Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Everyone loves Nintendo

I was just watching some videos about Nintendos Amiibo thingies and a thought suddenly struck me.

We used to love Nintendo. I know I spent days straight with my nose touching the screen of my gameboy. My hands weren't even big enough to hold the thing properly. Then came the snes and I couldn't believe how world-shatteringly awesome it was. We never had one in the house and yet I racked up some serious hours on it. Super Smash on the 64 was the mainstay of my teens, and was only dethroned by Melee.

But something happened.

I grew up and started demanding more gritty fantasy adventures. Link couldn't spill enough blood to sate my maturing entertainment needs. Metroid couldn't immerse me like it used to. I sought out obscure games in the hopes of something new and different, and found my way to PCs and The Internet.

Monday, October 6, 2014

BrokenFolx - sexual discrimination discussion in games

This is a tricky subject to talk about. Inevitably whenever a straight guy voices an opinion about sexuality someone is along shortly to yell at him. This post will offend some, but read it to the end. I'm not a bigot. I simply don't see gender roles/sexuality as a reason to discriminate. I don't see a reason to react to it at all. On that note I am going to dive straight on into:


I played Brokenfolx recently, a small game about sexual discrimination made by Arielle Grimes. I guess it succeeded in its mission, because it got me thinking. It's a game where you are presented four examples of stressful situations from a queer persons life. Three of the four options were legit. Abuse from the family for coming out, the internal turmoil that gay people feel about themselves and the general lack of acceptance they feel in society. The fourth one struck me as pure misinterpretation. It involves a 'chat' between a gay employee (the protagonist) and a 'boss'. The subject of the chat is that the employee isn't pulling their weight. The protagonists response to this allegation is immediate upset and "you just hate me because I'm gay". This is the part that slapped me in the face.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Source compiling issues AGAIN

So I recently tried to compile a model for source and received a semi-cryptic error in the form of:

WARNING: *** Encountered VTF file with an invalid minor version!
WARNING: *** Encountered VTF file with an invalid full header!

I also had two materials on my model. The materials were in separate directories. I don't think either of those points were the problem. Considering it said the vtf file has issues I figured it was the vtf at fault. I had been using vtfedit to convert my png's to vtf's and I guess I hit a flag somewhere or something.

I fixed the problem by exporting my vtf from GIMP instead of converting it with vtfedit. I get the feeling I did something else too though. If that doesn't work for you, read on.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


I just spent an hour searching for the console command for source that shows your areaportals and visleafs in-game. I'm putting it here in case I ever forget and lest it's memory be stricken from the net.

Monday, September 1, 2014

FindPortalSide: How to fix a tricky Hammer editor compile error

FindPortalSide: Couldn't find a good match for which brush to assign to a portal

Look farmiliar? This error can be from an array of things, but most of them have an easy solution on the net. I got this error when trying to compile my map so I loaded up a pointfile only to find the pointfile points at some random direction and never enters my BSP level. Perplexing. After a little bit of googling I fixed it.

Go to edit > select all, and then tools > center origins.

The reason this exists is because all the brush entities and world geometry brushes have 'origins', the place that they were created. Sometimes after some editing, you may move the brush but the origin point stays the same. If the origin point is outside the map it will leak, but you'll never be able to see why. Try the above solution.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Blend textures to add subtle wear and tear

I want to talk about tiles. Tiles are a nice texture to use because they have a lot of innate detail. They have grout, which provides opportunities for nice normal maps and variations in phong/envmap specularity, they can have cracks on them which looks cool, and the tiles themselves can have cool designs or just alternating colours. The problem with tiles though is that this inherent detail is misinterpreted for ease of use. As nice as it is to slap a tile texture down and give yourself a pat on the back as you sip you freshly prepared congratulatory cognac on the rocks, it's not at all that simple - as usual, como siempre.

Tiles are actually a pain in the ass to lay down in real life. I tiled my toilet and bathroom once. It was horrible. You have to cut here, lay there, measure this, and it's all such work. This experience led me to look at game tiles in a different light. No longer can I drop a tile texture down, rotate it 45 degrees and think no one will look twice.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Simple hallways aren't at all simple

Gameplay in DA is poised to be liquified awesome, as are the environments. Looking at some professionally made maps helps put your own environment art in perspective. I have taken a screenshot of a simple random hallway in CS:GO and analyzed why it is the standard people expect in modern games. I thought it would be nice to point out what makes a simple scene awesome, and hopefully our loyal readers will gain a bit of an insight into how to look at an environment as more than just an environment. If you can quantify what makes something look good and then replicate that, you'll progress in your skill faster than the average noob

Here's a simple screenshot I took, and the resulting revelations:

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Continuous Boogaloo and Hotspot Distribution: Map design principles for Double Action pt 3

As we have already seen, DA is all about continual, flowing movement through the environment. We have managed to tailor the environment to uninterrupted slides and dives, but what about the greater picture? The very layout of a map should allow our action heroes to continually run, dive and slide without hitting a wall or a dead end and having to recalibrate their path. My favourite way of ensuring this is to plan our map in terms of:

Overlapping circles of travel

When planning a map (which is something that needs to take place before starting) you should take into account the greater travel paths of our intrepid heroes. A simple way to think of this for now is three circles overlapping, like a ven diagram:

Doors: Map design principles for Double Action pt 2

Doors are a bit of an 'in joke' for game designers. For something so simple there are a million variables to consider. In DA we have a similar situaion. Considering what we already know about DA's gameplay mechanics, we find that we need to use doors in order to enhance the probability of an uninterrupted boogaloo, which is contrary to the very idea of a door: to stop people.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Divey wivey and smoothin the moovin: Map design principles for Double Action pt 1

Double Actions gameplay is heavily reliant on smooth, fluid and continual movement around the environment. A player is having the most fun when sailing through the air and sliding around corners, akimbos blazing at a similarly horizontal opponent. DA doesn't have any cover system and the crouch key is rarely used (except to stunt). Taking these factoids into consideration we see that it is important that DA maps have long, unobstructed avenues for the player to exercise his right to boogaloo as a verb. Have you ever taken a lateral dive around a corner, vindicator poised to deliver a lead-whoopin on the briefcase bearers behind, only to clip into a stray pole or lonely brush face? You'll realise that this is heavily not fun.

The problem with wide open, unobstructed lanes of fire is that they look bare, but as we start to add detail we also start to block the player. As a small mod dying for attention on the scene we want to have nice, detailed environments to show off to our adoring public, but we can't sacrifice anything in terms of gameplay. So in order to tackle these problems we have a few options.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Blender to Max - thought conversion

Over the past few days I have been learning 3ds Max. It's definitely a far more powerful modelling suite than blender, the modifier stack is a great method for non-destructive modelling and the tools are far more versatile and just feel really nice. But I just can't get around the interface, and no one will listen to me complain. So I am going to rant about Max today. Just so this isn't an imageless post, here are a few shitty things I made in max for DAB:

I know right? Amazing art!!!

Friday, January 24, 2014

New blog

So I am traveling around South America at the moment, and I decided I should keep a diary. So I started a blog since I would just lose a book if I wrote in one. I guess I really could have just posted them here and increased my post count e-peen but I didn't think that through. Here's the new blog:


I'll put travel related spunk on there and keep this stuff to models and games and more nerdy stuff.