Wednesday, August 8, 2012

How to create a *good* automated camera in a third-person game

KH3D has bugged the shit out of me. I enjoy it a lot, but the gameplay can be extremely broken at times. And it's not for bad mechanics--it's for a bad camera, which often leaves you unaware of what's going on around you in intense, large-scale battles.(which is every battle in this game)

I have devised this list of behavior in the hope that it will help people create better third-person cameras. And perhaps Nomura will wander across this and take some notes.

1. FOUNDATION: The camera should show what the player wants to look at, you must predict what they want to look at accurately in order to create a positive intuitive experience. The camera is one of the most important aspect of the entire system, for it is the monocle by which you receive all visual information at any given time.

2. Adjust to the curvature of the ground.
Facing upwards on a hill? Look up. Facing downwards? Look down. Facing off the edge of a cliff? Adjust the camera down so you can see what's on the other side of that cliff face.

3. Zoom out during high velocity sequences.
When you're moving faster, you have less time to perceive what is going on the camera before you move past it. Therefore, pull the camera back to mitigate this blind-siding.

4. (SPECIFIC TO KH3D, THEORY APPLIES ELSE WHERE THOUGH) Drop targeting mechanic, focus the camera on the action.
There are so many enemies in KH3D, and most of your attacks are area-of-effect attacks, so there's very little use in targeting a single enemy to focus your attacks and your camera. The system was shoddy to begin with, often failing to accurately predict your targeting intentions, and it's even worse in this game, where distances are greater and enemies are often more numerous and resilient. Furthermore, in this game it's rare you'll want to focus your attention on any one enemy for more than a hit or two at a time. The camera should automatically adjust by rotating and zooming to display as much of the action on-screen at once, rather than constantly shoving the player's face into the wall while legions of enemies are prepping their devastating one-hit KO attacks behind them, which you have no way to be aware of while you painstakingly take the time to rotate the camera back again. Half the "skill" in this game comes down to planning your movements to properly manipulate the camera just so you can avoid being blind-sided.(total crap)

5. Manual override
Manual camera override should be snappy and responsive. Sometimes the camera system can't predict the player's viewing needs, so the player should be able to adjust it themselves. Obvious, right? Well KH3D seems to even fail on this front, offering only sluggish left/right rotations, and for some reason, not even an option to increase the rotation speed.

Specific to this game, it feels like it holds a horrid grudge against zooming out the camera. It wants to stay right there, practically centered on your ass so you can soak in all the pretty details baked into the character's texture, so you can see the keyblade front-and-center at all times in all its glory. Bollocks. I hope that wasn't part of their reasoning, because it's not like your eyes would even care for those details when you're busy fighting for your life. Plus, if the camera isn't zoomed out we can't see all the pretty battle particle effects, and that's a crying shame.

Make good cameras.



Sunday, July 29, 2012

Oldschool And Nostalgia Is Bollocks

It writhes me to my core when people refer to games as "old-school" or "retro", at least when used in the sense to refer to them in the sense they are actually outdated and somehow passe.

The reason it's absolute bollocks, is because a game is a game is a game, and at its core the technology secedes to the substance.

To imply that older games are no longer relevant is to say that game design itself deprecates.
Well fuck me sideways, I better stop playing Chess. Might as well throw out all my Magic decks, too.
If someone enjoys a game made in 1980 more than a game made in 2012, that doesn't mean they're "nostalgic", it means the equally legitimate form of interactive material appeals to them more than the modern comparative. Saying someone is being merely "nostalgic" immediately implies that the design has deprecated and the only appreciate thing about the material is the loving memories associated with it from a bygone era.

And the thing that sucks is that video games are passe, forced into shackles by the technology that gives them form. As technology progresses, different formats are created to present games with, and the deprecated formats lose support. Then we look to emulation--the constant struggle that it is. A games is a game is a game, and it's a horrific shame that it becomes harder to access games as they age due to deprecating technology, because no matter how much time passes, a good game will remain enjoyable, and it should be enjoyed. And I don't want to pay over and over again with every new system generation just to get my old game collection revised for new hardware. I want my games and I want them to stay. My music stays, my art collection stays, so why can't my games--an equally legitimate form of media--stay as well?

That's absolute bullshit.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ether Souls Dev Highlights

Posting some highlights from the development of Ether Souls:

I made a complete level editor and GUI system in a few days.(four)
And I also made a logo for fun. May or may not use it!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

"Ether Souls" Announced, Dev Blog

I have officially announced my new game project "Ether Souls".

I have made a tumblr to journal my thoughts on this game specifically; you can get started here.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

An open letter to Nintendo

Dear Nintendo,

Please add the ability to store physical games(from a cartridge) to the SD card, for access at any time, not tied to or reliant on the presence or usage of the physical cartridge after the time of storage. While this may be of slight impracticality now, due to the comparative storage size between an average 3DS game and an average SD card, in the coming future it will become more and more practical, and it is undoubtedly a fantastic utility to offer to 3DS owners. Indeed, you are already beginning to offer storage of full-sized games to 3DS owners, as can be seen with the upcoming releases of games like The New Super Mario Bros. 2 for the eShop.

