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Monday, 31 December 2007

Supremely in Command entering 2008 [Am]




As we approach the year end, it should be noted that we did a lot of varied gaming this year - probably more than any recent year or perhaps in any year since the clan formed. As also noted (in part) elsewhere in the game of the year blog for instance, we've seen this in PC and console based fun; the advent of the fantastic Wii controller and the amazing gameplay dynamics that releases in games like Super Mario Galaxy, Guitar Hero a-plenty, some fantastic FPS orientated games such as BioShock, COD4, Crysis and then a variegated host of other console based games. Latterly of course, Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance an RTS of all things for heavens sake has become a bit of an obsession.

But who are these fools playing this RTS I hear you cry. Can we trust them at all? Surely they must be wrong for I know I hate RTS's...... well... as copied from the rather reclusive wiki, I give you this cast of characters. Would you put your trust in them?

Currently playing SupCom: FA
  1. Lurks - AKA Dr RTS, Professer Template, The ACU With No Name, Cheating Hax0id Fucknugget. Has been playing RTS's since 1784. Has a clue innit. Currently ably assisting the fundamentally challenged to learn this game. Also currently remarkably restrained at telling others that they don't possess said clue. Mostly.
  2. Pod - A gamer, even when only at 50% due to the onset of combined necrotising fasciitis, smallpox, bubonic plague, ebola and west nile virus or something. AKA The_Bloke_With_The_Laptop_From_Hell due to his 4^H386 cpu when it comes to co-op with maps more than 9 feet square or unitcaps > 12. Playing co-op with Pod in such circumstances is not unlike freewheeling down a steep hill on a sunny day with the wind whistling round you only to cycle headlong into an outstretched tree-branch.
  3. Muz - can do economy, and military... just not at the same time. Sekretly wants to be the best at this game. Will not stop until the Lurker falls.
  4. Beej - turtle/tech. Loves tac missile and flying engies and SACUs around. ACU most likely to take his ACU on a charge into the enemy base. Breaches etiquette in doing so. When Beej captures ACUs, the whole world sits down at the peace table... its a shame he's never captured an ACU.... probably sits down at his word processer and writes terse security-reports on the situation after the fact starting 'I TOLDS YUO SO!!!! IT'S ME!!!!! WE'RE ALL DOOMED!!!'.....
  5. Am - is probably really good at this game. In a parallel universe at the present unfortunately.
  6. Brit - Justa bout getting to grips with handling AI rushes. Likes turrets. Enjoys a good Strategic Bombing. Warned off the game occasionally for the sake of preserving a harmonious loving relationship in his domestic environs.
  7. Slim - Currently lurking around in single player and will not play multi-player until he is sufficiently good that he feels that he can pass off his ability as being related to natural_gaming_skillz. Will not be believed by anyone.

I hope more might join us in the New Year. And while we're at it, lets do a few more New Years wishes;

- World Pea....oh furgeddabouddit

- Continued gaming creativity from the industry. You've all done very well. No really you have. Have a sherbet dab. Now get back there and code up some more you mishapen monkeys

- Rorz gets a decent computer

- And Pod :)

- Most of the rest of us get some clues

- More Lans - NewYearLan / AmLan V etc

- The Tenth Anniversary Bash!

- P00nage!

- 0wnerage!



Happy New Year!

Air Vice Marshall Sir Gerald 'Tin Legs' Amnesia FFS, WTF, OMFG and bar

Thursday, 20 December 2007

The Boss of all Bosses [Shedir]



They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them.



Paraphrasing Laurence Binyon may seem course, giving his poem is about war heroes. But I'm just back from the 02 arena. Where I watched my one time absolute no hold bars musical hero, utterly own the stage.

Ladies and gentletypists, Springsteen was quite utterly awesome. I've seen him a few times, not as many as I'd have liked thats for sure. Manchester a few years ago was fantastic and it helped I was only a handful of rows from the front. But vocally last night, he belied his age.

Time was rolled back, for him and the audience both. They came out and blasted out anthems from the new album Magic but, as per, the old material drew on a more poetic Bruce. and a more involved audience. Bruce's writing ability belied his guttaral efforts at singing, I'd given up on the old man a while ago that brown jug stuff just wasnt what I want(ed) to here.

For me his voice was gone, with it the passion he put to the very best of uses had banked low.

Well, whatever he was on last night. When I'm 60, get it on IV.

I saw him nearly 20 years ago in the SECC, without the E St Band. He blew me away with his energy in a no frills show, which split my hands from clapping and left me unable to talk properly for 4 days from bawling.

Last night wasn't like that, I was in the 4th floor and halfway round. But how I envied the folk in the VIP section, the thing that scunnered me most was it wasn't full. You could see these bastards jigging about with room to spare. While I, I who've loved his music since I was 14 and was given the river by a classmate in english, was stuck up in the gods with oxyen cylinders and sherpas for company.

No gimmicks, no suspended bridges. No dancers, no pyrotechnics. No 3d holograms, nobacking tapes or any of that chiccanery lesser bands employ.

A ball breaking, arse numbing, damn near 3 hour marathon by the hardest working pensioners you're ever likely to see in your life. Some of the newer material fell flat, one singalong died on it's arse because the song was poor. Lil Steven jumped in when he realised the crown didn't know the words.

But it didn't matter, when the crowd got too noisy behind us. The band pulled out "racing in the streets" and 20,000 people fell silent as he wove a spell of pure magic over the "big big room".

If he could only put that passion he feels onstage into the studio, he could sing the phonebook and have sales which would make opec shudder at the vinyl required.

This trip cost me a fuckload of dosh, I wouldn't spend this much going to pretty much anything else. I didn't go to Seville to see Celtic in the uefa final. I've not followed scotland all over the globe,but hand on heart I don't regret a penny.

There's still tickets at the emirates, I'll probably go again. But fuck the security and fuck what it says on the bit of paper I'll be clutching. Because next time, I'm gonna get as close to the front as I can and let those years fall away.

Maybe a little staged, with the VIP punters handing the hats out at the end. But even Santa Claus is coming to town worked damn well and gave a fair old giggle and Miami Steve's daft headware. You may know him as Sil from the Sopranos

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Soundbridge Homemusic [Slim]



For too long I've been enviously eyeing devices like the Squeezebox, desparate to set my mp3 collection free of my pc and mp3 player, but the 180 quid price tag was simply little too high for me to justify.

But I recently spotted the Pinnacle Soundbridge Homemusic on Amazon for 40 quid, and stone me if it doesn't look like the audiophile fave Roku Soundbridge device. A bit of googling, and it turns out this is indeed a Roku Soundbridge with the big screen replaced with a two line diddy thing and a cheaper remote. Big screens rock and all, but this thing is 140 quid cheaper, and ticks all the boxes.


So now I have one, working, and it's bloody lovely. Needs a firmware update first off to get you on wifi wpa security, but it's got a little SD card slot that make that pretty painless. WPA key entered, it's found my upnp server (twonky), and suddenly all my tunes are available via the soundbridge.

Can it really be that easy? Seems so. No addional client software installed or required if you're already doing some upnp, so I've now got the same libary shared out to me xbox 360 in the living room and me soundbridge in the dining room.

What's more, as this is actually a roku device, all the online roku shit works a treat. You go to Rokuradio, it finds your device on your lan, and shows you what it's playing. Want to preset some radio stations to buttons on the remote? Do it via the web, now the device is truly wife freindly; "turn it on dar, and press 1", that's it. Here's how my presets are set up:

1 - Radio 12 - North Pole Radio (it is xmas!)3 - Radio 7 (for the kids)4 - xfm Manchester5 - Manx Radio6 - Radio Paradise

The last ones a bit of a new find for me, but after tuning in, they played Radiohead, Jose Gonzalez, Coldplay and the Stone Roses, so it's a keeper!

Problems? Well the screen is small, so navigating huge collections is a drag. It does have a nice search facility though, and you can skip forward one alphabetical letter at a time through any list, so it's all well thought out.

Playlist support is also a bit wonky, tho that might be twonky rather than the Soundbridge. It's also fully reliant on tags rather than file names, so I really need to spend some time sorting that stuff out in my collection.

Dead chuffed tho, a total bargain for 40 notes.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Why Supreme Commander FA is like olives [Am]



supcom

Until the recent experience of Supreme Commander Forged Alliance, I never really liked RTS games before. Oh sure I'd bought a couple of high repute like TA: The One That People Raved About No I Can't Remember The Name and the much admired Company of Heroes. But they were a bit fffmmm, a bit hrrrmnmnmnm, simply when all was said in done (and I do recognise this was probably down to me before you load up a transport, add two supporting gunships and start to build experimental anti-pe0n tech), well to date I simply found them a bit meh.

I also never liked olives until I was about 22. Distasteful things that could wreck a martini by simple immersion and would make me look at attractive women eating them and think 'why didn't you just stuff a worm in your mouth instead for all that has just done for your attractiveness, you and your soiled cakehole?'..... Olives this is, rather than an RTS game. You can't fit a CD in a martini glass nor in the mouth of that average woman can you, slot-loading or not?*

And then one day you suddenly decide you like them. Hey I quite like playing this. Good grief this could work on a pizza. And common to both - there's black and green ones here all over the place and I've got no idea what the difference is, better get stuck in and see....mmm....wonder if you'd get an adjaceny bonus with an anchovy?

I've no idea why I like it. Perhaps one of the old hands could tell me that I've matured (may be largely disputed to which I say pfffffffftttt b1t3 meh l00z4rs) or is it substantially different / more action orientated? But whatever the reason, I do like it. I like the multi-dimensionality of considerations; thought, planning, awareness, interaction, mouse-action, scroll-viewing, guessing, scheming, fearing, advancing, retreating, plotting, revising, re-arranging and nuking the living fucking drilled shit out of alien scum lords.

