1. Put your username in image search.
2. Select “animated” under search tools.
3. Post result.
Out of boredom…
1. Put your username in image search.
2. Select “animated” under search tools.
3. Post result.
Out of boredom…
So, in my many endeavors in trying to make it as a developer (games or otherwise), I’ve met many an interesting person taking classes at my local community college. One of them, another chap by the name of Dave, happens to have some ties with the Video Game industry. Why he’s taking classes for game design at a community college is beyond me, but rather than just wave at him from the other side of the computer lab and return to coding my big project™ like I typically do, I brought my laptop over to him and started up a conversation.
He likes the PS3 and his PSVita, so I wasn’t surprised when the conversation turned to the recent PS4 conversation. Now, when I saw the announcement, I was quick to quip that Sony was just releasing a Home Theater PC. The next day, though, an idea popped into my head: Sony’s scared of the Steam Box. I mean, the Steam Box is essentially a HTPC tailored to playing games. The PS4 is essentially a HTPC tailored to playing games, except it doesn’t run Windows or Linux. (Of course, with the PS4’s specs, you damn well bet someone will try to hack a distro onto there.)
Well, anyway, I brought up my idea of Sony being afraid of the Steam Box, and his response was that everyone was afraid of the Steam Box. Let’s be honest about the last 5 years of video games: it’s been the least consumer-friendly and least industry-friendly time in the history of gaming. Bloated budgets leading to games needing to sell 5 million in order to make a profit. Studios closing because one game didn’t well well enough. Indie devs being unable to afford the ability to patch game-breaking bugs. 600 man teams spoiling the broth of their own games. And that’s the industry half! Consumers have had to deal with Project 10-dollar online pass bullshit, long install times, ridiculous DRM practices (on consoles, even!), indie devs being unable to fix the broken games they’re playing, the cramming of multiplayer into places where it doesn’t belong, and a lot of games just getting relatively homogenized. No wonder the PC indie scene is exploding. It probably helps that the PC is an open platform, and the industry moving to open platforms as opposed to sticking with the closed platforms of the console holders would fix a few of these issues. (Most of the rest will require that the industry will learn some discipline, sadly.) To be honest, it’s a surprise that an ecosystem of competing closed platforms has lasted as long as it did. Hell, the Blu-Ray/HD-DVD wars were short. As were VHS vs. Betamax. The PC Wars of the 80s came and went, and it almost seems like the Smartphone Wars have been all but decided with Apple repeating its past mistakes.
Of course, other Dave didn’t play a lot of PC games. It’s not uncommon, between the (falsely-earned) reputation of needing to have the most cutting edge graphics card and the fact that he was a busy man who probably squeezed in his gaming on whatever portable devices he could carry. It also had to do with Steam, as he feared what would happen if Valve went under and he no longer had access to his games. While I tried to calm his fears by bringing up Gabe’s Mythical Killswitch™, it did bring up an interesting point that I wish we discussed: the Video Game industry doesn’t do a good job preserving its past art. Now, this problem has been discussed at length by many people more knowledgeable of the industry than I. But something popped into my head while my mind was on that track: we’ve never had an art form, before video games (and I’m not going to get into the “Are video games art?” argument here), that was so reliant on science before. I mean, video games are just data. Kilo- and mega- and giga- and terrabytes of data. So many lines of code and so many audio/visual assets go into a game. And those lines of code are written by people that wouldn’t stereotypically be called “artists”. They’re guys like me studying Computer Science who could probably be called neckbeards. I mean, sure, art has explored concepts that probably gave science concepts to explore, and science has helped create new tools for art. But they’ve never enjoyed the symbiotic relationship as they have in the medium that is video games.
