Oct. 31st, 2014


[info]megpie71

Review - Queen's Quest: Tower of Darkness, Platinum Edition

Producers/Creators: Brave Giant Studio
Cost: 4 WildCoins per play
Game Genre: Hidden Object/Puzzle
Plot Genre: Fairytale/Fantasy

Game Play: The hidden object genre tends toward two extremes - either fiendishly difficult, or pathetically straightforward. This game is the latter. The hidden objects aren't particularly well hidden, the puzzles are largely solvable through brute force and ignorance (really guys, one sequence-themed puzzle per game is plenty - having one after another after another really takes the gilt off the gingerbread), and the collectable elements are less than apparent.

I should explain. The hidden object scenes are generally pretty simple to find everything (to the point where I frequently didn't need to use the hint at all, and I'd pretty much given up on this game and put my brain in a bucket after seeing the opening animation). The puzzle mini-games tend toward toward 6-component "do things in the correct sequence" types, which means you need a maximum of 15 attempts to solve things (at 1 attempt per second, this means you're finishing most of the puzzles before your 30 second wait time for skipping them is completed). About the only challenging part is the "collectables" mini-game, where you have to collect four different types of object (one for each zone of the game, not that anything really clarifies this for you) in order to furnish a "throne room" area.

Plot and Tropes: The player character is a queen who has married her handsome prince and is just about to get her little baby daughter blessed by the court wizard. There's an evil wizard, a steampunk-styled dragon, a kraken and a gryphon to battle. This is a fairy-tale themed fantasy so generic it's ridiculous.

It also has one of my LEAST favourite game plot tropes - the "you have to hurry" plot, with no actual time limitation. Seriously, designers, if your plot is telling me to rush to save the baby or the world or whatever, you need to actually find a way of injecting this urgency into the game play. Telling me "X will happen if you don't hurry" when I know full well I could walk away from the game (while leaving it running on my system) for an hour or two, or even a week, and nothing will advance until I get back... well, it loses all impact. I know I'm going to be able to complete the challenge in time, so having the villain repeatedly tell me I won't isn't really cutting it as a threat, or even a realistic plot device. Why not go with "you'll never stop my fiendish plan" instead? At least that has the advantage of being plot relevant.

Aside from that the plot is so linear you can clearly see the end from the beginning, and there aren't even any interesting twists or bends along the way. The resolution of the main plot is vastly unsatisfying, and really did not enthuse me to play the "bonus" chapter (during which you presumably work to resolve the biggest dangling plot thread).

Effects: Imagine the cheapest paper doll animation you've ever seen. This is the standard this game uses. Very pretty pictures from magazines, cut out and moved in rather jerky stop-motion fashion. To be honest, if you're going to use such good visuals and such poor animation, I'd prefer if the animation wasn't going to be played "straight", as this was.

There's voice overs which die out about a quarter of the way through the game, and they're never in synch with the actual mouth movements (which may have been an English-language localisation issue, but is still rather annoying to view). The maps are primitive, but then, they aren't really needed from one scene to the next.

The voice acting is okay, but it loses a lot from the poor quality of the animation. Again, if you're going to have very poor animation, the least that could be done with it is making it into a feature rather than a bug - put a lampshade on it, play around with the whole business.

Overall: I gave this game 2/10 for game play, 1/10 for plot, and 1/10 for effects. Very poor, positively enjoyed deleting it off my system.

This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/46486.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Oct. 30th, 2014


[info]megpie71

Vandals attack Sikh temple by spraying anti-Islamic slurs on walls

Found here on the ABC

As a Western Australian, I would like to take this opportunity to call on the Minister for Education to amend the religious education curriculum as follows:

Taking the following set of religions -

* Christianity
* Judaism
* Islam
* Hinduism
* Sikhism
* Buddhism

Cover the following topics:

* Key theological and doctrinal concepts (eg major deity/deities, major prophets/philosophers/theorists, major holidays and the story behind them)
* Key internal splits (for example, in Christianity you'd be looking the difference between Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant Christianity; in Judaism, between Reform and Orthodox Judaism; in Islam, the differences between the Sunni and the Shia; etc etc etc) and the reasons given for these splits.
* Worship practices past and present.
* Conversion and Exit practices (is it possible to convert to the religion; if so how; is it possible to leave the religion; if so how; what penalties exist for leaving the religion; etc)
* Places of worship, and iconography (How to spot a place of worship for $FAITH from the outside, if you're so daft you can't read the signs at the front gate).

