Why Are Footballers so Impatient?

So let me open by saying that i do not in any profess to have even a basic understanding of the world of professional football. As an outsider however i have noticed something that strikes me as quite bizarre.

From what I can tell the world of professional footballing, the community and its fan seem to be very impatient. Players and back room staff only seem to have a few games to prove that they are the master stroke that people believe (and value) them to be. The people who seem to bear the brunt of this are managers.

This blog post is inspired by the apparent news that David Moyes, the current manager of Manchester United is facing the sack. This rumour has as of the writing of this post been unconfirmed. Following a string of sub-par performances by one of the most widely known and most prestigious clubs in the world (Man U.) It has been suggested that their leader has been given his marching orders.

The Crest of Manchester United Football Club

The Crest of Manchester United Football Club

Lets first look at Manchester United. Their name, quite rightly, is synonymous with greatness. They (as i am lead to believe) have one of the most consistent performances in history finishing in the Top 3 of the English Premier League regularly for a very long time. Their list of awards and championships is daunting and they are without a doubt one of the best clubs in the world. Something worth noting is that during the majority of this dominance they were led by one man… Sir Alex Ferguson. This man is often seen as one of the best football team managers in the world due to his achievements with the Manchester United team.

It was a sad day for fans of the club when Sir Alex decided to retire. Also concerns were high as who would fill his great shoes. The replacement was selected, the former manager of Everton Football Club, David Moyes. He certainly had a tough job ahead of him but the board of directors were confident and so was Moyes, being offered and signing a 6-year contract.

Sir Alex Ferguson, former manager of Man U.

Sir Alex Ferguson, former manager of Man U.

David Moyes, the new Man U. manager

David Moyes, the new Man U. manager










A mere 9-months later…less than a single season in charge it may be that Mr Moyes is on his way out. The reason for this is that Manchester United’s performance hasn’t been as good as expected.

Well i say, is this not obvious? Of course a team is not going to do as well when they have had a huge leadership change. The first leadership change in 27 years. Moyes surely has to build relationships with the team, he has to get used to their style, the team has to adapt to his.

Now I’m sure the ruling powers at Man U. have their reasons and i am not going to stand up and shout that they should keep Moyes in but it does just seem a touch hasty. This isn’t the first time this has happened either. It seems to me that instant results are expected and if a team doesn’t win it has to be dealt with and something has to change. Which makes sense, but is the solution always a major change such as sacking your head coach/manager?

Maybe I have missed something as a non-football fan but it just strikes me as odd. If you are a fan and can offer some insight, I’d love to hear it in the comments below.

Shiny New Things!

Thanks to a lovely person called James i now have a great new Logo/splash screen that you will see attached to all my game related stuff. Here it is making it’s internet debut! Let me know what you think of it.Logo-1080

Film Review: The World’s End

In a most unusual twist i have made two cinema trips this week! This time i journeyed with work colleagues to see the latest offering from Edgar Wright; The World’s End.

The World's End teaser poster

Let’s open this by saying this film is brilliant. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and the sounds coming from the theater suggest others were as well. As the third film in the ‘Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy’ (along with Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) this film had big boots to fill. As a general rule, when Edgar, Simon and Nick they seem to produce good stuff. The World’s End delivers on all these expectations and more.

The basic premise of the film sees 5 friends coming together for a reunion. The aim of this reunion to finish a legendary pub crawl in their home town, but not all is as it seems. I shall leave the details there at risk of divulging spoilers. The setup for this story leaves it wide open for some humorous moments and the script delivers every time. We have some great jokes together with excellent comedic timing in a combination that will raise a smile on even the grumpiest viewers face.

The humble Mint Choc Chip Cornetto, the last flavor in the trilogy to make an appearance.

As part of the trilogy we see some familiar faces join Simon Pegg and Nick frost in their adventure and it all adds to the quality, with the chemistry clearly coming through. The film rolls at along at a good pace, it never seemed to rush a scene giving it the time required before whisking you off to the next with no hint of dawdling. One thing that jarred slightly was that the ending wasn’t quite what I had expected. This isn’t to say the ending is bad, it just didn’t take the path i thought it would.

As i said at the opening of this review i really enjoyed this film. I may even place it as my favourite in the trilogy, although i will need to re-watch Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz to confirm that. It was a great film, full of laughs and fun and would strongly recommend you go and see it if you get the chance!

