August 2019
« Oct    

Archive for the ‘Advanced Web Based Projects Research’ Category

Games Recommendations

What games would I suggest for someone trying to introduce themselves to videogames?


Different videogames are on different platforms. The reason for this is, simply put, brand name–certain consoles are associated with particular companies, and particular titles are exclusive to particular platforms. I would base my judgement on what games I do want to play.

In the 90s, computer games were, for a time, the most popular games, with good reason–game consoles at the time were still extremely limited in hardware and technical capability, compared to PC games. Today, there are a lot of problems with PC gaming–Draconian DRM solutions can make gaming rather tedious, system requirements can vary depending on the game, and can be extremely high for the average consumer. Operating System may be an issue, too–the majority of games are made for Windows, although some titles are supported by Mac OS X and Linux.

That isn’t to say, however, that computer games should be avoided. There are still plenty of high profile titles on the PC, (Team Fortress 2, the upcoming StarCraft 2, etc.) and the PC is a better choice for niche games, such as aircraft and racing simulators, which are a rarity on other platforms.

A portable gaming device by Nintendo which relies on a dual screen (hence DS), with one screen that supports touch sensitivity. It is cheaper than the PSP, and has a number of innovative titles (i.e. Trauma Center, Nintendogs) that you most likely won’t find on any other console. However, the DS, along with the Wii, also has a hefty amount of shovelware.

PlayStation 3
The main rival of the XBox 360. IIRC, the PS3 holds a higher user base in Japan over the 360. While mostly similar to the 360 in terms of hardware, the PS3 has the added advantage of a BluRay drive, the Cell Processor (which has yet to be used to a great extent by any game) and the option of a third party hard drive. (The last option is possible on the 360 as well, but not officially supported or endorsed) Additionally, the PS3 has better support for third party controllers and connectivity with the PSP. It also relies on the PlayStation Network as a means of online gaming and as a digital delivery service, which, unlike XBL, is free. However, online gaming performance is not on par with XBL.

PlayStation Portable

To say that Capcom understand multiplayer would be something of an understatement: their Monster Hunter series is (probably) responsible for 16% of Japan’s GDP, though its decidedly Eastern flavour – and fiddly controls – have yet to catch on in the West.
(Martin Gaston)

Although this quote is out of context (it is meant to be a hands-on review of the upcoming Lost Planet 2), it pretty much summarizes what is particularly notable about the PSP. The PlayStation Portable is the Nintendo DS’s main rival in handheld consoles. While not as innovative as the DS (It does not have a touchscreen) its main advantage over the DS is titles such as Monster Hunter, as well as upcoming PSP titles such as Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker–which greatly take advantage of social networks and parties on the fly. It is more pricey than the DS, however.

The distinctive feature of the Nintendo Wii over any other console is its motion-based Wiimote, (now replicated by Sony’s PlayStation Move controllers) which allows the player to exert him/herself physically in order to perform in-game actions. The Wii was initially more popular than the 360 or the PS3–however, that popularity is beginning to wane. The Wii has online connectivity, similar to the 360 and PS3; however, its connectivity is limited in comparison. As a home console, the third-party game lineup of the Wii is also generally inferior to what is available on either the PS3 or 360–there are probably only a handful of noteworthy third-party Wii titles, the rest being shovelware.

XBox 360
The most popular console in North America, there is a larger user base in American gamers than with any other console. The 360′s popularity primarily stems from best-selling high profile exclusive titles, (i.e. Halo) and the XBox Live online service. However, the XBL service, unlike any other service, charges a subscription fee. To compete with the advantages of the PS3, the 360 also asks the user to buy dedicated hardware, (i.e. a first party Microsoft Hard Drive, wireless adapter, etc.) which is more expensive than setting up your own solution, such as relying on a wireless hub and third-party devices–however, this is not endorsed by Microsoft.


There are a lot of games out there, and even though arguably there is a definitive, mainstream title (as of this writing, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2), there are plenty of games catering to specific interests. Games also vary in level of content–the majority of mainstream games, mostly T and M-rated titles, tend to be focused around violence.

