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Recording an album

Closet Organ

This past week, we headed up into the beautiful Scottish hills to spend three days (four nights) recording our first (and probably last) ever album. We had planned to put down 9 tracks, but ended up doing 12 – a task which has rightfully been described as ‘fucking mental’.

We did it though; fighting through the actual literal blood, sweat, and booze induced tears to record the various guitars, drums, bass, vocals, and random noises that will make up the release – even managing to throw in our first gig as a full band, supporting Living Body at Glasgow’s Broadcast.

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This picture was not staged.

Everything started out well enough, with excitement at the prospect of having a dedicated, proper studio space to spend time recording in for a few solid days.

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We celebrated with our traditional Goldschlager.

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And even the scenery was beautiful.

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Though the less said about the…

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Scotland, get ready to fight

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Earlier today, we woke up to the terrible realisation that the UK had narrowly voted to leave the European Union. This was an outcome that I ultimately expected, but facing the stark reality of the situation has still left me feeling numb, and in shock. Opening my eyes to see ‘Nigel Farage declares independence day’ and ‘British Pound drops to a 31 year low’ on my phone’s lock screen is something I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to forget; reminiscent of a dystopian nightmare rather than reality.

To make things worse, the dogged, often proud ignorance of those smugly celebrating victory in the immediate aftermath has been staggering. As I write this, I am overlooking the City of Barcelona, and being here only renders the sadness even more palpable, and even harder to believe.

However, this is not a drill. This is the real deal. Like it or not…

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making stuff

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I’ve not posted much recently, but I’ve been busy making stuff in the background.

My pal Lee left a bunch of his pedals with me to try out, and in amongst them was a kit to build an octave-up fuzz. I decided to put it together (and discovered how handy a multi-meter is at the same time).

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When I realised how straight forward it is, I decided to have a bash at building my own signal splitter pedal as well, to take one input and give three separate outputs at the same volume.

I didn’t want to just leave the enclosures bare aluminium, so started to look into ways of painting them. After reading endless advice online, I decided to just get some spray paint suitable for metal, and use a varnish over the top. I didn’t bother sanding the cases down, as many people suggest – so we will…

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House Of Cards Season 4: The Annual Binge Watch

Yearly House of Cards binge with my darling!

The Big Picture

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It can’t be a coincidence that the season 4 debut comes out right in the middle of the primaries. This elegant timing by the producers only adds to the hype surrounding the return of this epic political drama.

Carrying on from last years tradition, my boyfriend and I held our House of Cards day, complete with deep-South inspired snacks, where we vowed to dedicate our entire day to binge watching the full season.

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I’ll be the first to admit that I was a little disappointed with Season 3. After the unforgivable murders of both Zoe’s Barnes and Peter Russo in Season’s 1 & 2, the stakes were high for Underwood to deliver another killer move (pardon the pun). Sadly, that moment never came, and the episodes plodded on slowly. However, it becomes apparent upon watching Season 4 that the writers were simply biding their time and building up to…

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Darkest Dungeon Top Tips

My quick blurp on Darkest Dungeon that I posted yesterday has been my most popular article to date. When writing I never expected such a response. Following suit to my previous post I through I would outline my top 5 tips for players new to the game.

1. Death is Inevitable

The nature of Darkest Dungeon boils down to you vs. the game. The game will do its up-most to knock you down and beat you black and blue. During your initial dungeon runs if a party member is below level 3 then I wouldn’t bother to much if he/she should fall as they can be easily replaced. Party members at level 3 should be given more care keep them alive as they will be prime candidates to receive upgrades to fight back against what the dungeons throw at you.

2. Don’t Squander All Your Money

During the initial stages of the game I wouldn’t bother upgrading your town until you have a lot more gold in the bank. Upgrading the town is expensive and the benefits gained from the upgrade can’t really be utilised properly until you have around 60-70k in the bank.

