Merry Fucking Christmas
||[ Community -> Kiddie Pool ]
|Kiddie Pool posted by DarkUnderlord
||Thu 30 Dec 2004, 9:07 PM
Merry Fucking Christmas.
- You're safe - and you know it!
- Fallout: A Massively Mutiplayer Online Role-Playing Game
- Super-Cool Graphics
- The capacity to act or think differently.
- Fallout 5
You're safe - and you know it!
A good thing to do at the end of any year is to look back on this time
last year and ask yourself whether you've actually achieved anything.
I'm quite proud to say that I haven't. That I haven't just yet, that
is. Sure, you could say that joining the staff here at DAC is achieving
something. I'm just not quite sure what it is I've 'achieved' if that's
the case. For those that may have missed the boat, I believe a short
re-cap on DAC's current year is in order and really, what better place
is there to start an article on the year's events than a look at
yourself? I also don't want to spend too much time on this, so here's
one two three paragraph synopsis of the year at DAC.
The year started with Killzig and Kreegle both at the helm of the site
as they had been for some, God knows how ever long DAC's been around
(we guesstimate since about 1998ish). That's about how long it lasted
though. Killzig seemingly got tired of running DAC and so the site
slipped into some veritable form of internet decay. Everyone went nuts,
basically. Megatron was made an administrator and took all of 24 hours
to turn DAC into a shining example of what not to do with a web-site.
Every registered user was e-mailed tubgirl, among a variety of other
less innocuous things. Kreegle, quite obviously, wasn't too happy with
it all and decided to shut DAC down. For one brief glorious moment in
time the entirety that is DAC was replaced with an image of the Vault
Dweller walking off into the sunset. In reality, that's what happened
to Kreegle after he was thrown out by our Overseer, Saint_Proverbius.
Saint (among others) didn't think the DAC closing down thing should've
happened regardless of how shitty things had become, so they re-opened
the site. But that didn't last too long either.
Seemingly, Killzig forgot to renew the duckandcover.net domain
name. DAC went from the shits, to closed, to re-opened, to offline all
in a brief period of about five months. Not all was lost however, as a
new domain name was purchased: thevats.net. Word filtered out and some
people actually managed to find the site. Except Killzig who at about
the same time seemed to have disappeared off the face of the Earth, or
at least Queensland Australia. And so DAC was left without a captain,
had about two staff memebers who knew of and could access the new URL
but didn't know squat about how to administrate a web-site and was left
with a handful of hard-core members who were really only there because
they had nothing much else better to do.
Which of course, brings us to our current situation. If DAC were a
horse, it would've been shot and shot a long time ago. Fortunately (or
depending on how you look at things, unfortunately) DAC wasn't, or
isn't, a horse and still has some life left. Saint_Proverbius, in one
of his more Saintly moods, deemed that DAC shall live and so it was. In
DAC's 6 days of re-creation, Mr. Teatime was saddled with the
day-to-day running of the joint. Calis came onboard to setup some code
to get the place ticking. I joined the staff to provide backup
assistance with the code and also to begin work on any new systems, as
well as write long-winded articles like this one. King of Creation
joined the staff to post news, I think, and some other people joined as
well, just because it seemed like the kitch thing to do at the time. We
also bought a new domain name, duckandcover.cx, because Killzig owned
thevats.net and no-one knew where he'd gotten to or whether he wouldn't
re-direct thevats.net domain name to tubgirl and leave DAC in the lurch
So there you have it. I'm still working on DAC's new code which
once complete, will allow the site to have more post-apocalyptic
goodness. A new design is being worked on too, which will be launched
at the time the new code comes online. Duck and Cover still has a
future, for the time being at least. Just don't ask me when all that
new stuff will be ready.