I give The World’s End 11 pubs out of 12!

Film Review: Pacific Rim

Alt title: Megazord vs Godzilla

That name probably got canned for copy-write reasons.

Anyway back on topic. So I went to see ‘Pacific Rim’ with my good friend John and thought i would write down my thoughts.

Pacific Rim movie trailer

So lets start by saying it was better than I expected, although I did have pretty low expectations. I think my opening line to this review highlights that. I’ll be honest when I saw the trailer I wasn’t impressed. I though it looked like a twelve-year-old had decided to combine Transformers, Godzilla and Iron man. Alas the reviews came in and general people seemed to like it, so I figured screw it Guillermo del Toro hasn’t let me down before so why not.


Overall, it was OK, I certainly don’t regret going to see it but I’m not going to urge you to drop whatever you are doing and see it immediately (I mean come on, it’s no Avengers).

I would say if you love gratuitous action scenes showing giant robots fighting giant lizard-alien-monster things then this film is a good pick for you. It very competently handles some great giant fight scenes. It’s got nicely paced action and doesn’t suffer from “Transformers syndrome”, so you can see whats going on and you get a great sense of the scale of the fights and such. I also enjoyed watching it, the story just about holds the fights scenes together. The acting is overall not bad (Idris Elber deserves more of my attention in future) and I didn’t check my watch at any point in the film, so it was clearly well paced.  As I said it generally a good outing.

Giant monsters are cool


On the other hand there were a few issues that I will raise, doing my very best not to spoil anything in the process. As I mentioned the story holds things together, but it’s not going to win any awards. It was standard action film script #3. ‘Person does good, tragic event, person rallies back, insurmountable odds, person wins’. This isn’t necessarily bad, it’s a good formula and it works just don’t expect anything different. It’s also a film that attempts to do some ‘science’. Now as a ‘science’ person I always pay attention to these bits and well aside from the cringe-worthy geek the science isn’t too bad, although there are one or two glaring problems.

Another issue i had is that two of the major characters look very similar i couldn’t help shake the idea that they were going to turn out to be related, they weren’t…or were they! To avoid spoilers it could be either. The last big thing that i will criticise is the script. They covered some interesting topics and they set up some great things…only then to never revisit them. Slightly frustrating, especially when they would include random bits that actually detracted or confused the situation. I will mention ‘digital and analogue’ at this point and when you see it you will get the reference.

Movie science…often bad


Overall it was a solid film, despite my moaning I did enjoy it. It’s faults didn’t detract from the experience. Pacific Rim is a straight up action film that isn’t going to radically shake up the genre. I will tip my hat to Del Toro who manages to present the epic action set pieces in an easy to follow way without detracting from them. If you get a chance to see it, I think it’s worth a watch especially if giant robots are your thing.

I will activate 3 thumb rockets out of 5. (Another tenuous reference, sorry).

It was always gonna be like this…

Hey guys,

In true Josh Barker fashion, this blog has fallen by the way side. It has severely suffered from a lack of updates.

Well no more!

I am going to try in earnest to be a lot more productive with not only this website but with my life in general! So if you see me, make sure i am doing something!

To kick off this new productivity i have here a little game review, the next in my 60s Series. I talk very quickly about Rogue Legacy. There will also be a new “60 Minutes of Starcraft” video going onto YouTube very shortly. SO check back for that.

If you want to know more about any of this, leave a comment and i’ll get back to you.

Enjoy the review.

Inspiration Mars?

As you may already be aware, I love space. I have always loved space and I imagine I will continue to do so. Unfortunately, I was born 19 years after humanity set foot on the Moon. While I missed out, I am aware of the huge impact this had, the technology and inspiration from this mission is still felt today. But last week, something changed, a press conference was announced and rumours started flying of a manned mission to Mars in 2018. This was the stuff of dreams, could this announcement by my Kennedy’s “we choose to go the Moon…” speech, was I about to get swept up in my version of Apollo fever. It was certainly starting to look that way.

