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10:51 PM on 10.07.2008

Now Brought To You By -- Fork Surprise Game Ultra

I'll have to make this somewhat brief, as I have a cold coming on and would like to ... well, at least attempt to deal with it in a meaningful way. I figure vitamin c pills and rest; maybe I'll add in beating Clear Sky or something. I hear both are doctor recommended.

Firstly, it seems Warhammer is doing quite well -- so well, in fact, it's first in PC game sales. And third, although in a slightly more awesome package. Beating Spore is fantastic in and of itself, but taking out The Sims and World of Warcraft at the same time is just bizarre.

I was also overjoyed to see Stalker: Clear Sky in there, showing that me liking something does not, necessarily, doom it. I seem to have a knack for liking both underdogs, and dogs that don't finish the race. Hey, they tried just as hard ok?

A slightly more sobering part of that list is the fact that fucking Crysis (in whatever God-raping form) weaseled it's way on there, not to mention seven of the 10 games being either made by, or produced by EA. They don't just have both hands in the cookie jar, they have both hooves and their forked tongue.

I was told to mention... this, but I really cannot say anything that hasn't already been said. I mean.. it's like making fun of someone in a wheelchair because they can't walk -- everyone knows they can't, and it's not like they're too stupid to walk, they simply can't. In this case, it's like they went out of their way to think of the dumbest fucking shit to call this already bad idea. Sports PB&J? Sports PB&J?!? Is that even a fucking term? Did they use mad-libs to name this stuff? If I were associated with this.. product, I'd have slit my wrists or blown whatever cocaine-filled skull I had clean off.

Seriously, Sports PB&J. Just... Fuck.

Now on a slightly more light-hearted note, my game got mentioned in a Penny-Arcade comic! Literally, they just said the name, (and a smaller form at that) but still that's publicity. I'm sure we gained ten, twelve sales right there. Hopefully the game won't rely on Code Whisperers to push sales, but hey, even holistic help is help.

Anyway, keep up your gaming, and maybe toss in some game- no, no I can't say it. I can't even joke about it.

G "Enraged" E   read

4:33 PM on 08.05.2008

Not A Lot Of Hope For Blind Devs

I was just reading [url=">this article]this article[/url], an interview with Christopher Kline. The article reads that there is "Not a lot of hope" for mid-budget developers due to rising dev costs, etc.

I call bullshit.

Look at Stalker. That company was, for 90% of it's existence, made by about a dozen people working slave wages. The game won shooter of the year all over the place, and it's known all over the place -- people I know who barely game at all are talking about it. It has the best A.I. I've seen in an FPS (which isn't saying a lot, but still).

I'm really sick of this idea that games need the latest and greatest to be successful. You don't have to sell 2 million copies of a game if it only costs you 2 million to make! So here's a crazy idea, stop spending 30 million dollars to sell 1.5 million copies, when you could spend 3 million and sell 750,000. Not every game has to be Game Of The Year. You can make a great cult title every two years and make a damn good profit.

I think this industry needs to stop pretending to be the Movie industry and get their shit straight. Make games people enjoy. That should be your focus. Fun; remember fun? Fun does not require bloom, bump mapping, detailed water effects, real-time lighting effects that show you each fucking leaf moving in the wind.

Give me a game that focuses on good controls, fun gameplay, and I'll be set.   read

12:13 PM on 07.27.2008

Oblivion Lost; Finds Home On My PC

I've been working six days a week, including lots of overtime, so I haven't had a chance to post recently.

In my few moments of freetime, I've been playing Oblivion Lost, a fantastic MOD for Stalker. What does it do? Well, the list of changes is massive - we're talking pages and pages of massive overhauls. A brief overview:

-ALife much improved. Mutants wander everywhere, everyone attacks everyone, and you can find any enemy in any place; it's totally random. Using a silenced weapon makes enemies confused about where you're firing from. Enemies heal and bandage themselves. They will flee when bleeding badly. They will throw grenades, flee from grenades, and generally be little fucks who just won't peak their damn heads out. They will also attack any mutants that are near them, instead of having both sides decide to kill me, instead of, you know, the huge boar who just gored his best friend.

-Weapons do realistic damage. A quick burst kills anyone, yourself included. You need to bandage all bleeding wounds. Headshots always kill. Good weapons are expensive, but all weapons can be modded (scopes, silencers, etc) and fixed when broken.

-Night is fucking dark. With no city lights, you need your flashlight to see six feet in front of you. If you have night vision, you can even sneak up on enemies and knife them in the back. Using your headlamp lets everyone know where you are. Mutants come out of the woodwork to hunt you. And it's fucking creepy.

