Computer Den in 1995

This is a small gallery of my “computer den” at my parents place in 1995, just prior to moving into my own apartment in Vangede – where I’m still living at the time of typing these letters.

So this is where it all started and ended on the Commodore 64. Where I created my music editors on both the C64 and AdLib on the PC, and where I composed most of my chiptunes.

Again, I apologize for the potato quality. It was a really lousy camera.

C64 Freaks

Here’s a collection of photos from 1988 to 1999 of various oldskool computer freaks, including yours truly. I apologize for the potato quality of the earlier ones – both my camera and my scanner at the time sucked.

People who know me would probably want me to explain those two last ones. I’ve been overweight most of my life, but around that time I actually managed to lose more than 30 kg.

Too bad it didn’t last long. 🙄

The Swapper

Read more “The Swapper”

Developer: Facepalm Games | Released: 2013 | Genre: Platform, Puzzle

This was a platform puzzle game with very little dexterous jumping, at least across gaps. It was focusing on the story and the interconnecting puzzles, sometimes with more than one puzzle chamber available at a time. The goal was usually to obtain a few orbs from these puzzles to turn on something and proceed.

It had incredibly convincing graphics. Together with the overuse of blurry, out of focus surroundings and the strong echo/reverb on the sound effects, it made for a very dark and creepy atmosphere indeed. There were no monsters, but those from Aliens would have felt right at home here. No doubt about that.

Handcrafted art assets and clay was used to create the game levels.

Screenshot

I could clone up to four versions of myself that moved like I did, and I could swap my point of control with the other mouse button. Pads had to be stood on, crates pushed, red lighting prevented swapping, cyan lighting prevented cloning, and magenta lighting prevented both. Sometimes there were also air shafts. These rules created puzzle chambers that were sometimes quite challenging. It was also not uncommon that I had to clone and swap in a timely manner, usually while the clone was in midair.

There was a light story where I sometimes briefly spotted another astronaut that said a thing or two, I could pass by strange stones that “thought” a few lines of text to me, and apparently it all took place onboard an enormous spaceship. However, I didn’t play much more than 1½ hours until I abandoned it. Somehow the game made me feel uneasy, like I couldn’t relax and have a good time when I played it.

UPDATE: I went back and completed the game after all.

Firewatch

Developer: Campo Santo | Released: 2016 | Genre: Adventure, Facile

This first person game mainly took place in a national forest in Wyoming in the late 80’s. As the bearded and mild-mannered Henry, I was assigned to my own watchtower. A lot of dialog was exchanged between him and his boss Delilah on a walkie-talkie. Sometimes she sent me out to investigate the origins of smoke or some other task, exploring the canyons, forests and lakes.

This game was really blurring the line between a walking simulator facile adventure and a proper one. It didn’t have puzzles and there was a lot of walking (even backtracking) but there was an evolving story, cliff sides to scale, ropes to rappel down from, and even later upgrades that would give access to previously blocked areas such as e.g. keys to a large cave or an axe to cut down a tree for walking on.

My watchtower was sometimes even broken into while I was gone.

I absolutely loved this game. It was totally my thing. It was relaxing, easy, the voice acting for Henry and Delilah was very professional, and although the paths in the valley was sometimes a bit fenced in by rocks and falling trees, it was still great fun exploring. I could check a compass to make sure I was going in the right direction, or look at a paper map (which gave me a touch of Far Cry 2 vibes).

Screenshot

Sometimes I found a yellow cache box. The code was always the same – was a minigame shelved here?

The game started with a sad tale of Henry and his wife that develops dementia. This part was told via big, centered text and two choices for some of them. It reminded me a bit of the beginning of Pixar’s animated movie, Up, and it also had a subtle smell of Visual Novel.

In the watchtower, where the game began properly, the story evolved from looking for two littering drunk teenage girls, a pole wire being cut, calling in a forest fire that generated a lot of smoke in the valley, and discovering a weird surveillance of Henry and Delilah. The latter wound up into quite some tense dialog from especially Delilah, almost freaking out at times with paranoia.

Don’t worry, I won’t spoil the details here – but it was definitely never boring.

Apart from a tiny exception in the end, there were never any people to meet face to face. Henry had quite some body awareness with arms and legs shown while e.g. climbing. I did adopt a small turtle (it was cute), saw a raccoon (that Delilah accidentally spooked off on my radio) and got stung by a bee. I was even knocked out at one point, but I still didn’t see an animated face.

TitleLengthDatesDiff / ChtSaveScore
Firewatch
2016 Campo Santo4h 47m 2
2019-04-07
2019-04-08
9

To see a page with all the PC games I have played – along with an explanation of the abbreviations – click here.

Tiny & Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers

Read more “Tiny & Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers”

Developer: Black Pants Studio | Released: 2012 | Genre: Platform, Third Person

This really was a paradoxical game for me – one I both loved and hated, all at the same time.

The game had absolutely charming art and sound. The graphics reminded me of a cute amalgamation of Borderlands and Psychonauts, and the music cassettes that could be picked up turned on the suitable band music. Tiny and Big had their grunts while the dialog was presented in black bubbles.

