Saturday, July 29, 2017

Rubick Cosplay - Part 2: Breaking it down

My first step was to break it down into items that I could use to make the costume. In the end, I narrowed it down to these items for the outfit itself. I'm punting on the staff for now, to make sure I have time for the outfit.

  • Cloak with hood
  • Shapeable wire for hood and cape
  • Fabric
    • Black for face hood
    • Forest green for short undercoat 1
    • Purplish-black for med undercoat 2 (blk ok)
    • Purplish-black for long undercoat 3 (blk ok)
    • Purplish-black for cape (2pcs) (blk ok)
  • See-through fabric for green eyes
  • Brownish-black wrap for feet
  • Fabric paints
    • Green for patches/eyes
    • Brown/gold for undercoat trim
    • Dk purple spray for cape
  • Craft foam
  • Craft foam paint - plasti dip?
    • Gold
    • Black
  • Body paint
    • Brown for feet
    • Black for toes
    • Green & dk green for hands
  • Compression shirt/pants
  • Contact lenses...TBD

  • PVC pipe
  • Paint
    • Black
    • Dusty blue-gray
    • White
  • Green tissue paper
  • Craft foam for top?

Finding the right cloak was first. There's really nothing out there that I saw that could really match the style Rubik wears in the dota set that I wanted to build. So I went with the closest I could find, which was this. It's polysester and has the feel of a graduation gown, so it's not great. But it will have to do for this project. After that, it was a trip to the store. Getting anything done is quite the challenge, though, and the culprit is one of the items in this picture:

With all the items purchased, time to start getting the vision for what this would look like. The cloak is GIGANTIC (80 inches around), so that would never do for Rubick. So I'm going to have to pull it in tight. Also going to have to pull it up to my waist, since that's what the set I'm building has. I pinned it up, and started getting an idea of where I'd need to make a cutout.

After that, I realized I needed to get started on painting the shoulderpiece sooner than later, so I started drawing the pattern on the foam and cutting it down.

For the design, I drew it on paper on top of the foam, and then outlined it on the foam. Here's the final template outline.

That was finished last night. Today I've been cutting it out and painting. More on that later...

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Rubick cosplay for TI7 - Part 1

So I'm planning my first ever cosplay. I'm thinking of some combination of the below. 

Kuroky's Rubick set + eul's scepter. The nice thing about this set is that it's pretty simple. Primarily layered cloaks with some designed shoulders and colored patches. I love this staff over the others, even though it's not the most iconic item for rubick.

Default Kuroky set

Stargazer's Curiosity outfit (not the staff). I really love this set, but it's pretty complex. Probably better to save this for the future...

My first step will be to dissect the costume into individual pieces, and find out what to buy.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


The Phlognosticator's mmph charge might be slightly OP -- you can refill your HP, take almost no damage, and get a crit boost in the middle of a this server log from a single mmph charge indicates:
Commander Schwegs 2,500 hrs TF2 killed ScarrJaw with phlogistinator. (crit)
scarybirdman killed inkheart#1fan with degreaser.
Commander Schwegs 2,500 hrs TF2 killed happykiller2727[GMC] with phlogistinator. (crit)
anarchy RULE killed Nuke4Brainz with bushwacka.
Commander Schwegs 2,500 hrs TF2 killed scarybirdman with phlogistinator. (crit)
Commander Schwegs 2,500 hrs TF2 killed Set My Bullets Free with phlogistinator. (crit)
Commander Schwegs 2,500 hrs TF2 killed {GbK}FenFen( . )JP( . ) with phlogistinator. (crit)
Commander Schwegs 2,500 hrs TF2 killed Catfish with phlogistinator. (crit)
Commander Schwegs 2,500 hrs TF2 killed Lostways with phlogistinator. (crit)
But goodness gracious is it fun! :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Avoiding Flame Wars 101

There's quite a few flame wars on the web, and it seems they occur just as frequently on TF2 forums. Unfortunately, when touching on sensitive subjects, they're seemingly hard to avoid. However, the good news is that there's some things you can do to help avoid them. :)

I just recently ran across a post that went something like this:
Title: X, again.
I know a lot of you heavily back group X, and I'm all for the idea, however a recent event involving Y has really made me on fence about them, again. I was at peace about them for a while. To put it short, X is banning everyone from Y...I know that what Y did was wrong, but banning them? That's 100% inappropriate. Its been quite apparent, to me at least, for months now that X is tad bit power crazed. I think it would be wise to request a reform of X in order to avoid more events like this, scandals have been happening left and right, this is undeniable. Just want to hear some input from you guys.
Unfortunately, this degenerated quickly as people who support group X quickly took offense and others rolled their eyes. Equally unfortunate, the intention of the author in this case was actually to obtain input, but that was quickly passed over in favor of the debate over the validity of group X.

