Monday, December 30, 2013

Steam Sale Nightmare.

So another year comes to an end and as a gamer this occasion is marked for me by the annual Steam Winter sale.

I love and hate any Steam sale because it means I'm going to be agonizing over the sheer number of games that I suddenly want in my game library. Even titles I normally wouldn't give a shit about become "must haves" just because they have suddenly become cheaper.

One thing that sort of throttles my impulsiveness is the fact that I don't own a credit card. So I have to email sales and wanted games to my friends who then buy it for and I either pay them later or more often then not pay them up front.

For the current Steam sale however I managed to put $50 USD into my Steam Wallet so I could buy the games I want without being a pain the ass to my friends. Other wise I'm calling people up early in the morning begging them to buy me something before the timer runs out. Regardless of it being an eight hour timer or twenty four hours, if a game I want goes on sales my fingers burn till I own it. But with the $50 USD limitation I have to be very careful about how I spend my money as my friends had allocated their own credit funds for the games they wanted.

So I had two rules which governed my buying decisions.

1. Only buy games that I would actually download and play. Not to buy anything just for "keep sake"

2. If I had to watch a review to convince myself of a purchase then I was better off not buying it.

This generally worked alright for me though there is still about five days left on the sale and I have about $16USD left in my wallet. Those five days of sales mean that there are about 45 daily deals, 45 flash sales and 15 community choice sales left. Now some of these will be repeats but still that is a lot of games.

I have 40 game son my wishlist. I use this list to determine if the purchase of a particular game is going to set me back any. For example if if see a game I want; I can ask myself "What would I rather spend on?" Then going through my wishlist I can see what else might be a potential buy worth holding out for. There are some games on the list like Injustice: Gods among us and Batman: Arkham Origins that will not be a reasonable Steam buy. Even at a fair reduction these games will still cost me about $40 to $60 Fijian. This would be sweet if these were the only games I bought but doing so stops me from buy more games at a cheaper price. One might argue that it could be quantity over quality that I'm striving for but a lot of the games that I have bought for less than $5 USD have already given me hours of enjoyment.

The first thing I bought was "Risk of Rain." This was a title that I had wanted for a while but paying full price for it in Fijian dollars just seemed a little bit much for me. I got it for $6.69 USD which was relatively the same price same as paying the normal price in USD ... kinda. Know what I mean?

The purchases that followed were also mostly indie titles. Super house of Dead Ninjas, Spelunky, La-Mulana. I also upgraded my Farcry 3 to the special edition for extra content whcih seemed reasonable and the only AAA title I bought was Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Ultimate edition. While most of these buys were done because they seemed like good games at a good price, Risk of Rain and Castlevania were two titles that I really REALLY wanted.

Last night though I did my first impulsive buy. I got the expansion for Titan Quest; a game that I've had in my library for god knows how long without ever playing it. But last night I also started playing Diablo 3 again and I was hungry for a dungeon crawler. Upon research I found that Titan Quest was very highly regarded and I figured if I was going to get into it... I was going to get into all the way. I broke my second rule.

I'm thankful that I didn't regret my decision but I have to be careful not to do something like that again. I got lucky with Titan Quest, I played it for the first time this morning and what started with just a "quick look" before work ended up with me playing for an hour and being late for work.

So now I have about $16 left.

I have no idea what to do with it. Now even the games I really want are being nit-picked on because I don't want to risk spending the money only to have something really awesome pop up on the final few days. But I also risk missing out on a great deal only to have nothing I want later on. Plus there is a cut off point to the minimum money I should hold onto. I'm sure anything less than $10 USD won't be much of a buy now since I've already bought all the good "Cheap" games.

I'd love to buy things like Hitman Absolution or Dungeons of the Endless. But that would reduce my Steam Wallet to nothing. If anything I tell myself that I'll pick these games up on the last day of the sale as the prices are valid till the 3rd of January.

But then there's things that I would love to own for the sake of the sale. Like the Bioshock collection or even the Legacy of Kain collection. I would actually download those Legacy of Kain games and play them. There's even Shinobi 3 which is a dollar something but I'm afraid to buy it because it might just put me under a game I wanna buy later.

Another part of me has sort of decided to just buy a bunch of DLC stuff and a few old titles on the final day if nothing else pops.

I'm not sure if you can tell from reading this but the Steam sale has been very agonizing for me. While some people wish for world peace and not to be sold as a child solider, I wish I could put in more money into my Steam wallet before the sale ends.

Am I just a greedy video game pig? I think I might be ...

But his is the Steam Sale... and this is my nightmare.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tiny Barbarian DX - For the Gamer in you

"I have zero interest in this game"

That is what one of friends said when he saw the gameplay videos for Tiny Barbarian DX. Which is totally cool because as a gamer I have come to terms with the idea that not every game is for everybody. Some people just don't like awesome things.

