About Memory

Memory is a huge part of how a computer or a gaming console operates. This blog post is my attempt to introduce to you how memory works and what kinds of memory is involved in different gaming devices. So there is basically some temporary memory that doesn’t store so much information. There is also larger memory that stores a lot of information but it isn’t used as frequently. There is also memory that has to be stored for a long time and memory that is used only for a short period of time.

This is basically how computer like systems work. They save data to memory, take user or some other input and make calculations depending on the data that they work with. They present something depending on what the user is doing. This creates the interactive part in video games.

Hard drives are the part of a gaming device that store everything that the game needs. A big part of this is saved games data. Some retro gaming consoles don’t have a hard drive. Hard drives were introduced to game consoles as Xbox was released. With for example the first PlayStation you had to get yourself an external memory card to save your game. Hard disks also store the data even if you turn off your game console.

Today it is common to have hard disks as large as 2 TB. The amount of space on hard disks has been increasing all the time. I remember a time when I bought a hard drive for my PC that had 15 GB. That PC had a 400 MHz processor. As you can figure the technology and performance of computers is advancing all the time. The data that is moving inside devices and also in different kinds of networks is getting larger. Also the size is getting smaller and you definitely can play games with handheld devices and also with your smart phone.

If you would like to get to know more about how computers operate I suggest you pick up a book about how micro processors work. I have some knowledge but I understand that my information isn’t so precise. So if you really want to dive in this topic just make a search in your favorite search engine and type in something like “micro processors free e-book pdf” or something like that. I know that there are many free resources for you to read.

 

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.

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.

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…

Differences between serious and casual gaming

What really is casual gaming? Does it refer to playing at easier difficulty level? Does it mean not playing so many hours daily or weekly? In this article I try to explain this matter. There are many things that are or seem to be more important than playing. But sometimes you can combine playing with writing an essay or getting to spend some free time. We can go even further – what if you could also create new games and use your knowledge to your advance?

In my thoughts casual gaming means passing some time that you just seem to have to something that you don’t fully want to do. You are just spending time or even wasting time because you might be bored or you are waiting for something to happen for example waiting for the oven to warm so you can bake some pizza in it. This means that you are not so passionate about the actual game and all the difficulties and experiences inside the game are not the thing that you are interested in.

Let’s for a moment think about serious gaming. You are obsessed with the game you are playing. You want to find every piece of equipment, turn over every rock you find and reveal all the secrets that the game has. You are willing to receive everything that specific game has to offer. You are deeply inside this games world. You want to focus on the main character and side characters also. You seem to understand the story.

Studying is a lot like learning a new game. Some people try to figure what things are the most essential and learn them and even memorize some phrases or images or something that they find important. But if you want to learn things more deeply you want to understand why things are the way they are. You want to fully understand the matter you are trying to learn. Not just some phrases that some expert thinks are important. You want to understand what the game is. You want to know everything about it. So this basically is the difference. Casual gaming is a way to pass some time. Serious gaming is when you want to understand what you are doing inside the game.

As I’ve learned some programming as I was studying I came to understand games more deeply also. It opened some doors for me. My role would not be an artist or 3D modeller or graphical or texture designer. I would be the creator of games logic. That’s what game programmers do. They design the logic. You need a key from that room that opens a door to that next room. And so on. You can build on it.

This text is just one post in my blog. It appears to me that I have touched something important here and we can propably think about these matters in some other posts also. Some things like how can you get so much valuable information from games and how can you even make gaming from your hobby to a profession. I’d like to write more about game designing and eSports. I think there are many valuable things here and that gaming can be more than a simple way to pass time and it can bring you valuable things.

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