My Love Affair With Skyrim, Life's Great Teacher!

I've been enjoying my adventures in Skyrim since its release in 2011. I've made just about every character type imaginable and explored just about every nook and cranny of the map. Something about Skyrim speaks to me on a very deep level, just as the previous elder scrolls games have. However I've never really understood why Skyrim has made me feel so at ease while playing it. Yes it's a great piece of escapism, whisking me away to a rich fantasy world, but it's more than that. It's a lifestyle! It's my lifestyle.

The western world relies heavily on a goal orientated lifestyle. It's drilled in to us to achieve and compete. Work hard, buy a house, buy a car and be sure to out do your friends and family as you earn your way into a fulfilling life. There are many games that share this structure. They are normally linear, judge you based on how fast you can achieve the objectives placed out for you and really only offer you one ideal way to approach each task. Pretty much any linear FPS like COD for instance. The thing I love about a game like Far Cry 3 for example, is it just gives you its strongholds to tackle however you see fit and it's an extremely dynamic and interesting encounter every time. But I feel in the western world we are generally so directed.

I've always approached life in a different way, "going with the flow" you could say. It's not that original of a concept but it works for me. Forget the end goal, forget competition. Just pick a direction and as long as your not standing still, happiness will find you. In Skyrim, from the outset you can do this. There is no ultimate goal, there are no end credits. You just pick a direction and set out on an adventure. No matter which way you go you will find something fun to do, people to meet, ruins to explore and creatures to fight. If you run into an obstacle you cannot pass without pain and misery, a giant for example, you just pick a new direction and move on. I feel whenever we hit an obstacle in life, it's just life's way of telling you, you're heading towards something less than ideal. Perhaps it's not time for you to be going this way. The more you struggle against it, the more you fight the flow and the more pain and misery you introduce into your life.

I believe as long as you're enjoying what you are doing in the moment, you are following the right path, no matter what you are told by others. It doesn't mean you should always take the easy path, the challenging paths can be the most fun. My second favorite series of games are the Souls games for instance. Also laziness never really brings happiness either, you just kind of stand still, not really heading anywhere.

I'm sure everyone has their own view on how to approach life and it may or may not work for them, but Skyrim has been a great teacher for me and how I can live life happily. Perhaps now I can return to Ground Zeroes and just play it how I want to and let go of the outcome. Just as you can return to the giants in Skyrim and kick their butts once you've become stronger from your travels.

Now excuse me as I continue down my path of adventure and wonder.

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Focus Your Energy, Young Padawan (Damn you steam sales)

"Size matters not. Look at me." Yoda don't give two shits about the size of your steam library.

I want to start this blog by saying one thing, damn you steam sales (and by definition Humble Bundle pay what you want deals!) My problem is that my steam account is becoming horribly bloated with games I've bought on sale for less than $10. Screw backlogs at this point, my steam library is a landfill full of decent games I will never play.

I look at the steam sales on The Swapper and Gunpoint and think to myself, hey those games are sure to be good. Then I think to myself, I've just bought 5 other games in the last sale that I have yet to touch (State of Decay, Zeno Clash 2, Trine 2, Shadow Warrior and System Shock 2). Finally my head explodes while contemplating the 200 out of 357 games on my steam account I have yet to even play. That's not even considering the 3DS games I have yet to finish and games I've bought on the consoles yet to complete.

When did gaming become such a nightmare for me? Oh that's right, it's when I got a job and could buy all the garbage I ever wanted. I've mentioned this backlog stuff in the past, but I think I know what the final piece of the puzzle is. Turns out the childhood dream of buying as many games as I ever wanted backfired horribly to the point that I enjoy games less now. They say money doesn't make you happy, but perhaps in a lot of cases it makes you unhappy. When I was a kid, back when buying a new game (or even a preowned game from a bargain bin) was the most exciting shit ever, gaming was at it's best. The saying "Less is more" is no joke. It's time to stop filling my life with garbage and focus on the stuff that matters.

"Size matters not. Look at me." Momo don't give two shits about the size of your steam library.

Focus, it's how we get shit done and done well. You can't do well at anything if you are trying to do everything. As a kid you are forced to focus on what you have because the only time you get new stuff is on your birthday and Christmas over the course of a year. It forces you to form a bond with the games/toys you get, they have meaning. This Christmas I went a bit nuts buying my family gifts and they did the same for me. What happened was despite all the gifts being great, we lost track of what we got and in turn diminished the value of the gifts. It's time to learn a little focus.

