Not strictly accurate on a couple of points (you can't really predict what Salmond would do if we achieved Independence, for instance) but nevertheless a triumph of common sense over shrieking hysteria.
Not strictly accurate on a couple of points (you can't really predict what Salmond would do if we achieved Independence, for instance) but nevertheless a triumph of common sense over shrieking hysteria.
It has always been an idea that I’ve wanted to explore further, an idea that I wanted us all to explore further, an idea that in recent years only grew more and more attractive when contrasted against the naked corruption being displayed by the London-centric Westminster government. But two days ago I felt something move within me, a solid acceptance of this as my own personal battle to wage, in my private war towards greater individual freedom and respect for all humankind.
Independence for Scotland is Important. Not just for the Scots but for all peoples who want greater freedom, greater self-determination, and greater ability to live their lives as best they can and to care for those they love. If we Scots can do it, if we can show the world that it works, then everyone else has an example to look up to. That, I think, is what the forces of pernicious, controlling orthodoxy are perhaps most fearful of.
Westminster is completely corrupt. We see this expressed in our newspapers on an almost daily basis. During the expenses scandal, for instance, Westminster MPs not only were found out to have been systematically abusing public money to line their own pockets but were angered that they should be forced to pay recompense. Most of them couldn't even see they'd done anything wrong. When we do it, it's called fraud or even theft. When they do it, it's called perks of the job.
Westminster cares nothing for the people of Scotland beyond having their grubby paws on our oil revenues. Alex Salmond, SNP leader and current First Minister of Scotland, only got into power because voters sick of voting for the two-party status quo that never represented them suddenly swung their votes to the only choice that might, the only real choice for real change. Over the last decade we've been slowly giving up on a government, and a two-party duopoly, that rarely sees beyond the needs of industry, the rich, or those living within reasonable commute of London’s M25 orbital motorway.
A growing number of Scots see the problem clearly: our voices are not being heard; Our needs are being subsumed beneath the needs of the United Kingdom in most instances; the Union isn’t working in our favour, and hasn’t done for a very long time. Therefore we might be better off if we governed ourselves.
We're sick and tired of the tactics used by Westminster and their devotees to keep us mired in and accepting of the status quo: bullying, intimidation and an endless, infinite, never-ending, ad-nauseum, rinse-and-repeat diet of Lies, Lies, and more Lies, usually expressing one imaginary fear after another. It happens at every election and it's happening full force now that Independence is a genuine option being offered to Scotland's people.
I, for one, refuse to tolerate it any longer and dedicate this next year to fighting the lies and helping the debate wherever I can. It's time we broke free of these vampiric chains and spent the rest of the 21st century building a society that cares for and values its people, not wondering when Westminster will drop the next shoe on our heads. It's time we were governed by people who hold OUR values, not by people who merely pay us lip service as they harvest our votes and strip us of everything we hold dear. It's time we took a stand and proclaimed to the entire world that we've had enough of being the unequal partner in a political marriage that has long since stopped caring about us, that we are a proud and sovereign nation of individuals that want to hold our heads up high, meet the needs of our people, and help make a positive contribution to our world and the rest of our human brothers and sisters.
That's what's at stake here. That's why this is important. That's why on September 18th 2014 I'll be voting YES to an Independent Scotland.
Firing it up, I watched in delight as my beloved G1 cast presented themselves in a short and unintentionally hilarious introductory video just dripping with animated movie reference (The key to any long-time TransFan's heart)(see video below). The menu screen was in Japanese but somehow I managed to find my way to the options and set them to Engrish. But then - *gasp* - problems!
One Shall Stand, One Shall Fall about laughing!
The game seems to have difficulty switching from its various cut-scene videos back to the actual graphics renderer. Instead it likes to fade to black then stop, leaving me listening to some odd guitar-rawk made by someone who had heard plenty of 80s stuff but wasn't quite up to the task of replicating it. This might be the fault of the emulator, admittedly. The workaround, when I eventually found it several reboots later, was to press Start as soon as the cut-scenes started, by-passing them altogether. This might sound like a shame but I'll tell you why it really isn't in a few paragraph's time. First...well let's just continue, eh?
