A Steaming Pile

In a recent post, Valve announced their grand plan to convert the bleeding, wounded, scabrous beast that is Steam, into a feculent puddle of decaying filth.

The post begins, ‘Recently there’s been a bunch of community discussion around what kind of games we’re allowing onto the Steam Store. As is often the case, the discussion caused us to spend some time examining what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and how we could be doing it better’. From the looks of things, the discussion took place between a parent who’s given up on parenting and would rather just be hoovering coke and an exhausted teenager.

Parent Valve: Tidy your room, there’s all this active shooter stuff everywhere and even the rats are starting to complain about the quality of trash in here. Good gravy, gay world?! This is despicable, clean it up.

Teen Valve: I don’t wanna. Cleaning up is haaaaaaaaarrrrrd.

PV: Fine, well when you drown in trash and raw sewage, don’t come crying to me.

PV: [heads off to their den to shovel charlie up their slowly collapsing nose]

‘Decision making in this space is particularly challenging’ so why decide, just shrug and watch the fees roll in from any rando with a first edition copy of Klik & Play, willing to put in the bare minimum effort, in the hopes of getting on the service.

Those games perhaps shouldn’t be being sold. Maybe they should be the demos you put together on the road to becoming a better creator, because Steam shouldn’t be your Google Docs, full of early drafts that could do with polish. Steam could, and indeed has been, a great marketplace for vetted games.

In the last few years, I’ve had to accept that bad, unfinished, asset flippy crap will be on there. That I can cope with and will willingly block/ignore them, using the new Steam functions. It’s the hate I can’t be dealing with. It’s the hate that will make me want to demand refunds on all 703 of the games I own on the service. They can undulate out of the Unity asset store, looking like a 1998 Net Yaroze release, leaking slime and pus, shimmy up my new release list, and vomit in my face all they want, because making a bad game is far more noble than putting effort, style and polish into pixelated hate speech.

‘[W]e’ve decided that the right approach is to allow everything onto the Steam Store, except for things that we decide are illegal, or straight up trolling’. And there it is. Steam saw its house on fire, made a coffee, pulled up a chair, said ‘This is fine’, and just sat there, watching its world burn.

‘[T]he games we allow onto the Store will not be a reflection of Valve’s values’. Oh, come now, that’s not true. They represent money. Money has value, and that value will roll into their coffers. Money they can use for truck-loads more ethically dubious, uncut, relevance powder.

‘We are going to enable you to override our recommendation algorithms and hide games containing the topics you’re not interested in’. Isn’t that a simple solution? Isn’t that the best way? Don’t fancy that game about killing the gays or the essjaydubyas or the school kids? Just flick that off. You won’t have to see it. You can hide in your little bubble (ya snowflake). Let these settings help you make a safe space.

Sure, why bother setting an example. Who cares about having any kind of morals or principles. Those things are for whiney babbies who can’t handle real life, where there are no safe spaces.

Jane, all this sounds like loony lefty cerrrrserrrsrrrrrrrp. That’s because it is. As a member of the trans community, who have been attacked repeatedly and with more bile, by bigots of every flavour, and with increasing frequency in the last few years, it’s become clear that sometimes you just have to say no to hateful bullshit. No platform for you you far-right arsehead. No hosting your talk, you hateful exclusionist, wearing the mask of radical feminism. No show for you, you racist fuck. And so on. And so on.

But that makes you just as much a fascist as them! Short answer, you’re wrong. Long answer, so what. If censorship of this kind means that hatred of people of colour, disabled, neuro-diverse, queer, bi, pan, lesbian, gay, trans, non-binary, aces, aeros, demis, etc aren’t exposed to hate in gaming, art, or in their day-to-day lives, because some rando took their principles from wrong-headed games or hate groups, or miscellaneous bigots, then I’m glad. It really doesn’t hurt to put more love and support into the world, but what we’ve seen each time Valve takes a step back on Steam is blatant homophobia, racism, and edgy dickhead simulators (I’m looking at you Active Shooter and Gay World).

If Valve ran a supermarket, you could take a shit, put it in a sandwich bag and sell it in their store. Don’t like seeing bags of Bristol type 6 human waste on the shelves? You can put these blinkers on. All our cereal has glass in it. Don’t worry kids, it turns the milk bloody when you bite into it. How about some of that early access bacon? The dev paid their money and they assure us that it’s still coming out. The trotters you tried out a few months back showed a lot of potential. Meanwhile, in a forgotten shed somewhere in Dorset, racist, homophobic flies are the only devs left on the stinking, green paste that was Baconator Reckoning Revengence. They’ve added new maggots, a rape scene and streamlined the overall pig, but it’s still a rotting corpse.

In any other market place, the buyers check the quality of the product, see if it’s something they actually want to sell, that doesn’t make their business look like it supports hate groups, and make arrangements to bring it to market. What Valve are proposing at the moment is not a shop, it’s a cesspit. Anyone can dump a load in there, and if people want to dive in to and have a swim around in, they’re welcome. Grab a net, hope for something shiny and enjoyable, try not to drown in the burning piss and diarrhoea milkshake.

