Category Archives: Fun

Life in Tyria: Big changes are a-coming, starting with traits…

In mid-April Arenanet are releasing their first ever feature only update (I was away for so long I hadn’t realised that they were releasing feature changes along with living story updates) and it’s looking like it’s like it’s going to be huge!

There is a post from Arenanet all about the first changes which are going to overhaul the whole traits system but I really liked the video from Wooden Potatoes which explains in a lot more depth why this is important and how game play might change. I’m looking forward to it but if you are playing GW2, what do you think?


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Posted by on 21 March, 2014 in Fun, Games, Guild Wars 2


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A funny thing happened to me after writing about the funny thing that happened to me on the way to the camp yesterday…

With a title like that you just know this post is going to be a doozy, right? Well buckle in because I have a loooot of humble pie to eat. Oh, and spoilers ahead so you’ve been warned.

After having a right old pop at the final Scarlet Briar fight in Guild Wars 2, I was listening to the rather excellent Guild Wars Reporter podcast (part of the always excellent MMO Reporter podcast family) and heard the two presenters talking about a ‘secret backdoor’ to the final fight. My ears pricked up. It seems that there is a special teleporter that you can enter only if you are wearing the backpack you have to make with pieces found during the LA invasion event. Once you enter it you are taken to the very final instance bypassing the messy zerg-fest fight with the holograms. The instance is single player only and the same for everyone regardless of their route to it so it means that even if, like me, you were struggling to even get to the hologram fight let alone past it there is a route to the end that is totally do-able and gives you the same ending as everyone else. I bloody love this idea! Nice one Arenanet!

I built the basic backpack (cosmetically the best version in my opinion, the more advanced versions have the ugly leg/wing things that I hate) in the mystic forge using the help and guidance of the guild. We fought and I killed her in a pretty easy fashion, which I liked as the battles with the Champions and Knights in LA had been testing enough, and I was rewarded with a very cool cut scene of the next dragon waking up.

And then I was back in  LA with a new tag and a warm sense of closure. As an after thought I decided to tackle another Knight nearby for one last zergy fun fight and see if it dropped any sweet loot. Only thing is that when we killed the bugger all three attunement circles opened and before I knew what I was doing I was in the hologram fight again only this time we won and I was back in the very same easy finishing fight with Scarlet! After complaining I couldn’t do it I managed to do it twice on the run! And I done it twice again today! The hologram fight is actually quite easy, well, not easy but not as complicated as I first thought and a whole heap more fun.

So the lesson here is don’t blog in a bad mood. Somehow I don’t think this is a lesson I’m going to learn in a hurry ;D

Oh, no update on the RP guild yet. I’ll have to contact them. Expect an update. Maybe in character :-D


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A funny thing happened to me on the way to the camp…

As I’ve mentioned I’ve restarted my Guild Wars 2 game playing and although I’m enjoying it I’m still left with that weird, empty feeling afterwards. There are several reasons for this, not all of which I can adequately express despite several hours in the last few days of quite serious introspection. What it boils down to seems to be a feeling of disconnection from the game brought about by an unsatisfactory social play model and the inability of the game to tailor an experience for me to lose myself in. I feel it is only fair to say this is not unique to GW2 for me but so far all MMOs such as LOTRO, Star Trek and even Second Life have shared this exact same issue. I plan to write more on this but I’m still trying to organise my thoughts and feelings into a coherent body that I can lay out for inspection but before I do I just wanted to share with you an experience from last night that made my soul sing with the sweet possibility of a solution.

I logged into GW2 and rezzed where I had left off, in Lion’s Arch in the second phase of the invasion storyline. It’s fun but unless you are with a zerg you are screwed. The previous night I reached near the end and fought the Prime Hologram that is somewhere just before the final fight with Scarlet Briar but we (the zerg) fluffed it and poof! I was back on Terra Firma with no more clue of how I got there than I did of how I got into the hologram fight or what the bloody hell I was doing for 99% of it. I was, it’s fair to say, despondent. My time is limited and to find myself so close to the end, whether by accident or design, and then plopped right back at the start felt like a total waste of my evening. Worse, it made me want to give up on the content because I could see no hope of ever getting to the end of it again. I left Lion’s Arch and headed for the old refugee camps to see if I could trade in the guff I had uncovered from the city (in itself another sticky point as I was unable to get an achievement in time due to being a solo player and now I’m stuck with a permanent 80% record despite my best efforts – argh!) only to find the bloody vendors have now gone!

