Let the ‘craft begin!!

A while ago a small group of us got together for a LAN to play an incredibly geeky game called Artemis. This required us to play the crew of a star ship, each of our computers functioning as one “station” of the vessels bridge, and Stupor’s very own Neil as Captain (he just shouted orders at us with no PC control of his own). In any case, once we’d exhausted the “kill n ships while defending y space stations” scenarios someone (our Captain, oh Captain as I recall) suggested we invest in a little Indie game he’d played for a while and become rather addicted to. This digital Crack was the Beta of Minecraft. It all went down-hill from there… To cut a long story short, we all paid our fare and played into the night. Around 3am we called it a day but our generous host (The Very Reverend Booth) left the server running so we could all connect up from home and extend the madness we had created.

Some months later the game has been updated several times. More resources,  further recipes and enemies that can actually hurt you, rather than groaning impotently in your ear. To mark both the leaps forward made by the game itself and the fact that one of our number has been gifted a licence for the first anniversary of his 29th birthday, it was decided we should LAN again, lay waste to the old world and start over. Below you will hopefully find the story of the first days of that new land. It will be bigger, it will be better, it will undoubtedly be even mentaler…

The game begins. A new world is generated and we dive in. First thing we wander around aimlessly, hit each other a little, laugh then get on with the serious business of finding a mountain to build a monster proof home into. We all know that mountain will have to be removed eventually, but the group deludes itself into thinking that it wont happen this time.

15:00 to 16:00
Neil digs a pilot shaft and we follow him down. So far down it almost becomes up.  Many, many red blacks (a rare and precious element for making electric circuits) are found, plus iron and diamond. Ralph and Matt sink “Shaft 2”, they find more iron, red and a little diamond. Nice… Work begins outside, ‘Tash fences everything in and Ralnor finds and replants reeds. Doors are placed and the base takes shape…

16:00 to 17:00
I try to start writing and get bitched at for standing around (cheers guys :o). Bedrooms are created (one nice one horrid). We all begin to gather and expand the base. Neil sinks a shaft to the mining level and equipts it with ladders, much much better than the circular staircase that took minutes to get down. I order everyone outside, we must have a picture…

The lads are putting windows in the bedrooms, two little ones have turned into what is more a entire wall of glass. This always happens. ‘Tash gets lost in the wilderness and decides to hide until the zombie goes away.

Ralph has a bucket, Ralnor decides we need a kitchen room and completes a “Ninja” entrance way. Matt wants to build a farm and everyone approves… Ralph walks on the farm while stating “I’ll be taking that mountain down”. Trev manages to interact with things in the game at last…

Ralph find a “flock of cows” then picks the flowers… BY KILLING THEM!! He also starts to wear some leather trousers which make him looks like he’s wandering around (the worst) half naked. One of the exits from the base becomes “the reed garden”, accessibility is limited but its all for the greater garden.

Matt’s farm is taking shape but people continue to walk all over it, this vexes him. The cook room is also finished, ovens line the walls, it’s like a lady-dudes dream :o)

Neil finds coal and a bunch of Creepers really close to our base, he tactically allows us them to explode on him, therefore defending the base. He then proceeds up our mountain and discovers how massive it actually is, finding both snow and pumpkins upon it. Most pleasing as snow can be used to produce snowball to throw at innocent folk and pumpkins are, well, just nice pumpkins.

After a good nights sleep we emerge to find a Creeper trying to explode Matt’s farm, he keeps his distance… We’ve now got enough red dye that Neil decides to start on the “Carpet Project”, we all think we know what he means, but you never know in this game. The first snowballs are used in anger, Ralnor is displeased. Ralph refuses to get in bed before he’s covered in leather (and in the game).

Everyone gets back to mining. Neil mines some fish and ‘Tash mines some sheep. I dig down from the top of the mountain and dig through an oven. Creeper alert in the reed garden!! He explodes and we figure we ought to sort these gits out… We decide to make a cake but we need eggs and milk, but where might we find these? A plan is formed, worry chickens so they produce eggs and squeeze the cows to make milk, that’s how it works right? Tastey, fresh squeezed sky juice could be nice :o)
Ralph wants the cows for leather, but ‘Tash wants a bucket to attack the cows for milk. Matt goes to the loo but and **** suggests we could dig up the farm in his absence, it’s agreed that that would be foolish, as he may kill in revenge.

