Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Review: Scribblenauts


I know I should've done this review long ago, like when I obtained the game. Scribblenauts is the most original, genius and ambitious game I have ever seen in my life. The concept of the game is so simple, yet so...genius.

The whole game revolves around you punching out words spelling an object and creating them. Type in "spade" and you'll get a spade. Type in "tree" and you'll get a tree. Type in "god" and you get what-seems-to-look-like Jesus. Type in "vampire" and a vampire appears to try to kill stuff around him which will eventually spawn into mindless zombies.

There are two different kinds of levels to this game: Action and Puzzle. Action is basically trying to get from point A to point B, so I shan't dwell upon it too much. The main course of the game is the puzzle levels, which forces you to act creatively.

See, the 'rule' to this game is that your character is not superman. He can't fly, teleport or even fight much. He is only given the ability to create anything (conventional) he wants.


Every level, you will be given an objective like "Catch the butterfly" (one of my favorite earlier levels). As an added challenge, you will be given a bonus if you do it within a certain amount of 'creations'.

See, this is where you will get stumped. The butterfly is hovering well beyond your reach and you cannot jump high enough to reach it. One way to solve it is to create a 'flower' to lure the butterfly down and create a 'net' for your character to catch it. Of course, there are probably many different ways you can try solve it, just need to think creatively and out of the box (something which I'm not really good at lol).

Another cool thing about this game is the item's ability to create cause and effect. Create thermal googles and wear it, the whole place becomes heat vision view. As shown by the video below, you can kill a medusa you created, grab her head and turn living beings to stone.

You can imagine the amount of work that went through for this game. Not just work; GRUNT work. I bet the scripters are chained to their seat to script out every single possible thing they can think of and from various different dicionaries. It's quite insane when you think about it.

Here are the words available in Scribblenauts for those who wants to have a preview.

Hmm, and I still find it amusing that typing in 'gamer' and 'virgin' produces the same thing >.<


Monday, December 28, 2009

Anime: "The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya" & "Nyoron Churuya-san"


It's been some time since I did some anime review. This isn't really an anime either, just ONA (shorts) that Kyoto Animation did on two famous doujin works based on the Haruhi anime/manga/light-novel. If you have been searching online for random Haruhi doujins, you might have come across them several times. Kyoto Animation just brought them to life, preserving the art style for both doujins and throwing them to YouTube.

"Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya-chan" casts Haruhi characters in mostly chibi form. There are some changes in the character's personality based on how most otakus view them from time to time. Yuki, for example, is somehow an otaku in the SOS-dan instead of her usual cool-headedness. There are also many random yaoi-like moments between Kyon and Koizumi. Otherwise, the characters kept their basic personality.


In short, it's mostly just for laughs, with each episode lasting only 2-5 mins long. "Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya-chan" lasts for 25 episodes of randomness and comedy.

You have probably seen the doujin "Nyoron Churuya-san" is based on everywhere. Just typing "Nyoron" on Google Images brings up lots of its doujin strips. Basically, it's how everyone mistreats a chibi-Churuya, making her all emo and going 'nyoron~' at the end of every clip. It's rather funny to see that they preserved the art-style for this (everyone having the '-_-' face).

All they need to do now is to animate 'Kyonko' doujins and everything will be complete ^^

Episode 1 for both ONAs:
"Nyoron Churuya-san" 1


"Melancholy of Suzumiya-chan" 1

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Touhou Christmas!



Well, Christmas just ended and I finally reached home around 10 mins ago. There's a really nice music piece I chanced upon while surfing facebook (thanks Lester!). It's a remix from a Touhou piece called 'U.N Owen was her?", probably more commonly known as Flandre's theme song, and probably even more commonly known as the music behind McRoll videos.

Heck for those who still dunno, here's the original.

Haha, it kinda made my day. I just love how people can turn some music pieces Christmas-y. First one I heard was a remix from OCRemix long long time ago here. Preview at Youtube below:



Well, I hope everyone had a great and enjoyable Christmas! A new year is just ahead!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009!


