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 🙂

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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.

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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?


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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!


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Is an MMO blurring occurring?

Recently we heard of game studio layoffs again. Did you ever wonder where all those skills go? I’m sure some find like work in big studios, but I wouldn’t be surprised if many end up as Indies or in small teams – or even more likely (judging from the crowded space) as mobile and cross-platform developers.

Personally I’ve never been a purist. I won’t blog just one game, I’m unmoved by open worlds until the day when instances don’t make a game run better. Raiding is for when I have the time, pvp I prefer consensual. Hardcore makes me worry about people’s health. I don’t want to “work” in a game, it’s a leisure activity and finally I can socialize without a quasi-military structure or do-it-yourself rentagang. And all of this is perfectly valid because in the end, I am the customer. This particular customer isn’t into “pure”,  just a good product I can enjoy in my own way will do fine. Other customers feel differently, and that’s life, and it also leads to possibilities.

The amorphous blob I mentally label “Massively Mulitplayer Online” reminds me of that wibbly bit in a film before it goes to a cut scene, or the fade before another viewpoint.

Right now, I’m in a position to try out a ton of games and I have been. Some things do strike me. I (like many others) see huge potential for those games with purist attributes – if they set up shop as niche products. Unbelievably hard games with great big learning curves and ocean-like time-sinks for the hardcore anyone? People feel passionately about their gaming, maybe enough for a healthy market.

That would give us all a more varied and interesting landscape to play in – and there are signs of it happening. Niche interests abound on Kickstarter nowadays. I don’t think any of these should be judged on whether they become huge or make tons of money. If enough people want to play them to support them and keep the devs alive, that’s success already.  If you’re making something you love, the chances are you’ll put heart and soul into it, and that always comes across – so a  big playerbase and riches are possible to0, but I think the basic thing of providing something enough people want and will pay for, *that* is the bar.

So we have a lot of talent sloshing about, and the beginnings of niche gaming. A third factor seems to be something to do with size. I do see attempts at the MMO format on my android, but they only have a few of the dimensions. Ravensword, The Bards Tale etc don’t compare with the giant that used to be WoW before all the content was stripped out. These mobile attempts keep getting a little richer as the technology improves though, and oddly enough, the big games keep heading more towards rails, simplification, fewer dimensions, generic classes, blandness. Both sides are heading toward the middle from opposite ends! This makes sense – there is a lot more money wafting around the mobile scene than there is to be had for a big MMO. The larger endeavors cut costs by simplifying, the smaller ones aim for an even bigger market by adding more systems.

It’s fascinating. Will they all end up mid-sized and varied, or will they all end up big and on rails? Could MMOs end up bunkering in PCs where more is possible and become like frilly octopi, catering to all styles of gameplay? Will mobile MMOs explode into fragmented MMO aspects that one can fit together at home where a cavernous desktop dominates the living room?

Whatever happens, I don’t want boring. I understand that big MMOs are seeing advantages in niching themselves and trimming development costs by not catering to everyone, and cutting systems like crafting to cosmetic. I also get that the technology is never going to allow me to play full-blown WoW even in its stripped form on my tablet. (Mind you shouldn’t say never). But I think depth is always possible, from the simplest gameplay (e.g. Flutter) right through to the sparest MMO world (like GW1) – and any game that achieves that stands a good chance.

Big teams are required for a fully fledged MMO… no not really. The tools nowadays are such that a one-man-band can make plenty of noise, and a small team can create a universe. Server costs are reasonable too. I don’t think team size matters as much as it once did. Borrowing matters. If you need to borrow to set up your MMO you’re in a tight spot and there’s huge pressure to stick with the tried and tested. That’s true for large or small studios and large or small games and is probably the single thing that keeps us all cloned and bland.

