Tag Archives: Video Games

Google’s First Coding #GoogleDoodle


Image result for Google Doodle

Image result for Google Doodle

Image result for Google Doodle

Google provides some nifty ideas for web design.  Their logo, which has been transformed to what’s known as a Doodle, turns into an interactive feature during a certain event.  Some Doodles have a game that users can play while others feature a small video about the person featured.  Whatever the case may be, there’s always some special event worth highlighting.

Image result for Google Doodle

Image result for Google Doodle

It isn’t just the traditional holidays that are featured; other events that Google points out are birthdays, anniversaries of historic events, and other special occasions.  There’s always something special going on and you can count on the popular search engine to give you the latest updates.  Today’s unique Google Doodle celebrates 50 years of kids coding language with an entertaining game featuring six-leveled quests.

Image result for Coding for Carrots

Image result for Coding for Carrots

‘Coding for Carrots’ is the first ever coding doodle where players guide a cute bunny around six challenging levels.  You must select each movement, dropping directions for where the bunny will move next.  The later stages introduce loops and the players collect medals for discovering the shortest solution for each puzzle.  Players must collect all of the carrots to make it to the next round.

Image result for Google Blockly

Image result for Google Doodle

Image result for MIT Scratch

The game was designed by combination of three teams: Google Blockly team, the Google Doodle team, and researchers from MIT Scratch.  It was created for Computer Science Education Week to celebrate 50 years since kids programming languages were first introduced (since 1967).  While the game may be short in nature, it was intended to celebrate a half-century milestone in computer coding.

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Image result for Mobile App Coding

Coding has been around for decades (even before video games!) and continues to be a popular tool for creating computer software, websites, and even apps.  The progressive shift towards a flourishing mobile market has made coding much more relevant these days.  Kids are utilizing codes to create an app that has games, music, social media, news, weather, or another entertaining feature.  Fifty years later and kids are still excited about computer programming.

Image result for Mobile App Coding

Image result for Mobile App Coding

This was a really cool idea from Google!  I’ve tried my hands at coding, but I wasn’t too crazy about the long process (I’ll just stick to playing on the computer rather than computer programming!).  Coding requires lots of work, but the hard work pays off once your creation works perfectly.

Image result for Lines of Code

Image result for Lines of Code

We’ve come a long way with coding since 1967 and our new designs are more incredible than ever.  Every year we’re blown away by the huge amount of creativity oozing through those codes.  Sure, it may seem like just lines of letters and numbers; but hidden beneath those lines contains something truly extraordinary.  There’s a pot of gold waiting at the end of the long, windy code line.  Once you reach the final end point – the REAL end point when the whole code works – the program works and you got yourself a truly unique product for the digital market.

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It’s interests like coding that people can create something BEYOND the typical design.  Designers have done beautiful things with the coding language and they continue to push the boundaries of the technological realm.

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What does the future hold for coding?  We’ll have to sit and wait to see what gold coders find in their computer program.

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No Frames, No Boundaries – Schweickart’s Passage


Image result for The Witness Audio Log

Image result for The Witness Audio Log

I don’t have any more of my favorite audio logs from The Witness, but some of these audio logs still stick with me to this day.  There’s something about these unique logs that go deeper than what the game presents to you.  It is then that The Witness becomes not just a challenging and complex puzzle game, but rather a deeper insight into the perplexities of life.  Whether the topic is on religion or science, each audio logs causes you to ponder differently about what you are experiencing within the game.  One of my favorite audio logs involves a long quote from a man named Russell Schweickart.

Image result for The Witness Audio Log

One of my favorite audio log features a long story from Russell Schweickart.  The passage is much too long, so you can refer back to the audio log here.  But rather than repeat the long and extraordinary passage, it’s time to discuss the origins of it.

Image result for russell schweickart 1975

Image result for russell schweickart 1975

Russell Schweickart is a former NASA astronaut who was born on October 25th, 1935.  The audio log comes from Schweickart’s article titled ‘No Frames, No Boundaries’, which is the same title for the audio long from The Witness.  Schweickart’s published article provides a deeper explanation for how incredibly beautiful the earth is from the outside.  He spoke these words in the summer of 1974 in front of a bunch of scholars in Long Island.

