Friday, December 30, 2011

Don't Do Drugs

Well it's been a little over a week now since Hypnophobia was released on the unsuspecting public. On GameBanana it's been downloaded 129 times. On Garrysmod.org it's been downloaded 488 times. And of course, in the in game Toybox on Garry's Mod it's been downloaded on 8,471 separate occasions. As of this writing it's been downloaded a total of 9088 times on the various websites it's been uploaded to.

Bueno.

Like I said, I've been resting on my laurels and generally enjoying my renewed sense of unwarranted self-importance. I've found that releasing a map, and the nigh-universal praise I receive in response is the only way I can inflate my ego anymore. It's like a drug it's terrible.

"But Tyler!" I hear you shout at your screens. "You think you're hot stuff but you're not, surely someone doesn't like the map."

Well, most likely there are such malefactors, but if there are they haven't said anything yet. I'll be sure to keep you all informed if I do. In the meantime, I did receive these:

"This guy must smoke some hardcore weed before he makes map"

-☣ Fox ☢

"awesome but short like shit make em longer I STILL LIKE THEM! btw do you smoke like weed or get a heroin injection when [you] make these maps? lol"

-XMLGxDoggyg8xX

This is something of a milestone. No one's accused me of using drugs yet (I don't). Finally, I'm in the big leagues! So just in case any big name developers like, oh I don't know, Valve are reading this I'm willing to work from home for little pay, have the means to do video conferencing and able to make quality maps in as little as four months assuming I have no help from a creative team and I can sustain myself on little more then saltine crackers and water.

Call me.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The End

Ladies and Gentlemen, it's finished. Hypnophobia is complete!

Downloads:

Gamebanana

Garrysmod.org

That's right, after a little over four months, the end of the Paranoia Trilogy is complete. It's been a long journey, full of heartache but it was worth it. We've all learned something about ourselves and about Source.

First of all I would like to thank my play-testers, or more like play-tester because my sister was the only one who consistently tested it during it's development. Oh sure, Idontknow and Ramzca may say they tested it, but that was only once or twice. But whatev's.

I would also like to thank M.C. Escher, if he was here today I'm sure he'd be slightly confused, mainly because his presence would involve time travel. No doubt he'd be more interested in that then these maps. But whatever.

I won't lie, this whole undertaking was my idea, everything you saw here was the work of my own two hands. Is this selfish? You bet your boots it is. But even I have to admit this wouldn't have happened without the help of lots and lots of other people much more knowledgeable of the Source Engine then I am. Half-Wit 2 and the Valve Developer Wiki were the biggest help and I've learned a ton from these two websites.

So what's next for Paranoia? It's hard to say. I don't want to admit it right now, but I have a feeling there will be more maps. Not right now of course, I can't stand to look at Hammer right now and I probably won't for month or two. I'd really like to write some short stories to tie in with the maps, maybe spawn a little multimedia franchise here.

No matter what happens, the journey isn't over. Paranoia will live on. Meanwhile, I'm going to rest on my laurels for a bit, maybe make an earnest effort to interact with the real world (for once). Don't hold your breath though, there's no floating checkerboard tiles or inside-out buildings out there, so there's not much that I want.



Stay tuned.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Penrose Edge of Death

Good news everyone! One of my super-cool Internet friends, Obtusegoose stole one of my ideas.



Alright, maybe "stole" is a bit harsh. Nonetheless, I mentioned that the creation of a Penrose Triangle would be easy in Portal 2 with the use of the linked_portal_door entity. While I was hoping I would be the first one to do it. Obtusegoose beat me to the punch. So good for him, I guess. I'm not even bitter or anything.

Anywho, Hypnophobia? Entdata is currently at 115.7%. Basically, it's impossible to make any more, just to tweak what's already in the map for optimal excellence. I'm serious you guys, it's almost done, I just need to stop having anxiety attacks and actually finish it.

So what actually needs to be done? All this:
  • Fix the timing at one secret spot so something's reaction to some explosions is less casual.
  • Basically fix up all the AI to make it more hateful to the player in general.
  • Make the super-cool ending scene.
  • Cubemaps, what's weird is that I only have like two cubemaps in the whole map, but everything renders just fine, I'm going to have some cool internet friends (who don't steal from me) test it to see if they see the same nice shiny textures that I do.
And that's it! It's practically done, but I'm not going to release this thing until it's good and ready, which will probably be this month anyway.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Critical Mass

Map production took a turn for the slightly weird these past couple days; the oft-mentioned entdata section of the compile log? It is filled to 107.9% capacity.

As I've said before, entdata is the amount of stuff Hammer can account for when compiling the map into the .bsp format. It includes all the brushes (blocks that make up the map's geometry), props, weapons, NPCs, basically everything. And we've filled that capacity to over 100%. Again.

As you'll remember, the reason Insomnia ever actually came to an end was because it's entdata was well over 120% and it simply stopped compiling altogether. Thankfully, Hypnophobia is still below the threshold of what I'm now calling "critical mass" and there's still (hopefully) enough room to add what few vital entities are left; basically cubemaps, some more NPC's and some other fun little bells and whistles.

So yes, whereas before I was hesitant to say it, I am now convinced that this map will be done by the end of the December. There will be rejoicing and dancing and much merriment.

This is it ladies and gentlemen, the end of The Paranoia Trilogy is closing in on us.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Empire of the Centipedes

Every so often I'm afflicted with especially memorable dreams over the course of several nights, linked by a common theme. Sometimes it's a vast desert, filled with dilapidated memories. Other times it's a particular word or phrase that seems to have monumental significance over the course of the dream-quest, but the meaning is immediately lost upon waking, such as "Argo" during one long quest about a year ago. Most recently, I have been plagued by dreams of centipedes.

So rev up those Freud couches, because things are about to get crunchy.

The furthest back I can remember was about a week ago. This was the de facto beginning of the dream-quest as far as I could tell, and it's beginning was only a prelude of what was to come; It started with me in my bedroom, it was nighttime and my window blinds were closed. This was a bad sign, my brain was already trying to deceive me by sending me to the one place I would expect the most. Maybe it was trying to fool me into thinking what I was experiencing was real life, in order to make what happened next more terrifying.

Suddenly, millions of ants started crawling around my desk and walls, spiders started creeping around the corners and even lizards would shuffle around. I was trapped, surrounded by all these crawling beasts.



They were everywhere, they started crawling all over my face, it was the worst experience of my life. But it only got worse; materializing from seemingly nowhere, the Centipedes made their entrance.

Now, I'm sure I've alluded to the dream where I turned into a giant slug creature before. That was a fun dream, because my metamorphosis occurred during a ski trip. It was the only dream that I remember growing tentacles in. But this was different, while the skiing slugs were a pleasant bunch, these Centipedes were altogether more menacing, vastly more sinister then other tentacled creatures I've met.

Imagine a creature as long as a man is tall, with hundreds of constantly writhing legs down it's long, crunchy body. The creature stands upright, with only it's hindmost legs holding up it's obscene mass. Surmounting the creature is a head covered in long sinewy tentacles that constantly twist in the air, the head is bright red in color, like blood. They were more like Mongolian Death Worms then any real world Myriapod.

They started crawling towards me and I could see their horrible gaping mouths, like a combination of a lamprey's mouth and the Aristotle's Lantern of a sea urchin. I woke up as they started to prod at my eyes with their tentacles, covered in spiders and ants.

The Centipedes haunted me for the rest of the week, as practically every dream ended with them lashing out at me. Even when the subject matter of the dream didn't concern them at all, there they were; always on time to put an end to my exploration of the ruins of an ancient sports stadium to try and crush me with their hideous face-tentacles.

If this wasn't bad enough, they also had underlings that would creep around whenever the Centipedes made their move. I don't remember them nearly as well but they could only be described as anglerfish with spider legs. It was horrible.

