Tuesday, July 19, 2022

If You Can't Stand The Heat, Get Into In The Kitchen

At the weekend, the Meteorological Office issued the UK's first ever Red Warning for extreme heat, covering London and much of central England. Today, for the first time since records began, the recorded temperature exceeded forty degrees Celsius, which I'm sure sounds like a balmy spring day to someone reading this but is quite literally unheard of here.

Over in the west of the country, where I live, we're only under an Amber Warning. Yesterday was our really hot day. I measured the temperature in the shade in our back garden at thirty-seven Celsius or 98.6 in the old money. Ironically, today feels hotter, even though it's not. 

When I was growing up I lived with my grandparents and my grandfather was very interested in metereology. He had a barometer and also one of those dual thermometers that not only tells you what the temperature is when you look at it, like all thermometers do, but also records the highest and lowest temperatures it reached when you weren't watching.

I have a very clear memory of that thermometer telling us the temperature had hit one hundred degrees Fahrenheit one summer but of course a) memory is fiction b) who knows if the thermometer was accurate and c) was that temperature shade or sun? 

As far as c) goes, I also have a memory of the same thermometer going to the very top of its scale, which I recall being around 115F, when I put it in direct sunlight on a hot summer's day. That suggests the 100F reading probably wasn't due to being it being baked in the heat of the open sun.   

If it did ever hit 100F, though, that would have been higher than the UK record at the time so I think we can discount my childhood memory, other than to say we did sometimes have hot days in the summer back then. Now it seems we're going to get them all the time. 

But you didn't come here to read about the weather. I imagine you came here to read about mmorpgs. Luckily, the two are connected.

Like almost all British homes, the house in which Mrs Bhagpuss and I live with our dog, Beryl, is not designed for prolonged spells of hot, sunny weather. We don't have air conditioning and although it takes a fair old while for the inside of the house to heat up, once it does, it takes even longer to cool down again. That's why, as I said, it feels hotter today than it did yesterday, even though the mercury has actually fallen.

Beryl, being a wooly kind of dog, does not do well in the heat. She's been flat out in a stupor from just after breakfast until just before dusk. Mrs Bhagpuss bought her a couple of gel-filled cool mats and a dog paddling pool, all of which have been very well-used.

I generally do better in the heat than Beryl, but these last couple of days it's been so hot inside the house, particularly in my upstairs study, which, with it's south-easterly exposure, gets the full glare of the sun for much of the day, that I've had to spend considerable time either in the kitchen, ironically the coolest room in the house, or outside in the back garden, where we have an enormous, shady apple tree.

Beryl also likes, if not needs, to sleep on her cool mat in the corner of the kitchen but she's not happy being downstairs on her own, which is somewhat problematic given our normal pattern of spending almost all our time upstairs, where both computers, my study and Mrs Bhagpuss's craft room are.

That's two reasons for me to spend more time in the kitchen and the back garden than usual and since I am normally attached to my PC by a virtual umbilical cord, I've found myself making full use of my Splashtop account. I've had it for a very long time, over a decade I believe. I downloaded the free trial out of curiosity and was so impressed I paid the one-time license fee as soon as the trial ended, imagining I'd use it all the time but until now I've logged in so infrequently that a couple of years ago I got an email asking if they could delete my account since I clearly had no use for it. Luckily I had the foresight to ask them not to do that and now I'm reaping the rewards.

I have an ancient Dell XPS laptop, probably getting on for fifteen years old, which still works perfectly well, at least after I replaced the HDD, but which isn't capable of running anything much made in the last five to ten years. It is, however, perfectly comfortable running the Splashtop app, which means I can use it just as though I was sitting at my desktop.

Consequently I've been able to sit in the relatively cooler part of the house and play games through Steam, play EverQuest II, play whatever I want. There's no appreciable extra lag or latency and everything looks and plays great. I haven't yet tried playing New World via GeForce Now via Splahstop to see what happens at two degrees of separation but now I've thought of it you can bet I'm going to.

Even so, there's another problem. I may be downstairs in the cool but my desktop, which is doing all the work, is still up there in the hottest room in the house. I'm slightly concerned that I might be downstairs, happily fragging some boss, while upstairs my PC is melting.

