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sethfrost Blog

I survived Planet Okazakino Kenqji!

ICE PLANET = CoCo Co -CO-COOOLD!!!
ICE PLANET = CoCo Co -CO-COOOLD!!!

Hello, fellow No Man's Sky travellers!

Last time you heard from me, I was stuck on an Ice planet, with no fuel.

I needed to find Plutonium on the planet surface, mine it and return to my ship before I freeze or get eaten. Yes. Prey is hunting.

I was stuck inside my space ship cockpit, wondering when the Storm (temporary. Drains Hazmat suit energy faster) will finally slow down.

Eventually, I gathered all my remaining Chi and went for a walk. Fast walk. I ran in one direction, until my Stamina depleted (another game mechanic). Always weary of hunting animals.

I turned on my scanner and … nothing. No Plutonium. Recharged my Hazmat suit. Either go back & survive (back inside my ship) or be bold an run further, in hope of finding something.

I chose the foolish option.

And then the night fall ( = severe cold on top of ordinary cold, draining Hazmat Suit (Armor) AND Life Support (Health). And to make things even worse, my suit tells me “Incoming Storm”. And I hear the weird noises behind me, of a hunting alien pack…

GEK. Geks & me are like buddies. Space Travellin' BFFs. Never mind +SPOILER SPOILER SPOILERS+
GEK. Geks & me are like buddies. Space Travellin' BFFs. Never mind +SPOILER SPOILER SPOILERS+

But luck was on my side! I found a base in the distance. I barely made it alive! Inside, I was greeted by a friendly alien race trader, Navigator Audirs. I warmed up and could by the bare minimum of Plutonium from him.

I still was not sure, if it would be enough. But, I had to try. I had to make it back on foot, to my ship.

Just when I left the comfort of the base camp, another ship landed next to me! Almost before my feet!

"AMMR FRIEND TO U2, BUDDY!" ... I LEARNED ENOUGH GEK WORDS. I AM NOW FLUENT IN GEK!

Mining Overseer Teshorize greeted me and – when luck smiles on you, it smiles bright – offered to trade with me. Yes! You guessed it. He had more of the juice that could make me leave thus hell hole of a planet!

Finally.

(This is but one tiny story of what can happen to you in NMS. It sounds like an MMO, or like EVE Online, or DayZ or PUBG?)

Slow down – how to be bad at RTS games & still like it…

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I play RTS games since the first came out, ages ago. I used to be young – meaning quick – and alert. Skillful. Smart.

But, the older I get (and this is a story, not about me, but YOU, in the future), I see more and more my limits. I often cannot keep up with the clicking and multitasking. I still practice Starcraft 2 multiplayer – the mechanically most demanding game to date. But, I am hitting a “wall”, like the one in Game of Thrones.

Playing RTS Games solo, allows for no mistakes. While multiplayer has two humans failing, playing vs the Game AI is like pretending you too can outsmart IBM's Deep Blue, if they would let you. But - no - you can't. The machine always knows the right order of units to build. The machine never stops using the proper upgrades. The machine never stops and pauses and needs to ... THINK ... or blink.

Yet, "Player vs AI" are very different in gameplay style by nature. "Player vs Player" RTS most important aspect is - like in real war - INFORMATION. You have to know what your opponent is doing. You NEED to know, so you can counter his strategy with your strategy. Reconnaissance is crucial to survive.

Of course, not in Single Player games. There, you are either solving a puzzle (Campaign) or trying to 'keep up' with the pace of the Game AI (Skrimish). Who can build faster more units? Who can upgrade faster?

More often then ever, I lose. Early and decisively. And feel bad. ("I su_ck!")

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On top, I now have more games than ever. In the thousands. At my fingertips. Even worse, I enjoy the vast complexity of grand strategy war games, from the micro- to the macro-management. The bigger, the better. The more obscure, the better: Achtung Panzer, Graviteam Tactics, Battlefront (not the DICE/EA game), Theatre of War, to Gary Grisby & Co. turn-based madness, AEGOD & Slitherine, Matrix Games titles. But I do not immerse myself in one game. I do not spend enough time to learn it properly, to get better at it, to master it. These days, I prefer small chunks of entertainment. Not chasing mastery.

