Don't worry, I'm a Professional #0 - Introduction

Sorry I lied, I'm actually no professional.

But just last week, I have begun my journey to become one. Professional what you ask? A digital artist. I am enrolled in BCIT (British Columbia Institute of Technology) for Digital Animation in a one year intensive program. I will be diving into the realm of 3D modelling, both 2D & 3D animating, rigging, texturing, lighting, special effects and all that cool stuff; so that we may be employed in the film, television or the gaming industry. Obviously as someone who has played games throughout his entire life, my primary aim is to become a game artist.

This is my first blog in over a year. Admittedly I've somewhat drifted off from the community, bumming around elsewhere and not paying much attention to GiantBomb. Though I'm mostly a nobody so it wasn't like my disappearance has had a big impact. At any rate, this serves as an introduction for the series "Don't worry, I'm a Professional". I will be documenting about my experience, joys, frustrations, rants and whatever in this blog, to share it with other curious individuals. Each 2-4 weeks I will try to publish a new blog about new learnings I've picked up or projects I wanted to show off. The focus is to demonstrate how these programs work and hopefully I will be effective in sharing the details.

Accompanying me in my blog will be "Derp the Cat", a cat illustration I designed just recently. I adore him, simply because I haven't drawn anything for five years. He is the second product of my drawings this year and for someone who has crap skills, he turned out pretty well. He will be assisting me with his silly questions.

Derp the Cat

If there's anything you want to ask, go ahead and ask away. Commentate, critique my drawing if you want. Brag about how you're already a game artist/animator. I will probably make a blog about my my first two weeks next week, though I'll have to see if it'll work.

3 Comments

Game development cost, technology and the future's trend

 Gaming as a technical whole has been progressively getting better and better each year; the technological aspect is being pushed to new benchmarks on both PC and consoles. The leap from last generation to this generation has been as visually significant as the jump from 2D to 3D (granted most of the stuff looked like shit in the early days of 3D, but I regress). We've been treated to some gorgeous looking games that hopefully shouldn't be nearly as much of an eyesore to look back at some 10-15 years later on. I think we're living in one of the best gaming generations depending on how you view things, with how games has stepped up so much with production value. 
 

However... The price has to be paid for this.

It costs $775 million to sustain this man once a year.
Development costs has soared since last generation. Typical game development cost from the 6th generation was around the $6-10 million mark (can't find a source, I remember reading it from a gaming magazine). That has been doubled to around $18-28 million. The most expensive game ever to make is Grand Theft Auto IV, costing some $100 million. Super blockbusters such as Modern Warfare 2 about $40-50 million for development costs alone (MW2 cost $200 million if you include marketing, producing and distribution of discs, a little behind the cost of making Avatar at $237 million). Hell, even Shenmue cost $70 million to make and that was on the Dreamcast (refer to the Grand Theft Auto IV source) and that was the second most expensive game ever to make! There's several of other biggest title's cost that you can see in this list here.
  
Apparently the Call of Duty franchise doesn't rake in high enough profits 'thanks to Kotick.
As games become more complex, the development costs tend to rise a lot. Developing original and new IPs are a risky venture, as a game is expected to only start making a profit when at least 500,000 units are sold. Promotional costs will rise the number of units needed to be sold to compensate for additional cost, but publishers know its worthwhile to spread the word about the game at least a bit.  
 
Because of this, IPs tend not to be explored nearly as much as churning out more sequels after sequels than last generation. Why? Because the risks are less and the name is known, its guaranteed to sell copies as long as they don't turn it into a truly terrible sequel and developers can reuse most or some old assets, a good example such as that of Call of Duty. Production costs are still higher in sequels, but it is somewhat negligible in the grand scheme of things (Assassin's Creed cost $20 million and its sequel cost $24 million). The sad truth is that at least some sequels is a necessity for publishers to make a profit and not crash and burn when things go wrong.

The pacing of technology now

 Imagine a world where everyone uses SpeedTree.
As of yet, the current trend of gaming seems to be "optimize the shit out of games on the console ports" for the most part (and leaving a mess of a PC port) to work with hardware limitations. While the jump from 6th generation to 7th generation was remarkable, the progress has slowed down a fair bit in recent years, as developers concentrate developing on consoles rather than pushing new technologies on the PCs.   

Yeah sure, there's Crysis, Metro 2033 with their graphical prowess, L.A. Noire for its amazing facial animation, Bad Company and Red Faction for its destructible environment, but that hasn't quite applied to every game out there just yet. For enthusiasts, this is a bummer. However, I suspect that the rising cost of development will be lowered as new software/firmware and technology become more affordable and when developers find new tricks to reduce production cost. The motion that Microsoft and Sony are going for a 10 year lifespan for their console is great for developers, publishers and gamers alike, as they are familiar with the console and whatever assets they have can be reused in some form of shape.  
 
