Thursday, April 19, 2018

Book 10 - Star Wars, A Rampage and A Bonus Ball of LEGO

Watched Rampage tonight with the work-ish mob. Great film. Terrible film. Highly entertaining. You know the type, the story is so bad it ends up actually being great fun to watch. Recommended.

What's the book ?
There we go. It was the Star Wars Galactic Atlas which is going cheap (ish) with The Last Jedi movie. It covers all of the movies up to (but not including) The Last Jedi as well as the Clone Wars and Rebels animated series. There are lots of artist drawings of the various planets that Star Wars has visited along with words about what happened there through the various series. There are a couple of character sessions too and a timeline.

I quite enjoyed barreling through this one last night. But this post isn't really about a film or a book. Take another look at the picture. What lurks in the background ...

Except for a hungry looking dragon. Keep your eye on that one, he looks like he's up to no good.
Smile for the camera boys ! I think that's all the BB-8's I own (there might be another one somewhere ...) A curious kit. There's a lot of near duplication because he's basically a sphere with a lid with the sphere calling for a lot of symmetry. There's a little bit of movement with the kit with a lighter appendage that pops out plus the head rotates and tilts. Nifty.

Wait.
BB-8 - did you see what 4D did with your littler brethren ? Maybe if we click for bigger we'll find a trace of them.

Mind you, 4D the dragon is looking hungry.
OH MY GOD. 4D ate BB-8's head. SPIT IT OUT ! I shall have words with this one. He shouldn't recruit friends (in the shape of my pug-like monitor duster!) to molest the Lego.
And there we go. It looks like the monitor duster got eaten as well and 4D is getting to grips with the next item on his menu. I don't think he realises that Lego isn't good for him and that it'll only lead to bricks on the floor.
 It doesn't look like we can stop him. That's one hungry dragon. One side gone ...
Both sides gone ... When will this end ?
BB-8 your parts are showing. And that dragon looks far too proud of himself.
That's an evil look.
Getting down to the bones now.
Not much to go now, just the mechanism to consume on the inside and the remains of his sphere.
 I think something in that mechanism disagreed with 4D and he's gone off somewhere. I have a suspicion that he'll be back.
BB-8 is more like BB-0.8 now.
Just a naked frame.

Can BB-8 be saved ? Let's see. I've had words with the dragon now and he looks repentant. It sounds like he's been busy in the background too.
We're saved !

But it looks like BB-8 doesn't trust 4D. That lighter is definitely not being brandished in a friendly manner ...

Monday, April 16, 2018

Dinosaur Gamer and Proud

I saw another of those memes today ... and you could say it's kinda triggered me if I allow myself to use that phrase.

(It's overused as a phrase, people use it like I've done there to say it has provoked a vigorous reaction when triggered should really be "It brings a traumatic incident back to reality for me". Nothing in games is traumatic.)

I won't post the meme because it uses (a rather mild but anyway) swear word and it's one of those all bluster, no justification thing anyway but here goes. What does it say ? What question is it asking ? Do you recognise yourself in the type of gamer under :

New School : Fortnite, PUBG, Clash of Clans, Far Cry 5, Overwatch
(Do you even know what they are ! I do and I have no intention of playing any of them - muahaha)

Old School : Modern Warfare 2 (call it a COD please, it's a COD), League of Legends, Angry Birds, Black Ops 2, Bioshock Infinite.
Same again, I have no intention of playing any of those again except for maybe going into Bioshock Infinite. I actually own that one (it was a gift). For the others, LoL is far too toxic and it plus MW2 and BO2 are both sub par shooters that depend more on licence than quality.

Ancient Gamer : Halo 3, Gears of War, COD4, Fallout 3, Portal.
I avoided Halo (because it seemed like a cheap clone of most sci fi shooters), I played the first Call of Duty. And Fallout 1 and 2. I own Portal but have never played it (it came with the Half Life 2 Orange Box).

Nope. My gaming dates back far longer than these. I am ...
Dinosaur Gamer and Proud.

(Picture is courtesy of a DeviantArt artist, here is a link to their Deviantart site. I thought that pic was amazing.)