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Recently, Steel Division, from Eugen Software, the fine French makers of R.U.S.E. and the WarGame Series, made me overcome my old gamer shame, and I started using their TIME SLIDER to slow down the game!

Suddenly, I once again feel in control! Everything in the game clicks with me. I feel like I am a General, like I am Miyamoto, conducting a virtual orchestra … of war.

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Speaking of war – the Men of War game series is like the Ukranian/Russian response to Relic's Company of Heroes. Only, typical for Eastern European games, it is more demanding. More micro-management. On top of the CoH-type RTS warfare, you control the inventory of single soldiers, you can even 'hop' into one of them and fully take control, like it's a DOTA 2 Moba hero!

As so often, I liked the games, but was never able to make it through a skrimish or campaign. One misclick, one moment too slow, and I would get behind, not recover and lose vs the AI.

Pausing RTS games helps figuring out what is happening where, but feels like cheating. Takes you out of it. It feels like enforced "turn-based" gaming. I never do it.

But then, I overcame my inner demons and while browsing the keyboard options, accidentally found the "time" key. SLOWING THE GAME DOWN was what turned it into something glorious! Suddenly, the game turned into a - still moving - management puzzle game, I was able to handle. Bullet time (which is a pretty stupid name for slowing down time, since bullets are usually fast? ... unless you throw them at someone!) or turning the game into a never-ending slomo action movie, suddenly opened up the fun for me.

I overcame the shame of using the time slider, the shame of ‘sucking’, of getting old and slow.

“Slow Down!” That's my RTS tip of the week.

Sixty World War I Games which are NOT Battlefield 1.

I was ready to compile my own list, but for everything you want to do, there already is a Wikipedia List! Since posting only a link would not suffice, I am writing some few words alongside those pretty pictures.

My personal highlights:

Red Baron

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It all started with Red Baron on the ATARI. Monochrome Vector Graphics! NVRAM! Battlezone style 3D (-ish) action! Amazing how old it is by now and how old I AM! You probably only know "Snoopy and the Red Baron"?

The Last Express

You haven't played The Last Express? Thankfully it is available (again) on Steam. It is a marvelous Point and Click Adventure, from a time, when Point & Click Adventures were still popular. Game developers quote this game as an influence in 2016. Just read the Steam reviews, if you are still not convinced.

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Darkest of Days

A horrible FPS. I only mention it here, because Jeff Gerstmann and the immortal Ryan Davis (RIP, my brother) made a hilarious QUICK LOOK about the game. Still worth laughing about. Apparently, the game developers saw this Quick Look and said "it was fair". They themselves knew, they didn't re-invent the FPS wheel.

VICTORIA II

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Yes. Aaahh, those Paradox "Interactive"(sic!) gameses ... if you are of the "One percent", suffer the Stockholm Syndrome, you 'play' and 'enjoy' Europa Universalis, Hearts of Iron, etc and think, those people who don't love these games are stupid idiots, you will think of Victoria and Victoria II as superb examples of grand strategy war games.

If you grew up in Kansas, you will only see an impenetrable wall of data dumps. 1990 style MS Excel 1.0 spreadsheets, disguised as video game data.

Have fun. I am not judging you. I am judging all of us!

Honorary mentions: Darkest Hour: A Hearts of Iron Game and Victoria II Heart of Darkness.

Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol

Not the kind of WWI game, one would think of making, this is a nice little gem of a game. Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol has nice game mechanics and is very playable. Everyone can play it right away. A Sid Meier signature. Also, nothing really 'historic' about this game. Another Sid Meier signature.

Rise of Flight United

Staying in the air, the Russian 777 Studios made Rise of Flight a good while ago. Unlike the majority of Steam customers, I think, this game is really great! No other WWI or any other hardcore flight sim (yes, I play them all), does fragile WWI aircrafts in turbulent air so convincing. The campaign is overly dramatic and looks awful (3D characters are not the game engines main purpose), but the flight model and the overall look and feel make up for it. I just love it!

