The Ghost who walks, and sometimes drives, and sometimes parties with the desert creatures

RSS My Blogs  (0 - 10 of 15)

Here's the demo of my Cave Story mod - chocolate Sunday.

It's got a heavy focus on story and exploration, and tries to do something new and different.

The mod is available on PC (Windows) and PSP.

Download 1.0 (PC and PSP) -

After finishing up The Magnificence of Decay, I've resumed work on Chocolate Sunday, my Cave Story mod, as well as taken on mapping duties for the Far Cry mod The Delta Sector 2.0

I'm quite happy with the volume of downloads TMoD is getting, although I do wish for more feedback. I haven't played the mod since I released it. I just felt like taking a break. I think time gives clearer perspective when it comes to self-criticism. TMoD is a remarkable achievement, as far as I am concerned. I created something which exceeded my original ambitions.

The Delta Sector is a different kettle of fish. I'm working on it, alternating with development on Chocolate Sunday. TDS needs polish, but the basic framework of the mod is already in place. Right now, I'm focused on making the mod more playable. My first big change was reducing the AI sound distance for all the silenced weapons. Previously, they were useless in a stealth context.

Chocolate Sunday is still clunky and fragmented, but I'm slowly building it into what I hope will be one of, if not THE most captivating Cave Story mod ever made. I'm carefully polishing the writing, trying to give the mod overlapping layers of meaning.

The part I'm most proud of is the extensive sequence in which the player takes control of Sue when she first arrived on the island. The flashback is depicted in black and white, which was a significant technical challenge given Cave Story's limited sprite and entity tables.

I'm hoping for an April Fool's 2013 release date. It should be a delicious prank to unleash a REAL Cave Story mod on a date usually reserved for prank mods.

I was recently pondering the endgame scenario for The Magnificence of Decay (or the lack thereof).

I decided that I don't need one. Because the true escape from virtual reality is not a bunch of events simulating the event; instead it is the simple act of pressing ESC, and clicking QUIT.

TMoD is a personal meditation on the nature of social media, the internet, and the important place physical media must forever hold in a stable society.

Just as I decided that dialogue was too intrusive, and usable PCs are a logical method of conveying information to the player, the removal of a literal endgame scenario is a natural outpouring of the vague design ethos which has led me to this point.

When we build space-ships and venture out into the galaxy, we don't expect to find a questline. Exploration of the new and the unknown is an end in itself. That feeling of meaningless joy and discovery is what I am trying to replicate in this mod.

I'm rambling. To be honest, I'm having issues writing PC UIs. But I think everything is going to work out. I'm going to make people smile, remind people of the joy of exploring the landscape of a dream.

The difference between being and doing is often lost in videogames. We have very little idea what or who our character really is, because the character is defined almost entirely by what he or she does. Whether that's saving kittens or punching reporters in the face.

Games as an art form use words and actions as a proxy to express who the character is as an individual. Often poorly, I might add. A character can be just as defined by what they do _not_ do.

I honestly can't think of one that does it well. Games have tried, sure. I think of Tomb Raider letting you explore Lara's home.

The trouble, I think, is game devs having this "projection" obsession. They try to create universally relatable characters. But a character everyone can relate to tends to become a shallow stereotype.

Character is a slippery thing. You or I, we are still the same person before and after a change in opinion. But game characters are often defined by a single attribute; a like or dislike, a political opinion.

I think perhaps Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker did a good job by having, literally, recorded audio interviews with Naked Snake. Naked Snake is a deep, poignant man. He is not defined by the running joke that he repeats nouns as questions.

