Tag Archive for dragonwall

Transhumanism and Falling Stars

This post is basically the result of some #CommuteThoughts.  It’s like Shower Thoughts, but it happens in the car when you’re not thinking of things like what to have for supper, or why the idiot in front of you can’t drive.

Recently I finished watching through the end of Season 4 of Babylon 5, and I was always fond of “Deconstruction of Falling Stars” – the season ending.  It would have made a decent series ending as well, if it had come to it(though I know they did already film “Sleeping in Light” in case it had been needed).

First, the ending scene with the sun going nova was supposedly only one million years later.  For that to happen that fast, something serious had to happen, and there was undoubtedly some sort of story there, even if it was never told.

Second, I like the fact that the guy who’s watching all the clips enters a very Vorlon-like encounter suit, but this one has a human shape despite some minor Vorlon stylings.  Given that fact, it makes you wonder if the Vorlon actually used to look like their suit before they went all energy-like-being on the universe.

Still, it brings up a point – not jsut in B5, but in most sci-fi, the more advanced races tend to turn into beings that appear to be pure energy, however little sense it makes.  It’s often framed in the device of evolution, of moving to a greater purpose.

Evolution is not that however – it is simply adaptations to new environments, and so on.  Turning into energy isn’t exactly a mutation that would happen in nature on its ownIt could make some kind of sense as an adaptation to space, but even then, stepping across that boundary and somehow allowing pure energy to exist as a cohesive organized whole is not something we see regularly in nature.

There is undeniably a spiritual underlaying to it as well.  The idea of the soul made manifest, leaving the flesh behind and expressing itself in its purest form.  These races are so advanced they do not need flesh to exist, and are able to manifest as pure soul. It is one way to look at it.

Another way however, if one were to take that destination shown in B5 as fact, is that it’s an expression of transhumanism, just taking a lot longer than some folks would wish.  Rather than some blind evolution or transformation imposed by nature and mutations, it’s a conscious choice made by a sapient species, leaving behind the restrictions of flesh to interact directly with existence.  No more need for hunger, sleep, or other biological functions(though some might still experience them as a matter of choice – after all, he did look like a normal human until we went to enter the suit).

The explosion of people questioning and challenging their own identity shows we are already starting to turn that direction – questioning what is human, and choosing our forms as much as we can, rather than letting them choose us.  A lot of folk do not understand this and deride it, or take it to extremes to strawman it.  There’s an element of humanity’s tribal tendencies as well, the “us vs them” and the driving out of those who do not fit the mold.

One example I came across recently was someone afraid that the new Star Trek series was going to be an over-the-top agenda-pushing show(ignoring the fact that Star Trek ahs always been about morality plays and “liberal” ideas since the beginning).  His example was that Picard would have come out as this multi-feathered tri-sexed impossible creature and all the “tumblrinas” would congratulate him on it.

Looking at it, I already see two concepts here that seem to be what really is pissing the guy off, or at least what he doesn’t understand(or even try to) and thus fears and mocks.

First, there’s an unspoken implication given the reference to “tumblrinas” that this is a way of saying “I’m better than you.”  Because he is not accepting the identity he was born with and selecting(either consciously, unconsciously, or spiritually) a more fitting self, and then parading it around, the troll, for lack of a better word, feels inferior because he is still the same, plain ordinary human, as much as anyone made of starstuff can be.

To be fair, there is a segment of folks out there who do view that their differing identity makes them superior to the common man.  THIS IS FALSE. A dragonkin’s life is as valuable as the family in Kentucky living out of a rusty RV and making a living skinning deer while cursing “dem immigrants” as evil.  It’s all life, and it is not what you are that makes you great, but how you live and treat your common sapients.  That does not mean that if they threaten to kill you you shouldn’t fight back, or that you have to tolerate their ideology, but it is the ideology that makes the difference, not the fact that one sees their true self as having scales and the other doesn’t see beyond the inside of the next beer can.

Which brings us to the second point I’ve seen personally, and by that I mean in-person: not understanding the questioning of self.

There is a person I know in meatspace that does not understand the point of transexuals. He’s fairly conservative, and has kids, so he’s particularly sensitive to the false depictions of perversion that certain parts of the media will revel in. He’s a great guy, but doesn’t seem to understand how one can question their identity.

To get more specific, I happen to sit outside his office so I overhear conversations all the time, and one that struck me was him and one of our more liberal-minded staff talking about the whole bathroom issue.  From there, it somehow came across the idea of white people considering themselves black, and that being equally as valid.  While I don’t remember the details, the impression I came away with is that he was very much seeing it as “what you are is what the world made you” and inability to accept that just did not make sense to him at all.

I think that’s the second route to these sorts of misunderstandings – the people in question do not grasp how identity can be a choice.  They think that when you draw your hand in life, it is wrong to call a mulligan and redraw.  In the previous skin-related example, maybe the theoretical skin-changer just feels more attractive that way, or is much more comfortable in the culture associated with that image – much as the way furry identity will tend to drift towards the animal that symbolically resonates with you the best.

(Side note: I have not brought up transhumanism with this guy yet, but plan to at some point, just to see how he responds to that idea.)

Now, that all said, to bring it back around I wouldn’t see Star Trek pulling that kind of thing.  First, Picard the character seems rather satisfied with the identity of what he is.  With holodeck technology and especially post-Voyager(for holoemitters) anyone would be able to more directly become anything they wish, at least part of the time.  Also, in Star Trek most of these sorts of things are not flaunted, but just accepted as they are.  A character does not come out as gay as some big event, they just happen to like men and approach them just as easily as a straight man might ask out a woman on a date. (which, for some, isn’t very easy!)

It all comes back to an inability to understand that leads to fear, and feelings of inferiority, due to the same or to some bad eggs that do try to cast others as inferior for not questioning themselves.

 

On one other note, coming back to the original topic of Babylon 5, what really is the point of organic technology?  The few times we see it in the series, it’s cast as this almost mystical ubertech that seems like it is the solution to everything.  But what have we actually seen or heard it do that makes it superior in any way to normal tech?

The biggest advantages depicted seem to be growth, self-repair, and self-direction.  Everything else is just a symptom of the big “black box” hiding the inner workings by throwing their hands up and declaring it was because it’s so incredibly advanced it’s not understandable(which, to be fair, can be a valid point too).

Self-direction can be accomplished by a sufficiently advanced AI, which does not rely on anything organic, so I’m going to set it aside for now.

Growth and self-repair on the other hand are basically two sides of the same coin.  Rather than replacing a burnt out circuit board, the ship could simply regrow the connections much as we regrow a cut in our skin.  Feed it the right materials and it can grow from a tiny starting point into a massively complicated machine – after all, in a way we’re just biological machines!

You could accomplish the same results with self-replicating nanomachines.  Actually, in a  sense, that’s what the cells that make us up are.  Still, it does not require what we would think of as organic to reproduce the same ideas and results.  Somewhere out there could be beings of pure nanomachines, created by a now-dead race.  Life just like ours, but with tiny specialized artificial machines replacing the naturally-created specialized cells constructing our bodies.  And rather than exchanging DNA, they could combine programming code, do a diff-merge, and produce new life from the new codebase introduced into their nanomachines.

Unless by organic technology you mean technology that acts like life does, not technology that works from the same cells etc that we do.  Then maybe you could say they did have a point.

Then again, food labeling itself as organic suggests that other food is inorganic, and I don’t see pasta as being made out of rock!

Future Imperfect – Virtual Transhumanism

So I was talking with a co-worker during some downtime recently, and the speculation it led to was quite interesting I feel.  It started with discussing how we’re in the future already that was talked about back in the 80s and 90s, but we just don’t recognize it(which is a topic I plan to go into seperately), and ended up with some discussion on how things may look in the near future, if we take current trends and run them out to a possible logical conclusion.

To start off with, let’s take a look at Shadowrun – take away the magic and D&D aspects, and it’s fairly standard cyberpunk.  In the original version, the Matrix was this world in virtual reality – VR and you could look like anything you wanted there.  Think Second Life, but with a full body VR, usually via direct neural interface.

As we worked on that tech in the real world, pure VR fell more to the side, partly due to the challenges of such tech versus the demand for such.  Instead, what grew up was a compromise; augmented reality.  Products like Google Glass and the holodisplay that Microsoft has demonstrated mix the virtual right over top of the real.  There are even games using similar tech now, such as the upcoming Pokemon Go.

As the developers of the Shadowrun system and universe updated it, they had to work in modern developments that were not expected back when it was created, such as AR and wireless, that people today might take for granted or see as near-future, and they had to do it in a way that made sense in-universe.  Thus came the wireless Matrix being available anywhere, after a fashion, and overlaid on the real world via AR to interact with.

Well, jumping off that idea, with AR you can overlay images to change how something looks.  What this means, is that fashion may take a sudden dive to the left, as the clothes no longer matter.

