Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ok, that's better...

So it came down to me emailing customer support because of this FTP issue. About 15 minutes after I sent it, my site stopped working entirely. Then I get a reply email that everything is fixed.


In any case, I can do this again:

Yeah, that's what's left of me...hehe.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Team Fortress 2

So I'm currently hooked on Team Fortress 2, now that I finally got my dumb internet security settings figured out (and can thus SEE the servers to play on them).

The game takes your standard Capture the Flag idea, and puts a lot of interesting twists on it. First of all, there's actually a class system in the game. This gives a lot of diversity and pretty much guarantees you'll find something that will match your play style. There are 9 classes in total, and I haven't had a chance to try out each one of them yet. But I will say that currently, I suck equally at all the ones I've tried.

That's ok though, because in this game it really doesn't matter if you suck. You're going to have fun regardless. This brings me to the next cool innovation they've done.

Unreal Tournament introduced us to the idea of the "dominating" announcement, and other such bonuses. You get a lot of kills, you get a bonus. That's standard deathmatch stuff. TF2 takes this to the next level, in a way.

First of all, when someone frags you, your camera will zoom in on them for a few seconds so you can get a real good look at them (and their name) so you can later exact your revenge the next time you see them. To put another neat little twist on this, if you (or any parts of your body) happen to be in the frame when this happens, the game will point this out. "Here's your kidney!" "Look, more bits here!", with big arrows pointing to them. It's quite entertaining.

Also, if someone kills you a certain number of times in the same game, they will be labeled as your Nemesis. And you will get a bonus for exacting revenge upon them. I really like that idea.

Add in the already comical graphics, and you'll find yourself laughing out loud whether it's you doing, or receiving, the frag.

I plan on posting a few screenshots, but I seem to be having issues with my website ATM. Last night, as I attempted to embed an image into a post, it hung up. So, I tried connecting to my site through FTP so I could link the image that way, and I couldn't connect there either.

Perhaps my internet connection hates me. At any rate, I'll post some images of my disemboweled torso once I get that problem figured out.

Friday, October 26, 2007

A Portal video

Ok, I've created a video of me running through a mid-level of Portal. Set to the tune of Map of the Problematique by Muse. Warning! This video is 17.8 MB, because I'm a video quality whore. It will take a while to download. But enjoy!

Now, keep in mind that since I've been through this level once before, I'm doing everything right in the game. You should have seen the first time I went through -- LOTS of trial and error. And dying. Much dying.

Portal Video

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My Favorite Portal Quotes

But there's no sense crying over every mistake.
You just keep on trying 'til you run out of cake.

And remember, Aperture Science's take-your-daughter-to-work day is the perfect time to have your daughter tested.

Didn't we have some fun, though? Remember when the platform was sliding into the fire pit and I said 'goodbye', and you were like 'no way'? And then I was all 'we pretended we were going to murder you'. That was great.

That thing you burnt up isn't important to me. Not any more. It's the Fluid Catalytic Cracking Unit; it makes shoes for orphans. Nice job breaking it, hero.

The Enrichment Center is required to remind you that you will be baked, and then there will be cake.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Truth in Cartoons


Portal Defeated

Yes, I defeated Portal last night. This game was a hell of a lot of fun, and this was probably the most hilarious ending to a computer game EVER.

Imagine this: You just spend hours navigating your way through the grungy, decripit innards of a research facility -- most rooms of which are out of reach and require the use of the portal gun. Then you come face to face with the computer that tried to kill you, and you have to rip her apart and burn her chips and kill her. (A computer that had been saying throughout the entire game that she'd give you cake when you got to the end.)

Then this cut-scene plays.


I had to go and beat the last level again, because I was laughing too hard the first time to hear all of the song. Golden.

Monday, October 22, 2007

My RPG idea, revisited.

About a year ago, I spent a little time playing a browser based MMORPG called the Urban Dead. The premise was this: Something right out of a George Romero film happened in a big city, and most of the population was turned into zombies. The city was completely sealed off from the rest of the world by the government -- with zombies and survivors alike being trapped inside.

