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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 ©2008-2021

3rd June 2021: Stebloke's Star Wars Send Off Spectacular

This is going to be a strange blog entry. A strange one indeed.

You see, Star Wars and I go back a long way, ever since I saw my first Star Wars film, Return Of The Jedi, in the mid 80s. Despite the disappointing prequels, and the strange stories in the novels, and the childishness of the cartoon series, it would remain my favourite franchise for more than 30 years.
There was just something very special about the setting, the characters, and the visual style of it that elevated it above anything else in my opinion.

I've played a lot of games over the years. I've read a lot of books. I've watched a lot of fan films. Some I liked. Some I didn't. Some I thought were sheer fucking brilliance.

But then Disney bought the franchise. And things immediately changed. I wasn't angry per se that they threw the old EU out of the window, as I understood the decision. But I was still definitely disappointed. I also didn't particularly mind The Force Awakens, as while it wasn't a particularly good Star Wars film, it was an alright and somewhat entertaining action film, that mostly still felt like it could fit in the Star Wars universe.

But then came The Last Jedi. What a joke that pile of shit was. I still remember how I felt walking out of the cinema. I wasn't angry, or upset in any way. Maybe I should have been. Instead, I was just empty. Disney had done it. They had done something I didn't think was possible. I no longer liked Star Wars.
See the main problem with The Last Jedi was not the fact that it was a bad Star Wars film, or even the fact that it was not a good action film. Both of those I could have handled. I could have just forgotten about it and moved on, just like I did for Attack Of The Clones for example.
No, it was the fact that it had retroactively changed many things about the old films that was the issue. I mean, it didn't even answer any of the questions or continue any of the threads set up in the previous movie, let alone pay respect to the old films. It felt like the film makers had squatted down over the entire franchise and just took a massive steaming dump all over it.

I stopped watching Rebels, so I've still never seen the last season. I haven't watched the final Clone Wars season that dropped a while back. I never went to watch Solo, or Episode 9. I haven't been watching the Mandalorian.
And I never plan to watch any of these things.

Because the entire franchise is ruined in my opinion. I'm simply no longer a fan.

Still, over the last few years I've dipped in and out of the Star Wars franchise here and there in the form of games. Most of these were old ones, usually ones I had played in the past and wanted to finish. The only "new" Star Wars I've consumed was The Fallen Order, and that was only because it was cheap at the time, and was supposed to be very good. I ended up thinking it was remarkably mediocre.

And now I'm at the point where, with a heavy heart, I realise I just want to wash my hands of the entire franchise, and pretty much forget it even exists.

It's a shame, but things change, and we move on.


Before I can say my final farewells to my once favourite franchise, I thought I could do with addressing several Star Warsy things that were outstanding.

I still have a bunch of games that I've never finished, and several I've never even played. Some of these are old ones that I still have on physical media, and some are games I've bought digitally. Truth be told, I didn't really want to play any of them considering my feelings at the moment, but when I looked down the list there were two that stood out as games I really should do my best to finish.

First up was X-Wing Alliance. I reached the end level of this when I first played it about 20 years ago, but when I flew into the Death Star the game totally spooged out. I don't know if I was clipping through the tunnel walls, or there were some weird graphics bugs, or something else entirely.
Basically I gave up and turned it off, fully intending to go back to it another time. But this is me we're talking about, and so I never did.

Coming back to this was eye-opening. I found some missions very hard, and as early as mission 4 was having to replay over and over in order to complete them. I don't remember it being this hard years ago. It's probably a combination of age slowing down my reactions, and looking back with rose-tinted glasses.

Conversely, on some other missions my wing mates seemed to do all the work before I could even get there, and the level would complete. Such strange difficulty balancing.

The game was also buggy as hell. The worst one I found was the map screen. Very often, whenever I would look at the map and then return to the main game screen, all of my laser energy would be fully drained and I would have to charge it up again. It was so infuriating.
There were also lots of audio glitches, with sounds playing on annoying loops, which would sometimes continue even after the mission had ended, forcing me to quit and re-load.

And the most game-breaking one I had was on a mission where I had to liberate some slaves from some shuttles. I had already played the damn mission several times figuring out the tactics required to complete it. And when I finally managed to do my part right, all of the transports arrived to free the slaves and then promply just froze and would not move.
I sure as hell was not going to go through all that again, and was considering quitting, until I saw there was a skip mission option.

How are these two ships docked in this position?

How are these two ships docked in this position?

Pandemonium breaks out

Pandemonium breaks out

Bugged transports are bugged

Bugged transports are bugged

Just casually blowing shit up

Just casually blowing shit up

This is not going to end well

This is not going to end well

When I finally arrived at the last mission, as soon as I entered the Death Star, I got my first hard crash of my playthrough. I re-loaded, fearing that this game's final mission was cursed, and I would not be able to finish it after all this. But thankfully it didn't happen again.

Still, part of me maybe wishes it had. Because finishing the last mission was an absolute arse, and I must have replayed it 12-15 times trying to figure the damn thing out. Even after I sort-of knew what I was supposed to do, I still had to play it a few more times due to little glitches and bugs that were preventing me from getting through it.

Also, during all these years since I first played it, I was wrongly remembering that you were still playing as the main character Ace Azzameen in the final missions, even though you fly the Millennium Falcon. This playthrough made it clear that it's still Lando and Nien Nunb that are flying it. I really did not appreciate this, as there's no explanation to where Ace went. And I'd have much rather flown the Otana or an X-Wing in the attack on the Death Star.
An X-Wing definitely would have made it easier to fly through those tunnels, as I did not keep Lando's promise to Han while playing this. That poor Falcon got scratched. Reeeaaaal scratched.