And then I was in the game! Oh wow, look! It's the cartoon series come to digital life! Dirge! Sideswipe! Bluestreak! Ironhide! All my beloved G1 characters represented by some show-accurate 3D modelling! Sadly, however, all the magic accrued from Emulator and Internet promptly dissolved like magnesium in water as it swiftly became apparent how utterly awful the gameplay was. "Get excited about this would, you? Haha!" *Thwack!* Whoever let this game out in this condition should be taken out and put to many many slow and deeply humiliating deaths. When is a game not a game? When it's Transformers Tataki.
The designers were clearly aiming for a 3D wandering beat-em up. You are dropped into a small, shockingly bare arena (walls, ground, a suggestion of sky...) with two back up characters on your team and three or more opponents. Then begins the ancient fight for dominance, Autobot/Cybertron vs Decepticon/Destron, where your skill, cunning and tenacity are put to the ultimate challenge as you wage the ceaseless war against your bitter enemies. Or at least that's the idea: in execution....not so much.
Your character reacts so slowly to button presses that you wonder if you're actually doing anything at all. Meanwhile, your opponents all make a bee-line for you and start hammering at you with wild abandon. This is unfortunate because each time you get hit your character reacts with a small recoil animation, the absolute bitch of which is that while your avatar is reacting to the hit you, the player, are blocked from making your character respond. So what the "fights" boil down to is you desperately button-mashing as you attempt to find the precise nanosecond during the blizzard of incoming blows where not only are you free to act but you have, with your supernatural instincts, timed the treacle-y controls to actually do so! BEYOND frustrating. I'd also like to note that the game makes no attempt to teach you any moves either, unceremoniously dropping you into combat and leaving you to it.
The second of Tataki's gut-punches to the childhood comes from the rubbish voice-acting. While not as atrociously bad as I'd first written here (due to my rampant indignation) it is still disappointing, and often downright baffling.
My third complaint is that Transforming, an ability inherent to a race of beings called Transformers, is but a combat boost, having no purpose other than to provide a flashy way to hit an opponent. It certainly isn't useful for travel; Not only are the vehicle speeds nightmarishly slow (oddly, a problem shared by both of the recent, and far superior, Transformers 'Cybertron' games by developers High Moon) but there's really nowhere interesting to travel to. No game yet has managed to get this essential ability completely right but in Tataki it seems as if the developers didn't even bother to try, shoe-horning it into a game design it clearly wasn't meant for.
Sheer 80s Joy, trapped within Noughties-published Agony.
I couldn't have been more crushed if you'd promised me I'd be uploaded into a real Transformers body but put me into a My Little Pony instead, destined forever to eat oats, shout "yaaaaay" and have my glistering pink hair brushed. Transformers Tataki is the only modern effort I have ever seen to transfer the original cartoon into a working game format. Despite the horror it does so many things right. The characters all look fantastic. You can apparently collect a huge roster of show-accurate characters, many of them fan-favourites (Galvatron!). Many of these are even playable (correction: "playable"). This is the dream, folks. This is what we TransFans would literally kill for. The cartoon in digital format, with us as the star. It's just a shame - no, a blistering tragedy - that the execution in this instance is so resolutely piss-poor, that only a masochist with an especially strong sense of self-loathing would persist with it. The only reasonable response to Tataki is that of having been abused by a game publisher who, for whatever reason, decided that this pile of steaming shovelware was a worthy testament to a brand that in 2003, the time of Tataki's release into the world, was approaching its 20th anniversary year.
I'm off to sob into something for an hour or two. See you next time.
