Comments now turned off


I have turned off the ability to comment on posts on this blog. I was getting 100-200 spam comments a day, and they were arriving in ‘bursts’. Although Akismet was doing a fine job the bursts of spam were spiking the CPU load and causing problems.

I will think about a better commenting system, but to be honest I wasn’t getting many (genuine not spam) comments anyway! I will have a think about it, in the mean time no comments, but you can contact me in other ways (e.g. Twitter, email) if you really want to :-)

Update: My health, Puzzle Quest, Civ V, Ultratron, RO, FTL

It is now more than six months since I posted on here, and that last post mentioned my health problems and how that was affecting my gaming. Sadly since then my health problems have become a lot worse and only recently have I been able to play anything at all. For months I didn’t play any games. This is just an update with information on my state of health, and a bit about the games I am now managing to play now and again.

This is just for general interest for anyone that knows me (real life or internet) but also might be of interest for anyone interested in how some disabilities, especially those due to chronic bad health, can affect the ability to play games and what games are more suitable than others for anyone with problems similar to mine.

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Update – I have been ill

Thought I might make a little update here to explain why I haven’t written much on the blog lately – for close to three months in fact. Well, I haven’t played games hardly at all for three months! My illness got very bad and finally the doctors are trying to do something about it, plus some other health problems I have. Basically the treatments (I am on between 5 and 8 prescription medications depending on how much pain I am in etc.) are pretty rough and cause me a lot of weakness, fatigue, dizziness and all sorts. As you can imagine trying to do anything let alone something that requires concentration and reaction times is fairly tricky with those side effects!

But, I am missing gaming a lot and the treatments are changing and/or I am getting used to them a bit so I am thinking of easing myself back into some gaming. I was playing Dark Souls when I started to get really bad and I don’t think I am ready for that yet! However something turn based, that I can take my time about might work. XCOM – Enemy Unknown perhaps. I want to do a couple more run throughs of the original game before I get the latest expansion/DLC (XCOM – Enemy Within) so I might do that, or play some MtG DotP or something!

I have been distracting myself and having a lot of fun on an adult social MMO whilst I have been ill, so that is good (it has been great in fact and will probably cut into my ‘usual’ gaming time a lot from now on!). Meanwhile the health saga continues with lots of uncertainty as to medium and long term prognosis. My workplace is being fantastic (I am on long term sick leave) but I really have no idea where I will be in a years time. With good luck a better situation, with bad luck … have no idea. Meanwhile lets go save the Earth again, eh?

Hand made Systems Alliance Navy (Mass Effect) tumblers

My wife takes a little holiday now and again, and goes away for activity breaks – she gets to do all sorts of things like archery, swimming and various arts and crafts, making things. I can’t travel due to my health problems so I don’t go with her sadly but she thought of me on her latest break. She made me some lovely tumblers with the Systems Alliance Navy logo on them, from the Mass Effect games. She didn’t make the glasses themselves, but used a sand blasting technique to etch the logo on a pair of tumblers:

Hand engraved Systems Alliance Navy (Mass Effect) tumblers

The two designs are the same as each other except reversed (clear on opaque, and opaque on clear as it were). I think they are wonderful. The logos are symmetrical, the angle of the photo and the curve of the glass means they might not look so. I hope Bioware doesn’t mind as they are hand made just for me and not for sale at all! You can get official Mass Effect goodies from the the Bioware Store by the way and I have some of their official stuff. But these are special to me.

Hand engraved Systems Alliance Navy (Mass Effect) tumblers

Hand engraved Systems Alliance Navy (Mass Effect) tumblers

As you might be able to tell I really like them, and thought I would show them off on my blog. Thank you Fionuala.


My last post was about XCOM Enemy Unknown and I mentioned that I would be playing it more. Haven’t done that yet but have been playing some other games and have plans so I thought I would write an update post. I often write a post about a game and say that I will play more, but don’t write any more posts – this is mainly because I have said all I want to really. But I thought I would at least update with some shorter passages of words how things are going.

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XCOM Enemy Unknown first play through

Following on from my previous post XCOM Enemy Unknown initial play I have had a few tries at it and finished a run through, beating the main story line – on easy. This is just a post as to why I ended up on easy difficulty and some words about how I found the game, strategy and tactics and so on. I will be playing it again but not for a little while at least, so I thought I would write up my experience so far with the game.

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XCOM Enemy Unknown, initial play and trouble with the difficulty curve

This is just a quick blog post about my initial experiences playing XCOM – Enemy Unknown. My very first thoughts can be found at the bottom of my previous post Skyrim done with for now where I talked about not liking the tutorial mode that much. The tutorial mode does help give some back story though, so I played through that and got into the main part of the game in normal mode. The game seems to have a difficulty curve that suddenly spikes, and if you aren’t prepared for it things go very badly. Read on for more, though I will say this is mainly me being bad at the game, plus trying very hard not to look up hints, tips, strategy etc. I am trying to do at least one run through without any help of that nature, I am even not reading the strategy guide I bought for my initial attempts at the game.

