Category Archives: Games

Game Update: ThuggRPG

Working title is ThuggRPG. I’ve finally got a level of sorts up and running. It doesn’t look like much but I have big plans for this.


Now it’s just a matter of literally everything.

Went for the Alcest, stayed for the Katatonia.

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Learning To Play Poker

So, Poker.

That’s a responsible way to make a living, right?

Actually, yeah, it kinda can be, if you have the resources and time required to make it happen.

Warning you now, you’re going to need some understanding of poker terminology to cope with this post.

There’s a few things that you can do to improve your chances of winning, and every little bit you improve those chances means you’ll come out further ahead. Some of these things will also help you attain your goals in life, if you’re that way inclined.

Things like:

Claiming What’s Yours

If you land a good hand in Hold’em after the “Flop” (three cards dealt face-up for the whole table to make a hand with), so many novice players think they can just call or check to a gentle win. Nope.

Things like top pair, two pair, even trips — they’re more vulnerable than you might think.

Against an aggressive player, you’ll have to defend your hand, leading to a very difficult decision. Either you fold, in which case you’ve lost everything so far invested, giving the aggressive player an advantage, or you call, hoping that they’re bluffing.

Even if they are bluffing, chances are that they’re “bluffing with outs”, or in other words that they have a good chance of drawing the cards they need to beat you. Typical things to watch out for are flushes, open-ended straights and double-gutshot straights on the board. With a low high pair they might go for overcards.

So what’s wrong? You’re both playing the same cards, on the same table, making essentially the same decision (go all-in/don’t go all-in is what it typically boils down to against a seriously aggressive player). How is it that the defensive player is going to do worse?

Well, every time you fold a hand that had the aggressive player beaten — including middle pairs! — you’ve given him a 100% chance at the pot. Every time you call a bluff, you’ve given him (typically) between a 20-45% chance at the pot, and yourself only somewhere between 55-80%.

Royal Flush, Diamonds

You will very rarely see this happen for you. Only a very few times even in a professional career. Images of Money.

By playing reactively you can psych yourself out of hands that you had locked down, but you don’t make that money back by playing the good hands well. Even if you do get him all-in on a bluff somehow, he’ll typically have a chance at the chips, which is more than you do when you fold.

Worse — since aggressive players don’t need to wait for a hand to play, they start accumulating chips sooner. So they have an advantage from the off. In tournaments, they can quickly get to the point where they will survive an all-in and get another chance — if they lose in the first place! They’re just mounting chances on top of chances.

The perception that famous players like Doyle Brunson were just lucky is partly true. Players like him made their luck by sitting on enough chips that eventually, someone was going to just knock themselves out running into them. Doesn’t matter what hand you have, going heads-up repeatedly will throw up an outlier eventually.

The lesson? Play aggressively. Claim what you deserve, even if you only deserve it a little bit. Apply complete dedication to all your natural resources, and all-in early and often on your strongest hands.

Know When To Leave Well Enough Alone

Poke the bear.

Poke it poke it poke it poke it poke it poke it. rjones0856.

If something looks really scary, most of the time it is. Cut, run.

Find Out What You Can Learn From A Failure

If something looks scary in poker, it will almost always be because you didn’t take control of the game when you had the chance — taking you back to point one. Sometimes you’ve come up against pocket pairs, but that’s another story — perhaps comparable to coming up against a Charterhouse educated PPE student.

When something scary comes along, let go. Look back and see what you did wrong, because there will be something, possibly not even in this hand.

Was your pre-flop bet too small to convince people of the hand you had?

Were you making someone chase a flush for an amount too low to not call?

Was your ‘image’, the rough impression of your playing style, as firmly established in the minds of other players as you thought?

Play To Your Established Image

Many a time I’ve thought I’ve been perceived as an unstoppable juggernaut, whereas in reality people saw me as a depraved and inexplicably fortunate loon. They’d call and re-raise my bluffs in a heartbeat, and that’s when you know to leave well enough alone.

