Too Human? Try Too Short.

August 25, 2008

This blog post contains spoilers about the game Too Human. Don’t read it if you’re playing it now…not that it’ll take you long to finish….

OK…the game is a not-as-good version of Diablo, although it’s effectively got a Norse mythos cyberpunk thing going on. It’s 3D, yes…but it’s linear 3D. That is, you can’t jump over a railing that’s waist height, even though you can jump 30 feet in the air to smack an enemy.

The problems don’t end there, though. You can find yourself in a ‘dungeon’ fighting a boss monster, and once he dies, without your doing anything, you’re teleporting back to home base, and find yourself in the middle of a cutscene. Linear narrative it ain’t.

There’s also these cyberwells that let you enter an idyllic cyberworld where you can do rudimentary things like push a door open. This has the symbiotic effect of opening a locked door in ‘the real world.’ Oh boy. Never saw that game mechanic before. It’s a waste of time because there’s no puzzle solving required. You walk up to the well, hit A, then walk down the linear path until you get to a glowing circle. Stand on the circle and pull one of the triggers. Walk back down the linear path to the well and re-enter the real world. I know. So clever, I’m wondering where my Nobel prize is for solving it.

You’re a God, in theory, but you can’t walk through tall grass, over waist high walls, or even knee high dips or rises in height. Unless you’re supposed to go there, in which case, you can blast gaping holes in several foot thick walls, if needed.

Still and all, most of that might be forgiven if the game were more than eight hours long. Yes, the combat system is quirky, and of course, like Diablo, it’s a huge lootfest, and the monsters are largely one of four types. With all that, the story is a retelling of the old Norse myths, and not a bad one.

Save for the fact that after you go to Helheim to kill Loki’s daughter, Hel, Loki is nowhere to be found, you see a cutscene that shows Loki with a big mechanized giant, and a VoiceOver saying that we have no idea where Loki is, but we have to find him, because he’s probably doing something bad.

No shit.

And then the game ends. Took me 10 hours, even with all the cutscenes, and leaving it alone for stretches at a time while I grabbed a drink or got the phone.

The game took over 10 years to make, and we get a cliffhanger ripe for a sequel? Fuck that.

If I’d paid for this, I’d be pissed.

Yeah, it’s OK…but all that wasted potential makes me sick.

This one’s a rental.


On my way to work…

August 18, 2008

Well, it’s finally cooled down some. It was 80 degrees for a few days last week, and now it’s a nice 65, with it hitting about 72 today….you know, if you believe such forecasts.

It’s interesting to me, because a simple ten or fifteen degrees makes a huge difference between way too hot and really comfortable.

I’m sure I have a number of friends and family in engineering and medicine who could tell me why that is, but I’m pretty content knowing that it’s true.

In other news, my good friend Adam is moving out to Seattle on Wednesday. It’ll be awesome to have a long-time friend in relatively close proximity. He’ll be staying with us until he finds a place, which, knowing Adam, won’t be too long.

I’ve also been playing Too Human for the last week…even though it comes out on Tuesday. Lots of messages from friends asking how I’m playing it already. Definitely one of the best work perqs I’ve ever gotten on the twenty years I’ve been working.

Free games, and getting them a week or more before street date? It’s like game geek heaven.

Looking around the bus, there has to be at least twenty people with ipods and iPhones. Maybe Apple should quit with the overpriced and underwhelming computers they’ve been putting out for the last several years and stick to handhelds. And no, I’m not talking about the Newton.

Busy day today, so more later.


To Code or Not to Code…

August 12, 2008

This morning, I’ve started to brainstorm iPhone apps.

I’m doing some basic research on what it’d take for me to put together a couple of things for my iPhone.

Apparently, the basic dev kit from Apple is $99. Of course it is. Well, to be fair, the dev kit is free, but the docs, training resources, and access to the iTunes store for distribution of your apps is $99.

Anyway, I’m seriously considering paying for the kit. Maybe I’ll build something I could sell….


Not Feeling Inspired this Morning

August 8, 2008

But it’s Friday.

So I got that going for me…which is nice.


Missed the bus.

August 7, 2008

Seeing as I’ve just missed my bus, I have some time, so I figured I’d do a quick blog post.

I’ve been making molds of tiny little plastic bits so that my friends and I can replicate hard or impossible to find Warhammer bits. So far, I’ve cast a Tau Firewarrior shoulder pad, an Eldar back flag (although it looks Japanese…), and last night, I cast a tabard that was pretty tough to do.

Overall, they came out great. I guess I remembered all the crazy stuff I picked up at Broadcast Arts about 17 years ago.

