This was one of the biggest oversights in the original versions. Now, when creating a print'n'play PDF, you get crop marks added to the output. The neat thing about the code for this is that the method for generating the crop is very Lisp-y, since I've been spending some time learning Clojure:
You can now have a PDF file prepended to your print'n'play PDF file with the prepend_pdf option. This is great for adding rules to the PDF so you don't need two downloads.
Data source sheet identifiers
Normally, sheets with the phrase "Card Data" in the title will be read for data. If you're going to have a game where the backs of some cards are different, and want all the data in a single spreadsheet, this won't fly. You can change the string SVGGVS looks for in the sheet titles with the card_sheet_identifier option.
Run svggvs prereqs to see what else you need installed.
I made a small app for myself using PhoneGap and AngularJS. It's an environment I'm already pretty comfortable in. I have the beginnings of a good workflow in Grunt for doing everything (which I'll go into more detail about later), but I wanted to go over a few general things I discovered in making this little app:
Because this was a simple app that had a big canvas I wanted to scroll around, I enabled WebView scrolling in the Java part of the app.
HappyFBA (or Android, I can't tell which) will get confused with the hardware buttons after a time, and will treat the B and Y buttons as Menu presses. This makes Marvel Vs. Capcom impossible to play. I've found that restarting the device is the only way to fix it.
Another HappyFBA bug: after a while, the game gets very choppy in its rendering. Opening the menu (hopefully not by pressing a hardware button) and closing it fixes it.
None of the other Arcade emulators (MAME, any FBA derivative) seem to work with the ROMs that HappyChick downloads for HappyFBA downloads. Figures.
Apps that are specifically for use in Portrait mode are useless. I'm looking at you, Roku Remote.
Untappd will not install on here at all. I don't know if this is because of them using PhoneGap, but it means that, if I'm gaming while drinking beer, I now have to use my phone to check in. #firstworldproblems
Don't even bother with the HappySFC emulator. It sucks. Put Sne9x Ex+ on there and use the ROMs downloaded from HappyChick in that emulator.
This morning when I rebooted the tablet due to the aforementioned HappyFBA bug, it started flickering like crazy. A reboot fixed it.
The combination of an Amiga emulator, The Killing Game Show, and the D-pad is brutal. Either the emulator or KGS is very sensitive when it comes to D-pad input events, which means I need even more precision when jumping, ducking, etc. I'll have to try some other games (Shadow of the Beast or Wings would be a good choice) to see if the problem still occurs. Also, Cloanto has a $.99 "app" that provides all the useful Amiga ROMs and a Workbench 1.3 disc. Well worth the price.
One nice thing about making this is that, despite doing it quite fast (it took three hours total), I learned a new ink cleanup technique in Inkscape using the Tweak tool. Originally, the only cleanup work I did involved using grow/shrink to thicken/sharpen ink lines so that they were crisp and smooth. After inking this, I decided that some of the inked forms weren't solid-looking enough for me, so I ended up using push to better sculpt the lines. I used this a lot on Helga's nose and the band on her dress to ensure it was as solid and three dimensional as I could. I started using this on the Dawn's Dictionary Drama comics I did after making this, and it definitely has made a difference in the quality of the inked drawings.
Gaming on a phone usually involves birds and their emotions or their flight processes. I want to play real games -- the ones from yesteryear, like NES, SNES, GameBoy, and others, and you can't play any action games with just a capacitive touch screen. Just try playing Street Fighter II on a phone, I dare you.
So I started looking into whether or not some smart folks have made gaming tablets. I remember hearing about the nVidia Shield a while back, and there are those things that are Bluetooth controllers that hold your phone while you game, but I wanted soemthing more dedicated, and a smidge cheaper. So I hunted for a bit, read a bunch of websites, and then decided on the G5A from GPD, a Chinese manufacturer. I bought it from Willgoo.
It took quite a while for it to arrive from Willgoo. I ordered it right around the time of Chinese New Year, which shuts everything down for awesome Chinese party time (seriously, it sounds really cool). Once it shipped, it made it to Singapore, and then took about two weeks for it to make it to the US. Finally, it sat in USPS sorting facilities for about a week, until it was put on a truck and handed to me on a rainy Friday afternoon.
The build quality is insanely nice. My hands don't fit perfectly around it, but it is still quite comfortable. I charged it using the USB port and it took a while before it had enough juice to get to the pre-boot startup (where the battery icon is the only thing you get).
Willgoo was even nice enough to put an adapter for the two pole power plug so I can use it here with US outlets. 'Murica.
Sadly, once I got into gaming I ran into my first issue: the D-pad wouldn't respond correctly when pressed to the left or right. I was getting multiple events in adjacent directions (right would register right, then up). It made playing Chrono Trigger just a little bit difficult, and I really don't want to use the analog stick in games that are built for the D-pad. I'm old school that way.
The tablet became utterly unresponsive. The LED wouldn't even blink while it was charging. I figured that I messed something up, so now I needed to find a way to recover this thing. Now, when I've messed up my SheevaPlug in the past, I have to use a JTAG connection to go low level and reformat/reflash the NAND. Modern Chinese tablets actually have a much nicer way to handle this: a lot of these devices are built on the Rockchip chipset (the G5A comes with a quad-core 1.8GHz Rockchip 3188 chip), and they essentially have what is a built-in JTAG system that uses the USB port and allows low level flashing even if the device itself is completely messed up. You basicaly have to have a hardware issue to truly destroy one of these things. Now the next problem: can I flash this in Mac OS X or Linux?
Most of the guides for upgrading the G5A and similar Rockchip-based tablets use a Windows-based tool called RKBatchTool, which takes that update.img file and runs it over the low-level USB flashing connection. For Linux and Mac OS X, there are lower level command line tools that do the same thing, so all I needed to do was blow apart that update.img and flash the individual components. Right?
Well, not quite. Mac OS X 10.6 wouldn't even touch it. I could never, on Linux, in any combination of command line executions, get rkflashtool_rk3066 to work right. A lot of times, the flashing would stop half-way through on big images like system.img. I flashed just about every block on that NAND, trying to get it to come up, and no luck. I was pretty sure I had just compltely bricked a brand new piece of computer hardware within 24 hours of receipt.
I finally decided to break down and go the Windows route. I have an old media center PC (now replaced with a Roku) that also had an old Windows 7 install on it, for this very purpose. I followed this procedure for getting a Rockchip-based device ready to accept an image over USB, installed RKBatchTool and the Rockchip USB drivers, RKBatchTool found the tablet, I flashed the 4.4.2 image, and the tablet rebooted with that beautiful GPD boot screen. I was saved.
Now, 4.4.2 on this thing. Worth it? Yup. The D-pad worked perfectly now, so I was able to play Mega Man 3, Marvel vs. Capcom, and Crazy Taxi with no problems whatsoever. There was also some other random flakiness with the preloaded 4.2.2 that went away once 4.4.2 was on here. I also tested its video playback capabilities by playing the very appropriate episode of Gravity Falls, Fight Fighters, over the DLNA setup I put together for my Roku. It was a little choppy, but otherwise acceptable for a $120 tablet.
What the reviews said about the screen are dead on. It's not great, and don't even think about using it sideways, but it's acceptable for emulator gaming and some video playback.
The D-pad can still be a little flaky, but it's better with 4.4.2 installed. It can get LOUD if you turn it up all the way. The shoulder buttons feel spongy while playing Crazy Taxi, or that might just be reicast's problem, I dunno. I'm sure I'll post more about this neat little tablet as I use it more. The next step is waiting for reicast to release v6, 'cause that has fixes for Shenmue, and I really really want to play Shenmue again.
Patreon is a continuous Kickstarter-like service that is focused on creative projects that give away their content at the end of a block of work. The idea is that, since you want the creator to keep making cool stuff, you'll pledge them some cash, and when the block of creative work is done, the cash is transferred from you to them. I've set up a campaign for Dawn's Dictionary Drama, based on the completion of Acts in the comic (a story has 4 Acts, with Act 2 broken into two parts). There's some basic rewards for now, but once I get more merchandise together, there'll be even better rewards. Check it out and tell me what you think!
I love constraints. When it comes to writing, I find I work best with some sort of constraint. In Dawn's Dictionary Drama, those constraints are the words that I get from people at cons, a very loose (and getting looser) adherance to the Save The Cat! story structure, and that fact that I'm not allowed to look ahead in the word order while writing the current strip. It's allowed me to make some pretty cool decisions on where to take a story and how to develop characters.
I'm going to be involved in a comic event in the next few weeks as a writer, so I thought I'd dust off the Internet and see what random generators were out there that I liked. Here's what I came across:
When I was doing game stuff, the Boardgamizer came out. If I have characters playing a board game in a comic (and I'm sure I will), I will most definitely be using this to make the fictional game.
Not exactly random, but it has helped pick names for characters I'm using recently (like Regina, Devon, and Leah): the SSA's Popular Baby Names list. What's nice is that I can pick the character's rough birth year and get some great choices to comb through.
Of course my favorite randomizer is people like you. I sometimes ask for suggestions for comics on my Twitter timeline, and if I use it, I'll link to you and your stuff. Hint hint.