Well, looking back at this post it's amazing how time flew by so quickly. I remember that Christmas I just POP'ed and dropped out as a commando and was about to enter my life as a signaller. Back then, I was still wishing to become what I am now, and am upset by the fact that I have a year and a half remaining as an NSF.

Now, here I am, wish my ORD date just around the corner (6 more months). It seems so close yet so far. Ah, I'll just leave the reminiscing post for the New Year.

Here's wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. Sorry for not texting anyone because if I did I would use up my SMS limit in one go :p

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Haruhi boosters are out!


-updated from the old post now deleted, supposed to be dated yesterday 22/12/2009-

It was supposed to be a normal leave day, spending my time practicing piano at home, going out for driving lesson before heading to Bugis for some Blazblue, spending only 10 bucks before returning home for late dinner.

It's supposed to be normal at least, until I saw like 4 new messages on my handphone all spamming me the same "HARUHI BOOSTER IS OUT" from 3 different people >.<


I honestly didn't think I would spend 25 times of what I expected to (that's a whole $250 aka more than half my NSF pay). When I finally woke up at like 1pm, I kept telling myself "getting 1 box is enough...getting 1 box is enough..." only to pick up a phone call from Chin Yong asking me how many boxes I want to buy which I unwittingly answered "two". When he confirmed with me if I really wanted two, I just gave him a very confident "of course!".

Well it's a good thing I did. Chin Yong opened a few boosters for me at Ishimura (best curry rice offer btw) and landed me this RRR. Omg it feels so good to touch it >.< It costs 3500 yen btw and it's supposedly the most expensive card I have now.

I haven't opened up the rest of the boxes yet, so who knows what I'll get after this post. ^^


Also, my shipment of selected Phantom cards (+2 flonnes cards!) finally arrived to me in the hands of Karlson. Finally I have 4 flonnes ready to be placed in any red deck I have. It's been so long since I ordered those cards that I forgot I actually ordered some cheap yellows to help my deck >.<

Oh well, at least my leave is coming to an end so I can save some money staying in camp. Sunday Neo-Standard Haruhi tourney at Rapid Culture @ Funan! XD

Update: 2nd box got a yuki SR! XD

*sigh* need to spend more on card protectors and albums now >.<

Sunday, December 20, 2009

COD:MW2 knife kill



John mentioned this and I stumbled upon it on Hongfire. It's a COD:MW2 team match, where the winning kill is some crazy blind knife throw over a fence

It's confirmed to be a fluke, but incredibly awesome nonetheless.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009

Game Design: Immersiveness


Immersiveness is a rather difficult concept to implement into a game. Of course, not every game should implement it. Not every game can. It is just a game design direction and preference. A straightforward game with levels as a core design feature, for example, contradicts the whole concept all together.

Gamers, or people in general, look for patterns in a game. Once they figured the structure for your game, the sense of immersiveness is lost. They will start to see your game nothing more than what it really is: A game. If you are reading this, you would probably want your game to be a little more than that.

Feedback
People, being human beings they are, love their accomplishments and works to be recognized. A player does something, he expects something to happen. The more feedback he gets from the world itself, the more he actually 'felt' that he did something.

A good (and rather extreme) example is the Megaton nuke quest in Fallout 3. If you actually did the nuke and blew up Megaton, some NPCs all over the world will start to have reactions towards you when you talk to them (some are good while others are bad).

So the first step is reactions and feedback from the world itself. Feed the player's self-esteem and ego. They all love it. And don't just give them text or UI feedback. NPC, or even better, world feedback is the best. Maybe whatever the player did changes the climate of the area. The sky becomes red and it starts raining blood or whatever floats your boat. Of course, that was another extreme example, but you get what I mean. A simple NPC running up to the player going "omg you killed the vampire, you are my hero!" or "I heard you helped NPC01's garden, eh?" is good enough for smaller deeds.

