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ROSS’S GAME DUNGEON: REQUITAL

Here’s the latest Game Dungeon! I ended up having a lot of delays on this one, so many I didn’t report them all because I thought people would think I was making them up. I can say most of the issues related to that will be resolved once I move, which I’m hoping to take steps on towards the end of the month. On that note, between moving and working on the movie, there may be a longer than usual delay on the next video. That said, I think this one is solid “Game Dungeon” material and is closer to what I strive for in this show, although maybe not this long.

In other news, I hope to respond to more emails and the site may go down and come back up later this month!

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Wow. I was just refreshing the AF website man page as usual, and saw this post without the comments link at the end, because Ross didn't have time to make a corresponding forum post yet. I don't think I have ever been this early to a new video upload.

 

Given how much of this episode did you have to redo, this is probably the most pained and laboured episode so far. Let's check:

  • Recorded video footage, had to scrap it and record once again; lost about two days of work
  • Recorded voiceover audio, had to scrap it and record once again; lost God knows how much time (at least several days)
  • Had to do all this being cooped up in a cramped room surrounded by wet clothes hanging around
  • Mildew infestation
  • And to top it off, the game is freaking painful.

People often compare you to Jesus, and for a good reason. You suffer so that others won't have to.

 

On a side note, I can't help but find this game very reminiscent of The Chosen. Ah, the romantic appeal of Slavclunk...

Edited by Guest (see edit history)

Come the full moon, the bat flies whose boiling blood shall stem the tide.

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Once again, Ross didn't disappoint me. I've expected him to dig up a licensed game that I didn't had any idea it even existed, and he delivered. And the voice acting... Damn! It makes The Chosen: Well of Souls look competent in comparison.

 

Funny you mentioning that you kind of wanted to see a Aeon Flux game, because I know about a game that was supposed to be like this at one point. It's a Playstation game called Pax Corpus, and it was made by Cryo Interactive Entertainment, the same guys responsible for the Megarace series. Never played the game (only watched a Guru Larry's video where he mentions it), but I know it was going to be a Aeon Flux game at some point but the license was canned, so they had to change a lot of stuff to sell as a original IP.

Edited by Kaiosama TLJ
The post became a mess with embedded link errors because it was made before the forum overhaul. (see edit history)

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Actually there was an official Aeon Flux video game for the PS2. It was mostly based off the animated series with a few elements from the film thrown in -- you can tell the developers were fans of the show and only included the movie elements because it was technically supposed to be a tie-in.

 

I own the game, it's actually shockingly good. Not the most amazing thing ever, but fun and faithful to the show. Right down to the fact that Aeon dies at the end of some of the levels.

Edited by Guest (see edit history)

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That voice acting would've ended the game entirely for me... As would the combat lack of mechanics.

Don't insult me. I have trained professionals to do that.

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I'm surprised you dislike movie based games since there's a lot of examples of very successful ones like Goldeneye 007 and Indiana Jones like you mentioned. Like even beyond the point and click ones there's also Emperor's Tomb which was probably the best 3D Indiana Jones game, and it took the easy route by being a prequel. It also probably had the best hand to hand combat system I had seen in a game prior to Batman Arkham Asylum. Goldeneye 007 escaped the trappings of movie license hell as it was released well after the original film and was originally going to be a light gun style game until it switched to a first person shooter.

 

There's also a great deal of movie based games that take some pre-established franchise and do something completely different with it. A good example being Tron 2.0 where they make a sequel to the original movie set 20-ish years in the future. Tron 2.0 was so different to the established continuity that when they got around to making an actual sequel to the original, in the form of Tron Legacy, they made it non-canonical. Or the Aliens vs Predator games. Aliens in general seems to have a good track record for games since there's a lot of good examples of those.

 

Since Star Wars started off as a movie franchise and only later had an expanded universe you can also consider every Star Wars game a movie licensed title as well. And there's so many good Star Wars games that you can't even count.

