the torch

s|He|~ Part 2

It was early in the morning and the sun shone brightly. I whispered to myself, “Today is the day to execute my plan.”

My Plan:  Living the life of a MAN for the next 24 hours.

This year to celebrate Man Week, I chose the not so taken route. Although, it was a great idea, I found it difficult to execute all together. I have never played a man before. So, I had decided that for one half I will be a gentleman and the other half I will be a Casanova. I went out for an adventure. It was a great plan. But only a plan.

I got a free avatar and complete outfit from the JStyle Store. The group is free to join and they release at least one new outfit as group gift each week. The group gift contains the full avatar and the complete outfit. Teleporter http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Strigoiu/204/205/3805

As a female, I have always loved beautiful gardens and forests. So, I decided to land in a city. The first that came up in the search was London City with traffic over 7,000.

Teleporter http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/London%20City3/137/146/24

As soon as I landed, there were two ladies, one offered a friendship as soon as I landed and the other said hi. Good so far. I just never ever thought of pick up lines until now. I asked the most unusual pick up line “Are you waiting for someone?” I regretted it immensely when I did not get an answer. After a long time, when a few other girls started hitting on me. She replied cordially, “No”. A gasp of relief. Am sure its not the pick up line that worked. Well, my next question was, “Do you come here often?” She said, “I am a beginner”. Being a gentleman that I wanted to portray myself as, I said, “Please excuse me if I am being a little inquisitive”. To that there was another moment of silence. The silence grew to be a minute and my answer came with a silent ‘no, am not interested.’

Sat there on a bicycle for some time with London City gazing behind me. Wondering if I am playing to cautious. Well, I don’t want to hurt anyone. So, its good. Another one came along first to interview me for her homework. She tried to know all about my RL. My story was simple, am a business man from London, living alone, unmarried, my parents and sister are my family and am looking for a soul mate. The interview turned its course when she started counselling me and that I should not be alone. She was sweet and caring. Just where almost all SL relationships start, i.e., being fake. Anyways, its the adventure we are looking for. This one was better. She accepted me as a friend, and a gentleman. Although it was almost a yes, she wanted it slow. Probably, I would have done the same. Its just that I got only few hours more to play the part. Continue reading

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Kevin's Music Reviews

Kevin’s Music Reviews: Qypthone – Montuno No. 5

Qypthone has been on hiatus for quite a while now, but we’re getting to about that time of year where zesty, energetic summer jams are due for recognition.

Originally playing with groups like Pizzicato Five and Plus-Tech Squeeze Box, this little band enlists their bossanova-tinged take on the Japanese genre “shibuya-kei” to the scene, replete with all the vivaciousness and eccentricities that make such artists stand out. Their last full-length album, Montuno No. 5, will most likely be remembered as their most substantial work, even if it is a little on the short side.

Qyptphone - Montuno No 5 Album Continue reading

Wil Morris Internet Guy Banner

Retro Monday: “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater”

Title: “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater

Developer: Neversoft

Publisher: Activision

Released: August 1999

 

Some of you may have read my thoughts on the new game “Goat Simulator”. In the write up I say how it harkens me back my younger years playing “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater”. Whether that is good for a brand new game to remind me of a game that came out 14 years ago is yet to be decided. Anyway, ‘Pro Skater’…

During the 90’s, getting a celebrity face on a game was the way to go. That is what happened with Tony Hawk. Being a champion, the first person to land a 900° spin and (as I found out looking up stuff for this) he has a 144 I.Q. Neversoft decided on Tony after his debut at X Games 1998.

The game sees you play as one of 10 skaters in nine different levels. For six of the levels there are five objectives called ‘tapes’, after ‘VCR tapes’. If you don’t know what a VCR is, you missed out. Ask your elders. The other three levels are competition levels where you play for a bronze, silver, or gold medal. Rather then having ‘tapes’ you have a timed high score run where you are judged by at random by a selection of AI judges. You basically just need to get as close to a pre-set high score as possible and bail (fall off the skateboard) as little as possible as bailing acts as a score deduction.

Some people may remember my retro review of “Thrasher: Skate & Destroy” a few weeks back. Both ‘Pro Skater’ and ‘Skate & Destroy’ was released at pretty much the same time (Fall 1999) so they where in direct competition. ‘Skate & Destroy’ was called the more sim-like experience and was the more technically competent of the two, while ‘Pro Skater’ was pinned as the graphically superior of the two and was easer to play due to more simple, pick-up-and-play controls.