I haven't been working on Chocolate Sunday very much recently. That's my confession out of the way. I've been far too busy trying to get TMoD to a state where it's fit for release.
But I am still working on the project. I'm thinking about it as I lay awake at night. Occasionally jotting down a plot idea of a lyric or a joke which comes to me, and interests me enough to warrant inclusion in my pet project.
Chocolate Sunday.
I want to create something magical: something which gels with Pixel's Cave Story universe and feels enjoyable both as a game and as a story presentation. Which is curious, because I dislike presentations. I can't bear to see a powerpoint slide, but when you strip away the gameplay, a 2D platformer often consists of portraits popping up and text appearing with that 'brrr' sound common to Japanese visual novels. In fact, I've used VN-like techniques to overcome technical limitations of Cave Story modding. Why bother trying to animate a crazed mimiga when you can just fade to black and give a much more detailed description of what occurs, before fading back in and handing control to the player?

I can't help but see some similarities between myself and Konjak, -- -- the creator of Iconoclasts. Sure, he's way more talented. And his games are better than my attempts at modding. But his artistry is something I admire and aspire to.

I'm still working on Chocolate Sunday - my Cave Story modification. Here are some new screenshots...

At the same time, I'm having to balance my workload enough to get The Magnificence of Decay finished before June 10...

I had a great idea for a faux-documentary the other week, as I was ruminating about Greenpeace and sharks and those arab kids who make imitation glocks.

*Landmines: Gentle Creatures of the Plains*

Our intrepid white male host squats in the mud. Behind him, propaganda posters of children with limbs blown off.

Voiceover: I always believed landmines were dangerous. I'd been indoctrinated by years of Hollywood propoganda. Mines were consistently shown with negative subtexts: injury, distress, decapitation, death. It took me years to finally understand the extent to which I'd been indoctrinated.

Montage: moody lighting. Defused landmines being thrown into pits. Host looks wistfully at camera.

Why? The Hayes code was abandoned in the 60's. Yet in 2012, here were these same images. Always negative.

Cut back to Host:

Host fingers through mud carefully.

Host: How can people have been so ignorant for so long? These gentle creatures only hurt people if people step on them.

Montage: more propaganda footage of landmines attacking humans.

Host: Coming up next, we'll explore the evolution of the landmine. On Landmines: Gentle Creatures of the Plains.

*commercial break*

I've bitten the bullet and decided that I am going to release my Far Cry modification, The Magnificence of Decay. But the mod I will release is not going to be the same mod I've spent 2-3 years toying with. I'm going to polish up the existing gameworld, but the original plot and gameplay have been canned. The mod was originally a dialogue-heavy adventure game with a companion character and talking rabbits.

After playing Skyrim, I've come to realise that exploring an environment and solving puzzles is an end in itself. This is the new focus of the mod - the player will be plonked in the urban environment with no explaination, no plot, no dialogue. Gameplay consists of finding objects which serve as keys to access building interiors: some of these interiors contain puzzles. There will be secret areas and easter eggs. The mod is like a tour through my very unique brain.

I WILL release TMoD before the 10th June 2012. That gives me a good window. So it could be released in June, could be released today.

Merry Christmas.

Ambient_Malice Blog

Today is Christmas. Got some presents. Skyrim is still late. Watched Tim Allen in The Santa Clause.

I'm gonna drag the mood down a bit now.... I'm a little bit over Google's blatant disregard for Christian holidays. HOLY DAYS, for the linguistically savvy.

How hard is it, Google? You really think people don't notice? Tim Allen got in trouble for skipping Christmas in Christmas with the Kranks. Yet you do it year after year, without having the balls to come clean and admit you've got a problem.

Ah, but that's life. I should just focus on work.

Chocolate Sunday is coming along nicely. Very nicely indeed.

Plus, I've been lurking on 4chan. My brain hurts.

It's been 13 days since I ordered Skyrim. The postal service is running slow, on account of Christmas.

But if it doesn't come by tomorrow, Friday, I'll have to wait until after Christmas.

I really want to taste that awesome.

In other news, I've reduced the number of sidequests in Chocolate Sunday from 32 to 24. This will allow me to bug-test much more extensively.

I'm mulling over what to do with TMoD. It's in a very unfinished state, but it's unlike any other Far Cry mod out there. Maybe I should reduce the story and just make it a nice world to explore...