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Phil_E Blog

The new job

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For those of you who have been messaging me and asking what I'm up to nowadays, I've taken up the editor's post at www.gamesindustry.biz, which is a trade-focused news site.

But I'll of course still be hanging around here, checking out what the UK team are up to!

A Fond Farewell

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Well, the time has come to say goodbye to you all, as today is my last day at GameSpot UK.

The past 14 months or so has seen a remarkable change in the way that the UK team has integrated into the overall GameSpot offering, and there's still plenty to come. From taking part in Xbox Live matches against the US and Australian teams, to covering local console and software launches, working on "soccer" games in a British accent, looking after studio visits in the UK and Europe, putting together video features, chatting to you fine people on the UK forum, and my personal favourite, the setting up of the GameSpot UK podcast.

It's been great fun for me, and a pleasure to work with the rest of the UK team, and of course I'm immensely proud to be able to have counted myself alongside the exceptionally talented team in the US who we've all known and loved for so long.

I leave you in the more than capable hands of LozzaGS--I'll still be around here writing the odd blog post, and I can't wait to see some of the team's plans for the future come to fruition!

In the meantime, take care y'all, fly safe, happy gaming, etc, etc.

Cheers

Phil

All hail the new telly!

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Over the Bank Holiday weekend I splashed out on a new TV for the study :D

I spent most of Monday thoroughly engrossed in various HD incarnations of my Xbox 360 games, and pretty soon I'll sort out digital TV in there too.

Which means I may never have to leave the room again, except to eat, sleep and visit the loo.

GameSpot UK's birthday gaming night

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Well, I have to say, that was pretty good fun. For those that missed it, we decided to set up a few games against site users earlier in the week, in order to celebrate GameSpot UK's 1st birthday.

Admittedly, it was a fairly low-key event, but it was the first event of its kind that we've tried, so we wanted to keep it manageable. We posted in the GSUK forum for anybody interested, and pretty soon we had seven others signed up for some decent Xbox Live multiplayer action on Gears of War.

Now, if I'm honest, FPS games aren't necessarily my primary choice of games, although CoD2 was my only 1,000 pointer. Still, I haven't actually played that much GoW, due to frustrations with the control system (for getting in cover) and I've played it online very little.

Anyway, enough of the excuses. We played three matches--two teams of four, randomly selected, in a 1st-to-15 round target. Guy was to GSUK staffer playing in the first round, and he actually came top on points. I was second, and came last. And I have no idea how Alex fared, as I had to go grab a train home.

Point being though, that it was great, and everybody taking part got prizes and emblems. Due to the fact that it turned out so well, we're currently looking to do more in future, so keep looking out for opportunities in the GSUK forum, and we'll try and give you plenty of warning :)

Please note that ideally, while we'd like to mix up the platform and game genre as much as possible, we'll make the final decision on what we play based on practicality, and what we think would produce a good event.

Puzzle Quest completed!

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Finally, I managed to vanquish the final boss on about my tenth attempt, and that ends what's been a most enjoyable month with my head firmly in puzzle-RPG land.

I've been playing the game on every train journey to and from London, as well as a fair few hours at other times too, and it lasted a lot longer than I thought it would. If you're into puzzle games like Tetris or Bejeweled, and enjoy RPG tales with a sense of humour, then you should definitely check Puzzle Quest out. Where's the sequel already?!

Next up I'll be playing through Innocent Life: A Future Harvest Moon. It's billed as a mystery-cum-farming adventure. Or something. I started it today, and so far I've learned how to cultivate and harvest virtual potatoes. I kid you not. But don't worry, I'll let you know how my agricultural travails proceed in due course...I know you'll be dying to hear...

Obtained: 1 new graphics card.

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Ok, job done. Picked up a GeForce 8800 with 320MB DDR3 RAM this evening. Runs pretty smooth, temperatures pretty stable, although one of the cores did peak at 75 degrees, which was a bit of a surprise...but no crashes or glitching.

Fingers crossed.

Wanted: 1 new graphics card.

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Well, that's it then. In the past 4-5 months I've been having horrible issues playing anything 3D, with regular crashes which--over time--I've diagnosed as general overheating. Last night I swapped out my ATI Radeon X800XT card and put in a borrowed Nvidia 7800, opened up multiple 3D apps on the desktop, and let rip.

The result was perfect, smooth running--no glitching, no crashes. The GPU temp never exceeded 52 degrees, the dual cores peaked briefly at a relatively high, but safe, 66 degrees.

Which means only one thing. I need to put my hand in my pocket (again) if I want to keep playing games on my PC...

D'OH!

Vanguard trial: Day 5

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Another patch download later (clearly these guys are working hard....) I've made up a character. I decided to opt for a Sorceror, as I prefer the high damage role, as opposed to healer or tank, and it looks like these guys are pure offensive magic. I'm starting out on the Kojan continent, one of three, and I'm a half elf.

There are lots of character customisation options, but I decided to play it safe, going for the dark-haired, thin-faced, mysterious type. And I frown a lot, as I expect that that's what serious magic-users do a lot, with all that concentration.

I started out in a place called Shang Village, and there was some kind of conflict going on between Imperial troops (my side, it seemed) and the villagers. Basically there was a bunch of people fighting continually, and several of the buldings were on fire. I picked up my first quest--chivying up the soldiers--and before long I was flinging Taqmir's Bolts (a ranged spell) left, right and centre.

It was only a matter of minutes before I'd completed the opening trio of quests, and was sent off to find the next quest-giver slightly further along the starting area, but already I was getting an impression of the power struggle going on around me. I had the funny feeling that all was not as it seemed...

Anyway, that's where I left it, and I'll pick up with more from Vanguard when I next get some decent time in Telon.

Vanguard trial: Days 1-4

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Well, unfortunately I've not been around, so all I managed to do was download the patch updates. It took a couple of hours, but was relatively painless apart from that. Next up I'll actually log in and create a character.

Some nice weather, and a screen break.

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Well, some nice weather, anyhow. I haven't quite managed to stay away from games during my little break. Most notably I'm still ploughing through Puzzle Quest, determined to complete it so that I can read some books I want to get to.

I'm also in the middle of installing Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. It's an MMOG that I first saw in action back in December, and wrote up a preview of while it was in the beta test phases. Briefly, it's an ambitious, sprawling game with some nice ideas about adding variety into the increasingly stagnant set of genre tropes we seem to get nowadays.

Sadly, even right at the end of the beta test, just before the game was set to go live, it was still beset by numerous technical issues, so I decided to wait a little while before venturing in, and now seems like a good enough time. I'll try and make the most of the 30 free days of play time included with the game, and see how it's coming along.