Thursday, April 28, 2011

Terraria: Pre-release Pre-beta Pre-Review

As one may expect, it is hard to talk about any game that is not out yet. Thus far it has not been all too many days since the first good information about Terraria started being revealed. As of this blog entry there are already hundreds (if not thousands) of people clamoring for information, posting on the official unofficial fan-forum and clogging a certain IRC chat. All in all a fairly typical new game announcement experience.

What we know so far

Terraria is a 2D kludge game that combines elements of of the Metroidvania genera as well as construction games such as Minecraft. Blend, serve, enjoy. The game can be played single-player as well as multiplayer. The gist of the game is much more adventuring and exploration (and combat) oriented as compared to something like Minecraft. Building houses and such does serve a purpose of course, to attract NPCs and to have a safe place to craft objects.

Crafting seems like it will be a big part of the game, an important thing to keep in mind for Terraria is a heavily equipment focused game. No leveling up, only the collection of items and tools that make your character more versatile and more powerful. Even the increases to health & mana levels are handled via exploration to find rare consumable objects.

There are tons of different objects in game so far, ranging from simple things like axes, swords and bows to more fun offerings like rings of regeneration, cloud in a bottle to grappling hooks and guns. The game is definitely a blend of fantasy, science-fiction and horror elements all rolled together. Inclusions of mobs like the Eye of Cthulhu is a wonderful example of how the game draws upon more contemporary mythology to include fun elements in-game.

Again and again the game comes down to exploration and adventuring to find the things you need. Even some of the boss fights can only be triggered (spawned) after the character has acquired the right objects.

The world size in Terraria will vary between 'small', 'medium' and 'large' maps. As of this post the large maps will be approximately three miles wide and one and a half miles deep. These measurements may vary between now and launch and we do not yet know the scale of the medium or small maps as of yet.

The Look & Feel of Terraria

Color me biased, but I have always loved sprite-based games. Part of it is from growing up playing such things of course. While some of the visual look of Terraria that has been revealed already may change as the sprite artist(s?) do their thing, the initial glimpse we have of the game is looking very nice. Despite the limitations self-imposed upon the game, the world of Terraria is one lush with color, light and shadow all blended in good measure.

The use of lighting in Terraria is well done. While the depths of the world may be pitch black and filled with monsters, the light of stars or the moon on the surface gives some brief bare illumination to the surroundings of the player... and the inevitable approaching monsters.

The Story of Terraria

So far it seems the lore & story of Terraria will be following a simple path: Allowing the players to come up with the story themselves. As an adventure/exploration/crafting sandbox this was not necessary per-se, but a lot of people do seem to like filling in their own ideas and motivations as to why things are the way they are.

Sometimes an official story and official lore are necessary, sometimes they are not. It remains yet to be seen whether the right decision has been made on this front as of yet. All I know for sure is that the world of Terraria is heavily reminiscent (to me) of the Megaverse Rifts setting from Palladium.

The Unknown Answers: Cost and Release Date

We do not yet have solid information on how much Terraria will cost or exactly when it will be released. Price ranges of between 10 and 20 USD have been mentioned, with a potential release (perhaps a playable beta) within 2 weeks to 3 months. There are likely a lot of behind the scenes elements that have yet to be put in place of course. Login servers, databases for tracking customer information (accounts, global login servers, etc.) and any official forums and wiki projects.

Links of Interest

If you are looking for more information on Terraria, here is an assortment of links that may prove very handy in the short term. There are already a number of good YouTube videos available showing off the game, from an official trailer to a series of official LP videos showing off the alpha state of the game.

Official Website:
Official FAQ:
Unofficial Fan Forum:
YouTube Channel:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mother Nature + Human Rights = Mass Murder

I just want to hug whomever thought to give Mother Nature/Earth/Gaia the legal recognition as an entity. Now we will all know who to sure, blame or seek retributive vengeance against for all the tornadoes, flooding and other acts of vandalism, genocide, mass-murder and so forth. Should this legislation go into effect, I think we should all petition to have Nature put on trial for all of her crimes against humanity.

