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6:30 PM on 11.17.2012

Ultima VII: My Journey Continues

If you read my first blog about Ultima VII you may remember that I finished it with the Avatar having just left the gates of Trinsic, ready to venture out into the world of Britannia...

I decided to head North, and before long I came across a stage at the side of the road. It seemed a bit strange having a stage set up pretty much in the middle of nowhere, but there were a few characters strutting back and forth across it so I decided to approach them and start up a conversation. It turns out they were members of "The Fellowship", a group that I had met a couple of members of in Trinsic. After I paid them a handful of gold they proceeded to act out a "passion play" for me which I think was supposed to demonstrate the philosophical ideals of The Fellowship, but as my companions pointed out once the play was finished the whole thing was quite confusing and ever so slightly sinister.



Without any further ado I continued on my journey. Not too far beyond encountering The Fellowship performance I entered a swamp. Luckily there was a natural roadway that cut through the middle of the swamp, and it was on this roadway that I experienced my first taste of combat in Ultima VII. It was over almost before it even began. Because the game is running in DosBox, GOG have obviously had to mess around with the speed of the game to make it run close to normal but it still seems like everything moves a bit faster than it should. Before I even knew what was happening a crocodile rocketed out of the swamp beside me and was insta-killed by myself and my companions. I didn't even have time to move the mouse on to the crocodile to try and attack it. After this brief encounter I am left none the wiser as to how combat works in Ultima VII, but I'm sure I'll have more chances later on to get the hang of it.

Upon leaving the swamp I entered the small village of Paws, home to a bunch of filthy beggars and poor farmers. I explored around a bit and eventually came across the local branch of The Fellowship. A seemingly friendly couple were running a shelter where they took in those less fortunate than themselves, but after talking to a couple of the tenants I discovered that they were only allowed to stay there if they agreed to join The Fellowship. In fact, one poor lady called Alina had to move in to the shelter after her husband travelled north to Britain to try to get some food for her and her child. Once in Britain he was accused by a Fellowship member of stealing fruit from the royal orchards. Now The Fellowship are trying to force Alina to join their group. If she does they say they'll attempt to clear her husband's name. If she doesn't she'll have to leave the shelter. Okay, so The Fellowship definitely are a sinister organisation.

I left Paws and continued North. Not far beyond the village I discovered the capital, Britain, and I was met with a charming digitised rendition of "Rule Britannia". I quickly discovered that Britain is pretty massive, with an almost overwhelming array of shops and buildings to explore. In one of the houses I met an actor named Jesse. He was very excited about his upcoming role playing The Avatar in a new play that had just been written.


Jesse. He actually looks quite hideous, doesn't he?

I mentioned in my first post about the clever dialogue the game presents you with, and Jesse really epitomises that. In a wonderful display of fourth wall breaking, he proudly boasts that the play is over 100 hours long, and his biggest lines are "Name!" "Job!" and "Bye!". This actually made me laugh out loud, because those three lines are what you are presented with whenever you double click on somebody to interact with them in the game.

I'll leave it there for now. I'm still exploring Britain, and I haven't even encountered Lord British yet. It really feels like I'm only just starting my adventure.   read


1:35 AM on 11.13.2012

To Any "Would Be" Game Developers

My friend Stephen has just teamed up with a mate of his to form a company called Broken Planet, and they're in the process of developing their first game called "The Broken Planet". Here's their website: http://brokenplanet.co.nz/blog/welcome/

As well as documenting the progress of their game, they'll also be posting tutorials on the development process. They're using the Unreal UDK to program the game with, so if any of you out there have been interested in using this engine you might learn along with them as they discover the quirks of the engine.

There's no catch here. You won't be asked to donate money, it's not a Kickstarter or anything. It's just two guys who are passionate about gaming and who want to share their experiences with like-minded people.

