You know you wanted more pixel doll eye candy from Sims 3 World “Lago Simiore”. Grabbed a number of shots when winter rolled around in the game for you!
Read the review of the game world here.
You know you wanted more pixel doll eye candy from Sims 3 World “Lago Simiore”. Grabbed a number of shots when winter rolled around in the game for you!
Read the review of the game world here.
It’s time for one of those rare game reviews of mine! Horse people, feel free to move right on.
Lago Simiore is Blacky Sims’ final big Sims 3 game world. It’s a large world, almost completely filled out, with mere two empty lots for builders. The focus is heavily on the scenery and the views. This world is eye candy, pure and simple Mediterranean eye candy. How it escaped my notice for a year is beyond me. I’ve been looking for a Mediterranean world since Monte Vista came out and turned out to be too small.
Lago Simiore uses all the expansion packs but no custom or store content, making it an easy install compared to some custom worlds. On the down side, it’s made by German players so all lot names and flavour text is indeed in German.
The lots are highly decorated and take a bit longer to load on my computer than I am accustomed to. They seem free of routing errors so far, though. A 30 seconds wait for a beautiful lot where the game doesn’t stagger to sort out pathing is a good trade-off. This is a world that has been played in, solidly tested, before release. I am finding venues to be nicely populated now. Empty venues are a big issue in most worlds where routing fails keep consuming CPU attention.
An immense amount of detail has been put into the lots and what’s on them. My favourite is a residential lot in the hills. The flavour text simply tells us that there was a fire. Well, that’s a fixer-upper for sure.
If EA wants me to fork out cash for The Sims 5, this is what they need to start learning to do. Beautiful open worlds. Well tested pathfinding. Sceneries that beg you to take screenshots to show off to other players (hell, why not do what Blizzard did and build Twitter functionality right into the game?). Smooth, functional design with lots of quirks and things that make you stop and go wow. I’ll never trade this game play in for the glamourized date simulator that is The Sims 4.
Download Lago Simiore here.
I’ve had ten treatments with bailine electrotherapy as part of my treatments for chronical pain. My mobility was visibly better after the very first treatment, and it’s honestly only been going forward since.
Bailine advertises itself as a weight left therapy. You’re given a book which, among other things, discusses common food sense. If you have horrible eating habits and start following these diet plans, a weight loss is pretty much guaranteed. However, my eating habits are really quite all right so I am not surprised that I have not lost weight. I have lost centimetres, fat turning into muscle.
Combining electrotherapy with acupuncture has been a complete win. The electrical stimulation makes my nervous system relax enough that it can be manipulated — and I have no idea how the needles work but they work. They sure as hell work. I haven’t been this mobile in 20 years.
The win for me is the pain relief. My central nervous system and ischias nerve got me on early retirement. I’ve gone from barely being able to climb onto my therapy horse’s back with help — to mounting on my own without much trouble. I can ride 45 minutes a time now instead of 10-15 minutes as before.
It’s worth the money.
I’ve been waiting excitedly for this game since a friend told me about the first time, back in spring. Minecraft but in space, she called it. The original Minecraft appealed to me, with its ambling about and resource gathering, but I always was left with a feeling of now what? I’m not really hooked on building giant 3D pictures of real life or fantasy cities, that sort of thing. I just want to potter about. Well, guess what, that’s exactly what No Man’s Sky is about. Among other things.
Pottering about and picking up everything that isn’t nailed down means you need inventory space. Guess what you don’t have a lot of at first? Yep. It proves an interesting challenge, deciding what to keep and what to throw away, while you hunt for the exclusive trading outposts and space stations where raw commodities can be turned into sweet, sweet cash.
What do I want cash for? Well, guess. Bigger ships with more inventory space. Also bigger shields and bigger guns. At some point I want my exosuit to be upgraded to let me survive on freezing cold ice balls or irradiated toxic waste balls. I want to carry so much loot that the space station director starts to drool when he spots my ship. And I want to have the guns and shields to defend it, because you know what sucks? Jumping in from hyperspace to land among a pirate fleet. You learn to fear that ‘hostile subspace scan detected’ chime. Space combat is very much a thing.
