Friday, December 31, 2010


Looking back at 2010 I'd have to say it was mostly disappointing. There were definitely highlights, I started this blog for example. However overall I think there were more failures than successes. I've let work get on top of me and missed many deadlines. I've not kept in touch with people nearly as much as I could. I've let myself get even more out of shape than I've been in the past. Many times I've attempted to get out of the rut I've been in but have never entirely succeeded. Here's hoping 2011 is an improvement, but more on that another day.

One thing I have really enjoyed this year has been editing Moments of Gaming. It's fun to do despite the fact that very few people watch it. So I've been thinking about other video projects I could do. I'll still do MOG for a while I think but I'm not sure about it's long term potential, not enough ratings, I may have to cancel it! LOL.

In the meantime I've changed my mind on the concept of video blogging. At first I wrote I didn't think I'd be very good at it. Then as I watched more I decided that I couldn't say that for sure until I actually tried it. So this afternoon I recorded myself talking about some stuff and then edited it. I almost didn't post it but in the end decided that was just the standard, creator not liking their own work. So in addition to my main Slayweb channel, Life Of Doon now has it's own separate You Tube channel which you can find here:

Whether I make it a thing is still to be decided.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Golems of Amarak

This standalone story for Dragon Age is one I'd originally planned to play back in my Bioware month but in the end I didn't have enough time. I finally started playing this earlier in December but was then distracted by work and Christmas. Then this afternoon I decided I should get around to finishing it before I start thinking about a new Moments of Gaming video.

This story supposedly takes place after the events of Origins and Awakening but before Witch Hunt. However there is very little that actually ties it to any of the other storylines and so it could be at any time after you have first met the dwarves and sorted their king situation. As you'll know if you've read any of my other posts about Dragon Age, my character Marcus the Warrior went on the Witch Hunt before heading to the Deep Roads in search of Golems. Although it won't be the case for everyone that actually makes sense for this character as Morrigan refused his company at the end of Witch Hunt.

Unfortunately the main impression I've been left with after playing is that it was short, very short, even shorter than Witch Hunt. It basically only consists of two play areas. There are some fancy tricks in the main area which allows for multiple uses of the same place but it's not enough to consider it a whole separate section. I don't know exactly how long it took me to play as I did so in two separate sessions nearly a month apart, but I'd guess each session lasted less than an hour.

What was there was fun but it was not particularly deep or challenging. I'm glad I gave it a go, one last hurrah for Marcus before he has to retire to The Deep. There are no more adventures left for him to play, but I won't be rushing to play through it again with any of my other characters.

Of all the Dragon Age modules there are still a couple of variations of the the Origins and Awakening stories which I've not tried and one story which I've not touched at all yet, The Darkspawn Chronicles. It's only three months now until Dragon Age II arrives in March so I shall have to make a point to finish those first thing next year.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Good Intentions

I was planning to write about something interesting today and have a decent length post which I haven't done for nearly a week now. I'm running late today now though and don't really have enough time. It will have to be tomorrow now, sorry.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Out of time. I'm not back in my normal routine after Christmas yet. Almost forgot to post something.

Monday, December 27, 2010

And it's over

I'm back at home now after Christmas away. Had a great time with lots of good food and nice presents. Back to work tomorrow though.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Bow ties are cool

New Doctor Who was great but I don't really have a lot of time to write about it just now. Not a lot of the Ponds in this one but Matt Smith is still doing good as the Eleventh Doctor. It was a brilliant remix of of the Christmas Carol story, with more fish from space (although a different type). It was all very Christmassy. Also brilliant was the brief trailer for the next series, can't wait!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

It's Christmas!

