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A gaming and technology blog by TWHL admins Penguinboy and Ant. A music blog by TWHL users Ant and Hugh.

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avatar Shepard62700FR 12 comments | 18th February 2016, 21:29 PM

TL;DR

Don't waste your money on this, it's the worst HL2 mod I've ever played.

Long version

Here's my review of the newly released Prospekt.

For those who don't know what Prospekt is, it's a fan made suite of Half-Life Opposing Force whose author decided to send to Valve along with his C.V. to get hired. The author wasn't accepted but Gabe liked the mod so Valve ended up helping him and ended up being a paid HL2 mod after buying the licenses. Now on to the review.

My first disappointment is going to be the level design. I expected the maps to reach the same quality HL2 had or even HL2:EP2. I think I good portion of the maps could be recreated within GoldSource with "env_model" and sometimes there are no "clue" or "hint" to guide the player. For example, you arrive at an area where you have to press a button, then you have have an infinite antlion spawning behind your ass and you end up wasting 3/4 of your ammo before running everywhere and finding out you have to play Super Mario Bros to reach a ventilation shaft.

Second disappointment is the gameplay, you just run, shoot a lot of Combines, solve puzzles, listen to Shephard's flashbacks, repeat. There are very few variety in enemies, 98% of Combine, 2% of Headcrab, zombies, antlions. I was playing in Hard but I had to go down to Easy because the mod's author had the "great" idea of giving twice health to NPCs and not a little bonus for yourself. Seriously, emptying a clip of pistol in a Combine's head don't kill him on Hard. And speaking of weapons, the only arsenal you have is the standard HL2 weaponry without some weapons like the crossbow and RPG. I've finished the game (almost by speed-running) in almost 2 hours so I expect professional speed-runners finishing it in 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Third disappointment is the story, you are told at the beginning to help Freeman stuck in Nova Prospekt and you just hear some Shephard's flashbacks of his story before he get involved in the Black Mesa incident, that's all. Where is the powerful narrative element that we all loved in Half-Life ? There is none. There isn't a single friendly NPC.

Fourth disappointment concern technical aspects, I've already tried to validate the game cache and all but it seems that when you run the game on Low settings, you get the magnificent black/purple texture of Source, and let's not forgot how my eyes just bleed when looking at the game files.

I tried to find positive things to note but I didn't found any. Prospekt is just a paid map pack and a huge disappointment for those who liked Adrian Shephard and wanted to have a good time with him.

avatar Dr. Orange 7 comments | 18th February 2016, 14:26 PM

x=x-1 -> 172+-832/4298+x=y-998289=98813+x-y+7 99+x-y=2x-87

It's my birthday

avatar DiscoStu 8 comments | 17th February 2016, 18:02 PM

I noticed I had a bunch of Steam trading cards, which by themselves are completely useless. Some time ago I put a few on the market and made a whopping $0.22, so I thought, why not selling ALL of them? Maybe it'll add up enough to get me a new game. After all they're completely useless otherwise.

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Wait, what? Maybe do it from the market page.

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Fuck you too, Steam.

avatar Tetsu0 14 comments | 10th February 2016, 23:37 PM

So i made an impulse purchase a few days ago. I bought a $65 windows 8.1 touchscreen tablet pc that came with a bluetooth keyboard.
it ran half life ok but playing with your finger sucks... bought myself a cheapo bluetooth mouse and voila! i can map and play half life anywhere i want :D

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avatar DoctorAmazing 2 comments | 7th February 2016, 19:31 PM

So I played a mod called Blue Portals, for Portal 1.

It had a pretty novel concept, where you can only directly control the blue portals with your portal gun, hence the title, with the orange portal locations being determined by the map.

From a technical perspective, it was VERY well put together, with almost Portal 2 levels of polish, and it actually came with some new features that are reminiscent of mechanics shown in P2, despite Blue Portals coming out a year before P2.

What really lets this mod down however is it's extremely frustrating and punishing design. Many puzzles are actually quite simple, but they often throw in split second reflex segments, and many times, the place where you need to put a portal to proceed in the game will look like a place where you cannot put a portal (IE a darkened or black part of a wall). Along with this, where you are able to put a portal is incredibly inconsistent, with large white walls that you swear you'd be able to put portals on, simply not let you put a blue portal on them. All of this culminates to Chamber 10, which is on a time limit, and pulls all of the worst aspects of this mod into one, with the time limit to boot. I had to cheat to get past many parts of this chamber, because I pretty much had no patience for this mod at this point.

