Saturday, April 30, 2011

Day of the Moon

I have to say, I'm not convinced. Last week's episode of Doctor Who was great, but this week was a little disappointing. There are a few reasons for that and I think the main one is that too many questions were left unanswered and I don't really get what the Silence's objective is. I guess we're not supposed to know yet. However if they've been around for so long you'd think that The Doctor would have encountered them before, although I suspect there's a timey whimey excuse for that. Then there's the maybe / maybe not pregnancy which just hasn't grabbed me as a storyline. If it's real and Rory's then they could end up leaving to look after it. Which would be sad as Amy is still my favorite of the modern companions. Then there's River Song who I'm afraid I've never liked since she was first introduced. Something about her just bugs me and the idea that The Doctor could fall for her just seems wrong. I've not got a problem with The Doctor hooking up with someone, he's got a grand daughter after all so it must have happened before. I just don't want it to be River. Still I'm not going to quit over one less than stellar episode. I'm still enjoying Matt Smith's portrayal of The Doctor and the show is still far better than most of the other rubbish on TV even when it's not perfect.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding

It's the big news today and it's hard to avoid really. Weddings are not something I'd generally be interested in and it being a royal one doesn't make a lot of difference. However I did watch quite a lot of it. Unless you're a complete stick-in-the-mud anti-royalist (which I'm not) then it's something people are going to presume you've seen. So now I can say I was amused that The Queen had an old lady car blanket on the way to the service and of course that the ring almost didn't fit. That's about it for me, I saw it but wasn't particularly overwhelmed. I have to say that around here there didn't seem to be much in the way of celebrations, no flags or anything, it seemed like a fairly normal day.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Chronicles of Graham

It's been years since I went to a tiny gig in a pokey venue because a friend is in the band. Not since Nailstorm were playing and they broke up in 2002. However now there's Chronicles of Graham and they're starting out with a small pub gig (as support to Vagrant King, another Sheffield band). I'm about to leave for the gig so I don't have time to write much more. I'll return later with pictures/video and in the meantime you can have a listen here: Chronicles Of Graham on Facebook

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

It Continues

The weirdness that is. Today has been a bit of a non-day and I've not really achieved anything. I've also got no idea what to write about here either. Time to draw a line and start fresh tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


It's being a very odd week. There is Easter, bank holidays and people are off work. It's making it very hard to remember what day it is. My schedule is way off. It's going to be another two weeks before things settle down again and then it will nearly be my birthday. I can't believe we've got all the way to May already. Slow down Year!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Battle: LA

I'll admit I've not really read any other reviews of this film but I'd suspect I'm not the first person to describe it like I'm about to. This film is basically the love child of Independence Day and Black Hawk Down. It's takes all the major beats from both films and mixes them together and the end result is actually quite good. Of course it probably helps that I'm already a big fan of both those films. Battle: LA isn't a film that is going to make you sit and think for hours afterwards but it does still offer plenty of entertainment. The plot is fairly simple. Aliens invade the planet and we follow a US military unit as they struggle to defend Los Angeles. There is plenty of action and explosions, speeches and sacrifice. Sometimes that's all you need. Due to the way they've formatted the title I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Battle: Washington or Battle: London one day. Nothing has been announced that I'm aware of, but I would watch them.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

Whether it's about the resurrection, the renewal of the Earth or large amounts of chocolate, I hope you've had a nice day.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Come Along Pond

Doctor Who is back and seems to be on top form so far. Lots of lovely timey whimey stuff as seems to be usual in a Moffat episode now. I enjoyed the episode but I'm a little busy doing some work related video production so I don't have the time to do a full write up other than "arrgh cliffhangers!". So I'll do a proper post next week after we know what happens in part two.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Catch Up

Busy catching up with some work today after not getting much done yesterday. At least the phone has been quiet today and most people are off for the bank holiday. Nothing much else to say today, going to just watch some TV now. Also Doctor Who tomorrow!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


They may be getting a little old but the show was still great. They of course played some classics but also some new stuff too which was cool. I've not actually heard the new album yet. See some pictures here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Magnum Live

I'm posting much earlier than usual today as I'm going to see Magnum in concert this evening and my plans this afternoon are in flux as I wait to hear from friends coming from out of town. I don't see how an evening of seventies prog rock can be bad!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

First Impressions: Portal 2

Portal was a short indie game which Valve picked up and helped to polish. It was released as an extra bonus along with the game Half Life 2, Values biggest property (other than Steam). That put the game in front of a lot of eyes and with its clever puzzles and humorous dialogue it quickly became a huge hit. Quotes from the game are now deeply ingrained in to gaming culture. That was 2007 so it's safe to say that anticipation for the sequel has been high, but of course that means it has a lot to live up to.

