Sometimes it’s nice to look at the improvement that popular artists have made over time. For example Zeta-Haru:

2018

2014

You can really see how he’s improved on lighting and especially that neat fur shading visible on the tail, hair, ears. The tail looks less tacked on and the background is nicer. There’s just one thing that feels off here.

 

The dates are REVERSED

The second image was a recent YCH auction that went for $500. The quality has gotten lazy and the pricing has gone through the roof. I mean, the posing is also just so dull for an artist that’s been considered automatically $300+ on auctions for the past 4 years. Compare it to 4 years ago when people started taking real interest in his artwork:

That’s more like it, not obscuring half of the body of a character so you don’t have to draw it and tacking the tail on as an afterthought. Look at the highlights and how they’re missing from the recent pictures. This new work is much less appealing, if not for how the FA economy really works (popularity contests, ego wars), these pieces would stop selling for maximum price. It’s just outright greedy.

Have you ever seen a character that you cannot help but sigh at? Something so poorly though out or original that you wonder what on earth the person owning it was thinking when they made it. There’s a shocking amount of characters like this in the furry fandom, so here’s a list of the some of the traps you don’t want to fall in when making your character:

  1. Too many colors AKA Sparkledog – Don’t be that guy that has 10 different bright colors on their character. Stick to a solid color scheme that doesn’t look like a neon mess.
  2. Rainbow Sparkledogs – What’s worse than having too many bright colors? Having the entire spectrum of bright colors on your character.
  3. Shadow Assassin – Oh your character is an assassin? Does he also happen to be a scarred black wolf with murdered parents? You should try not making a bad fanfiction stereotype of a character.
  4. Flames coming out of one/both eyes – Makes you look like you’re trying to be an anime badass, while making them look ridiculous.
  5. Thicc AKA Obese – Do you seriously think making your character look like they belong on “My 600-lb Life” is a good idea? As a side note, adding a word replacer to your browser that replaces “thicc” with “morbidly obese” makes this much more hilarious.
  6. Excessively complicated Tattoos – Nobody can draw these correctly, so 90% of the time it gets drawn out flat and added as a layer, making your commissions look terrible.
  7. Heterochromia – Rare condition that affects about 0.25% of people and 50% of furry characters, can’t you think of other ways to make your character interesting than different eye colors?
  8. Based on an anime/movie character – What the hell are you even thinking? Have bonus points for contributing to the “furries ruin everything” problem.
  9. The generic – Hello no-marking orange fox and grey wolf. Thanks for contributing to the pool of characters that all look identical. What’s the point of having your unique character if it’s impossible for anyone to distinguish them from 1000 others, it’s laziness.
  10. Lazy design AKA You tried – Oh, your character is a fox, except all of his fur is pink. Completely red cat with white belly? You’re so creative.
  11. Copycat – Oh, you like Artica? Better make a complete clone with slightly different markings.
  12. Information overload AKA Complicated character fee – You know what your character needs? Horns, and antlers, and don’t forget tattoos, scales, a scorpion stinger, four arms, fur tufts, abnormal ears, gradient fur patterns and a custom species. It’ll help hide up the fact that you SUCK at design.
  13. Douchebag – So you’ve avoided the above traps? Well, not wanting to avoid being put into one category or other, you’d better start making your character as unlikable as you possibly can. Make them blackmail people, hack into their accounts, commit robbery, assault and murder and all-around act like a complete edgelord. Just remember to make sure you make an unrealistic world that doesn’t immediately imprison or beat their ass because after all, you’re the God of your own creation.
  14. Clashing color scheme – Don’t put neon green next to neon red, you look fucking terrible. Yes, that includes Majira Strawberry, just look at any art piece he’s ever received, that’s why you don’t put neon purple, green and yellow all next to eachother. Mischief makers had to pull off a fucking miracle to prevent him looking like some sort of monsterĀ  from a nightmare about candy crush.
  15. Otherkin – I’m getting really fed up with dealing with these retards. No, that’s not your ‘biological body’, you’re mentally ill. Even if it was, you change it every 2 months so how the hell does that work?
  16. Feral animals – You’re really not making a good case for yourself when your character is a feral dog. Oh, and you just had it drawn being fucked by an anthro or human, because you want everyone to know you’re into bestiality and want to fuck dogs.
  17. Proprietary species – Sergals are a big example, and it’s not their design that’s terrible, it’s that they are provided on a proprietary license. Now everyone is doing this, and in some cases you can’t even make a character of a certain design unless you pay because of “closed species”. You know primagens that are being sold? I know the guy who invented their design years before and he never gave permission for them to be made a closed species and sold. If he wasn’t such an uncaring edgelord they could be made free again, but until then you’re just fucked. God forbid you try making money off a character of a species that someone has pretend-copyrighted.
  18. Wings – Are you an avian? Do you only want to get solo pictures? That had better be the case because these look silly on anything else and take up the entire space of a given image. No wonder most artists will charge you for them or not draw them at all. Try not looking like you decided to be an angel as an afterthought.
  19. Demon/Satan – So your mental age is 10 years old. I bet you can’t go 10 minutes without calling something autistic, drawing a swastika or spouting a racial slur.
  20. Bad prosthetics – I hope you have a good story to go with those cybernetic enhancements that doesn’t devolve to “my cybernetic eye helps me with hacking”. If you don’t want to fall under the category of shit cybernetics, get it designed by someone like Strype and make sure that it makes sense. Robotic arms don’t make you stronger, they’re heavy and need power supplies. It doesn’t make you a super hero.
  21. Shapeshifter – Please just decide on a character design.

