Archive for February, 2011

When I’m at my most self-critical, I’m well aware of how… human I am. I make mistakes, I don’t always get things right. Sometimes I take it in stride and try to carry on. Sometimes I hide and hope it goes away. I always (eventually) try to make amends and do right by anyone I’ve inconvenienced.

Been a bit of a rocky start to the year, in all honesty. End of year apathy caused me to delay starting some coverage I’d promised someone who’s always done right by us, but I delayed it to the point where my Editor told me it wasn’t worth doing anymore. In a separate instance, technical difficulties and then several other tings piling on at once meant that an interview transcript I’d promised someone else who’s always done right by us didn’t turn up.

The only way this could have been worse is if they’d both worked for the same company. Oh, wait…

Today, I realised I’d made yet another mistake. I’d assumed.

RIFT, a fantasy-MMO from American Company Trion Worlds, is due out within the next week or so I believed, and the early start period starts this evening. As I write this, I’m busy patching the client so I can get stuck in right away. I also went to an event earlier in London to get a brief glimpse of the game pre-launch. The problem is, I didn’t know much about RIFT. Despite being in development for, what three years at least? No one had really come forward to talk to us about it, and whilst I did keep getting invites to BETA sessions, since I didn’t know anything I just assumed it was something that could be de-prioritised.

But I was honestly impressed by what I saw today. So much so that I actually felt shamed in the fact that I hadn’t bothered jumping in before then. If I were to mount some kind of defence, in all fairness there hadn’t been much PR work on the game in the years previous, something they themselves pretty much admitted too. They didn’t want to fall prey to hype. But that’s no excuse – I’d had plenty of time opportunities to get involved and find out, but I chose not to take them. Never Again.

I’ll be reviewing this one myself, so keep an eye out on the site for coverage. I may even do some blogs here. It’s been a while since I reviewed a proper MMO properly. Unless you count APB. Which I don’t. *Shudders*


Today’s edition of Spotted doesn’t actually come with any links I’m afraid, and it’s more of a fore-shadow as I’m not even sure if it’s officially happened yet. Basically, I was asked by two separate PR peeps, for separate games, if they could quote my article for various promotional material. This is a first for me personally, so it’s a little bit exciting

Anyway, the first one was for Men of War: Assault Squad, from my preview:

“Forgive us if we seem to be foaming at the mouth – we honestly haven’t been this excited about a game in while.”

I’m actually downloading the review code for this now, so keep an eye on Strategy Informer for my review. Whilst that quote was a tad hyperbole, since playing the public beta the underlying sentiment has pretty much been proven. This IS an exciting game and I’m looking forward to getting to grips with the whole thing.

The other was from my review of Bulletstorm:

“this is an incredibly welcome breath of fresh air”

Not as hyperbolic, but equally as true. Bulletstorm is crazy fun, and an honest-to-god welcome break from all the military shooters we’ve been getting recently. Not that there’s anything wrong with those, but like a gentle breeze on a hot summers day, sometimes things like these are just a welcome and pleasant surprise. I honestly didn’t think I’d enjoy it as much as I did. We didn’t end up getting review code, but this is one game I may consider buying anyway.

Until next time…


I… What… The Wii? I mean… how… WHY!?

In all seriousness though, whilst this is not that… surprising an idea for a party videogame, I think the thing I’m most surprised about is that it’s a Wii party game. The Wii being the console that brought families and the typical non-gamer stereotypes into gaming and helped created that whole ‘casual gaming’ thing. Are Nintendo trying to widen their market? Change their image? I know this is being made by Ubisoft, but their portfolio is diverse enough to allow for an out-of-the-box game like this, but the big-wigs at Ninty would have had to have approved ‘We Dare’ (Interesting that it’s not Wii Dare), which is why I wonder what’s going on here.

I was a teenager once, I think, and I remember going through that phase where every party game had to have that touchy-feely twist to it if girls were involved. I imagine this is that in a videogame form. It will be interesting to see what their target market really is. I mean you’ve got ‘trendy’ (white) young adults in the trailer, someone on Twitter alleged that this game has been approved for ages 12 and up… I don’t see this being anything but a little weird until things are clearer.

I see this being oddly fascinating, in the way that things that try to push social boundaries and taboos tend to be, but yeah… I… Wow. I did not see this coming.

Until next time.

P.S. I’m told that this game is also coming to the PS Move, which makes a hell of a lot more sense. It also explains the lack of ‘Wii’ in the game’s title.

One of the "shakes with a punch" at ...

Example of what you would have seen

So, I’m back. Shropshire was a bit damp, but fun. Imagine spending a week with ten people you get along with really well, except you’re all bat-shit crazy. Teh lolz just kept on coming. These are all people my mum met in this volunteer community back when she was 18 – they all helped look after homeless people and the like, and I think that’s where she met Dad, but I can’t remember.

Anyway, they’ve all remained good friends pretty much, and every year they spend a week together in some random spot around the country – a week is all they can tolerate. A lot of walking and exploration done on these trips – didn’t do as much walking as I would have liked this year. Being the off-spring of a member of this group mean’t that pretty much from the beginning, me and my brother were regulars on this trip. Oddly enough, we’re the ONLY offspring to have emerged from this group, which is kind of funny.

