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.

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.

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.

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.

 

What’s Going On?

This blog is mainly about gaming. It’s also my dear hobby and it always tells something also about me. So I dedicate this blog post to describing what has been going on lately in my life. I still try to write here as frequently as possible. It just seems that I don’t right now have so much time for video games. But I do have played a bit of Skyrim. Well, I have played it for about six and a half hours. I also started working again. I was unemployed for just about three weeks. So I got my next job almost instantly. It’s been keeping me busy but at least I don’t have to work on weekends.

There are lots of games available today. I chose my next game to be Skyrim. If you haven’t played it or if you are considering whether to get your hands on it, I can describe it a bit here. It might first seem that this game is some kind of an action game. That’s not completely true. I would compare to the first Deus Ex. It combines action and roleplaying elements cleverly. It’s not turn based but the game play is strongly depending on things like developing your character. Your character develops as you do different things and gather the actual experience. In the beginning of the game you get to choose your characters class and of course you have to modify the look and feel of your character visually and of course you have to give the character a good name that you can relate to.

There are many skills in Skyrim that you can develop. There’s too many for me to start telling something about them. Let’s just say there are maybe hundreds of them. There is also some magic skills that you can learn and use. You have to choose do you want to battle with two handed weapons, one handed weapons using also a shield or maybe you want to use ranged weapons like a bow. You can carry a limited amount of equipment with you. If the limit is reached your characters get slow. You can save your game any time you want and you can even use one quick save slot.

To this day I find this game interesting. It isn’t the newest game around. And the version I am playing is for PS4 so it is a HD remake. I already had this game for PS3 and Xbox 360 but I bought this latest remake so I could enjoy a bit better graphics. It was, again, in sale so I decided to buy it. Well, I also ordered one very interesting game at same time. It was actually Tetris for NES. So I made again a small purchase that had, again, very interesting games in it.

Maybe that is all for now. I hope I don’t get too tired and get to spend also time playing more video games as I do have free time sometimes.

Some Nice Pick-ups from Clearance

I found an interesting offer from Scandinavian Web Store. The store was Discshop. They ship to Finland. I don’t actually know if they ship to other countries. There was an e-mail in my Outlooks inbox. It got me interested. There was a text written in large font, in Finnish, but it actually promised that behind it I would find many discounts of games and movies. The prices were promised to start from as low as one euro.

So, I followed the link. I found some very good games. I also ordered the TV series Silicon Valley and it was its third season. If you don”t know this series I can tell you that it is describing a situation in a big tech company and it describes the life of the firms CEO. Mike Judge is one person that is behind the series. And he was also responsible for the well-known animation series, Beavis and Butthead. So I paid 1 euro for this whole season. Imagine that, like Nas said in the song “If I ruled the world”.

I also purchased some other items. These were physical copies. That didn’t bother me at all. I bought Resident Evil VII for 2 euros. It isn’t such an old game. When it shipped I ahd a long period of time as I had to install this game. It came with three DVD discs. So the installation as a process was time consuming. I didn’t have to download the content but my DVD drive got a bit warm during this installation operation (that rhymes 🙂 ).

The shipping was three euros so I decided to buy some other items also that were in sale. So I ordered Devil May Cry 5 for PC, again, and it cost 2 euros. I also bought Crysis 2 for Xbox 360 and Street Fighter V and also Street Fighter – 30th Anniversary Collection. Finally they weren’t able to deliver that last mentioned game and I am going to get a refund from it. My orders total price was 19 euros. So I got four games and one season of television series.

This is my latest purchase. DVD is a bit old format. I don’t know if I continue to watch DVDs for long time. I just got a 4K 55 inch television. It might be a good idea to buy a 4K Blu-ray device that could bring me a better looking and sharper screen. It costs about 200 euros. Luckily it just might fit in my budget and also physically under my new tv.

