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Art Friday : - Of Star Wars Concepts, Russian Propaganda Posters and More!

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InertGreyMatter is one of the recent finds from the Singaporean blog aggregator Showcasing a selection of graphic design works, photos, architecture, music (mainly downtempo, minimal, deep house) and of course my favourite illustrations and concept art.

Didn't really notice InertGreyMatter at first due to the enormous amount of blogs in these days. The first post that caught my interest was the link to a collection of Ralph McQuarrie's concept art for Star Wars.

After browsing through the entire archives, I have compiled a list of my favourite posts over at InertGreyMatter.

Museum of Russian Posters


© Matthew Woodson

Los Ladrones Decorazones by Matthew Woodson

© Clayton Crain

Clayton Crain - I love skulls!

© Florent Sacre
Rayman Raving Rabbids Artwork by Florent Sacre

© Jerome Castro

Jerome Castro

and more ...

Bausch & Lomb: Eye Test
Pultius TV Remote Control
Taktshang Monastery, Bhutan
Build Your Own Chicago Downloadable Papermodels

Hopefully, the above recommendations have piqued your interest in InertGreyMatter :D

Since I often approach art from a gamer's perspective, it's nice to discover lots of beautiful stuff that I could never find on my own. I'm not too keen on posts in other categories like architecture although I must admit graphic design and occasionally photography do have their attractions like Hellohikimori's website which showcases some of their cool works and comes with a nice splash screen (below - too bad it's only shown for a few seconds) as well as a rocking tune 'Cross The Line' by UK breakmeister Elite Force.

Max Grundy - Fear is The New Beauty
Junny - Japanese Illustrator
Simone Legno - Tokidoki
Art. Lebedev Illustrations
Shin Tanaka's Spiky Babies & Mask Hoodies

Games Thursday : Filler (Puzzle Game)

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Filler is a fun little strategy game for those short two to three minute breaks. Developed by Alexander Vikulin back in 1995 for both Windows 3.1 and Windows 95, Filler places two players (human or AI) on different ends (configurable) of a playing area of 1377 hexagons coloured in up to nine different colours (default is 9 colours but the number of colours can be set from 5 to 9).

Each player takes turns to select a colour from the colours on the top bar which will then add any adjacent hexagons of that colour to your territory as well as change all hexagons in your territory to the selected colour. Whoever occupies more than 688 hexagons first wins!

-40 hexagon difference between me and the AI

The only catch is that you cannot choose the same colour as that selected by your opponent in his previous turn. This rule actually allows players to play defensively and deny their opponent from occupying large number of hexagons of a certain colour in the next turn, thereby maintaining their numerical advantage (or reducing their disadvantage if they are on the losing end)

Major victory by the AI again!

The ability to think far ahead, expand agressively on multiple fronts and play defensively are essential skills to win consistently at this game. Luck does play a considerable part in this game as a lucky player can grow very fast during the crucial first few turns. Since growth is proportional to the number of hexagons along the border of a player's territory, it's possible to achieve an almost unbeatable numerical advantage over the hapless opponent after several turns - I usually start a new game when I'm have a -100 difference with my opponent :D

Download Filler (32 bit) from Alexander Vikulin's homepage (right bottom) or if you're running Windows 3.1, the 16 bit version from Theodor Lauppert's Game Gallery where I first found this game. Theodor Lauppert's pages happen to be an excellent resource if you're interested in classic puzzle games :)

NOTE: Filler does not appear in the Windows taskbar so after switching to another application, you'll need to Alt-Tab back to it and close it with Alt+F4 or click on the door icon (fifth icon from the left) after playing.

Wodan : The Trial
Bubblets - Jawbreaker for Windows
Vantage Master Online
Peoples' Tactics by Victor Reijkerz

Wallpapers Wednesday : Neo Contra Wallpapers

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Wallpapers from Konami's Neo Contra game. I like the stylized lineart in the following wallpapers, plus I'm a sucker for characters (Genbei Jaguer Yagyu) wielding katanas :)

© Konami

A total of 5 wallpapers are available at 1280x1024 resolution only. Download from the official Neo Contra page.

Read more about Neo Contra at Wikipedia. The cover art for the North American and European versions of Neo Contra were drawn by comic artist Jim Lee. Not sure if the above wallpapers were also drawn by him though...

Konami Games Wallpapers
Cell Factor Wallpapers & Artwork
Metal Wolf Chaos Wallpaper
Metal Slug Complete Wallpaper

Military Tuesday : Thompson Encore .45 Single Shot Pistol

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Another of those interesting-looking weapons that I discovered from games. See, games do teach you stuff :D

The single-shot Encore pistol was one of the more exotic firearms available in the expanded virtual armory of the JA 1.13 mod for the tactical mercenary game Jagged Alliance 2 (more about JA 1.13 here - Part I, II, III). Images of the Encore from the JA 1.13 mod.

