Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Mario Mushroom Patterns

Mario Mushrooms are probably the most popular sprite among Bead Spriters and Needlepoint makers alike. So I took a look at a couple of programs and I created some patterns for you to download for free.

First Up: Regular Mario Mushroom

Second: Megaman Mario Mushroom - 
If you just want to buy one instead of making one - they are available here

I also do personal designed Mario Mushroom Wall Art for $14.99 - available here

Thanks for checking out my blog - please share with friends. Also my store and Facebook needs some likes which would be appreciated. Like me!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Review: Emmett, Kat and Fearless PS All Stars add-on

Playstation All-Stars was my game of the year 2012. I know it was an odd-choice for many, but for me - the game brought unparalleled depth to this type of fighter. But enough about that, let's get into a quick review of the new characters.

Emmett Graves from Starhawk:
Emmett Graves is my favorite of the two new characters. There is something about his movement and weight that feels natural. Emmett appears to be a middle tier character. His attacks are not particularly quick, but they are varied. Like Toro, he can switch his stances - or in this case guns. While at first this appears gimmicky, slowly but surely this becomes more complex. Furthermore, depending on what gun he has equipped, depends on his level 1 super ability. It's tricky for sure, and he is not newbie friendly (although, really, besides Kratos, who is?) but there is a curve that requires more of an initial time commitment than Kat. Emmett is a character who constantly builds energy. His most interesting attack (in my opinion) is his  turret, which auto-shoots and helps build energy. He really wallops characters, so he is powerful at both mid-range and close range. Playing keep away will yield little results; however, with his ability to summon a beacon that gives AP points, it is not an entire loss if you're against a character who likes to keep his distance. By far, Emett's level 2 ability is the most impressive. As a rocket hurls towards the earth, anything in its path is killed and it also has a hefty blast radius upon landing. His level 3 is also impressive as he enters a giant mech and could easily rank up 6+ kills. Emmett's not for the faint of heart. After many many battles, I'm still trying to figure out all his weapons and their best utility. Like Toro, Emmett is a methodical character and he can adjust to many situations, but learning him is not the easiest, and he is no powerhouse like Krators or Nariko.

Overall: B+

Kat from Gravity Rush
I believe Kat will immediately enter into popularity like Kratos and Raiden. She is quick, agile, combo heavy and she really does everything. Sliding across the screen, summoning objects to be launched at other people - Kat really is impressive in many facets. With Kat, there is definitely an ease of use, compared to many other All Stars characters. She is devastating at close range, and since she can close the gap quickly, other characters are in your constant danger. Combine this with a fairly impressive projectile and Kat may be one of the most dangerous characters on the roster. What really will set her apart is an excellent Level 1 ability. As she dashes across the screen, you can almost always guarantee a kill or two. While her Level 1 is excellent, her Level 2 leaves something to be desired. Maybe I cannot quite figure it out, but I can usually only get one kill with this super. She jumps up and shoots two sets of three projectiles, but controlling them or getting this super to do exactly what you want is not too easy. Her Level 3 ability is much like Nariko's or Jak's. Devastating in the right hands. Kat is an impressive character, she easily gains AP, and her Level 1 is vicious. As for her other Supers, they require a bit more finesse, but with practice, the Level 3 will shine.

Overall: A

Both characters are worth additions and feel right at home in the game.

I hate Fearless. It is a personal hatred. I actually think it is a worthy addition, but I just needed to get that off my chest. A cross between Heavenly Sword and Wipeout, Fearless is an impressive stage, but it lacks the cohesiveness of other levels. The level starts off basic enough. In fact, this is probably the best part of the level. It allows for action to occur in a normal and standard way. The barrenness really does give it something unique, and since it lacks any platforms, it really helps separate it from other levels. Then the second part of the stage happens. The left the stage is multi-tiered and feels like a tight confine, and on the right is an electric wall. I hate that electric wall. In the Infamous level, everyone always groans when they hit the electrical sign. But the sign turns off in that level. In this level, the wall never turns off. But in all my time on this level, everyone seems to hoard around it with the hopes of knocking someone into it. It is a disaster. Furthermore, because of the unevenness of the ground floor, the level forces chaos in a way that I have not seen in another level. Everyone either clumps on the right next to the electric wall, or on the left where it is safe. This is not a level for characters who like a keep-away strategy. The electrical wall is actually a track from Wipeout, so aesthetically, the level is gorgeous. But for me, the fun is kind of sucked out of it.

