Specialist Technician. PC Gamer. Stargate and Star Wars Fan. Computer Geek. Military Enthusiast. Science Enthusiast (Nut). Mountain Biker. Photographer. Cinematographer. Audiophile. SketchUp Modeller. Video Editor. Audio Editor. (No, my name isn't really Shane M. Schofield...it's an inside joke.)
It has been ages since I wrote a blog post, but I thought to list and write a bit about some games I played for the first time in 2013. Without further ado, here's the list in alphabetical order:
- Ace Combat Assault Horizon
In two words: frustratingly bad. I'm not sure I've played another game with controls so poorly thought out. Additionally, the repetitive combat was boring. I gave up on it after an hour and a half. The planes looked nice enough though.
- Batman: Arkham Asylum
Enjoyed it, looked great. One my gripes about this game is that it tries to be open world, but it really isn't, you get funneled into an area and don't really have much of a choice when you enter combat. Speaking of combat, I thought it was a mouse clicking fest and boss battles - especially the Scarecrow dream sequences - got pretty tedious and boring after the second one....dodge, attack, repeat.
- Batman: Arkham City
Haven't finished this one yet, but it is visually impressive and combat has been slightly refined. Oh, and it's open world!
- Battlefield 4 (Multiplayer Beta)
I played the public multiplayer beta for a week. While it had plenty of eye candy and the destructible environments were nice, I felt that it didn't offer much over Battlefield 3.
- Castle Crashers
Fun, but you really do need friends to play with you to have fun.
- Chivalry: Medieval Warfare
Also good fun, especially with friends. Can be quite buggy at times. Watch out for that back swing!
- Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Not sure why I didn't play this one earlier. Enjoyed this one immensely, with it's excellent storyline. The combat system wasn't the best and boss battles felt a bit out of place, since the game encourages a lot of stealth. It does take a while to get into, but it's worth it.
Another title I enjoyed, there's a lot of freedom within each mission with choices affecting the story and later missions. Combat was well done and the powers had the right balance as to not feel OP. The storyline was quite good too.
- FTL: Faster Than Light
Possibly my favourite game of 2013. The game is quite easy to pick up and start playing, but it is difficult to master. Lots of depth, since each playthrough is unique and you have a whole lot of ships you can use. It can be frustratingly random at times, with ship crippling events, but that's why you have to play it smart. More risk, more reward, but expect to die...a lot.
- GRID 2
Not a bad sequel, updated visuals made the game look very nice and car handling was a bit on the arcade-y side. The career mode was a bit short, but still good, I would have liked to see a perpetual career mode similar to GRID 1. Additionally, the racing AI wasn't really as good as NFS:SHIFT2. The variety of game modes is a plus for multiplayer, but I was annoyed at the stack of DLC that you had to buy if you wanted to drive a certain car or on a certain track.
- Strike Suit Zero
Not sure what to make of this one, it looks nice and is fun, but can be frustrating at times. The checkpoint save system can be improved, I think I played one part of the game where some captial ship had to be destroyed (or something) about 9 times before I fluked it and progressed.
- Takedown: Red Sabre
I had high hopes for this game, being a fan of tactical shooters and all that. But the quality of the game was much lower than I expected. Didn't play it very much, co-operative missions are fun, but once you are dead, you stay dead. I would probably say this game is a less polished version of R6: Raven Shield.
- Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist
For the 30 minutes I've played, it looks good and feels a lot like SC: Conviction. Why haven't I played more you ask? Because the bloody game launcher keeps crashing on me...come on Ubisoft support, I'm waiting for your response.
Well, I continued to work full-time, been doing some 3D modelling, taking some photos. Got some new "toys": a Nikon D610 DSLR, Corsair Vengeance K70 keyboard and some other stuff.
