Space Ballz 0.47

No game changes...just new art!

Space Ballz 0.46 (fixed to 0.45)

NOTE: There was a bug with the installer for 0.45. Please use 0.46

Considering I have no ability to keep a promise to NOT code for a weekend - here is an updated build of Space Ballz!

  • 5 new levels to show off the potential range
  • Customized spawn % for each level
  • An awesome new background by Mike Balcerzak (thanks again buddy!)
  • Updated instructions (like any of you are reading them)
  • When you have one ball and right click to cash in - you'll drop the ball (like having bad ballz)
Any and all feedback is welcome. Shoot me an email at or leave a comment. "I hate this game and anyone who made it" are totally valid comments.

Space Ballz 0.4!

Many new things await ye to look inside!

  • Sounds! Sounds! Sounds!
  • New art provided by the amazing Mike Balzerzak...I think I spelled that wrong!
  • Spawn odds - when you start a chain for next few waves of turret fire that color will be increase in likely hood of neing shot out - after your chain gets to a certain size it will go back down and become even less likely to spawn then normal
  • One single better balance tutorial level
New things coming up:
  • A redesigned 1st level and 3 new levels
  • Better explanation on game rules
  • Ability to dump a single ball as a "bad ballz" so you can start a new chain

Big Ballz Bouncy Soon

I have a big update coming to the stay tuned!

Space Ballz 0.35

Just put up an updated to 0.3.

  • Delayed the "x/y" score update effect so it happens a little bit after your ballz break and you see how much that was worth.
  • Made sure when you beat the level that the timer text was properly formated (was showing raw seconds remaining).
Thanks for watching :)

Space Ballz 0.3!

Start your weekend right by hitting some ballz into the wallz!

New features are:

  • Vastly increased speed (almost 200% increase) for ship
  • Increased turn response time for ship (when rotating to meet mouse)
  • Default camera is pulled back a littler further for better comfort
  • Timer corrected to display minutes / seconds
  • When you score points (or just try to right click) you will get a text effect that shows your current score and the goal score
  • every 30 seconds a text effect will appear to show you remaining time
  • Make sure to try the second level (hit N if you are lazy)
As always, please hit me up with feedback! I'll be working on a more traditional installer soon!

Have a safe weekend folk'lls!

Space Ballz 0.2!

This new version includes some pretty nice changes:

  • Like the previous version, the balls have been slowed down (about 50% slower)
  • The power of a ball/ship collision has been reduced - you should bounce less
  • Cannons now fire at a random interval between 15-25 seconds. Each time they fire they will find a new random time to fire.
  • There is now a new level (total of 2)
  • The 'N' key can now be used to auto-win a level and skip the next one
  • The HUD has been updated
  • Proper winning/losing conditions have been setup. You have X time to get the Goal amount of points.
  • Force Emitters (the green circles) are in level 2. These will shoot any balls or the ship towards the direction of the arrow on the circle.
So with this new and improved proto, I'm looking for how difficulty of beating the 2 levels and trying to balance the games current mechanics before adding any new ideas.

Thanks again for all the early feedback! Keep it coming!

Space Ballz 0.1

I'll update this post in a bit but there is a new proto up with some improvements!

Who is Space Ballz?

As always we open with a screen shot.

Space Ballz is revamp # 3 on my journey to make a friggin game. I'm feeling pretty good about this design. I've got this obsession with crossing puzzle games with more reflex based games and the so far titled "Space Ballz" is just that.

So here's whats going on: Your goal in every level is to score a set amount of points in a given amount of time (the time part is not implemented yet). To score points, you need to steer your ship into the colored balls being shot around the enviroment. As you collide with balls they are put into a chain behind you. Now you can cash them in for points - simply right click and all the balls will break and you will earn points if they are all the same color. The moment you collect a ball that is not the same color as the ones in your chain all the balls will be tossed back into the enviroment. You need at least 2 balls to score any points but the amount you earn increases drastically with each ball in the chain - so your risk is that you could lose everything while potentially getting a killer chain.

What we've got here is the basics to the game. Once I get the timer part implemented (for the next proto that is task #1) then I'll try to put out a few levels. So for now, focus on the controls and tell me what you think!

Space Ballz!

I'll give more details later, but there is a proto for a new design I'm working on. Its Heavy + Luxor...if that makes ANY sense...

Thx for the givins

Well the holidays are getting pretty darn close to wrapping up. At this point, I have about one more day left. Sadly our flight is at 5:30 am from Fort Wayne to Detroit (and then to Philly by 9). While this early timing sucks in terms of the amount of sleep we will be getting, it is actually kind of nice to have a full day back before hitting work on Monday. Definetly need some down time to (apologize for the words) flush the system.

Another reason to look forward to Sunday is some time with L4D2 (still awesomin) and also enjoy a nice $34 copy of Borderlands (for PC). Steam launched some awesome deals for the holidays and Borderlands was on sale for %33. Bless Steam :)

I've been interested in Borderlands for awhile but after being hurt so bad by Hellgate London and its utter failure to fufilll its promises of merging FPS and Action RPG gameplay together, I am pretty hesitant. I've heard three pretty convincing arguments - 1 of which indicated that playing solo was pretty fun. Hopefully my PC won't have too many issues playing it. I'm looking forward to using the Soldier class and mastering the wasteland critters with my turret of doom. Good god I'm a nerd :)

In other news, I'm still working on my side project. I did an overhaul recently to the graphics system allowing me to do some more fun effects with my GUI. This slowed me down from real production for a bit but I think in the long run it'll pay off. To keep you all informed, the new 'prototype' that I hope to put up later this week is the same controls as Heavy but now you are trying to collect colored balls that come out of cannons placed in the level. Once you collect six balls, you earn points for linear 'matches' in your collection. The objective in each level is to get a set score as fast as possible to progress to the next level.

What I'm waiting for is making sure that all the primary game logic is working, putting in just enough visual/sound effects to get the basic feedback in, and at least 3 levels to show of potentials for design. Hopefully I can get something up to you all soon.

For the Party Poopers...

If you are in the camp that thinks there is no difference between L4D1 and L4D2, here's a f**k you from me to you.

Just kidding..but seriously..I go the chains in the back.


I just played the first campaign (Dead Center) by myself.

That was the single most amazing time I've ever had in an action game ever. It was so good that I wanted to cry tears of awesomeness over and over again.

And that was just on normal.


Looking for ideas

I want to take Heavy's control mechanics and cross it with a simple puzzle game (like match 3, etc) to end up with a hybrid genre thing.

Anyone have any ideas?


I'm killing ARZ. After working on it during the weekend, I became increasingly frustrated at the direction the game was going. I was running out of steam on how to develop it and to be honest, I just lacked the knowledge to pull off a game like this. So after spending some serious emotional down time trying to figure out what I'm going to do for a side project, I came up with the idea of Heavy.

Off to the side, you will see a new section for Heavy - this is a new side-scrolling game I'm working on that uses the ARZ code base. You'll notice in this demo that several assets/text are the same. I haven't really updated every piece yet but you will be able to see the idea.

