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6:20 PM on 04.28.2010  

Another Anthony Go Bye-Bye Post

Fuck it.

I spend a lot of time regretting things. Not super-cool consequential things like bungee jumping or quitting my job or going to France for a year or throwing off societal conventions. Dull, awkward, English stuff like making stupids in public or losing good friends. But I am going to write this article, regret be damned. Left-brain, shut the fuck up for a minute. I want to say something.

I came to Destructoid because of Anthony. This article was my introduction to 3 years of immersion in a gaming culture that has immeasurably changed my life. In those 3 years, Anthony has managed to put into words all the things I believe about gaming culture, game design and game writing in a way that I cannot, and that is so indescribably satisfying. Hereís a picture of a duckling I stole from deviantArt to leaven the tone of the article.



With the exception of the Braid HAWP (seriously, what the fuck were you thinking), every article, every video and every podcast that Anthony has made or been involved with I have enjoyed, and in some cases, been genuinely provoked into thinking about or considering the shit that I play for more than 10 seconds. Iíve improved my standards, Iíve started playing indie games and started donating to indie developers because of his words. Half my film collection I own on his recommendation. I am still trying to find a copy of Surf Nazis Must Die.

Podtoid has also been a fucking revelation. I could have 2 hours of the cast bullshitting about their week and be happy. I cannot explain the effect that the show has had, but it suffices to say that the dynamic the show has had for the past year or thereabouts has made me a happy little boy every week, and that's good enough.



Now, as you may have noticed, Anthony isnít dead, so this will probably continue. If heís working on a game, chances are that I will buy that game. Nonetheless, there will be a distinct void here, like when someone gets out of prison and theyíve lost that innocent part of their brain and now they can never look at life the same way again. Destructoid has lost an intelligent, eloquent writer, and while I know itís the same Destructoid, something is going to be very different, and it won't ever feel quite the same. The change is going to be nothing short of profound.



Gonna miss you Burch. Good luck.   read


6:35 PM on 04.01.2010  

Why The Fifth Element is the Beyond Good & Evil of Films



I just watched The Fifth Element for the first time since I forgot that it existed, and now that I am experienced enough to comprehend its profound artistic achievements, I aim to bring you the long awaited and totally necessary comparison with a game I like that conclusively proves this one thing is exactly like the other, except in the ways in which it is not.

In a lot of ways, the artistic and authorial direction in both T5thE and BG&E induce identical feelings of awe, immersion and character empathy, but who gives a bitch about all that. Youíre here for the same reason I am; because itís Thursday afternoon and youíre bored and you want something that sounds like something Jim Sterling would have written before he became an intellectual pussy.


They both use famous philosophical quotes


Anyone with an English college degree can recognise witty historical references in their pop culture. I donít have one of those, but it doesnít take a genius to recognise the great teachings of Sun Tzu in ďGit out of there. I donít want a incident.Ē Or the common political philosophy by Thomas Jefferson ďJAMBOLIAAAAHH!Ē It is in this quality that they stand apart from their respective mediums, for only a fool would miss such wistful shit as ďYeah SHE KNOWS itís a Multipass.Ē


Both have Jamaican mechanics


Jamaicans are not known for their mechanical abilities, or anything at all for that matter apart from choosing unconventional haircuts to offend old people with. Our two resident artistic opuses - or opera - are set to fix that; by painting them as the kind of slur-speaking, fume-huffing, lazy illiterate weirdoes that all mechanics are famously known as being. In a time where political correctness is so valuable, itís nice to see these progressive paragons doing their bit to make all races feel inferior and worthless.


Healthcare


This point is to prove that I have a grasp on current events. I have a grasp on current events.


Luc Besson stole the premise from BG&E anyway


A rational man would say that stereotypes are unanimously always correct. The known stereotype of France is that they ride around with onions and blue striped tops, but that doesnít support my hyperbolic, attention-grabbing title. To combat this, Iíve decided that all French steal things; a fact that makes perfect sense if you use Logic, an arcane divination that I just found on Wikipedia. Michel Ancel is also French, which makes it double-fact.


They both have flying taxis


LOOK AT THE FLYING TAXIS OH GOD ITíS ALL THE DISSAPOINTMENT OF TODAY WITH THE TECHNOLOGY OF TOMORROW   read


12:03 PM on 02.09.2010  

Icycle. Mind. Blown.



