Game Talk Archives

Selling tiny stuff…

allen white raccoon racoon wizard

Most of the trick with this here Mouse Game stuff is selling the scale.  Everything is tiny, but we’re looking at it through equally tiny eyes.  When we started all this I did some… math… and decided 2m in game space was equivalent to 4″ in good ol’ RL.

I even got so carried away I made a little cardboard Mouse and took photos of him around my apartment, approximating the game camera position.  It’s important to get your head wrapped around what reads as tiny and what is not gigantic.  The Coon Wizard here is very large for our game, but even the threads on the various bits of his head-wear have to seem appropriately large in order to sell the scale. 

This whole issue will be a gigantic texturing headache at some point.  Gogogadget decal maps!

I am not a rigger.

allen white rat guard rigging

But rig I must.

Seriously, if you want to get a job as an animator learn to rig.  It seems to be an under-appreciated skill, which is odd as its totally essential to the process.  I can’t really wrap my brain around animators primarily working with the animation dummy models that are pretty much just skeletons.  It seems like such a cop out, artistically.

I couldn’t get behind such a narrow education.  Art and design are about solving problems, if you only have one approach you’ll be a poor problem solver.  Color me skeptical.

I’ve said this to a lot of applicants but I’ll repeat it…  If you want a job the more skills you are good at in addition to the job you’re applying to the easier you are to hire.  This should be agiven for Concept Artists because people that can “draw” are a dime a dozen, and competing for one of the sexiest jobs there is.  You really have to earn this kind of gig and the more bang you give me for my buck the easier the sell. 

As always it boils down to overwhelming your customer with your value.

I picked up the new D&D Essentials Dungeon Master Kit.

I’m sort of underwhelmed.  It feels like 85% fluff and 15% charts and tables.  You can’t just go buy the old 4th ed. DMG and expect to get any mileage.  Despite Wizards stance this is not a new edition, almost all of the rules have been errata’d.  The races changed, the classes changed.  If that isn’t a new edition I don’t know what is.

Truly I’m in the “I don’t care if its a new edition” crowd.  I was terrified by the AD&D to 3rd jump, but 4th was fantastic and although I feel like its darn near perfect I trust the D&D crew to keep turning out solid products.  I’m sure its a marketing/PR decision in the end and the design team is just playing the cards they’re dealt.

Let’s get off that tangent.

The book is great if you’ve NEVER DM’d.  But for me its a drag.  You really only need the encounter balance charts and the treasure calculation chart.  The selection of magic items is VERY short (15 pages).  The Rules Compendium is a better buy.  You get no monsters except what comes packed in the 2 short adventures.  With the Monster Vault not coming out for another month this is a bummer.  You can find a million unboxing videos on the interwebs if you’re super curious and want the whole run-down.

-AW

Anthony Hopkins is probably a Vampire…

I had this radical dream the other night, let me summarize;

Anthony Hopkins was a vampire.  And I was hunting him.  But you know how it is with vampires, they’re also hunting you, so there was much tension and subtext to be had as only I seemed to know he was a vampire and only he knew I was hunting him.  Which I’m sure the studio audience appreciated.  I did manage to trip him into a pit but he turned into a gas/bat cloud and whisked away.

When I awoke it dawned on me that it is highly likely that Anthony Hopkins is a vampire and I was actually battling him in his shadow dream realm.

I’ve been sick if you can’t tell from the above which is really cutting into my painting energy.  Bummer.

allen white sweet robot

Lookout for this sweet robot!  I’m going to throw some rotations alongside him in the next couple days.

Also have a WIP for all the cats haranguing me for a video that I can never remember/find-the-time to do.

allen white racoon shaman

I dig magic.  Totally fascinated by all its portrayals.  I think its fair to say I like it dark, but that’s simply a byproduct of wanting it visceral.  These aren’t soothing spirits.  Magic is in the basement of every human beings dreams and fears.  The sacrifices and auguries are our last desperate struggle for reconciliation.  Magic isn’t pretty. 

I was engaged in a pretty interesting discussion regarding magic in entertainment (particularly games) particularly whether or not I felt it was anti-biblical.  The issue caught me a little off guard at first, but this is a pretty widespread sentiment…  Think back to all the ruckus the ‘Harry Potter’s’ raised, and lets not forget the original “Satan’s Game” D&D.

The question I always ask is; “Are the Chronicles of Narnia or Lord of the Rings evil?” The answer I get is usually “Of course not, they’re allegorical works about Christianity”. The next question has to be “Don’t they have angels, and demons, and magic? Why are they exempt and D&D not?” I’ve never gotten a satisfactory answer. I don’t think there is one. Seriously, the Bible is full of demons, murder, rape, treachery, genocide, etc. If we aren’t supposed to come into contact with these things ever why would the Bible include them?

If you draw the line at magic how can you not include violence?  Can you read Shakespeare? Or for that matter watch Sesame Street?  Isn’t a talking animal an abomination?  Do cartoons distort reality and are therefore a perversion of creation?  This is a train of thought I really can’t see stopping once you take the logic brake off.

Contrary to what some might tell you Christianity is not a cult of suffering.  The Bible isn’t against games.  The point of games is to have fun.

To this end I consider Monopoly a far more evil game than D&D.  Have you ever known a more allegedly friendly beloved title that so quickly and consistently deteriorates ‘family-game-night’ into fighting and screaming?  (btw, Monopoly has feedback loop issues)

For believers this is totally an issue of phase.  If God only sees the “negative” intent of “secular” products and not the intent of you, the consumer, he is clearly not God and you tread dangerously close to creating him in your image. 

Before you ask…. my dreams often have movie stars.

-AW

That George Washington…

Picked up Civ as I knew I would.  Made it through my first game on the default settings.  It was maybe too easy.  I out teched and economied the computer very quickly once I trounced Hiawatha.  I still don’t have a handle on a few of the tertiary abstract resources (happiness?! this is war!).

A few thoughts:

>It doesn’t perform well on my slightly crappy video card.  Even compared to Dawn which didn’t run well on medium video settings, most of my Civ settings are low and it will really chug as it jumps across the map.  I think its time for an upgrade =/.

>The Tech Tree is kind of weird.  It’s more of an hourglass with a lot of options in the middles and a bottleneck at the end of the Renaissance Era, in which you have to have Banking to move on.  Fine, but the Prereqs are along a line of mounted cavalry tech I had no interest in.  My early cities were’nt close to any horses I could have stabled, and frankly I just don’t see horses being good bean counters.  This one had me scratching my head a bit. 

In the end George Washington and I layed the smack down on Julius Caesar.  It was righteous.

I’ve been getting to tinker with Unity a bit more at the office.  My previous experience is almost all art side so I just make stuff and hand it off to the priests to sacrifice or however that goes. 

There have been a few things Unity does different out of the box from Hero, which soaks up most of our time.  But unlike Hero, Unity can be easily stripped down and rebuilt (odds are someone in the community has already done what you’re looking for) to suit your needs.  Hero is more like jailbait.  Looks pretty good from a distance, but ends up having no idea what its doing and gets you in a lot of trouble.

Unity is mad science.  It is the apparatus upon which to create your monster and give it life.  It’s very flexible and the demos with Pro3.0 really show off how powerful it can be.  It’s on my list of software to pickup but unfortunately has the spot behind Bodypaint 4.5.  If we’re going to get this Mouse thing moving at some point I’ll be building a lot of assets long before I’m assembling anything in Unity.

Mouse Game Updates:

Ben has my latest crack at the animations in and they look a lot better than the first few attempts, which is encouraging.  They still have a ways to go and we’re refining bits and pieces about our strategy as we progress.  I’m hoping once we have a plan we can rope some help in on this front, but for now its easier to iterate between the two of us.

The setting is starting to congeal in my brain.  It’s more wrought than found as I’d originally anticipated when we first started talking about this project.  Then again at the time it was first a collectible miniatures game and then a class based shooter that was trying to be cute while also portraying horrifyingly violent rodent on rodent crimes.  I really just wanted them to swear like sailors in little squeaky voices.