The added accessibility will make carrying the 3DS far more convenient, as people will no longer be forced to bring along physical cartridges and carrying cases, or otherwise, even worse, leave all their other games at home while they carry only one game cartridge which is left in the device. This, as a result, makes the 3DS a much more appealing console in general, an appeal already seen by the demand for digital eShop content. This can be seen as both an alternative and a complement to offering full games on the eShop, as some 3DS owners prefer to also own physical copies, and it helps alleviate potential fallouts in business relationships with retail companies due to the absolute disadvantage physical copies have to digital copies, for portability and accessibility reasons mentioned prior. While digital distribution is undoubtedly the future of game distribution, this will serve as a great service to 3DS owners to help smooth the transition period, especially for those with inadequate internet access. 

Overall, this feature offers a major service to 3DS owners, that of which will not go unrecognized. Such a valuable utility will doubtlessly contribute to greater favor for the 3DS console, and as such may prove to be of great benefit to both your company and to 3DS owners alike.

Thank you for hearing my petition,
- Jack Sanders, "Man In Blue Sweatshirt"

Saturday, June 23, 2012


"Catmeat - Arcade Game +"
"Nekoniku - Akeido Geimu +"


This was a fun one to make. I was deprived of a vector art release for three weeks, and this is the result! Dohoho. I might actually make this game by the way. Plansssssssss~~~~~

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

All The Things I Did Wrong

I'm entering a new paradigm now. I'm going to work differently, I'm going to work better.
This post's service is twofold: First, to publicly reflect on my past mistakes, with the hope of benefiting others in some way, Second, to solidify my transition.

1. I worked ambiguously

Instead of planning things out solidly, I would rush in sloppily, basing my work on an ambiguous idea, aided only by fragments of ideas nilly-willy stitched together by my vague memories of past enjoyments. I would work and become frustrated at my piecemeal results and try to redo things, getting out my tape and glue to try to force things to be cohesive. It just didn't work.

2. Overdesign

This was a direct result of problem #1. Prodded on by cautious notions, I completely overdesigned everything--I set out to program such broad, expansive, extensive systems that I could cram any possible mechanic or feature that I *might* have wanted into the game. I didn't design my programmatic needs beforehand, so I overdesigned to compensate. The result of this was an incredibly bulky, painful architecture to work with every time. This was almost always the one ultimate demotivator that lead to the death of my projects. Developing my game and implementing new content became such a chore that I just wouldn't be able to take it any more.

3. No focus

Remarkably similar to my previous points and often a result of them, my design thematics and mythos often had no focus. There was nothing to unify or solidify them in aesthetic, narrative, or anything else style-wise. The lack of unity made the game feel messy, uninspired, empty, and quite frankly amateur.

4. Lazy, sluggish, negligence

Rather than tackling big things head on, working intelligently and pragmatically, overcoming the learning hurdles in front of me, and so on, I would all too often half-ass a problem and continue with a defunct solution. As only one instance of many, instead of making tools to aid my workflow I would just "tough it out" and go the long way because making tools felt boring and cumbersome. No longer, though. It's a necessary part of the process, and now I'm of a mindset that "it's all gravy".

5. I held myself to relative standards

Instead of considering my work in the broader scope, I would often goad myself by comparing it to my own previous works and to those of my associates as what I believe was a form of desperate self-validation. But by holding myself to lower standards I achieved far lower and limited my vision.

Cheers to a fresh approach.

I was only able to make myself jump this cusp after watching "Indie Game: The Movie"--That was an incredible, eye-opening experience for me.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Game Design: Pacing

Pacing is something we all understand very intuitively, it's the rhythm by which we snap our fingers and tap our feet to the beat, jostling in our seats. It goes deeper though, and today I want to ponderously explore what that is and what it means. I'm going to approach this with an emphasis on interaction design, taking feedback loops and whatnot into consideration.

The first element of analysis is to consider rhythm. With rhythm, you expect the recurrence of a pattern in consistent intervals. So in other words, pacing is defined by "what you expect to come next".

In concrete terms, let's consider a typical puzzle game flow. You begin a level and are introduced a new mechanic. The puzzle with this mechanic is simple and flexible. The level is short. In the next level, the difficulty ramps up a bit, continuing until the pattern repeats and another mechanic is introduced. A sense of pace and flow is created by the repetition of the pattern by which new mechanics are introduced to the player. What if the third mechanic was introduced without any easing in of difficulty, and the player simply couldn't solve the puzzle?

Miraculus & SCHWING

More visual design, and then some scribbling while practicing illustration techniques.(Or more like, after practicing, where I decided to screw around.)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I enamore

Clicky for the full image.
My second thing today!

Hive? Some logo design

Click to lightbox this!
I made this today for fun. I'm pretty fond of the color scheme; I have this thing for analogs. I really like analogs.

Also, my box art commission was completed last friday, I might post it later on. Yay.

So am I a game designer or a graphic designer? The correct answer is "neither"! Why limit myself to a single designation? Muahaha!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Kyoto Beta Released!

