I Am Not Cut Out For Space Exploration

1 04 2015

Space Planet

Recently I have been playing FTL: Faster Than Light on Steam. It is a rather fun game. It’s sort of a cross between a puzzle game and an RTS (Real Time Strategy) intermixed with the subject of space exploration. I quite like it and continue to play it, but it has taught me one important thing; and that is that I am not cut out for space exploration (even though the likelihood of me receiving the opportunity of going up into space in the first place is very unlikely).

FTL

Now basing such a statement on a video game could be seen as something of a rash statement, but here is why I think that. When I got it; it made me think of games like Evil Genius in terms of its internal look, as in the ships in FTL looks like the lair design in Evil Genius. I liked the idea of doing something similar to Star Trek or possibly Firefly (Even though I have not seen Firefly and do not consider myself a Star Trek Fan, even though I have watched the occasional episode of Next Generation and occasionally Voyager). Just the idea of going through space, exploring it and controlling the aspects of my ship while engaged in specific situations.

Space Shuttle

The thing is, for many years I have calculated that I would more than likely go insane if I went into space. Just the idea of being somewhere that I would not exactly consider safe, but also being left to drift in space, even if I was in a ship or station. But it’s from playing FTL that I came to the conclusion of the earlier statement. While I have begun to improve through understandings of previous missions that have all gone belly up, even so much to the point of me having yet to clear the first stage of galaxies (I have unlocked the second ship; The Torus, even though it is a pretty pointless ship) my planning and reactions in the heat of the situation usually lead me to defeat. Some of these though can come down to me causing the issues from bad planning and excessively opening the doors. When an intruder is on board, or in more common occurrences, a fire breaks out, my first plan is to cordon off the areas where my ship’s crew are, and then open the doors into space to suck out the oxygen. It works mostly, but eventually people break through the doors. When an intruder is on board though, I usually stick as much of my crew as I can, in the medical bay so that when the intruders get there, my crew get healed quickly. These ideas though don’t work all the time and sometimes my crew will die trying to put the fire out as the doors are broken and me having to regularly send them to the medical bay before they die. Unless of course the medical bay is damaged and needs fixing, or the oxygen is cut off.

Kestrel

Other cases though include my willingness to fight ships to gain resources off them and denying them surrender in the hope of getting more resources off them. Eventually this has led to complete destruction, uncontrollable fires, intruders on board and oxygen leaks. The number of dead Kestrel spaceships that must be floating through space thanks to me must be astronomical. While my learning of these situations has led me to the point that I need to upgrade what systems I can to expect these situations, I need to show restraint when given the opportunity to fight, as well as let them surrender every now and then.

Kestrel In Space

I don’t know if FTL is how space exploration works or not, but given that I am playing it on easy mode and I have met failure on several occasions, I can quite confidently say; that I am not cut out for Space Exploration.

Space Planets

GENEPOOL





The Steam Issue

25 03 2015

Steam (Valve Corporation, 2003 - Present)

Ok, I have had my problems with Steam in the past, but most of those old ones are more or less resolved right now. Anyway, most of them came as a result of Supreme Commander 2. No, my latest issue with Steam is trying to decide what to play. I now have a large collection of games on Steam but choosing what to play is becoming something of a problem, but luckily the reasoning behind it is rather simple to explain. Still rather hard to solve.

Payday 2

The issue is not knowing whether or not my laptop will be able to play them or not. Since putting Steam on this laptop, most of the games I have played have not had much of an issue in terms of the power needed to play them. But more and more games that I have recently acquired require an element more power and so while they are easy to install, their gameplay is a little lacklustre. A couple of examples include Brütal Legend and Payday 2. I really like the first Payday, I think it’s absolutely terrific and offers a little more in multiplayer terms than Left 4 Dead 2. When I played Payday 2 however, it was apocalyptically slow and the only way I could make it any quicker was to drastically reduce every setting, and that still wasn’t enough. As for Brütal Legend, while I have previously played it on the PS3, on the PC it took time from the press of a button to the action being committed. So in the driving scenes this became particularly annoying. Due to these issues I have begun to get a little put off before putting titles on the Laptop due to the unsure-ity of whether or not they will be playable.

Skulls of the Shogun

More recently I have been playing a lot of mini games, things I can enjoy briefly while taking a break. Games include; Kingdom Rush, Skulls of the Shogun and One Finger Death Punch. But I still want to play games that are big and contain stories. Games that are mostly (First Person is preferable) action orientated but more importantly involve stories. Something to get into and involved with. The 2 games that stand out the most in this are is the Borderlands games, of which I have played 1 and 2. I love those games, but I don’t want to just continually play them over and over again when I have already done them. I need a touch of Variety. More recently I played The Wolf Among Us which I enjoyed so much, it is questioning me whether or not it is my favourite game.

