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Anime & Manga

Spring Season 2013 Preview -- RazorDan

Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan) -- Breathless

Dreaming Anime Reviews: Clannad After Story -- Dreamcastor Rei

Magical Girls -- Emotional Outlet


Art & Literature

On Writing: POV Miniseries [Third-Person]

On the Nose

Too Realistic! -- Emotional Outlet



Dangan Ronpa

OFF -- Emotional Outlet



Tools of the Trade #3: Lasso -- poetictragedy



Flu Shot -- Minkseru

Bitcoin Problems -- Emotional Outlet


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Three issues! Eventually this will stop being so novel and I will stop heading all announcements with how many issues we have published. Probably once we hit double digits.


As you may have noticed, dear readers, the division of articles isn’t the anticipated two per category, and the Entertainment category is missing altogether. There are two primary factors contributing to this.


Previously mentioned in the newsletter’s shop talk thread, I have been the sole provider of content for both the Entertainment and Art & Literature categories for two issues in a row, and this issue was no different. Thus, until more content is generated for these categories, they will be published alternately.


The other factor was an unforeseen miscommunication regarding what is appropriate for article submission, so a last minute swap had to be performed. This will be addressed in my post-publication debrief.


To make up for the difference, I have gone ahead and filled the gap left by the Entertainment category’s absence with more Anime & Manga articles. Keep in mind, however, that future issues may end up being smaller if we don’t receive enough articles. If you’re able, please consider writing for the newsletter! Information can be found at the end of this issue.


In other news, I have come up with a set of formatting guidelines! The document can be found here.


On a final note, we would like to thank our donators for their contributions to the site!


If you’re able, please drop a few dollars in the tin. You’ll receive instant access to the downloads, premium and all, and a donator tag under your avatar. Every little bit counts, as money received also goes towards keeping the XDCC bots available.


[ PDF Download ]



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Spring Season 2013 Preview


So I’ve decided, instead of another review, I’m going to preview the spring anime season instead. The article is divided into series I will definitely watch and series I might watch, whilst also assigning a Raz Rating out of 5.


[Crunchyroll Final Spring 2013 Anime Chart]

Definitely Watch

Shingeki no Kyojin: April 6th 2013

Now this sounds very interesting. The premise is a post-apocalyptic world in which the majority of humanity has been wiped out by giants. However, a small percentage survived and lives in an impregnable city. The city saw no giants for over 100 years, until a super giant appears and kills the mother of the two main characters, Eren and Mikasa. This sounds like a series that could be pretty epic and has generated a lot of buzz as the manga has a large following. Expect blood, gore and violence. My number one pick.

5/5 Raz Rating

Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince: April 4th 2013

MJP for short, this series immediately drew my attention for three reasons: mecha, space frontiers, genetically modified kids called Princes who pilot massive robots. Being a huge Gundam fan, this series was right up there with Shingeki. Heck, even some of the art I’ve seen reminds me of Gundam, so I will be watching from the very first episode. Praying it doesn’t disappoint.

5/5 Raz Rating

Kakumeiki Valvrave: April 11th 2013

A new, original mecha series from Sunrise. That alone automatically put it on my to watch list. 70% of humanity live in space cities.

Between two major powers — the Dorushia Military Pact Federation and the Atlantic Ring United States (ARUS) — there is a small neutral nation called Jiōru that has prospered economically. (via Crunchyroll)

Liking the hints at a political affair. The lack of truly political anime disappoints me and I’m hoping this lives up to my wishes. The Valvrave Mecha looks good too, it’ll be interesting to see which is better between this and MJP.

5/5 Raz Rating

Might Watch

Suisei no Gargantia: April 2013

Another space anime. Aliens, Post-apocalyptic and mecha. One of the assistant directors from Code Geass is the director, which is good. The premise is intriguing but - With no knowledge of the planet's history, he is forced to live alongside Amy, a 15-year-old girl who serves as a messenger. To Redo, who has lived a life where he knows nothing but fighting, these days of peace continue to surprise him. (via Crunchyroll) - makes me a bit reluctant about it. Rather see frontline battles.

