Saturday, December 13, 2014

Mudbox / TWD s2


So I never really spent much time actually using or trying to learn mudbox. I think I'll try to figure out some of the tools, and try making some.. somewhat hard objects. Today, I started with the human head, since I've never been very good at making eyes, ears, or mouths. I tried this once before but only made a model or two :(

The most frustrating thing is that I know what I want to do (and mostly what looks right and doesn't), but don't really know the tools, their settings, or any of the techniques available in the program yet. There are probably some simple ways to make things like the eye folds by doing a few simple operations involving the freeze/grab tool that I'm not aware of. I should probably try to find some tutorials or make simple cartoon characters first from some reference images.

The Walking Dead

S1 Protagonists
So I played The Walking Dead Season 1 a while ago, and it was a really good game. I don't play many different games, and have not found many that I really like over the years, or that were even memorable. Usually I can't even stand to invest an hour in most games that I pick up. The most common reason, is a complete lack of plot. It seems that most games released these days are focused on simple tasks that reward users with something that they are tricked into thinking is valuable. There are no real difficulty levels, if you play the game, you complete it (unless it's some kind of free game, where you have to pay, and then you can complete it). This is a major problem, and I do not understand how developers fail to see how bad it is to place such low priority on plot development. When there is no identification with any characters, concern for their actions, or interest in their fate, there is no reason to play the game -- for me anyways.

The only plot based games that I can even recall playing and enjoying multiple times are Baldur's Gate II and Planescape Torment. While there was a battle system, items, quests, and all of the other standard game mechanics to be expected in a D&D themed game, none of that stuff was what made the game enjoyable. These ... things were just tools to allow the story to progress, mainly through dialogue choices, but also actions (making choices on who to kill, include/exclude, where to visit, etc). Those games were very long, spanning 4 CDs, which is a lot since the story was driven primarly by sprite cinematics and text dialogue, with only a handful of voice acted lines.

I was reluctant to play Telltale's Walking Dead games at first, because I thought that it would be like many of the other walking dead games, where you just run around zombie infested towns endlessly shooting zombies, looting corpses, and getting "stuff" to amass the highest score or whatever the objective was. I played one of those games briefly on mobile. By briefly, I mean for about 10 minutes, because I turned it off when it asked me to pay 5$ to unlock some character or useless "perk" which would allow me to kill more zombies faster (and get more points). Fortunately, this was not the case when I picked up The Walking Dead Season 1.

S2: Sad Moments
S2: Difficult Choices
At first, I was surprised that there is not much "gameplay." There is no real combat system (other than pressing Q repeatedly to escape struggles, WASD to dodge stuff, or clicking on zombies with your mouse to shoot them. There were some point and click puzzles, mostly involving walking around briefly and inspecting scene elements. That being the case, the great majority of the game consists of dialogue choices, which triggered cut scenes. Now, I realize that there can be only so many choices, since the cut-scenes had to be animated, voice acted, and produced... so the story can only fork out in so many directions, but I feel that the games handled that well.
Many of the choices that the game presents are amusing (often to the point of laughter). Even when there is normal dialogue, there is usually an extra option to say nothing (by running out the clock), adding inaction/passivity. I though that this was a lazy thing to do at first, which would just drive the story along regardless of user input, but getting slapped for failing to respond taught me different. Some other responses also bring fourth some humorous responses, like "stare back." Some of the responses, are just hilarious, like having the option to say "I'd shoot me," as a kid. Some of the choices are difficult (deciding who lives or dies), and there are a few "impossible situations." This is handled very well, and makes the viewer just sit there feeling really shitty while they are forced to make a bad decision or just watch something horrible (or heartbreaking) happen.

If you are reading this, and you have not played either game, I suggest you go get both, they're well worth the 7-8 hours it takes to play each them through. And if you don't like them, or don't get touched by the story, I'm sorry. You must not be human.

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