Y'know the term Renaissance Man, A.K.A. a Polymath, someone who excels at all fields they choose to dabble with? I'm like that, except for the "excels" part. Y|yukichigai: when nothing but second best will do.
Man, I update this blog infrequently. I'd like to think it's because I'm saving my posts for maximum awesomeness.
So, first thing's first: Deus Ex. Pretty much anybody who's going to read this blog knows it's one of my big passions. I've been working on Shifter for, what, almost 10 years now? Anyway, I've got a pretty good handle on Deus Ex and its code to say the least, so I finally decided to get off my duff on a project idea I had a few years ago.
As a lot of you who've played the game know, the "final" patch for Deus Ex still leaves behind a few things that are clearly bugs, even moreso in the Game of the Year edition (i.e. a patched retail copy of the game has music in the last NYC map, while the GOTY edition does not). Shifter addresses a lot of these... but then it's also Shifter on top of that; not everybody wants all the OTHER changes it brings.
With that in mind, I've started making a "Deus Ex v2.0" patch. Quite simply, this patch seeks to fix all the remaining bugs (and a few serious design flaws) that were left behind in the v1112fm and GOTY editions of the game. Now I say "I've started making", but that's only for the moment; ideally this will turn into group effort. At the very least I am openly (and persistently) soliciting input from the folks over at the migrated DXEditing forums about the progress of the patch, especially about the more unclear "design flaws" in the game. (Example: should Aggressive Defense be able to "detonate" thrown knives, darts, and even flamethrower fire? And why doesn't the "Item Received" window in conversations show you the amount of ammo you receive?) A lot of these seem pretty straightforward to me... but I may be biased. As someone else put it, this shouldn't turn into "Shifter Lite". I'm soliciting input on it though, which means YOU can help. Read the "Deus Ex v2.0" thread and weigh in on what I've laid out there.
Okay, so enough about that. On to S.T.A.L.K.E.R.
So, shocker, I like S.T.A.L.K.E.R. It took me a while to get around to playing it, but once I did I was quite hooked. I have to say, a lot of what's in the game are things I've always wanted for Shifter to do, e.g. the weight-based inventory system. Some of it is maddening too, like how weapons break and you CAN'T FIX THEM, but overall I still enjoy it. I'm working my way through the first game for a second time, this time with a mod installed. After that I need to move on to Clear Sky, and then Call of Pripyat.
The reason why I bring this up though is I've never been this hooked by any other game except Deus Ex. I've already got some mod ideas for the first game (bit late, but whatever) and I'm sure I'll have plenty for the second and third. The other thing that shocks me is that within the span of two months I've bought all three games on Steam. Usually I'm very hesitant to pick them up, waiting for a deal or a sale or something, but not this time.
So yes, sometime in the future expect some minor S.T.A.L.K.E.R. mods from me. Right now the first thing I'm going for is a system to make sure NPCs use the best weapon they have, and to allow them to scrounge for better weapons or let you give them better ones (I hate how the guys at Agropom are expected to take down two bloodsuckers with a couple of Viper 5s).
So last weekend I was at the Penny Arcade Expo. It's an annual trip for me, and while I don't get quite as much out of every exhibitor there as some people do I always manage to find something I really, really like every year. Last year it was a few pieces of random swag from several booths, including a small stuffed plushie "Salabounder" from some random online game. This year, however, it was hands down the booth that GarageGames had up. For those of you who don't recognize the name, GarageGames is a company made up of several old Dynamix employees, mostly ones who worked on Tribes and Tribes 2. In fact, after Sierra liquidated Dynamix, causing GarageGames to be formed, they had to hire the company to fix some bugs in Tribes 2. After that fun bit of poetic justice GarageGames came out with InstantAction, which features full 3d games, including FPSes, in your web browser, including a game called Legions which plays suspiciously like Tribes.
Yes, a lot of history hear. Bear with me here, I'm getting to the point.
GarageGames's booth featured a few things about their upcoming version of the Torque engine, a few other games, and of course InstantAction... and the new game they're going to add to it soon.
MOTHERF%$#ING TRIBES!!! YAAAAAYYYY!!!
I would have been just plain happy with normal, as-it-was-10-years-ago Tribes, but apparently one of the devs decided to update it and add some bugfixes and new features. Among other things, the game has a built-in HUD that tracks team flags (much like the third-party version I use normally), automatic skiing (you just hold spacebar down now, rather than having to hammer it or use scripts), and a neat little grid effect that shows you where the mission borders are. That's just what I noticed casually; I'm sure there's a lot more. Oh yes, the version I played was apparently version 1.40; just a random tidbit of info you might like to know.
I'm a Shifter player (the one that inspired the name for my own Deus Ex mod), which among other things features more weapons, more armors, and the ability to spawn in a favorite loadout. Basic, unmodified Tribes is tame by comparison, but damned if I didn't play it for probably close to 5 hours at that booth. (No I wasn't hogging it, there just wasn't really a line)
Of course, while I was there I learned a number of other interesting things, some of which I apparently could have already known:
- GarageGames has purchased the rights to the Starsiege universe, including the Tribes games, notably Tribes and Tribes 2. (The gentleman I talked to indicated that the company was considering merging their existing Legions game with the Starsiege universe.)
