Monday, April 25, 2016

Struggler Indeed

Berserk is … interesting. Simply put, it is a dark fantasy consisting of a man’s struggle against evil. As a manga, the story of Berserk is particularly shocking, consisting of some of the most horrific and grim storytelling to ever grace a medium. It is perhaps this reason that I find it intriguing, as it’s particularly serious but fantastical aesthetic is one that I find appealing for a variety of reasons. Not to mention, the main protagonist and the name of the manga are absolutely badass!

I originally experienced Berserk in the form of the anime series, many, many years ago, I think in my first year of university. The original anime series seemed more like a low production adaptation of the manga, but a relatively accurate one as I discovered later. The Berserk manga is one of the longest running manga in the history of the medium, starting in 1989 and still running to this day. It is one of the few manga I read and stay up to date on. So much more has happened since the original story arc, depicted in the anime. Even now, I still find the ongoing story fresh, brutal and exciting.


It is not surprising that the Berserk manga turned anime received a movie series adaptation, that of which was done quite well. Injecting an additional degree of humanity into the story, the Golden Age Arc (2012-2013) tells the initial phase of the Berserk exceptionally well, and in a much more digestable format than the manga or anime. It is one of the few anime movie adaptations I recommend to people not fans of the medium as although it is probably difficult to understand, it is paced well enough to be an entertaining watch nonetheless. In fact, a friend of mine watched only the final movie and said he thoroughly enjoyed it, despite having no clue what was going on.

So, not having internet for over a month (long story) I have managed to find the time to edit another anime trailer AMV for another of my favourite anime movie series. This one has been in the conceptual phase for a long time, brewing in the back of my mind ever since I discovered a suitable musical track for it. Taking over 6 hours to edit, it was markedly easier to compile than the Evangelion trailer AMV I did last year.


It is strange how much of my inspiration for video editing comes from finding the right sound for things. I don’t even begin thinking about editing a video until the right tune comes along. Hopefully, when I find the time and the right jive, I will edit some of my more unusual ideas together. We shall see.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Prepare for the End - Paragon 1000

I play a lot of Diablo III. Well, at least comparatively to the people I know. It is a reliable outlet for relaxation and on-demand game play that I use to escape some of the nonsense in the world. Especially in the last year or so.

Anyways, such an unconscious commitment puts me in a position where I am able to compete against some of the best Diablo III players around the world. I have pretty decent gear. Some would say best in slot. My augmentations (gear stat enchants) are reasonably high across the board, having put countless hours into slowly leveling gems. I don't play in groups often, nor do I have a high GR pushing team to get accelerated XP and substantially higher level gems (<=20 levels higher).


Despite this, for the last 3 seasons in a row I have consistently placed in the top 50 of the Barbarian leader board at some point, and usually remain in the top 300 before the season ends. Mostly, this is unintentional as I do not fish for magical, planets aligned greater rifts nor do I push high level content overly frequently. In the few occasions that I do, I usually place somewhere that is respectable. Otherwise it generally doesn't concern me.

However, finally reaching Paragon level 1000 warrants at least some kind of attempt. I have been playing as a LeapQuake Barb for most of the season, a build that performs well across the board and requires some interesting stat balancing to achieve a comfortable spell rotation. Doing so will result in a lot of your damage mitigation achieved by simply being airborne, avoiding horrors with well placed/timed leaps. The following is a recording of the third, on-time attempt.


Thankfully the GRift was nice enough to grant me a well placed power pylon and give me Hamelin as the final boss. This particular boss is a Barb's best friend, allowing one to maintain maximum rampage stacks for most of the fight, providing a considerable damage and tankiness boost.

It is interesting to note that, at the time of writing this, of the other 49 Barbarians in the top 50, 46 of them are Raekor Barbs - a Furious Charge glass cannon fishing build that makes me ill. The 4 of us who are LeapQuake Barbs are ranked with Paragon levels as follows: 16th (2063), 27th (1570), 46th (1065) and 49th (1001). By comparison, the number 1 position is held by a Raekor's Barb with Paragon level 3101! By comparison, it seems I play hardly any Diablo III at all.

I have also been playing Season 5 content on a monk with two good mates who have progressed very nicely for themselves. I will likely continue my Diablo III playtime with them.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Work hard. Fight hard.

Damn, it's been awhile. Turns out working full-time and part time at two different places results in you having barely any free time. Who would have thought? This is especially true when you decide to supervise student projects at the same time. That is a story for another day though.


Anyways, while I havn't been doing as much gaming as I used to, I have been keeping pretty busy with video editing. While the discourse of those videos have not been about games, they are interesting projects in their own right. I will likely make a post about them in the new year, when I start doing more work related video editing too. Soon(tm).

