Graveyards of Outer Space

28 01 2010

I started playing Mass Effect 2 today. I didn’t actually mean to. I had only beaten Mass Effect 1 for the second time (but the first on the PC) a few hours before. Yet it was calling to me, as new games are wont to do. So I opened up the box and noticed the “Cerberus Network” login card, figured it was worth at least having access to whatever bonus DLC they had, and fired that up. What it sparked, along with the game itself, made me feel really good about owning this game even if I don’t get the outcome(s) I am aiming for on my playthrough. There are some spoilers, slight I’m sure but I don’t want to ruin anything so more after the jump. This should not be taken as a full review of the game as I feel I have really just started to get to the meat of the game.

Final warning. I really feel that this game needs to be experienced fresh so if you don’t want any part of it spoiled please do not read ahead.
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More TF2 Cartography

26 01 2010

I’ve finally finished laying down all the exterior landscape and interior (sans one stairwell) of my TF2 map. Some things still need to be fixed like the fact a lot of props are invisible for no reason, though that might be my rendering options right now. Anyway here are some in-engine shots, enjoy. I know in the first image part of the roof is missing on one building, but I fixed that along with some other architectural errors.

Thinking I might add a battlement or a Radome to the top of the central building

As I said some props seem to be randomly invisible, like this cap point base

Mass Effect 2: Choice is Yours, Don’t Screw Up

22 01 2010

In less than a week I and many others will become proud owners of Mass Effect 2, the much-awaited sequel to Bioware’s sci-fi RPG epic. However unlike many others I probably won’t be playing it immediately. See I only recently had the chance to sit down and start playing the PC version of Mass Effect, since I got the sequel for the PC now that I have a computer capable of running it. Currently I’m nowhere near finishing and with all the stuff I have to do (TF2 map, searching for work, etc.) I doubt i’ll have it done by the time my copy of the game arrives in my hands. Nonetheless I will keep myself as spoiler-free as possible because I want to go in untainted by experience and truly experience Bioware’s sinister plan to make moral choice a big deal in games.

Just from what I’ve read, they’ve not only made is so that Shepard could permanently die and thus be out of the third game, but also many if not all of your party members are equally as likely to be killed. All based on choices you make. Bioware is playing for keeps, and I think for those who get attached to characters, they’ll find themselves weighing the issues at critical junctures and hope they’ve made the right choice. Or end up playing the game over and over just in the hopes that they don’t screw it up this time. Or maybe even just accept the fate they wind up with, feeling regret but ultimately believing that they did make the sacrifices necessary. I’m just throwing things out here, I know many people don’t get emotionally invested in games but some do and it helps enforce the “games are art” argument.

It’s also a big risk being taken by Bioware, with the possibility of killing off the protagonist leading to vastly different game experiences in the third entry in the series. In fact they’d almost have to create two different games, one would think. However I feel they probably already have a plan, and I look forward to finding out what it is. For a game that I didn’t think was anything special when I started playing it, I’ve now found Mass Effect to be one of the hottest new IPs around, and I can’t wait to see what happens.

Rising from the Inky Depths, it’s Atlantis! Wait, it’s just my TF2 map

15 01 2010

So I said at one point I didn’t have any proper screenshots of Moai Island in its slowly emerging new form, but I figured I should show at least something, so here are a couple in-editor shots of the new above-ground level housing the capture point.

Outside view of the whole structure portion of the map

Outside view of the whole structure portion of the map

Inside view of the Capture Point Room

Inside view of the Capture Point Room

For a better view of what the whole level is going to look like, here’s the floor plan as seen from above:

Here's a Schematic for ya...

Here's a Schematic for ya...

In addition to the room on the upper level I also added another room underground, or more correctly turned a hallway into a room so that now there is going to be a room full of computer servers for players to run and gun through. I also moved the entrances to the underground portions over to the sides of the level. This does make them slightly uneven so to counterbalance that I’m going to add one more connecting hallway as seen in the diagram below.

Yes I am glad I found and exported the TF2 fonts

Proposed Hallway

After that it’s just going to be a small matter of re-doing the terrain, making it into a displacement, surrounding the island with water, and adding the titular moais on the surface so people aren’t completely at the mercy of Snipers.

Away to the New Year

1 01 2010

Well 2009 is over. I can say, honestly, that I did not accomplish everything I wanted to. Graduating from WPI was pretty damn awesome in the grand scheme of things though. I finally know now the reason I went on a hiatus from my TF2 map dev, particularly that I actually didn’t like the direction it was heading in. I’ve decided it needs to be more above ground and less underground. Probably still going to make custom Moai things for it though. So that’s one of my many resolutions that I have for 2010.

In other news I recently purchased GTA IV for the PC. Now those that know me well know I was a bit unkind to GTA IV in retrospect, but to be honest it was a pretty good game, just not…GTA enough. But the reason I got the PC version was for its video editor, which essentially allows people to create and share machinima videos easily, since the video editor is a powerful editing suite in its own right that lets you focus cameras where you want, even on people not directly in the “action” so to speak. Here’s an example of something I whipped up.

Now of course the other problem with GTA IV on the PC is that it’s notoriously unstable. I figured a year after its release would’ve been plenty of time to iron out bugs but this has not been the case. There seems to be a problem with my game wherin it freezes up the entire computer after i use the video editor and go back to the regular game. Which is a shame really…because the video editor is a lot of fun. Despite these problems I’m still really enjoying playing it again.