And more specifically yet, while the co-op is suffering a little under the strain of collective processing and netcode, it has to be time for us to get with some pvp 2v2 or 1v1 even. I'm up for it and I've improved. Who dares risk their reputation, yay verily even tonight, for an Amwhupping?**

--SupComAm Out--preparing an intergalatic-can of azzwhupp--transmision ends--



* although there was this girl at the University of Bristol who could put her entire fist in her gob but that wasn't terribly attractive either for your normal bloke let alone those scientific types reading Desmond Morris who would tend to get especially queasy at the biological allegories.

** Lurks need not apply for 1v1 unless I stab him in the eye with this here spare olive stick.....

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

The Definitive Once-And-For-All Best 90's Albums [Catalyst]


Since we're in the mood, I thought it might be interesting to see how the top 5 90's songs lists correspond to the top 5 albums of the 90's. Seeing as a single song might be top notch, but the rest of the album might not be up-to-par, I suspect the lists will be slightly different.

My top 5 albums of the 90's are as follows:
  1. Pearl Jam - Ten (Not a surprise, I expect)
  2. RMB - This World Is Yours (Yes, the the album is really that good, Am ;))
  3. Prodigy - Music For The Jilted Generation
  4. Faith No More - King For A Day, Fool For A Lifetime
  5. Korn - Follow The Leader

The Definitive Once-And-For-All Best 90s Song List [DrDave]



I wanted to be more extravagent with the blog title, something epic and awe-inspiring to properly mark the creation of the Definitive Eat Electric Death Top 5 90s Song List Ever erm, list. But sadly Beejtech can't transmit more than 30 characters, so we'll have to make do with what would fit in the box. I find it helps if you imagine it in neon.

So, we've had 7 years to cool down from the cultural mayhem that was the nineties, time to reflect and ponder on what was one of the most creative and artistically fruitful decades in all history. The decade that gave us "Doop" and Timmy Mallet's unique take on the old pop-standard "Itsy Witsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini".

I think it's time to pack that decade away into a crate, place it in a lead lined container and bury it five miles below the antartic ice shelf personally. But before we do, we must formulate amonst ourselves a fitting eulogy for a musical decade. And what better way to do that than to fashion a Top 5 90s songs list, in the best EED tradition?

Here's mine. I'm not sure it's in any particular order:
  1. Tender - Blur
  2. Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana
  3. Even Flow - Pearl Jam
  4. Right Here, Right Now - Fatboy Slim
  5. Loaded - Primal Scream

Come now clan, express!

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

xbox 360 divx upnp goodness [Shedir]



M&S don't do honeypot blogs, but if they did it'd be like this one. Anyway.

MS have added divx playback to the uber xbox 360, FAQ here, now I had loads of problems with windows media player 11 sharing my stuff. So rummaging around the net and slims head, a solution has been found!

TWONKY! A upnp server which is multiplatform, a doddle to setup and a breeze to use from the 360 side.

So I plopped it on my old mac last night to see how it went. Good god, no bother at all.

Open mac web browser 127.0.0.1:9000 to configure twonky, no linux terminal shit at all. Added the 360's IP into twonky as a device, I don't think this is strictly necessary but it didn't work unless I did that, then bosh. Movies folder shared. I watched an xvid but divx wasn't put in the update til this morning.

Reports from our agent in the field, Dr Dave, indicate that it works a treat though. Downside is twonky is 20 quid, not the end of the world but still maybe a free one can be found. Get sniffing readers.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Game of the Year 2007 [Slim]



Very hard year to pick out a single title, there's been so much superb shit this year.

My game of the year is Super Mario Galaxy (wii). It's just so fresh feeling vs the cynical wave of first person shooters that all seemed to arrive in the same month, it's re-invigorated my love of gaming and underlined the fact that it's gameplay that matters, not hardware power. A perfect sofa vegging console experience.1st runner up: Orange box (pc). Got weeks of pleasure out of Team Fortress 2 in particular, and portal was wonderful, best ending ever. Ep2 was a let down in comparrsion but still loads of fun.2nd runner up: Bioshock (360). In the end it was System Shock 2 lite, far too easy, but so well put together that it really didn't matter.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Scotland died laughing [Slim]



Tributes are being paid to Scotland this morning after the entire country laughed itself to death.

The alarm was first raised at around 10pm last night as thousands of phone calls and text messages went unanswered.

Small groups of volunteers from Berwick-Upon-Tweed and Carlisle ventured north just after midnight only to find houses full of dead people gathered around still blaring television sets.

By dawn, as RAF helicopters flew over deserted city streets, it was clear that the whole country had suffered a catastrophic abdominal rupture.

Wayne Hayes, a special constable from Northumberland, said: "We went into one house in Dunbar and found three men sitting on the sofa with huge smiles on their faces, still holding cans of 70 shilling. They seemed to be at peace."

He added: "In a house near Edinburgh we found a man face down on the living room floor with his trousers and pants round his knees.

"It seems he may have been showing his bare bĂșttocks to the television when he keeled over."

Roy Hobbs, a civil engineer from Northampton, said: "I got a call from my friend Ian in Stirling at about 9.50pm.

"He was already laughing when I answered the phone, but after about 25 minutes of the most vigorous and uncontrollable hilarity, everything suddenly went very quiet."

Moving tributes are already being placed along the Scotland-England border with many mourners opting to leave a simple bag of chips or a deep fried bunch of flowers

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

When your Hero Goes Mad [Lurks]


Jeff Minter recently had a bleat. Which is newsworthy for us since our hero and inspiration for the clan name itself is non other than the Yak himself. He's bleating about the fact that Space Giraffe on XBLA was outsold by Frogger:


"not seeing a ot of reason to continue even trying to make games, at this point, when a remake of Frogger, one of the worst games in the history of old arcade games, can outsell Space Giraffe that we put so much love and effort into, by more than ten to one, in one week.""OK, we get the message. All you want on that channel is remakes of old, shite arcade games and crap you vaguely remember playing on your Amiga."


I have to say I find this more than a little odd. The Yak has basically done virtually everything he can for much of his career to make sure that his games are played by as few people as possible, leaping from one crap defunct platform to another. He's also gone to absolutely no lengths whatsoever to make his games approachable by people who are not familiar with his psychedelic musicolour type background.

With that in mind, why on earth get upset about a game now that's a remake of an arcade game. I mean let's be clear, most of Minter's classics were themselves remakes of arcade games. In terms of genuinely coming up with a new game, he's just never done it. He takes arcade gameplay and then makes the graphics nutso. It's well and good but quite clearly it's not going to be as popular as one of the most famous arcade games the world has ever known. Buying into his own bullshit perhaps?

The last bit is just as rich really. Vaguely remember playing on the Amiga. So let's lambast the entire retro gaming scene, only the genre which actually gives succor to his self indulgent game development career of late, and take issue with the exact flavor of crap old arcade remake they want to play.

I think it's about time the Yak got out of bed in the AM and smelt his own rancid wet fur. Maybe look out the window, realise it's a new era and maybe it's time to get a shave, play some modern games and see what people are really doing these days. Assuming he wants to earn an actual living from this stuff.

You can be an ecentric nutjob, and you can wear your heart on your sleeve (as they did when faced with the tiniest bit of reasonable constructive criticism on their forum), and we'll still love you. There's a place for that but everyone has to have a dose of commercial reality out there and not just believe that their own whacky out version of reality ought to do well because it's really good man.

Yak dear chap, if you want your games to actually sell, you might want to look outside the legions of forum yes-men and groupies who are looking to you because they vaugely remember playing something you did on some old computer. I think XBLA is a fine place for the last of the backyard coders (when the fuck are Introspective going to do stuff on XBLA?!) but gaming has moved on since Tempest and Trip a Tron. Mostly there's just more games, so if you hide all your stuff underneath piles of impenetrable psychedelia then most people will simply wander off to play something they know they will like.

Most of all, though, I'd say you just need to walk away from Space Giraffe with a bit of humility and respect for the audience. I wanted to love Space Giraffe desperately but it just didn't quite work for me. So learn from it. Go off and listen to people (without spinning into a forum tantrum) and work out what CAN work on XBLA. I think we're receptive to a Llamasoft game. We'll definately try it when I wouldn't try any crap like Frogger (I mean come on, that's HARDLY your audience is it). You just need to pick your socks up and bounce back with a better executed game that people can largely pick up and play because that's what XBLA is about.

I know you can do it. I've still got faith in you. All you need is a little more patience and a little less emo.

Friday, 16 November 2007

PC Gaming madness [Am]




As Clan Electricdeath is populated by battle hardened PC gaming veterans, it is safe to say that between us, we have seen a game-drought or three. Many times over the years has our cardre of wan-faced listless silicon sailors sat becalmed in the Sea of Nothing-Worth-Playing idly flicking at their mainbraces and wondering how to catch the cabinboy (little Jim Rorz) with his pantaloons round his ankles for want....of....any....just.....*any*....entertainment.

Somone forgot to tell October and November 2007 about that then.

In the space of five weeks we have had the release of The Orange Box featuring Half-Life Epsiode Two, the rather spiffing Portal and a little multi-player game called Team Fortress 2. Then we get the astonishing looking COD4, Gears of War for PC and FEAR Perseus before mentioning that today I was in a queue with eight people all holding a copy of Crysis and that in 7 days time we have a little number called Unreal Tournament III clambouring up the gang plank.

God knows when us scurvy dogs are supposed to find the time to play this all (I still haven't finished the truly excellent and criminally under-regarded MOH Airborne which was also out this year) but lets not stop 'em while they are at it.

