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The Project: It is still alive!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Yes, I am indeed lacking in my blogging because of the project and other job-related reasons, and for this, I do apologize. I will try to work in at least three blogs a week, as I should have some more time, now that nobody is on vacation again.

As for the project, the map is designed, and this works great as a tool to help with progression. I now know when and where I shall send you on this journey, and what direction you're going to get there. After completing the in-depth progression, implementing the other characters will be a million times easier, story-wise. From there I just pick something else to work on, I guess! Is seeing the design process as straightforward as you thought it might be? I thought it would be plenty more linear, do this, then that, then this, then that. But not really. I designed the characters and concept I wanted, with a basic overview of the story and progression. From there I fleshed out some characters, then started working on enemies, then in depth plot, then a map, and more plot... It's all everywhere. I need to re-tweak my list of enemies tonight, and start adding in their damage soon, and then I need to type up everything that was written down in my notebook.

I have been asked on multiple occasions why I write everything down in my notebook instead of typing it as I think about it, and why I use a pen instead of a pencil when writing story material. The short explanation: It's what I'm comfortable with. The long explanation? Well, I prefer writing things down in pen because it makes me think about what I write before I write. Usually. The reason I write instead of type is because writing, as a more natural form of putting thought into words, seems to flow better. Ideas come out easier than if I were typing them. So using a pen kind of balances me from putting something utterly stupid down, while still letting the creativity flow. That's really the best answer I can give, I hope it doesn't confuse anyone!

The Project: We have an artist!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The title says it all, guys. Well not quite all. There's more happenings afoot. We're still looking for a couple more artists for creating digital art. Anyhow, I'm excited to see the concept art for the machinist and his machines, as he is born. I'm literally shaking with excitement, I mean, this is a huge step, and for me, it's like the point of no return. The art is being created. It's exciting. It has been settled, both the gun and the wrench will be available for the machinist. Similar options will be available for other characters as well, of course. The characters that don't make it into the game, depending on the number, will become available as DLC, possibly free. This all depends on who we can implement into the game. If just the core three and maybe one other make it it, there is an expansion possibility, though the game will have to do well enough to warrant doing so. I'm confident that it will.

Just this small bit for now. Mexican food is calling, and it is one of my many weaknesses.

The Project: A Quick Mentioning.

Friday, July 22, 2011

I wanted to mention a couple things, and pose a few questions, about the game that is underway.

I have (almost!) finished getting into digital means all of the core character skills. I have a few more on the machinist to type up. We have decided that we will implement these core characters first, and expand to including the other ones as we have time to do so. This means while you're guaranteed to be able to play 3 different classes (with some super-slick customization options!), there may be up to 8 characters to choose from, all with their own flavor of ass-kickery.

Now, for some questions. I'm thinking for the machinist that he could have a couple options for weapons: Gun or Wrench. Guns do more damage, but wrenches give a bonus to your creations. What do you all think?

Also, If we can't include the characters in the release, should we offer the rest as DLC, or create an expansion that gives the extra characters and makes the world a good bit bigger, with more lives to save and problems to solve?

That's all for now! Leave me some answers, and even more questions, and I will reply to them in my next post about the project.

Nerdery: Potter is Over...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

People keep saying that it's all over, or it's ended... but you can just watch the movies or read the books again. Thinking like that, it would have technically been over from the last book's release.

However, I don't think it's actually over in any sense. We have Rowling doing this whole Pottermore bit, and I think we will eventually get a really great Quidditch video game (if there already is one, I'm sorry, but I haven't heard of it). Then we have all the fanfic (some of it is good, at any rate). And I'm sure some professional writers will take up to write other books in the Potter universe, like many writers did with the Dragonlance books. I would like to hear what happened with everyone after the last book, besides the marriages and children, etc, personally.

Nerdery: Censorship and Us.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I have been told that because I live in the United States, I don't need to worry about censorship. It's not a problem here. However, that just simply isn't true. The United States Government can and will do whatever they want. I mean, the USDA probably doesn't have too many ulterior motives, but I'm pretty sure that some of the much-higher-paying sectors of our government have their own schemes going on.