I havenít done this in a while. Still a bit tender. A little unrefined. A game that makes you start writing again is one that you donít want to fuck up, so bare with me if this sounds a little off.

Icycle is a short Flash game that you should play if you like videogames. You should play it now, and then come back to me when youíre done. It takes an approach to pacing and style that Iíve never seen before - at least, never done so gracefully and perfectly.

For instance, it does that thing where you have to die at least once to realise you werenít in fact supposed to do that. Under typical circumstances, this would diminish everything the game works towards, yet with Icycle, it aids in crafting the intended tone. Death is often bizarre or fantastical, provoking mirth instead of irritation. The humour diffuses any sense of failure, while at the same time, reinforcing the rules of the game. In doing so, the gameplay acquires a texture, rather than the polarising mechanic of winning / losing.



Icycle also incorporates the exploration style of games like Knytt and Small Worlds. It never uses words to tell a story - instead it is told through the graphics, the environment and the set pieces you pass by. A world is presented to you that is charming and rich, without a drop of inflection needed to infer its characteristics.

There is one other thing that Icycle performs in - and performs so well that it makes you wonder why this approach to linearity has taken so long, and it makes you retroactively wish side-scrolling games had learned this long ago. The mechanics of Icycle prevent you from going anywhere but right, thus allowing you to be drip-fed a certain style of gameplay. Youíll speed off an ice block, land on a crumbling cliff and only just bounce up onto a stable outcrop. Youíll have to delicately navigate huge expanding iceflows at just the right speed to prevent yourself from either falling to your death or being trapped into the enclosing ice. Each of the eight levels are short, but every one offers something new, and takes your understanding of the game or the world or the mechanics to a new place.



So thatís the article. Did I do it right? Was I too pretentious? That last paragraph was too long, I know it. I should probably also ask what you think or something. Damn, I probably need to practice more. On the plus side, at least I used the words Ďjustí and Ďkindaí less this time. Gotta control that shit.   read


8:00 PM on 11.03.2009  

L4D2 Demo: Play As Infected and Other Hacks

Edit: Looks like this came out two days ago, sorry if this is old news.

It happened last year with L4D, and now it's happening again this year with another woefully insecure demo for public dissection. If you've played through the demo a couple of times (which would be a fine stunt considering the occasionally broken lobby system) and feel like playing as the new infected, then download this mod and gather a bunch of friends to do the things zombies do to survivors.

- First things first, once your L4D2 demo has downloaded, right click on it, go to Properties > Updates and turn off automatic updates. I guarantee you this will be patched in the days or weeks to come; you'll thank me for this later.
- Second of all, go here and download this file.
- Thirdly, unzip the file into you Left 4 Dead 2 demo 'addons' folder. That's the hard part done.
- Now, start the game.
- Go to Options > Keyboard > Allow Developer Console and change it to 'enable'.
- Press the ` or ~ key (the key next to 1 and above tab, 'tilde' on American keyboards) to open the console
- Type... plugin_allow_remote_commands 1
plugin_cvar sb_all_bot_team 1

- Start a single player game or local multiplayer lobby
- Open the console again and type "set_infected 1"

You can also enable cheats, although not in exactly the same way as before. Valve has disabled cheats directly, but you can still enable them by creating a 'listen server', whatever one of those is. Anyway, here's how you get around it:

- Open the console and type... "map e5m1..." and select the first map from the drop down menu.
- Once in game, type in "sv_cheats 1" and you're away.

You can spawn items by typing "give ..." (with a space afterwards) and selecting the appropriate item. You can spawn infected by typing "z_spawn ..." and adding the name of whichever infected you choose and there are of course all the cheats from L4D which carry over, with a whole bunch more as well. I'm going to set up a script for this to make it easier to execute and add a list of fun commands tomorrow. In the meantime, get yourself infected and start breaking bones.   read


7:13 PM on 09.29.2009  

Left 4 Dead: Crash Course



Crash Course is good. Very good. I'd go so far as to say that, with the exception of certain moments in the other campaigns, it is the best versus campaign I've played so far. It combines the best elements of versus and compresses them. This does a number of things. For one, it obviously means the maps are more concise. You can play a round of versus and not feel obligated to play and play until your infant children have starved or your family members physically pull you away in a fiery commotion of tears and psychiatry or maybe that's just me.

