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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

22nd July 2022: Amiga Marathon 1: Going To The Movies

After putting the Spectrum platform to rest, I've been looking at finishing off some of the other retro games I used to play in the past. As I still have quite a few Amiga games to attempt, I decided to move forward with some of those first.

After looking down the list of games, I saw many of the Amiga titles group together quite nicely. This first group I'm going to attempt are all games based on movies.


I just had to try this game, which is based on my favourite movie of all time, Jaws. I had this as a kid but never really got anywhere in it, but I figured I could do better than that as an adult. I quickly learned I was very wrong.

There's no way to mince words here. This game is utter trash, and the people who made it should be ashamed of themselves. Not only is it frustratingly tedious and boring to play, it has absolutely nothing at all to do with either the book or the film. Well, except that there's a shark in it. A shark which you never see, because 99% of your time is spent trying to make your way through an underwater labyrinth where the shark does not go.

And why do you have to go into the underwater caves? Why, to find pieces to a big gun that can kill the shark of course! I mean, why would the gun be anywhere else?

Anyway, I remembered all this going in, and I kind-of knew what to expect. I set myself up to give it as good a go as possible, and during my first forays into the game I started to make a map of the underwater maze, so I could plot where the parts to the gun were. Several attempts didn't see me getting very far, as the submersible is hard to control and many, many things are out to kill. I started watching a longplay of the game on Youtube, marking on the map with simple arrows where that player went and where the parts were.

However, it was watching this footage that turned me right off the game. Whoever was playing it was incredibly good and very well-practised and very patient. And even then it was taking them a long time to get around and find the parts. I decided I didn't have time for that, and promptly gave up. Life's too short.

Unfinished mappage

Unfinished mappage

You remember when they loaded that funky-looking submersible onto the Orca, right?

You remember when they loaded that funky-looking submersible onto the Orca, right?

Getting chomped by an angry Bruce

Getting chomped by an angry Bruce

Better keep this beach closed. There's a shark out there the size of an entire town.

Better keep this beach closed. There's a shark out there the size of an entire town.

Trying to navigate the underwater labyrinth

Trying to navigate the underwater labyrinth


Another game I had was the game of the 1989 Batman movie. Trying to play this again really surprised me with how hard it was.

Ultimately, this turned out to be another game I just couldn't face pushing through. Batman just moves too slow and clumsily for the game to feel any good.

Add in that all of the takedowns must be at range, with Batman taking damage if he even brushes past an enemy, and things get even worse. I mean, you can't even throw Batarangs diagonally, instead having to use the grapple as a weapon if you want to do this. The problem here is, the grapple takes ages to go out, then ages to come back in, and Batman can't move while doing it. Plus, he can't throw out the grapple if he's standing near a ladder, for some reason.

Still, I was making slow but decent progress through the first level using save states, but then, upon my sudden death, I realised the game had a time limit. Trying to go through the level again at a much higher pace just saw me getting twonked left and right, and even using save states I just ran out of patience.

What's frustrating here is I know for a fact I got further as a kid even without the save state functionality, as I distinctly remember driving the Batmobile, and shooting out grapples to help turn round corners (or mostly missing them, in my case).
But here I could just not manage it.

But oh well, I gave it a go. Now on with another...

Grenade to the face

Grenade to the face

Oh, hello

Oh, hello

Batman points and laughs as goon falls off ladder

Batman points and laughs as goon falls off ladder

Grappling hook takedown

Grappling hook takedown


This was a game I remember giving a good go when I was a young lad, based on the 80s action classic: Robocop.

This was way easier to get through than the other Amiga games I've attempted recently, but I still had to use some save states to pull through.

When I got to the end, it all felt a bit familiar, but I think it's highly unlikely I beat it as a kid, unless I threw some cheats at it or something.

But anyway, I've actually managed to finish one, and I can move on with something else...

Getting into a shoot out

Getting into a shoot out

Looks like a couple of 1970s football hooligans

Looks like a couple of 1970s football hooligans

Robocop shoots out old Epic Space Marine barrage templates

Robocop shoots out old Epic Space Marine barrage templates

Not movie accurate at all. I mean, where's the ridiculously long arms?

Not movie accurate at all. I mean, where's the ridiculously long arms?

15th July 2022: 7 + 25

Playing this 'ere game through again is something I really should have done back in 2019 or early 2020, in order to act as a refresher before its remake/sequel came out. But unfortunately, I didn't really have any motivation or desire to play JRPG-style games. Which is odd, considering this is my favourite game of all time, and I've had quite a good time going through it again for the first time in over 20 years.
And it is most certainly a JRPG.

