Archive for July, 2008

Animal Crossing: City Folk – an interview with creator Katsuya Eguchi

Animal Crossing is probably one of the games that I play most often – the game card for Animal Crossing: Wild World is just short of being glued to the slot of my Nintendo DS and is one of those games which really have that long-term playability many game companies try to infuse into their games, with little success. If you’re not familiar with the Animal Crossing franchise, a short description would be that it’s a series of real-time games with no end goal or common end-point. Live in a town, plant flowers, explore the surroundings and try something new for a change. If Second Life comes to mind, rest assured, it’s nothing like it. Animal Crossing is full of lively and interesting AI characters, fun things to do and absolutely no pressure to do anything but have a good time (well, almost).

“Animal Crossing: City Folk” is the newest game under the Animal Crossing umbrella, announced by Nintendo during the E3 conference and set for a Q4 release date for the Nintendo Wii. What’s interesting about this specific release is that it has online networking capabilities very deeply integrated, making this specific release really one-of-a-kind.

Katsuya Eguchi, creator of Animal Crossing, tells a little about what motivated him to create the game in this interview for the E3 conference. He explains the vision of Animal Crossing and talks a little about what fans should expect from the new version. It’s worth a watch.

Showcasing your work: A departure from Deviantart

My journey with art and design on the internet started somewhat early. In 2001, I joined, the then-bustling social network for designers. Needing more “room to breathe” on my non-digital works, I joined DeviantArt in January 2002, a small social network for artists and designers to showcase their traditional and digital works. During what I fondly nickname it’s “renaissance age” in 2004, DeviantArt was home to thousands of the web’s biggest and most talented names in design. This was back when the term “social network” hadn’t yet been coined.

Sometime in 2005, the term “Web 2.0″ started floating around the internet, and more young and upcoming artists sought the releases of the internet to promote their works. DeviantArt became huge, and it’s “work submitted in the last day” page turned into “work submitted in the last minute”.

And then came the influx of what I’d like to call “artrash”. Thousands upon thousands of pieces flooding the site depicting badly-drawn fanart and various instances of copyright infringement turned finding art and design works on DeviantArt into the equivalent of finding a needle in a haystack. I found myself logging in less throughout 2006. When I did, I found that the quality of feedback left on my work had dwindled into single-word comments. Their frequent server crashes had wiped a good portion of my downloadable works (photoshop brushes and icon packages) off their servers and with a recent hard drive crash of my own, I was unable to upload the works back onto the site.

At present in 2008, DeviantArt is the web’s largest and most successful art and design-based social network. I have 579 unread messages on DeviantArt, a sign that I need to either increase my involvement with the site, or leave it altogether. I’m debating the latter.

Throughout the years, DeviantArt has played an important role in my development as an artist. The feedback I received early on has helped me find my “weak points” and put the effort into my work where it matters most. DeviantArt has also done wonders for my self esteem. To date, my works have had 321,968 pageviews and my most popular work on DeviantArt (which I had to re-upload several times due to DevianArt’s server crashes) has been downloaded over 63,000 times.

All of this in mind, why would I want to leave the platform? It’s time for me to move on. Part of my new year’s resolutions for 2008 was to try and minimize my infatuation with beating dead horses, and this horse is so dead, that’s it’s been reincarnated into an emerald beetle and is living happily on the side of a tree in Brazilian rainforest.

I’m weighing my options, but it seems that I’ve comfortably settled myself at the Behance Network. I feel that the way Behance is built and it’s portfolio/project-based display ensures that the bar stays high – something I wish DeviantArt would have done in one way or another. An extraordinary amount of designers, animators, artists and photographers showcasing their work at Behance are mind-blowingly talented. I find myself browsing member’s portfolios on Behance for fun and inspiration, something I haven’t done at DeviantArt in a long, long time.

You can find my profile and works on my Behance profile page.

To my friends who work or have worked at DeviantArt, please understand that this is not personal. I admire the dedication to the DeviantArt community throughout the years and wish you well in your future endeavors.

Downloadable template for creating MOO business cards

My MOO cards arrived the other day, and I was so thrilled with the outcome that I decided to post and share the template I made.

You can download this template for use in Photoshop (PSD) or any graphics program (JPG). The dimensions are exact and include 5mm inner margins (photoshop guides) for easily positioning of content (don’t forget to remove the grey border layer when you’re done, otherwise it’ll come out in your print). Share freely and enjoy!

PSD (Photoshop and compatible)
JPG (Any graphic application)

If you like this template, please share it with others.

*Note: Moo’s default business card backs are vertical. This template is horizontal, however you can use the template easily enough for a vertical design by flipping it sideways in your graphics program.

*Note2: No graphics app installed? Try The Gimp, it’s free!

DISCLAIMER: Use this template at your own risk. I shall not be held responsible for borked business cards or oogly cards due to lack of design talent.

A video tour of my toy collection

I’ve been collecting toys for a few years, both designer figurines and random toys I get as gifts or find in the toy store’s bargain bin. I keep most of my toys on this shelf in our work room.

A video tour of my toy collection from Liron Tocker on Vimeo.

My “review” of Tel Aviv on Qype

Tel AvivTravel & HotelsDestinations

Tel Aviv is not what you think it is.
Full stop.

Tel Aviv is an amazing, culturally diverse, colorful and happening city, nicknamed "The city that never sleeps" by it’s locals. It’s hard to take this city as a whole and provide generalizations which would define it – within itself, Tel Aviv is incredibly multi-faceted city and a feast for the eyes and senses.

The city of Tel Aviv is broken down into a lot of smaller neighborhoods. I spent a lot of time during my post-teenage years working and partying in the center of the city, which includes most of the landmarks Tel Aviv is famous for, including it’s beaches. There’s lots to see and lots to do regardless of your fields of interest. Tel aviv should be a great destination for families with children as well as the older crowd or young party-goers.

The harbor area is famous for it’s nightlife and Tel Aviv’s "Shibuya" intersection of King George, Allenby and Shenkin streets provide the young-n-hip shopping district it’s flair. Some say Shenkin St. is the center of the world, sometimes I agree – one walk up and down this street and you experience the colors and cultures of Tel Aviv. Travel a little bit north and you’ll discover Tel Aviv’s Museum of Art (see separate review) and the Eretz Israel History Museum, as well as Yarkon Park (the largest in central israel), Sporthek and fairgrounds.

The Tel-Avivians are a generally liberal and talkative bunch, don’t be alarmed if some locals strike up a conversation with you while waiting for the light to turn at the crosswalk (if they wait in order to cross, that is).

Public transportation to and from Tel Aviv is good and is excellent inside the city – however parking spots are rare. If you’re visiting, worry not as all street signs are also in English, all the locals speak English and you’ll find English menus for almost every restaurant.

Avoid Winter in Tel Aviv. It’ll rain up to your knees and street-level drainage isn’t superb. Avoid the height of Summer, too. You’ll be boiling in 40c+ and will have to elbow your way through the rest of the tourists trying to get out of the sun.

Recommended months: April – Early July, September – October.

Insider’s tip: Public transportation in Israel is charged on a per-ride basis and not by destination. Ask the bus driver for a day pass ("chofshi yomi")for your needed zone and you’ll save a good amount of money.

Check out my review of Tel Aviv – I am liron – on Qype

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