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!

New Projects!

If you’re wondering about Dragon Hunt, unfortunately there is still going to be a delay.  I need a street crowd for this next page and I’m going to have to make them the hard way instead of just using flats (turns out it’s the flats that made the program crash this time.  Lovely).

Meanwhile, I have some exciting new things I’m working on!  Be distracted and amazed!

First, there’s my book, The Sword of the Princess.  It’s the story of a spirited princess whose kingdom is suddenly taken over by an evil empire.  She escapes with a band of knights and must somehow find a way to free king and kingdom.  The story has been on hiatus for a while now, but I am now ready to return for a final push to the end.  I am looking for beta readers for this, so if you’re interested, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Second, I have entered the world of fan-fiction officially.  I have a profile on fan fiction.net where I’m called “Space Viking.”  I also have a fan fiction of the MMORTS game Astro Empires to put up there…once they have a category for it.  It will be exciting if they ever get around to answering my request to make one.

Third, I am learning Javascript and have figured out how to make a sort of adventure game out of it.  The game allows you to make binary choices throughout (left/right, attack/run, accept/reject, etc), but also includes a random factor to determine the results.  I’ll need some graphics, but I’m going to try and put together an adventure game and post it somewhere.  Maybe on Deviant Art.  We’ll see what works.

Fourth, and least practicably, I have an idea knocking around in the back of my brain about a series of stories involving Saint Barbara’s Catholic School for Girls.  Outwardly, it would be a typical catholic school, if being somewhat remote and having rather gothic architecture.  A tomboyish girl raised by her dad at their mountain cabin would be taken there after her father died, and she’d hate it at first.  Then, she’d be maneuvered into joining something called the Safety Committee.  As it turns out, the Safety Committee is not about making sure the building had enough emergency exits in case of a fire.  The Safety Committee at Saint Barbara’s is about protecting the school and surrounding area from monster attacks, and is made up of a collection of the school’s most dangerous gun-toting girls.  The whole thing, I think, really exists as an excuse to see a girl in a catholic school uniform blast some bug-eyed monster with a machine gun.  I’m not sure what the best medium for this sort of story would be.  Obviously, it would have to be episodic.  A visual medium (like a comic) would be a plus, but it would also obviously take time to put together…  Thoughts?

Technical Difficulties

Due to some technical problems with DAZ Studio, Dragon Hunt will not be updating this week.  I’ll work out the bugs and be sure to post an update next week.  Thanks for your patience!

Dragon Hunt’s Chapter 3 Content Warning

This post is a follow up for anyone curious about the warning I posted at the beginning of my third chapter on Dragon Hunt.  I’ll present it as a question-answer format.  If you have additional questions, I’ll be happy to answer them as well.  Just post them as comments.

Q: So, what’s this warning about?

A: It’s a content warning.  It’s there to warn the reader that Chapter 3 of Dragon Hunt contains use of alcohol.  One of the settings is a tavern called “The Tipsy Pixie” and one of the new characters introduced in this chapter has an obvious drinking problem which results in a massive bar tab for this character and eventually causes the character to pass out at an inopportune time.

Q: Why do we need a warning?  I mean, it’s fantasy and taverns are a fact of life.  Besides, look at all the other stuff out there on Comic Genesis?

A: If you’re asking this question, then obviously the warning is not intended for you.  You probably don’t care one way or another about the use of alcohol in fantasies, you accept it as a part of the setting, and that’s fine.  It is a realistic part of a medieval fantasy world (in the Middle Ages, the tavern was an important community center and alcoholic beverages were some of the few safe drinks because they couldn’t spread water-borne diseases).  However, I made a commitment to keep my comic “family friendly” and some people may consider the inclusion of alcohol a violation of that promise.  I do not intend it that way, but it’s my duty to warn such readers about potentially offensive material.  As for what goes on around Comic Genesis, that’s not my concern.  If I were to borrow my standards from my neighbors, I’m sad to say my comic would descend into the gutter.  No, I mean to set and follow a higher standard with Dragon Hunt.

Q: Are you promoting drinking?

A: No, not at all.  I myself have never used alcohol (though I am over the legal drinking age), and I do not plan to.  While I personally believe, as a Christian, that alcohol is may be consumed in a responsible and right manner, I also know that this type of consumption is not common in our culture today.  Most commonly today, alcohol is consumed for drunkenness, which I believe is something the Bible condemns.  I do not want to put myself in a place where I might sin nor do I want to run the risk of setting a bad example, so I personally refrain from alcohol.  This, of course, raises the question of the use of alcohol in my comic.  In Chapter Three, a character gets very drunk, causing a number of problems for the main cast (which, like all things in the comic, are played for laughs).  Do I mean to portray this action as right?  Certainly not, no more than I mean to portray King Charles appalling apathy as a leader and father as good or right.  Do I mean to portray it as harmless and funny (because it is played for laughs)?  No, again.  I play pretty much everything in the comic for laughs, but in doing so, I don’t mean to rob it of all seriousness.  In all seriousness, King Charles is a horrible ruler and a worse father, and in all seriousness the character who gets drunk is wrong and irresponsible to do so.  However, the main goal of the comic is not to moralize but to entertain.

Q: Couldn’t you write this chapter some other way?

A: Possibly.  However, I believe that the way it is written is the best way.  If you have some alternative suggestions, please submit them and I’ll consider them.

Q: I like your comic, but I just can’t stand the use of alcohol.  Will I have to stop reading now?

A: No, not at all!  I appreciate your loyal readership and, if you find yourself asking this question, seriously, contact me via email at aaduwall@rams.colostate.edu, and let me know.  I will try to find an alternate way to present the chapter, if that’s the case.  However, if that’s not possible rest assured that the references to alcohol are fleeting.  They’re slotted to appear on pages 4, 5, 10, and 11.  Without these pages, things might seem to jump around a bit, but you should have no trouble continuing to follow the comic.  The fourth chapter will not contain any alcohol use.

Q: When are they going to catch that dragon?

A: Wouldn’t you like to know!  They’re getting closer, but there are many crazy antics to go before they even meet the dragon again.  Hopefully, you will enjoy them as much as I do.

Fan Fiction: Bill meets Charlie the Unicorn, by Katie

This is the first time I’ve ever had my work used in somebody else’s fan fiction, which makes me rather happy and proud of it.  This piece was written by my good friend Katie who envisioned it while asking, “What if William Von Vaughn de Capitcha le Bonificat McMallimut Thompson Leighton the XXII, Jr. met Charlie the Unicorn?”  It is every bit as disturbingly funny as the original Charlie the Unicorn videos on Youtube (if you haven’t seen them, I suggest you do, but only if you don’t value your sanity–sanity is overrated anyway).  This story is written in the form of a script.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Morning in a nondescript cartoon rendered meadow, a grumpy white unicorn is asleep.  Two smaller companions trot over and start jumping on him.

High Pitched Voice Unicorn (HPVU) 1: CHARLIE!  CHARLIE!

HPVU 2: Wake up Charlie!!!!

Charlie: Gah what do you two want?  Would you STOP JUMPING on where my now nonexistent kidney was???????

HPVU 1: We’re going to a forest, Charlie!!! Where there are dragons and castles and fellow talking unicorns!!!

HPVU 2: Yeah, Charlie!  Come with us!  

Charlie: Ok, I’ll come, but only because you two will get progressively more annoying the longer I wait.  

1&2: YAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!! They begin to sing as the three of them trot along. In the forest the mighty forest the dragon sleeps tonight!!  WaOOOOOOOOOOO –

Charlie: STOP!!!!! Why must you two ALWAYS SING??????????????

HPVU 1: Don’t be a hater, Charlie!  It adds to the scene and could be potential foreshadowing!

HPVU 2: Yeah, foreshadowing, Charlie!

Charlie: Ok, FINE!!!!!

1 & 2: YAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!! IN THE FOREST THE MIGHTY FOREST THE DRAGON SLEEPS TONIIIIIIIIIIGHT!

Woooooosh! …. THUNK!!!!!!!

Charlie lets out a bloodcurdling scream as a sword narrowly misses his head and embeds itself in a tree. A young woman in armor loads an arrow onto a bow and stares at Charlie.

Charlie: Oh crap, who are you? Katniss Everdeen???
Bill the Unicorn: I believe my fairest virgin princess was too scared to introduce herself properly. This is Princess Lia.

Charlie: Oh, great. And who are you supposed to be? Hans Solo?

Bill the Unicorn: Oh, heavens no, my name is William Von Vaughn de Capitcha le Bonificat McMallimut Thompson Leighton the XXII, Jr. But you may call me Bill. I am accompanying the virgin princess in her quest to slay the dragon.

SLAP!

Lia: Don’t you DARE refer to me as Virgin Princess when you introduce me ever again!

Bill: Yes, dear.

Charlie: Oh ok. Well, that explains a lot. Uh…. yeah. Nice to meet you both. Good luck. Bye.

He starts to walk away.

HPVU 1: Charlie! Wait!

HPVU 2: Yeah, wait, Charlie!  You must help them in this quest!

Charlie: Aaaaw, not right now guys, I really need to get home.

HPVU 1: For what? You just sit around at home, Charlie!

HPVU 2: Yeah, Charlie!

Charlie: Exactly! I just would like some peace and quiet.

HPVU: But the only way out is for you to help Princess Lia and Bill the Unicorn slay the dragon!

Charlie: What???? Aaaaw, CRAP! Don’t tell me that you two knew that all along!

