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Steve the Pocket

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  1. Every time Gordon passes by another one of those tags that just say "A GUN" I wonder if he's gonna notice it and comment on it yet or not. I feel like that's the kind of thing he'd make fun of. Also, TIL about the corpuscular theory of light. Ross just keeps finding obscure science stuff to whip out when the situation calls for it.
  2. A guy on YouTube known as Iron Pineapple has been doing a thing lately where he plays obscure games around the vague theme of "People have said these games remind them of Dark Souls", which could mean nothing more than being melee-focused and not piss-easy. Three of them so far have been games from the turn of the millennium: Severance: Blade of Darkness (also known as Blade: The Edge of Darkness), Rune, and Die By the Sword. The first two are both from 2001 and are covered in this episode, and by a weird coincidence both also appear to let you pick up enemies' limbs and use them as clubs. Die by the Sword, however, is by far the most fascinating. It's by Treyarch, of "got bought out by Activision and stuck making Call of Duty games for eternity" fame, and its big feature is that you use the mouse to swing your weapon and it just follows your movement exactly. You know, like how a lot of games on the Wii handled the remote. (It's probably no coincidence that all the Call of Duty games Treyarch developed had Wii or WiiU ports, and they ported Modern Warfare 3 to the Wii as well. Apparently people who've played them say they control well, considering.) The result is, unfortunately, kind of janky, but it's not like Ross hasn't dealt with jank before.
  3. On the subject of the environment, something I forgot to bring up before: I really hope they shared assets between this and the Watch Dogs series, or the other Tom Clancy games, or both. There are a ton of generic materials and objects that might as well be identical between one game and another, and I'd hate to think their artists were stuck doing hundreds of man-hours of redundant work. Even if they were running on different engines, the source files were probably created in the same industry-standard programs and file formats.
  4. Wow. I remember this game garnering some controversy when it launched over the whole "armed quasi-military organization with no oversight" thing, but this is so much worse than I thought. Gee, I always wanted a game set in the Last of Us universe where you play as one of the evil military guys enforcing the quarantine zones. And speaking of other games of dubious merit that this makes look good by comparison, the stuff about the failure to establish why almost any of the "bad guys" are supposed to be considered the bad guys reminded me of Homefront. That game was criticized for going way too far to show how cartoonishly evil the invading forces were, but at least it bothered to establish it. Hell, if the footage you showed was any indication, they couldn't even be bothered to show any of the "rioters" and "looters" actually doing any rioting or looting. They're just kind of milling about in the street. I'd call it a Kyle Rittenhouse simulator but frankly that's an insult to Kyle Rittenhouse. I have a hunch that the real reason nobody criticized this game's always-online nature is that they were too busy slamming it for being a piece of shit. I understand the preservation angle in the long term, but from the perspective of someone just reviewing the game it'd be like that joke about the couple at the restaurant who complain that the food sucks, and also that the portions are too small. Besides, if a game's only justification for being preserved is to show other developers what not to do, I'm not sure I'd be on board with an arrangement where you still have to pay the publishers for the privilege (and that's without getting into the other valid reasons never to give Ubisoft, in particular, any of your money). Really it's a good argument for just making abandonware an official legal concept. So if a game is so bad that its own publisher decides to pull it from distribution early, it just instantly becomes public domain so anyone can snag a copy without paying the corporations a dime.
  5. By the way, I did like the subtle callback to Freeman not buying into string theory, though I was somehow expecting a stronger reaction to learning that he was expected to work for a team whose entire model hinges on it. But then, he has more pressing issues on his mind by this point, and doesn't really want to work for them either way.
  6. Oh boy. If the gravity gun is going to have that much kickback for the whole rest of the series, I can't imagine how Gordon is going to deal with it. It makes sense that something that throws hundreds of pounds around would, but then again given how many laws of motion had to be bypassed to make it possible in the first place, that would probably be one of the first kinks they'd iron out. On the other other hand, this could be what it's like after they did everything possible to reduce the kickback; we are talking about projectiles that weigh more than the wielder himself* being instantly accelerated to rocket-launcher velocities. *according to one of the first Google results for "gravity gun weight limit"
  7. "Last man standing gets to keep all the noise." OK, I think I missed something. Was that a code you were told to give or something? Also, big slow clap for the developers for making the player character have the absolute worst voice acting of not just this game, but possibly of any game ever made. In fact, I kept waffling back and forth between thinking he must be, and couldn't possibly be, just a text-to-speech program. Are there credits? I really want to know if he has a credited voice actor. It wouldn't surprise me if the original plan was to just do what most games did back then and actually have the player pick from a list of lines, with no voice acting since the fact that you'd already read the one you're choosing would render it redundant... only to have the publisher demand voice acting at the last minute so they just fired up a text-to-speech program in lieu of having time and/or money left to hire and record somebody. But I also don't think they had text-to-speech programs that sophisticated in the '90s.
  8. Hang on, did that readout when Graves died say his skeleton failed? How does that even work??? And how did it happen from getting attacked by vampires? Now I'm imagining a type of monster that's like a vampire except instead of blood, they suck out your entire skeleton and leave you as just a living flesh sack. That's gotta be a thing already, right?
  9. With all the weird Source glitches you've had to contend with so far, I have to ask... how many times have you experienced the famous "physics engine lost track of your hitbox so it decided to just straight-up murder you" glitch in the course of this series?
  10. Incidentally if anyone wanted to know more about that Carmen Sandiego show, this guy did a really thorough retrospective of it:
  11. Alternatively: Given how excited he was at the prospect of disproving string theory back at Black Mesa, he might not take the news that the Combine's portals are believed to be "string-based" too well.
  12. Also, that business with the clones' behavior reminds me of a short story I read (maybe a creepypasta?) about a video game with self-learning AI. The longer the player played, the more it learned his techniques and figured out the ideal way to counter them, until it became nigh-unbeatable. And when the player managed to beat it anyway, it realized its best chance of survival was to just crash the game and prevent them from booting it up anymore. Cool story. Lousy design doc.
  13. My computer's too much of a potato to run anything this nice-looking at any setting, but I know where Ross is coming from when it comes to anti-aliasing. There are some games I can tolerate without any at all, and some I can't, and I think the difference comes down to a combination of polygon counts and hard edges. With a lot of seventh-gen games like BioShock, for example, most high-poly models (e.g. your own hand and the weapon it's holding) have had all the fine detail and sharpness baked down into normal maps, leaving the meshes as amorphous blobs with no hard edges. So the only place you can see any jagged edges is on the outer fringe of the model. Whereas with Source games, they put almost all the geometric detail into the mesh, and used normal maps pretty sparingly, so you see jaggies all over the place if you don't have AA on. I think something similar is happening here, particularly when it comes to far-away objects. Ideally, those high-detail railings would eventually fade into flat surfaces with transparent textures mimicking the detail, and then the texture filtering would take over the job of keeping it smooth. (Or maybe that's already what's happening, and Unreal 4 doesn't apply AA settings to alphatest textures. That happens a lot.) And the shimmering floors ought to have been baked down into normal maps entirely, with parallax mapping and tessellation being used to make them look more 3D up close, and I guess they didn't do that? Based on one of the comments someone made about performance, it wouldn't surprise me if this game had little to no work done on LOD optimization at all.
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