Destiny of Jonathan: Maze of Salala

I have been thinking and also waiting to write about this game that has been under development now for several years. I have been involved in the development process with my good friend Antti Pulkkinen. I started working in this project back in 2014. Antti asked me to join and help him to get this game designed. He has had this idea of a role-playing 3D game. After some talk about the game we started to figure out what kinds of weapons and armor there would appear and how the story would be structured.

Back in 2014 I hadn’t even yet graduated and my studies as a software engineer were not finished. I saw these opportunities and they made me want to work in this project even more. From the first lines we discussed it was also clear that I would be also responsible for the music in this game. I also had the opportunity to develop the website. That’s basically my role in the designing of the game.

The game is released for PCs that have a Linux operating system. It costs 15 euros. If you want to buy the game you can register and then pay and download the game. I think this game gives something especially if you are into role-playing and adventure games and also if you are deeply into game design and programming. Antti has worked hard as he programmed this game. If you have any questions about the development process or anything related to programming you can find his email from our website: https://www.onegamecompany.fi

The game reflects our passion to how adventure and role-playing games were in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. We had also some skillful 3D modelers and graphic designers involved. There have been ideas for sequel or a series of sequels. I have been also busy with composing the music for these games. For music production I currently use FL Studio, a 32 key MIDI keyboard and a large library of different synthetic instruments and also samples. We looked for sound effects also from different websites and communities.

Diablo and Dungeon Siege series’s games were a big inspiration for us. We worked hard designing different kinds of features, mazes, puzzles, levels, discussions, characters and everything else we wanted to include in the game. We wanted it to have a clear and interesting plot and to give the main character some personality. From the beginning it was supposed to be a game that had some action involved in it. There are also many ways to develop the main character as the player progresses throughout the game. So it is an action RPG that has some characteristics of adventure games. Destiny of Jonathan was developed by our company One game company. This is our first serious game.

Collecting, Buying but not Playing

I am happy that I am currently employed. I work and I also have some freetime. Although I don’t have the amount of time I had as a teenager. I propably wouldn’t even want it to be that way anymore. I guess I have less time for playing today.

As I have less time for gaming I do have more income. That gets me to buy more collectable items, games, that I couldn’t afford some time ago. I am finding myself buying interesting, nostalgic and exciting games. Some of them, the retro ones, I have owned or played during my childhood. Some games just are plain intersting. I think I cannot fully explain this.

There seems be a lot of items for me to get to my hands. I might buy an interesting game and just leave it for a month or two and then get into playing it. I can picture myself buying even things like CRT television, light gun or another retro game console. Those are very interesting things inside my mind.

There are of course limitations. I don’t have so much room in my house. So, what’s next? Moving to a bigger house to collect more games, systems, televisions and what more? There gots to be a limit somewhere.

Instead of just spending all my time playing every retro title I have for two to three hours a day I am actually also finding myself in improving my personal skills. This is somewhat the fact even when I am playing something but I also am spending my free time for learning something new in programming, technology, making my own games and writing texts and making music. So there are lots of things going on and this is just one way that reflects me as an individual.

Everything depends on everything. As I keep spending more time alone or with my wife I find myself quite content in my current situation. I am a developing individual but of course I am not a software developer…at least not at this moment. But who knows what future just might bring!

What Have I Been Playing Recently

I realized yesterday that it has been already a bit over two weeks from my latest post to this blog. I have been busy with work, game designing and I have also met some friends. I have also played. Actually I have played a lot. I just haven’t had time to sit down and write about it.

Yesterday I also for the first time checked from Steam how many hours I have put in NBA 2K22. I am playing it with PC as you probably figured out from that last sentence where I mentioned Steam. I have played this game for 90 hours.  already described my progression in this game in the last post to this blog.

A while ago I stopped playing Gran Turismo 7. I played it maybe 40 hours. As you can figure I have played a lot this year already. After this I figured I should get into some driving games for PS4. I saw a nice discount so I bought Wreckfest and Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Remastered. I also got F1 2021.

