Archive for March, 2008


WordPress 2.5

Wordpress 2.5A sucker for shiny new things, I’ve just finished upgrading my website backend from WordPress 2.3.3 to 2.5 and as far as I can tell, so far so good. Nothing seems to have exploded and nothing has dropped off. There’s not even a weird, unexplainable rattle or a handful of pieces left over that I’ve no idea what to do with.

In terms of changes, there’s really not much I’ll be taking advantage of straight off the bat. There’s a nice gallery feature but since I’ve not needed (or immediately foresee the need for) such a feature, that’s neither here nor there. I can fiddle with the tags, which is nice. I had some experimental tags I’d put in when I was first faffing with the site that needed binning and they’d annoyed me ever since. Bye-bye to those.

The dashboard is all change with an emphasis on simplifying things. That’ll take some getting use to but it all looks fairly straightforward and some things – like media management, look more fleshed out. The post editor is also supposed to be less ‘intrusive’ which is something I can relate to. I’ve had a little head vs. desk fun due to WordPress deciding what I’d typed into the HTML side would be best changed to something else completely. ‘Search’ now also checks pages rather than just posts. Not a big deal for me personally (I only have my ‘About’ page) but I can see it coming in handy down the line.

All told, there’s some nice tweaks and the fact that updating didn’t tear my hand-mangled theme a new one scores big from me. Right, when is the next update?


Patch 2.4 – Fury of the Mailbox

Patch 2.4 - Fury of the MailboxGlancing through the notes for the new World of Warcraft patch ‘Fury of the Sunwell’ that hits tomorrow (or already has in the US), I came across what was probably one of the most important changes to WoW since launch. Okay, not really but it raised a smile with me and that’s pretty much all I need to start waffling on about things.

Amongst all the regular blah blah about the new area, daily quests, class tweaks, fishing dailies (!) and bug fixes, the thing that caught my eye was this line…

“- A mailbox has been added to the inn in Darnassus.”

Fairly innocuous, you might think? The simple addition of a mailbox, handily placed outside the inn in Darnassus close to the local tradeskill merchants without the need to trek over to the bank in order to access your mail. Yes. Perfectly straightforward. Except…! We’ve been here before. This isn’t your regular tale of mailboxes, oh no. This is a story of mailboxes that includes a hefty dose of stupidity on Blizzard’s part.

A long, long time ago in Darnassus, there was a mailbox. Yeah, no change there. But, this mailbox was situated outside the inn. Ah, see, that got your attention. The only problem was, everyone moaned and moaned and moaned about having to journey all the way from the bank to the mailbox. The players called for a mailbox situated right next to the bank, like other cities, for easy access… and Blizzard listened. Back in patch 1.3.1, spookily enough almost 3 years ago exactly, Blizzard placed a mailbox next to the Darnassus bank… and removed the one next to the inn. Whoops. People moaned.

Skip forward three years and Blizzard have apparently (and finally) seen the error of their ways and replaced the inn mailbox in the new patch. I’ll update tomorrow if the bank one vanishes *wink*


‘The Sims 3′ site live

The Sims 3So the 19th has rolled around and as promised, the ‘The Sims 3′ site has opened it’s doors to a wealth of new… uh, a bounty of… *sigh* okay, okay, I can’t do it. Basically, there’s some screenshots and stuff we either already knew thanks to the exclusive earlier in the month or stuff we could have guessed (more customisation? oh dooooo go on). The site is a bit lumpy at the moment (probably getting hammered from all the attention) so you might get a few time-outs.

I guess I’m a bit miffed because on one hand there’s nothing ground-shaking on the site to really excite me and on the other is the fact I can’t say I’m particularly enthralled with the direction The Sims is heading. The characters are slowly morphing into that ugly kind of generic style you get in Poser renders, with any scrap of The Sims character hard to locate. If you’re going to juice up the poly count, I suppose they’ve got to go somewhere but does it really have to be at the expense of the game’s style? And really? Are we going to rah-rah about being able to make skinny and fat Sims? Sure, The Sims 2 only had two settings but I can’t muster much enthusiasm about there suddenly being a gradient of settings in-between now.

So apart from opening the environment up, there’s nothing really to shout from the rooftops about. I’m probably being a little harsh on the game – after all, earlier today I was praising Persona 4 for being ‘more of the same’. Let’s just hope they’ve got a few surprises up their sleeves to pimp on the site for the run up to the 2009 release of the game.


Persona 4 trailer

Persona 4 TVOne detail I left out of the post yesterday was that the DVD that came with the magazine contained a ‘trailer’ for Persona 4. It hadn’t made a break onto the interwebs at the time and there was no indication if or when it would. Anyhoo, it has.

‘Trailer’ might be the wrong word for it as weighing in at 17 minutes, it’s more like an presentation, or an introduction to the new world and characters of Persona 4. Summary? It’s definitely more of the same. With no way to read the text and a complete lack of understanding of the language, from what I saw it seems our protagonist moves to a rural town, makes new friends and gets drawn into some bizarre occurrences. And, of course, everyone discovers a previously unknown ability.

