While waiting for my pattern to arrive in the mail, I decided I'd go take another look at cameras, this time using different words. One site that kept coming up had a range of mocap cameras, and all showed their prices. So I decided to inquire about their hardware.
He recommended that I used their second most expensive camera over their cheapest, as well as 8 of them for a grand total of $8,570. Sounds like I'm being upsold... Also not sure how 8 x $600 camera = $8.5k.....
It's not easy finding cheap cameras. All the companies want you to buy their entire bundle: Software, 8-20 cameras, a suit, head cam, mounts, and also pay for them to come into your studio and do the installation. Essentially they want you to hand over your wallet so they can turn it upside down and shake it.
People have a really, REALLY skewed sense of the word "affordable". I saw one site claim it was affordable for mocap, found out they wanted $3200 per camera, and only allowed you to buy as few as 6. Almost $20,000 is not affordable!
It's starting to seem like I'm going to have to build my own cameras in addition to the suit, just to circumvent the money grubbing "No, you have to buy all of our stuff! 100 cameras, 12 suits, 40 software licenses to all 6 of our software products, and you need a minimum of 5 studios to pay us for installation at." companies. Why can't I just buy a single camera? What if one breaks? Do I have to buy 8 cameras, mounts, another suit, and installation just to replace the one broken one? It's beyond ludicrous that they do it this way.
Whatever. Once my suit is ready, I'm going to look into alternate camera options, including building my own possibly using Arduino or something. I'll also put instructions for whatever I end up going with in the plans.
Well damn... apparently you guys like this little crusade of mine...
Only time I did better than this was on my Arc Continuum review...
That really motivates me to do this project.
The following is actually slightly old... as it was written the night of, but went unfinished until today.
So, plans changed. I went to Ross Dress For Less expecting to find exactly what I was looking for. They must have changed at some point sine I was last there with my mom years and years ago, because they didn't have a single, solitary, long-sleeved shirt in the entire store. Plenty of hispanic people, but not a single pair of sweat pants or sweatshirts, no leotards, nothing even resembling what I needed.
No big deal, right? Just go to a different clothing store! I did. There was another store right by them. 99.5% womens' clothing, the rest was mens' tees. I can wear womens' clothing since I'm a twink, but it was all “vogue”, "high fashion" crap. Ultra specialized, expensive clothing for women, bright patterns and overpriced clothes for men. Even if I could have justified buying something white or another color and dying it black, I couldn't justify $30-60 price tags.
I walked out of there pissed to no end. I walked 19.8 miles in pouring down rain (Buses don't run on weekends, here. Brilliant, huh?), without an umbrella, in icy cold wind, wearing shorts, a t-shirt, and a hoodie, and I was about to walk 19.8 miles home empty-handed.
Ok, in my defense, it was a reasonable day when I left. Overcast, light drizzle, mildly cool out, I thought I would be fine. Even as I was walking, the rain itself wasn't even sure if it was going to rain. It kept cutting out. Just in and out with the pin-sized rain drops for an hour. A quarter of the way there, the rain kicked up with a vengeance. (Probably what I get for mocking it, frankly.)
And get this... I'm not even joking, there was an umbrella abandoned on the side of the railroad, within 5 feet of me, an hour before the rain really hit. I saw it, and said “Hey, that would be pretty handy! I could totally grab that!” And do you know what intelligent thing I did? “Nah, it's not raining that bad. It would just be a waste to bring it.”
I forgot my motto for absolutely everything ever.... It's better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it. The one time I forget my motto, I end up sorely regretting it.
So I walk out of the second store. It's getting late, I'm getting sinister looks from ugly, rainbow-haired, ham beasts due to my hoodie saying Meninism on the front, stores are closing and I had a whole 20 miles to go, to get back home. The clouds were storm clouds as far as the eye could see, so it was getting dark extra early.
And that's when it caught my eye. Across the parking lot, cast in immaculate light where the clouds had parted: Joann's.
Ok, I'm exaggerating... it was still raining, and the sky was completely coated in clouds, but I still noticed the store, and was stuck by brilliance. I immediately went over there. They were way past closing (it was 6:30PM, they close at 6PM). Apparently they're pretty lax on their time, or their door sign's time is way out of date, because they allowed me to walk right in. I was there for almost an hour and no one complained.
For those of you who don't know, Joann's is a fabric store. One I've been to a few times, actually. And as luck would have it, among my many, many talents, I also happen to know how to work a sewing machine. And as luck would also have it, I also already have a sewing machine and an entire box of sewing supplies I got from a dead lady. (She was a senior at the retirement home my mom worked at, she kicked the bucket rather abruptly, and her family didn't want the huge kit she had, so mom took it and gave it to me. Sterling silver thimble. Score!)
Also, just FYI, sewing is not sissy or lame... Being able to sew is not only artistic, but it's one of the most practical skills a person can have. Need a costume? Make one. Favorite outfit splits a seam? Fix it. Lose a button? Sew on a new one. Zipper breaks? Replace it. Clothes don't fit right? Hem them. Hole in the knee of your jeans? A denim needle and strong machine can turn those into shorts easy. Embarrassing hole the crotch of your pants? Stitch it up. Wish an outfit had pockets? Add them. Hole in your pocket? Close it. Need a special bag? Design and make it. Sewing is one of the most overpowered skills there are.
(Warning: If this has inspired you to learn to sew, keep your fingers away from the needle, or wear thimbles on your fingers. I've seen someone stitch themselves before. It wasn't pretty. Went all the way to the bone. She had to go to the hospital to make sure it wasn't stuck in the bone of her finger. It wasn't, thankfully, but it was pretty gruesome looking.)
Anyway, back on track. So not only did I have my own sewing supplies I got from a house that got abandoned full of stuff (it was our house, people were squatting in it illegally, when we told them they had a week to get out, they burned rubber and left a lot of stuff. No, they weren't poor or homeless.) I also had the supplies I got from the old lady, and my own sewing machine.
After speaking with an employee, I was directed to the best fabric for my plans, and I bought a few yards. The whole time, I was the only male in the entire store...
Sadly, I still left mildly disappointed. They were all sold out of patterns I needed. A pattern, different from a print, is kind of like plans, or schematics, for clothing. You don't need a pattern to make something, but it can be very helpful to have them, because clothing is REALLY easy to royally screw up on. (Even with a pattern, a pair of sweatpants I made 11 years ago turned out too small for me because I messed up.)
Oh yeah, and it had started raining even harder while I was in the store, it had gotten much colder, and the wind had picked up. By the time I had gotten to the other end of the parking lot, I was already freezing. There was no way in blue-blazing hell I was going to walk 4 hours back home in monsoon weather. I had to make an emergency stop at the nearby Fred Meyer and pick up a weather resistant jacket, which I wore over my hoodie.
You might be thinking “Bas, you idiot! You were wearing shorts! A jacket isn't going to help! Why didn't you get weather resistant sweat pants to go with it?”
Because I had already thought I was spending $44.95 for a $90 jacket, and wasn't about to spend another $60 on pants. Turns out the mark-down price was totally wrong, it was a double sale, so I only spent $28 on the jacket when I got to the register. I didn't feel like going back for pants, though. They had $140 jackets with heat coils in them. Wish I had had the kind of money to afford those...
So you might be wondering how I got home in pouring down rain and icy wind wearing shorts. Didn't bother me that much, frankly. The jacket was all I needed for the entire trip.
Yes, I did get sick. It's currently 76 degrees in my apartment and my teeth are chattering like it's 30 degrees in here.
Was it worth it? Nope. Well, ok, somewhat. I can barely walk, by the time I got home, I couldn't stand without severe pain. I had to drag my tall chair into the kitchen in order to cook my dinner on the stove because it was so painful to stand, it nearly made me break out into tears from distress to be on my feet for even 20 seconds. After resting for a few hours, I can stand up, but humorously, I walk like a disfigured freak because I walk with a double limp now. A 39+ mile trip has left my leg muscles stiff and sore. I almost couldn't get back home because the pain was excruciating on the last two miles. I actually had to sit at a bus stop before the last block stretch because it hurt so bad it felt like my shin bones had split vertically. Even as I was only 10 feet from my door, I had to sit on the public bench for a good two minutes because it hurt so bad. I'm also sick, as mentioned above. I'm suffering severe chills even though I should be burning up after running my heater for so long and at such a high temp. And I'm going to end up going over my mocap suit budget goal of $30 (fabric's expensive). And the trip cost me all together $56 including the emergency jacket.
But on the plus side, it did get me to stop dragging my feet and buy the new jacket I wanted to get. 50% polyester just isn't good for freezing temperatures. It also showed me that my new shoes are so much better than my old ones. 12 miles in my old ones would have left my feet blistered. 40 miles in my new ones, and I don't have a single blister on the bottoms of my feet. And third and finally, if I make my own suit from scratch, rather than buy a base, I can customize it in any way I want. The suit is now completely under my control. All I need are patterns.
Before I get on with it, for those who are worried about me... I'm fine. My trip was on the 18th, at the time of writing this it's the 20th (well, the 1 AM on the 21st) By the time I went to bed that night, (well, technically it was the next day, because it was sunup) I had already stopped limping and regained the ability to stand without mind-encompassing pain. By morning, I was no longer suffering from chills, and it no longer hurt to walk. Today, my leg muscles are just a little sore and stiff, but I'm perfectly fine. How well do I feel? Well enough to walk 2 miles from the hardware store carrying a 2inch by 4inch by 12foot douglas fir board on my shoulder, twice, in two hours. I may be a 5' 6" computer nerd, twink, but I'm a tough 5' 6" computer nerd, twink.
I heal like a beast lately. I once burnt my finger pretty bad on my hot glue gun, and by the very next day it didn't hurt a bit. I couldn't even see the red mark anymore.
(Oh, and no, the boards have absolutely nothing to do with motion capture. It's part of a completely different and totally unrelated project.)
Anyway... as mentioned, I was in Joann's for an hour, scrounging through their pattern selection. I couldn't believe it... No normal clothing. It was all vogue, all fashion, all dresses, tuxedos, designer clothing, etc, and as per usual, it was 90% womens'. I was looking for either a one-piece outfit (not the anime...) or a two-piece that I could just make into one piece. If you've never sewn an outfit before, waistbands can be a massive pain in the ass, so I wanted to make my suit into a single item so that I didn't have to try to sew a pair of pants.
I grabbed catalogue book after catalogue book... Captain America costume pattern? Sold out. Deadpool costume pattern? Sold out. Batman costume pattern? Kids only. Superman costume pattern? Kids only. Ninja Turtles costume pattern? Sew-on decals only. Spiderman costume pattern? Iron-on logo and web decal only. Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy costume pattern? Obviously women only, but in stock. They were the only one-piece items they still had in stock.
You know.... that suddenly just hit me. I've been all over the place this year, trying to shop for project parts or electronics, and no matter where I go, anything I went there looking for is out. Walmart for bike chains? The entire bike accessories isle is barren. Fred Meyer for bike chains? Everything related to bike chains is sold out. Big 5 Sporting Goods store? They sell bikes, but no bike chains. Walmart for Rust-oleum? Nope. They don't sell anything Rust-oleum. Fred Meyer for Rust-oleum? Nope. Nothing Rust-oleum there either. Home Depot for Rust-oleum? Sold out. Walmart for sweatpants because shorts and jeans are no good for freezing weather? Out of stock except for 4XL and 6XL, and I'm a size medium... (also, their sweatpants displays were loaded up with sweatshirts....) Fred Meyer for sweatpants? $60-$120 for ultra performance weather proof sweats, sold out of literally everything else. And those are the only stores within 6 miles of me.
