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Showing posts from January, 2011

Magicka, resisting the urge to google combos.

There are literally thousands of spell combinations in Magicka and once you get out of the tutorial you are left to discover most of them by trial and error. No doubt within a week or so there will be there are already  comprehensive lists of spells and equipment available on the web . There is a strong temptation to dive into google and track down the details of successful combinations. This is not really a form of cheating. I actually find this type of meta gaming very enjoyable. I love forums,  faqs and wikis. I love reading others opinions of different abilities and I also enjoy posting my own observations. Indeed with a game as new as Magicka there is always the possibility of discovering something that other players don't know about. The problem is that the pleasure of participating in the online information flow about a game is incompatible with the other pleasure of working stuff out for yourself. Once you start to consult guides you cannot go back and unlearn the info

gaming Update with a little bit of Magicka

Magicka is getting a lot of press recently and rightly so. Paradox interactive's spell-fest is a riot of cleverness and fun, or at least it should be if you don't encounter one of the many bugs reported. I waited about a week to buy the game and I haven't encountered any bugs yet in the single player game, I guess they have been busy patching it. I still recommend the game strongly though, for only a tenner on Steam it is a steal. Of particular note is the sublime spell system. You start with eight basic spell elements (and at least one hidden one) that can be combined in thousands of ways to make new spells. You will need nimble fingers as well as a quick brain to pull off these combinations in the heat of battle, a feat that is made all the more challenging by the fact that there is full friendly fire leading to plenty of stray fireballs roasting yourself or your team mates. The humorous tone of the game makes it all hilarious anarchic fun. Be warned though, the single pl

Never mind jetpacks where the hell is cyberspace?

I am currently reading Cory Doctor's "FTW" a novel which explores the economic and social consequences of the gold farming industry that has sprung up around massively multiplayer online games. Doctorow knows his subject but even so the novel seems strangely out of date. He describes a near future world where just about every teenager is plugged into an online game and where the economies of major titles exceed that of many countries. I vaguely remember headlines like that from about five years ago but it seems strangely out of date now. Despite rising numbers of players the importance of mmorpgs as a phenomenon seems to have shrunk. No one compares mmorpg economies to countries any more. Stories about Second Life  are no longer a regular feature in the main stream newspapers.  Perhaps most tellingly teenagers are not abdicating en masse from the real world to take up residence in the online world of their choice. No one really seems to believe any more that these virtual

BeGone by NPlay - Browser Games are growing up

The Unity Web player has been around for a while but it is only recently that I have noticed Unity based games popping up on major gaming portals like Kongregate . From what I have seen the capabilities of Unity leave Flash far far behind. Just check out BeGone a beautifully rendered  high definition multi-player 3D shooter from NPlay. That is  a serious piece of gaming, for free, in your browser. I am sure those lovely trees and foliage are procedurally rendered but the game is fast and responsive and Unity doesn't suffer from Flash's inability to use the right mouse button. Nplay also do a multiplayer racing game which you can play here . It doesn't seem to be as polished as the shooter but then again I am crap at driving games.

Mafia 2 Finished, Final Impressions

I have just finished Mafia II so I am going to record a quick "Last Impressions" while the game is fresh on my mind. The story line is very good although as a piece of interactive fiction it suffers from the fact that it is hard to like any of the characters in the game. There is no honour, no loyalty and no morality among the criminal underworld in which the game is set. As a result it is hard to care about what happens to any of the characters and since you don't really care what happens it is hard to feel immersed in the storyline. The game-play is fun, the city is fabulous and much bigger than it appears at first. I particularly loved being able to compare the city in two time periods during and after the war. I have already complained about the fact that you cannot use the buses and trains . I do think though that given the amount of effort that went into creating this fictional city there was a huge lost opportunity in not making it more interactive. In fact l

Mafia 2: Get Rich or Die Flying (for Real Men)

The Mafia 2 Steam Achievement "Get Rich or Die Flying" requires you to keep a car in the air for over 5 seconds. There are videos around showing how anyone   can do this by driving over incy wincy bumps in the road. Now however I am delighted to be able to show a video of how Real Men can achieve vehicular flight by driving over a Real Ramp:

How to read Ebooks with Adobe DRM on Android using Aldiko

EDIT: I have discovered a new way to do this which allows you to download books directly to the phone. It also allows you to read ebooks from libraries on your phone without using Overdrive reader. For the updated instructions go here . If you are an avid book reader reader who has an Android device then the really big news last month was that Google is adopting Adobe's content Manager DRM solution for ebooks . Even though you may have mixed views about drm I think this is very good news because with Adobe drm already being supported by Random House, Sony, WW Norton, OverDrive, Ingram Digital, Kobo, British Library, Waterstones and others the choice of digital reading material is even wider (for European readers anyway) than with the Amazon Kindle client for Android. Even better though is the fact that many public libraries already use Adobe drm to allow readers to "borrow" eBooks for a limited time. How cool is that? I haven't tried it yet but I assume that it work

Goodbye Christmas Tree

This being the first weekend after the 6th December it falls to me to dispose of our Christmas tree. Fir trees are more popular than spruce as Christmas trees because Fir do not gradually lose all their needles as they dry out. Instead the Fir tree waits until the day you try to dispose of it and then it dumps all of its needles onto your carpet, onto your person and into your car in one almighty storm of foliage. Ah well, such is the price that must be paid for getting a real tree.  It has become something a a tradition in our family to choose a still living tree from a local Christmas tree farm. It is always freezing but the magic of choosing just the right tree is special. Farewell Christmas tree.

The "How Up to Date is Your Blog" game

One of the consequences of generally waiting till games fall in price is that I am usually a few months behind the curve when it comes to blogging about them. That gave me the idea of trying to put a more scientific measure on just how up to date (or out of touch) is my blog. The process turned out to be relatively easy and you can apply it to you own blog if you like: 1. Look at all the posts you have made in the last month (if you are a very prolific poster you can limit it to your ten most recent entries). 2. For each post try to pick a date in time when this particular post would have been a "hot topic" worthy of front page placement on a major blog or news site. Wikipedia is handy for finding release dates while Google's "timeline" view (probably hidden under "more search tools") is also very useful. Remember that we are only considering timeliness here, not writing quality. 3. Once you have the "timeliness" dates of you most recent

Gogle Labs introduces gXtortion (beta)

Just spotted the announcement of an interesting new service from Gogle labs: Introducing gXtortion (beta) from Gogle labs. gXtortion is the world's first on-line guarantee of privacy service. Imagine Mr Harry Pintlewaithe of  11 Rosegarden cottages ( if you could make a single monthly payment of $125 for gXtotrion home (beta) to ensure that your private data would not be revealed to third parties such as Mrs Brenda Pintlewaithe ( also of 11 Rosegarden cottages. This nominal monthly fee would guarantee the privacy of data such as 1. The fact that you 11.5% of your internet searches include the words "farmyard animal porn"   2. The fact that you spent 2 hours and 25 minutes on Friday, 25th May in very close proximity to a certain Ms. Ethel Goodbodie ( aged 21 For an additional $125 a month you can upgrade to gXtortion Home and Social (beta) . In addition to ensuring your privacy at

Handing over my freedom to Google

My acquisition of a new Android Smart phone has proven to be the final link in my complete capitulation to the Google overlord. Here is a list of what Google knows about me: All of my internet searches: Every so often I experiment with competing search engines but I always seem to end up coming back to the big G. All of my blogging: I started out on blogger and it has done pretty much everything I need so I never felt it worth the effort to change. My calendar: About a year ago I got fed up with trying to synchronise multiple calendars between desktop, laptop and mobile phone so I started using Google's calendar. All of my email:  You don't need to use gmail if you have an android phone but everything just synchronises more easily if you do. The funny thing is I never actually send email from a gmail address I just use gmail as a web enabled  email client. I actually have many email addresses that I use for different services and until recently Thunderbird was my e

Mafia II: Gutted about the lack of public transport

Empire city, the locale of Mafia 2 has no functioning public transport. There are buses and taxi's but you can't get into them . This seems like a small thing in a game where you can steal any car you want but for me it is a major blow to immersion and I am gutted. The first Mafia game had a working railway line and I used to take rides just for the hell of it.

Ambushed by Mafia II

Mafia was one of my favourite games ever so I was really anticipating Mafia 2 but when t he reviews were very mixed I decided to hold out for a sale. Well Steam duly provided said sale over the holiday period and I am now a couple of missions into the game. Seems pretty good so far lots of ambience and the same unwieldy cars I loved from the first game. Also I like the new combat model. It is an 18's game though with lots of naughty words in it. My kids often walk by while I am playing games I decided to play it safe and wear headphones while playing. My daughters are not so innocent that they have never heard a naughty word but they  take a dim view of such things and would undoubtedly given out to me about it so the headphones seemed like a good idea. The game had a surprise in store for me however. Just as my daughter walked in to me to ask me to come up and tuck her in I happened to stumble across a guy reading a magazine in game. BLAM suddenly my screen was filled with a sca