Northern Ireland based geekery & nerdisms

Tag Archives: video games

You may have noticed, if you notice such things, that I am not quite as prolific in my blogging as I have been in the past. I apologize, but the thing is, on any given day, I HAVE FOUR HUNDRED THINGS TO DO.

In fact, I am only doing this blog now because I’ve just done an hour and a half of uni work and I need a break before my brain explodes and redecorates my bedroom. With brain gunk.

On the plus side, for those of you that dabble in the reading of blogs, I shall be much, much easier to keep up with. Instead of, like, eight blogs a day about what I’ve just eaten or the episode of the Clone Wars I’ve just watched.

SO. I did, in a past blog, promise you that I would go to the Game Of Thrones Exhibition over the weekend and then tell you about how great it was. I assured you it would be face-melting (or something to that effect), so HOLD ONTO YOUR FACES.

First of all, I would  like to say that getting tickets for this free (that’s my favourite word) event was much, much more difficult that it should have been. I mean, the internet is all powerful, surely ‘click and possess’ is a fairly straightforward concept? Alas, the website was crashing all over the show and the phone lines were busy and I was starting to hyperventilate and stress. I did a mean, awful thing – don’t judge me. I was scared I would end up with no tickets at all, so I sent a nasty email to Titanic telling them to wind their neck in and make things work better.
I am a mean, bad person. I am ashamed.

To make the shame even worse, some lovely bloke from Titanic Customer Services emailed back immediately, with an apology, and then offered to book the tickets for me. Eek. I still feel bad about being a grump.

Good on you though, Titanic, your people are marvellous.

Ticket drama aside, I was so excited about this. The little clip advertising it was immense…and WordPress still won’t let me embed videos. I had forgotten that. Oh well,here’s the link.

I had never actually been inside the Titanic building before (I know, I know, I am a museum geek and a touch patriotic, so I really should go for a proper visit), but it’s pretty flippin’ cool. And busy, which is always nice to see. The guys at the coffee shop thing were dressed like ye olde times paper boys, and the toilets were ultra clean and shiny. What more can you ask from anywhere, really?

Wisely, when booking tickets for the exhibition, you had to choose a time slot – this sounds kind of like hassle and a bit odd, but it meant the displays weren’t too crowded and you didn’t have to queue for too long to get a good look at anything. AND OH, the things there were to look at.

The exhibition was divided up according to family – the Starks, Lannisters, Baratheons, Greyjoys and  Targareans all had their own little areas, as did the Nights Watch (although characters from North of the Wall were stuffed in that display too, which makes sense, I guess). There were videos playing all around the place too, and although they were really just behind the scenes videos from the DVDs, always worth a watch. Some of the main characters did little ‘Welcome to the Game Of Thrones Exhibition’ clips too, which was a nice feature.

I don’t want to trawl through every single item I saw, but highlights included some of the Starks’ costumes (all lined up beside each other, like in the first episode before they all shoot off in opposite directions all over Westeros), Ned Stark’s head on a spike (which I only noticed because I tipped my head back to yawn – it was pretty high up), Ice and Needle (among LOADS of other weapons) and the dragon eggs and scale models of Drogon. All in all, it took around 40 minutes to see everything.

So neat. Some of Emilia Clarke’s costumes were out on display along with said dragons, and man, that chick is TINY. The detail that does into all the costumes in mind blowing – small stitches and teeny details that a camera would never pick up, just proof that this show takes itself seriously! As well it should.

I think that’s more than enough of my talking, here are some blurry, dark, badly taken Iphone photos. You’re so welcome.

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You may notice that there are only two dragon eggs here; one of them hatched! Teehee, I kid, obviously – the third egg was given to George R.R. Martin as a wedding gift! I thought that was a nice gesture.

The exhibit is in Belfast until June 17th, but there are no tickets left now. If you are elsewhere in the world, see where it goes next on their site!

If you’re heading down to the exhibit, or if you have already been, nip over to Facebook and tell me if you liked it!

S.


I already had a rant about the airport and covered the Eiffel Tower in day one – you can go read that here, if you like.

