Friday, August 29, 2003

Mr Shit? Meet Mr. Fan.

No further comment necessary.

Shadows Of Undrentide

I'm temporarily vacating Vice City for the snow clad terrains of Hilltop, so that I can play the Neverwinter Nights add-on pack, Shadows Of Undrentide. As usual, I've got a couple of characters on the go at the moment, a Neutral Evil Rogue/Assassin and a Chaotic Evil Fighter (essentially a Blackguard in training), plus a Chaotic Good Bard (a Harper Scout in training), basically so I can piss about with all the new prestige classes.

My Rogue/Assassin is the furthest into the game, about halfway through the Interlude between Chapter 1 and Chapter 2, and so far, it's been pretty good, if not completely captivating. The main attraction of the add-on is obviously the new Feats and Character Classes that have been incorporated into the game, particularly the new Assassin and Blackguard classes, finally giving you a real incentive to play as an evil character. Unfortunately, the prestige classes are set up so that you can't take them immediately, so you can only really make use of them in the Interlude and Chapter 2 (the latter of which I haven't reached yet), so I can't really say at this point just how good they are.

Whilst the roleplaying aspect of the game seems to have improved, with a few more alignment specific conversation trees and more vocal henchmen, I'm less enamoured with the actual characterisation. Dwarves speaking with dodgy Sean Connery impression? The henchmen are pretty annoying. Xanos is the worst of the three - he's a condescending, ingratiating, arrogant prick. He doesn't even have a good reason to be arrogant - he's fucking useless in combat. Dorna is just plain boring, and Deekin is a Kobold. A KOBOLD!

Admittedly, this makes Deekin the most interesting of the three, but I can't quite bring myself to take him as a henchman quite yet. Perhaps for my Bard character. I was quite disappointed that you couldn't take Mischa (the girlie Paladin) along as your henchman instead. A naive, idealistic Paladin would be quite fun to drag along on your adventures, I think. (i.e. she's prettier than the others. Shallow, moi?)

I think I'll definitely finish it at least once (which is more than I can say for the original NWN campaign), as 20 hours isn't quite as daunting a task to complete as a 40-60 hour campaign. Besides, I have to see whenever Tycho on Penny Arcade was right about the latter parts of Chapter 2 of the add-on being of outstanding quality. But then, he liked MOO3, which by all accounts is a pile of putrifying faeces. We'll see. I don't have much to do this weekend, so I should have a few hours to devote to it.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Daddy or chips?

I'm sure you've seen the advert - where the girl is trying to choose - I'm in a similar quandary. Blog or State? I really need to write a new editorial, but I'm struggling to find something to write about, whereas writing for my Blog is easy. So here I am.

As you will know from my entries prior to my trip to Portugal, I'm learning Java at the moment, and I've finally got my hands on a Java Development Kit. Not just any JDK, but the WebSphere Application Developer's Kit (which is known colloquially within the IBM community via the gamer friendly acronym WSAD), and it's all rather flash. As I'm getting further into this Java course, it's getting much more complicated, but not overwhelmingly so. I can certainly see the potential of it, and I really want to get my hands on some source code and have a play about with it, now that I have a Java compiler, because these online courses are crap - you never really learn anything until you can get your hands on some working code. (Whereupon you turn it into non-working code) I think I'll have to look for a Java book in PC World at lunchtime.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003



I was going to post about my holiday today - but there's been a change of plan. i.e. I forgot to bring in the disk with all my holiday photos on it, so I could FTP them to my webspace. So here's a picture of my videogames collection instead.

Of course, this isn't my complete collection - this is just the stuff I have that's in DVD boxes. There's another 30 or so games sitting under my desk in a CD rack. (And my Vice City box is sat onto of my tower case, because it comes out to play so frequently.) But you get the idea. When I look closely at this picture, it's slightly depressing just how few of these games I've actually completed. Particularly considering just how many hours I've sank into them. Actually, scratch that. It's depressing how many of these games I've barely touched. There's at least a dozen titles in that box who've only been played for an hour or two each. I really need to get back to them more.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Get back to work!

I'm posting to my blog again, so that must mean I'm back at work. And I have three PCs sitting on my desk - my laptop, my desktop and my *new* desktop - to which I'm frantically transferring files and shortcuts to from my old desktop.

You go away for three weeks, and you finally get some new dev kit. What's more is that they're not half bad, either - P4 2.4GHz machines with 256MB of DDR RAM, which is a hell of a step up from the frankly archaic kit (P233-MMX with 96MB of RAM) we've been developing with for the last 3 years (which was old even then). It's nice to be able to use Word without having to wait for 30 seconds to get a keystroke to register, and not before time, either. Shame I'm only going to be around for another 5 weeks to enjoy using it, especially when we had the budget to get them and I drew up the necessary spec we needed last December. Such are the joys of working for a lumbering gargantuan company like IBM.

I've spent most of the day ploughing through my e-mail - only 86 in three weeks - and 20 of those were from Snowmail, and about a dozen of them were administrator warnings for being near to (and eventually over) my mail file size limit. Likewise with my Hotmail - loads of spam, but only a single e-mail out of 22 being of any interest at all.

After 3 weeks on holiday, I was understandably reticient about coming to work this morning, though thankfully, things have been rather slow, and getting this lovely new dev kit up and running, as well as sorting out my admin, e-mail and assorted IBM housekeeping tasks has eased me back in gently. I've only had to answer one phone call all day, and I got some good news; my Professions Case for IT Specialist entry has been approved, which should hopefully mean a pay rise. Though I'm not sure who I'm going to hammer for it yet, as my Line Manager is moving into another role, meaning that I'm going to have my fourth manager in less than two years. Hopefully this one might give me some training.

Christ, it's like a PC graveyard in my office at the moment. My little bank of 3 desks has EIGHT PC's sitting on it at the moment, and there's another SEVEN sitting on the filing cabinets behind me. Of those 15 PC's, only 3 are of a specification (2GHz+) that would be deemed reasonable for doing development work on. Still, despite all the debris cluttering up the desks around me, it's nice to have some decent kit to work on. I might have to start arranging a few after-hours Unreal Tournament sessions.

Oh well, that's a work update. I'll post about the holiday tomorrow.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Heads up!

Well, I'm back. And I've got so much to tell you about. The holiday in Porto was fantastic. I'll be posting photos later, when I can FTP them to some webspace. Only I can't be bothered right now. I've got to catch up with State first (which at least appears to have posted some content on the site whilst I was away). And I've got to arrange to have the Thrawnmobile taken in to the garage because I got a letter telling me it might have dodgy airbags.

More later.

Friday, August 01, 2003


Mad Iain

is a Giant Robot that lives beneath New York, can Fly, is Blind, kidnaps Blonde Women, swallows Aeroplanes Whole, and has a Long, Prehensile Tongue.

Strength: 9 Agility: 6 Intelligence: 7

To see if your Giant Battle Monster can
defeat Mad Iain, enter your name and choose an attack:

fights Mad Iain using

Today will probably be my last update for about 3 weeks, as I'm sodding off to Portugal for a fortnight to get skin cancer get some sun.

It's been an unusually quite week this week. Since we've not got much work on, and since I'm on holiday as of 5pm tonight, I haven't been given much to do, so I've actually had the time to do a little downloadable training. I'm doing a Java course at the moment, desperately trying to increase my skill set, but these download courses are no real substitute for real hands on training. I really ought to lay my grubby mitts on a Java compiler, though trying to find one a server with a nice fat pipe to download from is proving troublesome. The Sun JDK on their official site will only download at 2k a second, which would take about 10 hours, and I'm on a 16Mbps connection! Fucking useless.

Java seems like a fairly simple language, though I've not got so far in yet to the point where I'm writing applets or anything. Regardless, it seems like a fairly decent skill to have so I might finish the course off over my holiday, after I get back from Porto. That's if I'll have time between doing a little DIY and a lot of catchup gaming.

As usual, I'm dividing my gaming time up between quite a few things at the moment. I'm still enjoying Vice City - as I've got to the point where I can buy property now, and I'm taking my time to buy up all the businesses and do all the optional missions. I'm also replaying Neverwinter Nights again, and I dug out my old Fighter-Rogue, and I'm finally into Chapter Three. The Single Player campaign isn't fantastic, but it's pretty absorbing, and I'm still enjoying gawping at the engine. I'm determined to actually getting around to finishing it this time, since I've just bought the expansion pack, Shadows of Unpronounceablyridiculous.

I also installed the CivIII GOTYE demo last night. I did have this when it came out, but after I installed my GF4 Ti4600, it wouldn't work, no matter how much I patched it, so I gave my copy to one of Fleur's cousins. I played it for an hour or two, but it bloody crashed, just when things were starting to get interesting. I may pick it up again, if I can find it cheap enough, because Civ is one of my favourite games.

Oh well, I'd better get back to this enthralling Java course. See you in three weeks.