How Far Are We?

I had an idea of a text in which I would be describing how we are kind of tricked to being inside the world that a particular game we are playing is providing us. Could computer and video games bring us someday to worlds like in the movie Matrix? If that would be possible – how could you trick your mind in to believing that you are, definitely, in that fantasy world?

I will approach this subject with thinking about your senses. You basically have different kinds of inputs in your body that can determine what you see and feel and hear and so on. We are far in that we can bring you some visually and aurally pleasant sensations. What if you could add your sense of touching to these? We could probably get to some really odd situations inside this kind of gaming world. Could it be that only these three senses could flip us in to believing that we actually are in some other world? Could there be a way to trick also our sense of balance?

Our efforts in bringing virtual reality have lacked to this day something that would actually make your dreams into reality. You can totally make your vision virtual. Your hearingĀ  can also be tricked. Balance could be tricked also. This leaves us to the ultimate question – how do we make our decisions and interact in this kind of world? Fantasy has a way that can make you feel like you are in a different world. I recently played a game that took me to a different world. And it had me make decisions and actions that defined how I proceeded in the game. It isn’t so important to think about what game it was, but let me tell you that it was actually Skyrim that I was fiddling around with as I had this idea of this blgo post.

But here’s something you can think about – what if we could dream in some kind of virtual environment that would completely capture our senses and make us feel like we are free of our limits iin this real world? Could we find something within our consciousness? Could we discover something this way that we aren’t discovering as we are awake in this reality that kind of captures us physically?

There’s certainly lots of questions in that last paragraph I just wrote. Dreams are very interesting if you start to think about it. I don’t have so much experience about dreams in sense of psychology. But I can think about it. When you dream you basically mix things that you were thinking about with your memories and your subconsciousness that I don’t actually know or understand. I think it’s somewhat what you fish and what you desire mixed with what kind of personality you have. Something like that.

So if we could dream inside virtual reality like that would it help us to heal our kind of injuries that we have in our psyche? Or what kind of an experiment would it be? Would it be pleasant or unpleasant? Would it have any value as entertainment or could we open doors to our minds and our deeply wired brains? Could we discover something that hasn’t yet been discovered? Now there’s something to think about.

I think today we are very far away from this kind of an experience. There is a sharp video picture that captures our eyes. There can maybe be a helmet in your head that captures your vision completely. You have a game pad that you can use to interact in game. Our minds are captured with stories and discussions that we can be involved in. Could there be something more? Are we actually in this kind of situation that we were in when we didn’t even have graphics in games and could this be something that could be possible in the future? Maybe? Maybe not? Would you like this kind of virtual reality in which we could dream our surroundings and even decide somehow when we would want to quit the game? We might be there in maybe 30 next years and this could be an improvement that we are facing just like graphics were back in the 80s.

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!

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.

 

Assassin’s Creed Series

I have played Assassins Creed for only a bit but I chose to write my next blog post about this whole series. In this series of games games I am most familiar with are the first Assassins Creed and Origins. I lately started playing Origins. I bought it couple of months ago for PS4. It’s a bit sad to think that PS4 isn’t the newest PlayStation console anymore.

Assassins Creed has been around since the first game of the series was released back in 2008. The copy I have is for Xbox 360. I found the first Assassins Creed game to be a nice game. I am not a big fan of open world games. I played this game only for a while. This is a huge series if you think about how many games there have been released in it. Since the first game there has been almost yearly a release. I am also aware that there was also a movie released some time ago.

Assassins Creed Origins takes place in Egypt. This game had a good overall score in Metacritic and I liked the idea of getting more into the series. I find also this game to be nice. You can find that there are areas of gameplay that have been further developed. This game was released in 2017. You are moving in an open world. You can run or ride a camel. You can spot new missions or places as a bird that can fly in the sky. From there you can mark different spots you want to move to. You can also use the map for navigation.

I have played Origins only for about three hours. On “HowLongToBeat” it is said that the main story has about 30 hours of playing. So I’m only at the beginning of this game. As I keep writing these blog posts I am realizing how much time playing games actually takes. I haven’t had so much time for gaming lately as I have had more work and social life recently. Playing games is still one of my favorite ways to pass time and get away from stress. So I am going to keep posting these texts to this blog. And maybe next time I can come up with a good and clever idea for a text.

What Makes Gaming So Appealling?