I have a lot of varied experience. I think probably more varied than most people. I’ve always attributed that to the fact that I get bored easily. But the older I get, the more I think it’s more likely the fact that I’m just naturally curious about a lot of things, particularly things that have to do with making things, or generally useful skills.

I read reference books for fun, I’m not afraid to take on a project like installing a power outlet, and I think, most importantly, I’m pretty sure I can do just about anything I set my mind to accomplishing…projectwise, anyway. (Yeah, don’t give me that “”oh yeah? Can you fly? Can you live without air? Crap either…smartass.)

I think growing up, my mom used to tell me that I could do anything if I just set my mind to it, buckled down, and just did it. She even managed to smile when I disassembled her watches, her appliances, or, once, her television. Got into all manner of trouble like that.

But somewhere in high school, I started being able to put things back together…or fix them when they broke. The more things I tried, the better I got at everything…as if the ability to fix a blender applied to carpentry.

I joined Stage Crew and built theatre sets. I helped my friends renovate parts of their parents’ houses. We built and rebuilt bicycles, then cars. I had always been involved in computers, but now I was able to assemble or modify hardware, and hack code to get such things to work. I remember getting a black and white security cam hooked up to my Apple II and having it dither images on the monitor on the fly.

I can’t claim to be an expert in most of this stuff. I mean, I’m not a bad hand at coding, and I’m decent with electronics…overall, I guess I’m pretty handy.

So why mention any of this at all? Because when I poured resin into a latex mold I’d just made, waited for it to kick, then set, and pulled an exact replica of the piece I cast out of the mold, I grin and say “where the fuck did I learn to do that?”

The answer? Maybe I didn’t. Maybe I just read something, or asked somebody a bunch of years ago, or maybe I just looked at it all, and kind of figured it out based on stuff I did know. My father did teach me basic ceramics…he was a shop teacher (among other things) and his specialty was ceramics…molds, slip, pours, greenware, and so on. Maybe I just tied that to stuff I picked up at Broadcast Arts, along with some basic online research and the fearlessness that comes along with saying “what’s the worst that could happen?”

Either way…I can now make molds and cast resin replicas.

Anyone need a Tau shoulder pad? :)


On my way home…

August 5, 2008

So, it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 degrees out there.

Naturally, the bus isn’t air conditioned. The windows are all open…but because of the parking lot traffic we’re in, it’s not really helping much.

Whatever. I think I’ll be home within the half-hour…whereupon I’ll be grabbing an icy cold root beer and going to sit on my deck for an hour before I go cast a mold from a part my friend gave me.

The part, one of those flags that Japanese ashigaru used to wear to indicate liege or unit or whatever, is apparently a real pain in the ass to find at any price…and Chris wants a mess of ’em.

So I’ll make him the mold, and he can pour as many as his little heart desires.

I’m not sure that I really needed the casting materials…but I certainly am enjoying working on crafts again.

I wonder what else I can do with the moldmaking and resin casting…


On the bus…

August 4, 2008

So I’m standing here writing a blog post while waiting for the bus.

This is exactly what I had in mind when I migrated to WordPress.

A long time ago, GM O’Connell set the bar for digital marketing at Modem Media: Marketing should be so good, that it’s considered a product or service by the people viewing or interacting with it. In short, it shouldn’t be “buy this” or interrupt whatever it is you’re doing, but rather should be providing you the information you want, when you want it, how you want, where you want.

If brands did this, people would be more inclined to engage their brands in dialogue.

An example might be (for me, anyway…) a widget that sits on my desktop and let’s me know the release dates of all the videogames coming out in the next three months and provides me with links to previews, screenshots, and reviews…oh, and links to allow me to purchase the game, should I decide to do so.

I’m not saying that there’s no room for above the line…you can’t do awareness or major shifts in perception without it. But somewhere, sometime, someone decided to replicate the old model of advertising when they created the banner ad…let’s go ahead and interrupt whatever it is the viewer/reader is doing and ask them to do something else. Yes, Modem Media…I’m calling you out.

We weren’t thinking of a new paradigm…we were taking what we knew, and applied it to a new medium. It worked for a while. Now, like tv commercials, people ignore banner ads. A very successful banner ad achieves a clickthrough rate of about 1.5%. That’s ridiculous. One and a half out of every hundred people take some sort of action based on a banner ad, and that’s considered a success.

There’s a better way to market to consumers. Are you listening, Xbox?

Anyway, getting close to work, so I’ll close now…but I’m gonna call the remote blogging plan a success.

Expect more babbling from the bus!