This is my big, and probably final, playthrough of Final Fantasy VII.

At first, I thought about playing this 25-year old game, on my old PS1, just for the added nostalgia factor. That old console is still plastered in a cheesy sticker that came with a games magazine just after the game was released. However, there was no way to connect it to my current monitors, and I didn't want to get my old TV out of the loft.

So instead, I just carried on from where I left it a couple of years ago, where I was leaving Midgar and heading into the Kalm flashback.

Can you believe it's really been 25 years?

Can you believe it's really been 25 years?

My old PS1 couldn't get a look in

My old PS1 couldn't get a look in

As I'd pretty much always just used Tifa and Barret as my party members in the past, I decided to change it up and focus on Red and Yuffie this time. However, not using Tifa at all quickly started to feel weird, so I instead decided to rotate through all the characters except Vincent and Cait Sith, who I don't like because of their crappy limit breaks. Oh, and Aerith of course. Because of, well... you know. Reasons.

I'd made it through most of disc 1, when an idea formed in my tiny brain. Surely, I thought, if this was going to be my last play of this game, maybe I should make it worthwhile, and actually try and do all those things I'd never really tried before, upto and including the two superboss Weapon fights.

Of course, I made this decision just as I was about to do the Temple Of The Ancients, and I had not used Aerith at all by this point due to... reasons. But now I needed to make sure she got her final limit break, which I had never bothered with before. So off I trudged to at least try to get her stuff unlocked so I can say I did it at least once.

Luckily I ended up having to stay away several times for work during March. So I took my laptop along to whittle away the evenings, and give me something to look forward to after digging all those holes and filling them in again.

And so it was that, after some grinding, I was able to cast Great Gospel for my first time. Probably my last.

Tifa really likes somersaulting

Tifa really likes somersaulting

Kweh!

Kweh!

I hope his name wasn't Jimmy

I hope his name wasn't Jimmy

Barret and Dyne sorting out their differences

Barret and Dyne sorting out their differences

That's a lot of frogs

That's a lot of frogs

The one and only time I will ever use Great Gospel

The one and only time I will ever use Great Gospel

Now that the cat was out of the bag, it seemed anything and everything in the game was up for grabs. I decided to do as much as possible while Cloud was out of the party, so the other members could catch up in levels a bit.

After doing some research, Tifa led my team in some grinding, item finding, and even some forced RNG shenanigans in order to get an early gold chocobo so I could start levelling the materia from the caves. This then allowed me to use my new chocobos to get to the Ancient Forest early. I brought Vincent along for this as he was my only current member with a 255% hit chance weapon, which would apparently counter the high dodge rates of the enemies here. But he still kept missing, meaning I had to do a lot of the work with magic. Well done Vincent, your one and only job and you screwed it up. Go get back in your coffin.

After Cloud returned, I took some time off to deal with the FF7 Remake again, then hit the Gold Saucer for races and battles until I'd got all the items I wanted.

And then there was more grinding. So much grinding. Man, that materia is thirsty.

After I finally continued with the story, I was able to get all of the Turtle's Paradise flyers, and then made my first loop of the Northern Crater. For this, I brought along Cait Sith for his one and only moment in the spotlight. Well, he performed better than Vincent, I guess, and I was able to get all the items I needed to set me up for my last round of grinding.

How are they going to handle <i>this</i> in the remake?

How are they going to handle this in the remake?

Tifa and Vizna go materia hunting

Tifa and Vizna go materia hunting

How did all of this train fit in that tiny reactor?

How did all of this train fit in that tiny reactor?

Cloud unleashing on the enemy

Cloud unleashing on the enemy

Here comes big boi

Here comes big boi

Smacking Proud Clod all up and down the street

Smacking Proud Clod all up and down the street

From there it was some more grinding until all of the necessary materia was mastered. Off I trudged to Cosmo Canyon to pick up my very first set of master materia. This set me up nice for an attempt at Emerald Weapon.

I read up on a few methods for tackling ol' big, green and mean, but most of them looked really cheesy. I wanted to fight. So I went with the tactic that utilises the Fury status and lots of level 3 limit breaks to twonk that big bugger nice and good. Cloud's and Tifa's limit breaks, while doing some work, didn't seem to do anywhere near the damage Yuffie's "Doom Of The Living" did. Pretty sure she outdamaged both of the other party members put together. I was well impressed.