“All the cows and no buckets” is exclaimed as ‘Tash find the cows, she does manage to milk the cows and is rewarded with some white liquid. “Yes, that’s the milk” Ralnor reassures her “unless you found a bull”… Everyone decides to gather resources again, Neil and Ralnor decide to deep mine down, reaching into the depths with pick and bucket in search of lava. The idea of tiling the kitchen is raised, everyone turns into a Changing Rooms style home furnishings fiend.

Everything’s quitened down a bit, everyone’s just going round doing their own thing. Cake has been baked, and the bedrooms have been nicely carpeted (the jack o lanterns add a disturbing edge). Also the kitchen has been nicely tiled. Tash has gone “underwater pork hunting” and Neil has put a carpet on the roof of the entrance. Ralph is digging, who knows where, who knows why? Perhaps he’s trying to mine for cows again (he likes that leather a bit too much). Oh, and we have a secret entrance to our base, it is a little too secure to be secret and is Neil states it”disrupts my pumpkins”. Sounds uncomfortable… It’s turning into a very English base, carpets, books and lots of coal.

Neil wants to “dig higher” and Matt wants to bake some bricks, where will it all end? People have found my lovely sky observatory but Ralph wants to throw himself off. In any case, perhaps a nice glass floor would add to the effect. Also I think they may have worked out where the wood went, well it definately wasn’t that ladder to the sky, I’ll tell you that.
We now also have automatic doors (Woot!! just like Tesco!!), Matt has laid some purest red from pressure pads to the front door, so we don’t even have to open the doors ourselves any more :o) Disaster strikes immediately as Matt realises that the pressure of monsters will also open our front door, pigs begin to open and close the doors at random.

Nail and Ralnor start messing with infinite sources, I wished it was for BBQ but it was for water :o( They’ve decided to build out of the side of the base with glass, then to place infinte water on it to make a “water feature”. This water fall with viewing platform is perhaps the maddest thing thus far, but it is pretty sweet. This is living…

Me and Matt decide to find some desert, we’ll follow the rising Sun and see what we find… I get dropped from the server, my first crash but everyone else seems to be experiencing ore crashes than usual too. Matt digs a hole and see’s out the night “Saddam style” buried. He continues on at first light and find a lake in the mountains and a desert with cactuses in it on the mountain just next to it. The level designer (which amounts to a mathematical equation)  is doing a really cool job of making the world, but throws up these oddities sometimes, no-one’s complaining though :o)

Pizza arrives (in the real world) and we break for eats.

‘Zza is dead, tea has been drunk and the dog of the house has been teased into a drooling mess. Lets load up and get back in…

First building idea since Pizza, the two crazies have decided we need a pool. Where to build it though? Should they lower the floor or make it in a sensible place, nope, it’s gonna be made of glass and in the air. Apparently it will be like a scuba tank with reeds used as an airlock, lets see shall we… Neil immediately floods the kitchen.

Argh!!! My second crash, just as a zombie activates a pressure pad and enters the base!!

The scuba tank is complete, I immediately drown in it and respawn in a tree somewhere. Matt begins to cultivate the cactuses he found, to use to discourage any further monster intrusions. They hurt like razor-wire, let’s see how many people die on this defensive measure.

Matt has an ingenious idea, cactuses grow 3 blocks tall but can’t exist between two other blocks (so they can’t be built). He places the cactus “seeds” in some sand then puts two dirt blocks higher up, at the 3 level. Once the cactus grows to 3 tall the top will immediately pop off, as it can’t exist there, so self-farming. He extends this theory even further by growing the cactuses on an incline and putting a water flow around them, this means that, when the cactus blocks pop they land in the water and are swept to the bottom of the hill where an individual can pick them all up at once. It’s basically a cactus conveyor belt. Awesome invention, truly inspired :o)

The next project was “The Great Underwater Tunnel”, so basically the Euro-tunnel but made of glass. Trev brought all the sand in the world (to cook up into glass), Neil made the air pockets and then put Jack O Lanterns in the water (cause they work there) and the tunnel was born. It’s good, but something’s missing. Ralnor solves the problem by building a monolith to show the way into/out of the tunnel.

Neil crafts the first phallus of the night, it took a lot longer than normal (and yes, that is what she said too…).

