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I may as well call this one a write off. I don't post here, don't think to post here and more recently I don't even remember to check here anymore.

These days I tend to be very active on twitter, it's a very good way to keep in contact with me: http://twitter.com/#!/FrayJoker

You can also catch me on Facebook. Chances are if you know me you can find me, or ping me an email.

And of course I have GTalk, AIM, MSN tied to my email account: fray.joker@gmail.com

I might go back later on and block some of the more sensitive posts on here, but otherwise things are pretty wonderful in my life. I'm with someone I care about very much, I have some direction in my life, studying to become a librarian no less! It's been a slow process these last years, a lot of what I wrote here came from a time where I was still picking up the pieces, struggling with my identity. So it seems fitting to leave this place looking forward to the best of what's to come.

All the best to whoever's still here to read this, and I guess this is me signing off for the last time.

Cody :)

Hell yeah! We're making beef and guinness stew tonight.

This is the good stuff yeah? You don't need an ingredient list, we're making this shit up as we go along.

First you need to get your grubby mits on some chuck steak. Let's call it a kilo, nice round number that. This stew is more flexible then a Russian gymnast, if you want to get in on a threesome you can invite her friend over and double the amount. If you think you need to see other people for a bit, that's cool, just halve everything. The stew won't judge you.

So if you have a big ol knife, take that and make like a slasher flick on all that chuck. We're going for bite sized pieces, 2-3cm cubes, that steak knows what it did last summer. Because that steak isn't a man yet either, before you go dumping it in a pot let it powder it's nose with about half a cup of flour. It should brown up nicely in about 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil, if it doesn't, give it your hardest disapproving glare and cook it up some more.

Course it ain't no stew I'm putting my lips around until we get some veg in there. It isn't fussy, dead cows have no allergies so use what you like! Make sure you get plenty of onion in there, maybe some carrot, maybe some celery. Mushrooms if you love em or whatever else if you don't. Let's say you want about 2 large onions up in that pot and about 500g of whatever the hell extra you want. That should make a happy stew. Remove the meat and make that onion invisible, toss in whatever other vegetables you brutalised so that it gets spooked by onion ghosts.

If your kitchen doesn't smell awesome, you're doing it wrong.

Now this stew is reaching the point where it's going to be a ferocious drunk. Toss that meat back in and give it a 375mL bottle of Guinness Extra Stout. No it isn't going to share with you, if you're going to have a cry about that you should have got another bottle. Make sure it is the stout because the draught is a bitch that we don't talk to since that incident in Berlin. Man it makes me angry just thinking about it.

So angry I don't think we're done drowning this stew. Add a cup of beef stock, from cubes is fine otherwise use whatever you got. Laugh evilly as it's pitiful wails are drowned in that beer and cow juice. Feebly attempt to hide the body under a teaspoon of brown sugar, teaspoon of dried thyme, pinch of nutmeg and a couple of dried bay leaves. When that doesn't work, boil the hell out of it.

Oh wait it's in a pot. No cop's going to look in it if you tell them you got a stew going on. Put a lid on that sucker, reduce to simmer and cook for two hours stirring occasionally. Season as appropriate with salt and pepper.

And that's how you stew up and get down. Serve with champ and brown soda bread. Not covered by this document.
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30 Day Video Game Meme Day 11 - Weapon of choice.

Alright, today I'm talking consoles. My favourite one to be precise. Well actually it says "Gaming system of choice" which is in all fairness yet another ambiguous question. I am definitely a console gamer by choice, though some genres definitely excel on PC, consoles tend to be simpler and no-nonsense.

So if we're talking about what I play on the most at the moment, my gaming system of choice is easily the Xbox 360. My first 360 was called "Mal", a 60gb "Pro" system I bought to play Fallout 3 initially. I now have "Batman" a 250gb "Slim" model with Kinect, which I upgraded to so I could fully experience Child of Eden. It's a sensational system and honestly I have to give props to Microsoft for devising such a solid piece of hardware. I love how much of a complete package it is, from it's additional capabilities as a media centre to it's fantastically comfortable controllers, it really is attention to the smaller details that makes this console shine. The fact you can, for instance, substitute your own music into the soundtracks of any game is one of those small things that really can help breathe life into the games I play to death. And honestly I think the highest concentration of my favourite games are on the 360.

