Saturday, 14 March 2015

nighttime shenanigans - Educating Rita

I don't know why, but every night I tend to prioritize escaping over sleep. Not work. No socializing. Some form of calm. Movies. Random tracks of music. Something that lets my mind fly.

Today I ended up stumbling upon Educating Rita. I won't spoil it for you, it's a great movie. But it got me thinking about all the fragile relationships that we set, that end up making the memories so dear to us and so bittersweet when they end. All of those people that we remember fondly, that end up being nothing but passerby's in the bigger picture. The fragility is what makes it so important. Half the people I know today, we will never run into each other years later. I wish I could get a follow up on what happened to quite a few that I used to know. Yet I wonder if I did get a follow up would it make it any less special?

I remember playing Perfect World at a particularly tough time in my life. Yet it was people that made it special for me. I remember meeting a person while leveling who decided to stick around because both of us had 5 letters in our name. The thing is, his wasn't even supposed to be spelled that way. He misspelled his, I chose the one that I normally hide behind. I remember the first guild that I was in crumbling down. I remember choosing a guild name. I remember doing all the boring leveling and eventually being flown over the higher level areas, because I was bored and they looked so pretty. People even took me dungeoning. Though I don't think that I understood what a dungeon was, but I tagged along anyway. I stopped playing shortly after those people stopped. The game lost taste. I knew some of their names on facebook but I decided to throw those away. I wonder how did they get on with their lives. Did they fix what was broken? Where did they end up going? Who did they become?

I wonder same for those few friends that I had in my primary school. About the first boy to have a crush on me. About the one that just didn't show up for a date one day. I wonder who they became to be. What is their worldview. Who are their loved ones. What things do they enjoy now. Yet I remember them. And perhaps those memories are made better by the fact that we don't reconnect with them.

They came. They gave us something to remember. We all separated paths as better beings. And unknowingly we will do it again and again. With some we'll part ways willingly. With others we won't know that they chose to until they're already gone. Yet it makes all the memories that you make even more precious.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Wildstar: the denial of the death of an MMO

watch this video

And now tell me does it seem normal for you for one out of two servers to only have 17 people in the middle of the day? To have no economy?

Of course it's not! And there's suggestions. "change your payment model", "close the server down". Nope. Nothing is done for 5 months now. And the best thing is that when people see this and then leave (mostly because Wildstar launched free trials) they get badmouthed.

for example:

"I swear someone is paying people to make ludicrous statements like this post.I am having such a blast in WS every day. "

from Feyline

after I uploaded that video, I was told "oh what a jerk you are!", "you're on at the wrong time!". Now I'm sorry, but even private servers of MMOs have more than 17 people playing on a megaserver at 1pm GMT+0. I will record some more at 6 pm just for them, but still... The fact that the game is dying is sad. The fact that Carbine is doing nothing about it is sad. But the fact that people will call you a jerk for just pointing out that this is not normal is the most frustrating part.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

What's BloodLust Shadowhunter and why you should get it

I played the demo of this gem 3 years ago. The game was under a different name at that point but already had potential.

Part one of the demo if anyone is interested

And just today it appeared on steam as early access! The sad part is that this game will be drowned by such as Five Nights At Freddy's 3, even though a lot more thought has been put into it and all the reviews are positive. Why? Mostly because nobody knows that it exists.

Do you like vampire games? More notably Vampire the Masquerade Redemption or Bloodlines? Then please look into Bloodlust. You don't have to buy it. But watch a few broadcasts of it. Maybe pick up the demo to play. Because this is the first good vampire game in years! And made by only one person that seems to be super cooperative on the forums.

want to hear more?

-In the game you have 3 classes (Witch, thief and warrior) and two races - vampire and half human.
- campaign can last anywhere between 10 to 30 hours, though it could be 100+ if you get lost in dungeon exploration.
- lots of secret rooms and random elements. I've seem to have found completely different places to other people that played it.
- minion system! Make yourself a vampire buddy! They're dumb as rocks, but quite useful!

and most importantly, it's bringing the vampire RPG game sub genre back. So adopt a vampire game developer today and ensure that one day more games like Bloodlines come!