The last dream I had, I was in a dark misty forest. All the trees were dead and black, I could only see a few meters ahead of me because of the dense fog. Surprisingly, the Centipedes were nowhere to be found. Suddenly, I was in the passenger seat of a car driving down a dark highway late at night.



I felt safe. I don't know what radio station was playing, but I remember quiet lounge music. I guess I never bothered to see who was driving the car either. I had a moment to think. I felt dizzy, my thoughts drifted to shopping malls. Malls in all their myriad of forms were always a popular destination in my dreams. Sometimes they would climb so high they would reach into the cold, thin air at the edge of space, their escalators, never stopping, always climbing to the peak. For me, the mall has never been a place of commerce, it was a jungle of steel and concrete, a place where secrets could be hidden. A little world in it's own right, inhabited by indescribable objects with no worldly purpose: twisted, sculpted glass in any color imaginable, scented candles and delicate wire constructions in perpetual motion. Surely, the mall was a place that transcended day-time logic.

But just as quickly as I found myself in the car, I was in an old bathroom, once again surrounded by locusts, spiders and all other crawling malefactors. More lizards appeared, climbing into a heap and started melting. The bubbling mass of decaying lizard-matter was swarmed with ants, even as some misplaced limbs continued to convulse.

Then, they came: the centipedes. Only these were normal centipedes, creepy, but lacking the tentacles or the improbable size that made them so deadly. So there I was, in a dirty old bathroom, surrounded by melting, bubbling lizards and every arthropod imaginable except giant death-centipedes to be found. And then I woke up.

I doubt I've seen the last of my nemeses, my guess is that they're only waiting for the best time to strike. Next time I have a dream where my teeth fall out, I'll be waiting for them. This is now a battle of wits, dream-warfare.

Monday, November 28, 2011

They Think It Be Like It Is But It Don't

Today Idontknow and I tried to play the most current version of Hypnophobia in Garry's Mod. Naturally, it didn't work out for a number of reasons, but this is to be expected. We weren't able to get a server working but it's probably for the better since my lack of a graphics card would mean the game would be a horrible confused mess of psychedelic colors...



...you know, more then it already is.

Oh! That reminds me, today's lucky number is 85.3%! Whoever is sitting in Row 4, Seat 2 just won a brand-new Mark III travel machine, congratulations! It is now a distinct, but improbable possibility that the map MAY be done by the beginning of January.

MAY.

What else? Well a very nifty entity in the Portal 2 build of the Source Engine has been brought to my attention, the so called linked_portal_door. From what I've seen so far it can lead to very intriguing topography:





I am going to make an abstract map for Portal as soon as possible and it is going to be all up in this. You realize that this makes Penrose Triangle shaped maps easy? Nay, child's play? I don't even want to try and consider all the totally bizarre possibilities this opens up. It would be the map supreme. It might be the gateway to my life-long dream of being able to break people's minds from across the internet.

Imagine if you will, a map with the same aesthetics of of Insomnia, but still clearly a Portal-style test chamber, twisted beyond any clear function and host to such anomalous curvatures of space-time that the Human brain can't help but surrender to the mematic hazard it's presented with. There would be checkerboard tiles of course, and the whole map would be an amalgamation of a city, swamps and the clean, bold lines of Aperture Science. There would be vortices of brightly colored light and floating platforms in an inky black abyss. Doorways that lead to rooms that are bigger on the inside, hallways that lead back to their start while staying perfectly straight, upside down rooms, the possibilities would be endless. And there wouldn't be a single peep about lemons or cake or whatever.

And player would be forced to burn Wheatley at the end. Nice.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Armory of the Daleks 2: Electric Bungaloo

A while ago I made a post about my ten favorite weapons from video games. Naturally, there's more I could mention, but that'll have to wait for another day. Now, it's time for the seven greatest weapons from media that isn't video games.

Lock and load ladies...

7. The Heat-Ray



Perhaps one of the earliest examples of a Directed-Energy Weapon, the Heat-Ray carried by the Martians in The War of the Worlds was, and still is an extremely devastating weapon, that, if it were to exist, would be nothing short of a Doomsday Device.

The book describes the weapon as "able to generate an intense heat in a chamber of practically absolute non-conductivity". The beam of destructive energy is reflected off a a parabolic mirror like a warship's searchlight. This heat, in the form of an invisible beam of light is able to melt glass, turn water into boiling steam, incinerate anything flammable for miles around and even melt lead like a hot knife through butter. We can only assume that it can toast bread a nice golden brown.

Later depictions of the Heat-Ray get even better as understanding of atomic physics improved. In the 1955 movie, the Heat-Ray is replaced with globs of glowing green energy that disables the interactions of gluons, "the atomic glue that holds matter together". This version turns everything it touches a sickly green before it fades out of existance, becoming immaterial energy "stuff".

Probably one of the only good things about the 2005 version of the movie, the Heat-Ray completely dehydrates it's victims, leaving behind nothing but gray dust and tattered clothing. Interestingly, this version looks and sounds like it's more electrical in nature then previous versions. This actually makes sense, and explains why people's clothing drifts away as if it was weightless, it's the effects of static electricity and an extreme lack of moisture.

6. The Zorg ZF-1



The Fifth Element was a very silly movie, but for all the right reasons. Probably one of the silliest aspects (besides Chris Tucker) is Gary Oldman's walnut of death up there. In the movie, he equips his alien henchmen with the Zorg ZF-1, an "all in one" weapon that puts Batman to shame in terms of sheer multipurpose utility. In it's introductory scene we're shown that it's a high-powered assault rifle that comes with a flamethrower, poison darts, a missile launcher and a freeze feature. Plus, it has a homing device that automatically directs the bullets towards the target, but only after they've been shot...which actually sounds kind of pointless. If the target's already riddled with bullets why go through the trouble to automatically project more bullets at them? Also, that big red button? That's the trigger for the self-destruct mechanism that destroys the gun and it's user in an enormous fireball.

Again, this was a silly movie.

5. The M41A Pulse Rifle



Aliens was a very different movie from Alien, much more action-packed. Good thing too, one movie is more then enough to explore all the hideous Freudian aspects of the Alien's life cycle.

The gun is actually a Thompson sub-machine gun prettied up to look futuristic. It features a handy little display to show how many bullets are left in the magazine and a nifty under-slung grenade launcher made from the foregrip of an SPAS 12 shotgun.

Interestingly enough, the name "Pulse Rifle" seems to indicate that the weapon uses electromagnetism to propel bullets, similar to real-world experimental coil guns and rail guns. They're said to fire caseless ammunition, only adding more weight to this little theory.

That's all fine and good, but what's really great is the sound the gun makes.



Skip to around 3:10. It's that wonderful change of pitch when it fires, it just sounds so futuristic.

Also, I apologize for Private Hudson's language, shame on him.

4. The Auto-9



I've only recently seen RoboCop all the way through. Naturally, I'm ashamed of myself for missing this incredible movie until now. There's plenty to love about it, not the least of which is the creepy-cool ED-209 robot, animated in stop motion, making it look very out of place in the rest of the movie, but in a cool "Oh God, this robot is going to leap off the screen to kill me." kind of way.

Anyhow, RoboCop's main weapon throughout the movie is the Auto-9 machine pistol, in actuality a a Beretta 93R dressed up to look like the silly-huge cannon in the movie. Apparently, RoboCop's gun was originally going to be a Desert Eagle, which is already unnecessarily huge for any pistol. But the gun actually looked too small when Peter Weller held it in the RoboCop costume. So they actually had to make a new even bigger gun to look appropriately menacing in his hand. I can only imagine what a regular person looks like waving that giant metal brick around. Pretty silly I imagine.

When he's not using it (which isn't often), the gun fits in a small compartment in RoboCop's thigh for convenient storage.

