Monday, June 8, 2015

TK Armour UK Handcrafted Stormtrooper Armour

Yes folks... I'm back!

Ok... With Episode 7 around the corner, I'm finding it harder and harder to "stay retired" (huarghhhh). Only recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr David Ashcroft from TK Armour UK.. Who *hand crafts* stormtrooper armour kits. And yes... I grabbed me a set.

I'll be editing and updating this post to share my own experience in putting the whole thing together.

Stay tuned :)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

10 Reasons Why Gaming May Be Good For You...

Gamers are more often than not, looked down upon as "slackers" or individuals who have nothing better to do with their time and money ("hard-earned" for those "aged" gamers who actually have day jobs). Mothers, wives, girlfriends, and other creatures of the female species (cats sometimes included) often put on "that look" when a guy indulges in his gaming activities. "The Stare" was always there... from the "good old days" of those blocky, pixelated games (like "Pong"), to today's more realistic and immersive (and sometimes equally "as pointless") games like Left 4 Dead (mindless zombie-slaying with barely any storyline), and the like.

But, is it really all that bad? Let's see how we can put things into *positive* perspective. Here's at least 10 reasons why gaming may be good for you!

1. Hand-Eye Co-ordination, Kay? ("HECK") : Probably being more relevant to arcade-style games such as platformers ("Mario Bros", "Little Big Planet", etc) and even simluator-style games ("Gran Turismo") - gaming can greatly improve one's hand-eye co-ordination. Shoot-em-up titles also have a great impact on HECK development, as the gamer's "survival" (in-game, that is) greatly depends on it. HECK is a skill that one could really, really use and bring over into the "real world". It can be applied in driving, playing *real* sports, fixing things, and many others. Rather unfortunately, one can't use HECK in the real world to dodge bullets like in the "Matrix" games (or "Max Payne" or "Stranglehold" for that matter), and there are no "extra lives" if one gets hit in a critical area. But let's just assume here that the percentage of people who actually get shot at, as per the total global population (and actually *require* to bullet-dodge, if they even could in the first place) is near to none, okay? Happy thoughts only please! :)

2. Mental AwareNess Of Surroundings ("MANS") : Notice that little dot moving across the screen? Leaving it unattended to may end your (game) life! What'd be worse, is not noticing it at all... it could actually be an enemy trooper, and alien invader, or a giant monster lurking waaaaay in the background, coming right towards you! Avid gamers normally have a great sense of MANS, and notice little changes on the screen, in time enough for them to react accordingly. These days there are many games which are built around dark environments, with low lighting and poor visibility (such as all those horror games and even some shooters such as "Killzone 2") which will test a gamer's level of MANS. Enough can't be emphasized how MANS would be damn useful in real life. Again, not for bullet-dodging... but for really neat "tricks" like dodging dog poo on the sidewalk while chatting with friends during a brisk walk, or even dodging crow crap from the sky! An interesting experiment would be to pit 2 people against each other... a gamer versus a non-gamer... to cross a busy road in the middle of the night ala the classic game "Frogger"... see who survives longest before being squished! The one with a higher sense of MANS would probably survive longer. I'm putting my money on the gamer!

3. Strategic Mindset and, Uh, Tactical ("SMUT") Development : There's a while host of real-time strategy ("RTS") games out there that test a gamer's SMUT development levels. For many "old-timers", it began with games like "Dune 2", and "Civilization" (and many others of course) - which pitted the gamer against the computer (or other gamers) in war or battle scenarios... requiring quick strategic decision-making processes to be executed (and executed well, that is) to ensure survival and/or victory. For now, concentrate on gathering more resources, or increase the weaponry arsenal for an attack? Since all RTS games are in "real time" (duh?) - multiple gamer-made decisions need to be made on the spot, as every minute (or sometimes even less) could pit the gamer in a different scenario, requiring a different tactical move at any given point in time. Kind of like playing chess, only that more than one piece could (and probably would need to) be moved at the same time. Confusing eh?

4. Managerial and Organisational SkillS ("MOSS") : One's managerial skills can be developed through gaming. No, really! Games like "Sim City" (and Sim-Almost-Everything-Else), particularly focuses on managing resources, which range from products and property, to transportation and utilities, etc, etc - making it kind of like a more "peaceful version of SMUT". Sure beats being the city's Chief Town Planner, and screwing up the entire city for real! Even in strategy games that focus on strategic warfare and domination (like those mentioned in SMUT) - one's managerial and organisation skills are still tested - more so, since there's the additional element of survival (or imminent destruction). Why risk reality when you can gamble (and of course, develop yourself further) in the virtual world, right?

