Hitman Absolution EP2: Don’t Do Drugs

Spoiler Warning   By Shamus   Mar 12, 2015   103 comments

Before you watch this episode, you should watch the first minute or so of this music video: Something Good by Utah Saints. You can turn the music down if it’s not your thing. The important bit is to see the outfit that the main dancer is wearing. That outfit? Yeah. Agent 47 wears that in this episode, and the whole time I couldn’t escape the notion that he was going to start doing the Running Man dance, and the rest of Chinatown was going to join in.

Link (YouTube)

I think we need to make something clear before we go any further with this game. There are two lines of discussion that we’re exploring right now:

  1. Man, the mechanics of this game are really silly if you think about them too much.

  2. The story of this game is horrendous.

I realize this isn’t always obvious during the show, but I don’t think #1 is a great sin. The Hitman games have always been a little videogame-y and required you to accept some odd abstractions. I think it’s fun to point them out, but the fact that disguises are kind of silly isn’t a terrible thingAs long as they work from a gameplay standpoint. Which I’m not sure they do in this game.. But #2 is a real problem in Absolution, and we plan to savage Absolution for its egregious failings in this department.

But we haven’t hit the bad parts of the story yet. So we’re sort of biding our time and poking fun at #1 until it all falls apart.

But while we’re waiting, let’s back up and discuss the scene from last episode where you supposedly assassinate Diana in the shower. It doesn’t look like it makes any sense: You kill your friend, and then betray the agency?

Plot twist: It turns out you didn’t kill her. At the end of the game, we discover that Agent 47 helped her fake her death. While that does explain the odd betrayal above, the story actually makes even less sense once you know that.

If the two of you planned this ahead of time, does that mean Diana wanted you to walk in on her in the shower? Was falling naked through a wall of glass part of the plan? Did you actually shoot her? When the two of you spoke, what was that conversation for? If the two of you were already conspiring, then there was no in-world reason for her to talk you into saving the girl. (Which presumably you were already going to do.) It was a play-acted conversation solely for the purpose of fooling the audience.

And even in that context, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Did you actually shoot her, but in a non-lethal way? Or did you fake-shoot her? Either way, it’s silly. The hard part of faking your death isn’t getting somebody to pretend to shoot you, it’s in coming up with a dead body that people will think is yours. If this assassination was staged for the benefit of the agency, then why did you obviously betray the agency during the performance? Is Diana so heartless that she hired a bunch of goons specifically for you to murder?

Diana’s note to The Girl is a bit nonsensical, too. The note is written to the effect of, “The 47 guy is going to kill me and then he’ll rescue you from the agency.” So they’re not only pretending that 47 was going to assassinate his friend and then betray the agency, but they’re pretending that Diana predicted as much beforehand? And then did nothing to avoid it?

The game isn’t ruined. (At least, not yet.) This stuff is just sloppy. This scene comes off as a bit dumb on the first pass, and it’s not until the big reveal at the end that we realize 47 and Diana basically conspired to do a bunch of nonsensical shit for the express purpose of faking out the audience. But next week we’re going to get to the part of the game where the writer gave up and handed the crayon to a three-year-old. I’m looking forward to it.

In the meantime: Those crowds really are amazing.

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Project Good Robot #31: So Obvious I Can’t See It

Programming   By Shamus   Mar 12, 2015   163 comments

It’s been about a year, but project Good Robot is moving again. I’m working with Pyrodactyl to make the game into something that’s hopefully worth paying money for. The game is going on Steam Greenlight. Here’s the trailer:

Link (YouTube)

If you’d like the game to see the light of day, please vote for it and spread the word. It would be much appreciated. It will be a lot easier to plan development if we don’t have to worry about getting stuck in Greenlight for months. Arvind (head honcho of Pyrodactyl) put up his previous title A.Typical RPG, and it’s still awaiting approval after a few weeksA vote for that game would be appreciated as well!. So apparently this can take a while.

This project nearly feels like my old day job. In a good way. Once a week we get together and talk about the game, and when the meeting is over I’ve got a list of crap to do.

Here is the most interesting problem I ran into last week:

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Hitman Absolution EP1: Totally Legit Chef

Spoiler Warning   By Shamus   Mar 11, 2015   111 comments

Link (YouTube)

It’s time to play the new Hitman game. Does it hold up to the legacy of the series? Or is it a dumb, shallow, tedious, gross, thematically confused, mechanically shallow, poorly written, hopelessly contrived, overly linear and occasionally ridiculous farce? If you’ve watched more than 10 minutes of our show, you already know the answer. But you’ll probably watch it anyway.

