Moving home…

Posted: January 25, 2011 in One a Day

I’ve decided to be incredibly awkward and move my One a Day blogs to a new site, so y’know, go there if you’d like to read it.

In case you missed the cleverly disguised link above, it’s at http://howigotsobitter.wordpress.com/

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A basic guide to poker players

Posted: January 25, 2011 in One a Day

I like playing poker. I used to do it quite a lot online, and I enjoyed it very much. I’m playing now in fact, but I won’t get paid if I win anything unfortunately, it’s a work thing. I find the biggest problem with the game is the people, though – all of them, to be specific. If you play poker online you fall into one of two categories: you’re either an utter moron with no understanding of the game, or you’re brilliant. I fall into neither of these categories, and while that might seem like a contradiction, it isn’t, because SHUT UP I’M RANTING.

Basically, the rise of poker’s popularity means that ‘being aggressive like that Phil Ivey bloke’ somehow got translated into ‘playing any two cards like a complete fucking maniac’, and it isn’t. If you’re not aware, or if you’re wrong and you disagree, poker is a game of skill – there is an element of luck, of course – that’s why good players are considered good players, not the luckiest bastards alive. Players like Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu are very good players because they’re intelligent and can read the game and other players brilliantly, not because they pick random cards and hope for the best. There’s very little that makes me as angry as watching someone smugly say how well they played a hand because they got lucky, the shits.

The ‘I won with 7/3 off-suit, I’m like Daniel-motherfucking-Negreanu’ crowd are easily the worst of it in online poker, but the critics give them a hell of a close run. The school of horrific expressions once came up with a cracking one: “There’s more than one way to skin a cat”, and while I agree with some of the wonderful feedback that’s given over the chat box – minus the ‘LOL’s and casual racism – some of us couldn’t care less with how you think we played a hand, especially when said ‘constructive feedback’ is just after I’ve beaten you in a hand; There’s nothing like bitterness to encourage helpful advice.

Amazingly enough, tonight’s entry isn’t fuelled by a bad experience at the tables – it’s been quite a good one actually – but playing poker, or even thinking about playing poker, brings up horrific memories of these idiots, and it’s generally the reason I avoid it these days. I almost wish I lost a lot when I used to play, then I could say I’d quit gambling, but the rage induced by the above morons is enough to stop me playing a game I enjoy and won fairly regularly on; poker players have ruined poker for me, what a set of utter bastards.

Sorry this entry is slightly late again, but I was working/play poker, so it took me about a week to write. That’s also why I’m not reading it back, so I expect it makes no sense whatsoever.

A statement of intent

Posted: January 23, 2011 in One a Day

Somehow, and without the aid of alcohol, I’ve almost forgotten to write another entry today. I’m beginning to think that some sort of planning may be required for me to get through this One a Day thing, so tomorrow I’m going to think up a good list of ideas for entries; one of the main problems lately is thinking of anything at all to write about, so hopefully I’ll think up 7-10 rough ideas and see where that leads me.

My planned nap was ruined by The Dark Knight being fucking brilliant earlier, so I’m shattered and off to bed now. Next week will be an improvement on this one, honest.

Definitely not a late post

Posted: January 23, 2011 in One a Day

What? This entry isn’t late. No, YOU’RE drunk. And if you’re not buying that, this entry is a little bit late due to the following four words in my F1 2010 post:

Basically, it’s very good.

So, yeah. Sorry about that. I’ve spent a good few hours playing online with a few friends, and it turns out it’s very good online too. That’s quite dangerous. I’m absolutely knackered right now, so there’s not a chance I can think up a decent entry, you’ll have to make do with the following:

A masterclass of incompetence

Posted: January 21, 2011 in One a Day

Apologies in advance for the pathetic moaning nature of this entry, I’m in a vile mood and despite my original intentions of just writing a short entry as a quick fix, I started writing, so I’ve decided to finish it.

