Sunday, December 28, 2008

What I've been up to: Frisk

Playing with Adobe Illustrator has yielded this little piece after a week of fiddling with it. This is my first legitimate Illustrator work, although I did run something through livetrace once. I do have to say, vector art is crisp. I took a graffiti sketch that I doodled in my delightful EGR 100 class (note: sarcasm), redrew it larger and cleaner in a sketchbook I keep around, and then I went to town with Illustrator. I'm thinking about topping it off in Photoshop with a cool background (probably something with all of those cool Photoshop brushes floating around on the internet).

Monday, December 22, 2008

Assassin's Creed Review

So I just beat Assassin's Creed for the XBox 360, and I have to admit that it has been a while since a game left me crying for sequel.  The core plot that the game play objectives revolves around, but the main plot is just getting set off when the game ends.

People told me that Assassin' Creed is marred by weird futuristic elements, but I disagree.  These thoughts are spawned from the misconception that Assassin's Creed is a Crusade game, and this is a misconception that I myself shared when I started the game.  By the time I was halfway through the game, all elements of "futurism" and the lack of interaction with historic Crusader figures and events were completely forgiven, because Assassin's Creed is actually more of a conspiracy theory game revolving around Holy Grail type artifacts and their influence in the game's modern and ancient time frames.  Due to this, I actually enjoyed the futuristic elements.

As for the game play, it kept me both satisfied until the plot fully hooked me and at the same time greatly enhanced the themes of the game all of the way through.  At its core Assassin's Creed is Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, with many of the same game play elements reappearing in Assassin's Creed.  However, instead of having the elements of the environment set up like a puzzle  with only a few solutions, it is just covered with all of the banisters and ledges and scaleable walls so that running and leaping through the cities is very fluid.  Furthermore, the battles also require much more strategy than Prince of Persia and give the player more control.

In the end, I have decided that Ubisoft took their great game play they developed for Prince of Persia and turned it into something with a much deeper level of plot, character development, and freedom for the player; and what they came up with was Assassin's Creed.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Manatee Quest: Latest Build

So I just got back from some awesome snowboarding and some ridiculous winter storms.  The snow was plentiful up in the glorious state of Michigan and it was great for boarding, but it was a pain to drive through.  Now that I'm home in Indiana, an ice storm's covered my entire city and the trees are all bent into weird shapes until it warms up again.

Anyways I've finally found the time to put an update out on Manatee Quest's status after concluding my first semester at MSU.
The above screen shot shows a close up to the cabbage I modeled in Maya. I've got a simple rotator script on them right now but I think I might write a script to make them bob up and down for a better effect. I also have a working counter that displays on the game HUD which is visible in the following shots.

Also in this shot is a cube that I hooked a rigid body onto and got Unity's physics engine interacting with the Manatee properly.  This is a result of fiddling with the Manatee's collider because Unity would not allow me to turn it's Character Controller collider sideways.  In the end I'm satisfied with the result, which you can see demonstrated in the final shot.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

It's been a week

I haven't posted anything new in about a week due to the ever delicious time that is finals week.  I just did the math and I think I got exactly a 3.5 in CSE232.  I hope my math's right.  One point less and its just a boring old 3.0.  So anyways I'm back home on winter break, planning to set up my laptop with all the Microsoft software that the CSE department hooks its students up with as soon as I buy some DVD's to image Windows on to.  From there I'm going to try to spend some serious time with Adobe Creative Suite.  Manatee Flash games anyone?

More exciting than all that computer business though is: SNOWBOARDING!  I'm spending a couple of days up at the glorious Nub's Nob in northern Michigan and hopefully later into break I'll hit up Bittersweet that's a little closer to my home in Indiana.

So I've got big plans of snowboarding and video game dev projects, but all I'm really doing right now is playing Assassin's Creed and Bioshock.  Both of which are superb.  And I'm finding some sweet new Hip-Hop to listen to when I'm the mood for it.  Right now I definitely recommend: Sleep, 7L&Esoteric, Atmosphere, and Grayskul if your in the mood for some quality Hip-Hop.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Black Days indeed

I would have liked to write something about this sooner but I've been bogged down with end of term projects for my classes. Anyways as most Americans know, last Friday was "Black Friday," the biggest day for retail in the United States. It's the day that virtually every store is having one of their biggest sales of the year at the same time that everyone who shops their is starting their holiday shopping.

Yeah, it's a big deal for the video game industry, because the strength of sales on Black Friday can help indicate how strong of a Christmas season is approaching, but I just found myself disturbed by the events of this past Friday. I felt that competitive shopping that had always been described as vicious, had hit a new low when I heard that a Walmart employee had been trampled to death when he attempted to unlock the front door of the store. The crowd was so wild that medical help couldn't get to him to try to save him.

I've heard of some crazy incidents involving Black Friday shopping, but this past one struck me as little bit more perturbing than usual. It wasn't an altercation between two customers vying for the same product (which happened last Friday as well), but was actually the collective consumers as a whole killing the employee.

Honestly, I don't blame Black Friday shenanigans on the stores offering bargains, I put the blame mostly on the consumers. Sure some store is offering you a deal that might save you some money (maybe even a couple hundred dollars if its TV or computer), but is it really worth killing someone? Would you kill someone if I offered you a hundred dollars in cash?

Sure it was a death caused by a mob, and it might seem like a stretch to equally blame everyone in the crowd with the murder of the employee, but its not a stretch to infer the inverse argument. Nobody in the crowd helped that man. Nobody in that crowd would help him for free. Maybe they didn't kill him for money, but no one would step up to be a good Samaritan.

That's disgusting. I listen to a very broad range of music and end up attending a lot of concerts where its not uncommon the crowd and the mosh pits to be more than a little violent. However, there's a sort of unspoken code of ethics at concerts involving people that fall down. They get picked up. If you ignore them or blatantly get in the way of someone helping a person on the ground, there is a good chance that a lot of people you've never met are suddenly going to want to hurt you, because ignoring a person in need is just not going to fly.  If people at punk rock and metal concerts, who are all too often labeled as delinquents, won't let a person get trampled to death, why won't the high and mighty consumer stop to help someone up?

The sad thing is that the Walmart employee probably needed the money the shoppers saved more than they did.