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Pokémon X and Y

August 22, 2013 •

Of all the reasons for attending the Pokémon Game Show in Tokyo last weekend, probably the most very important one was the chance to get a sneak preview of playing Pokémon X and Y, the upcoming Pokémon title for Nintendo 3DS.

Naturally, I was there in a heartbeat to give it a try. :D

As was probably to be expected, a HUGE chunk of the game show floor was dedicated to the placement of Nintendo 3DS stations with copies of Pokémon X and Y running. To get in, you had to present your guide map from your Pokémon show bag, which would then be stamped (Assuming so people couldn’t keep going back for more. XD). A guide would then take you to one of the 3DS stations and give you instructions on how to play. :)

I probably don’t have to explain what the demo featured, as many people way more versed in Pokémon lore than me at this point have already posted about it, so I’ll just give my general impression about it. :D

Back in 2000, when Pokémon Red and Blue were being superseded by Pokémon Yellow, Pokémon Stadium came out. When I first saw a demo of Pokémon Stadium, I had a grandiose vision of it that it was just like the (at the time 8-bit) Game Boy Pokémon series, with the full world-traveling storyline and everything, in full 3D. Sadly, that wasn’t actually the case…

… until now. :D

Basically, from what I saw in that demo, Pokémon X and Y fulfilled the vision that my 14 year old self had more than a decade ago. It. Is. Amazing. :D

And the weird thing is, it felt perfectly natural going from the pseudo-isomorphic 2D/3D feeling we had in Pokémon generations IV and V to complete 3D in generation VI. They absolutely nailed it.

Seriously. If Nintendo is having trouble pushing 3DS hardware at the moment, they won’t once this game hits the stores.

My only problem is that thanks to Nintendo’s policy on region locking the 3DS (Incidentally, go sign this petition!), I have no idea whether I should buy an Aussie 3DS or a Japanese 3DS. ಠ_ಠ

Anyway. Yes, Pokémon X and Y is amazing. Yes, it appears to cost more than previous generations, but yes it’s going to be worth it. :D

The Pokémon Game Show 2013!

August 17, 2013 •

It’s uhhh… probably fair at this point to say that I’m a pretty big fan of Pokémon. And naturally, I’ve been looking forward to the release of Pokémon X and Y

So when I heard about the Pokémon Game Show that was going to be held in Tokyo, which would be featuring playable copies of X and Y, there was no question about going or not. XD

The event was being held at Tokyo Big Sight, so less than a week after Comiket ended, I always already heading back there again. Thankfully, this time around, the crowd was SLIGHTLY smaller than what was at Comiket.

BigSight

After seeing such a massive crowd at Comiket (And also at Reitaisai), it was kind of weird to see Big Sight so empty this time around.

In any case, when I got a bit closer, I knew I was definitely in the right place.

Pokémon Game Show Sign

Unlike Comiket and Reitaisai, getting in was actually somewhat different. As it turns out, due to the volume of people in the show floor, it was actually necessary to stagger the entry of new people until the others had left. So after I initially went in (After a baggage check, interestingly enough), I was required to wait in line with a block of people for about 20 minutes or so. (I guess this is actually pretty normal, but coming from Perth, I can understand why I’ve never seen it before. XD)

After finally entering the show floor, I was immediately floored at the size and scale of it. Holy crap it was massive!

Pokémon Game Show Floor

Not only that, the place was fully decked out. There was an amazing light-show at the front door, there were giant Poké balls floating in the air, and there were awesome Pokémon stands featuring the starters and the legendaries from all of the games every 20 metres. XD

The show floor was divided up into multiple sections, each catering to different Pokémon related activities. In the corner, there was a Pokémon Tretta lab in the corner, where the prize for winning was an exclusive Red Genesect tile.

Pokemon Tretta

In the middle, there a dedicated section for video/ card game Pokémon battles, with a raised stage in the middle. Suffice it to say, incredibly awesome. XD

Pokemon Battle Stage

And in the far corner, was the Pokémon X and Y exhibition (Will write more on that later). :D

PokemonXYExhibition

Beyond that, there were a few other sections, of which I’ve uploaded photos onto my Flickr.

