Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Oblivion Problem

This is going to be one of those posts that I regret in the morning.

I am very much looking forwards to Elder Scrolls 4 Oblivion. And when it is released I am going to buy it and a XBox360 to play it on. Reason one, the game will turn my PC into a toaster if I don't buy it for the 360, and two it has been years since I last played a game of this nature (non-linear singleplayer RPG, is my favourite game type) or had a current gen console so I can easily justify the expense in my head (and maybe even a £600 HD TV, but that's a different story). The problem however is that if it is out before the end of April, then it is going to have a big detrimental impact on my final year project.

I am going to buy it, I am going to play it and I am already a month behind in my final year project. So the signs are not good. My only hope is to be ultra efficient about my work and hope that Oblivion isn't released until the end of April (final year project is due the 1st of May)

I keep trying to picture myself waiting until after I have handed in my project before buying it, but I can't see it. The distraction from having it setup and not playing it is unbearable. For the past few years I have staved off this craving for gameage by grinding through games in a matter of hours and quickly dismissing other games as crap, but I don't think either of those things are going to happen with Oblivion.

Things aren't any easier with GameSpy printing Previews putting the game's only negatives as
"After it's released, will there be any time left to spend with our loved ones?"
I need help!! I need Oblivion to be delayed until the end of April!!!

Sorry if this sounds selfish, but I am just feeling a little bit vulnerable right now.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Reasonable Doubt

Just finished watching Loose Change 2nd Edition (not sure what the 2nd ED means) which is a documentary about how the terrorist bombings on the world trade centre in New York and the Pentagon where staged. And it presents a well constructed argument, but wither this is because the attacks where executed by the US government or Terrorists we will never know and that is because the proper procedures for accident investigation and disclosure haven't been followed.

The thing for me about this whole thing is that it seems odd to blame Osama bin Laden because there is as much evidance for that as Weapons of Mass Destruction being in Iraq. And the fact that Osama denies anything to do with the attacks says to me he didn't do it. Terrorists always admit to their attacks. The very nature of being a terrorist is that you persuade people through terrible acts to acknowledge your cause. By not admitting to your attack you undermine the whole foundation as to what a terrorist is. And nobody has ever implicated Osama other than Bush. So the whole thing smells funny, plus we already know that Bush lied about the Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Microsoft's IPod Package Parody

Somebody has put together A Great Parody of Microsoft designing the iPod packaging.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Hands-on @ VE

"You can do anything you want except walk through the burning ring of fire."
And that is what all the journalists have been told when playtesting Oblivion because the developers wanted to leave something undocumented for players to find.

Anyway Voodoo Extreme has a great Preview of Oblivion with some desktop sized (1280x720) pictures on page three.

There are a few things in the preview which I liked, quest objective locations being marked on your map now and:
"Your grab hand indicates red if the item you're about to take will get you in trouble with its owner."
Something finally that tells you wither what you are about to take will piss an NPC off or not. RPGs have needed this for years, but never had.

I am very much looking forwards to Oblivion. A supposed twenty hours of gameplay just to complete the main quest is my idea of a game, instead of these afternoon jaunts which I have been playing for the past few years. Still haven't properly played a game in years because I have always been doing assignments and so been grinding games instead of playing them (needed to get them done so they don't impact on my work). Still I have been in a kind of gaming rut for years and it has been a combination of titles bing too short, having crap stories and unrefined gameplay (star wars Empire At War being the most recent offender). So it is my hope that Oblivion is the game that makes it worth me buying a 360 after I finish my final year project (last console I bought was an N64 and that was just for F-Zero).

Massiverly Multiplayer Pong

It requires flash 8 to play and is a little odd because when you join you are assigned a side (it tells you at the bottom which side you are on) and then averages out all the requests for where the bat should be against all the other players, but ye This is a lot of fun, in a strange geeky kind of way.

Smackdown vs. Raw 2006 on the Sony PSP (Load Times)

The PSP's launch titles suffered from some bad load times because developers assumed that the UMDs would have roughly the same transfer rate as DVD. So there is no excuse for This.

And yes it is possible to count in game videos as part of the load times because a lot of games stream content in a separate thread into memory during these sequences so the player don't have to look at the load screen for so long.

Microsoft's Project Origami

Microsoft has just launched a new marketing campaign site for Project Origami which is a Small Tablet Computer. Kind of a mix between a PDA and Tablet PC.

At the mo the rumour is out this year, Vista enabled and about $500, but if you wanted to spin the story it could be suggested that this is the rumoured XboxPortable and will have some special 360 connectivity.


Warbears is the most polished flash game I have ever played. Not sure how long it took me to complete it, but it must have been at least an hour (I ended up using the walkthrough on the comments page).