3/5 Raz Rating

Devil Survivor 2 The Animation: April 4th 2013

Mysterious invaders called the Septentriones arrive in Japan and begin attacking the country on a Sunday. To fight back, the heroes in Devil
Survivor 2 signed a pact with the devil to become the Thirteen Devil Messengers. The Septentriones show up at least once a day and you have a time limit of seven days to defeat them. (via Crunchyroll)

It sounds interesting, it really does, but something just feels ‘off’ about this anime. Maybe it’s the lack of hype or the title itself, but it’s not appealing to me like the other shows are. However, it is slightly intriguing so I may pick it up.

2/5 Raz Rating

Date A Live: March 30th 2013

The main character is told by his sister-in-law that he must date a spirit who may otherwise destroy humanity, something she nearly did 30 years ago. Surely this can’t be any good? Don’t have much hopes but if I hear good things, might just watch!

1/5 Raz Rating

I’m very excited by the first 3, could be very good. Praying they live up to my wishes. The other list is quite small, so the season isn’t as exciting as past seasons. Will post updates/reviews in a future issue. Raz out!


Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)





In this article I’ll be talking about the first episode, whilst referring to the manga here and there. This will be a more information-based article to give you a better idea of this anime, as opposed to score-based review.

Attack on Titan is an anime I’ve been waiting for since I first laid eyes on the manga. Its first episode was released on Saturday, 6th of April – and it will continue to release one episode a week, every Saturday. Attack on Titan will have a total of 25 episodes.

Credentials – The Attack on Titan manga has won the Kodansha Manga award in 2011. This basically means it was judged best (shonen) manga at the time. What does this mean? It means that you can expect something that’s not so hastily put together.

Aside from that, another big indicator that you can expect a quality anime is the popularity of the manga. It’s got quite a strong fan base, so there are a lot of hopes going into this anime!

But enough with the formalities, the first episode came out already!

I recently discussed it with my friend, and he mentioned that there wasn’t much action in it, but it’s still introducing the characters and the world. So putting the lack of action this episode aside, the art was fantastic. For me, the background especially caught my eye. It was… better than real life! (Oh, and the voice actors were good too!)

One thing the manga is known for is the creepy vibes it gives off. How did the anime do in that regard? In my opinion, quite well.



So, how about the characters!? They haven’t introduced many so far, but I feel like I should introduce them, even if roughly.

First up is, Eren Jaeger. He’s the son of Grisha Jaeger, who saved the town from illness, and thus, became a resident hero. Eren is a young boy who’s not happy with living in the walls. His goal is to join the scouting legion (recon squad). He’s outgoing and hard-headed.



Next is Mikasa Ackerman. She’s by Eren’s side throughout the whole episode. She’s sort of depicted as his protector so far. Not too much about her is known yet.



Lastly is Armin Arelet. He seems physically weak, but also quite intellectual. The first time Armin is seen, he’s being bullied for wanting to leave the walls. Like Eren, he feels that living inside the walls is less than perfect.



Kudos to Production I.G for doing such a great job so far, which brings me to my next point. Production I.G is the studio in charge of Attack on Titan. They’re the same companies who made the Ghost in the Shell series. The director of the anime is Araki Tetsurō, the same person who directed Black Lagoon, Death Note, Guilty Crown and some others too.

This gives us a good idea of where the anime is headed, or at least where they want it to go, in terms of cinematography. Personally I’m delighted by their choice in staff.

So in conclusion, everything so far seems to be going right for this anime. From the background art to the music, all the way to who’s directing it, it’s going great. I’m eagerly waiting for episode two.


Dreaming Anime Reviews: Clannad After Story

Dreamcastor Rei

Welcome to Dreaming Anime Reviews. I’ve watched close to 200 different animes, and most of them are “odd-ball” animes. They are ones that never got really popular, so not many have heard of them.




Events in After Story take place immediately after the first season, following Tomoya's final semester of high school. After declaring his love to Nagisa, they begin to have a close relationship. Their life together will be faced with unexpected challenges, as the truth behind the illusionary world and the city's legend come to light. [MAL]

Summer break is now over; the second semester has started for Tomoya, Nagisa, and the others, and little has changed. Since Tomoya's relationship with his father is still troubled, he continues to live with Nagisa and her family, even if it means getting roped into organizing a baseball team for the family bakery. Life at school continues as normal with Sunohara as carefree as ever; however, when his sister Mei voices her concerns about him, the series of events that follow place a strain on Sunohara and Tomoya’s friendship. Whether it's saving a person from themselves or passing on a message from the past, one thing’s for sure: no matter how tough things get, good friends will always be there to help out. [Anime-Planet]

Clannad After Story is just as the title says. It is the continuation of Clannad. At the end of Clannad, Tomoya finally confesses to Nagisa after the festival in the club room. So in After Story, we get to see their relationship grow strongly. The same range of emotion carry on to make you laugh and cry. In Clannad, it was basically the formation of their relationship, whereas in After Story, it follows the growth of their love for each other, family, and friends.

