Tired Gamer’s Game Room

Destiny? I chose the original Half-Life instead

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Life has been busy lately – my lack of updates here is not for a lack of effort – and no, I haven’t been wasting my free time playing Destiny along with the millions of other FPS fans across the world. Don’t get me wrong, I know that it is a great game for what it is, but I’m just very tired of the online multiplayer FPS genre and it’s over abundance of foulmouthed preteens. What have I been doing lately? After dropping Ubuntu 14.04 LTS on my ASUS gaming laptop, I took a look at the 100+ games in my Steam library that were Linux compatible, noticed that all of the Half-Life games were available, and decided to start back at the very beginning: the Black Mesa Transit System in the original Half-Life.

I recall playing the original Half-Life on the PS2 in the early 2000s. I also recalled beating the game; yet, oddly enough, approaching the final stretch of the game, it became quite clear that my memory had not served me correct. Hey, it happens to the best of us – some of us a bit more than we want to admit, really. Anyhow, settling back into the game once again after all these years isn’t sore on the eyes, thanks, in part, to the HD resolution and updated graphics found in the Steam release. While new-age atmospheric titles like Dead Space make these older games’ scares a bit laughable, the environment and atmosphere of Black Mesa is still creepily enjoyable to explore – especially when there’s half a game here that I thought I’d seen before.

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If you’ve somehow missed the Half-Life series, it’s a FPS game from the masterminds at Valve. The game pushed the genre further than few thought possible at the time of its release and even still today it’s an enjoyable experience that’s well worthy of blasting back through. The game didn’t reinvent the wheel, so to speak, but instead brought excellent shooting mechanics, graphics, narrative, and environmental and atmospheric effects all together into one intentionally designed package. The combined effect of all these elements coming together creates an experience that immerses the player into its world in a way that no shooter before had done so before. Even in its age, the game sucked me in completely until the end credits rolled, which is more than I can say for Destiny – okay, okay… no more sly japes at Bungie’s new shooter; it’s unfair, I know.

Half-Life runs pretty well on Linux, with only a few minor noticeable hiccups that I can recall. The most memorable of these was a few non-interactive walls that had a tendency to blink when moving the character around. Aside from that, there were a few (and I mean a few) instances where I had some limited frame rate drops for a few seconds. Aside from these minor compatibility issues, there was one specific issue that brought back memories from another classic FPS title: Turok (N64). Considering that you can see further than three inches, err…feet, in front of your character in Half-Life, that would mean that it would be the jumping sequences that can be quite an annoyance at times. While so much of Half-Life is near perfectly designed, there are few baffling jumping segments that disrupt the smooth flow of the game play. There’s nothing too terrible, for sure, but the annoyance is there nonetheless. Now that I think of it though, having the bow from Turok to silently take down some pesky head crabs would be ace – can we get the modders on this, like, ASAP?

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If you’ve never played the original Half-Life, you probably should. Even if Halloween is already over for this year – the time that many people choose to play creepy games – there’s never a bad time to jump back into this classic shooter. If you’re a Linux fan like myself, retro PC titles just feel great to play on the platform. Can’t really pinpoint the reason why that is, really, but hey, some things are just the way that they are, I guess.

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Hittin’ the Open Road, Indie Style – Euro Truck Simulator 2

 

Buy the original base game

Guess what? I’m still alive and kicking – yes, I know that it’s been far too long since my last post here at Tired Gamer. A mix of life and minor narcolepsy issues over the past few weeks, as well as my acquisition of an ASUS gaming laptop – courtesy of my younger brother – have kept me doing a lot more updating drivers and tweaking settings in my spare time than, well… writing. Excuses, excuses, I know.

Being an avid indie gamer, I’m not overly enthused with the current state of console gaming. I’ve not yet purchased a next generation console and have no intention of doing so in the near future. I had, however, planned to build a decent gaming desktop this year, as the vast majority of what I care to play over the course of the next year is indie developed, and therefore, finding itself landing on PC. Well, I’m in the PC game now, so there will be a drastic shift from console titles to PC titles here now; that means a lot more indie love!

The first indie title that I’ve stumbled across that really has taken me by surprise is SCS Software’s Euro Truck Simulator 2. I drove a Class A CDL truck for Pepsi Cola for about six years and I know very well what it ‘feels’ like to drive a commercial vehicle. I’m amazed at how well the team has replicated what it is like to drive a truck in a virtual environment. It isn’t perfect, of course, but it’s believable enough to keep my interest for hours on end, and I’m still truckin’. Hooking up to trailers, backing the into designated delivery docks and feeling the weight of the load on the truck’s engine on inclines, the game simply ‘feels’ right.

Yet, there’s another part of this game that’s completely shocked me, and that is that you can build a truckin’ empire. Yes, what starts off as simple contract deliveries, turns into bank loans, truck and garage ownerships and eventually hiring and managing drivers – all while you’re on the road yourself. It’s brilliant and something that you would never find outside of PC gaming. If you’ve not tried this gem yourself, I highly recommend giving the game’s demo a download on Steam and trying it for yourself.

Future Euro Truck Simulator 2 updates are sure to come.

