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.

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.

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.

 

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.

Working Hard, Concentrating, Getting Enough Sleep

For your information – that glass has Yerba Mate -tea inside it. So, it’s not beer. It’s tea.

I am going to write about a subject that is getting more important as you mature as an individual. I mean when you get to that age, say about 30? Or 35? Well, I’m right now 37. I am a full grown individual. A man. Within his deeply technologically and advanced cave.

When I was younger, say under 25 years old, I used to play concentrated for hours. At the same time I was missing out on some things. Like getting enough sleep. Also I dind’t pay attention to my concentration. I had a bad concentration skill. I couldn’t understand about it.

Concentration in gaming is about how accuirately you can perform your input from your keyboard or game pad. You can concentrate for a long time. Actually it is maybe 45 minutes. After that you start to make small mistakes. This can lead to a “rage quit” or some other form of frustration.

Try to keep that in mind. Remember to keep breaks and especially when you are learning a new game. Gaming is also mental as almost any human activity. And good mental performance is required when you compete.

Eating and sleeping are also important. You can work hard. You can practice. But remember…as there is time for practice there is also time for relaxation and sleep. You can really get something out of you but if you don’t recover from it mentally it’s not going to make things easy for you on a long run. I think you should have different kinds of activities. Moving around or going on a walk or even jogging is good for you.

And remember – eat good so you feel better. Sometimes it’s okay to grab a burger but don’t let it become a habit. When you are younger your mental performmance is better. So I have to work a bit because I am not a 25-year-old anymore. So these things become more important when you grow a bit. I have to also mention that I don’t even have a chance in professional eSports anymore. That’s because my motorical nervous system is basically too old. So I am not going to be the best but I can assure you that I am going to have as much fun as I wan…when I keep playing…so, keep gaming folks!

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.

The Ultimate Incompatibility (of Old Windows Games)

I have games. I mean, I have lots of games. Old games, new games, interesting games, rare games, big box games, err…PC games? Yes.  I have lots of PC games. How can you play old PC games? With a PC? Yes. But what is your operating system? What is your graphics card? Processor? Do you actually have today a SSD instead of HDD and does it really matter?

The point here is that you were, earlier, playing these games with a computer that had maybe Windows 98, Windows XP or MS-DOS. Now it is 2021. The standard in Windows is Windows 10. It was only while ago when Windows 7 lost its support from Microsoft. Hardware does evolve. Operating systems keep developing. There are many changes. PC is a strong standard but its weakness is that old games that you were able to play earlier don’t necessarily work anymore.

You can have an old PlayStation or NES. You can then play these games with this device. And the strength of consoles compared to PC is just that. They can deliver games and playing them is reliable. This might have something to do with the traditional mentality of computer gamers. It used to be a good thing that your PC was fast. So basically we are having games as physical copies lying around in corners. I have made tens or maybe even hundreds of purchases from flee markets. Many times the game finally ended up not working on my Windows 10.

One solution for this is setting up an old computer that is running some old operating system. I haven’t tried this trick. Some games are so popular that there are fan-made patches that enable you to play the game. If your game is compatible with DOS you can always download DOSBox. You can also try to run your games on some virtual machine that has the right operating system. Steam is full of old games that are available for purchase. They work. That’s what you pay for.

So operating systems change. So does the hardware. So drivers play a big role in this game of games. We are forced to update our devices. You have to buy a new phone in say two to three years. Computers might last a bit longer but you can’t play latest games with a pc that is five years old. At least if you don’t update it anyhow. This problem is also visible on PlayStation and even Xbox. Basically the problem is that some old games are just so good that some gamers still want to play them.

Why aren’t there better emulators for old PC games? And this applies most to Windows 98 and XP era. There would even be some commercially interesting ideas about this subject. Would you pay for a retro console or software that you could play your old retro style games?

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