It seems like, in the forum where I have read people ask about creating a game similar to those made by major game companies, that the responses invariably include some comment that goes along the lines of…
Are you insane? People like you do not know the magnitude of what it is you are saying you want to do.
I am sorry if some people think that someone might not have the ability to create a good game, but that does not mean that the attempt should not be made. I want to create a game, I want it to rival titles such as Mass Effect and Dragon Age. Am I a bit insane to be starting this project on my own with only what my father taught me about computer programming and a handful of self taught 3D skills? You bet I am! And insanity, especially of the kind that does the seemingly impossible, is not always a bad thing. A bit of healthy insanity is sometimes a good thing. So, yes, if it makes you feel better to think that no one could possibly create a game on their own, or with a small band of like-minded persons working for nothing more than to build a game, by all means, feel that way, it is your right. And I hope one day you get the chance to play some great games made by those who refused to think they could not build a great game because they did not have a lot of money and a major game studio crew.
I have started coding for the Open Source Zombie Game (OSZG), I am not formally trained in any coding programs, but I did learn a lot about several languages from my father, so have started working in what I know of C++ and will learn more as I go along.
I downloaded Notepad++ to use as my code editor and while I have not used the program in many long years, I am finding it to be very easy to work with. I am going to be using Notepad++ as my official coding program for OSZG right now.
The code is a little harder to say what will be the official code language for OSZG, since, as I said, I learned a bit of this and a bit of that from my dad. My first games were made in the early 1980′s using BASIC, then C+. My dad knew all kinds of programming languages and taught me a bit of everything, which I expanded into a bit more of coding languages that came along in the years since.
My goal at the moment is to try to stick to C++, but I have a fear that when I finally get the program to the point I am ready to share it things might look a little funny to others trying to figure it out. I apologize in advance for that and ask that if changes are made to my program the programmers notes are made ample use of to explain WHY the change so I can adapt my own style to what formally taught programmers know as proper coding. Thanks!
Game Title: …. to be determined later
Working Title: OS Zombie Game [OSZG] – AKA Open Source Zombie Game
Yeah, yeah, I know, it is not exactly original, but it helps me keep this project organized for now.
Mission Statement: “Life Before Gaming”
This means that if you have something you need to do other than work on the game, GO DO IT! Your life comes first. Do not feel like you have to work on this game, it is Open Source to allow everyone to work on it in their spare time when they are looking for something to work on. There is no penalty for leaving notes about what you are thinking and letting someone else handle it over the weekend so you can go fishing.
Official Website: www.phantascene.com
This is the official website for the game until I create something else and move the game there.
In the near future, a viral outbreak spreads across the planet. As cities fall and the global foundations of modern civilization begin to collapse, the world governments declare a state of global disaster. Major metropolitan areas are quarantined in a desperate effort to slow the spread of the virus. Governments declare martial law. Major cities across the world are bombed or burned by their own governments to stop the contamination from escaping into rural areas, where the last hopes of humanity still struggles to survive. While some see the spread of the virus as mankind’s inevitable fate, others race to find a cure before it is too late.
Genera: Third Person RPG / shooter
Setting: Near future, after a fast-spreading virus has caused a major collapse of the world’s cities.
Rating: M …. (or at least that is the assumed rating it would get if it had one)
It is difficult to set any solid rating on a game designed to be open source, so I am going to make an executive decision here and say the finished game would probably get a M rating according to the ESRB rating system.
The game DOES NOT have to end up with a rating as high as M, however, I know the safest course is to assume it will, particularly since every game I love to play on my game shelf has a M rating.
The official ESRB word on what a rating of M means is….
“MATURE – Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.”