Here are a few examples of possible titles to look at:

Super Mario Bros. and other first-party Nintendo titles
Nintendo Wii and DS titles. The easiest ones to name are first-party Nintendo titles, which always tend to be family friendly, or T-rated at most. Other than Mario, other notable entries here include the Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Super Smash Bros., etc..

For PlayStation 3 and PSP. Listed here because it’s very family friendly. At its core, it is a simple platforming game which can be played cooperatively with friends, online and offline. One of the most important titles of the PS3, LBP is notable for its cutesy presentation and emphasis on content creation–players can create and share their own levels for others to see.

Rock Band
Multi-platform, available on most consoles by now. Requires, at the very least, a guitar controller to play. A game that initially started with Guitar Hero (major dev team members moved on to create Rock Band), Rock Band is at heart a party game. The objective of the game is to play rock music, and ultimately become a high profile rock band; with the aid of a guitar controller, drums, vocalism, and optionally the assistance of up to three other friends.

Metal Gear Solid
Primarily a Sony title. I just wanted to make a note out of this one. While it is primarily an M rated title, the upcoming Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker for PSP will be rated T, which is an attempt to reach out to younger players. Metal Gear Solid is primarily a stealth action videogame series, with an emphasis on cinematic narrative and storytelling. (Some gamers complain that the games are more like movies than they are games) Despite the military atmosphere, there is a pacifistic theme underlying within the game, usually commenting on the futility of nuclear deterrence and the effects of the battlefield on individuals.

My favorite game is Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, but that is a bit old and is on the PS2. However, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is a direct sequel to MGS3, and I’m looking forward to it, perhaps moreso than the PS3′s MGS4. Both games tell the story from the perspective of Big Boss, arguably the central antagonist of the entire Metal Gear series.

Other titles
Off the top of my head are T or M-rated titles, or more complicated, high learning curve games such as IL-2 Sturmovik, so I won’t go into great detail on them here.

Garry’s Mod Server Results

The server obviously wasn’t very successful. There were a lot of problems with my idea.

  • Garry’s Mod, being a commercial game, costs ten dollars. While that may not seem like much to a regular gamer, it’s a bit pricey for something that was only going to run for a few weeks.
  • High learning curve. It might seem really silly to me or anyone who has played an FPS game before, but people who haven’t will have a much harder time grasping the basic control scheme before they can come to grips with the GMod Tools.
  • No incentive to do anything. The MOTD was working, but no one actually read it, or if they did they didn’t care. I was pretty much the only one working on the John Freeman statue, and it got deleted by someone somewhere along the way. It’s no problem restoring the damage, but at the time it was deleted I didn’t see any reason to bring it back anyway.
  • Server was quite laggy. People actually complained about this while they were logged in. This was because I relied on an existing machine at home. I knew it was a bad idea and I actually tried outsourcing someone to get a server set up, but the system config they had (Linux OS) wasn’t really that compatible with Garry’s Mod. This was a last resort.

A week ago, a friend introduced me to Minecraft. In all honesty, the capabilities of Minecraft in addition to it being free to play (for now) would’ve made it a much better option than GMod, had I heard about it sooner.


Skeleton Jelly

I don’t know the original source of this. All I know is that it is the story of a skeleton made of jelly.

Ode to Merton

Looks like the dedicated server was a bad idea. About four people (other than me) connected to the server so far, and none have actually interacted with the statue in any way.

In other news, a while back one of the social media applications we explored was Chat Roulette, a bizarre application which connects two random strangers via webcam and basic chat, shuffling them along to other random strangers. The locals that can be encountered on Chat Roulette can be rather unscrupulous.

Why bring this up again? The following video is a live, improvised piano performance before an audience in Charlotte, North Carolina, performed in conjunction with Chat Roulette.

Dedicated Server

For some reason, my spraypaint never worked offline in GMod in particular. It worked in TF2 though, and for some reason it works online. Odd.

If this post is up, that means that the GMod dedicated server is up and running, finally. It will probably run for a while and close up some time during the summer or if the John Freeman statue completes early, whichever comes first.