Okay, that's my public service over for the day. Oh, actually, here's a promo poster from their game:

  read


7:33 PM on 11.10.2012

Road Rash Ramblings

It's funny what random things can spark video game memories. Yesterday my wife and I went to a barbecue out at a friend's place in the countryside. It's about 30 minutes outside of Nelson and the drive is filled with beautiful scenery.

Anyway, I won't bore you with details of the barbecue, but it was dark by the time we started driving home. My wife was driving and I'd had a few drinks so I had a nice buzz going on. We were traveling along a relatively straight piece of highway and up ahead in the distance there was a crossroads. A white car was stopped on the left side of the crossroads, and you could tell that they were judging whether or not they had time to cross before we reached them. They made a decision and accelerated across the road in front of us with plenty of room to spare, and I watched as the car receded into the darkness off to our right. Watching all of this immediately made something click in my head, and after thinking about it for a moment I realised that it reminded me of Road Rash! Somewhere in the depths of my brain I related the image of that car accelerating through the crossroads with the crossroads in Road Rash where cars would accelerate in front of you, quite often causing you to smash into them and go head over heels down the road. All of a sudden I was overcome with the urge to play the game, but it was pretty late by the time we got home so common sense won out and I went to bed.


Incidentally, searching up "Road Rash" images on Google is quite horrific and I wouldn't recommend it

When I woke up this morning, however, I brewed some coffee and loaded up the Megadrive emulator on my Wii. The remainder of the morning was filled with Road Rash goodness, and weaving my way through those crossroads (sometimes successfully and sometimes not) is just as thrilling as I remembered. I can honestly say that the game still holds up. It really is one of the most fun racers ever made, and it's made me hungry for a new Road Rash game.

How about all of you out there? What type of random things have reminded you of video games?   read


4:01 PM on 11.09.2012

Best...Journey...EVER!

Last night, as is traditional for me on a Friday night, I stayed up once my wife had gone to bed so that I could get some game time in. I was at a loss for what to play, so I had a scroll through my games that I'd downloaded from PSN and came across Journey. I hadn't played Journey for quite a while, and the idea of taking a trip through its world appealed to me so I loaded it up.



It wasn't long before I was totally engrossed in the game. It really is an incredibly beautiful game, both visually and aurally. One of my favourite aspects of Journey is the multi-player, and sure enough I encountered a fellow traveler before ten minutes had past. This traveler was different, though. He/She had a white cloak and an incredibly long scarf streaming out behind them. I had heard about the white cloaked travelers but this was the first time I had met one.



We greeted each other with the traditional bleeps and bloops and chimes, and then set off. I let my companion lead the way and they proceeded to show me all the secret places and glowing glyphs that I hadn't yet discovered on my earlier journeys. We developed a language where they would stop moving, chime three times, I would chime once, and then we'd both jump and fly off. We spent the majority of the game airborne, which is something I hadn't experienced before. By staying close to each other we constantly replenished our flight time which meant we rarely had to return to the ground. I honestly had the biggest grin on my face throughout the whole experience.

Each time we completed a stage I expected that my companion might leave and I would meet up with another traveler, as had happened on my earlier journeys, but each time I entered a new area the same companion was there with me leading the way. It was totally awesome. We stuck together right to the end. Just before entering the final canyon which leads to the ending cinematic we both drew shapes in the snow. The first thing that occurred to me to draw was a smiley face. I drew a big circle and a mouth and my companion realised what I was doing and proceeded to draw the two eyes. It was the perfect ending to what was the best multi-player experience that I've ever had.

Upon returning to the title screen I immediately closed the game and sent a message to my companion thanking them for the great experience, and they replied straight away with a similar message. I'll say again, now, thank you to pleiades6 for such a fantastic Journey.   read


8:19 PM on 11.03.2012

Ultima VII: My Journey Begins

I donít really have much of a history with the Ultima series of games. Other than vague memories of my older brother playing the games on his Amiga 500 when I was a kid, and a brief stint playing Ultima Online around 1999, I havenít played any other games in the series. With that admission out of the way, I can honestly say that I have always been interested in the series. Iím aware of the importance the games have in Western RPG history, and if thereís ever an article in a magazine or online about the games then Iíll happily read it. Iíve always found the idea of the fictional world of Britannia, and the long lived ruler Lord British, to be fascinating. I also think itís neat that the aforementioned Lord British is the alter-ego of the creator of the series, Richard Garriott. Thereís something cool about the creator of the game youíre playing being a character in the game, in a weird sort of way.