3. Ice-Nine



Ice-Nine is less "giant gun" and more "innocuous looking doomsday device", basically the Heat-Ray's evil opposite. First appearing in Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, Ice-Nine is a special polymer of ice. It's an ordinary ice crystal, except that it's physical structure forces water it comes in contact with to adhere to it's shape, becoming more Ice-Nine. Instead of melting at 0 degrees Celsius it melts at a staggering 45.8 degrees (114.4 degrees Fahrenheit). I assume you can see how this would be a problem.

I really don't want to give away details about the book, so let's just say that it would be a very very bad idea to drop a cube of Ice-Nine in the ocean.

Thankfully, no polymer of ice has anywhere near the same properties as Ice-9. In fact, the real Ice IX polymer can only exist at very low temperatures and high pressure. However, the idea of self-replicating crystals, called seed crystals do have basis in reality. In fact, some malformed proteins called prions can replicate themselves like this. Prions, of course, are the culprits behind Bovine spongiform encephalopathy, more commonly known as Mad Cow Disease.

2. The Langford Basilisk



First appearing in the short story BLIT by David Langford, a basilisk, or "Medusa Weapon" is an image or sensation that is fatal to Human beings, usually in a fractal pattern. This is similar to the concept of a "brown note" or other mematic hazards, they're dangerous simply because the Human brain cannot process the information it's presented with without tearing itself apart. This is similar to what happens when people see Cthulhu, it's so mind-bogglingly horrible that the brain shuts down at the sight of it.

On the subject of basilisks, Langford has this to say:

"...the human mind as a formal, deterministic computational system -- a system that, as predicted by a variant of Gödel's Theorem in mathematics, can be crashed by thoughts which the mind is physically or logically incapable of thinking. The Logical Imaging Technique presents such a thought in purely visual form as a basilisk image which our optic nerves can't help but accept. The result is disastrous, like a software stealth-virus smuggled into the brain."

Terrifying! Of course, I'd never have an image of a real basilisk here, that would be irrespon-



1. The Dalek Gunstick



The ultimate weapon, the egg whisk of death: The Dalek Death Ray.

I'll be honest with you people, I know very little about Doctor Who outside of what immediately concerns the Daleks. If they made a show just about the Daleks, I'd watch it. I'd totally watch it, even if, nay, especially if, it was just them shouting "EX-TER-MIN-ATE!!!" for an hour.

Probably the best part of the Daleks, besides the voices and the plunger arm and the light bulb ears and the everything, is of course the Death Ray. Sources are vague on exactly how the Death Ray works, but from what I understand it's been claimed in Expanded Universe novels that it liquefies the internal organs of it's victims. Hideous! We're told in these same novels that the Daleks actually dial down the power on their weapons so it takes longer for their victims to die and even as I type that I am disgusted by the Daleks, shame on them!

Apparently, the beam can be deflected by a sufficiently reflective surface. Also, the gunstick is made from a metal called Silcronian which is heat-resistant and can repel laser rays or ruby heat which the Daleks used as ammunition...which doesn't really make sense.

Like the M41A, the Death Ray has a very distinctive sound which I can only describe as an ear-shattering shriek, like the sound of glass breaking, ran through a synthesizer and mixed with the scare cord in a horror movie soundtrack.

And that is why it is #1.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Name of the Game

Ladies and gentlemen, Hypnophobia is now at an unprecedented 81.4% of it's entdata capacity. But don't bust open those champagne bottles just yet, there's still more map to come.

We've come a long way in a surprisingly short time, but there's still the matter of placing cubemaps, AI nodes and all sorts of other little bells and whistles. For now, I'm working on an extended action sequence. Without giving too much away, I will just say that it involves a house, a Tunneling Entanglement Device and snipers. Fun!



This area is at an awkward stage in it's development where any pictures will just make it look bad. This is the best I can do for now, yet it is inadequate for representing what I have planned.

I can reveal little, except that this map has been designed to torment the player with various hazards. I expect that Hypnophobia will be at least a full 64% more actively hostile to the player then it's predecessors, so assuming this is actually finished before year 2012 begins be prepared to put on your thinking caps.



I think before this map is truly finished, I will need to go back to some already-finished areas and deadly them up a bit, I'm thinking poison gas, or car crashes if at all possible. Environmental hazards are now the name of the game.

And sprites, we need a lot more of those. You can't have enough glitter.

ALSO, in case you haven't already noticed, I've been toying around with the blog's HTML in order to take advantage of all the empty space on either side of the screen. It was just sitting there, not full of words and pictures and being generally useless, so I did what had to be done and fiddled around with programming I don't pretend to understand and the blog is now a better place because of it.

Yes.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Conspicuous Lack of Hypercubes

So here I am, thinking everything is fine and good, compiling the map when I check the entdata...

When no one was looking SDK compiled 68.9% of the map's entdata. It compiled 68.9%. That's almost as much as 70%.

And that's terrible.

I can only guess how quickly this map will be done at this speed, I'm not yet entertaining the notion that it'll be done this year. Maybe it will, maybe it won't.

Either way, let's take a quick peek at the exciting world of Hypnophobia, a work in progress...



The Paranoia Zone really does have a lively nightlife, you just can't see it because it's invisible.



An ever expanding wall of miasma, spewing chairs from it's spongy surface which are collected by the locals.



Is it an apartment building that's been turned into a prison? Or is it a prison that's been turned into an apartment? The choice is yours.



I blame my obsession with building places like this on that one episode of The Simpsons where Homer eats that psychedelic chili pepper. I must have watched it when I was very young and it's stuck with me since.



I've been wanting to make a creepy playground since before Paranoia was made, now I've finally gone and done it!

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Worst Aliens Ever

If there's one thing I love it's aliens. Bizarre, inscrutable and completely unearthly in both manner and deed. For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by what could be "out there". What indescribable beings could be among the stars right now? Many have wondered, and from the imaginations of many here on Earth have come some truly inventive, outrageous, incredible and yet believable creatures which would be right at home on all those strange new worlds.

With that said, you can imagine that I'll be a little disappointed when I watch a movie with aliens who are, oh, not quite up to par.

Okay, maybe disappointed isn't a strong enough word. Violently hateful is probably a better description.

Yes, for every silicon-based sentient microbe colony there's a dozen cat-like aliens. Science-fiction is inundated with xenobiological trash. Some of these inferior excuses for extraterrestrials are so bad that I can't help but lie awake at night imagining their poorly thought out planets exterminated in righteous plasma. So, with no further delay, let's take a look at the pathetic world of...

The Worst Aliens. Ever.

10. The New Paradigm Daleks



I will never forgive Steve Moffat for these abominations. Ever.

9. The Aliens (War of the Worlds 2005)



There are plenty of things not to like about the 2005 version of The War of the Worlds, not the least of which is Dakota Fanning's horrible, ungodly screaming. In fact, when compared to the main characters, the aliens seem downright pleasant

But as it turns out, the characters are bad and the aliens are also bad and this movie is just bad.

First of all, take a look at that picture, that's not a terrifying invader; that's a mutant frog with a triceratops head. It's little eyes and tiny teeth don't make it scary, just oddly cute and nonthreatening. Plus, it doesn't look particularly alien. Weird by Earth standards maybe, but that's it. It's not scary, just slightly weird. Certainly a far cry from the hideous octopus-like blood-drinking brains from the book.

Does that mean this whole movie was a waste? Not necessarily, the Tripods were very cool...and that's about it.



Also, take a look at this. This is the alien from Independence Day (Which was awful for completely different reasons.). You'll notice that they both look exactly the same.

8. Robin Williams



Robin Williams is not funny. He's tedious and obnoxious to such an extreme he's received actual death-threats. So how bad can Mork be when a man so annoying as to insight feelings of murder calls the character a bad idea?

Bad. Very bad.

7. Everything from Star Wars



I've come to hate Star Wars over the years. Slowly, day by day, my memories of it sour more and more. No doubt some day I'll just straight up start burning their merchandise on my front lawn.

