Monday, November 29, 2010

Zed Dev Post: Potential Monsters Ideas - The Shrieker

Just posted another Zed dev post over at Pawngame.com. This one is about the shrieker, a zombie capable of drawing in other zombies with its voice.


Zed Dev Blog: http://www.pawngame.com/beta/zed/
Original Post: http://www.pawngame.com/forum/showthread.php?t=160535

Saturday, November 27, 2010

GreanTech Plus+ Givaway (4 hours left)

Head on over to giveawayoftheday.com if you are interested in getting a copy of greenTech Plus totally free any time in the next 4 hours.

This game normally goes for $3.95 and was developed by Vertico Games, the creators of The Oil Blue.

Lost Horizon

Lost Horizon is a new point and click adventure developed by Animation Arts and released in late 2010. Even from the main menu it is obvious that the story draws lots of inspiration from action movies, and in particular Indiana Jones. And it has great writing and characters in gorgeous far flung locations throughout Europe and Asia. The only problem is that the writing can be quite long winded at times, but it is skip-able.

The story is arguably the best part of Lost Horizon; which is loosely based on the classic 1933 book of the same name. The game is set during the height of the British empire, with the empire in control of China (along with most of the rest of the world). In the game, Fenton Paddock, the main protagonist, is a lovable rogue with a heart of gold. He has been dishonourably discharged from the British military and is now a small time smuggler in Hong Kong. The adventure starts off with his friend, Richard, disappearing during an expedition in Tibet and Fenton going to search for him; But soon turns into a world spanning, apocalypse preventing, damsel in distress saving, grand adventure that revolves around the mystical city of Shambala.


While their are many good puzzles in Lost Horizon, many of them are very ambiguous. These puzzles often, at least for me, degenerated into trying every inventory object with everything in the game world, or consulting a walkthrough; Not that any adventure gamer is not used to hard and non obvious puzzles, and the ones in Lost Horizon and did not distract from the overall experience that much. One good thing about the games puzzles are the action and cooperative parts, which are somewhat unique and in the case of the action parts do a good job of projecting the tension and danger of the scene. Not that you are doing anything groundbreaking in these sections, just solving moderately normal puzzles, but they are presented in such a way as to drive the players interest. Additionally, their are no logic puzzles in the game, which makes it quite easy compared to many other games in the adventure genre.


The presentation was just spot on the entire game; Featuring believable voice acting, mood setting music, and often fantastical visuals to match the story. Where the visuals really shone was the more fantasy environs, the only problem I had with them was you were sometimes in really normal places and the visuals would then be quite realistic, instead of the cartoony over the top style of some of the more mystical locals. Another good point of the presentation, and overall game, that is worth mentioning is the length, I believe it is slightly longer then the average adventure title and the longest adventure game I have played in quite some time. Also, like too many games, the ending is a little anticlimactic, the last few “puzzles” are increasingly simple and would of been better even if they were only replaced with quick time events, and the closing cinematic was only an OK way to close off the game.



Things I Wish I had Known (Spoilers):
  • After a puzzle designed to melt/break some ice you are expected to pick up the contraption you built and use parts of it again. I do not think that I would ever of figured this out without a walkthrough, as every other time in pretty much all adventure games I have played the contraption automatically returns to your hand or it is no longer needed.
  • The end fighting scene that asks you to pick a fighting style, as far as I can tell this is only effects the cut scene visuals and any combination of picks will end in your victory. This really confused me at the time, as their seemed to be no way to gauge which choice to make.


