Free book for boys and reluctant readers
Reading is important
Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him. –Maya Angelou
Most adults would agree that reading is important, but many kids detest reading. Video games, devices, and TV are preferred entertainment and escape. They provide instant gratification. Reading takes time. For some kids, reading isn’t engaging.
I had this same problem with my son, so I solved the problem.
The classic stories I remember enjoying as a kid don’t interest my son and his immediate attention span. If he doesn’t enjoy the story from page one, he will not read further.
So how did I get my son to read?
I showed him how much fun it is to get sucked into a story.
Your book is amazing I can’t stop reading it – Joseph Young via twitter
Contemporary and Classic titles alike don’t interest many kids. Don’t worry, the love of reading is learned. We need a starting point. We need that one book that is just as engaging on the first read as the fifth, just like a really great movie that kids want to see again and again. A positive association with reading will make kids want to read more.
A love of reading is cited as the number one indicator of future success. My son didn’t have the desire to read. He didn’t care about the books I chose to read to him, and was overwhelmed with the selection at the library. I want my son to succeed, so I had to do something. Since we struggled to find books he cared to read, I wrote one. An epic saga about the things he loves. I put it in a world he loves and addressed the issues he faces in his life.
I just love your books I’ve been reading them over and over again. -Carson via twitter
But it’s a video game book
Don’t worry; it’s not a book about video games, nor is it a game strategy book. Flynn’s Log is a hero’s journey that takes place inside the Minecraft world that today’s kids know and love. The protagonist, Flynn, naturally flows through Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (builds shelter and tools, learns what to eat and discovers a digital friend) and faces questions about his destiny. He learns important life lessons about friendship, integrity, and trust. Flynn’s Log is good for kids without being boring.
Thank you so so much for the free ebook. My son loves Minecraft now with this book I can get him to read to me. – Jennifer Wilkins
Start your son or daughter on journey today, reading Flynn’s Log 1: Rescue Island. Free on available these devices and apps.
Why is Flynn’s Log 1 Free?
My son loves reading — finally. If you have experience with a reluctant reader then I know your pain and I want to help. I’ve seen thousands of kids transform with this book. My readers, who don’t usually read books during the summer, couldn’t put Flynn’s Log 1 down.
Good book I thought I would never read a book on my summer but I feel I’m gonna finish it soon – Multigamer 47 via twitter
Let this book change your kid’s life too. You have nothing to lose and an avid reader to gain.
Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.
I am giving away Flynn’s Log 1 free because I want to give you a risk-free way to hook your reluctant reader.
Please and I mean PLEASE, WRITE MORE! I absolutely love it! They’re outstanding books.
-Devon123321 via twitter
What are Books for Boys?
I spend lots of time with teachers and parents. I hear parents ask, “How do I get my son to read? Do you have books for boys?”
I wrote the Flynn’s Log series for my son, and this book is interesting for boys. However, the series is a non-stop read for both boys and girls, especially those who are interested in Minecraft.
The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.
What are you waiting for?
You have nothing to lose!
News for Parents of Reluctant Readers
Get Reluctant Reader Book News from Stone Marshall
Virtual reality has the potential to transport gamers into the worlds that they play in and the immersive medium is the perfect match for Minecraft, which sees players building their own unique creations.
During his September 27 video, PewDiePie found this out first hand as he explored his user-created world ‘Broland’ for the first time, and was blown away as it was brought to the real world.
PewDiePie loves Minecraft VR
After launching his game for the first time in virtual reality, the Swede was excited when he saw his horse Joergen and immediately went over to pet him. “Joergen! Oh my god! You’re so beautiful!”
In an incredibly wholesome moment, things got emotional when the YouTube star saw his faithful dog and sidekick Sven. “Sven I missed you! Give me hug. Awwww. You’re a good dog Sven!” Pewds said, bending over to hug the canine and pet him.
While exploring his base, he then saw IKEA tower and rushed over to it, looking up in awe at the beacon he created which towered over him as VR gave him a new perspective on the size of it. “Oh my god IKEA tower. It’s so big! You see this Sven? Oh wow, oh god!”
REDDIT: NOBILLISSPewDiePie’s iconic Minecraft world got new life in VR.
