The Oculus story has a lot of angles to it and the number of think pieces around have shown many sides to it. I think the following things.
One, Oculus' investors were spooked by the Sony reveal. The Facebook deal was made in less than a week. They probably stopped believing in the long view when a rival appeared poised to possibly beat them to market. It is a good thing those short sighted investors aren't the bossmen anymore.
Two Facebook has money and can take a more long term approach to VR. In 10 years VR could be everywhere if Oculus plays it right and doesn't immediately try to cash in. They made a movie about how Zuckerberg took the long view with Facebook.
Three Virtual Reality is the future. Question is who is the face of it? Sony, Microsoft or Oculus?
Four John Carmack.
Six the people who are upset and believe they personally are earned dividends are out of their damn minds. They made good on the rewards and, even better, they did it well. They ethically and legally did their duties to their backers.
Seven yeah Facebook is a bit sketchy and I don’t use it anymore. Not because of privacy though, just because I was getting nothing out of it. No one else’s posts interested me and no one engaged with my posts. Abysmal hole. Prefer Twitter and forums.
Eight people screaming about betrayal are pretty ridiculous. Don’t like Oculus Rift anymore? Okay, dollar vote for Microsoft or Sony then. It’s a free world.
Nine what was said about games just being a start is absolutely true. Yes, games are fun but this tech has so much raw motherfucking potential beyond gaming it could end the world. This is only barely an exaggeration.
Today's Quick Look of DKC Tropical Freeze is a great reminder for those of us who know DKC well that not everyone knows how to roll jump. Straight up always be roll jumping. It's the best. Rolling is a lot faster than running and, when you jump out of a roll, you have a lot of extra momentum that takes you farther. Air control being what it is in DKCR and DKCTF it's a lot easier to overshoot where you want to land than in the original SNES games but with a little practice it can be pretty reliable especially if you have Diddy or Dixie and can use their power to kill your momentum before landing. Also try rolling off a ledge! You can jump out of a roll at any time even in midair. This is super key.
Outside of roll jumping rolling is just super useful. If you have a buddy on your back it's infinite and you can do it as long as you like. Otherwise you can use it to take out one dude (be careful if it's a string of dudes) or just use it exclusively for roll jumps which are faster than just running anyway. (Note: In the SNES games rolling works different. Momentum is not higher for a roll jump than a regular jump. It's easier to stop though because you have more air control. Additionally you roll as long as you're hitting dudes and get a speed boost for each one you hit.)
Watch this guy do the first level of a speed run of DKCR. He's always roll jumping because, without the infinite roll, that's the fastest way to move. Look how far he goes with each jump. Remember the gaps that Jeff and Brad struggled to cross. They're trivial with a roll jump! You don't need any space to start it, it comes out instantly pretty much. It's great.
So yeah, always be rolling and roll jumping. That's sort of rule #1 while playing DKC games. Playing DKC without rolling is like... playing Sonic without realizing he can turn into a ball. It's essential and the key to going fast and doing tricky jumps. Good luck and don't stop for nothing!
(Note: Would've liked to post to the DKCTF board however the "Search for a Specific forum" option is borked.)
I watched a speedrun of Metroid Fusion yesterday. I've been doing that a lot lately after watching AGDQ 2014 and wanting to see more. Watching it I recalled that, despite whatever harm Other M did to Fusion's characters, it's setting and premise remained cool. It was a novel concept that this massive research lab was taken over by a nasty parasite that could replicate anything it came across and half Metroid Samus was the only one suited to stopping them. It also had a bit of shady business coming from the humans for once which was a pretty cool aspect. It's all very solid and well thought out but thinking on it yesterday I realized something didn't add up.
How did the X Parasites get a hold of Space Pirate DNA? There weren't Space Pirates on SR-388. That must mean they had Space Pirates somewhere on the Space Station. Were they experimenting on Space Pirates? That would make some sense given they were breeding Metroids and planned to breed X as well. To what end were they experimenting though? Were they just trying to figure out how they tick or... Were they breeding Space Pirates too?
