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Birds and Video Games

For the first time ever, I own a smartphone. It's an HTC Evo something or other. I've found it has quite a few uses, such as checking my Facebook and email while at work. Texting my roommates about random stuff that happens at work. Reading various articles while at work. Checking Planetside 2 test server stuff... while at work.

Most importantly though, taking pictures of grackles while at work. Its uses in reducing productivity are immense. In all seriousness though, being able to check these sorts of things when I'm away from my computer and in a moment of not having much else to do, it is a very handy device, and saves me time. Run-ons don't even care! Here's a random screenshot of something!

This can actually happen.

There really are a lot of birds in DT3.

Those Extra Things
Gate 5 is almost all based on the level design with very few major things happening until near the end. It follows closer to Super Metroid's method of progression in simply letting the player figure out where their new power up would allow them to go. It's split up in 3 major sections plus a hub. The only help given is which of these sections the player should be in.

There's times when I feel something extra would greatly enhance the player's engagement, even if the extra bit doesn't really have any major purpose. For example, in Gate 5, there's a scripted scenario around getting the Morph Ball. That segment of gameplay could just as easily work with the player simply grabbing the upgrade and that being the end of it. How do you guys approach situations like this?

A Thing About This
Anyone played Fez? It was that little platform where you shift the world around 90 degrees. So the link above is a review that are my thoughts almost exactly. While the review is a bit satirical and overly hateful at times, it hits on my main issue with the game. I disagree with the bit about the music being bad though, the reviewer seemed like he was getting his hate on during that segment. I felt the ambient music fit well with the empty, shallow gameplay.

But that aside, remember Ys3? It was pretty awesome and this remix does well in reminding me of it.

And while we're on the topic of music, Smooth McGroove did this.


Writers Block

I can't hold off this post any longer cause I'd like to mention a new LP. Damn writers block. Does that count for blogging? I'll say yes. Before I go any further, I'll be out of town and unavailable this Wednesday, Thursday, and half of Friday.

The male grackle mentioned in the last post is almost eating out of my hand. He has no problems running within a few inches of me now. What's fun and interesting for me, is after he's done eating, he'll stick around and try to communicate. This is a behavior I've found that's common with ravens and crows after having extended contact with a human. While we can't effectively communicate, I find it nifty they try.

Most of the birds around my workplace have paired up now. I don't know if the above bird found a mate yet, but often times when he approaches, so does a female, and it's the same one each time. He was also the first to greet me when I came to work yesterday.

A DT3 Demo LP
WhattayaBrian, who did a DT1 LP some time ago, has taken on doing a recorded run through the DT3 demo. It is mostly unedited, though at times, he'll bring the video to chipmunk voice speeds when repetitive actions are taken, such as failing to get an item or dying repeatedly. He does voice commentary throughout it and is easy on the ears. I've watched all of it so far, especially considering I'm in DT3 mode and seeing how someone plays (with commentary) can be the best feedback. Early level tweaks have occured due to his LP as well as implementing some of his good suggestions, as well as some minor changes due to my more asinine UI decisions.

In episode 8 of this, he streamed his gameplay to me while he was recording so we could do dual commentary. That was a lot of fun and it may happen again before the LP is over.

Sometime in the coming month, I should be doing another DT3 video, showcasing a few things.

Edited In (I've been meaning to mention this)
Some time after the trilogy is complete (maybe a couple months), I'll be giving out the project file for all 3 games. There's no reason to keep it to myself after I'm done with the game. But, and I'll say this again when the event occurs, I will not be supporting it. There's a lot going on with it and I will be giving very little help on how to use the project. I may have a document along with it that highlights a few tidbits, but that will be it. The code, specifically for DT1, is pretty bad. It's commented well. (Though that isn't consistent throughout.) I figure this question may come up, so there we go. Plus I've seen that people have searched for 'Distorted Travesty Engine'. There were 3 searches on that topic this month so far.

You will need to have the Standard version of Game Maker 8.1. The Lite version is not compatible with any of the DT games.


Progress Comes With A Voice

The birds are all back. My 3 birds that usually hung around my work are all running about their daily routines and periodically stopping by to ask for food. Even the bird that ate from my hand is back daily now, so that's really nice to see again. One of them doesnt approach too often, but she's often seen collecting materials for building a nest. Most of the times that I see her on the ground, she's got a beak full of grass. Even one of the males have opened up to me and been closing the distance.

DT3 Progress
Gate 5 development has started recently, and like the times I started other gate levels, I actually put the progress on hold for about a week to address other problems with the game or just things that have been settling for awhile. On the Gate 5 stuff, I've had a lot of help from Ano0maly on making the Samus set more interesting, but without overpowering it compared to the Megaman set. He's been a lot of help and I'm sure his input will be great for the rest of the gate level.

I don't really like it, but like all things, there are a few exceptions. A youtube user who goes by SmoothMcGroove does acapella for video game music and it sounds really good. For me, the best goes to his parody of a song by Fall Out Boy. This is something pretty awesome and fun to listen to. I guarantee it'll bring you a smile.

Something I've Been Asked on Occasion
Has been about my background with game development or multimedia in general. My first 'real' dive into games was with C++, which after having messed with quite a handful of languages, I feel it is a horrid language to start someone with. The progression the class went was:
- Hello World
- Variables, Strings, Input, Output
- Structs
- Classes
Compress this all into about 6 weeks in a class intended for people who have never seen a line of code. There's a few small details mixed in the list above, but those are the main points. For people this class was intended for, it went far too fast for most of us to understand what we were really doing. Going into object classes, it wasn't explained well what that was really doing or the power behind object orient programming. Having taken a look at the curiculum at a later date, I realized it wasn't the instructor who was giving us hell.

Visual Basic, or even Javascript, (to me anyway) is a better language to start someone with.

After that, I went into art... yep... It was world modeling and texture painting. I really enjoyed texture painting, though this was before the days of normal mapping, parallax mapping, and all the millions of other layers we have today. I enjoyed painting the diffuse map. A lot of my 3D days were spent in Unreal, making maps and scripts for that and trying to make the Karma math engine not suck. (Unreal Engine 2.5) I enjoyed making maps that featured a series of Tomb Raider like traps, one leading into the other. I'd upload those maps with the associated scripts here, but those have sadly long been lost into digital nothingness.

After that, I discovered the magic of frien scripting. And that's where we are now.