Some Thoughts After Beating Max Payne

I finally had time to beat Max Payne. This is the first game in the series which consists of three games. I don’t know yet if I am going to play Max Payne 2 – The Fall of Max Payne or if I am going to try to play the game all over again with an increased difficulty level. After you complete the game in one of two easier difficulty levels you unlock these harder difficulty levels. All difficulty levels from easy to hard are “Fugitive”, “Hard-Boiled”, “Dead on Arrival” and “New York Minute”.

There was a kind of a problem right at the end of this game. This was the only time I had to look for a clue from a walk through that I found online. Actually that walk through was a YouTube video. I am not going to spoil the ending in any way if you are also interested in this game. This game was released for multiple gaming systems including PC, Xbox and PS2. I am not sure if there are some other ports. I prefer Xbox version since it gives you a nice feel of controlling and you can also save anytime you want. In PS2 version of this game there is only an automatic saving that really pisses the player off many times as the game is saved in a situation that makes it impossible to continue playing. This feature has everything to do with the fact that PS2 doesn’t natively have a hard disk.

I completed the game in “Fugitive” mode. This is the easiest difficulty level. I found out that I didn’t remember all the details that were in the plot. The story is simple but it is fun to follow. The world that Max Payne is placed in is very realistic or naturalistic in a certain way that also describes some urban scenery. There are guns, violence and drugs as well as deep and even satanistic clubs in which the action takes place in this game.

The game is very enjoyable. There is lots of action. The game owes much of its success to action and sci-fi movies like those directed by John Woo and Matrix. You get to view the world from 3rd person view. There are plenty of weapons. Shotgun is a nice weapon but it is very slow to reload. Then there are two types of hand guns. There are also some sub machine guns, a sniper rifle, grenades and an automatic shotgun which is a very powerful weapon. There is a limited amount of ammo. You get to use pain killers to increase your level of health. You have also an option to slow down time. There are two ways. You can first activate this bullet time effect and move to any direction or you can jump to the side as the time slows down. This can be very effective and it gives you more time to aim.

Graphics are very nice. Sound acting is somewhat confident. If you think some games that have a low quality of voice acting, like the first Resident Evil released in 1996, Max Payne does a way better job. The fact that Max loses his family in the beginning of the game gives lots of motivation for the player to progress in the game. You are on a mission. You have to survive in a cold world.

I don’t want to give Max Payne a score. It was something revolutionary back in 2001 when it was released. Today it is still relevant as a video game. It was also the game that made Remedy Entertainment famous. If you are looking for a retro shooter that isn’t as realistic and serious as today’s ultra realistic shooting games you can definitely pick up Max Payne. I can definitely recommend it. There is also lots of replay value. I might even play it through again with increased difficulty level. And don’t forget that this game has also two sequels.

Setting Up C++ Programming Environment in Windows 10 Is a Pain

Yesterday I was excited and ready to start getting to programming with C++. I thought that it would be nice to learn and to refresh my memory. I have some years ago completed a programming basics course in C++. The idea of having an executable that could be run on a wide range of devices was the idea that was so fascinating to me. I use Windows 10 a lot. So I decided that it would be easiest to just install some IDE and also a compiler.

I was so wrong with my decision. I tried to install Cygwin. During the installation you would have to select all the components that you definitely need for C++ development. There are hundreds of them. If you would like to install all of them that would take days to download and install. So that basically wasn’t an option.

I have been around Java from 2010. I am very familiar with setting up programming environment for it. It is just way easier than with C++. I wanted to code in C++. I just think there are so many options if you learn and use this programming language. What was my solution?

While I was going through the material I found online I figured that it might be easier if I would start with Linux instead of keep hitting my forehead to Windows 10. I know that Microsoft has been trying to make it a bit easier to use Linux’s software on Windows. That however wasn’t the solution for me. So I swithched to my laptop that has a dualboot install of Windows 10 and Ubuntu.

I had already Visual Studio Code installed. All I had to do was to install the extension inside VS Code. That was almost it. I had to look up how to run build inside the IDE but that wasn’t a hard thing to do. So I got to programming quickly.

