Sunday 31 January 2016

Having trouble with Panda's comic on mobiles?

It has been brought to my attention that some people are having trouble getting the comic to load in a readable resolution on their smartphones, and I'm fairly certain that I've found the root cause of the problem.

After a little QA here at United by Glue I think we've narrowed the problem down to the mobile version of the site which appears to bit-crush the life out of images making text indecipherable.

Is there a way around this?

Yes, there is. Tapping on the image opens it in a new window, where it is not only displayed at its full resolution, but it's all easy to zoom in and scroll the image.

Alternatively, you can scroll to the bottom of the page, and click on ' View web version', which takes a little longer, and makes the site hard to navigate on small screens, so probably don't do that.

I am trying to find the time to sit down and fix the problem in the mobile version of the site, but I don't have a heap of spare time in which I'm not tired right now, but when it does happen, I will most definitely let you all know.

Until then, I hope I've made reading Panda Rhu on the go just a little easier.

Thursday 21 January 2016

DreamWeb vs Metrocide: The Illicit Dreams of Adolescence

I made a recent return to Metrocide that reminded me of things that I had left half said the first time around. I originally had a bit about a game called DreamWeb in it, but I cut it out so that I could expand on it here instead of leaving something half said.

The story goes sort of like this:

There are certain key-phrases, attributes of the setting, and elements of presentation in Metrocide that reminde me of 1994's cyberpunk, top-down adventure game, DreamWeb. A game that was refused classification in Australia, which is something I wouldn't know until I read a 1996 article on Australian game censorship in PC PowerPlay. I'm fairly, but not entirely, certain about that. I remember the article, but we're reaching deep into the way back here. Regardless, it was at the time of consumption that I'd had the game for two years.

Had Australia had an R18+ rating for games at the time, I'm pretty sure that DreamWeb would've received classification, even though there are some aspects of the game that might even prevent it from getting classified under the new system.

While the violence is far less realistic than modern games, it is far more immediate. Far less removed from the world we live in. There are also some scenes of said violence, including interrupting a couple mid coitus so that you can kill one of them while the other hides under the bed, and performing a mercy killing on one of your victims that you've already fatally maimed, that might see it refused classification under the new system.

I should explain.

In DreamWeb you play as Ryan, who is either saving the world, or a serial killer who has a dysfunctional relationship with reality and/or sensory input. It's all kind of left open for interpretation.

I remember going back and forth on it throughout my two playthroughs. I remember a lot of the thought processes involved with the playing of that game. I remember the discomfort at the tasks at hand, and I remember trying to wrap my head around what was going on.

I also remember having this distinct sense of dread right up until the end of the game that I would be expected to kill Ryan's girlfriend. It seemed like the kind of thing that the game was going to ask me to do. It was already full of unreasonable justifications for some fairly appalling stuff, and I was genuinely relieved when the game ended, and it had never come up.

It is clear that the developers' intentions were to make the player uncomfortable.

In the prevention of the apocalypse, you're committing some fairly straightforward murder. You might be saving the world, but you aren't fighting most of these people. You're navigating their security systems, while they hide from you, because you're there to take their lives.

It's not the immediate kill or be killed scenarios that games normally present you with, and then there's the potential that Ryan's brain cut loose some time ago, and you're just riding his whole scene into the ground. You aren't a warrior. You're a killer.

Metrocide is similar in this regard, except your killings are less elaborate. You're stalking your 'contracts' with a much more mundane sense of purpose. You're not saving the world, and you're not going to extraordinary lengths. You're getting paid, and you're leaving them on the asphalt. It's less complicated.

This is something to which I am not desensitised. In either game. It's still a jarring experience. Well, I haven't played DreamWeb in close to two decades, but thinking about some of the scenes still makes me uncomfortable. Metrocide is a little more straight forward. It's easier to play. Right up until the game tells you that your mark is on their way home, and that they were carrying a picture of their husband and a carton of milk.

If you're anything like me, this is enough to turn you on the armed gangs in the area in order to achieve your goals, who it is much easier to hold responsible for the state of affairs in which you have found yourself.

Despite these similarities, the approaches are entirely different, and the genres reflect this. DreamWeb is a story and you're there to hit the beats. You're Ryan, doing what you're told, and you're only real choices are whether or not to keep playing. You're a witness. Metrocide gives you a goal and a set of rules, and then it leaves you to make your own mess.

In this way, Metrocide is more reminiscent of the early Syndicate and Grand Theft Auto games, which is a comparison I drew in the review. DreamWeb, on the other hand, is not like anything else that I've played.

If you're interested in playing DreamWeb, it is still illegal in Australia (it was never granted classification), but it can be downloaded for free from the ScummVM (which you'll probably need to run it) website. There are some other games available for free on the site, inclduing the incredible Beneath a Steel Sky, which is another amazing science fiction game.

