Archive for the Uncategorized Category

My head in the clouds

Posted in Uncategorized on November 18, 2012 by link6616

So, over the last year I’ve attempted to revive my netbook from it’s life of being unused. From buying a new battery, reinstalling XP back to it’s factory settings, trying Lubuntu, a light weight Ubuntu distro even more lighter than Ubunutu eee, Chrome OS, and most recently Joli OS.

Lubuntu was nice, but I very quickly ran into issues around forgetting to make a swap disk and swap files screwed over sleep/hibernate mode, which is pretty important for netbooks, so that died quickly.

A cloud based caught my eye, so I tried chrome. Supposedly, my little 2008 netbook wasn’t quite up to scratch for Google, although it ran it quite well it just didn’t work with the touchpad at all, which is a little difficult. But I played with it with a mouse for an hour or so, got to say, it’s impressive what you can do with what amounts to just a browser.

In my attempts to fix this issue with Chrome though I ran into an interesting OS called ‘JoliOS’ a cloud OS like chrome, but also tied with Desktop iOS and android applications, with the idea being that your cloud is unified, everything you do on Joli is there on anything else you can access with it. Oddly is is also based around Chrome, but is at it’s heart a linux distro.

Although you actually need to dig a little to find that linux core, right clicking on the desktop will reveal to most techy people that Joli is basically entirely within a web browser from the word go, with the options back/forwards save as etc. 

While the whole thing doesn’t quite come together as well as it should perhaps on my eeepc with a few bugs around full video display, and some slowness going between sections of the desktop, it’s fast and quick to get to everything, with no real taskbar (only a small thin line up the top with small icons for all open apps) most of my eeepc’s screen can be taken up with whatever single page I’m looking at.

Yup, single page. This is where it’s clear this is for netbookers or low power users in my eyes, you are not viewing anything side by side here at all. But for a netbook, this isn’t really an issue.

Joli also uses ‘apps’ in a very iOS like appearance, but upon closer inspection there really isn’t much to these apps… they are with few exceptions hyperlinks that don’t present the URL at the top of the screen. However, this actually works, for the sites you constantly look at like facebook or something having them close but separate to the general browsing experience helps you reduce the amount of tabs open during your research or whatever it might be that you are doing.

And it’s actually pretty surprising how much really is covered by these hyperlink apps. With word processors, editors of various kinds, music movies, it’s unsurprising there is a push to take these things to the cloud.

But, you ask, what’s so great about all that, can’t I just do all that on my computer without the OS. And the answer is yes, on that level Joli is nothing special. For me what is special is what Joli seems to be on the verge of really setting up. Along the side of the desktop under buttons for desktop and HDDS is a section called ‘my cloud’ listing dropbox, skydrive, google drive, flickr, readability youtube and all those kinds of things. chances are you have a lot of these services already. And what’s impressive is that most of these are actually not just the hyperlink to webpage, but more fully intergrated. Clicking on a cloud storage will look like just another drive, youtube has a different interface closer to an iPad, flicker and readability much the same, and all these unique services are made to look much more unified. the swap from Readability to dropbox isn’t as jarring as it might normally be.

While all that is impressive what Joli really lacks is completeness though, while it displays dropbox like another drive, clicking on anything simply opens up dropbox’s website, to the same spot regardless of what file you clicked on. While readability is nicely integrated facebook is barely a part of the system, and twitter merely a hyperlink.

Another strong issue with the OS is probably a lack of native apps. While it is linux, the Joli app store only has a very limited collection of the most basic linux apps, open office, VLC and skype come to mind. But I was surprised at the lack of a general IM program like Pidgin. There are plenty of web based services that emulate it, but I do feel the OS lacks more non cloud based applications at the moment, and even though you can install other linux apps on the OS, I have not been able to make them appear on the desktop.

Keyboard short cuts i also see as another issue.

I’m really curious to see how Joli turns out once the iOS app is restored on the Australian itunes store, and see if it being around on all my gadgets really helps a great deal or not. But I’m actually now quite optimistic for what a cloud future might be like for computers, I’m convinced at the very least, it could actually work if devs like Joli keep doing the kind of thing they are trying.

