@LowBitLovecraft     Morgopolis Studios                                                 Good Stuff! About

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Level Design: Controlling Tributary Paths



I've been doing level design for a Metroidvania type game. Up top is one of my old designs, and below that is a much newer map. Here are a few things I've learned over the years:

  • Centralized locations (big rooms that connect to lots of other tributary paths) are a good thing. From these points the player can launch expeditions into your smaller, more dangerous, locations; and feel like they can return somewhere afterwards.
  • Tributary paths should not continue forever and/or randomly connect to other tributaries. The player will lose any sense of placement in your overall design and randomly wander your world with no sense of progress.
  • The only time you end up with too many rooms is when you run out of unique ideas for those rooms. After that, don't bother adding anything else.
  • Compact maps are better. On an aesthetic just-looking-at-a-bunch-of-rectangles level of thinking, they're better.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tommy Wi-Show Belongs in Your Pants

Ever wondered what it would be like to watch Tommy Wiseau play video games? If you have then oh my god, Christmas came early.

Look at him! I'm serious. Look at this guy.
Usually you can tell when someone purposefully makes a bad video. There's something about them that says, "I'm acting. I'm not really this awkward and strange. It's just an act. I'm emphasizing my feigned stupidity."
But Tommy? He acts awkward and strange without even trying. The dude really is just sitting down, tapping buttons on a controller and mumbling to himself. At one point during the longest fucking round of Mortal Kombat ever, I swear you can actually see the dark halo of his anti-charisma hovering all around him.
And he isn't even trying.

Do you know who else does things without trying? Do you know who else simply acts?

Zen masters.

And that's what Tommy is. He's a Zen master of uncomfortable, glazed stares and crazy laughs.

By the way. I've never seen so many dislikes on a Youtube video, before.
Normally, you can show the most heinous, bizarre, insane shit on Youtube and easily pick up a minimum 95% likes, but once again, Tommy Wiseau has broken the mold.

Actually, I've got a theory:
After watching this video a few times (Yes. I'm serious), I think what they did was stick Tommy Wiseau in a room with no rehearsal or preparation and just built the show around him.

I listened to an interview and, according to the guy who was with TW during the interview(and who was also capable of speaking legible sentences), the Tommy Wi-Show will run for 1,000 episodes, and only on the final episode will the entire plot come together.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Gamer Atrophy

And for no reason at all, Actraiser!

Let me share with you my shame.

I used to play Tetris so much that I'd see blocks whenever I closed my eyes.
I played Street Fighter 2 so religiously that I literally developed blisters on my thumbs, which did not keep me from playing.
On multiple occasions, after being awake for over twenty-four hours, I would plop myself down in front of games like Team Fortress and crush anyone stupid enough to get in my way, because that's how you play a fucking video game.

Back when I was eleven years old, I used to play video games like a man.

But now?

I don't have a single MMO subscription.
The majority of my purchases this year were bite-sized indie games.
I can't even tell you the last time I played a fighting game.
Civilization 5 scares me (It actually scares me!), because I'm afraid I'll play it for too long.
That goes double for you, Minecraft.

My free time slips through my fingers on trite shit like bizarre animepointless blog posts, and (ironically enough) developing video games of my own. I used to be a gamer. I used to be steel, but now I've gone soft.

By the end of November I'll probably have quit my job and taken to pissing in jars.
Can't wait!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My Beater is Going to Shit-Car Heaven

I was sitting in the waiting room of a small auto shop, reading the awesomest book in the world, when I heard a high-pitched gasp.

I looked up.
Through the window I had a clear view of my car elevated about seven feet in the air on a massive hydraulic lift.
Underneath the car was every mechanic who was working in the garage. They had all stopped what they were doing to stand underneath my car and just stare at it.
It was a bad sign, and the estimate for parts and labor was a worse sign.

I've been driving the same '94 Nissan Sentra since high school. It's taken me across the country multiple times. I've never had a single accident while driving this car. Not even a ding.

It takes about ten minutes, in the Summer, for the vehicle to warm up. Most of the paint job has been sun-burnt away (yes, leaving your car out in 110+ unprotected will eventually do this). The smell inside is unique and no amount of chemicals can chase it away for long. My dad told me that the smell reminded him of his grandpa's car.

Whenever I turn, accelerate, or hit the brakes, my car creaks like a haunted pirate ship. For about a month I had to hold my driver's-side door as tightly as possible while on the freeway because it was shaking so bad that I worried it was going to fall off.
That was over six years ago.

Only one speaker still works on the stereo system. Any bass comes out as a hiss of static.

Actually, that's not true. The back speakers work, but only when they pick up certain random wireless signals, which is when they blare out a teeth-grinding static scream.