The gameplay was all text based, of course, given that it's all played within an internet browser.

"You shoot at the zombie and miss."
"The zombie bites you. You lose 10 health."

So while this game isn't exactly at the height of technology, the whole premise is what made me play it, and enjoy it for a while -- the idea of an MMORPG based on the premise of trying to survive in a city full of zombies. There are no MMORPG computer games out there with that premise.

Now, there *was* such a game in developement: City of the Dead, based on the George Romero universe. But, it's since been scrapped and the company developing it went out of business.

I'm hoping that the idea will be developed by someone else, however, because it's most definitely a game I would love to play. I can see two different ways of going about it:

The first would be to use the mechanics used in the Urban Dead: There are no NPC or computer controlled players. Every zombie and every survivor in the game is a real person playing that character.

The other would be that the undead was a completely computer controlled force, and all the survivors were real players. That's boring. I'd wanna play a zombie, at least for a while.

The one main idea in Urban Dead that I liked was how they handled death. You could be killed in the game, but then you came back as a zombie. Likewise, the "scientist" class in the game could cure zombies and turn them back into humans by injecting their brain with a serum. That added a very unique twist to the gameplay. This was further complicated by zombies who were "brain dead" and couldn't be cured, and you didn't know this until you tried to cure them and it failed (thus wasting a shot of your precious serum). You were uncurable if you decided to play a zombie from the start, rather than becoming one by dying in the game.

The possibilities for creating a full-fledged video game with this premise are actually really exciting. It really surprises me that nothing like this yet exists. But, when you look at the quality of MMORPG video games out there, two genres utterly dominate the market: Fantasy and Science-Fiction. Survival Horror is way under the radar.

There are a lot of things that I imagine would be very cool to experience in a game like this:

-- I picture walking down the streets of a deserted city, not knowing if a zombie player is waiting around the next corner. I think the game would always be suspenseful and interesting.

-- Sleep would be an interesting topic, and the idea of safety. Where would your character sleep? Could he be attacked while you're not in the game? Could you log-on and be dead because while you were at work a bunch of zombies broke into your hiding spot?

-- I think it would be quite easy to have unique skill sets for different classes. Things are typically broken in a zombie apocalypse, so there could be a Repair class. A Doctor class, of course, to heal the wounded. Soldier or Police for weapon handling. How about a class that excels at barricading buildings to keep out zombies, or build traps for them? How about a Looter, who excels and sneaking through the city to the nearest Ammunition or Hardware store for supplies? As for zombies, there could be classes that excel at finding ways into buildings, or ones that move very fast but have fewer hitpoints. You could even split up zombies that bite to kill, and ones that bite to turn others into zombies.

-- The image that stands out in my head most of all, however, is being a player in the game, trapped in a building, and hearing a zombie pounding on the door trying to get inside. And knowing that that zombie is a real player and all the things that typically fool a computer controlled monster aren't going to save you.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Half-Life 2: Episode 2

Let's get the most important thing out of the way first: This is one of the greatest games I've ever played.

Valve took the original structured idea they had for Episode 1, and used it to make a game that is definitely more well-designed and balanced that Episode 1 was. Along with that, they made it more emotional than any other Half-Life game up to this point. It's more exciting. It's more fun. And it makes you care about these characters more than ever before.

Now, let's get down to the nitty-gritty. As always, if you plan on playing this game for yourself, do not read this post. I will be giving everything away.

The game starts out exactly where Episode 1 left off, and actually begins very similarly to how Episode 1 started -- your (as in you playing Gordon Freeman. "You" is easier to use when writing this) train crashed after City 17 disintegrated by the Citadel's explosion, and you're found by Alyx. She finds your gravity gun and uses it to get you out of the wreckage before handing it back to you.

