I've been playing games ever since my father brought home that first Atari system. While my original gaming experience was almost entirely platformers and RPGs, once I got a PC of my own, I've been in love with first person shooters. The most important of these shooters to my gaming career being, of course, Half-Life. Once I got my grubby paws on a copy of Half-Life there was a cascade of gaming from all the mods and all the online play.
These days I still play First Person Shooters but I'm not quite as much as a fiend as I had been. Admittedly it feels difficult to find a good RPG to dump several hours into, which is why I still often stick to online games. My current favorite online games are Team Fortress 2 and Age of Chivalry. Previously I was a WoWtard but have kicked the habit.
What I'm here for:
Destructoid Articles - duh.
Trying to write interesting blog posts.
Enjoying other people's blog posts.
Having fun in general.
While I technically do not own all of these, I have access to the following consoles, many of which were purchased by me and given to others:
And my computer specs (the important ones anyways):
AMD Phenom II X2 545 @ 3.0 GHZ
ATI HD4770 PCI-E
Enough Hard Drive Space to kill a monkey.
4 Gigs of DDR2 sdram (3.5 accessable in my stupid 32bit OS)
Onboard Audio, because I'm a cheapskate and didn't feel like stuffing this soundblaster in.
Role Playing Games
First Person Shooters
Online Versions of both of those.
Freakish combinations of the first two.
Platforming from time to time.
Messing up pop-culture memes to watch people cringe.
Golf (playing, not watching)
Hey there, this blog contains some ***SPOILERS****. Although the main focus of this is information that was available pre-Portal2, it does contain informations that is somewhat pertinent. You have been warned. Also, forgive me if someone else has already mentioned this recently.
Cave Johnson here ... er, well, not really. In any case:
Some time ago, I don't recall exactly how long ago now, apertuerscience.com contained something very different from what it does today. It contained a fake terminal. A flash file that was interactive. You could login as a guest and take a test, or login as the admin if you knew the username and password. The information was available, if you paid attention. I'll save you the trouble though.
The admin login was CJOHNSON. At the time, it was mostly guessing as to who CJOHNSON was exactly. Some though he was the g-man from Black Mesa, but that is decidedly wrong. Now we know.
Once you logged in with the password TIER3, you were shown two files: apply.exe and notes.exe
APPLY.EXE was the test. NOTES.EXE was exclusive to CJOHNSON. This is what was contained in the file.
1953 - Aperture Science begins opterations as a manufacturer of shower curtains. Early product line provide a very low-tech portal between the inside and outside of your shower. Very little science is actually involved. The name is chosen to make the curtains appear more hygienic.
1956 - Eisenhower administration awards Aperture a contract to provide shower curtains to all branches of the military except the Navy.
1957 - 1975 Mostly shower curtains.
1978 - Aperture Founder and CEO, Cave Johnson, is exposed to mercury while secretly developing a dangerous mercury-injected rubber sheeting from which he plans to manufacture seven deadly shower curtains to be given as gifts to each member of the House Naval Approrpriations committee.
1979 - Both of Cave Johnson's kidneys fail. Brain damaged, dying, and incapable of being convinced that time is not now flowing backwards, Johnson lays out a three tiered R&D program. The results, he says, will 'guarantee the continued success of Aperture Science far into the fast-approaching distant past.'
Tier 1: The Heimlich Counter-Maneuver - A reliable technique for interrupting the life-saving Heimlich Maneuver.
Tier 2: The Take-A-Wish Foundation - A charitable organization that will purchase wishes from the parents of terminally ill children and redistribute them to wish-deprived but otherwise healthy adults.
Tier 3: 'Some kind of rip in the fabric of space... That would... Well, it'd be like, I don't know, something that would help with the shower curtains I guess. I haven't worked this idea out as much as the wish-taking one.'
1981 - Diligent Aperture engineers complete the Heimlich Counter-Maneuver and Take-A-Wish Foundation initiatives. The company announces products related to the research in a lavish, televised ceremony. These products become immediately wildly unpopular. After a string of very public choking and despondent sick child disasters, senior company officials are summoned before a Senate investigative commitee. During these proceedings, an engineer mentions that some progress has been made on Tier 3, the 'man-sized ad hoc quantum tunnel through physical space with possible applications as a shower curtain.' The committee is quickly permanently recessed, and Aperture is granted an open-ended contract to secretly continue research on the 'Portal' and Heimlich Counter-Maneuver projects.