-You need sleep. Granted, you can go without sleep for some time, but you will need to sleep every so often. You even dream - flashes of videos play while you're sleeping.

-You can drive vehicles. I've yet to use one (I have this thing about vehicles in games -- I tend to die near them,) but you can drive around.

-24 hour day/night cycle. Fleeing a horde of mutants in the dark, only to have the sun crest the hill in front of you, makes you feel like you just might make it.

-NPC's will move corpses away from campfires. It doesn't sound like much, but watching the fact that they hate having poor Alexei's body next to them while they play the harmonica, sing, and talk to eachother is pretty awesome.

I could go on for days, but that's a quick overview. The new weapons added are great -- I use an AK-47 in every game I can. It's just a thing I have.

The main change I enjoy, is that once you beat the game you can keep playing. Duty and Freedom constantly attack eachother. Mutants will get loose in the Bar.. and that's a sight. I watched a pair of bloodsuckers annihilate half of the Freedom base -- that was a sight. As was defending that same Freedom base from a huge Military attack. It was me and five Freedom soldiers versus 30-40 military commandos, complete with AS Vals, AK-74's, and a fucktonne of grenades. Let's just say, when me and the two surviving Freedom were done, I walked away with quite a fortune in gun sales. Not to mention the AS Val I am still using.

I think this just goes to show that mainstream (Read: Gears of War, Halo, etc) games are often forgotten about once you're done, and it's the truly non-mainstream ones that are enjoyable over the long term. This is my 5th playthrough of Stalker -- the first with mods, and I love it. Clear sky is coming soon, and I hope it continues this trend. I've always had a fascination with Russian/Soviet culture, and this game really brings it home. The desolation, the industrial feel mixed with farming culture, and the raw need to just survive is huge in this game. I really wish more companies would make games like this. It just has so much character that is missing from the soul-less games of the bigger producers.

Not to mention, good luck having games like Deus Ex (un-fucked), Stalker, etc on a console. I like consoles and all, but my favourite franchises would never survive in-order processing.

So if you have Stalker, give Oblivion Lost a try. Just don't ask Kanyhalos for help -- any problem you've had will be happening 'only to you,' and he will 'never [have] seen it before.' Apparently, both my friend and I managed to be the 'only people' to have none of the unique guns for the first half of the game, even though the AK-47 is supposed to be there from the start. Just a warning, /grin

G, 'WASD Warrior'; "Ahh, Marked One. It Is Good To See You Again."   read

12:07 PM on 07.03.2008

College of Hilarity

Sorry it's been so long, but I've had betas achieved, (after being hot-blooded, I) fought off a fever of 103, fought off a particularly nasty flu, and played a fair amount of TF2.

I often get asked about going to Arts Institute - Vancouver (Burnaby), what it was like, was it worth it, and so on. Generally I say; It was really hard but you don't learn stuff you should, no, and save your money. Basically, the school costs triple what it should, and really isn't that great a help in getting a job in the games industry. In fact, I think less than 50% of my class actually has a job in said industry.

Why did I mention that rather suddenly? This add. It's funny, we'll all laugh at it, but people will go to this school. Now if you're curious what the game industry is like, I can tell you with firm authority not like that add. First off, no-one has ever had a discussion like this:

"So where do you think this guy should move?"
"I'd say.. this way."

Nor has anyone asked if 'that sound from the last level' shoudl be used. In fact, when the hell was the last time levels worked in that sort of linear way? Where sounds are slowly added together until a full midi soundtrack of hilarity has occured? Short answer: never.

Beyond being asked how AI was, I get asked about 'making games,' and what that is like. Firstly, designers don't sit in a room moving characters from the game around to 'make a level.' Designers are almost always coders, and if not that, they have management training. You don't design a game by having fully articulated characters shift around a screen. Generally, you have a non-textured level, where you decide the overall flow of a game, level, what-have-you. In the lower trenches, where anyone who wants to break into the industry will start, you basically see a really broken version of the game. I'm talking unbeatable levels, crashes every two minutes, and mind-numbingly boring bug hunts.

To give an example of my time in the lower trenches, I often use the following story. On a certain game I worked on (It may have had a Need for a Speed of high velocity, and may also have included the word Carbon) I had to watch the same cut-scenes a good 75 times. Each. All of the cut-scenes in the game in fact. Why did I have to keep watching them? I had to watch every cutscene, in every language (of which at the time we had about a dozen) and make sure that: A) The language stayed the same throughout the whole video; B) The audio was synced to the video; C) At what exact second any errors occured. And they often would not have timers on them.

