Taking a break from games leads to this

So I decided to take a break from gaming, and actually do something productive with my time. I've been slacking off for quite a while now, and I don't want to lose my "skills". So I booted up various programs in the CS package.
The first thing that came out, was this video:
 
  

Direct Link. The action starts at about 1:25. (It's blocked in Germany though because of the music)

Now, it's pretty basic, but I've never really spent any time in Premiere Pro, so I thought it would be good to try some things out. I'm pretty happy with the result, although it was kinda creepy watching Will do those faces.
 
And I just finished this in Photoshop:
 

I love Futurama, and I like the idea of mixing the future with the past. I also really like vintage commercials, and this was heavily inspired by flyers and magazine ads from the '30s. I'm very satisfied with how it turned out, and also glad that even after a 6 month break I still know how to Photoshop.
 
This also inspired me to start an epic project. I basically want to gather all the Futurama characters and put them into a wallpaper. It's a ton of work though, and I'm guessing it will take several weeks, if not months, to get it just right. We'll see how it goes. I did start to search for reference images. The amount of Futurama porn you get when you search for a character is astounding though. Even Zoidberg (blech) is getting busy.
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7 days of gaming, TV viewing and future purchase decisions

Man, I've had a busy week. Well, a busy gaming week. Ah, the joys of unemployment. 

Deathspank: Thongs of Virtue

Ah Deathspank. You're so funny. Not in a laugh out loud way, more of a slight chuckle... way. It's another Deathspank and it's very much like the first one. I enjoyed it though. It's still pretty ridiculous and I'm still a loot whore. Getting that new upgrade is always satisfying.

Fifa 11

Been playing a lot of Fifa 11 for the PC over the weekend. Be A Pro mode is very fun and challenging, but it does seem a bit too easy to max out your attributes. I'm halfway through my second season, and have maxed more than half of them. Also, you only get to play in your league. No FA Cup, Champions League or anything like that. That kinda sucks. 
 
The commentary is still borked. Martin Tyler and Andy Gray repeat themselves a lot, and make pretty stupid comments. Example: opponent gets off a weak shot, the ball rolls on the ground and the keeper picks it up. Tyler: "HOW DID HE MANAGE TO GET THAT????". Uh, he bent over and gently extended his arms. And some of the commentary is extremely circumstantial. If your guy is number 9 and scores in the 9th minute, Tyler will actually comment on that. Kind of cool I guess. 
 
Oh, and I decided that I wanted to be a goalkeeper for a few seasons. Created a player, and when I had to choose positions, I could choose anything... except goalkeeper. Fuck. As usual the PC version lacks features. It actually lacks plenty more compared to the console versions. My recommendation if you're considering getting this: buy it for your console. 
 

Minecrafting!

I bought Minecraft a few months ago but didn't really go online until this weekend. Turns out I couldn't. My connection would crash to the point where I had to restart my PC to get it working again. If you have an Atheros onboard card, it might fuck up. There are workarounds, and eventually it started working but the lag was atrocious on a US server. 
 
So, might as well start up a local server and connect to that. The advantage of that is that you can spawn blocks and items for yourself if you know the ID of the item. Very nice feature, and you can really mess around with that. So, what to do with all that power? Easy, blow up a mountain! 
 
Behold! 

 Yes, it's a mountain covered in TNT
Unfortunately it didn't go boom. I don't think the engine could handle all of that so the blocks just sort of disappeared. It did however make a substantial crater: 

I might have underestimated just how powerful the explosion would be. It did make a nice waterfall though 
 
Also, snow world. Yay! 
 

Dead Rising 2

Case Zero made me buy the first Dead Rising. I kind of enjoyed it I guess, but the Survivor AI and controls were a bit janky. Bought the PC version of the sequel and the AI has vastly improved. They can actually survive this time around, so no need to constantly babysit them. The controls were a bit weird though. I used my wireless 360 controller and at first, the game refused to even detect it. I managed to get around that by downloading a control wrapper though. Anyway, shooting controls are messed up. I aim with the right stick, but have to shoot with the X button. That's fucking impossible. 
 
I don't know what to think about it though. It's basically Dead Rising with better graphics and less jank. You're still in a mall, and the opening sequence is pretty much identical to the first game. I think I expected some more open outdoor areas like in Case Zero. No psychopaths in jeeps this time around though. Thank fucking christ for that. 
 

Halo: Reach

 Alright, so I finally bought it. Meh, it's another Halo. There was nothing in it I didn't really expect. It does have some epic cutscenes though.

A good week in TV

Supernatural is back. Fuck yeah! Still one of my all time favorite shows. The new season has started out a bit slow, but the second episode did have monsters. I miss Cas though and I hope he'll be back soon. 
 
I watched the season premiere of The Next Iron Chef. Nope, still no interest in cooking shows. 
 