Where other gamers play things like Far Cry 5 now, I grew up on Doom. And Doom 2. And Quake. And yes, we had the odd deathmatch of Doom over the house LAN while I was a student. Running Novell Netware ... IN DOS ! With the whole thing of managing the memory through the Config.Sys and Autoexec.bat.

Mind you, those were understandable, unlike the extreme vaguaries of Windows 10 these days. Software as a Service doesn't work particularly well. Just give me a stable foundation, yes make it secure ... but don't change the fundamentals of device management on a whim because you then just break the applications that run on top of that.

Yes. While the racing people play games like Burnout, NFS Payback, F1 2025, Dirty Rallyer, Project Cars, Gran Turismo 16v or the others, I cut my teeth on Need For Speed Hot Pursuit. The first one in 1998. With a joystick as a controller. And then there was a quick look at the precursor to the F1 games, the original Geoff Crammond's Microprose Grand Prix. And ... as further evidence of being a Dinosaur Fossil, I cut my teeth on Revs. This was on the BBC micro. OFF TAPE !

Here is some gameplay footage of Revs. GLORIOUS ISN'T IT !
Quite.

I can't think of shooter games on the BBC. The first I was really aware of was Wolfenstein 3D on the PC. I skipped that one for Doom. There is such a thing as too much nostalgia, some of those early games were junk.

Talking of junk, I played Football Manager .... when it was first Football Manager ! This was on the BBC again. Sports Interactive later came out with Championship Manager which was excellent in its 1993 and CM2 versions. CM3 was garbage and it wasn't playable again for years. Probably not until it turned into Football Manager again after licence issues.

There's another thing. Dinosaur gamers didn't have patch support. A game either worked properly on day one ... or it was buggy as hell, people found out and it joined the ET game in landfill. I think I was around when ET came out, it was definitely a film that I saw with my dad and brother. That comment needs a pic.
Miss 'em. Love 'em.

When it comes to flight simulators, I need to look at these again. There's something to coaxing an aircraft through the sky and OH MY GOD WE'RE GOING TO CRASH LAND that you don't get in a space game. Well, unless it's Elite Dangerous and a high gravity planetary landing and then it's the opening scenes to the Serenity movie again.

I keep looking at X-Plane and Flight Sim and looking backwards, there was the Typhoon sim. Nice flight model, nice visuals for the time, everything else was garbage. Falcon 4 though, that was incredible. Faithful flight model and equipment modelling plus an incredible living campaign and map. Great stuff. I also enjoyed Falcon 3 and ... Fossil alert ...

More Youtube footage, this time of a game called Aviator. And apart from the monochrome wireframe graphics, modern flight sims share a lot with this one. Well. They share a heritage like we share a heritage with ameoba.
You can do it !

Where was I. Hmm. Getting distracted by my dinner which is now rapidly cooling. Oops.

I'm a big strategy gaming person too. Before Stellaris there was a cluster of other games that didn't really stick with me. Because ... there was the forerunner. And the forerunner to that. I'm talkin' about Moo. Master of Orion and Master of Orion 2. (We don't talk about the third game).
That's what I'm talking about. (Stellaris looks much better and I really should properly check out SoaSE and AI War).

I played the original Shogun Total War ! And it was a good game too, albeit with a few oddities in its logic. (Routing troops were very dangerous supermen, you didn't get in their way).

I am a veteran of Civ 1. Version 1 ! And then there is Elite, Frontier Elite 2 and now Elite Dangerous. With a side excursion into X-Beyond the Frontier too (I'm thinking about checking out their newer games too because Elite Dangerous isn't really making me want to play it more).

Elite brings me to one last one. I missed XWing but jumped into PC gaming with Tie Fighter. And then later with X Wing vs Tie Fighter, a multiplayer game well before its time. I think we were still using dial up modems then but it was one of the first and very well sorted too.

A very last one and this is hopefully an actual screenshot I'm about to find :
Vanilla WoW and proud.

Be Dinosaur. Be Proud.
I'm so proud I got the t-shirt. (And my bedroom light is very yellow apparently).

One very last thing, it's a great friend's birthday today. Here is a song :

Happy birthday to you;
Happy birthday to you;
Happy birthday fellow dinosaur;
Happy birthday to you.
And that'll be me running after the person who that song is for sees it.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

10 Albums meme

You know me. I can't resist a good meme theme to get me talking about things for a post and ....

