Monday, December 19, 2011

Internet/network problems

Just a quick heads up for all my blog readers.  We've been having some issues with our home network, and as such, I have no way of writing any reviews.

I'll revive this blog once this situation settles for good.  Sorry to be vague about it, but we are trying to narrow down what's wrong with it one reason at a time over the last week and now this week.  It's not hacked, it probably has more to do with software/hardware/physical house layout issues.  We're not sure which yet...gotta run more tests and move PCs around some more.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sonic Generations Review

First off, I'm reviewing the PC version, available off Steam.  The PC version is cheaper then it's console counterparts, but you also miss out on one minor thing, the inclusion of the original Sonic the Hedgehog.  It's worth noting that you're only paying 30 instead of 50-60 USD.  It's also worth noting that the PC requirements are pretty steep, this is an otherwise direct port of the Xbox version with the capabilities to crank the settings up well past the PS3's lighting settings.  It even has a 3D display support(I'm guessing the PS3 version probably does as well, given the trend in 3d vision that console has been doing), but alas I do not have a display to test that feature on.

The gameplay itself is brilliant.  Each of the 9 stages is a throwback to one stage out of Sonic's massive video game carrier, excluding spinoffs.  Some of the highlights include Chemical Plant, Sky Sanctuary, and surprisingly even the more modern sonic stages are done well.

Each "stage" is actually two separate stages, one for Classic Sonic, and one for the Modern Sonic.  

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Trackmania 2: Canyon Review

For those not familar with how TM works, I'd like to explain the concept of "Environments", because it's going to come up quite a bit in this review, and I want to make sure you don't misinterpret it as levels or tracks like other games.  In the TrackMania universe, an "Environment" is like an area of the TM universe that the track is built in.  Each one comes with a full set of track blocks, which forms what other games call the "level style". These often come with unique parts only that environment will let you place.  The Environment also contains a specific car to match with the parts in that set.  It's better to think of the Environments in TM as "Car Handling Styles and Track Themes".

For example, the free TM:Nations has 1 "Environment", Stadium.  This comes with a stadium level, stadium themed track pieces, and a modified handling F1 Race Car(modified in that it grips loops and stunts much better then a real one would).

First, a bit of backstory.  When Nadeo planned out TM2, they planned 3 environments, to be released over the next few years as part of the bigger picture "Maniaplanet", along with Shootmania and Questmania.  Both the others are under development still.

The result is that TM2:Canyon is a lot smaller then TM:United Forever, at least as far as content is concerned.  However, it's important to keep in mind that TM:United's 7 environments are actually:

-3 new ones from TM:United(before the Forever series), each released over a years delay
-3 old classic ones from back in TM:Sunrise, which were released at once but with a 2 year development time
-Stadium, which was designed to be a free environment for TM:Nations Forever.

So while it looks like we are getting a lot less stuff with Canyon's single level style, when you compare the two you are actually comparing a "collectors edition with all expansions" with the "first released game" of a new series.  Furthermore, TM:Canyon is the first part of a much bigger idea that Nadeo has called ManiaPlanet, where all three games(TrackMainia, ShootMania, and QuestMania) are interconnected into one massive community program/project.  Of course, none of that has been fully launched yet since it's going to be a pretty big multi-year project.

Now that you've got it in perspective, let's review what Canyon has to offer:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A couple of new tabs for the blog

I've made a few changes to this blog.  Some people have been eagerly following my reviews of games(thanks so much for letting me know you've been reading them, it means a lot to me!)

The new page tabs are a master list of reviews, and a suggestions page with my contact info on it.

The master list contains all the reviews or mentions of games I think would be worth reading over if you are researching a potential game.  Since they are all in 1 list, it saves you from having to dig through my old posts to find the game mention you are looking up.

The suggestions page lets you know what gaming systems I can review stuff on, and provides a way to contact me suggesting games you want me to check out.

I hope this will make the information much easier to find, and help both you and me in keeping track of it.  If something is wonky or you have suggestions how else I can make this better, I'm open to hear them.


Gawain Doell

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories for the Wii review

Note: This post was supposed to be my Halloween post, to review the game I was playing during that time. In my silly stupidity I left it as a Draft Post, meaning it was never actually published to the blog. Everything still stands in it, and so I'm publishing it as my proper "review" of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Enjoy.

Ah, Silent Hill, it's good to be back, even if I am stuck being dragged into frozen hallucination worlds every now and then. Which actually helps to break up the problem the old games had of "Should I be solving this puzzle or running like hell" by separating the game into two very different "modes" as you play.

And thank you for doing motion controls right, for once. It makes the escape sequences and exploring, and even talking to people(due to the ability to look around during dialog) very immersive and actually good to play. That is, if "unnervingly creepy and real feeling" can be called good to play, which I say it can.

Every time I step away from the Wii Silent Hill game, I keep asking myself "why haven't other motion games done it this way instead of just replacing button presses with motion gestures?" And I keep coming short of an answer. It

Gotta say one negative thing about it though. It's really hard to read the cell phone text messages on a smaller TV. It's very clear this game is meant to be played on a widescreen TV, but unfortunetly our only TV that fits the bill is right in the middle of the living room...which is not where Silent Hill should be played when there are younger siblings about for obvious reasons. So I'll just have to put up with barely being able to read them. (So far, everything important to playing the game has been in audio tapes or had subtitles that are big enough to read even on small screens. I have no idea why they didn't think to include the text messages on the cell phone in this treatment.)

Edit from later: I've now since finished the game, and I can safely say that it's conclusion is well worth the effort of finishing it. It also helps to explain what is fully going on in the end if you're paying attention, which sadly makes the game suddenly less scary and more tragic on a replay.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Video Game Camera Movement Design Theory

This post is more like a note to myself then anything else, but I thought someone might get some benifit out of the information here.  If nothing else, it will get you thinking on your own games you play about how the camera interacts with the world, and appreciative of those games where someone really sat down and thought about it.

I programmed an orbiting camera today.  I also got it to raytrace when something is in the way to move closer to the player, which in everyday terms is a fancy way of saying "If something is in the way, the camera will move to look behind that something."  Right now it moves behind everything(collectables, any polygon really).

This creates a problem.  The camera goes insane if the player hides behind something too close to them, such as running around a corner, with very little space between them and the wall, without moving the camera.

Hmm...various games have various solutions to this, all of which are pretty complicated to do.  A few examples of fixes used in games I've played, and quick opinions:

Monday, November 7, 2011

Some recently played games and quick opinions

These arn't going to be proper reviews, so much as quick summaries.  I'm feeling really under the weather today and don't have time to properly review anything.  Nonetheless, here is a quick reference list of some games I've played recently and my quick 2 cents.