For purposes of this thought experiment, let’s assume that computational power is not an issue – cloud computing, etc tied into your visor/glasses/monocle/implants.  In much the same way that the studio was able to replace Arnold or his double in the later Terminator movie with his younger self, in AR your device could edit out a person’s appearance and modify it in real-time. Want some expensive, fancy clothes, but without risk of damaging or soiling them?  Let AR overwrite them onto your body for anyone tied into the network who looks at you.

The fashion world would be rocked, but adapt, and clothes would lose most of their appearance aspects.  Instead of wearing something to look good, you’d wear(or not wear) what was comfortable and affordable.  Most instances of clothes would become drab and utilitarian, while to the everyday folks they would be surrounded by a cavalcade of color and whimsy, full of outfits that are not physically possible.  In warmer weather, to a person not tied into the AR network, it might even seem as if he or she had walked into a nudist colony!

The capability does not stop there, however.  If clothes can be overlaid, so can full appearances.  While flying may not be possible on a personal level, you might end up with a scene looking like a high-resolution realistic Second Life, as the only limits would be those set by the system.  Furries, otherkin, cosplayers, and many others would be drooling over such a capability to truly become their character, or their true self, depending on perspective.

There would have to be limits of course, as their physical bodies still exist, so likely there would be few taurs or other four-leggers running around, or tinies or macro beings for that matter. That aside, on one level this would appear to be a gateway to transhumanism – to become more than human.  Setting aside any social stigma such as exists now for furries and others of a kindred nature, you could be walking down a street and pass a wolf, a faerie, a sumo wrestler, just to enter McDonalds and be served by a tigress whose outfit barely covers her and a robot with visible gears and pistons. People could effectively be anything humanoid they wanted to be.

On the other hand, it’s all virtual.  Turn off the implant, take off the glasses, and you’ll find the boring, mundane, drab grey world still exists behind the glitzy facade, much like Las Vegas.  For some, that may be enough, and with less push behind it from the semi-human quarter, progress and research in that direction may slow or even halt entirely in some aspects.

With less need to take care of themselves physically, there may be increased health issues as well, though possibly less than some would think, as smell is not included in our little thought experiment.  Sound could be, however, providing voice-changers to all and sundry.

This idea however I could easily see being reachable in our lifetime, given the strides networking, parallel processing, and cloud computing has made in the past decade.  Safely gene-splicing to phsycially modify our bodies is much, much further away, I feel.  But with being able to gain the “perfect” body via AR, whatever your definition of perfect, may dis-incentivize  research into actually gaining that body, which may push the end result out even farther.  Then again, there’s no reason that VR couldn’t take off again, allowing people to move in VR and interact with people in the real world via AR, while in the comfort of their home, or maybe even in a computer if anyone manages to solve the problem of how to upload our minds and souls into our creations.

I guess overall I see it as a blind alley that we could easily head into. There may be a door that leads us to someplace unexpected, or we may end up having to turn around and start from zero once more.  Then again, the rumored singularity may happen and we just hop the alley wall into the unknown.

“You can’t always get what you want.
But if you try sometime…
You just might find…
That you get what you need~”

My Two Cents on Dollars

So, first post I’ve written on my tablet, but bed’s too comfy to leave and I got thoughts to chew on before I go to sleep.

It started by thinking about my current “entertainment” budget, then recalling how some friends of mine were scraping by, and how they think about money, and then how I treat money and what I’d found out recently about where I stand.

Maybe it’s best if I start with my situation.  My current job is salaried, and I honestly probably pay less attention to the amount than I should.  For example, there’s a bonus program going on for completing some training that we need to do anyways, but it had to be done on our own time.  I wanted to do it because it needed to be done anyways, and I had some art in mind I wanted to spend it on, but I almost missed the deadline because the money wasn’t that important – and it was half of a single paycheck in total!

Currently my life us fairly comfortable, though not extravagent.  Thanks to my current arrangements, bills are mostly covered, so most of my paychecks go into savings.  These are relatively temporary arrangenents though, so I still treat that money as if it was already spent, and ignore the total amount sitting in savings unless I need to move money. This keeps me from getting used to overspending and having issues later due to that.

My perspective on money is informed by this treatment of pay as well.  I still feel $200 is a lot to spend on anything, and spending $100-ish on single optional purchases still makes me internally cringe a bit. When I’m  using anything that’s triple digits in price, I usually go over it several times before pressing “buy.”  I still try to pay cash for most small offline purchases even!

Well I was looking at some statistics the other day about salary ranges and was surprised at the ranges.  I had thought I was in the lower-middle class range, but apparently I’m solidly middle class?  My dad before retirement was actually upper-middle, but it never felt like it growing up.  We never really lived like it either.

My friends on the other hand are in a worse situation, though it’s partly of their own making – they have too many dogs and cats to feed and care for, and at least one of them doesn’t really want to get rid of any.  They’be got 4 dogs, 9 cats I can think of, plus 2 more kittens, and then 4-6 people, depending on if either of those last two are covering their own stuff or not.

They’re basically running off two incomes at the moment, with a third partially contributing via rent. Money is tight, and even $3 can seem like a lot at times I think.  They still manage to squeeze in some “entertainment” purchases, it doesn’t feel like they really budget well in advance.  They’re basically going paycheck-to-paycheck right now from my perspective.

Now I’m wondering if I should see if I can help with some electronic budgeting.  At a basic level anyways.

Now I’m not sure where I was going with this.  I try to treat money as if I don’t have it, track my monthly spending on “toys,” balk at big purchases, but a meal out every now and then or an occasional $3-$10 purchase doesn’t seem excessive.  My dad on the other hand will buy a 6-month sub to an MMO he hasn’t even tried yet and think nothing of it.  I’ve got a co-worker who has been subbed to WoW since Vanilla, even though he hasn’t played in years.  And then for the people I mentioned earlier even a month of WoW is a significant cost.

When you don’t have it, money is precious.  If you have a lot and start to use it, your mental scale for what is and isn’t expensive can change, which can then lead to trouble later if your supply dries up, which I guess is all about lifestyle.  Find the lowest lifestyle you’re comfortable at, then put all the extra away in case you ever actually need it. Even if you don’t follow a hard budget, at least track it so you can catch yourself if you start overspending.  At least, that’s what I’m trying to do.

After all, there’s two tips I’ve heard in the past. First, is that to have a comfortable retirement, you want to have around one million in the bank these days.  With inflation that will only go up.

Second, is that you want to aim for putting about half your post-tax paycheck into savings.  Right now that’she not a concern for me, but once my circumstances change as I expect them to, I’ll be using that as one of my budgeting guidelines to aim for.

It just feels odd that despite having the lowest need to be responsible with budgeting currently of those I’ve discussed, I seem to be being the most responsible.  And yet, I still seem to care less about it than others.

Speaking about being responsible, one last tip: credit cards shouldn’t be used as small change loan sharks, but as condoms for your wallet.  If you don’t spend more than you have and pay it off in full, it’s no different than a debit card in convienience.  However, if someone steals you debit card number, that money is gone until you convince the bank to reimburse you.  If they steal a CC number, you still have all your money while you work with the bank to cancel the fraudulent charges.  Finally, if you don’t pay it off, interest rates can lead to you digging a hole for yourself that you can’t get out of. I was headed that direction once, but used my current money-handling methodology to free myself from that trap.

Don’t really have anything else to add to this rambling now I guess, so I’ll call it here and see if I can actually get some sleep now!

All we need is time, time, time…. time is all we need

So I’ve been trying to get this written for the past several days, but kept pushing it back since I didn’t have enough time with all the other things going on.  It seems to be something you can only ever have too little of or too much of; and once it’s spent, it’s gone.  All sales are final, no refunds or exchanges allowed.  As we only have a finite amount of time in this existence, that’s why we have to decide on what we actually want to spend it on.  Thus, the concept of opportunity cost and so on.

While I didn’t plan this to be my original topic, I actually think this might be worth further expounding on a bit, as it leads into what I was originally wanting to talk about.

Basically, opportunity cost is something people will tend to ignore quite a bit, especially in MMO games, and almost certainly in F2P/microtransaction-based ones.  Heck, I’ve done it myself in WoW.

The Auction House in WoW is a living example of this.  I used to play the auction house for a while, and I know when I crafted something and tried to sell it I usually compared it to the cost of the mats when pricing things.  If it went below the cost of the mats, I sold the mats instead.  There are enough people out there that do not do this however that sellers have complained for ages.