On a more personal level, about this time last year I was involved
in selling babies for the Government. People would plop down their
$30,000 AUS and we'd do our best to send them out a black one, a shiny
black one (Some people would ask for white ones but they're few and far
between and incidentally, cheaper too). Needless to say my attitude
(that is to say, burning cess-pool of negativity) is not conducive to
carrying out such affairs. I quit last week (technically I didn't sign
the extension of my contract, which is a lie because I actually did. I
just 'revoked' my consent to its extension in an e-mail I sent on
Christmas Eve - probably not the wisest way to quit but it does the
Which brings me to some other people who we'll find lined up at the
unemployment office this time of year (I'm lieing again though because
I'd personally rather take the next 6 months off, as opposed to
applying for jobs in order to meet the conditions required for me to
get unemployment benefits). I am of course talking about the former
staff of Interplay Entertainment, a company which has defied all odds
to survive yet another year as some sort of zombie enterprise. We can
however take comfort in the reality that quite clearly now, the company
is at least dieing for certain, rather than last Christmas where the
chance of some last minute salvation always seemed possible (however
remote). Black Isle Studios is gone. Jefferson was never finished. Van
Bueuruen (I never know how many u's to put in that) was cancelled.
Fallout: Enforcer was released and it majorly sucked as predicted (See our article here
- This is the point where I get to say I told you so: I told you so)
and finally, the Fallout license was sold for $1 million US, at least
giving Herve enough cash to last another couple of months in his new
rented abode (behind the back of Wal-Mart I believe, in a small brown
... but where does that really leave the once mighty Interplay?
Why, on the brink of creating the greatest MMORPG the world has ever
seen of course! Bankrupting a company once valued at some $200 million
US is no easy feat and it seems Herve thinks he still has some magic
left. Fallout Online (commonly referred to as FOOL, for obvious
reasons) is Herve's silver bullet intended to save the company.
Ironically Herve doesn't realise he's become the living undead now and
silver bullets are harmful. Interplay have lost money, their offices,
their staff, their equipment and any semblance of a fan or support base
they once had. So who's going to make this MMORPG for them? Why, Tim
Cain of Troika Games.
Fallout: A Massively Mutiplayer Online Role-Playing Game
F! True Company Story: "I hope Troika Games continues to make quality role-playing games, possibly expanding to three teams," Cain said.
But most ambitious, he also mentioned venturing into a heavily
trodden path, changing it for the better. In short, creating a
"true-role playing" MMORPG.
The company which proved with the release of the Temple of Elemental
Evil that isometric games aren't some dead genre, locked in the past
forver and that they can in fact sell at least reasonably well, has
seemingly decided that MMORPGs are the future of its survival. A
company which has so far struggled to make an RPG 'the right way' (but
at least seems to be getting better, albeit slowly) seems to think
putting an MM in front of the genre will make a difference. Are they
really so desperate as to risk their company on a genre so fragile and
fraught with problems? I'd have thought the gaming industry itself was
Perhaps that's unfair of me though? At least Troika are making
attempts to work on real RPGs where your choices make a difference. My
only concern is that with each passing release, it seems to prove
Fallout was more and more of a fluke than it was any sort of ingenious
insight to RPG design with the promise of more to come. Then again,
maybe I just think Fallout is better than it actually was? Some sort of
Vulcan mind trick my brain plays on itself to block out all of the bad
memories about Fallout and therefore portray the game in a glowing
light, a classic that can never be out-done? :Fires up Fallout: Hrm...
Nope, you can forget that theory (Adds to the to do list: Write
something up about what makes Fallout so good).
On the bright side, this may well be a last ditch attempt by Troika
to get the Fallout license after losing to Bethesda in a bidding war.
Maybe. The thought of a Fallout MMORPG in Troika's hands causes a
shudder down my spine. Given the issues many people have had with their
titles to date, I don't think they're ready for an MMORPG and all that
that entails. It will be the death of the company. A financial disaster
from which the company could not recover. I don't think I'm ready to
see the end of Troika just yet. Hopefully the new year will see them
find a publisher for Mystary!, their as yet unnamed post-apocalyptic
project that we've all been drooling over since the first screen-shots came out.
Hopefully the game will be major-game-ending-bug-crash free. Hopefully
it will be a return to the glory days of RPGs (if there ever really was
such a time). Hopefully it will sell enough for Troika to fund more
titles like it. Hopefully.