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Image result for Earth from Space

Image result for Earth from Space

Here’s the basis of the story – Schweickart provides references to amazing destinations on the earth (Houston, the Astrodome, the invisible line separating groups within the Middle East) as evidence of how small the earth really is.  We familiarize ourselves with these destinations because we’ve known about them for so long.  After providing some infamous references, he brings us out of the earth and into space.  This is where he pulls us into a deeper connection with our planet.  His imagery of covering the blue and white thing with your thumb goes into detail of how every little thing that matters to us is right on that blue and white thing.  Poetry, joy, food, water, anger, love, history, games, and so much more lies within the blue and white ball covered by a thumb.

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Schweickart’s passage is incredibly insightful, providing a bigger picture of how small we really are on this ever-changing planet.  Even after playing through The Witness a few times, I keep coming back to this philosophical passage every now and then.  Listening to the audio log a few times really gave me a deeper perspective of Earth.

Image result for Earth from Space

Image result for Earth from Space

Think about this for a minute – we are sitting in a flying rock floating in space.  Earth is traveling 25,000 mph and ripping through space like a vacuum, yet there is NO sound whatsoever.  Sure, I may be just another human being writing in the Boston Public Library; but things get really mind-blowing when we think of how small we truly are in this changing planet.  Seeing pictures of our earth from space is one thing, but being out there – within the dark abyss of space – is a whole other journey itself.  When you have no frames or boundaries, you are experiencing the event as a whole.  This is when you have that goldfish bowl and you have no limits to what you are observing at this very moment.

Image result for Earth from Space

Image result for Earth from Space

No frames, no boundaries – the ultimate escape of viewing this spectacular moment as whole.  It’s not enough to look through space pictures and see how vast our universe really is.  Getting yourself out of that blue and white thing in space really puts things in perspective.  Everything that means ANYTHING to you lies within that planet called Earth.

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The craziest part about this moment?  It’s not just your experience or mine.  This moment is for EVERYONE.  Every living species on this earth realizes that they are just a small spectrum to this complex and ever-changing phenomenon called Life.

Image result for Earth from Space

Image result for Earth from Space

Russell Schweickart’s poetic passage summarizes the deep philosophy of what it means to be truly out there without any frames or boundaries.  This kind of perspective made me realize how truly small I as an individual on this floating rock that is flying 25,000 mph in space.  And yet, while ripping through space each day, society continues to advance forward around the world.

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It’s not just my experience or yours to keep.  In reality, it’s EVERYONE’S experience here on Earth.

MICE 2017!


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Happy Monday everyone!  Hope you all had another fantastic weekend.  Things have been VERY spooky around here since Halloween is coming up (just EIGHT more days!).  They just kicked things up a notch during the last episode of AHS, which I will discuss later this week!

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For now, I’ve been still reeling in from another fun Sunday.  Yesterday I attended the Massachusetts Comics Expo (MICE) over in Cambridge at Lesly University.  I attended the event last year (which you can read about that past adventure here) and wanted to go back again because it was so much fun.

Upon entering the building, I received my sticker and headed up to the 2nd floor.  I roamed around the crowded hallways, glancing around at the vast amount of amazing artwork around me.  Comics, posters, flyers, stickers, and even the business cards looked absolutely outstanding.  As an artist within the writer community, I was in awe of the magnificent comics the comic book artists made.  The graphics as well as the storylines themselves really captured my attention to some of the interesting comics.

Here were some of the highlights from yesterday’s MICE event:

The Legend of Gay Zelda

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One interesting thing I noticed around the comic event was the LGBTQ theme popping up around some story lines.  Many comic series featured characters that were gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, queer, non-binary, and so on.  There were comics that featured heterosexual characters, but it was the diverse comics that really turned my head.  A real head-turner for me was this comic called The Legend of Gay Zelda.

