the librarian: a short game

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I just spent 20mins on a game of The Librarian, a short game by Octavi Navarro. It really is very short, and uses simple 8-bit graphics. The MC is a librarian, who is woken up in the middle of the night by a creepy gust of wind, followed by the appearance of a mysterious owl with a note that says “There’s something wrong at the library.”

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The librarian puts on her uniform and finds her way to the library.

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The game consists of exploring and puzzle-solving. Clicking around to move the character; some objects can be picked up to be used later. At one point the former librarian is discovered. Who was the former librarian? How long has the body been there? Who sent the note? What is the end goal of the game?

The are no answers, only more exploration and using collected objects, this gameplay is not unfamiliar to anyone who has played a game. Nothing much goes on, but that makes it more interesting.

All of a sudden, I couldn’t click anymore and the game has finished. That really was very short. The Verge says:

the experience feels less like an adventure game, and more like the video game equivalent of a poem


One of the best known games of this genre of story-exploration-without-too-much-purpose is Gone Home, which tackles a somewhat controversial topic and yet winning Polygon’s 2013 game of the year. Both of these games are more like a visual version of a short novel rather than a computer game, and that may not be everyone’s cup of tea. I thought The Libarian was pretty good, although to be fair I got it for the low, low price of free. Gone Home is US$14.99 and I don’t think that’s a right price point for me.

geoguessr

And, more packing. I made a start on Papa’s room, clearing the old desk and his desk. Keeping paperwork with me when we move, just like I packed the files in my filing cabinet to 4 office boxes.

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For a bit of light relief, I’m playing geoguessr. It’s been around for a while. It’s a game that drops the player in a random location and the trick is to put a pin on the google map to as close to the actual location as possible. We can focus on a smaller area, like central london. There’s the blazingly obvious, like the London Eye above.

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Or the obvious to Londoners, like the Odeon Shaftesbury Ave, which I’m surprised is still around.

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There are really obscure building sites and residential streets. Luckily we can move around the map and sometimes street name signs are vaguely visible. If not the street name, it may be possible to deduce council. This pretty mews can be anywhere, but walking out to the main street and I could see Post Office Tower in the background so I can guess the approximate location.

Pretty fun game to take my mind off things for a few minutes.

pubg

I read about this new game in the app store called PUBG mobile. The reviews are very good, and lots of praises for the quality of a mobile game.

I’m not a prolific gamer. I play candy crush or farmhouse heroes. Sometimes I find a game I like I’ll play it a little more then I tend to lose interest. I’ve never paid any attention to shooting games, and this PUBG is just another shooting game. Or so I thought. It’s something called a battle royale game:

Each match drops 100 players into a vast, open map where they scrounge up gear and wage gun battles in an effort to be the last player or squad standing. A randomly selected “safe” zone pushes players into an ever-shrinking portion of the map, ensuring that matches end in a reasonable amount of time.

I don’t know what drove me to download it but I did. It’s pretty hard to see on the small iphone screen, I try to make do.

So I parachute onto an island:

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I pick up weapons (the game automatically picks up items when I walk over them) and explore the island on my own in a solo game, or with teammates in a duo or squad game:

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Other players shoot back and it’s a strategy of whether to go in guns blazing or be more cautious. I find when I play in squads I spend a lot of time figuring out where my teammates are and trying to follow them. Teammates are random people, since I don’t have any friends to play with. No idea who or where these random people are; or if they are real people. I usually go to a quiet place to loot then make my way to the circle. Sometimes I get killed by the playzone, I’ve had top 10s a few times. Not very successful in terms of winning.

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Winners are given a chicken dinner. Dunno why, it’s kinda funny. This win was in a duo, my teammate and I drove up to the top of a hill in a buggy and there was shooting. Teammate was killed, I killed the killer. Then I retreated to behind the buggy to heal up. Just as I was drinking an energy drink, the chicken dinner screen popped up. The last person got killed by being outside the playzone.

