Izak Smells | Page 2 of 106 | Comics every Mon/Wed/Fri

Prey – High Res Screens

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So I played Prey a couple weeks ago and promptly forgot about it. I should probably get back into it because there’s plenty of game to be explored. However the Switch has been making its siren calls slightly to the right of my PC.

What follows is my “first impression” write up I knocked out quickly for work, followed by the usual dump of screenshots. I didn’t take any shots of the baddies because normally they’re either A. Pretending to be cardboard boxes or B. moving really fucking fast and making me scramble around with what little resources I had.

Prey is a game of double bluffs, and intricate small moments create an impressive larger whole.

The first moments of the game seem normal enough and it sets you up for what you think will be a fairly regular experience to a space station. You spend some time in some frustratingly boring tutorial rooms that are suddenly punctuated by a yawn inducing first reveal of the antagonists. In fact the early moments that are supposed to act as tension building are laughable. I know this because I literally laughed.

However after the tutorial section concludes and you get into the meat and potatoes of the gameplay you realise that all the early part was there to teach you that you shouldn’t trust anything you see or hear.

Immediately it leads you into a larger foyer on a space station revolving around the moon and tells you to go at it. It’s from here that you reach all the other parts of the ship, which are gated off in one way or another by keycards scattered everywhere.

Voices chat to you via your headset as is mandatory in FPS games these days. Also there’s the intrigue of who to trust, a sort of “Would you kindly” dialogue. In fact I keep coming back to Bioshock when I think of Prey. There’s the environmental dangers, the twist on the art deco style, Neo Deco, and even vending machines (recycling plants) that crap out your much needed ammo.

While Bioshock is more of a straight run and gun experience Prey opts for a slower more thoughtful pacing. The first weapon you get after your trusty wrench isn’t even lethal. It’s a GLOO cannon used to slow your enemies, create staircases, and subdue environmental hazards.

The RPG element of the game means your character will be sticking a syringe into their eye and filling it full of plasmids neuromods every ten minutes. It appears to give you plenty of options on how to tackle the level, depending on how you’ve spent your points. There are hallways blocked off by heavy objects, or doors that need hacking, all of which beckon you to spend your points on engineering rather than health and damage buffs.

A surprising highlight for me is the soundtrack with it’s chill synth wave beats. Unfortunately the sound can get garbled together, as someone speaks to you loud noises can encroach over the top, with insane “fight music” and a desaturation filter drowning everything out as a single mob scampers across the floor. The sound mastering could have done with a little more work and the desperate need to put people on edge by any means necessary was well unnecessary. The lack of resources do this sufficiently enough. A couple skirmishes can leave you entirely without ammo and nothing but your wrench to protect you.

I think Bethesda has done a great job of creating a unique game, despite the parallels I’ve drawn with it being like Bioshock. Definitely check it out.

Twintelle – Arms 8Bit Pixel Art

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Want a sticker of this? I can do that!

Twintelle jumped onto the scene recently as a newly announced character that will be available in ARMS, the upcoming Nintendo Switch game.

ARMS comes across as a little bit of a gimmick game, even though I’ve been told by someone who’s had first hand experience with it that it isn’t. It’s been hard for a lot of the fans to get overly hyped either way. Despite that, the release of Twintelle and her giant butt has been exactly what the game has needed to get social media cranking out the fan art.

ARMS won’t be a day one purchase for me, but I’ll definitely have it on my list. I’ve got the Global Test Punch installed on my Switch but I haven’t had a chance to log in and play yet.

I’m currently waiting for my copy of Bomberman to ship as well.

In the meantime I might draw the rest of the girls in the lineup, and if you really dig what I do then maybe buy a sticker.

How to Shade and colour and shit, for noobs by noobs

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I’m writing this for Kristof, who splashed out on a Bamboo Pen & Touch. Aaah, I remember when I got my first Pen & Touch (and I invented Red Face out of frustration). Anyway, feel free to follow along as I run K-dog through some basics.

Ok so I’m going to assume you spent some time drawing a dude. Make sure there’s no gaps in your line work because it’ll make the next steps a lot easier.

Aight, get the magic wand tool from the left hand sidebar and select all the interior of your dude.

Now if you colour dumped (onto a new layer of course!) you’d get this weird gross looking white gap between your linework and your colour. That sucks so I’m going to show you how to get around that.

