Happy New Year ! (2015)

I suppose in the grand scheme of things, taking a prolonged break from blogging isn’t such a bad thing, but it does feel like a loss. I don’t know when I’ll get proper internet back and I’m not managing to blog without it. Yes I can go and sit in a cafe. I’m not finding the time. White flag then – I surrender. For now.

Anyway I’ve managed to get it together to do a blog today. Jolly glad to see the back of 2014 which was full of ghastly details accumulating to a generally repulsive whole. Personally I was busy enough to be insulated from every frightful little detail for which I am hugely grateful. I did enjoy the Scottish Referendum, because it got people thinking, moving and challenging – an effect which has not died down at all. Still plenty going on on that front!

I carried on with the Graet Declutter, and am now on more granular, finer details – and a few biggies that have proven hard to shift. I took more not v good photos & getting better at that. I learned some coding, some graphics, some stuff about the equipment I already accumulated – learning phase now approaching an end. Well not so much an end as a gradual blending into being more creative which brings neatly to the first thing I’m looking forward to in 2015 – less nose to grindstone this year. Oh, and about time too !!

2015 does promise to be exciting, not in a planned way, but just as events move in the world. I feel pretty wooly about what I’ll achieve in 2015 because the last year was so disrupted in every conceivable way, so I’ve got into the mindset of just fielding what comes along, returning when I can to the greater plan, such as it is. I don’t think it’s time to shake that mindset yet. We’ve got a weirdie General Election in May in Britain and who knows what the poor electorate will have to endure before during and after that lot. They’ve certainly had an assault the past 4 years. I’ll stick with fielding the crises, I do think.

(The woolly plan consists of preparing for retirement as best I can, quick sum up. Quite a lot is ok, some isn’t, I started thinking about it early and putting things in place early which will probably have been a good thing when I get there, if I’m spared. I’m happy with that plan. World domination it ain’t but it suits me fine.)

As for gaming, well I’ve not played anything online for some months. Only just starting to miss it now, and not that much. It’s a bit naggy and hoopy. Once you’re logging in to some company,  it’s yapping for money, or you have to do/be this & that  before getting to satisfying gameplay. I have been exploring the world of single player games, mostly old ones which are lovely and cheap. (Uneasy acceptance of Steam continues.) And I play some new games too – if I thought for a minute that I’d be online more, I’d promise to blog about them, but as things stand I don’t think so, so I’m not making that promise.

So, it remains to wish all readers who still somehow miraculously follow this blog A Very Happy 2015!

It promises to be an interesting year, full of changes, not all peaceful (they never are all peaceful). Anyway we have no choice but to live through it, and only a little luck is needed for it to bring some much needed freshness into our outlook. Heaven knows 2014 was full of stale, dull mindsets.  Don’t know what it was like where you were but here it was some kind of groundhog year, a state that will end if for no other reason that running on the same tracks in a futile circle endlessly gets profoundly boring, and humanity doesn’t do boring very well 🙂

Categories: Uncategorized

Disruption upon Disruption (the journey back to online)


The temptation to apologize for not blogging as much as I want to is so overwhelming that I’m going to give in – I’m sorry, I really am. There has been (yet) another disruption (- two disruptions if you count the Scottish Referendum, which was totally amazing.)

It’s not (thankfully) another house move that’s blocking my blogging this time. No, this time and perhaps worse – NO INTERNET!
I hear you gasp, sympathetically (I hope). Yes, suddenly on 2 September, the internet as I know it in my building died and will remain dead until, well, it’s a long story and boring unless you have an interest in risers.

It took the usual few weeks to find out what was going on, and then the fun started (I don’t mean sarcastic fun, I’ve enjoyed this). Our riser issue, serious though it is, will be fixed in the fullness of time. The enjoyment has been in finding ways to still have an online life.

This blog post is therefore a triumph! Much more has gone into it than just the words. I’m thoroughly delighted to have had this experience, because it’s furthered one of my aims. Something I wasn’t intending to tackle just yet but it was on the to do list. And that’s to be able to function/work/write/doallmystuff anywhere in the world.

It wasn’t on the agenda for now because, apart from I can’t afford travel the world is not remotely peaceful, and we’re seeing the spread of Ebola too. It’s a rubbish time to be crossing borders and an even worse one for visiting other cultures. Fear and distrust are everywhere and rightfully so. Neither war nor disease can be taken lightly, people seek the protection of their own. So I wasn’t planning to travel and I wasn’t too worried about being online-and-mobile.

But I’m bothered about whether I’m online at all.

So I’ve been having a great time (quack)(don’t worry about the duck will explain later) finding workarounds.

This blog post is being written offline for a start – a habit I kept meaning to get into since it allows me to have a safe, easily accessible archive of my posts. I like WordPress lots, but last time I looked I couldn’t export my content as an easy, convenient .doc. Writing offline also gives me a chance to read and polish – it’s a fault of mine that I shoot posts out at top speed and I think that’s it done. Writing offline is habit I’m glad to develop.

