Saturday 28 March 2015

Video Game Music: Terraria

It feels like it's been an eternity since I have reviewed a board game, but I have just been too busy at work (in a very good way). My aim in the near future is to get out at least 1 or 2 reviews per month.

In the meantime, this allows me to catch up on my video game music lists, which have been left severely wanting. They are much easier to do.

I've decided to cover Terraria although I have not quite finished the game.

Terraria is an excellent game which has plenty of depth and scope for adventure and creativity. The music is fantastic too. I like the cartoon graphics as well.

Credit goes to Scott Lloyd Shelly of Resonance Array for this wonderful piece of work. At the time of writing, the soundtrack is FREE if you purchase the game off GOG here.

Short descriptions of each track feature, as, again, I am not in the mood to do too much typing on a Saturday morning.

Ranked List 

1) Mushroom Biome: The eccentric, funky and almost delirious music sends chills down my spine because it is so good and hits that level of weirdness that I find very amusing. I wonder if the word mushroom has anything to do with it.... This music plays when the player explores those underground caverns with glowing blue mushrooms.

2) Jungle Biome: A rather mysterious yet, somehow, almost-too-relaxed melody is the centrefold of this piece. The steady beat throughout the piece coupled with what appears to be some indigenous-like humming (or an instrument producing that effect) makes for great environment music for the jungle. It, at times, almost feels like one could be on a holiday in the tropics.

Jungle Biome at dawn

3) Space Biome: An incredibly techno and electronic piece, this theme encapsulates the excitement of adventuring up and beyond the clouds and into the stars as the player builds upwards.

4) Overworld Daytime: This happy chirpy music makes one feel relieved and, almost thankful, that it is daytime and the sun is out on the surface (because all Terraria players know what it is like when it is night time, and how it feels to come back to the surface after digging too deep!!!). There is also this triumphant feeling that there is so much out there to explore or to do. Arguably it's the most recognisable theme as it greets all players when they first come into the world.

5) Underground: The robotic, mechanical music adds this whole dimension of excitement for the player as they begin their first adventures underground, typically discovering new minerals and more powerful enemies than those encountered on the surface.

6) Ice Biome: The shimmering echoes within this piece, coupled with the frosty notes that almost reverberate give the impression that it is going to be one cold winter with no sign of relenting. There is an almost epic feel to this tune as well, and the change to the more sinister notes lets the player know that it is treacherous exploring this part of the world!

I reserve the right, of course, to keep adding to this list as I encounter more music :)


Andre Lim

Friday 20 March 2015

I feel sorry for Wahab

In my view, in a game like cricket where the results of a bowler can hinge so much on how well their fielding team mates perform, in the specific instance where a bowler fails to receive a wicket because a catch was droppedconsideration really ought to focus on whether the ball or spell itself deserved a wicket rather than whether the wicket was actually taken or not.

More specifically, I am talking about a situation such as what I've just witnessed tonight, where a bowler (ie. Wahab) bowls a magnificent spell, such as a 6 over delivery that puts tremendous pressure on the batsmen. Eventually, one batsman (Watson) succumbs to the onslaught and mishits the ball to a fielder...

...who drops the catch.

Now, although in this example Wahab did not actually get the wicket, for the purposes of determining who was the best bowler of the night, or who was the Man of the Match, the only fair approach, in my view, is to consider what would have happened had the "dropping" fielder been a competent fielder.

Otherwise it is simply not a fair comparison.

A bowler on another team, for example (Hazlewood), may have received more wickets than Wahab, but that other bowler just so happened to have fielders who did their job properly. That is a completely arbitrary measure. Why should Wahab be labelled as an inferior bowler to any of the Australian bowlers, when he himself did everything right to deserve his wickets, yet was left wanting by his team mates?

Had those catches been caught, Wahab would also have had four wickets. Further to that, Wahab was bowling under pressure when his team had not scored well. Arguably that is performance worthy of a top honour?

By the same token, if Hazlewood bowled the exact same wicket-worthy deliveries but his fielding team mates did NOT catch those balls, does that make Hazlewood a lesser bowler?

Of course not. 

All I am saying is that when comparing the quality of the bowlers, one should not merely look to the result (or number of wickets taken); if one is to be fair to all bowlers, careful consideration should be given to whether the wicket would have been taken had the fielders been competent. Only then will you be providing a fair assessment as to who was truly the better bowler of the night.

Thursday 12 March 2015

Beginner's "Guide" to Terraria (Created by a Beginner)

This is not really a guide - I know very little about the game. This is just a page that records what I know about the game that I believe is useful for someone who has never played before.

