Thursday, February 28, 2008

It's Leap Year

News to me. Apparently it's the end of the month. Seems somehow appropriate that I stumbled across this Gwar video of the song Meat Sandwich in which the lead singer dunks on Jesus. Crazy and hilarious. Apparently the concept of the video is Gwar is grilling out with some punks and Jesus doesn't like that, so he challenges them to a game of one-on-one?

All I know is that's so devoid of logic that it's awesome.

I've got to tell you, I can't really say that I listen to any music besides rap with any regularity (also if you like rap you should check out the new Wu Tang, 8 Diagrams, which is the best any of them have done since the 90's), but I have a soft spot for Gwar. What a bunch of nuts, although this is coming from a guy who thinks guys in their 40's rapping about karate is cool, so take that with a grain of salt. I also watched this band called Lordi who, apparently, won some kind of European battle of the bands on the international scale; I don't know that much about it, but the song was cool and it's like Gwar except less awesome and more 80's hair band in Gwar clothes.

Also makes me want to put in custom music, but copy right issues and the "hmmm, this probably isn't appropriate" vibe kind of break that off.

As far as modding goes, we're in the testing phase at this point, and I've taken the week "off" (not really, I'll get to that). Well, tried to. I ran into a few snags, including the very first and a really important script breaking that was working months ago even during public testing making me look like an idiot, and my hak messing up because of the 2da (let this be a lesson, your 2da file acts crazy with entries greater than 4 digits).

But anyways, as far as being "off" goes, to me that qualifies as playtesting and taking screen shots for the eventual custom loading screens. Let me tell you, exploring every nook and cranny has taken me all week. What is it Thursday? I started on Sunday night and I'm still not done! I will probably finish up tonight though, chill for the weekend, and get back to building on Monday.

And I hate testing. Eventually I get to the point where when I get criticism of any part of my campaign, I'm instictively agreeing, like "yeah, I hate it too!" Sometimes I do, I play the thing so damn much and it's usually me playing when it's not working right so there's compounded frustration. I mean, think about it; I'll end up playing it buggy and broken probably a dozen times from start to finish testing various aspects, and each quest gets tested individually dozens of times as I try to break it as I'm building, adjusting static cameras and balance, moving characters around, whatever, and testing again and again; it gets tedious.

Which is kind of ironic, playing the game being the worst part of making a game...

Did I mention how thankful I am of anyone who tests and gives feedback?

Friday, February 22, 2008

The clock is ticking, my friends

I've got until Sunday night to meet my self imposed deadline. It's definately a possibility at this point. There are several things slowing me down. The first is I had the flu all week, so that kind of slows you down. I don't know, maybe it's just me, but taking any kind of medicine makes me drowsy and lacking of focus. Plus, it's the flu.

Ergo, I put off my calculus homework. That has to be done this weekend as a priority. Can I do calculus and finish two cutscenes and a whole area? It's a challenge, but it's not beyond hope.

Or else it'll just take a day longer, so big deal. It's not like it's an actual deadline.

Anyway, did I tell you I switched from Showtime to HBO? Smart move, I think. I've complained about Showtime in the past because frankly it's awful. Only problem is the HBO package comes with Cinemax, which is also a terrible, terrible premium channel unless you're into softcore porn. Which, I'm not. I don't think anyone is, actually, except teenagers who lack identification to purchase regular porn and whose parents happen to have Cinemax but it's blocked with a password that's either the last four digits of your phone number or your street address.

You know if you have kids, don't put a stupid password on anything, but especially the premium channels on your cable. It's seriously not that hard to remember four random numbers...and even if you can't, you're only missing Cinemax which is awful. Might want to think about it with, say, a PIN number or something. How about the last four of your social security number? Shoot, you probably don't even know that, so you're kids won't.

Still more, today I caught the last hour of both The Hills Have Eyes and Snakes on a Plane. Frankly, I don't really feel compelled to dial in again to check out the first half hour/hour of either. They're both not very good movies.