5. Improved Language and Linguistics ("ILL") : Speaking from personal experience, I've actually learned quite a lot of "new" words through gaming. When I was a lot younger, I was introduced to the world of "Ultima" on the PC, starting off with "Ultima IV : Quest of the Avatar". That was my first real exposure to the "medieval world" that Ultima presented - and along with it, all the "strange, new words" I never knew. Terms and labels actually. Hey, don't be surprised if some people still don't know what a halberd is!

6. Participativeness as Opposed to Merely Prying ("POMP") - it's YOUR time out! : Watching television and movies (just like gaming, especially when engaged in an overabundance) may also be considered as a vice (yes..."The Stare!"), as continuous viewing turns you into an anti-social couch potato (I'd so love to get me a lazyboy someday!). Also, although it is a known fact that reading is good for you, I personally think that reading for leisure purposes (i.e. fiction) can be as "passive" as watching TV and movies - from the sense that you only engulf youself in things that the writers produce for you. It's almost always about some character's adventures (or misadventures), with you being the "watcher" - drifting contentedly along the plot or storyline that's been fixed for you - unless you read one of those "choose your own adventure" books that provide some degree of choice (...turn to page 291, continue story. Turn to page 320, die). Hey do those things even still exist? Anyway... gaming on the other hand, puts you in the story's leading role. You're the hero (or villain), and you determine whether the princess is rescued or the world succumbs and *pffts* into oblivion. Games with storylines (no, "Pac Man" isn't one of them) are almost always built around certain parameters (no, you can't walk through that wall even if you wanted to) - kind of like stories that are presented in movies or in books. However, you can almost always control the pace, as well as the sub-plots (optional side-missions, for instance?). Not to mention the main plot (good vs evil, fate of the universe, blah blah blah). More and more games are being built in a sandbox, open-world manner, which gives you the ultimate freedom to escape... and call it your very own time-out! What's more enjoyable than that?! :)

7. BrOadening TechnicAl Knowledge ("BOTAK") : Again, speaking from personal experience. Believe it, or leave it.... I had actually broadened my technical knowledge (in computing that is) as a result of gaming. It all started off with the Commodore VIC20 that I received as a reward for doing well in my exams (now that was a looooong time ago! haha!). Subsequently I was "upgraded" to a Cubic 99 Premier, which was an Apple II compatible machine. Next in line (this was over a number of many years okay), it went up to an Intel 80286-based IBM-compatible clone. That's where the fun really began, especially so that during the time - you could tinker around hardware and software configurations, and swap parts and components here and there... upgrading as you went along... and for what purpose? Playing games of course! Back then it was far more challenging to upgrade PCs, since plug-and-play (and a "proper" version of Windows) only came into the picture many years later. The objective was clear... get the latest games up and running. And to do that, upgrading was almost always the only path to take. And the cheapest option back then was to do it yourself. And to do it yourself, you needed the knowledge!

8. A Career in ICT : There you have it. Directly related to BOTAK, gaming can (well... probably...) land you a career somewhere along the ICT spectrum... if you persist enough. When I realized that (at the time), computing skills weren't quite "commonplace" yet, it occured to me that I could actually make use of this knowledge to make me some extra cash. Throughout my college days I did some side jobs fixing up and troubleshooting PCs. Back then, one could make a small fortune from providing such services on a regular basis. I guess I was nowhere close to Michael Dell (although I now regret it!), but it kept me happy for quite a long time. As time progressed, I continued to build up my computing knowledge, which then eventually spilled over into the workplace once I entered the workforce. Although my academic qualifications are nowhere around "Information Technology" or anything of that sort - I made it a personal point to make use of ICT in everything I did at work... and eventually landed myself in a proper "ICT job" in a corporate environment. So I guess being very passionate about gaming isn't all too bad, right? :)

9. Save a Life! : You must think I'm crazy right now, eh? Go and google for "game for good" or more specifically "Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 Charity Weekend". Such things do exist! On a personal level, I am proud to have been a part of it!

10. Save a Relationship! : "No dear, I'm not going to the pub. I'm not going to the club either. The "place" I'm going is predominantly populated by men, and you know for a fact that I'm not homosexual. You know exactly where to find me..".

So that's it... at least ten reasons why gaming may be good for you.

Okay I was kinda bored (there is such a thing as "too much gaming"... see... I'm writing this instead of whacking away at my XBOX and PS3), so please don't take it out on me if you felt that you just wasted your time reading all that gibberish. But it does kind of make sense right? Awww come on... you know you want to admit it. Anyway as they say... take what's good and discard the garbage! :)

So husbands and boyfriends (wives and girlfriends too... I'm not a sexist, despite what the opening paragraph may tend to suggest), if this silly article helped you "justify" your addiction / obsession, "you're most welcome". If not, "good luck". In any case, have a good gameful day ahead!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Woah!'s been THAT long since I bought anything Star Wars! I am so proud of myself! Hahahaha