So who is Tiny Barbarian DX for?

Let  me take you back a bit. Growing up I never played Zelda and I wasn't crazy about Mario. I had "zero interest" in things like Finally Fantasy or Secret of Mana and Chrono Trigger and the likes of. I played a shit load of Double Dragon and Castlevania. I had a cousin who owned a Sega and I spent hours at his place playing Splatterhouse. That game was a treat for me and it was even more special because I couldn't play it at home. And I played  a lot of Golden Axe and Argus no Senshi (published as Rygar in the west). Now those two games in particular, Tiny Barbarian is for people who loved those two games.

No complex story, no leveling up, nothing but jump and attack with movement. Just raw gameplay, but it was the gameplay that made them shine. So many hours of "just one more try, damn it just one more" as you slice your blade through skull and guts leaving a bloody trail of destruction on your quest. If Zelda is the Lord of the Rings of Video games then Golden Axe was the Chronicles of Conan. And that is the idea of Tiny Barbarian DX.

In fact before the DX version Tiny Barbarian was a free downloadable game loosely based on Robert Howard's classic Conan story "The Frost Giants Daughter"

The new game is an even bigger love letter to Conan. Before you even press start you find yourself at the top of what appears to be a massive tower surrounded by dark clouds and fire. Waves of enemies climb the towers steep walls to get their claws on you as you frantically swing your sword to survive.  Such imagery is iconic of everyone's favorite Cimmerian.

Eventually you are over come...

Then the "Start" menu fades in. This happens every time you load up the game and every time you last a little bit longer. This is the glimpse of the trial by fire that awaits you through out Tiny Barbarian DX. There is no tutorial, no direction; just instinct.

You know this game because you have played it before. Back during the dawn of the NES and SEGA systems when game design made you figure things out by playing for yourself.

This same thought and theory is tested when you fight the games bosses. I read some where once that a true game boss tests you on everything that you have learned up to that point and Tiny Barbarian DX never misses a beat to test whither you've been paying attention or not.

"Was that move you pulled to avoid that trap a fluke? Well lets see if you can do it again just to make sure"

As mentioned the game does nothing to hide it's inspiration not just from old school games but from the adventures of Conan as well. The opening scene sees our Tiny hero tied to a massive tree with vultures ready to pick him dry. This of course is a massive homage to one of the most memorable "Conan moments" as seen in the classic tale "A which shall be born" in which a beaten Conan is  nailed to a tree and left for dead. The whole scene plays out pretty much as it does in the story.

Nods to the character can be found all over the game. And the style of the enemies and locations have a very distinct "pulp fantasy" feel to them. It might all be obvious pixels but the art style made up of these pixels is awesome, but like the games of old they leave enough space for your imagination to bring them to life even more.

The animations are a treat to watch, with our hero in particular being a charm to play. Every jump and swing feels responsive and tight with death being a result of miss timing and not bad luck. The music is also a treat as your time on screen is scored as a grand adventure tightly packed into 8bit musical glory. You feel like a warrior as you smash your way through the game.

The gameplay itself is a mix of beat em up and platforming with minor environmental puzzles thrown in for good measure and you will find yourself dying a few times before "getting the hang" of a particular enemy pr area.

Michael Stearns who is the genius behind Tiny Barbarian DX plans to release episodic installments of the game with the first one already available. You do not have to pay for each episode though, they will become available upon release if you own the game. 

For fans of old school action and platforming (and Conan) Tiny Barbarian DX is a must have treat that will stir so much nostalgia in you that you'll feel like a kid again as you play through it.

Here's a video of me fighting the first boss :)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Christopher Nolan: Please stop ruining my favourite characters

Yes I am a massive comic book fan and more so a huge Superman and Batman fan. I have read every one of their comics from Issue one till the issues this month.

And I hate Christopher Nolan's take on my favourite heroes.

Nolan's Batman: I don't kill people.

And yet he blows up anything in his way when his driving from point A to point B.

When he was asked to kill that one guy at the League of shadows place, he says no - then blows up the whole damn place killing everyone in it including the fake Ra's al Ghul... Then he kills Dent in the 2nd film.

Plus I hate how Nolan wants to make everything "Grounded" ... it's a Superhero movie. It's meant to have an element of the extraordinary. You can't look to explain everything and make it plausible. 

Not only did Nolan strip Batman of any of the things that make him a fan favourite; always one step a head, world greatest detective, less brawler more tactician, master of the shadows...

Nolan actually took the idea of a man wearing a bat suit and made it mundane. He sucked the joy out of it and made this "matter of fact" thing, but for all the "realism" he tries to force into his movies he still expects us to suspend our disbelief for bull shit things like Batman escaping that bomb or "Robin" knowing Bruce is Batman because of a stupid look on his face? and what about that broken back that heals in 3 months or how he even got back to Gotham from that damn prison in the ground? time to paint a giant bat symbol that will light up with flames on that bridge.

As for that damn voice; just the fact that Nolan heard Bale do that ridiculous voice and didn't try to change it - is fail.

Most people don't even like the Nolan Batman films for Batman. They like them because of the villains. With Joker being the most loved.

You wanna know why the Joker was so awesome? (Aside from Ledger's phenomenal performance) ... because we don't know anything about him. The mystery to his chaos was the major draw - he was like a force of nature. In comparison to Nolan's neatly laid out Batman he was a breath of fresh air.

Plus the villains are the only ones who actually get any character development in Nolan's films, look at Dent or Ras. At the end of the 3rd film Batman isn't any better at being Batman. In fact in Rises his a freaking joke - especially when he goes up against Bane.

And as for Man of Steel. Nolan completely lost the plot with that one. We know his looked at Superman comics... but has he actually sat down to read one? For all the reason Man of Steel fails as a Superman movie there's one that sticks out like a sore thumb.

Superman doesn't kill people - no matter what the reason.

For everything that has a capacity to do good, it has an equal capacity to do evil.

Superman, through his strengths and attributes has a great capacity for for good... what keeps him from going evil? His morals. We can't just have him killing people, no matter how it's justified. You and I can't kill people, because no matter the reason it's still wrong and we have to answer to it.

Who does Superman answer to if he kills someone? To have him carry out an act like that totally destroys the foundations of his character, because it's a total abuse of his power. And that alone is proof that Nolan and the Man of Steel crew understand nothing about Superman.

And did he have to kill Zod? It's not like Nolan's Superman did anything to show that he cared about the people around him. He trashed half the city and never took the fight anywhere else... like he would have done in the comics.

Why couldn't he just grab Zod and fly away? Why couldn't he just stand in front of the heat rays? Why couldn't he just cover Zods eyes with his hands? Yes he would have gotten hurt - but if he cared so much wouldn't it have been worth the pain? With all his powers and all his "love for humanity" the first thing that came to mind was to snap a living things neck?

Bull shit... complete and utter bull shit.

Yet people eat Nolan's crap up.

And Superman doesn't have to be a "bad ass" - his not edgy or hardcore. There are hundreds of inter-changeable comic characters to fill that niche. Superman IS the boy scout, he IS the naive farm boy with the weight of the world on his shoulders.

And his not just an alien from another planet. He was born and raised an earth kid, a simple farm boy.

The Batman persona is the real Bruce Wayne and the playboy billionaire is the fa├žade. But for Superman - it's the other way around. The godly spaceman is the outer shell, inside Clark Kent - born and raised - is the real person.

This was totally lost with the dull, emo portrayal of Superman in Man of Steel.

Up yours Christopher Nolan - if you don't like making Superhero movies, then stop getting involved with them.

And yes my hate is directed to Nolan because he and David Goyer wrote the script. Zack Snyder should go back to directing music videos. His ruined Watchman - the only comic book to receive a Hugo award and now he helped ruin Superman.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

And then?

And then I went to Indonesia to collect my World TV award for the Doco/ drama I made for FBC TV called A Day At the Beach and to attend the Asia Media Summit.

What an awesome experience. You know I've always wanted to travel and more so I've always wanted to travel to Asia. Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to take part in a work shop in Malaysia which was a country I've been longing to visit.  

I flew into Indonesia through Sydney and then through Singapore which was awesome because I've always wanted to visit Singapore as well. I got spend twelve hours there and though it late when I got with me being very tiered (it was a total of 11 hours flying and 4 hours waiting at Sydney Airport before I got there) I was eager to explore.

The city was amazing - the first thing that struck me was how clean and fresh everything looked. Even for a city that was towering and bright there was a certain air of "zen" about the whole thing. And I use the word zen not because of some hipster connotation to it - but because it just had a great sense of balance to it.

I didn't do much shopping in Singapore though because I was saving my money for my final destination. I did however buy some very awesome Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figures that I have come to love dearly.

When I got into Manado, Indonesia I thought I knew what to expect. I had saw some pictures of it online and was looking forward to a up and coming tourist town, instead I arrived in a place that was in very early stages of development. In fact despite the tall buildings and enormous number of fast food joints - my home city Suva here in Fiji was actually more modern that it.

On my first night I met up with my CEO who was also there for the Asia Media summit and the two us decided to hit the town. We walked around for about three hours before we decided to just have dinner and head back to our hotels.

I stayed at the Swiss Bell Hotel which was about 2km away from anything interesting in Mando, it had very friendly staff and the place looked great. The food was pretty awesome as well - though a little on the expensive side for our Fijian dollars. Though the Indonesian dollar is a little on the low side of the exchange rate, they make up for it by making most things very expensive.

