All posts by Newt

Games Designer, Publisher, Web Developer, Dad.

Recent Computer Games

So after the nth replay, I uninstalled Borderlands 3 and Fallout 4 and decided to take a blind shot and find a worthy AAA successor amongst the current crop of recent releases.

Didn’t take me long to download Atomic Heart, a 1950s Soviet Themed shooter, where a bunch of robots have run amok on a floating Research station/Worker’s paradise. It’s a retro retro-themed sci-fi, with a solid story. Gameplay wise it’s a satisfyingly old-school shooter (it reminds me a lot of Half-life 1 & 2, with action and puzzle stages) with reassuring modern features (graphic novel quality graphics, open world sections, skill trees and worthwhile crafting). Firm recommend.

I finished Atomic Heart, and the various cut scenes and in-game character dialogue told me what was going as I blasted my way through this very lore-rich game. The ending felt rather rushed and a bit Deus-ex-machina, so I felt a bit cheated. But it sets itself up for a sequel or a good string of DLCs. It’s due another playthrough to explore all the skill trees and combat options. I would love to dive back in and play the just-released DLC Annilation Instinct, but seeing I was getting this as free ride via Microsoft Game Pass, I’ll wait until the Winter Steam Sale 

So what do I play now? How about a familiar shoot ’em up, low on lore and narrative? What’s this Quake II remastered has just dropped? And it’s free if you’ve already got it on PC. Modernised graphics (lighting, textures, and models – so no more wobbly models) and a ton of new content (extra secret levels, new episodes). I happily played for a good twenty minutes. It was like a wonderful rollercoaster ride that had just been renovated with all the bumps removed. 

This video does a good job of explaining the technicalities of what they have done.

I’ve just discovered, after my Quake 2 remastered playthrough, that there is a whole range of old-school FPS games called Boomer Shooters. This revelation mainly came from discovering the Warhammer 40K shooter, Boltgun. A fantastic little game that is up there with the 90s classics, with a few modern comfort-of-life additions (the big one being running on modern PCs flawlessly).

While the rest of you have been frothing over Baldur’s Gate 3, I headed into space via Game Pass on PC, hoping to do the same with Starfield. But omg! I’m glad I didn’t pay full price for this thing. According to Bethesda, Space is Boring. Really dull. Dull, predictable companions. Boring NASA Punk style. The most mediocre McGuffin Main Quest. The only bit I liked was when I headed off to the Wild West in Space, Free Territories, and did a series of sidequests best summed up as Star Marshals. But that’s because I liked the Firefly vibe until I realised it feel far, far short. This game was delayed a year, and I can guess it was all bug fixing, where I had hoped it would have been, putting the shine on the gameplay. Deeply disappointing.

So I returned to an old fave Fallout 4, and decided to go full mod with it. This I’ve successfully done by going to Nexus mods and installing the Storywealth collection.

https://next.nexusmods.com/fallout4/collections/5atq9t

This is a curated collection of mods that covers the whole range of gameplay, equipment, graphical enhancements and a ridiculous amount of additional quests that round out the game. Want to play Evil (and a well-considered Evil at that), you can because it includes the mod that does that. Want to play through the whole rebuild the Commonwealth adventures of Sim Settlements 2. That’s included, too. Oh, and I think the early release of the Fallout 3 in Fallout 4 mod, that covers the old DLC pack Point Island is in there too. But I’m too busy to explore it (yet) There are similar collections for Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas and, of course, the Elder Scrolls games too, that not only get those even older games working seamlessly on modern machines but add tons of additional content and shine too.

So who needs new cutting-edge AAA games, OLD SCHOOL RULES!!! 

Happy Buildermass, everyone!

Are you confused by this new festival of mine?

In December last year, Elaine’s (who died last August) bungalow had 42 pipe leaks during a cold snap while we were on holiday in Lanzarote. It suffered five days of flood damage. Insurance was fully paid out last week after a long, drawn-out process of drying the property and haggling over the details of the claim. The old boiler was a sticking point that dragged out the process by a month.

Today, our ace builders are fixing and improving it so we can finally sell it! I could barely sleep last night with the excitement.😀

And the best bit?

A skip! A skip! My kingdom for a skip! Now, after three years of skip envy, I have my own skip. All that useless crap that has been clogging up my house for the last five years can GET IN THE SKIP.

Space is the Final Frontier!

Still my favourite Star Trek Captain (even when played by Chris Pine).

A long overdue tidy-up D101 HQ (aka the Office) started yesterday. “My god, what happened! Thought that room was destined to be box heaven for the cats” my mate Ginger Matt exclaimed when I told him 🙂 The problem was there wasn’t enough room to swing said cats—especially our new Kitten, Florence (aka Flo or Flossy).

