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Archive for May, 2010

Cold Comfort

19 May

May 3rd was the release day for Painted Black’s debug album “Cold Comfort”… and what an album that is!
Painted Black was elected for 3 years in a row “Best Unsigned Act” on the Portuguese heavy metal magazine “Loud!”, and listening to the finished album, it’s easy to understand why.
Categorizing their music is hard, as it is a mixture of styles and influences; you have the agressiveness of death metal, combined with the melancholy and melody of doom metal and several others in-between…
The overall result is 55 minutes of the best music I’ve heard in a long time, capable of triggering emotions of an unusual range.
Special mention must be done to the first track (“Via Dolorosa”), which has an absolute kick-ass feel to it, and the last one (“Inevitability”), which is an extremely strong melodic and melancholic piece.
So head on to http://www.myspace.com/blacktapestry to listen to it, and don’t waste time ordering it, so that you support good music everywhere (this way, we might get rid of all the terrible “comercial” music out there!) πŸ™‚

To the Painted Black lads, I say: Well done… very well done indeed! πŸ™‚

 
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Posted in Music

 

Drawn – The Painted Tower

17 May

Lately, I’ve been playing “Drawn – The Painted Tower” with my wife, and I must say that once again, the guys at Big Fish Games have done it… And by it, I mean create a casual game that has me entertained for some hours… πŸ™‚

“Drawn – The Painted Tower” is a departure of their usual “find-the-object” gameplay system present in the “Mystery Case Files” series, being more akin to the “static-screen” graphical adventures of old that to that gameplay mechanisms…

It has the usual puzzle-solving (align colors, do a tangram, etc) and graphical adventure (use object A in spot B). My only complaint is that it’s a bit easy so far (haven’t finished it yet)… I’ve only used the hint system once (and I regreted instantly, since I should have tried harder), and although it’s a nice touch, I wonder if it doesn’t spoil the game a bit (having that help there, without any apparent drawbacks seems like counter-game, but they probably know what their player-base wants, since they’ve been doing this sort of game for a long time now).

The game theme is also different from their usual fare: a girl is captive in a tower and we have to find out who she is and how to free her… and while the story is kind of simple, it has that fairytale vibe that seems easy to achieve, but isn’t.
Visually, they eschewed their usual “realistic painting” look for a more “hand-drawn” approach, which works better for this kind of game… in some moments, it kind of reminds me of Tim Burton’s work (for example, the daytime clocktower painting).

All in all, it’s a very fun and entertaining game, that sadly is a bit easy (which makes it a great introduction to the genre for newcomers, to be honest)… and for $7 USD, it’s a steal! πŸ™‚

Happy gaming!

 
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Posted in Games

 

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

12 May

Finally I got a chance watch “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”… After the reviews I’ve saw about the movie, I had low expectations for this, so I was quite surprised to have so much fun with it…
Again, it’s the usual Terry Gilliam mixture of insanity, good storytelling, and above all, leaving stuff to the imagination of the viewer…
The film is as good for what it shows, as it is about what it implies… most of the tale of the Doctor himself is hidden and implied, and as such, we can build his entire story in our minds, which for an imaginative person is very cool…
The reviews were a tad cruel to this one (I wonder what exactly were they expecting, to be honest), but for me, the movie hit the mark, with superb acting (even the workaround with Johnny Depp, Collin Farrel and Jude Law to offset Heath Ledger’s death), and more importantly, a non-conventional story, which seems to go in the direction of the “love-conquers-all” persuasion, but takes a U-Turn and goes to some very dark and unexpected paths…

All in all, I liked it very much and strongly recommend it to everyone…

To finish up this post, just a nify link: http://james-iry.blogspot.com/2009/05/brief-incomplete-and-mostly-wrong.html … This is for programming geeks like myself, but it’s a good laugh for those… πŸ™‚

 
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Posted in Movies

 

Editor

04 May

Hey everyone…

I know, I know, I’ve been quiet lately… Reason for that was that my World of Warcraft account got hacked last week, and in trying to find how that happened, I didn’t trust any of my computers to log on to anything… :\
Still haven’t figured out how I got hacked (probably a well hidden worm, trojan or keylogger), so I decided to just format all my PCs…

Anyway, I’m back and been super-busy with my all-purpose editor…
Lifting the veil a bit:


What you’re seeing is the 2d map component editor…

What my editor does is handle “components” that have “entities”, which in turn have “properties”. These properties can be class-driven (so out of the box, my “2d objects” have a size, position, etc, etc… You can see the property editor in the right lower corner of the screen.) or custom added by the user.
This type of system has lots of nifty advantages… one of them is that the properties can be edited in a series of you, from GUI components on the property editor, to directly through the viewport. Another advantage is the fact that the undo system becomes way easier to build… I have unlimited undos/redos on this editor, which will make it easier for content creators to access… I’ll probably make a post about my property system in the future, since it has a lot of nifty macro tricks so that adding a property is easy.

All the system is built using the Win32 API (so no MFC, .NET, Widgets or any kind of external tech). Reason for this is that in the past I’ve used my own library (too much work to add stuff, looked ugly, was unwieldy and unnatural) or wxWidgets (and I usually came midway through the project thinking I was fighting wxWidgets more than the actual editor code).
It has been a fight getting this to work at all (since I just use the Internet as source of information on Win32 API), but I think it’s well worth it… I can create a new control type very fast nowadays, after the initial “Where the hell is this?!” or “How can I do that?!?!?!”…

The project managment code was also a bitch to get right, since I wanted this editor not only to encapsulate asset design, but also the project managment part of it. For example, when you want to add a 3d model to the system, you don’t just dump the file in a specific directory, you import it to the project, where he does all sorts of nifty things, before storing it in an easily parsed XML format (which is also good to merge using CVS tools). Later, you can invoke the “compile” command which will turn the files into binaries, for faster loading, etc.
It can also launch external applications (for example, the game executable, so the user can see how the level is playing, for example), or text editors (to edit scripts and such).

All of this took a bit in creating, but I’m very happy with the results so far…

Hopefully I can lift the veil a bit on the inner workings when I get some time to write some tutorials… πŸ™‚

Until then, catch you all later!