I love the music posts.
The meme I've been seeing posts for covers one album a day for 10 days and it's the albums you found most influential. Here goes ! Obligatory links to Youtube of course.

First up - All About Eve by All About Eve. I grew up with this album, it was perhaps the first that I owned and I listened to it a huge amount. They were a goth band led by a beautiful singer with a classic, amazing voice. I would listen to this while reading Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern books which included a character called Menolly who had a wonderful voice and made up catchy songs. She was a loved character and Julianne Regan of All About Eve will always be the voice of Menolly for me. The album is packed with wonderful songs and here are a couple of them, Martha's Harbour and Apple Tree Man. Gorgeous songs, great lyrics.

Second is an old classic by Pink Floyd. We all listened to these albums and Wish You Were Here was probably my favourite for how the tracks merged into each other. Here's the title track, on the album this one transitions from the previous track by someone changing the channel on the radio. They bounce over a few stations before finding one with a guitar playing, the band joins in and it goes from there. Great album, great song.

Third - Alisha's Attic, Illumina. I went by the nickname Alisha's Addict for a while because I adored listening to the two sisters and their intermixing voices. Illumina is their second album and it's packed full of raw, emotional songs like Wish I Were You, fun songs like Shameless and Barbarella and sugary sweet lovely songs like The Incidentals. The Incidentals is one of my all time favourite songs.

Fourth is a soundtrack, it's the Legend album by Clannad. It was written to accompany the Robin of Sherwood series, which I grew up with in the 80s. Good series, wonderful soundtrack with Celtic atmosphere dripping from Together We, Strange Land and the Robin title track.

Fifth is a Cardigans album. You know how I love Nina Persson's voice don't you ? :-D The album of choice is Long Gone Before Daylight due to all the amazing songs it has. The thing about Cardigans albums is that, in the words of Nina, they'll creep up behind you and hit you on the head. With an axe. (That's from their iTunes Original interviews). So while this one doesn't have the song that drew me to them (My Favourite Game), it has so many songs that speak to you like Communication, You're The Storm, 03.45am No Sleep, For What It's Worth, Feathers and Down and more. Oh and then there's Algebra from the A Camp album which I needed to listen to again. Just cos.

I only have to listen to the first chords of a Cardigans song and I'll smile, start to chill out and know I'm going to enjoy what's coming.

BRB.
There we go.

The thing about The Cardigans though is that you'll be listening to those lyrics and realise those amazing songs are actually talking about some very dark themes ... Themes like domestic abuse, so I'm quite careful about who I recommend them to and which songs I recommend.

Sixth is a Dire Straits album, following that theme. This group is another band that I listen to a lot but you listen closely to some of their lyrics instead of letting that sublime guitar interplay wash over you and ... there's some seriously dodgy lyrics in there. (I'm looking at you Money For Nothing and most of the Communique album !) Album of choice here is Love Over Gold with the epic Telegraph Road and excellent Private Investigations.

Seventh draws back to my teenage years as well with Kate Bush who conjures up magic with her voice and wrapt attention with the music and lyrics. Any of her earlier albums could be the one here but I'll go with Hounds of Love with its mix of great commercially oriented songs in the first half and the story of The Ninth Wave of the second half. Highlights are Hounds of Love, Cloudbusting and Running Up That Hill.

Number 8 is a Christmas album and it's from Elaine Paige. This has a few classics in there like her version of The Coventry Carol (best hymn), Wishing On A Star and A Winter's Tale. It's a fun album from start to finish.

Number 666 (or 9) is Seventh Son of a Seventh Son by Iron Maiden showing how to expertly mix heavy and musical. This was one of the first of quite a few metal albums I listened to a lot. Highlights are the title track and The Evil That Men Do. And more.

I'll give the last one to Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds which tells a classic story over its two cd's. I'm talking about the Richard Burton, David Essex and Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues original with songs like Forever Autumn and Thunderchild.
Honourable mentions go to people like Fleetwood Mac with Rumours (That Grand Prix theme with The Chain !), Frankie Goes to Hollywood with Welcome to the Pleasuredome, anything by Garbage (and Cherry Lips in particular), Utopia from Goldfrapp's Felt Mountain and River City People's version of California Dreamin'.

