Friday, 3 December 2010

Making a point

I think nature has made a good point over the last few days. In the event of a severe weather disturbance, humans as they are now wouldn't adapt, they would try to just live day by day.

It would be so easy to find a way to keep the rail network open, running a reasonable service. However, the station i travel to each day isn't deemed as important as Gatwick, so the line is neglected and falls silent.

I will say though, looking out the window on tuesday night was quite eerie. We passed a train on the line, windows dark, covered by thick snow. The rails behind it were snowed over. Platforms were empty, left to acquire more snow. A few had footprints, but on the whole people were at home, or stuck in their offices, cars, or even on trains. We would have learnt how bad it can be the last two times, but the train companies who run these things probably don't deem this a worthy thing. People who pay for season cards have days which are void, but in the scheme of things this doesn't matter much.

Still, the experience gave me a bit of an insight into what we do in this sort of event...huddle at home and try and find things to do. I wonder what would happen in the ice age...

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Changing a Stereotype

Question- Why are geeks seen as spotty teenagers who sit in their rooms and fiddle with computer stuff all day long?

This question arose a couple of days ago, when a few forum goers took a bit of offence to the idea that maybe doing a direct port from doom to source without a graphics touchup was in someway blasphemy. Suffice to say, words were said and this question popped up in my head.

Now, i admit, i am a geek. I have a vast amount of random knowledge, i have a love of computers and computing. Yet when the word "geek" is used, this image of massive glasses and stutters and pale skin crops up. The other assumption is that a geek couldn't defend themselves. I have met people who love rpg's and games workshop who can handle themselves.

I suppose it is true for all stereotypes. I have met British people who don't drink tea, Intelligent Americans who could find Iraq on a map, even courteous white van drivers. Yet the stereotype rears it's ugly head again and again.

Then another question popped up. In a world without electricity, who would rise. The cool kid or the geek. Now, some people who read this blog from a certain forum which i had a falling out with this week, won't know what i am on about. Mainly because i am almost certain they can't read long words.

So...a brief synopsis of what could be to come.

In 2012-2013 the sun will enter a period of heightened activity. This is perfectly normal, part of it's natural cycle. The solar flares however will impact on the planets atmosphere and cause some electromagnetic disturbances. The activity will last for anywhere up to a month.

Of course, it probably won't happen to such a severe level, but it does pose quite a few interesting sociological questions. In this world sans electricity, where would our qualms lead us.

Of course, all this thought leads back into realistic games. If there is an event that could possibly feature into a game, this is a good one to think about.

So, intellectual exercise time:

In the event a solar flare hits our planet and causes an emp effect, what would the survival strategy be?

Monday, 30 August 2010

Sometimes, blogs do end on a question...

Today is a rarity. After an interesting bank holiday weekend, i have successfully managed to beach my car in the ikea car park, cut up an idiot 4x4 on a roundabout and spent half hour trying to work out what the warning light on my dash was all about. Turns out i had accidentally turned overdrive off...

What has this to do with games and games design you may cry. Well, nothing actually, i was just venting. Incidentally, if you do drive a Chelsea Tractor, try and work out what you want to do on a roundabout before you enter it. If you do get cut up by a techno grey micra, just laugh and put it down to a rarity.

This week i have been puzzling over something. If, in this world, we are accepting of all religions and cultures, why are atheists persecuted for their non beliefs. The scouting movement recognises a vast majority of religions, yet believes that atheists should not be leaders. In parts of America, an atheist in a town is about as welcome as a 4x4 in London.

Now...i went to a catholic school, and i must say that those schools do very well in turning people from Christians to Agnostics, yet utter that you don't pray every night, and the Chaplin will have a fit. What a world we live in.

As for frozen skies, work has paused for a bit. The next Facepunch Mapping Competition has begun, and i am working with Firegod to bring a bit of heat to an otherwise cold world.

Now, i did say i would end on a question, but i can't remember what the question was. So, i will make one up.

What is the question for the answer for life the universe and everything?

And when i remember the original question, i will post it.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Maybe this twice weekly thing could work...

Second post this week. Second Monitor up and running after having to travel down to the shops twice. The number two is hawt this week.

Just started working on an English club in UDK called "The Snowball". It has the sort of music we can expect from an English club. Trashy club music that no-one can work out the differences between. I'm trying to establish a concrete and metal feel to it, this is an area which, while outside of the law and order of the inner tunnel, is still protection from the chills of outside the heated zones. Tunnels connect to these areas, the outside being too cold for people to move freely through unless they are an idiot, or have heated protection.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

The drive of the narritive

And thus, like a speeding train, i derail off the rants, and rerail back on the rails i should have been on all along. Today i talk about narrative.

