About Rao Dao Zao

Solo game developer and misunderstood artist, also known as "Robbie".

Blog 799: The Datavault

Gosh, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? The good news is that, after changing jobs, I’m down to 4 days a week again. That means Exon is back on the menu for Fridays.

That means I need to pick up… wherever I left off.

… Where did I leave off?

Ah yes: the Datavault.

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Blog 798: Oblivion Awaits

The last time I did a wee Elder Scrolls binge, I played Morrowind and then went straight to Skyrim. I’ve never had much of a thing for Oblivion; while I find Skyrim‘s viking aesthetic reasonably boring, it’s not half as boring as Oblivion‘s extremely straight trad-fantasy trappings. But these feelings come and go regardless of how your conscious mind might object, and sometimes you just need to float around grassy hills and bash some glass-hammer-wielding minotaurs.

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Blog 797: Who Wants To Be Dungeon Master?

I’ve been playing tabletop RPG Dungeons & Dragons (5th edition) regularly for a couple of years now, with a small group of close friends. We started with one of our number running a big long campaign, then when we got to level 20 (and after I’d finally cajoled him into letting us fight the Tarrasque), the next started his big campaign. About half-way through the first, we took a small break to play the published adventure Dragonheist. During this second campaign it… fell to me to provide the interlude adventure.

Picture the scene: a man who has dedicated his life to spending years meticulously crafting scenarios hosting an infinitely-responsive adventure with only a week between sessions for planning.

Sweat dripping emoji, as the old saying goes.

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Blog 796: Master Chief Collection: Halo 3

Considering that Halo 2 just stopped rather than ending, I had to start Halo 3 immediately. Just think, though — imagine you’d played Halo and Halo 2 on PC the first time around, and then they just… didn’t release Halo 3 on PC at all. That would have been truly awful, and right here lies the vindication of my decision to avoid all contact with Halo until I could play the lot. At least if the┬áMaster Chief Collection had never come, I wouldn’t have been cut off mid-swing.

And after all that… Will Halo 3 be even more of the same?

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Blog 795: This Wreckage Gold

Luckily This Wreckage is much better built than When the Freedom Slips Away, so it’s much less buggy on the scripting level. Unluckily, it contains a whole heap of custom models and data that Reforged doesn’t seem to like. Sigh. No rest for the wicked, huh?

This is a bit overdue because I was sort-of waiting for Reforged to stabilise a bit and… uh… well, since the dev team has apparently been dismantled, I guess this is as stable as it’s going to get! So behold: This Wreckage Gold with a load of fixes and small tweaks! … and a whole heap of unfixable “known issues”. Double sigh.

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Blog 794: Master Chief Collection: Halo 2

Remember when sequels were just “more of the same”? When there weren’t seismic shifts in tone and mechanics or … pretty much everything… between entries in a franchise?

Of course I can only be talking about one thing — it’s time to continue exploring the Master Chief Collection and dive into Halo 2. Which is very much more of the same.

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Blog 793: The Age of Kings

I’ve menitoned Age of Empires II obliquely many times throughout this blog but never actually written about it directly. Which is actually a massive oversight, because it has the dubious honour of being the first PC game I ever bought, so it’s a foundational influence in how I started to dream of making my own worlds — it did, after all, also include my very first level editor.

So twenty-odd years later, with lockdown madness causing a spiral ever deeper into nostalgia, isn’t it high time we took a proper look at a true classic?

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Blog 792: Monument

I’m big into software preservation. I think it’s important to maintain access to things as they were, not as you remember them or as you wish they were — accept them as they were, warts and all, or judge them to overall be wanting and discard them on that basis. This is most relevant in the area of games, where lots of classics are now unplayable and only remasters of various stripes can be had. Whether it’s new graphics or gameplay tweaks, most re-releases don’t fix only the compatibility issues to get things running again — they make changes too. I’m not here to argue whether those changes are better or worse, simply that they make these games different.

Luckily, I still have my original CDs for a selection of classics. While I can’t run some of these original versions on Windows 7 or 10, I still have the media — given a system that could run them, their ancient truths could be unlocked once more.

So I have found a system that can run them. I have built… a new old computer.

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