The other two are so overexposed (is over-saturated the term?) that the qualities of the color are lost. The base on the snake looks completely yellow, much to my dismay.

So I suppose now I should start dragging myself back into life... answering my phone, returning emails, etc.

EDIT: Woo! Pulled off 3rd place in "Not Quite Dead Yet" with 21 votes for the ghost girl! I even managed to get 9 votes with the snake in his category, putting him in 5th place!

Friday, November 04, 2011

The Waiting Game

I've been waiting for the voting galleries to be open for Wyrd's Rotten Harvest. The deadline for submission was midnight on Halloween, and judging by the time it's taking to get the images anonymous and ready for comment/voting I'm guessing there are a lot of them. Some of us have been having some fun in the contest thread while we wait.

It reminds me of waiting on pins and needles a few years ago, just after my bronze Golden Demon. I eagerly awaited the White Dwarf issue showing off all the Chicago winners. For some reason, I was completely stoked by the idea of seeing something I had created appearing in glossy print, even if it was in GW's $7 advertisement magazine. After many months of waiting I mentioned how eager I was to my local GW store manager. "Oh, hey. I don't know how to tell you this, but Golden Demon coverage got discontinued this year. They're going to show all the Slayer Sword winners in one issue when all the Games Days are done, but that's it."

Hopefully this waiting won't be quite as disappointing.