Going Digital

They say that nowadays most PC games are sold as digital copies. I buy latest games today for PS4 and I am not so keen on latest PC games. I had to face this problem as I was planning to buy a laptop computer back in this years July. I assumed that my new laptop would have an optical drive of some kind. At least I was hoping it would have one. Finally it didn’t.

I have a large, well okay, huge, collection of games as physical copies. This includes lots of PC games. I find my retro kinds of games mainly from flee markets or from game shops bargain sales. I know there is these kinds of shops on the internet that you can buy a huge collection of games and they can be old, new, classic or not so known. I know there are lots of people doing this. This could be a way for me too to collect and buy games.

So this issue was current when I had a new, fresh, laptop computer, that had latest Windows operating system on it. But there were no games. There were no software applications. If I wanted to play something I would have to install it from somewhere. And I didn’t have an opportunity, this time, to install from CD-ROM or DVD. I actually went and spent (nice rhyming there) about 45 euros for an external DVD drive, but lets explain my next point first…

The way I remember Steam was mainly as irritating obstacle for me as I was trying to install a game to my own PC. It didn’t allow me to install a game that was registered by another user. I have bought all-in-all about ten games from flee market that I wasn’t able to install or eventually play. And I blamed Steam for it. I became more cautious. If a game had “Steam” on its back side I didn’t buy the used game. This was my view.

As I installed and activated Steam on my new computer I suddenly noticed that Steam enabled me to import all the games that were synchronized to my Steam account. I mean I was able to play any game that I had bought and that were supporting Steam. That’s very good. I think that’s amazing! I don’t have to depend on the physical copy of a game. I can pay for it and register so I can play it on any PC. I say this once more – this is very nice.

Are we going to see more this kind of movement towards digital markets when we are talking about purchasing latest games for latest gaming consoles and computer? The time will tell. I might not be ready for my PlayStation to be only digital but maybe I will buy someday in the future a PC that doesn’t have an optical drive.

Burnout 3: Takedown – An Action Packed Racing Game For PS2 (and original Xbox)

I fell in love with this game. Well, maybe not in love but it had me spend hours playing. I have to tell you that I first bought this game for my original Xbox. Then I was many years away from Xbox and my gaming centered more around newer PC games and PS3. I got back to it some years ago as I found it from a local flee market. The price was maybe three or four euros.

So, what is this game about? Racing is the first thing that comes to mind. But that isn’t all. There is this “boost” feature that forces you to gather sort of fuel. You get more fuel for boost from taking risks when driving. For example you can drive almost hitting another vehicles. You can also sort of drift with your car. The most fuel you get from slamming your opponents to the wall, another car or a train. It also makes your opponents to lose important time and you can have a huge advantage by taking out your opponent or opponents. That’s what “Takedown” stands for in this games title.

“Why do you love this game?”, you might ask. It’s like having a break from these very realistic racing games. It is more approachable than some more realistic driving games like Richard Burns Rally for example. There is a nice mixture of skill and randomness needed to play Burnout 3: Takedown successfully. So it’s good entertainment. But like with almost all video or computer games you have to understand that this content is purely fictional. One day I was thinking about this as I was playing this game. You really have to take down your opponents. I mean you have to make a push to eliminate your competition. Driving like this in real life would be disastrous. Would someone be so influenced by this game that he or she would actually try these tricks while actually driving? I mean you have to have a reason to understand that this not real. You have to separate this game from reality.

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

Playing NBA 2K14 on PS4

How I got in to playing basketball games? First I started to get interested about these kinds of sport games as I was already playing basketball. It was my hobby for 7 years. Then I stopped playing as I wanted to concentrate to studying more. The first basketball game I ever had was Super Real Basketball. It was a game for Sega Mega Drive. It wasn’t the greatest game or the most realistic. But that’s how I started to get into basketball games.

The game that really caught my attention was NBA Jam. I played it in arcade in the 90s. It became my favourite game at that time. I liked also very much Mortal Kombat. These were the best games for us to play in arcades. I usually played with my friends in arcades. Mortal Kombat and NBA Jam are so great titles that I still play these original games on my Sega console even today. There have been many games released later that had better graphics and controls and so on. I still like these original games also.

NBA Jam was a hit in arcades all over the world. Sure, it was appealing and attractive. It wasn’t so realistic. There was NBA Live series that was trying to create games that were more detailed. I didn’t like this series so much or get into it. I remember playing some basketball games on PS1. But the best games that were dealing this sport were yet to be released. I have also played many basketball games on Xbox and PS3. I just didn’t so much get into them. I have to mention, in this context, a very good basketball game for PS2. That game is NBA Street vol 2 on PS2.

