Category Archives: One a Day

First thoughts: Duke Nukem: Forever demo

That’s right, I’m writing my thoughts about a demo. It’s been in development since the dawn of time, so I thought it was worth sharing my thoughts on it.

Despite the emails from Gearbox indicating that I was some sort of rabid fan, I was included in the Duke Nukem First Access club after buying the Borderlands: Game of the year edition. Still, despite my enthusiasm for the game waning over it’s 12 year development, it’s nice to be included.

My first thoughts? It doesn’t exactly look like a 12-year-old game, more like 6 or 7 years old – not exactly the best first impression. I was actually taken aback a little by how bad it looked in places; it’s obvious that it wasn’t ever going to look fantastic, unless it was released on got released on the first of many release dates,  but I expected an Xbox would be more than capable of running it without having jagged edges everywhere. I also wouldn’t have expected the minor performance issues while it looked as rough around the edges as it does.

Still, it’s essentially an old game being released on new platforms, so judging it on it’s graphics feels a bit like shooting fish in a barrel. Now, I remember seeing a preview for DN:F in the build up to it’s original release in a PC magazine and reading something about being able to shoot individual limbs off your enemies – quite a new idea at the time – and, as disturbing as that sounds, I was quite excited. I had fond memories of Duke Nukem 3D – I was probably 13 or 14 when I first played it, so it’s humour and crassness was perfectly pitched for me at the time – and this looked to be a great follow on.

Fifteen years have now passed since Duke Nukem 3D was released and I’m now 27, so I think it’s fair to say it’s not aimed at my age group anymore, and that’s where I think DN:F will struggle: If you played the original and there’s an element of nostalgia surrounding it, you probably aren’t going to be amused by being able to throw shit at the bathroom walls or topless women everywhere. If you were too young when the original was released and this sort of thing makes you “lol” and/or “rofl”, you’ll probably be put off by the graphics.

I expected to be disappointed, but I wanted to be wrong. It’s a brave move to take a game that’s been in development for so long – a game that’s become synonymous with delays in the gaming industry – and decide you’re going to release it after all, and you’d think that that was a sign of it’s underlying quality; It may be dated, but it’s still fun. Or not. The graphics in DN:F have clearly had some polish since it’s original development, but on the evidence of the demo, the gameplay hasn’t.

I was bored a few minutes in – there’s very little here to keep you interested, let alone excited about the full game. An early part of the demo level is, I assume, supposed to feel open, but it’s tiny by today’s standards and still feels sparse and sterile, and the AI consists of enemies running towards you and firing until you kill them. The controls don’t feel too bad, but then it’s very rare that an FPS will feel anything other than solid these days, so it doesn’t really stand out as anything other than average.

Amazingly, with my low, low expectations, I aimed too high. Yes, it’s only a demo, but what’s shown here just makes me want to brace myself for the bad reviews, and certainly doesn’t give me any cause for optimism; the groundwork for the game is here and it doesn’t look good. Still, at least you can still blow the limbs off your enemies, in a ‘shoot them until them disappear’ sort of way.

An upstanding member of the (online) community

I spent a lot of time today doing something I’ve not done for a long, long time: No, not doing work – don’t be ridiculous – I read and participated with people in a forum. Scary stuff.

In the build up to and shortly after Half-Life 2’s release I used to post fairly regularly at HalfLife2.net, posting a rather terrifying 1,239 times. I still check the site every now and then, but I very rarely check the forum for the same reason I avoid comment sections – the people who often use them fill me with a violent rage.

I ventured into the Project Zomboid forums today, initially to see if people had been experiencing the issues I was, and stuck around for quite a while to read some other people’s thoughts. Unfortunately, despite a promising start – people being helpful and nice ideas being discussed – an overwhelming wave of familiarity has since descended.

What worries me more, though, is the fact that I don’t seem to be able to stop reading. For some reason I want to help that nice new guy with his problem while simultaneously making that cocky argumentative prick look stupid. Gah. People, eh?

Information overload

I currently feel like I’m in some sort of information-induced coma due Microsoft and Apple holding their respective conferences at the same time, which is odd because despite some of the tech being showcased, I feel mostly indifferent about most of it; well, mainly the Xbox stuff. I’ve only really caught the headlines of the Apple stuff.

A brief glance seems to indicate that initial reactions to the Xbox E3 conference arent’t particularly good, but I actually think some of it looks fairly promising; voice-recognition in games, Kinect finger-detection – both could be great features if implemented well into games. Microsoft clearly agree with the first part of that, and not so much the second; I love Mass Effect, but I’m not convinced talking to my Xbox is the step forward it needs. Thankfully, these features are optional.

My expectations have always been very low when it comes to integrating Kinect into “core games”, as they’re so often described by marketing idiots, but I genuinely think the ideas aren’t all that disastrous; maybe I’m just relieved that it wasn’t a conference full of announcements for on-rails shooters of franchises I used to enjoy.

Now I just need to sit down and figure out why I was excited about Kincet Fun Labs.

Is there a keyboard shortcut for that?

