Dusting off my blog

Returning to blogging could have been as straightforward as hitting the publish button. However in the 6 months since I last posted and even longer since I had done any maintenance, there was housekeeping that urgently needed doing.

Social

It dawned on me that I had not reviewed the social links in sometime, thankful it was straightforward to discard some out of date links for Raptr,Anook and Forge, I also added some newer items such as GOG and BattleNet.

Privacy & Cookie Policy

Cookies are a way that sites can store data in the browser, this can range from session information to preferences or options, these allowed for customisation of site features. On top of that nowadays cookies can be used to track everything users do on a site, what they searched, what they clicked on and other behavioural traits.

Unless you have been living under a rock you will have encountered the EU Cookie Policy from 2 years ago and also the more recent GDPR, these cover how cookies are set and explaining how visitors data maybe be used respectively. GDPR covers explaining how a users data will be used and also the right for a users data to be removed and how they can request this.

WordPress has been proactive in giving users the ability to create a privacy policy page with a good template to get the ball rolling, however a list of cookies and their purpose is the preferred display method for detailing what cookies your website will be setting in a users browser. So I set about documenting what cookies load the first time you visit my site directly (incognito mode is good for testing this).

Me and Privacy

In the last year I started using Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF) Privacy Badger, this plugin is for Chrome/Firefox and Opera effectively allow users to manage what cookies from a site they wish to allow and which they want to blacklist.

You may have noted that my Share Buttons have now gone from the end of each post. The reason behind this is that when reviewing my website looking at what cookies were being set for the cookie policy, there were many tracking cookies that were linked to the sharing buttons.

Why remove them?
We’ll I don’t think they were used much, but since I have been taking steps to help my own privacy I didn’t want people to feel the same about visiting my site, so I removed the Sharing Buttons, which dropped the number of cookies massively. I have been looking into alternatives for share buttons, that don’t actually have any tracking or cookies, sounds simple but it’s still a Work in Progress.

I then decided to review the remaining Cookies. There were however 3 cookies from Google Webmaster Tools that I had setup many, many years ago, now if I want metrics on visitors I generally use the information that WordPress can supply. So I decided that since I could not remember the last time I had looked at the Google data I most likely didn’t need it. So that got removed as well.

The result

So after all that my site only drops 3 cookies on a new visitor coming to my site, 2 from WordPress and 1 that my hosting company drop for load balancing.
Running a website used to be quick and easy, now there are hoops to jump through and cookies to bake.

7 out of 10 OS’s

I have been recently pondering when I rebuild my gaming PC if I should go for Windows 10, I have been happy with Windows 7 and so far haven’t really had a strong enough reason to switch.

Pros

  • DX12 support
  • Fast boot
  • Smaller OS footprint

Cons

  • My experience of Windows 10 is that I have seen more Blue Screens in the 18 months of using the OS than I have ever seen with Windows 7.
  • I still regularly hear stories of unexpected or breaking OS updates hampering gamers.

So I decided to see what the take up of the OS from fellow gamers has been, visiting the Steam Survey site, I have to say I was quite surprised by what I found.

Steam Survey Jun 2018

In the last 5 months there has been a vast change in the Steam user base (that have given information for the survey) shifting massively from Windows 7 64bit to Windows 10 64bit.

I know that Sea of Thieves released in mid-march, which was only available on Windows 10, but could that have impacted the metrics so much?
Yesterday Microsoft reported that more than 5 million people have played the game since launch, bearing in mind that in the the first week the number of copies solds was 2 million, it’s not a terrible figure to wave about.
Admittedly those figures cover both PC and XBox but it’s interesting to think that it may have spurred people into updating, but maybe not the sole reason.

Perhaps like myself it was just a natural time for a large number of people to upgrade their machines, taking the opportunity to move OS’s too.
Are DX11 is more performant on Windows 10 and people want to get the most from their existing games?

As more upcoming titles begin to opt for DX12 the last bastions of Windows 7 will start to crumble, maybe I just have to endure the random updates and blue-screens with everyone else.

Backlog trimming

So I continue with my adventure into my Steam backlog, I had chance today to play three games that I haven’t touched before and I quite enjoyed scanning through titles I remember wishlisting a buying during sales.

