Audiosurf!

Many of you may have heard about Audiosurf. I would like to now officially lend my voice to the chorus proclaiming its awesomeness. Audiosurf is a game where you play as a character moving down a highway. This highway is remarkable in that it is dynamically and automatically created by the game depending on what song you feed it. It seems to support all formats that matter, including OGG and FLAC, which is a pleasant surprise. The object of the game is to collect colored blocks, forming groups of three or more so that they disappear. There are different characters, each a different game mode. High scores are integrated. There are worldwide and statewide score charts. Your score is automatically added to any charts you managed to get on to, provided you are logged in. You can also add your friends’ usernames and compare your scores to theirs.

Pics:

Title screen. Yes, Steam overlay supported.

Select a character and difficulty level.

Then select a song.

I'm choosing Still Alive, sung by Jonathan Coulton.

And there's the highway!

Whee!

In calm moments the road slants upwards, in tense parts the road shoots downward, making a very intense experience. The game isn’t so much like Frets on Fire, Guitar Hero, or DDR in that it’s not really about hitting everything. It’s more about having a more interesting experience with your music. The song analysis works amazingly well. A song with a strong beat is recommended. The only thing I’ve seen that didn’t really work was a very soft one from my sister’s MSUCC practice CD.

Everything else has worked marvelously. Rock, techno, Orange Box tracks, even Bach! I strongly recommend this game. There’s a demo on Steam if you’re interested.

EDIT: Yes, there is a typo in the Portal Orange Box songs. It reads “10 – Your Not A Good Person,” and it should be “You’re Not A Good Person.”

Shall I Eat This Villager?

As you might have guessed from the above, I’ve been playing Black & White 2, a game in which you play a god. I like the concept. At its best, it gives a feeling of absolute control as people worship you and you perform acts of godly power. At its worst, the game is maddeningly hard to control. It seems the game can get in the way of what you want to do, something that should not happen. Take, for example, building a gate in a wall. I selected a gate in the build menu, and tried to line it up with the wall. I tried for several minutes to get a valid position without success, during which time an enemy army charged through the gap I was trying to close.

The manual is too short to tell everything, and it seems to me that in the lack of a complete online manual, the only way to learn is either by painstaking trial and error or by suffering through the horribly annoying and poorly constructed tutorials. The ability to skip the tutorials was added in the latest patch, (Edit: announcement down, patch still seems available.) before which the earlier patch must be installed. Why they didn’t bother to package them both together I do not know. The patches did seem to fix many a glitch, among them a problem where if there were too many roads crossing in a small area people would get stuck there. If I picked them up and moved them somewhere else they seemed to just turn around and run right back over there. Strange.

The creature is fun. As a god, you get to choose an animal to represent you. The choices are monkey, lion, wolf, and cow. (In a baffling turn the cow is referred to as male and yet sports udders.) All of these animals start out rather small and cute-looking. You must train your creature what to do and what not to do, which for me meant not pooping in the village or eating the villagers. I’ve tried to make my creature run over to the side of the village and poop in the trees, which seems to be working somewhat. I’ve never had the courage to just see what happens, as the results can surely be devastating. The creature does not have to be in free will mode, as you can assign it various roles, although not for too long otherwise the creature will lose free will. I found myself becoming attached. My creature is also quite able to make mincemeat out of an enemy army. 🙂

The game is beautiful, despite being a bit old. The sun changes the lighting on the landscape as it goes throughout the day, the water ripples, and fire looks very nice. The forests and wheat grow! It is strange that the graphics are pretty while the UI leaves a lot to be desired. I would happily accept it being less pretty if it were more playable.

