Aside 56: The Battle Rages On

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It’s been more than five years since This Wreckage version Gamma was released, let alone since the first version came out.

Since then, the scoreboard has kept the dream alive. It’s not busy, but ticks over regularly enough — mostly thanks to the on-going battle for Champion status between sleepyskipi and SubZero. I never designed the scoring system in a particularly robust way, so it shouldn’t have surprised me when SubZero managed to post a score of over a million points. It should also not surprise me that sleepyskipi has now busted that score.

The battle also continues over speed-running the map, but SubZero still holds onto that title… for now. Can you do it in less than 1 hour and 3 minutes?

You’re crazy but I love you. My stand-alone game(s) will definitely have a scoring system.

Aside 55: New Vegas

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I’ve been replaying Fallout: New Vegas over the past couple of weeks, and it strikes me that this is the logical end to what I want to create for myself. A sprawling world in which an action RPG takes place, replete with characters, factions, towns, quests and exotic landmarks.

I don’t know how I’ll get there yet. I don’t know how big I’ll be able to make my levels before the computer dies, I don’t know how many characters I will be able to put in them before my tottering algorithms collapse, I don’t even know how to load and transition to new levels.

But long-term, super-super-long-term, I’m pretty sure this is the end state: exploration, discovery, bartering, crafting, conversation, factions, reputation and, of course above all else, action. The only thing I’ll do differently is make my world(s) less brown. Damn, but FO:NV is brown.

Aside 54: Out of My League

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The main problem with my game development right now is that I’m just not clever enough to do the things that I’m trying to do. Bot obstacle avoidance is a very complex problem and, while parts of my approach are fine, the whole thing starts to wobble as I layer on more and more features.

Maybe it’ll all be fine in reality; my scratchpad level is, after all, festooned with obstacles deliberately placed to stress and confuse the system. Maybe once I build real patrol routes on real levels things will be much smoother.

I am beginning to wonder if I’m punching too far above my weight, though — and what will happen when I finally get knocked out.

Aside 53: Internets

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I was going to play Wolfenstein: The New Order during January, but it requires a 10GB patch. Coincidentally, that is my entire month’s internet allowance. I discovered this after having used the internet at all this month.

So I decided to try Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor instead, which only (“only”) required a 3.9GB patch. This exhausted half my limit and put me down to emergency rations, sure, but I can cope… Except then I tried it and it was unplayable due to a cripplingly narrow field of view, so I’m down to emergency usage with nothing new to play…

(I’ll find a FoV hack sooner or later, there were other reasons that I bounced right off it too.)

Hence I needed to take a break with something completely and utterly offline, which is luckily a good chunk of my collection. Pretty much everything newer than about 5 years old is Steam-infested and so unplayable without enforced updates, so it’s a good thing I’ve got plenty of older games with patch executables neatly stacked away on an external hard drive…

Aside 52: A Rose As Called By Any Other Name…

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A few people have recently asked me where the name “Rao Dao Zao” came from. It’s a pretty crap story, to be honest, but it turned out all right — the search engine rankings for Rao Dao Zao are pretty awesome, and, well, it does look and sound quite cool (assuming you pronounce it correctly, which most people don’t).

So, to shatter my air of mystery, the story goes thus:

My real name is Robbie. When I first played Baldur’s Gate, I couldn’t name my character “Robbie” because that is not Fantasy enough, so I shortened it to “Robe”. Some time later, I got the Lego Rock Raiders game — where a narrator says the name of a set, “The Loader Dozer”, in a particular accent. I injected Robe to this for some reason and got “The Rober Dozer”. Slur hard enough while saying “Rober Dozer” and you get “Rao Dao Zao”.

Voila.

Aside 50: Out of Touch

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I need to come to terms with my growing irrelevance.

Everyone else is obsessed with smartphones while I just don’t care. I love to play singleplayer games while the world wants 4-player co-op. I want a DVD with a printed manual in a box when the masses want digital downloads and always-online storefronts. I want a desk with a keyboard shelf.

Do you know how bloody hard it was to find a desk with a keyboard shelf, let alone one big enough for an adult? You don’t, market forces say, even have a keyboard anymore. You’ve got a laptop, at best. Even then, you don’t really want a desk, you want a feature piece for the corner of your living room that needs to look pretty rather than actually get used.

I don’t think this universe has a place for me anymore.

Aside 49: Feature Creep

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As I progress with No Excuses, I realise that I’m pretty much implementing a top-down singleplayer Unreal Tournament. I’m actually okay with this, but I do wonder how much of a contortionist you’ll have to be to press all these buttons at the same time when I add the four five active abilities on top of these extra movement keys.

I finally added strafing the other week (after fixing the last of the animation bugs). Strafing was never in the original brief — Nox didn’t have strafing and that’s my baseline for combat and navigation. Nox also did not have dodge-jumping, which I intend to add soon enough to round out the strafing ability. I am probably going to throw on backpedalling for good measure too.

Gosh, programming AI behaviour around this is going to be a riot…