Overall, the level is a worthy addition. It has a unique feel, which is impressive considering nearly each and every other level does too. I just hate how chaotic it immediately feels. It reminds me of the first 30 seconds of the Uncharted level, but it lasts two minutes too long.

Overall: C+

Friday, February 15, 2013

Magic The Gathering's best handmade items.

Today I completed the posting of my Deck Boxes. These items I am excited about for a variety of reasons. First off - my Magic Deck Boxes are consistently my best-selling items. Second - their unique look and original design makes them something I am super proud of.

My items - of course - can be purchased at my shop

What I wanted to do was showcase some other amazing Magic the Gathering items available on Etsy.

First up Leifkicker's Koth themed box. Besides his gorgeous designs, what also makes his item special is that they are perfect for EDH decks.
Item available here.

Froggy Creation's D20 Bag is the perfect item for all your dice. I'm thinking about investing myself. His shop has a variety of different colors of this item.
Item available here.

Crafted by Design has created an item that is amazing for EDH fans. While $80 might seem steep, this item is worth every penny! It has everything for life counter to a hidden compartment for counters. I own one of these beauties myself!
Item available here.

Iamadecoy has some gorgeous etched shot glasses. He sells them in a variety of glasses as well. Totally worth it I'm sure.
Item available here.

Cherriesama has a set of 10 Ravnica buttons for basically $1 each. Pretty awesome. With Ravnica in full swing, this seems like the perfect investment.
Item available here.

For more handmade items: check out this Treasury.

Promote handmade items! These are gorgeous items and you should be sure to take a look at each of the stores (including mine!). Even just increasing their view count would be appreciated by these sellers.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Thoughts on Gatecrash

Gatecrash is the latest expansion for Magic: the Gathering.  It is the sequel to Return to Ravnica, which featured five guilds, each representing a different color pairing.  On the surface, Gatecrash is simply the other five guilds, but in practice, it provides a very different environment.  I found RTR to have a slower, more cerebral, environment where you would build up an insurmountable board presence through an army of tokens, or complicated tricks, or using your graveyard as a resource.  In Gatecrash you turn your dudes sideways.  A lot.  The guilds and mechanics in GC emphasize attacking with your creatures whenever possible.  The games are fast and the hits are hard.  In the games I played last night, ten point life swings were common.

Let me clarify that these opinions are based entirely on a limited and casual environment.  I draft and I play at a kitchen table.  Constructed environments like standard, modern, and vintage are intriguing, but also expensive and terrifying.  And frankly, I don’t have the cash or the nerve to compete in them.

In GC, red is king; which is nice since red so rarely gets to be king.  Gruul (red/green) and Boros (red/white) are the two most powerful guilds.  They are also the most fun that I’ve tried so far.  Gruul is a very aggressive guild that is filled with surprises.  A majority of their creatures double as pump spells for your attacking creatures.  Suddenly that 1/1 dork turns into a 10/10 with double strike and you’ve stolen the game.  It’s one of the most satisfying plays I’ve made with this set.  The Gruul also enjoy a savage tribal theme that adds a lot of flavor to a Gruul deck.

The Boros legion is the military of Ravnica.  Their strategy involves a literal army of little creatures.  As a guild, it can end games very quickly; sometimes as early as turn four.  Their mechanic encourages you to attack with at least three creatures to turn on some interesting effects like flying and double strike.  I love how this guild has made haste interesting. 

Simic (blue/green)  is a guild of scientists.  The art of this guild is some of my favorite in the set.  Their creatures are experiments often combining multiple animals into something crazy looking. (Like a shark walking on crab legs!)  Their shtick is small creatures that grow larger with every creature you play.  Even without the presence of red, Simic decks can be aggressive.  It combines the creature efficiency of green with the disruptive capabilities of blue to make an effective tempo deck.  Plus: frog alligators!

