Uncategorized

Rape Clause Ruth and the Missing Tories

You know, its actually difficult to write this post.

Rape is such an emotive subject that it is difficult to try and maintain any kind of impartiality. However it is the nature of the beast that when writing about politics, especially in Scotland, one must try to put party preference to one side.

Today’s debate was regarding the 2 child benefits cap and the so called “Rape Clause”. I call it a debate and this is perhaps being somewhat generous, after all, a debate is defined as:

a formal discussion on a particular matter in a public meeting or legislative assembly, in which opposing arguments are put forward.

You see, the problem was that today’s debate might as well have been a discussion, defined as:

a detailed treatment of a topic.

torybag

I say this because the Conservative party may as well not have turned up and sent a punching bag from the nearby boxing gym in their place as they refused to turn this into a debate. Their refusal to take a single intervention, or to put forward an intervention was akin to watching a punch drunk boxer taking hit after hit and had it been a fight I am certain that the referee would have put a stop to it long before Angela Constance put the final blow into the semi-conscious conservative party.

By that time they had already taken some opening jabs from Nicola Sturgeon before Kezia Dugdale stood up and floored them in the first round with a heavy right hook. The situation got no better and the guard put up by Ruth Davidson was flimsy at best as she tried to divert attention away from the Tory glass jaw, claiming that decisions were hard and that the form in front of her appeared to say wildly different things from the form in front of every other member of parliament.

ruthie tank commandeer

Of course this defence was swiftly breeched and a barrage of punches landed in true Mary Nesbit style by Sandra White had the lifeless Torys on the floor again. Other whopper blows were landed by Chrstine McKelvie, Alison Johnstone, Alex Cole-Hamilton and Ben Macpherson. The referee should have stepped in already before Ross Greer stepped up and proceeded to humiliate the Tories by offering space in his speech time for any Tory to get up and offer their input. An offer that was met by the sound of distant crickets chirping from the Palace of Hollyrood House.

crickets

In fact, the biggest defendant of the Tory party punching bag in Hollyrood today was the deputy presiding officer Christine Graham who on multiple occasions had to hold back the braying dogs waiting to get tore in about the rare Tory willing to put their head above the parapet.

You see today I managed to set aside my loyalty for the SNP and I embraced to cross party condemnation of what can only be described as one of the most disgusting political policies I have witnessed in my 31 years on this earth. I was in high school and was taught that Chinas 1 child policy was so backwards and yet here I am in Scotland in 2017 and we have what in effect amounts to a 2 child policy for those that are not making above average earnings. Then, to cap off this preposterous policy add in the (surely impossible to enforce because no service provider, health worker, doctor or midwife is willing to touch it with a ten foot pole) Rape Clause and I am certain I have fallen into an alternative reality. I would usually use this mess to espouse the virtues of independence for Scotland, but in the spirit of cross party unification, even just for this one day I will let it go.

Advertisements
Standard
Uncategorized

All Aboard the (political) Crazy Train

So today has been a bit interesting hasn’t it?

I awoke this morning thinking that it was going to be another slow day. Final Fantasy XIV was having some routine maintenance done so I thought I would plod along with Mass Effect Andromeda. Then it happened, a notification popped up on my phone. Sky News. The PM will make an announcement at 11:15. So at 11:10 she decided that starting 5 minutes early was the best idea and that was the least strange thing to happen today.

May Vader

So Ms May has decided to call an election on June 8th. Little over 50 days away. How this is even workable is beyond me. After all, postal ballots need to be printed, dispatched and returned yet nobody knows who is going to be standing yet. As this was completely unexpected campaign teams have had no time to finance let alone gear up for an election, not to mention that June 8th is slap bang in the middle of A level season and a good bunch of schools will be used for polling stations.

That however is enough of the practicalities. Lets look at the reasoning behind the Prime Ministers decision to call this snap vote.

rb-composite-elections-tweets

Ms May is as shrewd as they come, she full well understands that a working majority of 17 is not going to be good enough to get through the kind of Brexit process that she is planning. She also knows that Labour are currently in crisis. They have a leader the grassroots love but that the actual politicians despise. This internal power struggle between the Blairite right and the working class left means that they have come across as disorganised and, frankly unelectable.

For Ms May this is the perfect time to try and perform a power grab and scoop up some Labour seats and get a majority that gives her the power to overwhelm even a small-scale internal revolt within the Tory party when it comes to Brexit.

https _blueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.com_uploads_story_thumbnail_43108_fde80212-2a8b-4503-87a7-a242ca68746f

What about Labour then? With many in the party not wanting to run while Mr Corbyn is leader the chances of pulling off the win look pretty bleak. 51 days is not enough time to get another leader in place so that plan is off the table. The best they can hope for is that the polls, some of which show them behind by as many as 20 points, are wrong and that the grassroots members that swept Mr Corbyn into power can translate into electoral success.

How about Scotland? The political map of Scotland is a dazzling shade of yellow at the moment and that seems unlikely to change. Labour will hope to cling on to its 1 remaining MP in Edinburgh while the Torys will be hoping to consolidate its border holdouts. The rest of the map seems unlikely to change.