NBA 2K14 isn’t the latest basketball game but it surely is the one I have played the most. This game was also among the first games I bought for my then fresh and shiny PS4. I started creating a character. My imagination started flowing. I created a player that was 6 feet tall. He played as shooting guard. I added some base skills to ball handling, passing and 3-point shooting. When the game, and new season starts, you don’t first get to play. You might get 5 minutes at court to prove your skills. Then you start to get more playing time as your character progresses.

NBA 2K14 has many dimensions in it. I found it appealing as I have some history inside basketball. I have learned new ways to look at this sport. I have tried to make some kind of a game myself. This has not been easy for me. I would like to create some kind of strategy game. I went on to play 2K14 for maybe 100 hours as I developed my characters skills to overall of 99 and managed finally to win the MVP and the championship. This is a very good game. I think it brings some role playing games’s elements to sport gaming. As I had achieved almost everything the game had to offer I moved to NBA 2K18. I didn’t like it so much. This time I created taller character that played the position of power forward.

Saying goodbye to PS4

So there’s PS5 to be released at the end of the year. You may have been thinking that PS4 is totally over. Should you just remove it from your setup? You may change your mind because there’s going to be released some very big titles. One of them has already been mentioned in this blog. It is the remake collection of two games – Tony Hawks Pro Skater 1 and 2. The other one is Dirt 5. It’s going to be released on October of 2020. We have already seen some big game releases like The Last Of Us 2 and Final Fantasy VII Remake.

How long exactly is PS4 going to be around? That is a good question. If you think about PS3, the predecessor of PS4, you can find out that the newest games haven’t been released to it. But still some hardcore players are playing it. At the beginning of this year I found out that there was PS3 emulator for PC released. It made possible to play a copy of your favorite PS3 game on PC. Though one game could take a lot of space. Some games require 50 GBs of space. Considering this and the issue of high system requirements it would be awkward to actually use this emulator as we have seen PS3 prices dropping from the price tag of brand new gaming console.

PS3 is still around and that’s not going to change for a long time. PS4 is going to lose its title as the most powerful PlayStation gaming console very soon. You can also consider some of the last games that were made for example for PS1 in early 2000s. Game companies could actually make some never before seen games because they had so much experience about developing games for exactly that system. We saw then games like Final Fantasy IX and Vagrant Story. And remember how good Silent Hill was compared to for example the first Resident Evil. There are some mistakes that can be corrected and there definitely is advantage in being some of the last games on any gaming console.

What will be the first game you buy for your new gaming system? PS5 already has some games to choose from that will be released at he release or shortly after. I am waiting to see Gran Turismo 7 for example. There is always going to be some time until new good games are starting to be released on a new gaming system. In the case of PS4 the consumers had to wait for a long time waiting for good quality games. And this also started the trend of HDs and remakes. This makes sense as you think for example how many games were released on PS1 and PS2. Why would you have to reinvent the wheel every time? There is going to be some advancements in technology. This will eventually bring some new kinds of games to us players.

I will have to say this. I am not going to buy PS5. Even if there actually is going to be a new Diablo game released on it. I am aiming for a gaming PC as my next platform for latest games. I am also going to wait two or three years to buy it. This decision is not written in stone. My mind can change. I was a bit disappointed to PS4. This is only my decision and you should definitely make yours after you have given this idea some thought. It has been some years since PS4 was released.

Can you see inside the game?

There are many different views to video games. In my opinion by playing them you learn different things about the world itself but you also learn how games are played, structured and what are the rules inside it. You can also take a psychological view of what the game is trying tell you. What is the plot and what are the developers main points or what is the games message. You can also analyze the game – what are the rules and how do you proceed in this game. Some games ask for the player to make decisions that effect to what happens and how do other characters react to this. When I think about this one particular game comes to mind. That’s the first Fallout.

Some players are happy to just play and play and keep playing and enjoying these video games without learning things about the world around us. I think that’s okay. Not everyone has to be a scientist or go to university. It’s just my own habit and my personality that drives me to think about things a little bit deeper. At times I find myself reading books, skimming through texts that I find online and just having a conversation with someone at social media for example. I enjoy this a lot. I think your brain is your greatest weapon and it is even greater than a loaded handgun.

There is also a technical view to gaming and games. After I spent years learning programming I found how the logical part of games is constructed. I am happy that I graduated and even though I didn’t finally get a job as a programmer I learned many interesting facts about computers and technology. That was combined to my earlier experiences about playing video games. Now, I am not a hardcore coder. I know the basics. Still this little knowledge opens a door to understanding a lot about video games.

