Thursday, September 24, 2009

I'm 21, what's there to say?

So I've just hit 21. It's hard to believe it's been a year since I was last on my blog typing something up about turning 20. Looking back at that post it's like, "Whoa, if only that guy could have predicted the following year". As you can see by my previous post, it was QUITE a busy one. So what's happened since that post? Lots actually. Keep reading if you care...

So I had 3 weeks left before school started didn't I? I spent that time working at the video store and *planning* to work on my portfolio and resume. Needless to say I didn't get that done. Well, I got the resume done, but not until last week. Spent much of my time in Richmond with one of those friends I mentioned before and saw a few movies. I went to Playland finally for the first time in at least 8 wasn't as big as I remember it, and the lines weren't as long as I remember them being. In fact, I didn't wait more than 10 minutes anywhere.

--Oh good gosh my phone is yelling at me with all the Facebook notifications for birthday wishes--

And yeah, school's started. What a BUSY start. I anticipated the design courses taking a toll on me so I'm not too overwhelmed... Of the two design courses I'm taking, only one of them is really keeping me busy. The last project combined with the flu wasn't the greatest week of my life so now I'm left with a cold on my birthday (thankfully not as bad as it could be). But really, the best part about school starting up again has been connecting with my friends again. Some of us are still together, some of us are elsewhere...but still, the media reserves room in the library is still our "commons" area.

I hope this happiness lasts. Here's to my 21st birthday.

PS: Sorry if it seems I've abandoned any sort of *related* news on my blog (figures and otaku stuff). I'm still on that scene...I've still got orders coming in monthly...I just can't find time to post about them.

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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Song Creation Guide

With the release of Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA in Japan this week, a good deal of fans either have their UMDs or are still waiting for them to arrive. The lucky people currently playing the game are probably wondering about one of key features that will keep this game alive in communities for likely years to come: creating custom note-tracks for songs.

Those of you interested in my updated review (and an explanation of the mechanics) of the game, see this post here.

Before I get to explaining how the custom songs work, let me share a few examples with you. There are many other good songs available at the Project DIVA Wiki, but I figured I'd make it convenient for some of you who are looking for some of the hot titles I've listed below. The authors of each of these note-tracks are credited in the files:

Black Rock Shooter
Meltdown (Original)
Double Lariat
Luka Luka Night Fever
Clover Club
Rainbow Girl
Konbini (コンビニ)
Poppippo (ぽっぴっぽー)
Mobile Sensation (モバイリ:センセーション)

Cagayaki GIRLS! (K-ON! OP) (Hard)
Don't Say Lazy (K-ON! ED)
Don't Say Lazy (Very Hard)
Super Driver (Haruhi Suzumiya OP 2)

NOTE: Treat each of these as a PSP save file. It is important to note as well that you cannot rename them. You can, however, open them in the editor and re-save them to different 'slots'. Project DIVA has alotted 90 slots (00-89) for custom songs. You must also have MP3s of each of the songs listed above. Another cool feature to note as that different versions of the same song will work for most note-tracks. You can essentially play the same song by whichever Vocaloid you choose using the same note-track. Vocaloid songs can be obtained most commonly from here: NicoSound. You will need the URL of a song's Nico Nico Douga video.

Navigating the menu:

This is the option you'll want from the main menu:

Selecting it will take you here:

From there you'll have a few options. The function of each is as follows:
-Create a note-track.
-Edit a note-track.
-Play a saved note-track.
-Watch the PV of a note track.
-Quick-Play PV (Goes through all the options to create a PV quickly)

Playing User Songs:

I'll get to the create screen momentarily. Since the other options work in virtually the same way, I'll explain those first. When choosing to play a saved note-track, first you'll have to choose it from your memory stick (these are placed in MS0:/PSP/SAVEDATA), then you'll have to choose a song to link to the note-track. You'll be presented with a list of songs on the UMD at first, but pressing R will allow you to browse your memory stick for songs.

If you want to play other people's shared note-tracks, you might have to do some shuffling around of the save files. Since you can't rename the save files, there might be conflicts. For example, you can't have two save files in the slot designated for "ULJM05472EDIT00". What needs to be done is open the song up in the Edit Song menu, press Start, and choose the first option (on the next screen as well) to re-save the song to an empty slot. This fixes save file naming conflicts.