The radio doesn't work anymore. The cassette player sorta does. I can listen to my iPod via a bizarre converter, but only when the converter is at least ninety degrees or hotter. Otherwise the cassette player spits it back out.
To get the converter up to a high temp I have to close my windows, turn on the heater, full-blast (the fan only works if you set it to full blast), and transfer all heat to the front vents, and then I hold the converter up to the heater for about ten minutes, usually while on the freeway, and then after three or four tries it sometimes works.
To hear anything out of the one working speaker you need to have the volume just right and keep all the windows closed, and even then it's a little hard to make out. In the Summer listening to anything is tricky because the AC doesn't work and, like I said, you have to keep the windows closed.

I love this fucking car.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I'm Going to Fix Zelda

(If you're going to read this then you might as well listen to some Zelda music)

Let's pretend that the guys at Nintendo aren't half as qualified as myself when it comes to making Zelda games.
Let's also pretend that Zelda is in some kind of rut and it's last release only sold a few dozen copies.

Now that we've properly deluded ourselves, I'm going to fix the entire Zelda franchise in three steps.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Meaning of Life

I was ten years old and wandering through a forest when a strange old man stumbled out of a shrubbery and asked me, "What is the meaning of life?"
Without hesitation, I answered, "To play Skyrim."

It was the early 90's, and neither of us knew what the hell I was talking about, so we both kind of looked at each other before the strange old man slinked back into the shrubbery. I was very confused.

But not anymore! Now I know that on some cosmic dreamspace level of consciousness I had divined the true meaning of life and broadcasted the directions for enlightenment before there was even a means of achieving it.

Doubt the prophet? Behold the trailer.

I pre-ordered this game. I've never pre-ordered a game, before.

I pre-ordered two of them.

Seriously. That's not some bullshit like the whole meaning-of-life-guy-in-the-shrubbery crap.
I pre-ordered two copies of Skyrim.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I Just Saw Limitless,

It's a movie where this sci-fi author named Eddie, who hasn't written a single word of his novel, somehow manages to get an advance from his publisher for this non-existent book of his. I can't even begin to conceive how many dicks this guy must've sucked in order to get this money.

And as a sub-plot, Eddie acquires a bag of pills that make him crazy smart, allowing him to abandon his craft of writing and pursue a seat on the US Senate. Huh?

But the hair is where they really lose me, because when Eddie is just normal Eddie his hair is a mess, but once he's in smart mode his hair is always immaculate.

Eddie on the left? Either mentally deficient or a total genius.
Eddie on the right? Douche.

Shouldn't it be the other way around? I've met some smart people before, and they usually never give a shit about their hair.
Conversely, I've met plenty of dumbasses who devote a lot of attention on how their heads look.

"Fuck your comb."

Eddie really was a douche, though.
The first thing he did after he took that initial pill, and I mean the very first thing, is fuck his landlord's wife.
And even though he spends the majority of the film hopped up on magic drugs, he still manages to make these really obvious mistakes, like forgetting to pay the loan shark who threatened to skin him alive.

And what kind of under-the-table street dealer loans a hundred thousand dollars to a total stranger?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

The year is 2027 and I'm a cyborg crime-fighter, like Robocop, but I sound like Christian Bale's gravel-coughing Batman, which hurts my suspension of disbelief a lot more than when I shot that guy twenty times in the face and he didn't seem to notice.

I've snuck into a secret compound hidden under Detroit's industrial ruins. The place is extremely overstaffed with gun-toting meathead murder jockeys, and they also have a lot of giant robots and kill-on-sight sentry guns, which is a mistake on their part because I can totally hack their systems and flag all friendlies as bullet sponges.

There's just one problem:

The dude I'm playing as, Adam Jensen, has no idea how to sit down when using a computer. The dumbass always stands up when in front of a desk, which is a real problem when the computer room is surrounded by windows overlooking a warehouse full of black ops mercenaries.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Rayne and Simon's Hideous Love-Child

Bloodrayne: Betrayal suffers from a bad case of ShaqFu-itis.

If you haven't played ShaqFu, then maybe you're familiar with the original Prince of Persia? Same concept.
The animations are thorough, so they look smooth, but playing it is a completely different experience because you can't do anything until whatever animation you've committed yourself to finishes it's cycle. This works fine in a precision platformer like PoP, but in a fighting game like ShaqFu or a platformer-beat-em-up like Bloodrayne: Betrayal? It feels like crap.

In a queer way it reminds me of Oni on the PS2 (developed by pre-Halo Bungie). In that game you could roll to the side, pick up a weapon in mid-roll, then come out of the roll and open fire, but doing it was almost impossible and never satisfying. Same with Bloodrayne.

I still ran through the demo twice, though. The game is beautiful and the music sounds like it was composed by a guy who spent the last three years listening to the Symphony of the Night soundtrack. The whole game screams hi-def Castlevania in appearance, but it plays like something else entirely. Praise the artists. Blame the programmers.

