Category Archives: random

It Isn’t Easy Writing A Blog.


Yes, it’s one of those periodic posts where I make excuses for the distinct lack of posting recently. There have been things getting in the way the last couple of weeks and I’m having trouble finding enough times to both play games and write about them, or do the background research necessary for science posts.  This is nothing new; I write this blog because it’s a genuinely healthy thing for me to do and the trickle of posts will never dry up completely, but this state of affairs looks like it is going to continue and I just wanted to save anyone still reading it some time by outlining when exactly they should be checking for new posts (if they don’t have reader programs that do it automagically, that is.)

  • Mondays. There will almost always be something posted on Mondays because I’m never going to stop playing games and I’ve usually got something to say about the games I play; the only reason last week got missed was because the game I was playing was Fire Emblem and I’m not really in the habit of doing 3DS games on here. (P.S. Fire Emblem is really good and you should buy it if you have a 3DS and I’m totally up for Fire Emblem chat in the comments.)
  • Wednesdays. There will usually be something posted on Wednesdays now that I’ve realised I can mine the rich new seam of particle physics. I don’t know it as well as I do astrophysics but that makes me more likely to write about it, not less, since it’s actually genuinely useful for me to go off and learn about it. That being said, science posts do take a hell of a long time and I’m not going to be able to do one every week.
  • Fridays…. are something of a question mark. For example, today there was going to be a post about the power of games to stealthily educate people and I spent the last couple of days working on it, but then I realised at the last moment that I didn’t know nearly enough about conventional game pedagogy to state anything beyond the bleeding obvious, which is why you’re getting this post instead. Maybe that post will resurface in a couple of weeks, but it reflects the difficulty I have filling that third slot; writing about old games isn’t much better because I usually have to go back and play the old game in question again, which is something I really don’t have time for now. Treat Friday posts, when they do appear, as a nice bonus.

Tl;dr version: checking back every Monday is probably the most efficient way to read this blog for the time being, so really it’s business as usual since I started my new job. Life catches up with us all, I guess.

Brain Empty.

I wish I was Patrick Stewart so hard right now.

No review today because I’ve been slightly preoccupied with trying to sort life stuff out and so haven’t had a huge amount of time to play new games. If you’re bored and were expecting me to entertain you, though, do not worry! I spent a couple of hours yesterday uploading all the “reviews” I wrote in 2011 because I thought they needed a more permanent online home than a forum thread (and so that I could refer to them when needed), which are now available in the archive (scroll to bottom). Be warned, though; some of them are kind of bad both because of the more conversational tone of a forum and because I have been slowly getting better at the whole writing thing with practice. Not my best work.

Anyway, back to finding somewhere to live for the next year.  See you Wednesday!


A Christmas Message.

In the UK we have a tradition where the entire country basically knocks off for a week between Christmas and the New Year, and so that’s what I’m going to do too. But first, a self-indulgent retrospective.

I made 246 posts in the last year, with about 200 of those having actual content. If you multiply by an average post length of 1,500 words – which I think is lowballing it, personally – that’s 300,000 words written in twelve months, which is apparently half the length of War and Peace. I’m no Tolstoy, and there have been a couple of snags along the way; generating five posts a week was proving to be too much like a full-time job resulting in my slacking off over the last six months, and if the science drought continues much longer I’m going to have to rename the blog “The Gamer”, which doesn’t really work as a unique selling point. Still, I feel pretty pleased with myself for sustaining a semi-regular writing schedule for so long.

I know I’ve picked up one or two regular readers who I didn’t already know and force into reading the blog at gunpoint; to those people – and to everyone else – thanks for sticking with me so far! I intend to carry things on into 2013 for as long as possible on the Monday-Wednesday-Friday timetable, and while it’s possible things may sputter out further down the line I still feel like I have a lot of writing left in me, so fingers crossed I can make it through another year even if I don’t produce quite such a crazy amount of words this time around.  Here’s hoping you all have a great holiday season, and I’ll see you back here bright and early in… oh, probably the second week of January.

Merry Christmas.

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Review.

Some spoilers if you’ve somehow managed to go your entire adult life without reading the book.

Yes, yes, The Hobbit is not a game, or a science. It is however a film I went to see yesterday in glorious 2D, and so I may as well talk about it while the memories are still fresh, especially since – as you may have heard from other sources – The Hobbit isn’t a very good film. Like, at all.

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Building A Better Computer.

Today there was supposed to be a review of Dark Souls PC edition. There isn’t. Partially this is down to a paucity of time available for writing on my part. Mainly, though, it’s down to the port performing so utterly terribly on my 3-4 year old computer (some of the bits are 3 years old, some of the bits are four years old) that it’s unplayable. As you may have heard the PC port of Dark Souls is one of the worst PC ports in history, with a fixed resolution and no graphics scaling and performance issues even worse than those experienced by console players. Frame rates regularly dip into single digits (especially in the foresty bit) and since Dark Souls is a game where a player relies in large part on their quick reactions to get them through a fight it’s nigh impossible for me to play. If I reviewed it I’d be reviewing this horribly broken piece of crap and not what the game is supposed to be, and while that would carry a delicious sense of schadenfreude it’s hardly news that the PC port of Dark Souls is terrible and you should be prepared to put up with more than your fair share of awfulness even if you have a good computer.

The thing is, it’s not just Dark Souls. I’m running into more and more games that my ageing piece of kit just can’t cope with. Mechwarrior Online and Planetside 2 both suffer serious slowdowns when a fight starts making those unplayable too, and while those are betas with their own performance issues it’s becoming obvious to me I can’t just get by on avoiding the graphically intensive stuff any more. I’ve enjoyed the lack of progress in the console market keeping system requirements static for the last couple of years or so, but they’re starting to push forward again as developers refocus their efforts on the PC as the cutting edge. So despite swearing that I would never ever do this again, I need some computer component advice.

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The Value Of Spaceflight.

A short question rather than a 2000 word post today, just so that I can get you guys to do some of the work instead.

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Sci-Fi Soundtracks.

You know what the best adaptation of War of the Worlds is? It’s not the godawful 2005 Tom Cruise vehicle, nor is it the slightly more acceptable cheesy 50s b-movie. No, it’s the musical by Jeff Wayne. Combine the chocolate tones of Richard Burton as narrator and an experimental soundtrack that isn’t always easy listening but which is consistently fascinating, and you get something like this. And this. Not to mention this.

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