That symbiosis is confusing to the preservationists. Preserving digital data is difficult. We’ve only had access to computers for close to 60-70 years. You try finding one of the programs that ran on ENIAC. Yes, they used punch cards back then. And most of them were probably pretty beaten up. Preserving digital data is tricky; there’s the chance that the devices trying to preserve that data can and will fail. Just ask anyone who maintains a server for a website. How do we preserve our history when our history is all digital? I mean, even in the 80s, our art form was digital, even if the delivery method was SneakerNet. Not to mention that trying to copy the data off of their delivery methods opens you up to getting sued by the console makers (even if they’re not likely to go after small game). It’s clear to me that we can’t preserve the distribution methods that got the games that are now iconic into our hands. And we’re not allowed to preserve the data those distribution methods contained. So now what? We can’t just let our history die.
Well, to return to the open platform rail, open sourcing your game is one way to make sure it sticks around forever. Hell, look at Doom. You’re probably surprised that it’s open source, but it is. John Carmack likes to open source his games and engines after a certain frame of time has passed. And look at the results: Doom runs on everything now. Anyone that wants to can find a decent port of Doom for whatever device made by a friendly dev. There is the issue of what would happen if the server hosting the repository were to die, admittedly. But open source is funny like that, in that you’ll likely have found your FOSS project has made its way to Github somehow. So, someone somewhere will be happy to repost your work.
So, after an interesting talk about games and classes, I had to get going and leave the other Dave behind. But he gave me a lot to think about. And a lot of seeds of other things to think about. And it helped reinforce why I love this medium so much and want to do so much for it.
So, to kind of give me an incentive to write in at least one of my Tumblr blogs, I thought I’d make up a little segment where I take an app that I’m using in my daily life or found interesting and give it a slight look over and critique it. Today? Well, I used to be an avid SugarSync user. (Key word: used to be. Dunno why I tapered. Probably a lack of Linux support after I started to use Ubuntu more.) And recently, they launched their big redesign. New apps, new everything. The old app was serviceable, but it lacked features that competitors have. So, how does it stack up? Well, let’s start from the first thing people see…
Well, I certainly haven’t posted on here in forever. Time to make up for that a bit.
As someone with probably too much fondness for the Android platform (my Twitter is filled with me ranting about Square-Enix’s poor work on Chaos Rings for Android), my ears perked up a couple of months ago when Terry Cavanagh released an Android port of an old freeware game of his. Who’s Terry Cavanagh, you may ask? Why, surely you’ve heard of VVVVVV! Hell, it was my first Let’s Play series! (As shit of a start that was, it was my start.) No? Then why not Super Hexagon? That’s been making waves on Steam and iOS.
Anyway, Don’t Look Back. I downloaded this the day it came out. Then this game reminded me why I hate virtual buttons. See, as simplistic of a platformer this game is (move to the right, jump over or shoot enemies), Terry Cavanagh has a bit of a sadistic streak, as evidenced by his more popular games there. Sure, Don’t Look Back might hold some deeper meaning than those two games, as the game revolves around a guy who just lost someone and who repeatedly jumps off of cliffs. (Guy must be in purgatory or something.) That said, given the difficulty that this game presents, it’s tough to notice the symbolism when all you’re focusing on is how to deal with the dudes this one boss summons so you can jump on the needed platforms to shoot him in the head.
So, I put the game down for a bit, then got a Nexus 7 for my birthday. (Halloween, for those curious.) After my obsession with the games from the two most recent Humble Android Bundles had passed (SpaceChem saved my sanity during the blackout induced by Hurricane Sandy), I turned back to Don’t Look Back. Somehow, the larger screen helped a bit. Also, less worry about battery drain. Before, I was stuck in this one dark area. Now, I’m stuck on the second boss. PROGRESS! And with the controls no longer proving to be an issue, I was actually able to enjoy myself.
“So, this is a nice post about an interesting game I haven’t heard of before,” the imaginary version of my audience I hear in my head saying. “What does this have to do with Android?” I’m glad no one asked.
