Here's a little run down of some of the many games that jumped out at me at EGX Rezzed last weekend. There were so many I wanted to try out but never got a chance to, so I've got my eye on them as they develop. Here are a few of the ones I actually managed to play. All of these are ones I'll be looking at buying when they're available, because ten minutes at a convention just isn't enough!
♥ Enter the Gungeon
I'm brand new to this sort of game. I'm also very bad at it, which is unfortunate given how much fun they can be when you do them right. Enter the Gungeon is a twin-stick Roguelike shooter, and my limited experience of it involved me flipping tables, barrel-rolling around and dying. A lot. Each floor was full of colourful bad guys and props at your disposal (yes, you really can flip tables for cover). The dungeons are procedurally generated, and having looked into the game since coming home from Rezzed, they look like they really get tough. Like, Bullet-Hell tough. Wish me luck.
♥ Crystal Rift
Crystal Rift has just been Greenlit on Steam, and it's a game I'd most certainly be checking out if I owned an Oculus Rift (or indeed any form of gaming VR (cough Vive cough)). It was a wonderfully old-school three dimensional dungeon crawler, with simple, grid based controls. The first few rooms on their demo were very simple, but I found myself craning my neck around to view down crevices in the walls as the feeling of claustrophobia creeped in around me. A few rooms in, it got a little tougher. Glowing green orbs of light flew towards me and I had no time at all to react before they reached me. I tried again, this time realising it was a puzzle – I had to dodge the orbs before they reached me, and avoid more from the other side. The route was narrow and dangerous, and I felt like I was a participant on Nightmare as the panic set in, and my fingers fumbled, and I walked endlessly into the orbs. I tried several times but eventually, my lives spent, I had to leave in time for the Valve VR panel. It was definitely a game I wanted to go back to, and it's most certainly one I'll be seeking out when I finally do get my hands on a VR headset.
♥ Schrödinger’s Cat And The Raiders Of The Lost Quark
This game was just wonderful. If I wasn't acutely aware of my surroundings and the fact that other people wanted to play, I could have happily stayed here for hours. It's an old-school, very familiar feeling puzzle-platformer with new fun mechanics, a great (if sometimes sigh-inducing) sense of humour and smooth, dynamic graphics. The game has you collecting different quarks which follow you around and enable you to perform various actions based on which type of quark you have. Each quark has a different property and ability which can be enhanced or adapted based on the combos you form. Yellow quarks, for example, create a helicopter to lift you into the air, but if you combine them with red (solid, platform making) quarks, you get a moving ledge to stand on. There were loads of different combos and the first few levels were a perfect introduction to the game while just scratching the surface on what you'll be achieving later. Schrödinger's Cat is already out on Steam and I really recommend it if puzzle-platformers are your jam.
♥ Tembo the Badass Elephant
I can't find an actual website for Tembo, which is a shame because it'd be nice to read some more about it. Developed by Game Freak, Tembo instantly drew me to its booth for the colourful, almost Beano-esque style. Like Schrödinger's, it was a fun 2D platformer, but this one was action packed and fast, reminding me of the older Mega Drive era of platform gaming. The basic principle was 'blow stuff up' while rescuing people along the way. It was very fun, but as the action unfolded on the screen I noticed some pretty significant frame rate lag. It was pretty jarring, but I'm going to remain faithful that it's one of the bugs they'll iron out before official release. Interestingly, I don't think this game is due out on WiiU, which is odd considering the developers, but I'll probably pick it up on the PC if they fix the little niggles.