Header image for Inspiration MarsThe press conference was being held by the first space tourist, multi-millionaire Dennis Tito. He was presenting a ‘mission for America’ something that involved a technical paper he was releasing on March 3rd. This paper looked at the feasibility of taking a two person crew on a fly by of Mars and returning them safely to Earth. Amazingly the paper showed that, using current technology, this mission was entirely possible. Exploring even further showed that engineers and experts worldwide were agreeing, thanks to a special alignment of the planets, we could in fact get to Mars and back, using current rockets in 501 days.

With news like this you can see why I was excited for the press conference. As buzz built my colleagues and I prepared at work for a busy couple of days after the conference. Press statements were made and arrangements for media crews to join us on Wednesday night to film our reactions to the announcement. So with 5 of us sat in front of the big screen at work, the conference began.

The panellists ready to make their announcement to the world

Inspiration Mars panel (left to right): Dennis Tito, Taber MacCallum, Jonathon Clark & Jane Poynter

Dennis Tito was sat with colleagues and co-authors of the paper in front of the gathered press to make a history changing announcement. It all started very positive. Tito stated without a waver in his voice that while great progress in robotic missions had been made, human spaceflight have flagged behind. His intention with the Inspiration Mars Foundation is to ‘bridge the gap between the International Space Station and the upcoming SLS/Orion missions. It was a non-commercial mission that would serve to inspire future generations to push them selves to the edge of what was possible. He then said “We are launching January 5th 2018″… Wow! This was it, we were going, despite all the odds and the naysayers, that is what he said, ‘we are launching’ not we ‘might‘ be launching. One for the history books, my cap is doffed for you Dennis!

But wait, almost as quickly as he stated we were going, he followed it up with possibly the most damning statement of any project. “I will personally fund the mission until 2014.” Now this statement might seem positive enough, but if you read between the lines (and listen to what he then proceeded to say) it became very clear that they have a severe shortage of cash! This went from being the biggest news to being something we will probably have all forgotten about in a few weeks. They were looking for investors. Sigh.

An artists impression of Mars.

This fake Mars is about as far as you will get on only two years funding. (Also why didn’t they use a real picture of Mars?)

So that was it, with one fell swoop, one measly sentence I began to lose interest, why have we gathered everyone here, there is no mission just some rich persons pipe dream. But that wasn’t the end of this debacle…oh no, grab your popcorn because it gets more interesting.

The subtitle, “A mission for America” didn’t quite sit right, until the latter half of the press conference. As it happens, Dennis Tito is very much a man of his age. He made it very clear and almost outright said it, this was an American mission, to launch and American rocket crewed by American astronauts (presumably to an American Mars? see picture above). They were not looking for help from other countries, this was revealed after a good 60 seconds of awkward shuffling when asked about other countries. I find this quite frankly bewildering. Let’s ignore for a moment that space travel is slowly but surely getting more and more international (16 countries involved in the ISS), let’s ignore the ultimate aim for worldwide collaboration and acceptance, but let’s instead concentrate on Tito.

You see Dennis is most well known for being the first space tourist, but back during his attempt to buy a ticket he was flat out refused by, guess who, America! NASA didn’t want anything to do with him, in the end it was the Russians who agreed to train him and fly him up there, in fact there were serious discussion about banning Tito from the american section of the ISS! WTF! And here he is, for want of a better word, ‘pissing’ all over that relationship, just to push the “America the great” viewpoint of old.

Dennis Tito in the Russian Soyuz that took him into space

Dennis sitting next to a RUSSIAN cosmonaut, climbing out of a RUSSIAN Soyuz!

Now i am not a savvy business man, but holding a conference in which you are attempting to secure investors and then outright saying that you only want American involvement seems like a small misstep to me. A quick look at the Forbes rich list shows that of the 100 richest billionaires only 36 of them are American, now yes, ok any one of those 36 could pay for the mission with no problems, but cutting 64 other very rich people out of the deal seems very short-sighted, especially when the only donation you have had so far was $10 from a 6-year old (probably made up for emotional marketing nonsense).

Armfuls o Cash!

Current estimates suggest Tito will provide $100 million out of the possible $2 billion they need. You need more Tito!

The overall feeling after this conference is a massive sense of disappointment, it had a huge potential, but that seems to have disappeared. This complex, time-sensitive mission needed to have all the parts in place from the get go to succeed, and currently this one doesn’t have the most important part. Not only that but Tito has potentially soured some relationships with the dated way he shunned collaboration.