But thankfully it's all done. At very long last.

Luke and Dash can't take out this Tie Fighter. Sigh. Better go help.

Luke and Dash can't take out this Tie Fighter. Sigh. Better go help.

Intercepting some Bombers

Intercepting some Bombers

Transport decides to land on its side

Transport decides to land on its side

Here we are again

Here we are again


The other Star Wars game I decided to have a crack at is Shadows Of The Empire. I had never played it before this, but I'd read the novel several times, and the urge to see Dash's side of the story meant I had more desire to play this than any of the other games.

However, things took an immediate turn for the worse when I started my playthrough and I got a load of the controls. I know this game is old, but come on. What were they thinking? Pushing the mouse forward and back moves your character forward and back, rather than looking up and down, with no way to change it? What kind of backwards world were the developers living in? At least some other weird things like having the space bar be activate and X be jump were rebindable.

The basic control of Dash was also a bit shoddy, in terms of him feeling like he was running on an ice rink. There was a somewhat similar feeling when I played Dark Forces II a while back, but this was even worse. It was especially bad on one level when you have to traverse a train, which needs you to jump from one track to another. And when in the air, I swear Dash just did his own thing. The amount of times I fell off was just nuts.

So I struggled through to the fight against Boba Fett, during which he killed me when in his ship. And rather than put me back to a checkpoint or the start of that stage, it put me all the way back to the start of the level, which was probably about 30-40 minutes of play time. If I was really enjoying the game, I'd have pushed on and done it again. But I was really fed up by the old shitty controls and lack of interest in Star Wars by this point, so decided to just abandon it. I can't imagine I'd have gotten any more enjoyment out of the game even if I'd got passed Slave I, and I want to keep up my decent gaming momentum this year by getting back to games I enjoy.

Shooting up some Imps in the awesome Snowspeeder

Shooting up some Imps in the awesome Snowspeeder

Can't catch me, AT-AT

Can't catch me, AT-AT

Shooting an AT-ST up the arse

Shooting an AT-ST up the arse

Letting rip with the Outrider's turrets

Letting rip with the Outrider's turrets

Yep, fell off the train again

Yep, fell off the train again

Duking it out with Boba Fett

Duking it out with Boba Fett


<Old Stuff>

Over the years, but not for a very long time now, I have tried my hand at writing stories.

Only one of these stories is anywhere near good enough to even allow people to read it. As it is a Star Wars one, it makes sense for it to find a resting place here, in my "Goodbye Star Wars" blog entry.

The story has its roots in the early 2000s, when my friends and I looked at making a Star Wars fan film. Due to technical restraints, mostly from our poor quality MiniDV camcorders, we soon decided the project was beyond us, and I instead began writing some stories, expanding the ideas we had come up with for the film.

I only managed to finish one of the stories, being the one directly translated from the original fan film idea. Some moderate work was done on several of the others that I was planning, which were set both before and after this one in the timeline.

The original story that was finished in 2004 got a big re-write in 2011, which I was much happier with. But though it was always my intention to go back and write the others, I struggled to find the time or motivation. Then in late 2018 I finally admitted defeat and decided to abandon the stories for good. I think this decision was spurred on by Disney wiping out the old continuity, which these stories were set in, and how disappointed I was in the new Star Wars films at the time.

Instead, to put the saga to bed, I scoured through the old notes I made in the mid 2000s and created a basic outline of events that led up to and followed the one completed story. As the outline is based on old ideas, the final stories may have been quite different if I had ever finished writing them.
But now I guess we will never know.

The saga is set in the Star Wars Legends continuity, beginning roughly 15 years after "Return Of The Jedi". It follows the adventures of three young Jedi, from the moment they start their training through to Knighthood and beyond...

Note that all three of the following links go to their own pages.

Before The Dark Side Of Do'Naar (basic outline) The Dark Side Of Do'Naar (full story) After The Dark Side Of Do'Naar (basic outline)


After scouring some old hard drives I've been able to find some of the test footage we shot while trying to figure out whether the fan film was within our capabilities. The first two videos were filmed in late 2002, and were edited using a program called Alam DV. There were several other little test action shots filmed on that night, but I can't find any more footage, which has cheesed me off a bit. I thought maybe I just never added effects to them, but then I stumbled across a tiny little picture that I uploaded to Facebook about 12 years ago from one of the other saber duels that we did that night. So where all that other shit went I have no idea.
There was also some pretty cool CGI animations that my brother did of an X-Wing in a dogfight, but I don't have that either.

The last video was filmed by my brother and I at some point in 2003 or 2004. I think by this time we had already decided not to make the fan film, but we went ahead with this anyway. It was rotoscoped using filmstrip files and Photoshop, which took weeks of free time.

Saber ignition<br /><span class='skye'>(webm video)</span>

Saber ignition
(webm video)

A little test duel<br /><span class='skye'>(webm video)</span>

A little test duel
(webm video)

One of the lost battles?

One of the lost battles?

Saber duel in a forest<br /><span class='skye'>(webm video)</span>

Saber duel in a forest
(webm video)


While I was searching my old storage mediums for possible Star Wars fan film content I've also been able to find some very rough sketches of what I was aiming at with the new species called the Garron-Hinn, who were going to be one of the main villainous groups later on in my stories. There's also a very, very bad attempt at a watercolour painting of the Garron-Hinn home world that I did in 2014 when I had my little art spurge. I rightly thought back then that it was not good enough to upload here, and I still think that way now. But I guess I don't care any more.

