Hour Z

So, despite common financial sense, I plunged myself into the current alpha build of Day Z for an hour or so. My hope was for it to be State of Decay, with friends. Was this what I experienced?

I teamed up with current Day Z-er, Tim, who had already built up some kit and thus would be well placed to protect me whilst I hunted for some guns of my own or a tank or something.
The first thing to consider is which server to join, most have a maximum of 50 players and there was a nice spread across servers. I also noticed that a lot of servers are tagged with ‘recruit’, ‘regular’ or ‘veteran’ but bugger knows how this affects the proceedings. All I do know is that regardless of which server you join you spawn in the same location you logged out from and any equipment you currently have comes with you.

As this was my first time I spawned near an unknown port town and was instructed by Tim to find some kind of sign so he could make his way to me and look after my sorry ass. After about 10 seconds I was spotted by a zombie, I had no weapons so I ran, or rather I stumbled wildly until I worked out how to run. I thought I had escaped but evidently I thought wrong as the same zombie appeared over a hillock and supplied me with a sound pummeling. I took evasive action and managed to lose the undead prick at the bottom of the sea but not before he had caused my screen to flash up messages about my blood soaking my clothes. Tim advised me to stop fucking about and head to the town, so I complied.
I approached a building but heard the squawk of another zombie, it sounded close. I then heard a gun shot, it sounded closer. I was now panicking, the messages about my blood soaked clothes continued, I suddenly became aware that all the colours of my surroundings had become washed out and my character was moaning in pain.
I wondered aimlessly around the town trying to find some hint as to my location, but only found a shovel and another zombie who chased me into a church just before I passed out from my wounds. At this point I decided it would be prudent to restart.

My second attempt was more successful, I promptly found some beans and a sign telling me I was in Kamenka and before long Tim and his comedy glasses arrived, my hero.
We traveled to a nearby military base where I picked up some clothes which had extra pockets so allowed me to carry more than just canned goods, and a bunch of other useful tat including some biros. I also found an assault rifle with no ammo, I could look threatening but if things turned ugly I would probably end up dead and embarrassed.
As we prepared to leave the military base there was a moment where we became separated, Tim noticed that  a nearby gate had been opened and we knew that it wasn’t us, we had entered through a hole in the fence. He informed me that we should leave quickly just as I heard the creak of another gate being opened. I doubted it would be zombies and I knew I was ill equipped to be involved in a firefight so I nervously crept around like a tit until I found Tim. We managed to sneak out safely and only encountered one zombie before finding a safe spot to log out.

During my expedition I must have encountered around six zombies and no other humans, none the less I felt constantly uneasy and vulnerable but in a good way. Kind of like Amnesia where real threats are few and far between but when they happen they are significant enough that you spend most of the time on the verge of crapping yourself. My first encounter brutally demonstrated how easy it is to die in this game, especially without any form of defense, and even as I started building up some protection, I did not feel safe. I think this is the immediate appeal, akin to State of Decay it seems to be a constant struggle to stay alive.

blood

I know, I know just shut up and let me think!

There are a few bugs and aspects of the game that are clearly unfinished, playing an alpha build is not something I’m used to so I have to remind myself of this before being too critical. This is something you should consider before diving in so here is a list of a few of the more glaring issues I came across:

  • Missing animations and graphics, though these are pretty minor and, at times, quite hilarious such as watching the other player float up a ladder or pull a David Copperfield and warp through a wall rather than crawl under it.
  • Basic messy menus, the sizing hasn’t been sorted properly so when configuring things such as key bindings you can’t always read the text properly and when you can, it doesn’t always make sense.
Menu

…What?

  • Various bugs – Doors not opening even though the UI reckons they have, not being able to pick up some items.
Can o pop

Yes I really need to drink, so let me pick the bastard thing up!

  • Missing gameplay – This is probably the most significant part, for example you have control options for cars and helicopters, but no actual cars and helicopters in the game.
2014-01-02_00001

Where’s my fucking helicopter you cheap bastards.

