Saturday, July 7, 2012

Gearing Up to Game

I miss the weekly gaming session, but with an upcoming schedule change, I believe I can work one out.

In order to run a game, I like to "Gear Up."  Simple process really.

Skim the books of the game I am wanting to run, then grab some interesting thing I find and jam that square plot peg into the round setting hole.

This can be the hardest part for some, running the scenario you want to run in a setting that it does not 'fit' in at first glance.

In order to 'Gear Up,' I try and spend some time re-familiarizing myself with the setting, grabbing the books, skimming the system info, reading the important parts of the setting, etc.

The hardest part for me is always settling upon a system.  There are many that I just love: d6 from WEG, Omni/Talislanta from Morrigan Press, SLA Industries from Nightfall games...ok, there are really just a couple that I honestly like.

After that, it is just a matter of setting.  what do the PLAYERS want, fantasy?  Sci-Fi?  Pulp?  Modern?  This can be hard to sort through also, as until you know, you are kind of stuck in what you want to do, and there is a good chance that every player will have a different answer.

When this sort of challenge rears its sick-toothed grin, you have to get everyone to agree on the basics first, of which, I only consider there to be three:  Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Modern

My breakdown is fairly simple...powered body armor or space travel?  Sci-Fi.  Sword and sorcery?  Fantasy.  iPhone and Jaguar?  Modern.  Galleon and parrot?  Historical.

That is the basic breakdown you want from your players, after that, it starts to get a little convoluted as you start to leave the basic genre and start heading for the niche.

Subgenres.  I have talked to people in the past that basically stated I was wrong in this, that so matter what you do with a basic genre, it is always that particular style: fantasy is fantasy, sci-fi is sci-fi, etc.

Looking at the trash spilling from Hollywood, that is obviously wholly misguided.

Sci-Fi genre + gangster subgenre + fantasy races trope = a high powered setting with space travel and organized crime gangs run by malevolent beings (demons, orcs, devils, etc).  Wait...was that "The Fifth Element?"  I believe it was

Fantasy genre + gangster sub + fantasy races trope = as above, but no space travel, no powered armor or lasers.  Maybe one of the crime bosses is a sorcerer of some ability, or an Elf that has a very charming ring...magic is everywhere, and can be used as currency.

Modern genre + gangster sub + fantasy races = Shadowrun...without the magic.  Or add in the magic trope of fantasy and VOILA!  Full on Shadowrun campaign!


  • Advanced science (weapons, vehicles, space travel, etc)
  • Plots centered around daily life
  • Usually some background of how we can overcome our differences and work together
  • There is no Good or Evil, only shades of gray
  • Usually skillset based: Pilot, Mercenary, Diplomat, Scientist, Military
  • Examples:  Star Trek, Alien, Blade Runner

  • Primitive items (torches, swords, metal armor)
  • Plots usually involve some epic adventure (killing a dragon, routing an Orc horde)
  • Magic, fantasy has some sort of magic, or religion
  • Good vs Evil - black and white, orcs bad, elfs good
  • Usually class-based: Fighter, Magic, Rogue, Healer types
  • Examples:  Star Wars, Beastmaster, Dragonslayer

  • Player gear can usually be purchased in the real world
  • Real world companies exist
  • Usually some sort of survival plot
  • Characters can be anything found currently in the world
  • Usually skill-based progression
  • Examples:  Ghostbusters, CSI, Jericho
  • Some point in our past history is the stage for the game:  Old West, Victorian Europe, Pirate-infested Caribbean, Cold War era, etc
  • Historical figures are alive and well, familiarity is not exactly needed
  • Loosely based off of history, normally, historical campaigns only present the Hollywood adaptation of the world at that time
  • Usually skill or skillset based: Gunslinger, Gambler, Gladiator, Spy
  • Examples:  James Bond, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Untouchables
Those are the basic Genres that I use.  After that, it becomes a matter of tropes, or dressing.  Some favorites used in many games include the following:
  • Alien Races
  • Monsters
  • Horror
  • Comedy
  • Fantasy Races
  • Large Empire vs Rebellion
  • Romance
  • Superheroes
Everything else is just a matter of mixing and matching until you get what you want, sometimes you do not even plan for something - Comedy and Romance can crop up anywhere without warning.

After getting the setting and dressings down, the stage is set.  Time for choosing a system.

More to come...

