Updates, Coming and Otherwise

Let’s get the painful part of this out of the way:

It is with great sorrow that I announce that my webcomic, Dragon Hunt, will be on hiatus until further notice.  I appreciate the patience and enthusiasm of all of you fans of the comic in waiting for me to update, but I have to be honest with you now and say that, for the foreseeable future, no update is coming.

It boils down to a technical issue.  Since the images for the comic are created using 3D software, I’m limited by the capability of the software and the hardware of the computer its installed on.  I’ve run into several problems with that respect.  First, as I’ve mentioned several times in the comic, I’ve run into delays due to some bug in the software itself.  That’s what this latest delay started out as.  I fixed the bug, but then ran into a much larger problem.  This latest page, which was to introduce a new character, required me to have, at a minimum, 3 characters in one shot (not counting extras).  Since I use high-resolution models for all of my main cast (including Bill, Lia, and the character I was going to introduce), this meant the software required a large amount of memory to process the shot–too much memory in fact.  After several repeated crashes I realized that my computer was simply not designed to handle that much imaging memory.  It just doesn’t have the hardware.  To complicate matters even further, the computer failed to start at all last week and is now over at Staples where the’ll see if they can even get it working again.

All of the data for Dragon Hunt is backed-up, fortunately, so assuming I can get the computer back up and running, I have a few options for restarting Dragon Hunt.

  1. Upgrade my computer’s hardware to include more memory (this would probably take ~$50 and may or may not fix the problem)
  2. Buy a computer actually designed to do graphics programs (this would cost ~$1,000 and would definitely work, but definitely be expensive!)
  3. Continue the comic by drawing freehand and scanning the images in (this would require me to buy a scanner eventually–I could borrow one from my folks in the short term–and would mean everyone would have to put up with slower production and lower-quality artwork)
  4. Continue the comic by drawing freehand using an electric artists’ pad (this would require me to buy one of those nifty electric drawing pads with the pen and all–which I have no idea how much those cost–and learn a totally different style of artwork.  Quality could be better, could be worse in comparison to freehand and scanning; production time would probably be less).
  5. I drop the art altogether and post my scripts for Dragon Hunt (this would be free and dramatically faster, but the change of medium would be pretty harsh and a script may be harder to follow).

Obviously I can’t do anything until I know if my computer’s gonna live or not, but let me know what your thoughts are.  I want to bring Dragon Hunt back somehow, but I’d like your input on whether it continues in its current form or takes a different form.

I do have some good news.  I’ve resumed work on Sword of the Princess and I’m setting up the climax now.  If anyone is interested in beta-reading the novel, let me know.  The work has been slowed a little by the death of my computer, but I’ve still got access to computers in general and everything I need is on my flashdrive.

I also have random news.  While I may or may not be forced to bid adieu to my tabletop RPG with my college friends (last I heard, they hadn’t made up their mind about the possibility of me Skyping in), I have started playing with some friends from work.  The system is a custom one called “Third Genesis” created by one of my coworkers.  The story is that in an alternate future man, created an immortality serum and went out among the stars and discovered a planet filled with adonium ore, a metal with magical properties.  They used genetic manipulation to create a race of human slaves to mine the adonium for them while they posed as the humans’ gods.  To complete the farce, they created races of “demons” from which the humans would need “divine” protection and races of “angels” to serve the gods and keep the demons in check.  Eventually, one of the so-called-gods named Seth developed a conscience and came clean with the human slaves–only to find that his fellow “gods” had already spread the word about him that he’d “fallen” and become an evil deceiver.  Nevertheless, Seth’s change of heart did manage to sway some of the humans and spark a rebellion.  Eventually, the “gods” were defeated and driven off.  The campaign we played was just something to keep them busy during the summer.  It took place shortly after Seth’s “fall” and everyone was playing characters loyal to the false gods, who were part of an army unit going through the jungles and villages looking for rebels.  Most everyone in the party was evil, and I’ve never known a party to cause so much chaos!  My character was named Casia Black and was designed for maximum creepiness.  She was the ghost of a little girl whose parents died in a mining accident.  Refusing to believe they were really gone, she turned to the practice of necromancy to find a way to bring them back.  She was loyal to the goddess of death, insane, extremely powerful, and prone to raising zombies wherever she went.  You can see a picture of her here.

