Sunday, June 21, 2009

That’s that then

Finally finished the Half-Life 2: Episode 2 Developer’s Commentary. After the previous episode’s commentary mode I decided to make a mapping of the sound track from that was included in Audio Surf, as I played through the game again. [Highlight to read the mapping]

  • Vortal Combat is the music with the Vorts fighting the antlions in the tunnels
  • Inhuman Frequency is when you and Alyx encounter Combine Advisor in the barn.
  • Sector Sweep is just after that when the soldiers come to kill you.
  • No One Rides for Free seems to be when you get the RADAR car.
  • Eon Trap seems to be the Ambush at White Forest Inn.
  • Abandoned In Place is when you are fighting the Combine at White Forest Base that Dr Magnussun thinks are crows.
  • Last Legs is the last wave of Striders in the final battle

Playing through the Commentary from Episode 1 took about half the time as playing through the game the first time.  Curiously though, playing through the E2 commentary took the same time as playing the game the first time around! I’m not quite sure what happened there, though the puzzles and combat were easier because I could predict what was going to happen, I suppose I spent more time playing with the level (physics, AI, etc.); and other game elements as you’ll see…

At times of intense combat when a song started playing I paused the game to listen to the music in peace so I could get a feel for the various elements in the game.  Then I spent maybe, five or so minutes running though the music on my laptop, trying to find the song that matches the music.  Sometimes I could narrow my guesses down to less then 3 songs based on the title and the contents of the game.  (For example, Vortal Combat matches the battle of the Antlions and the Vortigaunts).  Other times I had to listen to several songs to find the one.

Also, I noticed in this Episode there seemed to be more some commentary nodes, especially from the rather talented Merle Dandridge, whose commentary nodes were quite lengthy.  Which is really good, I quite enjoyed hearing her thought’s on the game and acting for a video game. (And so was Ellen McClain’s commentary in Portal)

So, the second time around was quite good (slightly annoying having to stop and map the music though), I’m sure I picked up some extra story elements and level design elements that I may have missed before. There were a couple of times when I anticipated particular battles ahead, and felt reluctant to continue (especially the last battle), just because I didn’t really feel like doing them again.  However they weren’t that long (I could always cheat anyway, I’d already finished (without cheating, the first time)), and it was good to redo the game to properly understand the commentary.  (And I got some neat screenies)

ep2_outland_10a0001 ep2_outland_120002

(Oh, I must add: surprisingly, even though I put the game on notarget mode, it was still was difficult to run over the hunters and take out the Striders in the last wave.  Props to VALVe for keeping the level still enjoyably-hard even while cheating…)

What’s next?



Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Oh, but I liked that…

About the only feature I miss that has actually been removed from Windows 7 (compared to Vista), has to be the Default Email and Internet links on the Start Menu. 


The main reason I liked this was that you could right click, say Internet and choose Internet Properties, which would take you to the aforementioned Control Panel item. 


The cool part was it even worked with other browsers, like Firefox:


Now the thing is, previously I thought that on Vista you couldn’t right click on the Start Menu, but that they had re-enabled right clicking the Start Menu.  However it seems that there is a setting to enable or disable that even in Vista.  Previously I was thinking, “Nice, they put back right clicking on the Start menu”.

Since discovering that you could use the Internet and Email items on the Start menu in this way, it has just made the removal of this feature in W7 that much worse.  Only because I thought it was cool.

Now I must add: I haven’t actually had much need for this feature, even on XP at work so to be honest I probably wouldn’t miss it.  The reason I particularly like this is that it integrates with alternative browsers not just I.E.  But so far this is the only thing about W7 that I miss (I know, I know, I don’t even use the feature) that doesn’t have much of a work around. (Yes, I know you can pin them, but that’s not the point….)