I had this plan to do a ‘Milkshake Tour’ of Shropshire – last year, when we were up near York, we ended up having lunch at a lot of cafe’s. Since I love having cafe-milkshakes, I ended up having a quite a few over the course of the week, and as a little joke I ranked them in my head going from best to worst. This year I was going to do it more officially, with photographic evidence and write it all up here. Thought it might have been funny…

Unfortunately, due to a betrayal most fowl from my own mother, I didn’t actually get a chance to have any milkshakes for the first couple of days, which gave me plenty of time to think about how, really, it was a little bit silly and probably no one would be interested anyway. Considering also I was coming home early to work, I decided to leave it.

I did end up playing a lot of Crusaders Kings, one of Paradox’s early grand-strategy games with a The Sims-like twist. Since the sequel is coming out in early 2012, I thought I’d get some ‘research’ in and give it rigorous try out, so expect a blog post about that next.

Anyway, it’s business as usual now. Special shout outs go to the eight or so people who kept checking the blog daily – thanks!

Until Next time.

Talk amongst yourselves

Posted: February 18, 2011 in Non-Gaming, Other
Tags: ,

Going to be heading off to Shropshire in a couple of hours – you guys can make do for a bit, right? Just talk amongst yourselves or something. I think there’s some left over pizza in the fridge, I’ll be back before you know it!

Just a quick ‘FYI’ – The February Holiday is something that my mum and her friends started 25 years ago. Basically, no matter where everyone is now, what they’re doing, etc… this group of about ten – 15 friends always rent a cottage somewhere in the UK, and spend a week together. It can be a lot of fun, and personally I hope to be able to start something like it one day.

Anyway, see you guys Wednesday.

Couldn’t really think of anything worthwhile to blog about today. I went into London again to see another game, although I can’t talk about it until March 3rd. Still, saw several people that I hadn’t seen in a while, and after the presentation we all sat around and had a friendly drink and talked shop, amongst other things.

I think that part is my favourite but, just sitting around having a laugh.

From Friday until the following Wednesday, I’ll be in Shropshire on the annual February Holiday, which is something I’ll tell you about later. Basically, unless this place happens to have internet, don’t expect to hear from me until I’m back though. I’m sure you’ll all live.

I was hit by a wave of nostalgia the other day. Started looking up more anime OST’s (Original SoundTracks). I really might as well be an Otaku or something, the amount of J-Pop I listen to. Because, 90% of all anime OSTs are basically J-pop, bar a few notable exceptions. Go on, I dare you to listen to those and NOT be inspired to just go and do something awesome. Anyway enjoy the fruits of my labour:

The Opening Theme for Martian Successor Nadesico, one of the first animes I ever watched after  I learnt what anime actually was.

A random track from that very same show.

The Theme music from a fake anime-within-an-anime show that was meant to parody all of the classic 80’s anime.

The US theme music for Escaflowne. Never really watched it, but I always remembered this piece of music.

I know, I know. What little street cred I had has just been blown out of the water in a shower of giant robots and androgynous teenagers. I bet you all have quirky tastes as well.

Until next time.

I’ve always been fascinated by space. Mainly in a general sense – To my knowledge there’s nothing specific that attracts me to space, and nothing so profound that it made me want to pursue a career in NASA or anything, but I used to love the classes we had on the Solar System growing up. As I got older, I stopped following the real-world developments in space exploration and stuck mainly to my growing love of the science-fiction genre.

Which is why I was so surprised when I kept discovering facts such as there are now several ‘dwarf’ planets beyond Pluto, and that Pluto itself was no longer a proper planet any more due it’s size and the reclassification of what a planet was. They never mentioned that at school. On the one hand, this shouldn’t have been so unexpected – as time goes on and technology improves, not to mention the natural passage of time, new data is uncovered.

But still… growing up, we were taught about the nine planets and the asteroid belt, we were taught what characteristics they all had… that was the universe as we knew it at the time. Now that universe has been changed. I imagine that brief feeling I had at the time wasn’t too dissimilar to how people felt in the past when perceptions about the world were similarly shattered.

Although, my brother told me that someone had made a Facebook group entitled, “Dear NASA, your mum thought I was big enough. Regards, Pluto”. Yeah, I laughed.

Actually, I tell a lie. There is something space-related that left a lasting impression on me. I can’t remember exactly how old I was, but it was probably around ten or so years ago. My mum went through a phase of wanting to go camping a lot in this cheap caravan she’d bought. She still does like to go caravanning, but thankfully when I was old enough to stop going, I did.

Anyway, there was this one caravan site that we went too all the time as that’s where it was stored at the time. One night, when it was clear, I remember looking up into the night sky and seeing more stars than I’d ever seen before, and even some shooting ones as well. IT was breathtaking… but sadly, the next time we went they had installed flood lights which spoilt it – I’ve never managed to get that same view again.

I feel slightly sad, knowing that it’s fairly certain that I won’t see what wonders the future will bring in my life time. I’d be immensely surprised if any significant developments occur in space, like a colony or a commercial station or something. I’d like to think it’s possible though. I’d like to think that, eventually, we’ll get out there and the science-fiction I love isn’t so fictional after all. I guess I always did have my head in the clouds.

Until next time.