The aliens from Star Wars are a very special kind of lazy. They all follow the same formula: oddly colored human body + weird head. And that's it. Go ahead, rewatch those movies, you'll find that the majority of aliens, with the exception of Jabba are all people with weird heads.

Of course, we mustn't forget that behind these half-baked costumes are painfully one-dimensional comic reliefs.

6. Klaatu from the Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)



First of all, I have nothing against Keanu Reeves, the man's a Highlander after all. That doesn't change the fact that The Day the Earth Stood Still was a stupid movie with a stupid premise.

In this picture, Neo plays Klaatu, an alien sent to Earth to tell the Human race that if they don't start driving electric cars and using solar power they will be exterminated to save the Earth from our evil greedy ways.

First of all, you can't have your protagonist threaten omnicide and expect the audience to sympathize with them. Also, if these aliens are so advanced that they can quickly exterminate the most wide-spread species on this planet wouldn't it be easier to give us the technology to make a cleaner energy source? It wouldn't be that hard, they wouldn't even need to kill anyone.

Aliens like these really frustrate me. We're supposed to think they're our moral superiors and we need to feel ashamed for being Human. Meanwhile they're killing countless people on-screen as they lecture us for being violent and primitive. I won't stand for it, no amount of giant glowing marbles will convince me otherwise. These aliens are hate-mongering eco-terrorists that rival the Daleks for sheer brutality. But while the Daleks are gleefully evil, these snobs try to pass themselves off as the good guys.

That will not do
.

With that said, Gort was still cool and the original movie actually did make sense. I encourage you all to see it. Also, Ted Logan isn't to blame for this mess, just Green Peace.

5. The Kzinti



This is probably the only creature on this list I feel guilty for resenting. The Kzinti aren't bad characters per se, they've got lots of interesting quirks. Their society is interesting and Ringworld was much improved by their presence. They're like Klingons, they're a credible threat but when the time comes to really show things just got serious, they're the first ones to get the beat-down. TVTropes would call this the Worf Effect.

The only problem is they're cat-like aliens.

I hate cat-like aliens because no matter what planet they come from, they're just cats. I know this seems like a weirdly specific thing to get fussy about, but surprisingly there's a ton of cat-like aliens floating around.

Why did everyone suddenly decide beings from another world must look like Mr. Whiskers? Because people are feeble-minded. Rather then really work their brain imagining something bizarre their primitive brains fall back to cute little kitties.

Now that I think about it, I don't have a problem with the Kzinti at all, I think they're great. It's all the other alien cats that I hate.

And furries.

4. Those Idiots from Signs



I don't need to tell you what an incredibly stupid movie Signs was. Plenty of other websites have pointed out in excruciating detail just how completely nonsensical this tripe was...but I'll tell you anyway.

First of all, the big twist in this movie is that the aliens are allergic to water.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Okay, ignoring the fact that Earth's surface is over 70% water why would you invade a planet with hostile natives that you have no defense against except poison spray? Keep that in mind, poison spray from your hand versus, well, anything us Earthlings have.

Secondly, why are these aliens naked when they invade a planet? What's the point of that? Humans wear clothes and we spend all our time on this planet.

So, in review, what we have here are creatures who think it's a good idea to invade a planet they're allergic to while wearing no protection whatsoever and their plan to subdue the natives (with nuclear weapons) is to spray their asthmatic children with poison. And while we're at it, why did they invade Earth in the first place? What was it that they wanted!?

And I'm supposed to believe that they were smart enough to invent space travel?

3. The Protoss



The Protoss of Starcraft are a race of mouthless telepathic warriors and they are relentlessly dull. They inhabit a weird niche in sci-fi: they're a race of alien religious zealot warriors with a predominately blue color scheme. Like cat-aliens, this is a bizarre cliche which has nonetheless endured, especially in video games.

All their units in the game use blue energy stuff to attack with, whether it be blue energy swords, or globs of blue energy stuff in their ships. They're sufficiently advanced aliens and nothing else, there's nothing else to their personality as a species.

I get it, the point is that they're supposed to be cool. But that's the problem, the Protoss aren't cool, they're just bland. Plus, they're the basis for an extremely boring stereotype all aliens in video games seem to follow.

Speaking of which...

2. Everything from Halo Ever



If there was ever a franchise that embodies everything wrong with science-fiction, video games, and fourteen year old boys in general this would be that franchise. Halo is a dull-minded mess of boring level design, flat characters, stupid plot and horrendous aliens.

First of all, the so-called Covenant, the primary antagonists, are obviously a stand-in for radical Islam. The first game came out in 2001 after all. They're everything wrong with the Protoss multiplied a thousand fold, playing the "scary religious fundamentalism" to it's furthest, justifying their war against Humanity as the will of their prophets or whoever. The same thing we've seen a thousand times thanks to them. But the problem isn't just the alien's boring lack of identity, it's that visually, they're a check list of sci-fi stereotypes. You have standard bugs, large gorillas, dudes with weird faces a la Predator and alien birds, among others.

Of course, one can always find exceptions, even in this mess. Apparently, in the later games there's large jellyfish-like beings that the player can occasionally find, from what I've read of them those sound pretty cool.

But everything else sucks.

1. Space Smurfs



This.

This is what is wrong with the 21st Century.

My family is baffled that I don't like Avatar. At first glance it does sound like the kind of thing I'd enjoy: a well thought-out ecosystem, the whole movie taking place on another planet, a very well designed and realistic space ship at the beginning. It all seemed to be going so well for the first five minutes.

But then came the ridiculous blue cat-people.

Everything about this movie from it's misanthropic environmentalist message to the long-winded first act to the impossibly stupid alien design is wrong. It embodies a paradigm shift that started in 2000 that has been rotting the brains of every man woman and child on this planet to make us believe we're inferior to simple-minded animals.

First of all, ignoring the society of these imbeciles for a moment, their biology makes no sense. The planet in the movie clearly has a diverse ecosystem with creatures that don't look like they would come from Earth, so why is the local sentient species blue Humanoids? And don't tell me it's convergent evolution because that's not good enough. These are the personification of the appeal to nature fallacy and the juvenile belief that the movie-watching public cannot sympathize with a character that doesn't look like them.

The overblown environmental "message" is so stupidly obvious, the aliens literally "connect" to nature using their hair braids, all the while looking like they just walked off the set of Dances With Wolves.

It's the same balderdash The Day the Earth Stood Still tried to pull, demonizing the same creatures watching the movie and presenting a farcical alternative. I place the blame for the blossoming misanthropy of this generation solely on movies like this. It's fiction like this that makes teenagers turn to vampires and blue-skinned cat people for emotional support. It's grooming an entire generation to believe it's influence on this planet is nothing but negative.

People are not perfect, of course, but I'd rather be living among puny Earthlings if it means I'm not surrounded by self-righteous overgrown smurfs.

Friday, October 21, 2011

White Gold

Before we continue, I'd like you all to know that you, you've not. Got. That. Look. IN YOUR EYES.



Anyway, I've had a rather tumultuous week this week. First and foremost, my video card died. This is a tragedy, there is no doubt about that. It all started a few days ago, when my computer wouldn't turn on. In a panic, I opened it up and blasted as much dust as I could out. Again and again I tried to get the be-deviled thing to work, when suddenly I had an epiphany: I would take out the video card. Naturally it turned on fine, but hideously underpowered. This means that, once again I am left to rely on my much maligned integrated card until I can scrounge up enough monies to play my precious Supreme Commander again. As you can guess, I've been left in a terribly unstable emotional state by this. Tears were had by all.

What does this mean for the map? Surprisingly, not much. Half-Life 2 is one of the few games which runs more or less normally on the dinky integrated card. Sure, HDR lighting doesn't work and Hammer is a little (more) unstable, but it's nothing drastic. So don't worry ladies and gentlemen, Hypnophobia lives on.

