Prisoner 849

How long have I been in this scrap of metal junk?
Days? Months? Years? I can’t tell. There’s no day or night out here. Just the slow spinning of the planets around my ship as I drift around aimlessly.
All I have is me, myself, the computer on this ship, and whatever rations are left. And it wasn’t long until the rations ran out and the computer died, leaving me by myself in this bucket floating around…wherever.

I don’t remember what happened between then and now. Next thing I remember is waking up on a field of green. My body aches, my muscles burn all over. I grit my teeth, my bones quietly cracking and popping as I force them to move, to lift myself up to get a hold on my surrounndings.
I look up above, lifting my hand to block out the sun.
Wait, the sun?
Wow. Yeah, there it is.

It’s been a long time since I last saw a sun in the sky. Its light pours through the teal sky, the clouds rolling across slowly. Its rays shine down, pouring across the fields of grass, populated with a few sparse trees and giant rocks. On either side of me, the mountains rise high into the sky, and in the distance I can hear the rushing of water as it dives off the cliffs to the depths below. The entire thing, straight out of a work of art. It’s…breathtaking.
I never thought I would ever see anything like this again.
I drag my battered body along the only direction it could go, ignoring the searing fire of gashing cuts and possibly-broken bones. Pain be damned, I’m free now.

It didn’t take too much longer before I came across a small hut in the distance. Good, so this place has life.
Or, well, had life. Lying in the front was the body of another human–a man, dead, with his gun next to him. I pick it up and give it a twist, flexing my fingers around the trigger guard and peering down the sights.

Wait a minute. I know this gun.
And I think I know this place, too. Isn’t this the…

“How much do you remember?” A voice cuts my thoughts. I whirl around and aim my new treasure at him.
I met with two barrels of a shotgun pointing right to my face. Shit.
“Easy there.” He said quietly, fingers tightening around the stock. I took a moment to size him up. Tall. Clad in green combat armor, green fatigues. Tan boots and helmet, angular in appearance. And, of course, the aforementioned two barrels of a shotgun resting in his gloved hands. Even through the helmet, I could FEEL his eyes boring into me. Sizing up everything–not just me, but the environment around me. I’d dealt with military and police before, and they were trained, but this man…had an intensity that surpassed everything.
He also had a much, much bigger gun. Looks like it’s time to cooperate. I slowly lowered my pistol, and he lowered his coachgun.

“What the hell do you want?” I asked him, turning back to the hut and heading inside, starting to look around for…whatever, really. A barrel of shit, another dead guy, a bed, a light, and a long-burnt-out fireplace. Nothing really salvageable. Guy had a few magazines of ammo on him, though. I cleaned out his jacket of all ammo, hefted him up onto the bed, and left him to rest in peace.
I loaded the fresh magazine into the pistol and turned to the door. The man in green was still there–shotgun at the side, one arm on his hip, silent. Still waiting for me to answer. Urgh.
“…I remember this gun. And I remember this place, too. I think.” I gave the pistol another flick with my wrist, starting to feel a bit more comfortable with it. I flipped it onto its side, peering down the barrel at the wall. “Why? You know me or something, guy?”
“No.” He pauses for a moment, seeming as if he’s chosing his words very carefully. “But I’ve been told…you’ve been cooped up a long time. I think it’s time to show you some new sights.”
Suddenly, this guy is a lot more interesting. “You have no idea. I feel like I’ve been through Hell.”
From under his helmet, I hear him give a low chuckle. “Not yet, you haven’t.”
It wasn’t a funny chuckle.


Character Introduction

What, you want to know about me? I’m just a guy. A pretty cool guy, yeah, but just a guy.
…Really, I’m not that special.
All right, fine. you want the short version or the long version?
No, c’mon. The short version would be over a lot quicker.
…Okay, okay, fine. Fiiine.

We all have our inner demons. Even the happiest of people have a darker side to them.
Sometimes this dark side bites.

I don’t know much about my life before the “Friday of Sorrow”. That one fateful Friday the 13th, during a solar eclipse. Necromancers gathered up a whole bunch of people–adults, teens, kids like me, put it in a cabin, lined up a pentagram with salt, set the entire thing on fire. A ritual to appease the president of Hell, Gaap. I don’t know why. Didn’t really care why. Was kind of more interested in whether or not I was going to live or die.
Every sin I’d done in my short life came swelling up inside of me. It started burning my mind and my heart from the inside, while the fire burned me from the outside. The entire cabin became a cacophony of howling and screaming, everyone’s darker impulses taking over and turning them into gibbering wrecks.For me, everything became a blur of pain and red, before eventually going black…and everything about my life before was erased.