The YouTube king then kneeled down in front of the beacon of light, and gave a tribute to his in-game pets that had died. “I take a knee for my fallen angels… This is so cool!”
He then became overjoyed when he saw the giant Swedish Meatball statute he’d created for his base. “Oh my God, can I go up the meatball?!” he asked, checking out the travel passage he made.
Holding his arms up, the Swede shot through the center and to the top. “Yes! My dream is coming true! That was awesome!” he yelled in excitement.
(Timestamp of 01:41 for mobile viewers.)
PewDiePie has a lot to celebrate, as he is the most subscribed individual creator on YouTube with over 101 million subs, after he broke his 100 million sub milestone on August 25.
As his Minecraft series continues to perform well, with daily videos routinely hitting 10 million views, his channels growth shows no signs of slowing down, as the Swede finds new ways to entertain in the popular sandbox title.
After PewDiePie’s mind blowing experience in VR, perhaps he will make these a regular staple in the series. After all, he’s already slayed the final boss in the vanilla version of the game.
Minecraft fans can get a first taste of the biome update via a video detailing Badlands changes, including the addition of a new mob: vultures. Players are being given the opportunity to decide the next biome update at MineCon, and this first clip is just the beginning.
In this previous video adorable Mojang representatives Agnes and Jens let us know that each biome will have new mobs, features, and mechanics. We’re given very little information in their short clip so it’s down to the players to vote on which biome will be updated first so they can check out whatever these additions may be.
We now have better details of the first potential update, Badlands. The next possible expansion could include vultures, new cacti and tumbleweeds. The vultures in particular are of interest as they’re attracted to the loot of ‘unlucky explorers’ – hinting anything you might ordinarily be able to pick up after a death could be nicked. It’s also unclear if the vultures will be aggressive or just a general inconvenience, but as Agnes said, they’re ‘creepy’.BEST PC GAMING HARDWARE DEALS TODAYXFX Radeon RX 570 RS XXX Edition 1286MHz, 8gb GDDR5, DX12 VR Ready, Dual BIOS, 3xDP HDMI DVI, AMD Graphics Card (RX-570P8DFD6)
We’re yet to get any details on either the Swamps or Mountains, however with MineCon only days away, new short information clips could be imminent.
It should be noted that all these new biome updates will eventually come to Minecraft, this vote only determines which will arrive first. However we don’t know how long it’ll take for the next two to be delivered so perhaps a future update will let us know.
Minecraft has seen a massive revival in the last year or so, and it continues to expand an already substantial playerbase. These new updates will be a welcome addition for new and old players, refreshing concepts which have been with Minecraft for years.
As part of an art test for an application to Mojang, Sullivan was asked to “reimagine the look/style of Minecraft for a hypothetical new game.” Instead of turning in some mockup concepts as was probably expected, Sullivan “went a bit overboard” and developed an actual prototype for the imagined “Minecraft Tactics.”
Unsurprisingly, the concept fits Minecraft perfectly. As Sullivan points out in another tweet, the core task in Minecraft is gathering resources which suits the real-time strategy genre easily. The gifs posted to Sullivan’s Twitter timeline show off units being selected to fight one another and mine for resources. There’s got to be a “construct additional pylons” joke to be made here.
For part of my @Mojang art test I was asked to ‘reimagine the look/style of Minecraft for a hypothetical new game’. Instead of just doing concepts or something boring I went a bit overboard and just fully dev’d a Minecraft RTS prototype!
Will be posting more GIFs in thread!
Resource gathering is one of the main mechanics of any RTS – and what just happens to be the core gameplay of Minecraft? MINING! Therefore it was super easy to make this connection and maintain MC’s game ‘flavour’ but in a whole new way! Chop chop chop!
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Unsurprisingly, Sullivan landed the job at Mojang. Maybe this won’t be the last we hear about “Minecraft Tactics” then. With Minecraft already breaking into hack-n-slash loot crawling genre with the upcoming Minecraft Dungeons, it’s possible that Mojang is toying with the idea of breaking Steve and company into even more game types in the future.
We won’t count our creepers before they’re hatched, but we can wish Sullivan best of luck on whatever project Mojang assigns, RTS or not.
Character creation is finally coming to Minecraft, bringing more than 100 basic features including hair, eyes, different mouths, skin textures, facial hair, and body sizes, to the game.