The less obvious side effect is that it allows overlap between the memorable moments of L4D, which is definitely a positive. A witch attack will be lined up side by side with a car alarm, which is right next to an errant gas can that a smoker is going to pull you though. Instead of each moment being a separate event, everything is going on at once. The peaks and valleys are still there, but they are swifter; amplified by the campaign's length.



Things I liked about Crash Course.
- The level design. There are plenty of cars, alarms, high roofs, tight corners and precarious ledges that make the jobs of each special infected more accessible and increase the risk to the survivors. At the same time, there are now more routes to take, with subtle sandbox elements that prevent overt camping and stacking.
- The atmosphere. This campaign feels to me like a better representation of the Zombie Apocalypse (capitalised) than the other levels. Crash Course is brimming with history and implied story.
- The humour. The dialogue has been expanded upon for Crash Course with additional writing on the walls and survivor remarks, which are fucking awesome. I won't spoil this for you, but you'll appreciate the detail.
- It's free. This isn't something I'd explicitly pay for. It's good, but it is only two chapters. It's appreciated content and the reason why Valve is the only company who ever gets my money on day one.

Things I didn't like so much about Crash Course.
- The art style. The levels are still very blue, and sometimes they are orange. I'm kinda sick of that colour scheme. I liked the green and brown pallet of Blood Harvest and the rich oranges of Dead Air. When I saw the live stream, I thought I was watching No Mercy.
-The humour. Yes I know I said I liked it. But there are a few jokes that jar with me. The "I love Helicopters!" exchange is the perfect example of how not to roll with a meme.
- The length. I really wanted three chapters. I was holding out for an announcement that there would be a third, but unfortunately that didn't happen. There is plenty of content to warrant replay, but hopping back and forth between the two chapters will get old.
- The connection problems. I didn't much like spending an hour downloading from the Tiwan, Polish, Irish and Singapore servers because all the UK bandwidth was being used. To eventually get into the game and realise that there were no servers available except local hosts was little comfort. Every game I have played, I haven't gotten under a ping of 150.



In conclusion, Crash Course has some issues, but trumps them by being awesome, and who gives a shit anyway you malicious bastard. It's free and brilliant so shut your whore mouth. Unless you have a 360, in which case, don't buy it, unless you really don't have anything else you want to spend the moon money on.   read


6:53 AM on 09.29.2009  

L4D Crash Course Live Stream

Xbox 360 users can download and play Crash Course right now. For us PC troglodytes, we have to wait till valve feels like giving us the update. So to tide us over, here is a live stream of the game being played.

[embed]150361:23088[/embed]   read


5:28 PM on 09.14.2009  

Riff.



Riff could be a really shitty game. You might refer to it as completely unremarkable and emotionally paralytic. I wouldnít even call it a great amount of fun, not compared to the standards that some free games have. You might also want to mute the game, because the music is annoyingly characteristic, you cannot mute it and plays on a goddamn loop. Simply, it doesnít do a great deal new or well. What it does do is take the kind of fast-paced puzzle solving that you might get from games like Audiosurf and Bejewelled, and presents it in a clinical environment for short bursts of entertainment.

Itís the kind of game you put on for 5 minutes on the bus or while youíre waiting for something to download. You can get it here. You might like it a little bit. I think this is possibly the worst article Iíve ever written. Even worse than that fucking pub joke. Donít ask.   read


4:47 AM on 07.24.2009  

Left 4 Dead 2: Grenade Launcher (video heavy)

[embed]141208:20899[/embed]

Tonnes of Left 4 Dead 2 footage here, the main one showing off the new nade launcher. Can't honestly see it's purpose in-game but who cares; it's a nade launcher. Maybe it'll be useful for clearing crowds of infected from an incapped survivor, or maybe it'll be used to cut down a charging tank. Who knows? Whatever the case, it'll mainly be used to grief people.

[embed]141208:20900[/embed]
This video shows off the new improved AI fire mechanics. Great stuff!

[embed]141208:20906[/embed]
Here is another new gun - not an AK47, but close to it. Gorgeous graphics as well.

[embed]141208:20904[/embed]
This is a nice, slow paced video. Gives you a chance to admire the details.

[embed]141208:20905[/embed]
This is my favourite video; it looks gorgeous fullscreen.

There are a load more, so if you really cannot get enough Left 4 Dead 2 footage, here are some links:
More Gameplay
Chet Faliszek Interview - GamePro
Doug Lombardi Interview - G4TV
Spitter / Charger Gameplay - Gametrailers (the one you've seen already)   read


5:01 PM on 07.08.2009  

Rohrer / Crawford Discussion Here

[embed]139045:20454[/embed]
The full video is at the bottom of this post.

A very nice German friend of mind and budding contender with Adam Dork for Loveliest Man Alive has recorded, synced and uploaded the interview with and discussion between Jason Rohrer and Chris Crawford. It even has German subtitles so you can learn how to send poorly structured angry emails to the German government at the same time. Practical and exciting!

The interview is an hour and takes a while to download, and it may take a while to kick in if tonnes of people are trying to download it at once. The site is also kinda slow, so click once and be patient. I highly recommend you take a look. Download it here.

Edit: Don't be surprised if this gets taken down soon.   read


10:04 AM on 06.14.2009  

Connections: Jade Empire to Left 4 Dead

What the fuck is this? Iíll tell you. Itís a thing where I trawl IMDB with the intent to link two games together via their themes, names, cast and crew. Itís not meant to be short or direct, itís designed to be exploratory; discovering weird shit you didnít know about. I recommend doing this passively, in your own time. Thereís a lot to be discovered.



Sherman Howard worked on Jade Empire, having also worked on a ridiculous number of sequels including Jak and Daxter 2, Devil May Cry 2, Summoner 2 and Red Alert 2. In Red Faction 2, he played the role of chancelor Sopot - the charismatic and well scripted Stalin-esque villain of the game. Quite a number of celebrity voices were used in Red Faction 2, such as Lance Henriksen and Jason Statham, but one actor stands out among the Imdb listings as being the only one without a portrait photo - David Thomas.

This is probably because he seems to exclusively do game voiceovers. His library of work is broad, covering many familiar games in many different genres. Chaos Legion, Enter the Matrix, Gabriel Knight 3 and a Might and Magic game, as well as having worked in other big franchises such as Metal Gear Solid and Diablo II. He also played the lead voice in Freedom Fighters, the first game by IO Interactive that wasn't a Hitman game.

Nicolas Worth played a Colonel in Freedom Fighters, similar to his role as Premier Alexander Romanov in Red Alert 2. He was a charming and charismatic character in the Red Alert universe, however, this was his last acting role as he died in May of 2007. This is why he was tactfully omitted from Red Alert 3.



Udo Kier who plays Yuri, has been in a few recent films, the most relevant to us being Uwe Boll's Bloodrayne and Far Cry films. Incidentally, a name that jumped out at me while browsing the Far Cry game was Robert Burns, who it turns out, played the same character. He also played the excellent role of Pey'j in Beyond Good and Evil, alongside Jodie Forrest and David Gasman. This duo has quite a few common productions; XIII, Rayman, Fahrenheit, Syberia II, Dark Earth and a cartoon series called Code Lyoko. But as you starts to explore this space, it becomes apparent that many of these actors are recycled from one production to the next. Sharon Mann, Allan Wenger, Matthew Gťczy, Christian Erickson, Barbara Scaff and Paul Bandey are all also seen in many of the same games and shows.

One for example, is Dark Messiah, which I refuse to afix "of Might and Magic" to because it fuck all to do with that franchise, except the abysmal voice acting. It is a feat how they managed to be completely faithless to the source material except in what is possibly the blandest, weakest area of the game. Speaking of sequels that aren't, Far Cry 2 is notable for its long list of voices, none of whom are credited for individual roles. So let's just pick one at random. Don Jordan. The last video game he worked on, prior to Far Cry 2 was Splinter Cell: Double Agent.

Dwight Schultz provided voice for Double Agent, but using him is like a goddamn wild card. He has done voice for so many games that you can pretty much just pick and choose as you wish. He voiced Paulie in The Darkness, and The Darkness itself was voiced by Mike Patton. He seems to specialise in growly, sinister sounds, which explains why he did the Anger Sphere in Portal, and also contributed to the sounds of the Infected in Left 4 Dead.