3. Bring Enough Supplies

Always prioritise spending you hard earned gold on getting/having enough supplies for your next run. There is nothing worse than running out of food ¾ of the way through a dungeon and have to deal with the stress and after effects of hunger when you could have just purchased those extra 4 at the start of the run. Below is a helpful overview to give to the base supplies required for each run.

Short: 8 torches, 8 food, 1 shovel, 2 bandages, 1 skeleton key.

Medium: 12 torches, 16 food, 2 shovels. 4 bandages, 2 skeleton keys.

Long: 18 torches, 24 food, 3 shovels. 4 bandages, 2 skeleton keys.

Sometimes I change the keys or some herbs or antidotes depending on what run I am about to jump into.

4. Take your Time

There is no need to make a split second decision in Darkest Dungeon. Think about what you are about to do think about your party members positioning, think about the enemies position. Consider your moves and try your best to turn the tide of battle in our favour.

5. Use an Occultist

She’s the only real healer and has got me out of many a sticky situation by keeping those on deaths door standing.

 

To wrap it up my tips my I would say have a backup party so should your main crew need a rest you can easily swap in an out counter-parts of similar skill. Currently my main part consists man-at-arms heading up the front line followed by a crusader. My 3rd slot sees the most change but at the time of writing I am using a jester for his stress reducing abilities finally an Occultist at the back to heal my party when needed.

Darkest Dungeon Review

Darkest Dungeon was available in early access for just over 1 year before it’s official launch a few weeks ago on January 19th. So while the title indicates that this review is a first impression, it is more my thoughts on version 1.0 rather than first impressions on a game which has been around for a fair bit of time.

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Having signed up for the early access to Darkest Dungeon, I previously racked up around 3-4 hours of play but then made a conscious decision to stop playing. Various aspects of the game were still changing on a frequent basis, so I figured I would wait, biding my time for the game launch to complete it, which in my view is the best experience.

If I had to describe Darkest Dungeon in a few words, I’d say it is a side scrolling Dungeon RPG in which the game tries its up-most to make you lose.Set somewhere in 15th-16th century, Darkest dungeon is a game about management and taking risks, pushing your luck where you think you can and dealing with the consequences when that game hits back at you for pushing to hard. You are the player and as far as story goes are tasked with restoring an old man’s manor. The only problem is that the depths of hell have spilled out below the manor and taken over the surrounding cellars and grounds. You assemble a party of 4, based on many different classes available and set out into the Darkest Dungeon to reclaim what has been taken away and left to rot.

The first thing you realise is how much the game is against you; at every turn you are taking damage, be it a blow from a cult zealot or from looting treasure from a cursed wardrobe, you are always fighting an up hill battle to survive and keep your party alive. Darkest Dungeon works on both health and a stress mechanic. Health is as you expect. Should a party members health reach zero, they die. Stress brings a whole new element to contend with, for if a character gets to stressed then he/she can develop a bad trait that will in turn bring the rest of the party down resulting in more stress and potentially more bad traits.

Darkest Dungeon looks great, taking its art style from graphic novels it provides an eerie feel as you wander the depths of the manor trying to stay alive. So far, I’ve played about 12 hours of the game. I’ve been taking it slow, trying not to lose anyone along the way and thinking about each move before I decide to commit. For the most part I feel I am doing well, but I have a feeling death in this game can’t be helped and it won’t be long before a key party member falls and I have to pull in a rookie to fill the gap.

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When I first ventured into my medium size dungeon I thought I was stocked up to take on anything, and while I had an answer for the most part, nothing was going my way. Every strike was a miss and every chance to loot some goods had some ill effect on my party. My party was stressing and so was I. Finally made the choice to flee, valuing the lives of my party over the glory of completing a dungeon. Fleeing allows you to keep all the loot you have currently gathered, but your party takes the hit of keeping any stress and ailments that were endured during the run. Some of the ailments can have dire effects on the moral of the rest of the party; for example a party member can become abusive and will shout curses and jibes at their comrades, thus in turn bring down party moral even more.

