Pokemon Art Academy Won't Make You Color Inside the Lines

BitBlock Pokemon Art Academy
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

If you read the late August round-up I wrote about the games I'm most looking forward to in the last quarter of 2014, then you probably have a very good idea of why you're staring down the barrel of a crudely drawn otter demon right now.

Pokemon Art Academy is due out this Friday and previews are already popping up to show what the game has to offer. For example, this video from The BitBlock (from which I grabbed the screencap above) is an entertaining example of what the first few minutes of play will be like. Even if you have zero interest in sketching up a Pikachu for yourself, it still might be a good way to get well-earned Monday laugh:

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This Scarily Sweet Second Life Cyclops isn't a Reality... Yet

Eilfie Sugarplum Tsuclops
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

I'll be honest, when I saw this frighteningly cute cyclops avatar on Eilfie Sugarplum's Flickr this morning my heart skipped I beat. I was already opening Second Life, virtual wallet in hand, ready to pop over to her shop (The Sugar Garden) before I paused to read the picture's description and comments. Eilfie is know for her skins, eyes, and other assorted avatar customization items, so it was absolutely within the realm of possibility that she'd release this sweet cyclops in time for Halloween. But alas, it seems that the "Tsuclops" is just a fun snapshot edit and not the most creepydorable Halloween costume in all of SL.

At least that's how the situation stands right now, but that's not to say it couldn't change.

In the comments Eilfie clarifies that her tsuclops isn't a reality yet, but that if others are interested she would try to bring it to SL. If you'd like a tsuclops avatar of your own, be sure to check out Eilfie's original pic on Flickr and register your support in the comments. 

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It's Critical to be Critical, Whether You Like This Hyper-Violent Game Trailer or Not

Hatred trailer
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Yesterday, a developer released a trailer for a game they're working on. That's not news. It's a very violent game. That's not news either. What is news is just how negative its reception has been among gamers and games writers; within hours, op-eds were springing up about how repulsive, tacky, and frankly pathetic the trailer for the game (bluntly and blandly named Hatred) seems. Of course the trailer has spread like wildfire as a result, and on YouTube it still has more "dislikes" than "likes".

There's a lot of grossness to deal with when you're talking about Hatred. It claims to be a response to the trend towards "political correctness" in games. Its developers may hold some very disturbing political beliefs. It depicts a mass-shooting days after Anita Sarkeesian and the school hosting an event for her were threatened with one. But if nothing else, the responses to all of that grossness have been very insightful and well worth reading -- especially if, like me, you've ever tried to reconcile your enjoyment of some violent video games with your utter distaste for others.

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Return of the Deep Sea Dad: Octodad's Free DLC Doesn't Disappoint

Octodad DLC Shorts
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

As much as I enjoyed Octodad: Dadliest Catch when it first came out last February, I didn't expect to be anticipating its free DLC pack as much as I was 8 months later. I thought the game's charm and the glee I felt when I played it would fade over time as these things often do.

But it didn't.

I'd been awaiting the promised free DLC for months, and when it was finally released this week I leapt at the chance to play it. In short it does exactly what the best parts of Octodad did, placing the player and the titular cephalopatriarch in everyday scenarios and essentially "letting the magic happen". Take the screenshot above for instance, shared by @mattshea369 on Twitter. That patient sure did not start out wedged in a hospital vending machine, and yet here we are. If that's not enough to demonstrate what the Octodad DLC is all about, take a look at this stream I did on Tuesday:

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Lenna's Inception: Classic Gaming Style With a Modern Gaming Twist

Lenna's Inception
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

If you're into indie/alt games these days then you're probably already aware of itch.io, a streamlined indie marketplace that makes it ultra-easy for developers to deliver their games to customers. Itch.io has become host to a boatload of interesting games in the past year -- some paid, many free -- and deserves some serious coverage.