For the online part, I found out all sorts of things. I’ll be uploading this post in a while using a little EE device which gives me mobile broadband. (I call this my ‘brick’ – I don’t think that’s the correct name) I could be uploading this blog post from a beach, whilst sipping mango juice. I won’t be, but I could do it 🙂 !!

Said beach would have to be in the UK and have 3G/4G coverage though. In other words my day-to-day needs are now fully met. It took a while to find this solution and a lot of the other stuff I tried and found out is situationally useful. For example if I fancy a nice cup of tea and a bun (or a meal) out while I work on something, I now have my favorite places I could go that have wireless internet. The gym has broadband attached to the treadmill and treadbicycle, library (what’s left of it) has free internet. All that kind of thing, useful to have it all at my fingertips. Later today I may go and ogle the ships in Leith Harbour. I can be online or offline, as I will. Noice!

Having located wifi sources out there, my android tablet + EE box + usb keyboard + cover/stand = a small app-dependent internet-capable computer. I can’t work with things like Blender on the tablet, but I don’t need to be online to work with Blender. As with this blog, that’s offline work, can be done at home in fluffy slippers and anything that needs uploading I use the little EE brick/go out and find a wifi hotspot. Sorted.

The tablet also works perfectly for such things as logging into a remote server via pUTTY and interacting with that server – there’s a helpful thing. In fact there are only a few things I can’t do using just that.

The EE solution means I’m constrained by a data allowance (took a monthly plan but I’m sure PAYG is possible, and I’m sure there are other providers) and of course, the internet I have this way is slow. It works but it’s slow. Or is it. No it isn’t really that slow. Or rather it might be, but I’ve now discovered that my broadband, cable, supposedly the fastest available was in fact pretty inferior. I already thought that, noticed that speed-checks showed it to be very slow – now it’s proved beyond a doubt. Because with this setup I’m experiencing similar speed. Cost is less with the mobile broadband by the way.

Global trotting would now just mean finding local internet access, the rest is sorted. The tablet + keyboard minicomputer, the phone as emergency backup, the laptop for heavy lifting. A wi-drive for portable storage – all those. Numerous Android apps have been discovered that fill in beautifully for the bloatier Windows “standard” software while I’m out and about. The ‘brick’ can connect up to 10 devices (including our laptops) – I quite like it. It wasn’t too hard to find my way back to the internet but I still want to become one of those wizards who can do it all with a Raspberry Pi and some rubber bands – I’ll keep that as an ambition. Doesn’t seem to be strictly necessary for now. I’m kind of sad about that. On the other hand everything I’m using now works and works together.

I’ve not tried gaming.

And that’s because, to my surprise, more than a month has passed without my playing any online games. None. Nada. Zilch. Ok, I logged into Flutter on my Android, whilst on the bus (oh yes, another discovery – our Edinburgh buses now have wifi). Apart from that absolutely none. The fact that so much time has gone by without me really noticing the absence of big AAA, online games is telling. Clearly, I haven’t missed them.

I could presumably play them now and will try it at some point. No rush. Very tempted to do a great big long ranty list of all the things I’m not missing about the AAA games, but nah. They have decisively lost the battle for my heart, time and money, lettem go.

I can pick out a choice few of the things I’m not missing in some other post – and there are things I am missing, but I have to think about it to notice them.

Oh yes, the duck. I keep hearing quacking in my head if some company advertises a “great job” – apparently this has now crept into any usage of the word “great” as an adjective. Let’s try it. “Great Scott!” Hmmm. No quacking. Oh well that’s a relief.

Categories: Android, Things In General, Useful Things

Big Catchup Post Part 3 aka “the myriad” (don’t stop meh!)

I know said I would write about Neverwinter next, but it’s not part of the catch-up, so it waits in the wings…

What we lack in depth, in this house, due to time constraints, we make up for in range! Here’s some of what we played while all the upheaval was going on, with assorted comments. More or less the new finds first, like Don’t Starve.

I recently discovered I could give myself extra carrots in Don’t Starve, so I played it like that for a day or two. Only it doesn’t feel right so I’m back to normal carrots and dying on day 5 in fits of giggles :), which reminds me an awful much of Bluebottle Game’s NEO Scavenger which reminds me I haven’t played that in a while. I will do that because I seem to have a weakness for this kind of game which I never knew existed until NEO Scavenger, where you doi, you know you will, but you keep playing anyway. FTL doesn’t make me laugh as much, but it’s another one I’m feeling the need to play again. I think my playing is meandering more and more away from MMORPGs because another recent find was Skyrim, which by now you know I like very much.

There’s a knock-on effect from that. The wonder that is Skyrim has prompted a quest for other single-player games.  So far enjoying Dragon Age, but not found much else (so suggestions welcome) – on the other hand I’ve only just started looking. I know there are a lot of single-player shooty games (scuse my terminology) – ah remembered nos FPS – a genre I have yet to dip into. I did used to play a fab game with an orangey cover back in the day which I recently remembered what it was called and now forgot again. Well that’s not helpful, I know.  I’ll go and dig for it… ehm – Half Life! Ha,  anyway that was jolly good fun, and I see there is a Half Life 2, so that’s a whole playground, FPS, still to explore right there.

