“That Was a Love Tap, Sucka!”

Even though Team Pank returned to PAYDAY 2 after the micro-transactions were removed, we weren’t long for it. I’m not sure why we stopped playing exactly, although I think it mighta just been how things looked to be moving. The h3h3 stuff was coming down the chute and if John fkn Wick doesn’t belong in the crew, YouTube personalities definitely don’t.

It’s been a struggle since then to find stuff that we can all just agree to play regularly. We’re not the type of crew that wants to game hop. We get into one game and we play it for four years straight. It’s part of why I started making The Take! I’m basically trying to get us back into our comfortable groove. To that end, I recently suggested that we return to Left 4 Dead 2, our first love.

And in order to play L4D2 properly, one has to have their HLDJ binds in order. HLDJ, if you don’t know, allows you to play music and sound effects over the voice chat in games built in Valve’s Source engine. Besides our shared library of Juggernaut, Bitch clips, Team Fortress 2 one-liners, and Randy Savage bon mots, each member of Team Pank has their own set of sound effects that they’ve personally curated. Logan favors R. Lee Ermey quotes from Full Metal Jacket. Simon has a bunch of Zer0 lines. Cyborg tends, I think, to only have a few from various sources, rather than collecting in bulk. And I have a selection of Sideshow Bob clips and what meager offerings I could glean from the soundboard on Rockstar’s website for The Warriors, one of my all-time favorite games. Of course, the one I really wanted wasn’t available there: Cleon’s “That was a love tap, sucka!” which I need for unavoidable friendly-fire incidents.

Now, I have the technology to record gameplay footage and I could have collected a clip that way, but it would have been marred by the accompanying noise of the rest of my warparty brawling in the back alleys, the sounds of Cleon’s fists connecting with some hapless Destroyer’s face, the ambient sounds of a restless Coney Island. You know, all the other stuff going on. I wanted it clean and crisp, no interference. HLDJ’s stringent audio requirements already take a huge toll on a clip’s quality.

Yesterday, though, I found a piece of software that allowed me to finally get that sound clip, beautiful and unobscured by the rest of the soundscape. PSound permitted me the privilege of unpacking all 20,000+ sounds in The Warriors to find the single one I was looking for, but I found the damn thing and now it’ll live in all its 16-bit, 10025 Hz glory in Left 4 Dead 2. I grabbed a few others too: Logan’s favorite Lizzie war cry of “You’re not the kind of pussy we like!” and Swan’s “Why don’t you tie a mattress to your back?” I’ll have to go back in later for Virgil’s “Pah-dy pah-dy pah-dy” and Cowboy’s quip about getting a chinstrap for his hat though.

Anyway, what does all this have to do with The Take!?

Access to assets!

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Grudge Games

So I just renewed my library card and they had a book about the history of Rockstar Games so I checked it out and tore the fuck through it.

(As an update to my game progress, I’ve had to basically rebuild the whole thing without the preferred character selection, and I’m still in the process of that. It’s a pain in the ass, but ultimately, it’ll end up solving some invisible errors (redirects from old stuff I deleted in the past) as well as make it so you can, you know, play the game. But because that’s not terribly interesting, I’mma tell you about Rockstar and their influence on my marketing design.)

One of the most important things I ever learned about game design and marketing is that every aspect of a game’s promotional materials, ideally, should be designed in service to the game. It’s one thing to write up a manual to explain the game. It’s another better, more immersive thing to make that manual something you can enjoy while you’re still “in character”, something that also exists in the canon. Rockstar’s game manuals and websites were what taught me this.

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It’s Not an Inside Joke if Everyone is in on It

Frankly, the game has been an utter pain in the ass for the last week. I was encouraged to make a little video, showing how it works thus far, but when I went to do it, I found that client players no longer spawn their characters when they load into a level. I think I’ve narrowed it down to the same sort of problem that causes their preferred characters not to be acknowledged, but I still don’t know how to to fix that problem. So harrumph.

So I’m gonna indulge in a bit of fantasizing about the glorious future where this is not the problem I’m dealing with.

One thing I’m really looking forward to is referencing things. But not the same old shit everyone else references.