The long-nosed ‘mentor’ and his entourage is back, riding in what appears to be a limo. School life again seems central as does making social links and discovering back-stories to gain abilities. We see some trotting around a typical looking Persona dungeon, the cards make a re-appearance and so does the disturbing mask-wearing gloop. Of course, now I’m just depressed that it’ll probably be a year or more until I see an English language version of this game (best case scenario – worse case, they don’t bother). *sigh*

Anyway, if YouTube don’t get bullied into taking it down (magazines really don’t like their exclusives plastered all over the interwebs, strangely enough), you can find the ‘trailer’ here.


Persona 4 preview

Persona 4As I have no ‘Woohoo!’ category on my site, I guess I’ll have to file this under ‘Gaming’ and just repeatedly state how stoked I am to see some Persona 4 details in the latest Famitsu magazine. Unless you can get your mitts on a copy, pop along to Akayuki for some dog-rough ‘scans’ (which is apparently code here for ‘ill-framed snaps done with a mobile-phone camera’ as far as I can tell). Despite that I’ll take what you can get and it’s still enough to get me grinning like a fool.

Persona 3 was a great role-playing game for the Playstation 2. It’s the perfect blend of barmy (progression through social networking and dealing with the pressures of high-school life) and dark (John Q. Public transforms into coffins every night at the stroke of midnight and saving the world through placing a ‘gun’ to your temple). Featuring wonderfully stylised graphics and a top notch soundtrack, Persona 3 also wove a compelling storyline with a great cast of misfits.

Anyone who knows me knows I’ve always had a soft spot for Japanese RPGs but Persona 3 was a bit of a double whammy in that it also featured one of my other loves – Roguelike elements. If I was still running my old ‘Roguelike News’ website, I probably would have been raving about Persona 3 back when it came out. Ah, the joy of repeatedly revisiting the same randomly generated level countless times just to spawn that one creature you need… *bliss*

So what does Persona 4 have in store for us? Well, happily, more of the same it sounds like. Bigger, better, a murder/mystery theme in a rural setting where fog spells bad news for someone. Best of all, it’s still on the Playstation 2. Despite Microsoft’s mad-dash to get to the next generation of consoles after they failed set the world alight with the original Xbox, it seems Atlus were quite happy to stick to knocking out classics of the old PS2. Great news for the light-of-wallet among us, with a PS2 sat sulking in the corner.

Persona 4 is due for release in Japan on July 10th. No word on a US or EU release but they’d be mad not to. Fingers crossed and all that.

UPDATE : As some people are hitting my site through this article, apparently looking for Persona 4 reviews, I just wanted to point you towards two newer posts I’ve made that link to a series of reviews. They are…


‘The Sims 3′ soon-ish not soon enough

Games for Windows coverWaiting? Waiting is for wimps and fools! No ticking off the days until March 19th for me. Especially since issue 17 of Games for Windows has an exclusive take on the new ‘The Sims 3′ game. According to 1UP (a part of Ziff Davis Media, just like… oh Games for Windows magazine), GFW has a 12 page preview full of everything you wanted to know about ‘The Sims 3′ but were too impatient to wait for.

Turns out that Sims is going town-wide this time out. No longer happy with having you call up a taxi, endure a painful loading screen to arrive at a ‘lot’ where you realise that all there is to do is dance and grill some burgers (all of which quickly occurs to you that you could have done at home) and then slink off back to your crib (after another painful loading screen) because your Sim needs to evacuate their bowels and pass out. No, instead they’re apparently going open plan and the world outside your door will play a much bigger part in your Sim’s experiences. Um… yay? As long as they bump up the experiences in question to something a bit more substantial, dancing and burgers aside, it sounds great. Also, they hint at toning down the perpetual potty training in the sequel – although I could have sworn they said the same thing about The Sims 2. Pee meters (and other meters) going the way of the Dodo in favour of more discrete moods.

All in all, it’s sounding promising and the magazine article claims to contain even more details than the 1UP (advert) teases at. Looking at the magazine cover, the graphics don’t appear to have improved too greatly so there might still be a chance it’ll happily run on your parent’s next PC, if not their current one.

If you didn’t realise the image took you to the 1UP article, the slow amongst you can reach it here.


Watchmen photos

Watchmen SkoardyOff-again, on-again (and off-again, delayed, re-written, dis-owned, etc.) comic book to silver screen project, ‘Watchmen‘ is making it hard not to get your hopes up by consistently moving forwards. Not happy with just teasing us with a test frame slipped into the trailer for ‘300‘, the suits (and by suits, I mean I clearly don’t know who is in charge of any specific part of the production apart from Zack Snyder) went and cast some actors. Now they have them prancing around in costumes and posing for publicity photos. The cheek of it!