Speaking of keyboards, I want to follow up on the last blog where I complained about the new ThinkPad keyboard. After using an X230 for a year, I'll admit that I was wrong on the "it will feel horrible" part. But if you would kindly take a look at the keyboard of the new X1 Carbon (2014), I think it's really screwed up this time.Happy 2014...see you next year! :P
First of all, this is a rant about Lenovo's decision to use chiclet/island type (i.e. Apple style) keyboards on their new ThinkPads, so feel free to go back to whatever you were reading if you're not interested. This issue probably won't bother many people, but having owned several models of ThinkPads (R31, R61, R500, SL410, X201, X220t) it is something I feel rather strongly about.
I have used ThinkPads since primary school, but if you have ever used a ThinkPad, you probably will have noticed the excellent tactile feedback and comfort that the classic keyboard delivers. Typing on the keyboard for long periods of time doesn't make my hands fatigued and I can touch type flawlessly on it, I suspect that many ThinkPad customers will also agree.
Recently, Lenovo refreshed their ThinkPad line with the new Intel "Ivy Bridge" CPUs, a welcome upgrade, however they also went ahead and replaced the "classic" keyboard that many users have grown to love with a new keyboard they call AccuType.
Lenovo already uses the AccuType keyboard on their consumer orientated IdeaPad laptops and on the ThinkPad Edge line, but to mess with the core ThinkPad line - which has been around for 20 odd years - is playing with fire.
In my view, three things are wrong with the keyboard. They have moved some of they keys around, due to a new 6-row layout, the island type keyboard looks too spaced out and the keys have a 2.0 mm stroke. The new layout is a little annoying, but the increased key spacing and decreased stroke from 2.5 mm is what worries me. You may think 0.5 mm, so what? But you will notice if you have been typing on a ThinkPad for years.
Now I ask, why do this? Why mess with a formula that makes ThinkPads different? To me it's a marketing initiative to make it look like a Mac, because isn't that what all the other laptop manufacturers are doing these days? I don't want a damn Mac clone! I want a bona fide laptop. You know, one with a real keyboard.
Change is good, maybe the new keyboard is better. But do you want to alienate customers that have been using the keyboard for almost two decades? At least give customers a choice.
Admittedly, I have not typed on one of the new keyboards, but I have used two of their current ThinkPad Edge laptops which use the island type keyboards. I can tell you that while the feel is similar, it's not the same.
I will be making my last ThinkPad purchase very soon, a T420 with a classic keyboard. For me, there is no more reason to buy ThinkPads other than any other laptop, they're all Mac clones now.
P.S. I typed this blog on an SL410 with the classic keyboard, which is still a joy to type on. :)
It's about 1:30AM and I can't get to sleep, so what better to do than write a blog post that you've been meaning to write for the past month or three...
First thing's first: Stargate Universe. Yes, it's already been a while since the end of SGU, and its cancellation is old news. But I'm just going to write an opinion piece on it anyway. If you remember, after the first half of season one, I was still on the fence, however I thought the rest of season one and two managed to strike the balance between old-school Stargate episodes and the new style they were aiming for. I really enjoyed most, if not all of the episodes following the first mid-season break. But alas, it was cancelled. Firstly, I want to acknowledge the SciFi channel for their contribution to the longevity of the Stargate franchise. However, after their new vision and renaming to SyFy, I think things have gone downhill for good science fiction television, if it sounds like SyFy it's not SciFi.
I think that they were too impatient with SGU and messing with the TV scheduling did not help at all, I respect that they are running a business, but more risk, more reward. Ending SGU on a cliffhanger was a big mistake, SGU's third season would have been EPIC, that's right EPIC, but the flawed ratings system along with SyFy's insistence to air WWE, tacky reality TV shows and cheap TV movies ultimately led to SGU's demise. Now that SGU is gone, the hopes for an SGU movie and the SG-1 and SGA movies have also been dashed, sure there's always hope, but the reality is that these movies may never be made. I fear that Sanctuary will also suffer the same fate as SGU. What we witnessed was the untimely end of a legendary franchise and the death knell of good science fiction television.