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

do not categorize (guild rant)

I've been posting on Guild Wars 2 forums again (after Wildstar PvP servers fell I moved back to Guild Wars 2. My guild is now a small community stretched between WoW, Wildstar and Guild Wars 2 with me personally leading the Guild Wars 2 section) and one of the posts really got me worked up.

Bottom line, one guy decided to post this. And all I could think of was "don't categorize, ever". So mistakes that the blog post makes

1. They're obviously against certain types of people and guilds, even though there's absolutely nothing wrong with them. For example helper guilds.
2. They're forgetting the human factor. I know plenty of people in plenty of guilds and there's no inherently bad type of guild. Everyone tends to band together to do what they want to do to and to play the way that they want to play.
3. No conclusion drawing. Whether they paint a negative or a positive image, there's no "therefore" after these descriptions. No advise, no point about improving guilds, no suggestions, no opinion as to why they're writing it. Just bias observations. It's literally a blog post about a guy going "I don't like it, because they're not my guild and I'm the only one normal!".
4. So many generalizations and so much prejudice. Examples include:

"they often immediately try to get attention of the GMs, etc. by producing “Quality” fan-site content. Often, this content is pieced together by using pirated software (After Effects, Photoshop, etc.) and media packs provided by the publisher. if you try to prod into what software they use, they will often either say a free variant of the software they actually use, or just say they use the software, just without saying it’s pirated until you start asking questions about the price of the software" 


"and this often devolves the guild into an MMORPG Hopper or known as a Multi-MMO Guild."

how is being a community a downside?

"In this type of guild, it is not uncommon to find hardcore people who will level up with that guild’s resources just to leave the guild when they hit level cap to join a hardcore guild. This often is due to the guild’s inability to be “Frontal” or “Aggressive” with keeping their members. Some members of a social guild will attempt to be “Aggressive”, but often fail to do so, because of their social instability and being “Anti-Social” when they think they aren’t."

that's just insulting.

And then this guy has the guts to call his own guild normal and saying that that's precisely why they're not popular...
People like this make me want for blogs to be not a thing so that I could directly respond with what kind of pompous prick they are. The problem with the Internet is that they probably don't even care. After all why wouldn't you insult majority of people when you can get away with it?

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

February 3rd, Human Shenanigans

It's 2:20AM. Yesterday we started semester two of my second year of uni. I'm increasingly unsure of what I want to do with my life. There's that part of me that just wants to make and make and make based on topic life. There's that part of me that wants to show the experience of a sleepless night, the doubt, the emotions, the kids in hospital beds, the human things. And then there's a part of me that's completely at a loss how to put my heart into something virtual. There's the part of me that doesn't have the right skills and the part of me that's very indifferent.

Did I even choose the right field? Is this where there's space for me? I guess we'll find out in a year and a half.

And yet everything is... So not what I would like it to be. Between forced pretentiousness, between creating what they call "art" and lost between others interests I feel out of fumes. And then there's topics that nobody would ever touch. We're encouraged to research but we're not given the freedom.

How about as a research topic - what virtual lives mean to us? How much heart do we put into our little fantasy toons? How much more real people are when they get to hide behind a different face? How much time do we spend orchestrating it and can it be counted for a real world experience of some kind?
But... It's not something that would ever be written about in an actual paper. Rather something majority of industries would choose to ridicule.

MMO of my choice is back to Guild Wars 2 and The Sims 4 is not that bad. Why do all of the announcements, games and expansions have to come out when I'm busy and/ or broke?

What's more important, the life of leisure and happiness on limited security or to fall apart somewhere where I couldn't feel human?

2AM shenanigans.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

about personal life (living with EDS)

It's nighttime and I'm feeling down. Whenever that happens I tend to share something very personal that I shouldn't. This isn't in any way work or industry related. It's just me related.

I have Ehler Danlos Syndrome. And sometimes I get overly frustrated because of it. I'm barely coping this year because of it. I'm doubting myself because of it. I don't know can I work because of it.

For all those that don't know Ehler Danlos is a connective tissue disorder. It messes up your joints, your digestive system, your skin, your blood vessels. I had two back surgeries because I had scoliosis. I have joint pains quite often. Knees, ankles would be my most common ones. I have very easily irritated stomach and acid reflux. Often I'll get stomach pains. I get nauseous almost daily. When I was a child, I would spend my nights sitting in the bathroom, thinking that perhaps I'll throw up. I think at some point I got used to it, as right now those nights are rare. I can cope.

