Tag Archive for furry

Remembrance of Days Gone By

So I was just reflecting on as of this year, I’ve basically been sporting scales for 10 years.  That’s almost a full third of my life right now, and probably half the time I’ve been around furry content overall – though 9-9.5 of the remaining time was spent as a fox.

That set me thinking of commissioning a new art piece(not the one posted above) to commemorate 10 years of scales – maybe something transformation-related, going from one form to the other.  Still, it might get complicated if I included my snep chakat ‘sona I ran with for several months also, and if I should include my Arctic Wyvern that brought everything to critical mass.

You see, back in 2007 I started poking my snout around an area in Second Life called the Isle of Wyrms – I may have mentioned it here before. I found out about it from some other furs at an area based around the DMFA webcomic(shameless plug – www.missmab.com – been reading it for years!) as they had a couple adult dragon avatars from there and were showing them off at Lost Lake.

Now back then, you could buy the hatchlings and the wyrmlings(think feral dragon equivalent of teenagers) at any time, but the full-size adults were only available four times a year – on the solstices and equinoxes, and even then in limited numbers.  Once you owned one, you could buy the rest at any time for customization, but you had to get that first spot at one of the hatching events.  The idea was to try and make it something more special than just buying an av because it looked cool.  These were DRAGONS, and deserved something more special.

Because I was curious, I ended picking up a Astral Wyrmling, as it felt the most dragonlike to me, and toyed around with it a bit.  I’m fairly sure I talked about this a long while ago on here, so I won’t go into too much detail, but suffice it to say I went to check my logs to see when I had first gotten the Arctic Wyvern and found it was actually exactly 10 years ago yesterday.

As I probably said then, and in a tweet-chain that triggered this blog post, the Wyrmling may have opened the door a crack, but it was the Wyvern egg that slammed it all the way open and broke off the hinges.

There was a certain magic in the air that day – we were the testbed for the random selection that was used up until the final hatchings, replacing the old “who can click fastest before the sim crashes” method.  I like to think of it as letting fate and luck take the wheel more directly, as the former relied on reaction speed as well as luck on if the server would acknowledge it before the sim crashed.

We were spread across two sims due to population limits as the drawing began. There was tension at first as individuals were called out – at least until someone noticed that if you checked your registration token, it could tell you if you were one of the winners or not already.  The current version of the Cathedral was not complete yet, but this was the first chance many of us got to see it, as the eggs were located there to keep things under control.

Once we had our eggs, it was off to the sandbox to hatch them, wear the avatars, and tweak them to our specifications.  This is where the magic I spoke of was most felt – the becoming of wing and scale, tooth and claw.  Leaning to move in something much larger, how it worked, and sharing the joy and celebration of our new forms with all the other newly grown Wyverns.  This was also the premiere release of the Wyverns, which added another element of specialness to the whole event.

It’s kind of sad that the days of the hatchings are behind us now.  As time wore on, the crowds began to shrink, and eggs began to go unclaimed, until the decision was made to set the tradition aside as the amount of unclaimed eggs up for adoption had effectively removed the distinction. Folks who arrive at the Isles now seeking a draconic perspective will never truly get to experience the tension of waiting to see if you were chosen, the wonder of walking down the rows of IoW elders standing ceremonial guard to claim their new egg, and the joy and celebration of becoming alongside their wingbrothers and wingsisters as they explore their new selves.

There was several factors though that led to this, and I don’t know that any one of them changing would have made a difference.

  • Daryth, as far as I am aware, has effectively moved on – no new dragon or other avatar designs or updates have been released in years.  For her, this was her art, more than anything else, and as every artist knows, the muse can be a fickle thing.
  • Other creators have harnessed deformations and mesh to create technically superior(whether they are aesthetically is up to the viewer) avatars that were available 24/7, and a majority of Second Life I’d say would prefer that instant purchase and gratification rather than waiting months for a chance at one that isn’t even a certain win.
  • While people come and go, once you had the adult you didn’t need to enter again.  This meant that every hatching shrunk the pool of prospective dragons, and eventually that pool would be small enough to cause this sort of effect as well.

So while it was probably inevitable, I am still glad I got to experience a IoW hatching before it ended, and thankful for it as it helped me find myself, so to speak. The Isle itself and the community is still around after 11 years, which is practically an eternity in SL time. While the sun is no longer blotted out with dragon wings, there are many hatchies and other folk waiting to welcome a stranger into their fold, or welcome back old friends who may wing back from time to time.

With how many places I have visited in SL that have come and gone, there is still a certain peace in knowing there is still a home to return to.

I have seen things you people wouldn’t believe.

Sims crashing like dominos from a runaway grey goo attack. I’ve seen entire furry continents rise, only to fade away.  Dragons, spreading their wings for the first time under the shadow of Cathedral. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain.

Time to fly.

Honnou Kakusei! (Instincts Awaken!)

Among my various geek interests, I also have a distinct like for toku aka live-action Japanese superhero shows.  One of the long-running franchises, Super Sentai, gets brought over to the US as Power Rangers, but the others haven’t had much success.

This year’s super sentai actually has a furry theme, but funnily enough while the fandom talks up Zootopia I have yet to see any mention of Dobutsu Sentai(Animal Taskforce) Zyuohger outside of the usual toku circles.  While ZyuEagle is human, the other four are actual anthros, potentially with human disguises(they have human actors, need to see how that plays out).  We’ve got a male Lion with dreads, a male Elephant with a bit of a Indian flare, a female Shark who has a mature woman vibe about her, and a female Tiger who so far seems like a feline copy of Amy from Kyoryuger.  The music is hype too, the first 30 seconds of the opening were released, and I can’t stop listening to it!  About the only thing I don’t like is the mecha this time around are minecraftish.

This is probably the first sentai I’ve been hype about actually since Kyoryuger, and that took me a bit to warm up to because of how over the top it was.  Go-Busters was probably the last one I was hype for before it started.  ToQger I skipped entirely after watching the first episode, and Nininger has been just okay.