So, in other news: Portal 2. Overall, it's a great game, it's quite impressive to see what they can do with the aging Source engine. The new gameplay elements such as the excursion funnels, hard light, and various gels do make things more interesting, but it mostly remains the same. I felt that the singleplayer campaign could have done with another level or two, but the co-op multiplayer certainly made up for it. Although the voice acting, sound and graphics cannot be faulted, level design could be better, by better I mean make it less obvious where to put portals. Having a small white wall panel against a big brown wall is way too obvious. As a side note, while I was listening to developer commentary (yes, I listen to commentary, sue me), they mentioned that most players said they didn't know want an emancipation grid was from Portal, so they had to modify a puzzle to make it easier on players. The most annoying thing were those damn loading screens, they just cause too much disruption in the flow of the game, especially during the first part of the game. The first DLC pack will be out pretty soon, and it will be interesting to see what Valve has to add.
Also, I'm planning to build a new PC within the next month or two. Proposed specs are: Core i7 2600K, ASUS P8Z68 Deluxe, Corsair 8GB Dominator 1600 RAM, OCZ Vertex 3 120GB SSD, ASUS GTX570 DC2 GPU, Corsair HX750 PSU, Coolermaster CM690 II Advanced and other components from my existing computer. It should come to a total of around $1.8K AUD. Any suggestions or comments on these parts are welcome.
E3 is coming up, I'll be keeping tabs on it as usual. Battlefield 3 looks really, really good, hence why I'm getting a new PC. Although, GR:FS was delayed. Again. And there's this Ghost Recon Online shooter coming soon...not sure what to make of that. Either way with or without more delays, I've got a stack of games on my "to play list".
Mid year exams are coming up, so it's going to get quite busy. And on that note, I'm going to stop rambling and get some sleep now.
P.S.: if I'm incoherent, or if you spot any grammatical or spelling errors, forgive me, late night blogging isn't something I do on a regular basis.
So the holidays are nearly up, didn't get as much done as I wanted to. I start work again this week and will start my final year of university in about a month, it feels weird saying that. So after this year, I'm supposed to have a full-time job; Are there jobs out there? Am I ready to work?...or should I say on and do post-grad? Just a few of the questions weighing on my mind. Yeah, I think too much.
Moving on....to regular programming. New year means new games, right? A lot of sequels are being released this year...bloody CoD MW3 is coming in November, it seems like they are milking the franchise, so to speak. I'll be on the look out for Portal 2, NFS: Shift 2, GR: Future Soldier and OF: Red River. I'm hoping for some "innovations" in game play, but I don't expect much difference with Shift 2 and Red River. SW: The Old Republic has sort of dropped off my radar, it just seems like another MMO with a "Star Wars" sticker on it, we'll see.
A whole bunch of films are scheduled to be released this year...quality not quantity, people! My line up of movies to watch includes Sucker Punch and Battle: LA. Both look quite good, especially Battle: LA. Not so sure about Real Steel, Mission Impossible 4 and Transformers 3. I really liked MI:3 and J.J. Abrams' directing style. For Transformers 3, I predict that lots of crap will be blown up with a slow motion running shot of the hero(es).
As for TV, most of my regular viewing has been renewed, except SGU. You may remember that I was still on the fence about the first season of SGU, the first half of season 2 has really impressed me. So as a TV show is improving the brain-dead PTB cancel it. I am extremely irritated that a lot of the "smart" shows with good writing and complex yet elegant storylines don't get much of a chance. If only some one created a "true sci-fi" channel....WTF is WWE doing on SyFy anyway?
Also coming up, the Air Show in early March. I'm especially excited this year, because the F-22 Raptor, B-2 Spirit, E-3D Sentry and a Wedgetail AEW&C will be there, probably because it's the RAAF's 90th anniversary. Not sure if they will just be a static display or a flight demonstration, I'm hoping for flight demo. Hopefully it doesn't rain, fingers crossed! I'm also heading to an ice hockey match in Melbourne (yes, we have ice rinks here) for the 2011 World Championship (Div II, Grp. A). I'll be at Australia vs. Serbia, I was hoping to get seats for Australia vs. New Zealand, because we beat them 58 - 0 in 1987, but alas it was sold out.