Is it possible not to associate this with psychological cash-grabs these days? I’m skeptical.

Patreon as a model has been extremely irritating in the furry community for quite a while now. Originally starting as a monthly tip jar for friends and artists, it’s quickly become abused for the sake of bilking money out of patrons. I’ve tried to avoid it for so long, I really have, but it has gotten to the point where I can’t play along with this ludicrous model and I’m unable to stop myself being affected by its rising popularity. I’m going to start labeling these Patreon techniques wildly used as “Naytreons”, and you should too.

Is your Patreon a Naytreon? Let’s find out with some examples:

  • Raffles – This has essentially the same problems as any lottery. To win the average person would have to spend way more than the prize is worth. It’s misleading and unethical. These are extremely common with furry Patreons.
  • Exclusive commissions – Trying to secure a commission slot to pay an artist to draw for you is difficult with competition normally. Now with the advent of Patreon, you have to pay in order to compete with the 50 other people who pay for a chance at a commission. Your chances have actually decreased because everyone who wants a commission is now paying for that chance. Why are we PAYING for a CHANCE to pay the artist?
  • Hard paywalls – This is a business model that doesn’t even work for conglomerations of furry artists. Do you know how many people subscribe to HardBlush nowadays? They are operating at a loss now, and their personal image is the only valuable thing they have left. It also sucks for your fans who aren’t interested in joining the equivalent of a one-person paysite. Also anyone who wants to bypass it just has to go to Yiff.Party and don’t even bother with tools to ‘invisible watermark’ your stuff nowadays. This isn’t 2008, there are neural networks that will complete annihilate any invisible watermarking.
  • Soft paywalls – For when you don’t want to look like a paywall. Everything is posted online, but at tiny, jpeg compressed resolution. Wake-up call for you guys, it’s 2018, on modern displays 1280×1280 is the size of the start menu on your computer. Did you also know that Waifu2x is going to put this model out of business soon? That’s right, a neural net that upscales artwork to visible resolutions and removes jpeg compression artifacts.

Patreon is also pure evil when it comes to collecting payments. It performs some nasty tricks to try and keep you subscribed. Have a look at the cancellation process:

  • When you go to cancel, Patreon will attempt to bill you for the remainder of a month for content you’ve already accessed.
    • Sounds fair right? No. I joined a pledge on May 28th, billed June 1st and it’s July 1st today. I’m exiting before I’m billed for another month.
    • Because of this, Patreon tried to bill me anyway, and was forcing me to choose between keeping my pledge or wasting money on a month’s membership that I don’t even fucking GET.
    • The only way to get around this is to remove Patreon payments on your PAYPAL account and allow the payment to bounce.
    • No doubt someone is going to get a notification that I bounced a payment and call me a scammer. Well, fuck you patreon, you permanently stick your users in a state of don’t cancel, or burn money to leave.
      • This kind of shit is regularly pulled by other evil subscription services like your ISP and phone company.

 

Patreon trying to charge me for a month that I won’t even receive content for. Go fuck yourself, Patreon.

Patreon doesn’t mention that it can’t hold money that they don’t even have ransom. PayPal gives no shits.

 

I can honestly say that I don’t want to ever get involved in the mess that is Patreon ever again. I’d rather artist commission prices be higher than pay for the chance to receive the privilege of giving them more money.

And fuck this paywall nonsense, I’m not going to pay for all of the 5000 different personal paywalls that you artists put up, even your pledgers likely use Yiff.Party for other patreons because there’s no other choice when you’re already spending up to your limit on bypassing paywalls.

What a sad state of affairs.

 

 

Changed is what you’d call a weird game, and that’s because it was originally built to have the focal point of the transformation fetish, in particular the furry latex transformation subfetish.

If you’re thinking what I’m thinking, that’s not exactly the type of thing that would drive sales or positive reviews, much less very positive reviews, quite a decent number of sales for the couple of months it’s been for sale and a fandom built to go with it. And it was made with RPGMaker.

So what gives? I’m certainly not into this transformation stuff so that’s not going to be the focus of this post.

The story isn’t about you. You’re actually a fairly blank character with not much detail about you in this game, only the name ‘Lin’ or ‘Colin’ depending on translation. The most fleshed out character in the story is called Puro, and he’s one of the monsters that try to turn you into one of them. The success of the story revolves around Puro rather than your character, as he’s relied upon to get you past tricky parts of the game, although he’s certainly no knight in shining armor.

When you first meet him, you get some cheeky comments about how disappointed he is, as he thinks you’re too weak to be worth bothering to assimilate as a host. He actually reveals that his helpful notes were part of his original plan to trick you into position, but his disappointment is what turns you into an ally; having been let down by his original plan, he starts working with you to escape together. It’s a delicate relationship, and if you care about spoilers, you should probably go play the game first before reading the rest of this post.

***Spoiler Warning***

Puro is extremely sensitive in the game and doesn’t show how he really feels most of the time. Little things like not thanking him for helping you out or saving you will result in his confidence depleting, leading to a bad ending early on. Failing to bond with Puro turns him into a strange, caring enemy that doesn’t trust you enough to let you try and leave the facility, and assimilates you for your own protection. Your primary goal is to try and convince Puro that you’re able to complete the game, or he won’t let you.

The bosses and puzzles can be extremely difficult, and running away from enemies leaves absolutely no margin for error, you either land the sequence for running away in a maze correctly or you instantly die, there is no health bar. In such a brutal game, you’re completely relieved when you encounter the first NPC that doesn’t just want to instantly end your game. As the stages go on, Puro becomes more useful as your companion. While only acting as an advice giver at the beginning he quickly becomes an ally that blocks monsters from attacking you, baits dangerous monsters away from you and throws you over large groups of enemies to safety.

This culminates in the last big crossroads of the game, where he fights an intelligent, hostile character to save your life, but the effectiveness depends on your previous bonding with the character. If you haven’t been sure to pay attention to Puro until now, you’ll return to find that he’s been murdered while trying to save you, resulting in a catastrophically bad ending where you’re hypnotised and subjected to forced transformation treatment. If you made the right choices, he’ll instead wake up from unconsciousness and you can complete your escape.

When the endgame choice is made to you, you’re given two pretty awful decisions to choose from which both result in bad endings:

  • Escape with Puro, knowing that he doesn’t have long to live as a parasite without a host, before collapsing in a cutscene that implies your character dies and Puro soon after.
  • Stay inside the facility, leaving Puro to exit alone, where it is implied his short lifespan and no assistance results in his death, while you stay with what could be called the antagonist of the game.

Neither of these options are enjoyable, and with the game focusing so hard on making you and Puro rely on eachother, you can’t help but feel terrible that his character doesn’t do so well. The solution is in the form of a hidden true ending that requires you to have paid attention to the notes at the beginning of the game. Upon activating it you can volunteer to undergo a transformation in return for immunity to disease, keeping your consciousness and Puro being given an extension to his lifespan so that he can stay your friend.

It’s a heartwarming ending, but is left on a cliffhanger when your character collapses, unused to their new body and weary, not replying to Puro calling your name while the game fades to black, leaving it ambiguous as to whether you made it or not. It’s a final stab in the heart from the creator, but it does a good job at making you think about how you feel towards your companion throughout the whole game.

And he makes a pretty believable friend, he doesn’t always say or do the right thing, or feel the most stable about things, but he’s still determined to follow you on your quest. It’s mentioned several times that he’s at risk of being attacked by the other monsters, and the fear is very real, his shocked reaction face when you reach a game over is just an example of it.

It’s kind of in the same vein as games like undertale, your character is more of a blank sheet, but you’re going to wish you had friends like the characters in games like these.

The humble chimera, Windows and Linux playing nice with eachother

The “Year of the Linux Desktop” is touted a lot in the space of linux enthusiasts, but as of the past decade it’s been more of a joke than anything else; particularly with regards to gamers: Linux systems can’t play many famous games on the PC.

Until now.

It’s called VFIO, and it allows you to pass hardware into virtual machines, including PCI-e cards, such that it is sometimes called PCI-e Passthrough or VGA Passthrough. What does this mean for linux users? It means that it’s now possible to have a virtual machine that runs windows at almost native performance, including GPU acceleration. It means that it’s now possible to play modern games at 4K resolution inside a Windows Virtual Machine, while performing tasks on your linux host.

Whoa whoa whoa, hold up, what’s the catch?

Well, this setup is relatively new, and requires a great deal of effort to get working. For me it took around 4 days to get it at the performance level that I would come to expect from the hardware inside the Virtual machine. Additionally, you also need to have some pretty decent hardware to pull it off. Video games like to run on 4 cores, so your average quad-core processor isn’t going to cut it.

Personally, I have an Intel 5960X so I just set up 4 cores on the Windows VM (no hyperthreading) and 4 cores (with hyperthreading) on the Linux Host. Now these resources are isolated, as with the graphics cards and the RAM, the Host cannot access those cores, RAM or the GPU that the VM uses and vice-versa. A Ryzen 8-core should do the same job just as well.

You need two graphics cards, either by having 2 dedicated cards (like my setup) or by using an inbuilt card like the built-in ones on Intel CPUs.

Likely you will have to use an Arch based distribution, which adds to the complexity of setup, but they have great documentation and an incredible wiki. The key is just not giving up when things break; it’s almost always possible to get out of a bad situation.

But what is the point of all this “Linux” business anyway?

Well, that’s a complicated question to answer. There’s a lot of reasons why people choose to use Linux, but the most popular reasons are as follows:

  • Freedom – Linux offers total freedom to the user when it comes to setting up their Operating System, most of the software is open sourced and GPL licensed.
  • Security – Linux desktops are not targets for malware, it’s also more difficult for malware to cause damage to a machine. Malware written for windows (which encompasses the vast majority of malware) will have zero effect on a Linux machine.
  • Power – The terminal interface for Linux machines is exceptionally powerful along with a large list of written command line tools. Software written for Linux can often have better performance than running on Windows.
  • Package Management – Linux distributions typically come with package managers, which take care of the entire process of locating packages, installing them and updating them. Under Windows, each individual application has to manage either updating itself (resulting in each application needing its own updater program) or the user has to update it manually. On Linux, all software can be updated with a single command.
  • No ads or tracking – Windows has come under a lot of flak lately for presenting adverts in the software that comes with the expensive operating system as well as on the lock screen. There is also extreme controversy over the forced telemetry, where Windows refuses to allow you to disable your data being sent to Microsoft under the label of “Debugging purposes”. In this way, Windows has more similarities to malware than anything else and we shouldn’t have to put up with it.

I do it for all the reasons listed above, and also to make a statement that it’s completely possible to get Microsoft’s software out of being your host operating system. When Windows runs now, it does so when I tell it to, and when I need to use it. I don’t perform any action that requires security on the Windows side, and I have started to migrate to free open source software on the right side. It’s a matter of switching out expensive, proprietary software like:

  • Adobe Photoshop – This can be replaced with the GIMP, which has lots of released plugins that can make it work on par with photoshop. Recently it has received GPU acceleration and is soon going to incorporate enhancement layers in an upcoming version. Howeever, the painting features of Photoshop are better handled by Krita.
  • Adobe Illustrator – Use Inkscape! It’ll do the job just fine.
  • Adobe InDesign – Scribus has got you there.
  • Adobe After Effects – This one isn’t so simple, you can use Natron to perform compositing work and Kdenlive to do traditional video editing, but the workflow is different compared to After Effects. The results that people have achieved with Natron however are visually stunning.
  • Microsoft Office – Replace directly with LibreOffice, job done. A little setup needed for the dictionary support but once that is completed you no longer need to be bound by an Office 365 subscription.
  • Sublime Text 3 – Now I bought this software, and I am very grateful to it, but I’ve been migrating to Emacs as of late, specifically Spacemacs and I feel that it’s just a far more powerful editor.
  • 3DS Max – Blender. It’s really not as terrifyingly difficult to learn as it was 10 years ago and it works exceptionally as an industry-quality tool.
  • Fruity Loops – They operate differently, but Ardour and LMMS are fully featured DAWs that will get the job done.

Why don’t you try it out? With the recent “Software as a Service” business model used by many of the above tools you could be saving money every month by switching to free, open source software for your workflow.

 

The price of a linux desktop is time. Are you willing to pay that price in return for your freedom?