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Christian. (That means that I know that Jesus is Lord!) Programmer. Gamer. Weak 3D artist. Geek.

Saturday, 30 June 2007

FFXI: Will the love affair never end?

Yes, yes, I've restarted Final Fantasy XI.. again.

This is now my third time - and I'm determined to do what I want to do in this game..

My new character, Clovien is WAR 5 currently. He is an Elvaan male and lives in San D'Oria. I've already joined a linkshell - a seemingly good one, nice, small and lively - they guys there are pre-dominantly English which is great - and I'm already trying to start a static for low-level players on Monday nights.

So, if you play FFXI and are on Bahamut, you have a low-level job that you want to get going (we request that you reserve the job for the static because that way no-one rushes ahead..) meet us inside the gate at West Ronfaure at 7pm GMT.

I really have to get far in this game this time..

Oh.. here are the first pictures of Clovien:

David / RagingAvatar

Sharing files with others..

MediaFire - Free File Hosting Made Simple

I'm not usually one to advertise someone's commercial site but this is too useful to pass up.

The other day I needed to send my games development portfolio to an agency and it would never have been allowed to pass through their e-mail servers just because of the file size.

So I needed somewhere to upload the files to and to be able to pass a link on to the lady at the agency.

In steps MediaFire. A brilliant site with an excellent user interface that keeps all your files and links indefinately.

Check it out at MediaFire.com - I think it's excellent and I know this sounds like I'm getting paid for this - but trust me, I'm not. I'm still poor. ;-)

David / RagingAvatar

Mother 3 for N64.. The way it was originally intended?

This is a video of Shigesato Itoi's 'Mother 3' in it's N64 incarnation which was later scrapped.

However, it was released last year as a Gameboy Advance game and has quite a large cult following - personally, I'm one of the people awaiting the English fan-translation to be released at Mother3.org...

Still, I found this video very interesting indeed..


Just saw this too, a 'Mother 3' Japanese TV ad, where Kou Shibisaki (who starred in the movie 'Battle Royale') describes the emotional impact of the game.

Interesting for all those people who think video games are for kids ;-)

David / RagingAvatar

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Upgraded my phone from N70 to N70ME

Following this guy's brilliant little tutorial I was able to upgrade my phone from the original Nokia N70 to the N70 Music Edition.

It was a little slow before and sometimes would reboot randomly (which isn't very handy) but this new ME firmware seems to work a treat and includes a very sexy red theme for the GUI.


David / RagingAvatar

Monday, 25 June 2007

"Baby, I can't help but be scared of it all sometimes.."

This is a quite poor cover of Matchbox Twenty's '3am' but it's such a beautiful song - everyone should check out it's lyrics. They're amazing..

My version however is probably significantly less than stellar.
But hey - my Cannonball was ok..

David / RagingAvatar

"I can't be free with what's locked inside of me.."

This is one of the old 'Video of the Week' entries that didn't get posted because I didn't have an internet connection to upload it..

It's 'Thumbing my Way' by Pearl Jam.

I don't know if it's any good - to be honest, who really cares?!

David / RagingAvatar

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Video: Vanessa Carlton - Ordinary Day

It seems Tom Drake has been more influential than I guess I give him credit for..

Tom and I used to love Vanessa Carlton's song 'A Thousand Miles' back in College and I went on to quite like her debut album and even went to see her play at Manchester university..

Though I seem to recall being quite disappointed at her foul language..

However, I had this specific version of her song 'Ordinary Day' on my phone (back when I used that for an mp3 player) for what seemed like an eternity.

Just to showcase to those who haven't figured out or noticed that I really am a down-right softie: I love this song for beautiful lyrics like:

he said 'take my hands, live while you can, if we walk now, we will divide and conquer this land..'

as I looked up into those eyes, his vision borrows mine, and I know he's no stranger for I feel I've held him for all of time..

There you all know now..

Unfortunately, the video isn't available on YouTube as an embedded video but I can link to it.. Check it out.

David / RagingAvatar

Video: Avril Lavigne - I'm With You

This brings back lots of memories of second year at uni - playing (though it's kinda embarrassing to admit it) acoustic Avril songs with 'Big' Steve.