You see, for some people, they might spend 5 hours mining(this is all pre-WoD) and gather a bunch of stuff, craft it, then throw it up.  They get undercut, so they super-undercut to try and sell their stuff first, with the end result of the market for that item “crashing” to the point the major sellers either leave it alone, or buy up all the cheap items to reset the value and resell them.  The original seller though?  He didn’t care, because he considers all the materials he mined “free” since he didn’t spend gold on it, so any gold is profit.  What he neglects to account for is the 5 hours he spent gathering it, when he could have been doing something else like running dungeons or old raids.  heck, beyond a certain point he might have made more gold just doing that instead of mining and crafting.

Until recently, this was less obvious as gold in WoW did not have a (legal) fixed value in real money.  With the time tokens available now however, that gold can be quantified against the money you actually make working.

Now working is something we have to do whether we want to or not, at least in the US.  We give up some of our limited time in exchange for the resources to do all the other things we actually want to do.  Still, say you make $15/hour working a specific job.  That means you can quantify an hour of your time as $15, just for arguments sake.

Now a month of sub time for WoW is $15.  Last I heard, a sub token costs around 22k gold, so there’s a rough equivalency there.  So, if you were doing it purely for gold gain and had other things you would have preferred to do with that time, paying real money for X that was around 22k might be a better deal than trying to farm and craft it yourself.  Of course, this also doesn’t factor in that there’s other competition for your work money, and that there’s still a limited amount of time spent working, compared to time spent doing something else.  If you work your MMO gaming like a job though(and not enjoying it) and aren’t making the equivalent of your work salary?  Well, you’re just plain doing it wrong, by the numbers.

Note also that you can’t get the money back out of the game(unless you’re looking at Second Life) – once it’s sunk into the game, it’s gone, period, and you’re left with whatever you got back from it e.g. gear, enjoyment, etc.

Now WoW has added the follower mini-game in WoD, which allows for offline progression.  For example you might spend 5 minutes logging in and setting up missions, and then spend 5 minutes later that day collecting 500 gold(or more, depending on follower traits).  There usually tends ot be little bits of dead time here and there in people’s schedules(such as eating breakfast before work) so you can take advantage of things like this without much of an opportunity cost.

Now WoW is sub-based, in that you need to pay every so often to keep access to the game, so if you’re not having fun, most folks would cancel their subscription or just stop playing. F2P games on the other hand don’t have that barrier.

Instead they have Microtransactions.  Little things here and there that can add up to the cost of a sub or (much!) more. Say there’s a “Gotta-have” item in the cash store.  Someone might look at it and go “$10?  Pff, this is a free game, I’m not paying that!” and then spend 10 hours grinding some currency to use instead for the same thing.  Without that initial barrier, many people won’t even look at how long something might take, but instead just grind it in an effort to keep it “free” while spending way too much time on it.  On top of that, some games(especially Korean-originated ones) turn that grind up to 11 to try to entice these people into paying instead without (quite) driving them off.

In other words, take a good long look at how long it might take you to get something in-game, and if you really want it, before trying to grind it out when playing F2Ps.  It might be a much better use of your limited time, if you can afford it, to reward the developers with a bit of cash, as long as you don’t go overboard and turn into a whale throwing their entire bank account at a game that could potentially disappear within a few years.

That said, it brings me back to the more personal part of what I was wanting to talk about, Star Trek Online.  F2P, and I started playing it a bit a month or two ago during some WoW downtime, as I believe I mentioned before.  Well I’m enjoying it enough and WoW little enough that my limited non-work time has gotten totally flipped around!

Before, I was spending most of my idle time in WoW trying to find things to do and doing my few-times-per-day/week “chores” for more resources.  A few weeks ago now I actually totally stopped logging into WoW except for raid nights, and the last couple I’ve actually not even done that – I just logged into the battle.net client to see if they needed me to fill out the 20 spots.

It’s kinda funny.  Raiding with Prestige was fun, but as we got deeper into Mythic, the pressure and stress just kept building to keep performing at peak constantly.  It was still a good rush to get a new boss down ahead of everyone, and even bigger to get a Server First on a Mythic end boss, but the push and pressure to try and get it down ahead of everyone were making me start to dread raid nights.  I could see that performance-wise, while I was never top material, I was getting towards the bottom compared to the excellent players already on the raid team.  While I’m fairly sure we’d still get them down with me there, there was an impression, whether mine or among certain people, that I might be holding them back from staying on top.

My mindset in raiding has always been to push progression, but at the same time to focus on our own and ignore what everyone else’s progression is.  Compete only with ourselves.  While when I started running with them that may or may not have been the main mindset, with how long we stayed on top of the listings it seems to have taken over in large part, especially among leadership.  That’s not what I’m playing for(though it is an ego boost) and I just plain wasn’t having fun with it anymore. Still, I was showing up because I knew we were short on players and I had implicitly agreed to be there.  Recruiting has been working out better recently however, which has allowed me to start stepping away from the game finally, especially since I have other things I can do now(like STO).

The main downside has been getting people I know to play!  With WoW, there’s multiple people there I know, but STO was a blank slate in that regard.  A large part of the game there for me is the story missions which are easily single player, but when I went in to try and pug for the first time I found myself missing having guildmates or othersuch on vent to coordinate with and learn all these instances.  I was able to stick with the easiest one since I was just farming it for marks, but eventually I’ll want to see the others.

At least there’s maybe 3 people I know RL I’ve gotten to give it a look, so if they like it and stick around that would be a start.

Either way, with STO it’s all still fairly fresh, and I’m mostly enjoying even the grinds still.  When it started to feel a bit annoying to do one(such as when I was grinding Tholian marks on Nukara) it’s easy enough to just hop over to do something else for a bit.  Since it’s almost all time-gated, once you get a certain amount of buffer you can just keep it to a minimum, or grind it out in one big go(like I mostly did with Nukara).

To bring my earlier points into this though, STO actually has a very leniant implementation of F2P.  Paying for just a race unlock(for cosmetic reasons – busty feline captain ahoy!) and using just the free stuff I was able to hit level cap and play though most of the content.  I could have kept on going, but I’ve taken a “time-out” from following the story to beef up my main’s ship and gear.

Needing pay content and wanting pay content, however, are two very different things, as shown by my race unlock.  Looking around, it’s easy to see how you can spend a lot of money in that game, even if none of it is required.  Cosmetic options, “gambling” for gear via the lockbox-key system, and the highest end ships are all behind the paywall, as well as unlocking additional slots for inventory, bridge officers, followers, and so on.  Skill respecs are even nominally behind it.

At first glance, it looks like a lot.  However, there’s a time-gated in-game currency that’s tradeable for the cash shop currency in much the same way as WoW’s time tokens – one person buys the cash shop currency, then trades it for the time-limited currency to speed things up(since it’s tied to a lot).  Most of the prices are low enough that you can get what you want after a couple weeks of just playing normally.You see, this currency may be time-gated in how fast you get it, but you get it from doing almost anything in the game, and you can buffer it up!  Right now I have enough that if I did nothing but log in for 5 seconds to refine it, I wouldn’t have to do anything else for 2 weeks to use up my stockpile.  On top of that, the limit is per-character, so the more alts you play, the faster you can get the currency and the less time it takes – although to be fair, at that point it might turn into more grind than fun beyond a certain point.

Pretty much the only thing that takes a huge amount of time is new ships.  Given this is Star trek, the makers know that’s the high demand item, and it’s priced appropriately – $20-$30 for a high end ship.  Using the exchange I was talking about? 3-4 months with only a single character’s limit. Obviously that scales down with multiple alts, but as I’m new and don’t have the “alt support structure” I have on WoW, that’s outside the scope of what I was looking at for myself.

They also have regular sales of 15-20% off, which helps as well.  So this past weekend I took advantage of that to dump around $60 into the game, since my “entertainment” budget for this month had barely been scratched.  In fact, the only other expense on it was paying for one month sub for STO, as it unlocks a LOT more stuff that you normally have to pay a lot more for separately. Even better, you get to keep almost all of it when you go back F2P, and if I resub later, the character-based benefits will also apply retroactively.

Basically STO, while it may have its own issues with power creep and has a lot of monetization, is also extremely fair to the casual player and nowhere near “pay-to-win” in my books.  I chose to give them some cash, as I was enjoying the game and helps make sure the game continues – and I shouldn’t need to spend any more in the near future as I get more established and better able to take advantage of things like the cash shop exchange.

As to what I’m going to be using the money I put in for?  I’ve got my eye on a couple ships, and last year around this time they had a 15-20% off ship sale…

Late-night rambling returns!

I’ve actually had a couple posts I’ve wanted to do in the pipeline, but various things have conspired to prevent me from following through on them.  Various things in large part being WoW. <..<

Anyways, there’ll still be a year -in-review post at some point, and I also have a Transformer-like race to use in Pathfinder to post, but this isn’t either of those.  This is a catch-up, and maybe some rambling on random topics, for the first time in a while!