The biggest 'plus' of this game are the 1 on 1 dogfights. You feel like you are totally IN IT - like you are INSIDE YOUR FAVORITE WWI AIR BATTLE MOVIE! I highly recommend either a full HOTAS setup, or - if you don't want to sit all day at your desk, with TrackIR on your head, you can map your XBOX 360 GAMEPAD (or Steam gamepad, or ANY gamepad, to the controls!) I use the right analog stick to look around, because you ALWAYS HAVE TO LOOK AROUND! You follow the enemy with your eyes (no 'tracking icons' in this game: WWI - remember?).

Video above: GIANTBOMB FLIGHT CLUB! feat. Drew, Vinny & Dave! Also TrackIR! Video below: me, testing me 360 controls.

Verdun

For the history books: before Battlefield 1, there always was Verdun. Verdun was first. Got it? I am too lazy to write a long review of what I like and what is wrong (and still buggy) with this game. I was following the game development of this game via developer blog updates on Steam. These developers got excited when they could share gifs of their accurate animation, reloading your ancient musket for 90 seconds ... unless you got killed (never do this while standing up! What's wrong with you?!). They also re-wrote the game for a new Unity engine (which is quite impressive). Sadly a lot of bugs are still in this game, since they focused to release the game on PS4 this summer (aah, the long shadow of EA/DICE. Cash in while you can). I hope, they will 'finish' their game, since it has interesting gameplay, if you can find like-minded players (I am the guy who stops at red lights in driving games. ... what?!)

It is basically Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad made in "World War One". It became famous outside the loyal player base, when the players and devs decided to hold a trench truce during Christmas, just like the real soldiers did in the real war. Unlike many game reviewers - and some players - you don't run around like chickens and shoot everything you think you see. This is NOT Battlefield ... or Call of Duty ... or whatever else.

Methodically, and preferably with team players, you defend your trenches against enemies. You MAKE A PLAN on how and where and when to attack. Always remember, one shot can kill you. There are no icons (did I mention that?). Enemies and Allies look the same!

All this writing makes me hot for the upcoming RISING STORM 2. I have to stop now...

To End All Wars (not that Kiefer Sutherland movie)

On the other end of the Paradox Interactive, Victoria, Hearts of Iron grand strategy war games spectrum, lies the abyss of the serious wargamer. The Matrix Games forum subscribers, the AGEOD engine intelligenzia. Those are mostly old people. Grown men, with long beards, who grew up in the Cold War, playing tabletop games, or actually participating in wars, like that nasty Vietnam one.

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Yes. As you can see, this is looking almost exactly as the Paradox games would look like (not for the trained eye though). The major difference is, this is turn-based! You have all the time in the world to decide what to do, where and how. And it helps! You will need a lot of time to move all your units, create new ones, figure out enemy 'fog-of-war' movement, check your economy, plan and execute attacks, supply lines(!), etc, etc, etc ...

Though it can seem overwhelming in the beginning, I surprisingly find myself 'digging' this game from the start. It is well designed and - with a little experience with so-called "4X games", you can figure it out too. To End All Wars comes with a bunch of distinct scenarios, based on real events during "The Great War" (which WWI was called. Nobody said "World War One". People had no clue, someone would start a "second World War" (most people didn't).

I still have to play more, but need to find the time. If only I would stop writing random blog posts on Gamespot, nobody will ever read. There's a hint...

... and many more.

Honorary mention: Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land, Commander: The Great War, Valiant Hearts: The Great War.

Post Mortem: I am certain there are many more WWI video games out there. Wikipedia entry only has the commonly known. MobyGames may have more? It would take a research team of the Washington Post or Boston Globe (of old "Spotlight" days), to find them all. Amiga. SpectrumZX. Commodore, etc, etc. Dig your own trench and you will find them?

Also, if you are a reader - of course, you are! You are still reading THIS! - I highly recommend the diaries, letters and novels of the Great War era. They are most interesting and gripping. The novels of that time, by eye-witnesses and soldiers of the war, are among the best literature of the 20th century!! If you can handle history books, browse Amazon (or whatever you like) and you will find great examples of formidable texts, too. Of course, history books should always be read with a grain of salt - they are too often interpretations of facts. Writers, having agendas. For every 'good book', you have to sit through five bad ones. Good lists can help you with that. These days, we have this thing, the kids call "Internet". Many good lists and reviews available.

Thanks for wasting your time, reading THIS thing. Mea culpa. Sincere apologies.

The beauty of fake physics in driving games.