I made an order from Gamestation three days ago that would apparently be with us ‘within two business days’. It’s yet to be shipped. This is fairly common practice for Gamestation (i.e. incompetence), but I fully expect an email saying that it’s out of stock at some point, despite their new (offensively bad) website saying it was in stock at the time and them having already taken the money. It’s a pre-owned Xbox 360 Steering Wheel that has now been discontinued, so it tends to be marked up to an obscene amount (starting at £160 on PlayTrade), and Gamestation had it at £45.50. I suppose it’s my own fault for getting my hopes a little though.

I also another order yesterday for a digital download on their website, it was a game that I’d probably never play, but my girlfriend probably would, plus it only 9 pence (yes, £0.09). Of course, I forgot to factor in the fact that I was ordering it from Gamestation and I was charged an astonishing £24.99 according to the email that was sent after – the game in question is £9.99 on Steam as a digital download, and it’s still £5.99 delivered on their own website, so I actually think £25 is more unreasonable than 9p. I checked afterwards, and it was still there: ‘£0.09’. I took a screenshot in preparation for the inevitable ‘we don’t know what you’re talking about’ crap that will probably be forthcoming when I eventually get a response from them, but I’ve noticed the following note on the gane’s description:

Unfortunately the 9p download promotion on this title has expired. Over 200 lucky people got here in time to take advantage of the offer, we’re sorry you didn’t make it, but make sure you check back on site regularly for more fantastic offers!!

My first thoughts? Bollocks. Clearly someone screwed up with the fancy (ha!) new website and since the item is a digital download, you can’t cancel the orders – I still have the download link and serial for my purchase that I haven’t touched. What’s a retailer to do? Ah, we’ll say it was a limited promotion and change the price back. Perfect.

The live chat service is live but without operators, and the phone line costs 10p a minute. Great. I got a response after sending three messages to their Twitter account, thankfully, but I’m still yet to hear anything back. I guess we’ll see what happens tomorrow. Or the day after. Or the day after that. Who knows really!

It’s strange that the thing that while there is undoubtedly been human error at some point during the process, the fact that their newly launched website has crashed or broken at least once every time I’ve visited it over the past few days has annoyed me much more than anything else. It’s great that they’re trying to develop an improved service, but if you’re a retailer as big as Gamestation is, you’ve got absolutely no excuse not to test the fuck out of it, and they clearly haven’t. Also, it’s fuck ugly.

Christopher Nolan knows best

Posted: January 20, 2011 in One a Day

There was a lot of talk on Twitter in the last couple of days about the casting news from the new Chris Nolan Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises. In case you missed it, the news was the casting of Anne Hathaway and Tom Hardy as Selina Kyle and Bane. Maybe it’s just the people I follow on Twitter, but the vast majority of the reaction was, perhaps understandably, aimed at Anne Hathaway’s casting, and how she wasn’t suited to the role.

I have a bit of a problem with this. Firstly, because we know nothing specific about the role she’ll be playing; yes, Selina Kyle was Catwoman, but Chris Nolan’s Batman has always tried to ground things in reality much more than earlier interpretations, and it’s presumptuous to assume it’ll be the Catwoman we’ve seen in previous films. Also, the press release doesn’t mention Catwoman at any point, though that was probably just to get people speculating online.

I’m pretty sure Brokeback Mountain is the only film I’ve seen that Anne Hathaway appears in, so I can’t really comment on her ability as an actress, but I’m not at all concerned- I vaguely remember there being some disappointed reactions to Heath Ledger’s casting as Joker in The Dark Knight and he ended up receiving an Oscar. Chris Nolan’s record speaks for itself really, so I’m confident he’ll make the right decisions regarding casting; I don’t particularly like Katie Holmes, but given Maggie Gyllenhaal’s performance in The Dark Knight, I think he made exactly the right choice the first time.

