Monday, 3 August 2015

Koh Zom Bhi

It's not a Full Moon Party without invasive species, toxic waste, and zombification.
Chug! Chug! Chug!

This is the sixth map. Half way. So far, several people have remarked that they are unaware of my 'end goal'. Although it's pretty clear in my mind, this is not the first time outcomes which I thought speak for themselves aren't obvious to others.

Unimpressed with representations of East Asia in video games, my aim is a series of twelve mini scenes or 'maps' in which to wander and play. Each is based on a different place in East or South East Asia, with lots of creative liberty added. This should express the breadth of the region, or at least my shallow stereotype of it. The bar is not particularly high. Temples to gorges to islands beats copies of NYC Chinatown.

To do this, I use Valve's Source Engine and game assets from Half Life 2 through Episodes 1 and 2. Half Life 2's assets are subtly geared towards locales in a dystopic Eastern Europe. My added twist is to appropriate these - without modification - to create Asia. Not the same as Hokusai adapting the Western technique of perspective but, I'd like to think, along the same lines.

BanGenKei is a portmanteau of the Cantonese, Mandarin, and Japanese words for 'Half Life'. (Hangengo, Bànshuāiqí, Bun3Seoi1Kei4, 半衰期)

It also means owning my heritage, re-establishing my severed connection with the computing discipline, and extending hours of mirth with the gravity gun.

A more practical goal is to include in my creative portfolio a year-long game creation project, broken up into mini-tasks. Small steps are essential as my unfamiliarity with the tools, and my innate impatience, precludes a single grand project.

That said, making Koh Zom Bhi has been frustrating as my expectations push against the limitations of the aging Source Engine. Generating island terrain is clumsy and hogs the compiler. NPCs fall through physics boxes that float on water, forcing me to use a glass-bottom ferry to transport my antlion friends, instead of an airboat trailer. This is hardly the fault of the programmers, as they did not implement such features in their own game. It could have been so much cooler. And yet...

I'll let the result speak for itself.

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