The Legend of Gay Zelda is an adorable fanzine featuring love between two gay video game characters.  It presents an intriguing parallel universe within The Legend of Zelda universe.  I’m not the biggest fan of The Legend of Zelda, but I loved the overall concept of a gay Zelda series.  There are no limits when it comes to comics (especially independent comics), so this was one of many series that pushed the boundaries of comic book storytelling.

The Unquotable Trump

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Another interesting comic I spotted was one called The Unquotable Trump by Robert Sikoryak.  I’ve heard plenty of jokes about President Donald Trump since he was elected and this comic was chock full of them.  Sikoryak takes traditional comic styles from various pop culture references and adds Donald Trump into the mix.  Comic series like Batman, Archie and Friends, Ritchie Rich, and Garfield were some of many famous references played out in the book.  No reference was safe from the invasion of Donald Trump!

Purchased Comic – What Happened to John Crowley?

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This year I picked up some really interesting comics I found.  While heading through this corner table, I spotted an interesting series titled What Happened to John Crowley?.  I talked with author Ian Richardson not just about the comic, but about video games like The Witness and how amazingly challenging it was.  He discussed with me about the comic is a non-linear crime story about what happened to John Crowley in Rut’s Hollow.

I went home later to read through the series.  It was dark, shocking, confusing, and even downright disturbing.  This non-linear story about John Crowley kept me glued in for more.  Reading through the letters (which seemed like clues in the story) were the only way of understanding John Crowley’s demise.

It was definitely a shocking and weird story.  Even though I left the story confused as ever, I really enjoyed the graphic content within the storyline.  It was a dark and twisted tale that had me really wanting to understand who this John Crowley guy was.

Props to Ian Richardson for this fantastic story!

Purchased Comic – The Comic Book Story of Video Games

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My other purchased comic over at MICE was called The Comic Book Story of Video Games by Jonathan Hennessey and Jack McGowan.  I got to speak with Jack McGowan, who was really passionate about the video game industry.  He loves the industry so much that he compiled lots of research into pinpointing its true history.

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While I haven’t read the comic yet, I will definitely read it during my train rides to Boston.  I truly love video games and I will definitely enjoy reading through this animated story about its rooted history.

That’s it for my awesome adventure over at MICE.  It was certainly a lot of fun and I really enjoy seeing another artists’ work.  Here’s to the art community creating a better world each day!

Philosophical Boat Trip From The Witness


Image result for The Witness

Image result for The Witness

While I haven’t been playing the latest video games lately (especially on the busiest days!), I keep coming back to The Witness every once in a while.  Ever since I started writing the MakeSandcastlesNotWar blog, I couldn’t get enough of Jonathan Blow’s latest puzzle adventure game.  I don’t know where to start with what drew me into the game – the breathtaking world you wonder around, loads of puzzles that grow challenging each way, or the philosophical discussions from the various audio logs.

Image result for The Witness

Image result for The Witness

This was truly a game where I stepped back and really took in the gaming atmosphere for a while.  There are no enemies or ‘game over’ features when failing a puzzle because it’s not really what the game is all about.  The Witness challenges you to comprehend its lessons not on the game itself, but rather about life itself that you discover within the game.

Image result for The Witness Audio Logs

Image result for The Witness Audio Logs

Wandering around the island, you’ll notice some rectangular shaped audio logs.  Each audio log plays a different quote read by a voice actor/actress.  Some discussions revolve around religion while other nitpick on things like color or sound.  I loved discovering these audio logs so much that I created a series titled ‘Favorite Audio Logs From The Witness’, which you can start reading here.

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Now it’s time I get even DEEPER into these audio logs.  There was one log that really stood out to me for a while.  When you rowing through the ocean on the boat, you pass by a shipwrecked boat across from the mountain area.  Playing the audio logs will give you this:

Suppose a boat is crossing a river, and another empty boat is about to collide with it.  Even an irritable man would not lose his temper.  But supposing there was someone in the second boat.  Then the occupant of the first would shout to him to keep clear.  And if the other did not hear the first time, nor even when called three times, bad language would inevitably follow.  In the first case there was no anger, in the second there was; because in the first case the boat was empty, and in the second it was occupied.  And so it is with man.  If he could only roam empty through life, who would be able to injure him?

