Among the Sleep(ing?)

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Something right up our somnambulant alley.

While the name "Among the Sleep" might not inspire you right off the bat (the name is a little silly) the premise might catch your interest. Krillbite Studios is currently developing a new first person horror game where you explore the world as a toddler. From Krillbite:

Among The Sleep invites you into the mind and body of a two year old child. After being put to bed one evening, mysterious things start to happen. 
Being played in first person, the game let its players immerse themselves in a child's limitless imagination. This is a perspective we all have a distant familiarity with, but few can clearly remember what it felt like 
In the borderland between dream and reality, surreal creatures and diverse environments will present you with both physical and mental obstacles that challenge your creativity.

The possibilities are interesting and the newly released game play video (though bare as it is still in development) did provide a good amount of suspense. I am curious to see how they choose to portray the creatures and the toddler's interaction with them.

If you care to take a gander at Krillbite's blog you can look at some of the concept art for Among the Sleep. The images set a wondrous and dark tone that I can't wait to see applied in the game environment. My interest is peaked and I will definitely be watching for more updates as this game continues on to it's anticipated release in 2013.

Ooops, BBC accidentally airs Halo UNSC Emblem as United Nations Security Counsel Logo.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Someone at the BBC goofed in a rather amusing manner (or they were totally awesome, either or). 

After a what was surely one of the most careless Google Image searches ever, Sophie Raworth (on Thursday's One O'clock News) ended up reporting about the real UNSC (United Nations Security Counsel) with the Halo's United Nations Space Command  emblem displayed obliviously behind her.

The idea of the United Nations Space Command being criticized by Amnesty International for being ineffective in preventing crimes against humanity tickles me a bit. Perhaps the UN Security Counsel should take a hint and hit up Master Chief for some help in Siria, I think they would be hard pressed to find a fictitious character better at protecting humanity.

(via Eurogamer)

Why I worry about the Elder Scrolls Online: Part 1 - Player Behavior

Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Recently, Bethesda announced the Elder Scrolls Online, an MMO based in the expansive world of Tamriel. The game takes place 1000 years before the events in Skyrim, largely concerning the Daedric Prince, Molag Bal. All this may sound very exciting to most, but I fear what this may mean.

The Elder Scrolls titles have always been single player games. Call me a purist, elitist, hater of MMOs; I have serious concerns about a multiplayer model for the series. There are certain unavoidable truths in online gaming. These truths are related to (among other things) player behavior, gameplay, and story dynamic. Every MMO fresh out of the gate strives to keep these issues from surfacing, but the best anyone can do is delay them.

Let's start with player behavior. Surely, many of you are familiar with John Gabriel's Greater Internet Dickwad Theory. Essentially every MMO is rife with ridiculous, over dramatic madness from players who take themselves far too seriously. Example time! Let's start with some WoW.

Now we've gotten a taste for what's out there, let's move on to EVE Online. You might want to turn down your speakers for this one, it's a bit loud in places.

Let's serve some more of this scrumptious insanity. We'll sample from Darkfall for this course.

The point is, this is an all too common occurrence in MMO's. People emboldened by the anonymity of the intertrones, intentionally escalating arguments and goading already enraged players into full blown meltdowns. Nevermind the asses with names like "FuZZZ3bllz" you find in every town, dancing in their underwear or stalking and killing new players just to piss them off. The Elder Scrolls has a very valuable peace. The solitude of Oblivion or Skyrim enriches the game by creating a world free of the bullshit and baggage that comes with these players. I don't see why that should change.

So, Kickstarter and Pathfinder, right?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

   By this point in time some, by which I mean all, of you have probably at least heard of Kickstarter. If for some strange reason you haven't, perhaps due to your home being located under a large igneous, sedimentary, or metamorphic formation, go Google it and then get back to me. If you get a picture of some kind of motorized bicycle, keep going, you haven't hit the right link yet.

   Back to whatever I actually planned on talking about... So I'm a big fan of some of the ideas behind Kickstarter. I like the idea behind the community, and not just some random corporate exec, getting a say in what games do and do not get developed. While there are certainly some opportunities for exploitation inherent in the system, I think it's a great step in the right direction for an artistically free and independent gaming community where new and existing artists can really stretch their talents and create games that might otherwise fester and eventually discorporate completely within the depths of their subconcious. And I really love that it gives people a chance to make their voices heard through their monetary contributions and take a certain ownership in the process. Which is why I am doubly thrilled that Goblinworks has taken to Kickstarter as the launching point for the Pathfinder MMORPG they've currently undertaken to create.

   For those unfamiliar with Pathfinder, it is the unholy of spawn of Dungeon and Dragons v3.5 open gaming license and thousands of hours of community playtesting and development all helmed by the incredibly capable staff at Paizo. When D&D 4E released, many people were unhappy with it (a discussion I won't touch on at this time and place) and Paizo stepped in to the void these players found themselves in, refining and enhancing the still warm corpse of D&D 3.5 and bringing it back as some kind of awesome steampunk cyborg, ready to go toe to toe with the next generation beast that slew him. I may have gotten a little carried away there, but my point is, Pathfinder is all the awesome of a well-loved (and well hated depending on who you ask) edition of D&D with a little bit of steampunk thrown in for good measure.

