Category Archives: Games for big kids

ESO and my digital house

I’m trying hard not to think about what’s happening in the US at the moment so here’s my version of a distraction – in-game house building, with pics!

But first, a bit of info. about what I mean by ‘in-game housing’. Probably the best way to describe it is to say it’s like playing with a 3D dolls house except that your digital character is the ‘doll’.

The motivation for wanting such a 3D house is similar to what drives us to buy houses in the real world. My character may not be able to ‘live’ in this house, but she can still enjoy it. Plus, let’s be honest, having a house is a bit of a status symbol because you have to work for it. The same applies to in-game housing. You have to pay for it by performing ‘work’ in the game. The house can also be filled with ‘special’ things that can only be gained by performing some hard-to-do task or event. And finally, players like me who love crafting can also do a lot of DIY to personalise their ‘home’.

My in-game character[s] aren’t rich by player standards, but because I’m a Master Crafter and gather most of the materials I need, I can ‘build’ things I would otherwise not be able to afford. So think of me as a DIY-er. ๐Ÿ™‚

So, on to that house! First up is a ‘before’ pic of the base housing I’ve been working on:

Click the image to get the fullscreen view. Click the ‘back’ arrow to return to the post.

As you can see, it’s just a tiny little house on a smallish block with a big fence all around it. What you can’t see is the beautiful view on the other side of that fence. It was that view which kickstarted my design for the house and block.

This next pic is of the same place, from much the same angle, but this time there’s a ground floor extension on one side of the original house, and a three storey extension on the other:

Same house with a radical make-over

I literally built all of that new stuff with my own two, digital hands. Well, I did use the available components but in rather unexpected ways. The secret is to see objects as shapes rather than as ‘functions’. Thus, for example, I used two ‘leant-to sheds’ to create a peaked roof on the three storey extension. And when I couldn’t find wall components of a certain size, I fudged them by using stone ‘tables’ instead.

I won’t bore you with how I made everything, but I will use the block editor’s slideshow feature to take you through the house, room by room. This is going to be pretty graphics heavy so if the pics take an age to load…I’m sorry!

I like this slideshow feature, but it would be even nicer if you could click on one of the pics to get a full screen view, as you can with ‘normal’ pics. Next time I’ll experiment with the ‘gallery’ display.

And because my favourite view is hard to see, I’ll repeat it here so you can click on it:

which leads to the roof…

Hope you enjoyed my little tour. If anyone wants to know how to create a similar slideshow, please mention it in comments, and I’ll put a how-to post together for you.

cheers,
Meeks


ESO and the kitchen sink…

I promise, this post will be unlike anything you’ve ever seen before! Mwahahaha…

– serious face –

One of the things I love about ESO [Elder Scrolls Online] is the powerful, and very flexible housing system. All my gold goes on recipes for housing ‘furniture’. But while I can make a great looking bath tub, complete with steam rising from the water, there is no recipe yet for kitchen sinks, or bathroom sinks for that matter. And don’t get me started on the lack of loos!

Ahem. In an odd twist, the very lack of a kitchen sink has generated more innovation amongst ESO housing enthusiasts than just about anything else I can think of. And I’m obsessed as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

The video below [not mine!] shows how to create a couple of kitchen sinks from other ‘things’. When you smoosh these things together, you get some amazing results:

Smile. ๐Ÿ™‚

Meeks


Augmented Reality [AR] game set in Melbourne

As a gamer and denizen of Melbourne [Australia], how could I resist this New Atlas article about an AR game set in the city I love?

‘The game is the first in the True Crime Mysteries series by indie studio 10Tickles, helmed by husband-and-wife team Andy Yong and Emma Ramsay. The couple are both fascinated by true crime, history and the city of Melbourne itself, and so set out to build an augmented reality experience that tapped into all three.’

You can read the entire article by clicking the link below:

https://newatlas.com/games/true-crime-augmented-reality-game-misadventure-little-lon/

cheers

Meeks


A naughty weekend in Warrandyte

No! Not that kind of weekend…;) This kind of weekend:

The lighting effects are truly glorious in Elder Scrolls Online, and they inspired me to create classically inspired interiors for my in-game house. That involved finding recipes, gathering ingredients and finally crafting beautiful items like:

…the goblets and knick knacks you can see displayed on that shelving.