The first hour or so you play through some very simple situations to teach you how the game works. You wake up on a random planet, your ship in pieces. Go forth, brave one, and collect everything you need to repair it! And while you’re out there, could you please catalogue every life form, be it flora or fauna… And don’t forget, some of those life forms think you would make great dinner.
My starting planet looked like a dark brown Swiss cheese and I kept getting lost trying to walk around holes and mountains. As it turns out, my little space self and his magnetic boots are actually pretty good at running up almost vertical surfaces, and a jetpack upgrade really made things easier. It all felt very overwhelming at first, but the controls are surprisingly intuitive. After an hour or two, I wasn’t even thinking about what I was doing anymore, and I’m not very good at this sort of thing. I still run face first into walls in War of Worldcraft, for Pete’s sake.
Once I was ready to leave my initial star system I had a stroke of great luck; I ran into a trader who sold me a decent newbie ship at a remarkably low price (those of you who play will agree with me that four hundred thousand units is very, very cheap). Then I jumped into what turned out to be a gorgeous star system with a beautiful red planet. I named it the Aeson system, after a friend whose roleplaying character has a fondness for scarlet.
Lynne Prime, as I named it, had lovely weather, a pleasant range of temperatures, no particular toxicity or radiation, and lots of rare minerals. It had a beautiful colour range, red grass, green trees and cobalt blue shades of minerals. Interaction with offworlder aliens was scarce, granted, but it was a short hop to the system’s space station to sell my loot. The local space pirate gang only caught me once.
When at last I felt like taking on new challenges and perhaps meet exciting new aliens with exciting new technology, my luck ran out. I hyper jumped from system to system, and flew from planet to planet, without finding a rock to put my feet down on. I jumped right into a stellar battle. I landed on planets so cold that I froze almost solid before managing to close the door to my ship again. Planets with acid rain so intense that my exosuit caved like plywood. Planets where the sentinels were so aggressive that —
Did I forget the sentinels? Well, those are the robotic overseers of the universe and they don’t much like change. Blast a few rocks to pieces to get at their valuable minerals, sure enough, these little robotic pests turn up. Fortunately, they’re not very smart. If you’re already done when they get there, they’ll usually just fly around and be confused. Or, if you’re on a high security world, they’ll attack you without the slightest provocation. I thought it a tad ironic when I had to take out four sentinels after they tried to kill me because I killed a dog-lizard-thing that tried to eat me. That’s taking wildlife preservation a little too far.
Planets and moons are generated following a complicated formula that guarantees that their ecosystems make some kind of sense while not two are alike. My second lucky shot got dubbed Arizona Prime because it reminds me of pictures from there. Also, I like the word Prime.
This world gets a little chilly at night, some minus 50 degrees Celsius or so, but my exosuit can handle it and fuel is in ample supply. Day temperatures range around 20 degrees and the views are quite something. There’s no radiation and no toxins, and most of the wildlife is quite friendly (except the unicorn dogs, I shoot those little bastards on sight).
Extreme environments can be handled with upgrading your exosuit and in many cases, by seeking shelter. This can be a literal shelter at an alien outpost (you’ll want to search around those for new technology anyway), or hopping into a cave to get out of storms. Arizona Prime is unfortunately prone to some really, really violent dust storms.
So what do I love about No Man’s Sky? The pottering about, searching everything, poking everything with my multitool, learning alien languages one word at a time, trying to speculate in trading goods (markets fluctuate from system to system), the grand over-all quest to get to the core of the galaxy (I think, it’s a tad unclear), the beautiful vistas, the smooth and elegant user interface… I like all the options. There are countless things you can do in the game, and my choosing to be a peaceful merchant and explorer doesn’t mean that you can’t be a vicious space pirate.
