Happy Holidays and new developments

Sheesh. It’s been almost two years since I’ve started blargging. Don’t fret, work has still been done on my part over the past few months.

I finally did a “full length” machinima piece.

I sorta became the first person to do a SWAT 4 machinima.

I got angry with a few games.

And now I’m interested in parodying pro Counter-Strike frag videos.

Of course there’s a few more things that I’m somewhat obligated to work on that haven’t been touched. But most of that is because I simply do not have my super awesome all-powerful desktop with me so I cannot run hefty programs or games.

Aaaaaaand maybe I forgot to Dropbox a few things and now I can’t be arsed to retrieve whatever HD they’re on.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand maybe I began another hiatus on writing anything on here.

I’ll do better, I promise.

Things are happening. Stay tuned (yeah right).

Merry Christmas Happy holidays.

Quick Review: Door Kickers Alpha (Lite)

A quick look at an alpha of an alpha.

I’ve never funded a Kickstarter campaign for a video game before, but I nearly did for a few of them. KillHouse Game’s Door Kickers had my wallet out, but the nature of the game turned me off. They, like all the other campaigns I was interested in, desired to restore the elements found in the heyday of tactical shooters to a modern gaming platform. In this case, it would be a 2D top-down tactical planning sim inspired by Rainbow Six and SWAT. Although this isn’t a game I would play regularly (for certain reasons), I felt obligated as a RS/SWAT veteran to at least check out the free alpha.

Note: The Alpha 3 “Lite” version was released well before the early access version on Steam. I hadn’t played this version found on their website until recently. Because of obvious reasons, I’ll only be talking about the core portions of the game that are clearly shared across all versions.

 

Door Kickers is both a real time and – well, I guess you could say “turn based” – game. You start each level by planning the route and actions of your SWAT troopers. This ranges from navigating through a simple room and eliminating targets on the way or breaching rooms from multiple angles, tossing in a flashbang, and letting one trooper sweep the room as the other provides cover. All of this is conveyed through a planning interface that is available throughout the mission. When you’re ready to execute the plan, you press play and watch your decisions unfold.

Of course, you don’t have to do it that way. Routes can be changed mid-mission and you can even control the current direction that a trooper is looking at as they’re moving. For more complex levels with multiple rooms and more enemies, each room can have its own plan as you move through the building, adapting to changing situations. It carry its title if there were no doors to kick, and there are plenty. In addition, you can place breaching charges, look under the door with a snake cam, and much more later on, I’m sure. Don’t forget about tossing flashbangs to disorient enemies in a room and breaking your orders up into a series of steps to activate on the fly.

Even a plan as crazy as this will work.

At this point, you could almost go as far to say that Door Kickers is simply a SWAT RTS of some sort, much like SWAT 2. But this feeling quickly goes away as you realize that missions are graded on a simple three star scale. The time it takes to complete the mission carries the most, if not all, of the weight towards your final score. This is not at all a bad thing. Quick and efficient planning was always a staple of tactical shooters of the late 90’s. But the structure of replaying missions for a better time and score seems to mirror that of a mobile or tablet game than a tactical shooter tribute.

Regardless, that is the folly of the “modern gaming platform”, which is what Door Kicker‘s is trying to latch onto with a both beloved and dying genre. It’s a novel and very entertaining attempt, as far as Alpha 3 “Lite” sits. What lies on the other side? Trooper customization, inventories, more tools, levels, a tutorial, maybe even a campaign story. Multiplayer came to mind while playing, it could work, possibly. Door Kickers is fun and surely seems easy to build on in the future.

You can pre-order it on its website or play the early access version on steam right away.

Quick Review: Rainbow Six: Lockdown

Prepare to feel like you’ve been locked down in your seat against your will

Right. So if you ever read this “blog” (who the hell would?), you will know that I’ve recently started doing these Let’s Play thingies on YouTube. The first victim of said series has been Rainbow Six: Lockdown, if you don’t already know of course. Go watch em, don’t read this crap. Hell, don’t even watch anything. Just promise me you won’t retreat back to this dark era in the Rainbow Six series. You probably won’t, but for the sake of a much-needed history lesson for Ubisoft, let’s give this a try.

I mention the videos because, much like the average player’s experience, the beginning is depressing and bland. Making these videos, especially the first two episodes, was just so bleh. Despite not even finishing the game yet (part 9 of 16 or so) I can already conclude that this is just a bad game.

Let’s get “tactical”

What made this more depressing was how great the Rainbow Six series was before Lockdown. Rainbow Six was a prized tactical shooter regarded in the way ARMA is today. There hadn’t been an entry known to lag as significantly as Lockdown was.

