2019. április 2., kedd

Missed Classic 65: Spellbreaker (1985) - Introduction

Written by Joe Pranevich

From the earliest days of the company, Infocom had one tradition: a new Zork title released every fall. After Zork III, the baton was passed to the Enchanter series which, as patient and dedicated readers know was just the second Zork trilogy. October of 1985 was no exception with the launch of Spellbreaker, the conclusion to the second Zork trilogy. But 1985 wasn't like previous years at Infocom. Layoffs had begun to stem the bleeding from Cornerstone's commercial flop. A Mind Forever Voyaging wasn't a commercial success and Fooblitzky had sold only five hundred copies by mail-order. I cannot imagine what the feelings were around the Infocom offices. Could this be the end?

Of course, we know it wasn't, but Spellbreaker does mark the end of one era. It is the last of the original six Zork games. Other than a 1997 marketing tie-in, it's the last Zork to be written by the original collaborators, Marc Blank or Dave Lebling. It's nearly (but not quite) the last game to be released by an independent Infocom. It's also one of the games that I have most looked forward to playing in this marathon.

What? No library book?

In some ways, Spellbreaker is a return to form for the Zork series. After handing off the reins to their flagship series to the ever-capable Steve Meretzky for Sorcerer (1984), Dave Lebling returned to tackle this game solo. Lebling has been one of the most prolific designers for Infocom with both a literary style and a penchant for strong puzzle design. In addition to co-writing the first four Zork games, he also wrote Starcross and received a co-credit for the story on The Witness. The development of Spellbreaker should have been a well-trodden path, but it did hit a few wrinkles.

The biggest issue was, strangely, the title. Lebling wanted the title to be Mage, a natural continuation (of a sort) from the previous two games. The title would represent the increasing maturity of the protagonist from a lowly "Enchanter" to a powerful "Sorcerer" and then to a presumably more powerful "Mage". While I understand the desire for theming, I agree with the push-back from the marketing folks. Those three terms do not represent (to me) anything like a progression and I wouldn't necessarily be able to say whether an Enchanter is any more or less powerful than a Mage-- and this comes from a deep love of fantasy literature since childhood. "Archmage" might have worked better for me, but that wasn't one of the suggestions. Lebling was quite put off by this marketing pushback and eventually even snuck a protest into the game: a very small portion of the time, the game's title screen will say Mage instead of Spellbreaker.

A second option that was explored and ultimately rejected was to add the Zork name back to the series: Zork VI: Spellbreaker. In my view with more than a little hindsight, that would have been the best approach. At this stage, the Zork name was still selling games like hotcakes. Zork I was the #2 selling Infocom game in 1985, behind only Hitchhiker's Guide. Zork II was #5, behind AMFV and Spellbreaker. I'll have more to say about this in an upcoming post, but the fact that Infocom wasn't embracing the one brand of their own that was still successful in the marketplace is crazy. Whatever's Lebling's artistic sensibilities were, he was senior enough in the organization that he should have understood the value in a brand. Thanks in part to a name that didn't click with consumers, Spellbreaker would actually have negative sales in 1986, as store returns for unsold inventory would offset otherwise strong sales in 1985. For my money, I am most concerned about the title because it is itself a spoiler (albeit a subtle one) for the game. Although I have not played this game more than a few minutes twenty years ago, I do know how it ends.

The cards are cute at least.

As in the previous games, there are a few includes "feelies" with the game. Most notably, the manual is augmented by the "Frobozz Magic Magic Equipment Catalog" for the year 966. Special crisis edition! In it is a number of advertisements for wands and magic carpets, some of which might be applicable in the game, but if so I don't see how yet. While the previous feelies had a good sense of humor about them, I cannot help but to find this included catalog as being tacky. Full-color glossy product photographs and low-rent model wizards with forced smiles just doesn't feel like Zork to me, although the series has always been a blend of fantasy and modern.

In addition to the catalog, the game comes with a series of wizard trading cards-- my bet is that they are this game's equivalent of the Infotator and will be required for copyright protection. Each card contains the picture of a notable wizard, a quote, and some random statistics including their Double Fanucci handicap. What is Double Fanucci? It's an in-universe card game, although I cannot recall if I know that because of previous games or if it's something that stuck with me from a later one.

Let's play the game!

No pompous title screens here!

The game begins in the middle of a magician's council. After our exploits in the previous games, we are now a guildmaster and attending a conference with the other buildmasters of the Empire. Magic, it appears, is failing. One by one, witnesses come forward to discuss their magical problems like pastry chefs that are forced to fold pastry by hand or brewers that rely on magic to brew their beers. One can't help but wonder if one of the issues isn't overuse? If magic is being used for all of these mundane things, is that draining the universe of its magical energy? I hope that doesn't turn out to be the problem, if I guessed it in the first screen,

Of course, I am playing an adventure game and so I'm taking notes as the townsmen are speaking. The baker uses the "gloth" spell to fold his pastry, for example, while the "fripple" spell keeps monsters away from the towns. I also take the time to check my inventory: I have a burin for writing magical things like scrolls, a knife, and my trusty spellbook. My spellbook in specific seems to have been drained since the last game as once again I just have a small number of spells. There's a brief in-game explanation that many of the spells that I once knew no longer work due to the crisis.

The ones I have left include:
  • yomin - mind probe
  • rezrov - open locked doors
  • frotz - give off light
  • gnusto - write a spell into our spell book
  • malyon - animate
  • jindak - detect magic
  • lesoch - gust of wind
Of those, we have our stalwarts "rezrov", "frotz", and "gnusto" that have appeared in all three games. "Yomin" and "malyon" were added in Sorcerer, while "jindak" and "lesoch" are brand new to this game.