Recently, an update gave more game features, including training, faster vehicles and arcade mode where 28 people play in a small playzone. Much faster pace and good practice. Each arcade game focuses on one type of weapon or there’s an all weapons mode too. I’ve played pistols only, melee which has no guns, sniper rifles etc.

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The first few games in squad I got chicken dinners. Then it either got harder or I got worse. It’s still quite fun.

PUBG (pronounced pub-g, I didn’t know till I watched some youtube videos) is one of a bunch of similar survival shooting games. The others include Fortnite and Rules of Survival. Fortnite has a huge following, and has the most players. I can’t play the mobile version because it doesn’t support iphone 6, ah well. These games are free, and the in-game purchases are quite limited. Different clothing, or a loot box that gives a chance of different clothing. Considering clothes don’t matter in the game, it’s incredible that the games make millions. Must be something about clothes that I’m not getting.

Fortnite is more cartoon-y and allows players to build defensive forts. This spoof video makes fun of the difference. The effects are pretty cool and tongues are firmly planted in cheeks.

I also came across an article describing a ransomware that locks files unless the user plays PUBG. Huh? I think it’s PC only, and infected computers will show a message telling users to play PUBG for an hour. Security experts discovered that playing for 3mins will unlock the files. It feels like an April Fool’s joke.

Anyway, I play a handful of games occasionally. I’m still really bad at it, not having a lot of shooting game experience. I’m not sure how long my interest will hold.

#pokemongo EX raid

Ten days ago I received this:

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My first EX raid invite! I don’t raid a lot though lately I’ve tried to make sure I get at least one of the legendaries. I had to look at the directions on the invite to see where the gym that I won the qualifying raid is located. Aha, it’s the park next to the market. Makes sense, it’s one of the gyms I’ve raided at most frequently. I think I even remember the exact raid that got me the invite.

So anyway, monday at 1pm isn’t a very user-friendly time. I feel sorry for people who need to go to work or school.

I finished lunch early and walked to the park. On the way there was a latias raid so I participated, but didn’t catch it.

I was at the gym around 12.45pm and I was pretty shocked to see there were like 80 people there already. Wow. I had no idea what to do, luckily I overheard someone talk about team yellow, and I asked if I could join. They kindly said yes. It was only when I looked around that I noticed people were standing in small groups by team colour. My Instinct team had 8 people. Almost all the people there seem to know each other! From snippets of conversation, these people play a lot more than me, and take it much more seriously. They talked about an unspoken rule about what time they should occupy gyms, I’m nowhere near that sophisticated.

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When the raid started, we got into a private group and began fighting Mewtoo. Took him down really quickly. Now I see why teams are split by colours, we all got 11 balls.

I fed him a golden raspberry and threw an ordinary ball, not even nice. And then I got him. First ball. Everyone in my team seemed to have been successful, although one of the aunties asked the younger guy to throw for her, hahaha. Done, I was on my way to the market and the shuttlebus in 10mins.

mareep community day

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It’s mareep community day!! After playing for a long time, I finally hatched 3 mareeps a few weeks ago, and had enough candy to evolve to flaafy. I’m looking forward to evolving ampharos.

For us the event ran from 11am to 2pm. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t cooperating, heavy rain and wind. We went to a nearby diner for late breakfast first. It took about 10-15mins before mareeps started appearing. At first we were toughing it out with the rain, then it got lighter and the sky brightened up again. We just stuck to mm’s local area that has a seafront and two parks. That was enough to catch lots of mareeps.

We allowed time to go home and evolve to ampharos to get the special moveset. I managed to get 3 shinies too, so I have one each shiny.