While the marquee is still all selected go select/modify/expand. This expands your magic wanded selection. You can also contract and shit as well. I usually expand by 3 pixels, but sometimes this is too much depending on your line width. Good for an IZS strip though where we always use a brush size of 18.

Now create a new layer below the line layer and dump some light grey in, this will be your base layer of colour. Note that the linework is overlapping the colour, no ugly white tracing around the edges, yay!

Now create another new layer, above your base colour (but still below your linework) and start shading that mofo. There’s plenty of ways to shade, just colour in black and white with the brush opacity set to pressure sensitive (top left header bar where you pick your brushes). I’ll let you find your own way to home.

Now this is the part where I shouldn’t have done a ball shape because now you get to see how little discipline I use to shade things. I’m doing this at work, leave me alone. Anyway, adding details. Note that I haven’t unselected the magic wand stuff. This means I never paint outside the lines. If only I could have done this at primary school in RL I would have been a god of colouring in.

If you accidentally unselect you can hold ctrl and click on your base colour layer to reselect. Just make sure you work on your new detail layers so you can easily reverse your mistakes.

I’m pretty happy with this. If I’m adding more detail I’d add another layer and do highlights of white and stuff. But I’ve hardly shaded this dude anyway so I won’t bother.

Ok, add yet another layer above all your detail work and paint bucket the shit out of it. All your beautiful shading is gone! Oh well. We’ll figure it out in the next step.

select your colour layer and now click that dropdown right underneath the layers tab. It’s the one that should be defaulted to “normal”. Now select “color” from the dropdown to make your blueberry look exactly like mine. Or “Multiply” if you want a dirtier look. In fact, experiment and flick through that list to see what sort of fun things happen.

If you need things to be a bit more intense right click and duplicate your shading layers to make it all a bit more dramatic. Alternatively if you went ham on the shading of a particular layer select it and then turn down the opacity in the slider next to that dropdown I was making you dick around with just before.

Have fun! Get back to writing me scripts!

Never Look Into The Void

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I quite liked the jester in Kristof’s comic last week so I got him to write a little bit more for him. Never look into the eternall darkness silly billy!

Also while I was at it a did a mermaid for #mermay. I decided to opt out of going the cute route and instead went for a more gnarly looking fish woman. I wanted her to be more of a quicksilver “spill your guts before you get a chance to move” sort. It was also the first time I’ve properly tried shading in greyscale before overlaying with colour before. I’m pleased with the results, especially since it took me no time at all to achieve.

Also I really couldn’t be fucked with the end of the tail, so I just hacked around with the lines.

How The Nintendo Switch Has Fucked Me At Every Turn

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Becky and I are now husband and wife, and one of our wedding gifts was the much coveted Nintendo Switch.

What follows is a language ridden unvarnished review of my experience with it. Let me stress that although I’m a total negative nancy about it I still love the hell out of the Switch.

My best man Matt (BMM) set it up at his place and did the system update, everything was working great and we all marveled at how dinky the controllers were and how the control scheme was asymmetrical between player one and player two. Also we totally didn’t realise we had to clip the bumpers onto the controllers, so we were wondering why the triggers were so hard to push.

After the wedding we packed our bags for our honeymoon. Suffice to say the Switch accompanied us on our two week jaunt to Waiheke, where I was away from the internet and the cares of the world. An hour or two before we had to take the car ferry we quickly hit up JB-Hifi to grab about  the only available copy of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in West Auckland (yeah, we had to check multiple places to find a place nearby that actually had it in stock).

On the ferry over I proudly set the Switch up on the Dashboard of the car and booted up Snipperclips. I immediately jammed the bumper onto my controller backwards and it got firmly lodged in place as we struggled to get it off. Word to the wise, turn the little lock button off before trying to yank it off.

There was plenty of rain on the island so things were looking good for a solid couple days of gaming. So I plugged it into the tv… and nothing happened. I fucked with it for a bit and was FAQing it via the patchy internet reception until just as I gave up and slumped on the couch it decided to appear on the TV. Huh. Must be because it’s an oldish TV and has some HDMI issues…

The Left Hand Controller

Sitting about 2-3 meters away from the TV we quickly got into Zelda. Becky immediately fell in love with the game and we spent two whole days doing nothing but play Zelda. It was amazing. This game beats all expectations and is instantly a classic. I envy kids who are going to grow up playing this game.

