Trent Polack's site for cats, games, game development, and undeniably powerful sociological insight all with a healthy dose of narcissism.
mittens's Articles » Page 3
June 23, 2008 by mittens

I know Grid isn't the greatest arcade racing game ever but, goddamn, I love it so much. It has the perfect blend of a career mode where I can make money, buy cars, hire teammates and then merges that with a with a more arcade-like set of racing mechanics. The game has a great sense of speed and an absurdly good damage model that makes events like the Demolition Derby -- an event I haven't played since Destruction Derby for the Playstation -- an absolute blast to play. One of the game's bullet points is an instant replay system which allows players a number of attempts to go back in time in the game (a la Prince of Persia: Sands of Time) and undo whatever mistake was made the first try; this is a mechanic that, at first, I was annoyed by due to the unnecessary menu-work that was required to use the feature but, after some time with the game, it's a fantastic addition to avoid the video game racing gamer's urge to restart a rice a few dozen times to perfect a given event.

June 20, 2008 by mittens

As Intellisponse recently discovered: it's not a very intelligent maneuver to, as a marketing research firm with clients like Microsoft and Activision, leave the company's data backend in a state that can be easily accessed by the public. When such a thing occurs, and this is just an example, the gaming press may get their hands on a great deal of unannounced information. So far gamers have discovered that the Xbox 360 has a Wii-like avatar system forthcoming, a third Forza game is in the works (yay yay yay), and that some company called Trioxide wants to do something where people could play console games on their PCs. That doesn't sound like a lawsuit waiting to happen at all. Anyway, thanks for the information Intellisponse and I hope you can still get clients in the future.

In the wake of Tomonobu Itagaki's resignation from his directorial position at Team Ninja it has now been revealed that every Tecmo employee is suing Tecmo. Tecmo instituted an illegal "flexible hours" scheme that allowed the company to avoid paying their employees overtime; the company was ignoring over one hundred overtime hours worked by its employees every month and falsified documented to cover the whole thing up. The filing was handled by two Tecmo employees (one of which was the head of Tecmo's Labor Division, Hiroaki Ozawa) and asks for 8.3 million yen ($77,000 USD) per employee as compensation. Basically, Tecmo has been a bad, bad company.



June 20, 2008 by mittens

Over the course of the last week I was able to play the final chapter in a franchise which I first played as a rental on my NES way back when I was a munchkin; Metal Gear was a thoroughly confusing game for the four-year-old me. I very much doubt that I made it much past the first few areas as I was not a patient child. I may or may not have played Metal Gear 2. I did, however, play the hell out of Metal Gear Solid for myPlaystation back in 1998. I played it through about four or five times, got Snake's tuxedo on New Year's Eve 1998, and have very fond memories of Psycho Mantis and Meryl and the boss fight with Revolver Ocelot. I would be hard-pressed to think of a franchise which, to this day, I remain so positively nostalgic about aside from Metal Gear Solid (and Final Fantasy VII and Resident Evil). So, now that I've completed my first play-through of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, I want to write about the two halves of this game: the gameplay and the story.


June 19, 2008 by mittens
As more and more developers and publishers realize the benefits of distributing their products online, more types of digital distribution applications have been created to benefit the cause. At this point in time gamers have their choice of applications like Impulse (a rebranded and revamped Stardock Central), Steam, Gametap, and EA Downloader (which is now simply the EA Store) and then digital distribution websites like Direct2Drive, Greenhouse, and GamersGate.

Among gamers, though, the most...
May 18, 2008 by mittens
878,598 dollars earned (of which $376,945 was spent), 860 killed by one of my 161 cars stolen or ventilated by a number of my 16,367 bullets fired, 94 missions completed, and 28 hours and 34 minutes later I have completed Grand Theft Auto 4, a game sitting at a solid 98% overall score on Metacritic three weeks after its release. It's a game that cost $100 million to make and a game which grossed $500 million in its first week. The question that no one is asking at this point in time since it's b...
April 27, 2008 by mittens
For this update, my role in Asplode! was absolutely minimal. While I'm in the middle of a mild crunch for The Political Machine 2008 and then away at Rochester, New York for a Paramore concert, Josh was working asininely hard on version 1.2 of Asplode!. As started, my role in this update was purely peripheral as, in my spare time, I've been working on the start for Bipolar and taking some of Josh's code for his game and turning it into a more generic library that both of us can use in our curren...
April 20, 2008 by mittens
Yeah, so, I'm releasing Asplode! now and such. And, along with the game, comes all of the source to the game.