The two of you stole some very important data from the Citadel before it went critical, information critical to the Combine's enslavement of humanity. They want it back. The two of you are now on the run, trying to make your way to White Forest -- a rebel base where Eli Vance (Alyx's father and the leader of the Rebellion) and Isaac Kleiner are attempting to close the huge portal that now sits where the Citadel once stood. If the portal remains open, humanity will be lost to the invaders.

The first major improvement you will see to this game are the vast, highly detailed outdoor levels. The above shot is what's left of City 17 and the Citadel -- nothing but a big portal that, when complete, would allow the Combine to invade Earth in full.

This massive portal is causing portal storms, which can do massive amounts of damage when they occur. Such as the above bridge falling apart in front of you.

The two of you find an abandoned base and contact Dr. Vance and Dr. Kleiner at White Forest. The two of them instruct you to get to them as soon as possible, so they can find out what exactly is in the packet of data the two of you snatched from the Combine.

This is easier said than done of course, because the two of you are soon attacked by the game's newest creature -- the Hunter. I just realized that I didn't get any screenshots of the Hunters, because every time the fuckers showed up, I was fighting my ass off to stay alive. They are TOUGH.

In any case, on your first encounter with a Hunter, Alyx is impaled through the stomach before a friendly Vortigaint (pictured above) shows up to help you.

He picks up Alyx and leads you to a nearby Rebel base.

This leads to one of the most exciting showpieces of the game. The rebel base is underground, very close to an Antlion hive. You actually have to crawl through this hive to get to the base. When you arrive, the two Joes above tell you that everything will be find as long as the Antlion's babies aren't stepped on. Yeah. Those there the thousands of little grubs you stepped on while making your way to the base...

So needless to say, the Antlions are pissed. There are 4 tunnels leading into the base, and each of them has a warning sensor attached to it with lights. One red light means a few Antlions are coming. All 3 lights mean a LOT of antlions are coming.

It reminded me of that scene in Aliens where the group is holding off waves of aliens using the mounted guns. Same thing here -- we had 4 tunnels, 2 mounted guns, the 2 Joes, and myself. Holding off waves and waves of Antlions. Then the guns broke, but the Vortigaint's friends showed up. Just in time too, because then all 3 lights lit up in all 4 tunnels. Zomg. Madness ensured, and it was glorious.

After it was all over, the Vortigaint informs you that in order to save Alyx's life, you have to retrieve some kind of enzyme secretion from the core of the Antlion's hive. Of course that's the answer...

So the two of you set off for the hive.

If you're a bit claustrophobic, you'll be downright catatonic before this portion of the game is over.

Here's a shot of Gordon and the Vortigaint in the elevator after retrieving the secretion. I just really, really like the lighting of that shot.

This scene actually surprised me a little bit. This is the Vortigaints healing Alyx after we retrieved the secretion. Half-Life has always been a bloody game, but it's never been "gory". And this actually shocked me a little bit -- showing the insides of someone like that. It's very well done too when you see it in the game, because it shows Alyx's muscles as the Vort waves his hand over her. Very nice animation.

Now, it's at this point that the G-Man contacts you for the first and only time in the game. I don't have any shots of this either...I was too freaking shocked when it happened, and was paying too much attention to what he was telling me. I've known all along that he's had something to do with this entire thing. He was at Black Mesa when the resonance cascade occurred, and he's been watching Gordon ever since. I still don't have a guess who he's working for. No idea. But, we do know that the Vortigant's stopped him from putting Gordon back in stasis at the end of Half-Life 2. And I don't find it a coincidence that he decides to contact Gordon for the first time AFTER that has happened right when the Vort's are occupied with saving Alyx's life. Somehow, they interfere with him.

In any case, the G-Man was as enigmatic as ever. You still don't know what his intentions are, but he does suggest that Alyx is more important than anyone realizes. Why that is, I don't know. But he tells you to ensure she makes it to White Forest safely, and he whispers something in her ear..."Prepare for unforeseen consequences."

After all this goes down, you're back on your path to White Forest. Above is another outdoor scene, beautifully rendered. In the distance, you can see the Combine. They, too, are marching towards White Forest...to annihilate the rebels. You have to get there first.

