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About
A qualified Environmental Chemist who happens to live in a fairly dense city with no real environment or chemistry industry.

I review indie games on another blog and you'll see them pop up here if I think the review is a good or interesting one (along with a shameless bit of self promotion)

I also operate another blog reviewing films and I mean t pick that back up when I can.

I've been gaming since the SNES days. I've been in the pro scene before for tribes 2 but hate the present pro scenes and have no interest in going back into it.

I tend to get into quite a few Betas and love ones without NDA as it means I can write about them. I have even beta tested an xbox 360 game in my time (and no not a normal public Beta one )

In gaming I'm normally the guy looking at the shelf below the AAA titles first to see if there are any great hidden gems.

My gaming drug of choice: Timesplitters in any flavour (Why won't you make Timesplitters 4 Crytek, why ????? I need my fix of insanity )
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TheKodu
14 hours ago - 10:09 PM on 01.28.2015

So I wrote a nice happy blog about a game I liked coming out on PS4 so now while I wait for a response from certain companies which would allow me to write my next happy blog, it’s time a middling one that’s not quite so happy.

  It wasn’t long ago in video games when people mocked the idea of horse armour being added to Oblivion. Little did I know back then that now I’d actually be wishing more companies were doing that and not what is now happening. You see AAA companies have pushed again.

According to the Spanish publication Mundogamers Resident Evil Revelations 2 will contain microtransactions. No big deal you might think I mean maybe a few costumes etc. Well turns out it far worse than many might thing. According to the article in an interview with some of the producers this was said in response to questions about microtransactions.

 Yes, Revelations 2 will have microtransactions. You can buy, with real money: weapons, skills and life crystals. You can buy weapons and skills within the Assault mode with both objects as you getting playing with your real money, so that nobody has to pay anything unless you want to. If for some reason you want to pay for the weapons, there is the option.

Now Kotaku (*shudders*) asked for clarification on this and did get a response which detailed how you could buy life crystals (oddly no word on weapons or skills)

 That’s right you can buy life crystals (which allow you to instantly revive rather than restore from a checkpoint) in the new raid mode. Each day you can earn free blue life crystals which do the same thing however if you run out you can buy red left crystals to top this up (the game prioritises the free crystals being used first).

 I don’t know where to start, I really don’t with this one. So lets start with the system. It’s pretty clear that Capcom is copying a mobile app style system here. People playing a bit every day and paying for more play time in the raid mode, sounds all very mobile game doesn’t it ? It’s designing a system to maximise profit out of the title and to prologue the titles play life and help prevent it being traded in.

Now this is the point I’ll say I’ll give Capcom some credit. They at least have had the decency not to charge full price for this game pricing it at what I’d consider a budget game release price of £20 here in the UK (for all episodes) or £30 if you want all the DLC too.

 Now it remains to be seen if all the DLC is going to be day 1 DLC and having been content cut from the game (but at £30 that is less than many new games so for the other content I’m kind of less inclined to be angry).

 The game is also going to see an episodic release. I’m assuming you’ll be able to buy the episodes individually and this isn’t simply buy the full game and then wait as episodes are slowly released, you know like an early access style title and not like most other episodic games do.

 On one hand I look at the game as almost a testament to consumer choice you can buy episodes, you can chose what to get and how much and the full price game is cheaper than many AAA games but those microtransactions. Something about that idea just rubs me up the wrong way even if it’s not a full priced title. I like the idea of Microtransactions despite what it might look like to many based on a couple of my previous blogs here but in this case the idea is sending shivers down my spine for all the wrong reason a for a horror game. Don’t get me wrong I can appreciate a cheaper gaming experience and the idea of microtransactions being the substitute but with certain methods of implementing microtransaction I really do question if it will lead to a lesser experience.

 With Assassins Creed Unity adding microtransactions to single player and Dead space 3 having the same at least Capcom had the respect for consumers to not charge full price this time and also no pre-order bonus so that’s a plus.

 

Who'd have thought we'd all look back fondly on the days when Horse armour was the most ridiculous we thought gaming would go.

 

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TheKodu
10:06 PM on 01.25.2015

So APB was a game a long time ago I had a lot of interest in. I got into the Beta and played a bit many years ago. The big problem was my laptop isn’t really the most powerful and as such the game handled fairly badly. Then APB died as Realtime Worlds went under and the project was taken over and became APB reloaded, a free to play game.

