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Leave your problems out the airlock!

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McJobless

New Year's Resolution: Need Some Advice...

I've never really followed the whole "New Years Resolution" thing before, but in getting older and running out the body clock, I've realised it might be good to start making some changes.

One thing I really want to achieve next year is one of my biggest failings from this year. I'm a software developer by day, and a gamer by night. Being drained through the day with professional-level coding has made me bitter and cynical towards my own projects, to the point I've stopped doing them. While I still write game design documents as a hobby, I've completely put off physically working on any of the projects I would have once committed to.

My New Year's Resolution is to produce one large-scale mod. It's something I used to do, or at least make serious attempts at, and I totally have the capability to do so now.

While just making a new project from scratch gives me a lot of freedom, doing it as a mod means I get to excite an existing audience and utilise any existing content/implementations (i.e. I don't have to make my own guns or gun code, which is important as I have no visual ability whatsoever, and core stuff like weapon physics are a real pain in the knackers to do). A big problem of making a game from scratch is that any serious investment will cost me (purchasing asset packs or artists to make the game not look s***, paying for my own time and materials, paying for promotional stuff etc) and I'll want to seek return, which means a lot of legal and certification woes to deal with. I just want to build something big but relatively light that people can enjoy.

My trouble is selecting a game for the specific mod I want to create. In an ideal world, my ultimate mod project would be a kind of Destiny-styled Raid, set in a breaking-down theme park. That is to say, a networked game-mode where a group of players are teleported between several small scenarios, in which they must complete a puzzle with barely any hints, while a horde of enemies attempts to gun them down. The story and aesthetics will be based on the likes of Westworld and Jurassic Park, which I've become very obsessed with recently. Ideally, players can collect audio logs, and collecting enough will change the final boss fight (or add a second one).

 

Of course, that kind of project would be intense to produce, especially with many mod kits, so the idea is modular and flexible. Maybe it will only be solo. Maybe combat will be reduced. Maybe there will be less variety of individual puzzle mechanics and instead more reuse in creative ways of the same puzzle mechanics. The core, player surviving a collapsing attraction park, will remain the same.

I'm looking for suggestions of games that have the capability to do anything along these lines. I've thought about using Blockland, but I've heard some negative things regarding the capability of the bots and having many different behaviours going at once (ideally, many people can connect to the server, group up in "fireteams" and run different parts of the course at the same time, like how a theme park ride has people in different rooms). If people can prove Blockland is capable of this kind of stuff, sure, but otherwise I'd like to know anything else I could use as a base. Another variant I've thought about (and one more relevant to RRU) is to make an overhaul for LEGO Rock Raiders that switches it up to become a time trial to find certain missing people and objects in the various tunnels underneath the park that staff used to get between attractions to perform maintenance.

 

Any suggestions will help. A part of this is I want to make something people will actually play, as opposed to just producing crap for myself.

McJobless

My answer to the topic I recently created is going to be extremely long, so I've decided to break it up into multiple small blog entries based on the time period. These will be a bit rough, but maybe in future installments I might add some images and colour to break it all up.

 

--

 

I don't know. I dunno why my Dad bought that PS1. He's not much of a gamer; he grew up on a farm with a handful of other siblings before moving down here to the city. Gaming never would be his forte, but I'd be happy to make that purchase all the more worth it for him.


I think there's still a photo of Dad holding me, holding the PS1 controller, playing Grand Turismo. Either that, or I'm having some weird out-of-body experience memory of that very same event. That's where it all started; a very young me, and a demo of Gran Turismo. It wouldn't matter if I won or lost; kids don't care for such large concepts, it's all about the feedback. I could hit a button, and something happened. That is a feeling you don't forget.


I was four years old in 1998. Back then, I was always more obsessed with VHS tapes and LEGO, if only because TV access was very limited. It probably didn't help that a baby me climbed and smashed some glass windows on the TV stand. I was creative, in a very destructive way. It explain my tastes in those early years; I could never win, but the thrill of Ape Escape, Formula 1 '98, V-Rally '97 Championship Edition and the Star Wars: Episode One: The Phantom Menace demo and smacking stuff around was enough for me. There was music, lights, and buttons to smack. Sometimes even vibrations.


I had no concept of games libraries, back then. The whole world of gaming was just in those discs. Hell, I didn't even know what a demo was, and it didn't help that I couldn't even reach the end of my games to find out. Thankfully, my mind was expanded on my sixth birthday. It was nighttime; only that year had we moved to this big new house, and I was sitting on the small kitchen table directly under the intense yellow light. I ripped open my package, and there it was.


Jeremy McGrath's Supercross 2000.


Great people are influenced by great works. The likes of Shakespeare, Orwell, King and forth have opened a new generation of brilliant creators. What does it say when my major inspiration was some budget title that didn't even score average?


The riding wasn't very good, I wasn't that great at pulling off the freestyle tricks, and the character creator was marred by the low quality PS1 graphics of the era but...but. It had something. Something I won't soon forget. In such low, terrible quality, it offered power unbeknownst to me at the time; a track creator. YES. I could make actual content for this game. I didn't understand it at the time, but I reviled in it. All the live-long day I spent, placing blocks, testing my track, changing it up and showing it to my young brother. Guess times have changed a lot, in some ways. Maybe not others.

McJobless

Ratchet & Clank 3: 1108 Beta Notes & Research

EDITS TO MAKE:

 

  • Segments define the state of a level (specifically Enemy and Crate placement), based on player data when they first load in. For example;
    • Major Segment = First time you go through a level
    • Minor Segment = Less crates, less bolts to prevent bolt farming
    • 3 Invisible Difficulty Levels that you can be on (Easy, Medium (Normal, Default), Hard), likely tied into segments (Note: Difficulties were only switched for future levels), with Challenge Mode locked to Hard mode no matter what
    •  

  • Every time you fail at a boss in RC2, the boss has less total health the next time around.

  • We measured everything in meters on these games because that was the default unit in Maya. The way you can tell how many units something is is that a single crate is 1x1x1 Ratchet is approximately 2.5 meters tall.

  • Ratchet & Clank -> Z-Up
    Specifiy planes for chunks and for water
    the engine originally worked that you specified a plane, and that anything below the plane was assumed to be underwater (and would trigger water animations and effects).

 

Quote

Can enable/disable guns from the weapon menu (probably pressing the wrong button)
-> There appears to be a different "Hero State" for the airdrop gameplay, which locks you into a specific area


Bookmark: Programmers can place "bookmark" locations which allows them to skip back to places, but it doesn't work as it requires a developer kit.

Those numbers are difficulty tuning information...could be the ones that appear specifically when tuning is enabled Part 2 - 6:20

Hero Pos: x0y0z0 = Actual world position


Tuning Menu:
nme = enemie segement (number)
Difficulty tracking; how many times he's died, enemies killed
->Changes other values, won't change anything in this current loaded level, but there will be repurcussions in the future levels

Movie -> Record gameplay videos on a dev kit

Minor -> Tricks game into thinking you're in the Minor segement

Mining
-> Limiting how many bolts you can get in a Minor segement
-> Reduces the number of bolts you get over time (seems like it works at the level total?)

Levels won't run unless Ratchet's ship exists in the level
Game only works (will crash) if Ratchet stays inside the positive quadrant

Fog works, but is mostly used in Aquatos
->Near Distance sets how close you need to be to start seeing fog
->"int" = intensity
->Use the right/left triggers (L2 R2)

Space Combat was prototypes, going to be like the Gummi Ship fro KH2


Post Effects -> effects that are applied after the whole scene is rendered
Bloom: Makes bright colours fuzzy (like neon light effect)
Arcade effect: Potentially DoF? Only for start of the level, looking into the distance

 

The Skybox is a giant sphere, which is also centered on the player character. It sorts behind everything, so nothing renders behind it.

 

Quote

Moby: (Mobile Object) A moveable entity that has code attached to it (including enemies, crates, breakables, vendors etc)

 

Tfrag (Tessellating Fragment) Composed of a collection of tface tris & tface quads. Static, non-instanced (unique) background. The tfaces of a level were broken up by the tools into tfrags based on stripping and Vector Unit memory size constraints. Tfrag geometry indexed a 1024 color palette for corner color lighting.

 

TIE (Tfrag Instance Engine) Instanced: one model (the prototype) drawn multiple times, using a different matrix and lighting per instance. Prototype modeled as tface tris & quads. Placed in a Maya scene file using ref nodes. Ref nodes could be viewed expanded or collapsed using custom Maya plug-ins. Each instance was lit individually, but was then mapped to a single 128 color palette per prototype.
-> Because of the train in R&C2, TIEs had to eventually become moveable.

 

Shrubs :
Shrubs Used for more than just plants. Fast renderer for rendering small details. Data format closely matched what GS used to draw. Instanced (one model drawn multiple times). Prototype modeled as tris and quads. Placed in a Maya scene file using ref nodes. A special Maya plug-in could also be used to “randomly” populate an area of ground with shrubs. Each instance had a color multiplier used for lighting.
-> (Don't occlude by default, must be set specifically to occlude)

 

Shrubs (cont) :
Shrubs (cont) Supported effects: Opaque Translucent Could become a single quad “poster” in the distance (far level of detail). Becomes translucent and fades away in the distance. An instance could sway in the breeze using a manipulation of its transformation matrix.

 

http://www.authorstream.com/Presentation/aSGuest32288-278604-white-stephen-entertainment-ppt-powerpoint/

 

->R&C is divided up into cubes (Cuboids?); depending on which cube the camera is in, the game is set to occlude specific objects based on what you should and shouldn't be able to see. This is based on some pre-computing.
->Due to the TFRAG system, the game automatically tesselates up/down the detail of objects based on the camera's distance. If you get far enough away, the object is not drawn at all.

 

Occl (Generally not run on beta builds, so the occlusion system was not set correct)
-> Active: Default, occludes objects based on your position in the world
-> Off: Turns off occlusion, renders everything
-> Frozen: Freezes the state of occlusion for every object in the world

 

Profiler Bars: if it crosses the white bar to the right, the game is "breaking frame" (i.e. taking more than 16.66ms to render and going under the 60FPS target)
->Top line is the CPU, bottom line is the GPU
->Crates are the only mobys that use occlusion, if occlusion is broken, every crate in the game is displayed

 

Update - Parts = Particles

 

Mode: When going into Camera mode, it automatically disables all of the things in Update so you can view things, but you can manually renable things if desired
-> Ratchet (Moby 0) and the Wrench are technically mobys, but they separated in the debug menu so the devs could work with him separately
-> Helmet, Weapons and Wrench are separate mobys that are attached; won't follow in cam+chr mode

 

Fog (Doesn't appear to modify Skybox)
->NearDist: The distance from Ratchet where the fog should start (measured in meters, as per the default unit of Maya)
->NearInt: How intense is the fog when it starts (whispy/transparent vs. thick/opaque) as a percentage out of hundred?
->FarDist: How far through the fog before you can see
->FarInt:
 

 

 

 

Screen -> Small: Used to see what the engine is culling (for optimisation purposes)


But yeah, all that was set up manually by hand for those games. Enemies just had intro paths, patrol paths, firing points, and three sets of volumes that described their alert ranges. Those were set up by hand, one by one, by a designer or programmer.

 

Hi Shadow. When they're patrolling, or if ranged enemies are seeking spots to run to -- they're only going to pre-set waypoints. In the case of patrols, they just follow a path. In the case of firing waypoints, those would be set individually per enemy so that the enemies wouldn't clump up or run into each other. It was very difficult.

Major Segements = Segements (Enemy and Crate placements) for the first time you go through a level


Minor Segement = Less crates, less bolts to prevent bolt farming

 

It's hard to remember, but we had several ways of doing it. The base geometry was what we called T-frag. It had the limitation that no face could have more than 4 points. That's the stuff you saw morphing -- it had an automatic LOD thing. We also had Mobys and Ties, which were instanced. The LODs on that had to be done manually. Finally we had shrubs. They were all the tiny decoraction pieces with no collision. They LOD'd out to a billboarded quad, which I think was done automagically.


 

 

Shadows were done by creating pills and spheres in special volumes.

Shadow Volume Effects -> One example = the teleport, particles coming off Ratchet's head

 

We had a bunch of different tricks. On instanced objects, it was done by hand by swapping to lower poly models or billboards. On non-instanced objects the game would perform face reduction automatically based on your distance from it. Those had to be built a special way so that would work (no faces with more than 4 verts, and ideally none with less than 4 verts).

 

Every collision face in the game had collision flags on it. When it came to wall-jumps, there were three flags that you could set: "Wall jump", "No wall jump," and "one wall jump." If a surface was flagged for wall jump, you could jump back and forth in it. If it was flagged as "no wall jump, you couldn't wall jump off it at all. The default setting was "one wall jump" which meant you could wall jump off it once, but you couldn't combo it and keep jumping.

 

3 Invisible Difficulty Levels that you can be on (Easy, Medium (Normal, Default), Hard)
-> Changes enemy amounts, enemy damage amounts
-> The easier it is, the more health crates, the harder it is, the fewer health crates
-> If you died less than the coded values of deaths, you would move up
-> If you died more than the coded values of deaths, you would move down
-> The change only happens in future levels (it has to reload assets)
-> Challenge Mode/New Game+ was locked to the Hard difficulty level (tuning disabled)

 

Every Segement needs to give a specific maximum amount of bolts as specified by the designer (to ensure good progression)
-> Crates give the amount specified by a system which tracks how many bolts you're supposed to get
-> Breakables do not factor into these equations (because the equations rely on the specific ids for the crate mobys), these instead use a function called "Spawn Gravy Bolts" which spawn a reduced amount bolts which don't upset the economy (usually figures under 10)

 

Bolt Deficiet/Health Deficiet: The game keeps track of how many bolts get lost through the level (such as when an enemy dies outside of the geometry); on the next set of crates, the game attempts to make up the difference and payout

 

->50 bolt model: A complex algorithm to figure out the most satisfying, but also resource-aware bolt amount to spawn

Breakables may include the parts that fall off enemies when they die

 

To be specific, use the term "Occlusion Culling", so it's not confused with Ambient Occlusion, and mention that it was given to Naughty Dog by Insomniac

 

Weapon UPG 0 = Level 1 (0-indexed numbers)

 

UIDs; Only for mobys, and it appears that any moby which is 'static' (as in, is always loaded in memory for common objects like Ratchet and his ship), they are marked as UX (even though there would still exist instances of those objects?).

 

New cutscene text get! Detail all the info that appears when you press the Triangle button during a cutscene.

 

Display -> Darken's purpose was most likely to darken the background (the actual game) to make the displays (such as Text and UIDs) more easily readable. Not sure why it would be non-functioning in both beta builds (appears to not work in R&C1 and def doesn't in R&C3).

 

fb = frame buffer

 

Quote

cmp = Completed (from Major)
maj = Major
min = Minor

 

Invinc Actually works, but Ratchet will still play damage notifications

 

Weapons -> DMG seems to be a factor

 

Setting XP value below last level upgrade will update the HUD with their actual maximum health, but they will have more than the bar


Tuning values:
In a Minor Segment, all enemies seem to share this same value;
FIRST NUMBER = SEGMENT
SECOND LOWERCASE LETTER = i (Purpose research below)
[In Veldin, this seems to break when you look at a Health kit with a '2i', although maybe it has data incorrectly assigned?]

 

Major Segment;
'-' (The Dash) indicates that an enemy doesn't have that bit of information assigned to them
Explosive Crates have ---

 

ASTERISK (IF IT APPEARS) = Most likely if the enemy's cuboid has been activated or not?
FIRST NUMBER = Segment number. This appears to be the segment in which the enemy *spawns* in; according to the developers, many enemys are always spawned in at the beginning of the level in a separate segment, and are then teleported over when they are needed
SECOND UPPERCASE LETTER = Between A, B and C, likely the Cuboid the enemy is linked to
THIRD LOWERCASE LETTER = Difficulty ('e', 'm' and 'h')

 

Interesting; Qwark is 5A-
Some of the tyranoids (one eye) on Marcadia have a Dash for the third bit

 

Showing:
-1 [Appears in every level]
A [Appears on Aquatos, Minor Segment]

 

Returned to Tyranosis, got 15, maj and h and then the tuning information wouldn't show...could "showing" be a tuning thing that disables that info?

 

Scene: press Circle to activate the selected cutscene, will attempt to load and play it, X to increase value, triangle to decrease value

 

Gravy Bolts also factor in enemies

 

Minor Toggle is irreversible once set, and cannot be used to reset a level to Major

 

That says XP DEFICIET, not HP

 

Quote

gXX = Group ID, which designer-set group the item belongs to
oXXX = Object ID, basically the id of the file for that object
UXXX = Unique ID, unique ID for that moby in the level, UX for mobys which are always loaded in memory

 

Actuator = Vibration?
Battle Cam = Lock-Strafe Mode?
-> These appear in both the R&C1 and R&C3 betas...could it be possible they were disabled as the UI functionality existed? At least in R&C3's case?

 

>Decreases enemies, adds more crates
segment x y
x = Increases with every death
y = ???

 

Level 1 - Veldin
nme 0 = Enemy Segment [Changes 2 (nme+nme2), 4 (nme0+bf8+ref9), 8 (nme1)]
bat 2 = Battlefield Segment [Changes 2 (nme+nme2), 4 (nme0+bf8+ref9), 8 (nme1)]

 

Level 2 - Florana
nme 0 = Enemy Segment 0 (Beginning of Level until Checkpoint overlooking water) [Changes 2 (nme2), 4 (nme0+bf8+ref9), 8 (nme1), 9 (bld1+ne6+nw5)]
nme 2 2 = Enemy Segment 2 (From previous to Qwark cutscene) [Changes 4 (nme0+bf8+ref9), 8 (nme1), 9 (bld1+ne6+nw5)]

 

Level 4 - Marcadia
nme 0 = Enemy Segment
bf 8 = Battlefield Segment
ref 9 = Refactor/Puzzle Segment

 

Level 5 - Daxx
nme 6 = Enemy Segment
ape 4 = ??? Segment (path where you get the charge boots)

 

Level 7 - Annihilation Nation
gnt 0 = Gauntlet Segment
arn 1 = Arena Segment

 

Level 8 - Aquatos
nme 1 = Enemy Segment

 

Level 9 = Tyranosis'
bld 1 = ??? Segment (when you land with the rangers)
se 4 = South-East Segment
sw 3 = South-West Segment
ne 6 = North-East Segment
nw 5 = North-West Segment

 

Level 10 - Zeldrin Starport
nme 1 2 = Enemy Segment (???)
nme 2 6 = Enemy Segment (???)
blt 1 = Segment (???)

