Friday, August 29, 2008

My name is mbp and I am a flash game player

Thanks to Melmoth from Kiasa or giving me the courage to come out of the closet and write this post.

After our holiday (a very enjoyable sojourn in a beautiful cottage overlooking the Fal estuary) I was ready to indulge in some PC gaming again. Before the break I had been playing a lot of EVE but I found that I am not quite ready to jump back in. With the new perspective formed during my 10 day abstinence I had to admit that while EVE is a really really good game it sure has a lot of boring things to do in it. I needed some quick fix instant gratification gaming.

I am a veteran gamer with a hefty collection of PC games so you might imagine that this would be a relatively easy need to satisfy. Not so.

Out of the hundreds of PC games that are in my collection the number that I can sit down and play straight away is ..... 5.

There are several reasons for this. I have installed many games to make room for new titles. Other games remain installed but require hefty patching to get them to work with my current system. There are a few whose subscription has expired and a large bunch which demand play disks which are buried somewhere in my attic. There are even a few titles which work perfectly but are so darn complicated that I couldn't be bothered wading through the tutorials again to figure out how the heck they work.

If you are a console gamer you may snigger now. Yes, yes this is yet another reason why PC gaming lost the battle to consoles and has become the embarrassingly incontinent older relation of the gaming world.

I am a dyed in the wool PC gamer. For all kinds of reasons I like gaming on a complicated machine that my mother could never be taught to use use while sitting in my own private space where I could possibly be thought to be doing useful work. I cling to the remnants of my dying hobby but at times like this I am almost tempted to jack it in and buy a bloody Xbox.

Almost but not quite. I found my salvation in the world of free to play flash games. In two particular flash games to be precise: Last Stand and its sequel Last Stand 2 . In my opinion these two simple Zombie shooters are absolute masterpieces of game design. I lack the expertise and vocabulary to put into words exactly why these games are so good but they really are. Challenging but doable. Short but engrossing. Simple but fun.

I seen several commentators hailing so called "casual games" as the future of PC gaming. From a personal point of view this thought leaves me cold. I detest peggle games and the myriad of tower defence games and coloured jewel games and all the other tired formula games that are so dominant in the casual gaming space. Yet Last Stand is a masterpiece.

Energised I searched the endless catalogue of Flash games for other shining jewels of game design. Sadly I didn't find many. The good stuff drowns in a sea of mediocrity.

PS. I am now playing Guild Wars again.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"MMOs are History" revisited: Syncaines View

I got bored of fantasy MMOs and went through a whole MMOs are History thing. Then I got bored of "MMOs are History" and dropped the subject. The feeling hasn't enirely gone away though. I have been enjoying EVE for the last few months but much of my enjoyment of EVE stems from how different it is to the WOW like mmos I had dabbled in before.

With tongue in cheek I extrapolated my ennui onto the entire MMO population predicting that the each new game would hold its audience for less time than the previous one leading quickly to the demise of the genre. The two month wonder that was Age of Conan certainly proved me right and it will be interesting to see if WAR can do better.

In a recent post Syncaine makes a very sensible counter argument to MMOS are History(tm). He points out that it is entirely possible for people to be bored with the game they are playing but not be bored of the entire mmo genre. I quote:

'I believe most of the people burned out on WoW are still very much into MMO gaming, and hence will see WAR is a cure for WoW burnout, rather than ‘more of the same.'

Using single player games as an example (and GTA in particular) Syncaine points out that people get excited by each new release even though the core gameplay remains pretty much unchanged.

Its is a strong argument but I see a flaw in the comparison with single player gaming. The time and effort that players must invest in an mmo is an order of magnitude greater than that required by a single player game. I suspect that because of this mmo burnout is a much deeper experience than getting bored of a single player game. I also suspect that he memory of this effort creates a much larger barrier to re-entry for those of us who are burned out.

The forthcoming release of WAR will provide an interesting test case. I am in the happy position of not having played the beta and not having read most of the preview stuff about the game. If MMOs are really history though it shouldn't matter how good the game is , extrapolating from the ever reducing lifespan of recent releases WAR will lose most of its players within the first month.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Holiday Time

I am off on holidays for 10 days, yippee. I have docked my internet spaceships and my continuing fumbling efforts to make sense of EVE's lawless 0.0 zone must wait till I return.