So I played some games that were all a little different.

Unstoppable Gorg is a 2012 Tower Defense game from Futuremark, I found the mechanic of the game rather fun as it added a different dimension to the order and way you built towers. The game storyline is rather fun and fully embraces the B movie era with it’s video pieces.

 

I don’t know where to start with Dr. Langeskov, the game take traditional game tropes and twists them into something unexpected. I really enjoyed playing the game and it had me laughing at times, much like Stanley Parable.

 

Dear Esther :LE is the revamped version of the original game now in the Unity Engine instead of Source, the sound has been remastered.

It had been some time since I had played this title and I feel I’ve half remembered much of the game, it was nice to have a reminder of my first thoughts on the game. The story is still as gripping as it was the first time.

 

If the game Outrun and the film Crank had a child it would be Outdrive, a fairly straight forward game that needs you to drive and drift a vehicle but also manage the  power so it’s not going too fast or slow. It was tricky to get it right to start with but after a while it was second nature.

 

Last word is a fun little game that has a combat system that requires a little strategy in order to beat your opponent. The aim of the battles is to always have the last word. The artwork is very nice and the soundtrack was also rather pleasant.

I’m surprised that the game hasn’t made the leap into mobile platform as it could work quite well.

 

This puzzle game was a blast, Cubot slowly ramps up the difficulty as it introduces new mechanics for you to master (overcome). The first 4 sections I took in my stride then things got more difficult and I didn’t have the time to sit and work out the solutions, but I can see me going back to try and complete the game in full.

Still Alive

Hi folks I’m still here, I just renewed my hosting plan so I’d best get some value out of it by blogging.
I stupidly failed to remember that we had visitors coming last weekend, so I kind of just failed to do any blogging or plan any posts in advanced.

I know that I didn’t blog as much as I wanted in January however the 18 posts I managed I was rather pleased with. I think that I’m going to aim for a minimum of 3 posts a week, which I feel will give me a little breathing space when work and life get hectic.

So onto February, I have made a start on games I’ve not played in my Steam Backlog first up was the retro feeling Stories Untold from No Code Studio.

The game is comprised of 4 episodes and it is a blend of adventure and suspense, it also draws on other genres such as text based adventures from the 80’s (hell there is even 80’s hardware in there) plus the frustration of old school text adventures and the syntax needed to progress the story line.

I really enjoyed this game a lot, it took between 2 and 3 hours to complete and it was on the edge of my seat for much of it.
If you haven’t played it and like suspense/horror games that mess with your head, I really recommend this game.

This month I’m also preparing for GameBlast, so expect some information about that coming up more shortly.

Somewhere : the child of CYOA & ARG

I enjoy narrative stories, stories that make you think, that make you doubt your choices, that make you concerned and worried that you may have made the wrong decision. This enjoyment of course originates with the countless Choose your own Adventure books that I enjoyed growing up, I would often spend evenings being a spy, or a traveller among the stars, but mostly it was attempting to avoid a grizzly death.

At the end of 2017 I had the pleasure of playing the test version of an interactive game, the game is called SomeWhere and it’s kind of a mixture of Choose your own Adventure and an Alternate Reality Game, it takes place in in real time, but with an added twist that you get notifications on your Smart Device, some instantly during conversation, some later usually waiting for an event to conclude.

I have to be frank I wasn’t sure how engaging I would find the game but I was gripped almost immediately, keen to get another update to see how things had played out, the limited test version of the game left me wanting to learn more, I guess that I need to wait until the game launches fully. Then “Take my Money!”

 

The game is being developed by Norseman Interactive and uses the well loved tool used for Interactive stories Twinery, although the screenshots posted indicate the sheer number of routes and options the game will allow you to take. It’s far bigger than any twine game I’ve ever written. Nice feature about using Twinery is that the game doesn’t actually need an internet connection in order to notify you of updates,as it is all scripted into the game.

There is also a nice feature that allow you to explore all avenues of the game, you can track your steps back and make another choice ( yes like holding open that page in your Choose your own adventure books in case you died on page 172.

On Android the Beta Version of the game can be found here : https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tanuki.somewhere&hl=en