Author Archive

WHK01-box-leftSo I play card games now. I haven’t played a card game in years. Growing up I used to collect Pokémon cards (we never played the actual game though, as it was a bit naff), and after that it was Yu-Gi-Oh cars, because the TV show was pretty awesome and we’d just “IT’S TIME TO DUEL” at each other and send everyone to the shadow realm.

That was then, though, and after I went to Uni I didn’t really play anything. Videogames have always been my thing, and most recently my job, but they kind of stopped being a hobby for me, which is probably why I’ve jumped back into board games with so much passion. It helps that I have a good group of friends that I can play with, as well as a local club, but I’m really enjoying having a ‘hobby’ again after such a long time.

Which brings us back to card games – recently I’ve been playing a lot of Warhammer 40,000: Conquest.

It’s an ‘LCG’ from a company called Fantasy Flight Games. It differs from the games I used to play (and current popular games like Magic), because it does away with the booster system. No longer do you need to spend money on packs with a random chance of what you get – instead everything is known. Aside from the core set, thematic packs are released as part of a cycle, and you’ll always know what cards are in them so you can pick and choose what you want to buy, and these packs always come with three of each card so there’s no question of needing to choose whether or not to pick up a second one. On the flip side, it means less cards per faction (there are 7 base in conquest), but it still builds up gradually.

I like it, for the most part, but being involved from a game from the ground up there is one glaring thing that annoys me about it the system – the Core Sets.

Now, this is only my experience with one of FFG’s LCG’s – there are plenty other (Game of Thrones, for example, is quite interesting. NetRunner has a-symmetrical mechanics, and Star Wars is, well, Star Wars, although I find the actual gameplay a bit confusing and boring). The Core Sets come with a respectable amount of cards – not enough to build a tournament deck with only one faction (you have to combine them), but it’s not the end of the world. Still, because some cards in the core set are so powerful and, well, really good to use in a game, its given rise to a situation where players will buy multiple core sets.

I’m offended by this idea on principle – why should I buy a second core set? I get more cards than I really need (since I’m only really going to play a handful of factions); I get duplicates of the other bits and bobs which I definitely don’t need. The plus side is that I get to make a mono-faction deck, but to be honest I shouldn’t HAVE to buy a second core to have that option at launch.

I get it – this thinking is completely on me – but coming videogames it smacks a little bit of ‘pay to win’ because those that do want to spend money on two (even three!?) Core Sets have a decided advantage. Not total supremacy – you can have a good deck but a bad player, after all – but having more versions of certain cards than one core set allows you does come with certain advantages.

But I shall remain strong – there are some people at my club with multiple core sets, so I’m going to play against them as much as possible to try and learn how to deal with the card disadvantage. Plus, I’m banking on Core Set cards becoming less of a thing when Conquest gets onto its second and third cycle (of which there are around 8 packs in a cycle) as well as the ‘big box’ expansions they’ll do from time to time. I’m already chomping at the bit for Howl of Blackmane, the first War Pack in the first cycle (Warlords) – some really interesting cards in that.

But yeah… Conquest. Get it. I might start talking about it a lot more in the future. That and X-Wing: Miniatures Game.

I don’t know what it is, but despite the fact that I’ve barely posted over the last couple of months (and let’s be honest, this year has been a bit of a write-off so far), but I’m still getting 20 hits a day. Who are you people who keep visiting? What do you want? WHY HAVE YOU COME HERE!? I wonder if WordPress is fudging the numbers to make me feel better. Or even feel guilty. “These people come to your blog day in and day out, and do you talk to them? No. Shame on you” Well, I am ashamed. But mainly because, as a self-proclaimed ‘writer’, I really ought to be spending more time here.

As I mentioned in my pre-holiday post, I’ve been rather bogged down with this data-entry job since I was let go in May. It’s soul-crushing work, and to be honest once I finish my quota I don’t really feel like doing anything else on a computer for the rest of the day. I don’t even play many games at the moment – I’ve got a regular Battlefield 3 squad that I play with. All friends of mine from the area… It’s amazing how BF3 still holds up as being a genuinely solid experience. The only thing that lets it down now is the server populations on the DLC maps. It’s rare that I get to play on a map that was added after release these days.

