Tartu break

Yeah. I made it down to Tartu again for the first time since November. Marika’s very pleased. She managed to convince me to run away for a few days.

She’s moved into the bigger room of the flat. Looks good. The balcony is especially useful for providing fresh air. Unfortunately the floor-bed still kills my back while I sleep so I feel like an old cripple when I wake up in the morning.

Today we’re meant to go visit the toy museum. I’ve been trying to get to it for about a year and a half now and never been able to manage. Mum and dad will be jealous of me this afternoon.

Unfortunately I’ll probably miss two sessions at the gym this week. Never mind. I don’t want to look too good too fast, after all. I just wish my skin didn’t feel so dry. It feels like I’m shedding, or something. Disgusting.

Empire:Total War is pretty cool. It does indeed have long loading times but the game itself runs smoothly, although I do have everything set to minimum. I could probably up the details a bit but I don’t really see the point. It’s definitely a more complex and challenging game than the previous releases. I find even the starting campaign scenarios are difficult to manage if you don’t have a steady plan from turn one.

Last Friday a few of us went to a concert in Juuksur. We missed the main band but caught the second act, which was Rumour is News. I’ve seen them before and, well, they’re alright. A little boring perhaps. Marika was enraged that they didn’t play Flex Your Muscles during the set and they refused to even after she ran up to the stage to request it. She wanted this American girl that was drinking with us to hear it. Such is life.

On Saturday we made bread. Well, Marika did in Kea’s bread machine that Hugo bought her that she never used. He then gave it to me to put in the hostel. It’s like following a coin around, really. Raisin bread! It was fucking tasty. I’m too lazy to make more myself at the moment, but I will probably attempt to soon enough.

My hair is fluffy.

Huge guns

I was so fed up with myself for being a pathetic weakling after 6 months in the gym. To remedy this, I decided to actually get a bit serious. I now write down all the exercises that I do each session and have altered my diet appropriately.

In the last 2-3 weeks I’ve begun to feel a lot better, have lost some weight and can see that I’m actually beginning to make genuine progress in the gym. I’m glad I’ve finally started doing things this way, I’m just frustrated it took me this long to begin.

My Baltic Tour is starting to come together. We’re really not as prepared as we should be after this long, for various reasons. It wouldn’t be such a big deal if we didn’t already have some potential business! There’s nothing like instant pressure to get things done. Hopefully we won’t fuck anything up with these first few clients and then we’ll be underway.

There are not many staff left in the hostel. Hugo’s started working almost every day, fortunately. He even did his first night shift last night. I don’t think the door bell rang once, so it doesn’t count. Ha. We haven’t had a big group of Spanish students stay here for a few weeks, so I’m not feeling ultra-negative at the moment. What luck!

Eagle 8 came back from Keri island with short blonde hair. I didn’t recognise her at first. It looks good. Nice one. I’m half tempted these days to cut all my hair off, too. I still like having it a bit longer, though. I feel like i look like a viking.

Unfortunately, I soon won’t look like a viking. I’m going to have a sauna and cut off my beard. I wish I hadn’t lost the power pack for my beard trimmer. Now I have to borrow Tim’s hair clippers all the time (or just shave more frequently). Fucking hair. Bah.

Turns out Darkfall is pretty useless. Well, it impressed me a lot more when I first read about it compared to when I first saw it in action. I suppose that’s normal, really, but still. The fighting looks like a knife fight in any other FPS game and nothing at all like a game that has been designed from the ground up for 8 years specifically for melee PVP.

