Thursday, February 26, 2004

Winston Churchill: If you would know a man's character, only observe how he plays a game.
James Crosfield writes:

Do you fancy going to Salute this year (24th April) I could pick you up on the way to London. I could also call at Salisbury and pick up anyone from there. Quite happy for you to advertise my Salute taxi on Nimrods.

I will order tickets and parking in advance in about three weeks time.

Drop me an email if you fancy going and would like a lift with James. I can't make it this year but had a good time when I went last year ( in spite of selling off my copies of Empires in Arms and Pacific War in the Bring and Buy at stupidly low prices.)
I am soloing Clash of Giants, the Marne scenario, at the moment. Excellent hex wargame, simple rules, big counters, ideal for gaming geezers like me. It's turn 5 and the Germans are running out of steam, and looking nervously at the huge fortified camp of Paris sitting menacingly on their right flank. The BEF have rallied, and are cautiously moving forward again from the deep south where they finally stopped running.

Solo gaming, that's what I am reduced to these days. Still, I am going to Baycon with Nick this year, 15th - 18th April, where the guest list includes the legendary Reiner Knizia. Now a game of Euphrat & Tigris with the designer - that would compensate for the weeks of gaming famine!

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

It's years since I did this, but I've decided to build my own PC again. I've been having a lot of fun with my new digital camera, but my grotty old work laptop doesn't really cut it for processing the photos.

These days there are alternatives to the beige tower for the home system builder. You can get huge perpex cases full of flashing neon lights. (Hmmm - not sure if that's me somehow.) Or one of these babies - a Shuttle barebones system, which is what I have ordered. It's a compact aluminium case with its own form factor motherboard built in. Just plug in an AMD XP2500 chip, a 120Gb Seagate Barracuda drive, and half a gig of memory, and you've got a pretty nice system for £350. Plus another £70 for Windows XP which I am buying, yes Gavin, buying as well. Only two slots but it has lots of connectivity and GeForce graphics built in. Should be pretty good for games too.......

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Episode 1 of "Dunkirk" on BBC2 last night was excellent. Filmed in the same edgy handheld style as "Band of Brothers", which can deliver real emotional punch when you briefly glimpse shocking events almost out of the corner of your eye. It also used a lot of archive footage intercut with the acted scenes, which I thought might be irritating but actually was very effective and gave us scenes of large-scale chaos and destruction which would have been impossibly expensive to do any other way.

I'm still shocked and angered by the scene where British POWs were crammed into a barn by the SS then massacred with grenades. Knowing that this was a reconstruction from a first-hand account makes it worse somehow.

I also felt a vague sense of shame throughout the episode. The British Army of 1940 was such a shambles - years of disarmament and appeasement had left us totally unable to stand up to the Wehrmacht. And from what I've read of WW2 history this amateurism persisted well into 1942 - Narvik, Dunkirk, Crete, Gazala, Singapore, a miserable sequence of botched defeats, often at the hands of inferior forces.

Anyway, unmissable stuff, I'll be there again tonight for episode 2, with the VCR running too.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Someone just failed to sell a Medieval Castle on EBay!
Alan Emrich, of Totaler Krieg fame, is running an eleven week game design course at Stanford University:

Principles of Game Design is a ‘how to’ course designed to teach you the fundamental philosophies of game design and apply them in a hands-on manner using a step-by-step process that develops your ‘game design muscles.’

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Talking of work, I have a new boss now who is actively getting me lots of interesting work to do. Which explains why the blog has taken a back seat recently. Blogging was a way for me to stay sane through months of under-utilization and boredom at work. So don't worry if I don't post much - it probably means I'm happy and busy in my work.
Good grief, I've just returned from a meeting where yet another departmental reorganization was announced, with more to follow. And we're still coming to terms with the fallout from the last two reorgs. As a company we seem to be reaching the point where reorganization is more or less continuous, there are never times when the structure is stable for a while until the next upheaval - it's all upheaval. Maybe I could write a trendy new management guru type book about The Liquid Company and make loads of money so I wouldn't have to work in one any more......

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

The flat-warming party last Saturday went really really well. Lots of people turned up. Before a party I always have this secret cold fear that no-one will come and I will finally be forced to face the truth that I've been hiding from for so long - that I've become a sad old man with no friends. But no, not yet anyway - the place was full of happy looking folk who had made the effort to come over to Farnham on a windy winter's night.

Phil and Harriet did a fantastic job of the food, they spent the whole of Saturday in a gin-fuelled haze, producing delicious nibbles for the throng.

One game was actually played, at 2am by Nick Phil and me. Nick was desperate to play a game but my collection was locked in a room where a married couple were sleeping, so the only game available was "Formula Carts". You can't get this in the shops, only one copy exists, designed and manufactured by Phil as in infant. It's a bit low in decision points, but it was an exciting race and it only took 10 minutes to complete (always a plus for any game!) I wonder how much it would fetch on eBay?