From an article over here:
"So there's no doubt that there will be a whole new wave of discussion and debate, maybe even controversy. But we didn't do the Extended Cut because we're trying to make everybody happy, make it perfect - we just saw an opportunity to expand on things that we felt could add value to the experience, for those that appreciate it," concludes Casey Hudson, according to OXM.
Okay, so you made a deliberate choice not to please the masses of extremely disappointed fans; a move incidentally that wouldn't have taken anything of the original Starchild disaster away from the three people who liked it.
So right, you guys are still sticking to the line that The Worst Ending Of A Series In History (you should trademark that, you own it for all time now) is the "story that had to be told"? That ending, of all possible endings? The one you cherry picked from the dumbest collection of science-fiction tropes and clichés you could possibly find? Controversial does not equal awesome.
God, it'd be hilarious if it wasn't tragic.
I've ranted about this twice before. It's becoming something of a serial on my blog. Well, it has really been an immense thorn in my side - the gamer side that loves the shit out this medium and loved the shit out of this series. But this will be the final entry on this topic*.
At this point, I almost have to say I... strangely... admire BioWare's resolve. Or I would if it was actually about integrity instead of stubborn resistance. Now I'm off to officially say farewell: Saved games deleted, discs packed away. The Mass Effect trilogy will be the first ever games - the only three of my proudly epic collection - that I will trade to EB for whatever they'll give me.
Now I'll be nervous about buying any future BioWare titles out of fear they'll shit out another ending that's so illogical and absurd it is objectively awful and waste another two hundred hours of my life.
Urgh. With this and the dichotomous wreck that is Zynga's Diablo III, I'm starting to lose interest in games altogether.
* Expect me to make 37 more posts in the future, all nerd-raging about the same thing.
They say you shouldn't post partially completed work. Who "they" are is anyone's guess. I'm going to assume "they" are benign alien beings who care so much for the creative aspirations of puny Earthlings that they travelled millions of light-years to impart this little nugget of wisdom upon us. That makes it seem especially important.
The reason they say this (as far as I understand it) is that us creative types need vindication, and while we lack vindication we tend to be more focused in our efforts to attain it. But as soon as we post work in progress, we can fall into a kind of psychosomatic motivational vacuum.
Well, fuck the aliens, and fuck psychosomatism. And while we're at it, fuck the English language.
Here's a self-portrait in a quasi-JRPG style that is going to be a focal element of my blog's new theme. Posted with thanks to Ian Lacey for giving me valuable critique, pointing out the weird things with my proportions, and showing me how to draw arms that don't look like T-Rex stubs suffering from angioedema.
Speaking of which, that's not going to be ready when I thought it was. The 100th post is rapidly approaching, and I felt it'd be a nice milestone to unveil the labour of love that has been my custom WordPress theme. But alas, this shit takes way longer than I anticipated. The CSS/HTML stuff I picked up in a week of screaming obscenities at my PC, but the illustration stuff, irrespective of obscenities (and they've been many, varied and quite creative) isn't part of my recently exercised skill set.
Recently being since I was 6.
I approach illustration in the same way I approach lottery. There's nothing remotely predictable about it, and I certainly wouldn't call it expressive or artistic. I draw a line, I evaluate it, I get frustrated, I erase it, I redraw it, I get frustrated, I redraw it, I walk away with the shits, I come back, I redraw it, and well wouldn't you know, there it is. I'm starting to think that watching illustration tutorials and practising my anatomy might be less useful at this point than learning some techniques for shutting down left-brain so right-brain can get some screen time.
Anyway, blah blah, time to get back to it. Gotta finish all the line work before I can start colouring. That's the bit I like. I'm pretty fucking awesome at staying inside the lines if I do say so myself.
That said: The simple sketch up there took me about 8 hours.
I don't even.
In terms of human experience, this week has covered much of the gamut. I had a rigorous internal debate about delving into personal matters for blog content, as the social media phenomenon of airing one's dirty laundry is a vulgar practice I'd prefer to steer well clear of. I'm also, despite all outward appearances, a fairly private person when it comes to matters of personal emotional context. Perhaps my biggest concern is one of causing discomfort: I know what it's like, when a friend tells you their bad news and you're stuck in a moment of awkwardly fumbled responses because there's simply nothing awesome to say. It's a universal characteristic of the human condition that at key milestones in life (the good and the bad) words are suddenly woefully inadequate to express the range of human emotion present in a moment.