While I was listening to the townspeople rant about their problems, a shadowy figure snuck into the back of the room and transformed everyone into frogs! Everyone except me, that is. Why was I spared? Was it deliberate or an accident? I chase the assailant south out of the guildhouse and into Belwit Square, but he's able to cast some sort of smokescreen and teleport away. I use the new "lesoch" spell to clear the smoke-- I have to do it twice because it failed the first time-- but he is long gone. Only a featureless white cube remains where the figure once was.

I grab it and head back into the guildhall. As I ran past before, I didn't see some bread and fish on the table and I grab those now. I hope that doesn't mean we have an eating mechanic in this game. It's been a while since we've had one of those! I try to "yomin" the frogs to read their minds, maybe get some wisdom from my fellow elders, but all they are thinking about now is flies.

Borphee awaits, but my explorations are in vain as the city is more or less an illusion. East and west just end up having me get turned around and we end up right back where we started. South of the square is the Manse where the Mayors of the city live and work, but it's locked and guarded. Whatever I need to do isn't that way. Fortunately, it doesn't take me more than a few moments to figure out what I can do: in my spellbook is a new spell which I have never seen before: "blorple", to explore mystic connections. With no better ideas, I cast "blorple" on the cube and am transported to a dark room.

Our adventure begins!

Time played: 30 min
Inventory: rye bread, smoked fish, magic burin, knife, spellbook
Spell Book Contains: yomin, rezrov, frotz, gnusto, malyon, jindak, lesoch, blorple

Since this is an Introduction post, it's time to guess the score! The current average score for an Infocom game is 38 points. Lebling's previous eight games are slightly above that, averaging 39 points: mainframe Zork (41 points), Zork I (35), Zork II (32), Zork III (42), Starcross (37), The Witness (50), Enchanter (37), and Suspect (38). Of those, Lebling was co-designer on the Zork games and Enchanter, while only provided some story guidance on The Witness. Lebling appears to be quite consistent in his scores and I have a feeling we'll have a number of guesses in that range.

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There's a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no CAPs will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. As this is an introduction post, it's an opportunity for readers to bet 10 CAPs (only if they already have them) that I won't be able to solve a puzzle without putting in an official Request for Assistance: remember to use ROT13 for betting. If you get it right, you will be rewarded with 50 CAPs in return. It's also your chance to predict what the final rating will be for the game. Voters can predict whatever score they want, regardless of whether someone else has already chosen it. All correct (or nearest) votes will go into a draw.

Movie Reviews: Ready Player One, Game Night, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, The Phantom Thread, Loving Vincent

See all of my movie reviews.

Sorry guys; five disappointing movies ...

Ready Player One: From Steven Spielberg, this is a shallow, uninteresting movie is about a guy who plays in a virtual world looking for three Easter eggs, or "keys", so that he can gain ownership of the company that owns the virtual world. While he is at it, others are also looking for the keys, one of whom is a woman who joins him as love interest (along with some other guild members), as well as certain high-financed players backed by people who are willing to kill you in the real world if they discover who you are and that you are a competitor.

Within five minutes of the start of the movie I found myself not caring about the boy or anyone else, since there is zero character development. Astonishingly, the amount I cared continued to drop as the movie went along. I didn't think that was possible, since I already didn't care at all, but I managed to continue to care less and less. I eventually figured out that this was because the score was very good. It cued me into thinking, every once in a while, that something that I might care about was about to occur. Each time, however, this never happened.

The amusement of the movie is supposed to come from a) watching other people play video games, which is a colossal bore (unless the player knows how to fill the time with snarky commentary, as people often do on YouTube), and b) seeing hundreds of throwbacks to 1980s video games and fiction. Unlike recent media in which this worked, such as Stranger Things and even Super 8 to an extent, it did not work here. I didn't get 90% of the references, and, anyway, simply seeing references on screen is not what made those other media good; the other media had good stories. And, I guess, we are supposed to be amused by c) the suspense as to whether the main character will solve the rather obvious and uninteresting puzzles and ultimately find the keys and triumph. Duh.

There is not a scrap of emotion in the entire movie. Someone gets killed at one point, but it's someone who we were barely introduced to and who is not shown as having any emotional connection to the main character. I am really in shock at this. This is the emotionally manipulative director who brought us Jaws? E.T.? Shindler's List? Bridge of Spies?

Whatever. I guess, while it is a useless and dull movie, it is not particularly offensive, at least. Oh wait, it is: at the end of the movie the narrator tells us that we shouldn't be spending all of our time playing video games / in virtual reality, but should instead interact with each other more in the real world. Thanks for that very important message; never would have known that.

One more thing that irritated me: T.J. Miller played the exact same character in this movie that he played in Silicon Valley. I liked it in Silicon Valley, but it was pretty out of place here.

Game Night: This is ninety minutes of one joke, the kind of joke that is funny only if it comes once, unexpectedly, in the middle of an otherwise serious situation, but is not funny when it comes repeatedly for ninety minutes. This is a farcical remake of The Game (1997, Michael Douglas). Instead of a strange combination of gaslighting, pursuit, and trying to figure out what is going on as the terror mounts, in this movie the terror happens, but everyone keeps making stupid jokes. It's supposed to be funny, because they keep making light of things while bad things happen; that's the one and only joke, really. The acting, directing, and cinematography were fine. Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams are always cute.