When I doodled the first couple light source ideas I also wanted to sketch up a lightning bug, but didn’t get to it.  I imagine these guys would fly around as mobile light sources.  Naturally you could arrow them but wherever they fall they’d still give off some faint illumination.  Spent maybe an hour on this thing including a bunch of unrelated research time (moles will have to get tackled some day soon!).  There’s more to do including some loose rotations for whoever ends up modeling it.

Lightning Bug, Allen White

I hate my medium size Intuous4.  It bums me out.  I’ve got to upgrade, going to wear my hand out with this tiny thing.

-AW

Looking for a new fix…

I think Dawn of Discovery and I have run our course and we should part good friends… You know before she starts leaving passive aggressive post-its around the house and I keep staying out late to avoid the arguments, or whatever.

The game is gorgeous, don’t get me wrong.  I’m content to pluck away at  it for hours just basking in its glistening caress.  For a while this might have been enough as a sleepy sim game but as I got more accustomed to how I wanted to layout my cities I could keep the [people - food + entertainment - clothing = taxes] equation balanced (that’s how the real government works, too) without trouble. 

Enter the Venice Expansion, with its intrigue, acts of subterfuge, and most importantly council seats.  Purchasing seats lets you buy a city right out from an NPC’s nose.  Yes, it pisses them off.  But you can easily mitigate this stuff by piling tribute or diplomacy on them just before pulling the trigger to skyrocket your relationship with them.  Some NPC’s will take buying their city as an act of war period, so not every AI will just lay down and die.

What’s the problem with a little loophole though?  Well in a game that’s basically one big fancy accounting exercise it makes complete sense to have as little upkeep cost as possible.  Which means no troops.  Troops are expensive, take up a lot of real estate, have high upkeep, and need additional resources to recover hitpoints.  Is this a fairly immersive and interesting way to handle troops?  YES!  Is it fun?  It’s a lot more frustrating than buying the city as a one time purchase =/. 

And that’s why I don’t want to play anymore.  Also enemies can rebuild turrets and castles instantly if you aren’t immediately controlling those tiles (impossible because your troops walk back to camp after a battle) and can’t recieve new orders for a quick cooldown.  A turret will take a couple armies 20 min to overthrow and cause enough damage to whittle you down after 2-3 turrets.

In the end I always just wish I’d figured out how to befriend the AI so I could buy the city.  Even with a coordinated assault that destroys all their fishing boats, sets fire to the city and lands troops all of the island you’ll grind on that one island for days in RL.  And the AI probably has 5-6 islands. 

This is pretty much the same problem I had with Evil Genius, where at a certain point the game rewards (or in EG’s case, doesn’t punish) you for slowing down.  Slowing down is more or less not playing. 

So the game says to you, “Play less!  Here’s prizes if you play less!” 

“But I want to play!” you exclaim.

It’s a bummer.

There’s a Civ 5 demo on steam.  I might be in love with it and just at a time when I was so lonely for something to replace Dawn for me.

Somehow its mastered itself and maybe transcended, now returning to grace us with its secrets.

It lacks all of the masochism I felt playing the older Civ titles and the Alpha Centauriis.  You know, that vague sense that you’d never been so confused and lost in your life?  The game was actually just clubbing you with its tech tree and the blunt trauma had caused you to lose some mental equilibrium.

Those days seem to be gone.  The UI tucks away all the complicated options into tabs so the options feel tremendous without forcing you to weed-whack through them to manage every unit.

The presentation is a little weird, I played as Alexander the Great in my first demo game and my nearest opponent was Bismark who looked like a turn-of-the-century German politician.  Every faction speaks their appropriate language (subtitled for your convenience, although omitting them might have been fun) which was really fun to listen to Caesar speak Latin (I still vaguely understand it from highschool).   The map was also littered with random geographical wonders (old faithful was right next to my Athens).

This feels a little schizophrenic.  I kind of found myself wishing we, the players, were random tribal chieftans and could change our avatars as we leveled.  I could warm up to it as is, but the anachronist history just feels forced.  The map is random, seems like everything else should be too.  And believe me, I’m NOT a rivet counter.

I think I’ll be picking it up.  I buy games with good demo’s.  I rarely buy a game without any demo, which is too bad as it seems less prevalent in the industry than it used to be.

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