You wait hours in the rain for a bus. And then three arrive at once.
Three really great video game art/design pieces that I just saw in the past few weeks:
Well, the Glyf Blog has been updated with an exciting announcement! You’ll have to go take a look for the full details, but the long and short of it is that RocketHands will be at Supanova 2012, and we will be demoing (among other things!) our new game, Glyf!
Come down and find us in the Artists Alley on Sat-Sun 23rd-24th June at Supanova!
When I first started playing BF3 just before Christmas, we had about three pages of servers in Australia. I got disconnected more than I would like, but there were always games available and the ping was good.
In January, all the servers disappeared. In their place were 3-6 DICE controlled ‘Australian’ servers, although I strongly doubt they were in Australia (no Australian accents on teamchat, but plenty of entertaining Brits, Yanks, and Frenchies!). If they were located here they were being served via 56k dialup, because we were down to one bar of ping, and frequent disconnection. Plus, the games were almost always full, so you had to queue to play on a rubber-banding server.
If you wanted to play, you really had to join a server in the US or Asia. I might add, each of these regions had 20-30 pages of servers available, and the ping was better than the ‘Australian’ region servers.
I am saying all this in the past tense because it (hopefully) looks like the situation is about to change, after a Battlelog Blog posting from Daniel Matros, the global DICE community manager.
Here’s a pertinent chunk:
I want to let you know that our team over here has been working very hard in order to solve these issues for you. We´ve done numerous improvements and of course, one of them being ramping up our server capacity in Australia. These short-term changes will be rolling out over the comings weeks and some players may notice improvements sooner than others as we work towards our goal.
As someone who has tweeted at the Battlefield support account and has almost stopped playing due to these issues, I am really hoping DICE deliver the goods.
Can I get a Hooah?
I bought BF3, on the Playstation 3. It’s kinda weird, because I am not one of those hardcore war FPS guys with the backwards baseball cap sinking brews and playing COD4. I haven’t even played COD. The closest I have ever come to something like this is TF2.
So there’s that.
Then, there is the fact that I got it on the PS3. I have never really played FPS’s on consoles - the closest was a couple of rounds of multiplayer Halo back in the day. I couldn’t possibly buy it on PC though - I don’t have a Windows PC that would even run it, and I am not about to upgrade just for the sake of a game.
I fired it up and after I jumped through about 5 or 6 ‘system upgrade’ and ‘sign into your origin account’ hoops, I was in. My guess was that the single player campaign would be pretty crap, so I kicked off a multiplayer game and got totally slaughtered. Firstly, playing on a controller makes you yearn for a keyboard and mouse. Also, this was not TF2 at all. My weapons aren’t hilarious. My enemies aren’t colour coded. I assumed friendly fire was on since this is a fairly realistic kind of game. So this gave me a lot of trouble at first, telling enemies from friends - I only wanted to shoot someone if I was really sure he was an enemy, and this lead to me being killed a lot.
So I fired up the single player campaign so I could L2P and you know what? It was great! Good voice acting, interesting missions, decent difficulty ramp up, and all wrapped up in an intriguing story which helps keep the momentum - you do actually want to find out what happens next. I really enjoyed it - the first air mission, coming up onto the deck of the aircraft carrier is breathtaking. Sure, there are a couple of parts that are difficult, and you can’t just go and do the missions any old way you want to - it is all pretty prescribed - but that is kind of what I expected.
I heard a lot of people hated it. Initially I couldn’t understand why, but after reading a lot of the criticism, mostly it was comparisons to other single player campaigns (MOH, MW2). This post sums up a lot of the ‘broken things’ quite nicely - the linear missions are implemented with ‘infinitely spawning’ enemies in places, AI that favours picking you out from your squad and concentrating all fire on you, enemies have seemingly endless supplies of grenades, missions with checkpoints that kind of get you killed. I do have to agree with the point made here that with a good game, each death should feel like it was your fault, but in this game, most deaths did feel unfair, like you were just not doing things the way the mission wanted you to, thus it had stacked the odds against you.
