Steam Interfaces Are Ruining Everything
By Dwip November 17, 2009, 5:42 am Comments (2) RSS Feed for this post

With a nod towards this blog, which has nothing whatsoever to do with anything but has the coolest title ever.

A couple of interface quirks I’d like to talk about for a bit here.  Two of them are quite brief:

1. Dear GIMP people. I would enjoy using your program more if it included such basic features as line tools and basic shape drawing.  Please also note that if you have to resort to the level of elitist sarcasm shown in this tutorial (official, no less), you have failed.  On that same note, I would enjoy using your program more if your user interface didn’t suck the good suck, but let’s stick with things that are changable, here.

2. I had the misfortune earlier tonight to need to check something in Blender. For those of you who haven’t had that same misfortune, let me advance to you the idea that what you should do, right now, before you keep reading, is fall to your knees and thank God that you’ve never had anything to do with this train wreck of a program.  It’s every bit of that bad.  3D modeling program UI has always been on what is politely termed the “special” side, but Blender takes this to previously unseen levels, so that the prerequisite for even the most simple tasks involves some bronze knife waving, and probably some ritual goat sacrifices and smearing yourself with its blood to perform the arcane rituals necessary to, say, open a menu.

In my case, I needed to see how a texture mapped to a model, and then export the map to an image file.  This is something Blender is able to do, except when you have the default options checked.  It turns out that if you have the option checked to insert the name of the object into the filename for the image file, what you get isn’t a tga file like it ought to give you.  What you actually get is some kind of empty non-file, which doesn’t contain anything whatsoever, let alone the information you want.

Spent about an hour on that one.  It was somewhat less fun than you may think.

Shifting gears somewhat, I haven’t talked about this much on the blog, but it turns out that Civ 4 is actually pretty editable, assuming you don’t mind digging through XML, don’t mind some trial and error, and are ok with doing some simple dds editing.  Since I’m that guy, no problem.  It’s not what I’d call a particularly polished editing platform, but it does tend to work more often than not.

One thing, however, has me facepalming.  You may remember, in days of yore, previous Civ games having culture-specific music.  Nice, immersive, etc, etc.  In Civ 4, OTOH, they set it up by era, with one soundtrack for every culture depending on era.  Which isn’t so bad in the first two eras, because they evenly split up the music between cultures.  It’s not perfect, but it kind of works.  And…then they got lazy.  Middle ages?  It’s all Christian chants.  20 tracks worth.  Renaissance? 16 tracks of Bach backed up some Mozart and a couple other guys.  Industrial? Bach, Brahms, and Dvorak.  I like strings as much as the next guy, but not when I’m trying to play as China, or Mali, or the Aztecs, or, you know, most of the civs in the game.  Modern era’s a bit better, but not by much.

Which would be ok if you could mod it, and since they added civ-specific unit art in Beyond the Sword, you’d think you could, only not.  Civ-specific diplo music?  Sure.  Messing with the soundtrack?  Not so much.  OTOH, they went to the trouble of importing a bunch of Civ 3 music and whatnot, only to…not use it at all.

WTF, Firaxis?  WTF?

Computer Games - Civilization Series, Random and Ravings, Tech Comments (2) Trackback URL for this post RSS Feed for this post
Comments on Steam Interfaces Are Ruining Everything
avatar Comment by Samson #1
November 18, 2009 at 5:22 am

GIMP isn’t so bad. At least you can work with it and produce results.

For simpler dds editing, I highly recommend you grab Paint.NET and have fun. Doesn’t do normal maps, but it’s far easier to do real editing with and will save in pretty much any image format you might need. One can always make GIMP do the normal maps with the plugin for that.

However, let me just say that your description of Blender is about as right on as right on gets. Absolutely horrid UI. It makes even such disasters as NWN look like pure gold. It’s probably why I’ve never been able to do anything more complex than importing a nif to edit collision vertices. And yes, arcane rituals come to mind even for that. Forget trying to actually build something from scratch with it. Hell, that you even found the UV editing stuff means you’ve unearthed one of it’s dark secrets few know of. Or maybe they do, and it’s like Scientology. You’re forbidden to discuss it with outsiders :)

avatar Comment by Dwip #2
November 18, 2009 at 5:28 am

I’ve already said too much…

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