About the site

Contact details

Send email to me, Rockslider, at the following address: rockslider at badcyborg.net (make that into an address in the usual way). Feedback and Halo chat welcome. I'll be particularly pleased to hear from anyone who's been enjoying some of the fun described at the site. It's always nice to hear other peoples' experiences with it, and for that matter it's encouraging just to know that people are using the site at all! I'd also be glad to hear about any typos or incorrect links you notice, so I can fix them.

Viewing the site

To get the full functionality of the site, such as getting drop-down menus and seeing pictures in a pop-up window when you click a thumbnail image, you need to have Javascript enabled. That's a setting you can make in your browser's preferences.

The site should look ok in any modern browser but the design is done particularly with Firefox in mind, with default font size set to 12. You should be able to set your default or 'standard' font size in your browser's preferences, and the site will reflect that preferred size like it should. For reference here's a snapshot of how part of one of my pages looks in Firefox on my iMac, with a drop-down menu activated. If you're using Internet Explorer you'll want version 8 or higher, as the site no longer makes any effort to support earlier versions.

History and content

Launched on April 22nd 2004, the site was originally created to describe the fabulous rockslide megabattle which I'd been enjoying for many months. I couldn't find anything about it on tips pages, yet to me it seemed like the single most important 'extra' for any trigger-happy Halo fan to know about, so I did a lot of writing and launched the site to help spread the word. Here's my first HBO forum post if you're curious (the links in it are now outdated, as I didn't have the badcyborg.net domain then).

A lot more Halo fun followed and in due course I started covering later games as well, though not the bitterly disappointing Halo 2 which I soon traded back to the shop. The original game is easily my favourite - in a class of its own - but the site has a large section of Halo 3 fun too, and quite a bit of Reach run too (I especially urge you to try out my Firefight game of Knock-off - best fun in the whole game!).

The site's main focus lies in squeezing additional fun out of campaign play, particularly in regard to obtaining novel combat situations, be they serious or mischievous. Most of this stems from my own explorations but there are also quite a few articles based on things I've read about or that people have suggested, which I try to make clear as appropriate.

Posting dates

Most of my articles have a posting date, but all articles relating to gameplay fun are subject to updating when I have any improvements to make, expanding them or whatever. So the date just refers to the original version of the article, not necessarily the version you now see. In some cases I also say "updated later" or suchlike, to indicate that some fairly significant changes have been made since the original posting. A few early articles are undated because I'm not sure when I posted them; I wasn't dating things when I started the site.

Say hello to Suzie

The whimsical Frontline with Suzie series kicked off soon after Bad Cyborg launched. The name 'Suzie Hoffenblatt' was actually taken from the Soapbox page I'd written earlier. I suppose I was thinking that she'd done a nice enough job of interviewing me there, so we'd pack her off to get busy on Halo. Other humour pieces followed and eventually I formed a separate Humour section.

Now with movies and pictures!

For a long time my content was text only, and I used to get pointed remarks from folk who wanted pictures as well. But I didn't have the technology to oblige and I wasn't too fussed about it anyway. As time went on however, I increasingly felt a desire to produce movies to illustrate novel gameplay fun, so I finally got kitted out. In September 2009 the site moved into a new phase as I released my first movies, along with a visual restyling of the site that included my first batch of pictures.

Plus tomb raiding!

In May 2010 things took an unusual turn as I started a section on Tomb Raider Underworld for the Xbox 360, having decided I had quite a lot to say about it. Strictly speaking I could've done with a whole new website for that, but it's just nestling in the 'Other' category as another videogame interest.

Movies

I continue to put a lot of time into making movies, most of which accompany bits of nonstandard fun described on the site. At present they're all H1 movies, but later I may do some for other games. You can read more about them on my H1 movie page, but let me mention that they can be watched in full quality at HBO. There's also my YouTube channel though.

Production

If you're curious, here's the set-up I'm using. A cable leads out the back of my Xbox and branches into four cables. One ends in a SCART which is plugged into the TV, enabling me to play without any lag as normal (i.e. without any lag between controller actions and onscreen response). The other three carry an S-video signal, left audio (white) and right audio (red). These go into a Canopus ADVC-110 (ADVC = Analog to Digital Video Converter), which converts the signals into a DV stream. That gets sent to my iMac via a Firewire cable (6-pin to 6-pin) which also powers the converter. The DV stream is received by iMovie which builds up a large file from it. After completing my gameplay I stop the capture process within iMovie. I can then use iMovie to create finished movies from the raw footage encoded in the DV file. Specifically I get it to export movies in H.264 format using x264Encoder, a free encoder which I found far superior to the default H.264 encoding offered by iMovie.

The iMac has a 2.8 GHz dual core Intel processor, 2 GB RAM, and a 320 GB hard disc that spins at 7200 rpm. That seems to be plenty good enough for capturing and editing.

The Canopus ADVC-110 isn't cheap but it seemed very well regarded by many reviewers when I researched it on the web, and has worked flawlessly for me so far. It includes a feature called locked audio which keeps video and audio in sync, which seems like a good idea to me. The image quality is limited by the fact that it runs off an S-video signal, but the images are clear enough for my purposes at least, though with dark areas the subsequent iMovie processing tends to introduce annoying posterization effects that really shouldn't be there (iMovie it seems to be passing needlessly inferior frames to the encoder, which I take to be a major flaw).

iMovie '09

I've been using iMovie '09 for movie production because it came with the iMac and looked quite appealing, and other options would've been expensive anyway. It does have some nice aspects, but it also has a lot of time-wasting bugs and annoyances, and there's a bad flaw in the rendering, causing needless posterization of imagery. That becomes rather noticeable with relatively dark colours, and sometimes I've been unable to use good footage because it came out looking too bad. To me iMovie '09 has the feel of half-baked betaware, but if you're willing to tolerate its shortcomings you can certainly produce serviceable movies with it. For better or worse I continue to use it, if only for the sake of consistency.

Looking for advice?

I'm no movie production expert, so if you're looking for technical advice I'm probably not going to be much use other than in having described my set-up above. There's plenty of advice on the web though, including some YouTube videos. Search for terms such as "videogame" and "capture device". I can offer advice on fashioning movie content however; see my Video design tips article.

The future

As for the future, I expect to be quite busy creating movies and pictures for the site, adding to the Bad Cyborg experience. Much of that will be for the large amount of gameplay fun already detailed, and it's going to take quite a while to get through all that, if I ever manage it at all! But I've also got a backlog of H1 and H3 fun to post, and there are later Halo games to explore as well. So all in all, there's hopefully lots more to come!

PS: Other Rocksliders

Just to let you know, to avoid possible confusion, there's another gamer out there with the same name except with a lowercase r giving 'rockslider' (which is originally how I wrote my name, but I switched to a capital in 2006). Weird huh? To help distinguish, bear in mind that I'm not on bungie.net or halowaypoint.com, and have never done multiplayer. When I eventually signed up for Xbox Live in September 2012, my name was already taken so I settled for 'Rockslidey'. Other sliders to avoid confusion with are 'rock slider' accessories for protecting vehicles from rocks when off-road driving. I'm definitely not one of those.