And when you come to think of it, Dave found PROJECT:IGA as well *and* we held more than fingers-of-one-finger lans *and* we went to the Isle of Man *and* the clan started playing competitive games as well again after a 7 year brief breather.

Blimey. 2007. A bit of a pearl then. Arrrrrrrrrrrrr.......






Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Pay as you Throw? [Lurks]


Looks like we're set for a pilot of a pay as you throw scheme whereby you are charged for how much waste you produce. I'm a little baffled by that because it would seem that it's being said the scheme must be 'revenue neutral' so the coucil doesn't earn any extra money. Then surely what this means is that small households such as a couple like us, end up paying less while families pay more. That doesn't strike me as completely unreasonable.

However I think I have to take issue that just throwing this all onto the consumer ends up helping the issue of the amount of stuff thrown away. I'd really like to see a two-pronged approach with the government also 'going after' business. These are the real bad guys when it comes to rubbish with the mountains of unnecessary packaging and, a bugbear of mine, unnecessary paper communications.

I recently switched to Virgin credit card, for example, and I swear it's ridiculous the amount of paper junk they've sent me. Loads of things trying to sell me on this or that, duplicates too, booklets of rubbish, paper statements (which I don't even want, it's 2007 ffs) and the list goes on. And then there's the stupid plastic and cardboard packaging for everything. You don't have to buy much at all to end up with virtually a bin full of assorted plastic and cardboard. I mean even a goddamn cable in a box has to have a cable tie around it and then put inside another plastic bag. Why?!

We're pretty good recycling wise. We compost what we can. We recycle everything the council accepts. Yet I feel like it's basically companies working against our best intentions, fulling up our bins with crap.

I'd like to actually see companies face a levee for packaging and for paper communications. If they want to do it, sure, but it'll cost them. Then with the economics turned around suddely they'll make the effort. Just like companies made the effort to get everyone onto Direct Debit for billing when it became apparent they wouldn't be paying credit card clearing rates. Hit them in the pocket and they will comply.


Quad Core, do we need it? [Lurks]



There's an increasing industry momentum behind quad core processors. Which is what you'd expect since Intel wants to drive up the average price of the processor they ship in PCs and PC manufacturers are happy to have some new feature which drives up average selling prices and margins too. The situation is such that I've recently read reviews of things like gaming PCs where the authors have complained that the PC doesn't have a quad core processor. Despite the fact that in reality, for games, a dual core processor is cheaper and faster because generally you get a higher clocked unit for less money.

The popular 'wisdom', if you can call it that, is that game developers will come to grips with multi-core processing and there's all these games around the corner. However this has been said for quite some time now, remember dual-core processors have been on the market for an absolute age now. Even the supposedly multi-core and extremely CPU intensive Supreme Commanded ended up being a pigs ear. They made the game highly threaded but then didn't balance the threads across processors.

Most games, eg outside of the RTS genre, simply don't have a lot of things going on which lend themselves to offloading to another thread. Physics is one of the biggest ones, which is one of the reasons add-in physics cards are stupid. PCs have spare CPUs doing nothing in them as it is. Now the Crysis demo is out and they couldn't even be bothered to make that use anything other than a single core.

There's a solid case for a dual core processor. For a start the second processor is on the actual die. With absolutely no game support at all, generally your game runs on one core and Windows balances its own internal OS threads out onto the other core. Video encoding too, this works brilliantly on dual core. And of course most people end up only doing one CPU computationally intensive thing at once. That loads up one core, leaving the other for making your desktop and other apps responsive.

Current Intel quad core processors are actually two dual core processors in the same package and the power consumption ends up shooting up to around about the last generation of processors anyway. I think it's quite nice to have a fairly cool and quiet PC and that's a solid benefit of Intel's dual core stuff.

The news today is the launch of the new ridiculous extreme edition 'Penryn' quad core QX9650. This is a cool chip, don't get me wrong. It's got some nice enhancements and fabricated with 45nm, it's cooler, has more space for loads of cache and sports a new SSE4 which is something which absolutely can be used in games (in video drivers particularly). It's burning up benchmarks. Yet what's inside is basically two 'wolfdale' CPUs. It's that which is what we really need but of course if Intel are going to wrangle PR out of launching the new architecture it's going to be on-message with quad core stuff.

On the power side people have pointed out that the QX9650 used about the same power under load as the previous generation, the E6750 in particular. I'd rather take a processor that's able to offer more performance and use half the power, rather than adding another two largely underutilised cores. And I'd rather not pay for them too, given this part will likely cost in the region of £600 upwards. While the E6750 costs a meagre £117 and can be overclocked, easily, to outperform the QX9650 comfortably in games.

The thing is, the industry momentum continues. People benchmark this processor in countless reviews and they largely go for benchmarks, or at least feature heavily, those which show a clear benefit of quad core processors. Yet that's nothing at all to do with what you will be doing with your actual real world PC.

Why can't we put a stop to this. Enough is enough. Quad core when the software has caught up to even dual core. Give us 45nm dual core processors now, that don't cost £600, that use less power than the chips we're using now. It's high time that the whole industry of enthusiast hardware editorial journalists stopped trying to sell up the latest and greatest and actually got back to what matters to people who actually use computers.

Monday, 29 October 2007

PC vs Xbox 360 [Lurks]



A decade of gaming under our collective belts and I think there's one issue I've been yelling at people to sort out all that time. Microphones. This was brought home to me recently in reading someone's review of Valve's Orange Box and TF2. They said they prefered to play the Xbox 360 version purely because it was likely you could communicate with people in game. They're right too, most publics are silent with the occasional talker.

Our server is very heavy on voice comms but even so, at any one stage I'd say 50% of the server don't have microphones or wont speak. It's funny, we said there's no way they'd allow 360 users to play with PC players because PC guys with their keyboards and mice would annihilate the console guys. However one thing I've noticed on the PC is that you can basically call out the losing team right away (if you're on it) by the complete lack of anyone talking and coordinating things.

It loses you games, quite a lot. I was getting highly annoyed with a team I was on last night because none of them deigned to tell us where they had gone when picking up the enemy intelligence. Naturally they were then killed somewhere, who knows where. Now we can't get the intel if we want to, it's not in the intel room, it's some random place along the way being camped by enemy until it returns.

It wasn't like it was one guy. Multiple guys came in, picked up the intel and carried it another 10 meters before dying. All without saying a anything. The chap who wrote how he prefered to play on the 360 spoke about the TF2 heavy/medic pair. The medic is often another pair of eyes that needs to call out where bad guys are lest he get taken out first. On PC, from what I've seen, it just doesn't happen.

So I thought an interesting excersize is this: Have a team of Xbox 360 players with voice comms go up against a group of PC players with no voice comms and see how they get on. Of course it's not practical because Valve haven't provided a mechanism for that but it'd be interesting to see.

And of course the handicap on the PC side is entirely user created. It's amazing how just making a microphone as standard on Xbox Live has done the trick. I guess you reach a critical mass and everyone realises oh, I just put this on my head and talk just like everyone else and they just do it.

On the PC you've got to go out and buy a headset. Then you've got to get it working in Windows, which is a complete fuck up - has always been a complete fuckup. Then get the levels right so that you aren't inaudibly quiet (very common) or completely distorting out (very common) so that you may be heard. You'd think it wouldn't be a problem for PC gamers, used to higher levels of complexity and faffing about with their gaming, but evidently it is.

The thing is, lots of people can be bothered and you know what, they tend to be gamers who do give a fuck and who, coincidentally, you want playing on your server. Not just because they tend to be more clued up, more tactically aware, it's the social issue too. It's almost as if what we want is some sort of cvar set on the client side if they have got a headset configured and working. Then the server can test for it and not let people join who haven't got a headset sorted out.

Impractical on many levels since microphones are purely analogue. And it'd require Valve to do something on this front and it's clear they will not. So that just leaves it down to human control. We're working our way towards a sort of white list, if you like. Where everyone in our Steam community has a reserved slot. Generally we invite people to the community if they are >14 years old and they talk etc.

It's still nowhere near there though. Howling on the MOTD blatantly wont work. What would? [Microphones required] in the hostname?



Fatlash USA [Slim]





Doctors apparently aren't doing fat people any favours by telling them being fat is bad for your health. This is the USA 'fatlash', a fat backlash vs what they think is unfair discrimination vs their weight, there's a video covering the rebelion on youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDakFfLQDF4

There's even a lobby group, http://www.naafa.org/ - national association to advance fat acceptance, who basically get together and tell each other how pretty and wonderful they are. That's all well and good, but let's be realistic, if you stop telling people it's bad to be fat, won't people be inclined to do nothing about it?

There is some hint of the truth here, however. Simply telling fat people to get thin or they'll die really isn't always going to help, and for many obese it's going to make things worse. There's many complex reasons why people are obese, and dealing with these issues effectively simply isn't happening in the main.

Saying it's fine to be fat isn't the right way either though, obesety does kill after all.



Saturday, 27 October 2007

Crysis demo [alfa]









crysis



Filled with anticipation i download and install, it starts up. I then realise its EA and developed by someone as well, i dont know who, my brain goes blank. The reason i dont know who is because my mind is RAPED by an endless avalance of unstoppable fucking logovideos. After about an hour of abuse the actual game starts and a menu system is presented to me, "Woooo" i thought, lets change the keys! "Space" would be nice to use for secondary fire, lets get it done!