I hate living here.... I'm getting really sick of this place. I've lived here my whole life, and it wasn't always this bad. It's just that lately it's been falling apart. And it's not just one city. It's all over the valley. Hell, until the new mayor was elected, my city was dying a very slow and gradual death. (3 whole plazas, all three of them were more than half vacant, and in the 4 years I've lived here, shops kept leaving, and none were moving in. You know it's a bad sign when no one wants to rent out your stores.)
Back on topic. Like I said, I couldn't believe it. A store that would be the go-to place for costumes and cosplay didn't have any costume patterns in the style I was looking for. Or they were sold out when they did. They didn't even have a generic leotard pattern. I figured "well, if I got a mens' leotard with legs, I could just add sleeves to the design, and it would be fine." Nope.
I had to leave the store with only my fabric, and as I said in part one, it was cold, pouring down rain, and getting really late, and I had a 4 hour walk ahead of me after already taking a 4 hour walk to get there. I couldn't exactly look around for other fabric stores. They'd likely be closed, and it would have been a waste of time, anyway.
When I got home, I searched for pattern stores online. Huge mistake. Went to fabric.com, and it's even worse searching the website for something than it was searching the catalogues in the store.
So I went to Amazon instead, and decided on a Batman costume pattern. We're talking old school, Adam West Batman.
You know the one....
I'm not doing, I'm not doing it, I'm not doing it...
Resisted! Thank god! Thought I was going to lose that battle...
As soon as my pattern arrives, I'll begin putting together my project guide.
For those who don't have a sewing machine, or a friend/family with a sewing machine, don't worry. I'll be going over alternate options for making a mocap suit.
And for anyone just tuning in: Like I said in my previous post, I'm going to be documenting everything in my design from suit to studio to software in a crusade to make dirt cheap mocapping available to all indies, and I'll be giving away my complete guide absolutely free, once it's done.
So let's take a look at the damage so far...
Suit Budget Goal: $30
My Spending: Fabric $23.37 (on sale), Anti-fray Seam Protector $4.99, Pattern $10.95 + $7.36 S&H. Total = $46.67
Yep... thanks to my area being really shit for buying specific items, I went almost $17 over my goal. But hey, $47 for something that would cost around $3000, give or take, if bought from suppliers, is a damn good deal all the same!
That's just how much it will end up costing me, specifically, though. If you want to follow my steps to the letter, but don't have a sewing machine, you'd have to buy one, and mine was $260 or so, if memory serves. It was 5 years ago... I don't remember how much it costed at the time. Although, hang on...
Mine is a Singer Brilliance, digital sewing machine, which can be picked up on Amazon ranging from $90 to $220. I also have an entire box full of thread of many different colors, needles of every variety, pins, buttons, snaps, a pair of ultra sharp scissors, a seam ripper, and a fairly heavy-duty hot glue gun, plus experience in sewing. (I took Fiber Arts in high school, because I didn't know what "fiber arts" meant. I showed up to find the room full of sewing machines, and decided I'd take the class anyway. Turned out to be a smart move.)
My guide will cover all the projected costs, no matter what you choose to do to make yours. It will also give tips on selecting a sewing machine for people interested in getting one. However, if you don't already know how to use one of the machines, you'll have to learn how, because I'm not going to teach you. Too much to cover, and way too many different kinds of machines to account for.
Warning: Don't just run out and buy any old sewing machine. There is a difference, and a very big one. For example: Older sewing machines are extremely complicated compared to newer designs, and are a nightmare to set up. Newer ones have a better bobbin system that saves a lot of the hassle of trying to get it ready to sew. They also come with more intuitive stitch selections, and often come with many, many more stitch types than the older models. My mom's machine was ancient and only had 14 stitch types, mine has 99. (Yes, stitch type matters, too.)
My machine is a Singer Brilliance, but you might want to get a Huqvarna Viking, which is far superior to mine (although insanely more expensive.) The Viking was the first machine I learned how to use. It was a Husqvarna Viking Lily 555. I had a Brother at some point (sewing machine, not sibling) but it wasn't a digital one and I didn't like it. It also had too few stitch kinds. I think I only had it for a year before buying my Singer and giving my Brother to my mom, because her old one was super warn out, and old as shit. (That sounded really weird... "I gave my Brother to my mom"...)
Anyway, I can't get started until I have my pattern, and it's supposed to take until Saturday to get here. But that's ok... It gives me plenty of time to think about how to do the markers. I want them to be removable so that the suit can be machine washable. I have cats, and cat hair gets everywhere, and on everything. Also mocapping is sweaty business.... you're doing a lot of physical activity in your suit, so in order to avoid having suits get nasty from body oils and sweat, I need to find a way of making these things washable, but also to do the washing part without wrecking the all-important markers. I've given it some thought already, (8 hours of walking gives you plenty of time to think) but I don't have anything solid just yet. I'm still working on how to accomplish that without making them stick way off the suit. And I'm still working out the marker size. Some suits have them really small, some suits have them relatively large, and some have a size in between.
Either way, it will all be in the plans.
I don't usually do two posts in a day, but since I was updating I figured I'd update something else.
In a post from a little while ago, I mentioned I was going to look into mocap on the super cheap for indie devs. Sadly, there isn't exactly a comprehensive how-to guide on doing this, yet, so I had to do a bunch of research. I have my plan... sort of.
The issue is, I'm just making this up as I go. No matter how hard I looked, I couldn't find anyone willing to reveal how they made their DIY mocap suits. Bastards!
But after messing around with my pet-urine finder (it's literally just a flashlight made of blacklight LEDs) I think I have my mocap suit design.
The downside, though, is that I couldn't find any way to use the mocap suit and a typical camera together. There is a system that requires no mocap suit and two Kinects, but I don't have one Kinect, let alone two. And I don't care how much cheaper the Kinect is... I'm not buying one.
According to my research, you need to have motion tracking cameras. At least 4 of them, but 6-14 is the recommended amount. These things aren't cheap, though. They're also tough to find...
Google: "Here are the top results on motion ACTIVATED cameras :D"
No, Google! God damn it, I said motion TRACKING!
Google: "You want cameras activated by motion, right?"
All of my fury...
I found companies that specialize in selling mocap equipment, but there's some kind of retarded growing trend where the company refuses to give you the price of their fucking equipment unless you sign up for an account and/or ask them to quote you.
I'm going to be a little looser with my language than normal (on here, anyway), but if you're the kind of person who does this, you can eat a bag of dicks, asshole. I don't want to jump though your god damn hoops. You either show me your prices and quote me for shipping, or I'll go look for someone who does and you won't get my money. FYI, just because I'd have to go through an extra dozen steps and then wait for your ass to get back to me just to find out how much your shit costs absolutely doesn't guarantee I'm buying from you, just in case you thought that I'd be all like "Well, I guess went through all that trouble, no sense in turning back now." Protip: Go fuck yourself. You'd be more likely to guarantee my purchase if it didn't take me fricking 2-8 business days waiting for your dumbass to email me back to in order to find out how much you want for your fucking product!
If my rant was anything to go by, I found it extremely hard to find the cheapest cameras. Shopping around doesn't work when cunts hide their prices behind email price quotes. Hell, I found one that actually expected me to phone in and get a quote. Too much effort. And the one I actually did email hasn't responded back in well over 3 weeks. This is the problem with requiring someone to put in a company name in order to receive a fucking product cost. If your vetting process requires a big-ass, reputable, Google-able company name to go into the request form, you fuck indies all over the world.
I believe I have everything I need to know to design a suit. I'll be going down to Ross Dress For Less, because I'm a cheap piece of shit, and I'll be looking to find a base for the suit. Once I have that, I'll be researching where the best places to put the markers are, and how many markers are necessary.
When the suit is complete, I'll compile a list of supplies and costs that I used to construct it, and instructions on how to position the markers on the suit.
I've been unsuccessful in finding cameras that, when purchased in bulk, rang up to under $5000. This is because only one site was willing to straight up just tell me their price. Others hid their prices from me. Google also failed to find me suitable substitutes for industry standard cameras. I will continue searching and report what I decide.
From talks I've read on forums, there's no way to rent a studio for under 10 grand. If, like me, you're looking for mocap anytime on the dirt-cheap, this is not going to be an option. If you're a middle-class prick with a couple grand to just blow whenever you feel like, or are a larger indie dev team and not some hopeless, near-destitute solo indie dev like me, the best options seemed to be universities that specialize in 3D animation, as they're usually equipped with such studios, and there's a chance they'll rent them out. However, you're probably looking at spending 12-30+ thousand dollars per session.
I've seen a few fairly good rigs done by indie teams. I'm talking about the studio rig, not the 3D model. Both teams bought an office and converted them into a studio, but I can't just waltz on down to the plaza and buy/rent an empty storefront, so I'm working on ways to set up my mocap in the middle of my apartment. That way there are no fees or other restrictions to go through just to have a studio to use. As per with the suit, I'll be going into full detail when I construct my studio with materials list and instructions.
I've neglected looking into software, as I already have 3DStudio Max, which fully supports mocap data. When it comes closer to being go time, I'll put more research effort into finding software that doesn't have to be rented, and costs under $1000.
My stated goal is to get mocap technology into the hands of indie devs for as absolutely cheap as possible. I will not be hoarding my plans and methods like everyone else. My goal is to create a DIY mocap set up tutorial and give my plans away for free, because I'm too nice to sell the plans/design.
I will be constructing a step by-step tutorial as I go.
The suit. As mentioned, I want this to be doable to even solo indies like me, so I'm going to be looking for the cheapest route, so I'm going down to Ross Dress For Less, which is essentially a thrift shop, to pick up the cheapest base I can find for a mocap suit.
Budgeting Goal: Under $30 for the full suit.
Note: This will not be a quick project. Due to budgeting restrictions, and other things I'm working on, I'll have to spread it out, especially when it comes to the cameras. It may be that I'll need to buy only a single camera a month. I'll try to get away with 3, but we'll see. I may need 4 after all.
Ok, sleeping with my bed fixer mat under the pad was a terrible idea. It's actually worse than my bed by quite a bit. It's firm, but not exactly intended to be slept on. It's intended to go under the mattress to stop it from sagging.
It's dense and doesn't have much give, or contour effect to it, but it has just enough give that it's worse than sleeping on my bed or on the floor. Every so often, I'd wake up with weird pressure points that ached, I'd have to change laying position, then go back to sleep. This happened all night long, and I got terrible sleep and a lot of lower back pain from it after just two nights.
So, now I've removed that, and will no longer be using it.
Extra note: There's a moisture barrier between my sheet and the pad I'm using. I was told that mattresses and foam wear out faster due to body sweat, which gets especially bad in the summer and on extra hot days. So I bought a moisture barrier to try and help the pad last longer. Didn't help my mattress last longer... but I've had the pad for a while now, and it's still good so far. Don't exactly have a control system to test whether or not the moisture barrier does anything, but eh. I'm not exactly made of money.
For the first time in I'm-not-sure-how-long, but definitely since December at the least, I've woken up almost completely fatigue-free.
What did I do?
I slept on the floor.
