Blog 704: Close, But No Biscuit – Star Wars – Part 4

The most damning indictment of Episode II is that it’s ultimately pretty average. There’s nothing truly unstoppably bad about it — there’s no massive in-your-face focal point of cringe to match poor old Jar Jar Binks. Maybe it’s death by a thousand cuts, lots of little things that snowball into a prevailing sense of malaise.

I’m quite excited for us to get to the original trilogy so we can expound positively at what went right rather than negatively about all the missed opportunites and blunders (or maybe we’ll need to discuss the spectacularly good Rogue One before the original trilogy now?), but narrative flow demands that we first examine the prequels — so here begins our journey through Attack of the Clones.

No transcripts this time, and no additional thoughts either. We… er… recorded this one a while ago…

Blog 702: The Most Productive Time of the Year

Employment is now over for the year. I’ve booked myself three weeks of holiday, from here to the first week of January, so I’ll have the longest contiguous period of free time I’ve ever taken for… well, years. (It’s also time to stop shaving — will this be the year I finally achieve a coherent moustache?)

What am I going to do with that time? The same thing I do every year… I’m going to make a video game.

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Blog 701: Rao Dao Zao On Tour

I’ve always been bound to the desktop, at least since the GameBoy gave way to the PC and all the delicious level editors it brought. I’ve flirted with cute netbooks once or twice, and while they have their uses as ultra-portable units they are also not very capable. I have never before owned a real laptop…

But with the most productive time of the year upon us, and family obligations looming that will drag me away from my studio and its brooding powerhouse Helios, I felt that it was at last time to equip myself with something that has a foot in both camps. Something capable, but still portable.

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Blog 700: (C) Over the Top(s)

It’s here at last, the third and final installment of Starcraft II bonus campaign Nova: Covert Ops. Which has, to date, featured six ops but none of them particularly covert. With three missions left in the bag and the second pack a good improvement on the first, will these finally hit the spot? (Also thank goodness there are only three packs, because as you can see I’ve already run out of title puns.)

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Blog 699: The Force Unleashed

Chris McPhail and I have been working through the Star Wars fanchise in its cinematic chronological order in our audio/video podcast Close, But No Biscuit of late. During one clip that didn’t make the cut, I was raving about The Force Awakens (as I am wont to do) but accidentally said The Force Unleashed instead. Twice.

Obviously it got me to thinking about that game. I accused it of being hideous fanfiction the first (and only) time I played it, but in the light of the even more hideous fanfiction of The Force Awakens… Maybe it’s not so bad? Maybe its story, crass as its foundations might be, actually… kind of works?

We are on full spoiler alert today, but The Force Unleashed is from 2009 so it should be safe by now.

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Blog 698: Tile Your Bathroom, Tile Your Game

If you’ve been following my game development activities for any length of time, you’ll probably have seen me attempt to create a level building workflow about… four times. I started with heightmaps and static meshes, but bare meshes aren’t particularly comfortable to work with and Unity’s heightmap is, err, too high-poly. I tried to roll my own voxel terrain editor, but that was too complex and janky and didn’t really tick my boxes after all.

I had a stab at procedural generation quite a long time ago now, which created levels based on  a 2D grid of tiles. I ported all that to Unity more recently, and it broadly worked but I ran into some snags, so I gave up on it. But, even more recently, I finally came up with an answer to those snags. This time — this time at last — I reckon I’ve got a sustainable answer.

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Blog 697: I Travel

It took me until far too late to even conceive of the notion that one could travel to a gig rather than waiting for it to come to one’s home town (or not). The first time I did it was to see Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’s special gig in the Museum of Liverpool, then I followed them to London for the truly stellar Royal Albert Hall performance of Dazzle Ships and Architecture & Morality (I even bought the T-shirt for that one!).

Now, I’ve done it again, albeit to a slightly more modest venue. This time, I followed my favourite Greek synth-pop duo Marsheaux to… Norwich.

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