First of all, The Hills Have Eyes. There's some lessons to be learned from this movie, one of them to potentially save your life should you ever find yourself up against a villian. But first, the bad:

OK, being exposed to radiation doesn't make you immune to pain and bullets. It doesn't make you super strong, or predatorily cunning, or fast and deadly. It doesn't make you a cannibal. It gives you tumors and cancer. It destroys your thyroid. You get bloody vomiting and diaharrea from GI damage. It makes you sterile. Your kids have birth defects, small brains, abnormal growth, cancer, and retardation. Seriously, they're deformed mutants living in the middle of the desert, not the X-Men kind, but the kind with huge health problems.

I had similar complaints about Wrong Turn, but in that case they were inbred mutants with huge health problems. Also, the same goes above for being inbred, it's really not a good way to go about getting super cannibal powers, but being sterile, deformed, and mentally disabled.

So the whole premise is just stupid.

"Hey man, why are you trying to kill us all?"

"We're mutated cannibals, ooooOOOOOoooo!"

"Dude, you have lymphoma and a hunch."

"Your nuclear bombs did this to us! oooOOOOOooo!"

"Why are you making ghost sounds? Also you guys should have moved when they told you they were nuclear testing."

"But the incredible hulk...."

"No, dude. Thyroid cancer and brittle bones."


Alright, so it's just a movie, I know that. And I guess this is why they figured that at the end they'd pull a classic "the hero is an idiot move", since not a lot here makes sense why should any of the character's actions, right? You know what I'm talking about, when he plugs the bad guy a few times and the bad guy falls down motionless, they he walks up to the bad guy carefully with the gun trained on him, kicks him, is relieved that his gentle kicks indicate death (I guess those with limited knowledge of radiation poisoning also have limited concept of the pulse), and drops his gun next to the dead bad guy to turn around in success, only to be completely surprised when the bad guy is, get this, not really dead!

And here I am screaming at this idiot "just pop him in the face! Finish the job! He's not dead!", but they never listen. What is it, like, "maybe he's just disabled but needs medical attention, just hurting him is enough"? Nah, man, it's a mutant cannibal. I mean, what the hell?

I mean, even before that he catches the brain outside of skull wheelchair guy, and he's got a big axe in his hand, but walks out without offing that guy...alright even before that he catches a bald fat lady combing a wig not paying attention when he as a baseball bat... Anyway, this is why you can respect the guy from Man on Fire because, in what is nearly unanimously considered by me the greatest scene ever put to film, when he wants information, he cuts your fingers off one at a time until you tell him what he wants to know. Then he cuts your fingers off anyway, and then kills you. That's why that is a classic, the guy is realistic about handling his revenge.

But look, you don't walk away from the deformed wheelchair guy. You finish him off and go about your business.

But we've all seen that enough to know that if we're ever fighting mutant cannibals, or even non-mutant non-cannibal bad guys, don't do that! Don't inch up to them slowly, give them a love pat, and drop your guard so they can stab you or wait until you're not paying attention or something. Shoot them in the face a few times while they're down...because really if your whole diabolical plot hinges on your victim nearly killing you and being an idiot at the last second...well, you're the idiot.

But I suppose techinically these are retarded cannibals. And when I say retarded, I don't mean like as an insult, but literally retarded from radiation poisoning.

Now, Snakes on a Plane, that's another story. Obviously there's a lot of stupid in there, like when the boa constrictor bursts out of the phosphourescent light, like the maintainence guy accidentally installed a boa constrictor instead of a tube light bulb. Again, things to learn:

One is viral marketing on the internet can't make a successful movie. This had all of the factors, a stupid premise, snakes, Samuel L. Jackson screaming the F word, but still did abysmal in ticket sales. Maybe it made it up in DVD sales, I don't know. But one thing is things on the internet are supposed to be free, so advertising a movie to people used to stealing stuff probably is a poor marketing strategy.