If anything, this news has made me more grateful for GOG Connect. I’ve been slowly reclaiming games I own on Steam over at GOG since the service launched. I’m very grateful I won’t have to pay for some of those games again and it makes me much more inclined to make future purchases there than fishing them out of the steaming poo puddle.

itch.io creator, Leaf shared the following on twitter:

See, it’s possible to take a stance against hate and intolerance and still be a successful platform. I hope that all this Steam chaos will make consumers sit up and question whether it’s a storefront that they feel comfortable aligning themselves with, or supporting.

It’s Valve’s business, they can do what they want, they’re free to speak, but if that’s the kind of place it wants to be, I’m not going to spend my money there anymore and I’m not going to listen to them.

E3 2018 Hype Train

Choo choo. All aboard the hype train.

It’s nearly time for E3. So let’s have a look at all the awesome things that we can get overly excited about, and start getting our pre-orders in for this stuff.

Ringo Starr [narrating]: “Oh no, there’s been a terrible accident. The hype train’s derailed and smashed into the Sodor nuclear power plant.”

Janeiac: That doesn’t seem good Ringo. Should we call someone?

RS: It’s too late Janey. Look there.

Kevan Brighting [narrating]: Ringo was right. As Janeiac looked, she saw Sir Topam Hatt’s face start to blister and melt off as he screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed. And then his eyes melted too.

KB: It was absolutely horrific. Probably most horrifying thing she’d ever seen, and she’d once walked in on her mother having sex with a hairy pot dealer when she was 12. Sometimes she still had a memory of that monumentally hairy set of bouncing buttocks. It was not a visual memory, but was still scarred into her mind.

KB: Janeiac wondered if this was perhaps more tasteless advertising from the people that brought you the dismembered corpse that came with Dead Island. She felt deep in the very core of her being that somehow, all of this must have something to do with the E3 article that she’d planned to write.

Richard Ridings [narrating]: It is pay day!

J: What are you doing here?

RR: There are unspeakable horrors unfurling. It seemed appropriate. Also, I had to get out of that dungeon, the yoghurt was starting to go off and it smelled worse than a bile demon’s foreskin after a week of humping a handful of its own faeces.

RS: I think we’re losing track of this whole E3 thing.

Morgan Freeman [narrating]: They were, in fact, losing track of the whole E3 thing. People were supposed to be getting excited about the latest electrical wizardry, but sadly, everyone was too distracted by the fact that, Thomas was on fire, nuclear waste was turning biological matter to cancerous soup, and Richard Ridings had forced me to think about a bile demon’s foreskin.

RS: At that moment, Spencer pulled up and expressed his disappointment in the assembled narrators.

RR: A tory has entered your dungeon!

Spencer: I’m very disappointed in all of you assembled narrators.

J: Oh, do fornicate off, you David Cameron looking twunt.

RS: Spencer had to admit that he did rather look like David Cameron. Right up until the meteor fell from the sky and turned him into sheet metal.

All: [4.27 minutes of riotous laughing]

MF: Such laughter in the face of a world falling to pieces was a much needed tonic. Everything had gotten rather dark of late in the world and laughter was really all anyone had left in the face of utter unpleasantness.

Edward Norton [narrating]: I never felt so alive as when the earth began to spew boiling lava that pushed up the train tracks, causing Gordon and Percy to go flying at high speed into the air. The whole world was tearing itself apart and I couldn’t help but notice Reggie Fils-Aimé, sitting on his horde of ill-gotten Amiibo and wrapping gaffer tape around his head like a discount balaclava, while laugh-crying and bleeding from a small graze on his knee, which he got while running too fast with an untied shoe lace.

J: Wait a minute!

RS: Said Janeiac.

J: Shush you.

KB: Ringo had been suitably chastised by Jane…

J: and you

RR: [laughs evilly]

J: [glares at the assembled narrators]

Narrators: [uncomfortable silence and awkward shuffling]

Does anyone have any information about E3?

Andrea Libman [Pinkie Pie voice]: I don’t!

J: Oh, hey Pinkie.

AL: Actually, I’m Andrea Libman.

J: Sorry, it was because you did the voice.

AL: I suppose that’s fair. I do do other voices though, you know.

J: I did know that. You’re a very talented voice actor.

AL: Thanks.

KB: Somewhere in the distance, Annie and Clarabel exploded into a billion splinters, which flew through the air and fell around the duck pond like a rain of needles.

J: So, let’s get this straight. None of us have any information about E3, or any idea about what’s coming.

[silence… apart from the sound of all the fires and screaming and exploding and general awfulness]

J: Right, well, thank you everyone. This has been fascinating but I’m heading home.

AL: Wait, I have a thing!

J: You do?

AL: Pretty sure we’re going to see more of that Yoshi game from Nintendo.

J: That’s a fair guess.

RB: Jane felt an amazing sense of relief at hearing at least one thought on what might be appearing at E3. This was because she kind of liked the idea of writing about games but didn’t really have time to do proper research. Or rather she did, but she seemed to prefer oddly written improvisational pieces to actual journalism.

J: Hey, I’m not against journalism. I just prefer to get hands on before I write about games and stuff.

[distorted voice of Jigsaw]: Hello narrators. I want to play a game.

J: Not right now Jigsaw.

[Billy the puppet dejectedly rides his tricycle away, a single tear running down his cheek]

[Fade to black.]

[closing title card, overlaid with some visual scratches and picture jumping, to imply old timey black and white film]: fine

[Fade out]

[Fade in]

[Title card is on fire]: …this is fine.

So there you have it folks, all the good good E3 news you could want ahead of next week’s big event.

