## The Tech Deck

Posts tagged: gaming

# More details about Pac-Man than you could shake a stick at

I'm not old enough to have enjoyed Pac-Man during its heyday, but I am old enough to have had it on my Atari. I'm also old enough to have been around people who really dug it. (Somewhat related, our online director, Gina, is apparently a Ms. Pac-Man fiend. Challenge her at your next opportunity.)

But no one dug it as much as Jamey Pittman, author of the Pac-Man Dossier, digs it. It's a gold mine for anyone interested in perfecting the art of the Pac-Man marathon. History of the game, information about each of the ghosts and their patterns, technical glitches, pixel accuracy of collisions, the Pac-Man Dossier has it all.

Consider this tidbit:

Whenever Pac-Man makes a pre-turn or post-turn, his orientation changes, and he starts to move one pixel in his new direction for every pixel traveled in his old direction, effectively doubling his speed as he moves at a 45 degree angle. Once he reaches the centerline of the new direction's path, he starts moving purely in that direction and his speed returns to normal. The greatest distance advantage is thereby gained by making the earliest pre-turn possible. The illustration below shows the layout of pre-turn pixels (shown in green), center point pixels (shown in yellow), and post-turn pixels (shown in red) for each of the four possible directions a turn can be approached. Each example shows Pac-Man entering the same four-way intersection from a different direction. When entering from the left, there are three pre-turn pixels before the center of the turn, and four post-turn pixels. Conversely, entering the same intersection from the right yields four pre-turn pixels and three post-turn ones. Entering from the top as opposed to the bottom exhibits the same property. For any turn that is made later than the earliest possible pre-turn, Pac-Man will be one frame behind where he would be for every pixel of “lateness” in the turn. Basically, it pays to move the joystick well before reaching a turn to maximize your speed

What the what did I just read.

I encourage you to check it out.

The world falls dark as the power plant is overrun. You hear a helicopter in the distance. Get to it first and get out of here! The only thing stopping you is a horde of zombies and your crazed, probably bitten friends. Can you survive?

# What to play tonight?

Board games and tabletop games are fun boiled down to their basic components. In this blog we are here to figure out which games are packed full of good solid fun. Hope you enjoy my reviews and I look forward to hearing your responses.

# ‘FEZ’ takes players on perspective-altering journey

Title: FEZ
Genre: Puzzle/platformer
Platform reviewed on: Playstation 4
Developer: Polytron Corporation
Publisher: Polytron Corporation/Trapdoor
Release date (original): April 13, 2012

The resurgence of the platform genre can be attributed to the rise of the independent developer and the insatiable nostalgia of the modern gamer. 'FEZ,' from the somewhat schizophrenic mind of Phil Fish, plays on both of those themes to construct an experience that is as mind-bending as it is accessible, even if its physics hold it back from greatness.

You play as Gomez, a marshmallow-looking protagonist. Our only clues to his existence are his two-dimensional build and his penchant for the drums. Early in the proceedings, you're granted the titular “fez” by a nice old man who wants you to throw your entire world into a fit in order to save it. Once the fez is on your head, Gomez has the ability to shift the perspective, which the gamer accomplishes by hitting the trigger buttons of the controller. This causes the three-dimensional world to spin on its axis, revealing another two-dimensional plane that Gomez must then traverse in pursuit of yellow, phosphorescent cubes that will save the world from imploding on itself.

That's it. You now know what 'FEZ' is all about.

But, like Texas Hold 'Em, 'FEZ' will take you seconds to learn and much longer to master. Thankfully, trial and error is rewarded in the game, as falling off a ledge or a distance that Gomez can't stomach – death in most platformers – simply ends in you respawning within seconds at the point where you launched on your last, unsuccessful jump.

The level design in 'FEZ' is brilliant. You'll never find yourself in the same atmosphere for very long, and well-placed 'warp gates' that send you to hubs in the overworld keep things from devolving into monotonous back-tracking. In addition, 'FEZ' is chock-full of secrets and collectibles that beg experimentation, rather than simply looking up the solutions online.

Quoth the raven…

Where 'FEZ' falls short is in perhaps the most important of platforming features, and that is in tight gameplay. Gomez's momentum feels a tad off, and what he possesses in cuteness he lacks in responsiveness. Jumping takes a while to get used to, even to those who have wasted hours on Mario, Sonic and the like. 'FEZ' falls well short of the other great puzzle-platformer of the past generation, 'Splosion Man,' which features a protagonist that handles like an absolute dream.

Also lacking in 'FEZ' is any sort of story whatsoever. You'll complete the game and be treated to a trippy sequence that will cause your 'Matrix' sense to tingle, but alas, there's no all-important reveal to be had here (at least, not in your first playthrough). There's a new game plus option, which is laudable. But without a platinum trophy, I really have no desire to go through the game's seven hours again – even with the promise of puzzles that can only be solved the second time around.

Things get weird in the final act of 'FEZ.'

Verdict: 3.5/5 stars

# Every NES start screen. All of them.

I saw this on Wired and had to share it here. YouTube user NicksplosionFX compiled a video made up of every NES/Famicom start screen ever made. No big deal, right?

It's 2 hours, 50 minutes and 12 seconds long.

THAT's *kinda* a big deal. Can't even imagine the insane amount of time it must have taken to find all the ROMs, load them into an emulator, screen cap the title screen, rinse lather repeat, then edit it all together.

You sir, are both a gentleman and a scholar.

With all of the talk about the new PS4 and the Xbox One and all the next-gen games, there's really one one game I'm excited about. It's the new Advanced Edition of FTL: Faster Than Light.

At just \$10, you'll get more replay value out of this one simple app than half of your console collection combined. I've put in many, many hours into this game and I've yet to beat it. It's hard, but in a good way. It challenges you to think, it challenges you to react and make decisions, and it will bring you to your knees every time, but you'll want to get back up off of the ground and try it again because you were “this close,” every time.

And that's just the original version.

With the Advanced Edition, they've added tons of new stuff that will only enhance the replay value, and the killer feature that will likely make them a billion bucks once the whole world catches on: They made a version for iPad.

For full information, check out the announcement post: http://www.ftlgame.com/?p=598

# World of Warcrack

In yesterday's paper, there was a story about a woman in Coeur d’Alene who lost her children because she was playing World of Warcraft for “six to eight hours a day.”

In the comments, reader mentioned, “Thats why I call it World of Warcrack.”

It's not just one reader — a lot of people in the gaming community call it that. Note, for example, the Urban Dictionary definition for “warcrack”:

That's a sad story, but I know a lot of gamers who spend the same amount of time playing their WoW or their EVE Online (note: I was once guilty of this one) or their GTA 3/4/5. It's not just an isolated incident, it's an epidemic. At least she didn't die.

# SteamOS: Worth the hype?

If you haven't heard by now, there's a new gaming system called SteamOS that is trying to bring the world of PC gaming into the console-dominated living room. A custom Linux operating system that has been optimized specifically for video games, SteamOS is causing all sorts of excitement in the gaming community.

SteamOS is really three things right now: The operating system itself, the specifications for the hardware (known as “Steam Machines“), and their new haptic feedback, dual trackpad controllers.

I asked two local gamers some questions about the new platform to see what the hype is all about.

Technology stuff, Game reviews, poorly photoshopped images and offbeat humor from the geeks who run spokesman.com and spend too much time on Imgur/Reddit.

Send your nerd stuff to dang@spokesman.com and we might write about it. Or we might poorly photoshop it and mock it mercilessly, as all good nerds are wont.