If you don’t care about WoW, feel free to skip a few paragraphs. XP

First, the WoW situation has kind of sorted itself out.  The two guilds de-merged, and Chocolate Disco went back to a lot more casual schedule.  I’ve ended up on the regular Mythic team, but not quite made Core, which I’m fine with.  I know there’s better players than me – only reason to wish I was Core is so I would have a higher cap on guild repairs for progression nights!

Especially after I went and made myself broke.  I’ve basically completed the follower minigame on my main until 6.1, and there’s nto much to do towards raiding outside raids at the moment.  So, I finally went back to see what I missed in minipets, since I had that mostly done before my break, and was surprised that they hadn’t added that much.  I saw some TCG pets I was missing up for relatively cheap, and there was now ay I was going to go through Molten Core any more times to try for that pet, so I went and bought myself into brokeness.  Worse, I haven’t been able to engage the revenue stream I had been using as I needed to make some upgrades for myself for crafted pieces for my monk alt and for a piece where RNG turned out to hate me on my main.  End result though is that I just need to get about 8 more pets and I’ll have every pet I can get that’s not a CE pet, Blizzcon pet, or a pet only available in another country.  At least until 6.1!

As for why I -need- to gear my alt, originally I was planning on raiding with both guilds, with all the time sinks that entails.  There’s folks I like in both guilds and I wanted to keep running with both(not to mention it’s a bit of a rush to realize that I’m in the raid team of the top guild on the server!) so I was going to use my alt to run Disco raids.  Then it turned out they kind of raid on the same days.

I say kind-of because the second Disco night is the same night as what is supposed to be an alt run, but I’ve had a couple gear holes that have forced me to run my main in said alt runs for more gear.  That’s solved now though until Blackrock releases, so I’ll be able to roll with them for at least a couple weeks finally.

Aside from WoW, I’m moving into a different position that’s more internal facing and engineering oriented at work.  I’m still having to deal with some stuff here and there that isn’t, but that’s the life of a sysadmin, and my boss has a very healthy philosophy on outside-normal-hours work: keep it to a minimum.  It’s a philosophy I’m in heavy agreement with, as after some of my contracting I make it a point to grab on tight to my free time, including lunch breaks and only work on either if there is no other way.  I have pushed back on scheduling before because of workload, but that’s less of an issue in my new position.

My muse has finally spoken up again though, and revived one of my former identities as a separate character: Chakat Swiftwind lives again(sorta).  Where my dragon is me though, Swiftie is a separate character, more along the lines of my various RPG characters.  There may not be much distinction between the two for a lot of furries, but there is for me and that’s the important part.  Part of that is I finally have an idea of who shi is: a hotshot pilot, whether it be starship or starfighter… though given the chakat universe doesn’t have a lot of interstellar conflict, shi’s pretty much a starship jock at the moment in my mind.

I tried using Traveller to put together a background history for hir, but it left a bit to be desired, as there are some differences naturally between the two universes.  I also was a bit confused about the difference between StarFleet and Star Corps in that universe, so I had to do a quick rewrite to fit with my mental idea of where shi is in the “present” which unfortunately has left some parts of hir past vague now for the moment.

As to what prompted me, I had a strong mental image of hir in a cockpit, hands on controls and handpaws on even more controls.  Granted, as a ship’s helmsman on a long-range exploration ship shi may not get to do that, but there’s pinnances and such shi may have to fly for some reason; not to mention shi may be able to make that ship do tricks its builders hadn’t even thought of.

Part of that also gave me the idea and framework for a story, and it even fits well to the typical framework of a Star Trek episode!  After I fleshed out some identities of other folks shi’d be interacting with regularly though, I found myself without the time to actually start writing it.  There’s also a couple things i’m not sure about now because I want to stick to that “Star Trek episode” feeling, but I want it to be hir story, not a story about the bridge crew of the ship shi’s on.

Another thing is that my original idea necessitates some ship-to-ship combat, which is where I run into another issue.  In Star Trek’s universe, there’s other star empires to be handy antagonists.  The chakat universe’s Steller Federation on the other hand has no real enemies, just some pirates pretty much and everyone else in their stellar neighborhood is buddy-buddy with them.  On top of that, StarFleet ships in the chakatverse have people trained for First Contact and this is a Big Thing, as opposed to Star Trek where they meet half the new civilizations over laser fire, and the other half they try not to even make contact with because of the Prime Directive.

The fact that First Contact is huge, and that I’m technically playing in someone else’s playground, makes me leery of introducing a new alien race of any sort to be antagonists. Pretty much the only way to make it work would be for the alien race to be truly alien(which is hard) as most of the Federation races have been of similar mindsets, make the new race be scream-and-leap like the Kzinti, or have what attacks them be automated.  None of those are truly ideal, and with how big First Contact is, a botched one, even if nothing could be done, would be a huge black mark I would imagine.  So I’m stuck on that plot point and it’s a major one for the original story idea I had.

Back on the topic of mental images though, there were a couple others that came to mind that I wanted to see made real, so I’ve started getting art again.  I had a ton of Transformers come in recently, but thankfully it was end of December so technically it was part of last year’s budget.  I’ve already blown past my tentative marker for January’s non-essentials budget though with the two pieces I have coming, even with that.

I’d actually wanted to get art of Swiftwind last year, but I never really got around to finding taur artists besides Kacey and trying to get it done.  This time, I actually found a few artists, but was surprised how few good taur artists I was able to find, though I did stumble on another recently thanks to Twitter(and which prompted the second art piece I have inbound eventually).  Right now I just have nothing I really want drawn of -me- except maybe a new icon.  Problem there is I don’t have a theme in mind or a specific artist to do a dragicon, so that’s on hold at the moment.

I actually have a third piece in mind too, and the artist I’d like to do it is opening for commissions soon, so I’m waiting to see if I can snag a slot there.  As long as I’m getting pics done of my (other) characters, I figured I’d get a pic of a major Pathfinder character I’ve been trying to be able to play – my Dark Tapestry Oracle, who happens to be a black-furred kitsune with a gypsy theme.

I’ve actually gotten the chance to game again, which allowed me to bring her up again and play her, though this is one of those campaigns where the DM looked at the (non-MMO)Elder Scrolls games’ laughable attempts at balance and thought it was way too restrictive in power level.  On one hand, it’s letting me pull out the stops, but on the other it’s feeling more like a power fantasy than RP and I feel like I’m not actually really playing so much as waiting to see what the next huge power boost is.  On the other hand, they were already high level when I joined, but that doesn’t help when advancement is still this rapid.  I can always use her again in a different campaign I suppose that’s a bit more sane.

The other campaign this group is running though definitely isn’t it.  While they’re playing through an adventure path, the characters are more like a Marvel What If? comic instead.  Since restraint on concept was already thrown to the wind, I sat down with the Advanced Race Guide and figured out how to build a Transformer, and got the GM to approve it!  I’ll be posting it at some point, but I still need to make the actual character.  I’m thinking bomb alchemist may be fitting.

I sort of wish there was a Traveller campaign going, so I could see if I could slip in my conversion of the chakat race too and make Swiftie in that.  Of course, then I’d probably have to answer some questions about where hir race comes from.  I usually don’t flaunt furry stuff outside of the areas of the internets where its common or such, but the group I’m playing with again in RL would probably have no problem with it, considering what some of them are into.  Wouldn’t help though with other groups…

When I thought about getting the art of Swiftwind though, I realized I didn’t have any real good referances.  The only color drawn pic didn’t give hir a large enough bust(and yeah, my motives for hir having a large rack probably are less than pure if I actually sat and thought about it) and the rest were just sketches. I did have the Second Life pics form the last revamp I did to my SL av of hir, but hir upper body was out of proportion in that.  So, now that mesh bodies are a thing, I went looking to see if I could find a larger base body to use for the upper torso.

I didn’t find any that were just larger, but I found some that looked more natural and/or more shapely, and when I tried a demo I found to my delight that it worked just fine with my taur anims.  The first one though was no-mod and you ahd to apply to be able to make skin appliers for it so I had to look elsewhere.  I foudn another one that was almost as good, AND a lot cheaper, and was mod-friendly!  As a bonus, it also gave hir breasts a more natural shape and increased the amount hey could scale.  Of course, the slider setting I had needed to use before with the default SL body resulted in nuclear torpedo warheads with this body, so I was actually able to scale it down to get hir chest to be the right size I envisioned.

Since I was stuck in terms of upper-to-lower-body ratio though, I decided to try scaling the lower body down a bit.  I’d originally had the height set to max for scale purposes in SL, but proportions were more important now and scale is jacked in SL anyways.  It actually wasn’t too difficult to finally get hir body properly proportioned in general once I tried.  Then it was snapshot time!

While I was starting to put it together, I had the bright idea to go with a LCARS theme, and I ended up blowing an entire Saturday with putting together the template, coloring it, and retaking shots I found out were at bad angles, but it gave me a good ref sheet finally for hir, and it’s already getting used for the two new pieces I have coming.

