A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… Bantha poo was probably pretty easy to come by.
Fast forward light years to 21st century earth and its only slightly rarer than some of the parts I’ve been searching for to make a Mike Psiaki X-Wing. There’s a market in minifigs but there only appears to be about 8 Light Blueish Gray Container, Barrels for sale in the world, and no one person has four of them!
I also tried for a slight colour deviation, light gray container, barrel. Again today’s count of 10 and some people charging upwards of £10 for them.
So I’ve plumped for a dark blueish gray shade, if it doesn’t look too out of place I can live with it, otherwise I’ll probably paint them before raiding the bank.
There have been a few other pieces that have taken a bit of tracking down and I’ve had to go to 5 separate stores on Bricklink to find all the pieces I need.
The orders are in, being packed and posted and soon I’ll have a pile of 700 odd bricks to start building with.
So, with my mission in mind and a list of parts I’ve started out looking how best to source over 170 unique lego parts. Some of them are familiar from years ago and I could probably rustle a few up from old technical kits sequestered away in my parents loft, but I don’t want to break them.
I remember a while back you used to be able to use Lego digital designer to build a virtual model, then order the kit, unfortunately they wrapped that up January 2012.
However they do sell individual pieces – in two places:
The first is their normal marketplace Pick-a-Brick using the design ID from Mike’s list I’ve managed to find about 70% of the pieces, and starting at 6p a piece it didn’t look like I was going to break the bank. Like a coppers jar all those pennies add up, they add up to over £50 so far (although Lego do chuck in a free promo kit with orders over £50)
In line with this, there were some pieces which didn’t just show up on Pick-a-Brick, the ability to search by part family meant I could track down a few more by name but lego also provide an alternative for those harder to find items on their support site. Here you can order parts by kit, and I tracked down a few parts there, the trick is knowing where the part you’re looking for has already been used.
That’s where Rebrickable came in very handy – listing all the sets a part has been in, it’s also a great visual reference and useful for seeing what other colours a part is available in.
Finally I came across the community, eBay for bricks, Bricklink. Here you can find sellers for all those rare (and not-so-rare) bricks. What’s even more useful is the ability to generate a wishlist, manually, or to my techy delight, by uploading a file in XML – his meant I could ,convert Mike Psiaki’s excel list into XML and load it straight up.
I’ve had a look at prices and stores on Bricklink, no-one appears to carry the same level of diverse items as Lego, not surprising, but prices are cheaper. A bit more research and i’ll decide wether to bite the bullet and order the bulk from Lego and source the rares from Bricklink, or to go Bricklink for as much as possible, with multiple stores and postage varying there may not be much in it in the long run.
We all know X-Wings are cool, and for a little while I’ve been hankering after one of my own. I wanted to build my own so it came down to two broad options – Paint and Glue or Lego…
After a bit of research into the two I found that all the good plastic kits were a major pain to track down, but Lego had recently launched a shiny new kit in 2012.
That made it into my wish list for a while, and looked pretty cool, but I couldn’t help wondering if there was was something better, was there an older kit that was more accurate? With a bit of googling it turned out that there have been 4 official Lego X-Wing kits, one of these was the ‘Ultimate Collectors Edition’ which turns out to be rare as hens teeth and twice as expensive, but I also found an unofficial ‘MOC’ by a Lego Designer called Mike Psiaki, he’s even been generous enough to list the parts and publish build photos.
I’ve got the parts list and found a couple of places to get new and second hand parts. Time to see how it compares to buying a complete, boxed kit.
After much deliberation I have decided to join France and Germany in issuing a warning to all residents of the Republic of Dan against using Windows Explorer.
I’ve been using Windows XP for what seems like forever. My current laptop (HP Pavillion) came with Vista pre-installed, I made a set of system restore DVDs, played with it for a while then installed XP on it and marvelled at how much quicker it ran. Now Microsoft have launched Windows 7 and my laptop needs some serious housekeeping so I’m going to upgrade to the 90 day trial to see what all the hype’s about.
The first thing was to download Windows 7, the 90 trial can be downloaded from here, it’s a 2GB+ .iso and can be burned to DVD using any of many iso burners, I used an app caller isoburner.exe, but I can’t find any links to it now.
Next job was to prepare for system restore, I’ve nabbed an official Win XP SP3 install from here. Again these .iso files can be burned to CD and provide a full install if you’ve got a license key. All ready for rollback I’ve finally bought a NAS (Network Attached Storage) backup drive, the Iomega Home Media drive (500gb). The reviews seem fairly good, it connects directly to my wireless hub and can be used as a media drive for XBox 360, an iTunes server and a USB print server. And a backup drive.
