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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.

If you want to read about a specific subject, click the "Filters & Pages" button in the top right.

Stebloke's Website ©2008-2022

12th January 2022: Devoted To Games That Work

Now, I don't really play scary games that often, nor do I play them specifically for Halloween. But for this game, I wanted to make an exception. See, this game had been removed from Steam, and denied release on GOG, because the developers had made a stupid joke about the Chinese President. And for some reason, a lot of people are shit scared of upsetting China.

Big whoop is what I think. I mean, we can freely take the piss out of other world leaders and they don't get all arsey about it. So why not China?

So I bought this game, which is called Devotion, direct from the developers when they made it available on their own site, fully intending to play it on 31st October. As it is only a short game, I figured there'd be no problem doing that. No problem at all.

Well, so much for one of my long term plans.

Along came Halloween, and off I set into the game's strange psychological hellhole. I quickly grew frustrated at how slow and sluggish your character moves. And move is pretty much all you can do in this game, as it is essentially a walking simulator. All I seemed to be able to do was slowly walk from one room to the next and do some simple puzzles by picking up items and placing them somewhere else.

Well that's all well and good, as long as the game is otherwise interesting. And to be fair, it seemed to be setting up some strange things in terms of story and characters, and I could have easily carried on, if the game had allowed me to.

See, about half an hour in, I came to a stand still. All the doors were locked, and I had no items to interact with. After wandering around for a while, I looked on Youtube at someone's playthrough, and on their game, another scene triggered which allowed them to continue. I figured my game had bugged, so I reloaded, to no avail. Then I closed the game and restarted, again to no avail. Every time I get to that point, the game does not trigger the next scene.

I suppose I could re-download the game again in case something is broken in the files. But I don't think I could be arsed to muck about much more with it. There's a chance I could come back to it and try again. Or I could just forget it and watch the playthrough. But I probably won't do anything. Got loads of other shit to do.

I've figured it out: I'm a vampire!

I've figured it out: I'm a vampire!

What are all you lot looking at?

What are all you lot looking at?

Ahh, she had a strange taste in men

Ahh, she had a strange taste in men


After trying Devotion I wanted to play something else that also had a little bit of a horror flavour. To get away from all the slow walking, I went with the 2004 game Doom 3, for some fast-paced chaotic fights and frights.

This was a game I'd had prior experience of, as many years ago I'd played some of it with my bro, using a weird patch that let us play it co-op. However, I can't remember exactly what happened, but at one point it bugged out on me, and our playthrough was scrapped.

For this playthrough, I used a community-made source port, called dhewm3, which made my old disc version play better on modern systems, better resolution and bugfixes etc...

Yeah, punch that turkey!

Yeah, punch that turkey!

I see you skulking there

I see you skulking there

Not looking good

Not looking good

Just taking out the trash

Just taking out the trash

Unfortunately, while I have eventually managed to complete it, I found it to be so boring, and an absolute slog to get through. I mean, I've been playing this thing for more than two months, because each time I played it, I couldn't stomach more than about 30-40 minutes.

I just got so frustrated with the gameplay. It was just full of cheap enemy ambushes, and scripted fights that made no sense. The amount of times I cleared an area, only to then get totally dogpiled on just because I'd picked up a PDA with some information in.

And holy shit, how fast do the guns run out of ammo? An FPS game, where your task is to mow down the minions from hell in a hail of bullets, is not the game I want to be constantly reloading, or switching weapons because I'm out of ammo. I want to hold down the trigger, and fucking kill things! Even weapons like the minigun would only let me kill one or two enemies before I would have to duck into cover or run away while I reloaded. So irritating.

But it's done now, and I never have to consider playing this crap ever again.