In Heavy, you pilot a small spaceship through a maze to and get to the exit. To move the ship, simply use the mouse to make him look where you want to go and press the left mouse button. Your ship will then burst forward but you will need to wait a bit before you can burst again. Getting in you way are cannons that shoot "heavy" - a black ooze that sticks to your ship and will slowly weigh you down. To get rid of heavy, simply slam your ship into the walls. This will wipe it off ya (maybe after a few rams) and then you can get back on track.

So grab the demo and try it out. Tell me what you think of the controls which is my primary focus for now.

I'll go into it later why I chose this game, right now my fingers are tired from pretty much a 3-day non-stop code jam to figure this out.

Level design is the hard

First off, a new update is available (0.61). This version includes 2 new levels where I'm trying to actually get the game focused. Its still a longs way off. There is definitely some focus missing but I must not get too down hearted. Got to see this thing through :)

Drop me some feedback if you get a chance.

Proto 0.6! Long Live Emitters!

Yup. I lied. I said before I was going to be working hardcore on a small set of levels and really "balance" the game and NOT result in programming more stuff. Yeah I completely lied. After brainstorming for a few days I could not get over certain aspects of the game - the big one that stuck out was how the game was turning more into this click fest and less about simple puzzles/strategies - which for me makes levels easier to design (when there are clear cut 'solutions').

So my issues with the game come from this: You have to keep "upkeeping" the emitters since they die after awhile and you can more or less create tons of them as long as your meter stays up. So to drastically change this, I've made emitters last forever but you power no longer recharges. Instead each emitter costs 1 pt and will give you 1 pt back when you kill it - thats right, you can now kill emitters. When they come up you will see a bright spot in the center, click it and the emitter dies and will give the 1 pt back. Press spacebar to kill all emitters and get all your power back.

While the levels have not be redesigned, this new scheme is going to make it a HELLUVA lot easier to brainstorm levels since now it can be about limiting power and forcing players to evaluate their decisions more...oh crap. That means level specific power info...or does it?

Anyhoos, download and play and get back to me! I'll be working on levels with any freetime I have this weekend.

Poop Sockin!

I'll get to the title but first, some book keeping!

I haven't posted an update to ARZ recently because of an extended break. Laura and I went home last weekend and just before that I squeezed in the new directional emitter feature and then decided to call it off. This was coupled with the trip and then upon coming home, Torchlight's release. Once again, I'll get to that in a bit. As for the game, I'm starting back up and this time I'm going to focus on simple thing: level balance. This is all about getting one level to be truly represenative of all the known gameplay mechanics (or at the very least the core mechanics). This is going to require me putting down my programmer hat (as in I think everything can be solved by smarter coding) and attempting to "act" like a designer. I think at this point, all the elements are there but they need to be put together an more complete package. The first bit to this will be setting up a proper lose condition. Right now, you can simply sit back and have every single enemy go through the D point and then you'll happily move on to the next level. There is no consequence besides knowing that enemies got through. So now I'm going to make it where you can actually lose. Once you start each level, you will be given a set amount of life. This is a % of the total # of enemies that will be spawned in that level. If at least that many get through, you will lose and get booted back to restart the current level. I'll set it up so that you will want to get through all the known levels and this time it won't loop them.

The idea is improve the game as is then add more if necessary. I am pretty crappy at level design so if anyone has any ideas based on the protos you've played - please drop me a line.

Now for the explanation. Poop Sockin comes from the long-since defunct podcast GFW Live. In simple terms, it means playing the hell out of a game in a short period. I've been poop sockin Torchlight like no tommorow. For those who don't know, its an Action RPG by the folks who were making Mythos before Flagship (owners of the properity) shutdown. The regrouped and formed Runic Games who put out Torchlight in 11 months(!). The game is a phenomenal return to what made Diablo 2 so damn good but is geared towards a more casual approach (leveling is very fast and in the end the game is not meant to be played that long). It also 20 friggin bucks. So what do you have to lose?

I just pre-ordered L4D2 today and grabbed early access to the demo. I don't get it. I don't understand how Valve takes elements we see in so many games and makes it feel like we've never ever done them until this moment. I've shot so many zombies in so many games or at least I thought I had. L4D2 redefines what it means to shoot a zombie. Words really can't capture it so imagine me jumping up and down and getting really loud. What they have done to improve this game is just staggering. Every part of the game makes for one of the most visceral experiences I've ever had in an FPS. I've already put in my "husband day off" notice with Laura. Now I just need some badass stereo headphones (with mic) for my pc. I need to heard that sax blair when they zombies come out to play.

Torchlight Tuesday


Hot Arrow Fix!

Found a small bug in the "engine" that caused Spawn Warning Arrows to stop working after the first level. Fixed this up and also increased the alpha level for the arrows on the emitters. Check it out in 0.52!

Hot Fix!

Small bug with 0.5 caused Dampener (3) to crash the game. Addressed it and you can download 0.51. Sorry!

Thanks to Grant Shonkwiller for the heads up.


Hey everyone! I'm pretty damn psyched about this new update. I've changed the nature of the emitters in the game for this new release so lets get into it!

So the new proto (0.5) introduces a whole new scheme. Emitters are now fixed so they cannot grow in size by holding now. Instead you can now apply a direction to the green emitters (the repulsors bound to 1). When you click, you can now hold down and drag the mouse around to set the direction of the new emitter. When you let go it will create it as normal. Now when enemies touch the emitter, they will go in the direction of the arrow attached to the meter. You still need at least 1 point of power to create an emitter. The direction will not effect the Attractor or Dampener, which pull in / slow down all enemies that touch em.

I am hoping that this new scheme will give the game a more tactical/puzzle feel. You can set up emitters to create long arrangements to shove enemies into a trap or wall. So give it a shot and tell me what you think!

Oh also, there is a seceret nasty bug that I'm having trouble reproducing. If the game does crash, please shoot me a line....well shoot me a line in general!

Metal and Nats

So here is the awaited weekend demo. This new version (0.4) features 1 new level and 2 new enemies.

The "Burster" (working title) is a extremely fast and small little annoying thing. I have them coming in big hordes that move fast. Catch with these guys is the have low hit points and take crazy high damage from wall collisions. So pound in the wall (hehehehe).

The Metal Zombies are slow moving and are quick to slow down (so throwing them back is tricky). They are completely invulnerable to wall collisions so you need to take them out with traps.

I lowered the lifespan of the Green Repulsor. You won't be able to simply cover the Defend Point - your energy will drain faster then you can deal (at least I am pretty sure).

The older two levels haven't been reworked but now that I did some major overhauls on the basic code (including adding layout loading for Sprites/Text - useful for GUI junk) and adjust the camera, I want to get to work on more direct gameplay tuning. I'll be trying to balance all three levels or scrapping em and producing some new ones based on feedback.

So take a look and tell me what you think!


