Archive | June 2015

Why I Think Books Are Cool?

Reading is something that I’ve always done and never considered why. I do feel like it enriches my life, but I have found a love for books to be a bit of a rarity when meeting with others around my age. It’s not just a case of them having different preferences for how they’d like to invest their time, but they talk about books as if the idea of sitting to read them in an absurd notion. I’ve heard the activity described using words such as weird or uncool. I remember a few years back there were growing concerns over an issue where children had admitted to feeling embarrassed about being caught with a book. I think it’s a shame if these are the reasons for why a person doesn’t read as I don’t know if they even understand what they’re missing out on.

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Celebrate The Small Things: 26 June

  • f5f01-vik-smallthings2Had a lovely Fathers day and made a special pavlova for him with strawberries, passion fruit and Kiwi. My baking also seems to be expanding my own horizons as I enjoy playing with flavours and as a result I’m trying out different types of fruit.
  • Got a wedding coming up and I finally sorted out the outfit I’m going to wear – including getting shoes to fit my awkward feet.
  • Had a few disagreements with my friends the other week, but we met up and cleared the air. It actually turned out to be quite a fun evening out despite the circumstances for being there.
  • Found out about the return of the experience boost on Star Wars The Old Republic and so I can finally start to tackle the Republic stories.

Gaming Disappointments And Pleasant Surprises

I previously wrote a post about the power of expectation and how it can affect the way we feel about something. This is especially true for me when it comes to trying out new video games. There’s usually a lot of excitement around the release of a new game and we can be really critical of them when they’re not right. I noticed this trend with some of my favourite games and the ones that left me disappointed. It’s not because my disappointments were bad games that I’ll never play, they just didn’t deliver what I hoped from them. In turn I’ve had many pleasant surprises where I went in with either no initial feeling or even expecting them to be bad. You might have a totally different list to me in respect to this.

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Why Do I Enjoy Horror?

I enjoy a horror game or a movie from time to time, but most of the people I know find them to be really unpleasant or even distasteful. I find it difficult to explain why I’m drawn to horror, but it’s something that humans have been enjoying for a long time. I do have some barriers about what sort of content I feel is appropriate – I think this is different for each person -, but I also think that macabre is another way for us to express ourselves. It doesn’t mean that I like the thought of people suffering, but can be a way of coping with the darker side of life.

I have problems with anxiety, but horror gives me an opportunity to be brave. For some of us it’s a personal journey to test our own courage. Usually the scarier it is the better; The sense of achievement we get comes from sticking it out to the end. It can also help us to feel better about our own lives due to the stark contrast; No matter how bad times get, it doesn’t compare to our horror protagonist.

Horror gives us a bit of an adrenaline rush. I don’t actually enjoy the feeling of being scared, but I do like the relief that comes on the other side. When I reach the end credits of a survival horror game for instance, it can leave me feeling pleasantly giddy as the tension is released. This might also help to release some of the tension I’d already been feeling in my own life before starting the game. This is why I keep coming back; I walk away only remembering feeling good at the end, having forgotten all the scary parts. Apparently there have been studies that show we feel happier right after experiencing such an adrenaline rush. I can also make jokes and laugh at myself when I realize how silly I was for being scared.

I also like a good mystery, and it’s something that usually goes hand in hand with horror and our fear of the unknown. There’s that part of you that is terrified to go onwards, but at the same time curiosity gets the better of me. The exploration of the plot and learning to understand why things are happening is a part of the reward I get for sticking it out. I think I also enjoy exploration more when risk/reward plays a factor in it. I like my stories to be atmospheric too and as horror can be so emotionally heightened it can add to the engagement I feel with the world; My senses are more open to taking things in.

It’s difficult to explain why we would enjoy what are considered to be negative emotions and the reasons may differ from person to person. I think it’s OK to express ourselves in that way because it’s not real and it doesn’t have to define us. I’m actually a really sensitive person in real life, but horror gives me a bit of a thrill from a safe place.

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First Impressions Of ARK: Survival Evolved

So with the release of Jurassic World I’ve been in a bit of a dinosaur mood this week, then I just happened to come across an early access game on Steam called ARK: Survival Evolved. I don’t normally buy early access as there are just too many of them out there and I’ll usually lose interest before they’re even finished, but this game looked good enough to convince me. It’s a survival game set on an island filled with dinosaurs. You can build shelters, and tame and ride different dinosaurs. From what I can tell this game contains a lot of different types of creatures to keep it interesting.