Iv’e been tempted a time or two to take hir out for a whirl on SL, but I don’t know what I’d do with hir.  WoW and work keep me busy enough that I wouldn’t want to commit to a regular RP, and for my regular hanging out I’d rather be my dragon self.  I could go hunt up furry sex clubs, but that lost its appeal a long while ago.  If I just want word porn I can write it myself(and probably do a better job!) and for anything beyond that, well, that’s one thing relationships can bring to the table – and there it’s sex because of the love, not love for the sex.

Also looking back other than the sidegrade into a RP character, Swiftwind really doesn’t fit as an identity so much as a fantasy.  Whether or not I used to be more cuddly, I’ve found that I don’t really care as much for random hugs and snugglings and such anymore from strangers, and that sort of closeness is a natural thing for chakats.  Since they’re natural empaths they’re very informal and very sensual, for reasons which make a lot of sense when you look at it.

That also leads into the whole chakat style of mating and courtships.  While I like the idea of the different levels(Companion/Denmate/Lifemate) and think that could work well, chakats tend to have multiple mates and love everyone, and I’m serially monogamous.  Once I give my heart and loyalty, that’s it.  Maybe I’m jsut old-fashioned.  I could maybe see a threesome working if the other two were both female and some circumstances worked out, but in general I have one mate and that’s that.

Being a hermaphrodite also is integral to the even general idea of chakats, but not something I could see myself as anymore.  The idea may be fun to play with, in that you could RP either a male or female role with the same character, depending on mood and partner, but I am definitely not bi, which is almost a requirement for that to be part of your identity.  If nothing else, my (lack of) reaction to all the penis pics that showed up on my Twitter AD account’s timeline proved that to myself – and that’s ignoring the time I did try to use a chakat as my identity.

I supose, going back to what I said earlier about my reasons for hir chest size, that it’s in part a fusion of myself with one of the representations of my potential ideal mate.  Self and fantasy in one, so that either you can be the one doing, or you can mentally put yourself in the other person’s shoes while playing the female role when it comes to the more adult activities; and all without changing characters.

While I’m mentioning AD and dick pics, that’s something I’ve noticed a lot of.  People taking pictures of just their bits, which frankly gets pretty boring.  You’ve seen one, you’ve seen most of them, girls included.  Most of the actually hot pictures include more of the body, body language, expression and so on.

Then again, maybe it’s just because I’m older and have my sexual urges more under control, since most of said folks are several years younger.  I’ll admit I can think with the wrong head at times, but it seems like (effectively) going into rut isn’t that often an occurrance for me.  Heck, just look at when I’ve posted adult stories fairly close together, and you can get an idea.

I’m actually feeling tired now, and this is one of the longest entries I’ve written in a while so I guess I’ll leave you with the art piece I got most recently, from right around the new year.  Enjoy!

Lookin' Cute, Feelin' Cute

Thoughts on Immortality

Given the turn my personal life has taken lately, mortality is one thing that’s been cropping up now and then.  Strangely enough, I had not too long ago just re-read a book series based on DOOM. The twist was that we were the only known intelligent lifeform in the known universe that was not functionally immortal.

Without giving away everything else, I do need to explain a bit as it goes into my thoughts on this topic.  The situation with the other intelligent races was that they could not die, at all.  They bodies could be damaged or break down, but once the body was repaired they would be back to normal.  While they may or may not be able to act, and they would be able to feel pain the whole time, they would still be fully cognizant of their surroundings and fully conscious, barring maybe some form of sleep as I can’t remember if that was a thing.  If the body was destroyed or sufficiently rendered unusable, their spirit or soul would disconnect and remain in that area as a sort of ghost, able to see and hear but unable to interact in any way with the world around them.  The fact that humans did not do this scared the living crap out of the other races.

Side note: writing about this is making me think of the way Transformers are handled in the modern fiction for it – as long as their spark is intact, their body could be trashed and they could still be fixed.  The only difference is with TFs their spark could be extinguished.

Anyways, thinking about this reminded me of some parallels with Tolkein’s elves.  The elves themselves were also fairly immortal, though there was little said about what happened to an elf who was intentionally killed that I can recall. The thing is, they were unable to leave the world, while humans were able to go beyond to an unknown existence once they passed on, and the elves considered this a gift given to that race by their creators.  Eventually the elves grew weary of the world, and retreated to a paradise of sorts among that universe’s equivalent of deities, but they could never truly travel beyond the end of the universe like humans did when they died.

That train of thought led me to consider what a society of functionally immortal people might look like.

First, with murder no longer an option, unconsensual torture would become the ultimate crime.  I’ll go over why I added the word unconsensual later but for now, consider the fact that without death, suffering from pain could be continued to the point of madness, depending on the tortured person’s strength of will.  Basically, it’d have all the makings of rape cases, but without needing the sex angle to force their power on someone else.  You also can’t just get rid of all pain, as it’s a very important indicator of damage to the body.  Without it, you might not realize your feet are on fire, and cutting it out would lead to people damaging themselves beyond easy repair without even knowing it until its too late.

My second point returns to that idea of consensual torture.  Even today, with fully mortal people, there are folks out there who derive pleasure from pain, whether receiving or giving it.  Take away the risk of death, and you can go a looooot farther- assuming that it’s not the risk itself that makes it pleasurable.

Speaking of pleasures and entertainment, that’s another huge potential pitfall any such society would have to monitor.  Doing the same thing, day in and day out, is already known to be boring within several years.  What about 100 years later, assuming nothing changes?  Would you be able to do the same thing day in and day out for 100 years?  I doubt it.  Just as vanilla sex can get boring and lead to more and more unusual sexplay to “spice up” a love life, other pursuits will become stale and these immortal people will look for ways to “spice up” their lives in general.  This I think is one of the more interesting parts of this thoughtline – the different ways this could go.

The first option I see I’ll call the “Dark Eldar” option, as that’s a good example of it.  As the folk continue to live, they become more and more jaded, and go to more and more extreme lengths for a novel experience.  Morals and conscience are eventually left behind, sacrificed on the altar of new life experiences, eventually leading to a society we would consider demons straight from hell. And hey, there’s an idea for a story or campaign right there!

The second option, which I’ll call the “Sleeper” option, is one that may have been explored previously, but seems like an interesting idea to me.  As folk start to become world-weary, they are put to sleep for a couple hundred years, using cryogenics or some magical equivalent.  Once they come back from their slumber, they would then find a presumably changed world, with new things and experiences to explore.  This would also be a way to address resource issues, which is something I don’t intend to touch on here.  Development would likely not slow down in this case, as newer folks would continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible as they are not weary of the world yet, and then when they grow weary, they could “rest” while the returned folk learn what happened while they were out and continue the work.  There’s still a danger of eventually drifting into option 1 if progress slows or stops, but this would be one potentially healthy way to address the issue of world-weariness.

The third option could be termed the “Fae” option, as it is along the lines of your typical fantasy elves.  It follows the idea that with the longer lives(in this case unlimited), there’s less drive to do anything worthwhile.  Progress would slow to a crawl as there’s no ticking time bomb to try and make something of themselves before they go.  Life would become ephemeral and passive, and the immortals in this case would simply drift through life without any sort of care, dancing, singing, playing, doing nothing but meaningless things.  Eventually, this could lead to stagnation and decay, and potentially could end up drifting into Dark Eldar territory if they started to take a more active role rather than the passive one that this option embodies.  Rather than trying to change the world, they let the world change them and drift through it like a breeze or slow stream.

Option four could be best labeled the “Amnesia” option, as that is what it essentially is.  This borrows a bit from some Transformers lore, where some ‘bots reportedly were so old they forgot things despite being computers, because they ran out of  “memory space” and erased old memories or overwrote them with new experiences.  We would ahve the same approach here where an immortal may only remember a couple hundred years of the mundane parts of life, and only the most major events stick with them across the aeons.  The immortals would never become truly tired of the world because there’d always be new things for them to (re-)experience, but over the years they could become someone completely different as they lose experiences and gain new ones.  There is a risk here of becoming stuck in a progress treadmill, but presumably written records would allow knowledge to be preserved against the collective amnesia.  Still, that’s one risk only perhaps the Fae option shares.

Option five is probably the most extreme, and could be termed the “Cthulhu” option.  Given aeons to live, rather than adapting but remaining something that our current minds could comprehend, these immortals would become something else, something other.  Their personalities and motives would become strange and unnatural to our mindset as they assimilate the truths of the universe that we might never be able to comprehend in our limited lifetimes.  Given that, they may even be able to transcend their existence to something unknowable to us, ala the Elder Gods or Great Old Ones of Cthulhu mythos, or the energy beings such as the Q and Organians in Star Trek.