 

Originally APB had planned to be sort of a subscription based MMO style game but weird stuff happened such that you didn’t buy a subscription but time cards or something. Anyway because of this and Realtime Worlds going broke APB never made it onto the Xbox 360 as it was originally planned. I did eventually go in and play it a bit on PC and it wasn’t bad, it was quite good actually. I mean my computer still couldn’t handle it too well but I had fun and put in some time in the game. I did enjoy my time but my computer was really what held be back from really loving the game.

 

Now with it coming to consoles. I’m actually excited again for the game. What I can best describe the game as is everything GTA online is but way better. The big difference is that you can make a choice from the start as to which side you’re on. Unlike GTA online, APB lets you play as the law enforcement.

 The missions themselves are generated in the open world itself and not placing done by moving you to a separate lobby. As such it means you can have very interesting things happen. For example if the police forces are destroying one of the gangs the gang can phone for back up, this puts out a call to other gang members in the area allowing them to be pulled into the mission. When this happens or if the police are outgunned they too can call for backup and bring in more law enforcement into a mission. You’d think this would be a simple small thing but what can start out as a simple drugs bust could quickly turn into a server wide war as more and more people get pulled into the mission as people call for backup.


What APB got right and I still feel GTA Online got wrong was how fluid and open the world feels in terms of slipping in and out of missions. As the law enforcement you can have the scanners open for crimes in progress or if you don’t feel like responding to regular alerts you can drive round and try to prevent crimes. The interesting feature being in APB Reloaded that if you see a criminal committing a crime you can call it in and engage and take action. See a criminal jacking a car you can chase them down. See a criminal ram raiding a store, radio it in and stop them being able to offload their haul. Heck you can even work crime clean up crew as any stolen vehicles need taking back to the impound lot to wait to be claimed by their real owners.

Do well, play lots of missions and you'll get a name for yourself on that server that day. What this means is you become a target. Criminals become a target for other criminals and enforcers ans top enforcers have a nice bounty placed on them by the crimelords so you'll have to trust your allies and hope you can survive.

 

APB reloaded even got round the big problem of lack of people willing to play the police compared to the criminals. Not all crime events end up with the police knowing about it and as such some missions pitted the two main crime gangs against one another.

 

Having played the game the shooting works well enough and there is some difference between the law enforcement and criminal sides with Law Enforcement being allowed to use non lethal weapons. As this is a game most mission are based round achieving a certain task while the opposition tries to prevent it and as you’d expect people can respawn. The game offers an unusual balance as non lethal weapons are weaker but the payoff being nearly doubling the enemies respawn time if the enforcers can pull off an arrest.

 

In terms of the free to play style of the game there’s not a huge amount locked off. You can pay to get boosts, pay to permanently unlock weapons and get certain cosmetic weapon mods (such as green neon bullets) and some of the cosmetic options such as car chassis mods and layered clothing decals. As a free to play person you don’t buy weapons outright you rent them using in game cash but it’s not too hard to get the weapon you want and cover the costs with a few missions. I used to regularly have about 3 rented fairly high end weapons out at a time and still didn’t feel too pressured. Oh and as you’d expect you can buy more character slots etc.

 

When  you’re finally got bored of playing cops and robbers you could retire to the social district with shops, marketplace access and of course your faction clubs with both public and faction members only lounges to let you relax and socialise or you could upload your own music (no copyrighted stuff) and have the club DJs give your work a play. Or you could go into the design suite and make some clothing styles or vehicle designs or even play about in the music creator in game. Quite how much of the customisation will come to the Ps4 version is yet to be seen though.

 So yeh Gimme dat APB Reloaded

 

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So I wanted to do a blog on a game, I really did I wanted to take a break from insanity and the 5+ more insane blogs round these kind of ideologies and complaints that have arisen in the past 6 months seemingly.

 Then something comes along like this and well I can’t I just can’t let it go by without calling out the bullshit. At the indiecade expo there’s now a talk planned about changing the “toxic” lets play culture. something like that comes along and I have to cry.

  

Lets Plays. A culture where you can buy recording software and as long as your computer isn’t shit you can record footage and commentate over it then uploaded it to share on say youtube. This would be as entry level as it comes except with the latest generation of consoles there’s a button that will allow you to record using the console itself and no extra kit.

 

I’ve been video editing on a 5 year old mid range laptop (not even a gaming laptop) you can do it with such basic software and it’s such a low entry requirement that quite literally anyone can realistically do it if your computer is up to scratch (mine not being I do 3D animation stuff which takes forever to render).

Apparently for some though Lets plays are not inclusive enough. You know something anyone can actually do and doesn’t require any huge amount of knowledge or skill. Apparently it’s now Toxic and exclusionary...........