 

Level 11 - Obani Gemini
nme 1 = Enemy Segment

 

Level 12 - Blackwater City
bf 1 = Battlefield Segment
sky 0 = Sky-fall Segment (?)

 

Level 13 - Holostar Studios
nme1 0 = Clank Segments
nme2 4 = Ratchet Segments
grav 5 = Gravity Boot Segment

 

Level 16 - Metropolis
nme 0 = Enemy Segment
rbt 2 = Robot Segment (Boss Fight)

 

Level 18 - Aridia
bf 4 = Battlefield Segment
sky 3 = Sky-fall Segment (?)

 

Level 26 - Metropolis Battlefield
bf 5 = Battlefield Segment
sky 6 = Sky-fall Segment (?)

 

Level 29 - Tyranosis Battlefield
bf 0 = Battlefield Segment
sky 1 = Sky-fall Segment (?)

 

Completes = Number of Replays

 

ADD SCREENSHOT FOR MISSION DEBUGGER AND THE BLOOM DEBUGGERS

R1+R2+RightDPad Adds mission-related debuging text in Battlefield segments, can bug out and change the sort order of transparent textures to render in front and mess up ammo/bolt font
R1+R2+LeftDPad "Mission Unlock Cheat: On/Off", unlocks all Battlefield missions

 

Add sample/Add start fail to find the music files
open fail name ¥LEVELS¥LEVEL9¥occ_sample_deltas.dat;1
Unknown device 'host'
Unknown device 'host'

 

There's a deleted cutscene after using the telport after talking to Al to get the first Vidcomic

 

Quote

Camera Controls

->Pretty sure Mike Stout said there should be a way to rotate the camera up/down by holding a button. Couldn't find anything, need to research.
R1 = Up
R2 = Strafe-Lock Right
L1 = Down
L2 = Strafe-Lock Left

DPad-Up = Forwards
DPad-Down = Backwards
DPad-Right = Rotate Camera Right

DPad-Left = Rotate Camera Left

 

Ratchet Camera Rotations;
-> Most likely using Radians
X = (Rolls around at 3.14)
Y = Max up/down is ±1.05
Z = (Rolls around at 3.14)

 

For Max HP
Current XP: 1802720
XP: 56335.0
-> Cleanly divides by 32. What's the significance of the XP value?
-> I can't find the XP value in memory with Cheat Engine, no matter what combinations I use. It's entirely possible that Current XP is the actual value, and that it's being divided by 32 to be displayed in the UI (smaller numbers easier to work with?), although it could also be stored in a combination of memory addresses.

 

vu1chain

max: Probably the max allocated on the currently loaded level

limit: Probably the upper-limit that can be assigned at one time

 

Check the Jetix Beta Footage; notice the "Occl" text in the bottom corner.

 

Quote

Progressive Scan

 

Interp = Most likely shows splines

 

Hold R2 and L2 and then press Up/Down on the DPad to rotate the camera up and down

 

R1+R2+DpadUp (Forward)/R1+R2+DpadDown (Back) = Toggles Pool Display. In the corner lists which pool you're debugging, and renders a bunch of lines from above Ratchet that point at the different enemies/allies (Rangers are part of the pool) inside the pool. Lines are coloured to represent their state according to the Pool Info display.

 

R1+R2+DpadRight = Toggles Mission Debugging Info. Empty, Mission Info Only (the top white bit), Mission Info & Pool Info (if Pool Display is active, the selected pool is coloured in yellow)

 

Pool = Different "pools" which hold different enemies.
Size = The total amount of entities in that pool.
Free = Unspawned, available. (Lines will point to random place in spawn as they exist in memory only)
Spawned = Entity exists and is running around in the world.
Dead = Mostly likely unused now; to save on memory, most enemies in missions never technically "die" and are simply sent back to the pool
Ready = Enemies who were "killed" and are awaiting respawn (Lines will point to random place in spawn as they exist in memory only)

 

Mission Unlock Cheat R1+R2+DpadLeft: Can be toggled in mission menus or ingame; unlocks all of the missions in a Battlefield segment

 

Enemies: Currently Spawned (Current Tuning) / Total Available (Untuned), both sides decrease on enemy death
Crates: Same thing, specifically for health crates

 

Veldin
Florana
Phoenix
Marcadia
Colliseum
Ocean Hideout
L8 Clank
L8 Mines
Tyranosis
Qwark1
Qwark3

 

Quote

Empty Weapons could also be the Qwark weapons

 

Weapon Power (UI/Guide) = Damage (Debug Menu): 20pow = 1.0dmg

 

HP2 = For most weapons, the DMG Value on the next upgrade

 

HP1G seems to be the damage amount done by emitted bombs and stuff.
For example, the bouncer breaks into smaller balls
So HP1G controlls how much damage they do.

 

Unsure what HP2G is supposed to do, but I suspect HP2, HP1G and HP2G are all values that can be accessed from the game scripts and their purpose modified. Weapons like the bouncer do NOT use HP2 and simply increase by seemingly random numbers (potentially hinted at inside the game's compiled code), of if HP2 is listed, the value seems to be ignored. Hmm.

 

When a value is set to 0.01, you can press Circle to disable that value, which can't be re-enabled (Circle removes the decimal, and when a weapon value is set to "0", that value becomes locked).

 

Quote

Things to consider:

XMYsk.jpg


Memory addresses for the full game; note the odd values and the modes

 

--

 

Before I ship this information off to The Cutting Room Floor to be properly organised and displayed, I want a kind of online scratchpad that I and others can use to just jot down research notes.

 

https://tcrf.net/Proto:Ratchet_%26_Clank:_Up_Your_Arsenal

 

While the Debug Menu is open, the game is paused. The Debug Menu is marked as;

 

1106.0, 05:34:09 Aug 11 2004

 

For most pages, tapping Cross over a selected option goes forward/up in value, while tapping Triangle goes backwards/down. L1/R1 switches between Debug Menus. I've listed any options here, with the default one being the first in the list. The key to understanding this Debug Menu is to remember that every PS2-Ratchet game was essentially a hack of the previous game.

 

GLOSSARY OF TERMS

Not actually a menu, but just a list of commonly used jargon with definitions.

 

Mobys: Stands for Mobile Object. Refers to any moveable, dynamic object which has code attached to it. Common examples include crates, enemies and Ratchet himself.

 

Tfrag: Stands for Tessellating Fragment. A static object which is capable of dynamically tessellating (increasing or decreasing the amount of polygons that form the mesh) based on how close or far the player is. The main limitation is that no face could have more than 4 points/vertices (and presumably required more than one). Tfrags are mainly used for the main level geometry, and if a player gets too far away from a Tfrag, it is not rendered at all (due to the Occlusion system discussed below). This was a technology inherited from Naughty Dog.

 

TIE: Stands for Tfrag Instance Engine. As it says on the tin, this is an instanced version of a Tfrag which allows for cheaper rendering if the same Tfrag needs to appear multiple times in the one level. Despite being derived from Tfrags, supposedly these do not support automatic tessellation/LoDs and had to be done manually. Originally, these too were static, but in Ratchet & Clank 2: Going Commando, the giant train used on Planet Siberius required that TIEs could be made moveable/dynamic. Known examples aside from that include the Galactic Ranger Dropships in R&C3 (which are actually made from several ties). This is a technology inherited from Naughty Dog.

 

Shrub: An instanced object type used for small details that don't have collision. The LoDs were generated automatically, with the lowest detail being a simple 2D billboard quad (a flat polygon). As well as plants, other small detail objects used for decoration could be made as Shrubs. This is a technology inherited from Naughty Dog.

 

Parts: Shortened name for Particles. Particles are little objects that have several properties, such as colour, lifespan and movement data which be spawned by a Particle Emitter. They're used for all the special effects in the game, such as explosions, weapon muzzle flash and electric sparks.

 

Pill: A cylinder shape with spheres attached at each end, resembling a pill. These are one of the primitive shapes (others include cubes and spheres) that could be used for things such as collisions and shadows.

 

Spline: Also referred to as a Path. An invisible, curved line described by a series of points. Objects could be made to move along a spline. Most elevators and taxis move along splines.

 

Volume: An invisible box which some special behaviour can be tied to. For example, Shadow Volumes (a Naughty Dog-inherited technology) define a space for faked shadows to exist in, whereas trigger volumes can enable a script behaviour when the player touches them.

 

Cuboid: In Ratchet & Clank, enemies have multiple "alert states" that define how they are behaving in the current moment. These states include Attack, Alert/Search, Idle and so on. In order for enemies to determine which state they should be in, they check several radii; essentially, the further Ratchet is away from the enemy, the more relaxed that enemy's state is.  Cuboids are special types of trigger volumes that are mainly used to tell the enemy to activate the radius checks so they can begin to figure out which animation state they should be in.

 

Chunks: As of Ratchet & Clank 2: Going Commando, a single level could be broken into individual chunks. To reduce the memory cost of having an entire massive level and all its segments in memory at one time, a developer could place a Chunk Plane, and anything above/below that plane would be in a different chunk; certain objects would remain in memory, but much of the geometry, music and so forth would not be loaded yet. You could then specific in the level when to load into the next chunk. Loading a chunk only took a fraction of the time as a full level-load, which is often represented in-game as a small pause with a black screen (the switch between the main Tyhrranosis hub and the boss battle), whereas level loads have special loading screens (such as Ratchet falling down the sewer pipe on Aquatos).

 

Segment: There are two uses of the term; from an in-game, technical perspective, this refers to a part of a level between checkpoints, and is used to set up moby (specifically crates and enemy) placements. By default, every Segment is set to be "Major" (MAJ), and will load all crates and enemies (although, this is modified by the current difficulty tuning level). When the player reaches the end of the segment, it is flipped to the "Complete" (CMP) state and no new mobys will be spawned in the segment. If the player reloads a level, all previously completed segments are switched to the "Minor" (MIN) segment, which loads only a small amount of enemies and crates, and also enables Mining Mode, which prevents the player from farming bolts by reducing the amount of bolts you can collect.

 

As far as design is concerned, a Ratchet & Clank level is divided in multiple paths with varying objectives/rewards for completion of each path (some required, some optional). To add variety to the levels, these paths (segments) can be designed as one of the following; traversal segments (platforming challenges with light combat), enemy segments (combat-intensive sections), mining segments (like the sewers on Aquatos, for grinding coins and experience) and puzzle segments (using a gadget with light combat). Every level generally contains at least two of the three, if not all.

 

Segments were very complicated with regards to bolts and difficulty; as far as bolts were concerned, every Segment needs to give a specific maximum amount of bolts as specified by the designer (to ensure good progression). When you kill and enemy or destroy a crate, a number of algorithms are run to generate the amount of bolts to give you to ensure you do not exceed this total while still getting a good amount per object. Breakables (other mobys placed in the level) do not factor into these equations (because the equations rely on the specific ids for the crate/enemy mobys), so instead these use a function called "Spawn Gravy Bolts" which spawn a reduced amount bolts which don't upset the economy (usually figures under 10). On the other hand, Difficulty is split between three modes; Easy, Normal and Hard, and the effects of these modes are complex (see the Tuning section later for more).

 

Skybox: Despite the name, the Skybox is a giant textured sphere that is centred on Ratchet's position (and thus moves with him). The Skybox is sorted first, and as such is always rendered behind everything else.

 

Occlusion Culling: A system used to determine what objects the camera can actually see, and only render those specific objects (more specifically, only render their visible faces). While Occlusion Culling wasn't new, Ratchet & Clank was most likely the first game on the PS2 to do it, and this technology was given to Naughty Dog by Insomniac Games. In Ratchet & Clank, Occlusion was precomputed and the process usually was left to run overnight; the system would separate the level into cubes, and then determine what was visible at every point of each cube. Because this process was painstakingly long, most alpha/beta builds did not feature proper occlusion to speed up the time it took to burn the game to disc for testing/demonstration. Futhermore, the Occlusion System only worked for non-moving/static geometry (Tfrags).

 

MAIN PAGE

Contains most of the useful options and information when debugging the game.

 

UPDATE

Enables/Disables updating of specific types of objects in the world. Disabled objects will not respond to input, but will still be visible/rendered.

 

  • Ratchet [on | off]: The current player character. Technically a Moby, but separated in the debug menu for testing purposes. This only affects Ratchet himself; his armour, helment and other attachments still count as mobys, and thus will stay in place if Ratchet is moved while moby updates are disabled.
  • Mobys [on | off]: Handles all moby objects in the level, including Ratchet's attachments, crates and enemies.
  • Parts [on | off]: Deals with particle effects. When disabled, particles can still be generated, but they will not expire which usually leaves a hilarious massive cloud wherever the particles are being generated from.
  • Camera [on | off]: The player's camera. If a cutscene plays while this is disabled, when the cutscene ends the screen will remain black as the camera cannot play its fade-in animation.
  • Step [off | on]: When enabled, the game will appear frozen; tapping the L3 button will step forward one frame at a time.

 

vu1chain

While not editable, it has some info about how the VU1 (Vector Unit, one of the PS2's units for doing vector math) is being used at any given time.

 

  • max: Appears to be the maximum amount of memory that was allocated since level load.
  • lim: Appears to be the hard limit of memory that the level is allowed to allocate for VU1.

 

MODE

Controls general settings for the game, such as how it renders.

 

  • Control [normal | camera | cam+chr | volume]: Sets the current control mode, which has the side effect of flipping on/off the Update switches (which can still be manually modified).
    • normal: The default mode. All Update switches are turned on (aside from Step) and the game controls like normal.
    • camera: Detaches the player character from the camera and allows you to fly through the level. L1/R1 control Height, L2/R2 move horizontally, Dpad-Up/Dpad-Down move forward/backward, Dpad-Left/Dpad-Right rotate the camera in the selected direction, and holding both L2 and R2 with either Up or Down on the Dpad will rotate the camera up and down. Disables all Update switches.
    • cam+chr: Exact same as Camera Mode, but leaves the player camera attached to the camera. This allows you to place the character anywhere in the level. By default, all Update switches are disabled; enabling Moby Updates will allow you to activate checkpoints and other triggers without most types of enemies noticing you (and those that do cannot damage you), which is useful for studying the tuning info.
    • volume: Same as Camera Mode, but enables both Mobys and Particles while leaving the player character disabled and detatched. Useful for viewing the level without triggering any additional behaviours.
  • Profile: See the "Profiler" section below.
  • Occl: [active | off | freeze]: Sets the current Occlusion Mode. Occlusion Culling was, for the most part, properly precomputed in this beta, so it's still possible to view how these modes work.
    • active: Normal. Objects that are not within the view frustum or are too far away (according to the Draw Distance option below) are not rendered.
    • off: All objects in the level are rendered regardless of where the camera is. Can be incredibly slow (and may even crash) in particularly heavy levels, like the Aquatos Sewers.
    • freeze: Freezes the occlude state of objects when this option is set. This lets you move around the level to get a better view of how everything was occluded when the camera was in the original position before you set freeze on.
  • Bookmark: [off | on]: Originally, programmers could place "bookmark" locations with this setting, which allowed them to skip back to places, but it doesn't work as it requires a developer kit.
  • Invinc: [off | on]: Toggles Invincibility on and off. Ratchet will still play damage reactions, but his health will not decrease.
  • Draw dist: [normal | near]: Controls how far objects can be away from the character and still be visible.
  • Coll: [hotspt | camera | sound]: Although it's likely to change the way collisions work, this option doesn't seem to do anything now.
  • TV mode: [ntsc | prog | pal]: Changes the video output between NTSC, Progressive and PAL, but the only apparent change in PCSX2 is a more consistent framerate when Progressive is set.
  • 16:9 [on | off]: The same as the "Widescreen" option in the regular game menu.
  • Screen [normal | split 2 | split 3 | split 4 | small]: Changes the camera mode. Selecting the split options in singleplayer will hard-lock the console (as they're intended for multiplayer), whereas "small" zooms the camera way out but turns up the FOV.
  • Scene [#]: Press Cross to change the number, and Circle to attempt to play the cutscene for the loaded level with that ID number. If no cutscene for the level exists under that ID, a warning message pops up instead.
  • Chunk [#]: Like above, press Cross to change selected chunk and Circle to load the selected chunk (and unload the current chunk). Warning; will NOT teleport Ratchet to that chunk, so you will more than likely fall to your death unless you set the Control Mode to cam+chr.
  • Minor [off | on]: Forces the current segment into Minor mode. This is permanent, so reloading the level will have you enter the Minor segment as well.
  • Dump [normal | normal2 | Filter | medium | high]: Used to dump a certain amount of debugging informating to a dev-kit, but doesn't work without that.
  • Movie: [60fps | 30fps | 15fps]: Used to record gameplay footage in the selected framerate and send it to a dev-kit, but doesn't work without that.

 

PROFILER

TBD - (off, bars, render, mobys, ties, shrubs, cpu/gpu, occl)

 

There are several modes this to this debugging overlay; they're all used to measure performance of certain aspects in the game

 

  • off: Default. Nothing overlaid.
  • bars: Creates a bar at the top screen which moves progressively towards the right as the game consumes more resources. Either due to a bug, or intentionally, only the CPU bar expands outwards (as it appears GPU debugging is disabled). The white line on the far right represents what the intended maximum was supposed to be to stay inside of the game's framerate.  Each colour on the bar represents different systems and how much memory they're consuming. With exception to 'off', every other Profiler option contains the bar at the top.
  • render: Outputs four columns; the left set of numbers most likely measuring draw calls/render counts, whereas the right-most column always remains at 0, due to the GPU debugging issue. The red asterisk, the column full of "on" (which implies there's an off state for debugging those values) and text running off the screen may indicate there's supposed to be a way to scroll down the list and enable/disable options. It's most likely that these lines are in the same order that things are processed and rendered.
    • render setup: Unknown, but cannot be switched off. Is being processed by the CPU.
    • sky texs: Textures for the skybox. No CPU value.
    • sky draw: How many calls are being made to process and render the skybox.
    • tfrag texs: Textures used by Tfrags in the level. No CPU value.
    • tfrag draw: How many calls are being made to process and render the active Tfrags in the level.
    • tie texs: Textures used by TIEs in the level. No CPU value.
    • tie draw: How many calls are being made to process and render the active TIEs in the level.
    • pre effects: Most likely refers to some kind of pre-render effects, but unknown exactly what.
    • shrub texs: Textures used by shrubs in the level. No CPU value.
    • shrub draw: How many calls are being made to process and render the active shrubs in the level.
    • pre 2 effects: Just like pre effects.
    • moby texs: Textures used by mobys in the level. No CPU value.
    • moby draw: How many calls are being made to process and render the active mobys in the level.
    • effects texs: Textures used by the pre/post render effects. Both CPU and GPU counts are disabled.
    • vu effects: Vector Unit effects? What?
    • moby effects: Effects specifically applied to mobys.
    • part draw: How many calls are being made to process and render active particles in the level.
    • post effects: Calls for the post-rendering effects. Both CPU and GPU values are disabled.
    • Fb-post create: "Fb" likely stands for "Frame Buffer", which is where the completed render is stored before it's sent to the monitor. Unknown what is actually being done at this stage.
    • Fb-post apply: Same as above. GPU count only.
    • hud: How many calls it's taking to process and render the HUD above everything else.
    • screen overlays: Would relate to any effects which go over the top of the HUD and the rest of the rendered image. GPU counter only.
    • aa blur: Anti-Aliasing, GPU counter only.
    • debug text: The very debug text you're reading. Cannot be disabled, and both CPU and GPU counters are disabled.