Click for full - image via our feature on
My project with Eddie Lee and Jack Menhorn is nearing completion! Download the beta on the official website.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Kyoto Is Nearing Completion

Mmmmm.. Serene.
My project with Eddie Lee(and the excellent musician Jack Menhorn!) is nearing completion! I can't wait to release it to the world. A 95% build should be coming soon.

Monday, April 30, 2012

What's with all this graphic design?

I just recently finished a poster for my school's art festival--of which I shall post soon.

Today I begin my first job in product design, designing some box art. Details to follow!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Admonition Against Ads

I abhor ads in and around my games. The thought disgusts me. I find it to be nearly unethnical and to be bad practice, in fact. Or at least, I am against counting on ads as a primary, sought-after source of revenue.

So let's begin.

Low Return
Comparative to a typical sold game, the exposure:return ratio is very low. I hear typical ad rates are 0.02 to 0.05 cents per click(0.0005 USD) or something to that effect. And what is the cost? Your site is now littered with ugly, disgusting ads. With the accessibility and freedom(of the user to not pay money) of this model comes a cost, and that cost is the aforementioned ugliness joined with the fact you are now stealing your user's time and attention, trying to obscure and distract them from what they came to you for.

I believe that ads bring with them anti-consumer incentives, which is why I abhor them so sodding much. How do you get more ad money? More clicks! More ads! More site visits! Volume! I, as a game developer, am incentivized to produce a mass marketable, manipulative, disgustingly addicting games in order to quite honestly milk my playerbase for profit. I am incentivized to litter my site with more and more ads, and even go to such drastic measures as to include ad videos. That's absurd! That is so anti-consumer, so so so terribly anti-consumer.

I'd rather provide a quality service at a price point. Sacrificing the quality, the sanctity, of an experience and the user's time is disgusting. It's nothing but manipulating and milking them across the board. There is no respect there.

That is why I will avoid supporting the ad market with my games however possible.
Ethics, for the damn sodding win.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Conquest: Herb Garden

I finished it! I'm fairly satisfied with my completed project. It was very fun, and most evocatively tiring. I'll do a postmortem later once I've had more time to collect my thoughts

Friday, April 20, 2012

Ludum Dare 48.. 23...10

I'm going to be participating in the Ludum Dare 48 Hour Rapid Game Prototyping Competition For Sexy Independent(nonexclusive) Game Developers #23 for the 10th anniversary of the event.

This is my first time participating in LD.
I might do a few "devlog" posts during development. Game will be posted upon completion.

The intention of this post is totally to obligate me to produce something.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

More Beautifying

(click for full, as usual)

Yet more visual work. Fear not, lots more core game work goes on in the background, I'm just being a bit more discreet on that for now, mostly because a lot is still up in the air. But some pleasant surprises are in store as well.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Lizard Warrior Video

Please Join In!

I've made a little web app(or whatever you want to call it) to collect some statistics:

It's a total data whoring experiment, but it should be fun and I should be able to make some pretty neat conclusions off of it.

Please participate, and thank you!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Why I've Loved Designing Lizard Warrior and Kyoto

(By the way, if you haven't heard, I'm working on Kyoto with Eddie Lee)

The other day I was sitting there, sipping some ginger ale(an indie developer not drinking coffee or tea? blasphemy!), and I thought to myself "damn, I love making these games." It was a really amazing feeling, of elation and excitement and joy.

And I wondered why.
I realized it was because I wasn't basing my game on genres, conventions, or tropes. I was just going for it. Doing what felt right. As a whole it's a liberating experience. I feel very free. My creative juices are gushing right now, dood.

I'm not aiming to innovate, or go "further" than other games--I'm just going my own thing, going in my own direction, designing my games with my own vision for what they could be in the end. Some elements are inspired by games before it, some inspired by any other manner of the things which have influences me in my life, and some simply a product of my ingenuity.

I feel like I'm building something unique and special. And it's great.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Lizards.. SSsssss~

Showcasing a few simple graphical improvements.
(Click images for full res)
So I though to myself, "hey, I should write something on where I'm going with Lizard Warrior. Because yeah, I have a blog. Makes sense." So, I went to take a snapshot of my game and I realized to myself two things:

One, how most nearly useless it would be because most of the visual improvements lately have been visual effects which are difficult to communicate in a still.

Two, how far my game has went in such a short amount of time, especially considering how much time I've spent on it.(read: not all that much)

In the screenshot pictured above you can see the improved background graphic and the final bits of a smoke explosion animation playing, which triggers when an enemy is defeated. Wasps explode into swaths of smoke, awesome!

A mockup to tease the new character, Toad.(the frog)
For the future of the game, I'm planning on creating multiple playable characters, much to the dismay of the game's title. The first of which is "Toad", who is a frog. All of the characters will be unique to one another and play very differently, for that is their purpose. It should make for lots of great variety and fun times to be had.

I'll also be removing the stat upgrading in favor of a skill tree, which will give me much more flexibility in designing ways to upgrade your character.

In addition to this will be what I am calling "Personalities", where you pick a personality for your character. The personality you pick affects them in some way!(read: somewhat undecided) This will add another layer of depth to choosing characters and will help introduce interesting complex strategies. Also, if I ever add dialogue to the game these will have a major role in it somehow.