When I woke up, fire was gone–only a few others and I had survived. Police found us and pulled us out. Necromancers had split the scene by then.
All of us were blank slates with glassy eyes and a far-off gaze–we had stared into the abyss, and seen some serious things. Psychologists and doctors couldn’t figure anything out, though, so they sent us home. And for me, things seemed to resume as normal–until my 13th birthday, when my eyes started getting all weird and some horns started growing out of my head.
My friends thought it was the coolest thing. Friends’ parents were less amused.

This was enough for my own parents. They couldn’t handle it. I was sent over to a monastery, where I spent all my teen years in the company of nuns. Thought life would be boring, studying the Bible and praying fifteen times a day. Turns out, no, these nuns were pretty much the Shaolin brand of monks and studied medieval swordplay, martial arts, and military discipline along with scholarly pursuits. Rad.
As I got older, though, I went to do research on the ritual that had been done on me. It was a purge of darkness and evil, taking all of the darker sides of people’s personalities and letting it consume their entire bodies, turning them into id-guided monsters. Not quite demon, not quite human, but that special kind of beast that only a twisted human mind can think up.
I had basically been right in the thick of a big concentration of pure, manifested sin. It…affected me. Or infected me. It corrupted my body, twisting my soul to…something else, which was shifting my body into something else as well.

I promptly got a crash course in exorcism; the practice of evicting presences from someone’s body by sheer spiritual force. Through meditation and practice, I would restore balance to my soul, though my body was forever changed into something else.
‘Course, then there was that old call. “With great power comes great responsibility”, right out of a comic book. Circumstances may have changed me into something inhuman. It may have forced me to struggle with darker urges and wrestle with the finer points of good and evil. But in the end, it gave me a great power to use in the never-ending war between good and evil–the ability to manipulate, absorb, and rebuke people’s very essence.
With one final blessing of protection from the nuns, a gem of radiant light to help arm me with a shifting sword and impenetrable armor, and both a cell phone and an enchanted credit card to help with getting myself around, I set off to make things right in the world.

But that’s enough going on about me. I feel dirty when I talk about myself that much. I’m not usually a chattermouth, yeah?
Lucien Beringer, consecrated exorcist, harbinger of light, and all around neat fellow at your service.

How can I help you?

Shadow Warrior: Upcoming Relevant Game Commentary!

Okay. Okay, I’m ready for this. I’ve got the words. I’ve got the touch. I’ve got the power. Let’s get this rolling.

For a while, I’ve been watching the Shadow Warrior footage as it came out, and the difference between it and Rise of the Triad was striking. Everyone loved every bit of Rise of the Triad footage that came out. Every second of it was pure bliss, people got hype like nothing else.
Compare with Shadow Warrior. With all of the Shadow Warrior footage that came out, people generally responded with “…eh! It’s Shadow Warrior!”. I’ll admit my only main reactions were from the ZDoom thread, the Early FPS Megathread on SA, and /vr/, but practically nobody I know was truly excited for this game. Even I was having trouble getting excited.

Then we got our first real glimpse of the game. 15 minutes of pure, raw gameplay footage.

So, what do I think of it?

My God, this looks like shit.
This looks like cutscene-heavy setpoint-focused slow-paced RPG-elements bogged-down shit.

All right, let me backpedal waaaayyyyyyyyy the fuck back and put a massive asterisk with a “that’s just, like, your opinion” disclaimer attached onto that sentence.
A: 15 minutes is not the full game. This is way early in development—I don’t think it’s even pre-alpha yet. They may completely revamp the early stuff.
B: Neither cutscenes nor RPG elements are inherently bad. This is obvious, but still worth mentioning nonetheless.
C: A lad on the SomethingAwful thread got a preview build, and according to him after you get past all the cutscene bullshit the game is pretty fun. Likewise, Revision3 said that the gameplay is incredibly fun and fast-paced. So who knows, maybe IGN in its eternal wisdom decided to stream only the shitty parts.
D: This is a reboot. Not a remake like Rise of the Triad was. It’s not going to be complete 1:1 everything’s-intact approach.