Coming to Bedrock beta for Android, Windows 10, and Xbox One players, the character creator feature was initially devised for Minecraft Earth, but the development team “got so invested in endlessly designing our own weirdo hairdos”, they decided to roll the “frequently requested feature” out to the vanilla game, too. Right now the creator is only available on the aforementioned platforms by way of a beta test, but it is expected to roll-out to others soon enough, too.
“Using the Character Creator, you can personalise your avatar in a number of ways, including body size and shape, limb replacement and tweaking of eyes, mouth, hairstyles and colours, facial hair and skin tones,” Mojang’s Thomas Wiborgh said in a blog post. “Does that mean you can create a character that looks just like you? Well, to the extent that your lovely looks translate to blocks and pixels, absolutely!
“What about a blue, grinning character with piercing red eyes and a bright green goatee?” they added. “That sounds terrifying, but go ahead! You can even play around with animated textures in the Dressing Room, which is where you’ll get ready to hit the catwalk! Or, you know, to mine for dirt.”
While the basic creator will be available for free, there will also be a range of “custom accessories” that can be bought or earned via unspecified in-game activities and the character creator will be available alongside custom skins, not instead of. Mojang also assures these are cosmetic changes only and “will not make you stronger, faster or able to smell diamonds”.
“Are custom skins going away? Of course not!” Wiborgh added. “You still keep all the skins you’ve purchased, imported from Java (on a platform that allows for that), or otherwise collected. While you can’t bring classic skins into the Character Creator to further tweak them, there are two very notable exceptions here. You may know them, they go by the names of Steve and Alex. Feel free to start from either character, or a completely random character, to jolt your creativity.”
The feature will also roll out to Minecraft Earth – as well as all other Bedrock platforms on iOS and Nintendo Switch – once this beta test has concluded.
“Remember, beta features can be unstable,” Wiborgh added. “The reason we want players to try them early is to give us feedback and catch bugs for us to fix – so make sure to backup your worlds!”
Don’t forget, you can also now enjoy DuckTales themed DLC for Minecraft. The DuckTales adventure map includes “the show’s most iconic locations – from the city of Duckburg and the halls of McDuck Manor, to legendary locations like the Pyramid of Toth-Ra or the heights of Mount Neverrest.” You’ll also be able to “solve a mystery or rewrite history” as the three mischievous grandkids of Scrooge McDuck, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, or choose from 30 other characters.
Looking for other games like Minecraft? Here are 25 games like Minecraft we think you’ll love.
Condensed into the first few minutes of one of the biggest games of all time is the entire essence of a genre. Minecraft presents you first with a lush, almost infinitely large world, and then it allows you to instantly set about transforming it.
You chop down trees and dig down through dirt and stone, each tapped block and mined resource disappearing forever. But you also add to the world, reconfiguring it to your needs and wants: a small shelter to see you through the first night; later, a mountaintop fortress just to make a statement. At the same time, you’re advancing technologically, like human evolution played in fast-forward. From stone to iron to something altogether new and fantastical.
Since the release of Minecraft, which has an estimated 112 million monthly players,building games have risen to unseen heights of popularity. Players build cramped shelters from little more than mud and sticks in grim survival games like The Forest and Green Hell. In the online multiplayer Rust and ARK, ragtag clans build huge communal forts and bases. Being able to build permanent habitats even helped No Man’s Sky move past a rocky launch period.
JC Hysteria is a No Man’s Sky builder who’s made the most of the game’s complex building tools. Many of his creations are cooperatively constructed, and like his Marine Observatory or Space Station, they often stretch what the game is capable of to its very limits. For JC, building is less about setting up a practical base of operations and more of an artistic vent. “It’s a creative outlet,” he says. “I have a wild imagination… and building allows me to express that.”
But Minecraft and No Man’s Sky aren’t just about the freedom and creativity that the building tools bring. Unlike Lego, there’s an entire world and ecosystem (rather than just a carpet) to ground our actions. Building can be a way of reconnecting and developing a closer relationship to the surrounding land and materials. A lot of us are already estranged from these things in our everyday lives — we might even feel as though there’s something missing — and so returning to the virtual earth can feel immensely rewarding.
These are places where we feel like part of the world, where we can work with our hands and see the tangible effects and even the progress of our labor. This new wave of building games brings players closer to this feeling, thanks to a shift in perspective.
