Tag Archives: Windlands

PlayStation VR 3 Months On

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I’ve had my PSVR for a few months now, and I think it’s great.

BUT… you can’t help but notice that it was not really supported over the Christmas period.

I share my thoughts on why this might be, and what the future might hold for my PSVR.

Jx9

Video Blogging & 2016 Game Awards

Happy New Year?

Well regardless of how you feel about the new year, and the festive season in general, I hate it. To me it’s a gigantic “end of term” report card. It’s a time to reflect on what you’ve done since the previous new year, and invariably bring forth a seasonal depression when you realize that actually, you’ve not done very much.

I’ve had a particularly dull year – enhanced by the fact that 2016 was pretty crappy all round. The media have really jumped on the doom and gloom bandwagon with celebrity deaths, unexpected election results, refugee crises, mass migration, cold war re-ignition and appalling devastation and terror in the name of religion. ūüôĀ

Well, I can’t fix any of that, but I have decided to contribute some of my measly knowledge to society in a more visual and all round proactive way. As well as increasing the frequency of the written stuff, I’ve already started to record some video.

My plan is simple, I have no particular focus for the videos, but they will be about code, and electronics, and technology, and recording my efforts to learn, and perhaps even teach, tech engineering from first principles. As always, if anyone finds this useful, its a bonus.

Right, on with the ceremony!

The OneLoneCoder Blog Video Game Awards 2016

Welcome to the inaugural OneLoneCoder Blog Video Game Awards! Here we award Javid’s to the best games I played during 2016. Note, that this may not necessarily be the year the game was released. Let’s introduce your incredibly enthusiastic host – Javidx9!!!

thejavidaward_lores

“Here, Have a Javid…”

Now without further ado, let’s get onto the awards! <insert generic fanfare>

Best Major Game

Also known as “AAA” titles, this category is for the big boys, millions of pounds spent on a media budget alone, and usually a very large file size!

Nominations

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Naughty Dog

Final Fantasy XV
Square Enix

Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate
Ubisoft Quebec

Dirt Rally
Codemasters

And the Winner is…

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.

“What a superb game. Not only is it engrossing to play, but it oozes game engine polish at every opportunity. The fact that the playing modality radically changes whilst you play and you don’t even notice is a testament to the sheer master-craft of its¬†designers. Only a game where people not playing can thoroughly enjoy watching it being played is truly worthy of a Javid. Well Done!” – Jx9

Best Minor Game

These games come from the lesser known developers or even “indy” developers. They will never gain huge acceptance, some people will think they’re just plain weird, but what do they know. Often the best games are the ones where they spent money on the game, and not on it’s marketing.

Nominations

Windlands
Psytec Games Ltd

The Witness
Thekla

Goat Simulator
Coffee Stain Studios

Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture
The Chinese Room

Elite Dangerous
Frontier Developments

And the Winner is…

The Witness

“It is rare that a game today¬†connects with me on so many levels. The Witness is a game hampered by its trailer and social networking as it can’t give away the secrets that lie within. The intelligent design of this intellectual and ‘explorational’ behemoth is without comparison, and I am certain¬†the developers sacrificed years of their lives fine tuning what I can only describe as not just the best game of 2016, but perhaps, just maybe, the greatest and deepest game I have ever played.” – Jx9

Special Mention Of The Year

This award goes to a game that may not be up for being the best or the worst, but there was something about it that just makes you think “yeah… it’s alright that”. This year’s special mention goes to Windlands.

“Perhaps it’s a gimmick, or a fleeting novelty, but the sensation of flying still puts a grin on my face every time I boot it up. Take a good run up, look sideways and jump. And DON’T LET GO!” – Jx9

Second Place Turd Of The Year

Automatically, according to the Javid Academy Rules, Destiny wins the First Place winner of this award, therefore to make this category more relevant, we select the runner up.

And the Winner is…

I Am Setsuna

“Oh. This was disappointing. You see, it’s not a bad game, just not a very interesting one. Indeed, it does channel a little nostalgia for the ‘good old days’ of console role playing games, but playing it I can’t help asking for a little more, well, colour, depth, strategy, story, exploration, music, humour…, you know, like how they used to be!” – Jx9

 

So that’s all for 2016. Join me in the new year. I’m trying to get better at this!

Jx9

 

Review: Windlands – Sweat & Neck Ache and Totally Worth It

NOTE: No screenshots are contained in this review (because I’ve not figured out how to do it yet with the PSVR – look at some here www.windlands.com)

Well, today I’ve gave Windlands by Psytec Games Ltd a go. That’s not true actually. For the last 3 weeks I’ve been playing this exclusively. My last binge, World of Final Fantasy, got put on hold whilst I took a punt on something for my Playstation VR. I knew nothing about this game, but I wanted something to show my buddies at a Poker night that would demonstrate the PSVR in a manner they could get to grips with that was not a puzzle game, or “experience”. My poker buddies are a great bunch, really funny, but have such a narrow¬†taste in games, that if it does not begin with FI and end with FA (note: a banned word in my house) it doesn’t get a look in. Fortunately, I think I’ve a reputation among the bunch as not just being the geek, but a trusted geek, and when I asked the host if it was OK for me to bring the PSVR¬†round, he jumped at the chance – I needed to impress. I had Thumper, Tumble and the demo disc with DriveClub. The latter¬†might have been fun for a bit but would get a little predictable, and the other two were probably just too boring (though I think they’re great fun). Wanting to give the guys an experience they would never forget (phrasing) I hurriedly scanned the PlayStation store for something that looked vomit inducing, and most importantly – cheap.