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Darkest dungeon has a nice pace that I could and have passed a whole Sunday afternoons playing. Anyone who enjoys a good RPG dungeon crawler or rouge like games then Darkest Dungeon is for you.

XCOM 2 – Initial Impression

February 5th has arrived. Any PC gamer who keeps there ears close to the ground, or should I say eyes close to the screen, knows that today is the release of XCOM 2.

XCOM 2 is the squeal to the 2012 BAFTA award wining strategy game XCOM more specifically XCOM: Enemy Unknown.

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Although I am no stranger to combat strategy and RTS games, I’ll hold my hands up and say I have never played an XCOM game before. I’ve watched XCOM on streams and I’ve had no end of recommendations telling me XCOM is a must have for any PC gamer, but I just never got round to it. When XCOM 2 was announced I promptly added it to my steam wish list, patiently waiting on the release date to come to break my XCOM virginity.

As I launched the game, I was greeted to the usual menus you would expect to see in an AAA game in 2016. I went straight to video options to ensure I was playing everything on maximum graphic settings. I fiddled with the sound levels to get them on my preferred levels. Upon launching a “New Game” I was presented with the difficulty menu. As a new player, I went straight for Iron-man mode, as having watched many XCOM streams I figured this was the mode for me… No that’s a lie. Having never played an XCOM game before, I selected Rookie like the little bitch noob I am.

The game begins with a standard tutorial teaching you the basics, i.e. how to move and shoot while ensuring you have any understanding of the UI. The tutorial does a good job of getting you into the swing of things quickly and unless you are a die hard XCOM player, then its probably best you give it a quick run through. From what I’ve played, at no point was I confused about what is going on or what I’m trying to do.

During the tutorial I lost two of my squad, and I am still trying to work out if that was meant to happen as part of the tutorial to educate you on how cut throat the game can be should you make the wrong decision? In the end, the tutorial was done and I progressed into the 1st cut-scene that will lay the ground work on the story to come. The cut scene itself looked great but it was a little lost on me. Having not played the first game, I didn’t have the back story to appreciate what was happening that I guess most others would, although it doesn’t take a genius to work out what roughly went down.

The game play is excellent. It flows well and looks great, from the characters and the cover your ducking behind, to the enemies you blasting from afar, giving you the polished feel you would expect from a AAA. A major bonus these days is that the game so far for me has run without a hitch, which for some developers and publishers is a big ask.

I took a tour of my ship which acts as your main command hub, visiting the various rooms to see what could be done while not fighting the baddies. Upon visiting the Command Centre, I jumped into my first mission and got my first experience of that XCOM magic. It took me 3 attempts to beat the first mission, jeez. The first attempt I lost most of my guys in a fire fight and when power core (the mission) blow up it killed my last 2 squad members resulting in a fail. During my 2nd attempt I faired better but just didnt have my guys in the right place to get the core before it blew. By my 3rd try, I had it down and was getting the hang of things. I lost one man to mind control but for the most part it went without a hitch. Feeling good after getting through the 1st mission. I took my promotions and jumped straight into the next and aced it. Every move I made, every shot I took was going my way. I was slaughtering enemy’s left night and centre and the feeling is great when a well thought our plan comes together.

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As it stands I’ve played just shy of 90min of XCOM 2 now. While I would say this isn’t enough to give a full review, the initial impressions are excellent. The game looks great and runs without a hitch and is a blast to play. In a time where massive RPG’s and short multi-player focused FPS’s reign supreme, it is great to sit back down to a good combat strategy where I don’t need to make split second decisions and can take things slow to ponder my moves and think about what will come next.

When I started writing this initial impressions review, I said i would keep it sort and sweet and on that note we’ve come to an end. This is my first attempt at doing a game review; while I have been a PC and Console gamer for many years I’ve never tried anything like this. All comments and advice are welcome and on that note I’ll catch you all later. I am away to play some more XCOM 2.

If you want to watch my 1st hour of play then check out the youtube video below: