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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

TGC's 'Sci-Fi DLC'

So it's been a while since my last post.
I know, I know.  But to my credit - most of that time was spent shovelling.

York PA got dumped on - we got as much snow in one day as we get on average for a WHOLE WINTER.   So I've literally spent every night shoveling, every day shoveling.  It's left little time for creative pursuits.

On top of that I've had my hands full with life stuff such as my second son's upcoming birth.  That means Dr's appts, calling around, finding sitters, etc.

I never expected the level of traffic my little post to John Romero would generate and I'm happy for it.  No more excuses.  Time to knuckle down and get to work.

I've waited a long time for the vaunted "Sci-Fi DLC" by 'The Game Creators'.  I have several of their other packs (having been a FPS Creator Reloaded gold backer) and much of the content is unfortunately redundant or kind of amateurish.

That's not the case here.

The kit comes with a whole slew of useful items:
  • 23 Building parts
  • 7 Characters (alien, space marines and a spaceman)
  • 11 Collectables
  • 73 Decals
  • 34 Interior sections
  • 21 Rocks
  • 43 Scenery items
  • 3 Martian terrains
  • 3 Martian skies 
Now given my store entries are purely of skies, the skies are minimally useful to me.

I don't care about the custom level they made aside from the bits of script I can rip out and repurpose.

So let's talk price.  Currently it's on sale as a promo - 14.99 USD.  That's a really good deal for a ton of very high quality assets.  Take a look:

 One of the many characters included - looks similar to a custom one I made!

A little note on the characters - all of their component parts are included in the character creator!  Which while not a fantastic builder by any stretch (the base parts are just dreadfully bad) the new heads/bodies breath lots of life into the system and further diversify user-created products.

Lots of the interior elements look really good too as set pieces:

 Like this little guy in his glass womb.  This is perfect for any sci-fi horror game.

I've spent a long time looking for various parts that go together as a whole and while this was originally designed for ground-based games - it works really well for a number of sci-fi pieces.

The outdoor pieces look way better than the preview shots did, final post-work looks great!

The indoor pieces in my opinion though are where this set really shines.

In particular there's a ton of decals and graphics which allow a lot of flexibility for stick-on neon lighting or displays to add flair for each room.

This console is modular and can be built with additional monitors and displays, for instance.

All in all I'm very surprised and pleased with the level of quality they brought to the table and ten out of ten times would buy this again, especially considering the pittance they are asking for.

Another important point to consider is that they regularly add pieces to the DLCs.  I know for a fact a drone set is coming soon after they put finishing touches on it.  The fantasy DLC is also getting stuff despite being in the wild now for around a year or so.

The bottom line on this is that it's a quality piece to own especially if you're into the genre, like I am.  Give it a look!

Thanks to TGC for the pictures which I took from their DLC store page.  I'll try to add some of my own graphics later or give a few sample shots as time goes on.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Holy $*%!ing storm, Janus

I'm in a place that got absolutely lambasted by snow.  We're sitting at the 30+ inch mark with snow drifts upwards of 5 feet.  It hit the #1 storm of all time for this area and I've lived here my whole life.  I'll try to post pictures tomorrow but this is unbelievable.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Weekly project status report: 1/19/2016

I'll admit, I got sidetracked by a few things this week.  For once, it wasn't some kind of insanity regarding my wife's attempt at a natural birth after a c-section for our first.  Instead, it was gaming insanity. 

First, I was working on getting free mechs in Mechwarrior Online - and that was easy enough but a grind nonetheless. 

Done and done. Went all the way up to the 40pt mark for the other goodies too.

Second, I started playing wow again with the wife (Goddamnit Blizzard >_> ). 

The allure of an upcoming 'fun' new class of rogue (pirate) was too much to ignore... for now. 

Third, I managed to get the attention of one John Romero, Formerly of iD Software Fame; moreover he was impressed by my write-up eval of his original work for Doom 1
This was in response to his remake of E1M8 (Thank god for that!) and release of the new map after 21 years of stony silence for Doom 1 releases (beyond community stuff). 