Hyrule Genocide Simulator

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Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition has just been released on Nintendo Switch. This is actually the third version of the Nintendo-property-skinned genocide simulator from developer Koei Tecmo, having previously been released on WiiU and 3DS. I’m told this one suffers with less frame rate issues than the previous incarnations, but having never played them, I couldn’t say for sure.

You take control of various familiar faces from the Legend of Zelda franchise history + KT’s self-insert character, that I’m fairly certain is contractually required in all such games. The game opens with Hyrule castle being attacked by enemy forces and Link – here appearing initially as a fairly standard guard, training at the castle – find’s themself on a chaotic battlefield full of demonic looking little bastards that need a strongly worded… sword to the face. Hack cleave and grind your way around the map, following blips on your minimap and character conversations in a tiny box on the bottom left of the screen.

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Ok, here goes, I’m going to wade in with everything I hate about this game *hits the badge shop and throws all the resources into defence badges*. I get easily overwhelmed. It’s a thing. If there’s too much going on around me in the street, I sometimes need to just go hide in a toilet stall and gather myself. So the idea that I would have to track hundreds of onscreen enemies, a minimap that could do with being about 10-20% larger to be clear enough, and unvoiced character conversations in a tiny corner of the screen. That’s too much, man!

*waits for the bottles of piss to stop being thrown*

Right, so here’s the thing. I love this game. I’ve been playing it every spare minute and I nearly blew off going out for my friend’s birthday this weekend because it would have allowed me another 8 hours of solid play. In spite of all I listed above, this game is brilliant fun and very addictive. The first thing I had to learn – as this is my first time really digging into a Warriors game – is that a lot of the shit on screen really doesn’t matter. You just push your way through the general minions to whoever the quest marker deems important, like a white, middle-class woman with a bob desperate to take her ire out on the store manager. Then, if the quest marker isn’t satisfied with their answer, you go find someone more senior to shout at until victory happens (look out summer 2019 for Soccer Mom Warriors).

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As you progress through the game you’ll gain experience from those that fall at your blade (or crossbows, or book… somehow). As you level up, your characters become stronger. Just stronger, no other stats matter. Just how ready you are for more slaughter.

Randomly brutalising any enemy with a health bar can gain you extra weapons or materials. Weapons add a little more strength to your attacks and often come with various elemental or bonus perks. These perks include the ability to find better weapons (with higher damage or more perk slots), power up certain combos, have advantages against certain enemies, or the ability to find better materials. Perks can be swapped into empty slots in the smithy between battles, for a price.

The final way to power up your characters is with badges. These are crafted between levels and allow yet more perks. These come in three delicious flavours: attack, defence, and assist. The attack badges unlock more combos, more damage against defending foes, give additional special attack uses, etc. Defence badges will let you take less damage from different elemental sources or allow use of health potions. Assist badges allow you to take over enemy keeps more quickly and increase the duration of certain power-ups. Each character will need their own badges, and each may require different materials for the same badges, on different characters. So there’s going to need to be a lot of item farming if you want to unlock everything for everyone.

The Story Mode takes you on a super meandering journey through Hyrule to defeat Cia (a witch originally tasked with keeping the balance of the Triforce) as she causes chaos while trying to gather up some funky glowing orbs. I’ll not spoil the plot here, but there’s more to it than that, obvs. The story takes several branches along the way, as you get to visit areas from Ocarina of Time, Twiglet Princess, and Skyward Sword. Then sends you back to see things from other perspectives. See how things got going for Cia and her captains – Volga and Wizzro. In addition, you can enjoy Linkle’s side adventure. (Side note: Pleeeeeease Nintendo, we need you to fully adopt Linkle, she’s hecking awesome and needs to be in mainstream LoZ games).

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The graphics are beautiful and the characters are really nicely modelled. It’s really good to see hi-def versions of so many familiar faces form LoZ history. Each of these warriors plays quite differently, having different movement speeds. From the plodding Goron, Darunia to the fleet of foot Link. Each character has a number of combo attacks and specials to wreak havoc on the armies that oppose you. The animations for these are pretty stunning, but can get a little repetitive if you’re playing the same character for an extended period. A perfect excuse to swap out to another of the 28 playable characters.

As well as the familiar playable characters, there’s some familiar boss monsters in the shapes of King Dodongo, Gohma, Manhandla, the Imprisoned,  the Helmaroc King. They all look stunning and all need to be taken down at some point. Luckily, you’ll slowly be gathering the unique items during the game that will help with this. Series favourites like Bombs, boomerang, hookshot, bow and arrows, and hammer will help you take those giant, aggy arseholes down in short order.

While all the original game characters are open from the start, the DLC characters of old now have to be unlocked from Adventure Mode. Speaking of which, here’s where you’ll be spending a considerable amount of time if you want to get those final characters and indeed the epic number of alternate character costumes and weapons that are hidden away. I’d felt like the Story Mode had been a good value for money experience. Then I popped open Adventure mode – as the character select screen was now showing a bunch of question mark characters in addition to those I already had – and it suddenly became obvious to me that amount of content in this game is fucking ridiculous.

