I was on a break


Not 2 days ago I mentioned taking a break from painting Dust minis, yet this morning I find myself with another painted Dust mini to add to the brigade.

It began innocently enough. I doled out some paint to try tweaking the motorcycles in my Moto Grand Prix game to allow for 6 2-bike teams. It appears that adding water-based paint on top of finished acrylic paint just doesn't work. My doled paint was still fresh, and although it was only a few drops of water- thinned paint I didn't want to waste it. How often was I going to use "Goblin Green"? So I went to the gaming closet and dug out the primed Red Yana and used my paint.

Then I decided to go ahead and paint the rest of her.

After months of pseudo-assembly line painting, it was a nice change to paint 1 figure all the way through. I seemed to pay more attention to the little details (there are belts on the jacket!) and was more careful with where I put the paint brush. Instead of smearing the paint on and making sure I got everything covered, I tried to be a little more precise to where I wouldn't have to go back and correct where I had crossed the lines.

I also had a little more fun with washes. For most of the figures I paint, I give them a heavy wash of brown (technically "Devlin Mud"). I like the way it settles, it brings out shadows well, and it gives these armies a suitable tough-and-dirty look. Although I still used the Devlin Mud on the brown jacket, I used a sepia wash on the skin (which managed to smear some of the ink detailing I tried to add beforehand) and a green wash on the pants. The wash on the pants turns out a lot better than I expected as the pants have a good amount of detail still visible.

My basing is still pretty standard - rocks, low grass flock, static grass. I see bases with really fluffy static grass on the internet from other people, but I have yet to find a good method of getting those tufts of grass to stand up. Any time I look for a tutorial, people glue the grass, blow on it, and the grass stands up. I'm messing up one of those 3 steps.

Now I'll go back to my break from painting Dust minis.

gaming miniatures hobbies

Painting & Job Hunting


In the middle of April I primed a batch of Dust minitaures to paint. This past weekend I finally finished them!

I hadn't really noticed that I had 29 figures to paint. That's a lot when I stop to think about it - a lot of the same colors and paint schemes. As it is, I'm a little burned out on painting Dust figures for now. I've learned a lot since I started painting these things, and my washing and dry-brushing skills have come a long way (thanks mostly to YouTube). I'm not sure what I'll pick up to paint next. I've still got a closet full fo things to paint. I've got some 10mm and 15mm miniatures games with vehicles to paint - mostly sci-fi type stuff. That's a big change from WW2 era soldiers. I've also been thinking about painting the miniatures included with Descent, as Keith and I had fun playing but the figures just beg to be painted to add some color to the game.

It's also finally come time for me to start job-hunting again. Thanks to a combination of the government contract I've been working under for the past 5 years finally ending/being awarded to a different company, along with nothing happening with the new contract we were working to get me set up under, I've once again been laid off from Spiritus. This makes me the only person to get laid off twice, and I was the only person to get laid off once up until last year.

I'm not that worried. Yet. Or maybe I'm in denial? I've seen this coming for a while, but I told Jim I was staying on the project and with Spiritus until the contact was over and done with. Saying that kept me from looking to jump ship, but Jim's taken extremely good care of me over the years and I feel a certain amount of loyalty to him, so I was glad that I stayed as long as I could. Technically I'm burning saved up vacation right now so I can stay covered under the health insurance for another month, so I haven't completely left yet.

I've been emailing out my resume. So far I'm sticking to the jobs I'd like to have based on the type of work (usually PHP-based) and/or the specific company. Just for fun, I'm throwing in long-shots just for a change of pace. Disney in Florida is looking for Web Developers. On paper I've probably got too much experience which would make me too expensive, but all it took was a little of my time to go through their application submission process.

Soon, with luck, the interview process will start. I had to get a new dress shirt and pants for a funeral with Gina's family last week which will double as my (eventual) interview clothes. The last dress shirt I wore had a 24" neck. The new shirt has a 20" neck. Granted, I've lost 140 pounds, but 4" of neck???? Yeah, that's a good feeling.

gaming miniatures programming/interweb

Small World


Last night was a semi-impromptu game night at Keith's as he celebrated his wife and youngest daughter vamoosing for a week. I joined Lord Ford and Squire Brady for a game of Small World, which none of us had played against other people. iPads, sure. In fact, I've never come close to winning on the iPad. Against the AI. On easy. I wasn't holding out much hope against people. Real people.