It was my goal to just write something that would work and refresh my memory on the programming language. As I got my programming environment to work I got to the actual programming. I had to look up some tips on how to present text and read it in online. I am serious as I say that any programming experience in any language makes it way easier to switch to a language that you aren’t already familiar.

C++ is used widely and still in 2022 for programming games and other software. Aside it being a tough to install in Windows it really is a dynamic programming language. There basically aren’t many limitations in what it can be used for. Even websites and desktop applications with a GUI can be build.

What I build yesterday was just a tiny application. Actually it is a personality test with a lot of humourous edges on it. You answer in five questions which give you points for a type of a person you are. There are three types. The personality type that you are is the one that gets most points based on your answers. Yes. And the types are (translated since the application is in Finnish) “a talented model citizen”, “an alcoholic” and “loser”. So you are one of these. I know, there aren’t much of a choice.

Anyways, I had fun all of the about three hours I spend developing this funny or stupid app.  I had fun. It was nice. The program managed to fit into about 150 lines of code. So you can imagine that it wasn’t so complex. It had some basic text that was read in and also printed out. It used different variable types, some loops and decision making with if-else structures and that was basically it.

If you would like to program with C++ yourself I highly recommend using a computer that has Linux installed. I also like Visual Studio Code which is a free text editor or even an IDE (which stands for Integrated Development Environment).

Silent Hill 2 Remake

So there is a new remake of Silent Hill 2 in the makings. I was thinking that in this post I wouldn’t go so deeply into what is coming for us gamers but I thought I should write something I feel about this series of survival horror magnifiency that Silent Hill has delivered and what is my relationship with it.

My first memories are about the first game of this series. I think I never owned the game. I did play a short demo of it. I liked it. Later I have played it but I never completely finished it. The latest connections between me and Silent Hill are made by playing PS3. I own the HD collection and also Silent Hill Homecoming. I had Downpour but I decided some years back to sell it. I also have Silent Hill 3 for PS2.

There is always a comparison between Silent Hill and Resident Evil. Both of them are survival horror games. They do differ a lot. While Resident Evil offers a constant feel of anxiety, Silent Hill does take you deeper into characters and how they feel and how the story keeps forming. I wouldn’t like to say that Silent Hill is in some way better or worse. Instead I would like to think that they are just different games. And they are good series of games all in all.

My history with Resident Evil is a lot closer. I started with Resident Evil 2 on PS1. I have completed also RE 1, RE 3 and RE 5. I almost completed RE Revelations and I am talking about the first in the series of two games. So I have some experience but I am not the master that has completed every game and every game in the whole world. There are lots of games in these series’s.

Silent Hill 2 is definitely a legendary game. Currently we know that it will be released for PS5 and PC. There will be no Xbox or Switch versions. There has been also some conversation about the game’s system requirements. They are going to be high. What is there to be for us? I think the time will show us. I am waiting to see something more out of this game.

SteamOS – An Alternative to Windows

For a long period of time Windows has dominated the scene of playing games with a PC. There is always an alternative and that is Linux. If you have played video games on your personal computer you have most likely stumbled on Steam. It is Valve’s, yes, the company that brought Half-Life to us, brilliant piece of software turned as a game shop application for buying and installing and also maintaining your library of PC games.

There are of course other ways to get your favorite games delivered to you. I have to mention Good Old Games or GOG.com. Some of you might still be buying physical copies of games. You know, those optical discs. They might be CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays or even 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs. That is if you even have some sort of an optical drive in your personal computer.

Windows was my choice when I bought my desktop computer almost two years ago. I thought that for the way I use my PC it would be perfect. I have to mention that if you don’t get Windows on the system you are buying you are going to have to pay a lot to get it. I just checked the price of just the operating system Windows 11 and it was 145 euros. That all is just for the operating system.

Linux on the other side is free. It is also open source. What this means is that anyone can participate in making Linux better. I find this kind of comparison between Linux and Windows to be very interesting. In my current job I have had the pleasure to work a bit with PowerShell. This is a deep topic and I am going to just scratch its surface a bit. But let’s say that Linux is open and Windows is closed for what it comes to modifying the code that lies beneath the surface of the operating system.

