Passpartout: The Starving Artist (Mac): COMPLETED!

Ah, the life of a French artist, living off his art, being French. Literally being some sort of frog like a racist stereotype. In Passpartout, you are this frog painter, and it’s your actual art that you sell.

Well, I say art. With tools even Microsoft Paint would sneer at, it’s not easy creating a masterpiece. Thankfully, as it turns out, whatever algorithm the game employs to determine the value and demand for your painting seems unconcerned with skill and it’s more about colour and complexity, depending on your customers.

Take George, for example. He’s easily pleased. My simplistic pictures of legless caterpillars with giant eyes always sold to him. Mary, however, would sarcastically comment on their lack of complexity and Don simply couldn’t abide the colours I used.

After experimenting with colour schemes and shapes, it seems the more realistic the picture the less chance I’d had of selling it. Generally more abstract shapes (big blocks of cheese went down well for a while), cartoony characters (a number of pictures staring a muscular crab sold for a high price) and those ever loved caterpillars allowed me to progress.

By the third act, it was clear that my clients just wanted grey pillys with big eyes, so I plied them with many variations on the same theme. Eventually I created one that was grey and red, and the massive bid I received for it basically completed the game for me. Which is just as well, as after five hours of creating things that either didn’t sell or were virtually the same as previous paintings, I’d started to flag. There’s probably a message in the end sequence where Passpartout is said to have become very rich, but I suspect he was just a caterpillar sellout and drank himself into oblivion to save the agony of 50 years of repeating himself.

Here’s a load of my “arts”, for your perusal:

The post Passpartout: The Starving Artist (Mac): COMPLETED! appeared first on deKay's Gaming Diary.

Currently Playing, January 2017

As an alternative to a catchup post, here’s a catchup post. Only it’s more to declutter my game playing mind after a flurry of new games obtained over the Jesus Birthday Period. Got that? Right.

So for Christmas I got four Switch games – Splatoon 2 (which I’ve covered already), Super Bomberman R, The Lego Ninjago Movie Video Game and Fire Emblem Warriors. Because my wife is the most excellent of wives.

I also got quite a bit of eShop credit, and spent a bit of that on Gorogoa (also covered) and a game I’ve had my eye on a lot, Blaster Master Zero. I also accidentally bought the Ghostbusters and Lego Batman story packs for Lego Dimensions.

Oh, and because I had some Steam credit and because Cool Ghosts made me want them, I’ve picked up Passpartout: The Starving Artist and The Norwood Suite. Like most games they may sit unplayed until I buy the Switch version in the future instead. Ho ho.

Mainly, I’ve played Splatoon 2. I completed single player, and have reached Level 4 online.

With my daughter I’ve played quite a few matches of Super Bomberman R and I’m pleased to reveal that whatever was “wrong” with it at launch has now been fixed. Aside from the graphical style (which has never been good since they stopped using pixels), it’s Bomberman. And Bomberman is great.

I’m not actually sure I remember what the issues everyone had with the  game back when it came out now, but I’m not seeing anything now. It’s fun!

Once I finished Splatoon, I moved onto (again with my daughter) The Lego Ninjago Movie Video Game which as well as having the most ridiculous game name ever, is actually a little different to other Lego games. You have lots of fighting moves at your disposal, and instead of red bricks you have XP to obtain that levels you up giving you “powers” to unlock in a sort of skill tree. It’s early days yet (we’ve only done the first few levels), but I’m liking it a lot so far.

And finally, I’ve played a bit of Passpartout: The Starving Artist. Yes, I know I said it’d probably sit unplayed – and it might yet – but it’s quirky and silly and I love making crap art and selling it for peanuts. I mean look:

And of course, I played some more Stardew Valley, but as I posted the other day, I consider that “completed”.

Other than that, I got given a few games by @IndieGamerChick as part of #indiexmas. First up, was a game called Gunmetal Arcadia Zero. It’s by the same team as You Have to Win the Game, which I coincidentally, played, enjoyed and completed recently. This game is a lot like Zelda II and Castlevania II, and has a familiar NES feeling to it. It’s pretty good so far.