But the important lesson here is if you're fighting either snakes on planes or mutant cannibals in Arizona or whatever, you're going to want some guns. Shotguns are cool, bring those.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Just two more areas

I'm pretty sure, without using Maths to be sure, that I have a module of the day update on Wednesday, so I thought I'd throw a small update up here really quick.

I'm finishing up the sidequest in the newest temple area I posted screens up of last time, which takes place entirely in areas that I've already done, so no new screens. So nothing too exciting to report, except...

I need to build two more areas and fill them up with the remainder of a sidequest, and I will be putting up the entire temple section of town for testing, so I'm at the point where I'm feeling confident by this coming weekend it'll be ready, barring some kind of disaster.

If you want to help with that, join the Forgotten Realms Weave and make a post in the forums, and (as soon as it's worked out, which Rogue Dao was, much to my appreciation (that can't be a sentence), pretty quick about responding about, thanks flem and Rogue Dao!) I'll send you the FTP info so you can download it. However, in doing so, we're entering an informal contract that you'll get back to me with some feedback!

I'll also try to get in touch with those who helped test in the past but I haven't heard from in a while if possible. I've got all of your handles written down in a readme somewhere on my PC, but not your contact info. But I'll do my best.

Alright then.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Another Blog Post

It's one of those days where I don't have a fancy title for this post. I mean, I was even having trouble coming up with something to say for my module of the day update, so I just rambled a bit and threw up some numbers that may or may not have been pulled from my nether region (they weren't, but how often do you have a chance to use "nether region"?)

So yeah, I finally got the temple war sequence working correctly! That turned into a huge project, too many conditionals and, therefore, too much room for mistakes, which happened. Frequently. But I got it working, hopefully permanently. To celebrate, I immediately moved on to the next area and pushed that fiasco as far from my mind as possible; it was draining me.

So, here's some pics:




OK, another temple. Probably sick of seeing those; me too. But the good news is there's only one more to do after this one. More good news is these should be less involved than the last two in terms of how much time it'll take to set the sidequests up and get them working. I plan on keeping them both fairly simple by comparison. Even more good news is the other temple quests are working properly. Did I mention that?

So really, there's a pretty good chance it will be needlessly complicated and incredibly time consuming, given my track record! It's already starting with some of the scripting I'm doing...

What else is happening?

There was a NWN Podcast roundtable interview (you can find the link to the show to your left, possibly about even with this paragraph, possibly not! It's hard to tell as I write this.) on Sunday. Sounded pretty cool, a lot of people I've come in contact with over the last year or so were on it talking about their projects. Felt a little put out myself, too many times not being picked for kickball I suppose. I couldn't tune in because my daughter was sick. If you have kids, you know how they are when they're sick, they literally freak the F out when you stop touching them...or maybe that's just mine. And the week was this huge disaster between the storms and flu. And now really it's my turn to be sick, I can feel it coming on. That's another thing you know if you have kids, if your kid is sick you'll be sick.

So I won't be able to actually listen to it for a few weeks, which is fine I guess. But that's definately one of the podcasts I'm looking forward to hearing. It's always cool to catch a new spin on things and hear some input in general game design.

I guess that's about all I got.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Tornados and such

Well I'll have to keep this short because I'm a little busy at the moment. There were 24 tornados last night in Tennessee...which is where I live. It devestated a few cities near by. Luckily, I got off pretty light, and all I lost was the shed in my back yard and a chunk of my fence. Others weren't so lucky.

If anyone is interested in helping those people, you can donate to the Red Cross.

I've got insurance so you won't be buying me a new shed if that's what you're thinking!

Friday, February 1, 2008

There's basically two things that are killin' me here!

I don't mean killing me literally; as a smoker, I pretty much know how I'm going to die. And I have to tell you, it's quite convenient. I feel confident enough that I could walk out in the middle of a Wild West style gun fight and live through it because I'm that confident it's going to be lung cancer. So I pity you non-smokers in a way. Do you have that kind of self assurance? I thought not.