286F5C4D00000578-0-image-m-146_1431065211300

The next 51 days will define the country as we know it. Tory rule could last a decade or more unless Labour can find some solid ground to stand on. The future of Scotland and Northern Ireland will need to be decided shortly thereafter. Another landslide for the SNP would surely make a second independence vote a certainty, some within the independance movement are calling for a unilateral declaration of independance should the expected landslide materialise. Fantasy maybe, but it leaves the union on shaky ground. What happens when the Northern Irish, who are fresh of the back of an election, return with only a minority of unionist MPs? Their own destiny will need to be decided post Brexit. One thing is for certain. The next 51 days will be anything but boring,

Standard
Uncategorized

I’m Back

So after a 2 year hiatus from writing I have decided that I need to get back into it and start putting down some thoughts on paper. Or pixels. Or paper then pixels. You know what I mean.

I have long loved talking politics and gaming and that is what I will continue to do here. There may be sprinklings of wrestling and assorted pop culture but it will mostly be the 2 mainstays of gaming and politics.

Thank you for reading and I will have an update soon. After today you know its bound to be political…

Standard
Gaming

The Last of The Last Guardian? Or the Beginning of a New Guardian?

Today it emerged that Sony have not filed a trademark extension for “The Last Guardian”, The follow up to the critically acclaimed Shadow of the Colossus and Ico.

The much maligned title from Team Ico was last heard from in December 2014 when it was announced by director Fumito Ueda that it was “moving forward under completely new conditions”.

The-Last-Guardian

Now, looking at this from an independent standpoint, it could be interoperated from Uedas comments that “Completely new direction” includes a new name. After all, The Last Guardian has become as synonymous with delays and mis-management as Duke Nukem Forever, and we say what a giant let down that turned out to be. So it may be that the original plan and concept for The Last Guardian was so impossible for the studio to complete that the name itself became baggage, an albatross around the studios neck if you will.

Of course there is always the possibility that the intern responsible for renewing the trademark screwed the pooch and forgot to do it. Either way, I will reach out to Sony and see if they can shed any light on this development.

Standard
Gaming

Life is Strange – Have Telltale Met Their Match?

Today saw the release of the first episode of the Square Enix published, Dontnod games developed interactive movie Life Is Strange. As a fan of the Telltale games like The Walking Dead I was curious to see what a big publisher could do when it puts its funding behind a developer with new and interesting ideas. Dontnod were the developers of the dystopian adventure game Remember Me which was met with praise for its inovative story and underlying ideas but came in for criticism for some of its mechanics and combat system, Problem solved then with their follow up then as this game has no combat as such. What it does have however is one of the most unique story telling devices I have ever seen.

01see1825480_01

You start the game as 18 year old (who I would have mistaken for 13 had it not told me in one of the character bios) Max Caufield, a photography student who is back in her home town after a number of years away in Seattle.  Max quickly discovers that she has an ability to go back in time, but not back in time like Back to the Future style, she can only tun back time for a few minutes. Enough time to change the way she spoke to someone but not enough time to create any temporal paradoxes. You can use this mechanic to see how dialogue choices play out allowing you to change the choices you have made. Think of it like the rewind function in something like Grid where if you mess up a corner you can take it again.

life-is-strange-screenshot-23_1920

The development team have managed to work this into dialogue choices, but also into some puzzles what require you to investigate how outcomes will play out to allow access to blocked off areas. The puzzles themselves are not too taxing but they allow you to work your brain a little bit without sitting stumped for hours on end.

034923

Graphically Life is Strange uses a beautiful art style that gives enough realism to draw you in but retains a cutesy drawn kind of aesthetic. Surprisingly for an interactive movie type of game there are a multitude of graphics options in the settings menu allowing for a variety of computers from potatoes to high end rigs to run the game and enjoy the story. Evidently the devs have spent a lot of time working on the dialogue and the film making cues to capture life for an 18 year old girl. Certainly one of the most striking things for me was how the games use of camera angles and character body language made you feel vulnerable in the face of authority. The game world itself feels alive and very well fleshed out. Walking down a high school corridor every NPC you walk past is doing something and all of them have the option to interact with them or find out more about them from your characters point of view. This works well in making the the world feel alive and allows you to experience the feelings of helplessness as a fellow classmate is bullied and you are have to walk on by.

Overall I have been very impressed by this game so far. I had pretty low expectations if I am being honest but the storytelling, unique premise and beautiful world have really drawn me in. I can’t wait for March when I can get my hands on episode 2!

Standard
Gaming

Ubisoft and the Great Key Removal of 2015

I awoke this morning to news that was… disturbing, but perhaps not surprising. It appears, judging by the Ubisoft support forum that the company has decided to remove games from users libraries with no explanation given to the affected customers. Upon further investigation it would seem that the common denominator with all of these cases is that the games were bought from a third party key reseller, along the lines of G2A or Kinguin.

I am in two minds about this story, and until we know for sure the reason behind the removal of the games we cannot judge Ubisoft prematurely. Keys on sites like these come from one of two sources, either they are keys bought from a foreign country where the excnage rate makes them vastly cheaper than their counterparts in the UK/USA etc, in which case Ubisoft would be really out of order in removing these games from customers libraries. We live in a global market nowadays, having keys region locked because of a currencies fluctuation is terribly bad business, but one in the gaming world we have become used to over the years.

