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Month: December 2015

2015: Fine then, bugger off!

So it’s that time of the year again, time for drinks, Auld Lang Syne, and looking forward to what’s ahead: Yep, it’s New Year’s Eve.


So 2015 in WoW wasn’t its most shining moment ever in all honesty. Realistically this year will probably go down in WoW history as its worst. Hopefully. Because that means better is to come.

Warlords came out towards the arse end of last year, and this year saw the game receive very little content, not least in the form of *cough*major*cough*patch*cough* 6.1.

So in effect the game had 1 content patch all of 2015 in the shape of 6.2.x, an all time low for WoW, at the level expected of an aging F2P game. WoW is aging, that’s undeniable, but it’s hardly 100% F2P atm. In fact it’s still by far the biggest subscription MMO on the planet. It should be treated as such by Blizzard…

That and Garrisons. Eurgh.

On the plus side, it was the year I finally changed main characters after 6½/7 years and stopped tanking and went back to DPS. Glad I did, much less pressure to attend raids and perform in pugs/LFRs.


So this year I had the opportunity to try out several other MMOs: Wildstar, Final Fantasy 14 and Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited.

Wildstar is a fun game, no doubt about it. It’s colourful, comical and brash in its use of pallette. Well worth dipping into, but I eventually stopped playing it because of a lack of guild or friends ingame to help make the whole experience worthwhile. Definitely a fun game though, and easy to give a crack as it’s now F2P.

Wildstar Online
Wildstar Online

Final Fantasy 14 was a different kettle of fish from Wildstar. A total contrast in fact. Where Wildstar was comic styled fun, FF14 is very po-faced, with seemingly very little humour. It’s a very dry experience, but very much a worthy game. Again I stopped playing because of subs costs (I was playing & paying for 3 MMOs simultaneously), so until the sub cost is dropped and it goes F2P it’s unlikely I’ll return.

Final Fantasy 14
Final Fantasy 14

Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited is the Buy to Play iteration of the Elder Scrolls Online, a game that has dropped the initial subscription model, but still costs money to purchase the base game. This is one I’ve really been having a ball with, far more than FF14 or even Wildstar to a degree.

Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited
Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited

That may be to do with my long-standing love of the Elder Scrolls games, right the way back to Daggerfall back in the day. I’m still only about 20 hours into ESO atm, but I’m loving it, and the lack of a subs fee helps in this regard immensely.

It does have a cash shop, but it’s a pretty good one, and one I’ve already spent some money on for a pet and a mount (both Jaguars!), as well as a costume set. Job done I suppose Bethesda!


Getting away from MMOs slightly, another game I bought recently was Undertale. On first appearances it looks like something made to run on a Spectrum 48k, and frankly it does nothing to dis-abuse you of that impression. But as with any great game it’s the story and characterisation that pulls you in and makes you care about a seemingly blocky arrangement of pixels…undertale


Pillars of Eternity was another game I was really happy to see released this year. Paying serious amounts of homage to its forefathers Baldur’s Gate & Planescape: Torment both thematically and graphically, this has led the resurgence of the CRPG that will only continue even further next year with the release of Torment: Tides of Numenera and more…

Pillars of Eternity
Pillars of Eternity

There were plenty of other games, such as Metal Gear Solid 5 etc, but those were the main games I sunk time into this year, and ones I’d recommend you pick up if you haven’t already!

All that’s left to be said is have a Happy New Year!

Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

So it’s Xmas time again, Winterveil is currently in effect on Azeroth, and we’re all looking forward to seeing a fat man emptying his sack all over our living rooms late at night…


Christmas came early for me and a lot of other geeks this year, with the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Dec 17th. Long gone now are memories of George Lucas’s attempts to destroy the franchise with his horrific prequels, which were packed full of risible acting, complete lack of acting or direction, and the terrible decision to eschew practical effects completely in favour of CGI, which hasn’t aged well, even only 10 years after Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

JJ Abrams took the helm for this first film of another trilogy, and it quite bluntly shits on the prequels from orbit. It is a far, FAR superior film to all three prequels on several fronts:

Acting: Newcomers Daisy Ridley and John Boyega as Rey & Finn respectively absolutely school Natalie Portman and the godawful Hayden Christensen in terms of raw acting ability.