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snip

 

Well Ross did say that one of his biggest problems is when tie-in games rehash the plot of the movies, which in your examples only Goldeneye does. And even with that one it's not a big deal because the game really only skims over the plot to deliver a lot of action.

 

Those are all examples of really good games though, I've always found the stigma unfair because most commonly used examples of bad licensed games only include the really bad ones like Superman 64, and stuff based off of kids films where they typically don't have much to work with anyway. They tend to gloss over the good ones. Even Star Trek -- which has a reputation for bad licensed games -- actually has at least half a dozen kickass titles I can list off the top of my head.

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snip
Even Star Trek -- which has a reputation for bad licensed games -- actually has at least half a dozen kickass titles I can list off the top of my head.

One of my favorite first person shooters ever is still Star Trek Voyager Elite Force

 

and that's a great licensed title entirely because they took debatably one of the worst Star Trek shows and made a genuinely great game out of it. Largely by making the main characters original crew members created by Raven who only interact with the existing show characters in a few moments throughout the storyline. And setting the game in an entirely different location.

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One of my favorite first person shooters ever is still Star Trek Voyager Elite Force

and that's a great licensed title entirely because they took debatably one of the worst Star Trek shows and made a genuinely great game out of it. Largely by making the main characters original crew members created by Raven who only interact with the existing show characters in a few moments throughout the storyline. And setting the game in an entirely different location.

 

Not only that, but the fact that Raven Software was behind it was a huge point in its favor from the start. Raven was an established developer with a lot of FPS experience at the time, whereas so often these licensed products are given to shovelware companies that only survive off of making sub-par games to cash in on trends. But Raven was proven as a company dedicated to good games first and foremost.

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I do not own a sword, but I do own a grappling hook. I'm left wondering where I am on the spectrum of Wolfhound being a good film for me.

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Wow. I was just refreshing the AF website man page as usual, and saw this post without the comments link at the end, because Ross didn't have time to make a corresponding forum post yet. I don't think I have ever been this early to a new video upload.

 

Given how much of this episode did you have to redo, this is probably the most pained and laboured episode so far.

This wasn't the worst, those would be ones with time pressure. I hated delaying it, but at least I had that as an option. Long episodes do get harder though. And yeah, the forum post is made automatically, but then I need to manually change the post to link to it. That's something that should be fixed on the new website. You probably did catch it in a 30 second window or so.

 

Funny you mentioning that you kind of wanted to see a Aeon Flux game, because I know about a game that was supposed to be like this at one point. It's a Playstation game called Pax Corpus, and it was made by Cryo Interactive Entertainment, the same guys responsible for the Megarace series. Never played the game (only know about it because of a Guru Larry video), but I know it was going to be a Aeon Flux game at some point but the license was canned, so they had to change a lot of stuff to sell as a original IP.
I wasn't aware of that. It really depends on the writing I think. If a videogame is only focused on the spy / combat element, I wouldn't be too interested. There's this whole weird world in Aeon Flux and the ideas they're meddling with that's the fascinating part.

 

Actually there was an official Aeon Flux video game for the PS2. It was mostly based off the animated series with a few elements from the film thrown in -- you can tell the developers were fans of the show and only included the movie elements because it was technically supposed to be a tie-in.

 

I own the game, it's actually shockingly good. Not the most amazing thing ever, but fun and faithful to the show. Right down to the fact that Aeon dies at the end of some of the levels.

That's the same as the movie based one? I guess if they got the tone right I should check it out.

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That's the same as the movie based one? I guess if they got the tone right I should check it out.

 

Yeah, Aeon and Trevor look similar to their movie counterparts, but the game is otherwise mostly based off the series. They actually wear their original outfits in the game, and the Bregna troops look how they did in the show as well.

 

There are plot points from the movie in there, but it's mixed in with episodic levels reminiscent of the animated show and none of the plots in the game are taken directly from either the show or the movie. It's a very surreal mix but it works.

