All I got.
Posted by Mike Renner
As of today, I have run out of In Wily's Defense comics to post. While I can't say for certain that it's my last time doing the comic, I will say that I don't expect to return to the comic.
When I started In Wily's Defense back in 2003, I was doing it as a bored college student finding a hobby that didn't piss him off. I was increasingly frustrated with my writing community at the time and I really wanted to go out and do something that was my own thing. I found Megaman sprite comics. Hey, baby steps, I was still 20 at the time.
But these days, I don't have the time I used to have and IWD has always been nothing more but a hobby, so I'm going to put IWD back on "indefinite hiatus". It might be closer to a "permanent hiatus", though. We'll see.
Endure and survive.
Posted by Mike Renner
I'm about a month behind the curve, but I got around to playing one of the most singularly depressing video games I'd ever actually enjoyed playing - the Last of Us.
I've been a big fan of Naughty Dog's Uncharted series. It was the series that convinced me that I wanted a Playstation 3, and I decided I was getting the Last Of Us the moment itwas announced. Then something strange happened: I didn't have much interest in actually playing it at first. In retrospect, that may have been silly, because even with five months left to go in the year, this game might actually go on to be my favorite one of 2013.
While the Last Of Us is a unique beast from the Uncharted series, I can't help but draw some comparisons. The thing I always liked about the Uncharted games was the idea that they were giant setpieces of dominoes that collapse around you as you play the game. While I hadn't played any of the Uncharted games since Drake's Deception in 2011, I have fond memories of playing each game.
It's easy to compare the Last Of Us to the earlier release of Bioshock Infinite. Both games are about an extended escort mission involving an older man (played by Troy Baker) and a teenage girl of great importance for the universe at hand. The difference is in the story's tone. Bioshock Infinite conveys a sense of wonder as you play it, as you try and pull the threads of the plot while playing it. You're in this crazy flying city and it's beautiful, and then it turns straight to shit as you play the game.
The Last Of Us isn't as ambiguous or deceptive concerning the plot. What it holds in its center is despair, and not the kind of despair that hammy villains like to brag about giving the heroes. I'm talking about a world that had long been stripped away of its hope, where humanity is an endangered species and fighting each other over food and resources, and horrifying fungal monsters are eating people's throats. You not only have to deal with the very horrible things that destroyed humanity, but you also deal with the very worst dredges of humanity: survivalists who'll kill you for your stuff, soldiers who shoot anyone outside of the quarantine zones, cannibals, and the entire city of Pittsburgh is once again a horrible bastion of scumbaggery (so, basically, like usual).
The Last Of Us does not pull punches in how absolutely hopeless everything is. People don't just die, they die in gutwrenchingly heartbreaking ways. People die to despair. People die because they're too good for the world they live in. People die because people are dicks to people. Whatever moments of genuine hope are quickly tossed into the nearest wood chipper and diced into tiny pieces. That's the kind of world that the Last Of Us is. It doesn't pretend to be anything else.
It's a very potent game for what it does, and I highly reccomend playing through the whole thing.
Future of the site.
Posted by Mike Renner
So, I've been a little absent lately, and for that, I apologize. Let's just say that I needed a little time to clear my head and think about the future.
I have at best a month's worth of In Wily's Defense comics left to post, and it's looking likely that I'll be taking another indefinite hiatus right around the time of the comic's 10th anniversary (on August 18th). To be honest, I'm still working with the buffer I made for myself back in March when I relaunched the site, and I haven't touched the comic since then because I've been focusing on other, more important things.
IWD's a hobby that I do for free on the internet, because I just don't want to make money off of a fan work - even if present-day IWD is quite far removed from its original source material by now. I could open a store and make money that way, but I don't think there's a demand for people walking around with "Dodongo Dislikes Merchandise" T-shirts. Lately, I've been trying to knock down some of the more "unnecessary" things I've been doing, take a step back, and refocus on my more important work.
So, with IWD on the verge of being discontinued again, I guess I'll need to find something else to do with this site. That'll be tricky.
While I wanted to make use of this space as a blog to talk about whatever I wanted, it's now been almost two months since my last post as a result of remaining mostly off the grid and just having nothing I wanted to talk about. I have some projects I'm likely to reveal in the coming months, though, so I guess you should stay tuned for that.
