Gamer’s Thoughts: How to play mobile games on your PC.

CaptureOfficial website

For some people, it isn’t easy to buy the latest and greatest phone to play the newest and greatest Android games on. Thankfully, there is a solution for that. It’s a solution I often use myself actually. There is a program called “BlueStacks” that allows you to play any Android game on your PC. I use this tool when I want to take screenshots for when I want to review an Android game. To my big surprise, the folks over at Bluestacks contacted me with more information about BlueStacks 4. So, that’s what I’m writing about today. Before I begin, feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts on the program and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below.

What’s new

Currently, BlueStacks got a huge update. In v4, a lot of work has been done to make BlueStacks an even better platform to play Android games on. In this infographic created by the developers, you can find an overview of the changes and improvements in this new version.

If you want to download the program for yourself, just go to the official website that’s linked higher in the article and install the program. The installation is extremely easy. Just follow the on screen steps and the installer does the rest for you. It gets even better, when you log in with the same account you use on your phone, you will be able to download all your purchased apps and install them in BlueStacks.

It’s quite impressive on how far this program has come. Back in 2011, the first version of BlueStacks was released and today it’s one of the best programs on the market to play Android games on. With this program, you can easily stream, record or create screenshots from all Android games. And you can even play them.

If you don’t like the Google Play Store, BlueStacks also has its own AppCenter. This center is a new skin for the Play Store. Each program takes you directly to the corresponding page in the App Store.

Here is the best thing of all, using BlueStacks is completely free. There are some ads in the program and you can’t customize your wallpaper. If you buy a premium account, you will be able to change your wallpaper and have no ads. You also got priority responses from the support team, if you need them. This subscription costs only 40 dollars yearly. The only annoying thing is that there aren’t too many payment options.

By doing various tasks, like loading up a game and returning daily, you earn BlueStack Points. With these points you can buy themes and various merch prizes. At the moment of writing, there isn’t a list of which actions award you points. You can also buy BlueStack Points as a sort of microtransaction. But, these points are totally optional.

Playing games in BlueStacks

Thanks to the developers over at BlueStacks, I already got the chance to play around in a development build of version 4. Since BlueStack now supports the mapping of joysticks to keyboard buttons, I decided to try it out in Corpse Party – BloodDrive. Thankfully, there are cloud saves so I can pick up from where I left off.

screen 1

When I first installed the game, for some reason, the game closed to the desktop twice. But, the 3rd launch, the game just works perfectly fine. After mapping the joystick to the ZQSD (WASD in AZERTY, since I’m from Belgium and use AZERTY.) and the other joystick to the arrow keys, I was surprised at  how accurate and fluent this works.

After that I tried to map my keyboard keys to my wireless XBOX360 controller using a program called XPadder. With this program you can map keyboard keys to one input on your controller. It’s quite a neat program actually. BlueStacks and XPadder works just fine together. While I wish that BlueStacks works with controllers like the wireless XBOX360 controller; then again, for how many games will you be able to only use the controller and not have to use the mouse to tap/click on a spot? So yeah.

If you want to set this up for yourself, you need to click on the keyboard icon in the righthand corner. This brings up a new menu where you can choose between controls for various actions. Currently the following things are supported: a tap spot, d-pad, zoom, aim/pan & shoot, Moba Skill Pad, Swipe & Tilt. You click on what you need and drag it to where the button is on screen. If you want to change the keymap, you click on the button and press the key you want. It’s as simple as that.

screen 2

After you click save, you can start playing. Now, you can hide those keys. If you click on the eye icon that’s next to the keyboard icon, have a slider to choose how transparent you want those keys to be. I have set them all as invisible for the next screenshots in this article. I usually play on BlueStacks with invisible controls actually.

The next game I tested was the port of Sword of Mana, I played this on my tablet a while ago and it’s a very great port actually.

screen 3

I quickly got used to the controls I set up for this game. While I could set up a whole lay-out for the menu system for this game, I found that the clicking through it with the mouse works just fine. Also, I found this game easier to play, since now my hand didn’t cover up parts of the screen. I think I’m going to switch to BlueStacks to finish this game since it’s a more enjoyable experience than playing this on my actual tablet.

