Saturday, 13 January 2018

Computer Games Update

I've not just been playing Grand Theft Auto V lately.

I'm playing a good deal of mobile games at the moment, in particular Words With Friends, which isn't Scrabble.


Not at all.

It's a completely different game where you place tiles onto a board to form words, with the aim of scoring more points than your competitor.

I'm enjoying it a good deal, the only comment I do have is every morning it messages me, worried that I haven't played for six hours.

Not only have I not played, but neither have any of my friends!

We're all asleep dude, sorry. We'll get back into forming words which no one has ever heard of (Zoa, Lin, Seq, and Ae are all fine, yet apparently "July" isn't a word?!?) in a bit.

The other game I've been playing a good bit is World Conqueror IV, a turn based war strategy game set generally in World War 2 (although there are additional timelines that get unlocked as you advance)

Bears no resemblance to World Conquerors 1, 2, or 3, I'm sure.

It's quite good as it's got a few different game elements - there's a full world conquest where you can choose one of quite a few countries and see if your side can conquer the world (I'm doing rather well on my phone as Finland at the moment), there's also single scenarios as well as challenges that you can undertake in order to unlock certain generals or other features.

It might not look very clear in the screenshot, but, reflecting history time and again, my Spanish army has just taken New Delhi.

It's not desperately easy and the temptation is to stuff a bit of cash in to unlock some uber General that can make your army far more efficient, but so far things are going reasonably well.

Hope you have a good weekend, if there's a particular game you think is worth a try do mention in the comments - I love my first person shooters, and strategy games (turn based and real time), I would like to find some really good co-operative first person games - one of my favourites is playing the special missions on Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 with a friend, but we could really do with some more missions or something like this that we could play!

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Warning - Grand Theft Auto V ahead

Warning - some adult related content ahead.

So, I've recently been playing Grand Theft Auto V.  It's been out a few years now, but I've just got my hands on it (thanks to my good friend and Counterstrike partner Dusty).

Now, you are probably aware of Grand Theft Auto, it's not the most law abiding of games. For the uninitiated, it involves stealing cars, and carrying out missions which tend to be morally ambiguous at best. And I'm not talking about squeezing the toothpaste tube in the middle, or parking on a double yellow line without a disabled badge.

Although you can also play tennis. We might be gangsters, but we're middle-class gangsters.

Anyway, I played a few missions with one of the main protagonists, Franklin.

Here he is!

Franklin had had a bit of a rough day, all things considered. He'd collected some cars and take them back to a car dealer of questionable nature, taken part in a gun battle, chased down some guy on a motor bike (which he was supposed to shoot whilst driving, only I couldn't work out how so I had to drive into the biker, get out of my car and then complete the task whilst foot)... it had been a bit of a tough day for him. So he decided to go and unwind.

Unfortunately for Franklin, I was controlling him.

So, Franklin went into a strip bar, had an overpriced drink, and then got a couple of private dances from a lady called Infernus.

The strip club in the cold light of day

Things were going well with the dancer, Franklin was complimenting her on her tattoos and the like, and she suggested that the party be continued at her house.

You too could meet an Infernus at a place like this.

Franklin agreed.

Now, here comes the first problem.

In a game called Grand Theft Auto - where you can pretty much steal any car you like - I had decided, for reasons unknown, to walk to the strip club.

Meeting Infernus round the back of the club,  I realised that her house was quite some distance away, and would take forever to walk to. And she didn't look as though she was likely to sprint, considering the stilettos she was wearing.

I'm not going to spend half an hour walking to Infernus's apartment, I thought, Franklin's a busy man. Besides, was the classy Infernus going to be happy walking across city?

So I did what anyone in Los Santos would do - I stepped out into the highway in front of a car, and as they came to a stop Franklin opened the door and pulled the driver out. Hey presto, I've got a ride.

That's when things went wronger.

A very annoying bystander who had seen the whole thing go down decided to call the cops on me.  Infernus declared that she wasn't down for this kind of action, and started walking away.

