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GladOS Has a Word with Namibia…

Just caught word of this, and instantly knew what the bigger picture was.  A metallic ball has dropped from the sky causing nearly a twelve foot wide crater in Namibia, Africa.  Clearly is came from fairly high up to cause a dent in the earth that big.

Rather, it came from somewhere *very* high up.  It was reportedly made from an “alloy unknown to man” that appears to be a sphere that was welded together from two identical pieces.

This leads to only one possible conclusion.



Minecraft Monday: For the Good of All Of Us – Minecraft Companion Cube!

“…except the ones who are dead.” (Go on, admit it, you were singing the song in your head!)  Since that certain Apoco-lapse of judgement failed to deliver on its ‘expectations’, a great deal of us remain healthy and alive.  Thus we are ready…

Companion Cube A La Minecraft!
Piggeh Approved Companion Cube


After like a week or so, it’s done!  Technically it was done last week, but I had all this messy dirt about and I was having none of that!  None for pictures, I say!  Cleared that all out, got rid of the scaffolding and dirt walls keeping us penned in and safe, and now it’s LIVE, baby! 

Been wanting to make one of these in a game for awhile now, and what better game than Minecraft?  (If I was keeping track, this badboy alone would put my Indie-Geek cred through the roof.  Minecraft and Portal?  Straight from Friendly to Exalted, no questions asked ^_^)  Doc’d up a suitable rendition of it on single player (started out with the heart shape and worked out from there, to be honest XD) and this is what I ended up with!  With a few noodle-scratchers I figured out how to make it look good from all angles, and I’d have to say this is probably my first 3d ‘sculpture’ build in Minecraft.  (Zee Cloud Cutter was  technically dimensional, but still flat.  I’m movin’ on up!)

End result was huuuge quantities of snow (takes four snowballs to make one block, and it took more than a chestful of stacks), smooth stone, coal to make said smooth stone, and more than a handful of hours first spent hunting red flowers than farming sheep to get what I needed.  (Something like 8 stacks of pink wool)  Originally this was supposed to be our house… but that’s too dull for my tastes!  I thought we could spruce it up a little -_^

But enough details, how’s about a tour?  “Tour?” You ask?  Oh aye, this isn’t just something you admire from afar. Nay!  This is something you explore!  (Really wanted to get this on video but the PCs don’t have enough umph to pull it off without dipping into single digits on the frames per second ‘o-meter.  But I took plenty of snappies to accommodate.  Hee hee, “snappies.” Bioshock reference, ftw.)

Welcome to the Enrichment Center

Starting out on my journey, I see that there are several signs upon the entrance in one of the lower corners of the building.

Welcome Test Subject or random passer-by.

We have a few tests to get through today, sound good?

As the invisible lasers will kill you if you try to leave…

I’ll assume you said “Yes.”    Excellent!

Welcome to Aperture Industries!

If you thought Black Mesa was science… Ha!

We at Aperture know science. We’ll science your BRAIN out.

Here comes the tests.  If you made it this far, great!

At least we know that you know your way around

an invisible laser.  So there’s that.

I was then instructed to climb up a “Horizontal Lattice Vertical Propulsion Device” (which looks a lot like an ordinary ladder) into…

Test Chamber 01

Minecraft: Portal - Test Chamber 01

After a minor inspection I noticed that the block above is supposed to be placed on the Big Red Button to open the door, as the wire leads directly to it, after all.  (Note: While we did have a few ideas for actual, functional test chambers, getting them all to fit into this over-all structure was… not practical.  We went with more of a adventure/Aperture Museum of sorts ^_^)  Solving this simple puzzle, I make my way into…

Test Chamber 02

Minecraft: Portal - Test Chamber 02

Ooo, upping the ante, are we?  Now we are treated with portals upon a wall, the storage cube behind us, and the Big Red Button on the other side.  Taking what I learned previously, I take the cube through the portals, and place it on the button, opening access to… what’s this?

Minecraft: Portal - Test Chamber 02z

An Excursion Funnel leads the way up to the next chamber.  After a quick ‘swim’ upwards through the tunnel, you can clearly see…

Test Chamber 03: Hardlight Surfaces

Minecraft: Portal - Test Chamber 03 Hardlight Surfaces

Now isn’t that a peculiar sight! Jogging my way up the patented Aperture brand Panels and across the other side, I barely even notice the nearly garbled scrallings apparently carved into the very wall of the Test Chamber near the exit.