Cid and Red subbed in for the fight against Ruby Weapon. I went with the same style of tactic, but added in heavy use of an item called Dazers to keep the big bastard stunned as much as possible. Still, this fight was incredibly hard. After scapping for a good 25 mins or so, he ejected two of my party members, leaving just Red, who could not do as much damage as the others, and I failed. As far as I had read, Ruby Weapon could not eject characters from the game during this phase so I was well miffed.
Another attempt created a similar situation, but this time leaving Cid on his own. And after a good long 40 minute scrap, Ruby Weapon was defeated.

With seemingly nothing else to do, I then ventured into the crater and killed Sephiroth. These end fights all felt very strange after the fights with the two super Weapons, as each of the fights ended in victory after just 4-5 normal attacks. It just shows how much stronger you have to get to take on those Weapons.

But that was the end of this run. So surely now I was done with the game?

Or was I?

I'm just as bad at rolling dice here as I am in Warhammer 40K

I'm just as bad at rolling dice here as I am in Warhammer 40K

All that grinding pays off

All that grinding pays off

Zack is best boi who didn't deserve this

Zack is best boi who didn't deserve this

Yuffie damn near took Emerald Weapon on her own

Yuffie damn near took Emerald Weapon on her own

Red and Cloud get sucked down into the sand...

Red and Cloud get sucked down into the sand...

...but Cid is able to complete the task alone.

...but Cid is able to complete the task alone.

I remembered there was one other thing I had never done, and never even tried to do. This was to get Cloud chosen as Don Corneo's bride. To do this, I had to start the game again and get to Wall Market. This entire little subquest must have been very strange for people to play through and discover for themselves back in the day. For me, it was incredibly weird just going into the original Honey Bee Inn for the first time ever, especially after knowing how it looks in the remake.

But it didn't take long to accomplish this task.

So finally, I truly was done with the game.

Though it's my top game of all time, I readily admit that FF7 is certainly not the best game of all time. It has its fair share of cheese, and of janky mechanics. But it holds its top position because of what it did to me back in the day. All I had ever played before this were football games, fighting games, racing games and other action games. There are only two games I can think of that I had attempted prior, being Resident Evil and the 7th Guest, that were even slightly different to my usual types of games, in that they even had any kind of story. Even then, story wasn't really the focus in those games.
And plus, it's not like I even finished those games back in the day either.

This game is so, so different. The story and characters shine through even amidst all the obvious cheese and jank. And even the long slog moments like getting through the northern continent, and the times I was grinding, did not annoy me as much as the slow moments playing FF7 Remake again.

It really is a shame the new game is so annoying with its slow moments. Because lets face it, the writing quality is so much better in the remake. Though the characters are cool in this old game, they seem so simple and cheesy in comparison. All I am hoping, is that they don't ruin it with the next games in the franchise, like how they damn near ruined it originally with the spin-off games in the past.

Twonking Sephy for what maybe the last time

Twonking Sephy for what maybe the last time

My first visit to OG Honey Bee Inn gets really weird

My first visit to OG Honey Bee Inn gets really weird

You have been chosen

You have been chosen

Well, if I never revisit you again, Final Fantasy VII, thank you for the wonderful memories. I will cherish them forever.

1st July 2022: Terraining Myself To Finish Things

Finally managed to get a few terrain things finished and ready for the tabletop. Up first, the He-Man cave took way longer to sort out than it should, as I wasn't sure how to finish it off. In the end, I just thought "screw it" and threw on lots of different coloured flocks and grasses. Meh. It looks kinda weird to me, but whatever. I can handle it.

I'm happier with the two different kinds of ruins, especially how the different colours on the old Epic 40,000 ruins seem to make them look more interesting. Maybe I should have painted my bodged-together ruins different colours as well, but I did those first, so whatever.

The He-Man cave all done

The He-Man cave all done

Completed ruins part 1

Completed ruins part 1

Completed ruins part 2

Completed ruins part 2

Gwapstik's Boyz clash with Angron's Khorne forces across the new terrain

Gwapstik's Boyz clash with Angron's Khorne forces across the new terrain

So this is pretty much all the terrain I've been working on finished and ready to go. There's the Eldar MDF things to finish off, but I'm not in a rush to deal with that headache right now. The old Epic Space Marine buildings still require me to get a 3D printer, as well as learn how to digitally sculpt new building parts, so those will not be done any time soon either.

