Friday, March 30, 2012

Cultures - A forgotten game

Funatics - that is the name of the German game company which developed the Cultures series.

I came into contact with the first one sometime in early college or late 12th std. Anyway it was quite some time back. And I didn't have a backup setup or copy of the game. Also there was a HDD crash in between which created a situation of gross unavailability of digital data.

Anyway a few days back I had a strong urge to hunt down this game and play it. I couldn't even recall its name properly. I was having the name "Civs" or "Civilization" in my mind. I was trying to find this game without running into any one of the Sid Meier's series.

After a frantic search session lasting about an hour and after trying out various questionable ways of querying Google, I gave up.

While closing the open browser tabs, I glanced upon a Civ 4 forum talking something about another game.. and I was just skimming through the lines, when a post one fellow caught my attention.

He spoke of the exactly same game that I was looking for and was asking for its name. Someone followed it up with the name "Cultures". I felt as if all gaming neurons fired at once. That night(yesterday), the game was found and safely downloaded to my disk. Additionally I got hold of the 2nd,3rd and 4th installations of the same game.

Reviews spoke of a lame and slow game filled with micromanagement. Exactly what I had in mind for a relaxing night.

Played a lil bit yesterday before moving onto some intense action of Call of Duty:Black Ops.

It is true that the game is quite slow, and requires almost continuous attention to minute details like whether ur fellows are hungry, they have homes, and so on and so off. Doesn't sound surprising to a player of Caesar,Zeus or any of that genre. Does it? But then in those game you play the role of a facilitator. You build roads and buildings, and people work and produce stuff you get to use. In case of Cultures, you need to take care of each person's individual needs too. You get a more closer approach and it feels bad when one person dies or war affects them. Without sounding philosophical, this game is quite relaxing and addictive because it requires you to be part of each and every thing in it.

But as most of the reviews point out, such a game is not welcome in many places, especially so in USA. In Europe and other parts of the world it has gained more support. I guess they have one sure fan in India. Maybe a couple more that I know of.

Overall it is a good game for people interested in RTS but don't want to be grilled with the fast pace of most of such games. A moment of ignorance or a single wrong decision can derail your entire built nation in most of such games, whereas Cultures can be quite forgiving to the player in such situations.

And hey look what I found Funatics Website. Seems Cultures is available online too. And they have a few more games too. Enjoy!

Here is also a link to Gamespot entry for this game Cultures (5.8/10)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mysooru-to-Bengaluru: A Tale of Two Cities

I started off my career in the city of Mysore 2 and a half years ago.

Hailing from a growing metro, and used to the certainty of being in the hometown for 10 long years, I was taken aback initially at what I got to experience.

After 2 years and 5 months of life there(an eventful one), I moved to Bangalore as part of a job change.
Let me try to put the vortex of my thoughts about the two cities in order here:-

Mysore was a laid back town. I hated it for the slow buses, irresponsible traffic, lack of modern facilities and early closure of shops. But now the hate has rightfully been replaced with a longing for what was good in that city. No doubt Mysore is a gem of town for living normal lives. But for youngsters hailing from top colleges and towns with exuberant energy and ambitions, the city proved to be a damper.

I have seen lots of friends and colleagues who came with lots of energy and promise, and crashed themselves against the dull wall that Mysore is. These people wish to do many things, but are unable to find the motivation to do them. Well, it is not the problem with the city in itself that people behave in such ways. But then it does form a major part. There are few opportunities to utilize the energy.

 Having said this, I hate many aspects of Bangalore too. It is dusty, crowded, and has no value for ethics or individuals. After all it is an amalgamation of people from all over the world, all worrying only about their own matters. As with all metros, it is bound to be void of human touch, and more of a sea of machines out here to print notes for themselves.
All the things mentioned above doesn't escape the naked eyes. What might is what comes next.

It is not very difficult to get depressed and lazy in a city like Mysore. After all you can always think of at least a dozen things that suck big time.

But do all people behave so?Leave the residents who might not be able to find peace without the atmosphere that Mysore provides. The answer is NO.