Posted by Mike Renner
As you may notice from this website, I use a character named Shiori as my author avatar.
For years, I chafed at the notion of creating an author character. I had two reasons for this.
The first was the fact that my background in sprite comics comes from the Bob and George community, and the stuff on the periphery. Author avatars were a pretty dominating trend in sprite comics because Bob and George made it funny, so there were a ton of "follow the leader" comics. One of my mission statements when I created IWD was to try to stray as far as I could from what made Bob and George work, so I intentionally chose to not have an author character. Unfortunately, that still didn't stop me from completely derailing IWD's story with the deity characters that I *did* have (especially Magdelena).
The second reason was because I didn't want all of the fanart and fan stuff to be devoted to my author character rather than the actual characters of IWD who were part of the story. I've since dropped that reason because of Shiori, who is usually a cameo or minor character in most of my works today. And also, because I blame Tara.
Over the years, my lack of an author character was my point of pride. I wanted to be faceless and unseen. I wanted to speak through my characters without having to put myself in the story or the comic. While working on Get Blue Spheres in 2006, I learned that Psy hated that about me and wanted me to make one. Let's just say that any rumors about a "blue monkey" are clearly the products of your deranged, delusional minds.
So, after all that, what caused Shiori to happen?
Well, Shiori was created to be an in-universe historian to Fetch Quest who could explain things from the perspective of someone who was in the universe. While that part of the Fetch Quest website eventually had to be scrapped because I didn't have the time to update it regularly, I loved the concept and began to sprinkle in little cameos of the character here and there. I realized that by definition, that made Shiori my avatar. So she became that.
If you're starting something of your own, though, my advice is always to focus on your characters and your story before anything else. If you have to use an obvious author character, make it a point that they're the same kind of character as everyone else in your story. Don't be the god. Don't be the anthromorphic pig on Earth. Don't be the human in Equestria. If you're the hero of the story, don't be invincible (actually, don't have an invincible hero in general).
And above all else, *always* expect the Spanish Inquisition. They'll never show up as long as you expect them.
The creative process of on-fly sprite comicking.
Posted by Mike Renner
I have a process I go through when working on In Wily's Defense, which stands in contrary to anything else I've ever done creatively.
IWD is outlined in arcs and seasons, and I have a bulletpoint of all the things that I need to get done in each arc of the story. There's been times when I've had to improvise something or change things drastically, like the end of the first series when I realized I wasn't going to be doing a fourth season (at the time). But for the most part, I have a plan and I know the flow of the story and the feel of it.
Beyond the plan, though, IWD is entirely unscripted before I make the comics. This can be good or bad, and I admit wholeheartedly to having some real critical research failures, spelling mistakes, and generally being really dumb throughout the whole thing. The original IWD was jam-packed full of me being really stubborn about making sprite comics, which unfortunately carried over into my work on Get Blue Spheres. It took me several years before I developed any kind of real instinct about making comics, and by then, IWD was in its third season and fading fast.
But don't think that's just me being negative about the past, either. Even today's comics, though artistically superior, could be better from a writing standpoint. Because of the start-and-stop nature of working on IWD, I've had situations where I've actually forgotten plot points and have to go back and edit the comics I just made or, in the case of the yet-to-be-totally-revealed character of Blast Orange, make damn sure I was as non-specific as possible in talking about them.
For the most part, though, I stick to the plan. For example, in the last two updates, Violet and Lilith are having a conversation. The fact that they're having a conversation is something I knew was going to happen. I planned it when I wrote the outline of the story. But the actual meat of the conversation is written as the comic's being built. This lets me fit the dialogue around the panels easier, and I do it to maintain a natural feel to the conversation.
On the other hand, most times I do a Dodongo comic are entirely unplanned. It's not like I have a note in my plans where I say, "yeah, just spam textboxes". Again, it's for reasons of a natural flow. A visit from the Old Man is best left unplanned. The old fuck won't show up when you want him to. He shows up when you least expect it, drinks all of your beer, and demands that you get off his lawn even if you actually own the lawn. You just don't want to argue with the guy.
I'm generally happier with the sequel of IWD than the original, but my process hasn't really changed - just the tone of the story and obviously the artwork. I've some real surprises in store. You know, for the two of you who still read.
The degeneration of my film tastes.
Posted by Mike Renner
Let's talk about movies!
I don't watch movies!