Minecraft: Portal - Ratman Warning

Test Chamber 04: The Cake Bake Dive

Minecraft: Portal - Test Chamber 04 The Cake Bake Dive

Delicious and moist.

imple room, in’nit?  No exits, just one portal and it looks like we need to jump straight down.  Are they tryin’ to kill me?!  Hmm. Well there is cake down there… but what’s that across the room?

Minecraft: Portal - Ratman Trail

Hmm.  That drop could very well kill me, and since there is no other place to go… I’ll give it a shot.  I follow the trail and check it out, figuring that I could come right back if I start getting directionally challenged…

The Escape 

Minecraft: Portal - Ratman Cometh

Following the signs, I listen to their helpful suggestions out of this malicious place.  On my brisk travel through the decrepit back halls of the building, I wove my way though mostly impassable sections of debris until I came upon this rather serene locale.  It almost appeared as a shrine the person guiding me via signs constructed for… a block? 

Minecraft: Portal - Ratman Companion Block Shrine

Poor sap must have lost his mind back here.

Rooftop Retreat

Minecraft: Portal - Rooftop Exit

After a while I found myself on the roof of the building, “A dirty handprint” leading the way into another opening ahead of me.  As I wind down the jagged steps, I am able to ascend a platform that allows me to peer down at the test chambers below. 

Minecraft: Portal - The Cake WAS A Lie!

That really was a plot to have me killed!  Forget this place!

Minecraft: Portal - Goin' Down

I continue down the ragged path, keeping an eye out for any markings or suggestions from my silent and disembodied friend.

Minecraft: Portal - Nebacular Drop and a Half

I was forced to navigate several hazardous jumps until my surroundings changed from antiquated metal to gravel and dirt.  It wasn’t long after that I came upon possibly the most dangerous of all jumps I had yet encountered.

Minecraft: Portal - Watch Your Step

While helpful in its suggestion, it did little to assuage me fear of heights. And death. Not exactly in that order, either.  I leapt across, cursing all the way, and thankfully landed on the other side.  Making my way up a hand-carved stairway, I spotted one final sign, wishing me luck and sending me on my way.

Minecraft: Portal - Almost Free

Shortly after I was back on the surface, free of that tyrannical place and it’s fangled contraptions.  I shall never forget my time spent in that building, nor will I likely ever return.

Minecraft: Portal - Companion Cube'd

Hope that wasn’t too melodramatic XD  I’ll have you know, there are (barring death, of course) thee exits to the building. Can’t say where the other two are, as that ruins the surprise ^_^

Spent quite awhile getting these all set up and described on flickr, and only then did I realise I am actually missing stuff hahaha  The in-between little bits on the middle section of the cube on every side have yet to be placed lmao  Well, I’ll go back and get them in a bit. Anyway, here’s a shot of the cube from the Misses’ wooden balcony.

Minecraft: Portal - Companion Cube from Afar

I love how it nearly dwarfs out everything in comparison.  Oh, and that sheared sheep down there was actually covered in pink wool.  That’s the third or fourth one I came upon during my Sheep-dying rampage to net me enough stacks to complete this creation.

Minecraft News

1.6 will likely be this week Wednesday, possibly Thursday or Friday if there is a delay. But it’s this week! Also, the ‘Anti-Nether’ is on its way, my friends!  Last week, Notch posted a few shots of a floating universe he had an idea for in Minecraft, and he stated, as PC Gamer apparently loved the idea so much, that it was officially confirmed.  (Though, I wonder if this was his shot at the mod The Aether?)

He just updated his blog with a huge list of bug fixes. You can take a gander at them here on his blog, but these are a few that caught my attention:

  • Fixed fire hurting through wall corners
  • Mushrooms now spreads (very) slowly
  • It’s no longer possible to build solid blocks on the top layer of the maps (sorry!)
  • Severely nerfed fire so it spread slower, and doesn’t spread infinitely
    Seeds are now found in tall grass, using a hoe on the ground no longer works
  • Blocks destroyed by other players in multiplayer now shows the breaking block particle effect
  • Fixed buttons and levers too close to the player being impossible to use
  • Fixed furnaces and dispensers not dropping their contents when destroyed
  • Fixed rain falling through liquids
  • Fixed fences and signs preventing grass from growing
  • Fixed the achievement screen not pausing the game
  • Fixed chat messages surviving through game switches
  • Fixed ice so it regenerates regardless of whether it’s snowing or not
  • Fixed animals only spawning near light during the night

Till next week, my friends!  Hopefully I get to penning that In-depth Portal 2 review with this in mind.  Either way, I leave you with a collaboration of Still Alive that the Misses was lucky enough to be a member of!  Not gonna say who, but she’s in there somewhere ^_^


Portal 2: A Reaction From A Dangerous, Mute, Lunatic

H’okey dokey! (Spoiler free, by the way) The Misses went and rented Portal 2 for me the other day, and I am proud to say that I beat the snot out of it!  As I played the game I noticed things, both good and bad, but I wanted to go back and check over the developer commentary option as it added a great deal of information to the original Portal game.  Doing so would also help me potentially see a clue I missed, or similar hidden area of the game I glossed over along my path to completion.

