Back to streaming – No Man’s Sky: Diary of a Star-lit Wanderer

Have started streaming again, so here’s my first new video using my new internet connection.

 

No Man’s Sky: Diary of a Star-Lit Wanderer.

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It’s like Skyrim meets Shadow of the Colossus with a dash of Ghibli-esque whimsy: Legend of Zelda: The Breath of the Wind E3 trailer

The annual E3 gaming show is once again upon with it’s usual bombast, hype & leaks. I usually avoid most of the reporting around E3 related stuff because it tends to be your typical hype-train fuelled by pre-rendered cinematic trailers, short teasers & really really awkward presentations.

Yet something happened with this year’s expo, where each company listened to the complaints of their consumers & gave live demonstrations of their games to much rapturous applause (for some demos at least).

I tend not to care for most company’s announcement but I tend to like what Nintendo does.

This year it appears that they broke all expectations when they showed this. The gameplay trailer for the long awaited Zelda Wii U game.

This is a whole new direction for the long running franchise, that gives the player almost absolute freedom to explore -which includes being able to climb the landscape & monsters. It also introduces the ability to sneak up upon both prey & enemies. From the trailer & hands on from various gaming websites it appears that Link (for once actually coming pre-named) has to hunt & eat to regain health & get status boosts.

The freedom to explore leads to being able to tackle which ever dungeon you want when you can access -which appears to be through a magical book. This new gimmick also extends to using the book to create blocks to climb upon so you can solve puzzles as well as create objects to drop on enemies to reduce their number before ambushing.

Being a Wii U title, it comes with Amiibo connections, which goes back to the Wolf Link figure that was released with Twilight Princess. As seen in the video below.

The game is still set to be released next year & supposedly will also be the launch title for Nintendo’s mystery new console, currently referred to as the NX.

How this will impact the end product & it’s reception is al for speculation.

In my very unhumble opinion Nintendo should release the game in time for Christmas & give the Wii U one last great hurrah.

Regardless of which system it will be dominant on, the game remains utterly beautiful to look upon. It’s vast living landscapes & reactive AI might reinvigorate many Sandbox games but, again, it’s only speculation of a very, very invested fan.

Nothing really more to say except that I wanted to show the trailer & make a quick post before the next article goes up.

Gaming – My first Stream Session: Dragon Age: Inquisition & PlayStation 4 hands on

After dealing with the useless parcel delivery contractor not bothering to walk up the stairs to my front door & having to walk 4 kilometres to the post office & back, I finally got my hands on my new 1TB PlayStation 4.

I finally bit the bullet on moving up to a current “current gen” console after Target Australia had an unbeatable 25% eBay only sale last week. Meaning that a new model 1TB PS4 with the Uncharted Collection (Uncharted 1-3 remastered for the PS4 with free Uncharted 4 multiplayer beta) only cost me $412AUSD. But I’ll be trading in that game for Fallout 4 next week because I have absolutely zero interested in the Uncharted franchise.

Naturally, I expected the PlayStation 4 to have to go through the usual rigmarole of updating data & patching the games that I had already brought (Metal Gear Solid 5 & Dragon Age: Inquisition) but I was genuinely surprised at how smooth a process it all was when compared to the PlayStation 3.

The major system update took less than half an hour & the individual game updates could be done in the background as you played the games. It seems like Sony borrowed another idea from Nintendo’s playbook but it is very much a welcome one as it means that you don’t have to waste time when you’re trying to waste time.

The interface is a lot smoother for the PS4 as well, with the downloads, notifications & other info tucked up into a top bar. The entire things is a galactic level of speed over the early model PS3s, with even the troublesome PlayStation Store being easier to navigate. Which is handy because of how the PS4 is now so reliant on apps to run small programmes.

The controller also feels very much different from the PS3 movel (which was almost exactly like the PS2 model but wireless). It has a lot more heft & body to it, feeling solid in your grip -missing that breakable sensation that the PS3 controller carried with it. The new buttons & touchpad are confusing at first but work well. The lack of the traditional “start” & “select” buttons is still off putting but the sunken nature of the “options” & “share” buttons means that you’re not catching your nails on them. The touch pad feels like a gimmick but having it as a clickable button is integrated well into the two games that I played.

