Devlog – Getting sidetracked

So work has gotten to be a bit of a burden these days, so development on the inventory system (which is extremely complex and requires some serious concentration and very little downtime) has been paused until I can free up a good section of time.

carIn the meanwhile I’ve been working on a little side project inspired by playing The Saboteur. It’s a semi-realistic racing sim that takes place between WW1 and WW2, before Formula 1 officially existed. I’ve started
modeling period-correct cars and it’s going pretty well, much better than anything I’ve modeled before. My Blender skills are definitely improving. I’m planning on implementing the driver/mechanic partnership, with spare parts having to be carried on the vehicle and all repairs done on the road. There will probably also be very few actual racetracks, as most races took part on actual roads back then. I’m also foreseeing different classes – production cars, modified and purpose-built racing cars. I’m thinking of implementing a workshop and RnD section where you can improve cars, as well as having time pass so that newer models and technology becomes available as you play.

As for the programming side, the cars do drive at this point, but it still needs to be tuned to match the eras, and a gearbox and damage has to be added. All in all I’m pretty happy with the result of one week of work (most of it getting some modeling done).

Also – Forza 6 Apex is awesome!

Lord British is back!

I cannot tell you how excited I am about the news I received this morning! The person who probably shaped most of my childhood, the creator of worlds, the epitome of all that is great in RPG, has decided to grace us with a new game. Richard Garriot, creator of the greatest and longest-running RPG series in the history of computer gaming, has launched a Kickstarter project for his upcoming game (Hopefully October 2014) – Shroud of the Avatar, Forsaken Virtues.

As you can see from the early preview above, and from reading the Kickstarter project details, great stuff are coming our way. A true RPG’er wants to immerse himself in the game, not just hack away to fill an experience bar, and I think that from the meagre details available at the moment, they are doing a good job of it. I especially like the trade, crafting and housing system that they are planning, as well as the fact that it’s NOT BLOODY ONLINE DEPENDENT! If you want to play single-player, you can without a connection. If you want to be able to play this game again in twenty years, you don’t have to worry if the servers are still running. Hey Blizzard, EA and all you other money-grabbing bastards – take note.

The game seems to expand upon the ideals of the Avatar, the protagonist of the Ultima series, and Ultima and I share a long history. My first meeting with the Ultima series was actually a book, more specifically a novelized walkthrough called The Avatar Adventures. A friend of mine had the book at school when I was about 10. I read it voraciously in my lunch breaks and was then overjoyed when it turned out that my neighbor had Ultima IV on his PC. I then spent the next few months firmly robbing said neighbor of the use of said PC. Then, much later, when I finally had a PC of my own with an actual graphics card (a monstrous EGA card), I was lucky enough to find the complete Ultima collection at a second-hand store – a collection I still own today, which sits proudly on my shelf of all things gaming.

Anyway, go check out the Kickstarter, give Lord British and his cohorts your money, and help shape what is sure to become a classic!

2012 Top Games Round-up

What a year it’s been. The world should have ended, but we’re still here and going strong. And in gaming it’s been quite a trip too, with the market ever shifting towards the casual online scene and small developers really hitting it big. The trend for Indie games making it up there against the AAA titles has continued, with the dare-to-try-something-different approach that was seen in the 90’s.

Since I’ve stopped playing all major MMORPGs, I’ve had a lot of time to test a huge range of games this year, so without further ado, here’s my Top Games of 2012, in both single player and online.

Single player:

Without a doubt the highlight of the year has to be FarCry 3. Improving leaps and bounds over FarCry 2 (which was a stunning game in its’ own rights), the new installment puts you on a beautiful island somewhere between Japan and Australia – with the signs of early civilization and the ravages of World War 2 apparent at every turn. You’re one of a group of fun-loving friends that gets kidnapped by drug manufacturers with the intent on holding you for ransom. You escape, and what follows is a tasty exploration through a well-sculpted world of big guns, bad guys, vicious animals and bewbies!

The story-line is intense, the game drips open-world and everything just works so well, no matter what your playing style. Anyway, a full review will be up soon, so just know that FarCry 3 is a masterpiece of graphics, gameplay, guns and rich characters. Oh, and the ending will make you scream and force you to play again, which isn’t a bad thing at all.

