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Disconnected from a connected world

I've known for some time that I have horrible addictive tendencies. Sadly it's only recently become apparent how dependant on an always on, always connected, 100Mbit/s fibre optic connection I actually am.

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Being abruptly disconnected from the digital world this past bank holiday weekend had some profound effects on me. I'd never for one moment considered just how essential being online was to my gaming sensibilities, social life and to a lesser extent mental wellbeing.

In this modern world with its 24/7 always connected society I just felt like things were happening without me. Is it indicative of the connected society we have sleep walked into that I just felt somewhat 'out of the loop'?

I don't really know what loop I was fearful of falling through though. Facebook, once a place where girls I fancied in school posted holiday pictures has now become a continual stream of baby and weddings pictures, then the usual sob stories as another marriage falls apart due to private lives being play-out online in the public-eye. Facebook, a service I'm not totally enamoured with somehow happens to be one site I have the longest tenure with, and, as a result is normally the site I go to when I have a free moment. Those moments once reserved for day dreaming are now filled with pictures of adorable puppies, memes and declining invites to whatever social game is in vogue.

I can remember a time before the World Wide Web became my teacher, mother, and secret lover. Sadly that time was when I was in my early teens. A time when it is socially acceptable to be in the park all day drinking cider and a time when friends were only a short bike ride away. Today I fear even venturing near the local park, just in case I smile at a child and get branded a paedophile. While I often feel that I need to make an appointment with friends just so my presence doesn't clash with baby feeding routines, nappy changing or bath time.

So many people I'd call friends are people I purely have a digital relationship with. My relationship with the Citizen Game team is predominantly digital. Whether that be over Skype, through emails or on a digital battlefield. Without an internet connection a section of my social circle was missing.

Striving to be technologically advanced has been my biggest downfall during my disconnection. Spotify, Netflix and the iPlayer are all great services 'if' you are connected. Being restricted to watch scheduled television seemed limited and restrictive. While only having my own music collection to listen to felt like stepping back in time.

My biggest discovery with my disconnected time is how incredibly lazy the internet has made me. Knowledge is power but why bother remember stuff when you have a world of information at your fingertips' Things I'd once have been able to spew out verbatim have now turned into internet searched. My prioritising of information acquisition over knowledge retention is worrying and in effect resulting in my own 'dumbing down'.

But life without a connection reminded me that days are long and you can achieve so much without the distractions of the internet. Activities I'd been putting off for months because I 'just don't have the time' now had no digital distractions. For the first time in what seemed like years I was able to read Edge cover to cover in one sitting, and the banal sorting, storing or shredding of miscellaneous letters and payslips never felt so liberating.

It would have been a much sterner examination of my need to be connected if my weekend hadn't been filled with pre-arranged social events, looking at show homes and watching the FA Cup final.

Maybe a self imposed disconnect is something I should visit another time, but then again maybe my need to feel 'connected' is something I should seek medical attention for.

Originally posted on citizengame.co.uk on may 10th.

15 Years later

Back in the 90's point and click adventure games were riding high. LucasArts were effectively the sector leader within the genre, producing such timeless ****cs as Monkey Island, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis along with Day of the Tentacle.

So imagine how disappointed little Mark was one Christmas morning to wake-up and find after frantically unwrapping his present not Monkey Island but Flight of the Amazon Queen from Renegade Software under the Christmas tree. This was in spite of a month long campaign of dropping hints, circling the game in the Argos catalogue and collecting Toys-r-us item ticket. To be fair it wasn't as bad as the year I received Premier Manager 2 without the piracy protection code wheel. Now I don't want to sound like I was a spoiled ungrateful child, but I wasn't too happy about not finding Monkey Island under the tree. I cried, then proclaimed "But I've been a really good boy this year" (That statement couldn't have been further from the truth but my childhood is another story altogether).

Click the picture above for a 15 minute quicklook of Flight of the Amazon Queen

Now to be fair Flight of the Amazon Queen (FOTAQ) is far from a terrible game, it just wasn't the game I'd been hoping for. Anyway like any child at Christmas I made best of a bad situation and played the game regardless of my disappointment.

