Posts Tagged ‘Games’

The Super Alliance of Randomly-Generated Awesomeness!

After getting burnt-out on World of Warcraft a few months ago, I eventually stumbled into Champions  Online by way of an ad or an article somewhere.  A lot of folks bash Free-to-Play games for lacking the polish of subscription-based games, and most of the F2P games I’ve played are really cheesy with the way they try to make the game a pain in the ass unless you buy a mount or some better gear.  But I gotta say that Champions is a really fun experience, even if you’re being a cheapskate.

I have to confess that out of about twenty characters and many, many hours of play, I haven’t managed to get a single toon past level 14.  It turns out that my favorite activity in the game is actually just creating characters.  You have so much control, and there are so many options!  I can literally spend hours hitting the “Randomize All” button in the character creation screen, giggling like crazy at the ridiculous costumes that it makes.  So, I’d like to present a few of these randomly-generated toons.  Let’s see how many times we can use the word “justice” in their descriptions.

Pink Champion

Super Power: Fabulousness

Accessoria

On the day before her high school graduation, Accessoria was the sole survivor of a freak explosion in a Claire’s Boutique. Since then, she has used her amazing (but inexpensive) accessories to fight for justice.

ArticMimenkhamen

Exiled to the frozen wastes more than four thousand years ago for mimery, ArticMimenkhamen silently fights for justice in a world that tries to make him talk. I would totally play this toon, and never say anything in chat. I would just use emotes. RP for the win.

Balance Buzzard

Locked in a constant struggle between his yearning for justice and his insatiable hunger for carrion, Balance Buzzard travels the land helping those in need.

Syberian

This is a toon I actually play from time to time. The frost/soviet theme actually came up randomly and I thought it was pretty…cool. I tweaked his costume quite a bit then typed up this backstory:

“A product of a super-secret project during the last years of the Cold War, cybernetic and genetic enhancements have given Alexei Chernov the ability to slow subatomic particles to a near dead stop. His first assignment was to help freeze and contain the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl. After the collapse of the Soviet Union this devout communist dedicated his life to fighting evil, demonstrating the might and goodwill of his by-gone creators.”

Syberian’s Black Costume

For when he’s emo.

J.U.M.P., The CyberShark

When times are desperate and ratings are at an all-time low, he goes too far…for Justice!

Kinky Demon

You would. You totally would. After a few beers…end of the night…maybe use a fake name and a burlap sack or two.

Pirate Bootie

Here’s another candidate for the Double-Bag Club. I’m sure she’s a very nice person. That bootie is rockin’.

The Bellhop

I kept this guy. The random parts were the color scheme, the jacket, and the ape head. The rest was meticulously crafted by moi. I’d love to see a comic book with this dude in it, perhaps as a villain.

TigerMoth

This one is totally random. I’d play this toon if I were into the neko thing, I guess.

Flyin’ FrostWolf

This is another totally random toon that is actually pretty cool. A little tweaking and this would be a good character.

The Amalgamn

He’s a hero trying to find out who he is. Where do you fit in when you’re just a pile of random crap tossed together and painted yellow? And yes, I put that “n” on the end of his name on purpose. I thought it was rad.

PoundNote

He has a pound symbol on his chest and he looks like he would pound people into the ground. Might make a decent villain or a dark, snarky hero a’la Hellboy.

The Playmate

Um…moving on….

EightBit

Nope, this one wasn’t random. I spent a considerable amount of time on homegirl here. She bad.

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Learnin’ With The PooYoos

I just had to share this video.  The game looks neat and all, and I’m sure it’s fun for tha little ‘uns, but what I love is the song in this video.  I double-dawg dare you to listen to this song and not enjoy the rest of your day.

You absolutely must hear this.


My Doodad-A-Week Project

Pretty simple plan: Make one game a week. Inspired by such projects as Game-A-Week and Thing-A-Week, I decided this will be a good way to get off my butt and start learning the various technologies and techniques I need to.  I was nudged into it by this post on Smashing, as well as recent events and the coming new year.