However as time goes on there's more and more things that I can't cope with. The acid damaged my throat. I get the reflex of coughing every time I eat. I end up with a sore throat most of the time. This year I had to struggle with constant tiredness. They diagnosed that I'm badly anemic. Why? My blood vessels don't hold properly, so there's a slow seepage all over my body.

What hurt back then is that you're treated like it's pointless to take care of you. "Oh you're getting worse. But that's to be expected. Here drink this very strong iron. It has lots of side effects, but it might help. Or you might need to be on it for life". It feels crushing. Especially when you see all the people with the same condition that ended up in a wheelchair. Or with a feeding tube. Or with a drain in their head. And I've heard that as long as you don't choose the wheelchair you don't need it. And perhaps in my case it will be true. I hurt, yes. I get incredible dizzy spells because my heart doesn't like pumping the blood to my head. I get tired easily and my heart has tachycardia. But I tell myself that I can cope. Because I have to and I'll have to continue to. Because there's no way to fix me. So it's part of me.

What hurts now is that tiredness is really making me struggle with my second year. When I get home I don't want to do anything. When it's time to wake up, I don't want to go anywhere. And it's getting me to breakdown. In the last two weeks I cried in front of my professors twice. And I think I startled one of them. Others probably find me weird. Or overly dramatic. Or unreasonably emotional. And yet I'm pushing myself more than ever before. Christmas is coming and here's me planning to go in 5 days a week despite the holidays and code code code.

My own mind is conflicting with me.

One side is telling me that I'm pathetic for complaining. That the world won't adapt to me. That no matter what I think I'll end up in a corporation and will work for longer than just 9 to 5. Because I'll have to. Because I can't afford not to. That there's nothing really wrong with me. Just some pains. Everyone lives with some pains. My boyfriend struggles with hyperactive metabolism. That comes with bad organ damage and pains too. There isn't anyone completely fine and in general I'm not as bad as I could be.

The other side says that it's okay to give up. Why bother trying? It will just get worse and worse and all I'm doing is torturing my body. I could easily be a stay at home woman. It wouldn't be too hard without any children.

And yet knowing me I would probably continue pushing myself no matter what. Mostly because I feel like it's completely up to me just how bad I get. Because I feel like if I don't give up I will continue going no matter how broken my body starts feeling. But sometimes trying to be me and trying to be normal gets so frustrating that I just... Well I spend hours of my sleeping time just sitting there listening to music, watching random documentaries on youtube and moping while nobody sees me. So today I write. Write about this weird side of my life. Because I've seen others share their experiences on the Internet, so why not?

Sunday, 21 September 2014

the taboo of criticism and lack of freedom of speech (feminism rant)

Just going to be a quick one this time.

It really irks me how much freedom of speech you lose if you want to be employable. You can't stand in public and say "I dislike this video game because of these reasons", or "I dislike this particular group of self entitled people". Even if you have valid criticism, media will catch on on it and it will be blown out of proportion. Imagine working for a big company. You go out with a new acquaintance to just have a good time and you start spilling your heart out. Next day in the press "This company hates women!".

So I'm going to say things before I can be silenced. Once regret comes in years I'll just delete it. I dislike the current feminism movement against gaming in general. I dislike how Ubisoft is disallowed from telling that they don't plan a main female character for their own game, because that somehow oppresses women. I dislike those that said that in Hitman there should have been no prostitutes, because you can't display that, because you objectify women. I dislike the fact that you can kill millions of men over and over and over in video games and nobody bats an eye, but kill one woman that wasn't important to the story and suddenly you're using women as props and objects. No, you're setting a story line. And yes, a damsel in distress is a valid story line. Why? Because we can relate to wanting to save a loved one. Not because our loved ones are worthless, or weak. But because we love them and want to help them.
I'm frustrated with how one sided the discussion is. As a woman I'm ashamed that someone else is using our sex to stop someone elses creative work. We should be allowed to write our own story-line and set our characters however we want and customers should be allowed to vote with their valets. If someone creates a wonderful female lead, that's great! However why does everyone have to create only female leads? Also only ones that fit certain criteria that will satisfy some women? A woman big breasts, but she can have small ones too, a woman can be stupid, clumsy, weak, intelligent, strong, or any other descriptive word. A woman is a human. So why can't she be portrayed in a story, the way that that said story writer wants to portray her as?

