Category Archives: Tools & Services

Let’s talk about security … A short guide to being more safe on the web

Talking about digital/online security is an afterthought for most people, to some, it even seems annoying. “Why would anyone hack me?”, “I don’t have anything important on my computer.”, “I have a super safe password; nobody will ever guess that.”, “I don’t open suspicious attachments, and I am careful, what could happen?” and many other thoughts, make us put security on the backburner until it is too late. Once data is stolen, and accounts are compromised, the average user starts to take security a bit more serious, but you shouldn’t let it come to this.

Being compromised or getting hacked can have serious long-term consequences, that can affect your life in all regards – especially if your livelihood depends on it. If you are planning to generate any income on the internet or rely heavily on the web, you should not shrug your shoulders and take these tips seriously. Breached security can end your career, and all it takes is a crack in your security. Continue reading

Game Guru – The Easy Game Maker?

I am giving away a Steam key for GameGuru! If you want to join the raffle, scroll to the bottom of the post and enter there!

Not too long ago, I was contacted by the developer The Game Creators, to check out their engine GameGuru. It is available on Steam for ~20$. After some initial fun with it on my stream, I figured I would give it a closer look and do a quick introduction / first impression video on the engine. As a game developer with experience, I can not be considered an absolute beginner, so I have other standards. I tried to stay as open-minded as possible, with an absolute beginner as the end user in mind.

Note: GameGuru is an early access title on Steam, so updates over time, might resolve issues I might have encountered with the engine.

I also wanted to leave a few additional words here on my blog, for anyone seeking more information.

GameGuru states to be the easiest and most enjoyable game creator out there. I will have to say, that you will be able to create game quickly IF you accept a few limitations.

  • You will only be able to build first person games. There is no easy way to switch to another perspective or control style, if at all.
  • Indoor levels can only be created with pre-made parts.* If you want anything kind of geometry, you will have to build that in a 3d modeling program and import it into the game. If you have no experience with the creation of games, chances are, you won’t be able to do that as well.
  • The editor allows editing only top down, which makes placement of items, enemies and geometry tricky. Sometimes you can’t see what you create with the terrain tool until you are in the game. You can make changes to the game while you play it, this feels very finicky and impractical. I would love to be able to tilt the editor camera. I assume it has been left out to keep it very straightforward and less prone to problems.
  • You won’t be able to easily edit standard behaviours of your character*, those of enemies or certain events in the game; this will require to work with the LUA system in the background and at that point I feel you can as well learn to work with other (free) engines like Unity or GameSalad.
  • The performance is bad. I run a pretty might right and as soon as I encounter 10-20 enemies at the same time, and my system slows down drastically. For most use cases with this engine, this won’t be an issue; I am just pointing it out.

I think that this engine is a fun little tool to play around with for kids or someone that is thoroughly intimidated by the thought of writing a line of script or code and that can work with these limitations that I listed above.

* Since GameGuru is currently in Early Access, many of the features that are planned are not available yet. It might be worth, checking out this tool later down the line with the following additions made to it:

 

  • Character creator – personalise your game characters using this simple creation tool
  • Construction Kit – the ability to easily create building structures for your games
  • Improved AI & gaming techniques
  • Enhanced explosions and particle effects inc fire/smoke
  • Under water swimming and effects
  • Lazer weapons for Sci-Fi games, Spells for Fantasy games
  • HUD systems; compass tool, map, inventory
  • Melee attack & other combat & interaction game choices
  • Extra characters and game assets”

 

 

Additional links:

How to record a Let’s Play? Recording software to capture your gameplay!

I am certainly not an expert on the different tools out there to record your gameplay footage, but I can at least tell you what I use and why I am using it. I would first split up the available software into recorders which are mainly intended for streaming and then those for recording gameplay without any streaming capabilities. Since they can offer features for both purposes, the lines blur a bit at times.

XSplit or its free open-source alternative OBS are two tools to record your gameplay, while also being able to stream it (even simultaneously) to services like Twitch. These tools will leave you with smaller file sizes if you plan to upload them without any further editing. Due to their nature as streaming software, the quality of the recorded gameplay will be lower than an high-quality recording with other tools. These tools will also leave you with one single file, rather than several, which severely limits your ability to do editing afterward (except simple cuts). You will not be able to adjust the audio levels afterward, so these tools have to be set up perfectly to get the best results. An added benefit of these tools is that you can directly record your webcam with the game, which makes syncing up your video to your game & audio unnecessary; but keep the downside in mind, that you can’t edit the footage very well.

