Friday, April 28, 2006

The Nintendo Wii

Nintendo's finally named their new console which were known as "Revolution" until now. The name is "Wii". I'll spare you the bad "we" and "wee" puns. All I can say is that it's a name that gets people talking and think. I wiill see what I think about it in a week or two after I had some time to get used to it.

Sorry about it, I guess I had to make at least one pun...


End of an Era

Tomorrow I'm turning 28.

I'm not crazy about getting older and I'm not crazy about getting nearer to thirty, but it's a good excuse to throw a little party. Just a few friends (old and new), videogames, snacks, food and drinks. It will be fun.

My 27th year was very good and I can't complain. Started it as a tester and during that year managed to get promoted to Lead Tester and then to Game Designer, Leo the Great Dane joined our family, I became British, I started my driving lessons and became a trained First Aider. I'll be more than happy if I'll achieve half as much in my 28th year (starting with passing my driving test next year).

So looking back, I guess I am quite lucky. And being surrounded with friends tomorrow will make it even clearer to me. I'm like that, you see: if I don't get enough reminders, sometimes I just forget that I'm actually happy.


Thursday, April 27, 2006

Whinging alert

I'm not writing daily, because I don't really have much to write about. It doesn't mean that nothing is happening in my life, just that it's not all worth writing about. Did you know that my Gnome Rogue in World of Warcraft is about to reach level 40 and I nearly have all the money I need to buy a mount? Or that I watch an episode of Queer as Folk on DVD every day with my partner? Or that Leo ate my bag of goodies from GDCE last year that I needed to throw away anyway?

Admit it, you didn't.

I won't say I'm stuck in a rut, because I'm not. I should be jumping up and down, happy that I finally got the job that I wanted for years- making games for a living. As far as jobs go, it's as good as it gets. Alas, we humans are spoilt creatures (well, I am anyway) and once we get what we want, soon we desire more. I guess that's an healthy approach because if you really have no goals anymore, what's the point sticking around? Just to eat food, watch TV and cuddle with Great Danes on the carpet? Actually, that doesn't sound too bad.

You see why I don't write when I have nothing to write about? This what happens.

It's too early to announce anything specific, but I started working with someone on a new webcomic. We're at very early stages and I hope something will come out of it, because it's a really cool concept. I'll spill the beans once I'll have any. Beans, that it. To spill them.


Monday, April 24, 2006

E-Bay Adventures

Last night I left my first negative feedback on E-Bay. I always avoided leaving negative feedback, but in this case I felt like I had to warn other people who wanted to buy the same product.

Well, it was also my fault a little. I should have known better.

The first time I got screwed over on E-Bay was when I pre-ordered Series 2 of I Love Lucy. I never got the product and by the time I filed a complaint with Paypal it was more than 30 days after the payment and nothing could've been done. So lesson number 1 kids, never preorder on E-Bay.

The next time I simply never recieved a DS Japanese dictionary I paid for and I managed to get a full refund with Paypal.

But this time it was something else: I got the product, but it was crap. I bought Queer As Folk series 1-4 (the American version). The first thing that surprised me was that this was a Chinese version of the show. It was nicely packaged, but had odd things on it: it had a warning about sexual adult content AND a PG rating logo right next to each other which was really bizarre. The discs had no English text to indicate what was in them or in what order I should watch them (I suppose that information was there in Chinese) so I had to test them randomally to find out. Nice. If that wasn't enough some of them had little bits of glue on them. Fine, I can clean that.

But then the real joke happened: at least two episodes in the first series had 10 minutes missing from the end. I had to download the episodes off the internet to watch the endings.

I contacted the seller and asked for a full refund. I said I was willing to send him back the boxset only if he'll pay for the delivery as I refused to lose money over the crappy product he supplied me. He refused to pay for the delivery and asked me to send it to him first. I didn't like that idea, because then I'll end up with nothing and by the time he'll get back to me it'll be more than 30 days since the payment and I could be really royally screwed. So I just told him to forget it, that he could keep my money and that he should be ashamed of himself for selling such crappy products. He said that's the condition he got the discs from his supplier, but I explained that I bought it from him and hold him accountable. It's up to him to make sure he's not selling crap.

So I left him the negative feedback and in return he left me negative feedback. I knew that will happen, which is why I usually avoid leaving negative feedback, but I also knew that I had to warn others who considered buying the same boxset from this guy.