Oh yes, I should mention that the Granny Smith apples that are imported here from France are tops. I’ve been annoying everyone by constantly pointing out that they were originally cultivated in Eastwood. I just began eating one when Anna stole it. Now she’s standing around talking some moonspeak language into her phone and not giving it back. Fucking slavs.

redknob's notable people from RtCW of which I had a reasonable level of interaction:

Russkie
The only man I know who smoked pink cigarettes. My favourite person to troll, whether or not it was on a server or in our private LoA forums. He threatened to quit the team about 10 times if I didn’t stop annoying him and then if I didn’t leave. In the end he left for some shitty team named stah! that didn’t even make it into the finals (although it did end up leading to GameStah). He was always a decent player but I remember he came back with an alias after a brief absence with a new rig and started kicking a lot of arse. Probably had an FPS hack chip inserted into his brain when he went back to St Petersburg to visit. Funnily enough, I live very close to his hometown now. I also know a few more Russian swear words. GIB ZEE BODIEEZ. GIV ME SUM FUCKEN AMMAO.

MagicShoe
Clan leader for LoA’s RtCW division and DJ for the UN. A great guy who I believe considerably improved during my time at LoA to a point where he became nothing short of a solid (and underrated to our opposition) support player. Along with 4saken, he led LoA’s squad every match by example, being able to play consistently well as any almost class and in almost any position on the map.

4saken
Another player who I saw evolve over the seasons into a solid yet underrated teammate. I had a huge mancrush on him back in the day. We had a great buddy system going on when I first joined LoA, mostly revolved around pissing off Russkie or being a lieut/med combo in games. I remember how excited I was meeting up with him the first time I was in Melbourne. Yes, he is very sexy. I haven’t heard from him in years but I imagine he’s doing something really cool in neuroscience, since that’s what he was studying. I forgive him for almost cockblocking me in that 1 minute cap match vs Kindred on mp_ice.

Elvis
Fucking SK who always had to be panzer because he was on dialup. One of his teachers was in TISM, so I liked him. I don’t forgive him for nearly TKing me in that 1 minute cap match vs Kindred on mp_ice.

Kman
I refuse to call him Serp. Kman (or to his teammates, Kylie) will forever be a small, cute, pre-pubescent 13/14 year old in my mind. He blossomed into a great player but I think his young ego and abundant ability didn’t leave much room for him in a modest-rated team like LoA, especially not in my shadow. He broke away to join A+, changed his name to something scary and probably changed its colour to black, too. Maybe it was the beginning of the emo years, I don’t know. I have no idea what he’s up to now but it’d be interesting to find out. Apparently he hates being called Kman, so don’t use it if you refer to him.

Subz
From Adelaide I believe. That only things I remember about him was that he was a lot older than the rest of us, had kids (I think). I have this strange feeling that he had a beard.

SS Wiking
The most unlucky member in the team. Why? Because he was on fucking country ISDN and pinged 350 every game. He was actually a decent player (and drove a truck for a job) and he became much more effective when he finally got a better connection. Unfortunately by then it was too late and everything in the RtCW world had begun to change.

Kaiser
I can’t remember much except that his name was Rod.

iceman
Always was a legend. He’s such a nice guy I have trouble believing he doesn’t have an evil twin somewhere to make up for it. I’m sure most people would agree that the RtCW community in Australia would be completely different (or perhaps non-existent) without him. I even played alongside him with O2 in SoF2 and he didn’t even piss me off in scrims. I think he’s part divine, or something.

Hiroshima
tofu and I have been joking about FRESH LINEN ever since we heard it at one of the many horrifically alcohol-charged Sydney meetup nights, except tofu never drank any alcohol. A freak of a man and irresistibly likeable, he never did anything that wasn’t entertaining. I think he took me to the Lord Nelson pub for the first time and made me feel very comfortable with his warm hands.

CaptainD/Ghostrider
Inseparable players. CapD was possibly the first person to bring m_pitch to RtCW without telling anyone. Yes, even before Sequel. If my frail memory serves, didn’t he upload a picture of himself sitting in an office that in the background had a poster on the wall of a testicle in an egg cup?

Ace+AV
Four things: He was always with CapD whenever Ghostrider wasn’t playing. He was really good at every class. I made him /ragequit on mp_sub once with a well-timed grenade. He said he doesn’t maintain his pubic hair and lets it grow out all bushy.

