Oct 18

I’m Going to Japan


This weekend I’ll be in Tokyo for the Kaigai Manga Festival, Sunday October 23rd. I’ll be at table L-1, so if you’re in the area drop by and say hi.
On a related subject, next year is the fifteenth anniversary of GearHead. Would anybody be interested in buying a GearHead anthology comic? Are there any artists reading this who would be interested in contributing to one? I’d love to do one through Polar Bear Comix, but have no idea how much demand there’d be.

Sep 10

GearHead2: Resizing But Ugly


I’ve been working to make the GearHead2 screen resizeable. Currently, the program compiles okay but many of the screen zones are in the wrong place. The work of fixing things should be simple yet monotonous. I’m going to bring in as many of the GearHead1 info display improvements as I can.

On that note, the UI borders and background should be a little bit different between GH1 and GH2.

Aug 24

Return to Normalcy


I have returned from San Francisco and am now a certified master of fine arts. Yeah!

I’ve started on the process of making GearHead2’s SDL interface resizable, just like GH1. So far the screen size can be changed but few screen elements reposition themselves. Also, I’ve fixed a long-standing bug where “Ask About Rumors” will sometimes abruptly end the conversation. My next step is to get the rest of the screen elements working with resizing, then to replace the shoddy world map interface with a chunky map as in GH2.1.

Space is endless, but the interface still thinks it's 800x600.

Space is endless, but the interface still thinks it’s 800×600.

By the way, the other guy in the photo at the top is Pete Glanting; you should check out his webcomic Tomorrow Jerks.

Jul 26

I’m doing a comics reading in San Francisco


This Friday, July 29th, I’m going to be taking part in the CCA Graduate Comic Reading at 350 Kansas Street in San Francisco. The time will be from 6PM to 9PM. This event is free and open to the public; there will be food and drinks. If you keep your eyes open you may even notice a little bit of GearHead in the middle of my presentation.

Jul 04

San Francisco Comics Tour


On Saturday, one day after landing in San Francisco, I led some of the first year Comics MFA students on a tour of some of the best local comic shops. Our first stop was Isotope the Comic Book Lounge, followed by Comix Experience, Whatever (helpfully suggested by James at Isotope), and Mission Comics and Art. According to Google Maps that’s 7km of comics goodness.

On Sunday, I did the comics tour again with some different folks.

This annual trip to the states is my one chance to visit English-language comic shops. It is equal parts thrilling and heartbreaking- thrilling to see all of these books, heartbreaking that I can’t buy them all and bring them back to Korea with me. There’s a lot of great stuff happening in North American comics these days.

Jun 30

GearHead2 v0.630: Moving Right Along


I’ve just uploaded GearHead2 v0.630 to GitHub. This completes the move away from the old repository, and sets the baseline for future development. It’s not a very exciting release, but it does fix some longstanding bugs and add a couple of interface improvements. Check below the fold for the full list of changes. Read the rest of this entry »

Jun 28

GearHead on itch.io


I’ve just created a page for GearHead-1 on itch.io. I like that site. I have no idea whether anyone will leave a tip for me there, but at the very least it’s one more place to get out the message that GearHead is still kicking. I’ll probably upload my comics and other games some time in the future.

I hope to make a (not very impressive) release of GearHead-2 before heading to San Francisco on Friday. I would wait until I got the new graphics bits done, but I’m worried that I won’t have access to a Windows computer for all of next month. On the plus side, maybe I can convince a friend to let me try to compile GearHead on their Mac. It’ll be an adventure.

Jun 27

GH1v1.302: Dawn of Bear Bastard


I’ve just uploaded GearHead 1 v1.302 to GitHub. This release adds the first new content of my recent revisions in the form of two new lancemates. The Fan is a wannabe cavalier; they might not be very good at adventuring yet, but they have a lot of room for growth. Bear Bastard is the leader of the Teddy Bandits. Despite his criminal ways, he remains true to the code of Shonen Knife Bushido.

As usual, there are also several bugfixes. Check beneath the fold for the complete list of changes. Read the rest of this entry »

Jun 23

The Problems of GearHead2


So I’ve started playing GearHead2. In certain ways, GH2 is much more advanced than GH1. In other ways, it’s a giant mess.

Most of GH2’s problems are the direct result of my not having clear goals. My first intention was for GH2 to encompass the entire GearHead universe, planet by planet. However, instead of deciding at the start what the end state would look like- at minimum, a list of cities and worlds to include- I just meandered around to whatever areas captured my interest.

In addition, I wasted much of my development time on experiments that didn’t pan out. I spent a long time trying to make an OpenGL interface that looked decent; the final SVN commit from Sourceforge removed this. The hidden encounter mechanic turned out to be no fun at all. I really don’t know what to make of the Performance minigame that I added.

This wasted time becomes even more apparent when considering the things that should have been improved. The opening of GH2 is just terrible; the PC is dropped off in an empty house with no narrative intro or anything much to do. The graphics, which I spent an awful lot of time working on, often look worse than those of GH1.

But there’s also a lot of great stuff. NPCs, especially lancemates and arch-enemies, get some actual character development. Many of the locations and challenges are quite interesting. The plot generation is fantastic.

So, here’s what I plan to do:

  • Commit to 2D isometric graphics which will be compatible with GH1 and future GearHead projects. That way working on one project will potentially benefit other projects as well.
  • Narrow down the focus to this time and place. GH2 takes place in the L5 colonies during the rise of the Red Mask Raiders; their sudden appearance and mysterious origin should drive the major events of the game.
  • The game opening needs to set the tone. The spinner colonies need to have a different feel than Earth; more high tech and glamorous. Less Battle Angel, more Tiger and Bunny.
  • Polish up what’s there, and get rid of that which doesn’t work.

Jun 22

Fixing up plots


This week I’ve been updating some of the plots from the early days of GearHead development. Many of them have serious problems- they don’t scale difficulty to renown properly, lack email or memos, and deal poorly when the player character goes off-script. The easiest way to update missions, or at least the way that will probably introduce the fewest new bugs, is to simply copy over the dialogue text from the old plot into an up-to-date plot template.

Unfortunately, not all plots are simple missions. The “BusinessDeal” plot is a mess, and I’m not sure that I’ve ever encountered it while playing. Similarly, the kidnapping story is riddled with bugs and I’m not sure there’s any good way to set it right. I may end up disabling some of these plots until such a time as they can be rewritten.

The picture above is from the story Hey Greenbot! in Alien Lives. If you’d like to help me out as I prepare to finish my graduate studies, it’s available at the Polar Bear Comix webstore in cbz format.

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