The movie that did this well is The Man Who knew Too Little (1997, Bill Murray), which was a cute and silly movie. I was appalled enough at this movie to happily walk outside the movie theater twice to answer phone calls (I had it on vibrate, guys). If my friends hadn't been with me in the theater, I would have gone home and not gone back in to the theater to finish the movie. In the movie's defense, my friends liked it. They said that they like to see a mindless, silly movie once in a while (I think that's a slight directed at me and my movie choices).

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri: This is a well-acted, grim piece of midwest Americana. Mildred's (Fances McDermott) daughter was raped and murdered several months ago, but she hasn't heard anything from the police who are busy (according to her) chasing and shooting blacks who aren't really doing anything. So she puts up some billboards that pointedly call out the chief of police (Woody Harrelson) in a low-trafficked area. What makes it interesting is that a) she is actually friends with the chief of police, b) the chief is dying of cancer and should really not be at work, and c) the rest of the police dept doesn't take kindly to this, especially one lunatic racist violent hotheaded police creep. Things come to a boil, especially after the police chief shoots himself.

This movie is relentlessly depressing, representing a lot of the worst aspects of American prejudice, violence, despair, and hatred. Just about nobody supports Midred, not even her son. Interestingly, the lunatic police guy actually makes a kind of (unbelievable) change around two thirds into the movie. This should have given us a bit of hope. However, the movie ends just as bleakly and miserably as it started.

Other than being relentlessly depressing, what actually ruins the movie for me are the multiple acts of outrageous criminal behavior performed by multiple people on multiple occasions, some of it incredibly brutal and most of it performed in sight of multiple witnesses. These acts are done and never have repercussions. And I'm not saying that the bad guys weasel their way out of repercussions, I'm saying that the movie doesn't seem to believe that any reactions by the witnesses or police is expected. What the hell? Is this a video game? While I expect to sometimes find injustice in the system, the system still exists; treating violence like it's just a video game broke the reality of the movie for me.

The movie has compelling performances and some good ideas, but it's ultimately not realistic enough to recommend.

The Phantom Thread: Daniel Day Lewis gives another astounding performance as Reynolds, a dressmaker / bachelor / bully and all around a**hole in 1950s London. He is joined by other great performances by Vicky Krieps, Lesley Manville, and everyone else in this beautifully shot and artfully scripted period piece about a dressmaker who obsessively creates beautiful dresses, but only if his cadre of assistants take care of his other needs and none of them interrupts his "solitary genius" thinking. This genius is, apparently, sufficient excuse for everyone to give him his way, and for him to throw toxic vitriol at anyone who expresses any kind of opinion, presence, or personality. Like a spoiled baby, as one of the other main characters eventually says.

Krieps plays a waitress, Anna, who is drawn to this bully and who follows him to London to be a dress model and eventually a lover. She falls deeply in love with him - because he is such a genius - and even goes and does some of his bullying for him, both - because he is such a genius - and because she hopes he will one day fall in love with her and allow her to butter her toast in his presence without cursing her out. Even taking into account that this is the 1950s, she is really pathetic; in the first two thirds of the movie, not a moment is shown where she has a relationship with anyone else but him. No family? No friends or neighbors at all?

SPOILERS follow, because really you shouldn't watch this movie, and if you do you should be prepared for what happens.

Anna has a little strength in her, just enough to keep wanting him to love her. And so, one day after she suffers great abuse from him, she poisons him, and he falls sick and can't work for the next few days he is too sick to abuse her, so she is happy. And then, he comes back from his illness and proposes to her.

Okay ... but maybe he doesn't know that she poisoned him?

After the marriage, things go back to as they were, obviously, and he begins to heap abuse at her again until one day she overhears him complaining about how he doesn't want her around as she is disrupting his work. So she poisons him again, and this time he knows it and goes along with it. And he loves her.

And that's the movie. Okay...

So this is a sick, toxic (literally) relationship that works for both of them. She is only happy when he is poisoned and helpless, and he, despite his passion and perfection for work is apparently only able to love her when his work is taken from him and he is poisoned and helpless. Apparently he makes the choice to let her poison him. Perhaps he really doesn't want the endless pressure of being a genius after all? It's hard to say, as the screenwriter leaves it a mystery.

Like Whiplash, I recognize great performances and interesting screenplay, but I can't watch it. Who really wants to watch two hours of repulsive people, where the main character is an abusive, horrible person? A little bit of it in a movie adds color. You know that the scriptwriter threw it in for you to not like the abusive character. But, if the whole movie is about an abusive character who doesn't learn the error of his ways, you get the impression that the scriptwriter thinks that we should be entertained by it, or even sympathetic to this toxic white privileged male jerk.

But I wasn't. And I wasn't. I was simply repulsed. And the perfect "solitary genius" who is too important to be bothered with having to be nice to people is a myth.

Loving Vincent: Like a number of other animations I have reviewed, this work is one of astounding, gorgeous animation but also utterly boring. The plot, such as it is, is ... um ... well, there isn't one. A police officer wanders around trying to deliver a letter and asks a few questions about how Van Gogh died. It is all shots, and scenes, and music, and flaccid unimportant dialog. And nothing happens and there are no characters.

2019. április 1., hétfő

Butt Fantasia By Mohit Jaswal, Short Film Review

Butt Fantasia is a parody film where all of the actors except one are filmed as bare-assed characters. This is not saying they are running around in the nude—it's just their backsides.

I screened Butt Fantasiaas part of the 2019 Slamdance Film Festival (link). As part of their Narrative Short category.

Mohit Jaswal was involved in every level of the production of Butt Fantasia and said, "Its a labor of love for stupid cinema." As such, we are treated to a collection of parody scenes.