I looked into this a little. Apparently Space Pirates are always genetically engineering themselves better. They've also got a knack for getting a hold of more Metroids and powerful creatures somehow. I thought about it a bit. And I've come to the conclusion Space Pirates are an inside job. The space station in Fusion is clearly designed for illicit breeding and bio engineering but not just for Metroids I think. I think the Galactic Federation actively has bred and engineered the Space Pirates both to keep outlying worlds from Browncoating and to keep the military budget, both in terms of weapon development/research and manpower, strong and steady. The pirates are in some ways ideal for that since while they have a number of strongholds which they're not especially good at holding that can be contracted out to independent parties (In Prime 3 and Hunters it's established there are dozens of hired guns each capable of taking out a Pirate leaders even within their strongholds) the main danger of Space Pirates is such that they could be anywhere and they could attack any undefended ship at any time. Easy to rationalize how they can return to strength after having their bases wiped out time and time again when they always can bounce back to guerrilla tactics.
Additionally doing some reading on other elements of the Metroid fiction some things fall into place with this theory. A lot of what the GF does in the games can be justified by wanting to keep pace with morally bankrupt Pirates. For instance the Pirates use Phazon Weapons which slowly poison the user. So does the GF. An upside of Pirates continually upgrading themselves biologically is that the GF can continue to get more powerful as well. Additionally one an raise an eyebrow at previous Metroid plots focusing on how Space Pirates have managed to clone Metroids and breed/engineer them to make them more dangerous which is exactly what the GF was doing on the space station. Had the X situation not turned as raw as it did odds are Space Pirates would've just found Metroids again and the GF would say "unbelievable! They did it again!" Additionally there's the bit where Mother Brain and the Metroids were made by the Chozos.
Here's my theory about Mother Brain and Metroids. One, Metroids aren't bad by default, they're made that way through breeding/engineering. The Metroids in Metroid 1 are little more than guard dogs and don't leave Tourian even though there would be little risk involved for the nigh unstoppable Metroids. Also obviously the ones in Metroid II were in nature and really shouldn't have been hunted to extinction for no reason. Two, Mother Brain went off the reservation. Saw the big picture for what it was. Took control of a band of pirates and wanted to do more with it than scare the natives. She failed and was killed by Samus.
Basically the theory is this. The pirates are too evil and loose too many strongholds too often to keep up the research necessary to dramatically change all their soldiers every few years, especially since they often lose their leadership when they lose their HQs. The GF have the resources and facilities to do this research and, additionally, do conduct some research in the same fields the pirates do ostensibly to keep pace. They see enemies as a tool for control and aren't concerned how dangerous they are or what the collateral damage is as evidenced by their intentions with the X. Basically the Pirates are created and supported by covert human research out of labs like the one in Fusion and serve to support and maintain military spending.
I would like it if this was the direction of a post-Fusion Metroid game since in any case you'd have to do a plot like that as Samus and the GF aren't on good terms after Fusion. Plus Samus is half Metroid now, maybe she could get a Castlevania Bat like move where she becomes a Metroid along with other crazy Metroid inspired moves. That'd be cool.
Phazon was totally a real and legit threat though.
So a year back plus I had never experienced anything that resembled a Visual Novel. Closest I got was playing Persona 3 which is hardly close at all considering all the grinding you have to do before you get on with the awesome story of Persona 3. Then there was an episode of Metadating, a live show where Starcraft II streamer Day and two of his friends would play games about dating, about a well regarded Visual Novel called Katawa Shoujo. As they described the premise, a dating visual novel where you attend a school for the disabled and foster relationships with one of 5 girls with various disabilities, I settled in ready for a wonderful livestream where 3 guys drink beer, laugh and try to understand an incoherent mess. It was going to be fun! It took me a while to realize as they went through the intro, talking about the style of the prose and how it establishes things that this game actually wasn't funny bad. In fact, it was... well done? What? The 3 drinking men are all analyzing how everything that's happening works well together instead of guffawing at inconsistent nonsense like the previous visual novel they played. After that carried through the show and they Day decided they'd return to it the next episode I decided to play it myself. I quite liked it. It made my top 10 that year. At #3. After that I never played another Visual Novel again unless you count Persona 4 Arena which you might as well.