[This started as an attempt of a short 'tweet' of a single observation in-game, but it became the rambling of a Bill Clinton speech. Unedited. Unchecked for (mental) errors. Judge accordingly.]

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All physics in video games are 'fake'.

Sure, in many cases, it is following basic rules of Newtonian physics. And in most cases, that is enough. In some games objects bounce 'correctly' (though, if you'd take a closer look, they only pretend to do that). In other games fluids 'seem' to flow like 'real'... yet, it's all made up, dumbed down (a lot!) and tweaked to run on a single (multi-core) CPU at 30 or 60 fps. Otherwise, a supercomputer would have to crunch the accurate simulation model numbers.

There is a reason why car companies are not using video games to model accurate airflow or car behavior.

What I do like in Assetto Corsa, are the little things, that mimic 'real' behavior.

In racing games, usually 'hit the brake' immediately 'applies' the brake. Turn left, immediately turns the camera (car) left, etc. That is how 'fun' is created. Video game audiences cannot be bothered with 'laggy' controls. And often, they are right. A video game that does it wrong, makes your car 'float' across the track; no real sense of driving.

A perfect example of trying to find a balance is Codemasters attempt for many years to satisfy two different player types with their DiRT, Grid and Formula 1 games. Simulation fans and arcade, mainstream audiences were offered the same model of (fake) physics, if you turned off all assists in game (ABS, brake 'help', automatic shifting, etc). The 'sim community' didn't like it. Not at all.

Now, those guys at Codemasters are experts! They are doing this for decades. And even though, they know so much and are able to do amazing things (the games are still 'good', but aimed at - you know - an audience bigger than the niche of a niche), they settled for car physics that do 'certain' things, but are limited in behavior (remember? the "fun" in video games. "But is it 'fun'?" is the game reviewers question to everything). What they could do, if they are let to, is shown in DiRT Rally. They are simulating tyre traction on uneven surfaces! A completely different 'driving' experience!

FORZA, Gran Turismo, rFactor, iRacing, Race07 (now Raceroom Racing), etc ... they all offer a certain depiction of 'reality', of 'simulation'. The game developers make decisions and the sum of their decision making is the interpretation of the 'world' they wanted to create. Their interpretation of 'physics'.

No wonder, Burnout Paradise has a far more 'realistic' car damage model than Gran Turismo (which has next to none). No wonder, FORZA has very elaborate surface/traction physics than SimBin's excellent racers (FORZA had help from some math guys from Microsoft Research). And a game like Raceroom Racing Experience is even simulating the transmission model to a degree that allows simulation of drivetrain elasticity (oscillation!).

Only a few games are able to tweak their settings to a level, where driving 'feels real'. Again, to a certain extend. You are introduced to torque, inertia, etc, etc.

Over the years, as a fan of driving games/'simulations', you get to appreciate the little things some of these games manage to do.

Sadly, what none of those video games can do, though, is the most important aspect of driving: movement forces.

You cannot simulate g-forces for people not moving, sitting on their couch. You have to experience them.

Thanks for reading. If you have time, watch the videos!

Nvidia "Game Ready" drivers... pure marketing or 'real'?

This was also posted as two comments on the social network 'Playfire'. It is an 'opinion' as much as it is speculative. I don't work for any graphic chip company.

Nvidia "Game Ready" drivers...

... have mostly become a marketing tool for Nvidia to make you 'update', while prob. 90% of all cards get no driver update or 'optimization' whatsoever?

I do not know how ATI/AMD is doing these days, but I see Nvidia, using new flashy game releases, to push another round of useless nonsense once again on your harddrives, just to make you not forget their message: "(Your) new game = Nvidia's got your back".

Most 'updates' these days are Geforce Experience Profiles, Nvidia Shield and/or SLI related issues. Most recently VR API support. I can live without those 'updates'. "Use the latest driver" was a standard answer when something didn't work right. With some games "use a previous driver" has become a new answer in the game support forums.

GAMEWORKS™ - GAME WORKS?

Don't get me wrong. Nvidia (AND AMD) are still working with game publishers and developers on specific games. Always did. There STILL ARE per-game specific driver (tweaks) being released. But not with every new big game (as it used to be in 1999 = specific drivers for specific cards).