The final game I tested was Minecraft Story Mode. At first, I was annoyed that I was unable to login to my TellTales Account. But, I quickly realized why. Since I used enter to confirm my password, I went back to the login screen. When I clicked “OK”, the login actually happened. Curious, I took my own tablet and tried the same thing on there, and I had the same problem.

Anyways, I was surprised at how quickly I was able to download and install the episodes on BlueStacks. I actually tested the download speed of episode 5 on my tablet and on BlueStacks and I found that the episode was downloaded and installed faster on BlueStacks than on my tablet.

The reason I wanted to test this game on BlueStacks is because I wanted to check if this game also has the graphical issues I experienced on my tablet or if it’s a problem with the graphics chipset of my tablet. Besides that, I wanted to test a game that didn’t have a d-pad for moving the character but relies on pressing the screen to move your character.

BlueStacks_ScreenShot

Surprisingly, this game works perfectly. I actually placed a hidden dpad and the game reacts perfectly to that. Also, I didn’t notice any graphical issues. But, the graphical issues happened so rarely on my tablet, I can’t say it’s totally fixed. Something I did experience was a small audio desync in the 5th episode. The voice acting started a second after the characters opened their mouths.

The quick time events where easily done with the mouse. It did require me to get a bit used to the new way of playing this game but it didn’t take long. It reminded me that I want to finish this game.

So, now that I tested 3 different games on BlueStacks, I invite you to test out different games. Please, tell me your experiences with BlueStacks in the comment section. What games work and where fun to play on BlueStacks and which games gave you issues?

And with that, I want to thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed 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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PSA: How to deal with stolen content?

 It’s no secret that I recently had to deal with two websites stealing my content. While everything is almost taken down, I decided to write an article where I talk about my experiences, tips, and tricks on how to defend yourself and take down content that is stolen from you. Before I continue, I want to make one thing clear, I didn’t write this guide to take down content you don’t like or you are trying to steal yourself. I wrote this guide to talk about the various methods that are out there for content creators to help them if their content is stolen. In addition to that, this comes from my personal experiences and I’m not a lawyer. Ask legal advice where needed. 

Protect your blog!

First of all, make sure you have a page/post that your readers can easily find where you talk about what you allow and don’t allow with your content. For me, that’s my DMCA page.

On that page, mention what you allow and don’t allow with your content. If you are stuck or unsure how to write this page, Creative Commons can give examples and you can use it to create your own license. But do read the whole license before copy/pasting it on your blog.

Know that this page/post will be looked at by lawyers in case of theft. So, make sure you cover everything with this post or page. It also makes clear what a user can and can’t do with your work.

Some websites also offer badges and other similar things to scare off potential thieves. Like Creative Commons I mentioned before and DMCA.com. You can actually pay DMCA.com to take down a thieving website if needed. If you are interested, check out both sites, since they provide useful and interesting insight.

CaptureIf you are using WordPress, like myself, don’t disable pingbacks! You can find these in your admin panel under “Discussion”. The reason for why that is, I’ll explain a bit later in this article. But, pingbacks can really save your skin or help you in your research. So, DO link to your older articles if you talked about something else in the past.

You can also take measures to the extreme and host your WordPress blog yourself and install and install a plugin that stops people from right-clicking or copying your text. Now, personally, I hate when websites do this. I’m not a native English speaker, and sometimes I have to look up translations for words. In addition to that, I get the impression that the creator doesn’t trust me with their content.

Now, let me state this for the record, I’m not saying that this is a bad idea; I’m saying that I’m personally not fond of this practice. Also, I don’t believe in protecting your site 100% this way. If you have a bot setup that can copy from HTML and the developer console, well; then your protection is busted. And for pictures, if you only disable the right mouse button, you can easily bypass that with a screenshot tool. So, yeah. And people share methods online that easily bypass a system like disabling right click like here.