A concept idea of the Garron-Hinn

A concept idea of the Garron-Hinn

Rough concepts of the Garron-Hinn Dark Jedi, the Garsanekra

Rough concepts of the Garron-Hinn Dark Jedi, the Garsanekra

A very rough idea of the Garron-Hinn planet, Terrinak

A very rough idea of the Garron-Hinn planet, Terrinak


<Old Stuff>

While I'm having this big Star Wars clear out, I thought I'd bring back these images from my old site, which were from just the second MMORPG I ever played.

I played on Star Wars: Galaxies for a few months back in 2007 as the awesome Mon Calamari medic Splapdink McWildpants. I didn't really get up to much, mostly spending my time working through the "introductory" quest called the Legacy Quest, which pretty much got me to level 50 out of 90. Outside of that, I mostly did space missions, and spent a few evenings hanging out and getting killed with my work mate Big Dave.
Even though I didn't play on it for long I was a little sad when I heard it was to close in late 2011.

Here are some pictures from those adventures:

The awesome Splapdink McWildpants begins his training as a Rebel Alliance medic

The awesome Splapdink McWildpants begins his training as a Rebel Alliance medic

Splapdink does an impression of Lando Calrissian

Splapdink does an impression of Lando Calrissian

Short Mon Calamarians really shouldn't stand next to tall Wookiees unless they want to look stupid

Short Mon Calamarians really shouldn't stand next to tall Wookiees unless they want to look stupid

Splapdink, having lost his kin, goes fishing in order to try and find them

Splapdink, having lost his kin, goes fishing in order to try and find them

I didn't realise speeder bikes could travel vertically

I didn't realise speeder bikes could travel vertically

No, I don't have a gold bikini, you strange little fish man. Now get out of here before I fetch security, pervert!

No, I don't have a gold bikini, you strange little fish man. Now get out of here before I fetch security, pervert!

Splapdink dons a Clone Trooper outfit in a vague effort to look the slightest bit hard

Splapdink dons a Clone Trooper outfit in a vague effort to look the slightest bit hard

The narglatch uses the 'hide inside a tree' technique

The narglatch uses the 'hide inside a tree' technique

Splapdink wonders for a moment whether the inside of his helmet has steamed up

Splapdink wonders for a moment whether the inside of his helmet has steamed up

Splapdink's yacht tries to do a USS Voyager impression

Splapdink's yacht tries to do a USS Voyager impression

Some dude levitates without any Force powers. Or the game has messed up again. Hard to tell.

Some dude levitates without any Force powers. Or the game has messed up again. Hard to tell.

And Splapdink thought <i>he</i> was a short-arse

And Splapdink thought he was a short-arse

Now guys, you do realise how totally wrong this dancing is, right?

Now guys, you do realise how totally wrong this dancing is, right?

Splapdink McWildpants. Professional idiot.

Splapdink McWildpants. Professional idiot.

Wrrlykam the Wookiee gives Splapdink the best present in the galaxy: a green Bantha named Bruce

Wrrlykam the Wookiee gives Splapdink the best present in the galaxy: a green Bantha named Bruce

Bruce can't get on the shuttle

Bruce can't get on the shuttle

The brave Rebel pilots argue over who will be the first to attack the very large Star Destroyer

The brave Rebel pilots argue over who will be the first to attack the very large Star Destroyer

Splapdink gets an unwelcome guest at his beachfront apartment

Splapdink gets an unwelcome guest at his beachfront apartment

Splapdink doesn't seem too bothered when informed of all the spiders he is about to meet

Splapdink doesn't seem too bothered when informed of all the spiders he is about to meet

Yet another unexplained levitation

Yet another unexplained levitation

I'm gonna need a bigger boat

I'm gonna need a bigger boat

30th May 2021: Bustin' Makes Me Feel Good

I again revisited my childhood recently when I went up against Gozer (but not really) in the old ZX Spectrum Ghostbusters game. I've learned over the last few years that I can't really trust my childhood memories, but as far as I remember it, I managed to get to the final Stay Puft section several times on our old 48K machine, but could never make it into the building to win the game. I'm not sure how, as it wasn't as hard or awkward as I remember it.

There wasn't really much to it, and once I'd messed around a little bit to figure out what I was doing, I completed the game on my first effort.

I don't think the people who made this game really watched the film though, as there's no mention of Gozer, and Zuul is a building on the map where the Keymaster and Gatekeeper are trying to get to. Whereas in the film, Zuul is the Gatekeeper. But oh well.

There is. It's this logo.

There is. It's this logo.

Missing the ghost by a mile

Missing the ghost by a mile

Hoovering up the street spooks

Hoovering up the street spooks

Ghost trolls me by flying under the trap

Ghost trolls me by flying under the trap

Mass hysteria breaking out in the city

Mass hysteria breaking out in the city

Sneaking past a very small and very bouncy Stay Puft

Sneaking past a very small and very bouncy Stay Puft


There was another Ghostbusters game I played a lot of in the distant past that I never managed to finish, and that was the Amiga version of Ghostbusters II. Back then, it took me weeks of intermittent play to figure out how to get passed the first level. After that, beating the second level came a lot faster, but I could never figure out how to complete the third and final level.

Well, all I can say is: save states for the win. I didn't need them on the first level, managing to finish it on my third and final life. But I used their capabilities on the second level, and quite a lot on the third as I figured out finally what to do.

And so at long last, I managed to defeat the big dumb Carpathian, even though I lost Egon along the way. And that was just a cheap shot from Vigo, considering the real life status of the actors.

But again the trend continues with these developers not watching the movies they are adapting into games. In the manual for this one, it says the Ghostbusters brought the marshmallow man to life to help them defeat Gozer. But in the film, the marshmallow man was Gozer in his/its destructor form. Sheesh.

