July 30, 2011

Humble Bundle 3.0 -Game Review-

Many of you might have heard of the new deal in the gaming world - Humble Bundle 3.0.

Video games that support charity
For those of you who don't know, the Humble Bundle releases are exactly what they seem like - a number of great games with a 'pay-what-you-want' basis, all in the name of charity.

You heard me. Support charity through the purchase of this game!

Here's how the buying works: Purchase the Humble Bundle 3.0 at a price of anything(ranging from $0.01 to as much as you like). Then, you choose how your payment will be divided, between the game developers and the charity organisations. 

Of course, head over to the main site for more information(link above).

Now let's talk specifics. What does this release have in store for us? Before that, we would like to answer the question that is lingering in your mind right now: What is a game review doing in a Physics + Life blog?

  1. All of the games featured are Physics-based. (or puzzle-based)
  2. To satisfy the readers' desire to fiddle around with physics-based games.
Other physics-based games you should check out are: Fantastic Contraption and Trine

Moving on to the actual bundle:
All of the games are not graphic-intensive, so there's no need to buy insurance for your computer. Besides, all of them are aesthetically pleasing, and your eyes will be saved. Also, all of them have remarkable soundtracks, which will not kill your ears. They also contain hours of limitless fun in each of them.
TL;DR: Great value for money, and you can pay how much you like.

Our first game would be Crayon Physics Deluxe.

Exactly what it says on the box, Crayon Physics Deluxe is a combination of two of the greatest discoveries of man - crayon and physics. 

This is a near-flawless example of 2D-based physics problem solving. Levels consist of moving a ball to a star to progress, using any means necessary to do so. One accomplishes this feat by drawing a series of lines, circles and boxes (all of which are affected by gravity) to move the ball.

Do not be fooled by the screencaps.

My only gripe is that the resolution could have been a little higher. That aside, it's a very good game, and very fun to play. 

Game 2: Cogs

Limitless Fun.
Cogs is an award-winning puzzle game for the PC, iPhone, iPad, Mac and netbook. Immersed in a steampunk world with stunning visual design, Cogs players build an incredible variety of machines from sliding tiles. With 50 unique levels and three gameplay modes, we've packed in hours of entertaining, addictive fun.

I couldn't have said it better. This game is hard to describe, but rest assured, it is very fun and is definitely worth your money.

Cogs is a puzzle game similar to the mini-games of Bioshock, if you've played that. (Bioshock would require a powerful graphics card) There's different objectives each time, excellent brain exercises.

Game 3: VVVVVV

If you're just looking for casual, relaxing games, you might want to take a step away from this one. Not because it looks old (actually, they did a pretty good job in making the game retro, and it has awesome music too), but this game is HARD

As the captain of an interdimensional craft, you crash your ship, lose your crew, and then get lost yourself. To put it right again, you must explore the collapsing VVVVVV dimension, where you move by upending gravity.

 VVVVVV is a 2D platformer where you can’t jump. Instead you flip gravity on its head and fall upwards (by pressing ‘V’ – or space, or Z), then flip it back. The joy comes from plotting your path across ceilings and floors, around spikes, perhaps over moving platforms, to the next screen. VVVVVV is both reminiscent of long-gone Spectrum platformers, and completely its own game.

Checkpoints are everywhere, and an absolute necessity. The whole game is one long difficulty spike. We died 2,000 times in five hours. It requires absolute mastery of your three movement buttons – one pixel out and you’re dead, slipping off the edge of a platform and up into spikes. And then alive immediately afterwards, thanks to the checkpoints. It’s devilish. Inches from success after hours of failure. Even the small mercy of the frequent checkpoints is turned against you in one brilliant puzzle, where you need to be very careful about where you resurrect. One corridor is called ‘the warning’, and is full of them, mocking you.

It can be frustrating, but only because you’re not doing it right – this isn’t the silly end-boss brand of injustice, nor is it an obtuse lateral puzzle. It’s just a game that requires patience and absolute perfection. A typical puzzle will ask you to weave quickly and accurately through spike-choked shafts, flipping between multiple screens, to land on a vanishing platform for just long enough to flip gravity again, and re-thread the same path. All to cross a knee-high barrier you otherwise can’t jump over.

Which sounds maddening, and anyone watching will think you’re using some sort of self-torture device, but there’s a delicate joy hidden in VVVVVV. When you have to navigate four screens without dying, you can only start to practise the second when you’ve learned to zip flawlessly through the first. It’s like safe cracking – you run, you flip, you wait, you flip, you die, you try again. This time you get to the second platform, and when it raises you into the spiked roof, you notice that you can flip and land on the underside instead.

There are enemies of a sort: the word ‘LIES’ coming out of a megaphone, or spinning coins rotating in a corridor shaped like a dollar symbol. Touch those, touch pretty much anything, and you die. The point isn’t re-doing huge sections of the game when you fail. It’s about failing so often that it becomes a Zen experience. You either complete the level, or you find where developer Terry Cavanagh lives and deliver a horse’s head.

The fierce and relentlessly upbeat soundtrack is dripping with personality, a real labour of love. You could say the same about any aspect – the snippets of dialogue between excited or terrified crew members, the puzzle design, the strobing splendour of the world, and even the names of the rooms. It all makes VVVVVV truly special. It’s a beautifully made game with lots of challenge, atmosphere and polish.

You know that the game truly has to be worth your time because of the huge wall of text above.
I will review the other two games in my next post. 

Recap: The games do not require amazing graphic cards, and are still very good games. Get them, and donate to charity!

July 19, 2011

Music's Secret Recipe.

