15 October 2010

Perpetual Motion: People

At some point in your life you realize that it is not places but people that make you feel home.

So it is only natural that, as you leave places behind, you will want to bring your people along. A gift, a memento, a promise to write or to call, maybe visit. A social network link because, you know, you will also be chatting, talking, conferencing each other face to face across the chasm. Like being home.

Is it not great? Keeping in touch with people is so much easier than keeping in touch with places.

And maybe, if you are lucky, you will meet them again somewhere.


Age ten: Pator

Sitting on the rocks next to the beach, I was holding my knees to my chest while Taro basked in the sun, lying on his back with one leg dipping lazily in the water. The murmur of the ocean blanketed everything and was a lovely background to idle chat.

"Dunno. Journalist. An artist like Maman," I said, "something with people, definitely."

Taro chuckled "Like your mom? I hope not. She's fierce."

He had been one of my first friends back in Eram and one those who had left ahead of us. As it turns out when it had been time for my family to move out, dad's next assignment had been Pator. Down in Matar, actually.

Have you seen it? Of course everybody knows about Matar, the cradle of the Republic and everything, but have you seen it? From above it is this beautiful blue ocean world, with green dots here and there for people to live on. And on the ground, from the snowy mountain ranges to the plains and deserts to the jungle islands... oh, my favourite part used to be the islands. We lived on an island.

This is was where Taro's family had returned to. this was their 'home.' By some amazing coincidence we had ended up living on the very same island where they hailed from and it was cool because some of mom's old friends from Eram also were there.

Someday I would learn to do that, to arrange coincidence the way mom did. ;)

Anyway, funny how knowing someone from my previous life had helped so very much when I arrived... how long had it been, five years now? How time flies. Closing my eyes, I took a deep breath of salty ocean air. It felt great.

I felt home.

I swear there must be this law of the universe that says whenever I start feeling at home, it is time to move to some other planet. I did not want to tell Taro. And besides that, there was much more to say but... I did not really feel like it. Somehow it just felt as if it would make things more difficult. So I just looked at the horizon and kept the small talk going.

"And what about you?"

"I want to be a soldier with the Marines."

"Oh, I see. How typical, you want to kill people," I teased, "you suck, y'know."

"It is not about killing, Kü, it is about fighting for my people." He replied matter-of-factly.

See, most in his tribe, the Brutor, feel different about fighting than the rest of us. For them it is usually about people and freedom, not about conquest, profit or sport. Fighting is Freedom. Fighting is Life. I knew that.

Maybe I could poke him with that.

"That's just an excuse, you know, so all of you can go and beat the crap out of each other like in the holos."

He just grumbled and pretended to ignore me.

Hey, maybe that is what I really needed, a good fight. A good break-up fight so epic that we would look back, remember this day and think good riddance! That way we would not have to miss each other terribly, every single day. We'd hate each other's guts, good. I could live with that. Half a universe away, that's what I would do.

In case you have not noticed, I am really good at fooling myself, sometimes.

So there, Newly Discovered Fact: Fighting is killing, fighting is crap. I hate you because you want to be a killer. 'Cause I said so. Just like that.

I pushed it. "No, really, must everything be solved by fighting?" now seriously enough for him to take notice. "Stupidest thing in the world."

"Sometimes you can't avoid a fight."

"I think there is always a way, if you really want to. And if you are smart enough."

He grumbled again and, in the corner of my eye, I could see him tensing up. I kept my sight on the horizon, thinking of how to tease him next. There is something not quite smart enough about trying to pick up a fight with an islander, boy or girl.

Oh, whatever. Keep poking.

"So, are you?"

"Am what?"

"Smart enough?"

Without actually looking in his direction yet keeping all my attention on that corner of my eye, I think I saw his head move. He was there allright, maybe he was wondering why I was suddenly hostile. Or maybe his tribal instinct was sizing me up for a well-deserved beating.



"I'm leaving. Dad got transferred..."

A movement, then stopped. I finally turned my head and found him propped up on one muscled arm, the other resting on his knee, curiously looking at me.

"Kü." He still called me that.

"It's Amarr."

"Kütral, listen," he slid closer and drew me in. I felt his arm gently pushing me closer, firmly across my shoulders, and I nested my head against his chest. I did not hug back.

"It's Amarr, Taro, it's fucking Amarr. I am going to live in the Empire now."

You know what some people say, right? Only two kinds of people live in Amarr: slavers and slaves. Even in this day and age.

Yah, yah, I know, and already knew back then it's not like that... but how about everyone else? Did my friends know? What would they think, what would they say? I was moving to the Empire. What would he say, what would he think of me?

And I did not want to go but, what can you do? Sometimes there is just no alternative but going wherever it is comes next.

"So what? We will always be friends," he whispered to my ear, "You are one of my people."

WTF? Hello? I was trying to break up and he was coming up with this? And why was that, genius, to make things more difficult? Put me through the grinder and make me hate even more already what I was about to go through? I mean, was it that hard to figure out that we were over anyway, whether we wanted or not. Take a hint, you obtuse, uncaring and simple-minded idiot. I am going anyway, so let me.

Why bother? He has never been good at hints, even today. I pushed him away slowly, deliberately.

"Goodbye Taro." So much left unsaid.

I stood up.

"N'de rendape ajuta," he said to my back as I turned around.