Plot: [5/5]
I actually love the plot more in After Story. More situations that differ from Clannad. More grown-up problems, so I guess you could say it’s not just about high school life anymore. Plus, you are able to finally piece together the Other World story that is also being told.

Characters: [5/5]
You still basically have the same characters as before, but you most of them you don't see a whole lot, because the story is more centered around Tomoya and Nagisa. A new main character also appears sometime in to After Story: Ushio, a very energetic little girl who bears a striking resemblance to a certain main character... I wonder why?

Art: [5/5]
Still as amazing as Clannad. KEY is so amazing with their art. Actually, because you get to see more of the other world, it is more interesting.

Sound/Music: [5/5]
Music was very well suited to the anime. This is an anime I loved both SUBBED and DUBBED. KEY nails them both really well again in After Story.

Awesomeness Factor: [5/5]
If you watched Clannad then you should most definitely watch After Story. I highly recommend you to watch this to experience more amazingness.



Magical Girls

Emotional Outlet

Due to the nature of this article, there will be spoilers for Sailor Moon and Puella Magi Madoka Magica.

Growing up, I don’t remember a lot of entertainment options where there was a significant female presence. Especially not one like Sailor Moon where just about every role possible is played by a woman, where women are shown in positions of power not because of their sexuality, but because they are legitimately powerful and competent.

No, when I was growing up, I rejected femininity. I used to hate “girly” colours, especially pink, and you’d never catch me dead in a skirt if it could be helped. I used to happily declare I never had any female friends and I was proud of the fact.

What the magical girl genre does, and what I wish it had done for me years earlier, is demonstrate being a woman doesn’t automatically mean being weak or bitchy. It demonstrated, in all sincerity, there is no right way to be a woman and no matter how you choose to express yourself, it’s right and beautiful.

In Sailor Moon, each of the Inner Senshi demonstrate their femininity in different ways. Rei is darkly feminine and initially icy, Makoto is a tomboy and physically imposing, and Usagi, especially as the series progresses, is more traditional with ideals like innocence and purity playing strongly into her character. As we are introduced to the Outer Senshi, we are exposed not only to a lesbian couple, but to a character who happily crossdresses and questions the importance of gender.

At no point is it ever shown how these characters demonstrate their femininity is wrong or more correct than the other. They’re allowed to grow and flourish with their own strengths, personalities, and values. Sailor Moon isn’t without its problems, but these weaknesses don’t take away from its value.

Puella Magi addresses the darker side of what it means to be a woman, of being a magical girl. There are multiple interpretations of the story, so what follows is only one of many.

Kyubey is our society, urging women to fight for what is good and right and beautiful in the world. When it’s revealed magical girls who live long enough eventually become witches, it’s easy to draw parallels--there is no perfect way to be a woman, and attempting to do so by anyone’s standards but your own will only result in bitterness and heartache. It may not be as dramatic as what Sayaka experienced, but because the standards are always shifting, always out of reach, you’ll always fall short according to society.

Things that make you human, things like emotions and weakness, things like your own body and sexuality, are used as weapons against you. You’re not allowed to be emotional, you’re not allowed to enjoy your body certain ways without being derided. Sayaka was met with the brunt of this reality and it tore her apart.

When the story wraps up and Madoka literally changes the rules of the game, we’re brought back to the same lessons Sailor Moon taught--as a woman, you are allowed to be powerful and beautiful, and you are allowed to fight for yourself, no matter how you choose to achieve any of it.

It’s a lesson I wish I had learnt earlier, but no matter the timing, I’m glad I learnt it.



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POV Miniseries [Third Person]

Emotional Outlet


Narrative Point of View (POV) is how a story is written and depends upon who is telling the story. There are three primary POVs---first-person, second-person, and third-person. Each POV has its strengths and weaknesses, but the most important thing to consider is how your story will benefit from a certain narrative voice. We finish with third-person.