- Intense Violence – Graphic and realistic-looking depictions of physical conflict. May involve extreme and/or realistic blood, gore, weapons and depictions of human injury and death
- Blood and Gore – Depictions of blood or the mutilation of body parts
- Sexual Content – Non-explicit depictions of sexual behavior, possibly including partial nudity
- Strong Language - Explicit and/or frequent use of profanity
I was born at the dawn of the 1970′s, when all this stuff was just getting kicked into motion, so there was not much life before gaming for me, but here are times when life has to come before gaming in a more priorities measure of the phrase. That is what happened to me this past week. I had multiple projects dropped on me from my part-time seamstress job, so I had to shuffle and struggle to get caught up and that left no time for sleep (literally, as I type this I am drinking strong coffee because I had to stay up until 6:30 this morning working on a sewing project, then still had to get up a couple of hours later for my normal job as a caregiver), and if there is no time to sleep, there is no time to work on games. I tell you, juggling multiple part-time jobs is a terrible way to try to make a living, and it leaves minimal time for being a gamer, much less a game designer.
And that is why I am taking my first project Open Source. I have no time to build a full game and have it turn out as nice as I envision it being and I am guessing there are a lot of other people who would love to see their name on a video game, but just do not have the time to sit down and create one. So, if a few of us part-time game creators were to get together, I think we could design a game to rival any of the big name game companies. And, maybe, create a new Open Source game company while we’re at it.
So, I am entering this project with a mission statement of “Life before gaming”, if you have something that needs to be done, like your day job or playing a video game (which I call research), or just going fishing, then by all means, put that first! If I had not loaned my ATV to my brother I would be out on the trails right now, not at the computer. This project is a slow evolution that will move at the speed it moves, some days it will move by leaps and bounds, and some months it might barely trudge along. It will move, though, and I welcome any assistance in guiding the directions it moves.
So, the first official notice about this game will follow this post…
I have known for a while now that I want to get started on a game designed to be an open source game, one that would start out on Windows, but eventually be able to be released for a variety of other platforms, including consoles such as the PlayStation and XBox.
My current plan, which is subject to change based on community feedback, is to make a co-op game that supports 1 to 4 player game play in a post-zombie apocalypse survival style RPG game.
Why do I want to make this particular game?
I like zombie shooter games and I like RPGs, but mostly it is because there are not enough multiple player co-op games. Games tend to have two players in a campaign co-op, or up to around 16 players that can play in filtered down versions of part of a level map, but for actual campaign co-op play of up to four characters… I’m not sure I know of any gamed that allows that kind of player and game interaction.
That is why I want to make this particular game. So two, three or four friends can make their way through a game world filled with all the dangers of a post zombie apocalypse world.
Current expectations for the game:
- 3rd person perspective with customizable player characters
- Single player gameplay with 2 – 4 player co-op capability
- Customizable weapons and character clothing
- RPG storyline where player choices affect the game world
- In-game puzzles and mini-games
The game will have 8 planned levels, with several areas within each of those main levels.
Something else that I am considering is a step away from the traditional video game zombies, and kind of a step back to the old voodoo origins of the zombie, by making the zombie virus something that causes the infected to be varying levels of infected and have cult type leaders that take on sort of a voodoo priest persona thinking that the zombies are their minion slaves. I’m still considering if I want to use this or not, but I think it would make for some rather interesting level boss and mini boss types for the game.
I will share more game notes on this tomorrow.
I purchased a new e-book from Amazon today. How To Make The Next Game (Lazy Designer Game Design) by Brent Knowles. It is a 152 page long book about the realities of creating a game in the world of game industries such as EA.
Brent Knowles worked for BioWare as a game designer for ten years, working on titles that included Bauldur’s Gate 2 and Dragon Age. In this book he shares his insights into what it takes to be a game designer.
I will be working from this book, as well as others, as I create my first effort at a open world, open source video game title here on this website.
Or do they?
Somewhere along the line the stereotype of “gamer” came to be a socially awkward man living in his parent’s basement and playing video games. An online search online provides no clue as to where this notion came from and with no documentation for the source f the stereotype, the assumption is drawn that it came about in the early days of video gaming when movies depicted adults that played video games as men who lived with their parents and were socially awkward.
Another assumption many accept is that women do not play video games. Evidence clearly indicates otherwise. While there were, admittedly, more men involved in the industry, women have been a part of gaming since the beginning.
Photo from Kutsher’s Facebook page of Birdye Sann playing pinball at Kutsher’s in the 1950′s with her son.