Looking for some suitable reading material for the holiday I spotted that the 7th episode of Kevin Anderson's awesome Seven Suns saga has hit paperback. Large size paperback unfortunately but for Seven Sun's I am prepared to make an exception to my usual "wait until I can fit in in my pocket" rule.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Carebear in 0.0: Titan Ahoy

There was an Amarr Titan waiting at the gate. A frigging Titan. I had never seen a real life Titan before but I wasn't going to wait around to get a better look. I hit the Auto pilot button and prayed.

This was supposed to be a straightforward supply trip. In order to continue missioning in 0.0 I need to fit out a combat ship. I had already picked up an Executioner frigate from a Mordus Legion outpost deep in the heart of Pure Blind. It's about the only combat frigate this trader alt has the skills to fly but sadly the local 0.0 market could not provide the stuff needed to kit it out. I was returning from the safety of Empire space with the modules needed in my hold when I ran into the Behemoth camped at the gate.

The reason I hit autopilot is because I have read it is the quickest way to get into warp in an emergency. Sure enough my little frigate alligned and zoomed away. The Titan vanished behind me. I was safe.

Safe that is until the autopilot deposited me 15 km from my exit gate. 15km was perhaps an ideal distance for me to observe the largest collection of ships I have ever seen in EVE camping that gate. Sadly 15 km was not the ideal distance for attempting to activate the gate. Nor did the fact that I was travelling towards the gate help me make a quick getaway. The first salvo from the Band of Brother campers (BoB) destroyed my ship. The second incinerated my pod.

My jaunt into 0.0 is certainly proving to be exciting. Having been killed on alternate days by Red Alliance and Band of Brothers, two of the most notorious alliances in EVE I think I am entitled to feel a certain veterancy. I suppose I could also feel a certain frustration as I sit in a bare Executioner in X-70MU lacking the lasers or amour repairer I need to have any chance of completing this "Worlds Collide" mission. Then again I escaped from a Titan today. That's not a tale that many carebears could tell.

EVE: The Contnuing Adventures of a Noob Carebear in 0.0

Again I felt the call of 0.0. Again poor Marb Pelico my high sec mission running main was sent to the library with his skill books while I took an 800k skillpoint trading alt back into 0.0

This trip was some what more eventful than my first foray into Pure Blind. The unusual amount of lag in Torrinos should have given me a clue that something was up but I had not yet learned to read the signs. As I materialised out of hyperspace into EC-P8R I found myself surrounded by ships.

Comparisons of a 0.0 gatecamp with a low sec gate camp:
1. In low sec everything flashes a violent criminal red. In 0.0 your assailants do not bear the criminal red marking to pre-warn you of their murderous intent.
2. In low sec a fast frigate has some chance of escaping a gatecamp.

I didn't even try to save my pod. I had earlier taken the precaution of moving my clone to X-70MU deep in the heart of Pure Blind. In a way the Red Alliance gate camp I had stumbled into did me a favour. I immediately woke at my destination with a brand new ship. It was my first experience of suicide travelling that evening. It wouldn't be the last.

I am determined to run some missions in 0.0 There is absolutely no logical reason for this. The rewards do not justify the risk. This character has almost no combat skills and and I have no intention of investing more than the bare minimum of training time in it. Nevertheless, like the mountaineer who pits himself against the challenge of Everest simply "because it is there" I must try this. (The Everest analogy is perhaps a bit stretched, perhaps the small hillock down the bottom of my garden is a more equivalent challenge.)

The first mission was a courier mission requesting me to fetch something from a neighbouring star system. In Empire space courier missions are a boring yawn. Not so in 0.0. I knew I stood a good chance of being shot down before I could delivered my cargo. Losing the cargo would fail the mission and cause me to lose standing with my agent.

Before collecting the cargo I flew the route to look for any unwanted surprises. The pick up point was the only station in its solar system and seemed to attract a bit of traffic. There were a few ships flying around as I arrived. I managed to dock safely but I was concerned that they could pick me off easily as I struggled to regain control after my ship was fired out of the undocking bay.

I had previously read about using bookmarks to create a safe spot directly opposite the exit point of a station at a warpable minimum distance of 150 km. A ship is fired out of the undocking port at considerable speed and it usually takes quite a while to slow it down and re-allign for your intended warp destination. Having a warpable book mark directly opposite the exit means that you are already aligned and the extra speed from undocking eve helps to propel you into warp quickly.

