Sunday, April 21, 2013

Blender Game Engine: The Choice for Beginners

Some of My Test Files
Games are fun, right? But not every game meets the standards of our fantasy game. So many people have so many great ideas. But not all ideas can be actualized. However, some try even though they have so many restrictions. They want to create something of their own. Today the amount of people trying to actualize their dreams is growing. Indie game studios start popping up left in right, either solo groups or small teams. Even though the rate of people trying to develop games is growing  rapidly, the amount of success is not keeping up with it. 
Now let me tell you about some of the trends of these failing teams before I get into the main subject of this article. (However if you want to skip this part skip to the next bolded section)
Teams that start out in High School or Early College
These teams can be successful don't get me wrong. These teams are usually started by a group of bored friends that have no "real" knowledge of how game creation works. And most do not have the real drive to finish either: learning, planning, or creating.
A whole bunch of people like the idea of an MMO that fits their needs completely, however they do not understand why no MMO fits anyone's highest needs. MMO's are big. Like Really big. Most teams don't understand how much effort goes into making  these kinds of games. There is a lot more modeling, texturing, and animating that a single player game. Not just the actual physical content is increased, but the programming and server development is the biggest issue. No game comes from gathering a group of people together and telling them to make it based off of their skills. There is a lot of money and effort that goes into R&D (Research and Development). Researching how to do these things is too much for a small group of people. So these people need to get over their pipe dreams.
Full Time workers with varying schedules 
Now this kind of team fails frequently by no fault of their own. If no one on the team can meet, then there is no time to discuss and direct each other in order to make it flow well. And there is hardly any time for private work as well.
Okay that’s out of the way, I can breath now.
Learning the Ropes
Now if you have a level head about you and realize that your first project might be crap, or at least not to your expectation, then you might be in good shape. The best way to lean the ropes of game dev is to be working on a project as you research; I think anyway. Now the things that you have to learn straight up is modeling, texturing, and animation; no matter where you go. But one of the main things that will give people a hard time is the programming. Programming is hard to do, probably he hardest for beginners and this is the thing that needs to be entered slowly.
Programming for the Newbie
Diving into learning a programming language will be extremely tough for the newcomer to do. So I suggest working with something that will smooth part of that processes over. There are some games engines that have you really just click a few buttons to make a game. This might be a good idea to do. It really just depends. But so you can get some taste of programming while hitting some buttons, I would say that Blender Game Engine is the best bet.
What is Blender?
Blender was primarily a 3D Modeling and Animation software. However, as time has went on, Blender has become more robust and has expanded it's portfolio. Blender now has nice Video Sequence editing,  3D Camera Tracking, and Motion Tracking, and a stronger game engine.
Learning Logic with Blender  