Also from her was Kid Tripp for the Switch. Yep, she (and the devs, Four Horses) gave away a Switch game! It’s a simple “forced runner”, but with lovely blown-up pixel graphics. There’s a nice rhythm to each level, albeit not a “musical” rhythm like, say, Bit Trip Runner, and it plays well. It’s just so very, very hard.

Finally, another game (also from Four Horses) is Digger Dan DX for the 3DS, a homage to Boulderdash. Judging from the number of levels, it’s huge! I’m enjoying it so far.

And that… is everything. I think! Phew, eh? For now, I’m going to try and slim this lot down to a couple of titles just to make it manageable. Ninjago will be one, and for the moment at least, Passpartout will be the other. Find out soon if I actually do this or not!

The post Currently Playing, January 2017 appeared first on deKay's Gaming Diary.

January Update – Steam is back !!

There is only one TV for console gaming so when the kids are playing & I have some free time I usually end up playing iOS turn-based games.

At the weekend I decided to reinstall Steam onto the laptop & I installed Thomas Was Alone & Back to the Future (Telltale Series). Two games that I started in the past but either got bored or more likely went back to console gaming.

I also downloaded an iOS game called Framed which has a lovely comic book style & you have to move the framed images around to complete the puzzle.

When the kids were tucked in bed & if I was not watching another movie on Netflix I did manage to spend a few hours with Shadow of Mordor last week & have now unlocked the tier 2 abilities. I've killed quite a few Captains now and have done quite a few sidequests. Thankfully the world map is not full of icons like the AC games and there are really only two collectibles. I'm enjoying the hunting challenges but need to play the main quest further to unlock more.

I've gone off playing Destiny for now, I think finally getting IceBreaker was enough for me & the grind to collect yet more shards/energy has just dampen my enjoyment. I'll still however jump on and give Gus, Hakk, Orrah or Zo a hand if they want to complete a weekly strike but I've given up spending all my console gaming time on just one game. I do however have a couple of funny Destiny videos on the PS4 which I need to crop & upload at some point.

Shadow of Mordor: Enraging not enjoyable!

Middle Earth : Shadow Of Mordor is one of those rare games. It's a game that I had absolutely no idea was in development until AFTER it had been released! Not only that, but when I heard about it from a friend and looked it up I discovered it was getting rave reviews. This is something very unusual given that my on-line social networks revolve mainly around gaming. Therefore it was without hesitation that I purchased this game on Steam without a second thought. This was my first mistake!

I'd heard it was very similar in style to the Assassin's Creed and Batman games, I have played both these games and they have given me varying levels of enjoyment over the years as different versions have been released. I was happy to hear this as I'd read that Shadow Of Mordor improved on the ideas and mechanics of those games, so I was very eager to see what was in store for me.

The first hour of playing felt extremely confusing, I didn't know what I was supposed to be doing, I didn't know who I was or where I was going. I looked at the map and didn't really understand anything on it. So I started to explore... and that's where things started to go wrong! I was attacked by Orcs.. or is that Uruks... I'm still not sure I understand the difference, or if there even is one.

Inevitably I died as the 5 or 6 creatures bludgeoned me to death in a fairly swift and efficient manner. It seems the one who killed me got a promotion, but that wasn't really explained very well. I repeated the same process about 4 or 5 times, each time I'd try to explore the map and each time I'd encounter a group of enemies who would dispatch me back to the afterlife/wraith/ghost tower. Eventually I managed to survive long enough to figure out the ranking/army system used by the hordes of Uruks. I even managed to kill a captain at one point!

For the most part though, it was a case of trying to figure out where to go, ending up in a fight and dying... rinse and repeat for an hour or so. This, I'm sure you can imagine, became somewhat of a chore so I quit.

Not to be outdone, I returned to the game an hour or so later having read more reviews to try and figure out exactly what the hell I was supposed to do to survive for longer than 5 minutes. I thought I had some ideas, stay hidden was one of them. It worked to a degree, but eventually you have to emerge from hiding and as soon as I did, I'd get slaughtered again.