A picture from Kutsher’s, a resort in the Catskills, shows a woman and her son playing pinball at the resort in the 1950′s (right).
Another picture, circa 1960′s, found on Flicker shows two women playing pinball (below).
Another picture found in the Laurier Library digital archives (below), shows a woman playing pinball circa 1972-1973.
Three decades of pinball games, three decades of documented proof that women played the games on some level or another.
And pinball is not the only games women were a part of. About.com has a list of The Most Important Women in the History of Video Games that details a number of women who have contributed significantly to what is perceived as a male dominated industry.
Why then are women depicted as being a minority in the industry today?
It is likely because of the varying levels of harassment that women face from a number of sources within the game community.
Game programmer Carol Shaw, who is possibly the first female video game programmer, spoke in an interview with Vintage Computing about her experience as a female game programmer working at Atari.
BE: What was the interview process like? Did you visit Atari?
CS: Yeah, I went to Atari. I visited their office, played the games, and interviewed — I don’t remember too much about the interview.
BE: Did they mention anything about you being a woman as being something different or unusual at the time?
CS: Not when I interviewed. It was later. One time when I was working in the lab, Ray Kassar, President of Atari, was touring the labs and he said, “Oh, at last! We have a female game designer. She can do cosmetics color matching and interior decorating cartridges!” Which are two subjects I had absolutely no interest in, so…
BE: Did that bother you, what he said?
CS: Later, the other guys said, “Don’t pay any attention to him. Do whatever you want to do.” It wasn’t like there was discrimination among the other game designers or anything.
It seems like times have not changed the way women are treated. Today there are a lot of good people in the gaming world, but those good people are often overshadowed in the news by a handful of bad elements that lurk in the shadows.
Kotaku has a pair of articles about the two sides of the gaming coin when it comes to women making video games. Here’s a Devastating Account of the Crap Women in the Games Business Have to Deal With. In 2012, an article that looks at the reasons women Tweeted for why there are not more women making games. And Here’s Why Women In The Games Business Put Up With So Much Crap, an article that has women explaining via Tweets why they put up with it all.
And women gamers do put up with a lot. Gamasutra has an article on it from this past February that takes a look at the Reactions to a woman’s voice in an FPS game:
The goal of this study is to determine how gamers’ reactions to male voices differ from reactions to female voices. The authors conducted an observational study with an experimental design to play in and record multiplayer matches (N = 245) of a video game. The researchers played against 1,660 unique gamers and broadcasted pre-recorded audio clips of either a man or a woman speaking. Gamers’ reactions were digitally recorded, capturing what was said and heard during the game. Independent coders were used to conduct a quantitative content analysis of game data. Findings indicate that, on average, the female voice received three times as many negative comments as the male voice or no voice. In addition, the female voice received more queries and more messages from other gamers than the male voice or no voice.
Why would a woman, equal in gaming skill to a man, get three times the negative comments? There does not seem to be any clear answer, even as the often harsh abuse continues to occur. The NPR ran an article last August about how Online Harassment Gets Real For Female Gamers and the NY Times ran an article that same month entitled In Virtual Play, Sex Harassment Is All Too Real that highlights a number of instances, including one young woman who, after being sexually harassed by her coach in a Cross Assault tournament, walked her player character directly into the path of an opponent player to forfeit the match and end the abusive behavior.
Is there some common thread that connects the abusive types? Do the men who harass women in online games understand how unacceptable their behavior is? What makes a man, who would never consider such harassment toward another male player, launch hurtful ot sexist comments at another player as soon as they discover the other player is a woman?
Thankfully, women are not letting the rotten apples spoil the barrel. Instead women are, for the most part, blocking and or reporting the harassment and going on to enjoy the games despite the troublemakers. The Entertainment Software Association reports that 47% of all players are women, and women over 18 are one of the fastest growing demographics. In fact, adult women represent 30% of the gaming population, over three times more than the 18% of the population that are boys age 17 and under.
