Monday, 28 December 2015

Contemplative video games Part II

Back, with the round-up and value part of the summary. In Part 1 I rounded up 12 titles that approximately fit the bill of games that might calm the beast within. They were Dear Esther, Bastion, To the Moon, Trauma, Mind : Path to Thalamus, A new Beginning : Final cut, The Novelist, Year Walk, Proteus, Eidolon, Gone Home, The Graveyard.


 Do the game mechanics make sense, is the keyboard+mouse usable? Are you asked to achieve incredible acrobatics with the mouse to click on a tiny item? Is the game repetitive and non nonsensical at times frustrating in terms of UI? A score of 5 means good and obviously 0 = unusable.

Dear Esther5
To the Moon5
Mind : Path to Thalamus5
A new Beginning : Final cut4
The Novelist5
Year Walk5
Gone Home5
The Graveyard2


Price versus all the rest of the scored factors. Anything over £5 is penalised due to playtime expectations, and anything that has a free complete demo like the browser-based option to play Trauma will get a 5 for excellent value.

Dear Esther£6.994
Bastion£2.74 (demo)5
To the Moon£1.395
Trauma£4.39 (demo)5
Mind : Path to Thalamus£2.993
A new Beginning : Final cut£0.795
The Novelist£5.494
Year Walk£4.792
Gone Home£4.495
The Graveyard£3.99 (demo)2

Artwork : Designed by Freepik -

Youtuber New Year resolutions

So we have a little challenge and a new years resolution declaration all in one.
Roux Harbour
The challenge is to share your new years resolutions for your YouTube channel. I hope as many people possible in the Community will participate.

So, here goes with the resolution making rules:
Record Yourself;
- Introduce Yourself, Your Name, Your Age, Your Nationality
- Introduce Your Channel, What Is It About, Mention If You Have Regular Segments etc.
- Tell Us ONE Resolution That You Have For 2016
- Tell Us What Inspired It/The Thought-process Behind It
- Tell Us If You Think It's Going To Be Hard, Fun, Difficult, Easy etc. To Achieve Your Goal
- Say This Sentence; What Is YOUR 2016 Resolution? I'd Love To Read All About It! Share In The Comments Below!

Hi I'm Conrad aka Zaphodikus, 45, South African, naturalized UK citizen.
My channel primarily covers my adventures in the Augmented reality and outdoors Google game called Ingress, it's very much an amateur learning experiment as channels go. More eclectic, often sporadic the channel keeps me honest, it keeps me playing a game which is much healthier than the Minecraft addiction that preceded it. My goal is achievable, but really audacious, I'm a computer programmer, and we call goals like this a BHAG, Big, Haury, Audacious, basically a mission statement size resolution. So my goal is to get to around 5000 views per month - and eventually $5 estimated earnings. It's a very long walk and I'll need to grow from 30 to around 300 subscribers to get there. Wish me luck.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Xmas went wrong, a little

It's the day after Xmas, and I realize that with Mom flown off to South Africa on a mercy mission, that Dad is stuck with 2 teenagers. Not exactly a problem untill you discover that Mr Braam Junior is having a hump  the gifts the Father Xmas gave for Xmas were not nearly good enough or just not up to expectations. Whatever, it's dumper time.

Rescue me Zoni

So I wrote a Letter to the Sony Entertainment Network (SEN) , yes God knows why they have 2 products that are essentially the same thing, but Playstation or SEN, it's the same piece of console junk at this point. So here is my letter:

1. I thought my son would start using the console again if I got him a game, our PS3 is almost a dustmagnet otherwise. He likes counterstrike, I suppose that's not a playstation game. But the game I got him sux apparently. I paid and downloaded
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (1)
(£19.99)  downloaded beforehand so we would not have to wait for the download, which was a dumb idea. Don't get things for teenagers that they don't want, it got into a bug sulk over this. Please can you refund transaction  -----------------to my wallet?

2. I decided to make the best of a bad thing and topped up the wallet so he could choose something himself, but it turns out that Destiny: The Taken King (1)
(£19.99) is DLC which was not clear from the store - so now we have 1 game that we cannot play (transaction
-------- ) and one that we will not play. Is there a way to rescue this console. I really hope it's possible with a little help from you guys.

Thanks in advance

And I got a response a few days later: 

Hi Conrad,

Just a quick note to let you know that we’ve refunded your purchase of [Destiny Taken King & Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare] and so £39.99 has been credited back to your account Wallet as agreed.

Your reference number -----------------------

Drop us a line if you ever need us again.


PlayStation Support


In a footnote to this situation, we also have a PS2, why? Will binning it pollute another small town's water-table with lead or should I recycle it along with the PS3 and buy yet another single-purpose device? Actually that's a lie the PS3 is a excellent blue-ray disc player, which would make sense if the remote control was not shaped like a fist and I actually had any blue-ray disks.

Steaming Steam

I hope the SONY support is better than Steam support  - note the dates and the fact that this Steam client bug below is still reproducible today.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

New genre : contemplative computer games

This is a brand new genre of games currently dominated by no publisher specifically but inhabited largely by Indie games. It's what I call the contemplative games.

Now I've been gaming for ages, like, when you ask me  "What was your first PC based RPG?" I'll shout out TOEE for example. If you don't know it, you were in nappies at the time. I used to create Doom and Quake LAN parties, and my first youtube was in fact a Lan party promotional clip. Yes, we even used phones, serial cables and co-axial cable for our first gaming Saturday. In those days we always had a BBQ (or braai) to follow. But let's leave the romance behind and get to the core of the contemplative games genre.
These games all have only 2 things in common:
  • Dying is not a bad thing, and there is zero stress
  • You will not get carpal tunnel syndrome
In a few of the games in this category, it is possible to die, while playing Anna for example, if you fall off cliffs or just walk into the water, you get a gentle rebuke and resume a few yards away. (spoiler: Anna requires you to step off the edge sometimes, literally and figuratively) . It's no secret and would not be fun, but in Bastion, you will die too. The narrator tells you off, but in a lazy kind of way, almost like a benevolent grandmother chiding you for stealing a biscuit and letting yourself be caught. Bastion is one of the few games in this category where a lot of crazy clicking is involved. But its in this category for a reason, and that reason is a set of elements the contemplative genre all have to score very highly on to get included. A contemplative game is never a shoot-em-up either, so its never going to deliver 60 hours of playtime, in fact 3 hours is the median. They are thus not a target market for publishing houses, and are thus a little harder to find since they occupy a niche. But it's that niche that I have come to love, which is why I'm sharing it today. If any of these games do interest you, please wait for my next instalment before buying anything, I'm going to tackle Money-Value and line them up in a rough order next week. Broadly I'll be scoring on Artwork, Sound, Plot Playability , Value and stinkers (in next week's post).


To be a truly good contemplative game, there must be great artwork, or great soundtrack, sometimes both. Bastion scores so highly in these two areas that it makes up for the fact that it's a top-down isometric platform-shooter game. So at this point I'm going to go into the list and hint at the scores.
Dear Esther 5/5
Bastion 5/5
To the Moon 5/5
Trauma 4/5
Mind : Path to Thalamus 3/5
A new Beginning : Final cut 3/5
The Novelist 4/5
Year Walk 2/5
Proteus 2/5
Gone Home 2/5
The Graveyard 2/5

If a game you see here got a terrible score for Artwork, run down this page a bit more just in case it has a redeeming feature, no guarantees, since I have included a few stinkers.


Music, sound effect usage and environment immersion through sound.
Dear Esther 3/5
Bastion 5/5
To the Moon 5/5
Trauma 4/5
Mind : Path to Thalamus 2/5
A new Beginning : Final cut 2/5
The Novelist 2/5
Year Walk 2/5
Proteus 2/5
Eidolon 3/5
Gone Home 3/5
The Graveyard 2/5


I'm going to come right out here, this is probably the most subjective scoring area. For example I scored A new Beginning into this category only because the plot was about Green activism and time travel. It's a point and click adventure, and unfortunately you will die and will have to do a few puzzles, but none of  those where you go to location A, collect item, return to B, collect Item, go to C and then back to A.

Dear Esther 4/5
Bastion 5/5
To the Moon 5/5
Trauma 5/5
Mind : Path to Thalamus 3/5
A new Beginning : Final cut 3/5
The Novelist 4/5
Year Walk 2/5
Proteus 2/5
Eidolon 2/5
Gone Home 5/5
The Graveyard 2/5

Next week: Playability and Value

To score in this area, the game must be mechanically good, not having mouse support when its really needed will kill you, not having ergonomic keyboard features when it's needed likewise.

Many games in this category are low value, there are many reasons for this, as I've hinted at last week.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Time until Tescos cereal aisle contains e-ink displays on packaging

James: 3.5 years
Conrad: 5.5 years

Time until tescos cereal aisle contains eink displays on packaging.
(written on 13/7/2012) Friday 13th.