I also splurged and bought a very expensive recipe for a glass goblet and some ‘food’. In this last screenshot, you can see my wedge of cheese, the bread platter, and some kebabs. Dinner chez moi. ๐Ÿ™‚

I loved the player housing in Final Fantasy XIV, but the housing and control in ESO are an order of magnitude better. Harder to master, but I think the effects speak for themselves. And yes, I did spend a lot of time playing this weekend. But I also spent a lot of time, and most of my energy mowing. I literally did not have enough oomph left over to write. Today, though, I will make up for lost time.

cheers

Meeks

 

 


Eyesight & Oculus Rift

As an old[er] gamer with dodgy eyesight, I’ve been worried that I’d never be able to play VR [virtual reality] games. Well, yesterday I learned that I can. ๐Ÿ˜€

But first things first: what is Oculus Rift? Basically, it’s a very expensive piece of headgear that makes it possible to view imaginary things as if they were real. The model I tried out yesterday looks like this:

As well as the goggles and inbuilt headphones, the Oculus Rift comes with two handsets that transmit Wifi data to the two ‘receiver’ units positioned in front of the ‘player’.

All of this hardware is controlled by specialist software running on a fairly powerful pc. Without getting too technical, the software sends two, separate, high resolution images to the lens inside the headset. The appropriate image then bounces through one of the lens and into the left or right eye.

To get an idea of how this works, close one eye and look at an object. Close both eyes and move a few inches to the left. Now open the other eye and look at the object again. The object hasn’t changed at all, but the viewing angle has – i.e. you’re seeing a part of the object you haven’t seen before. Put the two images together, and you get a 3D image.

The human brain interprets these separate images all the time using a process called ‘stereopsis‘. But for some individuals, stereopsis doesn’t develop as it should. The brain still gets streams of images from both eyes, but these individuals see depth using a process called ‘motion parallax‘.

I am one of these individuals, and that’s why I worried I wouldn’t be able to see in VR. But I can! I can.ย My spatial awareness expanded right out, and when a bunch of very large robots suddenly turned feral and loomed over me, I instinctively threw my hands up to protect my head! I also squeaked in fear, but the less said about that the better. ๐Ÿ˜€

This is a video of a bunch of older people experiencing VR for the first time:

The headset shown in the video clip is the VIVE rather than the Oculus Rift, but the experience is much the same.

I wasn’t wearing glasses when I tried out the Rift, but apparently you can fit your normal glasses inside the goggles by adjusting the fit.

And now a word or two about the quality of the graphics. I wasn’t wearing any of my glasses [I have 3, one each for long, mid-range and close viewing] and that may have made the graphics less than optimal. Or it may be that the graphics still need to be improved. Or perhaps you simply need bleeding edge computer hardware to get the best results. Whatever the reason, I was in no danger of mistaking computer generated graphics for the real thing. But…the sensation of depth really does trick the brain into believing the images are real. One day, we may not be able to perceive the difference at all.

Finally, some unpleasant aspects of the hardware. For starters, the goggles are heavy. Whilst you’re ‘inside’, you tend to forget about the weight because there’s so much there to distract you, but it does feel a bit like carrying half a brick around on your head. It’s also hot. Yesterday was only warm, but after ten minutes playing with the Rift, my hair was wet with sweat.

A big part of the weight of the Rift comes from the glass lenses that make the magic possible. Given how young the technology is, I suspect the mechanics will be improved rapidly. One improvement I would very much like to see is in the handsets. Although they are far more intuitive than the controllers used with consoles, they’re still clunky. Gloves and a full-body suit with embedded sensors would be miles better.ย They’d also be miles more expensive, but hopefully the price will come down by the time I can afford to buy one. ๐Ÿ˜‰

All in all, I loved my taste of VR, and now that I know I can see despite the issues with my eyesight, I’m determined to own my own setup…one day.

cheers

Meeks


House hunting on ESO

I’ve been playing ESO [Elder Scrolls Online] for quite a few months now, and whilst I’ve enjoyed learning the game, I’ve also missed not having a player ‘house’ of my own. Player housing was one of the things that kept me at FFXIV for so many years. Anyway, I think I’ve finally found the house of my dreams! I can’t afford it yet, but now I have something to aim for, and here it is:

That’s my character, looking down at the house and walled garden.

The player housing in ESO comes in four five sizes:

  1. a room at an inn,
  2. a small house with no garden [it’s fully instanced and you teleport to it],
  3. a small house with a garden [I think that’s the category my house occupies,
  4. medium houses with gardens and
  5. walled estates, some of which can be truly huge.

As you’d expect, the price for most of the housing depends on size and the amenities offered. The largest estates also have game-play requirements that must be met before you can lay your money down.

Before I tell you how much my house will cost, let me show you some more views. This first one is the view that sold me on the house:

I’m stand on a large deck that leads to the front door. Because it’s so high up, I actually get a view over the top of the walled garden to the river beyond [most houses have no view]. The house is called Sleek Creek House and it’s located in an area called Reaper’s March. As an Aussie, that vista feels strangely like home. ๐Ÿ™‚

The next view is from the shallows, looking back up at the house. The graphics are truly incredible, especially the quality of the light. Oh, and there are gathering nodes right outside the garden!:

Next up is a view of the small town that overlooks the house. It’s called Rawl’hka. Sounds like something out of Vokhtah, doesn’t it?

