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TheKodu's blog

Can I have some more: Primal
9:34 PM on 03.26.2015
Reading books is too hard
11:18 AM on 03.25.2015
Black Sails is Michael Bay's apology.
8:52 AM on 03.21.2015
Can I have some more: Gungrave
8:50 PM on 03.17.2015
Why I'm glad I went PS4
12:14 AM on 03.08.2015
previously got in on the act saying controllers themselves are keeping people from playing games. I mean the absurdity of a medium where you have to I dunno recognise and learn something to read a book play a game.

                                             

Your Smart Phone is not the bright future of video gaming
9:35 PM on 02.27.2015





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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
1 hour ago - 9:34 PM on 03.26.2015

Ok this one I want to see become a remake or reboot or just something for a very specific reason. I never finished it because the controls were arse. It felt very much like resident evil Tank controls and that just killed the game for more plain and simple. So you might be thinking why on earth would I want this remade?

 It's quite simple really. The concept, setting characters and ideas behind the game are just stunning. You play Jennifer Tate 21 years old and in search of her boyfriend whom was kidnapped by a demon. Sounds like a very simple story as you play Jen traversing the 4 demonic dimensions. The Twist being that Jen herself may not truly be of earth and learns she can take on the forms of the 4 main demonic races. Suddenly you have less Buffy and more of it's own unique thing as Jen transforms into demonic forms and really take on the occupants of the realms on head on.

 

With Bloodborne recently released as a Playstation exclusive and the near constant calls for strong female protagonists this is a game that time seemingly forgot and it's owned by Sony. It would be so easy to reboot this and fix the problems it had and just watch as the series explodes. I mean the world alone in the games, the idea of 4 demonic realms etc is ripe to explore and if the remake does well there's a clear opportunity to expand the scope and make it into more of a franchise than a single outing. Hell the game could even go further into elements of the Lovecraft Mythos at some point if it became a franchise. This is quite a dark game from a time when games really weren't being that dark and with modern gaming and standards this could really be made into a game for adults able to be dark and brutal.

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TheKodu
11:18 AM on 03.25.2015

So there's been a lot of sentiment going round that having to actually learn to read books is too hard. I mean this is a form of entertainment where it can literally take people years to be competent and fluent in being able to read. Without the ability to read however the medium really does nothing for a person. They cannot appreciate the product. Asking people to dedicate so much time for something that to many is a hobby is astounding in this world.

Just think about it. Reading as a hobby is highly exclusionary too in its present state. If you're blind or partially sighted most of this joy can be lost to you from conventional books. It's time readers of the world to make a change. We should force everyone to abandon this toxic ink based system of oppressions that promotes ableism. Everyone should be forced to learn and read books only in braille. It's ok Harry Potter has been converted into braille too.

                                     

Oh, that's not the entire series all those files etc are the equivalent of a single Harry Potter Book when combined. So I implore you fellow readers, help to stop the oppressive litriarchy by petitioning your local libraries to stop stocking the toxic and exclusionary print books. After all you wouldn't want people to feel excluded and help promote such an exclusionary culture right ?

 

 

 

 

                    

And if anyone hadn't realised this was me taking the piss then I'd feel slightly concerned. I decided to write this in response to EA suggesting their games were too hard for people to learn and many others suggesting games were too hard. I mean you have to learn how to hold and use a controller. It's not like people have managed to do that successfully in other forms of media for years.

                                      

Ok maybe a bad example and some people still struggle to program their VCR (or whatever the modern version of one people use is). The recent pushes for inclusion of everyone in video gaming while noble to an extent seems to be getting slightly misguided and extreme now. The push has been to claim games can seemingly only be inclusive if they also cater to peoples personal politics and socio political beliefs, the big problem with that is there are so many social and political beliefs out there many at odds with others than trying to cater to everyone is going to be impossible. If people feel excluded from a game due to it not fitting their politics perfectly then so fucking what, it's not the games fault for not bending over backwards. Here's a radical idea, maybe you're not the target audience for the game? If it offends you that a game is allowed to not appeal specifically to your politics then maybe it's worth asking yourself why? Why can't you accept a game with different standards and ideas.

You want to know the most inclusive game so far on the market?

                 


Yeh it's Flappy Bird and even then it could impact those with a phobia of birds. Or those who are blind. Unfortunately it's not possible to include everyone especially those unwilling to make sacrifices or compromises themselves. Art can and should be allowed to offend you and while people will also claim "But it's consumer product so I the consumer am always right and it should always appeal to me and whatever I want" I say fuck you, you whiny smeghead, you can criticise the product and see if people find the criticism to be a valid one when you explain it but it's extremely entitled to call for people to listen and believe and not ask for you to actually validate your reasoning.

