This update to Ignition gives some much needed love to the blog; adding paging, draft posts, publish date and time, a Markdown editor and a UI refresh of the admin interface. In addition to a couple of other bug fixes, this release blocks .ru and 163.com email addresses from registering. This change may seem heavy handed, but the number of spam entries in my database say otherwise and I would rather do this than force all users to deal with a stupid captcha. If you are a legitimate user in Russia there are many free email address providers.
Sonic Marathon: Sonic Heroes is a bad video game
I started playing Sonic Heroes in March 2015. As speed bumps in the road go, this was a 489 day one for the Sonic Marathon. The problem with Heroes is I disliked it so immensely that I simply didn’t want to play it. I previously said I hated every minute of Sonic 3D, but at least that nightmare was over in a day. Sonic Heroes clocked in at 27 hours of game time, and that’s excluding the many, many hours lost to game overs that don’t count towards the clock.
On the outset Heroes even tricks you into thinking it know what is good about Sonic (it’s the part where you go fast if that wasn’t clear), only for you to realise that as soon as you need precision the game feels like you’re controlling it with chopsticks. The camera is always facing the wrong way, it’s incredibly buggy, switching character can cause you to die and that staple of the Sonic series, speed, more often than not causes you to overshoot into one of the game's many bottomless pits. Eventually I worked out that the best way to not immediately die was to go much slower, which takes away a lot of what I want from Sonic.
What you’re left with is a mediocre 3D platformer with a bad camera. Heroes signature feature is the ability to switch between the three playable characters. Sonic goes fast, Knuckles breaks things and Tails can fly. Sonic is awful at fighting almost all enemies and his speed was only a hindrance to the platforming, so I ended up playing the majority of the game as the other two characters. If the game doesn’t already sound monotonous, you’ll be glad to hear there are four campaigns that offer slight alterations on the formula, but are otherwise completely identical. The campaigns are actually supposed to function as varying levels difficulty, but no where in the game does it explain this and to see the entire story you have to play them all.
As a palate cleanser I completed Mirror's Edge Catalyst.
Everything Heroes gets wrong, Mirror’s Edge gets right. It’s the Sonic game you should all play. The feeling of speed and momentum in this game is absolutely spot on and most importantly, you feel in complete control the entire time. The art style is also absolutely beautiful. They even fixed everyone's major gripe with the first game by removing the gun combat and replacing it with a serviceable combat system.
My only disappointment with Catalyst is it doesn’t really move the needle forward from the original. While they fixed the combat, the addition of an open world doesn’t really add to the game and all the side missions are dull and completely skippable. By the end of the game the open world is just a nuisance that needs to be navigated.
One step forward, one step back.
You should still check it out though, because Sega certainly aren’t going to make a game this good anytime soon.
Part 1: Sonic Marathon: The story so far
Part 2: Sonic Marathon: Shuffle Party
A couple of days ago Gaming with Lemons celebrated its second birthday. Happy birthday open source project!
Since the last major release in October I have been focused on re-architecting the site to resolve the problems that caused us significant downtime in 2015. With the last few minor releases this work has been completed and I'm happy to say the site is now more stable than ever.
When GWL was originally designed the majority of the site relied on live requests to Giant Bomb's API and caching game data was an afterthought that came about when I had to build the collection interface. This turned out to be a mistake for many reasons, the biggest being what happens when the API goes down. The introduction of rate limiting also caused some major concerns, especially when bots like Google would crawl GWL causing hundreds of API requests.
With the changes I've made over the last couple of weeks GWL now uses its cache as the primary data source and retrieves data from the API when it can't find it. To keep this cache fresh I built an incredibly light API crawler. Giant Bomb rate limits at 200 requests per hour per resource, and the GWL crawler only makes 288 requests per day! This means as you use the site you should almost never trigger an external API request. Search is an exception to this rule, as it still uses Giant Bomb currently.
Now that the site is stable I can focus my attention on the more exciting user facing features as we head towards something resembling a 1.0 release. The most highly requested feature is Steam integration, so look forward to that coming soon.
On Tuesday the University of Brighton released a statement about the future of it’s Hastings campus. In the vaguely worded message they spoke about how they would continue to “support the delivery of higher education in Hastings through an evolution of its current provision in the town”. In plain english, Brighton intend to back out of the project in the next two years, reverting the campus back to a University Centre run by the local college. This was finally clarified in an email to alumni today.
I studied at University Centre Hastings, as it was previously called, many years ago and while I had a great experience it always felt like the long term goal was for Hastings to become equal with the other four campuses in Brighton and Eastbourne. This goal finally seemed to have been achieved in 2013 with the opening of the Priory Square building and the official adoption as a fifth campus of Brighton. This week's announcement is a complete step in the wrong direction and a sign that Brighton simply want a quick exit from the town.
The University has apparently made this decision on financial grounds, however in a meeting with Hastings students when Vice-Chancellor Professor Debra Humphris ridiculously generous salary was brought up, she made an immediate departure. The University also claims that the decision was made due to a forecasted decline in 16-17 year olds in the local area, completely ignoring the large population of mature students the campus attracts. Even if this is true and numbers will decline, an institution of this size should brave the storm and come out the other side, not return home at the first sign of rain.
The excuse that low student numbers are to blame is also complete nonsense when you consider the fact that the University controls how their student population is distributed. Instead they have moved many courses away from Hastings and failed to build student halls close by and then pointed at low numbers as the reason for the closure.
As someone who has studied at the campus, owes his job to it, and has friends who both work and study there, it deeply saddens me to see Brighton abandoning our town when things were just getting better. The Hastings campus is uniquely positioned to support single parents and mature students who simply can’t travel two hours to Brighton due to other commitments in their life. Pulling support now is simply abandoning us.
It might not mean very much, but there is a petition you can sign to show your support for the Hastings campus. The least we can do is let our voices be heard.
Big respect for Tim Cook and Apple for publishing this.
This article breaks it down.
An interesting note is that devices with the secure enclave would not be susceptible to this back door.
Update: Or not. Apple says all devices at risk.