The List of Shame

It’s woefully out of date. I have actually played some things, but I’ve also been evil and added (many) more. I’m going to sit down tonight and update it, then dress in sackcloth and ashes for a month and actually stick to it. 2015 was insane for gaming.

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Robinwood Best Bitter (clone)

So, I’ve finally tracked down what appears to be a fairly accurate reproduction of one of my all-time favourite beers. It was a plain ol’ Best Bitter made by a brewery called Robinwood Brewery. They operated for a fairly brief amount of time, between 1988 and 1994, but produced what I believe is the best session bitter I’ve ever had.

I haven’t tried this recipe yet – it’s next up on my brew-days schedule, so I’ll report back with the results, but the recipe is:

4.75kg Maris Otter Pale Malt

250g Crystal Malt

10g Chocolate Malt

Straightforward mash profile – 60 minutes at 67 degrees, followed by a mashout and sparge at 77 degrees.

Next up is a 75 minute boil with 40g of Challenger hops added at 75m and 15g Challenger hops added in the last 15 minutes.

Yeast used will be a Safale S-04 English ale yeast.

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Fallout 4

fallout4_ps4_boxfront-ee-01_1433339891Readers of this blog will most likely be aware that this came out 🙂 It’s pretty much the only thing I’ve been playing of late, on account of it being fecking great. There’s been a bit of mud slinging about it (mainly from Kotaku), so I thought I’d mention a few of the gripes along with my response to them;

  • “It doesn’t look any better than Fallout 3.”  I suspect anyone claiming this hasn’t played Fallout 3 recently and are relying on memory.
  • “The gameplay is too much like Fallout 3.” Yes. That’s because it’s Fallout 4. People love Fallout 3 and want more of it. So Fallout 4 is more of it. If it was different, it wouldn’t be. I’m kinda amazed that I feel the need to explain this.
  • “It’s really buggy.” An easy one; No, it’s not. Granted I’m only 40 hours in, but I haven’t experienced anything other than the occasional oddity (something’s arm clipping through a door – that kind of thing. The kind of thing you get in practically every big game). No frame rate issues, not save-eating crashes. No crashes at all, in fact.

But moaning aside, how is the game? Magnificent – it’s just as vast, engrossing and addictive as its forbears and it’s currently eating all of my spare time. I’m hoping it’ll keep me going until No Man’s Sky appears.

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State of the Synth


Current Modular


Updated 19/11/15, on account of these things having a habit of… growing.

So, is a handy site. It allows you to populate standard sized cabinets with modules you own or are planning to buy. This is as handy as a handy thing for a number of reasons – mainly because it’ll let you see how much rack space a module takes up and – importantly – it keeps a running total of the amount of current your setup is drawing which is useful for avoiding stressing the power supply.

Anyhoo – here’s my current setup. Click for bigness.



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Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

Bague in Rath Heart armour

Bague in Rath Heart armour

So, I have a tradition of creating a female character called “Bague” in Monster Hunter. I’ve been doing it since the PS2 days. I need to stop it. I’ve just spent a LONG TIME farming Pink Rathians to make the Rath Heart armour set. And I look like a cupcake.

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Chilli Con Carne

ChilliesNothing complicated here – no weird and wonderful chillies that you need to travel 50 miles to buy. All off the shelf stuff, but tastes amazing and gets better after a couple of days.

If you decide to make a huuuuuuuge pot of it, either portion it and freeze it or heat the whole pot every time, adding a little water.

If you’re feeling exotic, finely chop and couple of habaneros and add them and cut back a little on the chilli powder. Serve it however the hell you like – rice, chapatti, tacos, enchiladas, your call.