As far as portable systems go, my go-to has got to be the DS Lite. The touch-screen is a fantastic mechanism that goes a long way to introduce complex and new mechanics into what is probably the most fresh, original, and broad game libraries to grace a handheld. It's sleek enough to stow easily in a bag, tough as a brick and has a battery life that really should make a lot of similar gadgets cry themselves to sleep. I also liked the functionality of closing the device to put it to sleep. No matter the game, it could be interrupted and the battery of the device conserved, which is just so practical for a pick up and play device I'm shocked it was the first to do this. Alyssa eventually died out of warranty, and in the interim until I probably get a 3DS, I'm currently using viperfox 's spare. I do fear that due to some issues with the 3DS that it really isn't going to be a replacement, which is a real shame.

Other consoles I feel I should mention. Well the Gamecube ("Juicy") was a beast of my favourite era of gaming, wrapped up in a tidy little package with a controller that was second to none. Honorable mention also goes to the Nintendo 64 (unnamed *gasps*), which I harbor the most nostalgia towards, particularly for it's amazing local multiplayer support. However, my all time favourite bit of kit is probably the Game Boy Advance SP. "Max", my Silver SP, blew my mind with it's 8 hour battery and backlit colour screen. And best of all, it was wrapped up in a tiny and comfortable clamshell package that protected the screen. There was something just so raw and pure about the games as well. I'm not sure how to describe it. At their best, GBA games looked crisp and colourful and placed emphasis on strong core gameplay. There was just this beautiful purity about four buttons and a d-pad, it was uncomplicated and felt so core to the entire experience of being a gamer. It was the first console I saved up and bought with my own money as well, which was a big deal for me at the time. And when I got it, I would always have it on me ready to whip out on a bus, in the car, in a waiting room or in bed under the covers for that little escape into gaming bliss. Whether it was one more game of Puyo Pop or Pokemon Puzzle League, one more level of Klonoa or The Lost Vikings, or just a bit more of Golden Sun, Fire Emblem, Pokemon, Zelda.

Man I loved that thing. I think I might go plug Max in to charge tonight and spend some quality time with her tomorrow.
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(no subject)

Okay I did say I would get back into this. But I have no idea how to answer the next question. Day 10 asks me what game I think has the best gameplay. I think that's a bit of an abstract concept, how do you take the defining characteristic of games amongst other artforms and declare one superior to another? Is the ideal gameplay one of intuitiveness? Input? Complexity? Interactivity? Detail? Fun? Variation?

I don't think I have the right answer here, but I do a gut feeling as to what I want to choose. I'll do my best to defend it's gameplay, but to be clear I don't necessarily think it has the "best". The key defining characteristics I'm using are as follows.
  • Mastery: While I think there is a hell of a lot of merit in games that are inherently simple to play, I personally rarely find such games rewarding. I think gameplay shines when it follows the logic of the input system, that an experienced gamer should be able to discern the basic controls by quick deduction. But on the flipside of that, simplified input should extrapolate to complexity on screen. The player should make the most progress in game via mastery of the controls.
  • Immersion: Gameplay obviously exists as the barrier between player and game, the most effective gameplay therefore should draw the player in. The less you think about playing a game, the better the game is. More importantly, and in a way this ties to mastery as well, to be immersed in a game the player needs to be in control and not the game. When you have to consciously change the timing or positioning of, say a jump mechanic, to take into account a control delay or poor collision detection the game has failed to be immersive.
  • Fun: To me the best games have a combination of originality, complexity and variation. I enjoy games best when they have a variety of gameplay styles that merge together to more effectively depict a story. There are very few tasks in the real world that don't combine a number of skills, and games have reached a point in sophistication that genre lines should be blurred. Variation should not be arbitrary however, disjointed mini games ruin immersion. More exemplary would be something like the Mass Effect series, combining RPG elements with core shooter gameplay, broken up by vehicle based exploration and even light puzzle mechanics.
So the first title I want to bring up is one of the first games I really fell in love with, No One Lives Forever.