I only managed to play two sessions, but in both I think I did well.  In the first, one of the party members turned out to secretly be a rebel and started trying to kill the party’s leader.  Another party member (the tank) jumped in and killed the rebel, but the rebel’s pet…robot managed to take down our beloved leader.  As an illustration of what a disfunctional group of villains we’d gathered into our party, none of the rest of our party seemed to care.  At last I figured that Casia would care, since she would reason that the goddess of death would not be very happy about her letting her leader die–and she needed the goddess’ patronage in order to continue her insane quest to bring back her parents.  Casia succeeded in reviving the party leader (not as a zombie–though it was seriously considered) and conked out the traitor-character’s robot (though, in all fairness, the tank had already beaten the stuffing out of it–Casia was just lucky enough to get the last hit by using her telekinesis to throw it into a tree).  In the other session, we raided a cave of “heretics” as part of the boss fight.  The boss himself was protected by an amulet that made him undefeatable.  He decoyed us with a copy of the amulet, which exploded in a burst of chaotic magic–causing all of our characters to switch bodies (and all of the players to switch character sheets).  I wound up playing the tank and wasn’t very good with it (an illusion of Casia’s parents showed up and she totally fell for it).  The party leader wound up stuck in Casia’s ghostly body.  “Why doesn’t anyone take me seriously anymore?!” he moaned at one point.  Because you’re in the body of a necromantic ghost child: her social stat is negative!  When the boss came, however, he did succeed in ripping the real amulet of invincibility off of him with telekinesis.  Casia then switched back and summoned a big, mean zombie-soldier to the boss’s face!  The fight was over very quickly after that, as our party’s sniper blasted the boss into oblivion.

I also played two one-shot campaigns with the same group and the same system.  In one I was an old, blind sniper…and did horribly–though not because of blindness (we allowed him to compensate with superb hearing).  I just built him way too squishy, that’s all.  He would get off one shot, then have something chewing on his face and go down in one round.  Fortunately, we had a good cleric in that party.  In the other one shot, we didn’t have any cleric.  My character there was totally made for jokes, based off of Koko from the manga Rosario+Vampire (not the anime–from what I hear the anime is lame), a little school girl with a short fuse and a ginormous mace.  She actually did better than the sniper.  We didn’t have any casters in our group, so she wound up forced into that role since she did know some magic and we immediately met an enemy that was immune to ginormous maces (it was a spell remnant).  She wasn’t designed for that and thus performed as well as one would expect at that roll.  But she did have a moment of awesome when we met a creepy monster that tried to ambush the party from the roof.  We’d lost sight of it, but we all knew it was on the roof and figured it was about to pounce on us.  Our resident explosive expert threw a bomb on the roof, but it rolled off.  The party’s troll (we had a cave troll) smashed the wall, but this had no effect.  I had my character wait around with a balista (yes, she considered a siege weapon to be a normal ranged weapon).  When the creature pounced, my character was ready and shot out of the air, killing it instantly.  We went on to have the troll suicide-bomb a boss who could have easily killed us all (well, it was almost-suicide: he teleported out at the last second–and then turned out to not be a troll at all, but that’s complicated).

The exciting news is that the group’s main campaign is restarting this week and I’ve been invited to join.  The party will be a group of people pressed into service aboard a god-loyal ship (ironically, commanded by the same character–Raphael–who led the interim party).  They mutinied and turned to piracy to survive.  My character is a sentient submarine designed by the rebels to raid god-loyal shipping.  She (ships are always female, don’t ask why ’cause there isn’t a reason) has an android disguise-form which (due to the prevalence of telepathy in the game) doesn’t know she’s a killer submarine.  She was rounded up with the rest of the crew in her android form and has been quietly working as mechanic’s mate ever since.  I wonder how long it will take the other characters to realize they can turn her into a submarine…hmm.  Should be interesting.  I have miniature figurines now for both forms, too, so that’s exciting!

The just plain random news is that I rediscovered Magic Knight Rayearth, the first manga I ever read and one of the best (I think From Far Away is the best, but Rayearth is pretty good too).  It was an entertaining read, even the second time around, though this time I noticed that Fuu (the archer character, who is supposedly very experienced with a bow) drew her bow incorrectly.  Once, she drew it to her chest, which would be fine for a point-blank shot but hard to aim otherwise.  The other time she drew it above her head and held the bow crooked–which would have resulted in a shot that was impossible to aim and wouldn’t have flown straight.  You’re supposed to draw to your cheek, so that you can sight right along the arrow, but I guess the artist thought that didn’t look as cool.  Umi (the fencer) was also using a rapier like a broadsword, but hey, it’s manga and ridiculous slashing leaps and spins look cooler than simple thrusts and parries.

And why is it that only Japanese schoolgirls are summoned to save magical worlds?  What’s wrong with schoolchildren from other nations–or adults for that matter?  Something irrelevant to consider seriously…until next time!