Bark at the Moon – final assault.


So, this weekend I’m heading to Beckenham, and while there I’m finally going to conquer Guitar Hero’s evil overlord Bark at the Moon on Expert, I swear to God and Holly Hunter.

However, I’m going to need some assistance.

Geoff – could you print this out in readable form for me?

and if you can figure out a way to print this chart, that would be grand too : [right click save-as-ing should get the whole thing.]
{and yes, that here is 1200-ish notes in just under 4 minutes}


Armed with these tools and ungodly amounts of tea, I will conquer the beast.

UPDATE: 97% … Grrrrrr.

Go with the flow, pomo.


[I’ve written about this before, but here’s another stab in the dark]

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience,” describes flow as

“being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”

Reading this got me thinking about ‘the zone’, which is just my mental sticker for what this chap calls ‘flow.’ Great games are one that smooth the passage into the zone, and keep you there. Duff games are ones that trip you up on the way.

Tekken puts me in the zone, sometimes. Pro Evo gets me there longer and more often, which is why I play it every day. I have moments of being in the zone with Guitar Hero, but just small patches in songs usually, rather than whole songs, or whole sessions. Elite & Civilisation were early masters at helping players into the zone, and then locking the door behind them. Ted Friedman said in a research paper that:

“When a game of [CivII] really gets rolling, the decisions are effortless, instantaneous, chosen without self-conscious thought. The result is an almost-meditative state, in which you aren`t just interacting with the computer, but melding with it.”

When come friends and I installed CivII on the Utica College computer systems, we played throughout an entire Sunday without noticing the passage of time, which isn’t all that unusual. I guess World of Warcraft might be the modern pinnacle of flowtacular gameplay, but having yet to try it I can’t say for sure. But my main point being, games get you into the flowzone faster and make you stay there longer than most other cultural artifacts, and that’s largely why I love them.

All about flow – (37signals)“Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience,”

Which of the following superpowers is properly evil?


So, Eurogamer is having a competition to win City of Heroes, City of Villains, and a bunch of other stuff. The question above is followed by these possible answers:

Flight – Invisibility – Being able to do sums quickly in your head – Universal Parking Permit – Three hands – Every time you clap a kitten dies.

And I’m torn. Because cats are inherently evil, and so being able to kill babycats by clapping sounds Good to me. And doing sums quickly in your head would make Dustin Hoffman’s character in Rain Man an Evil one, when we all know that Tom Cruise is the font of all Evil… and flight is out, thanks to Superman. Invisibility? That was pretty evil in Hollow Man… Having three hands might make Bark at the Moon on Expert finally doable [i’m still stuck at 63%, damnit]…

Thoughts please.

Taxi! Follow that ape!


So my youngest nephew lent me King Kong today, and it’s awesome. So far, at least. I’ve yet to play as Kong, but the 1st-person Jack parts are grand. There’s something Zelda-ish about the internal consistency of the world you play in, as you can use the environment to best the monsters, and induce the monsters to eat each other, which is a good thing, as when they start eating you, you don’t last long. The lack of any HUD is a blessing, with the state of your ammo related by Jack telling you how much he has left, and your invisible life bar being in one of three states – alive, mostly dead, and dead. Which seems about right on an island populated by giant spiders, various giant lizards, and oh, yeah. A great big ape.

— ooh, Barry from Eastenders just called David Blaine a cunt on C4. I love that while Americans crowded round his Times Square iceblock with signs of support the British responded to his 40-day fast by flying remote-controlled helicopters carrying bacon-double-cheeseburgers round and round his elevated glass box.

For those about to rock…


We salute you.


When I can afford Guitar Hero 2 I’m seriously considering buying one of these beauties to play it with, as there’s nothing that fills me with the power of rock more than a long slithering chord slide. Probably won’t help me nail those ultra-hard solos, though.

So you want to be a games journalist?


In response to an abysmal article on which explores how to become a games journalist, a near-dozen of the intarwub’s brightest gamehounds have doled out healthy chunks of advice-meat. Feast upon it!

Kieron Gillen’s Workblog
Affectionate Diary
Tracker Bill
Richard’s Online Journal
The Triforce
Mathew Kumar’s Workblog
another little disappointment
World of Stuart
Dubious Quality

  • Update: James/Pentadact goes all meta on their arse, and introduces me to the concise beauty of tl:dr. …link…

Becoming a games journalist has never really tempted me for two main reasons, I think. The first is that games are my hobby, and I don’t want them to also be my job. The second is analagous to the reason I never wrote an essay or dissertation on Vonnegut – I loved his writing too much to let it spoil in the glare of detailed examination. Also, as some old friends pointed out over the weekend, I can be ridiculously idealistic still, and games journalism seems an industry particularly fraught with pork buffets and conflicts of interest.

Ah well, one career-path knocked off the list in the great life-hunt of late 2006. Only several hundred-thousand to go. Next on my to-be-considered list – fluffer.

weekend slayage


So, and yes.

I’m off to blatter undead for the weekend. In Guildford. I may be yearning deeply for this return to the South – I spent the morning in Manchester proper, and realised I have no love for this city. Not an ounce, scintilla, jot or iota. But give me a few weeks & I’ll surely say the same about Essex. Does Budapest beckon? Mightily.

What passes for normal service will resume Sunday/Monday