Samstag, 15. September 2012


This blog will be replaced with my personal website soon.
Thanks for reading and for your interest!

Sonntag, 12. August 2012

Cryostasis - First Impressions

I saw that my occasional reviews gathered a bunch of interest so I figured I might make my blog about more than just my own game and art development... I want to show you, dear reader, some less known gems in the videogame world.

I recently picked up "Cryostasis" (tagline: sleep of reason) on steam and I would like to give you my first impressions and introduce this title to you:


Cryostasis takes place in 1981 on an Arktika class nuclear icebreaker called the North Wind near the North Pole. The main character, Alexander Nesterov, is a Russian meteorologist who was supposed to board the ship however he finds it's been shipwrecked since 1968 and its dead crewmen have undergone bizarre metamorphosis. Through the game the player finds fragments of Maxim Gorky's fairy tale The Flaming Heart of Danko, which parallels what happened to the ship and its crew.

The game follows a beautifully presented but confusing narration (at first)
The game can be considered a horror-shooter / adventure crossover even though it does not incorporate all the elements of these 2 genres. I did not come to any gunplay so far only late introduced melee combat which I found was surprisingly good. While playing, you really feel like you are alone in the arctic, nearly freezing to death and wrapped in heavy, uncomfortable gear and clothing. Movement is slow and it impacts the combat a lot. (you can adjust your punches and do combos with the WASD keys which is a nice touch too). In most videogames you are an overly agile "commando/ spec-ops" type character and in some horrorgames you are way too slow or not even able to defend yourself at all. This game finds the perfect middleground therefore you feel a lot more like you are a real person in an extreme situation.

I immediately fell in love with the grim athmosphere and the realistic feeling of this game. The visuals are somewhere in between really good and mediocre. This is an odd combination but not rare in indie/lower budget productions. While the shadereffects and lighting is excellent, a lot of rooms don't feel real and you often wonder what would be the actualy purpose of some locations. A few models have a really low polycount which baffels me because the developers added  so many visual effects that optimisation seemed to be their last thought...more about this in the full review though.

I need to mention right away: The ice effects look fantastic and since finding heatsources and keeping your body warm is a major gameplay element (sometimes a bit hard to take serious but innovative and well thought out) you activate a lot of generators to get lightsources and heatsources running so the frozen walls and objects around you start to defreeze resulting in a wonderful effect of water flowing from objects and dripping down. This shader effect looks stellar (which brings up the question...would being wet not dramatically decrease your possibility to stay alive in the colder areas?)

Lightbulbs don't work that way
In the above screenshot you raise your body temperature to a tremendously high level with nothing but a lightbulb... most of the time, you will find believable heatsources though.

Interactive cutscenes drive the story we approach the "Northwind" on a dogslay
Now I'm going to talk about 2 elements I really like in this game.

PSYCHOLOGICAL HORROR... the genre which this game is a member of. (according to wikipedia). This game is from the ukraine and has the trademark elements of a game from eastern europe and russia : rust, paranormal themes in a realistic light and gritty athmosphere. You come across many corpses in this game blocking your past in some way (they where really creative here) and you travel in the past to control them and change their fate in order to clear a way for the protagonist in the present. You got that? Think you can handle that? It looks cool too:

 Not only do you jump back and forth in time and control different people you do also shift position and your surroundings fall apart and reassemble into something different aswell. You are in a warm room, suddenly a fucking guy comes in to kick your ass, then everything is frozen and then you are back in the warm room again. You do also have a ton of flashbacks to uncover the ships past. You dont get many explanations for this at first and trust me...its very interesting and seems really complex.

 If you are a western douchebag that has been brainwashed by mainstream science and clings to his 5 sense based, limited reality, you will not like or make much sense of this game... or anything else in life. But thats just jolly old me and my opinion. =:0]

Flashbacks are athmospheric and the voiceacting is good too
So, the game is not clichéed, feels like a videogame in this genre should feel and has an interesting story (so far).