With this, I wanted to say that not all protection or preventive measures will make a 100% theft proof system. Create a system that works for you and is easy to manage without your users complaining about it. I honestly think it’s no good idea to go into overdrive and focus yourself more on protecting your work instead of actually creating content…. Before I ramble on and on about this, let’s continue to the actual point of this article.

Before I talk a bit more about how to take down content, here are a couple of articles that provide helpful insight on protecting your work from theft. From tips and tricks to advice other bloggers gave about protecting your blog. Do give them a read, they are great.

https://wptavern.com/content-protection-plugins-for-wordpress-do-more-harm-than-good

https://en.support.wordpress.com/prevent-content-theft/

https://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/protect-images-from-theft/

https://www.dreamgrow.com/prevent-content-theft/

https://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2009/09/09/5-free-copyright-steps-every-blogger-should-take-today/

http://smallbusiness.chron.com/make-work-copyrighted-blogger-33454.html

https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-protect-blog-content-from-copyright-infringement/

Before I continue, know that the DMCA law exists. Please, read up on that law as well if you want to know more.

Take down stolen content

Okay, now for the actual meat of this article. I had to deal with a WordPress.com and a self-hosted WordPress blog stealing my content. So, I can talk about both issues here.

Before you do ANYTHING like a DMCA or further research, do try to get into contact with the owner of the website. Once in the past, I found another blog stealing my content without credit. They had a contact page, so I contacted them and they took it down. Do the following steps when the owner of the website doesn’t reply.

Let’s tackle the easiest to take down, blogs on platforms like WordPress, Tumblr, Weebly… Here is what you have to do. First of all, be prepared for playing a waiting game AND possibly long mail chains with abuse and or legal teams.

So, one of the blogs stealing my content had a Tumblr, WordPress, Evernote, Weebly, Pinterest and Diigo account posting links various stolen material. On Tumblr, Evernote, and WordPress my whole text was readable.

Before you continue, do know that this is only something the original creator of the article can do. If you haven’t created the work, do not make a DMCA Take Down request, since this can have serious consequences. If you want to help the creator out, please report it to them and ask them what you could do. Making fake DMCA claims can create an even bigger mess. Just ask big YouTubers like Alex from iHateEverything who got into a fight with Derek Savage a few years back.

Now, you need to find the procedure for each website how to make a DMCA Take Down claim or anything related to that. Here are a few links that found that can help you if you need it:

WordPress: https://en.support.wordpress.com/our-dmca-process/

Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/dmca

Evernote: https://evernote.com/intl/nl/legal/ip-compliance

Instagram: https://help.instagram.com/454951664593304

Blogger: https://support.google.com/legal/troubleshooter/1114905?hl=en

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/help/contact/208282075858952

Twitter: https://help.twitter.com/forms/dmca

Fill in the required forms and DO read what you fill in. This can be a very serious process but fill in everything to the best of your ability. Do realize that you have to prove that you are the owner and creator of the work and you will have to provide permalinks to the stolen content and the original work. This codex entry of WordPress explains a bit better what permalinks are: https://codex.wordpress.org/Settings_Permalinks_Screen

After you fill in the required forms, you have to play the waiting game. Some requests can be taken care off in a few hours, others can take up to a week! Be patient and if further theft occurs, make a new DMCA Take Down.

Also, speaking from experience here, be as complete as possible. If a blog copied 53 of your articles, to provide 53 links WITH proof (original source) to avoid having to make a secondary DMCA.

Add in the DMCA comment box if the account also breaks other rules posted in the terms of service. In one case, I was able to get the account suspended without a DMCA request but with proving the blog was spamming and using an automated bot to post content to their account. This was enough for a certain company to suspend the theft from their site and fully remove it.

Now, onto the second part of this article. What if your content is stolen by a hosted WordPress blog? Well, first of all, you need to know the basics of how IP addressing and web hosting work.

Here is some help to get you started: TCP/IP explained, IP explained, DNS explained, how website hosting works, and WHOIS explained.

I’m not saying here that you need to be an expert in computers or internet technology to deal with this. If you don’t know what you are doing, please ask help at people who know more about computers and know more about networking.

