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Games Entertainment

The Making of Black & White 130

Chris writes "GameSpot has posted a feature story that details the entire development process for Peter Molyneux's new PC game Black & White. There are a lot of quotes from Molyneux as he takes you through the whole three years they spent making the game. A lot of interesting stuff about the philosophical underpinnings of how the game judges you good or evil."
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The Making of Black & White

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  • For proof you've got to read the save-and-load game feature here [zdnet.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward
    so remember populous? the game black and white copies...anyways, in that game it was even worse all you did was flatten the ground...that's it, make the ground flat, then people build on the flat ground, you get more power, make more ground flat, get more power make more ground flat, do this for many mind numbing hours, then call armageddon and have a big war, guy with most flat land wins...it was thrilling, glad to see the designers changed the flat land thing into wood. I consider this to be like populous 3 i guess, i think the last one was 2...ok i guess pull a simcity and call it "Populous 2001: now with magical forest instead of flat land!".
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Can you imagine a beowulf cluster of evil gods???

  • The biggest problem is that I don't have the desk space for a mouse, I've got a trackball. I have yet to be able to do the heal gesture with it; downright impossible.

    However, the game's so damn addicting I'm thinking of going and buying one of those touchsense mouses today and somehow making space on my desk. =)
  • I haven't gotten to play Black & White yet, (I'd be surprised if it worked under Wine) but it sounds like an old concept. Actually, it reminds me a lot of Populous.

    What I'd really like to see is a good remake of Masters of Magic. Now *there* was an innovative game. What a wonderful magic system!
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [ncsu.edu].
  • With a population of 126000 I'm not sure Guildford qualifies for the description "tiny village".
  • However, you may have better luck if you use an actual XOR operator, like ^, instead of my sadly precaffienated |.


  • I've played it for 17 hours without a single crash.

    Sort your system out first, blame the game later..

  • Sorry to say that there isn't a linux port yet. I played it on a friend's computer, and it really was a good time to play. Truly one of the few orgianl titles you'll see in the US game market that's just plasterd with dumb FPS and RTS games.

    Hope if gets open-sorced too, or to have someone port it and publish commercially. As soon as it's avalible. I'm all over it like flies one poop.

    Just so I say it publiclly though, great game, and I'll be the first, or probably on of the first few hundred thousand, that will get it when it's for my favorite os :-)
  • Can't wait to see either a Playstation 2 or Linux port. I was almost tempted to install Windows on one of my machines just to play but decided no game could possibly be worth doing that. If it went opensource that'd be really awesome. This game looks very impressive and looks as if it'll have a high hack value. :)
  • I used to call quake3 a game until the 1.27 patches where released
  • Well, this game truely is a test of hardware. I'm running it at high detail on a 1.2GHz Athlon T-bird with 256MB of RAM and a GeForce 2 GTS 32MB DDR, and it still bumps occasionally. On the flip side, the graphics look so friggin incredible that I don't care :)
  • Read the article. It said in the end, there were 2M lines of code. That's an awful lot of code, and the final build took 50 minutes to complete on a fast P3. Even if it went open source, I think that like Mozilla, there would be a black hole where little could be done with the source except read and try desperately to understand it.
  • errr.... what about populous 3? That's only a year or 2 old.
  • 25fps average means that he's going to run into many places where the framerates fall to unplayable numbers. As well, remember that movies have nifty real-life things like motion blur that compensate somewhate for the low framerates.

    The simple fact of the matter is that the human eye needs roughly 60fps to see non-jerky motion (NTSC is 30Hz interlaced for an effective 60Hz, PAL is 25Hz interlaced. movies are 24fps, and there's noticeable flicker and jerkiness during long pans). Higher framerates are necessary for games to produce lifelike motion, since motion blur is still expensive in CPU terms (and isn't supported by any graphics accelerator I know of). So, the "insanely high" framerates of 150+ fps are averages which means you should pretty much always have framerates that look smooth. As well, when you see such "ridiculus" numbers, you would also do well to remember that they're usually measured at the lowest resolution, bit depth, and image complexity level as possible.

  • You can feed it it's own poo.
  • Doh. I should stop skimming.
  • Black and White was created by Peter Molyneux, the creator of populous.
  • Well, for those of us on Windows (don't kill me), there's Sensiva [sensiva.com]. Designed for a mouse, but works great with a Wacom [wacom.com] tablet, too.
  • remember, B&W is no high twitch game.
  • In response to 3:

    Tigers in that game are as dumb as dirt. Try a monkey if you don't have the patience to train your tiger. On the other hand, the tiger is pretty good in battle.