Why do you play? How long did you play that game this time? You should get a better hobby! These are some comments made by people that are not so much into gaming. I get this sometimes. This blog post is trying to explain what it is in gaming that keeps drawing our attention and some reasons why it is an enjoyable activity and why do we spend so much time playing games.

Playing video games has been popular since the first known video game. I am talking about a certain game here. It was called “Tennis for Two”. It was introduced in 1958. Here’s the link to Wikipedia if you want to go read some more facts about this game. As a game it was as simple and basic as can be. Let’s think about this for a while. In 1958 video games were something new. There must have been something very interesting here for a human being. What games have that draw our attention? What makes us want to play more and more and until we are exhausted and tired?

One thing is our natural rewarding system. When something positive happens on the screen or when we accomplish something very meaningful our nerve system gives us a small dose of dopamine. This dose becomes larger when a person uses some sort of drug. This leads to a kind of a malfunction with this system and makes us depressed for a short period of time. This is how this natural system that has been built to our brains functions. So achieving our goal in a game gives us a reward.

I have also one point about collecting games. Why do we want more and more all the time. You know how this is. You get many great games. You are satisfied for some time but eventually you want more. You buy more games. And this, let’s give it a name that is somewhat related to programming, “loop”, keeps repeating. This has something to do with our human beings natural behavior. We are collectors by nature. That’s how human beings started their path. They were hunters and they also collected things they found from their surroundings.

These points can be true. They might be true and they might explain something. This however doesn’t take away all the things that make you or me enjoy playing video games. I have my reasons why I keep playing. It gives something for me. For me it is a way to get loose from the stress I get from studying or working. Is gaming expensive? I would say no because it isn’t as expensive as some common hobbies like ice hockey for example is. It isn’t as healthy if you think about the matter. Is it childish? I think today gaming is becoming more and more a hobby for a person of any age. There are already some very old people that play video games. I think today games have a very diverse content and they make people more active and this makes our entertainment more challenging for the growing audience.

So there are things that can explain this phenomenon. It still doesn’t take away things a player has learned while playing. I for example gained lots of skills in a foreign language that was actually English. Gaming is lots of fun. Collecting games can draw you away from using drugs or alcohol. We have our reasons to behaving how we do. Gaming is a hobby for lots of people. They have a reason to play. And I think we can learn a lot about human nature also by playing the games that inspire us and keep uplifting our minds. So, let’s keep on playing!

 

Let’s do some math…

Playing can be very time consuming. I started wondering how many hours have I actually spent playing. How much of my time, or even my life, I have spent enjoying video games. Would it be months? Or years? Why don’t we do some calculations on this.

How many hours is there in a month? One month has 30 days which have 24 hours each. So there is 720 hours in one month. One year has 365 times 24 hours. That means one year has 8760 hours. We can approach this problem by thinking how many games have you completed so we can calculate an approximation of how many months or even years you, the player, has spent playing.

To complete a modern role playing game would require maybe 100 hours. For a shorter action game it would mean that it takes about 15 hours to complete. These games are much shorter than RPGs. Driving games would take propably about 15 hours also. Games like Fallout 4, Final Fantasy series’s games and other games like this take a bit longer to complete.

I think we shouldn’t try to calculate precisely the amount of hours but we can figure out an estimation. In one full month I would play Final Fantasy VII about seven times through. That’s a whole lot of playing. In one year I could play again Final Fantasy VII thorugh over 85 times. This would be a ridiculous amount of time to spend playing.

So the time I have spent playing, in my lifetime, might be somewhere between maybe months or even one year. But I don’t think many gamers come close to maybe two or three years. So these calculations can give you an idea of how much of your time you have actually spent playing in total. There however are much more boring and not so improving things you can spend your time. Playing games is a big part of my life. But you got to remember that there are more important things in life also…

Recommendation From A Friend – Carmageddon (PS1)

My friend messaged me that he had a good subject for an article for my blog. He had an opportunity to send me a picture of his favorite PlayStation game. The game is Carmageddon. It wasn’t so familiar to me but it was a cool idea to feature him on this article. So the guy you see in the featured image is the friend. His name is Pauli. We are actually from the same street and we lived close by as childs.

Carmageddon is kind of a racing game. You race against time but you get more time and points for crashing to opponents and hitting people that are watching the race. This game was popular in the 90s. It was considered to be a bit violent and I somehow remember that it was even banned in some countries because of that. Why haven’t I played it? I think this game was more popular as a PC game and I didn’t play. It obviously had a port to PlayStation but it never got to my hands as I was actually playing my PS1. I played racing games like Gran Turismo or Colin McRae Rally.