Hopefully such changes to the curriculum would at least ensure future generations of bigoted nincompoops will be able to target the correct places of worship with their idiotic scrawl. This will prevent us all from being embarrassed by their combination of both bigotry and ignorance.

(One or the other of bigotry or ignorance I can handle. Both at once... well, there's something which needs addressing there).

EDITED 7.35am 30 OCT 2014 - post in haste, edit at leisure.

This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/46193.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Oct. 28th, 2014


[info]gainsborough

we need to hear this sometimes

"Most of my life has been spent trying to shrink myself. Trying to become smaller. Quieter. Less sensitive. Less opinionated. Less needy. Less me. Because I didn’t want to be a burden. I didn’t want to be too much or push people away. I wanted people to like me. I wanted to be cared for and valued. I wanted to be wanted. So for years, I sacrificed myself for the sake of making other people happy. And for years, I suffered. But I’m tired of suffering, and I’m done shrinking. It’s not my job to change who I am in order to become someone else’s idea of a worthwhile human being. I am worthwhile. Not because other people think I am, but because I exist, and therefore I matter. My thoughts matter. My feelings matter. My voice matters. And with or without anyone’s permission or approval, I will continue to be who I am and speak my truth. Even if it makes people angry. Even if it makes them uncomfortable. Even if they choose to leave. I refuse to shrink. I choose to take up space. I choose to honor my feelings. I choose to give myself permission to get my needs met. I choose to make self-care a priority. I choose me."

- Daniell Koepke

[info]megpie71

Why I Still Feel A Wee Bit Leery About The Civil War Plotline in the MCU

Okay, so Marvel have announced that CA3 is going to be "Civil War". Given I wrote out an 800-word plus screed about why I don't think the Civil War plotline would work in the MCU yesterday, my first thought here was "Curse you, Marvel Studios!".

So, here's the core reason why I didn't think it would work: the Civil War storyline in the comics was built on over thirty years of context wherein Tony Stark and Steve Rogers have a strong friendship. That was part of what helped make the Civil War storyline into the tragedy it was. We don't have that context in the MCU. Instead, the only context we have so far is Steve and Tony arguing fairly persistently all the way through "Avengers", and being shown as being pretty solidly coming from completely different perspectives all the way along. Yes, they manage to work together to fix the helicarrier and to fight the Chitauri, but we don't know how much of that is Steve and how much Tony - there are still hints of very deep ideological differences which aren't really explored in their discussion of Coulson's death. There are NO hints toward any further contact in any of the other films - no phone calls in Iron Man 3 or Captain America 2 (the nearest we get to the hint of a link is Tony Stark being targeted by the Insight helicarriers in CA2, but he would have been targeted by HYDRA because of his intelligence and his "loose cannon" attitude anyway, no matter whether or not he had a relationship with the Captain). We don't know what's going to be happening in Age of Ultron yet, but I suspect they're going to be arguing there, too - we certainly don't see any signs of them working together in the one trailer which has been released.

So the Civil War plotline as it was being used in the comics isn't going to be feasible, because there just isn't the emotional context for it.

This means the Civil War plotline has to be rethought, which I know is going to get a lot of the fanbois up in arms. Hey, Kevin Feige has actually said it isn't going to be like the Civil War plotline in the comics (for which I am devoutly thankful). Fortunately, they're handing it to the Russos, who have shown they can handle tricky material (Captain America 2 in the wrong hands could have been terrible - instead it worked brilliantly).

I suspect it's going to be building on the events of Captain America 2, and on official unease about and distrust of Steve Rogers as Captain America. After all, if you look at the storyline of CA2 from the outside, there's a LOT to be uneasy about. The man was declared a fugitive by a trusted bureaucrat and the head at the time of the agency he was working for; he vanished off the radar for two days, re-appears to assault another agent of the same agency, killing him (this is how they're going to push away Sitwell's murder by the Winter Soldier) and vanishes again[1]. The next day, he's responsible for a terrorist attack on a major government agency, massive property destruction and the effective destruction of the entire US intelligence community - and he's vanished off the map once more and is apparently being PROTECTED by other so-called superheroes! The HYDRA sympathisers (not the outright members; there was evidence in the wrap-up of CA2 they were being purged) in the government will be wanting his head.