Another massive issue with this mod is that I ran into multiple game breaking bugs, where if I didn't cheat, I literally wouldn't of been able to progress in the mod. I checked with video tutorials on YouTube, and yes, these were not meant to happen and there would be no way to get out of it. I think at least 3 or 4 of them would trigger every time I tried to do something, even if I loaded an earlier save.
Two of these in particular are unexcusable. In one chamber, you are introduced to the Fire and Ice cubes, with the Fire cubes destroying the ice cubes. To show you this, they had a Fire cube drop onto an Ice cube holding down a button that kept the door in front of you closed.
However, the Fire cube did absolutely nothing to the ice cube (I tried this multiple times), so I would've been stuck behind the door if I didn't noclip.
Then, right in the next room, after I completed the first part of a split second reflex puzzle, the orange portal completely dissapeared, rendering it uncompleteable if not for, you guessed it, noclip.

After seeing high praise for this mod, I really wanted to like it. But after playing it, I think that people are blinded by the production values to realize that the design of this mod in many places is frustrating and straight up not fun.
I did not enjoy playing this mod, and I didn't gain anything from it, making it a waste of my time.

avatar zeeba-G 12 comments | 2nd February 2016, 00:09 AM

27! What what.

avatar DoctorAmazing 11 comments | 1st February 2016, 18:06 PM

For those of you who were in the HL community in 2004: How much of a game changer was it to the community? And what was the communities general reaction to it? I was too young to really remember this, yet alone even play HL2 until about 2008. I'd love to hear your guys thoughts on it circa 2004.

avatar Penguinboy 16 comments | 29th January 2016, 10:26 AM

Gather round and let me tell you a story. It's a story of hope and despair, sadness and enlightenment, desperation and joy, life and death. It's a story of my computer upgrade.

It all started towards the end of last year. Lots of people on TWHL were getting new graphics cards, and I was starting to think that it might be a good idea. Ant bought some Mac thing for twice the retail price so he could play all those mac games that exist, and Strider bought something ridiculously overpriced so he could play games from the 90's. Archie has had a crazy GPU for a while but he's just rubbing it in our faces with his fancy new screens. Other regulars in the upgrade club include notable pillars of our community such as DoctorAmazing, TawnosPrime, and Jessie.

So I thought: enough is enough! I will no longer be a spectator, I must take action! And action I took. I went to my local internet providing mechanism (my work computer) and ordered myself an upgrade with intense focus and concentration. The upgrade in question? It was none other than an Nvidia GTX 970 with 4GB RAM, 400mb of drivers, support for VR, Shadowplay, built-in toaster, plus I opted for the Roomba attachment and extra fries on the side.

My boss has a parking spot at work, so I knocked him out by giving him a light tap on the head with a ball-peen hammer and grabbed his keys and escaped before somebody could initiate a safety share about getting hammered in the workplace. As I swerved my way over to the computer store (I've been playing GTA recently so I couldn't remember which lane to drive in), I imagined all the incredible things I could do with my new graphics card. I could increase the draw distance in GTA V by 10%! Play Rainbow Six Siege in slightly higher detail than potato mode! Experience Half-Life in a graphical fidelity that's never before been possible! I was so excited that I almost ran over a particularly wide person on the footpath, but fortunately I managed to avoid them with only a small amount of collateral damage.

The gentleman that served me at the store had an incredibly impressive afro. I'm talking big, puffy, and really tall. His hair was larger than the rest of his head. This afro was hypnotising in its puffy majesty. I stood there staring for about 10 minutes while he was trying to serve me. Eventually I managed to exchange an impressive sum of Australian dollarey-doos for a chunk of plastic and steel that a Chinese dude made for ten bucks. I asked the guy for a lock of hair to remember his afro by, but he refused. I left empty handed, but that hair will forever be etched in my mind and I will compare all future hair to that noble image.

After dreaming about my new graphics card on the train home, I finally managed to walk through my front door and get ready for upgrading procedures. I took all the standard precautions, of course: take off pants, put computer on fuzzy carpet, don't bother unplugging the power because honestly who bothers with that nonsense. I was under my desk without much light so I put my phone into flashlight mode and balanced it awkwardly on the edge of the case.

