Hello, I'm Richard

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August 11, 2014

Into The Rift (DK2)

A weekend with the future we've been waiting for since 1991, more or less...

Of course, the cool stuff's what happens inside.

Of course, the cool stuff’s what happens inside.

So, I spent much of this weekend feeling awesomely sick in the most awesome of ways, playing with the new Oculus Rift DK2. It’s a little difficult to get the full measure of the kit right now, as most of the demos that you’ve probably seen over the last few months, from Valve’s Half-Life 2 conversion to assorted ways of getting Skyrim running in it, simply don’t work yet. The jump from DK1 to DK2 means recompiling for a new version of the SDK as well as some fairly hefty tweaks to do things properly, and many of the coolest games were using third-party injectors that haven’t been updated either. Yet. So, no Bioshock, no Team Fortress, none of that for a little while.

I’m really looking forward to digging into more, but I thought I’d give you some first impressions. In a nutshell, when Oculus says that they’re not ready, take them at their word. Despite what some will tell you, this kit isn’t yet good enough for a mainstream audience in a number of ways. It is however extremely cool, an awesome demo of modern VR technology, and a great preview of what to expect after a year or so more development.

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August 8, 2014

Book Week: King’s Quest: The Floating Castle

Once upon a time, in a kingdom of truly terrible writing and puzzle design...

Pssst. Alexander. It's... it's behind you!

Pssst. Alexander. It’s… it’s behind you!

Every day this week, we’re taking a look at one of the many, ahem, fine books based on games. Today, Prince Alexander wishes his family had learned the joys of delegation.

I should start by saying that while the other books we’ve looked at this week have been bad, or at least crazy, I went into this one blind. Then I realised that would make reading hard, so I opened my eyes. The point I’m making though is that this is absolutely not a legendary low on the level of, say, the Planescape: Torment novel, but a book I picked up out of genuine curiosity and interest. King’s Quest you see, sucks. King’s Quest sucks hard, and creator Roberta Williams is and always has been the most overrated designer and storyteller this side of David Cage.

If you remember them fondly, then I’m not going to tell you that you’re wrong, though I am going to float the suggestion over your head in the hope that you eventually wise-up to this sloppy, poorly written series that succeeded not on charm or character and sure as hell not on quality, but on sucking nostalgia from your childhood like some kind of emotional vampire, and relying on the fact that Roberta “Phantasmagoria Was the Defining Moment Of My Career” Williams got to throw all of Sierra’s new toys at this waste of good floppy disks. King’s Quest VI excluded, of course. That one was barely crap at all. But the others? Adventure gaming at its most insufferable, and world design and writing at its laziest, with the series’ crowning achievement being to have convinced the world that it loved it once and therefore still should. Like the maggot-ridden corpse of a dead cat.

Squeeze that dead cat. Sniff the nostalgia of its juices.

But seeing there were novels that couldn’t take the same shortcuts? That, I felt I had to check out…

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August 7, 2014

Book Week: Mirthful Kombat / Pac-Mania

A double-feature of books where comedy went to die. Painfully. Writhing and screaming.

Did we say jokes? Sorry, we meant "syphilis".

Did we say jokes? Sorry, we meant “syphilis”. And for “Byte”, read “more syphilis.”

Every day this week, we’re taking a look at one of the many, ahem, fine books based on games. Today, did you bring your sense of humour? That’s fine. You won’t be needing it anyway. Ever, ever again.

Being French kissed by a box jellyfish. Being flayed alive and dunked in lemon juice. Being dragged naked behind a train over shards of broken glass. Having each limb in turn melted by molten lava. Riven. These are merely some of the things that sound like sweet relief after these two gaming joke books, which seem to have the specific goal – the quest – of taking something you love, gutting it, and curling up happily in the entrails.

These are arguably the two worst joke books ever written. Literally the only reason I’m not saying they absolutely are is that the idea of either of them accomplishing anything sickens me to the core. They are so bad, I’m not sure fire would lower itself to burn them. If you used them as toilet paper, you would wipe on more than you wiped off, and also contract smallpox. You think I’m joking, but no. After reading both of them in their entirety, I no longer have awareness of this concept you call comedy. All that remains is hate, not simply for these accursed artefacts, but for the knowledge that at some point someone was paid to write them and probably didn’t spend the money trying to atone for that greatest of crimes by buying a box of rat poison and eating it like sherbet dip.

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August 6, 2014

Book Week: Baldur’s Gate 2

How can you read a novel that doesn't exist?

Well, you know what they say, one man's novel is another man's toilet paper. One with a chafed bum.

You know what they say, one man’s novel is another man’s toilet paper. One with a chafed bum.

Every day this week, we’re taking a look at one of the many, ahem, fine books based on games. Today, the true stain on the good name of the God of Murder.

While it’s Planescape that really embraces the idea of belief shaping reality, Baldur’s Gate 2 fans have been giving it a try ever since this novel came out – the idea, I think, being that if its existence is denied hard enough, then it never would have been. Certainly, to bring it up in front of one is to see eyes turn glassy, and a hollow tone declare in words that have seen horrors beyond description, “That. Never. Happened.” But can it really be that bad?

I suppose we’d better find out before every last copy fades into nothingness. Or, alternatively, not.

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August 5, 2014

Book Week: Worlds Of Power: Castlevania 2


Uh, Simon, where did the rest of your whip go?

Uh, Simon, where did the rest of your whip go?

Every day this week, we’re taking a look at one of the many, ahem, fine books based on games. Today, the true horror is that at some point, someone thought this was a good idea…

Remember when I said that Doom was one of the craziest game novelisations out there? These are the very first words of Worlds Of Power: Castlevania 2: Simons Quest. No kidding, no editing. Ahem.

It looked as though Count Dracula was going to win the battle.
“I will drink your spirit like cherry pop!” said the count, flapping his wings and showing his fangs.

It only gets weirder from there. You have no idea. But you will. And I’m sorry. I’m so very, very sorry.

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August 4, 2014

Book Week: Doom

Knee deep in the dumb...

"In the grand tradition of Heinlein's Starship Troopers" it says on the back. Cough cough.

“In the grand tradition of Heinlein’s Starship Troopers” it says on the back. Cough cough.

Every day this week, we’re taking a look at one of the many, ahem, fine books based on games. Up first, because I think we all know it was inevitable anyway, the absolute craziest novelisations you’ll ever read.

The weird thing isn’t that there’s a Doom novel. It’s that there’s four Doom novels, each more insane than the last. They’re either the worst game novelisations ever written or the greatest that there will ever be, in no small part because you can see the exact point that everyone involved stopped giving the tiniest shit… and it’s the words “Chapter One.” Well, okay, technically just the number “1″. But you get what I mean.

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A Random Selection Of Things That May Interest And Entertain...

[Video] The Blackwell Legacy

High stakes; Medium well done. A spirited series. What? After five games, all the jokes are burned. Time to take a look back at one of my favourite indie adventure series.

Saturday Crapshoot Live: Synnergist

A desperate struggle to save the distant future of 2010, defeat a fiendish villain, and most importantly of all… write a restaurant review! Gasp!

Fiction: 27 Letters

Getting out of a parent’s shadow is tough, especially if they’re a little bit psychic. Another quickie written for a local writing group.