Syberia [3/5]

SyberiaKate Walker, dispatched to a quaint little town in the Alps, is stymied in her attempt to close a quick sale to a major toy company.  To move the sale forward, you have to solve a few mysteries—such as finding the heir to the factory that is being sold who disappeared many years ago and was presumed dead.

Overall, it’s a fun game, but it’s not without some missteps.  It gets a little annoying walking around all of the locations in the game, as beautifully drawn as they may be.  A couple of times the game moves forward in the narrative only after you have walked to a certain place or some other seemingly random event. 

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Kathy Rain [1/5]

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Kathy Rain is a graphic adventure similar to a Sierra or Lucasfilm Games classic. It’s modern, published in 2016, but it certainly has a retro feel. You play the part of a sassy college girl trying to piece together a mystery involving her dead father.  Honestly… I couldn’t get through the whole game.  It didn’t really draw me in, and I can’t say it’s the fault of the graphics or interface.  The story just didn’t grab me, I suppose.  It’s been sitting around on my hard drive preventing me from starting on other things, so I finally decided to move on.

Pennsylvania Reintroduces Fire Towers

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I’ve been fascinated by the whole fire watch thing since reading the book by Philip Connors.  And of course, now there’s an incredible game out, Firewatch, that sadly, comes as close as I ever will to experiencing it.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t dream.  Almost all of the fire watching jobs I’ve seen have been out in the East, but it turns out that after 70 years of using more techie ways to do it, PA is reintroducing fire watch towers.  Now they’ll need people to staff them, eh?

via Pennsylvania Reintroduces Fire Towers – AMC Articles

TortoiseSVN Externals

I know that I’m going to forget this within the next couple of weeks, but it’s worth remembering.  When adding dependencies to your SVN projects, use externals.  They’re a little confusing, but if you use the “drag and drop” method outlined in the documentation, it’s not that bad.

Creating externals via drag and drop

If you already have a working copy of the files or folders you want to include as externals in another working copy, you can simply add those via drag and drop from the windows explorer.

Simply right drag the file or folder from one working copy to where you want those to be included as externals. A context menu appears when you release the mouse button: SVN Add as externals here if you click on that context menu entry, the svn:externals property is automatically added. All you have to do after that is commit the property changes and update to get those externals properly included in your working copy.

Now on GitHub, VsPad!

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Yesterday, I published a new GitHub project aimed at facilitating a relatively light-weight “playground” type environment for testing code in Visual Studio.  It is inspired by LINQPad.  Here is the README for the project:


LINQPad is a .NET language playground that quickly and easily allows you to type in or paste code for testing and refining without having to go through the trouble of creating a Visual Studio project.  I highly recommend it and it can save you a lot of time.  It is an excellent piece of software.
However, as I was seriously considering what type of license I should try to ask my company to reimburse me for, I was mentally going through the benefits of each one and realized that I would need the premium version.  Syntax highlighting, autocompletion, outlining, code snippets, NuGet integration, integrated debugger, etc… Sound familiar?  Why not just use Visual Studio, I thought?  The main difference is that there’s a lot more overhead to firing it up.  Nothing can be done about that.  There are also the built-in LINQPad extension methods, such as Dump, which displays a very nice tabular display of the object or primitive that you need to view.
But with those benefits aside, I felt it was a bit much to ask my company to pay for this software when they are already very generously providing an MSDN subscription. Not that the Premium license fee is a huge financial burden, but still… So I went about seeing if there was a way to get some of the convenience of LINQPad back into Visual Studio.
VsPad is what I have come up with so far.  It still has a much larger footprint than LINQPad, but thanks to a clever extension method from _Noctis_ at CodeProject to provide the Dump() functionality, I can get most of the benefits of a premium license.  Not to mention that I have access to any other feature of Visual Studio and whatever other third-party add-ons I have, such as ReSharper.
To use VsPad, clone it or download the solution file and open it up in visual studio.  It requires the Newtonsoft JSON package for displaying the Dump() results, or of course you can just use Console.WriteLine().  I recommend running it in the debugger after setting a breakpoint or start it with Ctrl-F5 (which will run the console program and leave the console window open until a key is pressed, so you can see the results).

 

VsPad is available on GitHub.

