Sunday, 7 December 2014

An Apology (To Myself)

I do this thing where I try something new, and if I'm not immediately amazing at it, I get really annoyed at myself.

Although I'm fully aware that practice makes perfect, that doesn't stop me being annoyed. If anything, it adds to my annoyance, because I'm annoyed that I even got annoyed at myself in the first place.

Do you see where I'm going with this?

All of this has basically led to a lot of procrastinating, and generally feeling crappy.

I start something new, and get annoyed because I'm bad at it. I go back to something I used to enjoy, and get annoyed that I'm not as good at it any more.

Team this with having nearly no free time, and things get pretty stressful.

I'm sorry, Sophia. I'm sorry that I put so much pressure on myself. I'm sorry that I haven't been working harder to be better at Python. I'm sorry that I haven't played guitar in months. I'm sorry that I have no time to paint/draw.

Perhaps my new years resolution will be to be more patient with myself.

Or perhaps I could start doing that right now.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Do you remember your first kill?

I posed the question to my colleagues a few days* ago; "What was the first game to allow you to kill another human?". I've been thinking about it a lot since then.

The question came to me as we were playing a shooter. We were so casually talking about killing, dying, and even suicide. What were the first reactions to games that involved "murder"? Were people shocked? Or were they emotionally detached because they didn't look "real"?

For me, I think the first game I played where I could kill fellow humans was the first Grand Theft Auto. I was 7 or 8 years old, and I had a great time. One of my strongest childhood memories is looking at my TV after going on a GTA killing spree and seeing "You have been arrested for Murder One." It was awesome. I don't think I even completed any missions. I just ran around with a machine gun.

Infinity Ward's Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009) sparked significant controversy from one of the very first levels in the game. The optional level, No Russian, had the player shooting down civilians in a Russian airport. This blog is not about COD, but you can read about it more here and here if you so wish :)

Leading on from that, so many "street crime" games (which I use as a general term for games such as GTA and Saints Row) allow the player to kill endless civilians. The police may come after you, but it's only a game, right?

Taken from Saints Row 2. Can I get this as a gif?

This blog post is to encourage you to think about your early gaming experiences. What games did you play? How did you feel when you played them? Did the word "murder" even cross your mind?

I'm still trying to track down the very first game that had killable humans. I'm not talking knock outs, or a character disappearing. I mean VISIBLE BLOOD, at least.

If you have any ideas, please tweet me or leave a commment :)


*at this point, it's more like weeks since I spoke to my colleagues. I've been putting off writing this for a while, mostly due to being busy.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Mini(ish?) Review: Child Of Light

First of all: wow. This game is fantastic. I wanted to share with everyone WHY I enjoyed it so much, so here we are. I'll try to keep this as short and spoiler-free as possible :)



Child of Light is an RPG "arcade" game (I'm not sure what else to call a game that doesn't have the £50 price tag, but isn't just DLC?) by Ubisoft MontrĂ©al. It maybe took me about 10 hours to complete, but would take longer if you wanted to explore absolutely everything. I played it on Xbox 360, so I spent a little while trying to get all the achievements (I succeeded).

This game is GORGEOUS. I loved looking at it. The backgrounds, the characters, the animation, the dialogue images (cutscenes?), EVERYTHING. I could've spent forever moving Aurora around just to see her hair flow.

Dat hair physics.
The sound of this game is also spectacular. In particular, the song I've embedded below filled me with JOY every time I heard it. I'm listening to it as I write this, in fact. It makes me want to skip FLY through a field, but also fight dragons at the same time.


The game's combat system is very interesting, and difficult to explain unless you've tried it. It is turn-based, but there is also timing involved. I, personally, have not seen anything like it in any other game. It constantly kept me on my toes, and I didn't tire of it. The names of the monsters are never shown, and you never see their HP either. I would've liked to have seen their names, at least. I'm sure there's people who worked on the game who put a lot of thought into the names, and it would've been nice to see.

I would definitely play this game again (I love that there is a New Game + option) and I have been recommending it to everyone I see. If you enjoy RPGs, play it! If you don't, still give it a go! It's was a joy to experience and I had so much fun. If you're new to video games, I'd say this is a great place to start out, too. I played it on easy, so there's no judgement here.


Did you like this review? Have you played Child Of Light? Leave me a comment or talk to me on Twitter!

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

A few updates

First of all, I've finished uni!
I'm still okay with my decision to graduate early. Uni was very stressful for me, and I don't feel like it was the most effective way for me to learn. Physics is quite a practical subject, and we spent more time in labs than we did in lectures, but only 20% of the grade is from laboratory work, the rest is from exams. I don't feel that another year would have actually helped me in any way, especially when I'm so keen to get into game development.