Finding out what your image is, as perceived by other people, is an important wake-up call. Once you’ve established an image in either poker or life, you’re stuck with it for a long time. You’re unlikely to get the opportunity to shake it in time to do anything meaningful, either.

You can’t fight your image once it’s built. You either have to always be 100% in charge of your image (impossible, people often see what they want to), or you have to be sensitive to your image and play to it and its strengths.

If someone is playing aggressively and refusing to believe your bets a lot, for instance, they might not even have an image of you. You’re just “generic poker player #334”, an incidental figure on their road to riches. Play to this. Make unassuming bets that slowly tap out all his resources by consistently making him pay.

Punish people for making general assumptions about your play-style, and switch it up every time play gets too comfortable.

Fill The Niches

If you’re sitting on a table with five other aggressive players, a cautious person can make a LOT of money.

Conversely, if you’re facing five ‘rocks’, or ultra-defensive poker participators who barely count as players, you can eat enough blinds that by the time you come up against the bullets, you can comfortably fold.

There Is Always Luck Involved

Whatever you’ve achieved, somewhere along the line you got a lucky break.

That’s about all I’ve learned from Poker recently.

Oh, and when you win, don’t be an arsehole. You will lose again, probably to the same dude.

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Triple-A Games

I’ve never really been blown away by triple-A games, and I think I’ve just worked out why, thanks to Diablo III, which should in theory have me stupidly over-excited. It looks great, as far as I can tell the combat system looks fun and balanced, the graphics exceeded my expectations for the series. Also, an epic and apocalyptic storyline, huge fuck-off bosses to fight, and a fairly detailed library of mystic lore to wade through.

Furthermore, I tend to be pretty accepting of annoying control quirks, bizarre difficulty levels or learning curves, and generic heroes. As a gamer I’m pretty easy to please.

What actually irritates me, in a typically contrarian fashion, is when gameplay flows too well, when it integrates too perfectly with the environment of the game, and when it’s too intuitive.

Part of the appeal of gaming, for me, has always been mastering an unfamiliar system. Clunky old controls that clearly delineate actions and results (you can only go north, south, east or west; if you go north, you will be eaten by something altogether gruesome), those represent something unfamiliar, something more rigid than daily life, something to be understood and beaten.

This is part of why Dwarf Fortress really grabbed me a while back, and wouldn’t let me go until it had broken my laptop. Contrary to the trend for immersive gameplay to be considered synonymous with good gameplay, I enjoy games that are sort of clumsy. Why? Because they are different to real life. They’re a fun system to be mastered, and you can get a sense of achievement from completing goals within them.

I suspect this lies behind a lot of the prejudices a certain type of gamer has about triple-A titles versus indie or retro games, as well.

So, that’s why I’m not really that excited about Diablo III. As far as I’m concerned, it just looks a little too good to be worth my time. See a trailer embedded below, if you must.

You’re right, this post makes very little sense. I really don’t care.

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5 Of The Best Game Soundtracks

Computer game soundtracks have some of the most underappreciated composers and artists working in music today. Sure, extremely well-paid and happy composers and artists, but wouldn’t you rather have that precious hipster credibility than silly things like money and job satisfaction?


Oh. Well then, you probably don’t have that much sympathy for them. Still, discovering or remembering countless wonderful game soundtracks, and finding out that they hardly get any respect out there in the real world (even the ones that gamers really love), can get a little weird over time.

These five computer game soundtracks, my own personal favourites, haven’t been chosen on nostalgia value — so, no Zelda or Mario, great though their music was. Nor have they been chosen according to whether they stand well on their own. Gaming soundtracks are completely tied in to the experience of playing the game, in a way that even film soundtracks are not.

Oh, and if you think of a soundtrack that really should have made the list, feel free to leave a comment. Naturally.

5. Final Fantasy X – PS2

The quality of the music in the Final Fantasy series is legendary. Even Final Fantasy I and II had iconic tunes, especially the battle music. Final Fantasy X is special, though.

