Monthly Archives: May 2014

…and Everything Else

Thus concludes my first week of taking this blog seriously. I updated the stylesheet a little bit, created a Twitter, embedded the Twitter, added a YouTube widget, brought in some ads, made several posts, and began the work of establishing a schedule. I’ve got another post scheduled for Monday, and ideas for both a Wednesday and a Friday post.

This week I also ordered an Xbox 360 gamepad for the sake of continuing my Let’s Play of Rogue Legacy. I hope to also start one of Dark Souls (I’ve intentionally kept myself ignorant as to the game’s content to make for a better LP). A consideration I’ve had has been one of streaming on Twitch at least once a week. Fodder for that would likely be Spelunky, Minecraft, Quake, Doom, and who knows what else. These may or may not have commentary, as all I have at present is a webcam microphone.

As you can hear in that playlist, and some of this is just experience difference and tone of voice, but Jehar is loud and clear, where as I am muddled and mixed in with the game sound. Practice will help, but a proper dedicated mic will also help. So until that is the case, I will probably not be providing vocal commentary.

I hope to make this post a regular thing, as well as three or so normal posts a week, so you readers can reliably come here a few times of week for content.

The image up top is from the Battlefield 3 campaign, where I came across a bunch of NPCs T-posing in a rather creepy fashion.

The Epistemology of Multiplayer

There is a lot of faith in the gaming internet community, faith in persons, companies, and technologies. A lot of faith in the technology, such that any explanation as to why an outcome was arrived at is handled with a zealous response.

If you lost a gunfight, to explain what happened is to be a whiner. A response of qq would be had, no matter how reasoned, or accurate your explanation was. If you won it, to explain it beyond a claim of supremacy is to get muddled and take the game too seriously. In both cases, you are supposed to simply accept what has happened. The game has spoken, and that is the way things are, and any suppositions that the networking could have been structured differently, or the gameplay balanced in a way to overcome the flaws of a particular structure, are heretical. Continue reading

Games Can Do Better, and Should Aim for That

When are games going to improve? I mean no offense, and I don’t want to pick on any particular title or franchise, but that sentiment was inspired while watching TotalBiscuit’s video on Watch_Dogs. You can see it below, I only watched the first half.

It is a generally pretty game, though a bit hazy. But frankly, I look at it and see GTA with a cheat mod. You walk around in third person, you take cars on a whim, drive them, abandon them, get in third person gun fights – and as a twist you can command random items to explode, raise, lower, or change the traffic lights. GTA with a cheat mod. I know I am over simplifying, and I trust/hope the story has more to bring than that, but the game world acts as undeveloped as they did well over a decade ago.

Steal someone’s car? Other drivers keep on about their business. Drift into someone’s lane? Once again, not their problem. Drive through a city park? People within 10 yards will react, the rest casually wander. Driving down a side walk? People react only when you get near them. Obviously following someone? They only change behavior if it is part of a mission. Crash a boat into a river bank next to people? No big deal. Abandon said boat climbing up over railings? Still not a concern. Then break into someone’s car and drive off in it? No one cares.

Imagine an action or adventure movie. Spiderman 2 comes to mind, the train scene with Doctor Octopus. Now imagine if the inhabitants of that train remained idle in their seats, so long as Spiderman and Doctor Octopus weren’t within 10 yards of them. It would be bizarre. Aren’t those people actors? Act scared! The train is in danger! Your life is at risk! Yet in games, people are just roaming props until you get near them.

I appreciate that this is a hurdle, it is a challenge and a difficulty. But it is also the setting you have chosen. Watch_Dogs takes place in a city, a place renowned for the high population and of that population interacting. It is not simply skyscrapers.

I can pretend for a while, I can ignore the fourth wall and try to just play, but when so little progress has been made, when you still fail to simulate the basics of your setting, well, that is a principal failure. If you can’t manage it, make something different. See my post Indie Devs Seeking Asylum about choosing themes and settings matching that which you can pull off. Make games for their strong suits, and stop treating human characters like mobile fire hydrants.

Spoiler Warning – Game Journalism is Really Terrible

Recently there has been much ado about a Doom mod called Total Chaos – Overgrowth, thanks largely to the teaser video, which you can watch below:

It is a pretty good teaser, and the mod looks like it has potential. I enjoy the mood, the visuals, and the cited inspiration of STALKER.

What concerns me is the coverage of it. Kotaku titled it as such:

Doom “Mod” Makes The Game Look Very 21st Century

Rock Paper Shotgun titled it:

Astoundingly, Total Chaos Is A Doom II Mod

There seems to be doubt as to the term mod or the fact that it is Doom 2. The visuals, the result of artwork and post-processing, are incompatible in the minds of major game writers. Doom is a specific resolution and a specific setting. Surely this isn’t Doom. Yet it is. Yes it is using GZDoom for true mouselook (an actually major change considering how Doom fills a frame of data by not caring about vertical spaces beyond the current view) and many other features. But the project is still using WAD files (“Where’s All the Data”), the world is still composed of linedefs, sidedefs, and sectors. It is still a two-dimensional scene displayed with perspective and data tracked with a third dimension. Despite this, Kotaku doubted the use of the term mod (a Total Conversion is a more appropriate term, at least once they remove the player fall grunt) and Rock Paper Shotgun remarked on it as being astounding.

It looks great, it does. But it is a mod, and it isn’t astounding. It is a well scoped project playing to its strengths. Now if these were random internet comments, I could get past it a little. But these people are gatekeepers of information in gaming, and they might even call themselves journalist. Yet they haven’t the foggiest as to the basics of game development, or game technology. They don’t even understand what makes for game technology. They see pretty pictures and blurring, and suddenly it is advanced. Heaven forbid these people write for a car magazine, or they would give top ratings to everything with a flame paint job and a spoiler. Before you write about something, try to take five minutes to make sure you have some basic grasp of it. Read the wiki article on the Doom engine, it doesn’t take long and provides a great overview. Understand the differences between higher resolution textures, different rendering methods for that texture, and different types of world construction. If you don’t know even the basic fundamentals of how a game works beyond clicking PLAY in Steam or on your favorite console, if you aren’t comfortable with installing mods (not even making them) without using a self-unpacking installer, then perhaps you aren’t the best person to be writing about technical achievements in a release. Continue reading

A Personal Life Update

I have been absent for a while now. Life events. Work, writing for TruePCGaming, and the biggest of all was the last half of my wife’s pregnancy and the birth of my first child. Obviously these things consume time, but I hope to make a return to this blog soon, with at least weekly posts. Expect one later on this week. For anyone who still checks the site from time to time, thank you for your patience, I will try to reward it with more content.