I’ve tried and failed previously to get on top of all the piles of books, bits of electronics (inc my desktop, which was a much-loved gaming machine in its time that is as old as our Henry, 14), graphic novels, and even Evies old single bed. That was disassembled and stored in the office when she got one of those two-story beds older kids like and then quickly grow out of. Which itself was replaced by a double bed, now she’s a teenager going on young adult (YIKESS!). The irony of this illustrates how I’ve neglected to deal with this for the last five years or so, to the point that I was worried I had become a clinically depressed border.

The good news is that I’m not. I’ve just been a bit distracted by everything that’s been going on in my family’s life over the last five years. But that’s easing off. Now that the builders are about to move in and sort out my deceased mother’ in-laws bungalow (and about time, she says since she’s been dead a year and a week now), I’ve really got nowhere to hide, and I’m cracking on with a long overdue refresh of the whole house. Taking it a step at a time so I don’t get overwhelmed, which has been my problem in the past.

So yesterday, I took fifteen minutes, which turned into a couple of hours, to clear out the obvious crap and move some bits into the attic. This itself will get a sort out in November because I’m well aware this conceptionally infinite space actually has limits and already has two sets of Christmas decorations, big trees and all (ours and Elianes up there), as well as other “collections” of stuff (including my children’s baby clothes). I have a list to keep track of it 😉 November is my date for this because that’s when I want to solve the problem of Two Christmas’ by having a good throwout 🙂 But getting back to my office tidy up, I’m not finished, but already I’m 25% up with floor space, which I need a damn good hover! Now all I have to do is sort out my stuff, and I’ll have a clean space to work in. Already felt the “feng-shui” benefits of having the extra space and woke up feeling that I had more space to breathe, less oppressed by the amount of stuff I have and that it’s alright to have some of my big collections of stuff (RuneQuest/Glorantha looking at you), while some collections can go to new homes very soon 😀

Next job…sort out the shoes stashed in the office cupboard!

Us Newport’s have passed the Shoe Event Horizon!

Further information

Fly lady. This cheerful methodology takes you from chaos ridden clutterbug to a habitually tidy person in small, supported steps. She has a big thing, which works, that fifteen minutes of tidying is better than nothing.

Family Wall – A website with an app version for mobiles and tablets, which we as a family have been using for a good nine months now to share calendars, shopping lists, to-do lists etc The list of stuff in the attic that I mention above lives here. Recommended.

RuneQuest at chaosium.com

The Shoe Event Horizon from the radio version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Galaxy

The Summer of Doom

My recent listening habits haven’t been jolly. I suspect they reflect the dumpster fire that World News is at the moment.

The Stranglers – Rattus Novigus

A big alternative band of the 80s, who were personally big in my 90s. I saw them live (without original lead singer Hugh Cornwell, which was off-putting) at one of the Leeds Free Festivals at Roundhey Park, and their Greatest Hits lp was constantly on my mate Foz’s stereo when I went around. Attitude-wise, they’ve always struck me as the same joking about – but oh so deadpan – that Faith No More also displays. So recently, I’ve been working through their back catalogue, listening to ENTIRE ALBUMS. So I started with their debut Rattus Norvegicus and not got very far beyond that. Its got one of my all-time songs, Get a Grip (of Yourself), and the leary “do they mean it or are they being ironic” Peaches (both on the aforementioned mates Greatist Hits tape). But what was new to me and has become my theme tune over the last month or so is their hauntingly stomping Goodbye Toulouse, which apparently is inspired by Nostrodamous prediction that this French of city will suffer a catacymisic end. Doom my friends, doom.

Recently keyboardist Dave Greenfield passed away. His bandmates released this poignant song on their latest LP.

Iggy Pop and James Williamson – Kill City

Made in the aftermath of the Stooges’ implosion from drug use in the early 70s from sounds which were meant to be that band’s fourth album after Raw Power. Guitarist James Williamson would get Iggy to do vocals on weekend release from the rehab. Lacking the fire of Raw Power, It’s like a big sleazy soundtrack to a 70s gangster film, telling stories from the viewpoint of its anti-hero stars. Listen to Joanna and its not the loving romance song you initially think it is. This is the remastered version, with all sorts of sounds filling out the rather flat vinyl version I picked up second-hand in the 90s and held on for grim life in my post-student days.

Jawbox

How did I miss this band in their 90s heyday? I’m doing general discovery with this band, who came out of Washington DC and were peers of my beloved Fugazi. Recorded two LPs on independent label Discord Records before being on Atlantic for two, then disbanding in the late 90s, members going in other directions (including the wonderful Office of Future Plans), and then reuniting to tour in recent history and reissue the two major label releases on their own label. Phew!

Here’s the out-and-out rocker, Breathe of their Atlantic debut, which made the hairs on my neck stand up on end when I first heard it.