First of all, do a WHOIS search on the offending blog. If the website is hosted by a company, you will get an abuse address. Before you mail this address, do check out the website of the hoster. If the abuse mail you got from the WHOIS search is for example:

abuse@thisisanexample.com

Go to “thisisanexample.com” The part behind the “@” is usually the website of the hoster. If not, google that email or part of that email.

Look at the terms and conditions of the hoster and act accordingly. If they have a live helpdesk, talk to the helpdesk and ask them what to do. Also, they can confirm if the website is hosted on their servers or not.

Mostly these mail addresses are in the lines of “abuse@hostname.com” or “legal@hostname.com”.

When looking in their Terms of Service, look at what they require from you for a DMCA take-down request or a take-down request. Provide the needed information to company and hope for the best.

Now, I had the bad luck that addresses that WHOIS gave me for the self-hosted blog wasn’t the host of the website but the owner of the domain. Now, the trick here is, either look at the name servers of the domain (mostly ns.hostname.region) or open “CMD” on a Windows computer and launch the following command.

“tracert website.com”

Replace “website.com” with the offending website. More often than note, the last trace will spit out the IP of the website and the hoster.

If this is still not helping, abuse pingbacks. Yes, I’m finally going to talk about it. When you get a pingback from another website, you usually receive an email. Guess what, the IP address of the stealing website is at the bottom of the email.

Use the IP address you get from the email to further do WHOIS searches and this is how I found the actual host of the website which kept stealing from me. So, do link articles you wrote so you have some pingbacks. If the theft bot steals your content and forgets to either disable the option and/or forgets to remove those links, you have their IP. I call it “pingback trap”. And it worked twice on the theft bot.

So, I found out who was hosting this thieving website, I mailed the helpdesk of the hoster and they forwarded me to their legal team and voila, the website is now being taken care off.

Final pieces of advice

If your and other people their work is stolen from a website, do content the other bloggers and writers. In my battle to take down the stolen content, I had two blogs contact me back and we agreed to all put in a DMCA takedown notice. Not too long after, the website was gone.

Do realize that taking down stolen content can eat hours of your time. Keep a journal or notes of what you did and who you contacted for what. Otherwise, this can become a big mess. Don’t get demotivated from this.

Do warn other bloggers about the theft. The action I took was the PSA Drakulus and I wrote together. The support from other bloggers can be so uplifting. All the reblogs and people lending an ear to vent out your frustration can help quite a lot.

If you really want to protect yourself and your blog from theft, don’t let this be the last article you read about it. I read a lot of articles and watched hours of YouTube videos on this subject to learn from what others did. I also talked to other content creators what they did and how they took down the stolen content.

So, there. That’s all the advice I can give. Thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed and learned something from reading this article as much as I enjoyed and learned from writing this. I hope to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

This post has been written by NekoJonez from NekoJonez’s Gaming Blog. This post is written to spread information about his experiences with content theft. NekoJonez isn’t a lawyer and please; if needed to seek legal advice. I’m not responsible if you don’t do your research or don’t read something for the consequences.

PS: if you need any help on content theft, feel free to contact me. I’ll try and do my best in helping you whereever I can.

PSA: See stolen content from content creators? Content theft!

Today, I had an unpleasant surprise this morning on the train to work. I found out that two websites actually stole my content! This was such a let down since the amount of content that was stolen from me is more than just one article. It’s almost all my articles from December. While I was working on contacting other sites and blogs that got content stolen, a good blogging friend of mine Drakulus wrote this article. And it’s actually a great lesson to learn. 

What do you if you come across stolen content? Do you ignore it? Or do you do something about it? What if the stolen content you come across is yours? 

WordPress is a great place to publish content of all sorts. Some people like to use it as a diary. While others, like myself, us it to express their love for gaming by reviewing games, writing excellent opinion pieces, and being active within the WordPress community. Some people, however, don’t use WordPress for any of those things. They use WordPress to steal another people’s work and post it as their own. They use it to make money by leaving half links to the creator’s blog to avoid suspicion and they use it to attract followers that would have no idea that the content that they’re reading and enjoying belongs to someone else. That’s what we’re here to talk about today. 

