Another great tip from long time friend of the show Sharky, has our collective ‘significant others’ moaning in distress. Lets face it people : If somebody told you you got to fly a Viper in the Battlestar Galactica universe, things like girlfriends, day-jobs, work, food and even to some extent breathable air , become secondary concerns. Remembering the massive plain of molten glass that was “our social life” after watching all 5 seasons of BSG back2back, being able do “dive back in” with this game .. is scary.
And so it should be. This beautiful game has been four years in the making by a dedicated team of programmers who must also have slipped into social oblivion if you see the level of detail this game has to offer. Not only can you fly your own Viper and ‘Kill some Toasters” ( I mean : being able to do that is a life goal .. right there !) The magic wands behind this game even give you the ability to do combat landings. YES ! Combat landings ! So spice up on your Colonial Shoptalk and be willing to “take some Ferlon” to go “Frack around” and “Nuke some Toasters” …
Oh speaking of Colonial Shoptalk. Do you have your Visa card out for this ? Ready to spend some Cubits ? (Perhaps you first need to place some bets on the Caprica Buccaneers to make sure) Well .. put it back because this game is FREE !
And you know the next level of goodness here don’t you. No need to have an expensive game console or be tied down to a specific operating system. Diaspora is available for the Mac, Linux and OSX … so you can do some multiplayer goodness with your Cross platform buddies.. So say we all !
A short flashback and history of the gaming industry
Techies and geeks like me tend to play a good game from time to time. In my case, that’s probably because I grew up in an era where the first consoles were making their appearance. So when Knightwise asked me if I could be his eyes and ears at the Press Event where they would tell us everything about the Nintendo Wii U, I didn’t hesitate at all. Suddenly I was getting flashbacks of early gaming experiences …
The Press event started with a presentation from Tom Palmaerts a trendwathcer. In all honesty, I don’t really like trendwatchers. But this time Tom grabbed my attention.
In the beginning there were Pixels and Sprites
So, we started out with a quick trip through the gaming history. First stop was Double Dragon. Oh … the memories … I remember that game from the good old Commodore 64 days. Those days pixel count and screen resolution wasn’t the most important aspect of games, we played because it was new … but times change.
Still I had flashbacks to the days where we had 3 lives in a game, and we had to start all over once we lost the third life. The days when you couln’t save games if you approached a difficult part of the game. The days when we had to wait 30 minutes for our Commodore 64 to load a game from an audio tape. The days when we had a square box with a stick and a single red button. The days when I ‘hacked’ my Commodore 64 using a paperclip and got hold of the BASIC code from the Kentilla game. The days when … oh … time to get back on topic …
What makes the Wii (and now also the Wii U) so unique is that there are a lot of games which are specifically targetted to families and groups of friends. Apparently 40% of parents play video games with their kids on a weekly basis. The main reasons are :
- because it’s fun to play games with your children
- because the kids asked you
- some way of checking the content of the games
- and probably because parents love it too 🙂
What makes the Wii U so unique ?
Thee Nintendo Wii U now comes with a GamePad. The GamePad has a Touch enabled LCD display. The advantage here is that you have a ‘second screen’ which you can use for quite a few things. For example the display on the GamePad cold be something completely different to what you seen on the TV screen. This could add an extra dimension to some of the games.
After the presentation we were invited to the first Game Room where we had the opportunity to test some of the games out. In New Super Mario Bros U the GamePad was used to help other players by placing blocks in the game world. Additionally the Nintendo people told us that you could use the GamePad to play as well. For example … lets say my son was playing a game on the Wii U, but I want to see todays football game. Normally this would mean my son would have to stop playing, but in the case of the Wii U he can continue his game on the GamePad while I’m watching TV.
We also played Mario’s Ghost, one of the 12 games in Mario Land. This game looked a bit like a PacMan clone. The goal of the game is to capture an invisible ghost by shining your flashlight on it. So 4 of us were playing as ghost chasers on the TV while one person was playing as the ghost on the GamePad. The person on the GamePad could see where everyone was running, but the rest of us couldn’t see the ghost on the big screen. I have to say … it was fun.
On to the 18+ Games Room
Enough of the family games, time for some hard core action … so we moved to the 18+ Games Room which was rather dark and spooky. In this room we had 4 more Wii U devices to play with, each with it’s own game ranging from Rayman Legends to Ninja Gaiden 3 and ZombiU. Zombies … now we’re talking blood, gore … and fun 🙂 My first impression … wow …
Actually, I had a few issues with the gameplay at first. Some things in the game had to be done on the GamePad while the TV screen was your first person view of the area. The GamePad was used for your inventory, picking up loot from corpses, seeing how much ammo you still had, sniping, and it also acted as a radar which allowed you to see where the zombies were. And that was where I had some troubles. Not sure if it was only me, but I seemed to have some issues looking at the two displays (TV and GamePad) and performing actions on one while watching the other. But the ZombiU game was amazing and I would love to play that game at home. Great settings (center of London), nice graphics, creepy atmosphere and lots of zombies to kill … what could be more fun.
To finish things up, we were informed that there would be two different Nintendo Wii U packs. The Wii U Basic Pack has a white Wii U system with 8 Gb of flash storage, and of course white controllers and a white GamePad. The Premium Pack contains a black Wii U system with 32 Gb of flash storage, black controllers and a black GamePad. Additionally the Premium Pack comes with some additional accessories like a stand for the GamePad, a charging station for the GamePad and the Nintendo Land game. Both packs should be available in stores on the 30 th of november. As for the price, they didn’t tell us, and we were informed to ask the distributors.
