Month: March 2015

Life, what am I doing on my iPad? Part one

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so, it’s gradually occurred to me that a lot of my free time is spent on my iPad. Not a problem really, it’s a hobby of sorts (or several) and it doesn’t stop me interacting with the world around me (unlike a certain tunnel visioned irish woman I live with). The problem is that what I’m doing on the iPad is playing silly time consuming games with no real benefit to me, or my wellbeing or anyone else’s; instead it’s just eating into the free time and depressing me when I’m not getting other things done.

A quick overview for you of what I’ve been playing.

   

The simpsons tapped out and family guy the quest for stuff. Town building games based on their respective shows. A really simple comcept with a whole load of inspiration from years and years episodes. Both games start the same, the main character has destroyed the town through being himself (I won’t be doing yet another simpsons family guy comparison) and you move through levels unlocking new buildings and characters- and later skins/costumes. The Simpsons came first, and started well, moving through the main characters and locations quickly before reaching a bit of a block, with obscure characters and even original (and uninteresting) characters. It was at this bloated point, with interest in the game waning that family guy released their game. Obviously very similar but with a few refreshing changes. The biggest change for me was the sheer number of quests and missions at a time when the Simpsons had become very linear. The Simpsons responded with a clash of clans style update (because of course the best thing any big name can do is mention its main competitor right Coke?). It was at this point my interest in both game reached an all time low. More and more updates had required the investment of doughnuts or clams- or in game currency- in order to get the full experience, which I had neither the means nor the inclination to do. Had it been a normal fee (say a pound for a new character) I’d possibly have been open to picking up my favourites, yet it was a completely randomised syste, with characters costing anything from a few pounds to twenty pounds. 

I kept playing, but more and more felt it was a case of going through the motions for nothing (even the dialogue was dull, the simpsons initial dialogs was witty and sharp) and one day I stopped playing, just like that.

Honourable mention at this point goes to 

 

Sim city build it, similar but far more simplistic yet open than the others. Like the classic game you start a new town and grow from there. I did enjoy this, and regular milestones in the game unlocked new features  keeping it interesting. Unfortunately it became a bit too much of a grind to keep going.

On the subject of grinding, these delightful games are let down by the simple fact that as you scale up the time required to play increases exponentially 

   

  

In Star Trek trexals you build your enterprise  and crew and explore space 

In tiny tower you build a tower and fill it with shops and staff

In pocket planes you buy airports and operate worldwide flights.

All very enjoyable, but all essentially the same, with the same requirement of time problems.

In part two I’ll expand more upon current games, as opposed to already deleted games

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Exercise, back on the road #running

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so, those of you who read my blog (hundreds of you apparently) first of where are the comments? Get to it.

Second, those of you following will notice my running updates dried up. I reached a wall of sorts around the end of April and never moved on. I was on the couch to 5k and it wasn’t going all that badly, however I was ill for a week and when I went back to running I didn’t take a step back, instead moving forward. The exhaustion of that wiped me out and killed all motivation. A trip away meant I just never got going again and the summer hit and it was far too hot to run.

So now, Iv started again with a week one day one and my knees are burning, my lungs are wheezing and I’m just starting to cool down. 

 

The plan was a brisk walk to the park (in line with the apps requirements) ahead of alternating runs and walks on the soft damp grass (60 second runs, 90 second walks) but as I reached the park I changed my mind slightly and stayed on the road, reaching the bridge over the motorway before turning back.

When the girl on the app said “2 runs left” I felt my willpower drop, I drove through the first but when I reached the final 60 second run I just couldn’t get my legs moving.

 

 The stats don’t make a huge amount of sense to me, mostly because the stop start nature of the couch to 5k program skew everything, but it at least gives me something visual to stare at.

The next run is Wednesday (barring illness of course) but for now it’s shower time. 

Books, bastion by Craig gallant @wildwestexodus

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so, with Outlaw mimiatures Wild West Exodus Unfinished Business kickstarter running I figured it a good time to start reading the books. Having finally found a UK stockist I trust (mentioning no names) I put an order in and less than a week later the book depository have delivered the full set of books.

I was torn between starting with the first book- the Jesse James chronicles honour among Outlaws- and the first chronological book – Bastion, in the end settling for Bastion. This being focused around the holy order of man meant it would provide a background on the overall story as well as giving me an insight that I haven’t been too bothered about so far. Whilst I like the models the bulky armour hasnt grabbed me. This actually has been a recurring theme in my interest in WWX as if favoured the more ‘realistic’ elements such as the Cowboys and Indians with less interest in the aliens and mysterious warriors, but the more I play and the more I learn the other races are becoming more and more interesting to me- which can only enhance my enjoyment of the game even if it does come at a quite literal cost.