Despite these things my first experience was largely positive, I particularly liked the fact that it was more desolate than your usual zombie game, I felt nervous most of the time but rarely from an actual threat more the perceived threat and the knowledge that I had little to protect myself.

Long term the main thing I am curious about is the point of the game and whether there will actually be one. Will there be a goal to reach or anything further than just hunting for equipment until I can kill things a little more effectively? It was great being put under pressure and having to creep around, scavenging for anything that could help, but what happens once I am well equipped and able to survive a little longer? Will I have anything to do or just have to wait until I am finally killed before starting the process over again?
I have read rumours and such of things that might appear in the game but little concrete evidence, this forum post says it all really: “Currently been alive for a week now… now that i have everything i could ever want, i’m at a loss at what i should do next. Should i head back south towards the major cities and hunt down those pesky KOS Bandits that target fresh spawns? Or should i stick to the back roads of the north and hunt Zeds until my friends arrive? Suggestions are welcome.”

So can I recommend this game? That really depends on whether you are willing to pay twenty hard-earned English pounds on a product that is far from complete. I certainly have high hopes for this as it has a lot of potential but how long will it be before we see what the final result is? I bought Prison Architect back in June, it is still in alpha now and has since been relegated to my large pile of unplayed games.
Did I have fun for my first hour? Definitely, even though nothing actually happened. Can I see myself still playing the game a month down the line? That depends on how far you can currently go with it really, I’m not sure how long you can drag out a bean hunting simulator.
Do I regret buying the game this early on? No, it’s quite interesting seeing a game at this stage and what potential it has and it’s definitely a game I would have considered getting anyway, I just hope it lives up to my wildly unrealistic hopes.

That’s all I can say really, hopefully this has given you a little glimpse of what could be an awesome game and maybe we will meet up at some point and cook that meal of beans, spaghetti and soda.

On a final note I would like to point out that, in order to obtain some screen shots, I entered the game briefly and was immediately set upon by a zombie. I will probably die now. I hope you are all happy.

Painkillers?

It was almost worth it to see me wrapping an invisible bandage around my arm with some painkillers stuck to the end of my fingers.

Advertisements

The Machete Option

On May 4th 2012 three plucky young men took it upon themselves to watch and review the Star Wars Saga on Blu-ray using the Machete Order. The only evidence from this gargantuan task was a ruined, rum soaked floor and the following WordPress entry:

 

14:10 Stefs fucking the kitchen and we have only just started Empire, and to top it off the Blu Ray demonstrates the foul imperfections of Hans creased buttocks and 3PO appears to be cell shaded animation. Plus my Sith robe is still wet after returning from the imperial laundrette. Stef thinks Yoda is 6″6′ (66cms) and is only taller because he has a small cinter of grahvity, Marv just stared.

15:29 Empire is noteaible for its horrific deep Jango dub and corrosive window art. Marv be nimble Marv be Swift (with the coffee). Why don’t films sample songs into themselves just like the Abyss did with FLA at 41.19. It’s a brand new concept we conceptualised. The menu trailers on Episode 2 look already like a reprehensible mash of flimsy kid piddle.

16:52 Finally we are fillling our maws with slick rum, and hopefully a rum based netmug blue milk scenario.

17:49 Blue Milk to wash down the bitter callousness of Anakins psychotic break, Stef believed it to taste like a milk milkshake. Marv just stared.
At 97 minutes 3PO totally harshes R2s mellow (ATOTC).

19:16 Sith to come a bung bung but now we need to procure potatoes due to the extent of Growth upon Marvs. It is quite apparent that those potatoes havent been touched since the last time they were touched, by Marv. This chip expedition is cheap and achievable yet still fraught with danger. Our mere presence could invoke Higgs eruptions beneath us and lend tangible slants to the ether wave.
Also Attack of the clones needs a slap around the willy, Hans christian Anderson does a fine job of demonstrating all the reasons a sane person would rather rape a lightsaber than marry his barmy ass.

Steaks are cooking, and are eaten.

20:15 Stef has got the delayed horn and now is yearning to bust Marvs colon.

