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Stebloke

Greetings. I am Stebloke, and I am a bit strange. This website contains my blog, where you can read about the things I create, the games I play, and any other things I get involved in.

I make this blog mostly because I like to look back on the things I do and feel nostalgic, but also because it really does help motivate me to keep doing things.

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Stebloke's Website ©2008-2022

4th June 2022: I Couldn't Code

So, it turns out my coding skills are not up to much, as I discovered recently that it was possible to create invalid combinations on the new filter page I created back in October.

So I spent most of yesterday completely remaking the PHP and Javascript that creates and controls all the possible filters.

And now it works again. Or, it actually works. Finally.

28th May 2022: The Entire Spectrum

Of all the games that I had played in the past, and still really wanted to complete, this one was the oldest. Dating all the way back to 1983, I tried this game several times as a young lad on our family's old Speccy, but could never figure out what the hell to do. I probably never would have figured anything out this time either, if I'd not watched a Youtube video showing that you need to put several items into a magic box, in order to craft a spell that can defeat the main villain of the game: The Evil Warlock!

Yes, this game is Alchemist.

So, as you might guess, you play as an alchemist. You look a lot like a wizard, and can cast spells, and you fight monsters, and you can turn into an eagle, and the object of the game is to defeat a warlock.

But you're definitely an alchemist.

Okay...

Well, this is essentially an action platformer, though you don't really do much platforming. I guess your old alchemist legs can't do much, so instead, you turn into a bird and fly around the place.

There's also not much action. Sure you can try and zap the enemies with wibbly beams of energy, but I was never able to kill one like that. It also takes forever for your spell energy to recharge. So instead, I just walked into the enemies, and we both took damage until the enemies died. The big advantage here is that there was an ever-respawning food item that healed you, so I just kept using that.

So it's old, and clunky, and only takes about 15 minutes to complete once you've figured out what to do. But I've got to give the game its props. Compared to the other Spectrum games I've played while doing this blog, this one controlled by far the smoothest. Sometimes it would double click when I would pick up or put down an item, and the alchemist would just pick it straight back up or put it straight back down. Which was odd. But that was the only thing that was janky. Well, by Spectrum game standards that is.

But I can finally say I finished it. And that's cool.

Just going for a strut around this funky coloured castle

Just going for a strut around this funky coloured castle

Who ya gonna call?

Who ya gonna call?

The Evil Warlock looks a lot like an angry strawberry

The Evil Warlock looks a lot like an angry strawberry

What an awesome end screen

What an awesome end screen


I maybe only tried this next game two or three times as a kid, where my bro, my next door neighbour and I couldn't even get out of the initial couple of rooms. We were all real big fans of the TV show the game was based on, so were all incredibly disappointed with this pathetic attempt at an adaptation.

But all these years later, I'd still got a little spark inside that wanted to see what the whole game was like. So down I descended into the Dungeon of Deceit, to tackle Knightmare.

So, not going to lie. I had exactly the same trouble as an adult as I had as a kid. I couldn't figure out for the life of me how to get out of the first two rooms. So I had a quick check online in order to progress, and then got stumped figuring out what to do next. Sigh.

The problem is, the game is just too unintuitive, and to be fair, nothing like the TV show at all. I ended up having to follow a guide for pretty much the entire thing. And even following the guide, I did not understand why I was doing most of the things I was doing.

I mean, why am I digging in random rooms in order to dig up pitch? And what the hell is pitch anyway? And why am I drinking this random potion that makes the screen go all wibbly? Just what did it do? And why is the final boss dragon poking its head through a hole in the wall? And why am I defeating said dragon by throwing a jar of fat at it?
Urgh. The game made no sense whatsoever.

The least they could have done is make it feel like the TV show. Here, you have to fight off enemies by throwing rocks at them or stabbing them with a sword, where in the show you could only beat enemies through wits and knowledge.
And the dungeon master, Treguard, could be a bit sarcastic in the show, but here he's an absolute prick who just insults you over and over.

Well, I'm glad this one is behind me at least...

I'm blindfolded. What do you expect?

I'm blindfolded. What do you expect?

Why does Treguard keep calling me a 'pheasant meal'?

Why does Treguard keep calling me a 'pheasant meal'?