The best thing about playing a real board game vs an electronic version is that although the electronic version will keep up and enforce the rules, there are tangible parts that I, as a player, tend to overlook when playing the electronic version. While playing the physical game Sunday night, I learned that the most important part of Small World I had been overlooking was the special attributes of the race(s) played during the game. There's no [easily found] reference for the race traits on the iPad, while the game we played had nice little reference sheets. Perhaps even more important, I would study those sheets while Keith and Brady were taking their turns.

At game's end, I managed to come out ahead:

After the game, I was re-strategizing my final turn since the final scores were so close. On my final turn I picked a race that came with a 1 point bonus, which was donated by Keith the previous turn in order to skip that race and pick the next. When randomly picking evil forces to overthrow on my last turn, I attacked one of Keith's which gave me 1 point and took away 1 from Keith.

If the above 2 actions hadn't happened, I would have scored 2 less points and Keith would have score 2 more points. Hence:

We were all learning how to play for real, but the game was almost decided by a couple of options on the last turn. I'm not sure if that's good - players don't know each other's scores until the end of the game, so you can only guess how you're scoring relative to each other. Then again, a close game is more fun to play than one where someone runs away with the win. As it was, I think it was a fun little game, though.

Of course, had those 2 points between me and Keith played out differently, Brady probably would have scored an extra 10 somewhere.


Tweaks You May Never Notice


Part of this is a test to see if I've messed up my admin tools :)

After 2 days of playing with code at home, I've uploaded changes to Russellmania. Most of them should fly under your observational radar. I've added a little iconography thanks to an embedded font which should help keep the site from looking as plain as it has been.

There are also some tweaks added in thanks to my last work project where I started using purely CSS styled buttons. I have no idea where they originally came from, but I stole liberated the code from Daz3D (mainly their login page) . There's a subtle gradient to their buttons which I enjoy. Now, my paging links on the DVD listing are much easier to click on!

Links leading to other sites should now have icons beside them (see how those 2 links previously listed should hopefully have them?). I'm not sure it really makes a difference anymore for people to know when they're going to a different website, especially from here, but this site has always been a place for me to play around with design and code.


Golden Silence becomes tarnished when speaking?


After a couple of weeks it's time to check in with the internet.

When last I spoke to the internet, I was in a rut of half-started tasks. I managed to get past half-started on some of them. On others, I haven't done a damn thing. Painting minis, for example. I've yet to pick up a paint brush in the past 2 weeks. But that's ok - it's a hobby for fun and not something I should force myself into. I've learned when I force myself to paint, my painting looks like crap.

Associated with painting, and part of why I've had no impetus to move forward, is that I ran into a drawback with my battle terrain that I've been working on. It seems that some combination of chemicals and crafts that I've used gives off a toxic/metallic smell when stored in the computer room closet. I thought the smell would dissipate over time, but last week I could actually start to smell it through the closed closet door. Between 4 different kinds of glue, spray paint and sealant, and how it's all reacting to the styrofoam there's no telling what the cause is. Jerry's suggested I set it all outside and see if the sun can back the toxins away. Everything has been setting in the garage for the past week, and I think it will all go from there to the storage building in the back. For now, I'm writing the whole thing off as a learning experience instead of a board game accessory. While a bit of a downer, I learned a lot in putting it all together. We'll see what I mess around with for a replacement.

The website will be down for a little while at some point this week. I had a list of tweak I wanted to make - I haven't done much to the website code in 4 or 5 years. For most of Sunday I lost track of time and coded for fun. It's been a long time since I did that. Now I have to push all the changes to the live server, which of course includes forgetting files, remembering data updates in the database, and wondering why server permissions are not what I want them to be. While it should be a 10 minute task, I know it's going to take an hour or two. That's the real reason I don't mess with the code but twice per decade :)

Over at Workshop Games people are still downloading my zombie game. Roughly 1 person per week seems to download a file (or more). I've been keeping track of what files are downloaded and the locations that download them. One of my code-for-fun projects is to make a web page that will plot out those locations on a map.

I'm slowly making progress on the next boardgame - Joe Frag. The challenge for this one is to minimize the rulebook, so I've been thinking through game play a lot, which unfortunately doesn't give me a lot to show. To make up for it, I've had a title-logo idea in my head for a week that I finally managed to spew forth into Paint Shop Pro.

Making graphics seems to spur my creativity for rules making. I need to make more graphics - I've got a handful of images, none of which have anything to do with how the game plays, in my head. Best to get them out of my head and see if they unclog the flow of rules.

Now it's time to get back to making some progress.

Step 1. Break the website!


Blog Archive

As always, correct spelling is optional in any blog entry. Keep in mind that any links more than a year old may not be active, especially the ones pointing back to Russellmania (I like to move things around!).

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