Monday, April 30, 2018

Too many games

It's a weird feeling isn't it !

I think I've been a little more careful than I have been in the past with the buying of new games but I happen to have and be interested in playing far more games than I have time to actually play ...
(if that's your pic, please do let me know ! It's awesome, I'd love to give you credit but the site Google sent me to isn't giving any accreditation)

What are they ? And before I start, here's the obligatory (it really is obligatory, you get in trouble for not disclosing freebies) disclosure that all these are games I bought with my own cash.

First up and getting the attention is the new Battletech game. I've mentioned this one a few times already, it's a strategy game set 1000 years from now where you are the commander of a mercenary group of Mechwarriors. I've been really enjoying this one. The turn based gameplay gives me a chance to look, pause, ponder, juggle the playlist on the iTunes (this is Important!) and tell the people what to do.

It might help a little that there are big long pauses while the computer goes off and does its thing loading in the next mission or loading in the spaceship again. This was definitely a good preorder. It looks like they've introduced a huge amount of the scope possible in the Battletech universe and tabletop games and I've been enjoying testing out different configurations of Mech and Warrior. I'm currently looking to have a mixed team of Melee mech, Short range gun mech, Sniper mech and medium range slugger. Switching out for a second sniper might be handy and I'm probably running too much armour on the sniper.

This is what makes a strategy game great ! If there are a bunch of different strategies and they are all viable while keeping the challenge in the game. Challenge is fun.

Talking about strategy - Motorsport Manager is on the back burner but this one again is a game where it rewards the best strategy with better results in the races. Do you fuel long and use slower tyres in order to have fewer pit stops ? Your cars lap slower but lose less time in the pits. Or do you sprint between faster stops and pit more often. More time lost in the pits, less time spent for each lap. The optimum strategy is different according to conditions.

I kicked off a game of Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 2.
That's actually from the first of the two games but the graphics are similar. Spartan, fitting the capabilities of the day and enabling a great story to be told. The two games are set a few thousand years before the Star Wars movie at a time when the Sith Empire is at war with the Galactic Republic. One of Bioware's better games.

I've gone through the first area of Kotor 2 and quite enjoyed it. I should go in for more ! (If I wasn't addicted to Battletech at the moment). It's a good sign when you can go back to an older game and find it still very playable and not particularly aged. Although look at the 4:3 aspect ratio. That dates it. (Kotor 2 was released in 2004).

I opened up Skyrim again ... A pretty game.
A not so old game, originally released in 2011. A massive game. A game you can lose yourself in with the side quests and completely ignore the main story if you want to.

I have 103 hours in Skyrim across three save games and 12 hours in the latest. The drawback of the game is that while the game world is massive, it doesn't really change much outside of the monsters levelling up as you cut a swathe across the country. There is still huge amounts to do though. I should dive back in ! After Kotor 2. After Battletech.

Stellaris is on the back burner at the moment. The changes made in the 2.0 patch were a bit negative in my view and I'm actually tempted to roll the game back to 1.9.

The number 1 rule applies : If you are not enjoying something that is supposed to be fun, do something different that you will enjoy.
Surviving Mars is one that I definitely have to give more time to. I think this one came out at a time when I was feeling particularly burned out so it didn't get the time it deserved for me to learn the game.

Duskers is another of those, where you play the last survivor of a doomed universe charged with figuring out just what in the universe happened to everyone else. This is a superbly atmospheric game where you are limited to working with unreliable, fragile drones.

And there are more games too.

Not enough time ! No gaming tonight as well (ok, Idle Champions is on but that doesn't count). I'm watching the finale of DC's Legends of Tomorrow, there's a Heychrissa stream going on the laptop, I'll have gaming videos on in the background and I'll be charging through the Douglas Hill Last Legionary books.

Have a great evening !

PS I totally won't be looking up laptops. I am very tempted. I think the temptation is heavily due to it involving the learning of Linux again. Something new. Something not Microsoft or Apple.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Books 12 and 13 - The Last Expanse

2 books today !

I'm still behind on the 52 books after getting held up a bit on Revelation Space but I'm catching up again with the aid of a few shorter books. Totally not cheating.
The two books share something actually, they both lean well to being adapted into TV type series. One already has ...