Friday, February 24, 2006


Today I watched the Singapore film Fifteen directed by Royston Tan. It is Royston's first feature film as he spends most of his time doing music videos, shorts for film festivals and advertisements for mobile phones. The only other film that I know of that has a director with a Music video background is Casshern which has an unbelievable level of visual styling. Until I seen that I through The Matrix was visually ahead of it's time, but now I realise that cinema has progressed much further since then and that The Matrix was long overdue when it arrived. Anyway with a music video director as the director, 15 is certainly a good looking film, but more than that Royston allowed Singapore and the gang / drug culture he was delving into to influence the film.

On first viewing I thought it was a visually nice film about some young kids who where on the wrong side of the tracks and that the film explored the more sensitive sides of their nature to show that they where still hoping for a better future, but there is a scene that caught my attention with one of the guys cutting himself with a knife. It looked very real and with that and a few other scenes I wondered how Royston got such realistic performances out of his young actors. So I watched it again with the commentary on and normally commentary is like "This is how we did the camera for this scene, isn't it so nice how the light shines off that curtain", but the commentary here is honest and that is when the film blew my mind. Turns out that the knife wasn't a fake knife and the guy wasn't acting.

See Royston did a short called 15 in 2002 and it is that which he turned into a feature length version by the same name in 2005. The short featured a script preformed by real gang members and that went well, but Royston had a problem with them playing upto the camera and getting them to follow direction. So for the feature length version he chose new actors and allowed them to be themselves by filming them for a few months before making the film and then filming the actual shooing in a more documentary style of filming while still following a script. To make sure none of them ran off he let them all live at his flat during filming and incase any of them actually ranoff he had several scrips written so he didn't loose any vital characters. At onepoint in the film a character called Armanie is sitting crying on a couch on his birthday and the narrator says "and that was the last time I seen Armanie". On first viewing I though this was the voice of his friend reminiscing, but turns out it's Royston, because Armanie was actually crying about something, then got arrested for stabbing a guy outside McDonald's and that was the lastime he ever seen Armanie.

The film is classed as a Drama, but really it is a Biographical piece about these kid's lives. The script is written based on all the actors personal experiences and a lot of observations by Royston. The through of these kids so young having to deal with so much shit is humbling for me.

I have read a few comments about the film and it has very fast dialogue subtitles because the audio dialogue is in Mandarin, possibly the worlds fastest language. And the film doesn't have a nice big western plot twist or love story or tragedy or anything else you would expect from a western film. So a lot of the comments that have been made about 15 haven't been kind or even accurate because it is perceived as a drama. My perception of film making changed a little today and that is all down to 15.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Information Security Management Assignment

Just finished my report on promoting security awareness in an organisation. Took longer than I though (what doesn't), but I am very pleased with it and it will be handed in a whole day \(*o*)/ before the deadline!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

PC Based Geometry Wars 2 Clones

For looks Grid Wars is the most Geometry Wars like, but it has control issues. Where as HGEWars doesn't look as good, but with the 360 Controller ini File that enables full Common Controller input. The game just feels right and is a lot of fun.

16.6 Million Points on Geometry Wars

The Video is 20 minuets long if you are interested.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Snowboarding Tricks Guide

The Half-Pipe event in this years Olympics might be over, but the BBC website is still hosting a great Snowboarding Tricks Guide narrated by the GB Coach.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Competitive Gaming Tips

There are times as a gamer where you will find yourself in a multiplayer match against the person who owns the game that you don't and in those cases you are not expected to win as you don't own the game yourself, but here are a few tips that just might give you an edge.

If you are playing split screen looking at your opponents view can sometimes give you an advantage by letting you know where they are, what weapons or powerups they have and possibly what their intentions are (i.e a cover battle in Perfect Dark Zero).

Use sound to your advantage. If you hear footsteps from your right speaker then it is likely there is somebody off to your right. Being able to locate people in a level by sound alone is an excellent radar substitute.

When running around corners make sure you are looking towards the apex of the corner. This will allow you to see anybody who is waiting for you just inside.

If you have a weapon that is slow reloading make sure you have auto-reload turned off in the options. That way when it is empty instead of dodging fire while it reloads, switch weapon. This also had the added advantage by putting intermediate opponents offguard as they will think you are reloading and unable to fire.

Mouse sensitivity should be set on a game per game basis depending on they types of weapons used. A high sensitivity will help with twitch action and following fast moving targets where as low sensitivity will give much better accuracy when firing and both moving and stationary targets, so is essential when sniping.