While I had a plan for the weekend in mind before we set off, day two (Saturday) was meant to be a day of wandering and discovering. And oh, it was. I am not a healthy, sporty or fit person, but I think we might have walked about 5 miles. First thing in the morning I hopped out of bed (also something I don’t usually do, at home it’s more of a roll-and-splat motion), and we made a beeline for the Seine. If you are headed to Paris in the future, you really, really have to start your trip with a boat tour. It’s insanely beautiful, very informative and gives you an idea of where everything is in comparison to everything else.

We went with Bateaux Parisian, because it wasn’t raining and we could sit outside and take fifty million pictures.

Like this picture, of a university class, having a class beside the Seine. So jealous I could just hurl stuff at them.

Like this picture, of a university class, having a class beside the Seine. So jealous I could just hurl stuff at them.

After our very lovely boat trip, we WALKED from the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame, via a whole bunch of bridges and museums and gardens and landmarks. Paris really does need to be done on foot, we would’ve missed so much if I had been more me-like and refused to walk. Notre Dame is spectacular, of course, but they’ve built a viewing platform-thingy for the 850th anniversary (yes! 850 years! That is one OLD, OLD building), which was packed, ruined the view from the ground and looked downright cheap and tacky. Especially when you put it beside on of the most recognizable cathedrals in the world.

This was in Notre Dame. I don't know what it was, but CREEPY, yes?

This was in Notre Dame. I don’t know what it was, but CREEPY, yes?

RIGHT. On to the real geekery. First up, after getting into Notre Dame and being silent and respectful, we got a little bit lost. Which would’ve been fun, if my legs weren’t about to drop off and if we weren’t literally going in circles. We did stumble across the world’s fanciest toilet, but I don’t think that’s really a feature of the city…

Eventually we found the Pantheon, one of the big tourist attractions that nobody seems to really go to. Except for the French. Good news is, if you are between 18 and 25 and from the EU, you get in for free! Same goes for the Louvre and the Arc De Triomphe. It pays to be from Northern Ireland. Sometimes.

Rarely.

This one time.

I highly recommend a visit to the Pantheon though, it’s really amazing. They have a wonderful exhibition on how the church building is actually crumbling and falling down, which was both interesting and terrifying. Maybe bring a hard hat? The real sights are underneath the church/mausoleum part (it’s changed purpose so many times, thanks to all those revolutions), where there are crypts where the French government bury citizens of note. Of which there are many! Voltaire, Rousseau, Marie and Pierre Curie, Victor Hugo, Alexander Dumas, Louis Braille…the list goes on and on. Humbling to visit and fascinating to look at (all the info. panels are in French, by the by, so you might want to get a book or an audio guide if you really want to know what’s going on).

Dome! Amazing. I took a video, but I look well rough, so it'll never see the light of day.

Dome! Amazing. I took a video, but I look well rough, so it’ll never see the light of day.

Marie & Pierre Curie, complete with little picture.

Marie & Pierre Curie, complete with little picture.

Hugo & Dumas.

Hugo & Dumas.

Voltaire's tomb.

Voltaire’s tomb.

After we went and visited some famous dead people (ah Paris, the city of love), we got lost a little bit more, but again, in the pursuit of something marvellous. If you have been to France/Paris and you are of a geeky persuasion, you really must’ve gone to Album.

Album is sort of like Forbidden Planet. Except, bigger. And better. With newer stock and older stock and displays that nearly put Disneyland to shame. It’s just…wow. They have an English section as well, so if you aren’t fluent in a foreign language (I got by okay, I’d like to point out), you won’t be completely lost.

PICTURES. ALL THE PICTURES.

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As we were heading back to the tourist-beaten-track, we stumbled across another store I’d been dying to see – Shakespeare & Company. An English bookstore opened in 1951, named after an even older English language bookshop (that closed during the Second World War), the place is pure, incredible chaos. There are books everywhere, each room leading on to another room, people crammed into every little space. Oh god, I really loved it. I want my house to look like that. So many books. Heavenly, it really was. The outside of the shop is just as lovely, with little benches and trees and tables of books. Everyone who works there seems to be American, which struck me as odd (HIRE ME?!), but at least you don’t have to try and ask for a specific book in broken French!