Also, I didn't know this, but there are fans of the Bloodrayne franchise, and they hate this game (and all 2D games) with a burning passion.


Friday, September 9, 2011


I don't know how to talk about this without sounding retarded, but I like cups.

Just on it's own, a cup is nothing special, but when you put liquid in it, the cup is fascinating. Especially if it's clear glass, so you can just stare at the liquid, conformed into a shape and nature it does not readily possess.

With a cup, you can just pick up a liquid and walk around with it. That's an awesome technology. A total victory over the natural order of things.

What really bothers me, though, is that while I'm entirely serious and I really do find cups interesting, it's very clear to me that nobody else is going to read this and align with my mental wavelength. Nobody is going to study my last few paragraphs and have some deep epiphany where the camera zooms in and the background zooms out (is there a name for that kind of shot?), and for the first time in their life they find cups super interesting.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hug an XBLI Dev

Somewhere, out there, in the cold, is a hungry XBLI dev.
But he doesn't want food, or shelter, or beer.

All he wants is to entertain you.

He wants to give you a game that you can play with your friends, and laugh and have a good time. And that's it. A smile on your face is like a sunrise for the otherwise bleak and empty existence of an XBLI dev.

Remember: XBLI devs are special. It's not like they're talented game designers. Nobody will ever love them for their ability to create an enjoyable 2D platformer. Have you seen how many reviews most of those guys get? Like, maybe 100 tops (200 if they can draw anime tits), and you know those are just all the other XBLI devs giving their inbred criticism.

Does the XBLI dev deserve your support? Fuck no.

But he wants it. He wants it so badly.

So here's what I want you to do:
I want you to go outside, find an XBLI dev, and give him a big hug.

Better yet, instead of starting a flame war over how awesome BF3 is going to be over MW3, how about you expend that effort in telling everyone how awesome some random, crappy XBLI game is.
Will EA ever give a shit that you spent the better part of your free time defending their it-already-pre-ordered-enough-to-make-a-profit AAA title? Fuck no. Are you kidding me?

But you do just one semi-positive tweet for an XBLI dev's game and I swear he will stalk you 'til the day you die.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Fifteen-Year-Old PC Game

Holy shit I'm playing Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall.

I only played this game once before and that was fifteen years ago on a friend's computer.
He didn't own the game. I bought the demo (yes, I bought a demo) in the store for about $5 and installed it on his computer.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Speedrunner HD

It looks great. It plays great. But since it's on XBLI there has to be at least one major flaw, and for Speedrunner that flaw is the game's length. You only get so many levels and each of those levels are about thirty seconds long, which works fine if you're playing Super Meat Boy and dying two-three hundred times before reaching the end of a fifteen-second level, but Speedrunner isn't a crazy-hard game so you'll tear right through these levels and spend more time staring at the load screen than playing the actual game.

To be fair, I never tried out the multiplayer, which is supposed to be competitive, balanced and very re-playable. I just wish the SP levels were longer.
Could someone just throw a ton of cash at the devs so they can produce an enormous, open-ended 2D platformer super-hero game? Something with more than three minutes of content?

Remember: If you want your friends to join you in a game of Speedrunner do not mention that the game is XBLI or you'll never get them to play a round with you.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Rock of Ages


Hitting stuff with a giant boulder is, of course, lots of fun; but between rolls you have to lay down Rampart-esque defenses in front of your own castle because there's an enemy boulder on a completely separate track that's smashing your stuff.

And that's the problem. You're defending against the enemy rock, but only during your down-time. When you're actually rolling (on the offensive) then you have to watch the enemy boulder through a special window to see how your defenses hold up, but you're not going to do that because you're too busy trying to keep your rock from flying off a cliff.

But in the end the defend-the-base elements are negligible because the game is super pretty and you get to hit stuff with a giant boulder.

(If you think this game is weird then you should see the last game that ACE made. Holy shit.)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Cardinal Quest

I'm on a download-and-play-everything gamer kick right now and I'm having a blast.
I have played so many good games, and some of the best games out there aren't being advertised, so for the next few days (weeks) I'll expose you to the better side of cheap/free indie games.

I love the roguelike genre, but I hate roguelike games.

The problem is that when most devs make roguelikes, they do it half-assed. I mean, it's not the next Street Fighter or Starcraft so who gives a shit, right? Who cares about streamlining the interface, or cleaning up the stats?

What I want roguelikes to do, at the very least, is get the basic formula right.

Cardinal Quest does that.
I'm not saying that it's the best possible game the genre could ever have, but this is what devs should start with when they make a roguelike. They should start with Cardinal Quest and work up.

Try out the demo. It's a lot of fun. The interface is minimalist. The controls are straightforward (you can play the game comfortably with a keyboard). And it's all very fast-paced. Unlike most roguelikes, it feels good to play.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Fruits 'n' Nuts

First openly gay Crip on the mic.

It's always been about bitches