(Let's make it clear here: at least part of the point of CA2 was that the aims of HYDRA, and of the Nazis, were always congruent with the aims of the upper echelons of any society - eternal glorification and privileging of their own, and suppression of dissent within the lower orders. This is why HYDRA was able to snuggle itself inside SHIELD - because the aims of SHIELD were essentially to preserve the status quo, and to suppress dissent within the lower orders. HYDRA wasn't a parasite inside SHIELD - it was a symbiote.)

Anything which happens in Age of Ultron will merely confirm the doubts of the doubters about the sanity and motivations of Steve Rogers.

So I suspect the Civil War will be run very much along the lines of "is this so-called Captain America a terrorist threat to America?" or "Has Cap gone crazy?" If the whole thing is run along those lines, I suspect the end of the Civil War plotline may wind up largely paralleling the "Nomad" storyline of the 1970s - Steve Rogers resigns the role of Captain America, and goes off to look for America and see whether he can find himself fitting in anywhere.

[1] In this version, the Winter Soldier's appearance and attack is written off as "the Winter Soldier was Barnes, his best friend! Obviously they set it up to throw off suspicion!" conspiracy stuff.

This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/45877.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

[info]megpie71

Chocolate Hazelnut Drink

(Because I like this one and want to share it with people).

Take a mug, and put in two generous teaspoons of Nutella or equivalent choc-hazelnut spread. Add milk (I use full cream milk, because if I'm going to have an indulgence, it's going to be an indulgence, godsdamnit!) to the point where it just covers the spread at the bottom of the mug (so your mug is going to be at most 1/4 full).

Stir until smooth. Add more cold milk to the halfway mark. Stir again until combined. Now fill the mug to the top and stir again. You'll probably have small lumps of chocolate-hazelnut spread here and there, and you'll almost certainly have some smears of it along the edges of the mug as well as all the stuff which was on the spoon which hasn't combined into things. Don't worry.

Put the mug into the microwave, and heat on high for 1 minute. Take it out and stir again - this time, stir until all the chocolate hazelnut spread on the spoon melts and dissolves into the milk.

Put the mug back into the microwave and heat on high for another minute. Stir again to combine, and drink. If you're really feeling indulgent, and have the appropriate bits and pieces, you can top it with whipped cream and maybe some drinking chocolate dusted on top, but it's lovely just the way it is now. Enjoy.

(If you don't have a microwave, you can probably make it on the stovetop, but you'll need to watch it like a hawk - milk tends to scorch easily.)

This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/45636.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Oct. 27th, 2014


[info]megpie71

Game Review: "Mysteries and Nightmares: Morgiana"

Game Genre: Hidden Object
Plot Genre: Fantasy
Producers/Creators: Wild Tangent Games, Little Gaming Company
Cost: 4 WildCoins to play (68c Australian based on 50 WildCoins for $8.50)

Gameplay: The "hidden object" genre of games tends toward two extremes of gameplay. On the one hand, there's the games where you're going to be led by the nose from plot point to plot point, with very clear instructions all along the way. On the other hand, there's the games where "what should I do next" is as obscure as all get-out, and where the gamer spends a lot of time clicking wildly on just about anything in frame in the optimistic hope of finding out what they should be doing now. "Mysteries and Nightmares: Morgiana" fits itself extremely firmly into the latter category.

You're given a couple of general hints on whether there's something you need to be doing in a particular scene in the gargoyles which support either side of your inventory tray - if their eyes are glowing, there's something you can do here. Trust me, you will NEED those gargoyle hints, because the actual "hint" hint itself is about as vague as a political promise from a candidate who is seeking broad-base support from a rather apathetic electorate[1]. The "map" function also proves helpful here - learn to love the map, you're going to be referring to it a lot.

