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…

Twi-Hard 2: Twi Harder! LIVEBLOG!

Well, we’re back! And we’ve brought Twilight: New Moon with us! For reasons none of us really understand we’re here to live blog the second movie in the Twilight saga.

Present is Ado to my left, and Gazz to my slightly further left. The Thai food is here, and two pints of beer have been consumed. Meet us at 20:30, and prepare your loins!

We’re here, and we’re watching the trailers before the ‘feature’! I have a beer, Gazz has a beer and Ado has a squash.

More ARRPATTS trailers before the film starts. YAY

Crustyplow: The Driest Furrow. A movie about kids watching old folks getting it on.

The URL advert for Eclipse lists a Bebo address. Aren’t they dead?

A yellow moon. That’s symbolism for a weak bladder. Bella sounds prophetic (pathetic). Lots of red riding hoods. Flowers and some old bird. HI GRANDMA!

The sparkles begin! EAT GRANDMA! DO IT EDDIE!

HOLY SHIT; Edward did Bella’s granny. Now bargain basement Jason Leigh brings a sammdige. I’M BORED.

Ado: She only has one tone.
Gazz: You’ll learn to love it.

What kind of car is that. I think it’s a Volvo! Perfectly framed shot of a pretty boy walking in slow motion next to his shiny Volvo. Yea!

Ed is 109, she is 19. ULTROPAEDO! Get off that lass, grandad!

Gazz: We could just fuck in the back of this Volvo?

Best line of the film? ‘I’m just filling out Bella’ and ‘You should come take a ride’

Ado: ‘I saw this hole the other day, and I thought of you. It’s like a wizard’s sleeve!’

Perky girl rots my brain. Ado: ‘Vampires don’t use stairs, it makes sense now!’ Funny ‘don’t trust vampires joke’

Ado: ‘The Keanu Reeves award for emoting goes to…’

Gazz: ‘Previously on Twilight: biting’

PRETENTION!

Shit! Brian Clough is in this film! Nice ruff, Clough!

Best part of the film? Dismemberment by Brian Clough. Clough’s Rough Stuff is Gazz’s Cliff Richard cover band.

‘She’ll come for me soon’

‘Don’t hate the truck. It’s a Volvo’

YOU GOTS BLOOD ON MY BEIGE CARPET BITCH, TAKE IT! Eat her!

Does Ed look a bit disgusted.

Ado: Look at all the blood in you. Time of the month is it?

‘How do you do it?’ From behind with a bag on your head. No two bags for redundancy. You’re a double bagger.

Why do they burn the bandages? It’s so that they don’t go rooting through the bins later for them. It’s like when you throw half a sausage away, then regret it later.

Mumble translation:-
Ed: Bella do you understand my feelings for you at all?
Bella: God told me. How’d you feel about your solo? Ern weewap, so don’t worry about mine
E: Scronsay
[pause]
B: Shitty birthday. Say ass one thing. Kicks me (Gimli?)
E: SCROMF. [pained look]
B: It was a poo
E: Who are you?
–==SCENE==– (Ed only does one take)

Bella don’t use no photoshop. Also Gazz sez they ruining Bon Iver. Ado: Nice titties on the left.

Neil: What’s happened so far?
Ado & Gazz: Nothing

Who the fuck is Jizbert?

Bella: ‘I’m coming!’ Us: From that distance?

Who the hell is charlie? We don’t know but they ARE in the trees.

Charlie says, don’t watch Twilight. Gazz: Oh Stephanie Meyer, how I hate you

MOPE!

Bella still looks constipated. No wait, it’s coming! No, she’s just falling over. WHILE STANDING STILL. DU HAW, I’M SO CLUMSY LOL

Topless action! Man boob. Moob.

Ahh, Charlie is Tesco Jason Leigh. Gazz: ‘I got naked, but I didn’t rape her’

OKTOBER
Mope
NOVEMBER
Mope
Gazz: She’s not even listening to the Cure. Rubbish
DECEMBER
Snow mope. Snope
EMAIL BREAK. Cool, disappearing computer!
Bella: SCREEAPHRAAAGHHHAHHH! Period cramps
Charlie shall now be called Churl.

Beer is gone 😦 GAZZ, GET ME ANOTHER. Now Bella is going to Jacksonville. I hope the movie ends soon.

WE’RE ONLY 30 MINUTES IN! There’s another hour and thirty to goooo.

Hopefully it’s an hour’s worth of credits. Ado: Who for? Mumblor and all the cameramen who offed themselves.