22.29 Sith has passed, onto now the final in our escapade for our jittering clams. I mean Sitgh was good, that is the concensus that it should have been episode 1 and improved from that stage as opposed to starting from a simmering pile of grot and progessing to yet further. Also Sitgh is a better spelling, it just makes more sense, it’s more alien. Actuaklly thst a shit idea as it just makes it like Lord of the Rings or something, like the glowing planets of Grdder.
Anyway now Jedi will come and hopefully the blu ray will be noticeable as so far we haven’t really noticed anything different or invigorating.

 

No bodies were ever recovered…

Bumface – Part 2

Bumface, the tour de force of buttock related malarkey that I have been working on, is still in pre-alpha stage but has moved up to version 0.3.8… Quite what this means I am not sure as I’m not following any specific guidance for the numbers, it just sounds right.
What I can say is that I have now got my first level structured, a collection of enemies (though there are more to come), and am now doing some work on the graphics. This it the least fun part to be honest, especially tiles-sets and animation, but necessary, currently the main character looks like an epileptic backside sliding around an uninspired landscape. I think I need to employ a graphic designer, one who has experience in animating arses.

My intention is to get the game to the point where the graphics are done and the first level is playable and working as it should. I can then piece together the other two levels with relative ease. Yes there are only three levels, it is designed for children remember. subsequently the gameplay is very basic, move and avoid shit really (perhaps literally?). Kind of like a chunkier (sprite-wise) version of games you used to play on the Amstrad CPC464.

Anyway, behold a screen shot for comparison, see how the flies look less like they were conceived by a retard and Bumface himself looks, well… rounder.

Bumfaces new graphics

Yes, that is a sock.

For more technical information refer to my other blog where I will shortly summarise a bit more in detail. More as a reference for myself than as gripping knowledge for the masses.

March of the Android(s)

Android devices (as we know them) have been around since 2008* and for the most part have grown in popularity in synch with the rise of the smartphone – that fantastic bit of tech which blurs the line between mobile phone and portable computer that has rapidly become the next big thing that nobody can live without.

* Android devices have actually been around since 2003 but didn’t really take off in a big way until they were acquired by Google in 2005

Smartphones became readily available to the mass market in the form of Apple’s i-phone, but have acfually been in production since 1992 (in the form of ‘IBM simon‘) and then came Symbian, Palm, Windows & Blackberry.  Though generally considered the market leader in the area (due in part to their relentless marketing machine) Apple has not utterly dominated the scene, with many business users preferring RIM’s Blackberry phones and Microsoft Windows Phones also giving them a run for the crown.

It is undeniably the ‘new kid on the block’ that has taken the center stage away from the giants though, in the form of Google’s Android phones. Android devices (not just phones but tablets and other media devices as well) are supported by many manufacturers, chief among them being HTC, Samsung, Sony and LG.

So what has made Android so suddenly massively popular? Well there is no single answer. Like i-phones Android have many, many Apps for them which range from gimmicy to downright useful utility software. They’re often averagely priced which hits the largest market demographic. Apple still has a sort of snob / elitist stigma attached to it which – regardless of whether or not it is rightly deserved – means that their products are often overlooked for cheaper alternatives. At the other end of the spectrum the Android devices are not too cheap, which many people avoid when worried their purchases may might not be to a high enough standard.  Android is also open-source which is a massive bonus for independent developers of all kinds and with a power-house like Google backing it, their devices become impossible to ignore.  This collaboration between 84 various firms (including the likes of Sony, Intel, Samsung Electronics and HTC to name but a few) is known as The Open Handset Alliance.

The Operating System of choice on  Android devices is called (somewhat unsurprisingly) ‘Android’ and its latest verion (somewhat bizarrely) ‘Ice Cream Sandwhich‘ is Android 4.04.  It is a robust, reliable base from which Android devices operate, and it is used not only by large wealthy manufacturers and software developers but more importantly, indepedent developers as well.  HTC devices are well known for their impressive and recognisable GUI known as ‘HTC Sense’ whereas Samsung use the less well known ‘TouchWiz’.