At least, I don't watch them any more. Or at least, I don't watch movies that critics fawn over and adore.
This is funny because up until at least 2005 or so, I was enough of a cinephile to take a film class and watch and analyze some classic, and not-so-classic, movies. So I don't know when it happened, but I lost a lot of interest in watching films. At first, it was mostly in favor of big, crazy television shows like Lost and Heroes... but then I lost interest in those especially after Heroes went from one of the best TV shows out there to one of the worst, and I've all but stopped watching TV entirely now.
The movies I care about these days and want to watch are superhero movies, the big action movies, or whatever Pixar's released.
I don't go to theaters most of the time because, to me, it has to be a movie I really want to see to make the effort to take a trip to the nearest theater that's thirty minutes away. Maybe I've just grown too comfortable sitting in my office, but I don't like to be out of my house for very long. Nothing discomforts me more than not being here.
Of last year's releases, I'd seen a total of seven movies and only two of them at theaters. The two movies I thought worth a trip to the theaters (and I wasn't wrong), were the Avengers and the Dark Knight Returns. Other films I watched from 2012 were Skyfall, Brave, the Amazing Spider-man, Wreck-It Ralph, and Men In Black 3. And generally speaking, if it didn't have James Bond or a superhero in it, I didn't like it that much.
I've gotten to the point where I'm fatigued of critically lauded movies. I actually want to watch the big, stupid, summer blockbuster action movie. I've become the perfect target audience for Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich.
Do you realize how much that actually bothers me, though?
I used to watch every movie that was deemed good. I used to go out of my way out of high school every single day and rent another one dollar movie to go watch. I've seen everything from Raging Bull to Memento to American History X to every Coen Brothers movie out at the time. I'd seen Casablanca years before I would ever grow to appreciate it. My favorite movies of all time are Shawshank Redemption, Snatch, Fight Club, Pulp Fiction, O Brother Where Art Thou, the Good the Bad and the Ugly, and the Blues Brothers.
So, how did I get to this point?
Well, I have a theory about this: It's apathy.
It's apathy and the general cynicism of the internet. I've become grumpy, jaded, and more interested in doing my own thing than to pay attention to movies. A lot of movies want to be depressing, dark, mature looks at the human condition, and I just don't have the desire to watch those kinds of movies.
My only desire nowadays is to see Iron Man shoot somebody in the face with a Unibeam. Is that so much to ask?
The point of superhero movies, apart from being big crazy action-packed moments of awesome, is that they're not depressing. They're big, loud, colorful pieces of cinema. They're about Norse gods bringing down the hammer. They're about enormous green rage monsters breaking Harlem over somebody's head to save the world. They're about punching Adolf Hitler in the face two hundred times.
I watch these kinds of movies because they make me happy, and I need that more and more these days.
Revisiting the old.
Posted by Mike Renner
Maybe one of the six of you who visit this site remembers this, but I used to run a sprite comic called Tales of Southtown.
It was a pretty standard setup of taking Fatal Fury's big bad, Geese Howard, and turning him into a patriotic crazy person with a habit of long, meandering solilquies who was mayor of the city of Southtown before he was ousted by equally crazy Capcom joke character Dan Hibiki. It's also the sprite comic where I had characters called "the Seraphim", who had a bit role in Fetch Quest as the sources of magic in that world.
So, recently, I had made a whole new design of Shiori and did an entire sprite sheet based on the concept. While I was working on it, I came across some sprites of Janice, one of those Seraphim, done in the newer IWD style I'd been working with for the past few years. I decided she was due for a redesign. In the intervening years since Tales of Southtown, the character became markedly different in personality, even though I wasn't really using her publicly, and I didn't think the old design still fit that personality.
Anyway, this is the old design. Janice had originally been based on Magdelena, because the two characters were related (Janice is Magdelena's daughter). A large reason for this is also the fact that she'd originally been designed in Megaman 7 style, and it didn't give me a lot of room to really play with.
So when I decided I was going to revisit her, I took a long look and decided she didn't need to be that similar to Maggie. More to the point, I didn't think Janice looked cute enough.
Recognizing this, I did this to her.
What I felt I needed to do was to give her a much lighter appearance, and that in turn help bring out her more adorable side. The white discs in her hair and on her skirt are big decorative fuzzballs that hang off of her, and I limited her character color of yellow to her skirt, and gave her much more white than before.