    As for 1, the kiddie voices make it all the more fun when you throw them on the alter to gain the power to feed the other worshippers! ;)

  • No question. I just wish it would still run on my current systems. That game was a great time sink, and I loved it more than Civ!
  • This is how I figured it out:

    x = a, y = b
    y = xy
    x = y/x
    y = y/x

    so you have:
    y = ab
    x = y/x = ab/a = b
    y = y/x = ab/b = a

    I'm sure there's better ways to do it, but this was the first one I thought of.

  • I have the game. I mentioned somewhere above that it's buggy as all hell, that I've had it for just about 17 hours now, and that it crashes my game machine continuously (on startup, when I try to save, when I read a scroll, when I move the cursor). I can't even finish the introductory tutorial with the game in its present state.

    I've decided I want my money back. There's no way in hell that this is a finished product.

    Don't buy it.
  • How does THAT work?

    Assuming that the film advances at a constant rate, the second or third shutters would show half of one frame and half of the next (unless you did some fancy re-orientation optics so you reposition the frames on the screen, which I highly doubt).

    I guess you could just have several lenses, but that doesn't seem right either.

    so, please expound on how you get multiple refreshes of one frame in a mechinical projector.
  • I belive the official word is that if the game sells enough then Lionhead Studios plans to make it 100% open source

    Source: This (60 meg MPEG4 encoded) interview with Peter Molyneux [krawall.de] from a german TV station.

  • Nevermind that that neither the Supreme Court, nor the high courts of other countries, nor the greatest pontiffs on pontificators known to walk the earth can judge between good and evil 100%.

    Nevermind that the judgement of even single acts in specific settings can be overturned as either acts of heroism or heinous atrocity by sane, objective, wise men and women purely by a shift of perspective.

    Nevermind that we can't even decide for ourselves whether there is a god or not...we're going to allow some herd of programmers to attempt to judge us as either righteous or unholy souls? Why? I already know the answer. I'm counting on a higher power to forgive me, because I couldn't even be a perfect failure if I wanted to.

    My judgement is pretty well set, but I have it on good authority that I will be forgiven, no matter what some koderz might say about me.

  • Yes it is out, I bought it last week, in Switzerland (english and german versions were available).

    When I tried it at home my first though was: Oh no, not yet another RTS game, and after 5 minutes I quit.

    Reading the comments here I guess I should give it a closer look, it seems it is more a mixture of genres, or a new kind of game.

  • Wow. I have been owned. Here's your recipt...

  • The film pauses in the gate for each frame. It's not moving by continuously.

    The device that pulls the film into the gate in a start/stop motion is called an "intermittent". To see a visual explanation of how one works, click here [film-tech.com], then click on the "videos" link at the very bottom of the page, then scroll down to "How an Intermittent Works" (it's an MPEG).

    The shutter and the intermittent are timed together so that the shutter is closed during the period of time in which the film is actually moving. That way, each frame appears stationary when the light is actually shining through it onto the screen. The shutter can have multiple openings so that there will be two (or sometimes three) pulses of light while the frame is sitting in the gate. The timing just has to be set up so that the shutter is blocking the light while the film is moving.

    Part of the regular maintenance of a film projector is to make sure the shutter timing is adjusted properly. Sometimes, if a theater has let the timing get a little off, you can see a slight amount of jumping or flicker, especially if you look at high-contrast areas of the picture. If there is a bright light somewhere in the picture, or a white title on a black background, that's usually a good place to check for shutter timing error.

    Some projectors, like the "E" series from Kinoton [kinoton.com] have electronic stepper motors instead of mechanical intermittents to do the film pulldown. That, combined with electronic control over the shutter means the timing is basically never going to be off. (I wish more theaters used Kinoton projectors instead of crappy ones from Christie [christieinc.com]. Next time you see a poor film presentation, take a peek through the window into the booth and see what kind of projector they have. Most likely, it will be a Christie.)

    What I said about film projectors with a 72Hz refresh is almost never true, though. Such projectors do exist, but the de-facto standard is to have a two-bladed shutter, so that the refresh rate is 48Hz. Chances are, when you go to the movies, you're seeing two pulses of light for each frame, not three. It would be nice if more theaters used three-bladed shutters, but oh well.

  • So cinema is getting more computer like?

    Well no, I didn't mean to imply that triple-bladed shutters are some new thing that's taking over. There are a few high-end projectors that can be bought that have that feature, but the de-facto standard is still to just have two pulses of light for each frame, yielding a 48Hz refresh.

    Of course, with digital projection coming down the pike, cinema will be getting more computer-like, but that's not necessarily a good thing. Lossy-compressed digital video at 1280x1024 (which is what DLP is still limited to) just doesn't measure up to what film can produce. Yeah, people will say film can get dirty or scratched, but I'd still prefer it over a digital system that has lower resolution and color range. I look at the same way I look at nicely typeset text on paper (the paper can get dirty or torn) vs. trying to read text at 100 ppi on a computer screen. There's no question which one is more high-tech, but which one produces better results?

