Month: September 2015

Pre-ordering computer games is for mugs.

I won’t even buy new games on release day any more.

If the last few years have taught me anything, it’s that games are more and more often being released before they’re ready. It’s long made more sense to me to wait a couple of months after the release, knowing that by then the various bugs will be fixed, and the game will probably be cheaper to.

Granted, I miss out on the pre-order bonuses. But then again – am I really missing out on that much? Why would I pay for a broken/buggy game in a pre-order just to get a shiny digital hat or something? Now, extra content would be more interesting – though then I’d be very irritated if extra content was available as pre-order only. Surely such content should have just made it in to the game fully? Otherwise, it looks to me like a pretty blatant cash grab.

Like many, I do not appreciate being ripped off. And that is the direction that game pre-orders have been going in for quite some time. Now, working as a software developer myself,  I can appreciate that it would be nigh on impossible to squash every single bug. I’ll quite happily over-look little bugs. It’s the game-breaking bugs, or flat out unfinished games that are the problem here.

So – dear game companies*:

Thank you for keeping me entertained for years. But please stop taking the mickey. I don’t think I am alone when I say that I would rather wait a bit longer for your game to be awesome than to get disillusioned when I play something you haven’t had the time to make work properly.

Dear fellow gamers:

Stop pre-ordering. You know this is a problem. Vote with your wallet, and maybe the publishers will start pushing for quality over a crazy short release date.

* Yes, yes – I know there are a very small number of game companies out there who are not guilty of this. There are always exceptions.

Satisfaction

This weekend, I went for an impromptu seaside trip with the bloke. A comment he made was ‘I guess I just don’t know when to be satisfied with what I’ve got’.

Anyways, it took me on an interesting thought path, to me, at least.

Watching the tide come in as the sun sets, whilst drinking coffee, is an experience I'd recommend.
Watching the tide come in as the sun sets, whilst drinking coffee, is an experience I’d recommend.

When is enough enough? As much as I find my own life very satisfying, I’m always pushing for more. I already know that I’m prone to getting depressed if I don’t have something in life to aim for.

I guess the conclusion I came to is appreciate what you have, but don’t ever stop trying to be more. It’s hard to see the point if you run out of goals. May not have been what the bloke was expecting to hear, but I stand by it, since I’m pretty much the same.

I think I also just talked myself out of ever retiring. Oops! Will I ever be satisfied with life? Only when I’m working towards something else, which is probably one of the most circular things I have ever come out with.

My current goal – get revenge on the bloke, since he beat me by 3 points on crazy golf. Inspite of me cheating slightly.

Teslagrad – Review

I’m a big fan of indie games – this is made easier by finding good ones on the Playstation Store for relatively cheap.

One of the ones that came up as free on the store was Teslagrad. This is a 2D platform puzzler that (for me, at least) hails back to the good old days of platformers like Jet Set Willy.

So, on to my review.

Pretty gravity flowers!
Pretty gravity flowers!

The artwork is pretty. You play as a young boy escaping some barbarian hordes, as you journey through castle grounds. The trophies are found in awkward places, which is where a lot of the main puzzle element seems to come in to it.

You pick up some items that help you along the way – some gloves, that will let you charge up certain elements of the environment – these will subsequently allow you to move platforms, charge up bugs, etc. You also pick up some boots that allow for a limited teleport.

Teslagrad gives a nice mix of reflex play, along with puzzle solving. Some of these are hard. I’m having a great time with it (though I have yet to get all the trophies, which are found in the form of scrolls). You get little plays shown to you, which explain what has been going on. That said, the replay value is only there as long as you have yet to find all the trophies.

If you’re looking for something to fill the gaps between the more A list titles, this is a great little game – providing you have the patience to keep trying some of the trickier and speedier puzzles. You will get that ever chased after feeling of satisfaction after completing a complicated area. Even better – if you’re a Playstation plus subscriber, odds are you got this from the free monthly offering in September!