It's been quite a while since the last blog, but what can I say? I've been busy. University has been over for about a month now, so I'm well into the holidays now; the time for relaxing, and as you can see, I've designed another model for the star fleet. The Razor - Class Strike Fighter was built over 2 months, with the cockpit taking the longest to perfect, I went though about 18 cockpit canopy variations and 6 cockpit layouts. The other parts of the model were relatively easy to get "right". You may notice that the forward section was inspired by the one from the Y-Wing Bomber in Star Wars. The single seater version is 12.2m long, the 2-seater is 13.5m long, the wingspan is 8.4m and it is 1.85m high (2m with landing gear). Armed with 4 plasma cannons, 2 proton torpedo launchers (5x torpedoes each) and various missiles. I might get around to texturing and rendering it.
Okay, so that's that, I really haven't been doing much else, besides working on a video project. It's just the usual gaming and working. Speaking of gaming...for me, 2010 was the year of video game disappointments (although there were a few really good games): Medal of Honor wasn't great, CoD Black Ops seemed rushed, SW TFU2 and HAWX2 looked nice, but were more or less the same as the first, F1 2010 took a major shortcut in AI design and Supreme Commander 2 has made me lazy (when I went back to SupCom Forged Alliance, I was getting owned). Hopefully 2011, with Portal 2, Homefront and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier will be much better. The Blue Portals: UP mod is pretty good, although frustrating at times.
Stargate Universe is getting better, although some of the plot twists were very transparent. It will be interesting to see how the Destiny will get out of the sticky situation, I can't wait for the couple of cross-over episodes in the 2nd half of season 2.
Anyway, enough mumbling from me. Talk later.
Well, today more or less marks the half way point of the year, not that I'm counting. I'm in mid-year holidays, so there is much gaming on the horizon. I think I'll play Half-Life 2 again because they brought out all these new achievements, this will also be a good time to play Flight Simulator X (finally). More G Mod, Portal, SupCom2, SWBF2, SoaSE and EaW, among other games are also on the cards. With and without mods, of course. Oh, and I recently bought a Logitech G110 gaming keyboard...I tried it for a while, didn't like it, I just found that the G110 keys were a little too tacky and that they were too high. I went back to my trusty Microsoft Sidewinder X6; detachable numpad FTW!
Stargate Universe season 1 is over, I must say that it got better over time. My favourite episode is still "Time", you just can't beat a classic time travel-parallel universe story. "Pain" is a close second. It was quite a let-down when Matt, Chloe and Eli just show up on Destiny, with little explanation after getting stranded in another galaxy, it seems like the writers just hit the "reset" button. I foresee that the Lucian Alliance will get their collective asses kicked in the near future, but I hate these cliffhanger endings. Also, Rob Cooper is leaving Stargate, it's hard to underestimate his work in shaping the Stargate franchise as we know it today. Best wishes on his future endeavours.
The absence of Stargate Universe for 6 months leaves a large gaping hole where the sci-fi used to be. I might hold a Stargate marathon of sorts, hmm, 3 movies and 15 seasons of Stargate will take a while to watch... and yes, I'm still working on my star fleet, although not so much nowadays. But rest assured, the Lancer Mark II will be finished sooner or later, I mean I've already made 86 modifications, so it would be crazy to abandon it now.
Going to be overhauling some servers at work too, it should be fun. Speaking of work, next semester's university timetable looks pretty good, only 2-3 days a week (to be confirmed), I've just got to make sure I use the extra time at home wisely...
That's it for this blog. The wait for exam results can't be too healthy. Talk later.
It's been quite a while since the last blog, but now seems like a good time as any to post a new blog...well, not really. My first exam is in 3 days, which happens to be a public holiday and the first day of E3. WHY?!
