Yes, you read that correctly:
Before you laugh, I remember when the idea of a Hunchback of Notre Dame musical was just a joke on the animated TV show, The Critic.
Yes, you read that correctly:
The BBC has released a little setup for Doctor Who‘s ninth season. I assume this isn’t spoiler-y, as it’s just a bit of a prequel. It does the usual job of raising more questions than it answers, but we get some witty Doctor banter, so it’s worth a look:
Now if I could just get my wife to finish mourning the “loss” of Matt Smith…
Here’s a nifty little training film from the upcoming Fallout 4. It makes me want some kind of Fallout-themed animated series on Adult Swim. While cartoony, it’s got a wee bit of the ol’ “Bloody Mess” perk on display, so it might not be for your Vault’s younger residents:
In the U.S., Monday is a holiday, and as such there are plans a-plenty for family gatherings this weekend so our son can remember he has relatives. I’ll be in and out of the office, trying to get things posted, including that elusive second chapter for my Patrons, along with an unseen Full Frontal Nerdity strip for my generous donors. Those with Tumblr accounts and a love for a certain CW show may want to post it themselves after it goes up in a while.
There’s also this to enjoy:
• It’s a few years old, but if the algorithms at work are still around, Xerox Workcentres are switching numbers around when scanning. I envision a new line of attack from young’uns for why their math homework is mysteriously wrong…
• How many times have you sat around the gaming table, wistfully thinking, “If only these dice could talk?” Thanks to future-technology, now it may be possible.
• This music video doubles as an ad for an adult beverage brand I’d never heard of before, but I think this cover of Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London” is pretty durn cool.
• Terry Pratchett’s final Discworld novel is out, but you can keep roaming around the Disc via the Discworld MUD, after reading about it on Rock, Paper, Shotgun. I’d say Mr. Pratchett would approve of the graphics interface, being a writer and all.
• It’s a toy commercial. Yes, it’s cool-looking. I may or may not want one someday. Still, I want to enjoy the movie before sending any merch money to a galaxy far, far away.
• And now let’s Excavate! It’s the first archaeological game with RPG elements I’ve seen that doesn’t involve a bullwhip and a fedora. Choose your team and use your 14 days wisely to find artifacts and upgrade your dig!
My son has discovered the digital narcotic known as Minecraft. He’s also learning that procedurally generated landscapes can lead to some pretty funky results. The seed for his randomly chosen world is -7594087473388103326, and the oddball village he found is at coordinates 224, 1328. I think this is the product of really bad planning by the local city council:
Yes, that’s a massive chasm running through the village. These guys saw a version of the Grand Canyon and figured this was the best possible place to settle down and live their lives. Here’s another angle on that fissure o’ doom the NPCs wake up to every day, assuming they didn’t fall to their deaths the day before:
You can see how Minecraft generates its structures, extending the foundations down until they hit some kind of bottom. One house in particular showed off this feature, as well as an apparent desire by the residents to be cut off from the rest of the world:
It’s almost a testament to the safety regulations of Star Wars: Giant shaft, no safety rails, and places for people to be that look like they’re where they’ll live out the rest of their days in isolation. Seriously, I’m sharing it because it does have some potential for those who like to improve villages and make interesting structures based on the landscape. It’s also somewhere that one could probably make use of the bug (if it still exists in the game) that lets the villagers breed if they’re 32 blocks below the village center. Their notions of romance are… wait for it …deep, I suppose.
Thankfully, my kid got bored and moved on to other villages, which is probably for the best, as he tends to plummet from high places about as often as the villagers do. At least his discovery can now be shared with the world. If any of you think the world seed worthy of further distribution, feel free to add it to any seed list you’d like.
Just be sure to encourage putting in some railings, for the sake of the villager children.
