Playing: Bomb Buddies

Bomb Buddies

It’s good to have friends in the gaming industry. You occasionally get the opportunity to check out something new before it comes out. This week I got to play Bomb Buddies from the guys over at Balanced Worlds game studio. If you grew up on Nintendo and Bomberman, then seeing a free-to-play game with similar mechanics that one can enjoy with multiple Facebook friends is exciting.

The version I saw is still in it’s early “Alpha” stages, but even then, the graphics are all top-notch and the game-play was already smooth. This is definitely not Farmville, but rather more focused on a more hard-core social gamer.

Most of the team was still focused on improving the game playability and developing new in-game content, but they’ve already released some early Youtube footage worth checking out. If you like what you see, help my friend out and show some “like” love to the Bomb Buddies Facebook page.

My Left Eye by Jay Scott at EyeCon Art

My Experience with Fiverr: The Portraits

When I was in high school some friends of mine used to have little inside joke where we’d say “It’s ONLY a dollar!” To be honest, I can’t even remember how it got started or why it was even funny at the time, but it was the first thing that came to mind when I discovered Fiverr. As far as internet niches goes, Fiverr is striking gold by connecting cheapos like me with people who’ve grossly underestimated the actual worth of their services.

So to test the site, I decided to submit some photos to 4 different artists who all promised me to change my awesomely normal look into their own personal styles. It’s only five dollars, I couldn’t NOT do it.

“You look like a monkey”

My girlfriend said I looked like a monkey.In all honesty, I have no idea what a “Julian Opie” style is, I just thought it looked cool enough to start my Fiverr experiment. To date this was the best in terms of responsiveness and quickness of delivery. The artist was extremely quick with feedback and the final artwork, even going so far as making a last-minute change. They definitely set the bar for what I expected from others.

So while the service was great, the final result was a bit underwhelming. I suspect this is less to do with the artist’s ability as it is in me giving them a bland photo to work with. My feelings towards the end results were mixed at best. My girlfriend went so far as to tell me, “You look like a monkey,” and then threatening to post the image on her Weibo account.

For that, I’d like to thank the artists. You’ve given my girlfriend more ammo in her relentless crusade to convince me that all caucasians look like monkeys. I’d pay you in bananas if I could.

Final Grade: C+

Artist: Relaxabe

Ad: Draw a julian opie style cartoon image from your picture (link expired)

Hey, is that Tobias?

Hey Baby, you lookin' at me?My second attempt ended up with a better end result, but was much more of a shocker in terms of delivery time. My “extensive” experience on Fiverr told me these artists work fast, so imagine my shock when I didn’t get my portrait within 24 hours. Screaming ensued…objects were thrown across the room…litigation written up…

Ok, I’m kidding. Basically what happened was that I had to reset my expectations for what I was going to get for $5usd. The old saying about “cheap, fast, and good” still holds on Fiverr. So while everything on the site is cheap, you still have the “fast and good” variables to deal with. After a few days of waiting, the results finally came in. It was then I realized my few days of “not fast” were offset by an increase in overall satisfaction with the final product.

That said, I’m still not completely happy. The artist had more time, but seems to have turned me into a generic cartoon version of David Cross, instead of trying to find one distinguishing feature to focus on.

It’s decent work, just lacks punch.

Final Grade: B

Artist: Draculafetus

Ad: I will draw a portrait of you in my unique style

Me in a Japanese RPG supporting role

The Anime version of me. And by punch I must mean anime! How could I resist making myself look like a supporting player in Akira? This is a slam dunk, I had to have this one. My only concern was whether or not I still had enough hair on the top of my head to justify any super-power spikiness. From the results, I’d say…umm…I don’t. But I must give credit to the artist, no one did better than him on nailing the look of my receding hairline. Kudos…you almost made it look cool to have a gigantic forehead.

Seriously though, this is my favorite of all the entries. Even with the anime-overlay, I don’t have to spend 5 minutes convincing myself that it’s me. I do have to convince myself that I’m not actually a cyborg with shotguns for arms, but I’m willing to live with that.

Side Note: I’m currently searching Fiverr for someone to convert my arms into shotguns.

Final Grade: A

Artist: Joshuab

Ad: Draw you or a friend as an anime character

The Rat Pack member?

Smooth OperatorAlthough most of these orders were initiated at the same time, this one took the longest to deliver. The end result seems to be a little more Ol’ Blue Eyes than Jeremy, don’t you think? I suppose it’s my fault in asking for a Frank Sinatra vibe in the picture. The artist obviously delivered. Sadly though, what makes me who I am seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle. Maybe the lesson here is that you shouldn’t give people too many of your own ideas. Let them just do their work as they see fit.

Artists are usually good at feeling what you mean, instead of what you say. In this respect I have to give the artist credit for correcting my mistake in asking for “a Frank Sinatra ‘Brat Pack’ type of vibe,” instead of the more accurate “Rat Pack”. Luckily, they seemed to have known what I meant instead of what I said. Had they not, I could have ended up looking less like like Frankie and more like Judd Nelson.

Final Grade: B-

Artist: friendswith4leg

Ad: I will make a whimsical illustration of you for your FaceBook profile


Convergence and the Picard Facepalm

Picard supports convergence.

I agree with your points Engadget.  Star Trek never had a converged device either, although I’m sure Picard still dreams about it…

Planet Money Recommendation

If you’re looking for a good way to pass the time on your iPod, try the NPR Planet Money podcast.

I don’t recall how I discovered them, but I started listening shortly before the U.S. financial crisis two years ago. They once said their original intent for the podcast was entirely different, but as the housing market collapsed and banks went to the brink of failure, their focus quickly shifted and they’ve been reporting ever since. The majority of the stories are serious, with heavy emphasis in the past couple of years on the global crisis and the reconstruction of Haiti. However, they also have a lighter side that comes out well during their purchase of a U.S. toxic asset, they they eventually named “Toxie” for the listeners.

What I particularly enjoy about them is that they aren’t out there to promote a stock, and they definitely are not Wall Street insiders. In fact, most of the time, they are just trying to dig through the mess of the business world and make sense of it for the average Joe. And surprisingly, their analysis has been in my opinion, extremely non-partisan. I’ve listened as  they sometimes are forced to confront their own values with the reality they report on, which just adds to the impact of their stories.

So if you like a more human view of the markets that typically get lost in the numbers, check these guys out…