But what about SteamOS? I can tell you that it is a Linux based operating system. It is free. And it has Steam installed on it. But what is that? I can already hear you talking about how Windows games aren’t compatible with Linux? Well, actually, now they are. Do you know what is “wine”? Let me, again, explain this a bit  further.

Wine is a tool that basically let’s you run software applications that were meant to be launched and run on Windows on Linux. This involves a lot of fiddling with settings and probably some deeper understanding about how software is commonly run on any platform or operating system. But the main point is that it indeed is possible to work with a game or application this way.

Now, when I made my decision of what is going to be my personal computers operating system, I thought a bit how am I going to use the computer. I wanted a machine that could be able to produce some documents so having office tools was important. I also wanted to be able to program on it. This actually works fine in both Linux and Windows. I am also a hobbyist musician as you may recall so it was important that my DAW would work and also that all my VST instruments and effects would be available. And last but not least, as I had a powerful device already, I wanted to be able to play latest PC games on this computer.

What was my choice? It was Windows. If I would have had to install and buy my operating system separately this would have meant that I would have had to buy a Windows license for 145 euros. The alternative would have been to install some Linux distro. Since SteamOS is currently free why not download it? It supports all of the games right?

Valve has had some success as it has brought a working market place and also a place for your gaming library for you the gamer. If you think about also Steam Deck you can clearly understand what is going on right here. Steam Deck is a very good and practical handheld gaming device. And it supports also Steam. I have been using Steam since I got my PC and that was about two years ago.

But would I go and trade my current and working system to SteamOS? I have to say that I am not right now yet ready for it. I am too concerned that I won’t have an opportunity to use my computer to other matters that aren’t about playing games. But I can say it is tempting. I have thought about testing SteamOS and maybe I will install it on some older PC someday.

What the Heck is MAME (and Why Should I Care)?

You might remember video games like they were in the 1980s or 1990s or even earlier. Games were mainly played in arcades. You had a device that looked like a large cabinet that had on one side a large screen and some controls like joystick and some buttons. You might have some other controls also, like a wheel and pedals or maybe a light gun that you could point to the screen. I mean, who doesn’t recognize a character like Pacman or a game as familiar to you as Pong. Do you know Asteroids? These all were first playable back in the days in arcades.

If you are a young person you probably haven’t been to a real arcade. This experience however left a permanent mark in my memories. It might have been the pizza restaurant that had a Pacman game in it. It might have been the supermarket that had Street Fighter II in it. It might have been one of those gas stations our family visited as we were driving to country side to meet the rest of the family. It definitely happened when I was in a realm actual arcade playing some Mortal Kombat with some friends. As a kid from the 80s I couldn’t have missed this.

Even if you have never been in an arcade you can still find some really nice games to play that were originally made to be played in an arcade. We actually have an open source application called MAME that is short from “Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator”. You can install it to a Linux or Windows PC. For you to play a game you also need a rom file. As you can expect I cannot post a link here to any rom file because of these legal issues. But you can look up some videos about MAME from YouTube or you can also search for games to see what kind of games it is possible to play on MAME.

There are problems if you really want to play games with an emulator like this. Capcom released some time ago a Home Arcade console that featured 16 games and some controls for two players. It can be connected to a display with HDMI. I am actually a bit reflective because there are so few commercial products available. And MAME could be a good personal project for someone looking to build something out of a basic PC with a custom made controller interface. Imagine if you had a gaming cabinet somewhere i n your hoime that you could play several of these games originally made for gaming arcades. That would be cool!

As time has progressed we have seen the rise of home gaming consoles taking the main role in our living rooms. We are getting more and more hardware that is meant to be placed in our apartments. If you are into emulators why not try also MAME. I am definitely going to get to this a bit more. I remember so many wonderful games from my past. It might be a good time to consider buying some more controllers that are capable of bringing the experience for you. Consider a joystick for fighting games, a racing wheel for driving or maybe even a light gun for shooting. Just remember this thing about light guns – they don’t work with modern displays so be careful not to mix these technical things.