Let me start by saying I’ve never played Terreria, though I’m fairly familiar with the whole “side-scrolling Minecraft” vibe it helped establish. Starbound, which also sets you in a pixilated world where you build and craft stuff while fighting things and trying to survive, was more my wheelhouse because it has spaceships. However, Starbound has been one of those games that’s been in a kind of “early access forever” holding pattern, always promising loads of changes but only having them available in the “unstable” testing version. Well, it looks like they’ve delivered on a whole ton of promises:
Seriously, if you’ve never played it, the word “finally” in the sentence, “Sell everything you don’t need, finally” needs to be envisioned as appearing in giant glowing letters so bright and huge they could be seen from the moon. You get loads of stuff in Starbound that you just can’t throw away, because you have to hoard stuff in video games (I blame Zork for starting my obsession) in case it’s important later. Finally being able to call the mountains of lower-level weapons, clothing, food, and loot “vendor trash” because there are now actual vendors is something every player has been demanding forever.
What I really dig is the whole “build up something that grows organically” mechanic that appears to be at play here. In Minecraft, I love upgrading villages, but I wish they had some more personality without installing mods. I’ve got nothing against mods, as my Fallout addiction will testify to, but in a game that’s in a constant state of update, it means that things in the game can break and corrupt loads of
questionably spent time work. So the idea that my building something will kind of start a society is an exciting prospect! I hope the NPC A.I. is rewarding to player efforts and not just based on X number of spaces and Y numbers of doors or something simple like that.
I noticed a lot of text about balancing encounters and so on, and I really, really hope this is so. In the previous version of Starbound, the thing I hated the most was that content was locked behind platforming twitch-game boss fights. In order to get to the next tier of missions and craftable items, you had to enter a dungeon, spend (usually) about a half an hour getting to the boss, and then get killed over and over again. Each attempt requires the 30-minute slog through the complex, usually followed by frustration. I’m all for skill being rewarded, but I was hoping for a way that would allow me to maybe spend more time grinding a bit to get better weapons or some kind of perk that might let me get past the boss without having to be Neo on caffeine. Sadly, the best I could come up with were console commands that let me turn on God Mode so I could just get on with exploring the universe. It did this over and over again in the previous version, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this is no longer how the game progresses. Boss monsters guarding rewards is great, but locking you out of whole swaths of a sandbox game? Not cool.
So hopefully it’s back on track to being a fun little space romp (to be played only after actual things are accomplished, of course). It doesn’t help that I really enjoy the theme music.
It’s an homage to a Disney action film done in CGI animated form, which kind of works for me. Also, it doesn’t have to be Pixar, since Disney’s animation department did a bang-up job with Big Hero 6. So without further ado, let’s take a look at what possibilities could be had with an animated version of The Rocketeer:
And since I’ve brought up this movie, I always have to close by saying that the trailer I saw in the theaters as a wee lad promised a much more noir-ish action movie than I eventually saw. Still, it was fun.
This has been a lot of adjustment, and I thank everyone for sticking around. My son just started kindergarten at a school where, among other things, he’ll be learning a second language. I’d like to apologize right now to all speakers of Spanish for what he (and probably I) will do to the language as we try to do it justice. I imagine my own efforts just trying to keep up with his homework will be like handing an animatronic mall elf a violin and expecting to hear something that doesn’t cause physical pain, but I’ll do my best.
Anyway, we’ve just about got his schedule ironed out, and that involves me walking him to the bus stop in the morning and then strolling down there in the afternoon. As one who would gladly live in an underground vault with an internet connection, my exposure to the strange Eye of Fire you overworlders keep in the sky has been somewhat daunting, but I think I can cope. So now that I’ve got fairly regular blocks of time where I’m not giving my kid material for his eventual reboot of “The Wonder Years,” here’s some things I ran across while packing his lunches:
• A poster for the next Star Wars film was released, and it kind of spoils who’s going to be a force-user.
• If (like me) you’ve become a fan of the animated show Rick and Morty and (unlike me) you play the game DOTA2, you can download a Rick and Morty announcer pack (the link goes to a sampling on YouTube).
• I got my Full Frontal Nerdity material for the Escapist early this week, as Supernatural star Misha Collins was mugged in Minnesota while attending a convention. I don’t think the assailant or assailants understand the fan-wrath in store for them if they’re ever caught…
• Grand Theft Auto V shows why PC mods are great for creative game engine uses as a new plugin lets you make amazing movies using the game.