I made textboxes but I don't have a use for them yet...
Beyond characters, I'm working on the game's first boss, which, unless something big makes me change my mind, is going to be a giant crocodile. My goal is to make it epic, and to make you feel like a tiny little helpless ant at the mercy of a merciless child with an aerosol can of bug spray.

Sound effects are being worked on. I'm not satisfied with my SFXR-generated sound effects, so I'm thinking of making an ambitious move and recording my own, somehow. We'll see how that works out. Voice acting is also being experimented with. Hahaha!

To wrap things up, I'm also putting a lot of effort into the level design now. I'm enjoying the mix of pre-made levels and procedural generation, so far it's been a lot of fun to work with.

Not sure how much of this stuff will be completed by the time I feel like releasing the next version, butttt, it's being worked on!

Ciao for now!!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

"Combat Skip Button" and SUCKING at game design

This is my view on a subject discussed in one of TotalHalibut's "The Mailbox" episodes on Youtube. (link) It begins around the 2:00 mark I believe.

To be brief, talking about whether a "Skip Combat" mechanism(fairly self-descriptive I believe) is called for in some games. Various arguments are tossed around in both directions, but I'll skip summarizing that. Instead I'm just going to jump right in to my position on the subject.

Note that my hypothetical "you" is directed at developers.

BOTTOM LINE: If your game would be better off having had a "Skip Combat" button then you flat out suck at game design and you failed really damn hard. Your game sucks and it's not worth playing.

As a game, if you design your combat in a way that ends up making users want to skip it, you fail. You fail hard. Go make a movie, because chances are the only reason one would want to keep progressing through your game at that point would be to know what happens next in the plot-line. Or REMOVE the combat, because it apparently sucks so damn hard that is only acts to disservice the player and hamper the experience. That's the result of a "Skip Combat" button anyway.

I don't think any more elaboration is necessary.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Smooth Shading? What is this crap?

So yes, right there is my first attempt at making a piece of art which is smooth shaded. Who knew it would take me so long to try it? I'm pretty pleased with the results. Some things look a bit too pillow-y and lack the amount of volume definition that I'd like, but I'm OK with that as a first try. Highlights on hair are the bane of my existence.

- ALSO -

New Lizard Warrior update is being worked on. Lots of neat stuff is happening there.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Lizard Warrior

I made this game called "Lizard Warrior" for 7DRL. I didn't get as much time as I wanted to work on it, so as a result it was less roguelike more platform action rpg by the time the week was over. However, I liked the project so much that I decided to continue with it.

Your are a lizard man in a scary ass swamp. And pretty much everything is trying to kill you.


Play the game

Development will be gradual, along side my other aforementioned project which has as of yet remained rather mysterious.

A Month of Hiatus

This past month has been hectic for me; school, financials, preparing to move, university woes, etc.
And by extension, I did not allocate time towards writing for this blog, and furthermore did not have much to write about. Be ready for that to change.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Downloadable Content

I think just about everyone whose opinion I care about in the gaming scene has a vocalized opinion on DLC. It's a matter I keep close to heart, because DLC is a slightly obscured term for "paid game content" which has acquired a relatively unbecoming context as of late.

And I understand why, and I see it as two main reasons.
The first one is that publishers are doing these things to extrapolate more money from their fan base. I see this as unethical and greedy. It's a betrayal of the trust and financial investment fans are willing to put into franchises they love.
Second, because it rarely adds value to a game. This is a tricky subject, but I see the root of the problem as the fact that the games are so damn expensive in the first place. Let's be honest--If the game in question was $20 a lot of us would probably feel much better about DLC.
But then there's also the lack of added value. Usually DLC is gimmicky, rushed, badly thought out, and generally clashes with the theme, plotline, or mood of the game.

Here's an instance of what I would consider "good" DLC, and how I see it being both sensible and economically profitable:

A large, episodic game. Perhaps it's an RPG or a shooter--I don't know. But the point is that it's heavily plot based and the story is long. If a developer wants to make this game in the conventional market, there are few desirable options: they could try to cram it all in to one game, which would likely come with compromises. They could release the game in multiple entries with sequels, except there are publisher expectations and player expectations which come with sequels as well, not to mention the older games eventually feeling dated, leading to no one wanting to play the earlier ones and by effect not playing the later ones--it becomes a highly niche title/franchise which makes it even less viable. It would be difficult in either case for the developers to make a good profit and to by extension continue their series.(and, you know, get paid in general)

Neither of those options, in the standard etiquette, are desirable. But here's one that is:

The game is released entirely digitally. Why?
1) the "base game" can be free and can act as the demo--The first chapter or two, for example.
2) episodes of the game could be sold as paid content. This makes the game very approachable for newcomers and devoted fans alike. It helps maintain a revenue stream so long as the developers keep making their episodes. But here's the main point: this is genuine, quality, polished content that's part of what the game is really about. It's not a tacked on extra, it's the core game.
3) the base game(engine, art assets, etc.) stays in the same base so it can be updated uniformly as time goes on.

