The Steam Easter Indie sale. My purchases.

So, for a few more days, Steam are having what they’re calling their “Indie” sale. These are games what are written by individuals, or small independent companies. My love for them dates back to the days where another word for them was “public domain”. and the games were on the Amiga. I would save up what little pocket money I had, and rush down to the now defunct “Peak Computers” in York Road. to pick up 3.5″ floppies, with some of the latest “PD” games on them.

Fast forward almost 20 years, and my love for the independent developer has not died, and as this is a sale, I thought I’d buy a few. I’m brassic for the next 5 weeks, so this couldn’t have came at a worse time, but I’ve still picked up a couple up.

First up… “Thomas Was Alone”, in the sale for £2.99.

This obviously comes out of the “Less Is More” stable of graphics, and this is not necessarily a bad thing. Movement is fluid, as you’d expect from 4-sided polygons, music is perfectly acceptable, but the highlight of the game is strangely the narration, and the fact that each block has its own story. Narration is provided by Danny Wallace, someone who I have actually heard of. As with all of these types of games, you’ll think you’re stuck on a level, then get fed up and quit, only for you to sit there for the next 20 minutes, staring at your desktop, working out how to do this. You eventually have an idea, you load it straight back up, you complete the level, and the circle of life is complete.

Hokay… next up… “Garry’s Mod”, which set me back a whopping £1.49

I… I just don’t get it. It seems insanely popular, but I just can’t seem to be able to do anything at all with it, and where’s the fun in that? I spawned some balloons, which I popped. Some crows and seagulls, which I shot. A table, which I threw about a bit, and that’s practically been it. Maybe I’m just reading too much into a sandbox game which is many years old, but I can’t see the point in it? Is there any point? There’s even Steam achievements that claim “2 hours of your life wasted”. Maybe I’m just too old for this shit? See, now if I was 4 when this game was released, the little-me would have embraced it with open arms. The 33-years-old me keeps thinking “Well, I really could be doing the pots right now. Or getting myself a life”. naaah, the latter will never happen.

And so… onto “Super Hexagon”…

Well, this one set me back a silly amount of money. 67p. to put that into context, a can of coke out of the vendy at “Newest Employment Palace” sets me back 70p. therefore, if I can get 30 seconds worth of enjoyment out of this game, then it’s been worth it. And you, know what, I haven’t managed to get any more than what’s stated above – 24 seconds! Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily! It is very, very difficult. For me, anyway. If you’ve got the hand-eye co-ordination of a nettle, you’re going to struggle with this. And that’s its beauty, as strange as it may seem.

You control a pointer on the screen, which you rotate by the cursor keys, and you have to avoid hitting the bright lines. Seems simple enough, except the screen is constantly spinning, and the playfield is spinning in the opposite direction. The screen pulsates to the sound of the music, and everything gets faster, at more of an angle the further you get into it. I’d say, the average game length for me is 12 seconds. It’s something I can’t describe in text.

Before I loaded it up tonight to get the screenshots, I was going to put it in the “This is shit” pile, but then I broke my record by a few seconds, then a few seconds more, and those small time differences actually gave me a sense of achievement. Last time I felt that good after 20 seconds of action, I was [insert sexually explicit joke here]

Last, but not least, “Puddle”.

I do like my physics games. I’d put them up there with driving games as one of my favourite types of game. the premise is simple. you control fluid, you tell it where to go by rotating the game screen using the cursor keys. The more fluid you get to the exit, the better your score. If fluid leaves the screen, for instance, it gets caught somewhere, and it disappears off the top of the board, you lose it. Each level requires you to finish with a certain amount of fluid. Go below this, and it’s game over. Naturally, there are also obstacles that will evaporate fluid, making it just that little more tricky.

There’s plenty of worlds to explore, and the graphics are the best out of the bunch I’ve purchased of the last couple of days. Despite it being pretty much a physics engine simulation, it just feels too linear. You can only turn the board to a certain angle, which invariably leaves you with large splatterings of stuff everywhere, which naturally disappears off the top of the screen. I might just be in the early stages of the game. I don’t know if I can be bothered getting much further.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Get these while they’re hot. Or cheap.

THE BINDING OF ISAAC

Have I mentioned this before? If not, get it. Now. 99p. This game is huge, yet you’ll actually struggle to see much of it. Think “Atic Atac”, but with poo jokes and random maps. I bought this ages ago, and have never been able to take screenshots from it. Odd.

10,000,000

I would love this, but it falls into the all-too-obvious trap of getting easier and easier the more you play it. It’s not that you actually get better, it’s that the items you unlock just make the game easier. I’ve not played it for a while though, as I know I’m literally a couple of playthroughs off getting 10,000,000 points to complete the game (hence its name). I’d completely write it off, if it wasn;’t for the fact one of the tunes in the game is remarkably similar to “Monday“, one of my favourite Amiga chiptunes of all time. Also, this one, known as “intro33.mod“>. I’m posting it here, as it’s taken me 20 years to find out its actual name. I just knew it as the jolly little tune that played when I inserted my Project X disk, with its blue handwritten label, and the “Future Zone” logo emblazoned on the disk shutter. I digress.

I was going to put a couple more in, but there’s no point. All I have to say is that everyone on the planet, whether, to mis-quote Johnny Mathis, you’re white, brown, yellow, it doesn’t matter. you just have to own Audiosurf, Chime or Beat Hazard.

Writer’s block. It doesn’t come any tougher than this!