Can't have a Knightmare game without some wall monsters

Can't have a Knightmare game without some wall monsters

This is a bedroom? Does she sleep on the floor?

This is a bedroom? Does she sleep on the floor?

Everyone knows you have to throw fat at a dragon in order to kill it

Everyone knows you have to throw fat at a dragon in order to kill it


Of all the computers and consoles I've played games on in the past, my PS3 is the only one I'm fully done with, with no reason to go back to. After playing this next game, I would be entirely done with the ZX Spectrum platform, meaning I could finally tick another machine off the list.

The game is one I played a lot on as a kid. I was sure it was with my brother, but he couldn't remember it very well. Scoob, however, was sure he played it a lot, and even finished it, which is something I can't remember doing. So who I played it with and how far we got will forever remain a mystery to me.

Probably the first ever side-scrolling beat em up we ever played, the game is Target: Renegade. It seemed like an obvious choice for Scoob and I to team up and try to kick this thing's ass, just to be sure.

Well, I did say try.

The effort that Scoob and I put in actually happened all the way back in July last year. We couldn't even get passed the first level after several attempts, so we called it quits and the game was put back into its time capsule. That was, until recently, when I had a proper good single player attempt.

To put it simply, there is no way I finished this as a kid. Even trying my hardest, and utilising the save state functionality to the max, I could only get to level 4 out of 5. It is just too hard to properly control your character, what with this being a Spectrum game. Half the time, you tell him to do a specific attack, and he just walks away, or does a different attack entirely. Sometimes even getting him to turn and face the other way is an exercise in futility.

Still, I got to where I did by using the flying kick a lot to knock down the enemies, then finish them off by beating the snot out of them when they were on the ground. What undid me on level 4 is the fact that most of the enemies can dodge the flying kick, meaning there is no way to quickly knock them down, allowing multiple foes to surround you and hit you from all sides. Add in that you must complete each level within a certain time limit, and with the controls being so crap, it was too frustrating to spend any more time on.

Scoob tries to fight off the villains as I take a nap

Scoob tries to fight off the villains as I take a nap

Flying kicking my way to victory

Flying kicking my way to victory

Getting owned by some buxom lasses

Getting owned by some buxom lasses

Socking a hoodlum in the jaw

Socking a hoodlum in the jaw


Though I failed at the original game, I discovered there was another chance at conquering Target: Renegade. All the way back in 2006, someone made a Windows remake of it that was still available to download.

So, out came my old Windows XP laptop to give this a go, and see what it was like.

Holy crap, this thing was so much easier than the Spectrum version, even though it had more levels. The enemies didn't have the evil intelligence to surround you like the original game, so I could easily line them all up in front of me and keep swinging while they walked into my fists.

In fact, the hardest thing about the entire game was trying to get screenshots, as both Fraps and Bandicam struggled to detect it.

Getting some revenge

Getting some revenge

Lining them up...

Lining them up...

...and knocking them down

...and knocking them down

Twonking Mr. Big

Twonking Mr. Big


So with all of the Target: Renegade shenanigans out of the way, the final nail has been hammered into the coffin of my ZX Spectrum adventures.

There were a bunch of other games I played as a kid, but none I've ever thought about playing again, or have ever looked back on with the desire to complete.

So I can say goodbye to another aspect of my childhood. Ah well, it's not like I'll miss playing Speccy games. With my brain, give it another few years and I probably won't even remember that far back anyway...

22nd May 2022: The Bad Bad Moons

Just finished painting another clan for my Epic Ork army. This time it's the flashiest and shootiest of all da Orks, the Bad Moons.

They are nowhere near as good as I would have hoped, even though I've painted them quite adequately by my own standards. This is because many, many years ago, I ruined most of the models by spraying them with a crappy fluorescent yellow spray paint, and realised too late that the spray had filled in a lot of detail on the models.

Subsequent attempts to strip the models were slow and laborious, and did little to remove much of the paint. And without wanting to wreck the plastic models by risking any harsher chemicals, I sighed and left them as they were.

You can't really tell on these low quality pictures, but if you look close at the infantry, it looks like they are slightly melted almost, as so much of the detail is obscured.

But I guess at a glance they are ok, and as they are yellow, it means I am done with one of the more frustrating and difficult blocks of models that I needed to paint.

So, time to focus on something else...

Time for da Moons to shoot some fools

Time for da Moons to shoot some fools

Some Bad Moons war machines

Some Bad Moons war machines

26th April 2022: 7R + 2

So I've taken some time out of my big OG FF7 replay in order to go through the remake again, as I'd got some unfinished business with it. I also thought I could hit the exact day that I originally completed it two years ago, which I've (kind-of) managed to do.

My original idea was to replay it on normal difficulty again to do all the little side things I didn't do before. I figured this would be good so that I could remember how to play it, while also fully levelling the characters and materia, setting myself up as best as possible for a hard mode attempt in which I would just skip all the side missions and stuff.

However, a lot of the things I was worried about two years ago have proven to be true, culminating in the sad fact that this game is just not very fun to replay. The many, many, very slow parts drag on even more, and I got very annoyed every time the game made my character slow to a walk, or take control of the camera away from me for some time-dragging and arbitrary reason.
So I quickly started to get bored with it, and by half way through I wasn't really fancying another play through.

Instead, I just did everything I could possibly do on this normal replay, and have laid the game to rest.

Admittedly, it's been 21 years since I last played through the original, compared to this one's two years, but I'm having a lot more fun with the old game, which I didn't think would be the case.

Why can't I just use a cure spell?

Why can't I just use a cure spell?

Still haven't patched these textures, I see

Still haven't patched these textures, I see

That simultaneous walk<br /><span class='skye'>(webm video)</span>

That simultaneous walk
(webm video)

Swatting some bugs

Swatting some bugs

Ghostly Aerith. Oh, the foreshadowing.<br /><span class='skye'>(webm video)</span>

Ghostly Aerith. Oh, the foreshadowing.
(webm video)

So what was my experience like doing all of the extra things that I skipped passed before?

Well, ultimately, because I was overlevelled compared to when I should have done them, I found most of these extra things quite easy and probably not as rewarding as they might have been.

In fact, all the way through this playthrough, there were only three fights that I failed to beat first time and with very little difficulty. Up first was the Fat Chocobo battle, because I rushed straight into it with only Cloud in the party, and before I had fully remembered how to play. Secondly, in one of Aerith's simulator fights I came across the phantom who put reflect on itself, making it immune to all of Aerith's attacks. And finally was the battle against Bahamut, who put me on the defensive straight away and made it very difficult for me to hit back.

In all of these cases I won the fight at the second attempt, either with different party members, different materia, or different tactics. The Bahamut fight in particular felt the best to beat, even though I had to leave my fave girl Tifa on the sidelines. But with the extra ranged attacks provided by Aerith, I was able to answer Bahamut's aggression with my own aggression, and wore him down.

I do wish, however, that I had not missed the chance to do Aerith's colosseum fights, because this meant having to replay part of chapter 9 to get back there and tick those off the list.

Some of the other little side mini-games were more challenging. It took three or four attempts to get the top score in Whack-A-Box, and probably 8-10 attempts for me to finally beat Jules in the pull-ups. I just kept pressing the button too early right at the start of round 2. Took me a while to remember to slow it back down. But getting it done was a relief. Also, whoever it was who recommended turning the sound down for this challenge was a genius. Thanks, internet.

Though the slow moments dragged down the experience, there are still plenty of things to enjoy in this game.

It simply can't be overstated how much I appreciate the re-casting of the English voice cast. Tifa's and Aerith's actresses in particular are way better than their previous English actresses. If you hear how they sounded in something like Advent Children for example, the actresses in that seem like they just don't care. Whereas here, they simply knock it out of the park. How neither of them even got a nod at that year's game awards still boggles my brain.

Aerith doesn't like Hedgehog Pie. Don't tell a man called Martin.

Aerith doesn't like Hedgehog Pie. Don't tell a man called Martin.

Who put all these boxes in my way?

Who put all these boxes in my way?

Nailed it<br /><span class='skye'>(webm video)</span>

Nailed it
(webm video)

Barret wailing on a bad doggo

Barret wailing on a bad doggo

Tifa wailing on everybody

Tifa wailing on everybody

And while that, yes, I was overlevelled and combat was much easier, it was still fun using certain tactics and mechanics that I never used in my first playthrough, after reading about them on the internet. Using lots of Cloud's punisher mode and counter attacks was something I only really did in certain boss fights in my first run, but here I was always looking to use it as it really does make you feel like a boss.

