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Showing posts from November, 2011

Portal 2 finished now on to split screen multiplayer

Really really good. A really well polished experience with plenty of humour and a good story to tag along with. I loved the ending. Puzzles are probably a bit easier than the original although I had my share of head scratching moments none the less. I have actually gotten my daughter interested in playing although I get motion sickness looking over her shoulder. I came across a how to post telling how to get split screen multi-player on one PC . It was a bit fiddly to get going but  now it works an I am looking forward to playing a few co-op levels with her. Curious that Valve should include the code for split screen multiplayer on the PC version of the game but not actually offer it to players.

Fun Android Game: Defender

Edit: My statement that you need more than 50% wall remaining to get a bonus crystal is not correct. In fact you need more than 30% of your whatever maximum wall is. You start out with wall of 100 and it increases in steps of 10. If you maximum wall is more than 150 then you need more than 50 remaining to get the bonus. A bigger wall is still better though because you always have a safety margin of 70% of your maximum wall.  My mobile distraction of choice this week is Droidhen's simply named "Defender" on my Android phone. Defender is a wall defence game where you use a combination of a bow and magic spells to fend off hordes of enemies. It is very slickly made with attractive graphics and fun gameplay. Defender is free to play in the "but you can pay if you want to progress faster" sense. Lest you doubt the efficacy of this business model I should point out that Defender is riding near the top of the Android money making chart at the moment. There are t

Is high end PVP all that different from high end PVE?

Thanks to Syncaine for pointing out the excellent Rooks and Kings videos of truly impressive Eve online encounters.I am no expert on EVE but it is clear that Rooks and Kings are masters of their trade employing extreme theory crafting to come up with builds and strategies that allow a small number of highly co-ordinated ships to take on defeat forces that appear to be far superior to them on paper. Clarion Call 3 is the best video because it has an epic storyline but  it makes more sense if you watch the sequence in order from Clarion Call 1 to 3. Essentially they have developed a number of precision tanking strategies that enable their small fleets to absorb all the damage that large opposing fleets can throw at them thereby allowing the Rooks and Kings fleet to pick off their enemies one by one. The thing that struck me most about these videos is how similar the Rooks and Kings approach is to that of high end PVE guilds in other games. The employ extensive theory crafting to m

X3 Reunion update

I finally got around to completing the third mission which caused so much grief earlier. Despite having picked up a Nova heavy fighter in the meantime I actually used the Buster ship I started with in the end. A bit of combat experience earned fighting pirates made all the difference and I was able to deal with the fighter escorts quickly enough to follow the target as he jumped between systems.I think the key lesson I learned in combat is that strafing (using the A &D keys) does actually work and helps avoid enemy fire even though it is hard to notice the sideways movement against the background of the stars. I am sure I will need to move up from my Buster eventually but for now I am enjoying its combination of speed and firepower. It is also loaded with the software I need to control a small but expanding fleet of ships. I now have three Buster medium fighters, one Nova Heavy fighter and a Mercury hauler. Capturing pirate ships remains my most reliable means of earning money

X3 Reunion continuing adventures

When I started playing X3 I tried to get a far as I could without consulting faqs or guides. After persevering for almost twenty hours I decided it was time to compromise my principles. There are too many undocumented features and the user interface is just too unhelpful to try to struggle on. Simple case in point: When you buy a new ship you are immediately presented with a menu of fittings that you can add to your purchase. Unfortunately this menu is just a list of whatever parts are available in the local system. It isn't filtered on any way. Even if your ship can only handle a single 1MW shield the game will happily sell you ten 25MW shields to fit to it.  There doesn't seem to be any way of accessing information on what fittings your new ship can take until after you exit this menu. Such frustrations with the user interface are commonplace. My current compromise is to consult the internet for help with game mechanics but I am still trying to avoid "spoilers"

X3: Reunion - for gamers who think Eve online is too casual.

Tim (Van Hemlock) has been playing a bit of X3 Terran Conflict which reminded me that I have an unplayed copy of X3 Reunion on my shelf since way back in 2005. This game is hard. There is no tutorial and the manual seems intended to intimidate rather than inform aspiring players. I could complain about the dreadfully unintuitive user interface except that I have a strong suspicion it is deliberately made that way to frighten off those who are not hard enough. The carrot for those who persevere, I am told, is a universe of unparalleled depth where the dedicated can carve out an empire. First hour in game: Hmmm, there doesn't seem to be a tutorial. In fact I am being asked to teach some rookie pilots the ropes. Thankfully I have played enough space games to know that you don't aim at the enemy ship you aim at the little lead indicator which tells you where they will be by the time your bullets get to them. I manage to shoot down a few bad guys and we survive. Second hour in

Skyrim a runaway success. Hope for Humanity after all?