5 Observations of my world – Updated

#firstworldobservations

  • Baby changing facilities – they only seem to appear in women’s toilets or disabled toilets when out and about. Is there an assumption that fathers do not need to change nappies? Or are there unadvertised baby changing facilities in mens toilets? I never go in there to find out. Maybe some blokes can fill me in!
    • Update! A bloke got in touch with me, and said the following:

      And yes there are sometimes unadvertised baby change facilities in the blokes, and sometimes if you follow the signs the baby change is simply in the same corridor as the female toilets. Generally I find the baby change is in with the disabled toilet (not always advertised), but there are still the odd (rare) occasions where there are no male-accessible baby change facilities.

      Good to know! Curiosity satisfied, thanks!

  • Christmas seems to start earlier every year, according to the shops.
  • Food options in restaurants that contain the most cheese are mostly vegetarian. Leaving me wondering if I should start ordering a side of cheese with everything to satisfy my meat with cheese cravings.
  • My flat is disturbingly not zombie apocalypse proof. Plans must be made.
  • When it comes to coffee, my own laziness always beats out making proper coffee. I am a heathen.

Spam Catching!

So, I just realised that I have loads of potential comments in the spam folder on wordpress.

There were too many to go through, so I just cleared out the folder, and I’ll be more careful about checking the spam folder in future! My apologies to any who had genuine comments mixed up in there. I’m starting from a clean slate, so I’ll hopefully be getting more comments approved from here on out.

I’m not a technophobe really, honest! I do need to start paying more attention to my admin panel though!

Why I like to win all the things.

I am my fathers fault. Especially when it comes to my competitive streak.

This started when I was young. He would buy a computer game for me as a christmas or birthday present about a month before the event. Then he would ‘test it wasn’t broken’ every evening after he had sent me to bed. On the day of receiving the gift, he would play against me once on said game. Predictably, he would win – due to all his practice. Then he would promptly retire champion, and never play against me on that game again.

The one exception to this that I remember is Micro Machines 2, on the Sega Mega Drive. My father and I were incredibly competitive on the time trial sections. Shaving 0.01 of a second of the others time was cause for a rather loud victory dance in the living room. Between us, we must have evenly split the time trial records for every track. Our spare time was spent attempting to disrupt that balance by pinching the others record. I never beat his toilet seat record – but he couldn’t beat my bathtub record. My poor older sister just couldn’t compete. In the end, wanting some records for herself, she wiped the records. This could have been an opportunity for my father and I to restart our records, but it just didn’t feel the same. Plus, Micro Machines ’96 was just around the corner, so we had a whole new game to compete at. The latter game just didn’t feel as awesome as the former though, and I don’t think we ever reached that level of competitiveness in a computer game again – partly, I suspect, due to the changing nature of games then. We moved more into single player territory, and the multi-player games were designed very differently.

I think it is these two experiences that make me a somewhat sore loser and rather graceless winner. Being beaten by my dad at a game meant having my face rubbed in his victory until I could surpass it. Winning was the opportunity for revenge. I should probably thank him for helping me to develop that ‘win at all costs’ mentality. But he’d just be all smug about it, and that would be unbearable. I should also admit that I’d probably be the same without my dads intervention, as the feeling of winning is just too awesome.

I’ll stick to just trying to hunt him down on Destiny, if either of us ever pick that game up again.

I am the boss!

A couple of weeks ago, the blokes youngest daughter was asking my permission to do something. The outcome of that conversation amused me greatly.

Littlest one: Can we do *thing* after dinner?
Me: We’ll have to ask your dad. When it comes to you guys, he’s the boss.
Littlest one: But aren’t you the boss of dad?

Well spotted, kid. I admire your powers of observation. 😀 You still have to do what your dad says though. Even if I don’t.

Rocky Horror @The Playhouse, London

Last night, I was out at the Rocky Horror Picture Show in London. Not my first time seeing the live show by any means. As always, it was a great night out, much humour, and the audience participation was top notch. The cast were fantastic, and it was fabulous seeing Richard O’Brien as the narrator. You wouldn’t think he was in his 70s – he’s still got it!