Of course, the more variety we have, the less easy it becomes to play “definitions”. That’s fine by me. Defining stuff is for high-school debates and high courts of law. In creative endeavours insisting on strict universal categorisation is counter-productive. Any definition anyone has of “MMO” is fine by me.  A rough grasp of the concept will do for exploring the thought 🙂

As small and large move closer and no MMO bastion cannot be emulated by all and sundry, I love to think that  some of the straightjackets to fall off so that the MMO genre gets more worth exploring, like in the early days. At the moment all the places you go are not like that strange little unique cafe in downtown Ancient Mesopotamia, more like McDonalds in various settings. We could be having a lot more fun. Why don’t we have Social Molo games?  Will someone ever do the crafting game of my dreams? What about a lore-driven game with emergent elements. Oh yes there’s a lot more out there and possible than downing the UberRat yet again for a piece of gear that’s obsolete in a month. – Can we have a pvp game that’s  more ‘knights in shining armour’ or ‘adrenaline of battle’ and less ‘inadequates on the loose?’

I’m always hopeful, me 🙂

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Uemeu tutorial link

A series is planned! I’ve been enjoying the Uemeu livestreams (mostly in awe) as Landrunner does quite amazing things there, and this is welcome, the first in a planned tutorial series: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmQ3G8iKEyw (- personally, I need it.)

Part 2:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMUxf8xPwyM

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This is me not knowing how to reblog

so from the hip:


Voluntine’s week !!:) I’m out of time, but I wanted to say this is a fantastic idea.

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… and that’s enough loafing about. I managed a few minutes looking out of the window twitching periodically when I remembered something I could be doing. Would have looked most disturbing to a passer-by. My head is too full! Not surprising, I’ve not been taking time out to contemplate or concentrate, so that’s back on the daily schedule. And meanwhile writing things down clears the decks too, so here I am.


Walk like An Egyptian! (sorry Jeremy couldn’t resist)

I think I found Uemeu on Twitter. It is in alpha but runs really well on pc  (including on all our older machines) and has a ui you can actually access and an impressive way of including tutorial advice in with the ui. You can choose how much you need to know. Both ui and tutorials fold out from the side – just need a tool? – then don’t fold out any further than the first column. Need some extra help or a more detailed tool? – fold out a layer further. Ingenious and very user-friendly indeed.

I hope it’s fair to call this a “build” game – I don’t know if we’ve evolved more subclasses to the genre of games where you build things. This one uses geometric and iterated-geometric shapes, which you rotate, scale, move. As you can see I’m not much further than plonking monumental objects in the landscape, which like a child I find terrifically satisfying. Actually that’s not fair on me. I owe a debt of gratitude to Uemeu. It has quite a lot to play with, including physics. So my first attempt at a rustic cottage went flying off into space hahahaha! – fact is I have a gap in my knowledge when it comes to how physical properties work in games. Uemeu, (along with a lot of other impressive features), allows me to experiment with my monumental shapes to my heart’s content without the encumbrance of scripting – invaluable. Messing about with mass – who can beat it!

Because I’m a girlie I’d like more colours and textures and terrains I guess, but apart from that I’m spoiled for options, shapes, and things to try out. Spent a whole afternoon just playing with the sky once 🙂

There are two modes – “build” mode I’ve just described, though I’ve not really done it justice – and also a “play” mode. I spend most time in build mode fooling around with all the new stuff (and physics) rather than attempting anything grand, but it’s immensely satisfying to switch to “play” and have an avatar running around over, around and in your structure now and again too. (There’s a huge temptation to make jumping puzzles – I won’t deny it.) I think nowadays our person can wall-climb too. As with the other games and applications I particularly like, there’s a totally “alive” feel to this. It seems like something new has been added every time I log in. I would love to know which features Omnigon are most proud of – there’s a lot to be proud of.

I owe this game a better screenshot and I’m putting an iou here. It’s a shame that my pics don’t properly reflect the hours of fun,  just because – well I spend most of them throwing a few basic shapes about. There is seriously no need to stick to basic – I’ve seen some extraordinary things in the livestream that goes out regularly on Twitch. I even revived a Steam account which I hadn’t used for nigh on 10 years to give it a vote for greenlight. It’s a great game and it’s been a fun alpha!

