7.4.14

What's Happening

So yesterday I attended the XYZZY Awards Ceremony on ye olde ifMud.

Castle of the Red Prince was a nominee for Best Use of Innovation.

25.2.14

Change of plan...


Actually, there's something unseemly about dumping a load of images on a Blogger blog, so I'm going to post my failures at isuckatmetalslug.tumblr.com

Tumblr also lets me easily queue my failures up to post over the oncoming days and it doesn't compress the crap out of the screenshots (which are admittedly from a port that distorts the game's graphics anyway...)

I'll probably add a little post here if I manage to make any significant progress. Like it would be nice to make it to the mission 2 boss one day. :-/

23.2.14

Credit where credit's due.

The third instalment in SNK's classic run 'n' gun series Metal Slug is now available on Steam. It's perhaps best described as a "passable" port - it works for most people, stutters very occasionally (for me, more frequently for others) and displays some of the best pixel art of all time at an almost-but-not-quite-right resolution.

If you can forgive those faults, it's still a delightfully exaggerated bunch of explosive madness. And when I'm not working on my current project (which has hopefully passed the point where I'd be prepared to give up before finishing it), I'm currently seeing how far I can get into the game on a single credit (medium difficulty). The answer is probably not far, but I'm going to post my progress here until I give up.

2.1.14

2013: Stuff I Found and Liked

Film



A Cat in Paris
A short and delightful film about a cat's friendships with a grieving little girl and a professional thief.

No
Charting the party political broadcasts that aired against Pinochet during the referendum that ended his dictatorship, this film alternates between moments of levity and vulnerability, all filmed in a gloriously ugly-beautiful video cassette style.

Thor: The Dark World
It made me laugh, it used its London locations well and by now the Marvel Cinematic Universe has me hook, line and sinker.

Books



Ready Player One - Ernest Cline
Relentless retro nostalgia can't hide the fact that this book cares for its characters, even as it puts them through virtual reality hell.

King of Air Fighters - Ira Jones
This hagiography of Edward "Mick" Mannock is as interesting for its undisguised bias as its charting of the life of one of the most important airmen of the First World War.

Blue Remembered Earth - Alastair Reynolds
A solid work of science fiction by one of my favourite authors in the genre.

Comics



Gunnerkrigg Court - Thomas Siddell
I caught up on the hard-copy editions of this webcomic a few months ago, and it's as imaginative and winsome as ever.

21st Century Boys - Naoki Urasawa
This two volume conclusion to Urasawa's 20th Century Boys wraps up what is probably one of my all-time favourite stories - a genre-spanning epic which always has more surprises up its sleeve.

Knights of Sidonia - Tsutomu Nihei
To some this is the comic where Nihei sold out, but in applying his strange blend of M.C. Escher and H.R. Giger to the space opera genre he's created something I find appealingly strange.


Television



Community
Is this a sitcom, or one long, carefully choreographed battle against genre, tropes and expectations? Inventive, imaginative and - beneath its cynical and sarcastic exterior - heartfelt and compassionate.

Fringe
The fifth and final season was by far the weakest, but it's hard to hold a grudge against such a genuine effort to bid fond farewell to this likeable cast of oddballs.

Adventure Time
Genuine characters experience mind-blowingly unreal situations across a bizarre fantasy land. What's not to like?

Video Games



Minecraft
I may be a bit late to the party, but this really is the game that has everything. Build a home, explore strange and dangerous countryside, fight monsters. Imagination is both encouraged and rewarded.

Kerbal Space Program
No shit, if you've visited here over the past year. Fun, challenging and open-ended.

A Dark Room
This game starts out simply enough that I dismissed it out of hand when I first encountered it. The next time, I lingered a little longer and quickly found a game that consistently ramps up the scale each time you think you've got a handle on it. Also a superlative example of minimalist world-building.

29.12.13

Rendezvous at 140,000m


Docking two spacecraft is notoriously hard, in real life as well as in Kerbal Space Program. Making use of this nifty guide I was able to get close, and after quick saving/loading through a few bad misses, managed to dock the final part of Clowder Station.

I also took the opportunity to swap out Jebediah for Rayvis Kerman. Jeb's a little too precious to risk losing in a random space junk strike.

And then the launch vehicle carefully deorbited, taking its main fuel tank with it, leaving Rayvis in charge of a slightly skew-whiff space station.

23.12.13

Getting kind of busy up there...


The scary part about putting a space station in orbit around Kerbin is viewing all the junk you've left up there and trying to pick an orbit that doesn't intersect with any of it. And the rocket that puts it at that altitude has to be extra careful about any junk it leaves behind, what with it spending time on an identical orbit.

So, after undocking the first part of Clowder Station, commanded by a lonely Jebediah Kerman, Bob Kerman was careful to deorbit his big fuel tank before separating the final lander stage and leaving Jeb in orbit.

The final touch was switching the vessel type to "station" so it shows up with a nice icon in the tracking station. Next step: docking the other half of the thing. A.k.a the hard part.

8.12.13

Teething Problems


As the next step in conquering space, I decided to put a space station in Kerbin orbit. Of course, just sticking something in orbit is trivial, so I would be trying to dock two different space station parts together - docking being one of the hardest things to do in Kerbal Space Program, or indeed actual space.


Did I say putting things in orbit was the easy bit? The launcher I threw together seems to have a strange flaw where if it's throttled up towards the end of one of its stages, it suddenly spins out of control and explodes (the crew module is mercifully left intact and able to parachute back down to Kerbin).


Spoiler: I will actually complete the space station before realising that the issue is with some incorrectly connected fuel lines causing some of the engines to run out of fuel before others, throwing the rocket fatally off-balance.