Hedders' Ramblings

Gaming, home tech, politics, music, whatever really

NiN

Name a better live band. Go on.

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

This is a game I have been itching to play for ages. A realistic, medieval open world action RPG – what’s not to like?

Turns out: loads. This game has so much potential, but it is completely shot to pieces by the awful, awful combat.

Now, first person melee combat is tricky to get right at the best of times. Vermintide is an example of a game that does it well, as is Dark Messiah of Might and Magic. Skyrim doesn’t do it especially brilliantly, but it gets away with it because of the brilliance of the world. In Kingdom Come, sad to say, the combat is game-breakingly awful. It’s wafty, it’s slow, it’s almost impossible to gauge distance, blocking is a fucking train wreck, and frankly after an hour of the game I want to kill something. Or possible myself. There’s this section where you have to escape from your town when it’s being ransacked, and you steal a horse, and then you get pursued by a load of soldiers with crossbows and there is literally nothing you can do to stop them shooting you dead.

This is where I rage quit. I’m frustrated because the world looks interesting, and the game has the potential to be as brilliant as The Witcher, but it’s just buggered to hell by the dysfunctional combat system.

Oh well. That’s 35 quid I won’t get back.

Stuff that annoys me in games

In no particular order, and (mostly) applying equally to modern and retro games alike, here is a list of things that games do all the time and which really really boil my piss.

  1. Compulsory stealth sections in games with crap stealth mechanics. If you’re going to force the player to navigate a section by stealth, at least have the decency to build solid, fun stealth mechanics. Don’t just shoehorn it in, especially early in the game. It’s annoying, it’s not enjoyable, and as often as not I will just rage quit and play something else.
  2. Escort missions. There has never been an escort mission that’s actually good. No, you’re wrong. There just hasn’t. Ico doesn’t count.
  3. Putting token female characters in completely stupid clothes because “sexy” or some shit. I had thought this cishet-dudebro “hur hur tits” ridiculousness was dying out. Then I saw “Quiet” in Metal Gear Solid 5. I mean, come on people. She’s basically in her birthday suit, and she doesn’t speak. Quiet is to gender equality what Jim Davidson is to race relations. She’s worse than Barbarella, and that was an actual piss-take. And if you find Kojima’s spurious explanation (something about breathing through her skin or some bollocks) even remotely convincing, then I’m sorry but you are definitely an idiot, probably a misogynist and very likely had something to do with Gamergate.
  4. Sub-titles turned on by default. Why. Just … why. I know games have to support sub-titles for localisation or for the hearing-impaired. That’s a good thing. But why are they turned on by default? I can hear and understand English. I don’t need your inane dialogue provided to me in text form too.
  5. Up to jump. One for European gamers of a certain age. See, consoles weren’t really a thing here until the Megadrive/Genesis and SNES era. Before that, we played games on home computers like the Spectrum, the C64 and latterly the ST and Amiga. All of which only supported one joystick button. Which meant that most games which needed both a jump and fire/attack function (i.e. most games) used the single button for fire and up on the joystick to jump. And, rose-tinted nostalgia aside, it was utterly shit. Up to jump is wankballs.

So, yeah. I’m sure there’s loads of stuff I missed. But this is what I could think of for the moment.

My beloved Sussex

Storm clouds gathering over summer fields. I love my home.

8chan and all that

Robert Evans writes again on 8chan and the radicalisation of young white men:

This is worth reading for two reasons. Firstly, it’s an excellent article in and of itself. Secondly, the comments section is a stinking dumpster fire of racists, conspiracy theorists and dim Trump apologists, thus immediately proving him completely correct in his analysis.

Martin Gore

It’s become a tradition of Depeche Mode’s shows that somewhere near the midway point, Martin takes the mic and he and Peter do stripped-down, piano-led renditions of one or two of their older songs. Martin has rather modestly said that they do this “to give Dave a bit of a rest”, which is no doubt at least part of it; Dave Gahan is an energetic frontman with a powerful voice, and now he’s north of 50 it must take its toll. But the results are also gorgeous in their own right. Here’s an example, where they take the poppy, electronics-heavy album closer “But Not Tonight” from 1986 and turn it into a showstopping, mournful ballad.

I’ve always loved Martin’s voice – he and Dave harmonising is one of the best sounds the human throat has ever produced – and this is a stellar performance. His obvious awkwardness at being out front just adds to the charm. And Peter is a wonderful piano player. Apparently they don’t really rehearse these too much – they want to give this section of the show a late night piano bar feel, so it’s sometimes a little ragged and organic, and it’s a lovely counterpoint to the precision of “full fat” Depeche.

I think I know what’s gone wrong

Anyone who’s been paying attention knows that This Sceptred Isle ™ is in deep, deep doo-doo, and it’s easy to blame social media, or jingoism, or the endless stupidity of The Great British Public, or Aaron Banks and his odious “Bad Boys of Brexit”, or the Tories, or Corbyn, or whatever. And I’m sure that all of those things have played their part in our spectacular downfall, but I don’t think they’re the root of the problem. I think it’s this:

The people in charge are just like me.

Now, I’m a reasonably “successful” person; partner in a law firm, big old house, two kids in private school etc etc etc. And the thing is: I still don’t know what the hell I am doing, I do not have a handle on life or on my responsibilities or on the world or my place in it. Not at all. I am just making it up as I go along, winging it and somehow or other I seem to have got away with it so far.

And the government – the proverbial “them” – ministers, MPs, civil servants, senior officials of one stripe or another – they’re all, all of them, doing exactly the same thing. There is no secret cabal of calm, well-spoken chaps (because let’s be honest, they’re all chaps, right?) in good suits with their hands on the tiller, who will somehow make it alright. There are no adults in the room. There’s just a bunch of people like me. And they’re all terrified, and not one of them has the slightest idea what he or she is doing, any more than I do. They too are just winging it, telling people what they want to hear, and hoping for the best.

God help us.

The Raspberry Pi 4

I was lucky enough to get hold of one of these within a few days of release, and I’ve now got samba, Nextcloud and Plex running on it and a USB3 RAID box hooked up as storage.

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Pi – a cheap, credit-card sized multi-purpose computer that can run Linux and connect to pretty much anything. What’s not to like? It’s always been a bit under powered for any serious work though.

Not any more. The Pi 4 is – for its size and price – an absolute beast. I can be streaming music from Plex, uploading files to NextCloud (with encryption turned on) and working on files over SMB, all at the same time, and it barely breaks a sweat.

I’m flabbergasted by the thing, really. Performance comparable to a lower-end x86 from just 6 or 7 years ago, in a form factor the size of a credit card, and for less than 60 quid even for the 4GB RAM version.

Eben Upton deserves to be extremely rich.

John Robertson

One of the best, funniest, angriest comedians I have ever seen. Criminally underrated. If there were any justice in this world he would be filling the Palladium, instead of doing improv in tiny Newcastle nightclubs. Watch and enjoy.

Last of the Mohicans on an Oud

I’m a sucker for a clever cover version, and this one of the cleverest I’ve seen in a while:

Really like this a lot.

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