Speaking of toku, I’ve actually got a few other folk I know in RL watching it now, after using Garo as a gateway series.  I started with using Halloween as an excuse to marathon it, and they were hooked.  SO far they’ve watched everything except the two Ryuga seasons and the recent anime, but for a bit of a break I’m showing them Kamen Rider Gaim,  Turns out the main guy that was watching the stuff actually remembered the US adaption of Kamen Rider Black RX, just called Masked Rider over here.  I had Agito as a safer backup, since Gaim is a bit OTT to start also, but he was good with both, and I kind of want to rewatch Gaim – I’ve rewatched Agito maybe twice already.  Once those are both done, it’ll probably be time for Ryuga’s Garo seasons, then I might try either Gransazer, or Go-Busters.  Given most of those are 48 ep series, and we go through about 10-13 eps a night, that should provide enough for the next few months.

Game-wise because of said people I also re-subbed to WoW using in-game gold about 2 weeks ago. I’ve already made that gold back with alt garrisons, and I’m just a few Apexis dailies away from Draenor flying, so I’ll finish that this weekend probably.  After that, I’ll see what I need to roll to run with them, as that’s why I resubbed – though I also am runnign LFRs to finish my legendary.  I kind of don’t want to do real raiding anymore still, at least for now.  I got a server first on a Mythic raid end boss with a hardcore guild, and as far as I’m concerned I won WoW.  Doing that though killed my interest in raid, which is partly why I let WoW sit while I dabbled in Star Trek Online since April.

I am still playing STO too, just there hasn’t been anything much new since before the holidays.  There’s a anniversary event coming up though, and a new story episode focusing on the Temporal Cold War time shenanigans, which’ll be interesting.

Looking at WoW also reminded me that there was a pet in it linked to Heroes of the Storm – turns out you need to get to player level 20 for it.  I’ve started playing it, purely against low level AI and it’s actually kind of fun that way.  So far I’ve liked most of the heroes I tried, except Stiches.  Guess I’m just not a melee kind of guy in this game?  I didn’t expect to like Tassadar though, since he is support.

I also finally got myself a set of Telegram stickers, though it’s only part 1 of 2.  I didn’t have an idea for a full 22, so I only got 11, and now I’m just waiting for the artist to clear her queue so I can get the second set.  I’ve got enough of an idea now to get the rest, even if a couple of them are a bit weaker.  Even if I don’t use them all regularly in Telegram, in a way it’s like a bunch of smaller basic pictures for a decent price, so it’s not a bad thing at all.

llewelyn sticker set

More Trekkin’, More Writin’

So I hadn’t realized it had been so long since I wrote something, but I haven’t had too much to write about… at least on here.  My role at work did change a bit, making me busier than before, but not really anything worth sharing.

I did finally max all my Star Trek Online alts, giving me 8 characters at 60, and 1 empty character slot.  I actually have a character in mind for it, but since there’s no appropriate ship yet for her I’m holding off and working on filling out my alt builds completely.

I do like the fact that each one has a different build and ship type, with different armaments.  On paper this means they all play differently, but in practice there is a some overlap between my Romulans, as they both use forward-facing setups with narrow arcs. The same applies to my Federation ships, as despite one being a DPS focus, one a tank, and one a drain boat, all three are broadsiders and thus are piloted somewhat similarly, despite the difference in what and how they handle things.  My KDF toons are probably the most disparate, as one is a carrier with a focus on fighters, one is a siege-style ship based on sitting in one place and broadsiding, and the last one is a torpedo/Wave Motion Gun type build with very little pure energy weapon damage.

In the case of all my STO toons, the ship is as much a part of their character as the toon itself, extending to their bridge officers as well. At the moment, I’m finishing the bridge crew and away teams of a couple captains, then it’s on to ground gear and upgrading everything.  In some cases, I’m not quite as happy with the actual bridge crews, but I’ve been able to justify them so far, with a bit of creative thinking:

  • My Caitian Federation captain has a melting pot of the “best” space and ground boffs.  Federation inclusiveness is a go, even if it is a bit of a stretch.
  • My Draenei Fed captain runs an all-Draenei ground crew.  The bridge crew is 2 Draenei, a Dwarf(using the Alien race), 2 semi-Night Elves(using Romulans) and the Heirarchy officer from the Delta stories. 1 non-Warcraft race is probably fine, I feel, as I could see them allowing a token representative to observe the Alliance in action.
  • My Borg Fed captain has a ground crew of 2 borg, a borg-looking Android, and a hologram, and most of them are on the space crew, plus a couple Romulans as it is originally a Romulan ship.  One of the easiest to justify and have good boffs.
  • My Gorn KDF with the carrier has an all-Gorn away team and an all-Naussicaan bridge crew.  In my mind they’re not truly KDF, so the Nausicaans are probably rebels as well. They do look similar in some ways, as well.
  • My Talaxian KDF is a pirate, with a Orion(looking) ground crew and Nausicaans above, though I’ll be adding a couple Romulans and a Hierarchy.  Pirates explains it all!
  • My Ferasan KDF is actually loyal to the Kzinti/Lyran state(noticing a pattern?) and will have an all Ferasan ground crew when I’m done.  Space crew is again the ubiquitous Nausicaans-for-hire.
  • My Fed-aligned Romulan is a Romulan supremecist and has a pure Romulan crew, apart from a Romulan-looking android and hologram, both fo which I consider Romulan-programmed.
  • My KDF-aligned Romulan was originally based off of Clan Jade Falcon from a different franchise, but I couldn’t really make a theme work on that so he’s another “Rebel” of sorts, his ship being crewed by Romulan and Gorn. (Which amuses me since they were enemies in Star Fleet Battles and it’s derivitaves.)

Setting aside STO somewhat, I’m also finally getting my first piece of art in several months – a picture of the chakatverse version of my STO Caitian, M’Rel, as she is the star of the chakatverse story I’m writing.  Originally she was created in STO as a stand-in for Swiftwind, as I just couldn’t see the chakat as a starship captain, but she’s grown into her own and the story that originally was going to focus on Swiftwind pivoted around to a slightly different concept and crew.

Now, the original story idea I had may still ahppen after this one, but I’ve been writing on and off on it since April or May probably.  I’ll write a bunch, then let it sit a while, then come back to it again.  It’s back to slow writing at the moment I’m afraid with my focus on STO and not being in a writing mood, but hopefully I’ll finish it within the next few months – I’m hoping the picture may help my inspiration.

I’ve also been sorely tempted to post it part by part on this blog, which may help in getting me to finally finish the thing.  My one fear in doing that is that with how long I’m taking writing it, that I may not pace it appropriately, or for that matter if I don’t actually finish it.  I am close enough to the end though that that should not be a concern.