A fellow blogger has had a good chunk of his content stolen by two different blogs. The blogger is NekoJonez and he and I decided to write a piece on how to prevent something like this from happening in the future. The blogs in question are wponlinetutorials and proxly. Now I know I can’t accuse someone of theft without proof. How’s this for proof? (original article, written by me)

That post was taken from NekoJonez without his permission and posted on that site. He wasn’t asked by the owner of the blog if it was okay. They just took it and posted it as their own piece of work. That’s not cool and something needs to be done about it and that brings me to the point of this post today. 

NekoJonez note, if you want more proof, just look at the dates of my article about Nintendo Pocket Soccer Club. I published mine on the 10th of December and this ripoff blog published it on the 17th December. Yeah. 

If you want to do something about this to prevent this from happening again we need to look out for each other. We need to report these people that are doing this crap so they’ll know we’re serious about defending our hard work. I don’t know about you, but it takes me a few hours to write a single article sometimes. And if I knew someone was profiting from my work I would be pissed too and that’s why I’m doing this. I went through both blogs and noticed a lot of stolen content. Most of it is from NekoJonez, but other blogs were stolen from too. 

We’re bringing this issue to light and you can too by opposing this. Stealing is bad and shouldn’t be tolerated. Help us take these guys down by reporting them to WordPress. Click here to file a complaint. If enough people come forward and do this WordPress is going to have to force this person to remove all their stolen content or remove their blog completely. 

Let’s stand together and defend our work from thieves that are looking to profit from it.

NekoJonez here again. So if you notice other blogs or websites just copy and pasting somebody else’s content without using it in a good context, notify the content creator as quickly as you can. Personally, I wouldn’t mind people quoting me or using excerpts from my article to talk about their points, but if you copy the whole article, that’s another story. The content creator always needs to give permission before you use it, it’s just etiquette. 

I really want to thank everybody who already helped me file complaints about this so we can resolve this issue as soon as we can. I’m really thankful to all other bloggers who actually reported the stolen content as well so this will be resolved.

If you notice my content ever being stolen from another blog, use my contact page/DM me on Twitter or any other social media platform.

If you notice other bloggers content that gets stolen, like I said before, contact the blogger in question before you take action. If the content owner wants you to report it as well, he or she will ask.

Also, try to not make a big fuss about it at first. Why am I saying this? The reasons are simple, don’t wake sleeping dogs AND don’t give a website unneeded traffic. Who knows, they might have a system with links setup, that every time they get clicked they earn money.

I think I can speak for all of us content creators here, we are always thankful that our audience reports stolen content to us. This way we can avoid people abusing our content and avoiding creators giving up on following their passion!

It’s never fun to see your content stolen since you put your time and effort into it. Having to deal with researching, contacting hosts and WordPress and other blogs who got content stolen is so time-consuming and you lose time spent elsewhere in your life. On the other hand, you could argue that we shouldn’t care, but what’s the point then of writing content again?

Thank you for reading this PSA written by me and Drakulus. Thanks for all the support and help! Feel free to tweet this article out, share it on Facebook or on any social media platform so we can raise awareness to this issue and start fighting it.

(PS: How ironic would it be if this article gets stolen from NekoJonez’s Gaming Blog and posted on one of those bot/stealing websites)

Creative Christmas #12 – Game Of The Year (2017)

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Yesterday was the final day of double articles since the holidays are almost over for me. So, I to start today with is the final article in the creative Christmas collab I did with LaterLevels. It was quite an enjoyable ride and I hope you all enjoyed the stories told in the past few days. The question for today is a question that sort of relates to yesterday’s article where I talked about my favorite games of 2017. Now, I have to make a hard decision. Just look at the question to understand why. Also, remember, this is my opinion here okay? 

You wake up the following morning, hungover but happy – you have an entire day of gaming ahead of you. You start thinking back over the video games you played during 2017; what was your game of the year?

This year had a lot of great games released. While I haven’t played them all, I do have to admit that I had a lot of fun. While I personally dislike picking one game and putting it at number one, to say it’s the best game made that year; I’m going to do my best this time to pick a winner.