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A Sunday morning plooter (life in general)

What a dilemma. It’s Sunday and I’m having a few days when nothing immediate is hanging over my head growling and screeching. Do I take a break and make the most of it – or do I work myself silly on my own personal projects? Hmmm.

I don’t know. I’m not good at breaks and really should work at relaxing, especially given that I’m still as tense as a string after last year. On the other hand there’s the siren call of code and stuff, which normally gets squished into five minuteses here and there – I could make a dent in that and I’d feel good, but I’d be jumpy and tense going into the next spate of life-traps. Deary me. What to do?

Then there’s the new computer to explore, plus I’ve barely got to grips with the tablet, not to mention the VPS. Which is right, I haven’t mentioned the VPS. Well I have one. And on it I set up and configured a server – but not sure what I’ll do next – it’s like a new continent.  It doesn’t matter. It’s there to practice what I learn. So that awaits and beckons with a siren call too!

And of course there are games – games which I couldn’t play before, but can now. I already have some downloaded, and there are many more to come. And I should write about them – I look forward to doing that – so there is blogging calling me too.

Of course, not quite everything is unpacked, and playing with my house is more fun than anything just now, so there’s that.

And I need a walk, I try to do that regularly if not every day.

I need to sit down and make some roadmaps, which need is fuelling this post.

I should sort out the potplants which are beginning to look weedy& do some laundry.

On the whole the balance would seem to be on doing things. I do have a lot of things to do, and this is a good opportunity to catch up with them. However I am concerned with my recent pace. I think throwing self into action is probably the path of habit, and might not be the most beneficial. I’m so bad at relaxing though. I get Pavlov guilt responses from years of being “useful” (mostly to someone else). I think, that relaxing is probably the one to tackle today. I can five-minutes the rest of my ambitions. I do it all the time! But not easy to subside into a jelly-like blob in the normal course of events.

Oh well here goes. Got food, got shelter. Ehm… now what?


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A New Year!

I like new years – heck I like new days. Well now I do like new days. Used to be a time I’d be alarmed up, wack on the radio, grab something hot and stimulating and rush about like a punch-drunk hen and somehow end up where I was supposed to be albeit disorientated and groggy. But I sat up bolt-upright with a pounding heart and sweaty armpits once too often and it occurred to me that it was all rather nasty. Fight/flight mode is a horrible way to wake up. That was ages ago though, and not subject to any New Year’s resolutions this year as it is already sorted. (I discovered the joys of waking early and now it’s more “wake up and relax” then meander off to deal with things, much nicer. And no radio.)

I have a whole routine to waking up now, and very enjoyable it is – should write it up sometime. Can’t tackle a New Year quite the same way though, but there is that same sense of turning the page and starting afresh. It’s nice. So today is the day after New Year and I have a little time to blog. I prefer reading resolutions, but haven’t seen many – yet. Maybe other people are also only just getting to it?

A New Year definitely deserves a better plan. Either a new plan or a good rethink of the old one. My Graet Declutter is a longer-than-years thing but since the vast bulk of it is now done, I do need new plans for what remains. Code/hobby gets a review and improve,  Life! Life gets a few resolutions thrown at it 🙂 Here they are:

Spend as much time as possible with the next generation

Enjoy and treasure each day 🙂

Learn to take better photos

Not to play games that irritate me

Find yet more ways not to give money to horrible people (which has turned out to be more enjoyable than expected.)

I better not put more than that, it’s enough to be doing with. Chores and duties don’t get a look-in on my list, not only because I’m fairly disciplined but also because I see no reason to glorify them – stuff you are forced to do is pants, on the whole.  I also got no hopes for the world this year, it seems even more confused and bamboozled than usual. Life isn’t widely celebrated and valued out there alas, but life, for itself, is celebrated here in my home and always will be. So here’s a toast to the good things in life, and may you have all of them!

Happy New Year!

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