By the way, whatever happened to that great ToEE patch that was
going to fix all of our problems anyway? I say it's time for an
expansion pack. Throw in the litany of bug fixes required and add some
content all in one go. Don't worry, Maxis and Electronic Arts are doing
it with The Sims 2. Release a reasonably complete game now, add all the
content that used to exist in the original later. Expansionitis seems
to be the new disease of the gaming industry. Not that that's
necessarily a bad thing, mind you. Gamers who enjoy the first offering
have the chance to buy more, which is what any happy gamer wants,
really. More levels, more quests, more options for the same game. Not a
whole new game (or at least not yet, anyway). The developers then have
an opportunity to work on more content later. Allowing them to fine
tune the technical things like the engine in the initial release, get
the basics working and then add more, more and more as long as it
sells. Those who don't like the game are only burnt for the price of
the initial product. Those who don't want to pay full price or would
rather wait to see what happens, get to buy the combined expansion
packs later for a much cheaper price. It, as I said, provides an
opportunity to give the gamers what they want: more.
So how's this for a funny idea for a game? It's a first person
shoot'em up. It uses all the old tricks from the original classics.
Monsters magically appear from thin air right behind you, in places
you've already cleared out. The big weapons are found in the middle of
brightly lit rooms where once picked up, the lights go out and the
walls fall down and the player is surrounded by bad guys. There's only
one way through each level so if you find a locked door, it's either
locked indefinately as a 'no go' area, provided only for effect, or you
have to go through another way, find the key and then come back later.
The game will be set mostly indoors, in the dark and rather than
spending effort creating any sort of mood, we'll just give the player a
flashlight and call it 'intense atmosphere'. It will have some outside
areas that you can see from windows but we won't allow the player
outside, except for brief excursions where they have 10 seconds of air
in an air-tank and they have to hop from air-tank to air-tank, all of
which are left conveniently on the ground at 10 seconds intervals, to
get through. God forbid we make any decent outside areas. Oh yeah and
it has super-cool graphics. The best you can get.
I am of course, talking of Doom 3. That so-called 'big gun' of the
FPS world that was released this year. If you noticed the sarcasm in
the previous paragraph, you will be well aware of my feelings for the
game. I wanted more. Doom 3 relied on cheap tricks. Rather than an
air-tank that lasts for 3 minutes so you can have some nice outside
levels on the surface of Mars, you have to play "hop to the air-tank"
whenever you step outside. Air-tanks, quite literally, last only 10
seconds and so you are forced into the laughably ridiculous situation
of hopping around, picking up air-tank after air-tank, in one short
excursion outside as you fight off those giant floating eyeballs.
Apparently this is a game that tries to take itself seriously.
It's time for some originality. I don't want to hit an unopenable
door. A door that's magically sealed because gee whiz, the developers
couldn't be bothered building that half of the base. With quick load
times, todays computers are ever more capable of handling an entire
facility. No linear, straight-as-an-arrow path which is the same each
time. Give the player more, give the player some choice. Build the
whole damn facility, every last bit, and let the gamer wander around
their own way. Let them find their own way to the surface or their own
way through to the portal machine. One way too hard? Go back, find
another way. Some people might call this adding "RPG Elements". I
prefer to think of it as the next evolution of the FPS, a step up I
thought we would've reached by now.
The capacity to act or think differently.
I don't want, nor do I need, super-cool graphics. Just 'good' will
do fine, thanks. I want some mother-fucking gameplay. Whatever happened
to that? Doom 3 with its plastic spiders failed to break any new ground
beyond better looking graphics. Graphics which are too dark to actually
see. I can't say much about the other big release of the year,
Half-life 2, as the old Win 98 machine that's hooked up to the net
wouldn't be able to play it. No internet conection on that laptop of
yours or that un-networked PC? No Half-Life 2 for you! I'm not an
online gamer and I don't see why I should have to hook my PC up to the
internet just to play an offline, single-player game. There is no
reason, other than cost, as to why Valve Software could not offer a
phone number to dial that allows users without an internet connection
on their gaming PC to register Half-Life 2. Microsoft started it.