Ah, memories of Ravenholm. Loved it. I should mention something very important at this point. You find an abandoned Combine base along the way to White Forest, and in it is an Advisor in stasis. What's an Advisor?

Advisors have not been seen much, which pretty much adds to the creepiness of finding one in the first place. They are the head of the Combine empire. They are the brains of it all -- they developed all the technology, they master-minded everything. And, after your first encounter with one here in Episode 2, they are INCREDIBLY powerful. Physically, they appear pretty fragile, but they have psychic powers so strong, they can fling you across a room and hold you, incapacitated, against a wall without even moving. Below is a shot of the one you meet in the barn.

You're too incapacitated by it's psychic powers to fight it. It picks up a rebel and impales him in the back of the head with a tube that comes out of it's mouth. Then it picks you up and prepared to do the same thing...until it's stasis pod malfunctions and hurts it, causing it to flee.

You're left scared shitless, and intrigued at the same time. This is the first time...ever...that you are unable to kill something in the game.

Oh, come on. What's more fun that lighting a zombie on fire?

Ok, maybe watching Dog rip the insides out of a Strider is more fun than lighting a zombie on fire. I digress.

So you make it to White Forest. Eli and Isaac are very happy to see you. You clean out the silo, you do some more fighting, you take down a lot of Striders with the Strider Buster...and the rocket is launched to close the Combine's massive portal. And it works, the portal is closed.

But what's this? The data packet you retrieved in Episode 1 contains a message from Judith. The Borealis has been found.

The what?

Yeah...that was my question as well. This part of the story is very, very vague, and I think it's done so on purpose because the answers are coming in Episode 3. In any case, it sets up your next mission -- you have to go rescue Dr. Judith Mossman and find out everything she knows about the Borealis.

Eli then talks to you a bit privately, and admits he knows about the G-Man. I was shocked -- it was the first time ANYONE in the game has talked about him or even confirmed his existence.

The game ends with you about to take off in a helicopter with Alyx to find Mossman and the Borealis.

Then two Advisors crash into the hangar. Once again, you are incapacitated. You can't move. You can't attack. All you can do is hang in mid-air, against the wall, and watch as they kill Alyx's father in the same was they killed the rebel in the barn -- by impaling him in the back of the head. My theory is that the Advisor's gain all the knowledge of their victim when they do this. This would mean that the Combine now know everything there is to know about the rebellion. Everything.

Dog then enters and seemingly kills one of the Advisors, while the other one flees. Alyx is left crying over the corpse of her father, begging him not to leave her. And the game ends.

If there's just ONE complaint I have...is that I wasn't allowed to fight one of the Advisors. I *need* to kill one of them, and if they deny me that pleasure in Episode 3 I will be thoroughly pissed. That final scene in the game was utterly heart-wrenching, and the sense of helplessness they created was quite brilliant. I felt like I failed.

So, Valve, if you're reading this -- that's what I want. Me vs. the Advisor. One on one. Bring it!

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Weighted Companion Cube

Hey, I thought it was funny...

This comic will make much more sense one I make another post about Portal. I'm just waiting until I get a bit further.

Friday, October 12, 2007


A few years ago, I saw a movie called Cube. It was simultaneously one of the stupidest movies I've ever seen, and one of the most intriguing. The premise of this movie reminds me very much of the newest game I'm playing, called Portal. Whereas, you're trapped in a rather plain square room, which may or may not contain traps, and you have to find a way out.

Portal, however, is much, much more fun than Cube was.

This game isn't your traditional first-person shooter. You don't have a gun. Actually, you don't have any kind of weapons. All you have is the ability to create portals, which I'll explain in a bit.

The game starts with you waking up on a table in some kind of a test lab. A robotic voice starts talking to you and telling you that you're a test subject, but doesn't give you any details as to the nature of the experiment. Then, a portal opens up in the wall, and you walk through it. The robotic voice then explains the idea of portals to you.