But stay off Lynne Prime. That’s the world I plan to retire to.
Sometimes, a picture says more than a thousand words. Ergo, 53 pictures tell quite the story. Riding camp for adults at RideCare by Taulov, Fredericia, Denmark — the pictures appear in no particular order.
Photos by Birgitte Heuschkel, Caroline Frandsen, Tine Engell-Nielsen, and Tina Hald Petersen.
We had the great fortune of finding a new trout lake not too far from where we live. Stenvad Put & Take is gorgeous, particularly at 5 am on a summer morning before the heat begins to take.
The golden light coming up as the sun struggled to get over the horizon. The myriads of tadpoles disturbing the mirror blank surface of the lake. The birds singing their little throats out in the woods. The babbling of the brook that feeds the lake. Gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous.
The trout of Stenvad are fierce fighters. They proved that on our first visit about a month ago, where Alvin and I each managed to land one. They’re muscular fish, spending their time hunting rather than waiting for trout pellets. In a put & take lake, this is a pretty big deal. The water is clean, full of wildlife, and the fish are healthy.
The morning’s sole catch was this beautiful perch but that’s all right. When push comes to shove, I don’t go fishing to put food on the table. I go because I love the outdoors experience and the ambience. It’s one of the few outdoors activities I can take part in, in spite of my walking handicap. One fish, no fish, or a gazillion fish, it doesn’t matter.
This weekend I had the distinct pleasure of attending one of Caroline Frandsen’s MindCare weekend courses, from Friday evening to late Sunday afternoon. MindCare is coaching in understanding yourself and your mental processes in order to make a positive change in your life, be happier, and let go of negative patterns. Some of the lessons are practical, on horseback, or on foot with the horses, and some are theoretical. Caroline is a trained coach in existential psychology and positive psychology.
Myself and Pilar sharing a bag of hay and the warm spring sun Saturday. I finally got her tail washed, dried, and resembling a tail rather than some sort of roadkill tacked on to her rump.
The course focused on stress and negative thought patterns, personal problems, anxieties, and lack of self worth. For me personally, my fear of riding after my bad fall in November was the big issue, but as should surprise few people, anxieties, low self esteem, and the feelings of chaos in the head when negative thought patterns take over are pretty universal. We were just four attendants so everyone had ample time to get their say in and not feel crowded or intimidated by the amount of people listening.
Walking around the arena at a comfortable pace. Pilar adjusts her walking speed to that of whoever is walking next to her. At the moment this picture’s shot, two other riders were returning and of course she had to look at them and not pay attention to what she was doing.
I’ve never been all that great at sitting on a chair so I enjoyed the outdoors one-on-one lessons where Caroline would be working with one person and the other three would be chatting, preparing horses, and exchanging life stories and ideas. It sounds so… mundane, we just walked around at a leisurely pace and talked, but somehow, the horses have an amazing amount of presence. You find yourself opening up and touching on things in yourself that you’d likely have kept well under lid in a living room. Horses are amazing therapists. Equine assisted therapy is a thing these days, and I can see why.
This is the view that greeted us Sunday morning. Snow in late April is unusual to be certain, and this amount to boot! Brrr!
Waking up to heavy snow Sunday morning was a bit of a surprise. Went out to grab Pilar early at 7 am so she could dry off before being saddled later, and I just couldn’t see her in the paddock. I whistled and she whinnied back but no horse. Then a snowdrift got on its feet and plodded towards the fence. Fortunately she loves snow.
Some of the one-on-one lessons were done out on the trail. I’m not brave enough yet for that, but with the sort of weather we had, I sure wish!
The gas heater in the cabin became very popular for warming up those poor riding boots frozen feet.
Pilar was on her best behaviour all weekend. Here she is offering a ride to one of the other attendants.