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All in all, a brilliant day of wandering and finding and shopping and romance. And now, I am sitting in Northern Ireland, wishing so badly I could just go back and stay there forever.

Don’t worry though, days three, four and five are on their way!

S.


A little while ago I mentioned that I got Sky TV. I won’t go back into my adoring prose, because I’m pretty sure everyone knows how much I love it by now. I also mentioned that there are a butt load of new shows starting at the moment, and that I would no doubt have a blog on what I do and do not like. So, well, yes, this is it.

I watch an awful lot of TV recently. Recently, if someone so much as sneezes within a two mile radius of my delicate self, I seem to get sick and have to spend a week on the sofa, so it gives me something to do at the very least.

Anyway, first up on awesome-Sky-TV night, I started to get caught up with Spartacus. Having only seen the first season and the prequel season, I’ve got a quite a bit to catch up with, given that the series just ended. I don’t know what put me off ever watching it after the prequel…I think the change in actors (unavoidable as it was) and my awful habit of moving house lots in the last few years (away from the safety of the parental nest and Sky box) had something to do with it, but I really am I very big fan. Sexy, violent, gory and clever, this is a must-watch show. Preferably not with your parents in the room, which is usually the sign of a great program, no?

Spartacus: Vengance is currently showing on Pick TV.

Also, look.

Also, look.

Next up, I took a gamble, and watched a show that I really did not like the look of. Da Vinci’s Demons is (yet another) fantastical historical drama, based around  the history and life of Leonardo Da Vinci. You know, that guy from that Dan Brown book. Anyway, when I say fantastical, I mean of the fantasy genre, I am most definitely not making a reference to the quality of this show.

Made by the same studio as the aforementioned Spartacus series, Da Vinci’s Demons is trying so very hard to replicate the popularity of it’s ancient peer, all the while attempting to cling to the back of the rollercoaster that is Game Of Thrones. It fails it both aspects. The story line is overly complex, the characters are the least engaging they possibly can be (especially ‘Leo’ himself. Playing him as flamboyantly camp yet troubled was a strange way to go, and the actor can’t quit pull it off) and I’m pretty sure there is some harsh racial stereotyping going on in there. There are at least three characters who are summed up completely by their nationality; and please don’t get me started on Da Vinci’s gormless manservant/boy toy. It’s not made entirely clear what that relationship is, but it is not healthy.

TOO groomed.

TOO groomed.

There are some saving graces – this is not a low budget production, so it is well shot and there is some interesting use of CGI in making Da Vinci’s ideas and doodles come to life. I’ve decided that I will watch at least two more episodes, in the hope that, maybe, the first episode was just aiming too high. Even then, I am anticipating that those will be two more hours of my life that I will never get back.

Finally (and this one will be brief, because my need to shower and eat meant that I only caught a little bit of the episode), there is Defiance. I know very little about this program, apparently there’s a game based on it? Or it’s based on a game? Or it is a game? I don’t know. Basically, there’s been some sort of event and now humans and a race of (very humanoid, but very pale) aliens have to live together. Either way, some very recognizable faces, an interesting concept and reasonable production value (if you ignore the crappy CGI, which I cannot), this is actually shaping up to have some potential. I might even be tempted to go back and watch the whole episode.

This is high praise indeed, coming from me.

Anyway, more shows are on their way, so I suppose more blogs are too. Both Banshee and Hannibal (as in, yes, Hannibal) look incredible and are starting in the next few weeks. Keep an eye out, yesyes?

S.