Except instead of changing the keybinding i get a warning, you know the most annoying thing EVAH, the kind that says the key is already in use. Mildly annoyed i click ok, i really do wanna change it. Then that fucking box comes up yet again, and again. FOR THE SAME FUCKING KEY!!! DIE YOU USELESS FUCKIGN TWATS DIE, DIE IN PAINS THAT WOULD LURE MEL GIBSON WITH A CAMERA TO YOUR HOUSE YOU FUCKING PLACEHOLDERS FOR PROPER HUMANS DIE DIE DIE!!!

I quit. Of course another fucking ad one cant close down gets thrown in my face. And just to add insult to injury there is no uninstall shortcut.

Why were these people not on the top floor of WTC on 9/11? Why?









Thursday, 25 October 2007

The Dumbledore Closet [Lurks]



I don't really much like the Harry Potter books. JK Rowling spins a decent enough yarn but I prefer adult writing when it comes to my valuable reading time. I have, however, enjoyed the movies quite a bit. I mention this so I'm not putting myself across as a Harry Potter expert by any means. However when JK Rowling outed Professor Dumbledore as being gay, this raised a number of issues.

One interesting reaction was the Christian nutjob who come along and claimed Rowling is wrong, Dumbledore isn't gay. Which is a pretty startling position to take being as, you know, she wrote the stuff but then again these guys having read and enjoyed all of Rowling's works do tend to claim it's because of the built-in Christian themes, but then they tend to say that about anything they like. I think we can all agree that's a fairly ridiculous position to take.

However it did raise a point I thought had some merrit. Just why is it relevant or even, in a sense, true if after 800,000 words it was never deemed to have been worthy to mention. This is a bit of a can of worms. It was suggested by one person at least that this is because they're children's books. I don't quite understand why the subject of homosexuality has to be a something one needs to be an adult to learn about.

We're not talking about rampant cock sucking here, we're talking about one man's love of another. Why the hell shouldn't children learn this. Interestingly ever-liberal BBC doesn't seem to have a problem relaying the news on the children's BBC web site. Of course that's not to say that vast swaythes of the world would not have a problem. So it comes down to the reality that it was probably an expedient decision in aid of selling a lot more books.

I do think it demonstrates a lack of bravery though. To use this sort of revisionism to make a point about sexual liberation in this way. Rowling skillfully didn't just show up on a podium and say "I have an announcement to make", she did wait until actually asked about Dumbledore's past but I'd ask readers to be understanding of the circumstances of the Rowling empire. A suitable opportunity in the form of a question was going to come up and you're damn right she was ready with this particular answer.

As a dabler in the art of fiction myself, I think it's pretty poor form to come in after the fact and explain away anything that isn't there in text. Works of fiction ought to be, in my opinion, treated like pictures where it's not necessary for the author to explain what you cannot see before you. If you interpret it in a different way than that which it was necessarily thought of (I avoid the use of the word intended), then what you are doing is gently moulding a story into your world view in order to assimilate it. And that's a good thing.

If you feel you're making an actual point about the matter concerned, it should have been in the books.

About the best analysis I've subsequently read is by Times journalist John Cloud. Cloud makes two particularly salient points. The first of which is that Dumbledor's lurking in the proverbial closet ends up betraying a kind of integrity which would appear to be out of character. Secondly, there's many out there saying this strikes a blow for gay pride but does it, does it really?

Here you have a character who basically remained in the closet, loveless, romance unrequited for his entire 115 years before shuffling off his mortal coil. That's a pretty sad thing really, any which way you look at it. It's hardly a moving fan-fare for the heroic life and times of a gay man, fiction or otherwise.

I don't think it really makes the kind of point which I assume Rowling was trying to make with the announcement in the first place but really betrays of her a rather backward and tragic view of homosexuality combined with almost a cynical lack of courage of conviction. It feels a bit like your grannie saying she's not racist, really, but the darkies ought to put down their spears.

Better, I think, to agree with Cloud's final proclamation:

"...it would have been better if she had just left the old girl to rest in peace."

Well let's just hope that heaven has a special place for gay men with plenty of cock sucking and bumming going on so Dumbledore can finally learn what he missed in life :)

Monday, 22 October 2007

Ubuntu (2) [DrDave]






I've been here before. I've been here before many times. I liken my vigil to that of the dutiful village elder, the custodian of an ancient tradition and keeper of prophecy. Since time before reckoning has he undertaken a yearly climb to the summit of the mountain fortold in a vain search for signs of the returning King. Every year does he climb, every year does he return forlorn and despondant. "Does he return Greybeard?", the people eagerly ask. "Neigh gentlefolk", he replies, "neigh".

These ten long years passed have I maintained such a vigil. Though I look not for signs of a hero's return. Rather, I quest for signs of a viable desktop OS replacement. Okay, this is far less romantic, involves considerably less climbing and means that I can continue this blog without the tiresome archaic-o-prose.

That's better.

Vista is a pretty tired OS, don't you think? I've got it on my laptop, have used it for about 4 months and I find myself distinctly unarroused by it. I don't hate - in fact, it feels just like a re-skin of XP. It doesn't seem to do anything particularly revolutionary though, it just kind of exists (and sometimes wobbles). Boring. But underneath that flacid facade, there beats a sinister heart. The not-so-subtle introduction of such mechanisms as WGA and DRM have left me thinking that my mantra of "never pay for an OS (but give generously to charity)" will no longer be a workable philosophy. Don't get me wrong, I'm still down with MS, I just reckon it would be nice to have a choice in the matter.

Linux has never really been that choice though. An over-enthusiasm for editing config files and a community populated by those insufficiently perfumed gentlemen for whom a dollar sign is an acceptable substitute for a captial-S... These elements do not combine to make an operating system you could happily give to your Ma to look up scone recipes with.

But it's getting there. With last weeks release of Ubuntu 7.10 Linux took one large step in the right direction. For the record, there are two main reasons why I usually give up on Linux:
  • Lack of comprehensive hardware support. I always seem to end up sacrificing something - be it proper 3D drivers, Bluetooth, power management or something;
  • I miss two or three core programmes from Windows - replacements exist, but they're just not as good. Programmes like Digiguide or Mirc;

For the first point, it is too early to tell whether this release is the one to cure this problem. Certainly the install worked brilliantly and within 20 minutes I had rebooted into a fully configured OS with everything apprently working. I would even go so far as to say that this surpasses the ease of setting up Vista (for this laptop anyway, which needs a whole world of proprietary drivers). Gimme a couple of weeks and ask me again.

The second point is really what this blog is all about. It's not an evangelical "use this OS blog", it's really a "wow, this was pretty cool" kind of thing. See, Linux has pretty much always had Windows support in the form of Wine, certainly as long as I've been tinkering with it. But previously it had never been remotely viable - it was a pig to configure, it was temperamental, it was slow, desktop apps looked just plain weird and didn't integrate well with the systray. But there always remained a glimmer of hope...

With precisely zero optimism, I attempted to get Digiguide working under Wine. The first surprise came when I downloaded the executable. Firefox recognised it as a Windows exe and asked if I wanted to open it with Wine. Why not, I thought. Up pops the familiar Windows installer, it installs and it runs. Just like that, prefectly. It minimises to the system tray, pops up notifications and reminders and generally behaves and looks like a native app.

I'm impressed, so I throw Mirc at it. Again, it runs, installs and works. It even creates a shortcut on the desktop and in the programme menu for you. Whizzer!

At the point, I'm getting cocky, so I give it the Steam installer. I fully expect it to fall over, and don't really care since everyone knows that you need a dual-boot for Windows games, right? This is undoubtably still the case, but Wine happily devoured Steam. And to my utter bewdilerment and amazement, it downloaded and installed Portal and TF2... and ran them at a perfectly acceptable frame rate at full resolution.

Regardless of whether you use it, or could find any use for it, that is cool by anyone's standards. Look, here's a linky to an image showing it all happening:







"Greybeard, is Ubuntu yet a viable replacement as an everyday desktop OS?", the people eagerly ask. "Listen, gentlefolk, I've been up yonder mountain all night getting my drink on and now I've got a storming headache and just want to listen to some Floyd, dig?"




Saturday, 20 October 2007

The Royal Family from Spain [Am]





At present in Spain the monarchy is currently coming under sustained attack, particularly from people with regionalist interests to secure. However it is more than that - a wider debate with protests and gatherings happening throughout the country and pictures of the king being burnt in public by students. The quintessential question is, of course, ‘why do we have a monarchy’ and it’s got so bad that the king has actually gone public with a defense of why he matters:


http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1668731,00.html


I have to say that I am in sympathy with the sentiment. I am, without reserve or apology a committed anti-royalist, not based predominantly on the people who occupy the slot in the tiny irrelevant time-slice we call our existence (although I will have no problem with pointing out why they illustrate precisely what is wrong with the ‘institution’) but with the institution as a whole.In England, the origins of Kings of states (with the lowest ‘s’ possible being quite deliberate) were of course regional factionalism and straight forward fighty-fighty behaviour over utterly random aggregations of territory which bore closest resemblance, sort of, to our current counties. The King of This or the King of That or all the alternative titles, of course, now mean nothing to us at all these days. Whether they were regional barons, earls, dukes or kings of whatever bit of the country they declared ‘theirs’ and expanded and lost over centuries in a serial fashion it is now just irrelevant other than as a bookmark in history.

So back then, kings or queens were simply the highest title of the most powerful leaders of the time, particularly in a military sense because without an army of blokes who could slap the other king / earl / duke / whatever down, there was little chance that you were going to be the king / earl / duke / whatever of even your own privvy next week.In other words the origin of monarchy is simply territorial one-upmanship which related to beating the shit out of people. In the UK’s case, the origins of the current monarchy are even more bizarre than a straight intra-country series of twat-punchery. We have no straight line which explains A begat B begat C within the UK without seeing multiple countries get in on the rumble as well. Our history is littered with interventions and invitations to foreign monarchs coming over and ‘assuming’ the role of monarchy and –natch as our yank brethren would say- the subsequent fighting over regional territories.

