Weekend Edition…

distributed computing projects, casino royale, voxelstein 3d & the whizzball report #1 & #2 all after the break…

note – i love deleting comments that don’t follow the instructions on the “leaving comments” page. consider yourself warned.

distributed computing projects…

i don’t understand the whole “distributed computing projects” thing. let me explain. see – there’s a really big, complex problem that only a really huge, fast supercomputer can sort out. well, they take that big complex problem, break it down into much smaller parts & hand each part to a single but slower computer. the slower computers work on their parts separately & hand their results back to a main computer & the problem is solved. yea! that’s “distributed computing projects” in a nutshell & yeah, i realize i just oversimplified it.

the problem with it is i don’t think anyone has ever solved anything with any of these projects. look, i’m all for curing cancer & finding space aliens (and, most importantly, finding space aliens who can cure cancer). however, no one has ever actually proved that this stuff really works, have they? has there ever been one of these projects that set out to perform some grand feat & has actually solved it thanks to distributed computing? i’m not talking about some “let’s find the formula to that solves some obscure math problem” situation. no, i’m talking the world peace, world hunger, find a cure for aids & stop adolph hitler type of shenanigans that a lot of these distributed computing projects propose.

i’ll join up when you guys can prove the siht actually works. how’s that? until then, though, my computer will be devoted towards being turned off & cruising the internet.

casino royale…

james bond has an image issue. see, james bond is to the spy genre what flash gordon became to the sci-fi genre. each started out as dead serious entertainment. no joke; the flash gordon serials employed state-of-the-art special effects for their time… much the same way that the star wars prequel movies did (except it didn’t have jar-jar & no, that’s not a jar-jar joke).

over time, a pattern in the films began to repeat themselves & james bond soon became a mockery of itself. cheesy meglomaniac villian? check. slutty actress with even sluttier double-entendre name? check. wacky villain henchman? check. outrageous gadget that could never exist in the real world even half-a-century into the future? check.

for me, the james bond franchise was at its best in the high-flying, “who-cares-how-large-the-lapels-are” 1970’s where everyone began to realize that the franchise had turned into a joke & no one particularly cared. then, the 1980’s happened & everyone tried to turn it into a serious franchise again. big mistake!

so, now we have “casino royale” which re-sets the franchise because re-setting a franchise is the hottest thing to do in hollywood right now. check it – batman, star trek, superman… you name it, everything is getting “re-set” which is just another fancy way of saying, “the idiots before us screwed up the franchise so bad that we have to start over from scratch.” whatever.

the movie starts off with james bond being a fresh new “double-00” agent. he funbles & bumbles (for a secret agent, of course; if only the rest of us could brain fart as brilliantly as he can & call those farts “mistakes” without cracking a smile) his way into a multi-millionaire card game where he hopes a victory will send the villain into a tizzy so that the villain cooperates with the united kingdom for truth, justice & the british way (or english way).

i dunno. i like my movies moving & not bogged down by petty things like character development & plot. when i bite into a york pepperment patty james bond film, i want the sensation of hot women, meglomaniac villains, their wacky henchmen & the world domination plots that love them. none of that siht is here. oh, sure, you have 007 jumping from construction crane to construction crane like he’s kermit the frog after a sugar high but, really… it’s a fcuking poker game! a poker game! that’s the entire movie – a poker game! i’m not making this up… go see the movie for yourself if you don’t believe me!

there’s all this blah blah blah about double-crosses & double agents &… you know what? give me a james bond villain with three eyes with a plan on turning the world’s oceans into jello gelatin using solar power, a henchman that can spit fire out of his ass, some slut named “breasty mcfcukmehard,” a wristwatch that can deflect reality without draining its battery & all set on an orbiting space station. there – that’s a fcuking james bond movie. not a “gee, let’s play poker” with a villain who cries blood because of some wacky tear duct problem & bears an uncanny resemblance to dan abrams from the news channel msnbc. they didn’t even have any nude chicks in the opening credits segment! are you kidding me?!