I've started teaching myself Python (using my Raspberry Pi)!
This is more difficult than I thought it would be. I've been using online resources, including Dive Into Python, which has been useful, but it's just very difficult to concentrate on coding, when I'm also in the middle of job hunting (ugh)

I adopted a kitten!
Ahhhhhhhh! Okay, I'm aware this isn't tech-related, but anyone who knows me knows that I am a full-on cat lady. I've been living away from home for 3 years now, and I decided that I wanted a little pal. It's been the best decision I've made in a long time! After all the shitty stuff that's happened, having this bundle of energy come into my life has been perfect. I think if I didn't have my kitten to distract me from the real world, I would not be doing so great right now. (If you want to adopt a cat or kitten, I got this guy from the SPCA. They were so lovely and helpful, I just wish I could give all the cats a home...)

For any cat lovers reading, here's some pictures of my new baby, Logan.







Sooo I think that's all the important stuff covered. If anyone has any advice on teaching myself coding/game development, please let me know!

Sunday, 4 May 2014

WildStar beta fun: Part 2

NOTE: This is most certainly written from a noob's point of view. Try not to get too ragey about what you're reading.

Okay, so I've been playing some more WildStar! I did the first few intro quests, and I'm having lots of fun! It's just been tutorial stuff; combat etc. I helped some guy save his pregnant wife, and now people like me. I dunno. It's all very overwhelming

My character is on the "Scientist" path, which means it wants to learn and discover etc. One of the quests I did involved having a "scanbot" follow me around and scan relics...? You can also level up your path, which unlocks rewards. It was quite confusing, but I like how there's different quests depending on if you're an Exile or the Dominion, and what path you're on. I'm sure it will make more sense as I go on.

Aboard The Gambler's Ruin: The Exiles' arkship
I haven't seen much of my Esper class much yet, apart from in the first few combat situations (but the combat is so confusing that I don't know what's going on anyway.) I think it's something to do with telekinetic powers? A magical looking bird thing appeared during battle, so there's that. I've kinda just been pressing buttons.

The controls have been annoying the hell out of me. This is probably mostly due to the fact I'm playing on a 3 year old laptop, but still. I've fallen off of so many ledges.

(1 day later...)
After some fiddling, I started to get the hang of everything and had MUCH more fun. I completed some more quests, and made my way to Nexus!

Leaving for Nexus

Nexus is a lush green planet, but after landing, your character discovers that "the planet is angry", or something along those lines. Either way, there were plants trying to kill me. I got to fight some more powerful enemies, and I even died for the first time while playing! (I think I've got the hang of combat now, too.)

This is the part of the game where the story really opens up, and I can't wait to keep playing. For now, I'm trying to resist, as I'm in the middle of exam season...

Nexus
Long story short, WildStar is fantastic. I love games set in space, so combined with the RPG mechanics, I've been having so much fun. I will definitely play more of this game once it is fully released, and I'm looking forward to see how it performs once I build myself a badass gaming PC.

The beta for WildStar closes at 7pm GMT tonight and the full release is June 3rd, 2014.


Do you have suggestions for more games I should play? Or perhaps you'd like to see more alpha/beta game "reviews"? Let me know :)

Friday, 2 May 2014

Wildstar Beta fun: Part 1..?

I have always liked RPGs. I love everything about them. Most of all, I love how you mould a unique character. You get to live in a fantasy world. I'm a sucker for that kind of immersion.

Aside from briefly dabbling in Runescape in my youth, I have mostly avoided MMOs. There are a few reasons for this. Primarily, the cost. As a kid, I could never afford to pay a subscription, and my mum certainly wouldn't pay it for me. There was the lack of a decent PC. Slow computers are worse than no computers at all. Lastly, MMOs intimidate me slightly. I know that I would LOVE WoW, but the game is around 10 years old, and has millions of players who are much better than me. I feel like if I started playing at this point, I'd probably just die over and over again. (This probably is not true, but I'm still a WoW virgin nonetheless.)

Jessica Nigri's cosplay of a Wildstar Draken (Photo by Martin Wong)

I first heard about WildStar when I heard Jessica Nigri (above) would be cosplaying for them at PAX East. When I saw that VG247 were offering beta keys, I thought, why not? The full game comes out after I finish uni anyway.

I was also intrigued by Wildstar, because the guy (below) on a lot of promotional material reminds me of Ratchet from one of my favourite games, Ratchet and Clank. It made me quite nostalgic.

The Chua: one of the races available to play in Wildstar
So, when the beta realms opened, I immediately logged on (probably not the best idea, seeing as I'm in the middle of revising for my university exams....)

Today I have only gotten as far as character creation. I chose to be on the side of the Exiles. My race is Aurin, my class is Esper, and my path is Scientist (obviously). The game gives a brief description of what these mean, but right now I have no idea of the story or relevance of any of this. It sounds pretty sweet so far, though.

