I’m super excited that I got to be the graphic designer for this GEN7 fundraiser at PIDGIN Restaurant:


This may be Daffy’s greatest role. The exploding hot dog blew my mind. I can’t get enough of this.

Minecraft: The Story of Mojang

Gametrailers.com is hosting a great 20 minute version of the forthcoming documentary Minecraft: The Story of Mojang by 2 Player Productions.

I’m really excited about the full documentary and I’m taken by this statement from the game’s creator Notch:

It’s hard to say, is it released? Is it not released?…What is the final version? I’ve just been so focused so hard on the beta…This is not the game, I’m just working on the beta and you can play it, while I make it…Kind of.

It’s really astounding to see someone have so much success with a product in development and I’m looking forward to seeing how they go about deciding on what a version is.

link via Boing Boing

I was surprised to find a 3-part documentary on Rooster Teeth and it was great to get a quick primer on their background and production methods. It’s really interesting that they’re using mocap and that they’ve been at it for 10 years now.

Here’s an interview with Burnie Burns talking about crossing the 10 year mark

iOS 6 maps keynote presentation

iOS 6 maps keynote presentation

Since the announcement of iOS 6 I’ve been worried about the fact that Apple’s default map application won’t have Vancouver’s transit information available within it like the original Maps application that was powered by Google Maps. I even started familiarizing myself with the Translink mobile site that I had previously ignored because maps was good enough. I feared that there would be a regression to a feature that I had come to rely on since public transit is my primary means of transportation.

While the mobile transit site proved to be surprisingly functional in storing the primary stops that I used, I mostly feared having to string together trip planning from a browser and the map application since I’ve never liked how the transit site handles addresses or business search for trip planning.

When iOS 6 launched I was glad that Wired pulled together some apps that would help tide over some iOS users. I downloaded all of the free apps from their list that support Vancouver and then went about trolling the app store to see what the selection is like. I installed the following apps:

Transit Pro

Now, I have to say that Transit is by far the nicest app of the bunch. I love how the app defaults to a real-time list of nearby stops and that I can change the direction by tapping on the route and then on an arrow that appears in the drawer that slides open. The point to point directions have been really slow or broken so far but if I were going somewhere familiar, like downtown, then this is the fastest way of knowing what buses are coming next since I don’t have to type anything.

The Transit App - nearby & real time

The Transit App – nearby & real time

Another noticeable fail with Transit was that tried to subscribe and couldn’t. The free trip planning is limited to 20 trips but for $.99 a month, $2.99 for 6 months, and $4.99 a year you get unlimited trips, which isn’t bad considering how nice the interface is. I tried to use the iOS 6 maps and selected transit information, and the map application bounced me over to the Transit app with all the trip details. So noted, that’s not as seamless as in the Google-powered era but given how the Transit app is more useful for getting next bus information quickly on familiar routes, I feel like I’ve come out with a better solution than what I had before.

The Transit App - Trip planning on the bus

The Transit App – Trip planning on the bus

For my iPad I tried getting transit directions without installing another app and was surprised that I was prompted to install HopStop for iPad, was bounced over to the app after installation,  and that it worked on the first try. Hopstop was the second best app since it did trip planning really well using iOS maps to show the route.

So in the end, nothing is really lost for Vancouverites, it’s just an adjustment. I’m genuinely impressed by Transit, which is actually better than Google Maps or the Translink mobile website. If this is just the beginning, then this should prove an interesting field of app and UI design to watch.

At Emerald City Comic Con this past year Billy West, Tara Strong, Maurice LaMarche, John DiMaggio, Kevin Conroy, Jess Harnell and Rob Paulsen did a reading of Star Wars in some of the voices that they’ve done over the years and it’s amazing. Pinky as a Storm Trooper talking to Bubbles as Darth Vader nearly killed me. And that’s just the first scene.

Here’s the entire listing of scenes and characters as compiled on the YouTube page by knetic491

0:05:28 – start of narration = Batman (Kevin Conroy)

0:07:04 – first set
Darth vader = bubbles (tara strong)
stormtrooper = pinky (rob paulsen)
captain = adam west (jess harnell)
leia = jake the dog (dimaggio)

0:09:38 – second set
c3p0 = shatner (maurice)
r2d2 = walken (harnell)

0:13:32 – third set
owen = stimpy (billy)
buru = ironhide (harnell)
luke = toot (tara)
c3po = george takei (paulsen)

0:18:33 – fourth set
c3p0 = my haney (rob paulsen)
luke = bender (dimaggio)
leia = J Leno (billy west)
r2d2 = morbo (maurice)

0:22:08 – fifth set
luke = walken (paulsen)
r2d2 = ozzy (harnell)
c3po = johnny carson (dimaggio)
leia = vincent price (maurice)

0:26:13 – sixth set
r2d2 = bill cosby (harnell)
c3po = fry (billy)
buru = twilight sparkle (tara)
luke = pinky (paulsen)
leia = the brain (maurice)

0:29:41 – seventh set
owen = aquaman (dimaggio)
c3po = raven (tara)
luke = zoidberg (billy)