Overall, it was an amazing day. It’s sometimes hard to fathom just how popular Pokémon is; especially in Japan. But when there’s events like this, it blows your mind even more. XD

Summer Comiket 2013

August 12, 2013 •

Even though a great deal of my friends have said how amazing Comiket is, sadly, I’d never had the opportunity to go. Until today. :D

Since I’m almost about to go home to Australia, I have very little space for buying any more things, and not to mention this weekend went on record to be ONE OF THE HOTTEST in Japan’s meteorological history, I was a little hesitant about going. But I figured, since I’d come this far, it’d be worth going to check it out, if only  for the experience. Whoo boy, and what an experience that was! XD

I decided I was only going to rock up and hour or so before it ended. I just wanted to walk around a bit, check out how the place was laid out, check out the pixiv booth, and then pop home before heat stroke set in. XD

Being from a small Australian city, I’ve only ever been used to conventions ranging in sizes of 4,000 to 18,000 attendees. Jumping off the train and witnessing the magnitude of Comiket’s over 500,000 attendee reputation BLEW MY MIND. This thing is big. It is crazy big. Holy crap it was big. XD

Having been a volunteer at Perth’s most kickass Japan-themed convention, I was also keeping an eye out for how the event was managed. It was absolutely incredible how meticulous crowd flow was managed from the train station right through the entire convention centre.

I basically did one lap of both halls to check out what kind of goods were on display, before heading up to the industry booth section. While I was walking through the rows of tables, looking at all of the comics, music, games and animation DVDs, I couldn’t help but feel a great deal of admiration for everyone there. I feel like I can only appreciate a small amount of the sheer amount of work that goes into those creations and how proud they must feel when people come up and buy that work.

Since my Australia-bound luggage-space is already at a premium, I originally wasn’t planning on buying anything. But as I was walking through one of the rows, a very enthusiastic chap offered me to browse one of his artbooks, and then got 4 of his friends to train their fans on me as I was browsing it. Figuring that gesture alone was worth it, I bought the book off him. I plan to cherish it as my first official book from Comiket. ^_^

Comiket Art Book

In any case, while I was a bit sad I didn’t get much time to look at any more goods in great detail, I ultimately don’t regret going at the end of the event. To say it was HOT is a crazy understatement, and by the time the event officially closed, I was completely drenched in sweat and partially blind as a result. ^_^;

Overall, I still found the whole experience amazing and definitely worthwhile, even in the extreme heat. Even though I’ll be back in Australia by then, I’m definitely considering flying to Japan for Winter Comiket and actually doing the whole thing properly next time. :D

Getting an apartment in Japan

August 10, 2013 •

When I came to Japan to work at pixiv this year, I knew this was going to be my first time in the country where I’d have to actually find a proper apartment to live in. When I came here on my working holiday, I spent the first half of it living in accommodation provided by the company, and the second half was traveling around Osaka, home-staying with Japanese families (Excellent fun, by the way!).

Making things a bit more interesting, I also had a few criteria for the apartment of my dreams:

  • pixiv have a policy where they can add help subsidise your apartment rent, providing the apartment is within a certain distance from the office (So, the closer to the building in Sendagaya, the better!)
  • Since I knew I wasn’t planning to stay in the longterm, ideally the place would be pre-furnished.
  • IDEALLY (but not necessarily), I would like a place that wouldn’t require me to commit to a 2 year contract (And then having to pay piles of money to cancel down the track)

A few weeks before leaving Perth, in probably the most stereotypical way of looking for apartments in Japan, I started my search on GaijinPot.com. I’d heard from a few people that it’s not unheard of for landlords to refuse new tenants purely because they’re not Japanese before, so I figured if it was listed there, they should all be okay.

There ended up being quite a few interesting places on GaijinPot. There was one particular one that I especially liked the look of since it had a loft above the kitchen where the bed (I like lofts. XD) So I sent a message to the realtor and asked that (given my set of criteria above) whether it might be possible to rent that one when I got to Japan. I promptly received a reply from a realtor from Tokyo Best Realtors explaining to me that although that particular unit DID require a 2 year commitment, if we met up once I arrived in Tokyo, they’d be able to help me find a much better suited apartment. I agreed and we scheduled a meeting on the first Saturday of me arriving in Tokyo (free of charge!).

