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Gamer’s Thoughts: Giving out Blogging Advice

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So, a few days ago, I got asked on Twitter how I was able to write an article each and every week. In that same tweet, I got asked how I found the time and energy to even write two articles a day for two weeks. That kept me thinking, maybe I should write an article where I talk about some blogging advice I would give to people who want to start blogging and want some pointers or some stories from experienced bloggers. If you look in previous articles of my “gamer’s thoughts” series, you will find various other articles where I talk about the life of a game blogger. I even talked about my whole process how I work an idea for an article. Yet, here are some more pieces of advice I can give you as somebody who has been blogging for 7, 5 years about games and isn’t sick of it in the slightest. Also, don’t take this advice as gospel. These are the things I would say to new bloggers, but take these more as things that could help you blogging instead of things you have to do to have a good or great blog. In addition to that, any questions or other suggestions, that’s where the comments are for!

Side note: Since I have been a gaming blogger all my life, I will mostly talk as a game blogger.

Work out a theme

A great thing to start with is a theme for your articles. The theme of my blog is my journey as a gamer through life. I write articles about the games I played or subjects I want to talk about. In addition to that, I’m a retro game collector and I enjoy playing games that not too many other gamers play. If you are worried that your personality might not be interesting enough for people to start reading your blog, don’t worry. Think first about what you want to write about and then start blogging.

Also, make the theme on your blog clear enough. Blogs without a general theme don’t have any selling points for other people to start reading your blog. For example, I enjoy it when people say to me that they discovered a new game because I talked about it.

A great example of a theme is blog run by the Well Red Mage. He has a whole blog setup where everything is themed where each writer is a mage in a sort of fantasy RPG called the life of a gamer. It’s really enjoyable to read in the right mindset and I think it’s a great example for a theme.

 

If you are thinking of a theme, and this will sound quite logical, but take a theme that fits you and isn’t something you will regret about later. I enjoy talking about the games I add to my collection and I can still do some little tweaks here and there to my theme, but I feel comfortable with the theme I have on my blog.

While I’m talking about a theme, branding is everything. Look for a name and something that can stick. Make a logo and banner for your blog and social media where people can easily recognize you and what you are about. For real, branding and a right theme can help you quite a lot to write.

Do NOT overdo social media

So, do you need a Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, Reddit, DevaintArt, Tumblr, Instagram, Snapchat…. for your blog? Well, while it can be quite useful to have some presence in the social space; it can also hurt your blog in the long run. If you have too many dead social media accounts or accounts only used to spread your articles, people won’t be interested in it. There is a reason why I only have a Twitter & Tumblr for my blog.

I use Twitter to quickly post updates on my blog for when I’m unable to write an article or when I want to share a quick thought. I use Tumblr to share things that are too long to put into a tweet, like when I want to share a list of games I’m thinking about reviewing or some blog updates I did. But, every post I do on Tumblr is shared on Twitter. So, there is one account people have to follow and can get all their information from. Otherwise you might create the illusion that information can be spread over various accounts that are mostly inactive.

So setup only the social media accounts you are planning to manage. Don’t set up social media accounts just to spread your articles or your online presence. You will divide your audience even more and it has the potential to cause an even bigger headache.

Something that is extremely handy for a blog is a contact page. Make your contact page inviting but also state rules of contact. For example, take a look at mine, I clearly state that if game studios want me to review their game, I have to be interested in it. I don’t promote things that I don’t feel comfortable with. Why should I promote things I don’t even believe in myself?

Worrying about numbers

In my honest opinion, I don’t worry about the numbers of my articles too much. The main reason why I blog is to have fun and have the ability to write about my thoughts and opinions. I think that you only should worry about the numbers if you are making money from your blog. If you are doing it as a hobby and you don’t want to make it a job, do not worry too much about the numbers.

Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t pay any attention to the numbers of your blog. I find it very flattering when people enjoy my content and write comments, like and share my articles. Personally, I aim to have at least one like on my article. Even when I don’t get any likes on my article on WordPress, if somebody favorited the tweet of the article, I’m happy. That way I know that the article was good enough to be enjoyed by somebody. And that is my main goal, entertaining people.

Use the analytics to draw conclusions. Look at the articles that pull in a lot of views and analyses them why they work. What did people like about it? For example, I wrote an article in the past about one of my favorite Dutch edutainment games, but it didn’t pull in too many views. This means that if I want to talk about other games like that, I could write about those games when I have some other big articles in the works people are excited for. As a “filler article” you know?

In my experience, I find that thinking about if an article will bring enough readers limits my creative freedom. Since I love talking about games that I play and in most cases, they aren’t the mainstream games.

All I’m saying here is, as long as your blog is a hobby, don’t lose sleep over the fact that sometimes your numbers will be low.

Write how you want

There are literally millions of tutorials out there on how you can start creative writing. While they are interesting to read, I highly advise you to not follow them to the T. Just like drawing, writing is an art form you learn by practicing. While I realize that some people have the natural talent to write stories and articles like it’s nothing. Take it from me, a guy who has written stories all his life since childhood, natural talent can take you only so far as you allow it to go.

I taught a lot of my writing skills by analyzing other writers their work and not only written works. I looked at the story in games, movies, comics amongst other things. Why did they first reveal this before they revealed the other thing? Learn from other creators and use this as a base for the way how you want to write. It took me quite a few attempts to find out how I want to write. I usually first lay out how I want the article to be, then I look for good screenshots and then I start to write the actual article. I always listen to music while I’m writing.

Something I can’t stand while writing is a podcast or watching a video. For some reason, that distracts me too much from what I’m writing and I tend to write about what I’m hearing instead of what I wanted to write about. Also, I tend to try out different programs to write in. Some articles are written directly in the editor of WordPress, some articles are written in WordPad on one of my retro gaming computers and others are written in Notepad++. I enjoy changing things up once in a while, to have a different mindset while writing.

Personally, something I find dangerous to look at is the word count. I know so many articles that could have been so much better if I didn’t limit myself to my usual 1000-1500 words limit. Sometimes you need more or fewer words to get your point across. If you want to write walls upon walls of text, go ahead. But beware, the longer you make an article, the smaller the chance is that it will be fully read.

Also, whenever you are writing and you feel that something doesn’t work, rewrite it until you feel happy with it. Know that the first version of most articles will most likely be the worst version of it. Even I had to always make edits after I finished the first version to make the article flow a bit better.

Avoid burning out

Don’t ever force yourself into writing an article. It’s a golden rule that you can take from me. When you don’t feel like writing, just don’t write. I can personally read an article when I forced myself to write about something. Rarely do they come out good and I rather delete it then continue to write it. There are so many articles that I started to write but halfway deleted.

But how am I able to write an article each week and sometimes even two articles a day? Well, ever heard about writing articles in advance and storing them for later? Or, in one of the past weekends, I had a writing session where I wrote around 10 articles in two days. Know that the actual writing process takes around an hour and a half for me. Yeah, I had a writing marathon. I enjoy writing so much that I write to relax.

If you want to start a gaming blog like myself, start writing the article in your head while you are still playing the game or doing research. Have a notebook or a tablet nearby where you can put quick thoughts and notes in. Even start writing paragraphs in it.

Also, look to your day and how much time you lose by doing literally nothing. If you have the downtime, use it to think about your writing. Not all the time of course, since that will possibly cause a burnout. If there is anything you should avoid that is burning out in writing. Like I said earlier if you have to force yourself into writing, don’t write. I have been there. It’s better to take a break from writing and try again later.

Conclusion

So, that is all the advice I have to give for now. My biggest advice is, write how you want and about what you want. If you keep enjoying writing, you will put soul into your work and you will automatically attract readers. Together with a theme and an active social media presence, you will get far. Also, remember that is an extremely fun but time-consuming hobby. While most of this advice is catered towards the people who wanted to start blogging for fun, I think this article has also some advice for more professional people.