    Not to say that digital won't catch up to film eventually, but the demos I've seen make me wonder just what all the people who are hyping it up are smoking. It's still got a long way to go.

  • If you are going to give away a chunk of the plot (the 2 out of 5 lands creature thing), at least have the decency to put *SPOILER* in the subject.

  • I though that Voodoo 4/Voodoo 5 could do Motion Blur using the t-buffer. Could be wrong though...
  • It was designed by Peter Molyneux you know
  • First off check the patches over at www.planetblackandwhite.com [planetblackandwhite.com]. They've got the Defroster program that gets rid of lots of the problems, and also links to fixes for people running Athlon/GeForce/Win2K combinations. If you don't want to do that, just wait until they officially bring out the patches :-) (btw, have people seen what they're going to add (over the coming weeks)? There are plans for soccer (for relaxing villagers), a LAN Spawn game so you don't need the CD in for multiplayer, level editors, skin editors, and all sorts of cool stuff)
  • What kind of pc did you buy three months ago that won't play it? It runs perfect on a Celeron 500 with 256 mb of ram.
  • I jsut bought this game and it hooked me within a few minutes. The game play is excellent and the graphics are outstanding.
  • How's the gesture recognition interface in the game? Is it intuitive? How many gestures does it support? Anyone know what techniques they use, or if there are any open source resources for gesture recognition?
  • Plus the fact that it doesn't always work. If the variables you're swapping are actually the same variable, as might happen whille looping through an array, then the variable gets trashed.

  • Can't anybody name anything anymore without calling it "Something: The Something Else"?

  • well, the point of the game isn't to beat it as fast as possible. i've spent the past 5 days on land 1. sure i could have beaten it in that time if i wanted to, but for me it's a lot more fun to try everything
  • My monkey took out a beach ball, but had some adverse affects...
  • There was this /. article [slashdot.org] ran back in May about if B&W was going open-source or not.

    I think the general consensus of the article was that it was simply unconfirmed rumors. Nothing new.

  • It has the river Wey running through it, so it just needs the monarchy bit now....

    btw I'm not quite a sad as it seems knowing this, I do live there
    /end excuse
  • bleh
  • Well, for those of us on Windows (don't kill me), there's Sensiva. Designed for a mouse, but works great with a Wacom tablet, too.

    Having checked sensiva's site the other day, They now have a Beta Linux Version. I haven't played with it yet, as my wacom is not currently set up in linux... But I'm going to some time soon. Sensiva is a great product.

  • i waited for 3 years for this game, bought it the day it came out, found out they weren't joking about the 3D accelerator requirements and that my six year old PC has no chance whatsoever of running the game, ever.
  • I've seen lots of rumours that Black and White will eventually be open source. Is there any evidence on the web, from interviews, etc, that this might actually happen? I do recall reading that Lionhead wants to port the game to lots of platforms, including Linux and BeOS, but I don't know where the open source rumour started.
  • Get a copy of Quake 1.

    Play it a bit running with no fps restrictions (you should get 100+ fps on one of today's high end systems). Pretty smooth, eh?

    Restrict the framerate to 60. Notice anything?

    Restrict the framerate to 40. Definately beginning to see something now ...

    35 ? Much worse.

    30 ? Yuck.

  • It could, but the only playable game that uses it is a leaked Q3Test, and you needed 4x FSAA enabled to use it. In modern games it simply wouldn't be playable except at 640x480 16bpp.
  • It's real good. I like it a LOT more than searching for icons. if you want to leash your creature just move the mouse in a clockwise square, or if you want to cast a spell just spin the mouse in a circle and then your hand glows, then cast the spell.. like S is food, 3 is wood, W is rain, heart shape is heal. Its darn nice.

  • all the fuckin' stores are sold out... need.. to.. have...

    I have a shotgun, a shovel and 30 acres behind the barn.

  • Radeon Win2K drivers blow. Try getting then newest version, it MAY help.