- GarageGames owns the domains for the original Tribes Master Servers, and has the full software for the Master Servers for both Tribes and Tribes 2. In fact, they were operating a PAX-specific Master Server for the event. Apparently the legitimate master servers should be back up soon, if they aren't already.
- The company is debating doing something with Tribes 2, but since the sudden re-awakening of Tribes 1 is apparently due to one of their devs (Justin?) waking up one morning and deciding "hey, I miss Tribes", there's no guarantee that Tribes 2 in InstantAction will go anywhere. I did ask about Tribes: Vengeance; the response I got involved the phrase "better use of our time". Can't say I disagree.
- A separate, updated client will be available for Tribes when they launch it on the website, the reasoning being that since the game is damn near 12 years old it's not like it'll deeply impact their sales or anything.
- Because the original Tribes was Windows only, the updated version, even the web version, will also be Windows only. Apparently porting the game to something an Intel-based Mac can run would be too time consuming. Again, can't say I disagree.
- Fallen Empires: Legions isn't currently moddable, and there are no plans to make it moddable, but the gentleman I talked to said something along the lines of, "we have a new version of our engine coming out which we intend to be highly moddable, and it would make sense for us to port our flagship title (Legions) to that engine." I can hardly wait.
There are other tidbits of information I'm sure I'm missing, but the bottom line is that TRIBES IS BACK. Soon, anyway. The various bits of swag they gave out (including a drawstring backpack and some sweet team-branded shirts) point you to the site playtribes.com, which at the moment still has links up for you to "Play at PAX". Eventually though this will change, so maybe you should bookmark that and keep an eye on it. In the meantime I'm going to dust off my Shifter_v1Y mod and get it ready for the coming Tribes Renaissance.
After a few months obsessing over Second Life I appear to have gotten it out of my system, for the most part. I'm still active on there, no doubt, but I'm not spending hours obsessively coding for the game anymore. As such, I am now back to spending hours obsessively coding for Deus Ex. YAY!
Of course, my renewed interest in Deus Ex happens to come just before I am set to leave for a few days. "Where to," you ask? The Penny Arcade Expo, as it happens! After attending the festivities last year I was quite sold on the experience, and purchased my ticket as soon as I could. This almost caused a problem this month, as with my new job my "weekends" are on Tuesday and Wednesday, rather than the traditional Saturday-Sunday which would have allowed me to take a single day off of work in order to attend. Fortunately my boss was willing to give me three days off -- unpaid, of course -- since I asked about a month ahead of time.
Anyway, I will be leaving for Seattle Friday morning, and I'll be back Sunday evening. This IS a geek convention though, so I may be online, but likely not to code. I try to make PAX a social event: less "Yuki coding alone", more "Yuki playing Smash with his friends" or "Yuki trying to be an Omeganaut."
So as many of you have probably noticed I have not been nearly as active within the Deus Ex community in the previous months as usual. There are several reasons for this, some of them fairly significant, and I felt I should update you on what's what. So, in no particular order, here's why I've not been hanging around my usual haunts lately:
1) I have a new girlfriend. Yes, that's right, we gamers do occasionally find real women to spend actual time with. Alas she is not a gamer herself, but my relationship with her is the most serious one I think I've ever had with another person. (e.g. we're probably moving in together next month) She is very understanding of my compulsive need to code, but at the same time she is a distinct and persistent distraction... no, a better offer than spending hours on the computer all day. Which is not to say that I don't most of the time still, just that much of my weekends are spent with her being all lovey and happy and generally sweet enough to give you cavities and diabetes.
2) My parents' company is in deep shit. Without going into too many specifics (so as not to potentially reveal personal info I don't want to give out) the company my parents started several years ago and have been working to build into a multi-million dollar enterprise is (for the time being anyway) dead, thanks mostly to horrible mismanagement by the current CEO. (Things like incurring massive debt and not bothering to tell the President, a.k.a. my father, about the hole the company was digging itself into) This isn't going to put them out on the street (hopefully) but it's made things VERY dicey for the next several months and possibly years. Understandably I need to chip in and help however I can, which is taking up a bit of my time.
3) I have been distracted by another game. Okay, I'll admit, something else shiny came along and caught my eye. I'll tell you what it is, but don't laugh.
I said, don't laugh.
Promise you won't laugh.
I have been caught up in the scripting capabilities within Second Life.
...you're laughing, aren't you?
Anyway, yes, I have been caught up in the most un-game-like game currently on the internet, Second Life. (Initially as a way to stay in touch with the new girlfriend as we live about an hour away from each other) The specifics of where my interests lie might surprise some of you, or come as no shock, but regardless I have found a LARGE need for someone with good coding skills. In particular, I've found a frustrating lack of free scripts of a certain variety, ones which are absolutely vital to people with the same interests as myself, and have taken it upon myself to create a free version of what others charge $500 in-game for. (What can I say, I'm a man of the people) I've almost finished that, but what may keep me on Second Life (aside from the people I interact with) is the potential for making a rather significant amount of in-game money with my talents, especially since in-game money can be exchanged for REAL money. (At a rate of about 250:1) It wouldn't be enough to live on exclusively, but it'd sure be nice all the same.
So anyway, now you know what's what. The first two issues I'm dealing with, and the third will be less of an issue now that the initial novelty of it is wearing off. Expect me to return to "active duty", so to speak... eventually.