Minties
I remember being in awe of how easily he would kick my arse when I first started playing. I later professed my respect of this “olde days” player to my teammates when I joined dot, only to have all their pissy egos spit my opinions back at me by answering “nah he was shit you fucking noob, jesus”. Regardless, I have fond memories of being consistently destroyed by him back when I was a whitey.

Evil Homer
I still believe he was that guy in ASR (was it?) that left the community then came back as EH a little while later. I mean, they were both from Adelaide, right? Anyway. A controversial personality who literally gave his all to masterminding and perfecting RtCW. I think he did a pretty good job. I remember the day he refers to when he began regarding me as a good player. It was on mp_village and I was happy because I managed to kill him in an SMG fight (because I am awesome). Evil’s one of the people that genuinely had a big impact on the community from the day he joined it.

Fuzzy + Teddy
I didn’t really get to know these guys too well, as they kind of moved on before I got too serious with RtCW. I just remember they had a big impact on developing the community and on my old, stolen iPod I even had a copy of their shoutcast of .cD and O2 on mp_beach. I took it with me to remind me of the glorious Wolfie days when I left Australia. I did get to interact with them a little bit more when tofu and I became playtesters for the HL2 mod, Dystopia. Basically I told Teddy to fix everything in the game to make it more awesome. The mod is now on Steam but apparently there are no servers left. See what happens when I stop playing?

GA Admin ladder team
Didn’t they only play, like, 4 games? Everyone still loves trog.

BennyB (Syd)
Left nut. I heard he was loaded and owned a yacht in Circular Quay. Too bad I never got to party with him and ToY. Then again, I was probably too poor.

Porn*
The velvet voice from BrisVegas allowed me to do a few shoutcasts back in the day. I’ve always been in awe of him ever since I found out he got a job as an announcer in a strip club due to his experience shoutcasting.

GameStah
I was actually involved with it, somewhat, when it was first created. No, I didn’t have anything to do with its creation but I did end up on the team somehow. I remember the PHP CMS and forums were absolutely horrible. I blame that on Russkie and Spot (Russians and Brazilians, oh dear).

Flare
Flare was cool. He was one of those guys that would work out how to either exploit everything or do things with perfect efficiency. Often he’d combine the two. He blocked me on Ventrilo for about 2 days once because I was sitting on top of his mortar in ET, preventing him from calculating his angles effectively. He also sent his mum and dad literally from one side of Sydney to another to my house in order to retrieve a copy of Final Fantasy 11.

tofu
A social puppeteer, he was one of the best connected, communicable and manipulative players I’ve ever seen and he’s been like that in every gaming community he’s involved in. Living with him for just over a year was great for finding out
gossip and basically I let him be my social manager/proxy so that I didn’t have to foster proper relationships with anyone myself. Not only is he smart as fuck, he’s one of the few people who are actually visionaries and makes things happen. I taught him how to be domesticated and clean the kitchen, along with how to be confident while you’re crossing the street in Sydney.

Midway
Another regular at any Sydney meetup, he was one of those players that I classify as a “spoiler” to play against. That is, he’d always turn up unexpectedly at the worst moment and disrupt the opposition’s plan or movements. This is a valuable trait in itself, but listening to him on Ventrilo laughing about how much fun he was having doing it made it even better. He became tight bum-buddies with Flare so they often exploited each other.

ringo
The rage king. When I first joined dot he would go mental about everything to everyone. He is one of two people I’ve ever known that can make me feel about 2 inches tall. To make it worse, whenever he flipped out he was usually right. To make that even worse, he’d then demonstrate what you were doing wrong, then demonstrate how to do it correctly and go on to do it perfectly every time. He was also heavily influential with the whole “professionalism” movement in the scene. Unfortunately he is Tasmanian by birth, so we stopped taking him seriously in the end.