And I don’t plan on limiting this to just video games.  I’m going to make some board games; pencil-and-paper RPGs; games of skill involving household items.  Anything goes!

The technologies I plan on learning/using are:

  • Silverlight 4
  • Flex 4
  • jQuery
  • YUI
  • Lots of CSS
  • GameMaker
  • BlockLand
  • ASP.Net MVC
  • Python

…and whatever else that catches my fancy.

Micro-Rant: I’m sure a lot of my focus will be on mobile web games.  It’s a market that is woefully underdeveloped – just look at Apple’s mobile web games page.  I think Apple doesn’t emphasize web games/apps because they can be used by anybody with a browser.  And as much as I love their stuff, Apple is all about proprietary.  Notice there’s no Flash on the iPhone?  It’s not a technology issue.  It’s because once an app or game is written in Flash, it’s available to all platforms with little or no additional coding.  So what incentive would a developer have to write something in that god-awful Objective C and Cocoa mess if they could do it in Flash and have it available everywhere? End of Micro-Rant.

Oh by the way, I’ve ditched platform-specific mobile app design in favor of browser-based mobile apps.  We have a little ledger web site I built a few years ago where we keep track of our spending, and converting it to a mobile version was total cake.  I was using it as a test project to learn native iPhone development, but decided I was wasting my time learning something that was so proprietary.  As far as I’m concerned, coding in Objective C is like going back to punchcards – except that the punchcards are wet and you have to punch the holes with a dull pencil that’s held in your teeth.  It’s the least-convenient language I’ve actually tried to learn.  But I have two really great books on iPhone development, though, if anybody’s interested!

I don’t know how long I’ll continue the project, but I’m sure I’ll take breaks and work on more involved projects here and there.  I should make Hauler my first release, as it should only take a few hours polish it up and get it playable.

Edit: I’m expanding the scope of this endeavor.  It was originally just Game-A-Week, but I’d like to not be limited to games.  I have a lot of little tools and handy things I’d like to build and this weeklong development cycle is perfect for them.

Battlefield Heroes: The Uninstall

Sadly, I had to face the facts and uninstall BF Heroes the other night. Call me old-fashioned, but I just can’t hang with the aimbot crowd.

I knew there had to be a reason why I was getting pwned so bad in virtually every FPS I tried! I’m not the most coordinated guy in the world, but it was pretty ridiculous how quick those guys were putting me out of commission. I’d heard about aimbots, but I thought programs like PunkBuster had stopped that kind of stuff back in the CounterStrike days. Guess I was wrong about that.

I have tons of other beefs with BFH, and I mentioned a few in my initial review. Just a couple:
– To get to the Options menu you have to exit the game. So if you want to tweak your mouse sensitivity or keybindings, etc., you’re in for quite a wait while it restarts the game and finds a server for you.
– No changing class mid-game. This is a pain.

So that’s fine…let ’em aimbot all they want.  Pretty soon we’ll have aimbots in real life anyway.

Battlefield Heroes

I’ve been eagerly anticipating Battlefield Heroes for quite a while now – since late 2007 I think? Anyway, I’m a little disappointed but I’m still having fun playing the game.

First off, it’s another one of those ultra-twitchy first-person-shooters that requires you to shoot your opponents in the face twenty-seven times before you can actually kill them. I thought maybe, for once, a sniper rifle or heavy machine gun could maybe do some real damage in an FPS.

I have found that the most effective way to ensure kills is to run people over with a jeep or kubelwagen. It’s fun, and it seems to really annoy people. So they got that part of the game right, I suppose. You hit somebody with your car – they die.

But you see, the lack of powerful weapons is one of the ways they get you to come back for more in this new entry in the Battlefield franchise: you earn more Victory Points the more you play, and you can spend those points on upgrades so you can do more damage. I think it’s a neat game mechanic, and borrows nicely from the RPG genre, but when I play FPS games, it’s to get away from the RPG grind. (I just left WoW a while ago.)