Although the in-game mercenaries aren't limited to standardized firearms as in regular army forces, using exotic weapons like the Encore wasn't a very good idea in game. Apart from it being a single shot hunting weapon (albeit for big game) in real life, the scarcity of the ammo - in-game: .454 Casull, real-life: .45 Colt, as well as the logistical nightmare of managing multiple characters with weapons requiring different imcompatitible ammo types make cool weapons like the Encore practically useless from a military standpoint.

The Encore pistol is currently being manufactured by the American company Thomson/Center Arms Co. Pictures below are taken from page 15 of their PDF catalog.

© Thomson/Center Arms Co.

An account in the catalog states that it's accurate to 300 yards which is several times the effective range of an semi-automatic pistol like the Beretta M9. Then again, it's single-shot and intended for hunting big game which don't shoot back :)

The Encore also reminds me of a similar single-shot pistol used by the villain in the Stephen Chow's superspy spoof From Beijing With Love.

Download the 2007 catalog (55 MB) or read more at the official site. Airborne Combat Engineer has a post on Gary Reeder's Custom Mini-Beast Encore which comes chambered for even bigger calibres.

De Lisle Commando Carbine
M4 Carbine Accessories
Zacca 1/6 Guns Collection & World Weapon Collection

Random Monday : Learning Your A.B.Cs with Viva Caligula

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While there are many ways to learn your A.B.Cs, this must be one of the more unconventional and possibly the bloodiest method of learning the English alphabet.

Clearly inspired by Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, better known as Caligula, Emperor of ancient Rome and allegedly an insane tyrant. His supposedly depraved character was the subject of the shocking 1979 film and now in this (literally) bloody Flash game from adult swim.

Over in Viva Caligula, you control the mad tyrant himself as he cooks up some half-baked excuse that his fellow Romans have rebelled against his rule and then goes on a massacre of both defenseless civilians and heavily armed legionnaires alike, simply because he can.

Armed initially with a lowly dagger, Caligula sets forth to collect 25 other weapons hidden in 7 different districts split into 97 zones (yes, I counted). The name of each weapon starts with a different letter of the alphabet which means that this cunningly-disguised educational tool actually helps you refresh your A.B.Cs since you need to press that key to activate that weapon (admittedly, most of the words are non-English or absolutely useless in real life like the word "Xyston"). On top of that, it also helps you remember where all the letters are found on the keyboard :D

Weapons range from those commonly found in the Greek or Roman armory to incredibly bizarre stuff like ... you'll have to play the game to find out since that's one of the highlights of this mad little game.

After collecting all 26 weapons, you get to enter his palace and if you have seen the film before, you already know what perversity lies in wait inside those walls.

We're about to enter his palace. Minors not allowed

Definitely not for kids or for those disturbed by excessive blood, unnecessary violence and pixelated nudity in their entertainment. You have been warned!

Play Viva Caligula or read Play This Thing!'s review. Many thanks to Gnome for pointing out the excellent Play This Thing! site to ignorant gamers like me :D

Boxhead - More Rooms Zombie Shooter
The Last Stand & The Endless Zombie Rampage & Crimsonland
Kane & Lynch Trailers
Death Worm 1.04A - Be a Death Worm!

Art Friday : Max Grundy - Fear is the New Beauty

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Max Grundy illustrates a bleak world tottering on the brink of a nuclear holocaust.

His art style is striking and powerful and portrays both our real fears or imaginary ones perpetrated intentionally by today's mass media, mainly in harsh and brutally effective red and black colours.

© Max Grundy

From top to bottom:
Atomic Coupe 2007.
Nucleomituphobia 2007
Berlin Burnout
When The Bombs Drop 2005

A recurring theme of classic hot rods, nuclear weapons, anonymous masked individuals, flames and political/ideological symbols like the Communist Red star and German Iron Cross feature prominently in his artwork. However fear and despair does not emanate from these symbols of fear as Max Grundy explains in his artist statement:

My creation blows up the daily powers of fear to an extreme ratio, then puts this spectacle into the
gallery environment. When the viewer sees it in this situation, it will become a tangible thing made of shapes and colors, instead of the specter of fear. It now becomes isolated. The threat is neutralized, maybe turned into a novelty. The fear is now a form of entertainment for the public.
The above quote also justifies why the slogan "FEAR IS THE NEW BEAUTY" is emblazoned in bold letters all over his official site at :)

First encountered his distinctive artwork over at deadlicious Rock'n'Roll Patisseries's first post featuring the cover artwork of DicE Magazine Issue 14 done up by Max Grundy himself. A similiar artwork exists in his gallery as Traumatophobia (2007).