Richard Garriott as his alter ego, Lord British

So, now that Iíve established my brief and tenuous history with the series, Iíll move on to the meat of this post. Yesterday I purchased Ultima VII from GOG, as part of their weekend EA game promo. I was in the mood for some retro gaming and the sale struck at just the right time, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to re-introduce myself to Ultima. I knew, in a vague kind of way, that Ultima VII had a good reputation as one of the best in the series and a quick Google search for opinions quickly confirmed this. Without any further ado I clicked back on GOG and purchased the Ultima VII Complete pack.

If any of you out there have ever purchased games from GOG youíll know that they go the extra mile with the added extras you get. With Ultima VII you get a multitude of manuals, guides, hint books, a perfect scan of the original cloth map from the boxed version, a black and white version of the same map, and a huge collection of design documents from the development of the game. All in all itís a pretty awesome package for only $2.39 I spent on it.

After skim-reading the (very well written) manual I dove straight into the game. I was greeted by a red-faced ape like creature with a booming voice advising me that he was keen on becoming the new ruler of Britannia. He actually seemed quite genial and friendly, but I got the impression that he was supposed to be the bad guy. I guess Iíd learn more as I went along.



Stepping through a Moongate, I entered the world of Britannia and appeared in the town of Trinsic. Rather conveniently I immediately bumped into a guy called Iolo, who I gathered was an old friend of the Avatar (the character you play). He explains that a brutal murder has just taken place in town and that you should investigate. Iolo joins your party, a green arrow appears on screen, and youíre now in control. I was initially worried that, like a lot of older PC games, I would be overwhelmed by the control scheme. I was very happily surprised to discover that pretty much the entire game is controlled using only the mouse, making it a very accessible game. Movement is achieved by moving the cursor to where you want to go on screen and holding down the right mouse button. Opening up your character screen is achieved by simply double left clicking on the character, and likewise for your party members. I walked into the stables where the murder has taken place, which is right next to where you start, and was confronted with a rather grisly scene. The town blacksmith has been torn apart and his mutilated body is lying on the ground. I should mention here how the game is presented graphically. You view proceedings from overhead camera angle. Youíre not directly above the scene, you view things from a slightly lower angle. Buildings appear solid when youíre outside, but once you walk inside the roof disappears to allow you to move around. Overall it is an odd perspective, but I quickly got used to it.


The grisly murder scene that greets you when you start the game

Back to the stables, and I decided to experiment with the control scheme. After clicking about on every object I could find I quickly discovered that you can pick up and move pretty much every item in the game. Like the look of that bucket? Pick it up and put it in your pack. See some tasty bread sitting on somebodyís shelf? Steal it and have a bread feast later on. I picked up a couple of clues from the scene, a key and some gargoyle jewellery (a gargoyle was also murdered, stuck to the stable wall with a pitchfork), and then decided to heed Ioloís advice to talk about the murder with every townsperson I encountered. Talking to people is as easy as double clicking on them and following the dialogue trees. I must say, the dialogue in the game so far is very well written and entertaining. Every character definitely has a distinct personality. In particular the town armourer, and his constant demands for you to either buy something or get out of his shop, made me smile.

Trinsic is a walled town and you canít leave without getting the password from the mayor. In order to do this you need to gather clues and then make a report to the mayor about the murder. If he is satisfied with your progress he then asks you some questions about locations around the world of Britannia to confirm that you truly are the Avatar. I imagine that playing the game back in 1992 this part would have been quite a treat, because it requires you to refer to the cloth map in order to give the mayor exact longitude and latitude locations. Iíll admit that for this section I simply used the included guide which gave the answers. Now satisfied that you are the Avatar of legend, the mayor gives you the town password and sends you on your way to continue investigating the murder. He mentions that crime is very reminiscent of a murder that happened a few years ago in the capital, Britain. With that tidbit of information fresh in my mind, I travelled to the town gate, gave the guard the password, and stepped outside into the land of Britannia...


The gate through which I left Trinsic

I plan to continue with these blogs detailing my journey through Ultima VII. I realise that theyíre probably only going to be of interest to a pretty small group of gamers, but Iím really looking forward to exploring the game further and documenting my adventure. I hope you enjoy journeying along beside me.   read


8:35 PM on 10.26.2012

PAX Australia: I will be in you....

I bought a three day pass to PAX Australia! This is kind of a big deal. Living at the ass-end of the world (New Zealand) I always dreamed of one day attending a big gaming show like PAX or E3, but in reality I realised it probably was never going to happen due to dumb real life issues such as money, distance, job, wife etc.....actually, my wife's not dumb. Sorry, honey!

I'm pretty excited about the show. I have a good idea of what to expect from looking at coverage of previous PAX events on Destructoid, but I'm sure the actual event will be kind of overwhelming. Three days of gaming goodness will most likely fry my brain. I'm looking forward to the experience, though, even if I do end up a shrivelled husk of a man by the end of day three. As long as I see this guy at the event I'll be happy:



As well as the event, I'm really looking forward to visting Melbourne again. My wife and I lived there for a year in 2008. It's a very cool city, the only reason we moved back to New Zealand was because we were homesick and missed our friends too much. It's kind of a shame that the event is in July, right in the middle of Winter. Melbourne is a great city and all, but just like any city it can be a bit miserable smack dab in the heart of Winter. It doesn't ever get really cold, but it'll be a shame if the weather is shitty.

Going back to what I said at the start of this post, I've been looking forward to attending a big event like this for a long time. Honestly, the fact that it's a PAX event isn't really a selling point. It could have been a totally new gaming expo and I still would have signed up. I've only visited the Penny Arcade site a handful of times, so I'm definitely not what you would call a fan. I know that there will be some attractions at PAX Australia which will cater towards long time fans of Penny Arcade, but I'm not worried about missing out on these. I'm sure there will be more than enough to capture my attention over the three days.

Is anyone else out there going, or thinking of going? It'd be cool to meet up with some fellow Dtoiders. I'm sure we could get up to all kinds of mischief...   read


2:24 AM on 10.19.2012

Suspension of Disbelief: Broken

So, I've been playing a bit of Skyrim lately. I bought it a few months ago for PC, but it's taken me a while to really get into it. I don't have a lot of free time to game, normally only on the weekends and the occasional weeknight, and Skyrim is a "gaming marathon" type of game. You can't really sit down and play 10 minutes of Skyrim and feel any real type of achievement or progress.

I'm 14 hours into the game, according to Steam. During these 14 hours I have gotten so close to losing myself in the world and lore of the game, but every time I get close something happens to wrench me out of the fantasy to put me squarely back in my chair in front of a computer monitor. For every sweeping mountain vista and impressively rendered and designed dungeon there is a jarring glitch such as a guard suddenly appearing in front of you out of nowhere or a character magically skiing across the ground without moving their legs.



Now, I normally don't really worry about bugs or glitches unless they're game breaking or somehow cause you to lose progress or something serious like that. There have been many games where glitches have been hilarious, and in some games they actually add to the entertainment factor. With Skyrim, however, they're kind of starting to get on my nerves. I'm a huge fantasy fan. Fantasy novels make up the bulk of the books in my library. Skyrim, for me, represents an opportunity to get lost in a huge open world where you can cut your own path and create your own story. When you enter an Inn and ask a bard to play a song for you, causing a lute to teleport into their hands and then disappear just as quickly when they're finished playing, it definitely breaks the illusion somewhat.