It's even better if he was given the choice to do it or not, allowing different reactions and feedback depending on the choice chosen, and that brings us to the next point.

Of course, don't overdo it. There's a threshold before players start getting annoyed with all the feedback.

Choice
Another great way of implementing immersiveness is the freedom of choice. Of course, true freedom of choice is impossible. However, if you can implement a choice that hits what the player would really want to do, it gives them the 'illusion' that there is freedom of choice. The more variety of choices available, the higher the chances of them hitting what the player want. Usually you want to have the 'right' choice, the 'evil' choice and a couple of grey choices.

For example, an NPC that refuses to do your bidding. Choices usually goes like:
1) Kill them
2) Pay them
3) Persuade them
4) Preach to them

Of course, depending on the character or the content, you can have more choices that leads to better or more amusing results (like how Malkevians in Vampires the Masquerade can turn people insane).

Again, don't overdo it. It will potentially kill your scripters and programmers. Just have enough to cover most of the areas. Given what I said about feedback earlier, a single choice may result a lot more scripting elsewhere.

Party Memebers
Party memebers should never EVER be silent. They should never EVER only talk at events. In fact, they should be interactive enough to randomly comment on events around you. I think most of Bioware games did this, including the recent Dragon Age: Origins. It not only builds the personality of your party members, but it also gives the player the feeling that his characters are not just tools for battle, thus leading to immersiveness.

It gets even better if you allow your character's actions and dialogs with the party members to change their views on certain things. This can be initiated by either the main character himself, or the party members (like walking around and they randomly open a dialog with you).

Tension between party members creates a bit of drama, and everyone loves drama. Conversations should not only happen towards the main character, it should also happen between party members. Like in Baldur's Gate 2, recruiting Keldorn the Paladin creates a huge tension with Edwin the Mage (results can be extreme though; Keldorn ends up attacking Edwin).

This point should automatically create 2 important points for your party members (unless you really are creatively handicapped, no offense):
1) Interesting character personality
2) Character development

A Living World
This combines music, sound and graphics. This point should go without saying, creating an ambiance that fulfills the area. A bustling city should sound, feel and look like a bustling city.

Not only that, the area must have interesting things to look at, interesting things to interact with, giving the players the urge to explore your contents. A city with just guards walking around and beautiful ambiance, terrain and design wouldn't interest the players at all. Players will just end up getting to where they want to go and do what they want to do.

Create distractions. Distract the players from their goal. Create interesting places of interest and point your characters there with quests. Quests should never happen at a fixed type of location; it should happen ANYWHERE. Use that to your advantage. Give them the feel that they have lots of things to do, preferably in a disorganized way (like quest givers popping up from nowhere...don't overdo it though).

Just remember that you are trying to create a real-life-like situation here. Quests don't always happen selectively by the player's wishes. Quests can come in many many different ways; it all depends on your creativity. It can come in a form of a dream, a paid messenger, or even something your player saw. It can be anything.

Remember that the further you manage to distract the player from the norm, the more the player will fail to see a pattern in your game and thus resulting in the player thinking that your game is 'alive' and hence immerse them into the game.

That's it for Immersiveness. It's not even a word in the dictionary, but it is important to some games. Just my thoughts on it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

PV Bad Apple (Touhou)


This might be (very very) old news for some, but here's a (very very) nice animation based on Touhou Fantasy.


And of course, marasy8's piano version :)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Review: "Dungeon Keeper 2"



This is one of the games I do not mind going back to several times just to play it. DK2 if the predecessor of, well, DK1, made by Bullfrog, one of the companies that eventually got taken over by EA.

DK2, on the surface, might be thought of as an RTS where you create a home for your evil minions to live in and try to take over the surface world. Looking at it closely, it's really a mix of RTS and city-building sim, with more focus to the city-building sim side. It carries an evil theme too; probably one of the best selling points of the game.

The core of all dungeons: The Dungeon Heart


In every game you start with, you start off with your Dungeon Heart, which you have to prevent the 'good guys' from destroying, and a few imps, worker units that shape your dungeon.