If I explained anything unclear or you have some questions for me or other bloggers, go down to the comments and start a conversation. I’ll do my best to helping you where I can.

In any case, I thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you had as much fun as I had writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

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Game Quicky: Space Max (Android) ~ Go To Space

Space Max iconGoogle Play link – Developer’s press release – Official website

So, today I want to take a look at an Android game called Space Max. The developer asked me to give my honest opinion on this game, so here we go. This game is developed by CrySoft Development and published by TinyGames. This game is available on Android and iOS devices. Because I don’t own an iPhone, I have played this game on my phone and my tablet. In this article, you will find my thoughts about this game. For those who don’t know how a game quicky works, I list what I like and dislike about the game and give my final opinion in the end. Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article. 

The good

SpaceMaxScreenshot (2).png

The tutorial for this game explains how this game works perfectly. It teaches the mechanics in a heartbeat.

While there are microtransactions, the first upgrades aren’t too crazy to buy. I have played various Android games where you get directly into a paywall, and this game doesn’t have that.

While this game has ads, they aren’t placed in annoying places. Also, they are used in a way how I think ads should be used. When you die, you sometimes get the chance of watching an ad to continue for free. This is a great idea!

The art for this game looks pretty cute. This game is adorable in my opinion. In that extend, the interface is designed in a great way. I have nothing to comment on that, besides that, it’s good of course.

This game doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it shows. The fact that you have to fart your way up and the crazy costumes you can unlock. It makes this game humorous to a certain extent.

Something I really like in this endless jumper is the fact that when you can go down for a little while. This is great to pick up bananas or bolts you just missed. In most other endless jumpers, this means instant death.

The bad

SpaceMaxScreenshot (4).png

While I realize that it’s this game’s gimmick, but I got pretty annoyed by the farting sound effect rather quickly. After a few minutes of playing, I stopped playing for a while since I found the farting sound effect immature. It would be a great idea to have some option to mute the fart sound effect for people who get annoyed by this but want to play the game.

The controls can be annoying sometimes. While I understand how they work, you have to tap in the middle to go up, left to go right and right to go left. But, I think these two things would improve the game:

  1. Give players an option to invert the controls. That when you tap left, the ape goes left. And when you tap right, the ape goes to the right. That would be great since my brain is hardwired to do that.
  2. Place transparent buttons on the screen that make it clear where the straight up, go to the left and go to the right sections begin and end. That would make the controls of this game less frustrating and fairer.

The game seems to hang sometimes in the menus and during gameplay. Often when I press a button to go back to the game after I bought an upgrade, the game hangs for 4-5 seconds before it goes back to the game. A little waiting animation would be great.

I think that the blocks directly at the start of the game are overkill. It feels like this is an obstacle meant for in later parts of the game. I would honestly remove them or place them higher up.

I also found 2 bugs:

  1. In some cases, when I died, I saw powerups and bananas underneath the starting area.
  2. When you press left or right at the start instead of in the middle, you die in mid-air.

Something I wish the game had was a pause button. I played this game at breaks and when my break was over or when I had to pick up a call, I had to either quit the game or let myself die so that I don’t loose any progress.

Conclusion

The idea of this game is pretty interesting. At the surface, this game looks like an interesting game. But, as soon as you start playing it for while, the flaws start to show. The fart sound effect, the lack of proper controls, the game that sometimes hangs and the lack of a pause button can be a deal breaker for some people.

I honestly think that with a bit of polish, this game would be so much better. But how the game stands now, at the time of writing this article, this game is mediocre and lacks any punch to make a difference in the sea of endless jumpers that exist on the Android Play market.

Like I said, the game has a lot of potentials, but the flaws drag the game down. I’m sure that a few patches to this game can fix the issues I mentioned. Since this game does some interesting things to change up the usual endless jumper gameplay.

Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing this article. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article, but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Score: 3/5

My favorite gaming music #17 – Jamming Tunes

video game illustrationMy previous lists

So, this week I have been playing a lot of games. But sadly enough, I haven’t gotten far enough in most of those games in order for me to write about them. But, I got caught in some music tracks and even hummed them while going to work. So, I think it’s time for another article about my favorite gaming music! Remember, in this series, I only talk about the track how it is in the game. I restrict myself that I can only select one track per series in each article.  And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your favorite gaming tracks and/or your opinion on the ones I picked here. I look forward to see your selections. Oh, one quick note before we begin; in this list I only talk about games I have played. In any case, enough stalling! I hope you are ready since here we go!

Phoenix Wright – Ace Attorney (DS) ~ Logic and Trick

Phoenix_Wright_-_Ace_Attorney_Coverart

My review of this game

So, on the 6th of September, we get a new Ace Attorney game. I try to stay away from trailers and promotional material to avoid myself getting spoiled. But from what I have seen, I have been trying to puzzle together what the main focus is going to be in this game.

And believe me or not, this track was playing in my mind. This track plays when you are trying to build up the logic to disprove somebody in court or while investigating.

It’s a really amazing track that fits the mood well. You really feel like you are putting all the pieces together. I’m so glad a variation on this track returns in every game and here is hoping that it returns in the 6th main game in the series, Spirit Of Justice.

Stella Glow (3DS) ~ Battle (Amatsu)

SGCoverRGB

My review of this game

If I wasn’t clear last week in my review; I love the soundtrack to this game. I had truly a hard time picking just one track for this article. So I ended up listing to the whole soundtrack twice in order for me to pick just one track for this article. So, then I decided to pick this track since it introduced one of my favorite characters in the whole game.

I’m talking about Nonoka, she is a shinobi with a cardboard box on her head. You can see her in the middle of the right hand side on the box-art. Her personality and locality to her master is written so well. But not only that, her abilities in battle were a blessing to use.

On top of that, her voice actor (Cristina Valenzuela) did a pretty stellar job of voicing her. It brought the writing to live and made me fall in love with the character even more. And her introduction with this track was just amazing. Seriously, one memorable moment that will stick with me for years to come!

The energy of this track is just fantastic. The first time you hear this track is in battle in an Asian-themed town. It fits the setting extremely well. It makes me excited to win the battle and try to fulfill the special conditions of the battle as well. In all seriousness, go give the full soundtrack a listen, it’s truly worth it in my opinion.

Zero Time Dilemma (3DS) ~ Blue Bird Lamentation 2nd Mix

zero time dilemma box

My first impression of this game

The finale of one of my favorite visual novel series ever made did not disappoint. It’s sad to see the Zero Escape series go. I’m crossing my fingers we will see another game in the series or a new project by the mastermind Kotaro Uchikoshi.

The composer of this track, Shinji Hosoe, did an amazing job composing this track. The moments when it plays in the games is always spot on. It really made me cry in Virtue’s Last Reward. But this remake for Zero Time Dilemma made an even stronger impact on me. Yes, there were waterworks.

When I preparing, and again while writing, for this article I got distracted by all the people who played covers and remixed this song. It such an amazing track to listen in certain moments.

I truly am lost for words to describe this track. It’s one of the tracks I really advise you to play the games and enjoy. It’s really that good!

Bioshock Infinite (PC) ~ Will the circle be unbroken?

BioShockInfinite_Boxart_12012012

My review of this game

I don’t play a lot of shooters. But when a shooter comes around that present an amazing story, I can’t stop myself from giving it a try. The BioShock series took me by surprise. I remember reading a previous about it when I bought PC Gameplay. That was almost 10 years ago. I was around 13 years back then.

I started playing this series in 2015 and I finished the last DLC not too long ago. If I’m really honest, this game might be one of my favorite games I have played in 2016. I’m actually considering to replay the series from start to finish in the near future.

