October 20, 2017


Friday CatBlogging

from A Shareware Life



Banditcaramel1



October 19, 2017


Microsoft SmartScreen: File Not Commonly Downloaded

from A Shareware Life

Yesterday, we released a new version of Pretty Good Solitaire.

Immediately after making the new version live, I tested the download as I always do.  I used Edge on Windows 10, as that is the most common browser/OS configuration these days (as well as Chrome/Windows 10).

The download went normally.  Edge did its security scan.  Then it says that the file "is not commonly downloaded and could harm your computer".  When you click on run, it comes up with another window.

The headline in the window says "Windows protected your PC", then "Windows Defender SmartScreen prevented an unrecognized app from starting. Running this app might put your PC at risk." There is a small 'More info' link and the default "Don't run" button in the bottom right corner.

The only way to install after this is to click on the 'More Info' link, which pops up a "Run Anyway" button.

All this is very scary and very few people are probably going to install after seeing this.  What is going on here?

Microsoft, in their incredible stupidity, is simply blocking the file because it hasn't been downloaded enough.  Note that the security scan didn't find any viruses or malware, it is just that the file hasn't been downloaded enough to suit Microsoft.  It is a way that Microsoft is using to try to block malware.  Except it does nothing to block malware (I doubt not a single malware has ever been really stopped by this), all it does is make life difficult for small developers.

I had never seen this before, so I did some searching.  I found this What is this 'FILE is not commonly downloaded' which explains it a little bit.  Apparently SmartScreen builds a reputation for each file.  Until the file has been downloaded some number of times, this message comes up.  In my case, it ended up taking over a day and hundreds of downloads before the message went away.

But I wondered, why had I not seen this before?  I update my files all the time.

Then there is this: Renewed Code Signing Certificate Not Trusted by SmartScreen Filter.  So the system doesn't build the reputations by file, but rather by the digital certificate that signs the files.  Each file signed by the same certificate builds the reputation for that certificate.

But here is the thing: certificates expire.  Often in as little as a year.  So every time you renew a certificate, you have to build a new reputation for it.  As explained in the comments in that link, this is insanely stupid.  The reputation should carry over to the renewed cert, but as also made clear in those replies, Microsoft doesn't give a damn about small developers and has no interest in changing their stupid system, even though it probably hasn't stopped a single malware, while damaging legitimate small developers.

So this explains why this happened to me yesterday.  I had just renewed my certificate because the previous one expired, so I had to build reputation again from zero.  And apparently it takes a lot of downloads (and possibly time) to do it, although Microsoft doesn't say what their criteria are, so everything is just a guess.

Fortunately, my new certificate is for 3 years, so I won't have to worry about this again until 2020.  And when that happens, I have a new item on my new certificate checklist: sign an insignificant file or two with the new cert and give it downloads until the stupid message goes away, before ever using the new cert for an important file.

Anyway, happy downloading now that things are back to normal.

 

 



October 18, 2017


New Pretty Good Solitaire for Windows v17.2 with 960 Games

from A Shareware Life

A new version of Pretty Good Solitaire for Windows is now available!

Version 17.2 is available for download.

Here is what is new:

-- Version 17.2 contains 10 new FreeCell type and Addition type games, bringing the total number of games to 960.

-- Various small bug fixes, help file typo fixes, and improvements.


TO DOWNLOAD
You can click here to download Pretty Good Solitaire version 17.2 . Or, if you have a previous version installed,  you can run the game, go to the Internet menu, and select "Download Latest Version". Be sure to exit the game before you install.



October 15, 2017


Episode 481: Portal’s Huge Success

from Casual Gamer Chick

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This week’s Gaming Flashback has no cake — instead it’s the history of Portal. The guys try to keep the podcast meme-free as they discuss Valve’s first person puzzle platformer.

There’s also non-Portal related news items, too:

  • Chris Avellone may be teasing a new Fallout game
  • Street Fighter 5 will finally get an arcade mode in 2018
  • The SNES Classic has been hacked
  • Telltale patch removes assassinated ambassador from Batman: The Enemy Within

Let us know what you think in the Comments section.

This week’s Gaming Flashback has no cake — instead it’s the history of Portal. The guys try to keep the podcast meme-free as they discuss Valve’s first person puzzle platformer. There’s also non-Portal related news items, too: Chris Avellone may be teasing a new Fallout game Street Fighter 5 will finally get an arcade mode in 2018 The SNES Classic has been hacked Telltale patch removes assassinated ambassador from Batman: The Enemy Within Let us know what you think in the Comments section.



October 10, 2017


Shadowhand Dev Diary #26: Quest to Avalon

from Grey Alien Games

Click here to wishlist Shadowhand on Steam!

The isle of Avalon is the legendary and magical place where King Arthur’s sword Excalibur was forged, and where he retreated, wounded after battle. Many believe that Glastonbury in Somerset is the Avalon of legend: archaeologists have found Dark Ages artefacts and burials here, and 12th century monks dug up what they claimed to be Arthur’s remains, adding weight to the theory.

Glastonbury Tor is a small, steep hill jutting out above the flat and once marshy fenland of the Somerset Levels, its landmark tower visible for miles around is all that remains of a mediaeval church toppled by an earthquake. The entire landscape is steeped in mysterious legends and fascinating archaeology. It is obviously the ideal setting for a quest…

Shadowhand’s Avalon
As part of her story arc, Lady Cornelia Darkmoor, aka Shadowhand, is sent on a mission to gather information from a knowledgeable ostler at the coaching inn on the far side of the marsh.

Willow has been grown and harvested on the Levels for centuries. The willow trees in our image have been pollarded, perhaps by someone like our character, Guin, using a billhook:

These days the Somerset Levels are mostly dry, but winter flooding has always been an issue in this low-lying landscape, which was once underwater. In the late 18th century when Shadowhand passed through, efforts had been made to drain some parts of the Levels. But it is safe to say that much of it would have been damp and boggy, and so hazards for passing travellers include bloodsucking leeches and toxic marsh gas:


Agricultural tools
There’s always been a tradition of people who work the land using their agricultural tools to defend themselves. Gwen is an Avalon character who is using her axes to gather firewood…but she won’t hesitate to use them on her enemies, either!

These characters are part of the second wave of enemies that we are currently adding to the later levels in the game. We’ll show you some more in our next post.



October 09, 2017


Enchanted Kingdom: A Stranger's Venom Review

from Casual Game Guides

In the Enchanted Kingdom: A Strangers Venom, you’re a respected and honored healer who has been invited to the theatre, and once there, find there’s shenanigans going on. What should be a relaxing, rewarding time is one fraught with danger and intrigue. 



» Enchanted Kingdom: A Stranger's Venom Walkthrough & Forum

» Enchanted Kingdom: A Stranger's Venom Free Trial & Related Games



October 08, 2017


Haunted Hotel XV: The Evil Inside Walkthrough

from Casual Game Guides

Our Haunted Hotel XV: The Evil Inside Collector's Edition Walkthrough is prepped and ready to welcome you into the Alexander Valentine Hotel, where guest check in and end up getting a permanent stay! As part of the crew of a paranormal television show you look forward to your latest adventure; that is until you realize that your cousin and the rest of the crew have all become part of the lore of this creepy hotel. It is up to you to stay alive and attempt to resolve this creepy mystery of paranormal phenomenon. Be careful when you check in - because you may permanently check-out!



» Haunted Hotel XV: The Evil Inside Walkthrough & Forum

» Haunted Hotel XV: The Evil Inside Free Trial & Related Games



October 05, 2017


Episode 480: Psychonauts

from Casual Gamer Chick

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As the episode title would imply, this week’s Gaming Flashback is Psychonauts, with Jonah revealing he’s a total fanboy and backed the sequel for over $800. He also has no idea what Oxenfree is, since he hadn’t played it yet. (He has, and realizes he was completely wrong about it being like Cabin in the Woods.)

The news:

  • Captain Falcon was almost the mascot of the SNES
  • Hackers have already infiltrated the Call of Duty: WWII open beta
  • Assassin’s Creed: Origins‘ non-violent discovery tour update wants to teach you history

Let us know what you think.

As the episode title would imply, this week’s Gaming Flashback is Psychonauts, with Jonah revealing he’s a total fanboy and backed the sequel for over $800. He also has no idea what Oxenfree is, since he hadn’t played it yet. (He has, and realizes he was completely wrong about it being like Cabin in the Woods.) The news: Captain Falcon was almost the mascot of the SNES Hackers have already infiltrated the Call of Duty: WWII open beta Assassin’s Creed: Origins‘ non-violent discovery tour update wants to teach you history Let us know what you think.



October 04, 2017


New Pretty Good Solitaire Mac Edition v3.4

from A Shareware Life

Pretty Good Solitaire Mac Edition version 3.4 with 700 games is now available.

