Brad's forum posts

#1 Posted by Brad (3214 posts) -

Hey, anyone know a good way to enlarge images in OSX without resampling them? I don't have Photoshop, and Preview and Pixelmator both oddly disable your option to specify a new size in pixels when you turn off resampling (maybe they both use the same functionality in Core Image or something).

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#2 Posted by Brad (3214 posts) -

High cost, low benefit, end of thread.

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#3 Posted by Brad (3214 posts) -

@Skytylz said:

@Cyrisaurus said:

That keyboard looks soooo unsatisfying. if you're going to add keyboard hardware, I want actually buttons to press.

I read somewhere that it has like 1.5 mm action on the keys, so there is a press. Not a huge one but it's there.

True, but there are actually two keyboard models, and one of them is pure multitouch.

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#4 Posted by Brad (3214 posts) -

@mercury228 said:

I agree with this article from Brad, but I have to say that I disagree about the shooting in Watchdogs. I thought it looked way better than most cover based shooters out their. I really hope it will mix the dynamic cover based shooting with the hi tech espionage that was on display. I also highly doubt that was on a PS3 or and 360 cause nothing on current consoles could touch the way Watch Dogs looks.

Yeah, I had no problem with the way the shooting actually seemed to play, once it happened -- it's more that I was sitting through that demo at the press conference muttering to myself "please don't be a shooter, please don't be a shooter" and then it... turned into a shooter. I guess you have to include some concessions to popular tastes, but I would've been more excited about this if it had been a pure story-driven adventure game where your wits and gadgets were the only tools at your disposal. Then again, LA Noire is a good example of that kind of game including shooting mechanics but not leaning on them too heavily. and I loved it, so if Watch Dogs can do something like that, more power to 'em.

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#5 Posted by Brad (3214 posts) -

@triviaman09 said:

@Little_Socrates said:

So, uh, I don't think South Park is still funny or relevant, and I haven't for a few years now.

But the game still looks cool and I want to know more.

I could not disagree more. I think it's incredible how funny and relevant it still is, despite its age. It has a few misses here and there but the overall level of quality it maintains is massively impressive.

Yeah, I'll definitely agree they have their off episodes (and I haven't seen any of the most recent season, so maybe it took a general nosedive in quality). Admittedly, a lot of my ongoing love for that series is couched firmly in the context of "hmm, this really should be completely awful by now."

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#6 Posted by Brad (3214 posts) -

@MikkaQ said:

I don't think I want another batman game, they risk getting really samey. Maybe take a similar approach with a new hero?

Yeah, either roll that concept up into a new superhero franchise or do something completely different with Batman. I love those games, but don't run it into the ground.

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#7 Posted by Brad (3214 posts) -
Strap a contraption built by John Carmack onto my face, check.

First it was trendy to malign this year's E3 for being too big, too out of touch, too gauche, or too boring. Then maligning the people doing the maligning became the thing to do. I suspect we'll be yelling at the people who are yelling at the people who are yelling about E3 soon enough, but before this snake of negativity begins to eat a second tail it didn't even know existed, let's cut through all the nonsense and admit that whatever issues the video game industry and the expo itself may have, there were more than enough games to get excited about scattered around the show floor.

The two most memorable moments of E3 actually happened back-to-back for me on the afternoon of the first day, when I first got to talk to John Carmack about his homemade head-tracking VR unit, and then get a look at the absurdly gorgeous Star Wars 1313 demo. But we've covered those things plenty, so let's move on to a handful of the other stuff that I thought was most impressive at the show.

Dyad and The Unfinished Swan

I grouped these together because they're the two PSN indies I had a chance to spend some real time with, but also because they exemplify how well Sony is approaching and supporting small games and small developers lately. I've heard over and over how easy Sony makes it for indie studios to get onto the platform, and both of these games seem to show off what a small group of people can create when they've got the support and confidence of the platform-holder.

You can't really get smaller than a team of one guy, Shawn McGrath, who's making Dyad. The game made a big splash back at GDC, and now having played it myself I can easily see why. It basically does for Tempest what Geometry Wars did for Asteroids, bringing the tube-racing format into high definition with a pounding, adaptive soundtrack and lots of neon lights. More importantly, the basic rules of the game never seem to stop evolving, so the mechanics you rely on in one level may have flipped upside down or completely given way to some other objective a couple of levels later. McGrath said that nonstop reinvention continues right up to the end of the several dozen levels in the game. Sounds like fun to me.

The Unfinished Swan is also coming from a small team, but one that's had the benefit of literally setting up shop inside Sony's famed Santa Monica Studio. Five minutes with the game made it clear this is going to have the same appeal as Journey, with its dreamlike emphasis on exploring an environment at your own pace. There's a storyline, but it seems like you're only going to see as much of it--and indeed as much of the world that contains it--as you're interested in revealing for yourself. The stark, minimalist art style is really joyous to see; I can't wait to see more of it.