The next day I attended a work shop on "The Medias role during a pandemic"  which was very interesting. I was very grateful that I had played the Android game Plague Inc because a lot of what I had learned from it actually came in handy. In fact I even suggested that the participants at the work shop check it out.

The work shop was a relief for me because I was suppose to do a talk as well on "How media can help raise awareness on sustainable development" - so I saw the 30 or so people in this work shop and though - I can do this.

The next day I found out that I was actually speaking in the "main convention room" to a Broadcasting crowd of about 300 to 350 people >_<

O boy...

The next day was the big award day - I was asked to sit somewhere in the front so that it would be easier for me to go up to collect the award. The days events started about 9:30am and the awards were at 12:30pm.

I don't know why but I was very nervous even though I already knew that I had won.

Before they called me up they had all the judges come up and talk about what thy liked or what they saw in "A day at the Beach" and to hear all their thoughts was a surreal feeling for me. I've often talked about all the little themes and messages I've found in movies and to have people dissect something I wrote and planned was interesting. I was pleased that a few of the nods I had put in hadn't gone unnoticed. One judge had picked up on my T.S Elliot reference and a few others saw drew some really deep ideas from it.

As I collected the award I was so damn excited that I stood there speechless, though I had prepared a speech I didn't get to read it because of some kind of error on the organizers part. But they apologized after but I didn't mind.

Later that afternoon I met with my fellow panelists to discuss our talk/ presentation.

When it was time to be up on stage I soon became quit comfortable about it. As I heard the panelists talk i knew I had prepared something interesting enough. My contribution to it was more from a production standpoint. How to make programs on any kind of awareness more engaging for the viewer. Coming up with concepts, looking at budgets, considering the mulch-platofroms of new media to get the info out.

A consultant for UNEP and a man who has become a good friend of mine did a nice little blog post about my talk which you can read here. I was pleased that a lot of people enjoyed my talk saying that it was very "practical and real". Which is all I ever wanted it to be.

That night I did an interview on Radio 24 which is a Malaysian station. I talked about my award and what it was like starting off as a radio host before moving in to TV and film production. Later I got a call from a friend I mad on my trip named Chandra, who was from India. He and another cool guy i met named Adam were keen on hitting the night life a bit. So I though "what the heck"

We ended up going to a karaoke bar which was on the basement level of the hotel I was staying at. i walked into the place with a live band screaming out Nirvana's Smells like teen spirit. I was loving the place already. I had a few drinks and stayed for a little over an hour before I decided I'd better get some sleep. 2am in Manado was 6am Fijian for me - and I hadn't totally adjusted to the time difference.

Thursday was the last day of the summit which was wrapped up pretty early so I spent the day with the new friends I had made and just pretty much saying good byes. Bye to Adam and Debasmita, two very awesome people I have to keep in touch with.

That night Chandra and I chit chatted over whiskey and snacks he had brought from India before I head off to bed.

I left Manado at about 1 in the afternoon and took the same route back home through Singapore and Sydney. The flight out of Manado was made interesting cause I got sit next to a very nice young lady from Capetown. Conversations always make the journey better. I hadn't bought anything else on the trip so I picked up some books in Singapore.

I was so pleased to be home after the crazy long flight. Nothing beats Fiji man...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Dark Souls Fun: Artorias vs Manus

The best thing about games on PC are the mods and when a game has a big enough fan base you get all kinds of crazy stuff.

Now the video below might not be of a "mod" but it is a cool example of what you can do with games on PC. Some how this guy got Manus, who is the last boss in the Dark Souls DLC (and arguably the hardest fight in the game) to battle it out with Knight Artorias.

The arena you see is where you clash swords with Artorias; how he got Manus there is beyond me*. But the epicness of this battle is ... Epic.

*Apparently there is a "cheat engine"  that lets you spawn NPCs and such. The owner of the video spawned Manus in the arena and then made him hostile to NPCs.

In Dark Souls Lore Artoias does indeed battle it out with Manus - but we never get to see it.

Well now we can

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Loads of fun with Loadout

I am a very competitive person.

Some might say that's a bad thing and that I should relax but I enjoy it. It makes games fun for me.

In fact most of the games I'm really into have some sort of competitive component. Dark Souls and World of Warcraft would have to be two games that have totally consumed me.

I PVPed like mad in WoW - in fact my first toon is ranked champion while my last toon, a warlock, spent most of his time poping heads in Athari Basin.And in Dark Souls I love invading peeps and claiming souls. There's something about gearing up and going out of your way to collect stuff which you then use to wreck other players. Now I'm not saying that I'm hot shit at it, in fact I've learned to channel my competitiveness a little, but I do really enjoy playing against other players.

I've never been one for online shooters though until I wrapped my virtual trigger finger around Team Fortress 2. Then I started playing that for hours upon hours. I even got into collecting those damn hats >_<

Well recently I started mucking around on the beta servers for an up coming third person shooter called Loadout, and this thing really has me hooked.