Get outta here Edward Scissorhands

Get outta here Edward Scissorhands

Scoopin' da goop

Scoopin' da goop

You remember that bit in the film, where the Statue Of Liberty gets attacked by a swarm of Slimers, don't you?

You remember that bit in the film, where the Statue Of Liberty gets attacked by a swarm of Slimers, don't you?

Janosz gets slimed

Janosz gets slimed

Winston makes a break for it with the baby. Yes, that's Winston, apparently.

Winston makes a break for it with the baby. Yes, that's Winston, apparently.

Giving Vigo the ol' zip zap

Giving Vigo the ol' zip zap


After playing the first two Ghostbusters games, it only felt right to play the 2009 game through again, especially as I got it for free (and DRM free to boot!) on Epic Games late last year. Now I had already played this through about four times a decade ago on the PS3, making it my most played game on that console. But I thought plenty enough time had passed for a refresher while I was on this Ghostbusters kick.
Also, it's not a super long game, and is a really good follow up to the films, so to hell with it.

I was really looking forward to two things about playing it on the PC: being able to get some screenshots, and also being able to use the keyboard and mouse. Unfortunately, the mouse acceleration in the game is atrocious, which really spoiled my enjoyment of using this control scheme. But still, it was not bad enough to make me use a controller again.

Slimer gives a wave as I bust his ass

Slimer gives a wave as I bust his ass

Just get in the trap you stupid fisherman ghost

Just get in the trap you stupid fisherman ghost

Stay Puft has seen better days

Stay Puft has seen better days

At least I don't have to collect any mucus

At least I don't have to collect any mucus

Can't lie, it was a lot of fun playing through it again, for what might be the last time. Sure, the old annoyances were still there, like the sluggish character movement and the useless team mate AI, but whatever. Just to test the original Ghostbusters, I would sometimes weaken the ghosts and throw a trap down, just to see how long it would take them to do the rest. Frankly, I'm not sure how they're still in business. I mean, I pretty much had to do everything.

While the gameplay has its ups and downs, it's the story and having the original cast reprising their roles that really makes the game shine. Because in truth, without the Ghostbusters skin, this game would be painfully mediocre. Whereas having it link so well back to the 80s films, as well as being a solid narrative follow-up, makes it one of the best movie tie-in games ever in my opinion. I strongly suspect that the new film that's coming out at some point will completely ignore this game as canon, and that will fucking suck.

Was, and still is, the hardest boss in the game

Was, and still is, the hardest boss in the game

Spraying some blue goop at the Spider Witch

Spraying some blue goop at the Spider Witch

Letting the other Ghostbusters do some work for a change

Letting the other Ghostbusters do some work for a change

Shandor's destructor form comes under fire

Shandor's destructor form comes under fire

16th May 2021: I Recognise That Name From Somewhere...

<Old Stuff>

It feels like a very long time since I last brought back something from my old site as an <Old Stuff> entry, so I thought why not bring back this strange little pointless bit of info, with a few added addendums. It's also the first in a new category of blog entries that I'm going to call "Ramblings", where I just write about any old bollocks.

I love characters and names. So much so that I become quite attached to the characters and names I create. I often reuse my faves, and they can be found sprinkled throughout pretty much all of my hobbies.

Many of my often-used names were originally made up for the Star Wars stories I started to write all the way back in 2004. At the time, I was working a very short-lived data entry job, where I had to process all kinds of applications such as catalogue orders. The sheer amount of weird and wonderful names that crossed my desk gave me all kinds of inspiration, and many of those characters have names that were changed, chopped or combined from names I saw doing that job.

Here, you can read about these characters, places or vessels, and where else I may have got their names from. I've also supplied images if I have them.

Gwapstik Snotgumz

Back in the 1994 version of Blood Bowl, star players could be permanently added to your team roster. Gwapstik Snotgumz was originally the name I made up for my version of Varag Ghoul-Chewer in my Orc team. After I started playing Blood Bowl again in the mid 2000s, one of my Black Orcs has instead used the name. The name is also used for my 40K Ork Warboss, who has his own clan called Gwapstik's Boyz. He also hates the Warlord of my Epic scale Ork army, whose name is Warlord Smashgrot.
I've recently noticed that I sometimes spell the name Gwapstick, which is totally incorrect. I mean, who would even spell it like that? Only an idiot I reckon.

Black Orc Gwapstik Snotgumz

Black Orc Gwapstik Snotgumz

Warboss Gwapstik Snotgumz

Warboss Gwapstik Snotgumz

Wilcra Li New / Meja Codan / Macan Vesso

These three are the main characters from my Star Wars stories. I used a Star Wars name generator along with my mate Krig and my bro JIK, which gave us some names that I then slightly modified for the stories.

The three names were later used as characters in my 40K Space Marine army: Master Wilcran Linus, Chaplain Codan and Captain Macan Vesso. Macan Vesso is also my character on Star Trek Online. He looks a little like a blue-skinned Dracula. The U.S.S. Codan is the name of my long range science vessel on Star Trek Online.

