November 24, 2014

A game that helps you get fit

I have been gaining a bit of weight and never seem too motivated to go running. Recently I discovered a method so utterly fantastic it not only makes me want to get active, but I am motivated to go out for a walk or run much more frequently than I can. I actually look forward to it. I am so motivated and distracted to go on that I can now do 15km runs when I was struggling after 5km.

It's called Ingress and if you don't know it, it's an augmented reality game designed by Google, essentially it is a geotagging inspired war between 2 factions. A layer of science fiction fantasy over the real world. The introduction explains – “You have downloaded what you believe to be a game, but it is not”. I smirked at this, but quickly started to realised that it felt like much more than just a game, because of 2 important points – the places are real and the players are real. The idea is to capture portals in the real world, deploy bombs turrets and shields, ultimately gain ground from the opposing faction and gain power as you go. There are millions of players around the world and the struggle is continuous, so the motivation to claim the portals and level up to beat the opposition gets you motivated beyond anything I have ever tried in my life. Ingress is a compelling game and not specifically designed as a fitness aid, the motivation to exercise is a happy side-effect of what is an excellent game. A word of warning though, the players take it so seriously you start questioning – is it really fantasy if everyone involved believes in the cause to an almost religious degree? When I am running between portals being followed by a car from the opposite faction or when 2 hooded men step out of a shadowy doorway as you explode an EMP pulse weapon near their portal, it is then that I start wondering if it is really just a game.

This is not an ad, Ingress is a 100% free game (free NOT freemium) produced by Google as an overlay on their mapping infrastructure. It’s available for android and more recently for IOS which opens the game up to the iPhone user base. Download it, get confused, question the point, persevere and then wish you found out about this years ago.


November 08, 2014

Richard Burns Rally on Oculus Rift



Oculus rift breathes new life into this fantastic simulator. Richard Burns Rally is 10 years old, recognised for it's realistic physics and feel. The company that created the software Warthog was sold to Gizmondo which then went bankrupt. The title is kept alive by a community of modders. Sadly Richard Burns himself died in 2005.

The oculus rift mod has been developed Keijo "Kegetys" Ruotsalainen. You can download from his blog here - http://www.kegetys.fi/oculus-rift-mod-for-richard-burns-rally/

You will need RBR + the 1.02 patch which is available here - http://www.gamershell.com/download_7403.shtml

Please watch my video review with commentary or my silent review (below) for those that don't like to hear me yammering on. In short the game is phenomenal, a fantastic sense of movement, speed, elevation, etc, etc. An innovative menu system and layer within layer of oculus rift headset donning that made me think I was starring in either Inception or eXistenZ.


November 03, 2014

NewRetroArcade - The most immersive experience so far - video review

I have just played NewRetroArcade by Digital Cybercherries. First - if you haven't got it already - head over to this link and download it.

I have played many demos and games on the oculus rift. But this one utterly utterly blew me away. Without a doubt this was the most immersive experience I have had on the rift so far. Yes I have stepped out of the car in Assetto Corsa, yes I have flown into the depths of space. This beats them all. The demo has been developed using the unreal engine, this engine has been hit of miss for me with other demos, but clearly - done right - it is an amazing VR engine. My system is fairly powerful (i7 4970k, r9 270X) but struggles with some more graphically hungry games, I maintained a steady 75FPS throughout.

New retro arcade is splendidly constructed 1980's arcade room, With neon black lights illuminating a hideous glowing carpet, posters on the wall of movies of the day and objects scattered around the room you can interact with. In the arcade are rows of cabinets 90% of which you can walk up to and start playing. It's not clean which just adds to the sense of reality, the posters undulate, the cabs have scratches and dinks, the gameboy on the table (which you can play) is scuffed and battered. It's fantastic.

The VR front end clearly conceals a sophisticated emulator backend which seamlessly downloads the roms from a remote site and starts playing them as you approach. The controls move as you move the controls in your hand, the sound of live 80's music channels streams from a boombox on the desk, you can almost smell the cigarette smoke.

As well as a fully stocked arcade (which made me giggle like a school girl) there is also a bowling alley, basketball game and dart board ALL of which you can interact with and will keep score. Scattered around the room are C90 tape cassettes (kids google it) which you can pop in the boom box and listen to.

The overall experience is flawless. I cannot praise this highly enough, download it today.

BIG THANKS to the devs!