Matt discovers a new enemy, the Slimes. They’re just like the Minecraft version of Slimer but they hurt a bit, after a little butchering they split into small and non-harmful versions of themselves. Matt smashes them and is surrounded by the annoying little buggers. Also, I pick up some Slimeballs. They seem quite useless but I’m sure we’ll find something to do with them. Just when you think you’ve seen it all Mincraft goes and surprises/delights you all over again…

And it’s about time for me, one more picture and I’m out. The guys start to play around with dispensers, they fire out whatever you put in, in response to a circuit. It doesn’t take long before they think of firing stuff out that will hurt things, just like the real world, eh?

So that’s me finished. It’s been a good day of digging and making, what more could a boy ask for? The three remaining guys are now looking at making buttons to fire things out of areas of the base at enemies and making music blocks (they do what you’d expect from the name). The world’s gonna be left up for us all to play online, so I’m gonna be checking in over the next few weeks to see what happens, the updates have certainly enhanced the game and, for the creative of mind, it’s so much fun to play. It really is the living-Lego for the grown-up geek. Any who, I’m out, here’s one last look at what we’ve created from the outside, it looks kinda weird but it was bags of laughs and there’s so much more under the surface too (kinda like the game I guess). Wonderful stuff…

New Vegas: Double Hardcore Mode

With the release of Fallout: New Vegas in The States, my excitement in anticipation of this RPGFPS is just about peaking. Whilst sitting around at work, day dreaming of what I might be able to do and what may lay in wait for me to discover, I’ve toyed with many things. Top most of my “to-do” list is that I MUST play the game in the new “Hardcore Mode”.

“Hardcore Mode” is something that was first introduced in PC Mods of the original Fallout 3 game and turns the more forgiving aspects of surviving the wastes into something more realistic and, in that case, much harder. Dehydration and malnutrition become as lethal as any Deathclaw or Super Mutant Behemoth you might stumble across. Add to this, weighted ammunition and a kaleidoscope of harsh effects the multitude of drugs can cause and the game becomes a survivalists dream (or nightmare, depending on their masochistic tendencies). Saving your last irradiated box of Insta-Mash for the long trek back across the desert will be a necessity and searching the toilet bowls of a petrol stations smallest room for whatever liquids may remain will become common practice.

Thanks to "tocsik" for these lovely real-life labels

“Ok,” say some of you, “but wont that make it more difficult and less fun as a result?”

“Perhaps,” I reply, “but I think that’s the point. The sense of achievement will be increased and the entire atmosphere of the game will be ratcheted up, off-setting any loss you might feel”

In that spirit then, I dreamed up and now introduce an idea for to increase my personal gaming toughness; “Double Hardcore”, which basically boils down to this single statement:

Playing Fallout: New Vegas in “Hardcore Mode”, but only having one life to play with. Once your character dies, that’s it, end of story, do not pass go, do not collect $200, and start from the beginning all over again.

Saving can be done as much as desired of course, so the player can stop whenever is needed, but the main aim is to start the game, sort the settings out and just play as one person for as long as is possible.

I got the dispatch notice for my copy yesterday, so I can hopefully kick my plan for “Double Hardcore Mode” into gear sometime on Friday. I’ll then update this here blog on how it went and, even more hopefully, give a running commentary on the happenings in the life of my persistent avatar at that time and perhaps in future too.

Undoubtedly it’s gonna be a scary-ass time in the New Vegas wasteland, but it’s certainly gonna be an adventure too.

Eugenics if you want to…?

Should a parent be allowed to choose the characteristics of a child? It seems like this question has been asked for an age and has divided opinion for just as long.

My initial reaction to this question is “No” and quite a forceful, unequivocal no at that, but when I begin to think about why not, the waters become significantly less clear.

So; what about embryonic selection, to avoid disability? I guess I can see the virtue in that, it increases quality of life and avoids having to compensate/adjust for any disability that a child might have.

What about genetic manipulation, to avoid disease? Well that seems ok, we do other things to cure disease and we all know that prevention is better than cure, so surely it follows that this should be fine.

Frame these questions differently and a different conclusion is drawn immediately; what if a couple have a child in mortal need of a transplant and the only way to guarantee this is by having a child and choosing a suitable embryo from a fertilised group? Ick, that’s a really tough call, especially as there’s a living being, a child no-less, involved. You’re also then looking at the “When does life begin?” question, is it immediately at an egg’s fertilisation?

What about embryonic selection to allow a family with 5 male children to choose to have a female? Hmmm, I think not. It’s getting too close to that blurry line now.

What about genetic manipulation, to give parents the ability to choose their child’s eye or hair colour? Why certainly not!! I said good day, sir!!