Considering the color combination, the Dimir (blue/black) would seem like a guild of heavy control, and they are; it’s just handled a little differently than usual.  Their idea of control still involves attacking with creatures.  They are a network of spies and assassins who work behind the scenes, and as such, a lot of their creatures are unblockable or difficult to block.  This plays into their mechanic, which involves replaying spells when their creatures hit the opponent.  It can be very difficult to disrupt a good Dimir deck once it gets going; furthermore, there is a mill theme at play with this guild (that I have not explored just yet).

The Orzhov (white/black) is unique in GC in that it is not inherently aggressive.  There are a lot of creatures with defender in this guild and this proficiency for blocking makes for a great counterweight to the sea of attackers.  Their mechanic involves needling you one life point at a time, and once they’ve set up their fortress, they can really grind out a game.  Their theme is maybe my favorite of all ten guilds.  They are the religious presence in Ravnica, but they are also the cruel moneylenders.  This combination of greed, piety, and elaborate costumes might be a stinging critique on organized religion, or simply the most interesting way to combine the themes of white and black; either way, the mechanic helps emphasize the idea, and it makes for some fun art.

I’ll be honest; I love Ravnica.  I missed it the first time around and I’m ecstatic to be here for the return.  Between this set and the last, there is a guild that does whatever it is you want to do in MtG.  Most would call this a multicolor block because of the focus on playing with two or more colors, but to me, it feels more like an expert level core set.  It does everything that basic magic does, but makes it interesting and exciting.  Want to make a deck with fliers?  Why not draw a card every time one of them connects.  Want to make a token?  Why not make forty.  Want to combine a Komodo Dragon with an actual dragon?  There’s a guild for that.  (Seriously, I can’t get over Simic.)  I hope we return to Ravnica again sooner rather than later.

Dan's new Deck Box: Available on his etsy shop

Sunday, February 10, 2013

How to Create a Magic Deck Box

This is a tutorial on how to create a Magic Deck Box with no lid.
Estimated time: 2-3 hours
Materials needed:
White Plastic Canvas: 89 cents
Light yellow yarn: $3.99
Dark yellow yarn: $3.99
Black yarn: $3.99
Basic needle set: $3.99
Scissors: $7.99

All items are available at a craft store such as Michael's or AC Moore. The initial cost is expensive, but once you have the materials - the creation of subsequent boxes is cheaper because all you will need is Plastic Canvas. I always purchase Red Heart Brand yarn - it is the most flexible and looks the best in my opinion. Stay away from Vanna White (too thin) or Sugar n Stuff (too hard). Also - you will want a dedicated pair of scissors for this because they will dull out normal scissors.

The cut - you want:
Two Large sides: 19 holes x 27 holes
Two Small sides: 10 holes x 27 holes
Bottom: 10 holes x 19 holes

Thread your needle.

Put your needle all the way through and leave a bit of yarn on the underside. You want to create a diagonal stitch that wraps around the left over yarn (this way the whole thing does not fall apart).

To create the tightest stitch possible. Fold the sides on themselves and just continue stitching as normal.This will also speed up the process.

Unfold the section when you are done. Rinse repeat for each side. Sometimes it is difficult to pull the needle through especially as you enter the third side. Grab a pair of pliers, and pull - that will help!

It is more time consuming than anything else. You will eventually be able to get quicker and be able to incorporate designs.

Designs can add anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour per side. Mana Sprite Pattern

It is my favorite past time, but it may not be for everyone. For those who are just interested in buying one check out my shop: Etsy Shop

Here is an example of one of my Deck Boxes with a lid.
Available now: White Deck Box with Lid

Friday, February 8, 2013

My top five items of the week

This was my first full week of being back on Etsy. So far I'm pretty happy with how it is all going. Traffic is up,  as are shop views, but I did forget how time consuming the whole process is; nevertheless, it is all a lot of fun. Getting better at tagging and taking clearer pictures. Here are my top five items for the week:

#1: Pac Man and Ms. Pac Man in Love
Sometimes my most favorite designs are the simplest. Everything about this item I love. It is striking in its simplicity, and it is perfect with Valentine's day around the corner.

