Thursday, 28 May 2009

Pre-Mortem of Multiple Games

Okay, so I've only completed one game before. I have a bunch though that failed, for a variety of different reasons, and thought I'd showcase stuff from a few of them to give a glimpse of some of the stuff that died long ago and may one day, like a phoenix, rise from the ashes. Don't hold up any hopes though.

(2007) Chris Herring - Private Investigator: Case 2

Oh damn, this was a good one. I was actually working on this for a long time until I ran into a problem with not being able to portray characters. It was actually the second game in a series, but I lost the first game (which had actually been completed, might redo that one some time). So this would've been his second case, and this one was about a serial killer who was pretending to be a ghost. Sorta like Scooby-Doo but more noir.

It was going to be a first-person adventure game, and I was using SketchUp to create all the locales. My issue though was that, at the time I didn't have any actors for doing FMVs, and my drawing skills were atrocious. (More so, at least.) I'd show some more pictures, but there's nothing really interesting.

(2008) Droid

Now, this one was pretty neat. This was a science-fiction third-person adventure game. The story was that humanity had expanded far into space, and that scientists had done this to escape persecution. You played the game from the perspective of Probe Delta-4, a probe in the first line of robots being programmed with AI, and very experimental emotions.

The game actually had an emotions system, where the game's world would "warp" somewhat with your emotions, since they overloaded you so much. Other robots had been experimented with as well, but got stuck in perpetual emotional stages. One robot was even suicidal. The entire ship was run by MOTHER, which stands for Multi-stringed Operating Terminal of Health, Engineering, and Research. I'll be damned if I know what a Multi-stringed Operating Terminal is.

I was working on it with a guy I knew from the AGS forums, but he randomly disappeared. He was doing all the coding, and I just haven't had the urge to pick it up again since.

(2005-2008) Leh Quest

This was another first-person adventure game I was working on. The premise is simple: A magical talking dog (talking dog, not anthropomorphic dog. See: The Chronicles of Narnia vs. The Wind in the Willows.) appears suddenly in your room, kidnapping you for you are apparently the saviour of another dimension, and you must go discover the secret of a magical substance called "Leh".

Yes, it's about as surreal as it sounds. I wish I had some pictures to show, but they're not on my computer. I'll see if I can find some, if you guys want.

It was actually an FMV game though, and my brother and I did a lot of video recordings done out in the nearby woods for when you entered this alternate dimension. There was also a mix of computer-rendered graphics, plus the somewhat odd use of stuffed animals for most characters.

I'd say the best description I could make of it would be a fairy tale for nerds. I would've loved to play something like that as a kid...

Our main development issues were my brother's college work not leaving much time open for working, and my personal disinterest after a while. That being said, we did some surprisingly high-quality work on parts of it, and I wouldn't mind doing something with this again, now that I know more people and could get some really good actors.

(2008) Darkstone Castle

This was going to be my entry for the Commonplace Book Competiton over on TIGSource. It was gonna be a platforming run and gun with a creepy storyline in Lovecraftian manner. What happened? I bit off WAY more than I could chew, and failed completely in finishing it. All I have is this screenshot of a hobo with a shotgun running at a gargoyle. I believe no further explanation is necessary.

(2007-2008) The Mars Initiative

This is what originally brought together me, my programmer in Droid, and my internet-pal Cinfa together. It was a sci-fi adventure game (seeing a pattern?) in which humanity as a last hope was trying to colonize Mars, and then intrigue happens. I would explain more, but recently Cinfa has been expressing passive interest in working on it again, and so I wouldn't want to spoil anything.

There are a bunch of others that I've worked on too, but I don't want to overload you guys all at once. Besides, I need posting material for this blog.

Stay fiesty guys.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Aliens in games are cool

I don't really view myself as much of a gamer. I certainly wouldn't associate myself with the "culture" it has. [edit: I am so totally a gamer. - Future March] But one thing I do notice in a lot of games I've been playing recently is that, well, aliens are really awesome.

It's not that aliens are fun to play as even. In fact most of the instances I've come across, they're enemies. But what neat and gorgeous enemies they make! For an example, here's one of the alien Akrid from Lost Planet: Extreme Conditions.