Roughly 1 week from release:

This is a simple, polished-looking Action RPG. The more I looked into the team and how they come off in interviews, the more I'm digging it. Seems like an honest game good-times-had-by-all game.

New Camera and HUD

So a quick update - the new build (0.36) has a new camera system. You can use the mouse wheel to zoom in/out and now holding down the right mouse button and dragging will pan the camera (rather then clicking like before). I also threw in a better HUD graphic to make the numbers at the top make more sense. Going to be working on a new level soon. Hit me up with your feedback on the camera!

Weekend Update

First off, congrats to my older brother The Raj. He dun got engaged.

Second, I'm gonna sneak some time in this weekend to work on the camera. Lots o Feedback is declaring that it is the suck. I'm also going to try and sneak a new level in.

Third, Torchlight is now on Steam for pre-order. Go hack and slash for 17.99 on Oct 27th.

Attack of the Robo Zombies 0.3


I've got a new demo up on the side there (Proto 0.3) that you and delve into. I added some more temp graphics to smooth out the look of the game but the bigger feature is a new level that shows off using traps to kill enemies. I'm thinking the game should be more focused on the idea of "herding" versus randomly spamming each zombie you see.

I've also added a new scoring mechanic which I hope to polish more down the road. So every time you kill an enemy, you gain 1 point but that is increasd by the current multiplier. Right now every kill grants you a +1 to the multiplier. This will reset to 1 after 5 seconds so its in your best interest to kill as many guys as close as possible (or save 1 while you kill a few others to net a high score).

I think there are a few bugs with it which I will look into later. Give it a go!

Ready when you are

While I'm fairly sure many of you could probably care less, I have noticed that there has been very few updates with ARZ. Originally I intended to do at least one feature (or parts of a feature) a night but with work and a few crazy things going on at home, this hasn't been the case.

The biggest issue with me not updating has really been about my gaming drive being down. When I do hobby stuff, I need a strong sense of..well of guilt really. I like to have a game or games that I find so much joy in playing I'll put aside my other tasks and after I do sink some time into them, I'm feeling guilty and want to get some work done. While this sounds sad, really it makes for some strong enthusiasm. I play a game, get jazzed up remembering why I want to do this hobby stuff in the first place and then go back and do it. If the gaming gets pulled or becomes sparse, then I start to lose any will to want to work on my hobby stuff. Actually it is kind of sad but in the end its a system that works for me.

As for the title of the post, my new "juice" has been Wolfenstein for 360. Hot damn is this game good. I snagged the demo and really wasn't thinking much of if when I fired it up. After about 3 or 4 times going through it, I knew I was gonna be hooked. I never really played the CoD series so to me, all this intense fire fight action is brand new. The game has my "core" likes with any action game - tight firefights where I get to choose what I do, upgrades, and visiting familiar enviroments. Apparently the Best Buy copy is $10 cheaper and comes with the flamethrower download code. The weapon really is horribly unfair in the early game but there is nothing more satisfying then getting surrounded in a house by Nazis and hearing them yell out that they are coming in. My reply as I switch to the flamethrower and point at the front door is always "Ready when you are"

So now that I have juice properly filled into my gaming veins, its time to spend it. While there is a list of things to add to ARZ to help solidfy the core gameplay, I think the best thing to do now is establish greater context. To accomplish this, I'm going to get a level "play list" going which let you try out a set of levels and then record your scores against the high scores so far. This will helpfully let all the folks testing the game get a better idea of what they/the game needs to improve on. I'm aiming for about 3-4 levels but first I'll need that Level the laboratory!

Chaos Rising

I'm going to be covering some of my notes for new features to add to ARZ. I think with the addition of traps, it may be time to go back and clean up the games interface - give it more of a real HUD but I think I want to sort out a better level first.

So to put aside ARZ for a moment, I'm very pumped about the annoucnment of Chaos Rising for Dawn of War 2 (DoW2). Being a long-time fan of the 40k universe as well as the game itself, I'm very pumped to see Relic adding a new faction and even more so, a whole new campaign. For those not in the know, DoW2 Single Player game brought a whole new level to RTS awesomeness. Instead of just mission after mission of building a group up and moving through the map, DoW2 added the a constant group of units you command, upgrade, and equip through each mission (that you get to select the order you approach btw). Basically it combined a light-action-rpg with some pretty awesome RTS elements to create something truly unique. Chaos Rising is going to increase the level cap on your squad and allow you potentially turn to the Dark Gods as well. I've already dipped back into the campaign to gear up for this (even though it sounds like it won't be out till next year). This time through I'm making my Force Commander a heavy weapons specialist. In fact I just got him the ability to carry Heavy Bolters and now him along with Avitus can leap frog around the level giving constant covering fire. So far, its been a great strategy (of course I've pushed Tarkus to be full on melee which if you haven't tried yet, he is incredble at).

The game is just that damn good (especially when taking in small chunks). I can't wait for more!


I was in the midst of writing a new blog entry about how I was going to be adding traps into the game but then had to put it aside. Turns out before I could go back and finish it, I had traps actually in the game. Go figure.

So over on the right you will see a link to Proto 0.2. The 2 big features to notice here are the inclusion of "spawning arrows" that will show you which spawners have become active and are pumping out dudes. These will point offscreen as well so it won't matter where you are on the map. The other big feature are traps. These are enviroment hazards that take the place of a tile. In the demo map, there are 3 that will hurt enemies as long as the are touching them.

The idea behind traps was to encourage players to use the Attractor power (now linked to 2 key) and drag the enemies into a trap. This gives you a better chance to use the attractor or slowly murder a large group while you focus on another.

So far, I like the traps. Tell me what you think or what other kind of traps you'd like to see included!

ARZ Update

Its such a small endevor, but getting feedback from people on ARZ (even in its dorky state) has just put liquid shortz in my pants.

So time for an update! First off, the side bar has been updated to maintain a list of all the Prototype links to Attack of the Robo Zombies. I just added Proto 0.1 which has the first great piece of feedback which was a "power circle" to show you how big the emitter blast will be while you hold it down. Should help with aiming on those zombie bastages! Behind the scenese I threw in some better camera smoothing using quadratic equations.

I'm compiling notes for the next set of improvements (and the people who get credit):

  • Arrows that point offscreen where enemies are coming from (M. Brenner)
  • Enviroment hazards (spikes, lave, etc) (S. Emberton)
  • Custom Cursor with particle effects to tell you what power you are using (S. Emberton)
  • Finer tuned wave - reduce spawning amounts (S Emberton)
  • Improved level layout
As always, I am always in the mood for more feedback of any kind (even arg suggestions). Thanks everyone!

Attack of the Robo Zombies!

Its finally time again.

After way too long I am ready to start developing a game with you fine people. How do you participate? Play my game! A long time ago, I worked on a game called Blobula and I found the process of posting prototypes and demos frequently was very helpful. So ladies and germs - its time to start again!

So this time out I'm working on a game using the XNA framework (so s'all c# up in here). However, that is not really important (unless you have some pointers for me). The game is tenatively titled Attack of the Robot Zombies (or ARZ for short).