As it stands I feel there is literally no chance that this mission will even get off the ground. As far as I am concerned this is just some rich mans dream, maybe I will sit and design a mission to colonise Mars there will be swimming pools and blackjack and a theatre for Las Vegas style shows, I can do it for $1 Trillion dollars, of which I have no doubt I can raise. You would say I’m mad, but this is exactly what Tito has said and he like me has no money to get his project started. Maybe  I will be surprised, maybe there are some rich American people who share similar views and maybe they will pay for Tito’s American eagle to make Mars the red in the Star Spangled Banner.

What a Fiasco!


Well, I have decided it is time for my first written game review. I have done video 60 second reviews (here) but this tie I wanted to dedicate a little more time to it. So here goes.

In this entry I am going to review the pen and paper role playing game, ‘Fiasco’ by Jason Morningstar.

Splash and tagline for Fiasco

The tag line pretty well captures the spirit of the game.

To start off with I will define a few things for players new this area of gaming, bear with me if you know all this. A pen and paper role playing game is a game you play with friends/other people and is based around you doing a bit of acting. You design a character and then you play that role throughout the game, deciding what they would do, what equipment they might use, how they might interact with others. As you might be able to work out, role playing games (RPG’s) are pretty flexible and open. A pen and paper RPG is not played on a computer buy instead, most likely round a table with friends using pens and papers to record the action, track equipment etc. The most popular example of this is Dungeons & Dragons. Most role play games have one person running the game, a Game master or Dungeon master or something like that. They look after the world, design stories and plots for your characters to follow and conjure up enemies and problems to beat.

Personally I really like RPG’s, I find they are incredibly social, it’s a great opportunity to meet up with a group of mates and hang out for several hours. Also they have a heap more freedom then any videogame I’ve ever played, giving you a chance to get creative. So that covers the basics of RPG’s, now onto Fiasco.

Fiasco is a little different to most RPG’s in a couple of ways. First of all Fiasco doesn’t have a game master, it doesn’t have someone building the world for you and ensuring you play within the rules of the game, in fact there are very few rules indeed. Most RPG’s have a strict set of rules and mechanics to work out what happens. “So you want to break down the door? Well take your strength score, roll a dice add those together with any modifiers you have. Does your total beat the door? Yes, congrats!” This is generally how most RPG’s go, revolving round stats and dice. Fiasco is all about acting out the character. The best way to describe it is, acting out a film and that is how it is designed, with a session expected to last around 2-3 hours. “But hey! With out a Games master how do we know what to do?” I hear you cry, well have no fear. In Fiasco you work together to work out a story and through your roleplaying you make this happen. Fiasco does have a small amount of guidance though; this is part of the setup.

Fiasco Setup

During the setup for Fiasco, you work out a rough framework for your session. First thing to do is pick a setting, so Gangster London, Bible belt America, a Submarine, a Theatre, the list of free play lists is quite extensive. After that you roll a load of dice, this is to generate some random numbers. These numbers are used to start determining how the player’s characters are related, important locations, objects that might feature and characters wants and needs. These features are then used to give you some context and a framework to start on and develop through the story.


Act 1

After the setup you will have a rough idea of certain elements that will feature in the story as well as the relationships between all you characters. In the two games I have played we took a small amount of time here, to work out exactly how the story would start and some vague links between the elements. Now we are ready to start act 1.

The way fiasco plays is you take it in turns to direct a scene from the story. These scenes usually involved characters interacting and doing something, but can include monologues, just descriptions of actions or anything else that is necessary or relevant. So you describe what’s going to happen, then you and all involved parties begin acting it out. Part way through the scene your friends will decide if it’s going to end well or badly for your character, and assign you a dice (these become important later on). You go round, so that each player gets two scenes then Act 1 ends. Act 1 tends to be used to set up the action for Act 2, so coming up with plans and schemes that will almost certainly go wrong!

Poster for Fargo

Fargo is one of the films that inspired Fiasco.


The Tilt

Plans have been made, traps have been set, and relationships have been forged. All is going well until… THE TILT!

Halfway through Fiasco everything goes wrong! Just like any good film something that happens that is just not expected and chaos ensues. This is what the Tilt table is for. After act 1 you roll for 2 elements on this table, they represent some type of disaster. So someone might die, something might get set alight, an object may go missing, betrayal anything and everything could happen.  This is where it gets interesting.