I was, as you can imagine, more than a little hacked off. What is the point in playing if I can’t take part in any but the most trivial of content? Why carry on at all if all I can ever hope to be is a dull foot soldier lobbing in grenades from the side-lines and never getting to the end of the battle? What, I wondered, was the point of playing the game at all?

It was at this point I noticed some players walking. In MMOs this is unheard of except for role-players. I stopped dead, realising I’d just run directly into one of them and our bodies were now clipped together. If this was an RPer then this is just the sort of thoughtless action that would piss them off and I quickly disengaged and backed off. Sure enough the group, which all sported the same guild tag, began to talk to each other. Out loud. Without using LOLZ. Jesus! they *were* RPers! I set my guy to walking speed, found a seat by the camp fire and sat right down to watch.


The story began to unfold in front of me, each player using a mixture of IC & OOC chat to drive the tale on. After a while I began to join in and rather than getting a private message to butt out they actually let me join in. It was all very tentative, me wondering if I was going to fut my size nines in it and they no doubt wondering if I was about to take the piss or do something to ruin their carefully nurtured sense of immersion. Neither party was, I think I’m justified in saying, disappointed in the behaviour of the other – I tried my best to fit in and not be a cock whilst they certainly didn’t come over as elitist jerks and they were very welcoming. In fact so much so that I ended up asking if I could join their guild. I have no idea what came over me but I just decided that nothing ventured nothing gained – the logical outcome of me not asking would be the removal of the game from my machine in a few weeks so I asked. And they said yes! Well, a qualified yes. I will have to have an interview with them to see if I fit in, but that’s fair enough. If we both like each other then maybe this is the start of a new renaissance* on my gaming. Maybe, after all I have tried this before in SL but never found an RP community I really liked. Maybe in Tyria I will. I’m willing to try if they are :)




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What a Burro’s playing – March 2014 update

It’s been a few months since I last wrote one of these posts but the last couple of weeks have seen a surprising change in my gaming that has awoken an old worry of mine that I’m going to poke at again and see if I can’t answer it once and for all in my next post (spoilers: I don’t think I can).

Right now:

Guild Wars 2: As amazing as it seems, I’ve become slightly, but only slightly, addicted to this again. I only really got into it after I agreed to download it again for my son who, like me, has grown a little bored of nothing but Minecraft to play. True I have also had Left 4 Dead, but that’s a little on the mature side for him so I re-installed GW2 and watched him play for a bit and suddenly I felt the old familiar urge to run about brutally solving the often minor issues of total strangers for pretty much worthless rewards and BANG! I was hooked again. This re-start coincidentally happened to coincide with the total destruction of Lion’s Arch and man alive was that fun! True it’s a zerg-fest but I don’t mind zerging too much – at least I can hide my incompetence in the crowd :-D


MCPE: Update 0.8.0 was great! Minecarts were added along with some nice farming changes & graphical updates and the whole thing felt brilliantly fresh and fun again. I had a blast in Termite Canyon and really only stopped because I played the arse out of it. I’m waiting for 0.9,0 which will, if the tweets coming out of Mojang are right, be another great update that adds even more fun. We are while off Realms yet I think and that’s a shame because that’s exactly what I’d need to make this my ‘go to’ game again

Pioneer Spacesim: In my desperation to play Elite Dangerous I downloaded this free Elite Frontier mod and tried it out with my new Hotas X flight stick & throttle. The results were, to say the least, underwhelming and I shan’t be playing it again. Ever.