The thing is, Shadow Of Mordor does a good job of ticking just about all the boxes on the list of things I hate in a game. The principle one being re-spawning enemies. I will often quit a game without hesitation if a game introduces re-spawning enemies. Boderlands 2 was a classic example of this, I missed the first game but purchased the second one on the recommendation of friends. I didn't realise the game involved a lot of backtracking and retracing your steps, which the developers figured would be more fun if you had to kill the same groups of enemies over and over again. Not even randomly generated ones, they were the exact same characters in exactly the same locations every time. Needless to say that game lasted a couple of hours before it went in the trash.

Normally, if I know about it in advance I won't bother to buy the game, but I didn't in the case of Shadow Of Mordor. The argument goes that giving you endless enemies to fight enables you to level up your character by grinding away. My argument is that it's a lazy game mechanic that enables the developers to add several hours to the game play without having to make any additional game! If I clear out an area, I expect that area to be clear when I return, unless there is a valid reason for re-enforcements in the story as a one off. But in Shadow Of Mordor, you can be fighting a group of 5 or 6 Uruks, and as you're fighting them, 5 or 6 more will just appear from nowhere, and then another 5, and another 5 until you are totally overwhelmed and dead!

On the occasions that I found a Captain (or one just randomly appeared in the middle of a fight), I would already be in a weakened state with no way of regaining any health. So inevitably the captain would kill me, and he would level up. That's one of the "clever" things in this game and what it's being given huge credit for. As enemies kill you, they level up, become more powerful etc.. they also remember their past encounters with you. The problem with this, as I've found out, is that it sort of breaks the whole difficulty progression.

You see, every time a Captain kills me, he levels up, but I don't. This means the next time I encounter him, he's harder to kill, but I'm still just as weak as the last time I fought him and lost. Do you spot the flaw in this design? It means the game gets harder the worse you are! That's some screwed up logic right there isn't it?

I guess you could just spend even more time grinding the endlessly re-spawning grunts, but even they kill me after a while, and frankly it's just boring.

You start the game seriously under-powered to face the enemies around you and trying to escape that at the start is very difficult. The game at the beginning is punishingly hard and I rage quit countless times. I kept coming back though because the reviews were all so glowing, I couldn't find a bad one! I thought I must be missing something and it would all come together, I can tell you now that it didn't.

I now have 8 hours of play time registered on Steam and I don't think I've actually managed to get anywhere! I think I've completed maybe two missions so far, and that was only through endless repetition and eventually getting lucky. Certainly not because I was able to accomplish it through any skills I'd developed.

I like a game that presents a challenge, but that challenge has to be enjoyable. I don't think I can honestly say I've enjoyed any of the time I've spent playing Shadow Of Mordor, it's just got me stressed and frustrated. I understand that you are supposed to die in this game, that's how the whole Uruk army/nemesis thing works, but I just didn't appreciate being overrun every time I got into a conflict. Essentially, if I started a fight, I'd end up dead!

I felt helpless and powerless to make any progress within the game, you can level up and improve your abilities, but you have to be able to survive some fights to gain the XP in order to do that. I can't!

Now normally a game offers difficulty levels, easy, normal, hardcore etc... and when it does, I invariably chose the easy option. Because I know I'm not that great at games, but I like to experience them and absorb myself in the story and world. If a game doesn't do that, it will usually have some sort of adaptive AI where the fights get easier and it will set itself to be just enough of a challenge to keep you on your toes. Not so in Shadow Of Mordor, it will happily just kill you again and again and again and again. In fact it goes further by punishing you for being bad by making the captains more powerful!

One of the missions I failed numerous times was a stealth mission where if the alarm was raised, you failed the mission (another of my pet-peeves). Well I must have attempted that 30 or more times, eventually getting through to the target, and when I did, I locked on to the wrong enemy by mistake and failed it AGAIN!!!!