On a much lighter note, I've told some of you already, but recently I got the greatest puppet ever. See, the historic downtown of my city is a cultural hub of sorts and I go there every other week to keep my finger on the pulse of this great city. Well, in one of the many gift shops there I spied the perfect stuffed animal.

Imagine if you will a fluffy white bunny...in a magicians hat...and you put your hand in the hat to animate the bunny.

I don't mind telling you, when I saw it I laughed. For, like, five minutes straight. Tears were running down my face, other customers started to worry. Naturally, I bought it and I promise you I am going to make a video and put it here for the whole world to see.

The world must know about Frank: Bunny Supreme.

Also, I just recently finished watching all of Aeon Flux, the show not the god-awful movie. It's pretty good, pretty good.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Midway

I've had more then my fair share of self-doubt while making Hypnophobia. I haven't told any of my colleagues but I've had a hard time convincing myself this map is abstract enough. I've actually went back and changed some of the earlier areas several times because they look to normal too me, and I'm still unhappy with it.

And of course I'm worried construction is taking too long. I'm worried this will take longer to build then Insomnia which I don't need to remind you took a year to build and only stopped because the compiler stopped working.

At least that's how I felt yesterday.

I was compiling as usual, when I checked the log afterward the entdata section was at 51.4%. As you know, Insomnia stopped compiling when it's entdata was just over 100%. This means that somehow, by some bizarre miraculous circumstances Hypnophobia is a little less then halfway done. Suffice to say, I'm shocked. I've actually taken steps to prevent this kind of inflation, func_details and all that jazz.

I didn't consider this map even a quarter of the way done, let alone half. There's still so many areas I have planned, I have no idea if I can get to them all. But on the other hand, this is a pleasant surprise, it shows that despite my doubts, progress is being made (at a startling rate I might add).

With that said, here's a picture of Carlton:

Thursday, September 29, 2011

After Hours

I've been looking forward to making this post, but it's only now that I have anything interesting to show. Ladies and gentlemen, I am slowly but surely building Hypnophobia as we speak and I am doing everything in my power to ensure that it's at least 20% more abstract then Insomnia. But don't take my word for it, let the pictures speak for themselves:



The Paranoia Zone is deadly, but fair. If one manages to avoid stupid mistakes they could find the dream-world to be surprisingly hospitable. However, if one insists on plowing through walls in their truck without considering the consequences Paranoia will make them pay the price.



It was only after I made this that I realized the lasers look like an inverted cross. While offending people's religious sentiments or drawing unneeded parallels to black metal were never my intention, I'm keeping it. It's a reflection of my subconscious that's integral to the work at hand, it must be preserved, in the spirit of Dali's psychoanalytic period.



This is the only photo-graphic evidence of the super-secret new area, more on this later.

...

One thing that I love hearing is people's interpretations of the maps perceived themes and backstory. I saw this one Polish website that did a article on horror-themed maps including Paranoia and they were convinced that the chairs represent hospitalization and psychosis.

For the most part, people think the maps take place between Half-Life 1 and 2, apparently Paranoia is the stasis that the G-Man left Gordon Freeman in between games. Others think it's a nightmare Gordon's having. I don't think these interpretations are bad, I just never thought of the maps being particularly well connected to the Half-Life mythos. I've actually tried to avoid having NPC's refer to the player as Freeman, but that's almost impossible.

Few of my peers know it, but I actually have a pretty extensive backstory for the maps already, involving Swedish-American's kidnapped from airports among other things. I have several notebooks full of possible explanations for what's going on, none of which agree with each other.

Given the surreal setting, I think it would be unfair to claim any one interpretation is correct, especially at the expense of another. For this reason, it is now official that any and all explanations, theories or fan fiction of the maps is official canon, including (and especially) those that contradict each other.

With that said, here's some of the explanations I've come up with:

  • Paranoia is actually an inter-dimensional vehicle of immense size, similar to the TARDIS. It's crashed and it's malfunctioning navigation equipment is kidnapping people from across all of time and space.
  • It's actually a sentient Universe that seeks to consume all of reality and turn space-time into more of itself.
  • The player is crazy and is having a hallucination.
  • It's the domain of a race of telepathic chairs that aspire to conquer the galaxy.
  • It's a "dimensional-intersection" where several alternate realities collide, often violently.
  • Paranoia is a giant super-computer, built to calculate a way to extract free energy from the quantum foam, ultimately averting the universal heat death.
While I said that every interpretation can be correct, I will make an exception for the people who say it's based on Inception because. That. Is. Wrong. My maps came out first and I refuse to be shackled to some movie just because it's popular.

So no, I am not going to make a map called Inception.

Ever.

Feel free to share your theories in the comments, because if there's one thing we can all agree on, it's that the world doesn't need another Twin Peaks.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Final Day

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Hypnophobia is complete.

...

Just kidding, we're no where close to being done with that but don't feel down-and-out, you still have something to be excited about. I'll give you a hint, they're brightly colored, walk around on four legs and there's going to be a new season of them starting tomorrow.

That's right, My Miniature Equine! Tomorrow is the start of the new season and you can bet your salt-licks the entirety of the D.O.E. including myself will be watching it. I don't want to give much away, but I saw a promo of the first episode a couple days ago. I'll just tell you that the new villain looks brilliant, much much better then what the fans were speculating.

For starters, the voice actor is John de Lancie. Many of you may know him as Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Think Q but as a bizarre amalgamation of animal parts and a goat head with absolutely no change in personality and you have the new villain summed up pretty well. I swear, they did that on purpose, now the first two episodes are going to be an extended Star Trek homage and it's going to be wonderful.



The wait is almost over, we will have our ponies soon enough!

(Picture by willdrawforfood.)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Life! Death! Cupcakes!

I've been holding off making this post for almost a week now. I've wanted to hide it from the world, I've been tense and nervous. I can't relax. But now I have no choice but to face up to the facts: for the past week I have been psychotic killer in my dreams. Every night once I go to bed, I'm transported to a world where suddenly I'm murdering everything around me with impunity. Does this reflect badly on my sub-conscious desires? Absolutely. Do I feel ashamed? No.

Can I dig it? Absolutely.

It all started on Thursday. I found myself in a luxurious hotel room with white leather sofas and white shag carpet. I was in a sharp-looking business suit and my hair was slicked back. I think I was some kind of stock-broker. I was sitting on one of the sofas, oblivious to the fact that I was dreaming. Suddenly, who else but Pinkie Pie appears. She's happily bouncing around the room, probably singing, I don't remember.

As some of you know, Pinkie Pie is often reinterpreted by Bronies to be a psycho killer mainly for the way she murders Rainbow Dash and bakes her into a cupcake in the fan fiction "Cupcakes". With that in mind, it would make sense that Pinkie would appear. But I've never read Cupcakes, more on that later.

As she's running around my hotel room a large knife materializes in my hand. I storm out of the room, with the little pink pony following me. I see some anonymous malefactor down the hall and immediately stab them. I stab everyone I see for the rest of the dream in an unrelenting stab-fest. I remember there were Team Fortress characters there, I stabbed them all to death.

What's strange is I seemed to slay everyone the same way: I would hide behind a corner and watch my victim's reflection in the tile walls all over the dream-hotel as they crept past me. Once they were near me I jumped in front of them and landed a single jab at their chests. Why none of my victims saw me in the tile walls, I have no idea. All I do know is that Pinkie Pie was the only one sparred on my killing spree.

When I woke up I immediately started writing a post for my blog, but as I wrote it I started to think that maybe the people reading this don't want to hear any more about ponies.

Skip ahead to Friday night, I listen to Electric Six before bed, as has become my custom. Once I'm asleep, I'm in Las Vegas. Unlike real Las Vegas, this one is a sprawling hanging garden of bizarre abstract forms and enormous geometric constructions. There's no "buildings" in the traditional sense, just these giant frames holding up colonies of creeping ivy-like plants. In a few places where the frames are starting to break apart from disrepair, people are having tail-gate parties. The smell of barbecue fills the air. As I go further into the "city" I see less people.

