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Matt Chat 149: Diablo

With all the attention of the CRPG community focused on Diablo III, I thought it only fitting to give a retrospective on the 1996 game that launched the franchise--the original Diablo! Reducing the complex CRPG gameplay mechanics to utter simplicity, Blizzard offered up a mesmerizing clickfest that's enjoyed by thousands today. It also introduced "Battle.net," a value-add that allowed groups of players to co-op or compete online--for free!

Download the mp4 here.

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Matt Chat 148: The Fat Man Answers Your Questions

Here's the last installment of my interview with The Fat Man, aka George Sanger. In this section, Fat Man answers your questions concerning game audio, careers in the industry, and even a bit of philosophy. If you think I did a good job on this interview series, please send a few dollars my way!

Download the mp4 here.

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Dev Diary 024: Two Player Dog Fight

Two Player!Two Player!This has been a rough day for me! I finally got my space duel game working with two players. That is, it worked fine in the EDITOR. However, when I made a build of it, the fire buttons wouldn't work! I spent hours looking into the input functions to no avail. Finally, I discovered the problem had something to do with the update speed of the editor vs. the build. I'm still not exactly sure what the problem was, but it had something to do with the way I instantiated and positioned the bullets. I figured I'd check to see which fire button was pressed, then check to see where the corresponding ship was located. The big complication here is that I need to impart an initial velocity (set by each player) to their bullets. But how to get the right variable to the bullet? I'll spare you the details, which I don't really understand, but the short of it I managed to kludge through it.

At any rate, I think there's enough here for you to finally see my vision for the gameplay. You've got a two-player dog fight, ships orbiting the planets. Each time you fire, there's a cooldown period before you can fire again. You have to hit the enemy ship head-on to blow it up, and, yes, you can blow yourself up if you're not careful.

The keys are below:

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Matt Chat 147: The Fat Man Returns

This week, I'm back with The Fat Man (George Sanger) to talk about some of his most famous game scores. Yes, that means Wing Commander, Ultima Underworld, and The 7th Guest. As always, Fat Man has great behind-the-scenes stories about all this stuff, so you go ahead and kickback with a fine cigar and a horn of Dragon's Milk. I also do a bit of clowning around at the end, giving you a glimpse of what it's really like making these Matt Chat episodes (hint: take after take after take...)

Download the mp4 here.

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Matt's Podcast 13: Backwardness compatibility, Smelly Games, Why Stories and Graphics Suck, Matt's Turn to the Darkside

Smell me!Smell me!Hi, guys! I'm back with a little podcast here addressing some of the popular threads raised right here at Armchair Arcade. After a special announcement and some talk about my Unity game project, I talk about smelly game environments, three games that made me want to own a system, and backward compatibility. I even briefly kvetch about Tera! Thanks to Mark, Rob D., and Clok for those fun topics!

Download the podcast here.

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Dev Diary 023: Procedurating Solar Systems

Sparkles!Sparkles!The ol' dev diary has been quiet lately as I had some very tough times getting over the next hump of my gravity game. By the way, how does "Outlaws of Gravity" strike you as a title? Little play on "Law of Gravity." But, anyway, I've been busy trying to make a system for procedurally generating the solar system, giving you a random distribution of planets and moons. Of course, later on I'll add some different textures for the planets, so that they don't all look the same.

I had a really tough time with the moons. I don't want them to be smashing into planets or each other, so I had to keep spacing out the planet orbits more and more, until finally it just wasn't practical. I went down a dead end of just making them decorative. Didn't like that, so went back to the old way. Finally, decided I just had to limit the number of them. I originally wanted three as the max, but just wasn't feasible unless I really went big with the resolution. I'm still not really happy about the moons. I think they're cool, and make it more realistic, but they don't seem to serve much purpose. I guess one strategy could be trying to put your ship right next to one, so that hopefully it might catch a bullet. Other than that, I don't see a point, so I might end up taking them out. IIRC, they didn't have them in gravity wars anyway.

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Role of Smell and Taste in Games

I was just thinking that gaming is the most sensual of all forms of all creative expressions save tribal dancing. It incorporates sight, sound, and touch. Tribal dancing and mystical ceremonies, of course, incorporates smell (burning torches, incense, etc.) and possibly taste (alcohol, herbs, feasts, delicacies, etc.) It seems to me that some interesting game ideas open up if you allow for taste and smell. How could game designers make games that utilized smell and taste?

Smell seems to be right around the corner. Consider The Scentscape. Imagine crawling through a dungeon and smelling the reassuring aroma of your burning torch. Imagine really being able to smell that famous "napalm in the morning," or the exotic flowers and plants in games like Riven. I don't imagine many people would want to smell rotting corpses, but I suppose that could be done, too, just to add to the horror. This could, of course, become part of the gameplay in adventures and such--an "aroma puzzle." Or it could heighten the feeling of immersion if you could smell a creature before you could see or hear it!

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Matt Chat 146: Matt Reviews Legend of Grimrock

I'm back this week with a review of my pick for "Game of the Year," Legend of Grimrock! An awesome game for so many reasons, Grimrock has the added advantage of being independently produced and available for only $15! Get it direct from the developer and you'll still get a Steam key for sharing achievements.

*Warning.* My video contains a few minor spoilers. Nothing that should ruin your fun, but if you're worried about it, just listen to the audio or watch it after you've completed the game.

Grab the mp4 here!

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Dev Diary 022: Gravity Balls!

Fun with gravityFun with gravityHaha! Man, it's such a beautiful thing when stuff comes together. I had a lot of issues getting this to work. Again, I'm suffering from my lack of math skills with this. I guess I should quit whining and just buy some videos from the Teaching Company, but thankfully I was able to find the formulas worked out by somebody else. Some copying, pasting, and tweaking, and viola! Gravity balls! I still have a long ways to go, obviously, but I think there's already enough here for you to give this a spin and see if it's something you'd enjoy.

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Dev Diary 021: Making Planets Move

OrbitalOrbitalIt's been awhile since I worked with Unity--been too distracted with Legend of Grimrock. I decided to try to get something done today, breaking apart the project into bite size chunks. I figured I might as well start tackling the heart of the game first, and spent the morning getting a basic system worked out for orbiting the planets around the sun. I'm not quite satisfied with this--for one thing, I can't seem to work out a way to make the planets rotate in sync with their orbit. I'm guessing there's some heavy math involved in something like that, so I might just fudge it. No reason (I can think of) why I can't just pick some textures that won't make much difference how they're angled. In other words, making a ringed planet like Saturn look right would probably drive me nuts, so I might just stick to rocky worlds and gas giants. At any rate, I'm fairly pleased with this part. Now I just need to make some ships that will rotate around their respective planets.

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