Either way, we’ll see what lies ahead, especially with a new STO “season” starting in two to three weeks, which is also when my picture will likely be finished by…

Digital Doppelgangers

I’m actually in a rather bemused state of mind as I write this.  You see, I recently got some arts(which I’ll post at the end of this) and I usually make a habit of backtracking on people who fav or watch me on FA to see if they have anything favorited or submitted that I might want to fav and save.  Especially recently, when I was looking for chakat artists, and found not very many that had an artstyle I liked.

To digress, a good way I’ve found to find artists of a particular subject matter is find notable furries(or popufurs I guess is the slang) of that type and see who they commissioned.  That’s one of the reasons I don’t think it’s a bad thing that some artists give “popufurs” free art – it acts as free advertising!

Anyways, as I was about to close out, I saw a porn piece with a very familiar-looking chakat in it, so I followed it up.  On closer examination, it looked almost exactly like my chakat character, but the name was different!  There was no link to any account however, but now I was wondering if someone had taken my arts and rebranded them as theirs; especially since that chakat’s name was fairly close in nomenclature to mine.

This actually happens more of then than you might think in the furry world, though more often it’s someone claiming to be an artist that drew such rather than stealing the character, but character theft has been known to happen before.  Let me finish the story though before I get into what I want to say on that.

I tried a search on FA and found a couple other pics, but again no account, so as a last resort I tried google.  That led me to another DA pic that had been removed at some point.   Now the pic I had stumbled on was a very recent upload, so the chakat in question had to still be active somewhere, but I was running out of links.  Finally, I found a reddit post from a few months ago that explained it all.

Basically, the guy got in on a free art thread but didn’t have a ref sheet, so he pointed the artist at an old pic of mine and listed a few changes that were different about his.  It was just a case of the artist not catching everything(which is understandable on freebie art) and that just getting propogated.

That old pic he referred to was a bit off(though close enough and good enough at the time!) and since then I’ve made another small change myself; more an emphasizing of a trait on that character that I hadn’t before(and I don’t mean breast size!).

End result is there are two snow leopard ‘kats out there with purple hair and wind-based names – just one(mine) ties hirs up sometimes and has blue eyes and a stripe along hir back, while the other has a darker purple, purple eyes, and no stripe.  It just that at least one or two of the artists shi’s commissioned have missed that(mostly the eyes) and at first blush the ‘kat int eh picture could be mistaken for my character.

To be fair though, I haven’t been active much in the chakat online community for years; not since I woke to my inner dragon.  I only recently decided to revive and revamp my chakat character as an actual separate character, rather than as a ‘sona/identity at my internal muse’s prodding, hence the couple recent pieces of art.  That was aprt fo teh reason I thought shi might have been appropriated.

Anyways, like I said it left me slightly bemused. It could have been coincidence, but in this case it was more inspiration I think, and not that far off from what a lot of fan characters do: take some traits and file off the serial numbers.  And I’m fairly sure this chakat isn’t a helmsman on a Stellar Federation cruiser, and shi definitely doesn’t have a Starwalker stellar foxtaur mate, both of which apply to mine – once I can get the story written!

It’s just a bit of a strange feeling to be looking through pictures and find porn that looks 95% like you(or my character in this point), with a different name.  Not quite Rule 34 territory, but edging there.

It also brings to mind other issues, such as the fact some doppelgangers could end up out there by chance!  With how many red foxes are out there for example, it’d be fairly easy to describe one decently and end up matching at least a half-dozen.  If it wasn’t for the purple hair(which isn’t too common in and of itself) and the chakat community being so small, I probably wouldn’t have thought anything of it, or at least enough to track down why shi looked like my chakat.

Sadly though, I’ve heard stories of more popular folks having their characters or ‘sonas copied wholesale.  Usually this results in the actual owner posting something which gets the word out, and approaching the admin on the site of the copy.

I’ve also heard at least one story of someone trying to “buy” someone else’s ‘sona.  That didn’t even used to be a thing way back when, but then the idea of “adoptables” went big i.e. buying pre-made characters.  I never got that anyways, but there are some folks I guess who see a character design and jsut fall in love with it.

But as someone else pointed out, in regular society you get told who you are, while in furry you tell everyone else.  In a world where identity is that fluid, where does identity theft, as such, fall?  Just something to think about.

And now, I leave you with chakat arts!

Swiftwind dancing on the Rec Deck of the FSS Excalibur

Swiftwind dancing on the Rec Deck of the FSS Excalibur

Swiftwind in a fancy flight suit

Swiftwind in a fancy flight suit

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

Moods

I’m writing this as I random-dial stargates in Second Life for lack of anyplace to go. Every so often I seem to get into one of these moods – I want to do something, but don’t know what.  I want to hang with people but don’t know who or where.  It’s like this itch in the back of the mind that I just can’t quite scratch.

It usually seems to strike when I’m between “projects” as such, or the end of one is in sight and I don’t have another already in mind.  I detailed in a previous post how I got a bunch of crap done during my vacation at the end of the year.  I’ve done as much organization of my place as I can until it’s about time to move into whatever place I end up moving into.  I actually am synchronizing my SF, FA, and Weasyl galleries, but I’m doing it paced, and I’ve only got 3 story series left before that’s done.  I could go finish sorting my art, but I just think of how much there is and lose motivation.

Mention of a possible alt run in my WoW guild did get me moving a bit on my mage, but I finished all the available dungeons, and I’m still 88, and don’t feel fussed enough to quest right now on that toon and do the same tasks for the 10th time.  I’m caught up on all my shows.

I got nothin’.

I thought maybe I’d hop on SL a bit, maybe hang out, but IoW still doesn’t have much in the way of hangouts.  I got to hang with some tinies and hatchies playing a game of Aggrivation while I caught this week’s MLP ep, but they all moved on, and like I mentioned before, outside IoW I have no idea where to go, being a scaly dragon type.  I’m not looking for medieval RP or random sex, and all the old dragon hangouts are mostly gone.  Almost all my old furry hangouts are too.

And thus, dialing random stargates and seeing where I end up.  So far, I’ve encountered one good build:  A recreation of Twilight Town on par with that of Midgard in the sim of the same name.  Coincidentally, that’s the only place I’ve run into people actually talking anywhere nearby.

I hate feeling like this.