But I chose to write about this because it's ultimately, I think, a positive story.
A beloved uncle passed away this week. It was, like all loss, a sad and emotional time, particularly for my father and his family who not too long ago lost their dad. I was honoured with the task of being a pallbearer at my uncle's funeral (the second time I'd done it; the first was at my grandfather's passing) and for some reason - many reasons I don't want to delve into here - I almost broke. I don't mean cried, I did that. What I mean is, there was a moment there where something in me became enraged, furious at the world for all the sickness and death in it, and I came very near to a breaking point that would have been ugly and horrible and mean spirited: An outpouring of frustration and grief that no one would have deserved or should witness, targeted at no one and everyone because I lacked a target to lay blame upon; blame for circumstances, blame for unfairness, blame for the awful tragedy that life comes to an end.
But then something incredible happened. Or something normal that was made incredible by the circumstances surrounding it. Serendipity.
Standing in the cold afternoon shadows at the cemetery, waiting for the interment service to begin, my attention was drawn to a flock of fifty or so pink Galahs that flew around the perimeter of the cemetery and then settled in a tree. It was only a mild distraction at first, but then a second, and third, and fourth flock flew in. Soon they became too may to count. Hundreds of birds, one flock after another, all quietly circling the cemetery until they found a place to land in the suddenly crowded branches. With barely a sound, they 'watched', and if their number hadn't seemed unusual, their silence certainly did.
And then when the service was done, and as my uncle was interred to the Earth, the entire flock - with barely a sound - took wing as one and coasted upon the breeze into the winter afternoon.
I'm sure many people at the service saw nothing more than a flock of birds doing what birds do. But for me, this was something I needed to see: A moment of serendipity, where apparent random circumstances, in meeting at the right place and the right time, create something far greater and more important than a roll of causal dice. My rage and frustration just dropped away, and what was left was a manageable sadness, tempered with contentment and a sense of purpose, even if that purpose was beyond my immediate comprehension.
Maybe folk would tell me I was projecting my desire for catharsis onto natural and perfectly mundane happen-stance. I certainly can't deny that at times I feel a need to impose reason upon a natural world in which the human question of "Why?" may not belong.
But I find my life is full of serendipity, and whether it has arisen from design or chaos is entirely irrelevant. Embracing it allows me to feel connected to the world in a way which feels reciprocal, rather than floundering around on an ocean of ultimately meaningless effect.
The collision of the right circumstances at the right times has given me some of the most formative experiences in my life, not the least of which is love. That's a story of chance that I may recount later. Alcohol was also involved.
My creative skills and passions seem born from moments of revelation that might have easily passed me by. I can recall milestones in my life which at the time seemed utterly unimportant, but in hindsight had the most profound effect on my life's direction. Had my parents made different choices, or had circumstances delayed or given me different opportunities, I would be a completely different person. I like to think that this me is among the better possibilities.
Mostly, serendipitous circumstance has given me the amazing folk in my life: Friends and colleagues who fill my days with humour and creative challenge and motivation and inspiration. That alone is worth the admission fee.
So if you believe there's a purpose to it all, or if you believe we're all just a roll of the dice, serendipity is at the very least a reminder that while sometimes the world will seem alien, inhospitable and of inexplicably cruel intent, there will be times where it is incredibly bountiful; a cornucopia of optimism and potential.
And in that spirit, I say to everyone: Thank you for being in my life. A the edge of my universe, where it meets the edge of yours, something pretty amazing has happened: A little bit of overlap; a little bit of your existence leaving its mark on mine, and hopefully, vice versa. There-in lies the reason for me.
To my uncle: I love you, and I will miss you. Byron said "You always were a bit of a Galah". I think the birds were for you. I'm thankful for that.
A while back I wrote a post about Mass Effect 3 and my feelings about how it ended. Words like "disappointed" and "embarrassed" and maybe even a little "infuriated" summarise that post.