Now with that hanging over my head, I’m going to tear this thing a new one.

What sets Shadow Warrior apart from its other Build-engine-based brethren? What was at the core of Shadow Warrior?
Duke Nukem 3D‘s aesthetic niche was Hollywood action movies, and its gameplay niche was usable environmental setpieces in mostly non-linear levels with a huge emphasis on z-axis movement and multiple floors.
Blood‘s aesthetic niche was over-the-top horror flicks, and its gameplay niche was unorthodox weapons in destructable environments—oh and being balls-in-a-vice hard.
Shadow Warrior‘s aesthetic niche was heroic bloodshed movies, and its gameplay niche was a best-of-both-worlds approach—it had Blood‘s unorthodox weapons and destructable fun-times and it had Duke Nukem 3D‘s non-linear levels with interactive bits and lots of z-axis room-over-room layouts.

Okay, so what does a Shadow Warrior reboot need? What’s the core elements of Shadow Warrior that need to be represented?
One. Heroic bloodshed overarching theme.
Two. Crazy unorthodox weapons.
Three. Wide-open areas with a lot of z-axis and destructable/interactive components.

The gameplay shown does not do any of these well.
Let’s start from the top.

First off. What is “heroic bloodshed”?
Heroic Bloodshed is the unofficial term. I just use it ‘cause TVTropes and Wikipedia use it. You may also know it as Blood Opera, Gun Fu, or Oh My God John Woo Is Holding Two Guns Hell Yes. It’s the Chinese take on America’s gunslinging action films and Japan’s martial arts films, popularized by John Woo and Chow Yun Fat, creating a combination that was both and yet neither. What does it entail? Gritty-grim enforcers of the law or honor-driven hitmen/assassins, frequently driven by honor/revenge, and resulting in a massive massacre of bloody blood, giblets and red stuff flying around everywhere as the criminal either avenges his honor/mentor/family or the detective finally brings that goddamn perp to justice.
What does this have to do with Shadow Warrior? Everything. The entire game is a Chinese Heroic Bloodshed film put in a (very lighthearted) game. You have the honor-driven Chinese assassin whose morality causes him to snub his boss, whom puts a hit out on him. Driven by revenge, Lo Wang creates a bloody path of revenge before finally putting his evil dishonorable boss down.
Game. Set. Match. Checkmate. Bingo. Do not pass go. You have a Heroic Bloodshed movie. This pitch is PERFECT. It’s practically the distillation of every formula that could have made a good Hong Kong gun fu movie.
Then along comes the reboot, which seems to favor ancient wuxia—a mystical sword that can summon demons? Well, it’s not out of place of Shadow Warrior, I suppose—the original had demons and zombies all over the place. But there’s no betrayal, no honor, nothing that fits the original Shadow Warrior’s theme. In this, Lo Wang is just a very persistent businessman who wants his damn sword. Nothing of honor, nothing of revenge, just “Bitch took my skull!”. He’s not an assassin, he’s a comic book collector—which, okay, could lead itself to some clever pop culture references, but it’s just brought up twice by saying that he collects comic books. Without any jokes. Oh, and he’s accompanied by the mandatory voice-in-your-head bane of modern games that everyone has been trying to ape since Halo. The “ghost in your head” bit is just as stupid as it was in Darkwatch, guys—though at least this dude is a condescending smart-ass and has personality, rather than dutifully telling you what to do and where to do it.

Second off, the crazy unorthodox weapons.
I can’t really say much more about Shadow Warrior‘s weaponry that isn’t already said. The STARTING WEAPON is an UZI and SHURIKENS—the former usually reserved for a chaingun/assault rifle role, and the latter not even considered. Hell, practically right off the bat you get to dual-wield the uzis too, a staple of Chinese gun fu. The shotgun is a gatling belt-fed cannon that could rapid-fire shots. Not too much later, you get get a rocket launcher that has a nuclear warhead option.
What does the reboot have? It, uh…has a katana. And a revolver. At least you get your shurikens, but those need to be upgraded to first. And only work if your katana is out. Whoopee. And then there’s a double-barrel shotgun. And a crossbow. Not really unique, as far as a loadout goes. It seems that most of the cooler components will be locked behind the upgrade system, which is pretty much a gigantic kick in the dick; the weapons will no longer emphasize how skilled you are with them, how badass you are, instead you’ll need to grind for EXP to make them even bigger and better. Another bane of modern games, which Shadow Warrior had no need of. The guns were awesome right out of the gate, you didn’t need to upgrade them.