              

The idea that games are somehow too hard to learn is almost a joke considering two of the most popular E-sports games at present are League of Legends and Dota 2. Games which are considered to have a 100 hour period where you're still learning the basics. Heck 1,000 hours is still considered to be learning the games if you've not played a Moba before. The idea that all games need to be simplified down to the level of say Gone Home to appeal to people then the question becomes what next? To go back to the reading example all books aren't Spot the Dog. So why should all games be asked to remove any and all complexity or be called exclusionary I mean are we going to start claiming sports are exclusionary because people aren't all super great at them all automatically too? If you want to define something as exclusionary simply because not every single person is catered to then there is no such thing as an inclusive product because somehow, some way someone will be excluded.

Just to be clear this isn't me arguing against easy to make changes which can help inclusivity but it's me pointing out that there is a limit to how far inclusivity can reasonably go. As for the claims about diversity. Diversity should be a macro scale thing, asking for each game to try and make some quota is insane.

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Black Sails is an Amazon original series following the exploits of the inhabitants of a small Island living outside of the control of states and standard governments. The Island is run by the governor Guthrie the Guthrie trading corporation essentially a fencing network used by pirates to shift their plunder. While Governor Guthrie mostly stays out of it the day to day running is done by his daughter Elanor who is mostly responsible for building up the islands town and facilities. Disputes between captains and the threat of a possible approaching English fleet are just some of the problems on the Island. With a cast of almost entirely relatively unknown directed by Michael Bay it sounds like a wasted concept. It's not and hopefully I can explain why it's worth at least a look at it.

Michael Bay........... it's hard to really say just how much Ire there is towards him for the abomination he turned transformers into in the end.

I think that picture goes a long way to saying it though. So honestly I expected Black Sails to be pretty terrible. However what I found is somehow the restrictions of the setting somehow roped in the master of explosion into making something actually worth watching. Somehow Black Sails lets Bay showcase that he has some actual skill under all those explosions able to film a variety of other scenes and tones from Romance to scenes on intrigue.

Black Sails manages to take the pirate and high seas adventure genre and take it beyond Jack Sparrow into something that can best be described as Game Of Thrones on the high seas.Love, agendas, Betrayals and power struggles are a regular part of the Black Sails world as the idea of honour among thieves is put to the test against those trying to make big scores to avoid the "Civilised" society that would see them dead. Of course this is the age of pirates so expect you can expect plenty of sex and violence too as is befitting such a series.

                                                     

Ah!!!! a wild social justice warrior. Don't worry it would be hard for all but the most determined oversensitive Ideologue to find much to object to. From its diverse to diverse characters Black Sails really does show you can do diversity without preaching about it with its strong female characters like Anne "Cuthroat" Bonnie (referred to as the most dangerous pirate to cross on the island) and the bisexual Elanor Guthrie running the town.

The true genius of Black Sails is managing to take a way of life seen as for the brutal and uncivilised and shine new light on it. Showing those who essentially live on murdering and theft as sympathetic characters for whom being a pirate is just a job to maintain their way of life. The series poses the question who really are the uncivilised? Those who try to force their will and rule onto others or those who merely wish to live their lives and not have people interfering. Black Sails shows pirates in a whole new light rather than rum soaked cutthroats it portrays them as an organised band with their own rules and society a place so civilised injury pay is a thing.

So with Season 2 out soon to buy and Season 1 on Amazon (you don't need prime you can buy an individual episode to test the waters). Honestly if you're looking for a series to try while you wait for Game of Thrones to come back, I'd day give Black Sails a try, if nothing else you know the explosions will look good.

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So I wanted to come up with another article series just so I could talk about some older titles that I really enjoyed and were a bit weird or different. Titles that honestly I'd love to see more of or ideas from them used in future titles.

Gungrave. A £20 budget PS2 game that most people probably haven't heard much about.
What makes Gungrave stand out is just how well it holds up and how different it is. Rather than allowing both being a budget title and being in that awkward PS2 era, where 3D character models still looked very jagged, it managed to create something that holds up even quite well today. The art direction of the game really does make it seem like a comic book has sprung to life using the limitations to its advantage and hiding any problems from the era with it's artwork. In fact the game is so much like an anime or comic book that it was actually made into an anime series. That's right I said anime series based off the game not the other way round. What other small budget PS2 release that had little to no fanfare at release could ever claim to have then had an anime series based upon it.

