Pondering Personal Patronage


It’s been a while since I’ve posted, ‘cos I’ve been really busy recently. Work’s been really busy – new clients, new staff, blah blah etcetera. I do have some big, thought-heavy posts brewing, but they could take a long time to percolate into the hot, strong deliciousness you’re used to. (Did I mention, I’ve started drinking coffee lately – mocha to be specific, still too wimpy for the real stuff.).

This is just going to be a quick post, as I’ve been having more thoughts about raising money. As I mentioned before in this post about charity/fundraising I’m really keen on the idea of having a smoothie bike event (cos ya know, making your own smoothies with the power of LEGS!!). The last fundraiser I did was for Cancer Research UK and The Little Princess Trust (when I chopped off all my hair and sent it for them to make wigs outta) to support my Gran when she lost her hair due to cancer & cancer treatment.

This time though, I’d like to support a charity which is important to me in a way which is less personal and emotional, and more relevant to my personality and interests and that kind of thing. There are a lot of worthy causes out there and choosing one has been tricky because I’d really love to donate time and money to loads of them

So, in an effort to combine smoothie bikes and my own interests and fund raising, I think I’m going to do something for Child’s Play. One of the niftiest things about the smoothie bikes is that they have a game system attached where you can compete with each other and stuff, so it ties in quite nicely.

The only thing that’s stopping me diving right in and organising this now is the associated cost – smoothie bikes and ingredients and venues and all that lot don’t come cheap. I’d need to hold a fund raiser for my fund raiser! So I thought I’d see if any of you geniuses have any ideas or suggestions as to how to do it without incurring too much of a cost (which I’d have to pay out of my own pocket as Child’s Play only accept 100% fund raisers).

Answers on a post card (or in a comment) please.

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I am a fool, also a cat.


On the 10th, I made a post ranting about November game releases. One of the games I talked about at length was Diablo 3. However, despite fact-checking pretty much everything else, I was so certain in my knowledge about the release date of the game that I didn’t look it up.

It turns out that this was a massive mistake and Diablo 3 isn’t actually going to be released until summer 2012, and will be in beta until then. Where I got the idea that it was going to come out yesterday, I haven’t got a clue, but I was wrong.

I’m sorry if the previous post caused any confusion, disappointment, or anything else. My boyfriend was certainly quite miffed, what with being a huge fan of the Diablo series.

As for Skyrim first impressions – oh gosh yes. Less of what was a bit hand-holdy and ‘let’s just put some fantasy tropes in a pretty land’ about Oblivion, more of the atmosphere and tension from Morrowind.

How many games must a man walk down?


Or something like that, anyway. If you have any sort of interest in video gaming or like to keep up with new releases in the industry, you’ll know that this week and the coming week are long anticipated for a lot of people.

For a start, we had Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 released on the 9th. Midnight launches and record-breaking sales suggest that November has had its biggest release already. However, Activision will certainly be facing some still competition tomorrow when the release of two games with huge and dedicated fan bases could challenge its new king of the gaming charts.

Diablo 3 Image

Eleven years ago, we saw the release of Diablo 2 for the PC. This game was one of the biggest names in the early 2000’s and continues to be popular with fans today. However, online multiplayer of Diablo 2 could see a decline soon as Blizzard releases Diablo 3, taking advantage of the 11/11/11 to release a game 11 years after its prequel. Some fans are upset at the online-only game play that Blizzard seems to favour (their other major title being MMO giant World of Warcraft). For some reason, Blizzard are surprised that not everyone’s happy with this.

However, even more startling about Diablo 3 is the ban Blizzard have placed on modding. For many people, myself included, part of the PC gaming experience is focused around mods. It’s quite possible that I would be a console gamer if not for The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind. I played everything in that game to death and when I was about to shelve it away as ‘done’, I discovered the modding community, and a true PC gamer was born. Mods more than tripled the play time available to me in Morrowind.

When you look a little deeper, though, you start to work out why modding is prohibited. Blizzard, in their infinite wisdom, have implemented an Auction House in the game, from which players will be able to buy items for their characters. Normal enough right? Nope, Blizzard have decided that they are going to be the pot and call the kettle black by making stuff for sale for real life money. In the past, Blizzard have spent huge amounts of resources trying to stop people on World of Warcraft exchanging real money (and other things) for in-game money, but it’s something they are implementing themselves in Diablo 3! Maybe they found out how lucrative the market was and decided they wanted their finger in that pie, too.

