Showing posts from 2009

An open letter to all MPs

Dear Members of Parliament, I am not the kind of person to describe tax as theft: I understand that the money gained from the public is meant to then be used to benefit the public as a whole through providing services such as the NHS. I understand that when your constituency is not near London, you need to have somewhere to live in London so you can attend Parliament, and that we should therefore pay for the costs accrued in your having that residence. In recent times the costs have been a popular topic of discussion, and rightly so. Some of your claims have been unreasonable, and you have been caught. Others are still under investigation. You claim that your claims were within the rules: That might be so, but you wrote those roles, and in such an ambiguous manner that you could abuse them. It used to be the law that black people could not sit next to white people on the bus. Just because something is a rule or a law does not mean that it is moral. The committee that is investigating y

The Final Destination 3D

On Wednesday I saw the fourth film in the dramatised safety manual franchise "The Final Destination" - and because the option was there I saw it in 3D. I've got to say, it was much better than I expected. Let me first of all say that there was a trailer for James Cameron's "Avatar" before the film, showing off what can be done using this new(ish) fangled 3D technology. The trailer was very impressive. However, it made the flaws with how the technology is implemented in the feature more apparent. In the trailer, you could look at the objects in the foreground comfortably, but in the Final Destination focusing on the foreground objects made me feel queasy, so instead I had to focus on the middle-ground at most. The effect was, however, impressive overall. Now, on to the film itself. It follows the same plot as the other three films, where a young person has a vision of a disaster about to occur in which they and many others die. They save some people, but then

Alternate endings

Here's a quick one: "Alternate Endings" are really annoying. Sure some can be good (look at the deleted ending to Terminator) and some can be bad, but that's not what annoys me. What annoys me is the use of the word "alternate" You see, I just started playing Braid, and I know about the secret stars. When all of these stars are collected, an "alternate ending" is revealed, apparently. But is it really, truly alternate? Sure, it will be different from the normal ending, but is it completely instead of or is it as well as ? Does it replace the normal ending, or is it an epilogue of sorts? Why do I want to know this? Well, if it is instead of, then I will need to play the game twice. If it is as well as, I should play the game once, ensuring I collect everything (which, considering where I am, I would need to actually restart the game - should I keep going, or should I start again?) Sure the game might be good, I'm not as far through it as others

Oh my

Since my last post, the one about game design that included a discussion about using XML, I took another run with Microsoft's XNA studio. In particular the RPG toolkit. Can you guess how it stores all of it's quest, item and character data? Yup. XML. I'm building it at the moment, using the "release" configuration. For science! While waiting I may as well say something useful... ho-hum. ICO is great, though I think I preferred Shadow of the Colossus. When I saw that my counter had reached over 2000 hits I had a look at my stats again. Some interesting ones. I get regular searches through google, and some hits from Wikipedia. My main traffic comes from the Nosgothic Realm, which is fair enough. However, I've also been linked to through a quick-search on Facebook and Google's Orkut beta, which is basically Google's answer to Facebook. It looks a bit interesting. Also, I've gotten hits to the main page without a referring link from someone in Japan us

Game design

I like to try and program games in my spare time - I've got a few projects in mind, but they'll all take a long time to make. One of the first tasks would be to try and design an engine for the game, which in turn requires figuring out what classes to use/design and how they should interact. So I'm going to muse upon this here and we'll see what I come up with. The first thing to consider would probably be whether the game is 2D, 3D, or a mix of both. This would greatly influence how characters get displayed - you could have a fully 2D game using sprites like the old Zelda games; You could have a fully 3D game like Half Life, in which everything is a 3D model with a texture on top; Or you could have a game that blends the two - 2D sprites in a 3D environment, 3D models on a 2D plane... those are probably the only two options to be honest. You could even have fully 3D game but viewed from such a perspective that it looks like a 2D game - the most recent Pokemon games see

Nintendo hates Europe

The title for this post is both appropriate and a plug - GameCentral is going to be turned off in the new year, so there is a petition to try and save it: here . Now for the appropriate: I've been a bit miffed recently. I make it no secret that I enjoy the Pokemon games, which are just plain awesome. Every so often Nintendo puts on events, some of which are difficult to get to, where you can download special exclusive Pokemon. They've been in various places: the Metrocentre, Woolworths in the Metrocentre, a Toy'R'Us in Stockton... and the Sunderland Air Show on Seaburn Beach. That is not difficult to get to, but the problem is the timing. Nintendo announces these things by having a website which first of all teases us then reveals the details. The Sunderland Air Show was the weekend of the 25th and 26th of July. This was revealed as a location on the 20th of July. Think about that. I work on Saturdays and I tend to be at John's on Sundays. If I were to change either

NIN and Game Design

Though those topics are not linked together. Or at least not in this post. So, in reverse order: In December I had an article published on Gamecentral on Teletext. I have no created a page which has my original version of the article, and links to their mirrored bits. You can use the link on the sidebar, or this one . Secondly, I saw Nine Inch Nails in Manchester last night, and they were amazing (as they are 3/4 of the time - sorry, but that Edinburgh gig was not that good.) There were many good points, but two particular highlights for me: They played their version of "I'm Afraid of Americans", and 30,000 (or however many people there were) singing along to "Hurt".

RIP Michael Jackson

Wow. This was quite a shock. I did not see that coming, especially since I was getting quite excited due to having bought tickets to see him in February.