Also, it wasn’t until today that I realized that HK-47 was a reference to Agent 47. Because I’m apparently bad at pattern recognition.

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Experienced Points: So You Want to Be a Game Developer, Part 2

Escapist   By Shamus   Mar 10, 2015   118 comments

We’re a little more positive this week. It’s not all doom & gloom. People can and do get jobs in this industry, and some of them even make a living at it.

And now for the stuff that wouldn’t fit into the column:

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Diecast #96: Valve, Game Engines, Windows 8

Diecast   By Shamus   Mar 9, 2015   152 comments

Enjoy this extra-long Diecast where we try to cover as much of the GDC news as we can. Thanks to Josh for editing this one while I nursed my computer back to health.

Direct link to this episode.

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Hosts: Shamus, Josh, Chris.

Show notes:

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Everything is Cool

Personal   By Shamus   Mar 8, 2015   70 comments

The only reason this post exists is because the previous posts are dangerously negative and I hate to have that much bellyaching sit on top of the site for too long. So… yeah. Let’s talk about some positive stuff:

  1. Thanks for all the advice about Windows 8 hotkeys. That smoothed out a lot of annoyances.

  2. Also thanks to the advice to “check your drives”. I’d read that Windows 8 users would never need to check drives because it would all be automatic. But sure enough, once I found chkdsk it turned out two important drives were a mess of scrambled crap. Fixing them solved my speed problems, my problems getting Steam to work, and the ages-long restart times.
  3. The screenshot at the top of this post if from a programming project I had to shelve when I began working on Good Robot again. It yielded some interesting lessons. I’ll get back to it eventually.
  4. Daylight savings time is still stupid. I know I say this every year. Twice. But it’s true.
  5. Sorry about that last bullet point. I know I promised this post was going to be positive.
  6. Kinda bummed I missed PAX East this year. I guess that’s not very positive either.
  7. This is harder than I thought it would be.
  8. The previous point wasn’t a complaint, was just an observation. So it shouldn’t count as negativity.
  9. We’re going to talk about Good Robot this week. No but for real this time.
  10. I have a special love for programs that just live in their directories and don’t need to be installed. FileZilla.(FTP client.) Foobar. (MP3 player.) VLC. (Media player.) Audacity. (Audio editor.) Thanks to developers who make sure their software is a good guest on my system.

Not much left of the weekend, but enjoy it anyway. I’ve got work to catch up on.

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My First Hour With Windows 8

Rants   By Shamus   Mar 6, 2015   292 comments

Apologies for two days of ranting. But it’s either this or nothin’, because this is my whole life right now. Also, writing about this is amazingly therapeutic. If the post becomes overwhelmingly bleak or angry, return here to the top and look at the kittens until you feel better.

Here we go, I shove the Windows 8 install disk in and…

During install, a bright red line appears, right down the middle of the monitor. I’ll come back to this later, but just bear in mind that while all of the following is going on, I’m also trying to find out what this red line is and why it’s there.

It asks me what drive to put Windows 8 on. Crap. I have four physical drives, some of which are broken into multiple partitions. For whatever reason, it’s not showing me the VOLUME LABELS, but only the drive and partition numbers. I could understand if these were drives from a foreign OS, but aside from the one Linux partition it’s all Windows. Since the installer is about to NUKE a drive, it’s inexcusable that it doesn’t give me a way to SEE WHAT I’M DOING.

Deep breath. Okay. I know the old Windows Partition was 250GB. And here’s a partition about that size. And it’s drive zero. This is clearly it, but I’d feel so much better if I had a way to make sureLooking back, I could have booted into Linux and figured it out from there. You know, if I didn’t mind doing everything all over..

Let’s do this.

(Hum showtunes while the files copy.)

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An Evening of Failure and Stupidity 2: Stupid Harder

Rants   By Shamus   Mar 5, 2015   200 comments

No, this post is not a repeat. It’s a sequel.