Simple concept, fun puzzles, nice challenging action sequences.  Goes from easy to bloody annoying difficulty very quickly.  Some of the levels, even on easy, are rather lacking in checkpoints.  If you can't stand having to get three keys again to attempt that final shot/glide for the goal, this game isn't for you.  If you are the type who loves that sort of punishing game design and twitch/skill/speed based gameplay, give Nimbus a shot.  I don't regret buying it, but some more casual players probably will.


It's been called a 2d minecraft.  I'd like to point out that is a severe misconception, as the game plays out more like metroid.  It's got a few questionable design decisions that make multiplayer only good with trusted friends.  It also has a bit of item grinding to build some of the later armors, and suffers from not having a true end game goal.  (There are several epic boss fights, but they are repeatable and don't do anything to the world once you beat them).  Unfortunetly, without the unlimited building space of Minecraft(Terraria maps are not infinite, and have edges of the world to them), and thanks to the fact characters can take items from one world to another, the whole flow of the game kind of falls apart.  Worth visiting, barely, but because of the random generator and lack of any real goal, I can't fully be as excited about it as I wish I could be.  If anything, it will make you wish they had done something more solid and less "randomly generated adventures lol" with the game engine.

That will have to do for now.  More quick summaries to come probably, as I have been playing a lot of games but haven't been finishing them to be able to review them properly.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Review: Rock of Ages

Time for some reviews of stuff I've played recently.  I think I'll start with a long overdue Rock of Ages review.

Rock of Ages


The concept is brilliant, and the execution superb.  Seriously, this is like one of the most amazing, original, and fun games I've played.

Basically you have a timer that counts down to when your next rock will be built, and play tower defense for this time period.  Once you're ready to roll, you swap into a Monkey Ball like rolling game to roll down your opponents side of the field, and hopefully smash their gate. Money is earned in this mode for smashing into other things as well, but your boulder will take damage and shrink, lowering your total damage done to the enemy gate.  The money is then used in between boulder runs to build more of your own defenses.

The resulting gameplay is a very potent mix of action and strategy that proves time and again to be very entertaining.  The balance between getting enough money to literally buy yourself more time through defensive layouts, and racing to break your opponent's gate before he/she/it breaks yours is the core of the game.  This simple but super complex concept is what sells me on Rock of Ages, it's so simple you can tell your friend in a minute how to play, yet it can take weeks of play to figure out the "ideal" defensive layout for each stage.

Thanks to very good balance between all the game elements, and plenty of stages, the game manages to be all around a very fun experience.  The single player story mode is especially random and wacky all the way through, and well worth the price of the game.

The team is still around, fixing and making the already great game even better.  Meaning a lot of bugs have been fixed so far and some new balancing features are added/tweaked every now and then to polish the game even more.

The game has the simple joy of finally breaking open a gate and watching your enemy scream in girly terror before you squish them with a boulder that's 20 times their height in a very anti-climatic fashion.  The spike of joy this hilarious cartoon joke brings will simply never get old. 


No offline mode save support.  Edit: This issue was fixed in a patch since my last play of the game, and no longer is an issue.  Game plays offline just fine now.

PC multiplayer is a bit of a pain.  Internet multiplayer is no problem, but you will need a steam account with a copy of the game for both players.  (You can't just play in offline mode, it will not connect to itself even over a LAN.  We tried.)  The game does have split screen like the console version, but currently you will need 2 wired X-box 360 controllers due to the game's use of the UT3 engine's control schemes.  Other controllers do not work, unless you use a third party emulator software to turn them into X-box360 input, which can be a pain to set up depending on how your controllers are connected and what buttons they have.  Because of these issues, I have yet to actually play a multiplayer game myself.

The AI is sometimes...well, not the brightest of players.  It's saying something when on one particular stage, I won the game by making them stuck on a series of fans rolling up the same hill again and again forever.  Thankfully this type of stage/stupidity isn't the common reaction for the AI, and requires quite a bit of out of the box thinking to set up usually.  Still, it's quite obvious that the AI pretty much never takes any shortcuts or tries anything special to get through your defenses.  Place a fan along their favorite route, and they will pretty much always run directly into it no matter how visible it is to them.

In fact, the way the later stages get "harder" is by giving the AI better preset defensive layouts to start with, while you start with nothing, of course.  The fact this makes it an even fight for a skilled player should tell you pretty much what to expect from the AI.

Good and Bad:

The boss fights.  The bosses themselves are basically a giant puzzle, which in principle tests your skills and timing with rock control, but in reality just feels like filler content when actually played (especially the second boss, which boils down to a tiny timing minigame with a lot of ground to climb up in between timing tries).  It's especially jarring that the gameplay for the boss fights are so generic when the rest of the game has so much creativity and inventiveness in it.

It should be noted I am only berating the actual gameplay of the boss fights, not the bosses themselves.  The artistic side of the bosses is easily one of the best parts of the game.  This is why I am split 50/50 on this issue, because while I didn't enjoy most of the time "fighting" the bosses, it wasn't exactly boring to play either, and if they were removed I would surely miss them.


Even without the multiplayer, I still think Rock of Ages is well worth the very reasonable price of only $10.00 USD.  You can grab it for Steam, or if you hate steam with a passion or want easier split screen play, it's also on the Xbox360 Live marketplace.  (I don't know if the Xbox360 marketplace version will have the updates from the team since I don't have experience with that market.)  

Here's a handy link straight to the steam store page, which has three very entertaining trailers that might run the risk of being less entertaining then the game simply because of their short length(especally the rock beats everything trailer):

Till next post, Gawain signing off.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Of Unity coding and productivity on a day "off" of work.

Nothing quite like booting up Unity after a month away and finding out hey look, all the programming tools are reworked and now have all sorts of extra stuff like "solutions", a list of variables/objects the script references, and a bunch of new buttons I need to learn.

It's like if someone painted your house all Purple and moved your rooms around while you were on vacation.

Because of that, today wasn't nearly as productive a day as I had planned. Oh well, progress is still progress, even if it's slow.

I got raytracing using their physics engine colliders finally working after much reading of documentation though. So now I can test collisions without needing the horrible PhysX rigidbodies. Yes, I'm a 3d programming newb like that. What can I say? Quite a bit if this blog post is any indication.

I really need a second monitor on this computer so I can open a tutorial and have Unity's whole interface on screen at the same time. Swapping windows not only is slower, but introduces loads of errors when typing code examples off video tutorials(which seem to be the new thing on the web even though I learn a lot better off written tutorials, but that's a whole other rant).

That's enough programming (aka, torture on my poor visual mind) for today. Now I've got the basics of a trace and how to get the results all written out in my code. And more importantly, I understand how to use it now. So next time I should be able to do this quite a bit faster.

I'll have a proper 3d platformer game up and running yet. It's just going to take a while cause I've never done a 3d platformer game before. Or any true 3d game before, for that matter.

Off to either do something fun, or work out some level layout plans for the game using my shiny new GRIDDED PAPER pad. The title is in caps on the pad, so I might as well put it in caps here too.

My sister has stepped up as a 3d modeler, so now we have a team of 2, working on a 3d project of sorts. Excitement! Only it's very slow going because I'm the...

Concept artist(for level styles, characters, everything), 

Lead Programmer(and only one, sob), 

Interface Designer, 

Storyline Writer(It's easy for this one, there's not much to the story as it's a fun simple platformer), 

Co-Modeler/Animator/Texturer(cause sometimes Sis is a bit lazy with animating or texturing things), 

Level Layout and Theme Designer (Though she will probably be the one modeling most of the bits and pieces that fall together to make a level in the game, like the ground, trees, and so on), 

and Project Manager.

Oh, and I suppose later we will need some kind of music/sounds, so I get to be a Lead Musician and Sound Producer too.

And she is the...

Lead Modeler,




Idea Bouncer,

and "Why Does Everything Need Stalk Eyes?" Producer.

Hmm, something tells me I got the short end of the stick here...

But I love it all so much. Except for the programming part. I only somewhat like that part. But the rest of it is so much fun!

I think it's time to take a break for the day. This "nice easy day off" thing seems to have gotten lost in translation.

In other news, I have played a few new games and have formed opinions on them. I think I'll just spam all my reviews and reactions to this blog instead of cross posting and pasting everywhere on the web. So prepare for lots of game opinions/reviews in the future as I play through...random stuff. :D

Edit: Holy Terrible Formatting Batman!  All fixed...I hope.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Got a Part time job

Just a quick note to my followers(yes, all 2 of you, see, you're so special!).

I've got a part time job now, which means money for me.  Of course, this also means even less time to update the blog.

I do have days off however, and I certainly have not stopped gaming, or making games(the progress of the latter has slowed considerably more then the former due to lack of energy).

I simply have been a bit lacking on the time/energy(especally the latter) needed to write up proper content for this blog.  Been a rough couple of first weeks.

Just thought I'd post something so you don't think I've abandoned Gawain Games.  This is still going, and I will still be reviewing and playing games.

I probably won't have time to write/play till later this week, but I've recently bought Trackmania 2:Canyon, which is still in multiplayer beta mode.  A full preview of what buying the rather steep entry earns you will be coming once I get the chance to properly plow through it all myself.

Off to bed for now, got more work tomorrow.  Till then, this is Gawain signing off.

Monday, August 15, 2011

UT2004 with Wacom mouse is the best.

Ok, I love my tablet...but...

I tried playing UT2004 with the tablet mouse wheel to switch weapons.  The problem is that the tablet wheel doesn't act quite like a normal mouse for older games, since Wacom emulates the mouse wheel or something.

It makes for a hilarious handicap, because use of the mouse wheel on my tablet also makes my character stare at the floor or roof at a 90 degree angle.  With random rotation.

Thankfully, the auto swap when out of ammo is pretty I can just use the first 6 numbers on the keyboard to swap to a gun and let the auto ammo system find a similar ammo on it's own.  Assuming of course, that I last long enough in the arena to get those guns in the first place.  But it seems a good compromise, right?

Except for the Link Gun.  Normally, the right click on the link gun boosts the attack of a team member also using the link gun.  So it's good to fire the right click at a team mate.

But the auto ammo swap for the next gun is the UT Rocket Launcher with triple fire.  Oh, with instant fire on right click if let go.

Hilarity then happens as my allies, who were expecting support, get splattered all over the room instead the instant I run out of ammo.

Bah, allies are overrated anyway, right?  I can take them all on myself with my rocket launcher randomly shooting around.  Besides, if I swap to something else, I'll just more then likely blow up my legs again.

I'm debating if I need a proper mouse to play this game.  See, on the one hand, it's very obvious I can't play this well in it's current state.

On the other hand, it's utterly hilarious to fail this much at such an easy to control game in an online environment where everyone is counting on me actually being decent enough to keep my own head on my body.

And entertaining for me to hear the wonderful Text to Speech (which is terrible) try to pronounce all the swear words and uses of stuff I won't repeat here that are tossed my way when I blew up 3 teammates along with myself using the rocket launcher while no more enemies were even in my view at the time.

The ultimate point of the game is to be entertaining, isn't it?  So I guess, logically, that the game is doing it's job with or without the proper mouse to play it with.

Somehow I don't think I'm getting let into any UT leagues anytime soon though.  For some reason, everyone seems to hate me now.

The game itself is awesome, moddable and customizable to hell and back, and makes for many long hours of LAN or internet play with random bot personalities to fill in empty slots for play.  In other words, lots of features many of the modern games forget to put in that make it awesome even if you are playing by yourself.  It's also only $10 for the Editors Choice Edition off GOG, which is about 20 cheaper then what UT3 will cost you on a good day.  (For your info, UT3 is shiny but last I tried it during a free steam weekend, it was missing a LOT of options and modifications that UT2004 had.  It really needs at least 1 good expansion pack before it's got enough content to warrant it's steep price.).  Not that I'd shamelessly plug anything on here.

*makes a note to swap to a proper mouse next time he plays.*

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Vacation, Android Phones, and beta testing mysterious new technology

This week is vacation week, and I'm leaving Monday and Tuesday with the family.  I probably will just take the whole week easy so I can regain my inspiration and sanity again.

On the development front, I am now beta testing a new plugin for MMF2.  I don't think I signed an NDA(yet), but I'm not sure they want me spilling all the gritty details since they arn't finalized anyway.  Basically, know that it outputs MMF2 apps to Android OS., through a code translator similar to the Flash MMF2 plugin.  Like the flash plugin, the final files arn't the most efficiant use of space, but they can do everything MMF2's base engine can do plus access many exciting android phone/tablet specific features.  It's very unstable right now and buggy(thus the beta testing, duh).  But it's also exciting.

It also overwrites the normal MMF2 exe currently with a beta version.  While it "should" be safe to work on my flash games so long as I don't touch any android stuff with them, Clickteam doesn't recommend it, and I'd have to agree with them.  So my flash games are on hold while I help grind away all the bugs out of the android beta.  Actually, that isn't entirely true, I can work on my games, I just need to reinstall the base MMF2 over the android beta.  Due to the compiler references for C++, flash, android, ect. , it's not as simple as just installing two copies of MMF2.  Sadly they will read each other's settings and explode, among other fun bugs, so it's one or the other.

The benifits of being a beta tester are, for now, a discount when the plugin launches(price of the plugin is still to be announced, as is release date).  And of course the ability to learn all the nitty gritty details about things like the accelerometer device before the MMF2 plugin is even out, without needing to spend weeks studying and testing java or C++ code.

While I'm not being paid in any way as far as money goes, it's still a fun and useful experience.  It's also pretty cool to be able to suggest feature changes/additions so that when the plugin does come out everyone buying it gets their money's worth.  Plus, as an expert user of MMF2, I already know how to push the MMF2 engine to it's limits, and can dump those to the phone to watch it break down and cry.  (Which it currently does about 50% of the time.  Beta versions of creative development software that does lots of different things are fun!)

Till next time,


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Humble Bundle #3

You all know the drill by now right?  5 awesome indy games, all multiplatform(That means Mac, PC, and Linux), all for whatever price you name.

You can be cheap and pay $1, or supportive and pay however much you think the charity/developer deserves.  Actually, if it's anything like Humble Bundle 2, some people were buying it for $0.01 USD, but that seems kind of mean.

It's split default between both charity and developer, but you can control exactly where every penny of your purchase goes yourself with handy sliders.  PS: They support paypal, bank transfers, and lots of other methods of payment, so if you've got some change lying around in any of those accounts, go for it.)

Go grab a copy for yourself.  There's really, quite literally, no reason not to.  The games are a total value of $50 USD entertainment on their own outside of the bundle when bought seperately.  Quite frankly, VVVVV and Hammerfight alone are well worth the ride.  Crayon Physics is pretty cool too.  And Yet It Moves and Cogs, maybe not so much, but still decent and worth the time at least playing a bit of.  The only thing hard about this purchase is how much fun you think you'll get out of these games for the money you decide to put in.

Why are you still here?  Oh, right, cause I forgot the url.  Here ya go, now get out there and grab it:


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Not dead yet

The lack of updates here may seem like I'm not doing much.  Actually, I've been doing a lot, just not gaming related.

In Real Life, I've been very busy job hunting.

In between job hunting, I've also been busy helping out some friends of mine with fixing up a house.  It's sort of a "I learn construction from them, they get extra free labor from me" kind of deal.  For now I'm helping when I can, but it's under the understanding that if I get a job that pays money, I'm doing that instead.

Shameless blog plug for their house project coming up:

Check it out if you want to see what a house looks like when it's been abandoned for 3 years straight.  Eeek!

A lot of my game projects are still in conceptual form, much too early to release any shots or info.  I know I've been saying that a lot, so I've tossed together a quick screenshot for you all to look at.  You'll probably know right away what it is if you've played the other flash game.  I've blurred out most of it because it's very much in conceptual state and not even close to what the final game will look like.

Yep, Smiley has walls that scroll by now...and yes, I am working on a Smiley Gems 2.

The game will have a much more polished, faster paced gameplay of the first game.  I've taken into account a lot of your player feedback for the first game, as well as my own tester's feedback, and I think this new one will make for a much better time killer type of flash game.

Not satisfied with just releasing a refined version of the first Smiley Gems, I've also been working on a new gameplay mode...Volcano Raid.  The screenshot is from this new mode, in case you are wondering why I have walls involved.  The new mode is still very much loose ideas on paper, so I'll have more info to spill once the gameplay is more solidified.  Scoring tables for both modes will be seperate, as the two scores are not comparable at all.

Oh, and the jem/mine spawnings are funny(in a kick someone down a manhole way) and not very fair at all right now.  I got a lot of work formulating and implementing new spawning rules for the gameplay.

As time allows me, I'll continue working on my game projects, and keep you all posted.

I've also recently gotten an Android Phone (Motorola Blur), so I might post some game reviews/recommendations for that as well.  There certainly is a lot of apps and not all of them are that great, so I think I'll post some info to help you all sort through the trash to find the treasures.

I'm also really excited to try developing for the Android if I ever get enough free time to invest in learning the SDK and the billions of tools out there.

Like someone at a crossroads with a broken signpost, I don't know where any of this will lead yet.  But there's no sense standing here waiting, it's time to plow ahead and find out.

Till next time,


Friday, June 24, 2011


Spent the last few weeks making balloons, and floating them all into the sky.  The balloons are free, but the time spent writing them took a lot out of me.

They all contained a bit of personal writing, each directed at the intended reciever, each with some explanation why I would be one of the best choices for their particular Hot Air Balloon Crew.  Each was carefully written, edited, and rewritten again.  Though some Hot Air Balloon Crew positions are very similar, so I may have recycled some of my writings.

Yet I still had to take the time to fill the balloons and launch them into the right breeze.  The Air Tubes are a bit of a mess since they haven't standardized it, so it takes even more time investment to figure out how to send the message to each Hot Air Balloon Crew.

I've released them all into the world, hoping someone would read them and consider me for their own Hot Air Balloon Crew.

The thing with balloon messages is, the balloon only flies to the sender.  There's no way for the reciever to reply unless they take their own time to make a balloon themselves.  And these Hot Air Balloon Crews, they get a lot of balloons.  They get so many, it's impossible to reply to anyone except the one person they selected for their Hot Air Balloon Crew.

I've sent so many, I've now run out of Hot Air Balloon Crews to send messages to.  And, like most people applying for Hot Air Balloon Crews, I've heard nothing back.

But that's ok.  Because once those crews take flight, the next fleet of Hot Air Balloon Crews will start building their own landing platforms and forming new crews.  They'll need someone to send balloons so they can look through them all and decide who is making it on board the next flight.

So for now, I watch.  I wait.  And when the new crews show up, I start sending my balloon messages again. 

Because that's another thing about balloon messages.  If I don't ever send one, I'll never know where, to who, or when it might land.  And somewhere out there, someone on a Hot Air Balloon Crew just might finally take the time to write me back.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Look up there! Fancy tab buttons!

Not much of an update this time.

Basically just wanted to say I've got a page on this blog now where I will be listing games I finished and released.  For those new to the blog, I don't think I've actually linked to Smiley Gems, my first released flash game.  So go check it out.

As for game design, little to report.  A lot has been done, but nothing publically shareable yet.

One major breakthrough is that I worked out some unity code to move a player relative to the direction the camera is facing, without moving them on anything but the XZ plane.  In non-technical terms, this means the player can control themselves like in Zelda 64 or other 3d platformers, where the controls change based on where the camera is looking.  The math to do this sort of split my head open, but it's working.

And in the world of other games, I'm still a hopeless Minecraft addict.  On our local lan server, I've built an entire, independant, enemy immune fort complete with renewable wood, infinite water spring, animal spawning areas, wheat, sugarcane, storage for literally everything in the game, and cactus.  All built over the last few weekends, starting with the outer wall.  Now I've got a donation box set up for a potential roller coaster.  I think it's safe to say I'm terribly addicted.

At least I don't play it when I'm supposed to be getting work done.  Not yet anyway.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Blender Rocks

Blender's new interface ROCKS HARD!  Finally I can find the buttons and get stuff done without 30 minuites looking for the interface window I acidentally closed down or turned into another rendering window.

Me and my sis have been working on 3d modeling some stuff for a 3d platformer/action game to be made in Unity.  It's way too early to say anymore, so I must resist the urge to spill out everything here.

It feels so good to be sketching concept art for it again.  Finally there's a use for all this background world design I've been doing to the universe the characters are in.  Even if half of it won't be visible in the final game at all. :)

Last few days were pretty much consumed by learning Blender stuff, drawing concepts for the 3d game, and of course, heavy playing of Portal 2 and all the "The Incredible Machine" games in the pack from  If you like puzzle games I highly recommend TIM, any version.  Except the DOS version original might need some warming up before you enjoy it, and a bit of manual reading.  The other versions are brillant though.

As for Portal 2, I haven't finished it yet, but I can safely say that aside from the first 30 minuites of the game where they had to teach newcomers to the series the basics, it's so far been brillant and a good, proper sequal.  And thank goodness, no super annoying triple-fling puzzles(yet).  The puzzles this time around are a lot more about preparing the rooms and falling into portals, not shooting while on the fly.  Which is a very welcome change indeed, because the whole shooting on the fly to continue warping through the rooms was more frustrating then fun.  If you haven't already, and you're not prone to being motion sick, put Portal 2 on the very top of your games to get list, NOW!

I'm also trembling in anticipation of the next Minecraft update.  1.6 is supposed to come out this week, and with it, the ability to make a portal to the Nether in multiplayer.  Much hillarity is bound to be had with such an abusable, if resource expensive power.

Updates may end up few and far between for now, as there are so many other things I am busy with that I rarely have time/energy to write.  I'll try to post any major developments.

Till next time, Gawain Doell, signing off.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

My eyes are shot(not literally, thankfully).

Having trouble reading some of my code, or doing the graphical work for the enemy designs, mainly testing the smoothing of the animations during the actual game, which need to be scrutinized at the per pixel level.  My eyes are on the fritz.

Thankfully, I go to see the eye doc tomorrow, and from there the timer starts till my glasses become useful again.  Been way too long since my last visit evedently.  I think it's been over a year or so, at least long enough where I can't remember the last visit.

I can still drive and play/review games, and thankfully the blogger publishing interface has big enough text where I can write blogs.(though if I get . and , mixed up, it's cause I can't really tell the difference anymore.)  So I'm not totally out of stuff to do yet.  :)

Needless to say, not going to get much work done till this is fixed.  So if I don't update, don't panic, it's just cause I really need to be able to see clearly before I get any more work done. ;)  At least in regards to my MMF work.

See you next post,


Monday, May 9, 2011

Update, The Ball review

Just a quick summary of updates to prove this blog isn't totally dead, random stuff follows.

First off, if you haven't played it yet, and you don't mind a bit of blood, go play The Ball.  I just finished it yesterday, and it's a very solid puzzle/action/first person game with a heavy emphisis on puzzle.  The designers clearly put a lot of effort into making sure the puzzles were challenging without being frustrating.  Highly recommended!  It's also one of the few puzzle games that I'd be glad to play again from the beginning a second time, because the puzzles are just so fun to do for the most part.

I mean, you get a GIANT ball nearly twice your height to roll around with a push/pull gun, and that, plus your wits and mind, are your only weapon the entire 8+ hour game.  Brillantly fun!

In other news, I've begun to design/script some enemies for the random platforming project.  Currently working on a simple slime enemy.  It's actually pretty complicated making enemies that need to just be dropped into a level and deal with whatever is generated at the time.  But it's pretty fun to be drawing stuff again, for once.

Till next time, this is Gawain signing off.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Numerous adventures in platforming stuff

Finally got some work done this friday after RL and my tiredness gave me time to think.

Platforming physics for moving, jumping, and double jumping* are all done.  (*which is really just a matter of letting the game keep a count how many times the player jumped, for those interested in how to go about making such a system.)

There is currently a weird bug that makes the player unable to double jump if they walk off an edge.  The game only gives them the second mid-air jump even though both first and second jump should use the same code.  I'm writing it off as a "feature" for now, till I can wrap my head around why on earth walking off an edge suddenly lowers the amount of jumps you can do. 

It's particularly puzzling because all the double jump does is allow you to jump again in the air, and falling or not having ground under the player isn't even in the conditions for allowing a jump.  But that's all boring mumbo-jumbo I won't get into.

The system allows for an "interrupt animation" to be played.  That is a term I just made up on the spot, basically it means that the physics will only control the animations of the player if they are NOT doing something else.  In other words, I can make the player play an attack animation without worrying about cancelling it halfway through to play the walking animation.  If you still don't quite understand, just know the important thing is that this system lets me program an attack into the players actions without disabling the physics while they are attacking.

So basically now I need to work on edge grabbing, and some combat attacks, as well as getting "hurt" and reacting to taking damage.  Edge grabbing should be simple enough, but if it proves a pain I will just drop it.  Combat and taking damage is a must or we don't have much of a game.

I could add in support for ramps, but that seems rather useless for version 1, especally since my level generator doesn't understand how to build such things.  Needlessly complicated, I say.

In non-work related news, in no particular order, the following awsome stuff happened or I found them:

--- (I've added these in between topic changes to prevent confusion in this massive infodump of doom.  Enjoy.)

Uru Live has gone Open Source!  Cyan even already updated the MOULa game with the first minor fan created patch, straight from the Grey Hats themselves.  I'll let Cyan speak for themselves and just link the letter here:

Or you can go straight to yourself.

Of course, this news in and of itself means next to nothing for non-MystFanCodeHeads, myself included.  But I'm excited anyway, because it brings us one giant step closer to getting some of the fantastic, canon friendly, fan created ages onto the real URU servers, in full blown multiplayer form.


This is by far the most expensive game ever on Amazon, but you save a lot by letting them rip you off.  I thought it was hillarious, but please don't ever buy it new from them.

Gotta love automated amazon pricing, and minor mistypes in prices.  Just look how much you save.

PS: If you really want the Incredible Machine series of games(they are pretty fantastic puzzlers), check out the Incredible Machine Megapack at gog instead.

For that price, I've been thinking of picking up a copy for myself.  They are all pretty old, but their mostly solid puzzle design and the inclusion of the editor "free form" mode in every version makes them a very worthy purchase.  I'd pay that price for just TIM3 alone, easy.


It's that time again, time for the humble bundle to steal however much money you want it to steal, and then use it for a good cause.

This time it's a pretty solid mix of stuff all from Frozenbyte.  Trine in particular is spectacular on it's own if you for some reason still don't have it.  But I'm especally excited about Splot, just because that blue fellow looks insanely random and cool.

They come with their soundtracks too.  Trine's got some lovely music going on in it, well worth picking up.  And you've got no excuse with that kind of pricing.


And last, a fictional day in a land of glass.

The products are mostly rather expensive and random looking, but the technology the company is working on is really really cool.  Things like Gorrila Glass, glass that can "think" and  be "interactive" with computers/touchscreen inside it, rollable computer glass, and even glass that powers itself using the energy of the sunlight shining through it.  Crazy sounding stuff, but also just plain really really cool.

I also like the music score for the ad/short.  It's nice and uplifting, good after a long day of work.  You can obtain a copy yourself from here for now, I have no idea if the artist is actually going to sell it or if it was just a promotional track thingy by Corning:


Been playing 9 hours, 9 persons, 9 doors for the DS.  It's rated M for a reason, but it's a really good Japanese Storybook type game crossed with Myst-like puzzle rooms in between.  Lots of endings too...which seem to be part of some bigger ending plot that I probably need all of the endings to actually know what to do for.  I do recommend it, but only if you're ok with the content involving vivid descriptions/imagey of dead/mutilated human bodies while not fully knowing who is responsible till the end(if you even go the right way in the first place).  It's pretty disturbing on the first few playthroughs, and might cause a distinct lack of sleep.

On a less disturbing but equally M rated note, I've also been playing God of War on the PS2.  Actually, I finished God of War over the course of two straight days playing through it, and am now a bit into the second one.  I can say two things about it.  First, you really arn't the nicest person around, and all of the puzzle "solutions" almost always involve having everyone else be sent to the afterlife.  Second, it's very clear this game's power lies in its fantastic storytelling, well written dialog, and some very sweet, kick ass level design.  It's rare to find a platformer that uses levels to tell just as much of a story as it's dialog and cutscenes, and God of War, and it's sequal (so far anyway), does it well.

I just wish Kratos wasn't such a meany anti-hero, even if it does suit his character and the storyline.  I keep wanting to be a good guy and save people, but instead I keep having to use them for extra weight during puzzles.  This game really needs some Prince of Persia: Sands of Time/Warrior Within flavored "good or evil" choices in it, even if both outcomes turn out the same. 

Oh well, at least he's got a good, deep reasoning behind his choices and solutions to things, even if I don't agree with them.  Which I guess means they did a phenominal job telling the storyline and characters, if I can sympathise with his logic even though it goes against what I would have done in the situation.

And with that, I'm signing off for now, it's 1:33 AM and I really need sleep.  See ya later.

*half expects the labeling system to throw a fit at him with this one.*

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The attack of Real Life, Dropping a Beat Like an Ugly Baby, and a 3d game concept I've half baked.

That may be the most disturbing title I've got so far for one of these blog posts.

Life has been keeping me pretty busy, and unable to get much done physically aside from a bit of Unity Engine studying and a few other things not mentionable just yet.

Well, there also is the fact I am having a bit too much fun playing the beta of 1...2...3...Kick It! (Drop That Beat Like an Ugly Baby).  (A music driven Aaaaa type game, which is currently on sale for 5 bucks and paying that earns you the full version too.)  The title rocks, the game rocks, but is a bit rusty due to the whole beta thing.  I recommend picking it up anyway since if they can finish it, the full version will rock hard, and it's half off.

However, that hasn't stopped my designer's mind from working.  I've got a concept in my head of a simple 3d platformer in Unity starring a very special character dear to my heart.  You might have seen him in my avatar(I said my avatar, not the movies silly).  It's probably a good first project because it will be simple to program, unlike a lot of other random concepts me and my sister have been brainstorming.

So here we go, concept dump time.  This is more for me then you, but I figure it's unoriginal enough to be public:

A simple, level based platformer, along the lines of Mario 64.  Basic platform movement, simple mechanics(much more simple then Mario 64's Long Jumps and such).  Stuff to collect in each level, as follows:

-100 cherries, these are used to earn your way through doors, like notes in Banjo Kazooie
-10 Smiley Tokens, these are very much like Stars, but they don't end the level when collected.  There is actually 11 in each level, but one is very well hidden.

The platforming probably won't allow for more then basic jumping, if I can manage it, I'd like to do wall jumping or double jumping too, because such jumping mechanics make for some interesting level design.

As for levels themselves, I think it will work best if there is one main "hub" level, in which all the others are connected to.  The other levels will more then likely be very abstract and "floaty in the sky like", both to save time, and because it's easier to make challenging platform levels if you don't need to worry about being stuck in a lower part of the level.  They each will be themed.  To save development time, some levels will probably be themed the same, but use gameplay changes or clever level design to be different from each other.  The basic idea is that each level should be memorable as a unique area, to aid the player in collecting the remaining loot later.

The game engine itself needs to support some form of basic NPC text babbling.  I'd love to have it work realtime, while the player is still moving around, but that may prove too tricky to program for a first game.

Enemies will more then likely be pretty easy to fight, requiring either a bop on the head, or some other easy single hit solution.  I'm trying to keep the controls simple, so having no attack button is more then likely the way to go. 

Ideally the controls would simply be arrow keys(or joystick) and one single button for jumping.  Thus the auto-talking NPC support.  But if this proves too hard to do, and I need to add in a "talk" button, then that same "talk" button would be used to interact/attack things as well.

So far it's not sounding very original.  But it does sound fun, and that's what matters most.  Hopefully I can apply my good game design instincts to the levels so that they are challenging but loads of fun to play through.

And of course, like all things, by the time we get to the end product, it might end up so different the above concept doesn't even apply.  Such is the way of independant game development.

Most of my next work hours are going to be spent animating our hero of the game, while trying to learn how Unity does animations(so far it does it well and simple enough).  So far, all he does is blink, but it's a blinking animation that only animates his eyes and thus is easily mix-played with others.  Dynamic mixing of animations for the win.

See ya next post.  Maybe I'll have less concept and more solid stuff from one of my projects to show by then.

*dives back into the madness of Real Life Situations Becoming a Mess While Video Games Distract Me With Welcome Breaks*

Monday, March 28, 2011

Random platforming levels

Currently working on a sort of level generator for very basic platforming games.  It's so far generating the ground with varying heights, and making pits of random length. 

All of these random numbers are pulled from a set of parameters, meaning different levels can generate different feeling stuff.  For example, one level might make wide gaps and long strings of bricks to make a waterfall/cliffside type level, while another makes 2 brick wide posts over tiny gaps to make a challenging jumping area.

Today I added in support for making a "roof" to the level.  This works pretty much like the floor, only upwards.  It's using the same block distance and settings as the floor right now, but I might seperate that later on.  The roof's position in height is based on a set randomized distance from the floor, which should in theory allow for control over the overall empty space in the level.

In reality, sometimes the game is making dead ends now, because the next block of level has the roof too low or the floor too high compared to the last block.  Doh!

It should be a rather simple fix.  I just need it to know what the last block looked like, and not make the next one something that is impassable.

I'd post a demo of it in action, but it's nowhere near any condition to be playable yet.  The main problem is that the player physics are still the default MMF2 platform movement(yes, the terrible one from back in click and create, not the extension movement that is actually good).  And the player's spawn isn't changed yet, so half the time I'm stuck in a wall/roof when I test it out.  Oh, and of course, everything is ugly squares on a white background.  Yeah...maybe I'll just hold off till I get all the game together.

Eventually, what I've got on paper is a lighter, platform game version of an old Rougelike game.
Once I iron out all the bugs, get some sane platform movement/fighting code in place, and get it going from scene to scene("Floors" in the traditional Rougelike), I plan on making a couple of different release versions.  This all depends on how solid or expandable the gameplay turns out to be:

-A single dungeon, no saving flash game. 

This version would be a light, easy to start up romp that tosses you straight into hacking through a probably limitless (or just very very long) dungeon.  Since there's no save and only one life, the game would make a good "coffee break" kind of action/platformer while having that light touch of "how far can your luck/skill hold out?"

-A more complex, multi dungeon stand alone game. 

More then likely, this version would be a downloadable PC game exe.  The great thing with the stand alone version is that I could very easily have two versions, a paid for version and a free "shareware type" version. 

Obveously, the latter "full version" is a very ambitious project.  I'm definetly doing the smaller single dungeon flash game first.

My original idea was to have this be an online, profile driven game that saves your progress in an account, and possibly even had multiplayer. (LAN style 2 to 4 players helping a host for one dungeon, not MMO all on the same server) support.  But I've looked into the backend of those things and I lack the time/money/server/security to invest in such an endeavor.

So that's pretty much what I've been up to lately on the game developer side of the coin.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The number 2 pencil

A number 2 pencil.

Does it make colors?  Only shades of grey, implied colors that will never be as colorful or powerful as true colors.

Does it make art?

I feel as though I am an artist, holding a pencil, with nothing else to work with.  Where others have fancy game engine coders and an army of tools unique to their platforms, I have generic "catch all" tools that can do lots of things, but none of it as good as the unique ones.


Doesn't the number 2 pencil also have the same capability, however limited, to make new things?

I've got a few tools, Multimedia Fusion 2, Unity Engine, and paper.  Not the same tools used by other professional artists, but tools that are rather flexible, if lacking in shine.

Can my number 2 pencil make art?  I believe the answer is yes.

Am I capable of getting there?

I intend to find out, for better or worse.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Internet streaming software Screamer Radio, my new fun toy

Yes, I am well aware that this has nothing to do with games, but this software is so sweet it deserves a shoutout.

Got Screamer Radio when my old internet radio streamer decided to go all "free trial expired" on me.

Sweet little piece of software, simple and to the point with no graphical fluff or bloated interface in the way.  Latest stable version runs fine in Windows 7.

One really nice feature I can't get enough of is the buffering stream navigation buttons. Put simply, because it buffers a few minuites of the song to memory, you can listen to the song, and then effectively "jump back in time" to start the recording tool if you wanted to record what you're currently hearing.  I kinda wish I could configure or at least know how far back it jumped, but it's certainly better then it not being there at all.

It's even got a Mute button, so that you can leave it recording while you play and listen to something else(like Bejeweled 3). It won't record anything but the stream, and can record on mute, so click and make noise away.

I think I found my new fun toy this week! Got an unused Vista partition on my hard drive to record stuff to with about 40+ Gigs of space on it. Time to make use of that hardware with something worthwhile to listen to. :D

Anyway, link so you can check it out:

Go let the developer know you like his software too!  It's developed by one cool guy in his spare time between work, so I'm sure he'd appreciate the encouragement and thanks!

Anyone know a good modern rock station?  I got for my world/newage music needs, and various jazz stations, but I keep finding oldie rock stations instead of modern ones.  Not that I'm complaining, it's all free after all. :)

Enjoy, and have a great day!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

5 Good Games off Steam for under 15 bucks.

So, you've got only a bit of money left, and you are wondering what game you can buy?

Well, here's a list of games off steam that are all under $10 to $15 USD, and are so well worth the money you'll wish you paid full price.  Some are shining examples of what an independant game development team can do, others are sweet sweet deals from bigger corps who've decided to cut in on the "smaller, but cheaper" game making budgets.

All are guranteed to be the same quality as some triple AAA $50 games, and maybe even surpass some of them in fun factor.  Enjoy, and happy shopping!

Beat Hazard

Music powered duel stick shooter.  Comes complete with Co-op and VS on the same PC, assuming you've got two controllers to play with.  The controller config is designed to support just about any two stick controller, myself I prefer some PS2 controllers with USB adapters.

You can load up any music you have on your PC, as well as audio cds(not sure if audio cds will save your scores, I have all mine ripped to my PC).

It's very graphically intense for a 2d shooter, so if you're prone to flashing lights like in rock concerts, be warned it has many similar graphical effects.

See shots of it in action, and grab a copy for yourself from the below URL.  You can also check out a demo, limited in plays and tracks, to test out if it will work on your system and get a taste of the gameplay.


Breakout game with real physics, gravity, interconnected pieces, and lots of good old-school chaos.

This one is worth the price of admission for the soundtrack alone, but it's also a very solid breakout game with a few twists.  Thanks to it's varied gameplay and well designed stages, it doesn't get old, and is fun to replay as well. 

One might also be surprised to find it has a storyline, loosely and minimally told, but it's there and a good one.  It's also got a couple 2 player Co-op modes, but the meat of the game is the single player story mode.

If you want some old school action with some new fancy physics and really cool effects, Shatter is a sure fire bet.  It's a work of art.

For those on PS3, there is a version of Shatter for the PS3 network.  I prefer using the mouse control on the PC version to a controller, but rest assured both versions have the same modes.

No demo, but the video does a good job showing you what to expect from the game.  Rest assured, you'll feel like you should have paid much more then the 10 bucks.

Toki Tori

A beautiful puzzle/platformer with a heavy emphasis on planning ahead as you use tools and Toki-Tori's very simple movement to collect all the eggs.