I have vague memories when the game hit Google Play that Terry Cavanagh would use this as a barometer to see if his games were worth bringing to Android. At the time, I was thinking VVVVVV. And playing Don’t Look Back on my Galaxy Nexus made me think that MAYBE VVVVVV wouldn’t work too well. (Of course, writing this makes me reconsider my opinion with a small rider attached, that rider being that I won’t play it on my tiny phone. Heh… a phone with a nearly 5-inch screen is “tiny”…)
But I didn’t consider Super Hexagon at the time. And having seen Super Hexagon in all its seizure-inducing glory, I really want to play it while I’m on the throne. And looking at Google Play right now, Don’t Look Back is in the 10K-50K install range. I don’t know the ratio of people who played Don’t Look Back on PC vs VVVVVV on PC, but if it was 10 people who played VVVVVV for every 1 person who played Don’t Look Back, I could still see a decent amount of people interested in his newer works on Android assuming the same ratio. But, of course, this is all built on heresay.
TL;DR: I just want to play Super Hexagon on my Galaxy Nexus. I can only imagine that the market exists.
I normally don’t use my Tumblog to get political, but WTF?
Seriously, Dolby… fuck you and the engineers who did a shitty job making an audio codec that doubles the size of my videos.
“When asked his favorite novel in an interview shown yesterday on the Fox News Channel, Mitt Romney pointed to “Battlefield Earth,” a novel by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. “I’m not in favor of his religion by any means,” Mr. Romney, a Mormon, said. “But he wrote a book called ‘Battlefield Earth’ that was a very fun science-fiction book.””
— Romney Favors Hubbard Novel aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha That’s it, from now on I’ll cease my attempts to be non-partisan on the various political reblogs which have crossed my dashboard recently. As an aspiring novelist and occasional sci-fi dabbler, I entreat you, America: keep this maniac out of office. Thanks in advance.
Thought I’d crosspost this from my other blog…
In light of Apple recently being granted an injunction on the Galaxy Nexus, and all the rage that followed, I felt the inspiration to update one of my two ailing blogs. So, with that in mind, here are the reason why I, as a lone gun developer, will never develop for iOS.
I’m surprised this is a topic I keep dwelling on, but being unemployed does mean money is something that is always on your mind. And while I was on an episode of Goozex’s gaming podcast long ago to discuss this very issue, a game I finished up recently made me think of things again.
A few weeks ago, I started an irregular segment on my YouTube channel called “What Am I Playing?”, which I did so I could do quick looks at games. One of those games I did a WAIP video of was EvilQuest. And while I nitpick the game alot in that video, it certainly was an enjoyable game. I finished it recently, and my completion time clocked in at 3 hours. Now, I won’t discuss the ending (I actually used Desura to get in touch with the dev over monetizing the video I made, and he said sure as long as I don’t show the final boss or ending), but I will say this: I paid $2 for that game, and it last me 3 hours. Meanwhile, I paid $50 for The Darkness 2 and finished the single player for that in 7 hours (and you could probably say the comics I got with preordering the game were a nice value add). Something is screwy there.
When income is as sparse as mine, it almost doesn’t make sense to be buying AAA games at their $50+ price point unless it’s Skyrim, and that’s only because of the fact that you can’t actually “finish” Skyrim (or so the old saying goes). While indie games are more likely to fall to Sturgeon’s Law than the larger studios, at least you aren’t out a huge chunk of change when you buy an indie stinker. And it’s not like the larger studios are exempt from making bad games. I had planned to make a Let’s Play of The Darkness 1 and put it out when The Darkness 2 came out. But I wasn’t enjoying myself replaying The Darkness 1, and if I’m not enjoying myself, my audience isn’t enjoying themselves. And it’s a shame, too. I remember the game having great storytelling chops, and while I got up to one of those great moments before deciding to scrap the project, the rest of the game felt so outdated.