Third-person is the most common and, arguably, the most flexible of the POVs available.


It can also be confusing. There is disagreement as to terminology, as well as how many modes of third-person narrative exist. What I present here is my personal understanding.


There are three main flavours--objective, limited, and omniscient.


Objective, as the name suggests, is written without insight to any of the characters’ feelings. It’s like filming a movie or being a fly on the wall. While you can see things like a character rolling their eyes or hear sarcasm in their voice, you won’t hear any inner thoughts and the narrative details will be relayed without subjectivity.


This POV can feel a bit sterile and distant, which makes it especially useful when dealing with heavy issues, as it avoids any “preachy” tones from the narrator.


Limited lets readers into a character’s mind, and allows for switching between characters (known as limited multiple) to offer a broader perspective of the story. Narrative can be tinged with the character’s voice, up to the point where the only thing separating this POV from first-person is pronoun usage.


A word of caution. Jumping between heads, so to speak, can be disorienting to readers. If you start a scene with Sheila as your POV character, try to stick with her until the end of the scene. A single jump to Victoria can be done and done well, but switching back and forth in a scene can create confusion.


Omniscient lends a more traditional feel to writing. It allows the writer to dip into anyone’s mind and shift the viewing lens at will. The narrator’s knowledge is not limited to any single character, or even to a single time.


What separates omniscient from a head-hopping limited POV is an omniscient narrator can be considered a character of their own. They don’t share a voice with any of the characters, and instead have their own. In some cases, an omniscient narrator is actually the voice of the writer.




Objective — “Sheila slammed the glass on the table, spilling liquid everywhere. Victoria gasped and took a step back.”


Limited — “Sheila slammed the glass on the table, spilling liquid everywhere. Her heart pounded as she watched Victoria step away. Her fingers felt sticky against the glass.”


Omniscient — “Sheila slammed the glass on the table, spilling liquid everywhere. Her heart pounded. Victoria stepped back and gasped, suddenly terrified of the small woman. Like so many fights before, this would end only when Sheila deemed it so.”




Sometimes a story needs a broad perspective, and third-person limited multiple is the fit you’re looking for. A story you started out in third-person may be better told in first-person. Maybe you want your readers to feel right at home in the story and second-person is what you need to drive that point.


Whatever voice your story needs, I hope I helped you find it.



On the Nose

Emotional Outlet


“On the nose” dialogue refers to dialogue with all subtext laid out. Characters say exactly what’s on their mind and how they’re feeling.

Sheila: Where’d you go?

Victoria: I was angry you didn’t pick me up from the airport. Then I looked through your phone and saw you were texting some guy instead of getting me, so I went out for a couple of drinks with my ex because I was jealous.

Sheila: Where’d you go?

Victoria: Just needed to clear my head.

The first is considered “on the nose”.

In the second, although the same circumstances exist, Victoria doesn’t offer up the information that she was upset with Sheila, that she had been snooping on her phone, or that she was with an ex at the bar. Sheila is probably able to tell by her breath that she “cleared her head” with booze, but everything else is still buried in the subtext.

On the nose dialogue doesn’t have to be as drawn-out or obvious as the example--it can be as simple as a character saying, “I was jealous”.

In life, dialogue isn’t always open and direct--people circumlocute and speak obliquely. This behaviour isn’t necessarily a bad or deceptive thing. A person can try to be subtle in courtship for fear of rejection. A person might refer vaguely to certain topics due to old pains they don’t want to stir by talking about it outright.

Exploiting this fact can add depth to characters and their relationships with others. Victoria might speak frankly and honestly with her ex Kendra, but when it comes to talking with Sheila, she sidesteps and dodges, offering very little in the way of direct answers.

Why Victoria does this paints her relationship with Sheila in different ways. Is she doing it because she doesn’t trust Sheila? Does she think Sheila doesn’t trust her? Does she feel distanced from Sheila? Does she want to be distant from her? Does she feel guilty for some reason? And what of her relationship with Kendra?

Condensing a character’s dialogue to contain the bare minimum can lead to punchy and memorable lines. Consider Don Corleone’s line from The Godfather—“I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse”. How effective would that line have been if he said exactly that entails and why he said it?