Hot Pursuit is a remasterd version of the game that was released in 2010. There were also some NFS games published earlier and they were also called Hot Pursuit. The comncept here is clear. You decide which side of the law you are on. So you can choose to be a police or a racer.

I have already enjoyed playing this racing game for about 30 hours. At first I was a bit disappointed. I thought the game wasn’t realistic. Driving the same circuit for 50 times seemed very repetitive to me. And you didn’t progress much. I had played as a racer so I decided to try playing as a police.

Playing Need For Speed Hot Pursuit Remastered as a police is very fun. You basically try to drive as fast as you can, bust some racers and utilize means like using a spike strip, helicopter or road block to capture some racers. This play mode saves my experience. As NFS Hot Pursuit Remastered is not a realistic or enjoyable as a racing game it can be a nice experience as a game.

As it figures there’s too few hours for me to play every good game, be it a racing one or not. So I haven’t even opened Wreckfest or F1 2021. I have just been too busy lately. These games aren’t even the newest ones. As my dreams of getting myself a Xbox Series X seem to fade I have started to think about expanding my Series S’s memory. I just don’t know if there’s anything good and new to play.

Picking up what to play next is very common issue for me as a gamer. Thank you for reading. I try to write some more. I have a holiday of two weeks coming soon so maybe I catch you then. Maybe a bit earlier. Let’s find out!

Gaming Has Evolved

I have been playing video games all my life. It all began in the 1980s. I first played some PC games on our family’s computer that was running some version of MS-DOS. I really can’t remember it so clearly but I played games like Bubble Bobble and Leisure Suit Larry. These gaming session were a bit short as a young boy was starting to get attracted to gaming. And games were different in those days.

I took another step in my path to being a gamer that I am today. It was probably 1993 as I got a Sega Mega Drive. This was something different. I had played some NES games with my friends. Now I had a 16-bit gaming console. The first game I played on it was Sonic The Hedgehog. It came with the system. I remember playing it and some other games for some hours. I maybe played for three hours. I never played longer than that.

Gaming was progressing but it was still mostly considered to be something for children. If there were some older people playing Sega or Nintendo they were considered to be a bit childish. And that’s how games were back then. They were mainly targeted for not so mature audience. What would you think? We had a plumber collecting mushrooms to become larger and a blue hedgehog that was running really fast. But there were some role playing, fighting and sports games that were going to make some adults gamers too.

I was beginning to mature. And so did video games. It was around 1997 when I got a PlayStation 1. It was the first gaming console that also a bit older people would play. It made way for gaming as a hobby for a person of any age. There were no limits anymore. You could find your friends father playing video games. And it wasn’t even that awkward. Not anymore. How exactly were games now different? They had much more to give for gamers. There was action. But there was also a sharp detail of graphics. 3D modeling brought better experience. Games also had a story that would keep you entertained for long period of time.

I played longer sessions with my PlayStation than I did with any other console earlier in my life. I remember playing Diablo for six hours one week end as I was a young boy. So the time I could spend playing had doubled. I remember that I had at least 20 games for PS1. It might have had even 30 games. I had beat most of them. I think I spend maybe 20 hours for a game. That’s a lot of playing video games for a young person. This was actually nothing if you think about how much time beating a video game today might take. To make a comparison I can tell you that I have recently played Diablo II Resurrected for almost 50 hours and Gran Turismo 7 for 30 hours. And I haven’t finished them yet.

You can have gaming as your hobby. You can also spend a lot of time playing games. There are several devices that you can play games on. There are gaming consoles, mobile devices, handheld consoles and computers. If you are good in playing video games there are things today like eSports that can transform your gaming hobby to being a professional competitive gamer. If you like gaming you can do like I do and write to a blog or even to some gaming magazine about games. So you can become a game journalist. If you are interested in the technical side of video games you can try to become a game developer or game programmer. You can even be a game designer that doesn’t even program. There are lots of roles in gaming industry if you want to make your hobby also a profession.