This was written specifically for Roy, who wanted to know more about the game and whose birthday was Wednesday 11 March.

This is a fantastic game. I will not spoil the spirit of adventure and exploration with revealing pictures. You should discover the game for yourself rather than rely on screenshots :)

Pictures are for instructive purposes only.

Game Concepts

0) You move with the WASD keys. W is up and so on. You can change this in the settings menu I believe.

You jump with the space bar.

1) Night time is always more dangerous - stay in your house or, even better, use this time to dig underground to make use of your time. More monsters appear at night on the surface.

2) Building a house normally requires:

- Table
- Chair
- Enclosed walls (not sure of minimum exact dimensions)
- Light source (a torch for example)
- Background walls made by the player (made out of wood, stone or dirt)
- Door

I have a feeling it is better to build your foundation on stone**, because I think, but am not sure, that Corrupted land can spread through dirt. What is corrupt land? You will find out yourself...

*UPDATEFor anyone who has played this game, this is clearly incorrect. Only wood is incorruptible. Stone is not!

3) To craft items, you need to use different equipment. This equipment can include workbenches, tables + chairs etc (they each make different things). Sometimes certain items can only be made if you combine two or more equipment (eg. to make a watch you need a table and a chair) (please see below)

4) To craft a torch, arguably one of the most valuable and useful objects in the game, you need wood and gel. (please see below)

Gel comes from killing slime creatures.

Wood comes from axing trees.

Item menu and commands

5) You start off with a sword, pickaxe and axe.

The sword is used to attack, and should be your strongest weapon. However you can also attack with the pickaxe and axe - sometimes it is actually better because the pickaxe, for example, sometimes swings faster.

The pickaxe is for mining.

The axe is for cutting trees.

6) To use an item or perform an action, left click your mouse. But you must select or choose the item first.

7) To choose an item, type the number in your keyboard. So if I wanted to use my torches, I would press 5 and then left-click to put the torch down.

8) If you want to put new items into your slots 1 to 0, press escape to open your inventory. Click on what you want and then click on where you want to move it to.

For example, in the above picture, I have clicked on the 10 copper bars and I am going to click on my 258 stone. This will mean that when I press 4 from now on, it will select the copper bars.

9) To give or drop an item, after selecting it with the number on your keyboard, right-click in the direction you want to drop it.

Equipping items and crafting

10) The escape menu opens up inventory, crafting menu and equipment menu all at the same time:

11) The crafting menu is on the bottom left. Click on the hammer to look at what you can craft. Click on what you want to craft and click it again on the left side as many times as you want to dictate the number of items you want.

What you can craft depends on the equipment (like table, chair or workbenches) you have. You must stand in front of the equipment for you to see the new items that can be made.

12) The bottom right side is the equipment menu. You can put items there on the right hand column. I believe the other columns change your appearance but I don't know yet - maybe the dye column changes the colour of your clothing :) [I don't know]

NPC and housing

13) NPCs visit when you achieve a certain goal. You need to keep them safe by building houses. (see above rule).

When you finish building the house, click on the house button above the equipment menu (above the word "equip"). Click on the ? and then the newly-built place to see if the housing is suitable. The game will tell you. You can assign NPCs to different houses.

Right click and then click on the house again to get back to the menu.

It is better I do not spoil the NPCs for you with pictures as it is fun if you discover it for yourself.

14) A house is not suitable, I think, if it is on corrupt or crimson land.


15) A huge part of the game involves mining. I won't spoil this for you by showing pictures - it is better you discover what it is for yourself.

16) The deeper you go, the harder the enemies get and the more valuable the items and minerals for crafting weapons or armour.


17) There are many bosses in this game. I have yet to encounter any but hopefully we can beat them together. They can be triggered upon the fulfilment of certain conditions.


18) You can manipulate the environment before you fight the bosses (or enemies  in general). Many people build "arenas" specifically for fighting bosses so that the fight is to their advantage. And you can even build things to make certain places more accessible.

To build areas select stone or dirt blocks and click on where you want to lay them. They usually need to connect to something existing already.

This is all you need to know for the time will discover everything else on your own.

Andre Lim

Monday 9 March 2015

Video Game Music: The Sims 2

This heartfelt soundtrack will remain in my thoughts for life :)

Amazingly, The Sims 2 soundtrack was also composed by Mark Mothersbaugh, who did the Crash Bandicoot series!!!! It just proves, in my view, how flexible and technically gifted Mothersbaugh is as this music here is quite different - as you'll see from my list below, the nature of the music is somewhat poignant (though, not completely) and moving, but there is still that aura of positive energy that was also found in the Crash Bandicoot series.