Talking about shooting things, I found Duke Nukem 1 and 2 on Gog – happy nostaliga day, and also Command & Conquer – more nostalgia. We finally go to to play Fez, now that we have something it runs on. One person attempted a straight play-through, but failed to complete after a couple of days. It’s a big game! I’m still on the starting levels. Also in amongst things we can finally play is the Secret World – that would be me. I like going and killing a few zombies of an afternoon on a weekend. Lovely and atmospheric, but if I’m tired the inventory management usually means I log out pretty soon. So not making progress really. Just go and play now and again. If I’m fairly lively. Another nice place to go is Firefall. I love the world, I love shooting the alien insecty things, I have no idea what’s going on. But I like it. Mostly this is me being lazy about keeping up with developments, and changes. I don’t – so every time I log in there’s a new bitty to learn. I don’t learn it, because I’d rather play, so I end up not knowing what’s going on, but – I still enjoy the play session so all is well. I find Firefall in particular to be one of my best stress-busters, in fact. And it has now launched, and is due a revisit – so that should be fun!

It’s quite interesting how not being able to put in long hours for “progression” has left me with games for various moods and purposes. I have no idea if anyone else plays like this – picking the game to suit what kind of relax is needed. If I’m really not wanting to do anything but pure play I’ll go for one of the buildy ones. Apart from the already much mentioned Uemeu, I recently found Windborne which is still in development. I’m liking that rather a lot. In that sort of section I also do have a copy of TUG, and played it but felt it’s still got too far to go to be comfy – for me anyway. I’ll keep an eye on. Not quite a build game, Banished can draw me in for a few tired hours too. There’s a more thought and strategy involved than in the buildy games, but it’s good for just escaping to another place for an hour or two. I don’t play it that often.  More of an occasional treat.

If I’m in halfway decent shape I’ll play a proper MMO. I failed to connect with Rift, but I think that might just need more time than I’ve given it. I’ll be trying that again. I’ve never played SWTOR yet, and I have it downloaded ready to go. Later today actually. LotRO, still relatively new to me, is a favourite. I’m quite happy to log in, enjoy the scenery and lore, perhaps grind (in a very uncommitted way) for an hour or so. I don’t think I’m ever going anywhere on LotRO, but who knows. I’m barely out of nappies in GW2 and there’s a particular reason. The time-limited stuff. I quite like games where it’s all there for when you can do it, rather than games where if you weren’t there it’s gone forever (its a barrier for me in TSW and Rift too). I feel meh about it all, and I’m certainly not living around games because otherwise I’ll miss whatever it is I’ll have missed. Then, having missed it, whatever it was, I feel even more meh about playing leftovers. There’s that. I never analysed it before. Good to know these long posts at least lead to some thinkings. But I shouldn’t comment too much on GW2 until I’ve played it more because Bhagpuss will be along and give me a row if I write something stupid :))

In general although I still love them MMOs are poor value for me right now. In, them, ambitionless play, leftover crumbs is all that’s on offer for the time poor. But I do still love them, for what they could be I think, rather than for what they are. Fallen Earth, however, I find a good one to be playing. The crafting (for once) is interesting. And getting better even. It has flaws, and being me I have to relearn it all again every time I log in having forgotten how everything works, but along with LotRO it’s a goto game. I like it.

Heh. I’m a complete pushover for housing. Can’t think why I left it this late to mention that one. Every game I can find with housing gets tried out and I continue to play (or at least visit regularly). That’s why Rift is still on the playlist by the way, to be explored properly. Housing provides an instant anchor, and I’ve no idea why it’s not used more by people who go through all kinds of hoops to get you anchored – (eg they will sink money into developing  guilds, realID tags, launch platforms, links to social media.) Could just put housing in. It’s also a terrific goldsink. Oh well, mysteries of the game-sellers minds again. So of course the housing games got played during the upheaval – there’s not that many with (what I deem to be) really good housing – Wurm, EQ2, and nowadays Wildstar. Well, they got played.

And another wall of text already! Ok I give up for now.

Categories: Uncategorized

Vanguard, CoH, SWG – a quick thought to keep the beancounters awake at night

You know, in their heyday, popular novels and film were thought to be of little significance and treated with zero respect. Not thought to be even cultural forms, let alone art. The BBC neglected and destroyed miles of early footage by not bothering to store it properly, footage that historians and film buffs and many others would give their eye teeth to access now. And who knows how many penny dreadfuls never made it to this century in any form. Dickens’ work did. Novel writing made it to art status, so did film. (Countless types of popular music were “horrible noisy modern garbage”  in their day, let’s not forget that either.)

Video games are absolutely and completely an expression of this era, being new (as in unseen before), coincident with rising technologies, popular, and expressive of our current preoccupations and visual tastes. In a mere 50 years the games that have been trashed will be deemed part of history.