Why is this? First of all: the story. The main issue here is that there is one. At the time, I don’t think anyone desired a real personal story from the Rainbow Six franchise. Lockdown tries this anyway by generally keeping the same rotation of squadmates every few missions. With this, the tactical planning overlays that forever had been a staple of the series is now gone. A somewhat intuitive first-person squad command system has been put in place of both the pre-planning stages and complex in-game squad orders. Some would say this is a step forward in efforts to streamline, modernize, and broaden the scope of the game. While that’s a completely different and controversial topic, we all know that no one went to a Rainbow Six game for a streamlined experience.

Okay, whatever. So does it work well? Not really. Most of the time, yes. But even then, why would you want to tactically use your team when you could just run in guns blazing and complete each mission in 15 minutes? Seriously. No elements of realism prevented me from slaughtering my useless team and ramboing through waves of putrid enemies to the end of the mission in 15 minutes. I surely encountered more deaths than someone who would’ve been playing “tactically”, but that would have instituted a much longer experience, something that Lockdown thankfully doesn’t force you to do.

There’s also a certain number of little issues that amount to big headaches when encountered frequently. It seems like every time you do an action that has anything to do with a door, you are prevented from firing for a split second. That second is long enough for an enemy directly in front of that door to shoot your face clean off your little Rainbow head. Another headache is the constant witnessing of just how dumb the AI is. They often take up positions in corners with their back to you, waiting to die. And that’s after staring you down while you kill the rest of his buddies in the room. In addition, the AI has also been given the special ability of binocular vision and can end your terrorist killing career with a single shot to the forehead from across the environment.

The visuals are alright. Bland, maybe, but let’s not get nitpicky now.

As for the core gameplay: it’s standard. The guns shoot and make bang bang sounds. Bullets hit objects and people and they go boom or scream. There’s not much to describe as it is par for the course for first-person shooters, even more today than it was back in 2005.

So just don’t buy it, if you can even still find it these days. The console version is much better I hear. But if you’re looking to get Rainbow Six: Lockdown for the consoles it came out on, maybe you have a bigger issue than whether or not to purchase this game.

CS:GO

Two CS:GO posts in a row!

So this time I actually compared a weapon that appears in both CSS and CS:GO, the M249. Why the M249? Because it’s the only weapon that can easily show the change in the way recoil works between the games. I was actually surprised in the difference of recoil.

CSS seems to rely more on punching the player’s viewmodel, focusing on making recoil the player’s own fault. CS:GO’s viewmodel punching looks more subtle yet makes the cone spread wider and the recoil more uncontrollable. While it’s uncontrollable if you aim normally at a target, you should get a better shot if  you aim further down as the recoil settles above the crosshair after the initial burst.

Is it more realistic? Maybe.

Is it hard to get used to? Definitely.

CS:GO Released

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

GO GO GO!

Heyo! Yesterday, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive was released on Steam and I was able to grab it right before the clock struck midnight. I’ve been playing the hell out of it, and while I have no first impression to share at the moment, I do have some interesting mishaps to share. I recorded this while testing fraps in game.

The first “bug” is hard to explain. Many guns seem to shoot at an odd offset after firing the first burst. Whatever it is, it never acted that way in previous CS versions as far as I can tell.

The second is just damn weird and has happened to me countless times. The animation finished but the reloading didn’t. I switched weapons at the end of it but normally the weapon reloads a bit before the animation is done anyway (NORMALLY).

That’s all for now. Look forward to more on CS:GO and other things I haven’t finished up yet.

Quick Review: Bullet Run

http://cf.shacknews.com/images/20120522/bullet_run_2_22154.nphd.jpg

Sure looks like a blast, doesn’t it?

A few moons ago (July 31st), a new free-to-play shooter popped up on Steam. Usually, free or not, I wouldn’t jump directly to the download button without previous knowledge of a game. Yet Bullet Run gave me a good first impression as I only needed to read a line or two of features before I began installing.

If you haven’t already guessed: Bullet Run is a free-to-play MMOFPS developed by ACONY Games and published by Sony Online Entertainment. So what makes Bullet Run different from the other, now plentiful, FPS MMOs out there?

Bullet Run’s premise is an interesting one. Instead of two or more generic military factions fighting for the world’s resources in nondescript war zones, Bullet Run is actually a deathmatch reality show. Two friendly sounding chaps commentate while you pla- er, I mean kill each other. Unfortunately, “interesting” is as good as the back story gets. While refreshing at best, the commentators repeat the same ridiculous lines throughout the game and the reality show portion only serves as an excuse to host kill fests across the internet.

http://img.uptodown.net/screen/windows/bigthumb/bullet-run-2.jpg

“I hope the commentator’s booth is bullet-proof.”

Thankfully, the story does add more than just window dressing around the gameplay. Taunting and killing your foes in stylish ways earns you more fans (alas, it is a reality show) and fame. Gaining more fans gets you more experience which, of course, levels you up. Levels do not show power themselves as they unlock more weapons, equipment, and appearance items. You can also equip up to 4 abilities that unlock as you attain more points in a round. These can range between deployable turrets, akimbo pistols, and burning knuckles that do extra damage up close.