Something else I would like to adress are  the horror elements in this game. I already mentioned the combat and the reality-shifting...but the actual way enemies are introduced is great too. The first few creatures are your standart zombie-ish people but they do usually have a reason to be there or a cool build up moment.

This guy is going to shut the fucking door on you
The developers must have spent a lot of time in scripting all these flashbacks, moments and appearances...nothing feels as recycled as it often does in mainstream titels (yet) and enemies dont just spawn and attack you, they appear out of places where they could have dwelled before the player came along, climb up on something, rip apart a door etc. etc.
These do not feel forced and you dont get the fixed camera angles like in a lot of other titles that are having the motto "we scripted this scene so you are going to watch it, fucker!"

I'm on a boat in a boat... and this guy wants to join me!

The close combat system might feel a bit raw though...this game is in no way a perfect title.
Bring it on!

You also do your typical first person adventure routine... find keys, clues and solve valve puzzles...I hate valve puzzles.

I hate valvepuzzles...the pipe is also a good example for the strange lowpoly look....also: what is this room?
now this is a valvepuzzle I can get behind...its also how "valve" got its logo
In conclusion, Cryostasis is the kind of game I would make if I would have more skills, a team and even bigger balls. It does have its problems though...its not optimised at all. You might be wondering why its not as well known as "Amnesia" or the likes... well, you need some fucking alienware to run this thing. I have a high end, custom built machine and I cant run it on full settings without some lagspikes. I can only imagine how bad this game must suck on weaker systems (which the majority of the ... planet has)

Maybe the game will have more success in the future...when the high end of today becomes the garbage of tomorrow...until then, I enjoy this game.

'till next time!  (english is not my native language and feel free to keep every typo you find. no charge)

Dienstag, 7. August 2012

Cyberpunk Pack Post IV

Welcome to a quick update on my current artistic work-in progress.

The releasedate is getting closer with every heartbeat! (estimate release in september)

Cableitem (by Bugsy)

Donnerstag, 12. Juli 2012

Outbreak : Review

Time for another Review!! This time its an indie zombie shooting game. Fucking creative, I know! :) Ever wondered why the big studios release so few zombie games while the undead are the maintheme in the indiescene whenever it comes to survival, arcade, action or fps? I really don't get it! I bet a zombiethemed call-of-duty-clone would sell like fucking I-Phones... a lot of the braindead kids already buy it only for the braindead nazizombies mode. Alright, the theme of the game isn't creative at all but the design and execution is intriguing as Data from Star-Trek would put it.

Outbreak is an FPSC based Top Down Shooter by Hockeykid and Kravenwolf. Now, for everyone who came to this webblog without knowing what any of this must be lost. The Porn isn't here, sorry! But here's an explanation: FPSCreator is a tool designed to create first person shooters ergo: egoshooters for fun without coding. Creating a Top Down Shooter with this impressive visuals, an inventory system coherent spawning, ally AI and  more need scripting extras never seen before in an FPSC Game. Its so good, it received next to zero attention by its community... I don't even remotly understand this. Alpha Project, a rather generic Resident Evil inspried shooter... which is fucking impressive in the scripting and execution department but totally eats in the artistic realm gets quoted as one of the best FPSC games ever while this little gem gets completely overlooked. Probably because the gameplay is, at its core, fucking boring. (I get to that later... I'm going to be positive first)


The effort

This game has been made for the "Defy the odds competition 2011" and I don't think it was intended to be a full length feature project but it turned out to be more than most other FPSC games. The sheer effort and skill put into making this happen is admirable and shows what a well organised team of coder and artist can do if they put some effort in their project. This game is a prime example of FPSC in good use and should be a monument to livingroom gamedevelopment. This game makes actual use of FPSC's scripting system aswell. No kidding! It actually uses it! (If you would play all FPSC games that get released like I do you would understand why I'm surprised... most people just put in stock entities, Jakes guns, Marcs Zombies and click build...if you are in this group. Well screw you!)

