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.

 

 





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

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Let’s Vent for a Little Bit

13 10 2015

It’s a pun, you see. Did some more work with my texture package, got specular maps working properly. It’s one of those things where it’s obvious once you figure it out but not obvious at all until you get to that point.

Anyway have another screenshot (click for big)

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Arcade Sports Games need to Make a Comeback

4 08 2015

I haven’t really talked much about game dev stuff recently. Mostly because it’s all been in the background, unless I manage to do a Pixel Daily. This past month was kinda hectic.

I’ve also been playing a lot of Splatoon but my the room where the WiiU is keeps getting taken up by other stuff so not as much time for that, it’s a shame, but hey at least I got 4 gear re-rolls for nothing (and squids for free?…I guess?). So I’ve also been playing some older games too, including ones I never got to have a proper go at before.

I picked up a copy of Mario Superstars Baseball for the Nintendo Gamecube a few weeks ago and have been slowly playing through that. It’s an interesting game, probably one of the last somewhat well-known baseball games that doesn’t utilize an MLB license (even Konami’s MLB Power Pros, natch, gave service to that).

This game is another one of the Mario games that advances the “Mario and co. are just actors on a stage” because for some bizarre reason in the Mushroom Kingdom everyone has decided “baseball is awesome” and they used their massive Mario Bros. royalty checks to build themed baseball parks. Then Bowser, because Bowser is always that one guy you know who has to prove himself better in all things, be it sports, racing, board games, or ruling small fictional countries consisting of fungus people, decides he’s going to challenge everyone else to see who’s the best.

Also, I don’t think a spiked metal club is a regulation bat.

This forms the “Challenge” mode of the game, where you walk around the world map going to everyone’s ballpark and playing them in an attempt to level up your players and also win over their players. You do this by fulfilling special conditions during the game (like striking certain players out or getting hits off of certain players). This allows you to supplement your team with not only named characters, but random goons like Toads, Shyguys, Goombas, and Koopas. Also strange is the fact that Mario’s team has himself and Luigi on it, and Yoshi’s Team has Baby Mario and Baby Luigi on it. So again, I think everyone is just actors at this point, either that or there’s some time shenanigans going on.

Luigi Za Warudo

But I digress. So far in Challenge mode the games go very fast. They’re only 3 innings long (unless you go into extra innings which stop at 6 if there’s a tie). There’s also not a whole lot of downtime either since we don’t have long intros for players and whatnot, or time for commentary except for the weirdly nasally voice of (I’m guessing) a Lakitu. I’m only guessing that because Lakitu is your tutorial of sorts, doing things like passive-agressively snarking about your initial lineup (though let’s be fair, the fact that just about everyone’s team is basically 6 random mooks plus 3 named characters is sorta chuckle-worthy), and telling you how the map screen works which is kind of helpful.

Speaking of other chuckle-worthy things, some of the team names are…special. Well one in particular. The D.K. Kongs. The Donkey Kong Kongs. DK named a team with his last name twice and the roster is only 33% actual Kongs (himself, Diddy, and Dixie. Everyone else is Koopa Troopas and Goombas). Then again what else would one expect from someone who brought a Boxing Glove to a baseball game?

No, Seriously

No, Seriously

On the other hand, maybe he knew one day Nintendo would call upon him to be a secret boss in Punch-Out for the Wii, who can say. Anyway, also in Challenge mode you can play minigames to get coins, which will let you do things like get steroids buy items and powerups that do things like unlock special pitches for some players or improve overall team speed.

The various ballparks are all pretty interesting. Marios is normal, of course, but everyone else apparently decided OSHA is only for people from Brooklyn and thus just did whatever. Princess Peach has built her ballpark in the courtyard of the castle, not even bothering to trim the hedges, and putting random blocks up above to mess up trajectories. And balls that carom off of those are still live and can be caught for an out.

I think this is from an earlier build but w/e

DK has built his ballpark on a river full of Klaptraps and apparently also a barrel factory running through it so getting decked by fallilng barrels hurts a lot. Yoshi has built a ballpark that has Pirahna plants guarding the foul lines and can spit the ball wherever they feel like. Wario built a park in the desert with Chain Chomps. If Bowser’s ballpark isn’t built over an active volcano I’ll actually be surprised.

The game is surprisingly in-depth for what it is, giving the player the ability to steal bases and have players grow as they accomplish goals which you can see detailed, and it’s a lot of fun and very fast-paced.

There are some drawbacks, for one thing the only way to throw faster pitches is that you have to hold down the A button, which starts a charge up animation for your pitcher and depending on who you have pitching it could mean you’ll get ridiculous nonsense like Mario jumping up into the air every time he throws the ball (nowhere near as bad as ShyGuy’s though). This is why I use Luigi as my pitcher because his charge up is fast and no-nonsense. Just spins around like a maniac and whips the ball. Also there are Star Pitches you can do but the timing on those is still a mystery to me. Though it’s hilarious to see a CPU opponent do a star pitch only for me to bunt the ball.

Anyway the whole point of this was that we really need Arcade-style sports games to come back. Back in the 90s you had NBA Jam, Base Wars, Super Baseball 2020, Double Dribble, Mutant League Football, Mutant League Hockey, NFL Blitz, etc. etc. Those games were a lot of fun and didn’t get too caught up in minutae of stats (by the way, sports nerds are the biggest nerds and it’s hilarious to see people who know what WAR or WHIP is, or have their own fantasy sports team, look down on video game players, but that’s for another time). We need these to come back somehow. In a world where only Sony is making MLB games, we need “Oh! That’s a Baseball!”