The gunplay though, is lackluster. The weapons themselves sound flat and repetitive. This is particularly apparent when multiple guns fire at the same time, which seemingly creates a lackadaisical symphony of dry puffs. One redeeming aspect of the weapons is the Gears of War-like active reload when pressing reload again at the right time will make reloading faster. If you miss the active reload though, your weapon will jam and reloading will be a lot slower. Overall, weapons feel weak when firing and lack the punch normally expected when using a firearm, even for video game standards.

http://www.gamegrin.com/files/images/news/2012/BulletRun_2012-08-04_15-00-14-00.jpg

If only the weapons felt as good as they looked.

Sadly, the aforementioned directly feeds into one of Bullet Run’s main issues: pay-to-win. Microtransactions once again rule the day as purchasing weapons that other players can’t access with surely give you and your team a significant advantage over the other. Of course, if the normal weapons stacked up evenly against those that are purchased, this wouldn’t be as big of a deal. Regardless, it can be a very frustrating scenario if you find yourself up against one of these players.

Visually, the game is definitely pleasing to the eye. Weapon models are surprisingly well detailed and characters have a fair amount of customization to choose from. Levels also have a good variety, along with the game types. Team Deathmatch and Dominion are the current types available. The real star of this show is Dominion, which plays out like a King of The Hill and Headquarters mode. Meaning, two zones on the map must be held for a certain period by one team- while the other defends -until they expire. After expiring, the zones later reappear in the same location. Dominion is an exciting and intriguing aspect of Bullet Run as it adds a unique teamwork element not seen in many other FPS MMOs.

Despite pretty visuals and an nice premise, none of it can cover up Bullet Run’s biggest flaw: Pay-to-win is the name of the game. Many publishers these days are finding alternate means to overcome this issue and it appears SOE hasn’t caught up. If it wasn’t for severely overpowered microtransitions and mediocre gunplay, Bullet Run could’ve definitely had a chance to rise above the rest in this crowded genre.

GoldenEye: Source Trailer

More trailers eh?

At least this time it’s not a machinima.

I made this in about 12 hours, gameplay and all. This experiment sort of derailed and ended up being another eye candy piece.

The primary focus was:

  • Synchronized music + footage
  • Non-montage FPS gameplay – which is why it is a trailer
  • Entertaining, short, and to the point video

Synchronizing the music is really the only one that didn’t make the impact I had hoped for. There are so many beats in the GE/James Bond theme that it’s almost impossible to follow it behind gameplay if it was truly in sync.

But there are still those moments where it scarily matches up perfectly.

Not intentionally, of course.

More experiments and maybe real projects to come.

P.S. Yes, I’m still working on ICS. I need to take my time less I rip it apart once again.

DoD:S Machinima Trailer

Yeah, so this is a little late. This is “Savior”, a 70 second trailer for a project that may or may not ever be completed. I put it up on YT on July 19th as you can see. I meant to post this on the 20th but something else occupied my time instead. But that’s something I wish to talk about later in another post.

I felt good about this trailer when I finished. The project itself was really a mock-up of some machinima that could happen. Many things had been cut, mostly action bits, since I really wanted the video to be fast with emphasis on the ending.

I don’t know if I will make anything more of this. It was primarily a test like many  other things I create. Day of Defeat: Source has a perfect atmosphere for film/machinima and I foresee myself working more with it in the future. If the Source Film Maker works with it then I definitely will.

Speaking of the Source Film Maker: I don’t like its timing. I have all these projects running around in my head and now SFM has broken them. Sure, it’s a more powerful tool, but it’s a new tool to learn with its own issues and limitations.

Why am I being so cynical? Because it’s Valve.

Come on.

 

DoD:S Machinima WIP

This is a small ten second portion of a Day of Defeat: Source machinima trailer I’m working on.

I say “trailer” because I may or may not be finishing the whole project. SFM seems to have delayed and/or destroyed most of my projects in progress.

Fun fact: All audio was made in post since most of the captured footage had no in-game sound. In this portion alone there are at least 23 audio tracks playing within 10 seconds.

Also, YT likes to create sync issues.

Ground Branch

I seriously thought my next post would be another bitch about ICS but unfortunately it’s not.

Kickstarter, heard of it? Of course you have!

Ground Branch, heard of that? Maybe not.

As of now these poor fellows only have about 25% of their total goal funded with 40 hours or so left to go. I thought I’d be generous and donate 50 to maybe 125 dollars. But while a measly 125 dollars can help this game’s development, it would barely make a dent in its overall $425,000 goal.

Since time is almost up and with the goal so far away I feel bad for not wanting to donate right now. Surely if this turns out like some other Kickstarter projects and it shoots up a few thousand nearing the last few hours then I’d be glad to help inch toward the goal.

For now, you can only watch and wait.

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