Wednesday, February 18, 2015



Alright, more or less well rested the work on Phi - Beyond Immortality has begun again about a week and a half ago. I know this development log might seem a bit overdue, but there was and currently still is not too much to talk about.

Most importantly I finally got support for the project. A programmer (unfortunately not yet connected via twitter & co and thus referred to as "the programmer") has agreed to work with me on the project and will therefore take over the coordination and the bigger workload regarding those aspects of the development. We already had several meetings, discussed the project in detail, sketched out class diagrams, functionalities, code, logic, conventions and should now be on the same page of what there is to do, as well as how we want to approach the tasks. We also had to set up this sort of "networked" development environment which allows us to share files and keep track of changes that the other person does. Because I definitely know that it is rather impossible to do this game on my own, I am really happy for that and I hope everything works out and that the team will get larger and larger in time.

Due to the recent rather theoretical endeavors, I think you can understand why there was nothing going on in terms of development updates. Since there are now two people working on the game and that is also for me something rather new - something that at least currently overwhelms me somewhat unprecedentedly regarding coordination and organization - I hope you will still stick with me (with us!) although from now on development logs will probably be updated only once per month. So, what is the plan? What will happen over the next couple of weeks? After careful thinking and planning we came up with the following plan and divided the next steps as such:


Among laying out the code according to the functionalities and diagrams as well as preparing all the programming aspects in terms of a general - better yet - efficient and non-confusing structure, the programmer will work on the menu systems for the game, starting off with the in-game menus. That does not only include a PauseMenu (where really everything gets paused this time :) but has a bigger focus on a PlayerMenu which among other things is about handling items in the game and all that goes along with it.


Items are fairly important to play and ultimately beat the game. They were there from the start but I didn't have the time to implement anything related to that matter before the expo and so this may be the first time you hear about this. As I have said before, it is my goal with Phi to not only create a 2½D shooting game or only a jump&run. Players should always have several options to avoid a certain problem (an enemy being just one but probably the best example of a problem). That is where items come in. In classic Castlevania-fashion the player will not only collect gold but several different items on his journey through the darkness and can instantly use them by pressing a (secondary/item) button while exploring the pyramid. Some items (like the revolver for example) are self-explanatory and somewhat limited in their use. Other items however will for themselves not do anything at all but can be combined with others to create something that can be very helpful, if not absolutely necessary during the game.

For example: A rag combined with a stick and saturated with petroleum will create a torch, which in turn is not only a great light source - if you are out of cells - but also a weapon type of item that should be preferably used to kill certain enemies instead of wasting bullets. Another of many possible combination options is to combine standard revolver bullets with certain elements to create bullets that freeze enemies for example.

I think you can catch the drift. Please let me also point out that although there will be several "recipes", as we currently call them, this art of combining items should not be compared with crafting on a Minecraft level! I think you will get a clearer picture if you take a game like Resident Evil, where you f.e. could also combine a green herb with a red herb and thus create a "mixed herb" that will heal you more efficiently. Yes, in Phi there will also be grenades to "craft" and heal items to be mixed, but please stay on the ground and don't expect the best, most flexible, awesome and intense, "be creative" crafting system here. - Actually, mostly to somewhat keep this game balanceable, you will not be allowed to combine and therefore create certain items until you have discovered the necessary "recipe", for example written in hieroglyphs on a wall of an area where you can't go yet.

I hope that after this brief excursion into the topic of items, you understand why there is an enormous foundation of code to write for the programmer, while in the meantime I always have a pen and some paper with me to come up with possible recipes and afterwards slowly start to exchange the placeholders for actual images.


Well, this will be my job over the next couple of weeks, and I guess the main thing I will participate in #screenshotsaturday via twitter. This will be a rather time-consuming task but definitely one of the most important ones during development. Daniel is the center of the game! He should not only "look good" but he also has an abundance of skills. - Running and jumping being just the basic ones!

For me, the experience of good control, the mobility and ultimately the feeling when playing is of the utmost importance. Completing the model entails several different steps from plain modeling, over sculpting and texturing up to the point of animating. Animations themselves, but much more importantly their transitions and behavior while playing, are a key factor to making any good game.

Unfortunately I still don't know how all this will work out in Unity, where there will be throwbacks due to us (currently) only using the free version and ultimately how long this will take. Luckily this will be the most intensive task in this field since there will only be one main character and all the other monsters, enemies and traps are rather limited in what they can do, making their animation and implementation efforts more manageable. There's no way to be sure, but I estimate the point of which the 3D character will be fully implemented in the prototype by the end of April. I am really looking forward to that!


