Uphill, Both Ways

In response to “Hooked” from The Escapist Forum: It really is a soothing game, there’s so much to explore and swim around it can put completionists off track, but then on a game where you are supposed to chill out and enjoy the ride it doesn’t really matter.

I remember when I was showing off this game to a group of friends, we usually gather up in a group of 5-ish and everyone plays a bit with anything we have access to, and one in the group wanted to try. Me and the other person who were interested in the game were having a blast on the first section of the game, until at last we couldn’t ignore the rest of the guys mocking the game for not getting what it was all about.

For a medium that’s supposed to take you anywhere you wish it sure needs to break some boundaries.


A lot of people don’t realize that the ocean, once you get far enough from our safe, familiar shores, is a friggin’ alien world full of creatures unlike anything you’ll find in the shallows, let alone on land. Lauren Admire’s “Science!” column has several times touched upon the strangeness you’ll find several thousand feet below the surface, and it would be awesome if a game like Endless Ocean gave us the option to peek at a virtual recreation of it.

The Rogue Wolf


In response to “Plant No Other Tree” from The Escapist Forum: I think that algorithms are definitely part of the process of reducing the time and costliness of creating 3D games. However, a warning against relying on them too much should be expressed.

SpeedTree isn’t perfect. I was playing Oblivion only the other day, and I know that one big flaw I see is that many of the trees, at least in Cyrodil, are tall and old. Very few are short, or new. You see these great oak forests which have little to no undergrowth.

When I see a fully generated rainforest, which I’ll recognise as realistic from my extensive experience of rainforests along Australia’s Eastern Coast, with all four strata of emergents, canopy, understory, and forest floor generated in a way that none of the trees clip over each other, interacting properly, then I’ll know that SpeedTree has done it. Until then, this system might be good for a start in making a nice forest, but I think that designers should tweak further than the process that SpeedTree provides.

What is especially exciting is that SpeedTree is only the tip of the iceberg. I expect that if the games industry knows what it’s doing, there will be fast design systems like these for character morality, buildings, factional alignment, updating, and saving. One day, imagine if these systems could update themselves across all the games that use them, empowering modders and possibly designers to patch new graphical effects and environmental interactions into old games. Now there is a tantalising prospect.


The trees in Oblivion were so good that for months, maybe even for years after playing it, looking at real trees or walking in a real park would make me think of Oblivion, and make me want to play it

However, ever since Oblivion, forests made with SpeedTree look about the same. I cant expect two trees of a single species to look different, that’s not what i’m saying, I’m saying that artists try to make imaginative settings with different character and object models, different environments and such, but to save time they put SpeedTree in the middle of all that and it does not fit. It looks like you ripped a forest from a different game and put it into yours, and its natural and realistic look clashes with your otherwise original fantasy or sci-fi design.

I don’t blame them for doing it, and it’s true that if you put a little effort into SpeedTree you can make it look original, like in the Shivering Isles expansion for Oblivion, and i haven’t even noticed that Dragon Age and Batman Arkham Asylum use SpeedTree. But you can also make great looking trees that sway in the wind without ST, take a look at Guild Wars pre-searing Ascalon, beautiful, natural looking trees that fit the setting perfectly…



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In response to “Slow Death In a Shady Glen” from The Escapist Forum: I’m most definitely getting this game as soon as my computer is fixed. I used to hunt things from time to time. It really can be an incredible experience, just you, and nature, very primordial. Except that you’ve got a gun, of course.

Still, this game sounds like it’ll capture that marvelously.

Good article. I felt myself tensing up at the part about the deer.



In response to “Garden of Brutality” from The Escapist Forum:

I remember showing this game to my girlfriend. She thought it was cute until I noticed that stupid bat creeping onto my property and bludgeoned it with the shovel, like I had done so many times before. She was horrified.

Later I showed her that I had recruited the bat to be a good pinata and live in peace with his fellows, and she called me a British colonialist.


Mentioned this before, and, will continue to do so every time a topic on Viva Pinata comes up…but, I had the misfortune of having a Sour Shellybean enter my garden, this was, around the time I had just started playing. So, working under the impression that the red and black Pinatas were the bad guys, I took decisive action.

So equipped with my shovel I beat the Shellybean several times, till it lay on the grass, gasping in it’s death throes. Then…before I made the final strike to end it all, the creature began to emit the most piteous, heart-wrenching wail. I got that awful feeling in my gut, eyes pricked with tears. I had done something monstrous. I tried desperately to do something, to fix the situation. But to no avail, the doctor would not come, after all, this was not one of my pinatas… In the end I did the only thing I could. I silenced it. Put it out of it’s misery with a single swing of my bladed implement.

Excellent article though!


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