Archive for the ‘update’ Category

Inside thoughts

August 12th, 2016 No comments


!!Contains spoilers for the game’s ending!!


I enjoyed Inside a lot. Much more than Limbo as I’m not a fan of die-and-retry; I comparatively died very few times in Inside and it rarely felt unfair.

Some moments I thought were amazing; the shock-waves sequence when you have to make your way around an unseen huge force that blasts across a stadium-like structure is simply awe-inducing. Both in its sense of space, its devastating effects and its foreboding mystery; WHAT could be exhaling such a destructive force? There’s also the encounter with the siren which is both eerie and creepy as hell and reminded me of a Twilight Zone episode. The moody forest, the bathyscaphe sequence, etc… There really are many cool moments in the game.

But –and this is where my main gripe lies- those moments appear in retrospect to be largely unconnected, to the point of seeming somewhat random. They’re cool, nice gameplay experiences but somehow I can’t see any clear relation to the rest of the game.

Which is why I have to say I enjoyed the journey much more than the destination: the ending is certainly a big WTF moment, but not the good kind in my book. It’s really well executed (genuinely impressive) but I didn’t find it satisfying by a long shot.

What started out as a dark poetic experience, a tale of a single individual pitted against an oppressive society, a symbol of anti-conformism reminiscent of “Le Roi et L’Oiseau”, ended up on a grotesque note that looked a bit too much like a middle finger to the players who cared about the game’s protagonist.

Which is all the more disappointing because it seems the entire game is a setup for a really subtle but poignant resolution which never really comes. The message about an oppressive society that uses mind control and slavery to artificially divide its citizens is a powerful one but it’s completely discarded by the end.

That being said I know how difficult it is to work on one game for several years; it’s sometimes hard to remain focused on what genuinely matters, story-wise. Because you often tend to concentrate on execution, rather than constantly making sure all the beats are still relevant to the overarching story. It’s not easy.

But once more I believe there are objective issues with Inside’s narration. Things that don’t particularly make sense. Why is the siren killing the boy each time he enters water except when it plugs something into him that suddenly lets him breathe underwater? Why is every adult trying to kill the boy in the first place? Why the worms at the beginning that seem to be the source of “mind control”, but then it turns out mind-control is done through electric contraptions? Why the masks on the people’s face (or lack thereof) at the beginning of the game, while the people at the end don’t wear any? What is causing the huge shock-waves that are so central to the game’s world? What does the fleshy blob have to do with any of this?

I’m not asking for everything to be neatly explained, but I’m expecting some kind of dots to be connectable once you take a step back. A sense that we actually had all the elements but couldn’t really see the big picture until the end. Those dots HAVE to be there.

Or else what you have is akin to contemporary art; a Rorschach test where people project their psyche. A situation where, as an artist, you don’t necessarily have to provide any explicit meaning; your audience (including reviewers) will come up with a discourse for you, a self-justifying theory that validates your every choice and discards anything that doesn’t fit through its prism.

To a certain extent I feel that’s a little what may have happened with Inside. Even though I don’t think this robs the game of its intrinsic virtues which are worthy of the utmost respect.

In closing let me repeat that I found Inside to be extremely slick, gorgeous to look at, very enjoyable to inhabit, but ultimately a little disappointing in its apparent lack of follow-through with its theme(s). And as a result the ending was unsatisfying to me from an emotional point of view.

Yet I’m deeply grateful to Playdead for Inside and I remain forever in absolute admiration of its excellent visuals and elegant design.


Categories: Opinion, update Tags:

Current editor issues in Unity 5

April 3rd, 2015 17 comments


First, let me make something clear: I love Unity. I use it every day and it allows me to build my dream game. So don’t take anything I’m about to say as “oh you just don’t like Unity”. I love it to bits; it’s a fantastic tool.

Now that this caveat is out of the way, let’s dig into things which, from my point of view, ought to be addressed. Keep in mind that I spend an ungodly amount of time using Unity to create Ghost of a Tale. So anything that breaks my workflow is really frustrating to me.

As you’ll see those issues are mostly geared towards ergonomic and manipulation of game objects in the editor. To be fair, they don’t strike newcomers; they only become a hindrance for experienced users who rely on every little thing to make their development life easier.

Still, I don’t think that should detract from their pertinence. So here they are, in no particular order:


1) No lateral slider in hierarchy window:

If you need to dig into a complex hierarchy of game objects, you actually have to resize Unity’s window layout. Try to imagine Maya without a lateral slider in its outliner and you get the idea.


2) No drag-and-drop component reordering:

You can click and drag a component directly from one game object (in the inspector) to another game object (in the hierarchy window), but you can’t simply click-and-drag a component up or down on the same game object.

This means tediously clicking dozens of times just to move a newly added component to the top of a long components list.


