Thursday, December 14, 2006

Menus That Abandon You

Sorry about the lack of posts over the past few weeks. Last week I decided to migrate AYE to the new Blogger beta - a process that ended up taking the rest of the day - and the week before that I just plain didn't have much to write about.

Sauerbraten had an interesting release last week. Not only have we got some new fancy graphical effects since the last time I checked, but also a host of other tweaks and improvements. The new water effects (which were actually introduced in the "water edition" a little while back) are quite a step up. As shiny and pretty as the new mater may be, I'm not noticing much of a performance hit, aside from on maps that are just plain covered in the stuff. Still, if it's too much for your machine to handle there is - as always - an option to turn it off.

When I hit the escape key to bring up the menu for the first time, I was a bit surprised. Gone is the familiar old menu system we've been used to since the days of Cube, replaced by a fancier and arguably less functional menu system. It's nice looking sure - the menu basically hovers a foot or so off the ground in front of you and you navigate with mouselook - but, depending on where it is you're standing, it can be a downright pain to use. Hit the escape key while you're falling and watch that menu stay firmly planted above you as you continue to plummet.

The single player mode has received a few small updates, including a new (to me, anyway) gameplay mode that appears to be somewhat of a mix between Cube's "invasion" themed DM-SP mode and straight up single player. The new maps are, as usual, very well designed. I know it's quite an engine, but every once in a while I almost forgot I was looking at the Sauerbraten engine instead of something along the lines of UT2004.

I jumped into a few games online to make sure the net code is still holding up alongside all of these other tweaks, and it remains as smooth as ever. Instagib is still an insanely fast experience that will get your hands sweating in the first 30 seconds or so. My only complaint is that you can't download only the updates you need. When Sauerbraten was smaller, this wasn't a big deal, but now that it's pushing 100 megs, it gets a little annoying when you know that half of what you're downloading is already sitting on your hard drive.

I'll return next week. With what? No idea. But, I assure you, I'll be here.

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