Left 4 Dead 2: Ahhhhh, what can I say about this game that I haven’t already said. It’s just amazing fun. I’m not as good as I was 5 years ago when I could do the levels on Expert (with the right team, of course) but I can hold my own in Advanced even with a basic PUG. Cold Stream is still a bloody nightmare though ;-D


Second Life: Nope. I didn’t even make it back for the memorial of my mate Os. I thought I would but missed it and then found, whilst sad I missed seeing Sal, Ilia, Enjah, Holo, Mari, Tak and my other friends that I was relived I didn’t have to struggle with the experience of logging in, lagging out and seeing nothing but grey blocks. Lately (by which I mean the last couple of days or so) I have found myself missing this world a little but I don’t think it’s been enough of a pull to tempt me back. Not yet, anyway.

LOTRO: It must be the GW2 effect but I’ve been missing this world too. Not enough to actually go back into the nasty grind-fest that it is, but still missing it a little. Maybe one day someone will make a less grindy, more explorable Middle Earth and then I can finally be the Gondorian explorer I’ve always wanted to be.

Survivalcraft: Christ no! No way! The last few updates have moved further and further away from fun game play and more into the realms of boring twaddle. There is now a bow you have to load each time to fire by dragging an arrow from your inventory to the bow. This is a game with limited inventory space, non-stacking arrows and a ranged combat system that is, in a word, shit. My life is too short too waste it on non-fun things. 

Borderlands 2: This is a strange one. I just stopped. Don’t really know why. I just stopped and I don’t think I even noticed. I do that a lot with long story driven games. Thief (all of them). Walking Dead. LA Noire. Never finished any of them. What a waste.

Ingress: Nah, I’ve totally lost the plot here. I’m not a social gamer and you reallllly need to be for this to work. Oh, and I need the app space too much :)

Carmageddon: Not even the boy is playing this one now – it’s ok but just limited.


Elite Dangerous: Still the big dawg on the horizon, I’m looking forward to this more and more with each Alpha update I watch on youtube. It just looks amazing! The flight is smooth, the combat challenging, the visuals drop dead gorgeous. Oh man this is the game I want right now! This is the game I’d turn the shed into a cockpit for and end up on the local news in the “And finally…” humorous nutjob section.

What are you playing right now? let me know in the comments below.


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Elite Dangerous: And the obsession begins…

It’s been a slow build up, but I’m now officially knee-deep in an obsessive relationship with Elite: Dangerous.

I don’t know if I’ve written about this before, but I have a repeating pattern when it come to games that stretches all the way back to the first computer games I played in the 80s. I become obsessed by them. Not by playing them, you understand, although that does come later on for some games, but rather by the anticipation of playing them. Once I fall for the premiss of a game I can’t get it out of my head. Every waking moment is governed by thoughts of it, dreams become haunted by it, conversations hijacked by it, family & friends bored with it.

Now in the dim and distant past I had to work hard to desperately try and sate this ultimately insatiable beast but, as with many things, the internet has made this so much easier, providing me with podcasts, previews, developer dairies, youtube footage and even, if I’m really desperate, forums (shudder). And, dear reader, it is in precisely this state you now find me in relation to Frontier Developments upcoming release of the much anticipated Elite 4, or Elite Dangerous (I still hate that bloody name! It’s meaningless! Elite Forever would have been far better, or Elite Eternal, but not Elite Dangerous!).

Ever since they released the Capital Shop Battle video I knew the beast inside was going to rise again but it really wasn’t until I caught up on the podcasts and youtube videos covering the first Alpha release that I felt it wake up and sharpen its claws – thank Cthulhu I didn’t do this until after the Xmas and New Year break otherwise the good lady Antfarm would have divorced me!

