Albatross

There must be a rational way to manage buying and playing PC games. There must be an optimum of getting a maximum amount of fun out of a minimum amount of money spent, and getting the best out of each individual purchase. Unfortunately I must say that I am very far away from that optimum.

I have a large library of unplayed Steam games, which isn’t unusual. The rational thing to do would be whenever I have the time to install an unplayed game and play it to find out whether I want to spend more time with it or not. But somehow that second part causes me a problem. For example I recently installed Wolfenstein: The New Order, because I was in the mood to play a shooter game. I played the game for an hour or two, but didn’t really warm up to it. And now the game sits on my desktop and for psychological reasons I don’t really understand feels like an albatross around my neck. When I turn on my computer, seeing the icon of the game doesn’t make me want to play it. But somehow I feel that I *should* play it some more before uninstalling it and moving on. And I don’t want to install the next game before having done that decision. So in the end I end up not playing any PC game at all, but play something casual on my iPad or watch Netflix or do something D&D related.

The rational me realizes that this is pretty idiotic. If I don’t really like this game, I should just ditch it and try the next one. But the not-so-rational part of me has its doubts: Maybe I just wasn’t in a good mood when I tried the game. Maybe it gets better after a while. Maybe the $25 investment in the game necessitates a second try (which my rational self recognizes as a typical sunk cost fallacy).

I believe that a lot about our enjoyment of games isn’t really rational. We are perfectly capable of loving a game, then hating it, then loving it again. I always chuckle when I see Steam reviews of some player who has spend several hundred hours with a game and now tells you that the game sucks. The simple task of playing a game and deciding whether I like it or not turns out to be not simple at all. And then the default mode becomes procrastination until the game lingered so long on my computer that I finally uninstall it. Maybe I should try a service like Steam Advisor to find games I already own which I actually want to play.

7th Continent First Impressions

Only 3 days to go on the 7th Continent Kickstarter rerun and I finally managed to actually play the game to confirm if it is really as good as evertybody says. Good news: It is! Furthermore it turns out to be one of those rare board games that are ideally played with your significant other, which is exactly what I have been looking for. A “game” of 7th continent can last 15 hours+, but there is a very fast “save” mechanic which allows you to play in a series of short sessions. That would be difficult to pull off with friends you don’t see every day, but works great for me and my wife.

“Saving” the 7th Continent is actually a strategic move by itself, because you don’t save the map you already explored. This represents time passing in the world while you sleep. If you were to backtrack after restoring the game, the basic geography remains the same, but you might get different events happening while exploring. In our first game we saved when we successfully left area I and reached area II, which involved removing the map of area I anyway, so the save didn’t change anything for us. Of course at home you could just decide to leave the game set up on the table instead of saving, if you have a dedicated game table.

*Spoiler alert*

Just like a YouTube gameplay video it is hardly possible to talk more about the game without revealing some of its contents, so don’t read on if you want to avoid spoilers!

We played the first “curse” of the 7th Continent, curses being basically scenarios that give your exploration a starting point and a win condition. The one recommended to start with is called Voracious Goddess. But don’t expect any major storyline connected to that. The 7th Continent is a survival/exploration game, the stories that happen are about what you decide to do and how that worked out, not some scripted storyline to follow.

The core mechanic of the game is that the tile you are on and the cards you already found give you various actions you can attempt. Each attempt consists of drawing a number of cards and counting the number of successes on these cards. Each action tells you how many cards to draw, and how many successes you need, but various rules and cards can modify those two numbers. If you succeed something positive happens, if you fail something negative happens. Often you are allowed to draw more cards if you want, which makes success easy. But the deck of cards also represents your life, so if you draw cards with reckless abandon you will run out of cards. And then you need to use the cards from the discard pile instead, and if you draw a curse you are dead and the game ends.

What you are supposed to do to survive is to find places where you can hunt and find food when you are getting low on cards. Food puts cards back from the discard pile into the action deck, which allows you to keep playing. It is all nicely balanced and doable. Some people do complain they die too often, but there are several solutions to that: Either you handle the loop of goin exploring and taking care of survival by hunting better. Or you change the rules, which is something that doesn’t come natural to board game enthusiasts. But really, the game already does have an official easy mode which starts you with card 777, which allows you to basically ignore your first death. It isn’t such a stretch to expand that to unlimited uses of that item and literally “cheat death”. Instead of “survive or die” the game then becomes one of minimizing the number of times you use the cheat item.