♥ The Weaponographist
The Weaponographist was actually the first game I sat down to play at Rezzed and oh, look, it's a bloody Roguelike! I swear I hadn't even heard of this genre two years ago and now they're everywhere and I'm still obscenely bad at them. It hurts, because the few I've had the pleasure of playing, including The Weaponographist, have been so much fun and so satisfying in the few moments I've done it right, that I just wish I was better at this genre in general. What set The Weaponographist apart from the others I've played (aside from the gorgeous art and great sense of humour) was the weapon swapping element - if you kill a guy with a yo-yo, he might drop said yo-yo and provide you with your newest weapon. It meant fun variety as you adapt your play style and technique depending on the range and ability of your newest weapon. Why have a machine gun when you can use a pogo stick? This one's coming out in Summer and I'll pick it up on launch because, despite several attempts, I couldn't get past the fourth room and I refuse to let my sheer incompetence at this genre keep me away from something as fun as The Weaponographist. So there. Take that, Roguelikes.
Last weekend, I attended Eurogamer's Rezzed in Tobacco Dock in London, and it was one of the most inspirational conventions I've ever attended. I'm not a game developer myself, of course, I went there entirely to play games and have fun. Armed with a 'weekend' wrist band, I had no idea what to really expect from Eurogamer's smaller convention. I spend pretty much all my free time playing video games, but few of the big boys were on display, there was no eSports section, and I hadn't even heard of half the games I'd be seeing in action over the next couple of days.
Instead, Rezzed is aimed entirely at independent developers and smaller companies, and that's precisely why it was so inspiring. I came out of the event buzzing each evening. Each day was packed with games I'd never played before and talking to the creatives behind them. Nobody I met was there because it was 'their job' to be there. The passion everybody had for their products was contagious. For example, Moose sat down to play 'Flame Over', a fun little fire-fighting Roguelike, and as he struggled with one aspect (using a different sort of extinguisher to put out electrical fires), we overheard the developers behind us discussing how to make it more obvious, or whether the electrical fire element should even be in the first level of the game. They were there to generate interest in their game, and we, the gamers, were there to help. Rezzed was a gaming con for people who genuinely care about games, where you really felt that your input was valued, however small.
I didn't get to play as many games as I'd have liked (I think I'd have needed a full week to do that) but there were a few we managed to get a go on. In the next few days I'll discuss them all properly, because they cover every genre from twin-stick shooter to dungeon crawler, platform game to simulation, and they really are worth talking about.
I've wanted to attend Eurogamer for a very long time! It's the largest gaming expo in the UK but unfortunately it's always clashed with Moose's university terms and we've been unable to attend until this year, which is kind of prophetic since this is the last year it'll be held in Earls Court, London. The expo is moving up to Birmingham in 2015 which is a bit of a pain (Moose currently lives in London and has family there) but I'll definitely be back next year if I can make it, because we had a really great time!
On Saturday evening, we bought tickets for a Eurogamer after party that was being held at the Namco Funscape arcade on Southbank in London. It was pretty... poor, to be honest. The tickets were only £6 so we didn't lose much, but the main attraction was the offer of free games and bowling, and the sheer amount of people meant we didn't get many goes on any games, and the bowling was a complete no-go. The bar was so busy that it took us about half an hour just to get to the front to order, and a lot of games (the ones that gave prizes, understandably) weren't free anyway. It was nice to say we did it, but I doubt we'd bother again.
We actually only scored tickets for Sunday afternoon so we had to cram a lot into not much time. Because the big blockbuster games were so popular (with really long queues to match), we mainly stuck around the Rezzed (indie gaming) and retro sections, and I finally got a go on an Oculus Rift! I played a bunch of indie games, my favourite of which being Haunt the House: Terrortown, a cute size scrolling puzzle game in which you play a little ghost, where the goal is to scare away (or, y'know, kill) people. It was super addictive and fun. I also spent a ridiculous amount of time on a mobile game called Kitty Powers' Matchmaker - which I started playing for kicks and actually got really into. The humour and sass behind what at first glance was a typical dating game was absolutely hilarious.
