Just played Contrast.
Looks lovely, fantastic story… mind-numbingly annoying game play.
Just played Contrast.
Just played Contrast.
Looks lovely, fantastic story… mind-numbingly annoying game play.
So Through the Woods…
I`ve been looking forward to this game for a while, its kind of because its the game I never finished making myself. More about that later.
Set in Norway you play a Mother, who on a trip to the cabin in the woods, sees her son get abducted by a bearded man on a boat, after diving in and swimming to the island where the boat went, she must follow the trail of reflectors the boy drops along the way, to ultimately catch up with the boy and his captor at the end of the game.
Along the way she learns of the terrible fates of the previous island inhabitants, who are to be found dead, strewn around broken down villages and encampments.
OH.. so I as gonna write somthimg about TRUTH.. but didnt get around to it.. later maybe… TV calls.
I’ve been experimenting alot with my new Oculus Rift, trying to get my head around what VR actually is… or what I want to use it for. Getting somewhere with that, but this post isnt anything to do with that. My “meet-up” group had a special arrangement yesterday to check out the Microsoft Hololens.
Admirably demonstrated by group member Edd Smith, he explained that although Microsoft are billing it as a “Mixed Reality” device, that its really just AR (Augmented reality) with glasses. Speaking as someone who has always been a bit *meh* about AR, I was very interested to see if it being full face and immersive with the real world would help some… and would that feeling bring to me any ideas for the USE of AR apart from dancing dinosaurs on the breakfast table, or pop up directions on the road.
First let me outline my misgivings with AR. Firstly… there is already too much visual NOISE in the world, I really do NOT want to add more, permanently to my field of view. I dont want ads popping up as I walk past shops, I dont want TV touch controls on the sofa cushion and I dont want “helpful” dancing paper clips, telling me how to use a kitchen appliance.
AR has always been about quite cheezy and ad-centric things, we´ve even considered its use at work, for creating a “virtual” Teacher that can pop up around the workplace, and give you tasks, quizzes, directions and rewards… Never happened though. Just too expensive and yes.. cheezy.
But then along comes Pokemon GO!, and the world goes AR crazy…
Firstly, Pokemon GO! is a great game, well thought out, interesting features and a new application of… AR??? NO.. a new application of GPS. Its NOT a AR game AT ALL… ok, its cute that you can turn you camera on and SEE the pokemons in the living room/street/Playground, however, AR is not CORE GAMEPLAY. Its NOT needed… infact, I noticed that Nikolas, my son has turned off that feature, and just uses the pregenerated backgrounds. (maybe a battery saving action) NO.. the REAL game-play is in the unique use of GPS, the fact that you MUST walk to hatch an egg, is genius, that you must wander about to grab them poke-balls, is fab… that you can fight against others (anonymously) at Poke-gyms, and leave your “Winner” there is super-cool., and there is no doubt that P-GO! is a great game… but its got nothing to do with AR… didnt need it!!!
So yeah… AR.. Convince me…
So Im going to put on these $3000 glasses and see 3D objects in the room with me? Ill be able to make gestures in space to interact, and Ill be able to talk commands to it?
Well not so much.
Firstly, the field of view is TERRIBLE… its a tiny 30degree square in the middle of your field of view, so things disappear over that edge ALL THE TIME… the only way to look at things is to, stand along way away, or go in close and only look at one small thing. This to me is the biggest drawback, if its not FULL SCREEN, its basically useless, there is no difference to me in looking through glasses at a tiny square of AR, than holding up an iPad in front of my face.
Secondly, and I admit I hadnt thought of this…no BLACK! So no shading and no shadows! OF COURSE! As the view is NOT a screen, but glass (that is a difference between iPad AR where the background real world is ALSO an image, on a camera, whereas on Hololens its glass, see through glass) so all images are colour and bright overlays on reality, not added to reality. Now, its pretty good, but you wont see a SOLID object, you will see a transparent object.
I must say, that this is also such a big immersion killer for me, that I might have tried to use for example, dark glasses which have a default level of “dark”.. then use brightness to bring up reality to normal, add objects, but still be able to NOT add brightness to areas that should be shadows, but Im sure they cant NOT have thought of that, so its probably unfeasible.