Ugh,...honestly, a rather annoying issue to me. I already did some layout drafts and I am talking with people who can create it but it is still not possible to tell you an approximate date when it will go live. Point is that I would rather put my energy into tasks concerning the game but that on the other hand I don't have the money to outsource this necessary evil completely. It would be a major throwback for the game if I have to make the website completely by myself! I hope the website - in whatever half-finished state can go online as soon as possible, but we will see,... more meetings are scheduled and - naturally - you will be the first to know when the time has come.

Alright! That is as much as I can tell/show you for now. Again: I hope you stick with us and you continue to check the page also for some nice reviews and my humble opinions. If you have any questions, suggestions and so on, please feel free to comment or contact me otherwise! Thank you for your support!

Play more! Model more! 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015



It was with mixed feelings that I went into buying and playing this game on my Xbox One:

- Is it really sane to pay for the "same" game 4 times by now?

- Wow! - Finally a game that makes me feel excited again!

- Well, at least here I know exactly what I will get for my money.

- I am sure they did the absolute minimum and there will be lots of issues with it...

- Yay! Finally something that will make me turn on my Xbox One for a change!

By now I have almost finished it and I absolute don't regret anything about it! This was probably the best game I played on my XB1. - Except Alien Isolation maybe. Resident Evil also is the game with the best price-performance ratio if you ask me. In 2002 this very remake (only released for Gamecube) did already blow my mind. There was nothing they could have done better at that time. Given the current remake... well, there probably are a few things they could have done better; like for example also remaking the short video clips that occur sometimes during the game (when you drain the water from the pool in the gardens). Overall there are like five or six of these small cut scenes in the game and I think it is rather cheap to leave those at the 640x480 resolution when instead, with a minimal crew, those could have been brought up to date as well... but ok...

For the rest: There's nothing - no more to criticize and nothing more to tell you, cause you surely know this game anyway! Go and get it (if you don't have your old Gamecube plugged and ready to play)! This game is awesome and the best Resident Evil remake of the best Resident Evil game every made! It comes at a super fair price and you won't regret playing a good game again for change!

As I have just read with my morning coffee at +Fangirl Review  (my dear colleague's site), this remake is already Capcom's fastest selling digital title in the history across North America and Europe. Furthermore it already blasted the PlayStation Network and now also holds the record of the biggest selling digital title on the first day! Somehow that's really no surprise to me and I hope that now some people will finally realize that instead of feeding us ridiculously lame "new" games, we would all be much happier if they would just give us perfectly executed remakes of "old" classics for a fair price! We are still waiting for a remake of Resident Evil 2... how about doing this and scrapping any plans of a Resident Evil 7? - Look, Capcom, Resident Evil 7 will be a bad game anyway. You have lost the edge of what Resident Evil is long time ago. With a remake of Resident Evil 2, which you could easily sell for 60€ and thus more than cover your expenses, you would be stinking rich! But even more importantly you would probably understand again what makes a good Resident Evil and therefore continue the path one day with a good new sequel. Seriously... if you need a game director for that, or an insider/expert for the European or American market just contact me. I'll pack my bags and work with you on this remake instantly. My Japanese might be a bit rusty but we would manage somehow. :)

Many congratulations on your well-deserved success!

Play more! Remake more! 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015



As many of you probably noticed, I have an Xbox One… actually for a few moths already. I wanted to write something about that for a while now but I just didn’t have the time. Although I doubt it very much, I still hope this post will be read by some responsible people at Microsoft. At least it could be another voice on the internet and show you, who haven't bought an Xbox One yet, some serious issues that you might want to know before.

Why did I buy the Xbox One?
- Knowing that the PS4 is superior regarding technical details.

Well, first of all, I would have never purchased an Xbox One if they hadn’t made an edition without the Kinect. Next to the fact that I really and utterly dislike “games” that are made with it, I also have a serious problem of inviting Big Brother into my living room anymore than I am already forced to do.

Most important for the decision towards the XB1 was the fact that I have a significant Xbox 360 library of games, which I continue to play and tend to enjoy for a long time ahead. - Not that XB1 is backwards compatible, but I am talking about Xbox Live and playing those games online. In any case I would have continued to play “old” games thus using - more importantly - paying for Xbox Live. Luckily, it doesn’t matter whether XB1 or X360 cause the service Xbox Live stays the same and also needs to be paid only once! In short: Although PS4 was very tempting my financial situation just simple doesn’t allow paying for Xbox Live and PSN at the same time!

