Left 4 Dead 2 Censorship

By Jake Edwards | Thursday, October 29th, 2009 | Permalink | 1 Comment

A sample of the blood files for L4D2, original versions vs. Aus versions.

Comparison of Blood

I will add some more information to this post when I get a chance.

If you want to help Australia on its way to an R18+ rating, visit the following website:

Grow Up Australia

Be sure to sign the petition to show your support!

What do Google Picasa 3.5 and TF2 have in common?

By Jake Edwards | Thursday, September 24th, 2009 | Permalink | No Comments

While Google Picasa Web Albums has had facial recognition in-built for a while now, I knew it wouldn’t be too much longer before the Picasa desktop software was also updated with that feature.

Google finally released the long awaited, facial recognition update for Picasa (Google’s version of photo editing software), to version 3.5.

Along with this update comes the aforementioned facial recognition capabilities; the ability to have faces automatically recognized and identified in the photos you take. This lets you sort photos by who is in them as opposed to tags or file names. Don’t be alarmed; the results arn’t sent to some central facial recognition database! It’s kept purely on your computer for your benefit of photo classification.

Now to how TF2 comes into the picture (pun intended ;)). So, being an avid gamer, and having an online Game Photo Album, I tend to take a lot of in-game screenshots, which I organize through Picasa. So, Picasa begins scanning for ‘faces’ … and low and behold, the characters in the games are being identified! I found this quite amusing ūüôā

Picasa 3.5: Face Recognition

And so, while the scanning is only at 10%, I have played Medic class at least 46 times… The engineer with the two different poses (on the right) wasn’t picked up as the engineer; but I soon added both the photos under his name.

Interestingly, the 46 Medic photos were all of the same face pose. This was because they were from all the final scoreboard screenshots; an option in TF2 to always take a screenshot of the final match scores.

Picasa 3.5: Face Recognition

And the time it has taken me so far to write this post has allowed Picasa to reach 16% of the way through scanning my photo collection. The engineer category now provides substantially more entertaining results ūüôā

Picasa 3.5: Face Recognition

You can download Picasa 3.5 here.

Audiosurf – Song Ratings

By Jake Edwards | Saturday, September 12th, 2009 | Permalink | No Comments

Released mid-Feburary of last year (2008), Audiosurf is still one of the most popular games which utilizes the music as the ‘track’, using the song as the soul of the game.

For only $10 this game is ¬†great way to enjoy your music collection; pushing the boundaries of a new musical experience — immersed within a rich 3d (almost psychedelic) environment. You will find some of yours song produce much more relaxed ‘tracks’ to play on, while some louder rock tracks will provide you quite a challenge…

It is on that aspect that I propose to music stores to add a new criteria to online song purchases… an Audiosurf rating, ASR for short. While some websites list some of the ‘best’, none actually let you purchase the track and find try it out yourself. A dedicated website should be set up to associate these ratings with songs. Online music stores can use an API to obtain the latest ranking (possible a star based system) for a song in particular — an average of tracks could provide a album ranking.¬†For example, the “Windows XP Setup Sound” (played during the initial setting up of your computer) is actually not a bad Audiosurf track compared to some others I have tried… Although I doubt a music store would be able to sell such a song; it would at least give people the¬†opportunity¬†to try out great Audiosurf rides.

Anyway… I’m heading back to my song now that I’ve posted my thoughts of the day.¬†You can read more about Audiosurf¬†here or on the game’s website,¬†www.audio-surf.com.

Happy surfing ūüôā

Game Photo Album

By Jake Edwards | Monday, June 8th, 2009 | Permalink | No Comments

Although it has been around since the conception of this site, the Shadow Productions: Game Photo Album hasn’t really had much ‘show’ on the main Shadow Productions website apart from a sly link on the sidebar. Now, it is displayed more prominently on the main page, with both a random sample of pictures as well as some of the top rated pictures. Further, a ‘View more…‘ link for those interested.

Shadow Productions: Game Photo Album

The albums on the photo gallery are made up of screenshots taken while playing various games including Team Fortress 2, Garry’s Mod, Half-Life 2 and Goldeneye: Source. All the photos are managed using Coppermine¬†Gallery which allows for easy management of my photos and utilities for ratings and comments on a per-photo basis.

Team Fortress 2 Left 4 Dead
Garry's Mod Goldeneye: Source

The photo album can be found at http://photos.shadowsplace.net. Enjoy! ūüėÄ

Super Mario Bros. meets Kumikyoku Nico Nico Douga

By Jake Edwards | Monday, August 18th, 2008 | Permalink | No Comments

Epic…

~8:40… Lol

Steam – Community Downtime

By Jake Edwards | Sunday, June 29th, 2008 | Permalink | No Comments

Steam had some connection and networking issues today after about 750,000 users were disconnected and over 1 million users lost access to the friends services provided by Steam Community.

The connection went down at 2:15 am (GMT -8) with no reports or updates until after the issue had been resolved, about 2 hours later. The following is taken from the Steam forum thread describing the downtime issue:

Sorry for the inconvenience, we had a networking issue that was affecting about 1/8th of our users. The problem should be resolved now.

The problem wasn’t detected and fixed as quickly as it should have been due to some monitoring systems failing, we’ll be taking steps to ensure that doesn’t happen in the future.

jmccaskey: Steam Issues: Connection to Steam cannot be Made

The interesting this is that ‘jmccaskey’ says the issue only affected 1/8th users however the stats graph on Valve’s/Steam’s website says otherwise. The screenshot above clearly shows that no users whatsoever were online during the downtime.

Either way, its back online now and connection has been restored. Game time!