#2: Magic the Gathering Deck Box - Island
This is going to be something you see much more from me. Colored canvas items. They're easier to produce, which in turn makes them a cheaper price. They're exciting and they look striking. I am going to be creating much more of these deck boxes, and I plan on making a tutorial on here in the upcoming weeks.

#3: Portal Turret - I Don't Hate You
Another colored canvas item (pure white). I have made an item similar to this in the past, but I made it on flexible cloth canvas, and while the item looked good, it had some awkward tension. By creating this on colored plastic canvas, I can get the same striking image and it looks as good or better than my other items.

#4: Big Daddy from Bioshock
This is a remake of one of my most popular items. For whatever reason, this item, while my shop was closed, continued to get many many views. This item has been sold out for many years so I figured it was the perfect time to bring it back.

#5: Pixel People Mayor
I already raved in my blog post about how much I love Pixel People. I am still enjoying my time. If the game takes off, like I think it will, this will become one of my hot items.

And there you have it: My top five items. This upcoming week: look for my first tissue box listing of the new year, as well as a tutorial on how to create your own Magic the Gathering Deck Box.

Please like or favorite my blog. And be sure to check out my Etsy shop

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Pixel People (iOS) Review

Chillingo games are consistently the top selling games for iOS devices, and this is the second game in almost as many weeks that is an absolute must download (Pudding Monsters was there other outstanding release this year). Unlike other Chillingo games, Pixel People is free to download; furthermore, it embodies one of the best free 2 play (F2P) models I have ever seen in a game. Pixel People is a blend of Doodle God and Simpsons Tapped Out. But it takes the best of these two games and integrates them in a clearer and more fascinating way. From its blending of genres to its emphasis on discovery Pixel People is the best game for iOS this year.

In the future, the world is floating in a mysterious space vacuum. Producing houses produces clones and these clones can be turned into classes; quickly, these new classes can be fused with other classes to produce even more classes. At the basic the game sees ideas such as the Assistant + Sheriff = Deputy. Eventually you'll have an array of classes included Winemaker, Magician, and Cameraman.

In addition to creating classes, some classes yield new buildings. Fusing and finding out what you create is truly a lot of fun. In the game Doodle God, you would try an endless number of combinations with no clear direction. Pixel People circumvents this by graying out classes that have no new match. This may seem like easy mode, but Pixel People is not about difficulty, it is about discovery. The game encourages you to expand, design and create the most exciting town possible. 

The only real difficultly comes in managing your real estate and residents. Buildings yield money, but they also take up space. Eventually, land expansions will be needed to place more buildings; also, all your clones need homes so you'll be plunking down new residences left and right. The game rewards you with every move and  every button pressed, but there is calculation in your class choices because of the valuable real estate they will inevitable take up.

The emphasis on discovery has continued throughout my playtime. Certain buildings produce different money and bonuses, while others will unlock achievements or tell you a future combination of classes you should try. Pixel People's clean design is never overwhelming and the interface works wells. The only issue comes in some of the vague explanations. People I know who have played have all had the same questions: what do parks and roads ultimately yield. And the game does not give you any direction and does not explain what certain buildings do. The game could certainly be clearer. There also is no master list of your characters. So while you can see what classes you have fused together, you cannot see that your construction worker is at the bank or your assistant is at the hotel. This may not seem like an issue if there was only 10 classes, but the game is stocked with 150 classes. Hopefully, there will be a patch to make management a little easier. 

