For Valentine's day, I had a little surprise for Henrieke! You see, in January, my mom and my nieces went to see Ice Age Live. Everyone else uninterested, except me of course, knowing that even if the show turned out to be boring, the costumes would be amazing!
Well, it turned out I was utterly impressed by everything, the show was super entertaining and left little to be desired!
Naturally I would've loved to watch it with Henrieke and I had to hold myself back with bursting out about how awesome I thought the show was. Seeing in the Netherlands was no option as we would be in the U.S. by the time the show was there, but I didn't give up that easily and found out that it was played in Oberhausen, Germany, a bit more than an hour from Henrieke's house! I quickly snatched some tickets for the show on Valentine's day, booked some flights and looked forward to a nice surprise!
I even managed to keep it secret, Henrieke didn't guess it until we arrived at the venue!
Anyway, to the show and why I enjoyed it so much!
Other shows I know make large compromises with their costumes and stick to abstract designs in order to give the performers more freedom or simply because their costume designers are not very good. Well, in this case, the costumes were absolutely true to the movie and everyone performed incredibly. In fact on some photos I saw before the show I had to look closely to see if it was CG or costumes.
Both shows are aimed at kids primarily, but one of them doesn't have creepy human body parts sticking out of their characters.
They did have some fighting scenes that were impossible to do with these detailed costumes, so their solution to this was that with some costumes (Diego and the Birds) the performers would wear simpler costumes under their bigger costumes and quickly switch (on stage) for those scenes. I found it kind of odd at first, but actually a pretty nice solution and definitely better than "half-assed" costumes for the whole show. Also they included some nice acrobatics in their performance which is always fine with me!
Kudos to everyone on ice, the vision in those costumes couldn't have been good. Doing a solid performance on ice where bumping into another performer would be very bad, all while you have a lot of light shining into your eyes, that's an achievement! At one point there were about 30 performers on the stage, all with limited vision, yet perfectly choreographed!
I can't decide whether I liked Sid's or Peaches' performance better, in any case Peaches was definitely more adorable! Sid moved just like in the movie, combined with the super-on-model costume it was a fantastic performance! All the other characters also were really lively!
If you go in and expect an amazing story, you might be a bit bummed by the simplicity of the story. Honestly, I didn't care about the story at all as it was basically just a device to get all the characters into various situations0!
The many different aspects
I loved that the show had something for everyone. Adorable costumes, cheesy music, great character performance, some pretty bad-ass ice skating, acrobatics, even more impressive acrobatics in 2-person costumes and more. Definitely something that both kids and adults can enjoy, and looking at the people in the audience, everyone did.
For me, another thing to enjoy was also the amazing craftsmanship of the costumes, and thanks to our seats just a few meters from the stage we had a very good view on that.
A whole load of photos is behind the cut!
Recently, Henrieke and me (and Kiki) were in Berlin to see a concert and to meet friends. Since we were curious about the Estrel, Eurofurence's next location, we stayed there one night to see what it's like. In case anyone finds it interesting, I'll write about our experiences, especially comparing the hotel to the Maritim. Keep in mind that everything is based on a one-night-stay and will also contain personal opinions that others might not share! This should not be a deciding factor for going to Eurofurence. You should go anyway as it'll be amazing!
A bit late, but here it is: our report of the Kraftwerk concert on 18th October at the Evoluon in Eindhoven. We've been in this building once before, and it looks not only out of this world but also pretty nice from the inside. Usually it's used as space for conventions, but there could hardly any better place for a Kraftwerk concert than this! We went with Layown, Kaelin and Kenai who were all pretty stoked about seeing KRaftwerk live, thanks to Kenai for snatching us some tickets again, the concert was booked out instantly and we didn't manage to get any ourselves. Here are some impressions from the evening!
As you can see on the photos, there was a 3D projection in the background. Due to us standing right in front of the stage, the 3D effect didn't work too well, but seeing Keaftwerk from so close was much cooler anyway! I got some really nice shots that way.
Without much comment, here is the result of tonights "eat poop you cat" game we did at the artjam after the Comic market.
"A chiuaua-space-dog and a sausage-space-dog playing chess in the deep sea, while a giant squid with mustache is serving tea." by Lisa
"Astronaut chihuahau and astronaut dachshund play a game of underwater chess while Stalintopus serves tea. Anglerfish swims by." by Henrieke
"Under the sea. You'll find this mad tea-party. Candlelight-dinners without candles and a game of kings and queens. It's a mad party you'll see. After some time you want to know what's right or wrong. Was there a head on this octopus? Nevermind." by Fischi
"Alice in Wonderland Tea Party scene with the Mad Hatter, Alice and the march hare but they are an octopus, a bunnyfish and Alice had rope for arms and smokes out of her head." by Phil
"Spaghetti arm girl had a tea party with her aquatic friends while a gentleman watches her from the shadows." by Yamavu
"The spaghetti monster is having the most delightful underwater tea party with deep sea creatures while a spy is watching." by Andi
"A private underwater detective is investigating at a tea party held by the flying spaghetti monster who invited all his fish friends." by me
Here are some photos of the comic event "Vienna Comix" last weekend! Henrieke, me, Gerald, Luri, Lisa and Andy had a table again and Baseball showed up too!
Since it was the 20th anniversary and also the ever-popular Star Wars special with people coming from as far as Germany, it was very busy again.
When it finally calmed down a little, it was time for Baseball to get out and entertain people.
After fooling around a bit, Baseball went to the table and offered sketches to people which turned out to be quite popular!
Also, don't forget to visit the next Vienna Comix on 1st of December!
Last weekend was so packed with stuff, I feel obligated to write a post about it!
Friday, 27th September
On friday we planned to go to Game City, a free gaming event in the city hall of Vienna where big publishers present their new games. While games are nice, the real motivation to go there was of course to meet Ulrich Schröder, a great artist from Germany who draws a lot of the "Donald Duck Sonderheft" covers. On the way there we ran into the Neubaugassenflohmarkt, a big flea market where a lot of stores sell things such as art supplies, cameras, postcards and useless junk. We looked around a bit and then stopped by Haus des Meeres, the big Aquarium in Vienna which is located in an old anti-aircraft tower. They just finished their new rooftop cafe, which we had to see!
Later at Game City we met Ulrich after waiting in line for a while. It was quite busy there already and we had a short chat and agreed on meeting after Game City closes, which gave us about 1.5 hours to kill. At the same time on Stephansplatz, there was the campaign finale of the right-winged party FPÖ along with a protest against the party and their policies, so we went there and met up with Chris. Sadly, a lot of the protesters were too extreme for our tastes and while I would have liked to protest against the racism and intolerance that FPÖ spreads, we didn't quite feel like protesting against the police. So we stayed between the 2 sides and tried to take a few good photos capturing the atmosphere.
Back at Game City, we met up with Ulrich and Henrieke showed some of her drawings before going home.
Saturday, 28th September
On saturday we got up early to sell at a flea market. My whole family was there and we got rid of quite some junk! At around 9:30 we went to Game City again to get drawings by Ulrich. We stood in line for about 2 hours, but it was worth it for getting a great drawing!
We hurried to get back to the flea market, had some quick lunch before and tried to sell as much stuff as possible. Despite the market being open until 5pm, most people packed at 3 already and so did we as no more customers were coming in. Henrieke and me qent on a quest to get a cake and we had a nice afternoon with my family then.
Vienna Comix gets a separate post!
Before this years EF, Lance, a great friend from the US asked me if I'd like to have some Polaroid Spectra film as he wouldn't use it anymore. Of course it was expired film, as there is no non-expired original Polaroid film anymore and he told me the batteries would most likely be dead.
Today, I gave it a try with a pack that expired in 2007. Hoping that the battery would still have enough juice, I put the pack in and.. the camera made a desperate try on pushing the darkslide out. Well, the battery was pretty dead.
Soo, what to do.. I did have another empty Spectra film pack, but that one also contained an almost empty battery. What I did have were a dozen of Impossible batteries from SX-70 film packs. So I took the empty Spectra cartdride, removed the polaroid battery and tried to put in the Impossible battery. It didn't really fit, so I had to make some adjustments with scissors. The next challenge was to put all the undeveloped photos from one cartridge into the other, so once again (I did this too often) I went to my bathroom, closed the door, went under a blanket and somehow managed to get all the photos into the other cartridge.
Well, should work now, right? Well, not really. The darkslide got pushed out, but the next photo was stuck.
Eventually I gave up on that photo and decided to look at it, turns out that the developed dried out and the photo was too stiff and bent to be pushed out. So I removed it.. next one.. the same. I was about to give up on this pack as I expected everything to be dried out, but the next photo looked better, and it actually kind of worked! Of course it was all white since I exposed it completely.
The next photo of my brothers dog that I'm currently dog-sitting worked however, it just has a very weird big blue part (no, that's not a reflection) where apparently the negative and the positive touched and apparently over the years reacted in a strange way. Anyway, I'm super happy I can take photos now with this film, imperfections like that make it even more interesting
Thanks again to Lance for being super nice and giving me this for playing around with!
I hardly ever post my university assignments, but this is one I found particularly fun to make. It is part of the course "Explorative design" which focuses on game design.
The goal of this assignment is to develop an idea and story for a game targeted at kids undergoing leukemia treatment. Over a period of about 2 years, they mostly have to stay at home due to their vulnerable immune system. The game should be able to find out every day how the kid feels in an entertaining way and forward the results to the supervising doctor who then can see negative trends and act if needed.
These requirements weren't strict, but I thought it might be interesting to see what I could come with.
For the game, I set myself the following requirements:
- The game should not get boring after playing it every day.
- There should be multiple approaches to proceeding in the game.
- The game should allow a degree of individualism.
- The player should not be forced to play parts of the game they don't enjoy, if possible.
- The player should be able to play as long as they feel like every day.
- The story of the game should lift the spirits of the kid playing it in a way.
Next step was to research which games contain mechanics which fit this context.
Harvest Moon is a great example for a game featuring a story, game mechanics that keep players excited over a long time and a lot of freedom in their actions in the game and is definitely a good inspiration for a game that has to meet these requirements. The player has to basically take care of a farm which takes a lot of work and good planning, but as he progresses and earns money, additional story arcs open which further keep the player interested in progressing.
My little pony (Android, IOS) is a simple game where the goal is basically building a town and getting all characters of the TV show "My little pony". The way it works is that through mini games and waiting, players get money to buy various things. Actions in the game however take a certain amount of time (up to many hours). In this case, the motivation for letting players wait is getting them to pay money to advance further, but the idea of letting events take longer makes sure that players play the game longer and won't finish it in just a few days.
Browser Games like Planetarion also heavily rely on actions taking very long with game rounds taking many weeks.
Animal Crossing is another game that offers the player a lot of freedom and also relies on interaction with other players to progress in the game.
The basic concept of the game is similar to those shown before: The player can get build up different things in a town that earns them credits which they can exchange for items that are needed (or not needed) for progressing Furthermore, as the game progresses, different story arcs unfold and new areas, items and characters are unlocked.
The player can choose a character as their friend in the very beginning of the game. This character is the main character in the game and the kid takes the role of helping him out. The point is to have the character interacting with the kid, as he will have to find out how the kid feels every day, basically breaking the fourth wall.
At the beginning of the game, the player can choose one of the available characters:
In this example, 3 different characters are available. A bigger choice along with options to customize a character would be great, of course.
The initial story is very similar to previously shown games, the friend of the player arrives in a new town, together with you, the player and finds that a recent disaster left parts of the town demolished. This is basically the main storyline. The players actions determine how the story progresses, with the player being able to help out other characters and make friendships, work on their own house or exploring the world. Each of the little side-quests has a little story about the characters and ties together with the story of the town and eventually all quests will be completed, however the quests are in many cases independent of each other (while still influencing the whole situation) in order to give the player enough freedom.
