Gamer’s Thoughts: A little ramble about blogging

blogging-encouragementLet’s do something totally different this week. This week I have been thinking about various subjects I wanted to write an article about. While I think I got some great ideas, I realized something. All of the questions I asked myself would make for a great article to discuss how I see gaming & blogging. So, in this week’s article, I’m going to talk about how I think blogs could improve and how I see games. It’s time to put some of these gamer’s thoughts on paper. And as usual, feel free to leave me a comment on the content of this article down in the comment section below.

Why do I blog about games?

1.7One of the most important things when writing a blog is that you are passionate about the subject. That you write a blog about something you know you won’t get easily bored of.

Since I play a lot of games, I picked that as a subject. But truth to be told, I tried to blog about other things. In the past, I wrote articles with my views on life, movies, anime and much more.

But the articles about gaming just stuck with me. I loved writing them and creating them. At first, I was thinking of making a YouTube channel and making video reviews. But after a while, I got bored of it and I stopped making YouTube videos.

Why do I continue to blog about games? Well, it has several reasons. For one reason, I want to share my love of gaming with the rest of the world. It’s so rewarding for me to see how many people read my blog.

But where is the root? Why do I BLOG about games? What got me started? Well, my story isn’t as any typical YouTuber would say that he or she got inspired by somebody or the community. I just gave it a shot. I thought it would be fun to write an article every week and 5 years later, I still enjoy it quite a lot.

Can (game) reviews contain spoilers?

Shep-Red-Background-Spoilers-BWhen I write an article, I’m always thinking about if it’s fine to spoil the game or not.

It’s an interesting question to think about really. Since I can find arguments that are pro and contra.

I think spoilers in a review are fine since a review can serve as a reflection. When you would limit yourself to not spoil the end of the thing you are reviewing… It feels incomplete. You can’t talk about the end part in depth. Here is a perfect example:

Today I finished an anime I would love to recommend but the ending of the 2nd season ruined the series honestly. I’m not alone in this. The whole final episode was just in a totally different style than the rest of the anime that I threw me off. I spent nearly an hour reading different forum discussions and watching rants on YouTube on people who got annoyed by the ending as well. Oh, and if you wonder… It’s Haganai. It’s an amazing anime but the final episode of the 2nd season is just terrible in my eyes. It doesn’t wrap up the story at all.

When I would talk a bit more in-depth, I could warn those who are interested, so they can prepare themselves for the ending. But then, on the other hand, I might scare some people of giving the anime a chance.

So, I think spoilers aren’t good for a review since you might scare potentially interested people away. Also, some people read reviews so they can decide if they would buy the game, anime, movie, book …

It’s a very difficult balance for a content creator. Should you or shouldn’t you include spoilers. One fact stands, I’m glad we have people who put up spoiler warnings. Since then I could stop myself from hearing things I don’t want to hear yet. Since spoilers can ruin an experience. That’s something we can agree on, right?

A thought I had was: if I would use spoilers, I would only use it in a review. Since it’s a reflection of the game I just played. But I would avoid spoilers at all costs in my first impression series. (Notice the letters I put in bold please.)

Why a tablet is a must have for any game blogger!

380kvIn the past, I wasn’t a big fan of tablets. I thought that they were just a cheap laptop without a physical keyboard. Apart from in business situations, I never saw a real point for them.

But then I found it. The reason I bought a tablet and why I actually am glad I bought it as because it’s a cheap laptop without a physical keyboard.

When I’m playing I game I used to write my notes in my notebook. But then one day, I forgot my notebook at work and I wrote down some notes in a different notebook. I think you can see where this is going. I have notes everywhere. So, yeah. A tablet is a perfect place to store them all in. And when I forget my tablet at home or at work, I use my PC and edit my notes that way. Since I got them synced using Dropbox, I always have the latest versions of my notes at hand.

Also, it’s really easy to access the internet without having a clutter of tabs open. When I write an article about a certain game, I have a lot of tabs open with other peoples their opinion and various other sites with information on the game. I see it as a sort of secondary screen I can easily set up and use. While you could argue that an actual second screen for my computer could do the same thing… Well, it keeps my mind focused. A tablet is for research and PC is for the actual writing part. It keeps me focused.

