|Night's Edge is done
Wednesday, January 8, 2003 3:49 PM
I recently released what is supposed to be the final patch to Night's
Edge: Wet Works, our mod for Unreal Tournament. I admit, my attention to
the mod over the past several months was sparse and sporadic at best.
This definitely prolonged the release of version 1.2 and I can't deny it.
But I also believe that most people don't know what it's like to have a
project like this last for 3 years and reach the point where it's gone on
for so long and absorbed so much of your life that you begin to harbor a
deep down resentment for it and cringe at the thought of continuing. I
can't remember the last time I played Night's Edge when it wasn't for
testing purposes. It was probably at the last outLAN, which was quite a
while ago. I designed Night's Edge as the game that didn't exist but
wanted to play... and then I never really played it.
Creating a mod is a pain. I mean, it's a seriously arduous task to
design and actualize something on the scale that we did. Inexperience
managing a group (especially a volunteer group) only makes it worse. I
made a number of mistakes in the way I recruited, ran the team, and
planned out goals. Being the only programmer and team lead meant
that the time I took out to aid a team member, bring new people up to
speed, or investigate a particular tool was time I didn't devote to
working on the code. Lack of solid information at times severely crippled
our progress. Official documentation for much of UT's feature-set is
simply non-existent, and so there was a considerable amount of
trial-and-error going on behind the scenes.
Then there's the reality of volunteer internet help. Faceless
strangers doing work for someone else's project are notoriously
unreliable. This is not to say that all of my volunteers were flaky,
because this simply not true. Night's Edge benefited from some great
volunteer contributions. But I wasted a lot of time handling people who
either had no real skills to offer or who -- for some reason or another --
decided that they couldn't (or didn't want to) continue to help out. I
suspect that I could have done a lot more to keep people (and keep them
productive). In the end, though, dealing with team turn-over is tough and
demoralizing for everyone involved (probably more so for the team lead).
Three years is a long time to work on an amateur product like this and
so I've made it, I think, perfectly clear that Night's Edge: Wet Works has
come a final and decisive end. What little interest there was in the mod
can only further dwindle with the release of Unreal Tournament 2003. But
the experience has taught me some valuable lessons, and though I still may
cringe for a while whenever someone mentions it to me, it was an important
project for me to work on. First off, I'm not a manager. I've known it
since high school when I was the "head" of various teams and clubs.
Organizing people is not my strong suit. I'm also a notorious
procrastinator when it comes to things that aren't fun, and let's face it,
a lot of making a mod is just plain work. I don't know what to say to
motivate people, especially volunteers. And I definitely played too nice
with both the non-contributing team members and the complainers on the
message board. Yeah, even with my numerous acerbic comments, the forums
still got out of hand because we tolerated too much crap.
Which, of course, brings up one of the biggest reasons I've come to
resent Night's Edge: some of the players themselves. I just haven't yet
gotten accustomed to the fact that no matter how hard you try, you will be
deluged with bitching and whining about every little thing. It's a staple
of the gaming community, whether you do it for fun or for profit. Just
because people don't pay a cent to play our mod doesn't mean they won't
complain just as loud as they do for the games they paid $55 for at Best
Buy. Well, maybe not quite as loud. Still, I don't think anything was
quite as demoralizing as the constant negative comments we received from
people who claimed to like the game. And it wasn't just about bugs
(though there were plenty from time to time), it was the stream of
complaints about the style, or the lack of a particular feature, or how
This Game didn't compare to That Game, or how they always wanted So-And-So
in a game and we were idiots for not including it. We had several great
fans who posted helpful and constructive criticism, but eventually they
moved on because the barrage of inane comments.
After the mod conference, I drew up plans for a third-person
space-style mod for UT2003 (similar in vein to what Bellicose Void is supposed to be)
that I discarded when Mojo pointed out to me how much work it would be and
I'd said I wasn't interested in doing another large project. Too true.
So I abandoned it and devised a basic type of rune-style mutator to
replace the adrenaline. After putting that all together... I realized the
last thing I wanted right now was to head up another mod, even if I was
the only one working on it. I have too little free time to have another
sink hole like that eating it all up. So maybe one of these days I'll
join up with an existing mod team and offer up my volunteer services. But
probably not any time soon, and I don't know that I'll ever start up my
own mod project again.
|Star Trek: Nemesis
Monday, December 16, 2002 2:23 PM
Saw Star Trek: Nemesis last night and, like a lot of people, found
myself torn. This might have been a good movie, even if it was basically
a rehash of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. I mean, if you're going to
copy a Trek movie, you might as well copy the best one. But while ST2
remained true to Trek, Nemesis did not. (Avast, ye mateys, there
be spoilers ahead!)
There were several moments throughout the movie that made me sit,
gaping in my chair, wondering out loud, "Did the writers even watch
Star Trek: The Next Generation?" When a Data-like android was found on an
alien planet (using the Enterprise's magic Plot Device to detect the
android's energy signature), no one, not once, bothered to mention Lore --
the precursor to Data, the android that was just a bit too human
for comfort. Everyone was all amazed... "Oh my, another Data! Wow, it
looks just like you!" For crying out loud, it's not like this never
happened before. The fact that the chaotic Lore existed at all should
have given them pause before reassembling their newly discovered
Data-double. But no, not only do they proceed to put it back together,
they also dump all of Data's memories into it! This is, of course, allows
the writers to do something rather drastic at the end of the movie and
still end up with everything copacetic in the end. Pretty convenient, I'd
I'd also like to say that the scene where they discover Data's second
sibling was rather baffling. All of the sudden, strange aliens appear,
driving dune buggies complete with machine guns shooting up the place...
and no explanation as to why.