If you would like to spell it out, the history of the monarchy (even in some sort of consolidated sense) is a bunch of people from Wessex, then the Danes who invaded, the Western Saxons who restored shit, the Normans from france who shot arrows in peoples eyes and stuff, the Plantagenets who were also French, a weird bit of fucking around with the Irish (we’re up to about 1141 now), people from Lancaster who had been pooning people from Yorkshire, then the people from Yorkshire who pooned the Lancastrians who had previously been pooning them, a short intervention by people who were distinctly Scottish, a brief period of sanity for 11 years with no King, more Scots, the fucking *dutch* or Hanovers since that was different sort of but not much, a marriage to a german in the name of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (Victoria in case you’re lost) and then a rebranding of the royal’s surname from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor because it was a place, like, during a time the germans were fucking us over briefly – and lets face it the germans knew how to pick a losing fight in the 20th century – during WWI.So….. total fucking farce….right?

No continuity other than the precedent of the last bunch had overthrown the previous bunch. Now of course, despite this, it was astonishing what could be accepted as ‘right’ to rule, not least the inestimable fear brought about by total utter religious belief and the concept of the ‘divine right’ of kings. No matter that the lot in your irrelevantly brief time slot of existence hadn’t been in place that long, the ‘divine right’ of kings made them of a god-like status. There are fantastic versions of how the populace couldn’t even look towards a king even in the 1700’s out of the sheer awe for their status.

These days, when your future king is on audio record as wanting to the tampon (no seriously I’ll link it if you have forgotten) of his mistress while he was cuckolding his pretty but incredibly dim and messed up wife, I simply don’t know why we have them at all. As I’ve established, there’s no coherent sense of history as to why they are here and I frankly find it incredibly intellectually embarrassing that a nation of largely decent people go and prostrate themselves before a bunch of no-chins in front of the world. I don’t buy tourism (republics like the US and France get tourists), I don’t buy any rational (we’ll do irrational in a sec) argument to tradition either (what tradition - it’s a bunch of disconnect peons twatting each other) and I despair of what it says about us as a nation that people swear allegiance to the queen instead of their country on getting a passport. And I despair that we put this current lot of sloane-rangers on a pedestal and pay for their incredibly privileged lifestyle. There is some sense of tradition there, considering all the flag wavers of the Queen’s double jubilee but that would be so much better re-directed at pride in the country, not pride in a bunch of over privileged and distinctly, evidentially not very bright people who, imho, might (some of them) give good service to a country (hey I bet a lot of people could do a fuck load better given that comfortable cushion and service behind them tho) but have no logical basis in being there at all.

Thirty years ago the Sex Pistols sung possibly the most ironically held lyric ever in ‘God Save the Queen’. The BBC banned it so as not to ‘spoil’ the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. Such petty, unthinking, slavish devotion was unbecoming then (I mean they said ‘God save the Queen, she ain’t no human bein’ – how fucking *radical* was that) but today the general basis is even more unexplicable. Whatever they are protesting in the streets of Spain today, I hope we get our own version too......

Friday, 19 October 2007

Dodgy TF2 Voice Comms [Am]






Sometimes you post something up for a blog which must be, logically, so covered elsewhere, previously, that it seems a bit silly. However, even tonight, several weeks indeed months into playing a cracking game or three of TF2 there were several clannies complaining about voice comms in TF2.

I don't get this since the ones over Source generally worked perfectly well. However common complaints with TF2 voice comms (and I am suffering from this on a basic mobo without any uttershite(tm) creative reverb overlining) appear to be a random application of reverb / echo on a voice or loopback and particularly distortion on input vocals from almost everyone.

I think more than me would be grateful if those with experience could explain the nature of the problems and how to sort them out.

This has been a public enjoyment aural sortage broadcast; we thank you.

The UT3 Demo sucks! [Beej]



ut3

Finally bothered to install/play. I tried out "vehicle ctf" whichfeels fairly like Onslaught.

Things that are teh win:
  • the engine, verrrry purdy and fast
  • the landscapes rulio, anything with rocks or water
  • load time to get in-game was quick
  • has some of the stuff that works from UT2k4

Things that are teh suck:
  • BLUE and RED colorising of everything hurts my eyes!
  • ...but still can't really see what's going on
  • stupid explosions
  • stupid textures on things, eg. bricks, burned metal
  • they made the redeemer shit!
  • awful main menus
  • shit map tbh, a giant bridge and some brick dojos?!

Remember when you'd buy and play UT, it was shiny and colourful (notbrown) and you'd have easy fun? This game doesn't seem to be that.Didn't try online. Suspect its a bit like playing UT2k4. Overall, I didn't enjoy this demo at all.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

What is quidco? [Beej]


quidco

www.quidco.com claims it is a cashback co-operative, but by definition I don't see how it is a co-operative other than in spirit. What it actually seems to be is a click-through referral portal offering percentage discounts off the big sellers.

But guess what... it isn't evil, and it works!

I signed up when I wanted to buy my big telly. Cost of Samsung LE37M87 1080p telly on Amazon, £830. Cost of same telly on www.dixons.co.uk, £770. Free discount code found from Googling, take £25 off that. Quidco offer 3.5% off, that's another £26 saved! Final price £745, with Quidco wiring £20 to my current account (they've already taken £5 for their annual fee... fine by me!).

And that's it. Really, that's all there is to it. They've got people like BT and the AA up there too, its not just white goods.

Look on www.quidco.com/blog/ for offers, and ensure you enter the shop you're buying from by clicking through from quidco. And if your cashback doesn't turn up, they try to track it down for you.

Pretty amazing really - a discount site that actually works and doesn't screw you over with marketing, insult you, spam you, or steal your so-called cashback.

Where fragging comes from [Beej]


kurtz

The wikipedia definition of gamer fragging is not the best article in the world. In fact, I think its pretty bad. But I came across the historical use of the term from 'Nam... is it related? I don't know.

American troops killed their own commanders so often during the Vietnam War that the crime earned its own name — "fragging."Fragging - derived from the hard-to-trace weapon of choice in such attacks, the fragmentation grenade - has varying definitions, from the killing of any superior to the murder of a soldier's direct commander to avoid combat.



So, fragging in combat is a bit like being shot by Lurker and his BB Gun, or being tk-punished in CS :-)

AP - Fragging Is Rare in Iraq and Afghanistan

Friday, 12 October 2007

eBay dodgy dealers - what to do? [Lurks]



I bought a fair amount of stuff on ebay because it tends to be odd items which are often tricky to find from regular online web shops, and I'd rather not create an account and type in my credit card yadda yadda just to buy something for a fiver. I have to say most transactions go okay although maybe 50% of them arrive fairly slowly or need some sort of chasing.

Strangely the worst treatment comes from these sort of semi professional shops operating on ebay. The problems seem to kick in when you want anything like customer service that you'd expect from a shop.

A had a recent nightmare with some guy operating as roundtheclockshop. I bought six bulbs off this chap, some kind of obscure bright ones for SAD purposes. Unfortunately I made an error and despite the fact the shop listed both ES and BC bulbs, I bought the ES ones - which were no use to me. I figured it out and asked if he'd replace. No communications days go on. I request contact details and get a phone number. Dial through a few times no answer.

Eventually I get a response - I've swapped them for you, you just need to pay now. So I do. Whammo, the useless ES bulbs turn up in the post. Great. Again just can't get email response, wont answer the phone. I'm a bit fucked really and I don't have forever to wait for this guy and his weekly e-mail checkups. So I just order some better ones of someone else (which turn up next day, bosh).

I end up leaving a neutral for this shop. It's not really their fault I ordered the wrong ones so a negative didn't quite feel justified but you know the guy did promise a replacement BEFORE I paid for the auction so you could argue the guy has messed me around too.

I post a neutral of: "Item okay but failed to send alternative product as agreed. Poor communications."

He responds with: "Item for exchange has been sent stuck in postal strike beyond our control sorry"

Which is a blatant lie. No replacements have been sent. It gets worse still, the guy then posts retaliatory negative feedback for me: "Totally unreasonable customer items sent for exchange then cancels the order."

Yes... except no items are sent and I didn't cancel the order. This guy has my money. I have product no use to me. Exactly who is wronging who here? Bottom line is that I walked into this not being naive about it. By being the first guy to cast a stone you're basically screwed on the ebay system, particular if you post a positive or a neutral. I learnt that the hard way when some dickhead left me a negative feedback after I left a positive, for deigning to simply request if I send money using electronic banking rather than writing a cheque.

However I thought about this for days and I thought that the whole system basically gets fucked up like this. No one ever leaves negatives because they don't want the negative in return. Your position of strength is simply to imply you'll leave a negative and a web shop with thousands and thousands of sales is quickly going to bury anything you send and shift their percentage a hell of a lot less than yours will be.

I thought about it some more and concluded that really I have quite enough feedback myself and any negative I get (2 out of 238 or something) really just wont have any baring on me selling something, which is the only real time that your feedback is important. So I just decided to actually do what was right rather than what was necessarily smart.

I think ebay is a useful resource for all those obscure shops using a common e-commerce system but this does leave a bad taste in my mouth. The ebay system itself just doesn't seem effective in combatting asshole dealers. It's my view, really, that if you've paid for an item through paypal right away, the retailer should not be able to leave feedback for you at all. He has a job, deliver item as described to the address given and that's that. Maybe that'd be better?