Oh, this was typed on Joli while listening to music from 61, which is a surprisingly interesting service that I wouldn’t have known about if it weren’t for joli 

Sengoku Basara: The game that surprised me

Posted in Uncategorized on January 3, 2012 by link6616

Earlier this year I realised something… I’d just ignored the whole Dynasty Warriors thing. Disregarded it as bad and never even considered it could have some merit. All I knew was that is was shallow, mindless, repetitive and all these other words I associate with bad…

But you know what… A lot of games are like that when all is said and done and you’ve done the spread sheets. So I found a copy of Sengoku Basara, the capcom version of Dynasty warriors, and Dynasty Warriors 7 a little later and I was actually really impressed by them. They we’re everything I expected, mindless, shallow, repetitive and actually felt a little wrong with running speeds too (both of them, you feel too light if that makes sense)…

But they both taught me something really important…. Those qualities can be just what you want, and with the right visuals to go with it can be super compelling. I’m enjoying my time with these more than I did with the diablo.

Being aware of your biases.

Posted in Uncategorized on June 5, 2011 by link6616

It’s recently been coming up in a discussion on fighters being too hard to learn (which they are) that people aren’t aware of their biases. So what is a bias? Traditionally we think of bias as being unfairly liking/hating something, however bias really is anything that affects your opinion on it. Mauled by strippers as a child and bayonetta might not be your thing, that’s a bias in a more traditional sense. Grew up on a dpad controller and never got the hang of analog sticks, that’s also an bias in the traditional sense.

But biases can be less obvious, some can go as simply as X to jump/Select things, O to cancel, possibly other main action. Good chance Square and triangle are attack buttons. Noticed I used playstation button names? That’s right, I’m biased as I don’t think in terms of the Xbox buttons. The learning of conventions is a huge part of our biases, and when things go against those conventions, no matter how stupid they might be, we tend to get worked up about it. Not that going against conventions is always good, and unless your new setup is genuinely better, it’s probably best to stick with convention when you can with control schemes…

But conventions, and bias affect how we can learn things. Fighters are unintuitive, for some people (although we are talking basic levels here, higher levels of everything are unintuitive), but some people they make sense. Usually you can trace that back to what those people might have learned before hand… If you played games like Golden Axe, streets of rage, Final Fight, ninja gaiden, and all those older 2d action games, you’ll probably find fighters easier. You are used to all sorts of 2d collisions, invulnerability, recovery, wake up in some cases and all those conventions part of that larger genre of ‘2d action’ encompassing quite a lot.

At the same time, I have no familiarity with the FPS genre. I didn’t play quake, not much of golden eye or perfect dark. I didn’t play system shock, bio shock, Deus Ex, I just haven’t really touched the FPS before, and continued to not do so because I didn’t before. And I increasingly don’t know how to, nor learn how to go about learning how to. Sure I get my WASD and mouse aiming at this point in games like Dragon Ages 2, but I don’t naturally work in that dual stick m/k way. And so I don’t get good at these games because I’m simply not aware of what i can be looking for.

Short story: You need to learn how to go about learning in an environment. You need to learn what stats might help you, like in a fighter, knowing how much meter you gain off everything is less important than knowing how to counter a few jump ins. But to know which is more important is hard. Learning how to learn is tricky, don’t take it lightly when treading into a new genre.

Link, the SSB kind

Posted in Uncategorized on February 8, 2011 by link6616

Look up some tourney quality link videos now. Type in SSBM or SSBB and link vs in to youtube and watch a vid or two…

Link is focused on a very special element of fighting games and one I’m always happy to play with. Thats one of dynamism, the ability to be very dynamic. Link’s very unique combination of projectiles allow him to create a near endless amount of complex situations which force your opponent to deal with many things at once.

This ability to create so many situations makes Link’s gameplay much more reliant on understanding the properties, uses and the interactivity of these.  And it’s this aspect that makes Link a joy to play. The constant play almost against your self of testing how you can interact with your own skills, aswell as the opponent is a blast. Getting that boomerang to stun them on the way back to you so your bomb hits is a joy to watch, and combines the very best of zoning and your own position given the arcs and physics behind Smash’s engine.

If you are wanting to design a character who’s more about the what should I do rather than the how, link is an excellent example of how to pull that off while still being fun.

Also, if you ever want to vs me in SSB games, be warned I play a mean Link.

