Archive for category: Entertainment

Those Cyberpunk Vibes

10 May
May 10, 2015

Writing is an interesting activity. It’s fairly close to acting, I feel, in that when I write I have to try to put myself into the mindset of my characters in order to write them. I have to try to feel their emotions, perceive their world as they perceive it. I have to reach deep down into myself and draw out the mood and tone of that imaginary place somehow, weaving it out of my own memories and imagination.

Good music helps. Music has a tremendous power to evoke emotion, we react to audio on a very primal level. Before I start writing, I like to load a selection of tracks tailored to opening up the pathways to those inner spaces.

Since I’m writing cyberpunk at the moment, that means a selection of electronica, 80s nostalgia synth, and urban-tribal grungey beats. Not forgetting soundtracks from classic cyberpunk movies like Blade Runner, of course. πŸ˜‰

Here are some of the artists/tracks that I like to write to.


Blade Runner Blues

Carpenter Brut

Dredd Soundtrack

Tron soundtrack

Valve Rethinks Paid Mods

28 Apr
April 28, 2015

In the face of various problems and a boat-load of criticism, Valve and Bethesda have decided to rethink their paid mod model.

I have to give Valve credit for being open to listening to their audience and admitting when they get something wrong. And I suspect we’ll see this feature again soon, probably in a new title where it won’t be so disruptive to an existing communities culture.

So we’ll just have to wait and see where this goes

Ain’t No Party Like A Boarding Party

25 Apr
April 25, 2015

Space piracy simulator Galaxy Heist is looking like it might be something special. Not to mention, rather beautiful.

Certainly worth following development and keeping an eye out for their kickstarter. πŸ˜‰

Steam’s Paid Mods

24 Apr
April 24, 2015

Daniel pointed out to me that Valve have announced paid modding support in Steam, starting with Bethesda’s Skyrim. My thoughts below.

Like Daniel, I have mixed feelings on this. You could say that I’m cautiously optimistic.

On the one hand, as a developer, I like the idea of paid mods. The Unity asset store is one of the best things about the Unity engine; people earn money, some of them very good money, from making things that enhance the experience for everyone. I like that ‘we thrive together’ philosophy.

And supporting modding is a bigger enterprise than some might realize, especially the kind of modding you can do in a game like Skyrim. That translates into development time, which translates into money. It’s not a trivial cost. Being able to earn a cut of mod sales will provide an additional financial incentive to developers to support modding, and to continue to support the modding scene in the future. So that’s a plus.

I also like to see more avenues for hobbiests to transition to paid professionals without having to have a lot of up-front capital. As I said, some people make a good living producing assets for the Unity asset store. I can see the really popular mods making a tidy bundle for their creators, too.

The financial incentive may also result in fewer promising mods being abandoned halfway by their creators, or left to get outdated over time.

That being said, I do understand the fear that all the mods that used to be free will go paid and the rich, mod-supported experience of Bethesda games will dry up into a wasteland of paid, half-assed products and cheap money-grabs.

The fact that Steam still offers users a 24 hour money-back refund might help alleviate the gold-rush aspect a bit. So long as you play the content when you buy it, a few hours is more than enough to get a decent sense of whether the mod is worth a few bucks.

The other thing to keep in mind is what happened on Apple’s app store. The glut of competing products resulted in tremendous downward price pressure, something we’re seeing on Steam now, too. I’m guessing that for all but the best mods, the competition will drive the price down into the $1-$3 region, over time. Which is not exorbitant, especially since you can get your money back if you quickly decide this isn’t a mod you want to play with, long term.

We’ll have to wait and see where prices stabilize to.

We’ll also see if some spirit of communal sharing is maintained. There are still free assets released on the Unity Asset store, developers who choose to give back to the community. I’m hoping that at least some of that same spirit will survive the relentless engine of Capitalism. πŸ˜‰

Not A Hero

23 Apr
April 23, 2015

I didn’t know I wanted this game until today.

Lovely High Rez Art From The Order 1886

21 Apr
April 21, 2015

Spiderweb Software no longer developing games for iPad

17 Apr
April 17, 2015

Sad news. Jeff’s a great guy, this must be a real blow.

Sarkeesian in TIME’s 100 Most Influential People

17 Apr
April 17, 2015

The Puppies need to learn the core lesson of GamerGate. That shit backfires SO hard.

14 Apr
April 14, 2015

Why put this option in the menu when you could charge people more money, on top of the $60 they’ve already spent? Right!?!

Capitalism ho!

Tabletop Day and Icon By The Sea

12 Apr
April 12, 2015

It was International Tabletop Day yesterday, so what better way to spend it than at the inaugural Icon By The Sea?

To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised at the turnout. Of South Africa’s three big cities, Durban(where I live) is known as the sleepy coastal town, and not without reason. Big events often skip Durban, they struggle to fill seats.

But this weekend, Durban’s geeks gave a good showing!


It was day two of the event, but the the hall was packed and the board game tables buzzing. Kudos to Shelley Kirby, Francois and all the other staff and volunteers from The Unseen Shoppe and affiliates for organizing the event and spending all day running newbies through the games. Personally, I had a blast!

The first game we played was King of Tokyo, a new favourite of mine. Simple to understand and setup, quick to play, but varied enough and involving enough strategy to keep veterans and newcomers alike entertained. This one will find itself a home in my games cupboard very soon, methinks.



Here I am, teaching my tiny protΓ©gΓ© how to play.


I taught him a bit too well, it seems, as he went on to crush the rest of us under his slimy crustacean heel! Hubris!!!

The steely gaze of a master tactician.


Next up was Lords of Waterdeep, an intriguing worker placement game.




Unfortunately, I was too slow to hone in on one strategy and ended up losing to a girl who cornered the arcane faction. Ah well, good fun regardless! Next time, I shall seize Waterdeep for my own, or my name isn’t Khelben Blackstaff*! *shakes fist determinedly*

There was a stock of board games I didn’t manage to get to, many of which I’ve been wanting to try out for ages. Next time! I will get to you all, my lovelies!

Board games weren’t the only geeky fun to be had. There was cosplay…



…wargaming (man, the details on the models! Those dioramas! I avoid wargaming for good reason. In it, I see my doom)…


Rally Da Boyz!

Our victory is Inevitable


Chaos Rises




For the Glory of the God-Emperor! Cleanse the Filth!

For the Craftworld!



Raiders Incoming.

Nagash Rising

My favourite thing was this Warhammer themed tape measure. Too cool. πŸ˜€

…and, of course, merch. So much merch. I had to roll MANY saving throws vs consumerism.




I spend so much time working down in the creative mines that I can forget to take time off, to enjoy the sunlight and restore my spirits. It was great to put aside work for an afternoon and enjoy just being a fan and a gamer. Here’s hoping that this is just the beginning of great things this convention!

*My name isn’t Khelben Blackstaff.