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There are 9 separate Adventure Mode maps, each with slightly different mechanics, but based on a previous LoZ game. Each cell of the map represents a different challenge and can lead to new character, weapons, costumes, or item cards. These item cards can then be used on certain cells to open up more rewards in other cells of the map. Each of the maps features a wide span of difficulties per level and each map is rated overall from the menu. This is an epic task and should take you a decent chunk of time to work through. I’ve probably put about 16 hours into this mode and still have 2 characters to unlock and I’ve barely touched the weapons and costumes yet. Challenges include slaughtering more mobs than your opponent, butchering a certain number of enemy captains, trouncing a number of boss monsters in a time limit, slaying specific foes to answer questions, and more. Basically, this game does killing a lot.

LoZ has some pretty iconic music, and HW:DE does a wonderful job of covering them as stunning, driving guitar tracks that really add to the metal as fuck mass slaughter fest. I’m terrible for turning off game music and whacking on my own tunes most of the time. I had no intention of doing so with this because it’s just too good. I can’t recommend the soundtrack for this enough.

Pros:

  • A whole lot of awesome game for your money.
  • Beautiful graphics.
  • Awesome soundtrack.

Cons:

  • Starting the co-op mode is ridiculously contrived and needs to be reinitialised after each level.
  • The minimap is a little small for my liking.
  • Possibly dangerously addictive.

Final Score: 8/10

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive edition is out now on Switch.

Vegan Recipes

Every now and then, someone tells me that they’re going to try the vegan thing and ask me for recipes. Now I will just link them here. Excuse the awful photos, I never intended them for show, but I wanted to try and illustrate an otherwise text heavy page.

Ultimate Chocolate Pie/Cheesecake

For pie:

1 cup flour

Vitalite

Some water

Method:

Sift flour

Start with a super heaped tbsp of Vitalite or other, non-dairy spread that’s suitable for cooking. Mix into the flour until you get breadcrumbs. If it gets too wet, add more flour.

Add water by the tbs until it forms a pastry.

Roll out pastry to about 3-5mm (depending on preference). Place in a greased pan. Blind bake on 180c until golden brown. Prolly about 10-20 mins, I don’t know eyeball it.

Alternatively, buy Just-Rol or other vegan pastry, save a fuckload of time, and it will have cooking instructions on the side =)

For cheesecake:

1 pack plain Hobnobs (Hobnobs = Success)

Some Vitalite or coconut oil, maybe some of each.

Method:

Eat 6-8 Hobnobs

Pour rest of packet into a bag or, if you’re nasty, just between some tea towels.

Beat the shit out of them with a rolling pin or bludgeoning weapon until they are oaty rubble, not too rubbly.

Lightly grease a pan and pour in the biscuit dust

Heat 2-3 tbs of the not-butter or oil in the microwave for 10-20 seconds

Pour it into the pan and mix up.

If it’s sticking together nicely then you’re good to spread it evenly over the base and pop it in the fridge to chill for 5-10 mins.

If not, lube that biscuit rubble up with more of the same until it is.

For the filling:

1 pack of silken tofu (sometimes called firm silken because people talk utter shite)

1 bar of super vegan dark chocolate.

2 heaped tbsp icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence

A splash of non-dairy milk – pref soy as it plays well with the tofu (natch).

Method:

Drain the tofu, you don’t need to press it, just get the excess tofu water off of it.

Place in a blender (you could probably do it with a hand blender but it could get messy)

Turn it to paste.

Melt the chocolate, either short bursts in the microwave after you smash it up, or in a bowl, suspended in a pan of hot water.

Add chocolate, vanilla, 1tbs icing sugar to tofu and blend until smooth and evenly chocolatey.

Taste, if it’s too bitter, you may want the rest of the sugar. Add more to taste.

If it looks like you could turn the blender upside down and it wouldn’t move in a month, add a splash of the milk.

It should poor like golden syrup

Pour it into you your case/base and pop it in the fridge to set. Overnight is best but if you can’t wait, 1-2 hours will do.

In the meantime, enjoy licking all the things clean of chocolate and sugar. (this is an excellent way to flirt)

Delicious Foody Noms™

You’re poor. We’re all poor. Down with capitalism.

With that in mind. Here is cheap food you can add or remove bits of depending on how recently you got paid.

1-2 carrots

1 medium onion (can use onion powder if you’re strapped – pro tip, onion powder comes in huge bags on amazon for a couple of quid and will do you for onion flavour for over a year)

An amount of garlic relative to your taste (again, powder is an option. Your local asian supermarket probably has big ole bags for a couple of quid that will last ages).

1 tin/carton of chopped tomatoes (basics is just as good as branded stuff)

1-2 sticks of celery (optional)

1 bell pepper of your preferred colour (optional)

1 handful per person of dried soy chunks (asian supermarket will likely do big ole bags for about a fiver. This should last a month or so, even if you’re using it in every meal)

Some kind of gravy granules/seasoning powder. (eg all purpose seasoning, swiss bullion, etc. Heck, you can use worcestershire sauce some paprika, curry powder, liquid aminos, liquid smoke. Go fancy, go minimal if you’re skint. You do you).

Herbs if you have them.

1-2 tbsp of nutritional yeast if you have it

Method:

Boil kettle.

Add soy chunks to a measuring jug or bowl.

Cover with boiling water and stir.

Add a couple of teaspoons of gravy granules/seasoning powder/whatever flavouring you have.

Stir occasionally until soft.

Chop and fry any veg you have until softened and lightly brown.

Mix in tomatoes.

Add garlic if you have it.