Like I said, in many ways Skyrim is incredibly impressive in what it strives to achieve. Despite the issues I have I am genuinely enjoying the game, but I wish Bethesda had maybe aimed a bit smaller and polished the rough edges before they released the game. I would happily accept a smaller world to explore if it meant that I didn't have to deal with characters glitching in and out of existence on a fairly regular basis.

How about all of you out there? Do game bugs annoy you, or do you simply accept them as a part of today's big game releases?   read


12:46 AM on 10.12.2012

New blog attack!

Wow, so...ummm...long time since last blog. Can't be bothered explaining, but there was the situation with the aggressive panda and then the police got involved and then I had to leave the country. But, I'm back!

In all honestly, I've been on Dtoid every single day but just haven't felt motivated to blog. I gotta say, I like the new Dtoid layout. Everything is curved and friendly and I don't cut myself while foolishly prodding my computer monitor to make words happen.

I just watched the first Podtoid animation also, which cracked me up big time. I'm really looking forward to upcoming episodes, if they're anything like this first one then they'll be right up my alley. Oooer!

Video games! I've played so many, it's kind of a big deal. I finally got into Borderlands (the first) about a month before the sequel came out. I ploughed my way through it pretty quickly and totally loved it. Thanks to my generous brother buying it for me on Steam for my Birthday I got into the sequel the day it was released. Borderlands 2 basically takes all the good stuff from the first and then smooths the less fun stuff out nicely to create a smorgasbord of shooting joy. I likey.

Thanks to a bunch of sales I have also been playing Lost Odyssey on the Xbox, Rage on the PS3, and (shock horror a Wii game!) Mad World on the Wii.

Lost Odyssey is awesome. It's been a long time since I've really played a JRPG, and this one's a goodie. A really great storyline and fun characters helps elevate the ultimately quite traditional JRPG gameplay.

Rage is a mixed bag. On the PS3 it's a bit of a technical mess. When you're not moving the graphics look fantastic, but once you move the analogue stick you're confronted with hideous texture pop-in worse than I've seen in any other game. I'm slowly getting used to it to the point where I can almost ignore it, but id really should have done better. As for the gameplay I'm actually really enjoying it. The shooting mechanics are spot on, as you'd expect from an id game, and the world is interesting enough to make you want to see the new locations. I'll stick with it but I imagine it'll take me a long time to finish the game.

As for Mad World, I've only played this for about 30 minutes but it was good fun. It was only $10 on sale so even if I don't finish it I'm not really bothered, but it sure was a novelty actually purchasing a Wii game. The last game I bought before this was the original Super Mario Galaxy.

I've also been doing a lot of PC gaming, probably more than on the consoles. I actually upgraded my PC recently. I bought a used GTX 460 for pretty cheap off an online trading website and have added it to my existing GTX 460 in my rig so I'm now running SLI for the first time ever. It's pretty awesome, although the configuration of my motherboard means there's only about 5mm between the two cards which makes for some pretty high temperatures for the card on top. So far they've been within limits, though, although it's not summer here in New Zealand yet so I'll have to see how it fares once the temperature outside starts rising.

Okay, I have updated! I'm going to go and drink whiskey and cola in honour of it being the weekend! Peace out, bitches!   read


3:45 AM on 05.28.2012

Is that a Vita in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

So, I now own a PlayStation Vita. I've been interested in the handheld since before it was released, the sheer power of the thing made my nipples tingle in anticipation. I didn't buy one on launch, mainly because I had a long term plan to get one for free. The electronics store where I work has a rewards scheme through one of our suppliers where the more you sell of their stuff the more points you get. I've been saving up my points and recently earned enough to go for the Vita. I went for the WiFi model, the 3G doesn't really interest me. It would just be another cost that I don't need in the long run.

My first impressions of the machine were generally positive. It has a nice feel to it, and the screen is fantastic. The main interface is easy enough to navigate, but it's not particularly inspired. It does the job, basically. As for the other bells and whistles, such as the web browser, they are also nice but nothing amazing. It's pretty disappointing that there's currently no Flash support, but I'm hopeful that this will come along further down the track. I'm also really hopeful that an E-Reader app will be released at some stage.

As for the games, I bought Uncharted: Golden Abyss. I figured this was a pretty safe bet, the reviews were uniformly excellent and I like the PS3 Uncharted games. Visually, the game is incredible. It honestly is like a PS3 game in the palm of your hand. It plays almost exactly like its console counterparts, with the addition of touch screen and rear touch panel support. Although a lot of these additions may seem a little gimmicky, I have found myself using the touch screen to swipe a path along ledges more often than not. It's just easier than climbing manually.

It's early days yet, of course, but what I've seen so far has me cautiously hopeful about the future of the Vita. I'm sure the game releases will pick up over the next 6 months or so, and until then there's always the back catalog of PSP games to download. I never owned a PSP, so this really is an enticing prospect. In fact, if anyone out there has recommendations for good PSP games I'd be keen to hear them.   read


6:02 AM on 05.12.2012

Megakrang's Ultimate Gaming Adventure! (Disclaimer: May not live up to title)

It's been a while. My plan to post at least once a week has, as usual, flown out the window. I always start off well but then get distracted and lazy and start slipping.

Since my last update, which if memory serves me was the "10 Things about blah blah blah" post, I have been busy with various odds and sods. I'm in rehearsals for a play, which I'm excited about. I haven't acted on stage since the end of 2007, so the prospect of treading the boards again has me all a-tingle. We open in one month and rehearsals are going well so far.

Other than this I have had the usual mix of work/exercise/wife time etc. Of course, amongst all of this I have worked some good gaming sessions in. My favourite gaming moment from the last month or so was powering through co-op with a friend on Killzone 3. My best mate came to stay with us for a few days so I hired the game out, and we managed to finish it off before he had to leave. It was a lot of fun. I honestly haven't played a lot of co-op and it made me hungry for more.

I've also almost finished F.E.A.R 3 (or F3AR if you insist). I bought this game last Monday along with Enslaved and Dead Space 2 as part of a pre-owned "buy 2 get 1 free" deal at my local EB Games. I'm enjoying the game quite a lot. It starts off a bit average, but it ramps up the intensity and action after the first couple of levels. I've played the first two games in the series, and I'm definitely enjoying this one more than the second. The first game is still the best, however. In fact, I rank it amongst my favourite first person shooters. This third installment has a different vibe than the other games, though. It's not in the least bit scary, for one thing. The first F.E.A.R holds the distinct honour of being the only game to cause me to have a nightmare. I had been playing the game into the early hours of the morning, lights turned off and with my headphones on so this definitely had something to do with it. In any case, I remember Alma coming for me in my dream and I woke up screaming. Good times!

After I finish F.E.A.R 3 off I think I'll move on to Warhammer: Space Marine, which I bought for $20 used from a video store. I played the demo of this a while ago and really enjoyed it! It seems like a whole heap of loud, dumb fun.

On the PC side of things I just bought Alan Wake on Steam, finally. I have a bit of a history with this game, I guess. Being a huge Max Payne fan, I remember reading updates about this game on Remedy's website years back when it was still in development. Even as the release kept getting pushed back and back I still loyally maintained my interest in the game. That is, until Remedy announced that the game was now going to be an Xbox 360 exclusive. I was really fucked off. The only gaming machines I owned at the time were my PC and my PS2. I immediately thought "fuck this game" and lost interest, even when I eventually got a 360 I still didn't buy the game. The eventual release on PC did catch my attention, though, and I just couldn't resist when the game was half price on Steam earlier this week. I've played a couple of hours of it so far and it's pretty fucking good. It looks incredible on the PC, for one thing, so I'm kind of glad that I waited.

That's about it. I'll try and get back to weekly updating again. I know that none of you out there give a shit, but I want to do it for me. It does me good to just write something now and again, it gets the ol' brain working.   read


7:36 PM on 04.08.2012

10 Things about Megakrang that probably half a dozen people will bother reading

Yes, I'm a mindless zombie who follows others. I want to be one of the cool kids!