I'm not in the mood for long descriptions of each track so here goes.

Favourite Music (Ranked list)

1) Bare Bones: There is such a lovely touch of nostalgia and sentiment in this theme that (from memory) plays when you create your Sims. All their scope for potential, all the hopes and dreams of every human being and all of your heart's desires and needs are rolled up into this touching theme. To me, the simple melody also encapsulates the fragility of life and the uniqueness of every person. Every parent envisages and wants the best for their child, and the vibe of this melody incorporates that concept without having to express it verbally.

Taken from here: 

2) The Sims 2 Main Theme: This energetic, lively theme kicks in when you first go into the menu of Sims 2. It gives gamers a great kick and buzz high as players get ready to start their Sims adventure. I love it!!! The repetition of the main melody but with more subdued notes creates an atmosphere of sentiment (just like most of the others in this list), yet with a sweet and positive outlook.

3) Makeover: The calm rhythmic tones couples with the bongos (?) and heartfelt violin makes for a nice nostalgic theme. It is much like Bare Bones but this time the music is a lot more reserved and ambient in nature. I think it also plays in the character creation theme after Bare Bones but I am not sure, as it's been too long since I've played this game.

4) Sim (the?) Builder: When I hear this theme I think of someone who is somewhat energetic or enthusiastic and a steady and meticulous planner. The upbeat rhythm coupled with the light notes give the impression that everyone is busy, as if working on a project. However it isn't an intense or stressful "busyness"; rather the melody comes across as one where everyone is keen to get things going - as if they are working on something that they've been planning for a very long time.


Andre Lim

Saturday 7 March 2015

My heart goes out to Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe were utterly robbed I tell you, utterly robbed I say.

The third umpire failed to see that the Irish fieldsman had in fact "bounced off" the blue Pepsi (from memory) boundary when taking the catch, thus denying Zimbabwe a critical 6 runs and the cool veteran Williams.

Arghhhh the injustice.

Andre Lim

Friday 6 March 2015

Word on the Street

Apparently this game's ambition was to get word games (like Scrabble) back into popularity.

Sounds like a bold claim right?

Well, I am pleased to tell you that Word on the Street passes with flying colours.

Name: Word on the Street (2009)

Designer: Jack Degnan

Publisher: Out of the Box Publishing

Players: 2 to 8

Age: 12+

Time to play: 20 mins+

Price Range (AUD): $34 to $92

Availability: Available online and probably in a handful of local hobby stores.

  • Word 
  • Creativity
  • Party
  • Team games

Andre Lim's Rating and Brief Summary:

8.4+ out of 10. (Great, perhaps Excellent - See my Rating Scale)

Simple concepts are often the best concepts. This is not a new train of thought. Indeed, you will often find that overly-complex games are not necessarily good games (though, that does not mean that all complex games are bad of course).

Word on the Street is a great team game with a simple premise. Your team wants to capture 8 letters to your side of the street. How is this done? Well, a category card is flipped over - such as "Type of vegetable". You want to come up with words that fit that category (Carrot, Lettuce etc) ensuring the word contains the particular letters you want on your side. Words with lots of vowels will not do because vowels are not amongst the 17 letters on the board (26 less vowels less J, Q, X and Z - supposedly these are the more difficult letters??).

But the other team can drag those letters won by the first team back when it is their turn. Thus this creates some degree of tension and a tug-of-war; however this also creates interesting strategy choices: should you pursue letters that the other team has *almost* taken into its care or should you just focus on the uncaptured letters - or both? All routes are legitimate strategies and it makes for a fascinating battle.

The only dodgy thing about this game is the way in which disputes are resolved. So let's say you say something controversial - something not quite in a particular category. Then in that case, someone from the other team can challenge that word selection. This is a bad example but suppose someone says "Tomato" to the category "Type of vegetable".

The way this is resolved is that a majority of everyone playing must vote on whether that word rightfully belongs in that category (and clearly, assuming we are all competitive here, everyone on Team A is going to vote one way and everyone on Team B will vote another way - this is the problem: during the resolution of such challenges, you will rarely find an objective person who is willing to concede ground against their own team's cause).

Of course there is scope for discussion and debate as to why or why not a word should be accepted as part of that category, but due to the competitive nature of the game, it is very unlikely team members will concede ground against themselves. The example I have given above, however, may be an exception: I suspect most people will agree that Tomato is a fruit (Wikipedia even says berry?!) and NOT a vegetable (which begs the question, why did the team choose it?) - though some in the minority might try to raise the dodgy argument that it is the main ingredient in vegetable juice.