Out of the two, I have always preferred ‘Pro Skater’ to ‘Skate & Destroy’. I liked it to such a point I own ‘Pro Skater’ 1 – 4, the “Tony Hawk’s Underground” 1 and 2 sequels, “Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland”, and “Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground”. Other people must think the same because the series still goes on today. Although it isn’t as popular as before due to the latest section of the series comprising of Wii peripherals and a HD re-release of ‘Pro Skater’ 1/2. Even I, a devout fan of the series, think that the latest entries are pretty crap. The peak of the series for me was ‘Underground 2’ but it wouldn’t be surprising if you thought ‘Proving Ground’ was the peak. Continue reading

Torch Top 5

The Torch Top 5 – April 4th

5) “TV-licence” extends in many countries

Sweden was one of the first countries to do it and now more countries follow. UK is about to do it as well.
We’re talking about extending the “TV-licence”, the fee put on every television owner in a country to fund the public service TV and radio stations, to include other devices as well. More and more public service stations have taken the leap into an online environment and with this, they feel that computers should be included as well.
Certain countries even include smartphones and game consoles into the licensable devices.

This is a sign that the world is going more and more into the virtual environment of the Internet for every day.

4) Bionic animatronic

German scientists have produced the first ever bionic animal, an entirely mechanical animal. The biomechanical leap was taken quite literally as the team at Festo created a mechanical kangaroo, capable of not only jumping and then recovering its balance, but also to store the energy recovered when landing for its next jump. This mimics the function of a real kangaroo perfectly.

The mechanical animal has no commercial use, but it instead used as an example to get more aspiring students interested in biomimetics, the study of mechanical applications of designs in nature.

3) Marvelous plans

Marvel has high ambition for their current series of superhero movies. The movies that center around the heroes in the team called Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy will be produced for a long time. The current production schedule extends all the way to 2028, according to Marvel Studio president Kevin Feige. Continue reading

The-Raid-2-Berandal

Barton’s Movie Reviews – THE RAID 2

Back in 2011, Gareth Evans unleashed The Raid into cinemas. It was a non-stop thrill ride of an action movie that made the world sit up and take notice of the genre once again. For too long had action movies been too willing to hold back the punches.

Evans has always said he has an idea for a trilogy of films but the one question on my mind was; How could he possibly top a film like The Raid?

The answer is The Raid 2. It sounds a bit simple but that’s because it is. The Raid 2 is as hard-hitting as its predecessor but goes that extra length to make it stand out. It’s both larger in scale and wider in scope, allowing Evans to develop a story based amongst the criminal underworld of Jakarta, briefly mentioned in The Raid.

Think of this as The Raid meets The Departed. It is a full-blown crime epic with a hint of martial arts, well a heavy hint of martial arts. 

The Raid 2 takes place merely a couple of hours after the events of the first film. SWAT officer Rama (Iko Uwais), having made it out of the tower block alive, goes undercover to infiltrate the Jakarta crime syndicate and uncover the corruption within his own police force.

Rama makes a huge sacrifice by going undercover in a notorious prison to get close to Ucok (Arifin Putra), the only son of Bangun (Tio Pakusodewo), the feared mob boss in control of all criminal activity in Jakarta.

Rama proves his worth to Ucok during an utterly staggering prison riot. Around 30 prisoners start the riot and are soon joined by an army of riot police in a muddied prison yard that will leave you amazed at how these guys had the energy to film in such conditions. Just picture the muddy scenes at Glastonbury a few years ago and that is pretty much what they are fighting in, surely a contender for the largest mud wrestle on record ever!

Having protected Ucok during the riots, Rama is taken under the wing of mob boss Bangun and this is where the story really kicks into gear. The Raid had a simple premise with a SWAT team fighting for their lives in a tower block full of criminals. It was simple yet effective stuff. What Evans has managed to do so well with The Raid 2 is to still keep it simple but set it in a much wider environment. The undercover element is simple to follow but the greater array of characters in the criminal underworld will keep you guessing at who will double-cross who.

The performances are just about spot-on from all involved. Iko Uwais as Rama and Arifin Putra as Ucok in particular the highlights for me. Who said good acting doesn’t belong in an action movie? Continue reading

The Jester

The Jester (A Riyria Chronicles Tale) by Michael J Sullivan

What can I say about Riyria? Well for starters they are 100% complete

Hadrian and Royce

See, Royce totally could be Garrett’s dad.

and utter win. Okay, maybe I can’t say that for sure since I only just started reading, Theft of Swards; the first Volume in the Riyria Revelations series, but it does look that way.

Riyria Revelations are three novels within the Epic Fantasy genre written by Michael J Sullivan. They were published by Orbits Books in 2011 and 2012, but they were around long before that since they were self-published by Sullivan and were originally six volumes. Once Orbits began publishing Riyria, six became three and these books are incredibly long. Harry Potter can eat it’s dust. By the way when Riyria Revelations was self-published it sold 90,000 copies, thus proving that anyone who says self-publishing is a waste of time or stupid can go to hell.

