It’s official, Valve’s digital distribution service Steam is coming to Mac, and bringing Left 4 Dead 2, Team Fortress 2, Counter-Strike, Portal, and the Half-Life series (along with Source) with it this April. But there’s more. Apparently, through Steam Play, gamers will be able to play supported titles (anything built on Source, it seems) on a PC (say, at work) then continue the game from the same point on their Mac (say, at home). Both versions of these games come bundled in one price—which is completely, totally, unbelievably forward-thinking and awesome.
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Last week was 3 days at home working hard, with a seminar at Sheffield Hallam University by the CILT on the recession (but as usual became a row about bus regulation), then 2 days in Newcastle at the Industrial Research Strategy Group presenting on freight modal shift and it’s decline as crown on EU freight transport policy.
Then Saturday I was up at 7.30 and did some full on gardening, tipping and sorting my compost bins, some great compost from there, and all from teabags and vegetable clippings and cardboard! Beds nicely rejuvenated after I discarded the broad beans that had died of chocolate spot and the cauliflowers that had frankly been frozen and thawed so many times that all but 3 were rotten. Colected my parcels from the Post Office, 2 nice new pairs of trousers, a copy of a Zombies: A Field Guide, and True20: Revised Edition. Sunday was an aching day for me, but we got our act together and went and bought a Pussy Willow tree, a Virgina creeper and a sieve to sieve the remaining compost of the not-quite ready bits of cardboard.. Then a good shop at Asda and home. We’ve been watching Sopranos quite intensively. We finished Season 3 last week and started Season 4 this weekend.
I have been reading Games of Thrones by George RR Martin and (despite the fact that everyone else read it 14 years ago) have really got into it. Will not buy into the current rpg, but I so would like to play it at a con or locally.. hint hint. I have been reading OpenQuest, which is a very nice lighter (it’s not LITE) version of the RuneQuest I played for so many years. I running adventures set in the Savage North at Cons all year, and I am looking forward to it. I also bought and read the Dungeon of the Bear, the classic T&T dungeon from the mists of time.. Wow! What an amazing artefact of it’s time. Traps, puzzles, swinging doors, utterly inexplicable locked rooms containing 3 orcs who must somehow be in suspended animation to have survived in there. I’ve never run T&T as a GMed game, so I have madly offered it as a game for the March21st TomCon, with Savage North as the alternative. I suspect I may need to re-acquaint myself with the rules. True20 calls me as ever, offering the lost hope of a class/level/d20 rpg that is playable, flexible and doesn’t set my hackles up.. I have already bought more rpgs this year than I will run in 5, so nothing new there, but I hope to sell on quite a few at the Con-Quest bring and buy stall, or ebay if needed.
The weather improves, I have trays of seedlings popping up all over a table in Matt’s room, and having cleared the back bed the weekend before last all look good for the spring garden. It’ll be time to brush off the Leica and Canon and get out for some photography.
Image by tzunder via Flickr
Monday-Wednesday. Tried to read for work and instead worked at all the management stuff that stops me being a proper academic! Thursday. Went round to Martin H at night and played 2 good games of Carcassonne. I love Carcassonne. Friday. Put loads of stuff on ebay, my friend Ian N came ane we hot tubbed until late. Ann was unwell and had to go to bed. Saturday. Bubble wrapped greenhouse, Ann and I got cold but greenhouse got warm. Played ‘Who wants to be a Miillionaire" on the Wii with Ann and crashed to bed early. Today skidded and slid and ended up at the bottom of the hill. 3.5hours of shovelling later, entire estate snow free. Feel like very civic minded Heracles. Then planted seeds for germination, planted two tubs of bulbs and laid out a survey for Ann’s consultancy.
Busy week which was extremely productive. Flew to Hamburg Sunday evening. Amused to hear that they have been surprised by the depth of the winter and been caught out with inadequate grit and sand, so the streets are like ice rinks. The reputed Germanic model where householders clearing the street outside their home seems to have fallen apart in apartment based Hamburg with the city and tenants both refusing to clear the deadly glaciers outside the flats. Sadly my luggage didn’t manage to make it over with me and was still in Manchester. The hotel didn’t recognise my Priority Club status and hadn’t upgraded my room until I reminded them.