You can definitely try to search for more content on this topic. I found good information from Google and also from YouTube. I think Bing or some other search engine can provide you also with some articles. I mentioned some titles in this post. There are so many games that you can play on MAME that  you have to go and see for yourself for the gems. So go ahead. Maybe you find something that you haven’t played before and that you really like.

What to Think About Game Collections?

I have mixed thoughts and feelings about game collections released on modern gaming systems. These collections try as hard as they can to bring some retro consoles most impressive games to consoles like PS3 or PC or even some newer ones like PS5. I own many game collections. In the featured image of this blog post there is a Dreamcast collection for PC and Mega Drive collection for PS3. Dreamcast collection has four games which are Sega Bass Fishing, Sonic Adventure DX, Crazy Taxi and Space Channel 5 Part 2. The list of games in Mega Drive collection has over 40 titles. Some of the games included are Sonic The Hedgehog 1, 2 and 3, Streets of Rage 1, 2 and 3, Ecco The Dolphin, Golden Axe series and Phantasy Star I to IV just to mention some of them.

How much would you pay for this kind of a collection of games that have been released on some earlier retro gaming system? Is it fair to sell them for the price of a completely new and unreleased game? Are these collections a good way to get deeper into a gaming system? I have to say that I didn’t pay the full price of these two collections. I bought both of them from sale. I remember getting my Dreamcast Collection for PC for about 10 euros and this Mega Drive Collection for PS3 was about 20 euros. I wouldn’t have paid 60 euros to have one of these even if it were some years ago.

Why would I make my decisions the way I do in this matter? I think there is a point in getting to know your gaming consoles games may they be retro or new. I like to think that every system has its own strengths and weaknesses. Mega Drive is great for 2D platform and shooting games and Dreamcast is capable of bringing you the experience of early 3D games of the end of the 90s. I think you have to get into the system you play these games on. That’s what makes it interesting for me and this is true for especially retro games.

There are limitations in gaming systems that were released in the 1980s but you might still have the motivation to play some Commodore 64 games to have some nostalgic feelings. Of course it has its limitations. After all it is an old system. But that same limitation becomes an advantage when thinking about what game designers had to face and how where they able to get around these technical limitations. The design process and the ways and skills in how to design games has progressed. It is also not so odd to find a new game, released last year or something like that, released for older gaming system.

It is not also common that all of your games in your full gaming library can be actually even played at all. As a game hobbyist you have to think about what games you have, or what games you are going to acquire, and how can you play them. Do you use emulators? Do you buy all the games as physical copies? What systems you have and what systems do you want to have in the future?

So, as a conclusion to this blog post, I think there is some sense in re-releasing old retro games as a collection to a newer system. They might be even quite playable. This is not, in my opinion, a proper way to sell games although and the price would have to be a bit lower than for a new game. There are many ways you can play your retro games. Original systems is just a one way. There are also consoles like Evercade and we have definitely seen mini consoles of Mega Drive, NES and SNES and there might be some new releases in the future also.

New 2 TB SSD for PC

I have a small SSD, it has 256 GB of space and I also currently have a HDD with 500 GB of space. While the space that modern games take is all the time increasing I decided to get some more space. I think also I should have thought about this issue before I bought my PC. I bought it a year ago. If you are thinking about buying a new PC I can say that you propably need a large SSD to store all your games.

I finally decided to upgrade my PC with a new SSD that has 2TB of space. IT wasn’t cheap. IT cost almost 200 euros. But I wanted to make this investment so that I could play also the latest PC games. I have a good PC to play these games with so why not make the upgrade.

One of my favorite games on PC is Dirt Rally 2.0. It takes almost 130 GB of space. So one game can take almost 200 GB of space. IT makes me think about if 2 TB is also enough. Would you need even a bigger SSD? That’s when you start to think about your gaming budget. This 2 TB SSD cost about 200 euro. There were larger SSDs of this same model but the price would be 380 euros for 4 TB and 780 for 8 TB. If I would like to build a computer of my dreams I maybe would put some more money into this but for now 2 TB must be where I draw the line.

It would be nice to purchase the latest hardware but it would be finally a huge investment of money. If you think about how much would CPU and GPU cost and what other parts would you need the cost would be enormous. And it would cost way more than you would spend for a new gaming console like PS5 or Xbox Series S/X.