 

DRAW

Adds overlays with useful debugging information (with one except, all these simply are off/on toggles). Many of these simply do not function, or behave in odd ways.

 

  • Darken: This was most likely meant to darken the background to make debugging text easier to see, but it doesn't appear to work.
  • Env coll: Doesn't appear to function; likely would have shown the collision meshes for environment objects in the world.
  • Moby coll: Doesn't appear to function; likely would have shown the collision meshes for active mobys.
  • Hero coll: Doesn't appear to function; likely would have shown the collision meshes for the player character.
  • B spheres: Doesn't appear to function; likely would have shown the bounding spheres for objects in the world.
  • Cameras: Unknown.
  • Cuboids: Doesn't appear to work in this version, but would most likely have shown the cuboids for triggering enemy alert radii.
  • Sample pts: Unknown.
  • Text: Creates 5 lines of white text at the bottom of the screen with the following information;
    •     HERO POS: {x0, y0, z0} {x1 y1}: Two different vectors for the player's location. The first is measured as float values (and is Ratchet's position from the origin), while the second is integer and does not include a z-axis (and is most likely a vector pointing towards some specific object in the level).
    •     CAM POS: {x, y, z}: The 3D Vector for the camera's current position.
    •     CAM ROT: {x, y, z}: The 3D Vector, in radians, for the camera's current rotation. Depending on the normal of what Ratchet is standing on (for when he is on spherical worlds or metallic surfaces), Ratchet's up/down rotation will be locked to 120 degrees (±1.05 radians in either direction).
    •     WORLD TIME: #: A constantly ticking up integer value that represents how much time the game has been active for since the level was loaded.
    •     XP: #: Shows a truncated display of the XP value in the debug menu (see below).
  • UIDs: Displays the Unique IDentifiers for object instances in the world, prefixed with 'u' (salmon colour). Many objects (such as Ratchet and his ship) are marked as "UX", purpose unknown.
  • Moby Num: Displays another set of identifier numbers over any mobys, prefixed with 'o' (blue colour).
  • Groups: Displays yet another set of identifier numbers over objects which indicate their "grouping", with the prefix 'g' (green colour). Ratchet, his ship, vendors and other objects are often marked as 'g255'.
  • Interp: May have been intended to display splines that objects use to interpolate between positions, but it doesn't seem to do anything in this build.
  • Tuning [off | black | white | blue]: Adds tuning debugging info in the specified colour. See the "Tuning" section for more info.
  • Sky: Unknown.
  • Sound: Unknown.

 

MINING

The Mining System is used in Minor segments to prevent players from farming for bolts when they re-enter a segment, to encourage players progressing and moving forward with the game. When Mining is active (by collecting a bolt in a Minor segment), some additional debugging information is added in a couple places.

 

Firstly, a simple text display is added at the bottom of the screen; this appears in-game, in-cutscene and in the pause menu, but not in sub-menus or in the debug menu. When first activated, it will generally look something like this;

 

0 / 0:01 = 0 (5)

 

The actual formulas for deciding what amount of bolts are more complex than this, but the goal of the mining system is to reduce the number of bolts available to you over time. The formula displayed can be broken down into;

 

Amount Mined / Time Spent Mining = ???

 


TBD, it's all just theory and speculation now. (Notes below)

 

  • The Mining System appears to be designed to reduce the amount of bolts and/or experience you get from revisting previously completed worlds, maybe to prevent grinding? The problem is that while all the numbers tick away, it's not clear at all what the underlying math is, or what exactly it's trying to do.
  • Only appears when you replay a level (revisiting the planet) and collect a bolt. At this point, the timer will activate.
  • Is per-planet, but on an individual planets the counters are never reset (so if you did 14 minutes of mining and then fly back, the timer is still at 14 minutes)
  • When mining counter first appears, it starts at
0 / 0:01 = 0 (5)
  • The timer freezes after idling for a certain amount of time
  • [Unrelated] Hero Seg may be actually relating to either the current "difficulty level" or how many boxes are being placed?

 

TUNING
TBD, it's all just theory and speculation now. (Notes below)

 

  • Like text, adds some lines of debugging information to the screen. The option sets the colour of the text. Tuning also enables both the UIDs display (but in the colour of Tuning text and ONLY for enemies), as well as an additional bit of text under the UIDs (purpose unknown, known values include "*0Ae", "*0A-", "*0Be", "*0C-", "*0Ce", "*0Ch", "*0Cm", "3A-" or "0i"). While Tuning is enabled, the debug lines shown by the "Text" option are hidden, regardless of if "Text" is enabled or not. The debugging information that appears also is dependant on if "mining" has been enabled (see the "Mining" section);
    •     Max Wage: (Mining Only) Unknown. Value remains static once you load into a level, but is different for each level.
    •     Amt Mined: (Mining Only) The amount of bolts collected when mining is active.
    •     Time Mining: (Mining Only) A timer that displays how long since mining has been active.
    •     Mining: (Mining Only) Unknown. Seems to be a multiplier hardcoded between 0.5 and 5.0, but not sure how it's used.
    • XP Deficit: If an enemy falls into an unreachable area, normally their XP and Bolts would be lost forever. The game tracks when this happens and stores how many points they were supposed to award you, making it up over the next couple of times you make gains. XP Deficit never seems to increase, however, most likely because the system automatically awards you the XP rather than waiting for you to kill another enemy.
    • Bolt Deficit: Same as above, but also takes into consideration crates (but not other breakables). This value does correctly increase and decrease as you make bolt gains.
    •     Current XP: Unknown, as this doesn't not correlate to the player's actual XP amount as displayed in the Text->XP message.
    • Enemies: #/ #: A display of the amount of "enemies" (including explosive boxes left in the level. The right side represents the total spawned, while the right represents the maximum amount of enemies available (independent of difficulty tuning). Killing an enemy reduces both values.
    • Crates: #/ #: Same concept as above, but this is specifically for health crates.
    •     Showing:  Unknown. Seen values such as '-1', '0', 'C', 'min' and 'h' listed, but as to what they refer to, I'm not sure.
    •     Hero Seg: This seems to change as you get to different parts of the level, and is always in the format of a number followed by either "min", "maj" or "cmp".

 

MISC

Some additional controls to affect how the game works.

 

  • Ratchet HP [#]: If this is set higher than Ratchet's current HP, will play the Nanotech Increase effect and message, but otherwise does nothing and will reset when you reopen the Debug menu.
  • Bolts [#]: Either adds or subtracts bolts from Ratchet (functions correctly).
  • XP [#]: Adds or subtracts .1 of a point to Ratchet's current XP (functions correctly, untested if you go under the amount needed for a previous level). This value matches (minus the decimal part) the XP value for the Draw->Text option.
  • Raritanium [#]: As this game has no Raritanium, appears to have no affect.
  • Battle cam [off | on]: Unknown.
  • Actuator [on | off]: Unknown.
  • Add sample [no]: Refers to the audio system, but doesn't appear to work.
  • Add start [no]: Refers to the audio system, but doesn't appear to work.

 

FOG

These controls don't appear to function, but should control fogging.

 

  • Near dist [x]
  • Near int [x]
  • Far dist [x]
  • Far int [x]
  • Color R [x]
  • Color G [x]
  • Color B [x]

 

WEAPON DEBUG PAGE

This page is one giant table for every weapon in the game (ignoring the wrench). 6 slots are empty, but may be linked to the multiplayer weapons rather than deleted/hidden content.

 

The headers for the table are;

 

  • NAME: The name of the weapon. Duh.
  • UPG: The current level of the weapon. '0' indicates that a weapon has not been purchased yet. Pressing the Circle button will let you increase level (and unlock a weapon if not already bought), while Cross will decrease.
  • AMMO: How much ammo that player has for that weapon.
  • DMG: A float value that somehow represents the amount of damage each weapon does.
  • HP2: Unknown.
  • HP1G: Unknown.
  • HP2G: Unknown.

 

As a warning, if you enable a weapon by setting its UPG value to above zero, it will not show in the Quick-Select or Weapons menu. Some of the weapons do not have sounds.

 

GADGET XP PAGE

Despite the name, specifically represents how much experience each weapon has. This menu is nothing more than a list of names and float values.

 

LOAD LEVEL PAGE

A list of levels in the game and their IDs. Selecting an option with the Square button will warp you to that planet as if you had used your ship to go there. For this version, every level from Daxx onwards is not included, so will crash the game.

 

TUNING PAGE

Speculation is that these are special properties as needed for individual levels, that didn't have an appropriate place in the other menus to be displayed when debugging/testing. Also contains a "Completes" value,  with no known effect.

 

WEAPON MODS PAGE

For each of the weapons in the game, allows you to enable/disable the Shock, Acid and/or Lock-On mods, but only for weapons that can take those addons (for example, the Qwack-O-Ray cannot use any of them).

 

SPACE COMBAT PAGE

Like raritanium above, a hold-over from Ratchet & Clank 2 that lets you enable/disable special parts for your ship, but goes completely unused in this game.

 

RC2HUD TWEAKS N' SETTINGS PAGE

Contains two settings for controlling HUD functionality, which can be turned on and off.

 

  • QSEL PAUSE: Does the game pause while holding open the Quick-Select menu? Enabled by default.
  • IGE DEBUG: When enabled, prints some garbage to the screen (it's likely the font used in R&C2 was not included). Ratchet's movement is paused, but everything else (including the camera) moves. Disabled by default.

 

RC3 CHALLENGE MODE PAGE

 

Sets your current Challenge Mode level. You need to press the Circle button to increase this number, and the Square to decrease it. While it does have an effect on how much damage enemies do to you and how much damage enemies can take (after saving and reloading), there's no bolt multiplier and the save file doesn't include the number.

 

RATCHET ARMOR PAGE

Allows you to set what armour Ratchet is wearing. Despite the tool tip, there are 4 armour levels instead of 3. Instead of using the normal Cross/Triangle, you need to use the left/right directions to switch this number.

 

CAM FLY BY PAGE

If you press the 'X' button, this is supposed to play a short camera fly-by animation, but only if one exists for the level (a red message will appear if it doesn't exist).

 

FONT PROPERTIES PAGE

Neither of these options seem to have any effect, and it's not known if these should affect the Debug Menu or the in-game font.

 

  • Drop: ??
  • Scale: ??

 

POST EFFECTS PAGE

Allows you to control how post processing effects render.

 

  • Bloom copy tint R: ??
  • Bloom copy tint G: ??
  • Bloom copy tint B: ??
  • Bloom copy tint A: ??
  • Bloom apply 1 A: ??
  • Bloom apply 2 A: ??
  • Bloom show 1 [off | on]: When enabled, and if there is bloom in the rendered view, creates a small black window in the bottom-right corner. As you move your camera about, any bloom effects will be displayed in the box. This is likely to help isolate issues with the bloom lighting when debugging. [!!! GRAB SCREENSHOT !!!]
  • Bloom show 1 [off | on]: When enabled, and if there is bloom in the rendered view, creates an even smaller, static texture map in the corner. [!!! GRAB SCREENSHOT !!!]
  • Arcade effect strength: ??

 

LEVEL TRANSITIONS PAGE

Lets you debug the ship transition screen when going to a different planet.

 

  • Level From: Which planet you are coming from.
  • Level to: Which planet you will warp to.
  • Show transition: Plays the transition based on the numbers you entered above. Will actually warp you to the selected planet.

 

McJobless

This isn't a proper review or anything special; just a summation of thoughts about 35 hours of gameplay.

I 100%'d LEGO Lord of the Rings today. I plan on doing similar for all of the Traveler's Tales games in a kind of morbid, painful adventure. As much as I hate the repetitive nature, there's things about the formula that appeal to me, such as the stories/licenses, the colours and the kind of mix-and-match gameplay that sporadically appears.

I like Lord of the Rings, which is why I decided to play it first. Prior to this, my previous TT Game's experiences were LEGO Movie, Indiana Jones 2 and then the three Star Wars games. If it's not clear; this was really my first full experience of an open-world(-ish) TT Game. I can't be sure when they started, but I know that there were still things that weren't exactly right; the lack of a minimap, certain gates and doors remaining locked half the time you spawn in, a wide variety of clipping issues...but honestly, it was actually kind of fun to walk around Middle-Earth. Looking at the map, you'd be forgiven for thinking it's a pain to get around (especially since you can't spawn in vehicles), but it's actually a lot smaller than it looks, which is good for easing in movement.

The "parkour" challenges were made awful thanks to a unique bug that has spawned thanks to a prominent feature in this game; there's a "character wheel" which means that you can have a party of 9 or more characters at one time, and you can select which you want to play as (or in Free-Play mode you can also get the full character selector). That was actually really handy; what wasn't so handy was the fact that the game has a lot of trouble discerning between when I want to swap between 1P and 2P, and when I want to open the character wheel, since they're both tied to the same button. Many times, I would be at the top of a parkour challenge and needed to make a final swap to another character with a specific ability, when suddenly the game would pull the rug out from under my feet and switch me to 2P. 1P would then jump down to the ground, and I'd lose all progress. There were also weird instances where, upon selecting a free-play character, instead of just setting 1P to that character, the game would switch me to 2P and then switch my character. I can't even fathom how that works logically.

There was a lot of bollocking in this game. The game is WAY too happy to steal the camera and point out the bloody obvious (I'm pretty sure even the kids the game is aimed at know what the f**** was happening and don't need it shoved into their faces for 20 seconds). Thankfully, it seems like the dynamic hints option wasn't as annoying as The LEGO Movie Videogame, but that might just be because I either tuned out. There's also a plethora of bugs; characters moving half-way across the map during QTEs, Gollum/Climbing characters moving into awkward positions if they touch a speck of dust while wall-climbing, items that can be collected multiple times (no benefit in doing so though), many AI pathfinding woes...

Is it all just negative? Surprisingly, no. I nitpick because I really wanted to love this, and in the end I did kind of like it. The voice acting was just straight-ripped from the movies (aside from the Quest characters who were probably just people inside the studio), but at least it wasn't poor imitations. The animation work is almost flawlessly entertaining like always, and there's a lot of really satisfying polish (bits of vibration, camera shake, colour, sounds etc). While they did cut out some of the plotlines, they managed to keep the important stuff (and even add characters not from the movie; that's pretty damn good). The Bonus Level (and Sauron's attack) were very satisfying. Some sections of the game were actually really fun to play.

Of course, it does get very tedious and repetitive at times. Certain sections edge along unfairly (such as any time you're requires to jump on the thin planks, thanks to poor invisible wall placement), and somebody was clearly taking the piss when they decided to keep doing that thing from LSW where you have minikits during the run-towards-the-camera sections (multiple times!). TT Games really haven't figured out the money problem, since the point at which you have more money than you actually need comes quite early in the game (especially if you get the red brick multipliers, which can total up to around x3800). There was also a substantial lack of fanfare for making the 100%, but I guess that's always been a bit of an issue.

If I had more time or patience, I'd probably do a full review and breakdown of every bit of the game, but I wanted to give a kind of quick summary. I don't hate this one. Unlike LEGO Movie Videogame, it feels like this had a bit more time and a bit more love was put it into it. The problem is that Level Design clearly dropped the ball on many parts of the game, and while they get certain sections absolutely perfect, others they get terribly, terribly wrong. I figure that if they had just a few more months, a lot of the bugs and issues would have disappeared, and I'd be a bit more satisfied.

McJobless

Mindless Rambling Thoughts About People

If ever asked, I'll deny myself as a feminist or a liberal or any of that bulls***. There's only one label that I feel fits me best; "Egalitarian". I've spent months trying to understand the word and its connotations, but I've come to the realisation that I knew what it meant all along, because it's exactly how I live my life. Allow me to explain;

I grew up in a sort-of-Religious family in Australia. As in, we'd sometimes go to Church, I went to Church camps (mostly just for the camp bit), I went to Catholic schools and all that jazz. I'm not here to discuss my beliefs on the Church or their beliefs, but rather to discuss the one thing that stuck with me through the ages; "Love thy neighbour as you love thy self." Think about how f****ing powerful that message is. Hell, it's the entire basis for Australian life. My life in Australia has been beautiful because there were no limits and no wrong-doing. I could call anybody anything, and they'd laugh with me, shoot a joke insult back, and we'd laugh even harder. I never cared if somebody was female, black or handicapped, and it never mattered. What did matter was the standards you held, and the things you were wiling to sacrifice in order to achieve. Hell, for most people I didn't even (and still don't) bother remembering their names, since I remembered them through their key characteristics, and they would always do the same. That's the life I want my children to have. That's the life I want everybody I know to have.

I grew up in a family of funeral directors. We're surrounded by death constantly, and the thing that keeps us sane is the humour. Death doesn't mean anything to me because life is one big jolly when you think about it. And as I grew up, humour became more than a coping mechanism; it was a way that my friends and I expressed our views. It didn't matter how stupid, stereotypical or insulting it sounded; every joke was there to let us know that it was okay to be open about the horrible realities that life presents us. Jew jokes, blond jokes, retard jokes, nerd jokes. That old phrase "We call our mates 'cunts' and cunts our 'mates'" rang true in my circles. Depression wasn't fixed by being gentle; it was fixed by getting people to live a life better than what they had been. I still remember all the conversations I had that helped rehabilitate people, and without humour, I doubt those people would be in the incredible state of living they're in now.