SimCity

The idea of being able to import commodities like electricity from your neighbor's city is enough to get me interested in playing a new SimCity. It's such a sensible and thematically appropriate way to incorporate multiplayer into the game, beyond some really basic sort of "check out the layouts of all your friends' cities!" functionality. But the thing that really impressed me about SimCity when I sat down for a 15-minute demo was just how elegantly put-together everything seems to be.

The interface looks like it will be a beautiful exercise in minimalism. All of the controls I saw were arranged along the bottom of the screen in a tidy little row that sort of looked like the Windows taskbar. The only interface elements I noticed that actually get in the way of your city pop up in the form of little info cards that float around near the thing they're describing, almost in an augmented-reality sort of style. Combine that with the everything-is-tiny effect of the tilt-shift photographic filter they're using, and the droll sense of humor with rockabilly criminals running around and such, and I will be very happy to waste an absurd number of hours on city planning and governance in February next year.

Watch Dogs

There's not a lot to say about this one that you can't see for yourself in the lengthy demo, especially since Ubisoft wasn't showing anything else or really revealing any other information afterward. Like seemingly everyone else, I'm excited about Watch Dogs purely for the reason that it's something other than a sequel. But beyond that, the information-warfare aspect looks both really entertaining from a gameplay standpoint and also distressingly prescient as we barrel into the over-connected digital future. Though, the part in the demo where Watch Dogs went from imaginative cybercrime stealth game to standard-fare third-person shooter is where the game lost me a bit, but I'm remaining hopeful that slow-motion shootouts will be only one of multiple ways to address your objectives. I'd rather hack into power grids and disrupt communications from the shadows to get my dirty work done. With all the nifty high-tech tools at your disposal, it would be shame if you're railroaded into blowing a bunch of guys away every 30 minutes.

All that stuff would be reason enough to keep an eye on Watch Dogs, but that little tease at the end of the demo implying some kind of dynamic cat-and-mouse multiplayer makes this seem like it could be one of the most exciting new properties to come along in quite a while. We need to see a lot more of this game to be sure it works as advertised, but what's out there now sure is promising.

South Park: The Stick of Truth

Even if this game looked like poop, it'd deserve a mention here just for the 90 seconds Trey Parker and Matt Stone spent rescuing Microsoft's press conference from the robotic executive doldrums that were dragging it down. But considering how deeply involved those guys are in the actual writing and production of the game itself, is it any wonder this thing actually looks completely fantastic? OK, so it's probably not the toughest feat to nail the dinky construction-paper aesthetic of the TV show, but still, they did it. Most importantly, the trailer seems to show off exactly the right mix of subversive and ludicrous humor that's kept South Park going on television for what, 15 years? It's mindboggling that the show is still even remotely good or relevant, but it is, and if you combine those sensibilities with the spot-on presentation of the show and what sounds like some well considered RPG mechanics, The Stick of Truth honestly sounds like it could be the video game South Park has deserved since its very beginning.

The Last of Us

The Sony press conference demo was merely OK, with its focus on killing everyone in your way as brutally as possible, but it was the much longer, closed-door demo I got to see with Patrick and Alex that convinced me The Last of Us is going to be something special. For me, step one of establishing that I really want to play this game was confirming that no, you don't have to shoot every bad guy you encounter in the face with a shotgun. In fact, you don't have to shoot them at all, or even engage with them in any way; sneaking around roving groups of enemies will be a perfectly acceptable way to deal with them. The unexpected step two for me came in the realization that while you may elect to play The Last of Us as a pacifist out of moral responsibility, you'll be making a very real mechanical sacrifice to do so. Those bandits may be carrying some very precious supplies that you won't get access to if you don't take them forcefully, and what's more, those guys are scrounging the area for the same found items you are. So if there are bandages or bullets in a drawer somewhere and they get to that drawer first because you were busy hiding in a closet waiting for them to pass, you've lost your chance at getting those items. It sounds like a game that will ask you to make a lot of tough decisions on your feet, and that's more interesting than gunning down hundreds of thugs could ever be.

However underwhelming or one-note this year's press conferences were, however offputting the treatment of certain show staffers was, however repetitive and unimaginative the product cycle may be getting this late in the hardware cycle, at least there were still more individual great-looking games to see than one person could reasonably have time for. Top of my list of games I'm sorry I missed, there's XCOM: Enemy Unknown, The Cave, and Far Cry 3. And plenty of neat stuff barely missed making this list, like Pikmin 3, Halo 4, and Assassin's Creed III (which I didn't even bother to go look at, because, come on, who's not going to play that?).