That is until a few weeks ago when I said "I think I'll replay Katawa Shoujo over Christmas." I then did that. And then I finished and wanted more. So I decided to go try other Visual Novels. Rather than do the sensible thing and go grab 999 the visual novel Patrick recommended last year I went and looked at Katawa Shojo's wiki page and clicked on the top game under "Similar games" and looked at the one topic in that forum. People seemed to like it. It's written by someone whose native language is English (which I feel is an important part of why Katawa Shoujo worked. Written by English speakers who have good English. Novels are made of English, this logic checks out.) and people seem to like it. People in the thread are mentioning Digital A Love Story which I'm pretty sure I've heard of. Maybe Paul Barnett was into that one year?
So the Visual Novel I decided to play was "Don't Take It Personally, Babe, It Just Ain't Your Story" which is turns out is shit. In this shit Visual Novel you play as a High School teacher and you read your students Facebook and Emails on the down low. It's bad. And I'm very sure it's bad. I feel strongly about that. That said there are things that are, academically, interesting about it. For instance I feel like I understand now what it must feel like to be a teacher. Playing it I felt like all their drama was beneath me and also that they're largely very stupid. In a way I imagine that must be how teachers would feel if they actually read your Facebook. They'd roll their eyes a lot. I think that's academically interesting? I also think it's entirely unintended. I also think it's interesting in a way to write a game heavily based on social media. Hell, I had a similar hilarious idea a couple months ago that could be described as "Banjo-Kazooie like world, cast as colorful as Banjo-Kazooie, the only way any characters communicate is with Twitter." I was highly amused with my idea. I toyed with the notion that if you At Replied the wrong person too many times they'd block you and you'd never read their tweets again and also the game wouldn't alert you as a needlessly clever parody of how real Twitter works. So what I'm saying is I also understand the compulsion to write what you know and to write about the way we communicate in modern day which makes story telling really weird. Like if Banjo took out a phone and tweeted upon getting a Jiggy that'd be dumb and great.
With that let's get right in on what is bad about this visual novel. Since I was just talking about culture I feel like the first thing is that the culture that the author knows is completely anathema to me. It's like she has a fetish I do not and there's just a ton of fan service moments that I'm supposed to appreciate. Case in point before any day where a student wants to have a word before you leave before you go see to them you're forced to look at Fake 4Chan because the main character feels like he can spare a moment. Like reading Fake 4Chan is his reward. Also a number of the students don't use good regular English. Also the only thing other than teenage drama that is discussed on Facebook seems to be how boring/confusing my class is and some shit about some non-localized (the game is set in Canada) Anime which I imagine doesn't really exist which the kids are discussing. On some level I imagine that this is part of me filtering out the part of the internet where that sort of person lives, not looking at Facebook ever and looking down on anyone who can't be bothered to spell properly or uses the word "weeaboo." In any case it caused a lot of the game to be distasteful to me which definitely contributes to its problems. Bad use of English. Unfortunate.
Second thing sort of has more to do with more specific story stuff. I found the directions the story went in to be hit or miss. Decent at best, stupid at worst. I'm going to start spoiling shit. Maybe read no more if you care. Anyway, so the first really weird fucking thing that happens is you can become a pedophile if you so choose by accepting the advance of a student. Doing this is really stupid period but I feel the writer, and the character, doesn't even really consider the second biggest reason why after age of consent. THE SCHOOL SURREPTITIOUSLY READS EVERY STUDENT'S PRIVATE COMMUNICATIONS. Hell, you know the advance is coming because you read her conversations between her and a friend about it. What happens when another one of her other teachers sees the messages she and her friend make about dating a professor? There's going to be a goddamn inquisition! Curious if any of that happens I checked using the autoskip stuff (which doesn't work very well since you need to read facebook posts manually). Turns out that while he offers her no warning that private communications aren't safe and she and her friends do gossip more specifically than would be comfortable it goes fine and is extremely creepy and gross even though the worst the main character did in the few acts I looked at was kissing her. All that happens bad in that case is you get blackmailed by her friend who's trying to get out of being disciplined for bullying. Speaking of the bullying subplot that's the justification for being allowed to pry into your students privacy, bullying. Yet the one time in the story bullying is going on a parent has to actively get involved before shit for brains main character actually does anything about it. Let me say that again, the whole reason he is allowed to read private messages is to stop bullying. He doesn't do it. The reason why would appear to be worrying that students would question where he got the information from but that doesn't explain why he couldn't just refer the situation to a principal or a psychiatrist. Do schools have psychiatrists? I know they have principals.