3) No way to make an object unselectable in the scene view:

In any 3D application it is very important to see some items while not being able to interact with them by mistake. We need a way to mark some game objects as visible but unselectable in the scene view (while still being able to select them in the hierarchy of course).


4) Lack of true labeling system:

There’s no proper labeling system in Unity. Only tags. And only one tag per game object. No way to tell an item it is “Ground”, “Rock”, “Cold”. It can only be one thing.

That’s a big limitation. Being able to set and get game objects’ labels would be a tremendous advantage for development and gameplay purposes.


5) Base selection is not working:

[BaseSelection] is a simple line of code you can add within a component script to make a group (a hierarchy of game objects) behave like a prefab.

It’s super useful as not everything can be one unique prefab; sometimes you want an empty game object housing a couple of prefabs without actually turning the whole thing into a prefab.

So adding that line makes clicking anything in that group select the root node; same behavior as a prefab without actually being a prefab! Super cool stuff.

Except it’s broken. Basically it only behaves as expected during game mode. But if there are prefabs within the group then it doesn’t work outside of game mode (which defeats the purpose).


6) Number appended at the end of a duplicated game object:

This is kind of a recent behavior in Unity. At first I thought of it as a mere annoyance; Unity started renaming copies of duplicated game objects (prefabs or not) by appending a number to the copies’ name.

One thing to know: in Unity it’s never a good idea to rename a prefab in the scene. It’s perfectly possible, but not very wise.

Because if you do, then you’re never quite sure of which was the original prefab’s name. So you need to click on Select to select the prefab on disk to be certain that it’s the right one. Quite cumbersome.

And now, since Unity adds numbers to the name of a duplicated prefab, if you hit “Apply” on that prefab copy, the original prefab (the one on the disk, without the number in the name) will be affected. Without being renamed of course.

And once again renaming prefabs in the hierarchy and “unpairing” them from their original name is asking for trouble. I think this was implemented thinking it would help the user but that’s just not the case. There should at least be a way of opting out of this automatic behavior.

Update: I have stopped worrying and learned to love the numbers-at-the-end. More seriously Unity now uses “(1)” whenever you duplicate a game object and at least it visually stands out. The discrepancy between the original prefab name and the object name remains, but I guess I can live with it.


7) Game objects jumping places in the hierarchy:

Unity fairly recently introduced a new concept of hierarchy sorting, which is really neat. Basically, things are not sorted out by alphabetical order anymore. It means a game object stays where you put it in the scene’s hierarchy.

As I said, really neat. Except it’s still not working properly. Game objects (mainly prefabs) keep changing places when you save a scene, close Unity and reopen it. Which is tedious when you do this often.

Edit: I’ve now changed my way of working to bypass that bug and I don’t use prefabs at the scene’s root level anymore. So I don’t deal with that annoyance anymore.


8) Scene camera teleporting while Unity loads textures:

When moving through the scene view Unity will freeze once in a while to load up textures when a mesh with new textures enters frustum. Which is perfectly understandable.

The real problem though, is that the WASD + right-click input detection of the scene camera does not get notified of the freeze. Meaning that if the texture takes a second to load, then -when you get control back- your camera has actually teleported way away in the last direction before the freeze happened. Just as if you had kept moving at full speed in that direction for a second.

This aggravation would be gone if the editor’s movement input routine would just get suspended while the editor loads the new textures and until actual control is given back to the user.


9) No way to get the members of a layer:

A command like FindGameObjectsWithinLayers() would be extremely useful as there is currently no way to get the list of gameObjects contained within a layer. Which forces us to rely exclusively on using FindGameObjectsWithTags (cf. point 4 for limitations of the Tag system).

(Edit: I’m aware of the solution proposed here but while it does eventually let you find the members of a layer by recursively iterating through every game object in the scene and checking if their layer is the one you’re interested in, it can’t really be considered an efficient solution)


10) No way to access inactive game objects via code in an editor tool:

Let’s say you have deactivated game objects in your scene, at root level, and you want to access them via code for an editor-only tool? That’s not possible.

You could of course list all the game objects in the scene and find out which ones do not have a parent and are inactive, but that means you then have to manually filter internal Unity objects corresponding to that criteria by name like “” (whatever that one is!), “PreviewMaterials”, “HandlesGO”, etc… And that is a really dirty and dangerous way to do things. Especially when the goal is to manipulate (or even destroy) those objects.

There is a need for a command (or a flag) to find deactivated game objects (at least in the editor if not in-game).

Edit: There is actually an undocumented command called HierarchyProperty(HierarchyType.GameObjects) which will return a list of hierarchy-only objects including inactive game objects (as mentioned here: Thanks to Thomas for the heads up!


Finally, please let me know if you can think of anything else or if you’re aware of a way to bypass any of those limitations.

