Gaming diary redux

So, I’ve decided to stick to simple categories instead of marking the diary posts as part of an article.  So gaming diary posts are in that category and movie diary posts in their own.  I’ve hacked the category page a little so that the post titles have the dates next to them (and they naturally show in reverse date order, newest first anyway).

That avoids any complexity, I can just name the posts after the game or film and let WordPress sort out the rest, but people can still see them in the right order as it were.  The only other issue is that I’ll probably write any gaming diary posts a few days after the fact, so now I have to work out if I’ll post-date them to match when I played or not worry about it!  I know, I know, I should just go with the flow.

Usual problem

So the gaming and movie diary stalled at the first hurdle, after the first updates.  As usual, I get stuck up on the technical details and don’t just get on and do it and worry about them later.  How do I write entries for the same games, but keep them sorted in the right way, do I include the date in the subject, or do I write one blog post per game and just keep adding to it over time.  Is there some other option I should investigate, etc., etc.

All the thinking about it gets in the way of writing the posts, so maybe we’ll see what happens.

Defense Grid: The Awakening

I’m terrible at, but love, tower defense style games.  I usually only play them on the PC (or sometimes the iPhone), but after playing the demo for Defense Grid: The Awakening on the XBox I stumped up the points for the full version.  Spent a few hours playing it on Sunday, and it’s really quite engaging.  So far, the levels have been easy enough to beat with only a few lost power cores at most, but challenging enough to keep me busy.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2

Picked this up cheaply on Saturday, and played an hour or so before friends turned up for Warhammer.  Enjoyed the first one on the PS3, and playing this was on the XBox.  Pretty similar experience, although it feels significantly more difficult.  I can’t remember now if I played the first one on easy or not, but playing this was on normal was pretty tough going for me.

However, it was nice to see myself improving steadily on the missions and eventually beating them.

The Enemy Within – WFRP Campaign

This was about the fourth WFRP session, in the Enemy Within campaign.  The gaming sessions are quite long (most of a day), so we get through quite a bit of the material each time.  The PC’s having already finished Mistaken Identity and Shadows over Bögenhafen are just starting Death on the Reik.

To be frank, reading the Death on the Reik campaign is pretty hard work – it’s pretty non-linear and there’s a lot of stuff going on.  To give it the best shot you really need to do a lot of preparation and understand the motivations of everyone involved.  Have I done that?  Not yet – I tried, a few times, to read through everything, but one or two things just don’t gel and I’m really struggling to make it all fit in my mind.

Luckily (for me, not for them), a couple of the players arrived a little later than expected on Saturday and we ended up not getting through much of the session, plus we were all distracted by real life.  One of the problems of not playing often is when you do get together, you end up talking about a lot of non-game stuff.

Anyway, I think what we did was fun, hopefully the players enjoyed it, and I get longer to read the campaign again and try and resolve the things in my head that are causing it to feel broken.

Gaming and Movie Diary

A couple of folk I follow on Twitter write gaming diaries, where they talk about the games they’re playing / have played.  Not reviews as such, but just an update on what they’re playing.  I thought I might give it a shot with both games and films.  I’ll start with the games I played over the weekend, and I think I’ll expand it to include more than just computer games.  You’ll be able to find them in the regular blog posts, but they’ll also show up in the relevant section in the articles page.

You like to, move it!

Spent about two hours on Sunday playing Start the Party, a PS3 game which uses the Move controller (camera + motion sensitive controller).  We had friends visiting on Saturday for some Warhammer FRP and they stayed over.  Sunday, after breakfast, Grete convinced us all to give the game a shot (we’d played the demo, which was amusing, but not the full game with a bunch of people).