Bandicam, DXtory or Action! (just to name a few), can record gameplay and audio in several tracks (your microphone and the game audio), enabling you to balance to levels afterward and give you better editing abilities. Especially if you don’t have a high-quality microphone or just want to improve your audio quality with effects later, you want to use one of these. These tools will also generally allow higher quality recordings, so if you plan to edit your videos and render them again, I would highly recommend these over the previously mentioned streaming tools for recording. Except Action!, you won’t be able to use these for streaming. (I haven’t heard much about the streaming functionality, so I can’t say much about it. They have a 30-day trial, if you are interested.)

Bandicam and a few other tools have a way to overlay your gameplay with your webcam, so you won’t have to sync up the footage later on, but I recommend not using these options and using your manufacturers recording software instead. Since most people have Logitech Webcams, this will probably be the Logitech Webcam Software. Other tools for recording your Webcam exist, but this one will do the job. If you want effects, you should add these later!

screenshot xsplitSo what do I use? I am sure a few friends of mine will now cringe… I use XSplit most of the time since I record a lot of series and I save a lot of time not having to render them again. Since I can apply an equalizer and compressor directly to my microphone feed, thanks to my new interface, I don’t need the audio tracks separated to apply effects. I should mention, as much as I like XSplit, it took me a lost of lost footage and frustration until I got myself conditioned to do test recordings for the audio levels. If your game audio is too loud or your microphone set up the wrong, there is pretty much nothing you can do about that. So if you go ahead and use one of these tools, make sure to test, test and test. Not having to use a separate software for streaming, is another bonus for me, since I now know my way around XSplit after over a year of use. I tried OBS for a while, but I am more than willing to pay the 5$ per month for this tool.

If I want higher quality footage and separate tracks for later editing, I will pick Bandicam – it works very well in most cases and its new version presents the settings very well, and it offers good value for the price. I heard good things about DXtory and Action! And the free tool LoiLo looks promising, I just haven’t used any of these myself, so I can’t comment on these.

So what should you use? I would advise against Xsplit for Beginners, not only because of the licensing costs but also because of the inability to edit your footage afterward. Editing something I recommend to beginners – it will take longer, but it will improve your content if you take the time to watch and edit your recordings again. XSplit will give you a finished video that you can upload directly to YouTube without editing it, but unless you do series where you don’t intend to cut anything, it will severely limit your ability to improve your footage after recording in post-production. If you plan to stream, I would recommend checking out OBS first, and if you are happy with it, you can save a few bucks per month – your viewer won’t be able to tell what kind of software you are using, and they both work flawlessly.

I hope I could give you some ideas about recording your gameplay footage and let me know if you have any other questions!

If you want some more information & comparisons on video game recording software, it might be worth checking out these links:

What software do you guys use and why do you prefer it over other tools?

Gamify your tasks?

This blog post was supposed to be online yesterday, but the internet gods decided to punish my excessive browsing of cat pictures and video games instead of acquiring knowledge on the web.

I figured I would talk about the tool, which has helped me to keep my focus in the last few days. I am getting more things done, and I feel more accomplished at the end of the day – subsequently, it boosts my mood and my output. I don’t know what you call the opposite of a downward spiral in a figurative sense, but I will just go with an upwards spiral.

HabitRPG is the website that tries to gamify your life by representing you as a character on its glorious quest to defeat monsters, level up and do what you do in other RPG games. Customization and guilds included. Instead of actual fighting, you tackle tasks or daily habits!

I have always been intrigued by an idea like that, but have no encountered a version of that concept that could keep me engaged more than a few hours. The app looked excellent and well designed with beautiful graphics, but was lacking when it came to functionality.

Habit RPG does a great job with offering useful features, without providing too many ways to plan too much about every aspect of your task. The concept is simple: You create tasks, habits and daily activities that you want to accomplish and for every finished task, you get XP, Gold and every once in a while an item. Gold can be used to buy better equipment (or yourself a reward). And it does this well without focusing too much on some pseudo-gameplay or incredibly fancy graphics – because, in the end, you use this tool to get things done.

HabitRPG is free to use but offers a subscription service, that provides an otherwise unobtainable in-game currency, removal of the ads and some other benefits like certain drops. It’s a great way to support the development since it will give you a few extras to customize your little pixel avatar.

If you are working in a team, you can tackle group tasks together and “fight” monsters in unison by completing your team’s tasks. I had no chance to try this, but I could imagine that it can be fun. If you like the idea of accomplishing tasks with like-minded people, the guild system might win you over. You can join a guild that will not only offer contact to like-minded people through the tavern chat but also offer you challenges to complete and potentially inspire you to a healthier lifestyle or any other goal you might want to accomplish.

HabitRPG has mobile support through apps and even if they are not incredibly fancy, they will do the trick and keep your tasks and habits updated on the go.

If this sounds like something that might help you to keep organized and motivated, I would highly suggest just testing it and follow the steps outlined in the ‘tutorial’ at the beginning. To Glory!