The two start singing again

Oh Charlie, you must slay the dragon with the Princess!
You and Bill and Lia!
You must slay the dragon with the …

Charlie: STOP SINGING! Ok, Ok, I’ll do it!

He starts walking when he hears a roar. A giant dragon swoops down and there’s an EPIC BATTLE! Charlie gets knocked upside the head andBill and Lia dissapear somehow. Charlie wakes up laying near the now dead dragon.

Charlie: Guys? Guys? Hello? Seriously, where did you two go?

HPVU 1: Look in the lake, Charlie!

HPVU 2: Yeah, the lake!

Charlie: Guys, there’s NO LAKE!

HPVU 1: Look in the pool of dragonish bodily fluids!

HPVU: Bodily fluids, Charlie!

Charlie: Greeeeaaat. He looks in and screams as he sees a coronal cross-section of his head. Where his frontal lobe should be are the heads of his companions. Oooooh, CRAP, you guys invaded my BRAIN!!!!!!!

THE END! 🙂  

Why Dragon Hunt Didn’t Post Last Week (And Why It Will Post The Next Two Mondays For Sure!)

If you checked out my web comic, Dragon Hunt, as I suggested last time, you may have noticed that, despite every page saying that the comic updates on Mondays, on Monday, May 7th, no update appeared.  Why is this?  Well, it’s because the creator of said comic sometimes fails to inform all of his files of his changing plans.  See, the format for posting anything on Comic Genesis requires that you name the file with the date you want it to appear in the format yyyymmdd.jpg.  Well, I did that…and then I decided to start updating Mondays instead of Saturdays…and then I forgot to change the date accordingly.  Thus, the file is out there on the internet, but the automated server has specific instructions not to release it until time-travel reverts the date to Saturday, May 5th, 2012.  I wouldn’t hold your breath if I were you.

My apologies for this slip up.  I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.  In the meantime, never worry, the comic you were supposed to see last Monday will be appearing this Monday.  And the post for next Monday (the Chapter 3 cover!) is already done.  I hope you’re looking forward to the beginning of chapter 3 as much as I am!

Thanks for reading!  Comments welcome!

Changes to “Dragon Hunt”

If you haven’t read my web comic Dragon Hunt by now, you should.  Seriously.  As the creator, I personally think it’s hilarious and my friends assure me that it’s true.  In brief, its the story of a stereotypical fairy tale situation gone awry.  A dragon kidnaps the queen, the king summons the knights of the realm, and promises the hand of the princess in marriage to the one who can kill the dragon and bring back its head.  But when Princess Lia finds out about her father’s little arrangement, she’s none to thrilled.  To thwart the arranged marriage, Lia and a hornless unicorn nicknamed “Bill” set out to slay the dragon first.  Their departure sets up a mad scramble as the local mysterious peasant and his teenage daughter remember that they’ve been paid a handsome sum by the ruler of a rival kingdom to keep Lia around King Charles on her 21st birthday (for purposes not yet revealed).  The teenage girl, Julie, has already blown the money on clothes, so while she tries to track the Princess down, her father alerts King Charles that the Princess is missing so he can send out a search party of his own.  The only one available for such a party turns out to be a narcissistic monster-hunting ranger who accepts the assignment because, well, it’s the off-season.

Some memorable moments include:

  1. Queen Gertrude’s horrible opera concert is cut short when she is scooped up by a dragon and flown away into the sunset.  Everyone cheers.
  2. Princess Lia finds out about the arranged marriage from a bunch of knights hitting on her as they head out to slay the dragon.  Cue the furious exclamation.
  3. As a baby, Lia is found on the castle steps with a threatening note.
  4. King Charles explains how naps are a royal prerogative and rationality isn’t.
  5. A unicorn attacks.
  6. A unicorn wears a skirt…more or less.
  7. Lia and Bill learn the hard way why you shouldn’t play with swords indoors (this is how Bill becomes a hornless unicorn).
  8. A man is hug-tackled by a ninja.

There will be more to come, I promise.  On a totally unrelated note, I just realized my comic does not yet pass the “Bechdel Test”.  While I have three named female characters (and more to come), they have yet to talk with each other, or even meet for that matter.  The next chapter includes at least two plot-relevant conversations though, and by the end of the fourth chapter I plan to have a whole gaggle of female characters yammering at each other–if they can avoid killing each other first, that is.

Anyway, there are some improvements coming to Dragon Hunt.  Previously, I’ve updated on Saturdays, but this has always meant I had to have my comic uploaded by Friday at midnight…and with all the things that go on in a week there was just too much opportunity for delay.  Now, I’ve changed the update schedule to Monday, and this week I had my comic uploaded three days early.  I’ve also connected the webcomic’s site to this blog, so that comic readers can drop by here to see what I’m up to and comment if they wish.