Wednesday 25 August 2010

Racketeer--I mean Recettear

I downloaded a demo for an indie Japanese game called Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale a few days ago. I just had to blog about it, I so loved the premise.

You are a young girl named Recette. Your father has run off somewhere, and has left you with a huge debt you have no means to repay. So what can you do? Turn your house into an item shop! You know, one of those ones that are everywhere in jrpgs. It's bound to be lucrative, what with hordes of adventurers rushing into danger all the time. Together with your fairy debt collector, you work to rack up enough profit to pay back your father's debt on time. Miss a payment and you might find your house foreclosed upon and end up having to live in a cardboard box!

There are two parts to the game, one half revolves around buying and selling items (at a profit of course, the more profit the better!) to various townsfolk and adventurers

The other bit involves hiring some adventurers to go dungeon crawling together with to find more awesome items to sell at an awesomer profit. The more you progress through the game, the more options you unlock.

Finally! A game that appeals to my money hoarding instincts! I've always enjoyed racking up $$$ in jrpgs, there's something so satisfying about seeing those numbers go up and up. It's also interesting to play a game from the perspective of an item shopkeeper, a persona that essentially not even a background character in most games, but a kind of game prop.

As much as I love the premise, I find the main character's personality immensely tiresome. I also don't like the tutorials, they assume you don't have a working brain. The good thing about all this is that you can press the escape button to skip tutorials and entire in-game events. Yay!

Monday 23 August 2010

Oyumaru review and lousy toaster ovens

Here's the Oyumaru write up that was supposed to be here two weeks ago ^^;;

Oyumaru is a cheap, reusable molding material from Japan. (Now that Ai Li's said it, the sticks remind me of agar-agar and I wanna chew on them...) I bought a 7 stick pack for USD3.50 from ebay seller hinodewashi. Each stick is roughly 1.5cm wide and 6cm long.


I decided to start out using the orange stick because I don't like orange and thus wouldn't feel as bad about using one of those cute, chewy looking sticks :p. The Oyumaru feels a bit rubbery and is somewhat flexible.


I wanted to make a cupcake mold, so I used the end of this pen.


To become pliable, the Oyumaru needs to be placed in boiling water, so into the pot! It's recommended in the instructions that it sits in a temperature of 80 degrees celsius for 3 mins.The material went soft fairly quickly and I pulled it out with a pair of skewers.


As you can see, it's really soft and malleable in this picture. The material itself is not at all hot out of the boiling water, just warm. Be sure to shake off all the water from the piece though, THAT is hot. I didn't and burned my fingers :( The material goes stiff quickly out of water, so you have to work fast.


Making a mold of the pen end. Don't mind the homemade pop stick tools :P I just wanted my mold to be more even is all.


Ta-dah! A nice shiny new cupcake mold! Wait, there's something weird in the middle. Pif, I forgot to plug up that hole in the pen. Since Oyumaru is reusable, the material did not go to waste. I simply threw it back into the hot water again and repeated the process.


Here are some finished molds. The molds are not very flexible, but if you dust some talc powder or cornstarch into it, you clay should pop out all right. There might be some distortion during the process though.

I've not tried this material with resin but I will when I gather up enough courage to stop putting it off :/

Despite its limitations, Oyumaru seems like an okay molding material. It works if you're too poor or cheap (like me) to buy silicone and are willing to work around its limitations. I do like that I can reuse it if I made mistakes but the biggest downside for me is that baking with it is probably unadvisable, considering it turns all gooey and soft in hot water... I might try a workaround by boiling smaller clay pieces in it till they're hard enough to pop out of the mold without distortion and then baking them.

I'll definitely give silicone a go one day when I have more money :P


Toaster oven rant:

I've found out that my toaster oven is a lousy piece of crap. I put my shiny new oven thermometer in it and it shows me that my oven likes to heat up and up and continue heating up. I even turned the toaster oven dial to like 50 degrees, but the temperature kept rising after it hit the 50 degree mark. I turned off the oven after the temperature hit 140. Well, this explains why I burn my stuff and why people talk about baking things like those cookies I made earlier for 20 mins or so, where my test cookies burned after I left them in for more than 50 SECONDS.

I've also found out after doing some research that if the temperature is too high, the outside cooks faster than the inside, and may even burn while the clay inside remains raw. This can cause the plasticizers from the raw clay to eventually leech into the outer clay layer and cause it to break down eventually. Also I've noticed that lemon canes cooked in that higher heat tended to be more brittle than ones baked at the right temperatures.

Since I don't want to spend money to get another oven at the moment, I've been sitting in front of the oven and turning the oven off when the thermometer hits 140 degrees and turning it on again when it falls to 130.

Anyway, enough oven rants. I'll be posting up photos of my Totoro cream puffs soon, hopefully tomorrow. I've been trying to get a decent picture of them for days >_<

Friday 6 August 2010

New stuff!


I received my nice shiny new PME 42C icing tip in the mail a few days ago. I also bought a couple of others, the teeny round tip in Adelaide and the bigger star tip at a newsagent's. (Of all the things to sell at what is essentially a stationery/book/magazine shop...)

Texture paste experiements

I experimented with the tips and acrylic texture paste a few nights ago and I'm pleased with the tips. They make such pretty patterns! I'm less impressed by my piping skills though. I definitely need more practice. What I wasn't prepared for when using the tips was the absolute mess the texture paste made. I had to use my finger to squeeze out the paste from the piping tips, and if I didn't put enough paste in, nothing would come out, but if I put more, the paste would come out of the top of the tips as well as the bottom when I applied pressure :/ I wish there was some way I could pipe the paste using the tips and a syringe, I find it easier to control the amount of pressure using a syringe, and it'd probably be less messy too...


I also got some new crafting supplies. I'd been looking for a cheap source of microbeads in online, but haven't really found any that satisfied me. On the way back from Adelaide, I found a $3 bag of mixed beads in Go-lo, which is a kind of dollar shop franchise. The smallest beads are about 1mm, yay! No idea if they're glass or plastic though...

I found the stars in another dollar store franchise,and the teeny little stars are about 2mm across. They're like glitter, they stick to everything!

The stuff on the right is fake sugar and fake ice from etsy seller, MiniatureSweet. I figure the sugar would look just about right if I tried to make those yummy danish butter cookies *drools*


Also from MiniatureSweet, I got a bunch of plates, glasses, cutlery and paper doilies. The fruit canes were free gifts. They are all too big for 1:12 scale, and the glasses and bowls are too big even for 1:6. Well, that'll teach me for looking at the sale description and going "That's about right!" without checking the sizes on a ruler.


I got some Oyumaru molding material. I bought it because it looked like it could be a cheaper alternative to silicone. It's a Japanese reusable mold making material, and I'll do a write up about it once I have a chance to try it out. Hopefully within these few days. I also got a cute cupcake eraser as a free gift from the seller :D


And I finally ordered an oven thermometer online after searching all over town for one without success. And wouldn't you know it, the day the thermometer arrives, I find another, smaller one in the local kitchen shop. I'm sure it wasn't there the last few times I checked!