The character creation is very detailed for the face; you could probably make it look very similar to yourself if you tried! I kept it simple. Big eyes, big mouth, and I didn't mess around too much with the rest. I decided to have light blue skin, long pink hair, and purple eyes. I was disappointed that the customisation for the body wasn't as detailed. There were around 10 pre-sets to choose from, all of which had big, giant boobs.... sigh.

My Wildstar character. Obviously I went for cat ears.
I started on the first mission, spoke to the first guy who had an exclamation point above his head, and lost connection. This is probably a sign that I should carry on revising... or that I need to upgrade my PC (which I'm planning on doing later this year!)

I'll try to post more about the Wildstar beta over the course of the weekend. I'm excited to delve into quests, and actually learn what Wildstar is all about!

Friday, 28 March 2014

New peripherals!

Today my new keyboard/mouse arrived!
The comic sans was slightly off putting...
I bought the RII ProMini 2.4GHz Tiny Wireless Keyboard, because I thought it was so cute, and I liked the idea of having a keyboard/mouse combo, so I've got a USB port free. I didn't realise how TINY it would actually be!
Yep... comparing it to the size of my head/looking insane
It feels like the perfect match for the Pi, since it's known for being the credit card size PC! It's all I need for now, while I'm just doing basic commands.
Size comparison with the Pi
So I've told myself that I won't begin playing until summer (after my exams), but I don't know how long that will last. I can't wait to get programming! I'm also really excited to try out Minecraft.

Do you have any suggestions about what I should be doing with it? Let me know :)

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Review of 'Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons'

Official website for the game

Image via Starbreeze Studios

I decided to write a review for this game because it was my favourite arcade game of 2013, and despite it winning the BAFTA for Game Innovation, I still feel like not enough people have played it.

I had no idea what was in store for me when I started this game. I'd heard Burnie Burns talk about it on The Patch, but that was about it.

Controls

The controls immediately confused me. They definitely took some getting used to, but part of the charm of this game lies in the controls. It it a good physical representation of how close these brothers are, and how they must work together.

The player controls both players on one controller. After a bit of fiddling, I learned to control them effectively if I aligned them on the sides of the screen that correspond with their positions on the controller, otherwise I'd end up with two characters wandering around aimlessly.

Image via: http://store.steampowered.com/app/225080/

Storyline

Despite the lack of dialogue, the storyline is very easy to grasp (through a lot of pointing at things from the various characters). It's a simple storyline that we've all heard before in many different forms. A combination of controlling both brothers at once, and the puzzles throughout the game makes a simple tale so engaging. You really want the brothers to succeed.

Puzzles along the way keep the story interesting. Each chapter is exciting and different. It's also interesting how the achievements aren't story based, which makes it possible to complete the game without getting a single G. I felt like this added another layer to the game- it was almost like little side quests throughout! They range from cute things like playing with rabbits, to very dark moments involving a man trying to hang himself.... (That wasn't really a spoiler, don't worry). I really had fun going through and getting all the achievements. (Hint: It's worth interacting with everything you see)

This game was an emotional roller coaster. Without giving too much away, there were parts near the end where I actually teared up. I don't even get like that with movies! (Perhaps that's a testament to why video games are better than movies IMO, but that would be a WHOLE different topic)

Summary

Like I said, this game was one of my favourites of 2013. I loved every second of playing. It was never repetitive or boring, and I would recommend this to EVERYONE.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Another idea for my RaspPi

I was thinking about Twitch Plays Pokemon and wondering if something like that would be possible on a Raspberry Pi.

Then I thought "Hey, I want to play some old N64 games." and wondered if the Pi could be turned into an emulator.

Someone else had that idea too!

So that's another idea about what I could do... Could be fun!

Friday, 14 March 2014

The first step in my Raspberry Pi adventure


So here's my Pi in its little case. I bought a 16GB SD card for it with NOOBS pre-loaded.

But I still haven't decided what to do with it!

I briefly thought about turning it into an aurora detector. I've just built a magnetometer to detect geomagnetic storms in my astronomy lab (a slightly more advanced version of this one), and I thought I could apply the same principles here. It would be interesting, but not very interactive. It would be a case of building it, then sitting and leaving it to run. I want to be a bit more involved than that.

I've also thought about using it to build some very simple 2D games. That could be quite complicated?

Anyway, I'm not going to start playing with it till my exams are all out of the way, but that doesn't mean I can't THINK about what to do with it.

Let me know if you have any suggestions about what I should do with it!

Saturday, 8 March 2014

My first blog post

So it looks like I've started a blog.

I'm doing this because I want to have a record of when good things happen, so I can look back and be happy. I also want to be able to share the good stuff with my friends in a more personal format than Facebook or Twitter.

I haven't really decided how this is going to go yet. It may be posts about a new video game I'm playing, a cool trip I went on, or a new pair of shoes. Who knows.

Maybe you'll enjoy it, maybe you won't.

But it's my blog and I'll do what I want to.

For now, here's an article I wrote recently for theGIST about solar flares and the aurora. I'll maybe be doing more in the future.