Apart from being very picturesque, Rawl’hka also contains all the amenities available in the large cities – stablemaster, crafting, bank, guild traders, and what appears to be a large, vibrant player population.

And now the fly in the ointment. Sleek Creek House costs 335,000 gold. I currently possess 38,000 gold. I’m not going to do the math because I’ll simply become depressed. The important thing is that I have a goal. Now I just have to find a way to achieve it.

“Everyone needs a reason to get up in the morning.” ๐Ÿ˜€

cheers,

Meeks


Steve Bannon and gaming cheats

It’s not often two of my passions combine, but this Washington Post article links the 45th US President’s chief advisor, Steve Bannon, with a company called IGE:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/steve-bannon-once-guided-a-global-firm-that-made-millions-helping-gamers-cheat/2017/08/04/ef7ae442-76c8-11e7-803f-a6c989606ac7_story.html?utm_term=.969894a83c07

In a nutshell, IGE was the brains and money behind what we gamers call ‘gold farmers’. Think virtual sweatshops in which players from poor countries earn a tiny wage for accumulating desirable ‘goods’ from online games. These valuables are then sold to lazy gamers for real money so that they can have all the goodies…without having to work for it themselves.

Most gamers hate gold farmers, and so do the developers of the games they play. It’s a despicable practice that most games do not allow. In fact, most games ban players caught farming for gold, or trying to sell these items back to players. And guess who worked for IGE during this time? Yup, Steve Bannon. And no, there is no way he could not have known what was going on. Making money off gold farmers and players was IGE’s only business model.

These days, bots have put most flesh and blood gold farmers out of work, but the practice is still despicable.

My thanks to Candy Korman for alerting me to this mindblowing article.

cheers

Meeks

 


Can you see what I see…?

Life’s been rather hectic of late, so my posts have been more sporadic than usual, but today I want to show you something that I think is quite wonderful. And no, I’m not going to tell you, I’m going to show you.

Have a look at these three screenshots and tell me what you see:

Yes, all three screenshots are computer generated. And yes, they are all from a game, but the amazing thing is the mirror.

I’ve been playing games of one sort or another for close to 20 years, and in all that time I’ve never seen a mirror used in any game I’ve ever played. Now, it may be that I’ve played the wrong sort of games, or it may be that mirrors use up too many resources, or… Whatever the reason, mirrors haven’t been a part of the graphics, and I have always felt the lack.

Reflections are such a fundamental part of how we see the world, and ourselves.ย  Think about it. We catch sight of our reflection a hundred times a day – in mirrors, shop windows, highly polished tables, glossy cupboards, ponds, even spoons. They are everywhere in the real world, but not in the virtual world, and to me it feels odd. Like not having a shadow.

Remember when gaming graphics were so primitive that no one even dreamed of adding shadows? Now they’re commonplace in most games with high end graphics. I predict that one day soon, reflections will become just as commonplace as shadows because they add an almost subliminal element to our ability to immerse ourselves in a virtual environment.

For now, though, my friend George is the trail blazer in this area. The mirror is his, as is the game, and I think both are going to be quite extraordinary.

cheers

Meeks


#FFXIV – decorating my new room

Non-gamers look away now!

Just a couple of pics of my room in the Tonberry FC. Absolutely adore the ‘rust red’ of the walls:

and…

Okay, back to work now. -waves-

Meeks

 

 

 


The Adventures of a rubber ball :D

I haven’t played this addictive little game on a smartphone yet, but I have played an early beta version of it on my pc – and even then it was a lot of fun!

It sort of reminded me of the old Nintendo game called Snake Rattle n Roll. Not in any similarity of graphics or gameplay, but rather in the adrenaline pumping need to get to that next level….-cough-

The game was developed – from scratch – by my friend George Panayiotou. Some of you may remember George from comments.Not only is he a brilliant game designer, he also taught himself Maya [Maya is the computer graphics program used to create most of the best CG in movies], and he’s a very talented graphic designer.

George and I go way back to an online forum called guru3D. It was a fun forum in which to hang out, but more importantly, it was a great place to learn from a bunch of very clever geeks. ๐Ÿ˜€

Aaaanyway…if you play games on your mobile phone, why not give The Adventures of a RubberBall a go?

The link below will take you to George’s site:

http://www.singlepixel-soft.eu/2016/10/the-release-of-adventures-of-rubber-ball.html?m=1

I believe you can get the Adventures of a RubberBall [for Android] from Google Play. The iOS App Store is coming soon. ๐Ÿ™‚

Congratulations George!

cheers

Meeks

 


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