Just dropping In

I’m back!  Kind of.  I’m on three weeks of break between school quarters so let’s make this quick so I can get back to not doing anything productive!

 New Games

  • Unreal Tournament III (PS3)
  • Unreal Tournament III (360)
  • Rage of the Gladiator (WW)
  • ShadowPlay (WW)
  • GhostSlayer (WW)
  • Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Calibur  (VC – N64)
  • Monster Hunter Tri (Wii)
  • Military Madness (VC – TGFX 16)
  • Red Steel 2 (Wii)
  • Watchmen: The End is Nigh – The Complete Experience (PS3)
  • Portal (Steam – PCDL)
  • Grill-Off with Ultra Hand (WW)
  • MechWarrior 4 (PCDL)
  • World of Goo (PCDL)
  • Penumbra: Overture (PCDL)
  • Lugaru HD (PCDL)
  • Gish (PCDL)
  • Aquaria (PCDL)
  • Samarost 2 (PCDL)

Not quite as many games as last update but probably the one with the most PS3 games added.  Unreal Tournament III I bought because I would be able to import my level from my Level Design class into the game.  I was able to do it last weekend after some fiddling with the toolset.  The level works just fine but I can’t get the level preview screenshot to work correctly.
End is Nigh I picked up when I was in something of a Watchmen craze.  I had ordered the Ultimate Cut on blu-ray but I figured there’d be times when I would want to see the movie but not necessarily the Ultimate cut, and since the Watchmen Director’s Cut Blu-ray was only like $3 cheaper than the End is Nigh version that includes the games, I figured I’d go with that.  I basically look at it more as having bought the movie (since it includes all the special features from the regular blu-ray release) with the games as a special feature as opposed to overpaying for a mediocre game with the movie thrown in.
Most of the downloaded PC games were from an indie game bundle some of you might remember where they let you name your own price for everything.  MechWarrior 4 is being offered for free from MekTek and Portal I picked up on Steam just because they were giving it away.
Monster Hunter?  Oh man, when I first got that game my school productivity plummeted.  After having it only a few weeks it’d already become my most played Wii game, beating out SSBB and FFCC:My Life as a King (don’t ask me how but I somehow racked up nearly as many hours in that than I had with Twilight Princess).  If anyone has it, I’d be happy to join up for some quests.  I stopped playing (in order to focus on school) at level 27 and have since fallen way behind my cousin who picked it up the same day.  I was still hunting for one last Rathlos plate to complete my armor set.

 So E3 was last week, huh?

I actually didn’t follow E3 as closely this year as I did last year, partially because it was held during my finals week.  The only Press Conference I saw live was Nintendo’s, which left me incredibly impressed.  Being the Nintendo fan that I am, I was incredibly impressed by their performance.
Earlier this week I saw Microsoft’s Press Conference here on GT and was close to killing myself.  While Natal is certainly an impressive piece of technology, I can’t say it was incredibly impressive at the conference.  Everything they showed had an immediate analog on the Wii; even Your Shape appeared on the Wii last year with camera support.
I have to admit the new Xbox 360 looks nice, though it looks like they might have changed things a little too much and in the end, made it incompatible with a lot of current Xbox 360 accessories.  At this moment, I’m not sure if the Xbox 360 media remote control is supported (since there is no visible IR sensor), the currently available memory cards aren’t supported, nor are the existing hard drives.  Granted, the console does a lot to make up for these, like adding more USB ports and having more flexible hard drive support (if you’re willing to crack open the hard drive housing that’s included), built in wireless N, and while I’m certainly tempted, in the end, I’m happy with my set up.
I still haven’t seen the PS3’s press conference but I have read up on the highlights, and while the Playstation fans will certainly tell me it was a great conference, I’m not really interested enough in Sony’s properties to really be excited about anything they showed or announced.  On that note, however, one of my former professors left the school about a year ago to work as lead level designer on Killzone 3.