Gameplay wise Gungrave also does things a little different by being a spectacle shooter, and no not in the Bulletstorm way. The best way I can describe the gunplay in Gungrave is to say it's like playing a cleric from the film Equlibrium. Grave while in combat is extremely animated and stylised really making you feel like a killing machine as you mow down waves of enemies. Rather than feeling like guns the weapons feel like more a extension of the character much like the melee weapons in spectacle fighter games. This is juxtaposed against Grave while out of combat where his movement feels slower and more sluggish more inkeeping with the idea that Grave is a walking dead man, especially as Grave carries with him a large coffin chained to his back.

Warning Video contains flashing images / Strobe like effect.

                   

The game also encourages players to keep the action and mayhem going with the beat system, as you shoot enemies or destructible objects you build up beats, if you fail to keep the chain going then your beats are collected and added to your special meter. In essence beats are your combo multiplier and the higher you get it the more you gain on your special meter.
At any point in the game you can unleash a special attack be it a whirling dance of gunfire good for taking out groups of smaller enemies or firing large highly damaging rockets, good for taking out tougher enemies.

As you progress in the game you learn more about your capabilities as and the cool tricks you can pull off. For example it's possible to melee swing your coffin to hit enemy rockets back at their sender , or at other enemies. Another example being learning how to improve your level score as the game rates both combat abilities, time etc but also how stylishly you did it. That's right Gungrave gives you a combat style rating and to help improve it there's a pose button....... no I'm not joking there's actually a button in game to strike a stylish hero pose, imagine that today with modern consoles capture ability.
Every level almost has its own enemies based round the levels theme and how it fits into the games story. One level might see you fighting street thugs, another has you fighting the police and in yet another you're fighting scientists. It sounds as though this huge enemy variety would be a problem but in reality each settings has enemies with the same kind of traits from foot soldiers to huge hulking tougher units.

 

What truly sets Gungrave apart are the bosses each feeling like a major threat be it due to their mutated forms or in one case the lack of such a form. Rather than feeling like bigger tanker monsters each boss feels refreshingly unique. Part of the unique feeling is generated by allowing you to finish each boss off with a unique special finishing move in true anime style. These finishing moves can vary from turning the coffin into a huge high calibre machine gun or even a back mounted rocket launcher, each played out with its own cutscene sequence showing the impact.

giant fist

^Yes that is one of the bosses and yes it is a giant arm attached to a wheel.

Now I mentioned before Grave is dead and I said it got turned into an anime series, this alludes to the games rather impressive story which is a bit of a twist of the revenge motivation. You are Grave taking down the crime organisation that took everything from you by trying to kill you. As you soon find out though not everything about Grave is quite as you'd think as he may not have just been some unlucky person who go in the way of the local gangsters.

One major thing Gungrave brings to the table which I really think modern games could benefit from is rewarding replaying the game. Not just with better scores but with more stuff. Each time you complete the game you're awarded a set of smash bros esc figures from a level in the game. Each completion gives you more figures to look at one full levels worth at a time. This idea of rewarding the player with in game assets just shows such promise and reward for those who want to look deeper into the game. I mean think about it, the models are already in the game and essentially what is presented is a very stylised character viewer but because of that extra work it makes such a simple thing feel rewarding. Additionally after you first playthrough you unlock cheats and the ability to activate bullet time at will. I can only imagine playing a modern Version of Gungrave and combining modern game capture with slow motion gun fighting.

In the end I'd love to see more Gungrave because it's got what plenty of games seem to miss these days, good simple fun, the same kind of simple fun in the same vein as Dynasty Warriors. A game that honestly wasn't meant to hit it big but did so because it did something different.

Now before someone in the comments says "But what about Gungrave Overdose that was the sequel?" Yes it was and while it's not a bad game it does have its issues with trying to keep some level of sanity. I mean overdose is a game where you can play and ghost who fights using an electric guitar and one of the bosses is all the bosses of Gungrave sewed together into one giant boss monster........... yes really.

 

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TheKodu
12:14 AM on 03.08.2015

So I can't seem to avoid controversy even when I try to avoid it directly, so I thought what's the oldest most controversial video games debate going I can do something on. Well I haven't fired any shots in the present console war so I think it's time to correct that. Oh and this is also remembering I'm not simple someone who only plays on console. I'm am however, someone who does make choices as to which console he wants to own and doesn't generally buy all the consoles simple to get the exclusives. So to all two of the Xbone fans still left, get your pitch forks ready
Also let's get this out the way. This is what will make me buy a Wii U

Or Maybe this

 But Nintendo is weird in that their first party stuff always provides a reason to buy the console eventually.