As for the question if the Wii U is truly an evolution of the Game Console, I would have to give you a very vague answer. We did get some time to play with the device, but not enough time to really form an opinion on the use of the GamePad. But surely the GamePad can add an extra dimension to certain games. But if it would allow me to play the ZombiU game then I would probably buy it 🙂
More pictures of the event can be found in my Flickr set and if you are interested in a Dutch version of this article you can read it on my own website.
About the author
Stefaan is a Software Developer by trade, but also active as a Tech Reporter and Podcaster mostly in Dutch / Flemish. You can find out more about him on his blog at iTutor Podcast or check out the Tech45 Podcast.
With the shiny fancy walled garden that OSX Mountain Lion is today, we sometimes forget what is under the hood. Apple’s minimalistic and well designed interface might be clutter free, but the downside of this “Designer kitchen of computing” is that there are not a lot of hints to what powers lurk beneath its glossy surface. Unlike cluttered Windows (and Linux) programs from days gone by, riddled with cascading menu’s and massive help files, you have to be “in the know’ to access some of the features.
So today we have the A to Z of OSX terminal commands for you. Have fun revealing the power of the Unix like heat that beats in your big cat and have fun with THIS A TO Z index of commmand line commands. You can get started with some “basics” , make your Mac talk with the “say” command , or read the bible from Apple on the command line.
As a real cross platform slider you of course don’t have to be physically at your machine. You can turn your mac into an SSH server and connect from any other system using the terminal on your Linux machine, or from another mac. Or from your IOS device, your Android Smartphone or your Windows box.
A Dutch short scifi movie featured in Amsterdam about a boy and a girl. Are you asleep yet ? Sounds unimpressive .. doesn’t it. However the folks from “Tears of Steel” turned it into 12 minutes of awesomeness. Lets call it a passionate lovescene between Ridley Scott in Bladerunner, Minority report and The Matrix. Just watch .. just … watch ….
Since I’ve ported my brand new 11.6 inch Macbook Air to Ubuntu Linux, I’ve noticed that I seldom boot back into OSX on this little machine. Life is good on the Ubuntu side. Because for where it might lack powerful video editing tools or multitrack recorders that come with the same ease of use as Mac, Ubuntu (and Linux in general) shines when it comes to the myriad of free software that is available. Many blogposts will tell you the “top 5 apps” you NEED to install on your Linux machine, but you might know those lists by heart because they always offer the same apps. Today I’ll serve you up three applications that don’t necessarily show up on those lists , but for me make all the difference.
Though, with the Unity interface, Ubuntu might have moved on from spinning desktop cubes and wobbly windows, ‘looks’ are still a big part of the experience. Because 80 percent of your “post install” work consists of looking for “the right wallpaper”, I decided to ‘have somebody do that for me’ : Enter “Variety” a light, well written and awesome application that will switch wallpapers for you. You can choose the interval time, but also many many external sources of wallpaper material. Predefined Flickr groups of wallpapers are just one of the options, you can have Variety search Flickr for certain tags and keywords and pull down those wallpapers for you automatically. Luckily Variety also has the option to add your own folder filled with your personal wallpapers and mix everything up a bit with the external feeds. The menu bar icon up top lets you know it’s been installed and gives you access to all the settings. A cute little app that gives my tweaked system a little extra shine. (AND lets you use the fantastic KNIGHTWISE.COM WALLPAPERS on your machine Available from the Ubuntu software center or via sudo apt-get install variety
Although it was a pretty tough call between ‘soundconverter’ and ‘kazam screencaster’ to make this list, I chose the latter. Having to “capture” some internet video lately, I decided to give my Ubuntu machine the chance to prove its worth. Kazam is an online screen recorder that does its job well. You can record your entire screen, or sections of it, and have that video recorded in H264/mp4 format or VP8. You get to pick the framerate and the folder where the recordings are stored. No rocket science here. However the beauty comes with the combination of Kazam and Pulseaudio Volume control that let you record a much needed ‘sound input combination’. You cannot only record the screen with audio coming FROM ‘the sceen’ (your computer output) OR from your Microphone .. You can combine those 2 sound inputs and give “live” commentary on whatever youtube video you are grabbing. For a screencaster like me thats essential, AND damn handy when you want to record Google hangouts and the like. The output is very reliable and the process is dead easy. Kazam can also be found in the Ubuntu Software Center or via sudo apt-get install kazam
As the winner of the “Ubuntu app showdown” competition Rightlead is an RSS reader. Whow ! I hear you say, another RSS reader ? In order to make this list it better come with belly dancing Ewoks as a key feature because when it comes to RSS reader we have seen them all. The kicker with Lightread is that it constantly “syncs” with your Google Reader feeds ( you subscribe to new stuff, your stuff is in Lightread ) Lightread is simple, elegant, lets you tag and star articles and export them to Instapaper and Pocket. No rocket science but brilliant in its simplicity. I dare say that Lightread could be a native Mac app .. thats how good its done. I boot it up when I open my machine to read my feeds instead of surfing the web. To see is to believe. Lightread is available from the Ubuntu Software Center or via sudo apt-get install lightread.