Just as the GB crew mentioned in their top 10 lists, 2013 was a weird year. I can't say many movies came out this year that interested me much but I really enjoyed a few of them, that's all I needed really. Not many 2013 album releases blew my socks off but man did I enjoy AMOK. Not many new TV shows grabbed me but thankfully I discovered older shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender, Buffy and Angel which all would easily fit on my favorite shows of all time list. The games of 2013 didn't really interest me that much either, yet I still bought and played 26 new games and purchased god knows how many cheap games from other years. Gaming is my problem.

Now it's time for the hard part: admitting you were wrong. By that I mean I was wrong; my conclusion was wrong. I think I now know the true reason why I don't enjoy playing Zelda. Once again I look at Dark Souls, a game that is far more tedious and troublesome to play. I focused on Dark Souls, it took me 60 hours to finish but I loved every second of it; well no, not every second... that game can be real nasty. The difference being, I treated Zelda as a game I wanted finish so I could move on through my backlog. It's why a kid can finish Ocarina of Time and a 24 old me can't. It's why I can't let go of Zelda, it's trying to teach me a lesson about myself that I have refused to face and blame on other things. Always remember, when you make a decision out of anger or frustration, it will always be the wrong one. But don't worry, as long as you learn from your mistake, it's all good. If I didn't write that last blog I wouldn't have rediscovered my love for Okami!

The important lesson here I feel is to spend less time playing everything and get absorbed into individual games more. Less worrying about clearing my backlog and more about each individual experience. I need to focus. It's why Brad loves the hell out of Dota 2, he focused 100 hours into understanding that game and the pay off is greater than any other game he's got in to. I must stop buying everything just because I can afford it, I may be able to afford the price tag but I sure as hell don't have the mental capacity to enjoy everything at once.

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Gamer Brain: The Medium for Tedium

I need to vent. I'm a little frustrated right now. I think its been over a year since I've done a gamer brain blog and I think it's because I've been enjoying gaming so much the past year, I haven't had many issues with my "gamer brain". So why I am frustrated? Because I am really not enjoying my time with the best game of all time!

God damn horse!

Ok let's take a step back. Over the past year I've made an effort to stop trying to play everything that's considered a must play and more of a must play for me. If I watch some video or read a review of a game and am excited to play it based on that, I will. If nothing coming out one month appeals to me, I'll go back to classics that I enjoy like Dark Souls and Skyrim. I feel like this change in mentality from trying to enjoy every style of game to putting more thought into what I actually enjoy has been a big game changer for me. Does this mean not trying new things, of course not, just not forcing myself to play things I don't enjoy.

Then why am I currently frustrated? Because I want to like Zelda games. I love the games' world, characters, story and best of all it's music. The kind of music that just makes you all tingly inside. For years I have bought Zelda games, had mixed feelings about my time with them and proceeded to never finish one (except for Oracle of Seasons by Capcom for some reason.) My latest attempt has been the 3DS version of Ocarina of Time (Which I bought when it came out and have been struggling with ever since) and I so want to like it, that's what makes it so much more problematic for me. So I ask myself, why do I get so frustrated playing Zelda games?

Patience can make anyone a Dark Souls expert. Just ask Jeff Green, Dark Souls aficionado.

There's no avoiding the fact that Japanese game design is very tedious. Early Final Fantasy games didn't let you save in dungeons so that if you die in there you have to start from the beginning and lose any XP you gained along the way. Dead Rising gave you super strict time constraints, forcing you to restart the entire game if you screw up as an artificial means of adding tension. And don't get me started on Monster Hunter. Then there's Dark Souls. Dark Souls makes you fight through an entire area over and over every time you want to have another try at the boss fight again. So why is it I love Dark Souls so much that I could even consider it the best game ever made and can't stand Ocarina of Time? Dark Souls is way more cruel and tedious in most respects. So why? I truly believed that I just didn't have the patience to play a Zelda game. But then why do I have all the patience in the world for Dark Souls? Well the answer is so simple that its been staring me in the face the whole time. (A bit like how some puzzles in a Zelda dungeon are way more obvious than you think). I don't enjoy playing Zelda games.

My least favorite, best game of all time.