 

The article I linked to previously cites Lets Players like Achivement Hunter and PewdiePie as examples of some perceived exclusion and states how Lets plays need to be a safe space........ What ?

 I mean seriously I have no clue what’s going on now with the Shock Jocs, I’m starting to think people are losing their minds or just not doing any kind of real research. They’re simply claiming lets plays exclude women......... lets totally forget Dodger, Hanna and Kim from the Yogscast, Lindsey and Lindsey 2 part of achievement hunter, Ashley Burch and even Felicia Day have done or been part of Lets Plays. Let’s forget just how many Twitch streamers are female. No apparently there are no women in the lets play community.



At what point does this stupidity end or is it going to keep going till we’re trying to sticky tape cotton wool to everything to make the world “A safe space” ?

 

Can someone anyone explain this to me as I learned the basics of video editing and techniques much the same way anyone else can and probably will by looking it up, it’s not some great exclusionary thing now. Also since when did Lets Plays need to be a safe space ? shouldn’t they like everything else provide a variety to fit a variety of audiences be it the fairly safe style of some lets players out there (sorry I’m not 8 and Swearing doesn’t offend me so I can’t name them as I don’t watch them but I’m sure they exist) or the rather weird smut filled productions of Hat Films. 

 

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TheKodu
5:36 PM on 01.21.2015

So um guys there’s no easy way to say this but I think we need to talk about Double fine. They’ve done a lot of good stuff that I’ve enjoyed but recently, well I’m getting more than a little concerned. First we had Broken Age going over budget and releasing on Early access to finish it. Now nearly a year on it’s still not finished and if reports are true it won’t be until Q2 2015 oh and let’s not mention they also dropped the early access tag to try and pull in more unsuspecting people or those not aware they haven’t fully finished making the game yet.

Next we have the Spacebase DF-9 issue a game which was put in early access with a number of claims about what was coming and then came out of Early Access into 1.0 and the developers working on it said that was it they were done they were getting no more money to work on it and those features that were promised in early access ? They’re not coming but maybe someone in the community could mod the missing features in. See Totalbiscuits video for more on that

 

This is with Massive Chalice still in Early access too (which I’m hearing is OK) but who knows when that will be done.

 Meanwhile Double fine has also been working on that Grim Fandango update and as it turns out were working on other projects to.

We had Hack and Slash release to middling reviews.

 

 

  

What made me think we needed to talk about this though was two things. Firstly Costume Quest 2 having pre-order DLC content, you know like those other scummy AAA games all like to do. I mean really while I hear it's quite good but that pre-purchase pack just really annoyed me

 

 What really hit home though that maybe we need to talk about what the hell is going on with Double Fine was the Day of Devs. A party from 4pm to 11pm hosted by Double Fine for indie developers with DJ Fishy all livestreamed.

  

Now in the past I’ve stood up for Phil Fish, I will say since then he has shown himself to be a little nuts with some of his comments but this isn’t about him. You see not long after the Day of Devs Double fine then ended up firing a number of staff. I think the words here are “What the hell Double Fine ? You have a huge party then fire 12 people not long after”. This is company whom before I saw as a good company. I watched the Livestream where Tim Schafer found out Brutal Legend was broken on PC and said “We’re going to fix this now, and we’re staying till it’s fixed” it seemed Tim Schafer really did care for his fans but in the past year or so having chosen to look into becoming a publisher themselves. Double Fine would seem to have been competing with EA for shittiest company of the year.They could have won too if Ubisoft hadn’t decided to eat 15 vindaloos so it could drop a big steaming one onto gamers.

 

I mean it’s entirely possible that Double Fine just took on way too much at once but it’s truly shocking to watch them drop the ball like this recently .

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Warning the following post contain depictions of sexual assault and rape that readers of a sane mind will find disturbing or distasteful.

So with Hotline Miami 2 being banned from sale in Australia because of “implied Rape” there are calls for a discussion. For those who want to see what got the game banned then here is the scene it plays from the start to about 1:31

           


So yes an independent developer Brianna Wu is saying that maybe it’s time to have a discussion upon the use of certain images being used in video games.

So here we go one of those tough discussions.

In short I have argued this point before multiple times and it looks like I’m arguing once again that Video Games need to be Allowed to grow up. I’m not joking. As an artistic medium claiming “Oh well you can’t do that or discuss those things” is kind of censoring the idea of artistic freedom. What makes games a special case now ? What makes games somehow not allowed to tackle these things when film does ?