Most strategy games have a fundamental flaw in that the amount of technology, buildings and units is dictated by how much resources the player has. Has soon as the match starts make sure you secure most of the resources on the level. If you are playing against newbs get the resources in the middle of the level first and then the ones closes to your base. Otherwise you will have a small firefight to get the resources in the middle of the level with more experienced players.

Don't spend all your time on defence and technologies. These are generally a wast of time. Your objective should be to win as fast as possible because most players will sitback and build until they are ready to attack.

2D beat-em-ups
Button mash, nothing can help you here.

3D beat-em-ups
Choose a fast character, these are generally balanced so that their weaker attacks aren't much weaker than their powerful attacks, which you aren't going to use because you don't know them. Plus having a faster character will make it easier to dodge attacks.

Learn your opponents moves to know when to block and when to sidestep. Your objective should be to reduce the amount of health you loose, over the priority of dealing damage to them.

Go slow into corners and fast out. This will take advantage of the simulated weight distribution of the car by having the weight on your front tires when you are breaking and the car's weight on your back tires when accelerating. And yes most racing games simulate this. The only game which probably doesn't is Mario Kart.

Front wheel drive cars are always easier to steer and wipeout less.

Concentrate fire on a specific part of your opponent and make good use of splashdamage. The unfortunate thing here is that experience is really everything.

Games with powerups
In some of these games grabbing the powerups is good, in others it is not worth the effort. Know witch of these types of games you are playing.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Governing a Company

The United States of America is not a Democracy. It is a Federal Republic which is a type of government that shares power with many smaller governments called States.
A Republic in effect a Monarchy, but instead of having a King or Queen as a central figure, it is an elected official called a President.

The United Kingdom is also not a Democracy. It is a Unitary State (also known as a Non-federal Government). In this system a central government that distributes power to lower regional local Councils, Mayors and Assemblies, but the central government always maintains central control.
In the UK's case it is also a Constitutional Monarchy where power is shared on a constitutional level between the Monarchy and the Government.

A Democracy is a type of government where the majority opinion of 'the people' choose how they all should live.

I have been looking at this because I realised today that most companies have either Monarchy or Communist styles of management. Companies are far smaller than Countries so this is why bad forms of management doesn't have such a noticeable effect on the company as it would a country. Plus people are happy to work for bad management while they are being paid and while they can't find anything better.

Knowing this I question how companies are run and wonder if there is a new management model that could be created from looking at how countries are run.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Legal Lunacy

Google is trying to index every book they can get their hands on and offer it up for search. Lawrence Lessig has put together an excellent presentation on the legal problems that Google is facing and how IP legislation is stifling innovation.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Classified Online Courses

Just been doing some research for my Information Security Management report and I found an online course that is Classified SECRET, but yet has it's Cource Overview online!

Funny Animal Crossing Blog

It's nice that people are starting blogging so young now. Neo_Kitty has had her Animal Crossing Blog for a few months now and she is only 12.

This thing is pure comedy gold.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Doesn't Work

So I finally got around to testing my prototype and there is something wrong when it trys to setup the voice options. I don't know what is wrong. There is something wrong because it doesn't work (maybe something to do with the event handler). Fixed an interface bug with the save button, but I need to work on other stuff right now.

I need to make a game with my prototype that shows off it's capabilities and at the mo the best I can comeup with is a derelict ship that needs to be fixed by completing puzzles etc. It's been done before, but I need something a little more scalable and rich than the standard Interactive Fiction cave exploration games.

"You are standing in a cave at the foot of an infinite staircase, there is a lamp at your feet."

Saturday, February 11, 2006

More On The PS3

Kikizo has A Hands On Writeup on the PS3, written from what they have seen and learned from inside a few development houses. It's an OK read, but most of the developers sound like they are still trying to get their games up and running. Still after reading that article yesterday that excessed concerns over the PS3's loading times I was surprised to read this:
we're programming the game as if it will be written for a 10-speed DVD drive. Anything less would affect load time.
I though Sony would have learned a valuable lesson after the PSP where developers thought the UMD disks would have the same access times as DVD and didn't.

News Catchup

Thought that I had better catchup on some news and there has been some interesting stuff come-up recently.

  • There are some Achievements Microsoft doesn't want people to have

  • Portable Planet has released some Screens for a PSP Nintendogs Clone, but without the touchscreen and microphone it is more like a Dogz clone.