The gaming industry might have a long standing stereotype of a lonely young man living in his parents’ basement in its past, but data from groups such as the Entertainment Software Association proves that, if women remain determined to not be chased away from the games they love, the future stereotype gamer might just be a 30-something working-class woman playing Call of Duty or Resident Evil on her handheld gaming device during her morning commute to work.
I had a strange issue when I was working with Blender today. Out of nowhere my pan option stopped working. Normally I can hold shift and press the middle mouse button to allow me to pan the view of my model. Very useful and something I use constantly while I am working on a model.
It was highly frustrating when it stopped working, more frustrating when a search online failed to locate any help with correcting the error. So, I scrapped a whole day worth of work and started anew in a new model window that I could pan in.
About an hour into recreating my masterpiece I had the same issue crop up. No pan functionality. After another effort to find a solution online I went into my downloads and reinstalled Blender 2.61 over the current copy and it solved the issue. Shift+MMB once more made my image pan around on the screen. For about 20 minutes. Then it sopped working again. [Insert anguished scream here]
Off I went once again in search of the solution. I found a lot of people saying they had the same issue, including that they could use the shift+MMB pan in other models, but not the one they were on deadline with. And there were no solutions anywhere to be found. There were a lot of suggestions to go into the user preferences and tweak stuff there, but none of that actually solved the issue. Not even briefly.
Frustrated I reloaded the program once again and set to work on my model… again.
Yes. Again I lost the use of Shift+MMB=pan. I was not about to let this continue without a solution, so I went on an in-depth Internet hunt for some solution to this, somewhere. I knew that in the vast dark cold of cyberspace there had to be someone else who had not only fixed this issue, but shared it with the world. And there was.
On a Second Life forum I found a thread on this issue from 2011. In the thread, Need Blender Help, someone describes the same issues I have been having and a wonderful member called Rage Riptide offers up the simplest of solutions that works.
In the Properties panel (main viewport press N) look under “View” and there is a option that says “Lock to Cursor”. If it is checked then you lose your ability to pan using shift+MMB. UNCHECK IT! So simple, but not something I would have ever realized was an issue without someone pointing it out. So, THANK YOU Rage Riptide, whoever you are, for this solution to what seemed to have been an unstoppable spreading plague that swept unchecked across the Blender community.
A while back I set out on a mission to create a video game using Open Source programs such as GIMP and Blender. Life got busy and things got shelved, including my efforts to create a video game. I’m back to my efforts and rather than try to piece back together where I had left things off at, I am going to start all over again with a fresh idea and a new concept and go forth from there.
The Mission: Create a game that could, one day, lend itself to being multi-player zombie shooter game.
Style: Third person shooter / RPG
ESRB Rating: Target rating of Mature; simply because I want to include whatever elements I want without worrying about if they are too intense or graphic for the audience.
Platform: PC, Open Source programming using Blender and Unity.
I’m not too concerned about any of the above guidelines right now, however, for now, I will settle for creating a first person walk around map for the starting level. Once that is done I will work my way toward 3rd person, then adding in the zombies and other details, then continue onward from there to expand and improve the game.
So, since I am starting out fresh I need to define what I will be looking at in terms of what this game is going to be like in a broad world-view parameter. First I know that I want this to be an established world in chaos where the zombies have settled in and are here to stay, and the survivors are making the best they can of a very bad situation with small groups of survivors holed up in buildings and trying to forage for food without becoming zombie chow themselves.
The initial effort by me will be to build a map of a starting point for the game, then getting a player character walking around in it, and finally adding atmospheric details before I move on to the next stage of turning it into a zombie shooter game.
I wanted to love the newest Army of Two game, I really did. Anyone that has read my posts about it can see that I was totally excited about the prospect. When I heard it was in production I started inquiring at my local Gamestop on when I could pre-order it. The day I finally was able to place a pre-order on it, the clerk had not even known yet that it was possible and another clerk had to say they thought it was, then they looked it up and sure enough, I could pre-order. I placed a pre-order on two copies, one for me, one for my regular gaming co-op partner. That is how excited I was at the prospect of another Army of Two game. Even after Army of Two 40th Day failed to be as good as the original Army of Two, I was certain that the latest game would make up for any shortcomings that 40th Day had had.