ExoDOS Playthrough, Altered Destiny, Ad Verbum

Ad Verbum

[4/5 stars]

AdVerbumI’m not sure exactly why some of the more modernish IF community games are included in this collection.  Maybe it’s a sort of “best of” addition to the classic DOS games.  I’d been meaning to get around to this game for a long time.  It seemed similar to an Infocom game that I was a fan of, Nord and Bert Couldn’t Make Heads or Tails of It.  As modern IF goes, Ad Verbum is one of the best. The puzzles are challenging, but they are presented in a more than fair manner.

 

Altered Destiny

[2/5 stars]

For being developed by one of the “greats”, Michael Berlyn–maybe not the worst Sierra-esque graphic adventure, but… so much of the progression through the game is spent trying to navigate your way through pixel-wide areas, stepping to either side of which can cause you to die instantly that it is very quickly not fun to play.  Funny death scenes are not bad in themselves, but it gets old in this game.  I think if you can get past the frequent complicated control / death dynamic then it might be an enjoyable game.  For me… I have over a thousand more games to get through here, so I need to keep moving.

ExoDOS Playthrough, A-“Ad “

A Day for Soft Food

[3/5 stars]

OK, so I guess I’m a cat.  Not a good start (I hate cats).  But not a bad game, anyway.  Puzzles involve figuring out an elaborate chain of events to get food before the timer runs out (you’ll probably have to restart a few times), outsmarting a rival cat and so on.

 

A Dudly Dilemma

[0/5 stars]

I couldn’t get this one to run.  I hear a single note from my emulated AdLib soundcard (or whatever) and it freezes on a black screen.

 

A Matter of Time (1995)

[2/5 stars]

RayTraced.jpgLooks like somebody got a ray tracing program and was looking for a way to get some use out of it.  Graphics involve the typical mirrored spheres and other geometrical shapes, along with some others–perhaps digitized photos.  Not all of them are this cheesy, there is some well done stuff in here.  Actually, though, the graphics get a little annoying past a certain point and hinder the game by breaking it up with lengthy load-time waits.

It looks like the plot is you are going back in time to rescue a murder suspect that is searching for the existence of God.  You follow him back in time and end up encountering… Not much really.  A forest, a cave, a waterfall, a dinosaur.  After a few times of being eaten, and having to go through the intro with all of the slow-loading graphics, I called this one.  Being that it is an “introductory adventure” meant to entice you to purchase the full version, I have a feeling I’m not missing too much.  Still, it’s not totally unworthy of a quick play-through.

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As a minor point of interest, this may be the first game in the post-Infocom era to not have a response to ‘xyzzy’.

 

 A Mind Forever Voyaging

[5/5 stars]

And so we come to the first Infocom game in the list.  I believe these are still being sold by someone… Activision?  Not sure.  So it’s not technically abandoned like most of the other games in this package.  However, between all of my Lost Treasures, original game purchases, and iOS/GOG purchases, I own this one a few times over.

Here’s the thing–I only played through the first section of this game at this time, and decided to “table” it for now.  As I work through the ExoDOS collection, I am looking more for “quick-hits”–I could probably spend the rest of my free time playing through these until I die–but I don’t want to do that exactly.  I’m trying more to find the hidden gems in here and move quickly through the other ones.  AMFV falls into the hidden gems category, and as such, I am going to collect these and do them later, giving them the extra time they deserve.

 

A-MIS Adventure

[3/5 stars]

Not bad for what it is… A quick little text adventure in which you play the part of a programmer coming in to work over the weekend to fix a horrible bug in your program code.  The game is not without its frustrations–such as having to punch in a code to unlock a door every time you go through it.  Most of the solutions make sense, or are at least easy enough to figure out.  One thing that tripped me up for a while is that being in the same room as an object that you need to use is not necessarily the same thing as carrying the object.  Shouldn’t take more than a half hour or so, from start to finish.

 

The Abbey

[2/5 stars]

Fairly extensive mapping at first yielded a large map but no real direction on where to go.  Thus, this became boring quickly due to the poor pacing of the game and the story.  Still, it should earn some marks for good grammar and spelling and a dark, brooding atmosphere.

 

 Acheton

Too many text adventures lately.  I know from reading about this game that it is pretty brutal.  I think I’ll save this one for later.  Ad Verbum would be next, and I am looking forward to that one, but I am in the mood for a more graphical game right now.  So I’ll end this here and move on to the next one of those…