And talking of Doom, let me introduce …

Spotlights

Another discovery band, who’ve been on Mike Patton’s Ipecac label since the 2010s. Described as “Doomgazing” they really are a fantastic mix of atmospheric rock music, with breathy vocals, occasional grimaced shouting, crash bang wallop drumming, space rock(!), sludge, doom, progish leanings (but from NY state). I picked up on them since Ipecac are promoting their latest LP, but this is the one I keep on playing on repeat.

Three Little Talks

Well, my latest game, Lost Fools of Atlantis, has ended its run on Kickstarter after a numerically significant 23 days. Part ritual, part goof, while it’s not gone stellar money-wise (of all the Kickstarters I’ve run it’s funded the least), it’s been too much fun and restored my sense of humour in what I’m doing with D101 Games. I’ve got a supreme sense of achievement and a clear path – even in these very uncertain times.

As I sit here way past the Witching Hour, as is my want, considering occult matters, consciously dreaming and setting up magical events for fun and, err, more fun, using YouTube as an Oracle, it spat out three shorts by the late great Alan Watts, one of my favourite pathfinders and Not-Uncles.

I’ve been worried about getting old and painfully dwelling on my own mortality, so this was the first one to flow out…

When Life Changes, Stop Clinging To It

I sat there all warm and fuzzy – having nothing to do with the fact it’s an extremely hot summer’s night – and then almost instinctively came up with a wobbler. “What about all the people, especially my nearest and dearest, who worry all the time?” So then this flowed out from autoplay.

We Worry About Problems We Don’t Even Have

And finally, to complete this classic trilogy of the answers to all life’s problems, a favourite of mine that I realised in my late twenties in the late 90s (but have doubted many times as I have repeated the same vicious cycle of becoming serious and static, and breaking down and learning to laugh again – well no more!).

It’s Only A Game

So I’m going to go away now and sleep when I’m tired 😉

Lost Fools of Atlantis

After what seems like an age of teasing people on my Twitter and D101 Games Facebook account, I’ve revealed my latest game, Lost Fools of Atlantis.

Lost Fools of Atlantis, cover by Jon Hodgson, Balance Engine logo by Dan Barker.

I’ve been working on it for the best part of a decade. At the start of this year, I set myself the date 23.05.23 to bring it to Kickstarter and let the general public decide whether it’s worth my time (and theirs) to develop and release. I’ve tried to chicken out and pull away many times, especially over the last couple of days which have been unbelievably stressful on the family front. Daniel Barker has been cheering me on as I send him rough drafts and has created a lovely logo for the Balance System (the narrative d20 system, which is sort of an evolution of Monkey) and this stunning piece of artwork for the book.

Lost Fools has deliberately been written as a Dark Comedy. It’s very satirical, almost sarcastic in places (punk RPG?), but without being sloppy. You can take the underlying system, the Balance System, and use it for other things as long you don’t mind there being any hit points, damage dice, movement rates, or other relics of roleplaying games’ wargaming orgins.

You can sign up to be notified when it goes live on Tuesday 23rd (its also the URL for when it goes live for 23 days until June 14th)

Fingers crossed that it funds because otherwise, I will burn/delete all copies, and we will never talk about it again.

Life in the Slow Lane

Life has been satisfyingly slow recently. The last couple of years, after Covid lockdown in 2020 (Mar-July?), have been all sorts of hectic in ways I didn’t anticipate. Worst of all, I didn’t see it coming until it was too late, and I was involved in day-to-day reactive behaviour rather than stepping back calmly and dealing with stuff. In short, for the last couple of years, despite working for myself, and looking after the family (and attendant Grandmas), I was swamped. Last year for the first six months, I had five family crises ongoing. When a sixth raised its ugly head, I said, “NO UNIVERSE, I CAN NOT TAKE THIS ONE ONBOARD! I’ve only five fingers to count them on” 😀

But things are gradually sorting themselves out. Annoyingly while three of them have gotten much better through the situations changing, I’ve learnt the big Adulting lesson that responsibilities, once taken fully on board (like Adults do with dependants) may change due to circumstances but never really go away. Saying this, once you accept responsibility, if you do it firmly and calmly, this gives you a reassuring sense of control. Even if circumstances are beyond your control and you just have to go with the flow 🙂

I’ve had to start taking care of myself physically a lot better than I have been doing. I’ve taken my body for granted, and while I’m practically a vegan, don’t drink or smoke, and get moderate regular exercise through walking the dog, I could be doing better. Also, mentally, I’ve been pushing myself too hard in the wrong directions and being too stubborn and self-reliant. So some things have been given up on, and some put aside (for now). I’ve accepted that my projects aren’t as Epic as I thought they would be, and by giving up the struggle, they’ve actually become fun and much more profitable! (just like the Taoist Masters say!).