I've played for about an hour and a half now and so far I'd day it does live up to its predecessor. That amount of play time in the original and I'd have pretty much completed it, but this time as a stand alone product it's much longer and I feel like I've barely started. The puzzles are still clever and challenging enough. With even more features this time there's a not more to think about and I'm still in the fairly basic early stages I believe. I've certainly not seen all of the features shown in the trailers yet. It does throw you in to the action quite quickly so I would say that, if you haven't, you should play the original first. I'm looking forward to playing some more. I can't help wonder about the end credits though. I just don't see how it will ever be possible to top the brilliant song Still Alive by Jonathan Coulton. I suspect they'll just reprise it, but I'm ready to be surprised and I'm not reading anything about it on the Internet until I'm done.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Game of Thrones

I have at various times in the past heard about George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire novels and came to understand that they were great examples of epic fantasy and had a huge fan base. However other than that I've never known any of the details about the setting, the characters or the story. They're on my list of books to read 'one day'. So when HBO announced they were going to make the books into a TV series I was interested but not as excited as some people. Still this evening I watched the premiere on Sky Atlantic, actually watching live TV for a change rather than a recording. It looked and sounded absolutely great, sets and CG mixing well. Sean Bean is suddenly looking quite old or perhaps it was makeup. This is a episode of many introductions. There are lots of characters and many names that I don't remember yet. There are castles in various locations from the frozen north to a sandy beach across the sea. The opening titles were very nice, flying about a map showing different cities. I would have had no idea about the physical relationships of these places without that. Still at this point I have no idea about any overall plot or theme beyond various people wanting to be king. What's interesting is they've committed to making one TV season per book in the series rather than expanding and dragging it out. Although there is to be 7 books but only 5 are written, so that could cause some interesting scheduling down the line. Though it does mean that there is a plan and an end. Still it's hard to imagine that this could still be going in 2018 when I'll nearly be 40! Until then I'm looking forward to episode 2.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

F1 is Back

I've been watching Formula 1 since the nineties when Damon Hill was driving for the Williams team and they were still allowed to be sponsored by cigarette brands. I've drifted away and back again a few times over the years but I've always paid it at least some attention. Unfortunately over the years as technology has improved it's got increasingly less interesting to watch. With 2-3 teams dominating the others and very few overtaking opportunities and races were being decided on qualifying performance and pit stop strategy. The only things which were bringing unexpected results where accidents and weather, neither of which happened very often. The FIA obviously noticed this and have been tweaking the rules a lot over the last few years. Now it's started to look like they've got it close to right this year. The teams and the fans were all unsure about the additions of the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) and the Drag Reduction System (DRS) but those systems along with the new tyre types is what made today's race in China the most interesting there has been for quite a while. I've heard some people saying the DRS creates false overtaking, but it's not a magic press to overtake button, it still requires skill to know when and where to use it. The DRS is a fine addition as far as I'm concerned.

So toady's race with all the action and pit stops took my back to the feeling of the nineties and reminded me why I started watching F1 in the first place. However that started me thinking. Back then I used to be a supporter of the Williams team but that support has dwindled to nothing over the years. Now I'm just watching without rooting for anyone in particular and I think that need to change. Williams are a bit of a non-team at the moment, generally stuck in the mid field and not making much of an impact. Red Bull would be the obvious choice, they have the current world champion and probably the greatest engineer but that feels like I'd just be picking them because they're winning. Ferrari I've never liked, which is probably Schumacher's fault but the damage is done. McLaren would be a possibility if not for Lewis Hamilton, he gets on my nerves the same way the Schumacher used to. At the moment I'm liking Lotus Renault GP. They've got good drivers and a car which looks to have the power to stay with the big teams. With some work they could be the surprise of the year. They're fourth in the constructors championship after three races, while their drivers are seventh and eighth. Also they've got cool black & gold cars.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Too Many Things

So I said I'd try and watch the Lord of the Rings again this weekend. It didn't happen on Friday night, nor did it happen this evening. Of course when I said that I hadn't thought about what else was on this weekend. First it's an F1 weekend, then it's also the start of snooker world championship. On top of that Fringe & Smallville were back on TV and then Game of Thrones starts on Monday. With all of that plus the usual work and chores there is simply no time left for a four hour film. Some time soon though.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Lord of the Rings