So, the rules for myself here are: the game had to be released in 2017 and I had to play it for at least a 3 hours. This narrows down my list to quite a few games. It makes it easier to work with too.

layton lady katrielle mystery journeyThe first two games that I scrap from my list are two amazing 3DS titles. Those are Metroid Samus Returns and Ever Oasis. Both games are great, but I felt that I enjoyed other titles more this year on the 3DS.

Now, I’m left for the 3DS with the amazing titles of Corpse Party and the new Layton game. Since the Corpse Party game is a more an expanded port/remake of the PSP version of the game, I’m going to put the new Layton game in favor for the handheld games. The first nominee is Layton’s, Mystery Journey.

BreathoftheWildFinalCoverIn terms of systems where I can play the newly released games on, I think I can still count the Wii U. While barely any games released this year for the platform, one of the biggest titles ever made on the platform. I’m talking about The Legend Of Zelda – Breath Of The Wild.

This game was finally released after years of waiting. I’m assuming that the needed all this time to polish up this game. It’s an extremely large game and there is a lot to do in the game.

Now, I do know that this game got a lot of prizes at the Game Awards this year, it got even Game of the Year from the press and critics at that show. But, will it get my spot for my game of the year? Well, keep reading this article to get your answer. Unless you spoiled yourself and already read the bottom of the article to get your answer.

A Hat in Time2But before I can say which is my game of the year, I do have to look at the PC. I have also played a ton of games on the PC this year. Games that were released in the past and games released this year. If I have to pick one game for the best game this year on PC, it has to be “A Hat In Time“.

This game surprised me to no end! I’m still amazed at how much fun this game is. This game also knew a long development process and it’s quite clear that the developers really want this game to be the best it can be. They try and fix reported bugs as quickly as they can. They also talk to their fans over at their Discord server.

Also, I’m waiting for the upcoming DLC that this game is going to get in the near future with more vanilla content. Meanwhile, I’m keeping myself busy with various mods and trying to 100% complete the game and get all achievements. For my game of the year pick on PC, I have to say “A Hat In Time”.

Now, let’s think about that, what game shall I put as my game of the year in 2017? Now, I think it’s best that I only pick a game that I have already beaten. That means that Layton’s Mystery Journey falls off my list.

This means that the selection is between Breath of The Wild and A Hat In Time. Now, I’m going to surprise a lot of you readers. If you keep in mind that I’m such a big Zelda fan and I have put over 120 hours into the game. While I only put roughly 20 hours into A Hat In Time and it’s a new IP.

But, my game of the year pick has to go to one game, a game that won by an extremely small margin. And the winner is:

A Hat In Time

Why not Breath of the Wild?

Oh yes. A Hat In Time. Now, why didn’t I pick Breath Of The Wild as my game of the year? Why does a Zelda fan pick a different game than a Zelda game as his game of the year? Now, let me explain where I’m coming from here.

First of all, I think that some mechanics of BOTW don’t really fit the Zelda Universe. I know that the Zelda formula needed some changes and some new ideas, but I feel like they changed a bit too much. Personally, I adore the open world and all the various things you can do in the world, but still.

I miss the lengthy dungeons and unlocking every new skill in a sort of order. Now, what I mean here is that this game misses two big elements. One is the large dungeons since the divine beasts aren’t long enough. In addition to that, I feel like the first part of the game is just, too restrictive. All the powers you can use in the game are given to you at the start of the game.

I would have loved a way to discover the world and discover some areas and find those powers myself. This would have been a much better way to introduce the player to the mechanics.

Korok-SeedIn addition to that, I feel like the game is a bit too big for its own good. I’m not complaining that there is too much or too few content, but I feel like some shrines and some korok seeds where a bit uninspired. For example, I felt that there were too many “Tests of Strenght” shrines.

botw shrineI think I can explain myself the best by saying that Breath of The Wild misses something in my opinion. I think the issue I have with the game is that it is too repetitive. Please, don’t misunderstand me now. I’m not saying that the game is bad or that it isn’t a Zelda game.