The encounters with the Captains are totally random too, I knew the location of one of them as I had him marked. He was the opposite side of the map, but right in the middle of a fight in a camp, suddenly he shows up! That's just stupid and unnecessary.

I can't see any way to escape the misery of grinding hours and hours of grunts to try and match the Captains now. That's my idea of gaming hell and I really wanted to like the game, that is evident by the 8 hours I spent trying to get on top of it. But the repetitive nature of the game play, the endless deaths and retries have finally taken their toll.

The saddest part of all is that I bought the game on Steam so I can't trade it in for something else!


Steam – The Master Race

Oh the shame !! 120 games !!

Google Doc Link

I'll wait till I'm grey & old sat in my retirement home before I'll come back and look at these.

Will look at enabling Steam Sharing on my account so maybe someone else can get some enjoyment from these?



DIary of a Witcher : Part 2

Well as I suspected, Vensna only wanted me for my body! She was the hot waitress I was talking about in the last entry. At least I got to know her name before anything happened, I did have to get her drunk first though (what's new).

So anyway, I've realised this series of posts is going to be a bit spoilerific. But I'm okay with that, after all the game was released 6 years ago and frankly if you haven't played it before you're unlikely to now (but you should). Also, nobody is forcing you to read any of this, you could stop right now and click this link to be taken to happy place. Assuming you've not done that you've only got yourself to blame if this ruins anything for you!

So anyway, I've completed the Prologue and Chapter 1 of the game now, I'm not sure how many hours that is, but it feels like a lot. That's not to say much has happened, this game is quite the slow burner. I've had encounters with more Barghests and Drowners than I could care to remember and I've slaughtered my fair share of Ghouls too.

I met a Dwarf outside of Vizima who I think was a blacksmith, I had a chat with him and I was in stitches as he was swearing like a trooper! There was another Dwarf called Zoltan who taught me how to play a game of dice that's based on Poker. You can play several people in the game and it's a quick way to make money. The trouble is, whether you actually make money or not is all down to the luck of the dice. Sadly I haven't had much luck and I've lost far more money than I've made so far... damn gambling!

I also met a guy called Odo (not the one from Star Trek), a rich gentleman who partakes in the game of poker dice. He seemed a nice guy until I discovered he had killed his brother for his money, hence why he is so rich. Before I found that out though I had another interesting experience in the game, that of alcohol. He got me drunk! It's actually quite funny, you get double vision and struggle to walk straight. You can sleep it off easily enough and I'm not sure it has any benefit other than being a bit of fun.

Abigail doesn't look like a Witch
I had my first big decision to make too, there's a Witch called Abigail (she's also hot), and you have to decide if she was responsible for the beast that has been plaguing the village. The villagers have got their pitchforks out and are ready to burn her at the steak, they have lots of tales about her wicked deeds. The problem is there's a lot of evidence that supports her innocence too and if you talk to her there are two sides to the stories. Essentially it's left for you to make up your mind who you believe.

So, having had sex with her (well it would be rude not to) I went out to face the villagers and pass judgement. I decided she was innocent and that although she is a Witch, she was not doing evil. This lead to a fight with half the village and I ended up having to kill numerous people.

Did I let her manipulate me to save her life? Possibly, maybe I'll find out as the game progresses. But regardless of her good looks and charm I think I made the right choice.

Having completed the first Chapter I'm starting to see some of the issues with the game. The first is the amount of backtracking, it's seemingly endless. Every character you speak to seems to want you to walk to the opposite side of the area to fetch something or kill something. When you've done that you walk all the way back to collect your reward or information. This generally leads you to having to walk back to the other side of the map to get to your next objective. This process goes on and on and on. It's a bit repetitive, but I've managed to stick with it so far and the story is starting to draw me in to the point where I want to see where it is heading. So even though I despair at constantly trekking backwards and forwards, I'm having to go with it.