See Anakin? THIS IS HOW YOU EMOTE!

Ridley is absolutely delightful, and Rey is now firmly one of my favourite SW characters. Boyega as Finn completely owned his role and finally showed what a black male lead character (itself practically a SW curiousity) in the SW universe can be.

Sorry Lando & Mace Windu, but you were hardly lead characters!

😉

Practical Effects: Frankly, screw overuse of CGI. If you can build a set practically, then for god’s sakes do it! It gives the actors so much more to work with and allows both them and the audience to inhabit the scene so much more, and the situation becomes so much better realised and believable as a result.

Practical creature effects also helped enormously to give this new film the same feel as the original trilogy, especially the new “cantina” scene at Maz Kanata’s castle.

Friends Reunited: The original trilogy cast & characters make a very welcome return, and when Han & Chewie appeared on screen for the first time, you couldn’t have wiped the stupid fanboy grin off my face for a million quid. Not that the story concentrates on them in any way. No, this is firmly a film centred around the new triumvirate of characters (Rey, Finn & Kylo Ren, the new villain), but the appearances of them spattered throughout the film’s 136 minute running time help make the universe feel just like the one we left 32 years ago.

Story: No trade federation, no trade routes, no silly senate dealings. Nope, this was back to the roots of story telling in Star Wars: A story firmly about family. Or in this case, families…

There was one major criticism of the plot for this film:

[su_spoiler title=”Click for slight spoiler details…”]The film’s plot, beat for beat, perhaps too closely mirrors that of A New Hope. Didn’t bother me at all though, as it was perhaps better to help root the characters and setting once again back into a galaxy far far away…[/su_spoiler]

Overall though? Absolutely loved it. I was completely wrapt for the 2 hours, which is not something I could say for more than any individual 10 minute period of any of the prequels.

Is it better than the OT films? Perhaps Jedi, which as always been the weakest of the OT, but New Hope and Empire for me are still stronger films, especially Empire.

I’ll be going to see it a 2nd time over the Xmas & New Year period, which is something I rarely do with films/movies in the cinema. Last time I did that was the Matrix!

If you haven’t seen it yet, WHY ARE YOU STILL READING THIS!? GO!


Crux: Universities – 21st Century Day Care for the Overgrown Baby.

Crux Articles: Articles that aren’t gaming related, and will touch on other more real world subjects, such as politics, religion, or in this case, rights of free speech. Be aware that these articles are more ranty in nature, and may contain more NSFW language than normal!


Traditionally, University has been somewhere where we send our young people who are intellectually capable and have intellectual promise in order to enhance their knowledge. To expand their minds and broaden their horizons.

To increase their literacy, strengthen their skills of reasoning and application of logic, and to prepare them for a life spent in a more professional capacity.

Free speech is something that most modern democracies not only encourage, but actually enshrine in law. The right to say whatever you want, even if it’s offensive or obnoxious to some, is a human right that should be protected at all costs.

Before I go any further, watch the below video.

It’s a slightly sarcastic take on what I’ll be talking about afterwords.

Done? Good.

Ridiculous right?

Nothing that insane could happen in reality, right?

Right?


Disclaimer: I never went to University. I quit school to begin working when I was about to enter my final year of secondary education, so I was about 17 at the time I left to take up a job that I thought would be of more benefit to me than completing my A-Levels. It was at the time, but longer term it proved to be of no benefit. As a result I have since began studying with the Open University, completing an Honours Degree in Computing & IT with Applied Psychology. This is an action borne of both work reasons and personal satisfaction, and so far I’m really enjoying it, but I will forever have missed out on the full University experience that I would’ve had, had I stuck with school and gone onto University when I was the appropriate age.

However, it seems that even today, University students the world over are missing out on a full University experience because of hysteria and political correctness gone mad.


Unfortunately it seems that this is not ridiculous, but is also reality in more than one University campus across the Westernised world at this moment in time.