Good event. Rumour is next month is charmander. It’ll be great to get a charizard with special moveset. Oh, and shinies too.

pokemongo dratini day

dratini

It’s pokémongo community day #2 and it’s dratini this month. Good motivation:

  • increased dratini spawn
  • dragonite evolved during the window will get draco meteor moveset
  • 3x stardust for all catches
  • 3hr lures

I have over 500 ultraballs and around 60 pinaps in my bag (just because, not on purpose), so I was in good shape. I thought the event started at 12pm but when I went out at around 11.30am I saw a bunch of dratinis already. Of course it being niantic, there were problems galore: network error, error 2, error 22, error 26, no gps, and couldn’t login sometimes when I tried to restart the game. There were times after loading when no stops or pokémons could be seen. That went on for a good 1-2hrs, which was alright because I was at lunch.

Sometime around 2pm everything seemed to have gotten fixed. I went to central piers where there is a good 700-800m stretch facing the harbour where commuter ferries dock. Normally it’s already a great spot for dratinis and water-types and today it was a veritable bounty. I ended up using a couple of lucky eggs and basically walked up and down between pier 2 and pier 9 catching everything. Tons of stops, all lured and sometimes in one spot there’d be 6-7 dratini spawning one after another.

I saw on twitter that they knew there’s a problem and the event will be extended. In the end I was there for around 2hrs. I forgot to track my starting stats, rough numbers:

  • dratini caught: around 120
  • of which shiny: 5
  • evolved to dragonair: 1 shiny
  • evolved to dragonite: 1 shiny, 3 regular
  • stardust: no idea, but 120x100x3=36,000 and I caught others too
  • xp: no idea, I was at 3xx,xxx and now I’m at 448,000

Didn’t manage a 100% IV dragonite, the best is 98% IV which I’m really happy about. Threw away a lot of low IV dratinis, and the worst one I didn’t throw away is a shiny at 19% IV. I was using pokeassistant initially and got 18% but pokemeter and pokegenie both gave me 19%. It’s the absolute worst ever pokémon in my collection. Since it’s a shiny, and since it’s so terrible, I simply must keep it.

I also like the comments from pokemeter. “Your Dratini has an awful IV, but it’s happy!” Snerk.

hello, human person

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This is a fun way of wasting a few minutes. An online word association game called Robot Mind Meld. Both human player and robot attempt to come up with the same word that associates with words each had already came up wth. The idea behind the Numberbatch AI is that it thinks quantitiatively about how words relate to each other by

analyzing millions of documents for patterns, these “numberbatches” now play a role in most programs that process language, from speech recognition to machine translation.

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At first, I couldn’t get anywhere and got stuck after more than 10 rounds. But then bingo! We did it in 3 rounds.

I’m not that great with word associations because I either use very literal relationships or go off in a weird tangent. Some of the answers from the mefi users were odd and funny too. Some only took 2 rounds, someone took 79. I LOLed at this:

1 gun boat
2 gunboat gunboat

sushi train, escape room

Met sis, gis, my cousin and his kids for lunch at a sushi restaurant sis suggested. It used to be a conveyor belt restaurant, but now it’s a sushi train. We order via a tablet, the food is prepared in the kitchen and sent to us on a miniature train. We take the plate and push a button to send the empty train back. It’s very, very cool. Much better than conveyor belt because the food is fresher and we can actually pick what we want instead of sitting around hoping for something good to arrive. The kids loved it.

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After lunch, sis had booked us all to go to an escape room game at a place called Lost. The coolness of the day continued. We played a game called Alcatraz, where we were split into 3 teams and locked in 3 cells: Red, Green & Blue. We had to work together, solve puzzles and escape from the cells. The puzzles, in retrospect, were pretty straightforward, but in the moment when everything was unknown and we were all trying to scream at each other, it felt more stressed. Plus there’s always the time limit–45mins. We all managed to escape our cells but ran out of time to solve the last puzzle to escape from the room itself. A huge amount of fun and something I’d do again in a heartbeat. The kids say it’s one of the best they’ve played.