I know that sounds dumb and I should have figured that out a lot sooner, but I just didn't want it to be true. I want to enjoy the colourful and exciting adventure that is a Zelda game, but I don't. I don't like the combat. I don't like how the boss fights are only difficult because of the clunkiness of the controls and camera, which I can overcome in Dark Souls because I love the combat. I don't like the puzzle solving because sometimes it just seems so obscure that unless I read a faq would never have guessed it (especially the side quests). So when did Ocarina break me you ask? I like to call it the horse incident:

"The open field area in Hyrule takes forever to travel on foot, but you can get a horse, a very pretty horse in fact. To my feeble brain, getting this horse was a wtf moment. To get this horse you need to ask for a ride at the stable so you can challenge the stable owner for a race. But no you cannot even ask for a race until you ask again for another ride. Then you need make sure you've learned a specific melody, by going back in time and talking to someone at the stable and then showing her your ocarina(not a euphemism!), so you can call for the specific horse to ride, not the one the guy gives you which is super slow(cheating jerk!), which you need to be on when challenging this guy to a race. Once you beat him, you have to race him again but this time he blocks your way a lot more aggressively and if you lose, you lose 50 rupees and have to find some more money and do it all over again. Just give me a god damn horse! That's when I calmly took the cartridge out of my 3DS, put Pokemon Y back in and put Ocarina back in its case for good." -Me

It's not I don't have patience for playing games like Zelda, I just can't have patience with something when I'm not having a good time. Dark Souls can throw all the Japanese design tedium at me it wants, I still love it because I'm so happy playing it. Zelda throws me tedium and I throw a fit. It's me, not Zelda, not Dark Souls. Both are amazing games, but only one is for me. I just have to accept that and move on with my gaming life. Some people in life you will never get along with or agree with. Does it mean that person is an asshole? Yep... I mean no of course not. You're just not meant be friends. I'm not going to put on a mask and change who I am to become friends with someone like that so I shouldn't put on Majora's Mask and pretend that Zelda is for me (get it? Majora's Mask! Ha see what I did there?). If you're always being yourself, you'll always be happy. Sorry about the rant, I know the Zelda games are extremely well made and I'm not trying to hate on them, quite the opposite really.

Now I think I have a craving to go and play Okami again. I loved Okami...

Turns out Capcom make my favorite Zelda games, who knew?

Want to know if you have the same taste in games as me or are you a Zelda fan who wants to see how different our taste of games is? Check out my Top 26 games of 2013.

EDIT: Changed a few things to make it a little less vulgar.

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The Top 26 Games of 2013

Once again, this year I played 26 games. Why 26? Well it was essentially going to be 25 but I shoved Poker Night 2 in there just to round it up to the same as last year. Also here is my list of games I still want to play but never got round to this year for context. The year has certainly been strong for gaming, seeing the release of another Bioshock, GTA, two new next gen consoles and a new Naughty Dog IP. But it has also been the most crazy diverse year for indie and smaller games, which will make everyone's GOTY list completely different.

I can't imagine anyone will agree on a unified top 10 games of 2013 but I do suspect GTA V and The Last of Us are the clear favorites for the big prize among most gamers. What GB pick on the other hand could be anything. I'm hoping for Bioshock personally and I know Jeff really liked it. I was real bummed out by the lack of AAA fantasy RPG's, Dragon's Crown being about as close as I could get at finding one. This meant I ended up playing more Skyrim and Dark Souls this year than I did anything else, but hey, turns out those two games are still amazing, who knew? Anyway, without further ado, here are the 26 best games of the year(but obviously not really).

1. BioShock Infinite

Once again Irrational Games has delivered a great world filled with interesting characters. The horror themes of the original are mostly gone, but Columbia is still an equally messed up, atmospheric setting. The gameplay feels roughly the same, however the pace of the combat is a lot faster.

BioShock Infinite's story telling may be flawed but nothing this year has come close to absorbing me into it's world and characters. Well other than my number 2 pick, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons.

2. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

After not being sold at all on the game after the quicklook, I waited for the steam sale, but man did they not do the game justice. The mechanics are solid and kept fresh throughout but the best part of this game has to be it's world.

The atmosphere and world building is perfectly executed and gave me goosebumps walking through all the stunning set pieces. Probably my favorite part of the game is the creature designs, which are fantastic and very unique. Also for a game with no understandable dialogue, it's filled with a bunch of happy and sad moments that really tugged at my heart strings.

If you enjoy games like Journey, Ico or Shadow of the Colossus, this game is for you.