My Loadout home screen
I actually can't remember how I came across this game but I do remember going nuts trying to get my hands on a beta key. It didn't take too long as a simple Facebook message to the games page returned a link to a key for me to grab.

Since then I've been having a blast with Loadout. The best way to describe is that it's like Team Fortress meets Unreal; in that it's very cartoony looking with the action being arcady.

I know these days we judge our online shooters with such games as Call of Duty or Halo, but Loadout is more about casual fun, at least to me.

Rather than trying to be "real and authentic" with its gameplay, Loadout is over the top and frantic.

A typical Loadout match gets very hectic. You might have the occasional sniper with a 10 kill streak but he probably died like 20 times himself. As soon as the countdown timer ends, the screen is splashed with blood and body parts. The death animations are actually a lot of fun to watch and you can't get head shot without letting out a "o shit hahahaha" when it happens.

This is my baby
The biggest pull though is the games loadout system itself. You don't just pick two guns and an item, instead you actually get to craft your choice of weapon right down to what kind of trigger it has to fire. The closest I've come to this would have to be the Free to play shooter Black Light, which has tones of weapon customizing, but Loadout takes that concept and pumps it full of crack - because the results are just insane.

The cool thing is that even though you have people running around with lightening chain guns and 6 barrel rocket launchers that fire like anime mechs, everything is so well balanced. When crafting an item everything has it's pros and cons - so you don't make something that is the best "killer" but rather something that best suits your play style.

Aside from the awesome weapon building you also get to create your toon. Currently the game has two hero characters that you can customize, one of them looks a lot like Rambo and the other Mr T, and the devs have said they'll be releasing a female character as well sometime soon.

The main theme of the game seems to draw very heavily from the action movie culture of the 70s and 80s. Think Terminator, Commando, Cobra or anything else staring the cast of the Expandable and you'll find some reference to it in Loadout. One of the cosmetic options is even the jacket that Arnie takes from the punk in Terminator 1. In fact it's called "stolen punk jacket"

I've got two skins I role with, one being sort of a post apocalyptic theme and the other a rip off of Rick from Splatter House.

I actually cost me game money to take that shirt off.
 Both have the same weapon set up - but I have some other muck around builds as well.

I actually just keep things pretty simple. Yes the weapons with the light shows are fun but nothing beats a slug to the face. But this could change as every time I see someone using an interesting looking weapon I have to try and build it for myself. There's actually an area where you can try out all the guns you've made, but what I would love is a way to share and view other peoples schematics.

There are a few draw backs though as the game currently has a limited number of maps, and in game currency to buy weapon parts and cosmetics are hard to come by. Plus even though there are a huge possible combination of weapons - everyone just uses rockets. Including me :P

At the end of each match you get a wheel to spin, which in turn rewards you with various prizes like weapon parts and "space bucks". So far I've been getting a lot of XP and very little cash. So I went and bought a starter pack.

You're weapons level up as you spend rank points to open up different tiers in the weapons components. The most I've invested in is the Harbinger you can see in the pic up top.

Loadout should be out of closed beta soon and when it hits Steam you should definitely check it out if you're a fan of online play. The community are a pretty cool bunch, but all online groups have the occasional ass, but so far I haven't run into one. The Devs are petty cool to and you can tell they really love what they have and are constantly keeping touch with the fans for ideas and suggestions. You can also catch some live streaming of their games every now and then too.

Now watch this awesome trailer:

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Day At the Beach wins a World TV Award.

And then I won a World TV award.

A short film I did with my FBC TV crew called "A Day At the Beach" won the World Television Awards 2013 Science/environment category for the Best TV Programme on “Creating Ozone Safe Generations".

Now I get to present the Film at the Asia Media Summit, which is a global gathering of broadcasters from around the world, scheduled for the the 29 May in Manado, Indonesia. That's where I get presented with my award too :)

According to the website there's going to be 500 representatives from various broadcasters at the summit so it should be very interesting. 

I was so damn excited when I heard that I had won. It was 1am on a Saturday Morning and I had just finished a few hours of playing Loadout when I got the call from my Boss who had gotten an email telling him I had won. I actually just sat there kinda like "o really... awesome"

Inside though I was kinda in shock because this was my first international award, and a World TV award at that - which is pretty huge.

The film was a made as part of the workshop I had attended in Malaysia.

 As far as films go I never make anything I wouldn't watch. So when I set out to make something on Ozone Depletion one idea just jumped into my head.

After hearing all this talk about stop ozone depleting substances by the year 2050 I started thinking about what kind of effect that would have on us here in Fiji. Can Fiji or the whole Pacific wait that long? What will happen before then? or after that?