Overall, the latest model of the PS4 is a welcome step up from the PS3 (which I still enjoy playing) but it’s lack of backwards compatibility will become an issue if anything happens to my PS3. Still, I think with the slowly growing catalogue of exclusive titles that Sony is gathering means that I climbed aboard at the right time. I’ll wait a little before getting an XBone though.

Now, it’s the streaming feature that I’m big on & so I recorded nearly an hour of gameplay from Dragon Age: Inquisition onto Twitch before exporting it to YouTube.

Now, I do want to get more into streaming, so I’d like people to follow me on Twitch but I still need support on my Patreon in order to buy more games, upgrade my headset to one with a better mic & eventually buy a PS4 camera.

Let us know what you think of the video.

Joining the Twitch Generation

Started a Twitch streaming account in preparation for the arrival of my PlayStation 4 next week (hands on critique of that also coming) but also so I can stream lectures & discussions on various Pop Culture things.

To follow me, simply go to : http://www.twitch.tv/andthegeekshall/

Would also like recommendations for people to follow as well as your own Twitch page so I can follow you back.

I won’t be streaming many PC games because of crappiness of laptop but might do some streams of classic games as well as record some Let’s Play stuff for the hell of it. But have to see if I can get things to stream from GOG (no idea how to set it all up yet).

Hit by the Hype Train – Game Critique: Pokemon Ruby Omega & Sapphire Alpha demo

Was meant to have written this a while back but back have been busy with more than a few things of late. Oh, well. Such is life.

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Because Nintendo view me as a hyper-consumer of their products, they selected me (& a few thousand others) to test & brag about their demo for their forcoming (re)releases Pokemon Ruby Omega & Sapphire Alpha.

Since there isn’t honestly much to the demos, I’ll take a moment to about the Big N‘s strategy with releasing unlimited demos & special promotions (such as Halloween themes) to their heavily invested consumers before releasing limited versions to the general public through their eShop system.

The main idea in doing this is so those individuals who are already rapid fans of Nintendo & their various products are both kept engaged & are ready to be zealots for the Big N’s cause. Nintendo lose nothing from sending out demos & free bonuses to Nintendo Club members or randomly selected consumers. In fact, they have everything to gain because it is these individuals who are most like to have ways & means (such as I with this blog) to promote these special promos & get other consumers who aren’t as devoted to become jealous &/or intrigued by they aren’t afforded the same deals. That is when, after much internet metaphorical (unless you have a Nintendo logo tattooed on it) dick-waving, Nintendo release a limited use demo for everyone else -such as they did with the recent Super Smash Bros. 3DS demo.

This sort of trickle release in the Age of the Hyper-Engaged consumer means people are always aware of what they are potentially missing out on, so are more able (& eager) to demand their share too (deserved or not).

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What people have been neglecting to notice is that Nintendo has been the quiet achiever of the current Console War of sales of the 3DS in Asia & the increase of Wii U sales due to a steady flow of new release games over the past year. Whilst people focus on the current home console battle between Sony (PS4) & Microsoft (XBone) (in which the XBone is being smashed by the PS4) & how rapid the fans get there, almost everyone has a Nintendo platform of some variety (usually a DS or 3DS). Nintendo are the constant of the video game industry, having beaten Atari, Sega & a myriad of other companies (apart from PC game makers), so no matter your current allegiances, the majority of gamers have played or owned a Nintendo console at some point.

Further to this, as previous written about in my Pokemon article, the biggest driven force for Nintendo still remains as the Pokemon franchise. With consumers demanding both new & reimagined games. Which brings us to the crux (it’s pronounced, crue, the X is silent because it is French) of this rambling article: the demo for the forthcoming remakes of Pokemon Ruby & Sapphire.

The demo is extremely limited. Your character is pre-named as Orlando (you can’t customise appearance even in full game, unlike X/Y) & you can only explore Mossdeep Town as well as a few enclosed dungeons (forests, caves & islands), a few battle areas & one semi-proper quest. You interaction with only a few characters, mainly the Pokemon League Champion Steven but cameos from other major characters (gym leaders) appear too. This is all to get you a taste of the new game, showing off the improved graphics (improved even from X/Y in some cases).

The best example of the improvement in graphics is fly mode with Steven on the back of Latios or Latias. From the back of those Pokemon, you can see the entire Hoenn region in 3D (the 3D effect automatically turns off when out of battle & cut scenes). There are heaps of other little graphical details added, such as grass rustling in the breeze & the way the long grass moves as well.