After unplugging a few cords running over the old card, I was able to yank it out with only a little bit of brute force. A few things snapped but they probably weren't very important. The new card was jet black and reminded me of a super sleek racing car, if a racing car could be installed in a PCIe slot. I carefully jammed it into said slot and reconnected the power and whatever else was lying around that looked like it would fit into something. I stood the computer back up and pressed the magic button.

I grinned when I saw my motherboard's BIOS screen flash up. The GPU was working! The grin lasted about 5 seconds before it turned into a slight frown. The BIOS screen was still there. A minute later it changed into a blinking cursor on a black background. 5 minutes later, nothing had changed.

Have you ever felt that sinking feeling when you know something's gone horribly wrong? I have. Not only today, but in the past as well. My first GPU upgrade was at a LAN party, upgrading my GeForce MX440 to a FX5200. I eagerly installed the card and flicked the switch. All was going well until I smelled something. It was the metallic smell of ozone, the smell of fried electronics. The tab on the card was blocked by my computer case, and the AGP pins hadn't connected properly. The resulting short fried a capacitor in my motherboard. The rest of that LAN was not an enjoyable experience for me. It took 6 months for Intel's warranty department to issue a replacement.

Anyway the point is that I have felt this before. Fortunately I've learnt my lesson and I knew the pins were connected properly, and nothing smelled of ozone so I was trying to stay positive. I shut it down and checked that everything was seated properly, that the power was connected, and that my PSU had enough juice to support the card in the first place. Everything was okay. I tried again, and still nothing happened. The sinking feeling increased. Something's broken. I paid 500 dollarey-doos for this damn thing. The store is not known for its refund policy, and its support is Valve-quality. What the hell am I supposed to do?

I was desperate. And what do people do when they're desperate? They try everything. In my case, 'everything' included looking for motherboard BIOS updates. You know, that thing that absolutely never does anything to fix your actual problem? But it doesn't matter, I was desperate. I did it anyway. The last update on my motherboard was published in 2012. Not a good sign. But even still, I did it anyway. There was indeed a BIOS update, and at this point I didn't really care if it made things worse than before.

So I flashed the BIOS. I squeezed my hands together as the progress bar progressed. I popped a stress ball. The blood in my fingers experienced a pressure so great that it would still be in liquid form if I was sitting on the surface of the sun. The progress bar finished and my computer rebooted. I crossed all my fingers and toes and even digits that I didn't even know could be crossed. The BIOS booted...

... and worked! A BIOS update actually solved my problem! It's even less likely than the second coming of Jesus. But it worked. Windows started, and the driver installer struggled to start up and eventually gave me a green light after choking on installations for a while.

I celebrated by turning all the settings up in GTA. I can now make everything in the background incredibly blurry without it dropping frames! It looks absolutely awful so I turned it off, but isn't it nice that GTA with maximum settings also doubles as an "I'm not wearing my glasses" simulator. I'll now go back to playing games that I was able to max out on my old card anyway. New games are expensive, you know?

TLDR: Got a new graphics card, GTX 970. Didn't work initially, but for the first time ever a motherboard BIOS update actually solved the problem. Story may be slightly exaggerated in places. Not that guy's hair though - it was 100% real.

avatar DoctorAmazing 17 comments | 25th January 2016, 22:38 PM

Vinny from Vinesauce plays TWHL Tower
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fX4nm6RKHk

avatar DiscoStu 6 comments | 18th January 2016, 20:20 PM

I have a handful of throwaway email accounts on my web host. As such, some passwords are pretty half-assed and they may even be things like AAA123456. Today I got an alert from the support team at my web host:

----
Our servers have detected the passwords of several of your email accounts are insecure. Because they include the u sername (sic) or domain in them. [Note: not the case]
Please change your passwords from your control panel and re-enable the accounts. Follow these steps to build a strong and secure password:
(typical secure password advice removed)

----

My reply:

How do can you even tell that? Do you happen to be storing passwords in plain text instead of running them through a one-way algorithm as would be appropriate for a hosting industry of your caliber?

----

I can't wait to see what they reply, but it looks like I'll be changing providers soon...

===== UPDATE 1 =====

Dear User:
The server detects it automatically and modifies them, at no point we can see them because they are encrypted.