Act 2

So act 2 starts up playing out very similarly to act 1. Everyone gets to participate in or direct 2 scenes each that start to resolve conflicts, action plans and generally start to conclude the story. All this has to make progress towards or resolve what happened in the tilt. Although the tilt is rolled before act 2 starts that is not necessarily when happened. This makes for interesting scenes as you work towards that goal, or try and deal with the fall out. While act 1 has the players establish a lot, act2 definitely sees lots of resolution. It all changes slightly in act 2 as the player gets to decide the outcome of their characters scene. So you may opt to negate the outcomes you received in the first act or concentrate on maxing out positive or negative for an exciting ending. Action will ramp up, characters motives and schemes will unravel as things go wrong, but what will happen in the aftermath!



The aftermath is when you find out what happened. You take the outcomes you have been assigned (dice) and you roll them on the aftermath table to see well or badly your character overall. So you roll positive against negative, work out the difference and that gives you an outcome, ranging from “The worst thing in the world” to “Fan-F***ing-tastic!!!” You then take a few short sentences to deliver the films closing montage of your character. These can often be tragic spirals of depression of glorious rises to fame, or just mediocre existence, but are inevitably a good giggle.



And with that…you have your Fiasco! Around 3 hours from top to tail, of story and role play driven fun.

I was originally introduced to Fiasco via Will Wheaton’s “Tabletop” Youtube series and was instantly intrigued. I promptly picked up a copy and do not regret it at all.

'Tabletop' logo

Fantastic webseries by Will Wheaton, him and various people play games.

So far I have played in two Fiascos, and they were both wildly different. The first was set in a Titanic-esque setting aboard a transatlantic cruise ship the and in the other we were part of a small time theatre group. The cruise was full of lies, gangsters, betrayal and death, whereas the theatre was a den of debauchery, filth, one-upmanship and snakes! Both were incredible fun reducing all those involved into fits of giggles, toe curling awkwardness and heartbroken tragedy as the exploits of our characters unfolded.


Final Thoughts

I must say so far I have been thoroughly impressed. Fiasco requires zero preparation time and the equipment list is 4 dice per player, some paper, a pen or 2 and access to a playset (I printed these but you could read them from a screen, you only need them for setup). I got hold of Fiasco to help me develop my story telling ability, I have always found ‘setting the scene’ difficult when I have played in previous RPG’s and this has really given me a chance to practice and hone this skill (purely because that’s pretty much the entire  game). It does away with complex rules, there are no mechanics to look up or remember. I even feel you could probably do away with the dice altogether if you really wanted, although I like the semi randomness, the dice force a narrowing of the options available, so you have to work with what you get.

I would very strongly recommend this anyone who enjoys role playing, especially if you prefer the role play bits to the dice rolling bits. This is purely written as a one shot system which means each session and story is separate, that being said, I guess you could do a couple of sequels if you so desired.

So, it’s a brilliant game, super simple to pick up and endless replay ability due to randomness of dice and a multitude of free playsets. Pick a copy of this up, you will not regret it. Keep it in your bag and that one day a player doesn’t turn up, throw it on the table, and roll up a one shot.

Buy it here!


Tabletop Fiasco Videos:

-Setup: here

-Act 1: here

-Act 2: here

List of all the current Fiasco playlists: here

Paradigm Shift

As many of you are probably aware, I love playing games. I think that is one of my main characteristics. I have always enjoyed games and always seek out new ones and a chance to play them. I don’t particularly have a favourite type, i will play anything from video games to board games and of any genre, racing, strategy, first person shooters and more. Yes obviously I have favourites…but in general I’ll play most things.

I have played games much the same way since I was younger but just recently there has been a change in my game playing habits. I’m going to have a look at that and why that has happened.