Friday, June 29, 2012

DAZ|Studio 4 PRO and Poser Pro 2012 - a comparison

Okay, first off, I have only spent about 4 or 5 hours using Poser Pro 2012 and 6 years using DAZ|Studio.

Within this post I am going to touch on the following, because they are important to me:
  • Cost
  • Documentation
  • User Interface
  • Included Content
  • Content Management
  • Scene Composition
  • Lighting
  • Rendering
  • Content Creation
Please keep in mind, I am not a professional, this is purely from a hobbyist perspective, everyone has their own way of doing things and you may not agree with my opinion, this is NOT a flame towards either program.


Cost, for the hobbyist, can make or break a decision.  Luckily the folks at DAZ run some pretty crazy specials and for a long time was available for free, at this moment DAZ|Studio 4 Pro is $429.99.  PoserPro2012, on the other is not free, and has a regular price of $499.99, that is a big difference, especially for a hobbyist who does not make any, or much, money from his hobby.

So, the Cost category goes to DAZ|Studio 4 Pro, because it saves you $70.00 for the program.  (The basic version of studio is still free at the time of this post)


DAZ|Studio has all their documentation available online in wiki format.  That is great, as long as you have internet available.  Unfortunately, wiki seems to have some really big holes in the information.  All the cool features that would get you to normally purchase the software (content creation tools, auto-fit tool, etc) have very little information available and you will either have to ask a lot of questions, twiddle until it is right, or search the great interwebiverse for the information.  There are also some video tutorials on the DAZ YouTube channel with up-to-date information.  Searching the internet will bring up tutorials but, due to interface and scripting changes, may not be as informative as you hope if they are for an older version.

PoserPro2012 comes with documentation in a 812 page .pdf format, in addition to a plethora of up-to-date/barely changed tutorials on the SmithMicro site, RuntimeDNA and a large amount of other 3D sites.  Some of these tutorials also go way back to earlier versions, but in every case I have seen, they are still accurate and helpful.

PoserPro2012 wins the documentation category, hands down.

User Interface

For me, this is a HUGE factor in my preference.  The UI for any program does not need to be "intuitive," it needs to be "intuitive to YOU."

With that in mind, I always preferred Studio over Poser.  The past 6 years I have used Studio 1, 2, 3, 4 and every incarnation since 0.8.  My Poser experience was limited to Poser 5 for that entire time and it was just clumsy for me where Studio 0-3 were intuitive.

With Studio 4, as with every major upgrade it seemed, there was an overhaul of the UI, nothing really major, until version 3.  It hurt a bit going from v2 to v3, but my experience with Poser5 did help some making the change.  The version 4 interface seems to have removed all of the goodness that I grew to love in version 3, although, it is still very easy to use once you get used to it.  More customization (ahem, like in version 3) would be wonderful.

The PoserPro2012 interface, remember I come from Poser5, is a wonderful change.  The layout is easy to navigate, Poser5 made me feel a little claustrophobic, PoserPro2012 has come leaps and bounds in my opinion with the interface.

As for now, this is a hard choice.  While the UI for Poser is more mature in its implementation and when you open up the program it does not feel like some child's toy, Studio still seems to feel like it is geared for 10-15 year olds (no offense intended to our younger artists).

Since this is a comparison between Studio4 Pro and PoserPro2012, Poser is going to take home the interface overall because it feels less like a video game and more like a 3D application.

Included Content

Content, for those who do not know, refers to the models that you can load and go with.

Studio4 comes with:
  • Genesis - a triax weight mapped androgynous character with morphs for male and female
  • The Millenium Dragon
  • Male and Female clothing for Genesis
  • 2 load and go scenes with accompanying tutorials (which can be downloaded for free)
  • Content Creation Tools - to make your figures animatable
  • Advanced shader creation
  • Auto-fit tool - just in case you have been using the DAZ figures for the past few years and have a backlog of clothing, this tool allows you to fit Generation 4 figure clothes to the Genesis figure (specifically, Micheal and Victoria 4 clothing - but you can purchase additional capabilities for the older figures)
PoserPro2012 comes with:
  •  Human figures: 74, thats right 74! Human figures of varying resolution and quality dating back to Poser (original), also, the newer figures are weight mapped.
  • Cartoon figures: 3 Superheroes (Alphaman, Betaboy and Gammagirl) + 13 other toon figures
  • 34 Animals: pets, sealife, dinosaurs, etc
  • 4 Anatomy figures: 2 musculature, 2 skeletal (1 male, 1 female of each)
  • 3 stick figures, 8 other skeletons, 5 mannequins, 2 heads and 4 hands
  • a few robots, a plushie, a zeppelin, a few vehicles
  • Advanced shader room
  • Dynamic Cloth
  • Dynamic Hair
  • Content Creation Tools
  • Multitude of poses, lights, etc
With the above list, Poser does seem to come with more actual content.  Something that should be kept in mind though, the DAZ figures Micheal and Victoria have more overall content created for them both for sale and as freebies, they are also in poser format, and Studio does read the Poser format natively.  Poser does not read DAZ native formats (.daz, .dsf, etc).