  • Yeah I've been using the newest for a while... so they only blow half as much now. The blow-meter was cranked up to about 7 1/2, now it's down to 5.
  • They actually put out a "Black & White Gesture Trainer" a week or so before the game came out... a plugin to mIRC I think, that /me'd some stupid text... not exactly useful. The actual Sensiva program seemed kinda neat though. I like the way it handled forward/back in Internet Explorer... hold down right mouse button, drag left a few inches, then release for back, click & drag right button to the right & release for forward. I kinda got tired of it's "gimmicky" feel after a few days though.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    What, did you look at the big disclaimer "3D ACCELERATOR REQUIRED", laugh and say: "Oh those silly jokers are jerking my chain. There's no way my 'bad-ass' ISA S3/Trio with 200kb of EDO RAM won't run circles around this pansy game!" ???
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Doesn't suck? What, the fact that the world physically morphs as you move around? That doesn't suck? Sheesh. Given advancements in terrain algos, (tribes 2 et al), as well as the hardware reqs of the game already, this should have been -trivial- to fix. And yet it wasn't. The gesture system is great in practice, but the more villagers you have, the slower the game runs, the fewer fps you have, the slower it is to manipulate the mouse in a specific pattern. Personally, I would've liked icons. What would have been the difference? They show me the pictures on the bottom of the screen, why shouldn't I be able to just click on them? It's not like there's really -that- many spells. The bugs in the game/gameplay are also astounding. Check out the faq written on it. "Even if you finish the game, your creature stays cursed.". Brilliant. No, really. Combine things like that with the forced tutorial every time I restart make it a rather silly game to play. To sum up: Playing and finishing in story mode screws your creature permanently. Playing in 'skirmish' mode means converting the game into an RTS, for which it was clearly not designed. Good stuff. That said, some of the story elements aren't bad, and the creatures are pretty nifty. But why oh why does 'number of poos' need to be a statistic, and does it need to incorporate fart jokes? ...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Nietzsche is dead. - God
  • It sounds like a really cool game, but original? It is really just a remake of Populous, isn't it? Granted, the time has come for a remake. Ater the success of Populous there were lots of clones (like Megalomania), but nothing similar has been made for five or six years.
  • John Romero, and his army of programmers and artists, took four years to create Daikatana!

    Three years and a month, [netscape.com] thank you very much. And I think you meant John Romero's zombie army of programmers and artists. But bless you for not mentioning Anachronox.

  • All programming is done through their unique Gesture Command(tm) system :)

    Considering the individual has their keyboard resting on the far side of a 12x18 Wacom tablet, an illustration book left open near what appears to be Hogarth's Dynamic Anatomy and other art books to the left of the monitor, a small stack of artwork on the other side, and is sitting in an area with other similarly equipped desks and concept art tacked to the walls, I must in fact conclude that... it's a very powerful gesture programming system indeed.

    In fairness, many programmers' desks look as messy but are liable to include somewhat sensitive materials, so you wouldn't see them photographed as much. And of course, programmers' mess is pseudorandom, not by design.

  • I had my creature eat a water miracle by mistake once. I wanted to reward him for picking it up, but that caused him to devour it. I was apprehensive about what might happen next, but it was uneventful -- all that really happened was that I lost that miracle. It would be a nice touch if there were an appropriate comedy moment after the creature eats a Miracle.
  • What do you mean, how are they going to modify it? It's got 3 controls; a right-click, a left-click- and the directional control. OK, put two of the triggers to simulate the wheelmouse functionality, but that's about it, all done. What about the analog stick make it so you can't draw spirals and hearts?

  • Motion Blur movies 24 FPS huh?

    What crack are you smoking? It's a biological fact that, at 30 FPS, your brain blurs the motion enough that you don't see the frames any more. This isn't some trick or arbitrary number made up by the MPAA to cheat you out of your deserved 60 FPS movies with THX and such. If you or anyone you know claim to see frames at 30 FPS, you need to go submit yourself someplace to be studied.

  • You XOR one with the other.
  • Doesn't work for two reasons: possible divide by zero errors, and the need to cast to floats.

    Remembering that (x|y)|x=y for any number, the solution is a[x]=a[y]|a[x];a[y]=a[x]|a[y];a[x]=a[y]|a[x]. Try it, it works.

  • Funny, I have a Kensington Turbo Mouse trackball, one of those big Arcade Centipede trackballs. And the heal miracle is the easiest one for me to do :)

    I have trouble with the shields...

  • Trainspotter fact: It has a cathedral and is therefore a city. I kid you not.

  • First of all, Peter Molynoux (I bet he's furious by now that no one can spell his last name right. ;-) created them both. I recon you still can copy an old concept though. But although part of the idea is the same, "You are a God." a lot of new stuff has entered the game which makes it interesting.

    First of all you have this creature. Think of it as a Tamagotchi which can interact with it's enviroment and actually learn. (Not only grow fat and die, it can grow fat, it can't really die though.)

    Second you have the people, in B&W you can interact with the people in a way which wasn't possible in any of the Populous games. You can pick them up and put them down to give them some "divine inspiration" or you can hurl them across the land. (Be careful though, your creature has a nasty habit of picking up on what you do and tend to imitate. ;-)

    And the graphics, yummm, they really did manage to create one of the best looking 3D engines to date. On the topic of FPS btw, my P3-550, 256Mb and Matroc G400Max shugs along at 25 FPS at high detail. I don't know if people with 1GHz computers are having problems with drivers or what, but I don't have any probems.)