Dragon Quest V, first impressions

Posted in Uncategorized on February 7, 2011 by link6616

Over the last two days, I’ve managed to play about… 2 hours of DQV, which isn’t much… But with DQ, you always know what you are in for… Doesn’t stop it from being fun though.

One of the interesting things about DQV is that you play through the life of your character, witnessing his birth his time as a boy of six, and presumably some other ages. And what I like about it so far, is that the game makes you feel your character is that age… Although the fighting of monsters is kinda silly for a child of that age, the game kinda sets it up nicely…

The first dungeon is you going into a cave having be sent to play, and finding a man there, and helping him out, the 2nd dungeon’s premise is a childish challenge to go into a haunted house which if you get rid of the ghosts, will stop a cat from being teased…

These set ups, along with things like “You looked at the book shelf, but you can’t read yet’ and the way the characters treat and talk to you makes it a believable enough childhood to be just pleasantly enjoyable. So, so far, I’m giving this nice pleasant RPG the thumbs up

Rhythm Action: The ultimate relaxation

Posted in Uncategorized on February 6, 2011 by link6616

First up: Did you know the basis of hypnosis comes from intense focus followed by the willingness to follow commands.

That might be a light simplification, but have you ever played Guitar Hero, and then just have the song end without you noticing, in a state of mind so pure that you literally stopped thinking.

That’s right! Rhythm games are the only genre whose ultimate success is you totally zoning out and being hypnotized to follow the games commands perfectly.

For this reason, the ability these games above all else to create a purely empty mind, makes them incredibly relaxing. Obviously when you are playing at a level you can’t really perform at, it’s a little stressful, but something you can do, can be extremely relaxing and offer the same benefits as meditation, a practice I’ve admired, but found impossible to reap the benefits as there is too much to think about in this world to just stop thinking of your own free will.

While failure admittedly can cause stress, for some more than others, once you’ve obtained a basic mastery of the games concepts, you should be able to judge what kind of song gets that flow requirement right, to put you in a state of peace.

Who knows, maybe guitar hero isn’t just for parties, but for relaxation too!

Combat in Birth By Sleep

Posted in Uncategorized on February 5, 2011 by link6616

Birth By Sleep is a really nice game…

Now, context for that statement. I love combat in the game, while KH has fun combat in general, there have been some issues  that BBS deals with in clever simple ways.

KH2 ushered in some lightning fast combat that was far too automated… BBS can have this problem (especially if you aren’t playing on proud mode, which you should in BBS as it’s not as stupid as other KH games’ proud mode), but typically it doesn’t. BBS simplifies and creates more complexity in combat using it’s command deck, styles and D links, which I’ll get to in order

Your command deck is basically all the skills and moves you can use, starting with 3, and capping at 8 by the end of the game (by which point you’ll find moves taking up multiple slots too). Each ability can be used once, and then has to recharge, so when creating a command deck, you have to decide if you want flexibility or the ability to do something frequently. One of the nice things about skills is that some of them allow you to get various items and abilities earlier because they move you in various ways.

Command styles are a fairly new addition to the franchise overall… Basically as you do anything offensive your command gauge builds up and once it’s full (which isn’t very long) one of two things can happen:

If you have fufilled a requirement for a command style, you change to that style

If you haven’t do a ‘finish move’

Typically, the finish moves are not that impressive, but do have some uses here and there, so it’s normally best to go for the command style. Command styles typically give you an elemental ability attached to your weapon, increased range power, aswell as the ability to either go into a more powerful style or unleash a very powerful finisher. You acquire the styles throughout the story, and each one has a different requirement. Typically it’s to use certain elemental magics/attack although they can be awarded for other reasons.

The requirements are pretty forgiving, typically if you use a single elemental spell just once to fill up your gauge, you’ll be likely to go to that style, however given the impact styles can have on what you do, it’s important to keep track of what you do in battle, and how your command deck is set up. If you don’t have an Ice command style yet, maybe you should consider taking out all the ice spells in your deck.

The interactions between these two systems is nice, and forces you to think about what you really want, although sadly the importance of picking the right style isn’t very high, and so it falls flat a little…

D-Links are pretty worthless as a system though. Basically they only truely serve to heal you and give you access to another characters skills. Which one in a while might save you, but often since you aren’t used to the skill set, you aren’t able to play as well as you might normally have. This system doesn’t interact with you in the long run either… making it the needless extra summons were in the first 2 games.