In the last couple of years Android devices have really taken off and show no signs of slowling down. In fact, the two most powerful and versatile smartphones on the market are both Android phones: being the HTC One-X and the Samsung Galaxy S-III. Apple has been dropped to third place, even though their I-Phone 4 is still a very capable device.

I myself was slow to get on-board with the Android revolution, having gotten my first one only this month. My last smartphone was the Blackberry Bold 9700, which was an impessive smartphone when I got it in early 2010, but it truly pales in comparison to my new Samsung Galaxy S-III. (I will do a review about the new phone but don’t want to go off-topic here). The jump in technology in just two short years is quite astounding.
As is common knowldge I am a big fan of gaming and in that department the two phones are lightyears apart. The Blackberry had games which looked (at best) a bit like Final Fantasy 2, whereas the Galaxy S-III (and other next-gen smartphones) are caple of playing games like Grand Theft Auto 3 as perfect port conversions with no lag or stutter and the likes of N.O.V.A 3, Mass Effect Infiltrator and Shadowgun really show what the new graphics processors are capable of.

FF on my old Blackberry Bold 9700

Part of the drive behind this has been due to the fact that smaller, browser-based and mobile games have begun to synchronise their development, pulling more casual players into the gamer market.  With the likes of Facebook touting “Social Games” that also work on all but the lower-spec versions of phones it was only a matter of time before serious gamers got involved and brought the Indie (and eventually triple-a gaming) manufacturers with them.  To that end, and the surge in social interactivity via the merging of the internet and other global communications (phone calls and instant-messaging/sms mainly) it stands to reason that the mobile phone manufacturers have begun designing handsets to meet these increasingly demanding needs.

N.O.V.A. 3   –   And the scary thing? It runs really smoothly too.

Gone are the days when a smartphone was a phone that acted a little like a computer.

Now smartphones are computers that act a little like a phone.

Android phones are popular among the techno-savvy and the casual dabbler, offering plenty of good reasons to purchase for both.  For those not too clued up on the ins and outs of the working of their phones/tablets Android devices come packed with all kinds of neat and interesting features, and for those who take their tech a little more seriously find security features like the fact the Ice Cream Sandwich OS runs in a sandbox (therefore making it far more unlikely to be hacked) a clear bonus.

Although its still early days to say whether or not Android devices will take the crown from Apple (after all, Apple will likely release a new phone before the end of 2012), the current trend definately put them squarely at the top.  With HTC’s flagship HTC One-X already out-performing I-Phone 4 with its NVIDIA Tegra 3 SoC with a 1.5 GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 CPU and Samsung’s latest powerhouse the Galaxy S-III hot on its heels with 1.4 GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A9, the I-Phone is lagging behind somewhat with its 1 Ghz single-core Apple A4 CPU.  That isn’t to say that the I-Phone 4 (and upcoming I-Phone 4s) aren’t great phones, just that the Android market are definitely taking the fight to them and are currently coming out on top.

Either way, Android are here to stay in a major way so it may be time to invite the little green robot into your life.

Top 5 Movie Soundtracks From My Early Teens & Why

I saw a lot of movies as a teen and some had awesome soundtracks that changed the way i looked at music. Here are five that stood out and the reasons why they’re so important:

1. Shocker

Megadeth were on it.

2. Super Mario Bros.
Megadeth were on it.


3. Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey

Megadeth were on it.


4. Last Action Hero

Megadeth were on it.

5. Tales From the Crypt Presents Demon Knight
Megadeth were on it.

I never played: Pikmin

Sometimes in the swamp of generic guff that populates the gaming world something will muzzle its way out into our view, something different and refreshing, something that reignites your passion and gives you hope that all has not been lost to the evil corporate gaming machine that pumps out continual Zelda and Mario games. Was Pikmin one of those games?
I have no idea, I never played it.

Box art

Pikmin was one of the Nintendo Gamecubes early releases and gave the air of a title you should probably have by default just from owning the console. Unfortunately the Gamecube suffered a similar fate to the N64 in that no-one actually bought any games, I for one only ever owned three, and four of those were variations of Tony Hawks Pro Skater.