I could just go to bed, but that also feels like a waste.  There’s plenty of day(even if no daylight) left!  If I could just figure out what to do.  It’s like slogging through a quagmire looking for the way out of the forest when you don’t know which way is north.  So I figured maybe if I start writing something it’ll get it out of my system or at least point me in the right direction.

One thing I did read today that resonated with me was someone else complaining about loneliness, but with the caveat that he’s actually usually happy when alone, and he has plenty of friends and such, but it doesn’t help.  Someone else responded that loneliness can actually come from two different things: either you’re looking for more connections with other people(which people usually assume it is) or deeper connections.  It seems like most people just dismiss the second completely, leading to the “I’ve got all the friends in the world, so why am I lonely?” quandry.

On looking back, I feel I definitely fit in the latter category.  I’m a bit of an introvert, so lots of friends has never been my thing. Looking back at times I’ve felt lonely, it’s usually because I haven’t had those deeper friendships(or more) at that time, or at least said friends weren’t around.  If a dragon cries out but no one hears, does anyone care?

I’ve also never been big on big groups for the same reason.  Smaller groups are great; I can hang with them, listen to the conversation and join in when I have something to say, whether intelligent or just a bad pun. And we all know bad puns are the best kind!

It’s also kind of funny how many places in SL will fit a dragon, even if it might be a bit cramped.  It seems like it’s only rarely that I end up somewhere where I’d be hitting my head or pokeing up into the next floor above, even though most stuff is built for a human frame.

I also think I might be a bit prejudiced against humans and near-humans in SL. 😮  Part of that though is because a lot of people with normal human avs are walking around with a cork and two sequins, placement optional, in proportions that either are ultimate supermodel, or teetering on the edge of uncanny valley.  The other part I guess may be a bit of subconscious “if you can be anything you want, why limit yourself?”  That could easily go the other way as well though, and I bet that if I hung around in some of the places with humans and near-humans being the majority, that they might look askance at my draconity… once they get past how awesome an av it is, that is!

Then there’s also the groups that assume its roleplay.  For some people the idea of being yourself meaning being something other than human is hard to get a grasp on, I guess the same way I see about people who just take their RL look and tweak it in SL.  But it is what it is, and I know that too, even if it bugs me on some level.  I know it’s not fair, but that doesn’t stop it anyways, though I’m pretty good at burying it.

In other news, I’m working on getting more artses.  Found out one of the artists on my list actually is open for work, and just waiting to hear back now.  With moving on hold and being caught up on Transformers until HTS gets the new stuff in, I got plenty of money for art again.

While I’m ranting, I’m going to admit I don’t get what’s so hot about YCH(Your Character Here) auctions.  95% of the time it’s a mostly finished picture of two folks porking and all that’s done is instead of the artist having to come up with a species/markings set, he just recolors it like whomever won it.  More power to the artist for making extra bank on something that simple, but I just don’t get it.

Now the other 5% I can understand, and see as fine:  that being there’s some huge crowd scene for a story illustration or something along those lines, and the author is offering cameos to people who might want in.  That, I get.  But random porn with no link to anything, and likely no choice in your “partner” (as the other slot is probably a YCH too)?

Adoptables also fall into that category as well.  I can understand commissioning a character for something, even if I see it as lacking in imagination.  Offering a new species for people to make characters of?  *eyes all the sergals and chakats* Done, and done. But creating a character and selling *rights* to that character?  Selling the artwork is fine, but I don’t think a lot of the people really get it.  First off, the legality of such a thing is shady, but putting that aside, what’s to stop someone else who likes the concept from creating one of their own?  Let me just put this bright pink fox-thing with blue wings over here next to all the other bright pink fox-like things with blue wings.

Maybe I’m just cynical from being a greymuzzle and having been around furry stuff for over 15 years, compared to all the fresh 18-24-somethings glomming onto it all starry-eyed and bushy-tailed.  Some furry types are common for a reason, so when someone likes it and wants to be all “Look at me I’m a special snowflake” they try and twist it, just like all the other snowflakes and end up with something that’s been done 10 times over. Taste the rainbow of fur colors!  Instant demon/dragon/other-badass, just add horns, or bat/dragon wings.

Yes, I realize the irony of a blue dragon with foxish(or Eastern dragon, depending on perspective) features complaining about this.  I didn’t choose it to be different, I went with it because it felt natural and like myself.  I’m also sure there are furs out there that ended up with a somewhat common form from the same reasoning.  You’ll have to forgive me though if I don’t believe that when you have a fox-cat-skunk-dragon that looks like a box of crayons threw up on it.  There’s a term for that sort of fursona, but I can’t recall it right now, or enough of it to google up the term.

Damn, I sound old and crotchety, don’t I?  Like I should be waving a shotgun and telling them damn kids to get off my lawn.  Meh, who needs a shotgun when you’re like 20 feet tall, armored with scales, and have teeth and claws? 😀  Forget the breath weapon though, that’s never really gelled well with me – to the point I joke about the “IoW Spirit” one I use in my av as my breath just being minty fresh.

I guess that’s enough ranting for now.  I’m feeling better, and it’s time to post the next batch of stories.  Oh, and Singles Awareness Day is coming up, so remember to hit the stores the day after for lots of cheap chocolate!

Everything in Its Place

As I’ve mentioned previously, one of my longer term projects was organizing my Images folder, containing everything from Autobots to zat-guns.  Most of that is also completed, as I stated earlier, leaving pretty much just the arts of the fur.   The problem is now that I’m torn on how I want to go about it again.

When I first started, I pretty much kept everything segregated by artist.  Great if I wanted to find a certain style, or remembered who did a certain pic, but it was all spread out over many folders, even leaving some with just one or two files.

I got tired of maintaining that, and had gone to more f-chan style, organizing by the content type, and then somewhat by Species.  I say only somewhat because I never finished reorganizing, leaving about half the images in artist folders, and some in the content folders never got sorted by species.  It also doesn’t help I didn’t know how to handle pics with multiple characters.

I didn’t want to have to browse to every folder when I saved files, so I just saved to a New folder to move later.  For a while, this worked, but then I got lazy about this too and eventually filled the new folder with a mixture of all types of images.

This left me with some images in artist folders, some in New, and some in the content folders.  I was stuck on a good way until I recalled that gThumb has tagging capabilities, so when this reorganization started I had planned to go back with the artist folders, tag everything else on the images, and make liberal use of gThumb’s search function.