I was getting sick and damn tired of wasting my energy rotating around my heavy mattress only to get the same results over and over: waking up just as fatigued, if not more so, than when I went to bed. I kept muttering to myself "I swear I'd sleep better if I just slept on the floor." So last night, I did it.
I didn't sleep directly on the carpet, of course... I took the 2 inch pad I'd bought off my bed, as well as my bed sheets and set up on the floor that way. Naturally, sleeping on a 2 inch foam pad on the hard floor is far from very comfortable, so I still woke up with back pain, and all of my pillows suck so bad that even stacking two of them up will still leave them flat within minutes, so that's another issue with my sleep. But for the first time in so long, I have more energy. Not exactly get-up-and-go energy, but I don't feel like stopping the world and getting off for the rest of the day, and any improvement is still an improvement.
How do two pillows flatten out to less than the thickness of one pillow? No idea. They aren't even that old.
"For the best night's sleep in the whole wide world, visit MyPillow.com" Yeah, eat my ass... My MyPillow wore out to pancake-flatness in as little as 3 months. It was really nice for the first two weeks, but now my 12+ year old memory foam pillow is better than it, and it's just as flat. I bought a new memory foam pillow, but it didn't last much longer than MyPillow. Not entirely sure how my first foam pillow lasted so long... must have been a top quality one. Sadly, it has no tags. That or I cut them off and don't remember, so I have no way of buying another one.
I'm going to be buying one of these, though. https://onpurple.com/pillow And I'll let you know how it turns out. Let me check that price tag.
Jesus fucking Christ on a stick... a hundred bucks for a pillow? I really like their video, though. That thing looks amazing to sleep on. And that's considering the fact that I've tried every pillow kind there is. Polyester, feather (an itchy, pokey, uncomfortable nightmare), memory foam, foam chunks (that's what MyPillow supposedly is, from reviews I've read) cooling gel foam (it's bullshit. If they promise it stays cool using cooling gel, it's a lie. My "cooling" gel pillow ended up warmer than any of my other pillows, all using the exact same pillowcase. And it wore out in about a month) I've tried it all, and so far my first memory foam pillow was the best pillow I ever had. It lasted around 12 years before becoming unusable. And despite what you might imagine, it wasn't ultra hot. It might actually be foam latex. I don't know. I was a teenager when I got it, and I didn't really care about that kind of thing back then, because I never would have imagined I'd have to deal with poor sleep on a crap mattress/pillow combo.
So what I'm going to do is shove my mattress fixer under my pad and sleep on the floor. I'm also going to wait until I can afford a friggin hundred dollar pillow, and replace mine. My mattress fixer is an extendable mat made of regular foam blocks. They can be pushed together, or pulled away from each other to make the mat longer or shorter. My pad is 2 inches thick and is made of foam latex with holes that run through it so that it doesn't get super hot. (This information is for those who are suffering similarly, and want to try to follow along.)
Purple also makes a mattress, but like hell I can afford one of those... I'm also aware of the Dormeo, but they won't give me prices on their website, they don't seem to ship, and their closest store to me is around 400 miles away, so fuck them. I'll let you know how my plans and condition change as I start making moves to combat this.
For those of you who have been following me closely, you already know there's something wrong with me. For those who haven't, there's either something wrong with my body, or not having a good mattress for the last 7 years is finally have a serious effect on my health.
Regardless of what the cause is, the result is the same: I'm too fatigued to work on my games. You guys have only had a small taste of my issues. In my very last post, I spoke of logic and reasoning, and memory troubles. My example isn't even half of it. After living this way for 2 months, I can safely say that coding isn't a thing I'm going to be able to do. Programming with any form of script is entirely logic driven. You need to be able to think of other ways of going about something, and if you mess up, you need to have a mind sharp enough to figure it out.
Sharp is not a thing my mind has been consistently for a while. If it were any more blunt, it would be the head of a sledgehammer... Example: I was working on a small project last month, and it required glue. I went to the hardware store, picked up rubber cement, and began the long, tedious process of carefully brushing the glue on.
If you've never used rubber cement before, it uses a little, extremely inefficient brush and you paint it on.
I ended running out of glue before the project was finished, and as was headed back to the store I realized it would have been a hell of a lot faster to just buy spay adhesive. It's essentially the same thing, but takes a hell of a lot less effort to apply. This was 4 and a half days later. Considering how that went, I can already imagine trying to write in code.
But that doesn't mean I'm not up to making games. I've gotten a little of my creative drive back and I think I can get back into making games earlier than I expected to. It won't be my current project, the one I'd been showing off before my energy hit zero. That one requires me to be on a level of focus and mental sharpness that I haven't been on for around 3 years now. (Not to any predictable degree anyway.) It's required me to write logic and AI I've never tried before. It was a struggle even before December.
Instead, I bought RPG Maker MV, and I'll be trying to work on that. RPG Maker is... well... what the hell does it sound like it is? Lol. It's a program that allows for the construction of RPGs. (That's Role-Playing Game, not Rocket Propelled Grenade.) RPG Maker is designed to do all of the heavy lifting for you. All you need to do is tell it how your game goes, and it takes care of the rest, with absolutely no mandatory knowledge of scripting.
This won't be a new project by any definition of the word. In 2003 I got RPG Maker and started screwing with the program. In 2007 I found that old project of mine and decided I was going to finish it for the hell of it. In 2008 I finished it.
It's called Savage. You can play it here >>>>PLAY IT<<<< but you need RPG Maker 2003 and the RPG RT. It's easy enough to find RPGM2k3. I think the download of my game also includes the RPG_RT installer. If not, here's the file. No guarantee it will work, and I don't think it can be played on MacOS, but there's little I can do about that. Try running it on a Windows XP virtual machine if it doesn't work.
Warning: It's shit. It was made 14 years ago. "Talented" isn't a word I'd use to describe myself at the time. I wouldn't even call it "meh". No, I'm serious, this is your last warning. The game is fucking awful. Do not play it. You won't enjoy it. It's a boring grindfest with no story. I'm not even trying to elicit sympathy, or use reverse psychology, or being unreasonably hard on myself. I don't even enjoy playing it. I couldn't even get my RPG fanatic best friend to play it for more than 15 minutes. You will not enjoy it.
In 2014, I decided I was going to redo the game on RPG Maker VX Ace, which was the newest RPG Maker at the time. It was going to receive a massive overhaul. But then GamerGate started and I got a little side tracked with the whole ordeal, and stopped working on it. In the beginning of 2016, I downloaded the trial to RPG Maker MV, which is now the newest version, and started migrating the game over. But then my trial ran out, I couldn't afford the full version because I had other things to get at the time, and I let the project go cold. I put off doing it because I didn't want my first serious release to be a remake. Last night, I found some of my old files and decided I'd buy the full version of RPG Maker MV. This morning, I realized it wouldn't be that hard to finish it, and I might be able to pull it off if my energy doesn't decline too far to do pixel art. So, not a new project. It's getting back into an old project that was a remake of an older project that was a remake or an even older project.
There's still the small problem of not wanting to have my first game be a remake... I don't know why I hate that thought so much, but it feels cheap what with all the fucking remakes, reboots, definitive editions and shit coming out. But I think since the game sucked so bad, a HEAVY ground-up rebuild can be justified. I still don't feel right about going this long without successfully finishing anything only to just release a remake of something I already did, but I'm still going to try.
My logic and reasoning skills have been way off since December 29th. Sometimes it's really hard to analyze something. Example: I went down to the store and bought pens because I had forgotten I already had pens, and didn't know where I had put them. I found my original pens in a fairly obvious place when I had more energy.
It took until I was waking up repeatedly throughout the night, multiple nights in a row to remember that my mattress is god awful. Once that was in the forefront of my mind, the gears finally started turning, and I came up with a theory: What if there's nothing wrong with me at all?
Of course there's something actually wrong with me, I'm at wit's end with how far my quality of life has deteriorated. But what I mean is, what if what's wrong with me has been my mattress all along?
In my current... lack of... brain.... shut up, I've forgotten how to words! You get what I'm trying to say! In my current state, it was easy to convince myself that there's been something wrong with me for years. Like I had some kind of medical issue. My energy has been slowly fading over time, and it hit the lowest point in my entire life December 29th, 2016.
But lately, my mind's gears and pistons have been pumping away. It's taken a few days to completely gather this idea, but here it is...
When was the last time I had a lot of energy? 2010. Ever since then, it's been steadily down hill. I had peaks and valleys along the way, but much like Twitter's popularity, it's been fluctuating in an ever downward direction, very slowly.
When was the point at which it got its worst? The morning of December 29th, 2016. I woke up and didn't have the energy to get out of bed for at least another 10 minutes. I was too weak to lift the weight of my own 139lbs twink body. When I finally was able to get up, I had so little strength, I nearly fell over due to being too weak to stand on one foot long enough to step over one of my cats. I haven been that weak since, but my amount of energy each day has diminished further since then, and my memory, creativity, and other important mental functions have degraded so badly that I'm starting to forget even the most basic things. IE: My computer's log-in password. It's been the same password for over a decade. Thankfully I've been able to remember really vital stuff, but for how long?
Is there anything at all that can coincide with my fading energy? Check this out.
When was the last time I had a lot of energy? 2010. It also happens that this was when I got my own room for the first time in my life. My own room meant my own bed, which meant moving from the bunk bed I'd slept on for over a decade to a larger mattress and box spring.
Ever since then, it's been steadily down hill. I had peaks and valleys along the way, but much like Twitter's popularity, it's been fluctuating in an ever downward direction, very slowly. It also happens that I've switched mattresses frequently ever since then, desperately hoping to find a better one. Just my luck, each time I've bought a mattress, new or used, it's been progressively worse than the previous one. In 2014 I saved up, went to a mattress store and bought one of their most expensive, thickest-padded mattresses. It was fantastic at first, but just after the factory's 2 month warrant expired, it wore out rapidly. It's the worst mattress I've ever had. I swear to god I'd sleep better of I just slept on the floor. I still have that mattress right now. Rotating it does nothing to help, I can't flip it over, because it's one-sided. I put a 2 inch foam pad on top and a mattress fixer under it, and I'm still getting the worst sleep of my life.
When was the point at which it got its worst? The morning of December 29th, 2016. On December 21st, 2016, I went up to visit my mom for Christmas. I visited for a whole week. While I stayed there, I used a guest mattress that was not unlike my bunk bed mattress. Even though I slept fantastically on it, I didn't find I had more energy in the morning. I returned home December 28th, 2016, and slept on my current mattress that night. When did my condition become the worst yet? The morning after going back to using my mattress again after a week using a different one.
Coincidence? Bullshit! That my mattress endeavors line up perfectly with the decline of my physical wellness is just coincidence is just as likely as a rock thrown at the Earth from the moon having the force of over 200 nuclear bombs.
You might be thinking... words... that I just forgot. God damn it. I had this in my head literally 2 seconds before I started typing this same paragraph...
Oh right! You might be thinking that given my propensity for logic and science I'd be able to draw a connection between all of my mattresses. And you'd be wrong. I am incredibly stupid.