Political correctness began as a movement intended to reduce the chance that minorities would take offence at certain terminology, language etc.

Noble intent? Perhaps. But it has now reached such levels of self-parody, that students like those satirised in the above video are not only real, but they are so earnest in their attempt to be seen as standing up for a cause that they’ve begun to become a satire of themselves.


Disclaimer #2: I am a proponent of equality and freedom. Very much so, and I believe that everyone has the right to live their lives the way they see fit. When it comes to gender, I believe men and women are equal in all things, and firmly believe a woman doing a specific job should be paid 100% in equality with a man doing the same job. Yes some men are physically stronger than some women, but likewise some women are physically stronger than some men.

Put it like this, I would not be picking a fight with Ronda Rousey any time soon… 😉

Ronda Rousey
Ronda Rousey – A fellow WoW player!

I’m also a huge advocate of gay rights and the rights of the non-hetero peoples of the world to live their lives in a manner they see fit as well. IMO the state has no right to dictate who should be able to marry or for people to love whoever they want.
I live in Northern Ireland, the last part of the UK that still legally discriminates against gay people and their right to marry, much to my ever-living disdain and embarrassment. Blame religion, I do, as it’s the conservative ultra-religious nutbags in the DUP blocking it every time.

Fucking religious bigoted assholes…


As mentioned at the beginning of this article, traditionally we send young people to University in order to strengthen their reasoning and argument skills, in addition to their critical faculties.

To prepare the next generation of great thinkers, philosophers, doctors, psychologists, scientists, authors etc.

However it now appears that in far too many cases, modern Uni students are seemingly less concerned with intellectual rigour, and seem all too eager to find a “cause” to champion.

Even if that “cause” is something that logically otherwise would be abhorrent or antithetical to their existence…


Case Study 1: Maryam Namazie (Video 1 or shorter 2)

Maryam was invited to give a talk at the Warwick University a few months back, and more recently to talk at Goldsmith’s University. On both occasions her invite was initially retracted after an outcry from Student’s Union in the Warwick University case, and in the second was objected to by the Goldsmith’s Islamic Society.

Maryam’s crime? Speaking out on women’s rights, gay rights and calling for an end to death threats against apostates. For which, during the Goldsmith’s lecture, she received death threats herself.

The thing that got me was that Goldsmith’s Islamic Society had a staunch ally in the “fight” against Maryam speaking out on women’s rights: The Goldsmith’s LGBTQ society.

Now, that’s odd enough, given how well we know that Islamic extremists treat gay people: See how ISIS treat gay people in Syria: They either behead them or throw them to their deaths from clock towers and cliff edges. But it’s even more puzzling given that the (now former) chair person, Muhammed Patel (@Mopey96 – now deleted!) of the Islamic Society at GS hates gay people:

image12

The LGBTQ society standing with ISOC over Maryam’s talk stinks of nothing more than painfully, desperately needing a “cause” to champion, of not having principles and thinking independently for themselves about who it is they’re throwing their support behind.

It shows a distinct lack of appreciation for the work someone like Maryam Namazie does, who it is she speaks for and shows a shocking lack of forethought and research.


Case Study 2: Germaine Greer

Similarly to Maryam, Germaine was invited to speak at yet another University, this time in Cardiff Uni. Prior to the lecture’s date, she made some rather unfortunate and offensive comments on transgender people, stating that “Transgender women aren’t really women”.

Regardless, rather than debate the issue with Germaine at the lecture, and try to convince her that she was wrong, some of the students at Cardiff decided to try and shut her down, by launching a petition on Change.org to try and put a stop to her lecture, entitled ‘Women & Power: The Lessons of the 20th Century’.

So rather than try to engage in a structured debate with Germaine, they tried to outright prevent her from speaking at all. Hardly indicative of young people mentally prepared to test their mettle against one of the 20th Centuries foremost feminist figures!


Case Study 3: Erika Christakis

Erika penned an email in response to a directive from the Intercultural Affairs Committee at Yale University in the US, that decided that students should not wear halloween costumes that “might offend” or “culturally appropriate” minorities.

