The Smallest Xbox Ever Released

I’m looking at it. I like it. It’s the smallest Xbox that is to this day released. It’s almost as small as PS2 Slim was or is. What got me to buy this thing? Well, I had been thinking about buying a newer Xbox for a while. My thoughts were centered to Xbox One. But why would I buy it for 250 euros when with 310 euros I’ll get a newer Xbox?

There are some things you have to consider when thinking about buying this gaming device. It doesn’t give you 4K video output when playing games. It only goes as far as 1440p resolution which is still a lot better than Full HD. To make this point clearer you can think about PS4 which gives you 1080p resolution and 1080 pixels being the actual height of the display. So, to make this even more understandable, Full HD means a picture that is 1920 pixels wide and 1080 pixels tall.

With not going in deeper details about the sharpness of gaming displays we shall continue this quick explanation about what are my feelings towards Xbox Series S. That’s basically what this thing is called. Why is it called this way? I guess Microsoft wanted to give it some basic name to make it clear what kind of a device it is. There is also another new Xbox model that was recently released. It is called Xbox Series X.

The main difference between these models is that S doesn’t have an optical disk drive at all while X has. X has also this 4K gaming display supporting ability. X is also a bit more expensive. It costs about 520 euros. The situation globally has been  tough. There haven’t been many opportunities to buy this new console be it the S or the X. I am also very satisfied that I got mine so fast as I’ve heard that some people have been waiting for their console for as long as six months.

What more would I want to tell you about this new console? It has been working nicely. The first game I bought for it was Remedy’s Control. I also bought Halo 5 and a remake of Final Fantasy 8. I wasn’t actually thinking about sales but I found out that there was, and actually still is, going on a sale in Microsoft’s Xbox Store. Getting a fully digital gaming console with no physical play and installation disks made me consider about getting faster internet connection. My solution to this problem was to let the game that took about 42 gigabytes to download over the night. I’m still considering updating my connection because I  might need a faster one.

I like the controller. The layout is your typical Xbox controller layout. I am not going to argue about if it is better than PlayStation’s. It is enough said that they differ a bit from each other. The controller works with two AA batteries. I am also considering some other solution as I don’t want to keep changing the batteries to it all the time. I think there is at least a cable available. That would be a USB-C cable that is at least three meters long.

One thing you should really think about is that this thing only has a bit over 500 gigabytes of storage. So you can’t really install so many games to it. You can actually buy storage upgrades. I haven’t thought about this so much as I have only three games right now and I think that is a lot for starting the experience and getting to know the device.

I went and bought this thing. Right now I am really enjoying it. I am very proud of it. One thing that really pushed the purchase for me was that there were only a limited amount of these devices available and that the price was actually as low as it was. Right now I’m playing Control. I hope I will get to know more about Halo 5 soon.

Dreams of Making a Video Game

I woke up today a bit early. I put on my headphones and started listening music and browsing internet. The sun was rising. I just had to take this picture with my phone and share it with you. But let’s get to today’s subject. Have you always dreamed of making your own game? Well, I have.

It started with playing games as a kid. As I grew older I started to get a sense of what gaming really was. I wanted to make a game. I was also fascinated with designing websites. While I was studying in high school I started to think about my future and what I would want to study after it. I though a lot about trying to study something that required creativity. I was also a decent math student. Finally I decided to go for math and physics instead of studying art.

My life has been a one big trip. I finally got to studying computer science in 2010. Since I started I had a dream of some day developing a game or at least a nice looking dynamic website. Things didn’t actually go that way. After graduating I found out how hard it was to get a job in the field. However I did program a game. It was text based adventure game.

This wasn’t the kind of game I had dreamed of making. The game I imagined was graphical adventure game that had discussions, small puzzles, some kinds of graphics and lots of interactivity. I wanted to create something special. I lacked skills in creating graphics and programming.

The dream didn’t seem to disappear. I still have it. I know some programming but the task seems to be too difficult. I have tried to get into Python (PyGame), Java and JavaScript but it seems to be too hard for me to learn effectively. I don’t know what happens to this dream as the time goes forward all the time. I admit that it’s a bit sad.

So designing games hasn’t been the job that would fit me perfectly. But maybe that’s why you dream. You can imagine what you might some day achieve. Just remember that it’s hard work to learn something so deeply. And before you try your hand in programming just remember that it’s hard to get into. But if you are really talented just go ahead. I know some very talented programmers that have made it. And keep dreaming even if you achieve your goals. There are so many different ways for a person to develop himself or herself.

