I’d been tipped off about this possibility a while ago, but couldn’t say anything until now - Runic Games are now OGRE users and have been beavering away on their new game ‘Torchlight’, announced this week: In case you didn’t know already, Runic formed from the ashes of Flagship Studios, and includes members of the team that worked on Diablo and Diablo 2; games which I personally enjoyed but which my brother in law almost worshipped - he still plays the second one now.
In a past working life, I used Oracle a fair amount - I used Oracle 7 through 10, and they were pretty decent products. The lineup was pretty simple back then - Oracle was the gruff, stoic mercenary who didn’t talk much and cost a fortune, but had it where it counted - if you could get him to do what you wanted; SQL Server was the approachable and gregarious rogue who was a jack of all trades and came fairly cheap, but had a habit of disappearing into the shadows or asking for more money at more sticky moments; and MySQL was the happy-go-lucky bard who was just along for the ride, happy to work for free so long as it was all just a jape and no-one asked him to do any real work.
I picked up on the Gamasutra article about B-games thanks to Penny Arcade, and I found the debate fascinating. I’m a regular casual consumer of B-movies myself, thanks to the fact that the Sci-Fi channel shows them almost constantly, and their ability to amuse is seemingly inexhaustable. I also like the fact that you really don’t need to watch the whole of a B-movie to get something out of it, or even see the beginning or the end; you can have fun just trying to figure out the (usually awful) plot by just watching a 30-minute slot - in fact this is part of the entertainment.
I don’t play competitive multiplayer games very much, because I just don’t have the dedication to hone my skills to even the median average of the online pack, at least beyond about week 2 of a game’s release, but one thing that’s constantly annoying when I do is people who disconnect because they’re losing. Given that I don’t win online very much, I don’t encounter this that often, but on the few occasions where I’m getting the upper hand, there’s nothing more annoying than having people quit out on you mid-game.
For those who don’t follow these things, the new, free Left 4 Dead DLC drops next week, which does 2 things - it enables ‘Versus’ mode on the 2 maps where it wasn’t available before, and it adds a new gameplay mode called ‘Survival’, which is basically about holing the survivors up in one area of the map and throwing zombies at them relentlessly, with leaderboard scoring for the teams that survive the longest.
I enjoyed reading this post at l2admin, celebrating some of the big names in open source development. Of course, we can all argue about names which didn’t make this particular list (personally I think Larry Wall and Guido van Rossum are just two of the important omissions), but what strikes me most - well, except that Mark Shuttleworth is younger than me, which is slightly dispiriting - is how globally representative the list is.
Remakes and comebacks are always in vogue, but unfortunately they almost always disappoint. Whether it’s that a brand new take on an idea just doesn’t quite work as well, or whether it’s an original team getting back together after a decade or more apart and the spark has gone, too often there just seems to be something wrong or missing. I suggest that this tendency should be called ‘George Lucas Syndrome’, in homage of he who epitomised how far you can fall from the heady heights of bygone triumphs.
My office has finally been christened as a legitimate workplace - I now have a photocopier 😀 Well, of sorts - it’s actually one of those All-in-one devices, which I finally decided to buy because I was fed up of laboriously scanning multi-page contracts / licenses on a flatbed. I went with a HP Officejet J6410 - it was cheap, got some very good reviews, and I’ve generally been happy with other HPs over the years.
Laptops are great, of course, whether you’re travelling or just enjoying the flexibility of having a PC wherever you want in the house at any one time, instead of closeted in a fixed location. But if there’s one dimension in which they suck (barring upgradability - but then modern laptops are pretty nippy these days), it’s ergonomics. Laptops are excluded from the design standards that regular PCs have to adhere to, simply because it’s hard for them to comply within the form factor we expect.
I hate DST (or as we call it, British Summer Time). What a daft idea - let’s make our population endure 2 1-hour ‘jetlag’ incidents every year, complicating scheduling between time zones and screwing with people’s sleeping patterns - I saw a bunch of friends last night and at least 50% of us were tired (and undoubtedly were sub-optimal workers that day) because we’d been forced to get up an hour earlier than we were used to - something that seems pretty common and does have a cost.