Erika’s email basically stated that students should be able to wear whatever the hell they like, even if it’s a little bit “offensive or obnoxious”. She asked “whether blond toddlers should be barred from being dressed as African-American or Asian characters from Disney films”.

For any right-minded person dressing your 4 year old caucasian daughter as Mulan or Pocahontas wouldn’t even raise an eye-brow, but not here.

After that, hundreds of students signed an open letter criticising her viewpoint. Following the furore she resigned her post as a lecturer at Yale, and her husband, a fellow lecturer at Yale has taken a semester-long sabbatical, after he had to endure the shrieking of butt-hurt cry babies screaming in his face:


Case Study 4: Tim Hunt

Sir Tim Hunt was asked at short notice to give a talk at the 2015 World Conference of Science Journalists in Seoul. The words in question that caused this particular shit-storm?

“It’s strange that such a chauvinist monster like me has been asked to speak to women scientists. Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab: you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them they cry. Perhaps we should make separate labs for boys and girls? Now, seriously, I’m impressed by the economic development of Korea. And women scientists played, without doubt an important role in it. Science needs women, and you should do science, despite all the obstacles, and despite monsters like me.”

Now, clearly Tim was being self-effacing and somewhat taking the piss, calling himself a chauvinist and going on to jokingly justify that statement by making clearly ridiculous assertions that were taking the mickey out of the people that actually think that way.

Now the talk was given during a lunch for female journalists and scientists, and clearly those in attendance thought that Tim was not being misogynistic as his words were greeted by warm laughter and applause.

But of course that wasn’t the end of it. Someone recorded a short snippet of the talk, cut it to make it look like he was being a sexist pig, and uploaded it online. Then the social media butt-hurt police took over, there was a Twitter-storm, and he eventually had to resign his post as honorary professor with the University College London’s Faculty of Life Sciences.


Case Study 5: Katie Hopkins

Now, Katie is a woman that I, along with a large percentage of the UK population have come to despise deeply over the years. The woman is a shit-stain on the public arena, because all she has ever done is make statements designed purely to revolt, disgust and shock in order to keep herself in the public eye and further her own worthless career.

There’s a famous quote, one all too often mis-attributed to Voltaire, but actually penned by Evelyn Beatrice Hall writing about Voltaire’s attitude on the subject, that goes like this:

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”

And with this statement I agree whole-heartedly. So even though I despise Katie Hopkins with every fibre of my being, I defend her right to say the crap she spouts, because that’s her right to do so.

However, it seems like the students of Brunel University don’t have quite as mature an attitude to her right to speak.

She was yet another example of someone invited to give a talk at a University that was then treated somewhat childishly by the students.

She was part of a panel debating whether the welfare state had a place in 2015 as part of Brunel’s 50th anniversary celebrations, but as soon as she started to speak a large section of the students in attendance simply stood up, turned their backs on her as she spoke, then a minute or so later started filing out of the auditorium.

So again, rather than debate Katie Hopkin’s reprehensible views, they simply refused to engage and instead behaved like a bunch of spoilt whining babies throwing a tantrum and walked out. I wonder if any of them had their fingers in the ears going “LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU. I’M TELLING MY MUMMY ON YOU”


Sadly it seems that in today’s world of overly-sensitive cry-baby students and the ease with which social media armchair warriors and philosophers can shriek the loudest and force the hands of otherwise rational people and bodies to crumble under the pressure and go against common sense.

Instead of strengthening their intellectual capacity, rigour and critical thinking faculties, it seems students and by extension the social-media cry babies would prefer to become intellectually lazy by refusing to engage in debate.


I’M GOING TO USE TWITTER TO BERATE YOUR LIFESTYLE CHOICES AND ALLY MYSELF WITH A RANDOM CAUSE THAT WANTS TO KILL ME! WAAAAAAAA!
I HATE THAT YOU’RE ABLE TO SPEAK TO ME AND I’M TOO LAZY TO EVEN TRY TO OUT-THINK YOU! WAAAAAAAAA

And just before submitting this article to the ether of the web, I came across this little pearl. The president of a small college in the US basically told his students to “grow up” and stop being so “self-absorbed and narcissistic”.