Positives:
A great action adventure story.
Negatives:
Some of the puzzles can be quite unintuitive.
Summery:
A great action adventure story with good puzzles, nice graphics, and interesting locations.
Rating:
4/5
Developer:
Animation Arts
Publisher:
Deep Silver
Release Date:
September 17, 2010
System Requirements:
OS: Windows XP or newer
CPU: 2 GHz
RAM: 512 MB
DirectX: 9.0
Hard Drive: ~4.5 GB
Official Game Web Site:
http://lost-horizon.deepsilver.com/

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Lord of the Rings Online, First Impressions

Lord of the Rings Online is a free to play MMORPG. While it is free to play it does offer you the choice to pay for unlocking certain classes and objects, but you do seem to slowly accumulate store currency as you play so it should be possible to buy these things without paying for them in real cash. It is very similar to World of Warcraft, with the same production values and similar gameplay structure; But I believe that it has many improvements, over and above the price. For example while I have only played one or two classes in both games, but the skills I have been playing with in LotRO are far more enjoyable and strategic then anything I ever played with in WoW. For example the Ranger in Lord of the Rings Online gets (right away, or very quickly) traps and some interesting bow skills in addition to their focus system. The focus system works by increasing your focus as you stand still and deal damage to foes using your bow skills, and allows you to launch very powerful attacks onto your foes when the gauge gets high enough.


Positives:
Its free to play and still features a huge world with tones of stuff to do in it.
Negatives:
Some of the content is only available to paying customers.
Summery:
A great alternative to the subscription based WoW.
Rating:
4/5
Developer:
Turbine
Publisher:
Turbine
Midway Games
Codemasters
Release Date:
April 24, 2007
System Requirements:
OS: Windows XP of newer
CPU: 1.8 GHz
RAM: 512 MB
Video Card: 64 MB
DirectX: 9.0c
Hard Drive: 7 GB
Official Game Web Site:
http://www.lotro.com/

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Zed Dev Post: Potential Monsters Ideas - The Queen

It has been quite a long time since my last post, and me, Blank, and JPillz have all been busy doing different things. Blank and JPillz, of course, have been working on Zed. I am no longer working with them, but have been keeping busy, mostly writing about gaming on my blog. I am not technically back to working with them, but have decided to use my new found writing skills to write a few things for them, and likely come up with some new Zed ideas, or flesh out some existing ones, along the way.

Today I would like to introduce a topic I plan of doing a series of posts on; A open discussion on some monster type ideas that we have had. And by open discussion I mean, I am not just here to show you what we are currently thinking about but to also ask you your opinion, so feel free to share it. Nothing has been decided yet about what monsters will be included and we have not even looked at the requirements or adverse effects of any of them.

Queen/Spawner: The basic idea, a zombie that creates swarms of small weak monsters, if given enough time. Additionally, this creature could have an ability to buff the stats of other monsters. When drawing inspiration for this monster type I think of the queen in the Alien series.

Random Thoughts:
  • As a weakness the creature could only spawn new monsters while immobile, and would need a little time to setup and start producing spawn-lings and a little time to get back into a mobile stance. The idea being she creates a big egg sack to create spawn-lings and needs time to either grow it or detach from it.
  • One of its buff type abilities could be to enrage, and raise the stats of, all monsters in vicinity when damaged. This in effect would give you a lose/lose situation, if you focus on the spawn-lings then they keep coming, if you try to stop the production of spawn-lings then you could add a powerful new monster into the fray, the Queen, and also enrage the existing monsters into a far more powerful frenzy.
  • The Queen should be large, slow, heavily armored, and very powerful with a mid ranged melee attack.
  • Also she could incite her spawn-lings into suicidal defense of her, literally throwing themselves between her and the intruders in an attempt to take the damage instead of her. This could allow her to keep producing monsters and/or since she it likely to have heavy skin and her spawn-lings to have light skin, have you waste your powerful ammo against a weak foe.
  • The spawn-lings, in addition to being small, quick, and lightly armored, should be designed to work will with the queen. For example I would suggest that their main “attack” should be a grapple, where they would jump onto a foe and hold them down preventing them from attacking or moving (allowing the queen to get close and deal the big damage).
  • Additionally their “in defense of the queen at all costs” mentality should be stressed. I am thinking that when they have you in a grapple even after they are dead they continue to hold on in a tight death grip. They could no longer dish out damage to you (not that they would necessarily while alive) but would need significantly more damage dealt to them to dislodge them.


