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About SteevR

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  1. Quote:Original post by Moe
  2. SteevR

    Any Gundam fans?

    I was about 4 or 5 when I first saw a pirated VHS tape of Mobile Suit Gundam. I remember it clearly; it was my first exposure to japanese language and culture, as well as probably the most violent thing I had ever seen; I recall an explosion goes off, people get silhouetted against the bright, and the people's shadows disolve (in classic anime fashion). For a kid who was allowed to watch Smurfs but not G.I. Joe, it was a huge deal to see that sort of thing. I'm kinda an Anime snob. I haven't seen any of the Seeds, so I don't know if I think they're good or not. My favorits are 08th MS Team, followed by 0083: Stardust Memory. Ok, I'm lying. I love Gundam Wing; there are just a lot of reasons why I pretend I don't really like it (the bishonen character design and worldview for instance). 0080 is a pretty poor offering, save for the fact it was the first UC Gundam series to forget about "newtypes", and the fantastic scene before the first openning wherein a group of 4 Zeon amphibious suits attack a Federation base. G Gundam... well I can't think of any reason to like it. All the rest of the series (up until the SEEDs... I haven't seen those) are entirely unremarkable IMHO.
  3. SteevR

    NaNoWriMo - how did you go?

    I got as far as considering it, researching the information necessary to get the details in the ballpark (the concept was a somewhat hardcore variety of SF), and writing a 1500 word detailed outline. I even figured out what plot points needed to go where in each chapter, and I got all this shoved into my project management software. This was November 1st. I got no further due to a suddeh overload of actual money-making work. Oh well... next year!
  4. SteevR

    Is That A Dead Skeleton Sitting In The Corner?