~ Zhuangzi, 4th century B.C.

Wow…just…it seems like NO words can describe this beautifully philosophical lesson here.  What does this hidden log mean?  Man losing temper over the occupant?  And could this so-called ‘man’ actually roam empty through life?

There’s a LOT of pieces that should be discussed within the story.  In order to dig deep into Zhuangzi’s lesson about the irritable man, let’s break this story up a bit.  We’ll start with the boat crossing through the river.

Suppose a boat is crossing a river, and another empty boat is about to collide with it.  Even an irritable man would not lose his temper.

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So the boat is crossing through the river and there was another empty boat nearby.  The two boats were about to collide, yet the man won’t become irritable.  Man doesn’t have as much noise distracting him from his simple dilemma (which was prevent his boat from colliding with the empty boat).

Image result for Calm River

            But supposing there was someone in the second boat.  Then the occupant of the first would shout to him to keep clear.

            Our symbolic tale introduces a new twist – another man was in that second boat.  That calm man has now become irritable because something else was added to his personal conundrum.  He must now shout to the occupant to keep him clear of his path.

Image result for Calm River

And if the other did not hear the first time, nor even when called three times, bad language would inevitably follow. 

            Here’s the ‘cause-and-effect’ part that is introduced to our scenario.  Since the other occupant did not hear the first time (nor even after three times), the bad language would follow.  Not so much bad in the language, but rather the communication happening between the men.  Bad language, or bad communication for that matter, would follow since the dilemma became more challenging.

Image result for Calm River

In the first case there was no anger, in the second there was; because in the first case the boat was empty, and in the second it was occupied.

            We’re near the end where the story starts wrapping up as an abridged version of our tale.  There was NO anger in the first case, yet in the second there WAS.  Where does the anger stem from? The boat being occupied.  The man was calm when the boat was empty, yet he started getting irritated when his problem got worse.

Image result for Calm River

            And so it is with man.  If he could only roam empty through life, who would be able to injure him?

Right up to the end of the story and BAM!  We’re left with an open-ended question that leaves the story hanging.  Rather than figure out if the man avoided the other occupant, we’re left digging deeper down the rabbit hole.  There is no simple ending because now there’s the idea of man roaming empty through life.

Image result for Calm River

Man roaming empty through life – think about this line for a second.  The boat dilemma casts as a metaphor for man’s two biggest battles in life: Man vs. Nature & Man vs. Man.  Man faced an obstacle hidden within nature, yet the obstacle got complicated when there was another man to deal with.  It’s not so much about the battle being VIOLENT, but rather battling for SURVIVAL.

Image result for Calm River

Just like the first man dealing with the occupant in the second boat, we deal with complex problems every day.  What makes things crazier (yet disturbingly exciting!) is that these problems get piled on with MORE added problems.  It’s problems adding onto MORE problems that were there before.

Image result for Calm River

Let’s face it – these problems are never going to just eradicate into thin air.  Think about this for a minute: if you WERE to roam empty through life, who would be able to injure you?  Who? If no one were to injure you, would your chances of survival increase?

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Notice that I’m asking WHO would injure you in life rather than the WHAT.  If no one were to injure you, then man’s only true battle would be with just Nature.  Yet there’s another dilemma getting in the way, which is – get ready for it – MAN’S BATTLE WITH MAN.  Oh wait, there’s ANOTHER element added to the life: battle among SELF.  Three ongoing battles (Man, Self, Nature), one complicated and twisted life – it’s enough condensed philosophy to make your head spin.

Image result for The Witness

Image result for The Witness

I hope you’ve been paying attention because I’ve dug so deep into this hole that there’s nowhere else to go down.  One game featuring an audio log showcasing a simple story drawing from three philosophical battles.  That right there is The Witness going deeper than just being a video game.

