Games Mindsets

Fighting Waterblight Ganon in Legend of Zelda is like Groundhog Day

My gaming experience in Legend of Zelda was going so well, until I found myself facing Waterblight Ganon in the Divine Beast Vah Ruta. Defeating this creature requires a level of coordination that seems to elude me.

Waterblight Ganon, right before it smites me for the nth time.

I’m slowly getting the hang of jumping out of the way (although in some rounds, my special skill seems to be jumping into the path of Waterblight Ganon’s spear), but when it comes to switching to an attack, or using my runes to smash incoming blocks of ice, I just seem to hit the wrong buttons. And die. Repeatedly.

Apparently this creature is the easiest of the four Divine Beast monsters, to boot. Hopefully this isn’t a case of me simply being the wrong generation to handle a dozen or so buttons on a controller. I don’t know how kids can be so coordinated.

Thankfully there are guides with tips on how to defeat these creatures. Unfortunately, you still need a level of skill to execute. My wife helpfully suggested that I just get my son to do this level for me. I’m tempted.

Entertainment Games

Legend of Zelda tops Fortnite for me

Two of the games we’ve been playing on our Nintendo Switch lately are Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Fortnite. I’ve been playing both games, and I think Legend of Zelda has become my favourite of the two games.

Fortnite is fun, for sure

My son is a huge Fortnite fan, and has been waiting for an opportunity to play the game since it launched. He started playing the game when it was released on Android, and really got into the game when we bought the Switch. I wasn’t that interested, initially, but started playing on the Switch.

If you’re not familiar with Fortnite, it’s a fun tactical shoot-em-up game where you can go play in a variety of game modes including 50 v 50 (where you are part of a group of 50 players going up another group of 50 players), a sniper shoot-out, you versus everyone else with the last player left alive winning the match, and even a playground mode where you can explore the space and hone your skills.

The game is more fun than I thought it would be. Sure, you spend your short time in the game shooting at other players, trying not to be killed by others, and escaping a lethal storm that creeps in from the edges of the island you on. On the other hand, it’s a very tactical game that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Games tend to be pretty short, and each game is a different opportunity to pick up new gear, improve your skills, and play with your friends. In that sense, it’s also a weird sort of game. My son could play for hours if we let him, and at the same time it’s also been a way for him to spend more time with his friends.

As for me, I’m still figuring this game out. Quite frankly, I’m terrible. I don’t build structures that tend to be highly recommended to protect you from other players, I can barely hit a moving target (which is problematic, obviously), and on the few occasions I’ve won the game, it’s been because I ran in the wrong direction.

Of course, I’ll improve when I play more. The thing is, I’ve become more of a Legend of Zelda fan so that’s where I spend more of my time.

Legend of Zelda is a varied adventure each time

Legend of Zelda is a quest game, basically. You start off having woken up from some sort of slumber, and slowly discover who you are, what’s been happening in this world in the century that you’ve been asleep, and what your ultimate goal is.

Unlike Fortnite, you play Legend of Zelda on your own. My kids and I each play the game. My son and I are quite a bit further along in the game than my daughter, and what amazes me is how much thought has gone into this game.

In Fortnite, you have pretty much the same landscape as your battlefield. Your task is collect better weapons, kill everyone else, and have fun in the short time you play each game.

Legend of Zelda feels like an open world that continuously surprises me. The initial quest seems pretty simple: collect a number of special objects, and then head off to fight the Big Bad. Except it isn’t.

Completing the initial quest is just the start of an expanded quest with increasing variations, surprises, twists, and turns. There seems to be something new to explore in the former kingdom of Hyrule each time I return to play.

This could be returning to a forest I ran through, only to discover hidden treasures all over the place. Or, perhaps, a whole new adventure sparked by a conversation with some random villager, or taking a different path to the last time.

Then there are mysterious shrines scattered across the land, each with a different test or puzzle to overcome. This game is pretty much what you make of it. There’s no straight line to the Big Bad, only degrees of complexity in your journey.

To add to that, the way you play will give you a very different experience of the game to another player. I’ve seen this when I watch my son play. He’s taken a very different direction in his game, and his experiences have been just as different.

What I don’t have, is the sense of watching my future game unfolding by watching him play. Sure, I gain some insight into other regions of the world that I haven’t explored yet, but my experiences will vary from his because I have different weapons, equipment, and a pretty different path.

Even though there are two expansion passes, I have a feeling that I’m going to be playing this game for quite some time before I need to add more complexity to my game.