The Creation Screen:

This is what the creation screen looks like:

The interface is arranged in columns and rows. The columns are bars to the song, these are the rows:
1. Changing the BPM and setting the notes. The bars at the bottom represent the standard beat of 4/4 (Which can be changed to 3/4, 2/4).
2. Setting the path of the notes. Selecting the screen lets you place them in pre-set orders using left/right, pressing circle lets you set each note's placement individually.
3. PV Options, shown below:

The above nodes work as follows:
-Character Visibility (On or off)
-Facial Expressions
-Dance Moves
-Environment (Change the map here)
-Camera Options (Time, Angle, Pan, Rotation, Play)

Editing Songs:

If you press Start on the creation screen (explained above) you'll be presented with this menu (split into two images):

This is for editing your own songs, editing other people's note-tracks for the reason of re-saving them to a different slot, or editing the start time of the song to work with your MP3 (which is very valuable since people will likely be using different MP3s). My translations are as follows:

-Save (Save, Delete, Title, Author)
-Change Song
-Change Costume
-Change Environment
-Change Dance
-Change Beat Sound (Default is tambourine)
-Real-Time Recording (Lets you tap the notes in real-time)
-Note-Path Editing
-Starting Time of the Song (VERY valuable to know this in case your MP3 is off)
-Quit to Previous Screen
-Quit to Main Menu

I really hope this was all a help. I'll be updating my blog later this week when my own UMD with the Nendoroid actually arrives!

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Review

Last Updated: July 4, 2009 @ 7:00 PM

I've had the honour today of obtaining the much-anticipated VOCALOID PSP game, 初音ミク-Project DIVA-. I've purchased the limited edition which comes with a special Nendoroid Petit (but it does not actually ship out until July 2nd). Therefore, I've had to rely on other means of obtaining the game in the meantime.

Confirmed running on a PSP-1000 with 5.00 M33-4 or above using Sony NP9660 UMD driver.

Note: Will run laggy on TA-86 motherboards, but not TA-82.

It has come to my attention that the game is now shipped out to retailers and is selling in certain circles (such as in Hong Kong). I know my UMD has shipped out it's just a matter of waiting patiently for it to arrive.


Let me explain a bit how the game works. There are 39 songs and only 3 of them are playable from the start. Since only "Easy" and "Normal" modes are available for a song until it is beaten, I found the game to be somewhat repetitive since the only buttons you'll be pressing in those modes are circle or cross. It isn't until a "Hard"-leveled song when you'll be pressing triangle and square as well. Songs are rated in difficulty by a 1 to 5 star rating with 5 being the hardest (However there are two songs which have hard modes ranking 6 and 7 stars).

The scoring system in Project Diva can be somewhat harsh at times. The high scores are obtained by getting a full combo throughout the "Chance Time" which occurs normally near the end of a song. The combo will be broken if you miss a note or press it just a split second too quickly. The later you can press it the more likely you'll get a "Cool!" score as opposed to a "Fine" or "Safe". Missing notes will get you a "Sad" or "Worst". Finishing a song will get you 1 of 4 rankings: Cheap, Standard, Great, or Perfect. If you fail to clear the song you'll get a MissXTake rank and Miku will "OTL".


Being a fan of the 8-button DJ Max Portable series, once the level of difficulty is pumped-up in Project DIVA, I've found the game to be quite a blast. Graphically the game is very pretty and Miku is adorable. The faces she makes while singing and the movements are so...uh..."moe". They really took the time to make a decent model of her (and I'm looking forward to unlocking more costumes which are unlocked by meeting certain performance conditions while playing). Also, the environments seem to be unique to each song so far and I find that to be quite appealing; it keeps the game entirely fresh.

