Duality: Revenge of the blog

Why were we gone?

Two main reasons which could just be the same reason…

Life (real life)

We both had finished university and were progressing in our jobs and needed our time to either focus on careers / see people (rather than playing games and writing posts… seeing our friends) / moving / other life stuff. In some ways these are excuses.

Time (lack thereof)

Out our mediocre peak we were looking after this blog, our Twitter, our Facebook page (poorly), StumbleUpon, Empire (http://www.empire.kred/) it is quite good for businesses, wouldn’t recommend for gaming blogs!) and other platforms. We also focused on producing well written good quality blog posts which take awhile to write, grab screenshots and proof-read.

All of that put together takes up a considerable amount of time and it only gets worse as momentum builds. It was difficult to keep up the enthusiasm when we were working a full time job and what felt like a part time job at the same time!

Why we are back

We, might be a bit optimistic as half of our duality hasn’t quite agreed to continue the blog. But I realised that creating my own content, intellectual property (even with some damming feedback) was rewarding and is rewarding. Even after not updating this blog for two years we still receive views in the 10s (small fry for most but impressive for a blog such as ours!)

The blog as well is a good distraction from life and an excuse (do you need one?) to buy and play new games and review our old favourites.

What’s Next?

Unsure. Maybe a few posts? Maybe a post a week? We (I) will probably stick to the same format as before, posts about our travels, games we are playing, opinion pieces and maybe an info-graphic here and there (I’ve worked as a data analyst, presenting data is oddly satisfying).

(On a side note apologies for the ads, we were paying for the premium features which removes ads but have stopped for now…)

 

 

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Websites Used for Minecraft Infographic

Here’s the links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_video_games#All_platforms

http://minecraft.gamepedia.com/Diamond_Ore

http://minecraft.gamepedia.com/MineCon

http://venturebeat.com/2014/06/26/minecraft-sales-near-54-million-copies-as-xbox-360-and-playstation-3-versions-outsell-the-pc-original/

http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/about/news/2014/gb-minecraft-2.html

http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-05/11/minecraft-smashes-sales-records-on-xbox

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=miecraft+uk+statistics&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&gws_rd=cr&ei=4rLsVNnCMcTlasG7gOgJ#q=minecraft+uk+statistics&spell=1

First Impressions – Darkest Dungeon

Noticing a surge of purchases on Steam I decided to join the crowd and give this game a look. With some of these early access top sellers there are more problems than positives and the game has little enjoyment to be had. Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised by this solid roguelike game.

After a successful Kickstarter campaign Darkest Dungeon was released as an early access game on Steam. It lacks game settings and there are some balance issues with the adventures and the gold gained.  At least I found this to be the case; though in retrospect it might be part of the random elements. Red Hook Studios have stated that “The early response has been beyond our wildest expectations” and with how great the game is, despite its quirks, it’s well deserved.

You must restore your families honour by hiring adventurers to delve into the depraved depths of your house. This is easier said than done. Indeed the game includes a warning of its difficulty and that states that yes, some of your people will die.

Darkest Dungeon Warning

It is difficult enough that they add a warning.

Will you run away from the dungeon to keep your people alive, or trade a life for the chance at greater loot?

As you can see from the included screenshots, it looks awesome. The dark tones mixed with the flashes of murky reds and shiny golds adds to the depressing atmosphere. This is amalgamated with epic music and sound effects that really hit the mark. For an early access game, they have hit the presentation hard and the pay off is great.

There are a lot of rules and mechanics to get your head round, but the tutorial does a decent enough job of getting you to grip with these. Although it is a bit of a stab in the dark when you are buying provisions for an adventure and it is possible to waste quite a bit of money of unnecessary items that are lost at the end. Which is one of my bugbears with the game. If a potion of disease removal is bought, do the characters just throw it away at the end? Perhaps it has a limited shelf life and becomes useless? A small annoyance that I understand for balance but hope to be changed in future.

Bottom line, should you give this game a look? For its low (in comparison to AAA titles) price and promise of more in the future it’s a no brainer. Buy it, enjoy its glorious art style and breath of fresh air difficult gameplay. For those of you that don’t like pre-ordering, know that there is a lot of content already and they have not announced any day one DLC or other annoyances.

We welcome any comments so leave them below!

Darkest Dungeon Introduction

The old owner of the house writing to you during the intro.

eBooks and Games for Young Programmers (and Their Parents)

Till the 18th of February 2015 Humble Bundle are offering with publisher No Starch Press a great selection of programming and LEGO books in one of their more impressive bundles.

What is Humble Bundle you ask?

Humble Bundle originally offered collections of video games where you could pay any price. The money would then be split between the creator, Humble Bundle and a chosen charity. If you paid over the average you would gain access to a greater selection of games. This was then expanded to other electronic formats including as above books.

Click here to see it!

As the new UK curriculum includes programming this appears to be a very cheap way of acquiring a lot of child orientated books. Although LEGO is not strictly part of the curriculum the books are still great as they are full of ideas and impressive creations that will keep any budding builder happy. For a list of the books with links see the bottom of the article.

If the books seem a bit daunting BBC have created a Doctor Who online game that also includes basic coding. The game is a normal platforming affair with a basic storyline and controllable Dalek character. See the trailer below and for more information click on the following link.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/0/computing/29614102

The Humble Brainiac bundle (an apt name) offers when paying over $15 (Each is linked to its No Starch Press store page for more information):

Ruby Wizardry: An Introduction to Programming for Kids

Lauren Ipsum: A Story About Computer Science and Other Improbable Things

Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred: Seriously Geeky Stuff to Make with Your Kids

The LEGO Adventure Book, Vol 1: Cars, Castles, Dinosaurs &More!

The Manga Guide to Electricity

Java Script for Kids: A Playful Introduction to Programming 

Steampunk LEGO

The LEGO Neighborhood Book: Build Your Own Town!

LEGO Space: Building the Future

The Manga Guide to Physics

Python for Kids: A Playful Introduction to Programming

Incredible LEGO Technic: Cars, Trucks Robots & More!

Build Your Own Website: A Comic Guide to HTML, CSS, and WordPress

First Impressions “Life is Strange: Episode 1”

Life is Strange in a nutshell is an adventure game that offers moral choices throughout a normal high school students life. With the addition of a time travelling superpower.

Your controllable protagonist is 18 year old Maxine Caulfield, known as Max throughout the game. Her surname is interesting in that it is the same as Holden Caulfield from J.D Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. Max’s character though does not mirror the duality of Holden’s; where his is an existence of contradicting personality quirks, hers is a more typical teenagers. Her characterisation should improve with more episodes, along with further information on her supporting cast.

Max has moved back to her home town of Arcadia Bay to attend the acclaimed Blackwell Academy where she studies photography. During one of her classes she appears to blackout and experience the opening scene of the terrifying tornado. This she believes is a premonition of a catastrophe to come and somehow later she is invested with her time reversal ability. It does not delve any further into the abilities origin and it is probably a lesser evil leaving an unsolved mystery than giving an unsatisfactory magical or scientifically incorrect reason behind her new found power.

The tornado in Life is Strange Episode 1

The tornado that threatens to tear Arcadia Bay apart.

The bay without the tornado.

The bay without the tornado.

The setting is rendered in a nice way, with some parts that could be called beautiful. Traversing the various areas is simple and you’re never at that much of a loss as to your current objective. The world is populated with lots of collectables and Easter eggs for keen explorers. I’m not much of a collector in games so I was not that bothered about collecting photo opportunities or finding all the possible intrigues within the Academy grounds and the dormitories. For those that are more completionist though, they will not be disappointed even in this short episode. There is a gamut of various small additions that round off the environment and make it more believable. Whether it’s graffiti on a tree, the unique decoration in your classmates room or the various posters that litter the hallways you always feel like the area is lived in. The characters have an existence outside of the brief interactions you have with them.

For instance in the following quick video you can see Max walking down the hallway with characters interacting without her. There are missing posters on the wall, a kid getting bullied, vending machines and lots of other small things that you might not notice but add to the general enjoyable experience.

Although some of the dialogue and voice acting has been slated in reviews it serves its purpose and even raises a few laughs. Two of the more amusing lines included Chloe going to town Walter White style and Max’s friend Warren being a pop culture pirate.It was a shame these were delivered with sometimes distracting lip syncing; whether this was a graphical glitch personal to my play through or a common one I’m unsure. (Another players comments on Metacritic echo my sentiment, so it would appear I’m not alone.)

It is interesting that no one has picked up on the usage of “Arcadia” as the town name, at least in the reviews I’ve seen. In antiquity and the Renaissance, Arcadia was a reference to an unobtainable pastoral utopia. The setting is suitably pastoral despite being a small town. The area near the lighthouse is devoid of other buildings and evokes this image most throughout the first episode. It is also at first a utopian escape for the protagonist Max. Somewhere she can achieve a different self that she believes will be more fulfilling whilst studying at the prestigious Blackwell Academy, with her dream tutor. Like any situation it is far from the perfection she desired. Especially with the “unobtainable” hammer that is the tornado threatening to destroy the idealised Arcadia Bay.

