Tag Archives: hard

Publishing: How to Tell a Hardware Problem From a Software Problem

Jonez note: This article has been written by the fine folks over at https://businessservicesweek.com if you are interested in various topics you should surely take a look at their site. I found this guest post article quite interesting, so I decided to post it. I found it so interesting, I might revisit this topic in the future with my personal advice.

A computer is made up of various different layers and components, all put in place to perform specifically for the computer’s needs. When a computer breaks or has malfunctioned, it can be a big pain and cause various different issues – especially if you use the computer for work.

save

When we are subject to a computer issue, it can be hard to determine where the problem is coming from. We have been groomed to just instantly turn it off and on again and pray for the best. But, it is more than likely a hardware or software problem. But, to anyone that isn’t very educated in computer makeup, it can be tough to know which is causing the problem.

The Difference Between Hardware and Software

Computer hardware can be defined as any physical attribute used in or with your machine. So, the hardware inside the computer, or the components on the outside such as your mouse, keyboard, server, and workstation. Hardware is anything that can be physically touched. Without these components to your computer, the software wouldn’t have anything to run on.

Software is a collection of code installed onto the computers’ hard drive, that allows the device to perform. Many systems will divide software into 3 different categories. These are system software, programming software, and application software. These major classes are sequenced in a way that will be able to change the state of the hardware of the computer.

Common Hardware Problems

Most common hardware issues are actually caused by your device overheating, and not being able to dispose of that heat to cool down. This can cause issues with all the components and their performance inside of the computer, disrupting workflow. Other than the underlying cause being heat, another way many hardware issues occur is because of physical damage. For example, dropping or smashing your device can cause the component to shift or even break themselves.

Some noticeable hardware problems can be as follows.

Blue Screen

A blue screen occurs when your computer encounters a failure called a ‘stop error’. The coding of this error causes the computer to completely crash and stop working. They can come onto your screen and produce all manners of information and coding that is being saved into your hard drive disk as it is happening. If this happens, the only way the laptop can be saved is to restart it entirely. This can lead to a lot of data loss, as the applications that may be open as the blue screen happens, do not have enough time to save all of their data.

Noisy Hard Drive

Hard drives, unknown to many, have a limited lifespan and these are something you do need to update every few months or years to have optimum performance. So, if there is clicking or disruptive grinding sounds coming from the inside of your computer, then it is highly likely the hard drive needs to be replaced.

Blank Screens

Having a blank monitor is one of the most common hardware problems. A blank screen is something that is most likely to occur at least once in your time when using a computer. This can be an annoyance if the computer is being used for work purposes or important work, so it’s an issue that would really need to be fixed fast. This problem can usually be caused by loose cables in the back of the computer such as the supply cord or video cable. A simple fix would be too check all of these and ensure they are securely plugged in, to decipher if these are the culprits.

Common Software Issues

Most common software issues are caused due to a bug in the coding sequence or because the system is not working as expected due to an external issue. Software problems can cause a lot of frustration as the software coding in your device is what runs your hardware to work smoothly.

Computer Freezing

A very common software issue in many devices is the incessant freezing of applications or the screen whilst it is in use. As the laptop will now not be able to be controlled by the mouse and no clicks are doing anything, the only option left is to restart the computer. But, instead of flicking the main supply to rid the laptop of complete power, just holding down the power button for 5-10 seconds will allow the device to restart without losing power – hopefully leaving any opened work untouched.

App Command Not Working

Another confusing and troublesome software problem that could occur is apps on the device are not loading or responding when opened. This can be caused by the software trying to load too many applications at once, and it just doesn’t have the power to configure them all. On the other hand, it could be the app compatibility with the strength of the software in your device. It may be possible that the device being used does not have the appropriate coding or sequence in its software to run the app.

Ways around these issues will be to either reboot your device and start on a clean screen with no additional applications running in the background – then start up the app you want to see if it loads. Or, it will be to research the chosen application and the environment it needs to work and compare that to your own device.

Your Computer Boots Extremely Slowly

Although a slow computer can be much of an annoyance, it is luckily one of the easiest problems to fix. The most common cause of the system taking its time to boot up is because there are too many applications trying to load at once in the background as your computer is trying to start too. The best way to avoid this issue would be to set all of the applications on the computer to only load when they are being used. This will stop new downloads sticking to their factory settings and loading as soon as the laptop starts – hopefully allowing your device to start a lot faster.

Conclusion

It is an annoyance for almost everyone when a device has problems or isn’t working properly – especially when it is of great importance to everyday life. It is hard to be able to configure by yourself why the problems are happening and find the cause. Therefore, the most beneficial decision would be to take your device to a repair shop, if the issue continues after reading through the tips and tricks of this article.

Gamer’s Thoughts: Difficulty in games

downloadToday I want to talk about something extremely objective subjective. Something not a lot of people agrees on. That subject is the difficulty in games. This isn’t unique to video gaming since other entertainment mediums can be difficult to understand, analyze or appreciate. But, the difficulty is one of the most important factors in gaming. In order to write this article, I have asked in various groups what their opinions about game difficulty are. Are games today too easy? Are difficult games fun to play? Are old school games too difficult? I got some extremely interesting replies. Now, if you have your own opinion on this subject, I would love to talk about it in the comment section down below. Of course, keep it civil down there, everybody has a different opinion.

My own views on game difficulty.

Keep in mind that the following thoughts and opinions are mine. It’s quite possible that you think in a different way due to your different experiences in gaming and/or life. Like I said in the introduction of this article, feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts and opinions on the content of this article and or the subject. With that out of the way, on with the show.

