December 10, 2014

Art is in Journey

I start the game one more time after short break and it gives me the last trophy almost immediately. After a few playthroughs, I've explored the most of it. Knowing that the game is short I waited for a long time, before trying it. But as everything I heard was positive, I finally had to check out the Journey myself.

And it's something totally different. Emotionally engaging, beautiful, mysterious story told with no words and a fair amount of replay value. And the soundtrack nails it quite perfectly. The first time I went to the end alone, second time with another more experienced companion. But the third playthrough brought a tear in my eye as I probably happened to be in the right mood. And still, I wanted find everything there is to collect rest of the trophies.

After experiencing it, for me Journey is a game that should end the any discussion whether games are art or not.

September 03, 2014

Finished: Catherine

I have been thinking to start blogging about the video games I finish. This probably means there won't be too many posts and the games are likely to be few years old. That being the case, these post probably serve as nostalgia trips for most readers. The finished criteria for me is playing the main story through and mostly skipping the extra content.

PlayStation Plus subscription will take care that I won't run out of writing material anytime soon. The first game cleared from my mental backlog is Catherine (spoilers), categorized as puzzle platformer adventure game. The game had additional challenges, which I may or may not play in the future. The main thing also in this case was the story-line. In fact, I don't think I'd never finished the game without the story being what it was.

In Catherine I step into shoes of Vincent Brooks, who seems to work as programmer. Luckily the game play is not about coding. Vincent is about to face some fundamental decisions in his life. Considering what is going on, Vincent spends way too much time drinking and socializing with friends in a bar called Stray Sheep. It's no wonder he's having some nightmares. But the ones in the game are about to kill him for real if he fails to climb a tower of blocks, which basically is a series of puzzles. The tower and Stray Sheep are the two main elements in the game play. Spending every evening in Stray Sheep, Vincent tends to end up drinking. However, this gives him a speed bonus in the nightmares, so there's encouragement to fall into bad ways.

While the game mechanics are suitable for all ages, the other elements such as graphical style and the plot are targeted for grown-ups. I decided to start Catherine after some praise I found in the internet, wanting to see something different from the usual gaming experience. I'd say the game is a partial success. The choices in the story took me to the kind of ending I expected, fitting well to the overall atmosphere. There were a couple of plot twists and unfortunately I had suspicions about the other one quite early in the game. This made the story a bit less appealing. Some levels in the tower were quite challenging on normal difficulty and I went to get help from YouTube a couple of times. In some levels I ended solving the hard part more by accident than careful thought.

Catherine may stand out from the crowd, mainly because of its story. The problem for me was that the actual game play, climbing was the least enjoyable part. Even hanging out in Stray Sheep felt better, although repetitive towards the ending. While the story could have replay value, I don't think I'll go back to climbing anymore.

May 07, 2014

Sport betting recap - December 2013

Total balance of betting accounts in December: -50.69%

It took its time before I got to this update. In December I continued testing some tips to Moniveto. It didn't turn out that well, as I skipped playing the wrong games. So, even if tips could have been produced a positive outcome for December, that was not the case for me. That pretty much sums up the December.

I really took me this long to write the December report, because I think this is the last one. I'm going to stop reporting. Something changed in 2014, and I just didn't find the time or interest to invest enough time for serious betting activity. There was just too much real life going on and I don't think that will change in the near future.

I didn't even find enough time for betting on Olympic Ice Hockey, which is a bit of a shame really. Under the circumstances, I feel monthly reporting is quite pointless and feels too much like work.

I have also noticed that writing about betting attracts some spam comments into this blog, some of them clever enough to by-pass a spam filter. Generally those seem to be comments on a too general level without relevant details, spiced with a betting website link. I will be occasionally keeping track of spam comments and remove them. I may also disable commenting on older posts, if necessary.

What comes to my betting in the future, it probably will be more concentrated to special events. While I missed betting on the the Olympic Games, I made some observations concerning the hockey matches. Let's see if those are of any use during the World Championship tournament.

In the future I plan to comment a bit more actively on current sporting events through Twitter or this blog, hopefully with a more relaxed tone.

February 10, 2014

Some Jolla smartphone experiences

From the beginning I knew pre-ordering Jolla smartphone was an emotional decision. There never was a way to rationally justify pre-ordering it. It certainly isn't the best smartphone on the market, but it could well be the most interesting one.

The battery life was initially poor and criticized for good reason. But the community found a workaround pretty quickly. And it really made huge difference to power consumption.

My super awesome Bluetooth headset is usually on when I'm on the move. At first I had problems to connect it reliably and it wouldn't always play the audio through the headset. With time I found a some logic to it. When I have the headset on, I can quickly test the audio by entering the main screen Pulley Menu. If I hear the sound from the headphones, also the Media app should play it correctly. If the menu sounds are still playing through phone speaker, I switch to Bluetooth settings, do disconnect / connect for the headset. So far this has always fixed it. A little inconvenient, but the headset connection was not fully reliable with Nokia phones either. I can live with that.

A while ago the phone went to reboot loop and I feared it wouldn't recover from it. Luckily removing the battery worked and phone booted normally. This also seemed to fix other small problems, such as internet connection issues in Android apps. I'll try to keep in mind that when something that used work to suddenly doesn't, it's time to remove the battery. A few times the phone has booted itself for some reason, but so far I haven't been able to find any obvious reason for it.

I've also learned to check the playback position with podcasts as the Media app sometimes jumps to beginning of the audio track when you start playback after a longer break. I hope that gets fixed at some point.

After getting Tweetian and the latest 1.0.3.8 update to Jolla, I'm finally quite happy with the device. The battery life is somewhat better than with my previous phone, especially when the phone is idle. While the Android support was essential in the beginning to fill the functional gaps, it seems to be smart to go for native apps whenever possible.

In two months we've seen a good deal of updates and the worst rough edges are now smoothed out. Native Sailfish apps have been appearing steadily. While there are polished and well finished products in the market, there is a special kind of feeling in having a phone that keeps evolving.

The super awesome Sony Ericsson Hifi Headset Bt-Mw600 at Amazon.com