Still, I’m hearing some positive noises about Battlefield 4 now, and with Hardline on the way the price has dropped in the shops, so I’ve picked up a copy to try out slowly while I wait for the rest of my friends to make the leap as well. I’ve only played one match so far online, and the only thing I’ll say is that their pre-spawn menu UI is horrible. I’m sure I’ll get used to it but I didn’t have a clue how to alter my loadouts or anything like that, or even which class I was. Weird.

Project Ascension

Since I haven’t been posting much, there’s only been a couple of blog updates since I officially announced my book – Project Ascension. You’ll be pleased to know (unless you don’t care) that I’ve now officially begun work on the second draft. I’ve had as much feedback as I’m going to get – 3/4 people read the thing the whole way through, while another couple struggled to get out of the first part. I realised pretty quickly that the first part needed a lot of work – potentially I’m looking at a complete overhaul at this point. But I got some positive feedback overall on the important parts of the book, so that’s encouraging. I’ll let you know how I’ll get on.

Job Update

Won’t waste too much of your time talking about this – but I’m doing ok. It was scary for a few months, and that is part of the reason why I took that data-entry gig, but now interesting times are ahead. I can’t talk about it too much (and I don’t want to jinx anything) but I think I’m done with games writing now. Moving into PR/Marketing work more and more, especially with some of the part-time/project gigs I’ve managed to pick up for the coming months. I may still do some writing, but it’ll be more niche stuff and few and far between I reckon. I’m saving what’s left of my writing passion for my book

Boardgames

Can’t remember how much I’ve talked about this, but I’ve gotten more and more into boardgames over the past year, especially since I lost my job. I may start talking about them more on hear as I’m currently experience the same passion for them as I used to have for videogames back in the beginning. Plus I’m also doing a Megagame in March next year, which I’m very excited about. If you don’t know what that is, go Google it. It looks immense!

That’s all for now. I should really get back to work but I know how worried you’ve all been about me.

Until next time.

It’s been a long time. How have you been? What better post to come back to than a post about Scottish Independence! Now that the vote is in, I feel more comfortable talking about it openly. Seeing as in I’m not Scottish I didn’t really have much right to weigh in before the vote. The Scots have long earned the right to decide their own affairs, and they have.

Personally, I’m glad they decided to stick around. This Union of ours has been through a lot together – Founding a new nation (you’re welcome, America), building an empire, a couple of World Wars… so much heritage and tradition it’d be a shame to throw it all away. Plus videogames only recognise ‘posh’ and Scottish as legitimate British accents, so without you guys we’d be kind of boned on that score.

Sure – England conquered Scotland at a point in history and forcefully bound them to the Crown, and later Westminster. That happened. Before that, the Normans conquered the Saxons, who had taken England from the Romans who took it from the Welsh/Cornish before Scotland was even a thing. Whoever created Scotland in the first place would have had to assert his will over the rest of the country… It’s hard to draw a line on this stuff, but I’m glad we’ve finally learned the harsh lessons America and Ireland taught us and allowed you guys to really decide for yourselves what you want.

There’s still going to be a lot of anger over this I imagine – It wasn’t like this vote was a close run thing but there was around 200K votes between the No and the Yes when the final count was in. I’m sorry the Yes people didn’t get the result they desired. Again, glad you’re still here, but I know it’s not what you wanted. I hope Westminster delivers on some of their promises and makes you guys feel more comfortable about being part of this Union.

My own feelings on the matter have been that a lot of things the ‘Yes’ people seemed to want, bar of course the base desire to be a separate nation, could be granted through smarter and more sympathetic devolution so I hope this becomes reality sooner rather than later.

I’m sorry I haven’t been posting as much – been involved in this database project that takes up a lot of my time, but it’s coming to an end soon and hopefully normal services will be resumed after I’m back from holiday next week.

Chin up ‘Yes’ Scotland, at the very least you’ve all made history today. That’s something you can be proud of.