    When I'm prototyping gameplay, I try to tie all the elements that I imagine in my game together somehow- they all have to interact with each other somehow. I find that if I'm unclear on how a portion of the design works mechanically, codifying this portion's effects on the other elements of the game dictates how it works. That said, I think its important to study which portions of the design need to be coupled to each other and how closely. If the character development is a game unto itself (Sims), and the combat or other detailed activities which give the player (more) direct control are to feel like (are) distinct game modes, then perhaps their effects on one another can be very vague or disconnected. If elements/modes are to be tightly coupled, it can often be hard to come up with iconic representations of the game system (i.e. it tends towards abstraction). I might add that I've noticed that games that map closely to real-world relationships have systems which interact with each other (I'm doing well in the economic sim, therefore I can afford the +18 1/2 Mace of Whoopass which helps me in combat), with items/resources specific to each that have no relation to each other. When such an item overlaps into different areas, it becomes harder to provide the player with a conrete representation of what the thing actually is (M.U.L.E.). One then has to appeal to your setting to provide an explanation for this incongruity with meatspace. You might have a look at Princess Maker (if you haven't already); it feels to me like an essay on this game system coupling issue in game form.
  5. Gord runs a videogame shop. Gord is to retail sales as the BOFH is to the IT field. Gord is Canadian, so it carries the surreal (to an American) not-american-but-close feel like BOFH. The Book of Gord! My favorite entry: The Book of Wrath Chapter 3 Don't Touch! Its Dangerous! Once upon a time Gord had a friend named Mike. And this friend named Mike had been given a Gameshark. Only this GameShark was not a normal Gameshark, it was evil and possessed dark spirits within! It had a curious gift. This particular GameShark would blow out the PlayStation motherboard micro-fuses rendering the expansion port inoperable. At the time, no thought was given to harnessing this power for evil. A few months later a customer had brought in a GameShark that did not work. Gord tested it, found it did not work and in fact blew our the micro-fuses like the Mike's GameShark did. This time, an evil idea was born! "I'll give you $5 for it." "Uhm... sure." Gord buys the GameShark. Then Gord left it on the counter begging to be stolen! Far from the computer where Gord completed his transactions, and conveniently hidden from his sight by a flyer folder. Would-be thieves would count their lucky stars at how tempting this target was. And finally a couple weeks later, it was stolen! Gord was a happy Gord. Not only would it not work, but it would blow out the expansion port of any machine it was plugged into. Over the next three weeks, Gord went from fixing no expansion ports for customers ever to more than ten during that time. Gord's retribution was at hand, and the GameShark was doing its job well. This exercise was very profitable for Gord. Note: For those of you who are unaware, a Gameshark is essentially a hex debugger/editor for the original Sony Playstation (and other platforms). Most people use codes from a little book that comes with it, or get codes from the internet; you can, however, use it's functional capabilities to pause the game, and look all across the machine's memory for specific values (lives or hit points remaining, etc.) and alter them. Of course, there is no OS running (the Gameshark is actually a hardware extension that can preempt real mode code execution); thus, you can even alter the game's microcode while it is resident in memory! Of course, if you don't know exactly what you're doing, the game crashes when you return to normal execution. Because of this, 99.9% of people think that these really are "magic codes", left in by the game developer or Sony itself, and then sold to the company that makes the Gameshark. For you NES old schoolers out there, Gameshark=Game Genie. Game Genie, Pro Action Replay, et al work on the same principle; some models/platforms don't include the debug functionality due to limitations of licensing and hardware. I believe there was even an ISA card for old PCs that would allow you to do the same thing (though you could just use the actual "debug" program included with DOS until Win9x for the same thing; if a game+device drivers used all/most of the bottom 640K, you were out of luck and needed the card, or OS/2 Warp).
  6. In such situations, I feel the most satisfaction as a player if my actions directly contributed to the NPC's success. Laying down covering fire, conducting a diversionary attack or other operation, having procured the explosives, or having planned the whole mission. I think the most vindication I have ever felt in a game is when I successfully planned an op in the PC version of Rainbow Six so perfectly my character never had to move or give a command. In terms of a balance between player involvement and the ability to support and send NPCs to do your dirty work, I believe Ghost Recon struck a good balance. Even when bullets were landing all around the character you hopped into, the map was a button press away, and commanding another 1-3man team to flank the enemy was 2-4 quick mouseclicks away (about 0.5-1.0 seconds). I will also add that it hurt (in Ghost Recon) when you sent a guy to run out from cover to a better position and he got mowed down/sniped/ran around a corner into 20 of the enemy. Either you gritted your teeth and fought on, or reloaded (I found myself playing through as much of the rest of the mission as I could, and then trying over for a perfect mission).
  7. Cutscenes aren't gameplay. They rip the player out of gameplay. Not to mention the combonatorial problem producing all those slightly different cutscenes based on character and hinted other factors. Offering a "single reason" for the character to fight may work, if you can tie that into gameplay- one revived family member per "Perfect" victory perhaps? You seem pretty set on a straight remake of UT, which is itself a remake of Quake 3, but you ask "...but why conform to the same old things?" The only thing you're doing that isn't "the same old thing" is throwing your story into the non-gameplay segments; these are expensive investments that usually don't pay off in terms of player satisfaction (compared to the cost of adding some gameplay in). For most of my reasoning on this topic in general, see this thread.
  8. So, all of that to justify a shooter? How can you make all of that directly tie into gameplay? If being on a certain side gives you a special ability or weapon, how does this tie into the story at large? Does this tie into level design? What is the player's call to adventure (yes, I know, killing things in a simulated 3D world, but really)? It seems that all of the gameplay takes place on a single embattled island- how does this affect level design and gameplay? Is the island a wide-open area, for the player to freely explore (and kill enemies) on? Or will it conform to a standard level-level-level grind? Perhaps inter-connected levels? I looked into creating something similar for the "Make Something Unreal" contest a couple of years ago. I scrapped it as too difficult to balance the special abilities (in a short period of time). The idea is feasable, technology-wise, but its one of those projects that will require a sizeable team of experienced individuals (hobbyists that have worked on one game or mod before), at least 10, 18-24 months to complete barring people leaving. Does story matter at all if it doesn't tie into the gameplay?
  9. SteevR

    What makes a likeable character?

