Showing posts with label polaris. Show all posts
Showing posts with label polaris. Show all posts

Monday, September 12, 2016

No Stars, Only Constellations as slow magic (updated)

NOTE: This post details my process and intent with the game No Stars Only Constellations, and basically spoils the game. It is recommended that you play it first.

UPDATED, 18 September 2016: discusses the new ending.

No, it's not really a sex game. (Sorry.)

Astute players may notice that No Stars, Only Constellations is a semi-remake of a previous game bundled in Radiator 1, called Polaris. Much of the initial premise remains the same: the player character is reluctantly on some sort of date with some dude, who implicitly demands that you pay attention to his stargazing story. At the end, he basically leaves you.

The games also make similar points about stargazing: yes it's kinda romantic sometimes, but also, it's kinda bullshit. There's a certain fantasy of stargazing (and space) that, I think, almost never withstands any scrutiny. Maybe it's a metaphor for certain relationships?...

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Radiator 1 notes, memories, and regrets.

NOTE: This post talks about Radiator 1, and spoils much of what happens in it.

I've cleaned up and re-released an old single player Source Engine mod of mine called Radiator. It is free, and anyone with a Steam account (Windows, OSX, or Linux) should be able to play it.

It consists of three standalone chapters -- Polaris, Handle With Care, and Much Madness -- the first two chapters were released in 2009 on-schedule, but the third chapter has lingered unreleased for the past 6 years. Each passing year I've threatened to actually finish it, and today, I've finally made good on my threat.

What suddenly changed now? Well, I actually haven't finished Much Madness exactly... what changed was more my attitude. It proved difficult impossible to "finish" a game that I designed and wrote 6 years ago, from a very different time in my life. I don't have access to those moods or sensibilities anymore! So instead, I'm just going to release it in its pretty rough state, and accept how incomplete and unpolished it feels.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Radiator 1-2 Handle with Care, Sourcemod gameinfo.txt fix for Steampipe VPK file format shift

In the last few weeks, Valve has dropped the GCF file format. A "GCF" was like a ZIP file containing thousands of game files. They were usually quite large (several GB was common) and so they were prone to file fragmentation, which balloons loading times as games need to load more files and assets. With Left 4 Dead, Valve started shifting their filesystem infrastructure to a "VPK" format -- instead of being stuffed into one or two colossal files, game assets are distributed among many more smaller .VPK files, improving loading times. Valve has now converted all their older games to use the new VPK file format too.

It's great, but it has also broken most Source mods made before 2013. Fortunately, the fix is pretty trivial: it involves editing the "gameinfo.txt" to mount the file assets in a different way / order than before.

If you want to play Radiator (or any single player mod based on Episode Two), just follow these instructions:

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I made a video game trailer

I've had this song sitting in a folder (called "trailer music") for about 3 years.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Notes on first person virtual reality / implementation in Unity.

I've been implementing the Oculus Rift VR goggles into my first person projects, and the process has been... interesting.

Valve's excellent introduction to working with virtual reality (per their experiences in porting Team Fortress 2) is the definitive primer to working with VR in a first person context, and more or less the state of the art. However, it also ends with a powerful notion: we're only just beginning with VR, and it's going to take time before we know what we're doing. Here's a very brief summary of general design guidelines, as defined by Valve:

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Liner Notes: Polaris, its narrative + Thoughts on Player Characters

SPOILER ALERT: "Liner Notes" discuss levels in Radiator. You should play Radiator first -- or if you don't care, read on.

Previously: the technical design behind Polaris.

All first person shooters consists of two basic verbs: looking and moving. Mirror's Edge brought on a lot of discussion about the "moving" aspect of an FPS, and it seems we're headed towards some holy grail of body awareness with that - but what about the "looking" aspect? The "looking" verb usually has no cost associated with it, no power - it is a passive action on the part of the player, mere observation. So how about we attach some more significance to the act of looking in an FPS? Can "looking at stuff" be fun too?

This is why nearly all first person games are about shooting: it is the easiest way to make "looking" into something powerful. Hey, I'm looking at your head, and now I'm going to make it explode.

The mechanics of stargazing are about perspective: stars that are lights years and light years apart can appear to be next to each other, forming constellations -- except they don't really exist. It's only when we look at them that they do; that is, the act of looking becomes performative and it actually creates something.

That's what the narrator is doing: looking back.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Liner Notes: Polaris and how it works

SPOILER ALERT: "Liner Notes" discuss levels in Radiator. You should play Radiator first -- or if you don't care, read on.

Polaris began in an "introduction to astronomy" course, when we were assigned to go stargazing. Generally in the United States, the easiest constellations to find are Orion and the Big Dipper. With the Big Dipper, you can easily find Polaris, which points north.

My first instinct was to create a giant forest and see if the player can navigate a foreign landscape using Polaris. So that's what I prototyped.

... It didn't really work out.