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4 August 2010 - See, I wasn't lying.

New Alien Swarm Campaign Okay so my unofficially official first campaign for Alien Swarm is now in its infancy. To prove that I'm not completely lazy and I really am working on it, I've posted a couple (obviously very) early screenshots over in the previews area. Also I take back what I said about cancelling bedrooms3 for Left 4 Dead 2. Apparently people really did like the first one, and since this one is so close to being done, I'll probably push it out there. The issue with not being able to move the physics props is still there, and that's been my biggest roadblock. That was a big feature of the first one. Oh well. Something is better than nothing, right?

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20 July 2010 - ALIEN SWARM

The game has only been out for a day, but I can already tell you I am planning to make Alien Swarm maps. That is all.

Oh, and I'm probably not going to finish l4d2_bedrooms3. Sorry. Lost interest in the game.

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19 May 2010 - I haven't died, I promise.

Just a quick update. I am still alive, I swear! Things have just been busy, but they should be calming down soon. I recently moved from Alexandria, VA to Mount Joy, PA to start my new assignment as an Army recruiter. Not something I'm exactly looking forward to, but I'm going to try to make the most of it. Anyway, with my new schedule I should have a little more time to work on the map. As previously stated, it's like 99% done, all it really needs is the poster. But I'm trying to throw some last-minute cool stuff in there. I'm still bummed about the whole "props don't move before the round starts in Survival" issue, but it doesn't look like Valve has any plans of fixing that. So might as well get it out there.

Other than that, there isn't a whole lot for me to say. I don't know what my next project is going to be. It's hard to say because at this point there isn't really a game out there that I want to map for. I still play Left 4 Dead, but I don't think I want to do a zombie themed map. So in a way I guess I'm taking a little break. But of course, when I figure something out I will post it here.

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9 March 2010 - Bad Company 2 is good stuff

So here I am in week 5 of the Army Recruiter Course. We've started to actually make some phone calls and will soon be going out and talking to people. It's not really my thing and I'm still getting used to it but it is somewhat interesting. We're being told not to think of ourselves as "recruiters" so much as we are counselors and advisors. Yes there is still a mission, but we want to make sure we are setting people up for success. I've already gained more respect for recruiters and what they have to do. That being said, I promise I won't turn this website into a recruiting tool! It will be a big part of my life for the next three years, so I can't say it won't be mentioned. But this still my site and my blog, not the Army's.

Anyway, I haven't really worked on the map at all. I really don't want to release it with the physics not working the way I want, but Valve has yet to address the issue so it looks like I might have to push it out anyway. At least I have Scavenge mode support to make up for it.

Battlefield Bad Company 2 The class has been keeping me pretty busy, but I have been playing a lot of Bad Company 2 in my spare time. I'm finding the game to be a lot of fun. I'm happy with the bigger focus on infantry combat as opposed to vehicles with the previous games. I think they found the right balance. You still get to jump out of helicopters and ride tanks, but most of your time will be spent boots on the ground using one of the simplified, merged classes. For example, the medic and support classes were combined, with the exception of support's ammo giving abilities being given to the assault class. All in all, it works well and I've been having a lot of fun.

So that's all for now. Not a whole lot to report, but I felt like posting.

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18 February 2010 - Screenshots of l4d2_bedrooms3

Rather self explanatory. I've posted the first screenshots of l4d2_bedrooms3 which, as you can see, I still have not come up with a name for. I want something similar to bedrooms3: Bite Size, but I got nothin'. Any ideas?

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15 February 2010 - The times, they are a changing

Well I've done it again. Welcome to the new site. I've worked on it for about a week and it's done. Besides the obvious style changes, the biggest thing is that is no more. I've merged the maps section of the site with the front page. When I first designed the site, my intention was to have two separate sites - one personal and one for maps. The front page was sort of like a gateway. Well the personal site never materialized, so it didn't make any sense having a front page for a site when the two of them really just talked about the same thing. Plus, while the design was cool (in my opinion), the maps site was kind of hard to navigate and even harder to link to when I needed to direct someone here. One thing to note is that all you Internet Explorer users will see the site a little differently. IE renders the colors in .png images differently than other browsers, so the site looks a little darker in IE. Also, there is a glowing effect on the menu links that doesn't show up in IE. Click here to see a comparison image. I used to use IE for a long time because I never liked FireFox. But I've been using Google Chrome for a while now and I really like it. If you're still using IE, you should give it a try.

ANYWAY let's take a minute to mourn the loss of the old sites.

The old front page. The old map site.

But now it's time to move on. As you can see, it's kind of like the two sites had a baby. A more functional, visually appealing baby. Anyway, I didn't want to throw away all the updates I made on the map site, so that turned into the Map News section of the site. I figure I'll post map related updates over there and this will kind of turn into a more general blog. The rest of the site is just like the old map site with all my maps featured on the Releases page and upcoming maps and videos on the Previews and Videos pages, respectively.