In ARZ, your objective is to fend off hordes of lil zombies as they rush your energy nodes. Every zombie that gets in will score them a point. Your objective is kill all the zombies and have the fewest amount get in.

Right now the game is in an early proto/tech demo phase. In theory, you could say that too much work was done before getting to this point in the proto. My arguments are that the effects, etc that are in the game (even though they are rough) help remove the overall ugliness and should hopefully get me better feedback.

SO hit the link fools! And shoot me feedback here or at!

The Face of Happiness

Thats my nephew, Zander Rajeev Nattam. Always original, never duplicated.

Gateway into my thoughts : Doing Fine

This has been an odd week for me so far but to give you a heads up, its the good kind of odd. The odd thing is so incredibly odd that its oddness alone is enough to blast all those that know my oddness and odd situation for how odd it really is will have their minds shattered. Be prepared! Be forewarned! This shit is ODD!

I have come home and been with my wife 3 nights in a row. I have gone to bed next to her and woken up next to her.

How Odd is that!?

Slam Bam those Rock'em Sock'em Zombies

Hidy ho everyone. I figured it was about time for something better then "So.." Well almost 2 months has passed since I started my new job at Megatouch. I am more then confident that this was the right move for me. I with a crowd I related to better and professionaly I have not felt better. I've seen Laura every single weekend and just monday we woke up together and went both went to work for the first time and I got to say, it was just damn awesome.

Things have been getting better and better with personal work too. I've decided to switch my game ARZ over into XNA to help speed up certain parts and take advantage of the friendly features it includes. So far, things are going good. I setup my dynamics system and while doing a test stumbled upon a potential new way to control the game. Instead of using turrets, I am gonna try out a scheme where you use phyiscs-based traps to throw enemies into walls. The faster you throw them, the more damage you do. This means enemies come faster and you'll have to click more furiously to fend them off. I know its not a very detailed plan but I think I'm about 2-3 days away from a good demo. I'll try to get it up asap. Need to work on a few more parts!

Until then do the following:

  • See District 9
  • Listen to "Uprising" off of Muse's new Album The Resistance
  • Get outside
  • Pet a kitty

Using the Force

As for the title, I shall not explain for fear of turning something into too much of a process and as for what that means, I shall simply not explain.

So I have a lot of family and friends who have been wondering how in the heck-o I am doing. First off, I'm sorry I've been so delayed in putting out the even the smallest chunk of info. My better half is the one you should contact for that. The furry quarter will simply lick his own rear upon hearing any question.

Lets dive in. To quickly recap, I left my job at WMS in Chicago and came to Megatouch in Bristol, PA. This choice was done for personal/career path reasons. My new job is going pretty well so far. Today marks the end of my 2nd week here. I got to admit, its really great to be around so many people who are relatively into the same thing I am. A well-known fact about Megatouch is almost all of our programmers come from Full Sail, so in some ways its like being back in that school enviorment. I've already started working on helping out with some bug fixes and the code base is very small-game friendly which is a huge relief to me. The biggest thing that has come to my attention here at Megatouch is that opportunities for challenges are present almost every day. These challenges are really so well made to make bad-ass programmers out of us and I need to get myself into the habit of diving into them and not simply sitting on the sidelines only doing what I'm told. A huge drive is slowly establishing itself deep within my brain-gut. Being here at work as already motivated me to get more work done at home but I'm not taking the chance to fix my work habits and improve how I manage my own time. This also comes back to the title of the post but as I said, I'm not going to explain that.

Now for another beat: Laura and I have faced some big challenges in our recent life and right now we face more even still. Sometimes this has caused us to grow distant from our families and friends. Personally this has caused me to lock myself out from world at large. The 'worse' things got, the further I pushed myself away from everyone else cause they 'didn't get it.' I feel that a lot of this comes from the constant feeling that I have already failed at what I was trying to do. Being in that constant state of failure is only designed to drag you further down until you really do fail. No more. I am taking small daily steps to let go of my fear of failure (or belief that I have already done so). Oddly enough this does not involve repating my successes out loud. What I say to myself is something I really can't explain nor do I want to. Its something that I find incredibly difficult to do but that only means that I'm doing the right thing.

"Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right, and what is easy..."

And for those still curious, ARZ is still in production. I just finished the intial take on a scriptable (via xml) Spawn Manager that controls how waves are ordered.

I think I want to get a plaque made for Laura and I that says "The Unsinkable Sko-Nats"

...well look at that. I did explain it. Thanks for coming along the ride with me.

I just used a pipe bomb to save a friend

L4D is an interesting game. The more risks you take, the better the game becomes. How did they do that!?

The Road Ahead

Fortunately, we do not yet live in a post-apocalyptic world where I need to protect my son with a single gun from cannibals...

But things are changing. Today is my last day at WMS in Chicago. Around six-ish I will begin to pack up my office and head home. Tonight Laura is flying in and we will begin the mad dash to pack every remaining thing before the movers arrive Wednesday. At that point we will head to Fort Wayne for the night and then head out fairly soon to NJ and to our new lives.

My life since leaving Full Sail has been...well it has been odd. I always had this idea in my head that I would achieve great things...who doesn't want to think that? However somewhere along the way i lost my focus on what 'great things' meant. Did it mean an amazing career that would have me working at Blizzard? Did it mean becoming semi-popular for producing creative indie games? Did it mean having an amazing married life? Did I even know my arms would be covered in cat bites and that I would spend almost a year waking up to a furry butt-hole in my face every morning?

Laura made a good point to me that we have to redefine what 'great things' means as we move forward together. She is totally right. Right now I want to live with my wife and cat and go to a job that leaves me with a grin of satisfaction when I leave everyday. If I can get that, then I've got "great things" going for me. That and Pizza every so often.

I guess in the end (and I'm kind of losing focus on this post right about now) I just want to know that all my hard walk in all aspects of my life was not for nothing but who doesn't want that?

Some Programming Mumbo-Jumbo

I haven't really talked shop in awhile on this here ol'blogosphere so I figured now would be a good time to get out some thoughts.

A while back I mentioned this idea of a "generator" system that would create objects based on element names from an XML file. This system also allowed for "data inheritance" where elements could derive from one another. This worked in a few ways but the generator system required a lot of "workarounds" that I ultimately found more annoying then helpful. A lot of flexibility got lost trying to make a system that could cover all these basis of object generation. What I found was I lost a lot of special case control - and that is where the workarounds came into effect.

So I've decided to keep the data inheritance system (I found that VERY useful in proto-ing) but strip the object generator and replaced it with normal factories. This may require several factories for various object types (game entities, collision shapes, etc) but will let me do more special case stuff that I can later wrap up if I feel like it.

The (thats what I call) sticky situation is removing the generator system from the current code base. I've decided to do this slowly by replacing "components" of objects first (for example collision shape generation) with factories and slowly work my way up to the highest levels of object generator (the point where all the objects are spawned). I do know that I will need a generic factory object so maybe if I get a chance I can write one and test it out with collision shapes tonight. Packing/moving prep has been taking 1st priority for obvious reasons but I'd like to get some of this rolling since I hope to use some of this code base with friends on the side when I get to my new job.