© Max Grundy

Check out Max Grundy's gallery or his online store for prints or t-shirts adorned with his artwork.

DIA Military Art Collections
Keith Thompson - Illustrator
Free BioShock Artbook
Adrian Smith - Warhammer 40,000 Illustrator

Games Thursday : Death Worm 1.04

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In this game by JTR, you play a ravenous death worm. Or a lazy death worm for that matter, since it doesn't penalize you for skulking under the surface of the desert for the whole day if you really insist on doing that :D First read about this game from the article Death by Annelid by Thaumaturge in the free, primarily adventure gaming magazine Adventure Lantern Oct 2007 issue recommended by the Gnome.

As a death worm (perhaps a Mongolian death worm), your objective is to accumulate as much meat as possible by consuming all lifeforms above and below ground to both grow in the size as well as to enter into the highscore table :D


Flying worms (above) and flying tanks (below)


You manuever the death worm by pointing its jaws towards its unsuspecting prey using the left and right cursor keys and accelerate by alternately tapping or holding the up cursor key. By tweaking the speed, you can either burst out from the sand, devour any animal in its way and then crash back into the sand to relative safety or skim along the ground surface to swallow anything in your path. Press Q to turn off screenshake if it's too disorientating.


It's raining food :D

As the game progresses, humans and otherworldly creatures take the place of the defenseless animals originally populating the area. Escorted by their weapons of war which are both dangerously explosive and highly inedible, they make dangerous prey. As eating replenishes your health (health increase is proportional to the size of your victims), you'll soon realize that snacking on tiny yet progressively more heavily armed humans does little for your well-being (and high score).

The game of course, ends when your worm dies, which is usually around ten minutes for me :(

Download Death Worm 1.04.

AliensRL Roguelike Game
Samorost 2 Point & Click Advenutre

Wallpapers Wednesday : Chaos Space Marines Wallpapers + Japanese Codex Download

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New official wallpapers for my favourite army in the Warhammer 40,000 - the traitorous Chaos Space Marines.

10 wallpapers are available for download from Games Workshop US. The classic wallpapers for each of the Traitor Legions are still downloadable from Games Workshop UK. Interestingly, one of the new wallpapers released is the top portion of the artwork Daemon Prince Dhar'leth by Karl Kopinski, the bottom part having been issued as a wallpaper on the UK website a long time back.

The new wallpapers seem to be using rehashed artwork from the time of the previous codex though :(

© Games Workshop

From top to bottom:
Ahriman (Thousand Sons)
Typhus, Herald of Nurgle (Death Guard)
Kharne The Betrayer (World Eaters)
Lucius The Eternal (Emperor's Children)
Daemon Prince Dhar'leth (Black Legion?)
Chaos Predator
Chaos Rhino
Cover Artwork of the new Chaos Space Marines Codex

The Japanese version of the latest Chaos Space Marines Codex (106 pages) has been put up for download from Games Workshop Japan in 4 parts - the first PDF being the cover pages.

P01-63 contains the army lists, information on special characters as well as Legion colours. More Chaos Space Marine colour schemes over here. Love the look of the Lords of Decay (left), The Reborn (centre) and Brothers of Darkness (right).

© Games Workshop

P64-80 comprises photos of the new Chaos Space Marine miniatures like the new Chaos Spawn minis. The new Possessed Marines also look much better than the old ones IMHO.

© Games Workshop

P81-104 contains unit and weapon info and what looks like suggested army lists.

Download wallpapers from Games Workshop US and Games Workshop UK or the Japanese Chaos Space Marines Codex.

Adrian Smith - Warhammer 40,000 Illustrator
Karl Kopinski - Warhammer 40,000 Illustrator
Andrea Uderzo - Warhammer 40,000 Illustrator
Cute Warhammer 40,000 Avatars
Golden Demon Chicago 2007 - Primarch Galore!
Warhammer 40,000 Vehicles in Lego

Military Tuesday : Conquer Monte la Difensa in Devil's Brigade Lux

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Devil Brigade Lux is a promotional game created by Sillysoft, makers of the Java-based Risk clone Lux Delux, for the TV series Devil's Brigade. In the Devil's Brigade TV series, modern Special Forces troops from the US and Canadian Army train in the methods and equipment of the WWII First Special Service Force to re-enact one of the FSSF's most famous missions in Italy.