The other much hyped new feature in the demo is the ability to sneak up on Pokemon who are poking up out of the long grass (in the full game these are meant to be harder to catch monsters or ones with different move sets from the normal ones). It’s done like sneaking in pretty much any game: slightly moving the circle pad in a direct so you move slowly. I thought that this would also lessen encounters in the long grass but didn’t find that to be the case.

Unfortunately, you can’t catch any of these long grass Pokemon. In fact, the only one that you can catch is in the only proper mission, where you have to save a Mega Evolving Pokemon from both Team Magma & Team Aqua lieutenants. I was given a Glali but some people were meant to have been able to have captured a Steelix. You can Mega Evolve the Glali into a neckbearded bit of weirdness but isn’t all that great. You also fight with the top evolutions of the 3 Starters, each with the ability to be Mega Evolved as well. You can also transfer Glali into the full game, once you purchase, along with some other bonuses that you can unlock through repetitive plays (though haven’t found any other Pokemon that you can capture & transfer).

I’ve played the demo through about a dozen times now, playing missions that only take a few minutes each (mainly missions to flush a Shroomish out of some long grass without battling it). There isn’t anything special to do or great challenge, mainly just battle several basic trainers or one more special one.

In the end, the OS/RA is just to whet the appetites of eager fans & silence nay-sayers that it’s just X/Y set back in Hoenn. Which does make it kind of pointless because people have been waiting for it for so long now, they’ll already have it pre-ordered or pick it up the moment that it’s out (it won’t break street date though, the Big N is very very strict on that these days). It’s something that I already plan to get but having stuff to transfer into it upon purchase is just a nice bit of spice to an already decent meal.

With not much left to say about it, I await any flaming on providing incorrect info on the Console Wars as well as the general haters having a go (before they are deleted) as I try to conquer my Pile of Shame.

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Not sure whether to be joyous or offended – Anime Critique: No Game No Life

no-game-no-life_oTitle: No Game No Life (NGNL, Noge Nora)
Format: TV series
Genre: fantasy, satire/parody, comedy, ecchi
Series Creator: Yu Kamiya
Series Director: Atsuko Ishizuka
Studio: Madhouse
Series length: 12 episodes
Original Airing dates: April 9, 2014 – June 25, 2014
Reviewed format: high def download with fansubs

 

 


Synopsis:

“Siblings Sora and Shiro are inseparable, both in the real world and in the game world. Their individual skills combined make them an invincible team: Sora, with his astute intuition and penetrating insight; and Shiro, with her remarkable intellect that goes beyond prodigy-level genius. In the real world, they are hikikomori, reclusive and unsocial, but in the game world, the siblings together form [ ] (Blank), a mysterious group of undefeated online gamers who win every game they play with unbeatable scores. Because the account names of the players are always left empty, they become simply known as “Blank”. One fateful day, after beating a mysterious challenger in a game of online chess, the siblings receive an offer from their opponent to be reborn in his world, Disboard – a fantasy world where everything is determined by games. When they accept the proposal, Sora and Shiro are summoned to Disboard by that world’s God, Tet, who they discover to also be their former opponent. Together, Sora and Shiro begin their journey in redeeming the weak human race of Imanity and conquering the world to challenge Tet for his title of One True God.


Review:

There is a bad habit in many subcultures to lap up any mention from more mainstream forms -be it positive or negative- as well as lose one’s mind whenever a reference to something that we adore/worship/participate in is shown or mentioned within various media. Often such flashes are negatory in one’s favour yet one does love to have one’s passions & existence acknowledged by greater beings, do we not?

Visual media also loves throwing in as many references & acknowledgements as they can be they intentional or craftily snuck in & we consumers do love our little Easter egg hunts? Go on. Admit it. You look for them all of the time. As both a challenge & as a way to prove yourself superior in some petty fashion. There is no shame in such a thing –we all do it, after all.

Yet this is probably why, in the end, I felt myself a little ambivalent towards No Game No Life.

Because it praised us nerds, geeks & gamers with one hand -showing us as clever, resourceful & deep down well meaning people- & mocked us with the other -displaying us as socially dysfunctional perverts who cannot cope within a game in our hand or a pair of tits to stare all.

It attempts to pander too much to both sides, showering kudos & contempt equally.

Yet, it is not entirely without its merits.

Some reviewers have already praised it highly, even calling it “a must watch for any gamer” yet, as I said as a few lines above, it reeks to I more of pandering then any genuine affection for its greatest audience & consumers. Gamers & the socially inept have always been fair play for ridicule in media but at least NGNL attempts to be even handed.
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This is done through the stepsiblings, Sora & Shiro -who are collectively known in the gaming & online worlds as Blank. The undefeatable team who can destroy even the most skilful hacker or cheater with seamingly the greatest of ease. That is because they believe themselves to be a single unit, with super genesis Shiro masters games like chess & FPSs & all that comes with such intelligent or tactical games whilst the older sibling Sora uses his masterful understanding of people to use bluff, cheat or know when others are cheating. But they are both broken by their talents, scorned & ridiculed by their peers, so they locked themselves up in their room to play games all day. That is before the god Tet takes them from our world to the land of Disboard, where games rule & murder can never be committed.
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This is actually an interesting conceit because it establishes that Disboard is defined by 10 Commandments set forth by Tet that can’t be broken yet can be subverted. Such as the rule about cheating, where it doesn’t say you can’t cheat, just that you have to face the consequences if you’re caught doing it & it can proven. The Commandments hold everything in check & about Blank to push their plans forward by exploiting & obeying the rules as well as learning how others do the same.

Yet the trouble with this is that when they try to explain the rules for a wager or game & they flash by too fast or are stuck in a bunch of untranslated text (or the text is translated but that translation fucks with your video player something chronic!). It’s annoying that rules that are pretty bloody vital to the plot are rushed by; possibly so you don’t see any holes them or so you don’t try to guess how Blank will win.

My other major issue with the series is. . . Can you guess? Can ya? Can Ya? CAN YA?!

YEEEEEEEEEEEEEES! IT’S HYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYPERSEEEEEEEEEEEEXUALIIIIIIIIIISAAAAAATION!!!

This time perving on a fucking 11 year old (Shiro, who isn’t actually fucking but I can never go past a chance to swear. . . prick).

I honestly don’t mind that she’s rendered painfully cute, with a mouth too small & eyes too big even for anime standards but there must ALWAYS be a line drawn when you draw an 11 year old semi-naked (& fingers should be broken for drawing a naked 8 year old with a fluffy tail!). All the major female characters other than the one time antagonist Clammy are hypersexualised & the reason Clammy isn’t is because she’s mocked for having no breasts & using magic to make it seem otherwise during on of the many bath scenes.

Both Shiro & Sora share a perverted natured, as does the violent angel (Flügel) Jebril. Their usual victim is Steph, the granddaughter of the former king of all Imanity (Disboard’s name for humans) who is depicted as clever in terms of running the day to day functions of a kingdom but terrible at games, losing to Clammy before Blank take the crown away from her. The sight of Shiro wearing Steph’s panties on her head whilst making her act like a dog is monstrously disturbing, more so because Shiro acts so cute & innocent most of the time.
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I could beat the Hate Drum a bit longer, but I won’t.

Visually, this series is stunning. Incredible use of light, colour & fantasy settings as well as interesting (yet hypersexualised) designs on many of the characters. Because there are 16 races (equal to pieces on a chessboard), they each have to have very individual designs & they do stand out well. The elves are generic with blonde hair & pointed ears but the Flügel with their wings & halos are pretty awesome; whilst the werebeasts are your standard anthro-beings, which is played up for laughs with Sora -the virgin- wanting to conquer them so he can have a harem of cat & bunny girls.

The relationship between Shiro & Sora is also exceptionally well rendered. With each having absolute faith in the other & going catatonic if they are out of visual range for too long (which is actually genuinely funny). They also back each other up in games & contests when the other is lacking & transfer this knowledge to real life activities -such as running a country based on pacifist route in Civilisation. Even when they are backed into a corner by an opponent, they always rely on & trust each other utterly; drawing upon that the strength to win.
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The series also ends on a vexing note of noncompletion story-wise. Just leaves things open to a possible sequel series, which I’m not sure has been announced (unlike other 12 episode series from this season).