Somehow now that it's finally Christmas day I'm actually looking forward to it. Presents, food, family and new Doctor Who! Here's hoping everyone out there has a great day whether you're celebrating Christmas or something else. Now for your entertainment here's a picture of a kitten with a Santa hat.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Travels

I'm off down south to my Grandma's for Christmas. Travelling today and then back here again on Monday. I'm going to switch to posting in the morning while I'm away as I don't where I'll be during the rest of the day. Have safe travels and a great Christmas everybody.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

First Impressions: Sonic Colours

I've been a bit of a Sonic fan from the beginning. I've played and re-played the first three games many times over the years first on the MegaDrive then later on emulators. So when I was looking for new DS games recently the new Sonic Colours seemed like a good choice. I've not played it a lot yet but what I have played was not as good as I'd have hoped. There is way more story than there ever was in the originals, there's cutscenes and voiceovers. It takes a good five minutes before you can even get to the action, even longer it you do the tutorial too. Sonic has more advanced moves now than he did in a old days. Slides and wall jumping and things in addition to the standard run and jump. The levels look nice but one problem is that the action seems to arbitrarily swap between the two DS screens and you can never be sure when it's going to happen. It doesn't really flow very well. I guess that's just a DS issue and it wouldn't be that way in the Wii version. Also I know Sonic is all about speed but this feels like it's going too fast. There doesn't feel like there is chance to explore and of the alternative routes as by the time you noticed them they're long gone. On the grand scale of things it's not a bad game but to me there does seem to be a lot of wasted potential.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

This is a placeholder

One which I may or may not edit later. Christmas brings visitors so I might be busy.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Parcelforce Fail

Nothing much to post today expect for my disappointment in Parcelforce. I waiting for a parcel which is currentlt stuck at their depot in Coventry. They say they're trying to deliver as soon as possible but they don't seem to be trying very hard. All the main roads are clear at the moment so what's the problem? Royal Mail and City Link mangaged ok! I'd also bet when they do finally turn up they go to the wrong building as usual so I have to make a trip to the post office.

Monday, December 20, 2010

It Eludes Me

The Christmas spirit that is. Maybe it's all the postal delays and snow related hassles. Maybe it's the fact that I'm behind on a lot of my work. Maybe I'm just tired. I still haven't caught the Christmas spirit. I've bought presents (bar one) and written cards but that didn't help. I don't know why but it just doesn't feel right this year. Like it's rapidly approaching but I'm not ready for it. Perhaps that will change when I get out of Sheffield for a few days, that is of course if the snow lets me.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

First Impressions: Phantom Hourglass

Of course the full name of the game is The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass but that's way to long for a post title. This is the first of the Zelda games made for the DS. It's three years old now but I've not owned a DS that long and I get though games on it at a much slower pace than I do on PC. Technically I've not played a lot of Zelda games before but back in my student days I did watch a lot being played. A group a us would all be watching a making suggestions but as they're single player games only one person could actually be in control. That of course was for the classics Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask.

Now the DS takes more of the cell shaded look from Windwaker but I'm sure that suits the graphics processor in the DS far more than the latest Twilight Princess look anyway! I've played as far as the first boss fight and it's been great so far. The best part is probably a control scheme they've come up with using the stylus rather than the d-pad which is perfectly suited for the DS and plays completely naturally. The puzzles in the two dungeons I've been through so far were well done too and a good introduction. I'm looking forward to playing more.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Project for Awesome

My recent new obsession with You Tube video bloggers has introduce me to a new thing which some of the more famous bloggers have organized called the Project for Awesome. They basically spam You Tube with a whole load of charity related vdieos and raise a bunch of money it's pretty simple really. That was yesterday so it's mostly over now except for a live show going on later this evening. As I write this they've raised $74,647 so far which is cool for a group of You Tubers. The power of the Internet!

Friday, December 17, 2010

God of Clocks

The third and presumably final volume of Alan Campbell's Deepgate Codex is God of Clocks which I finished reading yesterday. Looking back calling it the the Deepgate Codex seems like an odd choice as only the first book takes place there, the rest is on an entirely different continent along with other dimensions as well including heaven and hell. Be aware that while I won't get into all the specific details I am about to spoil the end of the story. It all starts off very much the same as Iron Angel picking up right where that left off in fact. That all changes pretty quickly when a duplicate Rachel turns up and we discover that the god of clocks has control of time. Now I'm big fan of time travel and alternate universe stories so this sounded like it would be great and it was for the most part. The mechanism for travelling though time was interesting and quite complicated. There was also plenty of fun to be had dealing with paradoxes, such as repeatedly travelling back to the same time to create an army of reinforcements of yourself. However the problem came at the end. The main characters complete their journey though time and succeed in changing history. This is of course means the from an external point of view none of it ever happened, so things like John Anchor and Carnival's journey through the maze of hell had no point. If the god of clocks was that powerful why didn't they go and help Rachel and Dill instead? I did enjoy the book, it's just the ending was a bit disappointing.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The snow, it came back!