I totally noticed these things while I was playing and I still liked it. Crazy right? I think it is because I had no positive expectations going in - I don’t have a lot to compare it to, not having played COD etc (I have played a bit of MOH, back in the day). In fact, I treated the whole thing like it was a big long tutorial that gets you ready for multiplayer, and helps you conquer that pesky controller and stop yearning for the keyboard and mouse. If that is its purpose, I think it totally succeeds - I had a blast playing it, and I am way more comfortable in multiplayer now, slowly working my way up the ranks.
DICE probably wouldn’t be copping so much flak if they had just called it ‘Single Player Tutorial’ instead of ‘Campaign’. A lot of people said DICE shouldn’t have bothered with it. For the record, I am totally glad they bothered.
It also mentions that the plot rips off COD - told in flashback, involving terrorist nukes, being the fugitive bad guy. If that is true, well, that is a bit disappointing. I really enjoyed the story as it unfolded, but if you were seeing it for the second time you would feel a bit cheated, not to mention if you were COD, and BF3 had ripped off your story.
My only gripe was that it felt like it finished a little quickly. I mean, the story was resolved and all, but I kind of thought I was going to learn to fly helicopters and jets and stuff. There was an OK tank level, and an amazing jet level - but it only let you be the gunner. It felt like it was whetting my appetite for the real deal later in the campaign, but it never came.
At least my friend Liza liked it.
This is like shaving, I swear it is.
I suck at shaving. I have an electric shaver, which is a good thing - as long as you shave every few days (if not every day), shaving with an electric shaver is fine. It does a decent job, with a minimum of effort. Therin lies the seeds of complacency. From a clean, freshly shaven face, each day’s miniscule iteration blends into those of previous day’s, and before you know it you resemble a gruff sea captain. One more day. One more tenth of a millimeter - It won’t make that much difference…I’ll shave tomorrow. It goes on for weeks. And then I am Chewbacca. In that situation, trying to shave with an electric shaver is like trying to mow the lawn with a whippersnipper, but with more physical pain. So out come the cheap manual razors, with their mysterious duality. On the one hand, they are sharp, like a ninja’s katana - eager for blood and possessing an enthusiastic eagerness to mame he who weilds them. On the other hand, they seem to want to clog with hair, like an overachieving shower drain in a dormatory at a high school for early developing boy-chimpanzee experiments. I end up having to chop my face up with one of these every time. I haven’t used my electric razor in at least 6 months.
And so it is with blogging. I keep meaning to write stuff on here, but it doesn’t happen. And now I am going to recap 4 months in a paragraph. One paragraph to rule them all.
I got to go to a couple of places for work: In Paris I ate snails, walked about 15km, and took a million photos. In San Diego I ate good mexican and as much untried varieties of fast food as I could (it’s good!). I did a metric bunch of work both home and abroad, and barely logged into World Of Warcraft. I got Guitar Hero World Tour for my birthday (The nice lady at the KMart layby desk ‘found’ me a ‘spare’ copy ‘out the back’ after I was told my actual copy that I had been paying off for over a month had been sold to someone else. Or should I say ‘someone else’). I played it a bit and then had to open up my drums and solder a bunch of joints. I played it some more and then had to open it up again and solder more joints. I am either hitting it too hard, or the assembly line workers are being whipped too hard. There is enough material here for a HUGE rant, but I can’t! I am Chewbacca! All I can do is HHHUUUUURRRRNNNNNGGGGHHHH. GHWT is awesome though. I saw ultrasound pictures of my littlest one. I became Lead Designer at Interzone. I made a game for gamejam, but I just havent had time to finish it. It is about a little white rabbit mutant who escaped from the lab and has all sorts of crazy powers. I made a dollshouse for my daughter for Christmas, and I DID finish that. It rocks out, and makes me wish I was a 5 year old girl.
So there it is, in one paragraph. In conclusion, I should shave more often. HHHHUURURRRRRGGGNNNHH!!
And now, with great mysteriousness, I will work on some software I have not touched in a long time. A long time. If I am successful it might prompt me to mention something about it on this blog thingy.
Goodbye 2008. You have been alright, you know, for a year. We were never really close. I guess that’s my fault.
I had a fantastic Fathers day. So fantastic, that it has taken me two days to write about it. Such is the recuperation time for so much joy.
I slept in till 10:30. Trust me, that is a big deal. When I woke, I read Retro Gamer and was presented with bacon and eggs. So much that I couldn’t finish it. I actually had to leave food on my plate. Ahh, the opulence.
