Quick Fix 9 – This Looks Familiar: solution

Ten people managed to solve the puzzle in two weeks. The solution was simpler than usual this time: following clues (this looks familiar, great value can be found in tiniest things) and examining the SteamGifts favicon shown next to the website link, one could notice that the icon is subtly different from the original favicon (there’s certainly some difference, but I trust you’ll be able to get it). The filename of the SG icon hosted on OG is ecc200.ico, and ECC200 is the latest data matrix standard; comparing the altered icon’s pixel values to those of the original and looking at the resulting bitmap reveals the 16×16 data matrix, which, when scanned, yields a code leading to the SG giveaway.

The comparison could be done in lots of various ways, but I believe the simplest one is to use the compare utility from the ever-useful ImageMagick package. A one-liner compare -highlight-color White -lowlight-color Black ecc200.ico favicon.ico out.png would give you exactly the result you need.

I hope you had fun; be sure to check for updates, the next puzzle will probably be up within a week or two. See you, and good luck!

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Xenonauts: an introduction

My first two attempts at Xenonauts, unsurprisingly, failed. Ironman Veteran difficulty does that. Now I’m starting a third one, and why not inflict it upon my all of my 1.5 readers? So here it is. Ironman Veteran again; I’m definitely going to use what I learnt from my previous attempts, but beyond that I’d like to keep spoilers to a minimum, thank you very much. Let’s see how long this one lasts!  Read More »

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First impressions: Xenonauts

Xenonauts is a long-awaited remake/spiritual sequel to X-Com. Five years in the making, it finally reached release state on the Seventeenth of June. Of course I had to get it as soon as I could. Here come some first impressions!  Read More »

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Quick Fix 9 – This Looks Familiar

The prize is… interesting this time, certainly. But this time, you’ll probably need some sharp eyes to get to it, or maybe some quality optics if you are as unfortunate on that account as I am. There’s certainly some difference, but I trust you’ll be able to get it.

As per usual, you need to find a SteamGifts giveaway link here somewhere, or its shortened five-symbol version. Remember, knowing is half the battle, so previous puzzles and their solutions may be of some indirect assistance — great value can be found in tiniest things. You have two weeks, friends, and my blessings.

The rules are simple as always:

Do not leak, post answers, suggest hints, or directly link to the prize/giveaway.

Meet you there!

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OpenXcom 1.0

OpenXcom has recently hit version 1.0! Let’s take a look at what it is and what can be done with it.  Read More »

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First impressions: War Thunder

Yet another free-to-play not-quite-MMOG! This time it’s War Thunder: a World War II and Cold War-era aircraft, tank and eventually warship simulator from Gaijin Entertainment, creators of Star Conflict. I’ve played it for a couple of days and now I’m ready to share some first impressions with it.  Read More »

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OpenTTD: boats and a train. Just the one.

I continue my OpenTTD game. As my roads approach capacity, I have to expand into other methods of transportation, and deal with the competition.  Read More »

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OpenTTD: strategy all of a sudden

Here’s a bit of gameplay of OpenTTD 1.4.0. This latest stable release includes cargodist, an addition I glossed over before, while it was in trunk. Let’s install a few newGRFs and have a go! It probably won’t be anything grand, but with some newGRFs, a town growth gamescript and infrastructure maintenance added, the game suddenly becomes much more of a strategy. One I’m not very good at, to boot!  Read More »

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Fixing GFWL update loop

No doubt many of you encountered the same problem I did trying to play my GFWL-protected Steam games (titles including Dead Rising 2, Dark Souls, Bulletstorm and GTA IV among others): after the initial login GFWL without any explanation goes plunging in the neverending cycle of update attempts, unable to actually fetch and install them, and thus preventing access to the actual game. This didn’t happen on some of my systems, and had been fixed by manual GFWL installation on others, but in several unfortunate cases it never went away at all. So I decided to find the reason, and the solution, as it often happens, turned out to be pretty easy — just obscured by GFWL’ unwillingness to give proper reasons for its inability to co-operate.

First of all, install the latest GFWL version manually: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=5549

Try to launch it, and if you encountered the aforementioned update loop most likely you will be greeted by a message telling you that Windows Live ID Sign-in Assistant is unavailable. You can get it here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=15106

Now, when you install the assistant, it is entirely possible that it would fail silently and refuse to finish the installation — this same thing is what happens when GFWL tries to get the update in-game and for some reason makes you believe it did actually succeed. To fix this, all you need to do is enable your update service. Go to Control Panel – Administrative Tools – Services, find Windows Update (which almost certainly would turn out disabled) and switch it to Manual. After this, you should be able to simply launch your game and allow GFWL to do its job at last — it should take a bit longer than the false update you’re probably used to by now, and after relaunching the game you should see a Steam installation message.

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A few thoughts on Transistor

Okay. Let’s be honest here. If you cared about Transistor, you probably already have it. So in this article, I’m not going to review the game as much as I usually do. This is not about why you might like it, but more of a personal opinion on the whole thing. I’ll also try to avoid any direct comparisons to Bastion. The games do feature a lot of similar themes, and discussing these similarities and differences would be a fun topic — but Transistor is strong enough to stand on its own. It does not reference its predecessor in any appreciable way.

The game’s protagonist is Red. Red is a singer who lost her voice in an unfortunate accident. Armed with a sword with a man trapped inside of it, she sets out to discover the motives of whoever staged the accident and discover the nature of The Process, a mysterious threat that’s doing something to the city of Cloudbank. The story is definitely the game’s strongest part – arguably the only part that matters.

The gameplay is an unusual mix of real-time and turn-based something. It can’t be an action if it’s turn-based, it doesn’t have enough variables to be an RPG, the levels are too simple for it to be tactics. But it’s a very enjoyable combat system. It’s challenging, it offers quite a lot of customisation — admittedly, not as deep as it may appear at first, and not as deep as other critics may have made it out to be –, it combines the real-time and turn-based sides of combat in a way that they complement each other, it forces the player to stay on their toes by shaking up the powers they can use in the next encounter. It’s quite brilliantly designed.

But here’s what’s going to be a major dealbreaker for some people: the game is very short and absolutely linear. 4-5 hours have been cited. 5-8 is my estimate, considering a leisurely pace. Doesn’t outstay its welcome, some will say. Doesn’t give the gameplay enough time to truly shine, others will object. There are additional challenges that can be beaten to unlock the game’s soundtrack for your in-game jukebox, and a New Game+ mode that expands the player’s customisation by allowing to combine abilities with themselves and generally increases the difficulty — but it doesn’t affect the story in any significant way.

The game looks and sounds great. Not surprising, considering the talent involved.

And now, let’s talk about the story, since it is obviously the game’s strongest point. Be warned: major unmarked spoilers and analysis of the story that may hurt your enjoyment of it more than any spoiler ever could below the line. Don’t go there unless you have already beaten the game. Watch someone else play it if you don’t want to play it yourself. Seriously. Even if you don’t like it, see the story first. And don’t run to ask what everyone else thinks as soon as you’re done. Give yourself a couple of days to digest it first. Deal? Read More »

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