L4D Update

So L4D just put out their promised update that now provides a streamlined user-created map service they dub as "add-on." One great aspect of this whole thing is a new system them created that allows modders to genereate 'VPK' files that mean insalling maps is as simple as double-clicking the VPK exe you get when you download the map. It will auto place the map and any needed files into the right directories. Apparently if you play on a server you don't have the map for, it will download for you and install. Bad-ass.

I've gone hunting and pulled a good thread with some maps on it

So dig in folks! I've already grabbed a few and gonna give em a try. Its great to see people trying new things with the game!

On Bioware and Mythic merger

This just made me giggle:

From a post on Kotaku

"What's next, Nintendo merges with Sega?

Activision merges with EA?


Killing Zombies

Seriously. L4D...bestest game everz.

Game Burst

Been playing some new games:

  • Prototype - pretty awesome. Devoid of a solid story to tie it all together (well at least one told in a decent manner) and for once a game where a good/bad choice would actually be cool (liberator vs monster). Amazing displays of destruction that you actually control.
  • Ghostbusters - only played the first hour or so. Level design is horrible. You can literally see the level "pathing" via oddly placed cars, etc. There so many obvious parts where you need to wait for triggers. Do I really need Dan Akroyd to open that door? The Ghost-catching part is very fun.
And one more note: L4D still tops my go to "stress reliever." Pop into survival with AI, blast until you can't blasts no more then leave. Good till the last drop.

More to come...Stay tuned...

I will give more info later but as of Thursday I started the process of accepting a new job in PA and quitting my current gig. While sad to leave my current gig's people (some of the nicest folk I've ever met) I am overly excited to announce that in 3 weeks I WILL BE LIVING WITH MY WIFE.

Soon we can bicker of everything known to human kind then end it with some snuggling and Simpsons.

And the cat is coming too.


I mentioned in my previous post something about a little game called Kings Bounty : The Legend. I enjoyed this game pretty much right off the bat and was hoping it would only get better. So far it has. KB is pretty much everything I liked when I first got into pc games and then into rpgs all rolled into one ball - and that ball is delicious. For CGW/GFW radio fans: "Its full of all that good stuff that was around before the internet."

Here is the breakdown of Kings Bounty: You create a hero (3 classes to choose from). The game consists of 2 modes: Adventure and Tactical. In Adventure mode, you move around a fantasy themed world by simple click and your hero will trot his horse over there. This part feels more like moving around an iconic-styled map vs some detailed real world. Everything is in kind of a "scaled-down amusment park" style. Not sure if that makes sense, so just go look up some pics. Anyhoos, from that map you will find several wandering monsters who you engage by simply running up to (or they will run up to you). That is where the game shifts into Tactical Mode which is made of a small sized hex-based map. Instead of your hero being on the field you are actually wielding units you've gathered from the many vendors across adventure mode. The enemy will have an army as well and you simply move your units around and do battle - turn-based style. Your hero's stats/gear will improve your units and you also dish out pretty powerful spells to alter the course of battle. Units are represented by "stacks" meaing its always on archer representing 30 archers - but like the adventure map, everything is done at an iconic scale - more like pretty chess pieces. When you finish with battles, you'll gain experience / loot which helps increase your characters abilties and field a bigger army. All classes can purchase abilties from 3 skill trees using a combination of 3 "rune" types (might/mind/magic). Each of the classes gains these runes in different amounts when they level but you will also find a lot in adventure mode.

The game sounds very simple and in fact it sort of is. Only after the first hour did I realize how much you need to think about your choices during battles. The game puts tons of abilties at your hand to beat enemies quickly but its up to you to unlock the strategies. With that in mind, it presents an incredibly deep and addictive combat system. The game has a pretty great balance to making you struggle then granting you that boost that gives you a bigger army or more powers and suddenly you are a god only to get so far and get knocked down again. That constant up and down is pretty classic stuff in terms of rpgs that are combat centric. Most games don't get it right which. I have no idea how you really are supposed to design a system that does that.

Anyhoos, back to the ball thing: Heroes of Might and Magic is probably the first tactical strategy game that I got into. This game pretty much gets the vibe of that game but makes it much faster paced. Battles rarely last longer then 10 minutes which makes them much easier to digest and encourages you to do "just one more."

I will say this: This game is NOT for everybody. If you have no interest in turn-based games...then don't apply but if you see anything I've posted hear that sounds appealing, grab it on steam for 30.

Oh and the game has some serious performance issues but its not enough to make you shut it off.

Oh Oh one last note: The effects in this game are some of the best I've seen. Great animations and use of particle effects. A little slow, but altogether very satisfying.

Beepity Boppity - I'm out!


If you have a PC and are even remotely into gaming, get Steam...install it....have it on..and add me as a friend: Bobbyphat.

I love steam so much. I think part of what is helping keep me sane while my wife is off achieving her dreams (wooot!) is getting games to dive into to keep my mind occupied between programming and staring into the abyss...just kidding.

Right now I'm into a game called King's Bounty: The Legend. Its a freaking cool rpg where you adventure, build an army, and enjoy tactical turn-based battles. The art style is great (super commercial high-fantasy). Its got a bit of this Warhammer feel (though the world is much more...light-hearted). I also like the turn-based battles that don't last f'ing forever. I only played it last night but I'm hoping it gets better. So far I'm digging it. Its a slow paced RPG with a pretty deep combat system. I'm taking my Mage Nagash (thats right I said it) and wanting to work his way to a insidious necromancer...oh why does that path ALWAYS appeal to me when it comes to fantasy games?

This things I believe

It has finally hit me like a 19.75 lb bag of bricks that I messed up my personal programming education. I zeroed in on a select few topics with such a mighty passion that I ignored a lot of fundamentals. There are so many things I don't know that I'm finding now are serious weakness that make me look like a fool.

I've been moping for a bit. I think I need to change that. So here is my list (this is really for me):

  • Algorithm Analysis
  • Sorting Algorithms
  • Unit Testing
  • Memory Manager - I've done this before...but it was so long ago
  • Data Structures for sorting operation
  • Multi-threading
These are things I need to start improving. I'll need to come up with plans!

Keeping a cool head

I've been doing a lot of outside work in the past 2 weeks. Its become a pretty crazy obsession. I've become obsesed with trying to make a game. I'm finding it easy to become so obsessed that I continually fin the results of my work "not good enough" and get depressed about being an unsuccesful wanna-be game programmer. When this occurs, I start to "blindly" fix things. I hack my way through my own code writing dirty, dirty systems that don't even produce the right results. Its times like these that I need to fight myself on a poweful level and tell myself to STOP and create short plan and then stick to that. If I don't, well bad things happen to my product and to my self-esteem.