  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2lb (900g) minced beef
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • chilli powder to taste – minimum of 2-3 tbsp
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp each salt and pepper – optional – season to taste at the end
  • 1 x 5oz (140g) can tomato puree
  • 8fl oz (250ml) beer
  • 15fl oz (450ml) fresh tomatoes, blanched skinned cooked and sieved – she right passata FTW 🙂
  • 12 oz (350g) cooked or canned red kidney beans , rinsed and drained
  • 50g-ish dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids, chopped


  1. Heat the oil in a deep saucepan and cook the onion until softened, about 5 mins.
  2. Add the beef and cook until browned, breaking up the meat with the side of a spoon.
  3. Stir in the garlic, brown sugar, chilli powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Add the tomato puree, beer and passata and stir to mix. Bring to the boil.
  4. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 50 minutes.
  5. Stir in the kidney beans and chocolate and simmer 5 mins longer, uncovered.
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Now Playing

There’s a now playing page. Up there, in the middle of the top navigation thingy. Gonna keep that up to date with what I’m doing, methinks.

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Too many games!

It’s getting ridiculous. It really is. After my prolonged ennui – in part caused by a lack of anything new and interesting and in part by my ridiculous Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate obsession – I’ve found myself up to my eyes in amazing titles. Admittedly, this is at least partly down to the magnificence of the new 3ds and the PS4, but regardless I’m struggling to keep up. My list of “Things that I’m actually playing right now” currently looks a bit like this:


  1. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (3DS)
  2. Xenoblade Chronicles (3DS)
  3. Tomb Raider Definitive Edition (PS4)
  4. Toukiden: Kiwami (PS4, Vita)
  5. Final Fantasy X Remastered (Vita)
  6. Elite Dangerous (Mac)
  7. Apotheon (PS4)
  8. Don’t Starve (PS4)

On top of these, titles which I’m kinda sorta playing but have been distracted from are (wait for it)

  1. Alien Isolation (PS4)
  2. Bloodborne (PS4 – not even started!)
  3. Destiny (PS4)
  4. Dragon Age Origins (PS4)
  5. Evil Within (PS4)
  6. Shadows of Mordor (PS4)
  7. Heroes of the Storm (Mac)

On top of that, on the 3DS alone there are another dozen games and about half that amount on the Vita that have fallen by the wayside. The problem here is I’m doing too many at once. The trouble is that things like MH4U, Elite, Heroes of the Storm and so on are as near open-ended as they get. So in order to dig my way out of the mess, I’m going to focus on two games at a time and try my damnedest NOT TO BUY ANY MORE (until No Man’s Sky comes out). To keep me honest, I’m going to get back to my Game Diary entries before I drown in it all. So here’s the rules: at any one time I’m allowed to be playing a “standard” game and a long-term game. Long term games I’m allowed to play for an arbitrary number of days before switching to another one, but “standard” games need to be completed before I start (or continue) another one.

So – my current “standard” game is Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition” (which, I might add, is exceptional.

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2014 in review

Well, it’s that time of the year, folks. That time where I blab on endlessly about my favourite stuff that I discovered in 2014. As ever, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s stuff that was actually released in 2014, just that that is when I discovered it. Though obviously some if it actually is new.

First, though, the year itself. It was very much a year of two halves, with the first half being, well, shite on account of a whole lot of misery and death. Things picked up later on, though, and for the most part ended well. As usual, I’m going to separate into movies, books, games and music. I’m doing music last cos ye gods it was a busy musical year.

So, without further ado, here are my things of the year.


2014 was an odd year. I rediscovered a lot of my old favourites this year, as well as seeing some new ones. I also watched a whole pile of bloody awful crap. My favourite, though, was an easy (if not popular) choice. My movie of 2014 is the almost universally hated Child of God. Based on one of my favourite novels by Cormac McCarthy, the movie tells the story of Lester Ballard, a dispossessed, violent man whose life is a disastrous attempt to exist outside the social order. Successively deprived of parents and homes and with few other ties, Ballard descends to the level of a cave dweller as he falls deeper into crime and degradation. It’s not a nice movie and it’s not an easy movie to watch, but it is a good movie.


2014 was the year I finally told George R. R. Martin to get lost after realising I’d just read a 4 page description of the inside of a cell. Life is too short. Really. I haven’t read much this year, mainly due to spending so much time wading through Mr Martin’s overly-wordy nonsense. But there is a winner though. The title is an oldie, but not to me. Dolores Claibourne, by Stephen King.