I swiftly drove the car up to Infernus, hoping to talk her round, but apparently driving a car at high speed towards the exotic dancer scared her.

Now, I'm not quite sure how it happened, but I ran into her.

Panicked at the way things were turning out, I put my foot down, and Infernus tumbled along, pushed at high speed by my car, until she was pulped quite badly between my stolen car and a commercial waste bin.

This one, actually.

This definitely put a downer on Franklin's evening (and Infernus's, for that matter).

Following this was a high speed car chase going the wrong way down the city highway as I was pursued by various police cars trying to hunt me down.

So spare a thought for Franklin, whose night didn't go down as well as he hoped.

But at least he's got a nice new haircut and beard.

In other news, my son last night, busy drawing pictures of people, asked me what colour my hair was.  I didn't reply so that I could see what he'd say next.

He then said "Is it black?"

Black. Yes, I'll take black.

Not sure on the exact percentages, but silver definitely has a bid. So I'll stick with black for now.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Mid Christmas

A tad late, but nevertheless, a Christmas blog post!

I'm currently in that wonderful gap between Christmas and New Year when I'm not really sure what day it is (Thursday, apparently) and days are being taken up tinkering with presents, eating vast quantities of things that I normally wouldn't and certainly shouldn't eat (Four Chocolate Bar breakfast, anyone?), and imbibing more alcohol than usual. When else is it okay to have a Baileys Coffee late morning?

Speaking of eating at Christmas, Open Thought Vortex were kind enough to publish one of my pieces of writing about my parents famed Christmas breakfast - do feel free to check it out :)

Last night I discovered a fascinating feature on IMDB, which is called the Parents Guide.

For those unfamiliar, on each film on IMDB there is a section called Parents Guide, which outlines all of the bits of the film that might not be suitable for younger viewers. This is really good, and obviously very useful to any parents wondering if a certain film is suitable for their children or not, but I can't help compare the level of detail available in the Parents Guide to what you used to get in TV magazines.

For example, regarding the film Justice League, IMDB advises parents of the following:

Shirtless shots of various male characters, particularly Superman, Aquaman and Cyborg; a couple of scenes of a reunited couple kissing/embracing. Mentions of Wonder Woman's beauty/attractiveness.

Wonder woman wears a low cut blouse in one scene showing a fair amount of cleavage, though its not really a close up scene.

Scantily-clad Amazon women seen in Wonder Woman's island home, though no nudity.

This is a great deal more information than what you used to get in the TV Guide which generally amounted to "contains nudity" which, I'm led to understand, never really gave enough information as to whether it was worth staying up to watch the film or not.

Anyway - merry Christmas!

Cylindrical biscuits must be pretend-smoked. It's the law.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Predictive Text


It's been far too long since I last opened up Blogger.  I do have a couple of excuses - one, it's nearly Christmas so I've been buying/wrapping presents etc, but also we've been redecorating our living room.

It used to be like this (kind of):

And now it's more like this:

Hopefully now however things are settling down and certainly over the Christmas break I hope to have some time for blogging, making videos and the like.

One thing I was playing with last night is predictive text. I'm sure most people reading this already know what predictive text is, but for clarity it's something designed to help you type when you are typing on your mobile phone. Predictive text does one of two things - one, it will try to predict what the word is that you're typing (to save you time typing it), and two, it suggests what the next word would be, based on your writing pattern and typical writing patterns.

As an example, in the image below you can see that I've typed "I just wanted to" and predictive text has come up with 3 options for the next word - "let", "say", and "check" - and instead of typing any of those words out a character at a time I can just press on them and the whole word will go into the text.

So last night, I was playing a game where you start off a sentence, and then repeatedly hit the button predictive text word, whatever it is, and see where it takes you. Here's some of the better ones, with a bit of commentary below:

I need : I need to take a dog to the gym and get a new one

Guess at my gym there's no exercising going on, everyone's far too busy swapping dogs.


