Games

I noted with much interest that Age of Conan is set to become free to play in the summer. Seems like a few games are trying out this model (like my current game of choice, Champions Online, although AoC is trying to cash in on the new movie too.

Speaking of the new movie, not thinking much of the trailer (below). I’m quite a big Conan fan and would love the film to be true to the books. Question is whether that would be rubbish as Conan doesn’t have much depth to him as a character. Kill things, get the woman, overcome impossible odds using his unnatural strength and stamina. Suppose it could be ok as a ‘switch brain off’ action flick.

I’m curious now to see if the game draws on the original material too. Be fun playing and spotting book references.

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Money

I’ve bought a lot/most of my DVD’s from eBay the last few years as it is a good place to find a bargain. At one point I could get a lot of those I was looking for for between one and two quid. Then something changed and everyone added at least a quid postage onto the cost. You can still get the odd deal but they are much harder to find. So I started looking for alternative sources for my film purchases….

I found a shop in the city centre called Gameworld which sold secondhand DVD. Never really found much I wanted on most of my trips but then I discovered the ‘£1.99 or less section – buy 2 get third free!’. Wasn’t much choice though though and I soon exhausted what they had (and what I wanted).

Then I found ChoicesUK. Most of the time they are an OK distributor but sometimes, just sometimes, they have some great deals! I was a little wary at first as they had some very bad reviews online so I just went for three DVDs for 99p each (spend over £2.50 and postage is free). Was slightly concerned when they had a ‘problem’ with my credit card but it was sorted out out easily enough with a quick phone call and it eventually turned out my bank was partly to blame for not updating my billing address. With that purchase having gone well, I then went for another six pre-owned DVDs at 49p each! One ended up being out of stock (even though it was in stock when I ordered) and they cancelled it but the rest arrived safely and I was even pleased to note that postage was still free even though the now five DVD order came in at under the required £2.50.

So check out ChoicesUK. They don’t always have great deals or any pre-owned DVDs but the service seems pretty good for stuff costing only 49p….

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Environment

Landfill mining starts to become more mainstream. You dig up the rubbish, get all the valuable materials out then burn the rest in a plasma arc to generate electricity.

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Money

Whilst I’m certainly not struggling for money after moving into my new home, I am tending to watch the pennies a little more. Who knows when the boiler may pack up and I’ll need a couple of thousand handy to replace it (which is probably why I’m putting off having it looked at for it’s annual check up)! Part of my plan for penny watching was obtaining some sort of reward card – either cash back or reward points like this lay card. I applied for a couple and was rejected due to having no credit rating. Which is odd as I already have a credit card and I’ve seen my credit report which whilst sparse, certainly exists and shows I don’t have a bad credit history.

Anyway, feeling a little dejected at my rejections I kept looking around and stumbled on cash back websites. These seemed a little too good to be true but I did a bit more research, thought “what the hell” and signed up to Top CashBack.

The sites basically work with vendors to give you back either a percentage of the sale (typically 2-5%) or a one off cash value reward. The downside is that it’s reliant on your online order ‘tacking’ correctly (a process that involves certain tracking cookies being read that show the vendor that you were referred from a particular cash back website) and on the vendor honoring the deal. Some seem less reliable on the latter point than others.

As I said though, didn’t have much to lose and I look at cash back – if it works – as an added bonus rather than a reason to use a particular online seller or buy something specifically. So far, I have around £83 listed as confirmed by the merchants although it may be a while yet before that becomes payable to me and it may still go wrong. I also have another £32 waiting to be confirmed. The bulk of my £83 was from transferring my electric to Scottish Power but I was going to do that anyway and the £80 cash back – if it arrives – is just a nice extra.

So consider it, may make you a little extra cash to spend on something nice (and get cash back on!).

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Games

Another big gap in posting…. I have been busy though; doing my garden, painting woodwork, sealing windows etc. All that work means that my man room (otherwise known as the spare bedroom) is now pretty much done and ready to use. Which for me means somewhere to star gaming again!