OH MY GOSH these notifications are getting on my nerves. Windows update keeps popping up in the corner, telling me I need to update. So then there’s this break in my workflow where I have to mouse down there and hit the teensy-weensy ‘x’ to make the bubble piss off for another random interval. But if I miss, then I click on the bubble and instead of the bubble going away I get a popup window telling me about all the stupid shit Windows has for me to worry about. I could swear I turned these stupid notifications off.

So now on top of all the other crap I have to do, I have to ALSO find that setting and reset it to “I’m an adult and I know what I’m doing. I’m a busy man and I’ll do my upgrades on my timetable, not yours, Windows. You asshole.” (I think it’s actually labeled something else.)

At some point it downloaded some of the waiting updates. So now I get a popup, “You have downloads waiting to be installed.” So I dismiss that and INSTANTLY get another one telling me about updates NOT downloaded.

Sigh. Fine. Just to stop this constant irritation I’ll do the damn update. Just about the time I settle back into work, Windows popups up agin because OF COURSE it needs to reboot. I can either reboot now, or it can pester me until I give in. Fine. Get it over with.

So Windows goes quiet for a long time, like Deep Thought except really, really unlike Deep Thought, if you see what I mean. Then it blue screens, reboots, and is dead.


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Ideas about a new programming language for games, Annotated: Part 4

Programming   By Shamus   Mar 4, 2015   99 comments

We finally get to the good stuff. The discussion below contains a lot of the reasons I wanted to do this write-up in the first place.

Link (YouTube)

1:00:00 Let’s Make an Array Type.


This might seem trivial to a lot of people. This is basically just a fix for the std::vector<int> name; problem I discussed earlier in this series. We use arrays everywhere in our code. We’re constantly building lists of data. C++ offers tons of ways to do this, and somehow they all suck.

The lazy way:

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Experienced Points: So You Want To Be a Game Developer?

Escapist   By Shamus   Mar 3, 2015   93 comments

My column this week is some advice to the young people considering a career in AAA videogame-making.

Something I really wanted to put in the column:

A couple of years ago I saw an ad for Full Sail University or one of the other game colleges. It said something like, “80% of graduates find a job in the industry within a year!” I was dumbfounded. Given the cost of going to one of these places (the price of a house and a couple of the most valuable years of your life) those are horrendous odds. The cynic in me read that as, “1 in 5 of the people who come to our school find the whole thing was for nothing.” I would never risk two precious years of my life on anything that risky.

I didn’t put it in the column because I can’t find the source anywhere. The game colleges apparently no longer offer post-grad placement info beyond, “We will help you!”

Also the anecdotes suggest a system where the college develops a relationship with a studio (stuff owned by EA, usually) where they just send them waves of grads who will work crunch-mode hours (80+) for months on end until they burn out, at which point there’s another wave of grads chomping at the bit, waiting for their turn at living the dream. So even if the placement rate was 98%, it would still be a horrible gamble, since leaving the industry in disgust and disillusionment is arguable worse than not getting a job at all. The actual success rate – the number of people who find good jobs with hours and pay that allow for a normal life – is probably really tiny.

But I can’t begin to back any of that up, and I didn’t want to build a point around a single barely-recalled data point. I mean, I can’t back any of it up, but I tried to stick with stuff that’s more or less accepted as common knowledge.

Also: If you DO work in the industry then please tell your story. If it was awesome, say so. If it was horrible, say so. Young people are making life-changing decisions and the only information we have are the gushing promises of game colleges and the occasional “development hell” scandal. Your story might change someone’s life.

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Diecast #95: Final Fantasy XIV, NOLF, Spore

Diecast   By Shamus   Mar 2, 2015   109 comments

Direct link to this episode.

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Hosts: Shamus, Josh, Chris, Rutskarn, Mumbles.

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A new programming language for games, Annotated: Part 3

Programming   By Shamus   Mar 1, 2015   97 comments

The annotation continues…

Link (YouTube)

39:00 Exceptions Are Silly.

Exceptions are where you run a bit of code, but you sort of leave a note for the program, “If anything goes wrong, jump to this bit of code and spit out such-and-such message.” Here is the video Blow mentioned, which talks about why exceptions are such a mess.

My experience with exceptions is pretty limited. In my professional work, we used a large codebase that began life in 1994 as vanilla C. Somewhere around 2000-ish we migrated (in fits and starts) to C++. So I didn’t even have a chance to use exceptions until 2000, and we didn’t really have a lot of need for them. Our software was pretty mature and we already had all the error handling we needed.

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