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  1. MarkN

    Desert Island Discs - game edition.

    I don't do online games, so I've picked 8 that aren't (I guess Minecraft could be, I just wouldn't (I'm a loner, a desert island sounds smashing, quite frankly)). 1. Spelunky (PC) - I still play the daily, have beaten hell dozens of times, but it never gets old. Every day's a new challenge (and I've been rubbish lately (I have a rule that I can't change character until I've beaten Hell, and I've been the chap with the leopard skin hat for the best part of a fortnight now). 2. Dwarf Fortress (PC) - the best game ever made. I haven't played it in 5 years. I've no idea what state it's in. It's still the best game ever made. If I had the cash to retire tomorrow, I'd probably start a game of this. 3. Crusader Kings 2 (PC) - magnificent historical bastard simulator. I'm awful at it, but would like to get better. But just dabbling I can be an absolute monster within half an hour. 4. Robotron - (arcade) - The absolute pinnacle of arcade games. Not my favourite because I'm shit at it. This is quintessential videogame though. The audio is sublime - the soundtrack to my childhood. A good spell on a desert island might see me raise my game. 5. Rez VR (PS4) - I haven't played this yet, but adore Rez to bits. It's magnificent. It's the 3 letter rebuttal to the idea that all boss fights in games are awful. All of Rez's are brilliant. 6. Civilization 4 with all add-ons (PC). I can't not take a Civ game, and this perhaps is the sweet spot (haven't played 6 yet, mind). Me and a couple of mates refer to being in a "Civ-hole" for that one-more-turn scenario that you can't break free of. 7. Minecraft (PC) - I've played so much of this and keep going back. I've come really close to reaching the Ender Dragon maybe half a dozen times, but never bothered to do it. I get distracted by another game, then come back to Minecraft a few months later and start from scratch again. 8. Mr Do. (arcade) Tough call this one - I wanted another cabinet but there are loads that I love to choose from (Pengo, Pooyan, 1942, Mad Planets...) but there's something really lovely about Mr. Do. Really cheerful tunes too - would help keep the spirits up. Hardware is the PSVR to play Rez on. My book would be something nostalgic - 1000 videogames to play before you die, that kind of thing. Something with lots of pretty pictures to paw at futilely whenever my mood takes a turn for the worse.
  2. I played a silly number of hours of Animal Crossing before realising you could stack fruit in the inventory. I'd say the game is to blame for this mind, because it doesn't stack automatically, it makes you do it as busy work, but still the amount of time I wasted clearing up each day before that...
  3. Oh - here we go. I've found it. The reason I love Moby Dick. This is sublime. The perfect set-up, the perfect knock-down, and yet so understated. It's so beautifully written, and yet so very awful. It's as bleak as hell, and that's why I love it.
  4. A quick one from David Gemmel's fantasy "Legend" (I'm a huge Gemmel fan). You've got Druss - the aging axe-wielding hero of the land, in the massive fort where the final battle will be fought to decide the fate of the nation. It's a hopeless cause - the enemy are too vast and numerous - but he's gone there anyway, because - where else would he be? A long way past his prime he's there to fight, knowing he's going to die... but he's also there to live. On the eve of battle one of his comrades mentions the cold: "A cold night to be out walking, sir" he said, cursing himself for the respectful tone. "I have seen worse. And I like the cold. It's like pain - it tells you you're alive." I love the cold weather, and part of that is the feeling of being alive when it's a bit raw out. Whenever anyone moans about it being a bit nippy, I tend to give them a bit of Druss. Not the most profound or beautiful line you'll find I'll warrant, but it's stuck with me since the first time I read it.
  5. MarkN

    Minecraft - Better Together update now available

    The one main tip I'd suggest is that your original spawn point in the world is important early on - this is where you will respawn if you die. So it's a good plan to set up home close to this at first, because it's really easy to get horribly lost and not be able to find all the kit you've stashed in chests etc. You can move somewhere nicer later, but early on it's super handy to be close to home - especially if you die and respawn at night when there are hostiles about.
  6. MarkN

    rllmuk's recommended reading

    I agree - one of the quibbles I mentioned was that it did drag a little in the middle. But on the other hand by the time it ended I didn't want it to stop...
  7. MarkN

    rllmuk's recommended reading

    The Black Tulip has been added to my Kindle via Project Gutenberg. And The Stars' Tennis Balls is now on my Amazon wishlist. Thanks both for the recommendations. I've read The Stars My Destination, but was quite young and I'm sure I missed a lot (or Tiger, Tiger as it was called then). I've read so many plaudits since that I think I should re-read it. (I've since read The Demolished Man by the same author, and did it in one sitting (it was THAT good).). Will put it back on the list.
  8. MarkN

    rllmuk's recommended reading

    I'll plus one the First Law Series (not that it needs it, but it's magnificent, and I've loved everything else I've read of Abercrombie's afterwards). My suggestion is The Count Of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, which I read after a recommendation on another forum. It's a title I've always been aware of, but didn't really know why. And yet, it's frankly magnificent. I've been trying to catch up on the classics in the last ten years or so, and whilst many are worthwhile, and usually rewarding, this is the one that was like striking gold. It's an absolutely cracking read. It's also enormous, and probably better for it (get it unabridged - it's a book to live with for a good long while). It struck me as being ahead of its time - like an early take on Jason Bourne, with a protagonist who is super smart, well-informed and incredibly adept at anything he turns his hand to. I've got a couple of quibbles with it that I won't go into, but overall it's an absolute belter, and I remember feeling slightly miffed that no-one had brought it to my attention earlier.
  9. MarkN

    Female-fronted alt/indie rock

    I've not kept up to date with this thread, but popped in because I've just got around to the new Belly album. First impressions are very good, but I see it's been mentioned so I felt obliged to add something new instead (I've got a lot of listening to catch up on since I last visited this thread too - lots of cool-looking stuff been posted since). Here's a favourite from many years ago - Snake River Conspiracy, with the delightful You and Your Friend (which I've just found out is a cover - they also do a fun cover of the Smiths' How Soon Is Now?). And a friend recently pointed me at the new band featuring a couple of SRC - Mojave Phone Booth. I've not got round to listening to the album yet, but this track's a promising start:
  10. MarkN

    Vegetarian / Vegan recipes

    Just bought a tin of jackfruit from the Sainsbury's I work in. This has to be very new because I'd have seen it before (working as an online shopper means I know the store like the back of my hand). This is just jackfruit in water, and cost £1.20 for the can. Was in the aisle with tinned tomatoes and pulses, near the bags of quinoa and packets of couscous, FWIW. Not a clue what I'm going to do with it yet - will have a trawl of the internet for ideas. This is the stuff:
  11. MarkN

    Demon's Souls

    One of the things I love most about Demons Souls is that I haven't played it in years, and yet whenever this thread resurfaces it's a must-read, and I get to enjoy it all over again through other people's experiences. What a game!
  12. MarkN

    Xbox Adaptive Controller and related peripherals

    Great stuff. I saw it mentioned on Eurogamer yesterday but there weren't many details. That Ars article shows it seems to be really well designed. Not trying to solve everything, but trying to enable much easier, cheaper solutions for as many cases as possible.
  13. MarkN

    Relaxing games

    Viva Pinata really suffered from being incredibly manic at the start when you were just trying to learn how to play. On your very first go it would be a constant assault of pop-ups - tutorial advice, warnings about conflicts and incursions, achievement notifications etc. You'd try to respond to one mini-crisis and get 3 or 4 other messages pop up before you'd even identified the first problem. Once you've got through that, and learnt how to prevent most of the bad things happening it's a fantastic game to relax with (and incredibly charming to boot), but the first couple of hours are really fraught.
  14. MarkN

    You're saying it wrong!

    The look I got when I asked for a copy of Lumines on PSP from Gamestation - like I was absolutely mental. "Do you have Loo-min-ess?" They did have a copy of "Loo-mins" though, so I made do with that instead..
  15. My mum makes this tomato and garlic flan each year at Christmas which is usually really lovely. Several years back it started being a bit bland, so I (kindly) pointed out that it was lacking a bit of flavour. Next year it was no better, but my mum was puzzled because she said she'd doubled the amount of garlic in it. Next year even blander still, and she'd upped the garlic again. It was then that I realised that all it was lacking was a bit of salt. I mentioned it, and she said "Oh yeah - your Dad had high-blood pressure so I changed the recipe". Sprinkling a little salt on top helped, but it would have been much better cooked through it. If you don't want too much salt, you could try MSG instead. It's perfectly fine (providing you don't have an allergic reaction to it), and you can pick it up in Asian supermarkets fairly cheaply. It won't do the same job as salt flavour-wise, but it will boost the flavour in its own way.

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