I got started on that, and then actually began to realize how many images I had.  It’s something I can do over a period of time, but I also had a bunch of art I don’t know the artist for, which I’ve acquired from various sites.  I originally was going to put this under Unknown Artist and go back to content folders under that.

However, I recently came across some discussion of this sort of thing, and one of the ways they sorted theirs was by species.  This would actually be a fairly clean way to do it I think, and provides for better integration of folders for taurs and such things that defy standard classification.  It also may make it easier to find a specific type or art I might want to look for.

If I go this way though, I’d still want to tag the content tags on it, and I’m not sure how I should handle the artist.  I’d still want that information somewhere, but I don’t know if it’d be better to put it in the image metadata or just in the filename(for those images not from FA).  I’m already using the description field in the image metadata to store character information, if it’s a picture of one of the usual commonly commissioned characters, such as Byzil or Slither.

So in short, I went from Point A, to partway to point B, stopped at a rest stop, started to go back to point A, and now I’m looking at an exit ramp to point C and pondering  drive times.

I’ve asked a few times on FA, but since I don’t post much of anything of course I don’t really get much int he way of responses.  I’m seriously considering the last method though – I just need to figure out how to handle artist data.  And do it before my current New folder ends up like my last one. <..<

“D”, DD, and Dragon Myself Around

First off, probably going to get into some mature subject matter, so be prepared!

I just recently found out about a new manga called D.Y.N. Freaks.  It just started back middle of last year I believe, but it’s not only by the author of Demonbane, it features the big “D” himself, after a fashion!

For those not familiar, Demonbane is basically a Super Robot VN(Visual Novel) borrowing heavily from HP Lovecraft.  Put simply, the protagonist works with a living embodiment of the Necronomicon to take half of the powers of the Lovecraft universe and use them as weapons in a giant robot against the other half in the middle of Arkham.  The original “game”(as VNs are basically choose-your-own-adventure novels in the form of a PC program) was also an adult game, with plot-related sex scenes, which honestly are mostly played for humor than anything else.  They put out a all-ages-friendly version of it too, as well as a semi-sequel, but only the adult version was ever translated to English.  They also made an anime version, but it cut out half the plot and some major characters, so it ends up rather disjointed if you aren’t already familiar with the story from the VN.

This manga appears set in one of the Demonbane universes(and I can’t really explain that without spoilers), but in Y City.  It involves some artifacts of the various Elder Gods and Outer Beings that have infected people, making them into “mages” who can access that power, or get used by it. From the four chapters translated so far, the D is for Demonbane, the Y is for a mage who has the pwoers of Yog Sottoth, and the N is for the third main character, who dons the mask of Nyarlathotep.  He puts out a sort of Kamen Rider vibe, especially considering he has the Hunting Horror, a souped-up magical bike that was only in one of the Demonbane story paths.

Either way, more Demonbane action gets me very hype.  Now I just have to wait for more to get scanlated.

The second point I wanted to cover was the double-D or why the heck everyone seems to love oversized breasts.  (I said it might cover some mature stuff!)  It’s not that I don’t find breasts attractive, but they have to match the body they’re on!

I guess it comes down to proportions.  For smaller girls, a smaller bust is just fine.  If you’re a twig, you shouldn’t have balloon breasts the size of your head!  On the other hand, if you’ve got some meat on your bones, bring on the C and D cups!  Maybe DD too, but after that you start hitting the “too much of a good thing” level, unless you’re getting further into fantasy races.  (Then again, there are some who say anything more than a nice handful is a waste – but then how big are your hands?)

There’s also anthromorphization of existing characters where it can get distasteful real fast too.  I was poking around Second Life and came across some MLP furry avatars where someone had made them all very well-endowed.  In my opinion, a lot of those didn’t really fit for what I would envision, if you were trying to stay true to the character.  But instead, you end up with the “if it’s female, must attach huge bazongas!” approach.

Taurs have the body-mass to balance a larger bustline visually though, I have to admit.  As for dragonesses – if they’re anthro, my above guidelines stay.  If you’re dealing with a standard quad(“feral”) dragon, then no.  Just, no.

I’m not sure if I really made a point there but I wanted to get it off my chest. (*snrk*)

I also managed to get in touch with some of the other old-time folks from the Isle of Wyrms in SL, and Limbo actually did used to be Lyre.  The original Cathedral and Limbo sims had to go because of tier prices, so Daryth converted Hedgetopia to a new Cathedral sim, and Lyre became Limbo.  The first move was already done, but Limbo is still waiting for a rebuild to turn it back into itself.  Gertie and a few of the hatchies also bought one of the other sims, to “keep it in the family.”

I then went through to see what still existed of my old landmarks, and ended up deleteing at least half of them.  There were a few of those places that I was sad to see go:

  • Lost Furest is completely gone.  Cheetah took a slightly longer break than I did, and it closed down in the meantime, but she plans to get another sim eventually, someday.
  • I took a longer look at Furnation.  They had to do the same as IoW, and the current Prime sim isn’t the original Prime sim.  The two sandbox sims are gone, leaving a single sandbox crammed back into Prime’s space.  All the rest has gone to either residential, or a (admittedly very pretty) natural park area.  There’s still a few landmarks there though I recognize, such as the Luxor pyramid, the not-a-sphinx, and Club Fur.  Heck, I have a screenshot from early 2006 of me entering Club Fur!
  • The Sci-Fi museum at Indigo is sadly no more.  They had some awesome displays, including a to-scale model of a Klingon Bird of Prey you could walk around in.
  • Arador is completely gone.  It was one of the few non-RP places that dragons congregated at that I knew of.
  • Not really a sim per se, but Reverie Animations is completely gone now from SL.  They had some great animations at decent prices, but there’s no more stores of theirs in SL anymore, anywhere.
  • Also in that vein, the stores for Aventity Avatars, whose fox provided the ears for my avatar, seem to have disappeared.  Where the main store used to sit is now part of Furnation’s natural park area.