Not trying to insult anyone. Not going to talk about the dishonest people that censor their opponents and are seeking for fame, while playing a victim. Just expressing my opinion. Because why is it so, that certain kind feminists can silence other women just because those disagree with them? Am I oppressing myself by wanting the right to create whatever I would want to create?

Thursday, 24 July 2014

starved for more life simulation

With The Sims 4 looking more and more stripped and after being starved for any life simulation game for years now and annoying my family and friends up to a point where I started to sound like a broken record I thought that I will share my thoughts here and perhaps it will inspire someone besides me to do something.

The market is solely dominated by one developer. And it really irks me. What I would give for other known life simulations to be recreated. I would gladly throw my money at Kudos 3 or even Alter Ego 2. Unfortunately it's not going to happen. So at the moment, the only game that allows you to actually involve yourself in working a regular job, aging, having kids and living an alter life is The Sims series. EA is dominating and it shows. They're brave enough to price their game at 59.99 pounds and take away key features such as:
seamless neighborhood
toddler life stage
story progression
ability to re-colour your clothing
ability to use unnatural colours of your skin and eyes
And that already makes me disappointed. So I ask myself, when will the next life simulation game came out after this one? Never?

So let me share ideas. If one of the people reading this will steal these, I don't particularly mind. Because ideas are easy to come up with. Executing them is the problem.
Life simulation doesn't have to have Sims control scheme, or the lack of interactivity by being a text adventure with pictures. Let me tell you about the features that it could have.

What if for example, you had a chance to control your human in first person? Not trough the moments in life that would get you an adult only rating of course, but... Imagine if you could control your human yourself for for example extra work experience, extra skill point building, extra relationship building. What if what you worked as determined what you did trough out the day?
Oh, you work as a doctor, why not to play a surgeon simulator kind of mini game?
Oh you work as a cleaner, why not to play a less gross version of Viscera Cleanup Detail?
You're a manager? Want to play theme hospital? Perhaps Hotel Giant?
It would be hard to implement, but think of how much it would add to the game. And don't tell me that people wouldn't be interested. People would agree to clean virtual dishes for entertainment, as long as the game actually rewarded them for doing so.

Now think of that control being used outside of work place mini games. Perhaps we could add a crazy factor to it. Want to take out your microwave and throw it? Why not! Don't be surprised if it has repercussions though.

Now what about incorporating a dating sim into the mix? Picking up a partner shouldn't involve just pointless emote spamming. What if you actually had to use words to show that you care?

What about gradual aging? It would require a lot of models to go from baby to an adult and then a lot of texture changes to go from adult to an elder, but it would add depth.

What about such simple customization options as the ability to make your hair shorter or longer with a slider? Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion had it, so I don't think that it's impossible.

What about having different time periods to choose to play in? They don't have to be unlimited. They don't even have to progress, but player would appreciate the ability to choose.

All I'm doing here is spewing ideas at you all. Do I think that such game will ever come out? No. To put all those features in would be far too much work even for the most dedicated people out there. However perhaps someone could grab at least some of them, perhaps someone would be inspired to think about what could be done to life simulation genre as a whole and perhaps this post won't get lost in the sea of pointless Internet blogs and articles. All I want is for a bit more variety in the genre. I know that it sounds lazy, but I don't want to wait till I finish university and spend countless years working at my free time to actually see another game in the genre. I know that eventually I'll end up doing it, simply because the want to play won't go away, but in the mean time I would like someone to make a product and take my money.

Oh and while we're still here and on topic, EA is not all bad. They're giving away The Sims 2 for free with all expansions up until July 31st.
All you have to do is:
Download and install Origin
Create a free Origin Account
Launch Origin and log into your Origin Account
From the ‘Games’ tab in the Origin menu, select ‘Redeem Product Code’ and enter the code: I-LOVE-THE-SIMS
I understand not liking DRM. I don't like Origin either. Some call it a scam, some call it spyware. But it still doesn't change the fact that EA is giving out The Sims 2 for free on their official store.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Wildstar: my newfound addiction

I've fallen for yet another MMO. MMO that in the current stage is buggy, that's pay monthly, an MMO with grind in it and an MMO that does very little differently. And yet it feels right.