Logic Bricks
With Blender, a first time experimenter can really learn the ropes of Programming Logic, with out having to worry about language syntax. It uses things called "Logic Bricks" which you open up, choose what type of logic you will be performing, type in the variables you need and pretty much "BLAM" you have created some small feature to your game. Now there are some limitations to the specifics of what you can do, but that can be opened up with a little Python Scripting. (P.S. Python is one of the simplest languages to learn)
That's Not All It Is
Not just is Blender easy for beginning programmers, but it is fantastic for all of it's other features. The UI, to me, is very intuitive and simple (Once you learn the simple hotkeys, which are also very natural) I have tried using a few other 3D programs, but I never decided on them. I was able to get my hands on 3DS Max, (I received it from a Student because I couldn't afford it) and the UI was not very smooth to me. Because 3DS Max was so weird I did not try the Maya that was given to me since it too was made by Autodesk (So I have no real opinion on it). I also was able to beta Test a software coming out soon called "Ray Supreme". I am not allowed to give any details about it until it releases, but I can say that it was not my cup of tea either. I also tried some cheap software programs that didn't work out either. Needless to say, I stuck with Blender.
Solution for Just About Everything 
Animation Workplace
Another thing that makes Blender a perfect gamming solution is that you can run every feature you need in the same window or multiple windows with the same session. You can have UV Mapping, 3D Modeling, Node Editing, Animation Sequence Editing, Python Scripting and ..err… "Logic Bricking," all spread out over you display(s). I use two or sometimes three monitors for my work space. On one I'll have my view port, primarily through the game's camera. On another I will have my animation Sequence Editing coupled with the Logic Bricks and Python Scripts. On my Last screen I will usually have my UV Mapping with Gimp pulled up beside it or a Tutorial. When I work in Blender I usually am able to work very smoothly.
Okay, I mentioned a tutorial like two sentences ago so let me tell you something. This I would figure is the most important topic when researching for an software, documentation. The community for Blender is extremely huge. There are several different forums all with almost infinitely amount of topics posted. There are several Blogs dedicated to it. The most exciting documentation to me is the endless video tutorials. Any problem I have ever run into, I have found someone with a solution.
Now the final topic, and the one that hurts most staring developers, price. Blender has many high end features. It does not have some of the very complex abilities like some AAA engines, but it is growing, and quickly. A software with extensive documentation, amazing incorporated features, and an amazing community is defiantly worth a fair amount of money. However the value of Blender is much higher than the price asked of it, which is free.
It's Big Problems
Now I know it seems like I have been praising Blender beyond belief, but believe me I am not that big of a fan boy. There are some problems about this engine. The ability to optimally run a very high poly count is not as sufficient as others. Creating an online multiplayer game is not very likely (to my knowledge anyway). And the biggest downfall is the exporting abilities.
To fully explain the exporting problems I need to get into the licensing. As I have said before, Blender is free. How is it possible for Blender to be free? Well Blender is an open source software that several people work on for free (some people are out sourced to I believe). And these people believe that there should be a robust solution such as this that is free to all people who need it. So the licensing it was put under is called GPL (General Public License). This license allows several things that people can do: create content for free, sell content created, and even sell the software, and so on. So how does this affect the export?

Exporting Problems
Scripting Workplace
Blender exports one of two ways. You can export as a ".exe" file which is typical, or you can export as a ".blend" file. First lets talk about the ".blend" file. If the game is exported as a ".blend" file then the player needs to have Blender installed so that it can be opened. But you don't want to do that do you? That would be extremely complicated for someone to have to do to play it and it would break down the size of your audience. Well okay then, I can just export as a ".exe" file that should be good right? Wrong! If you export as a ".exe" file then the game is compiled with the Blender Player incorporated. What's wrong with that? Well this goes back to the licensing. All of you material that you create in Blender, on its own, is your content, however, once the Blender Player is incorpor
ated into your file it is instantly placed under GPL because some of the content is Blender's. This means that anybody can take your game or your files, and use it for their personal use or even sell it for their profit.
 Exporting Solutions
However there are a few ways that you can get around these problems. You can do a search for these and you can find them after some work. What these solutions are, are engines that you can import your ".blend" files into, with all your programming and physically created content and it will compile it with out the Blender Player. Some can even export to mobile devices.
That's about all I have to say on the matter. Summed up, I think Blender is a way for anyone interested in Game Development to get started. Look at it some more and see if it will work for you. And remember, there is no such thing as wasting your time. You need to learn it anyway and you need to go through problems, Blender just seems like the best bet to start out.

Pretty soon I' will post an article about some of the best games I liked that were made with Blender.

Thanks for reading, Bye!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Hyrule History is still a Mystery

For the 25 anniversary of the Legend of Zelda, Nintendo released an extensive History of Hyrule and was published by Dark Horse Comics. Not to long after the initial release, the English speaking world was able to get our hands on what could be called, the greatest history book of all time!


The purpose of Hyrule Historia was to finally come out and tell every person who had worked rigorously to try and create a legit and fulfilling timeline of the Zelda games that they can now give up because salvation is here. I mean these people worked hard and had amazing and complex explanations, and then Nintendo decided to come out and screw over all of these hard working 40 year old virgins that have way to much time on there hands.


Now let it be known that I am not forty, so my nerdiness may be slightly excused. And this is not a new, opposing timeline theory, but this is simply a commentary on some of the problems with what Nintendo released.

If you didn't realize this before, or even if you have, you probably are thinking, "WTF Nintendo. What's wrong with you! Why can't you do anything right!?!" In response let me tell you this. Nintendo has never had a timeline planned. They randomly created stories around the general theme of Zelda. The only Chronology they have had were direct sequels and some loose connections with Ocarina of Time. You can look at early explanations of the Timeline that Nintendo released near the beginning while there were only four games out, and it does not suggest the idea Nintendo tells us now.
Inconsistencies in Sword Mythology
The Changing Sword
  • Master Sword (In Manga)
  • Goddess Sword
  • Master Sword
  • Pickori Blade
  • Four Sword
  • Master Sword again
  • Four Sword Again
How and why is it that the supposed legendary blade
Underwent so many different changes with powers and
Different background lore. One could think that these
were just different blades altogether. One could also
believe that these are all the same blade. Which is what
The Official Nintendo Zelda History suggests. However,
with this thought we run into a lot of problems.
In the Manga in "Hyrule Historia," the Goddess Hylia
Brings the blade forged by the gods, the Master Sword.
This Sword was made to be Evil's Bane. However, the blade
First needed to be reformed by mortals in order to be used.
(We'll get back to that point in a moment)
In Skyward sword, there is the Goddess Sword that
eventually turns into the Master Sword, but no explanation
as to how this transformation happened from Master Sword
to Goddess Sword before the Events in Skyward Sword but
still after the Manga.
In Minish cap, the Legendary Blade was called the
Pickori blade. No mention of the name master sword
In Four Sword, the blade is named Four Sword, with no
Mention of an item called the "Master Sword" again.
Then In Ocarina of Time, the blade is finally named the
"Master Sword." With two games and hundreds of years
Then later on in the chronology the "Four Sword" comes
up as if nothing ever happened.
Solution Theories For the Screwed Up Sword
First we will start with the "evidence" that suggests how these blades cannot be different items.
  • The Pickori Blade cannot be said to be anything other than the Master Sword. At the Beginning of "Minish Cap" the legend of the origin of the Blade is told and fits a general profile of the Master Sword descending to the Surface.
  • The Four Sword can be called the Master Sword because Four Swords is the direct sequel (according to the Official Timeline) to Minish Cap. So Link would use the same blade to defeat Vaati again.
Now the problems. If these are all the same, why is it that they have different powers and properties from each other.
  1. Bringing up the story in the Manga again, about how The Master Sword had to be reformed by mortals so it could be used. Perhaps somewhere in-between the vast amount of years that segregates the games, someone or something reformed the Blade into a new fashion making it a new type of blade. That would explain why at the beginning of Skyward Sword, the Master Sword was not fully at it's potential. Being called the Goddess Sword.
  2. You could say that different Links unlock different properties in the Sword. Even comparing games that use the Master Sword you can see this. In Skyward Sword it could shoot Sword Beams and it could douse for items. In Ocarina of Time it was able to make an "Energy Slash" with the spin attack. In Wind Waker it was able to break the barrier separating Gannon's Tower from Hyrule Castle. 
The problem with A is that at the end of the Child Timeline, the Four Sword comes back up again, and the problem with B is that there is no explanation for why the Master Sword was not at it full potential and being called the Goddess Sword at start.
Inconsistences with Landscapes and Cities
  1. Great Deku Tree
  2. Temple of Time/Temple of Goddess
  3. Castle Town
  4. Sacred Grove
These are all really important places in Legend of Zelda Mythos, but why are they always moving and even changing their purpose? As said before, Nintendo did not think through these problems, mainly because they were not important to them. They knew that these games were linked together in some fashion of chronology, but each game was more of a reimagining than it was a continuation of a story. This is why all of these memorable areas changed locations, and even purposes, from game to game. If Hyrule was to be static throughout the saga, then it would eventually become bland.