    And then there's a lot of small things. Like how your creature can learn to dance, it's really a game you should try!
  • Is B&W actually OUT

    Yes. Got my preordered copy in the mail yesterday, and I'm in Norway.

    I expect that most of the larger brick-and-mortar game shops have received their shipments.
  • The regilding of the angel is perhaps a fitting analogy to what is happening only a stone's throw away from the cathedral at Lionhead Studios, the new startup of PC gaming's "It Boy," 41-year-old Peter Molyneux.

    41-year old? I thought he was in his late fifties. Can anyone confirm or deny this?

  • I gotta concur...
    I got the game last night. I've played for a total of three hours. It took down my system - my normally as stable as you can hope Windows will be - eleven times in those three hours. So far, I've learned that going in the rooms in the temple is the surest way I've ever seen to crash my PC... I think I've spent longer trying to skip the intro than play the game.

    Sigh. It is gorgeous, though.
  • It was written in pascal too. (Use "unp" to unencrypt the .exe)

    Here's a link with a bit of history: http://www.starbreeze.com/triton.htm [starbreeze.com]

    Unfortunately you'll have to run it under DOS with OUT any 386 memory managers.
  • The creature will eat the Beachball, Rocks, and if you manage to get to the forth world you may notice that the Skeleton Village is populated with living dead.

    My creature cleaned house. I hope I didn't need them skeletons for anything. YES! HE ATE THEM ALL DISPITE PUKING EACH ONE UP IMMEDIATELY AFTER EATING IT!

    "Everything you know is wrong. (And stupid.)"
  • Anyone else get the impression that the game is seriously forest-bound? It seems like all I do is get people self-sufficient food-wise (which takes a RIDICULOUS amount of wood in itself) and then keep throwing down wood or magical forest.

    Maybe there's some super 31337 trick I'm missing, but that seriously detracts from the game...
  • Another reason you don't see a flicker at the movies that while the frame rate is 24Hz, the refresh rate is usually 48Hz, sometimes 72Hz. The film projector has a two-bladed shutter (three-bladed in some projectors) that spins once per frame, so that there are two pulses of light (three for some projectors) for each frame.

    Occasionally, I've seen some second-run theaters or art houses that have cheap projectors with single-bladed shutters (producing a refresh rate of 24Hz), and in those cases, the flicker is very, very annoying.

    Also note that it seems to have become trendy in the last couple of years to photograph action scenes with a very high-speed shutter (such as in Gladiator and Saving Private Ryan). The frames are still spaced out at every 24th of a second, but for each of those frames, the shutter is only open for a very short time (maybe 1/500 sec.?). That reduces motion blur so that you can see objects a little more clearly, but it also makes all the frames seem somewhat disconnected from each other. Just look at those clumps of dirt that fly during the explosions in Private Ryan. You can see them neatly suspended in mid-air (as opposed to just a streak across the frame), but that lack of motion blur also makes it harder to follow them from frame to frame.

  • I'd like to see the entire GUI component of an OS support this.

    Walk around with a PalmOS device for a few days. You'll be yearning for keyboard shortcuts (which B&W thankfully has provided).

    I have ended a couple hours of B&W, and found that I've forgotten how to use a scrollbar. :)

  • by Lordie ( 98168 )
    The manual indicates (under miracles: wood and miracles: grain) that repeatedly clicking the mouse button when casting these miracles will increase their production. If you position your hand over the little 'hut' part of the village store and rapidly click the action button, you'll wind up with about 30,000 units of wood per spell (rough estimate). That's enough that I've rarely seen my people cutting down trees, and in fact have only need for a single wood-cutter in a far off town I took over.

    Hope that helps.
  • Playing God in a popolus environment. Throwing around helpless villagers. Planting trees through the roof of a house. Teching your creature to use a bathroom.
  • Yeah right. Going above 31 fps is really important. Not!

    The whole point of the game is that they manage something nearly impossible- how many polygons do you think it takes to draw a whole continent anyway? Hint: more than any graphics card can do.

    Therefore the game scales back the number of polygons to hit a particular framerate. The designers obviously chose 31 fps because if you go much faster than that the players can't really see it anyway. (Don't bother explaining how YOU can feel the difference- you can't.)

    Apart from that you make some very good points. It's a bit overhyped. Basically at the end of the day its similar to Magic Carpet 2 with shades of Dungeon Keeper.

    Still, its fun. I've played games that are a LOT worse.

    But, I agree in the final analysis its leaping for 10/10 but only making 8/10.
  • So cinema is getting more computer like? (Refresh rate on monitors is typically 70hz or more, obviously.)

    I also read some discussion about the moving shutters used for filming movies. Apparently you can see the shutter sometimes- it's going to have an effect on the blurring- different effects depending on which direction the object is moving in. There's even been some discussion about emulating this for computer graphics use (probably mainly for film use).

    Come to think of it, that's why they used 1/500 sec, so that it makes it easier to image process it after filming. It's not a trendy thing per se, it just reflects the tech they used.

  • There was a topic on here a whie a go about how technology makeith not a game.

    Ok, so there's some bugs. Big deal, they're not terribly nasty ones, and if finishing the game in single player mode reduces your critter to slag, well then... just save before you do that.

    On the whole this game RULES. It is highly addictive, very interactive, and always good for a laugh. Autosave is a bit of a bitch but you can turn that off.

    Black and White, especialy if it goes open source, has the opportunity to be a foundation for strategy games in much the same way that quake and unreal have been foundations for first person shooters. Once the engine exists, there are many programmers who can turn this into hundreds of facinating games. Furthermore, it dosn't look like Lionhead has plans of abandoning htis game.... more stuff is coming, hell... there's even a room for that stuff in the temple!

    Bottom line: BUY THIS GAME it is the first thing since Civilization to make it to the 5:00 am zome for me.... that's saying alot.

    This has been another useless post from....
  • by bug_hunter ( 32923 ) on Saturday April 07, 2001 @03:13AM (#309354)
    Basically my first impressions,
    1) The kiddie voices used throughout the game really drive you mad
    2) My Geforce on 700 Mhz has trouble with some scenes but I am on highest detail setting
    3) Teaching creatures would be more fun if there was more useful things for them to do, currently I can only teach my tiger to throw my villagers into walls and stuff, which makes up for any other short commings in the game, cause it's as funny as anything.
  • by Twid ( 67847 ) on Friday April 06, 2001 @09:25PM (#309355) Homepage
    It's out. I bought it over a week ago, March 29th, at the Fry's Electronics on Hamilton Road in San Jose.

    It's a great game! My only complaint is the speed of play, it can take hours to get a scenario done by the time you feed your people, take over other towns, build up those towns, etc... My favorite thing, though, is petting my monkey. 8-)

  • by Speare ( 84249 ) on Saturday April 07, 2001 @06:17AM (#309356) Homepage Journal

    Read the README, there's some additions, probably because the developers and testers did not want to spend all day failing to draw heart and wood gestures. Recognizing gestures isn't that hard in code, but the bigger you make your gestures, the easier it is to get recognized (just like PalmOS graffiti).

    Typing R is the same as the Repeat gesture. This is the number one time saver. Just as graffiti is fine for jotting a quick note, I don't want to be scrawling all day.

    Typing M is the same as the Miracle spiral gesture. You still have to draw the specific gesture to choose it, but repeats with R simplify multiple casts.

    Typing C zooms to your Creature. The camera will follow him until you adjust the view yourself.

    Ctrl+Shift zooms in very close to your hand. Zoom way out and then use this repeatedly to bring distant cows or mushrooms to your altar. Since this is so fast, you can steal trees from your enemy's forests with practice.

    Don't waste a bookmark on your temple: Space,Space goes to your temple, and Space,Space again returns to your previous view.

    Ctrl+digit makes a bookmark. Digit zooms to bookmark. Get your angle of view just right to see most of the buildings in the middle of a town, plunk a bookmark in the current center of your screen. Then you can zip to that same vantage point very fast. Again, use this to take things from place to place super-fast, like scaffolds to a neighboring town.

    Another time-saver: assemble the scaffolds in the workshop yard, not on the building site. Why fly back and forth several times?

    Another sanity saver: your creature will continue to follow a command after unleashing. Bring him home with a quick Space,Space,L,click,L. If he wanders into some other gods' zone, the other god will leash your creature!

  • by Galvatron ( 115029 ) on Saturday April 07, 2001 @12:08AM (#309357)
    All programming is done through their unique Gesture Command(tm) system :)

    The only "intuitive" interface is the nipple. After that, it's all learned.
  • by dstone ( 191334 ) on Friday April 06, 2001 @10:38PM (#309358) Homepage
    Sigma is a game being developed by Relic [relic.com], the studio that created Homeworld (Game of the Year by some accounts, etc, etc.) Anyway if you dig B&W, you might also dig Sigma (when it's out, late this year?) It involves crazy creatures, a B-movie plot, genetic wackiness, a pretty impressive rendering engine, etc. I'm sure the dev team of Sigma has watched B&W closely (it's been in development for about as long), though the gameplay and objectives seem to be different enough. Homeworld cameras and gameplay were great, so I have high hopes for Sigma!

    In the words of Relic's CEO, Alex Garden, (who has brushed shoulders with Peter Molyneaux)... "We prefer to think of Sigma as what happens when a geneticist smokes far too much crack."