But! Although it has taken me far too many agonizing years of hellish suffering to figure it out, I do think I may have finally pinpointed the problem all of my mattresses have shared, now that I've started to think about what made mom's guest mattress remind me so much of my old one. Softness. Every single time I went out to buy a mattress, I went looking for a softer, more comfortable mattress than my previous one. How well does that analysis hold? Well, I bought a highly soft pillow-top mattress. Softest mattress I've ever owned. I've never been more fatigued day in and day out in all my life. Not even high school, with my 60lbs backpack, and waking up at 6AM to get all the way over to school on time made me this fatigued.
Why did mom's guest mattress remind my of my bunk bed mattress? It was firm. My old bunk bed mattress was quite firm. But I was a dumb kid when I first got it, so I didn't know any better. I only realized how hard my mattress had been when I had pleuritis/pleurisy some time in 2009. I was in constant agony, and my bed was way too firm to sleep on, so I slept on the couch for two and a half weeks until the pain had finally subsided. Going back to my bunk bed after sleeping on the plush couch made me realize how firm it was. It felt like sleeping on concrete.
(That's hyperbole, of course, but it still felt like concrete.)
That's the exact same firmness my mom's guest mattress was. It was, for all intents and purposes, just like my bunk bed mattress, and a level of firmness not a single one of my mattresses after I gave up my bunk bed even came close to. And for those thinking it, no. It wasn't the same mattress. My bunk bed mattress was blue with pink roses all over it. The guest one was white with a golden sun embroidered on the side.
Armed with that knowledge.... I don't know what I'm going to do. Even if I could afford another new mattress, I have no way of transporting it home since I don't have a vehicle. And if I'm going to buy a new mattress for the 8th freakin time, I'm going to want to make sure it's of perfect firmness. So I'll need to be able to test it in person.
You know what's funny, though? The mattress place I bought hell's mattress from went out of business only shortly after I bought my mattress, so even if I had gotten their 5 year warranty, I would have been fucked anyway.
Have to doubt them going out of business was a coincidence, either. I'm not saying I'm responsible, but if my mattress is anything to go by, I'm surprised I didn't find their store burnt down instead.
I decided I'd share an anecdote. I used to play Dungeons and Dragons Online, an MMO. I'm going to assume that everyone who reads this already knows what MMORPG stands for, and how they work.
One of the last times I ever played, I had the worst MMO experience I've ever had, ever. I'd invited a friend of mine to play with me, because he liked RPGs. He created a warrior human character, and I picked my level 2 elf wizard. We chose the easiest quest I could think of to start him out on, because if I can remember correctly, there are a few you can do at the beginning. This one had us going into a tomb full of skeletons and zombies. I forget what the goal is, because I haven't played in years, but this quest is easy. Maybe not easy enough for me to do solo, because I was a wizard, and wizards don't solo well, but it could be done.
As soon as the dungeon starts, we're already slapped with problems. Paraphrasing him: "I always love to go with brawling in games like these :D I always specialize in unarmed and unarmored characters."
Only problem is that DDO didn't support unarmed brawler characters, and didn't have unarmored perks. This should have been a red flag, but naively, I thought "Well, I'm strong enough, I have ranged magic, I know this dungeon like the back of my hand, maybe I can help keep enemies off him and carry him through these quests long enough for him to realize that having absolutely no protection and no attack bonus from a weapon the entire game is a futile endeavor."
So he goes in with a completely vanilla character despite me insisting that we leave the dungeon and enter it again when he has armor and a weapon. Hell, I was willing to give him a little of the money I had in order to buy him some good equipment from the get go, but he insisted, and that's when I decided I'd let him find out the hard way that having no bonuses isn't the best way to play.
Things start off relatively well, we face the first few zombies without a hitch and make it to the rest area. For those who have never played DDO, there are places called rest stones where if you sit, you can heal up, or if you die, you can recover. I explained to him the use of the station and that if we die or get hurt, we can return to that area and recover.
From that point on, the dungeon gets a little harder. It's no big deal, really. Even with the two-person-party difficulty bonus in place, it's the easiest dungeon in the game. All it takes is teamwork. That's what DDO is all about. A lot of the dungeons in the game require a party. It promotes teamwork.
As we heal, I give him a rundown of the rest of the dungeon, going "Look, we only have a little left to do. It's harder from here on out, but don't worry, as long as we take it slow and do one room at a time, and as long as you stay close to me, we'll make it just fine." He was healed sooner, because I was a higher level, and also a wizard and wizards need to also recover mana. The moment he was healed, he ran out of the room. This should have been a mushroom cloud red flag, but since I was only suffering a little on the health and only really hurting on mana, I decided I'd just be a good team mate and go with him.
We made it to the next area, which as I said, was a bit harder, but nothing we couldn't handle. We were immediately attacked, as was to be expected from this dungeon, and we were mildly outnumbered, but I knew this was coming, and knew it was very possible.
He wasn't even all that injured when he turned tail and without a word, fled. Way outmatched, flying solo as a wizard, and dying fast, I had to pull back too. "It's alright," I thought... "It's his first time playing. Once he gets his fortitude back up, we'll rest up and try it again." Since he was ahead of me, he got back to the rest area first.... and shut the door in my face.
In this particular dungeon, the rest area had a door. You're meant to open it and leave it open, but it's also handy for keeping mobs out. I was only a few steps behind him, and he would have seen me when he turned around to shut the door, because I was literally close enough to be hit in the face when he slammed the door on me. Feeling more than a little betrayed, I opened the door to try to squeeze in. I had just enough health that despite the zombies catching up and beating on me, I could get inside, that way, if I died, I could reach the stone, revive, and kill any zombies that slipped through. Before the doors were even open enough for me to fit through, he slammed them shut again, allowing me to die.
In DDO, if you die, you can still get back to a rest stone and revive if you're close enough, because you're in spirit form and can move a certain distance away from your death spot. Unfortunately, you can't walk through walls or doors, and he'd become completely irrational, refusing to open the door so I could get in and revive myself.
In DDO (if I remember correctly) you get a penalty if you have to respawn while on a quest. (Respawn means you recall from the level, are revived in the hub world, and can go back in.) So long as there's one player in your party in the dungeon, you don't have to start over. Quickly, I ran back in, and hurried back over to get rid of the zombies only to die again because you don't respawn with full health. However, I'd still managed to accomplish my goal: getting the zombies away from the door long enough for him to open it. He opened it... and shut it behind him. But rather than pick up my soul stone and go back in... (Living players can pick up dead players' soul stones, a large item that hovers over your death spot. Having this allows them to revive you)... like the game was prompting him to do, he decided to try and make a break for it.
He failed, and neither of us could get back inside and reach the rest stone. I told him to wait there, and that I'd respawn, come back in again, and revive him, but as I was making my way back to the dungeon entrance, he decided to respawn, resetting the quest.
We started the quest back up again, but he logged out a quarter of the way in, ditching me in a quest that I'd already completed, on a difficulty I couldn't do alone at the time. I alt+tabbed only to see that he was still online on Skype. When I asked what's wrong, he said (paraphrased) "Oh, I'd rather play something else right now. That sure was fun, though. I hope we can play again soon! :D"
I wanted to say "It wasn't fun for me!" I wanted to say "You didn't communicate with me as an equal so I knew what your plan was. You ran away like a bitch, leaving me way outmatched, and then you stabbed me in the back and stranded me to die. Then, when I suffered reward penalties to help you finish the quest, you don't even think to use the opportunity to help me so we could work as a party. Then you die, ignore my orders, and fuck the quest and our progress by leaving." I wanted to tell him he was the worst MMO partner I've ever had... but I didn't. I said nothing, allowed him to log off, and I haven't spoken to him since. Mostly because he stopped logging on at all only a year later, but after seeing how he betrayed me, and didn't put any effort into trying to speak with me again after that play session, I have to wonder how true our friendship had even been.
Don't feel bad for me, though. I did keep playing DDO for a month or two after that, with my best friend, and we always work together really well. She and I worked together and always looked out for each other, even when getting to each other's soul stones meant risking death and having to completely restart the mission.
While playing Phantasy Star Online 2, she said I was hands down the best tank she'd ever had.
If you've never MMO'd before, a tank is a player character who keeps enemy attention off ranged and support class characters by attacking them and fighting them as many at a time as possible so that the tank takes the most damage, and not the more fragile ranged or support players. Tanks are usually warrior/fighter class characters, or any characters that can eat a ton of damage and not worry about dying.
When I asked her what she meant by "I'm the best tank she's had" she said that unlike other people she frequently played MMOs with, not only did I do my job as a tank like I was supposed to, I also did it even if it meant that I'd die because of it. I'd charge headlong into bosses I knew would just fucking slaughter me. I'd be up close, taking a beating so she could shoot at it from a safer distance. That's the kind of partner I am. Compare and contrast that with the "friend" from my story above.
If you have an MMO party horror story of your own, feel free to share it in the comments below.
I've been too lazy to think of a better topic, so whatever. I classify final bosses in a different category than standard bosses. Final bosses are very different. They wrap up a game. They're meant to be the hardest, or one of the hardest battles. And they usually get their own music.
First: I'm permitting myself to use multiple games out of the same franchise. (Example: Zelda 64 and Twilight Princess are both Zelda games, but they're still different.)
Second: No remake-stacking allowed. If I choose a game, I have to go with one or the other, because it would be too tempting to include a theme and then game the system with its remade version.
Third: All genres are fair game, even though RPGs tend to dominate lists when it comes to boss music.
Fourth: I have to give an explanation for each one. Top 10 lists are stupid, but they're even worse if you don't give any reason/context for your choices.
Fifth: It doesn't count if it's the same as every other boss in the game. It also doesn't count if the entire level leading up to the boss has the same theme.
Sixth: The "final boss" has to the the game's end boss. Secret ending bosses and extra hard post-final-boss bosses don't count.
Seventh: I actually have to like it for it to count. Sorry, I don't care how many people love the final boss theme to Okami, or Old Snake, I just don't care for them.
As per usual... SPOILER WARNING.
Also, all "Listen Here" links will link directly to YouTube ost uploads. It's already going to take me a lot of time to put this list together, I'm not putting in the time to find crap-connection-safe versions of the songs, too.)
10. Sonic Unleashed: Perfect Dark Gaia
I get that this one is sorta cheating because it's also the game's end credits theme, but there's a big enough difference: no lyrics, plus the shitty rap section is removed.
This one is just a ton of fun. I have a few rules when it comes to final boss themes: It has to make you feel the battle to your core, and you absolutely MUST feel like you're battling something much more powerful than yourself. (At least the first time, anyway.) This theme accomplishes both. Also that "The possibilities are never ending" part is really nicely composed (Look up the version with lyrics is it's confused.) It doesn't hurt that Super Sonic has always been one of my favorite video game characters since I was a child. I'll never forget how fucking awesome it felt hearing nothing but rumors about Super Sonic for years and then finally, at 12 at night, unlocking him for the first time ever in Sonic 3. My 13 year old mind could barely handle the rush.
9. Turok: Dinosaur Hunter: Campaigner
This theme still gives me chills. The Campaigner may look lame...
But under that mildly unnerving witch doctor exterior is a cold, dead, machine. The steam gush sound in his theme really fits this fight, as the more you blast away at the Campaigner, the more you damage him, and the more you reveal his terminator skeleton under the flesh. The heavy, pounding drums add a chilling layer, too. He's no push over, either. I admit I was entirely unable to beat this guy without unlimited ammo for the most powerful gun in the game. His theme actually fits his entire level: a giant, high tech fortress filled with cyborg dinosaurs. The whole thing, from his fortress to his boss fight screams "post apocalyptic". There's a version of it with the metallic creak and clang of some marching humanoid machine, but I couldn't find it. For the better, I guess... the sound of creaking metal joints and steel-footed stomping only serves to make that boss theme even more disturbing.