For most of gaming history, to talk about building was to talk about strategy titles like Sim City, Age of Empires, or one of the Tycoon games. But where once we strictly built from a zoomed-out, god’s-eye perspective, planning and looking down upon our creations from the clouds, there now exists the option for more embodied first-person experiences. Cities and shelters are still being constructed, but there is now a keen need for building to feel a little more hands-on.
Coffee Stain Studio’s Satisfactory is one example that encapsulates the shift we’re seeing away from top-down strategy games. In Coffee Stain’s factory builder, construction is planetary in scale. Buildings are skyscraper-big, complexes look like metropolises, and the twisting production lines often make you feel as though you’re trapped in a labyrinth. It’s easy to imagine Satisfactory being played out from a more strategic perspective. (Construction would be tidier and more manageable for a start.) “The first person perspective was picked because we wanted a more personal experience. Playing from this perspective really puts an emphasis on it being you who does things, and not just an avatar,” game director Oscar Jilsén explains.“YOU GET TO PLAY WITH MORE THAN JUST TWO DIMENSIONS.”
Jilsén also believes that playing in first-person “helps convey and strengthen the idea of verticality… You get to play with more than just two dimensions. Being down there in the thick of it allows you to experience scale in a whole different way. One of the best feelings in the game is walking down the walkways to get across to different production floors and then looking up and seeing the belts and other overpasses criss-cross the gaps.”
With the move from top-down urban planning to boots-on-the-ground construction comes a certain loss of control. Jilsén and his team appear to want you to feel lost at times, even insignificant when dwarfed by all of the surrounding machinery. But the closeness that first-person brings can be empowering in its own way. It’s about getting your digital hands dirty — procuring materials and erecting monuments in a more intimate and granular fashion.
In No Man’s Sky, one of JC Hysteria’s recent projects, Replicant Alley, which he built alongside players ER Burroughs and Action Pants Gaming, showcases a similar kind of scale and verticality. JC feels there’s “greater personal connection” with first-person games. “You can relate to your in-game character more and even begin asking whether or not you’d actually live in the place you’ve built.”
André Bengtsson, artist and CEO of Redbeet Interactive, was also willing to trade distance in favor of a closer perspective. For his survival adventure game Raft, Bengtsson says that whilst “a top-down view could very well be preferable for a building game focused heavily on management,” for him and his team, a more attached first- or third-person view was “essential” in helping the player become immersed in the world.
It’s not just about building, either. There’s a real desire to dwell and inhabit virtual worlds. In Subnautica, a survival game where you eke out an existence in the depths of an alien ocean, feeling at home — even if just temporarily — is important. Game director Charlie Cleveland tells me that it’s all about the “feeling of building a habitat. First-person is important to convey the emotion of what it’s like for you to build that new home.” This personal element is important. These aren’t just buildings you click and watch instantly materialize. There’s hard work and a process behind it. There’s also a far stronger connection to building when you can occupy them, even make them a home.
“The main loop in Satisfactory is to expand,” says Jilsén. “There’s this interaction with the world where you replace nature with constructs of your own — you convert the natural world into something appropriate to your goals.” Jilsén describes this transformative process as “converting the unknown into the (useful) known.” Many of these kinds of survival / building games drop you into dangerous and mysterious worlds, and it’s up to you to establish safe zones and habitats, places you can then go to launch larger expeditions. “As you do this you bring in the useful things you find to expand your home and its capabilities. Human beings are very creative and nurturing creatures, and we’re driven to try and make circumstances better for ourselves and each other.”“WE DIDN’T WANT TO MAKE A TYPICAL GAME THAT INVOLVED GAINING POWER AND TAKING THINGS OVER.”
Leaving our mark on the world is this very anthropocentric urge, but the power to change what’s around us can also turn destructive. Subnautica’s Cleveland tells me that it was important for them to not allow players to “exert their power over the environment. You can survive for longer, slowly mitigating your fear, but you can never dominate your surroundings. This was a very conscious desire for us. We didn’t want to make a typical game that involved gaining power and taking things over. It’s one of the reasons we removed terraforming from the game.”