Initial disappoint aside I have nothing but fond memories of my time with FOTAQ as a child, but to my frustration I was never able to complete the game. This wasn't due to the disastrous bug that plagued the initial release of the game. The bug concerned a character that you met within the first 20 minutes and a conversation tree action required to obtain a door key was never triggered. My roadblock was a late game puzzle where I could never pass a giant snake that was preventing me from progressing through a door. So I set out to rectify this travesty that has blighted my gaming history for too long.

Firstly I had visions of fiddling with DOSbox or creating a virtual machine but thankfully due to the magical SCUMMvm (Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion Virtual Machine) platform the process was effortless. The virtual machine allows users to legally play a hefty library games that run on the SCUMM engine and a solid collection of Sierra games that don't (King's Quest, Leisure suit Larry and Space Quest to name a few).

Anyway. So FOTAQ is very much your standard 90's point and click adventure. Walk here, pick up this, pick up that, combine this and that to move thing, its a tried and tested formula that still works to this day.

The first thing that shocked me on booting up the game is that it has full voice acting or a "Talkies" version. On my 10 plus floppy disc Amiga version I was only greeted with glorious midi sounds, so the fact that the characters talked was something of a delight.

In the usual point and click adventure ****you take control of a character whom will carry out actions you request through that method of pointing and clicking. In FOTAQ you take control of Joe King (I kid you not), Joe a pilot for hire and owner of the Amazon Queen airplane. Whilst en route to the Amazon jungle the plane crashes and subsequently loses his passenger, famous movie star Faye Russel. The game in itself is a pastiche of early 1920's pulp magazines that have been used for inspiration for other fictional characters like Indiana Jones and Zorro.

The game holds up relatively well, but it does suffer from many issues that plagued all point and click adventure games from the 90's. You will get to a point where you are totally stuck and end up just clicking every single area of the screen and combining using every single item you have picked up. Then when you have exhausted every single combination and clicked every item you are, like little Mark was all those years ago, Stuck.

Maybe it seemed extremely alien 15 years ago that a game would actually help you if you were flummoxed by a puzzle or lost navigating a jungle. But then again maybe I wasn't the most intelligent child around. Because any idiot would know that to scare off a snake you use the flint in the lighter and rap the mummy bandage around the ulna bone and light the bandage to scare off the snake, right?

So some 15 years after starting the game I finally managed to finish it, without the aid of hints/ cheats or referring to the internet. Its not a great game by any stretch of the imagination. It has a strong premise and the first half of the game is witty and has enough nods and winks to other games of the ****to raise a broad smile. Its just a pity when the more outrageous science fiction elements start venturing into the main storyline the ability to suspend disbelief becomes harder and harder.

I wouldn't discourage any one from checking out Flight of the Amazon Queen. Its a charming adventure that just happened to have been over shadowed by slightly better games.

I Don't want to grow up (Music Tagging)

Right, Firstly blame gbrading for this blog posting.

Ok. So i've been tagged, no not in a Police locator tag kind of way. Tagged in a chain letter kind of way. So here are the rules.

You've been tagged, here are the rules:

1. Put Your iTunes (or other music player [WMP!]) on Shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. You must write down the name of the song no matter how silly it sounds!
4. Put any comments in brackets after the song name.
5. Tag at least 10 friends. Anyone tagged has to do the same, because fun pointlessness spreads like a virus.

