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So, this is my big internet debut!

Only 6 days to go before release now, and I’m very excited.  Looking forwards to seeing how people feel about Elizabeth – the women we worked so hard with.

(And it is the weirdest, most peculiar, thing to see your face on video for the first time.  Unnerving as all get out.)

Grey Knight Terminator with Psycannon and Force Sword

Grey Knight Terminator with Psycannon and Force Sword

So, I’m likely getting back into Warhammer 40k after a departure measured in decades – and I’ve decided to go with Grey Knights as they seem to be the favored army right now.  I used to play Eldar (long before ‘Dark Eldar’ or Tau or Necron were things) but the old models are at my mum’s house and I was never any good with them anyway.  Can’t remember ever winning a game, actually…

Anyway – haven’t painted a miniature in so many years and honestly I couldn’t remember if I was any good, or if I only thought I was – but I’m quite pleased with the Grey Knight terminator above – with his Psycannon and Force Sword.  1 down, 15 more to go – one of the advantages of a Grey Knight army – not many minis to paint!

So, yeah.  That’s me – Amanda Jeffrey, Level Designer.  Hearing my own voice is most unnerving.  Not long now until the game is released and on the shelf, and Elizabeth will take her first real steps out into the real world.  That’s my girl.

Go Liz Squad!

Two lady troopers ready to kill alien scum

Two lady troopers ready to kill alien scum and explore the galaxy

I like Games Workshop, and I really like 3d printing – and one day, quite soon, those two likes are going to have an epic battle of their own, off the wargaming table.

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Just a quick post to talk about a dish/food-form called Bunny Chow from South Africa.  Street food has such inventive solutions to the problems of eating on the go (and packaging) and Bunny Chow is no different.

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Wildmax's valve console concept from Polycount

Wildmax’s valve console concept from Polycount, just for fun

So it was announced that Valve will be working on creating their own living room PC – a ‘steam box’ for under the telly.  There’s all sorts of theories out there about it and here’s my own to add to the noise:

This will be a PC-console second, and a cloud-gaming-device first.

Locked Hardware vs. Console Cycle

Consider how limiting and how annoying it is to be tied to the console generation cycle – a cycle that PC owners have thumbed their noses at for decades.  A console is locked hardware – and thus simpler to develop for in some ways than the multitude of different PC configurations out there.  Having a ‘locked’ PC would bring what was a moving target, back into something easier to work with.

So a locked down PC console makes a lot of sense – it will be the easiest to develop for!  It’s got all the ease of developing for the most well known, most openly discussed, least proprietary development environment in the world – coupled with not having to check compatibility with a dozen graphics cards, processors, sound cards and all their permutations.

Cloud vs. Hardware Upgrades

All well and good – but would Valve want to get into the endless race of creating new hardware boxes?  Doesn’t it seem like a business strategy out of step with such a PC-focused company?  Instead, I propose that Valve’s console will be, out of the box, a ‘cloud gaming’ device, prepared to offer as much of your gaming experience via the cloud as your internet connection can handle.

Instead of having to regularly upgrade your console to get better graphics and the next big upgrade in memory and disk-read-speed – instead Valve will be upgrading their cloud hardware, and users will be naturally upgrading their internet connections.  That same connection that enables their Netflix habit, or their Skype chats, will seamlessly improve their gaming experience.

Of course, out of the box, the Valve PC will be a competent PC-console that will be able to play a great many games (no doubt using Big Picture Mode – introduced now so developers can get used to it) but I suspect that’s just the foot in the door.

Cloud Gaming Problems

Of course, cloud-gaming is not without its issues.  It requires some serious bandwidth and hardware on the cloud end of things – something that Valve has been getting used to with Steam.  A few companies made a splash last year with cloud-gaming offerings – then disappearing without much of a to do.  OnLive mysteriously bought itself out, firing most of its staff in the process, while Gaikai was bought out by Sony – an action that won’t have been missed by the big players.

Valve’s no stranger to muscling in to a lightly-tested water, and then just toughing it out until everyone loves them – Steam used to be a dirty word, after all.  But here’s the dream:

The Dream

Everyone and their cousin have their Steam Box under the television – it’s been sat there, quietly whirring away, for years now, except for that one time it was sent for simple refurbishment.  Jenny Random finishes watching the latest episode of something on Netflix, and changes channel to Steam – Big Picture sat there waiting for her.  She picks up the wireless controller and flicks around for a new game to play – finds one and pays for it.  There’s a brief blip of confirmation, and she can start gaming immediately – on the cloud.

The graphics look amazing – she upgraded her internet connection last week (yay for Google fiber!) and the little Steam-box, talking to the Steam Cloud, have detected that and ramped up the settings on all her cloud games to match.  No hardware upgrade needed on her end – it’s all seamless – whatever her internet pipe can handle, Steam will give her.

Kiosk 2.0 from Unfold. Notice the printer inside, the hanging prints, and the bag of all-too-familiar printing-detritus.

I had wanted to create something like this – a mobile, wheeled, 3d printing street-vendor cart!  Called Kiosk 2.0 and created by ‘Unfold Design Studio’ based out of Belgium, the Kiosk combines printer and scanner (and I’d not thought of a scanner when I was making plans) and little bags of pre-printed objects hanging from the shelter over the top.  tl;dr – The ultimate kiosk will include printer, scanner AND recycler – and we’re almost there!

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3 protein cubes on a black plate, served with two condiments in pipettes

Three protein cubes, served with pipettes of condiments

In my ongoing search for sci-fi food that’s not just Gagh or Solyent Green, my mind often returns to the sci-fi staple of protein or nutrient blocks.  I know we can buy a ‘meal in a can’ and energy bars, etc. but they’re all a little too appetizing for me!  Instead, I’ve made some miniature, individual tuna loaves, with coloring.

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So, I have this marvelous theory about what’s happening to the Doctor (based mostly on the events of Asylum of the Daleks) – and it, and the trailer for the Christmas special, lie beneath the cut.

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Sci-Fi Short Glut – True Skin

A vibrant, loud, colourful and wicked sci-fi short set in Bangkok – a mid-future of neon implants and hot-swappable eyes.  Where ‘naturals’ are shunned and hated for the temporary, fragile, disease-ridden creatures they are, and anyone who is anyone is getting newer, better, sexier metal instead.  For one such neo-human, time is running out and he can no longer hide amongst the bustling markets and living streets of a city where everyone is for sale.