Third off, the environments. I will say one thing—the environments are certainly colorful. I haven’t seen this much pink since Barbie’s Horse Adventures.
Now with that out of the way, everything is so damn flat it’s not even funny. Watching the gameplay videos, everything seems to work off the generic Serious Sam approach of enemies far in the distance slowly closing in on you, you spin around and take care of them. They’re wide open, yes, but they’re flat and non-descript. You start in the dojo and katana-fight a horde of goons in a flat tea house. You hike on through and carve up more goons in flat corridors. You eventually go through like four cutscenes in a row, get tied up, get thrown in a cage, get a katana, then hike on through some (admittedly very beautiful) flat Japanese gardens, hiking across flat grass and heading through the flat buildings. Where’s the height variation? Where’s the ladders? Where’s the leaping from skyscraper to skyscraper? Where’s the crawling up crates and heading to a crane to blow up a door? The very first level of Shadow Warrior had you dropping down a few stories out of the dojo, then going back up again to get a second uzi.
Actually, where’s the blowing things up as a whole? Through all the gameplay footage, it seems that very little of the environment actually exploded. Compare to the original Shadow Warrior, where there’s explosions literally out the very first door—two cars plow into each other? EXPLOSIONS. Enemies in chinese hats carrying crates? The crates are filled with EXPLOSIONS. Enter the very next level, and the CAVES EXPLODE. Barrels placed everywhere, some labelled plainly with TNT on them, just to explode. Hey, Johnny, why do we need to put a barrel of TNT on a bridge? Because explosions. Hey, Phillip, why do we need to put a tank outside of the Zilla Enterprises factory? Because EXPLOSIONS. Hey, Master Leep, why is your bathroom only accessible if we rocket the ceiling? BECAUSE EXPLOSIONS DAMN YOU.

So, the three crucial components of Shadow Warrior, and the reboot doesn’t seem to match any of them. What does this mean?
That the reboot isn’t really Shadow Warrior.
I mean, sure, it’s still ninjas fighting demons, and sure there’s still katanas and uzis, and sure there’s still Lo Wang, but it’s not Shadow Warrior. It’s Shadow Warrior in the same way DmC: Devil may Cry was Devil May Cry—it looked at some screenshots and gameplay videos, went “Oh, we can do this!”, and tried to copy the Cliff’s Notes version without recognizing the formula that the original followed.

Now, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the reboot is going to be incredible, and I’m just doomsaying when there isn’t even any doom in the first place. And Lord knows that, no matter what, I’m still going to be diving for a copy of the game.
But right now, it’s more because of a sense of hope and persistent optimism more than genuine excitement.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe they’re pulling a Serious Sam 3 on us, where the first area was intentionally bullshit. Maybe they want to set up a contrast for the entire rest of the game. Maybe they just need to do a little research. Maybe everything is going to be perfect—I mean, Rise of the Triad was incredible, wasn’t it?

Oh, wait. I wouldn’t know.

I can’t play the damn thing.

Samsara Retrospective 3 – Chex Warrior

Fred Chexter has had an interesting time in the Wheel of Samsara. He’s come under flak about how his weapons are basically just clones of Doomguy’s. I’ve come under flak for trying to change them so that they’re, well, not clones of Doomguy’s.
I sit in an interesting position of damned if I do and damned if I don’t with him–if I leave him just as he is, he’s Doomguy with minor differences. If I change him, I break the Samsara goal of representing these characters as accurately as reasonably possible.

It wasn’t like this back in the day, I tell ye that.

Back in the early days of SWAG DIS/Samsara, there was only Doomguy, Chex Warrior, and Corvus–so, really, there didn’t need to be a lot of differences between the characters. Just the fact that Chex Warrior didn’t have an SSG/took less damage from everything and Corvus used projectiles/held his potions was difference enough. There was a very clear divide of Damage/Defense/Utility.
Then came B.J. Then came Parias. Then came Duke Nukem. And as more and more characters with their damage-dealing weapons came into play, their wider variety of doin’ damage and shooty shit, Chex Warrior’s dehacked-esque clones of Doomguy’s weapons stood out even more.