1: I used to be "mildly obese"

Back in my last couple of years of High School I started going to the gym to work out. However, being young and dumb I really didn't understand the whole concept and lifestyle behind working out. This meant that I ate a lot of pasta and did some half-assed weight training at the gym to try and bulk up. What this lead to was me putting on a lot of weight, to the point where I eventually got to 95kg (210 pounds). The "mildly obese" is a quote from my doctor at the time, I didn't realise he thought this until I got my medical records a few years ago and had a read through them.

2: I'm now addicted to exercise

About five years ago, at the age of 27, I started seriously working out. Prior to this I would have bursts of exercise activity for a few months and then gradually lose interest and give up. I have consistently exercised for the last five years now, and in particular during the last couple of years I have gotten really serious about it. My focus is mainly on resistance training, but I throw in cardio rotations in every once in a while to keep my general fitness level up. It's now at the point where if I go more than a couple of days without exercise I really notice it and get pretty grumpy and unhappy. I simply have to exercise. I'm actually doing correspondence study towards being a personal trainer, but that's going pretty slow. I'm definitely not the most motivated person when it comes to study.

3: I once performed essentially naked in a play

This one takes a bit of explaining, it's one of my favourite acting memories. I used to be part of a theatre group called The Loopen Experiment, and we performed a Butoh dance piece amongst World War II gun emplacements on the hills around Canterbury, New Zealand. Yes, we were definitely an experimental theatre group. The first portion of this production was basically four of us totally naked, covered in white body paint, with only a strip of fabric hanging down between our legs to hide our shame. It was so fucking bizarre. I remember while we were warming up before the show a Japanese tourist who was hiking through the hills stumbled into the engine room we were performing in and promptly screamed and ran away at the sight of us.

4: I've never been in a serious fist fight

The only time I've actually punched somebody in anger was when I was about 8 years old, and a kid at my school was bullying another kid who was walking around on crutches with a broken leg! That was a pretty dick move, so I stepped in and got into a tussle with the bully and threw a few punches at his gut. Since then I've managed to avoid physical confrontation. Luckily I grew big quite early, so I managed to avoid being bullied myself at school. In my adult life there have been a few situations where things could have gotten physical (ooooerr) with other guys, but I've managed to talk them down before the shit hits the fan. I'm generally a pretty laid back guy, I've got no interest in confrontation with anybody unless it's absolutely necessary.

5: I shake constantly

I have a condition called "essential tremors", which is basically a constant tremor in my body whenever it is tensed. So, if I hold my hand out in front of me and tense it then it will shake. If I'm just sitting on the couch relaxed then you wouldn't notice anything. This has been a hassle all of my life, and I was incredibly self-conscious about it while growing up. Even now I find I have to explain it to people early so they don't think there's something really wrong with me, particularly when I'm exercising with them because when my muscles are tensed while lifting weights it's definitely noticeable. My dad has the same thing, apparently it's commonly passed on from generation to generation. So, that's a bit shit-house.

6: I've had my heart broken only once

By a girl named Rosey, about 12 years ago. Anybody who has been through this kind of break-up can attest to how much it fucking hurts, and I was pretty much a wreck for about 3 months. What got me through this time? Final Fantasy X! I played this game almost non-stop during this period, and it really took my mind off of things and gave me time to heal.

7: I never thought I would get married

Until I eventually got married. I'm not really sure why, but in my teenage years and my early twenties I always told myself that I'd never get married. I didn't see the point of it, I figured that if you were with somebody that you loved then simply making your own personal commitment to them was enough. What difference would putting a ring on her finger actually make? But then I met my wife, and within a couple of years of being with her I noticed a definite change in my thinking. I wanted to make the ultimate commitment to her, and it seemed like marriage was the next logical step. We've now been married for a little over a year, and it's fucking awesome!

8: I own a copy of PAL format Suikoden on the PS1

This is my only valuable game. It's in almost mint condition. I keep it sealed in a bag to try and keep it as safe as possible. I didn't buy it for collection purposes or anything, I bought it years ago and played through it back when I owned a PS1. I didn't realise it was valuable until I noticed it on an auction website for about $200 NZ a while back. I honestly don't think I'll sell it, but it's nice to know it's a valuable little collector's item.

9: I've lived in three different countries throughout my life

I was born and raised in New Zealand, but when I was 24 I went traveling around Europe for 3 months before settling in Edinburgh, Scotland for 6 months. I lived in a tiny little "box room" in a flat with 4 other people, and worked at a kilt store and at HMV. I eventually got incredibly home sick and bought a ticket back to New Zealand.

In 2008 my then-girlfriend (now wife) and I moved to Melbourne, Australia, for a work opportunity for her. It was fun, and we enjoyed Melbourne a lot, but once her work contract expired after 12 months we realised we missed New Zealand and all our friends at home too much so we moved back.

10: I once worked as a host on a party bus

This goes back to my time living in Edinburgh. When I first arrived I was pretty low on cash, and a friend of mine hooked me up with a job working Friday and Saturday nights on a party bus. The name of the bus company was "Club Class", they're still operating actually. Here's their website: http://www.clubclassbus.com/edinburghinfo.htm

The job basically involved dressing up in a pilot's uniform and chaperoning party groups from bar to bar, and chatting with them and generally making sure they had a good time. The whole thing started off well and I genuinely enjoyed it, it was like being paid to party every weekend. Before long, however, it really started to drag, especially once I got a day job and was exhausted by the time the weekend rolled around. I actually stuck it out right up until I left Edinburgh to head back to New Zealand, but my heart wasn't in it. My boss definitely would have fired me before too much longer.   read


5:01 AM on 04.05.2012

Gaming Update: "I'll kill your dicks!"

The above quote is one of my favourite lines from Bulletstorm, which I picked up a few days ago on Steam when it was only $7.99. I had previously played the demo of the game on Xbox when it was first released. I kind of enjoyed it, but I couldn't see myself playing the full game. I imagined that I'd get bored after too long. I was wrong.



First of all, the graphics in this game are gorgeous and the art design is fantastic. For a ridiculous game about killing freaks and mutants in over-the-top fashion, People Can Fly definitely didn't scrimp on the visual element. The planet the game is set on is a beautifully realised sci-fi wonderland, and everywhere you look there is an amazing view to behold. But enough of that shit, what about the shooting the people in the balls and then kicking them into a giant cactus? Yes, this game has that. There is a lot of kicking. Always with the kicking. The character you play, Grayson Hunt, has a seemingly magical giant boot that propels people skyward and slows down time. Of course, the slowing down time part is never explained. It doesn't need to be in this game. This is a game where you can pull a mutant towards you with a electric leash, kick an explosive barrel towards another freak, and the then shoot an explosive bola which wraps around the first mutant's neck after which you can kick him into a crowd of his friends and then detonate. Glorious.

As most people will know the main point of difference in this FPS is its "Skill Shots". These are basically all the different and inventive ways you can kill people in the game, and you score points depending on which Skill Shots you use. My favourite is "Sausage Fest", which is when you kick a hotdog stand into a crowd and it explodes. Yes, "Sausage Fest". The names for the Skill Shots can be quite amusing, and it's worthwhile taking a look through your stats to see which ones you have achieved.

It's obvious while playing Bulletstorm that the developers had their tongues planted firmly in their cheeks when they put it together. The characters are all hyper-stylised stereotypes, and the voice actors seem to have fun spouting their often hilarious dialogue. I honestly have laughed out loud several times while playing the game, some of the lines are just so ridiculous.

I'm about half way through the game so far, and my fear of growing bored has proven unfounded. I'm really enjoying Bulletstorm, and I'm looking forward to discovering more inventive ways to slaughter people in the days ahead.   read


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