Zed Dev Blog: http://www.pawngame.com/beta/zed/
Original Post: http://www.pawngame.com/forum/showthread.php?t=160195

Diablo II

Diablo II is a hack and slash RPG released in 2000. It is the second in the Diablo series and has a sequel planned. Additionally, It has an expansion, Lord of Destruction, that added a lot of new content and revamped the gameplay.

The basic premise is that hoards of demons have been let loose onto the world and you must go forth and hunt down their leaders to save the world from destruction. You do this using skills you build over time and weapons and armour with procedurally generated stats; and with one of the seven classes, the ranged weaponry wielding Amazon, the sneaky Assassin, the insidious necromancer, the tank Barbarian, the powerful Sorceress, the Druid protected by the power of nature, and the well armoured Paladin who is able to call on the power of white magic.


All of these features combine to be a very fun addicting game. And the best part is that it has free online multiplayer.



Positives:
Awesome skills, procedurally generated weapons and armour, and free online play equals the most addictingly fun game ever created, bar none.
Negatives:
Without a lot of knowledge and experience any character you create will likely suck; In fact their are only a handful of good builds (not that you could not get though the game with a bunch of the less then perfect builds).
Summery:
Diablo II might be a repetitive game but it is also pretty close to perfect at what it does, and that is pure hack and slash fun and addicting RPG levelling and treasure hunting.
Rating:
4.5/5
Developer:
Blizzard
Publisher:
Blizzard, Sierra, HanbitSoft
Release Date:
June 29, 2000
System Requirements:
Windows:
CPU: 233 MHz
RAM: 32 MB
Hard Drive: 650 MB
Mac:
System: 8.1 or newer
CPU: G3 or equivalent
RAM: 64 MB
Hard Drive: 650 MB
Official Game Web Site:
http://www.blizzard.com/games/d2/

Zed

Zed is the working title of a game currently in development by a few long time friends of mine. It is going to be a free to play browser MMORPG zombie survival game. A while ago I was officially part of team and was contributing game concepts, but it eat up to much of my time and even though it was very fun to work on a game, I decided to stopped contributing. But while I was their we discussed quite a few interesting and unique gameplay features we could use, and I believe for the most part a many of them are still slated for implementation. Recently, I approached them and offered to do a few development blog posts for Zed and they agreed, so if you see any short posts in the future that mention Zed and include links to Pawngame.com then you now will have an idea of what is going on

How to Set Bluetooth Off by Default On Linux (Ubuntu 10.10)

If you want to save power, likely make your laptop more secure, and you do not use bluetooth all the time then why not have it disabled by default and still be able to turn it on using all the usual methods. If you are using Linux then all you have to do is to run “rfkill block bluetooth” at start-up. To do this add the line to an existing file (I already had a file named bluetooth, so I used that) in /etc/init.d/ or create a new file with that line.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Fall Trilogy: Chapter 2 Reconstruction

The Fall Trilogy is an amalgam of two genres, point and click adventure and hidden object; It was developed by Kheops Studios and the first two chapters have been released earlier this year. The first game had the unnamed protagonist, apparently suffering from amnesia, fall into a strange jungle temple and have to work his way out by solving puzzles and finding objects. But just as he discovered the exit he, for no apparent reason, started falling again through what appeared to be a high-rise laundry or garbage shoot. Now in the second chapter, Reconstruction, you wake up in the basement of a office building. A phone starts to ring and a mysterious man talks to you, calling you John and tells you to make your way to the 13th floor and search for a USB drive. The conversation seems to imply you are some type of spy or secret agent. With no other direction in your life you decide to follow the mans directions and head to the 13th floor search of the USB drive, a task that will take up the rest of this chapter.