I played it (it was awesome) and did another write-up on that, which he enjoyed as well.

This is the kind of thing I'm gonna hang on my mental wall for a long, long time.

Then, sneaking under the radar came a post which I made a bit ago that apparently started to get a fair amount of attention (it went from 5 views to like 50, which was substantial considering I only put it on the game-guru web forums).

So that was all really cool and totally made me lose focus of what I was doing with my projects.  So on with the status update!

1) Sci-Fi FPS WIP:  Newest screenshots here - I got my hands on a shader module that's working for game-guru and what a difference it makes.  Needs a LOT more fine tuning though.  Level design is coming along but I need some more assets to make some of the forthcoming levels work.  So I'm waiting for TGC to put out their sci-fi asset pack as I like some of the pieces.

2) My 2nd book for The Neo-Monegasque Chronicles.  **** this thing, seriously.  This book gives me fits because it's like my 'twin towers'.  I just *CAN'T* seem to make it interesting.  It's getting on my nerves.

3) MW:DA Game - indefinite hold until the Sci-Fi FPS is moving forward.

Day job projects:  New one just came in.  Can't discuss - involves puppet and has a very tight deadline.
SALT on SLES 11.4 - being a PITA. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Lessons Learned from Doom 1: PT 2 - Romero's *New* Level Design.

Warning: Long post/Profanity ahead.
This is an update post based on this:

John Romero made a replacement e1m8 level.  I messaged him on twitter, let him know I did a review of his Doom 1 level design rather recently... and he replied indicating that he might be interested in further review.  So rather than make some impromptu write up over this weekend while I was grinding for a Cicada 2A in Mechwarrior Online (which I play a considerable amount of) - I decided to give this thing a proper run through.  I cannot understate my excitement here.  A god of gamedev not only knew I existed but had read a post of mine on his work.  Further, he had redone a level I absolutely hated.  I always felt E1M8 was sort of a weak conclusion to what was otherwise an EPIC first chapter of Doom.  It's no secret I love that first episode, having gamed it to oblivion over the past 20 years. 


Let me make this abundantly clear; I went into this thing knowing how John Romero recommended playing it:  Old school - start with a pistol, no mouselook, no jumping, no cheats (of course) and in my case - ultraviolence difficulty.

I also kept my usual setup:  smoothdoom + textures and 'fast' enemies.  Doom64 weapon graphics (except the pistol; original pistol is the best!), blood sprites, gore sprites, weapon shell casings.. etc.  Mouselook and a crosshair because I don't think I can send myself that far back in time.  No sound because I don't have that luxury at the moment.  So that's an added difficulty I impose on myself as well.

Yeah, this should be fine.  No problem.

I quickly learned how mistaken I was.  Romero was NOT fucking around.  Not a single - damn - bit.

This is literally the first room and probably my fourth or fifth death.

 Remember this?  Well - 20 years later, it happened.

So ... I had to turn fast monsters off.  I was simply getting mauled with that setting on with no gear to speak of.  I tried again and... dead.  Even on standard ultra-violence with just a pistol I was having difficulty.  Luckily I had a recent save from a play-through where I'd stopped on E1M7.  

Ready to go, clearly this will be enough (I hoped).

Side note: You'll notice the weapons 6 and 7.  That's because on this play through I wanted extra weapons like the BFG and Plasma rifle - so I used the cheat code on E1M1 to get them.  However, for the sake of the old school, I swore not to use either.  Bear in mind up to this point I'd been playing just fine with my fast monsters/etc.

 Yep, that did the trick.

So at this point, I'm realizing he really was going for broke.  I'm not going to rehash 'old dogs learning new tricks' or some other trite bullshit.  It doesn't do him the justice he deserves.  

Romero clearly wasn't up to par - he was beyond it.  Gods, after all, don't age.

Around this point I noticed the monster count in the mapper.  291 enemies - that's... pretty substantial alright.  Someone's clearly going to make me earn the 'beat this level' achievement.  Fine.  Let's do this.   On top of that, I was trying to get good shots of the level design.  I noticed he'd kept the map texturing consistent with the old episode of doom.  The Brutalist Architecture was in prime form and every corridor gave me a renewed respect for someone who clearly hadn't diminished in the slightest.