3. Dragon's Crown

Don't let the 2D brawler looking combat or jiggling boobies fool you, this is probably the best action RPG of the year. Brawlers with loot seem to be a thing this year but Dragon's Crown is easily the best on the market.

4. Forza Motorsport 5

I won't deny that this game has some major issues. The biggest being the crazy prices for the high end and rare cars which are pretty much impossible to get without paying real money, a LOT of real money. That said there are plenty of affordable cars to drive and the driving is fantastic.

If it wasn't for the issues this game would easily be my GOTY. I love playing this game, but I hope they fix the greedy pricing model.

5. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

Rock on cyber commando elite super soldier dude! This game has a great sense of humor and being built on top of one of the best games of last year, this bite sized Far Cry 3 is a lot of fun.

6. StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm

Great gameplay, fun characters and a good blockbuster story = really good game. Doesn't have the same impact as the original and probably not GOTY material but I had a good time with it.

7. Dead Rising 3

With the slightly relaxed difficulty, this Dead Rising is a lot less stressful and considerably more fun because of it. Stripping away the time constraints does however show up the gaping flaws in game design that this series has. I feel any future instalments really need to change things up, as I don't think I could play another game like this without it feeling stale.

It's far from perfect, but a good time none the less.

8. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

A perfect setting and lead character brings this stale franchise, back to life. It still has all the normal AC issues but the pirate setting easily makes up for its flaws. It's easily the best AC since Brotherhood and one of the best games of the year.

9. Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

A strong JRPG of this generation but gets reptitive thanks to some rather boring side quests and a combat system that is a bit clunky and awkward. Thankfully it has a great setting and an interesting world to explore. The graphics and presentation give off a very heart-warming feeling that is very much missed in this age of dry military murder sims.

10. The Last of Us

Naughty Dog's obsession with adding way too much combat and poorly placed difficulty spikes, doesn't end up ruining the great characters and dark story of Last of Us. Also one of the most interesting openings and endings to a story I've seen in a while.

Great game, but a bit dark for my tastes.

11. Tomb Raider

A great game and by far my favorite Tomb Raider. Decent characters that are not super memorable for better or worse, but the story is serviceable enough.

Tomb Raider's strongest elements are where it tends to play a lot like Arkham Asylum, with super cool animations, exploration and semi-open areas allowing for some detailed, atmospheric environments(where Arkham City failed in my opinion).

12. Grand Theft Auto V

Once again the story and insane characters are great. Unfortunately the gameplay is the same as it was in previous instalments, meaning the shooting and driving gets very mundane. Sadly The GTA open world experience is starting to feel a little dated.

That said the main story is very engaging and worth the price of admission even if all the other stuff they crammed in isn't.

13. Gone Home

A short and sweet story about the goings on of your family while you were out travelling the world. The story isn't anything ground breaking but the way in which the story is told is a well implemented evolution of what Bioshock started. Instead of audiologs, you discover letters and diaries that tell you the story in a mostly chronological order, dictated by the layout of the house.

I did really enjoy the authentic 90s motif. The game does a good job selling you on the time period and making the house feel lived in. Overall not really a GOTY contender or breaking any new ground but what it is, is a well told and interesting take on the adventure/horror genre.

14. The Stanley Parable

A clever game that really makes you want to play it over and over to discover its many hidden secrets and jokes. The game is designed to poke fun at common game design tropes that, if you have been playing games for years like me, are quite entertaining.

It's not the second coming of jesus, nor is it anything that original(Portal made the same jokes back in 2007), but as a short-form comical gaming experience that tries it's best to subvert your expectations, it's a lot of fun.

15. Pokémon X/Y

The pokemon are in 3d now and look fantastic and this instalment seems to be the most streamlined and well designed in the series. I'm enjoying it but a very strong feeling of Deja-vu lingers.

16. DmC Devil May Cry

An action game with a well implemented combat system but not much else. Levels are pretty bland bar a few really awesome set peices and the characters and story a rather forgettable. DMC3 is still a far better game but I enjoyed this more than DMC4.

17. Dead Space 3

If this were the first game in a series I would cut it some slack as I enjoyed it most of the way through. But seeings as everything about Dead Space 3 is inferior to the previous entry in the series, it ends up a disappointment.

The biggest issue with the game mainly being the encounters are super generic. An example being that the developers took monster closets to an absolute extreme. Every room has at least 3 monster closets and they use a lot. Zero scares, zero thrills. The best comparison to this game is Dragon Age 2. The same environments repeated over and over.