Fortnite, on the other hand, is fun to play with friends, but lacks the intellectual challenge, and sheer diversity of options that Legend of Zelda delivers.

If I want to play something with my son, I’ll dive into Fortnite (he’s much better than I am, and enjoys taking me out with rocket launchers). When it comes to settling in for a couple hours to explore a world, kill monsters, and find cool weapons, I’ll head back to Hyrule.

Devices Games Mobile Tech

My new gaming adventure

I haven’t been much of a gamer (at least not since childhood), until I started a new, casual gaming adventure in the last week or two. It started when we bought a Nintendo Switch for home.

We opted for the Switch because it seemed to be a better choice for the whole family. I also really like the sorts of games I’ve been hearing about from Nintendo.

We started off with Legends of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Minecraft, and Fortnite (our son introduced me to this one). So far, Legends of Zelda is my favourite game on the Switch. It’s a remarkable adventure, and our son and I are constantly comparing notes about where to find gear, how to solve the next challenge, and how to stay alive in the game.

I’ve also started playing a game or two on my Android phone. I really enjoy Alto’s Adventure, in Zen mode. I like just skiing across the landscape, and getting back up each time I hit a rock, or fall down a crevice.

The imagery in Alto’s Adventure is wonderful. Even those moments after a crash have a profoundly contemplative feel to them,

My ideal would be to play Alto’s Adventure (or even the follow-up, Alto’s Odyssey – I haven’t started playing this one yet) on the Switch, but the game only seems to be available on iOS or Android.

Our next game is probably going to be Mario Kart 8. We want a game we can play together, and this one seems like a great option. I’m also looking forward to the launch of the Nintendo Switch Online service that seems like it will bring the older NES games to Switch devices as part of the subscription service.

The timing for this is great. I’m on vacation with our kids for the next two weeks, and playing games like these together are a great way to unwind between the outings we have planned.

Games People

Playful approaches to spam email

Spam email is the scourge of our modern communications infrastructure. We forget how much rubbish we receive because we have pretty good spam filters that hide it all from us. Still, it sits there in the background, accumulating until we take that immensely satisfying step of deleting all of it with a single click. Until next time.

James Veitch has a wonderful approach to spam. He turns dealing with it into a game that winds up tormenting the tormentors. In this first video, he tackles those annoyingly ineffective “unsubscribe” links:

In this next video he revealed what happened when he did that thing people say you should never do: he replied to spam email, with style. Brace yourself!

Awesome, right?

Image credit: Mathyas Kurmann


Something for my wife and other Pokemon Go fans

My wife sheepishly told me she downloaded Pokemon Go on her phone last night. I didn’t really know what she was talking about so I made some sort of noise that sounded vaguely supportive and understanding.

Today I see reports of people going crazy about this game and I can see why. I’m still debating whether I want to actually install the game and play it but I know that I have temporarily lost my wife to the game for now. It’s probably only a matter of time until our son follows …

In the meantime, I had to share this great xkcd cartoon highlighting a way to have even more fun with fans.

Postscript (2016-07-12):

iMore has published a guide for new Pokémon players titled “Beginner’s guide: How to play Pokémon Go!“. I know this is just feeding the habit (in particular my wife who may be lost to us for a few weeks) but I’m a sharer.

Events and Life Games Mindsets

My wake-up call to play more with our kids

One of my friends gave me a long overdue wake-up call to play more with our kids recently. I was at a local park with our kids, along with my friend and his boys. We started playing some sort of Israeli version of “Tag” (at least what I understand the game to be) where one person has to touch one of the others playing the game, who then becomes “it”.

It was fun and it was different to what I usually do at the park with our kids. I tend to see an outing to the park as either an opportunity to crash in the open air and relax or follow our kids around on their bikes teaching them to ride. Running around dodging kids trying to grab me was actually a lot of fun, even though it also reminded me that I’m not as agile as I thought I was (I landed on my butt at least once).

As we were about to leave, my friend said to me:

You should play more often with your kids, they love it. I used to do it all the time with my boys.

At first, I was a bit taken aback. For one thing I didn’t think that I was one of those parents who didn’t play with my kids. Of course I did, didn’t I? When I thought about it I realised that I tend to resist playing with them for some or other reason. Usually it is because my idea of park downtime means emulating the trees rather than running, jumping and swinging with seemingly superhuman energy.