In about 10 rewrites of this blog entry, I wanted to cover how my views relate to common social media trending issues, but I've decided not to. The thing is that I do my best not be offended by anything except the most inane stuff that I can write off as comedy (such as getting angry at the s***ty chairs in my local RSL). I refuse to be sensitive or fragile, because in the end that (in my view) makes me a weaker individual towards my end goals of creating high quality works or to become a mentor-like teacher. If I allow myself to get offended every time somebody pronounces somebody's name wrong, makes a joke or overall acts in an "uncivil" way, I don't know how I'd cope with the life I lead.

I certainly don't have any German in me, but I believe I have a lot of German qualities in the harshness of my critiques and my adherence to standards (most of the time, when I'm not being a lazy dickhead). That's where we need to be. If we don't keep pushing each other, how will any of us learn to do the great things ahead of us? Thankfully, most of my German critique is embedded in the form of humour, which sometimes makes it easier to swallow.

Anyway, this blog has been all over the place and it's mostly because I got really tired half way through, went to get a coffee, came back confused and wanted to wrap this up. The point I guess I'm trying to make is that what may come off as me being an arsehole really is me being an arsehole...because that's how I express deeper, honest opinions. I'm not going to hold back because somebody will get their feelings hurt in the process; the truth and the freedom to speak is the most important thing we hold as humans, as that is what enabled us to get to where we are today. I will embrace my right to speak, and my right to treat everybody exactly the same; all as the glorious cunts who keep this world spinning.

McJobless

To the Director whom this concerns;

I remained silent when you unfortunately modified the rules and regulations, allowing for members with no pants to join. I remained silent when you permanently terminated the "Cow Car Fund", which would have raised funds for our very own security tour bus which we would use to visit offending members in real life, so that we could ban them permanently. I even remained silent when you destroyed the need to be an active member of RRU society (mainly because I decided to become less active after such offence to spite you).

I unfortunately cannot remain silent any more. The recent behaviour of forum members has been erratic, foolish, and downright insane. There has been an alarming rise in unquestionably "revolutionary" actions, specifically involving the use of forum avatars and status updates to post "hidden" and "secret" messages which push an anti-RRU agenda. Clearly, a rebellion is happening right below your nose, and you have failed to pick up the scent. When I sent you cases of evidence to support my argument, you simply brushed it off as "RRU being RRU".

I must therefore step down from my position as Senior Overlord Constable Pants Enforcer Major. This move has not been made in haste, nor was it done without considerations for where my true purpose lies; I have already made the proper arrangements to join with RRU's "HAZMAT" department, and will be taking on the role of "Master Commander Sergeant of the Dark Knight's Round Table" with the responsibility of cleaning up this mess that you have failed to prevent.

For the benefit of your department, information is strictly on a need-to-know basis. With that said, I have been given authorisation to inform you that we will be specifically targeting several known problem users over the next few weeks. RRU HQ has confirmed that we will be paid a bounty for every unsavoury avatar, status update, blog entry or gallery image that we quash.

I wish you all the best in your endeavours, and I look forward to cleaning up your mess by fighting fire with fire.

Sincerely,

Master Commander Sergeant McJobless of the Dark Knight's Round Table.

McJobless

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What separates you from your enemies?

© Ben Steenson 2015

Note! This is a work in progress! Come back every day for new updates, gameplay features, story, images and more!

Welcome to the design proposal for a new video game, LEGO Ultra Agents: Retake Astor! This proposal is being written as a hobby of mine and is not intended for real production, but with that said, I would like it serve as an example of the cool things you can do with LEGO in Video Games without the limitations that TT Games set in place by using their horrid formula.

As a general rule, this game will be darker and edgier than most LEGO products, and for the most part the previous two revisions of the LEGO Agents line (2008 - 2009) will be ignored, with maybe a few mentions here and there. I have considered a multiplayer mode, but decided against it at this point in time only because it would mean its own entirely separate design document; the multiplayer mode would still be part of the main game, but would require new gameplay elements outside the scope of this current project.

Proposal Overview

What Is This Game?

LEGO Ultra Agents: Retake Astor (name pending) is a Single-Player Third-Person Platformer/Shooter hybrid (with Metroidvania-elements) which teaches and stresses the importance of creativity, consistency, teamwork and respecting a good framework. It features mainly characters, locations and themes from the LEGO Ultra Agents line, but also uses a few things from both the Agents line and the Alpha Team line.

Why Would People Care?

LEGO is an extremely popular and powerful toyline, but its presence in digital media has been unfitting for its powerful abilities to teach children and inspire adults. The TT Games have been following the same old formula for long enough now that people are starting to realise that the games don't have a strong or interesting core, and it doesn't help that the games are grounded in technical issues due to a reduced development cycle. This game is a fresh new take on the LEGO Media medium, and is actually built with the core themes and messages of the LEGO brand in mind. This game has been designed to be open enough to allow all players their own means of expression, giving freedom through both the gameplay as well as the customisation.

Who Is This Game For?

This game would primarily be for children and adults, aged 12 and upwards. The darker themes of this game and its gameplay mean that it's less suited towards children younger than 10, and the game's similarities to the Batman: Arkham-series of games means that adults will likely find enjoyment that younger audience members will not. This is a product aimed towards those who already enjoy the LEGO product, and more specifically to those who are excited by the concept of Heroes and Villains, since the game's antagonists are all essentially super-villains using special powers. While there is no real gender-preference, conceivably this game will appeal more towards males. The client for the game will be The LEGO Group, and we hope this is a title that they can proudly boast as representing the company's key goals of the LEGO product, even if it is less suited towards their usual younger market.

Gameplay Elements

Goals and Objectives

The overall goal of the game is to defeat every single Super-Villain and disband their associated gangs in the streets of the city of Astor City.

There are 3 Acts of the game; Act 1 and 2 are similar, built to train and reinforce the same concepts which will become important in Act 3. Act 3 represents the Point of No Return, and it is here where the player's skills are really tested.

Act 1 & 2

In Act 1 & 2 (both being based off of Series 1 and Series 2 of the Ultra Agents line respectively), you are given a set of Super-Villains to contain, as well as a stack of side-quests which may be required (depend on the player's play-style) in order to complete the overall goal of defeating each Super-Villain.

There are no barriers preventing the players from chasing down each villain whenever they want, aside from how the player wishes to accomplish each target, and the tools they need. Each antagonist NPC is spread over different parts of the city, and are actually active within that area. When the player feels they are ready to attack, they simply need to locate each target NPC (by listening to radio reports, following police squad cars, flying around etc) and either give chase or defeat the villain. Each hostile NPC holds its own behaviours and strengths/weaknesses, and this will be something players need to adjust for.

One NPC in each Act will require that every other NPC is already caught. These NPCs (Terabyte for Act 1, AntiMatter for Act 2) require the use of every single power you used to capture the previous NPCs (for example, you need water to finish off one individual NPC, and then water allows you to stun Terabyte for long enough to use other powers so that you can eventually capture him). This is a way of reinforcing to the player that different abilities have more than one unique use, and that the player should mess around with each item and power in order to find new strategies.

In order to acquire the powers and tools needed to finish off the NPCs, you need to have access to Bricks (more details in the Resources section). Bricks can be acquired in several ways;

  • By defeating all the members of a gang patrol roaming the streets. These only give you limited bricks, and you cannot get any special items, but defeating a patrol allows you to interrogate a member of the patrol (using the dialogue gameplay mechanic) for hints on special locations, such as the location of the associated NPC or the nearest vault.
  • By raiding a gang vault with stolen bricks and confiscating those bricks. You will get a larger amount of bricks this way, and you will also get access to special bricks and possibly even other treasures.
  • By finding NPC "treasures", such as their plans, laptops, vehicles and other items. These give you limited bricks, but you also will damage the NPC/Gang's reputation/power, meaning there will be less patrols (which is important earlier in the game, as patrols have very powerful weaponry and armour) and the NPC will be easier to find and possibly even less powerful.
  • By completing Civilian Quests. These are quests given by citizen NPCs, and usually involve defeating a gang patrol before they rob a store or doing surveillance work to determine who is blackmailing citizens. Completing these gives you limited bricks, but you also get access to the police network through the Constable who requests your assistance. The Police Network will grant you radar scanning abilities, and will also allow you to summon either Police or Super Secret Police to a specified location on request. These missions will also permanently open up new interior areas.

These are all types of measured side-quests. A player simply looking to get through the story will only need to do a few of these to get the items they need to capture the NPCs, but will of course find the game more difficult. Furthermore, while there are permanent changes between Act 1 and Act 2 (some of the buildings are destroyed, characters and gangs change etc), all of the original side-quests are still completable, alongside a stack of new ones.

Act 3

The final Act of the game introduces a new villain, and starts with the levelling of nearly the whole city. The player's single goal now is to take down the final Villain, and in order to do so they must learn as much as they can about the villain's behaviour, set appropriate traps and then attack once the villain is inside the trap. In order to set the traps, the player will need to convince each of the captured NPCs to help them through dialogue scenes. Successfully convincing each NPC will give the player new intel and items which they can place in the world in order to effectively create traps.

The player can only successfully interrogate each NPC if they are able to establish information about the new villain. By watching the villain do something (such as blow up a water reservoir), the player will unlock dialogue options. The more dialogue options unlocked, the more routes and the easier the player will find it to convince the NPCs to help the cause. Players can also talk to the remaining citizens, ex-gang members, police officers and Agent NPCs to see if they know any important information.

The very final battle between Player and Villain will require the player to build the "ultimate weapon", and depending on how well they studied the villain, they may be capable to defeat the villain in one hit, or it make take them a long time, based on the upgrades and bricks they use.

The game creates a special autosave once the player enters Act 3 that allows them to return to before they finished Act 2 so that they may complete all the side quests, similar to Psychonauts.

Other Goals

There are a few more goals which can impact a player's experience through the game;

  • The player can "witness" enemies using certain attacks, and learn new special combo moves. In order to trigger a witness-moment, the player must find a gang which is either attacking another gang or is attacking a citizen. If the player uses their scope and stays watching the gang, they may be able to unlock a new combo. These combos are randomly generated.
  • In order to grant the use of the largest vehicles, the player must complete a number of "challenges" for the Overseer. If the player completes these challenges (usually involving finding specially-highlighted gang members or citizens, or using a specific move to take out a target), the player is granted Authorisation and will be given the chance to call in either the Mobile HQ truck or the Helicopter while outdoors. Challenges are not measured towards game progress, and Authorisation(s) is/are not required for game completion, but may help.
  • Hostage Situations and Alpha Team Member rescues. The Ultra Agents and the Alpha Team members are all being held captive, and now that the original Agents have either been fired or permanently terminated, the situation is dire. There are phones ringing around the city; if you manage to pick one up, you will enter a dialogue scene, and you will decide the fate of that agent. Meanwhile, the Alpha Team members apparently do still exist even though they were officially disbanded years ago. They've been captured and locked in individual vaults under the city, which can only be opened by locating the guards in the underground tunnels that have the keys.

    Successfully saving each member will unlock you new prefab vehicles and character customisation parts, as well as a limited amount of bricks.

Actions, Rules and Procedures

As this is a hybrid of multiple genres of game, there are a combination of gameplay elements, as well as character states. Players must earn new gameplay actions by completing goals listed above, and the more effort a player puts in, the more elements of the game they will get out.

Default Character State

The default state that your character starts in is as such;

  • Player can freely roam the entire exterior city without restriction. Most interior buildings are closed off, the main exceptions being the Ultra Agent HQ and the Police Station. The player cannot fast-travel until they unlock at least one significant location.
  • Player can move forward, backward, left, right (with a locked-strafe mode by holding a button down, similar to Ratchet & Clank 3: Up Your Arsenal). Player is allowed 1 level of jump, and can sprint by holding the sprint button.
  • Player can climb ledges and small walls (things like chain-link fences). Player can tap the sprint button while holding a direction button to roll.
  • Player may use their own vehicles or any vehicles parked on the street. Flying vehicles are not available until Act 2. Players will not get access to Challenges/Authorisation until they meet the Overseer.
  • Player has two weapon slots they can switch between. At the start player may use their default weapon, a lazer pistol, and will need to find or build another weapon to fill slot 2. Player may do simple punch melee by pressing the melee button, or a heavy melee attack by holding the button down. Player has access to 1 special combo; by pressing the melee button in the right order, they can activate a knockout-punch. Player may target enemies by using the targeting button.
  • Player may initiate dialogue with any friendly or interrogated NPC (interrogated NPCs will have a dialogue sequence inside a locked room inside the Ultra Agent HQ). Player will not have access to all dialogue options.
  • Player cannot initiate customisation options until they collect a brick and report to Ultra Agent HQ after receiving a briefing from the Overseer. Afterwards, player may use the remote customisation device to customise their appearance, and create weapons/vehicles on the spot. Said device only works outdoors. Players may also use a fixed device (a "Customisation Station") that do the same things, and are spread all over the map.
  • Player cannot respond to citizen requests until they meet the Police Chief.
  • Player can access the Journal and Area Map, but will need to fill in the extra content by playing through the game.
  • Player cannot use the Police Radar (double-tapping the Radar button, opens up the Journal/Area Map interface but adds the police communication audio and locations to the Area Map) until they have completed a single citizen request. Players can use the Local Surveillance Scope (an infra-red scanner that highlights NPCs, objects and any quest-relevant object within a certain range) by pressing the Radar button.
  • Player cannot save the Ultra Agents until they see the Overseer, and they cannot save the Alpha Team agents until an announcement plays on the big screens from Terabyte.

Completed Character State

This is the final list of abilities the player has (additions and changes to the default character state only), without the use of player-selected upgrades;

  • Player has access to a number of interior locations, as well as the entire exterior city. Player can also traverse the aerospace and the underground tunnel network which provides shortcuts and can be trapped.
  • Player can climb walls, provided they visit Ultra Agent HQ went after receiving a message about training.
  • Player has access to cars, trucks, planes, helicopters, mechs, bikes and boats. Citizens will offer their vehicles to player, and player can also hijack gang-vehicles.
  • Player can use a wide array of weapons, and may also take weapons from enemies for a limited period of time (until the end of the enemy encounter). Player has a number of combos which involve multiple buttons, but can take out many enemies at once.
  • Player will have witnessed all events, seen enough locations and unlocked enough other content in order to open up all dialogue options.

Brick Customisation

One of the big elements of this game is the ability to customise and create your own solutions to problems. Bricks as resources will be discuses in a later section.

There are 4 levels of customisation. Each also includes prefabs, so that players can build off of a stable prototype;

  • Character Customisation: This part of customisation is purely aesthetic, and does not require bricks. Players collect new body parts as they progress through the game; meet each Ultra Agent unlocks the Agent body parts, defeating the Villains unlocks the Villain parts, helping citizens unlocks miscellaneous parts and so on. There are a few categories, and players may enable or disable certain parts like hats and capes.
  • Character Abilities: A number of these will be outlined in a little bit; they give the player unique abilities, but the player can only have a limited amount of them active at one time. They are unlocked by either finding power bricks (only in Gang Vaults) or doing specific side quests.
  • Weapon Customisation: The player is allowed to build their own weapons, or use prefabs as a base. The size of the weapon they're allowed to build is determined by how many bricks the player has collected (weapon size = the weapon's power; you don't spend bricks on increasing the size, but rather as you receive more bricks, when you hit a certain range you unlock the next size of weapon). In order to make the weapon actually work, players need to add power bricks, and can only add a limited number, depending on how many big bricks they have.
  • Vehicle Customisation: Similar to weapon customisation, except that the type of vehicles you can build is also dictated by how many bricks you have. Once again, power bricks unlock new bonuses for your vehicle.

A few examples of the different types of abilities you can unlock with Power Bricks:

Character Abilities

  • Tracker: A tracker device you apply to yourself or others. It allows you to keep constant track of that character through your Radar, but more importantly allows your NPC allies to also know where you or the tracked target is so they can provide assistance on your call. You can throw the tracker onto another character by switching weapons and throwing it, but you cannot recover it. You must get a new one through the Remote Customisation Device, but this will also disable your current one if you have one active on a target.
  • Jump-Pack/Jet-Pack: The former allows you to double-jump, while the latter allows you to hover and fly to a certain height. Obviously, one is accessible before the other one, and you can only have one on at a single time.
  • Treasure Mapper: Displays all of the side-quests on the Radar.
  • Hacker: Allows you to overload any nearby equipment and also shock/stun enemies that are vulnerable to it.
  • Lead-Weight: Allows you to fall on enemies with enough force to immediately knock them out.

Weapon Abilities

  • Skeletonizer: Immediately converts an enemy to skeleton, causing them to run away in fear.
  • Water Jet: Creates a thick stream of water which can stun or incapacitate enemies depending on how long you shoot it at them for, and can also create puddles.
  • Harpoon: Allows you to create ziplines that you can travel on, but also allows you to drag enemies towards you and even stop cars.
  • Hwacha: Fires rockets down on a selected area like rain.

Vehicle Abilities

  • Nitro Boost: Makes the car go faster.
  • Claws: Allows you to grab onto other cars, and even rip bricks off them.

Different players will have different ideas and skill levels for customisation. While the prefabs should give less-inclined creators the ability to still pick and choose, the building system is set up similar to LEGO Digital Designer, the only exception being that there are minimum and maximum height, length and breadth values, and that players will only have access to a maximum amount of bricks based on the level they've unlocked. For the vehicle designer, players are not required to use a vehicle base, but must have a minimum amount of wheels/engines/rudder etc, while the weapon designer requires players to select either a base piece the minifigure can hold, or use a backpack base as seen in the Ultra Agents sets (this latter option means that players cannot use certain abilities such as the Jet-Pack).

The vehicle/weapon designers also include smaller prefab "Components", which are pre-built sections that the players can put together. While they are not full vehicles or weapons, they do represent a chunk of pre-constructed parts, and the player may remove the individual parts from this section once it has been placed (i.e., after placement, a Component becomes individual bricks). For example, a component might be the front bumper with a number plate and car grill, or it could be an entire engine-design.

Individual bricks each have their own unique properties which can be edited via a special window; for weapon Power Bricks, you can assign each brick to one of the either two triggers (meaning you can fire multiple "gun pieces" at one time), and you can also change each brick's colour and if they have a sticker/print, even after placement.

Vehicles can have an "Alt-Mode". All prefabs contain an Alt-Mode until the player modifies the prefab (changing the layout of the bricks may make the Alt-Mode impossible). Players can also design their own Alt-Mode for any customised vehicle; they're not allowed to add or remove any parts, but may flip hinges or detach pieces and reassign certain parts (for example, wheels might become booster rockets and the Alt-Mode might be a hover-bike). The player can use the Switch Weapon button to change between the different vehicle modes in-game.