Compare this to Minecraft, where whole ecosystems can be carved up and exploited. Dan Olson, in his recent video “Minecraft, Sandboxes, and Colonialism,” lays out the idea that these virtual spaces can “harken back to the colonial frontier,” with new regions unfolding simply in order for the player to explore and conquer. “The player arrives in the world, like Robinson Crusoe, into a terra nullius,” a blank slate which they are then encouraged to improve and where the native inhabitants are often obstacles in the way of development.
With Raft, there’s much more of an emphasis on salvaging. Its oceans and islands are littered with resources, but many of these are scrap or flotsam. Your creations — be it useful tech to help you on your journey or the raft-habitat itself — are an elaborate form of cleaning up, or at least putting previous human waste to good use. With all of these games, it’s worth considering exactly what your relationship is to the world you’re inhabiting and the precise effects your actions are having on the land around you. For example, Ecois a game where your building can cause immense and lasting damage to the world. Even Satisfactory, which eventually allows you to power manufacturing with nuclear energy, ensures that waste builds up and becomes an issue that players cannot ignore.
In all urban societies, there’s a growing wish to escape, return to the land, work the earth, rewild, and get back to basics. On YouTube, among the gaming celebs and popular makeup artists, there are the surprise-hit wilderness vloggers, building and surviving with what’s directly at hand. This same impulse to reconnect to nature plays out within the new wave of building games.
While Satisfactory is very much about rapidly building large-scale, high-tech structures, Jilsén tells me that during playtesting, they found it was important to have players begin with very little and work manually. “You simply appreciate the automation of item production more if you know what it takes to make each thing by hand.”“THERE’S SOMETHING ENTICING ABOUT THE IDEA OF LIVING IN THE WOODS OR OUT IN THE OCEAN.”
“The idea of returning to nature definitely relates to what first intrigued us about Raft,” says Bengtsson. “There’s something enticing about the idea of living in the woods or out in the ocean. At times we looked at wilderness vloggers for inspiration. We often try to ground our game in reality.” Like many of these building games, there’s a tangible physicality to both Raft’s crafting and building. Even in Subnautica, where the sci-fi setting necessitates far fewer hammers and nails, there’s still a meticulous clarity to the act of phasing in vehicles and modular habitat pieces. Just as you feel part of the world, the building feels material.
“It sounds like [wilderness vloggers] are tapping into the same primal urges as Subnautica,” says Cleveland. “I think there’s a lot of people today who feel overwhelmed by [the abundance of] information and todo lists… so they love the simple tactile challenge of survival at any cost. I used to know a programmer who would go home every night and do nothing but make bird houses. I personally spend a lot of time cooking for the same reasons. It’s just me, the ingredients, and fire.”
Jilsén agrees that there’s a real “longing for non-abstract work,” which is something that survival fantasies and the concrete building projects that take place within their worlds try to address. JC Hysteria tells me that, for him, building is a form of medication, his “own personal release from the world.” It’s about escape. Simultaneously, it’s about connection: connecting to the world in closer and more intimate ways as well as to other people in the case of multiplayer games like No Man’s Sky.
“There’s a quote from another YouTuber, CobraTV, that has always stuck with me, and sums up the community aspect perfectly: ‘we are a constellation,’” he explains. “The feeling of connection fills a void for many of us.”
It’s been pretty clear to anyone paying attention that Minecraft has been seeing a resurgence lately, but now we actually can quantify that to some degree.
This week, Microsoft has told Business Insider that Minecraft has rocketed to 112 million monthly players, a 20 million increase over the last time they reported those figures in October 2018. This is a game that is now a decade old, and more relevant than ever.
Other than “it’s good and people like it” there are any number of explanations for the recent explosion of Minecraft. There was a new update around the ten year anniversary that added a lot of new content. 100 million subscriber YouTuber PewDiePie is credited with bringing back the game in the “influencer” scene, with his channel practically devoted to nothing but Minecraft the last few months. And then there’s the slow fade of Fortnite as players transition out of that megahit and back into other games, Minecraft among them.
Minecraft’s rise is even more impressive considering that on most platforms, it isn’t actually free, unlike Fortnite. Though some may credit Microsoft putting it in the Xbox Game Pass as a move that has boosted its playercount further.Today In: Innovation
Fortnite seems to know that Minecraft is pulling away players, which is why we have seen the birth of Creative Mode in that game and continued devotion to building it out. But Minecraft remains the original, and should only keep capitalizing on its popularity with future releases like Minecraft Dungeons, which combines the original with Diablo-like dungeons and looting.