Finally! I have been waiting so very long for this precious announcement, and it was starting to look as though it might not be coming at all…but yes, TitanCon 2013 has been confirmed and announced.

titancon_2013

For those of you that have read by blog faithfully and devotedly (lovely people), you’ll know that it was at TitanCon last year that I decided I should start a blog for the geeks and nerds of Northern Ireland. With this in mind, I sort of consider TitanCon weekend to be RefugeekNI’s birthday. I should get a cake or something, maybe. However, the date has changed. As has the venue. While the last two conventions have been held in the Europa Hotel in Belfast City Centre, this year, proceedings have been moved to the Wellington Park Hotel (up Malone Road direction). At first I was a bit like…’oh’, because I like the Europa (so fancy!), but apparently this venue change means that the organizers can spend more of the limited budget on guests – obviously, this is a good thing.

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For those of you unfamiliar with the event, it’s over three days and is essentially a sci-fi fantasy convention – with a whole lot of Game Of Thrones. A Friday evening event (last year, Belfast Culture Night. This year, a TitanCon specific Literature Night, with readings by the author guests), the convention on a Saturday, and then the coach tour on the Sunday. Friday night is a free event, but the rest of the weekend requires a membership to the event. It’s so worth it, though. I promise.

While guests have yet to be announced, the extra budget should mean even shinier people to adore – I’ll try my very best to keep you updated, as long as you promise you’re not planning on kidnapping anyone.

If you are intent on getting a Game Of Thrones cast member to keep for your very own, well. That might be okay, too. I want an Alfie Allen, after all.

He will be mine. Oh yes, he will be mine.

He will be mine. Oh yes, he will be mine.

You can find ALL THE DETAILS – here, and you can find ME – here.

S.


I have done many things in my life, things of which I am proud. Yet none of these things I could boast about compares to the greatness of that title. What a glorious pun, I clearly have the most advanced and magnificent of minds.

ANYWAY. I am always in rush, recently. My alarm goes off early, I am on the go all day, I get to bed later than I would like. I work, I study, I clean and I blog. Go, go, go. Yet, somehow, I always seem to find at least an hour a day to play a game on my phone. It’s the strangest thing; almost as if the rules of time and space don’t really apply to me when I’m playing Angry Birds or whatever. Magical, even.

Well. I say Angry Birds, but I feel I have finally outgrown it. Even Angry Birds Space and Star Wars Angry Birds are boring me now – there’s only so many times you can fling a bird at a pig, while taking into account rickety obstacles and the laws of gravity. Besides, the pigs would’ve figured out that they should be using cement by now, surely?

Mind you, that is a pretty dim face, considering he's meant to be some sort of ruler.

Mind you, that is a pretty dim face, considering he’s meant to be some sort of ruler.

I have discovered new games – better games. Great games. Okay, great is an exaggeration – they are addictive, if nothing else.

I shall do them in the order I discovered them, saving the best for last, as is tradition. So, first up, is The Simpsons: Tapped Out. The premise is simple – Homer Simpson is playing with his MyPad (teehee) in work at the nuclear plant, gets distracted and somehow causes a melt down that destroys all of Springfield. You, the player, then have to earn money and donuts to unlock and build all of the town’s buildings and characters. Simples.

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It is too addictive. It takes forever to earn enough money to do anything, but somehow, this is not so much a deterrent to play as a motivational tool. The game builds on years of Simpsons trivia and hilarity – catch phrases, famous episodes, beloved minor characters – all are pimped in the hope of keeping you hooked. Unfortunately, they want you hooked for a very obvious reason. In order to get the game to progress any faster, you need to spend (rather a lot) of real world money on in-game bonuses.

Urm, no. If I wanted to pay for a game, I would not be scrolling the ‘Top Free’ chart on the App Store, thank you very much.

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Next up is Sonic Dash. I went through a good month long phase of being hooked on Temple Run (and Temple Run 2), so when I saw that my favourite blue hedgehog had stepped into the arena, I knew I had to give the little guy a chance. And not to be a fangirl, but it’s SO GOOD. Like Temple Run, but more colourful, cuter and with more incentive to play (I must, must earn enough red rings to unlock Knuckles).

It’s also a great deal harder, which is nice, because as a constant phone gamer (which is like a step down from casual gamer, but I step up from VTech children’s games, I reckon) I appreciate a bit more of a challenge. Usually you just feel like your doing something to keep your idle hands busy, you know? Yet this little number is a great time burner, and calls for real concentration. An unfortunate side effect of this is the swearing on public transport and the splitting pain of dry eyeballs.