Windlands it was then. It only had 12 ratings, but all five star. It was from a company I’d never heard of but seemed to be some sort of indy dev collective. I was attracted to the fact that I had to look for this – clearly the marketing budget was minimal. The elitist snob inside my gamebrain thought this was a good sign, as mere “regular” gamers would overlook a potential gem, and I’d have the scoop all to myself.

It downloaded fast and I thought I’d give it a little try before leaving for the poker game.

The VR buzz kicked in – “WARNING! THIS IS A FULL MOTION VR GAME!” floated in front of me. Then a load of options appeared that narrowed down how I wanted to consume this experience. Naturally I just X-mashed this until it went away and then it started. Well almost. Some frankly very poor voice acting introduced some cheesy dribble about, I don’t know, some robot and an island and crystals etc (x-mashing was not helping at this point).

I appeared in a room. I looked around and it’s a very static world. Though it tracked beautifully, there are no animations, just some dust floating about and a slightly lo-fi soundscape playing. Damn I thought, have I been duped? Has my gamebrain snob got this one wrong? I pressed a stick to walk forward – whaaaaaaat? What just happened? What was that sensation? I pushed a bit more, and immediately thought to myself that this might actually be the single most exhilarating experience of my entire life! I’d taken two steps forward in a clearly Unity engine static game world, but it felt like I’d just awoken in the f%^$ing Matrix! You see, I’d not had this with PSVR yet. I’d driven cars, flown space craft, stacked blocks, and err, thumped, err giant aztec space beetle head things, but now I was in a real game world! As per usual, the left stick moves your legs, and the right stick rotates your torso. In a very, rigid, segmented way. You see, to minimize the chance of involuntary dinner removal, it rotates your view in chunks (though the head rotation movement is smooth). Don’t like this, Game Options, Enable Smooth Rotate – Ow my Eyes – Don’t like this, Game Options, Disable Smooth Rotate – Ahh that’s better. Actually, the chunky turning movement is very clever. After a minute or so of chunking, I did not even notice it, and combined with the head movement you only need it for large turning maneuvers.

I walked towards the brightness and stepped outside and a giant (and I mean huge) robot tried to grab me and then walked off and sat down for¬†a sulk. I looked around and walked around a bit. I had the VR smile from ear to ear as the sensation of actually being in this artificial world was just great, it really was. Then I pressed the X button. I lept what felt like 20 meters into the air, in a really pleasing floaty way. It felt like I was on a roller coaster. This will truly be one of those game experiences I’ll never forget. I genuinely believed I’d just shot into the sky. Whilst in the air, I looked down and saw the ground coming rapidly towards me. I actually bent my knees as if to soften the blow. My vocabulary is simply not sufficient to describe the sensation. My biggest fear was that this feeling would wear off with more play, so I jumped sparingly. I took running jumps, and realized I could wall jump (a la Super Metroid). Soon I was bouncing all over, and I was still stood just outside of my original spawning point. With each leap my brain sent physical sensations to my stomach and limbs – I was feeling this world. And I’ve not felt sick once.

The game quickly gets its point across. You have to explore a complicated collection of ruins, forests, and mountains to collect crystals which unlock more areas to explore, and tablets, which really are just something to collect. These collectibles are are hidden in places that require dexterity in order to reach, so wall jumping and running is a must, but the most important item is the only tool you get – a pair of physics-y elasticated grappling hooks. Now the game has really started, and you will learn to use these hooks as an extension of your body. By default, you can only grip foliage (yup) which forces some thinking from the player in order to overcome obstacles. You will need to manipulate your momentum to swing between grappling points and effectively fly around the world. Please bear in mind how exciting just walking forward was! Swinging and flying is intense! You really feel it. I was pouring with sweat. The sensation of movement along with the reasonable yet genuine difficulty in getting to a high up location, coupled with the feeling of genuine loss when you mess it up and get sent back to your last checkpoint (of which there are few), is just superb. I was gripping the joypad so hard my hands were hurting – I MUST NOT LET GO, I MUST NOT MISS THIS JUMP! Brilliant.

I had to top playing after two hours, I was exhausted and my neck was sore from all the looking. I took off the headset and found myself facing completely away from my TV. I had a break for 20 minutes, and then dived straight back in, and it’s been like this for the last three weeks. It’s an addiction, such a fantastic experience from such a simple concept.

Windlands will take about 8 hours to beat on “Normal”. I don’t care though, it has replay value, and has built in speedrun leader-board challenges, which really do¬†make you try your hardest to optimize the most perfect route, and even exploit the odd glitch here and there. I firmly believe that this is a first generation VR masterpiece, and I hope it is a sign of how the genre will develop. It’s not just VR for the sake of it, it really exploits the medium¬†to provide a very natural interface to a gaming world. Well done Psytec Games Ltd, Well done.

My Poker buddies liked the demo where you headed a football.