Now, with such a broad subject as game difficulty, it’s quite tricky to give a full opinion. In the introduction alone, I gave a few different angles I could take this article. In addition to that, this subject is extremely subjective. For example, I’m not rhythmic at all. When I talk about the DS, a lot of people talk about games like Elite Beat Agents, a rhythm game. I have to admit that I find this game too difficult.

pokemon goFirst of all, let’s talk about a sentence you often hear us older players say: “Games today are too easy.” Are they really too easy? Well, they became easier in one way but more challenging too. For example, take the Pokémon games. When Game Freak remade the 3rd generation on Nintendo 3DS, one of the biggest complaints was that the game was too easy. And yes, I finished the game without losing 3 battles during the whole playthrough and 2 of these loses were because I wasn’t paying attention during the battle and forgot to heal my Pokémon and the other loss was because I forgot that grass was weak to flying and I most had grass Pokémon in a flying gym. Whoops.

photoNow, why do I think that games can be too easy nowadays? That’s has two reasons. The first reason is that games just got more accessible. Because of the growth of the hobby, a lot more people play video games. So, there need to be ways for every style of player to play video games, even the youngest ones. Thankfully, you have difficulty options that can provide the other players with some additional challenges. Sadly enough, not all games do this. In most games, the difficulty settings have a small explanation of what each level means.

And this brings me to the second reason why games are too easy nowadays and that’s a skill. I have been playing games since I was a young lad. I started playing games give or take 21 years ago. During these years, I have played a TON of games and got a TON of different experiences. That means I have seen quite a lot and the chances of a puzzle stumping me or a fight being too difficult to get slimmer with every game I play.

Is this a bad thing? It depends on what you are looking for in a game. Do you want a game that challenges your strategizing skills or the ability to solve puzzles than the lower difficulty can be a problem? If you are looking for a game to play to pass the time, in that case, the drop in difficulty shouldn’t matter that much.

resident evil 4It’s always a difficult balancing act in how difficult you make your game. Since if a game is too difficult, people will stop playing. A great example for me is Resident Evil 4. There is a section in that game where during an already hectic fight, two chainsaw enemies spawn that kill you instantly when they come to close. There were three times that one of those enemies actually spawned right behind me, giving me no time nor room to turn around and defend myself. These moments I actually rage quitted the game. Another example is Atelier Rorona. The amount of depth in this game is just insane. You have to think about so many things like the freshness of ingredients, how long it takes to collect them and get them home, the amount of MP you have to fight and or craft… It was quite challenging to balance all of these things.

EuropaUniversalisIV_Packshot_editedThat brings me to the question, what makes a game difficult and how difficult should a game be? It speaks for itself that how more layers of gameplay and mechanics you add, the more difficult a game becomes. Take Europa Universalis 4 for example. In this grand strategy game, there are so many mechanics; it’s not even funny anymore. The complexity of a game can turn some people off. I would love to play Europe Universalis 4 with more people but most of my friends don’t understand how the game works or get too scared when they hear how many things they need to think about while playing the game.

In a way, the difficulty of a game can limit your audience. I would love to play a game like Cuphead, but from what I have seen and tried, the game is a bit too much for me. I don’t really like games that depend on memorization or trying over and over again. This makes the game boring and repetitive in my eyes. For me personally, I want to have a great time while I’m playing games. I want some parts to be challenging and test the skills I learned during the game and I want some sections to be easy to play through so I can relax and enjoy the game.

SI_NDS_NewSuperMarioBrosDS_image1600wA game series that nailed difficulty, in my opinion, is the Super Mario World games. In these games, you learn by playing the game. You might have heard this explanation in various other videos or articles but if you haven’t heard it yet, allow me to explain. At the start of the level, you are able to experiment with a new level mechanic in a safe area. One where you can easily avoid the enemies and you don’t have death pits. And the further you go in the level, the more challenging the mechanic or level gimmick becomes. And during the later and last stages of the game, all the challenges are combined into one big final set of levels that test your skills and what you learned through the game. In a way, you can compare it to school. The early levels and sections are the classes while the later levels and finale of the game are the final test/exam.

Now, should games become “NES-hard” again? To be honest, I think we shouldn’t do that. In the current gaming climate, we get a lot of games inspired by the more challenging nature of older games and we also get easier games. That means we have options. Now, we’re all old school games difficult? Were games more challenging in the past? Well, that’s a tricky question to answer.

Tomb Raider LegendFor example, I grew up with the original Tomb Raider games. When I play these games today, I don’t have a lot of trouble with jumping from platform to platform. Of course, due to the limitations of the systems at the time, it wasn’t always clear to which ledge you should jump and how you should make that jump. In more recent games, a better visual presentation helps out with that problem a lot. This “issue” became clear when I did the Tomb Raider project. Some people in that collaboration had never played an old school Tomb Raider game and gave it a try for the first time. And because they were more used to the newer style of the series or the newer style of play in more modern games, they had trouble during the game.

Something I often got during my search for writers in the Tomb Raider project was: “Also the old Tomb Raider games that aged poorly?” or something similar. I completely agree that the original Tomb Raider games aged poorly. The newer Tomb Raider games, and not per se the more modern games, play better because the developers improved their craft and learned a lot from developing the previous entries in the series.

I don’t find all retro-inspired games that difficult. I was able to beat some without much trouble like Blossom Tales or Retro Game Challenge. While I did had some trouble in Shovel Knight because I haven’t played a lot of games similar to that.

When I was researching and brainstorming for this article, I came to the conclusion that there are 4 types of difficulty in my eyes.

The first type is the intended difficulty. This is planned by the developers to challenge you during the game. Think about a Zelda dungeon where you get a new item in a dungeon and you have to learn to use it or remember the places where you were unable to progress and needed to use the item.

The second type is an unintended difficulty. This was an unplanned difficulty due to bugs, randomness (like RNG or random generation) or just plain bad game design. Or it can be because of things like certain mechanics. For example, a lot of people complained when Super Mario 64 DS came out. While it’s a good remake, the controls weren’t loved by various reviews because the original game was designed with a joystick in mind while the DS didn’t have a joystick.

The first two types can be mixed with the other two types.

The third type is a fair difficulty. With this I mean, the game provides you with a challenging and rewarding experience. Like, you finally figured out how to beat that one puzzle or beat that one boss.

The fourth type of difficulty is, you guessed it, unfair difficulty. Now, this can be because of bad and or lazy game design but this can also be a huge spike in difficulty. A great example is Suikoden Tierkreis for me. Overall, the game is somewhat easy. If you don’t skip too many battles and pay attention to what you are doing, the game isn’t all too challenging. I rarely to never saw the game over screen. Until I came to the final boss. This annoying battle gets such a difficulty spike that made me not fully finish the game and actually look up the ending online. Now, while writing this article, I actually restarted playing the game and I’m hell-bent in finally beating the game this time.

The more difficulty of type 2 and 4 you have, the worse it becomes for your game. One time a developer asked me to review an Android game. In this game, you had to feed various foods to some customers. The issue was, all of the dishes were based on Asian dishes and I’m European. I barely know anything about Asian cuisine. The unfair difficulty in this game is that almost nothing was explained in the game about the foods themselves. So, I was unable to figure out which food was what, so it became a guessing game.

Another example of unfair difficulty is more recent. A developer asked me to review a Switch game they just released. The game is a twin-stick shooter and in the shooting tutorial, there were two spawners in the room that spawned so many enemies so quickly, it became overwhelming. You shouldn’t put so many enemies in the first level of your game while the player is still learning the basic mechanics of the game. That’s unfair.

headerDoes a game like Dark Souls have unfair difficulty? Well no, the game is quite balanced in my opinion. There is a lot of risk and reward gameplay, the punishment is just a bit too harsh in my opinion. But the game becomes beatable when you learn the finer details of the game and get used to the inner workings of the game.

The line and difference between the four types are really thin and make it still personal. Speaking of personal, some people talk proudly when they were able to beat a certain game on the highest difficulty. While that is impressive, you shouldn’t look down upon people having trouble on the lower difficulties. While my gaming buddy MiseryLC can beat the AI in Europe Universalis IV on hard, I feel that the normal difficulty provides just enough challenge for me.

I think it would be a great development if all games have difficulty sliders. The more you can adjust the difficulty, the better. Something I really loved in the Etrian Odyssey series is that you can change the difficulty setting when you are in the town without any other punishments. This is great because when I was unable to beat a certain boss and almost stopped playing, I was able to lower the difficulty a bit so I was able to beat the boss and move on. After I had beaten the boss, I set the difficulty back on normal. This is a perfect system since people can choose how easy or hard you want the game to be.

Now, I have said quite a lot about the topic now. To avoid this article becoming a bit too long or having too much rambling, I think it’s time to let some of my friends talk. I want to thank everybody for their input since they helped me quite a lot while putting my thoughts together for this article.

How others think about difficulty.

Now, I asked around on various groups on Discord and Facebook on their opinions on game difficulty. Here is what they have to say. Note, some quotes I translated from Dutch to English. Some quotes had minor edits since sometimes contained an answer to another topic in the conversation or something in those lines.

The following quotes come from a Facebook group where Belgian retro game collectors gather.

Ward: “Some games are pretty challenging due to their difficulty like Slain and Cuphead. But other games hold your hand, but that doesn’t always take away from the fun of the game. It really depends on the game and how enjoyable the story is.”

Hakim: “Sometimes a too difficult game can be really frustrating. And out of this frustration, the game can go on my shelves to be never played again.”

Kenny: “Personally, I think that the player should have a choice how difficult the game should be. Some games I play personally for the story and not for an extreme challenge.”

Mayu: “For me, a game can never be too difficult. I’ll play until the end as long as the difficulty, challenge, story and such are fun. It already happened that I was disappointed when I bought a new game and I finished it without issue. The solution for this is lately, collection or completion rewards. Some of them are really letdowns. In the past, gaming was a very niche hobby. When a game was too difficult, you just had to try and try again. But, now that gaming isn’t a niche hobby anymore, the difficult games don’t sell that well anymore. And with companies trying to make as much profit as possible…”

Koen: “Making a game extremely difficult is no issue for me. As long as all the elements of the game are fun, it doesn’t matter to me. I really enjoy the rewarding feeling of finally being able to beat a game at the highest difficult setting after trying on it for weeks and seeing the real/true ending. But, when the story is garbage and I have to replay the game on a harder difficulty setting, I won’t be spending my time on a new playthrough.”

Niels: “As long as a game stays fair, it’s worth my time. Nowadays, there are a lot of games that are too easy for everybody to play. From endless tutorial sections to special power-ups when you die a lot and sometimes even a skip button, these are just a few things that you find more and more in modern games. Now, there is nothing wrong with that, as long as they are optional or are disabled by higher difficulty settings. Something I really want to stress, a game that is too difficult thanks to bad enemy placement, terrible controls or bad decisions is a bad game.”

Xavier: “I prefer easier games. There are a lot of games that are quite enjoyable to play. It doesn’t matter to me if games are shorter, I usually buy them at a lower price after they have been released for a while. It’s better then having to play a game where you have to retry a section 20 times to finish it.”

Dennis: “I usually start a game on normal mode. Depending on my experience, I raise or lower the difficulty. So, this means that I play some games on easy, some on normal and some on the hardest difficulty. I don’t really enjoy games where you respawn a thousand times before you can continue and especially when you have the same issue 10 minutes later in the next section. If I enjoyed the game enough, I might replay it on a higher difficulty setting. Most of the games interest me for somewhere between 10 to 20 hours. But, this is absolutely not the case for me with Final Fantasy games.”

The following opinions are from fellow bloggers or friends in the blogging world.

Aiphafemaie: “A couple thoughts – I think games felt more difficult in the past because you had to rely more on yourself to figure out how to pass levels or quests. Or printing out walkthroughs from GameFaqs.com lmao.  Now when you’re stuck, you can just to YouTube and see how it’s done. I don’t think games were more difficult in the past, but “difficult” is a subjective word.  Today’s games do have varying difficulty modes, in comparison to the past. Before most games could only be played on default.”

TwoTall4uFool: “I think there was a lot of trial and error with games back in the 80’s and 90’s. Even in the 2000’s. Aiphafemaie you bring up a great point about GameFaqs but there are some games out there that I would’ve never beaten if it wasn’t for Game Genie/Gameshark. Today in games you have tutorials and of course there is YouTube. And even with plug and plays such as the SNES Classic you can rewind and try a part again if you fail. And plus suspend you point. So emulating older games have made them easier ….. sort of.”

ReaperInteractive: “I agree with @aiphafemaie . Games in the past had no clear instructions or clear, “Go here to pass to the next level.” Games nowadays are a lot more direct and I feel that developers intentianally make these instructions extremely clear as to make the game as playable and prevent people from giving up midway. A little more on the note. There have been games where the instructions were so unclear that I literally had no clue what to do and ended up giving up. Another reason I feel that games nowadays are a lot easier is because we’ve played the same basic mechanic over and over again as to games in the past, there were hundreds of different mechanics. Most games nowadays can be grouped into a couple dozen genres with the same mechanic and controls. Contrary to this, I feel that games in the past are composed of hundreds of different genres, some completely new to the people hence why I feel that why games in the past are a tad more difficult than those of our age.”

The Well Red Mage: “I think that games can still pretty hard now, some of them, but there are new varieties of games now. There are brutal platformers as a subgenre now that are built on difficulty, but then there are also walking simulators and interactive movies now that eschew difficulty almost entirely. I think some would say that the difficulty of retro games was such that it was unfair, but I think that the lives systems and the memorization of patterns (two very retro-centric ideas of difficulty) are perfectly valid; we maybe just don’t have the toleration for them that we used to. Those games were still demanding something of the player (memory or timing). So I think this is a conversation that benefits from specifics like specific games and specific features in those games that bring difficulty into the equation (memorization, level design, limited options or limited chances to complete a challenge, longer periods without save features, increasing speed, item management, enemy AI… all those things are specific features that games then and now used and use to create difficulty).”

The Badly Backlogged Mage/MrBacklog: “I think the obvious-but-unhelpful answer is “as difficult as they need to be to convey the desired experience”. Dark Souls, the Walking Dead and Mario Party are all different in terms of difficulty because they’re going for different experiences.”

OverThinkerY: “I think there are different ways of adding difficulty – Backlogged makes a good point about those games being difficult in different ways as part of the experience. There’s perhaps the most classic sort of difficulty, which is reacting and executing the right series of inputs quickly enough to proceed, and then there are things more dependent on memory, ingenuity, or sheer emotional fortitude. I think there are more examples these days of different sorts of difficulty other than simply pressing buttons accurately, which might be down to better tech or just natural progression, but it enables different kinds of experiences to be made effective in that way.”

Mail Order Ninja Mage/Daniel Flatt: “Difficulty is the hardest thing to get right in video games. If you push back too hard you lose all but your most dedicated player, if you don’t present any challenge then moderately skilled players become bored. Like everyone said above it is drastically different depending on the game and furthermore the individual playing.

That being said games aren’t necessarily easier than they were before, but they have become better at not wasting our time. Games previously were artificially hard, first because checkpoints and saves weren’t a thing, and then because many NES games are a handful of hours long without constantly starting over. They had to have that difficulty to make the game worth it, can’t have Billy coming to you after an hour and asking for a new game. I dare anyone to play B side levels of Celeste and say games are easier, but the difference is you don’t have to play through the same 30 minutes over and over to finally get through something and die 20 seconds later to start all over.

The best games have difficulty determined by the player, Nintendo excels at this, but one of the best examples is Ori. It has a function where you basically create your own checkpoints or don’t, depending on your preference. It could be brutally hard, but if I get to try again right away for a certain section it wasn’t wasting my time making me play the same section a hundred times.”

Now, as you can read, the opinions are extremely diverse when it comes to difficulty. This brainstorm was extremely interesting to do. I honestly think that I’ll return to this topic in the future. Before I close this article, I want to point you to an article created by Rob “I Played The Game” Covell that he wrote in 2017 about the same subject. “A Difficult Conversation”.

Closing off

Like I said in the previous paragraph, the conversation of how difficult a game could be or if games are too easy nowadays gets quite diverse opinions. While this topic could be discussed for hours and the opinions will go in various directions, I think I’ll close off this article here. I’m quite curious about what everybody thinks. Maybe I’ll revisit this topic at a later date.

If you have written or talked about this subject in the past or know a great resource like another article or video, feel free to send me a message with the link. Maybe I’ll include it in the next article. And with that said, I think I’ll really end off this article. Thank you, everybody, for helping me put this article together. It was a blast. Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

Game Quicky: Uauim Challenge (PC) ~ The First Stages

Official website

Today I want to take a look at a game still a challenging game called U.A.U.I.M Challenge. The first version of this game released a month ago and the developer asked me to take a look at the game. So, that’s why we are here. In order to be able to review this game, the developer gave me a review code for this game. I played v0.5 for this review. Let me be clear on one thing, this article is my opinion about the current state of the game and is my opinion alone. As usual, feel free to post your opinion on the content of the article and/or the game in the comment section down below.

Background

So, before we continue, what is this game? This game is a pretty challenging top-down shooter. You can compare the gameplay to games like Galaga, 1942 and other games like that.

This game is being developed by one person. I have a lot of respect if you develop a game on your own. Even when you didn’t make everything yourself and you got some help in for example the creation of the music, still I have a lot of respect for you.

The “this is going in the right direction” things

Let me first talk about the good points of this game. I think that the sprite work is going in the right direction. While I wouldn’t call it 16bit, I remind me more of the old days of Atari and very early NES games.

If the enemies will get the same level of animation that your ship has, I have high hopes for the animations.

The controls work pretty well. I have only one nitpick. I think it’s quite strange how you are unable to pause the game using an XBOX controller. I really tried every button and I wasn’t able to pause the game. Oh well, thankfully the “ESC” button on my keyboard wasn’t too far from my reach. Also, thank the lord for auto-fire!

The game really delivers on its name. The game isn’t easy. Thankfully, with some practice, you can get further and further into the game. This game is all about memorization and knowing which ships come next. That’s why I’m so glad I have infinite continues.

Something I really like in this game is the different “skins” you have in the game. You can change the “CRT mode” in the game to five different modes and you can change the brightness of the game by just a button press. As a retro game enthusiast and collector, I’m really happy that things like this find their way into modern games.

The “needs more development and polish” things

The scoring system needs some polishing. First of all, I would love to see enemies display their score value when they die. Like right after they die, you quickly see how much points you got from killing them.

Secondly, it would be nice if there was a high score table with a date when you reached said score. Something that would be even more awesome if you had the ability to share this online.

And finally, I think that the “High-score” system is bugged out. Each time I start a new game or use a continue, the player score resets and the high score too. That’s something the developer should take a look at.

While the UI in this game is pretty decent, I was pretty close to putting it in the good department until I reached the section you see in this screenshot above this paragraph. It’s really hard to read the score when you use a dark blue colour on a purple background. I think it would be easier to read if you make it white instead of blue. In addition to that, I think it would be pretty helpful if you made the font in the main menu a bit bigger. When I wasn’t sitting close to my screen, I wasn’t able to read it very well.

One minor detail that you should add is a “Are you sure you want to quit” dialogue when a player selects the quit button.

While I was able to arm myself with a bomb, I was unable to use it or to figure out how it works. But this will be most likely added in a future release of the game. It would be interesting if some rare enemies drop more bombs.

There are three things that could improve for the future versions of this game. The first thing that I would focus on is the soundtrack. To be honest, I really didn’t like the music. The sound effects are fine, the little jingle that plays when you start the first level isn’t good.

The game could use some more sound effects, to be honest. It would be helpful for the player when the special flame arrows are shot, a special sound effect plays.

The second thing that I didn’t like too much about this game is some wallpapers. I think that the current assets that are being used don’t fit the theme at all. The game gives off a space/industrial vibe to me and most of the backgrounds are more generic ones. Keep the backgrounds a bit more consistent.

The third and final thing that I would change is the difficulty curve. While the game is supposed to be challenging, I had a long time to pass the first level and I got pretty frustrated and stopped playing the game for a few times. I think this game could benefit from more gradual build up instead of being extremely hard from the first few minutes.

The engine

If I may be honest, I think that this game is held back by the engine it’s programmed in. When I talked with the developer about the first version of the article, he told me that various things I recommended weren’t possible with the engine.

I think that the developer has some nice ideas that are present in this title, but I think it would be better if the developer used another engine that allowed more freedom. Something like YoYo GameMaker or Construct.

I think that this game can become a better game if it would be rebuilt in an engine where the developer has more freedom to control more elements of the game.

Conclusion

At this moment in time, the game is 3$.

At its current state, the game is pretty rough and needs more polishing before I can recommend it to other players.

But, I think it would be a nice idea to take a look at this game and give your feedback to the developer. Since, I think that this game can become a nice indie title if it gets some more development and gets a bit more polished up.

If you are interested in what you have seen and read, go ahead and buy yourself a copy from the official website. Otherwise, wait a few months until the game got some more development and give a try again then.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing about it. Thank you for reading my article and I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog, but until then take care and have a great rest of your day!

Gamer’s Thoughts: Are retro or retro-styled games too hard?

retro consolesThe tweet that started that gave me the idea for this article.

A few days ago, the Well Red Mage made a tweet with the very question that is the title of this article. We talked about this a bit back & forth on Twitter. After a few tweets, I thought that my answer would make a great article in my gamer’s thoughts series. I play retro and more modern games, so I think my opinion can matter in the grand scheme of things here. So, here are my two cents. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion about the content of the article and/or the question. 

Are games too hard?

Icon

Back in 2013, I wrote an article talking about: “What’s a retro game“. I asked myself the question, when does a game become retro? For the sake of this article, let’s not go too in depth about that, since we are here to answer another question.

Let’s focus first on the retro games. Games that are at least 15 years old. Are those too hard? This is a tricky question to answer.

Currently, playing games is a more frequent hobby. There are more people who play games than there were in the past. So, modern games became more accessible. This doesn’t always mean that games of today are easier. There are still very difficult games out there like Dark Souls or the Touhou games. Also, let’s keep it general in this article. Since there are always exceptions to the rule.

This does mean that some retro games are less accessible. This makes them overwhelming and more difficult. For example, the first Tomb Raider games. There were no real tutorials or anything of that nature. So, you had to figure a lot out by yourself. Some old Tomb Raider games had tutorials, but they were optional. You didn’t have to play them. This meant that you didn’t learn all the mechanics and moves. But, that has changed. Now, almost every game starts out with a tutorial.

The fact that the gaming industry has changed makes answering the question of this article more difficult. The first commercial game cabinets were published in the late 1970’s and the first consoles came not too long after. The gaming industry is still quite young when you compare it to other media. Nowadays, developers have more experience.

Let’s leave it at that, otherwise, we might be here all day talking about the changes in the gaming industry instead of trying to answer the question of the article. So, are retro games too hard?

Retro games

Wikipedia_NES_PALHonestly, this is too general question to be able to answer. But, I honestly think that it all comes down to the play style a gamer prefers.

A very common issue with older games is that some games required so much time input to memorize each level and area to get the most perfect run. Time, that not everybody has in this day and age.

Additionally, this can be a very frustrating game mechanic. Having to play each level over and over again. So, when we get bored with a game; we simply take another game to play. There are so many games we can play nowadays. Something we lacked in the past, so we tried and tried again until we succeeded to beat the Pokémon Leauge Champion or Doctor Robotnik.

Modern games are spoilt with the latest and best knowledge of the developers. Something that makes a huge difference is the controls. There are more buttons on the modern game controllers compared to the retro style controllers. This means that the developers can give better controls to the player. I grew up with the D-Pad, but I prefer to play platformers with a joystick now. You have better control of your character and this makes the game easier.

Handholding

pokemon-alpha-sapphire-limited-edition-steelbook

Something I noticed in modern games is that they are sometimes too easy. Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are a perfect example. I didn’t loose one fight in that game, I was able to beat that game with ease.

That isn’t the only game that I played that I didn’t have a lot of trouble with to beat the game. Perhaps, the fact that I’m older and more skilled with games has to do with it. Because I’m nowadays able to beat sections in games I never got passed as a kid for some reason.

I can’t deny that some games hold your hand throughout the adventure or give you tips that help you to beat the game. Mini-maps and mission markers are great examples. There are a lot of modern game mechanics that make games for the player too easy. Some open world games even lack the scene of discovery. Thankfully, Breath of the Wild fixes this somewhat with its towers. Frustrated Jacob made a great video with this point.

In retro games, you didn’t have the hand-holding or all the mechanics we have today. Making the game more difficult in the process. Does that make the games too hard? No, not in my opinion. It makes them outdated. Does outdated mean bad? Far from it!

Retro games are still a lot of fun and they are still relevant. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have retro-styled games. One of my favorite retro styled games is Retro Game Challenge on the DS. In this game, you play through some games that are inspired by retro game classics like Gallica.

I think that retro games aren’t too hard per se, they are out dated due to older and limited technology. Also, modern games are made with more knowledge about how games work. But, let’s not forget about the impact that the internet has in this argument.

Walkthroughs and YouTube videos expose the secrets of every game in mere days of its release. There are a lot of guides to get the best armor or what the fastest or most optimal route is through a game. I think that the impact of the internet speaks for itself here.

So, are retro(styled) games too hard? No, not really. They just use mechanics that have been improved and perfected over time. Games are more accessible now.

I would love to hear your opinion about this. Do you think that retro games are too hard and why? Tell me in the comments and maybe I write a follow-up article using your comments.

But, that’s everything I wanted to say about this subject for now. Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another artice but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

Review: Halo – Combat Evolved (PC) ~ Not On The HaloBox

Halo-Combat-Evolved-Cover-Art-wallpaper.jpgWikipedia entry

If you would ask my friends and old class mates what the best shooter is, they would reply with a game out of the Call Of Duty series. But for me, that was Halo. That changed when I played the Bioshock series. I have already talked about the Bioshock series, so it’s time to talk about the original Halo game. The game that started this whole franchise. One series I can’t finish sadly since I don’t have a XBOX or XBOX ONE. So, I have only played this entry and the sequel. In any case, enough introduction! Time to talk about the actual game. And as usual, feel free to leave your opinion on the content of this article and or the game in the comment section down below. 

Cortana

halo1

In this game, you play as a very iconic character in the video gaming world. The name is Master Chief. So, you get woken up from your slumber and go through some basic tutorials before your ship gets attacked.

You crash land on Halo. And things happen from there. The story isn’t that much present in the game. But, that’s because the game is only 10 hours long. The base game is really short, but it’s a whole lot of fun to play through. But don’t worry, if you don’t have enough Halo, you can either go and play the multiplayer or download one of several single player campaigns made by fans.

In addition to that, Bungie released in 2004 a special version of Halo with mapping and modding tools. Called, Halo Custom Edition.

The story itself is good. It’s not great since it ends with a big cliffhanger so you have to buy the sequel to know how it continues. I wish that the story got a bit more development. Since we got amazing voice acting. I love the voice acting in this game. Also, we don’t have a silent hero for once!

The writing itself is also good. But again, shame that the game is over so quickly. I do have to admit, that I played over 100 hours on Halo. I have played a lot of multiplayer and I got okay at it. I’m terrible at playing shooters online, but I enjoyed my time on Halo. Mostly with the Capture The Flag mode. I’m also surprised that after 16 years, there are still people playing this game online.

What I was even more surprised about, this game still gets the occasional update. Something quite handy is that when you have an out-of-date version of the game and want to enter the mutliplayer, you get a message to update your game and the updating tool automagically launches.

Multiplayer and such

halo 2

Like I said in the previous paragraph, I rather enjoyed my time in the multiplayer. There was also a possibility you could have edited maps, and you didn’t have to download additional mods to play on them. I rarely got lag issues.

But, for the sake of this review, I’m going to focus on the single player. The only other thing I’m going to say about the multiplayer is that it’s difficult to find the same server to play on with friends sometimes. I had several Skype calls lasting over 30+ minutes of me and my friend(s) trying to get into one server.

Visually, this game still looks pretty great in my opinion. I wouldn’t have changed one thing at all when it comes to the visuals. The animation is also very well put together. You visit various inside and outside locations. Something I really like is the consistency of the visuals. I don’t mean that every area looks the same, but I mean that a lot similar building styles return over the whole game. But, I think you will better understand that statement when you have played the game.

Actually, now that I think about it, there is one thing that I would have changed. It would be awesome if this game had a bit more enemy variety. Since this game has the “recolor but stronger” issue you find in a lot of RPG’s. It’s such a shame. But, the campaign is such a wild ride, it didn’t bother me that much.

Something I really enjoyed in this game is the difficulty. The further you get in the game, the more difficult enemies and situations get presented to you. Another big plus in my book is that the differences between the difficulty settings are not only the amount of damage you take from enemy hits. Oh no, I have the impression that the enemies are also more aggressive in the harder modes of the game.

There were a few things I would have changed in the single player. First of all, I find it disappointing that the plasma swords can’t be used in the single player nor multiplayer without mods. This is a shame, since you can use every other weapon that your allies and enemies use.

I can’t sign.

halo 3

The controls of this game are excellent and very responsive. I also like that during the tutorial section, you get the option of selecting which camera control you would enjoy more during gameplay.

Something I didn’t always like were the controls for the vehicles. They lack just a tiny bit of weight to them.

While there aren’t a lot of different weapons to use in this game, I don’t mind it a whole lot. Since each weapon can be used in it’s own situation and it’s so fun to master a certain weapon.

Honestly, I wish I could sign along with the chanting of the soundtrack. Since the soundtrack for this game is amazing. It sets an amazing mood and I love listing to it. When I hear the main theme, I always get so nostalgic.

Speaking about that, the sound design is amazing as well. Also, your enemies use the right balance of speaking just a little bit of English, but the sounds they make when being hurt are great as well. The atmosphere the music, sound design and the visuals make is so great. I get pulled in every time. Even when I was replaying parts of this game for this review, I always played longer than I intended.

This game is that much fun and addictive. You go from place to place shooting down loads of enemies. With the help of your radar, you navigate through some various terrains.

For those who don’t know, this game has a quite unique mechanic. It’s the regenerating shield feature. When you get hurt, it goes off from your shield meter. When your shield meter is down, your health goes down. But, when you don’t get hit for a moment, your shield meter refills again. So, skilled players can beat this game without picking up one health pack if they want too.

But a feature I liked the most are the sticky grenades. They were so fun to use. Too bad, that there wasn’t anything you could do during multiplayer matches when you wanted to get them off. Well, it’s a risk you had to take.

One nitpick, I have is that the sections where you could use the enemy vehicles were a bit too short. But don’t worry, you can use these a whole lot in multiplayer. Just like the shield mechanic. This made multiplayer matches that more thrilling to play. Since you can’t easily kill everybody. You need to have more than one shot to kill somebody. Apart from fall damage, there isn’t a way to one shot kill somebody in this game as far as I know.

So, that’s all I wanted to talk about this game. I think it’s time to wrap up this article and give my conclusion (or my TL;DR for the lazy people)

Conclusion

The bad:

-The main game is way too short.

-It’s difficult to find the same server or game sometimes.

The good:

+ Fun story, writing & voice acting.

+ Great visuals.

+ Amazing soundtrack.

+ Great multiplayer.

+ The modding community.

+ …

Conclusion:

This game still holds up after being over 16 years on the market. When you want a more updated version, you could play the Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition that came out in 2011 for the XBOX360 and XBOX ONE. But, I don’t own either of those consoles.

The biggest flaw of this game is that it’s way too short. Yet, due the vast amount of mods, maps, campaigns and such you can download and even an editor that’s released free of charge, you can download a lot of additional content for you to enjoy. Apart from that, the flaws in this game are so minor, they would be all nitpicking. This game is a fun ride from start to finish.

I do have a lot of nostalgia for this game, but I replayed it recently before I started writing this review. And all the nostalgic memories come flooding back. It’s quite a fun game to play and I think I might go and beat the game again when I have the time.

If you are a fan of shooters and haven’t played this game yet, you owe it to yourself to play this game. If you aren’t a fan of shooters, well, I think you read the wrong article. If you have played this game, I hope this was an enjoyable trip down memory lane.

On that note, I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game, I thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I enjoy writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

Score: 90/100

First Impression: Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl (3DS) ~ Dungeon Crawler with own maps

SoulFinalOfficial website

Back when the 3DS wasn’t released, I played an overload of DS games. More then I care to admit. There was one series I wanted to get into but actually never gave a fair chance. That was Etrian Odyssey. So, two weeks ago, I decided to pick up one of the 3DS games. Since the core game mechanic interested me. Now, I haven’t played many other games besides this the last two weeks. But why is it so good to me? I will explain in this first impression. I hope you are ready, since we are going to the labyrinth. Wait, no… This is real life, not the game world. So, I have to say my usual sentence. Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and or the content of this article. 

Going old school

website-05

Alright, first of all. I’m blown away by the story. Most of all, I think this is one of the best writing I have seen since I played Corpse Party. Sometimes the writing is as if you are reading a book. While nothing that much happens on screen, the short yet extremely powerful descriptions you are given are enough to immerse yourself in the world and give you the feeling to be there in the world.

The characters are also memorable. The story goes about a girl that lost her memory. But, strangely, the story wasn’t the main focus of the story until the point I played. It was something different. There are other side stories that are all leading up to one interesting setup. It’s almost like a real life as an explorer. There are so many things going on and you try to make the best of it.

The characters are what makes the story even more interesting. They might be your typical hotheaded mage, wise healer, strong (female!) tank and silent main character. Yet, they have been written in such a way that it doesn’t bother the story. The characters even get fleshed out and thrown in day to day situations.

But enough about the story. I can’t praise it enough. What I love the most about this game is the fact you have to draw your own map on the touch screen. This takes me back so many years, when I was first playing The Legend Of Zelda on my cousin’s NES. We both started to draw maps together and tried to find and share secrets that way. The wonder I get when I find an unexplored part on a floor I thought I completed is just amazing.

Music to enjoy.

vlcsnap-00005

So, this game has a very nice map creating tool. It doesn’t punish you by not allowing you to the next floor until every square has been discovered, it rewards you to try and get to hard to reach area’s with amazing treasure.

I’ll talk a bit about the gameplay later. First, I want to talk about something else. The music of this game is really well done. In fact, I even replaced my main ringtone with one of my favorite tracks from the game.

Another thing that also shines in the sound department is the voice acting. The voices are really well done and add a lot of character … to the characters. They also are really helpful. The shout what they think is the enemies weakness in battle. This is where I have some minor nitpicks. The battle system is where some polish of this game … well, I has some minor mistakes.

The “auto” feature doesn’t always chooses the best option to attack and looking up a monster while fighting can’t be done in sub menu’s. That are just two examples of issues I have with the battle system. The randomizing of the characters don’t bother me that much, since that brings some element of luck to the game… Which I really like.

The presentation of this game is what I really think doesn’t need an upgrade. I have barely anything negative to say. Apart from some lazy recoloring of some enemy models, I think they made some eye candy to enjoy while playing this game. If only the added some more ambient sound effects into the game to make it a bit more alive then it already is.

Enjoying this game like mad

165395_screenshot_07_l

To say that this game is perfect would be a lie. There are some minor annoyances, like the deleting of icons is kinda tricky to do… But most of the things I find are mostly minor. Even the controls, I can’t seem to find any major issues. They are responsive and work pretty well.

I could argue that there isn’t anywhere to heal your party for free, but that just adds the strategy element of this game. You need to keep exploring and find enough items and treasure to sell so you can keep healing.

That price always goes up, from what I understand… along with the levels of your party members.

Is this game for everybody? Well, that seriously depends on what mode you play. I’m playing classic mode. That means I get the full story yet the game is a bit more challenging. I wanted to play a game that could kick my ass if I wasn’t ready for a battle or if I wasn’t paying enough attention. It delivers on that front. With some well placed traps and the introduction of really strong enemies really early, I’m always on my guard.

From what I read, the story mode is much more forgiving. But I wanted a challenge and I’m getting it for sure. And I’m enjoying it. That much, that I had trouble with writing a really coherent article. So, I tried to talk like an excited friend that tries to sell you on this game. I hope I succeeded in that. Even when you aren’t interested in this game, I highly recommend you watch a let’s play episode or something since the game is so well put together, I think it’s a shame if you would to miss out on this. So, I’m going to wrap up this article right here. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. And hopefully, I would like to welcome you at another article. Until then, take care.~

Review #040: CSI – Hard Evidence (PC ~ Steam) ~ Strange Case

256px-Csi4boxcoverSteam store link

So, today I want to take another look at this very old case. Wait, scrap that. If I try to be too original in my introduction, I might ruin the beauty of my previous CSI article. Yeah, remember that first impression article I wrote about that CSI PS2 game? I tried to set the mood in the introduction and if I repeat that in this one, it might get boring. Yup, I’m rambling on instead of writing a decent introduction for this game. I just finished it and I want to review it. Before I actually start to review it, I’ll come clean. I enjoyed the other CSI games I played. In total, I know there are 3-4 games like this about CSI. I think that this game is the latest in terms of trying to go for realism instead of a more cartoon-y approch they did in the DS games. In any case, I enjoy the tv-show a lot myself. Too bad that my local channel broadcasts the series out of order. As usual, feel free to leave a comment on this article with your opinion on the game and or the content of this article. 

Mediocre game? 

ss_1e28c9ba1188ef3c7530d272dbbd1f5d735f9281.1920x1080

I know that this game was also released on the XBOX360 and the Wii. But for this review, we take a look at the PC version of the game. It’s developed by TellTale Games, who you might know from the Walking Dead series. One might think that this game must be good. I mean, they make all sorts of amazing adventure point-and-click games.

If I look around the internet to what other people think about this game, I read mostly negative reviews. But is this game a cheap cash-in of a very popular series? Let me play devil’s advocate and say no. Sure, there are some problems and you might rest assured I’ll address them in this review but overall, this game is a nice one.

The evidence for that is in the story. Each and every case feels like a CSI episode. The characters are quite memorable and the voice acting is decent. I have to disagree that the voice acting is the best the game has too offer since I sometimes don’t feel the emotion in the voice. I also had moments where I felt that the emotion was acted or forced. But that might be because I act on stage myself.

Addressing the criticism

CSI4_screen_0

The negative you see popping up in each and every review is that the graphics look outdated. This is quite vague in my opinion. The area’s you visit and objects look quite clean and decent. They aren’t the best the genre or the system can offer but that’s not the issue here.

The issue here is in the animation of the models. That’s quite flawed. If this game had a rushed development schedule you can see it in the animations. I didn’t had many visual flaws on my gaming laptop but on my desktop with a much stronger graphics card/CPU/RAM… the mistakes are coming quite clear. Mostly around the mouth area, that’s the worst. In the 4th case, I even saw gaps in the mouth were the model wasn’t finished.

 It’s a shame since the visuals of the cutscene video’s give another impression of this game. This game might have looked so much better if they polished up the animations. They could have looked a whole lot better, since you know that TellTale is able to create amazing stuff.

Why did I play this game?

I can be rather short about the music. In this game, the music isn’t meant to be memorable or catchy. It needs to set a certain mood. The music does this job perfectly. It gets me in the right mood to try and solve a murder case and to catch bugs. If you watch the series, you might know that one of the characters is very interested in bugs. In each case, there are several bugs hidden and if you find them all, you get a bonus.

Talking about the bonus content, while it’s a nice addition, it’s quite lackluster. When the title of the bonus material says: “storyboards of case 3” for example, you just get three storyboards of a fragment that took 5-6 seconds in game. They are quite underwhelming and they wouldn’t add to the experience if you want to 100% the game.

CSI4_screen_4

You might start to wonder why I even beat this game. I point out mistakes in almost every category. Well, this game is a good game but it mainly lacks polish. The sound effects create a great feeling of actually being a CSI but not all the time thankfully. It also gives you the feeling that it is fake, created for a TV-show.

All elements of this game blend together quite well and if you put the time into this game instead of focusing on the negatives of this game, you get a nice experience. Before I forget, I have a few things to mention before I go to my conclusion.

First of all, the saving system is just wonderful. Thanks to the automatic save system, I didn’t need to worry that my progress would be lost.

The difficulty of this game is right in the middle. While this is one of the easiest games I played in the series, it can be challenging and puts everything you learned in the tutorial case to the test.

Anyways, I think I talked about most of the things I wanted to talk about, about this game. So, let’s get on with the conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

– Animations can be quite bad.

– The interface isn’t always good to work with.

– No cloud saves.

The good;

+ Acceptable visuals.

+ Nice experience for a CSI fan.

+ Easy but sometimes challenging game.

+ Decent length.

+ Nice and responsive controls.

+ Great voice acting.

Final thoughts:

I said it in my last paragraph, this game lacks polish. If TellTale put a bit more time into the animations, the interface and the game as a whole… I think this game wouldn’t get such a bad rating.

This game can be quite a fun game in the right hands, but if I need to look at it objectively: this game is a mediocre one. But as a fan of CSI and point-and-click games… it isn’t half that bad.

If you start to play this game, don’t set your expectations too high. It isn’t a masterpiece and it’s flaws show quite clearly. If you look passed them, you get 5 interesting cases to play through that each CSI and crime story fan will enjoy.

Score: 70/100.