Macromedia took it onboard. There's no reason why Valve can't.
Ahem. Where was I? Ahhh yes... Speaking of originality, there is
one company who promise to bring some to the FPS genre in the new year.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. (which I guess stands for something) have promised:
... a very special atmosphere. To give you an idea of it,
imagine Ghost Busters in Chenrnobyl, add "Stalker" movie by Andrey
Tarkovsky, "The Roadside Picnic" book by Strugatsky brothers,
intelligent mutant creatures, anomalies, stalkers. As you may probably
know, we went to the very Chernobyl a while ago, and we are up to
bringing its murky atmosphere of post-Soviet reality into the game. The
main game features are as follows:
- 20 square kilometers of the Zone, outdoor areas
- original creatures and their abilities: group intellect, telepathy, telekinesis
- unique types of weapons
- strong non-linear plot with several endings
- realistic communication with any sapient character
- exploring anomalous zones by means of special equipment
- many types of weapons
- two-hand fire
- strong character intellect
- changing world of the Zone
- control of vehicles and robots.
In short, the game sounds great. The artificial intelligence is
supposedly going to be world class with other "Stalkers" (or should
that be S.T.A.L.K.E.R.S.?) able to
improve, gain experience, outperforming the lagging behind player in
terms of storyline development. A situation when a too slow-paced
player finds out that the main objective of the game has been
accomplished without him involved. We can only wait and see whether
those statements are lived up to, or whether "advanced AI" turns out to
be little more than a monster running away from you every now and then.
It also remains to be seen if the developers are able to keep holding
off until the game is ready or whether they'll just release it and then
see how many patches they need after the game's release. Of course, the
other option would be to wait for Project: Phoenix but I don't think
human beings live that long.
Doom 3 and Half-Life 2 each have one. Temple of Elemental Evil has
had 3 so far (the 3rd only just released as I write this). But all
that's nothing compared to the 6 patches required by Silver Style's
latest piece of shit: The Fall. It seems the Fall really did live up to
its name and fell flat on its face right after release. It seems that
if Expansionitis doesn't consume the gaming industry then
Patchamitosis, its friend in crime, will. Almost the cancer of the
industry today, it seems nothing you buy is spared. In most cases,
little more than a week after the game hits the shelves, the first
patch is out. The Fall managed to better that though by releasing its
first patch before they released the game.
I have to say well done to the developers for supporting their
product after release but in the end, who does that really help? Is it
a requirement of today's age to be on the internet constantly looking
for the latest patch to that game you just bought but can't play
because the first quest is broken or because it conflicts with your
graphics card? I can remember my days prior to internet access (back
when the net seemingly really was just about Star Trek) when I bought
gaming mags just to get that latest whopping 20 MB patch (Even when I
got the net, I wouldn't really have wanted to download that on a 28.8
kbps internet connection).
The reason we're often fed is "the developers ran out of time".
Budgets must be met, schedules kept and the gears of the marketing
machine kept moving but does that really help sales? By far the single
biggest seller of games has to be word of mouth. I know I've personally
bought more games because of what others have said then for any other
reason (and certainly not because of advertising). How does releasing a
buggy piece of shite help, when the first 5 people to buy the game
can't play it, then tell their friends they can't play whom then tell
their friends and so the spiral continues. Quite simply, it doesn't
help. I deliberately didn't buy ToEE until the second patch was out
(and seemingly that still didn't help much with the bugs). I know two
people who are waiting to get ToEE in the bargain bin, if they bother
getting it at all.
Seemingly this may be traced back to the gamers want for more.
Games don't generate word of mouth unless they've really got something
spectacular. Greatest graphics! Lip-synching! Phsyics Engine! Over 250
spells! Role-Playing Game of the Year! Some kind of worm on the hook to
lure them in. Generate the hype and get boxes off shelves and into
grubby little hands. This in turn forces developers to aim for these
lofty goals, to build that great new game engine that'll knock 'em all
dead, rather than buying that old one of the shelf. They make a feature
list and they pack them in. One after another features are added.