I was wrong.
The first thing that me and my co-op partner noticed was that the game sucked. I made a list even of some of the more aggravating parts that I found sucked.
1) The 2nd player felt like no more than a low-level supporting character to the primary player.
This is not really something I think they had intended, in fact, in the cut-scenes I noticed my co-op partner was seeing things that happened to my character, Bravo, pretty regularly. Bravo had the potential to be a lead character, but… he was never actually made into one. I can’t define it really, he just… felt like Batman’s sidekick, or like Jimmy Olsen being support for Superman. Bravo was there, but the game had a definite feel of Alpha being fully capable of handling the the whole game solo if they wanted to. There were no scenes that felt like Bravo was essential. Even when the pair split up, a scene highlighted in the demo for the game, there was really no need for Bravo to stay on the ground (he could take the helicopter, but I wanted to run the ground and let my co-op partner plat with the big f-ing gun in the chopper), anyway, there was ONE person shooting rockets at the helicopter that Bravo had to deal with. Nothing in the game was actually dependent on having TWO leads, so player 2 was left feeling like a tag-a-long support character that was there just to make sure Alpha had a buddy to talk to… which brings me to problem two.
2) No character interactions, no air guitar, no… life
EA removed the ability to make comments to one another. In Army of Two my co-op partner and I had GREAT FUN with well timed commentary, with bopping one another in the back of the head, with doing a dual air guitar after a really great battle. This was not a requirement for gaming, but it was so much fun and could have really made up for a lot of the flaws that Devil’s Cartel has. And it was perfectly within the realm of doable. The directional pad was setup to be used for issuing orders to the Bravo AI when there was only one player, this means that in co-op mode it was deactivated and did nothing. The directional pad could have quite easily been designated for commentary by the player’s character. Even if all we had was your basic “Nice!” “Move Out!” “Fall Back” and “Wait”, it would have added so much to the game’s playability. And rock-paper-scissors would have made “who goes over the wall first?” so much more fun.
3) No weapon swapping
While not everyone wants to be able to hand their buddy their gun, it was nice when my co-op partner and I were playing for the two of us to be able to equip the weapons we like to use, then out int he battlefield I could lend him my sniper rifle so he could climb up into a sniping position while I took the AGGRO for a little while and gave him a chance to play the sniper without his having to pack along a sniper rifle he never used. Unfortunately, EA removed the ability to trade weapons.
4) No Player 2 character mods while in a co-op match
When we started playing, just after my partner invited me into the game, I was able to pick out what mask and what body armor I wanted to wear. This was great, I loved it. We played a couple of missions and it unlocked a body armor that I had really wanted to be using, we go into the equip screen at the end of the mission and… I can not modify my character. I could modify my weapons and buy new weapons, but the character modification option was unselectable for me. My co-op partner was able to modify their own character, but for me to modify mine required we end the match, restart the match, and I do the mods I wanted in the character mod screen before we went on the next mission. After we start a mission I once again lost character customization until we ended co-op and restarted it again.
5) Alpha rules, Bravo is support only
I know it seems like I already noted this, but this is a different level of the earlier topic. The primary player plays as Alpha, never Bravo. The game was set up so that if you played solo you were Alpha and Bravo was an AI. No opportunity to swap and play as Bravo instead. If you start a co-op match, you are Alpha and your co-op player is Bravo. Period. It would have been really nice if Bravo had been set to be a character, not an AI.
My co-op partner compared the feel of the game to the feel of White Knight Chronicles, where the player’s character is nothing more than an observer that helps with combat. He called Devil’s Cartel “White Knight Chronicled with guns.” Alpha went forth and did all the stuff the player needs done, and Bravo tagged along in his shadow.
6) Weapon mods limited
I was disappointed when I went to modify my weapons and the only thing I could do with the handguns was change their colors. There was no ability to add a silencer, or scope, or… anything. You got the basic handguns and could paint them a variety of colors. That was it.
There was okay modifications on the other weapons, but it was still limited and left me wishing for a more Army of Two feel. I happen to have liked strapping an aluminum can to the muzzle of my rifle.