100th Blog Post

I would like to dedicate this post, as it’s the 100th, to describing the path I have went through with this blog so far. Maybe I’ll share some secrets about how I’ve been maintaining this blog or what kinds of strategies I’ve used. Who knows? Are there some secrets? I don’t want to answer that question directly. But keep reading.

This blog is my most recent. It is also the most popular blog I’ve ever have kept updating. My background is in writing lyrics for hiphop. That’s where I picked up writing. I have been writing lyrics since 2001. I have been writing blogs since 2008. I wrote posts for this blog for many years. I didn’t however write so frequently to it. I wrote shorter texts than I write today. So some progression in this mean has been going on.

For six years I was busy with studying my computer science degree. It was a Bachelor’s Degree. I had big dreams of becoming a well paid game developer. This dream hasn’t come true. I did graduate in 2016 but it was a pain in the butt to get a job that would fit my background. After about half a year I decided to try my hand in blogging again. This time I made deeper plans and decided to write one or two posts per week. I wrote that blog in Finnish. I kept writing this blog and it got some visitors. I also added commercials to it but it didn’t become profitable and I didn’t get any income from these advertisements. I had very few visitors compared to this blog that I’m currently writing.

So I got finally a job as a customer service person in a game shop. I worked there for six months. During that period I also wrote to the shops blog. My boss liked my style of writing so I wrote several posts to their website. I also got later another job. While I was working I picked a book from local library that described maintaining a blog. I never had a blog that would have been very successful. The idea was fascinating. It wasn’t all about the opportunity to earn some money but it was rather the opportunity and possibility to create something that might some day be my full time job.

So I read the book, I can’t remember right now what book it exactly was, and took a paper and pen and started designing this new blog. I wrote five articles in advance. This blog would already have some content. I started with a free web host but I moved to paid web host in 12/2020. It has been a fun time writing this blog. I have received comments. I have gained visitors and followers as I have been active in Instagram also. Right now I have almost 600 followers there.

I keep coming up with ideas for posts as I am living my regular life. I try my best to write at least a post per week or at least a post per two weeks. Sometimes I write more and sometimes more rarely. It is easy for me to come up with new ideas but I sometimes forget that I have already handled these topics in some earlier post.

What it comes to gaming I am thinking right now if I should buy Nintendo Game & Watch or one more of those original Xbox gaming consoles that I have already had two. I have made many new purchases that I haven’t had time to get into lately. I have bought many PS4 games as they have been lately on sale. I try to find time for gaming and also for this blog. I have also been thinking about ways to get some income from this site but right now I could say that writing this blog is still only a hobby for me.

How would you feel if there were ads on this website? What topics you would like to read about? Feel free to leave a comment.

About Memory

Memory is a huge part of how a computer or a gaming console operates. This blog post is my attempt to introduce to you how memory works and what kinds of memory is involved in different gaming devices. So there is basically some temporary memory that doesn’t store so much information. There is also larger memory that stores a lot of information but it isn’t used as frequently. There is also memory that has to be stored for a long time and memory that is used only for a short period of time.

This is basically how computer like systems work. They save data to memory, take user or some other input and make calculations depending on the data that they work with. They present something depending on what the user is doing. This creates the interactive part in video games.

Hard drives are the part of a gaming device that store everything that the game needs. A big part of this is saved games data. Some retro gaming consoles don’t have a hard drive. Hard drives were introduced to game consoles as Xbox was released. With for example the first PlayStation you had to get yourself an external memory card to save your game. Hard disks also store the data even if you turn off your game console.

Today it is common to have hard disks as large as 2 TB. The amount of space on hard disks has been increasing all the time. I remember a time when I bought a hard drive for my PC that had 15 GB. That PC had a 400 MHz processor. As you can figure the technology and performance of computers is advancing all the time. The data that is moving inside devices and also in different kinds of networks is getting larger. Also the size is getting smaller and you definitely can play games with handheld devices and also with your smart phone.

If you would like to get to know more about how computers operate I suggest you pick up a book about how micro processors work. I have some knowledge but I understand that my information isn’t so precise. So if you really want to dive in this topic just make a search in your favorite search engine and type in something like “micro processors free e-book pdf” or something like that. I know that there are many free resources for you to read.