After that, I did do a little exploring using the search function, to try and find someplace else to hang out at.  I didn’t have much luck with that, but I found a few things:

  • Midgar is still Midgar i.e. FF7 RP bonanza.  It was packed on the map, but I wasn’t looking for RP, so I didn’t stop by.  They’ve been going however since 2006.
  • The awesome life-size mecha statues are still in the Akira sim, though they’ve been cut back a lot.  Now it’s just Daitarn 3 and the rusted Dougram, with no sign of Grendizer or the other two that had been there.
  • The Monster’s Garage store with all the Ultraman-related avatars is still there, but no new avatars still from when I was there last over 2 years ago.
  • The maker of my Sidetrack transforming Micromaster avatar is still around and has added a ton of new Micromaster avatars(and some Minicons too).  If I wasn’t watching my spending, I could probably blow a lot there easily.
  • Grendel’s is still around, but with fewer sims again
  • Sylver’s Kinzart Kreetures store is still kicking, and a lot bigger than it used to be.
  • The Dr Who-related sim, the Three Minute City, is still around also.  Didn’t stop by there this time however as I haven’t been keeping up with New Who.
  • I also found a great mecha-based sim with it’s own combat system and a lot of designs derived from Battletech(but not all).  They even have a free Kit Fox/Uller av to start you off!(And a Hatchetman too.)
  • The only two non-RP, non-store places that mentioned Dragons other than as a generic place were Ryu Valley, which apparently still has its awesome Macro room, and The Scaly Spot, which from the description was a sex/dance club for scalies and scalie lovers.  The former was fairly empty(and I didn’t see a way to the Macro room, though I didn’t look too hard because of that) and the only ones I saw at the latter club were “escorts.”

That sort of leads to another pet peeve of mine, or at least it reminded me it existed: why are most gathering places some combination of sex club, dance club, or RP?  There’s not a lot of places where you can just chill and chat about random things, it just seems like.  It seems like a lot of furry places especially end up as combination sex/dance clubs – at least the ones with any sort of population(barring Luskwood, which has been around forever).  Maybe I’m just getting too old for this, but where are all the sane, not-constantly-horny, intelligent folks at?

And where did all the dragons go?

I Am Dragon

I’m just as human as everyone else here, unless someone invented AI and didn’t tell the rest of the world.  And yet, I still call myself dragon as well. Why?  It all comes back to identity.

As I said in my previous entry, quite a few people’s self-images are simply idealized images of their physical bodies.  They tie themselves very tightly to the here-and-now.  Separate themselves from their body, and they would still take that general form.  Just so I don’t have to keep typing “idealized self-image” over and over, I’m going to borrow a term I came across elsewhere and call it their soulshape.

Then you have furries.  Excluding those who simply enjoy the art, a lot of them take on a furry persona aka fursona.  For some, this is simply the above example, but with an animal head, tail, fur, and sometimes wings.  Sometimes the animal(s) chosen is because of some attribute assigned to that type, such as foxes being sly, or wolves being loners or pack animals.  Other times, it’s just because they like some aspect about that kind of critter, such as a snow leopard’s overly fluffy tail.  Still, for a lot of them, if you ask them to picture themselves in their mind’s eye without any further detail, you can bet their mental image is their fursona.  It may have been a conscious decision or unconscious reactions due to using it all the time, but gradually a lot of them make it part of themselves, of their identity, over time.

You can probably thank the internet in part for that.  As it grew, people were able to meet and talk, in real-time, without any physical representation of themselves other than what they may choose.  Before that, you could only interact with others in meatspace, and there you were stuck with what you were given at birth. Now however, thanks to cyberspace, you can represent yourself however you wish, allowing formerly hidden facets to be displayed and come to light.

With the ability for identity to be more fluid and not forced into a single bodyplan, more outre combinations began to show up as well.  One well-known example is the race of chakats, created by Bernard Doove.  His race of tauric felinoid hermaphrodites(wow, that’s a mouthful) were created in their entirety originally by him, complete with a culture of sorts as well, and a lot of people dove into it with a will.  No doubt some were for sexual reasons, but there are a lot of “chakats” out there who recognized that it was a good representation of how they felt about themselves(setting aside the felitaur portion of things).  Human representations of hermaphrodites usually either fall into fetish material or “uncanny valley” territory, but furry provides an outlet for those who do feel themselves as both male and female, and a pre-built framework such as the chakats provides a handy tool for that sort of thing.  There’s also other bits of their culture as well, such as the multi-tiered approach to relationships that a lot have found fitting, and have adopted for themselves.

Then there are those who have gone a step beyond even that in their exploration of their identity: therians and otherkin.  Where the furries are usually human+, ‘kin tend to identify as non-human, period.  Whether that be a wolf who was reincarnated as a human, or an elf who was simply born in the wrong body, or simply a person with a dragon spirit along for the ride in your body, they all have that aspect in common:  their physical body has nothing to do with who they are, apart from acting as a filter.

To use a computer analogy, most people run Human OS on Human hardware.  Furries run a furry shell over Human OS on Human hardware.  ‘Kin run <whatever> OS on Human hardware.

Needless to say, this causes a lot of drama and confusion, as the masses who may not grasp the concept point and laugh, saying they’re stupid because if you look at them, they’re obviously human!  This then is fueled by the ‘kin in question flatly denying it(because as far as they’re concerned, they aren’t), leading to much trolling on the human side, and much wailing about “evil humans” and “fursecution” on the ‘kin side.

Not all ‘kin, however, renounce humanity and try to separate themselves completely from it. There are plenty of well-adjusted ‘kin out there who do acknowledge that they’re running on human hardware, regardless of how well it fits their soulshape, to mix terms and metaphors.  They just tend to be less noticeable than the more vocal “humans are evil!” crowd.

Then there are also those who use otherkin/therian as another mask, rather than the taking off of one that the idea suggests.  Typically these are younger folk who have had a troubled life of some kind, and are trying to find a way to run away and hide,  They come across the concept, and then you end up with the “OMG I was a dragon in a past life that was a king and a wizard, and every night I must fight secret astral wars against the hordes of Chaos to prevent them reaching the real world and I’m the only one who can do this because I’m super special awesome!”  Just, no.

In otherkin circles this is known as fluff, and the degree to which its tolerated depends on the community. Most of this type will move on after a few years, as they realize that they’re merely running away from themselves, rather than trying to truly examine and reveal who they are.  There are always those who after shaving all the fluff off still find that the shoe fits, and they tend to become the second type I mentioned as they re-integrate themselves.

It all comes back to identity.  Everything I’ve discussed so far is just labels, and as I said in the previous entry, labels are dangerous.  Again, however, that’s something better discussed as a topic all its own, so I won’t get into it here either.  The point I’m trying to get at however, is that our soulshape is a major part of our identity, like it or not.

