In the new year, I decided I needed to get into a new hobby to keep myself occupied. Naturally, my mind immediately went “Well, I’ll just play a lot of games”. That doesn’t really sit well with me. I’m always wanting to tinker, to explore and create. So I decided that I would have to go back to Unity, something I dabbled in quite a bit when I was younger. Having returned to the software, it’s amazing how much was foreign to me again… But I find the unknown to be pretty exciting. Here’s what my gripes have been since returning, as well as what I found still so intuitive and fun.
I’ve been coding on and off as a hobbyist for approximately 18 years now, which is a terrifying idea. I rarely make anything that I put out there, mostly tinkering for my own fun and amusement. However, over the years, I’ve seen an influx of amazing resources. When I first started, there weren’t many good websites out there – You usually had to buy big, heavy books to get anywhere in development. Now-a-days, all you have to do is a quick Google search and away you go. But these websites are my absolute go to’s for anything to do with coding. Come share your favourites with us!
MyCRED is a plugin that I’ve had to try to get used to, really fast. It’s a very powerful bit of software, allowing the admin of the site to award points to users, based on some interactions with the website. For instance, you might want to award a user for watching a video for longer than 3 minutes. You could also want to reward your users for simply commenting on your articles, or by having your own forum and them interacting with it. All in all, MyCRED was made specifically with this problem in mind – To be able to reward your users for interacting with your site in the way you want them to.
You know, this may seem like a relatively simple article to write about, but it’s made me think back and reflect a lot. We’ve been going since 2013, meaning that in September of this year, we’ll officially have been around for five years; half a decade. In this time, we’ve had to learn a lot about producing content of all forms. We’ve written regular articles, we’ve produced videos, we’ve made little in-jokes, which have become more (see Gordon the GeekOut Goat). However, in our time, we’ve had to learn how to bring about a balance of being content creators, community organisers and being our own tech teams. If you’ve ever wanted to do something similar, here’s a reflective post on what we’ve done over the years.
Last time I left you, we had a running Virtual Machine and maybe you have been tinkering with it a bit. If so, good for you! This is specifically aimed at PHP development so if you’re not interested in that then I maybe skip over this and wait until we get to play about with another technology.
Controversial is the word of the game, a game that promised so much, but yet caused so many to scream that they got so little. This is a game set out in a vast universe, one massive entity where we would be exploring aimlessly for centuries. People would get to see alien life forms wandering around, as well as barren and desolate planets. This is a game that has gotten so many people upset because they don’t have anything more than an exploration game. A game where you gather resources, explore and then we’re done with it. I remember I wrote about how excited I was for No Man’s Sky, because I love grind games. I love repetition and I love to explore. I love the nooks and cranny’s of games, I love Easter Eggs and glitches.
|Platforms||PC (Windows), PS4|
|Windows Release||August 2016|
|Price on Steam||£39.99|
Okay, this bit is a little bit disappointing – But basically the story of No Man’s Sky is just there to get you to really understand what the game is about. During the story, you will follow the Atlas, or you will try and proceed through the universe yourself. You will attempt to reach the centre of the universe, which has been met (with*) (a lot) (of criticism). Rightly or wrongly, the game is about getting to the centre of the universe and then continuing your exploration of the universe. That’s what the game’s story is all about – and that’s it. You can also follow one of a few paths to get to the centre of the universe: Either via the Atlas, the Vy’Keen or presumably by yourself completely.
When I was reading about this game, a long time ago, I remember being excited by the seemingly infinite planets. The numbers blew my mind and that’s what I wanted out of this – To explore, publish my findings in some central database and proceed. I didn’t care for a story and it seems like the story of the game is just there to get you to explore.
The game starts you off on a completely random planet. I found my first planet and started to look around, thinking “huh, is this Minecraft all over again? Procedurally generated world with no purpose?” That made me happy, as that was what I was looking for. I like exploring worlds that a computer has made up – It’s fun! It’s why I like rogue-likes so much! Once you get your bearings, you understand that you need to gather resources, submit your findings to The Atlas and off you go! You need to gather resources and learn how to improve your equipment, as well as fixing up your broken ship – and that’s basically it. You get resources, you fix stuff that’s breaking or refuel anything that is running out of whatever fuels it, then go between planets and rinse and repeat.
