Posts Tagged ‘Videogames’

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COVID-19 – How realistic is Plague Inc?

March 19, 2020

Plague Inc is a simulation where the player evolves a plague, with the goal being to eradicate (or enslave, depending on the plague type) the entire world. The game has recently been removed from Steam (China only) and other online game stores in China, although there is no formal evidence this is linked to coronavirus / COVID-19.

Now, while it’s pretty easy to topically accuse Plague Inc of disrespecting those affected by COVID-19, I’m more interested in whether or not the game’s simulation of an actual pandemic outbreak comes close to what is happening right now, on this wonderful planet we call home.

There’s a very simple way to test this, which is what I’ve done: create a ‘virus type’ plague, give it coughing and pneumonia symptoms (adding pulmonary oedema later on), a few abilities that make it hard to cure, give it a starting location of China, let it loose and see what happens.

Some info about how I played this: I set the game difficulty to ‘mega brutal’ which means the world has the best chance of beating the plague. If the virus mutated, I removed the mutations to keep it as close to the current version of COVID-19, at least as far as we can figure out what that is, based on available information.

Here’s the story of how it played out, with some screen images of the way the simulated COVID-19 affected the world.

If the plague has no (serious) symptoms, it tends to go unnoticed for a long time, but in mega-brutal difficulty it can be spotted in a random health check.

Once people start to die, the plague gets mentioned in the news, a cure will start to be developed, and countries might start closing airports and locking land borders.

While the country where the plague started works on a  cure, the virus continues to spread to other countries.

China shuts its airports, but the plague has already got out and is infecting other countries quite quickly, albeit with only coughing and a bit of air transmission to pass it around.

As the death toll rises, the WHO puts the plague on a watchlist. Other countries are taking various actions but the cure is barely starting to be developed.

Less than a year in, and more than half the world has been infected. The cure is still more than a year away.

Random news events occur in the game. In this session, the USA President is taken ill. Note the news stream at the top of the screen casually mentions the UK distributing face masks.

This one is pretty realistic, with the 2022 world cup being cancelled. Looking at the state of that map, with almost the whole world infected (even Greenland – yay!) this is hardly surprising.

The cure is more than half completed, but the virus is still doing a good job of infecting almost the entire planet. Note – I didn’t allow the virus to mutate any symptoms, so this is still just coughing, pneumonia and pulmonary oedema causing these effects.

No healthy countries left. Some infected countries still have healthy people, and there are no destroyed countries due to the relatively low lethality of the virus.

Although, even with a fairly mild virus, the death toll is still high.

And…that’s it, they developed a cure and started to deploy it around the world. Congratulations, but look at the death count.

That graph shows the way the infectivity tended to rocket, while the severity and lethality were fairly flat. The highest peaks were where Pulmonary Oedema was introduced. I took it away the first time it appeared, although it seemed like it did fit in with the way COVID-19 is affecting people so I put it back later on.

This is interesting, at least by ‘graph’ standards. The death count, as a percentage, is very low – you can see it at the bottom, most noticeable at the lower right of the graph. The percentage is pretty close to the overall percentage of deaths per cases being seen with the actual COVID-19 virus.

And there you have it, all over in 665 days. I really, seriously, hope it doesn’t take that long to deal with COVID-19 and get everything back to whatever ‘normal’ used to feel like.

 

This opinion article was written on a dasKeyboard Model S Professional.
I also write novels – JW Tapper website

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Grim Dawn Forgotten Gods – Hardcore Oathkeeper – Part One

March 27, 2019

Last time I posted something like this on Arcadelife was back in 2013 when I was playing Diablo 3, trying to get a hardcore character to the level cap. This time (with a lot less available time) I’m trying out the new Oathkeeper class/mastery in Grim Dawn’s new expansion – Forgotten Gods, which was released about five hours ago on Steam.

I’ve already taken a couple of hardcore characters to level 50, completing the base game (i.e. not including the Ashes expansion) with one of them, so I’ve got a reasonable idea about what I’m doing. Unlike in Diablo 3, where there’s a 10 second countdown whenever you try to leave the game, Grim Dawn can be paused at any time and you can quit immediately – this makes hardcore mode considerably less stressful.

Currently, my hardcore Oathkeeper character is level 15, which is exactly where I planned to get it to on day one. I’d already figured out where I was going to assign mastery points which you can see here in a screenshot from the game (not from Grim Tools, which is a truly brilliant site, in case you were wondering):

Getting to level 15 was pretty quick. I used the Crucible (sort of an infinite arena mode if you don’t know what it is) from level 7 until I unlocked 5 devotion points, after a couple of runs through the Slith island very close to the start of the first campaign area. For early levelling, and clearing trash mobs, Aegis of Menhir is adequate but nowhere near as effective a starter skill as the Necromancer’s skeletons or the Shaman’s Devouring swarm. It starts to look good once you get the mastery bar up to level 5 and start putting points in the Avenging Shield skill which lets your Aegis hit more targets. This is what it looks like early on, in action at character level 6:


As I mentioned, I used the Crucible from level 7, once Aegis of Menhir was doing enough damage to be effective at clearing waves of enemies. Crucible is a quick and easy way to get 5 Devotion points before wading into the main campaign. I wanted to get the Fiend constellation as quickly as possible because of the percentage buffs to fire damage – which is the default damage type on Aegis of Menhir. You can modify it to acid damage, which I probably won’t bother with, and the whole point of that would be if you were going for a totally different damage focus on a particular build. Fiend also gives you this 25% chance damage effect – I’ve got it bound to Righteous Fervour which is being used as default attack (left mouse button). Just one point in that skill; I might stick with it but I’ll probably swap Flame Torrent out for a better devotion skill at a later stage.

Reprisal unlocks at mastery level 20. This looks very much like something they added in for all the people who quite sensibly want to dump all their attribute points in Physique and not bother putting any in Spirit. As you can see (pic below) each level of Reprisal lowers the energy cost of Aegis of Menhir in addition to adding a large amount of burn damage. It also includes a new buff type that appears in Forgotten Gods – the addition of a percentage of retaliation damage to attack damage. Again, they’ve realised the basic retaliation builds are a bit boring to play because you generally just stand there and don’t attack anything. This type of buff just gives you more options, like you’d maybe want to equip that Perdition set you’ve got hanging around but never really wanted to play a Retaliation build because it sounds too boring.

That’s about it for level 15. It’s pointless talking about gear because I’m picking up whatever drops and occasionally swapping around some items where I’ve got low-level rares and epics in storage. Nothing worth mentioning – it’s the same stuff every player will have seen if they’re played a few different characters through normal/veteran.

I’ll aim to get an update posted when I reach level 20. That could be before or after getting past the warden, depends how tanky the Oathkeeper is feeling at that point. If you’re playing this expansion, have a good time with it – it’s looking fun so far.

 

I also write novels: https://jwtapper.co.uk/
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Danmaku Unlimited 3 review (iOS / Universal)

August 10, 2017

10 word description: Bullet hell sequel. New modes. Unlockable firing methods. Beginner-friendly.

10 word review: Beautiful, intense, and tough as you want it to be.

You will like this if you enjoy: Bullet hell shooters. Seeing a screen full of gorgeous geometric shapes moving very, very fast.

The good news: A truly beautiful experience, both visually and the way it sounds. The controls are as intuitive and unobtrusive as possible, with no on-screen buttons, and minimal swipe controls that are virtually impossible to get wrong. Even the menus are crisp, clear and as gorgeous as the rest of the game.

The bad news: The game is hardly original, but then how could anyone genuinely expect a totally original gaming experience from the third game in a series within a genre that is as niche as bullet hell shooters? 

Arcadelife verdict: While it doesn’t really attempt anything groundbreaking, there’s a deeply compelling purity to the style, intensity and gameplay of DU3. The minor tweaks and improvements to what has gone before in this series are well-considered and definitely improve the overall experience. For bullet-hell fans, particularly fans of the genre on mobile devices, DU3 is an easy recommendation, with the very minor caveat that it isn’t going to blow your mind with its originality… only with its stunning beauty.

Arcadelife rating

Presentation – 9.5/10
Visuals – 9.5/10
Controls – 9/10
Content – 8/10
Fun – 8/10
Final rating – 9/10

PURE

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0.4
iTunes link
Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
iPhone 6 (iOS 10.3.2)
iPad Pro (iOS 10.3.2)
This review was typed on a Das Keyboard Model S mechanical keyboard – check them out, they’re really rather groovy.
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Danmaku Unlimited 3 – coming to iOS

June 30, 2017

I’m not even going out on a limb here, because this is guaranteed – Danmaku Unlimited 3 is going to completely rule on iOS. August is looking great so far – Boyka: Undisputed on the 1st, DU3 on the 10th. I might even review DU3, even though all my free time these days is devoted to writing and spectacularly failing to market my novels.

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Titan Quest iOS – Dev Diary 2

May 13, 2016

This has just been added on YouTube.

I played the hell out of Titan Quest on PC. The touch interface looks absolutely brilliant – great job, DotEmu. Now I just can’t wait to play this all over again on iPad, ten years after it was first released.

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Aliens vs. Pinball review (iOS / Universal)

April 27, 2016

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The first two Alien movies are easily in my top 10 favourites of all time, probably top 5 if I ever bothered to give the list any serious thought. AVP and the other sequels, well, not so much. The three tables in Aliens vs. Pinball are very good. The Aliens table is my favourite, and it also seems to be the most forgiving after a few games on each.

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It’s worth playing these tables while wearing headphones because a lot of effort has been put into the audio. The ambient sound effects are extremely atmospheric, and there are plenty of samples from the movies (and the game on the Alien Isolation table). A few of the Aliens samples did make me smile, because they were not the same ones that have been worn out through years of overuse, although the predictability of Hudson’s ‘Game Over’ line almost made it feel like a lazy inclusion. Note – almost, because it is a true classic, right up there with ‘I’ll be back’ in my opinion, and I would have been shocked if it had been left out.

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The AVP table is arguably more fun than the film. I can’t rate the Isolation table against the original game because I haven’t played Alien Isolation. I know I should have, but I’ve had to really cut down on gaming (and posting on Arcadelife, which you probably noticed) as I am using the majority of my free time for writing novels.

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Overall, Aliens vs. Pinball is a great addition to the already substantial mountain of Alien games, movies and other media. I didn’t hesitate in paying for the full unlock (less than five quid) and I am having a good time with all three tables.

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Arcadelife rating

Presentation – 9.5/10
Visuals – 9/10
Controls – 10/10
Content – 9/10
Fun – 9/10
Final rating – 9/10

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0
iTunes link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
iPhone 6
4th gen iPad

This review was typed on a Das Keyboard Model S mechanical keyboard – check them out, they’re really rather groovy.

I also write novels. Find out more: jwtapper.co.uk

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PewDiePie: Legend of the Brofist review (iOS / Universal)

September 28, 2015

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10 word description: Retro style 2D action platformer. Bosses, unlockables, humour, No IAPs.

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10 word review: The most essential ‘for gamers – by gamers‘ iOS release this year.

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You will like this if you enjoy: Platform games. Hard platform games. Platform games with some side-scrolling shooter levels. Parodious style gaming humour. Retro 16-bit graphics. Flatulent dogs.

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The good news: Controls, visuals, effects, level design, fun… it’s all here, all good, and it all works well together. Add in three difficulty levels, loads of unlockable stuff (characters, power-ups), no IAPS, and cloud-syncing, and you have one of the best platform/action games on iOS. 

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The bad news: The only problem I have with this game is understanding why some gamers are refusing to play a really good game because they don’t like the extremely popular YouTube gamer PewDiePie. Whatever next, refusing to play Call of Duty because you don’t like war? Hang on…

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Arcadelife verdict: This is a great game.

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Arcadelife rating

Presentation – 9/10
Visuals – 9/10
Controls – 9/5/10
Content – 8.5/10
Fun – 8.5/10
Final rating – 9/10

GREAT

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0.0
iTunes link

Outerminds website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
iPhone 6 (iOS 9.0.1)
4th gen iPad (iOS 8.4)
This review was typed on a Das Keyboard Model S mechanical keyboard – check them out, they’re really rather groovy.