I did the vocal which I guess makes me Avril.. :/ lol

I don't think we ever did this song but this is my favourite..

Female vocalists don't really feature much in my iTunes collection but there are some choice tracks here and there - this is a great one..

David / RagingAvatar

Saturday, 23 June 2007

I love Gingerbread Men!

I have been wanting to spend some quality time doing geeky things for quite a while now and have found it either hard to find the time or hard to find the energy.

Tonight, Ed Kitchin's wife Jen is away on a church excursion and Ed came over to continue his 'Shadow of The Colossus' epic (see last post) and I am therefore left with my Macbook - which is by no means a bad thing..

Last August I bought 'The Official Blender 2.3 Guide' in an attempt to learn how to use the famously difficult-to-use-at-first 3D modelling program, Blender which is freely available over at Blender.org.

So I made this gingerbread man from the book - I think he's quite cool looking and when I next get chance I'll add bones to him and create a walking animation video..

This is quite a break through for me as it means that I will soon be able to make simple 3D artwork to export and include in my games..

A great portfolio breakthrough!


Here's (almost) the same image - the difference being that it was produced using the Yafray renderer:

And here is a pearl ;-):

And a Yafray version of the pearl..:

3D modelling is *fun*!

David / RagingAvatar

Monday, 18 June 2007

Game Review: Shadow of the Colossus (PlayStation 2 NTSC)

A friend of mine from college, Tom, *made* me play Ico. I mean, seriously, he *made* me play it. Tom ranted and raved about Ico until it was clear that it wasn't debatable - Ico was genius.

Later on, I played it. I finished it. I completely and utterly agreed with Tom.

Ico was an amazing achievement in videogame design - a whole game, set within the walls of one castle - with few enemies, no boss battles - a game where the puzzle, the challenge is in where it is set.

You play as Ico, a small-horn-headed boy who guides Yorda - a mute, ghostly-looking character around the prison-castle in which you're now trapped.

Yorda isn't as brave as Ico and you must find ways to get her through all the different problems that face you as you go.

Ico was genius. Beatiful - so gloriously lit with sun-flares and reflective surfaces that many herald it as that which defines videogames as art.


Shadow of the Colossus (SoTC) it's sequel is equally as stylish. Equally as gorgeous to look at and just as impressive in scope.

You are The Wanderer and must defeat the sixteen Colossi in order to bring your girl back to life.

The Colossi are all equally huge and vary enormously but whether you have to climb up the hair on the Colossus' leg to stab it in the head or trick it to hit a building in order to collapse the bricks onto it's back and shatter it's armor, they are now the puzzle, not the location.

All in all, SoTC is a superb game and I would heartily and openly recommend it to anyone - I'm certain that I'll play through the game again on the now unlocked 'Hard' difficulty.

But I do have two gripes.

First of all, if a game is technologically savvy enough to offer me Progressive Scan 480p graphics on a PS2 game, as well as widescreen modes - then why didn't they think to include Dolby Pro Logic II surround?

The game is beautiful in every respect but the audio not being in surround left a bitter taste in my mouth - I kept returning to the options menu in the hope that I just hadn't seen it last time I looked - but alas, it was an omission.

My second gripe is the game world in which SoTC is set.

It's *huge*. Don't get me wrong - it's size isn't my complaint - its that there just simply isn't anything to do!

The player spends a long time journeying to the location of the Colossus - journeying across barren deserts and through red-rock mountain terrain - but there really isn't anything to do..

I can't understand why the developer couldn't have included some smaller enemies to ambush you on your travels..


I admit though, these are extremely minor gripes.
SoTC is a superb game and should be played by every discerning PS2 owner.

I'll be playing it again - (as well as finishing Ico again as I've lost the save file) and I'll be looking at the rumored PS3 sequels (there are two in development I hear) with great interest..

David / RagingAvatar

Game Review: Killzone (PlayStation 2 NTSC)

Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine in the States once said something along the lines of the fact that Killzone was too ambitious for PS2 - something I heartily agreed with.

True, Killzone does have it's flaws. Character models and weapons are superb - but foliage, walls, colour palette? They all look a little bland, a little simple, a little.. well, unfinished.


