Dragon Quest VII is too long, but’s that’s OK

I really want to love Dragon Quest VII, but I don’t have the time right now to do it justice and it upsets me. I’ve finished Dragon Quest IV & V for the 3DS and I jumped head first into this one when it came out in September because it seemed right up my alley.

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Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past Box Art


It’s one hundred hours long, though! I’m lucky if I get 7-10 hours a week to play, so I played quite a bit for a few weeks then made a fatal mistake. I got busy and put the game down.

Going back to it, I can see this is a quintessential JRPG from an age when longer meant better. Unfortunately, my play style doesn’t match this anymore… It seems I prefer shorter RPGs, puzzle games, and racing games these days. I guess this matches the time I can invest into games!

There hasn’t been an story arc I haven’t liked so far. It’s just that I’m only a third into the game… I picked it up and played another two or so islands for a few hours, then I had to go hunting for my tablets to progress even though I’d finished the story for those islands.

Such a great game deserves to be beaten so it’s going back on the shelf until I have some time to focus on it (when there are less games on my backlog.)

Oh to be a teenager again!

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90 days…

Since finishing uni last year and settling into a job I now spend considerable timing driving around the country. I haven’t been living the healthiest lifestyle for the longest time, but now it’s starting to show. And I hate it..

Being on the road quite a lot of the time is making it even worse. Did you know how fucking difficult it can be to eat well when you’re travelling? Holy shit. It’s hard!

Before I went to uni in 2012 I lost quite a bit of weight by cycling a few times a week for summer. It was great, and I remember feeling fantastic. My first year at uni wasn’t so bad, since I didn’t have any money anyways to spend on crap.

I fell back into lazy ways over the next 3-4 years until today where I feel permanently bloated & incessantly tired all the damn time. Something has to give!

So, for the next 90 days I am going to log everything I eat on a spreadsheet (you can ask me for a link, if you want) and try to use this to positively influence my diet choices. I am not going to use something like MyFitnessPal because that just becomes a chore working out exactly how many calories and shit… I am literally going to have a few columns and rows for a date. I might even colour code by ‘how good’ the day was aka no beer, or no fries. Or shock horror… no bacon!

I also really want to start Coach to 5 k (C25K), but I fear if I start that now I would destroy my ankles and probably keel over on day 2. Instead, I am going to try and go for increasingly more vigorous walks in all the places I end up visiting. Some of them are pretty damn nice!!

 

Retro Thoughts – Super Mario 64

I recently played through Super Mario 64 on the WiiU Virtual Console for the first time (up to 70 stars. Enough to beat Bowser, see the credits, and get the game off my backlog.)

mario64

For a genre defining game it stand apart from everything from it’s era. However, if we look back through 2016-o-vision the cracks show.

This is Mario’s first foray into 3D environments and every level is unique and engaging, but the controls let it down in my opinion. This isn’t really a flaw in the game, or even with the Nintendo 64 it ran on. We are just so used to twin sticks in modern games to play a 3D without them feels strange and unwieldy.

Twin sticks weren’t even a thing until the year after Super Mario 64 was released (the Sony Dual Analog controller became available April 1997 for the Playstation) and not on Nintendo hardware until the Gamecube in 2001 over five years later.

For what it had, the game controlled well and even translated quite decently to a DS remaster a decade ago. The levels were fantastic (nothing felt rushed, or repeated, or a lazy cop out), the music sublime, and this game is rightly considered a classic.

It’s a shame that Nintendo’s Virtual Console is too dark, as you can see in these screenshots. You could always play on actual hardware (but I am never going be buying old consoles.. I have enough crap as it is) or resort to other solutions like emulating the game yourself on something like RetroPie or your normal computer. Why can’t Nintendo fix the darkness issue? Who knows.. Maybe they will on the NX (as they get us to ‘upgrade’ our virtual console libraries again…)

I don’t think I will ever go back and get all 120 stars. I’d probably snap my controller in half, and I have a hell of a backlog to get through anyway.

Spotify & Last.FM on iPhone and iPads

Spotify Last.FM scrobbling seems to break fairly regularly, the fix unfortunately is to log out of the Spotify app, remove the spotify app, reinstall the spotify app then as if by magic you will be scrobbling again. Don’t forget to download all your saved playlists again…

Annoying.

Raspberry Pi Spotify Jukebox

Goal

To create a simple to use office based music jukebox that everyone can use and no-one can take overall control of.

It needs to be clear, simple, and intuitive. It should be reliable, and not require manual intervention.

Materials

  • Raspberry Pi (I used a 3, probably could have used an older model)
  • Speaker with aux-in (Could use Bluetooth, but to keep things simple I didn’t)
  • Aux cable

Software

  • Raspbian Lite
  • Mopidy
  • Spotmop Plugin
  • Spotify Premium Account

Instructions

Start by installing your Linux distrubtion of choice on your Pi, I used [distro here].

Head over to the Mopidy project page, and have a read through their Raspi Jessie instructions. You will need the Spotify plugin and the Last.Fm plugin if you wish to have a record of all the music you play. You may still need to manually fix the scrobbler, but it looks like this is getting fixed soon.

Conclusions

  • Pi Auxilary Audio Out is terrible. I should probably spend more time figuring out bluetooth since the speaker we use supports it. Alternatively, you could use a HDMI to 3.5mm adapter which apparently will give you better sound. Or you could use a USB Sound card.
  • Need to figure out how to save the volume level as the default so on a reboot I do not need to SSH in and reset the volume [command line snippet here next time I go to the office]

Why did I wait so long to play Uncharted?

I had a PS3 for years, and never played Uncharted.

uncharted

I got a PS4 in November. It came with the Uncharted collection. I still didn’t play it.

Finally.. after much prodding from a work colleague I put the disk in and got stuck in. Holy crap! What an amazing game! I’ve only played Drake’s Fortune but wow. Just wow.

The whole game is paced spectacularly; I never had a dull moment; the difficulty curve was great (the mutants can go fuck themselves!!); and the story was neither too long (Looking at you: Every JRPG ever) or too short.

10/10 – Best game I’ve played so far this year. If you have a PS4 and you haven’t got it… Go buy it right now.

I’m going to leave 2 & 3 for a while whilst I catch up some of other games.. Maybe Fallout 4, or something portable like Fire Emblem. Whatever takes my fancy.

Homepass with a Raspberry Pi 3

I used to use Homepass a few years back but my old Pi broke and I never got around to replacing it. I bought a pair of Raspberry Pi 3‘s recently and decided to put one to use as a StreetPass relay for my and my girlfriend’s 3DS as we seem to live in a desert of 3DS’s right now. Shame!

The Raspberry Pi 3 is perfect for this purpose as you need nothing more than an ethernet cable to your router and power. No need for a USB wireless adapter making everything that much simpler.

If you’re wondering what Homepass or Streetpass is, then no fear…

HomePass is a homebrew method of fooling your 3DS system into believing a Global StreetPass Relay exists in your house.

Nintendo released an update to the 3DS StreetPass system in the beginning of August 2013, that would allow users to receive and transmit StreetPass data via Nintendo Zone Wifi Access Points.

Nintendo calls this new system “StreetPass Relay”. Over at GBATemp.net, great minds came together and figured out how to utilize your home WiFi Router/Access Point as a Nintendo Zone StreetPass Relay — but not just a local one, a GLOBAL relay. You will be able to StreetPass people from around the world. Want tons of streetpasses in a single day, without ever leaving the house? Read on 🙂

 

I found some instructions and an image on Reddit which you can find here. This preprepared image deals with the bridging, firewall rules, run schedule etc.

If you are using Windows, try using Win32diskimager to write the Pi image to your SD card. On a Mac, I used Apple Pi Baker to great success. I tried a couple of times using terminal but it wouldn’t boot successfully. Apple Pi Baker solved my issue.

I have mine set as default to attempt to run every 6 minutes, with a 2% chance of succeeding. The default is 20%. Every six minutes, the script will attempt to start the access point with a Relay MAC address.

It is effectively a roll of the dice, as you don’t need to be getting StreetPass hits every 6 minutes all day. Well, maybe you do. Then you can set the run chance to 100%. My relay should effectively run 624.02 times per day on average (about 3) which suits my needs perfectly.

Happy Streetpassing!

Games completed so far in 2016

  1. Fire Emblem Awakening (3DS)
  2. Pokemon Yellow (3DS Virtual Console)
  3. New Super Mario Bros 2 (3DS)
  4. Grand Theft Auto V (PS4)
  5. I will update this post as I complete more…
  6. Popolocrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale (3DS)
  7. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (PS4)
  8. August 21st – Super Mario 64 (WiiU)
    Next up: Uncharted 2-3, Fallout 4, Fire Emblem Fates Birthright, Luigi’s Mansion 2 & Kirby Triple Deluxe.