Bringing it back full circle, where does that leave me?  Yes, I’m human, but like some of the examples above, my soulshape is not.  When I close my eyes and try to picture myself, I have to work at it to imagine my human body, and a much easier time picturing the dragon you see in various places on this site.  When I look in the mirror, I know it’s me, and my mind tells me it’s me.  Yet, it doesn’t feel like me, if that makes any sense.  It’s a part of my identity, my self, but it doesn’t feel as significant as my dragonself.

Maybe a little history will help.  Years and years ago, when I was younger, I had gotten into furry, but I had yet to come up with a fursona.  I, like a lot of others, liked wildcats and wolves, but neither really fit.  The I realized or came across the idea that foxes were halfway-between the two.  (It also helped that I considered myself somewhat smart, and foxes were known for being sly.)  When I finally started venturing out online, I combined that with a ranger character I had created for my representation out on the interwebs.

The RP portions fell away pretty quickly, but the fox part stuck, and stuck with me for several years. Still, like I mentioned above, it was generally my physical self with fox head, tail, and fur.  (I sometimes even had a tendancy to base the fur color on my hair color, since I am a redhead.) Then, I encountered Second Life.

My first fox avatar was fairly cruddy, as things go, but over several months I fine-tuned it to be closer and close to what I then considered my soulshape, even if I did not see it or consider it such back then.  Once it was all exact however, it still did not feel… complete.  Then a friend of mine introduced me to ‘taurs.

I then experimented a bit with them, to the point of creating a chakat character.  I basically asked myself if I was going to be a chakat, what would I be?  Once the newness wore off however, it was not very long before I lost interest in the character as a representation and shed it from my identity like a snake shedding its skin as it grows.

When I returned to Second Life, I tried a dragon avatar and found it a decent fit, as I’ve said before.  I also met one of my ex-girlfriends at around the same time, and at her request I pulled the fox avatar back out again for a while, to match her black vixen fursona.  It worked, but I found it didn’t fit quite right anymore, like trying to put on a pair of old pants after having lost 60 pounds.

Still, I found myself reluctant to give up the fox portion of my identity, as it had been a part of me for at least 6 or 7 years(longer, really), and for all I knew at the time, the dragon stuff might only have been a phase like ‘taurs were.  So, I decided to try blending the two.

Using various avatars as tools, I started modding and tweaking, trying to distill it down.  Rather than furry crossbreed legos, I was aiming for a complete blend.  A clear, perfect facet of myself, an answer to the question “Who are you?”.  Looking at the past 7 years, you could say that I’ve succeeded.

Ironically, what started as an attempt to preserve the “foxiness” has in the end almost entirely eliminated it.  Honestly, my dragonself is really foxlike in name only, as any features atypical of a Western-style dragon could just as easily be attributed to Eastern-style dragons.  I actually find this very fitting symbolicly, considering how I’ve grown up in the Western world but I’ve also internallized quite a bit of the Far East(or at least Japan) as well.  There’s other symbolic parallels I could name, but this entry is long enough as it is.

I also know for sure that Second Life is not the cause, as between work and WoW, I basically did not touch SL for about 2 years before returning for a short bit this past week. Even still, I never felt the need to stop representing myself as such in that time, and my dragon avatar still fit like a glove(within SL’s limitations) when I logged in.  I am human, but like it or not, I am also dragon.

FYIAD - Deal with it.

*puts on sunglasses*

FurAffinity vs SoFurry vs Weasyl

Hopefully this post will be a bit shorter since for once this isn’t an end-of-day post, but something that had been on my mind as something I wanted to discuss.  Now I’m not exactly an artist, as I haven’t drawn anything in years, but I have written some stories here and there.  I’ve also commissioned some art in the past and more recently, just to give you an idea of where I’m coming from in my opinions.  A heavy user/artist might look at things differently, etc etc.

FurAffinity

One of the oldest art sites still running, bar VCL(if it still exists) and Furnation(If that really counts, as it is more of a general webhost).  Over time due the the lack of a TwitSpaceBook site for the furry community, the community sort of shangahied it into that role, despite the best(and continuing) efforts of the admins.  Their intention is a place to put up art that was done “by you/for you” but over time they’ve narrowed that definition, and clarified parts of it.

For example, Second Life.  Originally, there were very few restrictions on what could be uploaded of SL pictures, then there started to be a large force of furs who put up random pictures of their stock avatar(about 75% of the time probably in a sexual pose).  This annoyed a vocal minority of users who disliked Second Life in and of itself, and the admins added a restriction to the number of shots you could have of each avatar.  Eventually that wasn’t enough and they then moved to only allowing collages and requiring a significant amount of user modifications.  Their justification each time was that the users could post the pics on Imageshack or TwittTumblrBook if they wanted to share them as there was no creativity involved, and there were too many for them to police themselves.

Eventually, they banned SL content all together on everyone’s main gallery, despite there being actual heavy creative work involved whether modding(like my avatars) or work form scratch, just because they didn’t want to deal with the arguments and fights any longer.  All because some users wanted to post pictures of “themselves” and their friends, just like they would on any other social networking site.

In the years since I found the site, it has changed very little on the outside.  A new color scheme, but mostly lots of back-end work to keep up with the heavy demand.  There was talk years ago of a FA 2.0 but so far it has yet to materialize.  The front page layout lends itself well to art of a visual nature, taking top billing, with seperate sections below for literature and for audial art.  All it shows though is a bunch of thumbnails, but mousing over gives a small pop-up of the description, not leaving you totally in the dark.  It also only shows the most recent uploads on the front page.

User pages are fairly basic as well, with places for your most recent favorites, most recent uploads, a shoutbox, a spot to feature your favorite submission, a slot for a visual profile ID thing(one of the few actual new features I can recall being put in), and a spot above it for all the text and icons you may want to put in.  In practice, from what I said above about the community looking at it more as a social networking site than a pure art site, that profile box will sometimes take up a full monitor screen’s worth of space before you get to any submissions as they try to squeeze in all the detail they would normally have elsewhere.  it’s also the only place you really have any customization beyond that provided.

Overall, it probably compares favorably to DeviantArt, with less customization on the user profiles, and some disagreement between the admins and the userbase on the purpose of the site.