On the other hand I can also see the interest of starting over. The Voracious Goddess curse we are playing starts you off on a small island. As it gives you a rough map, we went more or less straight towards the way off the island. But it turned out that this way we missed an essential item and couldn’t use the submarine to get off the island. Instead we decided to use the costly alternative option of swimming, which ended us freezing on some beach. So our success on the starting island, area I, determined where exactly and under what initial conditions we get to tackle area II. If we restart and play area I again, we’d use a different strategy. Furthermore on the first exploration you end up doing things in which the success isn’t all that great, or not essential for progress. So the next time around you just skip the non-essential parts and thus get to the next area faster and with less of your cards used.

I really like the 7th Continent, and I am looking forward to playing this with my wife for a long time. If ever we find the survival part too harsh, we’ll just change the rules to a more casual version. The fun of this game really isn’t just about winning or losing.

The 7th Continent Kickstarter

I still haven’t really had the time to playtest The 7th Continent, a boardgame I got via Kickstarter. But now the second round of Kickstarter started. If you are interested, you can get the game here. The game isn’t available elsewhere. That is why I pledged $49 to get the expansion set.

P.S. The Kickstarter is already 2500% funded, so with them having made good on their first Kickstarter promises, this is a relatively sure bet. Might of course be late, but that is pretty normal on Kickstarter.

Destiny 2 for $12

Some time ago I subscribed to the Humble Bundle Monthly to get Civ VI for $12. After one three-month subscription I unsubscribed, because I didn’t like the other games I got in the bundles. But if you subscribe now, you get Destiny 2 for $12 plus whatever other games will be in the bundle in June, so I subscribed again. For just one month this time. In short, I still don’t like the bundles, but I’m willing to buy one of them here and there if the headline game it has is well worth $12.

I got Destiny 1 for free on the PS3 and liked it. It is shooter meets Diablo with a bit of MMORPG mixed in. On the PC Destiny 2 isn’t on Steam, but only available via the Blizzard / Activision Battle.net. Where it costs $60, although you can get it a lot cheaper from various key resellers. For a game that was only released last October and got a 83 Metacritic score, $12 is good value for money.

Rage of Demons: Session 2

In the previous session the group escaped from a prison of the drow in the Underdark. Now they were free, but more or less lost in an unfamiliar environment, with neither food nor drink, and limited equipment. And the drows were pursuing them. So apart from a few combat encounters this session was mostly about how to survive and travel in the Underdark.

A tabletop role-playing game always plays on two levels at once: The story level where the warrior chops off the head of the orc, and the game level, where a player rolls some dice. The art of Dungeon-mastering is to balance these two levels and to connect them. By treating travel and survival in the Underdark as a series of dice rolls, with modifiers based on player decisions, the players gain agency over the story. And unexpected dice rolls can add surprise to the story. The Out of the Abyss book, chapter 2, has some very good suggestions on how to handle travel and survival. I just needed to combine that with existing rules in the Player’s Handbook and Dungeon Master’s Guide to a “loop” of rolls to do every day: A roll for navigation in order to avoid becoming lost, a random encounter roll for during the day, another random encounter roll for camp at night, and a roll for foraging.

The trick to make all of that a bit more interesting is the drow pursuit: Players can choose to travel slow, normal speed, or fast. Traveling fast makes them gain more distance from the pursuers, but prevents them from foraging, and increases the difficulty of navigation and perceiving enemies. Traveling slower increases the risk from the pursuit, but makes everything else easier. In this session we played through that loop for 7 game days, which with several days traveled at high speed meant the group went from the drow outpost Velkynvelve to the kuo-toa village of Sloobludop.