Finally, each different customisation item can be shared amongst different people by simply copying the save files (each new custom item you save is saved to a new, individual file). These will appear in the "Saved Items" tab, which is next from "Prefabs". If you don't have access to the bricks required to build saved custom item, that item will appear greyed-out. This means you can also share items between your own multiple game saves/careers.

Dialogue

Another core gameplay mechanic is the dialogue system. Dialogue operates similar to most RPGs; you can approach any NPC in the world, and provided they have conversation options available, you will be presented with a list of potential dialogue options. This conversation continues until the player selects appropriate dialogue option that ends the conversation, or in an emergency instance where, for example, the player/NPC comes under attack.

The dialogue system in this game is focused entirely on what the player character knows and learns. While some dialogue options are available by default (Such as "Who are you?"), others need to be acquired, similar to trading cards. Since the player character is new to Astor City and the Ultra Agents, this gives the justification for the player's "amnesia"; they simply know nothing about the situation they are in.

Some of the ways you can learn about the ingame story and unlock extra dialogue options include;

  • Long Dialogue Chains: A smart player can simply talk with multiple NPCs, and in doing so they may unlock information about a location, person or so on that they haven't actually physically seen yet.
  • Locations: Whenever the player enters a new region of the city (which will be discussed in a later section), or comes across an important landmark, they will unlock new fast-travel points, but will also open up any dialogue options that relate to those locations.
  • NPCs: By either looking at, talking with, or seeing a picture/listening to a radio report etc of an NPC will unlock that character's related dialogue options. Unlike locations, there are actually levels of information about an NPC that the player can know about. For example, knowing that one of the villain's weaknesses is ice might not be immediately obvious, until you talk with more NPCs or stumble across the correct information source.
  • Hints and Abilities: Either through use of your own unlocked abilities, witnessing an NPC use an ability or through normal discussion, you can unlock tangential information on how to defeat bosses or do interesting things inside the game.

Dialogue is recorded to a log inside the Journal. If the player hits the "Log" tab, they can view all the previous conversation chains, whereas if they view the "Information" tab, they can see a summary of everything the Player Character knows about the game world. There is also a "Quests" tab (name pending) which gives them some information and stats on how many villains they need to deal with, how many vaults are left etc; the side-quests do not actually show up until you find the first of each. It is yet to be decided if the total number to find is displayed, or if you must purchase/find/use dialogue to unlock the total number.

Movement and Combat - Normal Gameplay (Non-Bosses)

During normal gameplay, the player has access to a movement and combat suite which give them freedom to explore the map and defend themselves/engage threats.

With everything unlocked and without the use of the extra abilities, the player can climb up walls, similar to Assassin's Creed, jump/roll/slide over small ledges, car bonnets and other obstacles, lock-strafe like in Ratchet & Clank 2/3 and have the ability to do a single jump and sprint. Players should ultimately feel as though the world is their playground/sandbox, and their movement through the world is what will define that feeling. Players need to be encourage to explore the bounds of the movement system, as this will give them incentive to actually study enemy behaviour and unlock new gameplay, and also lead to players acting more tactically.

The Player Character is an Agent, and therefore is not as physically strong as some of the opponents they will be going up against. Similar to the Fallout health system, each limb has its own health, and the total health bar is a composite of those bars, as well as some other factors. The factors to take into account when deciding player's health are as follows:

  • Overall Health: The player has a health bar, and can take a finite amount of damage before that is reduced to zero. While taking off the player character's limbs will reduce the player's health to low levels, they will still be (barely) alive. The player must continue to take just enough damage to permanently kill them.
  • Limbs: As mentioned before, each limb has its own health, and when they reach critical damage, they will simply pop-off the character and the player will no longer be able to use that limb. This usually means limiting their move set, and reducing the amount of damage they can deal with a melee attack. Players can actually still be alive, so long as they still have their torso and head, but they will no longer be able to attack or do any form of parkour, and instead can only crawl around. Limbs can be reacquired by going to a Hospital, the Agents/Police HQ or any customisation station.
  • Bleed-Out/Environment Damage: If the player starts taking damage, or if they enter an environment that can cause lasting harm to them (such as sub-zero temperatures or a gas-filed sewer), players will start losing health, and the rate/length of this is determined by the player's current state (a healthier player will put up a better resistance) and the level of the damage (a bigger blow to the head or breathing in deadly toxins will do far more damage than other forms). Losing a limb will cause permanent bleed-out until the limb is replaced.
  • Abilities: Some abilities may increase health, auto-heal the player or reduce the amount of bleed-out/environmental damage.

When the player loses all of their health, they fall apart (literally). After a black-out transition, they will wake up in either the Agents HQ or a Hospital (whatever is closer), where they will be (again, literally) reassembled. If they will killed during fighting a gang or taking a boss, any damage they did/NPCs they terminated will persist. NPC gangs only respawn after you take out their entire gang and some time has passed (and if their associated Villain has not been defeated), and Villains will occasionally attempt to heal themselves back up to full if you die too many times or take too long getting back to their location.

Combat in the game can be performed through the use of vehicles (either by mounted weaponry or by using the vehicles as battering rams), weapons and the player's melee abilities. Vehicle ammo is infinite, but may operate slower than minifigure weapons, and the weapons can also be ripped off by enemy NPCs. The player's weapons do not have ammo, but can overheat, similar to Mass Effect. Certain weapon abilities, such as the Harpoon, do not overheat the weapon and can be operated while the weapon is overheating, but do not do any damage themselves. The player's melee ability involves the use of combos; by pressing the buttons in certain sequence with the right timing, they can do devastating damage to enemies. A list of potential combos will be added in a later update to this document.

Just like in Batman: Arkham City, there are a variety of enemy types, and each enemy will be part of a different faction. Unlike in Batman: Arkham City, gangs will now attack other if they believe they are encroaching on each other's turf. Players can use this to their advantage, but otherwise must analyse each group of enemies beforehand and plan accordingly. Some of the types of generic enemies that are non-specific to gangs:

  • Grunt: The bare-bones troop. They can punch, and that's about it. Their punches are very hard, so players will need to either get an Armour upgrade ability, or dodge with a roll whenever the enemy gestures to attack (enemies use the 1/2-second gesture from the Ratchet & Clank series so that players can pre-empt their attacks). Grunts don't have armour and don't generally use cover, but will hide if they see the player mowing them down with guns.
  • Troop: A step up from the basic Grunt, they use guns (randomised between tasers, laser guns and rifles) and will use cover sparingly (preferring to stand out in the open), but otherwise are essentially the same.
  • Heavy: These guys are armoured and make use of Rocket Launchers, Chainguns, Flame Throwers and other heavy weapons. They move a lot slower and don't use cover at all, and their head/part of the back is unprotected, so a player who is a good shot or can sneak up on them will be able to defeat them quickly.
  • Sniper: Low armour, high-accuracy. They can instantly remove one of your limbs with a well-timed shot. Similar to the Jackal Snipers in Halo 2/Halo 3, their eye gear glows to make it a bit easier to see where they're hiding. The key is to remember that if you can see them, they can see you.

These "generic" types of enemies will appear in all gangs. Aside from these, each gang will have its own specific special enemies; these special enemies have powers based on their boss. Some bosses may have a few types of special enemies, others may only have one. A few of the special enemies you might encounter include:

  • Flame Spitters: Enemies with a resistance to heat-weapons, and who have a grenade-launcher that throw two types of ammo, "Inferno Grenades" and dynamite. The Inferno Grenades explode on impact and will set whatever they touch on fire for a period of time, whereas the dynamite will explode on impact and create a crater in whatever they impact with. They are specific to Infearno's gang.
  • NerveTroops: Toxikita's personal guard (a sign that you are getting closer to her position). They have stealth field generators that make them partially invisible, and they like to stab enemies with their Nerve Toxin syringes. The Nerve Toxin causes the player to loose control, and the player will need to keep pressing QTE-buttons; failure to do is will cause the player's limbs to start falling off until they die.
  • Robo-Spiders: Spyclops' little pets. They create web traps (either making a web that covers a pathway that the player might walk into, or shooting web-balls at the player) that the player will need to use QTEs to break out of. The spiders are rigged to explode when they get close to the player, and they can also move close together to become a massive spider, similar to the Constructicons in the Transformers universe. This big spiders acts as a mini-boss and mostly uses its front legs to try and squash the player.

Lastly, every Boss/Villain and his/her gang is affected by a "Reputation" bar. The Reputation bar represents how much power they hold within the city. As the player finds and confiscates vaults, defeats gang patrols and saves Alpha Team/Ultra Agents, the reputation of that gang goes down. In the story of the game, this means the black-market providers for the equipment and goons have less confidence in the Boss, and are therefore providing them with less. In terms of gameplay, as the reputation bar goes down, more and more patrols will disappear. The special units will become far more rare, and the Villain may become weaker, as they can no longer source whatever powers their weapons/abilities/vehicles. On the converse, a player who dies a lot will increase reputation of that gang/villain, giving them more power and more patrols.

It is not just the player who affects reputation. Every Villain is looking to expand their individual control of the city, and so there are frequently gang wars, where bordering patrols will attempt to duke it out to see who can gain more ground. Obviously, the winning gang will walk away with a higher reputation, while the losing gang will walk away with a lower one. Furthermore, any time the gang positions change, different gangs will take control of the Vaults, giving them further reputation boosts.

Movement and Combat - Boss Gameplay

While specific stats and tactics will be discussed in a later section, the Villains/Bosses change up gameplay slightly. Each Villain at the start of the game owns a district. While their ownership of the map changes as their reputation changes, the Bosses are all active in the gameworld, and for the most part can be found at any time, provided you hit the right "trigger". The exceptions to this rule are the 3 Big Bads, Terabyte, AntiMatter and Ogel, who can only be found after dealing with all of their subordinates.

The Villains you encounter and their triggers are as follows:

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After Triggering/Locating a Villain/Boss, you have the opportunity to capture them, provided you can knock them unconscious first. Knocking them unconscious requires different things for each different boss, and while the overall logic remains the same, there are a number of ways to solve each boss. The logic for each is below:

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For further explanation:

  • Tremor: He pays little attention to the damage he does, only thinking ahead. This also means he's easy to sneak up behind, because his helmet and gloves make it physically difficult for him to look back.
  • Psyclone: His over-reliance on technology is due to his own lack of confidence in his physical abilities, and he uses the size of his equipment to make himself look far bigger than he actually is. Unfortunately, he isn't a technical genius like Terabyte, and so his equipment comes apart fairly easily if put under enough stress.
  • Infearno: Infearno is the newest villain, and spent most of his money on the hover-board and the flame-throwers. Infearno actually has a fear of water, and since his equipment is poorly constructed, being splashed with water all means his stuff will short out.
  • Spyclops: Spyclops' power is actually connected to his robot spiders, as he has connected himself up to the hive-mind system they use.
  • Invizable: His main skill is running away to a point where he can enable his stealth technology, since his invisibility takes a bit to activate, and whenever he enables invisibility he becomes extremely susceptible to damage.
  • Drillex: Drillex is hinted (within this game's story) to be Tremor's twin brother. While their appearance might be different and their original career might also have gone down different paths, they both share similar traits. Drillex doesn't look behind him, and he doesn't care to support any of the tunnels he makes because he believes he can dig himself out of any situation.
  • Toxikita: Again, she's a biologist and an environmentalist, not an engineer. The main problem is that she has such little faith in technology, she attempts to create toxins and other biological tools to destroy technology, but then uses technology to distribute her toxins. She's also not completely immune to the toxins she creates, even though she has visible skin defects from the various surgeries she performs on herself to give her as much immunity as possible. Hence, in Act 2, she has to create a special dome she can hide in.
  • Adam Acid/Retox: Adam Acid acts as Toxikita's Clyde during Act 1, but he really dislikes the cold. Retox is actually an undercover agent during Act 2.
  • Terabyte: Terabyte might be a technical genius, but he tends to push his equipment too far when the situation gets dire, since he doesn't want to back down.
  • AntiMatter: AntiMatter is incredibly powerful and requires a brand new, specific use piece of equipment. He is the one Villain who has only one solution to taking them down, which hints at the amount of power he has unlike the other villains.

Many of these hints can be found by talking with NPCs or by exploring the world, as explained in the Goals/Objectives section. -explain multiple solutions further-

McJobless

I was going through, organising my room for college, and I found a lot of LEGO stuff that wasn't in my LEGO bag, so I decided to collect it all and take some pictures.

Because of that, I think it's time we shared our LEGO collections for the fun of it, and so we all know who has what. Because I expect a lot of images and text, let's keep these to blog posts.

I'll first post pictures of my actual LEGO stuff as it stands, and then post some screenies of what my entire set-listing should be.

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I had a LEGO-themed 18/19/20-th birthday (can't remember which), and so I've kept a lot of the (clean/unused) pieces including the popcorn boxes, cups, plates, cake decorations and (unpictured) wristbands.

I have a LEGO Sorting Head and one of the lids from the big boxes of standard LEGO bricks. There's a bunch of Subject Book stickers from a LEGO magazine.

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I've lost everything except some of the parts and the board for the classic LEGO Board game, "Race to Build It". I bought that LEGO Movie sticker/activity book for the minifigure, and I got that Crazy Action Contraptions book as a present one year. Thankfully, it still has all its parts inside.

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Since I got both the Collector's Edition and the Special Edition of The LEGO Movie blu-ray, I kept the Collector's Edition but took all the goodies from the special edition (sticker book, vinyl cover) and added them to my Collector's Edition box, then gave the discs away to my college for the animation department.

My Darth Vader alarm clock is weirdly enough something I use every day, and I've had that thing for 2+ years now. I have technically opened up the LEGO Club magazine package, but since it's the last one I ever got (somehow I received it while not even subscribed to them since I quit my subscription when they went to paid a while ago)I want to keep it in "decent" quality.

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Not pictured is my blue LEGO Racers 2 disc I got from another 3 Pack (blue discs and all racing-games this time instead of Yellow and all LEGO games). I'm missing the case of the original Bionicle movie. The Creator and Alpha Team discs are f****ed to hell, to the point that light shines through them. That 10-pack of LEGO games is mostly in Italian, and LEGO Island is German (kindly provided by one of the members here at RRU).

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All the minifigures (including the Limited Edition Vitruvius from the movie Collector's Edition box) are now part of my bricks collection, but I can confirm that I still have them in good quality. The Ultimate LEGO Book I bought upon reminiscing reading another copy from my local library, but the pages are falling out of the spine.

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Lots of banners here.

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I bought the Bad Cop flashlight, and I got the President Business one for my birthday. I haven't deconstructed the Sea Cow yet (thousands of parts takes a lot of time), but the box contains every single other set I had in my room which I've deconstructed in the past 72 hours, as well as bags of sorted parts from my previous attempts to organise my collection.

You can also see an official RRU sticker! Thanks Cyrem! You might also see a (mostly destroyed) green LEGO Club sticker. I used to own a giant sticker board with lots of Bionicle and LEGO City stickers, but I threw it out when I found it taking up too much space in my room.

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You're looking at well over 10,000 parts sorted by colour in individual bags, locked in a draw until I can count them all and purchase replacements for the missing or broken ones.

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Blacks and Light Greys. You can see my Spybot, which no longer works due to rusted battery springs and (probably) damaged internals. At least all the peg holes are in working order and the battery cover is still there. I even have the remote and the serial cable (in another bag).

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The brown box contains minfigure torsos and legs that need to be shuffled around to their correct order, as well as heads that are too faded for use and other LEGO parts that need sorting. The blue box contains broken parts which I use for animation purposes.

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The pen is still in my bag somewhere. I swear I'm missing a white 1x1 plate, but I won't know for sure until I finish up counting all the bricks.

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I guess I must have lost or traded in my LEGO Stars II PS2 disc, but I still have the guidebook (which I bought as a talking point for my cousin and I) and the PSP version my friend gave me.

The batman mask was from EB Expo, and does contain an image of Batman's mask on the opposite side.

Now that we've seen the images, let me show you my set list:

Rebrickable - McJobless Sets

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In total, that's (an estimated, there may still be old sets I haven't figured out based on what parts I have) 113 sets, with around 30,000 parts.

Unfortunately, I've lost some stuff as well, including:

  • LEGO Club Australia Wristband (a red rubber wristband with studs on it, given out with one of the magazines)
  • One LEGO magazine from the 90s, and then every LEGO Club Australia magazine from 2001 - 2010 (thrown out, destroyed and generally mistreated)
  • LEGO Bioncle Alarm Clock
  • LEGO Toa Tahu Nuva Wristwatch
  • LEGO Island Xtreme Stunts, LEGO Rock Raiders discs (Yellow, part of a 3-disc multi pack)
  • LEGO Star Wars, LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy PS2 discs
  • Every piece except for a hand (x303c01, black) and a limb (x313c01, black) from the Galidor Gorm set (8311-1)
  • Pretty much almost all of the boxes and over half of the instruction manuals to the sets

McJobless

I'm hoping there will be only 2 parts to this: This one, and then the install where everything works great. Let's not think too hard about the future, though.

Here's what I got:

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Total price with handling and postage is about $2800. That's a lot better than what I was originally thinking.

I wanted Windows 8.1 Pro and an EVA GTX 980, but both were out of stock. I also decided that the 4790 was much better value than the 4790K, and the only other ones available were the 5th Gen 8 Core i7s, which were $1000 too much.

I'm a little concerned about the PSU and cooling, but we'll see how everything works out when we get to that part. I might need to buy a heatsink for the CPU.

What are you thoughts, guys? Personally, I'm extremely excited. This is my first hardcore gaming machine ever. I've never had a device capable of running new games at 60FPS. It's about time I caught up with the crowd.

McJobless

The "Gift" of Public Speaking

I'm not here to break apart whether "gifts" really are, or if they're a state of mind. What I'm here to do is provide some kind of assistance to those who are put off by public speaking. Here's a quick list of top tips from an actual PR representative and hobbyist-lecturer.