So who is this Pauli and why did you let him on the cover of your new blog post? To answer to this question I would have to say that I just had make a blog post about this game. Maybe the idea just gave me kicks and it was cool idea also. And I think this blog could be more to some social sides of gaming also. And a little bit less about me writing stories about my somehow and somewhat interesting stories where I play alone my game consoles. Yeah, you must get it. I play single player games, alone, in my room, with dimmed lights? I know that’s not the case. So this story was about Paulis favourite PS1 game. Thanks for reading…

And if you want to hear Paulis music you can head to his SoundCloud page

What makes gaming so addictive?

There are many things that you can have an addiction on. Drugs, such as nicotine, coffeine or heroin, are addictive. But there can be more behind an addiction than just pure chemistry. Fast learning and seeking of reward are some things that are present as you play a video game. Basically what happens as you are playing is that you just concentrate on the game. If we analyze what is happening physically is that you are just pressing the buttons at right time. The controller takes your input and forms a reaction based on your actions.

This is very different from working in real life. In real life you are dealing with your senses and reacting on what you see and hear or feel. Think about it. It is very different to for example carve a piece of wood with a real knife than to do that in a game. How this effects a young person who is growing up and is just beginning to form to become an adult is actually very interesting. There are different phases in growing up and it seems there is something very special about this part of it. I’m talking about persons that are aged between 14 to 16.

How did I became addicted in gaming? Do I play too much? Should I limit the time I spend on playing these games? These are good questions and in my opinion need to be given a thought. We as adults can analyze this but I think a child that is very addicted to some game might not just get the picture. Today there is already limitations created to control what kind of content is presented to for example persons under the age of 16.

You have to have some vision inside gaming to set limits to these young players. And maybe they are themselves somewhat responsible for how they spend their time. Gaming industry should have some responsibility in this matter also. I think they have so much resources that they can have a real research about these issues. All in all I think that we all, gamers and non-gamers, specialists and hobbyists, should have a good conversation as things are not so one sided.

Final Fantasy VII Remake – A small preview

I played Final Fantasy VII way back when I still had my PS1 gaming console. I played it through and I remember it really took some time to complete it. Graphics were bad if compared to games released today. It had box with four CDs. Remember? PS1 didn’t have a hard drive. Hard drive was first introduced when original Xbox got released.

So for lots of us this new remake brings up so many good memories. The nostalgia is strong. It is a real joy to understand that they haven’t forgotten us older gamers that think FFVII was one of the best in this whole FF series, if not the best of them all.

Free demo of the game was released on PS Store. Demo took over 9 GB of space so it was a small introduction to this game. I played the demo and I think it’s a good response for nowadays gamers demands. Graphics and controls are great. You can choose to play with classic turn-based mode or with modern mode which reminds a lot about Final Fantasy XV.

All in all this is going to be one heck of a game. I would buy it. The release day here where I live is 10.4.2020. I’m waiting for this game. Hope to get to playing it soon!

What kinds of games can you play with PC?

Besides newest games you can play also retro games with PC. There is lots of DOS and also retro console games available. For this purpose I would prefer Windows but Linux has also some potential. In this article the focus is on games you can play with Windows.

Let’s start our journey into PC gaming of today by introducing some DOS classics. I’m talking games like Bubble Bobble, Blues Brothers, Doom, Command And Conquer, Dune, Golden Axe, Lemmings, Mortal Kombat, NHL 97, Populous, Theme Park. This list isn’t in any way complete but I can recommend all these games. With DOSBox you can also run old apps such as Impulse Tracker, which is a music production app. Instructions on installing DOSBox can be found by Googling. I recommend GUI and I use D-Fend Reloaded for this purpose.

There is also a possibility to play old retro games with many different kinds of emulators. Almost every system has it’s own emulator and PC is good platform to experiment these. You can also choose to mod a device like original Xbox or use system like Raspberry Pi. In any case be sure to use a good USB connected controller that suits retro gaming. I myself have lots of different gamepads. My favourite for PC is Xbox One Elite Pad.

Of course you can play modern games also. There is a large collection of games found on Steam and online game stores like GOG. So when it’s possible, buy the game, because gaming industry really needs your support. You will support production of some quality games. Be sure also to check your local flea market as I have found many great older games from there and the price definitely is as low as can be.

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