The gameplay is divided into days which correspond to days in real life. A new day will trigger new events in the game, crops will grow and the weather will likely change. (Note: it might be an idea to make the weather in the game correspond to the weather outside in a way).
Each day starts with the character greeting the player, informing them what's new and - most importantly - finding out how the player feels. This can be done through one or more questions, but ultimately depends in the data needed by the doctor. The question is all but subtle, however it is most likely nicer to tell a big cartoon animal how you feel than having to fill out a paper form every day.
After some introduction by the character about his stay in the town, the player starts off in the characters house in the town, soon to be interrupted by his first quest, which is growing wheat to make new flour for the baker.
The "next day" button is solely for the purpose to speed up game play. it is intended that certain actions take a day (for example, the crops need a few days to grow and need daily watering).
Since the baker is in need of flour, the player is given some wheat seeds and can plant them on the little field next to his house. After the work is done, the player's character can walk around in town freely and explore the surroundings, buy things or play mini games.
Once the player managed to grow 4 fields of wheat crops, it's enough to produce a bag of flour in the windmill, so one of the many "quests" is completed. The player is rewarded a cake, which can be used later on in the game.
As the game progresses, the player is able to earn coins and spend them on things such as furniture or tools. Raw materials can be used to build or improve houses and rewards can be collected for completing different tasks.
I hope this post gave you some insight into what I had in mind!
Today I got a letter in the mail all the way from Australia, turns out it was a sponsorship for a kangaroo in a kangaroo rescue in New South Wales!
I got a sponsorship for Rooby, a female red kangaroo that got rescued in 2010 after her mom got killed. The woman who runs Sponsoroo took good care of her though and by now Rooby is a mom herself! I hope I get to visit that place sometime.
Anyway, it was an awesome present because helping out kangaroos is always a good idea and made my day! Thanks to Henriekes family for that!
Today it was finally time to go back home! We got up at around 7, put our stuff in the car and saw frost in Florida for the first time. The car was covered in ice, so we had to clear the windshield first and then went to the airport which was a mere 15 minute drive. At the rental car return we met a nice airport employee who brought our bags all the way to the check-in counter and saved us a lot of trouble getting our heavy giant bags through the whole airport. We gave him some tip, checked in, paid 94$ for the extra bag and looked around in the stores a bit. All the theme parks have a store in the airport, even NASA had one! We ended up getting a cute little space shuttle Christmas ornament.
Since we had over 4 hours time, we sat down at Starbucks, had some breakfast and went through our photos. Eventually we went through the TSA screening, got a pat down after objecting to the bodyscanner, got some food and went on the plane to Atlanta.
In Atlanta we had a brief stopover and got to experience the busiest airport on the world for a few minutes. We found a cellphone in the train to our terminal and gave it to the info booth, hopefully the lady has her phone back by now! The rest of the flight was alright, of course way too long.
When we arrived in Vienna, our luggage unfortunately didn't. It took a while to fill our forms at the Lost&Found register, and eventually we got out of the airport where my dad picked us up and brought us home. We had lunch with my parents, then went back to bed to catch up with a lot of needed sleep. Our luggage arrived 10 hours after we arrived and was delivered at our door, so at least we didn't have to carry it.
This concludes the trip report!
Thanks to everyone for hosting us, helping us out, hanging out, drawing for us, showing us around, etc etc.!
Even though we planned not to do much today, we somehow ended up in Disney world again. We wanted to meet Herbie the day before, but since he came back to Orlando late, we made an appointment for breakfast in Magic Kingdom. Unfortunately, right after we drove off, our prepaid SIM card stopped working even though T-Mobile advertised it as 30 days of prepaid service, and according to that, we would still have had a few hours. It made meeting up a bit harder, but we eventually managed to. Chris was working in Magic Kingdom and also joined us and we finally had breakfast at Gaston's Tavern in the new Fantasyland at around 11:30. After that we strolled around in the park and enjoyed the sunny weather which warmed up the - for Florida standards - very cool morning.