The news of Tom Hardy being cast as Bane was somewhat overshadowed by Anne Hathaway’s casting, but I think it’s another smart choice; I’ve not seen Inception yet (I know, I know), but he seemed very capable in RocknRolla. I am much more excited about the possibilities of Chris Nolan’s vision of Bane though. I’m not overly-familiar with all things Batman, but Bane was a great addition to Arkham Asylum, the game released after Dark Knight, and I think it’s exactly the sort of villain that would exist in this particular Gotham City.

Basically, regardless of casting, Chris Nolan is still in charge, and that’s a Good Thing™. He has a habit of making very good films and I don’t think it’s about to change, so let’s stop moaning for a little while and let him prove you completely wrong, unless you think it was good casting. Clever you. Incidentally, I spelt Maggie Gyllenhaal’s name right first time. Easy.

F1 2010: A brief review

Posted: January 19, 2011 in One a Day

I’ve spent the vast majority of the day playing on F1 2010, a game I was very eagerly anticipating from the moment it was announced that Codemasters had bought the Formula 1 license. I didn’t plan to, I was hoping to split my time between that and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, but it turns out F1 2010’s career mode has a bit of an addictive quality to it. I’m thinking about now, contemplating my qualifying session in the pouring rain at Spa, worried about the complete lack of visibility I’ll have while I’m driving 200mph downhill. Basically, it’s very good.

It’s not without it’s problems, though, and they’re often really frustrating. The framerate is appalling at times, something I’ve always found hard to accept on a console game on familiar hardware. Thankfully, barring one particular corner in Monaco, the jumpiness tends to rear it’s ugly head on the start-finish straight, where it impacts on the game the least. It’s still a huge distraction, though, and somewhat surprising for a game built on the EGO engine, used to brilliant effect in most recent Codemasters efforts.

The fact that Codemasters really stressed the importance of a realistic F1 experience makes the lack of solid statistical information mystifying at times; I’m not all that familiar with a great deal of the tracks that make up the F1 season, so when I turn up in Valencia, before the practice session begins, it would be nice to be able to at least view a brief overview of the track, like a small map so I have a rough idea of how much downforce I might need – a good friend of mine is a huge F1 fan and he complained of exactly the same thing, so it’s not just my lack of interest in F1 in recent seasons. Maybe it’s my lack of understanding, but it also seems that when you’ve completed a lap, the standings don’t always seem complete, and the colour-coding that’s supposed to be helpful doesn’t seem to work at all.

There are other minor things too; post-race interviews sound like a great idea on paper, but you get the impression that they never really got time to do anything with them. I’m yet to finish my first season in career mode, but it feels like it lacks a little depth; I read somewhere that other drivers don’t move teams for one. I also get the impression it’s a little buggy at times too – it was slightly odd to see one of my rival teams expressing their disappointment in my press interview or my performance in the last race. They are minor things though, and these make me laugh more than anything else.

The AI is mostly brilliant. There’s something comforting about flying down a straight at great speed during qualifying and seeing the car in front let you by, though my expectations of racing game AI were at an all-time low after playing on Forza 3, which bravely decided that AI was an unnecessary feature and all cars would just ram you off the road. The weather effects are stunning and terrifying in equal measure, and believe me, they really are stunning. It seems to rain a little too often for my liking, but that may be just because it terrifies me when I see ‘Heavy Rain’ above the session info, especially because I spend most of the lap cooing at how good it all looks.

I planned on buying it on release originally, but when I didn’t and a few friends told me about most of the above, I figured I’d wait until the next one came out, but having had this rental copy for a few days now, I’m genuinely considering buy it. Despite it’s many faults, it’s sickeningly addictive – even for someone who hasn’t watched F1 for years – and even if the career mode lacks a lot of detail, it has enough about it to make racing round the same 19 tracks infinitely more interesting than past F1 games. More than anything else, it makes me very, very optimistic for the franchise, and the steering wheel that I may have ordered. Oops.