Despite how much this series gives with one hand & takes with the other, it was genuinely entertaining & fairly original in its story. There were some exceptionally clever bits as well as well done reference gags (even more than a few quick obscure ones). It is designed for nerds & gamers, especially in its sexual pandering, but it still mocks the culture that supports it. If you can forgive it that trait, you will probably take a lot of joy in the Easter Egg hunts as well as the clever solutions to the games through the series. Although if you enjoy the sexualisation of Shiro & Izuna, I’ve got a couple of bricks that I want to introduce you to!

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Article: Steph’s life as a Gamer

This is the 1st part of a new feature to And The Geek Shall,  articles/interviews with people across various realms of Geekdom -be they gamers, writers, genre fans or just generalist nerds. If you are interested in contributing, either leave a comment or PM me at Twitter: @andthegeekshall (follow me there anyway!) or via the Tumblr link above.

Today’s contributor is Steph, an old friend of mine. She’s a consummate gamer, especially in the PC arena. If you are up to the challenge, her Battle Net ID squidularmy#1683 & her Steam handle is squidularmy (both online ID’s posted with personal permission, so be respectful when asking to add her & no, she won’t be your girlfriend so don’t even fucking ask, twat!).


Steph:

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Bio:

    My name is Steph, I’m a 27 year old female & I spend far too much of my time in front of a screen; during the day I build software, & as soon as I’m home I’m PC gaming exclusively. I could be doing other things, productive things no doubt, but after doing two degrees while working full time I think I’m entitled to spend my leisure time doing whatever I bloody well want.

What made you start gaming?

My first memory of gaming was when I was probably about six years old. During school holidays my father would stay home with me, which meant I would spend all day sitting on a piano stool watching him play Warlords II. It was a good deal for Daddy Dearest, & a great deal for me too – I couldn’t get enough of seeing more & more of the game tactics (or the ganking). This kicked off my interest in top down strategy gaming & probably catalysed my later obsession with the Sid Meier’s Civilization series.

What types characters do you most often play?

I love casters. Mages. Wizards. There’s just something about this tiny unarmoured person acing the everloving shit out of monsters without even touching them that I find appealing. I generally play female wizards too – even though I know I could play a lady paladin, or a warrior or whatever, I feel like being a caster allows me to express femininity, whatever that means, while being a totally destructive badass. Armchair psychologists are welcome to read into this however they like.

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What features do you most enjoy in games?

I definitely enjoy breaking games. I love setting myself obscure meta objectives just to see if something can be done. Yes, occasionally I muck around with cheat codes, but only to stabilise certain aspects of the game while I try & achieve something ludicrous. Whether it be trying to create the ultimate mage tank in World of Warcraft, or trying to balance a five-way polyamorous household in The Sims 3 – chances are I’ll be chasing after something dumb at any given point in time. I’ve started having fun with some Steam based software development kits lately to build my own ridiculous scenarios that don’t make any sense.

Following on from that, I can be a bit of an achievement junkie at times. I mean actual achievements, the ones the game designers actually want you to pursue, rather than the “Can Poland successfully invade Germany” style campaigns I design in Civ V. Following the main storyline of a game has never felt too appealing to me, & I like that the achievement system allows me to venture off & obsessively grind at whatever I feel like doing with some kind of arbitrary motivation.

What I don’t enjoy is games that are completely based around a clear storyline or objective chain – I need to have the flexibility to do other stuff & some kind of end game motivation. Game structures like the Mass Effect series have never appealed to me for this reason.

Also I don’t do PvP because I need to be able to beat you or I won’t come to the party.

What are your current gaming activities?

I’ve recently decided to up my game in World of Warcraft & get really good at playing my main, rather than just mashing my mage bomb macro & crossing my fingers. I’ve been researching & experimenting with build, spell rotation & stats balancing. I do a few raids with pick-up-groups each week, which is always a gamble in itself to find a group that doesn’t aggro the whole room for shits & giggles, but I will probably look to join a raiding guild soon, once I’m more confident in my DPS consistency.

I’m also levelling a hardcore character in Diablo III, & determined to get her to the max level without being mortally wounded. So far this is going rather smoothly, however I am noting it’s a funny balance between being super resistant to all kinds of damage & actually being able to kill a boss within an hour of engaging combat – one trades off the other to some extent. I’m quite excited about the upcoming patch to Reaper of Souls & am looking forward to running through the new tiered rifts with my friends during our Saturday night Diablo LANs.