my verdict? take a guess.

voxelstein 3d…

a little history – there used to be a guy named ken silverman who, early on in the whole 3d fps scene, was pretty much amongst the elite of 3d fps programmers. he was the guy, for instance, who built the “build” engine that the games “duke nukem 3d” & “blood” were based upon. yeah, those games look antiquated now but, back then, those were some pretty spiffy engines.

anyway, id released the game “quake” which introduced polygons & true “room-over-room” architecture & the rest is history. depending on who you believe, ken either gracefully bowed out of the fps ‘arms race’ or was pushed aside when he couldn’t deliver the goods on a ‘quake-killer’ engine of his own. take your pick, i’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

so, in 2000, he made this little engine called “voxlap” which uses voxels instead of polygons & if you don’t know the difference between the two, here it is in a nutshell – voxels are 3d pixels & polygons are flat planes. unlike blu-ray & hd-dvd, there was really no competition & all the 3d fps programming intelligentsia stuck with polygons.

the big thing about a voxel engine is that the entire environment is easily destructible because everything is made of those pixel-y things. polygons have to be programmed to be destroyed & that can be a pain in the orifice depending on how you want to destroy something. if you’ve ever played a 3d fps, you’ve probably had the scenario of using a rocket launcher against something flimsy like a bathroom door & the bathroom door comes out without a scratch, right? well, that’s the disadvantage of a polygon engine. sure, you could program that bathroom door to shatter but its a big pain in the orifice for the programmers & no one wants to do it so that feature usually gets scrapped. meanwhile, in a voxel engine, that bathroom door is now completely splintered & no one had to lift a finger to make it happen. is that an oversimplification? yes but it gets the job done & if you want to know more, there’s google.

so, ken writes a voxel engine & nothing ever major happened with it… until now. a group of guys decided to make a game called “voxelstein 3d” (yes, it’s a play on the game title “wolfenstein 3d”) that uses a voxel engine. i played the game earlier today & here’s the verdict:

  • good – sadly, not much. the inherent advantages of a voxel engine are really the only thing that this game has going for it. i know, i know, i played version “hey, it’s not an internal alpha” 0.00001 or something like that. at least the thing didn’t accidentally destroy my hard drive &, as i get older, that’s a positive in my book. really, though, the big good thing here is the destroyable environment because the pixels are as big as paperweights & that would be fine if the year was 1992 but we’ve progressed since then.
  • bad – pretty much everything else. yeah, again, i played version “hey, it’s not an internal alpha” 0.00001 but, boy, this game does not make the case for id to scrap polygons & start working with voxels. first off, artistically, it just ain’t cool to wallpaper your game with demented serial killers of the college & high school variety. yeah, freedom of speech & i can’t stop you from doing it but there were real deaths behind those incidents & i doubt you want the fury of bad publicity behind your project. it’s one thing to have pictures of adolph hitler but it’s another thing to evoke columbine & virginia tech. it’s your game, your life but if i was you i’d scrap that crap for version 0.2 & beyond. also… well, it’s a voxel engine. really, there just wasn’t much there to do except put holes into walls.

i could list all the little nitpicky things that an fps should have that this version 0.1 didn’t have but i really think these guys have enough talent to know that they’re going down a dead end. look at portal – it takes one gimmick & milks it to death. that’s what these guys need to do – take the voxel engine & utilize it’s advantages of fully destructible environment. maybe also have the ability to create solid objects on the fly as well. i dunno, i’m not a game designer but if i was, i’d say a game that involves creating & destroying your environment to accomplish a goal. have fun with it.

overall, i have to give the game a pass which is sad because i was very biased before playing it that i’d like it simply because it was made with a voxel engine. however, i’ll watch these guys to see what they do anyway. after all, version 0.1 is version 0.1 & you can’t judge a game like that. good luck on your next version, gentlemen & thanks for the release.

the whizzball report #1…

started = 382. ended = 379. net gain = +2.

the whizzball report #2…

started = 380. ended = 377. net gain = +2.

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