So far the side project I'm developing has some intersting mechanics that may work out. Right now the game's "tools" have no purpose because the enemy isn't performing his basic duties. Unless the threat is present, who gives a crap if you have a gun?

ARZ Proto Update

I made a quick change to the prototype. This one is a bit more "advanced" (note the quotes).


ARZ Proto

Hey folks,

Much later then promised here is the first Prototype for ARZ. Now this is not a full fledged demo or game. This is slightly above a tech demo with the purposes of getting some early feedback on how what direction to take the game.


Left / Right to rotate the Turret
Space to fire
1 - activate exploding ball
2 - activate gravity ball
3 - make the ball both exploding and gravity

While is there no way to lose or win, just try to keep the little blue things away from the big red P.

Things I'm looking for feedback on:
1) Did you just end up using one type of ball (1/2/3) and didn't need the others?
3) How was the speed of the game (movement of balls, etc)?

Hit me with your thoughts here or at my email (

Return to the Land of ARZ

First off, many a happy wishes to the mothers in the world (is that that physically possible).

After working on a little iPhone Game for a friend of mine, I got this urge to get back into my windows-friendly side projects. I was, as I posted here a few times, working on a game called "Attack of the Robo Zombies" which was a small twist on a tower defense style game. I was originally making the game in 3d using Irrlicht as a rendering engine and Bullet for physics. While this was going well, I ended up getting frustrated dealing with certain aspects of the technology that I felt were getting WAY more complicated then needed. Around this time is when Ryan approached me to make the iPhone Game and it was then and there that I decided to take ARZ out back with a shotgun under my arm. However, this recent resurgance in good vibes towards wanting to make a game I can easily share with all my friends (iPhone = the big no on that factor), I decided to dust off ARZ and give it another go. This time I more or less started completly over. I removed all the Bullet Physics and stripped Irrlicht down to a simple 2d system. I grabbed old code wherever I could and brought it together to help me build my inital tech demo quickly. So far, its been an incredible success. The switch to 2D is allowing me to easily add my own assets and be able to salvage stuff much easier from the interwebs.

All the work on this project has really given me a new thirst of my hobbyist programming. I've really only completed one game on the side and I think it is high time I finally trying to push through and make another one. So ARZ is back baby. The game design is pretty much the same as before but this time I'm approaching development with a better head then before. My motto goes along the lines of "Plan what to do in advance but only work on what you planned. If something arrives while working on what you planned, don't jump ahead. Finish what you started." Its a simple thing and for the most part is pretty obvious but sometimes I need to remind myself to plan only in the short-term with a rough eye on the long-term.

As my friend Marc Hernadez constantly reminds me: People only give a shit for stuff thats done.

If all goes well and my Mr. Sulz doesn't bug the living hell out of me, I should be able to get a working turret with a projectile that has the gravity mod attached. As soon as I have that I will post a demo and start pushing for feedback. Hopefully you loyal readers will ablige a poor old indian programmer like myself and do just that.

Beat these Beats

My friend Alex has been doing this for a while since he moved to Chicago. His remix of Kanye West's "Love Lockdown" is dopest of the dope.


I'm not a big music.....umm....connoisseur. I have no idea how good music made - I'm not really sure what tempo means. To me, my enjoyment of music is kind of like "Music of Food" section of Ratatouille - where its something I see but have no real idea what is making it happen. While I'm probably more of an tv/movie/audio-book guy to straight up music here are some of my favorite albums:

  • The Fragile - I keep coming back to this. When I first heard it, it was pretty much the first time I ever heard NIN and it blew my mind wide open. It has still stuck with me to this day.
  • Kid A - while I'm not a fan of Radiohead any more (I mean they are good but I just don't care that much) this was the first album of theirs I heard. Once again, blew my mind wide open so I hold a soft spot for it.
  • LOTR Score - one of the best film scores ever made. Period.
  • Flash Gordon - one of the best film scores ever made. Period. This album wholly represents childhood sci-fi superhero fantasies. I wish someone would really capture it for a video game.
  • Bachelor No. 6 - Aimee Mann's undersold romantic masterpiece. If you have an open mind and don't mind well written pop style songs, this is the best stuff out there.

Marriage and Zombies

Laura was in town last weekend and I think we both agreed it was one of the best weekend visits we've had since having to live apart. While we agreed to not over analyze it too much, I think a lot of it came from just having those right conditions. One of the biggest ones was having pretty good weeks and work and finishing on with great Fridays. While in theory we should be working on separating work from personal life, our current situation is really based all on work. So if work is going well, we are going well. For me, I also am trying to be more productive with my iPhone App I'm working on in my spare time. The more I work on it, the better I feel for at least 2-3 days. So its kind of become like working out - I don't want to do it sometimes but I know if I just push through, I will feel much better then having not done it. On that note, I plan on posting some pics of my app hopefully later this week. Tonight is going to be a big push to try to get done with the 1st proto. I'll have more info on my iTastic Blog which you can find on the oh-so-convient side bar on the right.

I have much to share, so lets get into the meat of it. First off, L4D just released some new DLC a few days ago (free btw!) and it is fan-f***ing-tastic. The big addition is a new mode called "Survival." In this new mode, you can select an crescendo-event (or finale) from any campaign in the game (on the 360 version you can only do selected events from each campaign). The area will be modified from the original (certain paths will be blocked off, etc) and there will be copious amounts of explosives to go around. All you need to do is last as long as you possibly can once the event starts. Each time you die, you just need to try and beat your old time. Pretty simple? The catch is that the enemies are incredibly hard. First off, you'll face a flood of zombies, then specials, then a tank but before you know it, it will happen all over again. There is essentially a constant threat no matter what you do. The best part of the experience is that its incredibly short but amazingly intense. Even if you die over and over again, you were only playing for 2 minutes so its not like you lost a lot of "progress". After my initial runs of my favorite crescendo events I can already tell that this mode alone is going to keep me playing for hours and coupled with the easy going "drop-in/drop-out" system that L4D already established, they've just bumped this game back up to the top of my list.

I have a second...but I can't remember what it was. I'll get back to it after lunch.

Random Things #1

Things I just feel like saying:

  1. Dawn of War 2 is still incredible. The amount of detail put into the game just leaves me craving for more. If I had any complaints, I'd like more skirmish vs AI options (like special scenarios or maps built for co-op - like Assault missions from SP).
  2. Is is sad that Team Meetings are a highlight for my week?
  3. RE5 was some good times.
  4. Back into WAR. Having a group of people to play with on a normal basis makes all the difference. Since the game is about PvP, its fun to jump in and just mess shit up.
  5. iPhone programming is fun. I just wish I'd do more of it. Next up: Random Map Generation!

Watercooler Chat for Dummies

Awhile back, I was talking to my older brother and discussing how my dis-interest in sports has a big effect around the halls of my job. A lot of "watercooler" talk is around sports and then eventually leads to topics I can chime in on (like movies, games, etc). He told me to just call him and he can tell me what is up that week in sports. Then it hit me. Guys like me need a site that does that. Obviously ESPN and the like have that information but its a little tough to swallow if you don't already know what you are looking for. So what I am purposing is a site that is directed at people like me who don't care about sports but want to know what people are talking about that week. The site would tell you what teams are playing, what are famous rivalries, and what are the highlights to remember and most importantly WHY you should remember them. Hopefully with this information you can stage an interest and break into a conversation and at least get friendlier with people you work with.

