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Showing posts from March, 2010

Demigod 75% off for anyone who wants it.

I got 75% off Demigod thanks to a discount code from Mel_Himself . The good news is that the discount codes are apparently re-usable. There is even a post on the official forums giving out codes for those who want to sample this fun game. Be aware that the multi-player scene is not exactly thriving. From browsing the forums I get the impression that there is a small core of experienced players who do not exactly welcome to noobs but for less than 4$/€ you can't really go wrong.

Demigod Impressions

Demigod is an enjoyable arena based RTS combat game but it's unfortunate first impression is somewhat amateurish due to the lack of an in game tutorial. In the user manual they explain this omission by saying: "Let’s face it, the two most annoying ways to learn how to play a game are the user manual and an in-game tutorial." Unfortunately Demigod is sufficiently different from other RTS games that just jumping in isn't going to suffice. You do actually need to read the manual if you want to have any idea what is going on. To be more precise you only really need to read the short "Quick Explanation" on page 16 of the manual but if like me you tend to start a book on page 1 you will have already read most of the manual before you stumble across that vital page of advice. After having read the aforementioned Quick Advice and subsequently having played through two skirmish battles I can report that Demigod is an Arena based real time combat game where pla

The Browser War isn't Over until the Fat Lady Sings

I have been a Firefox user for several years but I have come to realise that despite the Foxes tremendous power and flexibility it feels a bit old fashioned. In its default installation the screen is cluttered by tools and menu bars and Firefox's colour scheme and fonts lack the warm friendliness of its competitors. I know that Firefox is ridiculously customisable and you can get it to do just about anything you want and look like anything you want but it can be hard work keeping up with all these extensions. Most of the ones I really need (such as pop up blocking) have long since been incorporated into the standard browser tool-set. I have even stopped using Ad Block. Now that annoying pop-ups are automatically blocked the advent of fast broadband has removed any legitimate excuse to deny content providers of their advertising revenue. I guess I never seriously considered Internet Explorer as a contender although it still pops up often enough when badly behaved programs insist

Thank you Mr. Melf (Post Includes Link to Great Flash Game)

Three cheers to Melf_Himself of Word of Shadow fame. Cheer number one is for pointing me towards Specter Spelunker Shrinks which is a brilliant little Flash game. Ken Grafals the creator of the game hit on an the extremely simple but extremely brilliant concept of allowing you to shrink or grow your character arbitrarily to overcome obstacles. I predict it could be the next Portal if he plays his cards right. Cheer number two is for giving away a buddy code that allowed me to get 75% off Demigod. Downloading it now. Cheer number 3 finally is just for being an all round sound chap. Thank you Melf.

What is up with Firefox updating?

Is it just me or has the frequency of Firefox updates become a little excessive. I know that these security fixes are for our own good but between updates to Firefox itself and updates to Firefox extensions I seem to spend more time updating than browsing at the moment.

Operation Flashpoint Dragon Rising

I am currently playing and enjoying Operation Flashpoint Dragon Rising bought in a Steam sale a couple of weeks ago. That the game is being heavily discounted so soon after its October 2009 release indicates that it was far from a commercial success, a suspicion re-enforced by Codemasters announcement of a cessation of support for the game on the 16th February this year. My guess is that the game failed commercially because it fell between two schools. It is much slower paced and somewhat harder than traditional run and gun shooters. I imagine that many Call of Duty fans will be put off by a game where you can go 20 minutes before seeing an enemy and then die instantly from one bullet. On the other hand fans of earlier Flashpoint games may feel the game lacks realism and is too easy: You have a magic radar which pinpoints enemies with a red dot. Enemy AI is not all that smart and your team medic can cure every injury short of death with a single injection of morphine. I never rea

So Long Nick (Yee) and Thanks for All the Physh(cology)

Earlier this month Nick Yee announced that he was putting the Daedalus project into hibernation. I discovered the project before I had even ventured into an mmorpg for the first time and I became absolutely fascinated by Nick's research into the psychology of mmorpgs and the people who play them. After 10 years of building this phenomenal resource it is completely understandable that Nick wants to move on but thankfully he is leaving his treasure trove of survey information on line. I believe it remains the gold standard of research into the motivations and behaviour of "us" the people who play mmorpgs. Edit: Thank you to Tesh for pointing out that I am exactly one year behind the times with this post. Nick put his site into hibernation in March 2009 and has actually even launched a new study since then. And I was so proud of that post title :(

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

There may be an impression abroad that Paddy's day is a wild party. In fact for most Irish people it is family day. Wearing green and taking the kids to the local parade are part of the tradition, Only this year my better half and the kids are staying with relatives while I remain home alone due to work commitments. It can be nice to have a quiet house to myself for a change but I do miss them.