This map, no kidding, is GIGANTIC.  The outdoor area is mindblowing for a doom map.

Refined principles of lighting, design and traps showed that Romero had designed not something for the masses to enjoy.  This was something for himself to enjoy - he just deigned to share it with us.  

 No matter how painful that gift is, we still love it.

Secrets were well placed; they provided a welcome refuge against the literal onslaught of hell-hordes which constantly required piles of brass and a bullet hose to cleanse and purge.  
This one, in particular, gave me a wicked grin.  The berserker pack on this map is wicked fun.

Brutal and effective.  The invisible pinkie splits in half quite readily.

One thing that really stood out here was that this map supports a variety of playstyles.  I for one, take a fast but conservative method.  I'm not a big fan of those speed-runs that just get you through the map as fast possible.  I want every ... SINGLE ENEMY DEAD.  Weapons can be anything you want; he's got it setup that if you want shotguns, you use shotguns.  Chainsaws? Fine.  Fists?  Go for it.  Inventive use of barrel explosions?  You betcha.  Whatever you want, this map has it in spades.  It only asks for one thing:

I know this lady.  She's a harsh mistress... but I know what she likes - blood.

Heaping buckets of blood, specifically.

So now for some more critical elements I've picked up while blasting my way through this map:
  1.  Romero clearly had an itch to redesign E1M8 - I'm just spitballing here but this is the kind of thing that reminds me of an itch that had never been scratched just right and for whatever reason deemed now was the time to get it right.
  2. He uses a lot more Doom-3 style surprise teleports where the enemy appears behind you and you're left wondering how the hell they got there.  This was a frequent cause of my demise.
  3. Secrets are difficult at times to find and easy at others.  His old tricks of texture maps being slightly off or an out of place color seem cleaner and more efficient.  There are a few that you'll only find if you bang on every wall with a hammer or check the map for obvious wall differences.  A certain one in particular ran me in loops for 30 minutes reloading saves until I finally figured out the right way to make a switch appear.
  4. The sense of awe on this map  can only be known by playing *IN* the game.  I mean it's something to behold, literally.  The colors, the SIZES of the rooms.  The outdoor area - there are many times I just stopped to soak it in.  It's something rarely matched in modern games - let alone a map made in a 20 year old engine.
  5. The use of enemy position on this was far greater than previous work that I've seen.  This was some kind of devil-bastard child of Peterson's traps with Romero's level design.  
  6. One thing I realized here that Romero had that Carmack never did - Romero coded; he was adept at it.  He also did a lot of other things - but eventually ended up doing level design.  Carmack never had that breadth of experience.  It gave him an incredibly powerful but narrow view of game development.  To me, that explains why the life fell away from iD after John Romero's departure.  Carmack is a coding god in his own right - but without the force of energy and passion behind the game you end up with something very rigid, clean, precise - and boring.  Romero's levels are anything but.
  7. Item placement is handled at first with a sort of liberal aplomb but it's actually very well managed; at times you feel like you're starving for an item and then realized `if only I'd have found that secret, this wouldn't be happening`.
  8. Use of color is expertly done with natural contrasts occurring regularly - browns and blues, reds and blacks (See below).
The redesign of this room gave me cold chills on the first glimpse of it.  I knew what was coming and was anxious, happy, thrilled, and fearful all at once.  Note the cell count hasn't wavered.  I stuck to my promise and cleared this bastard using only what I'd earned to this point.

I'm not sure how to wrap this up, honestly.  I'm going to be absorbing what I can from this asymmetric masterpiece for at least the next few weeks.  It will *ABSOLUTELY* take the place of E1M8 for me - in perpetuity.  It's easy to see this was how it should have been.  I can literally forego the rest of the Doom saga - to me - this is all that's needed.  It brings to a close the best episode of the best FPS game I played as a kid.  I am humbled to have witnessed something like this in my lifetime.  It's akin to Leonardo Davinci coming back to life and adding another painting to his original works.  Or, if you're an Ayn Rand fan - it's a bit like hearing Richard Halley's 'Fifth Concerto'.