18. Rogue Legacy

A pretty flawed game but a great hybrid between a roguelike and platformer but with an progression system. The idea of a roguelike is super smart and although roguelike veterans probably like the hardcore nature of the rogulike genre, I certainly like rpg progression knowing I haven't completely wasted my time dying over and over.

19. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate

My first monster hunter game. It does appeal to my addictive personality when it comes to improving my character with better loot but it just has so many flaws I can't ignore.

I love me some Dark Souls but I feel that games animation priority is spot on where this game goes a bit too far. Being continually knocked over and taking a few seconds to get up every time is painfully irritating. Grinding the same monster to complete gear is also boring.

20. Battlefield 4

BF4's multiplayer suit is the best its ever been(when it works). The maps look amazing and are well designed, giving the player a lot of variety per map. Loads of modes so you can play it how ever you want, small scale death-matches to large scale 64 player conquest battles.

21. Animal Crossing: New Leaf

A laid back time sink, that may not really be my kind of thing, but it acts as a good cleanser for my bad Dark Souls habit.

22. Sacred Citadel

A short but decent downloadable experience. Just don't go in expecting much and you'll enjoy this modern Golden Axe style adventure.

23. Path of Exile

Fun, but I have played way too many games like this recently that I am full, very full of this kind of experience. The combat is just so boring compared Torchlight 2 and Diablo 3. For me its chosen to stay in the past, a past that I have very little interest revisiting.

24. GRID 2

After playing it for a while, I really lost interest. The driving controls just feel off and the PC issues that prevented me from playing it full screen were never fixed. I can't say I'd recommend this over a game like Forza 4 or 5. Just like Dirt 3, GRID 2 was a huge disappointment compared to games like Dirt 2 and the original GRID.

25. Don't Starve

Well this ever changing survival game has an interesting premise, but not one that hooks me in enough to keep me coming back to it.

26. Poker Night 2

It's poker once again. I did enjoy the original purely for the humor but this time the guest roster is just not great. Sam and Max are great and GLaDos is fantastic as the dealer but the rest are... not so good. Specifically Claptrap is as annoying as ever, although some interactions with GLaDos are quite well done.

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Xbox One: Day One

This game is a lot of fun!

I picked up my XBone this morning and thought I'd share my thoughts. Kinda pissed because the EB Games clerk forgot to give me my Fifa download code and I'll have to go back at some point to get it. Anyway...

Voice Recognition

It works alright and the "xbox use code" command to read in a QR code is quick for redeeming content. I wish their were more options but it seems fine.

Kinect

Reading my face to log me in works great. That's about all I've seen so far.

Killer Instinct

Fun to play but looks pretty low res and the anti-aliasing on the character models looks kinda bad. Only played the free stuff so far. Had a few matches with a friend locally and it was a pretty enjoyable time.

Dead Rising 3

Its not much of a showcase graphically for the next generation, but runs well and any frame drops are barely noticeable. Lots of zombies on screen and the mayhem is nuts straight from the get go. Easily the best Dead Rising game and I am excited to play more.

Forza 5

This game plays and looks fantastic. To my surprise, my favorite xbox one game so far.

The game looks great and runs super smooth. Car models are super detailed. The drivavatar AI system does a good job at making races feel more exciting now as the AI are completely unpredictable. I had a AI car from the starting line just drive me off the road, screwing me over and himself for no good reason. I play Forza like an asshole against AI drivers and now so do the AI, which I can appreciate.

After being disappointed by Forza 4, Forza 5 seems a lot more interesting this time round. And not being a car nut means that none of the concerns about there being fewer cars this time round really bothers me. I generally pick a small group of my favorite cars to drive and stick to them in these games anyway.

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

Yo ho ho and and a bottle of ONE.

This game is easily the best AC since AC: Brotherhood, quite possibly better. The lead character is great, the out of animus stuff is clever and the gameplay is as fun as ever. As a next gen game though, the sub 1080p res is pretty obvious compared to a game like Forza 5. The game runs at a consistent 30fps which is fine and performs better than the previous AC's on 360/PS3 I played, but I can't say it looks that much better. That said AC games have always looked great even on those consoles so its a small gripe in the scheme of things.

I'm curious how much better it looks on PS4 in 1080p. I am planning on getting a PS4 too probably early next year, so if it stays this way where XBO versions are 720p and PS4 versions are 1080p, then it looks like I'll be playing third party games on PS4. I feel this is a pretty big oversight on Microsoft's part not enforcing 1080p as a must for developers this generation. I'm happy with 30fps games if they look good, but 720p is so last gen.