When I actually arrived in Tokyo, I was expecting to start working at pixiv straight away, so I was a little nervous at imagining how I was going to manage full-time work, out of a hotel, while at the same time searching for an apartment (To the point where I was wondering if I should have committed to an apartment before coming to Japan). Interestingly/thankfully, when I arrived at the office, I was informed that it was necessary for my employment registration (including bank account registration) that I have a permanent address before I could actually officially start work. So with my newfound free time, I was looking forward to securing an apartment as fast as possible.

On the first Saturday of being in Japan, I went and met Mr Taka Nomura of Tokyo Best Realtors in a café in Shinjuku to discuss apartment options in the area. Thankfully, he spoke absolutely flawless English, so it was very easy to get down to business (I doubt that I could have done that with my Japanese!).

Mr Nomura explained to me that there is actually a central database of available housing in Japan, accessible only via licensed realtors, and that although online sites like GaijinPot display a good number of apartments, the central database has the most comprehensive list. After showing me the database, he told me that even if I couldn’t get a furnished apartment, it IS possible to rent a full furniture set in Japan (on a yearly basis), so it’s not completely necessary to search for furnished apartments. Anyway, after doing a little bit of searching in the general Shinjuku area, we discovered that there were actually 2 short-term apartments that were available for rent on an ongoing basis (ie you could cancel at any time). One was quite small, but close by, and there was another one that was further away, but a lot bigger.

As it looked like time was going to be of the essence, we left the cafe to go check out the smaller apartment to see what it was like. Since I was actually expecting something tiny, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was actually quite open and felt rather roomy; more than enough for my needs. On top of that, it was still in the range of the pixiv housing subsidy. So without doing too much thinking, I told Mr Nomura that I would definitely like to rent this apartment. Mr Nomura said he’d contact the landlord and see if they’d accept my application.

A few days later, I received an email from Mr Nomura saying that the landlord approved and the apartment would be mine once I’d paid the initial invoice, which consisted of all of the initial setup fees such as cleaning, lock fitting, and remaining rent for the month. After paying that straight away, I had another meeting with Mr Nomura to sign the contract and receive the key, and that was it! The place was mine!

Overall, the process was very quick. It took less than 2 weeks to go from having absolutely no idea what to do, to receiving the keys to my new apartment. I was very impressed at Mr Nomura’s handling of the whole process. He was extremely professional and meticulous in explaining all of the details, and was always extremely prompt when communicating via email.

After this experience, if I was going to do this again, my recommendation now is to most likely bypass GaijinPot and just meet with a Tokyo real estate agency directly once you’ve arrived in Japan. Since they all have access to the same database, you won’t find different places at different agencies, and so it’ll boil down to how the agency will treat you. At this point, I’m very glad to vouch for Tokyo Best Realtors as their service was absolutely amazing.

If you have any questions about this post, feel free to follow me on Twitter, or like my Facebook page!

Hello world 2.0!

August 3, 2013 •

Blimey, it’s been a fair while. How’s everyone been?

As you may or may not have noticed, a couple of things have changed slightly around here. I’ve been hard at work on this for a couple of weeks now, and I’m really happy that it’s finished and online. :D

A lot’s happened this year. A LOT. I’ve been learning a great deal of new things while working at pixiv, I’ve traveled Japan, I’ve bought and played with some amazing new hardware, and I even took off to California for a week to hang with Google. Oh yeah, and Apple just announced a new version of iOS that turns iComics on its head. ^_^;

And all this time, I’ve been keeping notes on all of this to make them as good blog topics. But sadly, there has been a bit of a “thing” that’s been holding me back somewhat.

The thing holding me back was my old blog theme (Pictured above).

I designed that theme back when I first got it in my head to start a blog, sometime in mid-2008, back when Firefox was the hip cool browser, Chrome was just about to go live, and  Internet Explorer 7 was king of the internet. ^_^;

Needless to say, times have changed since then. Not only has browser technology leaped forward since then (Making things like hand-drawn shadows a thing of the past), but the hardware we consume web content on (ie smartphones and tables) has evolved to an amazing degree.