This sounds good on all accounts, right? The player wins, the developer wins, the publisher wins.(if there is one) I see these sort of systems as the future market for gaming, and it goes right in-hand with digital distribution. The fact is, DLC is the natural child of digital distribution, he's just waiting on daddy to let him grow up and walk on his own.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Slime Commune Republic

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Goodbye January

January now fades away.

I've got a game project I'm super excited to reveal, so keep an eye out.
Uninteresting teaser:

Yes indeed. A title screen. I shall now strut off the stage, exit right, with the classiness of a true gentleman and the irony of a US Senator's philanthropic efforts.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Tits In Games

Recently I've noticed a lot of controversy over sex appeal in games. I read one particular article about it on IGN the other day, and it got me thinking. So, here's my opinion.

Ultimately, It seems there's one point everyone is missing.

But before I talk directly on that, I'd like to share a moment from the extremely tasteful visual novel Katawa Shoujo:
The main character is attending a high school for the disabled. He has a heart condition, and originally feels it unfair that he was put there. When he first joins he has difficulty getting to know the other students because he doesn't know how to regard their disabilities. One day after class he stays in with his teacher. The main character brings up that it's difficult to either avoid or bring up the subject of the other person's disability. He feels like it's a big deal and he doesn't know how to address it. The teacher simply tells him this( I quote roughly ): "It's only a big deal if you make it one. If you can look past it then you'll be able to see everything else."

... See where I'm going with this? This sexualization is only a big deal because people are making it one. Yes, shame on those unethical marketers who take advantage of your manipulable libidos. But ultimately, you'll be the one who sits there gawking at that girl with her goods flaunted. Some girls have big chests or curvy hips, so what?

Look past it,
If you don't like it, make it clear that you don't care for it.
Make it clear that you don't want your characters' personalities compromised for sex appeal.
Make it clear that you could care less about bodacious curves.
Make it clear that you desire artistic value rather than titillation.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Next-Gen Gaming, how I see it. Part 2

(this is part 2 in a series about what I envision the next generation of gaming to be. For part 1, click here.)

So! It's been a while. Two glorious debates later I've come out with refreshed and further refined opinions. First I'll start off with an addendum to my Part 1 of this series, then we'll move right on along.

After speculation, I realized that what I was asking for is practically already here. And guess who's made it? Microsoft. I had completely forgotten about XNA, which lets you create games for both PC and Xbox. It's pretty much exactly what I was envisioning for it to be, too. In theory, it shouldn't be too hard for Microsoft to make this leap for their full development platform. If they do end up making this jump, I think there will be huge benefits for both developers and players.

But on the other hand, Steam. Is Microsoft ready to compete with Steam? Most PC gamers, as well as I, would agree that "Games For Windows" sucks. I think if Microsoft wants to go this route they'll have to revise their approach in order to be successful.

I have also realized it is quite unlikely that either Nintendo or Sony will follow suit. I'm certain Nintendo wouldn't, in fact. So in a conclusion to that I'll leave it as saying that it's a great opportunity for Microsoft.

Now back to the good part!
It's time for digital downloads. The more I've thought about this the more controversial I feel this subject is. On one hand, convenience, streamlining, conserving resources. On the other, an entire sub-industry of middlemen.

If all game content went digital companies like GameStop would be utterly destroyed, it would be their doom. They're a middleman.

They do marketing and junk, and they give people jobs. But I'm not going to argue about such political shit(excuse the profanity), because that doesn't matter here. What I'm talking about is "the next step forward". The guys at GameStop, EB Games, etc. can go get jobs elsewhere, sorry. And I'll tell you why.

First and foremost, the middleman. Middlemen suck. They muddy things up, raise prices, and generally become another barrier between you and the source. They exist to leech profits by bringing things from one party to another. But guess what? We don't need that anymore. Internet connectivity can bring you content straight from a distribution channel like WiiWare, Xbox Marketplace, or Playstation Store.

Also, cutting out the middleman helps extent profits straight to the developers. When the developers get more profit... Guess what? Good things, you can hope. Of course, this means any game you buy will be full-priced. But, as the theory goes, if the developers get more profits they'll be able to lower the prices of their games. That may not become a reality, though. However, I do believe there will be more of a pressure for publishers to put out cheaper games if that happens, especially because of the rising popularity of indie games. That's a subject for another day, though.

Next is physical media. Since we can reason that buying game discs is no longer necessary, the material is simply a waste. Manuals are no longer necessary. It's a waste of plastic, a waste of paper, and a waste of a disc. Some people say "it's a nice presentation", but I'd argue an interactive panorama full of videos, trailers, review, info, etc is a much better presentation for a potential buyer.

Then there's the issue of "ownership" with physical, that people want their physical media because it makes them feel like they truly own the game. Well, it's an illusion, I'd say. It's perfectly plausible that a company like Microsoft could deactivate your account or brick your Xbox on a whim. Does that happen? No. It's bad for business, which should be enough a reason to end that argument there. Also, you still do technically own the storage media in the same way. Except now all your games are clumped together on a hard disk rather than a DVD. Oh well? My point here is that remote control of your console software was inevitable when internet connectivity came along.

