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Tag: Gaming

Why on earth do people spend so much time playing social games on sites such as Facebook?

I know that they appeal to people’s reward response by enticing you to unlock the next achievements, but lets face it, social games lack any form of depth at all, get boring quickly, and largely need you to have a lot of friends playing to be able to make much progress, thus ensuring a healthy user base for the game publisher to milk.

Now, I am not saying that all computer games are boring, or that makers of traditional computer games are not interested in profits, but there is a world of difference between real computer games and social computer games.

Let me use The Sims Social as an example. I got myself The Sims 3 recently, and have been enjoying it immensely. The game has a lot of depth, with many non-linear choices you can make, and many, many different approaches you can take. When you get bored, you can download additional content to get that perfect house you are after, or get the expansion packs giving you more choices of what to do. The options are limitless.

Comparing this to The Sims Social on Facebook, which I had tried out before this, I have no idea why anybody would choose to play the latter. The Sims Social suffers from all the usual drawbacks of social games such as needing to have real friends to play with (which Sims 3 does not care about), limited choices in what to do or buy, lack of depth, and a generally poorer gameplay experience. Many of the aspects of the original Sims games that make it fun are left out of The Sims Social, and it feels more like a Sims-themed clone of Farmville than a true Sims game.

Now I am not saying that I will never get bored of The Sims 3 – I certainly will eventually get bored of it – but the value I am getting out of it is astronomically higher than The Sims Social, so for what reason should I choose to play it?

Social gaming is starting to eclipse traditional gaming in terms of number of players, and this I cannot understand. Maybe I never will.

In any event, I am quite happy to leave my Facebook account idle while getting my gaming fix from what I consider real games.


Cole loves playing computer games, much like any other 9-year-old, but he has frequently expressed interest in playing my collection of antique games that I used to play when I was a kid. I am talking about games which are over twenty years old here.

One of the games that I hauled out of my computer’s ‘attic’ is Into the Eagles Nest, which was the first computer game I ever played way back in 1989.

I loaded it up in DOSBox (which runs this game perfectly) and the memories came flooding back. I lost many, many hours of my life to this game.

Basically, you run around a choice of two castles filled to the brim with Nazi soldiers trying to rescue the prisoners., and along the way you can collect art and ammo. That is pretty much all there is to it.

Awesomeness in its day

It was one of the early third person shooters, and was played in a top-down view. The graphics are laughable today, but back in the day, on a Hercules monitor, this was awesome stuff!

And if you didn’t have a PC back then, it was also available on the Apple II, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, so don’t think that multi-platform games are a new thing.


Over the last several years, I have been consistently trying to find a decent free MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game, for all two of you who have never seen this term before).
I have met with very limited success, since I have found most of these games lacked any kind of depth.

Yeah, I could play something worthwhile like World of Warcraft, but those games cost money, which when you are on a budget, free online games can sound very attractive.

A few weeks ago, I discovered Voyage Century Online, and I must say I am very impressed by this game.

This nautical-themed game is available for free, but what had prevented me from even looking at this game before was the rather hefty download – 1.7 gigs worth. This used to be far too big for me to consider, although now with an unlimited fast internet connection at home, this was no longer an issue for me, and I dived in.

The game places you as a starting-out adventurer in the 15th – 16th century world of trading, piracy and adventure.

You can choose the life of a merchant, ferrying goods from port to port, a pirate robbing on the high seas, or an explorer making discoveries, or if you really prefer, you could focus on being a miner, lumberjack, or even a tailor.

The scope within the game is immense, and there are many quests to keep you busy.

The playability of the game is good, and the graphics and 3D engine are superb, offering smooth and visually appealing playing.

One slightly odd aspect of the game is that, since the game originated in China and the English version is a translation, some of the English text appears odd. This in no way impacts how the game plays but it is noticeable for a native English speaker such as myself.

My character in the game is still a relatively low level character, so there is a lot in the game that I have not seen yet, but I can definitely recommend this game as one of the best MMORPG’s I have ever played.


Anyone who kows me will tell you that I am mad about simulation games, especially business sims.

Last week, I got Hotel Giant, and was really looking forward to giving it a try, even though it is a bit of a dated game. That is when I hit a bit of a snag.

After installing the game, and trying to run it, the game kept on crashing, and thus it was time to go and sniff around the forums.

It turns out that Hotel Giant is not at all compatible with Windows XP SP2 and upwards, and having Vista, this meant that I was affected. Worse still, there was no patches or hacks to get this to work.

Now, the fact that an oldish game has issues running on a more modern machine is not unsurprising. What is surprising is that the game is still being sold in the shops, without a single warning or disclaimer stating that the game won’t run on newer machines.

This is what really annoys me. JoWood, the game’s publisher, has made no effort to fix the situation, so unwitting consumers such as myself end up out-of-pocket a few euro for what amounts to an expensive coaster.


Flash gaming has taken off in a big way. Personally, though, I have had little time for them, as I find most of them interesting for about 5 minutes and then they become repetitive to the point of exasperation.

For those of you who would like to remedy this and write an actual decent Flash game – or just join the thousands others who want to get in on some of that action games like Farmville are enjoying, I found a site which lists quite a few good Flash game engines, with a few other resources thrown in to boot.

They cover 2D and 3D games, and include things like physics engines too.

Now go out there and create that Flash game you always dreamed of…


The PC-GPE, or to give it its full name, the PC Game Programmer”s Encyclopedia is ancient. I can remember treasuring my copy of it I had way back in high school, and I had thought that it had disappeared.

The PC-GPE is a comprehensive collection of articles on how to program various bits of hardware with particular emphasis on games. So things like how to program a VGA card, or joystick are covered.

Most of the hardware covered would appear archaic by today”s standards, but it was a classic in its day, and still has useful nuggets.


Well, as I said in a previous post, I got Chris Sawyer’s Locomotion for Christmas. After I installed it and tried to run it, I almost lost heart. The game through up a Visual C++ runtime error, and no settings I changed could fix it.

Checking online, I found a forum discussing it, but the link they supplied no longer appeared to work, so I had an idea.

I downloaded the No-CD crack from GameCopyWorld, and lo and behold, the game now runs perfectly.

This seems to indicate that Locomotion has a bit of an issue detecting CD drives. My drive is on E: (often the default is D:) and my drive is also a DVD-writer. Which of these is the root cause of the problem, I do not know, but by installing the small fix, it does not matter much anymore.