Gaming has really evolved. I started getting into gaming as a young kid back in the 80s. I grew up playing games. It has been a hobby for me for a very long time. On my path I have seen how games have become more realistic and the audience has grown and it has also become more diverse. Now everyone can play. It doesn’t matter that you are old. It doesn’t matter what gender you are. Everyone can play video games today. And that’s one great thing to keep in mind.

Is it a Good Moment to Buy Nintendo Switch?

So, this is my first post of the year. Welcome to 2022 for all you that are right now reading this blog. Before Christmas I was thinking and actually seeing conversation about how Switch would be sold for something like 250 euros after holidays. It is not that I would need a new gaming console. It is that that it is sold for so low price.

I have also been waiting for Xbox Series X to be available. I am actually thinking if I should buy Switch while there is no Series X available at the moment. While newest PlayStation and Xbox gaming consoles have had serious issues with availability Nintendo has been ready to bring their consoles to gamers worldwide.

The price for Switch gaming console has been for a while about 320 euros. The price didn’t, at least yet, fall so much as was predicted. When I made a search for the price it was about 270 euros right now. That is the current lowest price of the console here in Finland.

Should you buy a new Nintendo console instead of Series X or PS5? There is of course the possibility to get the new updated Switch OLED which costs a bit more. The curent price is 399 euros. This console doesn’t bring you 4K graphics or anything even near that. This is propably a good time to have a conversation on the topic.

Nintendo Switch keeps selling. Nintendo is bringing many games to their console. For consumers there is also an option. That means that you have to wait. Maybe you wait for the newest Playstation. Maybe you wait for the newest Xbox. Or could it be that you are already waiting for the newest, upcoming, Nintendo console.

While Nintendo is dominating handheld gaming Sony and Xbox are struggling for their spot in the living room of gamers. Is it cool to play video games with your smart phone? Whatever your question that you want the answer to is one thing is certain – there are many question here. It seems to me that waiting might be the solution.

 

About NVIDIA Shield TV

Some years ago I had a situation with my television. It wasn’t a smart TV. I wanted to watch more content that I liked from it. I tried to make this possible in several ways. First I tried connecting my old Raspberry Pi, the first model, to it. I found out that it wasn’t powerful enough.

What I tried next was to install a Linux distro to a computer and then hook it up to the television. So I got my hands on an old computer that was not used anymore actively. I installed many distros. I was most successful with first Lakka OS and then I also tried LibreELEC. I wasn’t satisfied.

I started thinking if there would be some other solution. My thoughts were first centering around Google Chromecast. It was cheap. Then I found this perfect solution. It would cost a bit but it would cost even more to get a smart TV. This solution was Nvidia Shield TV.

I have now written already three paragraphs in this blog post and we haven’t really touched the main subject yet. The subject of course is the device that allows you to run any Android app and in that way allow you to play games, new and also retro, and see any television programs that you like. The image related to this post displays the remote controller of Nvidia Shield TV.

There are two models of this device available. One has a price tag of about 150 euros and the other, Nvidia Shield TV Pro, has a price of about 230 euros. I have the cheaper one of these two. I also bought a 128 GB memory card with the device. IT connects to your network only with a cable. So that is a small minus. Otherwise I have been happy to use my Shield TV.

It connects to your television with a regular HDMI cable. So, as I said, you can install any Android app. You can hook up your favorite game controller through Bluetooth. I used Dual Shock 4, which is PS4s controller, and I also made sure that my controller had power for it. In this case Dual Shock 4 takes its power from a smart phones charging cable. It uses micro-USB.

There is an app for retro gaming and it is Retroarch. You have to copy your rom files through your local network which is very easy actually. I wasn’t able to play any PS2 games but I found that I could run any PS1 and Dreamcast games. So it is more powerful than your Raspberry Pi would be. And I think there isn’t any decently working Android emulator to be found at the moment (please correct me if I’m wrong).

I can recommend NVIDIA Shield TV to someone that needs a bit more power than the newest Raspberry Pi provides and wants to watch TV programs provided by any Android app. There are also features that let you mirror the games from some other device like a PC.

