A New Lapel Pin – I think I may have a problem.

I like gaming pin badges…a lot.

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I have a rather…large collection of gaming themed pin badges.  Every week at work I wear a different one, and more often than not the kids there will question me on it.  Seeing as kids these days almost all play video games they tend to be quite interested in what game they’re from.  Some are obvious ones they know (Overwatch and Sonic) whilst others are ones they may not recognise or have heard of but want to find out about (Rainbow 6 and Bioshock).  It’s quite nice that they take an interest and may find an older game that they end up trying out.

Pin badges
How many games can you name?

Anyway, I often find myself scouring etsy and other craft sites for people who make these sort of things to expand my collection.  Very few game developers/publishers make them.  Pinny Arcade have a few good ones, and it was nice to see that Elite Dangerous had a few official ones, but these are rare and more often than not I need to rely on people online having already made them.  I was very pleasantly surprised when someone from Tzar Jewellery asked if I would like a custom made pin for material cost.  Obviously I snapped their hand off (figuratively) and set about thinking what I would like.

Ashbringer World of Warcraft
I’m pretty sure a few of you know what this is.

I wanted something different to the many pins I already had, but one that represented something significant in terms of my gaming life so far.  After some thought I settled on the Ashbringer weapon from World of Warcraft, a game I spent a significant amount of time playing during my university years.  If you aren’t aware, back in the vanilla days of WoW Ashbringer was a legendary sword often hinted at existing but could never actually be acquired by legitimate means.  I understand that players can get hold of it these days, but that’s beside the point!

Warcraft
I was kept up to date with pictures of how the production was coming along.

Once I had decided on the design I consulted with the maker over how it should look, the size of the pin, and any detailing.  He seemed very happy to set it up exactly how I would like it and asked for a number of different high-res pictures to ensure everything was to the correct scale.  Where I was unsure (such as what to do with detailing on the hilt) he was ready with suggestions.  We went with silver for the bulk of the sword, the gems are both eSl1 (which I think is good!) diamonds (one coloured to appear black), and the circle is made from mother of pearl.

Warcraft jewellery
It was interesting to see how it came together over time.

During production I was kept up to date with pictures of how it was coming along at various stages.  It was really interesting to see what looked like a small chunk of metal turn into something really quite impressive over the course of its construction.  I won’t pretend to know anything about metalwork, but I’m sure making something that looks this good takes quite a bit of talent.  Once it was all put together, the pin was hallmarked and given to me when the maker and I had a chance to meet in person.

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Here it is, completed and on my work jacket. Apologies for my low quality camera skills!

It looks excellent and I’m really very happy with how it looks.  The pupils at work have asked about it, and whilst none of them know exactly what it is, they’ve all heard of the game that it comes from.  It’s certainly one of my favourites in my collection and I’d like to thank Tzar Jewellery for making this for me.  It really is an excellent piece of work.

Warcraft jewellery
The finished product

E3 2017 Wrap Up – Games and such

I don’t think I’ll ever go to E3 in person, and that’s just fine by me.

I’ve never been to E3, and I doubt I ever will. That’s mostly because it looks like there are far, far too many people in a big, hot hall. I’m more than content to read about and watch the games in comfort, and not have to go near crowds of humans who may be infected with a dormant form of the zombie plague.

So here are a few thoughts on the bits and pieces from during the event.  I’m sticking to the games and tech mainly, and avoiding the god-awful, cringe worthy presentations.  Stop with the faux YouTuber nonsense!  Anyway, enjoy!

EA

EA Logo

Sports, innit!  Madden has a story mode now, just like most of EA’s other sports franchises.  FIFA will also have a continuation of its story mode, The Journey, which my wife will be fairly happy about.  There’s more content for Battlefield 1 coming, which I don’t really car about much.  Seems to be a lot of night time maps, so if you like that sort of thing then brilliant I suppose.  Need For Speed is back.  PAYBACK in fact.  It’ll have a story mode once again which is the one thing it has over Forza/Horizon.  It looks pretty but I’ve never really been interested in racers for their plots.  If the racing is good then I may take a look, but it seems to be full of scripted sequences which may break the flow of the racing.  I’ll keep an eye one it but I’m not holding my breath.