And I finally got around to watching Predators. The human characters were good, but the predators were just... clumsy. How the hell they managed to kill any xeno's is beyond me. They're slow moving and their hand to hand combat is ridiculous. It does get a plus for starring a guy with an awesome name:  Mahershalalhashbaz Ali. o_O 
 

My next PC

So I finally started getting some money again which means I can slowly consider getting a new PC. I basically have to spend about 2500 bucks to get the machine I want. Core i7, 8gigs of RAM and an SSD just to name a few of the parts. This month I'm getting a new monitor though. Look at what I have now: 
 

 17 inches of crap
It's old and not widescreen so it definitely needs to go. This is what I have chosen: 

 24 inches of shiny goodness. I just want to lick it.
Okay, this became way too long a post, so I'm just going to stop here.
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Into The Great Unknown, Episode 1


 Episode 1

What?

This is something I've been thinking about making for a long time now. Basically, I play a ton of indie and low budget games on the PC, that a lot of people have probably never heard about, so instead of spamming the forums for each game, I have decided to make my impressions of each of them into a weekly feature. Don't expect to find games like Braid or Limbo here, this is purely for the hidden gems out there. Alright, let's get to it!
 

Blackwell Franchise

Game(s): Blackwell Legacy, Blackwell Unbound, The Blackwell Convergence
Developer: Wadjet Eye Games
Genre: Adventure
Price: You can find all 3 for about 20-30 bucks
Length: Medium. 2-4 hours on each game, depending on how well your brain works.
Review: You play Rosangela Blackwell, a medium who puts unruly ghosts to rest. With your spirit guide Joey Mallone, you solve cases of unnatural suicides and mysterious deaths in New York City.
Adventure gamers will feel right at home in these games. They have the feel and control of classic point-and-click adventure games.  Not only do you get to control Rosangela (Or Lauren in the second game), you also get to take control of the very much dead, but surprisingly active spirit of Joey Mallone. Joey can walk through walls, physically interact with spirits, and even scare the local wildlife (a Boston Terrier) if needed. The puzzles feel nice and varied, and the inclusion of Joey means that you occasionally have to think outside of the box, since he can't really pick stuff up or interact directly with the environment. These games are highly enjoyable, and I can easily recommend them.
 

Delaware St. John

Game(s): Delaware St. John Volume 1-3
Developer: Bigtime Games
Genre: Adventure
Price: $6.99 each on Big Fish Games
Length: Medium. Probably 3-5 hours.
Review: As a paranormal detective who hears the voices of the dead and has visions of past events, Delaware St. John and his partner Kelly, are tasked with solving various paranormal mysteries occurring in different parts of the world.
The games have a generally creepy atmosphere, and you constantly feel like something is watching you in the dark. Because something is watching you, since you occasionally have to run from an initially unknown monster that's out to kill you. Fail to get to a safe spot, and you die. This adds quite a lot of suspense, since you can be attacked at any moment in the game.
You play the game from a first person perspective, which really adds to the already creepy atmosphere. Floorboards creaking and whispers in the distance really enhance the experience. I do remember a few puzzles being a bit frustrating, but generally the game provides a good challenge.
 

Ben Jordan

Game(s): Ben Jordan, Paranormal Investigator Volume 1-8 (eight!)
Developer: Grundislav Games
Genre: Adventure
Price: Free
Length: Short to medium. No more than 1-2 hours per game
Review: These games have everything: zombies, ghosts, skunk-apes and more! As a freelance paranormal investigator, your mission is to uncover mysteries around the world. Okay, this sounds a lot like Delaware St. John, but there are plenty of differences. The monsters and legends you try to uncover, are based on "real" mysteries like the Skunk-ape in Florida, or The Lost Ship of The Mojave in The Salton Sea. The stories are pretty interesting, and there is of course an overarching plot to uncover in these games. If I remember correctly, all of the games are fully voiced, and the voice over is acceptable. Animations are a bit janky and funky looking in the first few games, but definitely improve in the later ones. Overall, we have 8 games with interesting stories and challenging puzzles, and at the current price, they are more than worth it. A 9th game should be released "soon", but the developer has been saying that for a long time now.
 

Digital: A Love Story

Developer: Christine Love

Genre: Interactive Fiction
Price: Free
Length: Short. I doubt you can spend more than 2 hours on it
Review: Those of you who had an Amiga many years ago, will probably find the interface somewhat familiar. Taking place in the late 80's, you are a young teen, who has just got his first computer. And it has a modem. You quickly dial the local BBS, and after a short while you'll quickly become familiar with hacking and phone phreaking. Of course, it won't be long until you meet someone and fall head over heels in love with her. When she suddenly disappears and leaves a disturbing message for you, you are willing to to anything to find her.
This game is short, and there are no real graphics to speak of. Oh, and no mouse control. Everything is controlled via the keyboard. I really like the story in this game. Trying to find your love, you have to hack into various BBS'es and even deal with an AI or two. The downside is that you can easily miss something, and be hopelessly stuck. The game is very particular about doing things in the right order. Even so, I highly recommend you spend a few hours on it.
 

