Zero Punctuation reviewed Torchlight yesterday! Of course he was both inaccurate (you don’t have to keep clicking at all, you can hold the button down) and overly harsh, but still very funny. It’s odd to enjoy watching something you had a hand in (albeit in a background technology way in my case) being ripped to shreds, but when it’s done in such an amusing way somehow it’s ok. I guess this is why Yahtzee hasn’t had his teeth kicked in by disgruntled game developers yet 😀
I’m far from being a gamerscwh0rewho mines every game for every last Achievment, but nevertheless they’re fun to get. I like the ones that encourage you to do something memorable rather than the rather less imaginative “complete game on difficulty X” or “scour the world to find all of item X”. Having picked up a number of games for Christmas I’ve had something of a boost recently, but last night while playing Assassin’s Creed II(which is a vast improvement on the original which had great atmosphere and free running mechanics but was riddled with tedious repetition and hence I never finished it) I completely accidentally landed on precisely 10,000 gamer points at the end of the night:
Although many popular films and TV shows don’t seem to use the convention of using roman numeralsin their copyright statements anymore, the BBChas, as far as I’m aware, always consistently used them. It used to be kind of fun to see who could figure out the roman numerals first, although my wife was always better at it. For anything made since 2000 (MM) of course, it’s become a bit boring, since you only need to know how to count to 10.
My friend Damien was bloggingabout his early experiences with computers & programming yesterday, and it reminded me of how I got started. Specifically, it reminded me of an influential magazine I read at the time called “Input”, which taught BASIC programming for the ZX Spectrum and BBC. It was a short-lived, esoteric British thing, but I was astonished to find that not only does Wikipedia have a page on it, but they also linked a TV advert of it which has been lovingly archived on YouTube:
I hope everyone had a good Christmas, I certainly did. I received a number of new games, which was good (will blog about them individually at a later juncture), but I also encountered something I haven’t done before - Evil Red DVD Tag Syndrome. For those who, like me, haven’t encountered these before, some shops in the last couple of years have been adding red theft-prevention strips to some DVD cases.
I really enjoyed the original Professor Layton, and was glad to get the sequel (Professor Layton and Pandora’s Box- for some cultural reason ‘Diabolical Box’ on the web site, I assume internationally some people haven’t heard of Pandora’s Box) from a friend as an early Christmas present. So far it seems like more of the same “puzzles embedded in slightly hokey but nonetheless enjoyable story, set in a whimsical Victorian era”, which is precisely what fans of the original (which includes me) wanted.
[Edit 20th Dec] We did it! Rage Against The Machine is number 1 for Christmas, proper music fans in Britain give Simon Cowell and his manufactured karaoke bullsh*t the finger. Very, very happy!! Best Christmas number 1 that I can ever remember. I detest reality TV with a passion. I think it’s low-brow, cheap nonsense that bare-facedly celebrates the very worst elements of human nature; promoting the idea that being famous (for anything) is somehow a laudable goal in itself, and indulging the public’s cathartic desire for a feeling of superiority and power over others via venomous gossip and voting people off.
I’m a fan of Tim Schafer. Quite apart from the fact that his Wikipedia page shows him lovingly holding a jar of Marmite (good man), he’s been a writer/designer/coder on some of the funniest, quirkiest games in history: Monkey Island 1 & 2, Day of the Tentacle, Grim Fandango and Psychonauts. How can you not love this guy? It’s a terrible tragedy that Psychonauts didn’t sell better - sure its platforming was a little ropey at times and the game was padded out in places with uninspiring sections, but buried within this game were some of the most original, funny and bizarre ideas ever to grace the medium.
Making a living from open source is hard. Correction - making a living from writing open source software is hard - it’s incredibly easy to make a living from someone else’s open source software of course, which is why that’s what most people do 😀At one time the popular opinion was that pure-play open source companies could make a living from support services, which works to a degree but I know from both my own experience and from that of others that it doesn’t work that well.
Gartnerhaven’t exactly been the sharpest tools in the box when it comes to predicting open source trends over the last few years, vastly underestimating it until about 2008, by which time it didn’t exactly take a professional analyst to tell you that it was popular. Still, now they’ve woken up to its potential, occasionally they post something useful. In particular, I liked a recent blog post about how open source is “trending towards customer obscurity”- that is to say that while open source is incredibly important to producers of software, the vast majority of consumers don’t really care how their software is made any more than they care how their car was made.