The only problem about using safe exit bookmarks is that you have to fly to the spot at sub-warp velocity to make them . This trading alt cannot even use an afterburner so slow-boating the 150km required at 300kms/s was going to take a long time.

Long enough for a passing battlecruiser to blow up my ship and pod me.

No matter, back with another free ship and clone I tried again.

and again.

Shot and podded three times by three seperate pilots from three seperate corporations. I had hoped that the paltry thrill of shooting a noob in a free ship would be beneath the battlehardened denizens of 0.0. It seems not. Podding noobs is quite the sport in 0.0.

I abandoned my plan at that point when I noticed that these brave souls seemed somewhat reluctant to shoot me while I was actually close to the station. In high security space stations have defences which punish unauthorised aggression in their environs. Does the same apply in 0.0? I don't know but the station had guns so I figured it was worth the risk.

I collected the cargo and undocked. The agonisingly long wait to allign for warp began. Somebody targeted me but no shots were fired. Perhaps I was correct about the stations defences. My little ship zoomed into warp ... I was away.

The rest of the trip was uneventful I flew back to base and delivered the package. My agent expressed delight.

Somewhat emboldened I asked for another mission. I was offered "World's Collide" which I remember to be one of the tougher level 1 combat missions. I had little hope of completing this mission with a noob Pilot who's 800k skill points are all invested in trade.

Little hope indeed but the adrenaline of being a "0.0 pilot" was coursing through my veins. I accepted the mission.

Some preparation is now required .. I need a better ship with some kind of guns and a tank of some kind. An afterburner would be nice if I had the skills to fly it. This is an Amarr character. What the heck do Amarr use anyway? ... some kind of lasers. Can I get these in 0.0 or must I try and get them past the red alliance gate camp in EC-P8R?

Monday, August 11, 2008

EVE: A Carebear in 0.0

I imagine every high sec care bear eventually gets the urge to leave behind the security of Empire and savour the raw experience of 0.0. I am no exception and on Saturday, finding myself in Torrinos, just one jump away from the lawless Pure Blind region, I decided to throw caution to the wind and become a 0.0 tourist.

There was no bravery involved in my expedition. I was using a clean alt flying a free noob frigate. Being shot and podded would cost me nothing. In any case the humble noobship wasn't an entirely bad choice. At this stage I am a dab hand at running low sec pirate gate camps and I have found that a noobship can be very hard to pin down if flown by someone who is awake. Of course 0.0 has terrors unknown to low sec. Any encounter with a warp stopping interdiction bubble would herald an abrupt end to my jaunt.

First stop EC-P8R. Note how friendly sounding names like "Olo" and "Pator" have been dispensed with for bleak serial numbers in 0.0 space. There was no camp and my noob ship got safely through the gate. Although I couldn't see anybody there were quite a few pilots in local so I set about making some safe spots off the main warp lanes. That done it was time to do a bit of exploring.

First stop an asteroid belt to see what riches awaited miners who dared to brave 0.0.

Veldspar. Lots and lots of Veldspar. Not exactly the rare minerals I had thought to find. I found no miners working the few belts I viewed (from a safe 100km distance), no rats even. The whole system seemed deserted. Where was everybody? At one moon I encountered a frightening array of automated missile batteries no doubt guarding a player owned station of some kind. I chose not to hang around long enough to find out.

For some reason it was quite a while before I thought to check for a station. Right click, scroll down and there ... sure enough was a station. May as well dock and see what the locals are like. Something at the back of my mind held my hand just before I clicked the option to warp and dock. Who exactly owned this station anyway? I checked info. The group that owned it didn't sound like any of the NPC factions I was familiar with.

Yup .. it was a player owned station belonging to a member of the Band of Brothers (BOB) alliance. I don't really keep up with the power struggles between EVE alliances but I know that BOB are one of the largest blocs. I also know that they are not renowned for warm welcomes so I cancelled plans to visit.

I decided to check the local market for any lucrative trading possibilities. This is a trader alt after all and I expect her to earn her keep. The regional market was dead - the only place that seemed to have anything for sale was a system called X-70MU a few jumps away. Happily this system seemed to be in the care of the Sisters of Eve a group I had encounter before. Although the Sisters are a little too zealous in their religious beliefs for my liking they are known for offering a safe haven to passing travellers. I set my destination for X70-MU.