I truly hope that Romero keeps working on more games; a talent like this should not be wasted.  It's something that can only be gleaned by thousands upon thousands of hours of gameplay, testing, design, and full understanding of  game development as a WHOLE by living through every piece of it.  The world is better off for it, in my very humble(d) opinion.

For now, I am happy to have witnessed and perhaps learned something myself from it.  He's given me a lot to think about, that's for sure.

Friday, January 15, 2016

My life is complete now

At least from a creativity standpoint - this right here is going up on the wall:

Awww yisssssss!

I pointed him at my writeup on his work on Doom 1 and he liked it, which is friggin' super awesome.
My normal verbosity fails me at this point.

And if you haven't seen, here's the link to his newest level "E1M8B".

I should probably do more reviews but

This cold is straight up beating my ass.  It's been off and on in waves for like two weeks now.
Now it's a deep chest cold and while I don't feel sick I'm coughing like I've got TB.

So no more work for a while.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Just a little update - Nomadfx - reshade mod

If you can't tell from my previous work threads about my sci-fi game & technique post, I'm serious about getting the lighting and look right.  To me, that's a big part of  making a high quality, SERIOUSLY developed game.  I know it seems simple but the difference between:


Is night and day.

Now compare those against this:

The difference is in the subtlety of the lighting, the depth and refinement on individual textures and surfaces.

This was done thanks to nomad soul, who configured a reshade lighting mod to game-guru.  Instructions can be found here:

While it's listed as Triple-A graphics I'll say it really depends on how much tuning you do with your maps.  That said, I'm extremely satisfied with the improvement, despite the framerate loss (I lost about 50%, will need to mess with settings to get that cleaned up).  Also - I discovered in game bloom settings need turned WAY WAY down to correct once you enable this.

Overall it's a new tool for the arsenal and really helps make the scenes pop into a more believable state for something that's an "easy" game maker.

Some more updated shots for the WIP:

 The reactor area.  Will probably scrap a bunch of this or break it out into it's own engineering map.

Anyways it's too blue for my tastes but I like the direction it's taking.  I need to do a lot more work with characters and upcoming levels as well as making sure it's a rewarding and difficult experience.
It's going to be a slog, for sure.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Top Ten Game-Guru Artists of 2015

Warning: The following is completely subjective and totally at my whim.  If you disagree, as you are apt to, you're totally within your rights.  At no point do I mean any disrespect towards any of the artists posting their items on the Game-Guru store.  Also - I will not allow any of my own work to be counted towards this list in the interest of avoiding bias towards personal works.

So I've long considered a list of the top artists on TGCstore, in which art is produced for the 'Game Guru' game creation engine.  There's a lot of very talented artists - all talented in their own ways.  Being married to an artist, I know how important it is to stroke one's ego from time to time.  While not all of them are my personal preference they all work hard and the TGCstore does a good enough job screening the bad art out (ask me how I know, hah!)  that they have an acceptable level of quality for all of the artists.  At no point are you going to find atrocious art that has no place in any game.  All of the art has it's own style, design, and features.  Some are low poly and resource minimal.  Others are high poly, resource intensive works.

My list is just a product of my purchase of pieces from probably fifty plus artists on TGCstore and viewing hundreds of art pieces both in game and on the web while browsing.

I use this list as a guide towards my own purchases and recommend you do the same.

#10 - Oldpman ----

This was probably the hardest one to rate.  Oldpman is simply put - the most prolific artist on TGCstore.

It's like wheres waldo, only not so hard because he stands out so much

That said, proliferation doesn't equal quality - which is what my list was hoping to order in some reasonable fashion.  Thankfully, Oldpman doesn't disappoint.  His offerings have gotten steadily better and I'd dare say 2015 was a great year for the quality of his work.  He still struggles a little with material textures mapping but overall the work is superb.
One truly great thing is if you were lucky enough to pick up his end of the year special pack, you got the opportunity to basically own an entire LIBRARY's worth of items that all have the same art style.  This is hugely important when making games - dissimilar art stands out like a sore thumb. 