The only disappointment was the poor showing of dressing the part. Seriously, London – I expected you to put Stoke-on-Trent (where I’ve historically seen it) to shame. I only saw one guy dressed the part as Frankenfurter! When I’ve been before, you stand out if you’re not dressed up. Not last night. Still, I feel that I rocked by corset and thigh high boots look, so not to worry! I was there with a couple of ‘virgins’, who told me later that it was one of the best shows they have ever seen.

Signs that maybe I’m getting too old for this – upon journeying home, the feeling of taking off the high heels and putting flat shoes on was the best thing ever. Getting rid of my hold up stockings was also a relief, since my thighs are apparently too thin to hold them up sensibly. Mental note – get a suspender belt for when I go to see the show again in Stoke next year.

Lessons learnt? There is no dignified way of pulling up hold up stockings without flashing fellow passengers on the tube (I was hiding under a long coat for the travelling portions of my night out). Investing in a decent feather boa is also a must, since I was leaving a trail of red feathers wherever I went. I’m still finding the bloody things attached to me even now. Feather attacks are almost as bad as glitter attacks, it seems!

Finally, London – up your game! Let loose a bit more, it’s Rocky Horror!

I miss that old spark

I spend a lot of my time watching play throughs (or playing) some of the old games of my childhood. Sonic the Hedgehog, Brian Bloodaxe, Shining Force, just to name a few. The thing is, however, is that I often come away feeling slightly disappointed.

I miss that old spark of playing something that is truly ‘new’ to me.

I think back to the very first time I played Sonic the Hedgehog at my aunts, and just remember how exciting it was. I’m not sure if it was just because I was young, or if it was the very first time I’d seen something like it – or even if it was just down to fluking the entire first level on my first try.

This is pretty much a conversation I have with my Dad at times. Never again will I be able to get these ‘first time’ moments. Too many of the ideas have already been done. That first time playing Tomb Raider, I remember dropping the joypad when the T Rex that had been hinted at first appeared (Yes, I subsequently died). Marveling at that cut-scene in Final Fantasy VIII, where there are feathers and hair blowing across a field, and thinking that *this* was the pinnacle of graphics. (Ha!). Even laughing at the cheesy dialogue in Resident Evil was a defining moment for me.

I’m not sure if I’m just too old to feel that kind of excitement with a new game, or if I’ve just become immune to the awesomeness that a new game should be. I came close to that old feeling with Dark Souls 1, but it still wasn’t what I’ve been chasing.

I guess I miss the feel of that old spark I used to get with games. Don’t get me wrong – I’ll still blow hours of my life thoroughly enjoying the games I am playing. But that old sense of ‘I’ve never seen anything like this before’ seems to be gone, and that makes me very sad. Games have lost that sense of ‘Wow’, and it’s still a feeling that I chase – and I admit, I’ll carry on chasing it, just because. So, my own main personal ‘wow’ moments are below:

  • Pacman (Atari) – A-mazing.
  • Brian Bloodaxe (ZX Spectrum) – my first introduction to 2D platforming. The bees knees!
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Sega Megadrive) – OMG, cartridges that load almost immediately! No tapes! Gotta go FAST!
  • Dune 2, Battle for Arrakis (Sega Megadrive) – my introduction to real time strategy games. It blew me away. I was always House Atreides.
  • Tomb Raider (Sega Saturn) – my first venture into 3D platforming. What was this wizardry?!?
  • Resident Evil (Playstation) – Possibly the first survival horror game? It was at least the first one I ever played.
  • Final Fantasy VIII (Playstation) – Those graphics. Surely they could get no better?

This list is by no means complete for all my defining gaming moments, but they are the main ones that come to mind when I’m overcome by nostalgia. Think I’ll go download some emulators now and get all nostalgic again.