So. Having a weekend to myself, randomly hosting a fight night, having a few people attend, playing some games and having some game footage to edit is a godsend these days, and something that I thoroughly enjoyed. The footage was mostly decent with some humorous  elements patched in. Hosting a double-elimination tournament was also entertaining for me. I will need to figure out streamlining the recording process however, as transferring footage between rounds was not practical. However, the end result is as follows (recommended 720p fullscreen):


I am pretty happy with it, considering I cannot really expect much more these days. I look forward to hosting more Fight Nights, with more recent and future games like Street Fighter V, Killer Instinct, Mortal Kombat X and Super Smash Bros taking center stage. Oh yes, Fight Night will go on. For as long as it has to.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

HOTA!!!

Hammer of the Ancients

Cost: 20 fury

"Call forth a massive hammer to smash enemies directly in front of you for 535% weapon damage. Hammer of the Ancients has a 1% increased Critical Hit Chance for every 5 Fury that you have".

There is something so unnaturally exhilarating about smashing something overhead repeatedly, with all your fury, until it ceases to exist. In Diablo 3, HotA, for the longest time, was the Barbarian's most reliable king-hit ability. With certain rune and elemental configurations, it packed an absolute whallop, as well as having an interesting crit chance mechanic for you to control, maintain and gear around. It was supremely satisfying to play with.

While it didn't exactly get nerfed, it became a significantly less useful ability in the Reaper of Souls expansion and follow up patches. Simply put, it hit like a wet noodle and was not useful for anything besides leveling. This was unfortunate for many Barbs, including myself, and resulted in many of us using more reliable but less gratifying Whirlwind builds to continue our journey of slaughtering hell's endless armies.

Join me now then as we see HotA return to form and enter the fray once more, bigger, better and more beasty than ever before in content patch 2.3. Open and rotate your eyes at the numbers that appear when gore splatters and monsters explode. Rip and fucking tear, motherfucker!

720p/1080p recommended viewing.



Update: GR65 Clear - 50th in World!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Scrambling

So I have kind of started work on my Unity 3D game Retaliator again, now that I have some proper time these days. I won't give too much away, but one of the more interesting components of the game will be simple, short, skippable cinematics throughout the intended campaign missions. This has required me to sit down and think about not only the composition and design of certain cinematics, but how to make a simple sequencer to handle said events.


The end result of a couple of days work is something I am very happy with. Incredibly straightforward and elegant, and certainly not costing me ridiculous amounts of money on Unity's Asset Store. Basic functionality includes camera panning, focusing, tracking and orbiting, all the while communicating to other game objects. However, the latter could hardly be considered a feature once you know how it's done.


Nevertheless, the example test scene I have created is inspired heavily by Battlestar Galactica, and will seem familiar to any fan of the series. The scene is actually very similar to the final scene in Blood and Chrome, albeit lacking close-ups of the pilot's face. It is likely that I will have a similar scene or two in my final game.

Recommend watching in 720p+.



Friday, May 8, 2015

Burnt

My WoW subscription ends soon. Overall it's probably a good thing, as it will be one less distraction to worry about. Before it ends though, I decided to make one more PvP video on my warrior. Coming back after a brief hiatus, the most noticeable thing is just how geared everyone is now. Winning anything greater than a 1v1 seems much harder than before, especially with the insane numbers of hunters. It seems to be a more prevalent occurrence on Alliance than Horde. I guess those Human class + racial combos are too hard to pass on...

seriously?
It makes for a particularly interesting BG combat experience though. Currently, most melee are fodder for a skilled hunter. So, with the increased number of them, you end up facing a LOT of hunters that enjoy picking off melee. This is incredibly frustrating and rage inducing, especially against more than one. Eventually you do end up trumping a few though, which is glorious. Observe (1080p fullscreen recommended).



I went a little crazy with the 'rage' effects in that video. There is sometimes such a huge gulf between what you observe and what you experience as a player. During several of the video clips, primarily against hunters, I was literally seething. Finding a way to bring back the blinding, burning, chaotic mindset of raging is somewhat difficult to edit back in. I hope I was successful to some degree.


So, with that, I depart from WoW once more. It was a fun few months, but one that had clearly run its course for me. Until next time. Maybe.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Fighting games are fun

Fighting games are fun. Lately I have been watching a dood's stream and youtube channel to do with fighting games. At the time, he was mainly playing Killer Instinct (2013). This is interesting as Killer Instinct is both a game I do not own and will never own, unless they release it on PC (i.e. its an XBone exclusive). Why I would watch someone play a game I have never played and possibly never will strikes me as a little unusual. The simple truth is that watching people play fighting games can be incredibly entertaining, especially if they are themselves an interesting person.



Fighting games are fun. However, why fighting games are not streamed or publicized more often is a bit of a mystery.  Perhaps it can be better understood by the reaction of the general gaming community. Every now and then you will see a well constructed post about fighting games. They usually don't pull much traffic and get very little attention. Sometimes, even negative attention. The fighting game genre, despite its prominence and significance in the history of video games, is not as popular a genre as you would expect. This is, in my opinion, incredibly unfortunate as fighting games are some of the best examples of ingenious game design and mechanics in games, even today. To some extent, lack of appreciation for the genre stems from general ignorance and inexperience. "Button mashers" could not be a more derogatory and inaccurate description of both the genre and the people who play them.