Are we supposed to believe that the Romulans, arrogant beyond belief
and so assured of their own superiority, would make a human clone
the leader of their entire empire? Not only a human clone, but one that
was raised on Remus and brought with him hordes of Remans as his trusted
guards and advisers. A coup by the Romulan military I can believe. A
military coup that places a human on the throne is hard to swallow.
I almost never notice music in movies. It's just something I don't
pick up on, as long as it's decent. There are a very few occasions when I
realize that a movie has good music. There are also those movies, like
Nemesis, where I can't help but notice the bad. On the planet where they
discover the android B4, we are subjected to a terrible discordant score
so close to being palatable that I couldn't for the life of me figure out
if it was some kind of problem with the audio recording. I mean, it was
just plain bad. Of course, during that entire segment, the lighting was
washed out and yellow, so I can only assume the the effect was
intentional. However, I simply chalk it up to another poor decision.
Where is Data's emotion chip? Seemingly forgotten. It is quite clear
in this movie that it is not in use ("I feel nothing," he says on one
occasion), nor is any mention of it ever made. Now that I think of it,
mind you, I think they pretty much did the same thing in Insurrection.
However, this is not an excuse, considering how prevalent it was in
Generations, and it was featured in First Contact.
And they start out the movie with The Silliness. Come on, people.
TNG has always had its sense of humor, but what's with the fucking
singing? I can't remember anyone singing show tunes in any of the TNG
episodes, and yet we have 2 movies where characters belt out songs at a
whim. Enough already!
Oh, and just for the record, Picard used to have hair. It didn't
bother me that his clone had none... It did bother me that the (SF
Academy?) photo of Picard had none. Don't believe me? Watch the TNG
episode "Tapestry" in which he dies and Q shows Picard what his life would
have been like had he not been so reckless in his youth. Yeah, he used to
have hair. Most bald people did.
This isn't to say the movie is all bad. It has plenty of action,
though none of the space combat really had the edge-of-your-seat
nail-biting suspense of either Wrath of Khan or Undiscovered Country. And
at least the main bad guy isn't a god or sorry cookie-cutter Klingon. Tom
Hardy does well in the role he was given, doing a fine job of expressing
his pain, anger, and longing. It's just a shame he wasn't given something
better to work with.
|Ice storm and power outage
Tuesday, December 10, 2002 5:06 PM
The ice storm here knocked out the power sometime after midnight
Thursday morning. It was only restored today
just before noon,
which means that our house (and rps.net) went without power for five and a
half days. Lows at night got as far down as 17 degrees F this past week.
All in all, not a pleasant experience. If it had continued any longer,
people might have gotten hurt!
|The morning after
Friday, October 25, 2002 8:58 AM
The snipers are caught, the weapon found. The debate over gun control
will now continue, probably even intensify. All of the major media
outlets report that the .223 Bushmaster AR-15 clone proven to be the
murder weapon is an "assault rifle", even though it is not capable of
automatic fire. It's quite apparent that they're happy to wallow in their
spread of ignorance, because it makes for much more sensational
Will we discover the motivation for the shootings? As suggested by
his last name, Muhammad, the sniper, was a convert to Islam. This of
course gives rise to the question of whether or not his faith and 9/11 had
anything to do with his murderous rampage. Was it simply terrorism, no
different from the WTC except on scale? I doubt he had any contact with
organized terrorism, any more than the shooter in LAX from a few months
Angry accusations have been hurled at the NRA for their "silence"
during the entire sniper murder spree. As if any of those accusers would
be satisfied with any official statement the NRA were to make. If the NRA
were to condemn the attacks (which of course they do) and publicize their
desire for a speedy arrest and prosecution? The accusers would simply
ratchet up their rhetoric that NRA executive must be held personally
responsible for every gun crime committed in the United States (and
probably a few in Mexico too). Do they also believe that the ACLU should
be held responsible for crimes committed by people on parole or those who
have been released on a technicality? I kinda doubt it, even though both
organizations are simply trying to defend the rights of American citizens.
John Allen Muhammad is an ex-soldier and Gulf War veteran. He scored
"expert" in the Army's M-16 qualification course. Sorry, Jack Thompson,
your ridiculous assertion that the sniper gained his terrific abilities
from video games has finally been put to rest. As I covered earlier, the
entire suggestion was nonsense to begin with, though I doubt that it will
be the last time simpleton lawyer Jack Thompson argues the position.
Sarah Brady has used the sniper shooting to try to advance several
points of her group's anti-gun agenda. Even though the weapon used
doesn't appear to fall under the legal definition of "assault weapon", she
has argued that this attack demonstrates the need to renew the assault
weapon ban that expires next year. Of course, even the briefest thought
given to that argument shows how utterly hollow it is. The law is still
in effect... and did not stop these shootings. How exactly is it
important that we extend it? The law does not even cover the weapon used.
In other words, it's not even relevant to the situation. And finally,
each attack consisted of a single solitary shot. In other words,
the crimes would have been no different if the sniper had used a
bolt-action 5-shot .223 rifle, or a lever-action 6-shot .223 rifle, or
even a single-shot falling-block .223 rifle that contained no magazine at
all. Sarah Brady wants to convince us all that banning the rifle used
would have prevented these depraved attacks, an argument, it's quite
plain, is intellectually bankrupt.
Ballistic fingerprinting is now being thrown around as the solution to
all the nation's woes, especially by people who don't understand it. It
may surprise some to learn that a few years ago, I also endorsed the idea
of a distributed database of ballistic information. I didn't advocate a
centralized government database of records, but rather information kept by
each manufacturer. It wasn't until the actual process of ballistic
fingerprinting was explained to me that I realized why the entire concept
was flawed and could never work. Rather than go into a bunch of details
here, I'll link to an article by
Dave Kopel & Paul H. Blackman who explain it far better than i ever
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