The introduction is to the conductor, who with the help of a magical hat contemplates what his butt has gone through (that is the tag for the movie). He starts by conducting some music from Fantasia. Other scenes include Godzilla destroying Tokyo and a firing squad (the blindfolded butt was quite the costume). The scenes are pulled together by the conductor who finishes the film by singing a song of liking butts.

This isn't a short film for all people. It is not risqué, so don't expect to see more than what is promised (and they are not all blemish free). There is a mild shock value to the film and the special effects match with visible wires in the scenes and cardboard box building.

With a subtle sigh of relief, I can say I didn't recognize any of the actors. They gave crack performances and who knows, they may be called back to reprise their roles in a sequel exploring other scenes.

Butt Fantasia is a short fun film for an off centered audience. It is the type of short I would slip into a set that I'm showing to friends to throw them off—a palate cleanser before moving on to a more serious serving.

Butt Fantasia is currently on the film festival circuit.

If you have a comment, suggestion, or critique please leave a comment here or send an email to guildmastergaming@gmail.com.

You can also join Guild Master Gaming on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter(@GuildMstrGmng).

2019. március 29., péntek

The Ultimate List of The 7 Best URL Shortener Services

  1. CPMlink: CPMlink is one of the most legit URL shortener sites.You can sign up for free.It works like other shortener sites.You just have to shorten your link and paste that link into the internet.When someone will click on your link.
    You will get some amount of that click.It pays around $5 for every 1000 views.They offer 10% commission as the referral program.You can withdraw your amount when it reaches $5.The payment is then sent to your PayPal, Payza or Skrill account daily after requesting it.
    • The payout for 1000 views-$5
    • Minimum payout-$5
    • Referral commission-10%
    • Payment methods-Paypal, Payza, and Skrill
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    With Ouo.io you can earn up to $8 per 1000 views. It also counts multiple views from same IP or person. With Ouo.io is becomes easy to earn money using its URL Shortener Service. The minimum payout is $5. Your earnings are automatically credited to your PayPal or Payoneer account on 1st or 15th of the month.
    • Payout for every 1000 views-$5
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    It offers a very comprehensive reporting system for tracking the performance of your each shortened URL. The minimum payout is kept low, and it is $5. It pays on 10th of every month. You can receive your earnings via PayPal, Payza, or AlertPay. Adf.ly also runs a referral program wherein you can earn a flat 20% commission for each referral for a lifetime.
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  6. Short.am: Short.am provides a big opportunity for earning money by shortening links. It is a rapidly growing URL Shortening Service. You simply need to sign up and start shrinking links. You can share the shortened links across the web, on your webpage, Twitter, Facebook, and more. Short.am provides detailed statistics and easy-to-use API.
    It even provides add-ons and plugins so that you can monetize your WordPress site. The minimum payout is $5 before you will be paid. It pays users via PayPal or Payoneer. It has the best market payout rates, offering unparalleled revenue. Short.am also run a referral program wherein you can earn 20% extra commission for life.
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    • Payout for 1000 views-$16
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WWE 2K17 Save Data Link | WWE SVR 2011

This is the Savedata of WWE SvR 2011 also Known As WWE 2k11. This Savedata Has WWE 2k17 Wrestlers Caws and Attires. Download and Enjoy. Click here to Download Savedata

Far Cry 3 PC Game Download


Far Cry 3 PC Game Free is a 2013 comedic 1st-person shooter video game developed by the Ubisoft Montreal & published by Ubisoft. It is a stand-alone expansion to 2012 video game Far Cry 3 & the eighth overall installment in the Far Cry franchise.

 The player will find themselves using elevated powered explosives, heavily modified firearms & a large knife in order to kill their way through the main missions. Side missions involve the liberating garrisons, killing rare animals & saving hostages. Stealth is rewarded with additional Cyber Points, the equivalent of Experience Points. 

Minimum System Requirements For Far Cry 3 PC Game:
  • Operating S: Windows® XP (SP3) / Windows Vista® (SP2) / Windows® 7 (SP1) / Windows® 8
  • Processor: At least 2.66 GHz Intel® Core™2 Duo E6700 or 3.00 GHz AMD Athlon™ 64 X2 6000+
  • Memory: At least 2 GB
  • Graphics: At least 512 MB DirectX® 9.0c–compliant
  • DirectX®: Direct X® 9.0c
  • Hard Drive: At least 3 GB HD space
  • Sound: Direct X 9.0c–compliant

Far Cry 3 Free Download:

TGR Episode 10 - Playing Video Games Is "Not Normal" Apparently

Due to a slight scheduling problem, we had to record the podcast a little bit late this week.  We did get around to doing it, so strap in and get your ear-holes ready.  Do we have a bombshell for you guys today.  Dalyn and I discuss a myriad of issues going on with the gaming industry, how it's "not normal for a man in his 20's to play video games", and talk about skeeting and taking a dump on a chicks face just to get her to blink.  Does this interest you?  Then you need to listen to the brand new episode of Twisted Gamer Radio.

On today's show:

- Breivik Trial Discussion
- Australia Passes R18+ Rating
- Nintendo Announces New Handheld
- Quick Hits
- Fucked Up News:  Roomate Stabbing Over Video Game
- Sound Clip Corner:  Stoner Kids Save Family and Would You Hit It?

Contact Us:
Listen right now!. Subscribe via iTunes, rate us over there, and leave us a comment. You can also listen over at Stitcher.com through assorted smart phones and tablets on the go. Just download the Stitcher app!

E-mail us news, topics, comments or questions to: Twisted Gamer Radio

Call in and be heard on-air:  (469) 248-5668  (POOT)
The Distorted Gamer Blog

2019. március 28., csütörtök

The Witcher 3 Is Amazingly Written, And People Should Talk About It More.