   Now Goblinworks is hoping to take PF to the next level and a produce a new MMORPG based on Pathfinder's primary world setting Golarion, and I couldn't be more excited. They're also throwing up some fantastic prizes for contributors, including a 9 course dinner and a game DM'd by your Paizo DM of choice. One of those DM's happens to be the illustrious Rich Baker, whose novels and game supplements all hold special places in my heart. What I'm gettin at here, is first, check this stuff out if you haven't already. Then browse around in Kickstarter and Paizo, and pay special attention to the contributions of people who wouldn't have gotten their work and ideas out there without these companies and programs. Finally, send your money to the wonderful people at Somnambulant Gamer so we can contribute to the Pathfinder MMORPG and get a delicious dinner and a chance to play a game DM'd by Rich Baker.

Link - Pathfinder Online Technology Demo


Wednesday, May 2, 2012
It's a fact that the gaming community runs on batteries.  Laptop batteries, game controller batteries, cell phone batteries, tablet batteries, and cartridge batteries.  An overwhelming menagerie of portable power exists in nearly every place you go.  When something runs out of batteries that aren't easily replaceable such as AA, then typically it is time to go and get a new one of whatever's battery just died.  However, what if you're really attached to that electrical mechanism with no electricity?  The answer comes naturally, send it to the company to replace!  And see, this is where the company makes their long-term maintenance profit.  To put it bluntly I recently upgraded my phone from an iPhone 3g to an iPhone 4s and gave the 3g to a friend of mine who was in need of a new phone.  Suffice it to say after 4 years of use, the 3g can only hold a day and half's worth of charge.  Being concerned about the phone's lack of ability to hold a charge, my friend called Apple and asked about the cost of replacement for the battery.  $80 they told her, an unreasonable amount.

So, we looked up the prices of batteries for the 3g, on average they sold for $15.  The best part is that the replacement of an iPhone battery is extremely simple.  For those too sleepy to do the math, that is $65 for approximately 5 minutes of labor and shipping!  Outrageous!  Back to the simplicity of the repair *ahem* here's what needs to happen, and this applies to any iPhone version I believe, and oldschool iPods (although the seond instruction is a little different.
1.  Turn off the device and switch it to silent, if applicable.
2.  Unscrew the bottom two screws on the iPhone (on the iPod, pry the cover with an exacto knife once everything is unscrewed).
3.  remove the front cover.
4.  Admire shinies, gently remove the battery connector and pry the old battery loose.
5.  Place new battery, close her up!

Another interesting thing you wouldn't think that you could replace the battery in, but can, are PlayStation 3 controllers.  PS3 controllers get very heavy use in my home, and I'm happy know that I can replace the battery in them to make the fun last rather than spending $50 for a new controller or playing while it is plugged in on the short charging cord.  The process for this one is simple, unscrew, unplug the battery, plug in the new battery, rescrew.
Now, there are also some items that you would not initially think needed batteries to function properly that display different symptoms than an inability to hold a charge.  Computers for example, whether they are a desktop, laptop, or netbook, they all require batteries (aside from their main source of power) to allow the system to boot up and save new data.  If your computer has issues booting up (everything is running, but the screen remains black), and if it actually boots up the clock is wrong and files are missing, this is typically the result of the battery I have been alluding to, the CMOS battery.  What this battery does is save your settings in BIOS (basically what controls your operating system whether it be OS X, Windows, or Linux) and controls the real time clock on your computer.  Thankfully, like those previous issues above, this is a simple fix.  Locate where the CMOS battery is located on your motherboard, remove the old battery, replace with a new battery (of the same type, information is on the battery), and again call the surgery a success!  I do not have a video showing the process for this, every computer's anatomy, particularly when it comes to laptops and their various brands, is different.  This means that the process to get to any given CMOS battery is different.

So, I'm going to end this with 3 videos (I am aware of how abusive I am being with the YouTube embedding feature right now) about how to save your Pokemon, and maybe some of your N64 and SNES games if you still have the actual systems around to play.  From the dawn of video games and into the mid 1990s, video games in most cases came in the form of cartridges.  These cartridges all have motherboards and chips inside of them, and how you would save your data to these cartridges was in these chips.  However, without power, these saves are forgotten in the volatile memory of the chips.  To actually have the game remember where you were these game cartridges had little SRAM batteries (the same as the CMOS ones in computers, just smaller)  to provide power to the chips at all times so that your memory would be saved (for 15-20 years) forever, hoorah!

In other words, as our games are sitting in our closet, or wherever they may be, the little batteries that are keeping your saved games alive are slowly discharging.  It doesn't have to be this way, you can continue to play these games AND save if you replace the battery.  Again, the trick is to simply open the cartridge, replace, and close.  The first video is of replacing a GameBoy game before the battery has died and successfully saving the data.  The second and third are parts 1&2 of a more detailed replacement on slightly more new GameBoy Color cartridges.  I assume the same principle works on other cartridges, but I will not be covering anything specific about them.
Now that YouTube will probably not let me embed another video on this article, I believe my point has been delivered.  Batteries are amazing!