I've been playing a lot of Kerbal Space Program since it hit version 1.0 and, while I decided to take a break, I'd thought I would share a select list pictures.
Friday, August 28, 2015
Sunday, August 23, 2015
Even though there's a lot of chaff mixed in with the wheat, I still think it's a net positive, especially when one considers the fact that established publishers from countries like the USA and Japan turn out their fair share of dross on a regular basis too.
|So which is better at defeating ghosts|
an iPhone or a Galaxy?
Saturday, August 15, 2015
|The PC mod Long War|
overhauls the reboot
Unlike other mainline entries in the XCOM series, Apocalypse allows for battles in real-time with the option to adjust the speed (and even pause the action to issue orders as needed). Squads are split into six fire teams of up to six soldiers each (for a total of 36 units!). In an effort to streamline gameplay, players can issue orders to squads rather than individual units.
The air war also takes place in real time with the possibility of engagements between multiple UFOs and XCOM craft. Similar to the setting of Judge Dread, humanity has gathered into a single mega-city protected from the polluted wasteland of the outside world. The cityscape acts as a backdrop for the action, but features a number of science fiction curiosities such as skyscraper-sized hydroponic farms, a star port, and public schools that transmit knowledge directly into the brains of their students (rather than relying on things like lab work and teacher lectures).
|There's some interesting fan fiction |
that has influenced the reboot in subtle ways
It's important to note that the aliens are interdenominational rather than extraterrestrial this time around. Incursions happen when UFOs pour through one of several dimensional gateways floating above the city. The crux of the endgame revolves around building craft that can travel through these gates and take the fight to the aliens. From there players can launch highly destructive raids on alien facilities including UFO construction yards, incubation facilities, and other logistic centers. So, why isn't this the greatest XCOM of all time? Well, there's a couple of reasons...
|Notable sci-fi artist Tim White created|
sculptures which regrettably are only
seen in static screenshots
XCOM: Apocalypse may have simply been too ambitious for the era in which it was created, but an opportunity exists to capitalize on it's strengths with the upcoming dystopian near-future setting of XCOM 2. If the developers can find a way to take the best aspects of both new and old, then this soon-to-be-released entry in the franchise has the potential to outshine all the rest. Good luck Commander!...I mean Firaxis.
Saturday, August 8, 2015
Obviously adaptations of Silent Hill and Mortal Kombat spring to mind, but those aside, it's not so common to find a film that is clearly drawing from video games. Even when one is made it can be tricky to detect the influence. Take for example the art house movie "Jerry". By the director's own admission a lot of the cinematography was inspired by third person video games. This little insight explains why a lot of the shots in the film are over-the-shoulder chase views and even camera angles pointed at the sides or front of character's faces are kept in close enough that it could be achieved on a console video game controller by rotating the 3D perspective with the left analogue stick. There are also very few cuts in the film which in turn leads to shots that tend to go on, and on...and on. The longest is over a full seven minutes in length! It makes sense though when you consider in video games getting from point A to point B involves watching the whole journey (unless some kind of fast travel system is in effect).
Camera placement aside, "Children of Men" stands out as a film made whole cloth from the aesthetics sensibilities of Half-Life 2. Granted Gordon Freeman isn't in the film, nor are there any headcrabs, but the oppressive, rundown dystopian future of the movie matches extremely well with City 17. A number of dynamic single-take shots are done throughout the film which help immerse the viewer in much the same way video games do.
With the increased reliance on digital effect such as motion capture and 3-D model rendering it's easy to see how video games and motion pictures are gradually becoming one in the same. The barrel ridding sequence in "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" feels like it was ripped straight out of a video game QTE. Then again playing certain games, such as Metal Gear Solid, feels a lot like watching a movie. Of course the one big difference between the two is film watching is a passive experience while playing a video game is an interactive one, assuming you're not just watching a someone else play on Youtube or Twitch. Regardless, I think if these two forms of media feed off of each other excessively there is a real danger of both becoming a kind of cannibalistic ourobors. I'd argue a major reason why the Resident Evil movie adaptations are not good is because the games they were drawing on were in turn influenced by old George A. Romero zombie flicks. Hang on...maybe that's why there are so many zombies in media these days...soylent green is people!
Sunday, August 2, 2015
Alpha traditionally means a game has reached a playable state, although still missing a number of features. The term "pre-alpha" footage was often advertised as an indicator that the final product would look as good (if not better) upon coming to market. Since debacles like Aliens: Colonial Marines and Watch Dogs though pre-alpha can actual end up meaning the opposite.
Beta supposedly indicates when a game is more-or-less feature complete, but still requires work on code optimization, balance tweaking, graphical polish and most important of all bug squashing. I'm not a programmer by trade. That said, I understand that it's practically impossible to get the complex games of this day-and-age completely free of bugs and glitches. Still, companies really need to do a better job of distinguishing between "KS" (Known Shippable) and "YDTGDBMR" (Yo Dawg This Game Done Busted Mah Rig!). Simply put, if there's an issue that falls in the latter category the game really should not leave beta. Further adding to the obfuscation of the term is the fact that some early access titles will claim to have entered beta purely as a marketing ploy designed to increase hype for their product regardless of its actual state of development.