If you wonder, I got myself the Asus ZenPad S 8.0. I bought it on a sale so I got it pretty cheap. And after almost 2 weeks of using it, I’m really glad I got myself a tablet. The previous tablet I owned was a cheap one. One where the battery died after almost a year.

Other uses for my tablet are: being able to read my notes for class while I’m on the train to work. Testing out some things in simulations on the go. Being able to quickly look something up when I’m not at the computer. Being able to review the Android games a bit better on a bigger screen and most of all, it’s a really helpful organizer.

Closing off

Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. When I have more ideas for a ramble, I might write another article like this.

When you have something where you want my opinion… Well, feel free to contact me.

In any case, I think I’m going to wrap up this article here. Have a great rest of your day and I hope to welcome you in another article! But until then, take care :).

NekoJonez: Review #016: Alan Wake (PC) ~ Departure

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Official website

You would have thought that I would write my 15th game review on my blog. Yet, I decided to write it here on ButtonSmashers. Why? Well, to thank the guys for the great times they gave me and because Q gives me sometimes some free games and I think that means I need to pay him back somehow. So, I write an article on one of the best horror/adventure PC games ever made, well in the recent years. Besides, for me it’s all about reaching the milestone instead of the location. Another reason why I write it on my friends blog here is that I actually got this game for free from somebody of Arpegi. And my first impression is already on my blog. So yeah. If you want to read my first impression of this game, you can do that here. Anyways, unlike Alan here, I’m not in the dark. My dark, well black, cat is sleeping in my arms, making the time I spent on this review a lot longer then I originally planned. Oh well, the two additional collector edition episodes will have to wait. I have a game to review. In my introduction I always make it clear how I got to this game. Well, I got this game as a present. I was allowed to choose between three titles for buying someone a game. I knew the title Alan Wake from seeing it on a YouTube channel called Lazy Game Reviews. I wanted to link his video but the highly trained monkey’s of Google failed to work. (Yeah, YouTube has been bugging out for me. So, after some 500 error’s I gave up.) Anyways, enough stalling of this! Let’s get on with the review. Nothing special for the 15th, just a plain old review. And my plain old invite for you to write a comment what you think about this game and/or review. 

Manuscript pages

Wake_Barry.jpgThis game blew me out of the water. One of it’s many stronger points is the writing. It’s just an amazing story. Don’t go spoiling yourself because the ending is somewhat open ended and ready for a sequel. Yet, I haven’t finished the additional DLC’s yet. So, maybe I get my answers there.

I actually bought myself the novel version of this game. And I’m pumped to read it. I can feel Wake’s pain. He’s a writer who lost inspiration. Sometimes I have that myself. But apart from a story with deep and rich characters, it’s extremely memorable. It makes a lot of twists and turns. Even Alan starts to doubt himself from time to time. It feels more human.

The presentation of the story is what made this game for me. What’s going to happen in the (near) future of a chapter is written out on manuscript pages, some are extremely well hidden. Some provide backstory to the characters. While the pages play a very important role in the game, it’s implementation is just brilliant and how it should be.

I’m so sad that I finished this awesome story and this is one that I wished I could play over and over again without knowing the story. Where is that reset button in your brain when you need it?

Well, let’s talk about this game’s gameplay. And is it something where many game developers can learn from. You play the role of Alan Wake, like I told earlier, a writer who is in trouble. This game is a mostly linear adventure game, at some moments there are two or more paths, and it’s a shooter as well. But with a big twist. Before you can hurt your enemies, you must shine your flashlight on them. I only wish that not all enemies where male. But this is such an extremely big nitpick.

Ammo?!

cabinIn the game you use several weapons. A pistol, shotgun and a flare gun. You sometimes have flares and flash bangs at your disposal. And when you explore you can have more ammo as your reward. The additional batteries I found for my flashlight came in extremely helpful.