Another area of significant weakness in this game is its voice acting. The writing is cheesy, especially that of the prayers you receive. Coupled with the overacting and awkward emphasis, I found the prayers (given only in cinematics) to be laughable. You have two advisors, a good one and an evil one, who won’t leave you alone and sometimes seem to be designed to be as annoying as possible. I will use as an example the first tutorial island. You are given a pile of rocks and told to throw them at a small target across a gap. Every time you miss (as you surely will, the target is really small) the evil guy pops up and says something about your miss. Every time. If you sit there, the good one pops up and reminds you you’re supposed to be chucking rocks. This kind of thing happens elsewhere, like on the third tutorial island. You are told to create a forester by picking up a villager and dropping them next to a tree. If you drop them anywhere else, the good one criticizes you and reminds you to make a forester. Is it that important that I do it now? The point of a game is for the player to have fun, not to be bossed around! This is another contrast I found jarring. The advisors refer to you as one might to a god, and yet they boss you around. It just doesn’t fit. I found myself wishing the game would shut up and just let me play.

Orange Box Review

Zero Punctuation has an Orange Box review up!

Valve’s Team Fortress 2 Linux binaries. I can’t run  a server natively because for some reason Valve has required an obscure FCMOV processor compatibility on Windows but not on Linux! Argh! I could run it under Wine if I really need to but that’s annoying…

MINERVA: Metastasis 3 Released!

Download here, and if you use BitTorrent, please be sure to seed! That brings me to my next topic: how Comcast is messing with BitTorrent traffic! Since I tend to be at Mom’s and subsequently using my much-more-dependable DSL service, I had only been reading about it up until now. Comcast is actively spoofing reset packets to BitTorrent seeds and the peers they attempt to connect with. This means seeding is impossible. Seconds in to establishing a connection, it will be ruthlessly slaughtered by Comcast’s packets sniffers. I find it amazing that Comcast thinks it can sell you a 3MBPs connection, (which they falsely claim is consistently faster than DSL, which it’s not, you can get higher peaks but you can’t depend on them) then tell you with a straight face that you can’t use all of it.

In worse news, it would seem that overheating was not all, or perhaps part, of my server’s problem. It just stopped responding again, and needed a hard reboot. I don’t know what the problem is, but I’m hoping I can find it and fix it. That’s really too bad that I spend $50 on a case that I thought I needed for stability but I guess I didn’t. :\

EDIT: Latest torrent with an exe installer instead of a zip went up on the 2nd of October. I’m seeding the exe now. I had 500 some MB on the zip.

Team Fortress 2!

I’ve been playing Team Fortress 2 for a while, and I really like it. I may not always be the top of the board, but I tend to be 2nd or 3rd on a good set of rounds. The classes are very, very well balanced, with every strategy having a counter-strategy. Even if the enemy has 5 fully-upgraded turrets, it is possible to, as a spy, disguise as a member of the opposite team, and take them out without ever being noticed. A disguised spy cannot use any weapons of the class they are disguised as. Using any weapons will undo the disguise, and enemy turrets will once again target the spy.

With the exception of the Pyro’s flamethrower, and maybe some others I’m missing, hitting a spy with your weapon will not undo their disguise. The only way to expose a disguised spy is to do enough damage to kill the spy. If FF is on, this becomes much tricker and riskier. (Friendly fire has since been removed from the game entirely by Valve.)

I like being medic, and helping people who run over to cover while wounded. Invulnerability (called Ãœbercharge) has the potenial to completely change the tide of battle in around 10 seconds.

Screenshots:

A heavy, post-kill.

Nice n' dramatic!

I didn't last too long here.

Yes, I believe that is indeed my sapper. Wish it luck!

It looks even better full-size and in-motion. The character shadows are real-time, the colors are vibrant, and the players are carefully shaded to pop out from the background. Your eyes are not fooling you, and players really do have dynamic expressions! This game is amazing!

The inevitable politics.

EDIT: I found a wonderfully done series of TF2 class reviews, with Heavy, Medic, Demoman, and Pyro so far.

EDIT 2:  They’re finished with all the classes now! Here’s Sniper, Engineer, Soldier, Scout, and that annoying Spy.