Month: September 2015

Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture – Final thoughts

I’m writing this as I watch the ending credits for Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. I figured I should write this now, before I chat to my Dad and have my own thoughts corrupted on how this game ended.

First off – mini review time! Spoilers lie ahead.

This game is pretty much a walking simulator. Little action happens, but that does not stop it being interesting. Also, it’s a very pretty game.

Overall, you are hunting around for bits of dialogue concerning some of the inhabitants of the village. You start off with Jeremy, the vicar, followed by Wendy, Frank, Lizzie, Stephen and finally, Kate.

I won’t go into full details here to avoid too many spoilers. Stephen and Lizzy both struck me as quite immoral – Stephen in particular. He is married to Kate, but is having an affair with Lizzy (who is also married). That said, Kate ended up being somewhat crazy at the end, though I’m beginning to think that the ending showed her fully taken over by the entity that had ‘disappeared’ the entire village. Wendy was something of an interfering busy body. Frank and Jeremy were probably my favourites to follow around. They seemed to actually care about the people around them, which gives them points in my book.

The most interesting characters to me though, were those who appeared in the various dialogues. Rachel was heartbreaking – a 16 year old girl who just wanted to get out of the village and see the world. Dr Wade, tirelessly wandering around trying to cure people of the ‘flu’.

There is no happy ending in this game. And it brings about the question – if unknowingly, you were living the last day of your life, how would an observer see your actions if only viewed through small snapshots like this? Maybe I judge some of the characters unfairly on the limited amount of information given. We are presented with interesting moral aspects though. The vicar who euthanised Franks wife. Frank, admitting he was too afraid to be with his wife in her last few moments, who hid down the pub instead. Wendy, encouraging her son to have an extra marital affair, but is later seen helping someone overcome a PTSD episode. Kate, who is so enamoured of an experiment that she made no effort to halt it when it became obvious that people were dying as a result.

There is so much more I could write about this game, but this is in danger of turning into an essay as it is. I may make another post when I’ve had more time to think about it.

Pet theory on what I think has gone on here – a lonely alien kidnapped itself some friends. Although spontaneous combustion is hinted at due to infection, I do think that the entity took the people before the nerve gas got them. I may well be wrong, and will probably have a different view on the matter once I start googling this and talking to people about it.

Overall, an entertaining and interesting game, but I’m not sure I’ll be playing it again – the replay value is incredibly low. Definitely worth playing (or walking through) at least once.

Everybody's Gone To The Rapture™_20150919162047
Pretty waterfall!

The last 5 things I watched on Netflix

Not sure if this list casts me in a strange light or not!

  • Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood
    • This has become one of my all time favourite animes ever. Just awesome!
  • Once Upon a Time
    • A fun spin on fairy tales. Really cannot wait for the next season to start!
  • Grimm
    • A darker spin on fairy tales. Another I am awaiting the next season of.
  • Dead Like Me
    • I’m sad it ended when it did. Really would have liked to see more.
  • Merlin
    • Simply awesome, and hilarious at the same time. Yet another that I feel could have had another season in it. Shame!

In conclusion – I need to start watching things that don’t seem to end prematurely. Story of my life!

Role Playing Games – Or how I learnt patience

Role Playing Games were my first love when it came to computer gaming in general.

The first one I really remember was Shining in the Darkness, which I played on the Sega Mega Drive. I wasn’t that great at it back then, though. I didn’t realise that I would have to work to level up my characters and such. In fact, my Dad used to sit up late at night, reading a book after I had been sent to bed, and walk up and down a corridor in the labyrinth, dutifully killing as many enemies as possible for me, so that upon my return to the game the next day I could progress thanks to the extra levels he had gained for me. Thanks, Daddy!

Shining in the Darkness did teach me the value of levelling up. It also taught me how to draw out a map – a map which Dad and I worked on together until he found a book in a local bookshop that contained all the maps. Remember this was back in the days before the internet was a thing, so we all had to rely on gaming magazines or books if we wanted to get answers to things. Of course, working out the secrets for ourselves was way more fun. Even now, I will always complete a game before I even dream of googling it, just to recapture that old feeling of excitement through exploration.

Thanks to Dad’s good example to me, when I got around to playing Shining The Holy Ark, I’d gotten this levelling up gig figured out. I patiently walked around a labyrinth to level up my characters, and loved every second of it. As trite as it sounds, it’s a skill I’ve been able to take forward with me. I can easily fall into this mindset of working at a monotonous task with the aim in mind of getting better at something.

I still love RPGs even now my Dad has progressed to first person shooters, and I can generally be found playing an action based hack and slash game. I would also quite happily argue that we can learn life skills and lessons from computer games, even if they are seen as a leisure activity. Here are the things I feel I learnt through many different RPGS;

  • Patience. It *is* a skill.
  • Never go the obvious route.
  • Exploration is rewarding.
  • If at first you don’t succeed, level up to 100 and blast your way through everything.
  • The Shining series of games is still awesome. Play it.

