General update

April 18th, 2011 Comments off

Just a general update on things, since I haven’t posted in a while,

Capsized is just finishing development now. The release date is set for April 27th on Steam, though after stressing out about it tonight I might decide to delay things a few days, mostly just to keep my sanity. We showed it off at SXSW and got a really good response, so I can’t wait to see more player’s reactions.

I’ve been doing a lot of web development work as 3dElement the past year – since game development can’t exactly pay any bills if there are no releases. The biggest project was a website for a local business group called SYPE

Looking at some old posts, it’s pretty hilarious I said Capsized was ‘basically done’ in May of last year – at least now a date is set

Categories: Capsized, Web Development

Short Shory – The Fun Machine

January 19th, 2011 No comments

Story written while in university for a story writing class. Not exactly a story though

 

 


The fun machine!
Not satisfied with having to think to enjoy books?
The fun machine!
Bored with the TV and you don’t want to move?
The fun machine!
Call your local dealer now, and remember,
If it ain’t fun, it ain’t the Fun Machine!

Jonathan stared at his kid’s newest toy, and wondered why he had not bought one of these before. The young model on the cover was the first thing he had noticed, smiling at him with wide white teeth and photo-shopped beauty. She didn’t seem human; she seemed plastic, fake, too good and too perfect. Yet why would he care, it’s all just ink on a cardboard box trying to make him think this beautiful women is staring at him. Trying to make him buy their product with this manufactured love. He had realized with this that man was easily tricked. That the eyes and indeed all senses, could be deceived. It didn’t matter if this woman was real and flesh standing in front of him, or whether she just was ink on a cardboard box, he was attracted to her all the same.
The Fun Machine – the hit of the summer. The final toy for us to play with and enjoy.
Jonathan opened the cardboard box and took out the colorful instructions from their wrapping.

‘Congratulations on your purchase of the Fun Machine 3.05! The latest version of the world’s #1 toy, ten years running! We at Friendly Fred’s toy company (a division of Hamimac Inc) know you will enjoy this fine product, we made sure of it! Now before you use your new hardware, please take the time to read these instructions carefully. Failure to do so may further limit the terms of the limited warranty. The Fun Machine 3.05 represents a significant technological improvement over past versions, and many new features have been added to make your use as enjoyable as possible.
Take a minute to inspect the contents of this box. You should find:
1. Main control and switch box
2. 500 volt, 60 Hz AC power adapter
3. Five nerve cables
4. This manual, with warranty information.
First simply take out the main control box and plug the power adapter in. Once the machine has power you should see a green icon on the console of the box, this tells you that the machine is ready for fun! Now all you need to do is connect any of the five nerve cables (enough for the whole family!) into the plug-in’s under the machine console. Once this is done grab the end of the nerve connectors, it should have a sharp metal point at the end of it, and hold it in your right hand, gently inserting it into the blue vein on your left forearm. It should only feel like a small mosquito bite, and now time for the fun!
Simply adjust the dial above where you connected the nerve cable, and you’ll feel the instant pleasure just surging through your veins! Start at one for a bit of fun, and go to 10 for maximum enjoyment.
Be sure to tell your friends about how much you liked our product. And remember, if it ain’t fun, it ain’t the fun machine!