If this hot weather's going to last  - and according to predictions it probably is, if not at quite the same intensity - it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a couple of games I could play directly through the laptop itself. Older games would probably work but I'd have to download and install them, something I'm not all that keen to do. The laptop has a single, small HDD that's currently admirably clean due to the re-install and I'd really like to keep it that way.

There's an obvious solution: browser games. If a game plays in a browser it will presumably play on any machine that the browser will support. My laptop has both Firefox and Chrome installed so that's the first hurdle cleared.

Are there any good browser mmorpgs, though? Well, yes, there are. I can immediately think of two that I've played: Villagers and Heroes and AdventureQuest 3D, although both need a client download so maybe they aren't pure browser games after all. Others I've tried in the past include Drakensang, Eldevin and of course Runescape but I don't see myself going back to any of those. 

I certainly never imagined I go back to Flyff, either. Flyff launched all the way back in 2005 and since I seem to remember participating in some kind of open beta or trial it may well have been the first free to play title I ever played. I remember having a tough time with it due to lag but generally quite enjoying it.

I do know I didn't stick around long enough to take advantage of the game's signature feature, flight. Flyff is short for Fly For Fun, it being one of the first mmorpgs to offer players a freeform flight option. I've always wished I'd gotten at least that far. 

As luck would have it, MassivelyOP posted an item this morning, retailing the news that Flyff Universe,"the browser-based relaunch of the 2005 MMORPG that arrived this past June", currently has over 800,000 players worldwide. As of a few hours ago, they can add one more to that total.

It took me a matter of moments to get into the game and start playing. I didn't even need to make an account. You can begin playing as a guest and then either trust to your cache to remind the servers who you are or, if that feels too much like high-wire walking without a net after you've gotten a few levels under your belt, convert your guest account to a registered one so you can sleep easy in your bed at night.

I converted at level three. It only took a matter of seconds. Accessibility is the major selling point for browser mmos so there's no percentage in them making it any harder than it needs to be. 

When I logged out after about an hour I was level four and still in the tutorial, albeit thankfully also out in the open world, which was positively heaving with players. I'd had a good time, albeit mostly for reasons of nostalgia. Flyff World may be a remake but it's unabashedly old school. If you want a reminder of what F2P mmorpgs used to be like fifteen years ago, look no further.

It seems unlikely I'll make much progress beyond a few screenshots and maybe a post or two but it's an option for hot days when I'd rather not run the PC. Also, I'd at least like to be able to say I know what it's like to fly in a game called Fly For Fun...


  1. If your wifi is good enough for Splashtop why don't you just connect directly to GEForce Now from it, rather than going Splashtop to PC to Cloud. Be at least worth a shot.

    I use Parsec (similar to Splashtop) about 90% of the time I'm working from home because our downstairs is so much cooler than our office. We have a south facing wall and even with A/C it can get to 80F in our office pretty regularly.

    Side Note: I mostly lurk these days but it has been a delight watching you go from "Mrs Bhagpuss wants a dog" to Beryl being mentioned so frequently in your posts. :)

    1. Er, I meant "If your latop wifi is good enough..." - sentence makes more sense that way!

    2. Oh yes, good point about GeForce Now. It ought to work perfectly on the laptop - that's pretty much what it's designed for, after all. I should have thought of that!

      Beryl has been a resounding success all round. I have always been a cat person although I like dogs too, so I've surprised myself with just how quickly I came to welcome a canine presence in the house. I did have a dog before, once, back in the eighties, although again that was my then-wife's idea, not mine. It didn't go well. This time it's all going infinitely better!

  2. Just a quick tip from a land where 40 C are a common bugger: keep the sun out of your home. Block windows like a vampire and don't let direct sunlight in. A piece of cardboard taped to the glass pane will do ebough. Also, oftentimes it's better to not let hotter air from outside mix with less hot air inside your home, but YMMV depending on different factors.

    Just keep the sun out if your home.

    1. Yep, good advice. We had the heavy curtains closed all day in several rooms and those stayed significantly cooler. The big problem with hot weather in the UK is that most homes aren't designed for it. Everything is designed to keep the heat in, not out, so once the house gets hot it stays hot!


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