Kessler Chaos

Lately I’ve been working on a mod for Kerbal Space Program.

It’s all about Kessler Syndrome, where orbiting junk can cause deadly collisions in space. You might not think that losing a screw is a big deal, but even a tiny screw can cause big damage when it is travelling at 10000 kilometers per second.

Grab the mod over at the ksp forums.


Games for the virtual reality resurgence

The Occulus Rift is a virtual reality headset coming out a couple of years or so. Their kickstarter is already successful and the re-release of Doom 3 (BFG Edition) will support the rift. But what kind of games will this thing, and VR in general, be best for?

flight sim on many monitors

Flight sim photo by wlodi

First on the list are driving and flight sims. Sim fans already spend loads of cash on multiple screens and shiny head tracking gadgets. A relatively cheap VR headset like this is a no-brainer for them. It works well because both the player and their in game avatar are in the same position – seated, immobile, and holding a steering wheel / joystick. There is little to break the immersion.

I’m hopeful that this could also lead a resurgence in a dead genre – space flight combat games. X-Wing vs TIE Fighter 2 anyone?

Any game shot in first person will probably work well, but the nature of the beast will mean a few incongruities. Natural head movement and vision is great until you combine it with gamepad or mouse and keyboard controls. Wiimote style position tracked controllers or kinect style full body tracking might be a step in the right direction, but you are still tethered to the computer via a cable. I wonder how many headsets (or people’s necks) will be broken when their owners lose themselves in the game and bump into real world space constraints?

For the love of all things, don’t let Frictional Games (makers of Amnesia the Dark Descent) get their hands on one of these, players will literally shit themselves or die from a heart attack.

Those are the good applications for existing genres, but what new ideas might work in this system?

My first thought is “player as Godzilla”. Replace with “player as giant robot / mech / king kong” as your fetish dictates. Use full body tracking and have fun kicking down office blocks and swatting attack choppers like flies (sidenote: if that sounds like fun, go play roar rampage). Make it two player and have some Godzilla vs Megalon fun while you are at it. Giant things are giant and lumbering for a reason, so force the player to move slowly or make them fall over (in game). This will also minimise full body tracking’s main downfall, the high latency between real world movement and in game response.

Another pitfall due to the uncanny valleyness of VR is the lack of physical feedback. Without such sensations the player may feel disembodied. I say run with that and make the player a ghost in the game, perhaps with the goal of spooking the residents of your haunted house. Other forms of disembodiment would also work well, such as the hacking in Dystopia.

Those are my ideas, what would you do with VR?

Who would throw out an arcade cabinet?

Coming home the other day something caught my eye. I braked hard, then swung the car around. My 3 passengers must have thought I was crazy, but I’d struck gold on the roadside trash mine.

Arcade cabinet

A sad arcade cabinet sitting out on the footpath.

Who would do such a thing? Don’t they know how much people kill for old arcade cabs?

With sinking heart I realised I didn’t have the space for it, and even if I did, it would probably sit as an unfinished project for years. But what to do? I mean, this being Melbourne, it would surely start raining at any moment. To the internet!

I posted the info where someone in the know would find it; overclockers australia and reddit. Someone on ocau spread the news to aussie arcade, where it found a good home. Have fun playing it whoever you are!

Internet 1, rain 0.

Open Morrowind

Wow. I am constantly amazed at the ambition of open source developers working for free. Below is a video from the OpenMW people, who are attempting to create an open source version of Morrowind (Elder Scrolls). They are taking a commercial game they love and implementing it from the ground up in a new engine. So all the coding needs to be done, but the art assets, writing, quests and so forth can be taken from the normal game. All so we get a version that can easily run on any operating system, with a better interface, more hackability and prettier graphics.

I hope they the same with the oblivion engine so I can run Nehrim on it (and Fallout while we are at it).

Zenimax, you’re doing it wrong

Apparently there is going to be an elder scrolls MMO. Sigh. What I really want is co-op elder scrolls. So multiplayer, without the “massive” part of the acronym.

The great thing about the elder scrolls games (Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim) is the sense of being in the world, exploring it, and making your own story. You can do that by yourself. You can do that with one or two friends in co-op. You can’t do that in an MMO. When random strangers barge in, call you a newb, shout “LFG” etc, it breaks the sense of place. There will be so much metagaming, that the rest will be lost.

Other people are better at getting the point across than me

As a follow up to the nerds and sexism thing, go read this.

I will pause now for the traditional arguments from my readers: these characters are all femme fatales in the comics, all of the characters in the Arkham games are over-the-top, the men are just as exaggerated/sexualized/objectified as the women. Got all of that out of your systems? Good.

Because that reaction is exactly what I’m talking about.

Y’see, one of the issues of male privilege as it applies to fandom is the instinctive defensive reaction to any criticism that maybe, just maybe, shit’s a little fucked up, yo.

Keep reading at kotaku.

Also this:

From the peeps at shortpacked.