To start off, you can order your imps to destroy walls to 'make room' for your dungeon. Once they cleared an area, they will start claiming the area (so that you can build your stuff on it) and reinforcing the walls (so that 'good guys' have a harder time getting in.

There are various rooms you can build, most of them which can only be minimally effective as a 3x3 room. Rooms provide facilities for your creatures as well as attract new types of creatures. The basic rooms a dungeon need is a Lair (for them to sleep and stay), a Hatchery (for them to eat), and a Teasury (to increase the maximum amount to gold you can hold and for your creatures to collect their pay).

Watch as your poor enemies starve to bones...literally.


other rooms include:
- Training room (for units to train to level 4 by themselves)
- Library (attracts warlocks and research spells)
- Prison (accomodation for your prisoners, who will eventually become skeleton if not taken care of)
- Workshop (attracts trolls and research traps and doors)
- Temple (to sacrafice units)

and many others...

In DK2, you play as the Dungeon Keeper, the 'god' of your dungeon. With your evil green animated hand cursor, you can pick up creatures and drop them, you can slap them to make them work faster and give present them gold to make their morale better.

Speaking of morale, your creature's happiness affect your overall dungeon. Creatures are not 'built', they just come when they decide to come, so essentially you do not have control on your population. They also leave when they decide to leave, usually when they are unhappy, probably because you do not have a lair for them, feed them enough, or maybe you tortured them too much.

Ememies in your library!


You also have your whole range of spells, researched by your hardworking warlocks in the library, which you can use anywhere in the map as long as you have that area claimed by your imps. The first spell you get allows you to possess any of your creature, allowing you to 'play' as the creature in first person.

Thanks to the workshop, you are able to protect your dungeon with doors and traps, in case there aren't any creatures wandering that area. Traps vary from Sentry Traps (which alert creatures of your dungeon) to the very standard Spike Traps (which simply damages the victim). Doors are most different in their toughness, but there are special doors that damages opponents too.

Your creatures don't just increase in power as they level (okay some do, but not all). Some gain more abilities (up to 4) as they level. Even your worker imps gain new abilities as they level (teleport at level 10). It's fun espacially because you can possess them and test them out. It's really a nice gimmick they added onto the game.

One last thing to top off in the game is the atmosphere. The voice of the mentor, Richard Ridings, fits the evil-comic-setting of the game. Listening to him annoucing "It's payday" in a irritated voice made me grin every now and then.



DK2 might not really be an RTS. In fact, I think it's more like a city-building sim than an actually RTS, since you do not really have much control on your minions. The only part that is 'RTS' about it is being able to play multiplayer or skirmish to try to 'kill' another opponent's Dungeon Heart, as well as going for map control and resources. As a sim, it is a really fun game to play and allows you to take a break from being a good guy that most games do.

And I think it's still pretty amusing to slap your minions to death when you feel bored. And put them into graveyards to raise them as future vampires. NeetGeek gives "Dungeon Keeper 2": 8.5/10

Friday, December 11, 2009

Weiss Schwarz: Haruhi TD out in SG!


It was supposed to be a normal leave day: wait up late, play some PC games, go buy card protectors, go Bugis play Blazblue til midnight. It was supposed to be that way, until Joel called me up at 1230, telling me that the Haruhi TD arrives at 1400 at Rapid Culture @ Funan.

I immediately got up, changed, and got down to Funan as fast as I could (well not without the delays of my mum who already cooked my lunch), and managed to reach there at 1345. Needless to say, there is a delay; the cards didn't come in at 1400.

So Joel and I played a couple of games, me trying out a new phantom deck now that I bought a 2nd box. It still has the same problem I expected: not enough stock, but it cleared some of my doubt of what I want to improve the deck. I managed to beat his deck, but died to Nanoha trial deck due to horrible luck. I'm kinda surprised to see that the 0/0 2000 power Nanoha card (the suicide card) is actually a TD card though. Maybe I should check it out?