Verse 2
Chorus 2
Chorus 3

Does this look familiar to you? This has been the structure for most pop music for the past few years. A pop song usually consists of a series of verses, interspersed with a refrain(Chorus), and often with an instrumental breakdown(which are the favourite parts of songs of many, including yours truly).
The chorus is usually arranged to be in contrast with the verses harmonically, melodically and lyrically in a colourful burst of sound. Choruses are usually fuller in sound, and usually contain the 'hook' of the piece.

People have attempted to alter this primordial structure to give their songs a unique twist of their own, which ultimately resulted in the single-hook-endless-repetition songs that we have today.

It's a matter of personal taste in music, so I shall not delve any further into the genres of music.

In this blog, one would expect these types of chords.

To further enrich the musical deluge, the artists utilise chord progressions to their advantage. The most significant of them is the pop-punk chord progression.

"Four Chords" is one of The Axis of Awesome's best-known works. It is a medley of popular songs that all follow the pop-punk chord progression. The work is an attempt to outline the perceived formulaic nature of popular music.

Speaking of the Axis of Awesome, they also underline the similarities of the popular love songs of today in : How to write a Love Song

Until next time.

P.S. The Japanese music industry is frighteningly cutthroat. We really look up to the Japanese artists who made it up.

July 14, 2011

Which Fantasy RPG character quiz?

Here are my results:

Your result for The Fantasy RPG Class Test...

The Psionic Striker

15% Strength, 17% Bloodlust, 89% Intelligence, 35% Spirit, 20% Vitality and 20% Agility!
Instead of using magic to manipulate the elements and the world around them, Psionic Strikers will use their mind and mental energy. By focusing their mind, Psionic Strikers can use telekinesis to lift objects and even unleash powerful blasts and shields of mental energy. As masters of martial arts, Psionic Strikers can even use their telekinesis to increase the physical power of their punches and kicks or they can use it to levitate. Against weaker opponents, Psionic Strikers may use their powers to mentally shatter a person's neck or spine. By using their telepathy, Psionic Strikers can read their opponent's mind, and thus more easily predict their next move in battle. This makes them extremely difficult to counter because they always know what you are going to do next. Their telepathy can even be used to speak into another person's mind and plant thoughts and ideas there. They can use this power to manipulate and control their opponents, thus allowing them to turn any battle in their favor. Psionic Strikers often have a passion for death and battle, and some have mastered forms of dark magic. By fusing this dark magic with their psychic energy, Psionic Strikers can create and unleash devasting blasts of powerful energy from their mind and fists. On the other hand, some Psionic Strikers are more peaceful and have mastered forms of light magic, which they can also fuse with their psionic energy. In addition, Psionic Strikers can use their mastery over moon magic to enhance their strength and agility by transforming at night into various wild and ferocious beast-human hybrids.
Congratulations on reaching this frighteningly powerful class!
This is a special class and requires a very high amount of Psionic Force. You scored 72% on this variable!
Psionic Force overshadows any Hidden Power granted by the Genie.

Take The Fantasy RPG Class Test at HelloQuizzy


I must say, this is a pretty well-done quiz. Try it out for yourself, and share your results with me!
Put your class in the comments below!

July 9, 2011

10 percent of brain: True? + Other stuff.

We have all heard of the stories that we humans only use 10 percent of our brain capacity. These allegations all imply that the unused 90 percent of the brain is capable of extraordinary feats, namely psychic powers, telekinesis and ESP.

"It is a myth that man uses only 10 percent of present brain capacity; evolution theory argues against such a monumental waste of available resources."
-James Kakalios

Evolution theory engineers all beings to be as efficient as possible, thus it is highly improbable that humans would have such a big percentage of unused grey matter. Neurologist Barry Gordon (famous for his efforts in debunking this myth) states that man uses virtually every part of the brain, and that [most of] the brain is active at all times. 

Gordon also tells us that the myth's durability feeds on people's conceptions about their own faults as being attributed to untapped brain power. What is correct, however, is that at certain moments (rest/sleep) we might be only using 10 percent of the brain.

The human brain consists of the cerebellum, the cerebrum and the brain stem. (Basic high school biology/science class knowledge that you already know. Otherwise: http://tinyurl.com/dfrk89)

The cerebrum is the large hefty blob that is responsible for all cognitive functions. The cerebellum manages all your motor functions; while the brain stem is dedicated to involuntary actions such as breathing. 

The majority of the power consumed by the brain powers the rapid firing of millions of neurons communicating with each other. Scientists think it is such neuronal firing and connecting that gives rise to all of the brain's higher functions.

This brings us to - (source)
Evolution: The brain is enormously costly to the rest of the body, in terms of oxygen and nutrient consumption. It can require up to twenty percent of the body's energy--more than any other organ--despite making up only 2% of the human body by weight. If 90% of it were unnecessary, there would be a large survival advantage to humans with smaller, more efficient brains. If this were true, the process of natural selection would have eliminated the inefficient brains. By the same token, it is also highly unlikely that a brain with so much redundant matter would have evolved in the first place.

TL;DR :It is a myth that man uses only 10 percent of present brain capacity

Where are we going?
We are getting closer to the Corridor Theory.

Consider the notions: 
if neurons could be smaller and still fulfill their role in the brain. 
What happens when man finally discovers the boundaries of the universe?
Can escape velocity can be applied to the universe? On such scales, where the (approaching) infinite number of forces interact together, what happens?
And the most important question of all:

Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?

All of the above are under investigation, and (the findings) would be presented in a more concise format when the time comes. No promises.