People have fought this inertness and lethargy of the town by indulging themselves into things they wished to do. I admit that the town provides few modern facilities, but it ain't so bad in itself. If I want to list what you can do in Mysore to suit your taste, it will be a very big list. So I will skip that part.
Memories may fade but lessons don't
 The point in simple words is- Mysore makes you look into yourselves, discover what you want to do and pursue it with passion. The lack of all the noise makes you focus on things you value individually.

I greatly benefited from the life in Mysore. The solitude, the relative hardships and need for patience, all provide a good platform for focusing on what is good in life.
Running the Mysore Dasara Celebration Marathon

In Mysore, you generate the motivation and create the paths for using your energy, all by yourself. I remember the pull to go out on trips, undertake patient photo shoots, deep researches and long strolls, whenever some free time present itself to me. I am glad to admit I was able to tap into these opportunities quite well.

This city has a certain energy to it; be it the bustling crowds, the cluttered roads or the dusty construction sites.

People everywhere, moving to some destination or other. All having some or the other goals and ambitions. Even in a casual moment for one, hundreds around might be in an urgency or going through the most important moments in their lives.

To think of all these energies, just gives a channel of infinite energy and motivation.

I know lethargic people who started being more energetic after moving to Bangalore. So in spite of all the maddening stuff around, the city does prove to be a morale booster. People have definite targets, goals and are serious about them in this city. Maybe because in a competitive crowd, one can't afford to be complacent. I like to see it as a rat race, but now that I might also a part of it, I start to see how its designs and methods. Frankly I don't fancy the idea of getting caught in a rat race.
Perpetual motion

Everything in Bangalore seems to be coloured with the same shade of competition. A few words for the 'human touch' is required at this point. It might not be fully dead as many believe it to be. If you look for it , you can still see it lingering around you. It is just beliefs of people like you and me that it is dead, which actually makes it even truer. I have had some good experiences with people in this city. And I would credit my life in Mysore to have let me bring about that experience. After all people react in the same way you treat them...

The vortex is part of the vision. My experiences in one city strengthened and prepared me for what lies in store in the other, or rather for many more things ahead.

Time to fuse the learnings of the old with the challenges of the new to create ultimate weapons. If I manage to merge my will power induced motivations learnt in Mysore with the energy of this city, I believe I can propel myself to higher levels of competence and comfort :)

Trust me to never let a stub of thought to pass by without scrutinizing it. Adios amigos..

Age of Games

Gaming; a hobby I picked up in my 9th std when a new PC was bought at home.
Edit: Technically speaking the Brick Game was the initiator of the hobby about 3 yrs before PCs came in.

My first one was Age of Empires Demo. To think of it now, demos sound funny. But back then that is all we could muster. I remember the frenzy with which games were collected, shared and played.

Not many had computers in their homes back then, at least I didn't know many who had one and played games too. After all, that was the time kids were becoming serious about the 10th board exams and future life and so on.

But me? I was happily engrossed in learning about the various civilizations, their strengths, weaknesses, failures, battle strategies etc. Also the usual arcade games and adrenaline rushing shooter games were quite popular.

Some genres became my favourite while some games remained in my fav list irrespective of the genre - majorly owing to the nostalgia for the fervor with which they were played.

Age of Empires - Never has the value of this game decayed in my mind. Even today I can sit for hours together in front of this game, just as I used to do in the evenings after school, simultaneously arguing with mother who wanted me to take a bath and get to studies , and my brother who waited his turn. Or sometimes I would be the one fighting for the turn. :)

Yesterday I stumbled upon Age of Empires Online from Microsoft Games Marketplace. It was 27mb download and the time was nearly 1 AM. And it is FREE. Only 2 games are FREE in the marketplace - this and Microsoft Flight. So I thought, why not give it a try. Soon after the quick download, I was ready to check it out, but then the game started patching itself and that consumed nearly a couple of hours. Meanwhile I finished watching the  movie "Johny English Reborn".

