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Showing posts from January, 2008

Enjoy the View or Race to the Finish?

In a recent comment Tipa posed the question Do you want a game that's fun in its own right, or one where you just want to skip to the end to see how it turns out? The question is asked about games but the conversation was about books as well. In books I have a very high tolerance for padding - long monologues / tedious bits of poetry, dripping descriptions of landscapes or settings - I just skip them all to get to the meat of the story. I guess I just accept the padding as a marketing necessity in a world where people expect their fantasy novels to have 1000 pages despite the fact that most stories can be told very well in 200. I am fussy about writing style though. I make a very quick decision (within the first 20 pages or so) as to whether this writer has what it takes to keep me reading. I love finishing games. I get a tremendous buzz from defeating that last boss and seeing the credits roll. I do expect to enjoy myself along the way though. I make a very quick decision about

Armageddon Reef: Fantasy and Science Fiction in one story.

Some fantasy novels pay homage to the science fiction link by alluding to a pre-historical technology age. For example Terry brooks Shanarra is set in a post apocalyptic Earth where advanced technology has been lost (except for a few surviving artifacts) and gnomes, trolls, elves and magic are the order of the day. It is rarer to find science fiction novels referencing fantasy but David Weber's "Off Armageddon Reef " does just that. He sets the link up nicely. A space faring humanity is hounded to near destruction by genocidal aliens so they establish a hidden colony where all technology is banned in the hope that these last few survivors will remain undetected. Hundreds of years later a stable if stagnant medieval society has developed and anti-progress anti-technology principles are enshrined in the universal religion. The story is seen through the eyes of a lone android who's mission is to try and infiltrate this world and re-awaken mankind's inventiveness a

Why Fantasy AND Science fiction

According to Wikipedia Fantasy is: a genre that uses magic and other supernatural forms as a primary element of plot , theme, and/or setting . The genre is usually associated with the overall look, feel and themes of the European Early Middle Ages While Science Fiction is: a broad genre of fiction that often involves speculations based on current or future science or technology . Chalk and Cheese right? So how come the same people read both? We are not talking about co-incidental liking here. The correlation is so strong that many bookstores have a single section called "Fantasy and Science Fiction". A quick Google search will confirm that fan-sites likewise combine the two apparently different themes. I don't really know why the links are so strong but I guess it has to do with the fact that they both describe imaginary worlds. As good an explanation as any can be got from 42explore.com : All science-fiction and fantasy writers face a common

Lotro Book 12 Release notes

Lotro Book 12 release notes are available here. You have to love Turbine's regular content updates. I have a feeling that this will be the last free one but nevertheless with four free updates since launch I am satisfied that I got my money's worth. In addition to a new chapter for the Eeic storyline this update has a tonne of stuff for everybody. Guardians, Burglars and Champions are in for some special loving (yea for Throg) but there really is something for everyone. I am looking forward to some of the cosmetic additions - apparently we will now have a "cosmetic only inventory" just for show so we can alter our appearance without sacrificing the stats of our gear. I think that is great and can't wait to try it out. Haircuts are another new feature and there will be improvements to the housing system. The Angmar quests are getting a revamp - which is no bad thing because they were a bit of a mess with complicated chains that weren't in a logical sequen

Online auctions: Ebay Madness

I have spent the last week trying to buy a second hand graphics card and it has not been an easy process. Pipped at the post three times. The fourth time I actually won the auction only to have the seller vanish into thin air when I suggested that we meet in person to exchange. Suspicious? I think so. Having exhausted the possibilities of the local Irish second hand market - I headed off to Ebay to see what could be bought further afield. I am not an experienced Ebayer but I was aware of scams being perpetrated on Ebay not to mention the odd highly publicised sale of wine stains . I was perhaps less aware though of the madness that grips apparently sane people when bidding on Ebay. There are bargains to be had for sure but many second hand items sell for crazy prices - more than an equivalent new product , as buyers appear to get caught in a bidding frenzy. Watching auctions for a few days I quickly realised that the current listed price of items is generally meaningless. For m

Upgrading my graphics card.

