Archive for June, 2012

Countdown to Vegas

Right before the next semester starts I’ll be going on holiday and my wife and I are very excited to be spending a little less that a fortnight in Las Vegas. We have plenty planned and every few days my better half has been showing me this countdown.

It’s all very exciting, but it also represents a countdown to a big deadline, as it’s the time by which I have to have completed all my jobs before the summer. Summertime is very often littered with good intentions as to how you can improve this course, or how the make this student experience better, and there is never enough time to do everything.

Hopefully we’ll get there before the apocalypse!

The Las Vegas countdown is serving and an exciting reminder of the imposing deadline!

This one is a tough one. I think the idea of a game everyone should play requires all sorts of assumptions about everyone, which are bound to be wrong. I would say that everyone (who wants to play games) should play a wide variety of games in order to give themselves a good, solid gaming foundation. I guess this is the same idea as being widely read, rather than just reading on style of book. Still, I don’t really think that is in keeping with the whole question, so I’m going to pick a game that I thought was a lot of fun and a game that everyone should be able to play.

Although I suspect there is a large degree of nostalgia influencing me I have very fond memories of playing a game called Day of the Tentacle (published by Lucas Arts). Day of the tentacle was the sequel to Maniac Mansion, and I think it’s a game that a lot of people could enjoy. Unfortunately it’s not very readily available, but I managed to get the necessary files off of disks I found in the attic and can now relive my childhood.

In Day of the Tentacle purple tentacle drinks some toxic waste, which makes him a whole lot smarter and gives him aspirations of world domination. Green tentacle manages to send a message (via hamster no less) to three colourful characters; a nerd called Bernard Bernoulli, a crazy medical student called Laverne and a metal band roadie called Hoagie. They come to the rescue, discover a time machine and are sent to three different times. From there on it’s a point and click adventure. Characters can sent stuff to each other through their time machines, but the different times aspect adds a new mechanic. Instead of using the time machines to swap items, which is effectively instantaneous from the point of view of the item being swapped, someone from the past can also leave items in certain places for someone in the future, and those items will be affected by the passage in time. For example, leave a bottle of wine somewhere in the past and it turns to vinegar. Chop down a tree in the past and it disappear in the future. Anyway, as I said, I’m sure that there is a large degree of nostalgia but I still think Day of the Tentacle is worth some consideration. I’d certainly be interested if the game was recreated in high definition as they did with another humorous point and click adventure – monkey island.

The other game that I’m going to suggest we all play, although I’m not sure everyone would consider it to be a game is called Free Rice. Free Rice is a free crowd sourcing game in which you answer questions to accumulate grains of rice, which are donated to people who need them most. Free rice gradually increases the difficulty of it’s questions to try and get you to a point where you are always challenged by the questions, and then you don’t get bored. There is also some evidence that some mental tasks like the ones provided by free rice help to keep you sharp.

Free virtual rice is turned into actually free rice – funded by the advertising revenue the site generates.

If you’re interested in playing free rice go to I’ve created a group called Molly Pug’s Free Rice Extravaganza which anyone can join, so feel free to invite anyone else you think might want to participate. I wonder how much rice we can donate together!

This one was pretty easy for me – My gaming system of choice is the XBox360 – although it’s still worth considering to ask why. I’ve found two reasons, and they’ve both been recognised as factors in winning or losing out in the console wars.

The XBox360 was first to market of its generation and although I’ve been tempted I don’t have a PS3. When the PS3 came out people had to work a lot harder to understand it’s unique parallel processing style architecture, so it was hard to get the best out of the PS3 and as a result the quality of games suffered more that it should have, so I was never really tempted to invest. The other consideration would be the PC, but I try to keep my PC in my office for working rather than playing games so most of my gaming is done on the XBox.

The second reason is brand loyalty, but the big factor for me with brand loyalty is the XBox’s meta-game scoring system the xbox achievements. It really feels if I switch to PS3 and trophies I’ll have to start over! There are a couple of games that really make me want to get a PS3 – most notably Uncharted 3 and God of War 3, but just those games aren’t enough to tempt me to buy a whole new system – yet 😉