Earlier I mentioned the game is a F2P model. I have not been overtly a fan of this model, but many of these games are increasingly getting it right. A game that gets it oh so wrong is Simpsons Tapped Out (which is probably my favorite iOS game by the by). Donuts are the premium item in that game, and getting them is next to impossible. Pixel People also has a premium item known as uranium. Unlike Simpsons, uranium is easily found. You can get them by receiving hearts, by planting gardens, or by unlocking new buildings. I have earned easily 70 of these Uranium in my playtime thus far. I've spent it on a variety of free items and to speed up the build time of several of my buildings. I'm cautiously using it, but I am using it. It is a great model. In Simpsons you can go days and sometimes weeks without seeing donuts, while in Pixel People I have seen around 5-10 uranium in a given day and sometimes more. Getting uranium is exciting and the game encourages you to use. It is also important to note that uranium items are not overtly costly ranging from as little as 1 to as much as 10. 

The final bit that makes the game special is the heart system. As you play hearts will appear where you residences are. Click eleven hearts (or cheaper with building upgrades) and you will unlock a special delivery. The special delivery can range from a variety of items including rare classes, special animals, money (from 5k to 50k) or Uranium (1u - 5u). The game encourages you to play with your town constantly, something other types of these games shy away from.

Aesthetically, the game is gorgeous. It can seem a bit messy at first, but each pixel has a purpose. The pixel aesthetic is always adorable and sometimes very clever. The references to other video games and pop-culture always puts a smile on my face. The game is chock full of happiness and delight.

It all works well. From the gameplay, to the aesthetics, to the sound, to the pun filled humor (my Valet is called Ford Parker!). Pixel People is an amazing experience, and at the cost of free, there is no reason you should shy away from it. Chillingo has created an outstanding game, and it again cements Chillingo as one of the greatest iOS developers. 

For me: Pixel People is my nomination for Game of the Year (of the week).

In the meantime - I've created the first Pixel Person you receive - the Mayor:

Available at my Etsy shop $3.49 Pixel People - Mayor

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Bioshock and the Infinite Hype

Bioshock Infinite is easily one of my most anticipated games of the year. Available March 26th, everything is indicating that it is "game of the year" worthy. A variety of collector's editions are available, I have my Songbird edition (MSRP $149.99) already pre-ordered. Plunking down $149.99 feels daunting as a consumer, but I'm going for it! That said, I am having some small concerns.

The biggest problem is anticipation yields disappointment. Every year certain games get hyped beyond belief, and they either do not meet expectations for reviewers or the consumer. Last year Diablo 3 received this heavy backlash, even as the release was nearing. Was all of this backlash warranted? I'm not so sure it was, but it was there and people really felt strongly one way or another. 

Other times these types of games garner amazing reviews, and people expect nothing less than perfection. Uncharted 3 comes to mind when I think of outstanding reviews. Uncharted 3 was an excellent game, but it did not live up to the expectations that I had built up. Is that my fault? I guess so. But for me, Uncharted 2 was a consistent and exciting adventure with some notable set pieces. The entire game was exhilarating and became, for many, an instant classic. On the other hand, Uncharted 3 was all about the set pieces, and the in-between was a slog. For me, the game lost something. Expectations are awful because it seems that it is impossible for the standards to be met on any level.

This collector's edition is double the price of a new game, half the price of a Wii U. It's an expensive endeavor and the question becomes, will I find $150 of enjoyment? I hope so.

Today, I'm putting my expectations in check. I'm expecting a good game, maybe even a great game. But today I advocate for lower expectations. That way when the game even shows a glimmer of goodness, you cannot help but be impressed. 

All that said - I remade one of my most popular items today, which inspired my post today. Be sure to have a look. And remember: PREVIEWSALE saves you 15% for the month of February!

Bioshock mega marvel inspired by Captain Slam's Megamalgamation http://www.captainslam.deviantart.com/

Friday, February 1, 2013

Preview Sale

My preview sale begins today. Please feel free to use coupon code: PREVIEWSALE to save 15% off you entire purchase. Good for the entire month of February.

After much deliberation I have decided to reopen my shop.

What to expect this month:
Re-listing of popular items. I have remade some of my most sought after designs.
I have also made some new items which will be previewed here.

What's new!
In addition to my popular magnets. I have become more adventurous with the flexibility of needlepoint. That means more tissue boxes and brand new wall hangings.

Today's new items:
Shy Guy from Yoshi Island: $6.99

Wheatley from Portal 2:

Be sure to check out my ETSY shop: