My Cintiq is back home – celebrating by showing some recent sketches

After a week of testing they (the store where I bought my shiny) still couldn’t figure out what was wrong with my darling Cintiq, so I received a replacement. Brand new, shiny Cintiq. Welcome home!

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My apologies for the low-quality picture. :<

I’m happy in ways that can’t quite be described. When you have one of these monstrosities, you get used to ALL THE SPACE, and downgrading from 27 inches of drawing awesomeness to a 15,6 inch monitor and an extra-wide drawing tablet is painful indeed. While it still requires some tweaking on colors and brightness, I’m going to love being able to work on the Cintiq again.

Recently I’ve been sketching a bunch and thought – why not, I’ll just do a sketch pile and post it here. It’s missing my worst attempts at digital figure studies, because those were just plain awkward.

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As you might notice, I’ve also been playing with a couple of logo ideas. I’ve been entertaining the thought of starting an artsy business on the side of the second year of IGAD doesn’t come to pass for me. Anything could happen and it doesn’t hurt to be prepared!

On the note of being prepared, I’m keeping my thumbs up for all of you new IGAD applicants! The deadline for the intake assignments was at the start of the month, and I see my traffic dwindling little by little (insert sad face here). But I hope I will have helped and/or inspired a bunch of you, and that you will be accepted! Either way, I will keep on a-blogging about school and my artsy aspirations. I’m planning on focusing a few weeks after our honeymoon entirely on art by following one of the programmes at artcamp.com to get a better grip on color and fixing some of my other shortcomings as an artist. The more non-drawing things I’ve been working on at school, the more convinced I am that this stuff is what I want to do – I just have to work on developing better habits and more variation in my work. Forever a work-in-progress,  just like us humans in general. :)

Art books and full agenda!

The other day I could not resist the urge to buy this box set. The Sky: Art of Final Fantasy by Yoshitaka Amano.

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I’ve wanted these books for SO LONG. The price had gone down to 66 euros from 99 euros, so I just HAD to grab them. While browsing through them I realized something – it’s fun to see that some of the monster concepts Amano made for the first Final Fantasy are also part of the newer installments. These books have been my way of relaxing in between delving into my massive mountain of school assignments and have actually inspired me to draw a bit, too. Nothing worth showing just yet, but fun doodling nonetheless. :)

For the rendering class we needed to pick a material to research and to make a realistic shader of, and I picked satin. I had some leftover fabric from my wedding dress so I figured it could be a cool material to use – easy access and all that! For animation I’ve done a very rough block-in of my hopscotch action, and a bit of preparatory stuff for other things. Besides the NURBS assignment I haven’t really properly gotten started with any assignment (well, I did start with rigging yesterday, but ran into a major problem I need someone to help me with..), and I have about 4 and half weeks to go until deadline. Stress is at an all-time high due to all the stuff that I still need to have prepared for our wedding (seating arrangements in the restaurant! Entertainment! Ceremony details! Vows! My bouquet! Breaking in my wedding shoes!), and you can probably imagine why I’m having trouble sleeping.

The closer the big date is, the more excited I am about it all. It’s going to be amazing! :)

May workation!

There is never a week of absolutely nothing in IGAD, is there?

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Rainy “vacation” week! Let the homework spree begin!

Since we’re not getting a study week in this block, some of us treat this vacation as a sort of a replacement for the missing study week. I told myself I’d be ready with my NURBS assignment by the end of this week and I’m making decent progress despite the fact that it’s probably the most frustrating thing in my life so far. Ever.

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I “only” have the hardest bits (the A-pillar and the darn weird blends around the headlights as well as the gaping hole at the back) left to go, and I am trying to figure out how to deal with them. Never give up, though!

Meanwhile, I’m having a great time figuring out how I want to texture the Hexabot. I kind of wanted to try something more ladylike, so I figured I could texture the ‘bot like Tyrande Whisperwind! Maybe with a bow to boot, if I feel adventurous.

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The design was inspired by this design by zfischerillustrator on DeviantART. I think I will simplify bits of it, leaving out the feathers, maybe the cloth bits as well, and having a few areas of rest in the Hexabot to create a nice rhythm.