 

For instance; the weird reincarnation/cloning plot from the movie is present in the game, but it's used to good effect as the plot actually takes place over hundreds of years as the characters scheme and kill each other; each level is its own mostly self-contained storyline on the timeline. There's a killer fashion show level, one where you have to sabotage Trevor's amoral human experimentation labs, one where you have to run across the border to meet with Aeon's sister, etc. It's not quite as well written as the show but the tone and aesthetics are all there, there's even hidden audio logs and videos you can find to flesh out the world.

 

The gameplay is kind of reminiscent of Devil May Cry I guess -- a mix of gunplay and hack and slash where you perform finishing moves to replenish health. There's a fair bit of free-running and platforming and puzzle elements as well. The game is nothing groundbreaking but I have a big soft spot for it because it's clear the designers actually cared and it so often gets dismissed because people think it's purely based on the terrible film.

 

The trailer they released (

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNEfJJu3r3E) gets the message across well; classic Bregna troops, action very reminiscent of the series, bug droids, Aeon dies. If you ignore Charlize Theron's likeness it's almost perfect.

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Wolfhound is the best-selling fantasy book series written by very popular author back in 90s. Movie is a liberal interpretation of first book plot (the ending and main premise of the movie is completely off and contradict the book and the book character). This game seems to be based on the book a lot more, but also a liberal interpretation.

 

But yeah, Akella aren't exactly known for producing good games.

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Glad you could fix your mic problem, great episode as always!

 

One thing that I noticed, is that I don't think the "terrain wobbling" is caused by texture calculations.

 

I'm abou 80% sure, that what we're seeing there is a tesselation glitch. Terrains as huge as this needs to be optimized, because a fully modelled terrain would contain too much vertex data for GPU memory (especially 10 years ago), but splitting them in chunks and using LOD (Level of detail) meshes would become too obvious and ugly.

 

So what they do is they usually store the terrain data in a heighmap texture, and calculate the vertex positions by using that. But because they still couldn't afford too much vertices, the further the terrain is to the camera, the less vertices they render.

 

The reason the "wobbling" is so obvious - while in other games it's seamless - is because my guess is they went with the simple approach of using a perfect grid for the terrain, and they move the vertices up-and-down. While in other games, the wireframe for terrains might look chaotic, but they "flow" with the terrain's surface, so it's not that noticable.

 

And because it's a perfect grid, when the character moves closer to the edge of the "higher resoluion" area, the engine updates the terrain mesh, and some new vertices "pop out" because there were no vertices in the previous frame in those world positions, while other new vertices probably get created close to the surface of the previous frame's calculated terrain.

 

Hope I could explain that clearly.

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The voice acting sounds like they phoned it in while using Microsoft Sam.

"I don't trust a man that doesn't have something strange going on about him, cause that means he's hiding it from you. If a man's wearing his pants on his head or if he says his words backwards from time to time, you know it's all laid out there for you. But if he's friendly to strangers and keeps his home spick-and-span, more often than not he's done something even his own ma couldn't forgive." -No-bark Noonan

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Wow, a game by akella. I would say that's all you need to know to stay away from it :). Actually, it was fun looking at it. The very moment I saw a bat on the guy's shoulder I thought to myself "hm, somebody must've read volkodav lately", and sure enough, somebody did.

 

I never watched the movie, but I did read the book. To my taste the witcher is better. Volkodav was written by 40-something single woman, and it shows. She desperately needs a man, but not just any man, a perfect man with a broken heart, which she can heal with the power of love... I think I need to puke.

 

So anyway, nice game. I wonder how does it sound in Russian. I always prefer the original sound, even if I don't understand it. I don't trust the localizations, more often then not they are just cheap. Maybe it's the case here. Also, fun fact, did you know there was three games based on that movie? This one was the best, and the only one published outside of russia. Also, as another fun fact, you said that games based on movies usually suck because the publishers rush it to meet the release. Not the case. This one was actually ready before the film premier, and was lying on the shelf for half a year.