The other source of keys on some of the key reselling websites are keys purchased with stolen credit cards. I am not accusing G2A or any other key reseller of specifically selling keys that they know to be purchased fraudulently, but I can see why companies like Ubisoft would cancel the keys they know to be purchased this way. After all, the credit card company will have claimed back the money from Ubisoft, so they are well within their rights to cancel key code that is now on the market that they have not been paid for.

But where does that leave the unsuspecting consumer who has bought one of these keys? Well, if you buy keys from anywhere other than a legitimate distributer you run the risk of these keys being stolen and likely to be cancelled. But how can you tell who is a legitimate distributer? It is getting harder and harder and its not as if the developers websites have lists of authorised distributors. And even if they did how can you tell if a key you get from any website is legitimate?

It is a hazy area as keys can be resold at any point until they are activated. I believe the only solution is to have time sensitive key codes that would only be active for 24 hours from purchase so that if they key is bought by a reseller with a stolen card by the time they are likely to have sold it they code will have timed out and be inactive.

However it does not answer the question of the consumer. These people have bought a game, rightly or wrongly, from a reseller. Some of them will have known the risks of buying from these places, but many other less savy consumers will have undoubtedly punched in “Buy Far Cry 4” into Google and been directed to one of these websites. They are the ones who are being harmed here and it is my belief that Ubisoft and other publishers need to find some way to deal with these victims fairly. What that solution is remains unclear but removing games from peoples libraries with no contact what so ever is doing Ubisofts already tattered reputation no good at all. I will update this article as more information becomes available and I have reached out to Ubisofts PR department in the UK to see if they can shed any light on this situation, until then Ubisofts woes seem to have carried over from 2014 into the new year.

 

UPDATE – 15:13 UK Time. 

G2A have responded to our request for comment with the following statement:

 

G2A selling only legitimate codes. If some customer have issue with his key, he should contact us about that matter and we will do everything to solve this issue. 

 

So for any readers who have had issues I would recommend following their advice and contacting G2A at support@g2a.com

 

UPDATE – 17:32 UK Time

Ubisoft have been in touch and have released a statement about the situation. Their statement is as follows:

 

We regularly deactivate keys that were fraudulently obtained and resold. In this case, we are currently investigating the origin of the fraud, and will update customers as soon as we have more information to share. In the meantime, customers should contact the vendor from whom they purchased the key.

 

So they direct you back to the vendor you purchased the key from. Hopefully they will have a further statement in due course once they have completed their investigation. In the mean time it appears your options are sit tight and see what unfolds, or contact your vendor and see if they will offer a replacement or refund.

Standard
Gaming

Final Fantasy XIV – 2.5s New Dungeons

Tuesday saw the 2.5 patch for Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn go live. The last major patch before the Heavensward expansion in the spring brought with it one new dungeon and two hard mode reimagining’s of existing dungeons. So lets take a look at them and see what they brought to the table.

Ff14-midgardsormr

The Keeper of the Lake

The new dungeon sees our Warriors of Light travel to Mor Dhona where the cries of Midgardsormr have been heard coming from the former lake. This fantastic dungeon harks back to the story mission dungeons Praetorium and Castrum with imperial troops and machines to defeat before heading up into the final battle with Wyrmking himself Midgardsormr. Or rather, the spectral effigy of Midgardsormr and his two minions.

FFXIV_Tomberry_King2

Wanderers Palace Hard Mode

The hard mode version of Wanderers Palace takes us back to the palace of Nym and the Tonberries there are under attack by Mamool Ja. While the layout bears quite a lot of similarities with the original Wanderers Palace I feel that this worked well and brought back memories of this place being farmed to death back in the early days of the relaunch. This time we don’t fight the Tonberry King who was slayed the last time around, but Manxome Molaa Ja Ja, a giant Mamool Ja who has taken up residence in the Tonberry Kings Chambers.

FFXIV_Wallpaper_1280x1024_Demon_Wall

Amdapor Keep Hard Mode

We venture back into the depths of the Twelveswood to take on the hard mode of Amdapor Keep. Filled with Ochus and all manor or corrupted creatures the hard mode of Amdapor Keep is probably the most challenging out of the new dungeons brought in with this patch. It is certainly lighter on story than the other two but the fun mechanics of the fights and the alternate routes around another oft farmed dungeon make this an interesting run through none the less.

Overall I felt the new dungeons were well designed and well implemented, but they were also somewhat lacking in challenge. A reasonably geared group can power through them with little to no issues and a well geared group can ignore some of the boss mechanics entirely. What it lacks in challenge it makes up for in familiarity with the two hard modes bringing players back to the end game they will have farmed at the launch of A Realm Reborn and the Keeper of the Lake bringing memories of the last of the story raids. I feel that this was an intentional move on the part of the design team to show that the 2.x series is at an end and has come full circle, back to the dungeons you started with and ready for the 3.x series to be ushered in by Heavensward.

Standard