I still think the title sounds like a Quake Mod

8 05 2016

Over the past few weeks I’ve been playing a ton of new games, or games that are new to me. The most recent acquisition for me has been Rocket League (hence the title of this blog post), which is now also probably one of the biggest threats to any of my further productivity.

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So cool

There isn’t much else I can say about Rocket League that hasn’t already been said. It’s an excellent “sports” game without really being sports. Since instead of human athletes you have cars driving around trying to knock a ball into a goal in a massive game of soccer. There also exists a hockey game type as well, and they just recently added 2-on-2 basketball. I’d say the basketball mode is probably the most difficult since with the other two modes you’re mostly dealing in horizontal shooting, Basketball (or Hoops, as they call it in-game) requires you to master being able to get the ball into the air so that it goes in the hoop.

 

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Everybody get up it’s time to slam now

The nice thing about Rocket League aside from its relatively quick matchmaking and match runtime (5 minutes per match not counting OT), it’s that the game is simple to learn but difficult to master. I’ve only played it about 3 hours but I’ve already definetely got a good grasp on the basics and even some more advanced stuff. It’s easy to see why this became a breakout hit especially in the context of eSports. I highly recommend it to anyone. It’s usually $20 which is already a good deal but it also goes on sale fairly frequently so if you want to save a bit wait until Steam’s Summer Sale hits.

I’ve also been playing another competitive multi-player game, The Culling. The Culling is basically your standard Hunger Games/Battle Royale scenario, a bunch of people trapped in a given space (in this  case a portion of jungle) forced to scrounge for supplies and fight against one another until one person lives. You can craft weapons, gear, and armor but for the best chances of winning you’re better off finding weapons either in crates or just looting them off people unfortunate enough to get killed by you or by others.

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How irresponsible to just leave a Calvary saber lying around like this.

The game is still in early access so there’s a lot of jank, combat still isn’t quite locked down but it’s still a lot of fun and definitely worth the $15 it retails for. There’s both free for all and team battles, and so far I’ve only won one of each in about 14 hours of play. But you’re still guarenteed to unlock a cosmetic item no matter what so even when you lose you still win.

Next up is Dodge Roll Games Rougelike Bullet Hell Twin Stick Shooter “Enter the Gungeon”. Tough as hell (which is why it’s only 5 levels long I suppose) and I still haven’t had a clear run. Then again in terms of Roguelike-ish games I think the only one I’ve really beaten was FTL. The game is a lot of fun though. It controls really well, the graphics are nice, and the nice referential touches for the massive number of guns and enemies in the game is really on-point.

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Lastly I’ve been playing Star Fox Zero, the much-awaited (at least for me) next entry in Nintendo’s Star Fox franchise. This game is understandably polarizing due to things like the controls being too complicated and the controls not being complex enough. As well as things like it being too much like Star Fox 64 and not enough like Star Fox 64. In case you haven’t figured it out yes I am making fun of people for fans of this series being really fickle and having no idea what they want (and people who play games in general, really).

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As someone who tried and failed to grasp the gyro aiming controls of Splatoon, I had no such problem with Star Fox Zero’s controls. Yeah it kinda sucks that gyro aiming is mandatory but I dealt with it because damnit I care about this series and as long as the controls aren’t the actually unnecessary garbage that was Star Fox Command’s forced touch controls I will deal with it. The game plays great, looks great, and the people who dump on it  unnecessarily are the same kind of people who already hate  Platinum’s games so why do you even listen to them?

That said it’s not perfect and I definitely think that while it’s probably an 8/10 for me it’s most likely a 7/10 for most people. I do hope it does well enough to get a true sequel and hopefully move the story in a direction that isn’t “directly off a cliff” like Star Fox Adventures did.

 

 





What a difference a week makes

10 04 2016

So in the time between my last blog post and now the following has happened

  1. I moved back to Massachusetts, for a few reasons, primarily financial and also
  2. I got a job with Subatomic Studios doing QA work. Circular path? Maybe, but I’m enjoying it far more than what I’ve been doing work-wise the last three years.

In addition to that, I’ve also been messing around with Wings3D and Blender some more, trying to get back into the mindset of creating things even if they turn out garbage. A prime example of that being something I made last week. This box.