I originally wasn't planning on releasing the source but as development winded down and I started to play the game for longer sessions I soon realized that the game became virtually unplayable on my machine after about seven-eight minutes. I thought this may have been a result of poorly-managed graphical assets so I took a couple days to optimize them (and, as a result, the VectorMod...
April 17, 2008 by mittens

I've been playing a very time-intensive game of musical chairs with various three-dee engines over the course of the last two-and-a-half weeks in an attempt to find the one that would be best suited to my particular development style and the kind of game I want to create. And I can safely say that, tonight, I have reached the ultimate solution. That's right, after toying around with things like TorqueX, Torque Game Engine Advanced, OGRE, Irrlicht, Nebula3, and, finally, PowerRender. The latter two of the list appeared to have the most potential, with PowerRender being the closest thing to what I was looking for, but the most recent iteration of the engine is still under heavy development and, what was the most troublesome, seems to be getting very infrequent updates. So, after all of the wasted time, I decided that I was going to dig out my old C++/D3D9/D3D10 framework and just rip out the D3D9 parts for use in a new framework which I could use in the future.

I got exactly an hour-and-a-half of work done on that last night before I realized that it felt way too much like the kind of engine work I do at my job every weekday. So now, and for realsies, I'm back with XNA. I'll be releasing Asplode! this weekend in its terribly-performing state (and open source) and, hopefully, everything I learned in the development of that will help me create a far more useful toolset this time around as far as memory management is concerned. The most important lesson I have with me that I learned from Asplode! is that the most important thing about memory within a managed environment isn't necessarily the allocation of memory so much as it is the deleting of it. Apparently the garbage collector is a wicked beast that must be appeased in order to maintain stable gameplay performance. I don't know. I'm still getting the hang of the intricacies of C#. When I was working on Asplode! -- and this will be readily apparent in the source if people peruse it -- I didn't know anything about C#. I simply coded as if I would code a game using C++ and, when code didn't compile, I read up on why the error occurred and what I needed to do/learn in order to fix it. Hopefully, this time around, I'm a bit more well-prepared. It also helps that Drilian and I are teaming up for some of the more game-independent stuff.

April 5, 2008 by mittens
Last weekend as a result of being hungover after my first time drinking in over a year and waking up on a couch in the apartment of a gay nineteen-year-old friend of my friend's and the first thing I saw being a Hannah Montana poster on the ceiling above the couch where I was sleeping I bought a license to TorqueX Pro. I've used other GarageGames products in the past for various experiments and random fun, but I've never used one to make a full game. I thought I'd use TorqueX for my new game ide...
March 31, 2008 by mittens
After a few days of Nick's endless campaigning, I finally signed up for Twitter; it was an odd concept for me and one I was greatly resistant to doing. After all, I never use the Facebook status messages or anything, so why would I want a system which is exactly that? He said "just try it, you'll like it; it's hard to explain." He even linked me to other blog entries about it and I still thought it was insane. Finally, I gave in. I said I'd try it. And now, a week later, I have about a hundred u...
March 30, 2008 by mittens
Usually, when I redesign my site, I choose a theme and then overhaulthe CSS/Formatting to fit my needs and, generally, to remove thefixed-width nature of most Wordpress themes. This time, that’s not thecase. The new theme, designed by Design Disease struck me as being so completely perfect for what I was looking for in a design and the color palette is nothing short of superb.At some point in time in the next week or two I’m going to look intogetting a custom logo next to the Polycat...
March 27, 2008 by mittens
I absolutely love this "rise of the social single-player game" sort of mini-march I'm seeing occur in the industry right now with games like Spore, Fable 2, and Animal Crossing. With the announcement of The Sims 3 came a great deal of information about what EA Sims felt were the important parts of the Sims 2 and, thankfully, it seems they truly understand what was important about The Sims as a franchise. When it comes down to it, the Sims has never been about house decoration nor has it been abo...
March 25, 2008 by mittens
March 19, 2008 by mittens
Video games are such a fantastic medium. I just finished playing through Gears of War cooperatively with a friend over Xbox Live and it was absolutely enjoyable, hilarious, and challenging as hell. As a child of the, uh, Manboy Generation? YouTube Generation? Whatever kind of generation I’m a part of, growing up with video games has obviously had a large influence on my life being that I am what some may consider a "hardcore gamer" along with being a game developer, designer, and so on. So...
March 17, 2008 by mittens
At this point, I think that it's fairly safe to say that the meat of Asplode! is finished. All of the primary gameplay is in place, the enemies are all implemented and handled in a state that I'm fond of, and the player controls, responses, and such are all implemented. At this point any more features that I add to the gameplay portion of the game are either polish points or experimental ideas that I may or may not keep as part of the game (a few automatic weapon upgrades, various ideas as to ho...