    Some links for more info...
    http://forums.relicnews.com [relicnews.com]
    http://pc.ign.com/previews/14840.html [ign.com]
    http://firingsquad.gamers.com/features/gamestock01 /page2.asp [gamers.com]
    http://www.gameweek.com/features/gamestock01/pc/in dex3.shtml [gameweek.com]
    http://gamepen.ugo.com/gamepen/Features.asp?itemid =92&pageid=5 [ugo.com]
    http://www.gamesmania.com/articles/PC/sigma/previe ws1.asp [gamesmania.com]

    How does Relic afford to fund a game that has also been something like 3 years in the making? Microsoft dollars. Sierra funded Homeworld. Not sure why MS is backing this one, and say what you want about the evil empire... but they've got money to risk on crazy games like Sigma. And I think that's pretty goddamn cool...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 06, 2001 @08:57PM (#309359)

    John Romero, and his army of programmers and artists, took four years to create Daikatana!

    Does it have frogs? or robotic mosquitos? a sparking fist? all that green scenery?

    Hmm...come to think of it, Duke Nukem (taking) Forever has been worked on for pert-near FIVE years now.
  • by ddt ( 14627 ) <ddt@davetaylor.name> on Saturday April 07, 2001 @02:07PM (#309360) Homepage
    Woah, I stayed up all night gripped by the other behind-the-scenes stories that I guess I had just somehow missed. Check them out:


    The story of Lionhead studios read like one of a man with 18 Charisma holding together a company by sheer force of will and charm, but you should read the incredible story of tragedy, specifically "Haunted Glory: The Rise and Fall of Trilobyte" and the story of lies and folly, "Knee Deep in a Dream: The Story of Daikatana." I also found the story "Total Annihilation: The Story So Far" fascinating because the game really was so unbelievably good, and it seemed like Chris Taylor had come out of nowhere. The "Eye of the Storm: Behind Closed Doors at Blizzard" story is of course this industry's unbounded success story and was also a fairly interesting read because Blizzard has historically been so secretive and unwilling to discuss its insides with the press.

    Having done the indie self-funded game development thing, I have never read a story more inspirational than the one on Peter M. and Black & White. It was thrilling and romantic to hear about the bullpen style open office, the absurdly long hours, frankly the outright suffering, the light and flexible approach to design, the excitement of frantically describing your vision and watching it come together, and through thick and thin Peter's unflappable optimisim and gamemanship.

    Although I think the year-long 16+ hour days are tragic and wrong, I think this is otherwise how games should be made. I hope in exchange for funding it himself, Peter and his developers enjoy a tasty return on investment.
  • by RestiffBard ( 110729 ) on Saturday April 07, 2001 @05:14AM (#309361) Homepage
    I picked up black and white the other day and love it. I've only been waiting for like two years since i saw the preview in PC gamer. sure there are some issues. but the prob with land 5 has been taken care of just check a BW fan site. and otehr issuses are being solved all the time. molyneux has said that even more things will be taken care of in coming weeks. as i recall waiting for the latest version of Doom, quake, unreal, etc... is fine. all of these games were great and were all buggy. then they released a patch and we updated and played on. i think we'll just have to accept buggy games when they come out. its just an economic reality. (btw rolling the rubber ball through town is just fun)
  • by Fractal Law ( 122229 ) on Friday April 06, 2001 @09:39PM (#309362)
    The gesture recognition system works but some of the gestures can be a bit hard to do, especially when you really need to do them quickly.

    The gestures are used in different ways. For example, if you have your creature leashed to your hand you can shake the mouse right and left to remove the leash from your hand.

    The miracle gestures are where it can get tricky. The healing miracle, for example, calls for tracing a heart pattern. I've often had to do it two or three times to get it to work. I've never been unable to perform a gesture, but it has often taken several tries for the more complex ones.

    Considering what the games has to do to recognize your mouse gestures I'm amazed that it even works at all. Once one has had some practice with the gestures they come pretty intuitively. I still use the keyboard for movement and such, however.
  • by IvyMike ( 178408 ) on Friday April 06, 2001 @10:20PM (#309363)

    Xemacs has "strokes mode" which is pretty much gestures for emacs. If you've used one of the CAD tools that supports strokes (Mentor Graphics for me) you really start to appreciate what a great improvement to the UI they are.

    I'd like to see the entire GUI component of an OS support this.

  • by TheFlu ( 213162 ) on Friday April 06, 2001 @09:08PM (#309364) Homepage
    Even more impressive than this game (which is excellent BTW) is this picture [zdnet.com] of one of the programmers desk. How's he even find the keyboard.