A poster found in the dormitories.

“Social Media has a time and a place. Don’t let life flash you by.”

A poster highlighting help for depression in Life is Strange.

It’s nice to see even this fictitious Academy is taking mental health seriously.

The choices play out much like Telltale’s games, with very few of them resolved in the first episode. This is both annoying and great. It’s good because it makes you want to play the rest of the episodes and adds the tension needed to make a compelling story. It’s bad because the episodes are staggered and with such a large gap the choice may be forgotten and the tension built will dissipate. An interesting difference from the Telltale games is the lack of a time limitation on the choices, you can take as much time as you please agonising whether a or b is the right option. You can then, due to your ability to turn back time, change your choice. This is made more likely with Max’s questioning doubts after each choice you make. She has the habit of highlighting the negative possibilities from your choices; this though occurs with the vast majority of choices and becomes irritating near the end.

Finally, should you buy this game?

If you are looking for a cheap adventure game with difficult choices that draws you in through its narrative and are not hung up on the fact that you play a 18 year old American girl, then definitely yes. If you feel your connection with the story; my own was slightly hindered by not having experienced the traditional American high school life, won’t be sufficient and that you’d be alienated by the experience, then it’s not a game for you.

Top 5 Video Game Myths

Trawling around the web you may have seen hints to myths or odd things relating to video games. A few of them are completely false and ridiculous (being able to see Lara Croft naked in the original Tomb Raider) but then some are true! Here are a collection of our top 5.

5. The Shadow People of Hell Valley (Super Mario Galaxy 2)

The Shadow People of Hell Valley

The Shadow People of Hell Valley Found Here

In one of the many levels of Super Mario Galaxy 2 if you take your eyes away from the jumping and action and look to the top left of the screen you will see these creepy guys.

No one is quite sure what they are. The sky pattern for this level is named “BeyondHellValley”. No levels exist with that name although some claim it is the Japanese level name or an abandoned beta level. The image above is called “HellValleySkyTree”.

But lets face it. Those are some pretty creepy trees! And they have now been reported in other Nintendo games…

4. Sex Minigame (GTA: San Andreas)

People seem determined to find nude character models or sex in every game (deleting the shower in the original Sims for instance). I even remember a mate of mine suggesting he had found this minigame but just assumed he was joking. Turns out he wasn’t.

Hidden in the game is an abandoned sex minigame. You did have to heavily mod you San Andreas to access it however!

3. Atari Bury E.T. in the Desert

As the story goes in 1983 Atari developed 12 million copies of Pac-Man (even though 10 million consoles existed) and 5 million copies of a reputedly terrible (unplayable) version of an E.T. game. Needless to say many of these games were returned and never bought. Atari on the verge of financial ruin supposedly buried them in the desert.

People loved the idea and many environmentalists became quite distraught. An Atari insider did say that the company would never throw out so many without recycling or reusing the cartridges.

The plot thickens!

It was debated for many years until recently the cartridges were unearthed at a landfill site in New Mexico! Read here.

2. Lavender Town Suicides

Above is the beta version of Lavender town in “Pocket Monsters”. Or Pokémon Red / Green. This version of the music wont be recognised by most at is was shortly changed before it was shipped out of Japan. And here is why!

Shortly after the release of the game in Japan there was a peak in suicides and illness in children between the ages of 7-12. Bizarrely the children often committed suicide in the same way (jumping or hanging) and many others developed illness. Rumour had it this was after each of the children had played through Lavender Town.

And this was due to the theme music and the high frequency parts that older children / adults could not hear.

There have been odd twists and turns in this story (read here) and it is difficult to know the truth. There has been no official link between the spike in suicides and Pokémon although many still argue that there is! This one is up to you to decide.

1. The Hall of Tortured Souls

Hall of Tortured Souls

Hall of Tortured Souls Found Here

Ok, admittedly this one isn’t a video game as such. Throughout the many editions of Microsoft and Windows there have been oddities left in by the creators. Our favourite and most useful is definitely “godmode” (find it here!)

Rumours are rife on the internet about many odd things in Windows or Microsoft. One of the more prominent ones being the hidden game in Microsoft Word 95 and that once you beat it you are shown something really weird.

There isn’t! There is however in Excel 95! The easter egg may be found here.

After following a bizarre collection of instructions and typing a random phrase whilst facing a certain direction you are greater with the above “last supper” esque image. It is in fact the developer team for Excel! Nothing nefarious of creepy at all.

 

Have any other myths you would like to share? Comment / tweet / Facebook us!