The three best-known characters of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
(There are light spoilers ahead for The Witcher 3, starting about halfway through. Even if you haven't played the game, you should still read all of this article, as it is a good article.)

A large part of the purpose of this blog is to pick apart interesting video games, so it would be shameful for me to pass up one of this year's most exciting titles, the Polish hit RPG The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

I've been playing computer RPGs since they existed, so I'm sort of burned out on the genre. I play them for market research, but I rarely finish them and almost never enjoy them. Thus, I can give The Witcher 3 the highest praise I can give an RPG: When I stopped playing it to do something else, I wasn't happy about it. I found it to be, and yes, I can't believe I'm saying this, a ton of fun.

It's also full of fascinating design. It does some things in writing I've never seen in a game before, and parts of the game completely blew my jaded self away. I would have loved to see game writers and critics pick apart the machinery of this game and show what new things it did and why it did them so well.

Didn't happen, so I have to pick up the slack. Alas ...

Putting On My Critic Hat

There was some vigorous critical debate about The Witcher 3 when it came out, but it primarily centered around whether this Polish game, made by Poles and set in a fantasy Poland based on Polish books, had too many white people.

(Side note: Did you know that many Eastern Europeans, who occupy a large, diverse region with a long and rich history, severe poverty, and recent history of vicious oppression, find it intensely irritating to be thoughtlessly lumped into the huge, vague category of "white people"?)

The question of whether the Polish people deserve the right to make their own representations of themselves without getting permission from affluent North American academics is one I plan to leave entirely alone.

Instead, I'm going to say something about The Witcher 3 that will probably severely agitate some readers: It is a terrific, much-needed dose of diversity for the game industry.

It is possible that some of us are overly fixating on the unicorn thing.
There's a Lot of Sorts of Diversity.

My wife is a Hungarian immigrant, and her half of our family is Hungarian and Polish. I'm not going to pretend for a second to be an expert on their cultures, but I have had a few decades of close observation. Enough to say this:

The Witcher 3 feels like it was written by people who spent a lot of their childhoods at their parents' and grandparents' feet, hearing stories about the horrors of World War 2 and the following Soviet occupation. (Or like the game was written by people who suffered that misery directly.)

Eastern Europeans have always seemed to me to be a tough, serious people living in a historically dangerous part of the world. Appropriately, this is a tough, serious game, full of unfairness and arbitrary cruelty.

The Witcher 3 feels like it is written with a keen awareness of what it is like to have your country occupied by brutal outsiders. Coincidentally, it comes from Poland, a country whose experience of the 20th century was, let's say, traumatic. For them to use that experience to produce a work like this is something we should treasure. It is a valuable thing.

Video games tend to approach politics in a simplistic way. The Witcher 3 is obsessed with politics. It shows again and again how the decisions made by those in power filter down and affect (usually painfully) regular people. This is not a game that sugar coats anything. Anywhere. Ever.

So This Is Where We Lose the Game Critics

Much modern gaming criticism is based on this basic theory: Popular culture shapes how people think, which shapes the world. Therefore, art is inherently political. It should focus on showing the world in the lovely state we want it to be, as opposed to the unpleasant way it might actually be.

(To see an example of this viewpoint, consider the well-known Tropes vs. Women video series. Go here and read the last three paragraphs of the transcript.)

The Witcher 3, on the other hand, depicts a medieval, war-torn, highly patriarchal society. It is only rarely judgmental. The game sets up how its world is, and then it deals with the consequences, logically grinding from one inevitable event to the next.

This game doesn't lie to you, even if some want it to. It comes from a land that knows full well how cruel the world can be, and it knows that ignoring that cruelty is an insult to our ancestors, the ones who withstood it in order to make a world for us. This leads The Witcher 3 to a lot of really interesting places, and I'm genuinely surprised game writers haven't dug into it more.

It is a game full of grim humor, some of which was a bit much for me. (For example, I absolutely would have cut the gwent card with the joke about "raping for Redania.")

It's also a game where horror sits side by side with silly humor and pop culture references. There's nothing unusual about this. Humans often use inappropriate humor to deal with difficult circumstances. (Example: Google "jewish nazi jokes". Or just watch any old Mel Brooks movie.)

Video games need more of this. Our industry tends to approach politics and other real world conflicts in a simplistic way, with black and white morality and good/evil choices that don't line up with how things really work. For all its occasional whimsy, The Witcher 3 reflects real thought about humanity and how it bears up (or breaks) under oppression.

That is why I say The Witcher 3 is a great example of diversity in our industry. There are many sorts of diversity. It brings diversity of thought, perspective, history. It is infused with a different, harder way of thinking and regarding the world.

If you are an academic preparing to write the 1000000th article on Proteus or Gone Home or Spec Ops: The Line, might I direct you to a title that is under-examined and worthy of analysis?

(Mild spoilers start here. Keep reading anyway.)

It is possible that some of us are overly fixating on the unicorn thing.
Family Matters.

No discussion about storytelling in The Witcher 3 is complete without mentioning its already-infamous Family Matters questline. It's already been written about a bunch, so I won't talk about it too much, since I want to get into a cooler bit later on.

Basically, this is a quest where a local warlord asks you to find his lost wife and child. Which escalates into a local warlord who asks you to bring back the wife and child who fled his abuse. Which escalates into finding a wife and child who fled and became ensnared in powerful, dangerous local magic.