Back then, he was okay. Now, though, he needed some changes.

Contrary to popular opinion, characters being accurate to their game is not the top priority of Samsara. The biggest, top, head, numero uno goal is to have a variety of characters balanced for a DM/CTF environment, complimenting competitive and versus play. It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of fighting games, and while Chex Warrior may be the Ken to Doomguy’s Ryu, Ken came to stand out on his own as a character and evolved a different fighting style.
But what exactly could be done to help him stand out from Doomguy’s playstyle?

Now, when it comes to changing a character’s gameplay, one of the biggest things I try to keep in mind is “What would the game designers do?”. While obviously I’m not id software, Digital Cafe, or any of those wonderfully talented lads, I do a lot of research to see what sort of precedents there are in the games and their related source material.
While I certainly had a lot of fun researching and digging up all tangentially related Chex Quest merchandise and information I can, just the idea that I actually was becoming arguably THE most knowledgeable person in the subject of “Chex Quest canon” on the internet left a bit of a dry taste in my mouth. I had officially surpassed nerd territory. I was becoming the Omega Nerd, the type of nerd that other nerds point and laugh at.
I had to talk with the one person nerdier than I was–the one who worked on Chex Quest himself.
Thankfully, not only was Charles Jacobi still around, he was easily accessible. I could pick at his brain and ask what sort of things he had planned, any sort of extraneous info and little tidbits. Even better, he still remembered things from Chex Quest!

Just a few e-mails back and forth with Jacobi, talking about the weapons of Chex Quest, and I got to learn some interesting things. First off, a new weapon was planned for Chex Quest III: A Super Large Zorcher, which obviously would have been the equivalent to the Super Shotgun. Second off, zorching was actually settled on much later in the game’s development–early concepts instead utilized weaponized food systems, with initial ideas being a milk cannon, a strawberry launcher, and a banana-slice shooter. Third off (most interesting to me!) was that while Chex Quest was initially just a promotional stunt, when executives saw that sales of Chex had jumped dramatically, plans were established to try and capture the enthusiasm–not only a sequel in Chex Quest 2, but also further entries in the franchise like comics and maybe an animated series. Unfortunately, after Chex Quest 2, Digital Cafe never did any work on it.

Still, this little bit of information was the most interesting to me.
I’d known Chex Quest was based off old-fashioned retro sci-fi movies and series (Star Trek being cited as an obvious inspiration), but the idea of Chex Quest as a full-fledged Saturday Morning cartoon series provided a whole lot of new research potential as to how he could adjust his playing style. In a lot of SatAM cartoons, the great heroes always acted in defense of the galaxy, and most of their weapons were very simple–mostly lasers or swords, with very straight-forward beam attacks. Complex weapon behaviors were practically unheard of.
This manifested first as the Super Large Zorcher, a quad laser that fires four powerful beams. Charles Jacobi sent me several old weapon design concepts, and we went with a combination of the Large Zorcher and the unused Phasing Zorcher design. I did a few sprites, he would critique them, I would adjust them, but eventually we had a concept both of us agreed fit perfectly in the Chex Quest universe.
This then manifested later as the revamped LAZ Device, with a much more defensive bent with the reflective shield and a much simpler (“kid friendly”, suited to his origin) approach to damage than the tracers of the BFG. While the LAZ Device has a few problems (the explosion is nowhere near as powerful as the BFG, not to mention is too easy to kill with in cramped areas while too hard to hit crowds with in wide open areas), the shield is most definitely here to stay.

Whatever changes he’ll get in the future, though, I’ll try my best to adhere to the vision of Chex Quest.

Though I don’t think anything can cleanse me of being the Omega Nerd.