I wish I could spend some of those Victory Points to upgrade my jeep. I’d put on some rollbars, some spikes on the front, maybe a horn that plays Dixie.

The game suffers from really terrible vehicle physics just like its predecessors. When you’re driving a jeep around, it has that same old Hot Wheels car on a stick feeling. Like the car has but one wheel and it’s located dead center of the vehicle. Don’t get me started about the airplanes. Atrocious to fly. Simply awful and they ruin what could have been a really fun aspect of the game.

Another thing I have trouble with is the generally unpolished feel of the game. I can understand an indy-game feel, but in some areas it’s sub-indy quality. Jumping physics, for instance, are just plain weird. Depending on the angle of the terrain you’re standing on, that’s the direction in which you jump. So while trying to hop up some rocks to get to a good sniping spot, you instead end up jumping backwards because of the slant of the rocks. It’s another bizarre tick that detracts from the fun. Another place where polish would help is when you’re driving over tall grass – it sticks up clear through the floorboards of jeeps. Things like that could use some lookin’ in to.

And finally, I have a beef with the way they portray the obviously Axis-inspired faction in the game. They make them way too cool, frankly. Everybody knows the Nazis had some pretty talented designers make their costumes uniforms, but this game glamorizes that aspect a bit too much. I think the factions should have been a lot more ambiguous as to their origin/political leanings.

I think that more than half of the players have the word “ninja” in their character names. It’s kind of like the Death Knight syndrome in WoW – all of them seem to have “Death” in their name.

I like the character development aspect of the game. I don’t like the fact that you can’t change class without leaving a battle. I’m very switchy in that respect and would like a little more flexibility.

I don’t really have an opinion about the micro-transaction aspect of the game. You can apparently spend real money to buy various goodies like clothes, etc. Fortunately you can’t buy items that affect gameplay (such as better weapons, armor, etc.)

Aside from my gripes, the game is quite fun once you get past the whole “sniping isn’t actually sniping” and “you just took an anti-tank round to the chest and are somehow still shooting at me” aspect of the game. It’s free, and it’ll probably give me plenty of giggles for the next couple of months.

A Change in Direction

I’m really damned bored with the game as it is right now.  I’m not going to finish it just to finish it.  In its current state, it would be an exercise in programming tedium.  It’s time to bring in the creative big guns: my kids.

I was thinking about making it the same sort of game, but more action-focused, and with the boys (9 and 7 year-olds) doing the art work.  Max came up with a great name – “Space Drawn”.  We might put it on a notebook paper background (but that’s been done before…we’ll see).

I also want to come up with some unique angles on the game play.  The mechanics of the thing needs to be new and different.

Solving the velocity problem

Last night I fiddled with my game’s physics a bit and I came close to a method of providing “drift” to the player’s ship when you change direction and add thrust.  The previous version instantly changed direction but maintained the same speed – not realistic, not elegant, and highly dangerous.  (Instant 180 degree turns would probably turn your crew and cargo into a nice thick paste coating the rear wall of your ship.)

Here’s the solution I came up with after playing Three Card Monty with the variables (I am not a math person by any means)…

currentHeading – ((directionShipIsPointing – currentHeading) * arbitraryThrustValue) = newHeading

This works great for the most part…but a problem arises when you turn the ship from, say, 5 degrees to 350 degrees…my algorithm interprets that as a change of 355 degrees, and thus the ship bounces backward for a second before coming to its correct course.  I won’t bother posting the actual code here since it’s WRONG!

Oy!  What to do?  Fortunately, Avi Pilosof just posted a thorough, illustrated and wonderful set of blog entries about this very thing.  I cought it via Silverlight Cream.  So I’m going through that and I’ll rework my physics using vectors instead of basing everything on rotations.  This will help me out with Second Life programming, too, I’m sure.