Oh yes, and. There'd be no more clutter. No more "losing games". All your purchases would be backed up to your account, of course, so you don't need to worry about that! Re-download as much as you need to. The downside, of course, is that you will no longer be able to let people borrow your games. Perhaps some "trade" system may be implemented by console makers to remedy this, but I'm not too confident in that. So in this case it becomes a personal trade-off, of course. How many games do you really trade and borrow out? For me it honestly isn't many.

So to recap:

  1. No more middleman
  2. Better for developers
  3. Convenience
  4. Not wasting materials(better for the environment)
  5. Practically no "ownership" loss
  6. Can't lose games, better service
  7. No clutter
  8. Potentially lower prices
  1. No trading
  2. Retailers might go out of business
  3. No used games
  4. Higher prices(due to pt. 1 and 3)
  5. Lost marketing from retailers

Weigh it for yourself, of course, but you can see which side I lay on, and I hope my argument was effective in persuading those of you who remain skeptical.

Thanks extend to Timothy Hsu, aka sonicblastiose and editor of The Mediocrity Codex, for helping me refine my ideas over an intense twitter-argument.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Next-Gen Gaming, how I see it. Part 1

The console scene is something I am both intimately connected to and irrevocably separated from. Game consoles represent gaming in it's entirety for most people, so for that I must indeed care about it. But yet, I personally am not one who particularly favors them nor has the kind of money to have my own and buy games for, etc.

In this generation, we've seen amazing leaps. More so, in my opinion, than any of the previous console generations. And it's all thanks to internet connectivity, of course. We have networked gaming, DLC, patching(of both games and the system itself), and downloadable games.(don't forget XBLIG and XNA) I think another day I'll go over how fantastic these features are and how these systems' potential is being missed currently, but that's for another day. Today I want to talk about what I'd like to see be part of the future of console gaming.

I'd like to see complete integration with PCs. First and foremost, a gaming console is a computer. Moreso than ever, in fact. They have similar components that run programs/games in an identical fashion that PC computers do. What I would like to see in the next generation is games running on both PC and console, no porting.

For instance, Microsoft could make the next Xbox be a special version of a Windows computer specifically geared towards playing games and being a home entertainment center.(signs actually show that this is a possibility!) However, for Sony and Nintendo this might not be so easy. They certainly won't want to embed Windows on their consoles, never mind the fact that Microsoft might not allow it if they can. Linux/Unix is of course always a possibility, seeing as both the PS3 and Wii are based on it already, form what I've heard. But then of course there's the issue that most people won't want to use Linux, never mind the fact that they might not have the technical skill or desire to do it themselves. For this instance I can see Nintendo and Sony releasing special flavors of the OS which mirrors the OS they end up putting on the console. Issue here is that might be effort they're not willing to put in.

Ultimately there are several reasons to unify PC and console. Most importantly from my perspective is the greater ease put on developers. It would be much easier to test a game because they'd be able to test it right from their development computer and there would be no hassle in investing in special development tools. This system would also make digital downloads much easier. Most people on PCs already prefer if not exclusively demand digital downloads, which is supported by the fact that hard drives are cheap and accessible.

Now, with this will also come a host of issues. For one, piracy and hacking. There will be lots of worry for publishers on piracy, and lots of worries for players on hacking. Well, it happens already--Consoles are computers, like I said. People have created plenty of methods for hacking and pirating on current-gen consoles. If you're seeking solutions for these problems, go ask the good 'ol guys at Valve, I'm sure they'll have fantastic advice to give on the subject.

Then of course is fragmentation(of hardware specs), arguably PC's greatest issue. My answer to this, put simply, is that it isn't that much of an issue. Remember, I'm not saying getting rid of consoles. I'm saying still make consoles, but much more like a "standard issue" console-PC that comes built and ready to play games, etc. For people who don't want to deal with specs, they simply won't have to.

I can already tell that many people would want this on a console still, and that's to be expected. But merging the console and PC software opens up the vast and ever-hungry market of PC gamers, many of which beg and beg for more games to be released on it. This does two things, it gives them what they want(and gives you money, what you want, publishers), and as a result gives PC gamers the satisfaction they desire and henceforth feel much better about what you offer as a company, which I think is a really big plus.

And that sums up my "Part 1" of this series: Merge PC and console software.

Microsoft is in absolutely the best position to make this leap, and I'm cheering for them to do this. It will benefit them and the players alike, give them a big edge on the competition, and so on and so forth.

Have a nice day, everybody~

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Day 4: Resources

(this is for the TIGSource World Building Challenge, found here.) 

The Samaric people are highly varied and diverse. This diversity has cultivated from the diverse landscapes present in Samar, as detailed on the second day of our Valgan exploration.

Above all for the Samaric people, the key currency is time. In all but Malsad, work is key. It is not uncommon to enter servitude to pay off a debt or obtain an item of interest from someone. Now bear in mind, a majority of the Samaric people are not materialistic; they are pragmatic and practical. For instance, many Samaric "inns" do not require a trade of currency to stay in one of their rooms, but rather you do work for them so long as you stay. That is the way of things.

Except for Malsad and the trade cities, of course, where currency has become king in the recent decades. First ordained and now regulated by the "Divine Order" of Malsad, their money consists of brass coins adorned with the mark of the gods. Due to this, there is a prevalence of materialism and greed in what are formally known as the "trade cities". Outsiders of the trade cities, though, often detest their ways, and it is not uncommon to hear trade cities referred to with slanderous names.