So, I will be looking out for these games (in no particular order) at E3:
In other events, I went to the Digital Life photography expo last week. Got to use a lot of expensive cameras a lenses. My favourite camera and lens combo was the Nikon D3S ($7,500AUD) and the 600mm f/4 VR ($17,000AUD), it amazing telephoto reach. Also, 9 FPS is crazy, somehow it felt like using an automatic weapon. I also got to use other various Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Olympus, Panasonic and Samsung cameras and lenses. So, now I'm tempted to buy a 105mm f/2.8 macro lens and a new full frame DSLR.
Going to attempt to study now. Talk later.
UPDATE 3: Installed FSX: Acceleration, still haven't played it.
UPDATE 2: Found FSX: Acceleration, the funny(?) thing is that the expansion pack costs more than the game...oh well.
UPDATE: Just discovered that I need to buy the Acceleration expansion pack to be able to fly the F/A-18 Hornet...DAMN IT!!! No, the store didn't have Gold edition.
Quote of the blog.
It's been a while since my last blog and it's already time for the mid-semester break, which also happens to be Easter. It's just one week long, but it's welcome; I have a few assignments though. Programming with Java has been okay, wish it was C++ or something else. I've let gaming take a back seat for a while, which seems to have paid off. After quite some time, I've finally gotten myself a copy of Flight Simulator X Deluxe, it's going to be fun! On the other hand Just Cause 2 was just released, but I'll need Windows 7 to play it and I'm can't be bothered installing W7 right now or in the near future.
Stargate Universe returns in two days, going to be sweet. Also, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier will be supplemented with a short film and the trailer for it looks pretty intense. Hopefully the game lives up to the quality of the trailer. Have been working on Lancer Mark II intermittently, most of the major modifications are done, except for the hangar, will continue to work on it. Stargate Worlds looks like it's in pretty bad shape, hopefully everything works out. But seriously, I think they should have started off with a good ole FPS (like SG: Alliance) and not some huge MMORPG.
Going to fly some planes now. Talk Later.
Good Gaming and Good Modding.
Quote of the blog.
The first week back at university is over, my units seem to be interesting...I think I'm going to enjoy Network Administration; not sure about Programming 2 though. One of my lecturers reminded me of a slightly less insane Steve Ballmer, he seems really zealous, but I guess that's a good thing.
It's been pouring rain and hail over the past few days, has caused flooding in some areas. The rain is good, but when you're driving in this downpour, things can get a little hairy. Visibility was very poor, even with the wipers at full speed. I was also caught outside during the rain, got fully soaked in about 40 seconds. Did I mention the hail? Luckily my area wasn't hit, but a few of my friends houses and cars got pelleted with a barrage of 10 cm hailstones...windows were smashed and one of my friends' car now has 104 dents. Apparently, the damage is estimated to be around $200 million AUD. Not much lightning though, I was hoping to snap a few shots.
In terms of the gaming scene, I was meaning to buy Supreme Commander 2, but after reading some user reviews, I think I'll hold off for a while. It seems that that SupCom 2 has been simplified and been made less strategic. Some of you are possibly wondering about my little update of the Lancer. "How is it going?", you ask. In short, it's not. I haven't actually worked on it in about 2 weeks, I'll see if I can finish it off soon. Been doing some video and photo editing as well as working...got to build and install servers. :D
That's it for now. Talk Later.
Good Gaming and Good Modding.
Quote of the blog.
Just a short blog. You're probably sick of hearing it, but I recently decided to open the archives and fix up the Lancer - Class Star Destroyer before moving on to building other models, however a "minor update" became a full blown overhaul. Suffering from mild OCD and being a perfectionist doesn't help either, I've already made 33 types of modifications/fixes/tweaks (many more individual changes), with more on the way. Some changes are subtle, others changes not so subtle. A hangar will be modelled for the Mark II version. I'll paste my change log here when the update is finished.
In other events, it's been raining...in summer, which is pretty unusual, but is a welcome change from the heat. Just reviewed the cost of my 4 textbooks for this semester: $450...yeah. The Vancouver opening ceremony was quite impressive I think. Too bad about Nodar Kumaritashvili, a sombre reminder that some sports can be dangerous.
SketchUp is a trap! Talk Later.
Good Gaming and Good Modding.