I’ve spent a while playing free games like UFA: Alien Invasion which is pretty good if you were into the original XCOM games. Think the next version (currently in beta) will add a fair few improvements as well. So whilst waiting for that update I looked around for any other free games I could jump into and was reminded that Champions Online is now free to play. 4.8GB worth of downloads later and I’m up and running.

For those that don’t know, I was a long time player of City of Heroes – playing pretty much solidly for 4 years from EU launch in 2007. City of Heroes was originally created by Cryptic Studios who then sold the franchise to NCSoft (with part of the company being rebranded Paragon Studios to continue game development). Cryptic then went on to create Champions and you can certainly feel the CoH influence there. It doesn’t feel so much like a sequel or clone of CoH but more like a cousin to the game. Sometimes this isn’t a bad thing as it feels like slipping on a well worn pair of trousers. Sometimes – if you are a loyal CoH player like myself – you feel a bit cross that it isn’t being more original. But then I’ve only ever really played one MMORPG so maybe they all steal ideas from each other?

I’ve not been playing long enough to give any real feedback yet but first impressions:

1. I like the tutorial. CoH starts with a minor virus outbreak in Outbreak. It eases you in slowly. Champions kicks you straight into an alien invasion and it did feel good having dropships flying overhead and laser bolts landing around you whilst you learn the controls.

2. It’s busy! Reminds me of the days I first started playing CoH with dozens/hundreds of player running around the zones. I believe CoH is trying to fix this by merging the quiet EU and busy US server lists though.

3. Seems a bit easy. Level 7 already and only died twice. And that was only because I’d got so used to just mashing the attack buttons with little regard to tactics or watching my health (as nothing much seemed to be a danger) that I was taken a little by surprise a couple of times. I’m not even playing one of the ‘tough’ archetypes.

4. Don’t much like the character creation section.

6. Find some things a little hard to get. Maybe if I had a retail box set with instruction manual so I know what certain things were for etc…?

Will I keep playing. Yup. Will I eventually start paying for content? Doubtful but we’ll see.

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Books

Before Christmas I popped into The Works and found this – a Transformers graphic novel – for the bargain price of 3 quid! I had to get it of course.

My brother was the one that had the Transformers as his weekly comic (I had Buster) many years ago but I always got to read them too. This graphic novel is a compilation of the Matrix Quest and the subsequent attack on Cybertron by Unicron (the point where my brother stopped getting the comic so it was nice to finally see what happened after 20 years…). For a few quid I’d recommend this to anyone that used to like the Transformers as a kid.

Having got that novel I did a little research online to see what others were about. Whilst I’d like to get some more of the classic comics I found that there were quite a few novels from the newer stuff. And I don’t mean the shitty Micheal Bay re-imaging from recently.

Next up for me is Last Stand of the Wreckers. I’ve not read any of the new stuff but it has great reviews.

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Environmental

George Monbiot – Going Critical.

Interesting to see how George has moved from a nuclear neutral stance to pro-nuclear as a result of the Fukushima disaster in Japan.

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Internet

Now that I’m a homeowner with a mortgage to pay (and many DIY costs recently like the £35 worth of door handles yesterday) I’ve subscribed to the RSS feed from HotUKDeals in an effort to try and save a few bob here and there and get some bargains. I’ve already saved £3 on a large jar of coffee, signed up to get £5 worth of free seeds, ordered a free recipe book and happened to find a bargain hammer drill at the Argos Outlet Store whilst following up another link.

I likes a good bargain me.

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Environmental

Lunar Cubit. Art installation/power plant. More of the former than the latter as it’ll only power 250 homes. Interesting though I preferred the runner up in the competition, the Windstalks as they look a little more practical and just as pretty.

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Environmental

An green alternative to the Nectar card – Ice – where you get paid for shopping at sustainable/local shops. Only just launched but I’d be interested to keep an eye on it.

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