Finally is the Info page, which is the personal page that I never got around to making before. Not really sure where I want to go with it, but for right now you can just learn a little about me and see what games I'm currently into.

So that's it for now. I have made a lot of progress on the map, and should hopefully have some screens soon. It's 99% finished, but I'm not putting it out until Valve fixes or at least acknowledges an issue that keeps any physics props from moving in Survival mode before the round begins.

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21 October 2009 - Some things...

Earlier today I posted an entry on the map site to let you know what's going on with my mapping projects. Of which there is one. And there isn't much going on with it. But check it out anyway.

I know there has been a bit of a lull in postings here, but I'm not kidding when I say there has been a lot going on at work and at home. The biggest change coming in that I've received orders for recruiting duty. That's right, Kid Ying will soon be responsible for recruiting new soldiers. To those that aren't in the military, this may not seem like a big deal. But those that are will tell you that recruiting is probably one of the worst jobs in the Army. The hours are long, the mission is hard, and the demands are high. Supposedly it's gotten a little better, but we'll see. I can already tell you that my already limited time to spend mapping is going to be shortened. Anyway, I start school in February and begin my assignment in May. Did I mention this also forces me to stay in until May 2013, when I was supposed to get out in October 2011? Yeah...

Anyway, I'm going to go ahead and assume that a large portion of my site's visitors are PC gamers. By now, those that are have probably heard about the controversy surrounding Activision/Infinity Ward's decision to force matchmaking on the PC version of the game and remove dedicated servers. I'm not going to go into the details of the decision and its ramifications because it's been done to death, but I will post my thoughts.

I've signed the petition, something I never do. I more than likely will not be buying the game at release, if ever. I didn't have a preorder, but if I had, I would have cancelled it. Why such a strong reaction? Because this is really about more than just a game I was looking forward to. It's about a trend that has been growing for the past few years. I'm not going to sit here and say PC gaming is dying, because it isn't. As long as people own a PC and there are games like Peggle, WoW, and The Sims, the PC gaming scene will stay around. But what do those games have in common? They are either free, or just wouldn't work (well) on a console. But the genre that used to be the PC's hallmark, the first person shooter, has been adopted and made famous by consoles... most notably with Halo.

Before I get going, there is one thing I want to get out of the way: fanboyism. Lately there has been a lot of strife between PC players and console players. The PC people blame the console people for causing their games to be dumbed down. And no doubt they have... just look at the Rainbow Six series. But it's not the console player's fault. It's the companies that they buy from. Similarly, console players get angry at PC players for being being elitist and being cry babies. But I truly believe most console players don't realize how much better PC gaming can be... the only problem is that you have to get into it, and that is expensive.

Personally, I just consider myself a gamer. I own a PC, a Wii (that admittedly doesn't see much use anymore), and a 360. Now that the price has dropped, I'm also looking at the PS3. Anyway, I love my 360. I love it a lot. It has given me a ton of great experiences. Hell, I honestly probably spend more time gaming on it than I do on my PC. But I still maintain my PC for one reason. First person shooters. There are a number of reasons for this, but three of them are paramount.

First, I can't stand playing FPS's with a controller. I grew up on Quake 2 and Unreal Tournament Instagib. While most FPS games these days aren't quite as fast paced or twitch-based as those older games, they still require snap reflexes and quick movement. Call of Duty in particular. I've played both the PC version (obviously) and the 360 version, and the latter was nothing short of aggravating to me. It's not even that I'm bad with a controller... I can hold my own. It just feels so counter-intuitive. Also, the method of compensation, auto-aim, simply feels cheap to me. Give me a game where I can use keyboard and mouse to play against someone using a controller with auto-aim and I'll beat them so hard they'll swear I was hacking... even though they're the one getting help from the computer. And I'm pretty good, but I'm nowhere near a high-tier PC gamer.

Second, server choices (see, this all is related). I've been playing a lot of the first Modern Warfare lately, mostly to get ready for the second. Even though there are thousands of servers out there, I find myself playing on like one of three servers. Why? I like the size of the player limit (around 20-30), I like that they run a single game mode (hardcore team deathmatch), I like that they don't allow martyrdom, I like the fact that they're almost never empty, and I like the fact that the players and admins aren't dicks. There's also no guesswork involved. I start the game, I look at the list, I see one of the servers, I join it. Done. I know exactly what kind of game is waiting for me and what kind of people I'm going to play. Oh, and I didn't mention that I KNOW my ping will stay very low, so I won't have a laggy ass game.

Finally, user made content. If you're here and you know who I am, you probably know why this is such a big deal to me. Not only do I love creating custom content, but I love playing it. When you've beaten the game and played every multiplayer map on every game mode 15 times, you know that you can just look to the community and find a bunch of new maps waiting for you. Then when that's boring, download a mod and completely change the game. Hell, Oblivion was my go to game for my entire 15 month deployment to Iraq and it doesn't even have multiplayer. But it sure as hell has mods. The same thing is happening with Fallout 3. A year later and I'm still very much into it. Mods are an important part of making a game last.