Oh well.

Gameplay screen shot.

Game play screen shot.

FINALLY. My most recent download, which is unfortunately not going to be on my phone for very long, because it runs about as slowly as I do. That is very, very slowly indeed.

The Injustice: Gods Among Us app is obviously just another advertising tool that DC/Warner Bros./NetherRealm have pulled out of their box of tricks; but oh, it is such a fantastic box. The build up to this game has been so well done that fans are working themselves in a frenzy counting down the hours to the UK release. From the YouTube interviews, to the character reveal clips and the MASSIVE roster, this is surely what advertising should be.

On the other hand, I think I’ve seen everything the game has to offer, and I occasionally feel like I’m drowning in clips of Bane fighting Batman AGAIN.

He's still my boy though, aren't you Batman?

He’s still my boy though, aren’t you Batman? (Screen shot of the opening sequence)

On to the game itself – it’s obviously just a snippet of the glory the full console game will have. Attacks and blocks are done by well timed taps and swipes, and you don’t get a lot of characters to fight as (you start with Sinestro, Nightwing and Lex – I’m not sure if you get more as the game goes on) and there’s no story line at all, just little fights. Still, the graphics are neat, it’s another good little time burner, and Nightwing is sexy.

All these games are available to download now, FOR FREE! I may have to do another blog on apps that are actually helpful and useful, and not just for filling in your commute to and from work, but for now, that’s your lot.

If you have been hooked on an awesome smartphone game, I want to know about it. Go tell me on the FACEBOOK PAGE! Also, like it, because I like you. So very, very much.

S.


I am a huge fan of finding geeky things in places in which you may not expect to find geeky things. Like Tesco or a cat boot sale. I was wandering around Toys ‘R’ Us rather recently, and was pretty darn impressed with some of the toys that are out there for tiny children to gnaw on. They are the geeks of the future after all, and it is our responsibility to leadeth them in the ways of the force/Star Fleet protocol/One Ring.

We should also instill in them an idiot proof zombie apocalypse plan, because if it doesn’t happen in our lifetime, it’s sure as hell going to happen in theirs.

Click for hilarious captions/insights.

I have to admit, out of all the many hundreds of geeky toys for kids, the Lego has always been my favourite; I think it always will be. Video games and light-up-singing-wonder-dolls are fairly amazing, yes, but there is no joy in childhood like building something vaguely resembling a spaceship all by yourself. And then hurling it at walls and siblings until you get a good wreckage to start all over again with.

Many happy childhood memories. Although there is no pain like standing on a Lego brick in your bare feet.

S.


Except for this one, right here. Mine. Blog. Yes. Good.

I am always on a mission to fill my house with geeky and amazing things. This is particularly difficult given that I don’t trust eBay (I don’t know why, it’s best not to ask), it’s a real task to find such magical geeky treasures in Northern Ireland (although I really do try) and I am not made of money.

I am made of water and…whatever else people are made of. Iron? Love? I honestly do not know.

There is a website, however, where all my dreams come true. ThinkGeek.com loves everything I love, and the prices are totally reasonable. They are in dollars because, like all the best things, ThinkGeek is American.

American. See?

American. See?

Anyway, there are literally hundreds of things on this website that I want/need/require to live, but I have chosen a few of the shiniest, most colourful things for you to go buy for me.

Thanks.

You can use all the bottle caps you mine to craft a fort!

You can use all the bottle caps you mine to craft a fort!

I cannot imagine any situation where this would not be useful.

I cannot imagine any situation where this would not be useful.

Superior Mario.

Superior Mario.

I have ALWAYS wanted one of these. Always.

I have ALWAYS wanted one of these. Always.

Marvellous, yes? Yes! And there is so much more. So much. Their selection of Game Of Thrones goodies is magical; you need one of each of these things for your season three premier party, of course.

Speaking of which…no, in fact, the perfect Game Of Thrones themed party needs a blog all to itself.

S.