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Skyrim done with for now

I have finished playing Skyrim for now, I won’t say I have finished it by a long shot, but having spent 95 hours with the game and beaten the main quest line plus some other major questlines I think I can move on for a while. Below the break are some words about the game and how I played it. There are also a couple of short update type sections on what I am playing next (XCOM-EU) and also my decision with regards to my Tomb Raider Legend quitting that I mentioned in the previous post. There will be spoilers below, but the game has been out for a long time now so that shouldn’t be too much of a problem. On the other hand according to the Steam global achievement stats only 35% of people have completed the main quest line, so you never know.

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Tomb Raider Legend and rage quitting it

I started to play Tomb Raider Legend a few weeks ago. I was really looking forward to this, I haven’t played it in ages and I am fairly sure I didn’t beat it the first time round. I remember really enjoying the game. You can tell by the title of this post that I had unexpected troubles so you can read more below about Tomb Raider Legend and how I unexpectedly found it very frustrating and have put that on pause for now. This is a particularly long blog post, even for me, so I have put the bulk of it behind a ‘read more’ type link so as not to take up too much space on the home page. I should probably do that more as I do go on a bit in my posts even at the best of times.

Spoiler warning for Tomb Raider Legend – I daresay very few people are worried about spoilers for that game as it is fairly old now, but just in case.

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Match three games and 10,000,000

If you check my Steam gameplay time stats you might notice that I play a fair amount of ‘match three’ type games. These are the games with the moving tiles, or swapping jewels etc., until you line up three or more that match, and then they disappear, things happen, more tiles/jewels drop in and so forth. They are very casual soft core type games, Bejewelled probably being one of the best known of the genre (if indeed it counts as a genre). I have recently picked up another of these type of games, called 10,000,000 and I thought I would make a short post about why I play such comparatively simple and untaxing games quite a bit. I will say something about 10,000,000 as well.

Some ago I got Lucid on Steam and made a not very good YouTube video review of the Lucid game – that video was more about me testing out recording gameplay with commentary to be honest! I have had Bejewelled 3 for a while and have sunk 35 hours into it since I got it. More recently I watched TotalBiscuit’s WTF is … 10,000,000 and thought it looked interesting, so bought that as it was on a 20% off on launch offer. 7.5 hours of gameplay and less than a week later I have beat it. So yeah, I do play these things a fair bit.

I know this blog is straplined ‘playing on casual’ but I have explained that elsewhere, the reason I play these is that I find them an excellent distraction when I am ill, in pain, tired, on high strength painkillers and so on. Again elsewhere I have explained a bit about my health problems and disability and how computer/video games help when I am badly off with my problems – match three games seem to be like that, but more so. In that when I am very bad, or woozy, in pain etc. and can’t even cope with ‘regular’ games, I can usually spend some mindless time with a match three game. The other thing I can do when I am very ill is watch Let’s Play type videos on YouTube. For some reason both these things seem to work better than reading (or watching TV, which I very rarely do anyway) to distract me and not let my mind dwell on how crap I am feeling at that point. Or if I am being kept awake and am very tired but in too much pain to sleep they work too.

So, onto the latest one of these games I have been playing, 10,000,000. It has retro style ‘8 bit’ graphics – the ‘8 bit’ is in scare quotes as it isn’t really 8 bit but that retro graphics style seems to be being called 8 bit lately. Very simplistic, and not done that well to my mind, but the graphics don’t really matter that much in a game like this anyway. The gameplay has a twist in that you collect resources (gold, stone, wood) by matching certain tiles and use them to upgrade your ‘home’ allowing you to upgrade your attacks and character. You match different types of tile to give a magical attack or a physical attack; damage to different monsters is more effective with certain attacks so there is a strategy to it in some ways. You match chests to perhaps get items (magical attack orbs, one shot ‘big’ physical attacks, keys for the chests, food for health, scrolls), match keys to open doors and chests to get past them if you don’t have an item skeleton key, and so forth.

I did find the best strategy is not to hunt too hard for the precise best match for the current task but to keep matching as quickly as you can, the tiles falling down would often either line up or present a more obvious quick match for the attack (or key, or whatever) you require. It was useful to match wood, stone, shields (which give you shields to absorb damage) and keep an eye on the rest of the board waiting for attack combinations to present themselves. I had a lot of fun with the game, though I felt it to be a bit short, having beat it in 7.5 hours. Towards the end I ran out of things to spend XP, gold and resources on – I sort of felt that it would be nice to have a further stage where you could level up even more and so on, but for £3 or so I cannot complain.

Will I play it through again? I am not sure, it was fun to play through once, but probably not – at least not for a while. I might try to get the last of the Steam achievements but that will be about it for now. However I find myself popping back into Bejewelled now and again so I daresay I will play this one again in a few months. I haven’t played Lucid in a long time though, that game became a bit frustrating towards the end and the higher levels – and also that game was a lot more about the somewhat mesmerizing graphics and sound than the gameplay.

10,000,000 has distracted me from carrying on with Tomb Raider legend, which has been somewhat frustrating in places with control issues and lingering bug like features – but I hope to beat TR legend and will possibly do a blog post on it since I have some notes I have been making as I am playing it, mainly about the frustrations! The frustrations are mostly down to me, but I can see why some people prefer to play the game with a controller not a mouse and keyboard. But that is another post, when (if) I beat that game. Meanwhile, don’t look down on me too much if you seem me playing a lot of super casual soft core match three games if I am on your Steam friends list or something – I am probably feeling a bit rubbish and am distracting myself. And why not, it is still better than daytime TV.