I talked with the author later on about this, and his response was something to the effect of "But everything I said was accurate!". Well, that may have been true, and his facts may have been 100% accurate. However, that doesn't mean listing all facts, or certain facts, or even some facts in a certain way, is the best approach to create an atmosphere conducive to avoiding a "ME vs YOU" situation or flame war.

What's the point? If you want to avoid a flame war, be supportive and brief.
  1. Start with and genuinely emphasize that you're on the same team as the reader
  2. Avoid subtle jabs and sarcasm ("a tiny bit power crazed", etc)
  3. Avoid extremes ("100% inappropriate", "happening left and right", "undeniable", etc). 
  4. Be brief (even so far as not listing the details or long links in-line where possible, because the physical amount of text required makes it feel large and/or complex)
For example, let's consider the following:
The Democratic Party is wrong. I think we should all vote for the Green Party.
While the statement could be factually true, anyone in your audience who thinks the Democratic Party is right will default to being in a disagreeing mood with anything you write following that (and conversely, the other half of the people will think you are brilliant). This is called a polarizing effect.

Now consider the following:
The the world needs more hugs. I think we should all vote for the Green Party.
That may be equally factually true, but because you start with something the reader agrees with, you are far more likely to get them to support the Green Party -- simply because they will default to agreeing with you (or at least, not think that your opinions are probably wrong).

Here's what I would have suggested the author of our original post write:
Title: Question about X and Y
I know we pride ourselves on making good decisions here, and we all hate to tarnish reputations if at all possible. So I was wondering if you guys felt X's action regarding Y was appropriate or not, and why. Here's some links (1, 2, 3). Personally, I'm leaning toward thinking it's unfair for reason A, B, and C. What are your thoughts?
Do you have any additional suggestions on how to avoid flame wars? Feel free to post a comment!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

TF2 Trading #3 Price Check!

Where would you guess the majority of my time is spent? Banning forum trolls? Negatory. Calling down fire and brimstone on scammers? Nope. Actually doing some buying/selling of my own? Not even close, son!

The answer is what's called a price check. That's when someone asks you how much their Ghastly Gibus is worth, and you have the sad fortune of informing them they won't be able to sell it for a Burning Flames Kabuto.

Well, fine sirs (and ladies), I am here to help you gain confidence in your own value estimation. With some practice, you can happily know the value of your items, and I can happily get back to calling down more fire and brimstone.

In my last post I talked about how supply and demand determines values in TF2 trading. But how do you figure out exactly how much you should trade your item for?

There are a number of sites to give you info, but I find it's best to get a ballpark with simple reasoning, then use those sites to help you nail down your estimate. I will list them here as I go.

Ghastly(ier) Gibus
What we probably know off the top of our head:
  • Supply
    • Seems like everyone has it
    • Easy achievement item in TF2
    • Doesn't cost anything to get
  • Demand
    • Haven't ever heard anyone say they wish they had it
    • A lot of people will trade ~1 refined to for a random hat to craft with another hat with the hope of getting something better, but this can't even be crafted
Estimation based on above info: 1.5 reclaimed (half a refined)

What we could find out with a little work:
  • hat lists -- this is a great resource for seeing commonality of hats -- in this cast, 91% of people own a Gibus of some kind
  • trading site stats -- this is a cool place to see the trending top few hats being bought/sold -- in this case, the gibus is the 4th most common hat people want to sell (i.e. don't want)
  • wishlist search -- this is THE most useful place to find what people are trading items for, and how much people are offering for items -- in this case, there's a number of people trying to sell the gibus for 1 reclaimed, and not many buyers
Final approximated price: 2 scrap to 1 reclaimed

Okay, that was easy. Let's pick a hard one.

Unusual Killer's Kabuto with Burning Flames
What we probably know off the top of our head:
  • Supply
    • It's very rare to see someone with an unusual
    • Unusuals only come from crates
    • There's a 1% chance of getting an unusual in a crate
    • Keys cost $2.50 if I buy them from the store, so unboxing a random unusual would cost $250 on average
    • Not that many people open a lot of crates
  • Demand
    • Everyone I know wishes they had an unusual
    • The Soldier one of the most popular classes
    • The Kabuto is one of the most popular Soldier Hats
    • Burning Flames is one of the most popular effects
Estimation based on above info: $500

What we could find out with a little work:
  • unusual list -- this site isn't exact, but it's pretty nifty for getting a general idea of unusual rarities -- in this case, there are about 15,000 unusual hats, of which 130 are Killer's Kabutos
  • unusual search -- this site is much more accurate when looking to see just how many unusuals with a particular effect there are -- in this case, there are only about 8 burning flames Killer's Kabutos
  • TF2 subforms and -- running searches here are THE most useful places to find what people are trading high-value items for -- in this case, the last burning kabuto sold for around $800 (link for proof)
Final approximated price: $700-900.