My reaction to these more frivolous uses of cutting-edge biotechnology is, first and foremost, caused by what I would consider a waste of resources. Why should we use what time and money we have on choosing the exterior facets of our offspring, when those same assets could be put to use preventing another’s disease. This seems to me an ironclad argument that can only be objected to by the most fervent capitalist, who I suppose would postulate “Those who can afford it can choose, those who can’t don’t deserve to”. I am certainly more leftist than such an imaginary advocate.

Some day, some day very soon, though we will have to answer these questions and the answer “Well it depends…” just isn’t going to cut it. We’re going to need a line thou shall not cross, not a blurry area that people debate and can manoeuvre within.

Snack Spectrometer #1: Kinder Joy

On my recent foray into Euro-Land I discovered many things, some new and exciting, some I’d rather forget. One item that fell into the “new and exciting” category was a mysterious treat known as the “Kinder Joy” and it inspired me to conceive of the Snack Spectrometer, the newest digest to grace this web-lication.

The Kinder Joy appears at first to be a European version of the beloved Kinder Surprise*. It is almost identical in size, shape and design as those eggs of inevitable disappointment, but, on closer inspection, the shell is an egg-shaped plastic housing with opening tabs at the bottom.

The exterior reads “Avec Surprise” and, on pulling the tabs, this proves to be the case in the extreme. Where one expects a chocolate egg to be, the Joy simply parts in two, one half covered with a silvery Kinder foil and the other having a film with “?” symbols over it. Attached to the Kinder foil is a small Kinder paddle too, very mysterious…

Opening the “?” section reveals the surprise (read; toy). These seem to be universally standard throughout the international Kinder range, so they’re generally alright but nothing special. Unfortunately, I got a horrible Shrek themed pen top replete with stickers of the rather tired CGI ogre.

The snack itself, however, was much more entertaining than the toy.

Opening the Kinder foil reveals more of a surprise that the “?” section. We are presented with what is best described as two mini Ferrero Rocher** in white chocolate mousse, the reason for the Kinder paddle becomes evident. Scooping a mini Rocher ball up with what turns out to be white and milk chocolate layered mousse proves to be a little difficult as the mousse is very stiff, however the reward is most gratifying. I’m not a fan of Rocher and these are identical in every way, but with the Kinder gunk they are much better. The gunk turns out to be very tasty, but like a half digested Kinder Egg. The texture is ok, but it’s a tad sickly and I think any more than this half egg portion and I’d feel a little ill.

The three stages of Joy (photos stolen from Tweets by Marcus J. Jordan***)

In conclusion I’d have to say I prefer the Kinder Surprise we have over here presently, as the chocolate is nicer than the mousse desert and the toys are the same. However, I’d certainly recommend trying one of these treats if you happen upon one, they are a strange but pleasant experience.

+4 in the full Rjandberg-Smythe Scale (+12 to -12)

+Interesting packaging
+You get a toy
+Nice gunk

-A little sickly
-Inferior to the Surprise

* On further investigation I discovered that the Joy is the summer version of Surprise in mainland Europe, as the Surprise’s egg suffers in the warmer temperatures “over there”.

** Ferrero make both Rocher and the Kinder range. So, most likely, they are precisely mini Rocher.

***Currently starring on the When It Rains blog.

Operation: “Driving Maximum Europe” Info-Bomb

As no-doubt everyone reading this blog will know, my summer holiday this year has been dedicated to utilising the lax passport controls we’ve paid so much for over the past few decades. To that end me and my long suffering partner in… well… many things, have driven from the most lovely town that we live in (Bolsover) to the eastern edges of both the Adriatic Sea and Europe itself, then started back again. After travelling some 2394 miles, I’d like to share with you a few things I’ve discovered thus far about the closest continent to our British Isles.

Driving is what you make of it
To comply with the law in different countries along our route we assembled a plethora of items that will probably never be used. We have a full spare bulb set (inclusive of every single bulb on the car), a full first aid kit, two high-visibility jackets, a fire extinguisher and two emergency road triangles. However, as soon as you get off that ferry every rule of the road itself goes out the window, it’s you verses them, survival of the fittest. No-one drives to the speed limit (even when it’s 85Mph), 50% of people never indicate as a matter of principle and zebra crossings mean absolutely nothing (woe-betide anyone who thinks otherwise, on foot or in a car, you will be struck and noisily ridiculed for your foolishness).