Here's some things the Government would like us to just roll over and allow:

The Internet Blacklist Bill - This would allow the government to take any website down; not just in the USA, but off of the internet completely. It is made to fight piracy, but is so broad sweeping in it's statement that it will allow them to remove any website them deem unsavory.

The PATRIOT Act - This was needed once, and is still needed... in a much more revised manner. Currently, the way it is written and with the lack of proper surveillance on those who are using it, it is being abused. The FBI was caught spying on five children who hadn't done a damn thing wrong and they didn't match the voice profile of the person they said they were spying on. They weren't even speaking the same goddamned language!

The founder of a group that attempts to bring progress through peaceful means was arrested for allegedly downloading too many journal articles. I don't know enough about this particular happening to speak about it at any length, however you can read about it at Demand Progress.

Honestly, if I see the Internet Blacklist Bill go through, the PATRIOT Act go without reform, or Aaron Swartz charged with "felony computer hacking" when even the alleged victim said there were no damages and didn't want the guy prosecuted, I'm leaving the United States.

The Project: Talking About The Game

Sunday, July 17, 2011

I have been asked and asked and asked to provide more details on the game I'm working on. I can't say too much just yet of course, but here's what I can tell you:

The influence behind the game comes from many different sources. The want to make the game comes from this old game designing program that we had on my moms old Tandy 1000 HX computer. I wasn't able to do much with it, but found right then that I really wanted to make games. The specific design for games comes from my love of Tolkien-esque worlds. The fantasy worlds have always been a draw to me, especially ones that offer a sort of steampunk theme as well. The genre was first introduced to me with the Diablo and Baldur's Gate games, then later on, from games such as Titan Quest and Torchlight.

It's going to be an Isometric view Action RPG. The turn-based style of play is something that I don't think I want to see anywhere outside of the Final Fantasy realm. The skill learning system will be neither trainer-based nor talent-tree based, and instead will be one that grants you abilities as you use abilities in the same "family." When the project makes enough headway, I'll be able to release to you guys the working title and maybe the number of classes, depending on how far along we are. I am meeting a possible artist tomorrow, and if everything goes well, I will be able to start with art production!

Nerdery: Deciding Between Operating Systems

Everyone I know who has checked out a new computer recently has, for the most part, asked me what is the best operating system to go with. While the answers aren't all clear cut, I'll give you my breakdown of each.

Let's start with Apple, and their line of the Macintosh computers. If you're looking for a gaming computer, you pretty much want to look anywhere else. Most games are not designed to run on this operating system, though it is possible to run them through a virtual windows box. I really have to impress upon you, however, that this is a most terrible way to do it. If you want something that looks flashy and tells everyone else that you're well off, go with the Apple. It has all your basic functionality, and does video, picture, and movie editing quite well. They're very simple to use, and for that, I have to recommend them for the older batch of people that want to use a computer. Looks clean, runs well with few viruses, and hard to cause any major problems on accident. Not compatible with most programs and sometimes hard to find cables/adapters/dongles etc.

We can tackle Microsoft next, on the Windows operating system. It's less expensive than a Mac, compatible with most programs, and good for gaming. It has it's drawbacks, however, in that if you don't know what you're doing, you can very easily mess something up. It is also not as user-friendly as a Mac, and has more viruses available to harm it. However, if you run a virus scanner (not McAfee or Norton!) you will be fine. I suggest AVG and Ad-Aware. They are both great with the option to have automatic updates, and with free versions of both. Suggested for kids who are learning about, or learning through using, computers. Also suggested for anyone who doesn't need something to be over-simplified.

Linux is last, with too many distributions of the Linux operating system to list them all. You can find that list over at Wikipedia if you really want to read it. Linux, for the most part, is exactly the opposite of user-friendly. If you want a computer that is a toy, and a hobby, and a pet, you may as well install Linux on at least one of your hard drives. If you're considering Linux, I hope you are computer savvy enough to not need an article like this, but just in case, if you're questioning whether or not you should try it, dual-boot. If you can't figure out how to dual-boot, Linux is not for you. If you can figure it out, it still may not be; give it a go anyway. Either way, Linux is free and open source.