From a good meeting to plan trains from Cologne to Gyor I went back to Hamburg airport, picked up my luggage which had just arrived, and flew to Dusseldorf where I had the tightest of connections for a flight to Newcastle. I managed the transfer with only minutes to spare. I arrived in Newcastle certain my bags would be lost again, but no they arrived! A wheel had been broken off, so that’s a luggage claim to do. The hotel hadn’t upgraded my room despite the fact that their website showed availability of the relevant room, but I couldn’t be arsed to argue.
Tuesday we had a very good meeting about paper writing in our research group. It was good to take 2.5 hours and talk, with no rush or panic, and actually use our brains for once. Some good plans made. I then went and met Matt, and we had a good meal at the ‘Cheeky Duck’ in Newcastle, followed by watching the ‘Avatar’ film in 3D. We didn’t like it. Neither of us warmed to the 3D. I found it’s retelling of the genocide of Native Americans (but with a happy ending this time) frankly exploitative and Matt thought they could have used all the money to make a whole more better films.
Wednesday I attended the second Principal Investigator Development Programme course session. It was great fun and quite liberating to spend some time with academics from other disciplines, many of whom are closer to my original roots than where I work today. Anyhow, in the afternoon we did the Myers Briggs self evaluation and then compared it with the results of the MBTI questionnairre we had done some weeks ago. Anyway, I am either INTJ or maybe INTP, it depends on whether my planning behaviour is learnt or preferred. I am fairly sure it is learnt, which makes me INTP.
NTP types are quiet, thoughtful, analytical individuals who tend to spend long periods of time on their own, working through problems and forming solutions. They are curious about systems and how things work. Consequently, they are frequently found in careers such as science, architecture, and law. INTPs tend to be less at ease in social situations or in the "caring professions," although they enjoy the company of those who share their interests. They also tend to be impatient with the bureaucracy, rigid hierarchies, and the politics prevalent in many professions. They prefer to work informally with others as equals.
INTPs organize their understanding of any topic by articulating principles, and they are especially drawn to theoretical constructs. Having articulated these principles for themselves, they can demonstrate remarkable skill in explaining complex ideas to others in simple terms, especially in writing. On the other hand, their ability to grasp complexity may also lead them to provide overly detailed explanations of "simple" ideas, and listeners may judge that the INTP makes things more difficult than they are. To the INTP, however, this is incomprehensible: They are merely presenting all the information.
Given their independent nature, INTPs may prefer working alone to leading or following in a group. During interactions with others, if INTPs are focused on gathering information, they may seem oblivious, aloof, or even rebellious—when in fact they are concentrating on listening and understanding. However, INTPs’ extraverted intuition often gives them a quick wit, especially with language. They may defuse tension through comical observations and references. They can be charming, even in their quiet reserve, and are sometimes surprised by the high esteem in which their friends and colleagues hold them.
When INTPs feel insulted, however, they may respond with sudden, cutting criticism. After such an incident, INTPs are likely to be as bewildered as the recipient. They have broken the rules of debate and exposed their raw emotions. To INTPs, this is the crux of the problem: emotions must be dealt with logically—because improperly handled emotions, INTPs believe, can only harm. Source: Wikipedia, Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
On Thursday my PhD student and I spent a good 2.5 hours on his survey results and developing the next round of his Delphi Study, things are looking up for him. Then a long cramped train journey home and a Friday spent almost wholly on expenses!
Here I am at my son and daughter-in-law’s house. We drove down in the morning in two cars (thanks Pam for lending me yours) so that we could fit the big new plasma TV into the back seat and surprise the heck out of them. It worked, they were quite literally speechless when they walked into their lounge and found a 42inch plasma and a new AV amp sitting there.
Hyun-Mi, her Mum and Ann did us proud with a great Christmas dinner, the venison was a great idea, and then Mike and I settled down to install the TV and amp. Several hours later and remarkably few harsh words later and a hi-def rendition of ‘Life’ was followed by a long session of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 in HD. A success all round.