It's not far in. It's the first major chapter. If you care at all about storytelling in video games, YOU MUST PLAY THIS SECTION. Do it on the easiest difficulty setting if you need to. (The Witcher 3 has some balance issues. It's too hard early on and too easy later.)

This section takes a ton of weird plot threads that seem unconnected, ties them all together effortlessly, throws in some stunning set pieces along the way, and ramps up to an excruciating ending full of impossible choices. It's really good.

After that, there's a looong chapter in the city of Novigrad that is fun, but a bit overlong. It also occasionally throws in piles of dead women for cheap shock value, which is hacky. (This is a point where I agree with the Tropes vs Women videos.) It's my least favorite section, but it still has a lot of good stuff.

Then you're on the Isle of Megavikings (sorry, Skellige), which has some very cool, involved quests full of epic combat, punching-oriented politics, and painfully slow boats.

Then the main character, Geralt, is reunited with his basically-adopted-daughter, Ciri. This is where the coolest part (to me) starts. First, a few words about women in The Witcher.

Shut up, Newman. Nobody will ever love you.
Sorceresses and Goddesses.

The Witcher's most interesting characters are all women. The more recent books the game is based on focus on the women (Ciri and Yennefer, mainly). Even in The Witcher 3, there are multiple scenes where the women are doing the planning while Geralt shuffles around nervously nearby.

Gender politics arguments are not usually the morass I choose to get bogged down in. If you want to dig into these discussions, this Kotaku article is a reasonable breakdown.

All this brings me (finally) to the thing I loved most about the game: The relationship between the hero, Geralt, and his ward and surrogate daughter, Ciri.

My Favorite Thing About the Witcher 3.

Ciri is your standard fantasy Mysterious Power, Destined To Do Great Things. The first part of the game is Geralt trying to find her. The second part is him protecting her and helping her do the Big Fantasy Thing she needs to do.

Here's a key point. For all your running around and questing and gwent-playing, Geralt is not the main character in Witcher 3. He is a secondary character in Ciri's story.

Forget Fighting. How Good a Dad Are You?

So at the end, Ciri does a Big Thing. I think the game could have done a better job explaining what she was doing and why, but that would be adding more content to an already overstuffed game. The important thing is that this event is what the hours and hours of running around, confusion, and carnage has led to. Her thing. You aren't even present for it.

But you DO matter. Remember, you are Ciri's mentor. For the final stretch of the game, Ciri comes to you for support and guidance. The way you support her is vitally important. It determines whether she completes and survives doing the Big Thing.

All of the things you say and do that make a difference don't seem to be that important, but they are, in fact, vital. A few offhand words you don't think twice about can have an enormous effect on someone else, and it's not always fair. (You know. Like in real life.) All of the most important decisions in the game seem like False Choices.

False Choices?

Role-playing games, including my own, have a lot of what are sometimes called false choices. These are points when you make a decision or express your opinion, but your choices don't have a concrete effect on gameplay.

I don't believe false choices don't make a difference. In fact, they are hugely important. By asking the player to mentally engage and form an opinion about what is happening in the game, you are directly shaping the player's experience.

Remember, video games are just tools we use to affect our brains. The only important thing about a game is how our brain perceives it. Any choice, even a false choice, affects our perception of the game. All choices matter, even if they don't affect your stats.

The difference with The Witcher 3 is that all of the most important decisions are hidden in plain sight. They seem like false choices, but they directly change the ending. Your words have enormous importance to your child, but they seem irrelevant to you. It's exactly like ...

As a bonus, here is a lifetime's worth of nightmare fuel.
Being a Parent.

I have two kids. It has been endlessly frustrating to me how bad a job pop culture, especially video games, does depicting this fundamental human experience.

The Witcher 3 is the first game I've ever played that really engages my parent brain. When Ciri came to me for advice, my experience raising my own daughters had an affect on what I chose.

Yes, it can be unfair. You can think you're doing or saying the right thing, and it all falls apart. Welcome to parenthood.

I think this is cool and unique, and I wanted to make sure it didn't pass without comment. It's a shame it all happens so late in the game, because it's really well-crafted.

A Few Odds and Ends.

The Witcher 3 contains a card game called gwent, and yes, it is as addictive as you've heard. However, I don't think it would work out well in real life. The computer game has absolute control over the cards you can possibly own at any point. A real-life designer doesn't have that ability.

The Witcher 3 is mostly an open world game, and it shares the sins so many open world games have: A needlessly fiddly crafting system. Lots of meaningless encounters and collectibles clogging up the world. Too much time spent looting giant piles of boxes, one at a time, each of which contains something useless. Honestly, stick to the main questline and side quests as much as you can.

I enjoyed the combat. Invest in the spell that lets you charm bad guys. It makes many fights easy and hilarious.

The speed at which this game can go from light-hearted whimsy to full-on Game of Thrones never failed to surprise me.

I want Keira Metz to be in every video game I ever play again ever. I want Tetris to be nothing but little falling Keira Metzes.

Apparently, rumor has it that The Witcher 3 also depicts a sex scene atop a stuffed unicorn. This is exactly the sort of needless immaturity that keeps video games from flourishing as an art form. The Witcher 3, your mother and I are very disappointed in you.

Finally, no discussion of this game would be complete without a link to Conan O'Brien's terrific Clueless Gamer segment.

Summertime Saga Free Download

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The CollectorVision Phoenix - An FPGA Console Behind The Times?

