HARDWIRED - Hack With A Hook Shot, And Don't Get Shot

HARDWIRED is our team's entry for the CyberPunkJam. It's First-Person game where you use a Hook Shot to navigate the world and collect Data Nodes. The thing to keep in mind is that, while what you see around you is a virtual world, you can still hear authorities moving from room to room trying to find your real-world location. Using your Panic Button, you can freeze the simulation to hide and move to a different room. Mind you, your real-world location is changed for you - you never actually leave the view of cyberspace. There is also a count-down timer, but time is extended if you collect a data node. If the timer runs out, your collection of data nodes is reset to zero. If the authorities find you and you don't hide, you get shot.

My contribution to this game consisted of the sound effects. My background is primarily in music, so this was the first time I've ever tried making sound effects. It was a really fun challenge! I was lucky to have a diverse sound library on hand to draw from, but the real fun was trying to make things sound "digital" and "in-human" for the world of cyberspace. It was a good excuse to try out some glitchy sounding plug-ins!

Please check it out and let me know what you think. I'm really impressed with what the team was able to achieve in the context of a GameJam.

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What Major's Mask meant to me

  •  Note: I'm just tossing up some initial ideas here for now. I'll probably come back to edit and flesh-out this post at a later time. Also, there may be potential spoilers so read at your own risk.

While it may not have been the best  implantation of the concept, Majora's Mask (MM) was the first game I ever played that made me contemplate the idea that I couldn't save everyone. At least, not without the aid time travel. 
 
Even when you completed a dungeon or a side-quest, the fruits of your labor (not including the equipment and masks you received) only lasted for the remainder of the moon's countdown. After you completed all of the major dungeons, you could go back to them again to skip ahead to the boss battle, and fix that part of the world once more - but all of the characters had their own schedules. Even if you knew exactly when and where you had to be to finish a side-quest, I don't think it was possible to finish *everything* in the three-day cycle. I'm pretty sure there were cases where you couldn't be two places at once. 
 
This is a big factor as to why I'm so fond of this game. Up until this point, most if not all of the games I played followed a very linear path. You could ideally solve everyone's problems before taking on the last boss and finishing the game in one big happy ending. In MM time travel enabled you to help everyone, but not in the same way. Or, more importantly, not with the same "satisfaction" as before. 
  
In older games, you solved a puzzle, earned an item, and an NPC would just repeat a thank you message. In MM, you solved a puzzle, earned a mask or other item, but the resolution for that character's plight wasn't really permanent. The smile on their face would only last until their world was ultimately destroyed, or you undid your own work by going back in time. If you ever want to see them happy,  you have to do the work all over again. No new item or mask as your reward, just the satisfaction of knowing you helped someone.   For me, this made certain quests more precious in that they felt more "finite." For example, reuniting the engaged couple was arguably  the most difficult, time-consuming side quest in the game - and one you could botch right at the end if you messed up. The first time I completed it, I actually waited out the impending apocalypse  to see if the NPCs would stay or flee the town. I had become invested in them. I cared about their problems. It wasn't just about completing all of the quests and getting all of the masks - I wanted to know what was going to happen to these characters depending on my actions.  
 
Now mind you, the game didn't have a perfect system. Time travel in any fiction suffers from loop-holes and paradoxes, and there was a way to get "the best ending" by collecting all of the masks and seeing everyone's individual "happy ending" during the credits. It didn't make sense that you helped someone once, undid your work via time travel, and then when you beat the game somehow your first efforts carry over. They tried to write it off/into the fiction with the masks, so maybe that's an issue of suspending one's disbelief. 
  
My point is, MM suddenly made me really care about helping the characters and struggle with my desire to try and save everyone. In then end it was satisfied, but the fact that I questioned it throughout my first play-through meant something to me. I had to actually doubt what I thought were the set rules and limits of the genre: Isn't the hero supposed to fix everything for everyone? Isn't failure to do so always my fault as the player, not the limits of the protagonist in this universe?
 
Now that I'm older, I frequently have to face the fact that I cannot save everyone. I cannot help every homeless person, every starving child, and every oppressed minority. I will never be satisfied, no matter how much humanitarian work I commit to. But I can help *some* people. I can enjoy the happiness I bring to other people's lives, no matter how brief or fleeting. I'm not saying that MM was the most significant factor in how I deal with these issues, but it did get me started in thinking about some core philosophical ideas. Like any creative work, I often attribute it's value to how it makes me think. That's a big reason why MM had a lasting, positive impact on me.
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No Black Knight Should Have All That Power

I went and done a thing. Blame Ryan.

I am not the best at making track artwork. 

  
Update Part 1: Wow! Thanks for all the support and positive response! I'm glad to see so many other people get a kick out of this mashup. It seemed like an inevitable crossover between memes, so I thought I'd give it a shot for a laugh. 
  
If anyone else is interested in remixing the Black Knight 2000 music, you can download the original music files here.  

Oh, and seeing this on the front page was really cool. Big thanks to Ryan and everyone else responsible:  
  
What an honor! 
 

Update Part 2: I have a couple more silly mashups to share, but I need your help before I can share them! Please check out my new blog post for details.
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Why yes, I am that Half-Life 2 Remix guy.

My name Is Andrew Bowers and I compose, produce and remix music under the handle "DJ Dain". Many years ago I was considerably involved in the video-game remix community. At that time, two major websites dominated: OverClocked ReMix, and VGMix. I ended up contributing most of my time and effort to the latter community, which had a much more egalitarian reviewing system, and even offered free hosting for users' mixes. One of my earliest remixes entitled "That Long Train Ride" was an expansion on Kelly Bailey's "Triage at Dawn" - a short transitional song used in Half-Life 2:

At the time, I could not track down the official soundtrack for the game, so I was left to use a program called "GCF Scrape" (or something similar to the best of my memory). This allowed me to unpack the encrypted game files and extract virtually all of the audio within the game, including music, sound effects, and even some dialogue. As such, the song "Triage at Dawn" was actually labelled something more akin to "Track 17" or "suit_song23", so I ignored the filename when I released the remix or review and stuck with a more attractive, invented title "That Long Train Ride". After approximately ten revisions, the track was officially released and received decent reviews achieving a site-chart position  level of bout second or third tier.
 
I went on to produce other remixes to post on VGMix until February of 2006 when the site was closed due to the exploitation of multiple vulnerabilities in the site's database code. "That Long Train Ride" and most of my others video-game remixes wouldn't see the light of day again until I started my own blog in 2008 to promote my mash-ups.
 
Then something I never expected began to happen during the in-between years prior to my blog's launch. "That Long Train Ride" became an underground hit with HL2 fans. I every couple of months I would receive the odd letter asking if I was the guy being the remix and where they could download the track. One gentlemen even requested the piano parts so that he could learn and transcribe them to sheet music. I even stumbled upon several fan forums with whole threads dedicated to discussing and celebrating this remix. One of the most surprising developments came with a message from a fan who said I had been mentioned in the UK edition of PC Gamer Magazine. He even sent me a picture as proof:


Needless to say, I was flabbergasted. The download link they provided may have been broken, but my name and work was published in a magazine! I had never anticipated this remix to generate this much interest.

But it didn't stop there. I eventually stumbled upon several YouTube videos that featured my remix: 
 
       
   
    
  
       
      
Apparently, there has been a considerable amount of confusion throughout the fan community about the origins of the track. Many have argued that it was part of the original beta of HL2, while others thought the track name was entitled "Path of/to (the) Borealis". I have yet to upload and release my own video to attempt to clarify the issue.
 
In the meantime, you can listen and download the MP3 via SoundCLoud: 
 
I hope you've enjoyed the story behind this little remix, and that you'll enjoy the track itself even more.
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