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This Whole Thing Got Started Because Someone Was Doing an Unsatisfactory Job

It took me most of the week, but I got loud combat AI’s to shoot guns at you and for it to hurt when they do. I’ll need to make some adjustments to their behavior trees – give them more refined decision making – and make sure that all this stuff is replicating, but the main thing is you now have things to shoot and they shoot back.

I basically had to reverse engineer the tutorial I followed to make the AI take damage from your guns. Even though the tutorial I followed to get that also had one for enemy AI that should have explained exactly what I wanted. Two, in fact.

Like a lot of these tutorials, it’s written by a guy for whom English ain’t a first language. More than that, though, the structure is just difficult to adapt to other uses. This particular tutorial is very specific to the game he is making. I’ve managed to cobble enough useful bits and pieces out of it to get to where I am, but man. The book he’s writing is gonna be a hard sell.

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Gotta Roll With the .htaccess Conflicts

There’s good news and bad news.

Bad news is that remember how I said I had backups of the website before it fucked itself and I deleted fucking everything, well I don’t. Thought I did but I dint. Once I realized this, I set to work trying to salvage copies of the narrative, since I think that’s the most valuable thing out of all that old stuff. I was able to dredge up copies of “Jumping Ship” and “Nitriles” off the Wayback Machine, but “Transitional Period” wasn’t wayback enough, I guess.

The good news is that it gives me a chance to rewrite them better. With more characterization and a more detailed plot. Because looking back on those first stories, they are admittedly a little thin on characterization. I also thought of a much tidier and more elegant way to tie the narrative into the demo release that I’d like to do once I’ve got a decent enough demo built for you. I’ve actually been putting this page together since the last… well, it wasn’t a CrimeFest last year ’cause they besmirched the good name too hard to use it anymore apparently but, you know, since October-ish. I don’t wanna give too much away, but I’ve been stockpiling a bunch of little extra-curriculars to make a proper update of it.

As far as the game itself goes, I’ve been working on getting the weapon fire to replicate, the “loud” enemy AI, and putting together a nice demo map for you so you can get a basic estimation of what it’s gonna be like. If you want to see specifically what I have done, what I’m doing, and what I plan to do, I have linked the game’s dev map in the menu.

My goal for releasing this stuff is July, but like I said in the forums, I’m still only one person so know that Valve Time is highly likely to be in effect. I’d rather delay than release something half-assed.

As always, let’s keep our expectations managed.

Discord and Forums Now Open!

The Take! Discord and The Take! Forum are now open!

I’ve been setting the forum back up for the last few days, installing the mods to get it modern and such. SimpleMachines forum software is highly customizable, but originally came out when the big contact points were AIM, YIM, MSN, and ICQ. You gotta put some work in to bring it up to the now. The Discord has been set up since Team Pank started playing GTA V again and migrated to it from Steam Chat since we had to have it be voice-activated but with sensitivity adjustments. Gamepad controls don’t have a voice chat button and can’t be edited.

Simon, watching me fight with various website components over the last two weeks, questioned whether it was worth building community features before, you know, the game itself was built. And maybe it did seem very cart-before-the-horse but the fact of the matter is you need to be facilitating community-building before you get anywhere near releasing a game these days. There are tons of games on Steam that would be great multiplayer experiences, if only they had multiple players to play them with. Multiplayer games with no community at launch are dead in the water.

So Discord is an obvious choice as far as community facilitation goes, but I also wanted a forum, which might seem like an antiquated option in this day and age.

Read on…

Don’t Panic! I Haven’t Given Up on The Take! Or Anything

In fact, I broke my entire website trying to improve the experience of it.

You may recall that I installed MediaWiki software a million years ago so that when the time came to look stuff up on The Take! Wiki, you wouldn’t have to deal with Wikia’s bullshit. All fine and well, but then I decided that I wanted you to also have the option of choosing between a predominately dark theme and a light one. I felt it was important for you to have that option in an area of the site that would involve so much reading.

But changing the colors on a wiki is not as simple as merely editing the CSS. MediaWikis use “skins”, which include a lot of other stuff in the mix and they are hard to build. While I don’t consider myself a web developer per se, I think I am a pretty talented script kiddie, but this shit was complex, yo. One of those thing where you correct all the references and it still doesn’t work.

Read on…