Keep up the good work p-man and I look forward to your continued works.  

#9 - Gtox ----

Gtox is a great artist with a promising portfolio.  He's got a huge array of creatures and some construction pieces as well.

The portfolio is fairly diverse going from dinosaurs to Sci-Fi style walkways.

With a pretty solid showing this was another difficult one to place.  I considered swapping it around several times and eventually settled here.  The primary things holding it back were model and texture style.  That said, they're excellent models - I own many (mostly the fish).  Moreover they're generally very useful!  These are typically things you don't find elsewhere on the store and as such Gtox's items hold particular value which can't really be under-stated.  His sci-fi corridor set, while a bit spartan on color, is of superb quality and build.  

#8 - Henry Ham ----

If there was one artist I wish had more products on the store, this would be him.  He's got a great level of quality on regular, useful items that are well priced.  The problem is there isn't enough of it!

Easily class-winning items on their own.

I've got a lot of Henry's free items as well from - they're all excellent.  The impressive thing is that I can use his old stuff in modern environments with updated graphics and they STILL look good.  That's the kind of quality that's hard to beat - he'd honestly place a lot higher on this list if he'd have a few more items on the list.  As it is he only adds items sporadically which is a huge disappointment given I'm such a fan of his work.  Well, here's to hoping!

#7 - Nomis3d *TIE* ----

So let me say outright I like Nomis's style.  He's got good use of texture, an eye for shape, his materials types are good... so why's he lower on the list than others?

The packs are well priced and high quality.

Well, to be blunt - there's not a lot here I can use.  His work is great.  But he's got very little here that's of general type.  Everything fits the modern shooter or in one rare case - the medieval fantasy world.  Beyond that,  there's not a lot of utility.  I can't re-purpose much of this for my current projects and I check his page often to see new products.  Unfortunately despite my hope for new items of a generalist nature, I don't see much expansion into other genres.  That's entirely up to him and we'll see where it goes going forward, I suppose.  That said - he's a top shelf artist, genres be damned.

#7 FRAP *TIE* ----

This was an emergency addition.  My spider sense tingled after creating my list and I realized I'd left someone very skilled off the list.  I knew he had to qualify as a tie and did my best to slot him into this where I felt he would be best represented.  Frap has a solid portfolio and style:

As you can see, Sci-Fi entities abound, along with WWII items.

I like Frap's Sci-Fi work a LOT.  It meshes well with models from other developers and seamlessly integrates into maps.  They have a nice clean look and are textured quite well.
Some of his older models textures are not my cup of tea and that's quite alright by me.  It seems that he adjusts his style in texturing based around the genre - which is a bit different for artists on this web store.  

My primary regret is his lack of 'packs' and savings.  I'd easily have owned all of his Sci-Fi assets if they were in a competitively priced pack.  He also has a relatively small portfolio which limits his exposure across genres.   A nice showing though, especially considering the lack of packs and small asset base.

#6 - Dagored ----

Dagored is a pretty unique artist.  For one, he's got massive amounts of free models available here: - literally pages and pages of free models.  He even built a scientist character per my request.   His store has tons of great stuff that has a wide appeal or level of utility:

 Chickens, skeletons, and Sci-Fi corridors - that's just the start!

All of his offerings are well priced and provide a great way to support the author.

His weak spot comes down to texturing and coloring but even that is hardly noticeable.  I own a few of his individual models (I will be buying packs as needs arise).  They are good models.  Very good.  All of them are excellent in their own right.  My personal sense of style and color is the only thing limiting him at this point and I look forward to his upcoming works which seem to just continually improve.

A word of warning before proceeding further.  The top five were EXCEPTIONALLY difficult to judge.  They are all top-shelf artists in their own right and the minor variances between them could literally separate their works by a fraction of a percent difference.  It's that close.  So understand that for all intents and purposes on any given day - they could swap in a moment.