I think that after seeing that new Hobbit video yesterday that I'm going to have to re-watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy this weekend. I wonder if many other people have had that thought. Of course it's a fairly large time investment so it's possible it might take a little longer than that, we shall see.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Hobbit

Filming has started on The Hobbit and Peter Jackson has posted a video blog about it. If you've not seen it yet then you probably should. It's going to be a long 2-3 years!!/video/video.php?v=10150223186041807&oid=141884481557&comments

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Paper Towns

I first discovered John Green as one of the Vlog Brothers, it was only later that I discovered that his main job was as a writer. I'd become a fan of him (and Hank) by that point and so I decided I should plan to read his books. They've won awards and seem to have generally good reviews, especially among Nerdfighteria (the community surrounding the Vlog Brothers' videos). If you don't count the free novella Zombicorns, which I don't think John Green would, then this is the first of his books that I have read. It's not his first book, but they're not linked in any way that I'm aware of and this was the first to be available on Kindle. The thing is now I'm really not sure what to say about the book. It's a young adult mystery/adventure set in Florida. It's a story which is so different to the epic space operas I usual read that I don't have any reference to compare it to. I suppose that it's a new genre to explore and this will always be the base reference from now on. Still I know this, I enjoyed it and found it hard to put down. It had excitement, it had sadness, it even had the power to make me laugh out loud. Good job.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

First Impressions: Gratuitous Space Battles

This is another game that doesn't require a huge time investment to play. It's been out for a while and I've owned ti for quite a long time too, but I've never played it until this week when I was in the mood for something new. I've never actually known a lot lot about it. I think I just bought it for cheap in one of the Steam sales simply because of the name. For the reason this biggest surprise of the game for me was the fact that you don't directly control any of the space battles. All you do is watch them. The game is to construct different types of ships, form fleets & refine tactics then watch how they fare. Now I'll admit that's probably not going to sit well with everybody and I expect that this will only appeal to a small percentage of people. That will be why it is only an independent Steam game. However I'm the sort of person it does appeal to and it is also done really well. It's the perfect game for when you don't want to be rushed or have to be 100% focused.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Mass Effect Extras

There were two pieces of minor Mass Effect news this week, neither of which were really big enough for a dedicated post but I can now put them together to fill in a gap when I've got nothing else to talk about. The first piece of news its the announcement of a forth installment in the book series to be titled Mass Effect: Deception. I'm sure I'll end up reading this but I'm less excited about it than the other three as the writing duties have switched to a new author, someone I've not heard of or read before. As Drew Karpyshyn is busy working on Star Wars: The Old Republic the new Mass Effect book it being written by William C. Dietz. For now I'll keep an open mind.

The second piece of news is the announcement of an anime feature set in the Mass Effect universe. When it was announced that this was happening to Dragon Age I was skeptical, now the same company has picked up Mass Effect I'm equally skeptical. I guess if the story is good enough it will work. I just worry as the Internet tells me that FUNimation don't have the best reputation for animation quality.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

First Impressions: Hoard

YOU ARE THE DRAGON: Scare villages! Burn castles! Kidnap princesses! Roast pesky knights! Collect gold and gems!

A recent addition to the Steam library, Hoard is a small strategy games from the independent company Big Sandwich Games. I was intrigued by the description right away, it looked like it was going to be fun. The basic concept of the game is quite simple, collect as much treasure as possible. However there are a lot of different ways to do this which allows for a decent amount of strategic play. The graphical style is simple but goes well with the style of play. It's fairly typical of indie development to go like that but this is a good example of the style. It all seems well put together and I didn't encounter and bugs or problems yet. It's a great game for when you only have a small bit of time to spare with games taking less than fifteen minutes it's perfect for when you don't have hours to invest. I do expect that it won't last forever and will eventually get a bit repetitive though. However the multiplayer modes will probably be much longer lasting fun but I haven't tried that yet.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Defeated By Batteries

I was going to make a new video this evening. I had it all planned and everything. I even knew that my battery was low so I put it on charge this afternoon. However when I came to turn the camera on I still for some reason got a low battery warning and it turned itself off. Curses! Something went wrong somewhere but I've no idea where. That plan will have to wait for another day now.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Solid Goals