One of the little lessons Pilar had for me was very interesting as an example of how horses’ minds work. She likes me, of course. I may not be Alvin, the centre of her universe, but we’re pretty good friends all the same. When I try to mount her after my fall, she inevitably tries to step away from the mounting block. She stands rock still with everyone else.
Misbehaviour? No, she’s picking up on my fear and telling me that if I’m terrified of getting on her back, then hey, she can easily solve the problem. Stepping away means I can’t get up there and then I don’t need to be scared, right? Horses are amazingly sensitive and caring animals.
Would I attend another time? Hell yes.
I think I own the only purebred Friesian in the world who unabashedly sets a chocolate brown summer coat. My horse is such a non-conformist.
Pictures by myself, Caroline Frandsen, and other attendants.
All photos are copyright © Dina Hjort, Caroline Frandsen, and Lucia Baumann respectively.
This Saturday I got to live out a childhood dream: Fighting with sword and lance and shooting with bow and arrow at ridecare in Fredericia, Denmark.
Unlike in my wildest childhood dreams, I got to do it with real weapons (granted, the swords were wooden replicas) and on horseback!
I haven’t had this kind of fun with horses since I was fifteen years old and we Star Wars worshiping fan girls and pony riders fought out mounted duels on the ponies, using our dressage whips as swords (my Arabian made the best Millennium Falcon ever, and he was even white to boot).
Adding to the already amazing levels of awesome is that every horse attending was tacked in sidepulls or soft hackamore bridles; mounted combat, as turned out, is all about the booty, and the leg aids.
Our instructor for the Mounted Combat workshop was Lars Bossen, a Danish army captain who has spent most of his life studying various ancient combat techniques, including — but far from limited to — mounted combat with medieval weapons.
The first step of the workshop did not involve the horses. Before you can even try to coordinate all those limbs and weapons from the saddle, you need to be able to tell them apart on the ground.
Lars had brought three genuine metal swords to demonstrate; a Japanese katana, a European broadsword, and a Chinese footman’s sword. However, we students weren’t allowed to play with the sharp toys (this was probably a very wise decision, all things considered). We were issued a bokken, or wooden katana replica, each. The katana being a curved sword it is easier to draw and maneuver with on horseback — the same reason that cavalry sabres are, well, sabres and not straight bladed swords. Chopping the head off your horse in mid-swing is generally not what you’ll be wanting to achieve.
Lars walked us through the core principles of how to move with the katana in order to both protect your own vulnerable areas as well as following up with a counter-attack to the unprotected areas of the other guy. It’s both a lot harder and a lot easier than it sounds: The core concept is simple enough (hit him, don’t let him hit you), but once you get into it there are entirely too many legs and feet and arms and heads involved for things to stay simple.
We were walked through how to lop off someone’s head (or at least give them a generous concussion) with a downward, angled slash, with katana and lance both. After that, we proceeded to a crash course in shooting a short bow and arrow (complete with how to not peel the skin off your own arm with the bowstring, a lesson only partially mastered by Karin and myself). And then, finally, it was time to get the horses.
Lars had us do a brief warm-up after which we were given instructions. As a footnote, all the horses were ridden with bitless tack.
The trick is to steer almost exclusively with your seat and leg aids. You have the left hand on the reins to assist, but ideally, you should not even need that. Unsurprisingly, those horses who were already familiar with cordeo and/or liberty riding have it easier on this one. My poor Pilar has never tried either and was horrifically confused at first. In order to be successful, the horse needs to be steerable with the seat and legs as well as able to do a side pass and turning on its hind axis, preferably without hand aids. Horses that are trained in Western style probably have it easiest.
No need to panic, though: Lars helped us teach the horses to do the appropriate moves. Pilar didn’t quite get it all (she’s only three months into riding after all), so we kept our pace at a walk rather than the gallop that is the ultimate goal. No need to frustrate my poor girl, she’ll get better at it as she gets older and more educated.