In short, Tiny was chasing Big who had stolen grandpa’s magical underpants.

The basic rules of the game were pretty simple. Climb and explore using three tools – a laser to cut up stones, a rope to pull towards me, and a sticky rocket mine to throw and detonate. To help with the pulling, I could also push like Lara Croft, only even bigger things. Cutting up stones was by far the most novel and ingenious thing about the game. A marker line could be twisted and then triggered for laser action.

Screenshot

Corners could be cut for walking where jumping was inadequate, or big poles could be cut and then pulled for creating makeshift bridges. Fully fledged physics were part of the 3D engine, making it important to be careful about how things tumbled down. This part of the game was so much fun, and the pulling and pushing added the perfect extra touch. It made it easy to tweak and adjust for jumping.

Throwing rocket mines was less useful. Sometimes it could help shifting a wall or a pole, but to be honest, I think I could have completed the game without that tool.

I don’t think I have played a more vertigo-inducing game than this, or if I have, it’s sure to be in the top five along with the worst from the likes of e.g. Tomb Raider. The many vertical levels with thin walkways or tipped pillars often made me lift my shoulders.

This is the kind of game I’m not sure I would ever go VR for.

Quoting Books Abandoned

I’ve now removed the three blog posts I wrote about quoting books.

Since the first post, I’ve been concerned whether I’ve been quoting too much from these books, making me a target for receiving a legal warning or worse. Consequently, I’ve decided not to pursue this any longer.

Besides, it was always a lot of work typing in all the marked paragraphs. I really don’t want to look forward to such a hump of work after finishing a book. I’ll continue writing posts about PC games, however.

Parallax

Developer: Toasty Games | Released: 2015 | Genre: FPS, Puzzle

Played about 30-40 minutes of this one, enough to complete up to and including chapter B-4.

The game was actually well made and with a an interesting puzzle mechanic. Although in the vein of first person puzzle games like Portal, there was no gun. Only running, clicking buttons and jumping. Interactive buttons could flip round portal mirrors (of which only one side could enter the negative realm) or bridges. In chapter B, speed boost pads were introduced. No doubt other cute gimmicks were awaiting in the later chapters, but after B-4, I decided to abandon the game.

As mentioned, it wasn’t the game – it was me.

The game was monochrome (black on white or vice versa depending on the realm) and had absolutely no story whatsoever. This was just level after level of short puzzle areas with hovering walkways. It made it feel a lot like a “VR training” feature in an extra menu option of a much larger game, and I’m usually yearning for more than that in the games I play. A story, an atmosphere – some kind of an experience.

Screenshot

I also had trouble creating a “mental image” of how a chain of flipped portal mirrors would open the way to the goal. I was afraid this might mean a lot of tedious trial and error awaiting in the later chapters.

TitleLengthDatesDiff / ChtSaveScore
Parallax
2015 Toasty Games

5h

1

2019-04-02
2019-04-02
8

To see a page with all the PC games I have played – along with an explanation of the abbreviations – click here.

High Sturgeon’s SID Collection

I’ve now been listening through a ton of folders in DeepSID while curating for the Decent and Good sort modes for each letter folder in MUSICIANS. If you are even remotely familiar with the High Voltage SID Collection, you may be aware that there’s a lot of garbage there.

Sturgeon’s law would have a field day with this collection.

After a while listening through so many tunes, a pattern of repeated rookie mistakes started to emerge. I repeatedly stumbled into the same mistakes over and over – surefire hints that the composer was subpar, or at least started off on the wrong foot. Of course, there are the obvious hints like bad harmonies or artsy noise experiments, but the following are much more common indicators.

A sign of a subpar folder is when…

  • A tune starts with filtered noise sounds resembling waves at the beach, then typically overstays the welcome. Yes, I get it, you thought this was awesome. We all did. Now get on with it.
  • Discovering that reusing the exact same notes in the other voices can make the tune so much louder. Especially annoying with thunks. Having to turn down the volume for a SID tune is surreal.
  • The beginning of the tune has a simple pattern, perhaps only one voice of bass notes, then repeating this for several minutes until something finally changes. Praise be the Faster button.
  • A conversion of Axel F, The Final Countdown, Crockett’s Theme or the theme of Airwolf are present. There may still be hope – great composers also converted those – but they usually do not bode well.
  • The notes for the leader is meandering in a pseudo-random manner, indicating that the composer just typed in whatever. Also, typically the next note is different than the previous one.
  • Repeating rookie mistakes, like pulse sounds pulsating past their boundaries thereby producing a nasty click, or sliding down then wrapping around to produce high-pitched squeaks.

There are also other things that you would think might be in the same vein, such as using Future Composer or Sound Monitor, but that’s actually not fair. Maybe the composer didn’t have access to anything else but was still talented. Even Deflemask has managed to produce awesome tunes in spite of its memory curse. I rarely let the choice of player color my first-hand impression of a folder.

Except maybe Rock Monitor.