Also, lucky for me, this Saturday's Haruhi TD competition is down to the last and final slot! Woo! I gladly paid $5 and registered. Can't wait to see what the PR card is XD

Anyways, we got some snacks and ran through Joel's iTouch video collections until 1700, when the cards FINALLY arrived. We managed to grab a whole box set of 6, just to ensure that we obtain the solitary foil card. Joel opened his first TD box and the foil card was there (congrat btw :p). It was the "Itsumo no Haruhi to Mikuru" card. Somehow I was expecting that though lol. Too bad it wasn't the Yuki one, else I would really fight for it :p

We headed to Ishimura at Peace Center after some time and ate some curry rice (the curry rice there is great btw, I need to take a pic of it). Overall, I find the Haruhi TD very solid, espacially if you have 2 sets of TD, considering the really powerful cards only come in sets of 2 per TD set. Although some cards are quite bad ("Effect: If this card is in play, you cannot draw cards when you draw"), there are those with almost mind-blowing abilities (2/0 counter card, removes opponent's climax from climax area). Haruhi TD might actually be comparable to Phantom TD, but that's just my speculation.

I was honestly very happy holding the cards. I actually don't mind splurging my money on this Haruhi deck. Next objective: 2 Haruhi boxes due next year. I heard green is Tsuruya and yellow is Mikuru or Kyon. However, I can't be certain on that, but who cares, I'm getting them anyway ^_^

All hail Haruhism!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Asuka on JLPT1


I just got home and saw news that I missed for a couple of days that JLPT1 has an Evangelion reference on their listening test, with an excerpt from the anime (I think, I don't watch Evangelion much to know). It's apparently the part where Asuka begs to launch her unit.

It's kinda awesome that otaku stuffs are being brought into an internationally recognized test :p

Anyway, here's the transcript:

{
ラジオでドラマを聞いています。

番組の中では誰がどうすることになりましたか。

「隊長、第二次防衛線が突破されました。巨大怪獣は真っ直ぐ中央管理システムに向かってます。

このままではあと30分も持ちません。」

「今出せるモビルファイターは?」

「零号機だけです。」

「やむをえん、四号機を出すぞ。」

「四号機はまだテストが完了していません。それに操縦できるパイロットが現在誰も。」

「零号機では奴の侵入は防ぎきれん。ここは私が行く。」

「隊長自ら?!でもその怪我では四号機の加速に耐えられません。」

「私が行きます」

「アスカ!」

「私なら四号機を操れます。お願いです。行かせてください。」

「だがお前はまだ訓練中の身だ。今は子供の出る幕じゃないぞ!」

「そんなこと言ってる場合じゃない!」

「おい!アスカ!待て!」

四号機発射準備完了しました

「アスカ、頼んだぞ」

番組の中では誰がどうすることになりましたか

①隊長が零号機で行きます

②隊長が四号機で行きます

③女の人が零号機で行きます

④女の人が四号機で行きます
}

As always, JLPT1 was known to be difficult even for true-bred Japanese people. This time, 2ch gave their comments:
{

"What?

This must be a lie…

With something like this even amongst Japanese only an anime otaku could grasp the situation.

Awfully high level Japanese indeed.

Just where would you use Japanese like this!?

Probably a lot of Japanese would make mistakes here.

What’s up with this test? Shall I take it? Is it useful?"


}

EDIT: found a youtube audio clip here :)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

All in a day's life


Here I am, blogging my friday night away in camp. I swear the ops room I'm in is haunted, not that it really bothers me that much; I'm too tired to care.

The duty forecast came out and it looks like I'm going to have my 1/1/10 eaten up. All's well though, I still get a day off for that, and if I'm lucky, I can deny the New Year Eve off and net me 2 off days instead.