The very day that the last traces of the snow finally melted here it all starts over again! It's not too bad yet but I'd put money on there being more to come. I took a couple of snowfall videos for Twitter earlier and I'm going to re-post them here for lack of a more interesting topic this evening. Let talk about the weather! There's about three hours in between the two videos.

Video 1 - It starts

Video 2 - Not stopped yet

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


There's been quite a few new interesting trailers coming out for next year recently. Here's a few (click the links to view).

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Looks like it could be a bit of fun but I'm still not sure if it will work as well without Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Obviously not expecting Oscar nominations for story here but it should still be entertaining.

The Green Hornet
I've never really known a lot about the Green Hornet but I'm aware he's a popular character and it looks kinda cool.

Cowboys & Aliens
Cowboys, Aliens, Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde. Not much else you can ask for really.

Green Lantern
Another popular comic that I don't actually know a lot about, trailer looks good though.

And of course finally a new chapter in the Marvel universe building up to The Avengers. Looking forward to this one.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


No time today, working late again, lots to do. Only like 10 days till Christmas and I'm totally not feeling the spirit yet.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Today the Steam treasure hunt lead me to buy this breakout clone game. It a great version of an old classic with various twists on the basic format and a huge variety of different levels. The circular ones make it much harder to anticipate the angles for example. Graphics are nice and the sound design too. The only problem I'm having is that I've not been able to get the score necessary for the hunt objective yet! Still not the end of the world. I was never aiming to get the full 28 anyway, I've already purposely missed some. You only need 10/28 to enter the grand prize draw and I'm currently on 9/16.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


The Video Game Awards from Spike TV have become quite hyped up and a fairly major event for the industry. The show itself is pretty typical with celebrities reading from teleprompters and a couple of naff bands. The awards themselves are also pretty underwhelming seemingly quite evenly distributed across all the major games releases. It's all a big advertising excuse I guess from a TV channel that call itself a "network for men", although it seems UFC & wrestling is a big part of their schedule. However they did do some nice things with augmented reality and virtual sets.

Still I was glad to see Bioware win "Studio of the Year" and to see StarCraft 2 win "Best PC Game". Mass Effect 2 of course won "Best RPG" although I would have thought it would get more, in particular "Best DLC". I was surprised to see Red Dead Redemption win "Game of the Year", especially up against Call of Duty: Black Ops and Mass Effect 2. It's possible though that I'm being unfair to RDR as I've not played it due to it's Xbox only nature. Portal 2 being "Most Anticipated for 2011" I would have agreed with, up until the VGA show. The show has become so big that some studios are using it to make major announcements. Two in particular got my attention.

There's no official way to watch the awards show here in the UK. The Pre-show is streamed on the Internet but for the main show you need the Spike TV channel in the US. Thanks to that I ended up on one of those slightly dodgy websites that let you stream TV channels from other countries. I even had to swap a couple of times as there were dropping out under the extra pressure. Normally I wouldn't have bothered (just read about it) but over the last two weeks Bioware has been teasing followers of their Facebook & Twitter feeds with hints that there will be major announcement at the VGAs. There's been all sorts of speculation about it recently but in the end it turned to be for Mass Effect 3. This was a little bit of a let down as we've known Mass Effect was going to be a trilogy since the beginning so it was not really a big surprise. I, like many others, were hoping they were starting a new IP. However we did get a release date "Holiday 2011" and a fancy trailer which you can see here: Mass Effect 3 Trailer