Due to the bouts of rage brought on by Firefox 4, I have decided to switch back to Chrome for a short while to see how I adjust. It’s actually look quite promising so far, even without the bookmarks toolbar, which I decided to disable to save some space.

I find it odd how many habits I have while using the computer, mainly shortcuts I rely on; I’ll type any short or easy to type URL and press CMD-Enter instead of using the link in my bookmarks; it’s very rare I’ll actually click to open a new tab over pressing CMD-T; and a rather worryingly over-reliance on Alfred now that I’ve got used to it.

The main reason using my PC again was so strange was because I’d adjusted to the MacBook Pro trackpad and gestures; the amount of times I swipe four of my fingers down it to use Exposé is terrifying, frankly. I still struggle using a mouse with OS X now, but thankfully I have a wired keyboard now, so there’s a key for it at least.

I’ll persevere though: Even after having used it before, Chrome still seems blisteringly fast compared to Firefox, and I’ve always preferred the look of Webkit browsers anyway. I still have 1Password and the CTRL key is only two away from CMD, so it can’t be that hard to adjust, right? Right?!

Chrome ought to triumph anyway; I’ve just doubled the amount of RAM in this computer, so definitely going to be faster now. As long as it doesn’t freeze every time there’s a hint of Javascript to deal with, I’ll be happy. That’s right, Firefox, you useless shit.

Britain’s Got Talent in “fixed” shocker (maybe)

This could be the least surprising thing I’ve ever read, but I still found it quite interesting:

It’s long been known that there is a quite a degree of “fixing” in BGT. But press reports on “fixing” are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to SYCO’s manipulation of, not only the show and the contestants, but also the viewing public and hopefully, in this email, I can shine some light on the smoke and mirrors trickery of SYCO.

You can read the full thing here. (The link’s been removed by SYCO now, make of that what you will.)

Obviously there’s no way of knowing how true it is, but it makes a lot of sense: very little on TV is left to chance these days, so it’s not exactly a shock to that a lot of manipulation goes on. That hardly justifies some of the things claimed in the article though, assuming it is true.

I still think the most depressing thing about the entire situation is the fact the Britain’s Got Talent has been in any way successful. I’ve seen a few episodes of this series and felt confused about a couple of things:

Why is a French man, still living in France, allowed to audition for Britain’s Got Talent? I’m fairly sure he even had an interpreter with him to help understand the judges. I’m not going all xenophobic, I genuinely couldn’t give a shit, but I don’t understand why he was allowed – surely you should at least be resident here?

Where the fuck do all these dance troupes keep coming from? Stastically, if BGT is to be believed, you’re almost always sat next to someone involved a dance troupe. If the person sat next to you isn’t in one, you are – you may not know it yet, but you are. Astonishing, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Yes, today’s entries are brought to you by Other People’s Links™.

Half-Life: The trailer

I’ve posted at least one fan-made video for the Half-Life series before, but having put off watching the one below for a while yesterday I was blown away by it this morning.

I’m normally impressed by these fan-made videos, but often because they require skills beyond me and not because they’re as impressive as they’re often made out to be – they’re not bad, I’m just usually more impressed by the quality of them relative to the amount of people/money involved in making them.

The video above impressed me for two reasons: As it states at the start of the video, it’s made from 99% of the original game models etc., so the fact that it looks completely different to how Half-Life plays is entirely down to his editing and (incredible) animating.

The second reason is that it’s made me want to play on Half-Life again over the frankly ridiculous amount of games I’ve been meaning to play on lately, and that’s not easy. I’ll even turn off Project Zomboid. Imagine!

If you haven’t already played on Half-Life, why not take this opportunity! It’s only £6 on Steam (or £9 with a couple of add-ons) and it’ll probably run on your phone these days*. I’ve just seen it got a 96/100 rating on Metacritic too, which is insane and totally justified.

* It won’t actually work on your phone, but it probably has the processing power. If you somehow manage to get it working on your phone, please contact me immediately.

Project Zomboid: Saving your wife

I know I’ve posted about the game a few times now, but after being irritated by the Fraps FPS counter I realised I could record a video of my gameplay for anyone interested but not yet willing to part with a fiver to play it. So, for all you cheapskates, here is the tech demo tutorial. The text is easier to read in HD and full screen.

Here’s the short intro dialogue:

And the gameplay stuff, part one:

Part three:

And part three:

I had originally planned on uploading footage of the game from the moment it loads, but the recording was split into 6 rather large video files and I’ve spent far too long trying to get it to work as it is, so these will have to do.

If you feel like I’ve spoiled something by showing the end, I haven’t. This is just the tutorial and can be skipped in different ways. This is actually almost certain death as far as I’m aware, so it certainly doesn’t spoil the “story” – the game isn’t really supposed to have an overall narrative anyway, just a series of stories from individuals you encounter while making your own.

I would have cut the ending as a cliffhanger if video editing wasn’t such a monumental pain in the arse, mind. I should also stress that the game is infinitely more fun when you’ve done this and you’re let loose and trying to survive. It isn’t easy!