1. If someone says, "Is this okay?" You say...
Circle in the sand - Belinda Carlisle (Had no idea i even owned this song)
2. How would you describe yourself?
Just Travelling Through - The Thrills
3. What do you like in a guy/girl?
Juicebox - The Strokes (ewwwww!)
4. How do you feel today?
Had Enough - The Who (100% accurate)
5. What is your life's purpose?
Summer in the City - The Lovin' Spoonful
6. What is your motto?
Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen (Its a good motto to have, but its not mine)
7. What do your friends think of you?
What if I Do? - Foo Fighters
8. What do you think of your parents?
You're not from Brighton - Fatboy Slim
9. What do you think about very often?
Girl Next Door - The Crocketts
10. What is 2 + 2?
Everywhere - Machines
11. What do you think of your best friend?
Harmony - Happy Mondays
12. What do you think of the person you like?
Express Yourself - Charles Wright
13. What is your life story?
Good Morning Sinners - The Farm
14. What do you want to be when you grow up?
No one else - Weezer
15. What do you think of when you see the person you like?
Oh Yeah - Daft Punk
16. What will you dance to at your wedding?
Break 4 Love - Raze
17, What will they play at your funeral?
Checkout Time in Vegas - Drive-By Truckers
18. What is your hobby/interest?
Junior Kickstart - The Go! Team (I wish, I loved that program. YouTube)
19. What is your biggest fear?
Monkey Man - The Specials
20. What is your biggest secret?
Plug in Baby - Muse
21. What do you think of your friends?
Cups - Underworld
22. What will you put as the title?
I Don't want to grow up - The Ramones (A cool title and also very very true)

Thats a weird mangled list of music. I can't remember when I last listened to the majority of these songs.

Apologies and congratulations to the 10 people i've tagged. Enjoy the musical fun.

Getting old

Another year passes bye. Where does time go?

I'm just happy im younger than this man :-

But saying that he does look somewhat younger than me considering all he does is run around in dark rooms, munching pills and listening to repetitive electronic music.

Also Happy Birthday to - yeah_write and zoe256

New Old Review

So I'm continuing my current trend of posting reviews of older games. Again my review of GTI Club Plus: Rally Côte d'Azur was originally featured on www.citizengame.co.uk ,I've brought it here to bring my views to a new audience.

Gamespot Review

What is Citizengame?

Citizen Game is a collaboration between some of the UK's most passionate freelancer game journalists.
We don't get paid for this (naughty word), so donate by spreading the word!

Pending list

What the hell happened to January? It was here one minute gone the next.

I'm not one of those people who will have a huge pile of pending jobs/ tasks/ games to play. Well I thought i wasn't. Time management is one of my strongest virtue, but recently ive just become overwhelmed with games i've purchased and haven't played. Normally I systematically play one game finish it then move onto the next, however at this rate it will be June before i can start playing 2010 games.

Playing

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl (Steam) (STALKER Complete 2009 mod)

Stoked (X360)

Un-played

Torchlight (Steam)
Killing floor (Steam)
Lumines (Steam)
Far Cry2 (X360)
A-Train HX (X360)

Pre-ordered


Heavy Rain (PS3)
God Of War III (PS3)
Aliens Vs Predator (X360)

Lust list of 2009 - Top 5

So its that time of year again. I create a list of the women i've lusted over for the past year. Check out last years chart to see if my tastes have changed.

New entry - Jody Robinson ( 24 ;-) )

I have been a long time admirer Gamespot's own Jody Robinson @JodyR. I've found my attention stolen by many a red head but Jody has stolen my heart. (I see a fight breaking out here between @MarkB0SS and me) Link


Pros

She likes videogames

Cons

She would kick my behind at videogames

New entry - Molly Windman ( 31 )

Rocketboom's Molly has been appearing on my monitor for the best part of 2 years. How she has entertained me with her quick 3 minute throwaway videos. Youtube channel

Pros

Funny, interesting, has a natural beauty.

Cons

Part of that annoying youtube clique.

New entry - Fern Cotton ( 28 )


Fern has been in my life for as long as i can remember. She was the main reason i'd turn into childrens tv even when I was far to old to even be watching. Very much a modern day Michaela Strachan

Pros

By the number of men she has been photographed with she is at least obtainable.

Cons

Shes about as intelligent as a damp flannel and Is used to the Royal treatment.


Down 1 - Suzi Perry ( 40 )

Every young man needs a Mrs. Robinson in his life, im hoping mine is going to be Suzi.

Pros

She loves her gadgets and leather.

Cons

She hangs around with Motogp drivers, who have the looks and money that i don't have.


Up 1 - Millie Clode ( 29 )

The latest in a long line of sexy Sky Sports News presenters, Millie manages to make 15 minute rolling sports news "gripping".

Here is a quick round up of here Tv work

Pros

She has a genuine love of football and sport.

Cons

Turns the heads of many a premier league footballer. She is well out of my league.