The only real way to decide, however, is find out if the software you need works on the machine, look at pricing to find if it's in your range, and then use one of each and see how you like it.

Gaming: Portal 2 Co-Op

Friday, July 15, 2011

Multiplayer is something that most games, in my opinion, need. The second installment of Portal has made me love Valve that much more. I finished playing Portal 2's Co-op mode with my girlfriend last night, and the ending to that is just as great as the ending to the core game. With all of the gestures to use, the pinging tool, and the imaginative test chambers, I have to say I think I've had more fun in Co-op in this game than I've had with any other.

I do, however, have a few gripes. The Robot Enrichment Center, from what I hear, is only going to be PC-to-PC available. So while I can play with my girlfriend through my computer and her PS3, neither of us can use the Robot Enrichment Enhancements. On top of this, even though I'm fairly certain that valve makes enough money not to need this, they have made almost all of the stuff from the Robot Enrichment stuff you have to pay for. To me, microtransactions can ruin a game. If, for example, those items were available by unlocking certain achievements instead, then I wouldn't see a problem with it. However, from what I gather, this is not the case.

Valve: Make the Robot Enrichment work cross platform, and stop with the microtransactions. Gabe Newell has much more genius available to work with, and pulling a stunt like that only makes people dislike you.

Nerdery: Blogger Stats 3!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Well I've waited long enough to do this again, so here we are. I am surprised that there are still people using Internet Explorer to browse the web. A couple browsers just say "Mobile" but not which mobile browser.

Windows is still the preferred OS, at 434, taking up a whopping 84% of the OS Pie. Android is next (beating out iPhone by 49, take that apple.) then Linux at 14, with Mac at 12, then iPhone at 2.

The Browser shows a similar trend, with Firefox and Chrome topping the charts, followed by an apple product, then Mobile Safari, then Safari, then IE (I mean seriously, guys. Why are you using this?) Ubuntu (I found out that some newer version of Ubuntu operates as a browser, similar to ChromeOS, and thats why it shows up as Ubuntu.) then the mysterious "mobile" and one lonely Opera user.

US has gained the lead for readers at 307 views from the US. Argentina still has a good chunk of the views, though, with 171. Germany is way down at thirteen. What are you doing, Germany? If you're from Germany, I want you guys to beat out Argentina in pageviews by next update (two weeks from now, maybe?). Whoever is top pageviews as a country will get me wearing or waving their flag at the end of the month. Can you beat USA?

Gaming: Upcoming Games and Other Things

There are a few games that are coming out that I am super excited to play, but have to wait. The first, but likely the furthest away, is Grim Dawn from Crate Entertainment. It is the spiritual successor to the amazing Titan Quest that was tons of fun to play, and if you don't like it, you should be ashamed.

The next is, of course, Diablo 3. With the other two in the series repeatedly beaten, it is really past time for the third to come out. Stop horsing around, Blizzard. We know you're done. You've generated enough hype.

The third is Torchlight 2. I spent too many hours playing the first one, and I know the second will be just as fun. I just hope none of these games come out at the same time, otherwise I will have to quit my job, stop sleeping, and halt development on my own game to play them.

I'm not really interested in too much else at the moment. Child of Eden was a blast, and is replayable out the wazoo. Haven't had the chance, yet, to get Alice: Madness Returns.

Update on the game I have under development: I have decided on a working title. It will be called Spellplague for the time being. I have decided upon shunning both the talent tree system and the trainer system, instead, as you use more abilities in a certain family of abilities, you'll progress that family of abilities. This gives you the chance to really master your class. I am thinking of also letting characters who have beat the game start again with everything they mastered, and letting them master the other skill families as well.

If you can find a cope of it anywhere, you'll want to pick up Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magicks Obscura. It is a great game, but an older one. It's got it's bugs and troika went out of business, but it's a pretty great game, albeit polarizing. You will grow to either love it or hate it.

This concludes tonight's updates, and with any luck, the fellows and/or ladies over at Crate Entertainment will respond to my email, and I may have a surprise for you dudes and dudettes.