Happy Earth Day

Minor update: I'm still working on the pages I mentioned earlier, but for enhanced functionality I should also look into cookies. Also: Big Ideas (don't get any) from James Houston on Vimeo .


Well, I'm still working on some tech demo things - they of course won't be linked to until they are done. That's not what this post is about, though. For some reason, today, I wanted to see if whatsinthebox had updated at all, and it has. I then went searching to find out what other people had discovered, and found this site. It's all quite interesting. Initially I though "What's in the box" was a Valve produced HL2:E3 promotional viral. It could have been a fan-tribute, but I wasn't entirely convinced. After looking today, I was further convinced that it in fact must be for Episode 3. After all, so much work has blatantly been put into it, and surely no-one would spend so much time and effort doing something like this if money wasn't involved, right? It made references to Black Mesa, and on some pages even has the Aperture Science logo as well as the Black Mesa logo, so it must be linked... But right next to them, is the Hanso Foundation logo. Fro


So, a bit earlier today I decided to alter some pages (hosted elsewhere) so that they aren't just all using this same template - sure it's nice, but it doesn't really demonstrate what I can do design-wise. So I looked at the Google pages WYSIWIYG ("what you see is what you get") editor in order to get some inspiration. I found a very nice one called "Branches" - it was a nice green colour for the background, with all of the contents in a blue colour, and the header had a picture of a tree-branch with some blossom on it. It was so nice that I wanted to do something similar myself, but I didn't want to use the exact same image (what with it being copyrighted and all) so I was presented with two options: 1) Draw my own 2) Use a public domain alternative Unfortunately I am not very good at drawing using the GIMP - it looked sharp and pointy. "Stylised" didn't seem like a good enough excuse for the quality. So, I searched around - I found a


Wow, MSPaintAdventures' Problem Sleuth adventure is finally over. It's been quite a ride. What is the point in this post? Purely to mention something brilliant in the FAQs . Einstein came up with the equations of relativity, which have been demonstrated to work again and again. The equations show that the faster you move (up until the speed of light*) weird shit starts to happen. Relative to an observer moving at a slower speed, time for you passes slower (i.e. you actually age less) you weigh more (increase in mass) and you shorten in length. The last one was always very counter-intuitive to me, but in the MSPA FAQs there is a fantastic explanation that I wish my Physics teachers had used: "This is because the speed of light is always constant, no matter where you are, or how fast you or anyone else is going. So if it takes a beam of light 1 second to travel from the back of a box to the front of a box, then if that box is moving, then that box has to be a little narrow

The only thing we have to FEAR...

... is not FEAR itself. Welcome to my rant. First of all, brush up on Yahtzee's FEAR 2 review, and this Steam thread. Now you know some annoyances to do with FEAR 2. Remove the references to controlling giant mechs, and the cover system. What remains is an accurate review of FEAR. FEAR is not scary. At all. Yes, there are moments that make you jump, but jumping does not equate to being scared. If you walk around a corner, not expecting to see someone, but you do, you jump. You jump out of surprise, you jump to get more distance between you and this sudden obstacle. You jump to get around said obstacle without any collision. Are you scared, though? No. FEAR is, like most western horror, guilty of confusing actually being scared with being surprised. It relies on schlock horror - blood and gore, rather than things that are actually scary. When faced with a pile of dead bodies in the game, I am not scared. Rather, I think of a (not very) witty comment about it. When I suddenly have a

Games as art

So, I occasionally like to write what are, for lack of a better word, essays on subjects that I am passionate about. Games as something other than just a childish way to waste time is just such a subject. On the escapist forums there is currently a thread on this very subject, referencing a link that lists 10 such games. The list primarily mentions audio and visual aspects, and thus many posters are arguing that the list is therefore invalid. Admittedly, the list may be flawed, but that does not mean it is invalid. Some claim that art is subjective, and in a way they are correct, but isn't that less that something isn't art and more than you do not like that particular example of it? I hate most modern art, but that does not mean it is not art. I think, to describe art in the most objective way possible, it must use the medium in a way that is unique to the medium. That does not mean art has to be "original" or that it has to be the first to use the medium in this way

Sam and Max Statue

So, my Sam and Max statue that I ordered from Symbiote Studios  arrived today. It took me under 10 mintues to set it up, and it's quite nice. For one thing, it's huge - 17.5 inches. The pieces are heavy, and nicely painted, so it doesn't feel delicate. The pieces slot together a little too easilly for my liking, so I will resort to gluing it at some point (maybe after I've got my carpet put in, so I can transport it easily) Another slight niggle - Max's head and Sam's tie don't seem to quite get along. The tie and Max's head are touching, which can set the tie in the wrong position. Perhaps placing Max slightly further away from Sam would've been the best solution, but then I'm not a model maker so I don't know how to design or manufacture these things properly. Anyway, here's a 7 minute video of me putting it together. Sorry for the low res - I was using my webcam as I have nothing better. 3 fps.


Well, I finally did it. I killed the Grox. It took months to do, but I wiped out every single one of their planets. I bought the last one. I even tried to make a video, but there were a couple of problems: 1) The video doesn't show the GUI or menus when communicating with a planet 2) It cuts out when a cutscene starts. Thus, no video. Maybe a screenshot of my badges, when I can be arsed. But for now, Dungeon Siege 2 (and Phoenix Wright 3)