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This box is dangerous(ly) ugly.

You can’t really see it from this angle but I did a really bad job of UV mapping it and really it’s not all that visually interesting.

But today, I decided to persevere and try again. Same Geometry, but now with a different approach to texturing using things like layer maps. The results are..quite satisfying to say the least.

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Enjoy this new and improved crate

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Closer view for Detail

This was a fun learning experience (despite it still taking several hours to do), and I also learned how to better use Blender Cycles for rendering to make things look better. Hopefully now that I’m back “home” and motivated I’ll be making more stuff both artistically and design-wise.





Nuclear Throne has suddenly gotten addictive

19 03 2016

For the last few days I’ve been getting more and more engrossed in Vlambeer’s roguelike twin-stick shooter Nuclear Throne. This is odd to me because when I first acquired the game almost a year ago I played it for maybe an hour and it didn’t really hook me. Now though I seem to spend on average an hour a day playing it, trying to get better each time. I think I know why this has happened.

In the earlier builds of Nuclear Throne you had access to just about every character right from the get-go. While this was good for figuring out playstyles and ideal strategies, it also paralyzed me with choices and options. However when i restarted the game recently, I only had access to two characters at the start, and had to unlock more as I went. Sometimes this happens through normal progression, and sometimes this happens because you found a hidden area. With this added incentive to play (since obviously reaching the end every time is not going to happen) I find it a lot easier to get into the game and keep playing it. It’s only $12 on Steam and it’s definitely worth it if you like fast-paced shooters and also like roguelike elements in games. It’s also another example of a great game made with Game Maker Studio, joining other examples like Risk of Rain, Undertale, and Hotline Miami.





Raiders of the Digital Coast

15 03 2016

This is going to be a weird article to type but it’s something I’ve been mulling over for a while. It’s about software piracy, but it’s more of a historical take on it rather than any outright moralizing (though I would be remiss to not talk about that too but that’ll be at the end).

So, I’m sure a lot of people these days are familiar with the various forms of Digital Rights Management, from the relatively benign (Steam), to the very bad (Starforce, SecuROM, UbiSoft’s various implementations, etc.). But to be honest a lot of this stuff is at least a lot less tedious than the ways games used to protect against piracy.

CD Keys are something most people these days still have familiarity with of course; having to enter a series of alphanumeric characters roughly on the same level of complexity as the passwords for some NES games, but even those weren’t like the early days.

In the old days the most basic way to protect people from copying and distributing your game was through “manual protection”. Basically the player would need to enter a particular word from the game manual (like the 7th word in the 2nd paragraph on the 14th page or something like that), or perhaps answer some question regarding a particular fact from said manual (the original DOS Mechwarrior was like this, asking you to enter the height or weight of certain battlemechs, for example). This of course was easily defeated by a photocopier. Not that photocopying was widespread or cheap in the late 1980s/early 1990s, but it was still doable. Some companies sorta put a twist on this trend by having quizzes at the start of the game, but for age verification purcahses. The Leisure Suit Larry games had a quiz full of questions that, in theory, only adults could answer. Of course this could also be bypassed by asking your dad although I’m sure that was a weird conversation in the making:

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Dad how do you wear just your pride? Also what’s a stripper?

As the manuals were defeated the developers naturally changed tactics. Black and White manuals gave way to full color manuals with color-based verification (usually matching a picture or design that could vary in color) and code wheels. Code wheels required users to match up contextual clues from the screen in order to verify them. There were things like the Dial-A-Pirate code wheel from monkey island, to the cryptoquizzical ones like this thing from Pool of Radiance:

Even if I knew the context I'm not sure I can understand.

Even if I knew the context I’m not sure I’d get it

Again both of these could be defeated by photocopying, but they weren’t as easy (again, color copying back then was even rarer than b&w). Granted depending on the level of colors needed for verification one could easily get past it (using only two colors, for example, since even on a black and white copier you still had shades).