Check out the "Boom Mic"
So what came out in scripting was a ravaged Fiji in the year 2063 and the rest just fell into place.

Drawing from such things as Cormac McCarthy's The Road and even a bit of Jack Vance's Dying Earth stories soon the script was locked into place.

I had a great crew working with me too so after about a week of planning and a day of shooting we  knew we had something awesome going. I'm lucky to always have a crew that sort of trusts me with concept and planing and especially direction.

I wanted to make the short informative, while still being accessible, so I had written a father and daughter reflecting on all the things that happened to Fiji for it to be the dry, barren place it was in the script.    

We shot the project down at the Sigatoka sand dunes which gave us the perfect back drop for our story.

Before the actual day of the shoot my buddy Samu Soqoyawa and I went up to the dunes to check out the location. I shot a small video of the location on my handycam just to get a feel for the place. I then cut this into a little "mood video" that I showed the crew to give them a sense of what I was trying to capture. I also used this is a site reference when scripting.

The Day of the actual was shoot was a lot harder as the area gets a lot of rain. So it meant packing equipment up now and then, sometimes in the middle of takes, so we didn't get it wet.

What was also interesting is that I had planned to have a  CGI character in the story as well. A computer that talks to the father and daughter, explaining things about the Ozone and the effects of the depletion.

The design for this A.I was pretty simple but looked great - and I owe a lot of thanks to our graphics guy and my friend David Whiteside for his designs. I'm lucky that he is a huge video game buff like me so he had a lot to draw from. In fact he designed all the graphics I animated based on a few crude sketches I had given him. though our render resources and such was pretty scarce - I thought the end product with the AI turned out great.

Lending her voice to the AI, that we named Jacki-0, was the lovely Jacqueline Speight from our very own FBC TV news desk.

The score for the short was done by our very awesome sound guy Jone Nakasamai, who actually composed the main theme a day before we submitted the film for the award.

Our two leads Peceli Rokotuivuna and Ny Vann were great sports. As we had one camera it meant we had to do a lot of multiple takes to get the different angles. Even Seremaia bui Cabecabe who was our drive for the day helped with carrying equipment up and down those mad high sand dunes.

In the end we had something we were all very proud of and to have something that is essentially a work of passion recognized with an award like this is truly amazing.  

Here's the trailer for the short - which plays on FBC TV on the 15th of May at 6:30pm. I'll have a copy online soon after I get back from Indonesia.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Dark Souls 2: Gameplay Reveal

Dark Souls. Nothing else comes close.

Well there's Demon souls ... but Dark Souls is hands down my ultimate gaming experience. I came across  a comment somewhere that read:

"I haven't finished Dark Souls ... stuck in the tomb of giants"

This was then followed by a reply that said:

"Don't blame you... that game is hard"

To which I thought "Fuck that"

I finished Dark Souls 5 times. 4 times on one character which stayed at level 125 while the world got harder around him. Saying that Dark Souls is Hard is a serious under statement. But the game doesn't punish you for mistakes, it punishes you for not learning from them.

Now I don't need to go into any more depth about how much of a hard-on i have for Dark Souls, you can actually just read about it your self on my past blog up dates about it.

Well now after Dark Souls there's only one other game that I'm truly anticipating, more than anything else. In fact it's greatness actually makes everything else pale in comparison. That Game is Dark Souls 2.

From the day I saw the announcement trailer I've been burning (for lack of a better word) to play this game. It's not just the difficulty - in fact that's not my biggest pull - it's the world that you live in when  you play Dark Souls, that's what I'm looking forward to revisiting.

The lore, the characters - nothing beats Dark Souls.

Today the dark gods were kind enough to grace us finally with a Dark Souls 2 Gameplay video. I wish I had recorded my reaction to it because I'm sure my Jaw was dropped throughout the whole thing.

Check it out.

Now if there was one thing that bugged me about the gameplay it was that the player seemed to take a lot of hits. Some of those early bits in the video against those undead soldiers were a bit disappointing because if you take hits like that in Dark Souls you'll be seeing a reload screen shortly after. Plus he seemed to move a little too fast in that amour - something I'm not used to seeing in Dark Souls.

But I loved the atmosphere and the environment throughout the video. It reminded me more of Demon's Souls over Dark Souls because it seemed to have more of a horror aspect to it. And that boss in the carriage - looked freaking awesome. And that bridge with the dragons... fucking hell. And that bit with the monster crashing through the wall... o my god.

I can not wait to see more of it. Dark Souls 2 seems to be shaping up very nicely... Praise the Sun!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Go Goa Gone: Bollywood finally gets bitten

As a kid I watched a lot of Bollywood films, mostly a lot of movies staring Amitabh Bachchan.

Till this day he is one of my favorite actors, and not just out of Bollywood. His film Toofan was something I watched over and over again as a kid because it was the closet thing I could get in terms of a "superhero" movie which was in my mother tongue.