Whorky
One of the greatest trolls to ever grace the digital world and one of the funniest people to listen to in life, he’s an absolute bastard. Fortunately he has red hair, so I can tolerate him. Whorky was a very good player, the problem was that he didn’t give a shit so most people probably never knew it.

Delerium
The pill-popping rage machine. This guy took himself so aggressively seriously I found it bizarre that he was also an ectasy advocate. Always good fun to be around and responsible for getting the infamous ivLANs going up in Newcastle, along with tofu. We went clubbing once (on his 21st, actually) and I was so bored I sat on a couch all night until a gay guy hit on me, which was nice.

SystemTerror
Another redhead who also went to Sydney Uni with me. No idea what he’s doing now but he was another one of those cool guys that just liked playing and didn’t really give a shit, although they were solid players. He became good friends with Delerium and even sent him money via bank transfer once for a “pony ride”. Seriously.

DoZer
All the taunting and teasing that I perfected on Russkie I transferred to him. It made him mentally tough and now he cries himself to sleep each night because I’m no longer in Australia. Everyone knows how good is at games. If you don’t know, he’ll tell you. I used to buy cigarettes for him since he was only a wee fella when we would play together. I still feel a lot of sympathy for him for still living in Canberra all this time.

Loknlowd
The patron saint of KFC and pretending that the flamethrower was actually a massive fiery fart, this little bugger is now an adult and it makes me feel a lot closer to death. He was awesome but unlike Dozer, wouldn’t tell you. If you didn’t know, tofu told Dozer and Lok that there was only 1 position available in the dot roster when they were on trial. He then made them have a 1v1 duel on mp_ice in the flag respawn point. The poor kids ended up as nervous wrecks and I believe Lok won 11-9, only to be told that they were both accepted. They never fully recovered.

Fatphil
Too talented to be a mascot player but aloof enough that he fit the part anyway. Everyone loves fatty. He and Sent1nel actually share the same vocal chords, it’s disquieting. Shares his girlfriend with a guy called KonKa who sold me a defective nVidia card.

KOSMiX
I made a video documentary about his life and how influential and inspiring he is. It ran for 40 seconds, including credits. He was one of the most intelligent players in the game, although you wouldn’t guess it if you heard him giggling cheekily all the time. Kos always seemed to have this ability to glide around the map, staying alive and killing people without them knowing how it happened. He’s probably one of the only players who really could be classified as a “ninja”, especially when it came to throwing grenades around. He had a knack for pissing people off in-game, a lot like Midway and Flare.

Demanufacturer
I always felt bad for not meeting up with him during the Big Day In in Melbourne. I can’t remember what happened, but someone was meant to ring someone but it never happened and that was the end of it. Oops. I think it was my fault. Another strong player with a controversial personality who I think was inspired by what he experienced in RtCW and took it to ET and ended up changing the environment forever. His videos were always superb and enjoyable and way too big for anyone to download with their bandwidth cap but ultimately worth the investment. Also, for the record, I used to Sten duel Deman all the time at 4am and win, so shut up about how good he was with it. :P

Haste
Had a squeaky voice and wasn’t cool until he joined dot in ET, probably because he’d grown up a bit.

Danzail
He was one of those players that was always a threat but due to his ping would cause me to second guess myself and incorrectly assume I had a good advantage. I always had this image of all the =SE= guys as being a bit mysterious and quiet, but always good players. Of course, they all split up and mostly went to good teams so it looks like I was right. Along with Calvin, he brought respect to the Kiwis!

Calvin
I liked Calvin mainly because he was one of the two other people that used to use my little GUID parsing program and send me log files from it. If memory serves I believe he did a pretty good job shoutcasting later on, too. Didn’t he also organise some tournament? Jesus, my brain is rotten.

DRAGON
I never got to know Dragon very well, but I always looked up to him. I guess it was another one of those scenarios where I was only a kid of about 19 or 20, dancing around the servers and forums as an idealistic and hopeful youth and he was a …what, 50 year old (just kidding), calm and respected guy that always seemed to be influencing the direction of the community from the background (then again, wasn’t everyone in O2?). Then I became a GameOp and started ignoring him and everyone else.

