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Month: September 2013

Don’t cross the Steams

Posted in Gaming

So as the next gen consoles loom large, Valve unveil their first announcement of the week : SteamOS

Valves offering will expand on the steps they have already taken into living room gaming with the Big Picture functionality, The Linux based system looks to employ features from Steam such as Steam cloud, plus the rather intuitive Daisywheel text entry system for controllers.


This could be the groundwork for the PC to take on the Consoles on their own turf, moving the Platform from the uncomfortable desk/study environment to the comfort of the sofa.

From the description I’d imagine that Valve are looking to bring on-board all the usual services that users currently use via PC,Xbox,PS3 such as Netflix,, Hulu, Rhapsody, Twitch, YouTube, this will see the OS evolving from a gaming platform into an entertainment center, setting targets on Microsoft’s “all-in-one entertainment system” tagline of the Xbone .

The one element that I found very to be key to the Valve offering is the “in-home streaming” which looks to take the idea that OnLive was hoping to provide, only without the lag of internet connectivity to contend with, as it will be internal to your Network.

If this works as expected, you can stream your Windows games from your PC to the SteamOS in your living room without waiting for a Linux port to happen.

Looking forward to the next announcements and I hope they build on this first block.
That said time for wild speculation, HalfLife 3, Portal 3, Maybe a HalfLife & Portal 3 combo. 🙂

Happy Birthday Torchlight 2

Posted in Gaming

TL2 is celebrating it’s first birthday today, I have a great fondness for these games and have spent a huge number of hours enjoying adventuring through the worlds. If you haven’t played it the second game refines on the original with enhanced features and expansive and unique unlock tree for each class, plus a new class.

One of the biggest features that TL2 brought with it was multi-player functionality that was sorely missed in the first title. This much needed feature enables LAN and online games to take place without too much hassle, allowing groups of up to 8 persons to team up, however I hear that managing more than 6 is rather chaotic, which is fine as we are Chaotic Neutral here.

This games was opened up to integration and uses the community Workshop features in Steam combined with the games mod tool GUTS. Many of the add-ons have been rather good, but you have to be selective as installing and using a combination links to a unique save file, meaning that you must have that combo of features activated in order to play that game save again.
I have more adventuring to do in the game before I will be maxed out on the replay factor, so far my wife and I have playing through on our primary characters via the New Game Plus (NG+) system at least twice and we are fast approaching level 100.

Level 71 - Outlander & Engineer
Level 71 – Outlander & Engineer

Since the editor launch there hasn’t been much in the way of updates, I had hoped to have seen a little more content released, maybe for the anniversary. It would have to complement the end game and be level independent like the level-less enemies that existed City of Heroes. Thus being open to all players who were in that end game situation.

… the other is war

Posted in Gaming

Duane: You know what they say about love and war.
Tim: Yes. One involves a lot of physical and psychological pain,
 the other is war.

When it comes to Warhammer I have never really got into the fantasy setting, the futuristic 40k Universe was always more far more appealing to me, that said it’s rather sad to see another MMO (that was still subscription based) shutting it’s doors and making it’s way on to Syps MMO Timeline page.
For players that are still enjoying and playing the game, the “pulling the license” out from under a game immediately reminded me of the fate that befell Star Wars Galaxies with licensing issues being thrown around, but that is a topic for another post.

That said there were many of my fellow clan mates who were chomping at the bit for Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, with a solid history in Dark Age of Camelot there was much excitement for this Mythic title. I listen in on the many Teamspeak debates about the beta progress and how Realm versus Realm was or wasn’t functioning. Despite this activity it wasn’t enough to entice me to join them at the launch of the game.

Warhammer Online Age of Reckoning Witch HunterI didn’t really give Warhammer a look until a good few months after launch, absent-mindedly adhering to Van Hemlock‘s three month rule. Of course there was the usual problem with separate starter zone rearing it’s familiar head to give new players the illusion they are almost alone while simultaneously placing other starter area quests out of sight and mind, this was later patched up to bring new players together in a single starter area, you could travel to do the other content from the other stater areas if you wanted.

Of course one of the main PvE draws came in the form of public quests (PQs) that offered multi-stage events with the rewards distributed to anyone that took part on completion of the stages. This did allow for grouping by strangers during the PQs without the hassle of forming a group and inviting randoms.

This was seen by many as a good feature, however others would label it anti-social by driving players away from Pugging.

I have to admit that announcing the games closure on the launch anniversary was a rather heartless move, and I hope that those still playing get to finish off any remaining quests or in-game tasks/achievements.

Forever Forbidden

Posted in Tabletop Games

For my birthday I had a copy of Forbidden Desert, which is a sequel to GameWrights co-operative game Forbidden Island. The mechanics of the game are similar enough that anyone who has played the previous game should be able to jump into this title without too much trouble.


The basics of the game are that you are a group of adventurers who have crashed in the desert and need to find a way to escape, to do so you need to acquire 4 parts of an airship and get to the launch pad tile. However you don’t know the locations of these parts and have to look for clues that guide you to the title position, this is a rather cool feature as it’ s varied how the positioning works. Lastly to hamper your efforts there is a sandstorm raging that is heaping sand onto titles and your water canteen is running dry.

I have to admit that when the game arrived there were a number of faults with the tiles, but a few emails to gamewright and the UK based company resulted in some speedy replacements arriving.

Now due to a slight misunderstanding of one of the major rules we mistakenly lost the first 3 games by a massive margin. However the following day with the rules reviewed and understood, we lost another 2 matches.

To say that this game is difficult maybe unfair, perhaps it was the numbers of players (3) or the fact that when the game said to drink we all had a swing of an alcoholic beverage.

I can say that at the time of writing this we have yet to escape the desert with the flying machine, perhaps drinking alcohol isn’t wise in scorching temperatures.


Public transport and gadgets

Posted in Hardware

Being a non-driver I use public transport to travel the 16 miles to and from work, as a result I was in need of something to help protect my Kindle and Nexus as the 60 to 90 minute journey absolutely requires the use of distractions.

Starting out

I constructed a sleeve from some think cardboard which performed the job but was getting rather worn and was only a temporary measure until a new solution could be found.
I did quite a bit of digging online to see what other people had used or if there were products in existence already, sadly the answer was not really helpful.

So I undertook the task of building my own, it took me some time but finally I managed to find a suitable container that had the dimensions to hold the 2 devices plus some additional space for padding.
The Sigg Aluminium Food Box Maxi was my final choice, note that there is a MAXI and MINI version of this “Lunch box” so if you are looking to do the same keep this in mind.

The next part was to purchase some padding I picked up some firm foam blocks for a reasonable price, in fact I think the postage cost more than the foam.

So there you have it a simple idea that took about 2 months to investigate and gather all the items together in preparation.
Below is the gallery of the construction, I used tape to test the fit of the padding and items, before gluing the foam directly to the box.

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So I guess the question to answer is does it work?

Well the following 2 images highlight the damage that has been handled by the box over the last few months, so I’d have to answer this question as “Yea, probably”.