I’ve toyed with ads on the site from time to time. Right now in my RSS feed there are three ads – a Google block, a GameTap ad, and an Amazon ad for Kindle/eBooks. None of them are doing well, but that’s probably because I only have about 70 people who read that feed. On the site itself, I’ve put up Google blocks and Amazon ads, I had the GameTap ad for a little while and I’ve recently switched over to an Amazon search widget (if you use it when you start your Amazoning, I’ll get a tiny commission from anything you buy). I’ve even thought about throwing up a PayPal donation button, but I would feel terrible about that unless I have at least one semi-popular regular feature (see: Man vs Wife – no really, read it and if you enjoy it, share it with others – the more people who read it, the more I’m apt to write it).

This morning I read this article over at Pajiba. It’s worth reading to get an idea of what goes behind funding a popular website. Now, I’m not popular, but it does cost me around $200 a year to keep this place going – a cost I happily pay because I like having the outlet. Then again, I’m not very heavy on traffic. I don’t get 3+ million page views a month. I get about 800, but it is climbing as I post more regularly. I’m incredibly lucky if I earn $1 a month. My best month ever was when someone used my Amazon link and then went on to buy over $5,000 worth of electronics. No other month has even come close.

Pageviews vs Unique Visitors - Not many people come here, but some come twice a day.

However, one of the main things I wanted to point out from that article was the mention of ad-blockers. Yes, running ad-blocking is probably the safest thing you can do, since ads are an attack vector. However, when you do that, you are also dropping yourself from the “view” count for the ads on the sites you visit. Since the ads are how they afford to keep making the content, visiting a site with ad-block running is, essentially, a form of piracy. Now, I know that piracy is a big scary word that gets tossed around a lot, but it does have meaning and it applies here.

But what if a site has terrible ads full of viruses and not-safe-for-work content that I need to block?

Well, in my opinion, if the people who run a site don’t care enough to provide safe ads for their visitors, then you probably shouldn’t reward them with visits regardless of how awesome you think the site’s main content is, so just stop going. Find another site to get that content from, one that cares about its readers. And don’t forget to send in a nicely worded (don’t be profane) email to the offending website and let them know why you won’t be coming back – they just might decide to fix it.

If you enjoy a site for content, unblock it – most ad-blockers have the ability to “white list” sites to allow ads. Keep your anti-virus up to date, and if you get a warning from an ad, contact the site owner and let them know. They actually want to know because they don’t want to be infecting their readers with viruses. Another option is to browse using a browser like Google Chrome which maintains its own Flash, PDF and other things inside its sandbox and doesn’t allow access outside of the browser. And since Chrome automatically updates itself all the time, you don’t have to remember to check for new updates and you can browse with the knowledge that you’ve always got the latest attack protections the team at Google has released.

Basically, you should seek to reward the sites you enjoy because without the reward they’ll fade away.

Anyway, that’s enough rambling from me for today…

Myst it by that much…

I’m a huge fan of the old Myst series of games.  Puzzles and story, no combat.  Awesome.

Back when I was heavier into GameTap, I finally got a chance to play Myst Online: Uru Live … for about two days because they were shutting it down.  Hence the title of this post…

Well, thanks to Massively I have discovered that it is coming back, again.  And it is free!

I’m definitely going to be checking it out.  I might even look into their Open Source project.

VGC: Beyond Good & Evil

This month I decided to join in with the Vintage Game Club.  Every month they pick a game to play, and while they play it they discuss it.  Their choice this month was Beyond Good & Evil.  I obtained my copy to play through the GameTap service since I already pay for that, making the acquisition of this game easy and with no additional charge.

So, I’ll be playing this and chatting along with the VGC.  Come join us, or at least come read along.


No, this is not Brad McQuaid’s failure of epic proportions Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, GameTap doesn’t have that.  Instead, they have the 1981 side scroller Vanguard.  Perhaps Mr. McQuaid’s game would have done better had he not lifted his title from a previous game.

Vanguard - Not a Saga of HeroesVanguard is… fairly awful.  Its typical, side scrolling and shooting while avoiding stuff.  The game has one minor twist in that its not all side scrolling.  It is also diagonal scrolling and top scrolling.  As you progress through the level, sometime it changes direction.  And then at the end of each level, it stops scrolling so you can fight the boss.  The controls are as you would expect, using a dual stick game pad the left stick is movement and the right stick is shooting.  Oh, because you can shoot in 4 directions.  If you do decide to play the game, I give this advice: Ignore the North, South, East, West options for firing, instead use North-East, North-West, South-East and South-West.  Hitting these will fire two directions at once (North-East will first North AND East).  Seeing as your goal is to kill everything, there is never a reason for you to not be firing in two directions at once.

All in all, the game is a bore, and I found myself thinking that I’d rather be playing Defender.  However, I did find the game to be more fun when instead of being some valiant soldier fighting for survival I imagined myself as the invading force.  This was made easier through the sections where you are blowing up alien houses, people and their pets, none of which fire back at you.  To paraphrase a film that does not deserve the indignity of being associated with this game or its review: Anyone that runs is an alien hostile! Anyone that stands still is a well trained alien hostile!

… and… I’m out.

Pyramid Magic

This week for my GameTap review, I decided to take a chance and hit the random button.  With 996 titles to choose from, of course, it landed on Sam & Max first.  After that it landed on a couple of educational type titles that I just didn’t feel like playing, until finally it landed on Pyramid Magic.  Originally for the Sega Genesis and available only in Japan, it looked to be your typical console puzzle game so I fired it up.

I’m sure there is a back story for this, but the story page was in Japanese, and while I speak a little of the language, my grasp of it is not enough to dive in and read a story.  I’m mainly limited to asking where the bathroom is and other such travel necessities.  But, its a puzzle game, so who needs a story?  Right?

Pyramid Magic: an enjoyable puzzle game from 1991The game play works like this.  Every board has 3 boxes: a wood crate, a red chest and a green chest.  So, according to the Old Man Murray “Time to Crate” scale, Pyramid Magic rates at 0 seconds.  Anyway, you have to break open the wood crate to get the red key which opens the red chest to get the green key which opens the green chest that reveals the magic piece of burlap which disables the robot.  Yes, the burlap disables the robot.  Take note of this, because after Judgment Day, you better have your stock of burlap ready to fight the Terminators.  Watch out Sky Net, I’m armed with textiles!  I suppose it is worth noting that in the age of KISS video game design, you break open the wood crate by kicking it… and you unlock the other crates also by kicking them.  I mean, if I’m just going to kick them, why do I need the key?  Because kicking it before you have the key doesn’t work, that’s why.  In addition to the crates, keys and burlap, your intrepid robot fighting archaeologist is faced with a problem: he’s got a bad back, or something… what this means is that you can’t duck.  Instead, to get through small spaces you must pick up large blocks of stone to force yourself to crouch down so you can fit into the smaller space, and then drop the block as you enter.  Of course, it is absurd to think of it that way, which is why I did it, but really is just a way to add another dimension to the puzzle solving.

Every level of the game presents you with the challenge of using the blocks of stone to climb or crouch your way through to the crates to release the burlap and defeat the evil robots.  Or at least that’s what the first 15 or so levels are like, then I got stuck and used all my lives trying to beat one stupid level (not the one pictured).  Thankfully, in the style of a bygone era of gaming, every few levels the game gives you a code so you can jump back in approximately where you left off.

Pyramid Magic is a decently enjoyable puzzle game, in fact since graphics aren’t the main draw to casual puzzle games, it actually holds up fairly well given that the game is 17 years old.  And if you like the game, Game Tap also has Pyramid Magic 2, Pyramid Magic 3, and a Pyramid Magic Special which is billed as a 4th game in the series but uses the graphics of the first so it really may have been the second game, essentially the first with new puzzles.

Sam & Max: Season One

For my inaugural GameTap review, I decided to hit one of the original games designed for the service – Sam & Max: Season One. If you don’t know who Sam & Max are, take a moment and quickly skim through the Wikipedia entry. As a kid, I read a few of the comics, but I wasn’t a collector. And at 18, I played the video game. I always enjoyed the humor, and I’m happy to say the humor isn’t lost here in Season One. Playing through the game was fun and funny for the writing, the dialog.

Sam & Max: Season One - Culture ShockActually playing the game, on the other hand, was alternately boring and frustrating. Sam & Max is one of those “click on everything” games. You drag your mouse pointer around the screen and when an object is highlighted, you click on it and you’ll either interact with it, pick it up, or talk to it. Items in your inventory are picked up, your mouse pointer changes and now when you click on things you’ll try to use that item on the object. Its also one of those “you can’t lose” games. There is no time limit. Every mistake, no matter how bad, loops back into the story, in fact, is actually part of the story if you want to hear all the witty dialog. When I say boring and frustrating, what I mean is that the puzzles in the game were either a) painfully obvious and amounted to just making sure I clicked the objects in the right order, or b) painfully obtuse. I won’t ruin the game by using an example from it, instead I will use a classic maddening example from the walk through of the old Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy text adventure:

Firstly, eat the nuts. If you don’t, you will die of protein loss. Take off your gown, and hang it up on the hook. Then, get the towel and put it over the drain. Wait until Ford is asleep, then nick his satchel and put it in front of the panel. Put the junk mail on the satchel, then press the dispenser button. A babel fish will land in your ear, and you will be able to understand all languages.

Nothing in Sam & Max is quite that bad, but sometimes it does feel like it, especially when you are missing just one element of the “logic” and failing over and over again.

Overall, I love the art style of the games, and the humor, but as a “game” I’d almost rather be watching a cartoon or reading a comic book.


I’m introducing a new subcategory under gaming here and it is specifically for GameTap.  I have had a GameTap account for over a year, and in that time I’ve mainly used it to play a few dozen old Atari and arcade games, and the occasional DOS/Windows game, like The Incredible Machine: Even More Contraptions.  To be honest, I haven’t used the account to its full potential.

Last week while I was working on moving the website, I decided to go look for something to do on GameTap to fill some time and I found Uru Live, the Myst MMO.  I’d seen it before and had always wanted to play it, but had never made the time.  Just my luck, the day I decide to start playing was the day they announced they were planning to shut it down.  Oh well… I guess you can’t win ’em all.

Getting myself back inside the GameTap tool, however, reminded me of why I agreed to sign up for it in the first place.  With 990 games listed, its a huge library of past games with a few newer titles and some originals within which there has got to be some fun… or perhaps just some lessons to be learned.

So, I’m setting a goal for myself, every week I am going to play at least one game from GameTap and post a review about it.  It will probably be easiest to do on Sunday mornings, so that’s likely when I’ll play and post.  I’ve already downloaded a few old favorites and a few “I can’t believe I never played that” titles, and if I ever get stuck, GameTap provides a handy random wheel spinner that will select a game for me.

Ready.  Set.  Game!