Way back at the beginning  I had a NES and a SNES and I loved them and it was great. I will never forget leaving my SNES on for over 24 hours just so I could complete Super Star Wars as it had no save system. Back in those days I had a real passion for platformers and puzzle solvers, playing Lemmings, Earthworm Jim, Star Wars, Puzzle Bobble and the like. I also dabbled with RPG’s which is started to develop a taste for. As time went on new systems were introduced, we got a family PC and my sister received a PlayStation One for Christmas (I was so shocked and disappointed that it was hers, not ours or mine. She didn’t even really play games). With the new technology came new games, I moved on. I discovered the wonderful world of strategy games on the PC, not before a stop off at the Magic School Bus ;-), platformers and RPG’s stayed constant with me eventually acquiring Final Fantasy VII for the PS (this remains one of my favourite all time games.). This was the time that I shifted well and truly into games.

Image from Final Fantasy VII

My favourite RPG of all time. Got me well and truly into the Genre

I enjoyed games, I liked the story telling, the mechanics. I revelled in solving problems, figuring out quests and beating my opponents. This stuck with me as I grew up, I never moved on. I played games with friends or I played games on my own, I didn’t care as long as I was playing. The next major stage was the acquisition of my PlayStation 2, on release day. Although I didn’t really use it till about a year after, the launch titles didn’t excite me. I don’t want to think about the countless hours I have ploughed into the box of electronics. It was an exciting time for games with a lot of them coming out and I played as many as possible, I still played my usual sample but also branched out into the racing and sports genre, as they had good multiplayer potential and a lot of my friends played them.

All the time I played games on the family computer, highlights include Age of Empires, Medieval: Total War, Machines, SimCity and Total Annihilation. I found myself using the PC purely for strategy and simulation games (that’s a lie i played Turok as well). I even managed to rope my family at times. I was furious that my dad worked out the secret to a successful SimCity 2000 city before i did!

This structure stayed the same until recently, Strategy and Sims on the PC/Laptop and all others on the Console PS2/PS3. I always preferred the controller for things like FPS games and the like (I know shoot me, but that was my opinion.)

This all changed in September of 2011, I graduated from University and decided to reward myself with the purchase of a proper Gaming PC, I had never had one of those, making do with a cheap laptop throughout Uni (I always attempted to optimise my game playing potential when picking a computer though). My new PC was fantastic! I could play anything, all the PC games my laptop couldn’t run now became available, services like Steam made it easy to get hold of them and I played furiously! I would even go so far to say that i had too much, every waking moment I was playing stuff and to this day my console has fallen by the way side. Although this may be some sub concious value for money thing.

This was spectacular for the first few months. Games like Skyrim, Civilisation V, Shogun 2: Total War absorbed as much time as i could spare, and then something changed.

I tried League of Legends…

League of Legends

A group of my friends had discovered it, this game is a DOTA clone, it’s a copy of an old mod for Warcraft 3. Essentially you and your team select a hero each and you do battle in an arena with another team, first team to kill the other teams base wins. No story progression, not complex puzzles to solve, no grand strategy (people with argue with me on this) just you 4 other people manipulating your champions and their abilities to best the other team. Of course there is strategy, what stat augmenting items do you buy, when do you engage, which heroes make a balanced team but you aren’t trying to design a transport network or plan a countries military strategy.

Usually this game would not interest me, perhaps hold my attention for a week or so but in the last 8 months or so i have logged more than 685 hours of gameplay, that’s 20 hours a week! So what has lured me into spending to much time playing this game.

Well having I think about it and looking at my normal game playing habits, it’s the social aspect. Whenever I am playing League of Legends I am on Skype to at least one other friend, usually 2 or 3. This is the really appealing aspect. We can chat about work, things in the news, recent games tournaments results all while playing my game. It’s like going out for a drink, well without the face to face bit or the alcohol but you get the idea. No longer is it just me and the computer. Gamers have an unfair stereotype that they are all unsocial, live in basements and just eat pizza, but that’s completely untrue in this day and age. I spend several hours each night on Skype to at least 2 or 3 friends…if I don’t it’s usually because I’ve gone out to see other friends. I think that is far from unsocial, and this has what has hooked me, I like talking to people and I like games and I can combine this. I think this is why I have recently got back into board games.

This is obviously not just applicable to League of Legends, I do the same thing when I play Team Fortress 2, Starcraft 2, DOTA 2 and so on. It’s not a new thing either, communicating while gaming has been around for an age! BUT, it’s the first time I really have done it.