Final Fantasy X is special because it had the balls to go from lovely tinkly piano ballads, soppy love songs, and garbled plainsong-like shenanigans to, well, this:

It’s pretty standard these days to have a mid-paced, vaguely heavy rock song in the middle of a game. Almost any meat-headed shooter will have something that sounds kinda similar to this. At the time FFX was released, though, I’d never heard anything remotely like the song Otherworld, and it seemed genuinely revolutionary. Another thing I’d never heard before at the time was harsh vocals, and I have still not once heard spoken word pulled off as successfully as it is here — I mean, come on. Go, into the sand and dust in the sky…

Besides, it really does rock so damn much.

4. Neverhood – PC

Neverhood’s soundtrack is awesome. It’s gently amusing, witty and fun at the same time as sounding like really earthy, bluesy rock music. It’s like somebody, some mad genius, was able to hear exactly what rock and soul music sounds like to kids, and managed to triple-distill that sound to total perfection. Triple-distilled is pretty appropriate here, too, as everything sounds like it’s being played by a drunk and depressed one-man band, just one sip of Wild Turkey away from the gutter. Dum Da Dum Doi Doi is one of the most joyful celebrations of stupidity I have ever heard, but my favourite song from the soundtrack is Skat Radio, which not only keeps Terry S. Taylor’s bizarre drunken rambling style, but adds skat to the mix, too.

That’s right, he took skat and made it sound epic.

3. Ecco The Dolphin – Sega Mega Drive/Genesis

Ecco The Dolphin was a computer game for the Sega Mega Drive (Genesis in some other parts of the world), in which you helped a dolphin defeat time-travelling aliens as you swam about a vast and deadly ocean full of jellyfish, sharks, lone air pockets, delicious fish and the very best music you could get out of the technology of the day.

I said no nostalgia was involved, and no nostalgia is involved here. If it had been, not only would this have been the number one entry on the list, but I would be curled around my old Mega Drive controllers right this second, sobbing with joy and making little “SQUARK!” noises to myself. This is just great music. Ominous, deep, and vast, it captured the feel of the game perfectly.

I don’t think the series ever quite lived up to that first game again, but why should it? That first game’s strength was how strange it was, how completely a one-off it was. Every part of it was carefully crafted, and the music was no exception. Here is the rest of the soundtrack, thank youtube user explod2A03 for uploading it.

Thaaaaank hiiiiiiiim!

2. Super Meat Boy – XBox 360, PC

Oh wow. I have never really felt comfortable saying this word, so imagine myself screwing up my face, raising a scornful eyebrow and squirming uncomfortably in my seat as I say it, for it is the only word that can adequately describe Super Meat Boy’s soundtrack.

Are you ready?

I’m going to say it now.


Ugh, I feel dirty.

There’s no particular stand-out track from Super Meat Boy, but it all just sounds so good. The temptation with such a difficult game is to go into ultra fast techno extravaganza land, which is admittedly a fun place to stay, but Super Meat Boy’s music took the more challenging route, and the result is a soundtrack which is genuinely enjoyable to listen to, with a subtle sense of urgency and a great bassline.

Forest Funk, The Battle Of Little SluggerBetus Blues,  C.H.A.D.’s Broken Wind, Can o’ Salt

If you want more, you can go from there…

1. Bastion – XBox 360, PC

Bastion’s soundtrack has been pretty much everywhere in the gaming media recently, and with good cause. It sounds like no other gaming soundtrack before or since, with a hauntingly melancholic melodic strain running through the songs, and a sense of cohesion, continuity and coherence that I have never seen before in a game OST.

Let me do you a favour: play that song, and at the same time, load up You’ll thank me later.

If you disagree with any of my personal choices, I don’t really care, but you can talk about it if you want. I guess. If you liked any of the soundtracks please support the developer and musicians by buying the official soundtrack!

Can’t believe I left off Rabbids Go Home! Joy in a – BWAAAH!

Oh yeah, and I completed National Novel Writing Month on Wednesday. Overjoyed!

Funny post due next week (maybe).

Haha, turns out it was my least funny post yet. Looks like the YOLK was on you! No I don’t know stop looking at me.

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