The Wolf Among Us

I do have a PC upstairs which was purchased to be a gaming computer, but there is a list of problems that are just growing with that one. More recently I used it to play GOG.com games as I found that it was hard to play both a GOG.com game on my Laptop and have Steam installed games too. So I use the PC for GOG.com Games. This is also a better option for it too as the Wi-Fi signal is rather weak upstairs, whereas the laptop serves as a better platform for some PC gaming on Steam, such as Co-op. Other issues with the PC are that it is getting rather old and due to my choice of operating system (Vista) for when I bought it in 2007, several online features are being lost. For instance, I can’t have the next version of Internet Explorer on it, so I can’t use Facebook, and now neither can I access my GOG.com Profile. So an upgrade or a replacement is probably due, but I don’t have the money. However the machine still allows me to watch my; Region 1, DVD Coding, collection of Godzilla Films (due to them not being released in the UK, almost at all). In an ideal world I would replace it with something much more powerful and then have a wired internet connection to produce top quality gameplay play back. But as said, I don’t have the money to do so.

GOG.com Logo

Back to the steam issue, I have a lot of games I want to play, but am in fear of they’ll work or not. Recently I did try to play Metro 2033, but after the initial install, it just wouldn’t play, can’t remember why now. It pretty much refused to just start and showed me a box with a red X in it. Other games I have a worry for include Dead Island because it looks too graphically powered, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (or sometimes simply referred to as KOTOR) but mainly because it’s for an old OS, Saints Row: The Third, because I played Co-op with my brother and it jittered a lot, but that could be an internet connection issue (also I don’t do well controlling things in third person), Just Cause 2, Dragon Age: Origins, Risen (mostly because I don’t know what it’s about, the same has to go to Sacred 2 and Sacred Citadel) and the BioShock games (however at time of writing, I was installing 1, which I had also played on PS3). It has become something of fear and disappointment to me as I don’t know If I can play these games or not, and if when I buy something on Steam, I’ll be able to play it or not.

BioShock

Eventually I am just going to have to buck up and try it when I get games because I can’t necessarily let this thing corrode whether or not I want to play something. I have had some recent help from friends who have said which games should be playable or not, so I suppose I should just get on with it really. Or I could just go back to having GOG.com games on my Laptop again. I may finally be able to play a proper online game of Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds in that case.

Borderlands 2

GENEPOOL (So far, Bioshock is working).





Game Dev Tycoon

14 01 2015

Game Dev Tycoon Logo

Several years ago I dreamed and tried to get into the Video Games Industry, unfortunately I was unsuccessful in achieving this due to me being terrible at programming (C++ in particular). While originally down hearted I moved on and decided to pursue a different career altogether. This past week however I stepped into the video games industry, by playing Game Dev Tycoon on Steam.

Steam (Valve Corporation, 2003 - Present)

Game Dev Tycoon (produced by Greenheart Games) allows the player the opportunity to start their own video game company and rise through the ranks in a 35 year period creating video games for a variety of consoles and research new techniques and topics in the hope of becoming the biggest video game company in the world. You start in your garage on a simple PC but as your company gets bigger and better, you obtain new premises. From your work space you can create your own video games. This involves choosing a topic, genre and platform. As you research new topics you can research new things to choose from including making your own custom game engine, target audiences and multiple platforms and genres. As the game progresses further you can unlock more options as to what kind of work you go into including work contracts and publishing deals and as your operation gets larger and larger you will need to hire more people.

GDT1

You don’t need to worry too much about detail though when it comes to making a game as this involves a little mini game where you chooses what you want it to be, give it a name and designation and then move little sliders up and down in certain topics and then attaching certain members of your team to work on certain elements when making a much bigger game. Then when it is complete you need to air out the bugs in the programme, then release it and wait for the reviews of it and see how it sells. Juggling all of these elements is hard work but if you’re capable of it and succeed you can make a lot of cash. But even then that is not an easy thing.

GDT2

Like other Tycoon games, Game Dev Tycoon isn’t exactly easy. The biggest problem is making enough money to stay afloat. The first few games you produce it is sort of easy, but you lose £8,000 (money denominations don’t really exist in the game and instead money is represented as standard figures with K representing thousand and M million) each week in operation. This increases the bigger your company gets and soon a few thousand won’t cut it. It is easy enough though to make a few hundred thousand but you will need to start making more. Bigger games offer this opportunity, but are expensive to produce, and while you could get a publishing deal (which helps garner more fans to your company and bigger titles less risky), the only problem is, is that if you don’t meet a certain level of requirements in the reviews stage they will fine you and you only get so much money in royalties from the publisher. Then next to that there is the money you may or not spend on marketing and then the cubicle at G3. Money is required to do everything and it is not easy to come by it, particularly if you are behind the competition.

GDT4

Research is very important in this game and research is harder to come by than money, but it needs to be done. In the early stages of your company you will use it to get basic things, like a custom game engine and other topics, but as you get bigger and bigger, it’s important to study more techniques and improve your games in the long haul as 2D and text-based games are not going to cut it on a PlaySystem 2. Oh yeah, that’s another thing, Game Dev Tycoon adds a little humour to the game industry, taking things that exist and then spinning on them. E3 becomes G3, Companies like Sega and Sony become Vega and Vonny and game consoles look like their real version but with a spin on design, colour and name, like Game Sphere (GameCube).