    The original Ghost Recon for the PC is an outdoor FPS. What sets it apart in terms of gameplay is the ability to jump between the 7 soldiers in your squad (the sequel and I believe the XBox version of the original removed this ability). Whilst controlling any one of them, you may give orders to the rest. This leads to the player having a "distributed" identity, or at least a more tenuous connection to each soldier. Like an RPG, at the end of every mission you get points to distribute amongst the surviving soldiers to upgrade their stats- so the player is invested in not losing his avatars. Morover, some soldiers can only be used on a mission if you completed a secondary objective in some previous mission; these soldiers have access to weapons that you cannot choose for any other soldier. Thus, yet more player investment in their well being. This is not to say that Ghost Recon had a well told story, or well defined characters- certainly the storyline and situations were masterfully constructed, meeting Tom Clancy's exacting standards. The story reaches the player only through the mission briefings, and of course the occasional "complication" during gameplay ("No one said anything about armor!"). The characters, aside from short bios displayed next to their stats on the "choose team members" screen, are completely undeveloped and mute (it is somewhat arguable that this might be the real world situation with an elite team of US Army Scouts). This game is the only one I can think of that blends first-person perspective with some measure of ensemble cast and/or 3rd person (map view when giving orders) view, that could allow effective storytelling. As far as character that players like... who doesn't love an elite team of kickass soldiers "getting it done"? To generalize your last question... ever since I read Chris Crawford on Game Design, I have trying to think of techniques to make games in the canonical genres "about people, not things". These ruminations are where I got my opinion that narrative without connection to gameplay is meaningless- for the game to make sense in the context of the story or vice versa they must be entertwined at the mechanical level (nitty gritty of storytelling and interactive environments) and at the emotional level (emotional language of the player). To answer your last question, yes. I don't think anyone has a rigorous enough theory to do it repeatably; we need an accident that shows us the way. For that accident to happen, more people need to be experimenting with things, turning sideways and pulling them inside out, until they explode. [Edited by - SteevR on November 5, 2005 12:41:02 PM]
  10. SteevR

    Google Print

    Points both taken. I do believe that Google's digital copies of rare documents should be dispersed (at their expense) to as many different access points as is practicable. As to an attack on Google's infrastructure in the digital realm... I think anyone who tries will have a bunch of angry digerati after them, whether they succeed or not (not to mention proper law enforcement). I also believe that if they use some of all the "dark fibre" they have been buying, than can create an infrastructure (if they haven't already) with a backbone insulated from attack between nodes in many seperate parts of the net. This would make them more difficult to knock off the net than say MSN (they relied until quite recently on a single gateway to a single datacenter).
  11. SteevR

    3d buzz opengl video tutorials??

    A friend of mine bought them, and they were the best standalone tutorials I have ever seen- but in value for the money, a copy of the redbook and some shader tutorials has more information. I suppose since I haven't been a beginner for almost ten years, I forget how valuable such a resource is. Worth $150 more than the Nehe tutorials? I don't know.
  12. SteevR

    What makes a likeable character?

    I would say that one reason Doom3 failed as a game/story was the absolute lack of interaction between either component of the product. Either you are playing a shooter/survival horror title, or you are watching a (short) movie. The disconnect makes you care less and less about each component of the title every time there is a switch. At the very least, they could have done multiple-results at different points, play the game a different way, get a different cinematic. I got the feeling that they were uncomfortable telling the story through in-game means (character conversation, audio logs, what you hear through the com radio, etc.), so they tacked the cinematic sequences on. Whether they were uncomfortable because "every game has cinematics" or they were afraid that their story would suck without them, I don't know.
  13. SteevR

