No, we cannot avoid drama

Half-Life 2 isn’t anymore gold.

It seems that the post from Gabe with the announce is a fake.

I’m doing an incredible good work on this site to report fake news in the last weeks. I swear that it’s not my purpose :)

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Half-Life 2 Gold on Monday

Just a news coming from Q23: Source

Half-Life 2 is going gold on Monday and is already available for download from Steam.
Aside the fact that the servers are full…

The preload is supposed to go through various phases, so the game won’t work at least before two full weeks. It’s quite obvious that box and digital download will happen together.

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Chicken run

A fun quote about Wish:

I do remember chasing a damn chicken around and thinking to myself “they can’t be expecting the players to do this can they?”

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Random comments about DooM 3 and the future of level-design

I spent a little time in DooM 3 and I finished to use the old godmode because I wanted to check the Imp model in tranquility. Without the cheat I’m too scared and I can just shoot randomly everywhere and flee. I also cannot play for more than five minutes because I simply feel too scared. So, after the godmode I was amazed. I passed about fifteen minutes just by dragging the Imp everywhere around the level, staring the light effects of its fireball and observing the wonderful work they did with the pathing. Without esitation the monster is able to run throughout the whole level. If you are visible but unreachable it will start throwing fireballs at full speed, if you are out of sight it will run back to its original position. The only glitch I’ve noticed is about the interaction between different monsters. If you played the original DooM you’ll remember for sure that a major strategy was about making the monsters shoot and fight each other. I tried something similar in DooM 3 but not only the monsters don’t care about each other, but they also ignore any kind of damage. So you can dodge a fireball, see it land on a zombie and the zombie will be unaffected.

These screenshots are the reason about why I started to write this comment. Look at the legs, this is what really amazed me. If you notice, the left leg stays on a lower step than the right one. This means that finally the monsters are starting to react concretely with the environment. They don’t simply slide anymore on the ground with an animation attached to the movement. Instead they are starting to have real limbs, with a simulated movement that depends on the environment. I’m quite sure that this is simply based on the “ragdolls” but what I mean is that we are starting to go toward an interesting direction. What DooM 3 misses, even compared to its original version, is the “level”. The original DooM was a game strongly based on level-building more than the monsters. The walls were highly interactive and a level could change completely, transforming itself from narrow corridors to open spaces. And the open spaces are what DooM 3 misses more.

So this is what I expect as the evolution of this genre (I expect this even for MMOGs): interaction with the environment. Not only because the movements of the limbs will be simulated by an algorithm but because the movement of those limbs will be based on the physics. And the physics will be the real, only ruleset of the game. Considering strictly the gameplay this will mean that the Imp won’t simply be well-animated on a stair, but it will be able to jump on a wall, clutch on a handrail and things like this. The monsters shouldn’t be just entities walking on a more or less flat, horizontal level. Instead they should be able to walk on the ceiling, lurking everywhere around a level. What is now strictly scripted and hand-defined should be part of the IA and the physic defining the level. Instead of building using polygons, the level designers will start to use “materials”, as if building something in the reality.

The aim is to create an environment where you don’t have to anticipate and plan ahead the reactions of the players and the monsters. You will simply build a realistic environment and the gameplay in that environment will be completely open and free as in real-life. Because you’ll move from “designing” a game in all its parts, to a simulation. After this process the design itself will change and it will allow designers to really demonstrate their creativity within a game-world.