Samsara Retrospective 2 – Doomguy

Samsara was finally in motion, under the tentative title of “SWAG DIS”–Stop Whining About Gigantic Deathmatches In Skulltag–but first thing the mod would need is a concept build. A simple build showing it off, what it can do, how it would play, and how it could develop.
A simple design document was sketched up, which you can see here:

Then, with a plan sketched out, I cracked open SLADE 3 and began copying and pasting resources from iwads and code from the ZDoom Wiki. While I’ve mocked Samsara as “In which someone makes a class-based mod by copy/pasting the ZDoom Wiki into a single .pk3 and people seem to like it”, for the concept build that was literally what it was. There was very little original code in the initial build, it was pages of the characters’ respective actors and weapons put in a single .pk3, with editing done so that all of them could co-exist with each other.
First up, of course, was Doomguy. It’s kind of impossible to have a great shooter celebration game without Doomguy. Dude practically kicked off the entire FPS industry, and is the number one greatest badass in the list of video game badasses I just made up right now in my head.

Early on, he was the easiest to implement. But as SWAG DIS became Samsara, more characters were implemented, offline players needed bots to play with, people were asking me about how the characters interacted with each other, and so much more. The characters needed to be developed far beyond just their weapons and HP values.
A wonderful anon from /v/ suggested sorting characters according to playstyle. The more I thought about it, the more I agreed. Characters needed roles. They needed individual fighting styles. They needed something that encapsulated not just what they are, but how they fought, how they played, and how they handled compared to everyone else.

It also gave me an excuse to nerd the hell out about completely inconsequential stuff.

First up, let’s look at Doomguy’s weapons. The Super Shotgun is almost legendary in its prowess among gamers, of course, what with its whole “able to take down an entire crowd of imps and zombiemen in a single shot”, but look at the exact values.
It fires 20(5d3) pellets of bullets in a spread of 11.2×7.1, with the average damage of all the bullets being about 200.
The Rocket Launcher, for comparison, has impact damage of about 20-160, an average of 80, with blast radius damage of 128, assuming the monster is directly in the center. This is rarely the case, but let’s assume it is. This means average damage from the rocket launcher is 208. In terms of raw burst damage, the Super Shotgun does equivalent damage to an exploding fiery rocket.
Let me re-iterate that. In-universe, Doomguy’s double-barreled shotgun is roughly as powerful as an ATR explosive rocket. As in, anti-tank rifle, designed to penetrate walls of tanks. In fact, if you use the absolute maximum values (300 for SSG and 288 for rocket launcher), a single double-barrel shotgun blast actually SURPASSES the power of a rocket!

But let’s look at damage over time. The SSG takes about 62 tics to reload, a little under two seconds, while Doom 64 and Doom Saturn speeds this reload up dramatically. With 35 tics equalling one second and sixty seconds in a minute, this means 2100 tics in a minute, and 2100/62 = 33.87 attacks in a minute. 33.87[…] x 200 = 6774 damage per minute. The Rocket Launcher fares much higher, with each shot taking roughly 20 tics, which isn’t even a second. 2100/20 is 105 shots a minute, and 208 x 105 = 21840 damage a minute. Yowza.
Though…we have a different weapon for damage over time. The Plasma Rifle John gotted. The damage displayed here is 5-40, average (40+5)/2 being 22.5 per shot. The plasma rifle fires every four tics, 2100/4 = 525 shots a minute, with 11812.5 damage per minute. Hot damn. Still not as much raw damage as the rocket, of course, but it’s only half–which means it would only take double the stream of plasma to match the same anti-tank power.

But that was the weapons. What did the games say about him as a character?
While a popular interpretation of Doomguy is of a barely-contained psychopath, no doubt popularized by the Doom comic, there are some interesting factoids that say a different story. There is, of course, the fact that he never says a thing in the games, but that would be boring and easy. I wanted to be a bit more in-depth. So I looked at his data in Quake III.
His bio states him as “Long after everyone else on Phobos was dead, he kept fighting, determined to send out a warning to Earth before the demons could claim him. Distracted and intelligent sounding, (but not a member of the intelligentsia, more like a well-educated tradesman) this guy may be a few cards short of a full deck, but his training serves him well. He’s a bad-ass in the arenas.”. His chat-file reflects the “few cards short of a full deck” part easily; he’s often given to rambling, non-sequiturs, berserker rage, and talks about “voices”.