While I mentioned on the earlier linked Goozcast episode that you can get more value out of a game by replaying it, the thing about that is that I have to wantto replay that game. Referring back to The Darkness 1, there were several moments in the game that made me WANT to replay it. Meeting Jenny for the first time, Jackie’s suicide, the ending sequence where you not having control over Jackie is meant to symbolize the fact that Jackie no longer has control over himself… those were all great moments. Those made me WANT to replay the game, even if actually replaying the game was a chore that I didn’t want any part of. Meanwhile, there wasn’t anything quite on par with those moments in the sequel. Sure, they really kept me guessing if Jackie was delusional, and it was a cute touch for them to throw in a bunch of Darkness comics in Jackie’s room in those mental asylum sections, but I don’t think there will be anything in that game that’ll make me wax nostalgic. After all, waxing nostalgic is what got me to replay Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door prior to coming on that episode of the Goozcast.
While I likely had an entirely different opinion on things by the end of that Goozcast episode, there’s still the issue of what a guy has to do when they have to make every dollar count. I certainly don’t spend $5 on a cup of coffee that’ll disappear in a half-hour. I dislike going to the movies alone and spending $12 on a ticket for a 2 hour movie, although going with a friend allows you to be able to talk about your shared experience for much longer after the movie ends. People use these things to say that it’s alright for games as a medium to be expensive, but this medium isn’t coffee or movies. It’s games. It’s something entirely different. Just because it works there doesn’t mean it should work here. And in the long run, it’s only the AAA studios that are hurting themselves by adhering to that $50-$60 price point, since cheap-asses like me will just buy what comes out of the indie studios at a much more reasonable price. At least then I’m only spending $2 on a short experience.
I recently bought a Hauppauge internal capture card. (Internal instead of the HD-PVR because it was cheaper and I don’t mind prying open my computer.) After seeing that it was near worthless for capturing SD footage from a console (All I’m capable of, since I don’t own an HDTV for my personal use), it’s been mostly dead weight. Then when the Humble Indie Bundle for Android hit, I had an idea. My capture card has HDMI in. My Galaxy Nexus has a 720p screen and supports HDMI out via an MHL adapter. You see where this is going: I wanted to make videos of me playing Android games. I figured it was mostly unexplored area (people seem to have it in their heads that Android doesn’t “do” games), so I’d be a pioneer.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t that simple. Actually, scratch that: it’s impossible. My capture card may have HDMI in, but it doesn’t support HDCP. And all that HDMI mirroring that my phone is supposed to do? Locked by HDCP. God damn DRM.
Okay, so Let’s Plays are technically a legal grey area, but I don’t monetize my Let’s Plays because I know this. I don’t want to make money off of work that’s derivative of someone else’s. (Now if I ever make my own game, I might use my channel to promote it.) But that still doesn’t change this one fact: DRM does nothing to inconvenience people with unethical intentions. While Let’s Plays may be in that legal grey area, I would argue that they are not unethical. All I am doing is sharing my gaming experience with the people who would care to watch, and not everyone has the same experience playing through a game. The game is essentially getting free publicity. And lord knows that Android games need that free publicity. (See: earlier comments on Android’s image.)
This isn’t even entirely about my Let’s Plays. My mother, my poor techno-illiterate mother, has complained to me recently about all the times she has to reactivate her Nook for some arcane reason, because she’d keep losing her ebooks. She isn’t a thief. Hell, she probably doesn’t even know how to use torrents. But if she did, this wouldn’t be happening. She’d have DRM-free epub files on her Nook ready and waiting for her to read.
Hell, as long as I’m on this bender, I lost some game soundtracks to iTunes’ dumb FairPlay DRM oh so long ago, as well as decent working copies of TMBG’s The Spine (which I wouldn’t mind repurchasing, since it’s TMBG, but it’s still annoying). I refuse to buy Mass Effect 3 because it isn’t coming to Steam, and while Steam is DRM, it at least provides a good service for me putting up with that DRM. I could go on and on, but you get the point.
I can somewhat understand why they won’t let me use my capture card to record what’s being mirrored from my phone. Somewhat. There’s all of, what, 3 phones now with 720p screens? Out of thousands? I have to ask the fat cats who can afford to spend millions on lobbying and tying down their customers but claim that piracy is hurting their bottom line: who the fuck would want to pirate a film recorded in WVGA or whatever weird resolution the new iPhones are?
Seriously, there’s no reason for crap like this.