Video Games, Comics, and Navel-Gazing

Hey, have you guys heard of Teh Learning Curve yet? It’s a pretty cool gig; the premise of which being that a couple of guys sit on a couch, play a video game together for 30 minutes, then give their impressions of it – all of which is condensed into a five-minute YouTube video for the ridiculously short attention span of the discerning modern internet viewer. I did some logo work for them a little while back, but before that I actually took time out from my busy schedule as an international man of dysentry to appear, in real life, and show them the correct and most efficient way to play Braid.



If you’re having trouble recognising me, I am the attractive ponytailed Adonis sitting on the right hand side. I think we can all agree I have a bright future in game reviews, if not actual successful game play, or any manner of timing and co-ordination.

For those who don’t know, I used to do a (semi) regular webcomic by the name of Refried. I was looking back through the archives last night, and aside from the odd cringe or two, it really made me want to pick up the webcomic gig again. This isn’t the first time I’ve felt like this; it’s been almost two years since I stopped updating Refried and so I’ve had quite a reasonable amount of time to consider my position. So much time in fact, that I apparently fell asleep at the wheel and drove my car off the webcomics highway into the blissful ditch of real life.

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Aluminium Chef: It Burns So Much


On today’s episode of Aluminium Chef, you will learn the following things:

1) Putting a Cadbury Creme Egg in the microwave to make it all “nice and melty” to go over your ice cream will result in a loud, ear-piercing shriek as the gooey creme filling bursts forth, geyser like, from the chocolate shell and sprays all over the inside of the microwave.

2) The gooey creme filling will be superheated to a temperature comparable to that of molten lava as it exits the chocolate shell. Touching the gooey creme lava will cause first degree burns to your fingers.

3) As the filling that decorates the inside of your microwave slowly cools, you will discover that it is almost impossible to clean off. You will spend at least fifteen minutes furiously scrubbing as you hold your hand in a glass of cold water, incredulous with pain and rage, alternating under your breath between vicious swearing and confused denial.

4) Thoroughly cautious, you will gently touch the now-empty but surprisingly intact chocolate shell of the Creme Egg, only to find that is in fact stone fucking cold.

This is why I am.

This morning, I’d like to tell you all a story. It’s a story about the single most inspirational man I’ve ever met. Despite the length of time since I last saw him, which is probably close to 4 years, and the fact that I’ll probably never see him again, doesn’t change the fact that he often comes up in my thoughts as a vague guideline to attitudes and life in general. I’ve probably mentioned him in passing to a number of you in the past, mostly regarding his unorthodox teaching methods.

You see, he was a lecturer at SIBT, a bridging institution with delusions of grandeur, that I attended for a year. His name is Aaron. I somehow never discovered his last name, perhaps he did that deliberately, most lecturers are all about the simple email addresses and things, but in any case, I never knew it.

Of the three trimesters SIBT was divided into, I was lucky enough to have three units, over two trimesters with Aaron as a lecturer. I’d heard of him from friends who had previously taken the units I was, and also been lucky enough to have him as a lecturer, but I’d always assumed what people had said about him was exaggerated. I mean, how good can this one guy BE, right?

The thing that probably needs to be mentioned somewhere, so here seems like a good place, was that SIBT is like baby-uni. The tutorials were about the same size, but instead of lectures with literally hundreds of people, you were reduced to classes of say, 20? Maybe less if it wasn’t a popular class. So when I say he interacted with you personally, he really did. He knew most every student by name, greeted them in corridors, and really made you feel like you meant something to him.

I realise, reading back, that a lot of the words I’m using and will continue to use might make it sound like a schoolgirl crush was going down. But I gotta tell ya, that simply wasn’t the case. I’ll be using a lot of these emotional words, because that’s what he did to you, he made you feel like an individual, not a faceless student, or a number. But I had nothing but the greatest respect for this guy.

I’m sort of all over the place with this. It sounded more structured in my head. But I haven’t even really started yet. This is kind of just backstory. I’ll understand if you wanna stop reading now.

Continue reading This is why I am.

Why I Love: City of Villains

As the history – or more accurately, this slightly faded receipt in my hand – tells it, on the second of December 2005, at 4:47 PM precisely, I walked into EB Games Carousel and purchased the City of Villains Collector’s DVD Edition for the princely sum of $74.85, beginning an on-and-off love affair that would last over three years.

City of Villains was pretty much my first MMO, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. And while I can look back and suspect that my shine for it might still be slightly rose-tinted for that naivete, I’ve since tried other MMO’s – Warhammer Online (for several months), World of Warcraft (for two weeks), Tabula Rasa (for six hours), Ultima Online (for… well, thirty minutes) – and I’ve even spent the last year balls-deep in development of another MMO. None of these games, no matter who I played them with, no matter how good the anecdotes about them, no matter how much I enjoyed working on them, none of these games have ever kept me interested, kept me excited and kept me coming back again and again like City of Villains.

As you may or may not know, the people behind City of Villains, Cryptic Studios, are currently working on another superhero-themed MMO called Champions Online. Naturally this sort of news is exciting to me, and while discussing it with my friends, all the good memories from the City of Villains days came flooding back. Our incessant talking about those halcyon days was enough to convince Jess that it was time to try it for herself, and so a few weeks ago we fired it up, and we haven’t looked back since.

There have been probably three distinct City of Villains eras for me before this one, and though I’ve always been pleased with the game’s ongoing development each time I’ve restarted, logging in again for the first time in nearly two years really floored me with the amount of improvements that they’ve been quietly crowbarring in. Though I’ve always loved the game to pieces, it has always had some distinctly glaring issues, or what I would consider to be incredibly obvious design decisions that needed to be made but which just weren’t. This time around, I could not help but be amazed at just how far they had come along in addressing those concerns. In fact, I’ve been enjoying playing it so much that I decided it was about time to write it all down and tell the world exactly why.

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Matter Of Fact, I’ve Got It Now

Having told, and retold, this story more times than I can actually remember, I figure it’s about time that I immortalised it in print. This has two benefits: first of all, the next time somebody asks me about it I can write down this site’s address, slip it into their shirt pocket and slap them on the shoulder in an overly familiar and slightly condescending manner, saving myself time and energy while simultaneously reinforcing my image as a huge wanker. Secondly and perhaps more importantly, Jess – who has heard the story approximately seventeen-and-a-half bajillion times – will no longer have to restrain herself from choking me to death every time the story needs retelling.

But what is the story, Tim. What’s it all about. Well, I’m glad you asked…

Continue reading Matter Of Fact, I’ve Got It Now