We have two types of narrative, the scripted kind, and the unscripted kind. Scripted is commonplace in gaming. You are often forced to follow a set storyline. Even in open world games such as World of Warcraft, what you do is set out. You can only become a hero. There is no range of who you become. A set hero in a mass produced world.

An unscripted story is harder to accomplish, but it can be done. Games like Wurm Online and Love give the players a world, not storyline and let them become who they want to be. It's a risk only indie companies want to take.

Thing is, when risks are taken, occanionally something dramatic will happen. Whether it's accidentally blowing up the guild house again, or managing to revolusionise the way planes are used in a war zone, it's a risk that needed to be taken. And only by taking risks can we move forwards.

Of course there is another side to an unscripted world. The idea that you don't need to give the player all the information. Give them a storybook with half the pages missing, let them make their own stories. Even though i highly doubt blizz read this blog, i'm looking at them, and the other big names to start allowing the players to make their own name in a changing world, not someone elses name in a static world.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

War...War never changes

Quick thing on this...

This quote comes from Ron Pearlman at the beginning of the fallout games. Now, MG4 essentially stole the line for their game and used "war has changed".

Some clarification, and something which i am trying to write into Frozen Skies. When Black Isle talked about that epic line, they were trying to portray how mankind, even on the brink of it's own destruction will try to find a way of killing itself just that bit more. To this end, MG4 was wrong.

War never changes.

Fallout took humanity to the end of the world, yet there was still fighting between those who thought they were right and everyone else was wrong. War can advance and fall behind, but it will always be the same brand.

Added onto my little rant of the day comes the observation that people seem to think that post apoc = fallout. Kids today...they do need to learn that post apoc doesn't mean post thermonuclear war. Thus the creation of frozen skies.

Saturday, 31 July 2010

This twice weekly thing isn't working well...

And my excuse? Well, work got in the way. The problem is that i love my work way too much, and thus go in at 8am, leave at 4.30, fall asleep on the train and wake up in North Hampton (this hasn't happened yet, but it is only a matter of time).

The week has been oddly eventful, and quite interesting. The news has been the same old, but the reactions of the public joe has been curious. There was shock and dismay that our brave troops have been using that underhand tactic known as "Black Ops". Can i just point out that "Black Ops" have been used for centuries. Kings have fallen to poisened daggers, and it is a tactic that will not disappear until war become unviable and we settle our differences with sport.

Maybe that isn't such a good idea, unless it's fair and the English can make up a sport where the rules change in their favour all the time....something like F1 perhaps.

In other news, and one that i hope lots of people will be up in arms about, i am ceasing using source to make maps for the moment. Seriously, i want to see people taking to the streets, waving banners, and writing poorly spelled letters to the Daily Mirror. Maybe throw in some racial slurs too.

This is so i can spend more time playing with UDK and hopefully getting Frozen Skies off the ground. I'm starting to refine ideas now, but it is looking like nuclear weapons will be involved somewhere, and i don't mean of the sort that Fallout 3 packs. I can descibe FS in three words. Ice, age, future.

And that's phoenix out.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

The magics of the ancients?

We have all seen it in film and game. The mystics of the ancients. Their ability to create wonders that, once the magics have been stripped away, become fairly easy to explain just using scientific language. You have to wonder if the ancients that predated us really knew that phosphorous had no magical value whatsoever, and if they put the act on for the locals.

Suffice to say, it has created some interesting vault locks that are used extensivly in Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider, so why not source.

A colleague of mine once asked if there were any Indiana Jones maps for source. I replied at the time that i did not believe so. So, why not try to change that.

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The map revolves around those mystic beliefs held by the common people of an Anglo-Saxon period. If an alien fell from the sky, it would probably have been seen as either a god sent to save them, or a beast to ruin them. In this case a beast has fallen from a rift in space time, and, not knowing what else to do, has started to kill everything and raise symbiotic armies.

As a result, the knights tracked it to its lair, and, with a bit of knightly cunning, trapped the beast within and built a labyrinth around it. Centuries later, a tomb raider knowing what the beast is likely to be, ventures into the dark with nothing but a gravity gun to try and terminate it's life.

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Try and read the runes if you can...

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Long time no sea

And so, with a flood of ideas, new mapping comes into play. And with the announcement of the all new facepunch mappers challenge, comes the age old sinking feeling. Will i finish a map, or will it sail away from me.

Yes, the challenge is about maping a singleplayer map that involves water in some way. And, being me, i'm not just going to stick a water fountain somewhere in a map.


Of course, something like this doesn't just fall into place. After endless planning and several failed ideas, i ended up with a car cannon, a door that wouldn't stay shut, and a stalker that just wouldn't stand and type at the keyboard. Suffice to say Thor died that day. And from the ashes (or waters) rose Ceta.

Bonus image if anyone can tell me where Ceta comes from.