The only aspect which wasn’t a joy however was when Link would not respond to walking, or he’d walk to much, which is a death sentence in a game where placement is key. Walking off a cliff can destroy all the effort of getting up there in the first place, and puzzles are impossible to complete when you can’t stand where you want to. I shifted the couch closer to try and mitigate the issue, and attempted to get the Dock as close to where we were playing as possible. We were pretty damn close and it was still giving out. The right hand controller continued to act fine but the left sucked dick. This is a well documented issue online, so I don’t need to talk about this further. The best hotfix is to squat right in front of the dock and pray to it while playing.

The Dock

I unplugged the dock to use the HDMI on the laptop, so we could watch some movies. (The Red Turtle is an amazing film. I recommend it.)

I plugged the HDMI back into the dock afterwards and the Switch again refused to show the picture (or sound) on the TV. I figured it just needed a moment and went to bed. The next day it was going again and that night I did a repeat of the movie situation. Plugging the Switch back in I decided that another night would sort it out.

The next morning I got up and it was refusing to do anything. The green light was coming on the Switch when I docked it, but nothing was appearing. I tried everything, including plugging it into the mini projector we have, which also gave us the same “no signal” message. I tried different HDMI ports to no avail.

BMM came over for a bit from the mainland and brought another HDMI chord to try. He went through the motions of trying to make it work as well. Nothing.

So we spent the rest of our time playing it on the small screen. On the bright side I no longer needed to worry about the left joycon reception issues.

Getting back on the mainland I was keen to get the issue sorted and EB games was super obliging about giving me a replacement Switch. (I did try the dock on a bunch of other stuff at home, including my computer monitor, with multiple HDMI chords) It did mean however that we lost over sixty hours of progress on Zelda. We tied our accounts online to try and somehow magically cloud our saves but to no avail. I guess Nintendo needs to cast a spell on it or some shit for something as high tech as transferring saves.

But hey, EB gave me a brand new Switch with neon controllers, thanks to someone who just cancelled their pre-order, all the other consoles in the store were on laybuy for pre-order folks, so I was lucky to get anything at all. They were so good about it Becky and I bought two Amiibos. Yeah, we’re pretty in love with the Switch and Zelda, despite the grief.

Linked Nintendo Account

We took it home and came to terms with all the save data we lost. There was a period of grief, but it was tempered by the fact that the dock now worked flawlessly. Thank God.

I went to redownload Snipperclips. It wasn’t hard to find the redownload screen as I had heard someone moaning about it online. What I hadn’t read anywhere online is that you must disconnect your account from the console before getting rid of it. Failing to do so means that you can’t add funds or redownload games on your new console. I understand why, but fuck. FUCK. I read that a factory reset is an easy way to do it, so I call up EB five minutes before they close and ask them to do that for me. The guy is obliging, but wants to knock off. Which is fine. I’ don’t need Snipperclips that badly. We’ll do it in the morning.

Then I realise that after the factory reset the console would still need to sync online to tell the servers that my account is no longer tied to that console. Son of a bitch. I call them the next morning (now) and tell ’em the situation. They say they have no internet there, and will have to walk it into the mall wifi or hotspot from their phone. Fuck it, I say, we’ll come in and handle it. It saves them having to know my password and shit.

The Left Hand Controller Again (But Different!)

The pictures of the Neon controllers don’t show you how bright they are, the red controller is more like fluro orange, it’s awesome. In the other hand the turquoise controller was running super hot in my hands, and quickly drained its battery. No biggy, I should have given it more time to charge up anyway. I stick it on the Switch that’s sitting on the base and get on with my life for a bit.

The control intermittently would shudder, and I could see on the charge screen it was turning on and off on its minimal charge. I let the Switch sleep and that seems to let it calm down. Just before going to bed I check on it and the controller was saying it had a healthy amount of battery life now. The right hand controller had full charge the entire time.

In the morning I whip it off the dock and play it in gameboy mode for a while, grinding back to where we were up to on Breath of the Wild. I ran the battery down on the console in almost three hours which is working as advertised. The entire time the left controller was steamy hot in my hand. Not working as advertised. I whipped the controllers off and I immediately get the “I’m fucken’ outta juice captain” message for the left controller and it dies. Fantastic.

Looks like the guy who cancelled his pre-order got to dodge a bullet.

The Switch is an amazing concept, and BotW is an awesome launch title. However Nintendo has seriously fucked it with faulty hardware. If this was an Xbox/Playstation release I’d probably just give up and ask for my money back. As it stands they’ve made me a renewed fanboy out of me with stockholm syndrome. As a consequence Nintendo gets to ruin my supple white ass every day with their broken piece of shit hardware.

I recommend BotW, and I recommend the Switch as a concept. The silicon and plastic that holds it all together though leaves a lot to be desired.

Letters From The Editor

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I don’t talk about my job much here. I don’t kiss and tell. But in this case I’m making an exception. Andre the editor at M2 magazine was smitten by my cover story I wrote about Zac Efron of all people. I’m not exactly a high school music fan but the cover story eventually turned into an exercise of introspection. Checking our preconceptions against new facts. People are always changing, and if our opinions of people don’t change our perception of reality becomes outdated. This idea tickled Andre and he dedicated his Editor’s Letter to writing about me. I started working at M2 in 2013 and I’ve changed a lot.

This is what he wrote. Issue 143, April 2017

Some four years ago a fresh, starry eyed graduate from design school showed up as an intern just as we were launching New Zealand’s first iPad magazine. It was immediately clear that he had some serious design capabilities and he was also a bit of a geek when it came to coding so it was perfect timing. When he first sat in my office he was slouched by a weight of uncertainty and shyness. The beginning of his career ahead of him. Today he holds a different posture. He is married and remarkably for an Auckland millennial, he is a home owner. Since starting at M2 he has helped to create some of the most innovative interactive titles in existence, he has helped us pioneer what is one of New Zealand’s most innovative digital publishing arms and he has taken everything that he learnt in design school and become one of our full time writers. As I read the first draft of Isaac Taylor’s cover story for this issue on reinvention I got the distinct sense that he was talking from experience – it’s also an experience of course that most of us should be familiar with. It’s universal. There would be something very wrong if you looked back over the last few years and didn’t see some form of reinvention within yourself. It’s what keeps the journey exciting. I feel the need to end on a quote from President Trump but I’ll give the honour to Isaac. “You think about yourself right now as the final version of yourself. Look back ten years however and you probably think ‘I’m glad I’m not that dweeb anymore’”.

The Sponsored Account of Tongariro

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I originally wrote this for the magazine, with our sponsor Under Armour in mind. They hooked me up with some clothes and a pair of high tech $200 shoes. This version differs slightly with the mention of rum.

Updating the firmware on your shoes doesn’t sound like the usual sort of pre-hike ritual you might undertake but that’s exactly what I found myself doing in my hotel in National Park the night before me and five mates were to tackle the Tongariro Crossing.

We were doing the track in mid-march, and the week before the upper North-Island had just been hit with massive downpours that had quite literally threatened Auckland’s water supply due to all the silt. You know the one. The weekend forecast looked like rain and we weren’t going to take any chances.

I’m 5.9” 69kg urban dweller who barely ever gets outside, but this was my stag-do so my cohorts and I decided to put in a little effort for a change. In terms of gear I had Under Armour shorts and t-shirt, perfect for all the sweating I was expecting to do, as well as a longsleeved under shirt and long johns. Scrogin, 3 litres of water, a backup rain jacket and a pair of UA Speedform Gemini 3 RE’s rounded out my gear.

We hit the track at Mangatepopo at 8am with the instructions that if we got to Ketetahi 19km away before our designated rendezvous time there would be an earlier bus at 2:45 that would take us home. Challenge accepted! Also another challenge accepted was the extra litre and a half of rum Matt my best man gave me to lug the whole way.

The first leg was a nice warm up with a gradual 250 metre rise. The true test is the sudden incline that was to follow from Soda Springs up 300 metres to the South Crater. A couple of the guys keeled over half way up and my future brother-in-law Jeff wondered whether he’d need the inhaler he hadn’t used since he was a kid.

Making our way across the plane of the south crater there’s a pool of water, which at a push could maybe be considered a lake, don’t bother detouring to it, speed across the flats and scramble up to the Red Crater instead and get amazing views of the desolation that stretches east toward the Desert Road.

Further up we walk up into the clouds, which spritzes us with just enough water to keep our temperatures comfortable. So far the weather has been overcast, and without the sun beating down I’ve barely had to drink any of my water.