    Linux info>>> The Linux Pimp [thelinuxpimp.com]

  • by JAVAC THE GREAT ( 239850 ) on Saturday April 07, 2001 @06:44AM (#309365)
    Sometimes it doesn't work out--at least at first, as was the case with Ollie Purkiss, a young London chap who interviewed for a programming position. Known as the only programmer who used a graphic tablet, he ended up getting the rejection call from Molyneux. "He said, 'Sorry, I don't think you are qualified enough,'" explains Purkiss, who says he quickly responded, "'Peter, I think you're wrong.'" Molyneux, so impressed with the young man's nerve, hired him on the spot. Purkiss now sits next to Molyneux in Lionhead's offices.
    Later in the article...
    Even just walking around the office, it's clear that Molyneux is constantly making sure the intellectual capital in the building is firing on all synapses. "Ollie," he calls out randomly one afternoon, "I was wondering, how would you go about swapping two numbers without using a variable?" While Molyneux knows the answer, Purkiss doesn't and is immediately perplexed by the problem. Molyneux cracks a smile and puts his hands back on the keyboard. You know he's saying to himself, "Mission accomplished: new challenge issued."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 06, 2001 @10:03PM (#309366)
    The game was, in fact, released too soon. Even though it was postponed back and back and took three years, it's still quite buggy. Framerate never goes above 31 fps (with the reccomended system, plus an extra 128 ram on top). The non-traditional interface is great.. At least until you realize you need to get to a main menu instead of being forced to watch the ten minute intro again after a crash corrupted your most recent save and the program assumed that you wanted to start a new game. It's cool until you uninstall and reinstall to replace corrupted files, taking careful checks to ensure you don't lose your saved game, only to find out that you lost all your creature AI. It's cool until you realize that you only really have the creature for 2 of the 5 lands, since you don't really use him on the first, he gets kidnapped in the second, and there's the 'level 5 creature bug' which utterly destroys him in the last level. It's cool until you realize that the villagers can't do anything except deforest and overpopulate, and you have to spend all your time completely micromanaging them. It's cool until the side quests completely disappear the same time the plot does. It's beautiful eye candy, it's completely engrossing for the first several hours, it leaps across traditional boundaries, but it just, unfortunately, didn't quite make the last hurdle.
  • by Raven667 ( 14867 ) on Friday April 06, 2001 @11:28PM (#309367) Homepage

    B&W looks like one of the most original games to come out of any development house in many years. The FPS, RTS, Roleplaying (sometimes just repackaged adventure games) have all been beat to death. Great houses like Looking Glass have fallen off the map. It's good to see something like this be created, I look forward to it being the best seller of 2001 and significant for many years after.

    I also wanted to point out the article, it is one of the best written (and longest!) that I have seen on any website or magazine in a long time. We should thank the author Geoff Keighley [mailto] for taking the time to really interview the people at Lionhead and understand what it took to bring this game to fruition. The article was so interesting there was no way that I could go without reading it until the end.

    Many people here post flames when writers and journalists get computers and technology wrong, we should be thankful when they get tech right.

  • by The Cat ( 19816 ) on Friday April 06, 2001 @09:46PM (#309368)
    On page one, the article says "three years... team of 25 people" My first thought was to run the numbers: break-even is 273,000 units (conservative estimate). No way this gets funded. No way. This game would have been rejected again in the first meeting when there was no "good" answer to the question "what genre is it?"

    Page two explains why the game got made: it was self-funded.

    Its really a shame that the "big companies" in the game industry can't support efforts like these. Black and White looks like its going to be an amazing game, and it would have been a great thing for a publisher to have participated in its development.

    Good to see that better and better games are being developed.
  • by jmauro ( 32523 ) on Saturday April 07, 2001 @05:48AM (#309369)
    He is right in a way. Movies do not see the flickers, because if you look at a single frame of film it is blurred, like taking a picture with long exposure and people move inside of it. It has transistion from the last frame, the current frame, and the nextframe all merged into one. The blurred goes away when the frames are played in sequence at the correct speed. The effect is moving pictures. If you take a frame of computer game, from a game there is no blur. Every single picture is sharp and crisp. To get a non-jerky motion to show you need to push a video game to at least 60 fps. The extra frames give a more fluid motion, because the eye cannot pick up each frame in its entirety, but sees parts of each frame and combines them into a composite picture of sorts. The effect is that the motion is fluid. Film doesn't need extra frames but computer games do.
  • by IvyMike ( 178408 ) on Friday April 06, 2001 @10:25PM (#309370)
    • It supports my iFeel mouse; this game has texture.
    • It can import your address book from your email client for villager names. And you know what makes the best creature food? Your ex.
    • The graphics engine lets you scroll out and see the whole island. And it doesn't suck.
    • It gives a whole new meaning to spanking your monkey.
  • by bertok ( 226922 ) on Saturday April 07, 2001 @12:55AM (#309371)
    I've been tring to work out what the most bizarre thing my creature is willing to eat. So far, I've seen my monkey eat people, whole pine trees, live cattle, it's own dung, and a fence.

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. -- Elbert Hubbard