This song is one of the first songs you hear in the game. The scenery is just so strong that when I close my eyes while listing to this song, I’m able to see the scenery of this game. How the game starts.

At first, I thought this was an original written song for the game. But, while writing the review, I discovered that this version is inspired by a song made by Johnny Cash. And it’s just perfect for the setting of this game. I really love how the developers used famous music from the period this game has been set in. The game takes place in late 20th century. But hey, IGN made wrote an amazing article about the music in this game. So, I advise you read that if you want to know more.

Wrapping up

I want to keep this wrapping up short this time. Usually, I talk about some stuff here. But this time, it’s straight to my usual closing sentences. Here they come:

I hope you enjoyed listing and reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing this. So, I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog. So, until then: have a great rest of your day and take care!

Publishing: $10,000 cash prize to celebrate launch of new game Days of Crime‏.

Personal note: I haven’t written this article. This article has been written by the guys over at HappyLatte. Since they are so supportive to me, I thought it would be fitting to publish their press release. Thanks again guys! I only edited the lay-out a bit to fit on my blog. If you want to read more about the game, look at the bottom! 

HappyLatte

Win $10.000 in cash in gangster photo contest

WANTED: 1 photo – REWARD: $10,000 dollars

 Screenshot_2014-04-09-13-39-33$10.000 dollars in cash, that’s what mobile game developer Happylatte is putting on the table to celebrate the release of their new free to play game Days of Crime. Sending in a photograph in which you or one of your friends resembles a character from one of the five gangs in the game is sufficient to participate, but in order to take home the cash, creativity and originality are highly recommended.

“The game is a first person, real-time player versus player shooter on mobile,” says Oliver Bulloss, Senior Product Manager for Days of Crime. “Players take on opponents from around the world in short one on one duels and battle their way up to become the world’s most feared gangster.” He adds that fights take place in different locations around the world and characters can be customised to represent one of five main gangs: Triads, Bikers, Mercenaries, Streetz, and Mafia.

Bulloss continues with details on the $10,000 contest: “We wanted to do something different than an average advertising campaign to celebrate the worldwide release of the game. At the same time, we like people to be creative and make cool stuff around Days of Crime, so what better way than to just give out a pile of cash? And, even more importantly,” he adds with a smile, “a briefcase with ten thousand dollars is pretty gangster if you ask me.”

Screenshot_2014-03-11-14-01-51In order to participate in the competition, participants need to register their entry and Days of Crime player number through the contest website, which can be found on www.daysofcrime.com/photocontest. They then take and post one or more pictures publicly to Twitter and/or Facebook using the hashtag #DaysofCrime . Submissions will be closed on June 8th 2014 and a jury from Happylatte will then select the best 50 pictures based on the most creative and “gangster” pictures. These will be put up for public vote from June 13th till June 22nd through the Days of Crime Facebook page and the winner with most public votes will take home the $10,000 in cash.

More info on the contest can be found here: www.daysofcrime.com/photocontest

More info on Days of Crime can be found here: www.happylatte.com/game/days-of-crime/

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First Impression: Bully – Scholarship Edition (PC / Steam) ~ It’s a game at least.

bully-scholarship-edition-pc-boxartOfficial website

My current studies in college are teacher. So, honest, I was quite interested in this game. I was curious how they would address the problems of a bully. Knowing the developer, the first impression of this game is that this game actually gives bullying a “good vibe”. But let me explain in this article why I think the game is actually not even worth it. How they totally missed tons and tons of opportunities. If you follow me on my Twitter, you know that I tweeted out to Q that this game left me ‘meh’.  In other words, I’m not extremely interested in beating this game. There are just too many flaws in this game that it isn’t even funny. And it’s an extreme shame, RockStar games are known for amazing games but they failed on various parts in this game. I kinda feel like a real teacher now, sometimes repeating this same information but in different ways. Hah! Food for thought. Something my colleague teachers will understand. Anyways, while I do realize that I can possibly get hate on this article, I honestly only care about people who can say their opinion with respect. And I invite you to post a comment with your own thoughts on this article and or the game. 