As one left wing journo once said, the most irritating thing about the Daily Mail after it’s rabid right wing nonsense, is that it is a very well made newspaper. Ah well, I read the money and health sections on the flight over and they were very good. I then read Newsweek which also has surprised me over the last year by being quite urbane and liberal and readable. I am now in Vilnius in Lithuania and my luggage is still in Germany.. ah well..
Oh, and the Queen looked very smart and pretty glam at the Royal Variety Performance, which I was pleased to see was in Blackpool. It’s time that Blackpool reinvented itself. Not so worried about the Queen.
Very pleased to see that Dom has posted his ‘vox pop’ of Furnace 2009, some great short face clips from all sorts of people. Love the last one, my dear friend Simon.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXbcK_N1Lyw
Time for a snooze..
The wonderful thing about the Open Gaming Licence and other such open licenses is that it has allowed a plethora of retro, alternate and innovative games derived from Open Content and the core System Reference Documents, such as the 3.5 SRD, the RuneQuest SRD, the Traveller SRD and others. Up until now the RuneQuest SRD has generated the GORE game system, which looks to be rooted in gothic horror games, and now is joined by OpenQuest.
OpenQuest uses the classic D100 rules mechanic, which uses percentages to express the chance of success or failure. It is a complete and easy to play Fantasy Roleplaying game, with monsters, magic and exotic locales. Open Quest is based on the Mongoose RuneQuest SRD (MRQ SRD), with ideas from previous editions of Chaosium’s RuneQuest and Stormbringer 5th, mixed in with some common sense house rulings from the author’s twenty years of experience with the D100 system. Everything in the core OpenQuest rule book, except the illustrations by Simon Bray, is open gaming content under the Open Gaming Licence. This means that you can use all or part of the book to produce your own games, rules, adventures even for commercial release as long as you include the Open Gaming Licence included in the back of the book.
Why another d100 game when we have Mongoose publishing RuneQuest and Basic Roleplaying from Chaosium? The answer has to be that OpenQuest is both a modern lean game system and also a game that recreates the retro feel of the older versions of RuneQuest, specifically RuneQuest 1 and 2 from Chaosium. OpenQuest has cleaned the Mongoose SRD of not just many of the new systems that Mongoose added, but has gone further and removed many of the older BRP stalwarts. The skill list has been pared down and rather than the tendency in Mongoose books to add new skills, this takes a rules ‘lighter’ approach. The religions and magic hark back to the Chaosium RuneQuest days, so spirit magic, divine magic and sorcery behave far more in a RQ2 style, maybe a little more cinematically. Strike ranks, hit locations, hit points for weapons, are all gone leaving the first genuinely light d100 game. On the other hand some parts of the Mongoose additons to RQ are there. Hero points, which I am never totally sure about, are here; as is a view of experience rolls that frankly sits uneasy with me. I have never seen the ‘tick chasing’ that people talk of in the usual Chaosium d100 experience systems, and if it happens below my notice then it’s never danaged the game. I shall go back to the RQ3 experience rules which are simple, clean and elegant.
OpenQuest was released for a few months as a wholly free pdf, an act of massive generosity by the publisher D101 games. Thousands of copies were downloaded before the full version reverted to a (very inexpensive) paid offering, and the print copy is very reasonably priced in line with other ‘retro’ games such as Labyrinth Lord or OSRIC. The OpenQuest Developers Kit is a free SRD from which others can build their own games, and the OpenQuest Companion wiki is growing with ideas and additions to the game. The exciting news is that a new ‘Hyborian style’ setting for OpenQuest: The Savage North will be with us soon, written by the talented John Ossoway. Othe developers are known to be working on ‘powered by OpenQuest’ games even now.
OpenQuest is not a pale imitation, it carves a distinctly simple and cinematic path between the complicated route that Mongoose takes and the encyclopaedic vagueness of the current BRP from Chaosium. However it still shares such a core with both that any previously published product from any other d100 game is easily utilised with OpenQuest and vice-versa if you wish. I shall port some of my favourite rules from RQ3 and Stormbringer back into OQ, and I could easily see a ref porting a lot of the rules from OQ into BRP or a Mongoose based game.
[I have added my affiliate code to the link above so I may get a few clacks in my bag if you buy something]