Gone Home

Gone Home is one of a new breed of games that doesn’t let the pressure to have ‘game-like’ elements in order to be an interactive experience. Like Dear Esther, Gone Home doesn’t involve much in the way of gameplay, exactly (although more than the afformentioned Dear Esther).

Gone home subverted my expectations, and kept me interested as I went along. It has some nice little bits of humour mixed into some serious and powerful subject matter. It manages to keep a strong tone the whole way through. It’s not too long - I clocked in at around 100 minutes for my first playthrough. There isn’t likely to be much replay value, although I’ll probably do a runthrough in the commentary mode, and maybe in the future I’ll run through it again, like re-reading a good book.

I’d highly recommend it if you don’t mind a slower pace and lack of gameplay. If you liked Dear Esther, definitely give it a go. If you found Dear Esther too slow or the plot not gripping enough, I think Gone Home does better on both those fronts, and is more likely to be enjoyable to more people.

On Evolution

I am an atheist - and it’s important to me. Not in the way a religion is important to someone religious, but more because it bugs me that atheism isn’t just the norm. It’s weird. I imagine the feeling is similar to how someone would feel if they were to go back to a time where racism or sexism was accepted - it’s just so obviously wrong that it would feel crazy that it was normal behaviour.

Every now and then, I see something and it bugs me, because it doesn’t make sense. I’m not going to try and tackle the existence of a God here - there are a huge number of bases you have to cover. What I am going to try and cover is the idea that evolution is somehow ‘wrong’. Of course, evolution and religion are not mutually exclusive - but some people still think that is the case, and they “don’t believe in evolution”.

The reason that this is so unbelievable to me is that evolution is completely provable. I think one of the core issues of understanding is that people hear evolution and think of monkeys turning into humans.

Evolution is a process. You can see evolution works right now. Let’s begin by asking what a process is - and the easiest way to do that is to give an example. Erosion is a process. Imagine a canyon. If I were to say that the canyon exists because of water running over land and removing rock and soil until the canyon was formed, no one would debate that fact. It’s obvious that the process works - take a hose and try it - you’ll quickly see that it works. Anywhere you have that scenario, erosion will happen.

Evolution is the same thing. Take a collection of items that reproduce with slight random variations, and somehow make the ‘better’ items by any criteria reproduce more effectively, and the items will trend towards being better. That is a process that is guaranteed to happen. We can simulate this - write a program (hell, paper and dice would even work) that runs this process, and you will see it happen. Genetic algorithms are used a lot now, and they rely on the fact this process works given enough time. Likewise, ask a farmer if selective breeding is true - of course it is, it’s a cornerstone of modern agriculture.

We know that animals reproduce. We know they have DNA which varies randomly in offspring. We know that the world ‘selects’ creatures that are better at surviving. The conditions for evolution are met, and so the process occurs. Suggesting it doesn’t is like suggesting the river definitely didn’t form that canyon.

Evolution is fact - it’s a process with only one logical and provable outcome, and all the requirements for the process occur in life.

Nexus 5

I recently purchased a Nexus 5. I like big phones, and finally I get a phone that fills that requirement, while also being a stock android experience.

The Nexus 5 really is a very nice piece of technology - it is much lighter than my old Note, while having a huge array of features and looking good. The battery life also seems to be great.

I won’t bother going into too much depth, there are a myriad of reviews out there already, but I’ll say I full recommend the phone.

Nexus 10

I recently decided that I will be selling my laptop and moving back to a desktop. My 15” Retina Macbook Pro has served me well for the last 6 months or so - it was perfect for the environment I was in, and I wish that it could have come out when I started University, not so close to me finishing it. This said, with me moving into the world of work, I wanted to move back to a desktop PC. OS X was starting to grate on me a little, and a nice little mini-ITX rig is my future main computer.

That said, I did feel I would miss the ability to move my platform anywhere in the house - for casual media consumption. With the laptop gone, I finally saw a use for a tablet, and it was clear to me where I should go. The Google Nexus devices are the best solution due to the stock Android environment that offers style and the fastest upgrades (as an aside, isn’t it incredible that being stock is a feature we want?) The Nexus 7 may just have been updated, but the 10 seemed to suit me better - I intend to use it around the house, so portability isn’t a huge issue - likewise with the mobile connectivity. The 10’s screen is also high-res - good for me coming off my Retina MBP. It is a large device - my Samsung Galaxy Note felt very small when I went back to it momentarily, despite being very large for a phone.

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Obviously, a terrible shot from my phone doesn’t do the display justice - but trust me, it looks incredible. The fact that mobile apps are designed with dealing with different display densities in mind also tells - on the retina MBP there was always a noticeable disparity between different applications.

Google do have the process down at this point - as I ordered it from the Play store, it came pre-attached to my account, only needing me to enter the password before it automatically pulled down the apps I have on my phone and synced up my accounts. It was incredibly smooth. The whole thing just fell into place very quickly with minimal effort, while still letting me adjust the fine details - some applications that make sense on my phone, I don’t want on my tablet - for example, the pebble application for my smart watch. This was not an issue.

The device feels very solid, and has a nice rubberised surface on the back, which makes it feel very safe in your hands. I wouldn’t term it light - if you want to be walking around with it in one hand a lot, the smaller Nexus 7 might be a better bet. Not an issue for me.

Tablets have always been something I had no use for, never needing something between a laptop and a phone - between a desktop and a phone, however, it sits nicely.

Of course, the day is definitely coming where the tablets will oust the desktop PC and laptop for most users - small displays/touchscreen keyboards will never best their bigger/physical cousins, but with a bluetooth keyboard & mouse and a wireless display, a Nexus 10 can be thrown down and gain those capabilities. While Android might not be enough for power users, casual users will probably be fine, and Microsoft and Canonical both believe they can push a dual tablet/full pc experience¬† (in Canonical’s case, they want to go the next step and have a phone which can be promoted to a desktop - definitely the future of casual PC use).

For now, I am happy enough with a range of devices - and the cloud is already starting to blur the lines between them. It’s an interesting time to be into technology, as hardware manufacturers try and find the delicate balance between portability and power.

Google, I would argue, are on the right track.