Nondescript

Blog 838: Third Build Lucky?

Managing old computers is hard; if it’s not one thing, it’s another. Last time, in order to fix blue-screen hard crashes in Starcraft and LEGO Rock Raiders, I got a very old graphics card, which required a very old motherboard (and a very old sound card, and some old RAM). Yes, a full rebuild.

The other week, I took a fancy to do a wee bit of Age of Empires II skirmishing… only to discover that it had started crashing on this build! Only to desktop, admittedly, but reliably and in a peculiar way suggestive of… other problems.

There was only one way this could end.

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Gaming

Blog 837: Final Grindtasy VII

A part of me thought this moment would come much sooner than it did, but as I activated the endgame of Final Fantasy VII it arrived at last — the moment where my team simply weren’t powerful enough to get past the challenges in front of them.

I had to go back to an earlier save and commence… the Grind.

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Game Development

Blog 836: You Have Been Waylaid

Random encounters have been on my mind a lot recently, because I’ve been playing Final Fantasy VII for the first time. However, even before I was 25 years late to that seminal JRPG party, the well-established Baldur’s Gate influence ensured that random encounters would be on Exon‘s roadmap. In the mood for a break from working on the dark underground mine levels (and the obligatory Towers of Hanoi puzzle within), I decided it was high time I got some sun-soaked wilderness battle arenas in there.

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Gaming

Blog 835: Final Fantasy VII

I have never played a JRPG before, let alone a Final Fantasy game. The closest I’ve ever got to Final Fantasy is my affection for classic cinematic CGI romp The Spirits Within (another party to which I was late, as I first saw it on DVD as an adult).

But I know that a lot of stuff I like was influenced by Final Fantasy, and the seventh entry comes up again and again and again in discussion. I have felt for years that this is a hole in my experience, and it was one I thought that I could never fill because Final Fantasies are traditionally console games… until I was told that Final Fantasy VII was indeed available on PC, and had been for a very long time.

Oops. Better late than never, right?

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Gaming

Blog 833: LEGO Rock Raiders

LEGO Rock Raiders was a formative game for me — it’s the reason why I’m called Rao Dao Zao.

Previously, when playing Baldur’s Gate, I’d made my real name “Robbie” marginally more fantastical by shortening it to “Robe” (shush, I was only 11 or 12). In Rock Raiders, when you hover the mouse over things, the name of the thing is read out, and one of the vehicles is “The Loader Dozer”. For some reason, my mind saw fit to repeat this voice clip over and over and eventually swap “Load” for “Robe” to form “The Rober Dozer”. Finally, if you slur “The Rober Dozer” really hard you end up with… Rao Dao Zao. (I guess it should really be “Rao Bao Dao Zao”, but Bao somehow never entered into the equation.)

Why is this relevant? Because after I rebuilt my Windows XP machine with true 2004-era components, I got Rock Raiders running. So let’s take a step back in time, to before “Lego Game” was a whole genre of licensed tie-ins, to the heady days of 1999…

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Game Development

Blog 832: Exon: Mobile

Sometimes in life, you have to admit that you’ve been a fool. I’ve had to admit that I’ve been a fool about many things over the eight years of working on Exon, and today is… well it’s just another in a long line of admissions of foolishness. Admitting you have a problem is the first step to solving it, right?

So I’d been focusing on Exon as a mouse-and-keyboard PC game, but I realise that most people aren’t remotely interested in that. No, if I want real human beings to actually play my game, I need to go out to meet them — I need to be on mobile. So I’m reworking Exon for mobile. How hard can it be?

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Game Development

Blog 831: Load Order

I went down to London to see Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark at the Royal Albert Hall this week. That was on Monday, and since I got the train back on the Tuesday, I figured I might as well take the rest of the week off work too. Go hard or go home, am I right? (Or in this case, do both.)

That gave me a few days to work on something a bit meatier than usual, the kind of work that I shy away from because, while it may be necessary, it’s complex and scary. Why did somebody so full of fear take up solo game development? That’s a question I ask myself every day.

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