Killzone had a *lot* of hype to live up to though didn't it?
Touted as PS2's Halo-beater, the FPS game for PS2 to answer the Xbox-owning critics, to silence their shouts and taunts that ask 'where is PS2's Halo?' - Killzone, I would say, foolishly, was apparently the answer.

Killzone was not designed to be a Halo-beater.
Killzone was not designed to be pitched against a game running on far-superior hardware.

From what I can see, Killzone is a game that was a labour of love for many - a game designed to tell a story and create a believable world - a game that seems ultimately rushed, no doubt as Sony wanted Killzone on the market sooner rather than later.


PlayStation 2's Dual Shock 2 controller can't really stand up to Killzone's fine movement shooting - I fiddled continuously with the analog stick settings in the game's options menu.

The engine couldn't cope with all the extra on-screen objects - trying to pull the data from the disc as fast as it could before the next frame shows, but most of the time, too late.

The dialog and voice acting is poor.

The story, ultimately cheesy and cliched.

But you know what?

I love it.

There. I said it! In your face Killzone-haters! :-)

Killzone's single player mode took a few levels to get up to pace but when it started running - it was sprinting!

My criticism to the level designers at Guerilla Games would be to tell them to give me more of the cooler weapons and vehicles sooner in the game, for a shorter amount of time but give me them more frequently - I spent too much of this game running around with a Helghan rifle when I could have been using a sniper rifle, rocket launcher or something.

Actually, I'll also criticize the one-hit-kill sniper rifle - too easy my friends - if you want to make an FPS, make one - but make it so that the player does the shooting - if I shot someone in the leg in real life, they're not dead straight away - and the game shouldn't respond that way either.

But Killzone's online mode is strangely compelling - I return to it frequently - and the single player game, whilst sometimes a chore, kept me coming back for more and more until it was complete.


If Killzone 2 on PS3 can deal with all that model data, if the level designers work hard at balancing the player's progression in terms of ability and weapon availability, if the game is updated to deal with 'modern' gaming features such as online-co-op with drop-in/drop-out - Killzone 2 will be a truely amazing feat.

But thanks to Killzone PS2's great lastability - Killzone 2's purchase from me is guaranteed. Brilliant.

David / RagingAvatar

Game Review: Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (PlayStation 2: NTSC)

It's not very common for me to finish videogames.

I take a *very* long time usually to finish anything.

Before finishing Metal Gear Solid 3, the last game I finished was probably Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter on Xbox 360 - which proves it was quite a while ago as I haven't even owned an Xbox 360 in about 6 months..

It takes a game that is something special. Something unique. Something that demands me to drive onwards.

A lot of my friends (and perhaps stray readers of this blog) know that I am quite a Final Fantasy fan - but I have only finished one of the FF games, Final Fantasy VII - and have never managed to complete any of the main story arcs in Final Fantasy XI.

But let me be clear. I am a HUGE Metal Gear Solid fan. I have been since before the release of MGS1 in the UK almost 10 years ago and I have even met MGS director Hideo Kojima.

It pains me to admit though that it has taken me this long to finish MGS3.


Let's give a little back story though.
I didn't buy a PlayStation 2 on immediate release, none of it's games appealed to me. It was certainly very expensive and all it had going for it was Timesplitters (though it was excellent but not a 'killer-app' by any means), Fantavision and Tekken Tag Tournament. (I'm more a Virtua Fighter guy..)

When MGS2 was released though - I had to have one.
Fortunately for me, my Dad was kind enough to buy me one for a late birthday present - and I got to play it a lot when I got out of hospital from knee operations.. (I was kind of injured at the time..)

MGS2 wasn't good.
Graphically superb. Gameplay? Amazing. Story?? Incomprehensible.

The story aspect of the game that had made MGS1 so compelling had been ruined by MGS2's over-complex, over-dramatized, sub-character-who-you-never-wanted-to-play-as's-girlfriend's-rambling's.

MGS2 was an ambitious game, apparently, according to Kojima Production's Ryan Payton in a recent podcast, ruined by poor translation.

I can understand that that may have been a cause but this cost the fanbase dearly as it greatly put me off MGS3.