Jedi Knight Wilcra Li New

Jedi Knight Wilcra Li New

Jedi Knight Meja Codan

Jedi Knight Meja Codan

Jedi Knight Macan Vesso

Jedi Knight Macan Vesso

Company Master Wilcran Linus

Company Master Wilcran Linus

Chaplain Codan

Chaplain Codan

Captain Macan Vesso

Captain Macan Vesso

Captain Macan Vesso

Captain Macan Vesso

The U.S.S. Codan

The U.S.S. Codan

Ja'nalora / Karynna / Andera

Ja'nalora Andera is one of the supporting characters from my Star Wars stories. She is a Twi'lek Jedi Knight. Her sister Karynna is a villain in those stories. I later stole her name for my Tau Sept in 40K. Ja'nalora and Karynna Andera are two of my officers on Star Trek Online. Ja'nalora is a Trill and Karynna is her half sister. I love the name Ja'nalora, but really can't remember where the hell it came from.
(Pronounced Yar-na-lor-a)

Jedi Knight Ja'nalora Andera

Jedi Knight Ja'nalora Andera

Dark Jedi Karynna Andera

Dark Jedi Karynna Andera

Ja'nalora Tau Sept

Ja'nalora Tau Sept

Officer Ja'nalora Andera

Officer Ja'nalora Andera

Officer Karynna Andera

Officer Karynna Andera

Udré / Vizna

Udré Vizna is a supporting Jedi in my Star Wars stories. I later used the names for my Xen-Udré Eldar Craftworld in 40K, which is commanded by the powerful Farseer Udré Vizna. Udré Cerna is another Farseer. In my 40K head canon, Udré is a more of a title than a name. I have also used Vizna for my Caitian bridge officer on Star Trek Online, as well is my first ever Pandaren in WoW.
(Pronounced Ud-ray)

Jedi Knight Udré Vizna

Jedi Knight Udré Vizna

Farseer Udré Vizna

Farseer Udré Vizna

Farseer Udré Cerna

Farseer Udré Cerna

Officer Vizna

Officer Vizna

Vizna The Pandaren

Vizna The Pandaren

The Ashaai & Meiden

The Ashaai are a race of white-skinned, white-haired & white-eyed humanoids I made up for my Star Wars stories, of which the character Meiden is a member. I later created World Of Warcraft characters Ashaai and Meiden, who are both pale-skinned Blood Elves. Meiden is my ship's Andorian first officer on Star Trek Online. A couple of years back I named one of my new Space Marine characters Ashaai Tigare.
(Pronounced Ash-eye & May-den)

Ashaai The Blood Elf

Ashaai The Blood Elf

Meiden The Blood Elf

Meiden The Blood Elf

Officer Meiden

Officer Meiden

Captain Ashaai Tigare

Captain Ashaai Tigare

Kreethen

Tarl Kreethen is a supporting character from my Star Wars stories. I next used the name for my first Worgen in WoW, and modified it to Kreethy for another Worgen when I dipped back into the game many years later. The U.S.S. Kreethen is my star cruiser on Star Trek Online. Kreethen is my dwarf dude in LOTRO. Tarl Kreethen is one of the Company Masters in my W40K Space Marine army. Kreethen is also my Jedi Consular on The Old Republic MMO.

New Republic Pilot Tarl Kreethen

New Republic Pilot Tarl Kreethen

Kreethen The Worgen

Kreethen The Worgen

Kreethy The Worgen

Kreethy The Worgen

The U.S.S. Kreethen

The U.S.S. Kreethen

Kreethen The Dwarf

Kreethen The Dwarf

Company Master Tarl Kreethen

Company Master Tarl Kreethen

Jedi Consular Kreethen

Jedi Consular Kreethen

Azra / Neema

Azra Neema is, yes you guessed it, a character I made for my Star Wars stories, where she was the commander of an outpost on Gorek II. I later used the name for a Klingon officer on Star Trek Online. The name has been split up and used for two different characters in my 40K Sisters Of Battle force. Azra Quistis is also named after Quistis from Final Fantasy 8, and Adrianna Neema is also named after the sorceress from Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance.

Officer Azra Neema

Officer Azra Neema

Mistress Of Repentance Azra Quistis

Mistress Of Repentance Azra Quistis

Saint Adrianna Neema

Saint Adrianna Neema

Mila Jenlo

Mila Jenlo was a supporting Jedi character from my Star Wars stories. The name was used again when I started to play Star Trek Online, where I made a character of an unknown species to act as an engineering officer, who was also known as Jade.

Jedi Knight Mila Jenlo

Jedi Knight Mila Jenlo

Officer Mila

Officer Mila "Jade" Jenlo

Sydor

The Sydor family are characters I made for my Star Wars stories. Vilton is the governor of the planet Reejan, while Airon and Airine are his children. I later used the name for my support cruiser on Star Trek Online. And the name has more recently been taken by two brothers from my 40K Space Marine army.

The U.S.S. Sydor

The U.S.S. Sydor

Captain Vilton Sydor

Captain Vilton Sydor

Captain Airon Sydor

Captain Airon Sydor

Kaloris

Kaloris first popped up as a minor planet in my Star Wars stories. I later used it for 40K where it became an important star system for one of our campaigns, as well as the place my 40K Imperial Guard Kaloris Stone Legions are from. I also used the name for my Odyssey Star Cruiser in Star Trek Online.

Kaloris Stone Legion Vehicles

Kaloris Stone Legion Vehicles

The U.S.S. Kaloris

The U.S.S. Kaloris

Distor

Grace Distor is a minor character in my Star Wars stories. I later stole the name for my Titan Legion in 40K, the Legio Distor. The U.S.S. Distor is the name of my heavy escort starship in Star Trek Online.

Legio Distor Warhound Titan

Legio Distor Warhound Titan

The U.S.S. Distor

The U.S.S. Distor

Xenia Koza

Xenia Koza was a name I made up to use in my Star Wars stories but never got around to using it. Later, I used the name for a Callidus Assassin from my 40K armies. I also used the name for a human bridge officer in Star Trek Online.
I got her name from actress Xenia Seeberg, a name I always found quite fascinating, though I believe my characters are pronounced quite differently to the actress, as I pronounce it "Zen-eye-a" for my characters.