I bought my PC a year ago for just under 800 euros. I had to make some compromises. I couldn’t buy such a PC that would be perfrect but this purchase I was actually very comfortable with. I use PC for many other things also than for gaming. I use it to program and make music also and those activities don’t require so much from the hardware.

I am about to replace my 500 GB HDD with this new 2TB SSD very soon. I hope everything goes nicely and I get to install some games. Thanks again for reading. It is also nice that there is a sale on Steam that begins tomorrow so maybe I also pick up some new PC games.

What to Expect from Alan Wake 2

Remedy made it’s way to many gamer’s hearths with Max Payne trilogy. One good game by this company also is Alan Wake that was released in 2010 for Xbox 360 and PC. I managed to purchase this game for PC and it was some sort of collectors edition. I remember I bought it, as I have a habit to do, from clearance. It didn’t cost so much and I was very happy as this release came with some bonuses like soundtrack of the game and stickers and some fictive post cards that were supposedly sent from the location the game took place. I also bought for much less a used game for Xbox 360. I have also played this game through.

It is a good game. I enjoyed it. So it’s not surprising that Remedy has announced that it is working on a sequel. While survival horror keeps being popular the gamer’s are waiting for this new game now. Only a few months ago Alan Wake Remastered was released. So the product is a bit hyped already. There isn’t a release day announced yet. It might take until year 2023 for it to make its way to game shops and then to the hands of paying customers.

I have played many Remedy’s games and Max Payne one and two are my favorite ones. Alan Wake itself is something a bit different. While Max Payne brought you a shooting experience with “bullet time” and all this action and also it had a scheme inside it. And what makes me a fan of this game company is that it’s coming from Finland that happens to be my home country also.

Alan Wake is somewhat a horror game. A big part of the game is about using your flash light and surviving in this forest type of environment that reminds a bit of the forests here in Finland. The main character is a writer. You have to survive and get rid of these enemies that keep hunting you. These monsters hide in shadows and you can slow them down with some light. It took me over an hour to play it through. It was about two years ago that I finished Alan Wake. It would’ve been possible to play it again with a harder difficulty level or try to collect all items that are hidden in the game.

All in all Alan Wake is a steady and fresh brand of Remedy. You have to wait a bit more to see some game play video but there is a trailer somewhere in YouTube. I have heard some players talk about the new Alan Wake game and how it definitely needed a sequel. It took over ten years. We have to wait a bit to see exactly what kind of a game will it be. Will it be like the first game or will Remedy take to be more like traditional survival horror game like Silent Hill or Resident Evil.

Some Thoughts About Diablo II: Resurrected

The newest Diablo game was released last Thursday. It is a debate about if these latest issues they’ve had in Blizzard concerning sexual harassment and bad working culture are affecting the actual sales of this game. What must be true is that this hasn’t affected on the quality and design of Diablo II: Resurrected. It is your own opinion if you decide to not to buy the game because of this. I also don’t have anything to say about if this is going to help the matter some way.

I actually bought this game in advance. I did it accidentally. The game was released at 6 PM and I made the payment maybe fifteen minutes before that. The price was the same so it didn’t matter so much. There would have been different versions of the release. I decided to go with the cheapest one.

This game is definitely a remake. It isn’t a new game. That doesn’t mean it is a bad game. I love to get into Diablo II again and even more so as there are some huge improvements. I am playing this game with Xbox Series S. Diablo II was originally designed for PC so you would naturally play with mouse and keyboard. Moving the player is a bit clumsy but you get used to it fast.

There are definitely a lot of differences to Diablo III when these two games are compared. I think this makes it interesting to see in the future what kind of a game is Diablo IV going to be. It definitely will be a completely new game. It is still not announced when it will be released. There is a sense also that there is something more to come since Resurrected is only a remake. Although Diablo IV might be released as late as 2024. We don’t know that yet. But you definitely get a picture that there is something more to come and Resurrected is only the beginning.

As my character I chose to create a Paladin. I played with this character class when I played original Diablo II back in the beginning of 2000s. That was 20 years ago. I can’t believe it has been so long of a time. This new remake is an addition to series of remakes of my favorite games that I played back in the days. We’ve had a remake of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Final Fantasy VII, Spyro The Dragon and also many others. So it is a nice addition.