Don't get me wrong, I bought it as soon as I could. I loved it. At first. But quickly got disheartened in fear of it becoming like MGS2..


More fool me.


'Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater' is a tremendous mark of one team's vision of videogame excellence.

Graphically? Just what you would expect from Kojima-san's team, excellent. MGS3 pushes the PS2 *really* far whilst having a versatile engine capable of lots of simultaneous on-screen explosions and gun-fights.

The fact that MGS3 uses its in-game engine for it's very dramatic and cinematic cut-scenes is indicative of the quality of the rendering engine.

It may not be a very manly thing to admit, but I did actually shed a tear at the end of MGS3. The story was that good. That compelling. That involving and that emotional.

The soundtrack of the game is techno/classical throughout - apart from the emotional scenes towards the end of the game which opt for classical-heart-string-tugging anthems.

Harry Gregson-Williams' composer of the 'Armageddon', 'Chicken Run', Shrek trilogy, 'The Chronicles of Narnia' soundtracks, shows amazing talent at working with other composers - he reworks Noriko Hibino's MGS theme music with his own style and mastery of orchestral range to appeal to your sense of patriotism and loyalty, as does the game's story.

Needless to say, I bought the soundtrack CD.


I shall go this far with this game:
It is the finest example of videogames growing up.
A beautiful story, compelling action and gameplay.
Heart-wrenching plot that drives the player to complete the game and press onwards.

'Metal Gear Solid 3' is one of the finest games I've ever played - not all of it, such as the 'eating' gameplay mechanic or the requirement of player patience (well, the 'stealth' genre isn't for everyone..) may make it a little less liked by some - but MGS3 has guaranteed the safe arrival in the near future of a PlayStation 3 and 'Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots' in my gaming cabinet..

David / RagingAvatar

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Video: Scrubs/Boston - More Than A Feeling

This is without a doubt my most watched video on YouTube, makes me chuckle with a real belly-laugh every. single. time. :-)

This is just genius..


Video: Fort Minor - High Road (Live @ AOL)

I'm not a huge hip-hop fan - I don't have masses of it within my music collection but I'm a sucker for Mike Shinoda's stuff.

This is a song called 'High Road' taken from their album 'The Rising Tied'.

It's been getting quite a bit of play on my iPod lately - *man* I lurrve my iPod, it's like a music-habit-monitor device.. LOVE. IT.


Saturday, 9 June 2007

A combination of two great, great things.. :-)

Scrubs and The Fray?! Excellent. :-)

I actually *love* Turk. Even if his Mom does look like Morgan Freeman.


"In this farewell, there's no blood, there's no alibi.."

This is my top song of possibly the whole year.

Previously, Damien Rice's 'Cannonball' had been firmly sitting at my number 1 in iTunes but 'What I've Done' by Linkin Park, taken from their new album 'Minutes to Midnight' has had over 60 plays since I bought it on the 23/04/07 - so that's in under 7 weeks. That's a lot for one song!

The video is actually, quite disappointing, Chester, LP's frontman looks a little like Rob Halford from 80's metal band, Judas' Priest, I'm not a fan of the leather-village-people look.

SUPERB song though.


"On the night you left I came over, we peeled the freckles from our shoulders.."

I wish there was some way that I could easily upload (via RSS preferably) my iTunes top 50 tracks..

Death Cab for Cutie's 'Summer Skin' was one of those Tuesday free downloads from the iTunes Store - and I didn't give it much of a listen at first - but lately it's been soaring up my chart.

Check it out. The video is great but the audio quality isn't too hot - but was the best I could find.


"I never knew.. I never knew that everything was fallen through"

My girlfriend, Laura, is a bit of a The Fray fan.

Some of you might know that I am quite a music snob. I don't like adopting other people's music, I like to discover things for myself.

I don't like 'mainstream' music very much and I don't typically 'do' MTV bands.

Forcing me out of my comfort zone - Laura has inadvertently made me addicted to The Fray.

This is the embedded player from their website - I might even buy the album one day.. :-)


EDIT: I removed the embedded player - it got too annoying for me - so it must have been annoying for you.. You can get to it at TheFrayMusic.co.uk