And I'm going to sneak in an extra one which was always, ALWAYS on in the car when I was a kid and we were going places as a family : Queen Greatest Hits 1. Bohemian Rhapsody anyone ?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Book 9 - Spherical Mysteries

Book 9 happened over the weekend !

(credit for pic is at this link)


It was Sphere by Michael Crichton. You'll have watched or read at least something that Michael Crichton was involved with while he was alive. I was a definite fan of the medical drama series E.R. Cracking series. Then there's the Jurassic Park novels. There's Congo. The Andromeda Strain and The Satan Bug.

Need to watch/read The Satan Bug. It was one of those films I knew about but have never seen.

To the Sphere ! I watched the film a few years ago but can't remember it in the same way as I can recall a lot of The Andromeda Strain.

Something has crashed in the ocean and the Navy has gone into investigate what has ended up on the ocean floor. Good people the Navy. At least ours are. This one has the Americans in charge and they've called in our man Norman, central character and chief protagonist as the psychologist of the expedition.

As is normal for Michael Crichton fiction, he leans a huge amount on known science. So we have a habitat where he explains the theory behind surviving at 1000ft below in terms hopefully anyone can understand without feeling as if they're being baby talked. I was similarly impressed with the set up of The Andromeda Strain, indeed it seemed like that film was more interested in the How than the What.

Around the science, most of what this book looks into is perception and imagination. How do we perceive the environment around us. What tricks will our subconscious pull on us when we are exposed to a stressful scenario.

An interesting book. Perhaps a weak story with a rushed ending ... but an ending that wrapped up the story nicely. The end forms the impression with which you leave the book. And this one left me with a wish to read more from the author.

And that's what's important isn't it !

One odd thing there though. The book I borrowed was in very poor condition and may only survive one or two more readings before the spine disintegrates (I don't think I degraded it any more!). I was looking to acquire a Kindle version so I could enjoy the book without opening it and damaging it. You can acquire it on softback, hardback, audiobook ... but not e-book. This is very strange. (Can't get it on Apple's store either). Same with books like Jurassic Park. Can't get that in e-book either (English version at least). I could pick up Jurassic World ... but not the first book.

This is very odd ! Seems like half of Michael Crichton's books have been denied sale via e-book.

Commerce is good. Blockage of commerce is bad. I have no idea why they'd prevent people buying a commodity like an e-book when the other methods are available. I could buy it as an audiobook ! But not e-book.

Weird. Very weird.

Next up was going to be a little book of ships but ... I've been drawn back into the galaxy of The Expanse instead with Nemesis Games. A promising start so far. Time to get back to it while watching a Paradox video on the Battletech game !

Monday, April 09, 2018

New Lego - Midget Falcon

I have to admit, this one is a little delayed ....

I've been feeling a bit Lego deprived lately and I've been eyeing up new kits. But there was that little ship I put together a few weeks ago courtesy of a closing down sale.

What is it ?
Something little. And the fourth one I have of its type ...
As with most Lego kits, it starts small and modest. A vague outline of what's to come.
It begins to take a familiar shape.
Some familiar features start to appear.
And it takes on that instantly recognisable profile.
And there we have it ! Completed Falcon number 4. But something's missing ... We need a pilot ! A mechanic ! It can only be :
CHEWIE !

There's another big Falcon kit coming. I suspect I will have trouble resisting that one (but we'll see what the price point is).

Other news - this is a shameless excuse for a gap post :-). I finished reading Sphere by Michael Crichton last night so a mini-review of that one will come later in the week. Next up : a little book about ships.

And dreams of acquiring more Lego.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Book 8 - Ready Player Revelation Space

Film watching tonight !

Book reading yesterday. Book 8 in my attempt at reading 52 books in the year was Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds.
I have to be honest, I nearly gave up on this book before getting halfway through ...

There is a huge amount of scene setting at the start of the book to get the various characters into the place where the action starts to happen. That takes up maybe 45% of the start of the book and it was a struggle to get through that. That (and Idle Champions) was probably why it took me so long to get through this one.

Would I recommend it having said that ? Actually yes, because when it does spark into life and get going, it's an excellent book. The threads set up in that first half of the book combine together at the end for .... dare I say it .... revelations.

