Final Fantasy VII Demo

Midgar’s Sector 1 Mako Reactor is now non-operational.

The demo was pretty awesome… as an old school gamer I had issues with the camera control, and I’m still getting the hang of the battle system (I used the “Normal” one, a bit too frantic for my taste but still good, was even defeated once by the Scorpion tank :P).

The little that is shown of Midgar looks fantastic and the music is amazing. I’m definitively going to be ordering this, and any subsequent episodes.


My PokémonGo quest #13

After the events on November things are a bit boring again… the changes that introduced daily “appointment” mechanics for captures and pokestops have kept me playing in order for not breaking the daily streaks, but the lack of rare catches and the monotony of the game leave only my completionist desire as the driving force to continue grinding endlessly. Even with all the new xp bonuses I barely managed to get to Level 22.



My Pokemon Go Quest, Update 12

It’s been over a month since the last update; for the most part it had been a booooring month with little to talk about… I was about to give up in my quest, however by the end of October and start of November things started getting interesting again….

The halloween event brought lots of additional candy and creepy Pokemon…

And recent changes in the game have put some fresh air into the experience, you now get a lot of items on your first pokestop, lots of XP on your first catch and the game keeps track of your daily engagement.


Leveling up after Level 20 is hard… it took a couple of Lucky eggs and a whole month to get to Level 21!

  • New caught pokemon: Onyx
  • New pokemon via evolution: Butterfree, Victreebel, Polywhirl, Primeape, Gengar, Haunter, Golduck, Rapidash, Tentacruel, Marowak
  • Collecting a lot of nidorano and nidorana candy for Nidoking and Nidoqueen
  • I’m level 21 now, 73.5 km walked, 87/99 pokemon

My Pokemon Go Quest – Update 11

I’ve been posting this on my facebook profile, but I decided the blog would be a better place to chronicle this epic quest. But first, an introduction:

I’ve been playing Pokemon Go. I’m not a hardcore player but I try to play as much as I can, it has led me to walk all the way home to the office and also randomly get up my desk and walk around a park or something, which I think is great.

I’m mostly interested in collecting vs. conquering gyms. And above all, I’m on a quest to take pictures of as many Pokemon as possible.

All previous updates can hopefully be found at this public facebook album. Now, for the update for my quest.

This was my status last time:

September 20 – Bay Area part 2

– New pokemon snapped: Tauros (caught) and Golduck (ran away)
– New pokemon hatched: Machop
– Got the pokemon go plus and started using it.
– I’m about to evolve my Pidgey and Caterpie farm, hope to gain at least one level.
– Level 16 now, 42.9 km walked, 70/74 pokemon

Now it’s time for a new update

October 5 – Back to Medellin


Sadly, no new Pokemon pictures to show today after 2 weeks of playing. This is a result of what the game has sadly become for me: I can no longer find new Pokemon… instead I’m hunting low level ones to gain XP via evolution. Lots of caterpie, weedle, pidgey, zubat and others… is this fun? well, it’s a different game now… a game about grinding.

I’m hoping that by leveling up I’ll have better changes to find new ones, but that’s unlikely. I set myself a goal to hit level 20, and I managed to do so via 2 sessions of massive evolution while using Lucky Eggs.

I also already lost my Pokemon Go Plus. I should have used the wrist-strap but I didn’t like how it looked. I hope someone found it and is enjoying it. The short time I had it it was mostly useful to hit pokestops while walking. It was far from perfect, constantly disconnecting from the device. Overall I didn’t really acquired it for its limited functionalities but rather as a sign for being a player. Well, it’s lost now 😦

  • New pokemons: Electabuzz (hatched), Starmie, Ivysaur, Parasect (Evolution)
  • Hatched a lot of not so interesting eggs: Zubat, Caterpie, Weedle, Pidgey, Spearrow…
  • Also hatched a Staryu, Voltorb and Gasthly
  • I’m level 20 now, 61.4 km walked, 76/79 pokemon


Leonardo: The Inventor

Back on 1996, “multimedia” computers appeared in my city. It was the SoundBlaster craze, and it was not easy to have one at home (specially if your family was not particularly rich). An aunt of mine used to take me to the local library, were they had set up a room with these amazing machines.