Coming out in November 2000, this is easily one of my most favourite games. Most people who know my taste in games have heard me waffle on about this, but it really was ahead of it's time. In terms of mastery I think this is one of the tightest and best-playing first person shooters out there. The engine is fast, and solid, with everything feeling like it should be in terms of running and jumping and gunplay. It plays as straightforward as any first person with use of the WASD layout that any gamer who has played a FPS with keyboard and mouse should be familiar with. And like any FPS, the player is limited by their own reaction time and accuracy, improving these skills is the key to success and the multiplayer in this game was one of the first online games I honed my skill on. The fact this game is so solid greatly helps with immersion, I've always liked the way the first person perspective draws the player in as well. In terms of graphics, I think this game looked great then and still looks great now. Environmental variation and clever use of colour really gave the game texture and made it stand out amongst more traditional FPS fare.

But the best thing about this game was the sheer amount of content and variation. The campaign was huge, taking the player through dozens of missions in all kinds of locations, from hotels in Morocco, to night clubs in Berlin. There were also construction yards, snowy plains, tropical islands, sky diving, scuba diving... even a series of missions on a moon base. While much of it was a straight forward shooter, it tended to reward the player for playing stealthily. Often you could sneak up on guards to catch funny glimpses into their every day lives. There were other ways the game broke up the action, with fist fights, boss fights, puzzles, stealth and exploration. All of the guns were satisfying to use, and the vast quantity of gadgets in your arsenal really made the game that much more special. I remember a belt buckle grappling hook, sleep and acid gas perfumes, lipstick explosives, a robotic poodle that put guard dogs to sleep and a briefcase that held a concealed rocket launcher. Unlocking these allowed previous levels to be revisited and more thoroughly explored, turning up more intelligence items that contributed to the humour and atmosphere of the game.

Just to put into perspective, some of the games I could have just as easily chosen include Tetris, Super Mario Brothers, Batman Arkham Asylum, Vanquish, Perfect Dark, Portal 2, No More Heroes, In The Groove 2 (or DDR games in general), Meteos, Rez, Mass Effect 2, Child of Eden and Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. Probably a tonne more. By this measure they all have gameplay that is to my mind perfect, yet NOLF represents a game I remember having the most fun playing. Really tough call. Fortunately the next question is going to be a whole lot easier.
River is Mad

30 Day Video Game Meme Day 9 - Sob story.

Time to catch these up good and proper. First up the question of "What is your saddest game moment."

I can think of only one time when a game has good and properly made me cry, and now reflecting on it I think it's kind of... well corny. Sadness, like romance, seems to be one of those things that just isn't handled well by games. To explain this one without anyone laughing at me I think I just need to set a picture here.

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Wirkin Hard

30 Day Video Game Meme Day 7 - The ambiguously gay evil in the residence

DAY... *checks* 7. DAY 7. MY FAVOURITE GAMING COUPLE or something.

Look, this is hard. Games haven't quite reached the point of maturity where relationships are... convincing. I don't know if it's a factor of poor storytelling or poor expression, but it's very difficult to think of any game characters as some sort of couple. Not saying there hasn't been any good ones. But it's not like they're as well developed or as memorable as in other media.

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So today's question on this 30 day video game meme asks me who I think the most annoying video game character is. Naturally I thought to the Zelda series, where there is certainly a quirky set of characters. Some of them quite memorable. Some of them very memorable for redefining aggravation. You may think I'm talking about little miss HEY LISTEN herself, but I would rather play a game where Link is flat-out sodomised by Navi for 10 hours than see this guy appear in another Zelda game.

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