The Bad

I want to get the bad out-of-the-way first, as if I don’t, this critique’ll likely get long, mumbly-jumbly, and have this, well, negative vibe to it.  I wanna keep it light and save my rantings for a possible In-Depth post to follow this one.  Again, most of the game is very well done; top-notch stuff.  That said…

The game needed more polish-time in the coding department, mostly the second and third sections of the game.

Quite a few times something went wrong in the game that was neither my nor the game’s fault.  Just something went wrong, bugged out, and I died because of it.  In one case I jumped on a box I placed on a catwalk that randomly launched me far away before the screen faded to black. I only knew for sure that it killed me when I noticed that the level restarted. 

In another example, I did precisely what the game wanted me to do to solve the puzzle, yet I died.  This set me back at least a half-hour (likely double) as I started concocting deeply laid plans and ideas on how to best the challenge and realign the same cogs I started out with.  After a long while of experimenting and staring at what the level was telling me, I realised I was way beyond over-thinking the puzzle, and figured something must have went wrong my initial attempt.  I did it again, only the second time it worked.

Sadly, the portal related issues from the first game have not been addressed for the sequel.  I actually think the issue was more or less hidden under the rug than actually fixed as the game was sure to avoid the same types of puzzles that made it so noticeable in the original.  I’m talkin’ ’bout the “jump in first portal, get sent out upside down the second” that causes a nearly nauseating flip-flop of the camera every two seconds.  (Generally this only happens when you need to fly into both portals to gain momentum and fire off another portal while airborne to go flying out of next.  –Making this a double-whammy.) When the screen is constantly flopping around it is difficult to properly aim, to say the least. 

So yes. That still needs fixing.

As it is getting a bit long, to wrap up The Bad, repetition started to nag the end of the game, and the Developer Commentary needed a LOT of work, making the whole aspect look like a flimsy add-on.  The original commentary was awesome; this time I found myself explaining aloud what Valve did and why they had to do it in such a way more than they did.  Some levels didn’t even have sound clips, while almost all only had one.  One.  One clip every twenty minutes or so?  Weak.

The Good

It is hard to say without spoilers, but I will mention that the first third of the game is a clear above-and-beyond presentation than the latter two.  There is a point where you can actually get an achievement for doing something that I think marks the high-point of the game, and actually for that matter there is another achievement that marks the lower part, but that’s another topic!

The comedy is going to be promoted by everyone who plays the game, and I really did enjoy it.  Again, this dips quite a bit later on, but the game is always kept cheerful and spiced by bits of comedy.  I recently talked about this in comparison to Brutal Legend, and how I described it is, while Brutal was very fun early on and tapered off, Portal 2 keeps it at a steady pace.  Brutal is for deep laughs every few, while Portal 2 is a chuckle a minute sort of deal.  And without spoiling anything, you are going to love Wheatley.

“Just say ‘Apple.’  ‘Apple.’ “

There are a lot of similarities to Half Life 2 in this game, in particular there is a bit with a flashlight that will remind you of Alyx and a dark, zombie-filled tunnel in no time.

The ‘Rat Dens’ or Rat Man areas in the game are welcomed back, and some are hidden very well!  I counted at least four, but I’m sure I might have missed one or two along the way.  Adding onto that, there is one detail within a certain… scientific display about a potato that I thought was awesome.

By far, Portal 2 is a great game.  I am actually typing this as positively as I can, as I know I can mention the little nit-picky things that get to me and make it sound like I loathe something when I’m just listing the things that they could have done better, so I’m going out of my way to say:  This game is great, and if all you can do is rent it or play it at a friends house, do so!  I’m rating this one as a Rental, but a full week rental ^_^  I did not spend any time on the multiplayer aspect, even if I wanted to the Playstation Network is still down, so if you got friends or working internet, you’ll probably enjoy this one even more than I!


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