Terminus Machina intro cinematic. WARNING: Not for the faint of heart or the willfully ignorant of mind. Contains scenes of extreme reality.
Hex Gen Logo 2.0
Based on input over the past few weeks I’ve decided to ahead with the limited release of the proof-of-concept demo* of Terminus Machina to a group of selected testers. Those who have contributed to the mod in some fashion — content or donation wise — will be at the top of the list for potential recpients. Again, this release will be fairly rough, one mostly complete city section with three or four sub-areas and a few missions. But I feel it is necessary to get feedback on the multitude of new features and gameplay modifications before continuing much further; the foundation needs to solid before I start layering levels, investing copious amounts of time, mine and others, to make sure we’re not wasting it. On the positive side, the length of the demo may not be great however I’ve tried to stretch its “width” as much as possible, in keeping with the legacy of DX. “An inch wide, a mile deep,” was it? Every skill has its own set of solutions for each objective, and thus testers are encouraged to replay choosing different skillsets, as many options, abilities and even items will only be available with certain skills. Most of the items will have to be constructed from the junk you find, the detritus of a shipwrecked civilization so to speak, and each skill — from “circuit breaking” to “mechanics” to “biohacking” to “Improvised Explosive Devices” will factor in to what uses you can make of the garbage-strewn street. Again, this playable demo will *not* be up for official release yet. However if you’re interested please send a message or comment on this post. I will begin sending out the demos ASAP as soon as I can tie up a few last loose ends, showstopping bugs, and sort out a working installation method. Thanks again to all gracious contributors who’ve blown a weekend working on Terminus Machina that could’ve been spent trying to piece together the Illuminati’s next move in the EU SNAFU or getting wasted at the nearest pub with the mates. Here is the latest by our star modeler, Sinking. Introducing the IED: [center]
”The IED (Improvised Explosive Device). This lo-tek ammonium nitrate bomb is the bane of occupying militaries and police state legbreakers everywhere. Cooked up from household chemicals and pirated copies of the Anarchist’s Cookbook, jerryrigged with a discarded smartphone as a triggering device. Hacktivists are advised to use a jailbroken cell phone for remote detonation, since all major-carrier calls may be monitored for your inconvenience and may result in capture and interrogation by TMT. (Transcranial Magnetic Torture device)” And here we have the new Shenzhen-smog-red skybox, that adds just the right tinge of cyberpunk dystopia to near-future San Francisco after the full consequence of the bank-bailout/heist hits in the form of austerity measures. Full of economic destruction, sweatshops, and industrial waste dumping:
(*I suppose we can call this a pre-alpha but then we’ll start getting Jesuitical with the semantics).
Here is a little teaser/promo/recruitment video of what I’ve managed to hammer out thus far in the game / interactive experience I’m tentatively calling Terminus Machina. It is a Deus Ex total conversion (conversion still in progress, of course!). Voice credits to GR (and myself).
I’m definitely in need of anyone who can contribute anything, including voice acting and music. Full disclosure: I don’t have any lofty goals of riches and unseating EA or anything with this project, the main thing for me first is to have fun, make something I’d like to experience myself, and learn while doing it. Let’s steal fire from the gods baby!
So here you’re this “badass hacker dude”, but you’re starving now cause you’re homeless, jobless, and being 1337 in this part of town doesn’t pay bills. So your first mission is to find, beg for, or take food by force before you die of starvation (your health meter gradually depletes). I guess one of the big things I want to get across here is the feeling of true impoverishment and desperation which I haven’t really seen in any games I’ve played. The problem I tend to get in these FPS RPGs is having way *too much* stuff to fit into your inventory with like fifty rocket launchers, demigod-level upgraydz and a king’s feast of food by the time I’m halfway through. And not desperation just like seeing some people in ripped jeans with sooty faces while you continue through the theme park ride of the scripted experience, but actually being pissed on, experiencing the humiliation of having to go around begging to people who want nothing to do with you, and still getting nowhere. Feeling like all the doors are closed on you and there’s no way out. To be pressured into doing things you regret later out of survival’s sake. Pulling a weapon on someone over something small as a piece of bread. That feeling of despair, hopelessness and… worthlessness. I’m thinking of removing the omnipresent savegame ability just to make it more difficult to say no to the “bad guy” choice in the dialog tree. I don’t want it to just be another fun but empty timewaster (we’ve got enough billions of hours spent in Facebook et. al. and their “social games”) but also relevant to myself and the Time, and with hordes of struggling immigrants and former middle classers flowing into the classrooms, countless friends descending below the economic waves along with others in Greece and elsewhere, I think I’m getting there.