What was a big surprise was Bethesda making an announcement which I had no idea was coming. Seeing as it's an ongoing series I knew there would be one eventually but same as ME3 I wasn't really expecting to see this until 2012. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has been announced and will be out in less than a year on 11/11/11. There's not a lot of information about this yet as no-one knew it was coming so soon. The teaser trailer seems in indicate dragons will be involved and of course from the title we know the game will take place in Skyrim this time, but that's about it. I can't wait to see some screenshots for this as they've apparently got a brand new engine. Watch the teaser here: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Another small puzzle game on offer as part of the Steam treasure hunt. This one has a similar concept to the old boardgame Downfall. You have to rotate the various pieces of the board to create a path for the falling objects and the more links you can make the more points you get. It was harder to reach the necessary score for the objective in this one when compared to Chime. Also I can see this one being more fun in the long run as there are a lot more options available. Definitely worth grabbing while it's only £2.

Friday, December 10, 2010


Video blogs are not something I can't imagine myself ever doing. Although I'd probably like the editing part I don't think I'd ever have enough to say. I just don't think fast enough, which is why I prefer to write. However after a recommendation I've suddenly subscribed to a bunch on You Tube. There's a ton of entertaining people out there with a lot videos to watch. When you find someone new it usually ends up with you watching though their archive which can be quite large in some cases. Another Internet obsession for me to use up all my time on. Except for right now when I have some new Steam treasure hunt objectives to complete.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Chime & The UnderGarden

Set a leaderboard score of at least 1,124,400 in easy (9 minute) mode for the 'Paul Hartnoll' level in Chime

That was the first treasure hunt objective I needed to make an effort to complete. I'd considered buying Chime a couple of times before so when a 75% discount reduced the price to only £1 it was impossible to say no really. Meeting the requirements for the objective were quite easy I found. The game is casual puzzle type game involving music and block stacking. It's a mix of a few different games including Tetris along with one I remember from years ago, but I just can't remember the name. I found it to be loads of fun and have continued playing it even after completing the treasure hunt objective. The only problem I can see is that there are only a few levels so I'm not sure the fun will last for very long before it gets repetitive.

Play the demo or game The UnderGarden

Play a demo? I can manage that quite easily. When The UnderGarden came out a few weeks ago I mostly ignored it because the main character looked a bit too cutesy. The visuals looked nice but I didn't think it would be for me. The demo mostly confirmed this. The game has a great look and feel but the game play is too basic. It's a very simple physics puzzle game for which I had no trouble getting to 100% on. I suppose the full game might get harder but I'm guessing not and that based on the look that it's aimed at people a lot younger than me. It's not that I didn't enjoy it, just that in a world where I've got too many games to play there are more interesting alternatives.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Steam are having an interesting event at the moment. Rather than their usual type of sale this time we've got objectives to complete along with the various game discounts in The Great Steam Treasure Hunt. Some of the objectives are simple and related to the community such as setting an avatar or adding ten friends. Others are related to games and involve getting a particular achievement or setting a specific score. That's so far anyway, there are four new objectives every two days (until 20th December) and we're on the second set as I write this. For every objective completed in each set you get an entry into a prize draw to win the top five games on your wishlist. Then at the very end if you've completed ten objectives or more you get entered into a grand prize draw to win 100 games of your choice from their catalogue. Although it seems as usual not everyone agrees but it's pretty cool if you ask me. I've completed 5 out of 8 objectives so far and tried two new games in the process. The community objectives were simple, I already had the necessary requirements so that was no effort. One of today's objectives was to recruit a companion in Fallout: New Vegas, obviously I'd done that one already too. When a game is required for an objective a discount is available to go with it. I've already gone on long enough for today so I'll talk about the new games I've played tomorrow. I don't really expect to win anything, it's still a bit of fun though.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


It's that time of the evening when I'm thinking I should post something here and realizing I've got nothing in particular to talk about. Still lots of pre-Christmas work going on in addition to my new Genie server setup so most of my day has been boring technical stuff. I've not really played any games since finishing Fallout: New Vegas except for a little Dragon Age but not really enough to be worth mentioning. Perhaps I'll do something interesting tomorrow (it's not looking likely). In the meantime I'll start moving the next Genie site from the old server to the new one. Fun!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Genie Upgrades