That whenever their feelings are hurt or they take the slightest bit of offence that they play the victim, and that so-called “safe space” policies where dissenting opinions are shut down for fear of causing offence are stunting free speech.

And this is in a CHRISTIAN COLLEGE. And if the Christians are getting pissed off, well boy, you know something’s fucking rotten in the state of Denmark.

Right?

And if anyone’s offended after reading all this?

Then that’s entirely your right.

As it is mine to not particularly care 😉

And if you’ve made it to the end of this monster and are still reading, well done, a Twitter cookie for you!

Legion Alpha: A nightmare for lore fanatics

With Legion possibly not due out for another 7-10 months, and Alpha now entering its 3rd/4th week, I’m wondering at the moment if having public access this early is ultimately a good idea, specifically for story & lore reasons…

Now I say this as a person that doesn’t really mind spoilers, and I do think that the community at large has done a pretty decent job of keeping lore spoilers to a complete minimum. Usually you’d see threads on the MMOC forums screaming them right up front in the thread title: “Varian to marry Sylvanas? WTF BLIZZTARDS>!?” etc etc 🙂

But I wonder how long the community can reasonably be expected to keep a lid on major plot points and NPC character progression? Particularly for those that reasonably don’t want to be spoiled ahead of time, and experience it for themselves?

In terms of testing mechanics, systems and new technologies, yes, an early Alpha/Beta is undoubtedly a great thing. The more fingers prodding the sooner they’ll find something to break! 🙂

There are some systems coming in Legion that will really need thorough testing before hitting live, such as the scaling tech out in the world, the transmog wardrobe, survival hunter rotations etc, and these are ideal for alpha/beta testing.

But should lore and plot progression really be in the alpha at this very early stage? And I mean MAJOR lore and character changes that would have been best kept for later beta stages.

As it stands, I really feel sorry for the spoiler-phobic lore junkies amongst you in the community, because the next 10 months or so are going to be an incredibly nervy time for you… 

50th Article: LF Alliance Guild

Since the re-launch of the website in February this year, this is the 50th article I’ve written on this site!

Just something I thought should be noted, it means I’m definitely updating at least once a week on average, which is better than normal!


Currently on the lookout for an Alliance guild for my current druid (level 92 and not counting!), and future Gnome Hunter. I’m keeping my free level 100 boost from my pre-purchase of Legion for her. Not particularly fussed about server, just that it must be some form of PvE server, RP or not, no PvP servers please!

Nothing more annoying than being attacked when trying to go about your daily business, that would make me lose patience with the game very quickly indeed

Most of my characters are Horde, naturally, and they’re all on Kilrogg EU. However I’m quite happy setting up a home for my Alliance toons on any server in the EU. Preferably a medium-high pop server, with a good raiding environment.

The guild itself should be a more mature guild. This means a fairly stable guild with older players. The one problem that has always plagued me when trying to find an Alliance guild is the ones I’ve previously joined seemed to be full of kids recruiting for the sake of recruiting, to amass the largest guild possible.

Problem is the guilds that form as a result are either completely dead in guild chat *tumbleweed*, or if /g is active, it’s full of kids and idiots that think trolling any channel with a /number is the height of comedy.

/facedesk

I know raiding with a hunter is going to have hard competition in Legion, given the sheer numbers of other hunters out there, but I do love my hunters, and a Gnome hunter is definitely going to get a very significant chunk of my time.

However given the changes to 5 mans in Legion, and the fact that they’ll be competitive with raiding () in terms of gear drops and difficulty, there could feasibly be 5 man dungeon raiders in Legion. I wouldn’t exactly be averse to that TBH!


So further Alpha invites have gone out over the past couple of days, and yours truly has yet again managed to avoid an invitation.

I only wish my avoidance & dodge capability was this good when I was tanking!


Just a quick snippets post this one, and I now have access to write from work, which will be handy. Most of my days in work are reactive, waiting on work coming in, so it should lead to some more frequent posts…

Maybe™