As a side note, I don’t buy into the group-selection pop-evo-psychology riff that we are naturally inclined to play games because they worked as a distraction in state-sized societies when the famine was kicking into high gear to prevent chaos and societal collapse, a sort of Darwinian hunger-game sine-qua-non. I believe games go far deeper than that, and can really edify, teach, and explore realms of experience not possible in other mediums. A great game can reach you in ways even books sometimes can’t because of the fundamental degree of passivity inherent in the book experience. Not that most games ever reach that quality, but they can certainly try.
I’ve been crash coursing (re-crash coursing in many cases) a plethora of 2d, 3d, and audio art production flagships and from Photoshop to Milkshape to Ableton Live, and I think my hard drive is coming down with an Atlas complex. As I dump yet another planet-sized installshield upon its scant free megabytes, Western Digital screams at me in shrill frame-rate drops, conspires insurrectionist general protection faults with my aging GeForce 9800 who’s retirement age I have raised indefinitely that I might squeeze it for every last polygon I can, grinding its cooling fan’s ball bearings to an arthritic dust before tossing it into the dustbin of obsolete rendering technology. If ever I was to have the PRE-ORDER NOW!! bonus documentary of this… project, it would be prefaced with this way Bigendian aphorism, “Whatever you do, because you are an artist, will bring you to the next thing of your own…”
After snorting twenty thousand lines of paleoware code, I’m fully object disoriented. I’m starting to project spatters of vertices onto the contours of household objects: [i]that vase could be extruded pat from a toroid. That post-rocker douche’s cubist bangs would be an easy low-poly mesh, need less triangles than the number of useless college classes he’s retaken.[/i] Hm, would this wanna-be Banksy’s cinderblock graffiti smeared on the ribcage of this abandoned publishing house tile in two cardinal directions to something greater? Or should we go one-hit-wonder decal?</i> Mistaking territory for map is par for the course I suppose. Though fascinatingly enough, as opposed to a Baudrillardian break with reality into an abstract hall of anisotropic, hypergamified mirrors, I’ve been paradoxically [i]more[/i] connected to teh meatspace than before as I’ve been digging deeper into development. GR and I, who have the tendency to “cocoon” from reality – not uncommon to the sort of misanthropic techno-nerd this board seems to attract – have been venturing out weekly-to-biweekly on extended whole-day urban journeys, ostensibly for the purpose of [strike] stealing souls through our wide-angle lenses[/strike] reaping reference photos and texture bases for the game’s various necessary assets. We would never have encountered, for example, the mysterious and prolific Honolulu street artiste’s various tour de forces spanning the vertical surfaces of strip mall rears and cannery-turned-locovore hydroponics wholesalers. His Harry Potterized rendition of Kamehameha battling a rival chief in a two-floor storm of green lightning tapped into a deep pool of mana, almost made you, world-wearied adult, believe in magic for a second. Or how about the stochastic stumble into the Saint Patrick’s Day block party brimming with chips, baileys and the clan-unification of trad-Celt neohippy college chicks bagpiping and fiddling away and fratty boys slurpin Irish car bombs by the dozen? Or the discovery (much to GR’s delight) of a well-hidden, family owned Nepalese boutique showcasing neon batik and the chicest naturepunk fare this side of the Himalayas? It’s increasingly challenging to hit that pitch of serendipity in the compartmentalized matrix of for-profit personal data feeder-tubes that we so innocently call “social media”, “search”, and “recommendation engines”. Which may be why the relatively disintermediated info-ecosystem of the forum has been making a comeback despite all attempts by the Master Node owners to de-net-neutralize the open web and create a two-tiered internet “Data Apartheid” of sorts. Anyway, I think the meta-lesson I think here is this: Having excuses is the key to life- the trick is coming up with excuses to get [i]into[/i] rather than out of things.*
Some elevator-pitchy blurbage I’m working on:
Take on the role of an operative in the Hex Gen network, a decentralized movement of hacktivists resisting the economic pillaging visited by the unholy alliances of Big Tech and Big Finance, who have their fingers in every pie on the planet from government to corporation, and are happy to watch it burn.
The year is… shit, what year is it again? Let me check my dVice. Right, 2028. The year is 2028. The much mythologized technological singularity has reached critical mass, but instead of AI’s solving the world’s problems, we’ve just got exponential growth of computer-based financial fraud, super-drone Police States and are encroaching on the event horizon of a 80% global unemployment rate as machines eclipse the spectrum of human capabilities. That’s right, instead of the Terminators terminating your life, they just took your job and demoted your air-conditioning-and-lattes lifestyle to something between a Chinese sweatshop and the emaciated destitution of those starving African kids you felt sorry for and donated to offhandedly when you purchased your latte in said air conditioning. But don’t feel bad, ¾ of the United States has found themselves flushed down the toilet bowl of obsolescence and dumped, penniless, into this astounding world of the future called Abject Poverty, and will be happy to commiserate, or at least steal your last can of pork and beans at gunpoint.