Now what is Wildstar? Wildstar is a recently released MMO made by Carbine studios (that consists of old World of Warcraft developers). What does it do new?
- it has a solely telegraph based combat system (video of a low level in-game adventure that I've filmed while in the beta to give an example of combat)

- housing

- costume and mount customization

- a wacky story based in space

But maybe what is new is the wrong question. Perhaps what we should ask is what is old?

- attunements
- 20 and 40 man raids
- 40 man warplots (a giant guild pvp thing)
- reputation grinds
- two factions fighting each other

One might find these old features repulsive. But I find them very much nostalgic. It's very hard to explain how remaking the old can create something special, but we have already seen this in the industry multiple times. World of Warcraft didn't do a lot of new. It took a lot of features from Everquest and just improved upon them. The same as Wildstar in a lot of ways feels familiar.

I don't know whether this bird will fall or fly. It has a lot of right things and a lot of wrong things (classes not very balanced, lots of bugs, botting and gold selling that the company is trying to fight very actively), however I already made enough memories to make this purchase worth it. And it did give me an idea to look back before moving forward. Is there anything in the game industry that we left in the 2000s? In the 90s? Even in the 80s? Was something forgotten like an old page in the book just because it was deemed outdated? Perhaps sometimes you don't need to be new to be right?

Sunday, 15 June 2014

guess who is back?

After my hand ins I went on a silence spree. And with a good reason. I needed to relax. However I wasn't just sitting on my bottom the whole time. I was busy playing, exploring, volunteering, moving... This summer is an active one for me. The next one is going to be even more so. Why? Because movement keeps away sadness, boredom and depression. Because contributing to the society throws you in groups of people that you don't know. It allows you to work on your confidence and networking. It also allowed me to get into plenty of debates and give me a lot to think about. That means that I have a lot of new things to write about! (That and my recent experiences with games). Either way this is just a post to show off my full hand in work for my digital arts module. It was far more work than I thought it will be and I only got a C for it, but work is work and I can still show it off (by the way, got an A in programming. My next year choice is most definitely right for me!)
Digital experimentation, all of the assets that I've done and the combinations of them

 pixel based road
 vector based road

vector based characters (this one was the most fun to draw, even though it was the one that I was worst at drawing)

vector based grass tiles

vector based general map assets (this is where I started. Then I expanded each asset category)

pixel based characters

pixel based grass assets

pixel based roads

pixel based house example

make your own house kit!
Now before we continue let me talk here for a bit.
First - what didn't upload? The pixel tree assets, but you'll see them being used further down.
If I had more time what would I spend extra time working on? Road and character assets. All were thrown together last minute and it shows.
What did I learn? When making your grass tiles, make your plants on the same sheet. Some grass tiles blended with the colour of my trees perfectly and obviously that meant that either some grass tiles were unusable or I couldn't use some trees.

If I didn't have to work on all of the assets what would I have spent my time doing? Thinking over the map layout and design. Out of the lack of time I went with very linear or circular map designs. If I could have just spent time designing the layout, rather than all the assets I could have done a better job over all.

Now let's head to combination and experimentation with assets! 

Map combination wise, what's wrong with these pictures? Well one, I could have played with sizes a lot more. Small trees, tall trees. It was supposed to be an isometric viewpoint, but it's not entirely right. Plus the fact that there's no depth of field bugs me. But as my first real digital arts work, it's not too bad.

Illustrating the problems with grass and plant assets:

there's a bush on the right.

plant assets on their own.
The overall lesson of this? I'm a programmer, not an artist. And that's exactly what my feedback said as well. Sometimes it's hard to take it in that no matter how hard you try, you still can't be good at everything, but it's for the best as we move on.

Now before I forget, this is a list of things that I want to discuss.
Salford Create Festival and my inability to understand art
Wildstar (the game that consumed my last 3 weeks)
my programming work
female characters, ubisoft and the recent media storm

Dear reader, if you just dropped in and none of those topics seem interesting to you, you're allowed to request topics. More to write about is always a good thing :)