Metrocide, if you're interested in that fairly excellent thing, is still available through SteamGood Old GamesHumbleGreenman GamingGamersgate, and the App Store.

Wednesday 20 January 2016

A Spot of Building

There are grand plans for it when it's finished. Well, not grand, but grander. Right now it is mostly used as a landing strip for sandwiches that I toss up so that I can eat them in bed. Needless to say, there has been an increase in the number of sandwiches being consumed in bed.

Imagine that you're already at a point where, most days, you're at two out of three meals a day being of the sandwich format. Plus, maybe, some sort of smaller sandwich type snack. Most days.

This is your starting point. Well, it's ours.

Any new advancements made to broaden the sandwich based meal horizon is something of which advantage will be taken.

Though sandwiches were being consumed in the bed previously, there was a limit on this because there was nowhere for unconsumed sandwiches, partially consumed sandwiches, or the resulting crumbed sandwich bag or plate to reside.

This is changed. We have homes for all those things.

It would be fair, and honest, to say that this sandwich based functionality is not a temporary situation. The plan now is that this sort of sandwich convenience be ongoing. If push came to shove and hard decisions had to be made, I would live among the boxes, and keep the 2220mm high sandwich table.

All in all, Panda and I are happy with what's going on here. Sandwiches are more or less a guarantee of that.

Wednesday 13 January 2016

An Open Letter to Capcom

Dear Capcom,

Seriously bro?! What is happening over there at your place?

Where all the games at?!

CAPCOM: What about the production costs of making these games run on PC?

I hear you. I do. I understand that you are in the financial phase that accountants refer to as the 'Where is all my money at?' phase. That's not a good phase to be in. You make some money on some games, and you turn around and spend it on other games, and then you need money for pudding, and there is no pudding money left, so you have to mix sugar with other non-pudding foods for that faux-pudding experience.

I've been there.

It's rough.

But wait, hear me out for a minute or two. You've made games for PC before. It's true. Call someone in development and ask them if you don't believe me. It's a crazy true thing.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of the games that you've already released to PC that I would gladly exchange for real money that you can keep. You keep the money, and I will keep the right to download any of these games onto my computer.

Breath of Fire IV and 6
Dino Crisis 1 and 2
Ghosts 'n' Goblins
Ghouls 'n' Ghosts
Forgotten Worlds
Mega Man X, X3, X4, X5, X6, X7, X8, Legends, and Legends 2
Monster Hunter Frontier
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Justice for All and Trials and Tribulations
Street Fighter, II, Super II, Super II Turbo, Alpha, and Alpha 2
Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo

This is not a comprehensive list of all of the PC released titles that are not available through Steam, just the ones I'm concerned about. I didn't include the missing Resident Evil/Biohazard games, because it seems like you have a plan there, and I also didn't include a bunch of games with which I am either unfamiliar or in which my interest is only passing.

I also didn't include X-Men: Children of the Atom, because I am fairly certain that Marvel have taken their toys and gone home, in so much as they've started squirrelling away their IP for more truly sub-par gaming experiences that are deep within their control, but if I thought for a moment it was within your control, I would be all over that.

CAPCOM: What about all the pirates?

There is this argument that people say that you've been saying that you don't release all these old games onto platforms like Steam, because, and I shit you not, you are worried about pirates. The number of minutes that it would take me to illegally acquire and start playing any one of these games today, while I am sitting here on my PC, would be counted in minutes, probably on a single hand.

The piracy argument doesn't fly.

Or float.

It's a terrible argument. What I have to do currently in order not to pirate these games is buy a new console or keep 3 old ones. 3! 3 Consoles that I have no interest in owning outside of the handful of retro titles that I still want to play. I could purchase a new console so that I can get access to some of these games on the corresponding console specific marketplaces on which they are no doubt available, but I'm not really keen on spending a few hundred dollars just so that I can have the opportunity to spend more money to rebuy games I already own.

I already rebuy games that I already own, and do so on a semi-regular basis. I rebuy them because of the convenience of not having to live inside multiple platforms. I don't want to own all of these different plastic boxes that are in various stages of decay so that I can play my old games.

I want to go to one place and play my games. I want to always be able to go to that place and play my games. That is what I want. That's why everyone hates Origin. We want to live in one dark little corner and throw money in there so that we don't ever have to leave. You could have some of that money, Capcom. It could be yours. I want it to be yours.

Once our relationship is more firmly established we can start to talk about things like Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, DarkStalkers ResurrectionStreet Fighter III: 3rd Strike Online Edition, Okami, Ultimate Ghouls 'n' Ghosts, and Final Fight: Double Impact.

Let's be serious. That is where the relationship is headed.

Yours if you want me,

Jacob C W Henwood