So, here I am, eating, sleeping, dreaming ED and do you know what? I bloody love it! If only the games I become obsessed about could live up to and match the perfect image I create for them. Most don’t but I have a sneaky feeling that ED may come the closest so far :-D


Posted by on 4 February, 2014 in Elite, Fun, Games


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MCPE & SC: A Tale of Two (well, Three) Updates

It’s been a bumper week for fans of mobile block world games as the Behemoth that is Minecraft Pocket Edition released its much anticipated 0.8.0 update whilst Kaalus dropped both his 1.23 & 1.24 updates for Survivalcraft. On the surface both had certain similarities, but despite all the work and effort that has gone into these updates I find myself only playing one of the games. Let me explain…

Minecraft 0.8.0 saw the addition of big ticket items such as minecarts and rails meaning that, at long last, there was a reason to mine redstone because without it you couldn’t make the powered rails that make MC’s minecarts so much fun. This alone would have been a huge deal in an update, but 0.8.0 is crammed with other additions as Mojang slowly move the mobile version of their game further down the road to parity with their desktop or console versions. True this will take some time, not just for them to do but for mobile platforms to become truly powerful enough, but they have a roadmap and they are doing their best to stick to it.

Minecarts aside, Mojang also pulled some cool tricks out of the bag. They added breedable animals meaning that overnight farming became a serious option in the game rather than the luck-of-the-spawn it had been before. They added new crops too (pumpkins, potatoes, carrots & beetroot to be precise) further enhancing the farming options, but they didn’t stop there. They upped the draw distance to allow you to see pretty much all of the world as long as you have a powerful enough device, my 1st Gen Nexus 7  struggles a little with the maximum setting but runs smooth one notch down and the difference is wonderful – the horrible fog has gone!

Meanwhile, over in Survicvalcraft, Kaalus managed to squeeze two updates out in the time it took Mojang to release 0.8.0, but boy did he pack a heap in! A massive revamp of the electricity system, a huge draw distance upgrade (the maximum setting of which does not make my N7 stutter at all), lots of new animals, and a new weapon, namely the bow.

But I said at the start of this post that I was only playing one of these games, so which? You can stop holding your breath now, it’s MCPE. The Survivalcraft updates have left me cold since about 1.20 and the latest one is no different. 1.24 adds yet more bloody animals and a weapon that’s simply not fun to use. This is my biggest problem with Survivalcraft now, each update simply adds more of the same and the same is always po-faced and dull. I don’t want a bow I have to load manually and then practice like crazy to use effectively, I want a shotgun with string! I don’t want a tiger to add to the same landscapes as the lion, wolves, bears, coyotes, and whatever else Kaalus can model and shove in, I want pigs that pop babies out when fed!

Y’see, complain as we might about Mojang’s release schedule whilst sat the same time heaping praise upon Kaalus for popping something out every six weeks, the simple fact is Mojang give us fun stuff whilst Kaalus gives us the gaming equivalent of a 2am Open University programme on TV; worthy but dull.

In the week that 0.8.0 has been out for MCPE I have built three farms, two more monster-zones and retro-fitted a minecart system to my main deep mine shaft. In roughly the same time in Survivalcraft I have watched the bow work on youtube and decided not to play it again. Hell, I haven’t even downloaded the latest patch and that is a baaaaad sign for any game.

It pains me to say it, it honestly does, but what I thought might happen is now occurring; Mojang are finally making their game more like the PC version and giving players what they want, all the fun of MC on their phones and tablets. In doing so, MCPE will always bee seen as the leader of the block world pack and games like SC will be niche attractions, well-done and clever, but niche all the same.


Posted by on 19 December, 2013 in Fun, Games, MCPE, Minecraft, Survival Craft


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Strolling through Sword & Sworcery… I seem to have woken a demon…

I journeyed through the giant Head Of Sal…


Where I accidentally released a demon…


And am being hunted by a monstrous wolf-beast…


Oh bugger.

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Posted by on 1 September, 2013 in Fun, Games


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Elite Dangerous: What a Burro wants from the next Elite game, part three…

At my gaming heart I’m an explorer, but a lazy explorer. If you say to me “Here’s the whole universe to explore!” I will think this is a good thing. If you then also add that to do this exploring I will have to spend a long time flying through boring black space and along the way there will only be a slim chance I will witness anything more exciting than a nice sunrise over a gas giant then I’m going to suddenly be much less inclined to explore. That kind of exploration has all the hallmarks of grinding and we all know by now how I feel about bloody grinding, don’t we.

Now in the many fan eulogies of Elite & Frontier I have heard how people would just set off to cross the galaxy or to find generation ships and asteroid hermits and whilst these have all sounded like great fun as a concept, the execution did not. Mostly they are tales of people wasting hours just going nowhere or, more accurately, finding nothing except more procedurally generated empty black space and that is, frankly, a dull waste of my time as I said here.

I don’t want Elite Dangerous (*name shudder*) to be like that. I want to explore it and I want it to want me to explore it. How can Frontier Developments do that? Well I think a little like this…

  1. Put lots of exciting things to find and see in there. Exploding stars, old space battle wrecks, glorious nebula, dou ble ice rings that we can fly through and any number of other marvels that can be generated on the fly. I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating – I want ED to grant me the chance to see the sort of cosmic wonders & interstellar events that I will never, ever get to see for real.
  2. Put achievements in there. At one time I hated them but Guild Wars 2 showed me the light. They are fun and give just the right boost of energy to a flagging desire to explore. I want to collect all the super novas, lost ships and forgotten miners in the game so I can paint the achievement badge decal on my cockpit dash :)
  3. Another lesson to learnt from GW2 is that of Dynamic Events. In somewhere as big and empty as space there needs to be some stuff happening for me not to nod off at the joystick and I want to see a DE engine built in to keep even the deepest of deep space explorations interesting. Imagine an old hulk you find that explodes out with pirates or hidden military forces! What about the deep-black sci-ship that will be sucked into a black hole unless you refuel the engines? The possibilities are endless!
  4. A last lesson they could take from GW2 is that of jumping puzzles. In GW2 these have always been a real marmite issue but well handled by Arenanet so that the people who hate them don’t have to do them whilst those that love them have turned them into an almost e-sport within the game. I’d like to see this happen in ED but instead of jumping, I’d like to see flight skills such as slingshoting, aero-braking & maybe even warp-skipping employed to reach an otherwise unobtainable location.

This is only a flavour of what it will take to keep me exploring and I have no idea if the Devs are considering anything like it, but if they are not and they just expect people to fly off for three hours of pretty screensaver time then I know that I’ll be bitterly disappointed.


Posted by on 1 August, 2013 in Elite, Fun, Games


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Elite Dangerous: What a Burro wants from the next Elite game, part two…

In my last post I talked about how I wanted to see an Earth-centric universe in Elite Dangerous and I was really pleased to hear I will be getting just that when the game is released in early 2014. If you pop over to the official YT channel, this fourth fiction diary video mentions it just at over six minutes in and to know that the Federation HQ is on Mars is just amazing. All in all, I’m pretty sure I’m going to be a Fed now :)

And my desire to play a Fed leads me nicely on to my next ‘what I want to see in the game’ post. Realistic humans, that’s what. What do I mean be that? Well, simple really. Too often in sci-fi the humans are abstracted to the point where they are pretty much aliens. Their motivations, actions and reactions are so far removed, usually due to the nature of evolving societies and advancing technology, as to bear little resemblance to what I recognise as human. At that point I lose interest in them because I can no longer connect to them and unlike fantasy I read sci-fi precisely to connect to a concept of own potential future.

So when it comes to the humans in Elite Dangerous I want them to be more like us with the same drives and fears, the same desires and goals but I still want them to be more exotic. I want them to be transhuman, altered by tech and by genetic engineering, but fundamentally still human at their core.

Both The Federation & the Alliance sound like my kind of people. a union of utilitarian capitalists on one hand and a loose collective of trading partners on the other – these are people I can understand. But then you come to the Imperials well then those fellas suddenly start looking more like aliens than they do humans, but given that there are only three intelligent races in Elite one of which is humans, another is extinct and the third may not be in the game at release, it makes sense to have something of the ‘other’ in the mix.

Still, no matter how cool Imperial ships are, there is no way I’m handling slaves so it’s the Fed for me :)


Posted by on 17 July, 2013 in Elite, Fun, Games


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Adventures in Ingress: Hitting level 6…


Snapping up portals around King’s Cross I hit level 6. I tell you what, portals swap hands quickly on the city! No wonder you can burn through levels in a place like London.

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Posted by on 15 July, 2013 in Fun, Games, Google, ingress


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