There’s Battlefront 2 on it’s way as well.  It looks pretty, and there’s a single player campaign now too.  Basically this looks like what the previous game should have been, but then we knew that already.  Then there’s A Way Out, which is the one thing here that actually grabbed me.  A co-op (only) prison escape action adventure.  THAT HAS LOCAL CO-OP!  That last bit alone is enough to interest me, but it looks gorgeous, is from a developer with a good history, and it seems to stand out somewhat from many games.

Verdict: Lots of “Meh” with a little bit of “Oh, now that’s interesting”.

Microsoft

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Microsoft needed games, and I suppose they had some.  They also needed to show off the Scorpio (or Xbox One X as it’s now called) well, and I’m not so sure about that.  I suppose the new system is powerful, and the Forza 7 trailer certainly looked good running on it, but it’s not really a system seller, and that’s what was really missing.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Forza a lot, but I won’t be buying a new (expensive) machine especially for it.  The original Xbox backwards compatibility was a great thing to show people though!

Anyway, games aplenty here!  A new Metro game, named Exodus (which may be exclusive, I’m not too sure) has me interested.  Dark, scary, and very serious.  It’s a series I like and I’m glad it’s back.  Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, the battle royale style game, is a bit of a Twitch darling right now, and is heading to the console.  The Darwin Project seems to be in a similar vein but more light-hearted.  I’m not too fussed about either.  Skipping a few (seriously, there were a lot),  Dragonball Fighter Z looks fun, The Last Night and The Artful Escape have interesting art styles, Sea of Thieves is something I don’t care about, Cuphead still looks cool but really should get around to coming out and Crackdown 3 still exists.  There were a ton of other indie games, before getting to see Ashen, which seems to be trying to fill the void left by Dark SoulsOri is getting a sequel which is nice, and Shadow of War looks great too.  Then we got to see Anthem, which seems to be EA wanting to take on Destiny, which is pretty brave.  It does look good though!

Verdict:  Xbox One X is a thing now, too many games but very few system sellers.  Microsoft seem to be aiming at current users rather than new ones.

Bethesda

bethesda logo

This was about as safe as they get.  Bethesda took few risks, with VR versions of DOOM and Fallout 4, which will probably be pretty cool, and more Elder Scrolls.  We had Skyrim on Switch (again, and not looking brilliant if you ask me), and extra stuff for Elder Scrolls: Legends, their card game.  DLC for Dishonored 2 (honour has a ‘u’ in it!) is fine for fans of the series I’m sure, and a sequel to The Evil Within (which I didn’t like much) had a pretty great trailer.  Then we got the only bit I was really interested in, Wolfenstein 2, which looks pretty great.  The New Order was excellent so I’m hoping for more of that quality.

Verdict: Safe.  Very few risks here which is a little disappointing.

PC

XCOM 2 content!  Everything else can go home as far as I’m concerned, this wins.  It looks like a sizable expansion too, in the vein of Enemy Within.  Very excited!

I suppose I should mention other things too.  BattleTech seems to be coming along nicely, which is nice considering I backed it on Kickstarter.  Mount & Blade 2 and Total War: Warhammer 2 look fine too.  There were a few VR games too, but I’ll leave those to better qualified people to discuss.  Lawbreakers was mentioned too, offering some serious looking competition in the hero shooter genre.  Wargroove looks quite interesting, seeming to bring back the strategy of the classic Advance Wars.  I’m interested in this one.

Verdict: Go home everyone.  There’s more XCOM 2.  Life complete.

Ubisoft

Ubisoft New Logo

This one surprised me more.  I expected a lot of stuff we already knew, but there were a few unexpectedly interesting games.  So, forgetting about Assassin’s Creed: Origins having a trailer (that looks to be playing it safe with the series), Far Cry 5 still looking interesting, and the bizarre Mario/Rabbids crossover game, there were some cool announcements.  The Crew 2 exists (not interested), South Park has a release date (let’s hope it sticks this time), and Steep has some DLC (did that sell well enough).  Then there was Skull & Bones which is a pirate game!  Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag was great so I’m expecting a top pirate themed adventure here.  I know piracy is often frowned upon in gaming (ZING!), but I’m pretty excited by this.  Transference could be brilliant, terrible, or mad as a bag of cats.  It’s some something to do with VR I think?  There’s Elijah Wood in it which is…good?  Maybe?  It was bizarre enough to get my attention.

We had a game called Starlink, which seems to combine No Man’s Sky style space exploration, with the toys-to-life mechanics seen in Lego Dimensions and co, and an actual story.  I like space shooters so I’ll keep an eye on this one.  Then the one that people have been clamouring for for years: Beyond Good & Evil 2.  It’s been so long since the original that I’m not sure if I’m interested anymore.  Also, it’s a prequel so that trailer from years ago will still go unresolved.  Still, the trailer looks pretty cool so here’s hoping the franchise can finally be resurrected successfully.

Verdict:  Better than I expected!

Sony

Sony Logo

A problem I had here, was just seeing more trailers for games that had had trailers last year.  Spider-Man, God of War 4, Detroit, Days Gone, and so forth had been shown before.  I think this is a problem with E3 generally, showing games way too early leaving me to burn out on them before they get close to release.  Anyway, enough of that.  Gran Turismo is back, which is great although it will need to do well to compete with Forza for my racing attention!  Crash Bandicoot wasn’t really a surprise, but it’s nice to see.  Knack 2 is a thing that exists.  Hidden Agenda looks interesting, from the people behind Until Dawn.  It seems to a similar choice based progression but with multiple players using their phones to progress and interact with the game.  I like the look of this!  Superhot VR is a nice thing to have on the console, but I was very happy to see Undertale on a console.  Such a tremendous game deserves to be played by as many people as possible.

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy had a trailer appearance and looks good (I’m not that into the series though).  A console based Monster Hunter game is a great thing to see.  It feels right at home on a big screen.  I’ll probably pick this one up.  Speaking of ones to buy, Shadow of the Colossus is getting a PS4 remaster (or remake?) which means I may finally get to play this classic that I missed out on.  Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite got a story trailer (and a good one at that), but I’d like to see some gameplay in it.  Call of Duty WWII had a trailer too and very much looks like a Call of Duty game.  I think everyone knows what to expect here.  We got some Destiny 2 as well, which is fine if you’re interested in the series.  I don’t think it’s going to sway me though.

Verdict: A lot of what we’d already seen, but some pretty good stuff all the same.

Nintendo

Nintendo Logo

I haven’t been big on Nintendo for while now.  I feel for every innovation they push, they make 2 boneheaded moves that ignore modern innovations.  Still, the Switch seems to have done well for them!  Most of their stuff gets shown in the Nintendo Direct stuff they do, but they had some nice presentations here.  Xenoblade Chrinicles 2 looks fantastic, pity I haven’t played the series at all.  A new Kirby game is nice, but I suspect a lot of people were very excited to see Metroid Prime 4.  Whilst it’s only a logo for now, it’s a great series to try to bring back.  I think I’d have rather they try to create a new Metroid series, but Prime was an excellent trilogy so I understand their thinking.  Yoshi.  Yay.  Fire Emblem Warriors.  Also yay.

Rocket League is coming to the Switch which is nice.  It has cross play too which makes a lot of sense in this era.  Throwing in Nintendo items is a smart move.  Then, there’s Mario Odyssey.  Damn that trailer is good.  Suitable song, fun looking gameplay (I want to possess a koopa!) and frankly stunning visuals.  This and Breath of the Wild are pushing me towards buying a Switch.

Verdict: Nintendo forever relying on their established franchises.  Still, what they have looks pretty good.

So what did you like most from the show?  Would you rather go there in person?  Let me know!

 

Charity Stream Wrap Up – What is sleep and where can I buy some?

Well after 24 hours of gaming from 10AM Tuesday to 10AM Wednesday, we managed to raise over £250 (thanks to a very generous late donation!) with more to come in.  Somehow I survived, and its thanks in no small part to those lovely people who who joined the stream either to chat, play or just watch.  Thank you to you all, and an extra special thank you to those who donated to Special Effect who were running the event.  There are bigger streamers with more followers raising greater sums of money in this event, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

16 hours in meant I did not do very well here!  Thank god the team carried me to victory!