Amitabh Bachchan as Toofan (Hurricane)
 As I grew older and got into movies, mostly horror movies, I started drifting away from Bollywood a bit. Through my folks I would still catch a few of the classic films, but mostly I grew up on 80s horror out of the states. 

I don't think I've ever been excited about a Bollywood film since my Amitabh Bachchan days, but this week I came to know about one film from the mother land that has me pretty pumped.

Go Goa Gone is an up coming Zombie Comedy from Bollywood. Not only are these guys finally putting out a Zombie movie... but they've decided to make it funny. Which is cool because even the supposed "serious" Bolly Horror movies like Purana Mandir (Another favorite) have elements of comedy and the usual sing and dance, which detracts a lot from the tone of the horror.

The film is being directed by the duo of Raj Nidimoru and Krishna D.K who are US based film makers originally from India. And looking at the trailer for their film Go Goa Gone you can tell that these guys love zombie movies.

I see hints of Shawn of the Dead in there, as well as sharp nods to most zombie movie cliches. My particular favorite is the "Bad Ass" character in the film as played by Saif Ali Khan. His a Desi boy parading as a Russian lol.

The film has already gotten some major hype online and was even trending the other day on Twitter. With zombies being everywhere these days, just the novelty of a Bollywood made zombie movie brings a bit of freshness to the genre.

 The premise is pretty straight forward, but provides the rigth set up:

When three friends head to Goa to get their minds off all their stress, they realize that their visit has been rearranged by zombies. Seeking the help of an Indo-Russian zombie slayer named Boris (Saif Ali Khan), they must fight together to defeat these intruders!

Check out the trailer and tell me that it doesn't look like fun.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Spec Ops: The Line. This is my dream, this is my nightmare

So yesterday I finished Spec Ops: The Line

O my god.

I've always felt that video games have potential to be the current form of narrative. Like books, video, TV, or what have you... Video Games are the new form of story telling. They aren't something to simple be played any more. The problem with this is that most games bank on hooks and game mechanics which provide replay value. In this day in age when the gaming market is so competitive you need to give the player something that's worth investing their time and money in.

This leads to shit like multiplayer games, death matches and what not. Simple game hooks that are easy to pick up and carry on so as not to loose the gamers attention.

It's with these things in mind that I wonder how the heck did Spec Ops: The liner ever get made, and I know that there are other critics that share my sentiments.

"The Line's" hook isn't so much in the gameplay, although I really enjoyed it, instead The Line brings you in with story. And yes there are heaps of games with great stories but the Line does an incredible job of slowly soaking you into itself.

Spec Ops: The Line tells the story of a small squad of Delta Force operatives sent to the shattered city of Dubai after a massive sandstorm has rendered the city uninhabitable. You play as Walker, the leader of the Delta squad. Your mission: locate the survivors of the 33rd Brigade led by the mysterious Colonel Konrad.

It starts off pretty average, you shoot at people and yell out orders.

But then something happens. Your character starts to question what's going on. Why are we shooting these people... do we need to kill so many to move. It's this semi breaking of the 4th wall to make you question your actions that starts Spec Op: The Line's descent into darkness.

The thing is, it's not that The Line doesn't make you do things you don't already do in other shooters, in stead it's innovation lies in the fact that it makes you feel like shit for doing it.

Anyone who has read Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" or seen Apocalypse Now will be familiar with the story. "The Line" is the gaming link to Conrad's Novel the way Apocalypse Now was the film link.

There are heaps of articles and such all over the net now about how awesome this game is, and so many articles discussing the ideas and theme the game puts across. There's even a really cool write up which has a real Marine commenting on the game and giving his 2cents on all the cool stuff the game accomplishes. And this one in particular called "Don't be a Hero" is a great read as it has a lot of insight shared by the Devs in the making of the game. There even an article that tries to break the game down psychologically.

Earlier I was talking about how a game like this would be such a hard pitch to sell to a publisher. Because the beauty of The Line is in exploring the narrative and like all good narratives, it's the ending that nails it. The narrative being so focused does aim the whole thing towards a more leaner style and one might think that this takes away from such things as "re-playability" but I found myself immediately starting the game again on a higer difficulty.

And like all good narratives... I didn't mind "reading" through it again. The ending totally floored me, and though I could see hints of it coming it didn't diminish the impact in any way. As if the ending wasn't enough of greatness... the game throws in a killer epilogue as well.

Choice and consequence is what resembles a "hook" in The Line. And though a lot of decisions seemed forced on to... it feels legit because you feel these same limited choices can forced on to real people out the fighting wars. Its so easy to sit back and criticise those involved in conflict,  accusing them all of all sorts of things while not really know what it's like to be in their war torn shoes.