----
Yeah totally encrypted. With ROT13. TWICE!

avatar TJB 7 comments | 14th January 2016, 20:58 PM

I'm sure I mentioned it a few months ago, but as part of my final year at university our class is put into teams and each has to design and build a radio controlled model aircraft to perform a specific task as set by the AIAA foundation's Design Build Fly competition.
This year the aim is to build two aircraft; a Production aircraft, which must be capable of carrying a 32oz Gatorade bottle around a set course, and a Mission Support aircraft, which must be capable of carrying the production aircraft (stored internally, disassembled) around the same course.
We've spent the last semester designing the two aircraft, and manufacture started last week.
I'm in the fuselage group for our team, and in the last few days we've been busy building. Since the production aircraft is intended to be broken down into different parts, we've been able to work on the fuselage independently of the other groups (wings, gear, etc.)
The majority of the design is carbon fibre tubing and laser cut plywood and balsa wood. Here you can see the laser cutter cutting out some wing ribs from balsa:

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While the laser cutting is pretty impressive, the one they have at the university isn't great. Because the plywood we're using isn't laser grade, parts need to be cut out in multiple passes, but the cuts are in slightly different places on each pass, so they don't come out very well.
Here's an image of what little we could salvage of our first attempt at a fuselage, with a Coke bottle for scale:

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Here'a a pic of our partially constructed second attempt:

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To account for the poor accuracy of the machine, the parts were all cut slightly oversized, and then hand fitted. While this is labour intensive (two of us spent three or four hours filing and sanding and we've got more to do tomorrow), it allows for a very close fit:

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Those two images are of the parts we have ready so far (plus one that was accidentally broken). There's no glue or fasteners used there, but we were able to hold it by the tailboom and shake it fairly vigorously without anything coming off. Also in those pictures you can see my two 3D printed parts. I was pretty excited about those as it was the first time I had seen something I had designed on a computer as an object in the real world.

Also, as an extra: While the laser cutter isn't very accurate, it's perfectly fine for small objects that can be cut in one corner of the cutter bed. So I've been making keyrings.

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I have a few more designs I'd like to cut in the next week or so:

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avatar Urby 6 comments | 14th January 2016, 19:56 PM

Mere days after we lose Bowie, cancer has done the world yet another great disservice and taken Alan Rickman from us.

Fuck you, cancer.

avatar Suparsonik 3 comments | 11th January 2016, 23:30 PM

Damn, I missed my sixth birthday.

avatar DoctorAmazing 9 comments | 11th January 2016, 13:42 PM

RIP David Bowie

avatar DoctorAmazing 18 comments | 8th January 2016, 16:11 PM

So Marc Laidlaw left Valve.
What will this mean for Half-Life?

avatar Striker 7 comments | 6th January 2016, 16:09 PM

I played with some friends Exploding Kittens. This game is awesomely frustrating. But hey, at least I rubbed the belly of a pig-a-corn.

Do you guys know of any cool boardgames? What do you say about Pandemic?

avatar vodka95-ICR 9 comments | 5th January 2016, 10:19 AM

For you,which is the worst map of some game you played?

avatar vodka95-ICR 1 comment | 3rd January 2016, 13:49 PM

This is my reaction when there isnt Internet in my house :^)

http://i.imgur.com/4O2kuPk.gif

avatar NineTnine 10 comments | 3rd January 2016, 05:17 AM

So I finally got around to playing HL2 the other day (yeah nah don't ask why it's taken me this long).

Because the game was the first one to use the Source engine, I can't help but notice that a lot of the game puzzles and gameplay focus on the physics, as if Valve was attempting to exploit this part of the engine to the max.
ie. You get a tool that can pick up objects around the world. You can't shoot to destroy turrets, they have to fall over. You build see-saws in the sewers to escape, etc.
Maybe I'm just cynical but because I've played games post HL2 which feature similar physics engines that aren't exploited like this, I'm finding this part of the game a bit overkill. kind of like how there are games build to exploit a graphics engine, this feels like it was built to exploit a physics engine.

Also, the story isn't explained very well either.
And Alyx is actually pretty annoying.
But apart from that Its alright.

avatar DiscoStu 2 comments | 1st January 2016, 04:51 AM

Time flies. It slips away like sand between your fingers every second you're not looking. One day you realise all that time has gone, we're not here long enough. Don't let it run past with impunity. Have fun, love others. Trap that time in your heart and make it last forever.