I like this game. It reminds me of this great title. I have currently this Paladin character with a level of 15. You can connect and move your character online with Battle dot net but you have to have an Xbox Live subscription which I currently don’t have. Luckily you have also an option to only save your character locally in offline mode. You will like this game if you like Diablo II. Although it isn’t a new game. If you are expecting to see some new shiny things this isn’t for you. If Diablo II isn’t yet familiar to you I can recommend this game for you also but maybe with a small reservation.

Waiting for Diablo II Resurrected

In the middle of all retro games I have had a chance to play I have also been waiting eagerly for the next purchase I have planned for my shiny and new Xbox Series S. And it is going to be after all Diablo II – Resurrected. How have I prepared for what there is to come? Of course I got my copy of Diablo III and installed it again to my newest personal computer. It’s been a while since I played this one the last time. It was actually released back in 2012.

Do you remember Diablo III? This game got the whole internet stuck world wide. It is required as you install the game for you to connect to the server for a moment. This is actually true. I am not telling lies here. There were actually so much weight on the whole internet that it made it a bit slow for us for a moment. Although after a while things were normal again. This happened at the moment when game was released and this didn’t repeat.

After I installed the game I noticed that I would also need to login to my Battle.net account. It still held my hero that I had previously played as. I am aware that it is a bit different to play this game with a controller but not so much different after all. I decided to start a new game and this time I chose to be a Wizard.

I played for some hours and got my player to level up to all most to level 20. After that I increased the difficulty level up from normal to first hard and then to expert. I found out that I am not so good at playing this game as I could be. I do enjoy casting different spells and trying to kill as many monsters as I can to gain more experience points. This game is still lots of fun. I have also bought the t-shirt when it still was available from one Finnish webshop. And I remember travelling to another city to get it. That was probably back in 2013 or so.

Why not introduce the game a bit for those of you that haven’t heard or played it? Diablo III is probably where you want to start if you want to get into some playing modern Diablo games. I don’t exactly know how Diablo II Resurrected will be. I haven’t yet played it. But here we will start from the third game of this series. So Diablo is an action role playing game. There is lots of things going on. The main activity is to kill monsters. Your health goes down when monsters hit you. Sometimes they hit you with some magic. There is different kinds of magic spells that you can use and also that your enemies in this fictive world can use. In earlier Diablo games you had quite strictly mana that you could use for your spells. This is a bit comlplivated in the third game. But you can for now think this power to be almost like mana. So you spend it on spells and it keeps coming back when time progresses (or you have to drink a mana potion or something like that).

There are different kinds of weapons and armor that keep your character to not to take so much damage. Better weapons give you better damage against monsters and other enemies. You can use a teleport to get back to the village. There you can heal yourself to your current maximum health and repair your weapons and armor. A big part of this game is searching through different maps and doing some kinds of tasks. There is a plot but it isn’t the main reason for someone to play this game a lot. There is a lot of fantasy involved. This is a role playing game after all. It takes it’s roots and it is considered to be (or so I heard a speaker at one years “Games Now!” lectures to say) three out of five (3/5) of a “roguelike”. Roguelike is just a term that is used of a game that reminds of an ancient role playing game that was actually named “Rogue”. Maybe that’s enough about these Games Now lectures and it might be a story for another post, maybe, some day.

If you like Blizzards games such as Warcraft and Starcraft which are real time strategy games you will definitely like Diablo games also. They rely a bit more on the combination of fantasy and action mixed with these role playing features. And when I am mentioning Blizzard I have to mention World of Warcraft. It is actually very dependent on online players as it is an online game. I am not after all such an expert nor have I even played it.

Anyways, let’s hope this new Diablo game would be a good one. It will be released next week. The actual release date is 23rd September. So I will get my hands on it the next Thursday. The graphics must be something to see. We are still waiting, of course, also for Diablo 4. And please don’t mind me posting this screenshot. It isn’t the sharpest of all the Diablo screenshots possible but it is a good one from a game nine years old.

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