It's with that in mind that I'll be reaching into my own itch.io library much more often here on NWN, starting today with a retro-inspired story of a teacher's revenge: Lenna's Inception.

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Iris Wants to Know: How Long Do You Think It Takes Designers to Create Your Favorite Virtual Fashions?

LOGO Sadie vintage
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

When I read user reviews of products on the SL Marketplace, I'm often struck by how much of a disconnect there is between what customers think goes into producing an original product in Second Life and what actually does. It's a pet peeve, and something I have to struggle not to launch into a full rant about. I've even read comments that acted as though a fully modelled and textured item was little more than a sketch on the back of a restaurant receipt.

In general, there's often a tremendous lack of understanding for what many content creators actually do, even from the most respectful and reverent users buying from them. It's a big gap, and we need to bridge it.

This week, I want to hear from the consumers. I want to know how long you think it takes to develop original fashion content for Second Life. Of course it varies from item to item (and creator to creator) but lets talk about averages here. On average, how much time and energy would you say goes into a piece of mesh clothing, a skin, a hairstyle, and so on? Share your best estimates in the comments below. If you're a content creator, don't fret: You'll have your chance to respond next week!

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The Vanishing of Ethan Carter May Be The Most Gorgeous Game of 2014

Vanishing of Ethan carter PC Gamer gallery
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is one of the most gorgeous games I've seen in my entire life, and PC Gamer has the massive, high-resolution screenshots to prove it. Just take a look. While screenshotter James Snook uprezzed the game and applied a 3rd party visual effects mod, in this case that's almost excessive. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter doesn't need either of those things to look utterly stunning.

I've already watched The Vanishing of Ethan Carter played from start to finish. I know the characters, I know the locations, I know the story, I know the twists... So why do I still feel compelled to play it all again for myself?

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Here's What You're Missing on This Fabulous French Second Life Fashion Blog

Mademoiselle-_-potiron
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Eve Kazan is one of my favorite Second Life bloggers, and has been for some time. In addition to outfits assembled both popular items and unknown finds, Eve manages to find some of the most interesting sims and builds as backdrops for her work. Whenever I'm stuck looking for the perfect location or finishing touch for a shot, Eve's blog Mademoiselle is my very first stop.

But her blog is also in French and unfortunately that keeps a lot of readers away, even though it's perfectly easy to find out what she's wearing or where she is thanks to notes labelled in English at the bottom of every post. Either way, I've decided to translate the text of one of her most recent posts, Potiron, so you can have a litle taste of what you're missing. Check it out:

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Popular Second Life Furniture Brand *Art Dummy Closing its Doors Next Week

Art Dummy Beds Second Life
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

*Art Dummy, a beloved niche furniture and decor brand in Second Life, will be closing its doors next week. Designer Gala Charron announced the closure a few days ago on Flickr and on her blog, writing:

It is with deep regret that I am closing *Art Dummy! I've been struggling for a long time with "artist's block". In addition I've been grappling with a chaotic first life. The main store will close next Wednesday, October 15. I hope to return one day.

If you're unfamiliar with the brand, Gala's work with *Art Dummy is often easy to spot -- and well worth looking at...

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Get Ready for Halloween by Looking at These Gruesome NBA 2K15 Face Scanning Errors

Operation Sports NBA 2K15 Face Scan
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

While face scanning technology may be gaining momentum as a tool for customizing player avatars, it seems like the process is still very far from foolproof. The face scanning in newly-released NBA 2K15 in particular has been getting a lot of attention for some of its more monstrous interpretations of player faces, some of which could absolutely pass for Halloween masks. 

Naturally people are having a very good time sharing the very best of the worst face scans. Operation Sports shared the haunting compilation above, while over on Gamespot you can find a video of how several of their staff members look through the NBA 2K15 lens. Sometimes it works well, sometimes... Less so. Even some of the better examples occasionally cover the avatars in strange bruises and smears, like the player spawned by Giant Bomb

So what's going wrong here? A few things...

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