Setup started quite simply. Plug in the power and Ethernet cable to your network router and install the software on your PC. This is where it all went wrong and somewhere between my firewall, wireless connection and iomega software my laptop got into a cycle where it would reboot just after XP told me my firewall was turned off. Trying not to panic and with tea-time rapidly approaching I turned off the wireless connection on my laptop uninstalled the offending software and went back to Plan A: connecting to the drive through explored. Simples, logged onto my router, got the IP of the new drive and connected to it through Explorer.
Finally backed up my measly 100gb of ‘personal’ data (over Ethernet, wireless was t o o s l o w) completely unbenchmarked it took about 5 1/2 hours. I only had one ‘cyclic redundancy check’ which occured twice but with the same file so chances are it’s a corrupt file or issue with my current HDD.
Next. After verifying my backed up data it’s time to install Windows 7.
Assassins Creed 2 announcements and teasers have been floating around for a while now, and now the french studio Ubisoft has launched the Live by the Creed Teaser site for AC2.
AC was set (mainly) in the middle east during the 12th century crusades, you play as modern-day Desmond – an ancestor of a long line of assassins – kidnapped and being used to control assassin Altair via a machine called the Animus to embark on missions to identify, track down and finally assasinate a succession of targets. But there is more to the story than that, what do your captors really and how can you escape? The world is beautifully rendered and the controls fairly simple and you are soon running up walls and leaping across rooftops, pursued by guards.
The game itself was launched to critical acclaim and leapt onto many must-own lists, and it was very good. If there are any criticisms of the game, the movement controls may be a little too simple – but the upside of this is that you don’t have the endless replays of sections due to a single mis-timed button press, and the ending is different from the norm, leaving you wondering ifthe game is actually over.
So onto AC2 – this time flash forward to Renaissance era Italy and Ezio is Desmond’s ancestor and has new places to explore and tools to utilise in the pursuit of the swift, silent kill. It’s looking good and if Ubisoft do their job right it will also end up on many a must-have list. Accompanying the standard launch editi0n will be limited edition Black and White editions with collectible packaging (?) a figurine and ‘DVD’ extras like behind the scenes and sountracks. They also come with bonus in-game content – a big carrot for the completionists. I admit I’m a bit of a sucker for these special editions – especially franchises I enjoy.
AC2 launches on 20th November 2009 and I’m hoping Ubisoft will also pick up the DLC element that is starting to permeate the gaming arena with additional missions to extend the experience.
Wet launches today, from Bethesda Softworks (Elder Scrolls, Fallout) it’s a fast-paced 3rd-person shoot/slash/kick etc-em-up. With a 70′s theme & accompanying soundtrack and visceral action it has been likened in style to Tarantino meets Suda51 (Killer 7, No More Heroes). The lovely Eliza Dushku voices Rubi, the leather-clad, samurai sword wielding heroine and the storyline sounds like a simple double-cross / revenge scenario. I’m a fan of ‘story’ and plan on writing about story in games compared to literature or cinema, but in this case i’ll be happy to let story play second fiddle to the action!
Just been reading the pdf on Skill Powers in DnD 4e- PHB:3 introduces utility powers (L2, L6, L10) which are available for any class with the prerequisite of being trained in that skill.
Generally they read well and it’s nice to see some rules based uses of skills in combat (beyond DCs set by the GM). We’ve generally used Athletics and Acrobatics in combat to pull off cool moves – Vaulting over sarcophagi or climbing onto rooftops to shoot from, the occasional use of nature\dungeoneering etc to identify creatures – but History..? Now such a fearsome character as Raelthos Moonchild III can use his Intimidating presence.
Snap Out of It – Intimidate – Utility 10
A smack across the face brings your ally back to his or her senses.
Encounter Minor Action Melee touch
Target: One ally subject to a dazing, dominating, or stunning
effect that a save can end
Effect: The target makes a saving throw against the effect.
Other powers give you just that little more that using a skill imaginatively – allowing you to transplant a trained skill for another i.e. Insight instead of Bluff to gain combat advantage (L2 Insight: Anticipate Manoever) or use History in place of an int check (an automatic +5)
It’ll be interesting to see how these play out alongside class-based utilities, it certainly allows more room to individualise your character. I can see that these could’ve been built as feats instead and come with a +x to the skill also to assert the focus but they look as though they sit alongside other utility powers quite neatly, we’ll see how Snap out of it Works for the next level.