To connect, add the following server to your favorites:

Alternatively, just open up the console (tilde key) while running GMod, and type:


NOTE: Requires PHX3 and Wiremod. They will NOT provided automatically by the server, because they require an SVN client to properly install.

Wiremod and how to use SVN
PHX3 (Do not download directly, run an SVN checkout in your garrysmod/addons/phx3/ directory

Follow the instructions on the first link for both Wiremod and PHX3.

P.S. Let me add a few extra screens showing what the server currently looks like:

As you can see, I have a working MOTD for anyone who stumbles in without having read this blog, which will probably be 90% of the time.

The stick figure.

The Beginnings of Building the John Freeman Statue

I have a working dedicated server now. It’s passworded, so no one can get in at the moment.

I’ll probably lift the password and post the server address when I have a working MOTD and a more reasonable looking object than a gigantic stick figure.

Brief Overview on How to Play Garry’s Mod

Server still needs to be set up. Meanwhile…

This is not for anyone who already knows how to use Steam and has played an FPS game before. I’m sure there are better explanations on how to use Steam and play’s Garry’s mod, but whatever.

Get Garry’s Mod

You can get Steam here. Click on the Get Steam now button, download the MSI and follow the instructions. You should be able to register an account within the Steam Client.

Note the basic system requirements for Steam, some of these are common sense:

  • Windows XP, Vista or 7
  • 256 MB RAM
  • 1 Ghz or faster processor
  • 1GB HD space (recommended)
  • Internet connection (broadband recommended)

You can get Garry’s Mod here. Garry’s Mod by itself costs only $10, but it requires a Half-Life 2 or a Source Engine game in order to play. Make sure you have at least one of the following games:

  • Counter-Strike Source
  • Day of Defeat: Source
  • Portal
  • Half-Life 2
  • Half-Life 2: Deathmatch
  • Half-Life 2: Episode One
  • Half-Life 2: Episode Two
  • Left 4 Dead
  • Team Fortress 2

If you don’t have any of the above games, I recommend getting one of the bundle packs (Team Fortress 2 or Counter-Strike: Source). Note that aside from vanilla Half-Life 2 itself, having another Source Engine game provides access to props and ragdolls from that corresponding game–which isn’t a necessity but is useful if you want to play with specific stuff.

How do you connect to a server manually?

How to Play Half-Life 2

If you’ve never played a first person shooter before, note that Garry’s Mod is based off Half-Life 2, which is an action/adventure FPS game. The most basic controls for most contemporary FPS games are typically as follows:

W, A, S, D – Move character
Space – Jump
Ctrl – Crouch
Shift – Walk
Mouse – Look
Mouse 1 (Left Button) – Primary Attack
Mouse 2 (Right Button) – Secondary Attack

There are more controls than that, but I won’t go over them. Refer to the control configuration screen in the options menu.
This is what the game looks like.


You will always have the following weapons unless you install an addon. For the most part weapons are not useful for anything other than killing NPCs or if you’re feeling violent towards other players, but they can be useful for testing some things with the physics engine.

Gravity Gun

A weapon from Half-Life 2 used for manipulating and throwing objects. Listed here because it is the predecessor of the Physgun, which uses a model based on the Supercharged Gravity Gun from the final levels of Half-Life 2. It is also one of the only weapons from the original game that is remotely useful in Garry’s Mod. Unlike the Physgun, you can’t carry objects larger or heavier than a person, though you can still knock over anything that is light enough.

Physics Gun

Based on the Supercharged Gravity Gun from Half-Life 2, except fundementally different. This is the tool you will be using most in Garry’s Mod, as it is used for moving things around and assembling things. Hold Mouse 1 on an object to drag it around, Mouse 2 while dragging to lock an object in place. Unlike the Gravity Gun, you can hold just about anything with the Physics Gun, except for the map itself.

Tool Gun

This is a weapon you will also be using quite a lot in Garry’s Mod. The function of the Tool Gun varies depending on what you are trying to do—usually, instructions are provided on the screen depending on what tool is selected. Press Q to select a tool or summon a prop, ragdoll or NPC.