If you’re doing this with something (rice/pasta/noodles/the last of your hopes and dreams) put this on now.

Bring to a light bubble and then put on a low heat for ~10 mins

Now add the flavoured soy chunks to the sauce and stir. You may wish to add some of the

flavouring water from these, to the sauce and simmer this down for added flavour.

Serve and enjoy.

Fancy this shit up:

So, you’re in the money or the supermarket had stuff on sale/expired discount/some jars are small and easily concealable (I’m not at all encouraging whatever you may think I’m suggesting there) and you want to make this a bit more spesh. Well, you could add some courgettes, sliced and fried until browned. Add some sun-dried tomato paste/sriracha/peri peri sauce to add some explosive flavour.

Whatever Curry

It’s totally not curry in the traditional sense, but it has nice flavours and smells amazing.

1-2 carrots chopped or cut into thin strips

1-2 sticks of celery finely chopped (optional)

1 red or yellow pepper diced

1 medium onion chopped

Like, a bulb of garlic. Garlic is the best. Add some, then add a load more.

1 tin/carton chopped tomatoes

2 cups of dried soy chunks

Herbs/Spices: Curry powder, chilli powder, turmeric, coriander, cumin. OR a pre-blended curry spice of some kind.

3 heaped tsps curry paste

1 tin coconut milk (can use low fat coconut milk, powdered coconut, that dehydrated coconut stuff that comes in the green packed that you add water to to make it more milk/creamy, if you’re making it rain, there’s always coconut cream.

Rice

Method:

Boil water.

Make up soy chunks in a measuring jug/bowl.

Add some of each of the spices to the water to add lots of that sweet curry flavour and get those good good smells going.

Fry all the veg in a little oil until softened and lightly browned.

Add curry paste and stir thoroughly.

Add garlic, tomatoes, coconut milk/cream/whatever you’re using.

1-2 tbsp of nutritional yeast if you have it

Your kitchen now smells amazing.

Give it a taste as the coconut may have nerfed the spice and other flavours somewhat.

Add spice/seasoning to power it back up to your taste.

Add in the soy chunks

Bring to the boil and then reduce heat to low and let it simmer for about 15-20 mins. (If you’re in a rush, give the curry 5 minutes and then add some veggie gravy granules to thicken it up and bring out the flavour.)

Get your rice going, add a little turmeric to the water to add colour and aroma to your rice, if you like.

Serves 4, or 1-2 ravenous curry monsters. Hey! Don’t judge me.

Something Resembling Lasagne

Guess what’s in this, can you? Prolly by now.

For red sauce:

1 medium onion – finely chopped

1 red or orange pepper – chopped

1-2 carrots – finely chopped

1-2 celery sticks – finely chopped (optional)

3 cups of dried soy mince (optional)

1-2 tins/cartons of chopped tomatoes

1-2 tbsp of nutritional yeast if you have it

6-7 metric tons of garlic, with additional garlic to taste.

Italian herbs. Lots of oregano.

For white sauce:

1 pack silken tofu

¼ cup of non-dairy milk (pref soy)

1-2 tbsp of nutritional yeast or cheese flavour sauce powder.

Grated gary (optional)

Other:

Grated gary to top (optional)

Lasagne sheets (there are squash lasagne sheets but not tried them myself. Plus pasta is awesome, why deny yourself that)

Method:

Fry veg until soft and lightly brown.

Add tomato and all the garlic in the world.

Add herbs, nooch, soy mince. If the soy mince dries everything else out. Add a little water to get it back to a proper consistency.

Heat on high until it start getting aggy and then turn to low for 5ish mins.

The sauce should be a little bit wetter than you’d like for bolognese as it needs that to soften the pasta while it’s cooking.

Tofu in blender, blitz.

Add all the other sauce stuff and a little black pepper if you have it.

Build the lasagne. Red sauce, pasta/veg sheets, white sauce x2/3 depending on the size of your lasagne dish.

Top with a little shredded gary if you have it. I’m told you can mash cornflakes or tortilla chips if you want to make the top have a bit of crunch to it.

Pop it in the oven on 180c for 40-50 mins.

Maybe time to make some garlic bread. (bread, butter, garlic, parsley (optional))

The Family Ginger Cake Recipe™

When I was little, my maternal parent used to make a magical cake. It was sweet and sticky and made me silly and sleepy and then pass out. It’s a Scooby Doo mystery =O

227 gram / ½ lb Self-raising flour.

227 gram / ½ lb Golden syrup.

85 gram / 3 oz Margarine.

57 gram / 2 oz Dark brown sugar (Demerara or Muscovado)

2 tsp Ground ginger (Level)

1/8 pt non-dairy milk

1 tbsp Cocoa

Enough VeganEgg to equal 1 egg.

Mysterious ingredient X

Method:

Preheat oven to 150c

Sift Ginger, Flour and Coco

Melt Margarine, Sugar,Syrup, that other thing (Don’t boil)

Beat VEgg and not-Milk

Mix all ingredients together until it is battery

Pour into greased cake tin.

Put in oven for 45 mins.

Pancakes

Aww yiss gotta have a delicious golden stack one morning.

1 cup plain flour

2 tbsp baking powder

2 tbsp caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 cup soy milk (vanilla soy milk is also good for this)

Method:

Sieve dry ingredients together

Add soy milk

Mix to a thick batter

Cook on a medium heat in a lightly oiled pan.