And if I’m actually wrong about any of those points, do let me know! My goal is not to crack down on Unity but rather to streamline my workflow; so if any of these can be taken off the list I’m more than glad to do it! :)

Categories: Unity, update Tags:

Thoughts about The Last of Us

September 21st, 2013 No comments


Spoiler Warning: This post discusses the game’s ending!!!

I finished The Last of Us a couple of months ago and I have to say the production values are way up there; this is excellent work in every department!

But I want to talk a little about the ending. You see, what happened while I was playing it is that I died (like I did many times during the course of the game), but the way that cut-scene was longer than the others and very well staged, I thought it was the REAL ending.

And I was floored. It totally worked for me. Joel was carrying an unconscious Ellie, desperately looking for a door that would lead them outside to freedom. But the armed guards were close behind them; I could hear their voices. The desperation of Joel was palpable, the tension so high. Until finally the guards caught up top to Joel and threw him to the ground. It was chaotic; Joel was thrashing, shouting through his tears for the guards not to take Ellie away. And then one of the guards put his gun to Joel’s head. The gunshot sound boomed and the screen went dark. It was over.

I was speechless. It was a perfect ending in my opinion; Joel stayed true to himself until the end. He wanted to save Ellie, but also to keep her for himself. For very understandable selfish reasons. It was a desperate gesture but it made sense. While the armed forces were too much for him; there was no doubt in my mind that they would manage to stop Joel and snatch Ellie. The odds were too much. Yes, the two protagonists had died, but humanity stood a chance, thanks to Ellie’s sacrifice. Dark. Tragic. Yet also hopeful.

But I guess it’s a little like Blade Runner’s “true” ending; it was probably too much to stomach for people and instead Joel makes it out and his (and Ellie’s) life goes on. Not the ending I would have chosen. Still, that’s one utterly brilliant game.

Categories: rant, update Tags:

Thoughts about Bioshock Infinite

September 21st, 2013 2 comments


Spoiler Warning: This post talks about Bioshock Infinite and might contain spoilers.

So recently I finished playing “Bioshock Infinite”. My first thought was: my god, what passes for “deep storytelling” in video games nowadays.

In my opinion this scenario is a bungled mess of a story full of contrived, preposterous twists and an overly complicated narrative about unexplained motivations. I mean ANYBODY can write an absurdly knotty story full of confusingly interrelated parts. It doesn’t make it a good story.

That THIS is lauded as a potential game of the year and praised for its supposedly amazing storytelling is frankly beyond me. A friend of mine wisely noted that the threshold for writing in games is extremely low. And the writing level of Bioshock Infinite would pass for a mediocre novel. But slap it onto a video-game and suddenly gamers are gushing about a masterpiece.

I could try and pick up one by one all the pieces of the story that do not make sense or rather only make sense in the writers’ minds because they thought it up in the first place. I could point out the contradictory motivations, the lack of genuine emotion… But I won’t, because it would be a little akin to laughing at an Alzheimer patient because he can’t remember stuff.

I feel this problem will go on as long as gamers (and gaming journalists) mistake complexity for richness. I KNOW video games have long lived a very healthy life without anything resembling a satisfying story. But come on. The quality of writing really needs to improve. Or does it? Let’s be honest here; if good writing was a necessary component of games we wouldn’t have those kind of issues anymore. But still. I’m hoping for better days.

So in the end what’s left of Bioshock Infinite are some very nice visual moments and some pseudo-philosophical attempts at making you believe there is profundity at the core of its story.

Categories: rant, update Tags:


May 6th, 2013 3 comments

This is incredible, guys! Indiegogo has just pushed back the deadline for the “Ghost of a Tale” campaign by one week in order to help it reach its goal!

This is absolutely amazing! I don’t know if you realize but something like that NEVER HAPPENS!!!

It’s worth all the Crystal Crabs in the world! :)

Categories: "Ghost of a Tale", campaign, update Tags:

Character Sneak Peek: Frog

April 29th, 2013 No comments

So you thought the only “life” form on the Island of Periclave was the undead garrison of the Rat King? Think again… :)

The island is located in the middle of the great Lake Vaelias and the frogs have lived there for a very long time, despising the wars of the Hairy Ones with all their disgusting ears and tails.

When the rats built their citadel the frogs were driven back to their underwater caves and temple. But now… Now something has happened on the island.

… But, well, all this won’t matter if the campaign for “Ghost of a Tale” doesn’t reach its goal of course.

Categories: "Ghost of a Tale", campaign, Unity, update Tags:

Character Sneak Peek: Undead Rat

April 22nd, 2013 1 comment

Here’s a better look at one of the undead rats. This is one of the more heavily armored ones. They’re not very fast, but when they do hit you they can kill you with one blow. Compared to your small mousy self they are towering giants.

(Incidentally, this is the pose used for the figurine available on the campaign page)

Categories: "Ghost of a Tale", Unity, update Tags: