Infra and Deduce: Thoughts on Loiste Interactive’s ‘Infra’ (Part One)

The hyper-clean, polished, white, glass & steel office building that constitutes Infra’s opening sends out a clear message; modern civilization is entirely dependent on the smooth running of the underlying infrastructure. When you turn on a tap, water flows; and there is barely a thought of the collection, purification, pumping, piping and drainage needed…  Until it goes wrong.

‘Infra’ puts the player in the shoes of a gravely voiced structural engineer with a bizarrely maverick attitude (most vocations have ‘mavericks’ – just something fun to think about when the guy comes to read the gas meter; he could be the one that the rest of the office consider to be the ‘maverick’) and an extremely power hungry digital camera. You’re sent on a sightseeing tour of Stalburg’s crumbling infrastructure to document, assess and in some cases simply survive this decaying underworld. This is all played out over a backdrop of the city falling apart and a conspiracy brewing; centred around the man procuring these utilities.

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'Infra' shines in this rusting underworld

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Steam Link Hardware Review: Chain Drive Steam Engine

…see the end of the post for the array of alternative titles I considered* …

I’ve started and scrapped different versions of this post many times; the one thing I can say for absolute certainty is that whilst I want to write a hardware review of Valve’s curious gizmo the ‘Steam Link’, it is inherently a dull thing to write about. I’m going to sidestep the default conclusion that I simply don’t possess the ‘blogging flair’ (or writing wizardry) to make a dry subject interesting for two reasons: firstly I’m not one to back away from a challenge, and secondly because the dullness of the ‘Steam Link’ is largely the result of it being such an ‘obvious’ piece of hardware for Valve to release.

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The Steam Link... Oooohhh...

Scene-Setting Preamble:

As 2015 drew to a close, we were finally granted permission to see the first publicly accessible iterations of the hardware side of Valve’s bid to capture our couch gaming hours in addition to our desk based ones. These hardware developments go hand in hand with the software side of things (also nominally a trio of ideas). The software consists of ‘Steam OS’, ‘Big Picture Mode’, and ‘In-Home Streaming’ whilst the hardware features ‘Steam Machines’, ‘The Steam Controller’, and ‘Steam Link’. This self-imposed literary wrestling match I’m currently involved in is largely the result of having received a Steam Link for Christmas as a gift from my partner (much better than Valve’s xmas gift to us of someone else’s account details), but maybe contextually it’s also appropriate to write about it at the start of 2016. Valve are savvy enough not to expect overnight miracles, but the uptake of these new features will no doubt be scrutinised at the end of the full year cycle and in this respect 2016 could be pivotal in the future direction of Valve’s brand of PC gaming.

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Kickstarter: ‘Refuge’ – Are windmills becoming the new lighthouses?

The Ark; some forgotten pinnacle of rock, crowned by the windmill and peppered with structures from a seemingly forsaken society.  The snow gently falls…  This is your arena in Fox Rogers’ current Kickstarter pitch, a lovingly crafted monochromatic world into which 2 players will be dropped, yet only 1 will survive.

I’ve thrown some money at the pitch, and not just because it has a windmill (although if someone ever made a game called “Windmills and Lighthouses: It’s going to be emotional”  I’d probably just let them be a signatory on my bank account) It caught my attention for a few reasons, but before that, I’m going to be a little cold and clinical and outline what the pitch reveals. 
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Adding to the Ocean of Lists – Hundstrasse 2015

Happy Listmas! I’m sure as the end of the year gets closer you’ve been captivated/terrified by the growing number of lists, spreading like an infection across twitter feeds, blogs, review sites. Pretty soon TV thick with them (I assume) and radiostations across the world will have already begun counting down the top 1000 tracks of the year. I’ve fallen victim to this plague and have decided to spontaneously, and without much actual thought, throw together a list myself.
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Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Action Game

Spoiler Alert: This post contains spoilers for a long forgotten and obscure game

Playing a game that was iconic to you as a child is risky territory; we all know that the distant past, on the very edge of our memory, is at the least viewed through rose-tinted binoculars… And at most a complete lie, built upon a few grainy memories filled out by a young imagination. Writing about it is an equally fine line which needs to be picked out between overselling a mundane title, or losing the reader in the same level of detail that you saw as a child.

The Atari St is the first system I clearly remember gaming on. Watching,  heart in mouth, as my uncle completed “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Action Game” was a defining moment in those early gaming years. In the generations before ‘twitch’ and ‘let’s play videos’, kids everywhere were indulging in the reflected victory and defeat of friends/siblings/peers from the sidelines. I was no exception, being unable to even get past the circus train on the 1st level; Indiana Jones (or just ‘Indy’ as the box-art proclaimed) was both the hardest and most amazing game that I had ever played. So I revisited it recently,  decided to complete it, scratch an old itch, and discovered that whilst it is a flawed, short, and underwhelming experience compared with the memories I have, I nevertheless enjoyed the experience, so before I get all gushy and ‘soft-focus’ nostalgic, I’m going to hit-it with where it goes wrong.

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So, I learnt Morse Code…

I stumbled down a link-hole last week to discover Alex Johansson’s browser-based game “MORSE“; an interesting experiment in user input and detaching the player from the action all wrapped up in a battleship-esque pixilated game. Essentially you enter target co-ordinates in Morse code in order to destroy enemy units… Full Disclosure: I didn’t play the game for very long…

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Early Access Relationship Status: “It’s Complicated”

Steam’s early access scheme is maybe not evil,  but has echoes of Hell’s ironic punishment department…

*demonic spectre appears*

“So you like games huh? Well have as many innovative and quirky games as you want…  But none of them are finished!! Muahahaha!”

*puff of purple smoke and it vanishes*

…  But I’m a sucker for it.

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