SoFurry

Once upon a time this was purely an erotic story archive called YiffStar, before it changed hands and became the more general art site it is today.  This has both good and bad points, but one theing they haven’t done is stay stagnant, with a 3.0 of the current site already in testing.

The front page has changed with the versions, and true to its roots it feels a lot more suited to posting stories than either FA or Weasyl.  In large part this is because the stories submission, instead of just giving you a thumbnail, gives you a title, 5-star rating, and tags to give you an idea of what the story is about.  It also gets even billing with the art at the top of the page, though still separated.  Art is shown as thumbnails still, but that is also fitting.

The purpose of thumbnails, you see, is that it’s supposed to give you a quick idea of the contents of the submissions so you can decide if you want to actually look at it or not, rather than making it a throw of the dice.  i’d argue that their current approach to story submissions is really the text version of a thumbnail, and more appropriate for the medium than a possibly somewhat-related random picture in a tiny square.

Below that, they have photos and music separated out into their own sections.  I kind of like that they have photos separated, as it leans towards preventing the kind of kerfluffle that led towards a lot of FA’s restrictions.  The photos have normal thumbnails(as is proper) but the music has tags and rating, like the stories.  If it were me, I’d probably have a 10-sec or 15-sec clip you can play from there to act as a true music “thumbnail”.

Another nice trick is that they have an option to view the most “popular” submissions, instead of most recent.  It is the default as well, however, so it somewhat ends up in a feedback loop that drives certain submissions higher and higher.  It’s sad to say(and I wish it were otherwise) that if you were to look at it with all filters off, maybe twice in a week will there be something non-sexual in the “most popular” section.  Still, they also provide true filters(working via the tagging system) so you can hide what you don’t want to see, and the algorithm that picks what to display will adjust accordingly.

The user page itself is similar to FA’s, but with a bit more customization.  Stories take top billing here, and content is again separated by type, as opposed to FA”s “lump it all together”.  Journals are moved to the bottom, discouraging use of it as a blogging platform.  In addition to avatars, you can add a banner here as well across the top of the profile page, and both banners and avatars will automatically adjust what is available based on the maximum rating you set; from G all the way to X.

That all said, the preview of the 3.0 version of the site I’m not sure is better.  Rather than having all the media separated by type, it puts them all together, fitted into a grid ala Windows 8. There is supposed to be a list option too, but no preview of that yet.  Stories will have all the current information it looks like, but with a short description added, and possibly limited on the number of displayed tags(as that part isn’t clear).  You can still toggle between the various types instead.  Bio/profile and journal also share space, with a toggle, which I’m not so sure is an improvement.  Favorites don’t appear to have a display by default at all, just a link to get to them.  It all feels like a lateral move rather than a straight improvement(apart from the fact it fixes some scaling issues).

Overall, great site for stories compared to the others, but if you’re looking for visual art, it tends to be a bit of a second-class citizen in some respects.  The redesign coming aims to fix that, but we’ll see if the story focus is still there, or if literature becomes a second-class like FA.

Weasyl

I’ve got probably the least to say about this site. The newest(relatively) on the block, they’re still technically in Beta, but it might as well be a Google-style Beta at this point.

The front page in some ways feels like a darker-colored clone of FA’s, except that the “recent submissions” section puts everything together, with standard image thumbnails.  When you mouse-over, it gives no extra information on it other than title, so no way to tell if it’s a story, image, or something else.  If it had the FA-style description popup, it wouldn’t be as bad, but currently I’d rate it the poorest of the three in regards to the new submissions section.(On the other hand, as started they were still iterating and this could change.)

Below that however is a nice new feature where they display 10 random submissions from the entire site.  A good way to promote older work, without running into the feedback loop of making popular stuff more popular.

The bottom of the page, besides the standard set of links, also offers promotion of artists wanting critique, and current streaming.  SoFurry does the latter, but not the former, and FA does neither.  An excellent idea to help growing artists.

The userpage design is somewhere between FA and SoFurry, and probably the cleanest of the three in presentation.  In keeping with the non-separation of content, there is a filmstrip-style row at the top of the screen that shows the most recent submissions of that user.  Like SoFurry(and unlike FA) it also implements folders to organize your submissions, and shows those below.  It also displays your most recent art upload, but only for a time..  This is actually a rather nice idea, because it means you aren’t going to have the same image displayed prominently for long periods of time.

One innovative feature it has is a new submission type called “characters”.  Unlike the other site, it has a place to put all your “OC donut steel” creations, complete with a visual piece about them, rather than having them lumped in with other artwork submissions.  If you’re a heavy commissioner, I can see that as being a godsend, as you can simply link the artist you hire straight to a refpage and description, and easily keep it updated.

The other trick it has going for it is a feature called Collections.  Aimed at commissioners, when an artist uploads a piece they can send a message to the person who commissioned it, and if the person accepts, it gets added to their Collections page.  This way, it avoids duplicated content(one of the things causing FA’s back end to groan) while still allowing the commissioner to display their purchase with all their other stuff.  However, it depends on both commissioner and artist being on Weasyl, and the artist sending the collection request.  Originally you had to be the artist when Weasyl first came out, but because of the limitations I just mentioned, they changed their minds and just like FA you can upload anything “by you/for you”.

Overview

FA is the 800-pound bobcat on the block due to user intertia.  It’s the most basic of the three, but between artists wanting to go where the most users are and users wanting to go where the most artists are, it keeps trundling along on that feedback loop and user inertia.  It’s best suited for traditional art in my opinion.

SoFurry, true to its roots is the best place if you want to post stories and literature currently, but if you want to post any non-adult work of any kind, be prepared to not see much response unless it’s really good. (To be fair though, that last part is a failing on all three really, due to the nature of the userbase.)  The revamp may or may not change that, but it’s still a ways off as it was still in the alpha stages a month ago.

Weasyl feels like FA+ right now.  It has a similar bias towards traditional art, though more through the nature of their thumbnail system than by design.  The design in general though looks like someone got fed up with FA not updating, took a long hard look at it and asked “how can I do this, but better?”  Due to FA having the lion’s share of activity however, the only time it sees a lot of traffic is when FA is down, and from all reports it’s level of traffic is inverse to FA’s.  After the last FA downtime I’ve seen a minor push from artists to move to Weasyl, but we’ll see if that continues.

 

…well this ended up being the longest entry yet.  I guess I got a bit more into going over the details than I expected.