Well, OK. I can’t exactly class what I do on this blog as writing, but I’m doing it anyway. It seems over the last few months, the part of my brain that converts the thoughts in my head into “words” (some of them, admittedly made up), and then down my arms, to the fingers, finally onto the inky blackness of my keyboard, has been playing up. I’ve had loads to write about despite the fact I’ve been on the dole, but every time I sit and start typing, I get about three lines down, the whole thing turns to shit, and I end up with yet another barely-started entry in my “drafts” folder, helplessly waiting for the precise moment that the mixture of caffeine, sugar, and quite possibly alcohol, finally kick that part of my brain into gear, and the words cascade into this blog, like some weird form of UTF-8 diarrhoeah.

So, let’s start off by stating the obvious. Both of the people who read this, have found out through Facebook that I do indeed have a new job. It starts tomorrow, and yes, I’m as shocked as anyone.

That’s the last I’ll say on it for now, as you should know what I’m like, for my infamous “splots”. Basically, this is the sound of my arse imploding, after I get overly paranoid about what I say on here, and that my place of employment may very well be spying on me.

I don’t know what I’m bothered about, if I’m honest. It’s been a fact for centuries, that nobody actually reads a blog, and instead they just stop off to look at the purdy pictures. And that just goes to prove that in the world of social media, the humble blog doesn’t really have anything to say anymore. You’re probably not reading this now, you’re just looking for the next photo, so I could go on from here and literally slag off every employer I’ve ever worked for, however, that would leave me without references, and that would be a bad thing.

So, admittedly, it’s been since January since I last updated this site properly. I do apologise. February was pretty much a write-off. I had a chest infection that laid me up on the couch for a good long while. Pretty much the entire month, if I’m honest.

I really can’t be arsed with a timeline of what I’ve been up to, places I’ve visited, that type of stuff. That’s what I have Twitter for. I can, however say that I’ve been trying to further my education. Back when I initially signed on, I bumped into an old security guard who worked at Employment Palace. He informed me of a cabling course running in the grounds of HUFC. Hartlepool United Footba… etc. A trip to the job centre later confirmed me as being on the course…

Unfortunately, due to the job, I’m not actually able to complete the course, and this was pretty much the “fear” all along. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to finish, as I didn’t plan to be on the dole for 12 weeks. Still, I’ve left with some skills I never had before. Not many people can say they’ve done this…

This is 100 core cable, routed into 100 RJ45 sockets for voice communication. Or something. My brain's not really switched on at the moment.
This is 100 core cable, routed into 100 RJ45 sockets for voice communication. Or something. My brain’s not really switched on at the moment.

… and know exactly what each strand of wire does. The downside is now, that my head is full of absolutely useless anagrams which I’ll probably never use again. “We Ride Big Yellow Vans” and “Be On Guard By Six”. both refer to how you terminate 20-core cabling, and the colours of it. It was all genuinely interesting, even though I am usually shit at anything practical. for someone who could barely wire a plug, building a working RJ45 ethernet cable has got to be one of my proudest moments to date. Well, OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but yeah, still proud.

so, that course took up 12 hours of my week up. I have also been converting some of my old audio tapes to digital format. I can’t remember if I mentioned I picked up a USB tape deck a few months back. Well, I did, and it’s pretty awesome. It was spurred on, once again, by Chad. I’d got a bit drunk the other night and headed off to Youube. During my time there, I’d discovered that the demo version of one of my favourite albums, “Bridge of Spies” by T’Pau, not only had been released, it was on Spotify. Oh my word! Off I went to Facebook, to show my approval of this…

Me: I’ve just found a demo version of “Bridge of Spies”. The first album I ever owned, despite it being on a C90, supplied by Chad Phillips. Recorded 2 years before the album’s release. Every single track is a demo version. I’m up to track 3 on spotify, I must own this.

Chad: I have no memory of ever owning, copying for you or listening to this album. How do you remember all this?

Me: I literally grew up with this tape. As strange as it sounds, it’s one of the most important pieces of plastic in my life. Remember when my Speccy broke, and you (or your parents) donated the C16 to the “keep Jamie happy” fund? I listened to this tape over and over again while games loaded. Probably something to do with the C16 having its own tape deck. The other side of the tape was even more important to me, with such classics on it as Status Quo’s “In The Army Now”, and Samantha Fox’s “I Surrender (To the spirit of the night)”.

I briefly wittered on about this very tape and album, back in 2008, which is when I first started to digitise my tape collection. Sadly, I have no idea what I did it, but I can at least provide an image of the tape.

Er, anyway, enough about that tape, as there’s been some classic finds… a 30 second clip of the afore-mentioned Chad, remixing the “Why Don’t you…?” theme, involving exchanging Y-fronts for boxers…

Another, slightly more harrowing recording, is one I have absolutely no information on, except I’m on it, and I was possibly in school, in IT class. I was going to post an actual MP3 file of it, but it didn’t seem right, seeing as I don’t know who else is on there, so here’s a transcript.

Person 1: Get off my computer NOW!
Person 2: Hey, Leave him alone!
Person 1: Get off me computer y’ daft cunt, what did you do that for?
Me: Get off! Because I fucking did
Person 1: Did that hurt?
Me: Oh yeah, it did fully.
[recording stops]

Again, I have no idea why this 15-second recording exists, but it certainly leaves more questions than answers. I was never the most popular kid at school, so was I being bullied? Did I record this just to get evidence? Or was I being a twat, and had sabotaged Person 1’s computer in order to gauge a reaction so I could record it for comedy purposes? why did I have access to a tape recorder in school anyway? The rest of the tape doesn’t provide any other clues. It’s all just music I’d taped off records.

I have yet to sift through them in any great detail, but when I do, I shall post some finding on here. And I might also keep you updated about the job.