I've been quite busy the last couple of weekends, with AFA, the arrival of BBCS, the financial planning for the upcoming Haruhi WS deck, and trying out japaense mahjong (it's really fun) and carrying my new $1300 desktop home from expo. I still can't believe how cheap coms are these days; my 3 year old $2000 LGR1 laptop that can't even run Oblivion when I got it, and can barely run anything without overheating now (with 2 external fans below btw).

*sigh* A new com after like 3-4 years. This means, 3-4 years of PC games to catch up with (dates back to games like Titanquest). It also solves my Starcraft 2 problems and all the MMO demos I need to try. I have so many games I want to play for a long time: NWN2, The Witcher, Bioshock which ZH passed to me AGES ago which I never got to play. Only problem now is time, which can only be solved 6 months from now T_T

Well 6 months is a short time, it's actually quite amazing to recount back what I've done in my NS phase so far. I've been through combat while being fit, combat while not being fit, coy level life, HQ level life, stay in, stay out, working from home, spending 90% of my time in bunk life, spending 90% of my time in office life, turned ops life, UIP life, a bit of driver's life, etc. I'm glad to have met many fun people to work with and share our experiences as I jump from camp to camp.

Anyway, continuing on before I go off-topic (which is having a topic). Either I'm physically exhausted because of all these events, or simply because I'm ill. The non-stop intake of coke over the past weekends does not help. The flu and sore throat combo is coming back. I even got the permission to rest a whole morning away.

Speaking of backs, my back has been doing okay so far, since I haven't really been doing anything strenous. Lugging my com from expo to tampines was a pain though. Whether my conditions improve or not, I couldn't really tell, but I always have a cute physiotherapist I can consult though I do not know how long it will last :)

Onto this blog, I have given up on trying to organize all my posts into a nice page consisting of titles only. Most of the blogger widgets and solutions are mostly workarounds that will create problems under unforeseen circumstances. I guess if I wanted to really step it up in terms of layout and site organization, I'll have to get myself a server and learn some php (which I really don't mind tbh).

6 more months to ORD and I haven't really decided on what to do yet. I really want to get into a local U first and hopefully get a rather generalized degree, but that seems pretty hard due to my current GPA. I can always pursue music again, but that will really take lots of effort to pick up where I left off. I'll see how it goes then.

Current com specs:
GF GTX260 896MB DDR3
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9400
Intel P45E Combo Mobo
Strontium RAM 2GB DDR2-800 x2
500GB HDD
Blu-Ray reader
SpirePower Jewel 550W PSV
(full) Win 7 Home Premium

Looks like it can last a good 5 years or more if I'm lucky XD

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Haruhi Movie? Really?


Remember how Kyoani joked during an interview? Saying: "If we were to create a Haruhi movie, I don't mind doing Endless Eight again?" incited the wrath and despair of many many fans, though it doesn't really affect me since I just like Haruhi. I just hoped it would be based on Disppearance of Haruhi, the only thing I would be REALLY REALLY hyped up about.

And then a miracle happened. I was pleasently surprised. Okay I lied. Omg I almost exploded in joy. This is what I've, we've, been waiting for for so long!

The movie, said to be 150mins long, will be based on Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, which many many fans including myself hoped and thought it would be the main book the second season will be based on, considering how much Yuki is involved in it XD

/otakumode on
Can you believe how much yuki is going to be inside?! It's going to be 150mins of yuki! Not just any Yuki! A shy Yuki! And a smiling Yuki! It's going to be overflowing with so much awesome and moe! And she's going to be wearing specs again! Arg it's going to be a whole show based on Yuki yuki and more yuki I just cannot wait for this movie sqeEelll!!~!!~!~! Yukiyukiyukiyuki!13311!!
/otakumode off

Sorry I had to do that. My inner otaku is practically screaming in glee. I just hope that it would turn out good. What am I talking about. It's definately good! It's Haruhi! How can they screw it up? Endless Eight is good (from a certain angle) dammit, so stop whining everyone! Give the animation studio another chance! Remember why you loved Haruhi!

Movie releases in two months. I just can't wait zomg! XD
Let the Yukisim spread once again! :)