Of course, a pithy line doesn’t have to be laden with subtext and can indeed be on the nose. If a character is shown dancing around a certain fact the entire time, the eventual admission of that fact can make all those past exchanges suddenly make sense in retrospect, creating an “a-ha!” moment for the audience.

If it doesn’t make sense for a character to be vague about their feelings, then have them be blunt. If it doesn’t make sense for a character to speak so openly about controversial topics, then be oblique and subtle.

Neither approach is inherently better than the other. The important thing to consider is balance.



Too Realistic!

Emotional Outlet


Paradoxical and frustrating though it may be, it is possible to create dialogue that is too realistic. Hitchcock once described a good story as “life, with the dull parts taken out”.

Let’s say we have two people, Sheila and Victoria, meeting up at a coffee shop. Victoria arranged for the meeting because she wants to tell Sheila something. She’s been waiting on Sheila for the past half hour.

Sheila: Oh jeez, I’m sorry I’m so late! I didn’t even--

Victoria: It’s okay. Traffic?

Sheila: Like you would not believe. There was an overturned truck--a mail truck on the highway and there were just all these packages and envelopes everywhere on the road.

Victoria: Wow. Guess those people aren’t getting their mail any time soon, huh. Sucks.

Sheila: I know! I saw people actually, like, uh, stopping at the side of the road to just grab packages for themselves. Shoving them in their cars and jetting out of there. I’m pretty sure that’s illegal, but I guess nobody cared. Anyway, how are you?

Victoria: Oh, you know. The usual. Work is a huge bother...

It continues that way for a while, until finally Victoria manages to tell Sheila the real reason behind their meeting.

In real life, this happens all the time. In stories, however, it can be a pain to read. Readers can be left wondering what the point of this dialogue is if they were just told that the reason Victoria wanted to talk to Sheila was because she wanted to confess her feelings. Going on at length about this mail truck accident and engaging in further small talk derails the plot.

While having characters talk about events in the world they live in and engage in small talk can build realism and add depth to the story, it’s important to keep these parts in check against the plot.

Real people ramble, cut each other off, cut themselves off, stumble and stutter, speak in fragments, and repeat themselves--that doesn’t mean you have to capture every gritty detail in your writing. I’m sure we’ve all had the following conversation at least a hundred times in the past month:

“Good morning.”


“How are you?”

“I’m okay, how are you?”


It’s for similar reasons writers don’t usually outline every single time their characters use the restroom.

Bear in mind, however, that going the opposite way--formality vice informality--can also create dialogue that feels artificial and stilted. If it doesn’t make sense for a character to speak like they’re literally an English essay, don’t make them talk that way!

As with all things, the important thing is balance. If you find your characters are going on at length about nothing, save all that extraneous dialogue somewhere else in case you need to reference it later and cut it out of the narrative. If you think a character is being unnecessarily formal, tidy it up--same thing for the opposite. Believable dialogue doesn’t have to mimic life perfectly.

Read your character’s dialogue out loud, even if you think you don’t need to. If you find yourself rewriting the dialogue as you read it aloud because it flows better that way, make those changes. Don’t let your eyes be the sole judge of your writing.

Happy writing!



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Dangan Ronpa

Emotional Outlet



Dangan Ronpa official art


Phoenix Wright meets Battle Royale—Dangan Ronpa is a Japanese PSP game unlikely to ever receive a western localisation.


One of the reasons it’s known to the western hemisphere is largely due to a Let’s Play on the Something Awful forum, a monstrous beast at over 700 pages, almost 130 updates, and loads of extra content. The LP itself is a hybrid creature—the OP not only screenshotted the game and uploaded videos, he did a full translation and provided cultural notes throughout.


Although I haven’t played it and my ability to read Japanese is limited to writing my name and recognising a single character in Hiragana, the LP is about as close to playing the game as is possible without actually playing it. It’s also worth noting that I have only read the LP up through the third chapter.


It starts with a cast of fifteen teenaged students—all of whom are Super High School Level experts at something, ranging from the predictable (Baseball Player, Hacker) to the somewhat questionable (Heir, Lucky) to the outright mysterious (literally ???)—and a sadistic little bear known as Monobear.


The students are locked into the school by Monobear and told that they can live a peaceful life in their new world, or kill someone to “graduate” and go back to the real world. Students then investigate the murder to prepare for a trial, where they must vote on who committed the murder.


As might be expected, it’s an extremely linear game. There’s no variation in who dies and when, and due to the subversive nature of some of the characters, spoilers can absolutely take some of the fun out of the story. As someone who doesn’t mind being spoiled, I can definitely see why people in the LP thread were so cautious to protect against even the faintest whiff of spoilers--this game is trippy, and that’s putting it lightly.


The game’s biggest strength is its cast. Each of the characters are fleshed out through the main storyline as well as social links, where you can take what limited free time is granted to the protagonist, Makoto Naegi, and spend it with your fellow students.


What’s interesting about the game is, while it has subversive aspects, not every character trope is averted or inverted. Some of the characters are played straight in their development, which makes the twists all the more interesting. Who’s going to live up to your expectations, and who’s going to blow them away?


While the game does avert certain expectations, there are aspects that are played disappointingly straight. When you come close to trial’s end and the murderer is put on the spot, they become frothing, aggressive monsters, making their guilt exceedingly clear. At least, this has been the pattern for as far as I read.


Some of the mysteries don’t really seem to click together very well, and the game seems to squander certain opportunities to take advantage of characterisation in crafting the story. Although the LP format allows for the deep scrutinisation of every aspect of the game that isn’t afforded to one who is simply playing through the game as normal, things don’t often click together until during the trial, and even then, it may still not make complete sense after the trial’s conclusion.


Weaknesses aside, the LP is well worth a read, and the speculation that fills out the thread to over 700 pages makes it all the more interesting. If you have the resources, though, definitely give the game a shot!



Emotional Outlet





OFF is a quirky little game made in RPG Maker. Originally in French, an English version of the game can be found for free online, as well as a link to the OST, which is well worth a listen after completing the game. I spent the greater part of a day completing it, so I would estimate time commitment to be at least six hours--it may be more or less, depending on your reading speed and ability to beat up monsters.

The game is difficult to talk about without spoiling things, so if you don’t understand what I’m talking about, well, you’ll just have to play the game yourself!

It starts off with a rather light-hearted atmosphere as you take control of the Batter and help him beat up bedsheet ghosts in an effort to purify the world. Gameplay is remarkably simple, as one might expect from an RPG Maker game. There are puzzles and clues to be gathered, but they’re simple. You might have to write things down at most.

You go through four different zones, numbered 0 through 3, on your quest to purify the world. As you progress, however, the game world stops being goofy and starts getting darker, quickly taking a turn for the nightmarish. Though it still maintains some moments of levity, the humour often feels out of place and all the more terrifying given the circumstances.

Key characters include a friendly item merchant named Zacharie who likes to break the fourth wall. a grinning cat named The Judge who helps you through your journey, and, of course, the Batter, the person you’re assigned to help accomplish a very sacred and important mission. You also meet some nervous and neurotic fellows known as the Elsen who make up the bulk of the NPC population.

I confess much of the game was spoiled for me in my travels through Tumblr, but even with the knowledge of the twists, I still felt quite a bit of tension and apprehension as I completed the second half of the game and played through the three endings (one is a secret and involves fighting an optional boss). All the spoilers in the world couldn’t prepare me for the eerie and unsettling atmosphere of the game.

One of the criticisms levied against the game revolves around the random battles and just how numerous and repetitive they are. I’m inclined to agree, as I found myself using auto-battle for most of the game. While the function does very well, it’s impossible to multi-task while allowing the computer to handle the battles, since the whole game pauses when you click away from the window. You’re then either forced to watch the computer fight battles for you, or subject yourself to the tedium of handling the random battles yourself.

Gameplay aside, the story is very much open to interpretation. Although some answers are given at the end, it doesn’t answer all of them, allowing players to come up with their own theories and ideas about what just happened.

While it’s an extremely creepy and scary game, a lot of the horror doesn’t come from things like jump scares, graphic violence, or gore. It’s a gradual atmosphere, revealed layer by layer as you play.

Although Halloween has long since come and gone, if you’re in the mood for an offbeat psychological horror game, OFF just might be what you’re looking for.



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Tools of the Trade #3: 5mfHdOU.png Lasso



Tools of the Trade is a series of articles that will outline the functions and various uses of the different tools available in Photoshop CS5. These articles may also be relevant to other versions of Photoshop and possibly even GIMP; however, I am not familiar with these other programs and therefore, cannot guarantee the compatibility of this series.