• Forget the Pip-Boy replicas, I want to preorder a Fallout game and get one of these with it.
• A new Tolkien tale will be published in October. I expect a five-movie deal to be announced about a week before it comes out.
• Speaking of post-apocalyptia, it looks like the makers of the next Zorro movie have been reading my Christmas List and are setting the next Zorro film after the fall of man. They can even backdoor this into being a retread of Thundarr the Barbarian and I’d be thrilled.
• Finally, if you haven’t yet given into an addiction to Minecraft, here’s a game themed on said time-sink called Minecaves. It’s got all the thrill of gathering gemstones in dangerous dungeons without the frustration of plowing through chests of cobblestone just to get one lousy diamond.
There have been remote-control human-shaped flying devices for a while now, though this may be the first one that could be used to rid areas of unwanted flammables:
On a totally unrelated note, the Deadpool trailer is being attached to the latest Fantastic Four movie. While I like the apparent “cosmic horror” angle the movie seems to be taking, I’ll probably just wait to see Deadpool show up on YouTube.
Many of you may be too young to recall the good ol’ days of how video game companies often had to work around hardware limitations or other constraints to bring you your digital entertainment. One of the earliest I can recall is the old Pac-Man game for the Atari 2600. With 4k to work with, being able to render Pac-Man and four ghosts seemed a nigh impossible task, but someone figured out that making the ghosts flicker (I mean, hey, they’re ghosts) would allow the game to appear to display multiple foes for our dot (or in this case, wafer) eating protagonist to face.
Bethesda’s Gamebryo engine is probably the closest thing to this sort of coding conundrum in existence today. It and its variants are used to run the Elder Scrolls games as well as Fallout 3 and New Vegas, and that similarity is what has allowed the various mods made for these games to be ported from one to the other fairly easily. It runs on both consoles and PCs, and as it’s a bit of a tar ball, the engine has given us a lot of hilarious bugs.
Given that this is a 3D engine that’s pretty much designed for first-person shooter role-playing games, occasionally, the engine needs to be wrangled a bit to give you the experience desired by the coders. Hence, the trickery used to create Fallout 3‘s Presidential Metro. All that’s needed is that you “see” the metro around you. Your arm is suddenly trransformed into the whole subway interior, and “you” are forced to run at a ludicrous speed for a few seconds to simulate the ride. Once that’s over, your arm pops back to normal, and you proceed.
It’s similar to the popular XRE-Cars mod for New Vegas, where your character model is basically transformed from a humanoid shape into that of a car while it’s active. It’s not what one would want if a magic wand and a wish for driveable vehicles was made, but within the limitations of the engine (which, don’t forget, had to run on previous-gen consoles), it’s a pretty good trick.
The slide shows in Bethesda’s Fallout games are accomplished with another in-engine illusion. You, at home, see photos go by with narration and music telling you the backstory to the Capital/Mojave Wasteland. Inside the game, your avatar is immobilized in a dark room, forced to face a curtain, A Clockwork Orange-style, while someone tells you about what you’re seeing. In order for your avatar (and therefore you) to “hear” the speech, an NPC has to be in the vicinity to speak to you, so the game puts one behind the curtain, out of sight, to deliver the narration. In New Vegas, this is accomplished by a character called “Ron the Narrator,” named for the game’s main storyteller, Ron Perlman. There’s also a mission from Fallout 3‘s “Point Lookout” DLC that requires a character speak with you telepathically, so the game puts an NPC inside an unreachable building to be the source of the voice tracks (though in this case, they forgot to make this NPC not show up on your HUD’s radar).
I rather like it when games are forced to try new ways of doing things to squeeze better performance and new behaviors out of limited resources. Consoles, for better or for worse, help to make this happen, as game companies try to make better-looking games run on devices that aren’t going to be upgraded for several years. I mean, look at the original graphics for Oblivion and the ones for Skyrim. Remember, those were both coded for the XBox 360, and what a difference a few years can make.
Also, I hope I’m not the only one who saw the image above and thought of the superhero created by “The Frantics” named Mr. Canoehead. If I am, I can accept it, and take it as an opportunity to relive my youth when pop culture was something that happened to other people…