Now go out there and have a great 2016!

avatar DoctorAmazing 2 comments | 27th December 2015, 16:07 PM

XVIII

Edit: Got A PNY Geforce 730 2Gb for myself, not top of the line obviously, but I'm so happy to be able to run Black Mesa and the like. Still stuck on 6gb of DDR2 RAM though.

avatar Dimbeak 10 comments | 26th December 2015, 04:10 AM

Please play the Beginner's Guide.

If you don't quite like walking simulators, I don't care. To me, dismissing a game with minimal input is like dismissing a movie for not being interactive--the level of interactivity doesn't matter so long as it's a competent story told in an engaging way.

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I just don't get it. If it's art, it's art. If it expresses itself ina way that works, then it works. And I feel it's very dismissive of you to revoke this game from the right of being called a "game," even when it's expressing an idea which evidence suggest might very much relate to you. Isn't it quite funny that the person who made a whole journal saying "Fuck homophobia." is now dismissing an entire genre of human beings' work just because it is a game primarily about observation, and listening?

But even if you hate movies, books, music, or any other form of entertainment which requires minimal interaction, I know that the majority of you will be able to connect to it.

It's basically a game which holds your hand and carries you through the Source maps of the creator's friend, and tries to relate his works to things happening in his life. It may not sound thrilling, but it's very introspective, and the end of the game left me with a very compelling feeling.

Is it fiction or nonfiction? It's hard to tell. Personally, I believe it's somewhere between the two, but that won't make much sense until you try it for yourself.

Basically, this game is a must-play unless you have no interest in the deconstruction of artistic expression and introspection.

Side Note: If you have played it, please no spoiler discussion in the comments.

Side Side Note: It's an hour long, so you can play through the whole game and get a refund if you didn't like it. If you did like it, however, please don't refund it you immoral bastard, unless it's because you think the work itself is immoral, which is a fair stance to take.

avatar DoctorAmazing 1 comment | 25th December 2015, 06:05 AM

merry something
https://youtu.be/nUKku3MhCPs
and have a happy new

avatar Tetsu0 3 comments | 23rd December 2015, 14:14 PM

My book (electronic version) is available for only $5 until January 8th!
https://www.packtpub.com/game-development/source-sdk-g
ame-development-essentials

Thought you all would like to know.

avatar DoctorAmazing 7 comments | 18th December 2015, 04:56 AM

Just saw The Force Awakens.
Wow.

avatar TawnosPrime 12 comments | 17th December 2015, 00:27 AM

The time has finally come. I will return to the upper ranks of the PC Master Race! After sliding down the ranks over the last few years with old faithful:

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 3.0 GHz
Motherboard: EVGA nForce 750I SLI FTW
Memory: 8GB DDR2 800 4x2GB (2 native, 2 overclocked)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Black 640GB 3.5" 7200RPM
Video Card: XFX GeForce GTX 285 1GB
Case: Cooler Master Haf 922
Power Supply: Corsair TX850 850W
Keyboard: Generic Keyboard
Mouse: Logitech MX518

I've just ordered the parts to build my new rig, and it will be Glorious!!!

CPU: Intel Core i5-6600K 3.5GHz
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master GeminII M4
Motherboard: MSI Z170M Mortar Micro ATX
Memory: Kingston HyperX Fury Black 16GB 4x4GB DDR4 2400
Storage: Samsung 850 EVO-Series 120GB 2.5" SSD
Storage: Western Digital Red 3TB 3.5" 5400RPM HDD
Storage: Western Digital Red 3TB 3.5" 5400RPM HDD
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 970 4GB ACX 2.0
Case: Corsair Air 240
Power Supply: EVGA SuperNOVA GS 650W
Case Fan: Corsair SP120 57.2 CFM 120mm Fans
Case Fan: Corsair SP120 57.2 CFM 120mm Fans
Keyboard: Corsair K70 RGB Wired Gaming Keyboard
Mouse: Razer Naga Hex Wired Laser Mouse
Other: Razer Sabertooth

Before you say anything, yes, the HDDs will be in RAID 0, and while the risk of failure is greater, given their reputation and my personal experience, I'm willing to take the risk for the performance increase and reduced cost for my game installs.

avatar DoctorAmazing 7 comments | 16th December 2015, 15:40 PM

Star Wars.

avatar Luke 12 comments | 15th December 2015, 18:54 PM

Big year. Got married and had a kid. Mad decent.

avatar Strider 4 comments | 14th December 2015, 10:47 AM