I've got another new server to deal with today which is keeping me busy. This time however it's not for a specific client or project. I've treated my own company to a brand new dedicated server with more space and power than my current setup. It's more expensive but I think it will be worth it in the long run. Over the next few days I'll have to move all my existing sites over to it which I have to make sure to plan properly so there's not too much downtime (Yes, that includes your sites Fiona). Yay for more power and room to expand!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Completed: Fallout: New Vegas

Today I completed my first playthrough of Fallout: New Vegas so it's time for a look back. I must say that despite a few bugs I really enjoyed the game, even more than Fallout 3. This post is going to contain information about specific plots and choices. If you'd rather read an overview with less spoilers then have a look at my earlier first impressions post instead.
(pics can be clicked for larger versions)

Let me start by taking about Hardcore mode. When I first started the game I was unsure if I should try it on my first go. In the end I'm glad I did. It's really not a lot more difficult and makes you take more care in how you organize your life in the Mojave. It's still not even close to being realistic as I've mentioned before. You can still travel crazy distances without needing to rest or eat and that's with you essentially jogging all the time. I wonder whether any developers will try something similar in the future when looking at the Steam achievement stats at this time only 6.2% of people who have completed the game have done so in Hardcore mode.

One of the major additions to this game was the faction system and that worked really well. In fact it worked so well it nearly forced me to end my game and start again. There are many small factions such as the Boomers or the Fiends, but the two main factions New California Republic (NCR) and The Legion hate each other so it's impossible to build your reputation with one without destroying your reputation with the other. I'd been helping the NCR as they're the closest you're going to get to good guys in this game, not perfect but good intentioned. The Legion are slavers after all. So the NCR liked me but The Legion did not. Then as part of the main storyline Mr House (leader of New Vegas) told me I needed to visit The Legion's HQ to retrieve something. I was then visited by a Legion representative who told me my past crimes had been forgiven and that they considered me neutral again. Thus leaving me free to travel to their HQ and talk to them. However it being a free roaming game I decided I didn't want to go there right away. I didn't really give it much thought but in the meantime I did some more jobs for the NCR including liberating a town called Nelson from Legion clutches and killing a bunch of their soldiers. By which point I was vilified by The Legion again. That meant that when it was time to me to retrieve the platinum chip from their fort my only option was to slaughter them all and that was a very tough job which took multiple attempts. Thankfully I did eventually get the chip and didn't have to start my game again.

The end game was another example of faction choices affecting the game in ways I didn't expect. Throughout most of the game I'd been doing lots of jobs for the NCR. I delivered messages & supplies, helped boost morale, collected bounties and offered training, but it was more of a mercenary relationship rather than out of any particular loyalty. So when it came time to choose a side and help them secure the Hoover Dam I felt like that game was drawing me to side with Mr House in order to keep New Vegas independent. However a couple of the things Mr House asked me to do during that process I wasn't entirely happy doing. The biggest problem was he asked me to destroy the local Brotherhood of Steel chapter. The Brotherhood only have a minor role in this game but they're a big part of the overall Fallout universe and I've always been loyal to them in the past. It was too late for me to turn back at that point though, I'll have to make it up to them next time! It does seem though that the developers have arranged it so it's impossible to get a perfect ending for everybody.

Finally I'll mention the companion characters. What's odd is that in the first three Fallout games even though they were available I never felt the need to recruit any companions. Yet when I met Veronica at the 188 on my way to New Vegas and she asked if she could come along I felt like I couldn't say no. I never regretted that decision, she was funny to talk to and useful in combat. I never did find her that dress she wanted. After that I even looked out for the others and ended up with the robot ED-E as well for the majority of the game. Although I accidentally got him killed in the final battle, still I like to believe he was fixable afterwards.

