You can’t make hot coffee..

without hot water. Jack Thompson seems to be boiling away at the moment. His next target is EA?s rather popular Sims 2. Jack claims the game?s claim on innocence is ?just the same as GTA?s? and then adds ?but worse?. Jack claims that the game features full frontal nudity ? including saggy and dangly bits (my words, not his).

Apparently, with the use of a mod-patch, it?s possible to remove the pixellated blur that Sims 2 employs whenever a Sim disrobes and see the SICK FILTH underneath. Now, I?ve not played Sims 2 and certainly don?t need to patch it to get my thrills. I?m of the understanding that the uncensored polygons hiding behind the blur are as anatomically accurate as your typical Barbie doll.

Jack will argue that, with additional patches, all sorts of freaky stuff could appear in Sims 2. Jack?s alarmist rhetoric delves into paedophilia this time. Clearly, using Hitler comparisons and terms like Jihad in his GTA crusade seems to have worked so why should he stop now?

I?m very much looking forward to the facts of this one coming to light. Jack, I feel, is going to regret messing with EA, fabricating details to suit his crusades and trying to scare a demographic that probably knows the game a whole lot better than he does.

This may be totally unrelated, but I?ve felt compelled to play Manhunt again.

I’m older

I turned 32 yesterday. I’m not sure if I should be happy, sad or indifferent. On the whole I find other people’s birthdays far more interesting than my own. This could be because I find other people more interesting than I find myself!

Additionally, it was on a work day. This really helps take the pizazz out of the day (depending on where you work, admittedly). I’m a bit narked that my colleagues and managers manage to have whip-rounds whispered around the team for their cringe-worthy presentations of fake praise but I’ve somehow managed not to register on my team’s social radar. Strange though – they managed to scoff that cream cakes I brought in for them. (With respect, one team member made an effort – cheers Raquel!)

Yeah, so I’m older and grumpier than before!

Either way, I’m having a delayed card-opening session. I’m waiting until Saturday so I can lie in and enjoy the day rather than rushing about filling in pointless forms to untangle red-tape.

Who knows, by then my managers will be back from their booze-trip (sorry, ‘Product Launch’) and start to remember the team that makes them look good.

GTA Slowcoach

I’ve had a gaming itch I’ve been trying to scratch for a little while now. I’ve wanted to get stuck into something meaty but my collection wasn’t really delivering the goods.

I’d nabbed the PC version of GTA San Andreas and felt dismayed by the array of unhelpful control keys it expected me to use. This prompted me to finally get a PS2 to PC controller adaptor so I could use my Dual Shock on the PC. Whilst waiting for it to arrive I slipped my GTA SA into the PS2…

..and it appears to have got stuck!

I’m really enjoying this (finally). I prefer the controls to the PC version and I now have a screen large enough to make use of the minimap sitting in the corner. I’m still zipping about Los Santos with a few missions to complete before the whole shebang really opens it’s doors – but I’m having a blast. To contrast this, I’ve also decided to start Final Fantasy X-2 which I bought in New York in 2003. I remember thinking how smart I’d been to get the scoop on my PAL gaming friends. And yet, two years later I’ve only just managed to get past the intro.

But, remember this, as you tear away the shrinkwrap at your new copy of God of War just remember who was beating you over a stick about it’s greatness back in March.

Digital Distractions

Don?t you just love the combination of a quiet Friday and the internet? Let?s roll!

Monkey Island ? The Stage play

You have to admire the mindset of students sometimes. It appears that, for some project work, they?ve taken Ron Gilbert?s seminal masterpiece, wrestled with the Lucasarts legal boys (let?s face it, they don?t care if it?s not Star Wars related) and produced a little blinder!
The site has the play to download in multiple parts and information on other Monkey Island inspired ideas included the recreation of Melee Island? in Lego.

World of Monkey Island

Great Adventure Games

Whilst on the theme of graphical adventures I’d like to point readers to an old article on Adventure Gamer. It details one adventurer’s opinions to produce a Top 20 adventure games chart. Unsurprisingly for a site dedicated to this type of game, it’s got plenty of written information on each game and provides a considerable amount of justification to the running order of the games listed.If you’ve never played an adventure game and are a gamer seeking something a little more thoughtful and substantial than you could do far worse than picking something from this list.

Back in the days before 3D accelerators, 5.1 Dolby Surround and even Windows these games were the staple diet of people who had the brainpower to wrestle with a screen that only showed “C:”. Admittedly, many of the games listed are years old (although that doesn’t stop them from being exceptionally good) – this might mean that the biggest challenge is not beating the game but getting it to run on your system in the first place.

My personal favourite: Grim Fandango

Adventure Gamers’ Top 20 Adventure Games of All Time

And whilst we’re talking about interactive fiction..

“Fa?ade is an artificial intelligence-based art/research experiment in electronic narrative ? an attempt to move beyond traditional branching or hyper-linked narrative to create a fully-realized, one-act interactive drama. Integrating an interdisciplinary set of artistic practices and artificial intelligence technologies, we have completed a five year collaboration to engineer a novel architecture for supporting emotional, interactive character behavior and drama-managed plot. Within this architecture we have built a dramatically interesting, real-time 3D virtual world inhabited by computer-controlled characters, in which the player experiences a story from a first-person perspective. Fa?ade was publicly released as a freeware download / cd-rom in July 2005.

You, the player, using your own name and gender, play the character of a longtime friend of Grace and Trip, an attractive and materially successful couple in their early thirties. During an evening get-together at their apartment that quickly turns ugly, you become entangled in the high-conflict dissolution of Grace and Trip?s marriage. No one is safe as the accusations fly, sides are taken and irreversible decisions are forced to be made. By the end of this intense one-act play you will have changed the course of Grace and Trip?s lives ? motivating you to re-play the drama to find out how your interaction could make things turn out differently the next time.”

Whilst I’ve yet to actually get my hands on this, it sounds fascinating. This isn’t going to be about looks or any of the typically superficial qualities that lead gaming trends. It appears to be far more subtle and, I hope, more interesting and open ended.


Another Friday, another letdown

After the soul-destroying non-appearance of my new TV last Friday I was hoping for an altogether more uplifting one this week.

My wife was planning on buying a new car later on in the year. Last Saturday we were out all day (which is why I needed the TV delivered on Friday) enjoying test-drives from the shortlist she’d prepared. The plan was to then watch the second-hand market and get the best deal we could for our preferred car and budget. However, we were made a ridiculously good offer on a car that was 8 months old and had the grand total of 425 miles on it’s clock. Additionally it was fitted out with all the trimmings. Although it was ?500 above our budget it was simply too good an offer to refuse and certainly beyond anything we’d have ever expected to see on the second-hand market. This was practically a brand new, top of it’s range car, for ?2,500 less than it should have been.

A quick update to our budgets, some phonecalls and we’d agreed the purchase. The plan being to be driving it away from the dealership on Friday night.

Well, it’s Friday morning and, thanks to extra paperwork from the DVLA relating to the transfer of our cherished number-plate we’ll have to wait until Monday or Tuesday of next week instead.

As a non-driver I’m not as disappointed by this as much as my wife is (she’d been VERY excited this week). It still stinks though and is a pretty glum start to the weekend.

To cheer myself up, I’m going to hunt down some alternative games news for my blog and cheer me and any readers up a little.

Ups and Downs

Well, as it happens I’ve been fairly busy at work this week. This goes some way to explaining the lack of additions to this blog. Most of my time has been centered around bringing our new team member up to speed. It’s refreshing to go over ground that you feel so familiar with when you’re presenting it as new and interesting. It’s also good to get some novel questions from someone who isn’t jaded. Heck, I’ve only been with the firm a year but.. ..well, you know how it is.

At home I’ve been spending time in front of my new TV feeling some gaming love from my three boxes. As my good friend reminds me – I could have got a bigger TV with the budget I had but I’m utterly satisfied with the end result and it’s the ideal size for the dimension of the room it’s going to stay in. Amtrak redeemed themselves by delivering before 9am the following morning in case you were wondering!

And then on to the OTHER events of this week. The UK’s been making some headlines haven’t they? I mean, firstly there was Live8. Sir Geldof’s pushy guilt and fund raising efforts doing the rounds. I have to admire the effort and principals of the man. Live8 didn’t appeal to me in the slightest though. In fact I was out most of Saturday and set a challenge to see just how much of the event I could avoid. I’m happy to report that I saw none of it and heard even less. Result!

Yesterday Londoners got to stick out their chest and feel proud about being awarded the 2012 Olympic Games hosting honours. I was fairly chilled about the idea but as the day went on I just got more and more excited about the idea. It’s worthy of a seperate rant but I’ll just say I’m thrilled and hope we can show the world what this little island can do.

And, less than 24 hours after that good news, a number of bombs exploded on the London Underground and another on a London bus. It’s headline news of the worst kind and the country is unified for an altogether different reason than the one of the day before. However, what we’re experiencing is something that’s happening on a daily basis in Baghdad and elsewhere and I think it’s worth remembering that these sort of atrocities are happening every day – not just in places that *I* happen to feel familiar with.

It’s a cowardly way of fighting and stands for nothing other than anarchy and suffering. As the UK hosts the G8 summit and enters discussion revolving around ending world poverty why are others looking to deliver their argument in such an ineffective and brutal way?

Amtrak suck

I think that says all it really needs to say.

The full story goes something like this: I’m replacing my small but wonderful 14″ gaming TV for something a bit bigger and meatier. Ordered it on Tuesday, paid for delivery, told to expect it on Friday.

Normally I’d just ask for Saturday delivery but it happens I’m going to be out most of Saturday helping my wife test drive a range of cars that we’re considering as a replacement for ‘old faithful’. So, Friday it is.

I somehow manage to book a day off work. I really don’t know how I wangled this one. There’s five people in our team. Two are on holiday on Friday and one was going to be away on business. I took the day off to wait for Mr. Amtrak to deliver my TV leaving just one guy to hold the fort!..

..which turned out to be a waste of time because Amtrak never showed. At five to six I call them (they claim to deliver by six) and the driver’s back at the depot and claims he couldn’t find me and called my mobile to ask for directions. Nuh-uh. No such call took place. My day off wasn’t necessary, I’ve lost a day’s holiday, I’m without my TV and if those buggers don’t deliver it before 9am tomorrow then I’m going to be one po’d guy.

The annoying thing is that I’ve been refraining playing games all week as I’m really looking forward to checking out Xbox, Gamecube and PS2 stuff on the big, shiny screen…

..there’s always my GBA I guess.