Soon, I'm the only one around, these sections of the city have been completely abandoned. There's no sound, just the blistering desert heat as I wander around these Dali-esque ruins. Suddenly, thousands of despondent children appear, moaning and complaining. The dream ends and I find myself totally apathetic to their fate. But I do want to recreate the parts of the city that I still remember in a map, that would be cash.

Finally, last night. I'm grocery shopping with someone. I have no idea who they are but I'm carrying all the groceries. There were three boxes and a single roast chicken, I remember because it was very hot and I had to constantly shift it around in my arms so I didn't get burnt.

As we walked to the car a bunch of kids on tiny motorcycles circled around us.

"Hey, did you just come out of gay-mart?" They said mockingly, over and over. They kept laughing and threatening us, suddenly one of them pulls out a gun.

I probably didn't recognize it as such at the time, but now I'm convinced it was an NAA Mini Revolver.

"I'm sick of this, you're gonna die!" I yell at the one with the gun. He shoots me and I drop my groceries. I inspect the wound to find that the bullet is absolutely tiny, like a tic-tac. I charge at him, head down and reach my hands around his throat. He drops the gun as I make a fist to punch him in his stupid-looking flabby face. The dream ends before I can beat him to death.

In retrospect, I've come to only one conclusion: Pinkie Pie is an avatar of death that visits people in their dreams to convince them to do evil deeds. Also, punk-kids seem to get away with everything.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

SCIENCE!

Vira is one of the many fictional planets I've made as part of my plan to become a rich and famous science-fiction writer. It is a planet with a population of over fifteen billion people who, through no fault of their own, are locked in an endless war of attrition after Vira was knocked out of orbit in a freak asteroid related accident. Now completely frozen and millions of miles away from the star it used to orbit, Vira is a constant battleground as enemy factions struggle to stay alive on their frigid homeworld as it jettisons clear out of it's star system. Vira moves so fast in fact that it's scientists have predicted that it will be in intergalactic space within a generation. Of course, few believe their civilization will survive long enough to see the day when their planet is flung well out of their galaxy. Nuclear war threatens to end all life on the planet on a daily basis.

It isn't all hopeless on Vira, medical science is an exciting field that develops new technology at a startling rate. The hero of today's story is about to find that out the hard way in a piece I like to call...

The Cyborgs of Death

Sergeant Liam Moore's dropship was shot down by enemy fighters less then an hour ago. The entire crew escaped miraculously unscathed except for himself who was now missing an arm and rapidly loosing blood from the remaining stump. The nearest Coalition base was over a hundred kilometers away, leaving the entire squad isolated in the freezing wilderness of Vira. Sergeant Moore couldn't help but notice that he wasn't quickly freezing to death or suffering from massive blood loss but was instead strapped to an operating table quickly moving down what looked like an automated assembly line.

His head was swimming, his vision was blurred; there was a dull throbbing pain where his left arm used to be. The operating table slowed to a stop, suddenly Private Booker appeared on a nearby catwalk. His shaved head was wrapped with a bandage but otherwise fine.

"He Sarge, how're you holding up?" He said.

Sergeant Moore could barely muster a half-hearted mumble to respond.

"Hey yeah don't strain yourself, you've been injected with, like, a ton of tranquilizers. Yeah as it turns out we crash landed right next to a Cyborg Nationalist base. Crazy right? They don't show up on radar. Anyway, they said they'd fix your arm for free. Just sit tight, it'll be over soon."

The table started to move again, leaving the Private behind on the catwalk. For a while Sergeant Moore was at ease. He had heard about the Cyborg Nationalists, they were a peaceful people who had remained neutral for most of the war. They're cybernetics technology were supposed to be unparalleled; they were able to bring men back from the dead, giving him a new robot arm should be easy by comparison.

As Moore went deeper into the assembly line electronic eyes appeared, staring at him from the walls. The table stopped again and a field of laser beams passed over his battered body.

"Scans indicate subject is eligible for total conversion." A harsh electronic voice said.

Suddenly, dozens of robotic arms appeared, painfully probing his bare skin before receding back into the wall.

"Prepare for total conversion!" The voice said again.

"Wait, what?" Moore said, starting to wake up. "I didn't ask for this. Booker! Tell them to stop!"

The lights in the assembly line turned to a dark red as the table switched to the track to his left. More and more arms appeared, grabbing at the Sergeant, puncturing him with needles.

"Convert! Convert!" The voice chanted. "CONVERT!"

The table moved into a more horizontal position as it traveled, leaving Moore to stare at the ceiling which he just noticed was flecked with droplets of blood.

"I didn't ask for this! Stop it!" Moore yelled at the assembly line.

The table stopped in front of an enormous metal arm ending in a circular saw. More arms appeared to restrain Moore as he jerked from side to side. The saw slowly started to spin, accompanied by a high pitched whine. It effortlessly swung into position just above his knee-caps and did a quick pass, spraying blood all over his face. Two robotic claws appeared to dump his legs into a nearby disposal bin. The saw made another pass, quickly removing his other arm and what was left of his stump.

Now totally limbless and screaming in pain, Moore moved to the next area. New arms and legs were moved into position as claws held him down.

"We will now install your prostheses. Be advised, they will be connected to your pre-existing nerve fibers and you may feel momentary discomfort." The voice said.

Smaller, more delicate looking claws moved into place and pulled the wires in the legs towards his stumps. A camera-eye took a quick look at the bloody mangled flesh and the wires were crammed in. Moore felt a sensation like being electrocuted as the new limbs were connected to his nervous system. A giant gun appeared, driving huge metal bolts into the stumps to keep the mechanics in place as a team of arch-welders appeared. There was a bright light, leaving Moore blinded, when his vision returned he was in a huge warehouse, surrounded by hundreds of other unfortunates who were receiving total conversion.

The Sargent tried moving and felt sick to his stomach. He could feel what was left of his bones scraping against the metal surface of his new limbs.

"You're augmentations are not yet complete and have been disabled for your safety." The voice reminded him.

Suddenly, the table made a sharp turn, returning to the assembly line. Another saw appeared and made a deep cut from his neck to groin. Moore's stomach split open effortlessly, spilling his organs onto the table. He could feel himself about to faint when a giant needle appeared, stabbing him with something. He was suddenly completely awake again, staring at the surgical machines scooping his organs out, cutting large sections of intestines into ribbons.

"Your gastro-intestinal system being upgraded, please remain calm." The voice said.

Long sections of plastic tube was placed in the now empty cavity in Moore's chest. His stomach, heart and what assumed to be his pancreas were returned, modified, covered in mechanical augmentations. The surgery was being performed with industrial speed, the claws moving so fast he couldn't focus on just one. When they left his chest was blinking mass of cybernetically enhanced meat. He felt like fainting again, another needle appeared to pump him full of whatever chemical cocktail had kept him awake so far. Another saw appeared, removing his sternum and replacing it with a shiny metallic alternative in one swift motion.

The table turned over so he was now facing the floor which, with little exception, was a thick pool of blood and metal grates. He felt something puncture his spine and drill deep holes down his back.

"You're entire nervous system is being augmented." The voice said.

Moore could feel every electrode get placed in his spine, one by one, until there were twenty-six of them that ran the length of his back. A huge incision was cut into what was left of his natural arms and legs as another machine tore into his shoulders and hips. Metal structures were placed as the table flipped right-side up again. Moore saw that he now had what appeared to be large pistons jutting out his stumps, connecting his artificial limbs to his now very artificial shoulders and hips.

He felt himself faint again, but there was no enormous needle to keep him awake this time. When he woke up, even more of him had been replaced, his ribcage was now a shiny chrome imitation and two large valves had been place in his chest.