Honourable Mentions – Single Player:

Among the quirky Indie games available, two stand out for me: Kerbal Space Program and Game Dev Tycoon.

Kerbal Space Program (Still in Alpha, but good enough to play) is exactly what it sounds like. Design your own rocket ships to conquer the solar system. Sounds simple enough, but this game is closer to rocket science than anything I’ve seen before. My brother and I have been running challenges between ourselves, setting goals and seeing who can match them first, and as he put it: “Sometimes the difference between getting a sattelite into orbit and blowing up on the launch pad is one rivet – you have to respect the guys that do this for real.” It’s a great little simulator, really worth a shot.

I spotted Game Dev Tycoon on the Windows 8 marketplace and decided to give it a try during one bored day at work. An hour later I was scrabbling for my credit card and got the full version. The premise is simple: it’s about 25 years in the past, with home gaming just starting to gain momentum. You’re one guy trying to develop his own games and make a profit. Do well and your company grows, and so does the technology. The nice thing about the game is the fact that unlike 99.9% of the silly games on the marketplace these days, there are no microtransactions, there are no “Invite your friends to play otherwise you can’t get this crucial piece of kit”. If you have Windows 8, go check it out on the marketplace.


This was a tough one, with tons of games really vying for top spot, but in the end I had to go for World of Tanks. Yes, it was not released in 2012, but I think it has finally matured enough to be called a product. New tanks, new maps, and a host of new battle types has turned it from a grindfest into a thing of beauty. I’ve already reviewed WoT in a previous post, so have a look there for the full details.

Honourable Mention – Online:

I was fortunate enough to Alphatest War Thunder, and now that it’s on public beta I can actually write something about it. It goes on the same lines as World of Tanks – a World War 2 simulator with planes instead of tanks. Great game modes – you don’t just get to shoot the enemy, you actually have to complete objectives – and an all-round fun game. I think the only reason this didn’t get top spot for me this year is because it does still have its flaws – loading times are atrocious and the player base is still too small – if selecting the EU server, you tend to wait quite a few minutes before a game is ready for you, and you tend to play with the same group of people over and over again. If you select All servers, then queues are much faster but you’re shit out of luck communicating if you don’t speak Russian. With a bit more development (some artifacting does occasionally occur, as well as some physics glitches, but it’s improving) and a bigger fanbase, this game can be huge. Well worth the massive download.

Dishonourable mention:

Need for Speed – Most Wanted. OK, so Criterion has taken over from Black Box as the developers of the Need for Speed franchise now. Does that mean that they have to take one of their old titles, put in real cars instead of the fictional ones they used to use, take away half of the things that makes the Burnout series so good, and then call it a Need for Speed title? Fuck no!

The astonishing thing is the reviews by all of the top review sites – they all rave about it! How much did EA pay them? Yes, the franchise has been in decline in the last decade, losing out to the true simulators and the true arcade racers, while frantically bouncing between the two trying to find something that works, but I think they were actually on to something with The Run. Now instead they give us a watered-down version of Burnout Paradise and expect everyone to love it. The handling model is terrible (compared to older NFS titles, and to Burnout for that matter), on the PC the graphics are good for some parts and then awful for others, the Autovista 2 is counter-intuitive on PC (can’t say for the console versions) and the game modes are severely limited.

And then another thing – most of the last few Need for Speed titles have had some form of storyline – The Run actually had a captivating one, one that sucked you in and made every position you won or lost on your journey feel like it meant something. Most Wanted? Nope, it sucks. The Burnout series had some interesting game modes and a vast array of races. Most Wanted? An average of 5 races per car, limited game modes. At least the cars are nicely modeled.

Criterion, go make arcade racers like Burnout and leave Need for Speed to the publishers that can turn out games like the legendary Need for Speed: Porsche Unlimited. The original Most Wanted was a crappy title, this one was utter shite (Unless of course you haven’t played Burnout, in which case it’d probably be OK for you)

The Art of Video Games – Games as art

I’ve always believed that video games are an art form, an expression of the artists and developers. The Smithsonian American Art Museum seems to agree with me, and have started with an exhibition of video games through history. Since its initial conception I’ve voted on my favourites and watched as the idea grew from concept to exhibition.

They have done a successful tour with the idea and are now opening a permanent display at the Smithsonian on March 16, 2012. Sadly things like this don’t happen in South Africa so I’m once again left out, but from the pictures it seems quite impressive.  Games like Pac-Man, Super Mario and Myst will be available to play on the original hardware, and the top voted 80 games, including legends such as Pitfall, Minecraft, Portal, Earthworm Jim anad many others, will be viewable through screenshots and play footage.

There’s also a book available, which I’m seriously considering to add to the coffee table. If you’re in the area, definitely go have a look, and send me some pics!

Adventures in Nethack

Basically I’ve gone utterly off 90% of the games that I own, and pretty much not looking forward to anything that’s on the shelves or coming out in the near future. The only thing that gives me a glimmer of hope at this point is Diablo 3, and that’s been set back by another few months again.

So I’ve returned to an old nightmare – Nethack. It’s one of those games that looks utterly simple on the surface yet has so many ways to kill you, so many different items, so many different ways to play that no two games ever pan out the same. I have to admit that I’ve not ever been any good at it. I’ve never ascended, I’ve never seen the Amulet of Yendor. I’ve never even gotten past the Oracle or Dwarf Town. This time is going to be different – and here’s my story:

I started off as a Chaotic Human Barbarian. I figured this would give me the biggest chance of survival. Things were pretty standard at first, with me only finding a Lawful altar and a fountain on level 2. Much to my surprise though, quaffing from the fountain gave me a Djinn, a friendly one at that. One wish later and I had a greased silver Dragon Scale Armor, albeit only +0. This would be my fighting chance! Bravely I ventured forth, clearing level 3 with ease. Sadly my wand of detect hidden doors failed to find the entrance to the Dwarf Mines, but I did manage to find a hidden vault. I let the guard escort me out, but I took note of it for the future. As soon as I find a pickaxe that gold is mine! Considering my axe is corroded, the gold will come in handy when the shop finishes taking inventory.

I descended to level 4, where a swarm of Hill Orcs made quick work of my kitten. With no time to mourn, I retreated to a tunnel and tried to take them one at a time. One of the Hill Orcs happened to have a wand of digging though, wreaking havoc on the room I had entered from. I dispatched of the Orcs (finding a cloak of invisibility in the process) and continued exploring – just to find the ghost of a previous adventurer – more specifically the highest level adventurer I’ve had. I kicked that ghost till he begged for mercy. Now I’m sitting with all his inventory, and boy was he a hoarder. Now to carry everything back up to level 2 to check for cursed items and then equip myself further, and give my hitpoints a time to regenerate.

Part 2 to follow!

In other news: My WoW account that’s been dormant for almost a year got hacked… No idea how – I’ve ignored every email from Blizzard or the hackers pretending to be Blizzard, I didn’t even have WoW on a hard drive that was plugged into my machine. Anyway, got notified about it on Facebook, quickly changed my RealID password, downloaded the MASSIVE patches and logged in. Damage wasn’t too bad, I didn’t have much to start with. The bot did leave me with a ton of ore and much more gold than what I started with, and a 30 day timecard loaded so I didn’t bother reporting it. Right after this, Blizzard sends me a “Hey, we’ve missed you, here’s 7 days free playtime” email, which turned out to be legit.

This was last week. How much have I played? A total of 7 minutes. Yup, the drug has worn off, it’s out of my system. I’m no longer driven by the WoWmachine.

Street Legal Racing: Redline

Today’s review is on one of my old pets – you know the one, awesome to play with but it keeps crapping on your carpet and chewing your furniture. Street Legal Racing: Redline is that puppy. It’s the second in the Street Legal series by Invictus (a third is rumoured) and improves greatly on the inadequacies of the first one. Sadly it’s just as buggy as the first, requiring multiple patches almost as large as the game install before it’s anywhere close to being playable.

Back to the game itself: The premise is simple – you’re a newbie racer with a bit of cash in your pocket and you have to race your way to the top. You can afford something from the used-car dealer which you can then repair at a cost and start modifying. Don’t bother looking at the new car lot quite yet, this will be out of your reach for a while. Business as usual then, except that unlike most racers where you buy a car and then have limited upgrades available, Street Legal lets you customise your car to your heart’s content. You’ll be fitting each part yourself, tuning things like intake and exhaust cams, air-fuel mixtures, gear ratios and tyre pressure to your heart’s content. Most of the time is spent in the workshop, fiddling with different combinations of spares to try get that extra millisecond off your quarter mile time. The damage model is great too, hit a kerb at speed and your suspension will buckle, hit a tree and you’ve got some serious repairs to do.

The racing is simple. Exit your garage during the day and you’ll see other racers on your minimap, cruising around waiting for challenges. You agree upon a section of road and the stakes (Sort of like the outrun mode in Need for Speed) and you’re off. At night things heat up a little. You head toward the midnight racing location and then take part in organised 1/4-mile drags against ranked opponents for either cash or pink slips. As the power of your car increases it get’s a little harder to keep it in a straight line, resulting in spectacular crashes (and a huge repair bill) if you get it wrong. Build up your car, and your, prestige and you get to take part in the Race of Champions, a mountain circuit race with a grand prize of a new high-powered car.

The cars are loosely based upon real-world cars, with names like Shimutsibu instead of Mitsubishi, Baiern instead of BMW and Furrano as Ferrari. Each car can take a certain type of engine (4cyl, 6cyl, V8, etc) and a certain drive-train (FWD, RWD, 4WD), which can sometimes be modified to other types with special parts. The mod scene for this game is huge, with much more support than the game got from its actual developers, giving you access to many more cars, parts and accessories for the game. There are even community-made patches that greatly improves upon the playability of the game.

The game is still available to purchase, but you can probably find modded game files on the link above (Not that I condone such a thing of course!). If it wasn’t for the awesome customisation and damage model of this game, it wouldn’t have made any impact whatsoever, but the instability of the game engine (This thing crashes more than the Fins crash Escorts in the snow) stops it from being a true great. It has always been a budget title, being released by Activision Value, so don’t expect Need for Speed graphics and Toca handling. It’s just a fun drag-racing game that will keep you in the garage for hours.

Final verdict: 3 out of 5 MisGuilded Stars – A nice time-waster without being a waste of time.

Gearing up in Terraria

I had a few requests for this after my initial review on Terraria, and since I’ve pretty much maxed my gear within a few days, I’ll post my findings on gearing up in Terraria. Please note, this post is MUCH longer than my standard ones, so if you’re not into Terraria, you can stop right here.

Read More …

Move over Minecraft.

There’s a new sandbox in town, and it’s called Terraria. Going along the same basic premise of Minecraft (which everyone should have at least played once by now), you mine blocks, craft items, build shelters and fight monsters. But don’t think that this is just another clone.

Firstly Terraria is 2D – yes, in a word where immersive 3D is all the rage, they’ve decided to switch back to the old side-scrolling platform style. In fact, playing it gives you the distinct impression that you’ve plugged in your old Sega system and you’re running through the passages of Castlevania. It feels great  – the playing style is perfect, the controls and movement is spot-on.

Secondly, whereas Minecraft has a handful of bad guys and now a tamable wolf, which is pretty neat, Terraria has spans of creatures and quite a range of craftable items. In Minecraft you can craft swords of either stone, steel or gold. In Terraria you have tiers of weapons, tiers and sets of armor and many trinkets that help you in different ways. It’s truly a proper RPG. You even have special dungeons and summonable bosses  – almost World of Warcraftish… You gear yourself up to defeat bigger baddies, then gear up some more to dig deeper and explore further.

Terraria adds another little twist in the form of NPCs that will come live in your house once you meet certain requirements. You always start off with a guide though, who will vaguely help you through your first day or so. As with Minecraft though, don’t feel ashamed at looking at the Terraria Wiki for help. Some things are just not apparent.

Ok, there are a few flaws – I can see myself getting bored once I’ve beaten all the endgame content, something that Minecraft won’t really experience. You just don’t have the building prowess of Minecraft. Hopefully further content releases will alleviate this, something I foresee happening, as the bosses add a new dimension to the sandbox genre.

Summary: an awesome little game by these indie developers. It’s a blast from the past with a new twist that will enchant you. I give it a firm 4 1/2 MisGuilded stars 😀

Now in 3D!

WoW will always be my number one, but sometimes the eye strays and you start to fondle a new plaything. In this case quite a few new playthings. I’ve been replaying Halflife 2. I’ve started playing Team Fortress 2 (thanks to the lovely woman buying it for me 😀 ) and I’ve gotten quite swept away by MineCraft.

Minecraft is a strange creature. If you were to walk past the screen as someone else is playing your first reaction would be “Why is he playing an 8-bit game?”. That’s because the entire game consists of squares. The basis of what Minecraft is revolves around those squares. Today I’m going to show you a typical single-player game seeing as when I started I was totally lost and a bit overwhelmed.

The screen that greets the new Minecrafter.

Above is a typical starting area in Minecraft. The pink thing is your character’s hand. Yes, this is as good as the graphics get, and it’s awesome. Once you’re in the world, your first mission is to find shelter for the night. Well I say mission, but in Minecraft there are no missions, no set goals. It’s an open world for you to do as you please in. The reason you want to find shelter however, is the fact that at night (or in dark places) the bad guys appear. On your first day you probably won’t have the necessary weapons, lighting and armor to take out these guys, so a safe haven is your best aim.

So how do you make shelter? Well pretty much everything in the game is destructible and salvageable (with the right tools). So just find a nice hill (preferably close to where you spawned) and start hitting away at it. With your bare hands you can easily break down sand and earth. Stone is a bit harder though, and will need some tools. To craft tools, you’ll need some wood, so run along and find a tree or two.

The tree's the one you're looking for, not the cow.

Once you have some wood (same principle as before, just hit it like you mean it till the tree breaks) you can craft a workbench which allows for bigger items to be crafted. You’ll also make some sticks and your first mining pick, shovel and axe. A sword will also come in handy. There are many recipies in Minecraft. I suggest playing around a bit before resorting to help files, it’s more rewarding that way. Once you have the basics, it’s time to craft a door for your temporary shelter, as usually on the first day you don’t have torches and windows and being able to see outside helps you to see when it’s daylight and safe again.

The standard crafting view, with your character screen and inventory.

Once you’ve survived your first day it’s totally up to you what to do next. You can go exploring the underground, finding vast caverns and more bad guys, or you could build a village, a castle, some pretty awesome traps, basically whatever your heart desires. As you go along you’ll find coal (for torches and for smelting stuff), iron, gold, clay, and a range of other handy materials. You’ll craft forges, shiny armor, upgraded weapons and equipment. You’ll meet spiders, pigs, skeletons, zombies and creepers. Just a hint, watch out for those creepers, they’re sneaky and will blow you to bits if they manage to sneak up on you from behind.

A creeper. Watch out!

At the moment I’m busy creating a rural fishing village, with a castle surrounded by a moat and a very, very deep mine. My brother is excavating the Mines of Moria and I must say it looks damn impressive. I’m also planning a large wooden pirate ship (Which sadly won’t be able to sail). I’ll post screenies once I’m done.

Anyway, in conclusion, this game is vastly more impressive than what you could imagine at first glance. It may still be in Alpha stage but it’s worth the buy already. Give it a try!  Oh, and I’m busy with a guildmastering post I swear. There’ll be some WoW content here soon :p

Oh, completely forgot about the title of this post! Yes, there’s a 3D setting to the game, so for all of you that are stunned by the “New technology from the 80’s”, give it a blast.

In reply to “If you’re bored”

Thanks to Jaedia I came across Sorry Caps’ questionnaire. I hate questionnaires but I am bored, so here goes:

1. Raider, farmer, PvPer, or altoholic?

Umm, where’s the option for “Parks in Dalaran and guildchats”. If I had to choose, probably Raider. I am after all the guildmaster of a casual raiding guild, guess I better like raiding hey?

2. Favorite raid or dungeon?

Raid has to be the TBC raid stuff. SSC, Hyjal, etc. Dungeon I’d have to say the old Strat and Scholo. So many good memories there.

3. Number one choice for a new playable race?

I’m a bit sad about the whole goblin thing, so I’ll be sticking to my undeads. My #1 for Cata will be rerolling my hunter as undead.

4. Class you suck the most at?

Anything caster pewpew – I just can’t seem to dps properly. There was a phase in TBC when my shadowpriest rocked, but that was more a fluke than anything else.

5. Original UI or modded UI?

Modded. Heavily so.

6. Profession you’ve never levelled past 200?

Jewelcrafting. I’ve just never had the char for it.

7. Favorite flying mount?

I still prefer my old Wyrmrest red drake. It feels more streamlined than the Protos.

8. Nozdormu — friend or foe, you figure?

Veering toward an alliance.

9. Useless item you have in your bank that you’ll never get rid of?

My T1, T2, T4, T5, T6, T7 (Yeah no T3 🙁 ). Smokey’s Lighter. A collection of hats. A collection of awesome looking weapons that I’ll never use. My DPS set…

10. Most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

Hmmm, I don’t really buy much. If i take it according to inflation it would have to be the Skullflame Shield I bought back when we started raiding ZG/MC. Cost me 400g, which was more than I ever had at that time. Heck I didn’t have epic mount till level 64.

11. Favorite starting area?

Undead for sure. The lore is so rich you need to cut it with a spoon.

12. Inane goal you worked hardest to achieve?

Letting others believe I’m a great tank.

13. Darion Mograine VS Tirion Fordring, gloves off — winner is?

Can’t be arsed with them to be honest. Blah blah human whiners whining at each other. Let Garrosh and Saurfang take care of it already!

14. Game music or your own playlist?

Ah, depends on my mood at the time. Generally it’s ingame music but occasionally I’ll put on some farming music.

15. Particular option or setting that you always toggle on a new alt/server?

First thing I do is turn off all my addons. Then as I play I slowly start turning them back on as I need them.

16. Highest amount of levels gained in one play session?

20-30? Not sure. I’ve sat through some heavy leveling sessions but most of them were at higher levels where it’s slow. My most insane was when my brother and I took a week off work to level to 80 on Wrath’s launch. We missed server first by about an hour because we overslept on the last day.

17. Thing you’d most like to experience or see in-game?

Proper scaling of the old dungeons and raids. I’m happy that they’re redoing some of the old content (feels a bit like cheating really) but I’d like to see stuff like SSC, TK, Hyjal, Kara automatically move to the next bracket as expansions are released.

18. Worst PuG moment?

I honestly don’t pug much so this is a hard one… I guess that 25man ICC I was in once. The “maintank” kept telling the other two tanks (myself and a good friend) that we sucked at moving on Marrowgar, yet both of us were following his “left-right” sequence and he wasn’t.

19. Best dungeon/raid moment?

Downing Leotheras the Blind after he had bugged out on us. That sod gave me so many grey hairs.

20. Worst quest ever that you totally hate doing?

I love questing, preferably on my own. Probably the most irritating quest would be the tortoise escort quest in Tanaris though. It’s just too damn long!

21. First thing you do when you hit 80?

Go /g Ding… oh no wait, they removed the need for that didn’t they? Umm, go train I guess. And then be broke for a long time while I try to scrounge enough gear together to be decent enough in Heroics.

22. Character (of yours) you would RP as if you had to?

Itasu, Daikaiju and Pindleskin all have a decent back story to them. Itasu is my fave RP character though.

23. Keyboard, mouse, or both for using abilities?

Keyboard for the 15 most important abilities, mouse side buttons for some parts of my tanking rotation and mouse click for the “use once every 3 minutes” abilities.

24. Thottbot or WoWhead?

Either, whatever comes up first in my search.

25. Acronym you’ve seen in chat but don’t understand?

Can’t think of any, sorry.

26. Plot point you’d like to see resolved someday?

Not really a plot point, but I’d like to know more about Chromie (Hiding in that house in Western Plaguelands). There’s probably some explanation that I just haven’t seen, guess I’ll look into it someday.

27. Biggest thing you’re looking forward to in Cataclysm?

The great changes to guilding and the fact that 10/25 share loot. It means my 10man group can be just as imba geared as the 25man elitist sods.

28. Guild event you’d like to see?

One where everyone actually shows up…

29. Level range you hate being in?

45-55 and 65-75 just feels so dead to me. Most of the quests are long chains or huge grinds and the leveling just seems arduous. These are the points I’m most inclined to give up on an alt.

30. Favorite map to quest in?

I like most of the Eastern Kingdoms, barring the southern areas (STV and the surrounding alliance lands). Arathi Highlands, Hilsbrad Foothills and Badlands are my favourites though.