After all:

T̙͉̟̱̯͐ͤ͆̄ͅhͯͮ͐̊a̟͊̚t̮̰̟͈̳ͣͦ͂̔̍ ̥͔͇̈́ẁ͓͉ͫ̂h͓̜̾̉͊̿̌i̱̗̔c͈̳̙͈̑̏͗h̞̜̹̎̈ ̻͙ͧͪ̽͑̽̍i̩̥̰̼̬͕ͪ̄ͧ̑ͩ͗s̙͇̬̮̖̳̰̋̌̈́͆̊ ̣͖͓̯ͫ̉̆̋ͫ͆̅d̳͚̪̖͕͉͈͂ͥͬ̾̂̉͐e̓a̦̥̘̹̺̳̬ͩ̑͊̇̓̒̚d̮͎͈ ̈́̒d͚ͤ̀͗ó͈̠̮̥̙͚̃ͬe̒̑̇͐̐́ͧs͇̰̹͈̖̜̹ͩ͋͗ͬ ͓̹̪ͭ̾ͅn̠̲̠̰̲̥̏o̳̫̿ͮ̉̈͆t͖̘̝̙͕̲̹̋͛ͨ̀̾ ̱̮̲́̈́ͯͥ͂̄ͅeͣt̪̠͕̏ͅe̜͈ͬ͐ͧr͔̳̳̼̦͎͐͛́ͦ̿ṉ͍ā̍̏̄͗l̥̤͎̮͔͌̍ ͍͕̠͙̠̞̇ͯ̎̂̈l͓̻̩̊̄ị̘̫̻͋̉͑e͕͎̠
̞̲͖̤̟̊̎̈́A̓͒͛n̻̮̖̓̀̊ͬͧͬd̤̂̐ͅ ̲̺̝̣̺̞̩ͩ͆̿ͮͣ̋͑ȋ̲̣̲͚̥͉͉n ̹̅̓͒͒̓̈́̆s͍̦̹̯̜̤̈́́͛͂ț͙̗̮̈̐ͯ̊r̺̖̱̰͓͙̟ͣ̽̓̍a̲̱̺̰̝͎ͫͩͣͮ͆̀̚n̰͍̘̼͓͒ͮg͙͎̫̹͓̫̳͊e͈̳͍̳̯ͮ ̅ͥ͊̈̃ͭa͔̭͖̘̻͈̭ͧ͂̐e̻̳̞ͬͮ͑̐̉o̖̫͚̤̭̳ͨ̇ͫn͙͈̟̿̎̐̿͗̓s̱̝̦̤̹̪̟̋̏̊ ͔̆̈̊̊͛͋e̙̥͚̩͇̔ͭ̿̈v̟̣̟̱̮͎̜ê̪̤̤͖̖̮ͦ̃͆̍̍ͣn͍͖̲̗ͩ̓ͥ ͔̻̻d̺̉̌̚e̥͍̩̭̺̅ͭ̏a̖̤̫̮̮̼ͪͪ͆ͅt̮͔̼h ̝ͤ̔͒͑͋m͔͖ͬͪͦ̓̇̓a͚͕̰y͇ͮ́͗ ̦̠̺̰̓ͦ̆̑͋d͔͇͙͍̄͊̈ͤ͋i̱̺̮̫̊ē̼͓̱͇̖̪͉̚.̥̱͇̪̭͐ͅ

Happy birthday Transformers!

On Sept 17, 1984 the first episodes of what would become an ongoing franchise of cartoons, movies, comics, and toys aired its first episodes.  While the comics were technically already out, it was the cartoon that really kicked off the sensation that carries on to this day.

I don’t think I watched it myself back then, as I don’t recall watching much until after the second or third season had started.  I’d come home from school, plop myself in front of the TV, and watch GI Joe and Transformers back to back inw aht I thought was an awesome hour of TV(except when baseball pre-empted it).

I saw another blog today that was looking to celebrate the 30 years of Transformers by exploring a toy from his collection for each year over the next 30 days.  I like the idea but I know I wouldn’t be able to keep up wiht it with the other stuff I got going on, but ti got me thinking.  Is that something I’d be able to do too?  The G2 stuff is likely where I’d be missing “years” but I figure why not try and see if I can match that – do I have one from each year?

  • 1984 – I’ll go with Ratchet.  I actually got one at a garage sale at my grandparents when I was young, and I still have it somewhere, though he’s missing a bunch of accessories, and the rear treads on his sled were broken and glued back together since then.
  • 1985 – Powerglide!  One of my first two or three Transformers.  Since then he’s lost a tailfin/foot, and the pins on his wings kept trying to slide out, but I’ve still got that red jet with an ego twice his size packed away somewhere.
  • 1986 – Blurr this time.  I got him around the same time as Powerglide, though his head broke off and got lost when I was young, so I treated him like a headmaster.  I eventually got a replacement, but the shield clip broke.  I’ve still got that one however, packed away somewhere
  • 1987 – Nosecone and the Technobots!  I got a Nosecone but the arm broke off, so I got a second one later.  I also got an Afterburner, but he got stolen by a so-called friend.  I always liked these futuristic vehicles, and kept drooling over Strafe, so later on in College when I got back into collecting I got a replacement Afterburner and completed the team!
  • 1988 – Quake the double Targetmaster.  This guy has aged better than some of my other examples above, with no real damage in all the time I had him.  The only Targetmaster I got until much later, just like Hosehead was my only Headmaster for a long time.
  • 1989 – Pretender Bumblebee – My first toy of Bumblebee, which I thought was a big deal since he was such a big character back then, relatively.  He also looked a lot like his cartoon model for the time.  I wanted the Jazz too, but never got ahold of it
  • 1990 – Construction Patrol – I got this for Easter I think, but by this time I was drifting away from Transformers some, towards TMNT.  Part of that was because I didn’t “get” Action Masters at the time.
  • 1991 – The first year I don’t have anything for.  This was one of the Euro-only years, while the line went into hibernation int eh US and Japan
  • 1992 – Skyquake – Years later I found this through a fansite selling figures, pretty much intact.  This was before eBay really took off so I jumped at the chance for a huge decepticon with all these missilebombs he could drop, and it was Euro-only!
  • 1993 – Another year I don’t have anything.  I saw the G2 toon and saw a few in stores, but I never got any of them while they were fresh.
  • 1994 – Same as 1993 I’m afraid, but from what I see this should be the last fallow year.
  • 1995 – Space Case – Years later I fell in love with the idea of forward-swept wings, and heard about the cyberjets having awesome articulation.  I zeroed in on Space Case having too gaudy a paint job that it would work as a good base for a custom character I named Slipstream(no relation to the fem Decepticon).  After I bought it while I was waiting to get started, I grew attached to the figure as-is and the repaint never happened.
  • 1996 – Wolfang – Actually got the Japanese version, long after the initial release.  While I had a fan character called Foxfire based off this mold, I never entertained actual thoughts of repainting him.
  • 1997 – Airrazor – My first new Transformer since G1. I’d been catching Beast Wars when I could, and I happened to spot her on the pegs at a store I was at.  Didn’t even wait to get home before opening the package, since I had to wait at the post office a bit that day.
  • 1998 – Transmetal 2 Cheetor – My second BW toy ever, which I got as a gift.  Just because you’re a teen doesn’t mean you can’t still ask for toys as gifts!
  • 1999 – Tigerhawk – Another one bought for me.  I thought the design was really neat, besides the nature of the character himself
  • 2000 – Mach Alert – My first new vehicle transformer, imported fresh from Japan when everyone was going “OMG VEHICLES” at Car Robots, and when we had no idea it would be brought over.  He’s still my favorite of the Car Bros.
  • 2001  – BM Rattrap – I just had to get this one because he was supposed to be the size of a live rat, like Supreme Cheetor was housecat-sized
  • 2002 – Minicons. I realize I’m cheating a bit but I can’t name a specific one.  Minicons however were a return to Micromasters, and would let me populate my Metroplex and Brave Maximus for a real Autobot City!
  • 2003 – Unicron – Finally the big bad from 1986 had a figure of his own!  Sure it wasn’t exactly like G1, but it was close enough(and still is).
  • 2004 – Energon Rodimus – Again going back to my like for S3 G1, we finally had a Rodimus Prime again, even though they never called him that Stateside.
  • 2005 – Energon Galvatron – Just like Rodimus, except this also looked like that old Decepticon Lunatic more than any other figure to date.in design and deco, apart from a few concessions to the gunship mode
  • 2006 – Primus – Just liek Unicron,w e now had a Cybertron for him to consume, only it also transformed into a version of the Transformer’s creator!  It didn’t look much like the images from the old G1 UK comics though, sadly.
  • 2007 – Movie Optimus Prime – While not accurate to the movie, the first movie since 1986(and live action) it was a good Optimus on its own.
  • 2008 – Universe Cyclonus – The popularity of Classics let us get a lot more of these “updated” G1 figures, and Cyclonus gave us a proper representation of Galvatron’s lieutenant
  • 2009 – Animated Arcee – Even though it was the tail end of the line, it was the first ever official Arcee based on her G1 car mode, and my stand-in until the new one comes out later this year.
  • 2010 – PCC Leadfoot – The Power Core Combiner was an odd concept that borrowed from Energon Prime, but this one was neat in that it was a former G2 character who hadn’t been used in ages, with a gun that also became an engine.
  • 2011 – Generations Kup – This slot was reserved for Classics Kup.  Another of the 1986 Autobot cars, though he wasn’t a futuristic pickup anymore, he looked recognizably like himself. This was also part of the Generations revival that has continued through today, and into the foreseeable future.
  • 2012 – FoC Shockwave – Even though it’s based on the game and doesn’t turn into a gun, this was to me the most accurate Shockwave thus far, and still has a place on my desk at home.  I pretty much bypassed Prime in favor of Generations, and this was one of the FoC figured I felt worked fine with other classic-styled figures, even if it was a bit small.
  • 2013 – Generations Springer – This was one of the best figures of the year in that it not only has a good implementation of triple-changing, but at the same time looks like it leaped right out the pages of the IDW comic book. A bit large due to his size class, but very satisfying.
  • 2014 – Rhinox – I gotta give this one to the big lug, as we finally had a figure for him that looks like him in both modes, and even transforms kind of like the show.