#5 - BSP -

BSP has a ton of models - almost as many as Oldpman.   The utility of said models ranges widely across many different genres.   He does hold one very important claim to fame however that would have placed him on this top ten list no matter what.

BSP literally owns the weapons category on TGCstore.

Of the 31 weapons on the TGCstore - only *1* is not by BSP.  Think about that.  He solely responsible for one of the most important categories on the shop.  That alone would have ensured a comfortable place on this list.  Couple that with a huge inventory of buildings and WWII assets of particularly high quality and you have a great fifth place showing.  BSP continues to improve and impress with every new release so make sure you follow him and keep an eye out for upcoming updates!

#4 - Wizard of Id ----

Wizard of Id is a fantastic artist. He easily eclipses a lot of the standard artists with a keen sense of quality and color.  His art is exceptionally good; the model shape and design is ornate without having an inordinate amount of polygons.  In short, its well balanced with a good clean take that can be used in a wide variety of settings.

Prices are quite reasonable, as you can see.

Wizard of Id's styles are useful in a number of places but have a very clear trend towards a more modern and gritty look.  They fit well in my game style and if I wasn't so hard up for money as of current I'd own that artist collection in a hurry.  I look forward to slowly improving my list of "Wiz" collections as so far I've not been disappointed by a single one.  Every single one I get has been very thoroughly designed, built, and tested.  I've run into NO issues with any and enjoy their art style.  Minor complaints mostly are around not having enough sci-fi stuff of the type that I like (spaceship vs ground base - he's got ground base down pat) and I'd be really curious to see how he handled his clutter items as well.  I bet they'd be clear winners on all fronts - as the rest of his work already is.

#3 - Rolfy ----

It pains me to put Rolfy in 3rd.  Truly.  I struggled long and hard with where to place him and he could easily be in first as easily as he is right here.  The degrees of quality between these top three artists is narrow to a razor's edge.

A wide variety of extremely high quality assets.

Rolfy has talent in spades.  He's a coder.  He's a character designer.  He's got an eye for art.  He's a building designer with an eye for detail.  He does things with shaders others only dream of.  The list goes on and on and on.  Every single item he brings to the table is worth owning.  

He's even got well priced packs, if you can believe it!  As to what held him back on this list aside from my arbitrary viewpoint, it mostly boiled down to price.  A few of his items are a little pricier than competitive models.  Do you get what you pay for? Absolutely.  In no way shape or form can I say anything to detract from the quality of his work.  He's a gifted artist, through and through.  Mostly the biggest thing preventing  him from going any higher on this list is the utility of his work.  It tends to pidgeon-hole towards a few specific environments (except for generic items like the wave pack or HD skies).  Even then this is only the most marginal of issues.  I really wish I had the money to purchase his entire store collection outright.

#2 - Valuable Assets ----

What do I say?  Valuable Assets is a simply incredible artist.  He offers a MASSIVE amount of quality offerings.

There's a lot more than this, I assure you.

VA is another author I have a lot of individual pieces on.  I buy his stuff piecemeal and if I was a richer man would buy the '2015 Complete' collection in a heartbeat.  65 dollars for everything he's done to this point is a STEAL.  
VA has done a lot of really great work but I'd say my absolute favorite is his HD roads.  His road/world textures are far and away the BEST way to make a high quality game road in this engine.  If you want to make something competitive with the latest AAA games - you need to visit his store.

You will never find yourself asking "why did I buy this?"  with his items.  Instead, you will find yourself constantly trying to find a way to inject his items into your levels.   If you look at the top 'post apocalyptic' screenshots on you will notice one thing in common - they *ALL* use models from VA's shop.  That's not an accident.

#1 - Errant AI ----

I realize that this is probably a bit of a shock to some.  I spent weeks trying to unseat this one.  To move it to the number two position.  But I just... couldn't.  His work (while limited in scope and use) is .. flawless.  Absolutely, completely flawless.

I use his stuff as often as I possibly can.