I probably won't get to play Skyrim until the Christmas Holidays but I am very pleased to see that Bethseda have something of a Mega hit on their hands. Of course I can't comment on the game until I play it but if I know Elder scrolls games I am sure it has oodles of depth and dashes of genius with quite a few flaws as well. I am also absolutely sure that this is not a casual game at least not in the Angry Birds / Farmville sense.

A little experiment in human behaviour

We keep a jug of filtered drinking water in our fridge. The water from the tap is perfectly palatable but chilled water is that bit nicer so the jug is popular. It is a matter of seconds to fill the jug but it takes several minutes to trickle through the filter and a lot longer to cool down to a nice level of chilliness. It is therefore very frustrating to reach for the jug and find it empty and I take care to top it up every time I use it. Unfortunately other members of my family do not seem to be as considerate and on many occasions I have gone to the fridge only to be disappointed by a nearly empty jug. My usual response in circumstances like this is to express my dissatisfaction loudly in what my kids term a "Father Rant". This makes me feel better for a little while but long experience has convinced me that such rants are incapable of producing any lasting change of behaviour. On this occasion therefore I decided to be a little more scientific. Analysing the proble

A hint for Homeworld 2

Homeworld 2 came out to a lukewarm reception eight years ago. The latest patch doesn't even work on a modern computer so it is quite possible that I am the only person on the planet still playing it. Nevertheless that will not stop me from giving my own unasked for piece of advice to any other retro gamer out there thinking of trying it. This is not game breaking advice nor even a spoiler really but it is a hint that I have not seen mentioned elsewhere in the guides that were written many years ago. So for what it is worth my advice is to experiment with sensor distortion probes. These act like normal probes sweeping away the fog of war and illuminating enemies over a wide area but they have the added advantage of obscuring any of your units within the probes range from the enemies viewpoint until they get very close. It is like stealth mode for your entire fleet. What is not to like? I have looked over the guides on Gamefaqs and surprisingly none of them recommend this very u

Homeworld 2

I loved the original Homeworld the beautiful beautiful atmospheric space based RTS from 1999. Homeworld Cataclysm was a worthy follow on but when Homeworld 2 came out in 2003 it didn't receive the same universal praise. Perhaps influenced by those lack-lustre reviews I never got around to playing the game until now despite the copy that has been sitting on my shelf of "to be played" games for years. Anyhow the game has kept me entertained for more than a week and I have only one more level to go before I complete the single player campaign. With the benefit of distance I can see that it is a good game but it suffers from comparison with it's predecessor. As a follow up it would have had to pull a few surprises to have the same impact as the original game and it doesn't. The first game just overflowed with brilliant levels but here the level design is competent rather than stunning. The developers also took a curious approach to difficulty setting. The levels a

Living in a house with paper walls. Thoughts on privacy in a connected world.

Tom (name changed for reasons of confidentiality) is a real life friend. His kids play with our kids. Tom and his wife have come to parties in our house and we have had dinner with them. There is nothing unusual in this except that Tom is also a gamer. Those under the age of 35 may find it hard to believe that this is unusual among men of my generation. For most of my generation gaming ended decades ago ago when the pursuit of the opposite sex became a more pressing concern than pushing coins into a Space Invaders machine. Sure they may have enjoy a few games of Wii Sports with their own kids but that is the extent of their knowledge of the modern state of the game. Anyhow Tom is a gamer and I want to talk about our gaming relationship. A few years back this amounted to no more than brief conversations about the latest Call of Duty while our wives discussed other issues. The we realised we were both on Steam and we added each other to friends lists. While conflicting real life timet

A lesson in usability from an octengenarian.

If you want to learn about usability then spend some time teaching an elderly person to use a piece of modern technology. Yesterday I got a phone call from an elderly relative who had bought a new TV and was having difficulty tuning in the channels. It quickly became apparent that I wasn't going to solve this over the phone so I hopped into my car and went around to her house. "Everything worked yesterday" she told me. "The man who installed the TV tuned in all the channels and showed me how to use it but I accidentally pressed the wrong button this morning and now I can only get channel 1" The TV was a brand new Philips LCD and a few minutes playing with it convinced me that there was nothing wrong. The installer had programmed in 15 channels including all the channels this lady wanted to watch. "It's all working now", I said. "You must have gotten stuck in a menu somewhere. This is how you get back out of any menu". "No N