But character voice is only one part of a personality–not to mention, anyone can say anything. How about how he actually behaves in the heat of battle?
The weapon preferences in his botfile give his highest preferential weights to the mighty power weapons. Specifically, the Rocket Launcher at 120, the BFG10k at 130, and the Railgun at an astounding 450–a powerful weapon of accuracy and precision, not to be wielded in the hands of someone unhinged. Even as he equips himself and his weapon preferences shift and change, his preferences still stay with the Rocket Launcher tied with the Plasma Rifle at 90, the BFG10k at 110, and the Railgun at 250. His preferred powerup of choice is the Quad Damage, at 400, with all of the other items tied at 40. Wow.
His bot characteristics for chat indicate that he is not the type of person to reply to others frequently, with a weight of only 0.275, and a weight of 0.15 to chat when he’s hit while talking–both going down to less as the skill rises up. He tends to fight very cautiously and conservatively, with a camping weight of 0.75, but with his Aggression/Self Preservation/Vengefulness at an even 0.5, which also indicates his ease in being able to swap fighting styles. His skill in attacking and aiming is insane, with a 0.95 in both aim skill and attack skill, and a 0.95 in overall aim accuracy. His reaction time at the highest level is a lightning-fast 0.05, which means he can respond to new situations in an instant and adapt accordingly.

In short, Quake III may write Doomguy’s quotes one way, but his actual personality is completely different. Doomguy’s personality isn’t of a nervous wreck, he is a calm and stoic badass who takes in situations in an instant and puts oppositions down with unbelievable force in a few short moments. With incredibly mighty weapons, adaptability in any environment, keen mind, and insane accuracy, there was only one thing he could be. Doomguy epitomizes the role of Damage.

And how did this affect his gameplay? NOT A SINGLE DAMN WAY.
I’d basically did half a month’s worth of research for nothing.

But hey, now I had a role to balance him around.

Samsara Retrospective 1

So, a few people have asked me “What now?” in regards to what I’m doing with Samsara.
Ijon’s departure, Naraka going under the radar, and Cyberrunner development kind of all came out of leftfield as a sort of one-two-three melee combo, and a few people are worried that Samsara is going to be cancelled or dropped.

It isn’t. Samsara’s getting to a point where it’s fairly solid, and I’d like to take the knowledge I’ve garnered from this and apply it to more original game productions, but it ain’t over yet.
Right now, though, let’s start with a bit of a retrospective on Samsara, and the characters one by one, ending with what one can expect in the future.

First off, Samsara itself. I’ve kind of given conflicting answers as to what was really the “inspiration” behind Samsara, with one answer being ZDoom Wars, another answer being crossover fighting games (Super Smash Bros. in particular), another answer being “let’s do Classic Rivalry right”, and another answer being that one Death Battle episode.
You know what episode.

All of these answers are at least partially true, though. While ZDoom Wars wasn’t the very first Doom project I worked on, it was certainly one of the biggest ones I’d ever done, and Repo Man’s guidance and tutoring was pretty much essential.
Super Smash Bros., likewise, was a gigantic bridge for people getting into A: fighting games, B: community tournaments, and C: different franchises, and I was hoping to do the same in a way–spark up the Zandronum PvP community a bit, get more people interested in CTF and LMS, and spread the word around about some of my favorite FPSes.
And then, of course, Classic Rivalry. Putting aside the attitude of the creator, I think it did have some very nice concepts and some very nice ideas. While its faults were very prominent, it had a lot of interesting ideas and I thought it could have been done a little better.
And then, well, the certain Death Battle episode. Doomguy VS Master Chief.

It’d be fruitless, of course, to say why I disagree with it, what they didn’t take into account, why their research was half-done at best, all the while adhering to their rule of “the fight scene doesn’t dictate the victor” so as to spare the drivel of Doomguy’s shambling pace and Master Chief’s grenade-through-the-shield deus ex machina.
The final answer, though, is that even if I’d miraculously found someone who would be willing to debate reasonably about it rather than rely on the tired “lol you’re just mad”, what would be the point in it? I mean, yes, it’d be nice to imagine the duel of the titans, concocting imaginary scenarios and trying to figure out how our hero of choice would come out of whatever scenarios would be thrown at him–but when you settle on a “final” answer, the magic is gone. There’s no longer any validity to imagining up different scenarios.
The fun in these debates isn’t to find a victor, it’s just to see them fight.

Besides, everyone knows they’d just team up afterwards to save the universe anyway.