The Lasso tool is another way to make selections. The simplest way to use the tool is to draw an outline around the area you want to select. Obviously, this is not a very clean or precise way to make a selection. I mainly use this tool for removing tags artists place on renders, before I paste the render into a new canvas.



Another aspect of this tool is the Polygonal Lasso tool (right). This is used the same way as the regular Lasso tool, but instead of just drawing an arbitrary shape around the area, the Polygonal tool connects straight lines to form a shape.



The last aspect of the Lasso tool is the Magnetic Lasso tool. This is most effectively used by tracing the outline of the area you want to select, and it will (to the best of its ability) snap to the edge of the area. The squares that appear are basically points the tool will use to create the selection; they will disappear when the circuit is closed. This tool could be best used to create a render, however, I don’t commonly use this function; the Quick Select tool, which I will cover in a later installment of this series, is much simpler to use.




As always, there is an options toolbar that comes with these tools. The toolbar is the same for the Lasso and Polygonal Lasso tools.




I’ve described the functions of the four icons, Feather, and Refine Edge in my article on the Marquee tool; because the Lasso tools are simply another way to make selections, these options are used in exactly the same way.

The toolbar for the Magnetic Lasso tool varies slightly.




Width: Adjusts the width of the area that the tool looks at to find the edge of the selection.

Contrast: Helps the tool determine how picky to be about differentiating between background and what is meant to be your selection. Lower contrast = less picky; higher contrast = more picky. As you can see, mine’s set at 10%, and I’ve never changed it.

Frequency: Determines how frequently to lay down a new anchor point. Higher frequency = more anchor points = smoother lines; alternatively, lower frequency = less anchor points = choppier/straighter lines.

It’s probably clear by now, but there are many means to the same end when using Photoshop. I’ve already written two articles about how to make selections, and there’s still one more selection tool to cover! Hopefully, these articles will encourage artists to use different tools to accomplish a task; maybe one they’ve never thought to use before.



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Flu Shot: RAM Part 2



This is second part of the RAM topic discussed in the last issue. There are two points not touched upon last time:


1) There are a few concepts that are not frequently mentioned when RAM comes up normally, and


2) RAM is not the only thing that affects the speed of your computer.


Starting with the first point: there is a term called “Dual Channel RAM.” Basically, the motherboard sometimes supports the ability to run two separate RAM sticks at the same time for a list of tasks; similar to a line of runners.


Instead of the same runner running to the first tape, dropping the baton and picking it up again, there is a second runner ready to pick up the baton and keep going. By having the two RAM sticks lined up, the motherboard has it channeled so the CPU can assign an additional task to be ready for when the first is achieved.


Does that mean all RAM sticks are supported this way?


No, it means that two RAMs that your motherboard will support are supported. They also need to be the same size of memory and speed processing.


They can be different sizes, but it will decrease the benefit of having two RAM sticks. This is because in the electronic universe, we, as a rule of thumb, drop to the lowest of two items; so if one is slower, both will run at that speed.


This brings me to my second point: other components play a role in controlling how well, and how fast, the computer completes tasks. The three big components are the motherboard, CPU, and RAM.


The CPU tells the computer what it is allowed to do. It affects speed by telling the other machine parts what, how fast, and in what order to run.


Think of one of those radio transmitters you might have used with your walkie-talkies as a kid. You could change who people were speaking to based on the channel you were set to. The better the processing power on your CPU chip, the quicker electric signals get assigned, and directed back out.

The motherboard needs to be able to keep up with the RAM. If the motherboard does not recognise it or can’t function at that level, rule of thumb is you might as well be trying to have the motherboard read a brick.


This brings us back to our earlier discussion on optimising a computer’s RAM for speed.


First, make sure the brand will work for the motherboard. We have an INTEL board, it can run some AMD sticks, in addition to other things, I am sure.


Make sure the amount of RAM exceeds the amount of memory the computer will (on a busy day) use at the same time.


Next, check the maximum clock speed the sticks will achieve; the chosen RAM will sometimes perform at half that number, while other times it is correct at face value. This will be the number listed with the DDR. In the case of our Ripjaws Ram stick, it is a DDR3-1600.