Surprisingly, I’ve played quite a few this year. If I was looking only at hours spent playing, then Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on the Nintendo Wii-U and 3DS would have to win the prize, clocking up some 300 hours of gameplay and a level of OCD not experienced in this household for a long time. But it’s not about hours spent. The winner, by a country mile, is the sublime The Last Of Us: Remastered on the PS4. The gameplay, the story, the voice acting, the cinematics, everything about this game is perfect. I can’t even say “if anything it was too short/too long” because it took exactly the time needed to tell the story. And spoilers notwithstanding, it’s one I can see myself playing again (once the pain goes away :)).


The biggy. Every album on this list is absolutely magnificent (in my opinion) although there’s obviously a bit of range in terms of genre, musicality and general shoutiness. I’ll outline each briefly.

Alestorm – Sunset on the Golden Age. Pirate metal – fast, melodic and fixated on alcohol.

Amon Amarth – Twilight of the Thunder Gods. Folk metal – driving, shouty, and powerful.

Avantasia – The Mystery of Times. Progressive metal – varied, beautiful.

Blackbeard’s Tea Party – Whip Jamboree. British folk. Quirky and with virtuosity.

Brymir – Fire to the Sun – Folk metal – staggeringly epic.

Ensiferum – From Afar – Folk metal – arguably more folk than metal. Shouty at times.

Evil Scarecrow – Galactic Hunt – just sublime. Parody metal but done with real skill and humour.

Harp and a monkey – All Life Is Here – British folk. Haunting, beautiful and very regional 🙂

Noah Gundersen – Ledges – American folk. Modern, melancholy and very catchy.

Orphaned Land – All Is One – An Israeli power metal band. Very powerful, very melodic and a beautiful blend of East and West.

OSOG – Cowboys from Ukuhelle  – Folk? Rock? Something? Mental.

Rainbowdragoneyes – The Secret Mirror – 8 bit metal madness. Just plain silly.

Sabaton – Heroes – No idea what genre, except metal. Good metal.

Sonata Arctica – Pariah’s Child – More power metal – a great comeback after a disappointing previous album.

Tuomas Holopainen – The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck – something really special. The guy who does the orchestration for Nightwish doing a story close to his heart. Mainly orchestral, beautiful and powerful.

*Wayne Cantwell – Gathering on Persimmon Hill / Of Mice and Frogs. American old-time folk on banjo, mountain dulcimer and fiddle, with a bit of singing too.

*Wintersun – Time I – Folk metal – astonishingly beautiful despite extreme shoutiness.

So how do you pick a winner out of that lot? With extreme difficulty is the answer. As I said above, these are all fantastic albums in their own way and every one of them is worth seeking out even if you don’t like the genre – if only to broaden your horizons. I originally thought I was going to end up saying “They all win cos it’s too close to call!” and then I thought I’d get it down to five, but it turns out, out of all that varied stuff going on up there, there is a winner.

My album(s) of 2014 are Wayne Cantwell’s old-time American folk albums – for a simple reason. It’s not only the great songs or the great playing, it’s the heart and the honesty he puts into them. We’ve all heard most of these songs before, either by folk singers or in movies, but never with as genuine a voice as this.

You can buy the albums here. Go – stop reading this. Buy.


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Destiny! Destiny!

There is no escape for me!


Anyway, I caved and bought a next-gen console (in addition to the Wii-U -.-). Usually, I need a critical mass of games I really want before I’ll splurge on a console, and I never got there with the PS3. So far, though, must haves on the PS4 for me are Shadows of Mordor, No Man’s Sky, The Evil Within, Alien Isolation, Silent Hills, The Last of Us Remastered and, of course, Destiny.

So, I’m about a week in and I’m in love with the game. I can see where the next-gen-ness comes from. Not just the graphics (although ultra-pretty, ultra-smooth-framerate and huuuuuge draw distance is nice) but in the AI. The enemies are just fecking sneaky. The game itself is all kinds of awesome and is constantly surprising me with just how huge it is. It’s ticking all the right boxes for me, especially in the “if you can see it you can go there” stakes.

So, in short, very happy. Currently running a warlock at level 14 and getting more engrossed every day.

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