The back of the Pikmin box gives some vague drivel about a ‘Captain Olimar’ who crash lands on an unknown planet and is reliant on the native primary coloured pricks known as ‘Pikmin’ to somehow help him rebuild his ship and get the fuck out. It bleats on about how they obey his every command and ‘fight fiercely’ to vanquish the ‘monstrous predators’ of the planet, which leads me to suspect that Pikmin is some kind of strategy game dipped in layers of sweet Nintendo niceness to appeal to the pre-teen masses. It also boasts that ‘up to 100’ of the little blighters will follow the careless cock of a Captain at a time and I’m sure I remember seeing video footage that drew attention to well populated scenes of Pikmin rushing around like mindless tarts, eager to please their moronic invader.

So it seems that the sole selling point of this game was the supposed immense quantity of sprites on the screen at any one time, just like when Super Mario World was released and the TV commercial would scream “EVEN MORE ENEMIES” in your weeping face. Whether this made it a good game I cannot say, neither can I say why, judging by the picture on the case, the Pimkin themselves actually seem to be a form of sentient root vegetable that the Captain cruelly rips from the ground. No doubt these questions will continue to remain a mystery to me.

Bumface

So a few weeks back I jokingly informed the kids that I was going to make them a computer game called ‘Bumface’ and then proceeded to knock up a mock title screen for said game, or rather a game called ‘The Stinking Adventures of Bumface’. This obviously provided some amusement to the little sods but it also ignited a burning consideration in my mind.
For some time, literally many years now, I have wanted to give a program called GameMaker a go. I would love to make a little game of my own but doing so through traditional programming means is, at best, a pipe dream, Game Maker always promised to be a potentially powerful alternative to this. The last time I tried to use it I started creating a wonky cat-themed platformer called ‘Lovelyface’ (hmmm) but it kind of fizzled out when I had issues with a ‘jump’ script I was trying to implement.

Making something for the kids seemed to be a perfect way to give it another attempt as I could specifically make it a simpler game which would ease my need to know all the deep technicalities right from the start. Last week I started just that and now have the very first test screen of Bumface (V.02).

A screenshot of Bumface V0.2

I'm expecting a call from E.A. very soon

Yes, I am aware that it’s hardly ground breaking at the moment. At this stage I am just trying to work out the very basics such as movement, collision and a scoring system so all you have are some badly drawn, un-animated, non-transparent sprites sliding around the place and vanishing from existence when they touch. But once I have got the mechanics sorted I shall start work on all those other pesky bits such as ‘graphics’ and ‘gameplay’.

The premise is that you are a bum, and by nature you are stinky. You are trying to be less stinky but there are lots of stinky things out to make you even more stinky. You will traverse the, errr… world avoiding things that threaten to increase your stinkyness, if you reach a certain level of stink it’s game over man. Now tell me that no child would want to play that.

Failbook is useful for something! …. at last

Namely in this paticular case, reminding me of something I saw long before LFS came to life and reminding me to post about it here.

ADVENTURE GAMES

I goddamn love them.  I’m not ashamed to say that.  Day of the Tentacle, Grim Fandango, gods they were all awesome.

Some or none of you may have heard of ‘Double Fine Productions’ (makers of Psychonauts and comprising of a team that came from the likes of Grim Fandago so, you know… awesome), and if you haven’t heard of them well shame on you.  Go and buy Psychonauts immediately and play the living SHIT out of it.

Well anyways, Double fine live HERE so go and look at how ace they are, then come back here again.  I have more insightful shite to spout.

The main reason I mention this is that they are making a new adventure game and its development is a bit of an interactive ride.  The project is using ‘Kickstart’ (which is a platform that allows others to fund your projects) and essentially its a case of ignoring what publicists say and using fans to fund their game.

Whether it flops or is a success the whole thing is being made into a documentary on the net for people to follow, and DoubleFine are asking for $400,000 to fund it ($300,000 to make the game and $100,000 for the documentary).

The great news is that they are currently $463,356 / $400,000 budget which I think is fan-bloody-tastic.