And whenever I thought about blogging about all of these amazing topics this year, I could’t help but feel ashamed I’d be doing it on theme that was designed for the web 5 years ago (Especially if the post is about design itself). ^_^;

So, after researching the trends of the design of other blogs, and putting together a new design tailored for my own vision of this site, I am now proud to present my re-fitted blog.

It differs from the old blog in quite a few aspects:

  • Professionalism
    My original blog theme was designed with the intention of being really casual and personal. But given the types of posts I’ve ended up writing these days (iComics announcements, iPokédex legal discussions, code techniques etc), I decided the blog needed a much more professional air about it.
  • Much more simplified design
    The old blog design was quite visually chaotic. This new theme does away with all structural graphical elements to portray and very flat, clean design.
  • Removed a lot of the clutter
    You probably don’t need to see my Xbox gamer card, or my Twitter feed, or a break-down of posts by month. This new design strives to only portray the bare minimum of necessary content.
  • No more comments
    I’m still up in the air about this, so I might bring it back. But sadly, even though there are some great comments attached to these topics, for every 1 good comment, there were 3 spam comments trying to promote their wares. Since the majority of people who read my blog follow me on Twitter (or we’re mates on Facebook), I figured I can leave the conversations there instead. (Don’t worry. They haven’t been deleted!)
  • Fully Retina/HiDPI Capable
    After buying a MacBook Pro with Retina Display this year, I’ve pretty much resolved to convert all of my websites over to HiDPI as soon as I can. This new theme is fully HiDPI capable, and all blog posts made from now on will support it as well.
  • Responsive
    As I find maintaining a separate mobile site quite logistically challenging, using the magic of Twitter Bootstrap and a fair bit of testing, this new theme is capable of re-arranging itself to cater for the screen dimensions of any device it is displayed on. :)
  • New domain name
    Turns out having to tell everyone there’s a dash in ‘www.tim-oliver.com’ when explaining the URL is kind of annoying. I was absolutely ecstatic when I discovered TimOliver.com.au was still free. And I’ll be making sure it goes to good use. :D

The blog still needs a little work. Each post has to have a ‘featured’ image inserted into it, and so I’ll be working through that, sorting the posts by priority.

In any case, I’m really happy with this new theme, and I hope you’ll find it a bit easier on the the eyes over the previous one. XD

Have a nice weekend!

Sup from Japan!

February 13, 2013 •

Japan Flag

G'day everyone!

Sorry about the delay, things have been absolutely crazy lately. XD

Due to various circumstances, I've ended up with a bit of spare time, so I thought I'd give this blog a bit of love. :D

So, in case anyone missed the memo, I'm in Japan right now. ^_^ After applying last year, and making it through 2 interviews, I accepted a job to work at pixiv as a mobile application developer. I arrived here last Thursday and have been settling in since. I haven't started work yet as there's still a few logistics involved with getting set up beforehand (Really important things. Like choosing an awesome email address. XD). However, I've already gone and met my team and had a look at the kind of projects I'll be joining/potentially spearheading. Sadly, I can't publicly talk about them until they've been announced, but trust me when I say, they're pretty damn awesome. :D

In a sad, sad, tragic, horrific series of events, I'm currently without a laptop; my MacBook Air's keyboard kicked the bucket a few days ago. Figuring that now would be the best time as any to go without a laptop for a few days, I handed it in to the Shibuya Apple Store and have been rolling on just my iPad since then.

It's definitely a bit of a different experience coming to Japan to work, instead of on travel. Obviously, there's a few more things you have to worry about like setting up a bank account and working out a short-long term accommodation plan. Also, things that are pretty easy to manage when on a quick stay, like renting a SIM card for your mobile phone become a little more complicated. These are all excellent topics for more blog posts down the track.

In any case, I've still got a backlog of posts I want to write from 2012, so I might spend my laptop-less time updating this blog with all of these incredibly late posts. XD

Take care everyone!

Pixiv Logo

 

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