The righteous suffering of the enlightened few

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DOOM is near.

And some people get so riled up about it, you could think the world was at stake.

id Software’s new shooter title is getting slammed by PC gamers for not delivering whatever it was they wanted. It’s dumb and sluggish because it was made for consoles! For casual gamers! The developer is ignoring the splendid marketing opportunity that is PC gaming! They’re practically throwing away money! You can only carry two guns at a time and it’s all geared towards newbies! All that massive skill PC gamers built up since the 90s goes to waste because any gamepad wielding console kiddie can just pick up the demon spawn and blow everyone away! Imagine that, it’s practically socialism! Real players use a mouse and keyboard and have a gaming rig instead of some shitty console! In my day, we didn’t have everything handed to us! Everything has gone to hell.

At the same time, Playstation and xbox gamers seem to like it well enough. How come?

Gamepad vs mouse

I’m of the opinion that, for gaming, a gamepad is generally the most comfortable controller. I don’t like it if both my hands have to be glued to stationary input devices (keyboard and mouse) for an extended amount of time. That feels like work. I like sitting back and having some freedom to physically move around and change position. A gamepad allows me to do that. I’ve always loved gamepads since I first used one for this reason alone. Ergonomics. I’m not chained to a certain position and my fingers can easily reach all controls. It’s successful for a reason.

Good games are good games by design, not by virtue of the input device they are made for. There are tons of great console games to prove it. Heck, great mobile games too.

Keyboard-and-mouse does allow for more precision when it comes to quick turns and aiming, but it is hopelessly outdated as a default input method for games because it’s uncomfortable and most games don’t require the extra precision. 90s games used it because that was what people had. Twenty years later, people have USB gamepads and Xboxes / Playstations so that’s what games get made for.  The gamepad won because it’s the better, more ergonomic, more comfortable option in 99% of all cases. The other 1% (twitchy shooters, esports) are a niche market.

Consoles vs PCs

It’s not that “consoles are bad”. Consoles are great at delivering affordable, easy to control gaming systems to millions of households. Gamepads are great for the aforementioned reasons.  It’s just that the people complaining about the lack of PC-exclusive mouse-driven twitch shooters are finding themselves a minority and not liking it. To a degree, I can understand that. I grew up with keyboard and mouse driven games, too. But very soon, I was spending the majority of my gaming time on my Playstation with such classics as Final Fantasy, Vagrant Story, Metal Gear Solid, and Tomb Raider. And I loved it. Doom and Quake were cool, but where I’m concerned, the original Playstation’s roster of famous games was as cool. And the gamepad seemed so much more stress free.

It’s not that “console ports suck.” Console ports are an attempt to bring the most popular games to a platform that’s typically not geared towards gaming. Yes, some people have “gaming rigs”. But the majority of PC users don’t, the majority of PCs are home office systems and laptops, and that makes the majority of PCs less suited to play games on than game consoles. Incidentally, that’s why consoles sell like hotcakes. Consoles won because they’re easy-to-use dedicated gaming systems for the people.

Masochistic 90s trip

All the major games are coming to consoles first and foremost these days. We remaining dinosaurs of the keyboard-and-mouse age, those of us that don’t participate in esports anyway, should probably buy consoles and just enjoy the ride. We need to come down from our masochistic 90s trip. And our equally masochistic internet hissy fit whenever another game is released only to disappoint us. Ah, it feels so good to endure the righteous suffering of the enlightened few! Or does it? Is self-inflicted ordeal your thing? Maybe not. Maybe it’s just that we have become snarky, entitled assholes without noticing. “Everything has gone to shit” is our war cry. I fall for it myself sometimes. But it’s really not healthy.

Maybe it’s us who need porting, not the games.

Now get off my lawn.


Cross your edges, Blender

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Damn, Blender. You made me spend hours breaking my head about how to merge edges at their intersection.  And then I find out you can’t do it. How is this not part of the standard functionality? I’m surprised. You made me jump through hoops, old friend.

I had to do that switch wheel in two parts because all the control edges would create ridges in the outer ring. So I decided to chop it up and sort of do the middle part as a floater. This is all going to get baked down anyway. I’m a bit rusty on the high poly modelling side!

cerp_wip1

The CERP rifle got a make-over in GIMP. I decided that the shoulder stock is movable. A magazine will have to fit in there somehow – perhaps remove the stock, or rotate it somehow, to exchange the magazine.


Theme Park

Two additional themes joined the growing pile of SJ soundtrack material recently. These are work in progress and might appear in the finished game in various different guises. “Building blocks” would describe these pretty well.

The first is a heroic adventure type theme. I’m not sure where it will end up. For one, I’ll probably add stuff to it as I go. The other is a horns-and-trombones fanfare that sounds a bit like troops marching along. Maybe this will end up being the theme for Naruuk, the Star-Eater, although probably in a more evil sounding variation.