Both programs, however use different forms of weight mapping and are not actually compatible.  You can get the figures to work...but not as well as they will work in their program.

While Genesis is 'neat,' (look it up on YouTube) I will have to side with Poser on the content side, makes up for that $70.00 difference easily (most base human figures will be anywhere from $20-$40.00).

Content Management

With content, you have to learn how to manage it or you will spend hours looking for that particular hair you want or texture, or pose even.

StudioPro has a built in management system that has the ability to only bring up what you have for a particular figure - at the moment, for older content, you have to learn how to set this up.  This is called "Smart Content."  You select Genesis, click on the Smart Content tab and you get to see everything available for Genesis that you have installed "metadata" for (not to worry, the new stuff comes with installers for it).

Other than that, the interface at this point becomes clumsy as you go through tree after tree in your content folder(s) looking for things.

Poser used to have it even worse, in Poser5 you have a thin drawer that you get to search through, this has changed with PoserPro2012!  Your content library actually opens in a different window with quick-clickable icons for Figures, Poses, Faces, Hair, Hands, Props, Lights, Cameras, Materials and Scenes.  Underneath the icons is a drop down menu "Show Library" which allows you to view all of your selected content (according to current icon) across all folders or a particular folder that you choose!  You also have the ability to further customize the look of the library window.

While both programs have searchable content, PoserPro2012 makes the library so easy to navigate, unless you have a LOT of content you will not use it often.  PP2012 also has a "Favorites" tab in the library window so for the figures and items that you use a lot, you will not have to go far.

PoserPro2012 takes the gold for Content Management.

Scene Composition

Scene Composition, putting things where you want them, is a major concern.  If you have to struggle with the interface to put things where you want them the experience will be less than fun.

Moving and placing items within a scene in Studio is easy and quick, thanks to the manipulator style that is used, just grab the arrow and move, rotate or scale.  In addition, the manipulator is similar to many other programs, such as Hexagon, Carrara and Blender.

PoserPro2012 on the other hand seems to make it just a bit harder.  You can noodle with the translation with the 'body' of a figure selected to move an entire figure.  I have not found a way to make it similar to other programs and a quick run through the preferences sheds no visible light on this.

Studio excels in this category just because of the manipulators, but I also want to mention that while Studio seems great for a large encompassing scene, PP2012 excels at smaller scenes.


Both programs have their pros and cons here.

PP2012's pro is the light controls that Studio does not have, while Studio's pro is being able to setup the lights with a "view through" as you would a camera.

Studio and Poser both have some good light controls, a skilled person will be able to make magic happen.

I would consider this a "tie."  Neither program has superior lighting, just different styles of lighting.


DAZ|Studio uses the 3Delight render engine based off of Renderman and PoserPro2012 uses the Firefly render engine.

The controls for both render engines in each program are fairly the same at the advanced level, with a few more options in Poser than in Studio.

As with the lighting, the style of render you are going for will play a large part of which program you prefer.  Studio seems a little less "real" in the final product.

The main concern here is, while you can set your scene or character up in Poser, save and load into Studio, you cannot do the reverse without a lot more work (setting pose files for positions for everything).  If you start your scene in Studio, you will not be able to take it into Poser to render.

Content Creation

For those that want to do this, I strongly suggest Studio for posepacks, Poser for materials, and either is fine for rigging - although Poser has the rigging documentation.

In addition, any poses done in Studio that you want to share with Poser users will require the Poser Format Exporter from, overall it is easy to use.

This area of concern is my main reason for getting PP2012.  Although I do my posing in Studio, my prop creation is more comfortable with a modeling app -> Poser workflow, no export needed, just import model, set materials and save to library.