1981 - 1985 - Work progresses on the 'Portal' project. Several high ranking Fatah personnel choke to death on lamb chunks despite the intervention of their bodyguards.
1986 - Word reaches Aperture management that another defense contractor called Black Mesa is working on a similar portal technology. In response to thise news, Aperture begins developing the Genetic Lifeform and Disk Opterating System (GLaDOS), an artificially intelligent research assistant and disk opterating system.
1996 - After a decade spent bringing the disk operating parts of GLaDOS to a state of more or less basic functionality, work begins on the Genetic Lifeform component.
Several Years Later - The untested AI is activated for the first time as one of the planned activities on Aperture's first annual bring-your-daughter-to-work day.
In many ways, the initial test goes well...
I believe that this information was placed before much of Portal 2's story was pieced together. As stated in the commentary playthrough, the story was altered at least once. So not all the information is exactly applicable, but that makes it no less interesting.
Were you wondering why that shower certain trophy was in the case besides Cave Johnson's portrait? Now you know.
And knowing is half the battle!
Want to take a look for yourself?
The old website is no longer available but you can still access the archive of it.
From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wife_carrying
Wife carrying (Estonian: naisekandmine , Finnish: eukonkanto or akankanto, Swedish: kärringkånk) is a sport in which male competitors race while each carrying a female teammate. The objective is for the male to carry the female through a special obstacle track in the fastest time.
There are many thoughts to how this sport first originated in Finland. Tales have been passed down from one person to another about a man named Herkko Rosvo-Ronkainen. This man was considered a robber in the late 1800s, lived in a forest, and ran around with his gang of thieves causing harm to the villages. From what has been found, there are three ideas to why/how this sport was invented. First, Rosvo-Ronkainen and his thieves were accused of stealing food and women from villages in the area he lived in; then carried these women on their backs as they ran away, (hence the “wife” or women carrying). For the second idea, it has been said that young men would go to villages near their own, steal other men’s wives, and then have the woman become their own wife. These wives were also carried on the backs of the young men; this was referred to as “the practice of wife stealing." Lastly, there was the idea that Rosvo-Ronkainen trained his thieves to be “faster and stronger” by carrying big, heavy sacks on their backs, which could have eventually evolved to a sport because of the hard labor (endurance), and muscle strengthening; which most sports ensure. Even though this sport is considered a joke, competitors take it very seriously, just like any other sport. Wife carrying is now practiced in the United States of America, Hong Kong, and other parts of the world besides Finland, and has a category in the Guinness Book of Records.
Yes, between rounds, they are pounding beers. Yes, it's awesome and manly.
Granted, there's no slapping on the ass, which seems to be a major concern (though I'm still not sure why), but other people in the world don't seem to lose their shit over stuff like this. What's wrong with us?
The following is part rant, part info-graphic, all for fun.
We as gamers know that there's many things that can very quickly make or break a game. For some it's graphics, others it's the quality of sound and sometimes it's the core mechanics of the game. All of these are very understandable, but there's one that I left out, which I sometimes think Quality Assurance does as well ever now and then, which is the control layout.
Fortunately, computer gamers will almost always have a reasonable means to adjust the controls to their liking either in game or through some kind of workaround. Consolers aren't always so lucky. This isn't a post about Consoles though, so I'm going to largely skip over that facet.
When the controls are wonky,it because just about immediately apparent. Within seconds a game can go from a pleasant experience to something worthy of fits of rage that send Cheetos and empty Mountain Dew cans scattering across the desk and floor. No Mom, I didn't die in Counter Strike again, I'm just sick of shitty controls! Suddenly your basement suite isn't so peaceful anymore.
How could they get bindings for such a common piece of hardware wrong? This is why I developed a guide, a visual sort of guide to this quirky thing: the QWERTY keyboard!
Here we are, face to face with that all to familiar interface. It does more than just help you enter your passwords, type emails to the grandparents and reward yourself for your thoughtfulness by helping you browse porn. It also controls your in game character and collects Doritos crumbs. Let's have a close look shall we? No, not at the crumbs or those weird sticky spots that you swear must be from "soda". The layout is what we're here for.
Where do we start? Well, if you take a typing class, the first thing they'll teach you is where to find the Home Keys. These are the keys where your fingers will spend the majority of their time and where you can most easily reach the rest of the keys with minimal strain. For typists, these are ASDF and JKL; or some shit like that. Gamers have a very different set of home keys. We also generally only use one half of the keyboard, the other hand remaining on the mouse. For the purpose of this demonstration, we're going to focus on the most common scheme, which is referred to as WASD. Let's highlight those home keys now...
Hey wait a tick! Didn't I say the Home Keys are W, A, S, and D? Why is SHIFT and the SPACEBAR highlighted and why not S? What happened here?
A couple things. First, place your middle finger on W. Now place your ring finger on A and your index finger on D. Where does your thumb and pinky finger land naturally? If you're like me and a large majority of five fingered humanity you'll find that the thumb naturally lands on the SPACEBAR and the pinky finger finds the SHIFT key. The reason why S is excluded from the highlight is that at a normal resting position, the middle finger does not land there. You'll use it, probably often, but it's not the starting position. The S key is also excluded from the rest of this guide because it is something of an exception. While not part of the Home Keys, it's not part of the other key sets that I will discuss later either.
When setting up the control scheme for your game, this is where players are going to start, it's what they will expect and if you do differently, you may have already made a bad impression. It's highly recommended to start here. Something of note, as a general rule, proximity to these home keys plays a major role in the classifications. Closer is better but again, there are exceptions.
So you've got your basic movement keys down. You're moving in two dimensions, three with the help of the SPACE BAR if it allows you to jump, and you're sprinting along happily with the SHIFT key or something like that. Naturally, those keys don't necessarily have to work as a sprint and jump key, but you get the picture. It's really a matter of what the player will be doing more than anything else and if that's sprinting/jumping or dodging/farting it makes no difference; but I digress.
Now you're ready for some other controls. You are ready to start switching weapons, crouching, throwing grenades, picking flowers and singing songs - whatever it is that your going to do almost as frequently as running and jumping. These are what I call the Accessory Keys.
You may have noticed that not all the keys one over from the home keys have been highlighted. This is because the human hand does not always move like that and in fact some keys are just plain old inconvenient. Let me show you:
Exercise 1: Place your fingers on the home keys. Now, without lifting your middle or ring finger, reach for the keys E, R and F. Pretty easy huh? Now move your ring finger up to the Q key. You'll also find that the pinky finger slides easily to the CTRL key without moving your ring, middle and index fingers from your home keys.
Exercise 2: Now place your fingers back on the home keys. Move your index finger down to the C key. Feel a little cramped? Return to the home keys and try to hit X without moving your thumb.
See? Proximity != ease of access.
Keys 1,2, and 3 also do not make the cut because to access them, you must remove your finger from W, which is normally used for moving forward. In order to access these keys easily without standing still, you must use your other movement keys. Not everyone has an issue with mashing the number keys in the middle of a firefight, but there are a lot of gamers who will fumble, particularly casual gamers.
There is a fine line between these keys and the next set. It can be largely subjective based on how mutated you are or how much practice you have but on average, these Accessory keys are the most convenient to use after the home keys.
Now we have the keys that I will refer to as the Info and Options keys.
These keys are best suited for the third tier of usage. This includes things like switching between weapon slots, active powers, going prone, and setting up your bipod before you mow people down like they are overgrown weeds. These also include important functions like chatting, checking scoreboards, checking the overhead map, etc etc. These are sort of things you can do when you aren't in the middle of the action or in the case of the number keys, things you can do relatively quickly.
They still aren't as fast as the Accessory keys for the most part, but they are still convenient and accessible within reason. Again you'll notice that keys Z and X are still not included. While close to the C and ALT keys, they are not worthy of being with the Info and Options keys.
This is an important point. Developers take notice: Even at the third tier of control convenience, the Z and X keys are not included.
So what should they be used for and why stress this point? Well, let's get on with it then.
These keys fall into what I call the Zone of Despair.
I call it this because in almost all circumstances, it is not a viable option to lift your palm to wedge a thumb in to mash those keys. It's also a poor move to lift your finger from one of the home keys to try to press X and frankly, I'm tired of playing pinky-finger-twister to hit that Z key that is just out of reach.
X and Z have no place acting as a secondary or even - god forbid - primary usage key. These keys, though right below the home keys, are a task to access in high-action events in games. However, it is also important to note that this fact can be exploited in some instances for an almost favorable use.
Example A: Your game has some thing to do with space marines and aliens or some shit. You want the player to experience what it's like to fumble a bit with your equipment in a panic. The player can whip out his trusty welder and seal heavy metal doors shut. To do this he must put his gun away and focus on the task at hand. Instead of being able to quickly switch to the welder, you could have the player take his hand off his all important home keys to hit the Z or X keys. This makes the player think twice. Is losing that split second of maneuverability worth it?