These are fun to make. I knocked each of them together in Reaper in a couple hours, using Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra and the EpicVerb plugin by Variety of Sound.

The actual soundtrack will have to be cobbled together from various dynamic bits and pieces and will probably be one of the last things that get done, simply because it needs to be fitted to cinematics and so forth. It’s never too early to start producing material, though. The more there is to choose from, the better!

There’s several other themes that have never been uploaded here, so audio friends have something to look forward to!


From the Righting Desk

The script to Scout’s Journey is developing continuously. Some really nice feedback I got recently made it clear to me that some things need to be better explained or prepared. I have ways to do that and am currently implementing the required changes. The player should understand these things much better now. This is where feedback really comes in handy.

The character of Scout has been under scrutiny. Her reaction to various terrible events (and there are terrible things in this game, believe me, it’ll have to ship with a trigger warning) was often too cold. She is a little more emotional now, but still far from touchy-feely. She is a soldier after all. This emotional side to her character practically requires any combat to be of a steep difficulty with retreat always a viable option – we have to avoid the “emotional cutscenes, mindless brutality in gameplay” problem that plagues some other games. I’m doing that by making the two ends meet somewhere in the middle. You can kill for your food in Scout’s Journey, but it won’t be a casual thing. Going up against a fully stocked faction battle group armed to the teeth won’t be easy. The enemy is as tough as you. Gotta use those smarts, place a few traps, put devious plans into action to soften up the target before you strike. Bring some friends or exploit inter-faction warfare, maybe. Or just stay hidden, listen in on a patrol and learn a profitable code or a password.

The plot is also slightly shorter now. A dozen scenes have been cut from the script, especially those that neither moved the main plot nor dealt with Scout’s character development or any subplots. The largest amount of worldbuilding takes place in logfiles (both audio and text), lore, quests, dialog and environmental storytelling now. The script contains two flashbacks treating the parts of the story that happened before Scout came along, but that’s it.

The scenes of the introduction have been pared down and reordered so the story starts with the main character instead of the exposition. The entire thing has a more solid feel now.

Did I say earlier that the story was finished, or that writing was easy? Hahaa, well, reality called. It’s actually unbelievably friggin’ hard. But on the upside, the script is basically there. The script outline is complete, the ending stands, the middle has subplots and twists, the plot is a solid thing, the characters are in place. Large parts have been written out in long-form, dialogue script already. It’s just about fixing it up and polishing now. The last 10% are the hardest.

For your entertainment, you may read a recently written audio log (one page) here.

 


These boots are made for…

Feminist Frequency are at it again with a short dissection of character animation.

The video speaks for itself.

I’m going to soak my brain in acid now.


My stance on Let’s Plays

In reference to this:

I like Let’s Plays. But when a game only sells 15,000 copies and its Let’s Play videos on Youtube have millions of hits, and youtubers make a profit off of that while the developers get nothing, there’s an imbalance.

Yes, there is fair use. An honest review would be fair use of the developer’s content because both parties get something out of it. You take something, and you give something back. However, putting large amounts of content on Youtube with very little effort spent on commentary by the youtuber, or just trashing someone’s content in a derogatory way for effect, to amuse your audience, is a bit much, especially if the youtuber makes good money off of it.

It has to meet a certain level of fairness. The question is, then, where the line should be drawn.

Look at the term “fair use.” See, there’s the word “fair” in it. Could we use that as a guideline to determine when we’re going too far?

When you’re a youtuber whose videos regularly get millions of hits, or you have millions of subscribers, and the maker of the game is an individual or a small indie developer who sells a couple thousand copies at most (and no, this is not “easy to accomplish” for an indie game), then you’re in a much stronger position. You’ll typically use other people’s content to become even more famous and make even more money. You’ll even trash that developer’s game just because your viewers love to see you do that. It might not even be about the content, it’s probably about you, the youtube celebrity, and your career, and your army of subscribers, and your expensive shampoo, for fuck’s sake.

That stretches the “fair use” thing a little, especially if the other guy spent five years making that game in a dirty cellar eating mouldy bread and then didn’t see a penny for it because his investor, his publisher and Steam took it all. You know, that even makes me a little angry.

And it doesn’t matter what kind of game content it is. An exploration game is not worse than a shooter or a strategy game or an MMO. Exploration IS a game mechanic. It is not somehow “more OK” to rip off a “walking simulator” or a “casual game.” That would be sitting on a very high horse. Content is content. Fair is fair.

I would be OK with a treshold-based model. Giving a cut (10%?) of game video profits (ad revenue) to the content maker if the youtuber has more than 100,000 subscribers or the video gets more than 250,000 hits. Something like that. And put a mandatory link to the game’s website in the description out of fairness. This would allow hobbyists to “fly under the radar” while taxing those pampered youtube celebrities just a little.

Fair? I think so.


Phase-in.

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Well, works too.

Mypaint, markers & ink from Concept Design brushset, ballpoint brush from Deevad set.

Hope you enjoy!


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