Category Archives: Games for big kids

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. 🙂

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. 😀

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. 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. 😀

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. They’d also be miles more expensive, but hopefully the price will come down by the time I can afford to buy one. 😉

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. 🙂

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.” 😀

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.  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. 😀

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. 🙂

Congratulations George!

cheers

Meeks

 


#FFXIV – The Vault

I’ve always believed that the definition of true courage is not a lack of fear but the exact opposite – lots of fear but the courage to push ahead anyway. Sadly, I’ve been less than courageous the last six [?] months, putting off doing The Vault dungeon until I’d literally run out of anything more interesting to do. 😦

Well, my Summoner, Meeka Thara, has finally done The Vault. Twas not glorious. I died at the three quarter mark of the third boss, but luckily the rest of the party finished him off while I lay ignobly dead at their feet. -sigh- I did learn a few things that may help others though. What follows is for newbies, and is only a kind of overview and tips type thing. You should still watch videos of the fight and read up on it for the complete mechanics.

So, to the overview and tips:

  1. Unless you’re incredibly overpowered, the trash mobs are actually quite hard. Not Limit Break type hard, but hard, and they aggro from quite a distance. Party members who run ahead of the tank are stupid, plain and simple.
  2. The first two bosses [Ser Adelphel and Ser Grinnaux] start out almost easy, but when you get them down to about 20% HP they morph into much harder creatures, so don’t be lulled into a false sense of security.
  3. As per usual, the 2nd boss [Ser Grinnaux] is harder than the first and uses some mechanics that can trap the unwary. One of them is the aetherial tear [or void gate]. The Boss throws these void gates around the outer edge of the circular arena. Standing near a void gate will cause boss 2 void gatesome damage and stacks of vulnerability. Unfortunately, it’s not just a case of avoiding these gates. Every so often, the boss does an aoe knockback that sends everyone to the wall. If you get knocked back into a void gate it’s not good. As much as possible, try to position yourself so your back always faces an undamaged section of wall. I did read one forum post that advocated stacking the void gates all in one place to make it easier to avoid them but…I don’t know how you’re supposed to do that.
  4. The third and most powerful Boss [Ser Charibert] is hard right from the beginning. His mechanics include:
    1. Heavens Flames – these are circular fire aoes that target each, individual player – i.e. you will always have to be on the lookout for them,
    2. Chains – this mechanic chains two players together and keeps doing damage until the chain is snapped. If the two players are standing fairly close together when they are chained, they just have to run a short distance away from each other to snap it. If, however, the players are a long way apart when they are chained, they may not be able to put enough distance between each other to snap the chain.
    3. Knights – look like huge chess pieces and march in a row from the north of the arena to the south. Contact with one of theseboss 3 knights Knights causes damage AND a powerful Attack Speed Slow. This is not the kind of debuff you want when fighting a boss. The good thing, however, is that the Knights can be avoided, at least in the early part of the fight because they’re fairly slow and always keep to a straight line [think of them as moving line aoes].
  5. One strategy I read which worked really well during the early part of the fight is illustrated in the follow graphic: boss 3 schematicThe idea of stacking on the tank is that you automatically avoid the lines of Knights. You also have heaps more room to move if you get chained. It does work so long as you keep track of where the boss and tank are. 🙂
  6. At about 60% health, the boss disappears and returns with 2 adds – both Knights, but these ones can do line aoes. He also casts Holy Flames. There are about 6 [?] of these positioned around the outer perimeter and DPS have to kill them asap. Holy Flames are boss 3 at 60 percent holy flames followed by a room wide aoe called Pure of Heart. Now I’ve read that Pure of Heart can be followed by Sacred Flame, which is another room wide aoe. Apparently Sacred Flame depends upon whether the Holy Flames were all extinguished prior to Pure of Heart going off. We got all the Flames so I didn’t actually see this for myself. I assume it would have been bad though.
  7. In all the videos and guides, they say that after the Holy Flames/Pure of Heart sequence, everything else is ‘just’ more of the same but ‘a bit faster’ until the boss dies. Hmm….
  8. The reality is that phase 2 of the fight is when the boss throws everything at you at top speed, again and again and again. Knights charge down, chains happen along with fire aoes, and it’s all happening at once and OVERLAPS. Dodging the Knights was easy in the beginning but now with everything hitting you at once, moving and fighting at the same time becomes problematic, at least it did for me. boss 3 phase 2As you can see, a new line of Knights is forming in the top of the screen before the first lot have even passed. It’s rather chaotic and unless you’ve got your camera pulled out as far as it will go, seeing what’s happening [so you can avoid it] is difficult. This is around about where I died, probably because I was just too slow.

Given my lightning fast reflexes – chokes laughing – I should have just focused on my feet and forgotten about everything else. After all, the rest of the party managed just fine without me. Instead I tried to dodge while casting like the healer – awesome healer, by the way – and I failed.

So there you have it. Another dungeon, and a morning wasted on gated content that I hate, and no writing done, but at least I now have something more to do until the next trial in the game [Bismarck]. At this point, all I want to do is get past the gated content and reach the Dravinian Hinterlands for the crafting. After that, who knows.

cheers

Meeks

p.s. if you click on the screenshots, you should be taken to the Youtube video from which they were taken.


#VR – will it need safety standards?

The following quote describes the [current] experience of VR [virtual reality]:

‘“The gap between ‘things that happen to my character’ and ‘things that happen to me’ is bridged,” Stephan said. This distinction can transform an experience from merely flinch-inducing to sincerely frightening. “The way I process these scares is not through the eyes of a person using their critical media-viewing faculty but through the eyes of I, the self, with all of the very human, systems-level, subconscious voodoo that comes along with that.”’

Given how immersive even normal gaming can be, I do not find this phenomenon all that surprising. What I do find surprising is the genuine note of warning sounded in the article. You can find the entire story here:

http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/the-coming-horror-of-virtual-reality

[and thanks to the Passive Guy for pointing the way]

Back to VR. As a gamer, I’ve been thinking about the consequences of addiction for a long time, and in Emmi’s story [in The Vintage Egg], one of the ideas I toss out there is that in the future, legislation will stop gamers from ‘playing’ for longer than a few hours. For their own good.

Will society really impose restrictions on the use of VR and AR [Augmented Reality]?

-shrug- Who knows, but it is gratifying to find that someone else is also thinking beyond the ‘oh goody, a new, supa doopa toy’ to the possible consequences of using that toy. I suspect that we will have to have deaths before the technology is regulated, which is a sobering thought. One thing I am certain about, however, is that next five to ten years will deliver a world-wide, totally voluntary [and probably expensive] social experiment on disruptive technology. 😀

We live in interesting times, neh?

Meeks

 


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