What is quite evident, is that Nvidia moved on to their 900 series cards and doesn't care about the rest anymore. But 'the rest' is what most people still have out there?!

The success of the 980/970 this year and the recent 960s turned the 'driver' carousel around. These days the 'latest cards' have the most 'mature' drivers (if they work or not is another question). Used to be the other way around.

Aside from the obvious Batman Arkham Knight, I still have to see evidence of 'real', different driver code when promoted games come out (from MGS V, to GTA V, Mad Max, AC Syndicate to Battlefront). I'd say, none of these games needed a 'new driver'. They run just fine on previous versions.

And Nvidia's free API (Gameworks/APEX Framework incl PhysX and now VR) is like DirectX. API doesn't change with every game.

Marketing has really taken over the update cycle. That is my point.

The End of an RTS era? Starcraft 2 Legacy of the Void

[This was also posted in the Idle Thumbs/Three Moves Ahead Forum]

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Waking up to the formidable Science Fiction Space Opera Single Player RTS Campaign, that is the "Legacy of the Void". The last chapter in the Starcraft 2 saga... and maybe, also, the end of an era?

I share the rhapsody that was intoned in the latest Three Moves Ahead podcasts. Even Blizzard has moved on to greener pastures with their latest IP's (although, who would have thought that the online version of card games would be such a hit, despite the 'online poker' crowd, and the loyal 'Magic the Gathering' few? Well, obviously a small team at Blizzard did). It's all Lords Management and F2P and multiplayer always online, always smart phone/tablet from here on out, isn't it?

Never mind "Grey Goo", or the - once again - failed attempt of Eugen to make a campaign for their "Act of Aggression" (did these guys really make R.U.S.E.?), the future certainly doesn't lie in the kind of games, some of us grew up with: the big budget, "triple A" single player RTS games (with skrimish vs AI and multiplayer as 'Game 2' and 'Game 3' included addons.

Ensemble Studios which was Bruce Shelley was kicked out of business thanks to Microsoft, it feels like ages ago. Gas Powered Games' Chris Taylor failed to find an audience on Kickstarter for his Supreme Commander revival and found refuge under the umbrella of Wargaming.net (who are working on a 'new' Master of Orion(!!), if some of you forgot about that. Westwood Studios - now 'EA Los Angeles' - had their swan song a while ago with their weaker and weaker C&C series. Creative Assembly is lurking into the F2P market with their Total War ARENA, et cetera, et cetera.

Yes, there will always be 'niche' market developers, 'indie' games, which will try to fill the void, but my question is rather "are 'we' - the classic RTS crowd - a dying breed?"

Of course, people will always play RTS games. In their many different (smart phone?) shapes and forms, but which companies will have the money to finance a two-three digit multi-million RTS game, which gives you a fantastic single player game experience?

A dark prophecy about to be fulfilled?
A dark prophecy about to be fulfilled?

So, while I enjoy my experience with the last Starcraft 2 edition, it feels like a farewell, a bitter-sweet last chapter, what was such a familiar 'feeling': motivated by outstanding cutscenes and characters, diving into the gameplay, to achieve the objectives, to crush the enemy, just to be awarded at the end of a mission with new bits of the story. A single player campaign, which is more digestible than the frantic multi-player online matches against super-human enemies.

And even though Blizzard is holding the 'classic RTS' torch high and proudly and making extra efforts to invite new, inexperienced players to their RTS game (again, superb, didactic tutorials and training modes, even a new coop mode), I hardly see 'new', younger audiences grabing this standalone 3rd installment of Starcraft 2 out of curiosity, like we picked up new game boxes from the retail shelves of our local game store, just because we found the art work of the box interesting.

I am usually not the kind of person to say "Punk is dead" ... "Rock'n'Roll is dead" ... "Jazz is dead" - but find myself in that corner. Quite a lonely place.

Why Dark Soulses with ReShade is better...

I keep singing that 'ReShade' song for quite some time now. Before that it was SweetFX and before that it was Boris' ENB Series. I did 'downsampling' way before 'Durante' came up with his DSFix and GeDoSaTo tool (which is now an integral part of Nvidia's Graphic Panel settings - they call it DSR = Dynamic Super Resolution).