I was given some lovingly hand crafted drawings of a princess, some handmade cards, and an ultra bright torch that can fry your eyes out.
I sat down and played Smash Bros: Brawl for 2 hours. I mashed the controller until my thumbs were pulp and it was bliss. I really started to feel the intricacies of each character, and get a feel for some very subtle nuances in the game. This was so refreshing, since the rest of the game is devoted to cartoon violence hyperbole, and the contrast was like chicken with lemon and prosciutto: Delicious.
Then I cleaned out the shed. I found that the spider situation was far less drastic than I had feared, and was the result of an overly visible minority. I thew out useless junk I didn’t need, and uncovered other useless junk that I squirreled away for later. I categorised nuts, bolts, screws and nails in a tackle box, and hung tools on my hook board. At the end of the day I had a clean shed with plenty of room for lawn mowers and excess gutters, and everything where I can find it easily. Seriously folks, it doesn’t get better than this.
Actually it does.
Then we went for icecream, and I came home and bought the id Megapack for half price off Steam, after a tip-off from my mate Jason.
It should be obvious by now that I am not the diligent blogger. Things happen to me during my day which I think interesting enough to blog about. ‘Hark!’, I say, ‘Is this loathsome television programme not worthy of some sort of Internet Rant?’, and ‘Lo!, wouldst my casual observation about some everyday occurence not enrich the lives of countless who would hear it?’.
The answer of course, is Yes. And by Yes, I mean No.
So instead, I go nearly a month without posting anything. Both for the reason explained above, and also, because I am very lazy.
A few things happened that I feel need to be magnetically seared into a google-owned hard drive. Firstly, and let me preface this by saying that watching movie trailers off the internet doesn’t excite me and in fact normally evokes my derision, people mindlessly wasting bandwidth on less than a minute of footage that they could see for free before any movie, desperate for Hollywood’s table scraps, ravaging it before it even bounces on the floor, their Quicktime’s buffering and their YouTubes clamouring for more of the stream, the moving patterns of colour needed to satisfy the rapacious hordes who can’t wait a few weeks or months to just go see the damned movie
I have owned the comic for a good while now, but only read it recently. Having been an impulse 'Oh I will need that' purchase, I was saving it for a time when I desrved it. Months later, after much encouragement from Joseph and a great deal of ‘being good’, I finally decided I was worthy. Good thing I did, because it turns out to be fantastic. Seriously fantastic. I cannot rave about how good this is, and how much I admire Alan Moore. And I though From Hell was good - Watchmen blows it out of the water. So having been thouroughly impressed by the graphic novel, I was trembling with excitement to see the trailer for the movie. Is this what ‘normal’ people experience when hammering Apple’s site for the latest dose of 35mm crack? Whether or not within me, some new empathy has been birthed for these lost, hopless addicts is beside the point - the Watchmen trailer is amazing, and looks to be a faithful adaptation of the comic. I was grinning like a loon with my face pressed right up to my monitor - I don’t know if I have ever had such a high pixels to smile ratio. We will see how the movie fares in 2009, but for now, they have my interest.
Joseph, of Firefly-generosity fame, also gave me his old Nintendo DS, which I like to call DS Phat. Magnaminous. I fired up my GBA version of Super Mario World, and continued my painful struggle to discover the secret ending to Larry’s Castle. The one that I am convinced is there, over the lava pit, but that nobody else on the entire of the interweb has found. I will be the first!. In other news, I should soon receive in the mail a small device which will enable me to run homebrew applications, DSLinux, and er.. backed up games on DS Phat. I cannot wait, and am checking the mail daily, rather than letting it build up and spew out of my mailbox like normal, leaving a soggy piles of pulpy-mush-regret on my lawn.