People, with some distance and the passage of time, will also see more easily that they were things of beauty and depth, artefacts created lovingly by the hands of many  – and then ‘alive’ and developing through the usage of many because unlike film or novels part of this cultural activity, video gaming,  is the active and direct participation of audience. It is not a passive form. Without players, there is no game – you can see where this is going! It is to be hoped that code and assets will be at least preserved in a place of safety for the future.  But most likely, like that BBC footage it will not be, plus the technology will change making frozen, stored games unplayable.

The preservation of what we play now is pretty much down to the semi-legal efforts of fans, (via emulators, tributes, fan art etc) who will keep the code current. Companies, who could be doing their bit by donating information and what part of code/assets they own won’t help, because they’d just die of greed if anyone else made any money (basically). Well that’s fine, they’re doomed to be that footnote: “game was not profitable enough and XYZ Company closed it.”

So before putting on the chancellor face (Nigel Lawson did a good one) and considering VG, CoH and SWG to be good riddance to bad profit, I suggest beancounters play one of their ‘how rich I’d be if…’ games and imagine, now that the deed is done, how much money they have said goodbye to, 50, 100 , 200 years from now, when what little code and assets they bother to preserve is no longer accessible to them due to the platforms having gone dodo. Not accessible to them. But still accessible to those that salvaged what they could.

The game they thought they killed will still lurk in the corners and bywaters of the internet, alive. (It’s quite cool).

I’d not put any faith in lawsuits and copyright either. The games will in all likelihood outlast the company/person that ‘owns’ them, will be dispersed and all over the place (such is the internet) and finally copyright laws are such a mess right now it’s only a matter of time before some drastic revision and adaptation – they might not even apply. I rather think the games as a service model is rickety too and pretty sure that’s going to be challenged/modified at some point

Sleep tight now, beancounters 🙂

Categories: Vanguard

Goodbye Vanguard

Today the Vanguard Saga of Heroes servers go down for the last time, I’m quite sad about that. I had to wait to play Vanguard, because for a long time it wouldn’t run on my computer, but belatedly SOE put some work in, and then I could play it. I liked Vanguard a lot, I played it, and I’d continue playing it if it was still there.

I didn’t want to log in and maunder about feeling gloomy during the last few months. Today though, I logged in once on a random alt, and it was in time for one of their purple sunsets which seems just right, so last screenshot.


Fond memories then.

Categories: Vanguard

Devving for the 1%

(Edit: I’ve put 1%. Of course, I don’t know the exact %s except I’m 100% sure each niche of the gaming market is a small %)

I just had to stop my Big Catchup series (Part 3 nearly done) because I spotted this on Massively:


Anyone whose been reading in this blog knows it’s been an ongoing source of wonder to me that people who ostensibly are trying to make money use up so much development on a small group of players, but there it’s been for years and years! At time of posting the Massively post has 273 very interesting comments as the niches fight a rearguard battle and a good few people also say, “well, duh!”.

So what’s going to happen now? Now that the taboo has been broken and a mainstream studio actually said, “well heckit why are we doing this?” (not in those exact words).

For sure, it’s nutso marketing when the people with lives are also likely to be the people with money (a lot of people have to spend their lives earning it), and aren’t going to be all that hardcore (apart from that legendary person with 7 children and two full-time jobs who still raids 3 times a week at the top tier)(apart from that person, of course.)

On the other hand you could regard the raids/pvps/guilds/whatever as sort of like the clothes in a fashion show or the prototype cars that look all futuristic and shiny – both of which also cost a lot to produce, but garner good press.  Fashion Shows, Car Shows, Video Gamer Shows.

On the third hand (Im a Nalien), there is suuuuch a demand for each niche. Surely someone will be able to garner a profit going the full hog for each niche (thus creating a lovely diverse gaming ecosystem). Doing a playstyle wholeheartedly requires some courage though. Imagine a game which is only for raiders. Just raiders. No levelling, no frills, no crumbs for the solo or casual. It could be done! The press would be fantastic since you could really show your stuff in a catwalk way – and top price might even apply. Actually, top price might have to apply given the cost and the small player base. But what a chance to make a splash with the release of each new raid without having to worry about all the other players. I think someone should try it – any takers?

On the fourth hand (oh go on you’re used to me by now, surely) – imagine a big AAA title for the masses, no preferred playstyle, no sneering, no reserved shinies. Content focussed on real, normal people – the many. I can see it! No I can’t. I think elitism is very hard to give up. On the other hand (this will be the fifth) if anyone could de-sneer casual/solo play and make a really fantastic game for people-with-lives, I can see big, big, big shinies in many, many, many quantities. (Just don’t tack an elite on and give them the best stuff because that would be the same as what we have just now.)

Oh yes, forgot to put. People-with-lives might still be a vast untapped market for MMOs but it’s not a naive market. The opposite. People who handle their own affairs tend to be shrewd, so if anyone intends going for this particularly large, bigger-than-anelephant whalefish, they had better offer value.

