World of Apex

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Mmm...grape jelly.

In today's world of increasingly flashy, jaw-dropping graphics and a real push for realism, lots of important-sounding technologies are being created that most end-users don't know or really care about. One of the biggest trends right now is texture mapping, the process where big companies avoid hiring more 3D modellers to get that nice look of depth on everything. Using fewer models generally boosts your framerate as well, which everyone is always looking for of course. The industry's name of the month right now is Parallax mapping.

Parallax mapping isn't the most amazing concept ever, though it's only now finding a place outside of high-end professional rendering. I took a few minutes to look it up on Wikipedia, and realized the cool 3D effect it pulls off is really elementary in theory. As described by the info page, it's an alternative to normal mapping while faking the effect of displacing coordinates entirely. So what you get is a psuedo-3D look that, when employed correctly, results in an image you pretty much can't tell isn't really 3D.

Only sometimes it doesn't quite work. Right now, the game engine that really shows off parallax mapping is Monolith's Jupiter EX engine, which powers FEAR and the previously reviewed Condemned. Parallax mapping on player and enemy models gives excellent depth to materials in clothing and facial features like wrinkles, whereas the same mapping on decals like bullet holes gives off the illusion the hole actually exists. However parallax mapping is used on other, less talked about parts of the environment too. If you look at the blood decals in either game mentioned above, you'll wonder whether or not it's blood or grape jelly.

Moral of the story? Fancy technologies usually aren't as complex as they seem, and aren't always used the way they should. That, and don't eat the grape jelly splattered on the wall.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Rant mode activated

What do you get when you take a bunch of idiots that can't dance, a performer that can neither sing nor write lyrics, and a bunch of flashing lights? Spike TV's "Video Game Awards" in a nutshell. Sure they talk about games in between mesmerizing the peanut gallery with shiny things, but mostly it was one bad performance, then commercials, and another bad performance. I haven't seen such a terrible wad of crap on the telly since MTV did the halftime show at the Super Bowl.

It's a sad day when gaming has become mainstream enough to merit another meaningless award show to pal around with G4's craptastic gamer-poserfest. At least G4 has something interesting on the channel once in a while, like Cinematech; SpikeTV has reruns of Star Trek, that's it. Stop disgracing video games with your horrible awards people, the real gamers out there don't want to hear how many fanboys voted Madden as "Best Sports Game." The most infuriating award had to be Game of the Year, though. Among FEAR, Call of Duty 2, World of Warcraft (which came out last year didn't it?), and Resident Evil 4, guess which one won?

There are three reasons why the award show was complete garbage (or three I've seen anyway). One, it was funded by Sony. Two, Spike was paid by game companies to give awards to the "winners." As conspiratorial as it sounds, I wouldn't doubt it for a second considering the backwater channel it's aired on. Finally, people are just total idiots. This theory seems most likely considering the number of fanatical fans games have these days. No matter what the case, these "awards" are simply just another badge for multi-billion dollar corporations to pin on their star franchises. Oh look, Madden won another "Best Sports Game," let's pin it up right next to the other ones. Looks like it's time to make another giant ad campaign to shove this meaningless award in potential suckers (read: customers) faces!

Is EA or any other major corporation stupid for doing this? No, of course not. It's the fools that fall for it that are to blame for the future downfall of true videogaming.

Oh and on a lighter note...If you haven't played Darwinia, do so. Now. I hate to pile on praises for a game alongside the rest of the world but it's worthy. Also, my review of FEAR was posted on D-Pad last week. Check it out and get the site some more exposure!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Random question

Moving away from my current review spree for the X360, I've got a question I'd like feedback on. For the two or three people that read this blog, whether you play Half Life 2 or not, I want your opinion here...

Which would you rather see a map of?

A) A big, creepy mansion. (Resident Evil 1, Rose Red)
B) An abandoned fancy hotel. (The Shining's "Overlook")
C) Something else suitably creepy and able to support scripted events and/or zombies.

Comments! Post! Now!

Edit: Oh yes, and...
GG Sony!

You can discuss that, too.