The visuals

Its a top down shooter so its a bit hard to judge the visuals but Kravenwolf did another outstanding job on them. Well, I have to point out a minor flaw here...its made by Kravenwolf so everything is held in blueish greytones. I like a coherent visual style but I'm not that crazy about the overly desaturated colorpallette. In fact, the only thing that seems to emit color are the lightsources which are creating a wonderfully believable cityambience btw. Its clearly the work of a skilled artist. I have to mention the use of shaders and effects is nearly perfect in this game. Nothing shines too much, nothing looks fake or too much like plastic. No dynamic object shines too bright and I didn't get annoyed by invisible enemies and the like. It all feels like forged out of one metal (if this metaphor exists in the english-speaking realm). This is a major problem I have with most other FPSC titles, including the more popular ones. They all have this feeling of a lot of incoherent media thrown in one map and done. This one really shines here.


The Gameplay

As creative and fresh the idea of a top down shooter in fpsc is...its not really a lot of fun. You just exterminate wave of zombies after wave of zombies while unlocking goodies in a pretty but confined space. (I'm really not crazy about the design of these greenish barriere planks)  Its the Nazizombies gameplay mechanic. Survive and unlock goodies to survive even more. You start off with some kind of teammate that dies somewhere down the road....and I guess you kill zombies then until you dont want to anymore. Aiming at them is a bit hard to do and I wasted quite some ammo trying to get a zombie from a distance. Some kind of lasersight would be cool. Dead Zombies also tend to block the way and can be an annoyance here and there... My major problem with this game is its simplicity despite all the effort.

More complaints

Lets sum this up in one categorie. While the game at its core is a wave based zombieslasher, its really not supposed to be that much fun. The entire approach has a serious, cold feel to it. The visual style not even included. The story (yes! it has a story) puts you in the shoes of "Kevin Arkely" to clear a city of infected targets. Your usual zombiebaloney but with this kind of game, a more lighthearted touch would be desirable. The dark approach gets underlined by a, what I think is, postgrunge theme that plays along after a while. All of this would have been much greater in a game with a larger scope. I would have liked this better if your charackter would be some homeless dude and your sidekick a hooker trying to survive the zombie apocalypse to a rocking tune. 

Yeah, I guess I got everything down I thought about this so far so now its time for a conclusion:


Outbreak is a damn fine, creative game that suffers from its monotony. I rate this thing a zombie out of ten...which is something along the lines of ... 7.5 // 10 on the fpsc scala. 5.0 // 10 on the general scala. I would love to see Hockeywolf and Kravenkid work on something with a larger scope...and maybe in first or third person. They made an awesome team on this and are far too talented for a nazizombies wave based game. Best luck to these two with their future projects!

So if you like wavebased games, zombies or just want to play a fresh indie title...

You can download the game here

You can keep all charge ;) Also: If you think any of this is offensive to you: blow me ;)

you guys have a great day and see you next time.


Donnerstag, 5. Juli 2012

Samstag, 23. Juni 2012

Catathrenia // June Update 2

User Posted Image 
 Bad news first: I had to delete 6 entire levels. Yeah! there is a lot of work going straight down the drain. Those maps where simply not working well, went too hard on the memory cap or wheren't fun to play. 
If you are working in a wierd setting like this where there isn't that much realism to hold on to, you still need to give the game some sort of grounding and sense of danger or you hit the player over the head and the game ends up being boring. You can also not string together 4 levels of pure puzzle solving and story elements or you lose the folks who are not that invested in the storyline, not yet really into the setting or just want some relieving action. You gotta get the player to get chased by something or the entire hostile athmosphere gets lost. There is a lot of work involved to get a game like this working in fpsc. 
 Bottomline, I had a hard cutback on progress but it made up for better flowing- and more coherent gameplay.
 I got to work on the health system which invites to explore the level (we'll get to that later). It strongly relies on the use of various chemicals and items you can find and you can carry 3 flasks (healthpotions) with you. In fact, there is a passive inventory (keys, puzzleitems and ingredients) and 2 active inventories: (Weapons and Potions). Things you carry and can consume are allocated as icons on the left side of the screen (very small and stylish icons...dont worry, I wont overload your HUD with crap) In Fact, the health-o-meter isn't visible at all and can only be triggered by pressing a button. You'll see what I did there once its finished. :) 