 

 

 

2014 was the year I gave up on my Xbox 360. I’ve enjoyed owning it, and it’s given me some great memories, but over the last 12 months or so I’ve been throwing myself more and more into PC Gaming. My favourite genre has its home here, there’s been a lot more genuinely innovative games here thanks to the rise of self-publishing, and with the announcement of the Steam Machine late last year… I was ready to give up on the home consoles for good.

I didn’t mean to completely go cold turkey, mind. My pile of shame is shameful indeed, and half of the reason me and the missus bought a 50″ TV was so that we could get a visual treat whilst playing on our consoles. For some reason though, I haven’t touched my 360 for gaming purposes since I moved here last December. Haven’t touched my PS3 either but then the PS3 is something I’ve always almost regretted buying, mainly because I never use it much. The 360 was my favourite console of the last generation, but now that the ‘New’ generation is here, as a 360 owner I don’t feel satisfied anymore. All of the ‘cool’ projects are going to be new-gen from now on. At the very least they will be cross-generational, but I firmly believe buying a cross-gen game for the weaker generation is even more pointless than upgrading to the new generation (it’s looking like things will get better, judging by this year’s E3, but I’ll talk about that in another post).

That only really leaves the odd smattering of games that are still being targeted for the last generation, mainly because the install-base is there and proven, while the new generation don’t quite have the numbers yet to keep everyone happy. You’ve got Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel I guess, but I’ve got Borderlands 2 if I really want my fix for that. GTA V is something I’d rather buy on the PC (now that I know it’s coming), same with AC4, which is a cross-gen title anyway. All in all, I’m left with my existing library but I never really feel inclined to dip into it, so I don’t. Everything I *really* want, I own, and I can’t bring myself to spend the money on speculative purchases anymore when I have so many games already.

In February, I received an email from Xbox Support telling me my card details were incorrect, and that my automatic Xbox Live Subscription Renewal might fail. I didn’t feel inclined to rectify the issue, and I resigned myself to losing the only thing I really enjoy doing on my Xbox towards the end, which is playing multiplayer with my friends. Mainly Battlefield 3. That was four months ago, and all I’ve really done is play on my PC and twiddle my thumbs waiting for more Steam Machine news. Looks like I’ll have to wait until next year now, which is annoying, but what can you do.

Then I lost my Xbox 360 headset.

Well, firstly my best friend said he wanted to start playing Battlefield 3 again, then I realised I’d lost my headset when I went looking for it. Another friend of mine just got a 360 again (long story), so we’re going to surgically insert a copy of Battlefield 3 into his machine. To top it off, looking through my bank statements (for a different reason), I suddenly realised that my renewal payment HAD worked. My annoyance at losing out on 3 month’s worth of Xbox Live time, and free games, was quickly replaced by weird sense of joy and nostalgia as I realised maybe it was time to dust the ol’ gal off and take her for a spin once more.

Of course, I still had no headset, so I made what I suspect will be my last investment in my Xbox 360, and bought a new one.

Actually, I bought a ‘GioTeck Elite Essentials Kit’ for the Xbox 360 from Tesco. It came with a new headset, a HDMI cable AND a rechargeable Battery pack with charger cable. My last Charger cable broke years ago, so this was appreciated – all for £15! In contrast, headsets alone for the Xbox One were retailing for £50 – 80, depending on what type you got. Another reason I’m not adopting new-gen now (if ever) – the pricing of everything.

So, for now, my 360 has been given a breath of fresh air. Will be on Battlefield 3 tonight, and who knows? Might even start looking at some of the other games I’ve got lying around as well. I spend too much time on my PC as it is, so perhaps doing something different for a bit will be healthy. But if I still need my XBL Subscription come February next year, I’ll be surprised. Eventually, it’ll have to go in its box for the last time. What I’ll do with it, I don’t know… I still have my GameCube and my N64 in our loft, but then again I might just trade it in. My missus has a 360 as well, so we don’t really need to keep both, at the end of the day.

Hello, old friend. It’s been a long time.