Chris had to go back to work at one point and we went to see the new "Belle's encounter", a walk-through ride that is mostly aimed at kids but features awesome animatronics and effects!
After that we took some more photos in the park and headed home with a brief stop at Ferrara's pizza place for some overly cheesy pizza roll. Back at the house, we started packing which took a whole 3 hours. When we were finally done, we called Scott and he came over to hang out a bit. We ended up watching Captain EO and Moonwalker, both ridiculously cheesy. At 11 we went to bed to get some sleep before the pretty long trip home tomorrow.
Today we didn't do too much. As people had to work, we just took the car at one point and drove towards Orlando, going to a really nice art supply store. We spent quite some time there, we got some pencils, markers and I got a really nice book. Then we went to Firehouse Subs for lunch as we were almost starving! Chris recommended a Hobby & Camera store that was nearby, so we checked that out too. They had lots of space shuttle stuff, including the most awesome space shuttle kite! Sadly everything was too big for our luggage, so we didn't end up buying anything. On the way back we felt like performing the American tradition of hanging out at the mall, so we went to Fashion Square Mall and realized we've actually been there before in 2009. We got some Gumballs and smoothies and then went back to the house. At the comic store we found some very old Superman comics that were so ridiculous that we had to buy them (see superdickery.com)
In the evening we met up at Outback with Lisa, Gerret, Chris and Robin. Going there is always nice as Steak is actually affordable there, unlike in Europe. Also the blooming onion, a giant deep fried sliced onion, is the best appetizer! We had a nice time there, drew a bit and enjoyed some great company!
After dinner we went back to the house, Lisa joined for a bit and Robin brought some costumes, so we ended up taking some photos with Chris' photo studio setup!
Today we spent most of the time relaxing and getting stuff together for packing. We wanted to go to thrift shops, however I spent about 2 hours today on the phone with Air France, asking about any kind of compensation for the extremely bad treatment and the 5-days delayed luggage.Well, once again, I found it out:
Air France has the worst customer service ever.
We were offered a lousy 50$ off our next flight, which likely will not happen as I don't want to be treated like dirt again. No honest apologies, no upgrades, no anything. I spent part of my day in waiting lines and was redirected to 6 different representatives which all were as unhelpful as the customer service we dealt with when our luggage was lost. It is obviously company policy to not-care about anything and pretend like horrible service is normal when flying with a major airline.
We will definitely contact consumer associations in both the Netherlands and Austria, explaining our situation and warning people about how Air France deals with their costumer when something goes wrong. I know that other airlines go out of their way to keep a good reputation, Air France seems to go out of their way to keep a bad reputation.
Enough about that. Thanks to spending too much time on the phone we arrived late at Skycraft, a surplus store I've been meaning to check out for a long while. We only had 10 minutes to check out the store, but I got a cool old projector lens! There was a camera store right next to it that only sold second hand vintage camera gear, sadly also closed. We went to Crispers to dinner and had some nice salad and soup, then to Mix for some tasty Froyo!
After 2 days of Disney, it was time to go to Universal! Robin gave us a ride and got us in in the morning and we went to Islands of Adventure first. Thanks to Robin we had very short waiting times, so we did lots of rides. What we came there for was especially the Spiderman ride, which they updated to make it even more spectacular, and the new Harry Potter themed part of the park which was really impressive! We went on the Dragon Challenge coaster and on the Forbidden Journey ride there, a very impressive and intense motion simulator! Other things we went to were the Jurassic park ride, the Mummy ride which was a great inside coaster, the Fear Factor show where Robin works and the Men in Black Ride which broke down first, but got opened up just in time so we could do it.
Since the park closed at 6 that day, we went back to Chris' place. Robin then picked up Jeff and two other friends and we had an artjam at Chris' house until around midnight.