Yah, right, I thought, I would love to see that. Ten-year-old crosses the universe to be with friend, news at ten.

I did not run, I walked... and I did not look behind, I just stared ahead all the way home. No running, no looking back, no crying. Hey, two out of three, not bad.

Only halfway my sore feet reminded me that I had left my sandals behind.

I did not care. Wish it had been only sandals.


Now by the second time you move, you have already learned it doesn't quite work the way you expected. There is always something in between: distance, timezone, time apart, the fact that no matter how many times you call each other, the nuisance of a call will never feel the same as sitting in front of each other for drinks. Or a hug. Or a kiss. And then you start drifting apart.

So it does not work, and it turns out that you do leave friends behind, as much as you may want not to. But you expected this already, right? I mean, you learned that the very first time you moved.

One thing though. Maybe, if you are lucky, you will have good friends; they will keep you in their hearts, the same as you keep them in yours. And the day you see each other again, it will be like you were never apart.

For good friends, those are forever.

Perpetual Motion
Previously: Places

12 October 2010

[OOC] Do-over

Lights check, ears check, eyebrows check, do-that-is-not-from-Lazytown...


With an aprés-pod look too.

There :)

08 October 2010

[OOC] Face Time

I have been rather busy lately.

See, I saw Myrhial's post and then I had to look for myself. That pic over there is a first go at what I would look like in Sisi.

I liked the sculpting tool, although I felt that it is sort of limited in range. I mean, you can move the cheekbone a bit but not too much, the jaw a bit but not too much, there is no control over the shape of your head -which limits the kind of hair you should be legally allowed to sport- but you can control the shape of your temples tho, and the corner of your eyes (WTF? "wow, did you see the temples on that guy?"). Yay. I guess that this has been done this way to get a more realistic look and, anyway, they do achieve that in spades.

It would seem that cartoonish pics are no longer that easy to create, whereas the classic pic maker made it more challenging to create verosimile ones. Way to go!

Sorry, you gallies all look the same to me.

I wonder what will be the implication though, maybe we will transition from people that look all cartoonishly the same, to people that all look realistically the same? Then again, I have not played enough with this to build radically different faces within the same bloodline.

Maybe it is possible. We shall see.

Then again, maybe that's ethnicity at work, people looking alike. I remember that ethnicity did limit some of the choices you could make before, like no red-headed Amarrians, Brutor being generally more tanned and the Lonetrek facelift -that weird tight hairdo- only being only available to Civire and Sebiestor.

No such limits this time but again, test phase and we shall see. It would be cool if choices were ethnical (hair, eyes, tan) and some location-based (hairdo choice wherever you re-cast a character)

Fashion emergency

Regarding clothing you get the basics from what I guess are each race's designs of one piece of each top, pants, jacket and shoes. You can mix and match, and I happen to think Matari boots work surprisingly well with an Amarrian tunic :)

Designs are indeed gorgeous and very detailed; from a heavy-looking ornate tunic to a running tank-top. I can only imagine what the CCP wardrobe design department will be coming up with.. and I can't definitely not imagine all the many different ways that people will use them.

One thing though: no accessories yet, but these are promised for the future. I want backlaces!

Full freckles ahead!

You have many different face options, from hair to eyebrows to makeup and eye colour, no tattoos allowed. Sculpt sensitivity is weird, it takes some time to figure out what happens when you pull features in different directions with up/down/wide/narrow being an easy guess and smile/smooch/frown/sneeze being not so intuitive.

Eyebrows do not really work well on Gallentean faces yet and with my freakishly huge in-character ears, I guess I will be sticking with the bob for the time being.

Oh by the way? The round sliders are not that difficult to work, if you hate sliding it is possible to just click on any position and voilà, it slides by itself.

Express yourself!

After sculpting, I was surprised to find that you can make faces. I mean, you can smile or frown or squint, which is not the same as -and trickier than- pulling your mouth up or changing the size of your eyes from the previous phase. Range is again a bit conservative (see if you can tell wide-eyed smile from squinting smooch above and... yes, wide toothy smile was possible but I rather not). The pre-set poses look natural and are a much better starting point than the old ones.

What is cool is that the pic is alive as it is posing! Slight movements, eyes that wander here and there, light changes in expression... you get the idea. Which also means this is only the tip of the iceberg: come Incarna, I think you will find your avatar fidgeting, frowning or making faces you may not have intended and well beyond the control of the posing environment.

Which, I think, is a good thing.

And this is where the game is -'cause character creation is a game, did you not know?- in making a character that looks lifelike, real. Someone you could be talking to on the holo, or an ID card snapshot, or a realistic expression of happiness, anger, sadness, vengeance or whatever background history your character has. And it is still as challenging as it was before because, even if you get all these aids like the pre-sets and limits, the entire process from head to toe has now so much more complexity, that it still leaves you lots of room to come up with something unique, genuine and yours.

All things considered, I am quite impressed. It shows that there has been a lot of care and hard work done on Incarna, so I would like to send many thanks and kudos to CCP.

Also, thank you for allowing us to see this!


PS: I tried the Deteis and they look stunning already, just by pressing "continue" all the way. They sorely need to look uglier. Really. Lots. Nerf please!

PPS: I can see a meme calling. So, what do you look like in Sisi?