Categories: Game Design and Creation

Big Catchup Post (Part 2) (Fun, fun, fun!)(+ wall of economy warning)

Before that person pops up and says “define fun”, I’ll answer. “No. Here is a definition of ‘arguing definitions’ instead: Arguing definitions will approach a point in the same way that repeating decimals do, they approach closure in increasingly smaller steps without reaching it. Forever.”

This isn’t an essay on fun, but it plays a large part and I don’t want to be stuck poking about trying to figure out what fun is before mentioning it. I will write on the understanding that if you know whether you like marmite sandwiches (or anything else) your fun-o-meter is working perfectly well and you should have no trouble knowing when you are enjoying anything, and should also be able to detect whether you are enjoying something so much that it hits the “fun” calibration.  There war not a definition in sight. And with that out of the way I launch!

Fun is pretty much the thing video games exchange for money and if the studios and publishers kept that firmly in mind, along with the not too difficult concepts “many people” and “fewer people”, they would make a lot more money with a lot less effort.

Illustration no 1 : Pvp is intense fun  for many people. Hardly anyone enjoys being ganked. Gank games can only make money by providing fodder, an expensive business involving (for example) making zones which are for PvE players who must then be lured to their doom. Good (not too ganky)  pvp games live forever though. I’m back visiting WoW. Not for the (post cataclysm) dismal levelling, but to indulge in some pvp. Guild wars 1 is still going because people go and pvp in it. Good pvp is going to bring in money, long term and without extra outlay because an awful lot of people get to enjoy it, compared to only the number of people who like to gank having fun.

Illustration no 2: Many people enjoyed Wrath of the Lich King, fewer people enjoyed Cataclysm. It’s safe to guess that zerging things in WotLK was fun for more people, I should think, and performing perfectly in Cataclysm was fun for fewer. But the costs to the company of creating raids would have still been there, whether they chose to please the few (and made less money) or the many (and made more money).

So it’s a fairly simple correlation to figure out, and I’m pretty sure people making games do recognise it at first. And then. Do  they get frightened by the sneering?  “Dumbed-down”, “casual”, “care-bear”, ring any bells? (Hey I got news for all you so-called hard-nosed business people. If ya can’t stare down a sneer because you can see past it to a fat bottom line, you’re not very good at business.)

There is also the argument that a branded name of hamburger is very popular but not good quality. True. Does fun come in graded qualities? You can force some system of measurement to the quality of fun, I daresay. I think I’ll leave that for the few people who think imposing a qualitative measure on “fun” is a worthwhile thing to do with their lives. Meanwhile, here in real, popularity is a pretty useful measure in video-games of how much money they will earn, just as it is in the hamburger business.

And finally there are the infinite obstacles, small and large, inserted into gaming in the name of monetisation. Fun, pretty much, gets lost in that mix. All too often the players and the game are competing for the same resource, a competition the game will always win – zero fun in that. This is structural and I’ll do a post later on it. Essentially: all the subtle variations of buy to win. The game sellers are always going to prefer that you pay them money for something over you play for something, and are in a position to nerf gameplay in favour of a sale.

Which brings me raither neatly to the fact that we’ve been having more fun in older games than in newer ones, something I’m sure a few readers will have noticed at the end of my last post. The newer games, the 2014-ish launches are absolutely not lacking in production quality. They are fabulous from that standpoint. And fun is not lacking either, but it’s gated. And that means fewer people, and that means less sales. Which is fine. A nice “interesting choice” for the companies involved. Bottom line though we’d rather fire up Terraria  here in this house than struggle with a thin economy in ESO. We’d rather romp about in EQ2 than battle to get FABkits in Wildstar, new and shiny though it is. It’s a pretty consistent thread of preference. We’re gaming, there to enjoy, and we play what delivers.

So here’s our current “Fun List” with all the fun parts attached and some things I found interesting bolded. You never know a strolling dev might come by and find an angle!

Skyrim: No surprise I’m sure. I love this game. I log in, I lose myself completely. I’ve got things to do and NPC’s to meet. It looks fantastic! I can kill dragons. I’m not simulating me. It has weather, I own a house (or three), Lydia is quite the most interesting pet I’ve ever come across, My wealth increases as I play, plus I get to loot treasure, or steal it. It has tales of epic adventure and intrigue. I get to use all the best weapons, the best enchantments and read all the books. There is no preferred playstyle.  Anyone who logs in gets to play the full game and play for all the best shinies.

Terraria: I already bolded this for Skyrim: There is no preferred playstyle in Terraria either. That’s probably a feature of single-player games really, where basically if you don’t deliver Fun (capital F) you plotz because there aren’t any other things to distract from the “client pays money, client receives fun” transaction. Terraria is also loved because: It’s deep, deep, deep. And because it’s quirky and funny. There is much discovery and exploration. I love that I can sit in a mud hut with a campfire while zombies batter the walls futilely to get at me – such a cosy feeling (!). It has atmosphere (and achieves this with pixel graphics). Crafting is completely relevant. I’m going to do a post on crafting rather than detail here but the essential is preffered-playstyles kill it. (Because if your raiders/pvpers/guilds/whatnot are getting all the good stuff, it leaves crafted items with no value.)