I also started to feel more than a little ashamed that I had failed to realise that my role as a Dad is to play with my kids, not just watch them play by themselves. I can be selfish when it comes to my downtime and this experience gave me an “when I am on my deathbed one day I won’t wish I spent less time playing with my kids and more time sitting on my butt on the sidelines” epiphany.

Our kids loved that I played with them, even if it was only for a short time. They really loved seeing their Dad try dodge them and fall down. It also felt pretty good to be more active (also helpful to keep my Diabetes under control too). I started feeling the need to get over my default laziness and play with them, at the very least to face my usual lethargy with some vigour.

I’m fortunate to have a few friends who are great Dads. They always seem to be so actively involved in their kids’ lives, doing stuff with them and making time for them. I have many moments when I feel like I can do so much better at this Dad thing than I have been. Our kids deserve a Dad who will play more with them and finding the balance in my life to give them what they deserve feels pretty challenging at times.

I remember thinking that marrying Gina in my early 30s was a good age because it meant that when we had kids, I’d still be young enough to keep up with them and play with them. Now, at 40, my body protests a bit more than it used to but I was right. I just have to get off my butt and start doing that.

Image credit: Pexels

Games Legal Writing

T&Cs don’t apply during a zombie apocalypse

Rian tweeted this last week and I meant to post it sooner. Amazon updated its Service Terms and included this odd exclusion to its “Acceptable Use” clause in the section dealing with its Lumberyard Materials service:

57.10 Acceptable Use; Safety-Critical Systems. Your use of the Lumberyard Materials must comply with the AWS Acceptable Use Policy. The Lumberyard Materials are not intended for use with life-critical or safety-critical systems, such as use in operation of medical equipment, automated transportation systems, autonomous vehicles, aircraft or air traffic control, nuclear facilities, manned spacecraft, or military use in connection with live combat. However, this restriction will not apply in the event of the occurrence (certified by the United States Centers for Disease Control or successor body) of a widespread viral infection transmitted via bites or contact with bodily fluids that causes human corpses to reanimate and seek to consume living human flesh, blood, brain or nerve tissue and is likely to result in the fall of organized civilization.

I highlighted the relevant bit which basically means that the Acceptable Use restrictions don’t apply in the event of a zombie apocalypse. I hadn’t heard of Lumberyard before and I thought it might be a bit of a trojan inserted into the Service Terms to see if anyone was paying attention. It turns out to be a legitimate service:

Amazon Lumberyard is a free, cross-platform, 3D game engine that allows you to create the highest-quality games, connect your games to the vast compute and storage of the AWS cloud, and engage fans on Twitch. By starting game projects with Lumberyard, you can spend more of your time creating great gameplay and building communities of fans, and less time on the undifferentiated heavy lifting of building a game engine and managing server infrastructure.

Lumberyard includes everything a professional game developer would expect, from a full-featured editor, to native code performance and stunning visuals, and hundreds of other ready-to-use features like performant networking, character and animation editors, particle editor, UI editor, audio tools, and more. Additionally, Lumberyard unlocks huge scale with AWS and Twitch so that you can more easily build live multiplayer and community-driven games.

So, basically, if the zombie apocalypse breaks out and the Internet survives it, you can use Lumberyard Materials for a range of “life-critical or safety-critical systems” which may include autonomous drone strikes on large groups of zombies; securing nuclear facilities or travelling into space when it looks as if the Earth is lost.

Image credit: Zombie by Samantha Bennett, licensed CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


Is Scrabulous Going Bye Bye?

Here’s a scary thought for hundreds of thousands of people … including my wife:

Is Scrabulous Going Bye Bye?: “

According to Josh Quittner, Hasbro may actually be shutting down the insanely popular Facebook application, Scrabulous. They must be one of the dumbest companies to make such a horrible decision. I have a better idea: acquire Scrabulous. The developers of the application took the time to build the app and profited a minor amount. Eliminating Scrabulous from the applications will surely cause an overall decrease in the site’s traffic.

Yesterday alone there was a whopping 569,206 users on the application. That ranks it the ninth most popular application yesterday. I am willing to bet that the Scrabulous revolt will go far beyong the Beacon revolt that started in the blogosphere. I have to wonder why it took so long for Hasbro to take any action. The application has been accused of violating copywright law for months but now the developers have officially received a letter from Hasbro.

According to Techcrunch, the discussion is now taking place among the lawyers. Are you one of the many Scrabulous users? Do you think we will see a mass exodus from Facebook if the Scrabulous team can’t defeat Hasbro?

(Via All Facebook.)

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