"You're nose is now obsolete, so we removed it. Congratulations, you can now breath through your chest!" The voice said.

Sure enough, his entire nose was gone, replaced with yet more metallic armor.

The assembly line came to an end and Moore was back in the warehouse. Other patients were moving in lines beside him; naked and covered in blood. Their bodies had been mangled and replaced with robotic substitutes. Some of them had their skulls cut open, revealing brains covered in glowing electrodes. Another saw appeared above Moore's head, making a clean cut above his eyebrows in a circle around his skull which made a popping sound as it fell off. Everyone on the assembly line was exchanging nervous glances at each other, some where still screaming for help. There were both men and women being modified.

A cable reached into Moore's brain and plugged into something he couldn't see. In an instant millions of images and words flashed across his now-artificial eyes as he suddenly understood every language on Vira, the essentials of quantum mechanics, space flight, everything. Sergeant Moore was rapidly learning everything.

"Congratulations!" Said a voice from inside his head. "You are now running CyberOS Version 5.42. You're procedure was a complete success. You are now an estimated fifty times as efficient as you were before. Our troubleshooting hot-line is open at all times, feel free to open a communication channel if you have questions about your conversion. Thank you!"

The operating table finally released him, dumping the Sergeant into a waiting room full of soldiers from his squad. Their eyes turned to big white saucers staring at his mutilated body as a shocked silence filled the room.

Sergeant Moore stood in the center, not saying anything and taking quick glances at his new cybernetic body.

"Um...wow..." Booker finally said. "They didn't say they were gonna do all...that."

The room was silent again.

"So...does it hurt?" Private Charles said.

"At first, yeah." Moore said as looked at the holes in his back.

Everyone in the room was looking over the Cyborg's handiwork. Even the Moore couldn't help but examine it, especially the places where the new limbs connected to the old. He was now slightly taller then anyone else in the squad. His arthritis was gone too. He hated to admit it, but Moore actually felt augmented. His entire body felt better then it was before, more powerful and sturdy. He didn't even mind that everyone was staring at him. He was glad, he wanted people to see his new form.

"Actually, I have to admit, I feel pretty good. Anyone else feel like running a few laps?" Moore said.

"Sure but put on some pants first." Booker said.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Album Covers of Doom

It might be hard to believe but more often then not I'm wallowing in a pit of depression. I'm overcome with ennui and self-doubt with startling frequency. It's been happening much more often recently, I just sit around thinking "What's the point?", "Why am I even here?". At times like these I'm all but inconsolable, there's only one thing that can pull me up from the depths of my own depression.

Album covers are not it.

Manners by Passion Pit


Manners hearkens back to Jack Pollock's "prozac" period.

Lionel Richie by Lionel Richie


Lionel's producer wanted to show the world the "real" Lionel Richie with his first album. To make sure the picture was authentic, the camera-crew hastily threw an orange background behind him as he was strolling down the street and took the photo right there. This ground-breaking technique later came to be known as the "surpise photo-shoot".

Ridgo the 4th


"You storm my castle, you kill my knights and now you claim my daughter as your bride!? Who are you traveler!?"

The warrior simply stood in the hall of the King, with the princess upon his shoulders.

"I am Ridgo the 4th," He said. "I claim your land in the name of smooth jazz."

Entertainment by Fischerspoon


Fischerspoon has defeated Ziggy Stardust in mortal combat and now he's come to conquer the Earth. Resistance is futile, with his hypno-helmet no one can escape his weaponized "elektro-muzik".

"Can I Borrow A Feelin'?"


In this case "Feelin'" is a codeword for "a couple dollars".

And no, you can't.

Love Beach by Emerson Lake and Palmer


It was almost the end of the 70's and ELP had come to embody everything people hated about Prog Rock. They were called over-blown and pretensions by critics and fans the world over. Unfortunately for them, and for all of us, they were contractually obligated to make one last album.

And thus, ELP released their final weapon of revenge against the world, codenamed "Love Beach".

Amazing Grace by The Celebration Road Show


Call me cynical, but I don't see much to celebrate about.

Burn This Town by Battleaxe


Billy's previous magnus opus depicting Mrs. William being disemboweled by biker-sharks received little critical acclaim (and got him detention for his efforts). It was finally his time to shine when Battleaxe approached him to design the cover for their most recent album.

Eulenspygel 2


Eulenspygel put an end to the "chicken or the egg" argument the only way they knew how: with extreme prejudice.

HEINO!


Heino beckons you to join him at Menudo's next photo-shoot at Sears.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Gallery of Anguish

Before today's post I would just like to clarify that the maps are indeed for Half-Life 2. Garry's Mod is fine and dandy but it breaks singleplayer, it just plain breaks it. Most of my downloads come from poor confused souls on Garry's Mod that have no idea how to play my maps, it's a sad truth I must live with.

In the meantime, I have pictures from the continuing ennui that is The Construction of Hypnophobia.



Here we see a...

...No I just can't do this right now.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Terror

I just want you all to know how much this blog means to me. It's been a constant companion over these few years and I've come to cherish it. I never realize this more then when I join some other bizarre websites that stray away from the sterile safety I've become accustomed to here.

I won't say what site I've joined as I've been informed several times that I'm forbidden from speaking about it. Even so, I expect to disregard the antiquated etiquette of this awful place, I might even delete my account because honestly, I'm just not feeling it.

Assuming I do stick around I expect to be the local Rodney Dangerfield where I just barge in and do whatever I want with no regard for the consequences. Stay tuned!

NEWS FLASH:

I left because I hated it! LOL!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Armory of the Daleks

One of a video game's biggest selling points for me are it's weapons. If a game has boring, bland weapons then the rest of the game is also bland for me. However, if a game's weapons are fun to use, bizarre or as you'll soon see, shoot lightning I will play that game, even if it's only to use it's weapons because I think they're so cool.

I remember, back when I first really started to play games, I would load multiplayer without any people to play against and I would just run around the level, collecting weapons and watching them shoot at nothing in particular. For me, a game's weapons aren't a means to an end, they are a goal in themselves. I want the weapons not to kill, at least not exclusively, I want them because they're cool.

I have the same attitude towards money. I want cash not to buy things, but because dollah billz are a luxury in themselves. So, let's take a look at some of my favorite weapons I've encountered over the years.

The Soul Cube from Doom 3


As I look back, most of them games I played were bound by three common themes: fighting Nazis, fighting the occult and shooting lighting. In the case of Doom 3 it was fighting demons on Mars with what appears to be a tiny cube-shaped alien. Mother probably never realized that they were demons on the screen because, honestly speaking, they looked like aliens and the fact that they came from a fiery dimension which may or may not have been a place of eternal punishment was largely incidental to the game. Seriously, they could have just called them aliens and it wouldn't change anything.

I know that plenty of people don't like Doom 3 because of the boring levels and repetitive gameplay. I guess I agree with them, but that doesn't make me think the enemies looked any less cool, all the cybernetics helped form my early interest in biomechanics. But it's the weapons that it stands out for, especially the sounds. For some reason the sounds the guns made really stand out to me. They were all really quiet, even the shotgun was oddly quiet. It made all the guns sound underpowered and cheap. This wasn't a bad thing, just unusual.

While the guns (and the chainsaw) were great, I love the Soul Cube in particular. According to the game, the original inhabitants of Mars collected the souls of all their warriors into the cube as a weapon to fight the demons (aliens?). The player finds the cube and it even talks to them sometimes. I like that, I like the idea of having a little buddy as a weapon. Sometimes when they player is holding it it'll flip around and extend it's little blades to entertain itself. I love that.

The Tesla Gun from Return to Castle Wolfenstein


I never played the first Wolfenstein games, just like I never played the first couple of Doom's so I have little to say about those. Either way, I think this game is largely responsible for my early interest in Nikola Tesla. I'm pretty sure that this gun alone lead me to believe that he spent his whole life fighting Nazi ghosts with lightning guns. I'm sorry to say Mother, but this is yet another game consisting mostly of fighting zombies and Nazi-cyborgs (again, biomechanics, fun stuff!). I just felt so powerful with the Tesla Gun, I think I used it in exclusion of all the other guns. I just love shooting lighting at things.

