Geek Stuff

Playing Degrees of Separation on The Switch

I’m not sure what it was about Degrees of Separation that first got my attention, but I’d been looking for it on sale for a while.

Loading up the two player game, I suggested to the seven year old that she may want to join. She gladly took my up on the offer, and joined in.

We found that Degrees of Separation is a puzzle driven platformer, with the focus on how your characters impact the surroundings. He freezes the world around, she heats it up – and the two of you can’t touch.

We’re playing through this as a two player co-op, but there are also one player, and online versions available.

First impressions, is quite simply that this game is beautiful to look at. Each level is coloured differently to reflect the part of the screen your character is in, seamlessly changing as you both move around. 

The puzzles focus on team work between the characters, she impacts the world in ways he can’t, and vica versa. And if one of you playing is a seven year old, you may catch yourself saying that teamwork is important time and time again. I’ll leave you to decide if this is a good thing.

One last point for now, this isn’t a particularly action packed game, it immersive, and it pays to take your time. But I found it a good excuse to explain to the small one to slow down, and to appreciate what the game has to offer. Don’t expect levels to complete in this game, think… more long chapters in a book.

We’re not far into it yet, but (at the time of hitting publish), this is on sale in the Nintendo Switch store for just a few quid. I’d recommend going and grabbing it.

Indeed judging from the request from the small one, I think the small one would agree.

Here’s the trailer.

The Star Wars Holiday Special

I don’t know why I do this to myself. Every year, I try and watch this – I think I just like to see how far I can get. I’ve reached 19 minutes could be a new personal best.

Worth watching for the cultural legendness. Stop watching it for the incoherent wookie speak.

Computer Games, Loot Boxes, and The Gambling Question.

I’m not sure if it was a tweet I replied to about Loot Boxes, or a previous blog post about computer games, but I recently received an email asking for an opinion on whether In-game spending should be regulated by gambling laws, and so-called loot boxes banned entirely for children.

While I didn’t have the chance to reply in the time frame needed, I also wasn’t sure if I had any thoughts or opinions to share.

So here is my attempt at forming some.

In my defence, most of my gaming experience is around playing Mario, or Sonic The Hedgehog. And for years, the iPhone has been the most up to date gaming hardware I owned, but that in turn gave experience of In App Purchases. In App Purchases (Referred to above as In-game spending), is simply the option of buying extra services within the game or app you’re using.

This I would argue can be a good thing. It can give the user a chance to try out software that would normally cost to try it out, or let them have basic functionality of the app, while keeping the high end stuff for people who are willing to pay for those services.
It can also be a bloody annoying thing, as anyone who plays an EA game on the iphone can testify to. (EG “Do you want to play this game quicker? Pay some money”).
Its that second point which could make in game spending a bad thing…

Adam Alter, in his TED Talk below talks about how media is getting rid of Stopping Cues. A stopping cue is basically a signal that it’s time to move on, to do something new, to do something different. And — think about newspapers; eventually you get to the end, you fold the newspaper away, you put it aside.
Netflix, works by removing the stopping cue that is the end of the episode. (Autoplaying onto the next episode). Netflix binging is officially a thing. We as a human race, are not good at stopping an easy or fun task without being told to stop.
I wonder what happens when people are playing a game, come across a stopping point, but have the ability to go on, even if at a price?

Loot Boxes, from what I can gather, is this, but the next level up…
In video games, a loot box is a consumable virtual item which can be redeemed to receive a randomized selection of further virtual items, or loot, ranging from simple customization options for a player’s avatar or character, to game-changing equipment such as weapons and armor.
The contents of the Loot Box don’t have to be predictable.
It feels we’re now talking about gambling.
But not just gambling.
If you’re playing a game, and given the option of spending money to progress, there has been a lot of thought put in to get you to pay for that progress.

Its your willpower against expert user design.
Good Luck.


PC Gamer.

The Guardian.

When You Play Computer Games With Kids

After playing Mario Rabids with the small one, I couldn’t help but wonder if there are three distinct stages.

Obviously, when its time to take control of the game back, the game was so much harder than it would have been if I was allowed to help earlier…

The Frozen 2 Trailer

The hype train is starting.

Six years after Frozen was released… (YES its six years since Frozen came into our lives, and “Let it go” took its place in our collective nightmares subconscious), the second one is incoming.

Here’s the trailer for Frozen 2.

We already have an excited six year… its going to be a long wait until November.