New media 2, hopefully the start of many upcoming new media classes is now in session. this means many more blog posts, and the restart of BMC. I also have gotten a friend to write a script for BMC, with me coding it. Not much of coding when you’re using inform 7 and its natural laungauge. The main issue i have is sounds, I’m trying to incorporate mutliple sounds at once, which is only supported in inform 6. BUT inform 7 can take inform 6 code somehow, and as such a plugin is in development for inform 7. have applied to the beta of dasmusix, but have yet to recieve a response. I am still waiting patiently, and hoping I will be allowed to test and use it.
Today I will hopefully have the introduction and first two chapters of my IF finished and ready to go for class. I’m just finishing the intro and finalizing the basic game shooting engine and also finalizing the contents of chapter 2. So far it’s looking good, and all I’ll have to do after this is the other 4 chapters. I’ve got an ending planned, I just need to make a path there. The ending is heavily involved with one of the player’s choices in the second chapter. I figured the second chapter due to the fact that player has to readjust to his surroundings after the cascade at the start of the first chapter. It wouldn’t be fair to give the player the bad ending just because he messed up due to the fact that he wasn’t fully acclimated to his environment. I’m also really not liking this new WordPress interface, it’s missing a word count.
As my IF is based off a FPS, I figured it best to include a combat system. it’s got the basic Half-Life weapons, plus a few new ones. I had a lot of trouble with implementing shooting actions, an ammo count, and even reloading. I’ve finally figured it out, (thanks to the kind people at Rec.arts.Int-fiction Usenet group) and have almost completed the whole of my new actions (even being able to hack doors with the laptop is now functional). I’ve already got two of the story chapters finished, but I’m adding an interactive intro that will be the beginning that leads to the six story chapters. One of the main issues I’ve been running into is things being ambiguous, or that alot of my code is written in a way that I7 recognizes two or more parts as the same thing, and ignores all but the last part. One more problem is that since I haven’t finished the intro I cannot test the weapons in the later story chapters. I’m also having some problems with size. Because of the audio effects I am incorporating, the file has gone from 26kb to 26mb. this a very large difference, and it could cause some distribution problems for the finished product. I also found a forum friend who does amazing musical work. He goes by the user name “Rezter” and agreed to make some background music for me. The one catch is that I’m going to recode in flash and submit to Newgrounds so he can get more widespread of credit for doing the music. I don’t really think that Newground’s ADD, sugar injected preteen fan base will be able to accurately judge an IF though. At worse it will get “Blammed” which I wouldn’t care about, but Rez is quite popular on NG and that could affect his overall reputation.
I had already spent alot of time making my IF before these blogs were assigned, but I figured I can still blog about Pre-Production aspects of parts of BMC (Black Mesa Chronicles, my IF) that are still in development as well as introduce everyone to what I’ve done so far. My basic concept is Half-Life from another point of view, much like the GearBox Software expansions except mine is not a Half-Life mod, it’s coded in Inform 7. It centers around the player who is a scientist that must escape from part of the Black Mesa Facility not shown in any Half-Life games or expansions. Half-Life differed from many FPSs at the time by using scripted sequences instead of cut scenes. The difference is that the player has control during these sequences, allowing for more realism and intensity. This makes Inform 7 quite a suitable medium for my version, as one of it’s key features is that during it’s scenes the player can still remain in full control. In fact the player’s choices during these scenes are going to be what determines the overall outcome of the game. I am also incorporating sound effects, music, and pictures that make the player feel more like he/she is in the classic Half-Life environment. This will hopefully make players familiar with first person shooters and/or Half-Life feel less alienated by the fact that they have much less control in aspects of first person shooters, along with more control along the lines of Inform capabilities. I also plan to integrate a help system uniquely tailored to the capabilities of my game for players new to IF.
In the beginning I was questioning how orignal I could be when everyone in our class had to do the same concept. I’ve avoided that aspect now and stuck to adding complexities to my story. As you can see the main aspect I’m functioning around is the stories of the people in the store, and how they connect. I converted all my pages to HyperTexTopia. I even added quite a bit more to the story, so that it is much more visible how all the characters interlock. With my link names, I always try to anticipate/ describe future events. I normally do this with “The (verb/noun)” to be as simple as possible with still foreshadowing future events. I still plan to add a lot more stories and have them all interconnect. So far, I have the security chief who discovers the punks stealing milk for kittens dumped by the Wife and husband who wrote a book slandering a former founder of a company but now works in the store due to the book. It’s complicated, yet simple how they all connect. Right now I only have three stories in the store. I plan to do eight. and I might move my current three to the end so that they would be the last three. HyperTexTopia is not the best thing for hypertext. If you want to link from a word in the text, you can’t do it again from that link. it’s called a shard and it doesn’t even show up as it’s own page. It justs pops up when you hover over that word. I decided not to use shards and just use the basic navigation system to avoid these problems. I think I’m an intuitive thinker, as I just write whatever pops into my head. then I refine it until I actually like it. I have had many successes so far, But when faced with a problem, I tend to search for a solution, or another solution if the solution is the problem.
