It’s a new decade, and Exon is officially six years old. That’s three times as old as my previous record holder, the WC3 total conversion Project Y4, which clocked in at two years. And it’s not even done yet! Not even close to done!
The Arena, however, is done. You can jump in, smash up some bots, and either win or lose. Which means it’s time to FEATURE CREEP YEAAAAAAAAAH! (It’s not feature creep if they were planned all along.)
So, did you hear that Warcraft III is getting a big fancy-pants HD remaster? No, I’m not remastering my maps, but I do want them to remain functional. Maybe I also kinda want to make something new, or finish off something old? Either way, there are some fixes that need to be done to things that did make it out into the sunshine.
I’ve been told that in recent patches, Henrik’s backpack attachment (of all things) has started wigging out. Luckily, I still remember my MDL mad skillz and took a look — turns out, the model is utterly broken and really should never have worked in the old world, let alone the new one (all its vertices were assigned to a group that didn’t exist — top marks if you know what those words mean!). A simple fix, but one that will require me to replay the entirety of both WtFSA and This Wreckage to make sure there aren’t any other bad models that have slipped through the cracks. (And yes, I’ll literally have to buy and wear every single item at least once to confirm any issues. Guess I’ll be heading for grindy-town!)
In the mean time, Jayborino had some fun playing When the Freedom Slips Away and highlighted… a couple of things I might… make slightly less obtuse… in any patch release… If you can’t be bothered playing, why not watch him do it instead?
(Not gonna lie, these videos have given this site the biggest spike in activity for a long time! Thanks, dawg!)
I’ve been replaying The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I’ve been thinking about level scaling — the way the game adjusts the power of enemies to match your own, so no matter where in the world you go, you’ll get an appropriate level of challenge.
I don’t think it works.
I have some thoughts.
My favourite joke format at the moment is this: “It’s only X if it comes from the X region of France, otherwise it’s just sparkling Y.” In this case, “it’s only artificial intelligence if it’s from the AI region of France, otherwise it’s just sparkling if statements”. I can dunk on AI hype, you see, because I’m programming AI for my game again.
I’ve done quite a bit of AI programming already. The bots have fairly well-developed situational awareness — if they see an item they want they’ll move to pick it up; if they see an enemy they will attack; and if they are fighting they’ll use their abilities.
What they lack, however, is strategic awareness. Seeing as the Arena will have bonus objectives, and the same logic will power boss fights and full characters in the campaign, bots are going to need to that extra layer of intelligence.
So, a few months ago, I paused work on Exon’s main campaign to focus on building the Arena. This approach came with some risks but I decided to swallow them because this felt like it would be the fastest route to something genuinely playable.
I was right, because that was about three months ago and for the last few weeks I’ve had it out at local game dev events and being played by real human beings. It is by no means a finished game, but it is a fully-functioning, self-contained scenario that stresses the breadth of the game’s core combat mechanics. A vertical slice. Objective complete!
It’s funny because my mechs’ primary attacks are vertical slices.
It once felt like my love of Godzilla disappeared along with my childhood, but in truth it merely retreated underground and lay dormant, waiting for the moment it would emerge from the darkness to wreak havoc once more.
With Hollywood taking on the mantle of the Big G over the last few hears, that time has come. Since Toho have still refused to release everything in the UK, I had to turn to crime to work through every single kaiju film Toho ever made.
Why is this relevant? Because Godzilla: King of the Monsters bears a superficial resemblance to Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster, the very first time our favourite world-destroying space dragon appeared on screen, and a film that I never saw as a child. Crucially, in this outing King Ghidorah was only stoppable by the combined forces of Godzilla, Rodan and Mothra — the same four mon-stars appearing in King of the Monsters. As a firm fan of 2014’s Godzilla and its pseudo-prequel Kong: Skull Island, I was mightily intrigued to see how Legendary would approach that classic four-way rumble with the more grounded fiction of their modern franchise.
It was… quite something. I had to see it twice at the cinema before I could make up my mind. Needless to say, there is only one answer to such conflicted thoughts: Chris McPhail and I had to sit down and do a Close, But No Biscuit podcast about it.
I am constantly perplexed by villains.
As a fan of high-action fantasy and space opera, I demand villains that can operate on a grand scale — that can deliver conflict and challenge appropriate to my delusions of grandeur. However, as a slave to coherence and consistency, I demand villains whose motivations and actions can plausibly produce that level of challenge and conflict.
Now, I reject the notion that dumb action and plausible characters are mutually exclusive, as Hollywood and the AAA industry often seem to think. By all means, it’s a balance that’s hard to strike, but I think there’s rarely been as glorious a failure than the monstrous, enigmatic Reapers of the Mass Effect trilogy.
Earlier in the year, I decided that the wilderness areas of Baldur’s Gate were actually a good and enjoyable thing. I stand by that reasoning today, and look back fondly on that experience of replaying a game that really is a classic.
Except I’ve just been replaying Mass Effect, and it has areas that fulfil a similar function — “uncharted worlds”, optional planets you can land on which contain only side quests. The difference is that… they’re not particularly good or enjoyable.