Flip when the edges firm up and the bubbling stops.

Peanut Butter Heroin

They vanish somehow. I know not where they go. These are some sweet sweet peanut butter cookies.

75g non-dairy spread

50g 100% peanut peanut butter

50g caster sugar

50g demerara sugar

100g plain flour

Handful of porridge oats

1 tsp almond essence (optional)

2 tbsp cacao nibs (optional)

Dark chocolate buttons to top (optional)

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 200c

Mix all dry ingredients together

Mix in the moist ingredients

Divide into 8 balls and flatten them to delicious disc shaped.

Add buttons if you’re going super fancy.

Bake for 20 mins.

Leave to cool on a rack for about 5-10 mins.

Blink and realise they’re all gone somehow.

How did this happen? My delicious cookies, Where did my delicious baked goods vanish off to.

Ignore feeling of fullness and suspicious crumbs.

Bake more cookies.

A Strong Dose Of Skoompurr

This week I finally gave in to the cute graphics and pointy eared chests that have attracted me at a couple of expos in the last year. And so, money spent, I hung out to the sound of cute mewing and slashing swords, in The Gentlebros’ action RPG, Cat Quest on Nintendo Switch.

As a cat-starved cat lady, it seems perfect for me. You take the role of a brave cat who’s sister is kidnapped by a sinister looking white cat in some really snazzy headgear called Drakoth. Before I knew it, they’d blasted my tiny boat and left me adrift on a chunk of wood that genuinely didn’t have room for both me and Leo DiCatprio.

Next thing I knew, I was washed up on the shores of Felingard with Navi-wannabe, Spirry. Spirry the spirit guardian (real thoughtful there bros gentle) who is giving orders and instructing me how to grow my power and work towards saving my sister. My main complaint about this glowing guide, is that they continually refer to townsfolk as ‘peasants’. Well fuck you, you classist, twinkly bastard!

It’s quickly revealed that I bare the mark of the Dragonblood, the dragon slayers of long past. I’m not ashamed to admit that this had me immediately meowing the Skyrim theme and desperately trying to come up with related puns (Fus Ro Purr! I used to be an adventurer like you. Then I wubbed the belleh. Play along at home, if you like).

Soon enough the game opens up into a large, beautifully drawn, open world inhabited by a number of strange creatures. There’s some brown sheep things that hop around fairly harmlessly, bandit kitties, large floating fists, weird floating scorpion-tailed penis creatures, and a selection of dragons great and small to swipe your weapons at or cast powerful magics upon.

Throughout the world are a number of caves or ruins which can be investigated for experience, gold, and funky loot. Each of these areas is fairly short which is good for on the go/on the toilet play. Before entering, there is an opportunity to check the level against your own so you can tell how likely it is that you might be destroyed in a single hit. Loot comes in chests with adorable cat ears (that make me squee every time I see them, because I am kitty trash.) and could be weapons or armour. There’s plenty of fashionable hats and armour to collect and level up throughout your adventure. Items are levelled when you come across duplicates, meaning that you won’t necessarily have to change from your favourite wizard hat, it can grow with you.

In addition to the swords, maces, and knobbly staves that you’ll find, there’s a number of wizard towers dotted around the map where you can gain new magic spells and upgrade them. While there’s a good selection, to be gained, I spent most of the time just using the first spell. This Flame Purr creates a circle of fire damage around you in a good radius and never stops being useful as it also does decent damage over time. The other one of note is the freeze spell, which slows your enemy. Perfect for taking down the more mighty dragons with ease. You’ll encounter others including: lightning strikes, spike floors, and one of the most pathetic healing spells I’ve ever encountered in gaming.

As you travel across the land (searching far and wide. Da Da. Da-Dum.) you’ll come across towns and villages. Here you can chat to the locals for news, check the notice board for quests, or fall flat on your face in front of an inn, in order to rest up and save your progress. I’m not kidding, pressing the action button in front of the inn will see you just crash out harder than me after four pints of scrumpy on an empty stomach. Something that, like the adorable chests, never ceased to entertain me.

Once you’re all done with the main quest, you can go back through on new game + – which strips some of your plot-based powers, but leaves your sweet loot intact, or try mew game. Mew game mode lets you add meow-difiers, like forcing you to stay at level one, having only nine lives, or forcing you to play without armour. While I’m sure this would add something if you felt the game was short and too easy, I finished my initial run feeling like I’d had my fill of this catventure.

The soundtrack is a cheery and bouncy adventuring tune above ground and somewhat darker in the caves and ruins, but nothing really to write home about. I didn’t get annoyed with it, but it did tune out after a while.

Overall the game is basic, purrfect for short bursts of play, endearing, beautifully drawn, and suitably full of cat puns.

Pros:

Pretty
Punny
Entertaining

Cons:

Classist companion
Rather short unless you want to keep cycling through.
Twice the price on Switch that it is on mobile.

Final Score: 5/10

Cat Quest is out now on Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows, macOS, Android, & iOS

Zombies Ate My PC Gamer Weekender

tl;dr get Basingstoke! Here’s a link

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This past weekend I got the chance to visit the PC Gamer Weekender at London Olympia. Not a venue I’ve been to before, so it was nice to explore a bit. The door staff were helpful and pleasant; the lifts were huge, certainly enough room to not only get a couple of electric wheelchairs in, but to turn around easily too. On the event floor, there’s a cloak room café area, and toilets are well sign posted. A seating at one end for refreshments and a large tabletop gaming area near to stands selling collectable cards, general nerd merch  (including the legally required number of Funko Pop figures for such events), and a good selection or tabletop games (damn you Pandemic and your many tempting variants!). In addition there were two stages – quite close together – which hosted a number of panels for game reveals and tech talks that I largely missed. And Finally, the most important area, the bit most people came for: the glorious corridors of game stands *crowd makes excited oooooh sound*. Luckily, the event wasn’t too crowded, so it was easy ish to get to try things, and wasn’t too overwhelmingly peopley.

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Game I actually went to see – 2 Point Hospital.

I played a lot of Theme Hospital in my youth. Like, a loooooot of Theme Hospital. Its quirky humour, charming graphics, and involving gameplay kept me coming back for more, even though I wasn’t very good at it. It’s one I came back to again and again and had only recently been wishing that someone would update. So the recent announcement that some of the old Bullfrog team were getting 2 Point Studios [www.twopointstudios.com] together and would soon be releasing 2 Point Hospital, a spiritual successor to Theme Hospital. The panel introduced some members of the team and their mission statement.

Good news everybody, 2 Point Studios want to re-imagine sims and be the home of “little people games”. For those who loved Populous, Powermonger, Theme Park, and Theme Hospital, this is excellent news. Personally, I’ve felt the industry has been lacking good games in this genre for some time. From what the announcement trailer has shown, and the gameplay footage shown at the Weekender, the game is looking fantastic. The graphics are clean and colourful, looking great from a distant overview, right down to fully zoomed in; the interface is simple and clear; and for those familiar with TH, it’s looking like everything we would want from a successor.

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One of the main draws of TH for me was the wacky afflictions which patients could come in with. Bloaty head – a massively swollen head that needs to be popped and lightly re-inflated to normal size, slack tongue – a huge lolling tongue that personally I’d just learn to live with for… reasons, and invisibility to name a few. 2PH has new conditions all of its own. Including light headedness – waking up to find your head is now literally a lightbulb which will need to be unscrewed and replaced with a new head, and mummification – wandering, bandaged horrors that need to be popped into a casket, and have their coverings unwound. The devs announced that the final game will be filled more of these punny illnesses for you to cure with unusual and entertainingly animated equipment. Do try not to get embarrassed at people seeing your skeleton when passing through the x-ray machine.

I was excited before, seeing this at the Weekender and nothing I saw did anything to lessen that. It’s looking great and I’m very hype. Devs are not yet ready put an exact date for release, but my body is ready just as soon as they are ready to put it out.

2 Point Hospital will be available on Steam at some point in 2018.

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Pleasant surprise of the show – Guns of Icarus Alliance

I’ve not played GoI for some time. I got quite into it for a while, but I just didn’t have the time and too many other things that ran better on my PC (To be fair, the PC I was using at that time was junk and GoI just chugged on it).

This new game is very much more of the same first-person, steampunk/dieselpunk multiplayer, airship crew simulator. Take to the skies and battle rival crews in huge areas. Take the high road, or sink as low as you can and into clouds to avoid detection, then sneak up on your enemy. Take on specific roles as gunner, engineer or pilot – though anyone can do any job in a pinch even put out the occasional fire.  The original game featured 7 magnificent airships, with Alliance adding a further six to date. Each is differently manoeuvrable and having varying amounts of guns and armour.

Alliance adds more than just new ships and enhanced graphics to the original 2012 release. Developers, Muse Games are very excited that they have successfully integrated cross-platform play with Windows, Mac, Linux, and PS4. While your account can’t be moved from platform to platform, you can play with your friends, without problems, regardless of which system they’re using. Additionally, faction war gameplay lets crews to earn war effort for their faction, which in turn allows them to take over or defend pieces of land on the map. There’s time in lobby to strategize and plan for the war effort, but if that’s not your thing, you can always set up a private game and have it out with your friends.

Alliance also sees the game ported to a newer version of Unity, which has allowed them to improve enemy AI. Staff at the booth told me a great story about one of the devs loudly complaining, as they believed someone in the office was picking on them. It later turned out to be an AI player that they’d upset.

So gather your crew, inflate your balloon, and set sail to the skies to fight your enemy. For the good of [insert preferred faction] because you’re the best and most right, obviously.

Guns of Icarus Alliance is available on Steam and Humble Store

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Game of the Show – Basingstoke

I’ve played a few of Puppy Games creations. They’ve mostly been fun and engaging updates on classic games with a unique art style that is instantly recognisable if you’ve played any of their stuff. Even their most fearsome enemies have a certain adorable look about them. Like a hangry loved one on a rampage. Speaking of hangry, what monster encapsulates that idea better than zombies (phew, think I landed that segue with no problems). This brings us to Basingstoke. Well, it’s Basingstoke, but not as you know it. Unless you know it to be on fire and the residents to be rather bitey. In this case, I’m referring to, the terminally British isometric roguelike zombie survival game that makes me crave a strawberry Cornetto.

“But Jane, everyone’s tired of zombie games. They’re so dead.” Well friend, unless you sever the head or destroy the brain, only the crappy, asset flippy, BS zombie games are going to fall to something like market saturation (also, your pun is bad). On the other hand we have this, which is beautiful, charming, and wonderfully fun.