This has now affected my other game playing habits, i now find it really difficult to play single player games on my own. Just doesn’t feel right, I recently played Bastion (60s Review coming very soon) and I played through it all while having a conversation with a special lady via Skype. Not sure if I would have stuck with it  if I’d have been on my own.

This has been a big revelation to me, it’s why over the last few months i’ve tried several free to play MMO’s with my Friend Fred (go read his blog!) because we can sit and chat on Skype while playing games.

I still play single player games, don’t get me wrong but I have now moved to a stage where playing with other people makes a game more appealing. These is a possibility that now I’m older I am finding the single player experience less rewarding, so I am looking for something else to add to a game, it will be interesting as a couple of big games are coming out in the next year or so, and these don’t look to include much time for Skype based multiplayer, so I will be interested to see how much time I plough into them.


So there we go, i’m playing much more social games now. You should totally join me, we can chat and game and stuff. Just get in contact and we’ll play together. Also if you are interested in League of Legends (and you should be it’s a great game to play with friends) then let me know before hand, I can send you an account invite, we both get some goodies :) SO e-mail me or leave a comment and I’ll sort that. Let me know about your gaming habits, would be interesting to see if anyone else has had a similar experience, or even gone the other way.

Happy Gaming.

Tidy up Time in Space

Here is another MSN UK Space Blog i wrote. This looked at the topic of space debris. It was originally written as a topical piece, but i think the content is still relevant. Enjoy.

The last 54 years of space exploration has resulted in many great achievements for mankind. We have networks of satellites that can relay live video streams anywhere on the planet, space based systems that can pinpoint your exact location, global disaster warning and response systems and we even managed to land people on the Moon. Despite these considerable successes so far, space exploration shows no sign of slowing down, with even more countries such as China and India massively increasing their presence in space. However these amazing feats are not without consequence.

The area surrounding our planet is now littered with a cloud of debris, junk and artefacts from our continued forays into space. From spent rocket stages to old satellites the near-Earth space environment has become a very messy region. This was further exacerbated by the collision of two satellites in 2009 and the testing of a Chinese anti-satellite missile in 2007. These events nearly doubled the amount of debris being monitored. There have been calls for a long time to consider the implications of space junk and to start implementing plans to tidy it up.

This culminated with a recent report by the American National Research Council which stated that the level of space debris is currently at a “tipping point”. The report then goes to highlight the dangers that could be faced by current and new space missions if nothing is done to reduce the amount of space junk.

Image showing the amount of space debris.

We have a lot of rubbish around the earth, although this image makes it look slightly worse than it is.

Debris in space poses a great risk to objects in the near-Earth space environment. This risk is a result of the high velocity that these objects are moving round the Earth, turning these objects into potentially dangerous projectiles. These projectiles, often only a few millimetres across, can cause massive damage to anything they collide with.

This damage can result in the malfunction or even pre-emptive decommission of satellites in orbit. The crew of the ISS have had two near emergencies as a result of potential collisions with space debris in just this year. At one point, the crew even prepared to evacuate as the risk of collision was seen as too high.

With a continued desire for the human exploration of space and the increasing reliance on satellite technology it is clear that this issue of space debris needs to be addressed. There have been many suggestions of potential solutions but currently there isn’t a solid decision on the best course of action.

The suggested solutions range from giant nets designed to catch the debris for safe removal from orbit, to shooting debris with lasers to change the path of the objects such that they would re-enter the atmosphere and burn up. Unfortunately these and similar solutions are merely doodles on the pads of some of the worlds leading science think-tanks and will require rapid implementation to restore safety to our space environment.

As we wait for the solution to the space junk crisis careful monitoring of the debris will continue to ensure safe working conditions in our near-Earth space environment.

E3 2012 Checklist Update

Just a short entry. In the last post i didn’t update you on E3 bingo.

I did quite well i think, i predicted:

2 x Annoying presenters over the course of the live keynotes Achieved: Ubisoft…say no more.

4 x Botched demos Unsuccessful: I didn’t notice any.

5 x Jokes fall completely flat Achieved: I’m counting the whole Ubisoft set.

6 x Celebrities bought on to help publicise a game Final Count: 6

1 x Completely inappropriate reference Possibly: There was a woman wearing an inappropriate shirt, it had buttons in exactly the right place to be nipples. Also i’m sure the Ubisoft pair said something.

Hope that clears that up.