Why are you going to be referring to the map a lot? Well, unlike other games of this type, if you're in a room where you can't do anything at the moment, clicking on the hint will merely get you the information either that you can't do anything at present, or you've completed all the tasks in that room. Given you get that information from the gargoyles, this is no help whatsoever (other games of this type will at least let the hint button point you backwards out of the room). On the map, however, you are able to discover that a room you entered about five, ten, or fifteen pages back has something you can complete (and it allows you to jump directly to that room, rather than walking there the long way) which will, hopefully, trigger other options elsewhere. Or at least let you complete a hidden object puzzle to find the mcguffin which will allow you to move on to the next plot point.

Your tasks and notes are kept in the notebook, accessible through clicking on your heroine's portrait in the upper left corner of the screen - the number below the portrait is the number of outstanding tasks you have waiting to be completed. As per genre rules, the resolution of one or more of these tasks is tied up together. Unlike other examples of this genre, you aren't able to access your previously completed tasks, or your notes on previous sections of the plot.

In the actual hidden object sections, there's a pleasing lack of the "disguise things as other things" visual trope which tends to bedevil some examples of the genre[2] - instead all the player has to contend with is the challenge of knowing what to look for. For example, when the list of objects says "bow", do they mean "bow as in Hawkeye or Green Arrow's weapon-of-choice (longbow)" or do they mean "bow as in loopy knot (bow tie/ribbon bow)"? This is a pretty common thing in the genre, and is (for me) the cause of at least some swearing when, after spending ages chasing down everything else on the list, I eventually click on a hint and get taken to something I've been looking right at, but know by a different name. This is basically the developers exploiting a bug (or possibly a feature) of the English language, and it's pretty genre-typical.

Plot and Tropes: Okay, we have an amnesiac heroine who has been captured from their home and dumped down in a decrepit castle and has to figure out who she is, what she's supposed to do, and how to get home. There are magical talking animals (well, one talking mouse), magical wands, and whole heaps of creepy statues, skeletons, and torn tapestries all over the place. The furniture doesn't talk, fortunately.

Essentially, it's a story which is about sisterhood and rivalry. The female characters are so generic they just about come plain wrapped (one dark haired, red-eyed, pale-skinned evil princess who wears dark red; one blonde-haired, blue-eyed, pale-skinned good ditto, wearing pink), there's only one masculine speaking role (the aforementioned talking mouse) and the resolution of this plot is rather hackneyed and hasty - it's as though the writers basically got told "we need a four hour storyline - no more, no less" and when they reached the four hour mark, it got chopped off short. It's a pity, in some ways, because there were some interesting plot hooks which could have yielded some fascinating developments had they been further examined (for example: we're told using magic sends the users insane; one of the things the player character is required to do on a regular basis is to use magic to achieve certain effects...).

Effects: There were some animated cut-scenes, and some reasonable voice acting, although the accent tended to wander around a bit (trying for English, occasionally drifting to northern USA). The voice actors at least did appear to be acting, rather than reciting things blankly off the page, so that was a nice change; also the CGI scenes didn't veer too far into the uncanny valley space.

Overall: It was interesting, but not that interesting, and the frustratingly opaque nature of the gameplay really did decrease my enjoyment of the game. Compared against other games of the genre, I'd give it three out of ten for gameplay, six out of ten for plot, and five out of ten for effects.


[1] You know the ones - "We may well do some unspecified thing at some unspecified time provided it doesn't annoy anyone too much".
[2] If you've ever played a hidden object game where the ruler or pencil you're supposed to find is disguised as part of a ceiling beam, you know sort of stuff I'm referrring to here.

This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/45366.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Oct. 23rd, 2014


[info]ladyofshadow

Update! a.k.a. Journal Entry of DOOM!

So it has been a while since I've posted. Here is a JOURNAL ENTRY OF DOOM to catch everyone up. I've been over on Facebook updating (easier and more people I know), but will attempt to do a journal entry every now and then. ;)   (had to fiddle with the html,so we'll see if this works)

Read more )

Oct. 24th, 2014


[info]megpie71

The Games I'm Playing Lately

When I bought this laptop (say "hi", Orac) it came with a program for "Wild Tangent Games" on it and some games pre-loaded. I was sorta interested, so I took a look, and it turned out to be quite rewarding.

