Category: Games

Celebrating Watson’s Birthday with Storyline 2

Last Friday I watched a webinar that gave an overview of the features in Storyline 2. Don’t worry. You didn’t miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity or anything — they have them every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Anyway, I’ve always wanted to try this software. People make cool looking projects with it, but it sounded really intimidating and time consuming. Eek! Scary! However, after I sat through the tour I really wanted to give the program a test drive. I figured that the best way to do this would be to work backwards (in a sense) by using a template that someone else had already created. I found a cute quiz with a dinging bell and an attractive “pathway to victory” and proceeded to make a test about my cat. Yup. I’m that person. So I made it extremely purple, added a silly blonde cartoon character (me, obviously haha), and many, many images of my cat.

This experiment isn’t perfect. Usually I would obsess over font style, size, positioning, getting zooming and times exactly right etc… but I really wanted to show this as a true “work in progress.” This means that if you’re like me then you’re going to definitely notice things like:

  • The images aren’t always meticulously aligned
  • At the end of the game it doesn’t focus correctly on the word “purr…”
  • The borders on Watson’s images are a little off
  • Sometimes all of the “cans” you’ve collected don’t appear at the right time

But perhaps in version 2 I’ll have that all figured out? Thankfully, Storyline has a similar interface to Camtasia. The most obvious being that you can quickly manipulate, edit, drag, and drop each of a slide’s individual items (text, pictures, actions, sounds etc…) on a timeline. I think I’ll be able to get the hang of it. That chiming bell should probably be replaced with a meow too, right?

So, without further adieu, would you like to prove whether or not you know the ins and outs of Watson?

Being Scared Silly

poltergeist-carole-anneI’m horrible at watching scary movies and television shows but that doesn’t really stop me from still needing to see some of them. The line I draw between what I will willingly sit through (mostly with hands covering my eyes) and those I have to read plot summaries of on Wikipedia is a bit blurry. For example, the new TV show The Strain is vile (what is up with those spring loaded tentacles?!) and scares the heck out of me but I’m obsessed with it and watch it every single week. That may also have something to do with Corey Stoll (I can’t wait until he loses that awful wig) but I digress… On the other hand, I refuse to ever watch any of the Saw films — although I know what happens because I read all about them. I also tend to read the synopsis for movies like The Purge (sorry Ethan Hawke) and while I sat through the first Paranormal Activity in the Theater I skipped the rest in favor of — you guessed it — getting the 3 paragraph rundown online.

Another show I love is The Walking Dead. Zombies! Yay! It’s also gory and peppered with silly jump scares that I gullibly fall for every single time, but I keep watching and now I’m not only watching but playing the game.


During a recent Steam sale I picked up the Walking Dead game for just a few dollars and I played it for the first time over the weekend. I’m happy to report that when you totally blow it, can’t figure out the game controls, and your brains get eaten by zombies it simply restarts the scenario you’re in and lets you give it another go. This is a relief because I’m sort of hopeless when it comes to playing a video game for the first time. This is probably compounded by the fact that for years I’ve really only played World of Warcraft and, let’s be honest, not that well. So each new game that I try entails me flailing about and fumbling with the keyboard for a good hour before I can make heads or tails of anything.


I also have this thing where I apparently can’t figure out how to open doors. I seriously couldn’t get inside a sliding glass door for like 35 minutes. The character I was playing just kept saying, “I wonder if anybody’s home?” over and over and over again until I wanted a zombie to eat him. Finally I had to google it and find a video. It was a little less embarrassing realizing that it seemed to be a common problem for players, but since the same thing happened to me while trying to get into the Gone Home house I’m starting to get a bit of a complex. Plus, I don’t really want to “cheat” and look up things every time I run into a snag in a game. Google is like the 2014 version of the Game Genie. Sure I beat lots of games with that silly add-on back in 1991 but in truth the only 2 video games I ever completed all on my own were the NES version of Paper Boy (OK…admittedly I’m kind of proud of this one) and Toe Jam and Earl: Panic on Funcotron for Sega.

Anyway, eventually I did get inside the house and things picked up a bit more. What I enjoy about games like The Walking Dead are the choose your own adventure style of narrative. This game, much more so than The Novelist, really pivots your storyline and progression dramatically depending upon the choices you make and the interactions you have with a myriad of characters. I’m not very far in but I’m intrigued. The storyline is wonderfully paced, unique, and engaging. I was honestly a bit worried about the gore/horror factor but since the graphics are done in a comic book style I’m pretty desensitized to it. I mean…the Oculus trailer is scarier than anything I’ve experienced in this game so far and let’s hope it stays that way because I’d much rather immerse myself in the psychology of the storyline than guts and blood.

But let’s be honest, I can’t help but wonder…what are the REALLY super scary games? The ones I probably should read about on Wikipedia and not play late at night in a dimly lit office. There’s a long weekend coming up. Any suggestions?

PS: As of August 27, 2014 The Walking Dead Season 2 game is on sale for $9.99 and Season 1 is only $6.24.

The Novelist: Or How I Ruined a Kids Life in a Video Game

After playing Gone Home (a game that I think is the most brilliant thing since sliced bread and encourage you to buy it immediately) I fell into the indie game rabbit hole on Steam and was really taken with the trailer (linked above) for The Novelist. Watch it. It’s kind of creepy, right?

I ended up playing through the game for the first time last week. The gameplay itself is incredibly simple and easy to pick up. I was a bit disappointed in the lack of total functionality of the beach house itself, but I think I got a little spoiled in Gone Home due to the fact that you could pretty much touch, open, turn off and on, and literally chuck almost anything on the floor in that particular game’s house. Regardless, this game isn’t about graphics. This game is about choices and how your choices shape not only your future but the also the lives of those who love you.

I find it difficult to discuss the game in too much depth because I don’t want to spoil the general storyline, but I will admit that the longer I played the more time it took for me to weigh the needs and wants of each of the 3 family members. You’re only allowed to choose one person’s “request” in each scenario so 2 people are always disappointed. You do have the option of selecting a second family member’s request to be “granted” in a compromise but they don’t generally end up being very happy about that.

I actually began to feel a little anxious for my fictional family. If I pleased Tommy (the child) would the father’s work suffer? If Dan (the father) was given his every whim would he revert into a self-involved hermit? Did Linda (the mother) have to give up her art for the betterment of the family unit? Then you close out the game with a HUGE decision that simply cannot leave everyone fulfilled. The effects of your final choice are revealed in an epilogue and I seriously did end up ruining Tommy’s life. So that bodes well for me being a mother…

That being said I hope to go through the game another time and see how much of the storyline actually changes when different choice combinations are made. I also wonder at the plausibility of this game being used in a classroom? Are there any psychology teachers out there? What do you think? I have a hunch that using this game in a well-structured activity would generate quite a bit of chatter or at the very least reveal a little bit about yourself. After all, as many other reviewers have noted, you’re the omniscient entity puppeteering the Kaplans and there’s no way (if you’re taking it seriously) that experiences in your own life aren’t steering you toward certain decisions in the game. That warrants a journal entry or two, right?

There are some very interesting articles about The Novelist and even a number of walkthroughs posted on YouTube but I strongly encourage you to play the game in order to get the full effect.

Have you played? What did you think?