A geeky confession

OK, here it is: I really dig computer puzzle games with fantasy themes.

Several years ago I tried “Myst” and became became hooked on the whole series of games. I am proud to say I completed Myst 1-4 (yes, I consulted cheats a few times), but didn’t mess with Uru, and haven’t yet convinced myself to buy “End of Ages” (since I know it will take up three or four months of my attention, which I can’t spare just now).  In Myst, you travel through fantastic scenes like this one

and travel around, looking for clues here and there, picking up random objects, discovering scraps of paper with codes on them, unlocking gadgets, finding hidden doors, repairing electrical circuits, and so on. In the end you liberate somebody, or whatever, who cares; the story line is just an excuse for the kinds of puzzles pointy-headed geeks like myself really thrive on. My love for these puzzles might be something like the fascination I have for philosophical problems, but the added kick is that these puzzles actually get solved, or you know it when they are solved, and you move on. That, sad to say, is my fantasy: solvable problems. (Actually, I’m more inclined to think causality worked the other way in my case, and my love for these sorts of puzzles got me into philosophy, and I can’t find a decent “cheat” page to get me out of it.)

Recently the kids and I discovered a really cunning puzzle-fantasy game called Machinarium. It looks like this:

We ripped through it in under a week, so it’s relatively short as these games go, but well worth it. The artwork is like the best found in illustrated novels, the animation is clever and funny, and the puzzles are reasonably difficult. I recommend it, if you look into the mirror and see a pointy head.

OK, now back to Spinoza …..

About Huenemann

Curious about the ways humans use their minds and hearts to distract themselves from the meaninglessness of life.
This entry was posted in Machines / gadgets / technology / games, This & that in the life of CH. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to A geeky confession

  1. Richard Greene says:

    As long as we are confessing these things……

    If I didn’t occasionally have to teach or write or mow the lawn, etc., I would spend at least 40 hours every week playing Legend of Zelda games.

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  2. Huenemann says:

    Zelda has been recommended to me. Maybe that will be next!

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  3. Nancy says:

    prof huenemann-

    when i was a kid, my all-time favorite computer game was one called Heaven and Earth, and it was all puzzles. i played it for HOURS every day, and honestly, i credit it for a lot of my really good small motor control, lol. it’s pretty old school, but you can find it online and download a workable version- i highly recommend it.
    also, i’ve just recently been watching kyle play a game called Braid, which is an AMAZING fantasy puzzle game, much newer. it’s really a trip, and has beautiful animation. you must *absolutely* get your hands on it. it’s stunning. 🙂

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  4. jerry says:

    I have really missed seeing updates for Fun with Jerry. Should we look forward to seeing more?????

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  5. Huenemann says:

    Yes, I need some updates there.

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  6. Kyle says:

    I just finished Machinarium recently as well, and I loved it! As is generally the case with these sorts of games, I had to look at an online walkthrough a few times, but I still think it’s fun putting puzzles together even when you have to look at directions. 😉 Besides, now that I know how the game goes, next time I play it, I can probably do it all on my own!

    Anyway, here’s a link to the game Nancy mentioned, Braid. It’s quite good, and I think you’d like it. It’s sort of a puzzle-platformer, where the main mechanic that all the puzzles are based on is various sorts of time manipulation.

    I could probably recommend other games you might be interested in, if you want. 😉

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  7. Huenemann says:

    Kyle and Nancy, you’re forcing me to reveal more of my embarrassing exploits. A few weeks ago we purchased Plants vs. Zombies, and the game took over our house like an errant virus. No puzzles, just arcade action, but addictively silly. Then, in search for new games, I found the “Indie” section on Steam: we bought “Max and the Magic Marker” and will inevitably buy “The misadventures of P. B. Winterbottom”. I’ve taken at peek at Braid” and that looks like a lot of fun, too. Thanks for the recommends!

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  8. Joe says:

    I highly recommend “World of Goo”. It’s a physics based puzzle game where you are sheparding goo balls to safety. Quirky story and great music. I’m playing the downloadable Wii version but there is a PC/Mac version as well – it looks like Steam carries it.

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  9. Huenemann says:

    Very funny that you recommended “Goo,” Joe — Jeannine was hooked on it for a while. Not my style, though.

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  10. Kyle says:

    I tried a demo of Plants vs. Zombies. I thought it was pretty entertaining, but not really my thing. I haven’t heard of “Max and the Magic Marker” or “The Misadventures of P. B. Winterbottom”, though; I’ll have to check them out!

    I’ve got a couple more links for you. First, a giant database of indie games, many of which are free: http://db.tigsource.com/ .

    And second, a game I found on that database, called Manufactoria: http://www.kongregate.com/games/PleasingFungus/manufactoria/ . Really interesting game. The idea is pretty simple – you build logic-based machines to test the programming of robots. The programming consists of a series of red and blue dots (and later, yellow and green), which get read by your machine one dot at a time. You have to accomplish tasks like “Accept any robot who’s programming begins with a blue dot”, “take the input and insert a yellow dot into the middle of the (even-length) string”, “reading the input string as a binary number where blue is 1 and red is 0, add 1 to the string”, etc. You have to build these machines using conveyor belts, switches to read the color of the dot (i.e. blue goes to the left, red goes to the right), and writers to write a dot of a given color.

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