But here's the really annoying thing: I should've seen it coming. For one thing look at this: the guy can barely write in English and is based in Germany. Only buy something when you are happy with what the product description tells you. If you get something else you have every right to claim you were lied to. Also, I should have enquired first and asked if it was the US version of the series, not something from Asia. In the past I recieved from Hong Kong several DS and GBA games that were obviously fakes with plenty of spelling mistakes on the boxes (though they worked just fine).

If you look carefully you can see the Chinese writing on the right side, should've noticed it!

So I'll be far more careful from now on. Then again that's what I said last time!


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

All sorts of stuff

The Easter break was nice and relaxing. Didn't really do much, but then again we'll be going on a two weeks vacation in June so staying home with the dogs, watching TV and playing games wasn't too bad.

Had my first car accident on Friday during a driving lesson. It wasn't my fault, as the car behind me rammed into us from behind when I was stopped, but as a learner driver the first thing that crossed my mind was "Oh crap! What have I done? I must have forgot to do something, it must be my fault!" But it wasn't, so yay. I felt bad for the other guy though, as he damaged his car quite badly and he'll have to make a claim on his insurance for both cars.

Watched Scary Movie 4 yesterday. My partner hated it even though he mostly enjoyed the previous entries in the series. I liked about half of it and groaned about the other half. It was fun, but not as tight as the first movie in the series. 6/10

And speaking of my dogs (well, I did in the first paragraph) here are more pictures of them! Woohoo! Or should that be Woofhoo?

Sorry, that was a very bad pun.


Super cute

Shiny in the sun


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Reviews time again!

I picked up BMX XXX at my local shop yesterday. It was pre-owned for £2.99 so I just couldn't say no. I've been dying to try it and see what all the fuss was about.

To be honest, it was a waste of £2.99. It simply wasn't that offensive. You get a few laughs from how bad it is, but most are when you read the back cover of the box. It boasts the game features hardcore gameplay, hookers, pimps and dogs on heat. Really.

In the actual game rather than have a short clever animation for the developer's logo there's a videoclip of a girl in a wet t-shirt with the company's logo. Clever! You can dress up the ladies in sexy outfits and then you get to the actual game. It's basically just like any Tony Hawk game only with really boring and mundane level design and even worse mission design (destory 3 of this, collect 10 of that and so on). Apparently you can unlock videoclips with adult content, but I really couldn't be bothered playing through this borefest. People who want porn are advised to just cut the middle man and buy actual porn. There really is nothing to see here.

I have nothing against porn and erotic content, but this garbage almost makes me happy Acclaim went bust. Almost. I mean, imagine if this game was a huge success and spawned many sequels and clones... Scary thought.


On the other hand I finally bought Sonic Adventure DX and I'm loving it. I played the Dreamcast version almost halfway through and now I intend to play it to the end and unlock as many of the hidden Gamegear Sonic games 9even though they haven't aged very well).

The Sonic Adventure games are flawed both in terms of gameplay and camera, but they are still fun and imaginative. There's nothing else like it. Besides, it's nice to play something that's not World of Warcraft.


Happy Passover/Easter!


Thursday, April 06, 2006

Aide Team Days 3 &4

Today I passed my first aid at the work assessment and I'll soon get my certificate by post. Yay!

Yesterday we covered more serious stuff such as CPR, poisons and other bits and pieces and today we practiced everything and were assessed after lunch. It was a long day and a bit stressing. I knew I'll pass, I just wanted it to be over as the anticipation was the worst part. It's a shame that only today, at the last day, I started clicking with some of the people who turned out to be very nice. A bunch of us went to the pub at the end of the day, including Julie the instructor.

There were, obviously, a few twats. I was unlucky to sit right next to the two twatiest people in our class and as a result ended up teaming up with them most of the time. They were both from the same investment company. The boy wasn't really a bad person, just immensely patronizing and irritating. When we worked together we were both learning, but it didn't stop him from telling me what to do and correcting my mistakes in a very authoritative manner as if he was the instructor. Then one of the real instructors will tell him he's wrong, that what I did originally was correct and he would apologize. Fair enough, but five minutes later he'll do it all over again. And if I did something OK he would congratulate me in the same tone you'll congratulate a three year old for drawing a stick man family. I lived in the UK for more than eight years, I'm now British and my English is perfectly fine - but I have a foreign accent. So people, like that guy, assume that I'm a retard. He would say things like "inhale" and quickly simplify it to "breath in" and so on. Ugh.

The girl, for a lack of a better word, was simply a bitch. The sort you'll find in American teen dramas. She didn't like me and I didn't like her. I'm just glad I'll never see them again (then again you never know).

I did piss them off when I decapitated our PCR dummy. The instructors told us to poke around and get familiar with it... So I wanted to see how far her head can twist, do a little Linda Blair impression. The head fell off and when we got it back on she wasn't working properly. So they teachers had to fix it and my team lost some practice time. But who gives a poop?

Our team, Aide Team won which was nice and we got a bag of sweets. Yay.

It's was fun, but I'm glad it's over. Tomorrow it's back to work. Though actually I did pop into work yesterday between the first aid training and the IGDA meeting to check my work e-mail and catch up with what's going on.

Still quite bummed about losing my phone...


Wednesday, April 05, 2006


I got home late because of the IGDA committee meeting and I lost my BlackBerry (or it was perhaps stolen) so I'm not really in the mood to write. I'll just try to combine days three and four of my first aid training tomorrow when I'll know if I passed and got the certificate.

My mobile has my name and phone number displayed on the locked phone screen, but I have a feeling I won't see it again. I called Vodafone and locked the simcard and tomorrow I'll call the places I've been to yesterday evening (two pubs and a little chinese restuarant). For now I'm using my older phone with a sim card we used as a spare phone to give to guests, but that means I won't be able to get my e-mails on my phone.



Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Aide Team Day 2

Day two was a bit more interesting. We started covering more serious injuries and situations. For example, if you cut your belly and your guts spill out, I'll know what to do. Or if you'll get a knife stuck in your leg, break a bone or get a burn.

I can, but please don't.

When we got to the part covering seizures half of the class had to walk out of the room while the rest of us were told to pretend we have seizures when they come back and they have to diagnose what we had. One girl said she rather not and started crying. I didn't quite get exactly why, but I understand it was some traumatic experience. So she was escorted out by one of the teachers and was, oddly, brought back when we were done discussing the issue. I found it to be very odd. How can she be qualified to give first aid at her workplace if seizures make her freak out? Oh well.

It was a bit more fun. I'm getting to know the rest of the people slightly better (though I still eat lunch alone). There's no real point making friends and socializing as we only have two days left. We had fun re-enacting a scene from the training video followed by our treatment solution. Basically, a clumsy kitchen worker (me) pours scalding oil on another worker and a first aid trained patron comes to save the day. It was Tony award material.

On a side note I had another driving lesson today, the first since booking my driving test last week (ooh, did I forget to mention it?) for the 17th of May. I was driving around with my partner on Saturday and nearly killed us which was sort of kinda not fun at all. Gotta get it all sorted soon!

And on other side news, puppy Leo wasn't very good on Saturday. When we left for Dim Sum he pulled the bed covers off, tearing most of them, forcing us to throw away the expensive set, but at least the mattress and blanket weren't really damaged. Later that day when he was left alone he destroyed the last doggie mattress he shared with Kato. So we were really angry with him and the dogs now don't get access to the bedroom when we're not home. Leo learnt very quickly and we since left the dogs alone several times and all is well. So far. It was our fault, really, as we went out of our way to make sure he was rarely left alone without any humans, so no wonder he would freak out. Now we try to leave the dogs alone for at least an hour every day.

Also saw Transamerica on Sunday at a really cool cinema in Hampstead where you sit on sofas and can bring wine, tea and fancy snacks in with you. I didn't watch Reese Witherspoon in Walk the Line, but I can't see how she could've possibly done a better job than Felicity Huffman in Transamerica and win an Oscar. Excellent film. Original, funny and captivating. Good stuff.


Monday, April 03, 2006

Aide Team

Today I started my four days First Aid at the Workplace course at St. John's Ambulance near Baker Street. It meant getting up an hour earlier, but also getting home an hour earlier. I technically missing work, but what I am doing is a lot like work anyway.

The first day, unsurprisingly, covered the basic. There were quite a few of us there and we learnt how apply bandages, slings and how to deal with fainting and epilepsy amongst other things. The next couple of days we will learn about more serious injuries with a couple of assessments at the last day. We were also split into four teams and had competition assessments. I came up with our team name, the Aide Team. Isn't it so clever you just want to die? So far we're leading by about two points, but there are three more days to go.

I am very happy I got this opportunity. Four people were sent from my company. Initially I missed out on it as I voiced my interest a little too late, but when one person dropped out, I got my chance to go. I always wanted to be trained in providing first aid. You never know when someone you love might be in trouble and the worst possible thing is to watch helplessly as they die in front of your eyes. Having the power to help people and even save their lives is something very special. This has worked out so well for me.

I can't wait until someone at work loses a limb or gets electrocuted so I can show off my L33T first aid skills! (Err... Kidding)

It gave me an appetite for more. I think after this first aid course I'm going to tackle brain surgery. I'm only getting started!