Misled on In Rainbows - the Radiohead MP3 rip off? [Am]










Well for the first time ever, I'm pretty damned dillusioned with Radiohead. As we covered extensively in the previous blog, there is plenty odd with the sound on In Rainbows. However I make no apology for starting a fresh blog here (the other got a bit techy) because this morning it has become quite clear that the band and their management knew that the sound was distinctly average. And we all know that they did not bring this to purchasers' attentions before we parted with our money.....

Anyone with an ounce of experience of mp3s and digital sound (lets make that several hundreds of millions of us shall we) is going to at least raise an eyebrow or at best get really fucking pissed off at some telling comments by the band's management in music industry publication Music Week. How do these hit you;

"Hufford emphasises that a record deal remains an absolutely essential element of the release strategy. With the music set to appear all over P2P networks as soon as it is made available in any case, the download is purely a promotion vehicle for a CD release in January"

"In November we have to start with the mass-market plans and get them under way,” he says. “If we didn’t believe that when people hear the music they will want to buy the CD, then we wouldn’t do what we are doing"

"Far from being enthusiastic about digital downloads, both managers strongly favour the compact disc as a format of superior quality. “CDs are a fantastic bit of kit,” insists Edge. “You can’t listen to a Radiohead record on MP3 and hear the detail; it’s impossible. The attention to detail on this record is remarkable. We can’t understand why record companies don’t go on the offensive and say what a great piece of kit CDs are. CDs are undervalued and sold in too cheaply.”

So I paid 8 quid for In Rainbows because I thought it was the full release and I wanted to pay fair whack to a band I like. Turns out the management were only doing as a promo to get me to buy the CD. From their own mouths. Nowhere did it say this was a promo and the specious bullshit, let's make that BULLSHIT about not being able to achieve CD quality on mp3 (or FLAC) is, as a few hundred million of us know is just not true. And I don't believe a band as sophisticated as this don't know that either.

The band's management are at pains to reassure Music Week that they are looking for a record contract and that "we want our partners {that's music industry / record companies} to earn money," Hufford adds. "We don't want to rip them off"". So what are their partner's interests? Selling product - The In Rainbows CD. So how do you protect those CD's..... well one way would be, wouldn't it, ensuring you release something that isn't going to be of a fidelity to 'threaten' those sales.

So clearly we have no clue what actually happened. But lets posit two fictional scenarios;

i) did a band as sophisticated as Radiohead sit around and go 'oh don't worry about queering the pitch for CD sales because everyone knows you can't get anywhere near CD quality on an mp3 so it's all fine' and that's the line we hear their management still trotting out (and Jonny Greenwood).

Or did they ii) go 'well of course we know you can do 320 or FLAC but...*look*.....we can't do that without queering the pitch for the CD and that's not our promotional approach - we want people to buy the CD.....' and then after a bit of headscratching did they go.....'I know, lets make it better than iTunes so we can reference that (and look 'good' relatively) but go for the worst sound quality above that low bar, which is ok on mp3 players, but won't be compromising the CD sales'.

With a band as sophisticated about gear and sound as Radiohead (and they are truly) what do you think the conversation was really like? Fucking really like......

Now MTV are running an article with some decent commentary on Fans feeling duped http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1571737/20071011/id_0.jhtml

Lastly, having dismissed my own 'deliberately fouling the pitch' theory as ludicrous conspiracy theory in the previous blog, I note the following from the management again;

"You can’t listen to a Radiohead record on MP3 and hear the detail; it’s impossible. The attention to detail on this record is remarkable." (emphasis added) .... then this....

"With recording for In Rainbows completed in June, prior to the album being mastered and then remastered to meet the band and producer Nigel Godrich’s exacting standards in September

So the mp3 160 rip you can listen to...... does that have the sound the managers are talking about with 'remarkable attention to detail' which was not only mastered but then remastered to meet 'exacting standards' of some incredibly talented musicians and their great producer? Does it fuck. And us hundreds of millions know that it didn't come about simply by ripping it down to 160.

So where exactly DOES all that distortion and the rest of it come from? If you like your conspiracy theories, have a mull over exactly what was possibly done at those two mastering sessions. Was it a fantastic 2nd mastering session that produced a fantastic sound you can't hear on your 160 rip...... or it did it go for a little special treatment in September and thereafter lots of people's special interests were feeling much more comfortably protected? OK it's pure grassy knoll but where exactly is this fantastic quality????

The good news is, this will out one way or the other. When In Rainbows is released, I will buy it (I have to - I love the music) and I will listen to how it sounds in this mystically pure unreproduceable CD 16 bit format. (Don't worry I won't get started on that). And then....well then I will have a beer and rip it at 160 with the same converter. And if I my original 160 and the new 160 are somehow strangely dissimilar with one showing remarkable attendtion to detail and one not, well then I think there will be a little class(y) action to follow.....

I trust this will never come to pass. I just can't believe the nutty conspiracy theory could be true. But reading those managers' comments in Music Week, frankly I am not comfortable....yet... and I do know that I have paid, what I considered full price for a promo that was not declared as one and one which is, out of their own mouths, an inferior product. And that is wank.








Wednesday, 10 October 2007

The Radiohead In Rainbows Experiment [Lurks]









In one bit of majorly good news we didn't anticipate, Radiohead came out and announced their latest album In Rainbows (which we didn't even know was near done) would be released soon. Today in fact. Better yet, following on from countless comments of ours on this web site over the years, they decided to embrace a pretty damn brave distribution strategy. It would be available for download with DRM and you can decide how much to pay.

That's brilliant. I only want the download and I think albums ought to be worth a fiver. I'm sure record company execs don't but fuck them. Enough people buy a digital download for a fiver and that's plenty of money in anyone's book.

There are some oddities. First of all I preordered it. Then they sent an email this morning to download it. So I did and I expected it to be slow as fuck, fully expecting to end up downloading it from a well known music torrent warez site instead (but feeling obviously morally justified). However it came down nice and fast and in no time I was listening to it.

This isn't a review of the album. It's brilliant though, a proper Radiohead album. The only real question that remains here is whether this album ends up getting to us the same way as had a record company been involved, a CD bought and then ripped. So has it?

No. There are two issues. Firstly the MP3 is a strange old version of LAME 160kbps CBR. That's a fair bit short of the mark of what anyone has been using to rip to MP3 lately. Secondly, and you know I suspect this is pretty subjective, but I suspect that with no record company to front the dosh for a proper sound studio and the valuable time of a recording engineer, the album itself sounds not quite like you'd expect.

It is, in short, very lo-fi. There's a lot of mixed in guitars with an inherent distortion to them. This done in such a way that to my ears it makes the vocals sound distorted, even though they're not. The stereo imagery is also not exactly subtle. It's like something said "this should be on the left and this should be on the right". Maybe they wanted this effect but I think it's pretty out of character with previous Radiohead albums.

So, in all, it's good news. Lots of artists are watching this and commenting on it. However the delivery could be a little tweaked. We'll get better quality MP3s at some point when the discs ship and people with a clue do the MP3 rip. However the audio mix is probably always going to sound like this. So hopefully it'll just grow on me to match the level of my enthusiasm for the superb content itself.

I do need to be clear about this though. A certain amount of the lo-fi approach I could put down to an artistic direction. So many artists have used it to good effect. I don't think it's particularly well used here, to me the album sounds like it's been produced in an distinctly amateurish way. Some of that could be put down to a pretty bad MP3 encode. Certainly it doesn't help.Portions of it sound genuinely bad which is practically a disaster and pretty sure to have record company execs chuckling into their sleeves somewhere.

Other commentators have been right, in my view, to also point fingers at the whole endeavor as being something that can only ever work when a band has made it big. And they're right too, you know. Clearly only a percentage of Radiohead's fan base is going to fork over money for something they can just as easily grab from a mate or download from a site. Yet when your fanbase is in the multi millions, and given you've just chopped out a significant middleman and, it would seem, heavy production costs too; they're probably not worried about the upcoming price rise price of a can of baked beans.

The thing is, it was basically record companies that helped them get this popular. New artists don't have the luxury of this approach. And you know, what we'd ultimately like to see is that pretty much all music is available from a single store for about a fiver (ten dollars) an album and in a variety of formats to suit your needs. However record companies don't show any sign of 'getting it' any time soon but with this, who knows. Maybe some lightbulbs will switch on in the boardrooms?

I'm guessing that for that to happen this would need to be a resounding commercial success too. And you have to wonder if it will be, in terms that a record company exec would define as a success anyway. After all, he's not going to trade in his Maseratti because the new age of music has less profit margins there for him and his ilk, are they?







Digital Delivery, The future today! [Slim]


What a morning for digital delivery! I awoke this morning, got my early net fix while eating me breakky, and what do I find? Not only is Half Life 2: EP2 and Portal busy decrytpting themselves (after a steam restart - why won't they fix that?), but Radioheads newest is also online and legitimately available to download.

I trotted to work with it on my ipod, a very happy bunny indeed!

So these things have arrived to me without transport waste, without packaging to throw away, without any installation time as the games were pre loaded and the radiohead stuff didn't need to be ripped, without any pain in the arse drm on the Radiohead album, without the need to find the cd when I play HL:Ep2. Pretty much everything we've ever asked for, right now, today.




Tuesday, 9 October 2007

The end of the Royal Mail is nigh [Beej]


rm bin

Three years ago I began our long-running blog about the declining condition of the Royal Mail in Blog 699: Die, Royal Mail, Die. Today, we’re in the midst of a long weekend strike of about four days, which is long enough for my daily life to be ever so slightly affected as sacks of mail accumulate like its Christmas.
Because the small-scale strikes have fallen on deaf ears, the Posties’ Union has revealed new strikes that are not just breaks in service, but a major rolling strike intended to maximise the disruption to the nation. For weeks not days. Who does it affect? Well not them of course, they continue to work through their backlog – it affects you, me, your Gran, your cat, and every business in the land.

