Tag Archives: Gaming

Isaac

The darkness twisted around Isaac, swirling through the towering pine trees that surrounded him.  Fear induced paralysis gripped the former eraser factory foreman, he knew they were there, watching him, he could hear the rustling, the whispers.  Isaac’s mind raced with thoughts of the pointed red hats, the demonic stares, the puzzles.  Not the puzzles, please God no, not the puzzles.

Isaac blinked.  A face, deep red in colour, eyes filled with evil intent stared up at him from 2 feet away, white beard rustling lightly in the breeze.  The force of Isaac’s heartbeat increased, he could almost hear it.  It wasn’t real.  Isaac blinked again, this time on purpose.

A second face, identical in every way to the first, this one only a foot away.  They weren’t real.  How could they be?  Folklore.  Myth.  NOT… REAL…

Eyes screwed tight, every fibre of his being forced the disbelief through his tired brain.

A weight tugged on Isaacs torso, a claw like grip climbed its way up his sagging thermal pyjamas.  NOT REAL…

A whisper in his left ear caused Isaac’s eyes to snap open.  Whirling his head around while his eyes tried desperately to focus in the gloom.  Stick like red arms with gnarled and pointed fingers clasped his soaked attire.  The face stared at him.

“If all seven sides of a cube are equal in length to the circumference of its diameter…”

Isaac reeled backwards, cutting off the gnome’s whispered riddle, tripping backwards over a root protruding from the base of a nearby tree.  As he stumbled Isaac caught sight of the horde of red gnomes standing before him.  Rows and rows of tiny red bodies lined the forest floor, spindly legs and feet piercing the crisp snow.  Each of them possessing a deathly gaze aimed directly at Isaac.

The scream pierced the night.  A cloud of condensed air blasting forth from the mouth of a bedraggled man.  Isaac clambered to his feet and ran.  Streaming through the pitch black, charging as fast as he could, kicking up icy snow in clouds behind him.  Isaac ran for his life.

—***—

*beep* …… *beep* …… *beep*

“patient … stable … found him … woods … -thermic cold … expect him to wa- … been out … days … -alking about hidden peop-… -uzzles…”

Muffled voices all around him, the scuffing of feet, the scraping of a chair across tiled flooring.  Sounds he knew.  Sounds he recognised.

Isaac gently opened his eyes, gradually allowing them to adjust to the burning white lights around him.  His surroundings were as he’d expected, a stiff sheet covered his body as he lay on a hard mattress.  A cold white, sterile environment, machines whirring and beeping, covered in flashing lights.

His head span, muddled thoughts pulsed across his synapses trying to comprehend the situation.  There was a factory, he worked there.  He had a wife, Glori.  Something about brothers, and a lodge.  Meditation.  Nordic traditions.  Bjorn.  Hidden People.  Puzzles.

Isaac tried to raise his hand but discovered it was bound to the bed.  So were his feet.  Isaac pulled at the tethers holding him down, contorting his body, trying to free himself.  Something red flashed in the corner of his eye.  He froze.  Slowly, Isaac turned his head toward whatever it was, fear creeping up on him.

The piercing gaze of a red faced, white bearded gnome met his from across the room.  Perched on a stool, adjusting the angle of its pointed hat.  It smiled.

“Isaac?  Are you awake?  It’s me.  Glori.”

The screams, and the rattling of leather bindings against brass buckles filled the room and adjoining corridors.

A group of gnomes ran into the room.  They pinned Isaac to the bed.  A sharp pain in his arm.  Slowly Isaacs struggles began to calm.  Isaac’s head became heavy and his eyes began to close.  As his vision dimmed to black the last thing Isaac saw was a gnome scurrying out of the room.  It appeared to be crying.

“Isaac” is an entirely made-up-in-my-brain continuation of the story presented in the game Puzzle Agent, produced by Telltale Games, based on the work of Graham Annable

Thanks for reading.

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And Yet It Moves

On Sunday I decided to play through a game that’s sat in my Steam library for a very long time.  I honestly can’t remember when I purchased it, it’s been so long that I had absolutely no idea what it was about.

That was why I investigated it, a quick trip to the Steam Store page revealed what sounded like a fun little indie title with a straightforward but interesting game mechanic.

The ability to rotate the game world adds a different element to gameplay, and although it can confuse you as to which way you’re supposed to be heading at times it is used relatively effectively most of the time.  I played with my PS3 controller hooked up to my iMac and at one point had to rebind my initial choice of world rotation buttons to make it a bit easier to rotate in the correct direction.  It helped, but at crucial world rotation points I still found I’d rotate the wrong way which was irritating, I would assume these occurrences would happen more often playing with a keyboard.

The artwork seems to be a fairly contentious point on the internet, some love it, some hate it.  I found that whilst playing through the game I’d be concentrating more on the character than the setting and quite liked the artwork, it’s quirky and I haven’t seen it anywhere else.  However, as soon as you start looking at the scenery you can tell it’s just simple images tiled over and over again and any brief analysis removes the magic of simplicity.  The character animation is relatively dull, you play as a sketched character with a highly annoying hairstyle, that’s pretty much the only thing worth noting about that.

Controlling the character is easy as pie.  Left, right and jump are all you need, most of the navigation is done by the world rotation mechanic.  Although simple, character control feels incredibly sluggish, the movement animation shows a running character, but running is not what you’re doing.  Jumping is awkwardly delayed, especially in levels where you must bounce increasingly higher on springy platforms.  I spent far too long trying to time the jumping correctly to gain height, only to miss once and have to start over.  Often times I would also find myself rotating the world too early due to the slow jumping and end up either falling straight to my death or rotating the world in all sorts of different directions to try and rectify the situation, only to die despite my efforts.

And on the subject of dying in the game, death doesn’t seem to be consistent, if that makes sense?!  Falling from a high place will make you die in most games, this is no exception, but the game seems to make up the height required to die depending on how it feels.  Sometimes you can fall from what seems to be an unsurvivable height and live, at these times you think to yourself “oh cool, I didn’t die”, but when the game decides that you’re going to die when you fall only a fraction of that same distance you’ll find yourself yelling obscenities at the monitor.

I also found myself thinking that in the presented environment it should be possible to use the game mechanics to ‘save’ yourself.  If skilled, quick world rotation was executed, you should be able to control your descent to a point at which you can safely land, compose yourself, work your way back and try again.  Sadly this isn’t the case, if you start falling, you’ll just speed up and die as soon as you hit something.  It is a frustrating experience, made even more annoying by the fact that there is an achievement unlocked if you “fall through a whole level from the first check point to the level end point (and rip there)”.  It’s the parentheses that bug me, clearly the developers have thought this possible (and 1.6% of players have proved that), why not make it more fun (especially for speed runners) by making it possible to land and complete the level in this way?!

And Yet It Moves is touted as a puzzle-platform game.  There are certainly platforms, but the puzzle aspect is severely lacking.  Most puzzles are just a mater of figuring out which way to rotate the world, most of which are a case of “I need to get there, which is 90 degrees from where I’m standing” and considering that this is the major mechanic of the game you get good at working out those problems very quickly.  There are certain instances where you have to use world rotation to make certain things go somewhere, examples are making bats fly in the correct direction to make a lizard run away (I don’t know either!?), or turning the world so that a falling droplet of water reaches a destination without hitting any of the scenery.  Despite being an interesting use of the mechanic, these puzzles are few and far between, only two or three per chapter, and aren’t very difficult at all.  There was only one puzzle in which I considered myself stuck, and that only took a few extra tries to figure out how to complete it.

The game is short, but most indie titles are so I’ll forgive it.  Unfortunately there is not much replay value for anyone who isn’t fussed about achievements or speed runs.  I can see that speed runners would have a blast at this (despite the lack of character speed), and some of the available achievements seem like they’d be almost impossible to get so folks could spend hours getting them all.  I’m not that kind of gamer though and my general view of the game is (as you can probably tell) not particularly great so I have no desire to open it up again in order to play through levels once more.  A level editor would be a great addition, being able to create your own levels and play through other people’s would be an incentive to return but for now you’re just stuck with the same 3 chapters.

I wouldn’t recommend And Yet It Moves. If you have a few hours and nothing else to play, it’ll help you kill the time, but I wouldn’t go out and buy it for any special reason.  The game feels unrefined, it requires polish, and some improvements to the control scheme and physics to make it more playable and less infuriating.

Thanks for reading.

So Many Games

A while ago I posted about gaming on my iMac.

Yesterday I played through a couple of games I’ve had for quite some time and started thinking that I should really play through more of the games I have clogging up my hard drive.

So that is what I shall do.  Play through all the games on my iMac.

I don’t know how long it will take, I’m not going to play them in any particular order, all I know is that I’ll play through them.  And I’m going to write about them too, maybe review type writing, maybe a story, maybe just whether I enjoyed them or not, who knows?!

I’ve created a page that lists all the games on my iMac to keep track of them.  If they’re dated, that’s when I beat the game.  If there’s a link, that’ll go to where I’ve written about them.

https://tomhoyle.wordpress.com/games/

Thanks for reading

iGame

Recently I bought a gaming headset, and a gaming mouse.  They’re not overly fancy, but they are for gaming.

I am a Mac user.  I have been a Mac user for quite some time.  I’ve had my iMac for just over 4 years, before that I had an iBook (still do, but it can’t keep up nowadays) for about 4 years after making the switch from a Windows powered Dell machine.

I love my iMac, and I loved my iBook before that.  I consider myself well versed in the Windows operating systems and I know that I much prefer Mac OS.  I find it much more stable than it’s Microsoft counterpart, it’s more fluid to use, and it has so many useful little features, my favourite being a hotkey to shut the machine down, a thing so small that people might not consider it, but it’s there, and I love it.  And as a photographer, the iMac’s capability for graphical work is fantastic.

One thing Mac’s are often lambasted for however, is gaming.  I remember the torment of not having many games to play on my parent’s Mac II (why oh why did they insist that it was the better machine?).  I had Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, and that was pretty much it.

It’s not that game developers ignore the Mac, it’s that Macs aren’t worth the effort.  Mac’s aren’t built for gaming.

Or at least, they weren’t.

Nowadays we have a slightly different view.  I would say, and I’m sure a lot of people would agree, that Macs still aren’t built for gaming, but on the 12th of May, 2010 a company called Valve mixed things up a bit by releasing a Mac compatible version of their digital distribution software, Steam.  And with it, they brought a multitude of BIG titles.

As soon as it was available I was downloading Steam, eager to get my hands on the free copy of Portal offered.  I beat that on the day I got it (it’s a relatively short game).

I’m not a big gamer, having a Mac for so long has sort of instilled that in me.  Even my PS3 seems to gather dust, but since that fateful day in 2010 I’ve acquired about 50 games in my Steam library.  I’ve beaten 3 of them.

But now, I’m playing more.  I have a huge collection of games considering the amount I play and I want to get through them.  I have a copy of the original Half Life, a game released in 1997 and one that is still regarded as one of the best games ever released, I’ve never played it.

I seem to have suffered some sort of mild anti-game psychological thing for a lot of my life, games aren’t productive, they’re for killing time, they’re not something to be proud of.  All that is absolute bollox, and I’m only just learning this.

When people get home and turn on the TV to watch Eastenders and The X Factor, I fire up YouTube and watch people playing games, they make a living doing it, I am envious of that.  I won’t get to that level, but it’s convinced me that there’s more to gaming than pushing a few buttons.

There are international competitions with prizes worth thousands of dollars.

Science has proven that playing games can enhance brain function, reflexes, hand-eye co-ordination, problem solving.

Communities are built by people playing MMORPGs like World Of Warcraft, people met and friendships formed through key presses and headsets, gaming is social.  The other day I launched Steam with the intent of playing Bioshock Infinite, instead I ended up shooting zombie hordes in Left 4 Dead 2 with a friend until 3am, it was awesome.

But above all of that, games are fun.  And that’s the key, the release of Steam allowed me to put some fun inside my computer.  For that, I thank the folks at Valve.

I’m no pro gamer, I never will be.  I know my Mac won’t be as powerful as your custom built 3k rig with 6 monitors, liquid cooling and flashing lights on the case.  But I don’t give a damn.

I own a Mac, I play games, and I have fun doing it.

Thanks for reading.