Callidus Assassin Xenia Koza

Callidus Assassin Xenia Koza

Officer Xenia Koza

Officer Xenia Koza

Terrinak

Terrinak is a planet from my Star Wars stories, and the home of the insectoid Garron-Hinn species. It's also what I called my Escort ship on Star Trek Online.

The planet Terrinak

The planet Terrinak

The U.S.S. Terrinak

The U.S.S. Terrinak

Haran

Haran Baska is a Mon Calamari character that I made up for my Star Wars stories. I later used the name for a character in my Imperial Guard 40K army, where Haran Loas is my version of Commissar Yarrick.

Mon Calamari Haran Baska

Mon Calamari Haran Baska

Commissar Haran Loas

Commissar Haran Loas

Munkfish

Barry Munkfish is a character I made up with some work mates in the mid 2000s for a really silly project we were working on called Wild Land. He was literally the wildest Wild character in the whole project. And you can tell by looking at him, I bet.
I later made a Tauren World Of Warcraft character called Munkfish. Munkfish is the name I gave my Imperial Agent on The Old Republic MMO. The name was stolen from Inspector Monkfish from The Fast Show.

Barry Munkfish

Barry Munkfish

Munkfish The Tauren

Munkfish The Tauren

Imperial Agent Munkfish

Imperial Agent Munkfish

Splapdink

Wild--Splapdink was my alter-ego when I used to play Rome: Total War with the other Wild Monkey Generals in the mid 2000s. The name was a mistype that we thought was hilarious, though I can't actually remember what I was trying to type at the time. The name appeared again when I started to play Star Wars: Galaxies, with the creation of the Mon Calamari Medic Splapdink McWildpants. Then I created an Undead World Of Warcraft character called Splapdink. Splapdink is my summoner name on League of Legends. Splapperz was also my character name on Planetside 2.

Wild--Splapdink

Wild--Splapdink

Splapdink McWildpants

Splapdink McWildpants

Splapdink The Forsaken

Splapdink The Forsaken

Arquina

Rayne Arquina is my Inquisitor in 40K, with a first name from video game dhampir Rayne. The U.S.S. Arquina is my reconnaissance science vessel on Star Trek Online.
(Pronounced Ar-queen-a)

Inquisitor Rayne Arquina

Inquisitor Rayne Arquina

The U.S.S. Arquina

The U.S.S. Arquina

Gaia Light / Kallisto Blaze

Gaia and Kallisto are a couple of characters that keep popping up ever since I created them for my Amazon Blood Bowl team. I later used their names for characters I made on Tera Online, and now also use them for my 40K Geminae. Kallisto is also the Draenei Paladin I made on WoW a couple of years back.

Amazon Gaia Light

Amazon Gaia Light

Amazon Kallisto Blaze

Amazon Kallisto Blaze

Gaia Light

Gaia Light

Kallisto Blaze

Kallisto Blaze

Geminae Gaia Light

Geminae Gaia Light

Geminae Kallisto Blaze

Geminae Kallisto Blaze

Kallisto The Draenei

Kallisto The Draenei

1st May 2021: Attack The Block

It's been quite a while since I last had a go at a good puzzle game, so to get the brain juices flowing again I have just played through the sequel to a game I played a few years back, in the shape of Q.U.B.E. 2.

Like its predecessor before it, this game sees you using special gloves to manipulate coloured blocks in your surroundings, using them to open up new paths and to make progress.

Now my memory is a bit sketchy, but I don't remember the last game having so many other environmental interactions as this one does. In this game, in addition to the coloured cubes, you also harness other powers such as wind, fire and magnetism. In addition, there are lots of other switches and turny wotsits that let you move or change things in the puzzles. This does make it feel quite different to the original game, which I'm pretty sure (not that I can remember very well) only let you use the cubes and the occasional ball.

The original game also had quite a clean, minimalist look, which to be honest, I preferred to the more natural environments found in this one.

It also seems like they put a bit more forethought into the story of the game, rather than tacking it on at the end like in the original. Still, it does seem like more of the same, with you playing as a character who wakes up with amnesia, before pushing out into the maze of puzzles to try and figure out what is going on.

All in all, I feel about this one very much like I felt about the first game, in that it's a pleasant enough puzzle game, that challenges but never seems too hard. And doesn't outstay its welcome. That's very important.

Delving deeper into the puzzles

Delving deeper into the puzzles

Spin, you spinny thing

Spin, you spinny thing

Burning my way through a door

Burning my way through a door

Well, this is not gonna be easy

Well, this is not gonna be easy

Just what am I doing?

Just what am I doing?

21st April 2021: Getting My Weeb On

Over the Christmas period I realised I was starting to build up a bit of a collection of quite anime-inspired games, so I gave a couple of them a go. The first one completely failed to convince me to keep playing it more than a few hours. But this game here, while failing to keep me interested back in January when I first tried it, did at least warrant a second look. Though it has been a bit of a slog, especially nearer the end of the game, I have now managed to complete the main story. So while there are other things I could work towards in the game, I'm going to consider it done so I can move onto other things.

This game is Trials Of Mana, a game that came out on the PS4 last year.

I didn't really know anything about this game before playing it other than knowing that it was a remake of an old JRPG from the early 90s. I didn't even read anything about it or the Mana series until I was well into the last half of the game. Turns out that this is a remake of the third game in the series, but luckily knowledge of those other games is not really required.

From what I can gather, they have been very respectful to the original when making this new version, something which, in my opinion, is a double edged sword. While fans of the original probably appreciate what has been done here, the sheer levels of early 90s Nintendo cheesiness are at sky high levels, and the story and dialogue are at times laughably bad. It really wouldn't surprise me to discover these things are direct from the original, as it seems no work has been done to improve or modernise them. Things are not helped at all by the fact that the new voice acting is also fairly lacklustre for the most part.