Now let's try to look at these as clearly as possible. I'll start with describing Ocarina of Time. I will use this as the centerboard since this is the most well know game. In Ocarina of Time, The Temple of Time is located near the market area of Castle Town. The deity of the Great Deku Tree is located in the forest which is, theoretically, miles away from the Castle. Lastly, the Sacred Grove is nowhere to be found, or even mentioned.
In Skyward Sword, the Castle Town is not yet founded because there is no kingdom (but I did not need to mention that did I).There is no deity of the Great Deku Tree. And the Temple of the Goddess is located in the sky but descends to the surface in the wooded areas of the Sealed Grounds.
In Twilight Princess there is no deity of the Great Deku Tree. The Temple of Time is located in the wooded providence, as only ruins. Link travels through time in order to enter into the Ancient Temple of Time so that he may retrieve the Master Sword. Hyrule Castle is located far away from the forest still.
In Wind Waker the deity of the Great Deku Tree Sprout lives. There is no Sacred Grove, or any resemblance. The Castle is located deep under the Great Sea, with the Master Sword held inside. 
Solution for the Mix-up
In the manga of Hyrule Historia, which sets off the entire "Legend of Zelda" the Goddess Hylia brings the Master Sword to her people, it is used to fight off evil and as the source of power that sends the land of Skyloft into the air. In Skyloft the Sword rests in the Statue of the Goddess. After the island holding the Statute of the Goddess descends, the Sword is placed back into the Statue.
This states as a literal and symbolic sealing on the evil that was the Demon King Demise. With this important symbol, you could assume that the Master Sword was to always remain in this location when it is to remain idle. There is another idea that could be said about this, and I will touch on that in a moment.
Okay, so we are going to say that the Master Sword always remains in the same location. Starting with the Temple of the Goddess. That eventually faded away with time, and the Temple of Time was built in its place by the Sage Rauru.
On the Adult Timeline, after Ocarina of Time, since Hyrule Castle was destroyed during the final fight between Link and Gannon, the Castle needed to be rebuilt. With that being the fact, they should have built it over the Temple of Time. Fearing hat an Evil might arise again it would make since to built the mostly impenetrable Castle around the dwelling of the Legendary Blade. And this is were Link finds it in WindWaker, in the basement of the Castle. And that is the last time the Master Sword appears on that side of he timeline.
Now on the Child Timeline side, the Master Sword, during Twilight Princess, is found in The Sacred Grove. As you find out in the Story, that Sacred Grove turns out to be the remains of the Temple of Time. The Sacred Grove here lays in the Forest. You might assume that this is just where the Temple once stood, However there is no Castle. And there is evidence that these woods are the same as the Lost Woods. There is a Very Large Tree, which inside contains the Forest Temple. This could be the remnant of the Great Deku Tree Sprout. If that is so, then how is the Master Sword so close to the Forest. It could not be, simply put.
I am going to try to keep this clear, but to settle this particular subject about the Sword, I now need to cover the problems with The Great Deku Tree. As we know, the Great Deku Tree exists in the Forest. The  "Huge'' Tree in Twilight Princess exists in the Forest but does not exist as a Deity, or any strong evidence that it is the Deku Tree Sprout. Also, in Skyward Sword there is a great Tree that exists on the Forest. It is said that people would come to the tree to receive blessings. With that lore that exists, during or before the time of Skyward Sword, it is shown that this tree was divine. So this might be the Deku Tree before it evolved into a deity. It is also in close relation to where the Sword rested. However He does not exists close to the Castle in Ocarina of Time. The only explanation that fits our restrictions would be that these are not related to the Deku Tree in any way other than coincidental, visual similarity. The Great Deku Tree must have just been created at a later point in time to protect the region just like the governing spirits in Twilight Princess.
Now we have it explained that the Great Deku exists in only two games, Ocarina of Time and WindWaker. The forests in the different games, are different forests altogether, which have grown up and been torn down several times. And so there is nothing that hurts our idea that the Master Sword always remains in the same place when idle. Also it should be said that the Sacred Grove is just where any Temple that the Sword was housed in that has fallen around.