I’m doing my best to make sure this block will go fine despite me being slightly distracted by all the wedding-related things. The fact that I’m missing 5 credits because I didn’t pass Modeling 2 yet is giving me some extra stress though, and knowing how difficult rigging is for me I’ve been considering my options if I won’t have the needed credits to continue in year 2.  I think I’ve learned a lot, especially about the things I like doing and don’t like doing, and what kind of direction I want to take my career regardless of whether I stay at IGAD or not. Well, time to concentrate on school stuff and do my best! :)

The first wedding-only update!

I’ve been working my butt off getting everything ready for the big day, and things are more or less straightening out. It’s 2 months and 18 days until the big day, and while I’m also working hard on my school stuff, occasionally I indulge in Pinterest idea sprees and just… drool at things. Now is the turn for you guys to get a sneak peek at what is happening “behind the curtains”, if you will, as I share a few of the things that I have arranged for us. The links in the post are not by any means sponsored, though, so all of this is just my honest opinion.

First off, I’d like to do a big shout-out to our amazing future photographer, Lotte from Lotts.nl. The moment I saw her website some years ago, I decided I needed to have her as my photographer on my big day!

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© Lotts.nl

I love her style of photography so much. Lots of natural light? Check. Natural, unforced poses? Check. Amazing eye for great photo opportunities and nice personality to boot? Check! With her as our photographer one worry is definitely out of my mind. We will get beautiful pictures that are print-it-out-wall-wide-poster worthy, and this is indeed a big thing for me as it’s the best way to remember the day many, many years down the road.

Secondly, Etsy is amazing. I love supporting crafters themselves, and I also adore the fact a lot of the stuff you get custom-made for you. There is nothing that warms up my heart like custom-made things. The thing that makes ordering from Etsy expensive is the fact that most of these crafters seem to be in the US, which will end up in a hefty dose of import taxes. Sigh.

A few of the stores I’d like to highlight are Love Storey Weddings (I am so looking forward to our thankyou-item order arriving!), and Divine Jewel (I’m loving my hair comb like I love chocolate).

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DivineJewel brooch hair comb

The communication with these sellers so far has gone beautifully, and I would definitely order from them again.

One other online store I’ve been ordering from, and love the service, prices and website is weddingdeco.nl. There are so many amazing decoration things available that it’s almost overwhelming. I’ve spent whole evenings trying to figure out my decoration plan, and it’s all slowly coming together.

Besides decoration, weddingdeco also sells these fancy bags:

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I HAD to buy one for my mom. She seemed to be happy with the glittery gold awesomeness, because she was positively squealing.  Another bag titled “mother of the groom”, was delivered to an even more squealing future mother-in-law. Man, I love surprising people.

A few things still need to be done (like figuring out how I’ll be hanging my decorations), but there’s light at the end of the wedding-arranging tunnel. And no, it’s not an oncoming train.

Rainy days, broken Cintiq and our GL game!

Since my last post was dreadfully picture-less (bad blogger! Bad blogger!), I’ll make it up for you, readers, and add lots of pictures in this post!

The pretty weather changed for a bit rainier in the past few days and our kitties have also been feeling a bit lazier than usual.

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The only correct response to a rainy day.

Besides homemade photography, I’ve been also busy with, drumroll please, school assignments.

The only thing deterring me from going all-out on ALL THE THINGS is what my Cintiq decided to do.

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Yes, those are stripes. Multi-colored stripes of doom, dominating the right half of 27 inches of this pretty display. Coming out of nowhere. Bajeezus.

I’m going to have to package this baby up and bring it back to the store I bought it from. Just the sheer amount of dismantling that is needed to make this one ready for delivery makes me want to sob like a little girl.

Sigh.

Before my Cintiq started throwing a hissy fit, I managed to get a few things started for our GL2 game. We’ve finally settled on a working title Into the Spectrum, and I felt like a logo was necessary.

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Still needs a bit of tweaking as I think I need to play with the sizes of the typography a little, as well as finish the scribbly edges a bit better. But hey, it’s more than what we’ve had so far!