I have no 'one' preset, I could share with you. The setting you see in this video was made by tinkering with the individual configuration files, after pushing the files and folder from the ReShade 'Mediator' GUI tool to the game folder.

What stands out (in a 'good' or 'bad' way, depending on what kind of person you are) the setting emphasize on the real-time rendering effect called "Screen Space Ambient Occlusion" (SSAO), casting a 'shadow'-compiling effect, giving 3D objects more plasticity. In combination with McFly's & Matso's Depth of Field effect AND a very high BOKEH effect ( a camera/photographic lens effect, making light sources in the background becoming 'out of focus' blobs of colored dots. Video games mimic such lens effect. It is massively used in the Unreal Engine 4 demos and in games like GTA V).

Btw, if you have a 3D monitor or Nvidia's 3D Vision glasses, Dark Souls and Dark Souls 2 look amazing in 3D!! Since the game is all about positioning and darkness, the stereoscopic 3D effect allows you to better 'see' where your character is and the range of your enemies. Think of miniature figurines you get to control with your gamepad.

If you don't have a 3D monitor or 3D glasses, you can still get a glimpse of the 3D effect with a pair of cheap red/cyan plastic glasses. It is called (color) anaglyph 3D and works just as well. The only downside is that all the colors are gone. But the effect still justifies it. Try it out?

Three Moves Ahead Podcast talks about NOBUNAGA'S AMBITION: Sphere of Influence.

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In early September, I made a forum post on Idle Thumbs, talking about my happy times playing the NOBUNAGA'S AMBITION: Sphere of Influence tutorial:

https://www.idlethumbs.net/forums/topic/10385-nobunagas-ambition-sphere-of-influence/

I never thought more than 2-3 people will pay attention to it, since the 3MA harcore strategy crowd is very western, table-top, DOS-PC, wargaming driven. But, It turned out, the Koei games are far more known and popular than I thought, even in these circles. Fast forward a month later, and my most favorite (and very excellent strategy) game podcast @3MA made an episode about Koei & the Nobunaga game series. They invited Nicholas Vining, from Gaslamp Games (Dungeons of Dredmor, Clockwork Empires), who loves the series, and they all talked about all the points, I found so intriguing - from the tutorial to grand strategy game design, to game AI:

https://www.idlethumbs.net/3ma/episodes/nobunagas-ambition-sphere-of-influence

Like with all Three Moves Ahead Podcasts, this one is also worth listening, even if you don't know or care about the specific game.

Tags: Nobunaga Series, Console Strategy Games, Historical Games, Koei Tecmo, Crusader Kings 2, Paradox Game Studios, Total War Series, Game Design, Game AI.

Want to tell a story? First step. Use a game engine! Start making your movie...

The days, before MACHINIMA DOT COM hijacked a trendy word, which used to express a process of people, gamers, players, using game engines to be creative, beyond just pressing buttons and waiting for the next achievement.

It all started by being amazed at the levels, players would usually run through in seconds - and being proud of their times - while level designers worked their heart out, day and night, building those levels. With time, I was less and less interested in shooting my way through endless hordes of enemies and had the bigger balls to type in 'notarget' and take a closer look at what I was missing.

I started reading those messages on the walls, starring at those developer pictures on the whiteboards. Did you notice, how many of these developer Polaroids often are surrounded by the text "Missing!"? I guess, their families knew about this 'inside-joke' all too well. This should be a topic for Wikipedia? Game developer portraits in-game saying "Missing" person? That is the stuff you start thinking about, when you don't have the pressure of enemies chasing you. Also, looking at those crazy machines in Doom 3, and thinking "would they work?" - "is this a generator, or something else?", etc...

But unlike others, more creative people, it all stopped for me right there. Others went on and opened that WON Half Life SDK on the CD-ROM, they made (rather mostly poor) first levels for Unreal Tournament and some of those guys and girls made amazing levels, decades before 'the industry' figured out, that gamers want to be creative too and started shipping tools and unfinished games, letting YOU make something playable.

Skip forward. Today, I have even less time than I used to have. Interests shift. But the idea that these days it is easier than ever to 'make something creative', by either 'playing' a 1000 hours of Minecraft, or using Super Mario Maker (FINALLY, Nintendo), is amazing!

In my time, you had to pay money for a compiler ( googlebing "What is a compiler?"), pay money for a text editor that wasn't 'MS Notepad', pay money for a SDK, and so on and so forth. Of course, everyone was using 'Corel Draw', 'Photoshop' and later '3D Max' without a license. Heck, even the Crysis devs did!

Don't get me wrong. If you want to actually write code, more power to you! Game jams are fun. They are an awesome way to start learning. But many people stop after their first time opening Eclipse or the Unity SDK. It is always a question of 'what next?' - and if you don't have a tutor, a sensei, a 'senior' coder, who is guiding you, you will be trapped in the abyss of 'self-learning'. Many give up after a day or two. Without another person, helping you with real knowledge, it is very hard. You will waste time on things that can be solved easily, while you will brush over other parts, that would demand thorough learning.

But telling stories in game engines, on the other hand, is easy.

Telling stories in game engines is something that gives non-programming literate ('illiterate' is such a negative word) the power to quickly create something eye-catching, while not having to learn 10 years of graphic programming or See Plus Plus (ok, these days, none of this IS needed, but it was). People, who are not Ken Levine and have (had) their own game studio, commanding people around, normal people, have stories to tell and are not always interested in learning code or 3D vector graphics! The kind of stories they have to tell are more interesting then yet another Mario 1-1 level? All you need is something to say. Imagine something! Write a piece of dialog. Write a short story! The rest is entry-level video/audio editing. If you use YouTube, you can even use their editor to do it.

And then there are the future programmers, who don't look like me or you anymore. I am very interested in those future storytellers. Diversity rocks. Again, it was never as easy as it is today. What are you waiting for?

Elite Dangerous does not want you, new player...

S P A C E ... a lot of it. You must love it, or you are in the wrong universe...
S P A C E ... a lot of it. You must love it, or you are in the wrong universe...

Yes. A new player.

Yes. A new player rant.

Hey! I made it to the 'Training Station
Hey! I made it to the 'Training Station" - So, what's there to do at the Training Station? ... N o t h i n g !!

I am not saying, this game is not good or great or 'fill-in-your-favorite-adjective'. And yes, we can skip the "this is ELITE - just like it was meant to be", or "It is obviously not for you", et cetera, et cetera requitals. I was there, when the original ELITE came out (Apple II and Commodore for me). I played my fair share of Wing Commander and Freelancer and what not.

... what I AM saying is ... this game is STILL 'new player' unfriendly AS HELL! But why??

After so many patches and updates, one would think (I should never assume, but I did speculate) that the lack of anything comprehensive or even an accitental, unexpected sun erruption of a of a more welcoming first gaming hour, was on one of those far, far away, lower bullet points of the developers 'to-do list'. But, nay... - all new content is focused on the established core player base. Most likely, reflecting their (your) wishes.

"Yes. This is the 'Training Station' - Still, nothing to see hear. Oh, btw, this is not the Station Chief speaking, this is JUST MY OWN VOICE IN MY HEAD!"

I play all kinds of game genres. I am fairly interested in game design and I enjoy tutorials as an academic research topic, since I believe one of the higher callings in higher education is the ability to COMMUNICATE knowledge from one person to the next.

A video game, which tells you "Go watch a YouTube video", is filing bancruptcy when it comes to game(play) design.

I don't care, how great the game mechanics, how vast the universe, how amazing the later game is; the very first hour is important, in my game design belief. Even if a game does not explain it in-game (RTFM, etc), it has to make an effort.

Tutorial: Dogfight - just dog fight. No need to explain how it works, right? Weapon systems, targeting, convergence/targeting range - is there one??

In the end, there is not a lot to learn, in this particular game. It does not demand reading a 1000 pages (like the DCS World A-10C Warthog manual) and/or understanding real world navigation systems, combat aviation, radar functions (again, DCS World - the finest example of a flight sims), yet what it presents as a 'tutorial' does not deserve that title?

I refer - again - to DCS World, which has some of the more demanding and complicated 'gameplay'/simulation systems, and yet THEY understand how to interactively communicate what to do and how to do it and they find ways to draw new players in, just like Blizzard does, or Valve, or Relic, or any given decent developer.

"There was no money" was an argument before the first two, three patches/updates. Now, there is no excuse.