  • Always go first for presentations and speeches. I know that sounds terrifying and silly, but trust me. The longer you leave it, the more tension that rises. This will lead to more mistakes, and even if you have really good points, you'll be let down by inner-torment. Moreover, the longer you wait, especially in the case with the markers, the less concentration your audience will have. The markers will award less marks as they will be bored, and the students "listening" to your speech won't care. That might sound good, but it means there's no point for you to speak. They might even hold it to you if you make them stay there for a really long time.
  • Your voice is a weapon. Be loud. Be confident. Speak at a nice easy pace. Interestingly, almost all people who go to a speech speaking at twice the speed of their practice runs. If you really must, you can try centre yourself, as if you're in a small room with just yourself. Most important job of your voice isn't just to communicate information, but also to make people excited. You need to break the ice, and combat awkwardness. By not being one of those boring people, and by using inflections, exaggerations and other vocal tools, you can make people really care what you have to say.
  • Throw in a dash of comedy if you can pull it off, but don't if you can't. Comedy has very little do with the strength of your jokes. It's all about the atmosphere and your timing. If you can't nail the timing, and if you aren't lively enough to melt the awkwardness in the room, your jokes will become cringe-worthy. That said, having good jokes will absolutely increase audience retention, and should make your markers feel a little more inclined towards your presentation. If you do put in jokes, make sure to only give a very brief laugh (don't go on and on forever, because it soon becomes painful to watch), and don't overload your speech with jokes. There needs to be serious content in there somewhere.
  • Don't overly prepare and memorise your speech. What you'll end up doing is, in the event that your miss a line, end up panicking and screw yourself over. To reiterate, don't memorise your speech. Instead, memorise the content, and know it well enough that your could speak about it in your sleep. Therefore, if something goes wrong, you should still be able to discuss the content without having to scramble to figure out what line you missed.
  • Don't hide on stage, and stay still. Be relaxed. Your body language is as important as your speech itself. Just calm down, stand in the centre of the stage and keep your legs still. Don't slouch too much, just give just a bit of lean to show people you're comfortable, and they should be too. Use your hands as tools of expression, to show what you're speaking about. Also, remember your facial experiences, and use them to your advantage. Don't be sitting or stand behind a podium, unless you're sufficiently taller than it.
  • The less you rely on palm cards, the more your audience will care. I don't use them at all. Your audience didn't come for you to read to them dry content. Furthermore, if you're looking at the palm cards, your voice won't be directed at the audience and so people up the back won't hear you.
  • Don't put ANY words on your Powerpoint presentations, except for presenter notes. I rely on presenter notes to keep me up to speed with what I'm talking about, but all my slides are just visual stimuli that relate to what I'm speaking about. If the audience sees anything to read, they won't listen to what you have to say. Force them to listen to you.

Oh, and that thing about imagining the audience in different clothes/naked? Total crock of s***.

McJobless

Moving Along.

From this point forward, I will be moving a lot of my better-quality blog entries to my very own personal blogger which I have full control over. I made this decision based on a couple factors, such as the need for more exposure, but all to prevent any flooding on this site in the event I have any outlandish opinions.

I will still notify you guys when there's new writing from me up, but be prepared for a lot of my stuff from the past year to be moved. It is likely everything from 2013 and backward will stay in this blog on RRU, and anything specific to RRU, LEGO or gaming news will still be posted here or in RRU Gaming.

Thanks. I have already made one new blog entry which is up only on the blogger site. As well as the link above, the proper URL is http://mcjobless.blogspot.com.au/.

McJobless

Let's just get down to this in dot-point form. I'm barely in the mood for writing, but I want to get my thoughts out now.

  • Depression Quest showcases the entirely wrong way to make a game that is supposed to bring awareness to a significant health issue. Depression is very serious, and it's important people seek treatment options where possible. Normally, just like you would have seen with Coming Out Simulator, the developer makes a nice, small, personal game that is very engaging and relies on the age old "Show, don't tell" principle, so that the audience can come to the conclusion themselves, feel smarter for it, thereby making the message stick. Depression Quest did not do this at all. It is a poorly designed interactive fiction that has attempted to brand itself as a video game, while failing to uphold the tenants of any video game. It is nowhere near engaging, and actually makes me despise the main character and their struggle, as opposed to Coming Out Simulator, where I was VERY moved by the events of the plot.
  • As a common courtesy, do not take advantage of your partner in any relationship for your own game. The fact she cheated on her boyfriend (I'm sure he might not be completely innocent, but nonetheless) with at least 5 other guys is absolutely ridiculous, and it doesn't matter who you are, whether you're some random on the street or a world famous actor. The idea of being in a relationship is that you can trust your partner, and breaking that is a serious breach of any ethical code.
  • If you engage in any form of social media, don't be a f****ing dickhead and use death/rape/other serious threats, personal insults, pull personal information or so on against a target or their family/friends. You have the right to voice your opinion, but you should not (and probably don't) have the right to be an absolute prick to anybody about it. You may not understand this, but there is a person behind that monitor who will read those messages, and just like if you received the same level of hatred, they will suffer from it.
  • If you are a journalist and you know you have any form of bias towards something you are prepared to discuss, unless you're in some form of debate or you make it clear that you have that bias (and maybe let people know where the bias stems from, such as playing a game franchise since childhood or being friends with the developer), you should make it a must to remove yourself from reviewing or discussing the content. We right now are plagued with journalists who have significant biases, are not telling people, and allow those biases to shape the content that is published. It is a breach of free speech, and it is disrespectful to your audience. Furthermore, the developers who rely on the reviews as a means to get feedback on how to improve their games will suffer if you give them straight As, as they will never grow or learn and will continue to make mistakes.
  • If you do not play games, do not study games, or have only the most bare-bones relationship with games, you can only provide a very narrow scope of opinions about games. Until you are involved in any part of the industry (from player to developer), understand that your agendas may not be valid due to misinformation, and that you honestly should be discussing and focusing on issues that are closer to your personal interests, be that music, movies, politics, war etc.
  • Men and Women think about fundamentally different things in different ways. The games industry has been a male-centric industry for its entire lifespan thus far, but we are now reaching a point where more women are entering and bringing new opinions. We absolutely need to have a fair discussion about these issues, but we must remember to be respectful of each other, and know that there thousands of developers out there, making thousands of games, so that there will always be a game to fill every certain niche. We don't need every game to do the same thing, and that's okay. It's okay to have games for entertainment and games for education. It's okay to have AAA titles and indie titles. Let's be mindful that we are a community of many different ideals and interests.
  • The use of parody, deconstruction, humour and sarcasm is generally to allow for discussion of serious issues. It's a way of brushing out the harshness, and allowing for people to look at the issue in a much less negative light, and hopefully reach a more peaceful communication line. We all need to understand that life is not about being safe and ignoring the "dangerous" topics, because if we do not, life will become a more dangerous place. The issues presented by this entire scandal have to be discussed. We need to reach conclusions that will hopefully better the industry. It has pointed out flaws, and it is time to take a serious look at these flaws and reach a means of solving them. Aside from a few egos, nobody has anything to lose from this communication.
  • There has been a blatant stream of miscommunication and wrong facts in almost all areas of this entire situation. Everything from the people involved in the sex scandal to the semi-related Phil Fish/Polytron dox. It is massively confusing for the majority of people (myself included) who don't religiously follow the entire Internet during this time of "crisis" to see a line of "facts" with fictional evidence and no real supporting claims, and this creates a lot of fallacies during the ensuing arguments. If you are going to have a major opinion in this, please do your research.

I'm sure I had more, but I'm going to stick with this for now.

I've bounced between "sides" during the past 7 days, but right now I'm going to stay neutral, because in the end it doesn't really affect me as much as I thought. I'm going to make the games I want and I know will actually both engage and teach players, monitor and plan out my social communications, and I'm going to keep my professional relationships separate from my private relationships. Those are really the key lessons to take away from this.

Be mindful of your actions, be respectful, but also don't ask to sweep the issues under the rug. It is clear that, in the aftermath, problems inherit within gaming media and the player community have become apparent, and we need to work together to solve these issues.

McJobless

Birthday Presents

Let's cut to the chase. This year I got an awesome haul:

  • The Sea Cow (LEGO Set). It took me 9 hours to finish it.
  • The LEGO Movie (Everything is Awesome Edition + Special Edition). Two different people bought me different editions, which means I get all the neat content :D
  • LEGO Sort & Store
  • President Business LED Light (Similar to my Bad Cop one)
  • DK LEGO Minifigure Year By Year: A Visual History (Book)
  • Klutz LEGO Crazy Action Contraptions
  • The LEGO Movie Master Builder's Attack Sticker Activity Book
  • DK The LEGO Movie Ultimate Sticker Collection
  • M&Ms Jumbo Share (not) Pack
  • A couple LEGO posters
  • The Tarot - A Myth of Male Initiation
  • $40

Thanks for all the birthday wishes guys! This year was great.

McJobless

http://www.gamespot.com/articles/ea-golden-age-for-gaming-upon-us-industry-needs-to-embrace-change/1100-6420874/

If I may, for a second;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6DAxC6wp70

I'm not even going to grace this with a description. Let's just get to ripping apart the quotes.

"I think we're going into almost a golden age of gaming, where it doesn't matter where you are, at any time, any place, any price point, any amount of time, there's a game available to you,"

Yeah, so long as you have the equivalent of a $1000 US to buy that shiny new PS4 in Brazil. What if you live in Afghanistan or Antarctica. Could I play games there too?

"And our job as a company is to provide those game experiences. And then on our big franchises, tie them all together."

As a company, you've successfully failed over the previous decade or so to provide any of those experiences without hindering the player in some way. Your practices net you the Worst Company in America crown. What do you say to that?

And what's this about tying franchises together? Am I going to kick around a soccer ball with my Normandy team against Faith and the guys from Battlefield Bad Company 2?

Tying games together is likely in reference to EA's well-stated "games-as-a-service" model, where the publisher hopes to provide unified experiences across franchises like Battlefield and FIFA through tie-in games and the like.

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"I think the challenge sometimes is that the growth of gaming... there's a core that doesn't quite feel comfortable with that, I don't get frustrated, but I scratch my head at times and say, 'Look. These are different times.' And different times usually evoke different business models. Different consumers come in. They've got different expectations. And we can either ignore them or embrace them, and at EA, we've chosen to embrace them."

By ignoring your long-standing relationships with your previous clients. Great to see you in charge as COO.

Gaming as a business is not like other industries. Microtransactions only serve to hurt developers and gamers. Even if they didn't, could you honestly say that the way EA has done it so far hasn't hurt people?

And let's look at a different yet specific example. This is from a post on the steam community:

"A simpoint is worth 10 cents. So everything on the Sims 3 store costs approximately $74,486.50. As for DLC/the game itself, the total is $439.81. So grand total, you're looking at $74,926.31 to own everything the Sims 3 has to offer."

Telling.

"There is a core--controversial statement coming from me, sadly--that just doesn't like that, because it's different, it's disruptive. It's not the way it used to be. I used to put my disc in the tray or my cartridge in the top, and I'd sit there and play. And all of these young people coming in, or God forbid, these old people coming into gaming!"

You ever think that maybe that's what these new people want too? To just sit down and play the feckin' game? I don't think anybody new to gaming would stick around for long if they new they had to keep forking out of their wallets to continue progressing.

"I think the core audience that dislikes the fact that there are play-for-free games and microtransactions built into those... fine, I get that, I don't think anybody has to like it. I think that's where it goes. It's like me; I get grumpy about some things, but if the river of progress is flowing and I'm trying to paddle my canoe in the opposite direction, then eventually I'm just going to lose out. From the perspective of what needs to happen in this industry, we need to embrace the fact that billions of people are playing games now."

We need to embrace the fact that billions of people are playing games that are not yours. There are successful F2P games, but the formula is extremely difficult to get right, and turning almost all of your games into this horrible scam can only serve to destroy the integrity of the original design plans the developers wish to turn into reality.

You will lose out because you're a businessman, not a gamer, and you fail the grasp why gamers enjoy what they enjoy. We're happy to fork out $60 on release for a new title. Hell, I put down $220 for a Halo: Reach preorder once. But once that game is in our hands, that's where the transaction should end. We go off to play, you go off to fix the game (since apparently all AAA games are now released as Alpha/Beta versions and then just patched as they go) and then make a new one.

"We just have to embrace it, we as an industry have to embrace change. We can't be music. We cannot be music. Because music said, 'Screw you. You're going to buy a CD for $16.99, and we're going to put 14 songs on there, two of which you care about, but you're going to buy our CD.' Then Shawn Fanning writes a line of code or two, Napster happens, and the consumers take control."

You might be so familiar with games as music then, because you own some extremely boring franchises. How come games like Fez, the original Halo, Deus Ex and the majority of Nintendo's title are always being replayed when they don't offer any extension content? Maybe it's because they realised how important it was to get the core gameplay experience correct before gipping the consumer?

"You have to embrace social media as a plus rather than a negative, everybody has a megaphone now. Everybody has an opinion, and you learn to filter the rant from the constructive feedback."

You might want to fix your filter then.
McJobless

A Complete Mess.

  • Human life is obsessed with patterns
  • We strive to learn patterns so we never have to relearn them again
  • Games are about patterns
  • Good games teach how to solve patterns, not just give answers to patterns
  • Games therefore are teaching devices [can be described as art]
  • Games therefore should be about things important to humanity
  • We need to get over conflict, fighting etc, as it costs us resources including lives, money, food, etc
  • Therefore, shooters are a waste
  • Humans unfortunately still enjoy cheap thrills (WHY?)
  • Furthermore, people enjoy nostalgia (HOW?)
  • Many other art forms have high quality art [like Game of Thrones] and low quality art [like South Park]
  • Movies started off for years as minor experiments and sketches
  • How come people still haven't recognised the trends between movies and games?
  • Games need to be personal
  • Personal self is quite chaotic atm
  • 7 billion people in the world
  • 1/7,000,000,000 chance of having an original idea and implementing it before somebody else does
  • Most games now are just clones of other games with little variation
  • Means that we're on the verge of some massive changes
  • Skill level nowhere near high enough for industry standard
  • Chance of successfully building popular games: 0%
  • Therefore, new goal required
  • Chance of modifying current education system: 0%
  • Chance of mocking people in charge of the current education system to the point change is considered: 0.01%
  • Still sounding ridiculously crazy
  • As crazy as those feminastys?
  • Gotta prove education > just yelling about social justice on Tumblr/Twitter
  • Gotta makes educational games that don't look/feel educational that can become popular to satisfy ego
  • To do that gotta obtain necessary skills
  • Unfortunately, reached "peak efficiency"
  • Brain at point where it's putting minimal effort into everything == not having to do work, therefore meaning it's "successfully" living life
  • Need to disrupt this somehow
  • Mind way too distracted
  • What is beauty?
  • Holy hell, clouds are 3D...I can actually see their dimension...

A short snippet of a train of thought (about 30 seconds - 1 minute) I had about a week ago. Now I'm trying to record these in full so I can turn them into a giant mindmap of all the crazy stuff that goes on in my mind.

McJobless

This is something I've wanted to do for a long while, but I horrible at concentration. I can't really vouch for the validity of the order I finished these games in or bought them in, but that's not really the point. The point is the lessons I've learned because of what I have learned. As such, it's very likely there's going to be a LOT of games I won't list, because of shoddy memory, or because they just weren't important enough.

Also, I had to remove images for most of the cases. Apparently list urls don't like them.


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We don't ever stop developing. That's at least one thing that separates us from animals. We continue to grow right until we grow out of our bodies.

Ignoring the quasi-religious joke, it's been some of recent for me to look back at my "gaming heritage". I find it kind of fascinating to see where I've come from. How far I've come. How much further I've got left to go. I feel it's pretty prevalent to understanding who I am and why I am. Naturally, it also serves as a nostalgia shock for me :D

PlayStation One - The Childish Era

I was born, according to your own definition, in the early to mid Nineties. The exact same year as the PlayStation One, as it turns out. I feel it kind of fitting we were both brought into the world at the same time. I'd like to think we'd both have the same level of impact on gaming in some way or another. That's wishful thinking for my future, though.

Kids love to interact and play. That's how they learn, through experimentation. I couldn't necessarily "play" the games, but I certainly f****ed around with them. I didn't see pixels, polygons, hearts, lives, rules, boundaries or anything like that...as far as I know, even though I couldn't put it into words, I saw this natural extension of myself. This grey box which made loud noises allowed me to do things I could only dream of...

The Initial Games

My first few games were either demos, racing games or Ape Escape, which I'm inclined to believe came with the console. My Dad loved the racing games, as per his enjoyment of motorsport. Specifically, the first few games I remember were:

  • V-Rally - 98 Championship Edition
  • Star Wars: Episode One: The Phantom Menace
  • Destruction Derby
  • Ape Escape
  • Gran Turismo
  • Formula 1 - 98 Edition

Note that of those games, only Ape Escape and V-Rally were full copies. Although I eventually acquired full copies of everything else (except Destruction Derby), I was mostly stuck with demos. I have a feeling that my need for having the "full game" (why I was willing to fork out $220 on a game we'll discuss later) spawned from this.

It's important to note that V-Rally's controls are quite frustrating, and it's no better with most other PS1 games. They're not awful, but at times they can be ridiculously precise, or too restrained and you get characters/cars that move on 35 degree angles. I think that's had a rather negative effect on the way I play today, as I'm always under and over-correcting everything. If I had to blame any game that was most guilty of this, it's V-Rally, which was also one I probably spent the most time on. Thanks, Rally game I never actually won a race in...

Like a Library for cool things...

You guys know Blockbuster? Let's not dwell too hard on what's happened to it, but rather focus on what it was; a video rental store. Kind of like a library for cool things. Well, I dunno if you guys had it, but Australia had a direct competitor called "Video-Ezy", and my Mum got herself a membership there. As it turns out, they allowed rentals for video games.

I could never afford games. I didn't get pocket-money like all the other kids. It was irrelevant anyway, since, up until this point, I didn't know any other games existed (I didn't even know there were other consoles). This place, however, provided me with a new opportunity. I could finally try out some games anytime my Mum wanted to watch a new (old) movie. The end result? I got to try out some of these titles (and later, I purchased some of these games for myself):

  • Rugrats: Search for Reptar
  • Rugrats: Studio Tour
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
  • *insert some generic racing game either made or published by psygnosis here*

Aside from the racing games already in my collection, these games, which I only had a single week to beat, have instilled in me possibly the most poisonous and hated attribute I have today. Speed.

I don't know if I've slowly developed ADD or if I'm just less focused that I should be, but I can't sit straight anymore, and it's most apparent when I play video games. I was doing a playtest for somebody's game, and my teacher noted how, in comparison to other players, I just frequently blitzed through everything until I died, respawned and then attempted to do everything again with the same speed. Even though the game called for a slower, more strategical outlook, I had to rush through. It's a f****ing miracle I can play RPGs at all.

The Most Important Game I Ever Played

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What were you expecting? Pokemon? An RPG? Halo?

I'm sure you've all experienced some kind of story, where something/somoneone is credited as the non-literal father of something/someone else. This is where I came from. This is my progenitor.