As of tomorrow I will have joined the Clever-Phone generation (the order just went through after an entire hour screaming at BT Openzone WiFi to STOP BEING SUCH AN ARSE), consigning my shockingly antiquated old Nokia 6303 to the status of 'cheap, undesirable PAYG device solely for taking out on pub crawls'. It's time I had pocket-sized 24/7 internet access, a decent camera, proper mapping and navigation abilities (ideal for learning a new city)...and some phallus-waving bragging points for those all-important pub conversations won't go amiss either. I reckon the Samsung Galaxy S3 will tick all those boxes with applomb. What colour? Oh, have a guess.
A Samsung Galaxy S3, yesterday
It does mean, however, that I'll likely be getting another phone number. Apologies for the minor inconvenience/momentary irritation this will cause the five or six people that were reluctantly given my last one.
Two Samsung Galaxy S3s jus' chillin' in White Space, three days ago
I so very nearly bought an iPhone. I've been staring hungrily at my girlfriend's sweet little phone for months now - but Techradar told me not to be so silly because the next one (version 5) is almost here and the last one is still very highly priced for what you get compared to the rest of the market, e.g: in Samsung's latest baby.
I will explore the Galaxy one day, mark my words...
In some ways I'm quite conservative where technology is concerned. I'm a proponent of the 'Good Enough' school of owning devices. I count myself as among the last individuals in the Western World to have upgraded to Blu-Ray, for instance. If a device does the job I need it to do, why burden yourself with extra features you'll never use? However, with my new flat not having any phone or internet until the end of this month and me getting lost in this new city of mine more often than I can count I've decided that I have needs from a portable device that my current phone just can't satisfy. The interesting question now is: if I have a portable device that gives me 24/7 internet and I seem to have cut right back on PC Gaming, to the point where I've only bought ONE single solitary title in 2012 so far, then what, exactly, is the point of buying a big bulky desktop solution like my beloved Zoe? Does this mean the end of my purchasing static, energy hungry, desk-bound PC systems?
A Japanese Man from the Future visits our time to show us his phone
If you'd told me a year ago that not only would I be playing board games as an enthusiast of the form but actively collecting them I'd have laughed very very hard. In fact I'd probably still be laughing now, a whole 12 months later, as if I'd decided to breathe nitrous oxide instead of oxygen. The very idea! No, no, PC games were my meat and potatoes, thank you very much, you utter Nerd. I'd played with board games in my youth, dabbled with the more complex Games Workshop variety in my teens but had quickly shunned the D20s and brobdingagian rulebooks in favour of immersing myself in purely digital landscapes. No having to find adequate table/floor space. No fiddly parts and pieces. None of that tedious social interaction, particularly the arguing and endless debates over rules and dice throws. No, just give me a purring PC and I'd be perfectly happy at my monitor for as long as you cared to leave me there.
Then in 2011 something a bit odd happened. I helped form a Writing Group! Even odder: it worked! Write Club swiftly ballooned into an all-encompassing social monster that threatened to grow arms, legs, tentacles, fibrous facial formations...soon we were having film nights, geek nights, geek film nights, and, of course, the obligatory boozing sessions. And so it was that roughly four or five months into this delightful social merry-go-round that one of Write Club's newer members proposed an entirely different kind of meeting. A meeting to play a board game!
He did well, did young Master Gregory. His choice of board game was tailor-made to appeal to many of our members, delving as it did into the squamous, bubbling guts of the Cthulhu mythos. "Come and play Arkham Horror", he said, quite forgetting to veil the hideous insanity in his eyes. We fell upon that idea as if Cthulhu himself had subsumed our tiny, fragile human wills beneath its demonic, otherworldy essence (Translation: it was a popular idea. Lots of us turned out for it). Innsmouth! *shriek*
It happened on two occassions, both held within my humble abode, and it was impressive. Complicated as all heck, but that just introduced genuine awe into the precedings as we slack-jawed mental defectives watched poor Gregory running hundreds of rules through his head in order to help us all play our characters. It started out as Teaching but by the end, after watching us neck considerable amounts of tasty alcoholic beverages, he had collapsed into merely telling us drunken bums what to do in each instance, the poor sod. Sorry, Greg, for all the pissheads. We only played the game twice, losing dreadfully the first time but redeeming ourselves mightily on the second. After that, though, life moved away from cards, tokens and dice, as was only proper.
