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5:28 PM on 09.14.2009

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.

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.

This video shows off the new improved AI fire mechanics. Great stuff!

Here is another new gun - not an AK47, but close to it. Gorgeous graphics as well.

This is a nice, slow paced video. Gives you a chance to admire the details.

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)

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.

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.

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.