video games


Ambulance is a Michael Bay film, full of action, stunningly shot, and with escalating craziness. It’s basically a live action Grand Theft Auto 5 mission, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Estranged brothers Danny and Will pick a bad day to try to reconnect, as Danny drags Will along to a multi million dollar bank heist. The carefully planned operation quickly unravels, and we lose the barely introduced and fleshed out supporting robbers. Will and Danny, with $16 million in big bags, hijack an ambulance- with an injured policeman and feisty (and, obviously, gorgeous) paramedic inside- and set off on a prolonged car chase through Los Angeles.

A tighter focus, fewer characters, and lower stakes make it easier to stay involved in this film than any of the Transformers flicks. He’s shown he can do it before, with Pain & Gain, and I hope he does it more often in future.

I got Ambulance from my Cinema Paradiso subscription. Streaming is good, but there are loads of films only available on disc. And there are a lot of them I want to watch. And for the blockbusters, there’s nothing like enjoying some of the special features. Click on the link (or this one) to gind out more. (Affiliate link.)



Fallout 4 came out this month. I’m not buying it yet, for the sake of my bank balance and productivity, but the release has inspired me to get back to a project I started a while ago.

Boomtown is inspired by, but not based upon, the Megaton location in Fallout 3*. The gallery above shows progress so far. The basic form of the diorama, including the tunnel and vault, was made from stacking and gluing packing polystyrene. And then it sat for an age. Until last week, when I found the ideal picture frame for a base and started on building it up with air drying modelling clay. It’s a learning process. There are a few cracks in the clay, where it’s contracted as it dried, but those have been filled in with Woodland Scenics Flex Paste. It may not look like much in the pictures in the gallery, but it’s come on a long way since this time last week.

I’m going to use the project to try out some techniques I haven’t tried before, and I’ll be posting updates as it proceeds.

*Mostly, I’ve played Fallout:New Vegas, but I did spend an afternoon on Fallout 3 on someone else’s XBox, and got as far as Megaton, which, obviously, stuck with me.

Kickstarting the ’80s geek revival

I am currently flying through the Milky Way- trading, bounty hunting, asteroid mining and exploring- in Elite: Dangerous, the new version of one of the first truly great computer games. It was funded by a Kickstarter campaign, the first, and so far only, one I supported.

There may be a second Kickstarter that I’ll put money into, because Steve Jackson Games are planning one around Car Wars.

Elite and Car Wars were two of the things that took way too much of my time in my mid to late teens. I’m in danger of regressing.

Kickstarting Elite

I played the original Elite on my BBC Model B, though I never made it to the top rank, stalling at Dangerous or Deadly. I also played a couple of the later generation Frontier games, which were good but not as addictive as the original.

So I’ve been waiting a while for an updated version of one of the greatest computer games ever. Now I’m getting a chance to fund it.

David Braben is looking for £1.25million through Kickstarter to fund development of Elite: Dangerous. It’s the first day of the campaign and the total pledged is already nearly 20% of what’s needed. I’ll be surprised if it hasn’t hit its target by the end of the week. I know I’m putting some money in, I just haven’t decided how much yet.

Grand Theft Auto V is due early next year

Today, we’re proud to announce that Grand Theft Auto V is expected to launch worldwide spring 2013 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Developed by series creator Rockstar North, Grand Theft Auto V takes place in a re-imagined, present-day Southern California in the largest and most thriving game-world we have ever created set in the sprawling city of Los Santos and for miles beyond – from the tops of the mountains to the depths of the ocean.

Starting next week November 5, 2012, Grand Theft Auto V will become available for pre-order everywhere and fans can expect a host of new information to become available in November.

via Grand Theft Auto V is Coming Spring 2013 | Rockstar Games.

I may even pre-order it.  Then set aside a week or two to lose to the GTA experience.

Must share the distraction

I’m only a few hundred words away from completing the first draft of my current project, so my fear of finishing stuff has kicked in and I spent a lot of yesterday letting myself get distracted by stuff.

But it was good stuff, so I want to share it with you. Some of you will thank me, most of you will curse me.

First up is TV Tropes, a wiki dedicated to storytelling tricks and recurring themes, replete with examples not just from the telly but also from loads of other media. It’s dangerous, it sucks you in, with every page having multiple links you just have to follow deeper down the rabbit hole. I could claim that it was research, as there’s a page on slasher films, but I’d be lying. (And I went off to find that link 20 minutes ago and got sidetracked by multiple links.)

The other big distraction was Gratuitous Space Battles. GSB is a spacefleet building and fighting game. You design ships, form fleets based upon resource points and then go and do battle. Winning battles gets you rewards which you can trade in for more exotic and powerful weaponry. Unlike other Real Time Strategy games, once you’ve started a battle you can’t give any orders. You define your fleet’s tactics, down to the level of individual ships (or flights of fighters), and arrange their starting positions then hope you’ve got it right.

I recently added the Galactic Conquest, which makes the battles a little less gratuitous by giving you a whole galaxy to conquer and fleets and finances to manage. It also adds the ability to issue one order- Retreat- mid battle. I’m not a great tactician, by any means, I follow a more realistic battle plan- build the biggest fleet possible and hope it’s large enough to kick the opposition’s arse. It doesn’t work all the time, but it’s a good place to start.

Now, I must go and finish my novella.

Or maybe just one little battle……..

Deadly games

The force feedback suits weren’t strictly illegal, but it was impossible to get an import licence for them. Some still made it into the country of course, and many more were kludged together from internet plans.

Every couple of months one of these DIY suits would seriously hurt or even kill a user. They would put the safety switch in the hands of an idiot or a sadist, or they wouldn’t wire one in at all.

Most of them then went and played GTA.

Air Manhattan

A bunch of remote controlled plane enthusiasts calling themselves Team Black Sheep shot some great aerial footage of New York. These are the sorts of views we mere mortals would have to steal a helicopter in GTA IV to see. Whatever it is that’s blocking the bottom right of the camera’s view is a bit distracting, but otherwise this is awesome footage.

Can I have one of these to fly around the Lakes when I’m at home some time? Wasdale comes to mind first, but there are a load of other neat valleys I could take it through.

via Jalopnik and Brooklyn Heights Blog