What's it about ? It's set in the same dysfunctional scifi universe as Chasm City, after that system was wrecked by the Melding Plague. We start off by following a superior archaeologist in his quest to find out what happened to the long dead previous inhabitants of the planet he has ended up on. And that's not superior in terms of archaeology skill, it's superior in terms of his attitude to the rest of the world. It makes him a compelling but definitely not lovable character.

There is Khouri, the assassin with an unfortunate past, a definitely superbly murky present and a future ? (Read the book to find out about that future !)

We have the lighthugger (big interstellar space ship) Nostalgia for Infinity commanded by a moribund Captain who is a victim of the Melding Plague, plus the Triumvirate of Sajaki, Ilia and Hegazi along with a few more characters.

And more going on as well ....

A great book when it gets going, I was finding it hard to put down the iPad (Kindle app!) at a suitable time for going to bed. But it does take a long time to get its characters into the place where amazing things happen.
My next book isn't on the Kindle, it's a paperback (Michael Crichton, Sphere). I watched the film a few years ago and enjoyed it, I'm very curious to read what the original was like.

Tonight's film and birthday outing for Cyberkitten (happy birthday for the weekend CK !) was Ready Player One.

I didn't have high hopes for this one, I thought it was going to be a cash in on the nostalgia of 30+ years of gaming. In other words, not much story and a lot of raiding of other people's work.

It didn't feel like a raid, it felt more like a love letter to all of that pop culture that some of us have lived through for all that time, with actually quite a decent story wrapping it all up. It was a joyous trip through this future world as the characters were carried along by the narrative.

A lighthearted tale and one that I will definitely enjoy again at some point in the (possibly near?) future.

There weren't many people in the cinema though, perhaps people have been turned off this one by its marketing. Perhaps people are avoiding it due to feeling that it might have been a shameless, faceless, charmless cash in (I'm lookin' at you Pixels and Emoji Movie which I've never seen but am commenting on anyway!). It'll be a pity if people miss out on this one because it was genuinely good fun.

That's it for me for tonight, since wrenching my shoulder again last week I've been on and off with pain coming and going. But I'm feeling ok now. A decent feel good movie can have that effect !

Monday, April 02, 2018

Back on the horse

At least,

Will be tomorrow. For now though, it feels a bit :
As far as yesterday's post goes, yep, that was my now traditional April Fools post. One year, there's going to be a totally unbelievable but actually true post. Bit like the novel writing post but one that might actually come true and happen.

Yesterday's post was a good one to write. There were only two things in there that weren't true ... There has, sadly, been no job offer from Paradox although I think it would be a very tough choice if there was one. I'm quite entrenched here with great people around me plus when I move posts in the next few months, it should be into one that is actually quite close to that creative engineer thing. Except not so much on the creative new ideas, more on delivering something special instead of indulging the imagination.

However it was a good excuse to write nice things about the Paradox people and the old Warcraft guild people. The Community Manager Susie who I keep mentioning is a special one, she actually engages with the community around the game. Which is Route One for making the community happy and engaged with the product they're pushing. I don't think I'd have pre-ordered Surviving Mars if not for the Susie and Niki streams and I'd have had a warier eye on Battletech ... which I'll probably preorder as well.

Depends on what the prerelease gameplay streams are like. The Surviving Mars ones showed off a well sorted game.

The question is though, why was it not Frontier with what I've written about Elite ? After all, Frontier is not too far away (they're based in the UK). I was actually back in playing Elite yesterday ...

It comes down to that community management thing, plus a lot of what the development group do with the game. It's a very pretty game and gets better looking with each update but .... it's very empty. And the community managers don't engage with their community. (The various links I've sent over to them didn't even get clicks plus I've heard very bad things about their engagement in general - if you're in the circle, you're ok. If you're out of the circle, you don't exist).

And I always do like saying nice things about people who have earned it and deserve it.
I have longer arms than that. Honest.

What else has been going on over the break ? Happily not too much. The break was intended to regenerate me out of burn out and hopefully that has succeeded. There's been :

Lots of music listening (1305 unique tracks according to iTunes);
Huge amounts of video watching;
A certain amount of cricket watching;
Far too much time in game (I'll count that up in a bit);

Resisting buying laptop or lego;
And a couple of films.