 School and its Break

I’m currently at the end of my first week of three that I’m off from school.  This quarter was particularly difficult, mostly due to some fault of my own.
Hard Surface & Organic Modelling: This class wasn’t too bad, actually.  It really was more of an intro to Maya class, though they expected a little more from us (since we’ve all had experience with 3DS Max) than they would have from someone completely new to 3D Modeling in general.  Our first project was to model a ghetto liquor store.  This was about the time Monster Hunter started getting in the way so I ended up doing a lot of it the last weekend with some help from my friend.
Our second project was modelling a character and an environment for it.  I did some Cthulhu/Zoidberg thing approaching a lighthouse during a storm.  This project went by a lot smoother than the previous one.  My only major problem was with the renderer; since different portions of my scene only rendered well using one renderer and not the other.  I ended up going with the Mental Ray renderer which handled everything except the particle rain; which sucked because I spent a good long while on that  rain.  Oh well.
3D Animation: This class was part  horrible, part not so horrible.  Our first project was to model and animate a ship flying through an obstacle course.  This project was a real drag since so many particles and effects were used, not to mention the fact that I made my environment so large that it slowed down the program and affected my productivity.  On top of that, when I stitched together the various clips (from rendering multiple cameras) in Adobe Premiere, the video was sped up significantly, making the video difficult to follow.
Our second project had us modelling a vehicle and animating it removing a ball from one cage and moving it to another.  This project was a bit easier for me, though my vehicle design was less than inspired.
What really ruined the class for me was the practical exam.  We were taught various tools and methods to help us animate objects, but since we were mostly focusing on our final project, the only tools that really stuck were the ones we used in our own projects.  Unfortunately, the exam focused on everything and I was only really able to complete 2 of the 4 scenes we had to replicate.
Sculpture for Animation: This was probably my easiest class.  As I mentioned in my previous blog, the class consisted of a single sculpture that we had to complete over the course of the quarter.  I went with my angel, which came out pretty cool, if I do say so myself.  Apparently I was the first person in the class to have finished an angel with individual feathers on the wings, as well as the first person to make their prop by making a mold and casting it in metal (I used lead fishing weights for mine).
In addition, I did attempt to make a second sculpture, which, although I didn’t complete, was still scored for extra credit.  My sculptures were easily some of the more impressive ones but there was a lot of good work in the class.  While I’m on break I’m working on completing the second sculpture.
Background Design & Layout: This was basically a digital painting class.  We had to go through the process of creating thumbnails and doing rendering and color studies.  I will admit I am proud of the work I did for that class, but I just can’t wait until I’m done with the traditional drawing and painting classes which I’m really no good at.
Level Design: This was one of my favorite classes.  The quarter-long project was to make a deathmatch (though some people got permission to do capture-the-flag) map for Unreal Tournament III.  We began with hand-drawn top-down maps and then built the level within Unreal.  For midterms, we had to have the level playable.  After that, every class would begin with about an hour so of play testing student’s levels via the school LAN.  I tested my level almost every week and I got a fairly good response, though I was often criticized for not having decorated my level, which was valid since other students had populated their levels so that they looked pretty darn good.
As much as I loved the class, I only barely passed it since I accidentally submitted my mid-term progress in the wrong folder and was first given no credit for it, but after talking with my professor and the fact that the whole class did play my level the day it was due (so there was no question about me having done the work) I was able to get some credit, but not even 50% on a project that makes up 25% of the final grade in the class.  I scraped by but I hate having to cut it that close.
Finally, since I haven’t done one of these in a while,

Lunar: Silver Star Story – Complete

Lunar


One of the classics of the LE/CE World, Lunar, localized by Working Designs, set an impressive standard that is rarely achieved even today.  Their collector’s editions basically fulfilled most of what I wanted from a premium edition.  So, what’s included?

  • Lunar: Silver Star Story – Complete
  • Lunar Soundtrack
  • Making of Lunar
  • Cloth Map
  • Hardback Instruction Manual

Lunar: Silver Star Story – Complete:  A two-disc remake of an old Sega Saturn with a new translation and new scenarios.  Not much to say.  If you like the game, you like the game, if you don’t, then you do.
Lunar Soundtrack: Aside from including some of the game’s great music, this soundtrack cd also includes tracks from the original Sega CD version (the music in the game is from a later Sega Saturn port, I believe).
Making of Lunar: Created before the age of dvds, this cd is encoded in the Playstation’s own video format.  The video covers stuff like character development, re-approaching the script and updating the game, among other htings.
Cloth Map: This is really just for show since the map has little practical use.  It shows you the shape of the game world but its hardly something you can use to navigate the game on any level.
Hardback Instruction Manual: Probably the highlight of the set.  This small book is so much more than just the instruction manual with a pretty cover.  The book contains all the instruction manual information, sure, but they’ve also thrown in artwork, interviewers with the developers, song lyrics, and a mini strategy guide.  Its all very impressive.
This lavish release would set the standard for many of Working Design’s subsequent games on the Playstation which, due to their high production costs, ultimately lead to the company’s closure.  Still the release is significant, not just because of the packaging and bonuses but because it brought the classic Sega CD game back into conscious memory (and which has been remade, not just ported, at least two other times in Lunar Legacy and Lunar Silver Star Harmony).
The soundtrack is always a great touch and the making-of cd came along before it became a standard feature in premium releases.  The cloth map adds little to the set but the instruction manual really brings  the set together.
Fortunately, prices on this release see a wide distribution.  You can find it on ebay in Buy-it-Now listings for as little as $40 (and in auctions even cheaper) and upwards of $100.  If you really want it, then there’s a good chance you can find a listing within your price range.  For those that just want to play the game without paying for all the extras, Working Designs released a less expensive 2-disc version, though it seems to be the rarer of the two in terms of the number of listings, but is rarely more expensive than the premium version.
And I think that just about covers it for today.  I can’t be certain when my next blog post will be, but I do want to catch up on the LE reviews.  I held off on my game articles and stuff so that I’ll have something to post in the near future so hopefully my next post isn’t another six months away.  Later guys!