The ColecoVision has a very driven fan community.  I did not own one and really do not share the love that those who do or did have, but nonetheless it is a classic gaming system that has new products and peripherals released for it.  The idea of recreating the Coleco in a modern, updated console, has long been talked about.  Currently, no less than three different groups have announced some kind of FPGA-based Coleco.  One of those project, called the CollectorVision Phoenix, is now accepting funding on kickstarter.  Let's look into the Phoenix's campaign and features and I will explain why I think you should give this FPGA console a pass.
Read more »

2019. március 27., szerda

Warlord Blitzkrieg Infantry

                                             Warlord Pioneers romping through the bunny fur

2019. március 26., kedd

Forza Horizon 4 - Tips & Tricks | Pro-GamersArena.

As we probably are aware that Forza Horizon 4 is out now for the individuals who pre-ordered the upgraded version of the game, and it'll be out in full for everybody on PC and Xbox one week from now. So in this Forza Horizon 4 control, we'll be strolling you through the entire rundown of fundamental tips and tricks which you have to know going into the game. What's more, let me disclose to you Forza Horizon 4 is right now the best open world racer game made in these couple of years.

Forza Horizon 4 Tips & Tricks :

How to Unlock Fast Travel Anywhere in Forza Horizon 4.

Driving anyplace in Forza Horizon 4 is gigantic measures of fun as you get the chance to see the excellent open world, incredible taking care of and lovely autos, at times you simply need to get some place in a moment, deserting all the mission that is going on. 

Ideal from the beginning of the game you can quickly make a trip to occasions and different spots of intrigue you've found for a cost (except if you've discovered the majority of the quick travel sheets, at that point it's free), yet to quick travel totally anyplace, you have got some work to do. 

Picture of location of Fairlawn Manor 
With the end goal to open the capacity to movement quick anyplace in Forza Horizon 4, you have to buy a reasonably costly home that is toward the south of Edinburgh. 

Fairlawn Manor will cost you like 2,000,000 credits, which means you most likely wouldn't get it until you've made a not too bad scratch into the game. Yet at the same time it merits doing , as it empowers you to movement quick completely anyplace on the guide, or, in other words. Particularly once you've discovered all the quick travel sheets so it turns out to be allowed to utilize. Purchasing Fairlawn Manor additionally grants you with 10 Super Wheelspins, or, in other words, and a Silver Top Hat for the individuals who get a kick out of the chance to dress their symbol up in style. 

How to Download DLC Cars in Forza Horizon 4.

In the event that you've acquired a unique release of Forza Horizon 4, or on the off chance that you claim the auto go for game, at that point you may consider how to get your hands on a portion of those superb elite DLC vehicles, similar to the James Bond autos. To get to a rundown of DLC autos in Forza Horizon 4, you'll right off the bat need to make a beeline for either the primary Festival Site amidst the guide, or a House. 

With the end goal to buy the autos, first you need a houses and they are not difficult to establish, you simply need to continue seeking them on maps while driving around, and once you've discovered a House, you'll at that point have the capacity to buy it utilizing CR (despite the fact that they're normally entirely costly, which means you presumably wouldn't purchase until you've made an OK gouge into the game.). Either visit the Festival Site in Forza Horizon 4, or visit a house you've acquired, and you'll have the capacity to see a rundown of all the accessible DLC autos that you can download.

There's one thing you have to remember that while the vast majority of the DLC autos in Forza Horizon 4 are accessible for nothing once you've acquired their comparing development packs, some will cost you CR to get. These are typically the more first class autos, similar to the James Bond Aston Martin DB10, in which case you'll need to get out on the streets and procure some CR through races and different occasions. 

This may be the finish of our initial Forza Horizon 4 guide for the time being, however there's bounty more to cover on the game presently. We'll be refreshing this guide at a later date, when we reveal any extra subtle elements in the game.

Till then keep sharing and tell your friends too, to "ENTER THE PRO-BROS ARENA"

Android Jetpack WorkManager Stable Release

Posted by Sumir Kataria, Software Engineering Lead & Jisha Abubaker, Product Manager

Simplify how you manage background work with WorkManager

Today, we're happy to announce the release of Android Jetpack WorkManager 1.0 Stable. We want to thank so many of you in our dev community who have given us feedback and logged bugs along the way - we've gotten here thanks to your help!

When we looked at the top problems faced by developers, we saw that doing background processing reliably and in a battery-friendly manner was a huge challenge. This meant that periodically fetching fresh content or uploading your logs was complex. Different versions of Android provided different tools for the job, each with their own API quirks. For example, listening for network or storage availability and automatically retrying your tasks involved a lot of work.

Our answer to these challenges was WorkManager. We introduced a preview of the Android Jetpack WorkManager library at Google I/O 2018 and have since iterated on it with additional features and bug fixes thanks to your valuable input.

The goal of WorkManager is to make background operations easy for you. WorkManager takes into account constraints like battery-optimization, storage, or network availability, and it only runs its tasks when the appropriate conditions are met. It also knows when to retry or reschedule your work--even if your device or app restarts.

We believe WorkManager is a friendly, approachable API that can take care of one of the most complex parts of Android for you so you can focus on the code that makes your app unique.

WorkManager Highlights

Here are some key features of WorkManager:

  • Lets you set constraints, such as network status or charge state, on when the task runs
  • Supports asynchronous one-off and periodic tasks
  • Supports chained tasks with input & output
  • Ensures task execution, even if the app or device restarts
  • Supports Android 4.0+ (API 14+)

Watch and read below to learn when and how to use WorkManager to simplify managing background work in your apps:

When to use WorkManager

WorkManager is best suited for tasks that can be deferred, but are still expected to run even if the application or device restarts (for example, syncing data periodically with a backend service and uploading logs or analytics data).

For tasks like sending an instant message that are required to run immediately or for tasks that are not required to run after the app exits, take a look at our background processing guide to learn which solution meets your needs.