The processes I used here to price check these two items are very similar to what I use to price check items when people ask me, or when I need to know for my own trading. From experience, I can know how certain items usually trend, how easy items are to sell for certain prices, etc, but there's no secret sauce. If you follow the above guidelines and use these resources, you'll soon be totally confident in your values.

TF2 Trading #2: What determines prices?

I've had people ask me before "Who sets the item prices?" I usually look confused for a moment, then inform them that no one does. Which usually makes them look equally confused. I'm told my attempts to explain economics generally doesn't improve the situation either.

In reality though, TF2 is no different than the free market in the real world -- supply and demand. Another way to word that would be availability and desirability. But that's a little too simplistic. So what exactly are the factors that make up "supply/availability" and what exactly constitutes "demand/desirability"?

TF2 Supply of <Your Item Here> is influenced by
  • Number of <your item here> in the game
  • Speed at which more <your item here> will come into the game
  • Cost of getting <your item here> outside of trading -- e.g. the Mann Co Store, pre-ordering another game, opening a crate, or some other non-trading venue
  • Likelihood of Robin Walker deciding to celebrate National Aboriginal <Your Item Here> Day and giving everyone <your item here>
  • Likelihood of Robin Walker being in a bad mood and deleting everyone's <your item here>

TF2 Demand of <Your Item Here> is influenced by
  • Number of people who want <your item here>
  • Number of people who already have <your item here>
  • How badly people want <your item here>
  • Likelihood of Robin Walker announcing that <Your Item Here> is [Totally Awesome | Totally Sucks]

Fortunately for us, Robin Walker is pretty passive, so we don't have to worry about him much. Those other factors matter a lot though.

Let's take some examples here using just our brains and the above principles.

Which Is More Valuable: A Crate or a Weapon?
A weapon: Almost no one has keys, so those crates are just taking up space. With the exception of the first day or so that new crates are released, no one wants crates. With a weapon, at least you can smelt it into metal.

Which Is More Valuable: Drably Olive paint or White (abundance of tinge) paint?
White: White looks great on a lot of hats so lots of people want it, whereas olive looks not so good, so rarely anyone uses it.

Which Is More Valuable: Vintage Killer's Kabuto or Non-Vintage Killer's Kabuto?
The vintage kabuto: There's fewer of them, there will never be any more, and people want them because owning vintage makes you look more experienced (or so I've been told).

Which Is More Valuable: Stormy Storm Hustler's Hallmark or Circling Peace Sign Hustler's Hallmark
The Stormy Storm: It's a brand new effect, so there's fewer of them and there's a novelty of owning one of the latest and coolest effects.

Which Is More Valuable $1.50 USD or a Mann Co Crate Key?
The Key: If I was able to sell the key for $2 to someone who wanted to open a crate, I'd be making 50 cents, and he'd be saving 50 cents over buying it from the store.

Just like a real economy, supply/demand really do determine prices in TF2. There really isn't a magic guy sitting behind the scenes making up values after all!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

TF2 Trading #1: Is it worth my time?

Topic #1 in a series on TF2 Trading

To anyone who trades in TF2, this may seem like a silly question, but to a lot of people, it's totally valid.

Some people think the idea of trading is boring, scary, confusing, would take too much time, and/or just don't care enough about getting items in TF2. That's totally valid.

But there's some good reasons why you might want to take the dive too.

First, it would take a really long time to wait for all the items to drop. Each drop is random -- it's just as likely to be an item you already have as an item you don't.

Second, trading with other players is always cheaper than crafting. Let's say you want weapon X, which costs a reclaimed (6 weapons) to craft. Let's say someone else got that as an extra drop. If they can trade that to you for between 2-5 of your weapons, you're both winning.

Third, buying from other players is always cheaper than the Mann Co Store. Far cheaper, in fact. The store prices seem...well, let's just say random. Right now, players buy/sell refined for about $1 each, and will trade, say, an Ol' Snaggletooth for about 2-3 refined. The Snaggle $7.50 in the store, and isn't even tradeable when you buy it. Similar case with Keys -- they are about $2.50 in the store, and players will sell them for about $2.

Fourth, some items are unavailable in the store or via drops. Unusuals and Strange weapons are only available from crates (and are random), vintage and promotional items cannot be purchased, and some colors of paint are only available through random drops.

Finally, you may have some items that are quite valuable in your backpack, that other people would pay quite a bit for (I'll talk about those later).

So the answer is yes! If there's an item you want, or don't need in TF2, it's always worth it to trade it!