Unrest – Basic Modding Tutorial

Unrest

Hey there prospective mod-makers. I’m Ross, the lead scripter on Unrest (if you squint hard enough you can catch my name as it zips by in the credits, just in time to mispronounce it). I’m here today to give a basic introduction to modding for our game, following through on setting up the mod directory structure by making a basic playable scenario from scratch.

For this tutorial there are a few requirements:

-A basic text editor or some other software which can safely parse and edit XML. We use Notepad++.
-A plucky go-mod-‘em attitude.

Pretty steep. Once that’s in order you’re ready to start.
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Half House Warface: Tentface

Previous: Half House FTL: Nightmare Fuel

Link (Youtube)

At some point this month, a banner for an F2P game materialized on Steam’s front page. I like to think it did so in a plume of acrid black smoke, triggering fire alarms and filling nostrils with the cloying reek of week-old bottled flatulence, worldwide. This banner was a picture of a man’s face; emblazoned with the word FACE, preluded by the word WAR.

I looked at it. Azalius looked at it. Euthanasia looked at it. We all burst out laughing.

Then Azalius clicked download. The laughs turned to screams and desperate pleading.
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Full House Lords of Shadow EP9: The Butterfingers Aspect

Previous: Lords of Shadow EP8: Smack It

Link (Youtube)

The year is 2014. The hour: nigh. Five brave souls set out to chronicle the horror that is Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. They are Samwise “Better-Than-8-Bit” Taxgee, Doctor “Quicktime” Euthanasia, Rotational Butterfingers Azalius, “Awkward” Jonathan Grant, and Ross “Warg Warrior” Zevenhuizen.

This level is a little suspect. After fighting that boss we already fought which itself was just a maudlin imitation of Shadow of The Colossus, we get this place. With the exception of the giant honking dudehead I swing under the nose of right before the end we’ve seen every bit of this geometry before somewhere. It’s the same palette, textures, models, theme, enemies, tactics, sound, and context. The only new thing is fairies. In other words, it’s a 25-minute level that exists solely to give us an item so we can use it… as a key.

For a game with no story at the time this area was created, it’s remarkably good at wasting our time. Continue reading

Full House Lords of Shadow EP8: Smack It

Previous: Lords of Shadow EP7: The Moment

Link (Youtube)

After a month-long hiatus wrapping up development on Unrest I return to finish off this… exemplar of a long-running franchise gone mad. Expect more regular updates from here on out; Azalius and I have been up to some nefarious F2P deeds again. But today? Today I pit my patience against a rock, Grant has Kefkaesque aspirations, Azalius lets off some steam regarding Mercury, the Doctor can see the pixies, and Sam is jaded by this game’s brazen disrespect for our time.

And here we are, still fighting. I fast-forwarded last episode, I showed off the mechanics, I let you fine folk revel in the Titan’s majesty. Now watch me “fight” it, with the aid of editing, to a harrowing finish. In its natural state this single encounter literally took an hour, where every member of the House got up at some point or another to do something else. They all got back before I was done.

And then I realized the developers hid a shadow crystal in the boss arena.
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Full House Lords of Shadow EP7: The Moment

Previous: Lords of Shadow EP6: Bombastic Shadow Gremlin Sweepstakes

Link (Youtube)

This time Grant eats breakfast for dinner, Euthanasia knows all the colours of the darkness rainbow (but won’t join its side), Sam foreshadows the light but discovers it’s actually dog feces, Azalius can’t washroom break himself out of this one, and I’m still waiting for my moment.

Whoever directs the cutscenes in Lords of Shadow has a problem. I’m an amateur compositor at best, and when I can cut the game’s cutscenes in half – post-production – such that they lose nothing and actually work better than before, something is very wrong. It’s like every cut starts long before the primary action, and lingers around for no good reason afterward. We don’t see a gremlin fly down to menace Gabriel – we see Gabriel walking along, then looking ahead suspiciously, then a Gremlin preparing to menace, then a Gremlin menacing… and menacing… and menacing… and then another shot of Gabriel just standing there, waiting for the cutscene to end so he can spring into action.

Lots of games get flak for having too many cutscenes and not enough gameplay. Not content with such ordinary criticisms, Lords of Shadow shoots for the dubious distinction of having cutscenes that are way too long for what they accomplish. What am I getting at? Well today we spend two minutes and twenty-six seconds watching a boss get up so it can fight us. Nothing else happens during this scene. No, I’m not kidding. Welcome to Lords of Shadow!