Gaming: Doing Research for Designing Video Games

Monday, July 11, 2011

Something most of my followers do not know is that I am currently creating a video game. That is why I have been silent for a week, is I was in hardcore getting-stuff-done mode, and that made me neglect my blog. Well, no fear, I am back, and will be less sporadic. On to this evenings subject. I have been trying to figure out how I am going to do the skill learning mechanism, and the battle mechanics. My question for skill learning is should I have trainers that teach you at the correct level, like World of Warcraft? Maybe a talent tree system a la Diablo II and Torchlight? Should I invent a new way of doing it, or use one that's rarely used? I think the most satisfying for me is a use-it-to-learn-it system. The more they use "Fireball" the more potent it becomes, for example. I don't want to re-do something that's been done too much, but at the same time, I want it to be accessible and feel natural enough. I have also designed the spells for two classes over this time, the Wizard and Necromage. I can't go into too much detail, but I cannot wait for others to experience this. So to research different types of battle systems, I decided to play a few different types, so I pulled out Torchlight, Diablo II, Titan Quest (pc versions), and Secret of Mana. I'm gonna have to dig for my copy of Baldurs Gate and see if I can find a PC action-RPG that doesn't use a controller or the "left and right click to attack" battle mechanics.

If you know of one, leave the title in the comments. Also, if you enjoy playing warriors or barbarians, leave a note of your two favorite skills for that class. Who knows, they might make it into the game.

Gaming: How to Decide on a Gaming Rig

Friday, July 1, 2011

I have been asked many times how I decided on what parts to get when upgrading/building a new box, or if buying one pre-built, who to go to. So I figured I would put my answers here.

On building: First things first. You want it to look slick, right? Plan this one out. Find your case first. If you want something more unique, fabricate your own! It's not as hard as it sounds, with the right tools. Once you have your case decided, use the case size to decide on the motherboard. Generally, the larger motherboards provide a faster experience (this isn't always true, however. Do your homework! Read the reviews, etc.). Once you have that, make sure the RAM and graphics cards are compatible, as well as the processor. Many motherboards come with a processor, some don't. If you're willing to spend some money, go with dual graphics cards - but again, make sure the motherboard will support it. After you've got the RAM, graphics cards, and processor chosen, you can then go on to what you're putting in your drive bay. Blu-Ray? DVD? Zip drive? It's your call. I recommend a blu-ray, if you can spring for it. You can also find neat trinkets to go in there, such as a gauge that shows temperatures and fan speeds and such, or a cup holder and cigarette lighter (not even kidding!). Hard drives are fairly inexpensive, and if you go with a Solid State drive, you'll be paying a lot more for less storage, however, they are silent and much quicker. Most motherboards have good on-board sound. If you want a sound card, however, make sure you have enough room on your motherboard. After all of your lights and components and drink holders and whatever you want are picked out, it's time for you to get a power supply. This is something, again, that you need to make sure is compatible. Take note of the amount of power each component uses, then decide on your power supply. If all of this stuff doesn't come with fans, you'll need those. Head down to Radio Shack (or similar small electronics store) and pick a couple up, as well as a static guard wrist strap. Just in case, you know? Don't want to fry something brand new. If you don't have them, it's also good to pick up some electronics screwdrivers. Putting it together is fairly easy, just read any instructions and read the labels on your motherboard.

On Upgrading: Upgrading a system is easy enough, if you're gonna drop some bank on it, go for the high end stuff. If you're getting a new motherboard, consider replacing the whole computer; it can sometimes be much easier on your stress levels. Spawn campers stress you out enough, right? For anything else, just keep in mind any restrictions your have, whether it's power, case space, or money. Newegg usually has some great deals running that you can jump on there.

Finally, on Purchasing: The most important thing you can do is read reviews. If it's something you're gonna be using for some time, make sure it's aesthetically pleasing, or it's a case you can make so. Always watch out for deals, and find out who has a good warranty. I like the Alienware stuff myself, and they have good support there. You wont need to worry about making sure part "A" works with component "B" when "building" your computer through the different companies builders, and the drivers are almost always up-to-date. It's the most convenient, but can cost you more money than you're wanting to spend. To help with the price, always call up and order over the phone. The sales reps have a commissioned job, and can work with the price, and give you different discounts. If they have a card program, apply for it. Most companies give you a discount.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave it in the comments!