For the city of Phantom Hill I'm trying to create an air of dreary authoritarianism. To that end, I've been directly using vehicle designs from the former Soviet Bloc, which pretty much defined dreary authoritarianism back in the day. The Trabant rental car was an obvious example earlier, and the PHPD police cars are Ladas. I don't know the specific make and model of the fire truck, but it was the first result on a Google search for "soviet fire truck" and I instantly knew it was perfect.
Aside from aping Communist industrial design, though, a reason these vehicles look better than my average work is simply that they have lots of detail. I've come to the realization that detail is my Achilles' heel when it comes to mecha designs. Now, I have from time to time come up with frankly awesome designs but they are generally in the context of more abstract and atmospheric stories, as Malarkey was; that Hegemonic battleship looks supa-cool but you'd be hard pressed to explain very clearly how it works or what the different bits do. When it comes to a more gritty, down-to-earth story like Afterlife Blues, it's a struggle to remember that, say, the heroes' truck needs to have door handles so Faith can open it and get in. Or a ramp mount, so it can actually get loaded. Or a license plate. That sort of thing. Directly copying real-world designs helps me avoid this problem; it's also why Bethany's guns look so good as well. When I next do a more fantastic story, though, there may be trouble.
In other news, this Year Without A Summer is really dragging me down. As I mentioned on Twitter, I was chatting with someone today and was told that we've had sunlight for all of three out of the last fifty-one days, and I don't know about you but for me frankly that's just not enough. I've also noticed that my general mood, productivity both at work and home, and whiny/crankiness/general throwing my spoon off my high chair quotient seems directly correlated to how clear the sky is. Like, you could graph it, write a paper, and probably get tenure.
So what I'm getting at is: Hey Lazyweb, do any of you have experience with those sun lights used to fend of Seasonal Affective Disorder? 'Cos I'm starting to think I can't afford to wait for the real sun to put in an appearance, and neither can anyone else who has to interact with me every day.