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Alas, an inspirational passage has been successfully discussed.  That was just one of many enlightening audio logs from The Witness.  Who knows what other inspiring passages will be discussed next.

Until then, just know that they’ll always be an occupant within that second boat!

 

Dystifyzer’s Live 24/7 Nintendo Stream


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Image result for Dustin Tebbutt Music

Whenever I create these amazing posts for MakeSandcastlesNotWar, I gotta have some fantastic music blasting.  Blasting some music gives me that creative energy surging through me during my writing.  Whether it’s the soulful jazz music from Weather Report or an adventurous folk-indie album that puts me into a mysterious new world, having that music blasting gave wonders to what has become the MakeSandcastlesNotWar blog.  A new topic, or a new path rather, places readers into the exciting journey today (and in most cases, stories that foreshadow another major event in the future!).

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Rather than dig deep into how to harvest that creative energy into writing ideas (those stories will be unlocked at a later time!), it’s time to dive into the music on YouTube.  YouTube has tons of albums up and are absolutely FREE to play.  Rock, jazz, metal, country, blues, and even ambiance music are easy to discover on this social media site.  As someone who loves video game music every now and then, I enjoy the video game playlists that are around.

Image result for youtube Video Game Music

Image result for youtube Video Game Music

Image result for youtube Nintendo Mix

I’ve stumbled onto some crazy music playlists that introduced me to some original video games I didn’t get into as a kid.  Nintendo was always my favorite video game brand and I always choose to play their games every year.  Their games were so much fun, but it was also their nostalgic music that really tugged at my heartstrings.  It’s always cool running into music playlists catered only to the Nintendo series.  Discovering Nintendo music playlists was awesome, but then I found a video showcasing a live streaming service STRICTLY for Nintendo music!

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A 24/7 live streaming service featuring Nintendo music ACTUALLY exists on YouTube!  YouTube user Dystifyzer started streaming on August 23rd and has been streaming tracks from the Nintendo series.  Various users can listen in and chat with others about their favorite songs.  Dystifyzer’s unique channel has favored well with the audience and has been subscribed by over 16,000 users.

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The unique aspect of Dystifyzer’s live stream is the interactivity happening between the users.  Users can simply chat with others, request for songs to be played, ask for rupees (which can be cashed in for things like donating for new album drops!), and even hold mini marathons themselves.  There are over 10,000 tracks from hundreds of games to choose from. You can complete these commands by entering key codes into the chat using the exclamation point.  Typing !rupees will provide the users rupees based on the number of hours they have watch.  If you want to request a song, simply type !songrequest and choose the song from which game it came from.  The more hours you watched, the more rupees you will have to use.

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Users can also rank up by watching the stream service more often.  As you rank higher up, more features will be unlocked to use.  Some awesome features include holding a mini marathon based on your picks or purchasing new album for the stream.  Ranking up is one of those interesting interactive features that provide users more than just free music (did I happen to mention that it’s also COMMERCIAL-FREE as well?).

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With that, Dystifyzer’s live Nintendo stream is definitely worth checking out.  Dystifyzer combined users’ love of nostalgic Nintendo games with a chatroom full of interactive features.  It’s a great stream to kick back with some awesome music from Nintendo and talk amongst others about your favorite games.

Image result for youtube Music Playlist

Image result for Youtube Live Stream

This is the kind of unique idea that pushes the boundaries of what YouTube can offer for its users.  Providing users the ability to share music albums around with other listeners is one thing, but creating a live stream service based on a unique theme is a whole other ballgame.  Its users like Dystifyzer that help build upon YouTube’s social community.

Image result for Youtube Video Game Service

Image result for Youtube Video Game Service

Thanks to Dystifyzer, we now have a unique interactive live streaming service featuring some of the most timeless music from Nintendo series.  Hopefully other users will branch out from his unique idea and provide other video game streaming services (like for Sony or other video game brands!).

If you’re looking for an easy playlist, check out Dystifyzer’s 24/7 Nintendo Music Live Stream on Youtube!