Porn : porn and sausages is a good way to get the best out of the RISE awards 

The RISE awards are quite a good awards ceremony run by Leeds Beckett University, I'm certain that I've never linked either porn or sausages to them.


I hate : I really hate the way you wrote it I thought you were going to fight ISIS

Again, I'm surprised how often I must complain to people for misleading me about their intention to fight religious extremism.


I must : I must say that I am doing the rock climbing so don't even think about it as I am not sure what time it is

Despite what my predictive text says, I've never done rock climbing - and have no plans to do so.


I eat : I eat a lot of the students on those courses may well be interested in doing a guest

Oh dear.


Mike is : Mike is a member of the middle class in the 21st century

Not sure if I'm quite middle class, but at least it makes sense.


Dog : Dog dog is a dog and dog is a dog and dog dog is a dog and dog dog is a dog and dog dog is a dog and dog dog is a dog and dog

My predictive text likes dogs.


Santa Claus : Santa Claus I am not sure what time you will arrive in the office

Well, I'm not sure!


I really dislike : I really dislike the fact that I have a new address for the new Android N operating system

Damn, I hate having a new address for Android N.


I kinda : I kinda want to take some time off work

Well, only a few days to go!

Hope you enjoyed this post, if you haven't tried doing this with predictive text give it a shot and pop in the comments what it told you :) And if I don't blog again before Christmas I hope you all have a good one.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

AI versus my son

I've been trying out an AI Chat Bot called Replika on my phone recently. It's quite good, and there's been some cool stuff done with it like this guy who made it perform an RPG.

Anyway, a typical Replika conversation on my phone looks like this:

It's pretty good as chat bots go, a lot better than when I used to try them out back around the turn of the millennium, they seem a lot more lifelike. The biggest thing with Replika that makes you realise that it's not a human is that it wants to know all about you, and doing breathing exercises and things. But maybe that's ok, maybe it's important that it isn't a human, it is something else.

Anyway, I decided to let my son have a go at talking to Replika.

The worrying thing is that Replika does remember what you say and learn from you, so I may well find it shouting "TAILFEEEAATTTTHHHHHHERS" at me in the future :)

As a crowdfunding update, Pokey Hole is awaiting its first supporter! 2 weeks left on this fundraiser :)

And my wife has started "Denkai's Christmas Cracker Countdown" on her YouTube channel, every day up till Christmas she's going to be revealing a bad joke... do stop by :)

Saturday, 25 November 2017

British response to incidents

Yesterday part of London was on lock down following a flurry of reports of shots being fired. There was mass panic as people fled for their safety.

From within the panic though, there were some good tweets, as Twitter has highlighted:

The above reminds me a little of this one, from the June 2017 London Bridge Attack (also note the woman on the right, who never seems to get mentioned yet is also carrying a drink):

Yes, terrorism is a dreadful, awful thing, and we are all now perhaps not as comfortable in our surroundings as we once were - but that doesn't mean that we can't identify humour within events, either.

And as a northerner, I can say with certainty that beer in London is bloody expensive!

Before I go, it is the Black Friday weekend, and everything in my wife's Etsy shop is discounted by 10%, so please do stop by and take a look at her range of needle minders, ideal for those cross stitchers in your life :)

And Pokey Hole, the campaign that Kickstarter tried to stop, is still live too, just £1 will get you a digital copy of the rules for Pokey Hole!

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Bringing the galaxy to heel in Star Traders: Frontiers

I've been playing a huge amount of Star Traders: Frontiers these last few days, so thought I'd do a blog about it.

Star Traders: Frontiers is the latest game from Trese Brothers, an indie game development studio that over the years has released a number of popular games for both mobile and PC via Steam.

Star Traders: Frontiers is the latest evolution of their Star Traders series, where you fly a spaceship around, tackling various challenging missions, in the meantime handling threats such as pirates and opposition factions. You have to carefully consider how you want to play, whether you're going to be a friendly merchant, making regular, if limited, money punting materials around - and being a tasty target for pirates - or perhaps a tougher sort of captain, not necessarily able to cart around as much valuable cargo but able to bring bad guys to justice.