                 

Yes I really did just post a scene from a film showing rape. That scene itself is from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the film itself contains scenes more disturbing than this. It is a plot point and Lisbeth Salander takes her own form of revenge and takes back control in her own way from these incidents. It is not designed to make such scenes easy to watch or in any way enjoyable. They are however part of the story and compel the viewer to root for Lisbeth to take revenge. It creates a Villain we as the viewer are not sympathetic with and shows them as a truly horrific person. Infact Rape has been depicted in video games already and yet no-one is calling for Fear 2 to be banned from sale.

              


Heck you could look at almost any TV Soap and even here in the UK where soaps are shown at 6 -8pm at night you’ll still find rape being featured in some stories at some point in the year (Some do these stories in later night episodes which happen sometimes too).Almost all other media (comic books arguably still have some issues with this) rape being used isn’t seen as some forbidden thing.

Now let me lay this out clearly before anyone misrepresents what I’m saying. Rape is wrong. Rape is horrific. Rape is one of the worst things you can do to another human being. Ok is that clear enough ? Ok I can carry on then.

So the question then becomes why would people want such a thing roped off ? Why would people not want games to be able to show some of the darkness in humanity ? Well this can be broken down into two main camps opposing it. The first camp being those slightly misguided people who believe that monkey see monkey do, or to put it a better way people will become rapists because they see rape depicted in media. Now the fact rape has been depicted for many years in media and it’s still considered to have shock value suggests that people are not becoming desensitised to rape nor is it being normalised. The idea that viewing media alone will cause people to undertake these actions has been showed in almost every peer reviewed study going to be false. The idea of subliminally implanting messages to do such acts has been shown also to be false. For these claims to be true people would have to be experiencing said media in a vacuum without society or any other influences and also have no Schema (mental through patterns) relating to the idea of rape.


The second camp is what I’d refer to as a protectionist camp. This group has a far more sane rationale behind it. The simple rationale is to protect people from being triggered. Now before I go on I must make the distinction here, triggered as a word has had multiple meanings come about recently. Triggered in its intended sense means to bring to the surface repressed or traumatic memories of past events and psychological trauma, it’s based on actual psychological concept and does require working through and can take a long time to be dealt with if it ever truly is dealt with. For some people the trauma is so bad that dealing with it isn’t possible and as such they have to try to avoid anything that can stimulate it. Being triggered in the traditional sense can best be described as a former solider with PTSD hearing a loud bag and immediately having flashbacks. What the term triggered has been adopted by many *cough* on Tumblr *cough* to mean is very different, quite why it’s been adopted I can only speculate that they want to appear more interesting somehow by claiming they’re deeply troubled people. What Triggered has come to mean and be used by many is as a replacement for “I don’t like this” or “I’m offended” because “You’re triggering me” brings up the thought and idea that people are causing actual psychological trauma and harm.

So where the protectionist angle comes in is the concern that people who have suffered and do experience psychological trauma will be triggered by playing these games. This is why I said it is a far more sane rationale behind it. The problem however is much the same as with debates surrounding violent incident relating the media.

                 

TLDW: the argument comes down to protecting people at the expense of art as art is such an unimportant thing when compared to the damage such things could do that why not simply ban them anyway just to be on the safe side.

The argument against this becomes that people can simply avoid said media or make sure if they do have such issues they read up in case said media could cause a reaction in the. It’s putting responsibility for a person’s own well being with them. Now certain groups on Tumblr who have adopted the term being triggered to mean they don’t like something have a problem with this approach as to them it’s not only offensive to them if they view it but they’re offended by its mere existence and despite the fact they won’t be exposed to it they still see it as a problem and try to throw in with the first camps claims. For some reason some people believe the world is their stage and should be changed to fit their will rather than allow a diverse range of things to be presented. See for example the the call to bann GTA V from sale by retailers in Australia which also had campaigns start for Canada and other coutries to.

Now I’m going to tell you a little bit about my past. When I was younger I got chased round a park by a rather large dog which attempted to take a bite out of me. It didn’t but from that day onwards I’ve always had somewhat of a phobia of dogs. That is until a few years ago. What changed a few years ago was my then girlfriend asked me to go to a show with her. The show was Crufts as she was a huge animal lover and loved dogs. I with a phobia of dogs went to the UKs largest dog show. Yes I am slightly insane but hey I’m not petrified of dogs anymore. My point here being that just because I myself had a problem with dogs I was never against Crufts existing. Up until I went there with someone I’d managed to just avoid it and hey what’s life if you don’t face your fear every now and again.