Everyone had separate plans so I ended up sitting in a Mcdonalds for 2hrs drinking one small coke zero and reading on my ipad. This branch is pretty good, not very crowded. I was waiting for mm to finish to meet her to help her with shopping. Her family is having a gathering this weekend and doing a New Year’s version of Christmas Secret Santa. The budget is local$200, but the difficulty is the gift has to be suitable for her parents (in their 70s) as well as her nieces and nephew (teen and pre-teen). I gave her a magnetic noughts-and-crosses game I’d originally bought for my nieces and she got a box of nice biscuits and a bottle of sparkling grape juice. Under budget too.

We weren’t that hungry so dinner was just noodles. Went to HMV to have a beer and chat for a bit until time to go home.

pokemon go fest refund

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This arrived via email. So they will refund the cost of the ticket (and fees), give everyone $100 worth of pokécoins, and add a legendary lugia. In order to get the $20-plus refund, we have to fill in a form and wait till 1 September. The coins and lugia will be added to the account of everyone who checked in by scanning (or trying a thousand times to scan) the QR code. Let’s see how long it takes, they say 7 business days.

I’m so tired I can’t get the energy to go out to find an articuno raid. I have no idea if people are raiding and I don’t want to show up at a raid and see no one. I can only see what’s around me and I know there are very few people around. I know I’m missing out. After the disaster that was the go fest experience I’m becoming salty about the whole game.

game burgers

Here’s another post that belongs in London 2012. The Exotic Meat Company at Borough market is my go-to place if I’m there at mealtimes. They have a grill that sells ostrich or kangaroo rolls for around £5-6. The stall sells mainly ostrich from Gamston Wood Farm but also stocks exotic burgers like springbok, kudu, bison, zebra, impala and crocodile. Aside from the exotic nature of these meats, they tend to be leaner and healthier than beef. Mum and I bought a bunch of these burgers to try out over the course of a couple of weeks. Here in reverse order of our preference:

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5: camel
The toughest of the lot. Fatty and tendon-y. It’s a delicacy in the middle east, but since most of the meat comes from the hump, it stands to reason that it is really fatty.

The flavour is okay, a bit like veal. But the reason it comes 5th is down to the fattiness, it was like eating a mouthful of fat.

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4: zebra
I’ve had zebra before, in Kenya and found it tough then. Still finding it tough this time. Quite chewy, but not as fatty as the camel. Again, it’s a meat that is supposed to be leaner and healthier than beef. Some describe it as tasting a little like rabbit while some describe it as tasting like horse or beef. Gotta laugh, rabbit and horse taste nothing like each other. I thought the camel tasted more like horse than rabbit, it’s not as delicate or tender, which is what I’d expect from rabbit.

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3: llama
Llama, not surprisingly, is traditionally eaten in Bolivia and other South American countries. It’s supposed to taste like less greasy beef and lamb. I liked the taste, which was like lower quality, coarser beef. It was nice and meaty, although on the dry side.

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2: elk
Considering elks are a member of the deer family, elk meat will be like venison. A large animal found in North America and some parts of Asia. Some people lump elk with deer and all them all venison anyway. I thought it was less red meat-like than venison, tasted more like beef and a little like veal.

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1: springbok
Springboks are antelopes, so technically it’s another venison. Commonly found and served in South Africa. It’s a smaller animal than the elk, and this is reflected in the meat. Very tender, very subtle, lean and not gamey. Definitely our favourite in terms of taste, texture, colour and flavour.

food adventure part 2

snakesoup claypotfroglegrice

Met up with mm for lunch of soup and rice. Sounds normal enough? Ha!! The soup is thick and savoury, made with snake, chicken, mushroom and topped with chrysanthemum leaves and crunchy crackers. And yes, snake tastes like chicken — a little tougher chicken, as if it’d been boiled for too long. Tasty, very tasty.