The only other terrain I've started, or more specifically, re-started, are my old "hilly rock" things. The rock sections of these looked really simple and not very rock-like at all. Some of them had also taken hits and damage, so they really needed some TLC.

So I've completely re-textured and base coated all of the rock sections. All they need now is for me to get the drybrush and washes on them to finish them off.

I don't think rocks are supposed to look like that

I don't think rocks are supposed to look like that

Lining them up ready for some work

Lining them up ready for some work

Texturing and base coating done

Texturing and base coating done


I have attempted my first couple of games of Black Sonata. The first of these was an utter failure. I saw one deduction possibility from the first two clue cards I got, and for some reason ended up hyper focusing on that single idea. The next few clue cards I got did nothing to turn me away from the path, and only seemed to confirm my belief more. So when I confronted the Dark Lady and found that I was completely wrong, I ended up very confused. That was, until I went back to those first 2 cards and saw the other option that was available that I had completely missed. Moron.

So in my second playthough, I made no such mistakes, and was very careful to methodically check and double check all the options as I gained more information.

On the trail of the wrong woman in Black Sonata

On the trail of the wrong woman in Black Sonata

But the real Dark Lady can not escape me on my second attempt

But the real Dark Lady can not escape me on my second attempt

I quite like the game to be honest, but there's a lot of luck in anticipating where the Dark Lady will go. This will only get harder as I start to use more difficult stealth decks, as well as new modules that can be added in from the expansion.
It will be interesting, no doubt.

27th June 2022: It Was The Year 2001...

No doubt it's a sign of getting old, but for the last few years I've been getting really nostalgic about many things.

This all started when the folks found out some old family photos that I'd not seen in years, from our old family holidays and the like. It's kind of sad, but I've had fun going through them and using tools like Google Maps to try and find out where they were taken and what may have changed in the intervening years.

But anyway, all that aside, while I was looking back I realised 2001 was a bit of a strange year for me. For some reason, I stopped doing several things that I used to do quite a lot in my late teens and early 20s.

For example, it was the last time I played a live gig in my old band. It was also the last time I played through my favourite game, being Final Fantasy VII. It was the last time I went to Cornwall on holiday with my friends, which we'd been doing fairly regularly in the preceding years. It was the last time I made some silly home videos with my fellow "Productioneers". And I'm pretty sure it was also when I stopped regularly going to the pub for a drink.

That's a lot of things I used to do quite frequently, that just stopped for some reason all during the same year.

But as my nostalgic desire continues to increase little by little, 2022 has seen me breaking my duck on a couple of these things.

Mainly, I've been leisurely working my way through FF7 again, making sure I'm really taking it all in, and also trying real hard to do everything in the game.
And just recently, pretty much out of nowhere, I found myself making the long drive to Cornwall, to revisit some old haunts.

This is Hawkes Point, just around the headland from Carbis Bay. We went here every Cornwall holiday except one, because that was at New Year and it was very chilly.

We really liked the beach here because it was always quiet, as it was a bit awkward to get to. The last time we were there, we even filmed part of one of our silly sketches, heavily inspired by the Monkey Island games, called Funky Island. As far as I can remember, it was also the last sketch we ever filmed.

Thinking about it, I may have to reminisce about the silly old films we used to make at some point. Maybe if I start to feel even more nostalgic for the good old days. We'll see.

It's the same place...

It's the same place...

...just 20-plus years later

...just 20-plus years later

Getting funky on the island<br /><span class='skye'>(Youtube video)</span>

Getting funky on the island
(Youtube video)

There's a surreal feeling to doing some of the things I've been doing this year. It's the same kind of feeling I got a few years back when I re-watched my favourite TV show ever, Farscape, back through in its entirety, which was something I'd not done in well over a decade. And it's the same feeling I got when in Cornwall, especially being at Hawkes Point, and the same feeling I've been getting playing through FF7 again.
It just feels like these are things I will probably never do again. But I've had to do them, just to get them out of my head.
Doesn't change the fact that it's all very bittersweet.

And what of the other things I stopped doing in 2001?

Well, as fun as it would be, I doubt any of us old Productioneers have got the inspiration or the urge to make more silly videos. And I've certainly not got the desire to play a gig ever again, that's for sure. I mean, I really sucked. But at least my return to writing and recording songs in some form is still on the horizon at least. So there is that.

But when it comes to regularly going to the pub, I think I'll have to pass on that. Not with drinks costing as much as they do these days.

Wow, I really have no idea what this blog entry was for, or about. I guess I just needed to ramble.

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.

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