While researching the proper way SCREEN$ load on a Spectrum, I was distracted by somehow running across an old adventure game.
Hampstead was by Melbourne House, who put out a fair few classic text adventures in the 1980s. As the instructions put it:
Hampstead is a quest, but not for gold. The aim of it is to reach the pinnacle of social status, and acquiring wealth is only one part of the problem. If you wish to go up in the world you also have to gain the admiration and respect of your fellow men, and there's more to that than a fat bank balance.
There’s been a flickr of rediscovery in the past: Aleks Krotoski wrote about it in the Guardian Gamesblog in 2007, as did Anna Black earlier this year. Personally, I find it interesting for a few reasons. For one thing, it’s one of those games during the flowering of 8-bit home computers that tried to reflect everyday life, and perhaps even comment on them (as did Manic Miner and Skooldaze/Back to Skool). For another, there’s this comment in the Crash preview of the game:
It is different to most adventures, in that its purpose is to amuse people rather than provide a hard adventure. Indeed, the adventure is extremely simple, which the authors say is so that anyone can complete it, and so reap more enjoyment from it.
That’s a sentiment that’s getting traction again these days, at least amongst certain people I know. Perhaps I’ll even download the game and give it a go. After all, who doesn’t want a bit of Hampstead once in a while?
This week, Foursquare (“Check in. Find your friends. Unlock your city.”) launched in another fifteen European cities, following London last month. Unfortunately, even in that short time, I’ve stopped playing.
As I mentioned in my post on noticings, Foursquare (and the vaguely related game/service, Gowalla) are “focussed on right there, right then”. They’re about chasing the red dot, which I’m terrible at. Last Friday I went to two pubs and a restaurant, which for me is a raging night out these days, but because I was actually enjoying myself, I completely forgot to check in to any of them.
Personally, I want Foursquare to be another component of my outboard brain, remembering where I’ve been and when, so I don’t have to. Unfortunately, that’s not what it’s for. The website exposes a “feed” but there’s no detail to it. The API can return a history, but it defaults to 20 items and has no paging, so I suspect after a year I’d be out of luck. More importantly, I can’t even do a check-in to somewhere I’ve been but am not at: not only is there no way to edit the time of a check-in, but people regard this as cheating and there are planned to be measures to stop it.
The combination of those two, along with the fact that people (rightly) argue against checking in to everything¹, have led me to basically drop off Foursquare entirely. Admittedly, this is a bit like saying “This horse is terrible at being a housepet!” but nonetheless, when someone comes up with a nice way of recording where I am that I can backfill, yet which ties together with a social context² to perhaps encourage serendipity, I’ll be right there.
¹ I’d like to have a record of my Tube journeys, for example, which I could do with FourTap, but really I’d want details of the entire trip, not just the start and end points (and I wouldn’t want to post those to Foursquare, as I’m by definition passing through). The same goes to some extent for buses.
² This is why I probably won’t use Daytum for something like this. That, and the lack of a useful pre-filled (even if flawed) database of places.
When I arrived in work this morning, Adrian told me there was a new version of Flight Control out. I’d already seen that there were new maps coming, but the game tightens the experience for veteran players nicely.
(If you’re not an iPhone owner, or just haven’t played it, Flight Control (iTunes Store link) is a game requiring you to draw flight paths for a series of incoming aircraft to their correct landing area - two runways, one each for red and yellow aircraft, and helipads for helicopters. It makes very good use of the touch-screen, and is deservedly popular.)
The complaint I’d heard most about the game was that it took a while to get going; there was the same somewhat predictable sequence for the first 15 or so planes, until it started getting challenging at around 30-40 (for me, anyway; I gather some people are far better at it than I am). When you finally made a fatal error, the just-one-more-go factor was reduced by the knowledge of the somewhat boring slog you’d have to go through before it got interesting again.
The (free) revision fixes this in two ways. Firstly, there’s a fast-forward button to go with the pause button. This speeds up the pace of the game, which is good when you have straightforward patterns and want to skip to the hard stuff. Tapping it again returns to normal speed.
The second change is that the two new airfields, Beach and Aircraft Carrier, have somewhat recalibrated difficulty. I think Beach is a bit easier than the original field - it has two helipads, for example - but the carrier is definitely harder, because it pretty much starts with multiple types of aircraft and forces you to avoid crossing paths, which the other maps introduce later on.
In other words, if you want to be thrown in with a challenge, it’s perfect. The screenshot shows the end of my first go with the carrier airfield, and it’s tough. I did get a more respectable 52.
That’s not to say Flight Control is perfect. I’d still like the option of sound effects overlaid on already-playing music, but that’s not an option while FC has a theme tune. Adrian also suggested that swapping airfields by swiping would be a nice touch, and I agree.
Still, for a game that many people bought at its initial $1 price, Flight Control’s new maps and nicely-handled fast-forward features are very nice to have. If you’re an iPhone or iPod touch owner and you haven’t yet bought this, you really should. If you have, make sure you update to 1.2; it’s well worth it.