Last Game Lab session I also spent time making team logo suggestions, and one logo gained huge popularity. So, I proudly present, the draft of the future team logo of IllumiNaughty!

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Our game is coming along a bit better than last block (we’re making progress with the platform design, monster rigging and animation and all that jazz!), so I’m gaining confidence that we’ll finish it without too many hassles by the end of this block. Another proverbial boulder off my shoulders.

I’m slowly making progress on my NURBS vehicle, and I’m feeling less like I will fail spectacularly this block. Time to focus on getting animation 3 rolling, and make sure my rigging assignment will work out.

Luckily tomorrow is King’s Day, and that means I get to sleep in and work on my assignments! Woohoo!

Starting on Block D!

With all the big things coming up by summer vacation, I’m trying to find ways to make my life considerably easier. Since I have access to some of the information about the upcoming courses, I’m taking a bit of a sweep at understanding what’s going to be thrown our way. Looking at days of a week, my schedule looks like following!

Mondays: This one is a fairly changeable one due to all kinds of holidays being on Monday the next few months. One week it’s 9 to 17, another week 15 to 17.  Animation 3, Study Coaching and Audiovisualization 1 are the usual contents of this school day.

Tuesdays: Animation 3 classes are split to Mondays and Tuesdays in something that resembles logic in this block. Also, Introduction to Procedural Modeling! This course scares me the tiniest bit. These days range from ridiculously short (9-11) to medium (9-13). All those early mornings…. T__T

Wednesday: “Off”. Sweet, sweet days of being able to catch up on homework. AKA sleeping in, waking up and barricading myself in the study room to catch up, and for the first weeks to work my butt off on Modeling 2 assignment for the retake.

Thursday: Game Lab! Fun but exhausting days. Not sure if I will go to life drawing classes in this block, because, well, priorities.

Friday: Texturing 2 and Rendering 1 classes! I’m looking forward to them. Days are medium-ish, starting at 9 and ending at 13.

That being said, I’ve also looked through some old course material for these courses and have a general idea of what we’re going to be doing. For rendering we have 2 assignments: one is to make in-depth research on a material and create it in Maya, as well as creating more materials and making a beauty render of the MD2 assignment (I won’t be able to use mine as it’s not complete.. but ah, well.) For texturing we’ll be texturing the hexabot mesh we rigged in block B (I still have nightmares from that!). As for Audiovisualization, if the assignment will be the same as it was last year, we’d be making short videos in teams- one as a kickstarter video for our GL2 group, another as a teaser for the game itself. Since I have a tiny bit of experience with Sony Vegas and the Adobe video editing software, this should be alright. I wish we could use GL1 as a source material, because I would have had a lot if inspiration for that. For animation we’ll be creating short, full-body animations in groups.  And as last, of course, the introduction to procedural modeling – the act of generating models according to parameters the user sets. Last year the “exam” assignment seems to have been making a generator that puts out cars according to specifications. All this seems to be made in Houdini, which I might want to play around with for a bit.

I think I will still have some wedding-related stuff going on in the background – need to finish my decoration plan – but all of this will certainly keep me busy until July! All this in between dress fittings, last minute thing-arrangings, and also trying to get some sun so I don’t look like a ghost with my wedding dress.

Vacation week, languages and short people dress shopping

The weather here has been absolutely brilliant!

Before my mother arrived on Tuesday morning, I was rushing to clean the place and fix appointments at bridal stores. Setting the inflatable mattress ready, moving out my drafting table, gathering all the papers laying around (I had more than I thought…..) and generally rushing about. Sun was shining and the temperatures through the roof when I picked my mom up at Eindhoven airport and brought her to Oss.

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The popular theory is that my mom brought the great weather with her from Spain. 😉

We spent most of Tuesday shopping and after that chilling about, enjoying the sunshine on our roof terrace. I got a sunburn to show for it! At any rate, it was nice to babble in Finnish again.  I do that way too rarely, and find pronouncing certain letters a bit troublesome. It’s absurd, as it’s my native language, but I suppose many years of English and Dutch are wearing down on my Finnish skills.