I’m not going to start talking about the Riyria books until I’m at least finished with ‘Theft of Swords and knee deep in the second Volume, Rise of Empire. But I am going to talk about the Short story that got me interested in the series, The Jester.

Originally written for the ‘Unfettered’ Anthology, a compilation of short stories by some of the biggest names in Epic Fantasy. It was made to help fellow writer, Shawn Speakman, pay his medical bills. At the time Speakman had battled and survived cancer. He had the disease previously and apparently this meant that he couldn’t get health insurance. One would think that him beating cancer was a good thing and helping a man fight for his life would better than kicking him when he’s down but what do I know I’m just a human being who writes articles about books that I’ve read on the internet and not politician nor a doctor. Anyway out of this came ‘Unfettered’ and while I am happy for the anthology, I am sad that it came to be under such unfortunate conditions. I do hope to find and read it some day.

So The Jester was among these high fantasy stories, it is part of the prequel series named The Riyria Chronicles and takes place after the last book ‘ Rose and Thorn’ from Chronicles and before the first book ‘Theft of Swords’ from Revelations. Sullivan himself states that readers don’t need to read the Riyria Series to jump into The Jester. It is a stand alone story and was made to be enjoyed by readers fully. That’s cool but I kind of wish it was attached to the previous books because I would love to have seen the character of Wilma in the main book for reasons I’ll make clear when we get to the characters.

The story begins the way all stories should begin, with the characters falling to their deaths. They are Royce, Hadrian, Wilma and Ms annoying herself, Moira. Of course she is the only female character in this story and is the most annoying. She is a middle aged woman who thinks she is some kind of treasure hunting warrior and decides everyone is wrong and an idiot except for her. Oh joy. Yes she annoys me to no end. I might as well call her Ms Irritating, and I shall. Continue reading

Goat Simulator

Atomp Reviews: Goat Simulator [Coffee Stain Studios]

Tom Hooper aka Atomp

 

Goat Simulator, what more can be said. This whole thing started during an in-house Coffee Stain Studios (Sanctum, Sanctum 2, Super Sanctum TD) game jam intended to familiarise new staff with the Unreal Engine. One of the competitors in this game jam; Armin Ibrisagic created a weird and wacky take on the 90s skateboarding games with a goat substituted for the skateboarder and destruction rather than tricks. Coffee Stain Studios released a video of this broken, glitchy yet unbelievably fun looking prototype onto Youtube and the Internet lost its head. The video went viral and there was widespread agreement across the Internet and gaming press that this ridiculous thing had to be and so was born this as a thing. The game that was promised was broken, glitchy and ridiculous and people would love it for it. To give Coffee Stain Studios some significant credit, they took a broken prototype and added significant amounts of secrets, challenges and scoring that actually extended the toy into a proper game. The base experience isn’t nearly as short lived as you’d think and there was the ultimate value creator; easy modding and Steam Workshop support. There is even an E3 Game Launch map creation contest which is bound to produce some really fun levels.

 

The gameplay in Goat Simulator is massively physics driven, the player controls a goat from a third person perspective with the ability to run, sprint, jump, headbut, lick, ragdoll, slowmo and special. Running, sprinting and jumping are fairly self explanatory however the rest are not: Headbutting is your standard attack and will impart some significant force upon things in front of you. Combine this with some momentum, a light object or some explosives and this becomes your first taste of the ridiculous physics. Second we come onto the lick, this sticks your infinitely strong and stretchy tongue to an object allowing you to drag it or be dragged by it, think chasing people with an axe attached to a stretchy tongue and you get an idea. The ragdoll does as it says on the tin, ragdolls your goat allowing it to be thrown around like, well, a ragdoll and the slowmo enables real time slowmo. Finally there is the special which is enabled by a variety of unlocks and can produce some brilliant additional effects that I won’t ruin. Combine all of these with the medium sized level packed with environments, explosives, trampolines and many many more fun things and there is the recipe for some significant fun.

 

The scoring is based on building score whilst also maintaining a combo which can lead to some significant destruction as you tear through a house or development studio or pile of crates or garden party… The sky really is the limit, that is until you glitch too high and break the game landing outside the map only to physics glitch back into the map at some significant speed. The key to this game is that whilst the developers have worked on ironing out crash-bugs, they left the rest in, resulting in a brutally honest glitchy fun experience as you work to glitch your way into completing challenges in ways unintended or just seeing if you can crash the game by overloading the physics engine. To be fair to Coffee Stain Studios it’s actually fairly difficult to overload the game to a point of absolute crashing, in spite of its glitchy and broken nature this is actually a damn stable glitchy and broken game. I can safely say that the first time I launched the game I didn’t stop playing for 5 hours, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I did the typical running around trashing stuff and then moved onto completing the challenges and eventually to finding collectibles. Since then I have added around 5 more hours to that play time and I’m still not done with it, beyond the 5 to 10 hours of default play is the potential for playing with the modded “mutators” (UT style). The game has some of these built in but with Steam Workshop support even today only a couple of days after release there are already some really fun things to play with; like for example a mod that adds an “Australian Goat” with appropriately reversed controls or the teleporter mod or the exploding goat mod… there is no limit to the potential when combined with the option for custom maps too. Continue reading