Thirdly and fouthly, the input methods. gestures and speech. Speech seemed to work pretty good despite a noisy room, but I could NOT get gestures to work AT ALL!!! I must say this is probably just practice, as Edd was having no trouble.
OH and Fifthly… THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS??? OK I get this is just for Rand D folk right now, trying to get in on the ground floor, incase its the next big thing, and it may be.. just not now, with THIS tech… its just not very good. The future, might be interesting, but if its just gonna be all about advertising, architectural modelling, and directions.. I dunno… someone has to come up with something REALLY cool for this to be useful or worth it, for example, Ive seen a pretty interesting video about controlling the Behringer Deep Mind synthesiser with the hololens.. could be good… again… expensive add-on for a average synth… as in a bout 5 times MORE expensive than the synth… anyhow…
Pokemon GO! is gonna be fucking great on it though!
I decided to divide off my computer games and film stuff off onto new site, Ill continue to update om misc things blog style here, but I needed a less messy container for my more serious experiments into computer games and VR. Im hoping sometime to get some funding for this art, and infact to get some of my old films onto digital format for re-showing them, so they are included on the new site as well.
The site is called www.ordoabchao.no
OK well I finally bought Elite Dangerous.
The long awaited re-make of the famed game that I was hooked on the Spectrum and obsessed with on the Amiga.
Basically the whole of Wings of Joy was recorded with Elite in the background.
James and I had pages and pages of notes of share-prices of what slaves cost on Sol in comparison to Bernards Star.
The new one.. is difficult. But I remember the original had a bit of a learning curve too, I remember the docking computer was the most important item to buy right from the start. And sure enough I have been crashing around on the launch pads in E-D trying to line up correctly. All the reviews say I need a Joystick, but I refuse to buy some specialist hardware just to play a game (Except perhaps occulas?).
I must say that the intro is terrible, what game, after downloading basically FORCES you to go off and watch 11 YouTube videos.
I think an interactive tutorial is basically a necessity with a game as complex as this, some kind of ramping up of needs and functions. Oh Sure… there are about 10 tutorial missions, but due to the multifarious ways you can configure your whole keyboard (Yes almost every key does something) they can’t say, “PRESS I FOR INVENTORY” Its “PRESS the key you have mapped to left screen UI focus” Phew…
Plus there are a few things that don’t seem to be explained at all! Oh sure, they are explained on fan-made youtube tutorials, and I have spent about 60% in youtube compared to 40% in game…
…but the graphics are great… not TOO great.. they still run on my machine, an old and clunky mac. Im happy with that, and the rumour is that due to the procedural mapping and planet creation method, one day… the dream of the old versions will happen… we will be able to fly down to planet surfaces. YAY!
So… Im diving, tentatively, in… I did a little quest, I shot down ONE bad guy, got thanked by the federation… got blown up by another, lost a contact when he said “follow my trial” (didn’t know what THAT meant) and spent a lot of time trying to fly around a sun, cos my target was on the other side… no idea how to do that.. an hour with my finger on W did nothing as far as I could see.
But slightly looking forward to it all becoming clear… I loved this game as a kid, maybe it will light a spark again?
Probably vapourware, but still— I quite like laser tag, so this would be amazing!
NOTE: Im NOT SAYING ANYONE HERE NICKED ANYTHING… JUST A FIGURE OF SPEECH…
One of the annoying things about trying to develop games on your own and with a day job, is that it takes an unbelievably long time. I get about an hour an evening and less at weekends, and thats shared with my Modular Synth building obsession.
Over the course of the 4 years Ive been doing this, I have yet to release one game (whatever “release” is gonna mean if I actually finish one) Ive never been interested in the tiny “retro” style games that are churned out for mobile or on “Game Jams”. Im always for the BIG IDEAS, and the COMPLEX STORIES.
So when my game “Aunty- A metaphysical Mystery” failed to get funding (twice) from the film fund, and then a game, seemingly with the same idea was anounced, and was bing heralded as “the next big thing” and had millions positively flung at it… Well “sour Grapes” comes to mind.