Oh, yeah, guess I failed to mention that there’s a whole heavenly host of surveillance cameras, paramilitary drones, and robotic soldiers swarming almost every inch of city on the planet since governments were forced to outsource police, fire departments, garbage pickup to the banks and corporations that hollowed them out. And, well, let’s just say after the stunts you’ve pulled, you’re kind of “wanted”, to put it lightly. In reality it’s closer to, “They will eviscerate your body and preserve your brainmeat’s neurological processes long enough to sim-torture your consciousness till it’s a molten sub-human heap. then soak up all that succulent intel as it spills out of your wet ware like bacon grease in a frying pan.” So, really, do try not to get caught, k? Here’s a cyanide pill. Party-favor, from a friend to a friend.
You are starving and need to find some food to eat. There’s no Costco for you to mosy on down and cash in your federally allotted foodstamps. The dollar bubble has burst, the federal fiat shopping spree has bought its last vote. The welfare state is dead, long live post-post-industrial feudalism. No more cushy cubicle safety net jobs pushing pixels, shuffling papers, and wasting time playing Angry Hamsters while you clock out a fat meal ticket + benefits. You want food? You either grow it yourself, make a good or provide a service of value to trade for it, or take it by force.
You are Silver Spook, an up-and-coming member of Generation Hex, AKA Hex Gen, a hacktivist group dedicated to bringing down the Big Brother Police State Plutocracy that runs the world with a digital fist, black-hat for-profit criminal hacking, the lulz, and all of the above, depending on who you ask. That’s right, you are one 1337 hfucking badass who can slice through a megabank’s hi-frequency trading algos like a ninja sword through hummus-cake. Mmm, hummus cake. Oh, right, almost forgot, you’re jobless, homeless, haven’t eaten in days, and are literally dying of starvation. The badass Matrix routine will have to wait.
*Warning! Rant. [rant] If I may be allowed to lapse into a binary and hamfistedly professorial lecture (I am a teacher after all), these are exactly the two types of people in the world. Those who devote the majority of their brief lives coming up with excuses – shark lawyers who defend the riches of tyrants by excusing their atrocities and ensuring that every hostile takeover comes pennies on the dollar and every payout goes dollars on the penny, ensuring the only “singularity” that grows “nearer”: the singularity of wealth inequality. Big-Game marketers**, who also defend the fortunes of the abominably rich as they dedicate their lives to spinning up excuses for why you need things you already have or which have no value, such as the equally atrocious Transformers 6. Why you MUST HAVE that new model of scarf or iPad that’s bathed in the blood of those whose Odds Are Not In Their Favor. And the retardedly rich Meths whom they work for, who must be the greatest excuse-makers of all time, justifying the injustifiable of why they need more than anyone could ever want knowing it’s stolen endlessly from the tables of families who, unlike theirs, are functional enough to exist happily if they weren’t being stripmined into a Greco-Spanish austerity wasteland by those for whom no place value of zeroes will ever be enough. I can’t imagine it, every minute of every day, having to drown reality in baroque webs of excuses, pharmaceuticals and car-crash reality TV. Ironically enough, this apologistic backwards-rationalizing starts them into these places: not many people want to airbrush triple-stacked GMOtastic bacon double cheeseburgers or wade into the dark pool of malicious credit default swaps on Greece, but a fat meal ticket becomes the first excuse in a long chain. Then you have the people who come up with excuses to get into things. Artists, who need to constantly defend to their frowning, disowning Asian tigermommas why they ever chose the path of destitution and meaning over SATs and in-season dog-strollers. Philanthropists, who need to come up with triplicate hall-passes for their trustafarian spawn and accounting armies why cash-filled Matson ships are sailing in from the Caymans and this all had better be itemizable and/or the focus group had better project a net gain in PR value. Generally, people who do shit that’s frowned upon. And why is it frowned upon? Probably because the people in the power position to be frowning are all the weak assholes who made excuses for why they didn’t do what they knew was right and regret it. But sophistry aside I guess the reality is there aren’t really two discrete mutually exclusive sets but rather that we each engage in more of one than another in varying degrees, day by day, decision by decision.
**Apologies to the lawyers/marketers. I’m referring to a fairly specific subset, one I’ve had the extreme displeasure of dealing with in the past.