This was the first video game I ever remember getting for a birthday. It would have been about 6PM, sitting in the kitchen, right in front of my cake. A 6yo me tore open the wrapping and was utterly amazed. I was pretty interested in bikes at the time, but more importantly, I actually got a video game as a present.

I remember the game being easy, but fun. I spent weeks practicing, and I think it's the first game I remember actually feeling as though I was getting "better" at it. I can still remember those times when I finally nailed the stunt jumps and won my first bike race...good times.

But for me, there's something more important. Up until that point, I had never ever considered *creating* games. I had just seen these amazing worlds, and been so awe-struck, I never imagined how they came into being. That's when I discovered the level creator.

50710-jeremy-mcgrath-supercross-2000-dre

It was limited. Annoying camera. My designs were basic and horrid. But I f****ING LOVED IT. All those years of practice with LEGO finally paid off. I got my first taste of being a creator.

I don't think I recognised it back then, but the seeds for the future had been planted.

McJobless

Seaborgium's Mobile Dilemma.

I'm not going to discuss the recent personal issues between members. Instead, I'm going to discuss a certain post.

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The article is badly written, using mostly second hand quotes and reports.

It's written informally for audiences who don't spend hours a day reading through encyclopedias and aspire to become verbally overwrought. I prefer this style of writing as it makes the article more interesting and personal.

Platforms are changing every few years now, and every time a new one comes out, game developers tend to just dish out the same old first person shooters, just with shinier graphics and on a better platform. The lack of creativity in the gaming industry is dire. It's simply not woth it to spend over fifty dollars to buy a new version of a game you pretty much already own, just with better graphics.

AAA developers/publishers like to play it safe. They are in business to make money, and they don't like spending money without some acknowledgement they will get a successful return. It's security, something natural to the human condition. Flashy visuals are eye candy that marketing drools over, and so do the "fans". The hype-train is what makes people want to spend that $50.

Furthermore, there is no "lack of creativity". What there is happens to be a lack of respect for indie developers and the incredible effort they go through to produce interesting titles.

People will realize this and stop buying platform games.

No, they won't. That's like saying "People will realise McDonalds is making them fat, and they will stop buying it."

Phones provide cheap, easily distributable games and levels the playing field because you don't have to spend millions of dollars for graphics and sound that really don't effect the gameplay if your making a game for a phone.

They also offer limited controls, much less visibility due to the sheer amount of people trying to "cash-in" on the market, and much less credibility as far as "serious games" go.

People nowadays have the attention span of fleas, but are sluggards and do not have the patience that insects possess. We want cheap, easily consumable, OK games. Basically we want the game equivalent of McDonalds.

Getting bored of games =/= Short attention spans. People are viewing very predictable patterns in the games they play, and as such they either require deeper gameplay, or just more frequent bouts of stimuli, which only increases the problem.

Saying "People want OK games" is essentially insulting the intelligence of everybody. I'm offended as a game developer. Please don't make such general, broad and insulting remarks when you're highly incorrect.

Almost all the games are first person shooter of fighting games with no integrated plot that give us a jolt of pleasure by blowing some computer generated goons head to pieces. The level of hand holding for RPGs is dire.

You complained about poor writing skills from the article, and yet you could barely string the first sentence together?

No, there is no majority of FPS games. They're more prominent in AAA titles because they have a marginally wider market-share, but the same people who play FPS games also play many, many other genres as well. The jolt of pleasure comes from success in a challenge, not from seeing the blood spurt out.

Hand-holding is present in all genres. It's about trying to get newer players in the games easier, so they can attract a wider audience and make more money. It's based on a fallacy (that new gamers are idiots who can't learn things for themselves), but there's a twisted logic working there.

Back in the eighties you had rpgs with such integrated plot that you had to keep a notebook to keep track of all the plot threads(having played many games from the eighties I know.) Nowadays no one would make game like that.

Are you trying to impress people? You're assuming we've not played such games either. You're also assuming that every title in the eighties was of high standards. I can assure you, that's not the case.

Back then, there were less resources to work with, so the player was forced to have a vivid imagination to compensate. These days, we've been given massive increases in resources, and as such we've yet to find the perfect way to balance it all.

Since the quality of game play isn't much better than what you get on phones, it wouldn't surprise me if people started only doing phones.

So you're saying:

  • ALL Mobile Games don't feature quality gameplay
  • Desktop/Console Games == Mobile Games
  • People will automatically shift from Desktop/Consoles to Mobile, because they're going to be playing the same games anyway ??

Okay.

I hope this guy is wrong, but unless game developers start innovating, stop talking down to plays, and make engaging games with well designed gameplay, this is probably what will happen.

Talking down to players is bad, because people assume you're a bit of a c*** for talking down to them.

Developers talking to players...not always a good idea. It's good to gain perspective, but players lack the critical understanding that developers have and can frequently suggest things that would only harm the game. They're great with feedback as far as bugs and sometimes features, but you need to have a strong objective focus to be able to listen to them.

You're making a lot of uninformed assumptions based on your own experiences; exactly what a younger me did. Unfortunately, that doesn't fly around here. Try again later.

McJobless

What Bugs Me Most About Mass Effect...

We have technology in the modern day called "Video Cameras". Most of our mobile and desktop technology now comes bundles with some form of "web camera", we have VR sensors like the Kinect and LeapMotion. Many vehicles, including trucks, buses and police cars have cameras installed to record incidents that might occur on the road. Many places in public we visit also use Video Cameras to record for security purposes. Most importantly, a significant number of people doing incredible physical activities, from snowboarders to surfers to Police/SWAT officers to Military Personnel all use Video Camera technology (such as the GoPro) to record the things they do from their own perspective.

A hundred and eighty years in the future, why the f**** aren't military personnel on extremely important missions in dangerous territory given any kind of camera to record what happens to them?

We know that other sci-fi games like Halo have this tech. We know that recording hardware exists in Mass Effect, since it's used consistently throughout the series. We know that a lot of the headwear Shepard and Co use can be fitted with all kinds of crazy and awesome tools.

If Shepard had just recorded his incident with the Prothean Beacon and his conversation with Sovereign, the council (even "Reapers" Turian) would have HAD to agree about the existence of Reapers, and as such the galaxy could have probably prepared a lot earlier.

Now, granted, it probably wouldn't have done *that* much in the long run, but at least we'd be all feeling a little less annoyed by the Council.

McJobless

Fourth-ward March.

I totally didn't even plan that pun 4 years ago.

So. 27/03/2014. Heh. Never really thought I'd make it this far without dying by train, being sent to a loony bin or wasting away on alcohol. And while those things have all been pretty close to happening, here I still am.

The Austrexican Lives. The Pants Enforcers reigns supreme.

4 years ago, I found a little email in my old High School email account. Supposedly, I had seen RRU at some stage, and signed up for a newsletter...without registering. The logic is mind-bending. Regardless, a much younger, and grammatically-incorrect, smilie-hating me made some kind of odd judgement call.

I want to join this website.

Maybe it was the tools. Maybe it was the chance for a community. Maybe I was bored and drinking lots of coke. We'll never really know. What we do know is that stupid me posted all my personal information and a link to a broken free forum for a mod project that was never feasible in the first place, and yet probably is the reason I'm in Game Design right now. Talk about lunacy.

I'm not exactly sure why I decided to stay for longer than it took to write the introduction. Most of the time, I join a website to download the cool stuff I need, and then run like a panicked maniac. Yet, somehow, the illustrious charm of RRU shined through. The awesome members, the active modding community (in the Renaissance period of LegoRR modding), the chance to get one of the useless things I say quoted...I didn't know Heaven could be coded in HTML.

I don't think I have enough time, coke or words to describe the vast history that's happened, or the magnitude of the effects RRU has had on me. Frankly, the way I see it, if I hadn't of click that link in 2010, life would be a right PoS.

I'm not exactly sure what to do to say thank you. If I'm honestly, I've been pretty lazy about preparing for this entire thing. Lazy being one of my main attributes, as I'm sure every member who ever heard of 7EPS knows about.

I guess I might as well do two things.

The first is "The Package". It's kind of a nice collection of RRU tributes. All the images I've collected from our Skype chats, alongside all of the RRU-related audio, and some other stuff I located. It's not really the super amazing present I'm sure some of you would be interested in, but hey, at least it's not a screenshot of a poorly constructed LDD model...

I've also dumped in a few images from my travels in Australia. Again, nothing fantastic, but hopefully you'll get a bit of a chuckle from something.

DOWNLOAD

Secondly...I guess a few kind words are in order for some of the older members. No disrespect intended to the newer members (even those who I regularly have a go at), but it's hard for me to say much when our entire conversations were "DO NOT BUMP THIS 50 YEAR OLD THREAD HOW COULD YOU THREAD BUMPING KILLS KITTENS DO YOU LOVE KITTENS YOU ARE A KITTEN MURDERER HOW COULD YOU?!?!?!?!?!1111?"

Without further ado, and in the order of greatest hair;

  • Sideburnsy. Let's get the record straight. If your glorious chops were any larger, I could probably climb them like Jack and the Beanstalk. Seriously though, I don't know if any other single member has really inspired me as much as you have. You're like Einstein without the accent. Whether or not Time Raiders will ever reach the door is irrelevant. You're an incredible dude, so keep at it. Thanks for not sending this account to the deepest pits of hell!
  • Addict. I don't know if you're reading this, but with the insane programming quirks you've developed, I'm pretty sure you've built some kind of surveillance system capable of detecting terribly constructed praise. I don't doubt for a second you've got a legendary status ahead of you. You have a dream, a passion, skills with programming languages I can't even imagine in dreams of having, and the rampant insanity to knock the other freeloaders in line. Whatever happens with your projects, I look forward to seeing what you create. It's going to be crazy.
  • Antilles. If anybody can put up with me delaying watching their favourite show for a good long while, that deserves a badge of honour. More importantly, somebody who can bring a smile to a really pissed of Australian probably deserves a cold, frosty beer on the house. I swear, if you keep up the logical and sound reasoning you always have, I'm probably going to start imagining you as my conscious. Then again, considering you are the smart one, that's probably not a bad thing. As with the above two, you've got a huge amount of talent. You know what to do. Finish the fight.
  • McStudz. Where would I be without the Can-I-be-LZ-adian warrior? That said, I think we all know you're the one who's doing his best to try and get the News Team to be doing their job...reporting stories about Twitch Plays Pokemon. But, who am I kidding? A cheery attitude, a positive thinker, apparently a very talented musician and a good friend. These forums wouldn't be the same without our resident Maple Syrup Aficionado. I can't really say just how big you're going to be, mainly since I haven't seen your dongle. But, seriously, you've got a f****ing future ahead of you. Just be ready for whatever comes your way. Now, let's just promise not to slice each others necks next time a forum war lashes out, right?
  • Alcom the Acorn Baker. I'm not sure what's more hilarious, your constant deadpan snarkiness or the image of your pants-on-head-wearing-Minifigure roasting over a chestnut fire. Of course, I'm kidding. You remind me of one of the Master Builders. I can't say which one, since you seem to be better than all of them combined. Normally I get jealous of skilled LEGO builders easy, but with you I think I might just be a fan. You've got an incredible talent, and I know you're also trying your damned hardest to be an awesome Game Designer/Programmer/someone in computers in case my memory is mistaking you for another LEGO nut. I can tell you, you're going to achieve everything you want to achieve. Just don't ever let go of that snark; it's sometimes the only thing that cheers me up on a s***ty day.
  • Drill Master. I'm not really sure one can master drilling, but you've proven you can master just about everything else. So long as that doesn't include driving, choosing between lyrics and not lyrics, and figuring out if I know what a pound key is. If I were a Forerunner, I'd sure as hell be praising you right now. I know things might not be looking so grand, but with a little bit of optimism, you'll reach far. Just remember to keep creating. It doesn't matter what, just so long as it's awesome, which I know you can do. And please, if you get the Forward Until Dawn set, don't brag about it. I will actually hunt you down and kill you. Maybe.
  • (Cell) Shading. Once upon a time far, far ago, two mortal enemies duked it out constantly in the Shoutbox. Who could ever imagine them becoming good friends? I surely can't, WHO THE f**** SAYS HALO IS SH...I mean, coming all the way from my first RRU enemy to my trusted sauce of what's good or not in Sony/gaming in general, I don't think I could be happier with the result. You got an amazing charm, and we share pretty similar opinions about the leagues of stupidity on the Internet...aka, Tumblr. Don't ever let the assholes get to you. You're a damn inspiration, and I have many thanks to give you for the f****ing incredible 4 years. Let's go raid Micro$hit sometime.
  • Pascal. I think we both know exactly what's up. Loud beats, enough weed to cover a forest floor and a bunch of girls who need a right slapping. There's really not much I can say to you without coming off as a kind of insane, obsessed lunatic. I'll spare you the details and keep it short and sweet; you've got the passion and the talent to make crazy and awesome games. I'm pretty sure you've also been hiding from me some DJ talent. Don't ever give up. You're going to run The Pascalands soon enough.
  • Tauka. I still remember the early days, and you decided to charge head-first into the fray. So long ago. We've spoken so little since, which is a real shame, since you're a f****ing nice guy. I'm pretty sure you've done some awesome drawing work, so keep it up. You've got a great talent.
  • Kir(k)by. If I knew programmers could come with the fantastic British wit and accent that you do, I probably would have signed up ages ago. I'm not really sure why we got lucky enough to draw you into this muddled mess of insanity and sloppy hardcode, but frankly, I'm pretty glad you're in with the rest of us. You're an awesome, level headed coded with industry experience and somebody who I respect far more than the things they work on. You've got a crazy awesome future ahead of you, so long as you don't get nailed by Nintendo QA first. I'm excited to see where you're going to go from here.
  • Xiron, Le717, Fush, pranciblad, jimbob, prototyke, gryhpon. Unfortunately, I can't really say we've had enough interacts for me to give you a personalised message that makes no sense, and I know a fair few of us have had..."creative" differences in the past, but needless to say, you've all grown on me in some way. And thankfully, I don't mean like genital warts. You're all pillars of the community, as far as I'm concerned. Don't ever stop being as awesome as you have, especially in the face of assholes like me. You keep this community together. And insult the living s*** out of Tumblr, which I like.
  • Doc. Hi.
  • Joe. If you're reading this, GET BACK TO WORK. WE HAVE AN ISLAND TO CONQUER.

There's people I've probably missed, and members who will likely never return again, so to anyone who is missing a message, just imagine a generic thank you being shouted by an army of killer robots shooting fireworks. That'll be exciting enough.

Now, there's two members I did miss. Not to pick out favourites or go insane fanboy or anything, but for whatever reason, my brain's decided these guys deserve a few more crappy jokes than the rest.

  • Jamesster. Jimmy Jams. Customer Sir Mounted. I'm not sure if you're actually a LEGO manager who happens to be so disillusioned by the new LEGO games but can't get access to the old products and their code, and so goes undercover as just a regularly-incredible fan in some kind of weird bid to try and save LEGO Media from itself. If someone were to tell me years ago I'd be even able to talk to the Lord of LEGO Fans, I would have punched them in the face to make them sure they're probably dreaming. I still remember seeing your obsession with everything LEGO start to spread through the forums, and going, "I'll never get respect from that guy. How the hell is he even on RRU? We're just some pokey old game website..." I'm pretty sure you're probably waiting for the day you can finish me off, steal my game design books and run into GDC screaming "I am now the Confucius of Game Design! Fear me and my bricky ways!" Nonetheless, you've been one of the most interesting people to talk to, and to watch you develop your game ideas has been nothing short of inspiring. I don't want to start any wars or say anybody is better than anybody else, but as far as you are concerned, I can already see this brilliant designer with the awesome ideas right in front of him. Just keep calm, get the spicy pizzaz, and do what you were born to do. Make me look like one of those LU fangame kiddes.
  • Cyrem. Lord Mercy. Darth Vader. Every name under the sun. Being a part of this...*vibrant* community probably wouldn't have been possible if I didn't have another fellow Australian to share some sweet tunes with. I don't even know what words can describe what you've done for me. It's not just music, it's not just member ranks, and it's not just the things we've discussed. This whole experience has been more-or-less your doing. In a way, you're like a crazy being in the sky. You've created this little world inside the middle of world's greatest battlefield, and even with all the nukes we've dropped on ourselves, you managed to keep this ship (or building) running as long as possible. There's no denying Cirevam's incredible ability to be an awesome admin, and you've moved on to some FANTASTIC things which I look forward to seeing more of in the future, but nonetheless. I think legend would be quite insulting to you. You're way above that. Thank you for everything, sir.

I remember sometime ago being called a "Kangaroo-loving Douche-bag". Well, I can tell you that now I'm a kangaroo-loving douche-bag...with purple hair.

Keep up the awesome times, RRU. Let's hope for another awesome 5 years.

McJobless

This is a entry in my "Quick-Write" series. Basically, just some minor thoughts quickly thrown into a blog entry as a kind of progress update on how I'm doing.


Anyone familiar to Creative Theory on RRU or the Skype chats would know that Jamesster's been doing a lot of LoZ stuff recently. He found that brilliant essay, and recently he's been playing the first game for numerous reasons. As I'm sure anybody from RRU knows, once one popular member does something, it quickly becomes infectious and everyone does the same thing, and I got swept into finally playing LoZ for the first time.

Originally I was saving it for some kind of video series called "McJobless does X for the first time", but I doubt that'll ever come into fruition, so I decided that, with my newly founded game observation tools, I'd crack open LoZ and see what kind of good old school gaming is.

Why wasn't I born in the 70s?

I grew up as a Playstation fanatic, in an era where 3D was finally mass-market, and it looked like 2D games would fade out. Thankfully due to indie developers and mobile gaming, that hasn't occurred, but a much younger, s***tier me would of wished it had. The reason, you ask? A much younger me didn't know about mechanics. Didn't understand what made the game a game. Didn't get that, behind the façade of polygons and music, there's a beating heart which many, MANY 3D games simply lack in their desperate attempt to try cash-in on gamers looking for "next-gen graphics" and what else lies in the "concept" of a game.

The Legend of Zelda came from a simpler time. Maybe not literally, considering how difficult it still was at the time to make individual bits move on the screen, but overall lacking the high complexities of today's insane market. It was a time when games weren't produced to be interactive movie, but instead to actually bring you into that adventure, and make you feel like the hero. Gamers of that day and era could look past the relatively simple graphics, and see a whole world for them to conquer and save.

I'm going to stop with the sugar-coating at this point, and get to the real meat of this discussion. My experience in the first 30 minutes of gameplay. And, because this is a quick-write, and not a full entry, I'm going to do it dot-point style, which makes it a little easier on all of us.