Bella’s truck don’t work ’cause it’s not a VOLVO. I wan’t to drink at ONE EYED PETE’S.

Wtf is with ghost Edward? Really?

Bella: I think I know one eye.

Bella want rough trade. Ed thinks that be a bad idea. None of us have any clue what’s going on here. Now time for MORE MONOLOGUE!

Bella: If i need a rush of danger to see him, I’ll have to drive a HONDA.

Is it that Ed actually turns up when she’s in danger, or that she’s gone mental and sees him when she’s high on adrenaline?

Why do they keep making jokes about Bella’s age. Is this a theme?

Wolfman (Jacob?): Do you not like that song?
Bella: I don’t like things I enjoy

First time I’ve seen Bella turned on by is man fighting.

I remember this on time I broke up with a lass and woke up screaming every night. Supportive Churl is supportive. And not funny.

Churl: Sometimes you have to learn to love what’s good for you. [Later he is arrested for incest]

Gazz about Jake: Is that as close as you can get to being female whilst still having a ballsack?

There’s still a damn hour left.

Is Ed really scared of her driving a dirt bike. Isn’t that a mite overprotective. YES FACEPLANT INTO A ROCK! MORE OF THIS SORT OF THING!

GREAT LINES IN CINEMA:
Jake: You’re apologising for bleeding?
Bella: I guess I am.

More random topless! ‘Here smell my shirt. Mmm’

Why can’t we see the tigers being killed by bears?

Bella: What about ‘Face Punch’ have you heard of that?
Rando #1: No
Bella: You have now! [Smek]

Let’s Do This! Face Punch. I wanna see that more that Twiglet. Rando is a pussy. We also wanna see Parking and Gambling, Gods and LSD, also Pontypool, Mike Zero.

BOO RALPH! You’re rubbish. We see you’re online, you’re just hiding from this amazing film!

Bugger! Jake made her feel feelings again. Now we go back to mopecore mode for a while. STOP MOPING! SHUT UP! FUCKING TEENAGERS! ‘I’m not like a car, you can’t just fix me. But I do have a spacious boot and wide exhaust’

I honestly don’t know what’s happening now, except that Ed has gone and Bella’s a bit mopey.

Topless!

Why does Bella go for angry assholes? Ginger rando was OK.

‘Hey Jake, come and hang out in the woods with us guys in tight shorts with no tops on in the pouring rain! It’s totally not gay!’

We think Bella’s trying to find a cliff to jump off. We want that! DO IT BELLA.

Oooh, Bella on her knees again! Who’s this guy? I think his name is Orwan, Rowan or Woyan. His accent is great and randomly dropped. Actmaster!

Ado: MY EDWARD SENSE IS TINGLING
Gazz: Who the fuck are all these people?

Why would any vampire be afraid of Ed? He’s a goit.

Growbag: I can’t help but kill you, so mouthwatering
Bella: Please don’t

There’s totally a wolf! Werewolves vs. Vampires is more boring than I thought.

Twilight rules of vampires:
A) You’re immortal
B) You’re pretty
C) You’re sparkly
D) Don’t really need to drink blood
E) Get a bit angry around blood sometimes but not a lot
F) BASICALLY NO DRAWBACKS!

Ado and Gazz are on Team Jake. I’m on Team FOAD.

Jake can’t work shirts anymore. Cutting his hair cut his IQ by all.

WE DEMAND VAMPIRE, WEREWOLF, MOPEY BINT THREE WAY! IT SHALL BE AWESOME!

Bella: Come back and talk, Jake! I have not moped enough! (Falls over)

Plot is actually happening! We’re on tenterhooks!

Ado: It’s all about the dialogue. The dire-log

SLAP! Anger! Wolfywoo! Let’s hope those shorts grow back!

Ralph, you’d like this. They keep talking about feelings. You’re into that, right?

Wolfmen: Hey Bella, wanna come inside? there might not be any nobbing.

Ado is taking his top off to show TEAM JACOB solidarity. Bella is a total whore for supernatural bastards.

BEER 3!

I watched Inception before this. I don’t know if that’s making this worse, or if it really is this tedious.

BITE HIS FACE OFF! Jamaycahn vampire’s face was delicious, B. You know, the main villain in this film hasn’t been seen by the audience yet, but is always talked about. Is that good filmmaking? NO!

Ghost Volvo! Golvo! Ginger, there in the trees, old man! Dumbass. Now she’s after Churl! OH NOES! Get the ginger, Team Jacob. Do you think she’s leading them into a trap? I THINK SHE IS!