GDT6

Game Dev Tycoon is a lot of fun to play and relatively addictive as it is quite simple. There are several short comings to it though. In the early parts of the game, the only way to know what works in a game is to make it, wait for the reviews then write a game report. In those early stages it is easy to make a rubbish game and easily fluke a good one. Good reviews help with money, but if your game is rubbish, you have little chance of making profit. It was not until my third attempt (first to companies went bankrupt, third was the only time so far that I was able to get to the end of the 35 years and still not be in debt; the company name was Mighty Pigeon) that the research and studies into certain points helped that I got a knack in what I was doing and made good games continuously. But the reviews can still be pretty random and it is hard to get it exactly right. Game Reports do help with this though. The game also throws huge numbers of advice screens at you saying it would be easier to do publishing deals and get fan numbers before working on your own games; however the money isn’t really worth it. Other times the game does this is when it asks if you want to move to another studio and bigger operation. If you decide to wait some time, instead of giving you the option of a button to press when ready, you need to wait until the box comes up again, and if still not ready, it’s back to waiting (and some times the game buttons can stick when you click them).

GDT5

Making games can also get pretty tiresome and samey after a while and it’s only when you research new options that things get a little more interesting. However; in order to make these games with new options and possibilities, you need to put them into a new game engine and only then can they be used. So, you end up spending most of your research points you acquire on new things to make bigger and better game engines. And this can get really annoying, particularly as research is scarcer than money and you need it to train your staff as well. Hiring more people helps with this issue, but hiring is expensive and operating cash gets drier the more people you hire. In the end, you need to make compromises and try to figure out what is more important, and for me and the company it was the engine. Hiring staff though does mean you can put certain people on certain tasks that they are better at than others, but you will need to send them on vacation at some point.

GDT3

Game Dev Tycoon isn’t exactly what you would call easy, it’s easier than some Tycoon games but it is relatively a hard game. But in many a way it’s more a puzzle based game similar to some flash titles online than a tycoon based game. But altogether Game Dev Tycoon is rather fun to play and also can be quite addictive. Even if the game gets samey in spots, you still care about trying to get money (or like I did in my fourth game, tried to make rubbish games to go bankrupt). It can be interesting in places when you produce a game that the reviews say is mediocre but then goes on to become something of a hit, but most of these instances involve a publishing deal. While the game can also be horrible to you as well, sometimes it can give you surprises. While the game does have shortcomings including fewer options when it comes to research and the constant advice boxes and it’s reply value is rather small and only for the pursuit of doing better, and the story of the game is the same every time, I do rather like this game. It may not be to every body’s tastes or as big as games like Borderlands or Call of Duty; Game Dev Tycoon is a nice small game to play when you have some time to play something short, and also gives an insight into the world of Video Games Development also.

GENEPOOL





I Have Finally Bought Crysis

7 01 2015

Crysis (Crytek - 2007)

Back in 2007, I was watching Gamer.TV and for several episodes over the span of the year, they mentioned an upcoming game called Crysis. I was very much interested in the game. I liked the look of it, the graphic power on display, pretty much; every time they mentioned it on the show I had my eyes glued to the set. I very much wanted to play this game, a lot; but there was a problem. Due to what looked like extremely high-powered graphics, I was very unsure if my PC would play it. Due to this issue, I held off buying it. As the years ticked by, the game had an expansion and 2 sequels released, and so far I had yet to play it. I still wanted to, but was still unsure if my PC would play it, and while the sequels were released on consoles, I still wanted to play the first game first.

Crysis 2 (Crytek - 2011)

Then, I discovered that Crysis 1 had been released on the PS3; and as I looked through PlayStation Store, I found it and wanted to get it and play it. That was about 2 years ago. The thing is I needed to remember it and have enough money for it. I usually have my purchases all lined up ahead. I pretty much have it down as projects, what am I going to get next. So this held me back some more from finally playing Crysis. This past December though, I finally decided to get it in January. Well seeing as it was Christmas I needed to concentrate on gift buying for people, but I pushed myself to get it in January. I also had some luck as the price of the game was reduced from £15 (give or take) to £5 (give or take). I waited until a bit after New Year to see if the recent outage would sort itself out, I then went online, went through the minefield of needing to figure out how to change my billing details and then finally bought Crysis, seven or so years since it was originally released. So far, I have yet to play it.

PS3 Logo

When I bought it I thought instead of downloading it there and then I thought I would wait till a day this week, to put the PS3 in the dining room where the Wi-Fi box is located and get a stronger sequel. I have had many issues in the past with downloading things onto my PS3. When I see a sign saying the game or machine or program requires an update I usually get a bit depressed. More recent updates have been relatively quick and easy and done within 5 or 10 minutes; however over the years since buying the console I have had to download updates so big that in some cases they took many hours until they were completed. What annoyed me more than that though was when games were first released and on day one required an update. These were pretty rare and the only two I can remember were MAG and Far Cry 3.

MAG Title

More than likely, I will get round to downloading Crysis within the next few weeks, but probably only really when I can actively leave the console for a few hours to do so, like a whole afternoon. Once I do that I can finally get round to playing it, which given by past experience should be sometime around 2017.

GENEPOOL

 









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