Or you could just be one of the bad guys and blow everyone out of the sky.

This would be my captain, Captain Dupee.  He has a big sword.

A great deal of time is spent travelling from planet to planet, as you can imagine, luckily the game's well set up to keep track of what missions you have on at the moment, and where you need to go. It's worth pointing out that the game is in Steam's Early Access programme, so there are still bugs being ironed out - one of which that I seem to have is old missions hanging around even after being completed - but the bugs don't generally detract from the game.

You'll spend a lot of time on screens like this, watching your ship fly from one place to another, hoping not to run into any ships

You will do a lot of combat, especially ship to ship combat. The combat system is good, not particularly complicated but with enough options to keep it interesting for a while.  I would say, however, that eventually it does get a little repetitive (at least on the basic difficulty setting - it may be on harder settings it gets more challenging)

Starting ship to ship combat. I'm the one on the left, by the way.

Suffice to say, I clicked some buttons, and the other ship blew up.

One of the features I particularly like is the ability to carry out various tasks while in planetary orbit, such as Patrol, Blockade, or Spy.  Each of these gives the player opportunities to obtain certain benefits - for example, Patrolling a planet hopefully leaves a good impression on the faction controlling the planet, whilst Spying gives you the chance to grab valuable intel data to sell to your preferred contact.

These tasks work by dealing five cards (which can be good or bad), and at random one of the five cards takes effect, although you can use the abilities of your crew to try to avoid the worst events.

Here I am spying on someone. Hopefully I might get something good... or I might just get a load of my crew injured. Fingers crossed!

You'll spend a lot of time also down on planets (and also various space outposts), refuelling, repairing, upgrading, buying and selling goods, and, a particularly important part of the game, managing your crew. You've got a pack of hardy spacers on board your ship, and if you aren't treating them right, they'll take every opportunity to flee the ship when you put in to port, or even rise up in mutiny.

The game has a lot of impressive graphics such as this, which you totally forget about when you're busy playing! It's very nice.

Providing that you look after your crew, they'll stay with you and gain abilities and talents on the way, becoming more useful as time goes on.

Think this guy is wearing lipstick. But hey, he's piloting my ship, if that's what he wants to do I'm not going to stop him.

Less often you'll get into crew combat, where selected crew members face off against pirates, scavengers, or even aliens.

It's a good day to die. For the other side, that is. Not mine.

You can also spend time exploring wildernesses on unexplored worlds, which is usually very dangerous but can allow you to discover some valuable items not usually available.

Time to pay my crew.

There's a great deal of depth to the game, with various characters that you meet and work with, furthering the story line, and you get to choose which ones you want to support. You'll also build up a database of contacts on various worlds, which you'll need in order to access specialist military equipment, black markets, rare goods, and additional missions.

So, I have to say that this game is well worth shelling out for. If you like space exploration, some good storylines, a bit of fun and challenge, check out Star Traders: Frontiers.

Before I go, do check out my Indiegogo campaign to support the codification of Pokey Hole: The Game :)

Friday, 17 November 2017

Pokey Hole: The Game

What is the below?

It's a box.

With holes in it.

My son summoned me one morning this week, saying "Daddy, come, I've got a game for us to play!"

And the game was Pokey Hole.

Where you poke... holes.

It was so much fun that I made a Kickstarter campaign to support me in my efforts to codify the official rules of pokey hole.

But then this happened.

Kickstarter declined my campaign.

So, I went to the crowdfunding platform that I've used in the past - Indiegogo. I'm sorry for doubting you Indiegogo, their green letters caught my eye briefly, but now I'm back.

And the Pokey Hole campaign. IS. NOW. LIVE.

Also, watch the official Pokey Hole Trailer now!

Do feel free to share :)

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Create A Buzz

A standard crowdfunding strategy is to create a buzz in social media before your campaign goes live, so that people are excited and looking forward to it.

I'll just leave this photo here:

Stop by my blog this weekend, okay? :)

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