It’s pretty fun!  We played a 5 round and a 10 round game.  The rounds are either full ‘games’ or quick-fire mini-games, and there’s bonus and joker rounds to keep people interested (more on bonus rounds in a sec).  The full games are stuff like painting in shapes (which eventually turn out to be pictures of something like a monkey), stabbing exploding coloured ‘things’ (hard to explain), shooting robots, cutting hair (hardest of all the games).  The quick-fire rounds are made up of things such as catching pizza toppings, whacking moles, bouncing balls into nets, finding bugs (creepiest of all the games).

All of the games involve you (as seen by the camera) standing in the middle of the action wielding a different implement (hammer, pick-axe, pizza, magnifying glass, harpoon spear, bug-squisher, etc.)

If someone falls behind in terms of scores, they get a free bonus round where they can make a few extra points – which I thought was a nice touch and demonstrated where the game is targeted – people having a laugh – not competing for the best score in the world.

I have to say I was pretty sceptical at first, it was Sunday morning, we were tired, and I hate enforced fun, but the game won me over.  Easy to get into, quick to play, light hearted and it kept us laughing for a couple of hours.

I was Left4Dead

About 10 years ago I used to play Team Fortress online.  Not a huge amount, but I’d join the odd random game and run around building mounted guns as an engineer or sniping from the rooftops.  I was pretty bad, but the structure of the game meant I could at least help out a little bit.  I didn’t use TeamSpeak or whatever the equivalent was at the time and I didn’t know any of the other players.  But it was fun, mostly.  A few folk from work ran a shared server for a little while for another multiplayer FPS, can’t even remember which one ((Aha, Andy reminded me it was Unreal Tournament)), and that was more fun, we knew all the players, and it was a blast, but inevitably there’s going to be someone who’s better than everyone else in a complete person vs. person game, and over time dying all the time (as I did) got frustrating.

That sinking feeling as someone bounced into the room and jumped around like a grasshopper while shooting you to death was all too familiar.  Eventually I realised I was a mediocre FPS player and I probably shouldn’t drag down the other folk by getting in their way.

What followed was several years of playing MMO’s, which provide that shared online experience but don’t require the twitchy gameplay of the shooters at the time.  Taking part in 20, 30, 70 and even 120 person raids in EverQuest was pretty impressive.

When I got the PS3, I dabbled a little with some online play but not really knowing any other PS3 owners who had the same games I did meant I didn’t really get much of a feel for it.  And I never owned a headset, so still no voice.

Now that I’ve got the Xbox 360 I feel a little more compelled to give online gaming a try – specifically Left4Dead 2.  Some of the folk who read were kind enough to invite me to a game last night – which was the first time I’d used the Xbox headset in anger.  I’m still a mediocre FPS player, so I was pleased to give the co-op campaign a go at first.  It’s a lot easier to help 3 other players against a hoard of mindless undead than it is to outwit 3 other real people in PvP style gameplay.

Other than some technical issues, the co-op campaign was good fun, it’s much more satisfying helping someone up off the ground when you know somewhere there’s a real person shouting ‘hey, I’m down, I’m down!’ rather than just the game AI.  We then tried an 8 player vs. game (4 survivors vs. infected + 4 specialist infected).  We got slaughtered over and over no matter which side we were on.  As survivors the enemy infected just nailed us, and as infected it took us too long to work out how to control the different types and use their special attacks.  We were getting better towards the end …

Anyway, I don’t think I hindered the guys too much in the campaign, I did die at the end, only one of our 4-man team made it to the boat alive – but that’s just like in the movies isn’t it?

Me?  I was left for dead.

Post Office Handling Charges

Grr.  I ordered some paint from Reaper Miniatures in the states (around $36 worth), because the only UK stockist I know about didn’t have any in.  I knew there was a risk of paying some VAT, but they’re good paints.  So the VAT comes to around £4, okay I’ll survive, except the bloody Post Office then charge you £8 just for handling the parcel.

The company in the US mailed it to me free of charge.

But the Post Office in the UK charge me £8 because they have to hold onto it for me until I can turn up and pay for it.  There has to be a better way?

Anyway, the paints arrived safe and sound and pretty fast considering they didn’t charge for delivery.