For my sister – how to make custard

Since my sister is apparently allergic to google, or to reading the cook book at Mum’s house, I figured I’d publish the rich custard recipe I use here, so she can stop asking me how to make it. Sis, if you don’t print this out and keep it somewhere, I reserve the right to feed you 10 litres of rich custard through a funnel in your nose.

3 egg yolks
1/2 – 3/4 tea spoon cornflour
2 table spoons caster sugar
150ml milk
150ml double cream *

Combine 3 table spoons milk, the cornflour, sugar and egg yolks. Mix well.

In a seperate pan, heat the milk and cream until simmering. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. At this point, you can add a vanilla pod to infuse (or cheat like I do and use a couple of drops of vanilla essence).

Strain the milk and cream mixture over the egg mixture. Ensure milk and cream has cooled enough at this point, otherwise you will curdle it, and get a strange texture to your custard.

Return everything to the pan, and heat at a low temperature, stirring all the while, until mixture thickens to the consistency you like. This will take somewhere between 6-8 minutes.

Voila! Custard.

* You can just use 300ml milk instead of cream, if you want a slightly healthier alternative.

I got the original recipe for this from The Cooking Book, which is still my kitchen bible even now. I would recommend it for all skill levels in the kitchen.

At the Haddenham Steam Rally

Looking for something a little bit different to do on a lazy sunday, the bloke and I checked out the Haddenham Steam Rally.

It was a very impressive showcase of all the vintage steam contraptions, with a mix of classic cars and bikes on show to add to the fun. Stalls selling and demonstrating vintage goods were in abundance, and the fair ground was varied.

My only criticism – just how expensive everything was. I can appreciate that putting on such an event is expensive. Admittedly, the bloke and I had failed to do our homework. The entrance fee was £10 per adult. Which ate into the vast majority of the cash I was carrying. None of the stalls (unsurprisingly) had a facility to pay by card. Which is a shame – because as the day went on, and we got hungry, we had to dig into our pockets to scrummage up enough change to afford a cornish pasty each – which at £4 each, meant that we were from that point on, truly cashless.

I guess the point of this post is that we were priced out of picking up any souvenirs, eating more food, or having a go on any of the rides. Partly due to our own lack of preparation, but partly due to how everything was so pricey. If not for being hungry, I know I would have refused to pay £4 for a small (though very tasty) pasty.

The lesson here – do more homework before heading out to an event like this. And take a packed lunch.

Truths about not being a student any more.

This weekend just gone, I had some old university buddies come to visit me. It was good fun to show them around my new home town, and just catch up in general. We’ve all grown up, some have had children, gotten married, etc.

Some things did serve to show just how much we’ve grown up, though.

  • Pillows. I did the all out ‘girly’ thing, apparently, by supplying too many pillows* when it came to providing comfortable sleeping areas. Gone are the bad old days when our student selves slept on the dormitory floor after a night out!
  • I went to bed before midnight.
  • We had alcohol left in the fridge in the morning. Our student selves would have wept.
  • We could actually afford to eat out.
  • We were all up before 9am. Sacrilege!
  • Instead of sharing pictures of fellow students asleep with their head in a bin, or in another similar state of inebriation, pictures of children were shared!
  • No one had to be carried home.
  • We all acknowledged that the stuff we learnt at university is probably useless now (we all studied Computing).

It’s always nice to catch up with old friends. And while some of the growing up we’ve done makes me yearn for the ‘good old days’, we haven’t done badly for ourselves at all. Until next time, guys!

* I still maintain that there is no such thing as too many pillows.

Your call is important to us. Please hold.

Who doesn’t hate call waiting systems? Normally, I would say that BT has the most obnoxious one. But I just went through the call hold system for my doctors surgery.

So – I wanted to book an appointment with a nurse in two weeks time. Unfortunately, the online appointments system only allows you to book appointments with a doctor. Ok, so – lines open at 8:30am. I’ll be at work at that time, but – how long can it take to book an appointment? Bang on 8:30, I phoned the doctors surgery, to be immediately left on hold. Due to a defect in their system, you get a helpful message after being on hold for about a minute informing you ‘Your call is important to us. Your position in the queue is:’, followed up by the hold music. It’s not until you have been on hold for about 5 minutes of your life that the other part of the system kicks in, and actually tells you your position in the queue.

My position was 20. 20!!! So, I decided that I should call back later, since my appointment isn’t urgent, and I don’t need it for 2 weeks.

So, 45 minutes later, I took a coffee break and decided to try again. After 5 minutes, I find I am number 3 in the queue. Great, may as well wait! Another 5 minutes later, and I go through the queue – straight to another answering system that wants me to categorise my call by pressing a number. Ok, 2 is appointments. Great!

I’m then left on hold for another 5 minutes. Another 5 minutes, even though I am apparently through the hold system. Great.

Finally, I get to speak to a real person. Who then informs me that if I want an appointment with a nurse for after my work hours (in this case, any time after 4pm for me), I would have to phone up on the day. Because phoning up 2 weeks in advance to try and secure an appoinmentment outside of my work hours is not possible, it seems.

All in all, I have lost 25 minutes of my life today, to book an appointment with a nurse in 2 weeks time, at a time that isn’t actually too convenient for me, because any appointment times after 3:40pm are blocked off for people phoning up on the morning that they need an appointment.

It’s no wonder I was 20 in the queue when I first phoned. This system is horrendous. Why not have people who need a same day appointment be able to have an appointment in the day, and let those of us who have a non-urgent medical need arrange an appointment for a future date at a time that is more convenient? Or would that make too much sense in this day and age? Should the assumption not be that someone needing a same day appointment may have a more urgent need that means they aren’t actually working that day, and could thus easily get to an appointment between 9-5?

I think I am going to develop an app that allows me to reach through a phone line and strangle whoever decided this system was in any way sensible.

5 Disney lessons you shouldn’t put into practice at work

  • Just whistle while you work.
    • Just don’t. This should require no further explanation.
  • Colleague asleep on the job?
    • Do not, under any circumstance, attempt to awaken them with a kiss. This would be a sexual harassment complaint waiting to happen.
  • Leaving your shoe behind to remind people you exist.
    • This will simply remind your colleagues that your feet probably smell.
  • Just keep rubbing until something comes out.
    • See the answers to lessons 1 and 2.
  • Collecting gizmos and gadgets aplenty.
    • This will annoy your peers when they figure out where all the teaspoons have disappeared to.

Toxic People

One thing that it is impossible to be prepared for is a toxic person in your life. Whilst my father often pointed out to me when growing up that ‘some people are just arseholes’, it did little to actually make me realise that some people can go beyond merely being an arsehole, and straight into what I would deem ‘batshit crazy’ territory.

I think we all meet someone who could be deemed toxic at least once. Usually, we can easily walk away, or limit contact with such a person so that they can have the minimum affect on us. Unfortunately, we sometimes end up in a situation where walking away is incredibly difficult.

I once had a housemate who I would deem to be toxic. She was my first housemate after flying the nest, and I didn’t deal with the situation then as I would now. I can only blame my own lack of spine, coupled with living in an area over 100 miles away from my family and friends where I knew no one. My usual support system was too far away to help. Plus, people who knew me assumed that I was ‘hard’ enough to not take being treated poorly.

It’s easy to stand up for yourself when you know you can leave the situation easily, and have a network of family and friends to support you through the fallout.

Anyways, I’m not going to go in to if my housemate had some kind of mental disorder – I’m no psychologist or psychotherapist to judge. What I do know is that over the period of 6 months, she almost had me running back to my home town with my tail between my legs.

She would blow hot and cold to extremes. She threatened to trash my stuff when I was going away for a weekend. Putting the toilet roll on the wrong way around resulted in one of the biggest telling offs I have ever received in my life. When going on a night out with her, she pretty much chose my outfit, as anything showing that I had a bigger bust than she did was a big NO. To my shame, I went along with it, as I was in a new town and thus in people pleasing mode. It was easier than being verbally trashed to the point of tears, even when I was getting more and more depressed over the situation. The night she came downstairs, naked, and asked me to take pictures of her to put on the internet had me on auto pilot. Because really, who expects someone to *do* that?!? I didn’t say anything, just took the pictures, handed back the camera, and then tried to figure out what the hell just happened. I could go on with some of the sheer nastiness or craziness that she inflicted on me, but well – we all have encounters with flat out strange people, and I feel I have given enough context here without dredging up further unpleasantness.

If I encountered this now, I would react very differently. For starters, I would get the hell out of that situation. There was no reasoning with this person. More to the point, she had a network of friends who on the surface, at least, seemed to think she was just lovely. It left me very confused at the time. Was I just misreading her unfairly? Was *I* the one with the problem? These days, I view it differently. Whether she was actually toxic in general was a moot point. She was toxic to me, and what other people thought of her really had no bearing on the negative effect it was having on my own psyche.

I’m better at dealing with toxic people now. I know to run the hell away, or to minimise contact. I’m better at saying ‘no’, even when I don’t have the fall back safety net of good people around me. I’ve also learnt that more often than not, I have good people behind me even when I don’t know it. But it’s always going to be up to me to take control of my own situation. One of the saddest things about adulting I have learnt is that I cannot expect other people to fix my problems without doing something about it myself first.