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Ross Scott said:
Kaiosama TLJ said:
Funny you mentioning that you kind of wanted to see a Aeon Flux game, because I know about a game that was supposed to be like this at one point. It's a Playstation game called Pax Corpus, and it was made by Cryo Interactive Entertainment, the same guys responsible for the Megarace series. Never played the game (only know about it because of a Guru Larry video), but I know it was going to be a Aeon Flux game at some point but the license was canned, so they had to change a lot of stuff to sell as a original IP.
I wasn't aware of that. It really depends on the writing I think. If a videogame is only focused on the spy / combat element, I wouldn't be too interested. There's this whole weird world in Aeon Flux and the ideas they're meddling with that's the fascinating part.

Well... I can't promise you anything, maybe only a headache. As I said, I only knew about of it's existence thanks to Guru Larry's Fact Hunt, and I've never played it. I brought up this fact because I felt it could be an interesting topic to bring up in a follow-up episode. But, even if I didn't told you that, I think you would assume Aeon Flux had a hand on it just by looking at the cover:

 

pax_corpus_d.jpg

 

And yes, this game has a PC version. I thought it was a PS1 exclusive before I found this image to show to you. But again, don't expect this to be a good game. From what I know, this game bombed when it came out. The little footage that I saw from it made me a bit unconfortable because the UI is ugly, the camera is awful, and I got the impression the game has horrible controls. And I think that the fact that this game was advertised as "Tomb Raider in space" didn't help either.

 

As for writing... I'm not sure. Footage of this game on Youtube is extremely rare (just to show how obscure it is), and it doesn't seen that anyone had beaten it (don't blame them), so I don't know the whole story. But I know that is set in a matriarcal cyberpunk city where a scientist invented a mind-controling device called Pax Corpus, with the intention of using it as a remedy to help people that suffer from depression, however the main villain (the woman in dominatrix suit at the cover) wants to weaponise it. Not sure how much "out there" the plot is, but the fact that I've played Megarace 1 and 2, and I know about the existence of Commander Blood, I can say that Cryo Interactive Entertainment are experienced in being weird. Well, it's better you see a footage of the game to judge for yourself:

 

 

Edited by Kaiosama TLJ
The post became a mess with embedded link errors because it was made before the forum overhaul. (see edit history)

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One thing that I noticed, is that I don't think the "terrain wobbling" is caused by texture calculations.

 

(...)

 

And because it's a perfect grid, when the character moves closer to the edge of the "higher resoluion" area, the engine updates the terrain mesh, and some new vertices "pop out" because there were no vertices in the previous frame in those world positions, while other new vertices probably get created close to the surface of the previous frame's calculated terrain.

 

Yep. This is a heightmap game and the jiggles are transitions from one mesh resolution to another. Given the size of the maps I assume that the heightmaps are only roughly pre-designed (eg 1 pixel = 1 metre or more). The "fine detail" is probably a noise algorithm thrown on top. Why are you looking at the ground anyway? You should be looking at the bloom.

 

Regarding Ross' theory of texture mapping ALA playstation 1 era games: unlikely to be the case here. You can tell because there is no jiggling on any of the other textured 3D objects in the game (trees, people, walls, etc).

 

This game is using perfect texture mapping (not the affine/sim approximations used on the PS1), it's well beyond that era of graphics.

 

800px-Perspective_correct_texture_mapping.jpg

 

Some Playstation 1 games tried to combat this effect by dynamically increasing the polygon count (tesselate) as you got closer to the objects. Hence the jiggles.

 

The other fun PS1 graphics artefact was 3D object vertices going wibbly as they were moved around/animated. Each vertex's position was stored using a low-bitdepth number, so vertices had to move in discrete steps during animations. I've seen this in some early PC games too (FPS weapon model anims?) but I can't remember which.

 

Enjoyed the vid Ross :)

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Hope someone can rip the music from the game, 'cause I kinda liked those snippets of the wonkier tunes. The easy-listening reminded me of that sax music in the new Twin Peaks.

Great vid with lots of laughs!

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