 

Cast Your Vote for Ubuntu 14:04 LTS Additonal Wallpapers

What’s one of the first things that you do when you get a new OS? Oh come on, you know what it is that you do – you check out the new high-resolution wallpaper sets that come installed with it. If you’re like me, often times I’ll set-up a sideshow to display my favorites of the bunch for a few weeks, before switching to more personalized backgrounds.

Ubuntu 14:04 LTS (Trusty Tahr) is nearing its release and in appropriate open-source fashion, it’s up to the community to decide on the best picks for the wallpaper sets that will come installed in this longterm release.

You cast your votes through the link below:
http://picompete.com/contest/1311/lubuntu-14-04-community-wallpaper-contest/

 

Tutorial: Modifying the Run Command for Quick Access in Linux Kubuntu

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The thing that I love about Linux is the Run Command. This accessible shortcut changes the way that I use my laptop drastically from the standard Window’s interface, and tends to have that “Wow!” factor when people see me accessing my programs without touching an icon at such quick pacing. Ubuntu 13:10 (and Kubuntu, for that matter) now allows you to install things like Gmail, Facebook and an assortment of other applications, so you can now access your Run Command and jump straight into Facebook – through your Firefox browser – in seconds!

It’s a bit tricky to find the right place to remap the shortcut for Run Command if you’re unsure of its location, so I’ve decided to write-up this detailed little instructional to alleviate this small predicament. So, let’s get this show started – shall we?

Note: Run Command is accessible in all of the modern Linux distros, so this isn’t singly limited to Kubuntu.

 
1.) First, head into your System Settings.

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2.) Once you’ve opened the System Settings menu, you’ll next want to locate and access the Shortcuts and Gestures icon.

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3.) Once inside, you’ll notice the three separate tabs on the left-hand side of the screen, you’ll want to click on Global Keyboard Shortcuts icon.

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4.) Okay, this is where it’s easy to overlook the Run Command interface, if you don’t know where to look. Towards the top of the screen, there’s a line for “KDE Component,” which is right above the Search bar. Click this to access the drop-down tab and click on “Run Command Interface.”

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5.) This brings up the entire Run Command interface, for you to customize to your liking.

 

6.) We want to modify the shortcut for Run Command only, so locate the option that states “Run Command”.

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7.) This opens the Run Command for customization. Select “Custom”, followed by the rectangular tab with the wrench, that’s found just to the right of it, of which also states: “None”.

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8.) Clicking “None” will change it to “Input”, at which point we’ll want to press the Meta key, followed by the Space Bar.

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Note: The Meta key is the “Windows” key, which should be located just to the left of the Left Alt key on your keyboard. I find this set-up to be an extremely fast and natural way to access my Run Command.

 

9.) Click the Apply button in the bottom right of the window to save your changes if needed.

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10.) That’s it! To start using your Run Command interface, simply hold the Meta Key followed by the Space Bar and you see it drop down from the top of the screen.

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11.) Type a few letters of the program or application that you want to access, and the Run Command will locate it for quick access, which you only need to press the “Enter” key to do so once it’s the top item in the drop-down tab below it.

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12.) Enjoy!

Settling in with (Linux) Kubuntu 13:10 64-bit

I’ve been dual-booting Linux alongside Windows 7 on my Sony Vaio since November of 2013 and I’ve been a proud Linux user ever since. My first real Linux experience came when my Dad’s computer had a major “Windows” problem when I was over visiting this past Thanksgiving. There was talk of buying a new PC and I just decided on a whim that I give it a shot at dual-booting Linux onto his machine to save him a few bucks. I selected Ubuntu 12.04 LTS for the ease of use that it offers and within a few hours, I had his computer running like new once again.

Naturally, I came home and decided that I too wanted to dual-boot Linux on my Vaio, so I reached out to a friend that’s an avid Linux user and he recommended Linux Mint 13 LTS (KDE), for its customizability, support and speed. Within weeks, I had fallen in love with the Mint distro and when Mint 16 (KDE) released, I instantly upgraded. I’ve spent hours learning Terminal commands and shell scripts over the past few months, and I had my Mint 16 desktop all set up to my personal likings. There was only one hitch – my Vaio has Intel HD Integrated Graphics, which is poorly supported on anything but the Ubuntu distro.

A few weeks ago I decided it was time for a change. I downloaded the Ubuntu 13.10 ISO file and within a few hours I had it installed and running like a dream. Out of the box, I could instantly see that my graphics drivers were fully supported and when running Firefox (and a few extra open windows) my CPU was only using around 2-4% capacity, which is a good 20% decrease from Mint 15, due to my poor driver support. I was already very pleased with the change.

Now, I’m not crazy about the Unity desktop environment that comes pre-installed with the Ubuntu package. There’s nothing wrong with it, of course, but I just like to have full control of my desktop and I find Unity to be a bit limited. A quick Google search found that the KDE SC 4:12 desktop had released for Ubuntu 13:10, and without even thinking about it, I started downloading and installed it. The usual KDE set-up was performed and the automatic reboot took place, before my eyes came across a sight I’d not seen before: “kubuntu”.