  • There is an article Here that suggests the PS3 will do very badly and the article's key point is:
    Until now, it's been widely assumed that the Blu-ray drive that will make it's way into the PS3 will be single-speed. If true, this choice could be disastrous. Blue-ray single speed transfers data at a constant rate of 36Mbps (Megabits per second) or 4.5 MBps (Megabytes per second). Sound impressive? Think again. DVD single speed is rated at a little over 1.32MBps max. A 12X DVD, such as the one in the Xbox 360, transfers data at rates between 8.2 and 16.5 MBps for an average of around 13MBps. This article from Gamespot provides all the details on transfer speeds, but simple math should show that there are some serious concerns looming with a single speed Blu-Ray drive. So, all things being equal, a 20 second load-time on the Xbox 360 would equate to just under 60 seconds on the PS3!
    So if the PS3 has a x1 speed Blue-Ray drive the load times will be very bad indeed. And that might explain why all the current PS3 game screens have had terrible textures (no I am not counting MGS4).

Work Frustrations

I just had one of those moments where I knew that staying up working any longer would be a mistake when I tried to create a stick guy that looks like he is climbing up stairs:

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

The downstairs guy looks fine, but this one is a pain. As much as I have learned to like POVRay I still get frustrated with only being able to work with X,Y and Z cordinates.

Friday, February 10, 2006


Still not tried my Prototype, got in today for my weekly meeting and my supervisor is off ill (a few of the lecturers have been doing the vomiting thing recently). So having spent the rest of my time trying to get a package delivery company simulation running I just want to go bed now. The package company needs fixing as they are loosing 60% of their business to their rivals through taking too long to confirm packages.

Lots of work to do, no sorry GODLIKE amount of work to do. I could work solid for weeks and still not get everything done. If I am not doing assignments, I am making revision notes or reading case studies and catching up on lectures.

I'am a little bit concerned with my final year project as it is weeks behind, but looking great. I think that means I should reassess my expectations, but I have so much other work on I am finding it difficult to get concerned about because after everything else is in I will still have time to work on that.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

It's Done! (I think)

I think I have finished the prototype for my final year project, I don't know because I don't want to wake my Dad up testing it. And since I have an early start the first time this will probably work will be infront of my supervisor. I have checked the code and i don't see any problems, but it could crash or behave wrongly of-course.

The problem now is that after next week I have an assignment deadline each week for three weeks. So time on my project is going to be limited. I have started on all those assignments, but they are all about half way done and need attention before they are ready to be handed in. Not that I am looking for high marks or anything, but they need finishing.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The CD Key Search

Places I have found the CDKey
Back of the CD case
Front of the CD case
Inside cover
Inside the inside cover
Back of the manual
Front of the manual
Just inside the manual
On a special CDKey card
Underneath the CD on a sticker

Places I have not found the CDKey
On the CD itself
On the spine of the CD case
On the registry card
On any promotional material
On the outside of the box

I have only had one occasion where I had to phone tech support and ask. Turned out that I probably wasn't given one so the guy gave me one over the phone.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Danish Embassy in Beirut Torched

The Danish Embassy in Beirut has been burned. Nobody was hurt in the building because the embassy staff moved out a few days ago and all the other companies in the same building did so too yesterday, but this is a senseless attack.

So some paper prints a satirical cartoon of Muhammad with a bomb shaped hat. It was a stab at the view that all Muslims are extremists and turn to violence to solve their problems.

When the cartoon was published what should have happened was that the Muslim community boycott the paper in protest and send in angry letters asking for an apology. This would ave gotten results and if they didn't feel this was enough they could have gone further and organised a march or petitioned the government. As it is however there are thousands of angry Muslims torching buildings in Beirut that haven't seen the cartoon for themselves and are simply enforcing the satirical view taken by the cartoon. These people are demonizing themselves in the eyes of the world and don't even seem to realise.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Game Sells XBox360 Games For 99p

Apparently Game will sell you a brand new XBox360 game for 99p if you trade in two XBox360s games in good condition.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

A Very Cold Day

It was a very cold day today, but on the way to uni as I turned down a road leading there I seen a guy lying by the side of the pavement and parked up next to him on the road was a yellow council truck (one of those ones that goes around trimming hedges, collecting litter from parks etc). On this particular road I have seen strange things before like an old guy wearing a hospital gown, slippers and jacket walking in a dazed state in the direction coming from the hospital. He even had a hospital wristband on, but I didn't know wither to ask him if he was ok or not because he might have just been going for a walk, but today I didn't expect to see anybody lying on the pavement with it being such a cold day.

I wondered why he was lying there and if he was alright. A few people walked past him, not even taking any interest just keeping to themselves. As I walked to wards him I wondered if I should see if he was alright. When I got closer I could see he was a homeless guy, no socks, lying on his left side in a slightly huddled position facing away from the road, but lying very still. I asked the driver of the council truck parked next to him if the guy was alright and he just looked at me and nodded slowly. Looking back at the guy I realised that the he was lying very still. Some scratches on him so he might have been in a fight, but it was a very cold day indeed today.