Thursday, December 19, 2013

Elevator Joe is Corona Labs' App of the Month

A little validation is always nice.  If you haven't yet, please do try Elevator Joe.  Thanks!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Urban Sketching : Lost in Osaka

The sketch above is one of the many cute little houses in the neighborhood that we stayed in.  It's available as a print on society6, as well as other sketches I've made over the course of our travels.

"You're really lucky you met us!" said the English speaking Japanese man who was driving us around the streets of Osaka.  He was right.  The chances of finding a friendly Japanese person willing to give you directions at 10PM are pretty decent.  Finding one that spoke English, was willing to call up your AirBNB host on his cellphone, and then drive you to your apartment?  Almost zero.

We had departed Kansai airport full of confidence.  This was, after all, our second trip to Japan, and I thought I'd done all the necessary research to get us to our apartment.  But the streets leading to our apartment near Sembayashi Omiya were tiny and complex, and we weren't sure which street to turn right into.  A bunch of Japanese teenagers excitedly sent us off on the wrong direction, giggling at their own mangled English.  We doubled back when we figured we had gone too far, and in a tiny street we saw an old lady watering her plants (at 10PM!).  After doing the commensurate charades, asking "doku desu ka?" and pointing at our printed google map, the old lady handed Aissa her garden hose and instructed her to keep watering the plants while she sorted the map out.

We watered her plants for a few awkward minutes until a car rolled by, driven by someone the old lady seemed to recognize.  She talked to the car's occupants before they opened the windows and asked in clear English if they could help us. Within minutes we were happily waving goodbye at Roger the friendly English speaking Japanese man and his wife as they sped home to tell all their friends about the silly Filipinos lost in Osaka.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The (Honest) Trush About Dishonesty

This review was originally written for Fully Booked's Zine. I have since edited it from the original, but the contents remain mostly the same. If for any reason I convince you to purchase this book, please consider buying from my Amazon Associates link above, I'd surely appreciate it. It's on sale for the rest of this month, so buy now!

We are are far more dishonest than we will ever admit to ourselves, says Dan Ariely, and it’s these small acts of dishonesty that lead to some terrible mistakes. His own interest in dishonesty stems from the story of a man he genuinely admired. John Perry Barlow had been a consultant with the energy company Enron until its accounting scandal in 2002, and had truly believed in the company until the end. This shook Ariely’s view that the scandal was orchestrated by individual masterminds, and led him to theorize that perhaps a long chain of dishonesty had permeated the organization and led to its undoing. He takes the next decade to test out that theory, and his results are presented in this eye-opening book that will forever cause you to question your own integrity. Each chapter reveals a particular piece of data that Ariely finds interesting. For example in one scenario he finds that people who sign a document before they fill up a form tend to lie much less than people who sign at the end. The reason? Having the person sign before creates a mental reminder that one should be telling the truth, whereas when you've already filled out the form and sign at the end, the impulse is to just sign and get things over with. Another scenario pitted different countries against each other to see who would be the most dishonest (everyone believed their own country would be the worst). The surprising result? Given a standardized setting people from different nationalities cheated about the same amount. I particularly liked that experiment, since it gives the lie to Filipinos' assumptions that we are naturally more dishonest than others. Ariely's research should be taken with a grain of salt, but he presents a very strong case for a worldview that doesn’t ascribe evil intentions to politicians, corporations, and other convenient scapegoats. Instead he asks that we recognize that we are no different from these people in the way we lie to ourselves. Once we do that, we are free from merely castigating these people as lesser or weaker-willed than we are and we can start to think about how to better incentivize the good behaviour that we all want from each other.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Cute Cartoon Animals Running!

I suppose the right term would be: Cute anthropomorphic animals running, but that's a bit of a mouthful.  Just a quick update today.  My friend Julius and I made a game about a month ago to join the Gamejolt Contest 10.  We managed to finish it, but it was very underdeveloped, so we decided to keep at it and maybe release it sometime next year.  I want to keep it under wraps for now, so all I'll say is that it involves animals running...for politics!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Urban Sketching : Escolta

Some of the sketches here are now available as prints on society6, as well as other sketches I've made over the course of our travels.

While Cebu Pacific Airlines has its issues, my wife and I will forever appreciate the airline that allowed us to travel to such places as Thailand, China, Vietnam, Japan, and many other countries that would have been inaccessible to us otherwise.  Our first trip together to Shanghai was done on a lark during one of Cebu Pacific's zero fare deals, and it basically sealed the deal on our relationship.

So imagine my delight when I was contracted by Smile, Cebu Pacific's in-flight magazine, to do a series of sketches of the Escolta district of Manila. Not only was I going to be a part of thousands of people's travel experiences in the month of November, but I was going to get paid for it too!

Escolta is the old commercial center of Manila, and in a more prosperous city it would be a tourist attraction similar to Penang's Georgetown. Unfortunately some of that heritage is either slowly decaying or being torn down to be replaced with modern high-rises.  Modernity has its place, but some care should be taken so that the character of a district can still be maintained.   Luckily boutique companies like 98B with their Escolta Future Market and the Escolta Commercial Association are slowly bringing commerce back into the area. There are also plans to refurbish a 90 year old Art Deco building into a BPO facility, thereby drawing even more commerce into the area.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Alternate Future

I've always loved how Japan seamlessly blends the the traditions of the past and the ambitions of the future.  This is my humble attempt at combining both.  I think I'm getting the hang of watercolors, but I'm not ultimately satisfied with it, and I'm planning a redo when I have time.

This piece is available as a print on society6.  Society6 is running a promo for till December 8 that gives free shipping and $5 off for any order of one of my prints.  You have to specifically click THIS LINK to take advantage of it.  Additionally 50% of all revenue generated in December will go to Typhoon Haiyan victims, so get some nice art and help some nice folks out.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Prison Architect Pop Culture Reference Maps

My last blog post about my favorite prison Architect Maps got a bit of attention, so I dug into the Steam Workshop again this evening to pick out some interesting maps.  The sheer creativity of our players is still amazing to me, and this time I decided to pick out the maps that had some sort of pop culture reference to them, starting with...

The USS Enterprise Prison Map

I love that this map comes with a background story:

In the year 2344 while protecting a Klingon outpost the U.S.S Enterprise C (NCC-1701-C) was attacked by four Romulan Warbirds. It was assumed the ship and all crew perished in the battle. The once thought destroyed USS Enterprise Recently Reappeared though a temporal rift. Due to the current conflicts the severely damaged Enterprise was decommissioned and sent to an outer laying planet to be used as a penal colony. 

The Shawshank Redemption Map

It's gotten a little hokier upon multiple revisits, but the Shawshank Redemption was one of my favorite movies when I first saw it.  Now I'm wondering if I can sneak Morgan Freeman's "Red" into the game somehow.

Fox River (Prison Break)

Steam user stubby looks like he's making a habit of recreating pop culture prisons, seeing as he was also the man who put together the Shawshank Redemption Prison above.  I never got into Prison Break, but I'd love to hear what fans of the show think of this prison.

Kestrel (FTL)

FTL is a game I've never played (for lack of time, not interest) but even I instantly recognized the Kestrel prison since it's so prominent in FTL's PR stuff.  Seeing this just makes me want to play FTL all the more.

You can check out my original list of my favorite Prison Architect maps here, which include a Panopticon and someone who mistakenly thought PA was Sim City.