The game hasn’t promised to be much else, but of course, people do look into what is said quite seriously. If the developer states that there is to be factions, then of course everyone will want to see this. But then again, when you consider how a faction works… Wouldn’t that mean you would need to have met other people? Those who say that this is only a single player game are wrong, although some clarification as to how players really impact this universe should be made. The issue lies in that people are looking around really quickly and going between system to system. Some people are exploring every planet on their systems – but by the time you’ve bounced between systems, the person who was once there probably has already finished on the planet you’ve gone on. When I got this game, I was expecting to never encounter another person and I have no issues with this. But I know I’m not in a “typical” single player game, in that I’ve seen other peoples systems and other peoples planets.
This is where it gets a bit more interesting. The features that Hello Games promised are in there. The only thing I’m not so certain on is “can you name your ship“, but apparently if you’re the first person to find a kind of ship, then everyone in the game will see the name of the ships as whatever you named it. Effectively, if you found a specific kind of ship and called it a flippyflappy, then everyone would see that. This is true for planets, systems and more. Don’t forget, this is the universe and it’s your job to go and discover as much as you can! You will find a ridiculously large amount of procedurally generated creatures and procedurally generated flora. You can discover them, upload them and name them. You can even name the systems you’re in. I saw a ridiculous comment on YouTube, where the guy claims you cannot travel between Systems. That’s kind of one of the major things to do with hyperdrive, sir..? Yes, you can travel between systems.
By the by, let’s talk about the universe for a bit. You fly from planet to planet, blowing up debris and ships. The Sentinels are a force to be reckoned with, but if you’re like me, you kinda like blowing up the baddies. We don’t really know if they are baddies, but they certainly seem to be against what we’re about. Perhaps a future update could give us more reason to want to go and blow up their space ships, but I’ve had enough of their crap when they eye me down just for blowing up a rock called Dwayne Johnson. I understand these are all giant wrestling fan robots, but c’mon guys.
The full OST was composed by 65daysofstatic. Go give them a like!
To be fair, this part of the review has nothing wrong with it at all. The music is atmospheric, before picking up whenever the game gets a bit more tense. If you decide to attack one of the drones flying around the place, the music quickens and gets a bit more serious. Other times, when you first enter a planet, you will enter to some relaxing music, allowing you to explore at your leisure. The music in the game is beautiful, but it’s nothing that will make you run to the shops to buy the OST. Still, linked above is a sample of the in-game music.
Meanwhile, the audio of the Vy’Keen just sounds like someone going “omnomnom” next to a microphone. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as I don’t expect to understand them… But it does sound a bit weird. Voices aren’t all bad though: The robotic voice who keeps telling you that your suit is in trouble is a proper robotic voice. As well as this, the sound effects in the game are on point. There’s not much to say about sound effects though… I mean they’re great for what they are, but they are just sound effects.
As always, here on GeekOut South-West, we believe that you should be the judge of the graphics for yourself. Since the version I’ve been playing is on the PS4, there’s a limited capability with the screenshots, in that they’ll be somewhat poorer on resolution. Nevertheless, you should be able to get a good idea of the graphics of the game with the following gallery. Personally, I think the game looks gorgeous and even when the procedurally generated lands mess up, it’s still an enjoyable journey through a planet. Here’s our gallery:
So yes, you are free to be as upset as you want with No Man’s Sky. But as you might have seen from the above Gameplay section, they delivered what they promised. If you feel like you’ve been misled, then unfortunately the onus might come back to you. The game never promised a building facility, nor it really promised much in the way of resource gathering. That was something I personally didn’t expect when I walked into it (having watched no gameplay trailers). I can completely sympathise with the anger and the frustration that people feel towards the game, but let’s not take away from the fact that this was made by a tiny team in a small amount of time.