My shiny new Samsung 22" monitor is indeed lovely but playing at the native resolution of 1680x1050 exposes the age of my 7600GT graphics card. Time to upgrade I think. Shiny new DX10 graphics cards are getting cheaper. I could get a 256MB Radeon 3850 for around €150 (buying online and including shipping). I am concerned about the longevity of a card with only 256MB memory. 512MB cards cost at least €30 extra and that is more than I want to spend so soon after the extravagances of Christmas. Also I wouldn't get the benefit of DX10 until I upgrade to Vista and I intend to hold out on that until I do a major system upgrade in 2009. This thinking leads me to the second hand market where it appears that I can pick up a very fast DX9 card from the 7900 family for around €100. Not future proof certainly but it will see me through until next years upgrade. As an added bonus it appears I can flog my 7600GT for around €50 making the entire upgrade considerably less painful to

Call of Duty 4 Multiplayer

Hugging the wall I squeeze myself around the doorway poised to pump lead into any corner. Then I see him. For one brief moment we stare at each other across the debris strewn room. No time to think. Point. Shoot. Dive. Bullets spray wildly about the room. Then silence. Crouched behind cover I think. He's behind that crate. I'm sure of it. I wonder if I can shoot him through it. It looks like metal, best not try. A grenade! That should flush him. The grenade lands with bizarre tinkling but it is deafening in the silence of that room. Surely he must have heard that. Footsteps - He's running. Stand, aim, shoot. A figure bursts from cover. Two taps of the trigger. Six bullets from my M16. Dead . I killed him. The grenade explodes behind a crate, now irrelevant. It's gentle thud makes suitable requiem for my lifeless opponent. I'm still alive.

Lotro: Throg raids the Rift of Nur Ghashu

Throg waited nervously for the first pull. First kinship Raid. Most important thing is not to embarrass himself. He was pretty sure he knew which mob to target but what if he had misunderstood the commands broadcast into the electronic ether by his raid leader? A daze, a pull, wait for main tank to gain aggro and they are off. Who am I supposed to be attacking again? How the hell does this Raid assist menu work? My screen is full of labels, I can't see a FRICKIN THING. Who is that heavy breathing on the teamspeak channel? Its crazy in here. Hit something. Hit ANYTHING. DON'T HIT THE TROLL. You hit the troll. You hit the troll while you were standing on the edge of a cliff. The troll nudges you off the cliff. Dead. An inauspicious start to Throg's raiding career but thing got better after that. We downed three bosses and loot was won. The more experienced raiders in the group noted that there were more wipes than usual but I don't think that was entirely Throg's fa

Gaming Diary 8 January 2008

Apologies so for the rather rushed nature of this blog entry but for some reason the blogging urge has eluded me recently. Nevertheless I want to record my current gaming endeavours. CoD4 Single Player: Finished. Absolutely terrific fps with strong storyline. The game is surprisingly short but has various bells and whistles that are supposed to encourage you to play through the game again. Play through the whole game again with one eye closed, that sort of thing. Personally I couldn't be bothered. CoD4 multiplayer: Amazingly this is only my second ever on-line shooter. I like it. On the one hand its is more complex than Team Fortress 2 - with greater customisation of classes and more complex maps. On the other hand it is probably a lot easier for a noob to survive. The very complexity of the maps means that you can always hide in a corner somewhere and get the odd lucky kill. In TF2 there is nowhere to hide. The weapons are easier to use than TF2 weapons also. The RPG elements ar

Call of Duty 4

Ok I admit I bungled my way through the training mission of CoD4 but I was still a bit miffed when they suggested I was only good enough to play the game on recruit (easy) setting. I have been playing shooting games for 25 years for Pete's sake. Ignoring the games protests I selected regular mode and I can salve my damaged pride somewhat by reporting that the game is actually rather easy at this setting. You can take quite a few bullets before you go down allowing such unconventional tactics as deliberately running out of cover into open space to allow enemies to shoot you so you can spot where they are. I really should up the difficulty level again but I am having so much fun that I can't be bothered. This is a terrifically enjoyable FPS. The graphics, the environment, the story line are done perfectly and the game play is fast and furious with plenty of enjoyable variety. You can't help but be impressed by the awesome destructive force of the modern weaponry at your di

Welcome to 2008

We were away for most of the Christmas period and the break was extended by the death of an elderly relative which necessitated a gruelling cross country drive to the funeral on New Years Eve. By the time we got home I would happily have collapsed into bed but my kids insisted on staying up to ring in the new year and I did my best to mark the occasion appropriately with a glass of the finest Irish Whiskey in hand. I celebrated the arrival of 2008 by purchasing the collectors edition of Call of Duty 4 for €39.99 in my local game shop. I am somewhat pleased with myself because I resisted the temptation to buy the ordinary version for €50 three days before Christmas. Haven't installed it yet so opinions will have to wait. Previously I resolved to try one of the unplayed games from my collection and I chose Supreme Commander. I got as far as the first level and I don't think I will continue. I have a strange relationship with RTS games. Several RTS games rank among my finest g