Navigating the Game:

Needless to say, I do not speak Japanese, but it has been easy enough to navigate through the menus of the game. I'll list in order my 'translation' of what the menu looks like:

Free Play - Choose from the song library a song to play.
Module Convert - Lets you choose a character and costume skin. Presented below are some screen shots of some costumes I've unlocked so far. In this menu, conditions are listed that need to be met to unlock a costume. It's important to note that you need to AT LEAST meet them, not simply meet them exactly. For example, if you have to play a song 5 times on "normal", you can play it 5 times on "hard" instead and have it still count.
Miku's Room - Your character is in a room interacting with the environment. You can change the music, the overall skin of the room, and shuffle some minor furniture items around. Pressing R lets you take a screen shot to the memory stick (which you can see I've already done).
Custom Songs - Import songs from your memory stick and make note-tracks for them. You're also able to play other people's note-tracks loaded from the memory stick. I see this being a feature which will keep the game alive in fan communities for years to come. UPDATE: I've created a guide on how to do this.
Save - Obviously creates or deletes save files.
Options - Adjust the music and sound volumes.
Extras - Character artwork and etc...
Exit - Exits to the start menu.

(all screen shots were taken in-game using Custom Firmware Extender and the built-in screen shot mode of Miku's Room)

It's all fairly straight-forward even if you're not familiar with Japanese. The only thing that I'd say you'd need a tutorial to do is the song creation. It just so happens that as of my last update, I've done just that. View my guide here.

Song List:

I have a total of 525 VOCALOID songs in my personal library but only about half of the songs in Project DIVA are familiar to me so far (and the ones that are not I have grown to like already). The only slight annoyance I've found is that most songs have a tambourine sound accompanied with each button press which can distract from the song itself. Thankfully the noise can be turned off before the song starts (there's a left/right-selectable option in the bottom-left of the screen). Here's the complete song listing (from Moetron):

“World is Mine” by ryo
“Koi wa Sensou” by ryo
“Hinekure Mono” by ryo
“MELT” by ryo
“Sono Ibbyou” Slow Motion by ryo
“Marginal” by OSTER project
“Miracle Paint” by OSTER project
“Koi suru VOC@LOID” by OSTER project
“Dreaming Leaf – Yumemiru Kotonoha” by OSTER project
“Fukigen Waltz” by OSTER project
“Amenochi sweet drops” by OSTER project
“Strabo Nights” by kz
“Packaged” by kz
“Last Night, Good Night” by kz
“Far Away” by kz
“Star Story” by kz
“Kouya to Mori to Mahou no Uta” by Travolta-P
“Kouya to Mori to Mahou no Uta” (Rin ver.) by Travolta-P
“Kouya to Mori to Mahou no Uta” (Len ver.) by Travolta-P
“Inochi no Uta” by Travolta-P
“Inochi no Uta” (Rin ver.) by Travolta-P
“Inochi no Uta” (Len ver.) by Travolta-P
“The secret garden” by Hata Aki and Kousaki Satoru
“Loveliest Koushinchuu?” by Hata Aki and Kousaki Satoru
“Biroudou Arabesque” by Hata Aki and Kousaki Satoru
“Dear cocoa girl” by Hata Aki and Kousaki Satoru
“Hatsune Miku no Shoushitsu -DEAD END-” by cosMo@BousouP
“Sakura no Ame” by absorb
“IevanPolkka” by Otomania
“Miku Miku ni shite ageru♪ [Shiteyan yo]” by ika
“Anata no Utahime” by azuma
“Miku Miku-kin ni Gochuui♪ by Hayaya
“Hato” by Hatano-P
“Electric Angel” by Yasuo
“moon” by iroha (sasaki)
“Kogane no Seiya Sousetsu ni Kuchite” by Deadball-P
“starise” by Yodare-P
“Love it” -Radio Edit- by CleanTears
“Kikoete Imasuka…” by G@POPO
“Shooting Star Prologue” (Short Edition) by Sososo-P
“Setsuna” by shiki2
“Yuugure Nostalgic” -remix- by Guri@guriplus
“Oshiete!! Mahou no Lyric” (short version) by TakeponG@Chomu-P

I'm quite looking forward to some of the other surprises I know I have waiting for me. Maybe some hidden songs? Maybe some costumes we've never seen before? Whatever it may be I'm rather excited.

I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of the UMD. Currently I'm only able to play the first half of the song list as the second half lags to the point of being unplayable.

I've a few more screenshots to share to finish this off:

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Anime Evolution 2009 Convention Report

This year was the first year Anime Evolution has taken place in the Vancouver Convention Center. It's a brand-spankin'-new building able to accommodate the mass that is AE (with room to spare, plenty of it). The VCC was a great place to hold AE, however the only drawback I see is that I have to say I will actually miss Simon Fraser University. It felt more like "home" for this convention and the vast outdoor space with grass to sit on was always always advantageous.

** Photo credits go to Billy Cheng, Dan Wu, and Chun('s husband).

My Cosplays:

Snow Villiers - Final Fantasy XIII
(please notice my friend Stephanie creeping in the background)

Ike - Super Smash Brothers Brawl (Fire Emblem)

KAITO - Vocaloid

I debuted two new cosplays this year, Ike from SSBB, and Snow Villiers from FFXIII (and brought back Vocaloid KAITO as well). Last year was the first time I did KAITO and I ended up having a great time at the meet-up photoshoot meeting all sorts of new people. This year, not so much. I can't say I didn't have a great time this year because I did, but for a totally different reason than last year. This year I felt closer to my SIAT (school) friends than ever. It's more like finding a place I belong? I've seen too clearly where I don't belong over this last year.

For the first time in 5 years, I actually participated in the cosplay contest. With my Super Smash Bros. Brawl group, we did a skit. Hilda's (Marth's) sister, Florence, taped us so video credit goes to her. We didn't win, but I had lots of fun anyways. The group that DID win I am amazed with. It was the Kamloops crew that comes down every year who won with their Chrono Trigger skit. At the end of it, the Crono proposed to his girlfriend of 4 years (Marle). It was probably the most touching thing I'd seen since the first ten minutes of Pixar's "Up". Please watch their video here, and watch ours below:

Embedded video. If it doesn't work, go here.

I ran into a total of three Danny members while I was there. Chun, LightningSabre, and Akari. Akari I found out I had met after the fact because he was so shy in asking who I was that I misunderstood what he was asking me, but Chun and LightningSabre I found together in the Art Gallery. They were like, "lulz cleartranquil" and I'm liek "lulz chun! wow lightningsabre too~!".

Yeah something like that.

Well, anyways. It was good meeting them in person. I even got to pose with one of Chun's little dollies.

Please continue reading for pictures of the fun I had. There's no shortage of photos from the convention itself floating around the internet and Facebook if you want to see what else went on. As of now, this group has 6500+ photos.

Continue for more:

VOCALOIDs goofing around:

There were quite a few VOCALOIDs this year. About as many as last year, I suppose, but with more variety. Last year I was the only male VOCALOID cosplayer, this year I had Johnny as Akaito. He's the spice that melts my ice cream (Yes, it's meant to sound suggestive). I was very impressed to see a Honne Dell and Yowane Haku show up this year (and I knew the Dell!). It was also great to see a couple of girls do Meiko and Neru as well.

Ike fights for his friends:

Remember, it's not gay if the tips don't touch. Here's Hilda, Joanna, and myself as Marth, Roy, and Ike (respectively). We had fun taking some photos together (even managed a Brawl shoot that day) before we did the skit.

Snow and company:

This is pretty much how my Sunday was: Just hanging out with my school friends in my Snow cosplay. I posed with Rifa, the awesome Zidane (with an even more awesome Freya 2 years prior), and an awesome Yoko cosplayer. My friends Andrew and Nathan went as gender-bent Haruhi Suzumiya and Nagato Yuki. They were recognized surprisingly. Stephanie, when she's not photo-bombing my pictures (see above), was Lenne (FFX-2) most of the time but also below is her lolita fashion cosplay. Ain't she cute?

I leave you with this, Billy as Abe-san. Nice guy with a guitar.


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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My Room is an Otaku Museum Part 3

Half a year later, I bring you all my 3rd revision to "My Room is an Otaku Museum" where once again my room has undergone reorganization to accommodate such a large collection. I returned from Japan 2 weeks ago with more stuff than ever and didn't have the space in my now-6-month-old glass cabinet for any of it.

Click here to see the loot.