Well, I just read that the Mass Effect 3 DLC will be released next week. And it's an "Extended Cut".
More of that awful, derivative ending? I'll pass thanks.
I've been waiting with baited breath for that announcement, so to read that it's nothing more than additional cut-scenes is the official signal of the death of the Mass Effect franchise for me. One of my favourite series of all time - ALL. TIME. - utterly and irevocably ruined by an author who thought he was being clever and subversive by giving us a mash-up of terrible sci-fi tropes in an ending that is every bit as unsatisfying as "He woke up and it was all a dream".
And the worst of it all is the retroactive effects of those last five minutes of the trilogy. Those awkwardly forced resolutions, stumbling through a sequence of illogical exposition and an almost flippant disregard for everything that has come before it, does not merely damage the minor fraction of the fiction that is the ending: It travels back in time to when I started the series, beating it to death with its own corpse along the way.
All of the souls met in this journey, all of sacrifices, all of the relationships built and destroyed, battles won and lost, lives saved and left behind... They all mean nothing. The fucking Starchild got a time machine and hacked my epic journey to pieces.
It feels like being trolled. I want to unplay the entire trilogy. Well done on maintaining your "artistic integrity" BioWare, I'm sure that your writers feel smugly satisfied. That's much better than giving thousands of fans what they want.
According to my schedule, I must (as of this moment) completely stop all work. Part of the plan with scheduling my time so that I make better use of it, is ensuring I schedule time off to avoid the inevitable resentment that creeps up when none of your time is filled with pointless lack of productivity. In other words: All work and no play makes Boon quote Stephen King novels.
None of us want to be subjected to that now, do we?
Also according to my schedule, from 10am tomorrow morning I begin reskinning my blog. I've wanted to do it for a long time. Since about 12 minutes after this skin went live, in fact. I'm unlikely to get it finished tomorrow, but I will sure as hell be making a start. It'll involve Photoshop, isometric tiles, cartoon nudity, and as much pop-culture plagiaristic intent as I can possibly cram into it. I look forward to being mortified at my clumsy and naive attempts at illustration.
So I've finished the first phase of this procedural content system that I'm building for the game I haven't spoken about yet. How pointlessly and yet stubbornly cryptic! Anyway, I added passage carving to the maze: In a two step process post generation, dead-ends are examined to see if the cell beyond the dead-end is within an allowable distance, and if so a passage is carved. Additionally, a user-defined number of random cells are selected, a direction chosen, and a passage carved under the same conditions (i.e. if it wouldn't break the maze to do so). This results in a maze with multiple paths and some interesting path shapes.
I also added a rudimentary zoning system. Right now, it's super basic and probably not really all that usable, as it simply selects a random cell and then grows the zone outwards from that cell, checking along the way to ensure it doesn't break the same rules of the previous two passes. I'd like to implement a more predictable and controllable algorithm at some point, perhaps using a proper noise function, but what I have now is enough for me to move on to the next step, which should probably be something to do with gameplay.
So this game? It probably has zombies or something. Almost definitely. And guns. Y'know, because I'm a pioneer of new things.
I played around today adding random functionality to the maze generator - basically anything which seemed like it might be useful to know, for example, which cells are dead ends, or a particular cell's normalised distance from the starting position. This kind of stuff can be used to create interesting "hunt them down" events, or to ramp up difficulty as the player progresses through the maze.
There's a whole bunch of other stuff happening in there, too (recording areas of continuous linearity, or areas with a lot of direction changes, intersections, potential space for larger rooms, etc.) None of it was particularly targeted development, but I can think of how I might use all of these things in different game types. And as always, if anyone has any links or google search phrases or anecdotes or anything really relating to procedural content, I'd love you to share it.
And once again, I couldn't help posting a ridiculous sample, because I find it hypnotic to stare at. It's like it's... speaking to me, saying something... something.... kill.
And my 1Day game this week is totally going to have to use the maze generator...
Okay so it's another small update but I wanted to share because I think it's rad: The maze generator now has a simple checkbox to enable/disable wrapping, so it's now possible to generate mazes with non-uniform boundaries. A wrapped maze behaves the same as a regular maze regarding paths (i.e. there's only a single path from any point in the maze to any other), but it does so ignoring the square shape of the grid, and allowing passages to wrap from one side to the other.