Okay, so there's also a dumb ass ghost story that's dumb and terribly handled. At one point a student appears to suicide off camera judging from the Facebook and Message activity. The main character believes it and then a mother dressed as a woman in a Kimono (since when do women in Kimono pass for ghosts? In Canada?) stalks you and says spooky things that I ignore entirely. She also sends spam which I also ignore entirely though the main character does not. Main character is kind of an idiot. Anyway turns out it was an elaborate trick for no reason? She was alive but transferred (which no one in the office knew why?) and everyone thought it'd be funny to pretend she killed herself on Facebook? The main character at this point figures that the Mom in the screenshot to the right figured him out with this clever ruse, concluded that the school would let him take the fall for official school policy and immediately tells her what he was doing. Idiot, even if she says "I got you on the Social Networking shit!" you don't know what precisely she has you on until she says it herself! I immediately quit the game and uninstalled it on the spot at that line because fuck the player character, he wasn't nearly as fucked as he thought. What, everyone who followed that girl on Facebook understood she wasn't really dead while people were saying rip? She couldn't have told everyone that followed that girl, much less made sure they didn't tell a teacher or look for adult support. If you have 5 classes a day (assuming 2 periods you don't have any classes) you have (in the real world) something like 100 to 150 students. If you talk to other faculty you increase the odds of hearing about an apparent suicide. Frankly the trap was inconclusive and I take huge issue with it in any case. If the author intended it to be fool proof than the author did not think very hard about it. If the main character thought he was done he was a fool. I hated how that played out and was annoyed by the stupid ghost shit. Ugh.
Anyway that's a really long blog about this crap game. I played it, I deleted it, and I needed to talk about it to get closure. Sidenote, I'd really like to remove it as similar to Katawa Shoujo as its structure and content isn't similar at all in any way other than being in the same genre and language. Ugh. I don't know what I'll do now, I guess I should play 999 since I trust Patrick's judgement.
Hey anyone who's interested, I made a vector ass vector game in Unity over the course of 2 months for a project for school. An independent study specifically so I was given a lot of freedom over what specifically the project would be so I decided on Unity, since I had heard it was the Indie Engine of choice in a Quick Look, I decided on Vector Graphics to compensate for me having no modeling skills and I decided on a game where you, a robot, shoot at bad robots. Abominations the game calls them. I've had a basic idea of gunplay where you and most of your enemies could only shoot in compass directions for a while now. I've always liked the idea because in it lining up your shots and avoiding enemy fire are 2 sides of the same coin. I find it interesting. I also wrote a bunch of programming humor into screens between each of the 16 levels I made. I think they're funny. I have no idea if they're actually funny.
Earlier today I 100%ed Katawa Shoujo, the first visual novel I've ever had a genuine interest in after seeing it on Day's Metadating show a week back. While it's a game with fantastic relatable characters, solid writing and a pretty great premise however truth be told these weren't the things that hooked me. The thing that hooked me was that Day and crew actually had genuine interest in not only playing the game for the show but also playing more of it beyond the 2 hours of the show. That's what got me to download it (it's free), that's what got me in the door. That's what got me over the fact that up until now I would never have imagined myself ever playing a Visual Novel or even being interested in one. I hope what I say here might inspire others to do the same.
This "game" ended up hitting me harder than any book, game, film or show I've seen in the last year. And I played Walking Dead. And I read the Steve Jobs Biography. Nothing made me more emotionally invested and, ultimately, more introspective this year. I related to characters more reading/playing this than I have done anywhere else all year. Even real life. Especially real life. Parts of this game make me wonder if I'm doing everything wrong. It makes me think about death, the future, insecurities, communication, everything really. I don't know. That's the end of that thought. I just don't know.
Katawa Shoujo jumped into my heart over the course of this week and jumped up into my top 10 for this year at #3 right behind Fez and Sound Shapes. I'm really glad I watched that episode of Metadating and I'm really glad I gave it a chance. I think you should too.