    Google Print

    I would put forward that what Google is doing is no different than a public library- it is an institution that allows me to search through books seeking knowledge. Authors and publishers cannot prevent my library from making their works available to anyone who walks in the door. They have tried; some are trying again, specifically some scientific journals that want to charge every person who looks at their work, even if a hardcopy is owned by a library. To answer kSquared's question, "Why is Google treating the very people responsible for creating the works in the irst place like speed bumps on the road to profitability?", Google is treating them that way because that is precisely what the publishers and authors are trying to be. Actually, that isn't quite fair, the deadtree industry are trying to build a great wall, not a speed bump. It would be particularly silly of me to simply state "I fail to see what makes Google Print different than any public library." It is different. It puts anyone with an internet connection on the doorsteps of a library. That is very, very valuable. As democracy (and capitalism for that matter) is dependent on widespread availability to communication and information, anything which fosters these activities is a boon to all nations and peoples. As such, I will restate my belief that online libraries, and Google Print specifically, are Great Works. As for a great cataclysm destroying all of the distributed data centers, I stated in the previous post that I don't believe that Google should be the only great library. I also don't believe we should throw away all of our dead tree books- librarians know how to maintain books for centuries in the proper conditions, books aren't suseptable to EMP, etc. What use are excerpted chunks? Some use certainly, but if the quote or information is available without context or without any surrounding corollaries, contrary examples, ancillary evidence, etc., the information is worse than useless for research purposes. More importantly, useless in a discussion such as this. Frankly, I would be horrified as an author to see quotes from my works taken out of context. kSquared: "It's also worth noting that for all its glory and heyday, the Library of Alexandria no longer exists. Originally a collection of independent, distributed libraries, the resulting meta-libraries were destroyed by fire or barbarians..." In the case of the barbarians, I feel that the best way to fight their modern equivilents is ensuring free flow of information. Barbarians don't survive outside of tyranny, and libraries fight tyranny by encouraging democracy.
  14. SteevR

    Google Print

    It is here. This is exactly the thing that I have been waiting for since I hit the web back in '92. Human knowledge, searchable. All the books in all the libraries can be culled for knowledge from this quaint little electronic device. I began hoarding media, whether it be text or picture, music or video, since I got my own network node. I was always fearing it would disapear. I always wanted it to be there, where I could get at it, regardless of the vagarities of internet backbone availability (an issue back then, and if the TLDs/root DNS or Tier Ones go wacky shack on us...), where I could search through it, looking for that tidbit that I needed to finish my program/manifesto/schoolwork (always in that order). Google seems to promise that I may not have to keep all of my old books around to have access to the contents of their pages. Google seems to be one of the few entities fighting to uphold all of the old cyberspace dreams... nay, the dreams of Ptolemy the First when he founded the Library of Alexandria. The ability to search through and view search results from pretty much every book ever published has the book publishers up in arms. I'm not even going to link to any of the crap flying around. Google seems to be using the stored scans responsibly- you can see the page where the search match appears, and a couple pages either direction (for context). I believe this is an appropriate compromise between fair use and the publisher's ability to sell books (carefully searching for terms within a book that should appear a page or two after the last page you can read is possible, but cumbersome; try searching for "Ender" whilst already on a page within the book Ender's Game). There is still need for books; I call into question the need to pay hundreds of dollars for them. I call into question the need for paper copies of books outside of libraries and those specialty shops. I call into question the publisher's place in distributing a book nowadays (why not an author and editor collaborating and selling/distributing themselves?). I call into question the motives of anyone who bitches about the great public works Google is attempting here. Naturally, I realize the danger of only one such index existing. Competitors should move into the space to insure adequate insurance against tyranny-though-control-of-search-results-and-index-contents. I have one question: Where is Google Music and Movies? Ok, two: Where is Google Games? I could think of a million reasons a ludologist would have to search through character dialogue, and/or anything else Google could think up a way to index. I suppose I am a little ahead of my time thinking about the problem of search indexing game content, though. I (we) should devote more thought to this.
  15. SteevR

    3d buzz opengl video tutorials??

    They're ok, and if I recall, you can get access to a lot of that stuff just by sending them a stack of CDRs. Thats probably changed since they went all corporate-greedy-bastard, though. Worth a looksee, and from what I saw when I reactivated my user account there it is still the case.
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