So, here is the final and complete list of links:
1. Jade Empire
2. Sherman Howard
3. Red Faction II
4. David Thomas
5. Freedom Fighters
6. Nicholas Worth
7. Red Alert II
8. Udo Kier
9. Far Cry
10. Robert Burns
11. Beyond Good and Evil
12. David Gasman
13. Fahrenheit
14. Any of those people
15. Dark Messiah of Fuck All Yíall
16. Far Cry 2
17. Don Jordan
18. Splinter Cell: Double Agent
19. Dwight Schultz
20. The Darkness
21. Mike Patton
22. Left 4 Dead

Random facts from this list:
- Someone called ďLuc BerandĒ provided voice for BG&E.
- Mike Patton is doing voice for that awesome looking Edge of Twilight game.
- Tyrone Benskin was listed under Far Cry 2. He was the Persian emissary in 300.
- Michael Ironside (Sam Fisher) was also in Tiberium Wars, and Joseph Kucan (Kane) directed the Red Alert series of cinematics.
- David Gasman played both Lucas and Tyler in Fahrenheit.
- Many of the actors in this list are somehow associated with something called Largo Winch, whatever that is.
- I nearly met Udo Kier once. I just couldn't bring myself to walk the 100 metres from where I was to where he was like a shameless fanboy.



I like Left 4 Dead.   read


7:57 PM on 06.04.2009  

You ever wonder what the bottom of an avatar's shoe looks like?

[embed]134980:19856[/embed]   read


1:38 PM on 05.09.2009  

5 Reasons Why That BG&E Trailer Could Be In-Engine

[embed]131551:19203[/embed]

It would be naive to assume that this is in-game footage. Aside from the obviously scripted camera, the animation looks a little too smooth, the physics a tad too realistic and the vistas a bit too gorgeous. But scripted events can still be rendered in-engine; they donít necessarily require a ray tracer. In this complete waste-of-time blog, I hope to provide support for the theory that this footage could be in engine after all.

1. Shaders


Using a raytracer method of shading, you will always have a perfect, flawless finish, unless the raytracer in question is shit. With that in mind, take a look at the screenshot above. Note the bread-knife serrated edge of that shader, something that you would not find in any pre-rendered cinematic, but is highly likely to be found in the typical pixel shader of any recent release you care to mention.

2. Shadows

It isnít very clear as a screenshot, so if you want, look at this moment during the trailer. The shadow against the wall is somewhat odd for a video game engine, wouldnít you say? It seems to be a radiosity shadow, something thus far unique to pre-rendered CG, more or less anyway. However, if you look at detail, youíll notice that it is, in fact, just one silhouette shadow multiplied a few times, which if I might observe, is fucking clever. Though this may subconsciously contribute to your belief that this is pre-rendered, it is entirely possible in a real-time engine.

3. Assets


The plant in this picture is a bit jaggy. Look, shut up for a second. Pre-rendered trailers donít use low poly objects - so this is likely an in game asset. Occasionally, pre-rendered trailers will use in game objects and meshes, such as the Left 4 Dead opening scene, but these rare. You can count on something external from the game engine to look far more defined.

4. Look to the ubidays trailer


The trailer at Ubidays was revealed by Ubisoft to be entirely in-engine. There is a similar style and graphical prowess between the footage we saw over a year ago and the video leaked yesterday. Also, notice the presence of all the things I mentioned above in the debut trailer, the shading techniques and the very noticeable vertices in certain areas. I even remember a similar debate over this back then, before we knew that it was in engine.

5. You wouldnít question it otherwise


If this was CG, youíd know it. Developers spending the money on CG want to make the most out of it; they will make it look far more cinematic and complex. Rendered trailers are approached from an entirely different angle because of their vastly broader potential.

All I'm trying to do here is put across the possibilities and the evidence so that you don't feel quite so stupid when it turns out you were wrong. It will probably turn out that it is pre-rendered and this entire post will have been complete and utter bullshit. At which point, I, as well as everyone else who tried to legitimately defend it, will look like unintelligible reactionary husks and any of us with a sense of dignity will be forced to commit sepuku to get over it. Or possibly just humbly admit fault, but you never know with the kind of psychos that comprise the BG&E fan community.   read







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