How to use WorkManager

To get started with the WorkManager API, add the WorkManager dependency available on Google's Maven repository in Java or Kotlin to your application's build.gradle file:

dependencies {     def work_version = 1.0.0      // Java     implementation "android.arch.work:work-runtime:$work_version"      // Kotlin KTX + coroutines     implementation "android.arch.work:work-runtime-ktx:$work_version"   }

Now, simply subclass a Worker and implement your background work with doWork() and enqueue it with WorkManager.

class MyWorker(ctx: Context, params: WorkerParameters)   : Worker(ctx, params) {   override fun doWork(): Result {     //do the work you want done in the background here     return Result.success()   } }  // optionally, add constraints like power, network availability val constraints: Constraints = Constraints.Builder()      .setRequiresCharging(true)                 .setRequiredNetworkType(NetworkType.CONNECTED)                 .build()  val myWork = OneTimeWorkRequestBuilder()                 .setConstraints(constraints).build() 

WorkManager will now take care of running your task when it detects that your device is charging and the network is available.

Why use WorkManager

Backward compatibility

WorkManager will leverage the right scheduling API under the hood: it uses JobScheduler API on Android 6.0+ (API 23+) and a combination of AlarmManager and BroadcastReceiver on previous versions.

It also seeks to ensure the best possible behavior so that it complies with system optimizations introduced in newer Android API versions to maximize battery and enforce good app behavior.

For example, WorkManager will schedule background work during the maintenance window for Android 6.0+ (API 23+) devices when the system is in Doze mode.

Reliable scheduling

With WorkManager, you can easily add constraints like network availability or charging status. Your work will run when the constraints are met and automatically retried if they fail while running. For example, if your task requires network to be available, the task will be stopped when network is no longer available and retried later.

You can also monitor work status and retrieve work result using LiveData. This allows your UI to be notified when your task is completed.

In the event that your work fails, you can control how your work is retried by configuring how backoff is handled.

WorkManager is also able to reschedule your work, using a record of your work in its local database, if an application or device restart occurs.

Control over how your work is run

We understand that each app has unique needs, and so do your tasks--even within the same app. WorkManager provides a simple yet highly flexible API surface to help configure your work and how it is run.

Take advantage of one-off scheduling with OneTimeWorkRequest or recurrent scheduling with PeriodicWorkRequest.

You can also chain your one time work requests to run in order or in parallel. If any work in the chain fails, WorkManager seeks to ensure that the remaining chain of work will not run. Read more about chaining work requests here.

If you require more flexibility over how WorkManager parallelizes and manages work, check out our advanced threading guide.

What developers have to say

redBus, the largest online bus ticketing platform, shares their experience using WorkManager to simplify how they collect user feedback in their Android app:

"Feedback is critical to redBus as we expand into other countries. It often happens that a user gives critical feedback about a functionality within the redBus app but when the app tries to upload the feedback to backend servers, there might not be enough network coverage or battery.
WorkManager has simplified the way redBus app delivers information to it's backend servers. WorkManager library's capability to handle parameters like network connectivity, battery and use appropriate handlers like AlarmManager or JobScheduler has enabled us to concentrate on building business logics and offloading execution complexity to WorkManager."

- Dinesh Shanmugam

Android Lead, redBus.in

Get started with WorkManager

Check out our getting started guide and hands-on codelab to start using the WorkManager library for your background task needs.

We appreciate your feedback, including features you like and features you would like to see.

If you find a bug or issue, feel free to file an issue.

Mapgen4: Beta

I put mapgen4 on hold a few weeks ago because I was having some seemingly random unreproducible freezes, where it would still calculate the map updates but it wouldn't draw them. I had tried everything (or so I thought), gotten frustrated, and taken a break. I often find that I need to take a break from something, and then when I get back to it, I figure out the problem. During this break I've been "productively procrastinating", working on several other things that I've wanted to do, including map generation on a sphere, a procedural face generator, improving touch support on many of my pages, and improving my tower defense pathfinding page. I ended up also experimenting with a better interface for my mouse-drag code, a recursive renderer in Vue.js, and a D3 + Vue.js experiment in which Vue keeps track of dependencies for D3.

Mapgen4's style takes inspiration from hand drawn fantasy maps

It's time to get back to work on mapgen4.

Within 10 minutes I had written a test environment to try to trigger the bug. It didn't. But the test environment in combination with moving the sliders around triggered the bug reliably. There were 2 sliders out of 27 that would cause the symptoms I was dreading. But in making the problem reproducible, I had made it much easier to find the problem. Within another 10 minutes I had fixed it. Yay!!

I believe I have fixed the bug, but it's possible there's another bug hiding in there.

Why was I able to find this now but not earlier?

  1. I was frustrated earlier. After taking a break, I'm calm. Being frustrated makes it harder for me to figure things out.
  2. I was looking in the wrong place. I was convinced it was a problem with my multithreading (in part because multithreading is such a common source of bugs), but it wasn't.
  3. By taking a break, my brain generated new hypotheses in the background. At some point, maybe a week ago, a thought came to me: there's some weird behavior with rivers. When I came back to this project, I discovered that the weird behavior was linked to the bug. The problem is that occasionally, no rivers are large enough to be drawn, and my code tries to draw 0 rivers. This seems to mess up the graphics state. I fixed it by only drawing if the number of rivers was greater than 0.

I'm posting this in part to remind myself to take more breaks and to get frustrated less.

I can now get back to implementing the remaining features. Yay!

Go play with the mapgen4 beta! If you run into a bug, let me know!