I’m still playing Wildstar but pretty much on the strength of the combat now, and unsub isn’t too far off. The addon that adjusts FOV helped my headaches enough to reach level 14 and I do have a house. It’s quite nice, all presets but cute enough, but there’ll be a struggle to do anything with it. I’ll be unsubbing for almost the same reason I unsubbed from ESO – stingy economy. In this case I can trade openly which is a relief, but thar’s a big problem Huge. I think I now know where all the austerity economists are hanging out. They’ve attached themselves to video gaming. It’s the exact same thing. Inadequate earnings, unavoidable and rising expenses. Unlike in real life though “austerity” in a game can be avoided by walking. I probably will. I do enjoy the combat in Wildstar – same thing as ESO in combat I don’t move like a slug while the mobs whizz around and that’s lovely. I think this game is pretty solid really and no reason it shouldn’t do well unless it… forgets to make sure that plenty of  fun is there for the many in it’s quest to captivate raiders.

I am not sure that describing Uemeu as a game does it justice. It is more like a toolset. It has, in fact, become a tool for me. In (yet another) post already written in my head, I’ll detail where we’re at with …Thingie (our long long long-term project). Briefly: there are apps and programs we use to explore ideas and prototype. Uemeu is the fastest way I know to for example, lay out a city, or check what the physics will look like when something happens. It’s pretty amazing and I’m totally enjoying watching it develop. But the fun part: it’s so open-ended. I have fun by sitting down for an hour or two and just playing with the infinite customisation. I can literally spend a week just fooling about with one composite shape (it’s been known) or a simple shape for that matter, or a lot of both. Or a world. Or portals. Or traps. Or miniquests. Or springs. Or all of them.  Or the new things. There are always new things. In as much as it’s a game, it’s a game where you build things. Worlds can be linked, multiplayer if not already fully implemented is possible. Sometimes the team run player-sessions where you can see this in action. There’s a lot to write about on this one, and I’ll be using that new patch as an excuse 🙂

And I’m leaving Neverwinter for the next post because this one’s pretty long, and I’d like to do some detail with Neverwinter, since it is the only game I know that actually gets the time/money relationship, amongst other things. It jolly well deserves a good look and a thorough pick-aparting.

Last words: Fun is subjective. This makes people who like things in boxes, and in measured quantities run for miles and miles, screaming and waving their arms! That alone makes fun a valuable thing.

Here endeth the second wall of text.




Categories: Fruit Salad, Game Design and Creation, Things In General, Vague Rambly Stuff

Big Catchup Post (what I played, where I’m at) (+ a lot of rambling) (Part 1)

Some extra news: Uemeu is due to release a new patch later this week – and it’s quite a special one,  judging by this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4xA1pRIH7Y. Woh.

I have 8 blog posts, I counted them, circling in my head like aeroplanes waiting to land. But before I embark on those, which are in fact all written with only the writing missing, I am going to gather all the small, disparate bits and bobs that are also sitting in my head marked (wistfully) “blog?” and do a Blah. Here it is then :

It has been an astonishingly busy year, but not much has happened. The busy is mostly people treadmilling harder and harder to stay afloat. Much activity, hardly any movement. People want to see you more often, more forms need filling in, whatever it people do, they’ve been doing it *more* for all they’re worth. Bless. Roughly every two weeks, something has fallen apart too. Cuts in staff do that. (It has taken over a year for some totally routine passport stuff to make it’s way through a backlogged system). Having to field the problems all this causes is death to productivity but wahey everyone’s very very busy so that’s ok then. Wee grumble there. Predictably everyone is also very very tired – punchdrunk I call it. So the summer hols are rolling in not a second too late. And with the make-busies all off their treadmills or winding down, space and time have expanded, and I can blog. Yay!

As always my sanity has been preserved and protected and safely girded in the Legendary Armour of Armourness by being able to log into a game when the day’s work is done. Gaming keeps my wits in and my countenance serene in a way that passive media just cannot.  Actually the passive stuff just induces impotent fury. One thing I won’t be blogging in detail about is the Independence Referendum here in Scotland. It’s little known, but the rules regarding blogging/tweeting about it in the run up to the day are very catch-all. So far nobody has cited them, but its Power with a capital p that this referendum is about, big wheels gnashing, not everything totally fair or square. On the other hand I can’t exactly ignore something so huge, so there will be general comments.

I’m pretty sure I AM allowed to say that the debate has been amazing. The debate really has been amazing. If you give people a whiff of democracy, they perk up no end! The main media has been using the tired Tribal model to report our referendum like some sporting event, (gnnnnh ! (err that was impotent fury)). I stay away. I can tell you faithfully from here, in the middle of it, on the ground, that what I’m seeing is nothing so infantile. I see people finding stuff out, thinking stuff through, and having lively interesting discussions about just about every aspect of our governance. It’s a privilege to be here at this time, and I get more accurate news from Twitter by now anyway.