I had a few issues when I first started playing. Like many survival games it came with little explanation on how to play. I was just plonked on a beach with Dodos and Parasaurs. Once you get to understand the game it’s actually quite simple to play, but I didn’t find it as intuitive as other games, like Don’t Starve for instance. The again, after looking at some start up guides it didn’t take me too long to get into the flow of things either. The game also crashed on me at one point and has had some lag at times, but with it being early access I guess the odd kink is to be expected. It still seems like a very playable game.

After getting past the early teething problems I found myself really engaging with the game. Your character seems to level up just by doing stuff like gathering and crafting. Each level up grants you the opportunity to improve a stat and provides points to unlock new engrams (crafting recipes.) I like this system as it means you have to think carefully about the choices you make and what you really need to enable you to keep on surviving. The only problem is that you don’t have that progression of crafting new stuff to allow you to craft even more stuff. Instead it’s set by how quickly you can level up and there have been times where I had crafted everything I wanted to, but wasn’t close to unlocking any more. The day/night cycles also feel quite long, which is great during the day, but the night-times can drag out – or maybe I just haven’t figured out what to do at this time yet.

Something that I do like about ARK is that it has a slightly more relaxed pace to other survival games. If your character dies the world and level remain the same, so you’re still making progress as opposed to losing everything and having to start over again. It means that I’m more willing to take risks and explore, while in more punishing games I can end up feeling a bit stressed and unwilling to move. I think it really works for this game too because we’re bound to fail a lot as we learn the system, explore the terrain and learn which creatures we can take on.

ARK is a really cool concept for a game and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes. At the moment there are a few things I’d like improving to make things a little easier – the map for instance – but for an early access game it’s already rather good.

What I’ve learnt about ARK so far:

  • At the start hunger can be satisfied by collecting berries from the many bushes scattered around. Meat can also be cooked on the campfire by placing it inside the inventory alongside the fuel.
  • To dehydrate you can just swim in the water.
  • When collecting resources from a tree, a pickaxe will gather more thatch, while a hatchet will provide more wood.
  • If an item breaks you can press the number for the quick item slot or access it in the inventory to repair it. If an item crafting recipe is left on the quick slot bar despite not having one, pressing the number key will craft one.
  • Dinosaurs can be knocked unconscious. They can be killed at this point or you can access an inventory.
  • An unconscious dinosaur can be tamed by placing berries or meat (depending on the dinosaur) in their inventory with Narco Berries/narcotics to keep them knocked out.

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Celebrate The Small Things: 12 June

  • f5f01-vik-smallthings2Had a wonderful break away for my anniversary. Been with my partner for 7 years now.
  • Returned from my break to some bad news, my uncle was taken ill, but he’s pulled through really well and seems to be feeling a lot better now.
  • My first ever attempt at a guest post was put up this week – Passionate Geeks!
  • Went to the cinema with some friends to see Spy. Very funny film.
  • Got a decent amount of programming done for a new feature I’d like to add to Share And Bake.
  • Made my first pavlova. People found it so tasty I had to make a second because it disappeared too quickly. Good practice for making meringue though.

Passionate Geeks: One Geek’s Story

I came across this really awesome idea on the blog Eclectric Alli. They’re offering a space to share who we are and the things we love. It’s a chance to show how wonderful geeks can be. A new guest post will be added on the second Wednesday of each month and they’ve given me the privilege of being the first one.

You can read more about it here – Introducing Passionate Geeks!

Eclectic Alli

Passionate Geeks is a monthly feature (the second Wednesday of the month), where I invite people to explore and share about those things that they are passionate about.
What kind of a Geek are you?

The first Passionate Geek to share with us all is Jo Osborne!

Jo is an aspiring indie developer with qualifications in game development.  She has always been drawn to anything creative, with a passion for programming and art.  She also considers herself to be a lifelong learner, always searching for ways to help make her own segment of the world a brighter place.

Being a geek has shaped my life in many different, but wonderful ways. I’m easily excitable and can be a very eager and enthusiastic person. I find it all too easy to fall in love with new experiences and have tried my hand at all sorts of activities including art, pottery, photography, baking and…

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We’re Tougher Than We Think – The Walk To The Top Of Snowdon

We hear a lot about how life is short and that we should really be making the most of it. The fact that I only have this one life has led me to think of it as a box that I want to fill with experiences. I want to enjoy living my own stories and adventures. As such, when the opportunity to try something new comes along – within reason of course – I try not to hesitate from having a go.

When I was younger my parents would take me out a lot. When we went on holiday we would fit in so much that it could be exhausting. They also love the outdoors and took me on lots of walks. I remember moaning about it at the time, partly because of my fallen arches causing me pain on rough terrain, but also because I didn’t like being taken away from my computer. Now that I’m older I look back with fondness at those memories and I actually really appreciate the fact that my parents provided me with so many experiences. It allowed me to learn more about myself and the world.

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