Eurogamer was a proper expo, not a convention, and as such it had a really different (and really nice) vibe to it. Don't get me wrong, I obviously love conventions, but this event was a lot calmer, laid back and, frankly, far more my cup of tea. I'll definitely attend again, probably on a Thursday-Friday to avoid the crush so we can actually get a chance on some of the larger games. It's a shame its leaving the Earls Court venue - but sadly I guess it's necessary; Earls Court is being pulled down in the next few years to be turned into flats or something equally vulgar. The building itself is gorgeous, with proper 1930s art deco architecture. I've been there a couple of times now and always loved the event space it housed, and I think it's a great shame that yet another piece of history is being demolished for housing (despite a huge campaign to save it, sadly).
Oh well. Wherever Eurogamer takes us, I'll be there next year, with far more time to spare so I can get my grubby mitts on even more video games. The UK doesn't have many gaming cons, so for now Eurogamer is getting all of my love.
Story time! I'll warn you though, it's a love story, and not just about how much I love this silly, bloody game.
Team Fortress 2. It's an FPS (First Person Shooter) game on the PC. It's by Valve, aka the Steam Guys or the Half Life Guys or the Portal Guys and it's really, really good.
Growing up, I was never a PC gamer. I had consoles. I had - have - a lot of consoles. I grew up alternating between Sonic and Mario and never truly engaged in the ridiculous console wars of the 1990s. My first PC game of any merit was Sim City 2000, but the PC was always something for work or, later, the internet, and never really for gaming.
I confess, I hated PC gaming.
I hated the constant upgrades needed to stay relevant. I hated how difficult things were, back then, to run. I hated that you had to install things and change settings to suit your machine. Heck, even on the old Amstrad we had when I was super young, all you had to do was type "run disk" and bam!, you were gaming. PC gaming was a dumb chore and I just never really cared to look into it.
Valve are an amazing company who go all out when they're pushing one of their games, and TF2 of course was no exception. They released videos introducing us to the characters in TF2, which were gorgeous, fully animated shorts. I stumbled across one for the Sniper, and let's just say I was in love!
I realised they'd released a few other videos for the characters, but I kept replaying this one over and over. The humour was perfect, the animation was just perfect and I was just absolutely hooked. I had to try out this game! It suddenly didn't matter that I'd never liked any FPS, or that it was a, ugh, PC game - I had to have it! So, that Christmas I had one thing and one thing only on my wish-list. A new PC. A computer capable of, I dunno, handling video games maybe?
Yep, on Christmas Day, I had purchased The Orange Box (the set of Valve games that TF2 was released with) and by mid afternoon I was downloading it. By Christmas evening, I was playing on an empty server with some friends who already owned it. I had no idea what I was doing, but I was in love.
TF2 became my go-to game. It was simple to pick up, as difficult as you wanted it to be and downright fun to be a part of. We explored the servers together and spent far too long on novelty maps like Balloon Race, Convoy and Mario Kart.
Eventually, we stumbled across a server on Wireplay called ctf_vikings, and sure enough the map lived up to its name. Two giant Viking ships formed most of the play area, with planks between the two of them, giant canons that launched you into the sky and a killer fish in the sea. It was dumb and kind of (very) ugly, but there was a community there of regulars who chatted across the teams and it became my nightly hangout - pretty soon I was as regular as any of 'em.
It's funny really, back then I was so unsure of myself with online gaming. I really didn't play games online so the community aspect was something new and exciting to me. I was happy to meet people and chat to everybody on Vikings by typing, but I was well aware of how dumb the internet can be to 'omg gurl gamers' and wanted to avoid that nonsense like the plague. I wanted people to become my friend because they liked me, for me, and not because I was a girl. For weeks, I was a regular on Vikings, helped form our "not a clan!", the PoA (Pantheon of Awesome), and got really friendly with a bunch of people there, but I never confessed I was a girl. I never lied or mislead anybody, it wasn't a purposeful thing. It just didn't come up, really, and I wasn't going to announce it unprovoked. It was, as far as I was concerned, irrelevant. These guys were my buddies. We killed each other and ate virtual sandwiches together. It was great.