I'm also heavily anticipating the invention of some kind of artificial lung, not unlike a pace maker, that will let me live well past a century. If science has taught us one thing, it's that it'll solve all of our problems with no reprocussions.

But that point aside, my calculus classes and my scope creep are what are killing me. My life is a series of routines. I like things to happen when I expect them to. I could tell you my schedule for the next month if you wanted to hear it, but then the mystery of what kind of exciting life this dirtywick must lead would be gone. Since it's half gone, though, I'll break the rest down for you: It's not particularly exciting.

Thus, my calculus class takes up my Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday afternoons and evenings. I take my classes online, and the way they work is you get an assignment for the week due Sunday and can pace yourself, so a routine there is important (especially in this particular class where nothing is really "due" until the final week, upon which I will sit back and laught at the idiots who threw away a few grand because they can't manage their time!). But I probably spend at least 20 hours a week doing homework and learning the material. Compared to my usual any class where the assignments are to write a paper or two a week, which I can crap out an A paper in about an hour, that's a ridiculous amount of time to me. You see, my primary skill is finding the fastest way to get the best results. I don't allow myself to get anything less than an A, but I also don't allow myself to spend any more time than necessary to get said A. I give 110% as fast as I can so I can do things I want to, but the amount of money spent on college would make getting anything less than perfect grades a waste of my precious money, you see.

In any case, that's a good chunk of my free time spent doing matrices and logarithms, which is a phenomenal waste of time. Really, when was the last time you said "oh man! I wish I knew the quadratic formula! Then I could balance my check book!" Game, set, and match, son.

The other cause of my demise is scope creep. What that does is causes you to add so much to your project that every time you start up, you don't feel like you actually got anything done, which is mad discouraging. I mean, I did get stuff done, but not as much as I'd have liked, mostly because I'm doing a ton of complex scripts and "what if" scenarios that bog down the whole process.

So, I might have underestimated the work load a bit when I thought I was 50% done. As of now, I have no idea how percent done I am, but it's markedly lower than 50, I believe.

But F it, let's check out some screens of what I did do!

Below you can check out what's become of the catacombs. Did you ever wonder what it would be like to step into the middle of a religious war fought below some churches of opposed faith in a catacombs? No? Really? Damn. Well, I went ahead and did that anyway:





What remains to be done there is to finish the final battle up in which you confront the leader of the side you're fighting against (again, options! Will you turn traitor on who hired you? Try to work out a truce? Stick with your word?) which is what I'm working on now. A little cutscene, a few scripts, should be done by the time I hit the bricks tonight. Well, matress.

Then I need to reproduce the scenario from the other perspective, in case you want to take the other side in the conflict. That's what I've been talking about when things go faster, the areas and blueprints and spawn scripts are all done, just need to modify a few things and do a bunch of dialogue and some changes in when and where things happen.

But, let's not go without taking a look at these screens:




You know, I was thinking "what the hell am I going to do with asteriods!" when I installed MotB. Guess whose temple that is.

Well anyway, I having seen the ads for Cloverfield a few months ago I decided to look it up on IMDB, mostly trying to figure out whether it was a good movie or not because I'm not likely to see it until I can get my hands on a bootleg of it or it's on HBO. Or I got to Blockbuster, which isn't likely. Anyway, I headed over to the IMDB boards to see what the monster was, because really like you couldn't figure out it was a giant monster and honestly that's not much of a spoiler (mostly because I was reading about Cthulhu in preparation of my Far Realms area I want to do. Having never read a H.P. Lovecraft book in my life I, admittedly inexplicably having no knowledge of what Cthulhu is anyway, thought "dude, that's probably what Cloverfield is!" It's not.) and will probably forget the spoiler by the time I get around to watching it...

Apparently, this movie is a lot like the Blair Witch Project. You'll either like it or pass out vomiting from migraine induced seizures. Or something. Well, point is nobody can agree whether it's a good movie or not. I'm going to go ahead and say yes because, come on, giant monster? I'll also say it could probably kill Superman to nip that debate right in the bud.