For those of you unfamiliar with my older posts:
My Room is an Otaku Museum Part 1 (May 5, 2008 - One year ago!)
My Room is an Otaku Museum Part 2 (Oct. 6, 2008)

The top picture is the new bookcase and dresser unit I bought from IKEA. It's a dresser, a small bookcase, and a tall book case. I planned this arrangement out myself and made sure I got glass doors to go along with it. The glass is VITAL for my collection as my room collects more dust than is naturally possible. Since the installation of my first glass cabinet (seen in the bottom picture) I haven't had to dust anything in that cabinet. It makes all the difference.

If there are any questions, I'll address them in the comments section of this post. It's doubtful at the moment I'll be doing another one of these half a year from now as I don't have very much I plan on ordering. Maybe in a year though you'll see part 4.

I'd also like to extend a "thank you" to our beloved Danny Choo for recognizing my efforts to make myself poor by posting my loot over at his site. It's really helped me gain a lot of visitors.

See below for more detailed shots:

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Reminiscence of Japan

I'm back from Japan as you may or may not have noticed. I've actually been back almost 2 weeks but have failed to find the time and motivation to write a blog post about my trip. For those of you stumbling upon this, these are my previous blog posts regarding my trip:

Tokyo Arrival
Akihabara 2-Day Extravaganza (Including loot photos)
Ghibli Museum Outing
School Girls Meet the Gaijin (Girls finding out I'm a VOCALOID cosplayer)
To Kyoto and Back Again (Tourism and a trip to the Pokémon Center)
Washinomiya - Lucky Star Town
Kaito Explores Tokyo (Cosplaying in public!)
Kaito Explores Tokyo Part II (More Akihabara again)

See below for my reminiscence and photos of the best vacation ever:

Arcades were always fun for us. We went to one I'd say 2/3 of the nights we were in Japan. From the arcades by our hostel in Asakusa all the way to the big multi-floor game centers of Shibuya. I played beat games like Taiko and Beatmania of course...

I enjoyed being a's me in Kyoto at Kiyomizu-dera temple.

Don't fall down. That's the floor of the Tokyo Tower observatory.

Food was consistently good. In this place we got to choose 5 varieties of meat/veggies on a stick and put it on hot coals ourselves. Other popular selections of food included ramen, Mos Burger, curry katsu, and more ramen...
Oh, don't forget we had Denny's about 5 times for breakfast. Japanese Denny's is simply amazing in my opinion.

One of the best parts - actually THE best part - would have to be dressing up as VOCALOID Kaito and running around Akihabara. Meeting all sorts of people who either knew who I was or found me interesting anyways. I found out that I'm more of an attention whore than I thought I could be: waving to random people I saw looking at me, stopping for photos with anyone who asked. Still, it was great.

Vending machines of all sorts of drinks...I'd say one of my favourite things about this country is that, by my estimation, there is about 50 vending machines per square kilometer in some places. This one was selling TouHou-themed tea in a can~

More TouHou stuff. None of it was for sale...they just like to tease us. TouHou has become more popular than it was when I was there last year, and anything TouHou-related is instantly extremely pricey or not for sale (but on display for some reason).

This is our 2-Day loot picture. After 2 days in Akihabara this is how much stuff there was between *mostly* Tyson and myself. There are a few books and stickers in this that belonged to Jon and Billy.

What kind of otaku would I be if I didn't visit otaku locations? Above can be seen Washinomiya Shrine (of Lucky Star fame), the Ghibli Museum, and the Pokémon Center~

I take some amount of satisfaction in the fact that when the biggest wooden structure in the world starts losing tiles, they'll be replacing them with what you see above. I drew the Konata and the "shoop-da-whoop".

Finally, I don't know how I did it, but this is my loot picture. I came home with THIS much stuff. $300 or so for friends, but most of the boxes there are for me...and are now on display. I spend this week assembling stuff from Ikea and organizing my room. I'll be posting about that tomorrow. So until then...

I had a fabulous trip. In fact, I wish I could still be there now. But boy Japan is expensive. Maybe I'll go back next year and do it all again. Did I mention that this is my third year doing it...and staying in the same area of Tokyo too?

This blog was actually founded a year ago for my last Japan trip. See my April 2008 posts for coverage of that escapade: April 2008 Archive

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