Some Good and Recently Released Rally Games

I started playing WRC 9 at end of last year. So it was December 2020. I had just got a new PC. This was the first game I bought. I had heard about some earlier WRC games. Let me say that this is definitely a series of games and not only one game. But I heard that one game in this series is very bad and you should not buy it. I thought that maybe it was only one bad game. You shouldn’t judge the whole series with one game.

So I read a review of WRC 9 as players often do before they buy a game. WRC 9 received a good grade. I think it was 8 out of 10. So I decided to buy it. It was a good decision. I really enjoyed the game.

I had earlier already played Dirt Rally 2.0. I was very excited about it when it was released back in 2019. I bought it just some days after it was released. I was confident that it would offer me good time. It promised to bring you a good driving experience even if you play, as I do, with only game pad instead of a driving wheel and pedals. I don’t play with wheel and pedals. I haven’t really ever got in to it. It would be a more realistic experience but I just can’t seem to learn so much of it for me to make the transition. I have actually played with game pad since I first started playing the first Gran Turismo and a bit after it Colin McRae Rally 2.0.

The latest rally game I purchased was WRC 8 for PS4. I found it in sale from a supermarket. It’s nowadays somewhat rare to find games from super markets but I made a find. It’s price was about half the price it was originally. I found it to be a very good rally game also.

So these are some latest rally games that I’ve played. They all offer a certain and good feel of driving. WRC 8 and 9 are a bit more playable and Dirt Rally 2.0 offfers a bit more realistic feel. Of course you can tweak the settings and make the game more difficult if you wish to. I am not going in to detail with this post. Dirt Rally 2.0 is designed by Codemasters. WRC is a bit younger series of rally games. Codemasters has delivered us some very good titles in the history of rally games. You probably remember Colin McRae Rally. I wrote recently about it and…you probably guessed it…it is my alltime favorite game.

So if you are looking for a good rally game here are some recommendations. We didn’t get so deep in this text. I just don’t really know how to approach this subject. I can see how developers’s algortithms work in here. At least I can figure out how the feel of driving is getting simulated. So basically your computer reads what buttons you press in which time and defines where your car is positioned and so on…it’s very complex. But my knowledge as a programmer and player, also, bring me to the point where I can actually see what goes on under the hood so to say.

All of these games are definitely more like driving simulations instead of arcade driving games that have more play ability inside. If you want to know more about games like these keep following me and you can definitely have some experience of driving a real racing or rally car. It would definitely help you. I really think there is no right or wrong. This is just some of my thinking. And…I believe the main designer that was behind the first Dirt Rally was a real expert in his field. He had a deep knowledge of games and cars.

Tools for Building Your Game

Do you want to know how to actually make a game? Do you have an idea? Let me tell you what it is about and what skills you must learn. You might already have a friend or two that are talented in for example doing graphics or making music with personal computer. Why wouldn’t you get to understand how to make your game? And wouldn’t it be fun even if you wouldn’t actually end up releasing a game?

We will start with 3D modeling. There is this method to make a 3D featured game. You will have to make all the objects that the player encounters and also all surroundings and so on. If you want to make a game that has only 2D graphics that’s ok. But in this blog post we are dealing with 3D environment. So for making animations and 3D models you have to learn to use Blender. Or one of your friends has to. You probably need also skills in programming OpenGL which is based on C++. SO you need to know programming also to “make things click”. you have to have a way for the player to interact. So you need input from player. This is also made possible through an interface that has to be programmed. Making a game isn’t actually all programming but it isn’t all creative thinking also.

You don’t have to make your game with C++. You have a wide variety of different programming languages to choose from. You can make games with Java. I have been fiddling around with SWING. It is quite easy to make a game with a GUI but no graphics. You can make for example a role playing game with a deep plot. There are also some game engines for you to choose from (in Java). Some of them are engines like LITIENGINE and LWJGL – Lightweight Java Game Library. You can find more information about them … again … from your favorite search engine. (Or I might write about them some day). Android is also build with Java. So you need to learn Java if you wish to make a game for a mobile device that runs Java.

