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More work on the pixel font. I'm gradually settling on the character set; accented characters are going to be handled separately. So are super/subscripts, circled characters, fractions, and so on. That only leaves a few punctuation marks from the Latin-1 set and then some of the Teletext box-drawing characters, and here's what I've got so far.

Emerald Flame is the name he was given by Scylla when she endowed him with his transformation powers; before that, he was a nameless nature spirit who lived on a island that was pristine and covered in jungle until humans discovered it and started tearing the jungle apart, paving it over in the name of their own greed. He's hated humans ever since and, with the blessing of a goddess of monsters, has a unique way of dealing with them. He refrains from killing or even hurting anyone, but…

More refined version of the font. Making the letters more consistently round-rect-y instead of circular steers it away from the weird grade school look it had and towards a better technical-but-still-friendly appearance. I also adjusted the punctuation some for overlay purposes.

I am sorely tempted to concoct something else called Loadable Icon Mapping Bytes or such just so the system itself has XTRA LIMBs.

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Fictionally, this graphics chip and its associated font are called the XenoTerm Raster Adapter, or "XTRA", and it's pronounced just like you think it would be.

It also feels like a workable size for pixel emoji, but making those will be an entire project all on its own. I'll start with the simple stuff.

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It's far from perfect; there are ugly bits I want to work on. But as a first draft I think it's promising, and I'll be adding more and more characters to it over time. It's 12x24 because that's half-width and I want a full-width 24x24 to be divisible by both 3 and 8 for retrocomputing character set purposes.

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Felt inspired to do another pixel font tonight instead of the usual sketch. This one is 12x24, making it pretty large by my standards, but there's a reason it's that size. I also tried adapting my existing XT-100 code to use it, and even without the special characters it doesn't look half bad.

Em is showing off the statue at the center of the Plaza of Plenty, a rotunda on a platform out over the ocean west of Annex. The mist will duplicate anything dipped into it; there's a basket with a pulley that's usually here (drop in one of anything, pull up two), but that would complicate the view of the statue. The gems on the statue will duplicate body parts when touched - heads, tails, arms, legs, or wings (if you have any in the first place; if you don't, that's somewhere else in town).

It looks like I'll get a story out of this after all, but the new direction for Annex is one that I like enough to show it off and will take enough time to explain that it'll need that much time.

Em isn't who Vesta expected to see in Annex, but it turns out he's enthusiastic about the place and what it can be now that Elseways doesn't need it to be a place for gray-area "maybe too weird" folk. They're all accepted now. So what is Annex?
Em has some ideas - a little shrine with a green fire in it for people to change their own species. Other little spots around town for people to experiment with their own shapes in other ways. "Like what?", asks Vesta.
"Come with me," says Em.

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πŸ’€ (cw for length) 

I was playing a game where you were this abstract gray sphere thing with dot-eyes and trailing tendrils, swimming around an underwater environment and interacting with various larger sea life - whales and octopi and so on. They were rendered much more realistically than anything else, with lush shaded pixel art instead of the more geometric style of the rest.
At some point I had to tell the game my "name", and it let me click on buttons that each had a different hand gesture on them. I didn't think much of that until a short while later. Suddenly I saw the character I was playing - the sphere with tendrils - much larger and rendered like one of the big sea creatures, all softly-shaded pixel art. I could no longer control it, and it seemed to be dormant and slowly decaying. It was dying and the only way I could save it was by "saying its name" β€” which I had to do by making the correct sequence of hand gestures into the camera myself. I couldn't remember the right order because I was just clicking buttons at random when I input its name earlier, so the dream ended in frustration as the sphere-character slipped further and further away.

*looks up the actual date of Chinese New Year this year*

February 1 seems like a good landmark (I won't call it a deadline) for whatever it is Vesta's trying to accomplish.

Still in the mood to draw Vesta, although she's still not in the mood for much yet. I'm not going to do another long storyline about this, but I think she's due for a vacation in Annex, where she doesn't have to worry about anything and she can feel free to find out who she is these days. She's back to how she looked when I first designed her some 24 years ago - four arms, striped logo on her T-shirt, casual jeans - so maybe she's there to figure out where she came from in the first place.

Vesta wishes you all a happy new year, as ambivalent about it as she looks. She spent most of the year lost somewhere and is getting her bearings, but she's going to be around more often, and we'll see if we can get her smiling again. As for myself, 2021 was frustrating for various reasons, but I'm looking forward to stuff improving in 2022 and finally being able to do the stuff I want to again.

Some bonus sketches of Gray and a mousified Vesta who's apparently gotten herself stuck in Underville and can't find her way out.

I'm keeping Gray Mouse as his literal name (and color and species). He's a physically normal mouse, but what "normal mouse" means changes depending on where he goes. Gray also has a normal mouse's frailty and lifespan, but somehow has a thing where every time he dies, he reawakens nearby in the body of another identical mouse, keeping all of his memories. This means he's lived many times longer than a mouse normally would, which gives him a weird perspective on things.

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This came from a dream I had last night; it was the cover of the first of a series of comics I'd bought that followed a bunch of mice across various parallel timelines that occasionally bumped into or crossed each other. The comics themselves were in grayscale with only small amounts of spot color (like yellow for cheese), but every other timeline was indicated on the page, beside the frames, as a colored line with numbers on it indicating which panel in that timeline was happening just then.

Johan Silverfox (yes, he's still around) tends to one of the automated distilling machines he invented. They're widespread in the New World β€” every large-enough Guild Hall had one, so most of the New World settlements got to keep theirs β€” and pretty easy to use. Raw ether in the upper cylinder, reagents in the sealed box on the right, set the temperature and filters, and let it run. Magic and technology aren't opposites, they just work differently, and can be coaxed into cooperation.

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