So I've chosen Sony this generation as my first next gen machine. I was a big Xbox fan last generation but I noticed things turning after the PSN hack incident and Sony vowing to make things up to people as they did with PSN+ and the free games there. This forced Microsoft into playing a game of catch up.

It wasn't initially so much that Sony won me as a customer as Microsoft lost me as one through the decisions it made. The idea of an always online console and my previously stated dislike for Kinect were two of the bigger factors. Add to that the general discontent from indie developers and incidents where not once but twice Microsoft was significantly late on payments. Even suggestions from slightly better known indie developers that Microsoft was going downhill. With their rather bizarre release parity rules for indie developers Microsoft seemed intent on shooting themselves in the foot.

So having got a PS4 I'm actually rather glad I got it, as it's really the little touches I appreciate for example:

Being able to use a stereo headset without having to pay the console maker $30 to do so.

For those who didn't know Microsoft actually made that product and it's required to use stereo headsets on the Xbox One. That's right you have to pay extra to be able to use a stereo headset, mean while the PS4 is letting me plug even headsets designed for use with mobile phones in.

Voice commands without needing an NSA spy camera Kinect to do it.

Remember how people were constantly talking about how Kinect and the software / firmware being what allowed the Xbox one to interpret speech ? Well I can do similar things on the Ps4 and I'm doing it with a cheap headset and nothing else. You know what else though, the console UI hasn't been designed to be better with Kinect on PS4 meaning I can navigate the thing far easier.

No shitty release parity system.

This one was a big one for me. The release parity system is one of the biggest annoying hurdles on the Xbox one for indie developers. The parity system means that if you want to release a game on the Xbone it has to release on the Xbone either first or at the same time as any other platform including PC. What this means is indie developers have to put in more work to make sure they have a console version being released either first or at the same time as any other platform. Oh and this is with Microsoft getting rid of the XNA system and introducing a baffling web for developers to climb through.

Getting games at the start of the month

One of the big things that has always annoyed me with Games with Gold is how it works. One title comes in at the start of the month and the next replaces it on the 15th of each month. With PSN the games are all at once from the 5th of each month and on top of that all the titles are there for the full month. This means there's less time to miss out on the games. Oh and the PSN+ free games often include cross buy games meaning on PS4 I get 3 different games each month.

While the PSN+ games aren't all full release boxed titles I have to say they're often titles I've either not got on console but do have on PC or other platforms meaning I now get the console version of a game. Or in many cases get a game or two I don't own but is actually good.

 Features on Both consoles which I'm glad have finally made it to consoles

Redirecting Audio to your headset.
Of all the features to become a thing this one is truly something I've been waiting on. There have always been ways to do this with more expensive headsets or you can plug into the TV directly however with the PS4 and Xbone they've finally integrated a feature present in a only a couple of last gen games.

That's right those games last gen let you redirect some of the audio into the headset to help with immersion. Now you can direct that audio through the controller Headphone jack to your headset. This is feature that's so unknown by people it seems almost criminal.

Power mode settings.

This is one I really like and I'm glad has made it. On the Xbone you can adjust the power settings etc. On the PS4 you can similarly customise the power settings allowing the console in sleep mode to download game updates or digital downloads. Also you can customise if the USB ports are powered to allow you to charge items such as controllers from them.

In the end I'm glad I got the PS4, the more powerful of the consoles out there. A platform allowing more games to release onto it and not trying to constantly shaft consumers and developers alike. An actual games console not something trying to be more about TV and apps than games. In this console war, in the end we know there can only be one true winner.

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So Venture beat released a new piece recently about how the console and "core" gaming industry needs to be destroyed for the good of gaming, how core gaming things like consoles are exclusionary and keeping people out of the medium. Even Polygon previously got in on the act saying controllers themselves are keeping people from playing games. I mean the absurdity of a medium where you have to I dunno recognise and learn something to read a book play a game.

                                             

 Ok Ok voice of the reader I'm not going to do this as a piece bashing stupidity in the SJWs again yet. I'm actually going to address a argument that keeps being brought up recently. The idea that smartphones and tablets will replace "core" gaming.

 

Did TV kill the movies ?

 

Serious question did TV kill the movies ?

 

What do you mean it didn't do it? Well TV and film are very similar you can even play films on the TV yet films haven't died out. People still go to the cinema, people still sit their feet stuck to the floor by some unknown substance in a dark room with loads of strangers with overpriced cinema food.

 Ok then do digital cameras still exist ?

 

No really do digital cameras still exist?