Watercooler Chat for Dummies.

Resident Weekend

It feels like I haven't done a decent post in a while, so here is a shot at it since some fun stuff happened this weekend in conjunction with fun stuff coming up.

First off, Laura saw Monster Squad and Predator with her friends from work in NJ. For me, this is awesome cause both movies hold a special place in my heart (Monster Squad more arguably for the nostalgia factor). She is coming down this weekend and we are heading home to see my little nephew for yet another Indian ceremony (oh we have so many).

Now time for what I always do: games! This weekend was Resident Evil 5. So I've ranted pretty hard about how bad the controls are in this game but I have to admit, I am enjoying the game a ton. Let me make this clear, the games controls do not come second nature. They are not fluid and several times I have to tell myself what button to push and in what order vs it just coming natural. Now once you get "used" to it, the game does become fairly enjoyable but what I want to point out are some awesome features of the Multiplayer and "RPG" side of the game. When you start the game up, your character is permantly associated with your profile. Any items/gold you collect and upgrade will stay with you no matter what you do. So one cool thing that comes up is that after you beat a level, you can go back and play it again in the level select screen. You will take all your stuff with you into the level and carry it back out. This lets you go back and grind levels to get upgrade stuff for later levels. It also provides a fun way to play early levels with better weapons and be more effective (or just feel how much more powerful you are). Now the icing on the cake with this system is when you go into multiplayer you take EVERYTHING in your profile with you. The character you play (Chris or Sheva) has access to everything you do and when you leave the session, it carries back with you. I got the game on Friday and played a bit and when my buddy Doug got it on Saturday afternoon, I went back to the beggining of the game but I didn't mind cause I was scoring extra gold to improve my weapons.

The co-op experience is also very good. While the game does not provide the "randomness" of L4D, it does let you feel like you are developing a character with specific skills. While Doug became a long range specialist, I carried the Stun Stick which allows for some pretty incredible melee kills. The game forces a lot of benefits from good cooperation and its pretty apparent they though the whole 2-player thing out.

When you see how good the co-op is, its pretty dissapointing to see some of the UI failings. The biggest being that while you are in-game, you cannot move items to specific spots in your inventory. While this doesn't seem like a big deal, what you have to understand is that the d-pad syncs up with the inventory so if your grenades run out and then you find some more, they may not be on the right quick equip button anymore. I also have to compain about the overall ugliness of any text that appears. It really feels like its from 1994 and after seeing the incredible beauty of the Dead Space UI, this is just an epic fail for a game that has some of the most gorgeous out door enviroments.

Dawn of Thursday and Streaming Rocks

Laura came to visit last weekend and on top of having a good romantic time, she signed up for Netflix which allows us both to benefit since I can now stream stuff on the xbox. I've catching up on 30 Rock which I've slowly become a huge fan of. Right now I'm starting up season 2 but the fact that season 1 is always there and I can watch it over and over again is a like a big ol pizza that never somehow.

This thursday (as in tommorow) will be an overjoyous day because Dawn of War 2 is finally coming out. It so weird that this game more or less came out of the blue for me with the Beta. It then proceeded to shove me down on the ground and beat me with an awesome stick. The sharp end of the awesome stick. There was a few weeks where friends and I were playing it nightly. There are very few games that get me do that day-in and day-out. I've already stopped my WoW account cause I haven't touched it since the DoW2 Beta.

Big fun is going to be getting into the Single Player Campaign. From all the additional news I've heard, Relic is trying to cross an rpg with an rts. You have a few units taken into each mission and you need to make them last till the objectives are complete. On top of that, each unit is led by a special sgt with a unique model/voice-actor and their own bank of abilities. Apparently you can equip different kinds of war gear for your sgts like you would your hero character in a multi-player match. This kind of "loot-whoring", if done right, could end up making one hell of a satisfying experience.

I really can't think of another RTS that is doing what DoW2 does. It really stands alone and I hope the gaming community at large can respect this and give it a try.

Yup. You Guessed it.

After having an incredible weekend with Laura in NJ (and I got to meet her bad-ass coworkers), I arrived back to Chicago to an angry kitty and some incredibly refreshing warm weather. I always fancied myself a Winter guy but I think after Florida, I'm much more into end of spring kind of weather where a good breeze comes buy to make you keep pants on but there is no need for a jacket.

As for the title, that's right: I'm still playing Dawn of War 2 an insane amount. Its almost become a nightly ritual to play at least 1-2 games. A new patch came out for the beta that has people on the community forums going a little nuts. In some cases they are right. The biggest change is rate resources are gathered in 3v3 games (which is kind of the most common game). It has gone up significantly and now it can be a viable tactic to "spam" units - that is to keep making them and just sending them to their deaths. Personally, I don't find this true in every circumstance. As a Space Marine player, I still have to make good choices early on about what units to get out and hold my ground. I still manage and take care of those units no matter what and it most cases, I'm able to overcome the hordes. It should be noted that all of this vs AI. So far, I have not tried playing against other people - I'm just too much of a wuss. The AI on the other hand has benefited tremendously from the patch and now presents an increasing challenge. I'm already enjoying moving back up the AI tiers and trying different enemy combos to test my Space Marines mettle. The game comes out in about 9 days and I'm going to pee my pants when it gets here.

Laura is coming this weekend! Time for marital dancing!

More thoughts on RE5

I've almost made my mind up on RE5. The Game's controls are so frustrating - especially after coming off of Dead Space - that I don't think I'll get this game the second it comes out (which is my favorite time to get games). For those who have been following up on the game, you'll no doubt have heard this argument several times on forums,etc and I think it is compeltly valid. For those who want to know more specifics, I'll shalst bust a phat beat and break it down, right now, right here, live and in your face.

For the most part, the single most frustrating aspect of the game is more of a design issue : you cannot move and shoot / reload. Now in the RE4, this was pretty much just accepted. For the most part, no game had really been like RE4 in terms of its camera. In that game, it was pretty much a move till you got a good position, whirl about, shoot as fast and as accurate as you could, then move again. However since RE4, there have been a few games to use this camera style but moved the "genre" forward. The best one I can think of is Dead Space which the developers themselves said took directly from RE4. In Dead Space, players can move at pretty much all times. When you do start to shoot, your character will slow down (same when you are reloading) but the key is that you can keep moving. What this creates for Dead Space is a seamless set of controls that allow you to navigate the game without having to think Oh yeah, I'm blank so I can't blank. RE5 is plagued by this. When you start to shoot, you cannot move so you need to constantly keep that in mind which is difficult cause the concept is not the norm for shooter controls and this is my major beef with this whole mechanic. It seems to disregard all conventions or things that players can expect from the game. So to put into perspective, lets say you were playing a shooter and your gun has a limited amount of ammo. The game does not provide a way for you to tell how many shots you have left. The gun will just go empty. Now this would be a pretty justified complaint since as a user, you expect this kind of "feature."

My second complaint which I feel could be changed in the game is the lack of an instant melee button. Melee is instead a two-button process. You need to "arm" your knife by holding the left bumper button and then pull the right trigger. Why not just make the right trigger melee? Oh no, thats so you can lock on to your partner. Why not make that the left bumper button? Ugh. Doug and I played co-op last night (the only saving grace in my opinion) and kept yelling out "preparing to melee...melee initiated...activating melee."

Seriously. What gweat way to pway.

Hey Forums!

Make your Search button brighter then the f'in Sun please!

DoW2 Strategum Part 1: Before the Mandate of Hyerbiolums

I ended up having a pretty good weekend at home with my Family. It was nice to see my kick-ass new nephew Zander and also fun to teach his older brother Kaiden to not freak out cause he cannot find the pointer on the Wii (btw Wii, I hate you for that. Why do you punish children so?). When I finally got back to Chicago, I ended up plopping down to a play some more DoW2 (Dawn of War 2) and noticed the Beta recently got some updates (after going public). The more I play this game, the more excited I get for the full campaign. I decided I'd share a more detailed experience with those of you that are intersted in how the game plays (which btw, you should just go get on the public beta and mess around).

I've only played as the Space Marines and even then I've only really handled the Techmarine. He is a hero unit that is designed around defense, which matches my style of play. Now when I say defense, I do not mean the classic RTS concept of "Turtling" instead the Techmarine is ideally suited to establishing a forward line and then holding it. He can reinforce the line with turrets that help out your units. He even has several powers that can boost the ranged damage of nearby allies. So far I've tried him out against a Hard AI using the Tyranids.

Starting out, I send out my scouts to capture a nearby power node since most of my Techmarines key abilites need copious amounts of the blue lightning harvested by said nodes. My Techmarine becomes the Rally point for my base and he moves out to start capturing requisition nodes. I usually build a devastator squad first to support him. These are heavy weapon units that use big-ass machine guns to suppress incoming infantry. These guys will move forward and cover wide areas while the tech marine start laying down turrets at key locations. I usually then bring another devastator squad to cover another key point. At this point, I should of grabbed a decent amount of nodes and then try to bring in a Tactical Squad that is more general purpose to accompany my Techmarine around. Then it comes a race to upgrade. Getting to Tier 2 brings up Plasma Devastator Squads which are crucial to taking out heavy infantry. I usually try to get one of these up and keep them centralized so they can quickly support different groups. While my Techmarine and his squad move forward, he will lay down turrets to keep defending different spots. By this point, the line has basically been drawn and now its a matter of holding it.

This has defiantly become one of my favorite aspects of this game. Its not about launching massive assaults on each others bases but instead getting key defensive positions and duking it out. I've already been looking into how other heroes are designed to break these lines or simply go around them. The Tyranids have a hero that can actually burrow behind your lines.

I've come to the realization that DoW2 basically does to Turn-based Tactical Games what Sins of a Solar Empire did to Turn-based 4X games. Where before the turn-based games offered deep but slow paced combat, these newer games offer the same-depth but at a faster pace to keep up with the evolutions in game design.

Here's hoping the campaign is going to be as fun as it sounds.

Dawn of War 2 Beta Impressions

Now that I've officially made a massive return back to my PC for satisfying my gaming needs, I've launched full steam ahead into the amazing offerings that Steam has been providing. This week, the Steam gods offered up access to the Multiplayer Beta to Dawn of War 2 if you bought Soulstorm or pre-ordered DoW2. I finally got setup last night and thought I'd share my thoughts.

I've been a fan of the RTS genre on pc pretty much since I started getting "hardcore" into pc gaming. I always seem to float back to them and it always proves to be the one genre I'm actually decent at competitive wise (compared to friends, etc). The first Dawn of War was pretty neat and I tried it out but have to admit I did not play a lot of it. In fact, its one of those games I regret not going back and getting more into. When I first read about DoW2 and how they were going to add a more character-centric approach to the campaign, I was intrigued. From what I've gathered the game is more about upgrading a core group of characters and using constructed units to support them versus just all out base building / combat. I'm still pretty excited about the single player campaign but the beta was Multiplayer only, so lets get into that.

Dawn Of War 2 strips a ton of stuff out of the standard RTS genre and in turn puts a ridiculous amount of focus on fighting. First off, there is no base building. None. Nada. You start with one building that produces all your units and allows you to move up tech trees. The "base building" actually comes from your units. Almost every single unit has upgrades that can be made and you do those while they are on the move. Secondly, DoW2 only allows you build a relatively small amount of squads. In turn, each squad is given more power and survive longer. The focus then becomes on you micro-managing a smaller army then a normal RTS. To top it off, when you enter a match you select a hero character that becomes the cornerstone of your army. Each of the four factions (Space Marines, Orks, Eldar, and Tyranid) have 3 heroes with each one focusing on a different key strength of that faction. The hero has several powers that can turn the tide of a skirmish along with a plethora of war gear that allows them to be customized.

Since your unit choices are limited and it takes longer to replace lost units, it is obvious that the game is putting a strong emphasis on your army layout. For example, a Force Commander driven space marine army would want to play to his strengths (melee and defense) and would want to bring Assault Marines with some light ranged support. Where the army of a Techmarine would be more about base defense then pure assault. I played a few matches with Raj last night and we already noticed the differences in our commanders and the effect they had. I brought heavy assault troops with my Techmarine who then established a defensive position along with his the turrets that he can create. Raj brought his Force Commander to go one-on-one with a Tyranid Carnifex (a super heavy melee unit) while I kept the swarms of infantry off his back. We held the Victory Point the Tyranids needed with this combination for a few waves.

The game does have it flaws though. Right now a lot of the feedback with the powers is not 100% clear. Certain aura buffs are difficult to reckongize on the field. Units are poorly highlighted especially when you are tabbing through a selected group. This ends up forcing you to click on units to give specific orders which in the end isn't too bad since the game provides a slightly slower pace to allow you actually think. To top it off, some of the wargear icons are hard to differentiate forcing you to always read the helper text.

Overall, I'm pretty excited about this game now. The campaign looks like it will an excellent cross between an RTS and a party-based RPG, which is exactly what I'm looking for (and in some cases already found with Spellforge 2). Sadly (well not so sadly) I'm going home to Indiana this weekend to see my mom before she goes into surgery so I won't have my PC with me. On the positive side, I get to use their nice big tv for all the xbox gaming goodness I could ask for.

Old Art

I found this on my external hd and thought I post it for myself if anything...this is from waaay back in the day:

I use to make a web-comic with 2 of my buddies from college. This was going to be for the re-launch of the comic. I came up with new designs and was getting better at Illustrator (vs using Photoshop). By this point, we ended the comic and I got more into programming.

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