How I Learnt To Stop Buying Games

I know I’ve bought a lot of games since I got my Steam account way back in 2009. I didn’t realise just how stupid it had gotten though.

This is a screenshot of my Backloggery (a service for tracking game completion!), maybe one day I will finish all these…

backloggery16

I have decided my Backloggery is only going to have console games (handheld included) and Steam games I have played to completion as I honestly have no intention of playing the vast majority of them.

I removed my Steam games, but have re-added them back under the ‘null’ status so they do not affect the stats. Honestly, most of these games were bought for dirt cheap in sales and there is probably only 25-30 I actually want to complete (HL series, Fallout/Elder Scrolls, etc)

If you take the 204 games above, and played them for a conservation 15 hours each then you have 127.5 days worth of games.

To put it another way, if I managed to play around 10 hours a week they would take ridiculous 306 weeks to finish…

So… No More Games!! Or, being realistic: I need to complete 10 to buy one new 1, and I need to focus on the shorter games in my collection.

Recently I finished the story in GTA V (which was amazing), completed Return to Popolocrois: A Story of Season Fairy Tale (which I recommend if you like JRPGs) and I am currently playing Pokemon Yellow (going for a complete dex might take a while though…).

Trying to focus on one game at a time seems to be speeding up my progress. I will probably be moving on to the games I’ve nearly completed next: Luigi’s Mansion 2 & Kirby Triple Deluxe. I think I am going to focus on one ‘smaller’ game (like Picross or a 2D Mario game) and one ‘larger’ game like Skyrim or Xenoblade at a time so I don’t get bored of any single game at once.

Wish me luck! Hopefully by 2017 I will have a completion rate on backloggery of over 30% (62 games!!)

Scotland Trip – Fort William to Edinburgh via Mallaig – Part 2/2

We left on the West Highland line for a short two hour run to Mallaig, this line has apparently been voted one of the most scenic railway journeys in the world.

Fort William to Mallaig: 41 miles (Running total: 683 miles)

01

We passed the Glenfinnan Viaduct which you might remember featuring in the Harry Potter movies, and were shortly in Mallaig; a small coastal ferry port on the west coast of the Highlands.

02

After a brief stop at the B&B, we found the lifeboat and the two pubs. My 100th beer on Untapped was actually in Mallaig.. Tennent’s Lager at The Steam Inn! Probably could of made a better choice for the 100th, but nevermind now.

03

Early to rise the next day, we got the 6.02 to Glasgow Queen Street and settled in for the six hour journey. Along the way, we saw the highest station on the network (it’s also 10 miles from the nearest public road) and lots and lots of mountains. It was the prettiest of all of journeys all week.

Mallaig to Glasgow Queen Street: 161 miles (Running total: 844 miles)

We got the Glasgow and found the obligatory Spoons for lunch then headed to [Central Station for our tour] we’d booked weeks before. I highly recommend the tour if you ever find yourself in Glasgow as the guide (a former station manager) is full of knowledge and excitement about the station and it’s history of the last century. The story about the fish and chip shop was a highlight, but you’ll have to go and do the tour yourself to hear it!

Appearing out of a side corridor behind the ticket barriers was amusing, and confused the commuters who we emerged into. I imagine they were considering just why we were wearing hivis and orange caps!

 

Thirteen quid might seem a bit steep, but no. Just do it. Paul makes it well worth it, he doesn’t have [771+ 5 Star reviews on TripAdvisor] for nothing!

The next stop on our adventure was Edinburgh, and the final night of our holiday. We checked in, and started exploring. I took us back to The Boozy Cow for dinner (I went last year when I was in Edinburgh last) and it was just as good as I remembered. Afterwards, we found a cocktail bar called Panda and Sons. Worth a visit!

Glasgow Central to Edinburgh Waverley: 46 miles (Running Total 890 miles)

 

The next day we headed back to Glasgow, found a Wetherspoons (lol, ….) and went to the airport to catch our flight that afternoon. We didn’t do much, and I don’t have any more interesting photos.

In my next trip blog, I am going to dissect from Untappd history from the week, and talk about all the fun beers I tried!

Edinburgh Waverley to Glasgow Queen Street LL: 44 miles, Total Rail Miles for the Week: 934 miles