As the game title implies, it's a variation of Lux Delux, therefore gameplay is based on rules similiar to Risk. Set in a custom map (61 territories) of the area around Monte la Difensa (Italy), you play the role of a commander of Allied troops (actually the First Special Service Force) as they attempt to wrest control of the mountain strongpoint from German hands.

Historically, elements of the First Special Service Force conquered Monte la Difensa in their first combat mission in December 1943 after two frontal attacks by US troops were bloodily repulsed by the well-entrenched Germans. Read more at Devil's Brigade TV site.

© Sillysoft

In Devil's Brigade Lux, the turn-based play is structured in phases. Players of Risk will immediately feel at home :D

  1. Exchange card sets for extra units. Press Ctrl+D to view cards.
  2. Allocate your new units. Bonus units awarded when specific regions are controlled. Press Ctrl+B to view bonus regions.
  3. Attack by left-clicking on a friendly region to select the region to attack from and then left-clicking on an enemy region to attack it. Move your victorious forces into conquered region.
  4. Fortify your regions - Right-click to move all units to another region or manually move units by left-clicking.
While the pretty graphics and polished interface are certainly welcome, hardcore armchair generals will probably find little to satisfy them as there isn't much variation in tactics required as there's usually only two fronts at any one time.

© Sillysoft

However, it's still great for occassional short breaks as it takes less than 30 minutes to complete each session. Challenge yourself at the higher difficulty settings or attempt to break your own records in completing the game with the lowest number of turns or casualties possible.

The original Lux Delux (demo) should be quite interesting for Risk fans though. I haven't tried it out yet since I'm absolutely crap at the actual Risk boardgame.

Download Devil's Brigade Lux. (Windows, Mac and Linux)

Wodan : The Trial Game
People's Tactics Game
Vantage Master Online Game
Act of War : Direct Action Demo Impressions

Random Monday : MP3 Samples of Some Older Electronic Music Faves @ Juno Records

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Juno Records, one of my favourite online record stores for electronic music, has finally made its entire back catalogue searchable. Previously, users could only search for out of stock records and CDs released in the previous one or two years.

With the newly opened back catalogue, I can now preview and positively identify tracks of older releases that I hear in downloaded mixes as well as complete my wishlist of the classic tracks in genres like drum & bass that I've only recently began to listen to. Unforunately, some of these tracks are only available on permanently out-of-print vinyl athough some tracks still have digital downloads :D

Most online record stores use streaming audio for preview but Juno Records allows users to directly download MP3 or WMA samples before previewing, which is perfect for users with slower connections or for offline preview.

Thanks to its pleasing and extremely user-friendly interface as well as its efficient search feature, I use it regularly together with and Discogs to discover and identify electronic music tracks. I have downloaded MP3 samples of most of the tracks on my wishlist so it's easy for me to decide what to buy when I save enough :D

Although their prices are very competitive, their shipping charges for vinyl to SG are slightly higher than the other online record stores like SoulSeduction and Chemical Records that I have shopped before. The CDs (including shipping) are usually cheaper than HMV at Heeren though.

Some of my favourite tracks from a few years back with links to 1 min samples at Juno Records . Take a listen, you may find something nice in the following lists :)

Cass & Slide - Opera (Phantoms Mix)
Way Out West - Mindcircus
Gus Gus - Believe

Drum & Bass
Uncut - Fallin' (Total Science Dub)
LTJ Bukem - Suspended Space
LTJ Bukem - Watercolours
4 Hero - 9 by 9 (Remix)
Technozoide - Esfera
Big Bud - Indian Summer

Laurent Garnier - Greed (Fabric Lig Remix)
Ken Ishii - Iceblink (Beat The Strings Attack Mix)
Cricco Castelli - Buena Vista (Audio Drive's Formula 1 Remix)
Alan Barratt - The End (The Witch Doctor Remix)
Green Velvet - Flash (Danny Tenaglia's Nitrous Oxide mix)

Jay Denham - Smoker's Delight
Redhead vs Alexander Koning - Redhead vs Alexander Koning (Redhead Remix)
Richard Bartz - Subway
Technasia - Evergreen III
Gary Martin - Cosa Cougat (Original Mix)
E-Dancer - Pump The Move

Haven't been listening to breaks and breakbeat stuff for a while but here's some of my old favourites.

Fatboy Slim - Retox (Freq Nasty Remix)
BLIM - Dust
Leftfield - Afrika Shox

Keith Tucker - Alien Radio
Chaos - Afrogermanic
Dopplereffekt - Speak & Spell

Resident Advisor Podcasts
Orange Mixer - Make Your Own Electronic Music
Best Practice 1.01 - Speed up or Slow down Audio
Ken Ishii - Extra MV