And I haven’t played yet.

pc-09bigWhen you have games like GTA under your belt, you expect quality things from the developer. But the download on Steam was just finished and I noticed that the game was going to be a major let down.

I researched the problem and I wasn’t the only one. The game has freezing issues at the start-up loading screen. I repeat, the start-up loading screen. Yeah, and I haven’t played the game yet. And we are off to a great start. And sorry RockStar, you have no excuse! At the title screen it says “1.200”. Assuming this is your version number, this means most likely that you released 2 patches. Ignoring that issue is a shame.

Then the main menu, I seriously thought that I was going to pull my hair out. The main menu on the Steam version is terrible. It has an interesting design behind it but it barely has any options you expect from the main menu. To configure most options, apart from video (If I recall correctly), have to be done when you loaded your save.

Sadly enough, the problems don’t stop there. The game can be played with an XBOX360 controller. And honestly, I recommend playing it with a controller. Why? Because the controls feel stiff and awkward. The controller’s controls are an improvement but not that much. And how can a big studio not program the recognition of the controller? I found this out in mid-game. So, I plugged in my controller and I have to reboot the game in order for it to work. And here is the fun part, when I unplugged it mid-game, the game didn’t react to keyboard input!

Nice try guys.

bully-scholarship-edition-qdphGraphically this game is pretty okay. It isn’t anything amazing but thankfully they used some detail. But then, the developer got GTA in their heads and the designing a school got a “GTA upgrade”.

You can buy new clothes to wear instead of the uniform. I facefalmed hard right there. If you missed why, look up the definition of a school uniform. You have to wear that uniform and nothing else. Okay, it’s to rebel, I understand. But you easily get in trouble in real life if you break rules.

Now, the animation. Do I truly have to? Well, here we go then. The animation of this game is just awful. Please tell me when I can come out of hiding after the hoard of angry fanboys went by.

The game is riddled with animation problems. From twitching characters to people falling upwards, they got it all. As if this game has been thrown on Steam just to have some more cash. This game is pretty bad at hiding it’s problems. In cutscenes you can see the problems popping up. In the cutscenes! I mean, come on. If you know your engine has issues, use movies like in the old days as cut scenes.

More issues

344247-bully-scholarship-edition-windows-screenshot-picking-a-lockI might start talking again about the design and the animation of this game in this article, but if I don’t, I’ll surely talk about it in my full review if I ever write one.

Another BIG issue I have to address is the sound. From the music to the sound effects. The music, honestly, is bland. I always listen to the game’s music when writing articles. It helps my brain to get into the mood and feel from the game. But the music is nothing special. I find it hard to even remember tunes from the game. While I can easily recognize many tracks of other games I played. But that might be because I didn’t hear everything yet.

And the sound effects, my lords. Are they bad! The sound of students stepping sounds like they clapped two coconut shells to each other. Or those old plastic pots with cords that you walked around with on the playing ground. It breaks the immersion quick.  I had it happen often.

And don’t get my started about the students. They are loud and thanks to that you can barely hear what’s said in some cutscenes and what your reply was of a student you praised or said bad things too. Also, they sometimes give you awkward replies or the same one over and over again.

Is this game junk? Well, no not completely. The gameplay is somewhat interesting. But please, anything but the classes. While they could have showed the interesting part of teaching they replaced the courses by simple mini-games. And English class is such a pain for a not native speaker. Trying to make words with the letters given. I had to struggle a lot. My native language isn’t English, it’s Dutch. So, that’s a spot where they missed something they could have done gameplay wise.

Anyways, I think I’m going to leave it here. I might play this game a bit more to research it but that’s my current opinion on it. If you want to try it, know it didn’t talk in depth about the graphics, design, gameplay and control. That’s something for you to discover. But I warn my readers, think this one through before you buy it. You might be let down by the sheer unpolished elements in this game.