Skip to main content


Showing posts from May, 2011

Bye Bye Lotro Europe

Codemasters European Lotro is now closed and we players will be up and running on US severs in a few days. I logged in last night to see if there was anything happening in game but apart from a splash screen saying goodbye from Codemasters there was nothing special going on.

Can Activision Turn an FPS into a Subscription Game?

Interesting news on the wires that Activision want to introduce a monthly subscription service called "Call of Duty Elite" to their hugely successful first person shooter franchise. Apparently the subscription will be optional which begs the question as to what elite players will get that non payers don't. So far I haven't seen any mention of game-play advantages, the focus seems to be on added value features like social networking and statistics. Will that be enough to entice players to open their wallets I wonder? With millions of players online playing Call of Duty games on a daily basis I can see the $ signs in Activision's eyes at the idea of getting recurring subscription fees but I can't help feeling they are ignoring the trend. In the mmorpg world where subscriptions were once commonplace most games are moving towards a free to play with cash shop model. Of course the most successful mmorpg "World of Warcraft" is still raking in the subscr

Clive Barkers Undying on Windows 7 64 bit

Clive Barkers Undying is a forgotten Classic game from ten years ago. It is a first person adventure with a clever combination of weapons and magic. It features a creepy and imaginative storyline from Clive himself and really deserved to sell a lot better than it did. The good news is that it works very well on Windows 7 64 bit without any patches.I used Windows XP sp2 compatibility mode following a recommendation from the internet but I later discovered that the game runs well enough without this. Note however that save games seem to be stored differently depending on whether or not you use compatibility mode so choose a mode and stick with it. The biggest annoyance was a very long starting time (3 minutes on my system) but once the game was up and running everything went smoothly. I had a few crashes during game-play which is not too surprising given that this was version 1.0 unpatched.  I strongly recommend using multiple save slots though and not solely just relying on quicksav

Got No Friends? Nevermind Here's SomeYou Can Have

Lets just say a "friend" of mine has so far managed to resist the lure of Facebook. Unfortunately this "friend" soon found that an increasing amount of useful stuff is accessible only to Facebookers so he (or she) created a bogus account in a fake name just to get access when needed to various Facebooky things. (A gross violation of the Terms of Service, I know, shame on them. I am not sure if this is an imprison-able offence yet but doubtless it soon will be).  Anyhow given that the entire account is a fake you should not be surprised to hear that this "friend" never bothered to connect to any other friends via this fake account. Indeed this reasonably tech savvy individual even managed to negotiate their way through Facebook's less than transparent privacy options to turn off all of the normal intrusions that Facebook makes. So far so good but the "friend was most surprised when Facebook started sending him (or her) emails noting with obviou

Playing Singularity

Enjoying it so far. That's all. PS. Suffers from same issue as last game I played in that it only has one save slot? When did this become a trend? Last I heard even the lowest spec gaming console has enough storage space to allow a few save game slots. Not having multiple slots really restricts your freedom to play around.

Too TiredTo Shoot

Last night I wanted to play Medal of Honor Airborne but I couldn't because I was too tired. The really strange thing is that I didn't realise I was so tired until I actually tried to play. I had a long day at work and it was after 9pm when I finally got to sit down in front of a PC. That's isn't too unusual however and I was very much looking forward to playing the shooter in order to relax before bed. Once in the game I found I couldn't hit a barn door and just got murdered over and over again. At first I was perplexed because I had made good progress previously but thinking about it I realised that I was just tired and my reactions were like molasses. The unforgiving nature of the game didn't help because I was playing on hard and there is no way to switch the difficulty level without losing your save game.  The terrible checkpoints meant that I couldn't make any progress whatsoever in my tired state. (Did I mention that Medal of Honor Airborne has a r

Loyal Customers Get Screwed

My motor insurance is up for renewal and my current insurer has just sent me a helpful form I can sign and send in to renew my existing policy. STOP!!! It is many years since I realised that just ticking the box is a sure way to guarantee you are paying too much for car  insurance. It always pays to shop around. Even when I want to stay with my existing insurer it is always worth getting a couple of competing quotes. On several occasions I have found that having a cheaper quote from a rival company in my hand will cause the first insurer to re-quote at an even  lower level. You might think such games are irrelevant in these days of online quotations and automated pricing models but my experience says not. Automated systems will give you a fixed quote but if you can get talking to a human sales rep they always have some leeway to lower their price. I discussed this situation with a friend of mine who works in sales in a different industry and he made a guilty confession. It is t

Medal of Honor: Airborne

With the colossus that was Call of Duty 4 just around the corner this WWII shooter never really stood a chance of making much of an impact when it was released in 2007 but I was pleasantly surprised after picking the game up in a recent Steam sale to find that there is a very good shooter in there none the less. The single player campaign is short with only six maps spread across Italy, France and Holland. Nevertheless the shooting action is first class with good enemy AI and plenty of nooks and crannies for enemies to hide in. These combine to make the game quite challenging so I expect most players will be able to squeeze at least a dozen hours of entertainment out of the game. Innovative points: -The game is somewhat non-linear because each map has a series of objectives that you can tackle in any order. -At the start of each level and after every death you parachute in (you are airborne remember) so you can choose where you want to go next. -Every weapon in the game has thre