My Film of the year is Looper. It was a really well crafted movie about Time Travel that touched me in all the right ways. I was very very impressed with it on many levels and it has the air of a film that a man spent a lot of time perfecting. It's fun in all the right places, intriguing in all the right ways, profound in a few very important spots, and it has a humdinger of an ending which worked perfectly for me and, in many ways, tied the whole movie together thematically and practically. I have to give it props. (Runners up: Avengers, Dark Knight Rises)
My Film I've Never Seen Before 2012 which came out before 2012 of 2012 is Porco Rosso. Porco Rosso is the fucking best you guys. Oh my god, it's a relatively subdued and grounded Miyazaki film which tells the story of a Airplane Bounty Hunter in the Adriatic between WWI and WWII. This bounty hunter happens to be a pig, which more relates to his world view and how he feels about the war than it does any fantastical nonsense. The way it's treated and the way he bears his curse is amazing and it really makes the movie shine. I would compare it to Brave only Brave's use of Bear was much more contrived and awkward where in Porco Rosso it feels perfectly natural in an amazing way. You seriously need to watch it if you haven't already. (Runners up: N/A)
My TV Show Of The Year is Breaking Bad. Obviously. (Runner up: Game of Thrones)
My Non Media Acquisition Of The Year Is my new Lenovo Yoga. It's just the best in so many ways and I absolutely love it. (Runners up: C5 Earbuds, eInk Kindle, Vibram Five Fingers)
My Book That I Read For The First Time This Year is Steve Jobs. That was a damn good biography. (Runners up: The Essential Difference: Male and Female Brains And The Truth About Autism, Halo: The Fall of Reach, Seductive Interaction Design, Killing is Harmless: A Critical Reading Of Spec Ops The Line*)
*Note: Haven't read this book yet as I intend to have played Spec Ops the Line before reading it but I want to include it as it's really interesting to see long form video game criticism & analysis pop up in book form. Doesn't feel right to sweep it under the rug because I haven't read it yet because I want to read it the right way.
So recently I decided, for good measure, to make my next 5 (assuming I do that many, having done 2 so far though here's hoping) each using items of each album exclusively. That'll give me some good practice limiting my tool set and having to work with some objects I may just ignore otherwise. I've started (barely) building the first, the Hello, Robot song and have a pretty solid (I think) design laid out as well as come up with some ideas for the other 4. So what are they going to be? No one asked me, but I want to tell anyway! Hence blog. Here goes!
Hello, Robot's will be called Hello, Pantheon and will focus on nature and spirituality in a way. Plan there is to first show nature in sync with spirituality, but slowly changing such that nature becomes less and less welcome as the bowels of the pantheon are plumbed.
Corporeal doesn't have an idea I like yet. Get back to that later I think.
Beyonder's will be called Reach Beyond and may be shorter somewhat than the others. Idea here will be you start in sight of the finish however it's out of reach. The level will be more... atmospheric until you get a craft that can reach the finish. Then the rest of the level ramps up as you retrace your steps, using routes only accessible with the UFO, collecting notes which make things a little more upbeat.
D-Cade's will be something to do with Space Travel. I figure it'll start slowly, ramp up something fierce with a lot of just hopping from fast-invader to fast-invader, climbing very fast until things wind down and things are a little depressing. Ends probably with a little renewed vigor.
Got no ideas for Beck yet. Part of that is that the 3 songs and environs are pretty separate. I'm sure I'll think of something.
I'm not going to post this to forums, so no one will see it I expect unless I post a link to it when posting one of these levels (which I might do, I dunno) or they see it on the game page.
Edit: I started working on Corporeal, which I call "Confidentireal" or something to that effect. Idea is it'll be a super short level with a lot of hidden looking paths that ends abruptly but you can continue on from the ending screen by instead climbing into a vent and heading into the underbelly of the office. Issue is computers, can't really have giant computer piles, need to use other means to convey "bad business." Not sure how exactly.
On another note no one cares about my levels. Only 2 people played Hello Pantheon and it was posted on these boards. I was hoping for around the same numbers as before and a lot of the same names, the 2 people who did play it were new to me. Not Giant Bomb people I suspect. Perhaps I will finish Confidentireal regardless, but I'm not feeling like it. The only reason I would is because it seems like an awesome idea for a stage, and honestly I've abandoned so many awesome ideas in my life that's not enough of a reason to push to finish it.