The customer is a nuisance
In central and northern Europe all is good, service is quick, precise and polite. In stark contrast, southern and eastern Europeans attitudes are somewhat more… “relaxed”, in almost every respect. If you walk into an empty restaurant and two of you sit at a table for four you will be ordered (not asked) to move immediately. You may wait up to 15 minutes to order a drink and then wait a further 15 for them to arrive. Another 15 minutes will pass before you’re asked what you’d like to eat and if it’s off the menu the waiter(ess) will retire at once, for a further 15 minutes. An hour in and you might be able to order something to eat but don’t even think about paying up and leaving or complaining, as it will be made quite clear to you that it’s entirely your fault and that you shouldn’t have bothered frequenting their establishment in the first place.

If you want to pee, you’ve gotta pay for it
It seems to be a universal truth across continental Europe that, if you’re not at either a restaurant or cafe bar, then you’ll have to part with some coin in order to evacuate your bladder. It doesn’t matter how much money you’ve just spent on petrol or if you’ve purchased several hefty sandwiches with accompanying drinks at a service station. If you’re at some type of attraction, say a museum or a castle you’ve already paid far too much funny money to get into. You might even find yourself walking around one of Europe’s finest cities with an excellent public transport system, a pristine road network and free public access to some of the finest culture in the world. However, no matter what you do or where you are, at every toilet you will find a small bowl, usually on a little table in front of a bedraggled old lady, dressed in her finest tabard, and you will not be allowed to pass her (or anything else for that matter) without stumping up the cash. Ok, so it’s usually around 50p a throw but still… and you’ve gotta think it’s maybe why some of these places have a rather ammonia-like scent that lingers in the air.

I think that’s about enough for now loyal reader, if I’m honest I can’t believe you stuck with me this far. In any case, stay tuned for the next instalment that I’ll almost certainly forget to write, coming to a computer screen near your face soon…

“On the pitch, on the pitch, on the pitch!!”

This Saturday I attended Chesterfield FC’s last game at their Saltergate ground. They’ve played there since 1871, so this was quite an emotional time for hardened fans in attendance. I’d been to some Spireites games in the past and, as my home town team, followed their scores whenever possible. Next season they’re moving down the hill to a brand new ground, next to the massive Tesco superstore. I so want it to be known as “Five Stripe Stadium”…

Anyway, the reason I post about this is because of the rather amusing clip a fan has posted of the final game on uTube, containing footage of the pitch invasion the occurred just before full time.

To set the scene:

The atmosphere in the crowd and the general support was good, but on 42mins Chesterfield scored an own goal in front of the Kop. That deflated things somewhat and nothing much happened for the next half hour. Towards the end of the game Chesterfield gained some spirit and took the game forward, on 80mins scoring an equaliser.

As the game went into injury time the fourth official indicated there would be 6 extra minutes to play. On seeing this many fans made their way to the front and some onto the pitch, readying themselves for the inevitable pitch invasion. The public announcements throughout the match had asked fans not to go on the pitch until the players had made there way off, these requests were met with massive chants of “On the pitch, on the pitch, on the pitch!!!”.

Incredibly, in the 96th minute, with only 45 seconds left, Chesterfield old boy Niven scored the winning goal, crashing the ball home from outside the area. The crowds went wild and those poised to run on the field at full time immediately invaded. However, I think the type of pitch invasion caught on the video below is probably unique in footballing history…

Update: This clip’s now been taken down by the user. The current theory is that it’s been sold to someone or other so may find it’s way onto TV screens in the near future. If it does surface on uTube again I’ll re-link to it.

Update: It reappeared on uTube, so’s back above now. It also got mentioned on SkySports’s SoccerAM show this Saturday too.


It appears some rather interesting things are going on in the corridors of power these days, well the darkened rooms with shuttered windows of power at least. Last Friday night I wrote a short piece about what I saw happening and, as usual, neglected to publish it. However, since the story seems to be developing very much in the direction I predicted I figured I ought to expand it and put it to your half interested eyes. Yeah, I know, I wouldn’t be writing any of this if it had gone the other way but in my defence I prophesied it to all I met over the weekend, so indulge me this once…

This picture = 1001 words

So the Liberal Democrats talk to the Tories about a possible coalition and everyone falls around in seeming disbelief that such a thing could happen, but of course it would, in fact it had to. A corner stone of Lib Dem policy for years has been that of electoral reform, with the aim of producing a Parliament that is more reflective of the proportion of votes cast for each party. They could hardly go on evangelising some form of proportional representation without at least being seen to consider handing power to the party that the largest number of people voted for.

However, I believe this to be a ruse done for the sole purpose of preventing them from being criticised during the electoral reform campaign soon to come. It is my belief that they will soon form an alliance with Labour, a minority government will be put in place for a short time, before having a referendum on changing our electoral system and calling another general election in short order.

The reason for this is simple, the Lib Dems have found themselves with a sliver of power, but the only way this generation of Wigs might do so again is if they gather up all their chips now and put them on one spin of the reform referendum wheel. It’s easy to see why, just look at the percentages of votes polled for each party and the number of seats that’s earned them. For example, Labour had 29% of total national votes and secured themselves 258 seats, in stark contrast the Lib Dems got 23% of total ballots but this gave them a meagre 57 seats. A 6% less votes but 201 fewer seats. Ouch!

Sure they could now go into government with the Conservatives, but what will that get them? Some agreements on Education, a select committee on electoral reform and cabinet seats in Culture, the Arts and probably the Olympics. The downsides would be a mass abandonment by anyone even slightly left of centre and sailing all their talk of change down the river.

Join up with Labour and things are much more comfortable. The two parties are much closer on many topics and the party faithful would find it much easier to stay on board. They certainly significant differences still, but Labour have already said they’d be open to a referendum on electoral reform and that’s the big win they’re looking for, a shot at changing the electoral system and possibly guaranteeing the party a share of power for generations to come. In this man’s opinion, that’s all they need, end of story. If it’s a decision between a scent of power now or the chance of having influence for the ages to come, there can be only one choice.

At present Mr Clegg is performing the very delicate manoeuvre of moving from one horse to another mid-race, that he may have planned to do this from the start makes it no easier now. The Tories wont let this go without a fight either, they’ll shout and cry foul all the way cause they actually thought they might win this time out. Clegg sending in a team to negotiate just made them believe it even more. As I type, it appears Brown has played his card now and in quite a timely fashion too. All that remains is for Lib Dems to suddenly discover an impasse in their talks with the Conservatives and the Labour party to suddenly find a youthful, bright and articulate leader (I’m lookin at you Miliband(s)).

Update: It appears the Tories have now offered a referendum on AV (Alternative Voting system) after the resignation of Brown. They must have seen this for the game-changer it is. A hearty “Well played” to the Liberals for getting possible electoral reform out of both leading parties now. Looks like that referendum’s happening no matter what now then…

Neptune’s Pride – Neil’s (backstabbing) Game

As you see this, gentle reader, the editorial staff of Stuporcollider and 60% of our readership (plus guest) prepare for the commensment of a war to end all wars. Or, more likely, a conflict to start a lot of arguments and recriminations. This will be an ulimate battle to the death, eight players, one galaxy. Only one race will survive to rule…

You didn’t guess it?? Well we’ll be taking part in a premuim game of Neptune’s Pride. If you’ve not caught news about this online multiplayer RTS, that’s probably because it’s still in Beta and even when it is finally at v1.0 will doubtless remain a fringe game, with hardcore participation but shallow mainstream penatration. That said, inital reports have not been unappealing and, lets be honest, we’re at the fringes anyway. If you’ve ever played Risk then add to that mechanic some simple technology trees and a trade system and you’re pretty much where the game seems to lie. NP’s scale, however, is completely none-terrestrial. You venture through the stars of a random or systematically constructed galaxy to find and conquer your fellow players.

One of the main features, and one I like the sound of, is the pace of the game. It’s an RTS (so’s not turn-based) but traveling from star to star takes a number of hours. The game is played through your chosen interweb browser, so you can log-in and check you progress a few times a day, set what you want your dudez to do and leave them to their jobs. This allows for a lot of tactical thinking and games that last weeks.

Just inside the left shoulder blade...

Obviously the size and power of your fleets influence greatly your success, but there’s also the opportunity to form (and there for break) alliances with other players. This, I think, is where the beauty of the game could be. I can envisage some exploration, a bit of combat/trade and then a whole lot of backstabbing and subterfuge… I can hardly wait…

And with that, the e-mail has arrived telling me that the game is afoot…

I intend to post  “every now and then” with comments on the game itself and coverage of hostilities, for as long as I survive. So check back for fighty talk and feedback soon. I’m now off to plan how best to eradicate everyone else from my universe!

epic.LAN – Day 2

Late start today, funny that, but we’re all up now and we’re McD’s breakfast fuelled for fun (the Jolt Cola helps too). The story of our morning will be with you shortly, so get off the edge of your seats…

Wake time involved being hit in the head, as the ear-lugs are far too effective.

10:30 to 12:30
After hopping to my machine, still in the sleeping bag, we resolved to get Gazz on line once and for all. Owen had brought his Mac along, in place of Gazz’s now discarded machine. Cue much derision from every passing person and the supplier of said machine becoming increasingly defensive. Then we tried every Windows DVD we had so that it would take it, we got a long way with XP Media Centre Ed. then had to change discs and the Mac doesn’t have a hardware button to eject the disc (nice going there Mr Jobs, looks nice but functional it ain’t). We got there eventually though and now Editor Hayes is well on his way into the ARG, catching the leaders who had a head start due to their good performance yesterday.

With the help of Gazz’s 1.5TB external drive, I sorted out my shares and figured out how to use DC++, then I was away. Hurrahh!!

13:00 to 14:00
Gazz is looking at videos to solve his ARG issues, I’m looking at everyone and their mother’s shares and Owen now has the side off his PC. RAM issues, it would appear, causing inopportune Blue Screen issues at random intervals. So the second member of our party has PC problems, that makes 2/3, I’m ow feeling rather lucky to have a functioning machine, but don’t want to curse it. Anyway, he seems to be running now, but reduced to 4GB RAM from his initial 6GB.

The next game I’m looking forward to is TF2 at 17:00, preceded by 1 hour of CoD:MW, which I don’t have. I have Modern Warfare 2, which we wont be playing as it doesn’t have support for Dedicated Servers at LAN events (or generally in fact), good call there Infinity Ward, you’ve managed to make people not play the latest iteration of one of the biggest gaming franchises at what is surely the fanatical level of PC gaming. Nothings says “we’ve sold-out for the casual audience” like a massive game that’s not played at LANs. Seems like terribly case of foot-shootage to me. After all, what happens at these events tends to effect things elsewhere further down the line.

Well I’ve been ARGing since about 12 and am currently 11th of 50, so I still have some work to do to catch the leaders. The last puzzle was particularly taxing, involving autokeyed vignere’s, decoding video clip clues, map overlays and frantic running around the racecourse like the fillies I’m prohibited from spending on. Fun though. The next puzzle seems pretty cryptic, may need sustenance before I tackle it. Also werewolves last night was fun, there are more games due tonight so I’ll fill you all in on that later.

Well I finally finished the ARG, some pretty good puzzles, right up my alley. Unfortunately I don’t think I finished high enough to have won anything. TF2 will be starting shortly, and I know Mr Cooper is keen to strut his stuff in that particular forum…

epic.LAN – Day 1

Well… we’re here, we’re alive and we’re set-up… sort of. FYI; I’ve also not showered and have my PJ bottoms on as underwear… Living the dream or what??

12:00 to 13:15
My car wasn’t ready so our learned friend Mr Ashcroft kindly made his way from Manchester to Uttoxeter via Chesterfield. He arrived at 11:00 and by 12:15 we were away (“I hardly even faffed at all” – Ado exaggerated). The drive down was standard, save for the 15 mins in traffic on our Uttox approach in which our dastardly driver was heard to say “…someone better have died, else it’s not worth it”.

13:15 to 13:45
Feeling rather famished after the morning’s efforts we stopped in at our favourite American chicken eatery. As we walked in the colonel seemed to have a rather unsettling look in his eye and we didn’t have to wait long to find out why. As we began to order we were all told, in turn, “I’m afraid we have no pieces chicken”… Yep, that’s right, KFC had NO CHICKEN… well for at least a half hour. Bemused but rendered powerless by the white-suited warriors secret special scent, we ordered our burgers and waited.

Putting the ass back in fast food

Arrival at the LAN and initial set-up. Everything seemed to be going so well… until…

15:00 to 15:45
PC break-down. The nightmare of every LANer. At approximately 15:00 Gazz changed his power configuration, simply unplugging his base and monitor from the main supply into a 4-gang splitter. Imediately tragedy hit, nothing on the monitor, no signal and no PC :o(

For the next 45 minutes we collectively tried to save her. Plugging the monitor and graphics output in to various different pieces of equipment to evaluated what the problem may be. Trying every different config we could think of but to no avail. The power was on throughout, but no-one was home with-in.

Eventually the monitor sprung to life, connected through VGA (instead of DVi) into another machine. Whilst this was good, the bad news was that the PC was at fault with the most likely suspect being the graphics card.

16:00 to 16:30
Graphics being isolated as the possible scupper to plans of LANtertainment, Gazz struck out to resolve the issue. The guy from Kustom PC had arrived with his boxes of goodies, but upon questioning had inexplicably brought no graphics cards… One quick Google search later revealed several component shops in striking distance, a few phone calls later and we had a winner. A GeForce 9600 for £80 and just a spit away. Our chauffeur had to leave for a Motor Head gig in Manchester at 17:00 (and they call me disorganised) so Gazz and he made their way to the jalopy and sped their way to retrieve the requisite part.

16:30 to 17:00
Upon their return the task was took in hand with speed (well, WoW Mountain Dew – Gamer Fuel/Jolt Cola (or beer for the men amongst us -Gazz)). The card inserted and the machine powered up, but still nothing. People crowded, suggested solutions, tweaked and prodded but nothing would work. Time of death was declared at 17:05


Our transportation master had to leave, but he would return after the gig and he promised to bring a laptop on which the increasingly unfortunate Gazz could game forth. Until that time, however, he would try his hand at the epic.LAN ARG using the machine now left vacant. That was until that all went a bit squiffey too.

17:30 to 18:30
Thought worry ye not Owen (and laugh ye not at the luckless Mr. Gazz’s plight), after a few epic.ADMIN looks at the browser and a soft reset or two later, connections were restored and displays relit. On with the gaming I say… OOONNNNNNN!!!!

I don’t play many FPS games, quite a disadvantadge at a LAN event, however epic.LAN has a rather fiendish ARG style treasure hunt to exercise my cerebral muscles. Starting as I have, much later than my fellow gamers, I have no chance of finishing first today; in fact people finished before we arrived. However, the grand prize is won tomorrow, so all is not lost. I am currently up to a puzzle that involves locating areas shown in a video clip, presumabley for letters or clues left there. Unfortunately it is now dark and doesn’t exactly lend itself to clue hunting. I may need to return to this tomorrow.

Maybe it was the break and the clarity it gave but as soon as I editted this, I went back to the puzzle and it jumped straight out at me. That was the final clue too, until 12 noon tomorrow. Wish me luck 🙂

Well Gazz is happily playing a bit of Battlefield 2 on Ashcroft’s machine, and me? Me dear reader, I’m sat here waiting for the patch to be uploaded into the FTP for me to apply before I can join in. What was that? Download it you say? Ah yes, well I would but it’s a 2Gb patch from the original disc version I have. I just hope they get it there in time for me to play in the “Big Game” at 21:00. It’s one of my favourite games too, only let down by the lack of “Fritz” to fight. Now I wait in hope…

Still waiting… and Gazz has moved on to King’s Bounty now. Much more his style I think.
Woot!! They are here, so very relieved…

King’s Bounty was a little wordy for a LAN game, maybe when I have more time to get immersed it will be fun, just not right now. It’s ok though, the ‘big game’ of BF2 started at 9. Turns out it’s quite good fun to play as the Arabs and kill the infidels.  Right time for a bit of Champions Online to help me stop the trigger-finger-twitch

Ok, interesting things going on all around, but I’m not involved :o( Counter Strike Source is being played 1v1 knock-out for a trifle as main prize and there’s a group of people playing a game called “Werewolves” over at the other dies of the bar (they’re rowdy but I can’t seem to figure out why or what’s going on). A small number of folks are playing L4D2 and a growing number watching videos of one type or another. Oh and there’s a Trance DJ set on, not my thing but it’s inoffensive enough for me to ignore.

As for your intrepid Stup. Ed.s; After losing patience with the FPS style, Gazz has paid the extortionate sum of £2.99 is downloading Civ3:Complete and I’m doing an install run of Fallout 3. It was either that or Bioshock, as that’s still in it’s shrink wrap, but I was advised to finish one first before starting the other.

You see, it doesn’t matter that we’re not playing against each other, just that we’re all playing here together… ahhhh

And now it is to bed I must go, or at least the floor about 10 yards away. I’ve watched an updated a lot of stuff in this time, prepared my shares for tomorrow and Gazz has played many games of “Werewolves”. I think it may be something you all come to know more about, I’m sure he’ll explain tomorrow. Night night…