My how I used to hate Twitter. But now it’s something I don’t think I could do without. Interactive peer-reviewed news suits me perfectly well. It’s fine. And it’s weird. I did used to sit in a chair for hours, idle, passive, watching like… it’s strange to think of watching TV now. What a peculiar thing to do. I haven’t unpacked mine yet. I haven’t watched it for think 3 years or so. It isn’t missed. The set itself is ancient too (pre-switchover whatever that was) and won’t be replaced.

No, Chickens, when I want relax I go computer! And the gaming’s been great. Added to that our long-saved for computer has opened some new doors. So between Twitter and video-gaming my sanity has been perfectly safe. And now I get to write about it too – truly life is wonderful! There’s a lot of ground to cover. I have been playing new games and old games and games that are still being made. I have discovered Skyrim! And I am totally besotted with it! And as a result I’m gradually reaching a grudging state of not minding too much about Steam. Which is now having a sale, so even more games there. I’ve discovered Android gaming. It’s been wild, I tell you, wild! And relaxing 🙂

I’ll start with the new games that I don’t intend to do whole blogposts about, but “I was there at the beginning so here’s what I thought” is what I’d like to write. Those would be Landmark, Elder Scrolls Online and Wildstar.

I played a little of the alpha on Landmark, and I’ll visit again when it’s properly launched. It’s very pretty, and looks to become a nice game, but I stopped playing quite fast – two reasons. One, having to hold the left mouse button for ages to chop wood – it made my fingers hurt.  I know there was a workaround (I could have adjusted my hardware) but I wasn’t gripped enough to do that. And Two, (this is silly) my avatar’s legs reminded me of milk bottles (thin thighs, big whitish sausagey calves). The mouse problem is maybe solved by now, at least I hope so. I’m not sure I’m ever going to get over the sausagey calves but I’ll try.  (I know it’s silly, but it was that thing. Where once you’ve noticed something it keeps attracting your attention.) When I was playing all the building tools and interfaces weren’t working properly yet, though some were there. I think mainly for this game I’ll try it when it’s done. It was ok. It is a pleasant-looking world and building is right up my street. I’m not sure about the procedural generation. I have a feeling the human brain needs a lot of elements to feel interested. I climbed hills to find more of the same, but then player-made structures will presumably change that, and give places a more unique feel. We’ll see. It’s on the “try a few months later” list.

I very much liked the Elder Scrolls Online. It does not have the visceral grip of Skyrim which literally reached out of the screen and pulled me into that world the first time I played, but ESO is a fine game and there were many things I really loved about it. Yet, I hit the unsub button. The economy is thin. Players earn little ingame coin and spend much. Inventory, mounts and repairs. As in real life, if people can’t thrive and survive on what they can earn legitimately they find other ways – I’ve never seen so many bots!

Usually one would manage to garner extra ingame currency via an Auction House, trading with other players, but in this game there’s a wall. At the time I was playing I would have had to belong to a guild which could then trade with some other guilds. I read that this is some notion about localising markets. Well, they are localised right enough. To the extent that non-guilded players are barred.

Well, I am a busy woman. I do not have time to join and maintain relationships in one  guild let alone five. Which meant (at time of playing) I couldn’t do AH trade.  And that last point was the Unsub.

My self-esteem just isn’t low enough to pay full price (and a sub at that) for a gimp. I am delighted that guildy people have a guildy game, but I won’t be humbly subsidising the preferred-playstyle anytime soon. At least not on a regular basis. ESO is on the “visit sometime” list.

I do want to play this. That’s because the weather is fantastic, the lore is huge and satisfying, there are critters! and I for one liked the combat. In particular I liked this about the combat: my avatar did not move like slug while the mobs moved like quickfish. Well, it did, but the differential wasn’t as big as is usual in other games. I found, that if I had been playing ESO then played another game, it was very very noticeable that the enemy got to move normally or fast, and I was moving. in. slow. motion. The ESO balance feels far more natural and enjoyable. I like this game. Pity I’m not the kind of player they want. About that “visit sometime” list. WoW is on that list. It’s been 4 years since I played it. I’m back now having a visit. As more games appear the turnaround takes longer. The “visit sometime” list is a bit of a dusty attic.

The third new and big game I played was Wildstar. I think Wildstar is going to be a winner. I’m still subbed but I do have a problem. I’m one of the unfortunates that gets a bad headache from the display. I like the game enough to have tweaked my graphics card settings every which way and later today I’ll try the addon that adjusts FOV but I truly cannot play it for more than 15 minutes without inducing a pounding, horrid 7 hour headache. Quite bad. The plan is to limp along until I manage to get a house (at level 14 I think it is) and then make a decision about whether to keep subbed. Mostly, and all importantly, the game is FUN. It’s engaging, there is plenty to do, and the combat pulls me in. It’s like “one more chocolate”, the combat. I’m playing a medic. My progress is slow due to having to stop after 10/15 minutes, but I’m definitely enjoying this journey and if I do unsub, it will be with huge regret.