You basically have content that reacts to users actions. You get points by doing something. As Sonic you collect rings. As Mario you jump on enemies. These points are actually variables. When Mario jumps, or we can say that you push the button, this action triggers a function that defines how high the jump is and usually it also records how long did you press the button and did you press any other directional buttons. When Mario lands on an enemy there is another function triggered. Have you ever wondered how on earth can a game save of for example Fallout 4 fit in to so small space? This is because for the game to be saved you only need some statistical information, some variables, that have all the necessary information inside them. So it all makes sense, finally.

There are many ways to analyze games. You can view them as entertainment, learning tool, hobby, profession (maybe), subject of any kind of science and so on. You can also think what goes on in the game and what is the atmosphere like. If you want to learn more about games and maybe willing to learn how to make games I can tell you that you should first start programming some way. You can try to get to some good school to learn things out. That’s the route that I took. After you have learned basics you can advance to a tool, usually a framework, that you can build your game on. Good tools to learn are Unity, Stencyl and Phaser. And remember that programming is only the logic part of games. To make a game you need also to create all the 3D models, story, textures and music with some sound effects. It takes a lot to make a full game. Some just have what it takes and…well, some just don’t. Try to be patient. If your first game, or the prototype of your first game is awful, don’t give up. Just keep thinking, designing and learning. That’s also how you can grow as a person.

Some of my experiences with Gran Turismo

I first played Gran Turismo on Sony PlayStation. It was my first full game that came with the used console I had bought. My PS1 had also some demo discs included. I didn’t really get in to using racing wheel. And the game didn’t in my opinion necessarily need one. PS1 had many great driving games. I definitely enjoyed also Colin McRae Rally series as its first two games were released on Sonys first gaming console.

Gran Turismo was something amazing. It was released in 1998. It brought realistic graphics and gameplay to console gaming systems racing games. You could also test and upgrade your vehicles. You could buy new cars and tune them and buy more parts. It had over 150 different cars. You got money from completing races and finishing on top positions. There just were so many goals you could try to achieve. Think for example collecting all the cars the game offers.

You can see the second Gran Turismo game on this posts image. I never really played that. I didn’t play GT3 or GT4. But the game I did play some years after getting into the first game was the fifth game of this series. Racing gamers have seen many good games that were developed after the first Gran Turismo. I can name for example Richard Burns Rally and Dirt 3. In my humble opinion GT5 doesn’t come close to these. It is named as Gran Turismo 5 and it is a good game. But…do you have to play it just because it has a strong brand and some earlier games in this series were good? Is that good enough reason? I don’t think so…

Gran Turismo 3 and 4 were great games. I broke my PS2 a while ago so I couldn’t play these on it. And I don’t know if these games have aged well. Racing fans just have so many alternatives to turn to. Dirt Rally 1 and 2.0 have been released and also we can add Dirt 4 to this list. There is already one new Gran Turismo (Sport) that was released for PS4. There does exist some good racing games available only for Xbox 360 and Xbox One. We are not going to go there…

Sierras early adventure games – Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards

As I am born in the 80s this game was one of those first games I played as a small child. It was released by Sierra in 1987. It uses a game engine called Adventure Game Interpreter or for short AGI that was originally created for producing the first Kings Quest game back in 1984. Again this was something we gamers had never seen. Suddenly you had graphics instead of staring at a screen that had just some text on it.

Before Sierras innovative way to create graphics to adventure games fans of adventure game genre had to content themselves to bare text parser with no graphics at all. These games had graphics but the actions the player makes have to be written. You can move the character and sometimes when you perform some command you need to be in some place inside the games inner world. And you can move from screen to another screen. I wasn’t even born when first text adventures came to markets but I can see how this kind of an improvement would be like.

Leisure Suit Larry was based on a text based adventure game originally released in 1981. Al Lowe copied most of this games ideas. It was almost the same game with only graphics added. This is my view. You can propably find a copy of this game and play it yourself and you will understand better (I can’t publish this games name).

My experiences with this first Larry game are strongly represented in my memories of my childhood. I learned to write some words with computer keyboard playing this game. Back then I didn’t understand games details. I for example didn’t understand what is a prophylactic. And graphics of this item in this game were blurry enough to let my imagination handle it as some sort of a gem. The game has some controversial content but it is understandable that you maybe would let a child play this game. Of course there are many other games that might be more suitable for a young kid. But this is how I got started with Sierra.

First games I remember playing

I remember how I got started with gaming. It was 1980s. Playing video games was already popular. There had already been some consoles like Atari 2600 and Commodore 64. PC was also popular. First gaming system that I got to play must have been PC. And it was somebody elses. Our family got our first computer and I think it was 1987 if I remember correctly. So I was three or four years old and I had already begun drawing with pencils. I could recognise some letters but I was too young to start writing or reading. I got to learn those skills later in school.