Also, Poser is considered a sort of "industry standard."  Poser files load natively into many different platforms, such as Carrara, or with cheap/free updates from the developer, like Mojoworld.

Studio files load natively into...Studio.  I have heard rumours that the new .dson format is going to fix some issues with Carrara, but I have not seen much success come out of importing daz files into any program.

Dynamic cloth and hair,  Poser has it natively, Studio does not. This has been an ongoing sore-spot since Optitex decided not to allow people to create dynamic clothing in Studio, and was the main reason I used Poser5 still.

Poser is a must for content creation.


 Everything considered, even with my bias towards Studio, PP2012 scored higher overall.

DAZ|Studio 4 Pro : 4
PoserPro 2012 : 7

Main points that Studio lost out on are: Documentation, Content and overall exportability for Content Creation.

I still love, and use Studio, but in order for content creation and overall usage, I feel as though I have been forced into using PP2012.

Thank you, Smith-Micro, for improving the interface, that alone made the purchase worth it to me.

Movin on up!

This week I had the privilege of purchasing PoserPro2012 to further my 3D forays, hang out with some old friends and get some good news at work.

Personal and work stuff aside, lets get down to the goodies.

I have again been modeling in Blender while learning Poser7 (while waiting for delivery of PP2012).  A couple of guns this time and a few other things that will remain on my HDD possibly for later sharing (doubtful though, still have some techniques to figure out).

 The two pistols I modeled, first one based off of the Tippmann Hero Paintball marker. Learned quite a bit considering I had to redo the grip 3 times to get it vaguely to where I wanted it.

Static OBJ format at the moment, will more than likely take it into Poser to make into a prop, if so, I will attempt to make the trigger pose-able.

Second project is based off of a Magpul design. The reference image I used actually makes it look like a pistol case that unfolds into a stock.

Not really happy with that, I turned it into more of a sci-fi bad movie prop.

Again, this is a render of the static OBJ in Blender and will be taken into Poser to create a prop for some fun.

Both, when finished, will end up on ShareCG unless some major overhauls go into play (doubtful, as in my mind the modeling is completely finished).

More to come!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Morphing Mace

Spent the last two days working on this, would have only taken a few hours if I did not have to keep going back and redoing things, lol, live and learn!

Modeled the mace in Hexagon with the plan to make a set of them, after some thought I concluded that it may be best to just incorporate all the other options in morph-form.

Not the best model in the world, but it got the job done and in the process I learned some very handy things:

1.  Have a plan!  Because if you do not, then what should only take a couple hours will take you a few days
2.  Setup the runtime BEFORE texturing, lol
3.  Have all the morphs and textures done BEFORE exporting as prop file

Thats about it.  Here is the final product:

Have already uploaded it to ShareCG as a freebie: Morphing Mace

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

More "proof" that I am a "terrorist" according to the law...

From Osceola county website, my comments in red...

Communities Against Terrorism

Potential Indicators of Terrorist Activities Related to Martial Arts and Paintball Activities  <because learning how to protect yourself, the basics of teamwork, sportsmanship and exercise are what terrorism is all about!>

What Should I Consider Suspicious?