A child has died. We attended a first communion celebration a small country churchyard yesterday. In that rural setting the bonds of faith and community are strong and relatives and neighbours of the eight year old classmates turned up to share in their special day. The young boys, of whom my wife's nephew was one, shuffled uncomfortably in formal suits. The girls on the other hand were radiant in beautiful white dresses, each one an angel. Most would not put so much thought into an outfit again until the day of their wedding. After the ceremony families retired to homes and restaurants to celebrate. These are difficult times in Ireland. There is no money for extravagance these days but the simple rituals of community, tradition and family have never been more important. While adults shared food and pleasant conversation the children (hopefully changed out of their fine clothes) enjoyed more boistrous pursuits. One beautiful eight year old girl's family had erected a boun

Great Article about Ebooks

Hot off the presses from Paid Content: Selected Quotes: “ The entire publishing industry is going down the drain ,”    "In the current e-book Top 50 on Kindle, there are only five titles priced at £5 or above. " “ We’re facing stiff competition from individual self-publishers and potentially giant technology companies with deep pockets,”

Massively Single Player Games

After thoroughly enjoying the Freelancer I am thinking of having another go at one of the "X" games. Back in the day I spent several weeks thoroughly engrossed in X2: The Threat while I still have an unopened copy of X3: Reunion sitting on my shelf. Freelancer's main campaign is really good, a tightly scripted roller coaster ride of adventure in space. Once you have finished the game the limitations of the static universe quickly become apparent however and it begins to feel repetitive. My understanding of the X games is the very opposite. While the campaigns are not all that great the games give you a truly open world with a vast range of possibilities to explore. Indeed this is both a blessing and a curse.   I gave up on X2 back in 2003 after spending several weeks in the game.The thing is I am not all that gone on open world games. I like my games to have a clearly defined end point I can aim for and reach. I am very comfortable with the modern trend

Ebook Sales explosive Growth

There is a great graph in this article from Paid Conten t showing how ebook sales are on an exponential growth path. The US is ahead of the field but  Europe and the rest of the world are sure to follow. Having recently been won over to ebooks myself this comes as no surprise to me but speaking as a consumer I remain convinced that two things have yet to happen for the market to really mature: 1. The ebook market needs standardisation. The fragmentation of the market into incompatible formats and incompatible readers has to go. 2. The pricing of ebooks has to get realistic. The production and distribution costs of ebooks are only a fraction of that of a paper book. Pass these savings onto the customer please. These two issues are not unconnected. Holding onto incompatible proprietary formats allows publishers and booksellers to enjoy a price premium. I suspect that competition will eventually force publishers and booksellers to embrace the new economic reality. Smart phones an

Freelancer - An old Classic Revisited

A 2003 classic that is still great. Freelancer was released eight years ago and the box touts compatibility with Windows 98, Me and XP. I was not overly optimistic then that my unpatched version 1.0 disk would install and run on a 2011 computer running Windows 7 but it did. In fact it ran flawlessly from start to finish of the single player campaign. Apparently there is a 1.1 patch out there somewhere  but all it does is address multi player server issues. That is a very impressive level of stability and polish for a PC game and it makes it somewhat mind boggling that the main complaint about Freelancer when it was first released was that the game was unfinished. It is a complaint that regularly cropped up in forum posts about the game. It is the reason why some reviewers chose to punish the game with middle of the road reviews whilee others lauded its greatness.  I find this bizarre because replaying the game with a 2011 viewpoint it doesn't feel unfinished at all. The probl

Angry Birds Knocked Off Their Perch by Bubble Blast 2

Edit: Bit slow this morning. My Original title said "Angry Birds Dethroned" Angry Birds has sat at the top of the Android game charts (and Iphone too I believe) for as long as I can recall so it is almost a relief to see it displaced, on Android at any rate from the number 1 spot. Today there are two free games ahead of it on the Android Market : Live Holdem Poker and Bubble Blast 2 . (I note from the numbers that Angry Birds still has a much greater number of installs than either of those games so perhaps the ranking is based only on recent downloads.)  Not being a poker player I cannot comment on Live Holdem but Bubble Blast 2 certainly gets my seal of approval.  It is a simple addictive game beautifully presented. You start with a screen full of bubbles of various colours. Each time a bubble is touched it advances through a sequence from blue to yellow to green to red. The red bubbles burst when touched and fire missiles out in four directions touching new bubbles a

"I lust my step-brother who is also a vampire, oh did I mention I'm a wolf?"

Heartfelt apologies for blatantly plagiarising my title from an insightful piece by an anonymous member of the Wattpad community . Wattpad is an online community for authors and reader to share books.It is a kind of Youtube for books. If like me you just stumble across it on the internet while looking for some e-reading material you might be forgiven for assuming you have stumbled into the worlds largest selection of teen vampire novels. It seems that Wattpad has had some success among female readers of a particular age. Neverthless if you ignore the preponderance of werewolves and doomed romance and think about Wattpad for a minute, you have to admit it just might be the future of creative writing. For some time now I have been wondering about the future of books and publishing. I am a relatively recent convert to electronic book reading but my brief foray into the world of e-books and e-books sellers has convinced me that none of the current models is sustainable in the long run.

I want to watch it now

We decided to watch the Harry Potter movies together as a family starting with "The Philosopher's Stone". The only problem is it was a Sunday evening and my wife and I had shared a bottle of wine and and were in no position to drive to a store that might have it. A couple of phone calls to neighbours within walking distance turned up every episode other than the one we wanted to watch. "Can we download it?" I wondered. I have become so used to the instant gratification of digital game downloads that I assumed that the world of digital movies must have moved in the same direction. Although I am not really a film and TV buff I have noticed references to Netflix and LOVEFiLM in some of the blogs I read so I assumed that a movie would be similarly available on line. Sadly neither Netflix nor LOVEFiLM would take my money. It turns out that not only are there far fewer legal movie downloading services than there are game download services but the few that there ar