Gloves are off now though, with a list of 1970s union-supported working practicesnow revealed. You may not be surprised by them:
  • Two or three hour minimum daily overtime - if 30 minutes of actual work is completed, between two and three hours' payment is demanded
  • Set overtime claimed at Christmas, even if there is no need for any additional hours and no extra hours are worked
  • No flexibility between different parts of the same sorting office - if an employee sorts letters for a particular postcode, they will not sort for the adjacent postcode, even though both activities are often in the same room
  • Overtime to cover for an absent colleague - a full day is claimed, even if only half day worked

Work shy Posties? Erm... yes! And they should be ashamed of themselves.


work


If the Union cannot be castrated, we need to sack the entire workforce.

Every single person.make them all redundant, close the business. Then, using a new organisation, let's call it Royal British Mail Reborn, make them all re-apply for their jobs. Oh by the way, there's a contract for every employee. A fair one, not a loony-left one. Like normal British people in employment. Like you and like me.

Postman, mail sorter, van driver, box throwerdoesn’t want to sign a new contract? Doesn’t want to work hard for a living? Doesn’t want to invest time and effort rather than cheat their employer out of it? That’s fine. Because I suspect there’s plenty of new European immigrants who will jump at the chance.





Tuesday, 2 October 2007

TF2 - class specific tips/guides/thoughts [Brit]


Right, so we're cranking out a TF2 blog at the rate of one a day right now, and thats indicative of just how well EED has taken to this game. What I've noticed is that I and my fellow clannies have all pretty much settled into one or two preferred classes, out of which we rarely step (unless we're literally subsumed by peons).

With that in mind, I thought now would be a good time to look at class specific tips and tricks, and then perhaps revisit them in a months time when the official launch has happened and the wider playing public get their mitts on things. So to kick off, I'll start with my favourite class and the one I'm inevitably seen playing.

The Heavy

The heavy is not a long range class; so it really isn't worth wasting ammo shooting at anyone or anything more than a few yards away. At closer range, it is absolutely devastating, with the ability to completely destroy 3-4 opposition with or without a medic in tow (although the latter is unlikely). It is worth noting that unless you have 3/4+ health before wading into battle, you should find a dispenser or medic to heal you, otherwise (and guaranteed) the first opposition you run into will pretty much screw you over completely before you can take them down.

A heavy becomes almost unstoppable at close range, due to the critical hit mechanic the game employs. Closer range engagement means virtually all your shots hit, and at the rate of fire, this means you go critical quicker than any other class (based on observation). This in turn results in most of your shots landing crits, which means you can essentially destroy the _entire_ opposition team in one go, plus all their turrets if you find them. Of course, this works best in close quarter situations/chokepoints but is a phenomenal thing to behold; personally speaking I have regularly obliterated absolutely everyone on screen in one go, all the while operating closely within the confines of the assault team.

Remember - you don't have to kill anything in order to add value. In corridor/T-junction/chokepoint situations, the heavy can simply act as a supression player, using well timed bursts of their main weapon to draw enemy attention to themselves. Even without a medic, this means that up to 3 enemy players will undoubtedly focus their efforts on taking you down - with a medic, probably more - which leaves openings for fellow team members to sneak through to the control point or grab the intelligence.

As a heavy, your most lethal enemies are: the pyro (since the tweak, these guys have become seriously annoying), the demo man (because of his range and ability to lay down a lot of firepower with area effect damage), and the sniper - two shots, even at less than 100% power, and unless you're with a medic you're pretty much finished. Note that I don't mention the spy here - there is little you can do to avoid these folk when you're moving into position.

Killing scouts is extremely easy even though the little blighters move fast and can double jump. Taking these folk down is easier still because pretty much every scout I've ever seen thinks it important to take on a heavy in what can only be described as a weird David v Goliath moment... whilst some people claim the heavy moves/turns too slowly to be effective, this is just a skills related issue - a decently spec'd machine that keeps things moving freely in terms of FPS and a precision mouse is all you need here, and of course practice. Learn how a scout's arc during a jump works because it is always the same gentle upward curve and in doing so, learn how to hammer them from the moment they take off to the moment they die - which is inevitably before they start their downward journey.

In defensive posture (i.e. guarding a control point or the intelligence), the heavy can operate independently. In offensive mode however a heavy should always be accompanied by a medic, preferably one who understands how to communicate with the heavy up front. Some pointers are: a) stay close, and right behind the heavy. Use him as a barrier as people are finally working out that its easier to take down the medic first. Understand that by remaining close, you reduce your most obvious signature - the medic 'ray' which opposition use to find your location and take you down. b) use voice comms to inform the heavy of where other players/objects are. When the main gun is firing, and ordnance is coming in, the heavy can lose the tactical 360 picture.

Now, some tips for attacking.

You've got to focus; focus on one enemy and try and prioritise based on the order in which they should be taken down: pyros first, then demo men, then anyone else. Leave engineers alone - they are easy to kill and will probably try and deploy a turret right in the middle of the battle (so just wait for the turret to begin its deployment and therefore the engineer having used up his metal to do so, and blast it).

I cannot stress this enough - it is one of the reasons I regularly end up in the top 3 "MVP" per round and in the top 3 leaderboard after a map... pick your target, and go solely after him until he is dead, or you're dead. Rely on the medic to do their job and only respond to them if they pass information to you concerning someone behind you, and only then if you've been told its a pyro or demo man. There is of course method to this...

I have seen too many heavies taken down by groups of opposition without taking down a single enemy player. This is a complete waste of time; it takes ages for a heavy to get into position, and longer still to hook up with a medic. If you're going to die, make sure you take people down with you - the overall aim is to take the objective; individual points are nice, but secondary. FOCUS on your target and ignore all else - in doing so, you help get additional crit shot %, which means by the time he is dead, you're likely to be in a position to rub out the remaining opposition with little bother.

If the enemy has gotten to a control point, do not hang back. Wade straight in and again, focus based on your target priority list. I have seen people hang back in a misguided attempt to wait for backup and consequently lose the control point. As a heavy you can cause significant damage even if you're solely on your own and your team are on their way or waiting respawn - in doing so, you reduce the oppositions group health levels, meaning your fellows can swiftly make light of removing their grip on the control point once they arrive back on scene.

So for now, thats it. In summary:

- Understand the target priority list- Focus your attention on one target at a time- Work closely with a medic and learn how to interpret the "damage indicator" flashes, and the direction they indicate- Remember the point of Team Fortress - personal glory is a bonus. Achieving objectives as a team is the goal!


Teamfortress 2 (TF2) - Fix List Redux [Lurks]



It's been, ooo, hours since we've had a TF2 blog so it's high time for another. Obviously valve continue to tweak the game with server updates. Also with more play time I think we're starting to nail down some things that ought to be changed/fixed. Here's my list.
  1. Sudden death. This needs a rework. If you're on 2fort2 and you have 2 caps and the other guy has 0 caps, when the game times out the guys with 2 caps should WIN and not have the entire thing stalemated just because some dick hides inside his spawn point.
  2. Equally, on CP maps, if it should be necessary to sudden death - by the time the timer runs down to zero, the team with the most amount of captured points should win. This forces you out of your base.
  3. Bring back FF. It was retarded to remove it.
  4. Nerf the scout shotgun somewhat. I think it has been a little so far, but still this isn't a game for teenage bunnyhoppers exclusively - they shouldn't be able to run around killing everything and every one.
  5. Spys need a backstab cooldown. It's really not cricket they can just run behind a dozen guys and kill them all instantly.
  6. Spys need a maximum number of saps they can have active at once. One spy should not be able to sap 20 engineer items thus garanteeing a bunch of gear kills and points. Spys should play as a team TOO.
  7. Server or ideally per-map specified class limits. We prefer not to have to kick people when YET ANOTHER DICK has gone sniper. Hell, it'd be nice to be able to set sniper = 0 tbh. They don't add anything whatsoever to the game.
  8. More maps, natch. Getting a bit tired of the originals. Don't care if your research says multiplayer guys play the same maps over and over (dust), you appear to want to bring this game into the mass market - time to stop pandering to old ideas like that.
  9. Remove the silly actually-damaged-regens-medic-faster stuff - at least during warm upRocket jumping in map warm-up to charge your medic is a tactic that shouldn't be required.
  10. Stop being able to kill other team mates in set-up. Sigh, snipers between gaps in the map. What is the point of them?
  11. There's clearly some cheats that need fixing. I was on a map and saw it capped inside of ten seconds. The guy must have been in observer and able to cap or something.
  12. Scouts and custom levels of cl_ rates appear to be able to generate a warping effect making them even more difficult to hit. Some sort of solution needed.
  13. Let's have an active timer on screen at all times.
  14. Enhanced voice comms: It'd be nice to havetypes of talk key. Global, team/radio andlocal shout keys and with a speech bubble or something. Global comms, give a radio effect. Openglobal chat on map score summaries.

Sunday, 30 September 2007

Knowing nowt about audio... [Brit]



To my right, in the office (or 'den' as some Americanized EED colleagues call it) I have a small Sony midi Hi-Fi; still cranking out BBC Radio 2 in less than superb stereo some 6 years after purchase. It ain't big, it ain't clever, and it does MiniDisc which as you can imagine, I use all the time.

There is nothing wrong with it per se, but I would like to explore the area of replacement at some stage before Christmas - perhaps bizarrely we don't actually have a 'proper audio rig' anywhere in the flat, albeit there are screens and computers aplenty. Priorities, Priorities! I guess.