 

Sine Mora EX – A Modern Space Shooter

I wrote a post some time ago about space shooters. I have played many nice shooters mainly on Mega Drive. So the thought about getting into a more recent game in this genre was interesting. Sine Mora EX is modernized side scrolling two dimensional flying and shooting game. Graphics are clearly today’s graphics, there are some modes to choose from, you can save the game and play with two players cooperatively.

I bought this game, again, from some sale a while ago. The price was very low. I think it was about ten euros. The game has been released in 2017. I checked how long would it take for an average player to get through this game and the website tells me that it takes about two and a half hours. I have played it now for five and a half hours. As I’m not a professional game player it takes some time for me to finish especially this type of game. The genre isn’t one that I would have lots of experience with. But things do get interesting as I delve deeper into what this game has to offer.

Basically your mission is to avoid ammunition that is shot at you and at the same time you have shoot your enemies before they kill you. You get, I think, randomly some updates to your weapon and more time and some other important updates. You can even get a shield for you plane. When you get hit you loose all your weapon upgrades that give your weapon more power and you can then collect them back to you if you are fast enough. There are also updates for your planes speed. Time can run out. You get more time when you kill enemies or get an update. When you get hit you lose also time. You have ten lives and when time finally runs out you lose one life and you have to start from the latest checkpoint.

The game is exciting. It may seem to be a bit repetitive as games in this genre might sometimes be. As I played this game today I spent many hours playing it. So it keeps you well captured while it still is a smaller and more of a casual game. It’s nice to play this type of game that doesn’t require so much work in getting into it and actually learning how to play it. It can be a nice introduction to this whole genre. I hope I have the time to learn to play this game a bit more. In overall this game is good and it delivers a nice shooting experience tweaked into a modern gaming experience.

Some changes we have seen – Gaming from 1984 to 2021

I am going to go through the most important changes that have happened inside gaming from my birthday to this day. Back in 1984 we had already NES in some gamer’s living rooms. This wasn’t the first gaming device that I ever played. That place was conquered by PC. Computer games in the 80s might have had black and white or eight color graphics. Some games might have had 16 colors from which the graphics would be presented. The resolution was much lower than what we are used to today.

For games’ sounds there was only this horrible noise that was produced by the computers own speaker. In the 90s it was possible to buy a sound card for your PC and some gaming consoles, like Mega Drive, offered a better quality of sound. We were still far from a CD quality of sound effects and background and theme music. The quality of sound progressed as more and more and better consoles became available and as the technology advanced.

Getting the input from player has progressed. From keyboards, joysticks and simple controllers to game pads like Dual Sense and Xbox Elite. We have seen the beginning of real virtual experience. If you compare the controller that is seen in the related picture to the latest Dual Shock you really can see the difference. When the NES controller has only axis buttons and four other buttons my Dual Shock 4 has way more buttons. You really cannot compare these two in the means of human engineering.

What else has progressed? Designing games has taken major steps forward. Consider for example how much games like Doom and Diablo have influenced almost all types of video games. Besides bringing more technical advancements these games brought us some improvements in pure game design. Many games today have taken influences from role playing games. These features include developing and choosing a role or abilities to develop inside the game. You can gather experience and rare items that are able to be gathered by the player.

We have also seen how social media and internet have both made an impact. Did you at some time go to LAN parties? Well, I did. Haven’t been in those kinds of happenings in a while and this is also the trend as connectivity has increased so that you can get online almost everywhere in the world. Also the size of computers, mobile phones and consoles has been getting smaller all the time.

So if you would travel back to 80s you would see a different world. I think today we are dealing with lots of devices and activities that require more and more these skills that can probably be called something like “digital skills”. These skills include using social media and even marketing and using your visibility in your own advance and in collaboration with your friends and people also that you work with. We are all connected together and there is huge amount of data moving in these networks all the time. As some of us have combined sport activities to the new digital world I think that the amount spent exercising has decreased in overall.

Time will show in what direction we are moving. It has become clear that skills with internet, mobile devices, laptop and desktop computers and different kinds of networks are required. And so are also skills in teaching and providing a decent support for the final users of this technology. Big data has already made it’s impact on games that are actually gathering all kinds of data from within the game as the player makes its moves and progresses in the game.

What’s going on with my professional life?

It had been a long time since I had wandered to our local library. That has everything to do with this still ongoing issue of Corona. For a long time libraries were closed or you could only go there to pick a book or two you had already booked. So yesterday, after I had finished my work day, I decided to go there. I found two books. One of them was a science fiction book. Other of these two was a book written in my native tongue that dealt management of media presence.