I want to add that I’m not keen on the Wildstar graphics as they are right now (on personal taste grounds). But I’m also not sure how much (or if) they contribute to the headache issue. Cartoony is fine. I am absolutely loving how I feel as if I’m playing a Pixar type movie, but the palette is very strident indeed.  A house is always an attraction for me but got to say living in a 3d-but-flatter, neon world detracts. I’m not one for going home to a road-workers’-jacket coloured garden, or acid pink anything 🙂 Well, maybe I’ll surprise myself. I’ll let you know when I get that house. My tweaked graphics save my sensibilities from luridness, for now. But it is clear that some tolerances perhaps shouldn’t be exceeded when it comes to displays – something I was only dimly aware of before. I did know that flickering in some displays can cause epileptic fits, but never realised there might be other things that could be harmful. Live and learn.

Quick note: most enjoyed and regularly played PC games right now: Skyrim, Uemeu, Terraria, Skyrim, Wildstar, Neverwinter, and more Skyrim. Yes, besotted is the word.

Here’s some of the what I call the ‘Referendum Effect’. Instead of just writing this blog I ended up having a solid think about health and safety, since two of the games are currently uncomfortable to play and would cause me harm if I continue, albeit probably minor harm.  I think Health and Safety Regulations get bad press for foolishness, but I don’t trust any company to keep me healthy and safe. I want those regulations. If they are silly, let’s change them! Meanwhile I hope both Landmark and Wildstar get more comfortable to play. (Landmark may have already sorted the hold-down-left-mousebutton-for-far-too-long thing, I have not been checking).

Going to leave it there for now because this is already a wall o’text.

(and Saor Alba)





Categories: Fruit Salad, Oddments, Things In General

Send in the Inventory !! (grr)

Puh – leeeeessss !!


I’ve been playing video games for over ten years now and still, still! games ship and attempt to run their course without enough inventory. It’s irritating. It’s immersion breaking. It’s why I’m not playing x,y,z game. It’s a total pain in the ass!

See there I was on a rainy Saturday, time to play for once, and I started in The Elder Scrolls Online. Then after three inventory shuffles, which involve tediously logging into alts (alts which I don’t want to play yet, incidentally), I had enough. So off to Secret World where after half an hour I had to stop in the middle of something to deal with  – inventory. I like both games by the way. Would be nice to play them instead of inventory management. I heard GW2 is doing things with inventory and by then I’d figured out inventory was messing up gameplay, so off there. At least they are addressing the issue. Being new to Guild Wars 2, and having not even got a grip on the old inventory, the new one induced a sinking feeling – would have to watch a video to try and work out what on earth it was about. Watching videos isn’t playing either. But still, at least they’ve figured out that inventory issues cause people to go do something else. Another day I’ll watch the video.

I still had some Saturday left.

Of all the many games on my hard drive, only 2 could I think of where I wouldn’t end up playing inventory instead of the game. Where I wouldn’t have to stop in the middle of a dungeon to find a bank, vendor, crafting station. Where the stupid inventory wasn’t a constant obstacle. I went and played Skyrim. When my bags are full I can drop everything and come back another day to retrieve it at the end of a flower-picking odyssey. Not perfect but good enough.

EQ2 has the best solution. I have so much inventory there, that I can go and adventure as long as I like, right until I myself yearn for one of my homes, then to go and craft, sell, move furniture – hang stuff on the walls, until again the desire to adventure is upon me. They just give you loads of inventory and storage, problem solved. I have more capacity than I need, no interruptions to immersion. It is a pleasure to go and craft, sell, move furniture when I’ve had enough content, adventure and mayhem. It fits and feels natural.

So. There you have it.

Now, if only the rest of the industry would catch up.

Oh. And don’t think you can sell me bags. Why would I buy an inventory accessory for a game which I cannot play properly due to incessant inventory management? You think I’m going to reward that? By buying a BAG?


Categories: Uncategorized

Perfect Balance (new food blog)

You’ll have noticed my blogging is still sporadic – the best I can say for myself is that I’m more settled than I was. Going to try doing snippets now, to get back into the habit. And my first snippet is a real pleasure.

Balance is a tricky thing indeed, and when I see it perfectly executed I tend to sit up and take notice!

A good friend of mine from North Inde days on Wurm, I found to my delight, has started a food blog. I know full well I would have posted a link,  and placed the blog on my blogroll anyway, but when I looked at the blog which is about balanced eating and cooking, I thought, “hmm something special here – this is balanced in more ways than one”.

It’s the graphics, layout, photos (all meticulous and considered) true, but mostly it’s the food.  My first response was to salivate, my next to look at the ingredients, my third? Relief that even I could probably cook these. My stomach responded first! It recognizes a balanced meal when it sees one 🙂 And it told me very firmly that I desire this kind of food. The rest of the balance I’ll allow my friend to convey to you via the beautiful blog she has made,

every careful, delicious-looking, detail of it. Good luck Diesy!


Categories: Uncategorized

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