The rest of the weapons aren’t as important. By default players will spawn with armaments including pistols, SMGs, grenades, a crowbar, etc., but for Garry’s Mod purposes they aren’t useful for anything other than malice, or testing things such as explosive props.

NPCs and Ragdolls

Combines are exactly as they are described in Half-Life: Hero Beggining.

Non-Player Characters are characters that the players normally interact with in a game featuring them. If you decide to spawn an NPC, make sure you know what you’re spawning. Some of them will be friendly, and others will be hostile. Armed Combine soldiers and automatic turrets will fire upon players and human NPCs and Vortigaunts, and vice versa. Xen creatures (Headcrabs, Barnacles, Zombies, Antlions, etc.) are hostile to everything, and will attack vehicles if you’re in them.

Avoid doing this.

Contraptions that rely on vehicles, explosive components, etc., can be ruined, so be careful. Note that killing human NPCs and Vortigaunts doesn’t ever make them hostile to you, they were never programmed that way. Depending on the server, NPCs can be flagged to ignore players and/or just flat out do nothing at all.

Ragdolls were created to simulate realistic death animations in games. In Garry’s Mod, non-NPC ragdolls (like ones you spawn) can be manipulated like mannequins, which can be used for machinima videos and skits. Killing NPCs will turn them into ragdolls, but they can’t be used.


Here’s an example of third party add-ons for Garry’s Mod.

If you have an add-on you want to install, it goes in the garrysmod/garrysmod/addons folder. For instance, the above addon is Lyndis from Fire Emblem. The folder it comes packaged in is lin. That means that it should be installed like this:


If you’re trying to install a mod which can’t just be installed in the addons folder, check to see if there are instructions. If there are none, it’s probably a shoddily made addon. Don’t try and install them unless you know what you’re doing.

The Tool Gun

There are a lot of tools in the tool gun. I haven’t used all of them, and they may take some time to figure out and get used to. Here are some examples of construction tools that you can expect to use often:


Connects two objects together in their assumed position. Note that this means that if you weld two objects that are far away, then yes, they will assume that exact position when you pick it up with the Physgun. An “easy” version of this exists, which automatically attaches the object such that the two objects are visually and physically connected.

Ball Socket
Attaches two objects so that they can rotate together on a ball joint. Comes in Easy and Advanced versions, which allows you to define limitations or moves the object such that the two objects are physically connected.


“Easy welds” two objects so that they rotate on a one-dimensional axis.

Connects two objects on a rope. Unless the rigid option is checked, the rope will be flimsy, like a real rope.

Connects two objects with a spring-like rope which can compress and stretch, and attempt to return to its original length.

Copies and duplicates an object or a group of objects assembled together. Unfortunately, this cannot be used to save contraptions. They can “save”, but they will only be saved to the game’s memory temporarily.

Adv. Duplicator
This is a third party tool that comes with Wiremod. Designed for copying and duplicating objects with Wiremod circuitry, this tool can save contraptions to disk.

More tools exist, such as tools that add wheels, thrusters, etc. to objects, tools for posing ragdoll faces, and so forth.

And John Freeman was happy.

For more in-depth information on how to use Garry’s Mod, refer to the Gmod Wiki.

Nick Simmons

onoe i has no idea what to talk about might as well talk bout dis

In summary, Nick Simmons, the son of hard rock and heavy metal musician Gene Simmons, created an Amerimanga-type comic series known as Incarnate, which itself was wholly derivative of shounen anime and manga. That isn’t special, however. What is special about this series is that the artwork in Incarnate was traced right off some of the latest chapters of Tite Kubo’s Bleach–panel layouts, even character designs and visual compositions are taken right from Bleach. Initially posted on a LiveJournal, word spread extremely quickly, and even public news outlets began broadcasting the story–perhaps because Nick Simmons is the son of a high profile musician. In response, Nick Simmons argued that he was paying tribute to his favorite manga artists via “homages”–however, his comic has been abruptly cancelled because of the plagiarism allegations.

Obviously, plagiarism on this level is unacceptable; that’s a given. I’m not a big fan of Bleach, either. What I want to mention in regards to this topic, however, is that this is not the first time a comic artist has plagiarized artwork from other sources.

