Grand Theft Auto V – Well That’s Over

Amazingly, despite what I said last time, I managed to get back to Grand Theft Auto V (GTAV) and complete the main story-line.  I can’t say I was overwhelmed by the ending.  However, given the way the story had been going, it wasn’t any worse than I was expecting. In fact, the best part for me was after the final credits and being thrown back into the sandbox world, a new ‘Strangers and Freaks’ mission appeared for Trevor at his home.  We get to meet his mother and find out some of the source of his various issues. Continue reading

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The Room Two: It’s A Kind Of Magic

I’ve been playing a few cheap/nearly free ‘adventure’ games on the Android lately.  These are of the ‘get item/use item in appropriate location’ style adventures.  Ever since the early days of these things (even before they became graphical and were text based) one problem the genre had was that sometimes there didn’t appear to be any logic involved in which item was used where. The worst examples become an exercise in simply trying every object you have on every object you can see.

The other issue is that once you really start thinking about these things, you wonder just how some objects got there in the first place, and how you’re finding them so fortuitously.  If a game does it well, you don’t notice this, but once you do notice it, you can’t stop. Continue reading

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Grand Theft Auto V – Is This The End?

Grand Theft Auto V (GTAV) is in a strange place for me.  I’ve put a lot of hours into the game – mostly playing around in the sandbox and doing a few side missions.  I suspect I’ve spent maybe 5% of those hours on the main story missions.  If that.  In fact, I’ve yet to finish the main storyline.  Truthfully, I’m not sure when (or if) I will. Continue reading

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Thief: More Whining

The more I play Thief, the more fun I’m having, and the more that some of the issues annoy me.  How these can both be true at the same time I have no idea, but that’s humans for you. Continue reading

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The Room Two – Again

The Room Two is (TR2) finally out on Android, and of course this entry would have been more timely if I’d written about it way back then.

I’ve been waiting for this impatiently since they announced it.  I really enjoyed The Room (TR) and its wonderfully polished and atmospheric take on the ‘one room’ type puzzle game.

TR2 is more of the same, but with a few caveats. Continue reading

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Thief (2014)

I’ve possibly mentioned it before, but Thief is one of favourite games.  I played it to death before I even had a graphics card that could render it at more than 320 by 200 pixels.  Thief 2: The Metal Age (T2) kept up the stealthy gameplay and the story of Garrett (such as it is) and kept me entertained for just as long. And despite its failings I also really enjoyed Thief 3: Deadly Shadows (T3) on the XBox.

Dishonoured, and to an extent Deus Ex: Human Revolutions both scratched my stealth ‘itch’ but I’ve always wanted the next Thief – whatever that might have been. Now, of course, I don’t need to wonder, a new Thief game is here, and I have it. Continue reading

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Sightless Touchscreens

I’ve mentioned before how replacing normal, tactile controls with those on a touchscreen doesn’t work well because the tactile, position context portion is lost.  Matthaeus Krenn is experimenting with the idea of making a touchscreen ‘contextless’.

It’s a sightly different take from the game controls mentioned previously, but it shares the same concept that you can start your ‘gesture’ anywhere on screen, without having to look at where you’re touching.  In this case, however, the number of fingers used for the gesture appears to be the trigger for what the gesture means.  Being without an iDevice I can’t play with it and see if that’s the extent of it, or if that’s just a starting point.

I’d really like to see more people experiment with these ideas, because they seem ideally suited to games and other applications where you”d normally expect physical controls to work.

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(Sometimes) You DO Need to Defragment Linux File Systems

I’m getting rather tired of the whole ‘article of faith’ from many Linux folk (both users and developers) who maintain that you don’t need to defragment Linux file systems. People have taken “there aren’t many times you do need to defragment” as “you never need to defragment”.

The Linux file systems are designed to minimise fragmentation.  They are much better at it than the Windows file system NTFS.  Linux file systems also seem to suffer less degradation in performance when they are fragmented, than NTFS does.

However, all file systems are compromises.  No-one has yet designed one that has great performance, assures you that your data has been 100% written to the disk in the event of an unexpected power-off or hardware fault, and doesn’t suffer defragmentation.

So under the right conditions, not only can even the newer Linux file systems become fragmented, but this fragmentation can impact performance. The conditions I’m most familiar with are having thousands of files that are being added to  randomly.  No matter how good the filesystem, you are either going to have to suffer performance hits, or it’s going to become fragmented over time.

Because of the ‘ancient wisdom’ of the ‘you never need to defragment’ concept, there aren’t any online defragmenters for the early file systems.  This means that defragmenting usually has to be done offline.  Time offline that some systems simply cannot afford.

Luckily,  those that understand filesystems have been coming around to the idea that you sometimes need to defragment, and are not only providing utilities to do this, but building ‘hooks’ into the filesystems themselves to allow it to be done safely.

XFS, EXT4 and BTRFS are those I know of that have defragment utilities of varying degrees and abilities.

So, can we please stop saying you never have to degragmnent a Linux filesystem?  Yes, it’s rare that most people will have to – but there are times it’s necessary.  And when it’s necessary it’s much better to have proper tools to do it, rather than having to take a system offline, or potentially damage your filesystem.



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The Graveyard

Tale-of-Tales (ToT) is a company that often releases things that might be called games only if your definition is broad enough.  In most cases they’re more about using the digital world to explore ideas or concepts – making them more like vaguely interactive stories, explorations of themes, or art (another word with many meanings).

The first game of theirs I played was The Path.  This was a set of ‘stories’ using Red Riding Hood and the Wolf as a theme for each one.  It had game like elements: collecting, exploration, ‘puzzles’ and the like.  If you ignore the ‘is it a game’ thing, then there were still many debates, arguments and discussions around what it all meant, whether it meant anything, whether it was pretentious – really  all the discussions you get around both real art, and pretentious things that want to be art. Or maybe are – depending on your definition. Continue reading

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The Room Two

When it comes to game releases on the two big ‘Desktop PC’ operating systems, Windows and Mac, the poor Mac users are often left waiting  - perhaps forever – for their own versions.

In the mobile world, the situation is reversed.  iDevices quite often get releases that never make it to Android, or get released days, weeks or months later.  Such is the case with The Room Two. Continue reading

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