Personally I think she definitely deserves the death penalty for all the terrorist acts she has committed against people all over the world. Plagues, volcanoes, earthquakes. Tens of thousands dead this year alone! Someone better do something about this, pronto! If the courts won't take action to arrest, try and execute nature... well then we the people of the world will just have to do it ourselves!

Death to Nature! Pave the Earth! Cut down the forests!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Warning: Politics Inside

If you don't like to read angry blog posts about political stuff, stop now. You have been warned.

In the United States, I sometimes wonder if certain folk who are in charge (and certain agencies) are intentionally trying to destroy the country. A recent ruling by the EPA about drilling in Alaska is a wonderful example of this form of rampant, destructive stupidity. There seem to be too many government agencies that have either outlived their usefulness or which have interests that conflict with their mandate.

Alas there are not too many solutions to all this government overburden. If there was sufficient political power in Washington (house, senate, etc.) one could simply de-fund and otherwise eliminate all the waste. Hopefully a solution like this will be sufficient and timely enough to get the job done. For otherwise, at the moment, it seems that a new sort of civil war may be looming in our own country.

What can one person do in such times? Be aware of the issues. Vote for folk whom you think will do a good job. Vote with your wallet and don't support candidates or companies who are doing piss-poor jobs. Be vocal, find sensible ways to express yourself and your opinions. Make the system work for you, so that the system can be used in a self-correcting mechanism.

After all it is only after all other reasonable efforts to fix the country have failed that more extreme measures should be considered. I dearly hope that that day will not come in my lifetime, for our country has already had to live through one such event and it may not survive another.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Terraria: A game to keep an eye on

Quite recently I came across information & videos about a new game being developed called Terraria. Not too much information is available as of yet, but what has been shown off so far is fairly promising. There are a number of good YouTube videos already, which includes a LP series showing off the game in its Alpha state. Definitely something worth checking out

You can find the official site here:

Here is a nice fan-run forum that has sprung up:

Here is the official YouTube channel for the project so far:

And below is a trailer. Enjoy!

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Warring States (Zhan Guo): A Classic Tragedy

It seems that many of the great Chinese epics, at least those that have been converted into movie form (and thus that I have seen) are all tragedies of one sort or another. Zhan Guo, The Warring States, is no exception to this of course. Caught a showing of it recently when it finally opened in my area. All in all it is a very good, bittersweet historical novel.

Alas I cannot attest to the historical accuracy of this piece not being much of a student of Chinese history. However I found the movie to be very gripping. Some of the first part were a bit disjointed in my opinion, but after the first fifteen minutes or so the sweep of events and characters really pulled me in. I highly recommend this movie. If the trailer makes it look interesting, you may very well enjoy seeing it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Portal 2: Sheer Lunacy

Finished playing the single player campaign of Portal 2 recently. Very well done IMO, a very worthy successor to the original. I really do hope that this is not the last game in this particular franchise. Haven't given the multiplayer a whirl yet though, may go back and re-play the original and take another whack at 2 again after that.

This is one of those games that I have no trouble at all recommending folk try. If you liked the original Portal, the sequel should be right yup your alley. I loved the humor, the puzzles and the plot in general. All in all I was very happy with the length of the single-player campaign as well as with the general level of difficulty and fun of the game.

The ending makes a direct linear squeal a bit difficult for Chel of course. However I definitely want to see more games done in this franchise. Heck I would love to see some games done in the past of the Portal universe, either when the facility was more intact or perhaps even a bit further back in time when C.J. was still alive.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Monsters (2010): Needed more Giant Monsters

Last year I was disappointed when the film Monsters did not come out in local theaters. Now that I have finally seen it, I am very glad I did not waste full theater ticket price on this piece of tripe. At best this movie should have been billed as a touching love story of misunderstood giant monsters who just happen to be on the same planet as some pesky little humans. Tragic.