I hope that was clear enough to follow.
What else is brewing
We've covered the main problems and probably the most interesting subjects, but let us go over a few more inconsistencies just for fun.
What's with the Triforce? The Deities? The Spirits? The Goddesses? And that other Triangle?
Okay, the Golden Goddesses created the world, each one played a different role in creation. Upon there, assumed, permanent withdrawal, the Triune Triangles were left behind. Now I am sure that during their creation process they created the different governing Deities, but why were their so many different Spirits and Divine Beings through out the games. Almost all of these beings clam to be appointed by the gods long ago. So…. Why were they not around at the beginning of History.
Were they created later on in the Legend? But wait, I thought the Goddesses withdrew from the world and let it rock to its own beat. So did all of these powerful guys and gals just have these ridiculous complexes? Here's one idea: perhaps these beings evolved from a former state into these elevated states, acquiring the enlightenment of their divinely appointed purpose. Perhaps this could be it: the Deities in this universe do not exists as we might believe a god would. These lesser gods may be mortal. And after their death they are reborn into a new existence. However those things cannot be explained, nor are they very pertinent.
Now what is that fourth triangle everyone is stalking about. There is a pretty popular theory out there about the "Teraforce" alright, if you didn't know the Triforce was named that for a reason, then you are pretty retarded. 'Tri" means three, so "Tetra" means four. You can see on the Hylian shield, that there is another triangle placed under the Royal Crest of the big red bird. (which by the way, is linked to the big red Lifting Link flew in Skyward Sword) This triangle is pointing downward, as if it could fit into the empty area between the Triangles of the Triforce.
The Tetraforce Theory
Before Skyward Sword was released, this theory did not seem very valid because everything could be explained away. Let me mention that first. Like I said, people believed that this separate triangle
represented another God. Trying to explain this thought they looked for other gods they could relate it to.
The Goddess of the Sand:
We all know about the mysterious Statue of the Temple in the Desert of the Gerudos. They claimed that this was the hidden goddess. However, why would the Gerudo tribe know of it's existence and not the Great Deku Tree himself. It could be explained away as just some idol that they invented or more likely it is the Goddess of Power Din. This makes a lot of sense seeing as how Gannondorf was accepted as the chosen one of Power.
The Goddess of Time:
During Majora's mask, once Link retrieves his ocarina from Skull Kid, he remembers Zelda telling him as he leaves Hyrule "Call on the Goddess of Time when you are in need and she will guide you" or something of the sort. However, this easily could be understood as the Goddess of Law, Nayrau, who created the laws of reality.
The Fierce Deity:
This is not a theory I have read but it is one I have entertained. The Fierce Deity is a character one taps into in Majora's Mask. Now this is not very plausible but it could be reasoned that the missing counter part of the Triforce should be a male. However, how could an almighty god be contained inside a humble mask.
The goddess Hylia:
Now with the release of Skyward Sword this theory has a chance to survive. The goddess Hylia is someone that we never knew until this game. Although we never hear anything about this Goddess, it would make since that at least a small Triangle would remain through the ages. Now this small golden triangle is not a physical object, but a representation about the importance or even power of the Goddess of the chosen People. Also, at the beginning of Manish Cap, the opening scene talks about the Sword brought from the sky, and the Light Force, which is shown to be one Triangle.
I could go on and on about these Zelda topics, but I want to stop here. As I have said, I hope this was clear, and semi-easy to follow. So now that you know Nintendo is just making it up as they go along, and that they now have a fully canonical document that cannot be superseded, does not mean that the theories that we create are unimportant. In fact, it is quite on the contrary. Our theories are more important than ever. Because we, the avid fans of this series, are no longer responsible to create the bias of the narrative flow anymore, now we are responsible for fixing Nintendo's short comings with their continuity. The game was made for us, and we'll play it how ever we want.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Crazy Tower Defense 3D

