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Review: The Lurking Horror

The Lurking HorrorThe Lurking Horror is an H. P. Lovecraft inspired text adventure game by Dave Lebling, the author of Zork. Published by Infocom in 1987, it’s a spooky text-based look at college life. This is a no-spoiler review of the Amiga version.

The game begins with the player confined to an almost eerily empty campus encased by a brutal snowstorm. After rushing to a computer lab to complete an assignment due the next day, you receive help from a frazzled computer expert who partially guides your actions.

The college campus is a fun space to explore and the puzzles are intuitively easy. The game comes with useful feelies that include a map and student id. Background music uplifts the story during action scenes.

Controls are immersive but frustrating. Early on I had to look through spoilers to determine how to interact with a microwave using terms the game could recognize. Navigation is also problematic. It’s not always obvious where entrances and exits are even after close examination of a room or area.

Despite the controls, I enjoyed the sparse characters that inhabited the creepy and desolate campus. Their movement patterns and behavior reminded me of Oblivion, sans graphics. I was even chased outside by one until I ended up in the snow (the character patiently waited for me to freeze to death at the campus entrance).

The Lurking Horror doesn’t include much lurking or horror, but I enjoyed the Amiga version of the game. The brief reminder of wandering around campus during my own college days more than made up for it.

Passed the Zend Framework v1 Certification Exam

On Saturday, April 12th, 2014, I passed the Zend Framework v1 certification exam. This is a legacy test sourced from version 1.5 of the Zend framework.

The Zend’s framework exam is a difficult test to study for because, despite its age (and unlike Zend’s PHP language certification), there isn’t as much study material available. I found Zend’s official study guide to be the most helpful along with reading through the 1.5 edition of the manual.

I used the following documents to study for the exam:

The Zend Framework is quite large and I went into the exam feeling like I could use an extra week of study. I also felt like a historian while reviewing the APIs of services from companies now out of business. Despite this legacy aspect, I’m appreciative that Zend is still offering this test and I’m happy to have taken it.

My next certification will be for Magento Developer Plus, an e-commerce platform that uses Zend Framework v1 for part of its core. I’m glad I invested my time into the framework exam because I believe it will help me learn Magento development more quickly.

I’m a Zend Certified PHP Engineer

Zend Certified PHP Engineer

I’m happy to report that, in March, I became an official Zend Certified PHP Engineer after passing Zend’s new PHP 5.5 exam. This is the first of a couple Zend certifications I hope to complete this year. I’m also looking forward to taking the Zend Framework version one exam in mid-April. It’s a bit retrospective for me, but as someone who works on legacy systems I’m glad the old framework exam is still being offered.

Zend also emailed me a perpetual license for Zend Studio four days after I passed the exam. I’m very grateful for this as it helped to justify the cost of the test and also, I genuinely need a new comprehensive IDE for PHP development. I might follow up with another blog post when I’ve had some time to dig into it.

MySQL 5.6 Developer Certification

Oracle MySQL 5.6 Developer LogoThis weekend I received word from Oracle that I passed the MySQL 5.6 developer certification exam I took in December. I am now officially an “Oracle Certified Professional, MySQL 5.6 Developer”. Hurray! Achievement unlocked!

I ended up not having time to do the 5.6 DBA exam prior to going on vacation last year,  so I’m looking forward to taking it within the next few months. It will be interesting to see what Oracle’s finished and out-of-beta exams look like.

Long Live the Queen

Long Live the QueenLong Live the Queen is Hanako Games’s latest video game production in the graphic novel simulation genre. Released in June 2012, it cleared Steam Greenlight in November 2013. Despite the increased attention and popularity, it sadly wasn’t enough for the game to be shortlisted for the 2013 IGF awards.

The game lets you play as the character Elodie, whose mother has died one year before she is eligible for coronation. Elodie’s mission is to train to become a queen while running the kingdom. The game’s roguelike mechanics present scenarios with political intrigue, politics, assassination attempts, and military invasions.

Each week Elodie selects classes and completes an action such as asking her father for advice or visiting the treasury or dungeons. Long Live the Queen is stats focused and the learning curve involves understanding how the information relates to the storyline. It’s not always obvious what options are available or how much further Elodie needs to train to conquer obstacles.

The gorgeous anime graphics are very much an acquired taste. I found the overdone pink princess theme enjoyable after my second or third playthrough.

The depth is not apparent at first, but each attempt at the throne took approximately two days. After several untimely deaths, I eventually finished the game after playing every day for about a week. The replay value is enormous, and there are at least three or more character builds that can win the game.

Long Live the Queen is a highly entertaining beautiful and deadly roguelike princess simulation. Hanako Game’s exciting and cute take on Game of Thrones is worth it.

Source: Purchased on Steam.

Victory Log: Long Live the Queen (Spoilers)

I finally conquered Long Live the Queen, a princess training simulator by Hanako Games and Spiky Caterpillar. The game records a log of your choices and the results of each turn. I’ve posted mine below the cut.

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#AGDQ2014 is Blowing My Mind

The Awesome Games Done Quick 2014 livestreaming project for cancer research is almost at a close. And it’s so well done and so skillful it’s blowing my mind — a rather significant amount of my week was consumed watching these speedruns live.

Here are my favorite moments:

  • Metroid Prime 4-runner speed race. I didn’t know it was possible to play as these runners did. They levitated up walls.
  • Minecraft speed run that set a new world record. As a bonus, the runner died at the end but his body went back through the portal and that was enough to finish with credits!
  • Finding out the reason for the Spanish language choice in Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD was due to decreased dialogue prompts for extra cycles / seconds in the runs. That’s hardcore.

I’m also told there was a one life original Contra run and a few other spots that were amazing too (actually the whole thing really is tops). Each run is archived so eventually I’m going to casually watch the rest of the runs I missed.

The real question for me is if there any games I’m so good at, so skilled at, that I could speedrun? And are there any that I would want to train on? Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest could qualify. I’ll have to think on it.

My First Livestream: Super Hexagon

Here’s a video from my first successful livestream on I beat the first level of Super Hexagon! And died a short time later.

Watch live video from KateKligman on TwitchTV

A Year of Amiga

January begins the Year of Amiga I’m undertaking throughout 2014. I’m starting with the very basics including emulator exploration and catching up on the early and later years of the platform.

Amiga Emulators (Windows)

  1. WinUAE
  2. WinFellow

I enjoyed fast success with WinUAE after supplying it with rom images. WinUAE has a nice configuration setup and the UI was fairly self-explanatory considering the program’s large  feature set. I’ve decided to try both emulators by alternating them through the first few games.

But what to play? And more importantly, what to play first? I discovered that — the Internet Archive — has back issues of all of the major English language Amiga magazines!

I remember reading Amiga World, but looking through the magazines there’s over a decade of coverage to explore. Most notably Amiga Format, which started later than the others but ran until the year 2000! That’s…not that long ago. Really.

I plan to spend the next couple weeks putting together a schedule of Amiga games and maybe an application or two to play this year. There’s so much good stuff for the Amiga and I think that’s the only way I’ll get through it.