Jonathan was at first hesitant to try it. Like many others he viewed the machine as a simple toy for kids. After all, the early versions were basically a glorified DVD player. Sold as a game console at first, you would connect it to the TV and it would give you hundreds of options for entertainment. Every TV show ever filmed, every movie in crisp high-resolution format, along with hundreds of interactive games and toys. In the first version a person would just select his or her enjoyment from the menu, taking time to search for old reruns and good movies, but in the 2.0 versions the machine could just decide for them. The machine knew what would entertain you the most; what would give you the most possible pleasure. It would not only know your preferences to select the best content, but would literally change the content based on your enjoyment. No longer would you have to actually move your fingers on the remote control, and actually think about what to watch—it was all automatic. Detecting any sudden boredom, any drop in brain wave levels, it would quickly switch to something with a little more action, or a few more jokes. You could sit comfortably in the chair and be entertained for hours without a single movement, without a single thought of the outside world.
But there were improvements in every version, as there always is. The pleasure became more efficient and accessible, requiring less thought and less movement from the viewers. In the late 2.0 versions, the machine would automatically raise your blood pleasure when there was a fight on screen; increase your body’s adrenaline for the action you were seeing. For romance your heart would beat faster. Adult entertainment became instantaneous. It expanded beyond just sight and sound, as all senses were attacked with entertainment, making you smell and taste what you were seeing. The actual drama and visual art on the screen became less important, as the enjoyment no longer came from the content but rather the feeling the machine gave you.
But finally, that all became pointless as the Fun Machine advanced to Version 3.0. Rather than showing the viewer entertainment and drama and letting them interpret it, using their minds to compute the data, why not just go straight to the source? Simply inject the pleasure. Why depend on the viewer to understand what they are watching, having the brain interpret it and then send it to the pleasure neurotransmitter, when the machine can simply send the chemicals itself? No longer would we have to go through the eye, to the optical nerve, when we can simply bypass and enjoy. Thinking is optional.
Simulation of action and drama is not longer required. After all, when complete control of the mind is grasped, there is no need for simulation, it’s not an illusion. It’s real, as real as anything. Soon there was no distinction between action or comedy; no distinction of sight from sound; it was all just pure white endless bliss. The machine no longer needed a screen—or any content provided to it—it was simply pure joy surging through your veins.
Jonathan wondered, was this the end of humanity? Finally we could forget about the sports, the games, and all the endless searches for pleasure. We could forget about reality itself, just plug yourself in and enjoy. The former idea of humanity was no more, no longer was man a simple animal fighting the environment for his needs, he had advanced beyond that. Throughout man’s history there was always a steady progression towards this point, towards this toy, and now we had finally reached it. Enjoyment by simulation is what had made us special—separate from other animals only focused on reality.
For humans to have survived, our survival skills had evolved over many generations— but there came a point where survival was too easy and too simple. There was no longer a constant struggle to live, we had hit an unnatural point of complete control of our surroundings and domination over nature. Without this struggle, men became comfortable —able to eat and live how they pleased without having to use these survival skills they had developed. But we needed to use these skills to give us a sense of purpose, to pass the time and fill our minds with goals and objectives. To simulate the past struggle—from that came the games and sports.
Now instead of fighting to live, you would use those skills to kick a ball into a net, to accomplish some random goal designed in the simulation, to fight your fellow man in some arbitrary show of strength. Men would still have the need for bloodlust; still have the aggression of the past, only unable to use it. They needed to fight each other, whether in actual battle or these simulated games.
It was tricking the brain. Tricking it to think you’re on the hunt. That you need that aggressive boost to survive and eat, when really you are just trying to kick a ball into a net, pointlessly, to pass the time, to feel useful, to fill the mind with thoughts and goals. We couldn’t just sit and eat, we needed a reason to move, even if it was pointless and lead nowhere. There needed to be something to fight.
As the culture advanced, we no longer had this same desire. Why move and interact when we could avoid that wasted energy entirely, with entertainment we could just sit and watch. Entertainment that could be displayed in front of us filled with drama and action, since our lives had little of either. It started with plays—actors faking emotion and drama for the joy the audience. Slowly this entertainment became more easily accessible, as everything does. As we advanced in technology we were able to even simulate plays in front of us, showing simulated dramas on large screens for public viewing. Soon movie theaters were replaced by television. Now a person would not have to leave their house, they wouldn’t need to socialize with others, or deal with any problems, they could just turn on their television, turn off their minds, and enjoy for hours on end. Letting commercials and marketers seep into their brains, convincing them to buy whatever fun little toys would give them the most joy. Old ladies watching soap operas as if they are there experiencing this dramatic love interest, when really they are just staring at pixels on a screen. Housewives and soccer moms falling in love with their favorite reality show contestant, thousands of miles away. Sitcoms with a laugh track, as if you’re in a large social group with everyone laughing and enjoying each other when really you’re alone in your basement eating microwaved food. You could watch violence and sex in front of you, tricking your mind as if you were there, but it was all just fantasy. All just simulated. But did we ever really care? Fake or real, all that mattered was the joy it brought us.
Turn on the TV and root for your team—as they are fighting a war for your side, as if it actually matters, when really it’s just hoping they put some arbitrary ball in an arbitrary net. These pointless games and sports to give people a cause, to fill their mind with something to care about. You care about the team because you are told to care about the team; you root for them because everyone else is. A battle over nothing.
Then came the virtual games, the next step. Now instead of having to think how to catch our food, or how to survive, we can simulate the whole thing in the comfort of our home, while our food comes packaged and delivered. I can fight on the beaches of Normandy, a thousand times, all with a can of soda beside me. I can level up my orc, and have massive epic adventures, all in an air conditioned room.
‘Virtual’ entertainment meant less moving, more just instant fun. But all success and advancement for man has been measured as this. More comfort, less to think about and deal with, all so we can just sit and enjoy the pleasure of a non-eventful life. Things become quicker and smaller, all life becomes easy and painless. Faster cars to drive but less purpose in moving.
The fun machine was the next logical step then – the final step of our simulation of reality. Buy the device; insert it into the arm, and instant fun. No need to think now, you just sit and enjoy.
This is the end of society, the end of science really. Our evolution, our discovery, being able to understand our world and our bodies more and more—this is the end result. But after all, that’s exactly what it was all for. Whatever the path of science, all people cared for was faster cars, more comfort, better more joyful lives. Science as a search for meaning had no end. There would be no conclusion of discovery. This is the final achievement of man’s quest. Our focus on simulation and our ability of abstraction has led us to this point. We can now pleasure ourselves into extinction – and nature will move on.
It used to be the brain was a slave of the body. The brain developed as a calculation tool to get food, to survive. The body rewarded the brain with pleasure, with satisfaction, if it did get food or reproduce. It stabbed it with pain whenever the body wasn’t taken care of. But now, the human brain has found a shortcut. What is the point of sex now, and rewarding the population, if Jonathan can just flip this switch to feel a thousand orgasms? People will call it immoral; people will see it as the wrong path. But it is the right future, the proper course for humanity. Finally, we are able to ignore the body, stop being a slave to its needs, and just enjoy the sweet smells, tastes, and sights, of this simple machine.
This is truly man’s finest hour. It is heaven, as only heaven could be. There is no longer pain, no longer even thought, it’s sweet nothingness and infinite bliss. There is no need to think about the next day, or what to do, or the economy; it’s barely even existence.
Jonathan plugged himself in, as all the doubts he had left him.
He remembered the feeling he had when he first had a kid, the joy of life and love. He felt that today, he felt the satisfaction of years of hard work for accomplishment, and it didn’t feel fake. Jonathan couldn’t tell the difference between years of a love filled marriage, and a few seconds of the machine. The kid won’t either, and he shouldn’t.
It’ll be a bright future for us all.