This video tells you all about it:

I saw about this a while back and had subsequently forgotten all about it (I know, I know I’ll burn in hell) but as the title says for once Failbook did something right by reminding me!  So yeah, this is me, sharing it with  you.

If you want to contribute to their little cause (and can afford to) well then “YEAH BABY!” but if not and you just want to follow their progress you can do so BY FOLLOWING THIS HERE LINKAGE.

Marooned

You are stranded on a small sandy island, as you look out to sea there is nothing but sunlight, water and the occasional glint of yet more sand. Your available resources look very limited and soon night will be setting in.

This unnecessary pre-amble is the concept of a Minecraft map I am putting together. It is designed to be played alone or with a couple of other fearless friends on hardcore survival mode or similar. The map has been designed to constitute mainly of sand and sandstone in place of dirt/grass to make it a lot more difficult to get a footing when you start out and make the process of survival a bit more of a bastard than usual, the idea is to just last as long as possible hence it being geared towards hardcore mode. The lack of easy to reach grass areas will make it a challenge to be able to harvest trees and therefore gather the usually abundant wood which is vital for a lot of the crafting. I am considering making the area finite somehow so you can’t just gather enough wood to make a boat and bugger off until you find a less hostile environment, I want people to make the best of what they have.

Hopefully if they are up for it I can convince Adam and Stef to do a run on it during which we can then document our woes and turn them into an article.

A lovely sandy beach

PC Game Review: From Dust

“This man/woman can build villages, gain knowledge and play music” is what you will be told if you zoom in on any of the little masked individuals who rely on your godly ways when playing ‘From Dust’, and I mean any of them. I have tried on numerous occasions to see if I can get a different result, possibly along the lines of “This man is the chief and can remove a birds head with a spear from thirty yards” or “This Woman is married to all the other men in the tribe and can make a meal from sand, sea water and bug-shit” but my attempts have been futile. This begs the question as to why the feature to zoom in and see this information is even in the game, it’s almost as if it was supposed to be part of something else that never got finished, and that pretty much sums up From Dust as a whole.

Chatting tribesmen

"Wait, you can build villages and gain knowledge too? No way!"

When you play From Dust you will find yourself moulding landscapes so that your tribe can capture enough totems left by the ancients in order to move on to the next area. You will defend your little ethnic stereotypes from tsunamis, divert lava flows, grow forests and raise lands, then four hours later you will complete the game.
I am not usually one to bemoan the shortness of a game as not having to trawl through many hours of gameplay to reach final satisfaction can be a boon sometimes but From Dust doesn’t provide you with this feeling of satsifaction. There are 13 levels to complete and most take around 30 minutes or less and will probably be achieved on the first attempt. There are also challenge levels available, for some reason more than the main storyline, they are a completely different play dynamic, usually asking  for a single objective to be completed in an extraordinarily tight time limit or against formidable conditions. After these have been completed or ignored that’s pretty much it, at least there is a sandbox mode so you can create your own fun… Wait, there isn’t?

Fuck

At the end of the game you get to use new immense powers that allow to to craft the landscape of your whim but it’s still just another ‘level’ and to be honest the area you get to use is so small and the restrictions are such that it doesn’t take long before you realise Minecraft may be a better option.

Pile o sand

Yay! ....Now what?

As you cannot directly control your tribe other than summoning them to a totem or collectable the challenge from the game is in how the various elements interact, as they will continue to do so even when you are not looking. The sand will be washed away by tides or the walls of a cliff will be eroded by lava and so forth potentially putting a previously safe village in jeapordy. The mechanics of this are very impressive and it all looks suitably fluid and lovely but because of this you just keep wishing there was more of it.
You may also start to notice some baffling inconsistencies such as why your tribes-people are able to swim around after being pulled out to sea by a bloody great tidal wave but need you to raise the very land beneath their feet land so they can cross a tiny stream and will stand there rudely shouting at you until you do so.

So much could have been done with such a nice idea and the game is fun but you are just left wanting more while mulling over how Populous, despite being about 45 years old now, had more depth and substance.