So short a few years in G2, which had a few new molds(which I got some of as repaints were released later) but a lot of repaints, I was able to come up with something for every year, though a couple there wasn’t much that spoke to me as far as listing it went.

I had something else as well originally intended to be added to this post art-wise, but due to recent developments while I was putting the above list together, I’m going to hold off on that for now.  Until next time!

Worlds of Whimsy #1 – Free Traders Universe

Well, what do ya know!  I didn’t notice until I was going to write this that this was going to be the 50th post, but that’s a rather auspicious start.

Anyways, I’ve noticed lately I haven’t had much to write about, as life is continuing on without major changes, I haven’t had any grand ideas to ponder, and art’s pretty much on hold pending the new reference sheet.  It just so happens I was pondering a world design mixing up dragons with Star Trek and maybe Spelljammer and Shadowrun, and it hit me that I tend to do this on and off sometimes.  I’ll come up with this grand new idea of r a world or timeline or something, maybe start to write a story(or even finish it!) and then end up dropping it.  I don’t really want to be a GM so the only way I can really bring them to life usually would be via story or art.  Art usually isn’t that great for something like this without a bunch of it(which would get rather expensive) and with writing I’ve found I tend to work best with short stories, and I would need a strong story idea to get myself to finish it.

Then it hit me that I could put them out here!  Write out these fancy ideas and flesh them out, and while I may not be able to give them life, maybe someone else later will come along and build off that in their home games, and make it live!

I’m actually torn on what to show off for the first posting though.  I think I’ll start off with one of my more recent world-building attempts, although techncially I suppose it’s actually a couple worlds.

The Free Traders Universe

This was actually the setting(s) for an aborted story series based in the Spelljammer ruleset and setting.  It was supposed to follow the adventure of a small 4-man crew of a spelljamming vessel. They were rather unique though, especially a couple of them that I basically had to (or wanted to) create their own worlds because of them.  First, the ship!

Lazy Sue

Swordfish-class
4xStandard room = 2 tons
Helm room = 1 tons
Galley = .5
basic Engineering = 1.5 tons
5 tons + cargo
10% rigging
10% frame

12 tons
9.6 tons internal
4.6 tons cargo

Heavy Frame – Dark Wood
Dark Woof Hull
Pyre Iron plating
Pyre Iron piercing ram

Maneuver C
AC 25
hardness 12
345 HP

 

I never got as far as making deck plans apart from a general idea of what was where.  She was crewed thoguh as I said by four folk:

The Captain was a standard womanizing rogueish half-elf.  Nothing special at first, though more may have been revealed later.

The navigator was a dragonwrought kobold, giving them a mini-dragon on the crew.  She likewise wasn’t supposed to harbor much in the way of dark secrets, but had been doing this a while at the start. Her homeworld would have been based in the Council of Wyrms setting.

The weapons master on the other hand was one of those two special cases.  He was basically a warforged in game terms, but he was ultimately a proxy Transformer.  So, one of the few worlds I somewhat fleshed out is:

Forged Homeworld
(Cybertron of Universal Stream Draconix 313.16 Iota)

The history of this world mirrors the Primax 984.17 Alpha(G1 cartoon) history, after a fashion, given the presence of magic.  Forged were created to be warriors, like Eberron, and laborers.  The countries that gave birth to them however went to war with one another, and practically destroyed the planet.  The Forged finished the job, and left, their creators and their entire homeworld having been seemingly lost.  They started blaming one another and the war-restarted among the stars, with the Forged taking sides in part based upon their old loyalties, while others left to find their own way.  The other spelljamming races don’t look at the “out-of-control machines” with kindness, needless to say, though their reception could be anywhere from a cool neutral stance, to outright jailing, which would have been a plot point at one of the worlds they would have visited.

 

The artificer and ship’s engineer was the newbie, and the initial audiance perspective member.  She was also rather out of the ordinary, in that she was a felitaur.  In other words, like a centaur except her lower half was fully feline and her upper half was a humanized feline, in typical furry fasion.  Similar to chakats, but without being a herm or any of the baggage that term brings.

I didn’t flesh out her world much, other than it was a Realms-like world, but with more taurs and fewer bipeds.

I did put some thought into the first part of their story, which I originally planned to be from the Transforged’s PoV.

Giasin

This world was intended to borrow from a mix of La Gias(SRW), Panzer World Galient, and Turn A Gundam.  The world itself was meant to parallel the Forged homeworld just before its final war, except instead of self-aware mechanoids they’d uncovered ancient giant piloted mecha and tried to copy it with their magitek technology.  The Lazy Sue would have been seized to be used in their war, but the Transforged character would have broken the “PCs” out and helped them escape onto their next stop.

 

The next stop would have been the Council of Wyrms setting, and there would have been little change if any.  The story would have been told form the kobold’s PoV as she had run away form this world, and was now returning to it, though not entirely of her own accord.

There would have been one more intermediate stop, likely at a space station equivalent, before returning around to the taur’s PoV and their final destination.  I didn’t get far enough along to flesh out this world either, other than the story here would play with a plot along the lines of “Yesterday’s Enterprise” from Star Trek, mixed with a quarantined planet and a dying or dead Spacejammer.

I lost interest as I was trying to start the second chapter, and as no one else seemed really interested either, I let it die at that point and moved on.  I’d still like to plat a Draconix stream Cybertronian at some point, if a GM will let me though.

 

The next entry will probably also be a revival of an old story setting, but unlike this, it’ll be a single world as such.  Like this setting, I only got one story and the start of another written before I lost the thread of the story, though it was more I knew what I wanted in the ending but couldn’t see a good way to get there.

Also, as a reassurance this isn’t replacing any other ideas I might write about.  This will simply be something else I write about or for now and then in addition to posts about art, life, philosophy, and so on.

Competition

So a while back my girlfriend mentioned I was very competitive. Now we play quite a few games often to spend time together, both with just us and with others, but I didn’t put too much stock in it at the time.

I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist, and whatever I do, I try to do my absolute best at, though I will sometimes put additional personal restrictions in place on things.  For example, I prefer not to jump my dragoness’s pawns in parcheesi unless I’m forced to by the game not giving an out.  Within that restriction however, I try to play it the best I can, and everyone else’s pawns are fair game.

The other night however, we’d recently found this Monopoly clone and were playing it a bit before heading off to bed.  Unlike the first night, that night the dice were rolling well for me and not only did I get 2 full groups, I ended up through managing mortages(and a couple close calls) buying one out of every color group I didn’t fully control, This might not have been so bad, except it was just the two of us, and without considering it I’d totally blocked my GF from doing anything without buying or trading properties from me, which killed her interest in it, the the point that night where she was not wanting to ever play it again with me.

I felt horrible about it that night, but it made me recall her words before.

When you’re playing a game, typically you are playing to win to some extent, but just having fun can outweigh that; especially since in that example we were ultimately just playing around to have a bit of fun with a new game and kill time.  While we were playing, since we weren’t chatting much I was looking at the board and thinking mostly in terms of the game, and planning ahead on my next step, rather than thinking about making sure she got to move forward too.   My actual goals though were more to build out some areas for the achievements.

Anyways, making me think about all this also made me think back to WoW.  I’ve been raiding for years, and for a while I was raiding with a casualcore group and what had kind of devolved into a more casual group, before it broke up because of the difference in opinion on progression value.