Related to Individual Appearance, General Behavior, and Communications:
  • Alters appearance from visit to visit (beard shaved off, hair color changed, etc.)  <crap, I shaved>
  • Insists on paying with cash or uses credit card(s) in different name(s)  <crap, I use cash because being enslaved by some immoral bastard that gives me a plastic card just does not sound like fun to me>
  • Identification provided is inconsistent or suspect or demands identity "privacy"  <granted, I provide appropriate ID to law enforcement, but I do seem to have a bad habit of asking why they stop me for it>
  • Customer travels illogical distance to participate, or location is illogical for group  <who decides the distance is illogical?  A guy cannot visit another area to take part in a sport or competition, guess they need to keep an eye on those olympic people too then!>
  • Nervous/suspicious behavior or evasive about group's purpose (ask other patrons about group) <I don't know...seems like I always received a better reaction saying "oh, just hanging out with friends" as opposed to "heading over to a buddies house to get my slaughter on and go wenching!>
  • Interest in learning offensive moves in a confined space <again...because learning to defend yourself is such a bad thing...>
  • Interest in learning the use of hidden weapons  <because you can be completely clueless about a threat and still have no problem defending against it...not to mention my last RPG character was a NINJA!>
  • Interest in learning kill and restraint techniques with no occupational need  <see above...HE WAS A NINJA!>
  • Individuals who together are interested in learning group tactics  <yeah, like football players, soccer players, hockey players, wargamers, MMO raiders, paintballers, RTS gamers...>
  • Participants making racist or extreme religious statements <ok, honestly, I got nothing on this one>
  • Unusual comments made regarding anti-US, radical theology, vague or cryptic warnings <radical theology...okay, so no talking about fantasy pantheons or flying spaghetti monsters...what about aliens and the warnings about them returning?  Cryptic who believes in the Second Coming of Christ, the Mayan 2012 thing, Global Warming, Global Cooling and Planet X?>
Related to Group Activities, Training Activities, and Training Location:
  • Incorporating close combat or hand-to-hand fighting into training  <like boxers, hockey players, MMA fighters and people who just think kung-fu is cool?  how about wrestlers?>
  • Designing a paintball field to mimic security checkpoints (such as schools, theaters, airports, malls)  <um...its called S-C-E-N-A-R-I-O paintball for a reason.  Seriously, what would OK D-day be like without a German checkpoint to storm?>
  • Using diagrams to create obstacles (may resemble building or airport security, etc.)  <yep...gotta keep an eye on those wargamers and role-playing freaks...>
  • Creating scenarios that incorporate law enforcement  < all those times I came up with missions involving the players (law enforcement) since 1992 make me a terrorist?>
  • Practicing kidnapping or ambush scenarios; may simulate use of RPG or explosives  <um...yeah...I must be the next Osama, all those non-fantasy RPGs (role-playing games), wargames and...oh CRAP!  I WAS IN THE ARMY!  I am so screwed...>
  • Referring to military/jihad training manuals or clearly submitting to a leader in the group  <you your boss at work...or referring to military manuals because they actually teach some useful skills, like first aid for emergencies...>
  • Operating a private facility that's not available or advertised to the public  <like that gaming table in the basement...that only my friends and I use?>
  • Converting large plots of rural land to paintball fields or military style training camps  <errr...playing paintball in a downtown urban area would not be safe for bystanders...and you kinda NEED a large plot of rural land to play woodsball or scenario paintball.  Also, would get some seriously strange looks if you held ninja-camp downtown>
Note: It is important to remember that just because someone's speech, actions, beliefs, appearance, or way of life is different, it does not mean that he or she is suspicious.  <unless they play team sports, own a paintball field, talk about role-playing games, have a military background or believe in end of the world scenarios, write detective novels/comics/stories, etc>

Thursday, February 2, 2012

DAZ|Studio4PRO, Bryce7PRO and Hexagon 2.5 FREE!

DAZ|Studio 4PRO, Bryce 7 PRO and Hexagon 2.5 for FREE!

Yes folks, it is true, all three of these simple 3D programs are up for grabs from DAZ3D for the entire month of February.

DAZ|Studio 4 PRO

THE easy to learn content manipulation software on the market today Studio comes packed with features, including the new Genesis figure with weight-mapping, 3delight render engine and ability to import all those crazy Poser freebies you can find online.  Perfect for character visualizations and still images, with enough animation tools to get you started in a fun way.

In addition, this free version is NOT the normally offered free version of the software.  This IS the PRO version containing the Content Creation Tools, Auto-Fit tool, Morph-loader, FBX Exporter, Photoshop Bridge, Hexagon Bridge and 64-bit compatibility.

Normally this software sells for over $400 and until February 29th, it is FREE!

Bryce 7 PRO

Bryce is a wonderful program, although the learning curve is a bit steeper than Studio due to the interface not being quite as intuitive (in my personal opinion) the capability and power of this program is easy to see when you follow one of the brief tutorials on the DAZ3D website.

Create beautiful skies, stunning landscapes and impressive HDRI images!

Hexagon 2.5

Hexagon is my modeler of choice for its simplicity of design.  While some programs may require the finesse of a rapier-wielding duelist, Hexagon charges forward like a hammer-swinging barbarian.  It gets the job done...and quickly.

In addition to basic modeling features, Hexagon also features Second Life sculties for your manipulation pleasure!

With all three of these programs on sale for the low price of FREE! anyone and everyone has the chance to have a wonderful 3D package at their fingertips with full forum support in a good community.

Go now, add to cart, checkout and start your downloads!  While waiting, check out the forums for some tips and tricks or the tutorial section of the website to get the basics in your mind before you even install the programs!

Most of all...HAVE FUN!