She's still recognizably the same Janice as before, but her redesign helped better emphasize her cutesy, girly nature. So she comes off better for it.
It's always okay the revisit old characters and breathe new life into them. Comic books do this a lot. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad, but the results can oftentimes be something you're happy with. And still yet, some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world get more adorable.
I'm one of those men.
Me and sprite comics.
Posted by Mike Renner
As someone who first built his Sealand-level empire on the creation of a sprite comic, I've spent a long time thinking about what I do as a creative hobby.
I've probably mentioned before that I got into sprite comics originally because I wanted to do something than plain text writing, something I was doing in eWrestling at the time. While I was much more productive as a creative writer in my late teens/early 20s than I am today, I was also burdened with a lot of free time and was pretty much kicking the crap out of college with minimal effort on my part. So I spent some time thinking of a new way to tell stories, and that's when I was given a link to Bob and George. I took one look at "Bob and George" and thought, "Hell, I can do that! Let's do it!"
Yeah, um. No.
On the surface, sprite comics are easy. You just copy and paste and you're good to go. You might just make a plain solid background or use something from another video game, but ultimately, the point is that the actual "art" part of a sprite comic isn't hard. Anyone can make a sprite comic.
But it takes a whole other kind of effort to make a good sprite comic, though. You have to make a special effort to make the art unique and you definitely have to be at least somewhat competent a writer. To me, the whole point of a sprite comic is to circumvent the "art" part of a comic just enough to let a writer do his thing. Even then, creating your own characters and making them far more than just a recolor is a lot of the fun for me.
It's easy to make a bad sprite comic. I've seen many terrible ones. The ones with bad recolors, with humor ripped directly from the annals of Bob and George, like author avatar characters running over all of the other characters and many references to ice cream. Hell, I've made some really terrible ones myself that would make the early IWD comics look like the Mona Lisa in comparison, which I'm glad got lost in the death of my old hard drive.
I put forth a large amount of effort preparing for a return to IWD, including designing a lot of new characters and redrawing old ones because I was stupid enough to get into a new art style and stubborn enough to stick to it with every character in the comic, and while my ability to maintain a schedule hasn't been as spotless as it was with the original run (due in large part to my old job), it's astonishing to see the difference between the old stuff and the new stuff. It's like two different people made two different comics.
I just do IWD for the art and the ability to tell a different kind of Megaman-styled story that's largely its own beast. I don't believe in making money off of it. This is the project I do for fun. If it makes you guys happy, then I'm happy. If it doesn't, then I'm still happy because I'm a professional dick.
Back at it again.
Posted by Mike Renner
So, as you may note from the sidebar, I've put up a new IWD comic.
I'm actually approaching the ten year anniversary of In Wily's Defense, which not only makes me feel damn old, it makes me wonder what the hell I'm doing with myself that I'm willing to revisit it again.
Nevertheless, I'm giving IWD one last shot until something happens that makes me not want to do IWD any more. Knowing how I am lately, it'll probably be whenever I see pretty bunnies or if I design something extremely cute and want to design an entire story built around that cute thing.
Don't laugh, that's where Fetch Quest came from. XD
Lost In Skyrim Again
Posted by Mike Renner
I have a real love/hate relationship with Skyrim and, really, all of Bethesda's games.
Truth be told, I don't think much of them as actual games. The combat is usually very sloppy and every one of their games has so many weird glitches and bugs that it's amazing that they're functional at all. Indeed, during my new playthrough of Skyrim, I've run into a quest chain that's broken to the point that I can't continue it and that's not getting into the weird physics glitches that go on in the games. My only motivations for playing the game is to horrifically break my character in hilarious ways as hard as I can find the patience for it, and to knock out achievements.
The thing about Bethesda games that make them compelling isn't the combat, the characters, and most certainly not the voice acting. It's mostly about exploring big, huge, open worlds with crazy locations and many dungeons to dive into in order to beat the shit out of whatever's inside. I've gone to places in Skyrim in the second playthrough that I never came across during my first, approaching the same quests with different results in mind, and generally just dicking around in places. That's ultimately where much of my time had gone this time around.
I'm hoping to tackle the Dragonborn expansion eventually and bring all of this to a close, because I would like to actually spend my time doing something constructive again, soon.
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