Some highlights and clips of the day (and night).  Starting quietly with 5 hours of the insanely difficult Nioh almost ruined me.  The chat was pretty quiet for the first 8 hours or so (although it was nice to have Later Levels join me early on to offer support) but picked up later on.  An attempt at Valley backfired due to the sound not coming through well at all.  Instead I moved onto the free PS+ game Not A Hero, a very violent, pretty challenging platformer for a few hours.

Eugene’s play by play commentary as F.A.N.G takes on Ryu is just stunning.  So much quality!

Around this time, friends Eugene, Josh and Emma arrived and things got a little more entertaining!  Cue an hour of Street Fighter V, 15 minutes of Starwhal and about 3 hours of Fibbage, Bidiots, and Quiplash resulting in a lot of hilarity and stream viewers joining in the games.  They headed home (some people don’t have all the sweet, sweet time off I get!) and Twitch chat and I agreed on playing Rocket League together, but due to download and update problems we settled on an hour of Tricky Towers first, which is a competitive tower building game in the style of Tetris.  Once Rocket League finally kicked off (PUN!) I was joined by Ben and Paul who had been watching for most of the evening for a couple of hours of car based football and basketball.  The lovely Hungry Goriya and Shelby Steiner joined us to inform us just how great we were at the game!

Taking on the Umi-Bozu.  Not much talking here because I spent so much time on this stage.  YorkshireGames feels my pain.

After much success (seriously, I can’t believe how many we won), Ben and I worked through the remake of Gauntlet, in which I died repeatedly due to the Valkyrie being terrible and the Wizard being insanely overpowered.  Anyway, Ben eventually headed for sleep (I miss sleep) and I finished up with the Street Fighter V story mode (terrible) and some more Not A Hero (I’m terrible) before being rejoined by Ben and Paul, along with Nick and Tom for a final hour of Gauntlet.  10AM reached and I gave up gaming forever (or at least for the next 24 hours anyway).

Don’t watch this if you’re easily offended.  Or if you find my laugh annoying.  I had no idea it was that bad!

Again, thank you if you were involved in any way, or even if you just read the initial post or this one.  Any support for charity is a good thing in my books.  If any of you guys do a charity live steam (and I know some of you are soon), please let me know and I’ll join in however I can.  Who knows, next year maybe I’ll do my 4th run and break £300!  Finally, an enormous thank you to my wife and daughter for allowing me to do this and supporting throughout.  Love to you both!

The final game of the stream.  Good to know my tiredness utterly scuppered my sense of direction.

Gameblast 17 – 24 Hour Charity Gaming Marathon!

For the past couple of years I’ve done a 24 hour gaming stream for Special Effect, a charity that develops gaming systems for people with physical disabilities to allow them to take part in this fantastic hobby.  Seriously, click that link and take a look at some of the stuff they do.  The charity designates a weekend for people and groups of all sizes to take part in a 24 hour game-a-thon to raise money for this cause and I’ve been more than happy to take part!

People join in on the stream, and friends come around to join in the games and have a few drinks in the evening.  Some people are even kind enough to donate to the charity, resulting in around £600 being raised by my streams alone.  Last year Special Effect brought in over £70,000 thanks to participants and wonderful people willing to give a little money.

Rocket League logo
I bought this especially for the stream after some people suggested we play it. I was not good.

Why am I telling you all this?  Well, I’d love for you to take part in some way!  I’ll be running a 24 hour stream on 21st February (yes, a Tuesday, but it’s the only time I can do it!) at 7AM GMT and it would be great to have some of you join the stream either watching, chatting or joining in.  Last year we had games of Rocket League with the stream viewers, co-op games of Helldivers and groups of people yelling at me to stop sucking at The Witness.  We had Transformers and drunken attempts to play Layers of Fear and hopefully this year we should carry on having a bunch of fun and raise some money too.

The Witness square puzzles
No. No! I am not doing this again!

If you would like to watch and join in in any capacity, the stream will be found here: Twitch And if you’re feeling really generous, you could even donate as much or as little as you’d like to a worthy cause here: Just Giving  Please don’t feel you have to donate or even watch a second of it, but if you are willing to it would be fantastic and I’d be honoured to have you giving up even a moment of your day for this.

Special Effect Logo
They’ve raised more and more money each year. Hopefully this year they’ll be able to breach £100,000!