Probably the most lacking part of the entire game is the story. For the most part, in both games, you are dropped into an environment, told little or nothing, and periodically given glimpses of your family as you start to remember your past. In both games you never really see anyone, but in the second chapter you do get instructions once from a mysterious voice and have to avoid security guards in at least one occasion. This lack of plot is really compounded by the bland lifeless environments in both games; These environments really seem like they could never really exist and only exist to hold the next random puzzle that is blocking your path, if you can call following the only available route simply for something to do, a path.

Taking a broad overview on the series looking for clues to what might be going on I first contemplate the name of the series, The Fall Trilogy. After playing the first two chapters I have come to the conclusion that Fall might simply refer to the character falling all the time, which is not a really interesting conclusion. The first game seemed to have a lot of allusions to Indiana Jones, and kind of portrayed the protagonist as an adventuring archaeologist, while the second, disjointedly, seemed to say that the protagonist was a secret agent or spy; The only incite I can gleam from this is that the protagonist must be completely insane and hallucinating or possibly in a coma and simply imagining all of this.


But the game is not nearly all bad, it has many redeeming qualities, and comes off at least as a somewhat average game. It has moderately enjoyable puzzles, and unlike the first game some challenging ones. Additionally, you cannot really get stuck as there are layers upon layers of hints, tips, and help, all intelligently incorporated into the game.


Positives:
Some interesting and even mildly challenging puzzles.
Negatives:
The new location is even more bland then the first game's.
Summery:
A solid game that does not really standout, if you where a fan of the first game then it is mostly more of the same and you will probably enjoy this game, but if like me you were getting bored of the game even before the first chapter finished then there is nothing in this game likely to reawaken your interest.
Rating:
3/5
Developer:
Kheops Studio
Publisher:
Kheops Studio
Release Date:
September 29, 2010
System Requirements:
  • OS: Windows XP or newer
  • CPU: 800 Mhz
  • RAM: 1 GB
  • Video: 64 MB, DirectX 9.0c
  • Hard Drive: 133 MB
Game Web Site:
http://www.the-fall-trilogy.com/chapter2-reconstruction

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Setting Up A Laptop To Work Well with a Desktop

I just got new laptop computer and had to spend a lot of time and visit many different tutorials to get it interacting with my main correctly. I believe that what I have done would be very helpful to most people with a portable and non portable computer, so here is all that I have done in one simple (hopefully) easy to follow source.

Note: The instructions that follow are for a Linux based laptop and a Windows 7 main, but it is possible to do the same things with any combination of operating systems.
Note: If you are interesting in doing anything that is mentioned here but find the instructions too advanced for you please leave a comment and I can explain in more detail.
Note: Many of the solutions need a restart before they will take effect.
Note: I am not even close to a expert in Linux, so if you know any better ways of doing what I am doing then please share your opinion.

What I have done:
  1. Setup a custom script folder on the laptop to allow easy executing of your scripts (needed to make the completed system easy to execute/automate)
  2. Mount main computers shares onto laptop with read and write access
  3. Sync important folders between laptop and main
  4. Remotely turn on main computer from laptop on same network (wake on lan)
  5. Remotely turn off main computer from laptop on same network

Setup Custom Script Folder
If you have custom scripts that you have created or discovered and you want to run them from anywhere in the terminal (just like the built in commands) then you have to add the path of your custom script folder to your PATH variable.

To do this edit ~/.bash_profile and add the line PATH=$PATH:(custom scripts) replacing (custom scripts) with the folder you created (I used $HOME/bin).
This will work for all normal script executions, but will encounter problems with use with the sudo command on some Linux systems (including Ubuntu), as sudo changes the PATH variable in some Linux distros. To fix this edit ~/.bashrc and add the command alias sudo='sudo env PATH=$PATH' .

Example of Use:
1. ~/bin has been added to your PATH as show in previous instructions
2. HelloWorld.sh has been added to the ~/bin folder
3. Now from anywhere in the terminal the HelloWorld script can be run by typing HelloWorld.sh

Mount Main Computer Shares with Read and Write Access
Windows Desktop Steps:
Right click My Computer - Management - Shared Folders - Shares - RC New Share...
Input what you want to share - Enter the share name - I suggest using “Administrators have full access; other users have read-only access”(you need some users with full access)

Linux Laptop Steps:
Install Samba so that you can work with windows shares.
To mount share use: mount -t smbfs -o username=(desktop username with correct permissions),password=(password for specified user),uid=(laptop user that you want to have permission to use the files shared) //(desktop name)/(share name) (mount location)

Sync Folders Between Laptop and Main
I have files that I want to be able to access on both my desktop and my laptop, regardless of where I am and if I am connected to my lan or the internet, and these files are constantly changing. So the only real solution is to have a program sync these folders between my two computers. Since I want to be able to update the files from both my laptop and desktop I want a two way sync, unfortunately the program that seems the best for this on first glance unison did not work for no apparent reason; So I used grsync, a GUI for rsync, and I am glad I did as it seems to have far more options and works quite well.

To start first install grsync (you could of course use the non GUI version, but if you that hard core you probably would not be reading this). Then create two new sessions for all folders you want to sync (one for each direction).
Note: Depending on how much data you have to transfer, the first run could take a long time.
Note: You will need read/write access to both folders for the sync to complete successfully.

Wake On LAN
The desktop, of course, needs to be on to access its shares; And who wants to actually go and turn them on personally? Well their is no need because computers and network adaptors have be designed for a long time now with the functionality to turn themselves on when certain packets are sent to them.

Windows Desktop Setup:
Lan Adaptor properties - Configure - Advanced (for older machines) OR Power Management (on my machine) - Enable wake-on-lan and special packet only.
Restart computer and go into the bios - Under Power Management (or other depending on version) enable wake from S5, or other similar title (S5 means shutdown but plugged into wall).

Linux Laptop Setup:
install the command line utility wakeonlan.
To start up computer use: wakeonlan (mac address of desktop) OR wakeonlan -i (IP address of desktop) to start up computer.

Remote Shutdown
If you are able to turn on your computer remotely then why not be able to turn it off remotely?

Windows Desktop Setup:
To allow remote shutdown edit: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System
Create or edit the 32-bit DWORD LocalAccountTokenFilterPolicy to hold the value 1, deleting this entry or making it equal to 0 will reverse the effect.
Note: this apparently will make your computer less secure.

To shutdown the desktop use: net rpc shutdown -f -I (IP address of desktop) -U (desktop username)%(password for specified user)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

My Top Ten Role Playing Games (RPGs)

CaptainD's just posted my top ten role playing games list over at his blog. Just like last time, this list has never before been seen and can be read at Jonathon Wisnoski's Top Ten Role Playing Games.

In summery:
  1. Super Mario RPG
  2. Mount & Blade
  3. Final Fantasy IV
  4. Deus Ex
  5. Chrono Trigger
  6. Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
  7. Fable
  8. Breath of Fire
  9. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
  10. Mr. Robot

Friday, November 19, 2010

And Yet It Moves Pay What you Want Today Only

And Yet It Moves is a wonderfully fun and clever platformer that uses the ability to switch which side of the screen is up into they main way of  progressing. But it is far more complicated and diverse then many other similar games.

I only played a small part of it, but have always wanted to own and play more of it. And for anyone else who does not own it and likes platforming games, today is your lucky day. For today only AYIM is on sale for whatever you want to pay, even $0. You only have to sign up at the site (which requires nothing special) and click the PWYW button on the right!



Thursday, November 18, 2010

Xbox Games

Personally I think that the Xbox is a under appreciated console. Their are many great Xbox games out there; the Halo series is by far the most famous but many other great exclusive and non-exclusive games exist, including the Far Cry series, the Fable series, the Doom series, Fallout 3, the Driver series, Black, the Mass Effect series, The Chronicles of Riddick, the Dead Rising series, and the Call of Duty series. And games are not all it has going for it, personally I just love how a Xbox (original or 360) controller fits into my hand, I think it is the pinnacle of comfort and control and is really only given a run for its money by the keyboard and mouse.