As a side note, i have released three archives of my old maps if anyone wants them. Archives 1-3 can be found on, or, for a direct link, here:

Until next i remember my password, farewell.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

A Changing World

Imagine a map that changes its shape. Imagine a world which tries it's hardest to kill you.

Using the same principle for the dancing platforms, i have worked out a way of implementing a really evil admin into a map. With this network of entities, i have 136 events that can be activated at random every time the world has an earthquake. The earthquake is a signal for things to come. The setup is actually rather easy, just time consuming. A logic_auto acts as a trigger, so that when the map loads the timer starts running. On a random time set via the timer options, a quake happens, shaking the world and the players. During that time an event could happen, such as a van exploding or a tunnel collapsing. In this way, people could die, or someone may be freed from someone's jail.

Just imagine the rules changing by the minute. And when the rules change, is it even the same game?

Monday, 3 May 2010

The birth of the end of the world: Part 2

Resolving the issue with what map to make fell to the people of facepunch. There, they had a nice democratic vote, with no bribes from myself or any third parties, and the votes passed on the idea of a seismic post-apocalypse.

Now...i watch a lot of "core" simply because channel 4 always show it when i want something fairly mindless to watch. The basic synopsis is that the core of the earth stops working and some people are found to pilot a craft down to restart it. Suffice to say, that film, added with a level from No One Lives Forever and Fallout has been part of the inspiration.

The map in question will be based around natures war on humanity. In the end, humanity would eke out a life of either survival or optimism, people would have mixed reactions to the situation.

There would be a few forgotten nuggets of technology remaining. A base similar to those volcanic lairs that evil genius' always seem to build would fit in nicely with the theme. Ruined military bases with screens full of data on satellites. Maybe even a wrecked missile silo, the missiles trapped in a semi launched position, never able to fire again.

More noticeable damage would be evident too, buildings torn apart by violent quakes, subway systems or storm drains full of molten lava.

However, where you find people, you find towns. Some living in huts, others behind electric fences and patrolling guards. I'll probably add a few towns of differing technological levels. Outside these towns, people would not want to dwell alone, for fear of the animals that have adapted to the harsh environments.

To finish, and to quote Jurrassic Park;

"Life will find a way"

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

The birth of the end of the world Part 1

So...i am a big fan of the ideal of nature taking over once more, something i routinely try to inject into maps. I am a massive fan of the fallout series. But how is the ideal developed.

Something i have been playing with recently is social balance. When a government falls, there is no central control of what the people can and can't do. Historically, law has fallen to the church to enforce through belief systems. Our concept of morality has come from religious beliefs, and is now drilled into our society. As such, the social balance consists of Military, Technology and Belief.

The balance is maintained by factions pulling in different directions, not letting any one faction obtain more power than the other two. Once these factions are realised, then the basics of map planning can begin.

I have worked out that one of the factions i want is a technological faction that worship a Machine God (yes, very wh40k). The structure will be a temple like construction with heavy machinery within.

I only have half mile cubed to work with...we shall see how it goes.

Friday, 9 April 2010

The death of the NPC

Welcome to one of my favourite rants...the continued use of NPC's in online games. World of Warcraft is one of those games where people pay 8.99 a month to play a single player game with a chat option. In inclusion on NPC's in an online game is baffling, especially when they encroach on the story.

Now, I do not suggest that the NPC should be completely removed, but changing it's role in an environment could be of benefit. Why should an NPC tell you to collect 40 rolls on fabric from the corpses of dead mammoths, so they can make a pair of trousers for themselves? Of course, you, as a player never see this benefit.

I would love to see NPC's employed by players to add service to towns. So a twon could primerely be inhabited by players, but NPC's are employed to act as shopkeepers, auctioneers or even sent out to run trade routes on the seven seas. Quests can still be handled by npc's, but if someone is employing them, it would seem more important to keep them happy and in shoes.

And, of course if another player starts killing your NPC's, you should have the opportunity to revenge them for increased experience.

Wurm Online ( has a basic version of this, NPC's can be employed to be merchants. Maybe it's time for others to follow suite?

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Ok, here it goes. This is my first attempt at smooth seamless terrain changes. The trigger for this is a logic_timer with a refire time of 3 seconds. This is linked to a logic_case, with the i/o's telling it to randomise the case. Each case then triggers a logic_relay that contains the instructions for each move. As such, we get this:


Welcome to my blog. Mainly i will be covering concepts, ideas i've been working on, that sort of thing. My alias is usually dark phoenix, iron phoenix or mid_phoenix, or something similar, and i dabble in games design. Recently I have been working with a few concepts of modular rooms. Next post will cover the basics of my findings in Source...portal to be exact.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010


This is a test blog post to see how it looks...ignore, normal service will resume at some point i nthe near future