The next day we were picked up by my future sister-in-law and mother-in-law, and the dress shopping could begin. We drove to ‘s-Hertogenbosch (or Den Bosch as the natives affectionately call it!) and wandered to a gala dress store (conveniently called De Galazaak) near the center. As it was pretty much a do-it-yourself affair, we picked out a few dresses and I tried them on. I liked a couple of them, but many didn’t really fit, were the wrong size or in general slightly torn and worn, missing embellishments and so on – not really something you want, even in a cheaper alternative for a wedding gown. But we did get a decent idea of what shape fits my body, so we headed back to the center for lunch to recharge and to chat a bit.  Being triliangual has its’ own challenges. I’m used to conversing in Dutch with certain people and in Finnish with others, and now it was time to speak in English with the family, Dutch with any cashiers and so on…. But these few days really played tricks on my mind! Ended up talking Dutch to my mom and Finnish to other people sometimes…. ah, well.

After a fulfilling lunch we wandered about in the center until it was time to head to the next location, an actual bridal store in Uden.

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Pictured: unsuspecting bridal gown victim and her mother

Stepping in I saw a few mannequins with beautiful gowns, elegant floor carpeting and wall-long racks full of wedding dresses of all kinds. It’s enough to make anyone feel a bit overwhelmed. As a lady who is 154cm tall, just seeing how long these dresses are made me feel like I was drowning in a million layers of tulle, satin and organza!

Luckily with the professional help of a salesperson I was brought several dresses to try on, and quickly dressed in a torsolette and a pair of sandals with tiny heels. Getting into my first dress I was wondering just what I was getting myself into by even thinking of purchasing an actual wedding gown, but the “ooh”s and “aah”s that were echoing in the store as I stepped out of the dressing room reassured me that this would definitely be the way to go.

First dress wasn’t quite the thing for me, though. The second one, on the other hand……

I was sold as the salesperson was zipping up the dress.

The “ooh”s and “aah”s had risen an octave as I strode to the mirror with a sheepish smile.

The dress had found me.

It was hard to look away from the mirror! It was amazing how I felt in the dress, turning this way and that, admiring the detailing. Pardon the vague descriptions, but I know my better half also occasionally reads this blog and I’m trying to avoid spoiling his surprise! I will be more than happy to show pictures AFTER we get married, but until then you’ll have to believe that my dress looks amazing on me. Of course there are a lot of modifications necessary, especially since the store can’t order the dress and be sure it will arrive in time… so I will get the in-store model. Which is fine with me!

So, dress shopping was done in 1 day, which was pretty amazing.

Afterwards we also found outfits for my mother and future sister-in-law from another store. Needless to say, at the end of the day we pretty much collapsed on the couch.

On Thursday evening we also had dinner at my future mother-in-law’s place.

Pictured: one happy family enjoying onion soup

Pictured: one happy family enjoying onion soup

All in all, I really enjoyed my mom’s visit, and I’m really happy that my dress is another thing I can check off my list! Onwards to the rest. :)

Block C – finished!

This was the toughest – darned – block. Fun and challenging, but also frustrating. Since you’ve been seeing bits and pieces of my assignments so far, I figured I’d post the final results.

I’ll start with saying I’m not posting my Modeling 2 results since, well, I didn’t manage to actually properly finish the assignment. The more our teachers, TA and classmates were trying to explain how it all was supposed to work, the more confused I became… so yeah, that one’s a retake for sure. I do want to retake with another car though. Holy crap I hated modeling the Picanto.

Anyway!

Onwards onto the rest…

Art Theory 2 – 3D fundamentals

I liked this course a lot! Our assignment was to create an original space ship concept and modeling it. I didn’t mind doing a gazillion iterations, but I did run out of steam towards the end and ended up skipping part of the iteration process because NURBS were draining my soul. Bad excuse, I know.

These were my final renders… a bit of a long way from my initial sketches, but fun nonetheless.

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I ended up making my space ship/space station hybrid a bit girlier than intended. With regards to the back story I was kind of inspired by Orlais in DA:I, with all the political sneakery and such. Concepting this was SO much fun, though!