All in all, the refrain I keep hearing from Minecraft players is that’s a game people like to return to after a while away, and in this case, I think there’s kind of a snowball effect where so many people returned to it together, it felt like old friend groups could all rejoin the game at once and have as much fun playing now as they may have 3-8 years ago.
Microsoft’s $2.5 billion purchase of Minecraft felt kind of odd at the time, but they now own one of the most played games in the world. I am willing to bet that 112 million monthly players is more than Fortnite has right now, and possibly only is competing with mobile titles at that scale. It’s deeply impressive.
Expect Minecraft to live forever, and to continue to be relevant with upcoming releases like Minecraft Dungeons and Minecraft Earth, the AR play that will take aim at Pokémon GO next.
Mojang wants players to vote for which of the three biomes gets upgraded first.
In the lead up to Minecon Live, Mojang has announced plans to update three Minecraft biomes. Swamp, Mountains and Badlands are all scheduled to get updates, with “new mobs, features and mechanics” to be added.
More details about these updates will roll out between now and September 28, but in the meantime Mojang has announced that it wants players to vote on which of these biomes will get the update treatment first. This vote will take place live on September 28 during Minecon Live, which is a special Minecraft livestream.
It’s exciting news for Minecraft fans: while all of these biomes have received small iterative changes throughout their histories, it sounds like Mojang has much bigger plans afoot to make them more exciting. And don’t fret: all three will inevitably get an update – this vote is just to determine which comes first.
Minecon Live will also feature a bunch of community panels, ranging the social through the technical, and even more “juicy” news and update info will be announced during the stream. It’ll no doubt attract a healthy audience: apparently the game attracts more than 112 million players per month.
Robert is looking for a laptop that has a keyboard like an old MacBook Air
My son has grown up using a MacBook Air for Minecraft. He swears by the keyboard layout, and having witnessed the blazing speed with which he does things in the game, I understand his reluctance to use his Alienware laptop. (I know, first-world problems, and all that …)
Both machines are almost six years old and due a refresh, so I’m looking for a Windows laptop that is powerful enough to run games like Civilization 6 (with mods) but with a keyboard layout that is sufficiently similar to a MacBook that he can continue to use the muscle memory he has built up over the years. Does such a beast exist?
One alternative is to buy a MacBook Pro and use it to run Windows (either Bootcamp or Parallels), but the Windows performance strikes me as a compromise (for more money).
Budget is a maximum of £1,500. Would be more than happy with cheaper as long as performance wasn’t compromised too much. Robert
Take your son to an Apple store or a good computer shop where he can try a MacBook Pro, ideally running Minecraft. In this case, my normal advice – stick with what you know – runs into the problem that what you know no longer exists, unless you buy a second-hand laptop.Advertisement
All Apple’s MacBook Pros now have touch bars instead of function keys, and I agree with Mac fan John Gruber that they have terrible keyboards. Obviously, personal taste is a major factor in keyboard preferences, and I’m sure some people like the “butterfly” keys that have had well-publicised problems. Either way, they are very different from old MacBook Air keyboards.
Apple notes that “for some apps, you can make the function keys display permanently in touch bars” by changing the settings in system preferences, so this is something your son should try. However, I expect the new-style keys and touch bars will not map exactly to his “motor memory” so some relearning will be required. (I’ll go into a possible solution later.)
If so, he might be prepared to switch to a Windows 10 laptop for Minecraft. Windows is the main platform for serious gaming, and many games – including Minecraft – run better on Windows. Also, he’s young enough to learn to use a Windows keyboard with similar alacrity, which should stand him in good stead for decades to come. Older users can resist change because the relearning period is longer and the payback time is shorter, but that’s a bad strategy for a child.
I’m hopeless at Minecraft, and I’ve never played it on a Mac, but the main key functions seem very similar to other games. Normally, you move around using WASD as direction keys, which many people learned playing Quake in 1996. The right hand is best used for a mouse. (Playing action games with a touchpad is one of the punishments used in hell.)
WASD, the space bar and USB mouse controls are much the same across all laptops, so I’m not sure where the problems arise.