The systems I passed through on the way were deserted. The only sign of life I encountered was the floating wreckage from a recent battle.

The Sisters offered a warm welcome and a hot meal and I was delighted to see that their outpost was surprisingly well serviced complete with factory, lab, medical and repair facilities. Life seemed very normal for such a lawless region of space. A number of the citizens were offering jobs just as you might find in any busy Empire port. I considered undertaking a commission or two in order to repay the Sisters for their hospitality but since all the requests on offer involved courier missions across multiple 0.0 jumps I eventually thought better of it.

Sadly the market offered no particular treasures and volumes were too low to justify any kind of trade run.

At that point I more or less ran out of ideas as to what to do next. I undocked and set course back to safety of Lonetrek. Along the way I stopped to investigate the wreckage I had earlier stumbled across at a gate. While flying slowly out to the wrecks I was extremely vulnerable but the two pilots who came through the gate while I was there left again in quite a hurry. Perhaps in their haste they assumed that my lone noob ship was some kind of gate camp! The wreckage was clearly abandoned but I managed to fill my holds with a few of the less damaged modules. These would later sell for a few million isk on my return to Empire. Not the riches normally expected from 0.0 space but a sweet bonus to my excursion none the less.

It seems I wasn't the only Empire dweller to venture into 0.0 last weekend. Syncaine from Harcore Casual got the same urge but with more eventful results. You can read about his trip here.

Postscript: Before I left the Sisters in X70-MU I moved my jump clone there so I could easily get back if eve I needed to. I am still tempted to try a few missions in 0.0

Friday, August 08, 2008

EVE: Watch out I bite

So I took the EVE personality test. Apparently I am am an:

Industrialist with teeth
Industrialist with teeth

You enjoy Eve's economic model and you find that the greatest challenge of the game lies in mastering the market. System security status is a matter of profit/no profit for you, and you always factor in the possibility/probability of PvP in your estimates. To you, Eve isn't a PvP or a PvE game. It's a simulation of capitalizm in its purest form, and a place where the savvy wins the day.

Take The EvE Personality Test today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.

All in all its a reasonable assessment. I am a care bear who doesn't get kicks out of causing pain to others but I like the fact that EVE is a dangerous universe. I am not really an industrialist I guess but as far as I am concerned industry/ missions /trading even piracy if I ever get around to it are all just ways to play the game and earn a crust in the EVE universe.

I have no time for:

Care bears who whine every time their own carelessness causes them to lose their stuff and who demand nerf's that would completely remove the all pervading element of risk that makes EVE a special game.

I have even less time for:

Imbecilic pvp players who do not understand that trying to avoid combat is a perfectly valid way to play the game, who whine every time a smart carebear manages to escape their ill prepared trap and who demand nerfs that would allow them to prey on carebears at no risk to themselves thereby destroying the magnificent economic model that makes EVE a special game.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

EVE without Suicide GAnking would not be EVE: A Noobs View of the Proposed Suicide Ganking Changes

If ever I was to go to the dark side in EVE I think it would be as a high sec suicide ganker.

Its not for he "Lulz" of killing someone when they think they are safe - I genuinely don't believe I could take pleasure in that. It is because I see a certain beauty in the careful weighing of risk versus reward.I imagine that suicide ganking for profit is a masterwork of intelligence, planning and careful calculation. You know you are going to lose your ship. You know you are going to incur a security penalty which will take time to work off. If you pick the wrong target, if you bring too little force, if you bring too much force, if your timing is off or if screw up in any other way then you are likely to lose more than you gain.

I also believe that suicide gankers fulfil one of the most important roles in EVE's mythos. Suicide gankers are the boogie men. They are the nightmares that haunt the dreams of high sec carebears. Without suicide gankers there would be no reason to keep looking over your shoulder when flying the safe regions of Empire Space. EVE without risk would not be EVE.

Of course while I admire suicide ganking for profit I think that suicide ganking for lulz is just lame, immoral in fact, if such a sentiment can be applied to a virtual world. A recent EVE Dev Blog brought to my attention by the Ancient Gaming Noob discusses the fact that the risk versus reward factor for suicide gankers is currently out of skew. They intend to rebalance this in a number of ways:

1. Speeding up the response time of Concord, Eve's in game police force.
2. Increasing the security status penalty for crimes committed in high security regions
3. In the near future insurance payout will be removed for Concord related events.

I don't have enough experience of the game to make an evaluation but these sound like sensible moves. While they might not prevent some have a go idiot from attempting to gank an empty hauler just for the lulz the stiff penalties involved should dissuade them from doing it again.

The increased costs incurred will undoubtedly make suicide ganking less profitable and will dissuade many would be gankers. Nevertheless I hope that the most dedicated will remain. I hope that they will refine their calculations and strike more selectively but I sincerely hope that they will remain and that I will still be looking over my shoulder.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

EVE Online: The Problem of Renewal

About a week ago Syncaine made a blog post countering the often heard complaint that Newbies can never catch up with older players in EVE: "Stop Bitching about Skill Points Newbtards"

I might lack Syncaine's colourful turn of phrase but I can empathise with a lot of what he says. EVE's skill based system is more generous to new players than level level based regimes such as used in World of Warcraft. I myself have just spent a very enjoyable week playing a brand new out of the box 800k skill point character. I didn't invest any time in training because no training was required for what I wanted to do.

BUT ...

Syncaine's post got me thinking and on reflection I think that there really is a problem here. EVE is a game that has proven itself to have longevity. It has held on to older players and it is still attracting new players 5 years after launch. Couple that to the single server model and you have a problem of top heaviness in the game.

If the game is continue to prosper and grow I believe it needs to have renewal. It needs fresh faced young players joining today who aspire to becoming the biggest and baddest X, Y, Z or W in the game. At the moment those would be tycoons and tyrants face a glass ceiling. The ever deepening skill point debt is one component of that glass ceiling. The ever accumulating wealth of long established players is another perhaps eve more significant component.

In the real world renewal is achieved through the death or retirement of those at the top. EVE characters don't die and they don't retire. Players do get bored and move on but there are still plenty of old timers around to put a glass ceiling on top of the ambitions of any fresh faced young noob.

Enforced player retirement or death is not a palatable option but I really do think that this issue needs to be addressed if EVE hopes to keep growing for another five years. I think that an ambitious new player joining the game should have a shot at reaching the very top within a finite period of time no matter how late they are coming to the game.

How to achieve this? Well the skill point system could probably be easily tweaked. Perhaps offer accelerated learning for newer players. Perhaps throttle any developments at the high end of the skill point queue. Perhaps introduce new technology innovations (tech 3 ?) which act as alternatives to existing equipment and skills. Just don't make existing skills a pre-requisite to use the new stuff as was done for tech 2.

I don't really know what can be done about the wealth gap. Inflation / Wealth Tax / Item Depreciation? None of these options would be popular.

Aside: I haven't mentioned the fact that it is possible, even today for a new player to "buy" a ready made character and even buy "ISK" on the rmt market. That is not an acceptable solution to the renewal problem. I think it needs to be possible for new player to develop their own characters up to the every highest levels through playing the game.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

EVE Update: Trading is hard work. I need a break.

Seduced by tales from experienced players of easy billions to be made on the markets I thought I could use my alts to do some low involvement trading, logging on once a day or so to check on the status of buy and sell orders. Instead I found that I could neither sell or buy anything unless I was actively trading. By actively trading I mean watching my orders and adjusting prices up or down by 0.01 ISK in order to be at the top of the relevant pile. Although this doesn't sound like a time consuming process I found that it ate up all of my EVE playtime for the last few days.

I guess a player with multiple accounts could do this in the background on a second account but I found the hassle of logging in and out of alts to be tedious so I left my combat oriented main safely docked in station while I indulged my capitalist urges.

After a week of intensive trading I came to a fairly sudden realisation that I want to do something else again. I woke Marb Pelico from the attic where he has been studying skill books for the last week and did level 3 "Blockade" in my Hurricane. It was nice to be in combat again rather than spending my time looking at the market screen. I think I will go back to missions for a while and take a break from trading.

I did make a determined effort to sell my inventory and close out any open orders before switching back to Marb. My final accounts for a weeks trading (with an 800k skill point alt) look like this:

Inital Capital Invested: 20 Million Isk
Closing Inventory: approx 1.5 Million ISK
Closing Cash Balance: 62 Million Isk.

There you have it - I tripled my investment within a week. Although 42 million is not a fortune in EVE terms I am pleased enough with how it went. Those earnings could be scaled up with a higher level of capital. In fact I am pretty confident I could earn more from trading than from missioning if I chose to do it full time. I don't think I want to do trading and missioning at the same time though. Each on its own is enough for me. Trying to do both would require more commitment than I am prepared to put in to EVE at the moment.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Introducing the MBP Instant Book Review

Lately I have been lax at updating the "Recent Reading" sidebar partly out of laziness but also because I feel I should really try and do some kind of review of the books I read. To try and reconcile these conflicting feelings I am going to try something different. For the next while I am going to try and do an ultra mini book review (one or two sentences) on every book I read. These will typically include a single sentence description of what the book is about and also a very quick statement of whether I liked the book or not. These will purely be my own opinions and I make no claim to any expertise in literary criticism. Nevertheless some folk might find them useful. Feel free to let me know if you agree or disagree with my view.

Catharsis: Today I gave away some of my books.

Today I threw out some books for the first time in my life.

In the early years of our marriage my wife couldn't understand my reluctance to part with any book that I have ever read. It is not that I am a fastidious collector who keeps volumes lovingly indexed on pristine bookshelves. I have books on shelves, books in drawers, books in boxes, books everywhere in fact with no obvious organisation.

Some of my clinginess stems from my early realisation of the unreliable nature of human memory. I have a terrible memory. Many times I have launched into a new title from a serial novel only to realise that I cannot recall what happened before or who the main characters are. As long as I had the original book on the shelf somewhere of course this never mattered. Books became an extension of my memory and parting with one of my books became as unthinkable as parting with a piece of my head.

I am also old enough to remember an age when books were more potent totems than they are in the information overloaded age that we live in today. For much of the last millennium books were the only repository of knowledge and knowledge has always been power. I was proud of my books. At some strange subconscious level I imagined the day when I would be called to account. Then I would be able to hold my head high and prove that I had indeed read Koestler's "The Sleepwalkers" or Gibson's "Neuromancer"by pointing to the copies sitting on my shelf.

So what has changed? Well for one thing I have. One of the lessons of age is that you cannot hold on to everything. Sometimes you need to let old things go to make room for the new. This applies both to the physical articles and to the memories that they carry. Throwing out some of my older books is in itself a form of renewal.

Of course the information environment itself has changed beyond recognition. At 15 I dreamed of owning my own set of Encyclopaedia Britannica. That dream has never been fulfilled although my wife did buy me a DVD edition of Britannica a few years back. The truth is that in this age of Google and Wikipedia printed books have been displaced as our main sources of information. I no longer need books to act as extensions of my memory.

The final reason for my catharsis is more practical. I have a nine year old daughter who reads for hours every day. She consumes up to ten books every week. If she follows in my footseteps and insists on keeping every book she ever reads there will soon be no room in our house for humans. I must lead by example and show her that it is possible to let go.

At least my babies are going to a good home. I have given them to a surprisingly good charity bookfair that we go to every month. They always have a large selection of children's books selling for ridiculously low prices. The fair is a major contributor to the fact that we have not yet been bankrupted by my daughter's obsession. It makes sense to give something back in return.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Spore Creature Creator: Can I have my computer back now please.

Spore is going to be huge. How do I know? Well for one thing I know because my computer game phobic wife actually went into a game shop and bought the creature creator. For another I know that I haven't been let near my gaming computer since she installed it.

I would like to give you my own first impressions of the creator but I can't. I haven't got near the game while my wife and two daughters create an endless succession of cute creatures. What I can say is that the user interface is a stunning triumph. My wife is someone who normally refuses to play any computer game without me at her side to tell her what buttons to press buut within 1 minute of sitting in front of spore she was already creating her first creature.

I really think this game may hit that niche that made the Sims such a phenomenon. I have one fear though. From what I understand the full game will throw your beloved creations into a survival of the fittest fight for existence. Judging from the specifations on many of the body parts combat seems to feature strongly. I suspect that there are a lot of folk out there who just want to make cute cuddly creatures and these folks may be severely dissapointed if they have to go out and fight with them.

Apparently I have a coffee problem

 A couple of weeks ago my wife alerted me to the fact that I had developed an occasional odour problem. This surprised and distressed me som...