 Windows XP. Fuck. You.
As a consequence, new technological advancements has been hindered, most notably features from DirectX 10 and DirectX 11 (such as Tessellation). I have a prime suspect that because of consoles do not support the newer versions of DirectX along with a overwhelming number of OS running XP, they have yet to see widespread use. Whatever new burst of features come out right from gaming will surely be determined by the specs of next-gen console and become a standard norm. PCs are this point of time have become more of pioneers of moving right along forward, while consoles and stubborn XP users are the massed market that is a lagging a little behind (and consequently again, lagging overall progress for everyone else). This can be hinted as a good or bad thing, as I said before, production costs are soaring high.
 

The future - what this could mean

I'mma let you finish, but Diablo II had the best procedurally generated content ever.
Publishers are interested in reducing costs while maintaining or increasing profits and they are aware of rising costs. As such, publishers will either be investing in technology or picking up some fancy middlewear gear that some other company is working on. Some dreaded game engines will finally cease to exist and become obsolete once people figure out they can't go on using the Unreal Engine 3 forever and expect to stay afloat having to do many things manually for art assets and programming. As such, I foresee a future where there will be more procedurally generated content to reduce cost, whether it is done to create levels on the fly or pick a random level generated while in development. There are already some impressive demos, such as one that demonstrates the construction of a city by using algorithms. Even if it isn't used religiously, it may see some use to create a basic template for level designers to work with. 
 
User generated content is on the rise and it is undeniable, with games that are basically entirely reliant on the users to generate content, such as Spore and LittleBigPlanet. Developers give the necessary tools for the mass to use and you will keep seeing new content created by users, free of charge from the developers (aside from developing the tools, anyways). They will be giving more tools that is accessible and easy to use, with content that is arguably always more better than what the developers can put out if the tools are competent enough (see Forza Motorsport 3). And even if that doesn't work out, PCs always have modders who will create content for everyone else. 
 
 Steam sales are the bane of my wallet's existence.
Distributing discs is a royal pain in the ass and costs a lot of money to mass produce, never mind ship across the entire bloody world to every large retailer. This is where digital distribution may be seen as a rise, as speculated by analysts and gamers. The cost of discs will be entirely eliminated from the factor, especially important for huge games like Call of Duty where several million discs need to be made and shipped to maximize profits. It will come soon surely enough, but I doubt we will see the retailers out of business when it comes to games by the next gen. Still, it appears to be inevitable when almost everything is going digital now. Additionally, we will also see less independent developers who are not owned by a publisher, not until digital distribution is widespread. So yes please to digital distribution. 
 
On less optimistic moods, we may however, see another price increase by some $5-10 dollars if the market demands a game enough to warrant the price hike. This may not apply universally to every game, but it may be a trend for big AAA titles like (once again) Call of Duty. Because you never know, Bobby Kotick is fucking insane. 
 
There's also increase interest in developing more half-baked games for the Wii, PlayStation Move and Kinect. The casual market is a necessity to funnel more money into making some games for us hardcore nerds, or well entirely just ignoring us and our pleas. The money has to come from somewhere, people. 

Conclusion

Cut production cost with whatever fancy technology they have (which will additionally benefit us, the gamers) and maximize profits so the gaming industry won't be so damned volatile that it will collapse on itself. I'm done with my wall of text. God that was too much time spent typing shit up that nobody will ever read.
8 Comments

Japan's gaming future in the western market

I'm not sure when developers from Japan began losing their grip on the whole gaming industry, but developers from Japan used to be very dominant in the western market, something that I feel was brought alongside thanks to the NES. I'm not going to go into the specifics of gaming history and whatnot, but most of us get an impression that Japanese developers are a generation behind the western market; where new gaming philosophies, concepts or mechanics are introduced and standardised as the norm. These developers has had limited luck in penetrating into the western market in the 7th generation of console gaming, especially in JRPGs where things feel ancient and that they clung onto for dear life. 
 
As you may or may not know, Japan has trouble either adapting to the new market or just stubborn to change their ways. I feel that the most prominent example would be any JRPGs, where there's a number of common themes and quirks (spiky hairdo, saving the world as the plot theme, extreme linearity, bad/mediocre dubbed voice acting, etc). The market has changed where these themes aren't picked up positively by the western market or aren't getting big enough sales. I feel that it is starting to feel like a common trend that developers and publishers are starting to feel discouraged and may stop or slow down localising games over, because whatever localisation they're doing and the lack of sales aren't warranting any localisation. 
 
Granted some of us just don't give a fuck, but I know there's a few that grew up with Japanese games and or are fond of their games. I see it very difficult and if not impossible for Japan to pick itself up back up and to adapt to the western market. Its just too hard and there's too many obstacles. Gaming development has more or less doubled since the beginning of 7th generation, making whatever game they localise over here unprofitable. Competition is fierce with gaming juggernauts like the Mass Effect trilogy, the Elder Scrolls/Fallout instalments, the unstoppable Call of Duty franchise and other big names that popped up and were made by series in this new generation. Cultural barriers hinder as well, because whichever theme goes with their games story wise, seem to be favoured by the locales over at Japan. 
 
Even the behemoth Final Fantasy XIII was in my eyes, was a great disappointment (then again, I probably should finish the bloody game. It was just the best example of a freaking linear path as hell). 
 