We had a choice to continue on to the peak of Ngauruhoe but decided that the extra two hours wasn’t worth the bragging rights, so we continued up another 100 metres to the aptly named Red Crater as it puffed sulphurous steam from it’s depths. It’s a spectacular view

The downhill part came next and is comprised of mulched up grit. Eager tourists sprinted past us only to pinwheel their arms and suddenly introduce their butts to the ground. The bigger guys in our group had trouble with the downhill, while Jeff and I scrambled down toward the three Emerald Lakes. Groups cluster around these crystalline pools and snap selfies like crazy, or spread out and eat lunch before heading out on the next leg.

The lakes are the turn off point for the rest of the northern circuit, which is a three day hike interspersed with cabins. Maybe one day I’ll give it a crack, but not today.

We hit the Blue Lake and turn left into the valley that winds its way to Ketetahi. A cool breeze blew through the valley and tussock start to sprout happily among the volcanic rocks. Prior to this there were precious few signs of life. But as we dropped 300 meters onto the outer slopes of Tongariro life started to literally buzz around us and the native bush slowly emerged around us.

The downhill was a blessing and a curse. By now we had decided there were two sorts of people in this world. Those who got destroyed going uphill, and those with gammy old man knees who couldn’t handle going downhill.

Before hitting the canopy of bush we were treated to a final expansive view north of Lake Rotoaira penned in by farm blocks and pine. Then we were in the bush, and we could have been anywhere in New Zealand. It felt just like I was just up the road from home somewhere in the Waitakere Ranges.

My gear held out well and my Under Armour set of clothes stood me in good stead. My pair of UA Speedform Gemini 3 RE’s were lighter than everyone else’s tramping boots and the only time I felt at a disadvantage was when I copped a shoeful of grit on my way down to the Emerald Lakes. The rest of the time I was impressed by their grip, often walking over slicked wet clay with no fear of natures reprisal.

We got to the end of the walk in about 6 hours, and after syncing my shoes to my phone it told me I had racked up over 30,000 steps in 20km.

Writing this now my muscles have stopped complaining and I’m thinking that I might be keen to give the Northern Circuit a go, but not before updating my firmware.

Our Cat Hates Us, and That’s Fine

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I didn’t say it in the last post (but I was thinking it pretty hard) that I’ll be releasing smaller videos more frequently in a weird effort to step this blog up into ’05 levels of vlogging. This is mostly because I have a perfectly good camera going dusty and a ton of ancient content that is yearning to see the light of day. I’ve also started using Premier Pro properly instead of Sony Vegas. Vegas used to be great, but somewhere along the line the mojo was lost and massive file sizes were found. Me and codecs don’t get along.

Not to say I don’t have codec problems with Premier, I just somehow seem to find them slightly more surmountable. For instance my camera sometimes records in the .MTS format which will occasionally lose its audio with Premier. Apparently this can be down to “workflow and file structure” fuckery. But even when I copy the whole shebang off my camera it’ll still pack a sad occasionally.

Anyway, Becky took this cute video of our cat, who’s gender and name are of no consequence. Both facts somehow manage to work their way into the video somehow anyway.

Izak Smells – The Crossing – Ep18

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The next episode should have been our South Island trip from ages ago, but it’s such a massive project I can’t find the time or the balls to do it. However this serves as a good warm up, and has me itching to do smaller videos just to get them out there. Expect another one later this week maybe!

Matt my best man gave me perhaps the best Stag Do possible, I haven’t been this relaxed in ages with work crushing down on me with the added twist of the wedding.

Turns out walking for six hours is exactly what I needed, with all that time appended at the bar. Cheers man, it was amazing, and thanks to everyone else who came along as well. It wouldn’t have been the same without you.

I might post a collection of shots from the crossing later as well actually. Just so we have a record that’s somewhere that isn’t Facebook.

Just the Way You Orisa

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Orisa released yesterday on Overwatch making her the first new tank since the games release. She’s got a pretty awesome skillset which comprises of everyone else’s skills all rolled up into one.

I thought her skins had a nice variety to them, or at least, enough for a launch. I mean, sure they aren’t exactly is startlingly different as Torb’s skins can be, but they’re fine.

People complained about this perceived lack of variety, but I was able to read between the lines and give people what they really wanted.

You’re welcome.

Also, is there an actual pun in the title of the post? Maybe? I’m not sure. I wrote it in the vain hopes you’d fill in the joke.