In short, there are dozens upon dozens of examples of plagiarism. Nick Simmons’ story, arguably, is identical to most stories revolving around plagiarism. What then, makes his story so special?

It’s the fact that only three issues in, word spread very, very quickly. There exists a Facebook page endorsing legal action against Simmons, and there is still the fact that a single LiveJournal account was responsible for revealing the similarities between Simmons’ Incarnate and Bleach. There is even a motivational meme based on Simmons’ actions and subsequent consequences.

Although the problem, as with most optimistic stories about intellectual theft, fixed itself, what I find interesting is not only how quickly it did, but how much attention has been placed on Simmons in particular, compared to artists like Liefeld and Yuki Suetsugu.

The Alternate Reality Game

There is some new content for the game Portal, which consists of a series of cryptic morse code transmissions and noises embedded within the game; which, when decoded and converted into something more readable, reveals itself to be images alluding to a sequel to Portal. However, without any sort of user intervention and participation, these images would not have been published, nor would there be any sort of evidence of a sequel to Portal. This is a viral ad campaign, one which relies on user intervention and curiosity–an Alternate Reality Game.

This, however, is not the only time someone has relied on an ARG for advertising. Many years back, Bungie Studios ran a real-life and internet-based ARG to promote Halo 2 for the XBox, via a website known as I Love Bees. Furthermore, Warner Bros. promoted Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight through a viral campaign advertising Harvey Dent as a real life political figure and role model. Cryptic imagery embedded within Harvey Dent’s website, however, led Nolan’s fans on a scavenger hunt, eventually leading them to the website

While these are examples of Alternate Reality Games being used as a form of viral marketing, they are generally interesting as collaborative works of performance, and quite creative methods of attracting user attention not only from the internet, but from other media outlets as well. It would be interesting to see the ARG being utilized not as a means of commercial advertising, but as a form of performance art.

Online Gaming Services – Proposals

I have a few ideas in mind on what I would want to do for a social networking project.


The first thing that comes to mind is to, like Hubert or Ralphie, troll a server, grief players, and become a notorious figure–however, I’m not a particularly good or dedicated actor. Even assuming I were one, however; trolling a server is a very unoriginal solution, and is also quite risky to do.

Garry’s Mod Environmental Sculpture

The idea behind this proposal is to create a generic, albeit enormous sculpture of some sort in Garry’s Mod, and host it on a dedicated server. The server would be advertised publicly on Steam, and possibly through other outlets (i.e. forums, IRC, word of mouth, etc.). One would require access to Steam, Garry’s Mod and a Source engine game (i.e. Half-Life 2, Counter-Strike: Source, Team Fortress 2, Portal, etc.) in order to access the server. Garry’s Mod comes bundled with some multiplayer-oriented source games for $25–Garry’s Mod by itself costs $10.

An MOTD (Message of the Day) will display to any players entering the server, instructing them to contribute to this large sculpture in some way–of course, they don’t have to follow these instructions. As GMod is a sandbox game, players are free to do whatever they wish; if they choose to kill other players or attempt to destroy the sculpture, there is nothing restricting them from doing so. However, anything completely disruptive, such as crashing the server, may probably result in a temporary or permanent ban, depending on the circumstances. To ensure that the sculpture itself is not destroyed, the server will run with the Wiremod addon, allowing the admin to save and respawn instances of the sculpture in progress via the Advanced Duplicator tool. Player performance (that is, the player’s behavior, what types of parts they add to the sculpture, their interaction with others) may also be recorded, via Valve demo recording or Fraps.

The primary theme behind this proposal is collective–or rather, the analysis of the collective, in the context of online gaming as a social network. This server serves as an experiment, to see how willing players are to contribute to and/or detract from an artistic work in progress that is built directly within a videogame environment. The project would last either a specific amount of time or until players’ attention spans are exhausted, before the work is ultimately finalized. The primary challenge of this concept is attracting players–what kind of incentives can be provided to players to encourage them to contribute to a massive work of art, and what would encourage them to persist in such an endeavour?

Screenshots later.