Compare this to the FF7 remake from last year. While quite a lot of effort was put into paying respect to the original story (at least for now - who knows what will happen in the future), the characters and their dialogue were dramatically improved, plus the voice acting was really good.

So forward I stepped into this franchise for the first time ever, picking the amazon Riesz as my main character, Angela the sorceress as companion number one, and the beastman Kevin as companion number two.

Wait. Did you just say Kevin? Kevin... the beastman?

Why yes.

Yes I did.

What's with these eyebrows?

What's with these eyebrows?

Merchants get their groove on<br /><span class='skye'>(webm video)</span>

Merchants get their groove on
(webm video)

I'm not distracted.<br />Honest.<br />Nothing distracting here.<br />What was I saying again?

I'm not distracted.
Honest.
Nothing distracting here.
What was I saying again?

Angela gets zappy

Angela gets zappy

Good job there's no fall damage in this game<br /><span class='skye'>(webm video)</span>

Good job there's no fall damage in this game
(webm video)

Wow, this gigantic bird-turtle-thing sure can swim<br /><span class='skye'>(webm video)</span>

Wow, this gigantic bird-turtle-thing sure can swim
(webm video)

As it turns out, the remarkably stupid name of one of the characters was far from the worst thing about my team. Riesz turned out to be an absolute bore, and as dumb as a bag of rocks to boot. Kevin was just as stupid as Riesz, with his only character trait being "me hungry". Angela was the most interesting of the trio, and the one I ended up preferring to control in battle, but even she was mainly just an irritating, entitled little princess who only seemed to get excited about going shopping.
Urgh. Not good.

The story was odd. An absolute multitude of different evil factions are all fighting against each other to claim something called the Sword of Mana, which will give the wielder insane power over the entire world, and you are obviously out to stop them. To do this, various magical elemental stones must be visited and activated, and their imprisoned monsters battled. I got a bit lost trying to keep up with who was who in all of the different factions. Each enemy force had leaders, and goons, and ultimate evils they were trying to raise, and I mostly just tuned out, preferring to run around twonking things.
I do give the game credit for having the enemy factions going against each other in the story, though. Indeed at one point, there is a large battle between three factions at the location of the mana sword, and its a shame we as the player don't actually get to see it.

So what is the actual gameplay like? Hmm. I'd say it was mostly pretty good and sometimes pretty bad. It's a third person combat game, which allows you to pause in order to use magic or items. So in this regard, it's quite like the FF7 remake, but more simple. And like that other game, there are similar things that annoyed me. For example, there is a delay in performing an action such as dodge if another animation is playing out. It's a problem with games that I keep rattling on about, but it's something that narks me. The other thing is that it's one of those games where the characters step forward, or sometimes even jump forward when they attack, meaning they can sometimes just step right passed their target and miss entirely.

The other main thing about the gameplay that annoyed me was only in certain locations. See, you often get indicators on the floor a second or two in advanced whenever an enemy is going to do a big attack, giving you the time needed to run or dodge out of it. However, I found that in sand or snow environments, these indicators were really hard to see, making battles here more difficult.

In truth, the main problem with the game was the slow load screens, of which there were many. So freaking many. This, as well as constantly re-visiting the same areas on the map, and constantly fighting the same enemies, made the game drag on for far too long. So while it was a perfectly fine game to play through, if it was shorter by a quarter or even a third, I'd have had a far better and more enjoyable time. As it was, I really had to knuckle down and wade through the last parts of the game.

Kevin gets scrappy<br /><span class='skye'>(webm video)</span>

Kevin gets scrappy
(webm video)

Goremand looks like he's taking a dump

Goremand looks like he's taking a dump

Some fancy harpy hovering skills<br /><span class='skye'>(webm video)</span>

Some fancy harpy hovering skills
(webm video)

What the fook is this thing?

What the fook is this thing?

That's some bad breath there my dude

That's some bad breath there my dude

Angela goes for the big twonk

Angela goes for the big twonk


The other game I played, back in December, is about as JRPG as it can possibly get, in Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1. I saw this on sale on GOG a while back and thought it looked like it might be fun. Alas, it was not fun enough to keep me playing longer than a few hours.

The game has an interesting, tongue-in-cheek setting, which I found quite charming. The entire land is called Gamindustri, and each of the four countries or zones is named after one of four gaming consoles, such as Lastation and Leanbox. Each land has their own Goddess, who I think is supposed to protect their people from monsters and also promote their land so that their land can get more 'shares'. Shares of what I'm not sure. Maybe faith or something.
However, the Goddesses are more interested in fighting amongst themselves, and the game opens up with one of them, the main protagonist of the game named Purple Heart, being teamed up on by the other three and being defeated. Purple Heart falls down to Gamindustri suffering from amnesia. In her mortal guise of a young girl named Neptune, Purple Heart begins gathering a party to head out into the world, defeat monsters and figure out who she really is.

The game is split between somewhat typical turn-based RPG combat, and story sections that are presented in a visual novel style.

Would a Goddess who looks like this even take this comment as an insult?

Would a Goddess who looks like this even take this comment as an insult?

Neptune does not like big-heads apparently

Neptune does not like big-heads apparently

It's I <i>couldn't</i> care less. COULDN'T!! This shit always gets my goat.

It's I couldn't care less. COULDN'T!! This shit always gets my goat.