I can understand why people would want to protect those who had been through traumatic events (and yes I know me being nearly bitten by a dog is no-where near on a level with what many go through ok) however it’s not a simple case of banning a single piece of media. Unless you’re prepared to push to ban all media that could in any way trigger them then the chance still exist.

I can understand the desire of people to want to protect those who have suffered trauma but at some point you have to let grown adults take some of the responsibility for their own protection and allow them to make their own choices. The World at large cannot be responsible for protecting everyone from everything. The world is not a utopia and you can’t try to hide all the darkness in the world. What you could say it truly comes down to is what you believe media should be: A utopian vision guiding light for society or a black mirror reflecting society and its flaws ? I think however that’s a blog for another time.

In the end do I believe Hotline Miami 2 should be banned ? No I don’t. I do however understand where some of the more sane calls for the ban are coming from. However I don’t believe a ban is the right course of action. What I do support is people being better informed as consumers and as with most products researching them first and be aware of what you’re buying into.

 

 

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So I finished a stretch of blogs on gamings still ongoing controversey and now it's time to do what I did last time people asked for me to give them a break from it. So enjoy this one blog thats totally not video game related or related to msot controverseies and only has a hint of socio politics mentioned.

Ok so over the holidays I had access to an Amazon Prime free trial which meant I could legally watch certain US shows and not airing here at present in the UK. Also I have a feeling some here might like to hear about DCs latest comic book TV series attempt.

 The one show I wanted to see and use Prime for was Constantine. I mean a DC character who’s entire comic series tackles some pretty gruesome things (if my Background reading is right at least). Now let me just preface this by saying I have not read the comic books and my first exposure to Constantine was the Keanu Reaves film so can I say how much more accurate the TV series is to the comics than the film ? Hell no.

 

What I can tell you so far is my experience of Constantine based on a vast wealth of experience and time with other shows in the horror genre of TV shows. When I say I’ve watched a lot of these types of shows I really mean it. I’ve seen All of Supernatural (not started the latest series yet though). A good chunk of Buffy (I came in just after Faith became a Slayer I think) and more obscure shows like Hex (still need to see series 2), Bedlam and a BBC show called Strange which is so obscure you can’t even buy it on DVD. So how does Constantine stack up ? Well pretty poorly actually. For a series being made by Warner Brothers the effects vary wildly from almost impressive to looking like they were taken a low budget indie horror film or the 1960’s version of Jason and the Argonauts. Even compared to the first season of Supernatural and most other shows the effects don’t average out to be on par. That’s not to say the odd effect isn’t amazing but it seems to be a case of the odd effect having been where most of the budget was spent leaving the rest lacking.

 

The episodes and stories themselves are inconsistent in quality  with only certain stories really being enjoyable viewing, and some of the worst episodes having M Night Shyamalan level twist ending parts. Most such twists being explained by either an episode specific McGuffin or the omni present answer “The rising Darkness did it”.

 

I’m really not sure who the series was aimed at as it does a rather poor job on telling the viewer about characters and introducing them and yet at the same time from my own research I’m not sure how fans of the comic would react to Papa Midnight being reduced to a power mad mafia gangster & borderline conman rather than the owner of the Midnight club and someone who’s allegiance is often left slightly ambiguous. Changes to other characters to such as Chas Chandler being turned from a cab driver into the indestructible man might have a few avoid comic fans scratching their heads.

 

For every good moment, in Constantine, the show produces 5 terrible ones where plot holes and poor writing shine through or a McGuffin ends up being used somehow.

 

Oh and I probably should mention that as Warner Brothers previously stated there are no stories that mention Constantine being bisexual. In fact only 1 episodes shows him getting out of bed with anyone and 1 other mentions in passing a previous relationship. Though I’d say if you only cared for a series having a character of a non hetronormative orientation you’d be better off watching Hex which also does manage to have a good story along with its lesbian ghost.  

 

Constantine just doesn’t feel like it’s for anyone be they fans or newcomers really. If you want a paranormal series that is worth trying I’d suggest The Dresden Files which takes a series best described as pulp fiction by the Michael Bay of writers (Hey sometimes people want to not think while reading too) and actually does more with it and for the most part makes changes which seem to work better (other than the odd episode where it tries to tell the stories from the books). Watching Constantine it really did seem like the studio didn’t want to take any risks and while the series is a 15 rating here in the UK I’m still scratching my head to figure out how other than a bit of foul language. The Show just plays itself too safe and suffers terribly for it.

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