How to Maximize Your Performance in Competitive Gaming

When talking about how you perform in competitive gaming it first comes to mind that you have to practice a lot. You have to be young enough but also still old enough. You need your wits. You also have to be balanced in your life in overall. Make sure you get enough sleep. You might also figure that drinking is not good and you perform badly if you have a hangover.

But what I have to say is that one of the key things is concentration. You might remember how school was when you were a child. I remember that we had 45 minutes of class and then we took a break for 15 minutes and got some fresh air and then begun the next class. This seems to be somewhat optimal time for a person, a player, to concentrate. So keep this in mind. You can continue playing longer than 45 minutes but I think you should at least have a break after you have played for 2 hours.

Your age matters actually a lot when competing in gaming. It has been said that after the age of 27 years your nerve system starts to weaken a little by little. Well, I’m myself right now 37 years old so it seems I wouldn’t be able to compete against some younger players. This seems to be the case when considering especially first person shooter (FPS) games. But you have to also remember that while you play a game your nerve systems forms memory out of your actions and you might have a huge advantage if you have played some shooter game a lot. Like it is with athletes – very few of them are over the age of 30 and if they are they won’t be as good as they were younger.

While age matters and young players are more likely to succeed you have to remember that winning might not be the most important matter when it comes to gaming. I can say that I definitely enjoy playing games like an old soccer players enjoys playing. After all you are the one that sets your goal and the amount of effort you put in to playing games. Everyone doesn’t have to be a professional.

As it is important for competitive players to practice it is also important to have enough sleep. You also have to be in, so to say, good balance with your life. Gaming might not be your best shot as a career. It might not pay your rent. But it can be part of your successful life. It might be your dear hobby. It might be a way to spend some free time and get your thoughts out of your studies or work. For some people it might be a profession. Not for everyone.

The last thing I want to talk about in this blog post is that your equipment does matter also. Think about what genre you are going to compete in. For driving games you would like to have a steering wheel and paddles, fighting games require certain type of joystick, FPS’s can be played with keyboard and mouse and real-time strategies require these also. There are many tools for getting the best out of your performance.

You Don’t Want to Use a Generic Controller

So I encountered a slight issue with my generic controller for Xbox 360. I first bought this gaming console from a friend of mine. It was a good deal. I got the regular game pad with it. As I got to know the system a bit more I discovered that it would require a battery or a cable so that I wouldn’t have to change the alkaline batteries all the time. I am not a big fan, as I wrote earlier to this blog, of AA batteries.

My solution to this slight issue was to buy a generic controller. It was cheap. It was like twenty euros or so. It played nicely for some time. It wasn’t that awful when playing driving games like Project Gotham Racing 4 or Forza Motorsport. As I was thinking about to play a FPS called Crysis 2 I encountered and totally understood the problem I had. This generic game pad wouldn’t be a solution for me as I would need a better, a sharper, controller for my Xbox 360.

It was a pain to try to aim and move efficiently while playing Crysis 2. Where I think the controller performed the most poorly was at moving the sight. The left thumb stick of this controller just isn’t accurate and sharp enough. I was very lucky although. When I first bought the console it came with a controller. This game pad was the original that was delivered with the system in the first place when the console was bought as a new. I just had to buy a USB cable for the controller or else I would have to buy some AA batteries for it and keep changing them every time they would get consumed.

I bought a cable. I actually bought one nice game also so I wouldn’t make just an order of only twenty euros. I was happy. I had finally the cable that I needed. Then I figured that the cable was actually a charging cable. Well alright then. Its length was only about two meters. That’s not a good cable for powering a game pad. So what I actually had to do was to buy an extender cable. So it got a bit messy but I finally managed to plug the controller to my Xbox 360.

I think playing FPS games with a cheap, generic, controller on Xbox 360 or maybe even on your PC is something that a real gaming enthusiast wouldn’t do. Some people like to play these shooting games with a mouse and a keyboard. And you have to say it has its advantages. I like to casually play first person shooters with a controller but when I do I prefer a good quality controller that doesn’t require me to change the batteries all the time and maybe even consume the natural resources with these kinds of actions. So save your money and buy these controllers as wisely as you can. That is all for now my dear readers. Til the next time!

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.

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.

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