the torch

s | HE | ~ Part 1

The Man Week is soon coming up. Starting from the 7th to the 11th of April, 2014. This time I was told to come up with something in relation to man and 3D world. Which gave me an idea to write about creating an avatar and roam around the sim to experience life of a Man. To do so I had to create an avatar in Second Life. The challenge I took was to create one with minimum Linden Dollars and at the same time not compromising on the quality.

 

The following are the links to Market Place to buy skin, shape, hair, clothes, shoes, accessories. All the items are in the range of L$0 to L$10.

 

Skin

http://marketplace.secondlife.com/p/P-P-E-A-U-Male-Skin-1-Offert-MIKAEL-WARFACE/4243961 L$1

 

Shape

https://marketplace.secondlife.com/p/BNDKeigo-Shape-Male-avatar-Shape-PromoSale/2173652 L$6

https://marketplace.secondlife.com/p/MM5-Rock-DEMO-Nico-Shape/5394328 L$1

https://marketplace.secondlife.com/p/BNDKeigo-Shape-Male-avatar-Shape-PromoSale/2173652 L$5

https://marketplace.secondlife.com/p/David-Male-Shape-The-body-co-gift/4304615 L$1 Continue reading

Torch Game Featured

Announcement: We just released a game! [April Fools]

This was the 2014 April Fool’s prank from The Torch: Entertainment Guide. We hope you all enjoyed it, the “game” was very popular with over 1000 “plays” in less than 10 hours from the publishing of this article.

 

The Torch, The Game was just released and we couldn’t be happier.

We got tired of just writing about games and decided to put a lot of time and effort into launching a game of our own. It’s a game that will challenge your mind as well as your reactions and will offer a nice reward to anyone who can beat it (which we believe will be very few people).

Try The Torch, The Game for free on Newgrounds (link now broken)

aoba ichiko - utabiko

Kevin’ Music Reviews: The heart unplugged

Japan’s Ichiko Aoba is decidedly a straight shooter when it comes to her choice of songwriting tools and album artwork. Armed only with her guitar and her voice – and solid colors – she hits her target dead-on while eschewing anything more than the bare essentials, and she gets the job done quite well.
Her 2012 full-length, Utabiko, makes a valid case for simplicity. Covered in the thin, ambiguous veil of minimalism, Aoba delivers subtle brilliance in spades from the humble spaces in her heart in as direct a manner as the singer-songwriter ensemble can muster. Stylistically Aoba’s sound is minimal contemporary folk, with an occasional lean toward Nara Leao bossanova. Her voice is soft and breezy, breathing whimsy and bliss into the music at nearly all times, as delicately but as genuinely as foreseeable. Resulting from this is a sound that is occasionally haunting in its semi-presence, yet you undoubtedly feel engaged with the artist, even when her voice descends to a flickering, frail whisper. Equally soothing, her guitar strums are constantly in a state of motion. Her music glides from wonderful hook to wonderful hook like she has a million things to say in a very short amount of time, and never does the standard verse-chorus-verse structure come into effect. This is the soundtrack to stopping and taking a look around yourself in the middle of the day, both up in the sky and along the ground, yet it is also music to sit still to, as the music is so subtle and delicate it’s easy to overlook the minute graces that are interweaved in the fabric. An ideal setting is taking a wandering drive through the prairie on a dry spring noon. There is much to observe in these ever-changing environments, with a little serenity and patience.

Her choice of color to represent the music on display for Utabiko couldn’t be more concise. Representing the album in a fittingly dreary tone is nothing more than a solid canvas of faded green, nearly-beige; a humble picture painted in a single humble color. Though it can be perceived as bland, to do so would also mean missing the point of the music contained inside as well. This particular shade of green-beige is befitting of the atmosphere the music projects; sun-bleached sands mixed with salt water, where you dip your toes in and run your fingers through softly; birch wood trees tinged with the vignette of blurry green leaves in the distance; hibernating greenery quietly recoloring in the midst of early spring. Notice the green isn’t very thick at all; it’s only just discernible as green – the grass is dry but you can see its true color. Likewise, the music is soft and scarce but the life and warmth remains undeniable present. Aoba plays to the listener, her emotion is tangible and glides straight toward you. Those craving a song from the heart to accompany their upcoming morning spring strolls need wander no further than the prairies of Utabiko for that excellent, non-demanding chicken soup for the ears.