Another issue is about the negative influence of the consoles. As you all know using a gamepad to play an FPS isn’t really easy and this is affecting the level design. The levels are starting to become more and more flat and horizontal to reduce the problems of the controls on a console. I consider the sense of “verticality” one of the strongest elements for the immersion and gameplay. A huge part of the strength of the “Lord of the Rings” movies of Peter Jackson is due exactly to this vertical sense, with mind-blowing movements of camera. And this isn’t a strong element for an FPS, but for every form of art. Even in a game like DAoC one of the worst aspects is the level design, in particular on the old zones. You have hills, grass and trees. That’s all. The level itself can be lovely rendered but it lacks of any interest or creativity, completely unappealing. Instead the level design, for every kind of game, is strongly important. It becomes content because the environment is all, even more important if you also give a role in the gameplay to that environment. World of Warcraft represents a step forward on this idea, even if it doesn’t accomplish the interaction. We don’t have anymore horizontal levels, instead the verticality is present and largely used. You don’t walk on flat terrain, nor on random hills. Each small corner of the world is designed with a sense, there are uplands, long slopes, peaks and so on. You could find a small town on a lake, bordered by high mountains and, on top, a castle, accessible only from a tortuous road and a bridge on a chasm. The terrain isn’t anymore boring and random, instead it has a strong role in defining the environment. Not anymore as the “background”, but as the “subject”. Finally.

Unfortunately World of Warcraft stops with the interaction. You won’t be able to jump from a cliff to escape from a monster. Because the monster will teleport randomly at the bottom of that cliff, or simply nuke you through a hill if you try to flee and use the environment as a defence.

Now I’ll go back to observe my DooM 3 screenshot. Look at the hand of the monsters, the colors, the effects of the fireball, the shadows… For the first time raw math and artificial code are starting to challange the beauty of a painting.

No NDA helps to mitigate the hype

Do not compare SWG with WoW. One had a NDA, the other not.

My personal hype about the game comes from something I touch and like. I already commented that both the graphic and gameplay are worst than they were six months ago so it can even be true, at this point, that they’ll ruin the game for release. But it’s still not hype, it’s about a concrete game, concrete design and all the rest I can analyze and comment.

At this moment I still notice identity between the hype and the real quality. The fact that the game has no NDA is really helping the fans to have exact and not fancy expectations.

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I started to use the forum. I’ve built a new one named “Ravings” and I’ll start to collect entire discussions that I find worth of archiving. The forum should be locked, so whoever wants to comment has to link the discussion to the public one.

I’m also cooking an article titled “Stop the treadmill, I want to play”. Where I’ll suggest my solutions to fix the endless issues between the “Casual Crowd and Time Rich Crowd” as mud-dev defines them.

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Ahh, the end.

Mythic feels that the end is close. This is what appeared in their patch notes page:

Living life is fun and we’ve just begun
To get our share of the world’s delights
(HIGH!) high hopes we have for the future
And our goal’s in sight
(WE!) no we don’t get depressed
Here’s what we call our golden rule
Have faith in you and the things you do

Getting serious: the high hopes for the future work only if you have the humility of understanding the errors to see where you can improve.

The faith won’t save anyone without humility and honesty.

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Good communication

In the last few days I’m commenting how horrible is still the communication between devs and players in this genre, in particular considering how the community is an important, positive resource. This is a quote from a dev of World of Warcraft:

guys, 50 people out of thousands is not a glaring trend. this is what some companies call acceptable losses.

tigerclaw (Blizzard dev):
Some companies might say that. We don’t like the problems indicated, and we’re working on it. Please don’t assume that if you don’t see a fix in an hour, or a day, or a week, that the issue has been dropped or forgotten. This issue is important and it is getting real attention here.

I want also to thank sturbo, the client coder, because he’s doing a wonderful work. He reads attentively the messages and always answers with extremely informative posts, explaining what he’ll do, how the client works and where he thinks the problem is.

At the end I don’t care if he’ll manage to solve everything. What is important is that I know that he’s doing his best to do so. Thanks again for not have just ignored all the messages and the discussions. You are doing an awesome work.

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Lumthemad won’t rise again

Hamsters posting comments on Arcadian Del Sol blog/website:

Lumthemad won’t rise again unless Lum gets mad again. But Lum just doesn’t seem very mad anymore… in fact he seems quite content…

So true.

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