 

Well they shouldn't you know you have to learn all that stuff to work them and I mean we've all got cameras on our Smartphones and tablets so why on earth should digital cameras still exist?

 The answer is quite simple. Hardware designed for a specific purpose allows it to excel in that area. It's the reason that PC gaming requires specialised hardware to do it. It's the reason consoles exist to allow access to higher end games without needing to own a PC, it's accessibility plain and simple. The idea that a console let alone a gaming PC is going to be a thing of the past replaced by smartphones and tablets is plainly absurd so let's look into it a bit.

 

Battery Life

                                               

I can manage an hour maybe two out of my tablet if I play Evolve Hunters Quest on it. That's one of the more high end games I've played on a tablet in terms of graphics (and requiring an internet connection). The idea that tablet devices will be able to compete with units drawing on mains power is laughable with modern battery technology. I can't get my smartphone to last a day on standby and people are suggesting they will be the device of choice for Assassins Creed 15 or whatever number we're on in a few years. There are polymer / hydrogen fuel cells batteries being looked at for the future but with even the present level of gaming most smartphones / tablet batteries would die before the introduction is out.

To play higher end games the only way it will work is if the tablet is plugged into the mains which means a nice long mains cord on them running across the room.

 

 

The Heat

 This is a big problem with many devices and I can attest my Galaxy 3 tab gets pretty toasty playing Evolve Hunter's quest. One of the big reason companies suggest using laptop coolers etc is the heat given off by the devices. I mean have people so easily forgotten the red light of death on the 360 ?

                     

Now imagine it's not a 360 with a cooling system but a small slim tablet with next to no cooling system at all on it and that amount of heat from the work being done by the system. The system would be frying itself trying to run things and compute them itself.

  

The controller

 This is seemingly something people have been rallying against for a while. The claims that video game controllers and having to learn to use them is the problem remember what we've had so far, we've had the Wii, the PS Move and the NSA spy camera Kinect. The Wii was a success but can we really call the Kinect or Move such a huge success in terms of revolutionising gaming.

                

I have a touch screen laptop and I still use a mouse rather than the touch screen controls. What control methods give you is context sensitive actions and with a tablet you have to find methods to implement controls for the game. There's a reason most mobile and tablet games go for simplicity and that's because with the control options there's not a lot of complexity you can do without getting very creative with the game or adding virtual buttons onto the thing.

 

 

The Screen

 There's two problems with the tablet / phone screen:

 Firstly it's small so all that fine texture work and effort is going to waste as you can't see the difference too well on such a small device.

 Secondly as part of the control method you'll be covering it with your hands thus missing some of the action and requiring designers to work round the idea of losing a lot of screen space.

 The only way to get round this would either be having to plug it into a second screen. So that's another wire coming off it meaning you've now got the HDMI and power leads coming off this device and still using it as the controller.

  

The marketplace and requirements of the user

 This is a big one and it's one f the main problems. Consoles and tablet / smartphone games fill different functions and have very different designs. console gaming allows a longer more in depth story to be told while mobile and tablet gaming are designed round being able to play in short bursts if a few free minutes. Mobile games are designed so you can play a quick 5 minute burst and them stop having achieved something in each short spell. It's the difference between a 5 minute youtube video and watching a full film.

Are all games going to be reduced down to some super simplified thing with no depth designed round 5 minutes / short periods of play , games not able to use narrative build up techniques as so well. Or is there going to be some weird kind of two tiered market with long play and shortplay games ?

 That's even without looking at how terrible the market is flooded with games and the number of anti-consumer practices. The Mobile market is a toxic place for consumers and developers rife with exploitative micro transactions and popular games constantly cloned and resold. The Mobile market is polluted with so much junk It's very hard to find much of worth residing there.

                  

 

I highly doubt that gaming's future will come in the form of phones / tablets even though they are producing enough revenue to able to get advertising time during the Superbowl.

 

Tablets might play a part in future console maybe with some kind of integration or connection to them. In terms of tablets and mobile phones replacing the need for core gaming hardware though it's plainly absurd such as claiming that cinemas should be shut down because you can watch films on your smartphone. As video gaming grows and technology pushes forwards the technology used to make gaming systems will also move forward no doubt and the requirements for more modern games will simply grow meaning that tablet devices won't stand a huge chance of overtaking the console technology itself. The only part of gaming that tablets pose any real threat to is portable gaming with devices such as the 3DS and Vita and even then due to their controls and being dedicated gaming systems they are still holding on in there. More likely is we'll see the rise of micro PCs like the suggested Steam Box and other devices coming out.

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