Was Tomb Raider on the Friday I went on leave ? Nah. I left work too late and ended up going to the shops while hungry. Don't do that folks. Although that did lead to me acquiring enough supplies to see me through the break.

The mob watched Pacific Rim 2 yesterday. The verdict ? They somehow managed to take the uplifting, fun, epic action of the first Pacific Rim and make it meh. A sequel that made some mad sense in itself but .... really wasn't necessary. John Boyega seems to have been taken to Hollywood's Heart as the next big thing, a flagbearer for inclusion but .... this movie isn't very good and he's playing the character from Attack the Block instead of the son of Pentecost.

There was a bit of reading too, although I'm still somewhat struggling through Revelation Space.

Back to work tomorrow though. It should be a quiet week, although I'm curious as to what was going on last week while I was away.

I better close up, the SpaceX stream just started ! Rokkits soon.

PS The gaming time over the last 2 weeks according to Steam :
9.4 hours of Stellaris - I have a new warrior monk xenophobe race that is already far ahead of the 2 neighbours. Just gotta get the influence to go to war and beat them up.
21.2 hours of Motorsport Manager - my team is now beating all comers so I'm looking to farm achievements. 1.5 seasons to go.
12.2 hours of Skyrim - and the start of a new adventure ...
176.3 hours of Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms - yep. You read that right. (I've been leaving it running when I go to bed and the champions earn lots of money to make the game easier for the next run). It's a daft addiction but one that I can have going while doing other things plus the game systems don't take much effort to learn.
(Which is why hours of Surviving Mars is jut 0.3 !)

Sunday, April 01, 2018

To Sweden ! And Games ! And beyond ?

I may have had an offer come in ....

It looks like a dream offer too. Work on games, write for games, help develop the vision for games, be among creatives who will spark off my own creativism ?

Perhaps.
What's happening ?

A games company called Paradox have taken an interest. Looks like they want a consultant engineer type person to write for them and add solid flesh to some of the lore bones they have in their games. A person to look at a Battlemech and say "That'll work, that's sound. But this is WAY COOLER!" So many times a creative project falls down because people will look at what's been made and it .... just cannot work. The creative engineer's job is to take those creative ideas and :

Make them work;
Make them cool;
Add in little essential details.

One of the sayings for engineers is that a designer will add the world to a device, the engineer will refine it back until it does its purpose as efficiently as possible. (And then the geekiness of all engineers will kick in and add something quirky again).

So that's your creative engineer's role. Steer the artists in a direction that will show creations that look like they could work. Suggest all sorts of additions like vents, intakes, exhausts, sensor blisters, weapon ports, windows ... things like that which add in the cool factor and give those gamers something to look at.

Oh and to take the "read all about the cool stuff behind the stuff in the game" a bit further and actually indulge in writing all that cool stuff behind the game. Things like the timelines that would go into Battletech or leading up to Surviving Mars or Stellaris. (Their other games are more historical)

Why Paradox ? They have games that make me want to pack myself up into the crates ...
They've been quietly taking over my Steam library of late with some extremely good games ... Games like Stellaris which I would quite happily play from 11 until 2 (both times in am) and probably beyond. (A poorly wrist and a very unhappy shoulder are putting a dampener on that at the moment though). Hearts of Iron 4 caught my eye too, that one gets very complex. It would be good to be a playtester/debugger on that because to be honest, it needs a little more work because the vast army management and strategy system seems to break in the later game. A shame because Hearts of Iron 4 is another massively impressive game.

Surviving Mars caught my attention early with its concept (right up my alley) and with the graphics too. I really must give it some more attention and time (see comment above ref: shoulder and wrist), although I have been hugely enjoying the soundtrack and the artbook I picked up with the game. You can tell they had people working on it who wanted to touch every single asset included in the game and add a little touch of awesome.

And then there's Battletech ... I started my PC playing days on Tie Fighter yep ... but one game that really caught my attention was Mechwarrior 2 Mercenaries. Curiously, I never really played the other Mechwarrior games much until Mech Commander 2, which I'm actually considering bringing out again due to the hype behind Battletech. Here's the old game :
That's from a 1996 game if you want to compare it to the graphics of Skyrim from my last post. Things came on a very long way over the 16 years between the games. Not so much lately though ... Anyway, here's a link to more about the old Mechwarrior 2 Mercenaries ... And for the new game, here's a basics of mercenary life video (youtube links) and the story trailer. I'm definitely hyped for that one now.