The book starts immediately with discord and disagreement between key members of the mysterious Etta of the holy order with arguments over prophecies and chosen ones etc etc, which initially had me worried it would be a standard ‘chosen one’ style story, but it quickly moved away from that into the rest of the continent and the major players within the book.

The tale was split between three major storylines (which didn’t seem to be linked even tenuously yet interlocked nicely in their pace and felt as though there were setting up a much larger story in the near future)

The primary story is regarding giovanni Varro, a street fighter down on his luck and in the wrong place at the wrong time (this would be the potential chosen one). He ends up in training to potentially join the holy order after crossing paths with an agent of the dark council.

Second to this is another down on his luck character, a railhead crew leader who’s trainline ends up massively delayed resulting in him working construction in a new town. Meanwhile the local populace is being slaughtered by something mysterious and savage.

Finally, a focus on the active agents of the holy order as they seek an audience with Abraham Lincoln. This story held the most potential (it was also the least resolved) and also provided details on why the Ulysses S.  Grant model looks like this-

 

Overall the book was a good read with my worries of a standard prophecy plot being resolved with the alternate stories and a broad depth of detailing over so many elements of the holy order.

The book also served to resolve my issues  with the  holy order as a gaming faction, I love an underdog so alls good.

Next up will be the Jesse James book, which is slightly more intriguing following a small cameo appearance in bastion.

@mygeekbox March opening anniversary theme

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so, annoyingly the Royal Mail (again) delivered my post during the school run- the ten minutes I wasn’t in the house yesterday- and I missed delivery of this months geek box. 

A quick run into town this morning and I’ve picked it up from the sorting office and torn it open.



I’d heard a few grumblings this month that the box wasn’t very good, especially considering it was an anniversary box, but tried to look at it with an open mind 



The customary tshirt, very cool ghpstbusters/pacman design I like this a lot and will likely wear it tonight at the wee man club.



A doctor who novel, not that fussed but I can add it to the pile and see how it reads.





My vinyl pops so far have all made it straight onto ebay (not risking wanting to collect so many) and this one will likely follow, it’s not a vinyl pop but is essentially the same thing, except you can decorate your own.





Some kind of Spiderman action figure. One of the complaints I’d heard about this months was that it seemed they’d raided home bargains- to be honest this is exactly the kind of toy I’d expect to pick up in home bargains.





Sweets, YAY. Last months didn’t have any so double sweets this time is cool.



A doctor who birthday card, it’s marginally cooler as it has a mini comic inside, but nothing all that great really.





Everything from the box.

As I mentioned, I’d not heard great things about the box and whilst it could have been a lot worse, I kind of have to agree, it’s a little underwhelming for an ‘anniversary’ themed box. Next months the final month of my six month subscription and it’ll need to be an awesome box to convince me to renew.



Books, The Perfect Storm By Sebastien Junger

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So, it happened again. I didn’t finish a book. This time it wasn’t so much the book or the writing but rather the shift in approach midway through.

The problem with the story presented in The Perfect Storm by Sebastien Junger is that he’s avoided fictionalising the events after final contact with the Andrea Gail to maintain a serious piece of writing (something the film chose not to do). I have no issue with this approach, it makes a lot of sense and is also far more respectful and honest than many books written about similar disasters, the problem for me was that I really enjoyed the first hand accounts and interviews interspersed with historical events which had an impact or were similar to the events in the story. When the personal approach was lost it left a strictly academic work interspersed with hypotheticals and guesswork. Again, not in accurate or even speculative, but it became a little more a of chore to continue.

Had I been sensible and kept going then it is of course possible (or even likely) the reintroduction of actual events and witness accounts of the search efforts and aftermath of the storm would have returned again to the level o the first segment of the book, unfortunately I just couldn’t stick with the reading to get through the more laborious parts.

Wild West exodus unfinished business kickstarter stretch goals 

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So, I’ve been covering the Wild West exodus kickstarter by outlaw miniatures and at the time of writing some cool stretch goals have already been hit.

The full list is here 



It’s all looking good to be honest, there’s nothing there that I’m not interested in in some form. I’m a little disappointed not to see the ‘heavy’ models included in the potential plastic models, but it’s understandable given the size of them.

At the current time the following stretch goals have been reached













the first four are included free within their respective bundles, whilst Poncho Villa is the first add on.