Drawing Skills 2

I kind of loved and hated this course at the same time, if it makes sense. We had 2 major assignments: an exploded view drawing of a model car as well as an original spaceship concept that needed to be placed in an existing environment. It wasn’t really clear what we needed to do with the perspective grid so I ended up redoing it several times. Well, in the end I managed to make things I was actually pretty satisfied with. It’s not perfect but hey, I can see that I’m learning. :)

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Writing Skills 1

This course, while not artistic in the same sense the other courses have been, also offered me a fun alternative way of expressing my creativity. Our main assignment for this course was to write up an argumentative essay consisting of 1000-1200 words. Academic essay writing is fairly restricted, but I found a topic I liked (Modern games being pretty but boring) and went for it… Too bad I ended up writing a 1300-word draft and needed to backpedal and figure out a more organized approach. For the first time since upper secondary I digged up a mind map and started going through my arguments one by one and organizing them. I think I’m getting one of the better grades for this one!

All in all I have a fairly good feeling of this block, besides MD2 being my first retake for sure. I’m trying so very hard to not beat myself up for not being perfect the first time around, but it’s tough. A lot of people are taking naturally to this subject whereas I’m just feeling confused and lost, no matter how well people think they’re explaining the subject to me. By the 7th week of block C I was quite sick and tired of cars and spaceships, let me tell you that…..

Now that I’m done with my deadlines, I can start focusing on my wedding preparations for a week or so!

We’re going to go dress shopping with my mom next week, and I’m not sure if I’m thrilled or horrified. I’m so short I’m afraid I will look like a child playing a princess, no matter which gown I put on. Every bride wants to feel beautiful on their wedding day but my self-consciousness might make it really hard for me, especially standing next to N who is a fair lot taller than I am. Back when we were on vacation at Rhodos and had our pictures taken at the resort, I looked like a kid compared to him and simply the thought of the same happening in our wedding pictures is enough to make me break out in cold sweat.

The thing I’m going over the moon about is decorating our house for the big day, and I’ve found a lot of cool things to make it festive indeed. Our wedding is slightly Japan-tinted due to our honeymoon destination as well as our choice of restaurant for the big day, so I actually bought some paper lanterns too. I fell in love with this white-and-blue ombre lantern from weddingdeco.nl!

Ombre paper lantern

Since our colors are white, blue and brown I also grabbed some tulle in these colors and am planning on hanging it wherever I manage to do that. I’ve found so many cool decoration ideas I think either my head or wallet will implode.

Yeah, I’m going to have to plan this out a little better than “MUST BUY ALL THE THINGS!”.

Time to enjoy my well-earned week off.

Thanks for popping by and reading my blog!

 

Favorite spring activities

The logic of NURBS keep on evading me and I need a break from thinking of anything 3D related.

Inspired by a short session of WordPress tutoring for my future sister-in-law, K, I grabbed a writing prompt from Pinterest and thought to sit down for a bit. Words on digital paper, you know. Almost as good as drawing or playing a game.  So, today’s theme is “favorite spring activities”!

My favorite activities are, in no specific order…

Dashing to a nearby garden center and bringing home armloads of flowers.

Maggy stops to smell the flowers.

Maggy stops to smell the flowers.

This I do every spring, no matter what. When it gets warm enough, flowers are blooming and birch pollen begins tickling my nostrils, I seem to be aimed at a garden center and will obsess repeatedly until this “chore” is done.

STRAWBERRIES

strahbws!

I have not done this mandatory crusade this year yet. Considering that I want to have something green on the front terrace when we get married (making a cozy entrance would be so much fun!). Such a pity the terrace is shaded most of the day even in the summer, and I can’t seem to find something pretty to fill the space. Maybe a fern or something?

Spring cleaning/organizing extravaganza

This could be anything, ranging from getting rid of something that had been laying around for a while, to painting/other general fixer-uppery in our home. Quite often I dig into a closet and pull out something that hasn’t been used for months (years?) and donate it.