While I have not played many Xbox 360 games, I did have a Xbox that I played a lot of and I have played many ports of Xbox 360 games on the PC. Of the original Xbox, I really loved The Chronicles of Riddick for its great stealth action, Black, Far Cry, and Urban Chaos for their great and somewhat unique FPS action, Beyond Good and Evil for its great action platforming and story, Armed and Dangerous for it hilarious humour, Syberia for its amazing adventure and story, and Ninja Gaiden for its extremely challenging combat. All of these games were great fun to play and left a lasting impression on me and my opinion of gaming. Of what I have seen of the Xbox 360 it has a far more diverse library of games; From great RPGs like Mass Effect and Dragon Age: Origins through the numerous and ever popular FPSes and sports games to action adventures like Bionic Commando to even a few puzzle/non-action games.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

My Top Ten Adventure Games

CaptainD's just posted my top ten adventure games list over at his blog. This list has never before seen the light of day and can be read at Jonathon Wisnoski's Top Ten Adventure Games.

In summery:
  1. The Dig
  2. The Longest Journey
  3. The Whispered World
  4. Return to Mysterious Island
  5. Syberia
  6. Grim Fandango
  7. Realmyst
  8. Eternally Us
  9. Full Throttle
  10. Runaway: A Road Adventure

Nostradamus – The Last Prophecy

Nostradamus – The Last Prophecy is a 2007 adventure game from Kheops studios. It has great graphics, an interesting story line, and challenging puzzles. Unfortunately, it just did not hold the same magic as many of Kheops's other titles for me.

In Nostradamus you play Madeleine, Nostradamus's daughter. Nostradamus who is, of course, the most famous seer in all of history and a prolific creator and publisher of prophecies. As Madeleine you must investigate a string of deaths connected to one of her fathers prophecies. It is 1566 and a series of unsolved deaths around Queen Mother Catherine de Medicis has lead her to believe she is cursed. Madeleine has been sent to investigate the crime, but the only problem is, as a woman, she is not considered capable enough to conduct it. So not only does she have to investigate the deaths and put a stop to them but also hide her real identity, as she masquerades as her brother C├ęsar.

The game plays very much like a murder mystery with you examining crime scenes, bodies, and evidence with your ever handy investigation kit, or talking to witnesses and suspects. The main difference from other murder mysteries is the setting on Nostradamus. Nostradamus is set in medieval times and as such the player is not taking finger prints or analyzing evidence in a laboratory, instead the player will often be taking astrology readings of people and making alchemy potions.

But their are some things that I did not like about the game. For one, the entire game takes place in a small village that only includes two buildings you can enter, a castle and Nostradamus's estate. This causes a lot of backtracking and reduces the number of interesting places in the game to only a few (and this did not appear to allow more work to be put into the included areas). Additionally, a few astrology puzzles seem to require a working knowledge of astrology to even attempt to complete without a walkthrough. These issues combined with a general lack of polish really brings down what could of been a great game.

Good Points:
The graphics, as always, are very good and add a lot of enjoyment to the experience.

Bad Points:
Some of the puzzles seemed to require a working knowledge of astrology to complete without a walkthrough.

Summery:
Another solid adventure from Kheops Studios.

Rating:
3.5/5

Developer:
Kheops

Publisher:
Elektrogames, Kheops Studio, Mzone Studio, TOTM Studio, MC2, Encore

Release Date:
November, 2007

System Requirements:
OS: Windows 98SE or newer
CPU: 800 Mhz
Video Card: 64 MB
DirectX: 9.0
Hard Drive: 1.6 GB

Official Game Web Site:
http://www.kheops-studio.com/game/nostradamus-the-last-prophecy