Do you have any suggestions for games?  Early in the day it tends to just be me playing single player games, with some online multiplayer with chat later on followed by some local gaming in the evening.  Any suggestions would very much be welcome though, especially if they’re ones you’d want to play too!  Thanks for reading and please join me when the time comes for laughing at just how bad I am at games.

The Power Up Exhibit. 40 years of gaming in London.

During a little break in London, my wife spotted a little event going on at the Science Museum called Power Up, an exhibit of gaming machines from the past 40 years.  She (un?)wisely pointed it out to me and the next morning we walked across the city to visit it.  If you’ve never been to the London Science Museum, it’s quite a place.  A lovely building filled with interesting machinery and discoveries from the past.  The space exhibit is particularly worth seeing, with pieces of history from Earth’s early forays into the universe beyond our own little pebble.  But that’s not why we were there.  We were there for the games!

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The hall was fairly crowded, but there was always something to try out or examine.

Upon arrival, you may be forgiven for being a touch disappointed, as you’re immediately presented with a selection of systems from the past couple of generations.  Wii’s and PS4 systems aplenty.  But head further in and you’ll come across treasures from your childhood (or even before) that will give you that momentary nostalgia hit.  You’ll sit down to a game you played at the age of 6 and it’ll all come flooding back.

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Frogger on a BBC Micro.  It’s surprising how quickly you get back into that old rhythm.

Brilliantly, towards the back of the room they had some unusual systems alongside ones that had good ideas but were commercial failures.  Some of them I’d never even heard of, but the group putting on the event had provided information on each one.  The GCE Vectrex, a machine I hadn’t seen before, was placed alongside the insanely over sized controller of the insanely over priced Jaguar.

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The GCE Vectrex.  I’d never seen one of these.  It struck me as an early home arcade machine.

 Further along we found the Amiga CD with it’s silly, and uncomfortable, controller.  A few minutes playing Sensible Soccer was more than enough for my wife and we moved on.  Further along we found a Sinclair ZX Spectrum and a Commodore Amiga, both playing classic games.  I recognised Bomb Jack on the Spectrum but was unsure of what I was playing on the Amiga.  It was a fairly enjoyable sun and gun shooter at any rate.

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This is the game in question.  It’s probably a little small but if you could tell me what it is I’d be impressed!

Moving along we found a Master System running Choplifter (although there were a number of other games available) and a SNES with Killer Instinct.  I didn’t risk embarrassing myself by trying to play that with other people around.  I’m awful at it.  It was nice to see some systems set up alongside each other showing just how far games had come.  Two different versions of Batman, one on Mega Drive (Genesis to those of you overseas!) and one on Gamecube showed the difference in graphics and complexity of gameplay.  Pole Position II on an Atari was placed next to Outrun on XBox.  This was somewhat different as it highlights just how similar most racing games are, and the only way that genre has really gown is in terms of graphics and level of content (at least that’s how it came across to me).

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Very different generations of racing game.

There were a few peripheral based games, such as Samba de Amigo, but light gun games were very noticeable by their absence.  That’s a genre of games I particularly enjoy so I was disappointed by the lack of them.  I suspect it may be to keep the exhibit more family friendly, although Halo 3 was set up for multiplayer so I’m not so sure.  Something peripheral based that I finally got to try was VR.  Both my wife and I tried a VR football game (Sociable Soccer I think it was), which was interesting.  It wasn’t from a first person perspective, rather you controlled the camera in the sky with your head movement.  This could be helpful for setting up plays and looking what players are further ahead, but it did come across as quite odd (especially seeing the score board suspended in the sky).  The players were controlled with a traditional controller.  It’s not sold me on the idea but I can see the appeal.  My wife on the other hand said it gave her a headache so I think she’s even less sold.

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The head strap can get caught in your hair too!

It wasn’t all games.  There were some areas that would teach you some basic coding on the BBC or a PC.  These areas were understandably quieter, but they were nice to take a look at.  Less quiet was the Minecraft area which was swamped with youngsters taming horses and punching trees.

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Some simple coding here (complete with instructions) was a nice change of pace.

The event is running at the London Science Museum from 22nd July – 7th August.  So you’ve got a week at the time of posting to check it out if you’re interested!  It’s £8 per adult for one of the four 90 minute sessions each day.  If you’re interested in gaming history you may want to look into it.