Twilight vamps can not only cross running water, they can swim like motherfuckers.

Ado: Not vampires. CAMPIRES!

Bella’s going to be killed by the sea! Yay! Shark ginge! Kill her, end this damn movie! At least Ghost Ed is around to watch.

Grey Shorts Guy: Hey A-Hole ar going to horrargh ver place. Have you seen the financing available on new Volvos?
Bella: [Mumbles]

All the dudes Bella likes are the Hulk. Imagine if she met Bruce Banner. SPAFF!

Bella is such a ho bag. ‘You’re so special! Also, I hallucinate about Ed like all the time. Lets knob and I can hallucinate his face on your piece!’

Ado: Abstinwhore did done goned did a breathe!

Psychic vampire is not a character. Sometimes I wish I was a walking deus ex machina.

Psychic lass: #Bella, what is that awful wet dog smell?’
Bella: ‘MY THATCH!’

Better wolfvampbint threeway! Psychic vamp is a better Ed. Me: What month is it now? Gazz: Mopetober

Shit, this is the first time in an hour we’ve seen Jake with his shirt on! 5 to 1 that he’s topless in the next film. Bella should knob Jake, he’s much better.

Stuff happening! Psychic: He wants to die too! Us: SO DO WE!

Is that a Volvo? WHY YES IT IS! Bella has her own plane. It’s a Virgin Atlantic. FNARR!

Brian’s back! Get in there, Brian! Camp, camp Brian Clough. Are the folks in Engerland? They’ve nicked our road signs. It’s apparently italy. With Brian Clough. They’re also driving a Porsche, so you know it’s Italy.

FUCKING CLOWN SHOES! None of this makes sense! ‘You go, because he can read my thoughts! Even though he saw you dying half way across the globe!’ Ed’s suicide plan is gash.

SHUT UP YOU MOPEY TWATS! You make no sense and we can’t tell what you’re saying.

Bella – still a virgin whore. What are we betting that the little girl vamp is like 800 or something.

WORST MUZAK EVER! I bloody hate these damn boring vampires. BRIAN CLOUGH IS BACK! Brian: ‘ANwo Anctante!’

Ado: This is the best bit of the film! Look at Brian emoting! I’d forgotten that people could do that! He actually changed the tone of his speech! Amazing!

FIGHT! It’s fast in slow-mo. Nobody knows why they’re fighting. Probably for ratings. SMASH HIS PRETTY FACE IN!

For a soulless vampire, Ed is one depressing bastard.

INTO THE CLOUGH EYE! What’s in there? A crap scene where Bell and Ed have a nice run in the woods. We know Bella is a vamp because she FAILS TO FALL OVER.

Ed: Sorry I fucked off forever. It were for your own good
Bella: …
Ed: Whormble wardhe
Bella: …
Ed: …
Bella: My donna wo change me
Ed: [waffle]

Gazz: If you become a vampire, you automatically lose your hymen. Incidentally Bella is more of a son than you ever were, Ed

Woop! Jake and Ed meet! Jake has lost his shirt again. Jake has introduced an exciting contrivance that will stretch this out for another movie at least. Bella tells Jake she’s been stringing him along. I’ll bet Jake keeps sniffing around her though. Damn Bella’s fickle heart! So many hot dudes want to do her, and she can’t decide who gets a ride.

Ed: Wait five years, then I’ll make you a drawback free vamp.
Bella: No
Ed: Marry me then

END. Thank fuck that’s over!

No wait! There’s a stinger after the credits! It’s Brian Blessed as Ghengis Khan! He’s come to set all the main characters on fire for being boring mopey assholes! Look at all the blood! best stinger ever!

That was bloody awful. I hate you all. Goodnight.

“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.

Politic

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…

10:00
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!!
-Ado

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.
-Ado

14:15:30
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.
-Gazz

15:30-17:00
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”.
-Ado

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.
-Ado

Putting the ass back in fast food
-Gazz

14:00
Arrival at the LAN and initial set-up. Everything seemed to be going so well… until…
-Ado

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.
-Ado

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.
-Ado

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
-Ado

sob
-Gazz

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!!!!
-Ado

18.30-20.00
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.
-Gazz

20.01
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 🙂
-Gazz

20:30
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…
-Ado

20:40-20:45
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…
-Ado

20.45-22.45
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
-Gazz

23:30
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
-Ado

05:01
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…
-Ado