For those not in the know, Wild Tangent are basically a "small games" (what the industry calls "casual games"[1]) publishing and distribution house. They provide marketing opportunities for small games, and offer them on a try-rent-buy basis to people like you and me who can't be arsed chasing things around Steam or Origin or whatever. They're the ones who introduced me to Bejewelled and Plants vs Zombies, so they're not all bad, and every week their little launch application updates with a new selection of games to choose from, as well as links to various MMO flash games out there on the web.

If you download a game from their "store", you get one free play (so you can decide whether or not you like it) and then subsequent plays are on a rental basis, paid for with "WildCoins" - you get 50 WildCoins for about $8.50 Australian, and a typical game use costs between 4 and 6 coins, usually about 5. Lately, they're offering the "buy for WildCoins" option as well - pay about 20 WildCoins, and you get to have the game for unlimited use. It probably isn't the best bargain for the developers, but for an unemployed person like me, it's pretty damn great.

Lately I've been downloading a lot of Hidden Object games. The basic thing about hidden object games is they're built around the old "find the objects listed below we've hidden in this picture" puzzles, and they're often quite challenging. There seem to be a few separate sub-genres - one in which you're participating in an interactive storyline (where one of the objects you're finding is going to be useful to you in overcoming the next set of puzzles you're going to be facing); another in which you're given a reward for finding the objects (points or money) and you "spend" your reward on improving a scenario (renovating a mansion, updating a farm, decorating a garden, updating a room etc); and a third where the object is basically just to complete all the puzzles and have done with it. I'm fondest of the "interactive storyline" games, because they're usually fairly interesting, and I've always been a plot junkie.

The thing I find about these games as well is they're generally pretty good for sitting down and ploughing through in one sustained burst (which means I can download an "interactive-storyline" hidden object game, and play it all through in one day) and they have (for me) very low re-playability (which means I can do that one burst as the "free try" play through, and then delete the game). If I have to split the game into a couple of play throughs (say if I start one in the evening after dinner but before I go to bed) then I'll usually get about half to three-quarters of the way through before I need to stop.

So this is how I'm doing most of my gaming these days - I download games from Wild Tangent, play them through, and then delete them off the hard drive.

Why am I stepping up to mention this, and starting to review these games? Well, blame the charming young fools from #gamergate for that. I'm female, I'm forty-three, and I've been playing one form or another of electronic game since I was about twelve. I have been an electronic game player for over thirty years now, and I'm annoyed at these nincompoops trying to claim MY identity as being either inferior to their own, or disclaiming it entirely, or trying to claim I stand with them. So I'm going to be looking at games with a mind to reviewing them in future, as a woman, as an older woman, and as a person who isn't socially permitted to claim the label of "gamer" without getting pilloried for it. Just so these little darlings can see they aren't the only fish in the pond, and that there's more to gaming than buying what's latest and greatest on the X-box or Playstation. Hey, if it helps some developers get an idea of what I'm looking for, and what does and doesn't work for people like me, all the better.

[1] I don't like the term "casual gamer" because of the implication it carries that someone who sinks multiple hours into playing Bejewelled or Chuzzles on the "infinite play" levels as part of their daily commuting routine, spends ages trying to get each level of a time management game completed to "gold" standard, and goes through a couple of different hidden object games every month across PC, console and smartphone platforms is somehow inherently not as committed to playing electronic games as someone who only sinks their hours into playing FPPPMSEU[2] on their console on Saturday nights. So I use "small games" instead - because they only ask for a small block of contiguous time, rather than the multi-hour chunks required by the larger games.
[2] First Person Perspective Pseudo-Military Shoot-'Em-Ups.

This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/45136.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Oct. 22nd, 2014


[info]gainsborough

100 prompts


pls i need stuff to do

Oct. 20th, 2014


[info]raisedbymoogles

Join me in embracing the pink.

Just signal-boosting this mini-essay.

Why G1 Arcee Still Matters

*points up* Why I love G1 Arcee above all others, and why I will never stop making female robot fancharacters.

September 2010

S M T W T F S
   1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930  

Tags

Powered by InsaneJournal