Let me put this bluntly – Kubuntu is awesome! It offers up the KDE desktop environment that I loved about Mint 16 (KDE), but with better driver support and much better stability on my laptop. The customization features are all in place courtesy of Plasma, as well as the now standard software: music and movie players, the LibreOffice suite, disc burners, partition editor, a few basic games and quite a bit more. The great thing about the Linux distro is that there is tons of free software that can be downloaded right through the Software Center, but seeing that this is Ubuntu based, there is also paid/premium software available there as well. One nice touch is the free Ubuntu One service that backs up your files to a cloud server – think Google Drive – that can be accessed on multiple devices, including your smart phones and tablets.

Of course, Steam is a must download for any gamer and it runs great here, just as it did on Mint 16. Thankfully, the improved driver support means that my laptop can run games more efficiently now, yet I was a bit surprised to realize that I can actually run games in Kubuntu that I have issue with when trying to play on Windows 7. For the record, my laptop actually has decent specs, it’s just that major Intel HD Graphics problem (that I mentioned a bit earlier) that bogs me down.

Kubuntu is a fantastic distro that I highly recommend giving a try, especially if you’ve got integrated graphics. It’s easy to setup and the best part, it can be freely downloaded through this link:
http://www.kubuntu.org/

 

Early Impressions: Coldfire Keep (iOS); Old-School Dungeon Crawling at the Fingertips

Cresent Moon Games’ titles are no stranger to my iOS devices. From the The Elder Scrolls-inspired open world action/RPG, Ravensword: Shadowlands – followed by its much improved sequel, Aralon: Sword and Shadow – to the charming one-touch icy racing found in Slingshot Racing, I’ve become increasingly aware of this developer/publisher’s mobile releases. It comes as no surprise that when I found that it has crashed a first-person, turn-based old-school dungeon crawler on the iOS Marketplace, I dove right in head first without giving it a second thought.

I’m only a handful of hours into this beautiful retro game, but I thought that I’d drop some early impression of it here at Tired Gamer; and no, I didn’t fall asleep playing it – I actually turned it off before taking a nap, thank you very much. Anyhow, if you’re a fan the old (now archaic) style of these games, you’ll fit right in here. It comes as no surprise that the game quickly swipes you off to create your team of four, before plunging you straight into the game’s world. There you’ll find it is one that was once riddled with feral beast that haunt the lands. Upon you’re arrival, the talk of the town is that there’s been an attack by these beast once again, which brings back memories of when an ancient wizard created a portal and sucked them all down into a dungeon for the preservation of the world – this keep is known as Coldfire Keep. Has this portal been reopened after all these years?

Of course it has! But, the story caught my attention very quickly and upon arriving at the keep, you surprisingly find that it’s inhabited by humans that have an inn and a shop to restock supplies. Apparently, explorers have been using a magical item to escape the dungeon after using a portal that was designed by someone called “The Builder.” There’s talk many riches in the in the lower, beast ridden levels of the keep and there’s some kind of magical item below that can teleport those willing to brave the dangers back to safety when in trouble. Yet, talk is, so many who go below don’t return – and you just have to jump right in!

Delving into the dungeon, the touch controls initially feel problematic. Directional swiping moves you through the dungeon, with a two finger swipe left/right handling the strafing and a pinch being used to look up and down. At first, I didn’t realize that both fingers needed to be held together for the game to read my strafing inputs properly, which was problematic, but thereafter it hasn’t failed me since. Picking up items currently has a bug in the code, so you have to tap them repeatedly, which is annoying, but the developer has promised an update is quickly coming. There’s also the option for the standard on-screen buttons control scheme, but the buttons are so small that I found them unusable, before returning to the touch controls. Controller support is available and probably the best method of use, but I’ve not dropped the cash on a controller yet, so I can’t speak to that method. Getting used to the touch controls had me moving through the dungeon with ease after a bit of practice though, so I really have little complaints here, aside from the bug in the item pick-ups, of course.

Fighting enemies is handled by tapping small on-screen buttons below each of your team members’ on-screen portrait, which are permanent parts of the on-screen display. It’s archaic and lacks feedback, but somehow that builds to the game’s charm for me – this indie game is clearly meant to be rough around the edges. The dungeon’s are dank and beautiful in the gorgeous Retina display, while still retaining a retro feel. I found myself adsorbed into the game so fast that it actually shocked me, before the game crashed on me. I had forgotten about the tiny on-screen buttons and learning curve of the controls by then – I having a great time – until this jarring happening took place. Thankfully, the game saves frequently and I was right back where I left off in a few minutes. Thing is, 20-30 minutes later it happened again, and then again. Yep, even playing on an iPhone 5, there’s clearly several chinks in the armor that need to be beaten out, which I have absolutely no doubt that they will be very soon.

So, should you make the $4.99 USD investment to delve into Coldfire Keep? With the bugs that are currently at play in these dungeons, I think you’re better off taking a nap at the moment. I’ll be watching the updates carefully and diving back in soon after. If all is well, it looks like Coldfire Keep will keep me crawling for the whole 10 hours it promises thereafter. I’ll let you know soon thereafter if all is well.