EJ
When I met EJ I thought he didn’t look anything like I expected but then I realised I’d never actually imagined that in the first place. The motormouth that pushed fun back into shoutcasting would have us all on edge as he called all the big games. To have your name called out by EJ in a match was always a thrill, whether or not he was saying how bad you performed or if you had a sexy mother. I managed to meet up with him at the Big Day In, only to get high, drunk and sweaty with him and his Rangers mates before waking up the next day on the floor in his hotel room. Oh yes.

Sent1nel
I never had a lot to do with him directly, apart from the odd pub scrap and having a chat with him once on Ventrilo and thinking he was Fatphil. As a dotmaen we had to be rivals, as we were always competing against whatever team he was in at the time. I know he’s gone a long way these days with esports in Australia, but I can’t help but think if he wasn’t heavily inspired to create iMmunity and do it that way because of what he learnt from dot’s successes against his first “amateur” teams and our original attitude/push for professionalism, sponsorship and touring.

redknob
Yes, me! Well, I remember being a whitey and curious about how this game was meant to be played online, as it wasn’t as easy to get into as MoH:AA. I’d had a history in online FPS games but RtCW was a different experience. Eventually I started figuring it out and got picked u
p into LoA, for who my heart still longs. We grew a lot as a team but eventually I guess I’d also outgrown it, as well as life and the environment in the team changing. By the time I joined dot I’d become a GameOp and created my own GUID list to track aliases, along with being responsible for getting all the Sydney players drunk at our meetups. Nowadays I just sit around in Estonia being cold and wondering why we are still all so fond of this game and how it’s even possible that it changed (and I know it sounds nerdy to say) our lives.

Mr Manager?

I’m hacking the Gibson at the moment when it comes to optimising bed sales for the hostel.

Well, I can pretend I am. To be honest I’m not sure if any of it will work. Actually, I’m going to wipe a lot of the stuff I did today and start again tomorrow. I’ve got a new idea.

Yes, I watched Hackers today. It was woeful. Funny, but woeful. I was also disappointed that the scene of Angelina Jolie completely topless didn’t appear, as at least that would have made the 100 minutes I spent watching it feel more worthwhile to my loins. Maybe I’m thinking of the wrong film? An unfiltered Google search suggests otherwise, though.

I’m too lazy to play games at the moment. Just the effort of paying attention sounds too hard. How depressing can I possibly get? Honestly?

Well, it’s not so bad. I reinstalled Neverwinter Nights 2 along with its expansions and am now waiting for an opportunity to play it co-operatively with dozer and tofu. It’s a bit difficult when we are in timezones 9 hours apart, but I’m sure we’ll get a chance eventually. At least for a few minutes.

That’s what I’ll be doing in the meantime until January 22nd. That’s the day that Darkfall is meant to release it’s open beta… Of course, they’re only going to allow a certain amount of people into it, which kind of kills the point of it being “open”, but who knows? I might be lucky.

Otherwise, I think it’s scheduled for a release on February 25th. That’s too far ahead to imagine and I’m already feeling old. I can wait for my birthday to come later this month…

I wish my laptop didn’t get so hot on the underside. It nearly burns my leg. It’s a shame it isn’t a nice, warm and fuzzy temperature, as that would be dandy during the winter. I suppose I could just wear slippers instead, but fuck it.

Bored with the vidya

Well, I’m not completely bored with video games. I’m just bored with all the ones that seem to exist at the moment.

I admit, I play a lot of games and I usually don’t finish them. The reasoning for that is due to different factors: getting bored once I work out the game mechanics, the pacing is too slow or boring, the game isn’t very well made or balanced, I can’t play it online effectively or I can’t concentrate on it properly because of all the distractions in the hostel.

I can’t remember if I ever wrote about my “3 day test” in regards to games. Basically, I believe something must be decent if I’m still playing it 3 days later.

