20Dec '14
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Tune Den: A Story About My Uncle

A Story About My Uncle does not have weapons, armor, or any shiny loots. You do not play a grand adventurer, a hero or villain changing the world. You play as a young boy searching for his missing uncle, armed only with a grappling hook and a suit that lets you jump very far. You won’t fight your way through enemies but you will explore a strange and wonderful world using the few tools that you have. The emphasis in this game is the story, the scenery, and flying through the air at dizzying speeds.

The story is short (it took me 6 hours to play through it) but cute and heartwarming. It’s narrated by a father telling a story to his daughter about when he was young and his inventor uncle disappeared for months. The voiceovers seem a little off sometimes but other than that, I think they’re well done. The graphics are quite beautiful, as you’ll see in the screenshots at the bottom of this post. And while some of the level designs were frustrating to get through, the mechanics overall were a lot of fun.

But enough of that. This is a Tune Den post, which means that we’re going to talk about the music. In A Story About My Uncle, your character is by himself, facing these obstacles alone. And there’s almost no monsters to speak of, so the soundtrack (or lack of it) is what’s used to set the mood. Read more →

09Dec '14
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Tapestries and new Wurm music

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about Wurm but now I have some exciting news that I want to share!

Tapestries

The dev team has been working on adding more decorative items which are sorely needed in Wurm. Among them are tapestries, an idea that I love because they’re strongly associated with Medieval times and there have been next to no wall decorations before. They are still working on implementing them but in the meantime, Wurm’s PR officer RedBaron held a competition for players to submit their art to be placed on an new in-game tapestry. After I saw some other players had submitted their own Photoshopped screenshots, I decided to try it myself for fun. I spent several hours creating a bunch of submissions, submitted them, and then promptly forgot about the whole thing because I never thought I would win. You can imagine my surprise when a friend congratulated me after I was announced as the winner! Read more →

23Nov '14
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Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna)

Loon spiritI have a fondness for winter and the North that I can’t quite describe. Falling snow is beautiful, cold temperatures are invigorating, the silence is serenity, the northern lights are downright breathtaking…the world somehow feels more real and alive when it’s below freezing.

I know I’m in the minority and that most people would rather have sunshine and balmy weather year round. Perhaps that’s why I have a certain fascination with the Inuit people. After all, they’ve lived with the snow and ice for a very long time.

You can then imagine my delight when I saw Never Alone on Steam. Here was an Inupiat (Alaskan Inuit) fable about a girl and an arctic fox told through a video game. I bought it in an instant and I’m glad I did.

I could tell you about how it’s a puzzle platformer that could be played as a single player or co-op. But really, that’s just semantics. What makes this game different is its story.

Half of the experience comes from the narrator telling the story in the Inupiat language (with subtitles). It’s not very hard to imagine sitting around a campfire and listening to this tale while blizzard winds howl outside. It’s the visuals and the gameplay that complete the other half of the experience, the one where you are inside the fable, guiding the pair through a treacherous quest to save a village. Read more →

21Nov '14
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The rough start of a legacy

One of the gaming blogs that I follow is MmoQuests.com, which is not just about MMOs but also a lot of different games. One of the games Stargrace talks a fair bit about is The Sims 3, in particular her legacy families. The Legacy Challenge has you begin with a single founder, a huge lot, and almost no money to furnish it. You then have to continue your founder’s family line through 10 generations and try to build up your house, your money, and your fame.

Now I hadn’t played any of The Sims series in a long time. I remember playing the first game in the series when it was all new and shiny, which was over 10 years ago now. I hadn’t really thought about it until I started reading Stargrace’s posts. The Sims 3 looked to be a lot more fun than The Sims 1 so several months later, I finally caved and bought the Starter Pack on Origin. I’ve only had it for about a month now and I’ve already bought 4 expansions and 2 stuff packs, downloaded god knows how many player-created items, and logged over 200 hours. So Stargrace, if you’re reading this, I’d just like to say that this is all your fault. 😉 Read more →

08Nov '14

Play your games in borderless windows

Back when I played WoW, I used to run it in “fullscreen windowed” mode as opposed to regular fullscreen. This meant it was running as if it was in windowed mode, but lacked the taskbar and the normal title bar and borders of a window. It was fantastic for tabbing out a lot (like reading raiding guides or waiting for loading screens) and has been known to improve FPS in certain cases. I’ve even had problems before where alt-tabbing just once can make it harder to get back into the game (I’m looking at you, Skyrim). Which makes it unfortunate when games don’t have this option.

In this case, I came across this problem with The Sims 3 in fullscreen mode. I’d often switch to my browser to look up guides or information, or just to read something while there was a loading screen or my Sims were sleeping. The problem is that the game automatically pauses while you’re tabbed out, even if you’re on a loading screen. I tried windowed mode but the title bar and window borders would push part of the game off the screen. And running the game at a smaller resolution is just wrong.

It took some searching before I discovered what I was looking for was called “borderless windows”. There’s actually a couple of small programs that let you do this with just about any game or program:

I haven’t tested out ShiftWindow but I have tried the other two on The Sims 3. They do quite a good job, although there is still a slight border left (only a few pixels on each side). Borderless Gaming has a slightly easier to use interface, but it uses up more memory than Windowed Borderless Gaming (about 15 MB compared to 5MB). Chances are any gaming computer has a lot of RAM so memory usage probably isn’t a big deal for you. Windowed Borderless Gaming says that this makes it easier to stream gameplay so these programs might be of interest to those of you who use Twitch.tv regularly.

If you do decide to try borderless windows, let me know in the comments how it turns out! It would be interesting to see which games it works with and if it improves your experience.

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