An Apology to Iphone Users - You are not Data Hogs after all.

In a reply to my previous post DM Osbon pointed out that Iphone users mainly browse text based web pages like blog readers and twitter. I googled around for more data and I was surprised with the results: This survey suggests that 68% of Canadian Iphone users use less than 500Mb per month: 2009 Poll Here is a description of a more recent Consumer Reports study that pegged typical Iphone usage at only 273Mb per month: Consumer Reports Study Blackberry users come in at a very modest 50Mb per month (unsurprising given the strong association between Blackberry and email). I am quite pleased to see that my own mobile internet usage fits right into the consumer reports statistics as a user of an "other smartphone", average data 150Mb/month. I don't feel such a cheapskate any more for sticking with my miserly 250Mb data package.

Tethering on a Budget with Opera Turbo

I have a bargain basement data package on my mobile phone that includes a mere 250Mb per month of data. I am sure that my provider would love me to upgrade and the threat of completely outrageous out of package rates does weigh on my mind (would you believe 2c per kb!!!) but 250Mb is really more than adequate for all my small screen Internet needs. A typical half hour browsing blogs and forums during my morning commute to work uses no more than a megabyte or so. While a quarter of a Gb might seem piteous to an Iphone using you-tube junkie it more than suffices for my text heavy web browsing tastes. At least it did until I discovered tethering. You see my new laptop has built in Blue-tooth and my phone is happy to share the benefits of browsing anywhere to the laptop through the magic of tethering. Except there is a problem. My first 10 minute browsing session via tethering consumed 10Mb of data. A quick back of envelope calculation indicated that I could blow my entire monthly data a

The Golden Age of Gaming: A Prophetic Article from 2001

In a prophetic Gamesfirst article from 2001 Mark Blackburn predicted the rise of casual gaming. It is a particularly interesting article written at the very end of what Mark terms the golden age of PC gaming. While his hopeful prediction that computers would continue to dominate serious gaming leaving casual gaming to console players has not worked out at all, the main thrust of Blackburn's argument certainly holds true. Describing that heady period of the late 1990's Mark says: Imagine that for five years the majority of films were made for a select and highly sophisticated audience. An audience versed in the history of cinema and able to, at a glance, discern a variety of influences. Imagine if almost every book published for five years was aimed at the most literate and critically aware individuals. I contend that that has been the state of computer games from say 1996 to 2001, and we are currently in the last days of the golden age. Today nearly a decade after Mark&#

Gaming Diary - Boredom is the key word of the week.

Allods - I really enjoyed the first ten levels but now at level 12 I have left the starter city and boredom has set in with a bang. I suspect that deep down I know I am never going to stick around until end game and that kills any incentive to keep plugging away at those kill ten Hyaneas/ Rats/ Slugs quests. I am really not in an mmo mood at the moment. On the other hand one of my kids has started a character and seems to enjoy it so I may stick around for a bit just to babysit her. Spellforce - This really is a strange hybrid of RPG and RTS. Unfortunately the game so far has not lived up to the superb tutorial but I will probably try another few levels. The levels by the way are absolutely enormous and with nothing more than a postage stamp sized mini map it is easy to get lost. My main difficulty so far is that the game is too easy even on hard mode. For example I just completed a level where I as able to build a town and recruit an army behind the safety of a locked door befor

Spellforce: Probably the best tutorial I have ever played.

I like RPG games. I like RTS games. Spellforce offers an unusual combination of both so it was an easy call to buy the platinum edition of Spellforce   for less than €4 in Steam's weekend sale.   (spell force cover art copyright Phenomic / Jowood, Source Wikipedia) The RTS phase of the game seems competently executed in the style of Age of Empires but I am not fully convinced that the RPG elements fit in though. Picture this: You hire workers to gather resources to build a town to recruit an army to hold off the dark hordes and finally march on their stronghold. Then after your mighty army has finally vanquished the Orcish threat you stumble across a odd looking chap with a question mark over his head who asks you to help him find his reading glasses. Its seems a bit incongruous to me but it is early days yet and I am only on the second map. Perhaps the wisdom of this marriage of styles will become clearer to me later. Before I finish however I have to comment on the game'