Zombie marine busts some moves

Zombie marine busts some moves

Don't lose your head

Don't lose your head

I get that reference

I get that reference

Right hooking a demon

Right hooking a demon


One of the games Scoob and I tried recently was an action platformer called Megabyte Punch. I was up for trying this one because it reminded me of an old Mega Drive game we played years ago called Cyborg Justice. In it, you control robots going through levels, beating up enemies, and swapping out body parts to give yourself new abilities and upgrades.

The basic action platformer concept is a solid one, and there were definitely things to like here. But there were far more things to dislike. For example, you don't kill enemies by doing damage to them. Instead, you kill them by doing knockback to them. And the more they are damaged the more they get knocked back, when you do knock them back. Now, this would probably be fine, but a vast array of abilities, and seemingly all of the ones we enjoyed using, did not have any knockback to them. So we could literally pummel the enemies over and over and not kill them until we hit them with some form of knockback. It's such a stupid mechanic.

The platforming elements were also frustrating, with damaging walls, gases and explosives all over the place, especially in later levels. This was even worse due to us playing it in multiplayer. Frustratingly, the co-op mode in this game is only local and only split screen. This means vision is severely hampered. Why there's no LAN or internet connection so we could have had our own monitors I just don't know.

We tried several times to get through the last level to unlock the end boss checkpoint, but try as we might we just couldn't manage it. I even tried on my own, so I had more vision on the full screen and could collect all the bits myself. But even after gaining several bonus lives, I just couldn't get through stage 3. It just got to the point where it was too frustrating, and so we decided to abandon it.

Open fire!

Open fire!

Wailing on the boss

Wailing on the boss

Something just went pop

Something just went pop

Trying to deal with an irritating flying enemy

Trying to deal with an irritating flying enemy


Another game we tried recently was Rampage on the Amiga emulator. A bunch of us used to play this a lot back on my old Amiga in the late 80s and early 90s. However, I don't remember us playing it to try and finish it. Instead, we would run around playing tig like a bunch of muppets.

Scoob joined me again for a proper attempt, and we played for what seemed like ages until it started to get really repetitive and boring. I finally checked how long this game goes on for, which is when I discovered it has no end, and just loops over and over, with the only aim of the game being to get a high score.

Oh well.

George tries to punch Ralph in the armpit

George tries to punch Ralph in the armpit

Ralph getting shot in the eyeballs

Ralph getting shot in the eyeballs

Ralph chows down on soldier sweeties as George smashes stuff up

Ralph chows down on soldier sweeties as George smashes stuff up

Timber!

Timber!

31st December 2021: New Yearly Review Type Thing

It's the end of another pretty crud year, so as part of my new ramblings category of blog entries, I thought I'd look back and acknowledge any progress I've made this year in my hobbies, as well as slap myself for my failures, and set some targets for next year.

Computer Games

Firstly, my main successes this year were in computer gaming, where I've had my best year so far for ticking games off my completion list. A few of these games were also very long by my standards, such as Arkham Knight and Horizon Zero Dawn.

However, November and December have seen a significant drop off on the completion front. But this does not mean I have not been doing anything at all, as several games have been attempted, with some still ongoing. Details on those will have to wait until something gets completed, however.

Going forward into 2022, completion rates will probably dip hard as I'm going to be focusing more on other hobbies. I will continue to try and play multiplayer games with Scoob whenever possible, but on the single player front my only real goal is to play original FF7 again for its 25th anniversary. It would also be cool to tick the last few Speccy games off the list so I can draw a line under that platform. And there's always a good chance I will play a few other games here or there. I have dozens of the little buggers, after all.

Tabletop Games

Things stalled hard pretty early on in my tabletop pursuits this year. Until recently I hadn't painted anything since last winter, and this stupid virus continues to hamper us getting together to play board games much. The only real positive was the playtesting of the new Epic rules which filled me with hope for the future. I have since created a JavaScript army builder which works a charm, but no more real work or testing has been done to the rules.