Of course Im not suggesting for one moment that “Among the Sleep“was a nicked idea from me, my god no… And in the end of course, it turned out to be nothing like Aunty was ever going to be…
However, the annoyance was enough that I dumped the idea, for the moment, I will probably return to it when I have finished T.R.U.T.H.
But there, now I have been working on THAT NEW GAME now for two years, finally there comes along ANOTHER bunch of things that could be called similar! Again from “proper” Norwegian companies, who will no doubt finish their games and get on with their next one, way before Im done with mine.
So baring in mind that my game is…
Set in a remote Norwegian Valley and concerns mysterious strange activities that could be taken from Norsk folk lore, religion, superstitions and experimental science. A FIRST PERSON fragmented mystery, where the goal is to find out for yourself what you think is going on, but never ultimately really understand due to conflicting information and clues, and points of view… Including, A Strange old lady and her missing mentally challenged son, Biblical Prophecies, A secret scientific laboratory, and underground caves and tunnels, a newcomer to the village, where you get the feeling you are always being watched?
In an attempt to NOT get all uppity and pissed of, I instead will use this post to BIG UP my competitors and let them know that far from being annoyed I AM TOTALLY PROUD AND VERY IMPRESSED That Norway has so many cool and exiting games being made, (oh and if you wanna give a 51 year old wannabe a job.. then…)
I do wonder if this “spate” is infact a bit of a reflection of some of the criteria that the NFI use when dealing out money to projects, because during my failed attempt at getting anything from them for Aunty, I do remember a mention of Norwegian Culture and language bing favoured.
The first is “Through the Woods” from Antagonist Games
Through the Woods is a third-person psychological horror game set in a forest on the western shore of Norway about a mother and her missing son. Through dynamic narration, you play the mother’s re-telling of the events surrounding her son’s disappearance in a setting heavily influenced by Norse mythology and Norwegian folk tales.
This looks very cool, quite dark and scary, seems to be a bit more “supernatural” and possibly involving fighting monsters. I met one of the guys from Antagonist, he was very nice about what he had seen of TRUTH, and told me a few home truths about the cash situation they are developing under..
Ha! Kids! How they can live on almost nothing is very endearing..
The next game is from the new darlings of Norway Red Thread Games, who came into the scene with a blast for the latest instalment of The Longest Journey, Dreamfall Chapters. I havent played that one, I didnt like the originals, but their new piece is Draugen And is…
Draugen is a first-person psychological horror adventure, set amongst the deep fjords and towering mountains of Norway’s awe-inspiring west coast.
The game is a dark and disturbing journey into the pitch black heart of Norwegian national romanticism, as seen through the eyes of an American nature photographer, botanist and entomologist.
Inspired by Scandinavian literature, legends and fairytales, along with Norse mythology and the Icelandic sagas, Draugen is set in the early 1920s and delves into the deepest, darkest secrets of a remote fishing community where every single soul has mysteriously vanished.
As the player explores the tiny settlement, gathering clues and memories, and unearthing the truth behind a terrible tragedy, they will learn more about the history of the village and its inhabitants. And they will come to see that behind even the most innocent of facades lurks the potential for malice.
OK great… again looks fantastic, and remember these are the big boys, as they are all ex Funcom dudes, that know what they are doing, bastards! Heres the clip…
But really.. Norway.. mysteries… missing people… ghosts and legends… sigh…
I better pull my finger out…
Just a post to show a few more things from the game.
Heres a overview of the Church (based on Nesodden, where I live) showing some rain, and the crow code. They hover around the graveyard, occasionally sitting on graves, but if you walk past, they all fly off… except one!
And heres a pic showing the Aunt in her rocking chair, so now she rocks, looks about, and twiddles her fingers.. unfortunately her middle finger twiddle a bit too much… i might fix it.. or not…
Unfortunately I thought I had some kind of accessable blendshape on her face, like I do on the scary girl, but I dont, so I dont know how she will speak… Im considering her having a fag in her mouth the whole time… would that be cheating? A mumbling smoking Aunt.. argh!
Now my game has chickens and crows! The chicken AI is nearly working, needs a little tweaking when they meet the fence, for some reason they cast their rays thru the geometry’s holes even though there is in fact a hidden collider… I thought it should hit that… but they do turn and walk away after a bit…