So, if fighting games are fun ... why not play them yourself? At a recent fight night, some friends and I did exactly that, ripping and tearing flesh in Mortal Kombat X, slicing and skewering in Soul Calibur V and flinging plasma repeatedly in Ultra Street Fighter IV. The latter of these games was somewhat more interesting as it did not simply devolve into combatants rolling their face in hopeful desperation. This is primarily because Street Fighter is not a game you can really 'spam' well in as it is usually more effective and enjoyable to learn to play properly. Competently executing just a few simple moves is enough to make you competitive, and playing against someone of equivalent knowledge is perhaps the most fun of all. Even without having played for months and having plenty of cobwebs, two of us managed to provide a slightly more competitive match-up which was (imo) the highlight of the evening. This was complete of course with plenty of wake-up shoryus, wake-up ultras, botched inputs and general missed opportunities. Also, it's my first 60 FPS video. Woot!



Comparatively, we are not very good players. However, it is interesting to observe later how even relative noobs can employ a primitive footsies game in Street Fighter. Once you get past any reaction and mechanical input issues, fights seem to have a more dynamic, tactical flow to them. It is not hard to see why fighting games are taken very seriously by its somewhat niche community. Hype is a real thing. I am just happy to be able to experience it every now and then.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Window to your soul

Apparently my previous post and video spawned some minor interest from folks wanting to know about any other videos I make. Surprisingly, it turns out that I have actually made quite a large number of videos in the past few years. Even more surprisingly, not all of them are to do with video games. This short post reveals some of the other videos I have worked on regarding other jobs and interests I have.

So some people may know that I tutor for several units at QUT. The one unit that has allowed me the most educational and creative freedom would be Advanced Game Design where I teach students how to use Unity 3D. A colleague and I worked on a previous video series for this unit which, while certainly educational, was a little boring and drawn-out. The new format I am working on is much more straightforward and to the point. The following is the first video of a potential series of short Unity 3D tutorials relating directly to Advanced Game Design at QUT.



I was also contracted to create random videos for QUT's newish Digital Signage program. This program essentially consists of a various large screen displays around the campus showing news and information about uni courses. The original format was a little boring, so I was hired to jazz up the video feed somewhat. At the time, it was rather difficult as I would only be given a few instructions and some text with which I had to turn into several minutes of animated video. Unfortunately I am currently no longer doing Digital Signage work, which sucks because it was both good work experience and decent pocket money.



The last video in this post is somewhat more personal. An old friend of mine called it a "self-less act" but it was honestly quite a fun project to undertake. My high-school reunion was several months ago. I unfortunately could not attend said celebration due to having an important presentation at the time. However, as I had worked on the senior video/dvd, I had access to all the old footage from ten years ago. Getting 10 year old footage off of 15 year old technology was a painful task, but the end result was enough content to make a video to contribute to the reunion in some way. The video itself was an interesting edit, finding the right juxtaposition between happiness and sadness. Making it made me realise that I do miss high-school to some extent. It was a simpler time with good friends that forged the mould of traits I look for in people today. When did I get so old...



Honestly, I wouldn't mind doing video editing for a living if I could. Realistically though, the chances of that happening are even smaller than working in the games industry. I guess time will tell.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

God's in his heaven, all's right with the world

I am not a religious person, by any means. While I think our Universe could very well have been instanced by a supreme being or intelligence, I am not naive or arrogant enough to believe that the human race has any understanding of said supposed deity. Especially not in the form of a book or societal system composed of stories and practices so overwhelmingly irrelevant in contrast to the nature of the Universe. The concept of 'God' is a quixotic ideal that humanity may never fully understand or realise, despite so many attempts.

It is uncanny, then, how significant Neon Genesis: Evangelion has been in my life. The series takes a slight nod towards the Catholic faith, using religious elements as set-pieces in a much grander scheme. While this is mainly focused just on the Genesis story and the Crucifixion, the borrowed elements allow for a much more ... believable story to take place. The irony in this is only further juxtaposed with the (original) ending to the series where the Human Instrumentality Project comes to fruition. Translation: the forced transcendence of humanity without the (direct) help of God.


That is probably a bit much to take in, so let's drop the tone a few notches. Evangelion is undoubtedly my favourite anime of all time, but not for the mentioned reasons. It is probably the first anime I watched religiously (ha!), evaluating its evolving maturity while undergoing my own. It has a great story and some rather unique character relationships. It is warm, funny, action-packed, violent, tragic and sometimes heartbreaking. The End is potentially the most fucked up and depressing but insanely logical conclusions to a franchise, ever. I can honestly say that Evangelion has taught me a thing or two about living and affected me on a personal level. For the better, of course.

So, as you would expect, I randomly made a video about it. Essentially it is a trailer for the franchise, paying tribute to its story and overall brilliant insanity. It was surprisingly difficult to fit so many hours of plot into just a few minutes. It is probably one of the tightest cuts I have ever produced. This process has given me an appreciation for people who edit (good) trailers as well as the companies who make quality anime. How like Evangelion to still be teaching me things even today.

Recommend watching at fullscreen, 1080p.