Yet with this comes on of my few complaints with the game. The weapon selection is not that great. When you play it, you will understand me better. But it’s as simple as putting everything under the scroll wheel. So when you wish to switch your flash bangs to flares without switching your weapon, well though luck.

And your objective is nearly always the same. Go from point A to B. Yet, the journey is always extremely different. From fighting through ambushes to driving a car to an other location, the game never feels really repetitive. This game also haves some major horror mixed in. From being in the woods with a lot of bear traps and the Taken following you to being in a hospital that is consumed by darkness.

I also love how the creators of this game hid several QR codes to scan in the game. I uncovered some GIFs with it. I’m so curious with I’ll find on my second playthrough. Yes, you read it correctly, I’ll probably play through this game more then once. Not only since the highest difficulty provides all pages to find but also because of several paths I didn’t explore and I wish I did.

One other complaint I have is that the driving is a bit broken. It’s too loose. You sometimes feel like you’re riding on ice. And with sudden tight corners in the road, this game makes the driving not so easy. Plus, your car can break down. Excellent, yet a damage meter is nowhere to be seen.

While the ammo for your weapons is extremely scare, you’ll never be without bullets. If you don’t waste them that is. With a human jump and a limited sprint, this gameplay can’t be any more talked about I guess. On to the next segment! Like in the game. It’s also in parts. And when you reach the next part, a quick recap plays. This makes being up to speed with the story such an easy task.

Well lit room

poltergeistLet’s first talk about this game’s soundtrack. I like almost every track. Some songs at the end aren’t really my style but I won’t talk bad on the game because of this. The set the mood like it should. The music gets tense when it needs to. And the music gets lighthearted when there is drama.

And the sound design is how I think it should be in all games of this genre. All weapons are such a blast to use because of this. Except, I miss a bit of a ticking sound for the flash bang. But that’s the only change I would do in the sound department.

And does this game gets tense. A full 100% yes please! The further you go, the more I got on the edge of my seat. This game provides a lot of challenge. One or two parts where a bit unfair but hey, that I can let slip.

The level design is excellent. I never really felt stuck and it was always clear in which direction I should head. Thanks to the ability to press “F” to focus on the part Alan was talking about makes that you have more control in your hands and that’s something I can only applaud. The only thin I should have dropped was the clicking to start an engine for light. One time it got a bit too difficult to remain fun.

Oh, now I suddenly remember that I should have mentioned in the gameplay section that there are various additional collectibles to find. Well, now that I mention it here, I can say that this games it’s length is great. I have beaten it on normal difficulty in 18 hours. Yet, I know that I skipped some parts and I haven’t finished the DLC. And I truly look forward to beat this game again with the developer commentary playing in my headset. Yeah, I advice you that you play this game with a headset, it makes the experience a lot better.

There are also parts in the game that you play with a side kick. And it’s AI is great. I had moments where I really was saved by the AI. And there where moments where the enemies really took me off guard. And I like how the animation helps you see enemies swarm you from different directions. This makes the possibility of cheap deaths go down so much. But before we talk about that, I want to say that I had to try some parts several times. Not because of cheap things but because I was truly taken off guard or I took the situation on with a wrong weapon. The bosses really require that you use the tactics of the weapons and ammo that you have.

So to finish this review, I’ll talk about the visuals and animation. And wow, the visuals are just mind blowing. The excellent voice work really shines through here. With nice and extremely well done locations, it’s a joy to walk around in this game’s setting. Nothing feels out of place and the developer really made it in such a way that this game might be real as well. The character’s detail is also well done.

I also like how you get a nice death animation when you kill the last enemy of the attacking group or when you die. The animation might have a hiccup here and there, it’s not really noticeable when you don’t pay attention to it or when you don’t look at it with a reviewer’s eye.

So, let’s wrap up this special longer review here and let’s get right to my conclusion, shall we?

Conclusion

The good:

+ Amazing story.

+ Great setting.

+ Nice gameplay.

+ Decent length.

+ Pretty epic soundtrack.

+ And much more.