Using Barret was also much more agreeable, as I brought in more of his defensive, tanky skills, and also optimised his overcharge a lot better, making him kick out a lot more damage.

But it was with Tifa I had the most fun. She is simply a joy to play, and to watch. That is, if your eyes can keep up with her. It was made all the better because in this playthrough I finally used the L1 shortcuts during combat, so I was jumping around all over the place having a grand old time. It's going to be so much fun seeing her and Yuffie in the same party in future games. The screen is going to be a whirlwind of mayhem.

Two years ago, in the end fight, I got Tifa then Barret to help me out. In this playthrough, I thought I would get the same, as I didn't feel like I'd used Aerith enough to warrant her inclusion. But I was wrong, and it was Tifa and Aerith that rocked up to help me smack Sephiroth down. Though how annoying is it that we still can't screengrab the last chapter, as there are so many cool screenshots I would like.

When it comes to the story, I am still concerned about that ending, and where the story might be going. I'm never a fan of time travel, multiple timelines, or any of that baloney, as 9 times out of 10 things end up with huge plotholes or simply not making any sense. In addition, this is modern day Square Enix after all, so I have a right to be worried. Good old Squaresoft this is not.

However, if they nail it, it will probably elevate the FF7 story to even greater heights in my mind. So I will continue to hope.

Ultimately though, when part 2 comes out, I think I will end up just watching someone else play it, rather than worry about it myself. For a start I don't have a PS5, and don't really want one just for FF7. I already did that by buying my PS4 essentially just for this game. The way it's going, it might still be hard to get hold of a PS5 anyway, even when the next part comes out.
I guess there's always an outside chance I could get it on PC in the very distant future, but that seems unlikely. Square, like many Japanese developers, seem to be madly in love with DRM these days. Such a shame.

Tifa is the pull-up champ<br /><span class='skye'>(webm video)</span>

Tifa is the pull-up champ
(webm video)

That's an ouchie right there

That's an ouchie right there

Hot damn, I love going mental with Tifa<br /><span class='skye'>(webm video)</span>

Hot damn, I love going mental with Tifa
(webm video)

Get that hentai shit outta here

Get that hentai shit outta here

Red comes diving in

Red comes diving in


Scoob and I recently had a little go on two RTS games, just testing to see if we want to get back into that genre.

Up first was Command & Conquer: Red Alert, using OpenRA. I don't remember playing this all that much back in the day, as I only really got into the series for Red Alert 2. But it's a game I own that deserves some gameplay, and hopefully, a completion.

We just played a few short skirmishes against the AI for a bit of fun and as a refresher. I couldn't get into it as much as I hoped I would, and Scoob really didn't seem into it that much at all. But I'm leaving it installed as I really want to play all the campaign levels so I can say I've completed it at last. Maybe this will be the game I play alongside FF7 going into the future?

My dudes try not to get their eyebrows singed

My dudes try not to get their eyebrows singed

My blues and Scoob's reds move in on the yellows

My blues and Scoob's reds move in on the yellows

The pinks having a mammoth problem

The pinks having a mammoth problem


Total War: Warhammer was recently made available for free on Epic Games, so Scoob and I quickly swiped it with our grubby paws. This was a game we had long wanted to try, but didn't really want to use any launchers or DRM bollocks.

But for free, could we really grumble?

After trying a few skirmishes against the AI, I can definitely say that the tactics the computer employs are far better than in the only other Total War game I have played, which was Rome. In that other game, smacking the AI all over the place was no challenge whatsoever, but here, even on easy, we were only winning about 50% of our battles. True, we've only just started to play it, but it definitely seems like it's going to be much harder.

Scoob has started his own single player campaign, but I've not played it since we played these games a couple of weeks back. It's our intention to do a multiplayer campaign, but whether we will ever find the time, who knows.

My Wolf Riders charging into battle

My Wolf Riders charging into battle

Our Ladz look down the valley at the 'Oomies

Our Ladz look down the valley at the 'Oomies

Big spooder, little spooder

Big spooder, little spooder

Engaging an enormous Undead horde. Things do not go well.

Engaging an enormous Undead horde. Things do not go well.

22nd April 2022: Protracted Painting Progress

I finally gave up trying to fully strip the Ork Battle Fortresses, and got them as good as I could. However, there was a problem when I came to re-assemble the Gibletgrindas. I never really caught on when I first glued them together back in the 90s, that the top tower doesn't fit anywhere near correctly into the base. I ended up taking them to work to use a little grinder to take some bits off, and have used to milliput to fill in the gaps.

And now they're good.

Some Orky fillerin' required

Some Orky fillerin' required

Put an order in recently for some more paint, and I've spread my wings a little in order to try some other manufacturers. I still got some GW base paints in order to mix them in with some old paints I have that are very thin and watery. They've worked for the most part, so that's pretty good.

However, as two of my current gold-ish colours are also very thin and near useless, and my old silver dried up, I bought some P3 metallics. Very disappointed is all I can say. The silver is just about usable, but the gold is just as thin and weak as my others. Shouldn't have bothered. The red however is very good, but that is also a base paint so should have heavy pigment. Really like the Vallejo paint so far, but ording over the internet has left me with a dark green colour that I didn't really want. I was hoping it would be more of a military green, but whatever. I can deal.

I've also picked up plenty of paint tubes for the imminent terrain slopping and drybrushing fest that I'm going to have. Got plenty of terrainy things just sitting there waiting for it.

As I've been doing a lot of painting recently, I've been trying to use a wet palette for the 2nd time. When I tried a few years ago, I though it was a waste of time and quickly dismissed it. When I came back to it and looked into it more, I think it was because the paper I bought wasn't really proper wet palette paper. So instead, after having a bit of a light bulb moment when getting very messy eating some Greggs pizza, I thought I'd try to use a Greggs food bag. And holy shit it works a treat. I've been using this for most of my recent Ork and Tyranid efforts. I just cut out little squares as and when I need them.

Just gotta be sure to use clean bags though. Don't think the models would appreciate being slathered in Greggs pizza grease.

Stocking up on supplies

Stocking up on supplies

Greggs wet palette

Greggs wet palette

And in good news, it's been a long time coming, but I've finally finished painting another army in the form of my Epic Tyranids. Took a while to flock their bases, as I think the PVA glue I've got is shite, so I had to do them twice. But they're all done and varnished and ready for action.

The last 4 Tyranid models before and after painting

The last 4 Tyranid models before and after painting

Flocking hell

Flocking hell


For some weird reason I thought it was two winters ago when I started my big push to finish my Epic Tyranids. But as I look back I see it was actually three, just after I finished my 40K Nidz. What the hell? Has it taken me more than two whole years to paint probably my smallest Epic scale army (not counting the unofficial Androids?).

I seriously doubt I'm going to be anywhere near my 4 army target. I just paint too slow, and don't have enough time. Still, I've been pushing pretty strong these last few months, and will continue to.

So at last, a full Epic army is complete, and like their 40K counterparts before them, it is the Nidz who take the honour.

At least the other armies shouldn't be as hard to paint as this one.

Well, maybe the Orks.

And Chaos.

And probably Guard.

Sigh.

All 6mm scale Hive Fleet Odium Tyranids

All 6mm scale Hive Fleet Odium Tyranids

6mm Hive Fleet Odium Hive Tyrants

6mm Hive Fleet Odium Hive Tyrants

6mm Hive Fleet Odium Creatures

6mm Hive Fleet Odium Creatures

6mm Hive Fleet Odium Combat Spawn

6mm Hive Fleet Odium Combat Spawn

6mm Hive Fleet Odium Lictors & Genestealers

6mm Hive Fleet Odium Lictors & Genestealers

Not wanting to let the Tyranids have all the fun, I've also been doing a lot of work on my 6mm Ork collection. The Evil Sunz and Bad Moonz are part way through, but I've fully finished my own clan, Gwapstik's Boyz. These ladz will be waiting to put the boot in on the Nidz or any other enemy that crosses their path in the future.

6mm Gwapstik's Boyz Ork Clan

6mm Gwapstik's Boyz Ork Clan

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