Perhaps you can resolve this issue of team biasness by having a person (preferably an impartial and logical person) who isn't playing in the game as an "umpire" or a "Court of Appeal" of sorts. Apart from this small mishap, Word on the Street is fantastic.

The Good:
  • Tense battle between two teams!
  • Challenging battles - though the topics may repeat themselves if you play the game 'too much', the words that you must come up with are likely going to be different every time as the letters you require to "bring over" to your side will change (see below rules).
  • Wide scope for creativity.
  • Easy rules to understand
  • You could perhaps play as many people as you like (subject to practical constraints - so long as you can fit them around the table).
  • Very difficult to fault.
  • Assuming everyone plays in good faith and is open-minded, you will find some interesting topical discussions and debates as to whether a word fits a category or not. A lawyer's game? Much like Scattergories.
The Bad:
  • The judging system, used to resolve disputes between the two teams where a team selects a controversial word that may or may not fit a topic, is a bit dodgy and on my view of the rules, requires good faith on the part of both teams (which is pretty rare really). Contrast this to Scattergories, where if you are playing with > 2 teams, this issue of lack of good faith is markedly reduced because there is room for some of the teams to form alliances (or there is possibly a greater feeling of "if you accept this word, I'll accept that word").
  • Might get quite challenging towards the end of the game, when less letter tiles are available for challenging.
  • Some of the categories are a cop out - arguably too easy - such as "A Boy's name". It is disappointing when the other team wins off an easy category!!!
What makes this game fun? 
The fact that you and your team have to come up with words containing particular letters for a certain category  (to tug as many letters as possible to your side of the street) makes this game quite interesting.

- This concludes the basic overview of the game.
If you are interested in reading about the components & rules to the game, please read on -

Rules & Components (Photos courtesy of my mum, Joanne)

Inside the box:

Split up into two preferably equal teams.

Each team will take up one side of this board, in which letter tiles are placed.

As I said before notice there are 17 letters on the board (26 less vowels less J, Q, X and Z).

Someone draws a card. We will draw a green card first, as it represents a supposedly easier topic.

As soon as the card is flipped, the 30-second timer is flipped too.

So the team must decide a word that fits that category. For example Chess and Tennis would be suitable words but Table Tennis is not allowed as we are only after single words.

There are some other grammar rules that I won't go into (especially ones that revolve around plural words).

But here, let's do Badminton. Letters must be moved ONE at a time and SPELLED OUT LOUD.

While this is happening the other team are allowed to distract you.

The team on the right starts by moving B and then D, spelling out the word one letter at a time:

"B  A  D...."

And then they continue along the path....

"M   I   N  T  O  N"

Thus the final product is as above, with the N moved twice to the right side.

All of this must be done before the 30-second timer runs out.

Then the other team gets their turn. We'll pick a harder topic (the blue cards) this time. [You wouldn't do this in the real game, as at the start you pick either the green or blue cards - unless you want to even the odds if one team is stronger than the other]

The left team opt for MOTORCYCLE and move the letters accordingly. Importantly, the T is moved back to the middle, negating the one-tile pull by the right team.

You can see how this becomes a tug of war. The selection of Motorcycle, while decent, is not necessarily great because it fails to drag back the N, B or D - but sometimes it is better for your team to focus on particular letters rather than getting caught up with trying to stop the other team.

Spelling Mistakes

Suppose the team spells motorcycle wrong. Let's say they spell it as MOTT.....

The M is moved once, back to the middle and the T is moved twice.

At any time, the other team may challenge a team's spelling of a word. If it is wrong, the team that spelt it wrong does not get to win the letters from when the spelling error occurred and onwards (in other words you only get all tiles moved before the error occurred).

Hence the team would only get the M moving up one tile to the left, back to the middle (as BADMINTON moved M once to the right).

And the T would be moved back once (not twice, because one of the T's is correct) because it was spelt wrong:

Word Selection Challenges:

Your team can challenge a word selection, rather than spelling, if you feel it does not meet a topic.

After arguments are heard, a majority of players from the WHOLE group (both teams) must decide whether the word is allowed or not. This, in practice, doesn't really work. You may need a third umpire to get a fair decision.

If you can somehow get the majority of players to agree that a word is not acceptable, the whole word is disallowed!! If there is a tie, the letters are set back to what they were before the word was spelt out, and a new card is selected.

First team to capture 8 letters to their side of the street wins.

Great game!!!