Its not looking good for Japan's future in the western market. We might see a disappearance of their games in the near future, and I wouldn't like that. 
 
Or maybe I'm just frustrated that Namco Bandai announced that there will be probably no localization of Tales of Xillia; a mothership title of the Tales series. I played Tales of Vesperia and its the best JRPG I've played to date in this generation. Though to be honest, I did a bit further digging and Namco Bandai never did specify that they wouldn't localise this new Tales game, seems like I was judging from the overreacting fans (there was some games in the series that haven't been localised, nor did the North America's PS3 version of Vesperia got a a release).
 
I suppose my only hope for any good JRPG would be Persona 5 when that gets announced and hits the markets.

32 Comments

My Top 10 Classic Games

Yo. It's been a while since I made a blog, and I figured it was a waste not to take advantage of my +300 followers. Admittedly probably half of them followed me because of my avatar picture, but whatever! For this blog, I thought it would be a good idea to make a list of my favourite games, but because of conflicts between older classics and modern games, I decided to make it exclusive to classics/pre-6th generation. And so I present my top 10 nostalgic games; that I've loved to death or have been impacted by it in one way or another.

10. Diablo II & Lord of Destruction

This game is undoubtedly great. It was a blast to run through each act on Battle.net even with a bunch of random pubbers/strangers and was a total clickfest. Slaughtering everything in your path with other dudes felt great, and loot whoring the boss was extremely satisfying. Unfortunately, while this game maybe on my list of top 10 nostalgic games, there is not much for me to say about it compare to the other games. 


9. Super Smash Bros.

I would pretty much always play this game with my friend when I came over to his house or when he'd bring his N64 over my house. Each and every time, I would pick Link, just because... well he's got a sword and a shield, and he looks cool (I never really played any Zelda games). Repeatedly I'd also get my ass handed to me. While people may question about the fighting "authenticity" of the series, the original remains to be a classic and will continually remind that it is the best of the series (Melee was good for the massive number of characters it brought however). 


8. Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings

Strategy games has always been my forte when I was young, must have had something to do with my technical mind. Anyways, Age of Empires II is a game that I appreciate. It's an example of a good strategy game that has its own worth of value and replayability, with solid gameplay mechanics. I'm sure it's much more worthy of what words I've just said, but that's how I feel. Oh. And the number of factions each with their unique special unit was kickass. Longbows and Teutonic Knights ftw. 


7. River City Ransom

Straight up beat-em up. I play this with my sister when we were young and naive. We would go about and finish the game, kicking and punching to death every gang member that got in our way, multiple of times (a few solo play, not terribly far off recently). The RPG element made the game ever so more addicting, allowing you to spend hard earned cash to increase your stats and recover health. One of my great moments was some of the catchy playful tune that plays while you're kicking someone else's ass. A truly exceptional but forgotten classic. 


6. Deadlock: Planetary Conquest

A relatively unheard of game, Deadlock: Planetary Conquest is a turn based strategy game that I sank hours into. It is by no means classic, but this game has allowed me to experience hours and hours of fun managing my faction on the newly discovered, vacant and competed world, Gallius IV. There were seven races, each with their own unique characteristics, advantages and disadvantages, all vying for ownership of this damned forsaken and war torn world. While this game is no classic and is obscure, I fucking love it, even with those stupid, annoying and frequent insults from other species . 

I've been trying to get a hold of its sequel just because I love the game so much, despite how much of a pain it was to attack (you had no real control over your units and had to drag them for a battle in the world map). Just recent and ONLY recently I managed to finally get a hold of the sequel. I am fucking glad. I have no idea how such a simple Googling never got me around to finding the game... the sequel is 12 years old and the publisher has been dead for probably a decade now, so it shouldn't hurt downloading it for free. 


5. Perfect Dark

Before the Call of Duty explosion into the market that I caught onto, there was Perfect Dark. Yeah sure, before Perfect Dark there was Golden Eye 007, but it all comes down to experience. While I played Golden Eye 007 first, Perfect Dark was the game that I got really hooked into with its combat simulator. It was ridiculous amounts of fun playing with my friend with combat sims enabled.

There were simply many guns that I enjoyed using and fondly remember. The RC-P120, Reaper, Slayer, Callisto NTG and the fucking Laptop Gun. Dude, Laptop Gun. Fuck!

The crazy ass number of guns to choose from and secondary functions on all of them made the game truly an ambitious one. It sort of was like, I don't know, gun porn in a way. It's not like it's just a gun with a different skin like nowadays in Call of Duty, many of the guns had their own unique characteristics or secondary function. To this day I have no fucking idea why none or not many FPS has picked up the secondary function mechanics from Perfect Dark. It is truly mind blowing to me why that is the case. Definitely a classic FPS, despite the fact that it was a spiritual successor to Golden Eye 007. 


4. The Legend of Dragoon

A timeless RPG classic that somehow got the mixed end of reviews... also subsequently forgotten and ignored by Sony. The Legend of Dragoon was one of those classics which I adored restlessly without my naive self knowing. I replayed the game from start to finish multiple of times, much to my amusement now that I think about it (I rarely replay a game from start to finish). It had a cast of characters which I liked, perhaps a cliche but epic story and a satisfying but challenging combat system called "additions" that will always kept me on my toes.

The additions combat system, which basically was a pre-set character specific attacks, required you to press a button at the right time was innovative. By getting more timings right in a addition, you would deal more damage. It was satisfying trying to pull off some of the higher tier additions, such as "Blazing Dynamo" for the protagonist, as they unleash their furies of blows. I think could have been revolutionary if it had met more positive reception from reviewers and if the timing didn't have to be nearly as precise.

Listening to the soundtrack on YouTube recently made me realise and appreciate what terrific soundtrack this game had. The nostalgia comes right back at me and my feelings is that the reviews it got as undeserving. In my opinion, it should warrant a sequel, a prequel or even a remake. Anything to see the Dragoons back in action and experience the Legend of Dragoon experience once more. It has been a great pleasure to play this game. 


3. Pokemon Gold/Silver/Crystal

A handheld game? You fucking bet. I honestly don't really need to go into depth on this one, other than I probably replayed it from start to finish more than half a dozen times. The substantial of new content added on top of Red/Blue makes this game from my point of view, the peak of the series. And to talk about how hardcore I was about this game, I had all three versions of this game (Gold, Silver, Crystal). Nothing fucking beats this. I mean which new Pokemon game that takes place on a new continent, has more content than Gold and Silver? None, because this game has two continents! Also doesn't help that the series gradually went downhill from here. I swear this game in terms of content single-handedly beats some of the newest modern games out there in the market. 


2. Advance Wars

Jesus, this game was addicting as hell. It was like crack. I just kept playing it over and over again, to the point where I've pretty much perfected my skills in the game, up against computer players anyways. The simple and easy to learn mechanics to the game are fun and actually has some deep depth into it (I think). Adding on top of the various CO (Commanding Officer) you could play with makes playing the game worthwhile and allows you to adopt various army compositions. Want air dominance? Go play as Eagle (I think his CO Power is overpowered as hell, by the way). Like tanks? Max. Feeling for the waters? Drake. Want to heal units that are damaged and have an all-around CO? Andy. If you have a GBA, this is the classic you want to get your hands on. 


1. StarCraft

By far one of the most influential games of my gaming life. I just love the game to death and I don't think words can really express it. One of the my first games that brought me into gaming (I played games before it, but this one was... it was the big push forward). It's a unique relationship because, for the most part, I do not play this game competitively. Hell, I use multiple of cheats in game because I simply suck at the game. But that was also when I was young. For the most part, I just loved the lore in the single player and the abundant of custom maps on Battle.net.

I can also tell you that, StarCraft introduced me into forums. I joined my first forums because of the game and stayed around there for probably five years until I migrated over to GiantBomb. There at the previous forums I would learn grammar and to spell properly, doing more self-learning and observation than any of my English classes would teach me to spell properly (I should also mention that I learned how to type quickly with two fingers in games such as Diablo II when communicating with others). And because of forums, I was enlightened by political and gaming discussion. And there's a list of shit this game brought about on my life.

Hope you enjoy the read.

Oh and I am fucking glad that we finally got the sequel for this game, by the way.

16 Comments

Some in-depth thoughts on post-secondary

Hey there Giantbomb, its another nameless asshat on the forums. I normally hate writing blogs because quite frankly, I'm a terrible writer and no one gives half a shit for me. =( Buuuut I'm pretty bored at the moment and I've been meaning to post my thoughts on the differences between high school and college. If you didn't know, I've graduated from high school and now I'm attending college as a first year, taking a bunch of random courses that me and my father picked up hastily (its a long story that I won't get into). I'm more than a week in so far, and things are pretty overwhelming. So here's what I've got to say about college, the good, the ugly, everything that I can think of so far.
  
[Geek]There's a lot of things that are different from your usual secondary institutions. Their facilities are obviously much larger, more modern, more luxurious, more confusing, more packed with students and much more well equipped. I checked out the specs on our computers like any normal curious geek or nerd would and was surprised that we'd even need to have a GeForce 4000 series card in our computers. Not very high end or anything, but obviously interested that they'd go out of their way making sure their computers are speedy, unlike in high school where those computers feel like they're more than +5 years old (they're actually pretty new, but lack any real performance with a shitty network and memory-whoring security software). Our college has a pretty damn fast network too, 120 Mb/s download rate is glorious. I'm just a little annoyed that they haven't upgraded to at least Vista; I was hoping they'd upgrade to Windows 7. I just... can't use XP anymore. I'm sorry, its ancient.[/Geek]
 
Alright, enough of the geek facts. There's so many unfamiliar faces in school, chances are that you'll never ever meet everyone like you do in high school (at least in your grade, anyway). What I enjoyed about high school was that I would always go to a usual place to hang out with my friends during our lunch breaks. But in college, everyone's schedule are different, so the group of people you'll be hanging out on campus is significantly reduced. To be fair, it did take me time to find a right group of friends in high school, so I should give college the benefit of the doubt. Still, I feel that college is a much more individual geared institution and for good reasons too (not that I agree with them). 
 