So with the recent gimping of MW2's multiplayer structure, two of my three reasons for buying an FPS on the PC are gone. What's funny is that, technically I fit into Infinity Ward's supposed target group. I'm not in a clan, I don't play competitively, I don't play that often (I've still yet to hit rank 55 in the original), and I don't plan on making any mods or maps for this game. Yet I'm still pissed as hell at the implementation of IWNet and the matchmaking that comes with it. As stated, I have a 360 that I love very much. One of my favorite games on it is Red Faction Guerilla. One of the things I hate the most about that game is the damn matchmaking system. With it, games are unreliable at best and totally unplayable at worst. Not to mention the maximum limit of 16 players. But of course, after about 8 the lag gets worse the closer you get to that magic 16. The multiplayer is otherwise a blast, so I deal with it, but it could be so much better.

IW claimed in a (rather insulting) interview that they received complaints from people that found the server process too hard, the cheaters too many, or the players they faced too good. This is their supposed reason for introducing the new system. I'm not buying it. What I think it boils down to is Activision's greedy attitude forcing IW to milk its customers for the inevitable DLC. With custom content and the dedicated servers that can run it, PC players don't have much reason to buy DLC. As a result, this content has traditionally been free on the PC. Anyone remember Unreal Tournament's bonus packs? Those were the days. But now games are developed with DLC in mind. Just a way to get some more money from the people that already bought your product.

Don't get me wrong, DLC is fine for certain things... extra songs in Rock Band, for example. But things like the versus mode for Resident Evil 5 (which was obviously already on the disc) are ridiculous. I'm not even saying that map packs aren't good candidates for paid DLC. I just don't think it's worth it to force your PC players to adopt a totally different and decidedly worse way of doing things just so you can enforce DLC they might not even want.

But I would venture as far to say that there is an even larger, more sinister agenda. To anyone with half a brain, the choices made and the reasons stated just don't make a lot of sense. Unless you want to stop development for a platform altogether. It almost seems like Activision or Infinity Ward are trying to create a situation that gives them an excuse to do just that. Combined with the established lack of any collector's editions and a ten dollar (in the US) price raise the recent controversy only serves to drive sales down and piracy up. So don't be surprised when MW3 is announced for everything but the PC because MW2 sold poorly and was one of the most pirated games of all time. Although unconfirmed, it's not hard to believe the initial reports of thousands of cancelled preorders. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy, and one that will save the companies money on developing for the platform that brings in the least amount of money.

However, even though MW2 is sure to be an excellent game marred by a functional-but-handicapped multiplayer component, I'm not overly upset about the game itself. I'm worried about the implications of this happening with such a highly anticipated title. This behavior sets an example throughout the gaming community that it's okay and even profitable to treat your customers like this. It will possibly spread to the consoles too... although, if you really think about it, it already has. They've had no dedicated servers and paid-for DLC forever. The PC platform is simply being brought to the same level which, in my opinion, is lower and worse for gamers overall. Let's not forget, there really isn't any reason why console gamers couldn't utilize dedicated servers. Developers just don't want to implement them. Or maybe they can't, I'm not sure about the Live/PSN policies. But technologically speaking, it's possible.

The truth is, I don't blame Infinity Ward in most of this. I'm sure most of the decisions came from Activision. Google the name Bobby Kotick if you don't know what I'm talking about. IW certainly isn't totally innocent in my book, though. They went on record in September saying that PC multiplayer was not going to change. Considering the details that have been released about IWNet, I think it's fair to assume the service has been in development for at least a couple of months... so making that statement was a flat out lie. Not to mention the first official response put out that I referenced above. I also believe this all wasn't meant to be released... I think it was supposed to be a nice little "surprise" for gamers once they had already bought it. I don't have proof, so I can't really call them on it. Who knows, maybe FourZeroTwo (IW's Community Manager and all around PR guy) was being compassionate by going against his directives when he told us.

Anyway, to wrap this up, I just hope that I'm wrong and that this is an isolated incident. I love gaming, but I love PC gaming the most. The bad stuff that happens to PC gamers will inevitable end up being the bad stuff that happens to console gamers. Kotick already said he wishes he could charge $100 for all his company's games... and not just on the PC. Let's hope the industry never reaches that point.

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4 August 2009 - The goings on.

I've made fairly lengthy post on the map site about a number of things, ranging from an upcoming bedrooms3 update to some changes I made to the site. It's all been said over there, so I'm not going to waste any more of our time talking about it here.

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8 July 2009 - Website + beer = whoops

bedrooms3: Bite Size (View Larger)Made a post on the mapping site regarding my sorry excuse for a public map release. I've given Bite Size the proper treatment with a multi-sentence description, developmental shots, and a new video (with another one on the way... maybe). You can check all that out at the link above. I'm also working on spreading the map through some other map hosting sites, but I've run into issues on each one.

Oh, and here's the final poster with the smaller characters.

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5 July 2009 - bedrooms3: Bite Size is out!

It's out! Go get it. I'll have some more videos up soon.

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