What about Python? You might have learned basics of programming from some course for example with it. Python is very good for many purposes. You can make games with Python. Then you would maybe want to learn about Pygame. There is also a funny library for Python for making games that have ASCII graphics (and only ASCII graphics).

You can choose C and C++ and then you are again going to the direction of using OpenGL for so many things. Have you ever made websites? Then you must be familiar with things like HTML, CSS and JavaScript. This is one way for you to make a game also. You can even use a library like Phaser that is based on JavaScript. You can also make your game with C#. You can also make something out of SQL or databases.

There are also some other ways to make a game that I haven’t yet mentioned here. There is basically tools that are built for making games. So they act like software that you can code and design your game with. Some of these tools are Game Maker Studio, Stencyl and Unity.

We have dealt with programming and 3D modeling. But you need also something else. You need graphics or to say it more precisely you need textures. Textures form the surface to your 3D models so they will look like they were actual objects in actual real world. Or that is their goal since a clever player always recognizes that he or she is playing a game and it’s never a real life situation. But, you need textures, right? Your tools for accomplishing this are free tools like GIMP and/or Paint.net and actual paid software application Photoshop. These tools are powerful and you have to learn to use them if you wish to make a game.

Some graphics can be made from sprites. So animation needs many still pictures that finally form the desired animation. But let’s think that we are building a game with 3D environment so we will stick to using Blender for the purpose.

Okay. What about music? What about sound effects? A good game has a dedicated soundtrack, right? You can make your own music or you can try to contact some independent artists. You can find these artists from SoundCloud or if you can speak in Finnish or at least in English you can try to talk to some artists in Mikseri which is a Finnish platform for releasing songs as mp3s on internet. But those are your options, basically. And music you can also find from YouTube. Try asking from some artist you dig.

You can find lots of sound effects online. You can try Freesound.org for example. Sound effects might be hard to make. It helps if you have a good quality condenser mick. These come nowadays with USB connection and they cost about from forty euros to several thousands. I would myself prefer a good and cheap mic for testing to record something. You can get creative with this. Slice an orange maybe and record that sound. You need to handle the audio clip. So you need skills in using an audio editor like Audacity or any other audio editor.

If you really want to make your own music to be played on the background you need to master some DAW. There are free DAWs, like LMMs, and ones you have to pay to use, like FL Studio or Renoise. There might be free to use demo versions that have some limitations. Some free DAWs I actually haven’t tried to this day are Pro Tools First, Ohm Studio, Cubase LE and Ableton Live Lite. I make my music with FL Studio.

You probably need some instruments. And I mean “virtual instruments”. There are lots of free VST instruments and effects. Some tools come with VST plugins and you can also buy them if you really need. A MIDI keyboard is a good thing to have. So you can make all the melodies with your virtual instruments. It doesn’t hurt if you have samples or if you have a friend that can play some guitar so you have all the diversity that is needed.

You will also need some gear. If you want to record vocals while you are listening to your instrumental at the same time you need headphones. Want to know why? Your voice starts to circulate if you don’t use head phones and you basically don’t want that to happen. You might also want to use monitor speakers. I have spent under 1000 euros for my studio, well if you leave the computer out…But you don’t actually need a super fast computer for making music. You can use your parents desktop really well. Just something that runs your audio software and has some space for your music. And you can buy for example a licence for OneDrive pretty cheaply so you would have 1 terabytes of space.

The last thing, I promise this is last in this long long blog post is about big data. What the f has big data to do with gaming, you might ask. It has every effing to do with today’s gaming. You ever think about how much data is moving in mobile activity all the time. There is also data to move in games. This can be something about how you make your choices in the game or what kind of weather happens to be or what time of the day it is. All this makes games very realsitic. But you know what? It makes them more boring. This is purely my opinion. But keep in your mind that there is a lot going on inside the game when you play it.