I do know that I want separates. I do know that I'm not convinced by the argument that spending an extra £200 per yard on oxygen free hand spun titantium & chocolate cabling isn't one that is going to swing with me unless Dawkins himself says its OK. I also want Digital DAB radio, and the ability to plug it into the network (if such a combo system exists) would be a bonus.

So there you go. Where to start? What brands are worth the looksee, and which aren't?

Sincerely, Confused of Tunbridge Wells.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Enemy Territory Quake Wars Random thoughts [Spiny]


ETQW popped through the letterbox today. I'd forgotten to cancel my preorder based on the horrible experience I had with the earlier beta & demo...

...but you know what? It's actually not half bad. They've got propper sound assets in now & it's a raucous battle experience. The classes have all got useful stuff, there's a wealth of ways you can contribute to the team. Combat is pretty satisfying and it runs very well indeed (1650x1050 here on normal settings with an X1900).

The objective system is good, even if the HUD is a little frightening at first. It's all useful info though & a read through the manual is well worth while, unusually enough. Playing as engineer is fun, as is sniper. solider has the typical iD hit-where-you-aim feel rather than CS randomness.

Nice open larger scale class based combat, vs TF2's tighter quarters.

PS, Don't get the special edition, the extra disc is crap.

Friday, 28 September 2007

TF2 Achievements [Spiro]


It's a nice part of the game and I thought we could come up with a few of our own achievements, for instance:

Protect the medic (more than once by accident) as the heavy

wait for the rest of your team to spawn before charging off alone

Play as part of a team for at least 1 round

Lets have some more?

God Bless The Beej! [Brit]


You know, I'm not really into the sentimental mush type scene; I'd much rather grab a cheap flight to Burma and film monks being beaten, but here's the thing... God Bless Beej.

For those of you joining us from places far flung, and wondering how on earth a website like www.electricdeath.com exists in the way it does, I point wholeheartedly at [EED]Beej, a man who is to this webby what Chuck Norris is to low-life criminal scum in B-movies various.

So, well done that man and don't think for an instant that your script0ring work and general 'net dalliances go unobserved or unappreciated... you've done sterling work here.

Hurrah!


TF2 mechanics [Lurks]



I've noticed some weird stuff in TF2 and started to formulate ideas about why that might be. A quick bit of in-game testing turned up some unexpected results.

My first hypothesis, based on observing soldier RPG fire on heavy weapon dudes, was that the game doesn't just apply a fixed value of damage per weapon to any class regardless. A quick bit of testing with some class v class melee turned out this surprising result.

TF2 randomises damage to a large degree, making it really quite hard to tell what an average hit of something is for. However I noticed no difference in damage taken in hitting another scout versus hitting a HW dude. We hit each one twice to check and really I can ascertain that the damage of the scout's bat does about 28-47 damage per hit. The really strange thing is that crits always hit for 105. On any class.

So we can rule out the hidden armour, for melee at least. However even a quick hit with a soldier's spade yielded a whack well outside of the scout bat's range with a 55 and 61 hit. The more obviously heavier melee weapons do indeed do more damage.

Also I looked at patterns of bullet impacts from the scout shotgun and the spread on other weapons like the pistol and observed something interesting. It looks like the spread happens quite early. If you fire at a wall some distance away, you see it's quite tight. Yet if you fire right up close, you don't see the tightness of rounds you'd expect. Annecdotally, also, the weighting of the spread does seem odd. You most often take SOME sort of damage with someone firing a shotgun at you from the other side of the map. If the spread was 'natural', then that just wouldn't happen very often at all. Similarly with pistols, you see a number of railgun like accurate shots and then some very wide ones. I don't think valve is using random spreading precisely.

I suspect what they're doing is rolling a number as to how many of the shots or pellets are 'wide' and then throwing those wide, while those that aren't tend to be very tight.

I wonder if the crit figures I obtained end up being maximum damage x 2. It STILL seems high since I did not observe any hit that was over 50. And the crit rates are also quite high really. Normal crit in an RPG is 2X damage normally. Not 2X of the maximum damage your weapon roll could do and THEN some.

This goes some way to explaining the difference in opinion on the scout bat. One guy said it was even, that he'd seen someone taken down in two hits. I said, no it's quite pussy really, you need to whack people a lot with it. Of course with a crit being more than HALF the health of a heavier class like a soldier, it's not hard to see how the range comes about.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Removing Friendly Fire from TF2 [Lurks]


We really didn't see this one coming. This morning I go to update our server's MOTD with a clever bit of text from another UK FF server which had a handy guide to spotting spies with FF on, only there's an update. I read the news and Valve have removed Friendly Fire from TF2!

Removed mp_friendlyfire cvar for servers. Team Fortress 2 breaks in a number of ways if this is on


This is quite a remarkable thing to do. They did so by saying that basically the mp_friendlyfire cvar breaks the game in a number of ways. Without actually stating what ways those are. Certainly after 375 hours of TF2 being racked up by the clan in the last week, I think it's not unreasonable to suggest that Valve's statement is abject nonsense. The game is not broken in any single way at all with mp_friendlyfire 1.

I started off being pretty agnostic about friendly fire. Natural inclination to have it on based on our predilections with previous FPS games over the clan's ten year history. I remember when we were quite insistant in the distant past regarding weapon stay on Unreal Tournament leagues. They wanted it on, we wanted it off. We felt very strongly at the time, feeling that the game became a needless spam 'a thon and hence pulled out of the leagues. Six months later were vindicated when the leagues reversed that decision.

It must, however, be pointed out that there's a key contrast between that scenario and the one which hovers over the clan like an ominous cloud with a hint ofthe faint artificial tang of spam in the air. The difference is back then Epic agreed with us. Weapon stay was silly, they said.Now Valve are telling us that friendly fire has no place in TF2. There's a heated debate spilling over on the forums right now.

The thing is, in the intervening timehaving played a great deal ondefault FF off servers and our own FF on server,it's clear to me what the major gameplay differences are and by trial of battle, a preference has solidified in my mind. I prefer friendly fire to be on. It'd be nice if it could be 50% damage or so but it's better that it's there than it is. This is pretty much the view of the whole clan with the exception of one legendarily mecenary Irishman that would probably prefer to play with bots anyway, given the chance.

Let's quickly set out the pros and cons of friendly fire on and off. Let's start off with what's good about friendly fire being on:

No griefing. Spys are debuffed because everyone can simply shoot at everyone all of the time in order to find out if they're a spy or not. Players don't need to be aware of any of their team mates, they can straffe around to their hearts content, they can lurk as a spy around a corner being pill spammed, they can mow left and right with the heavy weapons dude with gay abandon.

How about what's good about friendly fire being off:

Players are forced to know where there team mates are and consider arcs of fire. Pill spam in enclosed spaces is seriously cut down as it makes it very difficult for players to get through with a constant stream of grenades. Large collections of turrets are nerfed because they tend to mow down defenders standing in front of them.

The case for Friendly Fire.

Too often with multiplayer games do you find that the game essentially consists of 24 random people, half of which just happen to be wearing the same colour and are pointing in the same direction, just like when you were paired up with that ugly chick in the biology practical. Friendly fire forces people to consider, who's job is it to cover that doorway. It cuts back on the genuinely silly levels of mass grenade spam seen in the game and demands a higher level of skill where players need to be pretty clear about where they're firing and not just fire in the general direction of bad guys speculatively.

Friendly Fire does demand better team play and players which are on the ball. This tends to work well when you've got mates playing versus mates. On our server it's common to see much of EED versus another clan.

Additionally, despite the game apparently - according to someone at Valve, having mp_friendlyfire level in by accident - we find that the Pyro actually doesn't damage team mates. This buffs a sadly maligned class considerably because it makes them great for flushing out spies running through the front line stealthed and one hanging back in your base becomes a major asset.

The case against Friendly Fire

There's a couple of key issues here: Firstly spys are simply too powerful in the game as it stands. Somewhat counter balancing that right now is the fact that you fire at your entire team periodically to see if anyone is a spy. I think this whole game mechanic needs a bit of an overhaul but the fact remains that right here and now, particularly with non-expert players who have learned how to work out if someone is spy from actual observation and smarts, Friendly Fire being off actually nerfs spys in a way that they kind of need to be.

Currently the FF ratio is basically 100%. It's somewhat normal to have this damage scaled back a bit just to cut down on a single shotgun blast being a fatal event. The game is quite manic, it's not a tactical shooter. There's lots of stuff flying around and people are going to die by accident with FF on.

Conclusion

I think there's not a lot in it. I enjoy both game types but I enjoy FF more. Ideally I would have liked to have scaled the damage a bit and perhaps reduced the respawn time on a team-killed player a bit. However when the chips are down,I find itmore fun playing on our server and another FF server I have in my favorites list, than otherwise. Spys can be a huge problem, particularly since the Pyro situation is not widely known, but I do pretty well versus spys normally, as an engineer.

Surely any rational view is that you let people decide unless there really is some game breaking reason why friendly fire wouldn't be in. We've voted, collectively, and we're running the server. By what right does Valve come along and just decide sorry, the gameplay you find more enjoyable is simply not how we think you ought to be playing it. I'm seeing parallels, right away, with the many dubious multiplayer choices Valve has made in the past, all of which were aimed squarely at their own style of inexpert game play. Such as the ridiculous spray 'o matic headshot lottery which Counter-Strike ended up being when they took ownership of it.

I have a massive amount of respect for Valve. I respect the way they've re-done TF from the ground up to appeal to a wider audience. I appreciate that we are probably not part of the mass new audience they've been going after. However I think I can voice some collective dismay that Valve would basically hold us in sufficient contempt that they wont even let us decide this issue for ourselves.

What are you playing at Valve? I'd dearly like to know.