I cannot honestly recommend this movie to anyone. Given the subject matter of this film, I was shocked and appalled at the sheer banality of it. Frankly while there were one or two exciting bits, I found myself bored by the movie for the most part. I think it rather shocking thus that Gareth Edwards has been tapped to work on the new Godzilla movie.

Poor acting. Lovely scenery. Needed more giant monsters and less 'human interest story' bullcrap. One of the worst bits (from my perspective) is just how insignificant these giant monsters were. If the people of the world had really wanted to get rid of them, there would never have been this movie. Conventional weapons can hurt and kill them, they are spreading and threaten to eventually displace humanity... sounds like it is time for nuclear bombardment.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Firefox 4.0: New somewhat fancy look at the expense of speed

I have been an avid user of Firefox for a very long time, certainly ever since Netscape became as bad as IE quite a few years back. However I feel that the new release of Firefox is a step in the wrong direction. I like the new look and I am getting used to the new interface, but I really dislike something that has been done to the underlying code somewhere. Reskinning ones browser is all well and good; albeit that the update to 4.0 made Firefox less distinctive than it was before.

The big grief here is that sites are taking longer to load with the new version of Firefox than they had just a day before. Hopefully this gets corrected with the next update as it is really unacceptable. I also hope that the visual look of Firefox 4.0 get some tweaks to make it look... well more like a Firefox browser of some kind. The cleaner interface is nice, but it would be good to have a little more color or the Firefox logo in more than just the uppermost left corner of the window.

All in all I do not feel as though the change to Firefox 4.0 was an upgrade. Loss of speed and a step away from being distinctive are not good directions.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Your Highness Movie Review: Just another D&D session gone Right

Caught a showing of Your Highness this weekend. Loved it. I highly recommend it to folk who like D&D and just about any other tabletop pencil & paper rpg. Full of wonderful tropes, good (penile at times of course) humor and general wackiness. The movie is both a serious fantasy movie with a quest as well as a not-so serious comedy all wrapped up in one.

While it is very obvious that the movie is meant to be a huge load of camp, it is pulled off very well. While some of the subject matter is not the most tasteful by general standards, the movie does a wonderful job in my opinion of aiming at the right demographic. As a longtime gamer, I have been in (and run as a gamemaster) many sessions that left me and the other players around the table laughing our assess off. While some of the humor in Your Highness is a bit forced, most of it had that gaming table humor feel to me.

 This is one of those movies that I think will stand the test of time fairly well. I may just see it again, or grab a copy when it comes out on DVD. Great stuff all in all, good acting, good casting for the various roles, wonderful humor, good action. All in all a very entertaining movie.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Strange ponderings: Dwarf Fortress, Minecraft and God Games

First off a little bit of an animated gif I put together for someone. Assets are from the Dwarf Fortress into movie thingy with one little change. But then again, everyone loves magma, right?

After visiting the Minecraft forums for the first time in quite a while (and checking the game's status) two things became apparent. First off while the game is supposedly in a Beta stage it is actually still in Alpha development. Features are being added, new bugs being introduced and old ones still being worked on. Also the progress of development seems to have slowed a bit. Hopefully this changes soon.

Minecraft, alas, is also a game that is terribly lacking in volcanoes at the moment. Quite a number of folk on the official forum and the suggestion & support site have clamored for this feature for a while, but its hard to say if it will ever be added. Personally while I would love to see volcanoes added, I would prioritize a few of the big bugs (like snow & ice not regenerating) being fixed. Thankfully Minecraft is fairly easy to mod so it would be theoretically possible for some user to do just this.

Dwarf Fortress is definitely a game with lots of volcano-related goodness. My only complaint here is that the volcanoes in the current version of the game all share the same stamped template. The shape of the magma pool from top to bottom is the same for every volcano in the world. A bit dull. I do wonder if this will ever change, or if we will ever see the magma rivers and other little fun bits from older versions brought back into the game. Sure the magma sea is fun and all, but more magma-features would be nice as well.

At least From Dust looks like ti is still on track to come out sometime this year. With the disappointment of the Black & White games, it will be very nice to see a god game come out where terrain alteration is a prominent feature once again.