Mapmaking ADD

31 07 2009

Ok so Moai Caldera has kind of been stalled out because of my vacation and so forth, and now it looks like it might be further stalled out because I just came up with an idea for a payload map. Essentially the map takes place on a freighter carrying ballistic missiles, among other implements of war. BLU is assaulting the ship via helicopter, but the helicopter carrying the payload was shot down on the bow. The team must disembark from their other helicopters and push the payload cart all the way up the length of the vessel to the bridge, where it will detonate and render the ship inoperable. The idea being of course that BLU will be able to pilfer RED’s stash of missiles etc. from the vessel now that it’s been disabled. This would be a map that would be a bit of a challenge for the attackers, due to the number of chokepoints provided by such a vessel, as well as the final climb up the access ramps to the bridge of the freighter. But of course there would be numerous paths for the attackers to take to eliminate the defenses set up by the defending team, allowing the payload to advance forward.

I’ll probably end up starting this and then going back to Moai Caldera. I just need something to get me back into the mapmaking mood and out of this “i’m on vacation” mindset I seem to be stuck in.


Ideas and somesuch

26 07 2009

So I’ve been on vacation all this past week. It was ok. It gave me some time to relax which is important in between searching for jobs and working on various projects. I also came up with an idea for a business that has little to do with game design but might appeal to a gamers sense of collectivity.

Originally the idea was that it’d be a company that makes reproduction game boxes for those people who like showing off their game collections on shelves like I (and many others) do. Then I realized that would probably be expensive. So I thought, what about a website that allows users to create virtual shelf-space for their game collections? Sure it’s not as tangible but in this day and age where many people are wired to the internet it’d be a good idea, plus it would contain information about each game (release date, developer, publisher, etc.). Of course that’s about all I thought up so far, mostly because there probably isn’t much money in the idea and as much as I don’t like to put money first in an idea I am still looking for work and thus money is a bit of an issue at this point in time.

Speaking of, I’m still trying to get in touch with a couple people about possibly making a game for the Independent Games Challenge that Guildhall and Gamestop (among others) are co-sponsoring. I figure even though it’s a 2-month dev cycle that should be familiar to most veterans of WPI’s accelerated course schedule, no?

From Humble Beginnings

13 07 2009

Yes, I know I should probably be working on my TF2 map, but I want to flex my writing muscle a bit more in preperation for writing down a couple more ideas I’ve come up with, specifically while I’m on vacation next week and will have the time to do some serious writing. Course maybe this isn’t the best way to do it but whatever.

I thought I’d take the time to, at length, talk about the first video games I had ever played, and what impact they may have had on my gaming tastes in the future. I won’t cover everything but I’ll cover the big highlights and “firsts” as it were. I’ll go up a few years, since there’s quite a bit to cover.

1989-1990: The grey box that started it all
Moreso remembering 1990 than ’89, the first video game I had ever played was Super Mario Bros. for the NES. Yes I know that sounds incredibly cliche, but it’s true. Know what else I first played? Duck Hunt. Gotta love multi-game cartridges. I wasn’t any good at either game at that age (heck, I was only 3), but I had fun with it. And yes, I did do the incredibly cheap move of walking up to the TV and firing point-blank at it to win. At least until my aim improved (or as much as it could improve with zapper technology anyway).

Another game I wound up being introduced to at this time was another NES title, Maniac Mansion. Good lord I didn’t understand this game at all (I do now of course), but I was mostly playing it/goofing around so I could hear the individual musical themes for each character. Later in life when my friend introduced me to the sequel game, Day of the Tentacle, I was wowed by realizing that it was a sequel to Maniac Mansion, and also at the flat-out hilarity that LucasArts was capable of in their graphic adventure games. Of course by that time Adventure Games were on their way out but I’m glad they’re making a comeback of sorts now.

1990-1992: I get introduced to the Game Boy and stick with it as it runs over every other portable in its path
My older half-sister owned a game boy. It was through her I was introduced to two concepts

1. Games can be played on the go
2. Tetris is the most addictive game ever created and I’m very glad that the KGB never weaponized it.

Of course, Tetris wasn’t the only thing she had, she also had Hatris, which was like Tetris meets the Yoshi puzzle game but only with hats. Then there was Super Mario Land, which took me about 4 years to get good enough to beat (wheras the sequel was stupidly easy by comparison), and a few other games as well. By ’92 I had my own Gameboy and basically started running the gamut of various sports through Nintendo’s eyes including the following

-Baseball (Baseball)
-Racing (Super RC Pro-Am and F1 Race)
-Golf (Golf). Funny story about this one. I thought for the longest time, despite playing at least 3 golf games before I knew better, that the object was not to get the ball in the hole in the lowest number of strokes. Ah, the naivete of youth.

I also learned about the greatness of linkplay gaming, even at one point managing to get a 4-player game of F1 race going with that weird 4-way hub they had for the gameboy, which I guess was the closest thing to LAN gaming I would experience for years.

