Have you ever had one of those moments where a strain of music flits quietly into your brain, from seemingly nowhere? It arrives as a welcome surprise and then gently lingers, sculpting your mood as your mind languidly tries to identify it. As often as not, the answer escapes, with the music not far behind.
Fortunately, in this case, I managed to identify what I was thinking of: the Assassin's Creed 2 soundtrack. Yes, vidja game moosic!
Quick Around The World update to prove that I'm still working on it: I had to rewrite my Ocean shader after (a) the original file went missing thanks to a backup snafu, and (b) I wanted to modify it so that the water background (the fuzzy blues behind the continents) actually pans correctly when you zoom in. Yes, I'm mostly working on cosmetic stuff, streamlining, and bug fixes at this point. A finalized beta and playtesting are just on the horizon!
That said, check this out:
I haven't seen an adventure game this beautiful to behold since Curse of Monkey Island. It's going for about $30 on Steam right now, and I think the world would be a sad place indeed if we all didn't admire the artwork and maybe throw a few bucks the developer's way before they all starve to death.
I am furiously looking for my NOLF CDs. Why? Because I've given myself the unstoppable urge to replay it, and maybe it can break my MW2 addiction. And also because one of the CDs is for the game's original soundtrack, which is amazing and will keep me company on my lonely drive back to Rhode Island this weekend.
Yes, Monolith, F.E.A.R. is pretty good and you've got this whole Japanese horror thing down pat, I guess. And I admire your commitment to this franchise, but The Ring came out seven Goddamn years ago, so can we drop the scary-schoolgirl obsession and return to No One Lives Forever? Please?
I know pining for one favorite franchise over another franchise reeks of hypocrisy, but bear with me.
Even though I'm still slowly working my way through its predecessor, merely posting about The Curse of Monkey Island put me in the mood to take it for another spin down memory lane.
I reinstalled the game on my development laptop and, for kicks, I just started the game normally, without any emulation. Vista booted the game without a fuss and I began playing. However, it crashed the moment I tried talking to Wally. Well, what did I expect? The game was made for Windows 95, after all.
But I already knew the solution. I quickly scampered over to the website of ScummVM, a charming little emulator and GUI that supports a ton of old LucasArts games. I've known about ScummVM for quite some time, but this was the first time I peaked under its hood while trying to get COMI to work.
Amongst the issues that ScummVM handles and the features it advertises are some graphical upgrades. COMI has gorgeous hand-drawn-and-painted art, but it was originally created to run at 640x480. Turns out that ScummVM has plenty of anti-aliasing and upscaling options to help that out. I've only begun to fiddle with the settings, but I've already discovered that once AA and upscaling is enabled, the backgrounds look flat out amazing at modern screen resolutions. The characters themselves (which are drawn with hard lines to contrast against the backgrounds) look a little "meh", but it's a worthwhile tradeoff. There's no real solution for running an old 4:3 game in 16:9 widescreen, but that's to be expected.
So, for those of you who wish to revisit these old classics and pump up the graphical fidelity, please check out ScummVM.
My roommate, Eric, made the mistake of saying something irreverent (and maybe even irrelevant) about Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire a few days ago. Despite the fleeting casual-ness of the comment, I leapt into action, desperate to find a copy.
Three days later and I find myself 7 missions in, just as enamored of it as I was the first time I played it.
Although I have a tendency to chide Nintendo for trotting out its mascots over and over and over again until you think you're witnessing Mario & co. appearing in something akin to terrorist hostage videos, nostalgia is a powerful, powerful force. Everyone is nostalgic for different things.
Me? SOMI was one of the first games I ever played, in its 16-color 3.5" disk variation way back in 1990. Long before I could take advantage of the intertubes or, y'know, a slightly more developed brain, I would huddle in front of the ole Windows 3.1 Packard Bell and try to figure out Ron Gilbert's clever puzzles and laugh at the absurd dialogue. I think I was held up in Part One for roughly three or four months until a friend realized how to solve the Fettucini Brothers puzzle.
Seeing and reliving all this with flashy new graphics, voice acting from the superb Curse of Monkey Island cast, and fully orchestrated music is like seeing an old friend after many years of separation. Or rather, rereading a treasured book, as I'm basically solving all the puzzles from memory at this point.
I'm hoping this will prove a cash cow for LucasArts and a return to their '90s roots, so bring on the rest of the Monkey Island series! Except for Escape. Man, fuckEscape.