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Khaled McGonnell

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Theory of Fun for Game Design
Theory of Fun for Game Design
by Raph Koster
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More a treatise on what games are and should be than a theory of fun, 24 May 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
What this book delivers well is a treatise on what games are and should be. The author's erudition and practical experience across a wide range of disciplines is a particular strength of the book. Whilst discussion of some theories in the initial chapters is so reductive that it unintentionally teeters on the condescending, as the argument advances, the introduction, analysis and weaving together of disparate theories flows naturally into the overall thrust of the book. Games are illustrated as a medium intrinsically characterized by the intersection of multiple disciplines. Unfortunately, if (like me) you've picked up this book wanting a detailed and substantiated analysis of theories of fun, I feel you'll be left wanting. This is particularly frustrating as there are some very interesting frameworks (e.g. breaking down types of fun into constructive, experiential, and deconstructive activities for co-operative, competitive and individual interaction) which warrant more column inches. I was expecting something akin to an academic textbook with more of a discussion of reward theories in the gaming context. Why is completing a level fun? Do certain sound effects generate more fun than others? Do coins or gibs serve as a better reward? Certainly the book offers suggestions but analysis of specific reward mechanisms lacks breadth and detail. This is certainly thought provoking stuff that will help anyone approaching game design, but its brevity and lack of depth constrain it, at best, to a supplementary text.

The Sims 2: University Expansion Pack (PC CD)
The Sims 2: University Expansion Pack (PC CD)
Offered by Soprano Entertainment
Price: £19.95

118 of 127 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Education was never this exciting!, 12 Mar. 2005
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
So, now time for a proper review, with a copy of the game that's actually been paid. First of all, let me commence by filling you in on the meaty additions to the game. After all, some people will buy this add-on just to enhance their existing Sims. Sims 2 University adds four new careers: Artist, Paranormal, Natural Scientist and Show Business. These new careers also come with their own career rewards, of most interest being the Resurrect-O-Nomitron and the Cow Plant (fans of Evil Dead and Little Shop of Horrors will appreciate)! For those of you who liked some of the original careers, the graduated Sims will accelerate into the existing career paths, particularly if you've selected an appropriate major (for instance, a major in economics will set that Sim up nicely for a career in Business).
There are a lot of new items, with some requiring special mention. The new instruments can be played in sync and earn money for busking Sims, and hustling at the pool table is a joy to watch! There are also some new items specific to the campus allowing all manner of nefarious deeds.
The actual game dynamic of this expansion is what really impressed me. Where as previous expansions for The Sims just added a few actions and items, this provides an entire mini-game within Sims 2. There's such an enormous amount of scope that how you decide to play it really is critical. Time in Sims 2 could be countered with the Elixir of Life, but The Sims 2 University only gives you finite time. This expansion actually feels more like a game than a simulation, which I find a very satisfying addition. So how do you win?
Well, as I said, there's many ways around it. It just depends what you want for your Sim. Money is available in all manner of ways, truly not disadvantaging any skill sets over others. Busk, steal, hack, hustle, study or earn your Sims, simoleans are to a large extent the key to your Sims success. Then, though as in reality not necessarily the focus, there's the academic slant. Your Sim has to ensure they get the necessary grades to pass each year, and avoid getting kicked out of Uni. The results will also affect your income (through scholarships) and your career prospects. Finally, your Sim's will need to have some college buddies to get them through Uni mentally intact. As usual, friends can also ease other burdens, such as with Group Research, getting into Greek Houses, and being inducted into the elusive, secret society.
Your graduated Sim is plunged back into the mainstream game with a few additional perks. Lifetime Wants are your Sim's ultimate aspiration. Although tough to achieve, they will grant the successful Sim a permanent Platinum Mood! They get to hang up their diploma certificate and exert their influence on lesser Sims, getting them to do tasks for them. These simple additions to the main game are an excellent and innovative addition. Each copy of the game will also give you Sims junkies a taster of more things to come, in the shape of the Nightlife expansion (not that that should come as a great surprise).
All in all, I think the Sims 2 University is an essential purchase for anyone who has the original. This add-on also brings such a new dynamic to the game, a pace, excitement and finality, that I would recommend it to those who didn't even like the original.

Eats shoots and leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
Eats shoots and leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
by Lynne Truss
Edition: Hardcover

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Edutainment: a tour de force., 8 Mar. 2005
It is critical for anyone who picks up Truss' book to remember that this is a book about grammar. If you write text messages or emails that look like the contents of Alphabetti Spaghetti, then this book will most likely seem a pedantic rant. The truth is, of course, that it is. Truss' point is that grammar is essential to language; she worries that as we write more and more, we're communicating less and less. Grammar lends words meaning, order, and emotion, something she demonstrates par excellance. Applications of grammar are illustrated and taught in a light-hearted but thorough way, leaving one entertained and informed. I dare say the book will actually goad some into reviving their grammar.
This book is not an apologetic, which some reviewers criticise it for not being! It is very much a book connected to people. Truss explains her own personal crusade for grammar. The fundamental argument is that, critically, without grammar people will be unable to connect to other people in a comprehensible way. 'Eats, Shoots and Leaves' is a plea, a call to arms to the English-speaking peoples to understand they have a language which can be enhanced, manipulated and nuanced in unique ways with the proper application of grammar.

The Shadow Of The Wind
The Shadow Of The Wind
by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Edition: Paperback

25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thrillingly characterful and intimate, 7 Mar. 2005
This review is from: The Shadow Of The Wind (Paperback)
The Shadow of the Wind is a dark tale of intrigue, with an utterly compelling and wonderful humanity. The book follows young Daniel Sempere who is fatefully ensorcelled by a novel, The Shadow of the Wind, and its mysterious author, Julian Carax. Daniel descends into a world occupied by devils in his hunt for the truth of Carax's history. Soon Daniel finds himself embroiled deep in the lives of the people who were also formative in Carax's life, and in so doing discovers that he and Carax are more similar than he could have thought. The story is told with such finesse that it at once unravels an intricate plot while making every page a delight. This is a very human story despite its being, undeniably, a thriller. Zafon sees a plot unfold through the medium of this young boy's life, and could be seen as a rites of passage novel as our intrepid narrator has wisdom inflicted upon him by life. Atmosphere is abundant, with Zafon juxtaposing the fancy of youth with very adult passion, fear and hate seamlessly. The characters are so vivid, delivered with such conviction and consistency throughout the book that it beggars belief that they are fictional. The enduring intimacy of Daniel's relationships throughout the book are what distinguish it from the thriller genre. The Shadow of the Wind is driven by its characters, who will seduce you until the very last page.

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