Categories: Stories

Nexuiz, Pax, OnLive

September 13th, 2010 Comments off

Went to this year’s PAX to promote Illfonic’s Nexuiz, check out the end of this post for all the media sites covering it, and some screens of the booth (it was right beside the Portal2 booth, a lot of traffic)

PAX was pretty incredible – watching people try Nexuiz, talking to a number of other indie devs, trying up and coming projects, and mostly just enjoying the excitement there. Unlike GDC, where many of the developers view the convention as more of a job, PAX is entirely fans really passionate about games.

I made little brochures for Capsized to hand out to key people, mostly publishers and media. One possible route that seems interesting is putting Capsized on the OnLive service. OnLive is a streaming video game service that basically runs on the server and sends the frames to the client. When I first heard of the idea it definitely seemed too soon, even though it’s clear thats the future of gaming. It solves so many problems; you can charge by the time alike to classic arcade games, it completely stops privacy since only the OnLive servers have the actual executables, and you only have to develop for one platform and instantly it works on everything that OnLive supports. I love the idea, but it will take at least 5-10 years for the average customer to have the bandwidth needed for that, you need at least a 5 Mbps connection to have a playable game. What was surprising when trying the service though was how smooth a first person shooter was, you barely noticed the 10milisecond delay. While something like World of Goo, which uses a mouse, had very noticeable input lag.

I am also interested in the service because it means I can have a prerelease version of the game on the service without hitting anything else. So I can release the game publicly to a small market, while not being worried about a public leak. And since it’s a prerelease, I can update it whenever and all the OnLive players will be playing the updated version. The only issue is since it’s on one server, it wouldn’t be good for beta testing a wide variety of systems, which is usually what a public beta test is for.

Nexuiz in the media:

http://www.themoderndaypirates.com/pirates/2010/09/pax-report-nexuiz/

http://thegamefanatics.com/pax-preview-nexuiz-bringing-old-school-shooters-to-the-21st-century/

http://www.curse.com/articles/other-en-news/815911.aspx

http://www.gamersnexus.net/features/gg/417-the-best-of-pax-10

http://www.hotbloodedgaming.com/2010/09/08/pax-2010-nexuiz-an-arena-fps-youve-probably-never-heard-of/

http://www.gamegavel.com/forum/entry.php?b=154

http://thegamefanatics.com/pax-preview-nexuiz-bringing-old-school-shooters-to-the-21st-century/

http://xboxlive.ign.com/articles/111/1118696p1.html

http://www.platformnation.com/2010/09/06/pax-prime-2010-nexuiz-preview/

Categories: Capsized, Nexuiz

Browser Nexuiz

May 14th, 2010 Comments off

Google used Nexuiz to show off their Native Client project:

http://www.downloadsquad.com/2010/05/13/introducing-the-next-step-in-web-app-development-google-nativ/

Nexuiz is shown at the end of the video. I couldn’t find any information on them releasing the ported source, but it wouldn’t matter with the project being so early and unused.

In other news, Capsized is now in a semi-public play testing phrase. The game is basically done except for the last level (waiting on the artist to get back from Italy next month to finish it), and I might redo the first training level to be more cinematic and better for a first impression. At this point I am interested to hear some first impressions on the game. I am hoping to get play testers who are experienced in the indie games scene and know the marketplace for games like this, unlike the sort of retro gamers and such I was searching for before.

I’ll also be doing a local play testing session at the University of Saskatchewan. Again I’d like to use this mainly to see first impressions, and how people feel at first about the controls. I doubt a person gives more than 2-3 minutes on a trial game before giving up, so it’s important that the game doesn’t demand too much from the user too early.

Categories: Nexuiz, XNA

Darkplaces video

January 22nd, 2010 Comments off

I just wanted to show off this:

It’s a video I made a few years ago showing off features of the Darkplaces engine (Quake1 based engine used for Nexuiz, developed almost entirely by LordHavoc).

I made it over the span of a few months, recording clips of original Quake1 levels with real time lighting / shadowing, along with some replacement texture packs made by the community.

Categories: Nexuiz