Cardboard Children happened next. A PC gaming website I had become addicted to, Rockpapershotgun, decided to do a wacky thing and devote some screen space to a weekly column about board games, reasoning somewhat recklessly that these were the proto-forms of the digital versions we were all slurping down as if life depended on it. I started to read Cardboard Children regularly, telling myself I was simply attracted by the genial, characterful nature of Robert Florence's writing but looking back I suppose a small persistent sliver of 'Arkham Horror' was growing in my head after all. And yet even at this point I maintained an easy distance. 'Board games are things that happen to other people', I told myself, in the happy, fireside tones of a man content with his lot, possibly cupping a brandy glass. Little did I know...
'Star Trek: Fleet Captains'. Four words that chang-ed everything (Community joke. Watch it now). Robert Florence wrote eloquently about it, passion and enthusiasm blazing across the screen at the speed of love: "This game is fucking incredible", he gushed, his vulgar non-Vulcan passion spilling over into colourful adjectives. Me? I wanted to climb into the screen, such was my excitement. 'Engage!" I cried, quite forgetting both myself and the near moribund state of Star Trek's 'prime' universe. "Warp factor nine, Ensign!". "Tea! Grey Earls! Cool cool cool!" I continued, becoming confused between Star Trek and the excellent recent series, Community, that you all should have watched so that it might have reached #sixseasonsandamovie.
My own passion for the ships of Star Trek was already firmly established. I had spent yeas tracking down every PC game that simulated the experience of letting me fly one (or a fleet of them), and then every mod for those games that promised more, and then every Star Trek mod for games that weren't even Star Trek related to begin with. Star Trek: Fleet Operations, a mod for the popular-in-2002 Real-Time Strategy (RTS), Star Trek: Armada 2, had been continually installed on every PC I ever owned and played at least once a week if not much more frequently. Star Trek: Fleet Captains, a mere paper and plastic board game, promised to let me fly these beautiful ships in the comfort of my livingroom!
I told my new, lovely and very geeky girlfriend of this game one happy morning, full of the spirit of awesome things. She had enjoyed many board games with an American friend and was keen to do more back in Blighty-ThistleGlens. I showed her Cardboard Children and the article devoted to it. She seemed to fall in love with it too. We talked excitedly about it then and on many occassions as the weeks passed. So much so, in fact, that I did a very soppy geeky thing and bought her the game as her very first Valentines present from me. Once she had stopped squealing delightedly...sorry, once we had stopped squealing delightedly we sat and played the game that evening, wrestling with the most badly written rulebook ever, while my shiny special 2-DVD edition of The Wrath of Khan screamed "KHAAAAAAAAN" in the background. Geek heaven? It certainly felt like it.
From that moment on we found any excuse to crack open that gorgeous box and empty its beautiful heroclix-style model ships and shiny card decks into our brains. I won only once out of the first six games, no matter if I played as Federation or Klingon, but BY GOD I enjoyed every nanosecond of the experience, as did my poor-winner, tactical genius girlfriend. This was it, wasn't it? Face to face interaction and making decisions with cards was surely the way of the future? We fell upon Cardoard Children like starving locusts, devouring every word, googling everything Rabbie Florence talked about, foaming slightly at the mouth each time. At Christmas he did a wonderful thing: a little rundown of his Best of 2011. A year in which many beyond-awesome board games had been released, he told us. ST:FC was listed, naturally, but only at number five in the runners-up category. Our tiny minds shattered: there were games more betterer than the game we thought of as Geek Heaven?! Foam foam foam ecstasy dribbling catatonia.
And that, dearest reader, is how we learned to love the bomb. From then on the passion spread through our friends and family like a cardboard plague. So many people expressed an interest in joining us, attracted by our ever-deepening enthusiasm, that we're now on the verge of setting up a regular weekly session and possibly even finding a local group to join. We discovered the venerable Boardgamegeek website and rampaged through its thousands of articles and forum posts, learning the state of the hobby past and present as well as the big titles to look out for. We bought board games at every opportunity; The tension-heavy, betrayal-happy Battlestar Galactica. The quick and fun, family friendly deck-building Dominion (+ Hinterlands expansion). The epic Kings-Bounty-PC-Game-In-A-Box, Mage Knight. The quick-but-deep space civilisation builder Race for the Galaxy (+3 expansions) . The delightfully quirky Discworld: Ankh-Morpork. We had crossed into a brave new world, forever lost to the charms of customised dice and tabletop adventurings. Google all the words in Bold type, peeps. Clicketh you the embedded hyperlinks. I promises you won't be regrettings it, precious.
They've made us laugh. They've made us cry. They've made us tea. Board games are AWESOME. If none of my carefully enunciated squeeeing noises above have convinced you then hold still while I crank up the pnuematic Word-hammer: BOARD GAMES ARE NOT JUST FOR KIDS THEY ARE FOR PEOPLE WHO ENJOY FUN AND FUN WITH OTHER PEOPLE PLAY ONE NAOOOOW!
Now that I have introductered you, look out for more board game squeee in future postings.
One: I'm away on holiday next week!
Two: Oh really? So you haven't given yourself agoraphobia after all? How long are you away for?
One: A whole fortnight! But don't worry. While I'm away I've asked my neighbour to pop across to feed my paranoia.
Two: Oh that's ni-what? Feed your paranoia?
One: Yes! You know the kind of thing; leave doors ajar, move some random items, make the bed look as if it's been slept in, put some new food items in the fridge, open one or two bits of mail...I like to worry about my home when I'm on holiday, as you know. Unfortunately for a full-time neurotic like me it's always a bit of a let-down coming back to find that everything's hunky-dory and you've been fretting your nails to stubs for absolutely nothing. This way I can pretend that the worrying is justified.
One: I know. Smart, isn't it?
"Fragganurgle" [Fra-gah-nur-gul], noun
1. The strangled sound of constipated, glottal rage emitted from the throat when you realise that an upcoming Doctor Who videogame that you were looking forward to is exclusive to Sony consoles/handhelds and won't be coming to either XBox or PC.
[From the game developer's website: emphasis added] "We are delighted to be working with the BBC on such an iconic TV property, and to continue to support Sony’s platforms exclusively by developing Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock as a high-quality PSN title for Playstation3 and for the launch of Sony’s new Vita handheld gaming device. The game is currently in development and set to launch in early 2012."
A glimpse of what we no longer have to look forward to any more
|November 2013January 2014|
Wings over Scotland NewsFeed
One from the archives
A tweet from SNP MSP Marco Biagi caught our eye yesterday: It’s a fun little morale-booster, especially when you note that the 2011 poll came just TWO months before the election, whereas there are still NINE months left to turn round the No camp’s steadily-shrinking lead on the refer ...
Ian Smart is a liar
So, this again: “The Party intellectual knows in which direction his memories must be altered; he therefore knows that he is playing tricks with reality; but by the exercise of doublethink he also satisfies himself that reality is not violated.” (George Orwell, “1984″) Bu ...
Luggage and lies
On 20 May 2012 this site ran a headline which read “BREAKING: Lockerbie bomber still alive”. That was of course the day it was announced that Abdelbaset al-Megrahi had died of prostate cancer. Even I did a double-take before the penny dropped. The attached story was a mere 17 words l ...
Victims of the bedroom tax
The under-occupancy penalty more commonly known as the bedroom tax is a policy whose roots lie in London. Rents in the UK capital are so extortionate that keeping a roof over the heads of the unemployed, low-paid, disabled and vulnerable has become a dreadful burden on the taxes of City bankers, ...
When you’re in a hurry
…and you haven’t got time to think of a misleading headline or laboriously rewrite a “Better Together” press release into something that might just about pass for actual news reporting if viewed fleetingly in poor lighting conditions, you can do nearly as good a job of di ...