The maximum transfer rate will be listed by the PCyyyy;  in our case, ours is PC3-12800. So our Ripjaws ram stick, by itself, will run at 800MHz, and transfer up to 12800 MBs/Sec.


This has been your Flu Shot of the Week.


Next issue: Overclocking your computer, and why you would try it.



Bitcoin Problems

Emotional Outlet


For more information on the Bitcoin, be sure to check out Dae’s article in the second issue of the Informer (pg. 13)!


The Bitcoin appears to be having a tumultuous month so far, with rising interest by the public making it an attractive target to hackers.


On the 4th of April, Mt.Gox, the exchange that handles most of the Bitcoin trades, suffered a DDoS attack, leading to a dip in Bitcoin prices.


The currency crashed several days later, apparently caused not by a malicious attack on Mt.Gox as speculated, but a flood of interest by the public.


However, the very next day, the 11th of April, after announcing they weren’t under attack and then performing maintenance, the company stated they were yet again suffering a DDoS, one more severe than the previous attack.


It’s theorised that the attacks are perpetrated by those who hope to game the system by forcing the currency to drop in value so they can cash in cheap, then make money as they allow it to gain value once more.


The issues with Mt.Gox resulted in heavy criticism against them, eliciting comments from users that other customers should stop using a service that seems to be killing the currency by failing to bolster their security measures. Others argue that because it is an experimental currency, and since Mt.Gox experienced a huge spike in popularity, going from a largely unknown exchange to something much larger in a relatively short amount of time, these kinds of issues are to be expected.


Another strike came with Instawallet, a storage service for Bitcoins. The service is indefinitely shut down, at least until its security architecture is changed, due to an attack. There is a claims process  in place so users can be refunded their Bitcoins.


Skype trojan sent users a malicious link claiming to have photos of the target (“this is my favourite picture of you”). It then hijacks the computer and forces it to mine for Bitcoins, an incredibly process involving solving complex problems. This is resource intensive--Bitcoin miners are using roughly $150k a day in power consumption alone-. Regaining control from the trojan then becomes a matter of saving victims from outrageous utility bills.


According to a Kaspersky Lab Expert, “Most of the potential victims live in Italy then Russia, Poland, Costa Rica, Spain, Germany, Ukraine and others.”


Another attack was carried out by a phishing gang. They claimed Mt.Gox was going to begin trading Litecoins, an alternative to Bitcoins, and provided a link to a supposed video announcement.


More information about the attack can be read here, posted by a victim who lost 34 Bitcoins because of it. (The thread is a bit of an interesting read altogether, and certainly a cautionary tale for people to check and double links before clicking, especially when it comes to links from unknown sources.)


Although other investment options like stocks may not prove any safer than Bitcoins, potential investors seem to be turned off by the digital currency, especially in the face of these recent attacks. Not to mention the fact that the Bitcoin is still a highly tantalising target for hackers and phishers.









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I enjoy putting together the PDF version, it's pretty novel for me to play around with layouts and adjusting them to people's articles. The forum format, however, is like the longest game of Red Light, Green Light.


But thanks, haha, I'm glad you like it~ o3o


I might play around with InDesign later, see how that pans out for me. Science.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Blarg. I'm very late in my comments on the newsletter, but better late than never!

After Story: "Ushio, a very energetic little girl who bears a striking resemblance to a certain main character... I wonder why? " It's the main character clone right? It has to be.


Magical Girls: "You’re not allowed to be emotional" Buuuut can you be an outlet???


Too Realistic: Aaaand this is why I never liked those High School dramas.  Everything would flow perfectly every day in the hallway.  Kids would be having perfect conversations and everything.  I would always be like, I wonder what would happen if it was like real high school with awkward moments and times where the main character doesn't do anything special (Spoiler: ratings drop)?


Bitcoin: Yeah I never trusted Bitcoin from the start.  It seems like everyday there is some issue with it.  A site being DDoS'd, someone being hacked, etc...  Many of my internet friends swear by it, but I will continue to steer clear from it.

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Well, I have been a lamp, so someone has to be an outlet!

There are definitely genre expectations when it comes to dialogue. I personally am quite fond of the "kids talking like adults" trope, even if it's not totally realistic.

I dunno nothing about Bitcoins, I literally spent hours researching it and figuring out what's going on, haha. I'll probably stay away myself, I already have credit card debt, I don't need any more fake money.

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