So what I say to you, you whom think you want into this industry, is to research it well. Decide exactly what you want to do - Design, Art, Coding, Modelling, QA, Gameplay testing, Audio and so on. I'd suggest coding, if only because there's a constant need for coders, and they are by far the best paid. Audio is generally the worst for wear, as they are paid the least, and get the least consideration. If you want to play the game, avoid Audio, Art, Modelling, or Coding. Because chances are you'll never have the time to touch the game you're actually working on.

Your first, and best, way into the games industry is to do Focus Testing, if you can. That involves testing final product games, and saying what you think of them. If you ever get a job though, they wont want you back. Why? Because they want people un-tainted by training, so that they can tell what people who buy the game (you know, average Joe who wants 'more Halo' and less thinking) will think.

So that guy? You know that guy at school who you couldn't stand, and who probably couldn't spell his way out of a paper-bag that had been riddled with holes? You want to think as much like him as you can. Make sure even that moron could play the game. This actually goes for game design, now that I think of it. So really, learn this stuff now!

I'm slowly climbing the rungs to where I want to be. But it'll take years upon years, and I wish it wouldn't.

So watch that commercial I posted at the top carefully. Because those are the people you'll be working with at the start. People who have no idea what game creation involves.

G "Blackhat" E; "Use The Sound From The Last Level!"   read

11:25 AM on 04.11.2008

Xbox Love

Rather than doing a typical game review, I'd like to, if I may, simply rant about Rainbow Six: Vegas 2.

Firstly, the R6 series (not the robots from Star Wars) has always been known for its shitty A.I. Well, shitty isn't the word, massively cheating A.I. It can kill you from 500 metres with a fucking (skorpion), it can one shot you with a pistol while coming around a corner, through a door, because you nudged a wall and made noise. It can tell when you're reloading, when you're moving away from a door, and so on. It also, however, manages to make your teammates absolutely pants-on-head moronic. How hard is it to stand on either side of a door, and shoot anyone who comes through? Apparently, impossibly hard, as I, last night, watched them let six people through. Literally, just waltzing past them. They also will stand there and guard a wall, constantly. if there's a hallway than ends in a stairwell, they will face the wall, looking away from the stairwell.

These problems don't even mention the 'get stuck on a car bumper, making you reload a level' or 'getting stuck on a puddle.' If there's a way the A.I. can break, it will.

Moving past that, the gun selection confuses me somewhat. Rainbow Six is known for having a veritable fucktonne of weaponry. I think Raven Shield had something like 15 Assault Rifles alone. The new one has a fair amount of weapons, yes, but they all feel exactly the same. Now, obviously assault rifles don't differ hugely in how they kill (aim at guy clipping through wall, shoot him, he screams a ten minute dead scream despite your 7.62 NATO round that just pierced his larynx), but they did feel different in past games. Other than look, the Assault Rifles especially, work almost exactly the same.

The A.C.E.S. system is an interesting idea, where you unlock new weapons, the Shield, different gear sets, new camo, etc, by killing people in certain ways. I really like the idea, but at a certain point you have to stop headshotting people in order to advance other areas. So basically it comes to the point where headshots are detrimental to further unlocks, which is a bizarre counter-intuitive way of dealing with it. For example, if you shoot someone through cover, it's an Assault kill. If you headshot them though, it's a Marksman kill. Killing someone who has a shield is an Assault kill.. unless you headshot them. It's just very weird.

Also, there seems to be some problem with the animations at times. For example, the A.I. will occasionally rappel down towards you (usually to their doom). Sometimes, when they do so, they basically teleport down. They just appear at the top, then they're on the ground. It's very bizarre. Enemies will be staring 180 degrees away from you, and the second you move towards them they have turned all the way around and are hitting you. It not only looks bizarre, but can be quite irritating.

When I foolishly tried multiplayer the first time, I ran into an interesting phenomenon. I went to plug in the internet for my free month of Live.. Gold or whatever, and I thought to myself "there's some reason I don't do this. Something that makes me regret going onto Live..." but I couldn't remember what it was. Ten seconds into my first game, a 12 year old boy is screaming at me to "gbbshh tob booshcabe!" He's yelling so loudly the headset barely registers it as sound. It's just static and half vowels. I slowly learned he was complaining about the fact I had a briefcase, and wasn't sprinting for the cap point. Had I my own headset (I couldn't find mine) I would have told him to take the fucking lead, as I wasn't doing it alone. I found him again, later, presumably on the same server. This time I heard the words "FAMAS" (which I was using), "grenades" which everyone was using, and "Headshots" which I was getting a lot of. In the end, I was kicked out of four of the five servers I joined, for reasons that are not entire clear.

I've mentioned my problems with the single player story in other posts, but basically the story is awful, the ending is terrible, and you never care about anyone.

G "Blackhat" E; "Lima, Oscar, Lima!"   read

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