I can't mince my words here. While there were one or two things I liked about the game, it mostly just annoyed the fuck out of me. There were two primary issues. One being that the game barely explained anything, and often when it tried to explain something it was already too late. Case in point was when I was in a dungeon, and I saw a slightly different enemy icon on the minimap. Wondering what it was, I initiated combat, only for the enemy to one hit kill every single one of my characters. Then in the next dungeon the game finally explained that the different icon means "dangerous enemy". Thanks for the warning, game.

Mostly though the game does not explain anything, and I had to go on the internet to help figure things out. For starters, there's no explanation about what your character's stats do, at least in the first couple of hours of play. When the game does explain something, it will usually tell you that you can do something new, but won't properly tell you how to do it. It was annoying.

But the main problem without a doubt was the forced grinding. I just followed the main story, as most people I imagine would. And when my party was at about level 9, I came upon a boss fight against one of the other Goddesses, who absolutely fucking wrecked me. I assumed, as one would, at this early point in the game I would never be able to beat a Goddess, and thought it would be a scripted loss. But nope. I simply died and got the game over screen. Upon doing some research, I discovered people recommend a grind up to level 20 before tackling that boss. So with a big sigh, I set off into some dungeons, but only levelled up to lvl 12 before getting way too bored of that shit.

What an absolute joke of a requirement, to put that kind of grinding in a game so early on. Didn't help that most of the characters were also really irritating. Only IF of the main three characters was bearable (and what kind of name is IF??), though Neptune also became far less annoying when in her Purple Heart form. But other than that, all of the conversations made me roll my eyes so hard I could look back into my skull.

I promised I would not waste time on games I did not enjoy, so simply uninstalled it, never to be played again. Good riddance.

Boingee!

Boingee!

IF gets all choppy

IF gets all choppy

Yes, even more boob references

Yes, even more boob references

4th April 2021: My Balls Are On Fire

Up next in the completion list is the 2017 game Pyre, by the same people who made Bastion and Transistor. With those first two games, I had kind-of opposite experiences. I really liked Bastion at first, but it started to drag as I got further into it. And I really struggled to get into Transistor at first, but then started to enjoy it more once I'd unlocked more skills.

This game has been a different experience yet again. Though unfortunately, the experience was one of very little enjoyment from start to finish. I guess I really should have stopped playing it soon after the half way mark, as I was getting frustrated. But the end of the game did at least earn it a little bit of redemption, so I was at least a little glad I stuck with it.

So just what is the game, and why did I not get on with it very well?

The game is mostly delivered in two very different ways. The story sections are all in a visual novel style, with no voice acting and lots of text to read, and occasional choices to make that will have an effect on your characters stats or equipment.
The meat of the gameplay comes across like a fantasy version of basketball, where two teams of 3 players fight in out in real time, and try to throw or dunk a celestial orb into the opposing team's pyre, in order to reduce its flame to nothing and win the contest.

The massive amounts of text in the game quickly became boring, especially as a lot of the world's history and lore is delivered in the form of a book, with dozens of pages that you are expected to read. Let's just say I barely touched all that shit.

Synchronous banishment

Synchronous banishment

His name's Barker. 'Cause he's a dog. Get it?

His name's Barker. 'Cause he's a dog. Get it?

Jodariel goes for the big dunk

Jodariel goes for the big dunk

The competitions themselves, which are called "Rites", were also frustrating to play. Partly this was because I was using keyboard and mouse, which I chose so I could aim my attacks better. But this choice gave me some trouble seeing as my characters only then had 8 directions of movement with WASD.
All that I could deal with for the most part, but the main problem was that the enemy players just seemed to be more responsive somehow, like they could move faster, and jump better, and their auras would return faster. That kind of thing.

The story and characters were quite interesting, even though it did feel like it took forever for it to go anywhere and to get any pay off. But this feeds into the main double-edged sword of this game. See, when participating in the Rites, occasionally you will have the opportunity to free one of your characters from the exile you have all found yourselves in. Because I quite liked many of the characters, I wanted to free as many of them as possible. Problem is, when they are free, there is no longer any way to use them when competing in the Rites. And as all the characters have different skills, once my favourites were free, I was left with a bunch of players I didn't really like using all that much, making the Rites even more frustrating.

The little bit of redemption I mentioned earlier comes at the end of the game, where you are presented with information about all of the characters in the game, both on your team and on others, and learn what happened to them after all is said and done. I imagine the information here can be quite different depending on which players go free, and what other choices you make during the game, and this was the only time I was really into reading every last little word.

Concerning the characters, my fave was easily Jodariel, and I selfishly regret freeing her so early in the game. But I also really liked several other characters, including Ti'zo, Sir Gilman and Pamitha.

With so many games to play, it's unlikely I'll play Bastion or Transistor ever again, but at least there's a chance. This one however, has no chance at all. I mean, I'm glad it's done, but oof, I could have done without it.

Bertrude unleashes hell at our opponents

Bertrude unleashes hell at our opponents

Sir Gilman was fun

Sir Gilman was fun

Interception!

Interception!


One game I managed to get working after a bit of tweaking was Virtua Tennis. I played it for a couple of hours, and found it was ok, but it struggled to keep my attention when so many other games are vying for it.

It wasn't bad. I just found the player movement a little bit sluggish, and it seemed inconsistent when trying to place my shots. The main problem though was that progression seemed to be locked behind training sessions. I didn't mind playing the games, because at those times it was like the other (very few) tennis games I've tried in my life, being quite playable. However, the training sessions were frustrating and boring.

Still, I'm not saying I'll never come back to this, but it's highly unlikely, and definitely won't be anytime soon.

Come on, Tim!

Come on, Tim!

Giving Courier something to think about

Giving Courier something to think about

Looks like I'm checking for a bug on the floor

Looks like I'm checking for a bug on the floor

Trying a doubles match

Trying a doubles match

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