Full House Lords of Shadow EP6: Bombastic Shadow Gremlin Sweepstakes

Previous: Lords of Shadow EP5: Fleamendacity

Link (Youtube)

Today things get a bit goblinoid. I strut my unfortunate knowledge of magical mighty heroism, Azalius runs up against an invisible wall, Sam speaks the unspeakable spoiler, Grant revels in the execution of voice-acting more than is necessary, and somebody fed the Doctor after midnight.

The thing with Lords of Shadow is that it’s a slick and shiny beauty pageant of a game with a rotten soul. It’s not ugly, clunky, scrappy Dead Island which is so often a joy to play because of its rough edges, weird interactions, and baffling mistakes. It’s not a formative experiment that shaped modern game conventions like Oni. It’s the archetypal Hollywood star – all flash and taglines with nothing substantive underneath.

On a technical level Lords of Shadow is a game with the edges sanded completely off, inlaid with silver, and buffed to a mirror shine. Gabriel transitions seamlessly through all of his animations, combat has real weight behind it, the UI is straightforward and has panels for puzzles you only see once in the game, cutscenes are directed to their own score and voiced by celebrity actors. No expense (save artistic restraint) is spared in the sweeping backdrops and hordes of enemies. It oozes polish, and that’s legitimately impressive.

And then we play the actual game. Continue reading

Full House Lords of Shadow EP5: Fleamendacity

Previous: Lords of Shadow EP4: Stablemaster X – Rodeo of Blood

Link (Youtube)

This time on Full House we ride more things! Into other things! Also, I am a historian of the fairy-demon boobwars, Euthanasia is a ninja-flipping mass of terrible jigglephysics, Azalius bares some unfortunate truths, and Grant makes a bunch of scarring mammaries. Sam… well, he’s just kind of a boob all over.

Fleamen aren’t the censor Lords of Shadow deserves, but they are the one it needs. If you’ve any other ideas, though, please do send them our way. Full House is back on schedule.
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The Lineup – Thiaf Souls

It’s been one of those weeks: Grant’s asleep in the wake of a thorough haranguing by pizza-mad consumer hordes, Sam’s carrier pigeon is getting lost with the data packets for his internet halfway somewhere over New England, and brother dearest is in search of a job (as a game programmer no less – he need only show prospective employers a copy of Monkey Cycle and take the job from their spasming, screaming ruin). Azalius and I hold the course, however. There’s only one thing for it. I have to write about games. Dire stuff, I know.

This month I’ve been playing…

Thi4ef

The Lowdown:

A spiritual successor to Thief: Deadly Shadows created by Eidos Montreal, a development studio with a memory exactly ten years long that can’t fathom what made the original pair of Thief games superior to their latter-day counterpart with its tortured development cycle, plethora of bugs and engine issues, disappointing AI, claustrophobic levels, immersion-breaking third person camera shifts, single colour palette, and clumsily overbearing writing. So naturally, Thief 2014 is a game with a tortured development cycle, more bugs than Starship Troopers, shed-sized levels broken up into frustrating loading screens, disappointing AI, more third person camera shifts, a colour spectrum of blue, bluish, and darker blue… and some spectacularly wretched penmanship paired with a story that makes no sense on any level. Continue reading

Full House Lords of Shadow EP4: Stablemaster X – Rodeo Of Blood

Previous: Lords of Shadow EP3: Lycans Ahead, Warthogs Behind

Link (Youtube)

Tonight. I’m an fire-singing, web-slinging airplane, Sam is a sepia-toned progression system skillmaester, Azalius is an expansive hit-staggering vista, Grant’s driven down the wall by Gabriel’s short bus, and the doctor is a full-spectrum evildoer.

This is undeniably the Episode Of Riding Many Things. I should’ve seen it coming after looting that warthog whip, but spiders? Trolls? What more can Gabriel possibly mount? I think particular acclaim goes to the segment wherein a spider derps its way over a bridge we need to cross, purely to fight Gabriel, only for him to sit on its head and make it weave him a web-bridge too small for it to cross, trapping both of them on a tiny plateau until he’s forced to kill it in order to escape.
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