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Showing posts from October, 2012

My new favourite gaming mouse mat ever.

Long time readers of my blog (I guess that's you and me Mum) will know that I believe every PC gamer needs a decent mouse mat . Unfortunately mouse mats went the way of the buggy whip about a decade ago with the advent of optical mice that worked reasonably well on just about any hard surface.  "Reasonably well" is fine for browsing the internet or editing text documents but "reasonably well" doesn't cut it when it comes to PC gaming. I have yet to come across a table top that allows the precision and freedom of movement that a PC gaming mouse requires. Here are the basics requirements for a gaming mouse mat: 1. The surface needs to have sufficient texture for the mouse optics to pick up. This is by far the easiest requirement to achieve because a modern optical or laser mouse seems to work on just about any surface. 2. The top surface needs to have very low friction.  This is where most table tops fall down. Any friction will drastically reduce the

A Lesson in Comparative Advantage from the Washing Machine Repair Guy

I am an engineer by profession and even if I say so myself I think I am a pretty good one. My father was a carpenter who built houses for a living so I like to think I can handle the practical side of things as well as the theoretical. There are few repair jobs around the house that I cannot do. Just because I can do a job however doesn't necessarily mean that I should do a job. When our dishwasher broke down a while back I managed to fix it. It was my first time looking inside a dishwasher so it took a considerable amount of trial and error to narrow down the fault and source a replacement part. It only took me three weeks fitted into spare hours when I was home from work and not otherwise occupied. My wife, who is a very very good wife, was even effusive in her praise at my manliness in fixing the machine and kindly neglected to mention the many floodings of the Kitchen floor during the three weeks of my trial attempts. She didn't even comment on the small pile of unwan

Random Thoughts from an FTL addict

The only fair fight in the game Much has been made  of the way FTL: Faster than Light brings old school unfairness back into gameplay. You can find yourself hopelessly outclassed on the very first jump of the game.  You might be surprised then to discover that I have come to the conclusion that the final boss fight, despite being an order of magnitude more difficult than any encounter which precedes it is the only fair fight in the game. It is very difficult without a doubt but it is also brutally fair because it is utterly predictable. I have only managed to overcome the boss four times (twice on easy, twice on normal) but I now know the fight and I know exactly what to expect and how to prepare for it. If I get as far as the boss I now know that failure will be because my ship is not prepared or because I make some error in play and that in my opinion is fair. The real unfairness comes from the random encounters at lower levels that can undermine any promising campaign or perhaps

Is FTL really like Rogue?

The developers of the terrific little space ship game FTL:Faster than light  call it "roguelike" and better gaming minds than mine agree with them. Yet as a rule I don't like rogue games but I love FTL. How can this be? My experience with rogue games started with Rogue itself played in glorious ASCII on college computers back in the 1980's. I wasted many hours on it  when I should have been studying but I never came close to finishing a game and ultimately I found it a frustrating experience and got bored.  I have dallied with various descendants of Rogue over the years, the most recent being the highly regarded Dungeons of Dredmor but my experience is always the same. The games suck me in quickly and are quite compelling at first but soon I get tired and frustrated with the repetitive game-play. However cleverly they name things and however challenging the monsters are  I quickly come to feel that I am playing a more challenging version of   Progress Quest: E


It was the doors that got me in the end. The good (space) ship Dodo only managed 2 miserable jumps before meeting the drone that would be her undoing. The drone may have looked innocuous enough but its first volley took out Dodo's weapons and things began to look bad. A crew member frantically tried to bring  weapons back online but in the mean time the drone was free to pound the ship with missiles. Those missiles passed right through shields and soon fires were burning throughout the ship. The crew tried to put out the conflagrations while the hail of missiles continued. One brave ensign lost his life in the effort and the Captain realised that more desperate steps would be required. Pulling the crew back to a safe area he opened the airlocks in order to vent air from the fiery regions. This drastic method worked and the flames were extinguished so the crew set about repairing the damage. With life support, shields, weapons and engines all damaged no one paid much attent