Modern Day Edit: Note: Never did finish these. Have no intention to at this point. They were fun to make at the time though and every time I want to play to play Sound Shapes its because I want to look at my own creations. They have a special place in my heart.
I've been thinking about what the main issues of Mass Effect 3 are. Not just the ending, bu the greater mechanical and structural issues which keep ME3 from being anywhere as great as ME2. Besides nit picks about the roll mechanic, the lack of hubs other than the citadel and the pointlessly dull side quests I realized that a major issue with ME3 is that the Companions have no place in the story. Let me go back to ME2 to illustrate what I mean, ME2 is about Squad Members. Through the game you meet them, get to know them, fight with them, and eventually gain their loyalty in a mission where you see their inner demons and get to help them resolve their issues. ME3 lacks that entirely. Instead of loyalty missions and big personal issues which could jeopardize the mission you have petty interactions with each of your squad members that have no bearing on the end of the game. What's that EDI? You want to fuck Joker? Alright than. If you ask me the issue is that whether companions are loyal or not has nothing to do with the resolution of the story. They're not important. How would I address that you ask? I'd suggest forgoing the route of taking ME1's cast minus Wrex and instead make one rule: Everyone on your squad's loyalty effects the end game by way of them being Thought Leaders.
What would the squad look like with that rule? Let me tell you. A note, I'm going to refrain from inventing characters here and will use existing characters from the game who could've easily become squad members. Ready? Here goes.
Anderson. I know he wanted to be on Earth, but I don't care. Dude is the most sensible human squad mate. He was once on track to become a Spectre, he's a leader of his people, and he's not some random soldier that becomes a squad mate because of coincidences. Only issues would be why he'd take a secondary role aboard the Normandy and what possible loyalty mission could encourage more humans to fight the Reapers.
Primarch Victus. He's a capable and clever soldier with new ideas in a role he never imaged he would have to fill. Simple story, would be a good set up for a squad mate. Loyalty mission would be the one where you go down and find his son, would be more personal than existing mission. More about him than the son, and him dealing with accusations that he's no good for commanding roles, which he takes hard considering he's in a role he doesn't think he's suitable for.
Wrex. Simple, obvious, Wrex is the leader of the Krogans. He's a natural fit for a companion since he was already one.
Legion. Again, obvious.
Zaal'Koris vas Quib Quib. This one is a bit of a stretch, Tali might be equally suitable for the role of Quarian Admiral Companion (since she's now a companion) but she appears to hold no sway so I'd say Koris would be a better choice as the most credible dissenter to the war. What of Tali then? I'd say let her get injured in the war for the homeworld, have her dying of illness. We haven't seen any Quarians die of illness and Tali is the one we care most about!
Ka'hairal Balak the Batarian Terrorist from that Citadel Side Mission. The end of that mission was really neat and I feel it would've been really neat if he had been an optional Squad Mate similar to Legion or Grunt. It could give you options to "Turn him into the Citadel", "Just kill him" or "Convince him to serve on the Normandy." I think that his perspective and what he'd have to say about terrorism, the hegemony, and whatever else would be really interesting. Plus you could have a loyalty mission where someone he was once close to defects since he's cooperating with Shepard and you'd have to go sort it out.
That's not the longest list admittedly, and there are some large oversights. There's no one representing Salarian interests, there's no one representing Asari interests and only one human (I'd suggest inventing a Human who represents the colonies who trust Cerebus after ME2 or, alternatively, just have Ex Cerebus guys straight up). Additionally, depending on what choices you make you could lose squad members left and right. If you choose to side with the Dalatrass in curing the genophage you'd lose Wrex. If the Quarians or the Geth die Legion or Quib Quib would be right out. Victus would be pretty dependable but that's about it. However, I'd argue that could be a good thing. It'd mean that it'd be literally impossible to make everyone happy, and make the major choices of the game about the companions as well as their races. If you side with the Krogans you in effect choose Wrex over whatever Salarian option exists. If you turn Balak in maybe Samara (or some other Asari law enforcement officer) joins you since you're serious about upholding galactic law.
I'm not entirely sure if people would like it if it was like this, maybe they prefer the nostalgia of hanging out with familiar faces to having to meet, get to know, and do loyalty missions of new ones, but I think it'd be a step in the right direction.