Crossover battles have long held an appeal for a whole bunch of people. Taking two recognizable icons and pitting them against each other in a battle just appeals to the core of nerd-dom, for reasons nobody really knows. Still, though, there’s one consistent factor–in comic books, in videos, and TV shows, rarely does anyone actually win. Yet, the fights keep happening and people keep loving it.
Why is it always cooler to have Superman and Goku beating the shit out of each other than cooperating?
Why is Dead Fantasy such an unbelievably popular series despite the lackluster attempts at a plot?
Why was the first episode of Marvel VS Capcom 3 so unbelievably sexy, when the other episodes were lackluster?
Why was Robocop VS The Terminator received so well despite the terrible ending?
The answer is that it’s much more fun to watch the fight than to actually decide the fight. It’s much more fun to imagine who would win than to actually have an answer.

Even Deadliest Warrior, one of the pioneer series in “Who Would Win in a Fight” nerd-dom, always had their battles end on a question mark. The results were never final. They were percentages of victory, meaning that the loser could still rise up and swipe the other away, depending on factors. The losing side’s representatives would always make a final comeback and quip after victory.
Because of this, I think the best way to actually have a crossover battle is not in a video or a comic book, but to set the result in the player’s hands. Instead of trying to figure out every possible scenario, account for for every possible result and settle on one single answer, it’s best to see for yourself and put Duke Nukem against Doomguy in a Last Man Standing match.

And thus, one summer night, after a long night on /v/, Samsara was born.

Forum post: What do the Runners feel?

[COMMENT 238 of 256]


Look, the problem is that your argument is fundamentally flawed. That whole emotion circuit, personality chip, etc, whatever you’ve seen in old movies? That doesn’t fly here.
These are still robots, man, they don’t have a soul. Sure, ever since Lemnos got involved in robotics our AI functionalities have soared, and these guys can seem super-humanLIKE…but they’re still not human. They don’t feel like we do. Why do you think the Allmind extended a hand to us on Earth in the first place? We feel awesome. He didn’t. He didn’t even feel like shit.

He just didn’t feel anything.

Let me ask you this: What’s a personality? I’m no psych major, but I say it’s a series of conditions and response patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving depending on different circumstances. It’s the different quirks and characteristics that determine how likely we are to respond in a certain way to a specific situation.
A dude with a cranky personality is likely to respond unfavorably to requests to borrow some cash. A gal with a flirty personality is likely to compliment you on how you look and be super-charming in your conversations.

Remember that the Allmind wasn’t built automatically knowing everything, he didn’t have any way to figure anything out other than the method we’ve been using for years–researching, referencing, and the scientific method. When he started to build up his little asteroid into a big community, what did he have as a reference? Us.
He had to research and reference us, and he saw our different little personalities and behaviors; to him, it was probably incredibly random how people would respond in one way at one moment and then another way at another moment in time. How do you properly represent that, man?

Now, some of my best friends are robots, so one time at a party I got curious and asked one of them how she felt about things. Of course, she said she was having the time of her life–but being slightly drunk at the time I decided to go a little deeper. I knew she wasn’t actually feeling happiness, fun, or any of that. I asked her, what’s causing that fun? What’s causing that feel?
Speaking strictly, none of us are doing good things. We’re drinking (which is gonna ruin our bodies), we’re eating loads of junk foods (which is probably not gonna sit well with us after a few days), and some of us are completely hammered (which also isn’t gonna sit well once the pictures surface on the internet).
This girl usually works as a lab aide along with me. She’s usually the wary and careful type. The one who checks, double-checks, and triple checks things to make sure everything’s working fine. And then she suddenly does a complete 180?

She paused for a minute, then shrugged. She told me we’re all with friends. We’re doing fun activities. Sure, it’s not exactly healthy, but when we’re with each other we throw caution to the wind and have a blast.
That’s when it hit me. These personalities aren’t true ‘personalities’ in the sense you and I have. It’s a series of graphs and variables, altering over time depending on what happens and producing a percentage of how likely someone is to respond a certain way depending on the personality given.
What seems to be their ‘personality’ is really just one big fancy prettied-up statistical likelihood ratio!

What I’m going with this is, well, robots are like onions. You peel back a layer, and it’s an onion. You peel back another layer, it’s still an onion. You can peel it all the way to the center, but even if you reach the core, it’s still a fucking onion.

Now, once we can all agree that I’m right, then we can start getting further into the discussion. I’ve seen some very interesting developments lately.


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