To put it simply, this game is so well polished and has so many fantastic, devious, yet well designed levels, it should be a 20 dollar game.  It'll charm you from beginning to end, and each world has it's own little twist that reworks how solving the puzzles in that world feels.  The difficulty goes from rather easy to brick hard rather fast, while never feeling unfairly complex.  All the levels have some trick to them that once figured out, makes solving the level a joy.  I always felt a sense of satisfaction that I solved the puzzle, and rarely felt "cheated".

Oh, and Toki-Tori is like the cutest fellow ever.  I really doubt anyone could look at him and not smile at the way he wobbles about the levels and cheers when you finish them.  Simply adorable.

One bit of warning:  A couple of the levels require you to quickly use your tools, or use them with careful timing.  Thankfully this is the exception, but sadly it means that players slow on the trigger probably will need help from a friend later on to finish the game, as at least one of these type of levels is required to be finished in the main storyline puzzles.

Grab the game demo from here to try it out, or purchase the game from Steam for a measly 5 bucks.  That's less then a dinner out for a game that will entertain and puzzle you for at least a good 20 hours.

Puzzle Dimension

Pure puzzle game.  The demo doesn't do it's difficulty justice, rest assured the full game makes much deeper use of the puzzle elements and unique spacial properties of the game.

Not a single timed section, you always can sit there and plan out your next move.  Even the "crumbling paths" only crumble once you decide to move off of them, serving their purpose of being one way while not making you rush over them.  There is no "monkey ball physics" or "elements of chance/skill" involved.  Instead, all the puzzles rely on your abilty to grasp the spacial design of the level and plot out a path that won't drop you off the edge.

This is the kind of puzzle game you can sit down and just stare at a puzzle for hours, solving it in your head without worry about time running out or not having the skill to roll the ball along the route. 

Only 100 puzzles may not sound like much, but once you see the scope and complexity of the later stages, you'll understand why they didn't make any more complex ones.  The game cuts off well above the "Genious" level of puzzle solving, becoming more of a Zen-like game.  You'll find yourself haunted by the last puzzle's layout you didn't solve, spinning it in your head at work/school as you suddenly comprehend a path you missed that makes everything click. 

One other thing that really makes it stand out is the atmosphere of the game.  When you start a puzzle, the music is like a chiptune and the graphics are very retro(in a stylish way).  As you roll the ball by tiles, they "upgrade" to their higher definition modern graphical standard look.  As the level is "depixelated", the music magically blends into a more modern mix.  The effect is that as you solve the puzzle in your mind, the puzzle visually and audiably "solves" itself, becoming more clear.  The sweet thing is that no matter which form the tiles are in, they are very recognizable, so this becomes a beautiful reward for exploring the puzzle completly without ruining the pure puzzle solving gameplay.

I can't recommend it enough, for 10 bucks it's the best spacial/logic puzzle game I ever bought.  Oh, and one more thing, it's for Mac too(and looks just as beautiful there)!

Get the game, check out the demo, and see a video of it in action here:

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light

Fully co-op, fully single player, top isometric shooter/action/puzzle/adventure game. 

The puzzles change between co-op and single player modes.  This game is basically one of the best Co-op games ever.  Both of you have different skills, and the puzzles are much more complex then just "this is for player 2 to solve while player 1 stands there".  They almost all the time require both of you to be working at once to solve the puzzle.

Add in some of the sweetest co-op battles and action sequences where you both have to think to look out for each other as well as survive yourself, and you've got a recipie for a beautiful Co-op experience.  It's also got a good storyline to boot.

I want to say setting up the controls is a bit confusing since the control setup can't be done in mid-game, and doesn't do a good job telling you what the buttons will be used for.  But this game is well worth the 15 minuites setup of controllers.

If you want to skip out on the controller setup, you can also get it for X-Box360, off the marketplace there.  I can't speak for if that version is better or worse then the PC version, but it does have the full co-op and single player gameplay.

Oh, and for those wondering if the character packs are worth it, yes, they certainly are.  It's much more then a character swap, they redid all the voice acting for the game to be the new characters, and even added a few new voice triggers to the puzzles.  The result is downright hillarious.  It makes replaying the levels to get all the artifacts pretty funny, but do make sure to play the game normally first, as the normal game is a work of art in itself.

Check out a demo, or buy the full game from steam for a mere 15 bucks.

And with that, this is Gawain, signing off till next post.  Enjoy!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Introduction Post

I'm Gawain, and I basically grew up on video games.  Currently I both play and also make games as a self titled "Independant Game Designer".

I fell in love with video games once I got an old 486 PC(with DOS OS).  Been hooked since, and once I found an old dos shareware game called "Jetpack" with an editor, I got hooked on the design aspect of it too. 

Artistically, I'm very much a Game Designer, designing stories or worlds that are meant to be experienced, not just told.  Games are like my canvas, and like an artist, I use my tools to express myself and create things for myself and others to enjoy.

One of my favorite games of all time is Myst, and the rest of the series since.  If any single game influenced my view of games as an artistic medium, it was Myst.  It sticks out in my mind forever as a game that was so simple to play, yet so deep in both backstory and themes, and hauntingly beautiful.  It was the first game I know of that really showed that this medium can be used as an art form, and can express and move people even deeper then a movie or book.  The fact people still buy and play it

That brings me to why I love video games as a medium.  It's because they have the capability to be a storybook, a movie, and just a fun toy to pass the time, all at once. 

There's tremendous potential for interactive storytelling in video games, and many recent games have gotten very good at tapping into that, even going so far as to tell some deep political or social statements about the world, our history, and the way we think. 

And at the same time, some games are just fun things to play or do.

I'd make a list of all the games that have influenced me throughout the years, but it would be too long and take way to much time.  You'd all fall asleep long before you got the picture.  Instead, I think it's better to save those for future blog posts.

Ultimately, this blog is a way for me to share my journey with you.  Expect the following subjects to show up, in random, spontanious order:

  • My experiences with games I have played, and why they influenced or are interesting.  I promise it will be interesting and not "hi I love this game and it's awsome you should play it lol".

  • Info, previews, and announcements about my own game projects.  I make games too, and I'll keep you all posted as they polish up into playable art.

  • Expect lots of theories, as I openly spill my thought process of a self declared game designer.  It's like a free lesson in Game Design while watching me put it to practice.  From general "why do games do this" to the nitty gritty stuff, I intend to share all my game design knowledge.  Lots of you might agree or disagree, but hopefully I'll at least explain my logical thinking process so you can see why I did what I did.
One thing you will not find is me saying what I'm going to post next.  I want to keep this as fresh, spontanious, and true to my own current experience and belief as possible, so what comes next is as much a surprise to me as it is to you.  :)

So thanks for joining me on my journey through gaming.  Hope you enjoy the ride, and see you in the next post, whatever it may bring!