The game gets a high recommendation from me, any RPG fan out there should give it a go.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

RPG Names

The addition of full voice overs for characters in RPGs in the last few years has led to some interesting compromises in player naming which I guess you could call a generic title. In older games you would type in your character name and the game could refer to you by that name because all the speech interaction was text based. In more recent titles actors are being hired to voice those lines instead. However that means they can't refer to the character by name as it would be impossible to record every possible variation for all the possible names a player could choose.

So that has led to the generic title I mentioned which I've been thinking about today. In Fallout: New Vegas you're "The Courier". In Fallout 3 you're "The Vault Dweller" or "The Lone Wanderer". In Neverwinter Nights 2 you're "Harbourman" or "Knight Captain". In Dragon Age you're "Warden". In Mass Effect you can pick your first name but your surname is fixed as Shepard so you're either called that or Commander and I understand they're taking a similar stance for Dragon Age 2 where you will be called Hawke.

Mass Effect and Dragon Age seem to be attempting to find a way to get away from the generic title to something a bit more personal while still leaving a little room for customization. This all got me wondering why there have not been a lot of advances in the area of voice synthesis. This seems like a perfect place such a technology could be used (other than reading to the blind of course). It could reduce your voice actor budget for ancillary characters and add more variety. Although based on the last voice synth I heard that will be a while off. That was on the Kindle which has an option to read to you but it still sounds like Stephen Hawking.

Friday, December 3, 2010


I've always liked snow. Probably partly because we never used to get a lot in this country. Now this year we've had the earliest start to winter that I ever remember and we're getting record levels of snowfall. For the most part I'm not really affected by this. I work from home and I don't own a car so travel and commuting is not a problem for me (although technically I was planning a trip before the trains were cancelled). If anything this week has been quieter than usual as half of my clients can't get to their offices! The biggest downside so far is that the local shop has now run out of milk and bread as they've not been able to get any deliveries. Now what I'm starting to think about is Christmas presents. I usually order everything online, not just for Christmas but pretty much everything. Problem now is I've not had any post here for a week now as I'm on an unimportant side road which has not been cleared as it doesn't go anywhere. So if I were to order anything I'd have no idea when it might turn up. The weather isn't showing any sign of getting better and it will probably get worse first. This country definitely need to up it's game in terms of snow clearing as it's obviously not going away any time soon.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mass Effect: Retribution

I've mentioned it before a few times I know but I really enjoy the Mass Effect universe. Today I'm going to talk about Drew Karpyshyn's third expanded universe book, Mass Effect: Retribution. I enjoyed this one a lot as evidenced by how quickly I got through it. This book felt different to me when compared to the first two books, but that is a matter of context not content.

The first book (Revelation) is set years before Mass Effect 1. The second book (Ascension) is set in between Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2. However I didn't read either book until after I'd completed Mass Effect 2. This book is set in between Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3. Of course ME3 isn't out yet and won't be for a couple of years yet. So while the first two books had a 'filling the blanks' kind of feel this one had more of a 'hints of things to come' vibe.

The style of the writing and the story is unchanged and still feels like a part of the overall universe. It was great to see Anderson back to the forefront this time around. After being a big part of book one his presence was missed in the second one. We also get some interesting information about the nature of the Omega space station but I'll avoid mentioning anything more spoilery.

I'm not aware of any plans for more books in this series but I hope there are at some point. I suppose that won't happen until after Mass Effect 3 is released. In the meantime suppose I should look in to the comics range.

After finishing this for a while I wasn't sure what I was going to read next. Then I remembered I do have a couple of things waiting, it's just they're the old fashioned print on paper sort! I'm getting very used to my Kindle now.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Moments of Gaming (November 2010)

Well that was very much a make it up as you go along affair. Usually I've got at least some kind plan when I start making these videos no matter how small. This time that was not the case. Thanks to the issues I explained yesterday I just wasn't really sure where to begin so I just started and figured I see where it ends up. I picked some music in a style I'd not really used before and set to it. The one benefit of using a psytrance track is that they're usually quite long. So for once I didn't have to worry about mixing or bridging two tracks to get some length. It's not the greatest video ever but I think it turned reasonably well considering the haphazard approach. See for yourself here: