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Friday, February 11, 2005

DICE Gets It

I could rant a bit more about my trials against an evil Trojan/Worm ... I could, but I won't. That's how much I respect you.

Instead, I'll notice this:

FZ: When Valve released Half-Life 2 last year criticism quickly arose due to the fact that they assumed people wanting to do modifications would have access to the commercial compiler and IDE Microsoft Visual C++ .NET 2003, which costs several hundreds of euros. What tools will be required to fully modify Battlefield 2 in addition to the tools that DICE will provide?(Steven Svensson)

LG: We have greatly enhanced our support for modders by giving the option to create modifications through the script language Python. This means that there will be no requirement to have access to Microsoft Visual C++ as you mentiond in your question.

from here...

That's excellent news. My biggest problem with engines like Source and Doom 3 is that they just assume you'll have a few hundred to spend on MS's IDE's. There's already much hubbub in the modding community about the basic necessity of pirating 3DS Max (which, btw, it took one of the creators of 3DS Max to jump start modding on the first BF) simply to create models. Efforts by Valve and Epic to include free versions of competing tools simply doesn't add up to Max's domination in the industry. At least with Unreal you don't have to spend a nickel to code for the thing. Doom 3 comes close, because you can do an awful lot of scripting and creating objects without having to compile a line of code - but to do the serious lifting you'll need to acquire Visual Studio.

It's really a ridiculous requirement in this day and age of modding. Sure, in the days of Quake and Doom it was swim at your own risk - but these days modding is a fundamental part of the industry. It adds longevity to titles, spurs innovation and helps the studios find talented help risk free. Lowering the entry requirements should be a high priority.

It will be interesting to see how it plays out. Python is pretty powerful, but will they extend all their objects via a scripting language? Unreal works in a similar way - allowing modders to use UnrealScript without poking directly into the C++ engine itself. Will it be fast? Will there be a compiler? Will there be Python examples to pull from (much of Unreal's actual game logic is in UnrealScript, providing a huge library of examples for coders to pull from).

In any case, this just bumped BF2 far up the potential purchase ladder for me.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Dead Day Diary

Windows hates me. It tries to leave me every chance it gets. Last night while trying to update some software for my digital camera, I let it reboot when it asked. Then it crashed. For the inexperienced of the ways of Windows going southward, here's a tip. When Safe Mode boots into an Kernal Error ... you're fscked.

The best thing Microsoft did in XP was it's wondrous repair mode - several times more effective than previous versions and has now saved my butt twice.

So yeah, sometimes I come home and work. Sometimes I come home and play. Then sometimes I wonder why one blue screen is a deeper shade of blue than another.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Regular's Return DS

Back from the Big City (like Chicago is something to sneeze at ... wait, was that a pun?) and I'm catching up up on some reading material - blogs, gaming news, my inbox of 200+ messages.

One of those was Robin Hunicke's gewgaw blog. Robin being one of those incredibly attractive, intelligent women who appears to do little but think about games or play them. In other words, she's probably not of this world. In a write up of 2004 gaming, she mentions:

And then there's the Nintendo DS – which blends all my favorite portable game features with a touch screen and ad-hoc wi-fi. I've only managed to play XX – XY: Feel the Magic so far – but it's already got me dreaming about new kinds of gameplay and interactivity.

Which made me wonder ... why don't I like the DS? I also have a fetish for touch screens (couldn't resist putting that mental image in someone's skull, sorry) and it's hard to argue against. In fact, I'm all for gaming devices trying something new or interesting. Hell, I generally insist on it.

But I don't think DS is really trying anything all that interesting. In fact, it feels terribly intrusive to me. Two screens, one being a touch screen - it's shoving Nintendo's idea of innovation right in your face. Imagine a game that didn't try to take advantage of the two screens - you'd have this big dead panel in the middle of your device.

Why doesn't the DS sport a nifty analog stick like most of the other current gen handhelds? Because Nintendo insists you use their touch screen. See what I mean? If they had one screen that was touch enabled and an analog stick, they would have given developers and gamers the best of both worlds - a touch of innovation with some tried and true evolution. As designed, the DS feels something like platform around a gimmick - and I don't want a platform that I have to wonder how each title will make use of that gimmick.

And to keep my oath of making them my underdog of the year ... it should be noted that such a handheld exists. The Zodiac uses both a touch screen and an analog, and they apparently work swimmingly.

I like Nintendo, and I like that they try new tricks with hardware. Lately though, it feels like they've just been trying too hard. I mean ... bongos? Bongos??