The big finale was, obviously, mounted archery. You think hitting a target is hard? Try hitting it from atop a moving horse! Although, in honesty, while it’s a lot harder than it looks, it’s a lot easier than it sounds. The horses were fairly quick to figure out that they were supposed to move that way, allowing riders to focus on, well, shooting.
The sun was shining, the air on the sand paddock was scalding and dusty. Even so, spirits were high among students and mounts alike.
Having a big trough of fresh, cold water for both species no doubt helped. I think I poured as much water into my hair and shirt as I actually drank.
I’m happy to recommend this kind of workshop to anyone whose ‘inner Sioux brave’ deserves a day out to play.
Lars’ Horse Combat workshops are split into three basic levels (Basic, 1, and 2) and two times three advanced levels in combat and horseback archery competition respectively. Basic is what I attended, and one’s expected to have practised for a while before moving on to the next level (in order to get the most out of it).
You need to bring a horse and an open mind. The horse must have the basic skills — it’s typically lack of education in the horse that proves the greatest challenge on the Basic level (ask Pilar about that, she was clearly feeling challenged by so much new stuff in one day).
The horses should be calm and used to meeting new challenges. There will be waving of sticks and the sharp ‘thwack!’ of arrows hitting targets, both of which may frighten more sensitive specimens.
Lars likes to boast that he can take someone who’s never been on a horse or fired a bow, put him or her on a trained horse, and in one day, he or she can hit a stationary target in a gallop. I’m inclined to believe it.
Pilar’s struggling with the new concepts held us back the most — the horse is the one that really needs to keep track of its movements and what legs go where. Pilar’s only been under rider for some four months so she is quite excused for being occasionally very clueless — and now we have some solid inspiration for what things we really need to work on together!
On a finishing note: Sit back and enjoy gorgeous pictures of horses and riders having fun in the sun!
About a year and a half ago I was dancing around the living room because EA finally was releasing a new edition of their famous SimCity franchise. I bought the thing, I I gave it my very best, and at no time did I feel I was playing the game that got me hooked on video games to begin with, back in the mythical nineties when your mum was young and cellphones weighed four kilos each. We walked twenty miles to and from work, uphill and against the raging blizzard winds both ways and damnit, we had the best game back then — and EA completely failed to deliver on their updated, online version.
Paradox Games to the rescue. This month saw the release of Cities: Skylines and frankly, it’s everything I ever wanted, with additional tools for modders and fiddlers. It’s not even half the price that SimCity was, either, and there is so much more content, so much better simulation, so much better everything. Eh, the teeny tiny detail on the graphics might be a slight step downwards, but it’s not something you really notice a lot. The ability to add policies such as a ban on heavy traffic or free public transit to individual city districts blew me away — and I haven’t even got my town over 5,000 inhabitants yet after thirty hours of game play.
It ain’t easy. Cities: Skylines does not have the intuitive, here-let-me-show-you-to-do-this interactivity that SimCity prides itself on. You can access the wiki and tutorials from in-game via the Steam interface, and you will need to, more so if you never played the older SimCity games. There are myriads of little fiddly details that will make you face palm when you figure them out — such as your coal power plant needing to import coal if you don’t produce your own, and that ain’t going to happen if the truck driver has to fight his way through heavily congested traffic — and trust me, your citizens aren’t going to be happy when the power plants begin operating at lower output to preserve what little coal reserves they have left.
The Steam interface makes it easy to add and remove user created content. Users and Paradox both provide mods (that affect how the game is played and how things operate behind the scenes) and assets (ploppable or buildable things such as houses, highway crossings, cloverleafs, entire skeleton city districts…) Three days after release there were eight thousand mods and assets available for free, rated by users. Nom nom nom.
My only real issue at this time is the lack of documentation early on that comes from the wiki manual being user generated and driven. It’s going to take a few weeks before players have properly tested, understood, and explained how some of the more fiddly things work. All things considered, and more so how quickly I threw EA’s version away, I can live with that.