Make Me a Portal

By Jake Edwards | Sunday, June 22nd, 2008 | Permalink | 1 Comment

While looking for something else to do during Team Fortress’s hype period¬†I was watching tv and it seems Channel 7 have introduced their version of ‘Next Top Model’, Make me a Supermodel.

During the advertisement on TV I noticed something a little odd, the logo as seen in the picture below is a replica of the Aperture Laboratories logo from Valve’s Portal. I know apertures + photography + models makes sense but I thought it was an interesting coincidence that both companies represented ‘Aperture’ with the same design.

They may be stuck in the enrichment centre forever!

I’m not announcing a conspiracy or anything, although I should really warn any contestants on their show – they may be in for a enrichment centre special. I knew GLaDOS¬†was behind Channel 7. It made me laugh =D.

— Shadow

Team Fortress 2 – Pyros, Thumbs down… again

By Jake Edwards | Sunday, June 22nd, 2008 | Permalink | No Comments

You would think they would have learnt the first time.

I dislike being nasty towards Valve, especially when they did originally create Team Fortress and the Orange Box to be a milestone in gaming history. However, you would expect them to put some thought into how releasing their ‘Team Fortress Achievement Packs’ may affect game play for the rest of the world.

As posted previously I described how the Medic achievement pack affected game play on all servers, influencing the player’s choice of class to create, saturating a team with Medics unbalancing the game and creating strategy problems. The exact same has happened with the Pyro achievement pack. Since its release, players are choosing to be Pyro over any other class regardless of the 10 that are already distributed throughout the same server.

This is just one problem. Many other factors contribute to and amplify it. This is something Valve failed to take into consideration when releasing achievement packs. One significant factor is the release new ‘weapons’ for just a single class. This just creates an unbalanced game. Why should someone who ‘grinded’ the achievements and obtain all the new weaponry (in most cases considerably stronger than its predecessors) always dominate and win against those who prefer to gain achievements genuinely? It is an unfair advantage that should have been noticed by Valve after they released the Medic’s achievement packs.

You would think that the choices Valve have made for Team Fortress 2 have already affected the game enough however they also decided a ‘Free Team Fortress 2 Weekend’. Oh, this just makes my day. Now the servers are full of Pyros with overpowered weapons, and with all¬†newbie’s controlling them. Thank god I will only have to endure the newbie problem for a weekend.

The Solution: I’m not going to say how stupid¬†Valve’s decisions are¬†and then not¬†provide any plausible solutions to this madness. To begin, it’s not like Team Fortress 2 Achievements have never existed before, just take the example of when the game was first released. There were 17 achievements which did not affect game balancing. The achievements although requiring you to be a certain class in some situations, all had something in common. There was an achievement for all classes. Not a pack of about 30 achievements for one class. That is the point that Valve missed completely when designing these new achievements packs. The achievements should be released progressively for all classes. This creates an even distribution of classes throughout servers keeping the game in balance and experienced players happy at the same time.

As for the new weapons, it would be more appropriate to ensure that all players are on an even footing. New weapons should be released progressively like the achievements. If for example, five achievements were released at one time for each class and then rewarded with a weapon unlock at the end of each five achievement milestone, it would ensure a much more even game play. Each weapon of course would need to be balanced in strengths and weaknesses to maintain equilibrium between the experienced and the not so experienced. Previously Team Fortress 2 exemplified this quality before the achievement pack updates.

Hopefully Valve will see the problems they are creating after this latest release. Meanwhile, the Pyro ‚Äėachievement hype’ will continue for a few weeks – I will need to find another game in the meantime.

— Shadow

Team Fortress 2 – Medics, Thumbs Down

By Jake Edwards | Sunday, May 11th, 2008 | Permalink | No Comments

What is going on Valve!

Seems the latest Team Fortress 2 update (Apr 29) has included 39 new medic achievements. That’s all well and good however the achievement system generally should contain achievements that¬†don’t affect game play.

In the past week across all the servers I have played on, there is an extreme concentration of ‘Medic’ classes on both teams. Why? Because they want the ‘achievements’. There is always a group of players that will stand aside from the main objective of each match ‘grinding’ [purposely] fulfilling the criteria for the achievements. Hold on a moment. They are meant to be¬†achievements – as in a ‘milestone’ (pun intended) of skill and experience. This means not something achieved in set-up circumstances!
When I play as a medic it provides me with a proper reward when I fulfil one of the achievements knowing that I didn’t obtain it because I could – that I believe denotes a good player.

Genuine players who specialise in the Medic class are put off by this ‘class spam’. I know of an experienced player who finds playing as a medic these days futile as there are already 10 medics on one team. “A lot of them [medics] are just idiots, so many people are being medic just because they can get unlocks” Malky. These new medic achievements don’t provide any benefit to the game play instead causing players annoyance.

Until Valve release more items and achievements to be unlocked for all classes, the game will definitely present itself with a class bias. This¬†deters real, genuine medics and disappoints other players who would just like a¬†‘classic’ team fortress 2¬†game – without the added extras.

Steam: In-Game Name Hack

By Jake Edwards | Sunday, April 13th, 2008 | Permalink | 8 Comments

Every wanted to be playing… ‘Nothing’? Now you can with this small hack. Just follow the steps below to be on your way to in-game name falsification!

  1. Firstly, open Steam. Press Add non-steam game…
  2. Browse your computer for a simple exe which you can stand running in the background. For example, notepad or maybe even an application that runs in the tray.Important: This application will need to be run while you want the name displayed.
  3. The program you selected will now be in your steam game list. Now to start the falsification!
    Right click the program and press Properties
  4. Change the first text box to anything you like. (Make sure the target and start in are left the same)
    E.g. “Your Mum” or “Nothing” (without the quotes). Press OK.
  5. Now run the program. Your steam name will be classified as ‘In non steam game’ but underneath will be the text you¬†chose in step 4.
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