The graphics are typical for the studio, simple, stylish and cute, with excellent lighting effects.  It’s not often I get to see road signs, traffic cones, keep left bollards, and ridiculous helmeted police officers that match those I see every day, in the videogames I play. That’s because so many games are set in the US. However, it’s these simple pleasures that first drew my eye to this game.

Sneak around post-apocalyptic Basingstoke to gather all the materials you can, avoiding the cute and dopey looking enemies. Items can be crafted from the materials you find to either directly attack the shambling horde – like a pool cue or pepper spray. Other items, such as a kebab can be thrown to try and draw the attention these ghoulish creatures from your delicious bod (I’ve been out drinking in Croydon on a Friday night and can attest that this does in fact work).

Apart from the shambling undead, I got to see some of the fast and vicious monsters. And by “see” I mean, I ran away as fast as possible, flailing and hurling sausage rolls to try and distract them. They may be adorable but those teeth aren’t to be trifled with… unless there’s a trifle to be found or crafted somewhere and used to temporarily blind them. Then I would maybe consider that as a last resort.

Once you’ve looted everything that takes your fancy and found the key item, you can make your way to (temporary) safety at the exit to the area. The end of the first section allows you to escape to The Red Lion pub, and part of me hopes there will be an option to stay there and wait for it all to blow over, shoot some pool and listen to Queen on the jukebox like a super quick, waiting for the phone call to end, Far Cry 4 alternate ending.

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For the event, they had all the current classes unlocked, with each character having varying starting equipment. I had a quick look at the office worker, police officer, and tourist – who gets a distracting polaroid camera and a GPS that guides you to the level exit. Each is beautifully designed, and I can’t wait to spend more time with them, waking up in strange toilets, in the middle of the zombie apocalypse.

Basingstoke’s areas are a mix of prefab and procedurally generated areas, to make for more variety and replayablity. I’ve only been to Basingstoke once, but if this game is accurate, I’ll have to go again, and be surprised it seems.

Not going to lie, of all the things that I’ve fallen in love with, the loading screen was the most surprising. It’s a set of temporary traffic lights and one of those “When red light shows wait here” signs, with an adorable zombie in a hard hat and hi-vis jacket. As the level loads, the lights change. I have no idea why this charms me so much, but there it is.

You can play it right now by supporting the Puppy Games Patreon for as little as $5.  Or wait until March 30th for the Steam release How’s that for a slice of fried gold? 

Shot In The Ghouleys

The great portening continues at strong pace. Many games are being tugged into Switch harbour at the moment, which is nice as it shows that devs are starting to see it less as Nintendo’s latest children’s toy and more the superb system it is. This time it’s Spooky Doorway’s The Darkside Detective – previously released on PC, Mac and, Linux in summer 2017 – a point and click adventure game that takes cues from the LucasArts SCUMM games.

You take on the role of the Detective Francis McQueen, the Spooky Mulder of Twin Lakes Police Department, ably assisted by Officer Dooley – who’s trying to bring down the system from the inside. Together they are the supernatural sleuths of the Darkside Department at TLPD.

The game is broken down into 6 pun-tastic chapters, or cases (I’m told by the dev that the Switch will be getting the bonus 7th chapter as a free update shortly so there’s a little more to look forward to) that will probably take around an hour each, on average. McQueen and Dooley bumble through such occult shenanigans as finding a child lost in another plane of existence, investigating a haunting at the library, a zombie invasion, and more.

Throughout the game you’ll find references to a number of other point & click games including Monkey Island 2, Full Throttle, Maniac Mansion, Simon the Sorcerer, and Discworld, so if you’re old like me, or just had a good education in these types of games, it’s quite the nostalgia fest. That’s not to say that the game doesn’t do its own humour very well. There’s plenty of bits that raised a smile as I went through, for instance, there’s a lot of interesting titles to borrow at the library, the darkside inhabitants have an interesting perspective on existence, and there’s a purple tentacle in a very convenient place, like, super convenient. I think that tentacle and I could be good friends. Really, good friends. How come I never find a tentacle that wriggly and moist in my bathroom? *slaps self* (“keep it together woman!”). Ahem.

When playing in TV mode, the left stick moves the cursor quickly over larger areas, the right is for more precise movement, and both sticks will move at high speed, though personally, I found even moving both sticks was a little slow for my liking. Other than that there’s just the A or B button to click. When switching to handheld mode, you can use the touch screen, which makes the whole thing a lot quicker. There’s no character movement to worry about as you can click on anything on screen to activate it, with key items and exits highlighted as you move over them.

Graphically it’s big chunky pixels, but still very easy to distinguish objects. The characters and backgrounds look very good and lighting effects add a lot the atmosphere. The music is very good, suitably atmospheric fare, as is to be expected from Ben Prunty of FTL: Faster Than Light fame. Definitely worth checking out the soundtrack, which is available on Bandcamp.

Overall the game is a lot of fun but kind of short for £10. Perhaps it needed maybe one or two more cases to make it worth that. Therefore I’m knocking a few points off of the final score.

Pros:

Pretty
Funny
Great soundtrack

Cons:

Short for the price
Control is a bit slow.

Final Score: 7/10

The Darkside Detective is out now on Switch, PC, Mac, & Linux. Available from the Switch eShop, Steam, GOG, Humble Store.