Battlefield 4

Best multiplayer shooter this year, but COD is so stagnant at this point so its not that hard.

Game runs at a nice 60fps(drops a bit on occasion) but looks a little aliased, I'm assuming another 720p port. The single player is super tedious and uninspired so I'll just pass on that, but the multi-player is great as usual for the series. Improves on just about everything that started in Bad Company 2 as far as progression and classes. The guns feel satisfying and there are lots of different game modes. Plus finally 64 player matches on consoles, yay!

Other Details

The IE app runs really well and watching videos from GB on it works great. I've been impressed with my time with it so far and just barely scratching the surface. The youtube app is garbage just like it is on TV's but it works well enough just going to youtube in the IE browser.

Overall my impressions are somewhat of a mixed bag but definitely skewed in the positive direction. It's a neat console, the major let down really being that most of the games still run at 720p, because man when you see Forza 5 in action you'll wish everything ran and looked like that. But hopefully things will get better as developers get used to the hardware. The four games I picked up are all really fun, the voice and kinect stuff works well enough and the multitasking works pretty flawlessly. That's my impressions of day one, playing Xbox One. Au revoir.

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A Step Into The Unknown, A Journey Into Game Development

Last July I lost my job as educational game developer for schools, due to a change over of government and the budget cuts that followed. Making games has always been my passion. Since my hands first touched a keyboard, I've been making games with whatever tools that were available to me. Over the past 7 years I have worked on some popular flash games appearing on Kongregate and Newgrounds, purely as a hobby as I have never really made any money out of it to call it a living. But after losing my job I felt like it was sign to take a risk, to try and make a living off making my own games, my personal dream.

I've decided to start off making mobile and tablet games. It hasn't been easy, the past eight months I've been working hard to develop, test and release my first mobile/tablet project. The amount of play testing just to make sure a game is fun, is so much harder than you could ever imagine. I've been using a development language called Haxe NME, an awesome language that will output your project as both ios and android apps, so you can build it once and release it for both platforms with minimal changes. I'd highly recommend it if you want to make 2d games and are happy developing purely in a coding environment.

The game I created is called Greyhound Racer. It takes the core concepts of greyhound racing and turns into an arcade game with light sim elements. You pick a dog, it's color, and give it a racing name. Then you train and look after it so it can win races and eventually win the grand championship. I am aware some states in America have issues with greyhound racing, but the focus of the game is really about caring for your greyhound and keeping it after it retires from racing. But just like every industry where money is involved, bad practices emerge. The pet industry has all the same issues. But alas I got sidetracked. I hope the game is unique enough to stand out, I know the concept can be successful as I made a similar flash game that received a lot of positive feedback several years ago.

Its a scary time for me now. If none of this works out I have no idea what direction my life will go in. This is always what I wanted to do, but just like any creative profession, it's tough breaking in and making a living out of it. But I believe I can do it, and I have the full support of my friends and family behind me. I'm taking a step into the unknown and have no idea where I'll end up when cross to the other side. If you read this blog post, thankyou.

If anyone would like to check out the game, its on both android and ios.

Greyhound Racer on ios

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/greyhound-racer/id626094399?ls=1&mt=8

Greyhound Racer on Android

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.eyespyda.greyhound

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If Resident Evil 2 Was a Cartoon (Artistic Aint it pt2.)

After posting this I mentioned that I was going to paint artwork of all my favorite games. Next I was going to do RE2. Well I didn't have any canvases spare, so I thought I'd try painting something in photoshop. In fact it is the first time I've ever used photoshop to make a painting. I'm sticking with a cartoon style for all of these and having a lot of fun.

Next up I have Soul Reaver in my sites!

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Artistic aint it!

I thought I'd share my new project with a blog post. It's been a good long while since I did much painting, but it is a lot of fun. Now I'm no pro and I'm pretty rusty but it's just for myself so it doesn't really matter. I'm planning on painting all my favorite games from my childhood.

I started with my most memorable, Sonic. Over the past decade, the franchise has severely degraded but it doesn't lessen my love of the originals any. Perhaps Sonic the Hedgehog 2 isn't the best 16-bit game of all time but it is far and away my favorite of that era and of my childhood.

Next I am thinking of doing either Resident Evil 2 or Soul Reaver which should be tonally very different from this one.