To give the group some means of orientation I used the previous encounter of the cleric with Juiblex to give him a level 1 madness which made his face wounds burn whenever he looked in the north-western direction from Velkynvelve (towards Blingdenstone to be exact, for reasons that will become obvious much later). That gave him advantage on navigation rolls, and the group used a second character to help with navigation when they were traveling at fast speed, so they never got lost. After the first day the cleric also switched spells to have Create Water, which solved their thirst problem.

As encounters we first had one attack at night by goblins, which weren’t too hard to beat and provided the ranger of the group with a short bow and arrows. It also turned out that the players weren’t the squeamish kind, and they filleted the goblins, cooked them over magical fire, cast Purify Food & Drink on the meat and ate it. Later in the session they encountered a bunch of gnolls, which are larger than goblins, and thus ended up with more than enough food for their journey (although I ruled that meat wouldn’t keep longer than 2 days, because otherwise the whole foraging thing would become useless).

Then they came to the Silken Paths, an area of spider webs crossing a large chasm, connecting stalagmites and stalactites. Two non-aggressive goblins had created a business guiding people across, and the group agreed to pay them for passage. On the web they found a large chest, which of course turned out to be a mimic (that still works with new players). Then they were attacked by darkmantles, which after killing them they used to make waterskins out of. In fact this group is the first one I see in 5th edition which makes use of crafting skills from their background. Once over the chasm, the group decreased their pursuit level by burning the webs they had crossed, although of course they couldn’t burn the whole giant web.

The gnolls they met in an encounter which was supposed to have them come upon a hunt, with the gnolls chasing a pair of hook horrors. But the group just cast a fog spell to hide from the monsters and then traveled on. Then they came upon the second half of the hunters, and killed them. The group decided to rest there, but of course the first group of hunters came back before they were rested and they had to fight gnolls again.

At the end of the session the group arrived near Sloobludop, and gained level 4 from the xp for survival and the various encounters. Just like in other campaign books of Wizards of the Coast, level increase is at least twice as fast as what you’d get if you just gave out xp for monsters. I decided that was okay, as nobody wants to be low level for too long. I might have to slow that down a bit if I feel that the group is becoming too powerful for a dark themed adventure.

Amazon readying huge Digital Day 2017 discounts on Wonder Woman, WWE 2K18, and more

Amazon has announced that Digital Day will once again threaten our wallets in a final end of year sale chock full of huge savings. The second annual Digital Day is scheduled for December 29th and Amazon says it will be offering over 5,000 deals on movies, TV shows, apps, eBooks, and mobile games.

If you missed out on the first Digital Day sale last year, think of it like Prime Day but exclusively for digital items. As the name suggests, the biggest deals will last for just 24 hours, although some will go live as early as December 26th. You can sign up here to stay up to date with all of the offers, or you can follow #DigitalDay on social media.

Amazon has provided a sneak peek at some of the headline deals which include 60% off the fantastic live-action Wonder Woman movie on Amazon Video, 33% off video games like Sonic Forces, Civilization VI, NBA 2K18, and WWE 2K18, and up to 75% off on Kindle best-selling books like The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye, The Silent Corner, and Modern Romance.

Here are some of the rest of the Digital Day deals set to drop in just over a week, plucked straight from an Amazon press release:

  • $10 Amazon.com credit when you subscribe to HBO NOW on Amazon
  • Save 25% off $49.99 Lapis bundle for Final Fantasy Brave Exvius
  • Save 50% off all in-game items for Marvel Puzzle Quest
  • Save up to 80% off in-game items for Playrix games
  • Save up to 75% off ROBLOX New Year’s Eve themed wearables
  • Save up to 80% off best-selling Marvel graphic novels like Civil War II, House of M, World War Hulk, and Star Wars
  • Three free audiobooks when you sign up for an Audible trial
  • 25% or more off PC software like Rosetta Stone and Adobe Creative Cloud Photography
    First 3 months free in Daily Burn streaming workouts

Digital Day bargains can be purchased via Amazon’s online store, the Amazon App and the Amazon Appstore (exclusively on Android). We’ll be keeping an eye out for any other great Digital Day deals, so be sure to watch this space for updates.