This version updates the game for macOS High Sierra (10.13).  If you plan to update to High Sierra or have already updated, we recommend you download
this latest version.

If you are still using Mac OS X Yosemite (10.11) or earlier, I highly recommend updating to this new version prior to updating to macOS High Sierra. Versions of Pretty Good Solitaire prior to version 3 will not work in Sierra or High Sierra.

This version also fixes a few bugs in individual games, such as Great Wheel.

If you have the full version installed, load the game, go to the Internet menu, select "Download Latest Version" to update. 



October 03, 2017


Shadowhand Dev Diary #25: New Levels and particle effects

from Grey Alien Games

Click here to wishlist Shadowhand on Steam!

New Levels

Helen has been editing lots of levels to get them ship-shape for the final game. This means running the automated AI test system to make sure they aren’t too easy or too hard, and it also involves making them look nice and be interesting to play.

After she has a bunch of them ready we review them and pick out the most suitable ones for duels and puzzle hands and then make further edits to add in the new locks types I recently coded, and to add in hidden crates of goodies or goal items.

The screenshot above is from a new level on chapter 6. Notice how there are are groups of blue “dark cards” that you must clear by unlocking the top one with a lantern. It’s a cool new mechanic I came up with at about 2am recently. I was so excited to tell Helen about it but she was asleep, then I couldn’t sleep because I was all hyped :-)


(click to enlarge)

Level Editor

I’ve also made lots of improvements to the built-in level editor so that Helen can manipulate groups of cards easier and in more interesting ways. This has already paid off with some great new layouts.

I love making level editors and would like to make a bunch of levels now instead of coding, but that’s Helen’s job!

Improved Suit Lock Graphics

I added suit locks to the game a while ago (they are like Regal Locks from Regency Solitaire but you unlock them by playing cards of the correct suit instead).

However, when editing levels recently I realised that the inside of the frame needed a shadow to help separate it from the underlying card. I also put a shadow on the lower and right edges of the suit lock so it appears more bulky. These are the kind of little details that help the readability and beauty of a game that I probably shouldn’t be spending time on right now, but I can’t help it.

New Lock Particle Effects

I coded particle effects for the new locks including: gunpowder barrel, goal bars, grave, hedge, and thorns. The screenshot above is what you see when you dig up a grave with a shovel!

Magistrate’s Gavel

I also finished off the code for the Magistrates Gavel which can be used to smash off a selected card and two more random nearby cards. It’s pretty cool.

Misc Stuff

Some mores stuff I got done:
- Coded gunpowder barrel to make face up cards fall off within a certain radius.
- Sent final art list to artists. This is for crate items, large locks, gunpowder barrel, new keys and some other minor bits and bobs.
- Plugged in a grave digging sound from Powerup Audio.
- Tooltips for new keys/locks.
- Edited found item messages.
- Fixed a bug with Branding Iron ability. It didn’t count down the suit lock when changing to a wildcard.
- Added support for crates to not just be on the bottom layer so that they can be mixed in with cards now.

Next up: MOAR LEVELS!



October 01, 2017


Episode 478: MissingNo #1

from Casual Gamer Chick

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For some reason, this episode was never uploaded, though it was recorded two weeks ago. The Gaming Flashback is Mass Effect, and the news includes:

  • After the fall update, development on Battleborn will cease
  • Every Nintendo Switch may contain a hidden copy of NES Golf
  • Divinity: Original Sin 2 boasts over 75,000 concurrent players on Steam
For some reason, this episode was never uploaded, though it was recorded two weeks ago. The Gaming Flashback is Mass Effect, and the news includes: After the fall update, development on Battleborn will cease Every Nintendo Switch may contain a hidden copy of NES Golf Divinity: Original Sin 2 boasts over 75,000 concurrent players on Steam



September 29, 2017


Phantasmat: Insidious Dreams Review

from Casual Game Guides

Phantasmat Insidious Dreams is a delightfully mysterious hidden objects game. You are the main character and have been in a car accident and lost your memory. Thankfully, your husband is there to whisk you away to a farmhouse to recover. You rest, but soon disturbing events occur and you find yourself wrapped in an eerie mystery.



» Phantasmat: Insidious Dreams Walkthrough & Forum

» Phantasmat: Insidious Dreams Free Trial & Related Games



September 27, 2017


iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra

from A Shareware Life

iOS 11 was recently released.  All of our iPad games are working fine on iOS 11, there have been no reported issues.

macOS High Sierra was just released yesterday.  At this point, we have received no reports of issues with any of our Mac games in High Sierra.  Given that High Sierra has a completely new file system, holding off to upgrade to High Sierra until there have been a couple of bug fix updates to it seems prudent.

Note that there were issues with our games with Sierra - old versions of our games (older than 3 years or so) will not work in Sierra, and so presumably will also not work in High Sierra.   For Pretty Good Solitaire Mac Edition, make sure you have at least version 3.0 before updating to Sierra or High Sierra.  The current version is version 3.3.

There will be a new version of Pretty Good Solitaire Mac Edition very soon.

 

 



September 25, 2017


Shadowhand Dev Diary #24: Balancing and new locks & keys

from Grey Alien Games

Click here to wishlist Shadowhand on Steam!

Since the last post we’ve mostly been designing and implementing some new lock and key types for the game. That’s gone well and they are nearly done – more on that below. But we’ve also done a bunch of other things.

Balancing Ability Card Charges

The image above shows all the active and passive abilities available in Shadowhand. The active ones require charging by removing playing cards from the tableau before they can be used.

The required charge varies from 40 to 70 which basically means somewhere between one and two hands of cards. I spent a while working out their relative strengths before setting these values. If you boost your willpower chracter stat you can make them charge faster, which can definitely come in handy.

Character Stats

Speaking of character stats (see image above), I also spent some time evaluating the relative effectiveness of our game’s unusual list of character stats and then balancing them. These stats don’t directly affect combat like most RPGs, they affect the cards instead.

I’ll still need to run some tests on the active/passive abilities and the character stats later on to check that my balancing guesstimates are OK.

Gold crate

A recent small addition to the game is to have a gold crate which is hidden under cards. It won’t occur very often but will be a nice treat when it’s found.

New story/goal items

The main bulk of last week’s work was designing story/goal items to uncover under cards, and some new locks and keys to add flavour to the game (more on locks and keys below). The wanted posted above is an example of a story/goal item. The story/goal items occur on specific chapters and are mostly related to the plot except for a special bonus item…


The image above contains placeholder art

New keys and Locks

Some of the new locks and keys are related to the plot and only occur on specific chapters, but others have been designed to be resued on several chapters such as the lantern and dark card, and the torch and gunpowder barrel.

Notice that we’ve also added some large locks to the mix. These will cover lots of cards and so will force the player to complete one half of the tableau first before they can proceed. Also we can hide cool things under them like crates of gold, potions, bombs and story/goal items.

Misc stuff

Here’s all the other stuff we got done:
- Reviewed the story to make sure it all makes sense.
- Added support to game and level editor for new lock/key types.
- Plugged all the new story/goal items into the game and coded goals for them.
- Wrote found item messages for the new story/goal items.
- Set placeholder goals for all the chapters in the game. I’ll balance these later.
- Plugged all the new lock/key types into the game and made them work except for particle effects.
- Added in placeholder sounds for new lock/key types. Probably most of them will be final.
- Coded lantern with overlay glow under mouse pointer when carrying lantern.
- Added particle effect for using lantern on dark card.
- Changed Prosperity stat to a chance to double gold award from under card piles.
- Made sure retrying or quitting a training chapter removes the training.
- Fixed a rare bug with using Charging Stallion on last card in a duel layout. Found by a beta tester!
- Changed the way “new” stars work on inventory tabs. They now clear as soon as the tab is viewed even if you haven’t checked out all the new items on that tab.
- Made new weapon base cards with “damage” label on them to make it clearer.
- Added page up/down to level editor to cycle through levels linearly.



September 22, 2017


The Keeper of Antiques: The Last Will Walkthrough

from Casual Game Guides

Jump into the latest and greatest hidden objects adventure out there. Use our Keeper of Antiques: The Last Will Collector's Edition Walkthrough to help you solve this case of the mystery and intrigue as you uncover the forces behind the disappearance of an entire building, its inhabitants and the people around it. Celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the town of Netville came to a frightening halt when a mysterious artifact prompts these random and abrupt disappearances. Help ease the fear of the town before becoming a victim yourself. Turn to us and our simple instructions and vibrant screen caps that will help you wrap this case up in a jiffy. We have included mini game & hidden object area solutions to help you when challenges abound.  

We hope that you enjoy our Keeper of Antiques: The Last Will Collector's Edition Walkthrough.



» The Keeper of Antiques: The Last Will Walkthrough & Forum

» The Keeper of Antiques: The Last Will Free Trial & Related Games