tempest in a teacup

the pointless musings of a strange recluse

Free weekend!

Valve is holding its third Team Fortress 2 free weekend this upcoming weekend – I would strongly encourage anyone with a decent PC to check it out. It’s easily become my favourite multiplayer pastime.

On top of that, it looks like they’ve been giving out guest passes for the game, and I have one that entitles the recipient to three days of free TF2. I’m putting it up for grabs here, so if anyone wants it, let me know!

(If you want to know what I mean by “decent PC,” the system requirements for TF2 are located here: http://steampowered.com/v/index.php?area=app&AppId=440&cc=US)

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MY BLOOD! HE PUNCHED OUT ALL MY BLOOD

Meet the Sandvich!

(No, that is not a typo)

The Heavy update has finally arrived, and I took the opportunity to put a few hours into the game to see what had changed. I’ve already seen Heavies running around with all three unlocked weapons, so the achievements are definitely quite reasonable this time around.

I haven’t tried Arena Mode yet, although I will eventually. I did get to play a few rounds on Badwater Basin, the new payload map. I like the fact that there are now several side passages and back alleys that I can rely on for my Pyro ambushing. On the other hand, it seemed like the last cap was just as entrenched as the last cap on Goldrush tends to get on full servers. Time will tell, I suppose.

I didn’t see any servers running cp_steel, which was a little surprising, given that it was a community map that was overwhelmingly recommended to Valve for inclusion in the update. I did, however, see my TF2 client either crash or boot me out of the server I was playing in for no apparent reason. Others seem to be having similar problems – a patch will be needed.

Still, the abundance of Heavies means ample opportunities to get those Medic achievements – or improve my Spy skills.

On an unrelated note, I nabbed the PC version of Bionic Commando: Rearmed off Capcom’s digital store last week, and so far I have to say it was worth the money. I never played the original NES Bionic Commando, but this seems to be a decent recreation (although by comparing footage of the NES version to the remake it looks like some of the physics might be different). On top of that, the developers have taken a page out of Portal‘s book and added challenge rooms for people to prove their mastery of the bionic arm.

Also, because I turned on my Wii for the first time in weeks and noticed that Mega Man was available on the Virtual Console, I bought it, and played it for a few minutes. First impressions: this game is just as challenging as the Internet says it is.

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WE MUST PUSH LITTLE CART

The next TF2 update is inbound!

The inclusion of cp_steel is very welcome, but I’m wondering what this ‘new game mode’ and ‘five new arenas’ are all about. Hopefully it’s not something retarded like a deathmatch mode.

Then again, that would filter out all the idiots who pick Sniper and hang out on the 2fort balcony all the time…tough choice.

As for the Heavy unlocks, hopefully they won’t be something as overpowering as the Pyro’s backburner. I’m more or less resigned to the fact that there will be class spam until people get their unlocked weapons, but that gives me an incentive to play some of the Heavy’s counter-classes until it dies down :)

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And for a change of pace

Check out this neat piece of machinima that uses Team Fortress 2 character models (as well as a few other interesting ideas):

Watch more TF2 Videos

It’s not great, but there are a few funny bits.

Really good TF2 machinima has been in short supply for some reason. You’d think people would have had plenty of ideas by now…

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Electronic Entertainment something or the other

There were only a few things I was looking for out of the gaggle of E3 propaga- er news:

  1. Mirror’s Edge news (this game still looks bloody awesome)
  2. Sonic Unleashed news (hopefully my dreams don’t come crashing down around me)
  3. Any news out of Valve (this had better come to Steam, damn it… and Episode Three details kthxbai)

Blizzard is a no-show because they just held their Worldwide Invitational where this little game called Diablo III was revealed, and where Starcraft II was shown off in a competitive match for the first time.

Anyway, on to the few other tidbits that caught my eye.

Apparently Nintendo has announced some thingamajig that will improve the motion sensing of the Wii remote. How it does this, I have no idea. I’m more concerned about the fact that plugging that thing into the remote seems to preclude the attachment of a nunchuk for smoother aiming in Resident Evil 4.

Microsoft’s presser was largely uninteresting to me since I don’t own an Xbox 360 and they hardly mentioned PC releases. The reaction on the Internet to the news that Final Fantasy XIII would be coming to Xbox 360 has been hilarious, though. It’s a repeat of the NERD RAGE that erupted when Devil May Cry 4 became a multi-platform title instead of a PlayStation 3 exclusive – somehow they feel betrayed because Square Enix decided to widen the game’s potential market. Whatever. I’ve given up on trying to analyse the psychology of lunatic fanboys.

Oh yeah, that two-player co-op in Resident Evil 5 is pretty cool. I doubt I’ll buy it unless that rumoured PC version materialises though. For the life of me, I just can’t aim with a thumbstick at all. Don’t ask why.

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Doug Lombardi thinks Crytek are a bunch of idiots

Well, no, he doesn’t. But at least this snippet from this interview with him from Shacknews suggests that he thinks that sane system requirements are entirely a developers’ responsibility:

Shack: Does the responsibility lie somewhat with the hardware manufacturers to market their products in a reasonable way, or is it up to the developers to set sane requirements?

Doug Lombardi: Oh I think it’s totally the fault of the developers. Totally the fault of the developers. I mean the graphics guys, their job to keep pushing the envelope, and as they push the envelope, move the lower-end cards down to a nice price point, so that there’s always this evolution that’s happening. If you’re a hot rod type of guy, and you want to spend $400 on the latest thing, you want to have a smoking machine, and when Left 4 Dead comes out you want to run it at its highest resolution with killer framerates, and call your buddies over for a beer and make them all drool over your system, awesome. But if you’re just a guy who wants a decent PC for less than a thousand bucks, and wants to be able to run games on it, there should be a card out there that runs games at a decent famerate and decent fluidity. Then it’s on us to write for both of those guys.

It’s a business decision, really. Too often I think the development side of things runs the house. People say, “Oh, we’ve got to target those high-end core gamers. We have the best graphics, sweetest screenshots, and we’ll get more press, and we’ll win.” Okay, well, you’ll win in the pre-launch phase. Then when the game comes out, and 60-70% of the people who don’t have that sweet machine–maybe even higher numbers, maybe 80% don’t have that sweet machine–well you just cut off your ability to sell to all of those guys.

You know, it’s hard to be able to have games that scale, and to write performance on the high end, and write performance on the bottom end, but you know, winning in any industry means some hard work, and there’s a certain level of hard work that developers have to take responsibility for. And when you see games that do that, where they have solid gameplay, and they scale well across machines, usually those games do well.

Nothing much I can disagree with there, really. Writing an engine that doesn’t scale to lesser systems and then whining that no-one is buying your game is kind of asking to be laughed at.

On a side note, I downloaded the Painkiller demo yesterday (after watching Yahtzee’s review, obviously) and gave it a whirl. It definitely reminds me of Serious Sam a whole lot; it features a ridiculous number of enemies with rather stupid AI who try to basically gangbang you, while you run backwards firing your weapon furiously. The graphics are definitely very nice for 2004 (although I think Half-Life 2 and Far Cry probably outdo it considerably). If anything in the level moves, you pretty much need to shoot it.

Oh, and the gun that shoots shurikens and lightning? It’s awesome.

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I found this on my doorstep when I got home just now

:3

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This was a triumph

I'm making a note here: HUGE SUCCESS.

It's hard to overstate my satisfaction.

(Thanks to , who found it at Kotaku, who in turn got it from somewhere else)

GlaDOSたん大好き~

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