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Pictured: broken organizing dreams

It’s actually fairly surprising how much STUFF just lays around. I wouldn’t consider myself a hoarder by any means, but I suppose I tend to sometimes just buy things that end up hiding in a closet. Like these containers, that my better half hates and thusly have been exiled to the closet under our stairs. Sob.

Photography sprees

Guilty, guilty, guilty. I LOVE my Nikon D7100 to bits but don’t really use it enough! There are tons of cat pictures, of course, but occasionally I have had the chance to take some fairly decent pictures of, well, anything else. Mandatory cat pictures first
! 😉

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I shoot both in NEF and high quality JPG, which means that my photography folder is a whoppin’ 86 gigabytes right now. I am not looking forward to having to sort it all out!

Spring is a great time (except for the pollen and my allergies of course) for me. I seem to double my energy levels due to all the sunshine and warmth. I should have been born a gecko. Could bask in the sun all day long. 😉

About game narrative design and stories

I have always loved stories. There is nothing quite like sinking in a comfortable chair with a cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other. Getting lost in a different world for hours on end, vividly imagining every detail. Losing track of time and being so invested in a character’s story that if something sad happens to them, you cry. If another character says something funny, you laugh. When the going really gets exciting, you hold on to the edge of the chair and can’t seem to read fast enough, turn the pages fast enough. You might even be holding your breath (happened to me when reading “Fire in the Blood”. Really.) while reading a plot twist you did not anticipate.

Lo and behold, the power of imagination.

I’ve lately been talking with my classmates about some games and especially a conversation about The Order 1886 pops to mind. The game in itself is drop-dead gorgeous – the characters, props, environments, everything. I multitasked with a playthrough by The Rad Brad of it on the other monitor a few weeks back, listening to the game a whole lot while working, and watching it every now and then as well. While I could appreciate the characters and the general feel of the story, the game felt somewhat.. hollow.

Mind you, I loved the story. I adore a good internal conflict and personal growth of characters like I love a good bowl of ice cream.

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Pictured: awesomeness.

 

Galahad’s struggle was a slippery slope down into the delicious kind of misery that wrenches your heart and fills you with profound sadness for someone. There was quite little to counterbalance the tragedy of the latter half of the game, and the ending is a big fat “I’M GOING TO HAVE A SEQUEL WHETHER YOU WANT IT OR NOT” hook. Fair enough. You won this round, The Order 1886. What you didn’t do was leaving ANYTHING for the player to imagine or for them to choose.

Without going into a long rant where I would probably end up paraphrasing most of this article about narrative design for games, I’ll have you ponder the following:

Converting character development into personal development is the key to truly immersive storytelling.

This is, in my opinion, at the very core of what makes some games merely cinematic experiences to be watched, and others masterpieces to be fully immersed in. In order for this kind of development to take place, the player needs to be at ease with (and relate to) the main character. Games like Skyrim are perfect for this: you can create your own avatar, so you’re already more “invested” in whether this character survives their ordeals or not. You choose which quests to do. You choose which faction to side with. You choose whether you spend your days antagonizing local poultry or sneaking your way up the hierarchy of the local guild of mages. I know I did both and had a blast ignoring the main plot until my character (a Bosmer archer who was great at stealth-killing everything in dungeons) had 3 mansions and a husband.

One could argue there is quite little personal development going on in Skyrim, but I digress.

The fact that I’m actually talking about narrative right now is, well, turns out I really like writing. Besides blogging, and talking about the doing-art-thing-that-I’m-doing, I actually have written short stories before. I only ever published snippets here and there, mostly on diverse role-playing game fora. Inspired by NWN (ah, the possibilities of a good ol’ D&D game) and WoW, I’ve written my share of what could be called fan fiction (if fan fiction of my own characters counts as fan fiction). My future husband is attempting to make me write more, besides. When time allows, I’ll try to put up a page with my existing story snippets. Because narrative design and stories are cool.

And because I’m resisting the urge to blather on and on about wedding preparations.

Since this is the last actual week with lessons before the end of the block, some stress can likely be detected for the next few weeks. If you hear unidentifiable banging from the distance, it’s probably just me – banging my head into a wall, or a desk, trying to understand NURBS.