Games that we had on this PC were interesting to me. We had some Sierras classics like Police Quest, Space Quest, Leisure Suit Larry and Kings Quest. I was fiddling around with some QBasic games. I even wrote a small game with QBasic later as I was a bit older. I didn’t clearly understand the full potential this machine had. So I didn’t get into coding so much. I was also drawing something with early Paint this PC had.

I learned to write my first words playing Larry. I didn’t understand this games sexism. My parents allowed me to play it. Sexy parts of the game weren’t so clear and we understood them later when we grew more. It is a soft game on this matter. At least I think so. I once asked my father what was a “prophylactic” and he answered to me “Gee. I really don’t know. Can you figure it out from the picture? It looks like a gem or something.” So I was allowed to play this Larry and it was only seventh game in this series that got my parents a little bit worried because I was young. I played seventh Larry maybe in 1996 or something like that.

There were so many interesting games. Some of them were Sopwith, Space Commanders (Space Invanders Clone), Bubble Bobble, Test Drive and so on. Too many to list here. I don’t remember so much of the techical side of our computer. Our dad upgraded its processor to 286 so before that the processor was much slower than that. One day we tried to play Wolfenstein 3D on the computer but we failed to run the game. We also installed newer diskette drive. So it had drives for 8-inch and 3½-inch diskettes. It’s funny to think how bad the first mouse was so we got a new mouse also. The standars then was the classic mouse with a ball in it. Monitor of this device was heavy and our computer was able to run EGA graphics. There weren’t any VGA or Super VGA available.

I would have liked to add a picture about this machine but I could only find this picture of floppy disk and its disk drive. I took this picture some years ago as my parents were getting this old computers all parts to recycling center. I’m not so into retro computers. This old computer we had was replaced by Mega Drive and later by PlayStation as number one gaming console. This PC was not functioning so nicely. It used to get stuck and I would have to press “reset”. Back then all computers had this function. The personal comnputer we had served properly and because of that I can still remembert it and it really launched my gaming activitites and layed the foundation for it.

How Doom changed gaming?

Back in 1993 I was a young kid and I heard some of my class mates talk about this new game that was said to be totally awesome. They kept talking about it. Our crappy PC that our family had wasn’t able to run it. So I played it with my friends computer. And it definitely was something we players hadn’t seen before.

Creators of this game, mainly John Romero and John Carmack, brought to us a game that had never-before-seen graphics and which was also very violent. I remember a long conversation that I had as a kid about does Doom have some kind of a plot in it. You basically walk around and shoot monsters. But there is some kind of a story included though. You are a soldier that is ordered to go to work at Phobos, a moon of Mars, but someone has accidentally opened a teleport to hell. Everyone else is dead. You are figthing monsters from hell all by yourself.

Back in the day graphics were blurry. Just compare the original game to newer Doom released in 2016 and you clearly see the difference. Violence does exist but now graphics tell you more accurately what happens if you for example cut a zombies head off with a chain saw. Some people claimed already in 1993 that games were too violent. This kind of discussion is of course necessary but I think you can not blame solely games for real life violence. My opinion in this issue is that a healthy person can draw a line to what happens in game and how you act in real life. Of course everyone has an opinion but lets not, again, go there.

So how exactly Doom impacted gaming? Well, it certainly brought a 3D experience to larger audience. Makers of Doom had already released Wolfenstein 3D some years earlier. There was this new genre starting to rise its head. It was the birth of a genre called First Person Shooters. And I think Doom is the father of all FPS games that came later. If Doom wouldn’t have been released there wouldn’t be games like Quake, Half-Life, Unreal, Soldier Of Fortune and so on. Doom started it all. This might also be the reason why gaming industry started to grow towards games that included textures and 3D models. Doom was definitely a real pioneer in this formation of gaming that was yet to come even more popular.

Doom started its journey to minds of gamers as a PC game. There was one particularly smart way to release a game that was used by Romero and Carmack. It was called shareware. It worked like this – You could copy the first episode free and if you, or when you, liked the first part, you could purchase the whole game. This was first time that this kind of releasing of a game was used. And it was genious. Doom was also ported to many gaming consoles including Sony PlayStation and Super Nintendo. One of the best versions of Doom could be the one released on Nintendo 64.

Doom made a comeback in 2016 as the game was released to modern gaming systems. There have been numerous Doom games and listing them all would be pointless. You must not forget Doom Eternal that was released just weeks ago. It’s the latest Doom game right now. I think nobody seriously has doubts about how great game this really is. If you still think this game didn’t have impact on the whole gaming industry I will answer that it sure did shape me and some people I know as players of computer and video games.

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