Deal: Get these great Noodlecake games for just $0.89 each at Google Play Store

You still have just over five days left to pick up a handful of mobile games from Noodlecake Studios in Humble Bundle’s Indie Hits collection, but if there’s a particular game you’re after from the publisher then you might be in luck!

The Canadian studio has slashed the price of some of its most popular titles and two classic PC ports over on the Google Play Store to celebrate the holidays (thanks, Droid Gamers). Let’s see what’s on offer, shall we?

Android TV users will be crazy to miss out on Alto’s Adventure TV – a gorgeous physics-based snowboarding game that, like all of the games on this list, is on sale for just $0.99. There’s also The Bug Butcher for shooter fans and Caterzillar for those who like platformers with a sticky twist.

Editor’s Pick

The roguelike action adventure Wayward Souls is also on offer alongside the wonderfully bonkers Death Road to Canada – a “Randomly Generated Road Trip Action-RPG” in which you do battle with hordes of flesh-craving zombies.

If you’re as old as I am, you might remember the puzzle adventure series, Myst. The early 1990s Mac/PC classic had you moving through stunningly realized pre-rendered backdrops and solving mysteries with point-and-click style gameplay.

The original Myst and its direct sequel, Riven, have stood the test of time incredibly well and Noodlecake and developer Cyan’s mobile ports of both games are absolutely worth checking out if you’re into games like The Room or Monument Valley. Both are available for $0.89 each.

You can grab the savings over at the Google Play Store via the links below:

  • Alto’s Adventure TV
  • The Bug Butcher
  • Caterzillar
  • Death Road to Canada
  • RealMyst
  • Riven : The sequel to Myst
  • Wayward Souls

Will you be picking up any of the games on offer? Let us know in the comments.

SailCraft Online

The game of Battleship as played with pen and grid paper is a hundred years old. 50 years ago Milton Bradley turned it into a board game with plastic pegs. There have been various computer versions, and even a rather horrible movie in 2012. Now I found a mobile game called SailCraft or SailCraft Online, which is basically Battleship on speed with all modern Pay2Win conveniences.

The original game is strictly symmetrical, except for the player moving first having a slight advantage. But in SailCraft the two players don’t have the exact same fleet, nor do they even have the same size of grid. Instead your grid size and your special abilities depend on the ships you choose for your fleet, limited by the level of your mothership. Ships come in common, uncommon, rare and legendary types, and the more of the same ship you find, the higher you can upgrade them in level. Each ship has an active and a passive ability, and stats for how many spaces it adds to your grid and how much “luck” you have going first. Active abilities allow you to do different things than just targeting space D4 and hoping you hit the battleship: For example you can fire a torpedo, send out a bomber, or use a telescope to scout some grid spaces. There are also counter-abilities like a torpedo-net or anti-aircraft guns.

Overall that makes the game a lot more dynamic to play than the original. But obviously the player who has collected more powerful ships has a distinctive advantage, having more powerful active abilities and a larger grid on which to hide his ships. Fortunately there is a matchmaking system that prevents you getting paired against the top players while you are still in the lower leagues. Which makes the game okay playable without paying any money, or just buying the occasional special offer. Having endless amount of time isn’t much help, as you can only grind a certain number of chests full of ships every day.

I don’t think there is any game left that didn’t get this sort of monetization make-over in a mobile version, frequently based around collectible items. I’ve even seen coin dozer games that work like that. SailCraft has the advantage that the underlying game of Battleship is a relatively intelligent one, and you can actually outthink your opponent to a certain degree. I just don’t think I’ll ever make it to the very top, because that appears to require some serious spending, which I am not willing to do.

Simplified : Client_Server – Socket Programming in Java

Client_Server – Socket Programming in Java

java socket programming



Client -server communication

At a basic level, network-based systems consist of a server , client , and a media for communication. A computer running a program that makes a request for services is called client  machine. A computer running a program that offers requested services from one or more clients is called  server machine.

Client-Server Architcture


What are Sockets?

In Client-Server architecture, you have two processes (running client-Server programs) that want to communicate with each other. For that, they have to establish a communication link between themselves. There is a network available,they just need to connect to this network , for this they use sockets.

Sockets in client server architecture

A socket is one endpoint of a two-way communication link between two programs running on the network.