Anyway, let’s get to my experience. My dad worked for IBM for many years. This was in the days where IBM still made PCs so occasionally he’d  be able to take one home for a while or purchase one outright. It’s how I got to experience stuff like Tony LaRussa Baseball II, Wolfenstein 3D, Descent, the early days of the Internet, and many more games and applications. His coworkers also would frequently pass games around to one another, complete with photocopied manuals (in black and white, mind). This is how I was able to bypass things like this for Wayne Gretzky’s Hockey:

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Again it being only two colors is a bit of a mistake, a black and white copier can still make out the differences.

As well as a similar scheme for Joe Montana’s Football. Now I’m telling this story for a couple reasons, one of which being that software piracy has always existed, and also that even people in the industry would occasionally copy that floppy, despite what PSAs would tell us otherwise. It’s an interesting thing to be sure, that for as long as there’s been software there’s been software pirates. I don’t really remember what games cost back then (We did of course buy games on occasion but I was not paying for them) so it’s hard for me to say piracy was motivated by price back then. It could’ve been that plus a bit of the issue where getting reviews of anything back then would be difficult outside of a magazine, and I didn’t start reading stuff like PC Gamer and PC Entertainment until like 1996 (which of course also had demo discs). Also reading a bunch of british PC game mags  was a weird experience but that’s a story for another time.

Hm…I sorta ran out of things to say. Oh well. Photocopying manuals sure is a different beast from downloading a crack from some shady warez site. Probably safer too. Also if you must pirate games (cause let’s be honest, I can’t stop you) at least pay for a game if you end up liking it.





Plane Crazy

15 02 2016

So here’s what I’ve been working on recently. I finally finished the Core Fighter mod for Sky Rogue:

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Gundam sold separately.

The workshop page for it is located here. I’ve wanted to do a video but unfortunately my days off have been filled with doctor’s visits. Nothing serious, but time consuming nonetheless.

I also got back into my low-poly fighter project, separate from Sky Rogue (though possibly something I could mod in later)

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I decided to move a bit away from the LEGO aesthetic the ship had first been built in all those years ago, making it less blocky by adding some angles to the Fuselage. Then I UV textured it and, after grappling a lot with the Rendering plugins for Wings3D, I had some sort of result:

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With this paint job I was trying to go for a Chris Foss/Homeworld inspired livery. I don’t think I quite pulled it off though, but oh well. It’s still a valuable learning experience about a good many things and I plan to try to make this look better as well as maybe one day import it into Sky Rogue as a completely original craft.

 

 





Crawled out through the Fallout

25 01 2016

So Fallout 4 has been out a couple months now, I’ve put almost 3 days worth of combined playtime into it…and I’m still not done the main quest. Part of that is because of the massive amount of side content already in the game, part of it is getting distracted by the settlement mechanic, and part of it is due to the fact that the main questline starts out strong but tapers off fairly quickly. Minor spoilers follow after the jump

Read the rest of this entry »





Secret Project: Core Fighter mod for Sky Rogue

11 12 2015

So uh…it’s been a while. Again I apologize for my lack of online presence. I know a lot of people don’t read this but the ones that do should at least know what I’m up to.

The texture/material pack I did for submission to the Unity Asset Store was rejected. I know what I need to do to fix it though so that isn’t a huge deal. However retail work being what it is I wasn’t exactly prepared or had the time to fix the issues, so I instead started on another project.

After making the Sea Vixen mod for Sky Rogue I had thought for a while on what I wanted to make next. I knew I wanted something that was a bit less ambitious than the Sea Vixen’s asymmetry and dual-tail design, but at the same time I didn’t want something too simple. Fortunately the Core Fighter from the original Mobile Suit Gundam anime series fit the niche perfectly.

In Progress 1

The project also  gave me an opportunity to get better acquainted with how Wings3D works and I gotta say I might like it better than Blender, at least for generalized low-poly modeling and texturing. In addition, the symmetry of the ship also allowed me to do the UV mapping quicker by mapping half of the ship and then mirroring it. Not something you do a lot of the time nowadays but it’s perfect for the mid-90s Sega Arcade aesthetic the game goes for (and probably was done back then too for the sake of saving memory, unless all the graphics were done in code).

In Progress 2

In Progress 3

Granted I did have to make a lot more adjustments even afterwards to get everything to line up, but I think the end result was definetely worth it. I should be uploading the finished mod in a day or two, once I’m free enough from my retail obligations (and also once this cold stops kicking my ass).

Almost Done