A couple of weeks back I issued myself a bold challenge to paint all of my wargaming models by the end of next year, but then I remembered how much I hate painting when the temperature is warm. So instead I have modified this challenge, so that now I'm going to try and finish painting 4 armies by the time the temperature gets too warm. I've been kicking on with this challenge recently and things are going well, if a bit too slow for my liking.

After some good work back in Novermber on some new Epic ruins, my terrain build has also stalled. I think I'm probably going to get a 3D printer to create new parts to modify the old Epic buildings. And then I can paint them all together at once. Maybe.

So next year it will be a lot of painting, with some more rules work and terrain building. Some board game meet-ups would also be welcome.

Music

Until a couple of weeks ago I had not touched a guitar or done anything musical since mid 2016. This has now changed with the retrieval of my guitar from the loft, and the purchase of some new recording software. I don't expect much to happen soon, but I just want to slowly try and get back into it, and hopefully have some new song ideas to maybe try and record by the end of next year. The guitar itself needs some TLC, and I'm going to need some new gear such as a new monitor, as my new laptop screen is simply too small for a DAW. Again, just baby steps on this front.

Art

Really not much to say here. I've managed absolutely zero efforts on the artistic front. It's a shame, as I have built up so many resources for traditional art, and have even bought a graphics tablet to try digital art (which remains unused, months afterwards). I get occasional ideas for what to try and draw, but no time or focus to knuckle down and do it. Other hobbies just always seem more important somehow. I guess there's always a little bit of hope, though. If I could just create one piece of semi-acceptable art next year I would be quite happy, just to get some use out of my stuff.

Stories

I haven't tried to write anything in years, and I can't really see this changing. To be honest, this is probably a dead hobby to me, unless I get some crazy idea that fills me with motivation.

8th November 2021: Always Wild. Never Gammy.

<Old Stuff>

Between May 2006 and January 2008 I took part in two large campaigns in the game Rome: Total War, along with a few friends. Calling ourselves the Wild Monkey Generals, we threw our troops against each other in a variety of silly ways in an attempt to kill, slap, annoy, tickle and then maybe eat the opposition...

Wild--Duff-MAN

Wild--Duff-MAN

Wild--Nemishikados

Wild--Nemishikados

Wild--Splapdink

Wild--Splapdink

Wild--Westwood

Wild--Westwood

For some weird reason I thought it was about time I dug out the chronicles of these battles from my old website, and give them a new home here.

Season 1

Show season 1 reports

Season 2

Show season 2 reports

Stats

Show stats

20th October 2021: My Twenty Years Of Tolkien

So, it's coming up on the 20th anniversary of the release of The Fellowship Of The Ring, a fact that is entirely mind-blowing to me. To think that this film came out nearly half my life ago. Staggering.

I am so old.

Well, as I'm now allowing myself to ramble on about any old shite on this blog, I thought I'd try and recount my short but intense love affair with the trilogy.

Me when I want KFC

Me when I want KFC

I've always been quite a nerd, but growing up I was never into classic fantasy as much as I was sci-fi. For example, I always preferred 40K to Fantasy Battle, or Star Wars to something like Conan etc...

This lack of interest in the genre contributed heavily to me knowing next to nothing about the franchise in the run up to the release of the films, a fact that seems incredibly strange now to think back on. But it was true. I'd never read the books, or really knew anything about them, save for a few nuggets of information I'd picked up from a work mate who was a big fan.

It was also a big deal that the internet wasn't such a big part of my life back then compared to now, and hunting for movie and/or game news wasn't really something I did two decades ago.

The first thing I saw of LOTR was when my bro hired the Fellowship on VHS in late 2002. He was watching it at my parents' and there was about 20 mins left when I showed up. So all I saw was the fight against the Uruk-hai and the ending, but I was already very interested.

This was maybe 2-3 weeks before the release of The Two Towers, which I enthusiastically went to see without even seeing most of the first movie. This didn't matter. I fucking loved the movie and I was in.

I snapped up the extended edition of The Fellowship which was recently released on DVD, and I've never before or since gone so hard on a set of discs. I watched them so many times over the next few months I'm surprised they didn't wear out. And strangely, it was the appendices that I watched the most.

I loved the documentaries about the making of this movie, from the lore, to the script process, to the prop and set design, to the filming and editing. There was something so magical and interesting to see such a huge project have so much work put into it and to see it all come together.

R.I.P. toe

R.I.P. toe

Then there was the year-long wait for the next movie, Return Of The King, which became only the second film in my life that I went to watch at the cinema multiple times, and still easily my favourite movie-going experience. Some of the big, impactful moments gave my goosebumps goosebumps.

And then I bought the extended Two Towers DVD set. I probably didn't go quite as hard on these discs as I did the Fellowship ones, but it came close. In addition, this cut of the Two Towers became, and has remained, my favourite film of the series. This is mostly due to how I think the added and extended scenes really enrich the original theatrical cut, something which I feel is lacking in the extended Return Of The King release which followed a year later.

It must be noted here that, even nearly 20 years later, I've still never seen the theatrical cut of Fellowship. My strong belief is that, if I had seen it first, the extended Fellowship would instead be my favourite movie of the trilogy.

So, another year went by, and this time there was no new movie to enjoy, but I was really looking forward to the extended Return Of The King.

As mentioned above, while I enjoyed it well enough, it just kind-of fell flat compared to the first two extended editions. The added scenes didn't really add all that much, and the behind the scenes documentaries were just simply not as good or as interesting.
Oh well.

My addiction to Middle Earth had already started to wane when I finally got around to reading the books maybe a year later, and boy did I struggle with them. Oof, what an absolute slog. I was so fed up with Tolkien's way of writing that I didn't even fully finish the last book. I simply stopped when the ring was destroyed. No Scouring Of The Shire for me, or all of those appendices.

Most awesome scene of an awesome trilogy

Most awesome scene of an awesome trilogy

I'm sure a lot of die-hard fans had trouble dealing with the changes that were made in order to adapt the books to film, but I really appreciated the vast majority of them. I liked how they changed Faramir for a start, and was really glad that there was no stupid Tom Bambadil to be seen. What an irritating character.

On the flip side, the main change I had a problem with was how they used the army of the dead. I much preferred how they were used in the book, but I guess there was just no space in the film for Aragorn's journey through the land in order to build up an army of Gondorians.

For whatever reason, the Hobbit trilogy did very little to re-ignite my passion for this world, and I did not go to the cinema to watch any of those films. I'm not sure why, as I think I'd made up my mind not to bother with the cinema even before news got out that the first film was disappointing.

I don't think I watched them until I picked up the trilogy cheap in early 2017, and I didn't even bother with the extended versions.

Like a lot of fans of the LOTR trilogy, I did not like the Hobbit movies. Though on my second watch a year or two back, my opinions softened on them a little. I think it also helped that I had watched Lindsay Ellis's Hobbit vids on Youtube, during which she really goes into detail about the immense levels of bullshit that went on behind the scenes during the making of those movies.

It's honestly surprising that the movies weren't even worse than they actually ended up being.

At some point, I will have to read the books again, and also read the Hobbit, as that is something I have not done yet. Now that quite a few years have passed, diving into the books may prove to be more fruitful than before. Plus, I need something meaty to read, as I've not done much since reading all of the Witcher books last year.

Other than reading the books again, I can't really see any more LOTR action for me in the near future. I know Amazon are making a show inspired by the Silmarillion, but unless something drastically changes I won't be having anything to do with that at all. Just thinking about all of the franchises I used to love that have been ruined in recent years by the current flock of writers and directors, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Robocop, Ghostbusters and Masters Of The Universe, gives me absolutely no confidence in anything that gets made these days.

And I'd rather not watch some crap that taints my enjoyment of what I think is easily the best movie trilogy ever made.

But that's just me I guess.

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