The obvious differences are in the four keys to the left of the space bar, where Windows and MacBook keys have different labels and different functions. For example, Apple has a Command (⌘) key that in most cases works like the Control (Ctrl) key in Windows. However, keys can be remapped to different functions.
Ask your son to show you which keys are used differently in Minecraft, and see if you can remap them on the Alienware keyboard. Sharpkeys may do what you need, without the complications of using, say, KbdEdit or AutoHotKey. There are several alternatives.
Ideally, you would have two different keyboard layouts that your son can switch at will, using the standard WinKey+Spacebar shortcut.
Another idea would be to use an external USB or Bluetooth Apple keyboard with either a MacBook or a Windows 10 laptop. This is better for your son’s long-term health. Put the laptop on a riser, plug in the external keyboard and he will be typing in a more ergonomic position.
There are plenty of Apple-style keyboards available from Apple and third-party suppliers. There are even a few with the mechanical keys that many gamers prefer, though they may not match the MacBook Air layout closely enough for your son.
Getting an Apple keyboard to work with a Windows laptop might be a bit tricky, but whoever ran parkernet.com (now defunct) created a zip file (AppleProKBD_v2) that enabled an Apple Aluminium Keyboard to work with Windows 7. The file is available from mikecann.co.uk, where comments say it works with Windows 10. For more information, see How to use a Mac keyboard on Windows.
Bootcamp or Parallels?
If you buy a MacBook Pro then presumably your son will boot into Windows for games that don’t run on macOS. In this case, Bootcamp should be faster. Parallels is wonderful at integrating the two operating systems, but it isn’t designed for gaming (despite the latest version supporting DirectX 11 and having a “games only” option), and you don’t need the integration. You’d be better off using a free alternative such as VirtualBox.
The drawback, as you already know, is that you get less gaming performance for more money.
If your son reckons a current MacBook Pro – with touch bar and butterfly keyboard – is usable, then the cheapest option is the 13in model with a 1.4 GHz Intel Core i5-8257U processor, 8GB of memory and 128GB of SSD storage for £1,299, without AppleCare. Increasing the storage to 256GB (you can’t upgrade it or the RAM later) increases the price to £1,499, which is just within budget.
What kind of gaming PC could you get for that sort of money? First, you can get an H-class Intel or AMD Ryzen processor, instead of a U-class designed not to overheat in an over-thin laptop. Second, you can get a dedicated graphics card, which usually makes a big difference with Minecraft. Third, you can get a laptop where not all the parts are soldered in or glued down, so you can upgrade them later.
What you can’t get for that sort of money is a very thin gaming laptop with long battery life.
Computer gaming is huge in Asia, so it’s not surprising that the three major Taiwanese suppliers – Asus, Acer and MSI – all have a strong focus on gaming. They have also been quick to adopt Ryzen chips. Typical examples include the Asus FX505DY (£649) and the Acer Nitro 5 (£679). Both have AMD Ryzen 5 3550H processors, 8GB of memory, and AMD Radeon RX 560X graphics cards with 4GB of memory. However, the Asus laptop has a 256GB SSD while the Acer has a 128GB SSD and a 1TB hard drive. (I’m linking to Currys PC World for convenience but other suppliers are available.)
Step up a level and you can get a faster Intel i5-9300H, 8GB of memory, a GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card and an SSD for £899. Options include the MSI GF63 Thin (256GB SSD), the Lenovo Legion Y540-15IRH (128GB SSD) and the Dell G3 15 3590 (256GB SSD, 1TB HDD).
Buying online, Lenovo’s 15.6in Legion Y530 gaming laptop starts at £699.99, but you’d obviously go for the top-of-the-range model at £899.99. This has a Core i7-8750H processor, 16GB of memory, and an Nvidia GTX 1050Ti graphics card with 4GB of memory. Storage is provided by a 7,200rpm 1TB hard drive plus a 16GB Optane accelerator in the M2 SSD slot, hence the low(ish) price. Later, you could increase the memory to 32GB, and swap the hard drive for a 250GB SSD (£45.59) or a 500GB SSD (£64.79), at Crucial UK not Apple prices. The M2 slot would take a 500GB (£64.79) or 1TB (£101.99) NVMe PCIe SSD module.