I'm also having trouble with some of the missions, the map marker isn't always very accurate. So while it will point an arrow in the direction you need to go, often you will follow it to a dead-end. Some places are only accessible from one direction and the tracking doesn't account for that! Also, when you reach your destination the person you need to see isn't always there. The NPCs have a fair amount of freedom in the game, but will be in certain locations at certain times. If you don't arrive at the right time you can get totally lost as to where you have to go. It's okay if you're meeting a character you've seen before as you can usually find them. But when it's someone new it's tough! I spent ages trying to find a merchant selling a certain herb who was never where the map said he should be. Turns out he was only about 15ft away but I was a long time figuring that out.

My Eyefinity setup is also giving me a few small problems, the game wasn't really designed with such a resolution in mind. So although the cut scenes play out, I'm missing a huge amount of the action, the way they've fudged it is to zoom in on the original view, so I'm only getting a tiny part of the vertical picture. In general gameplay it's fine, although the menu stuff is stuck to the far edges of the monitors which leads to a lot of mouse movement. I can live with these issues though, none of them are ruining the game. You can see it in the screenshot below:

Click to enlarge, OSD stuff is at the extreme edges :-(
In the Witcher 2 they fixed this and put all the On Screen Display stuff in the middle monitor, but there's no option to do that here.

I feel I've been quite negative in this post, and I don't mean to be. I'm really enjoying it, but not everything is perfect. None of these problems have caused me to give up yet, and normally I give up on things fairly quickly so it's definitely doing something right.

I've made it into Vizima now so that's a whole new area for me to explore, that's if I ever escape from this dungeon I've been put in....

EDIT: Just had a though, is it a coincidence that the three characters I've had sex with in the game so far (Triss, Vensna & Abigail) have all been redheads? Hmm, I do have a thing for redheads...

Diary of a Witcher : Part 1

During the Steam summer sale, I purchased a copy of "The Witcher 2". I started playing it in Eyefinity on my PC but the frame rate was a bit poor and it really needs a gfx card upgrade to run sensibly. If I was on just one monitor I've no doubt my 7870 would laugh in the face of it, but a resolution of 5,760x1200 is just too much.

I want to hold off on upgrading until the new range of cards is released later in the year. As I've never played the original game I figured I'd play that first while I wait.

It runs on my three screens really well, although there is a bug which means the cut scenes only work if you turn the lighting down to basic. This isn't a disaster as it all still looks lovely. Being an older game I can get good frame rates too so everything is nice and smooth.

The hot waitress
You play the game as Geralt, a Witcher. I'm still not 100% clear on what a Witcher is, though it seems to be something to do with slaying monsters. So far I've only played a couple of hours into the story, I've defended against a castle siege though the Salamandra (the bad guys) managed to escape with some mutagens. I've saved the life of Triss Merigold by creating a magic potion and then I slept with her. The next day we all split up to try and track down the Salamandra, I headed South and seem to be in a village called Vizima.

I visited an Inn and got chatting to one of the waitresses, she seemed hot. The next thing I know, she's outside being hassled by some bandits, so I killed them and walked her home. She told me to meet her in a barn the next night with some wine. That's as far as I've got up to now, I'm guessing if I do as she asks then I'll be getting lucky again! I'll let you know how that pans out next time.

Tex Murphy: Under A Killing Moon

Before I got my new shiny triple screen setup which you can read about over in this post: Triple monitors, calibration & Eyefinity. I decided to do some old school gaming. I'd recently learnt thanks to Niaz (@gospvg on Twitter) that a new Tex Murphy game was coming out. This had me tremendously excited as I had fond memories of the series.

I still had the games on the numerous CDs they came on, but as they were designed for a time before Windows these games ran in MS-DOS. This meant it wouldn’t be a trivial matter to get them running on modern PCs. Fortunately while searching the web for a method to do just that, I stumbled across the GOG website at http://www.gog.com. This made it possible to purchase the games at a very cheap price ($9.99) download them and run them in Windows! I decided for the stress free life and to get playing the games sooner rather than spend my weekend trouble shooting, I'd just pay up.

I'm glad I did, the whole process was very simple and I'm sure I'll be using GOG.com again in the future!