After you looked for a few shrines, did a few Korok Seeds or did a few side quests, you have seen all the main mechanics. Of course, they are used in different situations, but some things just feel the same with a different coat of paint.

Also, after a while, you feel like you are overpowered and you can handle anything in the game. There is barely anything the game can throw at you to surprise you. Besides, powering up the enemies you find in the wild.

Besides that, I do feel that the game missed something big. Why can’t I have two save files without having to fear to lose access to one? If that’s possible, please tell me. Since I want to start a new save file in Master mode without being afraid that I lose access to my “non-master” mode save file.

Why “A Hat In Time”?

Hat In Time.jpgSo, why did I pick “A Hat In Time” as my favorite game of 2017? Well, the first reason is that it’s the biggest surprise for me this year. I didn’t know I would have so much fun playing that game.

So, remember that I kinda felt that BOTW was repetitive after a while? Well, A Hat In Time doesn’t have that at all in my opinion. Sure, each level requires a healthy dose of platforming, but you are doing something different each and every time.

In one world you are in a world between two different movie directors and in the other world, you are running errands for that big creepy monster that stole your soul. The game oozes with personality and cuteness. Even the finer details like wearing a raincoat during the rainy levels and playing with dolls as an idle animation is the strength of this game.

While it’s a rather short game, I feel like everything is polished to near perfection. I rarely felt that I was unable to do something in the game.

This game made me even enjoy stealth gameplay, something I personally dislike a lot of games. But, Gears For Breakfast made it quite a lot of fun to play. Thank you view cones for that!

For some reason, since I started to play “A Hat In Time”, the game sort of stuck with me. I lost count how many times I listened to the soundtrack while I was at work and I had various tracks from it as my ringtone or my alarm.

In addition to that, I had various scenes from this game as my desktop wallpaper on my computers and my smartphone.

The competition was fierce this year, but I’m still surprised that this game didn’t make it on barely any big awards list. For real, I did an experiment and that is to google “Top 10 PC games of 2017” and looked at all the lists that the first three pages gave me. And I found this game only on 2 lists!

Maybe I’m fanboying a bit too much about this game, but I feel like this game doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. This game proves that it’s possible to make an amazing game using crowdfunding.

While it’s extremely hard for me to choose between Breath Of The Wild and A Hat In Time, I feel that, in my opinion, A Hat In Time is just the better game. Not by much.

If I would be allowed to pick two games, I would surely pick Breath of The Wild AND A Hat In Time as my game of the year for 2017. Yet, both games deserve the praise and recognition they get. Both games were delayed several times to polish the game and make the game better for it.

Both games were amazing games and made me so happy to be a gamer. These two experiences were the best times I had in 2017, gaming-wise. If you feel a bit salty for my pick, maybe this can help. My game of the year from triple-A developers is Breath of the Wild and my game of the year from indie developers is A Hat In Time.

So, that was my answer to today’s question. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing this article. I hope to be able to see you in another article on my blog but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

 

Creative Christmas #11 – I Promise That …

OrnamentsTrim_treetoppers99792-171002_1506972985225It’s the final day of the year. So, it’s time to make promises what we shall try to accomplish next year. If we do this collab with LaterLevels again next year, I might be able to come up with an overall theme, but for now, I’ll stick with the theme I have been using. A random introduction where I talked about not having a theme and getting distracted by the question asked. Oh, I shouldn’t have revealed this until the end of the series? So, tomorrow will be the final question in this collab? Oh. Well, let’s first answer today’s question.

Midnight rolls around and it’s time to pick a New Year gaming resolution to see you through the next 12 months. What’s your choice for 2018?

If I’m allowed to make promises with myself of what I want to accomplish in 2018 in terms of gaming, I think I’m going to repeat something I said in my “10 games I look forward to playing in 2018” list.

I want to play a lot of the games on my backlog. I do have a long backlog of games that I still want to play and/or beat. Thankfully, a few of those games get a port or a remake of a system that I own, or about to own. If you want to know more about that, read my previous article.

skipper and skeetoWill this mean that I stop collecting for a year? Not at all! I’m actually going to try and find copies of games I’m missing in a series. For example, I recently bought Skipper And Skeeto 3, since I didn’t own that game yet.

