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Showing posts from March, 2013

The Room (IOS, Android): Frictionless Difficulty Scaling

You might think you have played a game like "The Room" before but you haven't. The basic premise,  solving a series puzzles to unlock increasingly more challenging levels  sounds familiar. There is a plethora of games involving rooms, locks, gates, cubes etc that employ this mechanic. Yet "The Room" is different in a few key respects.  In the first instance the sheer quality of game sets it above most of its peers. Beautifully ornate artwork and animation  show off the game's multi level puzzles while an atmospheric sound track adds greatly to the ambience. What really sets the game apart for me though is the effortless way the game tackles difficulty scaling. Difficulty is the greatest problem for any puzzle game. Too easy and the game becomes boring for lack of challenge. Too hard and I will eventually give up in despair or be forced to make a humiliating trip to Youtube to find out how to proceed. "The Room" deals with this by including a p

In which the obvious is shown to be not so obvious at all.

My wife does not know how to right click. I learned this while trying to introduce her to a new PC game. It took me a while to spot what she was doing wrong because I blithely assumed that everyone knows what right-click means. When I eventually spotted what was happening I asked her why she wasn't pressing the right mouse button she replied "Oh that button? I never use that. The mouse is already in my right hand so I assumed that right clicking just means pressing the normal mouse button." Before chuckling at my wife's naivety (what on earth does she so when the computer asks for a left click?) please consider this: This lady is not dumb, nor is she a computer novice. Far from it in fact. This is a very smart highly successful professional who has been using computers heavily for more than twenty years.  In her work she routinely creates enormous complex spreadsheets. At home she is an avid photographer and has mastered a host of complex image processing programm

Using Netvibes on a mobile device

If you are one of the new migrants to Netvibes you may not realise that it has several mobile clients. You may want to try them all out before choosing the one which suits you best. I mix and match depending on the deice I am using and the quality of my internet connection. To get each version just type the url into the address bar of your browser. This text only version of Netvibes looks really ugly but I find it very useful useful on my phone. It gives you the information you need with no extraneous distractions and you can always click the header of a post to get to the original webpage if you need more. Great if your internet signal is weak because it uses almost no bandwidth. It only seems to show RSS feeds though so any fancy Netvibes widgets don't show. It doesn't seem to be able to judge screen size so be prepared to do a bit of manual zooming to use this. This is the official Netvibes entry point for all  mobile devices. It

Not everyone is unhappy about the closure of Google Reader

Banner message across the Netvibes front page today (emphasis is mine): If you're experiencing slowdowns or feed latency, please bear with us as we work hard to handle a huge amount of new users . Thank you for your patience If you aren't familiar with Netvibes it offers a customised web portal (like the soon to be shuttered iGoogle) but it also includes a very flexible feed reading capability (like the soon to be closed Google Reader). I suspect that the big influx of new users are all migrants from Google. I have been using Netvibes for several years now. I originally switched from iGoogle and Google reader because Netvibes has much better support for mobile devices, even on Googles own Android platform but I am very happy with Netvibes overall and heartily reccommend it.   EDIT: Looks like I was right. Netvibes official blog have credited the increase with the closure of Google's reader and has already put up a helpful "how to migrate" page .

Far Cry 3 Thoughts on Finishing the Game

Main campaign completed, every outpost conquered, every radio tower climbed, every skill earned, every item crafted and a bunch of other side missions done along the way. I think I can take a break from the game now.  I wrote my early impressions of the game before and I am still very much in agreement with those thoughts. In order to get the most out of this game you need to immerse yourself in the abundance of side missions and activities on offer and once you do it is a terrific gaming experience. At that early point I was a little bit worried that it was too easy to unlock powerful weaponry early in the game which imbalances the early fights. This is particularly true if you take the scenic route and do lots of side missions (and you really should). Happily this problem rectifies itself after a while and by the end of the game you are facing hordes of tough enemies so you need all the weaponry you can get. The main campaign is utterly silly which is a pity but it has some gr

Did you grow up in a normal family?

Rare personal post coming, apologies in advance. Pointing to the jumble of clothes in our hot press my daughter complained that we don't fold our clothes "like normal families do". That simple grumble triggered a knee jerk fear reaction in me. My kids are embarking upon that great adventure in life called "The Teenage Years" and it scares me silly. It scares me because we have had so much fun and closeness during the preteen years and I know that that closeness is probably going to loosen a bit as my kids forge their own adult lives and personalities. I am going to miss that closeness so much. It scares me because of all the big bad nasties that the world has in store for young folk growing up even though I think we have done a pretty good job of preparing them. Most of all though it scares me because I remember my own teenage years as a dark and confusing time of disillusionment, loneliness and self doubt. I really don't want them to experience the sam