Well, this is rather exciting. Last year, I told you guys I was working on my first novel, codenamed ‘Project Author’ (I have a great imagination). Yesterday, I was proud to announce that I’d officially finished the First Draft of that book, and I’m here to share a few details with you now, and to lay-out the plan for the coming weeks. So, without further ado, please say hello to Project Ascension.

Ascension” is the current working-title for my book, which is a series of four (for the moment anyway, that could change). I haven’t decided whether I’ll just call the series ‘Ascension’, and name the books something else, or maybe have a subtitle e.g. Ascension: Awesomeness or something like that, or simply keep it to Ascension: Book One etc…, those are questions for another time, but the meaning of the word, and the theme, are fairly important to the book’s over-all plot, so I’m keen to keep it in.

If you were to go into a book store, you’d find Ascension in the SF/Fantasy section. Online, it’d be labeled under ‘Science-Fiction’ and/or ‘(a)Historical Fiction’. My goal with this series was to create something that would surprise people, that they wouldn’t be able to see coming, and I hope I’ve done that here with the first book.

Test-Readers

Do you want to be a test reader? I’ve already got some people ‘on the books’ that I’ll be sending a copy out too, but I’m keen to get as much feedback as I can. Obviously I’ve mentioned genres above… my only advice is to take those with a pinch of salt. I can’t really explain why the genre of the book is a little more complicated than most books without giving the game away too much. If you really don’t think you’d be interested in reading it though, don’t worry.

If you’re interested in test-reading my book, you can hit me up on Twitter, or email me: joe@just-communication.co.uk

I’m going to be taking a break from Project Author now for a few weeks, concentrate on career a bit, and just let the feedback collect for a while. It’ll be difficult, as I’m already itching to start changing things and making it better, but I’ve got other stuff on my plate to worry about right now anyway.

Let me know if you have any questions, and let me know if you want a test copy of the book! It’s in .PDF format, so make sure you have something you can read it on.

 

Hello!

This is just a quick update for anyone who’s interested on my job situation. It’s fairly straight forward, but I know my circumstances has seemed a little confusing in the past, especially considering my ‘official’ move to freelancing back in 2012. Anyway, here we go:

* As of this week, I’m no longer Marketing Manager for Strategy Informer. You could think of this as a ‘contractor’-like set-up, as even though I used that title (because it was simple), I wasn’t really ‘employed’ by the company because it made dealing with the HMRC more straightforward. But role has run its course now. If you’ve ever dealt with me in a capacity related to ad-sales or marketing, I’m afraid I’m no longer your point of contact. Please email Kres@strategyinformer.com and he’ll sort you out.

* I’m also, unfortunately, not going to be doing any freelance writing work for Strategy Informer in the foreseeable future. If you’ve thought of me as the ‘strategy-guy’ for Strategy Informer, or as someone who you’d generally like to see do coverage of games for that outlet, I’m afraid I can’t help you any longer. Please contact Jamie@strategyinformer.com from now on.

Moving forward

So, from today, I’m officially ‘back’ on the Job market, in the sense that I’m more actively seeking more work. I know I’ve been freelancing officially for a couple years now, but that tailed off slightly over the last 6 months or so as I got more involved in a specific project for Strategy Informer. With that work complete, I’m now ready to move on to bigger and better things.

I’ll be contacting editors again over the next week or two, trying to be more active in my dialogue with you guys, but if you want to get in touch with me my contact details are below. I’m still going to try and keep freelancing, but I’d also happily consider a more stable job. I have a mortgage to look after now, after all.

Things I Can Do

You can see my full CV on the ‘Employment‘ Page, but here are some things I’m confident I can do for you:

* Write.
* Sell your webspace to people.
* Podcasting, Streaming and more of this new fangled stuff (I have a guy).
* Events – I’m close enough to London that I can attend events if you need someone. I can be your guy.
* Think – I’m actually very good at thinking. On a serious note, I have been asked to creatively consult before (Creative Consulting is a thing).

Contact Details

You can get in touch with me through various means:

Email: joe@just-communication.co.uk
Twitter: @DigitalXentric
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/joe-robinson/20/8ab/394