Personally, I have to say I’m quite happy with the casting and costumes. I will admit Matthew Goode / Ozymandias looks a little odd in his photo – a touch weedy but I’m willing to put it down to bad lighting, camera position, make-up or a rather naff photoshop tweak job on the image until I get into the cinema and see the character in action. The rest of them are top notch (that Silk Spectre outfit is waaaay distracting) so fingers crossed that the suits don’t ruin this adaptation like they ruined Daredevil – a film only weirdos like (naming no names, they know who they are).


‘The Sims 3′ info soon-ish

Not Sims 3Everyone’s favourite bowel-movement related micromanagement title, ‘The Sims‘ is getting another true sequel. Yes, I know, as surprising as a weatherman in the UK predicting rain anytime in the country’s future but not only is it coming, it’s coming soon! Or, at least, unspecified details about The Sims 3 are coming soon… and by soon, I mean March 19th.

Yes, EA has a teaser page up for The Sims 3 promising more information on the 19th of March 2008 (and I’ve pretty much spoiled the whole point of visiting the teaser page as there’s no other content there apart from a teaser image – I even ripped off part of that for my little graphic in the top left, too).

I have to admit to being a The Sims fan. I thought the original was top fun and would even consider some of the 7(!) add-ons worthwhile. Then came The Sims 2, fleshing out the game somewhat and bringing a more up-to-date look to the game’s graphics (read as: it’d no longer run as smooth as greased pig-shit-off-a-shovel on every tinker-toy PC in the galaxy). Unfortunately, with the new version came the opportunity to reset the clock on the add-ons and EA went buck-wild with the sequel. Not only did you have 7 regular add-ons, they also churned out a selection of add-on ‘lite’s in the form of ‘stuff packs’ (imagine replicating all the content the community were knocking out for free, but charging you for them). Heaven knows what EA has planned for The Sims 3 but if there’s any extra blood to be squeezed from that stone, you know EA will have industrial-sized presses working 24-7 on the matter.

Personally, I’ve always preferred the console’s take on The Sims with their more structured ‘goal-based’ gameplay than the open plan watch-your-Sim-wander-aimlessly-for-hours-on-end PC experience. I feel that’s mainly come about because of a limitation on the part of old consoles though rather than a desire to take the game in new directions – more that the old tech didn’t have the same specs & storage that the PC platform allowed. This gen is of course all over the place with specs & storage so it’ll be interesting to see if everything once again converges into the traditional aimless gameplay or whether consoles retain their more interesting tweaks. I do hope so.

If I remember, I’ll stick down some thoughts on the information that comes to light on the 19th. Let’s hope it’s not all just about prettier pictures and a long, long road paved in add-ons.


Zack & Wiki Wii Demo

Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ TreasureUntil someone finally pulls their finger out at Nintendo Europe and gives us a proper channel pimping videos and the occasional demo (like our Japanese friends with their swanky Everybody’s Nintendo Channel), I’m afraid we’ll have to make do with this. It’s a simple (one room) Flash demo of Capcom‘s point & click adventure, Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure.

It’s Wii-friendly so if you’ve bothered to grab the Internet Channel when they were giving it away free, you can pop along and s-l-o-w-l-y experience a taster of the game. Once you’ve done that, run out to your local videogame store and buy the damn game! Stuff like this deserves to be hugely successful and you know full well that if you don’t, all we’ll see on the Wii in the future is endless shitty party games. Do you want to be responsible for that? Well, do you!

Man, I miss The Secret Of Monkey Island-style games and I guess stuff like this is the closest we’ll get these days since LucasArts disappeared up it’s own arse to crank out nothing but shitty Star Wars titles. They even cancelled their Sam & Max game, leaving us with those pale episodic imitations from Telltale Games.

Damn, I was so upbeat when I started typing this post. /wrist


Good to be back…

Ignoring the whole “You were gone?” and “Who are you, again?” issues for a moment, let me just say that it’s nice to have a site I can talk at again. I’ve missed it. That is to say, it’s been over a year since I last posted anything to which really is quite inexcusable when you think about it. But don’t think about it because you’ll probably arrive at the same conclusion I did and that is that it doesn’t really matter, given no-one was reading what I wrote. As conclusions go, that one kinda sucks.

But hey, new site and everything! It’s actually a little leaner than the old one while still looking at lot like it. I’ve jumped on the old WordPress bandwagon and I suppose I can finally come to terms with it… I’m a blogger. *sigh*

I also resolve to post a whole lot more than I did previously. Not hard, you might think but when you’re catering to as many imaginary readers as I am, the task just seems too daunting at times. I believe I may have a solution to the problem though – Imaginary Staff! They can do all the grunt work behind the scenes and I’ll bask in the limelight, accepting the adoration for being the public face of! It all evens out in the end.

Anyhoo, the last time we spoke I promised to talk about World of Warcraft‘s first expansion, The Burning Crusade (it’s top fun) and the Nintendo Wii (it also rocks hard, with ‘Super Mario Galaxy‘ being insanely brilliant). There you go.

There are a few ‘broken’ people who are rather down on WoW and the Wii (naming no names, they know who they are) but we ignore them.