Things start out pretty simple. In the first test, the exit is a portal way up out of reach. So you use your portal making gun to open a portal in the wall beside you, you walk through it, and you come out way up above at the exit. It explains the basic principle of how portals work -- you walk through one and you come out of the other. And because your portal making gun can open up a portal in places you can't get by foot, you can get across large gaps in the floor, or up on unreachable platforms, etc.

Here's a screenshot of me making a portal. And that person you see through the portal....is ME. You're looking into infinity.

I probably won't be taking too many screenshots of the game, because basically there's not much to see. All the rooms are very bland like this one is. There's not much to see. But each test gets progressively more difficult, and the game hooks you in because you want to figure them out and move on. The last test that I've figured out so far, #14, was very cool and it was quite satisfying to complete it.

I was in a room with a high wall. Here's how I got over the wall:

First, I opened up a exit portal up near the ceiling on the wall behind the obstacle. Then I opened an entrance portal on the wall beside me. I stepped through it, and I came out of the portal way up high near the ceiling, and of course started plummeting down towards the floor (and my death).

Then, as I was falling towards the floor, I opened up a new entrance portal where I was about to go splat. I fell through it, and came out of the exit portal way up high near the ceiling again. But because I was now moving much faster (because I'd been falling), I was launched across the room and over the wall to the exit.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Bored at Work

One disadvantage of being able to write long and complicated scripts, is that you have to sit and wait for these long and complicated scripts to execute. Which leads to me sitting here wishing I could be going home. Bah.

While I wait, I'll talk about Team Fortress 2 a little bit. I pre-ordered the game through Steam, and as such, I am able to actually play it already before it's release date on October 10th. It's a lot more tactical than I first expected. You have different classes you can play -- Heavies, Engineers, Scouts, Snipers, Medics, etc. And it's not your typical deathmatch or fragfest -- but more tactical and strategical. And it doesn't look like it would be much fun in say, 1v1, 2v2, or anything like that. The more people you have in the map, the more insane and fun it will become.

Now I just need to find about 9 other friends, and I'll be good to go.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Oh, you know damn well I'm doing this...


All right, I promised more Bioshock, and I shall deliver. This post shall be pictorial in nature.

The cut-scene after you first pick up a plasmid is really neat. Plasmids are genetic enhancements in the form of a syringe with which you inject yourself. This particular plasmid allows me to shoot electricity out of my hands.

The "Little Sisters" are quite morbid. This particular little girl is stabbing a corpse in the head with a large needle. The "Little Sisters" haven't been completely explained to me yet, but what I do know is that I can harvest "Adam" from them, which is a form of currency I can use to purchase upgrades for myself. And EVERYTHING in the game can be updated, from your weapons to your first aid kits.

And as I said, all the Little Sisters are protected by a Big Daddy, as pictured above. You want Adam, you gotta go through the Big Daddy to get it. And they're tough. But hey, you're a genetically enhanced human, there's nothing you can't handle...

The environment reacts realistically to all your actions. If there's a bunch of baddies standing in a room filed with water, firing electricity into the water is going to fry them all, as pictured above.

The doctor is out. Waaaaay out. This guy was a boss-fight of sorts. Before I entered his room, I found a first aid station which I proceeded to hack so that it was cheaper for me to heal myself with it. Plus hacking is fun. To my surprise, hacking the machine also meant that if anyone but me tried to use it, they would be harmed. And the good doctor tried to do just that. Brilliant.

As I said, after you take down a Big Daddy, you're free to do what you want to the Little Sister it was protecting. You have to make a choice -- Harvest her, which will give you the maximum amount of Adam but kill her in the process, or Rescue her, which will yield you less Adam but will turn her back into a normal little girl.

The underwater city always seems alive, and there are a lot of things that seem to be happening around you that you don't know about.

A garden on the bottom of the ocean. Deep.


Holy smokes.  The last post I wrote for this blog was on October 18, 2017.  Through the little more than  two years since, this blog has be...