I'm not saying that The Line is an exact replica of what these people go through... but it's clear that the devs wanted to hammer some of that feeling home. Watching the characters decay and break as you lead them from one circle of hell to another is intense and engaging.

Also... to some extent. Spec Ops the line feels like a horror game. Not in 100% of the term, but in the way it messes with your head, making you question everything around you... and the way there's something horrifying waiting to be seen around the corner.

I've played a lot of games... and loved them for all kinds of reasons. But I can't remember the last time I played a shooter and thought to myself: "damn what have I done?"

There's a quote in the game which really struck me when I heard it, and of all the 4th wall breaking stuff... this one really naild it:

"The truth, Walker (player), is that you're here because you wanted to feel like something you're not: A hero"

Play any game... what are you if not the hero?

Not here... not in The Line. A hero doesn't do what I did to get to the end. A hero doesn't stand for any of this. Spec Ops: The Line takes situations and scenarios that would otherwise be considered "Bad Ass" in other shooters and makes you feel like a psycho for doing it.

There's nothing glorious in killing... no matter what it's in name of, and The Line will cut and bleed this idea into your head... before it makes you shoot it off.

Monday, March 11, 2013

And then?

And then my Girlfriend and I broke up.

For the better part of almost 5 years she was the most wonderful part of my life, and through an act of carelessness on my part it ended. I miss her dearly and right now I wonder if I'll ever meet anyone who can be as good a friend and partner in crime as she was for me. She supported me through everything I took on, she was my best friend and I never dreamed of being without her. But as Mr Harrison had said; All things must pass. :( 

... Moving on.

I also got to check out Malaysia! which was pretty farking awesome. I've never been that far away from Fiji before and Malaysia was a country I've always wanted to visit.

It was such a great experience, particularity the size of Kuala Lumpur. Just this massive city with so much to do. Of course I hit all the malls looking for video game shops and books. I found a massive book shop at the KLCC towers and spent hours and hours there just going through the many books. At the end I only bought like three books. My boss is going over there soon (To Malaysia) and I've asked him to pick up some the books I'd left behind.

I also bought Dead Space 3 and I'll be doing a separate update on that later.

What I miss most about Malaysia though is the food. I would spend hours every night hitting the food stalls on the street sometimes eating 2 or 3 meals a night. The food was so awesome and freaking cheap as and it breaks my heart to know I won't be tasting those delicious flavors anytime soon...  not authentically anyway.

I have however picked up a Malay cook book... so lets see what that brings.

Funny thing is I felt KL was a lot like Fiji but with bigger buildings. The people there were nice and the street culture was very similar to the way things happen here in Suva.

Visiting the China market was a trip as well and so was the Indian market. Again the items there were pretty cool... but I spent so much on the fruits there. Just so many stalls with fresh fruit ready top be consumed. 

So yeah it was a great trip. And I never knew I would get into food so much. But I think it's because I farking love a good curry and all the chow there were curry based. They did have like BBQs and such ... but mostly I had the spicy stuff.

And I did a lot of mucking around. To the point where I was coming back to the hotel room at like 3 in the morning.

Though the food and such was pretty cheap, I found booze a little expensive, esp coming out of Fiji and the clothing stuff was a little on the other side of the budget. Mostly because a lot of the malls only had designer wear. I was itching for a thrift shop somewhere to see what I could find.

In case you're interested I was in Malaysia for a workshop on Ozone Depletion and it's relation to climate change / Global warming. The next part of my involvement with the project is to create an awareness on the subject.  So that's what is taking up most of my time right now... that and Dead Space 3.

What else...

I have been going out a lot recently which hasn't been nice to the wallet. Most of these night outs have ended with me stumbling home at like 4am and then hitting the office at 8am. But I think this is all part of the grieving process... and I will phase this out. Eventually.

I will however be giving up on beer before anymore of this beer belly takes effect. I'm thinking strictly vodka, tequila and rum for the night outs. Plus since I just got out of a long relationship, a lot of these night outs are kinda slow until I get at least a little bit tipsy.

And how come all the interesting ladies already have dates? What's up with that?

So yeah... that's kinda what I've been up to recently. Well that's the kinda the high lights at least. With the first 1/4 of the year almost done, it's been a pretty "hit and miss" start... but I'm sure things can only get better from here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Routine Q&A

Routine is the up coming exploration/ horror game from indie English developers Lunar Software. Routine is a Steam "Green Lit" game and is frankly one of the better looking game that's part of the line up. With a strong sense of exploration  and discovery over straight Horror, the game brings a fresh new take on the genre I think.

Recently the Dev crew requested some questions for a Q&A video they were going to put together and I was lucky enough to have some of my questions addressed in the video.

Check it out - my Questions are at about the 3:44 mark

I'm really looking forward to this game as I am a sucker for exploration and sci-fi horror. Lunar Software is looking for an April release for Routine - I can't wait to get my hands on it.
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