Speaking of other golf games, I almost completely forgot my first experiences with PC gaming. So let’s get to that. First game I can really recall playing, aside from built-in games like Minesweeper and OS/2 Chess, was Jack Nicklaus Golf. I used to fire up the New Zealand courses just to hit the sheep that dotted the landscape. Later versions of the game had a course designer that I messed around with out of curiosity. There was also Tony LaRussa Baseball II. It was a strange game to be sure in terms of other baseball games that were more uh…”current”, In Tony LaRussa Baseball II you were playing on much older baseball fields with teams that consisted of an “all-time all stars” of each respective franchise. But it was a lot of fun. It also came on six floppy disks, which was pretty much the standard for the time. I think I had to wait until we got a new computer 3 times over (my dad worked for IBM) before I could hear sound in the game but I didn’t necessarily need it.

Then came Wolfenstein. Yes, at the tender age of six my dad decided the best thing for me to do was slay a buttload of nazis for Christmas. Ok that’s not entirely true, he didn’t realize what the game was about (according to him). I think that’s a lie though because the floppy disk’s label clearly spelled out what the game was about and what you had to do. So my parents did try to stop me from playing it (and any other FPS until I was 17), but that pretty much failed for the most part. I’ve turned out perfectly fine in the meantime.

On computers not belonging to me I was introduced to id software’s less-violent franchise known as Commander Keen, which has songs that still get stuck in my head to this day, as well as the unique and incomporable Dopefish. Also it’s just really such an offbeat and zany game that I wish someone would revive it. I mean Duke Nukem got more of a following than Keen did, and well…actually where am I going with that? I have no idea.

1992-1996: Sega
So when I turned six I got a Sega Genesis. It’s hard to pin down what games I truly got blown away by on the system, since the largest library at my disposal was mostly the ones belonging to my cousin and to my best friend. So I got introduced to some pretty amazing stuff like NBA Jam, and Dinosaurs for Hire (which nobody but me seems to remember). DfH was a really odd fourth-wall breaking game that mixed Contra with send-ups of action movie cliches like fighting off way too many ninjas. Oh, and your protagonists were bipedal dinosaurs that were twice as big as most opponents and carried massive guns. No I’m not making that up. Also my whole reason for getting a Genesis in the first place? RBI Baseball ’93. Possibly the most unrealistic baseball game with real stats ever made without being “NBA Jam but baseball”

Some people say the Genesis was the weaker console between it and the SNES, and maybe they were right, but I never felt that way.

Anyway by this point I think I had pretty much been exposed to everything I could save for RPGs, and that pretty much is the first half of my experiences with video games, at least the most recognizable ones.

Great moments in Balance-Breaking history

11 07 2009

Possibly the biggest problem that faces many game designers, especially those that design an FPS or an RTS, is making sure the game is balanced properly. In strategy cases that means no one unit will automatically trump all others no matter what, and in FPS cases the same applies for a weapon. Despite the best intents of even some of the greatest developers, balance-breaking weapons and units sometimes slip through the cracks, and I thought I’d take the time to point out some of the ones I’ve personally encountered.
(click to read more)

Just a quick update

9 07 2009

So I’ve been quiet for a bit. Sleep schedule’s been a bit chaotic and I’ve been busy with doing work around the house to help my folks out, so I haven’t had a lot of time for dev work. Moai Caldera is still kind of in the same shape it was but I think I’ll have it finished soon, at least an Alpha phase that I can test out. From there I’ll either move onto making the beta version (textures), or I might fool around with Bethesda’s GECK tool for Fallout 3. I haven’t fully decided.

Also here’s a random thought: nobody’s made a good Robocop game in almost 20 years.

Learn to do research: A rebuttal of misinformed analysis

9 07 2009

Ok so maybe this isn’t the best of ideas, but on the other hand I don’t think the article I’m about to tear into was the best of ideas either. On a blog known as Hellforge a writer known as Sol Invictus wrote an article claiming that Fallout 3’s story sucks because it’s not original, and that it’s not original because it relies too heavily on the previous games in the series. Which to me sounds extremely…what’s the word? Ah yes. Dumb. Now maybe this is just the work of one of the NMA (No Mutants Allowed: a Fallout community who has had no end of whining about Fallout 3) crowd being very disenfranchised. Or maybe he thought he had a good point. However there is just one thing that stands out above everything else: A huge lack of research and an even bigger lack of evidence backing up Invictus’ claims. And frankly, that’s what really bothers me. Yes, I understand how easy it is on the Internet to just throw something out there and get a bunch of people to smile and nod and go “yes, I suppose so”. And in fact that’s just what he’s done, with many comments espousing how many plot holes there are in Fallout 3 (as if the other Fallout games didn’t have any). So I offer this rebuttal with actual research done to stand as an alternative to madness that will probably go unnoticed. And yes, there are major spoilers ahead. (click to read more)