With the first group, we show up to kick butt, take loot, and push progression.  If you screw up you’re letting down the team.  You do your best for yourself and the team to do ever harder content, though we’re no world first guild, we do the best we can within our limits.

The other guild people were mostly going to kill bosses and have fun together, regardless of the progression. We weren’t getting anywhere compared to the other one because everyone was more casual about it and I had already found that sort of guild isn’t a great match for me, as I always tended to be progression-oriented, making the character grow in capability.

Those same traits that make me a good raider though, are what came back to bite us in the butt that night. When raiding seriously, competitiveness is good and encouraged, as it pushes you to increase your performance, especially as a DPS.  Lord knows I compared myself often enough on the charts after fights with my other raid members! But it can be a detriment as well, when you’re trying to play a game more casually, but without the clues of body language and tone of voice, it’s a lot harder to tell when you’ve crossed the line if you don’t catch yourself first.

It is kinda funny though that I ultimately don’t care for PvP in most games, given that, instead preferring co-op, but then that’s probably my natural tendencies towards empathy and avoiding direct confrontation warring with those competitive tendencies to instead turn to co-op and comparisons.

That may be part of why I didn’t really consider it at first, as in my mind when I hear competitiveness, I also mentally tie in confrontation and being a direct opponent to someone rather than the way I normally go about things.

We’ve since talked about it and I’m going to restrain myself further where she’s concerned on that game as well.  most of the other games we play are usually down to 90% luck, and less strategy, so they depend mostly on the luck of the die/draw.

That night she said “You are who you are” when I apologized again for “ruining” the game and to a certain extent she’s right; those traits have served me well in certain environments, but there’s a time and place for that, which is why I come up with additional restrictions to hold myself back.  I’m just going to have to do it more proactively.  I’m just glad that she knew that it wasn’t my intention, and she didn’t hold it against me at all.  Not that I would ever expect her to, but past experiences with other girlfriends have made me skittish about things, even if only subconciously.

In other news, I’ve started playing WoW again, and the 3 month break was what I needed.  I’m gearing up my druid for leveling after finding out about the new werecat talent, and I’m really hoping it turns out competitive DPS compared to the other two talents on that tier, so I don’t feel like I’m gimping myself for using it.  I’m also working back through and upgrading my priest’s gear, and I should have it done in plenty of time as the release date now is November.

I also already requested release day and the day after off so I can binge-level this time too on at least one character.  I’m looking at leveling 3 characters to cover all my bases in terms of professions, thanks to garrisons, and two of those are the druid and priest I’m already going to be leveling.  I’m just going to have to re-find a balance point between WoW to progress my toons and SL to spend time with my dragoness, but that’s no different from any other guy who plays WoW and has a SO.

Ultimately, it is what it is though, and I wouldn’t give her up for anything. So priorities will adjust, as they always have, and life goes on.

 

Galleries: Personal vs General

Let’s start off with – what exactly is a gallery?  To me, and for the purposes of this discussion, an image gallery is a collection of images with a common quality of some sort(be it artist, subject matter, or something else) posted online for public perusal, and not in a temporary fashion(IOW not imageboards).

The reason I want to lay out this definition at the beginning is that there are two different main kinds of galleries out there, and thinking about differences and reasons to use them is what started the gears turning on what will probably be another dragonwall by the end.

The first type is what I’m going to refer to as personal galleries.  These are galleries that you have full control over what goes in them, and no one else.  These are the meat of sites like FurAffinity, Weasyl, and SoFurry, and this style also bleeds over into Social Networking like Facebook, or other unfocused sites like imagur and tumblr.

These can serve several purposes, depending on the reason for their creation.  A lot of artists(especially on sites like FA or tumblr) are artists, and this allows them to show off their work for whatever reasons they may have, whether it be selling their skills, showing off some neat idea or image, or puffing up their ego.  Then there’s also those who aren’t artists, who may be sharing works that were created for them, again for similar reasons as the artist.  This is FA’s raison d’etre after all; to show art created “by you/for you”.

Separate from these are the general galleries.  Most of these fall into the imageboard category and thus outside the bounds of this discussion, but there are a few here and there that were created to focus on general subject matter, such as e621 and Herpy.  On these sites images are sorted and tagged by the content, but anyone(that registers) can post to the “gallery” for a given type of content. With these there might be some small acknowledgement somewhere of who uploaded it, but primarily they present just the images all together in one giant melting pot, similar to what someone might have in terms of an Images folder on their computer.

Now, as to what prompted this.

As seen in many of my previous posts, I’ve been commissioning art of myself quite a bit since the turn of the year.  I’ve posted them to my own galleries, and the artists have mostly done this as well, though there are a few who still have yet to post it themselves.  A few of these artists are actually fairly well-known among the furry community.  A while back, when I got that first adult picture, I ended up running across it on both of the galleries I named above, though without any of the context being included by the uploader.  When I got the adult second picture of myself a short while later, from a lesser-known artist, it never showed up on either, and in fact has yet to show up, despite it being “sexier” in my opinion(and at least one other person’s).

I got as far as registering an account at e621, but never got around to tagging it properly there, and I have yet to register at Herpy. I recently considered whether I should put up the other pictures, and decided to go poking using a well-known example.

Just like there are artists well-known for their quality and subject matter, there are also some dragons who have commissioned a lot of art from a lot of artists and have become rather well-known.  This was actually how I found some of the artists I’ve patronized: browse the gallery of some of these popular dragons and follow the images I like back to their source artist, and go from there.  Do this for long enough in one sitting you can even sort of start to see how the dragon artists and the more art-prolific dragons interweave in a huge web, and even between each other.

To name a specific example, Byzil is one I was aware of long ago(relatively) and one of the first dragons that I gallery-dived to find artists.  In this case, I used her art as a test to see what would show up on e621 and if any of it had come from the artist or the dragon herself. From a semi-random sampling, all of them were posted by others, and most of it was either of an adult nature, or on the cute end of the spectrum.

Just browsing any general subject on e621 it becomes very obvious that for most art to be uploaded it has to be either a) epic, b) erotic, or c) adorable.  Herpy is even easier to categorize, as the main board sections are split up by erotic content and the non-adult section is mostly full of fanart of well-known mainstream dragons e.g. Spyro and Eragon.  They do straddle the line a bit however as there are some artists that have their own personal galleries there as well, but that is not germane to the discussion at this time.

One thing I’ve considered is exposure.  With how fast the front page on most of the furry galleries moves, and with how much crud there is surrounding the decent pictures, it’s easy for new submissions to get lost without being noticed by a sizable amount of folks unless you’re already well-known, or the art is obviously very good.  There’s just so much content that the chances of someone stumbling on your gallery by accident are fairly low as well.

When you commission well-known artists however, folks who like your image might follow the link back to your gallery and follow you as well to see what other pictures you might commission. I know this is a thing as after a couple artists I’ve gotten art from I’ve had new watches as well for just this reason.  It gives you more exposure to the art, and what is the point of art if no one sees it?

Well these general galleries have even more exposure, but it’s of a different kind. There’s a lot of folks who just go to these sites just for new fap material, and the adult art of varying quality far outnumbers the “clean” art of any stripe on e621.  Herpy, well I went into that just a little bit further up.

This got me into wondering; do I want that sort of attention?

Some would say if I didn’t I should never have posted the pics I got, or for that matter have commissioned them in the first place.  Well, as I may have said, looking back I’ve realized I have a streak of exhibitionism, and this plays to that tendency.  I also have a tendency towards shyness as well among strangers, so that wars against that urge, which leads to the mixed feelings I have on the topic in general.  I guess you could say I like showing off, but on my terms.

Anyways, some of the comments I’ve seen on Herpy have gotten into the downright creepy range. Compliments are one thing, but making RP advances towards the subjects of the image are another entirely.  If this were just a random character, that would also reduce the impact; or for that matter, it might even be encouraged! In this case however, this IS me.  I would guess this must be what it feels like to be a moderately attractive young lady finding your picture online with creepy guys talking about how they’d like to bed you in various graphic ways.

Just like anyone can post images on them, anyone can post comments, so even if I posted an image myself I wouldn’t be able to moderate the comments if they started getting out of hand.  On the other hand, some of this art is just plain nice regardless of the content and I’d like to share it.  Especially if it’s by one of the underrated artists who get lost in the Catch-22 of getting attention in the first place.

For now, if it ends up there it ends up there, I think.  I won’t purposefully post anything at the moment, but if someone else does, it’s not like I have any control over it.  Once I get my new ref sheet and get another pic or two that I have in mind, I may post the other adult works that haven’t made it up, and just try and ignore any unwanted advances.  It’s not like they’ll ever have any option or opportunity to try to bed me, as that privilege belongs solely to my mate, whenever she wishes to claim it.

And after all as the saying goes, if you’ve got it, flaunt it!