I know, I know: It's... aMAZEing, right? right? right?
As of 9:35 this evening, I can cross "earthquake" off my bucket list. At first I was like "That's weird, it's almost like we're having an earthquake, how absurd" and then it dawned on me that was because we were having an earthquake. Not exactly a bunker buster: Only 3.2 magnitude, 12km under ground. But it was just enough to give me the sense that a real earthquake must be terrifying. Now I'll go read Planet X conspiracies all night and scare myself stupid. How bizarre.
Since I promised @Phil_XG this one (and then completely forgot about it) here's my frakking delicious pasta sauce recipe. This one's a little bit more expensive and a lot more fiddly than the ideal indie-living survival foods I've previously posted, but it's totally worth it! It makes a tonne of sauce which can be frozen and reheated later (and is much omnom'ier than jar sauce).
Spicy Chorizo Pasta Sauce
- 1.5kg Roma Tomatoes
- 1 x Zucchini
- 2 x Spicy Chorizos
- 1 x Red Chilli
- 1 x Large Red Onion
- 4 x Garlic Cloves
- 50g Butter
- 1 x tsp Caster Sugar
- 1/2 Cup Red Wine
- 1/2 Cup of fresh basil leaves
- 2 x Tbsp Olive Oil
NOTE: Please do your general health a favour and try to source ingredients that contain no artificial additives, or obfuscated ingredients (e.g. "Firming Agent (517)" which usually means it's something with too many chemical syllables to fit on the packaging). Stick to things your grandma would recognise.
- Halve the tomatoes, lay them on baking paper or a greased baking tray cut-side-up, season with salt, pepper, and sprinkle over two pinches of caster sugar. Drizzle with olive oil, and bake in an oven at 180 degrees for an hour.
- Once cooked, put the tomatoes in a mixing bowl and cover with glad wrap. Leave sit for 15 minutes to loosen skins, then remove skins from the bowl (using a fork is easiest). If removing the skins annoys the shit out of you, you can just leave them in but you WILL need to process the tomatoes in step 5. Removing the skins is better.
- Melt butter in a pot, add finely chopped garlic, onion, chilli (seeds removed) and thinly sliced chorizos to the pot. Sizzle and stir until onion is soft and chorizo is browned.
- Add wine to the pot and bring it to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes until wine is noticeably reduced and the alcohol smell is gone.
- Either process the tomato in a food processor first, or just add it directly to the pot. I don't process it as I like the chunkiness of tomato in the sauce. Also add the zucchini, chopped into 1cm chunks.
- Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes, adding the half cup of basil leaves (chopped, I leave them fairly chunky) and simmer for a further 10 minutes.
- DEVOUR. Probably with pasta.
I'm not a wine guy, and I don't know if it's a faux pas to use white wine in pasta, but substituting white in place of the red gives the sauce an almost tart quality that is very nice. Either is fine!
If you make this, let me know how it goes!
I am doing WAY too many things. The major consequence of which is that when I start working on something, the volume of work I have left to do inevitably climbs onto my desk and starts mocking me and my lack of progress, which of course sends me into a breathless panic, and rather than being productive I sit around lamenting my lack of productivity and ultimately get nothing done at all.
Evolution should have sorted this shit out by now. It's amazing any of us get anything done at all, instead of just staring at the wall all day in abject terror.
So I wrote a schedule. I've never written myself a schedule any more complicated than "Pick Heath up from the airport some time this week". It's a pretty fast way to measure just how overloaded you are. Which of course, doesn't help AT ALL. Now I just feel like I've simply reaffirmed beyond all doubt that I can't possibly get anything remotely worthwhile done in the far-too-few hours within a lifetime. I should have just kept winging it.
Or become a reclusive hermit and stop wasting time on pointless activities such as recreational pursuits, cleaning, interacting with other human beings, eating, and making blog entries. In the time it took me to write this, I could have instead coded an accidental infinite loop and locked Unity into a permanent state of inactivity. How wonderfully metaphorical.