So many games, not enough time to play them all. (Unless playing them becomes the job, that would be as awesome as the Lego Spaceship guy being told he can build a spaceship).
Yep. That hyped.

It's not just the games though. It's the culture. I was very impressed while watching the livestream videos. They seem to have a culture there that's inclusive and which is steered towards enjoying the work and FUN. And that was going from their CEO coming in to sit in for the livestream looking at doing fun things with the game, through to the people who normally work on the games but who were taking their spell playing on the livestream.

That culture of fun is very attractive.

Oh and there's a rumour that Producer Niki wants a Chief of Staff, although I think she framed it more as "Manager of People". There was a strong suggestion that I should bring my black leather gloves, aka Assassin Gloves. Whatever for I wonder ?

But yeah, the first Paradox livestreams I watched were the Surviving Mars livestreams with Producer Niki playing and Community Manager Susie watching the stream comments and enabling the community interaction. I wouldn't keep watching an hour long set of videos (and prioritising them over others !) if they weren't fun and enjoyable to watch. And that culture enables Niki to unleash the crazy ideas and to be that free spirit.

There's a bit more to do though. I'm currently passportless after letting my old one expire (wasn't traveling anywhere, didn't need to renew it) and I definitely need to get a new one before the new Brexit passports (made in France) come in :
(click for bigger so you can read the writing)

The GB thing is another factor actually, I'd definitely miss the people here (who would only be a flight away) but the country is steadily going downhill due to shockingly bad leadership. We have no credible politicians at the moment and the ones we do have are bent on self destruction.

Another thing about Sweden though, it's home to those lovely people from the Violence Reborn guild. The Warcraft period was quite turbulent towards the end of my time with the Mercenaries of Darkness but the mostly Swedish group of Violence Reborn picked me up again and ... rehabilitated me into the game ? And one person in particular, lovely Sandra. There was that unforgettable evening where Alex and DT were singing to each other over the voice comms ... and they got me joining in at the end too.

They had a crazy warlock too (can't remember her name sadly) who was very entertaining over the voice comms. She bought all of our souls in exchange for cookies and we were glad for the trade. Old Doomprayer too, he was a good egg although he got a bit caught up in the elitism that surrounded the raiding. Good chap. Oh and Tufflan too.

So many free spirits enjoying life and taking that enjoyment through to the game. I don't have nearly as many friends on Facebook as some but there are a number from the old Warcraft days who are definitely prized friends.

I should wrap up now though. It would be a fantastic opportunity to work for a company like Paradox.
Counting the days. It might be another 365 if it actually happens.
:-D

PS In the interest of disclosure ... not-an-ad. :-)

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Behaviour, loss, tampering ... adventure !

Chill out time is going well. Sleep is happening and I'm feeling fresher than I was last week.

At least I think I am ! I was getting pretty burnt out by the time I disappeared on leave and my body's usual reaction to that is to dig deeper into the reserves and give me a boost of hyperactivity until I can fall over later when the energy is not needed.

That tends to cost after a while though, there's only so much of a reserve to your energy before there's nothing left for the hyperactivity to draw upon. But that's just me. I have a few random mostly unconnected thoughts for you today ...
The picture is from the opening of the latest leg in the Volvo Ocean race, it's Dongfeng racing with a previous winner, Steinlager 2, accompanying the racers on their way out of Auckland. There has been sad news in the race this week ... Scallywag lost a man overboard on Monday and the only conclusion is that he's been lost to the sea. (More here, there isn't much more news)

It's a harsh reminder that even as we improve our ability to conquer our environment and go places we were never meant to be, that environment can still bite back, hard. The perception of dangers fade as success normalise the conditions into those which are readily conquered but events such as this are a reminder that the danger is still very, extremely real. It can happen to anyone, even those experienced and prepared for the conditions.

Thoughts are with the family, the crew and the other racers.
On to another sport and in cricket the Australians have been even more thoroughly embarrassed by the behaviour of their players than we were in GB of the performance of our team.