Seeing a familiar face on campus is always a relieving sight. You don't see your old acquaintances or friends very often, but when you do its pretty nice to see them after being overwhelmed with the number of strangers you'll see on a daily basis. I'm not sure why, but because of the feeling of such isolation and individuality that is found in college, made me more open to talking to faces I've seen from our same high school, even though I may not have talked to them or only "know their face". There's this one girl that I honestly never talk to, but after bumping into each other a few times we'd acknowledge each other and have a small talk. That never happened in high school. Its like starting all over again, with a lack of any real social or cultural barriers that stop us from interacting with each other. Same deal with some other guys I may not know very well. :3
 
The age disparity in college can get pretty outrageous, since we can have some dudes from their 30's or 40's attending the same course as you do. Its hard to distinguish who's new and who's been here for a while and is older than you; except maybe that first years like me are intimidated by everything. So its interesting. Typically, in high school you'd more or less stick with your own grade and ignore everyone else, especially the lower grades. That doesn't happen in college, its much more of a "open society". The great thing about the whole age thing though is that for once nobody seems like they're really 12 years old or some short person with some height issues. Believe me, Hollywood lied to me about grade 8s are as tall as college students. FUCK YOU HOLLYWOOD. T_T
 
There's really no "fitting in" scenario you get from high school. In high school there's always these social rules that, now that I think about it, are pretty absurd and naive. They're pretty hilarious looking back at it now, but they're pretty tough on odd people like you and me. College, different story. There's no real social laws that you have to abide to. And chances are, you won't be harassed for being "different". Because whatever program you signed up for, more likely than not there will be people who are similar to you in personality, behaviour and most certainly in common interest. I took a course on web development and programming; and unsurprisingly there's a male majority and a bunch of smart nerds. Not the most social of the bunch, I may add. There might be certain social laws, but you're all segregated from other groups, so we all live together happily. This individuality and no social order structure in college is where I suspect most nerds will thrive in, naturally a beauty. 
 
Classes also happen to be less overwhelming than I first thought. The pacing is actually remarkably slower; for better or for worse. This is great because you can sort of ignore your work for a bit before deciding to finish up your assignments or projects. The courses that are one hour long feels very short, while ones that are two hours feel not long at all. Time really flies by in college. Most professors are good at their job from my impression, most professional enough to teach what we need to learn at any rate. Our programming teacher sounds a little dimwitted sometimes though. =P 
 
Closing thoughts: So far, college feels alright. People make the fuss out of college way too much, about the change and all. If you're in high school and hate high school's stupid social rules and never fit in; I think you'll LOVE post-secondary. Post-secondary is VERY open about differences on one and another; you can be yourself without having to worry about being left out or excluded in a group. There's certainly some things that you will miss in high school, like all the drama and feeling apart of a community of the grade somehow, but college certainly is great and should not be overlooked.

5 Comments

Thoughts on the Whiskey Media subscription fee

A little background

Heya, my name is Meteora, I have been around here since at least June 2008, right before when this site was a mere blog needing love and nurture from its readers. I sort of consider myself as a one of the more older members that has been around for longer than I should have been. I'm far from a core member. I'm not cool enough for that. But enough of that, I wanted to talk about something about this whole subscription business. DISCLAIMER: Note that my opinion should not be held higher due to my *cough* seniority; I am as much of a member as anyone else is here who loves Giantbomb.
 
For quite a while since the early days of the site, the Giantbomb community has been very supportive of the crew and the Whiskey Media family. A large number of us has been nagging the guys to donate money to support the crew before the whole subscription idea really got off the ground. They refused, they didn't want to take money and basically do nothing with it. They felt that we should get something, offering to sell T-shirts to members as a means to receive money from us, yet giving something back for our money's worth.
 
We have held admiration for the guys behind Giantbomb/Whiskey Media for their idea on how to run a gaming site and a business model, continually impressed with the performance they have held up throughout its life. However, today we hit a stumbling block that let all hell loose on the forums. 
 
If you haven't heard yet, the subscription fees included a change in the Bombcast format. Normally the Bombcast ran for more than 2 hours worth of awesome podcast coming from the Giantbomb crew. However, with the introduction of the subscription fees, it will become a podcast that is more or less changed for the benefit of those who paid. Basically, it will be split into an hour each for session. The first hour can be heard when released, but the second hour will not be heard until next week; while subscribers will get it all at once. What did the community think of it?


They don't like it. Not one bit. Well, most of us except that fellow named jorojoserojas ;)
 

The issue at hand

I can see where we're coming from, and I can also see where Whiskey Media stands on this. No matter how hard we try to think otherwise; Whiskey Media is a business and it has a business model. It runs on cold, hard cash (unfortunately whiskey didn't work so well while fueling it). However, Whiskey Media is a company that has a very supportive community, willing to help the guys out by throwing money at them as a tribute of sorts. Not many companies has ever achieved that sort of status, it is certainly a unique thing to be seen. 
 
This whole idea of taking what was there and making it a premium content is a little mind puzzling for me. I'm a bit worried. Am I pissed off? No, not really. Though most are pissed off and losing their minds, throwing whatever backlash at the crew after all these years of love and adoring. Is it painful to see them go in this direction...? Maybe, but its more painful to see that the community has been more or less torn apart by the recent announcement. Do I blame the guys for making what I seemingly always presume to be a serious error and oversight like I normally do for just about everything else? Fuck I don't know. 
 
Do I want to go on with my reserved honorary "I have been a member of Giantbomb for X amount of time; this sucks!1ONE11!" speech? No, not really.
 
I think the Whiskey Media crew needs to take a step back and take a look at the bigger picture. Taking content out from what is already free and making it a premium does not bode well and only results in backlash and negative perception from the community, as seen from this thread. The business plan is flawed. I can understand the need to put more features for premium content so it becomes more enticing to subscribe, but that's why you generate more features, not take existing ones and make them it a subscriber's feature. I don't think that works well. Doing that would be the same as Sony putting in a mandatory subscription fee for the PS3. One reason why people bought a PS3 was because of free online gaming; because it has always been free from the start.
  
What I think they should do is remove whatever plans they had for the Bombcast and come up with an alternative feature. There have been some suggestions that the Whiskey Media crew's podcast can do video podcasts as a subscription feature. I know many of us would be dying for that sort of feature and could pursue quite a few of us into subscribing. I know I would; though PayPal isn't supported. =( In any case, there are other things they could include in the membership plan that doesn't involve taking what exists already, and making it a content that you need to pay for. If necessary, they could shrink the subscription fee and exclude some other features that don't need to be there (such as T-shirts).  
 
Actually, to be honest, I'm pretty sure the guys who will support Whiskey Media wouldn't mind at all if you took away that whole Bombcast idea and will still be gladly to subscribe.

The Verdict

Whiskey Media needs to know and be reminded that it has a fanbase that is willing to support it for being awesome and continually awesome; but that this isn't awesome at all. We as a community do not like being treated in a certain way that ticks us off. We love this website and we will continue to stand by it. But, all of us have our limits. This isn't necessarily a threat, rather a simple message that, as regular and obsessive visitors of this site, we want to have a pleasant experience. No hassling thought that there's some change that would bug us simply because, there's a feature that was there before, and now is more or less gimped simply because we get the content later. Yes, the content is still there, but the change doesn't feel right. There's many of us who feels the same, especially given the time gap between first and second hour of the Bombcast. 
 
Let's make it up Whiskey Media. How about you find a solution to this problem in which seems to be upsetting everyone in the forums, fix it and we'll totally forget all about this business and forgive you? And like I said, you can totally remove that feature. People will still subscribe to your membership. You do not need to split the Bombcast into two sections to get people to subscribe. Now that I think about it, its pretty trivial to even include that. Its no offence, I'm just thinking aloud. I hope you drop the idea, fix it, whatever, and we can hopefully get along together in the future. 
 
Sorry about the loud read. Its been emotional roller coaster. <_<
 
~Meteora
70 Comments

A glance at Space Station 13 (game)

A few days ago, I talked to a guy I knew who was from the United Kingdom. He introduced me to Space Station 13, a F2P roleplaying game which he has obsessively playing lately. I decided to give the game a go because the idea he put out sounded like cool concepts, and proceeded to download the BYOND client which the game is played on. I picked a server and began downloading the mandatory stuff (probably the map's geometry or something) and hopped right in.  Boy was I in a treat... Let me explain to you what the game is all about. The middle part is not a mandatory read, so don't be turned off by the length. 


Welcome to Space Station 13 (mandatory read, duh)

 Sample of the chatbox; admittedly not the best of RPing but hey it works
Space Station 13, otherwise SS13, is a roleplaying game where you run around as a member of the SS13. The game is basically a sandbox of sorts, with you running around SS13 as a crew member. While in game the player can interact with their surrounding environment and converse with other players from a first person perspective, aka in-character (IC). If that sounds complicated to you, don't worry it's not. You basically converse with other players just as you converse in real life, except with more one liners. Its really not all that hard to grasp the idea.
 
As a crew of the station, you have a job, each with their own unique designated roles and responsibilities. Love to cook? You're in luck, be a chef. Love gardening and fielding a army of killer tomatoes? Botanist would be perfect for you. Like to fix things after a huge explosion? Be a Engineer. Want to annoy people to death and throw turd around? Join up as a clown. Want to deal with just about every griefing bastard on SS13? Sign up for security. Want to become a HAL 9000-clone? Be the AI and fuck all. There is probably roughly 20 different jobs, each with limited slots. A few are more RP-oriented, such as the chef or lawyer. Depending on the job you take, you will have certain access to specific rooms and locations on the station (i.e. a engineer will have access to the maintenance shafts and engine room). 
 
     Being a nub chef is hard work
While the game is essentially a sandbox, there are different modes that warrant merits and demerits. Some include fighting off aliens which we like to call "facehuggers", who are more or less essentially the same as aliens in Aliens vs Predators franchise. There's also one that involves fighting a blob infestation or dealing with a pesky wizard and his magic. Then there's nuclear, where a few guys have to attempt to arm a bomb on the space station by infiltrating the place. Others are a little bit more common like traitor, which involves one or more who has a set of objectives to kill someone or steal certain objects. There's enough variety to keep things interesting, on atop which I think happens to be a pretty crazy sandbox game. Each "round" lasts for a certain duration, usually between half an hour to a hour before someone calls the evacuation shuttle because things got FUBAR on SS13. After that you get kicked back out into the lobby (assuming you don't disconnect, anyways).
  
 

 This guy was unbolting every window here, screwing everyone without a oxygen tank who tries to escape. Pretty hilarious.
A few things that you can do on the station is your job, do some space exploration (if you have permission), build a bunch of walls or vandalize them, interact with other players, release the plasma from the toxins lab or blow up shit and cause mayhem (this last one here happens quite often in most games). There's a fair amount of shit that you can do and I haven't even listed down or hasn't popped up in my head as I type this. I haven't seen anyone build a entirely new room before, but its entirely possible if you do it discretely enough, have the resources available and the round goes on for a long time.
 
     Don't be like us and learn to survive, kid  
Though it is a sandbox, you have one primary objective in each and every round: try to survive. The interesting thing about SS13 is that there are people who want to RP normally and those who might clobber you in the head with something. You sometimes cannot tell the difference and their intentions. A number of them are idiots griefing, but there are a few which are genuine (traitor needs to kill a certain person). This kind of attitude has brought in a feeling of extreme paranoia, from just about everyone. The amount of distrust to each other is legitimate for IC and OOC (out of character) and is a interesting twist to the game. Of course, killing is illegal on the station in every form, so hopefully the captain, AI and security follow the laws and crack down on the offender and imprison them. If you're dead and lucky, a geneticist or a roboticist can revive you with a clone or a robot body, respectively (beware of the geneticists; they can make you a monkey if you're not careful. Happened to me before when I was alive).
 
 Say what you want, but this was awesome.    
Now, I'll have to be frank with some issues with the game instead of just selling it to you. Griefing is a issue, some people just enjoy killing people. It can sometimes get out of hand, especially if you're too trusting of someone else or venture off into some isolated place. It is sort of part of the game now, so you have to be careful about others. There is some serious lag issues, but fortunately it varies on different servers, so you can simply hop on in a different game. I heard there are terrible admins, but I haven't experienced any issues with this (other than horror stories about unwillingness to ban griefers and mistakenly ban non-griefers). Of course, I've only played less than week and I'm more of a "rather not murder someone" kinda guy in this game. 
 
The HUD is unfortunately fairly dated and clunky. There's some odd mechanics like having to switch to your free hand to pick up shit or say open your oxygen tank. I often ended up beating someone up at least once whenever I try to attempt to wake them up or perform CPR with the wrong hand, heh. But once you get into the game then it doesn't really become too much of a issue. The learning curve is steep if you didn't read the guides or have someone guiding you, though fortunately there's a fair share of people who will teach you things. Sometimes people, security in particular, are incompetent and do not respond to things in a timely order, or do some shitty work on their job. Perhaps the most annoying thing for me is when the captain goes rogue and uses a cloaking device to kill just about everyone. At that point you might as well quit and join another server, because you'll stay dead for a while. 

Some crazy & unique moments (optional read)

      Contrary to popular belief, we weren't vandalizing shit.
There was one time when I was apart of a exploration team that consisted of four members; myself included. We all geared up and headed out to a derelict space station. Our leader was named Narfy. We ventured out into deep space with our space suits, already losing one man on our way there as he got lost in space (technically we just ditched him unintentionally, he didn't follow us quickly enough, can't remember his name). When we got there we hooked up the power and began looking around the abandoned Russian space station, exploring the unknown with our own eyes. It was exciting to explore the place, I kinda felt as if it was gonna be a secondary base of operations, a sister station to SS13.
 
 

 Russians in Space!
Apparently we weren't the only ones here though. A robot named "Officer Beepsky" followed us hundreds of miles into outerspace just to try to arrest us. All that was separating us was the glass, as he was from outside. A fellow explorer named Aaron joined to replace our lost comrade. We were pretty puzzled about why the hell the robot followed us ALLLLLLL the way to where we were. It was ridiculous. You should have seen the radio chatter we had with the guys back at SS13. It was pretty crazy... 
 
But things just went even more crazier. There was a clinic and a functional computer, with all the database of our crew on SS13. We were shocked to find medical reports on each and everyone of us. Strangely enough, someone thought it was funny to list "missing head and shoulders" as a major disorder for me. Aaron went off to explore some more while we dicked around in the clinc. He returned and told us to follow him. We did, and found out there were aliens on this space station. Without a moment's notice, a alien popped out of Aaron's stomach, effectively killing him. It turned into a some kinda horror thing, reminded me of Dead Space for some reason. We screamed for our lives and went to find a escape route, up until I blew up into a bunch of pieces. All that was left was Narfy as I just fucking blew up (I still don't know why I just died like that). Narfy was pretty much screwed at that point, though the round ended without him being killed.
  
In another round, we played aliens and everyone got together. We all went into the cargo bay, armed ourselves with weapons and barricaded the room as the rest of the station got infested. It was a pretty disorganised group, but at least half of us managed to evacuate in time for the shuttle.

This was an alien attack, and this was the second before I blew up, again, this time with a alien out of my stomach
 
 Here we were rigging the disposal pipes to send it out into another area, away from the rest of the station.
Another round I hooked up with a guy named Hunter. We were both engineers and I decided to play along with his plans. We decided it would be a good idea to heat up the engine by releasing a bunch of plasma, so that it would produce more energy. We broke every fuel tank in there. Normally plasma doesn't catch on fire, but this time the whole fucking engine just engulfed in flames. We panicked and got the hell out of there. Decided to do a bit more screwing around and went to claim the cargo bay as our base of operations, establishing a new "nation" on the station.  
 
The captain was more than willing to allow it, since I suppose no one was really doing anything with that area anyways. It was a pretty interesting idea, because we started doing some modifications on the station which normally wouldn't be allowed (especially if the AI was occupied by someone, which wasn't the case). Because we screwed up the engine earlier on, the rest of the station began to run out of juice, aside from us, where we relied on a bunch of batteries to keep the room functional while the rest of SS13 got screwed over (we were the only engineers and the engine room was FUBAR and filled with plasma). Pretty sure that was part of his plan. Either way, it was working pretty well for us, up until a major lag spike.
 
Many other stories to tell, but I think this should give you a good idea on what crazy things can happen. 
 

The Verdict (mandatory read)

Space Station 13 is a addicting game with many surprising elements and possibilities out of such a small game (about what, less than 15 mb?). A game doesn't need to have eye candy graphics to do well. SS13 excels in the department of originality and allows just about allows a wide range of creativity. I probably wouldn't say infinite since I'm unsure if you can add or make new objects/maps, but there's a lot to consume. Its a game for people like me who likes to pretend I'm some avatar dude who's getting royally fucked over by the sheer insanity that can happen on SS13. If you're into sandbox games, RPGs and like to roleplay (don't need to write well) then this game just might be for you. Its a game that doesn't require a supercomputer to run, you could probably run it on Windows 98 if you had decent internet.  
 
Here's a kinda funny summary of what I've just said: 
  
  
 

For those who are interested in playing

If you want to join the club and play SS13, just download the Byond client. Making an account for it is unnecessary, but preferable. Go to the RPG section and find Space Station 13. My username is Meteora147, so you can just add me on your friends list. My character is always named as Ramirez in one way or another (it gets hilarious when everyone orders me around to do the impossible, just like the meme). Here's two servers I primarily play on (you have to create a new character for each server, its annoying I know but there's not a whole lot to customize in the fist place, takes a few mere minutes).
 
  • Gibbed #4 Goon Station 13 - This is probably the most populous server in the game. I've seen the player count go upwards of 60 and never seen it go below 30 at midnight in Pacific Time. Despite the high player count, it surprisingly doesn't feel especially too crowded, given how we're all in our all special rooms, how big the station is and how maybe a dozen of them will be killed off one or another. Despite the GOON's reputation (which probably isn't too favourable) the RPers here are actually pretty decent. One time I actually had a pretty quiet game where everyone just chilled, never had to do any work as a janitor.
  • German Station 14 Concos Hut - My favored server so far, its been a mix of things. Population count is roughly 15-30 on average. My British friend says he prefers RPing here. I'm not sure how the quality compares to Gibbed #4. It goes up and down sometimes. Sometimes there's a lot of griefing, other times its fine. The one fatal flaw so far however, is that German Station seems to have a lot of lag. And I mean a lot. The lag spikes sometimes lasts for 5 minutes. Luckily you can pretty much just go on the internet and browse around until the game unfreezes, but its annoying.
 
I haven't tried Gibbed #3, its the second most populous server. 
 
Also, for those who are starting off, here's a few things you should know. Please start off of as an assistant. You get very few access as an assistant, but you don't have very much responsibility either, which is good since the room to fuck up the rest of the station by mistake is very low. Its good for those who are learning the mechanics, controls and the map layout. Stick with it for a while until you've gotten a good grasp of things. After that, you can try some other lower difficult jobs like janitor, barkeeper, chef. Some of the highest difficult jobs are the AI, captain and Head of Personnel, so don't choose them until you learned your way through the game. 
 
Here's a few useful links: 
 
HUD Explanation 
Basic Commands 
Tutorial 
Roles/Jobs Index (for the curious)
Station Layout (older map, detailed) 
Station Layout (newer map, but not nearly as detailed) 
 
Fuck my fingers are tired from all of this typing. I'll try to help any of you if you need it, but I'm pretty new myself. I've gotten most of the basics down though.
4 Comments
  • 14 results
  • 1
  • 2