Example B: Players are able to setup proximity mines and disguise them for other players to stumble upon to their doom. One can't expect even a professional to just whip out a mine and set it up in half a second. Have players press and hold X or Z to set it up.
STOP THE PRESSES!
"Sir, I have a question!."
"Yes?" "Why is it that the ALT key has not also been included in the Zone of Dispair when it is directly below the X key?"
"Good question, Timmy. I'll show you why. Here, place your fingers on the home keys." "Like this?"
"That's right. Now without moving your pinky, ring, middle or even the index finger, swing your thumb inward and place it on the ALT key. Notice how there's plenty of space in the arch of your fingers for this to happen?" "Wow! That sure is swell mister!"
"It sure is, boy! It sure is..."
No matter what manner you wish to use the X and Z keys in, if at all, let it not be a function that anyone will need frequently.
There is another reason to not use Z or X as well. It places the fingers in a dangerous position, far too close to the Key of Death.
The Key of Death is notorious. It's unforgiving, relentless and doesn't give a shit about your fun. It's purpose is to ruin a perfectly good gaming experience and it is otherwise known as the Windows key. It has other names for other operating systems, but that's not important. What is important is that when possible, it's not a bad idea to disable it entirely. I don't even have to explain why it's so bad. This is a gaming website and I'm sure you all know very well why it's so bad.
So there you have it - wait what? Oh right! I almost forgot. In Figure 5 we have another key being highlighted right there in the top left corner. See it?
This is what you could call the Utility key. It rarely gets any credit for being as useful as it can be. In many instances, particularly with games based on the Quake and Source engine, it brings up the console. The console is a handy dandy tool you can use to change system variables, run commands, find information about the game and the current server etc etc. It's wildly useful for things like troubleshooting.
Sometimes we forget that though access to information can lead to hacks and pirating, it also is very appreciated when a user is able to find exactly what they need or fix something without messing with a bunch of menus. It's fast, sometimes efficient, and in many cases lets the host of a server or game control their environment for the (hopefully) better experience for everyone else.
It's not important in the usual gaming scene, but having the option available is better than any support ticket system
Now, let's bring it all back together and put it all into perspective.
As the colors go from cool blue to red along the spectrum, they go from very accessible to rage-quit.
If you're a game developer and are looking for some tips on how to setup your control scheme to match what players are generally going to want, I suggest following these examples.
Happy gamers are happy consumers and happy consumers keep you employed (and happy).
In any case, I was only able to attend Pax East this sunday, so unfortunately I did not have a chance to meet up with any of my fellow D-toiders or anything cool like that. Mostly I just walked around and made my shy friends pose with lovely women (these pictures I've omitted from my gallery for their privacy.)
That and get lost... like constantly. I randomly stumbled into the Q and A with Tycho and Gabe, as well as a few other panels. I didn't get the chance to play much of anything, since I was mostly exploring and picking up the swag.
What was particularly interesting was the dominance of free to play games at Pax. Of the largest and most active booths, the top three probably belonged to Firefall, Vindictus, and Dragon Nest (Vindictus and Dragon Nest both being Nexon games.) The wait for Portal 2 was about 2 hours long, so I didn't bother, and I couldn't be assed to deal with the wait for other booths like The Darkness II and that Pokeshit.
Best in Show has to go to Duke Nukem Forever though. Nexon gave me two free shirts, but the Nukem booth gave me something to gawk at in sheer disbelief.
It was a good experience for anyone that missed it - Ha ha! - and I'll definitely be attending again next year.
This is my first VideoBlag of what could be several.
The purpose of this was the introduce a character that I have been playing with for somewhere around a month now. What makes Fiona of the Vindictus video game so worth pointing out? She's much closer to what I'd expect of a female warrior who is ACTUALLY going to see combat.
She wears heavy metal armor, wields a shield, and isn't blatantly regarded as a sex object like most female video game characters. Developers, I know you get a lot of money out of your sexy, bouncy cute femme fatale but it's very refreshing to see a strong female character again.
Fiona is from Vindictus, a Freemium game by Nexon.
What is Freemium?
A Freemium game is a game type that is free to download and free to play but with perks for people who want to pay for premium content, thus Free-Mium.
Cut and edited this together while killing time before PAX East.