Eventually, I was chatting to one of my American friends from Vikings and it just came up that I was maybe kinda actually sort of a girl, and he was absolutely gobsmacked. Gobsmacked, but otherwise unperturbed! I realised then that the reason I'd taken such a shine to the regulars on Vikings was because they, for the most part, actually weren't idiots. We were friends. Maybe only virtual ones who had a friendship formed out of murder and intel capping, sure, but friends nonetheless. The PoA was a Pantheon of Awesome, after all. I 'came out' to the server, that night, by using my voice for the very first time in mic chat. After the initial "a girl on the internet??" joking, everyone settled down and resumed bloody murder. It was perfect.
Vikings became my virtual hang out spot. It was the place I'd spend my evenings when I couldn't be with my IRL friends (most of whom played TF2 with me now, anyway!) Some evenings it really was more a virtual chat room than a shooting game, but it was always daft and fun. Vikings would be the place we'd go when the game had a fun new update, the place we'd try out new weapons and techniques. Sure, we'd go to other servers together, but Vikings was the place we all called 'home'.
And the reason TF2, and especially ctf_vikings, is especially special to me? Well, it's where I met the guy I'm kind of crazy about right now. Somewhen in early 2009, though I don't remember first noticing him, a guy called Cauldron Moose! joined the server. He was an old time regular, apparently, and tells me fondly that the first thing he ever heard me say was "Since when did this become a Sniper pissing contest?" - which is every bit as romantic and fitting as I'd like it to be.
We ended up playing together every night, just like all the regulars, really. When May Expo (London Comic Con) came around, I suggested that he and our other Vikings buddy Wrath should come along and check it out. I think I was cosplaying as the Sniper when Moose turned up, as you do at this sort of convention. The second I saw him, my heart did a little embarrassed flutter, but he was a fair bit younger than me and I was just being daft, so I brushed it off.
In August, we arranged a mini Vikings meetup when a Dutch player came along to London for a short holiday. Truth be told, I think he came over because he had a thing for me, but honestly by that point I only had eyes for Moose. By then, we were chatting every single night, texting each other and staying up until the birds started chirping. We met up again at Expo in October, and again I realised I was nuts about this guy. It was painful! It was this absolutely dumb, pointless infatuation, because there was no way this young, handsome guy would be interested in some older girl he met on TF2, right?
Wrong! Be still my beating heart, in January 2010 Moose suggested he should come visit me (after numerous hints on the subject!) so we arranged a day in Bath to hang out and I went there with my heart on my sleeve, forcing myself to treat this as 'just a friendly meetup' while desperately hoping it would be anything but.
I was terrified. To quote my old Livejournal entry on the subject:
Well, long story short, it was a date. We went to see Book of Eli (awful movie) and mooched around Bath and I spent the rest of the year feeling like the cat that got the cream.
Four and a half years on and we're still together, still rocking the long distance relationship sadly but still gaming together and enjoying each other's company every day. He's the guy I want my future with, someone I just want to share my life with. We've already made some killer memories together, and I aim for so many more, and it absolutely blows my mind that I'd not have even met him had it not been for TF2.
The PoA doesn't really exist anymore, but a bunch of us still hang out every night on Teamspeak, where we all play Wildstar or League of Legends or Minecraft or Starbound together.
And TF2, of course. The game has changed monumentally since I started playing it, with new game modes, weapons and ridiculous cosmetics that ruined the graphical theme goddamn it (rant for another time, man), but Vikings is still there, and we still play there from time to time.
To so many people, TF2 is just a daft 'hat simulator', a cartoony FPS that doesn't take itself seriously. It changed the world for me, though. It got me into online gaming, gave me some wonderful friends and introduced me to the love of my life.
And all because of an Australian
Thanks, Valve! I owe ya <3
Every year my buddy DC celebrates his birthday by way of BBQ, gaming and nerding out! The weather was gorgeous on Saturday, so we were all able to spend the day in the garden, playing games. One thing I always enjoy about this sort of get-together is that it's a great chance to try out new games. This weekend a new game to me was a card game called Sentinels of the Multiverse, here you team up with the other players to take down an ultimate villain. You can choose your super hero team based on complexity to play, and similarly pick a bad guy of varying difficulty. Because Moose and I were entirely new to the game, we had a really easy villain, but I wish we'd had a chance to try someone more difficult because by the time we learned how the game worked, it was over.