And when you lose? He shouts "The universe is mine!" before driving the huge spikes on his weapon into your face.
8. Pokemon Gold/Silver/Crystal: Champion
8. Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow: Champion
Listen Here & Listen Here
This one's a tie..... I honestly couldn't decide, and I'd spent all week mulling it over. I'm not joking, this was supposed to follow shortly after the top 10 boss battle themes list I did. It took so long to construct the list, and a good portion of that had to do with the fact that I got stuck trying to break this tie. I had to admit defeat. They're both great. In Red/Blue/Yellow, you're having your final showdown with your rival, Asshat. I mean, Gary Motherfucking Oak. In Silver/Gold/Crystal, you face your frequent partner in epic day-saving, Dragon Champion Lance. Both tracks have a "it comes down to this" vibe, and have back-breaking your way through all the gym leaders, several Team Rocket encounters, and the Elite Four, that feeling is definitely earned. If I had a gun to my head, though, and I had to choose one or die, it would be the RBY one, because it's just a little bit more awesome.
Honestly, though, I don't know what the big deal is. I had a relatively smooth time dealing with Gary. I rarely lose against him until the Champion battle, and even then I'd just call it a challenging fight. Lance is so much more difficult. So... so much more... ;-; *Huddles in the corner* All the Dragonites.... Why all the Dragonites...?
7. New Super Mario Bros Wii: Final Boss Phase 2
One of my favorite musical instruments is the thunder drum. (I call it the thunder drum because I'm a idiot and don't know what it's actually called, but it sounds like thunderous booms when struck.) The doom bells and male vocals really help to add a sense of ultimate danger to this one. As much as I hate the battle (Bowser grows huge and literally all he does is take swipes at you and gently shoot comparatively tiny fireballs at you while you run away like a wuss. You can't even fight him. You just run until you reach literally a 'beat the boss' button.) I'm a sucker for booming drums and crashing cymbals. It has a real "Lord of Darkness" feel.
6. Banjo-Kazooie: Gruntilda
Boss remixes are fair game... I know this theme plays several different versions throughout the game, but it's different enough.
Alright, this one's going to need a little extra leg work to explain. If you haven't played Banjo-Kazooie.... you're dead to me. Alt+F4 and get the fuck off my blog. Joking aside... the way Gruntilda as a boss works is amazing. The entire game, you have to listen to her shit talking you. Literally the entire game (outside levels anyway), she's shit talking you so that you never for a second forget what your goal is. And when you finally get to her, you feel like you've finally earned that showdown, because you hate her but also sort of like her. She's grown on you at that point.
As outlined above, you have to feel it, and the boss has to be more powerful than you are. (At least, the music has to feel like it anyway.) This song is pulse pounding, the battle is pulse pounding... Grant Kirkhope is a god. One of my favorite parts is that they actually managed to fit Banjo's banjo in there.
Seriously, though... if you haven't played Banjo-Kazooie yet, do. I'd put it on a 'My Top 10 Games Ever' list, and as I mentioned in my Arc Continuum review, I've played nearly every console from C64 to PS4 and XBone. So Banjo-Kazooie had to beat a hell of a lot of other games in order to get that honor in my book.
5. Shadow The Hedgehog: Devil Doom
Ok... the game's not great. It's not Sonic 2006, but it's not Sonic 2, either. However, the I AM song is awesome. I know that it's the trailer video music, too, but there's more to the song when you fight Devil Doom, so it just barely qualifies. What's not to love about this song? It's got all the perks that Perfect Dark Gaia has, but it's metal, making it even better. Also, "Black-hearted evil, Brave-hearted hero" and "Can you see all of me? Walk into my mystery, step inside, and hold on for dear life" are my favorite lines.
The battle is backdropped by the sound of Shadow's friends all suffering and telling him how much they care. Fuck, even Eggman gets in on the feels. That, coupled with the blood-blazing metal playing makes it a great end to an otherwise frustrating game.
4. Super Paper Mario: The Ultimate Show
From the slow music box windup to the odd tick-tock sounding clock thing, this theme is equal parts disturbing and dramatic. It really does make it sound like you're fighting a broken, twisted, dark creature. I can't really add the feel of the battle to this one like I did the others, simply because I saved up all of my Block-blocks, so by the time I got to this fight, I was literally completely invulnerable for the duration of the battle. Needless to say, I beat it on my first try. (For those who don't know, Block-blocks are rare in-game items that grant temporary invincibility. Naturally, I horded them til the very end of the game, and when my friend said "watch out, he's the hardest boss in the game. It took me several tries." I was like "We'll see about that.") I really love the twisted carnival show feel it has going on.
3. Final Fantasy 7: One-Winged Angel
Sorry, I don't think Dancing Mad is even remotely good. One-Winged Angel on the other hand....
Ok, I know, that's the Advent Children version. The Advent Children one is superior to the original, and they're close enough for it to count anyway. It's still the theme of Sephiroth.
Though this theme speaks for itself, I'm still going to explain it. First of all... "Estuans interius ira vehementi, Estuans interius ira vehementi, Sephiroth."
"Burning inside with violent anger, burning inside with violent anger, Sephiroth."
"Sors immanis Et inanis, Sors immanis Et inanis"
"Fate, monstrous and empty. Fate, monstrous and empty."
I can think of no better way to describe Sephiroth. I think the lyrics in the Advent Children one are slightly different from what's above, but it doesn't matter. Could do without the pleasant-sounding towards the end, though...
Second, metal orchestras are really awesome.
2. Phantasy Star 4: Profound Darkness Form 3/Ooze
That's right, plebeians! Phantasy Star 4 ranks above Final Fantasy 7. Phantasy Star 4 is the greatest RPG there is.
Sephiroth? Ha! This theme belongs to a being so dark and evil it's only known as the Profound Darkness. It's so freakin powerful that the only way to stop it was by sealing it within space and time, sealed off with god damn planets.
The first time I heard this song, I was filled with absolute hopelessness as the boss pounded me into oblivion so hard, I couldn't even retaliate because healing was all I could do to avoid a game over. The theme gives off only one vibe: you're going to die.
I like the way it opens up all slow at first, with a heavy pounding sound and an ominous melody. It gives you just enough time to come to grips with just how fucked you truly are, then it picks up for the battle.
This thing loves super powered, full-party attacks, and will spam them over and over and over, making you want to cry as you watch helplessly as all of your characters die off two, three, and even four at a time, forcing you to revive them, and hoping the entire team doesn't suffer a fatal shot. And yes, as I said in the title, this is phase 3. You have to fight all 3 forms uninterrupted.
The music perfectly accompanies the panic you feel the entire battle.
Actually, the cool thing about this game is that the final boss gets two final boss themes. Its first two phases have a separate one that no other boss in the game uses.
A. FNAF World: Stone Cold Listen
AKA Mega Scott. I love this theme. It has a nice melody and a thumping beat. Coupled with the shock of finding out who the game's final boss is, (not the faggot-rainbow), this music really suits the battle.
Why It Missed The List: Frankly, it's only not on the list because it fell short of all the others. Had this been a top 11, it likely would have been 11th.
B. Pacman 2: The New Adventure: The Gum Monster Listen
Bad... terrible... awful... this game is so bad. I used to enjoy it when I was younger, I never managed to find all the secrets, and I never will, simply because thinking back on this game, I don't want to suffer through it ever again.
Listen to me... for the love of god, do not play this game. Imagine you were playing... I don't know, Megaman. And as you played, his mood would swing from one extreme to the next, completely outside your control. Happy, sad, scared, angry, and douche... And depending on his mood, he'll either do exactly what you want because he's happy, decide to do something else because he's sad, botch something because he's scared, do something stupid because he's mad, or do whatever the hell he feels like because he's a douche. Yeah, that's this game. You are a slave to Pacman's moods. I once got stuck because Pacman became too depressed to do anything, and I was on a rooftop area. To progress forward, he had to be in a good enough mood to try and make the jump from one roof top to the next, and to go back the way I came also required him to be in a good enough mood to jump. But he refused to do it. In order to change his mood, you have to show him something or have him encounter something that will change his mood, and up on the roof, there was nothing. Oh, yeah.... forgot to mention... you have no direct control over Pacman. All you can do is force him to look in one of 4 directions. You can make him turn around and notice specific objects, other than that, he's entirely out of your control, especially when he's in one of his moods. You're going to be hearing the death jingle A LOT.
Anyway, to the music. The only boss in the game is a giant monster made out of... I'm not joking in the slightest... chewing gum stolen from people's mouths. As retarded as it sounds, this thing is actually tough enough to smack around power-pellet Pacman (or as this game calls him, Super Pacman. He literally wears a cape and a mask.... I feel the need to remind myself, and you, that this was a game I actually sat down and played, not once, but multiple times...)
Though I linked you to the SNES version, I've only ever played the Genesis version. I chose the SNES music because the Genesis edition is a little too bland. But it's a fairly good song, and goes well with the panic of not being able to figure out how to defeat the thing. If it gets too big, it's game over, and it's growing the whole battle.
Why It Missed The List: It's not really all that good. It could stand to be remixed and improved.
C. Sonic The Hedgehog 2: Final Boss Listen
This is not only one of the greatest final boss themes ever, it's also one of the best songs ever, period. This sing goes perfectly with Eggman's lumbering robot, and the way it's composed makes it feel like a true showdown.
Why It Missed The List: Because #1 is even better.
1. Sonic The Hedgehog 3: Final Boss
This is my absolute favorite final boss theme, and the entire reason I decided to make a top 10 final boss themes list. I love the way it starts up. The build up is a little bland, but what comes right after the drop.... (the very brief pause) it's what makes it the best final boss theme ever. I love it. The music gets softer and softer, takes a breath, and then finishes the loop with pure awesomeness.
Not convinced? Malicious Fingers
The boss isn't exactly easy, either. Due to a foolish oversight, the dev team thought it was impossible to battle this boss as Super Sonic, so that means this boss has the power to hurt you even when you're Super Sonic.
So, my test results readout is retarded. For some reason it has the explanation in bold text on the very last page, all by itself, with nothing to really suggest that's where it would be. It says my thyroid is fine.
That should be fantastic news, but it's not. It means something else is wrong with me, and I don't know what it is. Thankfully, the test people were nice enough to have me fill out a symptoms and severity scantron sheet, and that scantron sheet gave me a list of suggestions after it was analyzed. I'm not sure how to read it, because the staff made sure it was confusing as fuck: It's done in bars. The bars, I think, are meant to show the severity. Most of the bars are red, and one is green, but the red bars are the long ones, and the green one is the shortest. So I don't know if the red ones are meant to mean they're more likely, because they're longer, or if the green one is most likely, even though it's the shortest.
Either way, the green one doubles as a double-test: High and low cortisol. I think low cortisol is the green one. I'm too lazy and too tired to go look, right now, but if memory serves, they were both the shortest bars.