Beyond the currencies of trade, the land of Samar is generally bountiful in food and water.

In the hilly region of Borg there is little farming of crops. Wild berries are often gathered and picked, which forms a staple food of the Borg peoples' culture. They also sparingly herd manners of bovine-esque animals in ranches, which are used for milk and meat. Rivers are abundant in Borg, which make up their main source of water. Borg has very few mineral resources, so it is often left alone by the Malsads.

Figan is the least populated of all the Samaric regions, and for good reason. While the rainforests are lush and plentiful with food, they are immensely dangerous. The northwestern marshes are sparse both in terms of vegetation and in animal life. All manners of slimy critters, parasites, insects, and scum-dwelling fish make their homes there. This greatly impacts the lives of residents of Figan, as you may imagine, and is precisely why reptilians often make their home here, both for the lack of people and for the abundance of suitable foods.

Due to Malsad's immense population and industrialization, it imports most of it's food from farms neighboring other regions's trade cities. Malsad was once rich with mineral mines, but they have since been dug out and made into jewelry, weapons, machines, and etc.

Kahir's landscape teems with all manners of wildlife. The people of Kahir namely live off of eating small rodent and swine-like animals. Insects are also a major staple food. The people of Kahir collect rain water from the treetops with special mechanisms which funnel water from above down through a tube. In some senses, it is the upside-down construct of a well. Kahir's east island, which borders Malsad, has been terraformed by the Malsads into their perfect island for farming. A major bridge connects this island to Malsad, and on each side of it a major trade city.

And once again we will end things off talking about Vendus. Vegetables form the majority of their diet, both on the mainland on on the peninsula, although the staple vegetables vary between the two. As in Borg, Vendus relies on the many rivers for their water. On the peninsula, where there are less rivers, rain water is often collected and stored in large urns for their water supply. The northern mountains and receding area are extremely plentiful in minerals, all of which Malsad values. There is an ongoing conflict in Vendus over these mining operations, which often causes a ruckus for the towns nearby as well as the traffic of the transport carriers. Due to this, there is much prejudice towards the Malsads in Vendus.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Day 3: Temple of the Gods

(this is for the TIGSource World Building Challenge, found here.) 

For earth torn asunder,
Homestead gone a-blunder,
Forever shall our spirits stay,
commit to eternal pray.

Temple of the Gods,
Cradle of the Earth,
Under the shadow of Uweka cast,
our fate tied to gray stone brass.

Yorund dast Valir.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Day 2: Geography and Climate

(this is for the TIGSource World Building Challenge, found here.)

Map of the Samar province of ValgaP.S. Scans and digital art coming soon

For the length of this World Building Challenge I will be focusing on the province of Samar in the world of Valga. Samar is split up into five regions: Borg, Figan, Malsad, Vendus, and Kahir.

Borg is a hilly and somewhat dry region of Samar. To its west are the arid plains and dry beaches. The east is covered with long stretches of rolling hills and winding rivers. Its mild climate, abundance of rivers, and generous vegetation has led to it becoming a densely populated region. The capitol city of Borg is located along the banks of it's large central lake, depicted in the map above. To its south is a large mountain range which stretches for the better part of the land mass, marking the southern border of Samar.

Figan, contrary to Borg, is a sparsely populated region. To its southeast are dense rainforest-like forests and particularly humid weather. Its climate cultivates all manners of spectacular creatures, but many find them to be rather... voracious. To the northwest of the Figan islands is a more marsh-like environment, a perfect home for many reptilians and the like. The populace here is sparse, but it does exist. To the far east are a small set of recently discovered islands which no explorer has yet returned to recount upon.

Malsad is the self-proclaimed "royal capitol" of the Samar province.(more on that later) Malsad features the heaviest population of the entire province and nearly the entire island is covered in buildings. In the center of Malsad are a group of mountains and a great rivers which runs down to the southern coast.

Kahir is densely forested and receives rain for much of the year. Nearly the entire island is covered in trees and flora, and it teems with wildlife. The intense thickness of the forest seldom allows light to pierce the canopies, and often the forest floor is nearly completely dry. The people of Kahir often live in seclusion.

Finally is Vendus. The northern half of Vendus is rocky and mountainous. To the north are a great mountain range that is said to be impossible to cross, and as such it marks the northern border of Samar. Many rivers flow down from the frigid ice caps of the Vendus mountains, giving the central section of the region healthy vegetation and plentiful grasslands. The southern section of Vendus, its long-reaching peninsula, shares a partial representation of Kahir's climate. It is forested, but no where near as densely as Kahir. Some of the same plants and animals may be found there as well. This southern section of Vendus is it's most populated area, having a major trade city on it's eastern tip. Vendus has the highest biological diversity of all of Samar's regions, with Figan coming in second.

Day 1: World

(this is for the TIGSource World Building Challenge, found here.)

Many a mystery it is, the origin of our world.

However the origin of Valga is not a mystery, for at this very moment it has been conceived from the furnace and bellows of my intellect-- Get to the point, you say? What? Blasphemy.