They had a bunch of software, mostly interactive children stories, but one of them was of special importance to me… it made me realise these machines could be used to transport people into virtual worlds for them to explore.

It was a multimedia package about Leonardo DaVinci. I remember it had a lot of neat content (and probably made me become even more interested on engineering), but what I remembered the most was two games that came bundled with it.

One of them, the one that dug into my soul, was about exploring a fortress, solving some puzzles in order to escape. This one defined many things on my game development life: computers could simulate a lone adventurer, exploring closed quarters on his own. I am a single player games kind of guy, I like the intimacy between the game world and the player.

Exploring Leonardo’s Fortress

The other one was about flying around the world with mechanical wings, dodging stuff in your way. The music was forever burned in my head… I could remember it perfectly, even after so many years of not playing the game. This game was hard, I could never win it when I was younger.

God wants to strike me down 😦

So, last month, over one of these nights where I cannot sleep, I decided to look for it. It was not easy… I didn’t remember the name! I just remembered it was about Leonardo DaVinci, and that it was a multimedia thing…

After lots of websurfing, I found some videos on youtube: they were the encyclopaedic part about some of Leonardo’s discoveries.. I never found videos with gameplay from the games, but I was sure this was it!

Some more digging around, and I was able to find it on Amazon. Instaorder.


Since I was unable to find any interesting information about it on Internet, I decided to do a video including the unboxing as well some gameplay of it. I hope you enjoy it!!!

It was not easy to get it running… It’s a 16bits Windows program, which means it cannot run on 64bit OS (like my noisy windows 7 box). After trying my luck with Wine (unsuccessfully), I went for a full Windows XP VM using VirtualBox. It took some tweaking but I was finally able to get it going!

At long last, after 20 years, I was able to beat the Icarus game! It took a lot of learning, but in the end I managed to do it…  It’s not in the video, since it took me about 1 hour (or more?) of trying, but after dodging cannonballs, planes, more Eiffel towers and even tornados, I found a dragon (!) which I swiftly dodged to get to the finish line 🙂

Now I’m curious… this is version 2.0. May be I should also get version 1, and play around with it… I wonder if it also includes the games…


Here are some more pics for the curious

WinXP going crazy!
Gallery of Leonardo’s inventions
The main menu, there’s a LOT of great quality content!
Walking around the fortress
Finally! I did it after 20 years!! THERE WAS A DRAGON THERE :O
One of the Fortress rooms
Walking from the central tower to the middle ring


Behind the scenes… the suboptimal process I followed to record this video. I am fully aware iMovie is not meant for this, but that’s the tool I have at hand 🙂

Intro and unboxing (on my macbook)

  • Record myself for the intro using Quicktime Player, using a handsfree earbuds microphone to reduce noise.
  • Put a checkered tablecloth over my glass desk.
  • Put the macbook in an awkward position so that the built-in camera looks almost down.
  • Record myself opening the box.

On the Windows box (running Win7 64bits + Virtualbox with a WinXP 32bits VM)

  • Record videoclips from VirtualBox (stored in webm format)
  • Record audio from Audacity (using Windows WASAPI loopback thing)

Back on my macbook

  • Convert videoclips from webm to m4v using VLC
  • Sync each videoclip with its audio using iMovie
    • It was as fun as it sounds…. the format conversion messed the framerates and I had to split the audio tracks and try to match as best as possible
  • Exporting each videoclip (now with audio)
  • Create the full vid joining all exported videoclips

I could have saved myself a LOT of time if I had set up VirtualBox on my Macbook… I was just lazy to get an external CD drive or fetch the ISOs from some place and take my time to set it up. Then I could have recorded directly with Quicktime Player + Sound Flower, probably to a much better quality. :/

Slashing Dragon’s Ultima Ranking

I decided to post my ranking on the Ultima Series games, all of these are my personal opinions. Hope you enjoy it!

All images courtesy of The Ultima Codex.

The main series

Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness (1980)


Exploration: A big fantasy world to explore (4 continents), mixed with some weird time/space traveling. Not very consistent but would later prove to be a good basis for future works. Towns/Dungeon/Overworld model established.

Visuals: Introduction of tile-based graphics. Also simple “vector” pseudo-3D representation of dungeons.*

Combat: 1 vs 1 overworld and dungeon fights.

Music: None.

Ranking: 8th, it was the foundation of the series, most of the other entries naturally enhanced upon it.

Ultima II: Revenge of the Enchantress (1982)


New elements introduced: Moongates

Exploration: World was a bit chaotic, now you were on Earth, and you traveled thru time using Time/Moon/Silver gates. Lots of weird 80’s USA pop culture references. Even more crazy space traveling than U1 and useless dungeons. It was also completely disconnected from the Fantasy World proposed on U1.

Visuals: Similar to Ultima 1

Combat: Similar to U1, no tactical screen so it was all 1 vs 1 on the overworld (or dungeons?)

Music: None.

Ranking: 9th, the worst game from the original series IMO.

Ultima III: Exodus (1983)


New elements introduced: Tactical combat screen, Adventurers Party, Music, Line of Sight

Exploration: The world was much more consistent and believable now, your party was standard DnD fare but it worked. The end boss was pretty disappointing tho 🙂

Visuals: Visuals improved greatly in general, compared to previous versions (while keeping the overview tile-based display and pseudo 3d for dungeons)*

Combat: First iteration of the tactical combat screen, random encounters on the overworld would take you to an independent screen where you could command each member of your party to move around, attack or cast spells. You had to do a lot of grinding but still worked.

Music: Excellent.

Ranking: 5th, it opened the door to the greatest games by introducing lots of Ultima-defining elements

Ultima IV: Quest of The Avatar (1985)


New elements introduced: Britannia, Virtues, Interactive Conversations

Exploration: Hello Britannia, probably the biggest contribution made by the game. At long last a consistent and believable world which would be exploited in the rest of the games (Except U8). Towns/Dungeons/Overworld model continued.

Visuals: A bit better than U3*

Combat: Didn’t change much from Ultima 3 apart from changes in the magic system. Still good.

Music: Excellent.

Ranking: 3rd, hailed by many as the best game of the series.

Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny (1988)


New elements introduced: Day/Night Cycle, NPC Schedules, Underworld

Exploration: Same as U4 but better with the Day/Night cycle, and a whole new overworld (actually, underworld). Also much greater interaction with the world.

Visuals: Better than U4*

Combat: Pretty similar to U4, although fewer classes so a bit less of a variety (not that classes were clearly unique on U4 but still)

Music: Excellent.

Ranking: 1st, it’s like U4 but with better exploration and a more interesting world.

Ultima VI: The False Prophet (1990)


New elements introduced: Single world scale, weird top-down perspective

Exploration: This was the first game in the series introducing a single scale of the world instead of an overworld + detailed locations. However, for some reason the world still felt big, the main issue was exploring forest locations which was a bit annoying, augmented by the limited LOS range. Even more interaction with the world elements was allowed.

Visuals: A big jump from the previous iteration, graphics were now much more colorful and there were portraits of the people on the world.

Combat: Although it was a bit unbalanced, it kept tactics as an important part. It blended the new single scale of the world with turn-based combat pretty well.

Music: Excellent.

Ranking: 2nd, world interaction was great as well as combat, if only it had not been single world scale 🙂

Ultima VII: The Black Gate + The Serpent Isle (1992-1993)


New elements introduced: Real-time

Exploration: Single world scale continued. Trinsic is HUGE and makes you wonder how big the rest of the world would be. Sadly once you manage to abandon it walls you notice the rest of the world is much smaller (Except maybe for Britain). For some reason I could never get past the jittering walking animation, it just didn’t match with the excellent graphics and sound ambiance.

Visuals: Excellent graphics, the world became alive in front of you.

Combat:  was BAD, no tactics involved, everything happened far too quick to react.

Music: Excellent.

Ranking: 4th, real-time killed it (especially in combat) but maybe there was no other way.

Ultima VIII: Pagan (1994)


New elements introduced: Back to single character party

Exploration: The game continued using a single scale for the world, but this time it was not Britannia, so I was never able to perceive the big scale of the world. Exploration was very confusing will all places looking very similar. The world felt very small.

Visuals: Nice! if a bit repetitive on the different locations. Better than U7 in the sense of having a perspective much easier to the eye.

Combat: Was even worse than U7, now it’s single player and you’ll have a hard time hitting your enemies.

Music: Excellent.

Ranking: 7th

Ultima IX: Ascension (1999)


New elements introduced: Complete first-person perspective (Polygon based 3D)

Exploration: Technical restrictions made the world feel much smaller. I think this is the point where the single world scale hit its worst point and the game would have felt much more epic with a dual scale.

Visuals: The overworld and dungeons were great and felt very alive. At long last, we could see the Britannian sky.

Combat: At this point, all degrees of tactics had been removed from combat, it now involved having a good weapon and maneuvering your character around while hitting the mouse.

Music: Excellent.

Ranking: 6th, yes, I think it was actually pretty good.


* Games prior to Ultima 6 had a lot of ports for different computers. This is reflected in varying quality of visuals and music support.

Underworld Series

DND1 (1977)


Exploration: Basic dungeon exploration hoping not to step on a trap.

Visuals: Pretty limited, a command would give you a representation of the dungeon around you using characters.

Combat: Very unbalanced.

Music: Good (lots of types hitting the paper as you explore).

Ranking: 4th

Akalabeth (1979)


New elements introduced: Vector pseudo-3D graphics

Exploration: There was not much of a plot, it was mostly about exploring the dungeons which were pretty similar between themselves so not very exciting.

Visuals: Dungeons looked pretty much the same 😛

Combat: Not very balanced

Music: None

Ranking: 3rd

Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss (1992) 


New elements introduced: First person view using a primitive 3D Engine, Rune magic

Exploration: The game was confined to a single dungeon, but it was extremely believable and the setting was pretty good in my opinion. The Abyss is BIG, every level with lots of places to explore and to look for solving puzzles or finding better equipment.

Visuals: This game was a pioneer in 3D gaming, and although the viewport was pretty small, it was your great window to a world of fantasy.

Combat: While not a strong point of the game, it worked.

Music: Excellent.

Ranking: 1st, best game ever.

Ultima Underworld II: Labyrinth of Worlds (1993)


Exploration: For some reason, perhaps due to trying to expand the world into a lot of locations, the world felt a bit less compact and believable.

Visuals: Better than UW1, viewport was bigger, sprites had better animation.

Combat: About the same as UW1

Music: Excellent.

Ranking: 2nd

So, that’s it! Let me know what you think in the comments section if you want 🙂

There are some Ultima games missing from this list…

The 2 released Worlds of Ultima games used the same engine as Ultima 6, and I can say about the same about them that I said about U6. They were good games and actually Savage Empire was one of my first Ultima games 🙂


There were Runes of Virtue 1 and 2 for GameBoy (One of them got a SNES port), they differ significantly from the rest of the Ultima Series as being action adventure games instead of cRPGs. I could include them in the dungeon exploration series but I won’t. They were not very good.


Finally, there’s Escape From Mt. Drash. It’s a bad game, google about it if you are curious



Playing Ultima IX Ascension – Day 4

Day 4 – Restoring Compassion

Last time I forgot to express my general feelings about the dungeon Despise; in general I found it to be pretty linear, but the theming was pretty cool, loved how it was mixed with a cavern, and the little secrets along the main path…  I liked it, it’s certainly a great improvement over the dungeons of the previous games.

So I went looking for the mayor to get the Sigil of Compassion and restore the Shrine… but he was nowhere to be found!

Why do they hang people in the city of Compassion?
Why do they hang people in the city of Compassion?

I finally met someone who told me he had gone to Paws after his daughter (It’s a weird girl that keep teasing me for no reason)…

Someone seems to be enjoying the situation!
Someone seems to be enjoying the situation!