The behaviour of our players is not in question (except for the fella who is going to trial for public affray in the summer) but the Aussies have had a few issues building up inside their team for a while now. A couple of players can undermine the honour and behaviour of a team.

I believe there is a certain code by which you should behave while playing sport. You should always, ALWAYS, behave with honour towards the opposition. That means giving them due respect for their abilities. If that honour is not returned, fair enough. Respond by beating them honourably and fairly. The Aussies haven't been doing that.

More on the story at cricinfo at the link (beware, they have an autoplay video on that). Basically, a senior player embarked on a plan to tamper with the condition of the ball. He did this with the knowledge of the captain and used the most junior member of the team to carry out the deed. Despicable. If you're going to cheat like that, you should do it yourself and not bully a junior member into being the scapegoat. He's been banned for a year which is probably not enough.

Why alter the condition of the ball ? It's very difficult in cricket to get a batsman out (unless it's an unprepared England player in that first innings). A team will work hard to manage the condition of the ball by polishing it, with the idea of working the ball into a condition that will swing ... or move sideways through the air.

There are a few ways of doing this :
Polishing (legal) - I was a master at this. I could turn a ragged worn ball into one that would swing around corners. That was partly my bowling action which presented the seam well with it rotating truly and not wobbling, partly from being able to shine up the ball and put weight into one side of it.

Polishing the ball is a legal and accepted practice. The idea is that one side wears naturally in contact with the bat and the ground. (Umpires are hot on people bouncing the ball unnecessarily these days too). I think what I did differently was to pick a good candidate for swing ... usually the hardest, old looking ball in the bag. Those would swing nicely given time. Balls go soft after a while, those are no good to anyone. I'd also polish the ball on my shirt instead of the more abrasive whites.

Using sandpaper (illegal) - this is what the Aussies were doing ... You can substitute anything for the sandpaper, people have used things like dirt from the ground or special white trousers with a roughing pad built into them. The idea is that the shiny side is polished as per normal, the other side is roughed up more quickly.

Chewing gum (legal but frowned upon) - the idea here is to promote saliva to aid in polishing the ball. But there's also potential for odd things to be in the gum to then go onto the ball. I don't get this, surely those Odd Things would have done nasty things to the player ?

Anyway. Bans of a year for captain and senior player, 9 months for the intended scapegoat. They'll be back and the captain will undoubtedly continue being the despicable example of a player that we've seen over the past few years. He has stunning numbers with his batting but that doesn't excuse behaviour. It's good to see the Aussie authorities act strongly.

Which brings me to what I've just witnessed on the news ....

Not a playground but playground behaviour. (It was PM's Question Time, which is a weekly event on a Wednesday).

The behaviour there is even more despicable than you'd find on a playground, a football field or ... anywhere you would expect the lowest form of civilised behaviour.

It's a bit sad to see it actually. The MPs had to be warned again by the Speaker about excessive behaviour ... Jeering is common, MPs will attempt to shout down those who have the floor. It's very poor behaviour and our MPs should be ashamed of it.

Adventure ?

Of all the games I have which are unplayed, Skyrim has been opened again ... Let's see :
(as usual - click for bigger)

According to my screenshots folder, I'd left this game alone for 6 years. It's a particularly gorgeous game with stunning visuals :
Even for a 6 year old game, it looks good.
That's the town of Whiterun, with my player character indulging in a selfie. There are lots of things to do, lots of people to meet, new friends to make :
Poor Stumpy has been left out at night again.

How did it look in the old days ?
Bit more grungy, bit less defined. I think my machine was still running the same processor then but the graphics has been upgraded 3 times since then and I'm not on the maximum graphics settings. It shows in things like how sharp the textures can be on the walls, the ground (That's anisotropic filtering) and the roof of the Companions' building in the first pic of Whiterun.

I'll be back there quite soon. Hunting dragons :
It's such a massive game though, over 90 hours in my 2 previous characters and I had mostly just scratched the surface. A good one to dip into though.

And then there's Motorsport Manager, Surviving Mars, Stellaris, Duskers and all those other games. Oh and Revelation Space too, which seems to be warming up nicely now that I've got to the middle of the book.

Resuming chill out mode ....