The other important decisive momentum were the games. Not only the games available at that time but also considering the ones to be released in the future. I think we know that we are living in times where almost nothing is an exclusive anymore… seriously; except Nintendo’s everlasting, tight grip on Mario, Luigi & Co… the games that are only PS4 or only XB1 are so few it’s almost not worth mentioning it. But anyway, games were a factor in my calculation as well, so feel free to put them on the balance like I did. In the end you might come to the same conclusion: The only two games making a difference are the new Halo only on XB1 and the new Metal Gear Solid only on PS4. So ask yourself which of those games/franchises you prefer more and trust me; the rest is surprisingly really keeping in the balance. - Not that any of these two games will be seeing the light of the day very soon, but here you have it… that’s why I bought an Xbox One instead of a PS4, or rather put the PS4 on hold for the time being.


Now to the interesting part; am I happy with that decision?

1. Technical Stuff (basics,... not talking about frames here)

Xbox One is technically obviously so inferior that on the very first day I bought it, I wasn’t even able to play with it. I am not talking about the annoying first-boot patches, which PS4 has as well, but I am talking how unbelievable and almost indescribable long it takes for games to install! I realize that this is strongly depending on which game you want to play and/or your internet connection and also that there were improvements during the last months, BUT the games I got with the XB1 (Wolfenstein and Ryse) both took more than four hours to be installed (completely) - thus be playable - on my console! Evil Within and Alien Isolation both took more than one hour on my XB1 vs approximately 15 minutes on one my friend’s PS4. Do any of you even remember those times back in the "PS1 age of greatness" where loading times where actually a factor deeming a game good or bad? - Like: “Wow! This game has so long loading times I would rather play something else.” All this seems gone today; not only that loading times with several minutes have become more of a rule than the exception, people already have to wait several hours until they can even start to play what they just bought in the store!

2. Service Problems

Xbox Live is in a desolate state if you ask me. Again, there have been improvements already, but in those three months I now own the XB1 and the approximate 40 times I wanted to do something online with it, in easy 30 cases there were problems with the service. Ranging from smaller bugs like not updating the friends lists correctly, over party issues like being unable to join and/or constant disconnects, voice communication problems to complete worst case scenarios like not being able to play the game due to update problems or the fact that you have to be online for doing so! And by the way, I am not only talking about the last Christmas time where again a bunch of immature kids downloaded some free hacking - or rather - DDOS tools and managed to ruin everything for everybody.

- Sorry, but this is not tolerable. Xbox Live always has been a great networking service in Xbox 360 times, it always made the difference and after all it still is something we pay for. To me it seems that the only thing Microsoft changed from Xbox Live 360 to Xbox Live for XB1 is that both are separated and that information is restricted, meaning that XB1 users and Xbox 360 people can’t join a party together and have a chat as well as that for example 360 users can’t see what games their XB1 buddies are playing but instead only get the message “On Xbox One” or something. I don’t know, but initially that doesn’t seem right and due to the restricted yet not very much improved nature of the programs that run the service that might also be the source for all the troubles we are experiencing.

3. Usability

That kind of goes along with the service issues but it is still worth mentioning apart from it. What I mean is: Xbox One is very poorly designed in terms of usability when you are not working with Kinect. - Admittedly that was not the intention at first but sorry: Fix that! While Kinect users can do pretty much everything with voice control and they can circumvent a ton of button confirmations and menus by doing so, users without Kinect find themselves within a user interface structure that can’t be any more impractical, confusing and simply annoying! I am not only talking about how the whole (unfortunately) Windows 8-based interface is structured but actually quite simpler about how it is used; To invite somebody to your party on Xbox 360 you need to do a total of 4 inputs. On Xbox One you need a total of 6 (depending how well you know the system you might even need to do 8 inputs)! So yeah, basically that is already at least +50% more complicated. But don’t forget all the loading times, which always was a bit of an issue with Xbox Live and since they didn’t improve it too much remains that way. Profile data (avatars, achievements, gamerscore, etc.) is of such an enormous size that it can take several seconds to retrieve the information for a single friend in your list, even with a good internet connection. I welcome you to calculate it up for yourself depending on how many friends you have on your list. Just remember that this loading of this information needs to be done in multiple menus on your way of chaotic navigation.

4. Localization (System)

Maybe one of the worst issues with Xbox One and something that goes beyond my tolerance is the fact that your XB1 - or rather Microsoft - more or less forces you to your regional language. Contrary to Sony’s PS4, which obviously arrived in the year 2015, it is currently NOT POSSIBLE to freely change the language settings of your XB1 to English. - Well it is, but as soon as you have chosen English as your system language you most likely can’t have your country as region.