At about 3 AM I started the game play. Instead of the game, I was informed that Windows LIVE too was outdated and needs to be reinstalled 'n' restarted. Sham! Finally was into the game by 3.30. Went on till 7 maybe when I saw the sun rays illuminating the room. The exp was different from AOE but quite good. And its gameplay borrows from Warcraft and Civilization(Not Sid Meier's) Just one word of caution though: More than half of the game is split into packs that you have to purchase, making it a sour deal for a free loaders (like me).

More strategy games in download queue as my interest has risen again amongst the fun games. No first person or tactical shooters for me. All hypocritical storylines. Edit: Not all, just quite a lot.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Freedom - A collaborative poem

Another crazy collaborative poem by L&T GETs.
Hope someone can make some sense out of it :)

again and again !!!
again again they came

over the hills they came

to conquer us they came

with arms they came

with elephants they came

but we had onething they didn't

and that was courage

which did them in

and we kept our freedom

the freedom to live

to love, to work, to pray

the freedom was lost

the day people slaughtered

and created graves

brothers killed brothers

that wasn't the fate

the fight for land ,

the fight for fame,

were dey lame ?

63yrs passed hence,

still no name

we call it FREEDOM

i call it SHAME

and what a shame

it is when can't share

ones feeling for others

for the fear of the rule

freedom  it is called

i call it fiefdom!

Hail, the mankind

Hail, the name

lets set out to get back

wat we lost , wat we had

it is but just a matter of act

waiting for someone to re-act

why do we wait, wen we can act ?

we keep on complaining

as a matter of fact....

Fine Print

This is a sarcastic poem.
Never bothered about the beauty :) apologies..

I have read,
of the great eagles

that spread fear in the air..

Of the atrocious wars
also i have read
that burnt millions of lives..

Even sagas
of the most perilous of expeditions
have I read..

But one thing i hadn't read

which rewrote my story
and brought me to the present...

 Now I do nothing more
than just wishing that I had read
the offer letter twice.

The day passes on

Another poem composed when a small break presented itself after a season of hectic work..

Sitting with both legs over the pc,
staring at the beautiful wallpaper,
listening to a soothing music track,
Here I am,waiting for snacks time.

All windows minimized,
but still one WINDOWS open,
I sit like this ,
awaiting a timeout.

Work will go on,
but life will not,
time will go on,
but happiness may not.

And now after one full hour,
I am back,
after a sumptuous snack,
peppered with gossip.

Even had a client meeting,
with a lot of staring
and a game of tic-tac-toe;
it was indeed a client call.

So here I sit now,
with both my legs over the desk,
awaiting my supervisor
and his usual questions.

For that I do have answers,
and good ones those are
so good that
even enemies will love me.

Ah so passes the day,
and so are people,
leaving for the day,
hoping for some respite.

Rain - A collaborative poem

The following poem was penned by a group of enthusiastic engineers who were working as Graduate Engineer Trainees in Larsen & Toubro Embedded Systems and Software in 2010(as far as I can recall).

There were nearly 3-4 people involved in preparing this line-by-line over a group chat using the tool Ipmsg, which was a rage until the IT dept banned it..

Presenting to you -- Rain

here comes the rain again..

falling from the stars

drenched in my pain  again...

washing away my fears

quenched be my mental-sprain again

memories flush down the drain

leaving behind just the grain

gazing over the main

waiting for someone

to fill-up the strain

it seems like a never ending chain

we are wandering in the NO-ENTRY lane....

and got rewarded with a cane

for which i had no care

until it started to pain

the pain made me insane

i thought i was inane

i had to but control the game,

so i set out to prove my name

only to end up lame

helped by a dame

i learnt to dream

and to whip the cream

in a world without a frame

a short poem composed a year back

one day u will be
free from the bondage
that holds u in

the chains that hold ur
heart and mind, shall be
thrown away into the ocean

u shall be able to look at the sun
with the same shine in ur eyes
that u had once

ur strength shall be restored,
with renewed vigour
opening up the flood gates

for however foolish a step might be
your intentions shall lead you to ur destiny,
fueled by your passion and effort.