I’m not fully defending this game, for it does indeed need more. I agree with the complaints, wanting to see more happening, but I’m disgusted by the people who demanded a refund even after 10+ hours of gameplay. That’s why this review has been full of links everywhere: I’m bringing all of the points together to explain that both sides are wrong here. Yes, Hello Games need to do more, but they’ve got the ability and the time now to do so. They can implement patches to bring massive gameplay changes in. I’m hoping they take the criticisms on board and actually release some more interesting features, but apparently this is what they’re working on. They have been actively working on fixing bugs, which were found within weeks of the game being released and I’m hopeful that this becomes a bigger game than it currently is… Even though when you consider the sheer number of planets, the game is plenty big enough as it is.
To summarise then, this isn’t the best game in the world (hah, get it..?), but I’ve enjoyed my time in space. There is an air of over-repetition in the game and I hope the developers address this. I also hope that the initial backlash from a very keen fanbase (and the journalist trigger fingers) will not cause too many problems for the developer down the line. Perhaps I’m being too optimistic and perhaps the game will go nowhere, but I want to believe Hello Games will expand their universe… Even if it’s in a bizarre fashion. I tell you, if they implement a building facility into the game (like they’re saying they will at the bottom of these update notes, ) I’m all for it! I’ll inhabit every world I can, build a little
castle base and raise my flag and say “come at me universe”, whilst the toxicity levels of the planet rises… But now it’s over to you. Am I right or wrong in calling out both sides to this story? Do you think I’m being unfair on the people who play the game, or am I defending both sides points fairly? What do you make of the overall game, now that you’ve read my thoughts? Have I made your opinion differ any? As always, thanks for reading and please remember to leave us a comment below, or over on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit.
*These links have adblocker blockers.
I thought I would try something new for content, and thought every now and then I can throw out some very useful programming tips. I would love to be able to embed code directly into a post and that’s something we will look into but until then we shall be using external links to display and show code to you.
Over the last few weeks, I have been doing something which I think is really interesting and awesome. Many months ago I signed up to something called Code Club which is a semi-government funded scheme that puts experienced developers like myself in public places like schools and libraries in order to help them learn the basics of programming. To do this, I did have to go through what is known as an Extended DBS which basically checks my history for things like criminal records and is there to protect children.
Disclaimer: Although I do own a Mac I am by no means a Mac fanboy. I believe that each OS has its good and bad points but being the owner of a Mac for several years I believe that I am qualified to make a call as to why I love it and why I sometimes hate it.
I’d like to put one thing to bed before we start with this, a common misconception people think is that when you sign up to Apple then you only really begin to feel the benefits if you always choose to use Apple software. This is really not true, there are some benefits of doing this but not always. I personally have an Android based phone and use online storage like DropBox and Google Drive to store any information I need to access everywhere. The main reason I use these services over Apple’s Cloud system is that I really don’t feel like it’s good value for money at all. I also use Google to store my address book since that can also work across multiple devices and anywhere I have access to the internet. Music wise I have yet to be drawn into Apple Music. Google provide a pretty good service that allows me to keep 50 GB in my music account before they charge me, but my music purchasing platform of choice (right now) is Amazon. The great thing about Amazon Music is that it’s DRM free which means that I own the music that I buy. Not to mention if you already have a Prime account you get streaming music thrown in. Compare this to Apple that has to constantly make calls back to the internet to ensure that the purchase sitting on my internal storage is real. I have yet to be utterly convinced with a service like Spotify or Deezer, yes they provide a good range of music and if you have unlimited data and a good connection it’s a great way to listen to music on the go.
Being an internet developer, I use a lot of technology that works alongside major web servers. A fair majority of the servers out there use some brand of Linux or another and although it is entirely possible to develop and deliver websites using Microsoft solutions but it’s not where my expertise lies. Now I can use a Windows or Linux machine to put together a development environment, especially if I use something like a Virtual Machine. However, if I had to choose between all three I would choose a Mac or Linux machine, because it is closer to the technology I am working with.
Free OS Updates
Okay, you could argue that Linux updates have been free for a very long time (and you would be right). You could also argue that Windows 10 was the first OS that Microsoft have issued for free but I would argue the massive condition that you need to take advantage of that before a certain time. Since 10.10 updates of Apple’s operating system have been free, no if’s no but’s, just free and thank goodness because their hardware costs so much.