And this is the current ‘easily’ reachable models that will be available given the current speed of funding.

Books, which series next?

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So, as you may be aware I’ve been unable to avoid starting series’ of books whilst leaving others unfinished. It’s now at a point where I want to get them finished in order to move on to even more books.



These are the next in line of the series of books Iv got in my pile at the moment.

Master of Sanctity by Gav Thorpe. Dark Angels. One do my favourite chapters of space marines, partly because they’re clearly not as ‘good’ as they’d suggest but also because of the secrecy in which they operate as nobody knows anything until they reach trusted levels and a closely monitored revealing of the truth is allowed to them. It’s a real reminder of working for games workshop. I read the first book of the trilogy Ravenwing about 18 months ago and whilst the story has largely gone from my memory I do remember the focus being on a new member of the Dark Angels vanguard force dealing with the revelations his new position has revealed to him, whilst having to hunt down chaos marine forces and fighting Orks. I also remember a cool vision of bikes racing around a space station as the mysterious dark angel Cypher evades capture or lays a trail depending on point of view. 

Men from the Boys by Tony Parsons. If you read my previous posts on Tony Parsons books you’ll know that whilst i empathised slightly with being a new dad I was outraged by the characters attitudes and bitterness. The second book was worse than the first and honestly I have low expectations of the third. I do however have a curiosity as time has moved on faster than my life has so there may be some insights for me to prepare for.

Nagash the Unbroken by Mike Lee. Warhammer fantasy books about the undead invariably follow the same plot- undead army devastates all before them before the leader is destroyed or incapacitated and everything crumbles. The first in the Nagash trilogy wasn’t much different yet I know Nagash becomes more powerful than at any point previously. Again it’s curiosity that means I’ll be reading this one soon.

The Doom of Dragonback by Gav Thorpe. Another origin of the Warhammer world, this one isn’t strictly speaking part of a series (aside from the large time of legends books) but it ties in very closely with the war of vengeance books of which Iv read two and am waiting for the third and final one later this year. These books establish the reasons for the hatred between the dwarves and elves and so are an important background to the major races of the Warhammer world.

Gotrek and Felix book 2 by William King. I’m actually halfway through this one so I suppose I should really list book 3, but as the pair have a big hand in the end times I feel it’s one of those series I need to get through sooner rather than later.

Lord of ruin by Dan abnett and Mike Lee. A Malus Darkblade book- the last of the series. Except it’s not, the end times has added a sixth (and potentially final) darkblade book, so I’m going to need to get to this one in order to read that one. So far alls gone Malus’ way- not at all as planned but he’s recovering what he needs to and has killed off a good number of his enemies at the same time, so this one will be interesting as a conclusion (even if it’s no longer the conclusion.



The Devils Graveyard by Anonymous. The anonymous books so far have been really enjoyable- the first was theBook with No Name followed by The Eye of the Moon. Known as the Bourbon Kid  series there are now four books and I have the third to read. The books aren’t linked beyond a few crossover characters and locations but they’re really enjoyable.



Manhattan in Reverse by Peter F Hamilton. This is the short story anthology I got from the in laws at Christmas, you’ll have seen previously Iv been working through it and have been enjoying them. I think because he’s keeping it simple by using the current world and changing minor things before exploring what that would do to society rather than attempting to create a whole new world.





Tales of the Old World by various authors. A fairly old anthology of Warhammer fantasy stories from a variety of settings. Being a large collection from a variety of authors the stories vary in content and quality but there have been some good reads in there so far. It’s interesting to read them because they’re from a time before there was any concerted effort to link stories and establish a timeline so it becomes something of a free for all with regards the themes and settings.



The Fall of Altdorf by Chris Wraight. The End Times books were a series I was resisting but I finally gave in and read the first one after seeing a few spoilers as well as knowing that the new edition of Warhammer fantasy this summer will require me to know what’s been going on if I’m to have any hope of continuing to read the books, let alone collect a new army. The first book The Return of Nagash was intense ade major characters started dying and major events in the future were alluded to, such as the fall of the imperial city of Altdorf, so the name of this book suggests we’ll be seeing some of this events first hand.



Hammer and bolter volume 2 by various authors. Similar to the Tales of the Old Times anthology this gives a selection of stories from both the Warhammer World and the Warhammer 40,000 universe, but from a slightly more recent selection meaning the stories aren’t so loose and are (mostly) written within a framework.

So I’m interested in your opinion, what should I read next?

Because of course Iv got these to get through too