 

NBA 2K21 Played With Switch Lite

It’s been a while. I first stumbled on NBA 2K as I was playing 2K14 on PS4. I later bought 2K18. I liked the first mentioned more. But now it’s early 2021 and it’s time for me to tell you about what I have been doing during the week or so. I can tell you already that I have been thinking about writing my next post for maybe two days already. I’ve had some ideas for the post but for me it is the most natural to talk, or write, about stuff I do or what are my hobbies or activities. So, keep reading.

Nintendo Switch Lite is a handheld, and only handheld, gaming console that you can play Nintendo Switch games with, if they are playable in the portable mode. It is attracting because it costs “only” 210 to 230 euros when the regular model of Switch is about 330 euros. I finally decided to buy one. I haven’t owned, ever, a handheld console. So I never had PSP or PS Vita or even Game Boy, which is probably the most popular handheld in here where I live. I had some doubts about how would the controls feel, would the screen be big enough (it’s 5,5 inches) and what games would be available. I really didn’t need a device that would be hooked to a television.

I had some reasons against and some reasons for getting this product and I made my decision. It was a bit hard to think about what games to buy. I had to have a game or two. You might already know that I’m not a Nintendo type of guy. I know Sega and PlayStation much better with not underestimating how playing PC has effected me while I have grown up to be an adult that is still playing video games and knows his retro stuff like his own house.

I decided to skip Mario and Zelda as the first games. I didn’t want to take a risk. I decided to buy 2K21. I was already in way or another going to buy it so why wouldn’t I buy it for Switch Lite. I wanted some more games so I decided to also buy a cartridge (is that what you call these things that look like over sized memory cards, maybe it is) that included Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII remake. I haven’t played FFVIII so much so there was something new for me also. I have completed FFVII once as a kid as I played it with my old PlayStation.

But let’s talk about the latest basketball and NBA game a bit. I think I have only scratched it’s surface as I have spent some hours playing it. It is the NBA game that it has been for already years. It stands out as a great sports game and there are many modes you can play in. I just started MyCareer mode and created a new player. Controls are fine. I can do whatever I have to to compete against the computer. The game might be a bit harder than the earlier ones I have played. But it’s a great game all in all.

I have also some critique about Switch Lite. The screen is far from Full HD. The resolution seems to be 1280×720. Switch was released in 2017 so the hardware isn’t the most newest. The screen is although touch screen which makes it easier to use. The battery lasts for 4 hours. This has been alright for me. But after all when considering what handheld consoles there are available right now in the markets this is a very good and also very cheap opportunity for a player like me that wants to get into handhelds and also Nintendos games a bit more. So I can definitely recommend this for a gamer to buy.

 

What Is Evercade?

Do you like handheld game consoles? Do you play retro games? If you answered yes to these questions you might find Evercade interesting. It has been in the markets already for some time. I haven’t really got into it but I think I am somewhat interested in it so I decided to gather some information and write a blog post about it. Here we go!

We have seen many forays on handheld retro game consoles. They are marketed by saying that they include tens or hundreds of classic games. I have also seen some do-it-yourself projects that have been made with Raspberry Pi. Evercade is a bit different. It offers games in a form of cartridge that has many games, like ten games or so (it actually varies a bit). So you can buy more games.

Let’s talk about some features. It is possible to connect Evercade to television with HDMI connection. Evercade scales th picture to HD resolution when connected to a television. It’s battery is charged through USB-to-micro-USB cable. There is a place for headphones and it is a mini-plug-connection. There is no Bluetooth connectivity. You can see in the “Featured image” of this post how the controls are positioned. Controls include also trigger buttons on left and right side of the device. The size of the screen is 4,3 inches. It is promised that Evercades battery will last four hours maximally. And one more thing about the features. The price of the Premium Pack is, here where I live, about 110 euros. On the Wikipedia it is said that the price is about “£80/$100”.

I think this product is interesting. I don’t know if I am going to buy it. I have made lately a purcase that I will now only tell that about it that it was a handheld game console. So I am not so interested in buying another new console. Also I am not going to buy any new game consoles to be connected to our television. My living room has right now so many consoles that I would have to think about where to put them and how to accurately display them. So I’m basically running out of room.

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