Book 12 is the 5th book in the Expanse series, Nemesis Games. I'm wondering where they are going with these books. I'm not convinced the authors really do know ! That's not fair really, they've said there is a plan for the 9 books in the series and after that, no more. So the story should be all done and dusted in the next 4 books.

This one feels a bit like a bridging book. The style of the books has the chapters split up between central characters and in this one, it's the crew of the Rocinante splitting up to do their own thing across the solar system while the usual star of the Expanse (the ship !) is getting fixed up. So whereas some of the crew can seem to be a bit bitpartish, they get their centre stage again in this one.

And it adds a lot of background to all of these characters while moving the background story on quite considerably with some earth shattering events and the emergence of a new power. The sad thing for me is that it does start feeling a bit contrived in the "How come no one spotted this building up ?" kind of way.

Still well worth a read though and I'll be picking up book 6 at some point soon.

Not yet though ... I'm reading a series of books from my childhood. It's the Last Legionary Quartet by Douglas Hill, first published in 1980 through 1982. The edition I have is all 4 books together in one paperback.

Book 13 - Galactic Warlord opens with our hero and central character Keill Randor searching for those who murdered his world.

He is the Last Legionary of Moros, an elite soldier, quite possibly the best human soldier in the galaxy. Yeah, that sounds a bit contrived ... this is a series mostly aimed at young adult so they do take far more liberties with the science side of the fiction than a series like The Expanse does. More believable than Trek or Star Wars though.

Anyway. This one sees Keill finding out about the great galactic conspiracy and teaming up with a mysterious group of scientists who save his life in return for him becoming their emissary.

I'll be charging through reading the remaining 3 in the series, although I don't think I have the prequel book which saw Keill growing up.

The Legionary series always struck me as books that would be ideally suited to a TV adaptation. You have a galactic conspiracy, you have the martial arts fights so favoured by TV now, you have space, you have scifi and the timing is well suited to telly as well.

Perhaps this will be the latest series of books to be mined for the telly ...

Douglas Hill did more series too, his Huntsman trilogy telling of the aftermath of an alien invasion of Earth was good (we lost badly) as was the Colsec trilogy. He's definitely aimed at young readers but Galactic Warlord has aged well in the 30+ years since I first read it.

Whereas some books overdo the description and end up padding out their books unnecessarily (I'm looking at you Revelation Space !), the Douglas Hill books are stripped right back to narrative while still giving enough description to keep you in the picture of what's going on.

A great light read for a younger reader. (Although the Fraxilly Fracas was a bit pants)

Friday, April 27, 2018

Infinity Temptation Laptop

I watched Infinity War today ...

I'm not going to do the spoilery thing but that movie is a ride. An emotional ride. They pack a huge amount into it. And if I say any more it could definitely go into spoiler space !

The latest Jurassic World movie trailer was good though and I saw more trailer for the Solo movie before which makes that movie look very promising.
The temptation is for a laptop. Or is it for more books. You can never go wrong with more books. I finished off Expanse Book 5 last night. More about that in a future post (I like to do the variation thing, so no consecutive book thingy posts).

Not sure what's next just yet. It could well be a Douglas Hill series called the Last Legionary of Moros. That series of 4 books takes me back to childhood and it'll be curious to see how it holds up almost 40 years after the first book was published in 1979.

After getting back today, a few hours disappeared into the Battletech game. I'm enjoying learning its nuances as I get deeper into the game. (I'm not too far in yet). It's a proper slug fest instead of being the much quicker, less detailed type of strategy game that people may have been expecting. This is no bad thing ...
Poor Panda Avenger took a beating there but is almost back in the fight. Panda is a little battlemech so is likely to be nearing retirement as my Lance gathers heavier mechs. It's handy having the little ones around because you can run them around, flank and hit enemies from the back where the armour is weaker. But the little mechs also pop very quickly when faced with enemy fire.

Striker Omega has replaced the Panda in the lance while the Panda is being repaired. Yep, more Pacific Rim inspired names.

What's the laptop thingy ?

I saw something going on a clearance offer yesterday. It had a pretty decent spec :

Intel i5 processor, 8GB memory, SSD + HD, IPS screen, nice keyboard, 1050 graphics chip, Windows.

I think it was £750 which is quite affordable for me and that's a tasty spec as well. Not too much to be silly, while still being capable of first person shooter type gaming which tends to demand good all round performance. But ...

Intel i5 processor - want this. It's the right level between just enough and too much.
8GB memory - considering that my desktop spends most of its time using between 5GB and 7.8GB, I'd see 8GB as a minimum.
SSD + HD - the SSD drive makes it fast, the HD gives it space. I have over 100GB in my music library now so a 256GB drive would get very cramped, very quickly. It's rare that the laptop makers give the opportunity for both types of drive.
IPS screen - essential. They're clearer and brighter than the older technology of display.
Nice keyboard - don't underestimate this in a laptop. Sure, you can get separate keyboards and mice but ... I don't use those with laptops. The keyboard and trackpad that come with it have to be very good.

So that's the good bits ... what's bad about it ?

I don't game on laptops except in circumstances where I'd be otherwise incredibly bored. (In which case I'm watching the videos or reading on Kindle instead). So a 1050 graphics chip built in is a complete waste ... at about £200 on the price of the laptop plus a knock on effect on battery life and heat output. Don't need the graphics.

Windows is continuing to cycle down expectations of quality and increase the nervousness of things going wrong unexpectedly. A few months ago I wrote that my main dvd/bluray player app on my desktop had stopped giving out sound. I couldn't fix that (it did do sound to my monitor ... but not through my main speakers).

Turns out that the problem there was a rogue Windows update, as the sound is now back. (This is corroborated by seeing how other people have had problems which have mysteriously fix themselves on later Windows updates). Software as a service is only any good if it doesn't interfere with what we're wanting to use out machines for. At the moment, it's Software as a Disservice. Windows just keeps breaking stuff.

So my next laptop is likely to be running some flavour of Linux. The make or break though is the music ... I'm pretty confident that I'll be able to switch to playing music via a Bluetooth link but I need an equivalent to iTunes 10.7 and its Party Shuffle/iTunes DJ feature, an automatic playlist where I can queue up a bunch of songs and have iTunes pick out more random ones when the ones I pick run out.

Oh and it was also a laptop made by Asus, who in my opinion bought their reputation through relentless marketing rather than actual quality. I've been burned by Asus a couple of times before I switched to an Asrock motherboard and my mum had an Asus Transformer tablet which was just ... rubbish and also broke within a year. It's not just us either, I know of other people who have problems caused by dodgy Asus hardware.

So the laptop will stay on the shelf. Very tempting, actually too shiny for what I want/need.

I think that's enough for now !

Great film;
Enjoyable game (even if I did have to save scum a few times tonight to save my pilot from injuries !)
Temptation ...

If you're buying stuff, make sure it's what you need ... which isn't necessary what you want :-). After all, the price difference between that Asus laptop and the one I have in mind from PC Specialist (not-an-ad) is enough to ...


Remember what's important :-D.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Book 11 - A Book of Art, a Game of Mechs

Perhaps a cheeky one this but ...

It's a 454 page art book !!! There were huge numbers of pictures but I think that counts.

What was it you ask ? I've done what you shouldn't really do with gaming (again). Preorder. The game in question is the new Battletech game, where you are in charge of a Mercenary corporation hiring out your Battlemechs to those who are willing to hire you.

Have Mech, Will Travel.

I've definitely been enjoying the game so far and I have an EnterElysium episode going in another window. The Merc company is going well so far. I think in the last mission, it was my 4 against 2 enemies sure but we came out unscathed. Which means barrelling straight into the next mission. Tomorrow. Or Friday. Or at the weekend. Tired now so I've come out of the game.

Pictures ?
As usual, click for bigger.

The idea is, Big Robots, Big Guns, Lots of Missiles and a few lasers too. I really enjoyed playing Mechwarrior 2 Mercenaries in my first years with a PC and MechCommander 2 was another highlight of a strategy game. Starsiege was a good one as well for Big Robot Fights, although that was set in another universe.

The book ?

I picked up the Digital Collectors Edition (disclosure note - I paid, wasn't a free copy) which had the art book with it, plus a 60 track soundtrack. Lots of value there. What's in the book ?

A decent amount of concept art;
Drawings for the stars of the show, the Battlemechs;
Building concept art;
Character art ... including a few spoilers;
Spaceship art.

You can probably predict that I quite liked this art book. 454 pages !!! Of course I'm gonna like that :-).

I am knackered now though or I'd have stayed in for just one more mission ... I'm in early days so far. I have managed to name my mechs though.
There we go.

Yeah, I need to work on my names and maybe even look up a few of the names from my last post. From left to right it's :

Shadowhawk class : Peregrine Avenger
Blackjack class : Fury Iceangel, this is my character's (Iceangel) ancestral mech so the name followed
Vindicator class : Zen Liberator, a few lasers
And the Spider scout : Panda Avenger

Too many avengers perhaps. And that movie is definitely one I want to watch before the spoilers come out. Maybe tomorrow evening depending on how I'm feeling !

Legoland is a possibility on Friday too. I have a bunch of flexi credit saved up and I don't think I need to be in on Friday.

We shall see. For now though, Enter Elysium video, iTunes music, HeyChrissa stream and a bit more reading of The Expanse.

Oh ! Back to the games I abandoned at the weekend. I was finding them annoying and tricky to play. An interface that got in the way instead of being intuitive (especially with Satellite Reign !). I've gotten on well with the Battlemech interface so far. It's properly turn based so it gives you time to do what you want to do.

That's for another evening though. Back to the Kindle !

Monday, April 23, 2018

Random thoughts - Ghost Deletion Mech

This post could go anywhere today.
Ooo ! Shinies !

I'll start by saying that I've watched Ghost In The Shell tonight, the original anime version. There are similarities between this and the live action movie even going as far as nigh on replicating certain scenes. And then they're both looking into the distinction between physical biological intelligence and electric artificial machine intelligence. If a machine becomes self aware, does that validate artificial intelligence ?

I have to admit that I preferred the live action version. There was a bit more to its story and I was taken in by the investigation of the backstory of the main character. I must watch it again soon. And I didn't think that the main character absolutely positively had to be of Japanese type origin, as some fans of the anime would demand. That said, Rinko Kikuchi (Mako in Pacific Rim and that's an IMDB link for you) isn't in enough movies and she's a little marvel. I think she would have made a great Major Motoko.

Talking of Pacific Rim and its Jaeger Mechs ... The new Battletech game unlocks tomorrow and I may have pre-ordered it. I've been enjoying the Enter Elysium playthrough (youtube playlist link) and he's been doing his traditional thing of naming his Mechs after people who subscribe to his Patreon. Naming things like that definitely adds something in games. It certainly gave me an attachment to my soldiers in the XCom games and a grin when finding a particularly good name in Elite.

What were the Elite ships again ? I finished in this ship :
The black Python known as Shipka 3.14159-Thon. My other ships in the game were (quick peek at the Inara page !) : Humility, Dignity, Algebraic the Adder, Ranger, Pathfinder, Dorothy Drake. Then there were the space trucks called Lisa Kelly, Art Burke, Alex Dewey. The ones named after the Youtube and streamer community people : Elizabeth Sparrow, Chrissa's Potato, Katherine Of Space, Nik's Hammer, Space Viking, Owner Jms Vas QwibQwib. And those named after people close like Queen Skye, Shaname's Sword, Skye Searcher and there would have been a few more of those if I'd stayed with the game.

I think I'm done with Elite now. There isn't enough variation or story in there to hold my attention. There is a feeling of having done everything in the game already and I've never been one to grind out the time in a game. There are better games to play that don't involve grinding. So if you were looking for your name above, there were names like Queen Karen and Queen Jenny coming later.

But those are spaceships. One thing about Pacific Rim was the names given to the Mechs. They sounded probably epic and had a certain weight about them. Names like Gypsy Danger and Gypsy Avenger. Striker Eureka and Striker Omega. I think my Battlemech mechs need similar names. Let's see :

Iceangel Alpha, Kitten Cyber, Yankee Tango (that may be tea related). Gorilla Demon (guess what album I'm listening to at the moment !). Keela Shadow. Space Viking could come out again. I know a streamer/youtube community that would love that. Iron Elysium. Curmal Ghost. Hopefully more names will come later. Crazy Queen is a good one too. Or Toller Bob for ... reasons :-). Marine Dragon.

I'm quite looking forward to the Battlemech game. It looks like a cracker. I was hyped for Frostpunk as well, which comes out soon too. However with that one, as I watch more gameplay I get the feeling it's another game I'd bounce off without playing much. I was doing that yesterday with short sessions in Satellite Reign and Rebel Galaxy before getting irritated and coming away from the games. Knights of the Old Republic 2 (Star Wars) held my attention a bit longer.

Enough about games. Deletion ?
There's a lot being said about Facebook and the general slurping of data it has been doing since ... day 1. The response seems to be to walk away from Facebook and delete everything they hold. I don't think this will be particularly useful as they appear to have been cleaning up their act lately and complying to the various Data Protection things that are out there. And besides, most of your data will have been hoovered up long ago, plus you won't have realised quite how much of your data is exposed to them.

Yes Facebook. If you pop up an advert on my laptop that is suspiciously related to something I looked at or searched for on my desktop, then you're being very creepy. Make no mistake about it, there is an information war going on where the hackers, the Twit/books, the Googles are all looking to harvest our data for their own means.

So what can we do ?

The big thing is to be very careful about the picture we present to the internet. I don't give my actual date of birth any more when Steam asks me, I give the year. If you take pictures with your camera or your phone, be very wary about location services. The place where you took the picture could be getting saved as metadata in the picture and that geotag data can be extracted later. I think I'm safe from this but I should really check seeing as I take pictures outside the front door. Of my house. This is why I never take pictures at work.

Geotagging is a real threat. My phone has popped up train times occasionally when the bus takes me past the train station. It's not data that I asked for but in being Helpful, the phone tells me that it has been programmed to continuously monitor my location and use my data bandwidth to look up possibly relevant data. That's part of what they call a digital footprint.

Be paranoid. We are being tracked and data on us is being collected without our express consent.

The thing to do is to not make it too easy for the people collecting the data. Think about what you share on Twit/book. If it isn't something that you're happy for a Crazy Random Internet Person to know, don't post it.
A lot of the people who are saying "OMG DELETE FACEBOOK!" have done that a little too late. Their data from oversharing will have been harvested by the various apps that they and friends have allowed to have permissions.

That's another thing - beware of the permissions that an app is asking for and if you're the least bit suspicious, don't allow them. I've backed away a few times from those Fun Post sites because I didn't like the permissions they were asking for.

I'm not going to be deleting my Facebook. There are a few people with whom I value their communication immensely and my primary means of communicating with them is via Facebook. I'm not going to lose that due to the hysteria that says Delete Facebook. But I have considered it, mainly due to their policies on the News Feed. There are very odd algorithms at work there, posts you would expect to see are filtered out and random posts from advertisers are sifted in.

Twit/book has far too much advertising and not all of it is gotten rid of by web browser ad-blocking software.

I don't pay as much attention to the news feed any more. There's only so much that your attention can actively monitor. Trying to keep an eye on too much will lead to stress and madness. I realised a while ago that while I follow groups and people that I'm interested in, a lot of it is garbage and not worth my time. One of the Twitter accounts posts and reposts the same stories - scroll past. The Elite group on Facebook has been overtaken by idiots - scroll past but not before blocking the instigator of the troll post.
Haha, I thought this would be lots of random things about many random topics but it's been :

Ghost in the Shell - enjoyed both. Understood and preferred the live action version. Yes I am a heretic and will burn in digital hell when they upload me.
Mechs and epic names for them - Ivanova Fury, Zen Liberator, Prospero Nimoy, Viper Apollo, Robinson Danger, Solako Grave. How many of those do you recognise ? :-D
And a bit about the dangers of Twit/book.

Don't make it easy for people to find out about you ! Unless you want them to of course :-).

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.

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 !

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.

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 :

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 !