Once back in the game, the memories came flooding back, it was very nostalgic! The one thing that struck me more than anything else though, were the clunky controls. This was a first person point & click adventure game. But, this was in the day before "mouse-look" had been discovered. So instead of moving with the traditional WSAD keys, you moved with the mouse. Looking up and down was done with keys! It was most bizarre and I never truly got used to that. I was able to get by, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't hamper me somewhat.

The graphics engine was very dated too, but really after the first few minutes I wasn't bothered by that. The story line was interesting enough to keep me playing to the end, even in the tricky "stealth" section towards the end which was made far worse by the control scheme.

I played the game over a weekend, the voice acting is dodgy in places, but overall the writing is excellent and the video sections are both funny and move the story along nicely.

If you have missed out on this series of games I suggest you give them a shot. Just be patient with the controls and allow yourself to get to the bottom of the mystery. I'll be attempting the follow up "Tex Murphy: The Pandora Directive" and the sequel to that "Tex Murphy: Overseer" soon before the new game comes out later this year. Hopefully they will have fixed the controls in the new game!

Thomas was alone – I am a shape

I spent some time Sunday morning sorting some of my steam collection into two categories Ignore & Play.

The ignore included games I had already completed on the consoles like Bastion & Walking Dead. It also had a large collection of games that I had no interest in playing like Amnesia, The Ball & many more bundle games.

The play obviously had less games but these were titles that I was keen to enjoy like Hotline Miami, Kings Bounty, Dear Esther & Thomas was alone.

I did not really know what to expect having only seen a few screenshots & read some posts on UGVM about the game.

It's a puzzle game, which if you do not enjoy I suggest you go back to playing your generic shooter.

Mr Maker on Cbeebies has a section about shapes. Singing along to the annoying "I am a shape" (Youtube it). Your nightmares have come true, you are indeed a shape, a rectangle to be precise named Thomas.

Thomas sets off on an adventure meeting various shapes helping them reach the level portal to advance.

The game takes a leaf out of Bastion & has a narrator explaining each new character. Their thoughts on the surroundings & other shapes. Each shape has it's own unique skill in they can jump higher, go through small gaps or float. Claire is my favourite shape so far, she is a big blue square that can float on water. I'm enjoying the puzzles & the narration.

I tried initially with keyboard control but soon ended up plugging in a 360 controller which thankfully after a few button configs works perfectly.

I tried to play Penny Arcade Adventures but after a while got bored it reminded me quite a bit of Costume Quest without the adult humour obviously. Thomas was alone on the other hand feels fresh & interesting.

Thomas was alone – I am a shape

I spent some time Sunday morning sorting some of my steam collection into two categories Ignore & Play.

The ignore included games I had already completed on the consoles like Bastion & Walking Dead. It also had a large collection of games that I had no interest in playing like Amnesia, The Ball & many more bundle games.

The play obviously had less games but these were titles that I was keen to enjoy like Hotline Miami, Kings Bounty, Dear Esther & Thomas was alone.

I did not really know what to expect having only seen a few screenshots & read some posts on UGVM about the game.

It's a puzzle game, which if you do not enjoy I suggest you go back to playing your generic shooter.

Mr Maker on Cbeebies has a section about shapes. Singing along to the annoying "I am a shape" (Youtube it). Your nightmares have come true, you are indeed a shape, a rectangle to be precise named Thomas.

Thomas sets off on an adventure meeting various shapes helping them reach the level portal to advance.

The game takes a leaf out of Bastion & has a narrator explaining each new character. Their thoughts on the surroundings & other shapes. Each shape has it's own unique skill in they can jump higher, go through small gaps or float. Claire is my favourite shape so far, she is a big blue square that can float on water. I'm enjoying the puzzles & the narration.

I tried initially with keyboard control but soon ended up plugging in a 360 controller which thankfully after a few button configs works perfectly.

I'm playing a Steam game, hopefully unlike my previous effort (Penny Arcade Adventures) it looks like I won't get bored & give up.