Onward to Paws, but some exploring first 😉 I found out something about the compass… only the East and West directions are inverted!? so may be these pillars are really wrecking the magnetic fields of Britannia :S

Some strange ruins...
Some strange ruins…
That bridge looks intriguing...
That bridge looks intriguing…

I found the mayor in Paws, he was saved from certain death by a crippled man, but he doesn’t care… he just wants me to free his daughter from a _tribe_ of goblins that are keeping her on a nearby house.

Yes... I'll save her...
Yes… I’ll save her…

I killed the goblin tribe and got a Warhammer as a prize… it’s powerful but doesn’t let me use my shield, I decide to wear it for a bit.

This people really needs me!
This people really needs me!

The Mayor gives me the Sigil of Compassion, the Blue Heart. So I journey to the shrine and restore it!

Shrine restored!
Shrine restored!
Put the sigil and the ruined rune!
Put the sigil and the ruined rune!

Coming back to Britain to report to LB, he congratulates me but remembers me the same should be happening with all other townes of virtue…

A different air can be breathen in the city, I can hear it in the ambient. The people from Paws start returning, I’m finally fixing stuff in the world as usual.

People is compassionate again!
People is compassionate again!

Now, I wonder if going to Yew or Trinsic; those seem to be the most readily accesible towns; I also gotta find that pirate girl and show her the proof of my avatarhood.

Playing Ultima IX Ascension – Day 3

Day 3 – Being lost, Shrine of Compassion and Despise

I examined Iolo’s place and found some amusing stuff but no trace of either Iolo nor Gwenno; I resumed my journey to Lord British castle or rather tried to… I wander around aimlessly until I bumped into the first column; Despise should be nearby!

A huge column!
A huge column!

But I’m still weak, so I won’t dive into it yet… I found a warrior who suggested I go meditate first to the Shrine of Compassion… I set to that, but first gotta get to the castle to get some healing…

…or at least that’s what I hoped, but Old British doesn’t seem able to do that anymore… dawn is coming, but I guess I’ll sleep a bit on my quarters to recover some health.

That didn’t work either, I’m still as weak as ever! I had a bread I had taken from the kitchen, and quaffed a potion. Now let’s go to the Shrine.

I exit the castle, and I know the shrine is east of Britain, but something is weird… it seems like the directions are inverted in the compass? I follow the compass to what I supposed was the east exit, and walked north a bit, then I saw a giant dragon flying by!

Wow, a dragon!
Wow, a dragon!

I try to climb the mountain near the dragon; may be the shrine is just to the other side… useless! the dragon spits fire at me but I don’t think he hit me… I then realize the compass doesn’t pinpoint with it’s long point but with the red dot (I guess that’s how compasses work)… so I head back to Britain to take the correct exit.

I find a circle of stones… I wonder if it’s the shrine of compassion or just the spot where the Britain moongate appears?

A Circle of Stones
A Circle of Stones

Then I find the lighthouse, abd I remember I have a sextant and a map, so I can easily know where I am, the map looks a bit odd, the lake near cove seems to be gone? in any case I decide I won’t use the map + sextant combination a lot, I like exploring, I may actually drop the sextant for more fun.

I decide to take a trip through the shoreline to the Shrine of Compassion. After a long trip along big rifts with some swimming I notice a grassy path I can climb. And I end up just by the statue Shamino was talking through the day before!

The storm from the last day replicated, it seems to be caused by a magic spell of sorts! I finally hit what seems to be the ruins of the Shrine of Compassion. It’s all messed up compared to what it once was.

The ruined Shrine of Compassion
The ruined Shrine of Compassion

In a nearby cliff I found some strange looking thing, I guess I’ll have to do something here to fix the shrine and make people compassionate again.

A magic thingie
A magic thingie

I walk around the Shrine but don’t find much apart from some potions. I was about to leave but then I thought may be I could try meditating on it. It worked! After “Mu”ing a bit some strange voice started talking with me and gave me tips on my overall mission of restoration of the land, which involves finding the corrupted runes in the dungeons, and the sigils in the towns, the do something at the shrines. It was worth coming here! I guess the voice is the same that thunders on Ultima V when you meditate.

SO LET’S HIT THE DUNGEON!, I travel back to the column and had my ass kicked by a Troll :/ I restored and came back.

Luckily, I took another path who put me just over the maze of castle Britannia! I jump over it and can see the center of the maze, a magic fountain… and a Flaming Sword… awesome!

Now, I feel confident to hit Despise…


It’s amazing how it feels inside the dungeon, after a short cavern I solve some simple puzzles and I’m in. I heard some people locked behind a door, which I open. They tell me they were a group of four who came here looking for the Kyran stone (?), and that each one knows a piece of it. One seems to be atop a pillar, another behind some water.

I proceed into the dungeon to promptly find a room with a huge pillar.

After some careful jumping, I manage to get to the top where I find the piece of the stone as well as button that opens the door to continue onward.

Atop a big pillar
Atop a big pillar

I push onward, suddenly the floor where I’m standing goes down, I guess it’s a trap! However I think I could just climb and continue down the way I was going.

However it doesn’t seem to be just a trap; there’s a passage leading into a room, there’s a painting of myself here (huh?) upon close examination it reveals to be a poster of Ultima III! and it comes bundled with a Wyrmguard armor which seems better than what I’m wearing… I don’t think a bit more of protection will hurt.

I continue down the passageway, then I find myself trapped in a room with a giant pool. Will I be able to escape?


After some exploration, I put two buckets of water on an altar and a door opens, yay!

Crazy ancient dungeon builders...
Crazy ancient dungeon builders…

I continued exploring and found a hidden room after moving a shield in the wall, it had a healing fountain and a small treasure 🙂

There was also some kind of armory with a sword in a case…

Wonder what's so special about this sword...
Wonder what’s so special about this sword…

Afterwards I found the third of the crew… sadly he died to the terrors of the dungeon, possible poisoned by a nearby fountain (who drinks water from a dungeon?). He has a scroll that points to a secret behind the dining room.

Poor man...
Poor man…

Then I found and saved the life of the fourth guy! he doesn’t want to know anything about dungeons and adventures, so he gives me his stone, I now have two.

I find the dining room and try to pass through the tapestry, burning, do something… but I fail. I decide to go onward :/

I found an alchemy lab with stuff to do potions, but I won’t be doing that for the moment.

Then I find the Cathedral of Despise. Nice architecture! I lit the flames all around and get healed by compassionate light.

This Cathedral looks awesome, maybe someone wanted to do in Despise what Cabirus wanted on the Abyss...
This Cathedral looks awesome, maybe someone wanted to do in Despise what Cabirus wanted on the Abyss…

I must go back to that dining room and find it’s secret! I finally step on a nearby plate and open a secret path which looks pretty awesome. Inside I find a weird map and a teleporter into another set of rooms which finally lead me to the blue Kyran stone.

I return to the Cathedral and onward, where I find some pillars and a magic circle. I put the three stones I have there, wondering if I missed the last one…

I go onward into a flooded cavern, I press a lever and I find the last stone behind the waterfall.

Nifty Shield!
Nifty Shield!

Then I go on and find myself in the last room of the dungeon, a wyrmguard is guarding what appear to be the bottom of the giant pillar!

Showdown time!
Showdown time!

After some talking we engage in combat, I quickly dispatch him (I am a warrior with a flaming sword, I AM THE AVATAR!) but he turns out to be Iolo… no wonder I didn’t find him at home!

Damn you, Guardian!
Damn you, Guardian!

I get the Glyph of Compassion, and run back to the dungeon entrance.

Can almost feel the weight of the massive pillar upon me
Can almost feel the weight of the massive pillar upon me

There, a wyrmguard and Blackthorne try to get me, but I’m saved by the pirate, Raven… she wants to make sure I’m the avatar, she needs to see a rune of virtue. I guess I’ll do that once I get the sygil of compassion and restore it.