There's talk that E3 may move cities next year, if Los Angeles goes ahead with its plans for more downtown stadium development. In light of all the criticisms about how this year's show played out, maybe a change of venue is just what E3 needs. What could make for a bigger shakeup than literally picking up and moving to a new stage? Wherever E3 ends up next year, and whatever wild hardware shows up there, I'm at least confident coming out of this year's show that we'll have plenty to play and talk about until then.

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#8 Posted by Brad (3214 posts) -

@Spellbot5000: For someone who clearly cares so little about the game, you really spent a disproportionate amount of your life clicking through to this article and writing a comment on it. Why?

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#9 Posted by Brad (3214 posts) -

If it had been any other game, I would have politely declined and gotten on an airplane to go home. But if you know me, you know that StarCraft II alone would have the power to snare me for an extra day in southern California directly after a grueling week of E3, so Drew and I made the quick jaunt over to Anaheim last Friday to check out the latest multiplayer build of Heart of the Swarm, being shown at the Major League Gaming event going on over the weekend there.

Honestly, not a lot has changed dramatically with HOTS multiplayer since Brian Leahy gave us an exhaustive look at all the new units from BlizzCon late last year. If you just want the quick info dump on where things currently stand, watch this!

If you remember the BlizzCon report, you'll notice the Terran shredder and Protoss replicant are both gone, the latter because, according to Dustin Browder, it was actually causing opposing players to avoid making units they didn't want turned against them. That's counter to the goal with HOTS of increasing the level of complexity and range of options available to all players of the game, not removing them. In lieu of the shredder, Terrans will still get some area-denial and passive defense capability with the widow mine, which itself sounds heavily subject to change. And although I don't care much about playing Terran myself, I'm happy for the inclusion of the warhound's auto-casting missiles that auto-target other mechanical units such as, oh, I don't know, siege tanks? Blizzard is confident that this one ability will help to break up a lot of the viking-tank stalemates you see in pro play, and I hope they're right; I think TvT is by far the least interesting matchup to watch at the moment.

The least-significant-sounding but probably scariest change in the current version is a late-game hydralisk upgrade to movement speed, which Browder said is actually the single tweak having the most profound effect on the metagame in Blizzard's tests. That one change seems like it might restore the ubiquity of the hydra that you saw in Brood War, though I'm not looking forward to dealing with a big mobile ball of pure DPS flying up and down the creep highway all the time. The swarm host and viper don't seem all that different from a few months ago, but since zerg is such a mechanically complex race I'm not even going to speculate about what broad effects these things will have.

Actually, as a Protoss player who's basically never touched the other races, I can only speak with any sort of authority at all about the changes on the Toss side, and I'm extremely excited about what's going on there. Right now it's very difficult not to make a robotics bay in every single matchup--just for the observer's scouting and detection, if nothing else--so Blizzard is making an obvious push to legitimize the stargate as a viable tech path in its own right, primarily with the oracle. In addition to that thing's unchanged ability to entomb an entire mineral line with a single 75-energy cast--which I can tell you from my brief experience is amazing--the oracle's preordain ability, which gives you a long period of vision on a target building, will now also add detection to that vision. Of course, that will make it about a million times safer to go stargate now, without having to worry as much about cloaked banshee or dark templar rushes. Neither of those would have a very easy time hitting the oracle.

In exchange for the replicant we now get the mothership core, which you can build quickly and cheaply straight out of your nexus in the early game (and then upgrade into a full mothership with a fleet beacon as usual). This thing has amazing potential to change how aggressive you can be early on, since it has the same mass recall as the bigger version. So you can try an initial push and then get the hell out of there if things are going badly, or get your army back to base for defense if necessary. The core can also briefly act as an overly powerful photon cannon, which should make you feel a little more secure about taking a quick expansion. The core can warp between bases for very little energy and seems like an invaluable addition to early-game defense. I'm really bad at using group hotkeys above 5 (that's where my nexus goes) but the mothership core will most certainly occupy a current home on 6 when I play.

Lastly there's the tempest, which is a capital ship that back at BlizzCon was meant as an air-to-air AOE monster suited for dealing with tons of mutalisks. The tempest has now changed roles to some kind of bizarre long-range aerial siege weapon that by default can fire about as far as a siege tank, which has a range of 13. But with the fleet beacon range upgrade, the tempest has a whopping range of 22. Yes, TWENTY-TWO. On the downside, the DPS is pretty low, so you'll need a lot of tempests to do much actual damage, and of course you'll need a spotter for them to fire that far, since their upgraded range far exceeds their sight range. I'm not sure exactly how the tempest will fit into the final game, since it's extremely expensive for the amount of damage it can do, and Browder seemed doubtful the range upgrade will remain in there as-is. It's also worth noting that Blizzard has mostly reversed course on its plan to cut existing units from the game, with the current exception of the carrier. But Browder said the team is having fights every day about the fate of the carrier, so who knows if even that most-disused unit will ultimately exit the roster. I imagine every pro game where a carrier is used effectively moves the minute hand on the carrier doomsday clock back just a little bit.