While we played Sentinel, other people gathered to play Braggart, a story-telling game where you have to concoct the most extravagant 'brag' to win points. DC had also set up table tennis, so we had a whole bunch of fun stuff going on while dinner cooked.
In the course of the whole weekend, we managed to squeeze in more gaming, including Magic The Gathering, Cards Against Humanity and an amazing social game called Two Rooms and a Boom, where you divide up into two groups and give everybody a 'civilian' (blue) or 'terrorist' (red) card. Among those cards are a 'bomber' card, and a 'president'. The aim is to spend your time in the room trying to work out who is who by revealing cards, card colours or "sharing information" (true or otherwise!) If the person designated 'bomber' ends up in the same room as the 'president', the terrorists win. If they end up in different rooms, the blue team wins.Each round ends by voting 'out' somebody you suspect may hinder your team's chance at winning. It was seriously so much fun, surprisingly stressful, and a really fun way to get people active and chatting.
Life is pretty great lately! I've been working on commissions, finally reopened my Etsy store after closing it temporarily over the past few weeks while my printer was being repaired, and I've got a bunch of awesome things lined up, including my birthday soon (eep!) I don't have a convention now until Manchester Expo in July, which I've never attended before, so I'm spending the next few weeks on catching up on stock, new art and commissions. Oh, and Netflix, of course.
Currently watching: Orange is the New Black (finally, right?)
I've spoken a little before about Wildstar, the only MMO I've ever enjoyed. Tonight is the end of the Wildstar beta. The game goes live for real on June 3rd, but all our characters, gold and dreams get wiped tonight ready for the big launch next month.
In honour of this, I figured I'd do a little presentation of my current characters. May they be forever remembered!
Snowbelle was my first ever Wildstar character. Moose and I got beta access on Christmas eve, so it seemed only fitting that I create a magical Aurin imbued with the spirit of Christmas! The name 'Snowbelle' was surprisingly not taken, and the candy cane ears, little star earrings and spunky elf-like hair made her perfect. I made her an Esper (seemed magical enough) and an Explorer.
Taffy's my main character, currently level 30 as of the beta's end. He's an engineer/settler. His name has a dumb history. The only place I ever really roleplayed, years ago, was The Lion King MUCK, an old text based roleplay that was ridiculously popular. Considering, yes, it was a roleplay designed for The Lion King universe, it was really intense and really fun and I spent far too much time there! My main character back then was an old grizzled white/grey hyena, and I named him Tafauti because it apparently means 'different' or 'defect' in Swahili, and Taffy was white (such a unique character!) It suited him well as the roleplay progressed, oddly enough, because he was lame in one leg and was finally accepted by a lion pride. Haha, I sound so cool typing all this out, right? but TLK Muck was kind of strict on that sort of thing (no dumb coloured animals, no friendships like Hyena/Lion without proper roleplay character development etc.) so the fact I achieved that was pretty cool! Anyway! Taffy is a Chua personification of that character. Grizzled, old veteran. Sadly Wildstar don't offer white Chua fur so this is as close as I could get.
I fell in love with Aurin designs and ended up making a bunch of them. I thought Sprightly was super pretty, but I never played her. Poor Sprightly.
Sundown is the prettiest Aurin! I think she was a stalker who again, like Sundown, I never played, but I think her design is the one I'm going to use for my Exile main when the game's released. I think she's absolutely gorgeous! I don't know if I'll play a stalker with her though. We'll see!
I'm Selena, an artist, blogger and gamer - but maybe not always in that order! Dream Somehow is a blog dedicated to travel, geeky adventures, vintage style and a little bit of Disney Dreaming! If you'd like to learn a little more about me, click here.