Neither of these two New Media Posts could be long enough on their own, so I combined them:
Class Notes 2/28 – Metaphors:
A home page is not really either a home or a page. It’s the starting point where you go when you type the URL without any additional things (I.e. /post-new.php ). Just like this a page is not a tactile page in a book, but a digital representation of part of a path. these Metaphors along with many others in New Media are examples of transcoding. It basically means that we apply familiar terms to new technology that may not really apply well in an effort to make people feel more normal with that new technology. We also discussed the parent-child relationship within web pages. One of the interesting things with web pages is that the parent and child are more like nodes as you can go from a child to a parent in most circumstances, changing the parent to a child and the child into a parent.
Great News- Sound Design roles and the Source SDK:
I was recently accepted as a Sound Artist for a Half-Life: Opposing Force Remake for Source. It’s called Operation Black Mesa. It’s amazing some of the work they’ve done In the past few years. It’s been through at least one management change and it’s still going strong. I hope that I will Be a valuable addition.
The Source SDK is an amazing software package that still bewilders me. I would like to mod my own game, but I don’t have time to do anymore than mere experiments. The other day I had some fun with zombies, enclosed spaces, and a few metro cops. Zombies always win in close quarters, this was no exception. 5 Zombies against 12 Metro cops in a small hallway left me with about 2 zombies taking down the last Metro Cop. Aside from personal fun and amusement, the Source SDK is also a gateway to new experiences and other software such as the XSI Mod Tool and Visual Studio. One of the best aspects of the Source SDK is its variability aspect of a much loved game; Half-life 2. The ability to mod the game gives the player full “writerly” control. Also I would like to say that I did not know at the time that there was a HL1 SDK, My assumptions about it not existing were wrong. Another aspect of HL2 that the Source SDK improves is the modularity aspect. Before, the different parts of the game (sounds, Textures, Models, and other things like the HUD) were all combined to make the game. Now, The Different parts to make the game are available to the player and are combined to allow the player to literally “Make” the mod.
All aspects of new media involving sound require sound design. Video game sound design is probably one of the biggest fields, as web designers are normally on a much smaller budget and will use whatever sounds they can find. I have been doing Sound design unprofessionally as a hobby for a few years now, and it’s amazingly fun and great way to enhance your senses. (or sense in this case) Sound design has been around since the “old media” days. Music, TV, and Radio all incorporate sound design. Way back when radio shows that sounded an awful lot like today’s TV shows aired, they had Foley artists. Foley artists were the precursor to modern sound designers. They would manually produce the sounds live for the show and had no means of editing or manipulating the sounds other than how they made it. If they wanted a door to rattle the would hit a large piece of wood. I’m not saying that those were the good ‘ol days, Infact they were horrible. I like my modern Sound Editors and DaWs like Audacity, Nuendo, and Goldwav.
One of the most interesting aspects of the Half life series is it’s wide range of mods and even with Half-Life 2; a free modding system to those who have purchased the HL2 game. I cannot say for sure whether or not Half-life 1 had this amazing component but I’m pretty sure it did not as i have just purchased Half-Life 1 through Steam and no SDK for it has appeared in my tools category unfortunately. I do believe however that a version of hammer exists for HL1 as i have seen it along with many third-party modding tools for HL1. While this may be a Valve product, it is not an SDK all by itself (hammer is just a map editor). I’ve even seen a third-party model viewer for HL1 which would not be necessary if there was one with HL1. The Source SDK has three main components- Hammer editor, Model viewer and Face poser. Face Poser seems to be made for making cut scenes in your mod, but I could be wrong. It allows you to manipulate a characters face and make them talk even, so that’s my logical conclusion- despite having never needed it. The Source SDK also has links to some very helpful programs and places. SoftImage XSI seems very useful if I could get out of my NURBS modeling mindset (I’m proficient at Rhino 3D) and move onto polygons and other programs’ versions of NURBS (nothing seems to have the same NURBS interface as Rhino 3D despite the fact that they also support the same NURBS standards). What I’m talking about is 3D modeling and making your own objects for Half-Life 2 (just felt I needed to clarify as I was throwing around what might seem to some as technical gibberish). It even allows you to edit your own set of the source code, but that requires Microsoft Visual Studio 2003/2004 which i cant afford and cannot seem to find a trial of anymore (they’re on to 2008 which i would download but in 5 years things can change drastically). Anyway, in the meantime I’m happy experimenting with my own maps and trying to figure out if I even want to make something on the large scale.
One of things about our technology discussion that made a large impact on me was the idea that technology is an extension of us and the five senses we have. Sticks, when used properly, are technology and are an extension of our arms and our tactile senses. The teachers tried specifically to state that the common misconception that “technology is electric is false”, without alienating us from the fact that most electric items are technology (would be all electric items less we forget lightning). One humorous way that they worded this was that, “TV images do not come through the plug.” Next up in my notes are the ideas about narratives and how “Everything is a story.” It always starts with the introduction of the protagonist. Like how in Star Wars IV you have “hero, then conflict.” And then the Conflict is eliminated by some means. Then the story reaches a climactic point when Luke uses the force instead of his computer guidance systems to destroy the death star with a laser or missile of some sort. One interesting thing about the writerly texts is that it makes the reader a producer of the texts, like in a CYOA. this is in contrast to the statement made about readerly texts that says, “It is what it is,” it, being a static text. The key difference between these two texts appears to me to be interactivity.