0:34:38 – eigth set
raider = carl wheezer (paulsen)
r2d2 = marlin (billy)
luke = captain hero (harnell)
c3p0 = dudley moore (maurice)
obi wan = tracey morgan (dimaggio)

0:40:05 – ninth set
luke = professor (billy)
leia = rosey perez (tara)
obi-won = cartman (harnell)

0:46:04 – tenth set
tag = yakko (paulsen)
moddie = wakko (harnell)
tarkin = calculon (maruice)
stormtropper = bender (dimaggio)
luke = kramer (maurice)
vader = clara (tara)
obi-wan = porky pig (billy)

0:55:30 – eleventh set
obi-wan = inspector gadget (maurice)
luke = rodney dangerfield (harnell)
han solo = poof (tara)
c3p0 = mark chang (paulsen)
bartender = george costanza (maurice)
dr. avizian = paul lynd (dimaggio)
alien/greedo = tony soprano (billy west)

1:02:34 – twelfth set
c3p0 = baby dill (tara)
luke = jake the dog (dimaggio)
han = kiff (maurice)
obi-wan = rafael (paulsen)

1:06:23 – thirteenth set
leia = bender (dimaggio)
tag = bear (harnell)
tarkin = timmy turner (tara)
vader = yosemite sam (maurice)

1:11:37 – final scene
luke = shatner (maurice)
obi-wan = tracey morgan (dimaggio)
han solo = walken (paulsen)
c3p0 = zap brannigan (billy west)
r2d2 = harley quinn (tara)

I’ve been playing The Simpsons: Tapped Out for a couple of weeks now and I’m on the fence about this type of social gaming. In true Simpsons fashion, the premise for the game is a parody of Smurfs’ Village, a popular iOS game, that infamously cost a parents around the world thousands of dollars of accidental in-app purchases. Homer has inadvertently blown up Springfield due to his own negligence while playing a Smurfs-esque Happy Little Elves Village game instead of watching the reactor core. Thus, you have to rebuild Springfield in an alternate universe. Yay, multiverse theory!

doughnut screen

Seriously, $99 virtual doughnuts

The game play is pretty simple, collect money and XP through “taxes” or activities in order to buy buildings and level up. Donuts are a significant mechanism as they can speed up activities or can be used to buy premium buildings like Frink’s Lab or Scorpio’s Volcano Lair. Donuts can also be traded in for cash so you can buy more buildings, etc. The necessity of donuts are where my willingness to play starts to wane since it takes a really long time to collect them and the financial reality of the “freemium” game model starts to become apparent. The game really does drive you to buy virtual donuts and it’s depending on impatience or fandom to make the purchase. For example, the Volcano Lair costs 200 donuts and you can buy 300 of them for $19.99. And honestly, I don’t find that very fun. Clearly it’s engaging enough for me to keep tapping away but if it wasn’t The Simpsons I doubt that I would have kept going.

premium item menu

Premium items

I was also annoyed that I accidentally spent a bunch of my donuts through errant taps. It’s understandable that a game would want to avoid confirming actions since it would bog everything down. However, it happened to me enough early on that I was irritated. My other complaint about errant taps was that there was no backing out of a character’s activity without spending donuts. And since I sometimes committed to a 6-hour activity (real time) when I didn’t want to, it meant that I had to change what my strategy was going to be.

warning menu

You’ve been warned, about what? No idea.

The weirdest thing about the game is that it sometimes tells me that there’s been a saving error on my other device. This doesn’t make sense since I’m only playing it on my iPad. And to top it off, the options “OK” and “Play Now” don’t make sense either and I feel like neither option is going to get me back to my game. At one point, the game just restarted on me and I had to wait until it gave me a chance to log back in again. Thankfully my progress wasn’t lost, but this is a nominee for worst dialog menu ever.

I’m really amazed at how common lying is during this US election cycle and this newscast by the CBC really nails the visible lack of care by either party. But then again corporations are people, and pizza is a vegetable. How on earth did “untruth” become acceptable?

There’s been a lot of talk about the announcement that Joss Whedon will be doing a S.H.I.E.L.D.TV show for ABC. He spoke about it to Vulture and I like the sound of this:

It’s going to work very well for people who either love the Marvel universe or for people who’ve never dipped a toe in the Marvel universe.

This is one of the missing elements from Marvel’s current push. DC gave itself a huge leg up by introducing a lot of characters through Smallville but they failed to capitalize on it by spinning off into a JLA series or the Teen Titans in live action. Marvel could really do a great job of introducing characters here and I’m glad that Whedon’s pop culture referentiality now has the resources of Disney and Marvel behind it.

I found a great interview that Joss Whedon did for Riki Lindhome’s Making It podcast where he talks about his start as a TV writer and what he learned by working for Rosanne. I’ve spent part of the summer rewatching Whedon’s season on Rosanne because of a Splitsider article that tried to revisit Whedon’s episodes for signs of his style.

I was reminded how great a show Rosanne really was and I’m looking forward to watching more since Amy Sherman-Palladino of Gilmore Girls wrote for some of the following seasons.

The people behind the PBS Digital Studio’s Off Book have been making really amazing short documentaries on current issues and the latest one is on Animation and Motion graphics. I like how they showed how the animator’s toolkit has grown with the increase of computers but that it’s still about process and exploration.