I'm going to take cortisol tests next, because it knocks out two of the suggestions at once, and one of the suggestions is the done in a different color, making it stand out, so it seems to be significant. Unfortunately, these tests are pretty spendy, so it may be another month before I can take the test. I got shit to buy. I can't be spending nearly $200 every month on tests. I need a new bed, a new pillow, I need a stand for the brand new professional microphone I bought, I could really use a bigger desk so I can use my tablet more comfortably, I need a new tablet, because mine is craptacular.... but the ones with screens on them are a few thousand, and I can't blind-draw so it has to be one of those.... I really want to try to make a home-brew mocap studio, that's going to be cripplingly expensive...
Ain't nobody got money for expensive tests!
"But you could die!"
Yeah, I'd probably be better off, frankly. I've been a game developer since 2003 and still haven't released a game worth playing. Honestly, I might as well skip waiting to die, and just kill myself.
Heh heh... pessimism.
Disclaimer (because ethics in games journalism) I got Arc Continuum in early access for free... somehow. They claim it was a prize for taking a quiz, but I wasn't even aware that this was going on, let alone took part in it. I just suddenly received a tweet on Twitter going "Congratulations! You won a prize!" from some game dev account I'm familiar with and follow. Naturally, I didn't object, kept my mouth shut, and accepted the prize anyway. It's entirely possible there was an error, or it's because I'm a semi-popular GamerGate developer, or it's because they liked the joke comment I made on it a few days prior. They said "Name the power in this GIF." and I said something to the effect of "Clearly that's called the Time Dilation Field... Power... Thing. Duh." But that was the only one I responded to related to the game. It's possible that was the quiz, but even if Time Dilation Field Power Thing was right, or at least partially right, I only answered one question out of the quiz.
Regardless of how it happened, I still got the game in early access for free. So I decided to do a review.
Before I begin, two things to readers, and two things to the developers of the game.
1. I am not Total Biscuit. I don't do reviews for a living, and I'm not getting anything for this, so don't go into this expecting a TB level review. I'm just a guy, I made my points, and I'm now making a simple review.
2. I am one of those assholes who can receive a free gift and still criticize it. You don't have to worry about this being a free gift coloring or altering my review.
To the dev team if you somehow end up reading this.
1. I am a game developer as well as a life-long gamer. Everything I say, I'm telling out of a place of master level experience. From arcades, DOS, and Atari all the way to Xbox One and PS4, I've played it all, and though I haven't managed to release a game of my own, yet, I do know how to develop games.
2. I'm blunt. This is going to be full of language, snide remarks, and maybe some sarcasm. But I'm going to be honest.
Let's begin. You play as this dude. What's the first thing you notice about this image?
The graphics are a lot dated. This looks like Original Xbox tier graphics, and according to the options, this is "ultra" on all settings. But since I'm as classically trained as they come, I'm always willing to look past looks. Graphics really aren't that important.
Moving right along, this guy has no name that's given, so I'm calling him Shepard's Brother. The game starts with a cut scene of Shepard's Brother in... somewhere. There's no establishing shot, so I haven't a clue if it's his house, apartment, whatever, or if he's even on Earth. He looks out his window at what we're meant to assume is a violent protest. It never shows what he's looking at. It just shows him looking out a window at a cityscape, in a downward angle. I'm assuming there's a riot on the streets below his window, because you can hear noise, but it doesn't bother to show it, so this is just a guess with a little hint from a radio he has going. What are they protesting? Haven't a clue. We're given little more than it's a protest. Would be nice if they rendered some smoke rising up in the scene we're able to see from his window. That would at least give us a sense of urgency and tension.
Anyway, Shepard's Brother is suddenly smacked over the head by the plot. A woman shows up at... place... and urgently begs to be let in.
Her name is Anna. Already you can tell more effort went into her model than went into Shepard's Brother. She looks a damn sight better. Quite the attractive model, and quite the attractive woman.
After that, she hides in... place... I'm not kidding, he has little in the way of furnishing in this place, so I really don't know what to call it. Then people... aliens... hobos... cyborgs... I'm not sure what, burst in through the door. They're dudes in admittedly badass armor that the game calls the Kasaan, if I remember correctly. It's only said once, and spelled out once, so I'm just going to call them the badguys.
They want Shepard's Brother to give up Anna *Garbled* because she escaped from some island prison recently, I think. Sorry dev guys, without subtitles, his badass voice is really hard to understand through the audio effects. Just before they rip Shepard's Brother a brand new face for one, being a dick, and two, refusing to tell them where she's hiding.... literally without searching any of... place. They walk in, spread out, and made demands. Either way, just before Shepard's Brother suddenly has to learn to live life as a new cripple, Anna comes out of literally the next room, and kills all three badguys. Not sure why she needed to hide if she could literally one-shot all three of them in the space of 2 seconds, but... sure, why not?
She then explains that Shepard's Brother is the chosen one. I'm not kidding. She explains to him the thing on her arm is called the Arc, and that it's "in your DNA" to have that kind of power.
Suddenly this thing is floating in the middle of his apartment. Again, I'm not kidding. She says "It's your destiny!" and he goes "But how?" she gestures off screen and tells him to see for himself, the camera pans right and it's just floating there, inexplicably.
Props to the art team, though. I really like how the Arc looks.
Shepard's Brother puts on the gauntlet without another word, and finds that it fits. Right after that, the game just begins.
Ok, I'm willing to assume this is just the rough draft of the game's intro, because the acting, cinematography, and character movement are all abysmal. There's a point where he's pouring himself an imaginary drink, because no liquid comes out, and when he sets down the bottle, it floats a good 4 to 5 inches off the table for the rest of the scene. I've now watched the intro three times, and I'm still confused. Not enough is explained, and he just goes along with it, and runs after her when she leaves. Why? There is no motivation, he just takes her word for it, puts on a robot arm that he has no idea what it is, without hesitation, and she abducts him without a word.
"It's your destiny."
"Oh, ok. That makes sense."
"Here's a glowing robot arm like mine."
"Neat, let me put it right on."
"Okie dokie. I don't got anything better to do anyway. Might as well follow a prison escapee I only met 20 seconds ago."
Alright, after that painful opening cut scene, you're thrown head first into game play. She runs out of... place... I'm sorry, I still don't know what it is. He has a radio, a speaker, a chair, and some bottles and cups, and that's it. I don't know if he's living there, squatting there, or what... I assume it's his place, because he apparently knows the code to the door, but it's not exactly a home. It's barren, and you only see the one room. It would be nice if he had a little more stuff, and interacted with more of the scenery to show that he lived there. Maybe instead of opening with him fiddling with the radio, have him reclining in a chair and he turns it on with a remote. Or maybe it's beside him. Have him take part in the scenery a little more.
Thankfully I don't have to refer to it ever again, because as I said before my rant, she runs out, ordering you to follow her. Now, I know a lot of you are going to be giving the "Oh boy, here we go! Another crapfest Steam game!" remark. And I don't blame you. After Day Z, Day One: Gary's Incident, and other high profile falls down a flight of stairs, the opening screen and intro cut scene really had me bracing for the worst.
Imagine my surprise when the game performs not only better than expected, but better than I'd hoped even before my first impression.
The controls aren't just tight, they're buttery smooth. But almost immediately I ran into my first real issue. I'm a Y-Invert Player, and the game is uninverted by default, and there's no way to invert the Y-axis. In fact, there's no way to change any of the game's controls... yet. I really hope that's a 'yet'... I really want to enjoy this game, but I can't if I have to play non-inverted.
For you non-invert plebs, my first FPS ever, where you even had a Y-axis, was 007 The Golden Eye on the Nintendo 64, which utilizes the Y-invert by default. I didn't know any better, and that's the control style I ended up learning. Y-Invert players can't just play the other way. It's like trying to write with your opposite hand. Unless you're ambidextrous... then try putting the pencil in your mouth and writing. It's like that.
And for you "Inverted Y controls doesn't make sense" peons. It makes perfect sense. It's like flying a plane. You pull the stick back to go up, and push the stick forward to go down. Uninverted is the control scheme that doesn't make any damn sense! If you play uninverted, YOU are the abnormal one.
To say this game is rough around the edges is an understatement. I kept seeing weird, white artifacts in the scenery as I was going around corners and things, as if the game was loading assets a little too slow. There were times when the frame rate would dip, or at least, it would feel like it dipped at least a little, but I wouldn't really say that it made things harder to play. It only seemed to be when trying to fix those artifacts that the game suffered negligible frame rate issues.
As mentioned, the graphics aren't great, but the environments are reasonably nice, if barren. But again, I don't really care how a game looks, as long as it's not butt-ugly, and as long as it plays good. And it plays very good.
I've been waiting for the chance to get to this part, I'll start with the part of the game play I liked the most: No hand holding. I was pleasantly surprised. In fact, I quickly became thrilled that the game just sort of opened the doors and aside from "press this to jump" and "press that to crouch" and "press the other to shoot" the game was totally hands-off while I was playing.
Example: There's this part where I was trying to progress, and I couldn't figure out what to do at first.
But it didn't. I figured out what was going on, what the devs wanted me to do, and how to overcome it all without a word of dialogue, or a single pop-up text, and it felt great to overcome that hurdle all on my own.
I know, I know. That shit's been around since the SNES and Sega Genesis. But today's games make it feel like the devs think you're a retard. So when I see a game returning to letting the player make their mistakes and figure out the puzzles on their own like that, it makes me so happy.
So almost right out of the gate, the devs allow me to feel confident and feel like I've accomplished something.
Sadly, that feeling of accomplishment was dashed rather quickly. It's extremely linear and you don't really gain anything for looking around (yet anyway) or killing enemies, so I hardly felt driven to care what was going on around me, so long as it wasn't shooting at me.
This simple fact is probably going to kill it for a lot of people: but this is a third-person shooter. And from this point on, everything I have about this game is complaints.
Big complaint 1, there's no way to hip fire. You have to hold down the left trigger (I was using an Xbox USB controller) and press the right trigger in order to shoot. Attempting to shoot without holding the left trigger first only charges up a fairly useless, short-range punch blast that temporarily stuns enemies. I'll get back to this.
The lack of an ability to hip fire means that enemies that get right up in your face are going to be frustrating to kill, because third-person and point-blank combat don't mix when you have to aim at the enemy and can't see where you're going. It also slows down combat by quite a bit. It's not so bad at first, when there are only one or two of the badguys. When it gets up to 5 and over, the slow aiming becomes a big problem. You can't see where you're going while aiming, so you have to go in and out of aim mode, and when you have 3 or more guys shooting you at once, you can very easily die because you got caught on something. Every shot counts, too, because the Arc overheats.
Back to the punch thing. I called it useless, because the range is too short, the radius is too narrow, charge up is too long, and the stun is too short-lived to justify using it, especially when you get the power to slow enemies in time, later. I think the punch should either be improved, or just get replaced (or moved to another key) in favor of being able to hip fire.
Combat - The Cover System
The game uses the cover system, where you hide and your health regenerates. The thing this game does right is that it doesn't take that long to recover health, so you aren't spending much time ducking. However, the cover system is abysmally limited. You can't lean into cover, or fire out of cover. No you have to stand up to shoot, so I found that cover was more of an inconvenience than a strategy. Allow me to explain.
The game only allows you to aim over Shepard's Brother's right shoulder, and since you can't hip fire, if you plan on coming out of cover on the left side of what you're hiding behind, it means the enemies are going to get to see and shoot you long before you can see and shoot them, because you have to move the entire character's body out from behind cover in order to aim over Shepard's Brother's right shoulder to hit them. Since there's no leaning, and no firing while in cover, it means you're going to waste precious seconds looking more for cover that has an open right side, or making like a whack-a-mole and standing up out of cover to shoot, and ducking back into it.