Hello all indie and mobile gamers! Boy do I have a nice one for you. Well if you enjoy puzzle or Tower games it is a nice one for you. However, I will say this: I am not a "Tower" fan, and when I was asked to review this game I was a little iffy on how I would like it, but this game really did ignite a flame inside that has the urge to consume this newly enjoyed game genre. By consume, I don't mean like destroy, I mean play a whole bunch of. Don't mistake what I said as something negative…cause it's not!
Crazy Defense was created by a small company named Etorki Games. It consists of three members in the  Basque Country located north of Spain. As one of the members, Pablo, tells me, Crazy Defense is Etorki Games' first game, and was made as a type of "test." This is not a game one would assume is an "armature practice." This feels like a quality game made by professionals, and that is what it precisely is.
Let me get into the review of the game itself.
This game is definitely an old man's acid trip. The story actually starts off that way as well. I wont go into detail with the story, if you want that then you can watch the video review on our channel (I'll have an embedded player at the bottom here).
The Towers:
The Towers of this game really feel like you are in the mind of the drugged out Looney Bin patient. There are three basic towers to choose from, which each have a few upgradeable options. There is the simple box used to retard enemy movement and with some money that can transformed into the towers that you will actually use as you defense: the Venus Fly Trap, the Looney Patient, and the Shooter. The Fly trap will chop on enemies near it, or if upgraded can shoot land enemies with in a certain radius. The crazy man can crash down on the ground, whack at enemies, or fling them back away from their objective. And the Shooter can fire away at those really desperate enemies that decided to use jet packs to fly over the tripped out battle field.
Survival Mode:
You objective in this game is to keep your enemies, which are nurses and doctors, from entering into the room you are hiding out in. You are given twenty lives which drop down every time an enemy slips passed your defenses. You are also given a small amount of money at the beginning of the game so that you my buy a few towers and upgrade them. After your towers kill an enemy, you earn a few more bucks so you may buy more. And after every wave the enemies become more abundant and more difficult. This game mode lasts for over a hundred waves and trying to think of new ways to beat this game mode gives plenty of replay value.
Strategy Mode:
With strategy mode, you are given a few towers that you must arrange within a short time limit. You need to arrange these based on the types of enemies that you will face and what direction they are coming from. You do not get any more towers than what you are given, so you better make sure you made it were those nurses suffer a hideous death at the hand of your hallucinations.
Box Challenge:
This one is very tricky. You do not kill the nurses on this mode. On this mode you have to arrange the towers, which are just simple, non-upgradeable boxes, in a fashion that will change the enemies movement to make them take long enough so that they will not reach the corridor within the time limit. I guess the reason you do not kill them in this mode is because your not high enough to create the different crazy towers. So you just keep them away for long enough so that you can get doped up for another round.
Have you ever played Plants verses Zombies, well I have and I loved it. Now a mode that I enjoyed greatly was when the roles were reversed and you played as the zombies. However there was never enough levels for that mode. Well Pac-Dan mode is where the roles are reversed just like what I was talking about with Plants verses Zombies . However, in this mode there are plenty of levels to enjoy, and they are a nicely complex and simple, and difficult enough to keep you busy for a while.
And what I mean by reversed is you are actually playing as the old man and you try to go around collecting your pills while running from the staff.
Now here is my overall rating for the game:
The control scheme was pretty straight forward, a little frustrating at times trying to move towers.
(4 out of 5)
The art style was nice and detailed for an Android game, but also very cute.
There was a fair amount of content to this. A fair amount of levels. It will defiantly keep you entertained longer than angry birds.
Game Play, Majority of the puzzles were great, but for some of them, the difficulty level didn’t seem to match the level on which you unlocked it.
And the price of this is free, which makes any game better when you don’t have to pay for it. But just for kicks, I would say I would pay 2 to 5 bucks for it, seeing as how it is an android game.
Overall = 4.3/5
So download this game for sure and give it a go! If you liked this review then subscribe to this blog and out YouTube channel. There is a link below here for the video Review of this game. Thank you for reading and goodbye.