The most natural way to get a sense of how a lot of this stuff works would be to watch this video with Day[9] and Blizzard's Rob Simpson commentating a sample HOTS match in an instructional sort of way. If you're new to watching StarCraft II, note that this is the general format of what a pro match is like, but you're going to find a lot more energetic and dynamic scenarios taking place in actual pro-level play (much of it commentated by Day[9] himself). It gets way better than this!

Well, if you made it through all of that dry, amateur analysis, odds are you care an awful lot about StarCraft and everything going on with it, so let's talk about MLG a bit. I blew out of town Friday afternoon before the tournaments got started, but spectating through the weekend from my couch, this was the best event these guys have put on so far that I've seen. Full disclosure: my employer has a business deal with MLG, but I've been fairly critical in the past about their failures, which have mostly centered on flimsy production values and basic logistical issues like making sure matches don't lag out, and keeping the video stream running. The production and scheduling this weekend was much more professional by comparison, with quality commentary throughout, multiple matches running almost all the time, and not much downtime in between. Hell, the casters even classed things up a bit by wearing coats and ties. I had some issues with the highest-quality HD feed consistently crapping out on me, but otherwise MLG is inching closer to the point where I can wholeheartedly recommend throwing down the cash for a weekend pass.

The big tentpole aspect of MLG this weekend, and the main reason I even bring the event up, was the absurdly hyped KeSPA invitational tournament that featured the all-time biggest names from current Brood War competition. KeSPA is the governing body that essentially made competitive StarCraft what it is in Korea, but it's been notoriously hard to work with and it initially shunned StarCraft II altogether, since the lack of LAN-only play meant it had to do business with Blizzard in order to run SC2 tournaments. Now that the two organizations are playing nice together, KeSPA's top players are starting to transition over, and this weekend was the first public chance for true legends of the game like Bisu, Jaedong, and Flash to show what they can do.

Just as a lot of people predicted, they didn't exhibit a lot of especially creative play--the broad strategies were the same sort of thing you'd see in your average match between existing pro players. But the pure mechanical execution from some of these guys was very exciting to watch. Considering they've only been playing SC2 at all for a few weeks, seeing a guy like Flash keep up a staggering rate of production while also being able to split his marines and otherwise micro his units as well as pros who have been playing for two years... well, that makes me really hopeful that there are levels of skilled play in StarCraft II that we haven't even seen yet. I'm excited to see how well these guys are doing after a few more months of practice.

Around the office and in the games press at large, I feel like I've made little headway in getting other people to care about competitive SC2. And maybe I'm not one to talk, since I sort of feel the same way about competitive fighting games (appreciate them academically, glad they're there, little interest in actually watching them) and MOBAs (don't find the game flow interesting to watch at all) that most people do about StarCraft. But here and there, I keep running into likeminded individuals in unlikely places who secretly harbor the same passion. How about the Sony booth at E3? There, I got a chance to meet Shawn McGrath, the lone developer behind Dyad, an indie action game coming to PSN that seems like it is to Tempest what Geometry Wars was to Asteroids (and I mean that in the best possible way). Shawn seems like an all-around swell guy--you'll see an interview about Dyad hitting the site soon--but I also discovered we share a mutual love of two-rax pressure builds and baneling landmines over the weekend while tweeting feverishly about the competition taking place at MLG.

The idea that pro StarCraft is leading to little stuff like this in the indie scene--the place where the most consistently invigorating game design is happening these days--makes me feel like just a little bit less of a "yeah sure professional video games whatever buddy" pariah. This stuff is great! Just give it a chance! I very earnestly believe there's no purer an expression of complex video game mechanics and the human ability to approach mastery of them than what's going on with pro-level StarCraft these days.

Anyway. It should go without saying that I'm really eager for Heart of the Swarm to come out, mainly because competitive play in Wings of Liberty has largely settled into a repetition of similar builds and strategies, and because I've also kind of hit a wall in my own game that has me sitting around mid-platinum without much hope of advancement unless I quit my job and play full-time. Heart of the Swarm should give a nice boost to both of those problems. We'll have video interviews with Dustin Browder and designer David Kim later in the week to provide some more depth on the new stuff, and reading between the lines a bit while talking to those guys, I'm hopeful that beta may not actually be all that far away.

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#10 Posted by Brad (3214 posts) -

@Tanstaafl said:

Really this is supposed to blow me away? I've seen games look about this good on my pc right now without it breaking a sweat.. I'm a bit disappointed.. though at least I know I'll be able to run "next gen" games no problem.

No you haven't.

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