7) Salem and Rios
What can I say here without spoiling things? How about I know that EA had some changes in the CEO this past year, but COME ON!!!! Having ZERO respect for the players of the games might have something to do with the poor sales that lead to John Riccitiello’s resignation. Okay, I am going to get into a spoiler here, so please skip to the next paragraph now if you do not want to know what I am going to be spoiling you on. —- SKIP NOW… Okay, so, I spent the entirety of the original Army of Two game playing as Elliot Salem. I LOVE Salem, he is my character and I had a great time giving my co-op partner a hard time via Elliot. And my co-op partner had a majorly fun time giving me a hard time via Rios’ interactions with Elliot. Army of Two was what a co-op game should have been. We became instant fans of the game series before it even was a series. Then along came 40th Day and once again I had my Elliot Salem with his oh-so-cool flame mask and the nifty tattoos and the smart-assed wisecracking between me and my co-op partner was off and running once again. We had major fun despite any shortcomings the game had simply because we had OUR characters and we were partners in an adventure. And.. along comes Devil’s Cartel and… well… EA really pissed me off with this. The character I adopted as mine. MY CHARACTER was made the antagonist for the newest game in the series. And why? Because they turned him into a pissy teen drama queen on PMS that got mad at Rios because Salem was presumed dead and left behind. That pissed us off so much I can’t even describe it. It was a slap in my face that the character I had chosen as MINE in the series was made into a vindictive jackass that wanted to kill his best friend and destroy their company over what SHOULD have been a “oh, hey, you left me behind, jerk. Do you know how many cartel morons I had to kill to get to safety? You’re down 500 points on the head-shot competition now. :-p” Really, EA, I can tolerate my character being killed off at the end of Mass Effect, that was really aggravating, but I can live with it, but — I am not going to pre-order any more EA games thanks to this. I REALLY wanted to LOVE the game, I would have been more than willing to love it no matter what – except for making my beloved Elliot Salem character into a vindictive jackass. I spent the entire game hoping and rationalizing, “well… maybe he has amnesia from the explosion and the cartel boss has convinced him he works for the cartel?” But nope, it is a simple case of the game’s writers and production team and EA all got together and said “What can we do to loose the support of one of our most vehement fans?” If you are trying to loose all gamer support so you can file bankruptcy, this is the right track!
Okay, so, for those of you that skipped the LONG rant with spoilers above. Let me get back on track.
After Devil’s Cartel, I have to wonder if EA had plans to decimate their remaining loyal gamer base so they could show unbelievably poor sales and thereby be allowed to file for bankruptcy. I can think of no other reason for why they made some of the decisions they made with the game. I am going to think more than just twice before I pre-order any future EA games.
For all of the problems the game had, however, it did have a few good points. Just over halfway though the game my co-op partner and I actually started having fun on the missions, there was still a lot to dislike, but at least we had some fun playing. Particularly when it came to the close quarters combat (CQC), there were some nice moves in CQC that I enjoyed. And the mask customization capability was really nice.
Overall, we took both copies of Devil’s Cartel back to Gamestop on our next trip to town (only a couple of days after buying them) and got $22 each for the games. (ouch, less than 1/3rd of what we paid for them!) We did manage to get a used copy of Metal Gear Rising and an old copy of Bioshock for both copies of Devil’s Cartel, plus $6 more. And we have already had more fun with each of those than we had playing Devil’s Cartel.
My score for Army of Two: Devil’s Cartel – 2 out of 5 stars. Which seems to be pretty in line with what others are giving it if you look online. As of my writing this the game has…
IGN 2.5 / 5
MetaCritic 2.5 / 5
Gamespot 2.5 / 5
Army of Two: Devil’s Cartel is a nice run for anyone that has either not already played the first two games, or who played solo as Rios and did not like Salem. If you played the first two games, particularly if you played them in co-op, and ESPECIALLY if you played them as Salem, then you will be better off to save your money and wait for this game to hit the el-cheapo discount racks before you spend anything on it. Or rent it and play through before you decide to buy it.