Very Bust of Nefertiti

Ray: I’m gonna send you what I have for Cairo so far, since the furthest I’ve gotten with Sable is “tiny, furious triangle”. I haven’t even started on her hair because I think it will largely depend on her body shape.

Two early concept designs for Sable.

The two body shapes are supposed to be different, but I can already tell you that they’re not dissimilar enough. The one on the right is meant to be slimmer in the hips and taller, but obvs they kinda just look the same. As for the faces, let me know which one you’re leaning toward or if you want more options. I guess the succinct way of going about this would be me asking, “Is anything here working for you?” and if not, I hit the canvas again.

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TF2/SpyParty/Sea of Thieves Area

I offered Ray the job of designing my characters April of last year.

Ray: Can I just tell you how excited I am?? I could barely sit still after I read your message.

DJ: Oh gosh! It’s always really humbling when people are excited about stuff I’m involved in.

Ray: I’d love to start working on these right away. How many designs are you looking for?

DJ: Two, just to start out. As for ideas, they’re pretty general so you’ll have some room to try things. I kinda don’t want to go super detailed just because I’ve never modeled anything in Blender before that wasn’t squared. Also, I’d really like if the game could run on a potato so while we’re not going low poly or anything, we’re not doing Final Fantasy shit either. I just want these guys to be readable, you know? The main thing is different silhouettes so you can actually tell your crewmates apart from a distance.

Ray: I totally get where you’re coming from. Do you have written descriptions of the characters or do you want me to throw some designs at the wall and see what sticks? Can you tell I’m excited to work on this yet?
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Damn, Gurl, Long Time No See

I dropped the Exit Strategy update on you and just disappeared more or less, huh?

Over the last few – wow, seven – months, I’ve been going through all kindsa big life changes including, but not limited to:

  • Getting my legal name changed.
  • Getting married (hi, Simon!).
  • Moving to a nicer apartment.
  • Honeymooning in Las Vegas.
  • Injuring my feet from all the hardcore standing and walking I did during our move and vacation.

With all those major events going on, you might be thinking to yourself, “Wow, I bet that hoebag hasn’t done a goddamn thing with the game and now she’s going to apologize for being so absent and she’ll promise to be more active from here on out, but that’ll be a goddamn lie and we won’t see her again for another eight months.”

But you’d be wrong! At least about the not having done anything. Caint say I won’t disappear into the cave again ’cause frankly, that’s how shit gets done.

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“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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