  • The game's opening midi sequence was epic, despite its subtle midi soundtrack. The story and objective were clear from the start, and you even got a great look at all the tools and items to find on your quest.
  • Beginning the game, there was no cutscenes to faff about with, no boundaries, no forced tutorials. You were given a world to explore. If you didn't pay attention to the opening, that's your fault. That made the world immediately feel free.
  • Loading each new area (which I shall now call "Rooms", based on how LucasArts used to name their sections of point-and-click adventure games) was a very simple, beautiful scroll from the previous room to the next. There was no giant loading screen, and no need for complex dynamic loading systems. It was all very simplistic and yet fancy.
  • The game was clever enough to record which enemies you killed, and which you didn't, meaning when you exit and return to a room, it doesn't respawn enemies you've already dealt with. This made the world feel real. I wasn't fighting against an infinite amount of AI controlled by game designer scripts; each enemy was planned, and while their spawn location was randomised, I felt like I was having an effect on the world.
  • When you start the game, you had to retrieve the sword from a cave. This was clever, because, without railroading the player, it gave them a subtle lesson that caves contain secrets and important quest-related-items/knowledge. Furthermore, although things may change in the road ahead (according to Jamesster), I never found myself confuse on any of the items in my possession. It sometimes took a little time to finally realise a concept, but then I felt clever for working it out. I wasn't having a billion information popups shoved in my face, telling me about an obvious concept.
  • The sword has a special ability; you throw it when you have full health. This was very clever, and really made me have to think carefully about positioning, since I never wanted to lose that special ability. When I did lose health, I had to think even more carefully about how I would retrieve the health to gain that special ability; either go into melee combat to get a heart/fairy and risk enemies charging me down, or try and find one of the hidden fairy ponds.
  • On that, after gaining another heart (increasing maximum health), when you die and spawn again or use a fairy on low health, you only start with 3 hearts. This didn't feel like punishment, but rather extra challenge; now, if I wanted to use my special sword ability, I would have to work harder to obtain it. This meant that the game was giving me a trade-off; by gaining "experience", it would be harder for me to obtain and use my abilities.
  • When you die, the game doesn't reset you to a checkpoint like you're some baby having a tantrum. It allows you to keep everything you earned, but places you back at the start of the overworld/dungeon. This is okay, because I never felt frustrated or angry. I always felt as though, if I did slightly better, I would completely own this entire level. This death punishes you by removing your progress (as far as enemies are concerned), but that punishment really isn't too harsh in the long run.
  • After you acquire them, arrows are infinite in supply. However, you must pay one rupee for every arrow you use. Suddenly, there was a new challenge; arrows are extremely powerful and kill those b****** water things instantly, but they cost the money I need to upgrade Link. This trade-off made me very careful about how I used my extra tools.
  • Dungeons really changed up gameplay, with their slightly different layout, and the fact that, unlike the overworld (which required you to make your own map if you want to memorise where everything is), looking carefully through each dungeon will find you the map, compass and/or hint. Suddenly, I felt more compelled to explore these areas and find everything I could, especially after the first dungeon gave me the bow, heart upgrade, boomerang, more bombs AND a piece of the Triforce.
  • Bombs were interesting, because the game made me compelled to use them. You could find secret entrances blowing walls up with them, and they were pretty devastating against groups of enemies, which is most of the areas in LoZ. Of course, they were limited, so effectively using them was a careful decision process I had to make.
  • The music never got tiring or boring. It's a theme I could carry to my grave. It made me feel like a hero.

I'm sure there's a lot more I'm missing that I haven't written about. For now, I don't want to cover experience loops, skill trees or any of that until I've finished the entire game.

Anyways, thank you based Jamesster for getting me into this. At the same time, curse you, because I doubt I'll be able to put it down.

McJobless

Apparently I Need to Fire Myself

Ohboy. It's Spam Message of the Day time. I removed the link at the end, since I sure as hell don't trust it.


MESSAGE TITLE: Why you should fire your boss

Hey there,

Ezekiel here again.

I want to PROVE to you why my Forex 3-day webinar on 9th, 10th & 11th April 2014 is going to be life-changing.

My goal? You quit your job, if you have one… and work for yourself.

I don’t know why people even put up with having their future and their family’s future determined by someone ELSE.

There are FAR too many hard-working folks who spend years working for bosses who don’t appreciate them. And or what… just to earn low pay that barely covers their bills?

Believe me, there’s a way to live life on YOUR terms. It’s a way to have all the money you need, where you can work when you want, where you want, and enjoy all the free time you want.

You can spend more time with your kids, play golf every day, and really enjoy your life. No more alarm clock, no more bosses, no more stress about being fired.

Does this sound like something you’d like to do?

Well, if so, you need to make sure you keep an eye out for my next email because the webinar page will be live, so you can sign up.

Remember, on 9th, 10th & 11th April 2014, I’m putting all the secrets I’ve learned over the years into a 3-day live webinar.

This information-packed LIVE webinar reveals the secrets to tapping into the Forex market for consistent cash. If you’re looking to earn a lot of money from the comfort of home… my webinar gives you everything you need.

This is the ONE and only time I’ll reveal my ultimate secret, my ultimate money maker. I’ve never revealed this to the 10 people who attended my last webinar.

It’s the “Holy Grail†because it’s the only system you’ll ever find where it’s impossible to lose money.

Follow my lead as I walk you through the process so you can retire from your job as soon as possible.

You can sit back and relax while I walk you through exactly what I do to make 1% to 5% a day by taking cash out of the ‘hidden’ money-source.

You too can make between 1% to 5% a day or MORE... simply by following my own secret “money maker†which I’ve never revealed to anyone before.

Make sure you keep an eye out for my next email… because we’ll be live and you can sign up for this life-changing event on 9th, 10th & 11th April 2014…

Best Wishes,

Ezekiel Chew

Renowned Forex Fund Manager & Coach

[link removed]

P.S. I want to empower YOU to follow in my footsteps to fast retirement and better life… so get access to the “Holy Grail†of making money in the Forex market!

The next email you get from me will let you take that next step to financial security… so keep an eye out for it!


I've always wanted to go golfing with the kids. Preferably using them as the balls.

Thanks Mr Chew!

McJobless

Can We Talk About How Terrible Java Is?

It's a useless pile of s***.

The f****ing thing won't work correctly on my sister's machine, and barely runs correctly on mine. The main problem on my sister's machine is that it keeps deleting the core .exe files. Java.exe, javaw.exe and a few others are constantly deleted anytime you try to run a Java app after installation. Putting copies of these files in the folder doesn't help, since it deletes them too. Completely cleaning my computer of everything Java related; every folder, registry entry, plugin, and looking for any trace of Oracle's bulls*** doesn't help, since on reinstall it does the EXACT. SAME. THING.

It even does it for older installations. This is glorious. It's a monument to stupidity. However, the really piece of cake is this.

Sm6eHwX.png

From Java's support section. $25.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBC1G_4XMZw

I'm done. I'm not formatting the computer just to get Minecraft working for my sister. Thanks, Oracle.

McJobless

Life is an interesting beast.

"And remember, the universe has a wonderful sense of humor. The trick is learning how to take a joke."

~ Orvus, Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time

Life is one of those insane things that happens.

It's like, there for years, and then it's taken away. It's pretty crazy. And the older I get, the more I look on it and think about what life really, truly is. See, I think people have been asking the wrong questions for years. There's no one singular purpose to life, because everybody is individual. We can't all achieve the same end goal. We all have different directions to take, and different things to achieve.

I kind of despise people who live an existence of knowing and not caring. I live in a society where effort is disregarded, and everybody lives in their own little sheltered world filled with routine and sport. For these people, to be "normal" is considered optimal, and to be normal one must live in the work, sleep, eat routine and never break from the conventions that are strangling society. It sucks, because we have such a rich collection of cultures, and yet everything is being smothered under the "Please be like the Leader" attitude.

For those who don't know, I attend a college in Sydney, where I do Games Design. This is an art college, and as such, the variety of people and mindsets is quite high, but more important, people are "themselves". Being "weird" is embraced, and nobody is shunned or humiliated for doing what they please. It's a great little environment hidden within the otherwise depressing natures of the rest of Sydney.

I'm quite a weird person. This is a known quality about me. The reason is that, in my own words, "I don't give a s***." I do what I please, where I please. I'm okay with walking around in public with my Lombax hat and fingerless gloves. I'm okay with being loud and having fun. I'm okay with all of the weird things I do and say, because for me, life is too short, and structure is such a foreign concept to me.

See, what I don't understand about life? Why is the economy structured as it is? Why do we have Governments? Why do the laws work? How come we have these work and school routines? It just seems to me like a very fragile timeline that could collapse at any minute. How did these start? Why are they still in effect, when clearly they're not working as well as they should?

I've decided on my purpose in life. I want to make people happy, and help where I can. To that effect, I've already started. When I walk around the shopping mall, and I see people smiling and laughing and asking me for autographs, I know my job is done. I don't care if people are laughing at me or with me, because I know I look, sound, act and am an garish rapscallion. I just want people to break from the monotony of life. Even if it's only for a few seconds. It's just nice to know that, for some people, this is going to be some that changes them. If I'm so lucky.

So, knowing all that, here's my mission to you guys, dare you accept it.

Stop caring what people think. Just do as you please, and think about what you do, and why you do it. Go out of your way to help people. Go try make people laugh. Play loud music and get people to dance alongside you. I don't care. Just don't become one of those people who are so inherently focused on their routine, that they never see the proverbial walls and try to climb over them.

There's a whole world out there to explore. Go for it.

McJobless

The End of an Era

It feels. Empty.

The closing of the old Quotes topic, is rather fitting, given another thing that happened today. Had the Quotes topic not closed, I probably wouldn't even have posted this update, due to the CoS that arrived to wreck havoc on the forums. But, in the weird way that the world works, it's best to talk about it.

For those that don't know, today I gave away my Xbox. Not going to say where or to who, because that's irrelevant. The point is that, as fast as things happened, internally it's weirdly been a slow process of adjustment. I think we all remember that time when we had to give up our fondest childhood toy in the process of maturity (I still loved my original PS1, too...).

I think the big thing about giving up this Xbox was all the memories. Life for me, as of recent, has been getting much better. I've become more social, met more people, getting money, learning new skills and generally living much happier than previously. And, I think it's a little weird, but, there seems to be this connection between my switch from console to PC gaming. I'm not here to argue which is better, but rather to say that, I think I used my Xbox a lot more than my PC for gaming, and that might be the reason I have so many fond memories with it.

I remember staring at the Xbox memory screen for twenty minutes before purging it all. Looking at everything that had been done, and would be forgotten. There's so many games I now refuse to play because all my saves have been lost, such as Trainz Simulator, where I lost this amazing world I made over the course of 3 months. It's hard to think that I might never re-experience the games I played that took me through High School, just because I lost the physical memories.

Before Xbox, I had a PS1. That was it. I played some games like Ape Escape, Gran Turismo (demo), Rugrats: Search for Reptar and a few others, but generally I had very little variety. I believe I also got my first computer; an old beige IBM running Windows 98SE, for which I'd play Matchbox: Emergency Patrol and a few other low quality titles. For me, that's a nostalgic time, though. I didn't get the most amazing and brand new stuff out there. I made do with what I had, and I had fun. I think it was because I played such obscure titles that I might be as weird as I am today.

The first time I saw an Xbox...its tough to place times. I think it was some time after I got my PS2, which is my favourite console of all time (we'll talk about it in some other blog entry). My cousin was now a permanent resident in Australia, and his family finally had a home and unpacked. I remember going over there, and just like we had played Ratchet & Clank: Deadlocked at my house, we played Timespliters 2 at his. The Xbox controllers weren't too bad, if a little bulky, and the game was super fun. I remember staying over at his house once, and getting up early just so I could screw around with the map editor.

What really caught my attention, though, was when we played Halo 2 for the first time. I was amazed. I was astounded. We first played Blood Gulch (called Coagulation in H2). The Warthog was my instant love. We played Juggernaut on Containment, and we made a big in-joke about how I would scream "THE JUGGERNAUT IS COMING" in a cowardly voice (a la "GAME OVER MAN!") whenever I thought the Juggernaut was close to the base I kept stalking (for the tank/warthog). We played on Headlong, and I remember forming the Warthog Protection Society, while my brother became a legendary sniper. Those were the days.

Sometime in the future, 2007 came, and my cousin got his Xbox 360 and Halo 3. Holy. I was...it was beautiful. The graphics? The new weapons? The custom gametypes? The player customisation? Up until that point, I had never experienced ANY of that. My Windows XP machine was still too poor to handle the majority of games, and my PS2 hadn't got any new games since LEGO Star Wars II: The Complete Saga. To experience all that for the first time, it was amazing. I remember Sandtrap and just how incredibly expansive it was (and fiddling with the Elephant), before deciding to become a commentator who annoyed other players on the battlefield by asking them questions (because I was losing the game and I decided it would be more fun to act as an obstruction than a target). Hell, just like I had Halo 2, I even got to try some of the campaign out, and while I paid no attention the story, I could tell there was something good go on there.

I can't remember the exact year I got my own Xbox 360. I just remember getting that awesome wireless black controller and Halo 3 Limited Edition (with the steel tin), and being the happiest I've ever been. It was true bliss. Right away I loaded up Halo 3 and put on Sandtrap, and I just lost myself in the game before looking at my Halo 3 Official Strategy Guide, and finally learning what "Equipment" was and how to use it.

This is where there was an explosion of events. Things are a little hazy from here, but I remember the important things.

Sometime down the track, I started to watch the Behind the Scenes videos, and I fell in love with Bungie and their team. That may very well have been the start of my dream to be a game designer (outside of Halo Gilroy which lead to me getting Halo: Custom Edition and starting to make maps). I finished the campaign of Halo 3, slightly confused, and went back to playing Halo: CE and Halo 2 to finally understand the story. I got my Xbox wired up to the net, and for a good deal of time I became one of those annoying kids on XBL. I met some awesome people on XBL, and we made some cool maps, and I also was able to get some cool maps and gametypes in return. My brother and I exploited the Halo 3 campaign, multiple times. I also pissed off my brother because my failure to understand that achievements and armour only unlock for individual accounts lead to me getting a Stepping Razor...for myself. Things went on from there. To keep it brief, I made friends, and I experience things which would change my life. I'm a big believer in the butterfly effect, and the Xbox may very well have been that tiny butterfly which changed everything.

Staring at my Xbox last night, I thought about it all. And I knew that, if that's what the 360 did to my life, the kids who will have it now might too just be able to experience things they never thought possible. And that's what made my decision to wipe that Xbox clean a lot easier.

In one instant, everything was gone. That Xbox didn't recognise me anymore.

Right now, things are changing. I'm becoming more social, financially stable, powerful and happier. And I'd like to think that everything in my life went right because gaming helped me. And I know that, as much as I love my laptop and my old PC and the PS2, the Xbox (and Halo) really did jumpstart everything that's happened so far.

I'm going to miss you, big guy.

McJobless

Wot I Fink: Video Gaming

Original post with comments that clarify some of what I've said: http://www.steamgifts.com/forum/dg0Pw/can-we-please-have-another-industry-crash/page/31337

I don't like the gaming industry as it is. Everything sucks. AAA is less about trying to take chances on making something incredible and more about pleasing the lowest common denominator, of which many screech from the tops of mountains, belittling those who actually have a valid opinion. Publishers no longer are PUBLISHERS but instead feel as though they are the ultimate gods of gaming, purchasing out the licenses to the best gaming franchises and milking them for all their worth. DLC practices are getting worse and worse, and the push to have more "free" (Read: Missing content designed to fool the non-informed consumer) online games. Hell, the industry is pushing more and more towards complete digital, online services, believing everyone in the world to already live in the future under the benevolent rule of Skynet.

The Indie market too is not doing so well, and it's oversaturated by mediocre titles by developers who don't have a passion for gaming but simply want to make a quick buck. The last console not to be produced by one of the three "mighty" titans was absolutely bollocks and showed that its creators were just as evil as the people making the other consoles. Games as good as Minecraft (in terms of what it did for indie gaming) are few and far between, and typically spawn a bazillion clones because these clone-developers believe that "if ain't broke, don't fix it" actually was supposed to be "if it ain't broke, remake the entire thing in Unity but miss everything that made the original good because we're unoriginal and we don't understand the golden era of video games."

Let's Plays by Pewdiepie apparently somehow are able to warrant millions of spoiled brats supremacy of YouTube, and Kotaku can write whatever random garbage spews from their mind and there will always be people who won't bat an eyelash. Some developers are leaving the industry because they receive enough hate over tiny decisions to match the Sun, whereas other developers are complete degenerates and it takes only a tiny realisation that nobody is laughing with them for a s***storm to start. People review games by comparing them, not based on the games own merits, and people believe that all manner of "technical issues" (LEIK GUIZE ITZ LOCK'D 2 30FPS DIS R s***E) should detract from the game's overall score, when it's clear they're the only one with their problems.

Console and PC wars continuing to rage on, and yet no developer wants to properly merge the gap out of fear they might actually convince gamers its okay to choose what works best for them. Ubisoft f****s PC games daily, Bethesda (generally) gives console players the cold shoulder, and Microsoft loves to screw with everybody equally. People still have it in their minds that console-exclusives are a good thing, and there are still "hardcore" gamers convinced that because a game has no more than the occasional button-click here and there, it shouldn't classify as a game. Meanwhile, "casual" gamers spend money on buying new items for Farmville or Angry Birds, items that take no more than 5 minutes to make and rake in hundreds of thousands of kilos worth of cocaine every day, giving the big publishers the incentive that suddenly all gamers are like that, so they can begin to push DLC right down the unwilling gaming public's throat.

I'm not done with gaming, but I'm pissed off that we've come to this. Only a few years ago, we were still in the warm and fuzzy period of gaming where things weren't as bad. YES. Some of these problems have been a constant. But they were nowhere near as drastic as they are now. This industry used to be about put players into places they've never been before, to experience things they've never felt before. The people who worked in it did so with passion for what they did, not so they could make it rich. Publishers weren't obsessed with licenses or DLC, they just wanted to rake in some profit off the side for distributing the games, as they rightfully should. Back then, you could look inside a game store and find a huge library of amazing games, not just a few awesome titles scattered through a lot of waste. Mario changed the industry forever. We need a new Mario (NOT A SEQUEL LIKE YOU'VE BEEN DOING FOR YEARS, NINTENDO).

Hate me if you will, but that's my perspective. Your move, gaming industry.

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