But anyway the message boards had something about whether or not this movie belonged in the top 250 movies of all time. So I took a look at that list.

Alright, since I've never been afraid of saying something stupid in my life, I won't start now: Most of the people who decide what good movies are just say what they've heard are good movies in an attempt not to sound stupid to people who "know" good movies.

I mean, how else do you explain that list?

Alright, The Godfather at the top, I'll accept that. I mean, it's a pretty good movie, no doubt. Best ever? Well, I'd disagree, but I'm more of an John Everyman that likes things that are awesome over beatiful cinemetography and beautiful other words I can't spell or know the meaning of. I like explosions and stuff and junk.

Knowing that, explain:

Pulp Fiction at #5

This movie wasn't that good. Taratino, I mixed about that guy, but Pulp Fiction wasn't all it was cracked up to be. There's a Sammy L. bible quote scene which is pretty awesome, but John Travolta doing the vogue with Uma Thurmon and then dying on the toilet? Yeah, it's a Royale with Cheese, I get it. I've heard people quote that too many times, and I'm all "yeah, foreigners say different things that us. I get it. Besides, you heard that on Pulp Fiction, you're not actually cultured by hearing somebody who was cultured make an observation about an American fast food know what, forget it."

Point is, not #5.

Speaking of Tarantino, Grindhouse even being on that list is an atrocity, slightly more than Kill Bill Vol 2. A woman with a gun for a leg? That's stupid. I could see an arm, but a leg? That's stupid.

Psycho at #22

Uh, this movie wasn't that good, sorry. I know it was like terrifying or whatever in the wholesome 60's when people didn't get killed in motel rooms, but I lived near Milwaukee when Dahmer was arrested. Come on, this movie is not that entertaining. For it's time, sure. But this isn't the greatest movies of all time for their time, it's of all time.

Raiders of the Lost Ark at #18

First of all, I'm bringing this up because it should be higher, but it bears mentioning that the Temple of Doom isn't even on the list(!), and The Last Crusade is in at a paltry 120. This is the greatest trilogy of all time, and Indiana Jones could kick any of these other action fruits at higher rankings asses. So let's put things in perspective here.

V for Vendetta at #146

Real talk, I know the guy that played V in the movie. Not the voice, but the guy in the suit. His name is David Leich, and he was my neighbor's son by my ma's. That said, this wasn't that good of a movie. It was OK, but I think the only reason this is on the list is because of the anti-Bush feelings in the US. Watch it plummet in 2009.

2001: A Space Odessey at #80

Movie is balls. First of all, it's 2008 and we're not floating around in technicolored crappy special effects. Secondly, this movie just sucks.

Apocalypse Now at #36

Can anyone honestly say they enjoyed the sweaty Marlon Brando donkey killing mess that was the second half of this movie? Didn't think so.

Alien at #52

I liked this move, but the vastly superior Aliens is ranked #69, which is a little backwards. What's better than a single poorly made rubber alien killing people in the early 80's? Many, many slightly less poor rubber aliens killing more people armed to the teeth with cool guns in the mid 80's. And what's better than them both? The Thing at #175. It's inexplicable.

Terminator 2 at #74

Uh, Terminator 2 is awesome? It's awsome almost 20 years after it was made.

Amadeus at #85

Wow, this movie sucked. I don't know how the circumstances came about that I watched it...perhaps it was the cool box art, perhaps I had nothing better to do. But wow.

Donnie Darko even being on this list

Terrible. Just terrible movie.

Alright, well I'm going too far with this, but let me just say that perhaps the biggest travesty of this whole debacle is the movies listed here are all on the list, despite being mostly awful with the few underrated exceptions, yet neither The Warriors nor Big Trouble in Little China made the list. I'll let you ponder that.

Wait, I had to edit this in:

How in the hell do you explain Scarface being on that list? I mean, I know it's every rapper/mustachioed popped collared 80's business man's wet dream to snort a mountain of cocaine and shoot grenade launchers at illegal immigrants, but are there really that many of them out there? Really?