The rice was cooked directly in a claypot. We ordered two, the first was topped with frog’s legs and more mushroom, the second was snake liver and fish swim bladder. Probably scary even just reading about it, right? The frog’s legs were our favourites, and they taste like very tender chicken. The snake liver and fish bladder were okay, a little crunchy, as if they needed a bit more braising. The rice was almost burnt, so the bottom is like crunchy rice cracker. Nice.

christmas feast

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I did cheat, yes, with a store-bought roast. I got from M&S a guinea fowl, duck & pheasant ballotine — it’s not something I would get normally, nor would I have been able to make it myself, so I consider it my Christmas indulgence. It came out of the packaging all ready for the oven, all I needed was to prep the veg — new potatoes, sweet potatoes and purple sprouts (on the stalk). The ballotine was supposed to take 2hrs at 180°C, so I timed the veg so they were ready at the same time.

Skyped sis and mum around 1pm, and by 1.45pm the food was ready so I signed off. While the ballotine rested, I reheated the veg and made the gravy. Boneless meant easy to carve and I generously gave myself 2 thick slices. Served with cranberry & port sauce and lots of gravy. Bear in mind that there’s how the picture looks (before) and how the plate actually looks (after) — I add food and literally poured gravy onto everything after I took the pic. The ballotine was good, although I couldn’t quite tell the difference between each of the meat, all I could see and taste was that there was some dark meat and some white meat. The potatoes were good, good, good. Everything was delicious. It didn’t feel strange to be eating at almost 2.30pm.

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Waited till nighttime for dessert. My downstairs neighbour invited me for tea so I had to stop by for an hour. Plus getting dressed and combing my hair, heehee. Dessert was stollen which I bought in Prague. Had it with the sparkling cranberries and a dollop of marmalade. All in all a very filling and unhurried Christmas feast.

venison with little gem lettuce

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And now back to the regular food porn series. I got this venison steak for £5 at M&S on Friday. Pan fried for about 6mins so it’s still very rare. Deglazed the pan with butter and served with sautéed little gem lettuce. Took all of 10mins. Drinking it with a beaujolais nouveau I got last week. I’ll never get on Masterchef until I learn more about artistic presentation, but I cook pretty well, I think.

pan fried venison tenderloin

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They were cooking elk on chopped, which reminded me that I had a delicious venison tenderloin. Car’s cousin gave it to me, her husband hunted and they had lots of venison in their freezer. All I did was pan fried it with some fresh thyme, and kept it very rare, almost undercooked. It wasn’t gamey at all, delicate and tasty. Served it with rocket and cherry tomatoes.

squirrel crisps

squirrel crisps

I’ve eaten snake, ostrich, crocodile, kangaroo and I’m not afraid of trying new food. i’d like to try south american guinea pig only if they would cut it up though. Lately, there seems to be a new meat, which surprises me a bit, because i’d never thought about eating squirrel. Yes, squirrel.

Thinking about it, it makes sense. It’s just another gamey meat isn’t it. I imagine it’s a little like rabbit, or probably a dark meat version of rabbit. Though it’s kinda small, and according to the NYT, quite fiddly.

One might think that because of easy availability, squirrel would be the perfect meal-stretcher for these economically challenged times, but it takes a lot of work to get the meat off even the plumpest squirrel

The latest squirrel-y craze? Walkers just brought out cajun squirrel crisps.

grilled kangaroo steak

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I bought a pack of frozen kangaroo sirloin steak at Melbourne airport. They packaged it in an insulating box and it survived the flight remarkably well.

It’s a red meat. In raw form it’s darker than beef though not as dark as venison. Looked very lean, which seems to be the case. Though labelled sirloin, the pieces looked more like fillet with their cylindrical shape.

All I did was grill them like normal beef steak. Season with pepper and sear at high heat. When almost ready to turn, salt the uncooked side then turn over. Season again. Turn the heat down to medium and use the same softness test as usual steak. I sliced it up and served it over a bed of green salad, tomato and mango — just cos that was what I had in the fridge.

I don’t know whether it’s the quality of the meat, that I didn’t salt till I was ready to turn it over, or that I let it rest properly but the juices held and it sure was tasty. It had more texture than beef and wasn’t tough. I really liked how it had bite. A little game-y but not overpowering like venison or even ostrich. I wish it’s more widely available.