The cover system might have been slightly more helpful if ducking behind something and moving to another place gave you a logical element of surprise, but no... that's not a thing that's possible. Just like that crappy Turok Evolution game that absolutely destroyed my ability to enjoy Turok games ever again, enemies have inexplicable x-ray vision and can see you no matter where you go. I even tested this. I ducked behind a wall of crates and watched where the enemy was shooting. No matter where I moved to, he was shooting straight at me, even though I never once came out of cover. So any time I came out of cover, they were instantly ready to shoot me. Like I said, the only thing the cover system is good for is to keep the enemies from shooting you long enough to get your health back up. There is no using it for stealth.
Combat - Fairness
To say the combat system is balanced would be a lie, and I refuse to lie. It's left completely unfair.
First of all, like in Turok Evolution, enemies have perfect accuracy. Unless you're moving, they can shoot across a 300 foot gorge and still hit you. Combine that with the fact that they know where you are at all times, and the combat becomes extremely skewed in their favor. Keep in mind, I was also playing under a severe handicap with the Y-invert being off.
It wasn't so bad until I got to the first "boss". It's not really a boss, more like a bigger enemy with a bigger gun. That's where the combat system's flaws started to come out in full black and white. In fact, that battle gave me quite a few complaints to work with.
Enemies Break The Rules
Like in most shitty games, Arc Continuum's enemies don't have to follow the rules. First was the fact that enemies could see me through walls and other objects, and I couldn't see them.
Second, and most egregious was the fact that enemies could shoot through solid objects, and I couldn't. In the arena area just before the big enemy and right after I obtained the power to slow down time, there were some crates and different random objects that I noticed enemies could shoot though. One of the things I hate more than anything in a game is when enemies can shoot through something, but I can't also shoot through it. It's fucking cheating, and it's god damn bullshit. Sorry, devs, if this is an oversight, but I have to bring it up, because I absolutely cannot stand it when this happens.
Sometimes they were able to shoot through crates, sometimes they were able to shoot through a fence-like structure, and sometimes they were able to shoot straight through a wall.
The "boss" himself was no more fair. He neither had to actually be pointing his gun at me to shoot me, nor did he have to have bullets in his gun to shoot me. I found out, while trying desperately to find a way to beat him, that he can pull the trigger of his shot gun, and no matter what direction it's pointed, the bullets will still fly in my direction. Even when I was standing beside him, and his gun was pointed 90 degrees away from me, he was still able to shoot me.
This boss also has a reloading animation, where he tilts his shotgun up to pump it so he can go on shooting. And yep, even during this animation, he's still able to shoot me.
You might think I was mistaken and that maybe he's quick and it just looked like he was able to shoot sideways out of his gun, and shoot while reloading. But thanks to the ability to slow the boss guy down, I was able to prove that I wasn't just mistaken. I'll bet that just like that shitty game White Knight Chronicles, enemies are even able to face away, and fire backwards, through themselves, just to hit me. I have not proof, but I'm also willing to bet they can shoot through each other, too.
A lack of a dash mechanic also made it hard to fight this thing. I'm aware that the Arc gives you the power to dash later, but that broken mechanic wouldn't have saved me during this fight, anyway. This guy is a massive bulldozer, and he knows it. He's not afraid to walk right up to you, unlike other enemies. And since he has a huge shotgun, you go down fairly easy if he does manage to get between you and any form of cover (that he can't just shoot through, that is). The lack of an ability to run quicker meant that if he managed to corner me, I was more than likely to die, because there was no way to get around him without taking a ton of extra damage, due to another cheap ability enemies have that even defies the game's own mechanic.
You might be wondering how the "boss" was so hard to beat when I had the power to slow him in time. Well, much like the punch, the Arc's main claim to fame is also rather useless.
Unlike the punch, the Arc fires off instantly, but that doesn't mean it's better. In fact, it's much more useless. The stun punch actually worked, the time dilation field power thing, not so much. It slows the enemies down, but not by a lot, and they can still attack you.
But the worst part is that is that it can also affect you. You aren't immune to your own power. The problem with that being, if you're too close to where the blast hits, you'll also be slowed, however, the blast is so big that even at medium-close combat, I still ended up slowing myself down as well as the enemy, and when the enemy isn't afraid to get up close and personal, like the "boss" for example... well, it isn't going to help anything to use it, because most of the time, he'll be far too close to you. Yeah, that lack of sprinting makes its self known in spades, during that fight.
On top of that, it only lasts about 5 seconds, so there's really no good in using the game's own name sake.
But as I hinted at before this section, the power to slow time is rendered even less helpful due to the enemies being able to defy the game's own core mechanic. I found that even while slowed by time, enemies had perfect aim. The ability to slow enemies in time seems to have no effect on their turning speed. While running past the big boss guy, I noticed that he was able to turn and keep pace with me, even while he was slowed and I wasn't, meaning he was still able to fire away at me while I ran by him.
Remember the blast radius I was talking about? Unlike most games that use time as a mechanic, the Arc only seems to be able to shoot a localized area of time dilation, so while you may be able to slow down one or two, maybe up to 4 enemies in a group, any enemies outside the blast areas are free to shoot you... as well as the ones you slowed down, because the effect isn't really even that great. They can still kill you, it will just take a second or two longer for them to kill you, while anyone not caught in the area is free to kill you at normal speed.
I kind of feel bad about saying it, but the Arc is crap. At the end of the level, Anna stops moving, I assume because her AI wasn't finished and there's no cut scene. So you just go through a large portal into the next area, and this is where I had to stop playing. In this area, you get the most broken power yet. And I don't mean broken as in exploitable. I mean broken as in it doesn't work. By this point, I'd switched to mouse and keyboard because I just can't play on a controller without Y inversion. Anyway, you pick up an ability that allows you to do a Sonic-style light dash for a short distance by pressing shift. The game wants you to do a dash parkour puzzle over an insta-death drop, but the only problem is.... the dash doesn't work.
It took me so many tries to get over the first gap, simply because hitting the dash button has a 50% chance of doing nothing at all. Even when I figured out that sometimes the ability just wouldn't respond, it took 3 additional tries, mashing the shift button over and over as I ran headlong at this first gap, just to make it across... only to find out that there are several more ahead. And this game's not so generous with its checkpoints. It might be more generous in this area, but after seeing all the gaps I had to get over, I didn't bother. I loaded it back up to check just now, only to find that my continue file didn't bother to save, and I'm back at the beginning. There's no manual save, either. So if there are other abilities, enemies, and weapons, I can't review them. Sorry devs, I'm not willing to put up with a broken mechanic just to see the rest of the game.
I'm sorry to have to report that the camera isn't good. It's not the worst camera I've ever had to deal with, but it's pretty bad, especially while in combat. Sometimes the camera was too close and I couldn't see where I was going, and sometimes the camera didn't bother to turn around when I was running in the opposite direction.
The fact that the camera hovers over his right shoulder is also a problem in combat, as I mentioned before.
I can't say that the camera got me killed, save for one time. I couldn't figure out what I was running up against while in a fire fight, and so I couldn't get out of the line of fire and died. Regardless, this does need to be worked on before the final release. A sub par camera can really hurt a game.
The collision detection needs some serious work. There's a 4 inch invisible field around all objects, making navigating in a fire fight a big problem, because I'd always forget to account for the extra large collision box on objects.
The blast wave that comes off the time slow effect needs to be increased, because I found that even when I was clear of the visual area of the field by a good 2 feet, I was still caught in the effect.
It seemed to be down to pure chance whether I was slowed or not, because some cases I was nowhere near the time field, and yet, I still sometimes ended up getting slowed down.
The dev in me leads me to test things, so naturally, when I came to the area with the hover trains, I found that they could be slowed down, too. However, just like FarCry Instincts Evolution, objects not in motion stay lethal. In that game, you could knock over sniper towers, but the devs forgot to make them no longer lethal after they've come to a complete stop, so if you touched them, you'd still die. Same with the trains in Arc Continuum. The trains slow down, but if you touch them even when they're slowed, they'll still kill you, even though they're moving slow enough that it wouldn't be deadly. You might argue that they still keep their force, but then when you get to the area where you have to slow down giant fans to get through, those should also remain lethal to touch when slowed. They do not.
Sometimes the health display wouldn't even show up. I thought that meant I was invincible when that happened, but after testing that theory, I found that I was still quite able to die.
I noticed that enemies that were required to run out through a door to attack me were in rooms with only the one exit. At least make a locked door or a blocked or unreachable entrance for them to get into that room from, so they're not just sanding around in a dead end room waiting to jump out at me.
There was an odd glitch where if I was on stairs, or at the top of them, sometimes enemies at the bottom of the stairs would stop moving and stop responding, even if I started shooting them. Even though I was fully visible, they'd stand there and do nothing, even as I killed them.
You're able to skip the "boss". I'm not sure if this is an oversight or not, but you're able to completely bypass the first big boss guy. I honestly couldn't beat him after trying for an hour, so I decided to see if I could just leave. Turns out, I can. And then I can kill him from the other side of a fence. (To the gamers tisk-tisking me for taking the easy road, there's a second one almost immediately after that, and I did have to kill that one to progress.)
And last... the game doesn't allow the merciless slaughter of innocent, unarmed NPCs. Sorry dev guys, I know this is more of a technical complaint, but any game that has NPCs, and guns, but doesn't allow me to kill the innocent people gets a black mark from me. There's a bar scene in the game with a bunch of pointless NPCs, but you can't use your Arc in that room, so you can't attack the people. "Does this mean Mass Effect also got a black mark for the same reason?" Yep.
Despite having more complaints about the game than good things to say, I don't hate it. Naturally, since it's in early access, I'm willing to give the game a free pass on being in a fairly crappy state.
Now, I'm not saying this just because I got a free gift: I actually did kind of enjoy it. I think it has quite a lot of potential, especially the lack of hand holding. I greatly appreciated that. The entire game, there were no bells or whistles going off in my ears, no tutorial, no omniscient NPC partner feeling the need to rush me to my next goal or explain crap to me. No, I was literally on my own after Anna and I got separated, and I loved it. For a change, I felt like I was able to fucking play the game. I don't want to understate how happy I am to see that. True, it's still a fairly generic shooter, but I didn't think it was awful.
Trust me, if I hated the game, I would have said so. I'm too much of an asshole to pretend like I thought a game was good just because I got it as a gift. I'm one of the industry's toughest critics.
The Last Guardian? Don't give a shit.
Overwatch? Go away.
Titanfall? Gimmicks don't impress me.
Kingdom Hearts? Boring.
Knack? Crap. Saw that one coming 200 leagues away.
Watch_Dogs? Let me know how much it sucks when it comes out. Oh wait, it's out and it sucks...
Life Is Strange? Hipster shit.
Mario Galaxy 2? Yawn. The first one wasn't good enough to justify a second...
Firewatch? You mean Walking Simulator 2016?
The Last of Us? I asked myself if I cared, and the answer was no.
Bravely Default? Bravely Meh. No RPG will ever be as good as Phantasy Star 4.
Undertale is one of the greatest games of all time and I hated it before I knew anything about it, because people wouldn't shut up about how perfect it was.
(Though I do like Castlevania 64, so take that how you will...)