Selling points they hope will draw enough attention to lure gamers away
from whatever else it is they're playing at that time.
Is the solution then, to cut back on features? Instead of 250
spells, how about just 50? Instead of lip-synching, how about just a
solid game that works without crashing or voice-overs that don't drop
10 decibels and become inaudible right at the most important bit? Let
those things be added with the expansion pack. The other 200 spells,
the extra voice-overs that couldn't be completed in time, the great new
area you had an idea for, those extra quests. Throw them all in and
charge gamers more. Then again, is it really possible to replace one
disease with another? Does that fix anything? Is Expansionitis the
solution to Patchamitosis?
... or am I as a gamer expecting too much? Am I too demanding of
today's developers? Is what I want some unattainable level of gaming
bliss that exists only in my mind's eye? Oh sure, we want great physics
engines and super-copol graphics but Jesus Christ All Mighty, we're
still playing the same games we had back in '92. It's Wolfenstein 3d
all over again, only it's not as much fun. Where are the classics of
Finally of course, speaking of classics, we were all delighted this
year to hear that finally, after 6 years of waiting, not only will we
get our longly desired for Fallout 3 but we'll also possibly get a
Fallout 4 and a Fallout 5 too. The only down-side is that Bethesda are
making them. It could've been worse. Troika could've bought the license
and released a buggy game that failed to meet our (quite unreasonably)
high expectations, proving that Fallout really was a fluke and
destroying all remaining hopes I have in Troika (As a side note, notice
how the Troika logo seems to be of a guy who's trying to move a lever
that's gotten stuck on 'design' and who can't seem to move it beyond
that point onto the final 'code' stage? Perhaps there's a message
there). As a worse scenario, Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel could've
actually sold well and killed the license off in one fell swoop.
Thankfully it didn't though (only 17,000 units sold I believe) and so a
multitude of gamers won't have warped expectations of what a Fallout
game is... or will they?
Morrowind, Bethesda's most recent cash cow, was a good game. It was
fun. You started in a prison (ala every other game Bethesda seem to
make). It was also really, really boring (I've never had so much fun
playing whack-a-mole) and linear. What's worse is that Bethesda seem to
have bought the license without any sort of understanding of the fan
base for the game nor what that fan base wants. "We're all great fans
of Fallout" is the usual proclamation, right at the same time as some
other tid-bit gets released about how turn-based combat is old
fashioned or isometric games are just so like, old man, and like, get
with the times, dudes and dudettes. A guy called Chuck Cuevas said
exactly the same thing and where did his game end up? Down the toilet
(Chucky of course, was the genius behind FO:BOS). There's a reason
there are about 20 minutes worth of official fan club members names
listed in the credits to the Lord of the Rings DVDs. Listening to the
fans pays off (No really, if you paid the $100 and signed up to a three
year membership of the *new* LoTR fan club before the cut-off period,
your name got in the credits. Let's take a guess and say there are
5,000 names in the credits. Do the math and you've got a pay-off anyone
would be proud of).
Perhaps, once again though, I am being too harsh. I critiscise
Bethesda but they're a successful company. Really successful. Morrowind
sold palette loads both on the PC and on the console (perhaps there's a
lesson there for other developers? Cross-platform games - akin to even
the likes of Grand Theft Auto - seem to out-sell their PC only or
console only counter-parts). Things seem to have quietened down now too
as the crazy, whacky PR Pete seems to have learnt to hold his tongue
about things that are "yet to be finalised". The screenshots for
Bethesda's latest game in the making also look really sweet. At least
Fallout 3 will have super-cool graphics...
Merry Fucking Christmas.
The Mailbag: ... is decidely empty for several reasons, one of which being that nobody's sent anything yet. Drop me a line and I'll be sure to make your whingeing public when I decide to do another one of these.