EAI has been making models, like many others on this list, for a long time with 'The Game Creators'.  His work is astonishingly good, well finished, and detailed.  Let me tell you about details.  Details is getting the exact amount of haze on a piece of glass right.  Details is about thickness of elements being to a precision you need a micrometer to check.  Details are critical to me; I look at polys, shape, textures, surfaces, lighting, materials colors, etc.  I spent HOURS looking at the EAI products.
My only complaint is there isn't more.

So congratulations for the best Artist of 2015 from yours truly:  Mike (Aka Bolt-Action Gaming) of The Game Guru Report.  Keep up the truly impressive and jaw dropping work!

Honorable Mentions

I have to say there's a lot of artists not on this list who nearly were.  I struggled with what to do because I genuinely felt a lot of them deserved a mention or two.  So here is my 'most' list - if you're an honorable mention realize your work is still impressive and worth a look!

Most growth as an artist:  Pirate Myke ----

Pirate Myke has been developing steadily as an artist but in the past year really came into his own.  A lot of his more recent work reflects this, particularly the patio kit which he was kind enough to send me a preview of.  I remain impressed and expect more :)

Most original artist:  Wolf ----

I don't know where Wolf gets his/her inspiration but it's an interesting place!  There's a lot here worth looking at, especially if you're into Sci-Fi as I am.  The alien styles have come a long way and the models continue to improve bit by bit.  In a year or so I see Wolf dominating somewhere in the top seven at this pace.

Most useful clutter and detail items: Teabone ----

I own a *LOT* of Teabone's items.  Like.. probably half of them?  They're extremely useful, easy to fit into levels, well made, and with good texture/normal mapping.  The specularity on them is particularly clean.  This was a hard one to not place on the list.

Most useful world-making items: Ken Charles Long ----
     Or perhaps tazman? ----

Both of these long-time artists have huge portfolios that are well priced and bring a lot of value to your work, depending on how you use them.  I prefer higher poly models but I own models from both of these artists as they are quite good in their own right(s).

Most Buildings: Disturbing13 :)

This guy makes more buildings than anyone, I think.  Holy moly man.  You gotta branch out because you've got a good eye and sense of design - just try your hand at something else; I want to see what more you can do!

Most really cool but needs more stuff: Jforth / Rattlecreed

Both of these guys bring a great sense of style to the party and I want to see more from them!  Jforth is a personal favorite but a bit niche so hopefully we'll see more come from him soon.

Most useful cars:  Pasquil :)

See my previous review.

If I missed you, I apologize and better luck next year!  I have done my level best to review everyone and perform the rather difficult task of assigning completely subjective values to each one.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Weekly status report 1/11/2016

This morning has been hell.  Bowie's gone, what a loss :(

Anyways, on to the project statuses.

All the old inactives are still inactive (Gasp!).

With respect to the Sci-Fi project:
1) I'm still learning blender.  There's a lot to do there.  I keep having to interrupt my learning time and it's setting me back a bit.

2) I need to flesh out story/objectives more.

3) Voodoo has posted new assets and I'm trying to best figure out how to use them for what I want to do.  It's difficult because a lot of what he posted is completely incongruous with the first round of items he put out.

I know a few levels of what I'm doing:
1) A cyber-zone using 'thegridd'.
2) An alien zone (using oldflak's sear nebula base sky and outdoor voodoo assets).  This is probably going to be the last set of levels.
3) The standard array of 'starbase' levels - a medlab, an engineering/bridge section, hydroponics, residential, the entertainment district, etc.

The problems stem from having too many assets, ironically.  Game-Guru's greatest strength is the amount of cheap & free assets are available.  The weakness is of course managing those assets. The internal management system is really not scaled well and so any time you get a large quantity it just sort of falls apart.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Mechwarrior Online Training tonight

So I'll admit I've been sick this week and had a lot going on.  I've used that as an excuse not to do a lot of work.

I do however have a weekly Mechwarrior Online unit get-together and tonight is my semi-regular training event.  My unit is "Tyr's Blade" and can be found here:
Anyways, tonight's training is from 9PM EST to 10PM EST.  It'll be in a private lobby.  Here's the agenda.

Tonights basic Agenda:
MAP choice: Forest Colony.