In the beginning, there was nothing. Yet, also everything. The universe, known to the people as Va'lun, yet existed in it's perfect, wholesome state. Yes, Va'lun was perfect... then. The seven original beings, known to the people of Valga as gods, inhabited Va'lun. Of the seven gods were Vaati, Venci, Maya, Ooin, Koren, Jalga(pronounce the J as a Y), and Horan, all who will be introduced later.

The gods, put in simple terms understandable for your meager brain, were bored. And furthermore, they did not get along. After unquantifiable stretches of time, their quarrels met end with compromise. They agreed to separate from each other. Each god left to exist in their own plane of the universe, which today are the seven planes of Va'lun.

However, this separation sanctioned further boredom. To alleviate boredom, the gods all eventually began tapping into the powers of the void, Vanir. In the universe, there is nothing, yet also everything. The ultimate sum of all matter in Va'lun is zero. Tapping into the Vanir allows one to control the universal existence of all matter, manipulating what exists and does not exist beyond the laws of physics as we know them. Some call this black magic.

Eons then passed, and the gods had so heavily used Vanir, irresponsibly, that pockets of negative matter existed scattered about throughout Va'lun. And then the goddess Maya made a grave mistake, attempting to clean out negative matter, they offset the universe's balance. The matter count was no longer zero. In an infinite instant the matter, the world, and the heavens compacted into an infinitely tiny and infinitely massive sphere. The gods were crushed, quite literally. With the last bit of their life force, they agreed to surrender their crushed bodies to circumvent their doom and restore the zero-balance of Va'lun.

It happened, and they died.

In the next infinite instant, the universe exploded and expanded infinitely to create existence as is now known. The gods were not entirely dead, they yet existed as ghosts--Omnipresent spirits which only managed a meager half-existence. With the final remains of their power, the gods put forth a plan. They would create a world which would self cultivate. It would live, flourish, and grow on it's own. And it would be given one ultimate goal--The resurrection of the gods.

This world, of course, was Valga. Vaati, with her expert analytical abilities, identified the best hunk of rock she could, shaped it into a sphere, and flooded it with water. Venci, with his burning tenacity, shaped the land of the world, set it's core ablaze, and gave it's tectonic planes their first, infinite push. Maya, ever so sorrowful for her mishaps, created weather cycles and the first forces of nature. Ooin, with his careful and deliberate touch, created the first non animal life forms. Then Koren, a master of mediation, created the first language and left scrolls of immense knowledge for the emissaries they would create. Jalga, then, with her careful and loving attention, created the first animal as a derivative of Koren's first creation, which would form the base for all other animals. Then finally, Horan, who spent the last remnants of his energy casting his soul into the earth, so he could ever-so-deliberately track and guide the progress of life toward their ultimate goal.

This was, and is, Valga. It's relatively small, compared to our planet. Do not fret, though, for in the coming weeks you shall learn the true meaning of "big things come in small packages.", for the world of Valga is yet vast and bountiful.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


Hi internet, it's been a while.
So it seems, after all, that the world did not end at the split infinity of a second following the end of December 31st, 2011.

Fun fact: This year, 2012, will end on a Monday. Today is Sunday. Is that relavant? I don't think so, actually.

I'll be taking a slightly different direction with my "hello, new year!" post than everyone else probably is. I don't want to summarize my year of 2011. I don't want to reminisce or some crap like that. Instead, now is a perfect opportunity to reflect on my faults and what I did wrong, for it is in your own faults that you may eventually find the way to a better self.

I spent way too much time doing nothing.

When I say "nothing", though, I don't mean I loafed around being entirely unproductive, although I admit there was quite a bit of that as well. What I mean is that I spent too much time trying to be productive and not being productive. I would agonize over a careful plan in my head, trying to come up with a perfect solution to a problem. I told myself I didn't do this, too. Yes, I denied that I did this to myself, which I now see fed the problem due to my own denial.

And then I was too inhibited. I often let inhibitions, reservations, fears, doubts, pressures, etc. overcome me and reduce me to an unproductive whiner machine. And trust me, I whined to myself a lot. Spending too much time being inhibited by these feelings further fed the problem because I was not able to get anything done. I didn't deal with these problems, and they self-perpetuated. Just how it goes, I guess.

I also let my doubts maim my confidence. Confidence is a surprising key to creating good work. Sometimes someone can have the potential within themselves to do great things, they just need the confidence--the belief in themselves--to realize it. For a long time I confused confidence with arrogance, I must confess. But now I see the difference.

Upon reflection, it's apparent to me that these problems were not separate, and such is the way of things. I felt that, recently, as I identified and attempted to deal with one of these problems, the others would lessen too. The connection was obvious.
Ultimately though my problems manifested into a boulder. But it was not just any boulder, it was a boulder I drug with me on my shoulders. Not only did it slow me, but it fatigued me and drained me. And now I'm casting off this boulder. I'll always remember the boulder, though. I'll remember my experiences with it, so that in the future I know not to put another boulder on my shoulders, because I know how badly it affects me.

Peace out, internet.
Have a great year.
I hope you may all realize your flaws,
and overcome them.