I hope 10 grenades is enough...

Yes that's right, it's a giant worm like the infamous one from Dune. Except it lives in the snow. And you can fight it. Can is the important word, as it's optional, but it's still pretty cool. Especially how one of its attacks is just to charge and eat you. Whole. Like bam, you're dead, a giant worm just ate you.

Speaking of worms, another game with worm aliens is Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri. The game has a unique alien lifeform called a mindworm. They basically drive people to insanity like some odd form of D&D's Frightful Presence. It's rather Lovecraftian in nature, and even look!

Tell Cthulhu he left his children over here.

Like whoa, that's intense. They're kind of a pest at first, sorta like the barbarian tribes in Sid Meier's Civilization, but you can eventually control them, and then they become a potent ally.

But some aliens you just can't control. No, they decide they have to attack earth for some obscure reason... probably something to do with expansion or whatever. But anyways, they come down in their UFOs, first sparsely but then in full force. Yes, it's a UFO Invasion, and only X-COM can stop them! For these are the terrible Greys! Okay, they're called "Sectoids" in the game, but they look like the Greys.

Yes, it is ironic that it was easier to find a decent resolution picture of an early 90's game than it was a mid 2000's game.

I'll be honest, I mainly pointed this one out because X-COM: UFO Defense is pretty much the best strategy/isometric-rpg/resource-management/military-simulation game ever made. Well, perhaps the sequels were better, I haven't played them.

But hey, at least the Greys don't use us as hosts! Not like the next guys, an alien from Half-Life. No, next we're dealing with those devilish monstrosities from the nearby dimension of Xen, Headcrabs.

They're not this cute and fluffy. Trust me.

But hey, there's not just one of these. No, there's two other, more powerful species. That's right. There's a bunch which are super-fast, and then others which inject you with a neuro-toxin and try to kill you with one scratch. That's intense. They also do some pretty crazy stuff, like coupling with your head to turn you into a zombie. I don't know what the transition is like, but considering the end result, really really painful.

Sorta like this, but more blood and screaming in pain.

To sum Headcrabs up, I'll quote myself from playing through a section of Half-Life 2.

Hey, it was damn scary at the time!

Now, I could go on and on about aliens in video games, and list a bunch more examples, but these were just some neat ones I thought I should mention. Read on for some related comments.

About the games referenced:
If you have a chance of playing Lost Planet some time, I'd reccomend you at least play the first half-hour or so. The game is really cinematic, and the Akrid are pretty neat monsters. The gameplay itself is... solid, passable, but not amazing. The graphics are pretty good though.

Alpha Centauri is pretty much Civilizations II except on Alpha Centauri. It basically picks up after the Space Race ending of Civ II anyways. It's a great game if you love sci-fi and the Civ games though, so if you do you should most certainly check it out.

X-COM: UFO Defense is a classic. The game is really complicated and fairly difficult, so be forewarned. Even so, it's very addicting, and the gameplay is really good and plays very well. It also manages to make relatively turn-based battles very tense and edgy. Definitely pick up a copy if you can.

And Half-Life? It's a classic in the FPS genre. The second game is a lot better, and Half-Life2 2 is basically what managed to get me to actually enjoy the genre. It's got a decent story (for a first-person shooter), but the presentation is really amazing. The characters all feel really realistic, which is great and helps make it feel more authentic. It's a good game and you can get it in The Orange Box with Portal, so go get it if you don't mind some pretty gory aliens! (Seriously, Headcrabs are gross!)

Last comments:
I'd also like to make a comment from a creative standpoint here. Aliens are a great way to make interesting and strange creatures without having to resort to magic. They can allow new ways of looking at thing like environments, animals, and races. You can use them to maintain reasonable plots, yet still explore strange new worlds and odd realities.

And they're just cool.

Credits go to the owners of the images contained in these posts, and the owners of the content in the images. I took none of them myself, but merely found them on Google. I assume no ownership and am using them for referential purposes. If you do not wish them to be used, simply send me an e-mail and I will replace them.