Yes I made another Jojo reference, deal with it.

 

 





Satoru Iwata passes away : 1959-2015

13 07 2015

Over the last month I spent time thinking about E3’s 2015 presentations and digital events, and how some people weren’t happy that they didn’t get everything they wanted out of Nintendo. (Metroid and Animal Crossing fans feeling especially burnt). I wanted to give some time for the hype poisoning to wear off before saying anything…but then over the weekend I and the rest of the game-playing world got news that really blunted my desire to talk about expectations.

Satoru Iwata, President of Nintendo and programming genius, passed away from a bile duct growth caused by cancer at the age of 55 a couple days ago. I don’t really think anybody expected it. I mean, I knew he was sick but I didn’t know it was cancer, and it’s a very Japanese businessman thing to be working up until the end. It certainly puts a lot of E3 2015 in a different light though, the puppets, the theme of “transformation”, and so on. Perhaps Iwata knew he didn’t have long…perhaps he didn’t want us to worry. Unfortunately I feel we’re all worried now.

Better gamers, game developers, and press people will be able to sum up Iawata’s life better than I can, but I do want to stress a few things. First off, he was a genius programmer. Apart from being the man known for creating things like Baloon Fight and Kirby, he’s also the man who single-handedly reprogrammed Earthbound, saving it from cancellation. He ported Pokemon Red and Blue’s battle code over to the N64 for Pokemon Stadium without any sort  of documentation in what amounted to his free time (he wasn’t even on the team) . He created compression tools for Pokemon Gold and Silver so that they could fit both the Kanto and Johto regions into a single Game Boy Game Pak. His first act as president of Nintendo when he assumed the role in 2002 was to put himself on the team for Smash Bros. Melee in order to make sure they hit their launch window. He even helped Smash Bros. exist in general, helping Sakurai win over Miyamoto’s initial fears and objections.

Secondly, he was a great company president. As much as we on the Internet lean on memes and things like “Please Understand”, Iwata was definitely a rare breed among CEOs, even in the Entertainment industry. He put himself as the public face of Nintendo, an affable man who interviewed developers, gave news directly to us, and who wasn’t above doing silly things like having a simulated fight between himself and Reggie Fils-Aimé (President of Nintendo of America) for Nintendo’s E3 Digital Event of 2014. On the business side he also turned Nintendo around from its slump in the early 2000s, and even personally took pay cuts when the 3DS and Wii U didn’t meet sales expectations. He also resisted attempts to make Nintendo go mobile for as long as possible, and while some of that is happening now, it doesn’t seem to be their big focus.

Lastly, in keeping with his quote from GDC 2005, he was a gamer. I feel this was important to the other two elements, making sure he could do what he could to make games come out on time, make sure they were fun. Even if Nintendo didn’t hit the mark every time in the past, I feel like they’ve at least tried their best and hardest to make a fun game, and that Iwata was a big part of it.

Unfortunately he’s now gone, Nintendo’s in a weird place, and we don’t know what will happen next. My hope is that they don’t go the way of Sega and completely get out of console development. Given that the NX is on the horizon, I’m guessing they’ll still be developing systems for at least one more generation.

Ultimately though I don’t think Iwata would want us to be mournful. Yes it’s intensely sad and depressing that someone so talented is gone from the world, but he’s left us a legacy. A legacy of games and of friendliness. Despite the somewhat cutthroat nature of the video game industry, here’s someone who did his best to be as personable as possible at all times,  even to rivals.

This probably hits everyone so hard because this is one of the first “big names” in an industry so young to pass away. I myself admit I always thought Miyamoto would be the first (well, second after the untimely passing of Game Boy creator Gunpei Yokoi) big name in Nintendo to go, just based on his age. Unfortunately that day will happen, just as the day will come where Sid Meier is no longer around, or John Carmack, or any other number of famous developers. It happens. Life happens, Death happens. We don’t really get extra lives, or continues, or a battery backup save-state.

But I think everything will be fine. We can’t change the fact that Iwata is gone. But we can remember him well. I don’t know if there’s an afterlife, but if there is, I’d like to think he’s up there now, having ridden those two red balloons up to the gates, or some other metaphor based on one of the games he made if that doesn’t work for you. Yes it’s cheesy, but it’s how we cope.

Also this is what the Nintendo HQ looks like right now. So maybe there is still some magic in the world.

Nintendo, roughly translated, means “Leave Luck to Heaven”. Hopefully Heaven still has luck to give.

“On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer.” – Satoru Iwata, GDC Keynote, 2005

 

 





Going up, I guess (small Ablation update)

9 04 2015

I made yet another version of the upgrade capsule for Ablation (this will be the third version of it since the initial concept back in 2010), here it is in animated gif form at 256×256 (original is 32×32)

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Originally I was going to dither the “light bar” but I think this works well too.





Obligatory “he has risen” joke

5 04 2015

Not much to report, just trying to post something even if it’s not substantial. Been still working on a demo level for Ablation, almost have enough in place to do it too, just a bit more art and then some heavy-duty programming. Sometimes when I get frustrated with all this I remember it feels rewarding to see things come together, or to program something and have it work right on the first try. That said, I wish I had something more tangible to show right now, but I don’t. Someday soon though.