Speaking of spew, this made the rounds at the office the other day: ABC’s Q&A programme talks about video game classification in Australia. Well, that is to say that the panelists fail to understand the question (‘Why doesn’t Australia have an 18+ rating for games like every other first world country’) and then proceed to make random statements of opinion having no basis in any sort of fact, seemingly in order to fill the air with the sounds of their voices, and eat up precious seconds until the next question or ad break. It frustrated me because not only were these people misinformed or just plain ignorant, they are the types of people who are high enough in government to make a difference - you know..legislation and all that. It may as well have been ‘The Internet is a Series of Tubes’. Once the initial animal noises had died down, and the speakers had each had a turn at condemning the specific game in question, other games of the same ilk, and also made up ‘rape video games’, and commenting on the moral health of any society that would consider such a thing entertainment, one panelist decided to ask the audience member who had posed the question, a question in return. She asked why this young man might want to play such a game, and how long he and his friends might spend playing it. As if to disarm the question, she added:
"I’m not trying to crucify you, I am just curious."
Had I been the audience member, I am not sure I would have been able to keep a straight face at such a question. You can bet if someone says ‘I am not homophobic, but..’, you are about to hear something about how queers should just be driven out of the country, or ‘I am all for equal rights and everything, but…’, normally bodes poorly for the female sex in the context of the forthcoming statement. So too does the prefix ‘I am not trying to crucify you' mean that the speaker is a barefaced, unashamed, liar. The 'I’m just curious' part would have made me laugh - the show is meant to be serious discussion of issues, not idle chit chat and small talk.
My anger comes more from the implication that people need to justify wanting to play video games that are refused classification. If justification is needed, that is simple - “Because I like it”. Why do people smoke cigarettes? Why do dickheads in the city drive huge 4WD’s? Why do men buy porno mags and why do women need to read gossip about movie stars? “Because I like it”. Of course, justification isn’t needed, otherwise cigarettes would be illegal because they are harmful and 4WD’s would require stricter licensing since they aren’t actually needed by most people in the city.
I do respect the government’s right to protect its citizens. We don’t allow people to buy things that will hurt them - dodgy toasters or machinery that hasn’t passed safety checks for example. This is not the case of a badly wired kitchen applicance though. In the case of media such as this, we have classification systems such as those for Music, Film, and Literature. Our classification system for video games is just a bit..behind the times and inconsistent - it lacks an 18+ rating for one. Nevertheless, updating our classifications system and including the aforementioned 18+ rating can only bring us in line with other countries, allow retailers the opportunity to sell games otherwise unavailable on our shelves, and help parents make educated decisions on games which their children may want to buy. Or, allow them to purchase it for themselves, which without this rating, no voting, drinking, sex-having adult can do lawfully.
People (and by people, I mean people that are not me) are ranting about this on this forum page.
Backstage, after the show:
“My kids played GTAIV, but thankfully didn’t go out and steal cars”
“Yep, my little Billy just completed that, and so far he has resisted the urge to steal cars too”
“You know what, my kids played it too and all of them are fine – I guess it is just good upbringing”
“Thanks to us.”
“Yep, we sure are good parents”
“Damn evil games. The evidence just mounts and mounts, and still they keep making them…”
“It’s those crazy programmers man. Remember the Y2K hoax back in 2000? ‘The computers are going to freak out everyone! We have to patch the mainframe!’. NOTHING HAPPENED you stupid nerds!”
“Stop, stop…seriously…you make me cry with laughter whenever you do the nerd voice and the squint thing..”
“Alright everyone, calm down. The meeting will come to order!”
“So..next on the agenda: Net Neutrality”
“Ooooh oohhh…say it in the voice!. I want to see Kev cry again…”
Backstory: I am lucky enough to work as a games designer for Interzone. My work is primarily systems design, which means a lot of thinking about what sorts of mechanics and interactions might make a game fun and playable, and then doing a bunch of maths and prototyping to make sure it is actually feasible. I design the guts of games. Like, their intestines.
Actual Content: Anyway, after a really long period of biting our tongues, we can finally announce the title we have been working on all this time: Interzone Futebol!. As Dozer emphatically states in The Matrix: ‘Its a very exciting time!’. Firstly, because we can finally talk about the game now (can you imagine how excruciating it is to work on something really exciting and not be able to tell any of your friends about it?), and secondly because gaming sites are starting to pick up the press release: Interzone Futebol is getting a mention on games sites like Gamers Hell, gi, SpawnPoint, DailyGamer, TenTonHammer, MondesPersistants (Persistant Worlds), and mcvuk.
Only one such as Big Kev had words that could adequately sum up this eventful occasion: “I’m Excited”. And so is Joseph.
Update: IGN have an interview posted just over nyah.