Now, with all the distractions that I mentioned tend to interrupt my gaming experience, it probably sounds ludicrous to want to attempt an intensive, permanent PvP MMORPG such as Darkfall, but it sounds hardcore enough and varied enough that I would actually enjoy it. I hope.

I’ve attempted WoW out of boredom, even though I knew it wasn’t for me when I played the closed beta before it was released.  A few years later, when I purchased the full game, I found it was only mildly entertaining due to some friends playing it with me so we could talk about stupid occurrences we had played a part in.

So, back to paying for games and paying to play… Well, I suppose I can always cancel, like I did for FFXI, WoW, and Everquest.

Actually, now that I mention it, Everquest was probably the one I enjoyed the most of all of them, due to it being an real unforgiving bastard. Hopefully Darkfall is the same but not as crack-like.

In other news, I slept on the floor under the dryer last night, due to a big group of drunk Finnish students taking all the beds and staying up all night.

In other other news, I am scared to go to the gym today due to my legs hurting. I’m a pussy, I know.

Lazy bones

In more ways than one. Nearly 2 weeks since I went running and I haven’t done much other exercise. I can feel the flab and shame creeping up on me.

My excuse is that I’ve been entertaining guests and Marika. What a good person I am. It’s also still too windy for a little boy like me to be charging around and letting my hair get all frizzled.

We’ve been having nice folks staying with us lately and shitloads are from Australia, of course. It’s a much nicer environment in the hostel without all these big fucking groups that stick to themselves.

Drunk staff members help with the fun, too.

I’ve been thinking for quite some time about writing a book about my time in the hostel, the people I’ve met and the funny stories that come along with it. Just for fun. Unfortunately I don’t really (or at least haven’t yet) take any notes, so if I do ever end up putting something out there it could very likely be considered semi-fictional. That’s alright though, since it feels like my life here is anyway.

palmy wants me to make a blog on his site for his girlfriend. I’m doing it because I like configuring things from scratch. I could be doing something else, like kicking the arse of 5 countries at the same time in Medieval 2: Total War but this will do for now.  She even wants the same theme I use! Jesus.

They’re coming over to visit in July, apparently. Hmm.

I saw Indiana Jones 4 the other day. It was alright. Not brilliant, but fun enough. I won’t go into any kind of review because there’s already shitloads out there. Ford looks in pretty good shape for his age, I have to admit.

So, time for coffee with Pilly.

Pro-gaming.

I hope I didn’t break my “one worded subjects” convention by using a hyphenated word. I guess I just can’t stop myself from living on the edge.

Here’s a new article from The Age:

Play and learn

It was an awakening for American writer Steven Johnson – just a hint of the educational power of video games.

Recently released in Australia,
Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today’s Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter contends that not only is gaming beneficial but so is popular television.

He proffers scientific studies carried out over the past decade that show gamers can be faster at visual recognition, can condition their brains to use less energy and can even be more social, confident and comfortable in problem-solving than those who don’t play.

Johnson is such a believer in the enriching powers of video games that he’d like to see them come with a “cognitive challenge” rating alongside ratings for violence and language so parents are advised on their mental stimulation.

There’s more of a discussion in the article. Still, yay. I guess.

I am about to eat a pie.

Devs.

Interesting little ditty on independent video game development:

Indie gamers come out and play.

Free Play, the Next Wave Independent Game Developers Conference, begins tomorrow at Federation Square, aimed at independent game developers, “creatively frustrated” professionals, students, gamers, modders and artists.

Marcus Westbury, Next Wave artistic director, says Free Play was established to encourage more independent game development.

“Compared to cinema, music and other contemporary art forms where there is a strong tradition of independent productions and distribution mechanisms, games still need to fight hard to build that space,” Mr Westbury says.

I’m sure no one can fuck up anything as much as Electronic Arts can, so good on them.

In other news, my first two results have come out for uni, I got 81 for databases and 86 for project management! Yay!