An endpoint is a combination of an IP address and a port number. Every TCP connection can be uniquely identified by its two endpoints. That way you can have multiple connections between your host and the server.
The java.net package in the Java platform provides a class, Socket, that implements one side of a two-way connection between your Java program and another program on the network. 

How do I Open a Socket ?

If you are programming a client, then you would open a socket like this:
 Socket s;
s
= new Socket("Machine name", PortNumber);
Where Machine name is the machine you are trying to open a connection to, and Port-Number is the port (a number) on which the server you are trying to connect to is running. When selecting a port number, you should note that port numbers between 0 and 1,023 are reserved for privileged users (that is, super user or root). These port numbers are reserved for standard services, such as email, FTP, and HTTP. When selecting a port number for your server, select one that is greater than 1,023!


It is a good practice to handle exceptions. The above can be written as:

    Socket s;
try {
s
= new Socket("Machine name", PortNumber);
}
catch (IOException e) {
System.out.println(e);
}
If you are programming a server, then this is how you open a socket:

    ServerSocket ss;
try {
ss
= new ServerSocket(PortNumber);
}
catch (IOException e) {
System.out.println(e);
}
When implementing a server you also need to create a socket object from the ServerSocket in order to listen for and accept connections from clients.

Socket clientSocket = null;
try {
serviceSocket
= ss.accept();
}
catch (IOException e) {
System.out.println(e);
}

How do I create Buffered Reader?

Java BufferedReader class is used to read the text from a character-based input stream. It can be used to read data line by line by readLine() method. It makes the performance fast. 
    try {
BufferedReader br = new BufferedReader(new InputStreamReader(ss.getInputStream()));

}
catch (IOException e) {
System.out.println(e);
}

How do I create an output stream?

On the client side, you can create an output stream to send information to the server socket using the class  of java.io:
    PrintStream output;
try {
OutputStream ostream = sock.getOutputStream();
DataOutputStream dos = new DataOutputStream(ostream);

}
catch (IOException e) {
System.out.println(e);
}
The class DataOutputStream allows you to write Java primitive data types; many of its methods write a single Java primitive type to the output stream. The method writeBytes is a useful one.

How do I Close a Socket ?

On the client side:

    try {
output
.close();
input
.close();
s
.close();
}
catch (IOException e) {
System.out.println(e);
}

On the server side:

    try {
output
.close();
input
.close();
ss
.close();
}
catch (IOException e) {
System.out.println(e);
}
Let’s see java code for one-way communication using socket programming:

Client Side Code:
import java.net.Socket; 
import java.io.OutputStream;
import java.io.DataOutputStream;

public class SCPTL
{
public static void main(String args[]) throws Exception
{
Socket sock = new Socket("localhost", 5000);
String message1 = "Learn-Intern-Certify from SCPTL";

OutputStream ostream = sock.getOutputStream();
DataOutputStream dos = new DataOutputStream(ostream);
dos.writeBytes(message1);
dos.close();
ostream.close();
sock.close();
}
}
Server Side Code:
import java.net.ServerSocket;            
import java.net.Socket;
import java.io.*;

public class SERVER
{
public static void main(String args[]) throws Exception
{
ServerSocket sersock = new ServerSocket(5000);
System.out.println("server is ready"); // message to know the server is running

Socket sock = sersock.accept();

BufferedReader br = new BufferedReader(new InputStreamReader(sock.getInputStream()));

String message2 = br.readLine();
System.out.println(message2);
sock.close(); sersock.close();
}
}

Output:

Client:

Client side output
Server:

Server side output

Want to learn more about java?

MSNBC Shows Scary Clip of Trump and Putin Using Exact Same Talking Points

The two appear to be synching their propaganda.

Using footage from President Donald Trump’s recent rally in Florida and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annual media conference, MSNBC demonstrated how the two world leaders are sharing talking points.

Both leaders insulted Trump’s opposition, made grandiose claims about the stock market and claimed Trump is the victim of fake news.

Putin has spoken on the phone at least twice with the president in the last week as he blatantly vies for power over Trump by boosting his fragile ego.

Watch the clip below.

 

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