 - Basic training 10m
    "hill humping"
    "Corner peeking"
    "Twisting damage away"
        - The wiggle
        - The turn
 - Group tactics  15m
        staying near someone, within about 50m.
             - too close and you bump
             - too far away and you lose focus fire, reaction time and/or ECM.
        reticle shows distance
    "Cyan" letters
        shows guys in your 'lance'
        Q key shows people on your team.
    Stay close, don't lose your partner.
    Support them, shoot their targets.
    Focus your fire on where they are shooting.
    break up into two man groups and fight it out
- Light mechs  20m
    * speed is life
    * so is ecm
    * clan lights play like IS mediums
      - except the arctic cheetah or myst linx
    * overheating in a light mech is a death sentance
    * overheating THEM works very well.
    Speed turns:
        - center legs to torso
        - Jumpjets
        - is basic... but effective against noobs and some pros
        - try staying behind instead
        - Jumping over their head, takes them longer to turn around.
        - sneak up - shoot in the back, ALWAYS CORE OUT
        - I'll be in an assault or heavy for training.
        - I will be in assault mech and get swarmed.  Try to kill me/survive.
    Scouting (tag, narc, long distance spotting)
        * UAV is a must.
        * Artillery is useful.
        TAG laser: targeting acquisition gear, laser spotting.
        NARC: Disables ECM, makes enemies able to be locked on.

10m open forum/questions.

Beyond all this, I intend in the next week:
- More work on my game
- A big review of Voodoo's free products
- A paid product review (not sure what yet.  Depends on a few factors).

Monday, January 4, 2016

Project Status Monday 1/4/2016

Projects projects everywhere.

Soon I'll be swamped at work, at least in the short term.  For this moment though, I have a little free time.
With that time, I find ways to keep myself productive.

Idling projects:
MWDA Game - you know the score here.  Just not on a primary burner right now.
My book - I read a piece by George RR Martin about how he hated working for deadlines and wasn't going to finish his newest book in time for the show.  Well... yeah.  I don't know if I will ever finish this book series.  That last bit of bad criticism really put me in a sour mood and I don't think I want to just jump right back to that.
Other books - Book writing feels so tedious, you know?  I guess I enjoy shorter pieces but not so short they fit in a magazine's scant 7-9 pages.  Novellas just don't sell and expanding them into novels is a boring chore.  I have enough of those as of current, thank you very much.

Active projects:
Sci-Fi game in game guru.  I've been advancing my toolkit steadily towards my goal of completing a quality low budget title.  I made my own skies and placed them on the tgcstore (available here: ).

They are selling well, which is a welcome surprise.

I'm waiting for the sci-fi kit coming from TGC; they have some excellent enemy characters in the kit.  The rest is pretty meh.  But the characters will be worth it.

I'm working on learning 3D modelling.  It's an experience but coming along nicely.  There's a lot to remember in blender but overall I'm surprised at how easy it is to develop organic or complex shapes.

It actually gives me a whole new perspective on model development and I will be sure to incorporate that into my reviews.

I've started putting together asset libraries (my usual first step before making a level) for the next few levels in my game.   I want the pacing of my game to be very different from other GG games.  Faster, more overwhelming is the goal.  I want it to be DIFFICULT.  Too many of these homebrew games are ridiculously simple and easy.  I want to incorporate my lessons from the Doom series into this and try to produce some interesting 'kill puzzle' challenges which will force the player to think.  A lot of these homebrew Game-Guru and FPS Creator games tend to have a very easy and simple game play style which I'm sure suits the creator.  But if you're trying to challenge gamers, you need to present them a challenge.

That's part of what I want to do.  I also need to get some 3D modelling under my belt so I can offer custom models as opposed to just more store bought stuff.

I got some new assets too, since Voodoo updated his stuff.  It gave me an idea for a later area but I need to let that stew for now.  Next stop for me is building the medlab and engineering/bridge sections.

I've got a few of my custom characters from the charactermaker done but most of them are throwaways.  Only 2-3 are worth keeping (such as the cyberknight, who came out AWESOME).

The level flow is coming together.