Blog 643: 18-Gun Salute

A game with only a single type of enemy is not much of a game. Well, okay, actually, Unreal Tournament technically gets away with it (the differences are visual only, though they are heavily parameterised), but I’m not operating on that level — so I want there to be as big a variety of mechs as I can make.

But up until recently, I only had one character: the Delta mech. In order to stress my systems a little bit and help work out the kinks, I decided that the next mech had to be the monstrous three-legged Alpha…

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Blog 642: Expendable

When I’m feeling a bit sorry for myself, I like to buy some hoary old low-poly action game for a pittance at gog.com. My wishlist is absolutely chocka with… well, things that I find visually appealing and seem like decent games too. Every Friday they announce the weekend’s sale and I look down that list and see if there are any matches, and then think to myself… do I want this?

The answer this time is… yes. Yes, I want this. It’s called Expendable and it’s an “arcade shooter” from 1999.

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Blog 641: An Unbroken Frame

It was a cover version that first got me into music. I mean, I had some passing interest in some songs before, but it was Erasure’s cover of Solsbury Hill that turned on the taps. I remember I was playing Unreal Tournament mod Operation: Na Pali when I first heard it.

Marsheaux have always been good at doing cover versions. Some, like their idea of timeless synthstrumental Popcorn, might be obvious because they’re famous tunes, but others from off the beaten track you wouldn’t even know were covers without somebody telling you, because they all nestle so well amongst their original work.

So when they said they were going to cover an entire album for their next project, what was I to think? Especially when they made the so very… interesting choice of Depeche Mode’s difficult second album, A Broken Frame.

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Blog 640: A World of 1D Arrays

It’s amazing what you can do with only global state and one-dimensional arrays, when you really put your mind to it. What was supposed to be a quick fart in the general direction of a Warcraft project has grown into something quite incredible.

Well, incredible on the technical side. The game itself is no more or no less than a streamlined version of my standard WC3 RPG formula. You may or may not want this.

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Blog 639: Original Sin

Ahh, the darling of Kickstarter. I didn’t back Divinity: Original Sin, because while I’ve enjoyed many previous Divinity titles I’m also extremely risk-averse and scared of new approaches to life.

I mean, what if they made a game I didn’t like? Or worse: what if it would have been my input that made it bad? Artists, I think, are best left to their own devices, and as a consumer I feel better making an informed purchase (or not) of a finished work. Crowd-funding might be an excellent way to gather cash up-front for things that seem too risky to a giant publisher (even though there is actually a huge audience hiding under the quilt), but I’m not sure that crowds are entirely trustworthy in some other matters.

Either way, the game got funded and got made without my intervention. Did the crowd impart its wisdom or did Larian make a belter despite its howling? Does the presence or absence of crowd intervention even matter?

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Blog 638: Continuing to Make Sense of Cellular Automata

When it comes to modding, I have to admit to a masochistic streak. I could use the 3rd party pre-processor to get structs and pseudo-object-orientated syntax that would make this a whole heap easier, but no, I’ve got to use the bare metal to feel alive.

So, that procedurally generated Warcraft III side project I’ve been fiddling with during lunch hour is a whole barrel of laughs. This episode’s consternation surrounds creature spawning.

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