Dell’s equivalent is the G5 (5590) gaming range, which has moved to ninth generation Core processors. Prices start at £949, but the top-of-the-range model has a fast Core i7-9750H, 16GB of memory, a 256GB M2 SSD, 1TB hard drive, and a terrific GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card with 6GB for £1,279. Upgrade options are much the same as for the Legion Y530.
The specs make the Dell the best buy, but the HP Omen 15-dc1005na looks a lot more stylish. It only has 8GB but it’s upgradeable, its Core i7-8750H is a year older but the difference in performance is marginal, and you can get three years of pick-up-and-return service for £49.
If you want to look at other options, Ultrabook Review is keeping a list of laptops with RTX 2060 graphics cards. As it says, this is currently your best bet for laptop gaming at a reasonable price.
Have you got a question? Email it to Ask.Jack@theguardian.com
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Mojang announced last week that it will take a vote on which of three Minecraft biomes will get major new upgrades first. The vote, which takes place on September 28 to coincide with MineCon Live, pits the Swamp, Mountains and Badlands biomes against one another. As of today, we know a bit about what the Badlands update will entail.
In a short video uploaded to Instagram, the studio summed it up:
If you couldn’t be bothered watching the video, the Badlands update will receive tumbleweed, a “fancy new cactus” and vultures, which are drawn to loot “left behind by unlucky explorers”.
Of course, these are pretty scant details in a very short video. I’m not sure if the eventual update will boast more stuff than is listed here, but all we can do is wait until similar videos are released for Swamp and Mountains (Update: here’s the video Swamp, and here’s details for Mountains). These videos will release some time between now and September 28, which is the day voting will occur via livestream.
Of course, not everyone is satisfied with the biomes currently offered in the vote: demands that the Cave biome be revamped have been issued by the fanbase for years, as this tweet neatly sums up:
Hyped about our MINECON Live biome vote? So are we! Head over to our Instagram to learn more about our first biome of the three: Badlands!
↣ http://redsto.ne/badlands ↢
im still waiting
YouTube king Felix ‘PewDiePie’ Kjellberg gave his fans the old bait and switch in his September 29 episode when instead of playing Minecraft in 4K ray tracing, he went on a rampage in Blade & Sorcery VR using weapons from the popular sandbox title.
Mojang announced in August that they would be releasing an update for Minecraft on PC to allow users with Nvidia RTX series GPUs to enable ray tracing – which turns the sandbox title into a visually jaw-dropping experience.
However, despite teasing his audience with a demonstration of the next-gen tech, PewDiePie trolled fans in his latest video by playing Blade & Sorcery in VR instead and going on an insane rampage using Minecraft mods.
WARPFROG / MOJANGBlade & Sorcery is often modded to bring in weapons from other games.
Minecraft with “real life” graphics
After tricking his audience, the Swede began using his Minecraft pickaxe in the fantasy VR game, smacking it against rocks. “Wow it’s almost like the real thing!” he laughed.
He then spawned a diamond sword, and continued to poke fun of the hype for RTX graphics in the game. “Damn these graphics are so good! This is gonna change Minecraft!” The YouTuber stuck his sword into an NPC violently, killing him, and said “I’ve always wanted to do that!”
Things started to heat up when PewDiePie summoned one of his favorite weapons from his Minecraft series – the Trident. He began to wreak havoc by jabbing an NPC into the face with it. “Sit the freak down girl! I got the freakin Trident!”
The YouTube star held the weapon in the air before jabbing an enemy in the knee with it. Things took a dark turn when the Swede spawned a diamond axe from the sandbox game, and began to hack the legs off a dead foe. “Chop!” he yelled as he took off the limbs and then re-arranged them as his arms.
(Timestamp of 00:25 for mobile viewers.)
PewDiePie recently passed 100 million subs on his YouTube channel on August 25, making him the biggest content creator on the video hosting platform. His daily Minecraft videos have played a central role in his channel’s insane growth since June.
On September 7, the Swede revealed the 100 million subscriber Red Diamond Creator Award that YouTube had made for him after hitting the milestone. It included a letter from the CEO Susan Wojcicki who personally congratulated him.
As of the time of this article, PewDiePie has amassed 101 million subscribers, and is quickly on his way to break 102 million by October 2019.