I was excited when I got home. I managed to read almost 80 pages. Today I have read about 30 pages more. On the cover this book is said to give a point of view to the field of media. This book is written in 2015. It’s not the newest book but I think it manages to give a reasonably good sense of the current situation in the field. I am very excited about this book although I don’t think it has given me new ideas to work out any business plans but it gives a nice perspective to what I have already witnessed as I have practical knowledge of social media and blogging.

If you think about this you can figure that things definitely have changed. There have been the transition from printed to online media just to mention one thing. I would like to tell you also something about what this has to do with me and my professional life or the way I am getting, so to say, food to my table. I was very interested in internet and gaming as a kid so it was natural for me to finally start studying information technology. Later I decided to get more into programming. My goal then was to get a job as a programmer.

That wouldn’t however be so easy. Two years after I had graduated from an university of applied sciences I finally got my first job. That had only a bit to do with my education. I started in a  position of a customer servant. I worked there for six months. After that I was unemployed, again, for a year. Then I got my chance to be a software advisor. I was on my way to gather even more working experience. I had failed my goal to be a software developer but I was also thinking ways to make a career of a different kind. At this time I also started writing this blog.

As I was working I got to understand what kind of a progress was going on as my employer, among many other companies, was moving to cloud based computing. This meant basically the transition in ways to work with tools that were provided by Google and Microsoft. So there were many transitions going on. And there still is. You cannot actually never get to say that things in this field would stay still.

Currently I am working in a webshop. My job is to insert the required information of a product to the database with a simple tool that has a simple user interface. I guess you really have to start somewhere. There were no positions available for me to begin my career in software engineering. However I am not so disappointed in this position. I am glad that I even have a job. You actually can never fully understand where you might be headed.

I am looking forward to learning more about our change as we move towards a more digital world. I enjoyed very much of the book I found from my local library. I am going to continue to work and keep active in social media and also keep writing this blog. Today’s life in work is very different from the one our parents entered back in the 70s or 80s. This topic has only a little to do with games but I wanted to bring this post to you the way I did. After all this is also a diary.

My Personal Relationship with PS4

I hadn’t thought about PlayStation 4 yet when a friend asked me a question – Do you know when is the new console actually getting released? That was probably back in 2013. Before that comment entered my mind I had been steadily working through titles available for PS3. I had played almost endless series of driving games like Need For Speed series and Dirt 1 and 3.

I had time and energy to play video games. Back then I wasn’t so interested, as you can figure, about retro games. They were only a slight curiosity I casually worked with using emulators on a PC. So I thought it would be nice to finally buy the latest PlayStation.

I actually made the purchase after I had just turned 30 years old in 2014. My budget was, back then, low, but I managed to save money to buy the device. I bought also my first PS4 game at the same time. It was Tomb Raider that was released back in 2013.

At first I had an ambitious idea of completing every game I got for PS4. It worked out only until I got like my fifth game or so. I managed to get through Tomb Raider and Call of Duty Ghosts. Games for PS4 were pricey at that time and there was only small selection. Many games were releases of old games released as HD remakes. So I had a new gaming console but there were only a handful of games.

Was it really worth it? I started to think about this. When I am writing this I think that this device had some really nice games. Some of my favorite games are NBA 2K14 and Dirt Rally. These two really stand out in the list of my favorite games for PS4. I just think there were many titles that I didn’t really get into so much. I guess it has also something to do about that I was back then already a bit over 30 years old.

It is said that when you are young you get more inspired by the music of that time. I think this goes also for video games. One year can be very significant for a nineteen-year-old but one year for a forty-year-old is not so big deal. So I was a bit older and had already got through experiences of the first PlayStation. I just think that PS4 never conquered my hearth like PS1 once did. This personal relationship made me think that it would be not a good idea to buy a new gaming console. So tot this day I haven’t found a reason to get a new console. I have a fresh PC that I can play also some new games.

After all there is an infinite amount of games that you can play. I think the games I am going to play don’t necessarily have to be the newest anymore and PS4 kind of ended my habit of playing the newest games released. PS4 is now not the newest gaming console anymore. It isn’t retro either. It is somewhere in between of retro and new. I think it’s time now for me to take some distance to this console and try to find some other games that I can enjoy. If you did enjoy PS4 or are still enjoying it that’s fine. I just think it lacked a personality and that’s why I have not played it or enjoyed playing it as much as I did PS3 and some older devices.