Aquaria

Developer: Bit Blot

Genre: Action Adventure
Price: $20
Length: Medium to long. You can spend a day on it if you're going for 100% completion
Review: Okay, so technically this isn't exactly a hidden gem, but any time I get to mention my favorite indie game of all time, I do it. Aquaria is amazing to say the least. As Naija, a mer-girl, your objective is to discover the secret of Aquaria and the truth about yourself and your family. Throughout your adventure you learn different forms that are necessary to complete puzzles and fight enemies. There are a ton of secrets to discover if you really take the time and look for them, and you really should since the only way of getting to the "real" ending is by finding everything.
Aquaria is achingly beautiful. Everything is hand drawn, and with the inclusion of the amazing soundtrack, the game offers a very soothing atmosphere. Even Naija herself is voiced perfectly. Okay, so I may be biased, but you should seriously play this.
 
 
Alright, that's all for this week. I realize that this list is a bit (or a lot) biased towards adventure games, but I do love them, always have. Anyway, I'll see if I can't track down some good action games for the next episode. See ya next week, and remember: No one is more authentic than Kid Rock.
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Sub Culture was a great game



 
Back in ’98 when I was a wee boy of 15 years, I bought my usual local gaming mag. In it, there was usually a CD-ROM with a ton of demos, and occasionally a free game. This time, the free game was called Sub Culture.

Released in 1997 by Criterion Games (you can probably guess how successful it was when you could get it for free 1 year later), Sub Culture was a 3rd person Action/Adventure game. You take the role of a tiny humanoid submarine pilot, the only survivor of a discarded can of soup destroying your home city, and your objective is basically to survive and prosper. To do this, you could take on mining or salvage missions, trying to recover bottle caps, cigarette butts, pearls and various other commodities that could be sold in the cities. This was where one of the game’s best mechanics came into play. Since just about any valuable item was almost as big as your sub, you couldn’t exactly put them into your hold, so you were equipped with either a magnet or a grappling hook, depending on what you were salvaging. As soon as the magnet hooked on something, it would weigh down your sub depending on its weight, which made controlling much more difficult. This wouldn’t necessarily be a problem except that between you and the nearest city, there were almost always a bunch of enemies which would range from giant fish to pirates that want you dead.

Now, fighting without dragging anything behind you could be a bit challenging but when you were carrying a bottle cap that was as heavier than your sub, things could get… interesting. This game had physics, so anything you carried would have an effect on your sub. You would always move slower, and if you stopped, you would slowly sink. Stop too fast and the item would shoot forward, dragging you with it. This could make combat tricky, since you would constantly have to battle not just enemies, but also a heavy haul. You could of course just drop it and come back for it later, but occasionally you would be above a deep trench, and having to go all the way down for it again was not really an option (in the deepest trench, reaching the bottom could take a couple of minutes).

Once you got tired of hauling things, you could take on missions for either of the two warring nations, the Bohines and Procheas. The missions consisted of fighting off pirates, navigating minefields, dropping depth charges and destroying a giant walker. Eventually they decide that peace is the only option if they want to get rid of the pirates, and they send you in to destroy the pirate city and go out in a final blaze of glory.

Honestly, the story isn’t what made this game great. It was the atmosphere and gameplay. There was a simple market economy, so hauling that bottle cap over to a distant city could net you a bigger profit, than if you just sold it at the nearest port. You could equip your sub with everything from depth charges to lightning guns, shields, strobe lights and an escape pod.

The lights weren’t just for show either. You know how in most games, night means ‘slighter darker than day’, right? Now, it was pretty much the same here except for when you went exploring in one of the trenches or caves. It wouldn’t get dark, it would get black. You couldn’t see anything without lights, which made for some scary moments when a hideous angler fish-like monster would attack you. The graphics were, for the time, really good. You would see sea turtles swimming around, minding their own business, colorful fish and other subs going about their daily routine. Very cool game and I highly recommend it.

If you find it and try to run it in Vista or Win7, you’ll probably run into some problems, but you should be able to find a fix here

Oh, and as a side note, I remember playing this on my Orchid Righteous 3D Voodoo 1 card (the first 3dfx card ever, if my history is correct). It was a pass-through card with no 2d support, so you needed a 2d card, and had to bridge the two cards with a cable. Anyway, it had a mechanical relay on it that would actually make the card produce a fairly loud ‘click’ when it was accessed. That was an extremely scary sound the first couple of weeks I had the card, since no one really expects their computer to sound like that :)
 

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