Also, I have not played the most recent Wolfenstein game, but if I do it's going to be for the Tesla gun and nothing else.

The Painkiller from...Painkiller


I'm sure by now my Mother is silently fuming at the choices of content on here so far, probably thinking I've been keeping a secret Satanic double-life. If it helps, the final boss in Painkiller is Satan.

Let that sink in for a moment, the player kills the Devil.

Anywho, Painkiller had ridiculous weapons. There was a gatling gun that shot grenades, a gun that shot what I assume were telephone polls and another which shot ninja stars and, you guessed it, lightning. The titular painkiller could only be described as a weed-whacker on a stick that also fired laser beams. I was infatuated with it and actually drew a lot of plans for building one in real life, sans-death ray of course.

Again I'd like to point out that the player kills the Devil, please don't be mad at me Mom.

The Piranha from Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge



Crimsons Skies is solely responsible for my infatuation with zeppelins...and now that I think about it, planes that shot lightning. In the game, it's stated that the villain, a certain Doctor Von Essen (who, let's face it, was obviously a Nazi) had stolen the secret plans of none other than Nikola Tesla and used it to make zeppelins and airplanes that shot lightning.

The Piranha was probably the fastest plane in the game, and it's Tesla cannon had the ability to lock up the controls of enemy planes, making them crash into walls or buildings. While I never played multiplayer, I'm told that this is the single most hated plane for it's overpowered Tesla cannon. Overpowered? More like die ubergwehr! Lastly, near the end of the game the player has to fly through a huge cavern, since there's lots of tight spots the player has to fly through it's a good idea to use a nice slow plane with lots of armor.

But of course I didn't do that. I used the fastest least armored plane in the game because it SHOOTS LIGHTNING!

The Scorpions from Wanted!


One of the first games I played that didn't involve Nazis or supernatural monsters, Wanted! wasn't even a game technically. It was in fact a mod for Half-Life where instead of bespectacled scientists the player is a cowboy. It was tons of fun for me since it had working bots, meaning I could play multiplayer without having to deal with scary online people.

Wanted! had a couple capture-the-flag type maps, only instead of a flag each team had to capture the enemy's chicken from their chicken coop. I had a few giggles seeing my character holding the chicken by the neck running away as bandits shot at me. All great fun made even better because in a couple maps the player could pick up a little terracotta pot that gave them scorpions to throw at people. Just imagine that, a stereotypical cowboy throwing scorpions in people's faces so he can steal their chicken. Why didn't that happen on Bonanza!?

The Lightning Miracle from Black and White 2


The logical conclusion to Tesla guns. The Lightning Miracle was a Tesla gun ordained by THE GODS THEMSELVES! I can't even count how many times I've exterminated entire ARMIES of puny mortals with just one Lightning Miracle. I got so good with it as one point that I was able to throw them at enemy cities so that it would bounce off mountains and land right on top of their temple and electrocute each and every last one of their citizens. Sometimes I would cast a Water Miracle beforehand so not only is the ground the enemy troops standing on too muddy to wade through, but the Lightning Miracle does MEGADAMAGE due to extra conductivity.

FOR GREAT JUSTICE.

The VSS from Desert Combat


Desert Combat was a mod for Battlefield 1942 and admittedly, was often times better then the game it was based on. It was so good in fact that EA hired the developers to make Battlefield 2. So if you ever find yourself asking why all the games now are about the War on Terror you know who to blame.

There was a secret weapon on one map that was easy for the Terrorist team to get but very difficult for the 'Mericans. Since I always played as the GIs I didn't notice the crate of guns hidden in the enemy base. Eventually I got good enough that I was able to sneak in and steal one. At first glance it was just a weird looking sniper rifle/machine gun thing. My adolescent brain wasn't impressed with it's woefully small magazine capacity...at least not until I actually killed someone with it. Suddenly I was a silent assassin, ending people's lives with a totally silent, automatic sniper I had captured from behind enemy lines. I was like an American James Bond, secure in my own sense of invulnerability with die ubergwehr.

I was delighted to find out that the VSS was in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Sadly I never found it, but I did find it's less evil, NATO twin in the form of the Z-M LR 300. A respectable rifle in itself.

The Spore Launcher from Opposing Force


Opposing Force was an expansion pack for Half-Life and one of the games I played simply to find the weapons. In addition to all the weapons from Half-Life it added a bunch of others, including a huge energy gun that shot portals and in singleplayer sent the player to Xen if it had enough ammo. This in itself is enough to make it one of my favorites, but it's out-shined by that nasty slug up there. That is the Spore Launcher which is actually a baby alien that fires globs of exploding green gunk. The player reloads by feeding it more green globs, making the launcher make the most adorable om nom nom face I've seen in a game. Like the Soul Cube, the Spore Launcher isn't just a weapon, it's a friend I carry into battle.

It got awkward though once I realized that the Spore Launcher was the infantile form of one of the tougher enemies in the game. To make sure I never forced the Launcher into accidentally killing it's parents I never used it when fighting that type of enemy.

Now that I think about it, Half-Life had no less than three guns that were also living alien beings. One of which shot bees. Another was a giant roach that attaches itself to the players arm and shoots, you guessed it, LIGHTNING.

The DeLisle Carbine from Medal of Honor: Allied Assault: Spearhead


I recently bought a combo-pack of all the old Medal of Honor games (at discount!) and played through them in just three days. It was a wonderful nostalgia-trip for me and the games are still solid, even in our world of fancy ragdoll physics and inexplicably brown color pallets.

Like the VSS, the Delisle Carbine is a very subtle weapon. It's almost silent and can kill those dirty Nazis in a single shot. The level the player got it in was perfectly suited for it and I once again felt like a super spy. Fun was had by all, except those filthy demon-summoning Nazis.



If I may sidetrack for a moment, another weapon from Medal of Honor that stands out is the Anti-Aircraft gun that shows up from time to time. It makes the most frightening sound when it fires. It takes a while to heat up before it can shoot and the sound it makes when doing this is like some horrible mechanical dragon coming to life before engulfing the battlefield in fire. I actually let it heat up a couple times just to hear the sound, I tried to use it as much as possible in multiplayer. I was killed for it but no one could deny that was the best sound ever. I'm pretty sure they don't do that in real life.

The Gravity Gun from Half-Life 2


Ah yes, the gravity gun. You can call it the Zero-Point Energy Field Manipulator if you really want to. To me, this is the perfect weapon. It is at once a symbol of Human scientific achievement and our unbridled fury in combat. It's not just a weapon but a tool, it can create or destroy in equal capacity. It has beautifully hobbled-together appearance that doesn't betray it's high-tech nature. I remember when Half-Life 2 first came out I couldn't stop myself from thinking of all the ways having a gravity-gun in real life would solve all my problems.

Of course, the understated perfection of this tractor beam makes Doom 3's cheap ripoff all the more glaringly awful. See, everyone was hopping on the gravity gun band-wagon back then, and Id made an expansion pack for Doom that involved some ad-hoc plasma gun thing that could grab the fireballs enemy demons (aliens?) threw at you. It was ridiculous because it could only hold something for a short amount of time and it was so obviously a rip-off it made Backstroke of the West look like fine cinema.

Shame on you Doom 3. You went from cyber-demons and sentient cubes to stealing Half-Life's thunder (lightning?).

Notable weapons that I did not include:

The Portal Gun-mostly because it too is stealing the Gravity Gun's thunder.

The BFG-9000-It's too big for me to take seriously.

The FG-42-Clearly outshined by the Tesla Gun, you're still money though!

Anything from Halo-Because those games suck and their weapons suck.