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The Top 26 games of 2012

... aka the 2012 games I played within the confines of 2012. This is the first time I have kept track of what I have played and notes to remind myself of how I felt about the game at the time. It made my top 10 much easier to organise if anything else. This is the year of mild disappointments and good but not great games I feel. No game this year I would say was a huge disappointment but all the big titles were flawed in some way. That said, The Walking Dead and Journey have had more emotional impact on me than any other game this decade, so that has to count for something.

The games I intend to play but never got round to this year (all purchased just need to actually boot them up):

  • Dust, An Elysian Tale
  • FTL
  • Hotline Miami

Now for the list top 10:

1. The Walking Dead

Intense, emotional and extremely fun. Not without its flaws for which there are many (save bugs, graphical bugs, performance issues), but like Skyrim last year, all can be forgiven because the core experience is well beyond most that came out in 2012. If it had to fight previous years GOTY's however it probably wouldn't stand up to those titles.

2. XCOM: Enemy Unknown

This game is all kinds of awesome and a strategy game I can get behind. Tense, scary and satisfying in every way a game should be.

3. Dragon's Dogma

Dragon's Dogma is an amazing and quite original RPG. Yes the lack of fast travel is mildly annoying but it's deep combat system more than makes up for its flaws. It's no Skyrim but you'd could do far worse in terms on RPG's this year, see Amalur!

4. Borderlands 2

Improves upon just about everything from the first game. The uniqueness of the original is gone, because if you are like me you spent 100's of hours in Borderlands 1, but the fun remains intact. The humour is not great but enjoyable in a dumb kinda way. My main issue is the quests meant for multiple players are really rough playing solo and special bosses are impossible.

5. Guild Wars 2

It could just be the best designed MMO to come out since WOW and no subscription fee makes it hard to argue against. However it is let down by the old school combat that doesn't improve on much from WOW. Also some environments look amazing and the character creator is great.

6. Journey

I didn't get around to playing it until December but I felt I had to give it a go. No it's not GOTY but it's certainly an experience not to be missed. The music is the best of the year and very emotionally resonating.

7. Far Cry 3

The free-form open world first person shooter is by far may favorite style of game and this game succeeds at making a fun playground to hunt animals and dudes in. It gives you a huge variety of awesome weapons to play with. The biggest issue is that the side quests often limit what weapons you can use and you quickly run out of enemy camps to take out which are by far the best sections of the game. Just stealthing through a bunch of enemies stabbin dudes or running in like a nutter with a grenade launcher is great fun and there should be more scenarios to do it in. Great game but a lot of things the could have made this game GOTY that are just not quite there. The multiplayer is probably the main reason for some of the singleplayer short comings I suppose.

8. Mass Effect 3

Some nice combat and fun multiplayer to be found here but was let down by the writing and single player. Ending it the way they did with little consequence for your actions throughout the series was handled poorly in comparison to another choice driven game that came out this year (TWD of course). Although both games handled their finally similarly, Mass Effect 3 missed the mark by a light year.

9. Diablo III

Until you reach inferno difficulty this game is a blast. The combat is amazing and impactful and customization is genius. However the auction house and loot system that is designed to heavly rely upon it, was a bad design choice and ruins the main draw of a loot system.

10. Sleeping Dogs

The combat, driving and open world are very well done. The story is kind of boring until the last third where the shit hits the fan and it becomes really intense. Surprise of the year!

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And the runners up ( the rest):

11. Forza Horizon

Fantastic Racing game but nothing out of the ordinary. It's no Dirt 2!

12. Dishonored

Super well made and exciting stealth game with collectables that actually mean something. Doesn't leave much of a lasting impression though.

13. LEGO The Lord of the Rings

Uses the standard Lego formula, but retells the Lord of The Rings in such a creative and humorous way that you get hooked.

14. Trials Evolution

This game is far more easy to get into than it's predecessor. It's unique and varied levels are a welcome change from generic warehouse setting and keep things fresh throughout. It gets tough but it's really not until the extreme tracks before you realise you're no longer enjoying it; up until that point it's a real blast.

15. Mark of the Ninja

A great well made 2D stealth game. If you like stealth games this is probably the best game ever.

16. Binary Domain

Amazing. The best Third Person Shooter since Uncharted 2... and it has nothing to do with the very average third person shooting (much like Uncharted 2). Ok that's way too much credit for a pretty average game, but I enjoyed it.

17. Call of Duty: Black Ops II

Interesting story but I think I enjoyed the original Black Ops better. Multiplayer is the same blood bath it's always been.

18. Assassin's Creed III

Not as good as the first 3 games, the main quest was far too structured. The naval combat was amazing and exploring civil war America is a lot of fun but the rest was sub-par. Still a good game but not a GOTY contender. This series really is starting to show its limits as a yearly franchise even more so than COD.

19. Torchlight II

Perhaps it's because of my 300 hours playing Diablo 3 but this game doesn't quite seem to have the same charm of the original. I'm not really a fan of the skill tree systems, I much preferred the classes from the the first game. That said the game is well made and enjoyable.

20. Darksiders II

It was good but like the first game, unless you are big into Zelda game design, the gameplay just gets repetitive fast. Still a very good game that deserves attention.

21. Asura's Wrath

A completely insane average game. Well it's not really a game. The ending not being part of the package and sold as DLC is a terrible idea (I'm looking at you capcom.) Perhaps for people who have never watched anime, this is a new experience for them, like the GB members with it in their top 10, but I grew up watching DBZ so I wasn't that blown away.

22. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

Worthy of a mention but too much boring dialogue and story. Gameplay is fun for about an hour but wears off fast. I'd take the flawed Dragons Dogma over this any day. A good effort that I spent over 60 hours in but unfortunately most of it was dull.

23. Spec Ops: The Line

Interesting narrative ideas are overshadowed by a boring dull looking shooter, even on PC. The Gamespot podcast with the lead writer was far more interesting than the actual game.

24. Kid Icarus: Uprising

A fun game but the controls are awful no matter how you approach them. The humor was odd but enjoyable none the less.

25. Max Payne 3

There was not much I enjoyed about this title other than the gorgeous graphics on pc. The remedy developed Max Payne's were a lot better. Story was dark and pretty average overall. The gun play is about as good as it ever was but it took me about 5 hours to re-adjust to the Max payne style and then it ended 5 minutes later.

26. Resident Evil: Revelations

Kinda dull after a while. Resident evil has really taken a nose dive. All the mediocre RE titles seem to be on a boat.

If not for TWD and XCOM, I feel this year would have gone down in history as one of the worst years for games in memory. I hope the launch of the next generation kickstarts the game industry or we may be running into some serious issues like Hollywood have had over the years. At least the indie scene is picking up the slack.

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The PS2 Reborn

It has been a long while since my PS2 has been switched on. I have decent sized PS2 library however the thought of playing them on a 1080p LCD display has been off-putting. A while back I bought a copy of Persona 4 after watching the endurance run but never actually put it in the console (I did listen to the awesome soundtrack though). I also have a copy of Odin Sphere collecting dust that I played for about 10 minutes. So I took the plunge!

At 1am after not being able to sleep and having weird delusional thoughts about the Wii emulator Dolphin, I jumped online and looked into PCSX2 (an odd jump in logic I know). The install process and setup has been quite streamlined to a point that they are now calling the version 1.0 and most games will run on it. The biggest hassle with the installation was the PS2 BIOS because in order for it all to be legal you need to use the BIOS from your actual PS2 to get it up and running. This means you need to setup your console to have a homebrew OS in order to extract it. Once all setup, I quickly found the software recognised my 360 controller which made playing the games a breeze.

Resident Evil 4

Now for the important part, you can run the games in much higher resolutions just like with Dolphin. So because my PC hardware is pretty decent I have the games set to render at 6x their native resolution. This makes the models crisp even without AA activated, which is also an option. The higher resolution also improves the textures although I have no idea how the programmers have made this possible; voodoo magic I'm guessing! So far every game I have tested on it looks amazing and will run straight from the ps2 disc, although extracting them to your hard-drive is preferable.

I primarily used Resident Evil 4 as a test to begin with as it's a great looking game and has a widescreen option, a rarity for PS2 games. Using the PCSX2 emulator, I'd say the PS2 RE4 would look on par with the downloadable re-release on 360 and PS3, just with a couple graphical glitches here and there. Another game I tried was Kingdom Hearts which looked great also.

All in all, it has made going back to my PS2 collection a lot more exciting. I am aware that people have been doing this for ages but I think now that the software is pretty stable I feel there's no better time to jump in. Next I will probably look into Dolphin. I am unsure if Gamecube and Wii games read on a pc dvd drive like PS2 games, so I think I will need to do some more research before jumping head first into buying Wii and GC games.

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