The bad:

– The driving is a tad bit broken. A damage indicator and improved driving would be welcome.

– The switching of weapons isn’t the easiest thing to do.

Conclusion:

When even MiseryLC talks about this game, you may be sure it’s quality content. He didn’t play this game, he only saw a let’s play of the sequel. And I agree with my statement there. This game is a mindblowing experience. One that every one should play that likes adventure and horror games.

The presentation is unique. In terms of visuals and the story. It’s different yet familiar. It’s really worth to check this game out on Steam and play it right now.

I truly had trouble looking for negative parts of this game. This is one gem that should be high on everybody’s list. And it’s even a port from a XBOX360 game. Take that, a well made port.

Play this game, you won’t regret it.

Score: 95 / 100

Rant #002: Broken Menus

Broken menu minecraft

Don’t you just love it? You are playing a game and the menus are all glitched up? Like in this screenshot, where the “Done” button is too stubborn to move. This is a curse that many modders have in Minecraft. But in my current playthrough of certain games, I have encountered some issues with menus for me to talk about in this rant. But before I continue, what problems did you guys have had with menus before? Let me know in the comments. Maybe I’ll add them in a follow-up article if I ever write one. So let’s dive into the menu and my rant about them. 

Standard menu’s?

I often ask myself, why do developers not have some rules about the menu’s? I recently tried out Call Of Duty and the options to change the controls are separate. Great, I looked over it since I expected them to be under an options tab.

All the menu’s in the games are different. I have no big issue with that. The might try to fit the style of the game. But, the issue is mainly that all options have a different spot in each game. What really makes me nervous is when developers don’t give you a chance to play a game in a windowed mode or in full screen. Some games stay full screen anyways. Or when you can’t change the screen sizes to the screen size of your monitor.

A big example of a bad menu design is Overlord. Yes, for the options there are two menus. Awesome! But the most useful options like screen size and the changing of buttons is in the launcher and you can’t access that in-game. This made me close and restart the game often to try to really fit the controls to my likeness.

To accept or not to accept?

Why do so many games have menus where you need to click on “accept” before the changes happen? For older games, I can forgive that, but in more recent games I have seen so many examples where the game changes the settings as soon as you change the setting. Even a preview button would be sweet.

This extremely confuses me, to the extent where I look in every game for an accept button or I get mad went the changes didn’t happen because I missed the “accept” button.

Another annoying example is how messy the Devil May Cry menus are. The buttons to accept options are, well displayed if they would be on a controller. What is the holy name of flying cows? Not everybody has an XBOX guy so, not everybody has a controller to attach to their computer.

This actually gives me the opportunity to do a small additional rant. Who plays with a controller on a computer? For emulators, yes, but for PC games? Oh heck no, this just silly. That shows to me that you rather have the console version. It’s so silly to sit there with a controller when you have a whole array of buttons to press on your keyboard.

Tooltips

Tooltips are a great way of letting the player know what option does what. But oh so many games don’t have this. They just throw the option in your face and you have to guess what it is.

What I really like is how some sound menus have a sample that plays when you lower or raise the volume. All those games need to have that, it’s great to just tweak it to your heart’s content.

But truth to be told, you have games where the menus are so extreme, that it’s a game in itself to navigate them. Most sandbox games like SimCity have this. Where you are actually playing with the menu most of the time.

RollerCoaster Tycoon, the first game, has a big issue with menu’s as well. Each option is a menu. You can open a menu by almost clicking anywhere in-game. It’s extremely difficult to keep track of them all and I find the screen get easily cluttered with menus. And there is no real way of closing them all at once.

I can agree that some games are lacking options. But I will mention that in my reviews then. I think I’m going to leave it here for this rant. Actually with my conclusion.

Menus can be messy, different and not easy to navigate. There is a lot of improvement in this part of gaming. But once you see some touches in other games, you get annoyed that some games don’t have them. I realize that I haven’t talked about how bad the menus can be on Kinect games, and that’s simply because I don’t own one.

So, that’s all for this rant. Happy gaming and NekoJonez signing out!