 I've been thinking about adding a few more weapons. It has 3 so far and since I clear the inventory of any tools and documents you dont need anmyore there is room for infinite guns. If you got a stellar idea that would suit the setting, feel free to air your mind. ...I've been concidering a crossbow btw. :) User Posted Image  
You will also get mechanical puzzles to solve...this is not part of one of them. In fact, thats just there to spice up the first chapter's scenery. User Posted Image  
I really like this room. There will be a lot going on in it aswell :) User Posted Image  
Don't worry, I won't overuse windows as much as the screenshot reals might make you think User Posted Image  
That thing is... I dont know what that is either User Posted Image  
Well, you get a lot of readingmaterial in here too...but hey, in other games you just get a screen full of text, here you can run around with it. ;) 
 User Posted Image User Posted Image User Posted Image  
Thats from the "desperation" subchapter...its very minimalistic User Posted Image 
 I finally have a good setting for the dogman in your face! He has new sounds too. 

Thanks for reading.

Sonntag, 10. Juni 2012

Catathrenia June Update 1

Quick update!

I made some progress with the game and felt like sharing a few thoughts. I aim at telling the story with strong visuals that should represent certain ideas which is why I will be most likely forced to model a lot of extra props for this title (which has been originaly designed to be as lazy as possible...but I guess thats just how creativity works). I already made like 30 entities including variations and I'm just getting started with the more abstract levels.I show you all of this later.

Lately I remade and reimported Benge's G3 from Modelpack 6 which is the most prominent weapon in this game. And yes! There will be weapons in this game for two reasons. 1: I always wanted to make a game featuring the Modelpack 6 Weapons which I never did. 2: Its a horrorthemed game, no survival horrorgame or similar. I don't aim only to scare you, I aim to do a lot of artwork and convey a story while making a fun game.
Besides the usual retexture, soundexchange and Airmod polishing I also mapped all textures on a single image and attached a customized shader to it which makes it look faboulus in motion. I made a screenshot to convey hot it behaves.

Weapon Shader Demo

Upper: facing lightsource
lower: not facing any lightsource

as you can see, the shader adapts to its environment and is gentle on the hands while a lot more intense on the gun itself. This is in itself not a big accomplishment, I just want to point it out, that even though my game has a strong overgrained and overbloomed style to it, the gun never shines like a christmastree while I see a lot of other FPSC titles where the shader effects are so overdone that it hurts the eyes. Most of the time they look like shiny plastic. Thats a major complaint I have about shaders, they are rarely used in a decent way. (to be fair, in FPSC they are a pain in the rectal area)

Thats enough of that

Don't worry, clocks will only be a big thing in the second interval.

A friendly music composer I met on Moddb made a bunch of neat ambientmusic for my game In fact, this will be a great contrast and addition to my ...slightly more insane musical pieces. You should definately check them out and his other stuff:

Catathrenia BG Soundtrack

I also wrote (yes! wrote...prepared and thought about and all that) a bunch of possible riddles and puzzles to build into the game. Most of them are hard work and I will certainly drop a lot of them as I simply don't have the time. I just hope I can get your interest in some of them as I don't want to bore you with "find the switch and drag the box over the platform" puzzles.

Now, a few more images and I hope to see you all next update.

Feedback and questions are appreciated!