Stay Awhile and Listen – The Book About Blizzard Entertainment

I was searching for something new and fresh to read. I don’t remember exactly on what website was it that I found a book about Blizzard Entertainment that was recommended as a good read for a gaming fan. The words I used for this search might have been something like “good gaming books to read”. I used this phrase and made a search through Google and I immediately found a website that recommended about five books. Some of these were already familiar for me and some of them I had already read. But a book about Blizzard? That sure sounded interesting to me.

As I started to read this book, it was titled “Stay Awhile and Listen”, I first noticed that text was written with a large and somewhat loose font. I didn’t let it bother me and kept reading. This book managed to capture my attention very efficiently. It introduces the people that were actually behind games like WarCraft and Diablo. It describes how they got inspiration from games like Dune II and UFO – Enemy Unknown and from earlier role-playing-games, not so graphical rogue-likes, and also from Dungeons and Dragons.

Diablo was very different than those other role-playing-games that were released on PC in the 90s. It defined a whole new genre of games combining action and traditional role-playing elements. It focused also in gathering different kinds of items that could be weapons, armor, rings or amulets that had special attributes. There could be, for example, an axe that gave, once equipped, more strength and maybe more resistance to enemies spells to its user. At first Diablo was designed to be turn-based but eventually it was made to be real-time. It featured an ability to play with multiple players through internet. Back in 1996 that was something revolutionary.

There have been two sequels made for Diablo and there was a whole genre of these new kinds of role-playing-games that many of us gamers have had the joy to play. I wasn’t so excited about traditional role playing or Dungeons and Dragons. To me Diablo was about the first RPG that I played, ever. I remember it being released for PC and PlayStation. The game that brought me closer to enjoying RPGs was definitely Diablo II. I liked Diablo 3 also very much. WarCraft then made something out of the genre that was initiated by Dune II. This genre was called real-time-strategy. WarCraft made some improvements to Dune II.

Before releasing these legendary games the guys of Blizzard were involved in computer technology as programmers and visual artists. They were working in this field already. They had some other interests also. It is told in this book that they really much enjoyed playing games like Sega Mega Drives NHL 94. Back in the 90s they were very young and very talented. So the book describes also their other activities and tells something about how this team worked and who was responsible for visual look, animation and programming. This was an effort of the whole team so you couldn’t tell so much about which member was actually responsible of the whole game. It was more like about they working as a team and every ones effort was needed.

I can recommend this book for any fan of 90s video games and especially for a fan of WarCraft, Diablo or them both. It was actually for me a fast read and I read it in about two weeks. At least that’s a fast read for me. It wasn’t a pricey book. It cost me about 20 euros and I bought it from a Finnish web store. So you should definitely read this book.

Do You Necessarily Need A Television?

So the world championships for ice hockey this year begun last Friday. I have so far got to see two of Finland’s games. In the first game Finland took a victory against U.S.A. but at the moment we have lost to Kazakstan in a very tight game. Both of these games were real thrillers. Kazakstan had many players in their roster that are playing in KHL which consists of many teams from many countries including Russia and Finland.

This yearly tournament receives very much attention here. I am not so in to ice hockey but it’s hard to miss world championships because it’s such a big deal in here where I live. Although NHL is more popular in northern America. How this is relating to what I have as a subject in this blog post is that yesterday I was at my friends apartment and we decided to watch the game – Finland against U.S.A. My friend doesn’t have a television at all so we thought that we could watch it, you know, online somehow. That would have been possible but we encountered an issue about having to register for a certain account that required all of my friends contact details and also his bank account number. That was stupid in my opinion and we decided to head back to my place to watch the game from television that is connected to regular cable television.

This made it clear that in some cases you do need a television. Since we are still dealing with the corona virus it isn’t, I think, a very good idea to gather to some bar to watch ice hockey games. I don’t know if it’s already legal for this kind of gathering to take place but at least I personally think this is not possible. Last year the whole tournament was cancelled. And Finland won the championship two years ago.

I also know one person that I had a discussion with about not having a television at all. He only had a computer and he also had Nintendo Switch Lite. I have connected all of my retro and also my newer gaming consoles to a television. I also have a computer for playing games and I also have a Nintendo Switch Lite.

A television can be the center of the whole home of yours. There can be limitations. You might not just have room for such a device. Some people might even have reasons, maybe religious or in some other way ideal, for not to watch television at all. And why should everyone have a TV? As internet keeps getting faster and even more common it is nowadays possible to keep track of the most important events reading news online. Do we need a television in every home? Some people manage to survive without it.

 

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