To the Devs: don't think that I won't 180 on my opinion of Arc Continuum if you fail me, and release shit. I'm also too much of an asshole to lie to myself and others and pretend I enjoy it just to try and save face. I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt, because I think your game has a lot of potential. When next I play this game, I want to see a massive improvement. I'm giving this game my recommendation, something too few modern games get, especially ones this early in development. Try not to let us down. I'll be keeping my eye on this project. I want to see greatness, because I hate to see wasted potential. (Like Fracture.)
Readers, you can buy the Early Access version on the Steam store for a little over 7 USD. Play it for yourself and see what you think. Despite the time I had with it, I didn't rage. I think that's important to point out. It's tolerable in its early access badness.
And remember, I'm neither involved, nor invested in this project. I gain nothing besides a good game if it succeeds, and I gain nothing for this review. I'm not being pressured to tell you that it's good, and even if I'd been given expensive gifts by the developers, I still wouldn't lie about my experience with it. My opinion can't be bought, so you can rest assured that when I say "It's in a rough state, but I can't say I regret trying it out" I mean it.
So go support them. I'd really like to see this turn out to be something excellent.
I'm still struggling with morning fatigue daily, low energy, and not enough drive. I could draw on better days, but for writing code, I'm just too tired to deal with it. I did take a blood test and I do have the results, but my memory isn't great any more, so getting any information on those results usually goes like this:
>In the morning, while bed-bound with morning fatigue.
"I really need to do something about this... I'm going to see a physician today."
>Drag myself out of bed, feeling like I was hit by a bus while also falling down a flight of stairs.
"Ok, fuck the appointment crap, maybe I'll just talk to a physician online..."
>Sits down at computer.
"Oh look, SJWs were stupid... again. Wait, what was I just about to do? Feels like there was something important I'm forgetting. Oh well."
>Loads Civ 5.
On the days I do actually remember to contact a physician, I'm usually in the middle of doing something: "Oh yeah, I need to talk to a physician! I'll do it right after this!" And by the time 'right after this' comes, I've forgotten, even if what I'm doing only takes 5 minutes. This post was supposed to come out a full week ago, but I kept forgetting to do it.
Alright, I've wasted enough time. On to the point. In my weak and useless state, I've been using my free time not already consumed by gaming to research some things related to 3D game development. My memory may be as handy as a moist match in a dark cave, but I do still have my long term memory. And what I remember is that animating in 3D is easier than animating in 2D, but a lot more tedious.
I don't exactly relish the task of having to puppeteer the model. No amount of helpers, gizmos, and rig tools can make animating a character realistically any easier. Especially ambient movement. Go back to the N64, and load up some 3D games. You know why animations are so stiff and not very realistic? Because rig animation is a nightmare, whether you handle them elsewhere, or try to get the engine to do the animation.
So I've been doing a little research into mocap. For the uninitiated, mocap is a portmanteau of 'motion' and 'capture'. Mocapping is when you put on a retarded looking suit:
And literally physically act out what the character is meant to do in the game/movie. This mocap suit will allow cameras to track the motion of the person wearing it via the 20 or so balls attached all over it, using infrared light, and software will translate that data into animation for a 'skeleton' or rig, which can then be mapped to the character in question.
Fun fact: Behind every cool animation in a modern game is a person dressed in a stupid-looking suit, acting stupid in front of a camera. You know that embarrassing StarWars Kid video? It's pretty much exactly like that, except you're dressed wearing the suit in the image shown above, and you're usually acting like an idiot in front of a whole crew of people, (roughly 13+ to be specific) with about 12 to 15 cameras pointed at you, recording your every move from every angle.
Ahh, the life of a developer...
I've known about this tech for several years now, but didn't until very recently ever consider whether I'd be able to use it myself, or not. Last week, I looked it up. Turns out even a partial mocap setup can cost a few grand...
The suit itself can run upwards of $3000.
I don't think my bank account even allows me spend more than $1000 in a 24 hour period. To upgrade, I think it has a monthly fee. So let me get this straight, I need to pay them to allow me to spend more of my money. Right, that may work on stupid people, but it's not going to work on me.
And before you comment "But Bastendorf, aren't there websites that sell mocap animations?" I'm already aware of these websites. And they're stupid. I searched every single one I could find for even the most basic of animations I'd need in an assortment of different game ideas: the idle animation. There were criminally few, most didn't even work because they were extremely casual NPC animations (neck rubbing, pantomime conversation, fiddling with their phone, etc) or overacted "I COULD DIE AT ANY MINUTE SO I GOTTA LOOK IN ALL DIRECTIONS AS FREQUENTLY AS POSSIBLE" animations. The one or two that would have worked were botched by the fact that the character's stance was awkward. One had the character's torso turned slightly to the left for some reason, one was leaned back too far, and the third was mixed in with a shoulders-and-upper-back stretch that I couldn't use. Idle animations can't have big movements in them. The stretch, repeated over and over, would start to look like the character needs a chiropractor or at least a deep tissue massage or something. And as I looked through these animations, I started to realize that they're just too generic.
Example: One idea I have requires numerous characters with personalities that general animations just don't cover. One is a king, which means most of his animations would require him to be seated in his throne. This king character likes to lean and rest his head in his hand. And when he gets worked up or angry, he slams his fist on his arm rest.
Another example from the same game is a villain. In order to animate his personality, I'd need bombastic, pantomime, evil laughter animations.
And a third and final example, different game: The main character is required to wield a sword, but only a sword. The few sword animations I could find were overacted, and included a shield. The sword draw animations all had the sword at the hip, but my character has his sword on his back, because it's a bastard sword. Premade animations just do not work, because they can only account for so much.
Let's take a look at Emperor Kuzco.
Now, trying to rig-animate someone like him? Yeah, I'd rather sit at the DMV for the hell of it. A lot of people moan and complain about how much animation is mocapped these days, and if you know even one damn thing about trying to animate using a rig... you understand why the tech is such a crutch. Try getting a fully articulated figure and shooting a stop motion animation with it, and you'll start to see exactly why people tend to motion capture. It's so difficult to replicate the way people move, naturally, using just a rig. There's too much you have to take into account.
Anyway, I'm aware that there is another way that uses just cameras with no suit, but I only have one competent camera, and that method requires at least 3 of them, plus the software to read it, and the only software cheap enough for indies that I could find was monthly payments only. And I DO NOT rent software. Ever. If they don't let me pay just once and have it forever, then I'm not interested. This is why I still use Adobe Photoshop SC6 and not Photoshop CC. I'm not renting software, not even from my favorite companies.
Sadly, that method isn't exactly the best. It makes mistakes and needs cleanup almost every time, from what I've read.
I think I'm just going to have to bite the bullet, put off more trivial and personal purchases, and save up to make an indie-tier mocap studio out of my livingroom if I ever want to do 3D games. (Note: I'll never be one of those studios that completely toss 2D to replace it with 2.5D and 3D only.)
If I can pull it off, I'll reveal how I did it on this blog, that way other indies can make their own mocap studios.
Alright, I finally got sick of the crap and went to support to report my issues. Turns out Weebly doesn't play ball with a full browser cache, and it causes Weebly to have all sorts of big problems.
Clearing my cache seems to have solved all of my troubles. I'm saying this for the sake of people who are tempted to sign up for a Weebly account, or who already have one. If Weebly starts malfunctioning and behaving like it's riddled with bugs, it might be the cache. Clearly it and restarting the browser will probably fix it.
Which is good, because I was also having trouble getting in contact with the support team, and was literally in the middle of writing up my migration notice when I was finally able to get through to someone on the team. There was a weird form submission issue, and I couldn't use it. And the chat box wasn't responding (which may have been connectivity issues on my end.) So the title of this exact post was very nearly "Abandoning Weebly" with an explanation of my troubles followed by an announcement of my plans to start looking for a different blog service.
Thankfully that seems to have resolved absolutely all the issues I was having, because I really do like Weebly. It's a bit on the advanced side, and probably would overwhelm beginners, but it's really good otherwise. (Sure as fuck beats Tumblr, that's for damn sure.) But it's not a community-driven system (which might be for the better) I can't subscribe to other people's blogs, favorite, reblog, etc. But at the same time, if I offend the wrong people, they can't mass report me, or reblog my posts to get more of their squealing, crowing, bigoteer sheep to dogpile me.
Like that word, by the way? I've decided to stop calling them Social Justice Warriors. The term "Justice Warrior" is a little too good for them. So I'm calling them bigoteers, now. It's "bigot" with the "eers" suffix. IE: Engineer, musketeer, auctioneer, profiteer, etc. It's harder for them to wear that as a badge of honor.
Example: "I take pride in being a warrior of justice!" versus "I take pride in being a bigot!" Yeah, not going to go over well with the rest of the world.
Anyway, don't worry, I still have most of the blog post that got ruined. In a moment of sudden brilliance, saved a large portion of it to a word document, knowing Weebly would screw it up. I managed to save half. I just have to muster the fortitude to rewrite what I lost.
If you happened to see my last post, (which is now deleted) I was working on something. And Weebly, full of problems as always, didn't post it correctly, so now it's been ruined. I had to delete it. Sorry. It may be a while before I can get back to that one. It was enormous, and I lost so much of it...
I'm getting more anxious to get back to work, lately, but when I think of all the tedious work my current project needs before I can make any more real progress, I just lose all my energy. I really want to get back to work, but I still don't have the drive to do all the crap the project requires. It's tedious, and I don't handle tedium well when I'm full of drive to work on my project, let alone when I'm tired all the time and not very in the mood to do all the hard stuff.
Yep, just thinking about what I'd need to do and how taxing it would be completely put me out of the mood for developing games again. Not even starting a new project gets me excited to get to work right now. I'm afraid this may end up being a hiatus.
What's Wrong With Me?
Not completely sure. I'm tired all the time, and recently, (as recently as December), it's reached a point where I have little drive for anything, as I mentioned above. I'm starting to come to the realization that it's not just my mattress that's the issue. The mattress is an issue, I've not been mistaken, but I'm starting to get the impression that there's something else that's the matter, too. Something wrong with me. On suggestion from someone I know, I looked up thyroid problem symptoms and more than a handful of them line up.
Alright, after gathering up a list of symptoms on WebMD's Symptom Checker, Hypothyroid appeared within the top 5 most likely conditions.
Heart rhythm disorder
Medication reaction or side-effect
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFIDS)
I already know it's not medication-related, because I don't take anything nearly regularly enough for that, and I think I can rule out adult depression, because it's not constant enough, which bumps hypothyroidism into the top 3, adding anemia and Type 2 Diabetus to the top 5 list.
I've checked the Diabetes Type 2 symptoms, and I only have 2 of 13 known symptoms. I won't completely rule it out, but it's not looking likely. And only three out of the anemia ones. However, when I looked at WebMD's list of Hypothyroid symptoms, I got a longer list than whatever site I got the first ones from, and I ended up realizing that I have even more symptoms that line up with Hypothyroidism. I have 10 out of 28 total symptoms. That's still almost half, and that's after excluding ones where my answer was "well, sort of". The best the others could give me is 4 out of my 10 symptoms, and usually only covered the fatigue and depression parts.
I think it's early enough along that if I can confirm with a test and start treating it, I think I can avoid serious damage to my body. Hopefully I can pull a quick 180 and not spend months suffering this way as I recover.