For example: Language English, Region Austria or Spain is not an option on Xbox One! Well, you might think that doesn’t matter at first, but believe me this policy brings an abundance of problems with it. - Among those for example connectivity issues and lagging in various multiplayer games that come from initially connecting to “wrong” servers or the fact that all the offers in your marketplace are at usually in the wrong currency but in general invalid for you. So, if you want to buy something from the marketplace you would have to change the settings, restart your console, then sometimes realize that the content you wanted isn’t even on your marketplace but if it is, buy it, download it, install it, change the settings back, restart your console again, start the game and hope that it is in English… that really is something, right? And there are a lot of question marks involved. I am really sorry to say this but this is not how you do it! Not in the year 2015 on a very expensive system in conjunction with expensive services and most definitely not after we are used to a better system from the Xbox 360.

5. Localization (Games)

This goes somehow along with the localization of the system but it is not entirely a flaw of the Xbox One. What I mean is simply the fact that from all the (boxed) Xbox One games (and that goes the same for PS4 games) easily estimated about 70% are so strictly localized that English is not an option at all! For example the regional Evil Within that I bought in a local store features a total of four or five languages none of which is English!!!! Besides the fact that this is seriously pissing me off to the point where I almost want to start cursing out my frustration, I should also mention how that is tied to the already messed-up system language settings!

Problem: Put in a PAL/Austrian version of a “wrongly” localized game without changing the system language back to German and the game will most likely start in FRENCH!!! - So there we are… back at changing, resetting, waiting, playing, changing, resetting, hoping and basically losing one’s patience!

What is the responsibility of publishers?

Also, while I am at it, I really wanted to mention how angry it makes me that it still - IN 2015!! - is also not possible to determine which languages the game features that I am buying! You know, stuff like that HAS TO BE ON THE BOX of the game. It’s nice you mention that (in my region for example) the game is in German… Wow! - Thank you very much! I wouldn’t have guessed it… BUT IS IT ONLY IN GERMAN??? Or are there other languages… for example English on it as well? I am sorry I am getting a bit emotional but this issue really goes beyond my rational understand of the world and I feel like somebody is really having a lot of fun at my expense. Even more unimaginable there are also only few internet sources that try to list versions of games with their actual language on it, but the past has proven that those sites are not really reliable either. Look, I am not ten anymore… and actually recalling when I was, I also played games ONLY in English because there weren’t any others. I also don’t think that all games only have to be in English but PLEASE (for the love of sanity and the multicultural pot we are so fond of being melted in) why don’t you screw this whole language issue from the start and just OFFER ALL KINDS OF LANGUAGES AS DOWNLOADABLE CONTENT!?!?! - This might come as a shock to you but I WOULD EVEN PAY YOU another few bucks just to play a game in English! You see!! - You won! You could even make money with this! But please stop treating me like an idiot who can only understand his own mother language and who doesn’t deserve to appreciate others!

How come - not necessarily Microsoft - but foremost publishers fail so utterly to create a game cover that really states all the facts of any given game? You know what I now always do? I seriously call every publisher on the phone and ask them what languages a game has on it: “Hi guys. Sorry to bother you but I am holding your game in my hands now and somehow you failed to write if this is also in English. Can you please check if this version is (also) in English or else I won’t buy it.” - C’mon people. From now on let’s all do that, ok? At some point the telephones will be ringing so much that they will surely get their act together and produce informative game covers!


... and finally answer the question if I am happy I bought an Xbox One

Honestly… no, I am not. The system is poorly designed in terms of hardware as well as software. Game installations are sheer unbelievable time-consuming tasks and especially service-wise Xbox Live shows no improvements but basically seems to have taken a few steps backwards. The whole menus and controls are not even close to practical, almost every menu you bring up takes time to load like on a PC from 20 years before and everything is made only for and with Kinect in mind. Localization seems to have become the new sneaky coat of restriction and control while language no longer means freedom but rather a prison from which you are not allowed to escape. Some of those points concern PS4 as well and I am pretty sure I would also not be happy with a PS4. The PS4 might be better in some regards but both consoles have the same major problem that ultimately is far more important than the rest:

More than a year after release there are still only a handful of games out that are really worth playing!

I am really sorry to say that but honestly Microsoft has a lot of work to do. I am sure none of the issues I mentioned can't be fixed by reworking the software. First, maybe listening to all those voices on the internet raising concerns about the language setting for example and/or kicking the asses of some publishers to make useful and informative box covers, would be a start. Until then I am afraid at least my Xbox One will remain sad and probably die lonely and not appreciated the day the Steam Box comes out.

Play more! Reason more!