November the 18th sees the official release of Minecraft, though whether an official release date for a game which has already sold more than four million copies is necessary, I’m not sure. Minecraft started off at a very low price and was £7.99 when I bought my own copy, while it was still in its alpha stages. As time has gone on, the price of Minecraft has increased – now it’s £13.95, and it will be around twenty pounds on full release. So if you’re going to get it, do so now to avoid the price hike.

For me though, November has something else. As if those three huge-name titles weren’t already enough, November the 11th sees the release of a game that I have been anticipating for a very long time.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

Go on, guess the game.

My whole computer gaming career was cemented in place as I said previously, by The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind. I would spend hours shut in my bedroom, using the computer that my grandparents bought me for schoolwork, exploring the vast expanse of the island of Vvardenfall, wearing the faces of many different people, from noble knights to cunning thieves to maniacal magic-users and back again. Morrowind satisfied me for three years, until Bethesda released the PC-testing The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

As soon as I caught a whif of the system requirements, I knew that my tired HP machine just wouldn’t cut it. I made my own machine, designed to play Oblivion on it’s most hardcore graphics settings. I finished the machine after Oblivion had been out for about two weeks, The wait was agonising but worth it. At that point, it was more worth it than anything I’d ever experienced before, and that included sex.

Now, it’s five years later. My baby, the looming black and silver machine whirring away in the corner of my bedroom has served me well, a true testament to the phrase ‘you get what you pay for’. However, five years of heavy use will tire out even the best computer, and with the latest installment of a series that has defined my life since I was a teenager on the horizon, I knew what needed to be done. One of the last jobs of the Oblivion Machine was to order its own replacement. Now it’s cold and silent and sad, as I cavort with the younger, sexier model, the Skyrim Machine, delivered to me a couple of weeks ago.

I am restless with excitement. The fact that many people have been able to already pre-download Skyrim on Steam has served only to agitate me further. As much of a Steam fan as I am (I really do believe that it’s the ‘future of gaming’), I have pre-ordered my copy of Skyrim from Game for one simple reason. The versions of TES III & IV I got (the GotY edition and the Limited Edition) both came with posters showing the world map, as did the Shivering Isles expansion to Oblivion. There are two ways to get the Skyrim version of the poster map – getting the Limited Edition, which is sadly way out of my budget, being £129, or pre-ordering the game from either Game or Gamestation stores. So, in exchange for a small delay (I will have to wait until Game opens, and then walk home and install the game before I can play it instead of playing as soon as I wake up) I will get to continue my much-loved map collection. It’s not Elder Scrolls without a map blu-tacced to the wall.

He's watching you.

This wallpaper release had me all a-quiver earlier this year.

However, I’m not fifteen anymore. I’ve lived and loved since then and played a lot more video games too. My tastes have developed and changed and I’ve discovered that actually, maybe video games aren’t better than sex, after all.

The build up to Skyrim might have given me the same thrills and excitement as I experienced when Oblivion’s release date was creeping nearer, but will that first ‘New Game’ give me the same absolute astonishment? All PC games these days can acheive a level of graphic detail and scope that Oblivion had, so maybe Skyrim’s graphics won’t make me want to pinch myself, but will the rest of the game blow my socks off in the same way? Watch this space.

Sadly though, Skyrim has already become a part of the PC vs Consoles war. Bethesda has been lifted to power by fans of the Elder Scrolls series, and carried along by the PC modding community. However, there has already been the announcement that the first two pieces of extra content for Skyrim will be exclusive to the X-box for a month before us PC gamers or PS3 owners get our versions. the deal with Microsoft had better have been worth annoying such a huge portion of your customers, Bethesda! This is twice as infuriating when you learn that they have promised the DLC packs will be infrequent and substantial – there will be big parts of the internet that I will have to stay away from in order to avoid spoilers for the DLC for 30 days each time, if they are going to be big story-additions and extra content instead of things like the infamous horse armour add-on for Oblivion.

You might never find out just how much I enjoy Skyrim, though – I’ve already given Chris a warning that he shouldn’t expect me to be particularly sociable while I’m playing it. The chances of me finding the time to write about it are slim to none. I should have known I’d never manage NaNoWriMo.

The Art of Video Games


A couple of weeks ago, I was doing my usual of roaming around the internet, and I stumbled across this. As a more or less life long gamer who can remember playing a lot of the titles on the polls, this really did hit my interests.

I mentioned it to a couple of people, people I thought might be up for organizing something along the lines of a soujourn to the states next summer, to Washington DC, staying in a youth hostel and looking at this amazing sounding exhibition. A lot of my friends enjoy gaming, but there were only a few who I thought might be interested enough in the concept of games as art to spend the money on a trip to the USA.

Unfortunately, the main person I thought might be interested in going with me made arrangements to go with other people. Maybe I didn’t make myself clear enough that I wanted to go – maybe he thought I was just mentioning it to him because it would be relevent to his interests.

Whatever it may be, I’m now without someone to go with. Is anyone interested in planning that far ahead for a (potentially quite expensive) trip to America for a few days with me, to asuage my desire to see an art exhibition that includes Pac-Man as an exhibit? Get back to me and we can sort something out.

Stepping off the edge.


I’m sure a lot of you will have heard me ramble on about this before, but I want to start my own business. For a long time it’s what I’ve wanted to do. When I was younger I looked up to , my wonderful, hardworking and dedicated mother. She took a huge risk and picked up a failing business (a Newsagent in a small, seaside village), dusted it off and turned it into her livelihood for several years. The shop has been closed for a while now, the recession biting at the heels of a stumbling business, already trying to deal with other problems, such as competition and people.

Now, I don’t want to follow directly in her footsteps. I don’t want to become the proprietor of a newsagent or sweetshop in a village. I want to run my own successful internet cafe. It would be more than just an internet cafe – it would specialize in LAN gaming and online gaming. Ideally there’d be the opportunity for me to run Friday Night Magic there, too. But I don’t want a small, dark, grotty basement. I want a shop where non-gamers would also feel comfortable coming and browsing the internet with a cup of coffee for an hour.

My idea came from visiting Swansea one day when I was in 6th form and missing a train home. I needed something to do for two hours to kill time before the next train home, and so I went into Crossfire. They have 56 computers there, 15 for web browsing and 41 for gaming. They are all networked together and they all have super-fast broadband.

I want to spread this wonderful idea. I want to bring it to Lancaster. I can almost see it – casual internet cafe/coffee shop in the day, hardcore gaming lair in the night.

There is already somewhere in Lancaster that offers this service, but I’ll give anyone who can name the place and the location 50 points. They operate in a small, slightly underground and very unappealing premises. I went there last year so I could play WoW alongside someone (damn campus rooms having only one internet connection) and they told me that their computers weren’t equipped to deal with WoW and their internet connection couldn’t deal with it either. Competition, of a sorts, but I’m convinced I could do it better.

The main hurdle I have is money. Of course it is – so many people would do so much if money wasn’t a worry. Premises, utilities, equipment – it’s all expensive. Also, technical knowledge – I don’t know the first thing about computer networks. The thing is, this idea has been plaguing me for four years now. I can’t make it go away. I can hide it in a cupboard for a while, but eventually it’ll find the handle on the inside and be out there again, nagging and niggling at me. So much so, in fact, that I’ve bought a ‘Start your own business’ book, and am writing this LJ post for people to comment on my idea.

I want, maybe more than anything, to be in Lancaster with the people that I care about and love. I’m having doubts about university – I’ve already made two goes at it, why should the third be any more successful? I want to do something that interests me, that makes me feel like I’m giving a service to satisfied customers. I want to get to know my regular customers and I want to be in control of something Big. Something Important (to me at least).

At the moment, just musings and ideas, but ones that won’t go and sit on the shelf like obedient ideas – ones that really want playing with and exploring and testing. Stay tuned to hear more in the future.

ARGH!


http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2010/03/22/the-alan-titchmarsh-show-on-videogames/

Seriously. ARGH!

On another note, good evening tonight. Happy birthday, BlueSwirl 🙂