These are something I need more of. Especially when it comes to the business side of my life. I've been working late on a website this evening so I've been thinking about it and what I need to stabilise my work load. Of course sorting that out is one of my overall goals for the year but it's about time I started making some more progress towards it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

First Impressions: Alien Breed 2: Assault

Another game I recently completed was Alien Breed: Impact but at the time I didn't really have a lot to say about it. It's a good fun game when you just want to spend and hour or so shooting some aliens. It looks and sounds great but there's not much else to it. still sometimes that's what you need and Alien Breed did it well. It's only a short game and it was only cheap on Steam as well. It was obvious from the start the should this make a profit then a long line of sequels would appear. Of course that happened before I'd even finished playing the first game when Alien Breed 2 & 3 were released. It turned out to be even more overt than that with the end of the Alien Breed: Impact story basically being a "To Be Continued" moment.

So I've now moved on to Alien Breed 2: Assault which picks up with you already on the alien spaceship directly following the end of Alien Breed: Impact. This game has been created using exactly the same engine and tools as the first and is basically more of the same but with a green HUD instead of blue. I've only played the first level so far but there were a couple of minor differences here. There seems to be more scripted events happening in this one and more camera pans to show the results of your actions. There are also more sections with a non-standard fixed camera angle which alters the game play from the normal top down setting. It's been good so far and I'm looking forward to finishing it and eventually playing Alien Breed 3: Descent.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Completed: The Longest Journey

Way back in my Amiga days I played some adventure games with the likes of Gobliiins 3 and of course Monkey Island. However between then and now there have not been many others. Although one stand out mention should go to Star Trek: TNG - A Final Unity which combines the adventure genre with a couple of other elements and was one of the first games I ever owned for PC. Of course even that was 16 years ago. The game which brought me back to the genre was of course Machinarium. After playing and enjoying that I decided I'd see what else there was available. This led me to the adventure section of the Steam catalogue, a section I'd not really looked at in detail before. There is quite a lot in there with a wide array of stories and difficulties. I figured the Nancy Drew ones were probably not aimed at me, but there are still a lot of other choices. Some were recent games which I'd not heard about. Others were older names of which I had some knowledge and understood to be classics such as Myst or The Longest Journey, so I decided to start there. I started playing The Longest Journey a while ago but was then distracted by other things. Finally I've got back to it over the last few days and this evening I completed it.

I talked about the great background art along with the low detail character models in my original first impressions post, so I won't go in to that here. Most of the puzzles in the game were fairly straightforward but there were a couple of exceptions and one point were I had to look up an answer. However unlike Machinarium the main strength of this game is the story not the puzzles. A tale of parallel worlds, one of magic and the other of logic, the balance between the two worlds is failing and it falls to you to restore it. I'm a big fan of alternate universes and also of science fiction and fantasy, so as this game has all of those together in one compelling story it was the perfect combination for me. The sound and music was great as was the voice acting. The graphics are looking dated but not enough to take you out of it while everything else around it so good. That's one more down from the long list of games I've been meaning to finish for ages. Next up will probably be its sequel, Dreamfall.

Monday, April 4, 2011


As a fan of the original version I really wasn't convinced a new version was entirely necessary. However after seeing this new trailer it seems that it actually might be quite good.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


I win! Yay, that doesn't happen very often.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Veda / Beda

That stands for vlog (or blog) every day in April. It's a concept that I'd never heard of before but have seen a few people mention it recently. Of course I already write a blog post everyday and have done for the last year so I guess I'm automatically taking part in Beda. Now as for video blogs I don't think I have anywhere near enough content to make a video every day for a month. Not only that it's quite time consuming so I don't think there would ever be enough time. Hats off to anyone that does manage that.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Moments of Gaming (March 2011)

For the last two or three months I've been a bit disappointed with the end result for my MoG videos. I'm not sure why. Perhaps I rushed them or didn't spend enough time choosing the music, don't really know. Although the BioWare one is still my favorite I'm much more pleased with the result this month. As expected the majority of footage is from Dragon Age 2. Even though there are still games like Mass Effect and Alien Breed in the mix I decided some music with a more fantasy feel would be better than the heavy guitars I've used a lot recently. I think I found something that fits quite well with both the fantasy and future settings in the end. As I write this the video is still uploading, so I don't know for sure, but because of one particular shot I think I'm going to get slapped with an EA copyright claim again. I probably should have just left that out, we shall see later on I guess.

Edit to add:No copyright claim (yet), which is good as I don't need my account getting in to bad standing.

Watch the video here: