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That hurt

No Man’s Sky is a space exploration game. You discover new planets, collect resources, identify wildlife, build bases and continually upgrade your equipment so you can do more of those things.

I’m enjoying it. It’s a good gin and tonic game – lazily floating round the galaxy mining asteroids with the occasional frisson of intergalactic adventure.

And then I read a review that said it’s basically an inventory management game and it broke my heart.

Because that’s exactly what it is. You need all kinds of different materials to make things and there isn’t enough room to keep them in any one base, ship or exosuit. So you ferry junk around until you have the chromatic metal and ferrite dust where you need them when you need them.

Sigh. I’ll never be a swashbuckler.

November 1, 2021 — 8:18 pm
Comments: 8

Remember this?

Remember this thing? It’s a relic of around 2000 AD called soda constructor. It’s a little 2D creature simulator. The straight lines are bones or muscles, the dots are joints. When you’ve built a thing and you’re happy with it, run the simulation and it…does stuff.

Walks. Hops. Adjust the stiffness, friction and gravity. And K. I’ve forgotten what K is.

Here’s an interesting interview with the creator, Ed Burton.

The thing in the picture is the default creature. I played with it years ago and managed to shake it up so badly it broke. Lay on the ground quivering. I felt surprisingly awful about that (because I’m an anthropomorphizing moron).

I went to find it today and hit a lot of broken links, but finally managed to find a working version here. Oddly, in the instructions the author says it’s strictly for beta testing and please don’t share the link, so I dunno if I should’ve.

Seems fully working and true to the original. Try a few pre-built models. The default creature is daintywalker.xml. But don’t tell ’em I sent you.

September 1, 2021 — 8:04 pm
Comments: 5

This creepy-ass fox

Welp, I’ve gone back to Skyrim. I was largely inspired by watching this lady play.

Note to self: if you thought you could stream games and your gimmick would be “old lady plays games”, you’re late again.

I like watching her because she doesn’t necessarily play the game the way she’s “supposed” to. If she can’t find out why that man wants her to assassinate his wife, she is by-god not going to do it. And she interacts with NPCs like she’s playing with Barbies. It’s a hoot.

Make your own game is a thing you can do in open world games. There’s a man who plays Far Cry 5, which is set in current day rural Montana. He doesn’t care about the storyline at all, he just wants to go into the woods and shoot bears. With a handgun. That’s the game he wants to play.

Anyway, main stories like to make you do things that are uncomfortable. I don’t know why game designers are like this. No, Skyrim, I don’t particularly want to be co-opted by a cannibal cult. No, I don’t want to crush a political figure to death on her wedding day, while she’s giving a speech to her guests.

And no, I most definitely do not want to beat a priest to death over and over (a minor godling revives him for the purpose) for the sin of treating victims of the plague. Even if I get a really good mace for it.

My first time through Skyrim, I realized I was doing fewer quests and spending more time in the wilderness to hunting, then back to the city to sell my stuff and buy more arrows. Basically, I had a job. But it was a really fun job.

There are 273 scripted quests in the game. But there are 343 locations big enough for a map icon (and about the same number too small for an icon). You can just walk around and mess with things, forever.

August 24, 2021 — 8:24 pm
Comments: 6

Beautiful fake

This is supposedly the most-viewed house in Sussex at the moment and it can be yours for £1M. It is part of the old Tudor Close Hotel and it was the inspiration for the board game Clue (Cluedo in its native Britain).

The hotel was a popular stop for Hollywood celebs in the Thirties. Management often hired actors and put on elaborate murder mysteries to entertain guests. Anthony Pratt hosted one, and then went on to develop Cluedo. Seems a bit of a cheat, really.

The setting is actually still called Tudor Mansion in the game. The house is a fake, kind of. It was built in the Twenties but with original materials – old ship’s beams, Tudor fireplaces. So an authentic fake, I guess.

There is a lot of that kind of architecture around and it really should have its own name. What do I know? It probably does.

Have I played Clue? I so. Is that the one with “Colonel Mustard, in the library, with a candlestick”?

You can get it on Steam now, if you’re so inclined.

August 11, 2021 — 8:45 pm
Comments: 6

Mondays, amirite?

Today, I have been struggling with a spreadsheet AND Twitter support (they suspended my work account, for some reason).

The only cure is to murder orcs horribly. Yes, that’s right. I’m playing Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, a seven year old game this guy called ‘morally repulsive.’

I thought it would be too repetitive, since you basically wander around an ugly gray landscape murdering ugly green orcs, but it’s clear the character designers has way fun designing the ugly green orcs.

You get closeup portraits of guys named Grubrok the Meat Hoarder and Ratbag the Cowardly who taunt you when they find you. Plus you learn a neat move for making an orc’s head explode in a shower of black goo.

I’ll give you morally repulsive.

It does, however, force me out of my comfort zone. I like to run up the side of the building, hide somewhere high and snipe. Queen of the headshot, me. And you can do that plenty, but you also have to get on the ground and swing a sword around to advance the story.

It will not surprise you to learn that I have the reflexes of a woman in her sixties, not a 14-year-old boy. That shit is hard.

Not the least surprised to learn that the developer was accused of pinching code from Assassin’s Creed. Nothing came of it, but can confirm there are serious ‘look and feel’ issues that don’t seem accidental.

March 8, 2021 — 9:04 pm
Comments: 9

Three antlers. Huh.

So Steam had a sale on Eastshade, an open world game where you play a painter, walking around painting stuff.

The reviews all said the world was beautiful and relaxing. The faces are a little creepy, but the landscape is pretty. Tinkly piano music. Everyone plays nice. Sounded promising. Walking around 3D models staring at stuff is my thing.

The scene opens below deck of a ship. It runs aground, the hold fills with water, you can’t escape, fade to black. This…isn’t quite what I was expecting.

Creepy. Yes. There are four species: monkeyface, deerface, owlface and bearface. I ran across the deerface above in the woods. He doesn’t speak. He points at something. I have no idea what. One of my first interactions was an owlface asking me to report a bearface to social services for abusing his kids. There’s something…off about all the conversations.

Then I remembered: people who program video games don’t have a lot of experience with social interaction.

Eh. I bought it, I’ll play it through. I’ve wasted my time in stupider ways.



Back here! Tomorrow! 6 WBT! Dead Pool Round 139!

February 4, 2021 — 8:04 pm
Comments: 10

Huh. I guess.

Looking for something a little different in my escapism, I have played through a game called Journey this weekend. It’s a trippy walking simulator, where you’re this tall thin creature headed toward a mountain. You can walk, fly a little and make a musical noise. That’s all you got.

It takes about three hours. You move through a changing landscape, see some pretty stuff and listen to some pretty music. It’s an unsubtle metaphor for a spiritual journey. I guess. I enjoyed it. I guess.

According to the Wikipedia article, it’s been called “one of the greatest video games of all time” and it won a bunch of game-of-the-year titles.

This is just stupid and it shows you how desperate game reviewers are to be associated with a REAL art form.

Two things I didn’t know when I finished the game last night: the other players you sometimes encounter along the way are real people playing the game and if you sit through the credits, they show you their usernames at the end.

So I replayed the last 45 minutes (that’s where it took me when I hit ‘resume’), sat through the lonnnnnng-ass credits and, sure enough, there were about seven plausible-looking usernames at the end. That’s when I remembered I don’t have a print-screen button on this keyboard.

So that was cool. I guess.

Indie games. Eh?

p.s. Blake has won-a da dick with Dustin Diamond AKA Screech. You know what that means!

February 1, 2021 — 7:52 pm
Comments: 25


I’ve had a fetish for the rooftops of London since I made my poor mother take me to Mary Poppins, like, five freaking times. So I’m having great fun free-running the rooftops in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. Victorian London. Nice.

The game is five years old now (I’m that cheap, yes), so the facial animations aren’t up to the current standard. But the sets – they have that nailed. Go on – click for the big color version. It’s purty.

I don’t usually play the female character, when there’s an option. The computer game fiction that a five-foot-nothin’ girly-girl can coldcock a giant hairy thug just using her adorable little fists…I mean, c’mon. Flying monsters? No problem. Magic spells? Fine. But enough is too much.

But Evie has a pointy stick. And a bitching wardrobe.

Only, it creeps me out how much she looks and sounds like someone I know.

Not talking about Twitter. That place is weird.

November 18, 2020 — 9:08 pm
Comments: 4

When I’m blue, I shoot people

I bet sales of computer games have gone through the roof! I know Steam has offered me several items on my wishlist at nice prices.

Like this one: Far Cry 5. Ubisoft did a clever marketing thing with it; I don’t know if you remember. When it was in development, word got out that your enemy in the game is a bunch of redneck religious nuts in Montana.

Well, the purple hairs loved this. If you’re not aware, computer games are yet another sphere of entertainment they are attempting to suck all the fun out of. The idea that you run around shooting MAGA-hatters delighted a certain chunk of the prospective audience and dismayed an even larger one. It was a tetchy time in 2018.

Then the game came out and it’s true: you shoot rednecks. But you also are a redneck yourself and all your friends and allies are rednecks. This is Montana; it’s rednecks all the way down.

We should have trusted the Far Cry series; it’s gloriously insensitive. You get money shooting endangered species and selling their bits. Not to mention shooting people. Lots and lots of people.

I’m having fun. I only wish I had a real gun 🙁

March 18, 2020 — 9:14 pm
Comments: 9

They make the most adorable sounds when they die

I finished the last of my antibiotics this morning. I don’t know if it’s the sickness or the medicine, but something has transformed my usual robustly lazy self into a still, tranquil lump of inert flesh. Man, I’m tired. I reckon one more weekend of bone idleness should set me on the road to recovery.

Or not. Whatever. I ain’t moving for two days.

To that end, I bought a little game: bad north. It’s a light strategy game from Sweden about Vikings murdering and pillaging your people, but the graphics are so adorable and the music is so catchy it makes genocide positively kawaii.

This is not big brain stuff. I think it’s available in phone edition, so it’s that kind of game. But after an hour or so of gameplay, I think this is a recommend.

Please join me in having an indolent and enjoyable weekend.

November 15, 2019 — 9:06 pm
Comments: 10