Backlit Keyboard as Standard
Yes, these are becoming more popular and if you spend enough money on any laptop, then it’s likely that this will come as a standard option on yours too. Having one of these as standard means I can still easily type in low light conditions and I love that.
It’s essentially Linux but easier
I have used Linux for years, I still would try to choose it over Windows and this is mostly because I do so much web development. My main issue with Linux is that if you don’t quite know what you’re doing then it is very easy to break and then fixing it can be a quite tricky business. I remember a headache I used to have to get certain video or sound boards working in Linux and yes this has improved a great deal but there have been a few times where the OS has just refused to boot and then I am thrown into a very user unfriendly safe mode, using my phone to google what the problem might be and a way to fix it. This may be a very person thing but I want to be able to just use my computer, I don’t want to have to spend hours trying to fix some random thing that has gone wrong in the OS somewhere. I would much rather spend my time developing or writing and OSX gives me exactly this.
The price. It’s no secret that Apple equipment is expensive, their phones and laptops are obviously overpriced. I will say that their screen technology is second to none and maybe that is where most of the price goes. It’s true to say that I have a day job that enables me to be able to spend a little more on a laptop than most people, but that does not take the sting out of tail when I am considering buying a new one. Apple products have generally a good resale value on e-bay so if you look after them, you can still get some of your investment back. I bought my last MacBook Pro back in 2011 as a refurb (I very rarely buy new) and that has been serving me well for the past 5 years and probably has another 4 or more in it before it becomes obsolete.
I enjoy playing games, I even write for a website that encourages me to not only play them but write something critical about them, which I enjoy doing. But you know what I don’t enjoy? I don’t enjoy the fact that to get any kind of decent video card on a Mac, you have to shell out a fair amount more than the overpriced nature of the machines anyway. Games that I think should run okay on it often are laggy and unplayable, regardless of how many options I switch off. I had hoped that they would do some deal with either Nvidia or ATI to put some basic graphic accelerator inside their laptops and they did, but only for 15″ machines and upwards. I don’t really want to carry the extra size and the price hike, for me it’s just not worth it.
Being classed as an Apple Fan Boy
As stated in the disclaimer I am no Apple fanboy. I have never and will never queue up overnight in order to get the most recent hardware from them. In fact, I really cannot understand the people that do this, but I have an “each to their own” attitude about the whole thing. When Apple released their last MacBook (the one with the mobile processor in and the USB-C port) I thought that someone at Apple had completely gone mental. I get the fact that they are trying to appeal to a market that uses laptops just to create documents, write e-mails and the sort but I seriously thought that this was a poorly designed bit of hardware. I am sure Apple being Apple have sold a lot of them and people have even paid the extra money to have it with the gold tint (which in my eyes is just weird). I thought (and still think) that the Apple watch is overpriced and not a piece of tech that I have any interest in, but then again I bought and subsequently sold a Pebble Time because I found myself not really benefitting from it as a device. No, I will happily criticise Apple when I see fit, and I will happily listen to other people moan about them and sympathise.
It’s a status symbol
I generally disagree with buying things just to show that I have money. I have known several students that have let their parents buy them a Mac just so that they can look cool in class. These people probably take a lot of notes on their machine, look at Facebook, maybe the odd video which probably rarely (if ever) fires up anything more than a single core. To these people, I say what you should of, bought is a Chromebook or second-hand laptop from someone. I had to work hard to be able to afford my hardware, I feel like I have earned the right to buy one.
Okay.. rant over. So before I work myself into a lather and burst a blood vessel or completely lose my calm exterior I’m going to quit while I am ahead. Now it’s over to you, what do you love/hate about the OS that you choose to run. What makes you irate and what makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside because it just works. Tell us your OS stories via Reddit, Twitter or Facebook.
Tirelessly, I’ve been working to bring you new content and this month, most of the content you’ve read by me was written back in December! Surprise! However this was to allow me time to work on our projects for this website and our future as GeekOut South-West.