If you don’t know Skipper & Skeeto, I wouldn’t blame you. Since it’s a Danish edutainment title made by Ivanoff. The Belgian company Transposia brought this series to Belgium and the Netherlands. I live in Belgium, by the way.

So, in 2018 I’m going to continue to try and complete my Transposia collection. I have around 36 games already, but that’s far from complete. Since they brought so many games here to Belgium and the Netherlands, I can’t count them all.

Besides that, I’m going to try and finish the index I was working on. The last index I made from my collection dates back to three years ago. And since then, my collection has grown quite a lot. Besides that, it’s just a simple word document listing all the titles I own. I want to create something bigger, a sort of Excel sheet I can use to quickly filter if I own the game already or not.

But, that’s a project for when I find the time for it. If I would finish that, it would take quite a long time to produce and develop. Since I want to be able to also draw numbers out of that file and that means I need to set it up quite well or otherwise it will have wrong numbers.

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Besides that, I’m planning to buy a Nintendo Switch in March 2018. While I’m a huge Nintendo fan, I wanted to wait a year to buy the Nintendo Switch.

The reason for that is, I wanted to see the system first build up a library of games I’m interested in before I went out and bought the system.

Now, I have a lot of titles I’m looking forward to being playing DooM and Xenoblade Chronicles 2. I’m actually tempted by buying The Legend Of Zelda – Breath of the Wild again for the Switch, to be able to take the game with me. But, on the other hand, I think my money would be the best spent elsewhere since the library of games for the Switch is large and other games deserve my attention.

You know, this is the curse of being a game blogger and (retro) game collector. I keep finding new games to play and enjoy, and I rarely finish them. Including some developer requests, I keep enjoying myself with those games quite a lot, but I don’t finish the games.

In conclusion, I want to create a database/index of my collection that I’m happy with. I’m also planning to buy a Switch in March of next year. Besides that, I’m planning to try and finish a lot of the games on my backlog that I still want to play or beat games that I haven’t finished yet.

So, I’m quite curious if I’ll be able to do all these things in 2018. Since I’m quite a busy fellow and I don’t always have the time to finish every game I started. Maybe I should try and do something about me being so curious to buy new games.

In any case, you will be able to continue to read my adventures through the land of video games by simply reading my blog and/or my twitter feed. So, thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did 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.

Creative Christmas #10 – Time to fit a new outfit!

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2017 is coming to an end. The final two days have started and everybody is looking back at what an eventful year it has been. Various top ten lists are appearing left and right and it’s time that I do the same. Today and tomorrow will have a top ten list published at 8PM about this year and the upcoming year. In any case, I’m not saying this to hide the fact that I don’t have a theme for these articles yet. So, that’s why I’m first going to get dressed and answer today’s question. So, LaterLevels, what question do you have in store for today’s collab?

You’ve been invited to a swanky New Year’s Eve party but have nothing suitable to wear! Which video game character do you call to ask if you can borrow an outfit?

LaytonWhile I can choose for an easy answer and say the suit of Professor Layton and go all classy, I think that would be too easy. I think the better question to ask myself is why do I want to cosplay as?

Since I personally think that only borrowing the costume of said character would be too easy. As an amateur actor, I would also like to play the role of the character I’m using the clothes from you know?

Oh, if you didn’t know, I’m an amateur actor. I have played a role in 5 plays, where I play one time a lead role. It was quite a lot of fun to do. So, whenever I can act out a role, I don’t hesitate to do so. As long as my self-confidence is there to back me up.

OneShot_cover_artOne character I would love to cosplay as is Niko from OneShot. For real, this is an adorable chap. While I would love to talk about him and his game, it would spoil way too much. For real, if you are into unique adventures and puzzle games, check out OneShot. You will understand why I fell in love with this game so much.

Satoshi_MochidaAnother character I want to cosplay as is Satoshi from Corpse Party. I mean, this would be a great choice for me. Even when he isn’t wearing anything special, I would be so surprised if people recognized me from Corpse Party.

Satoshi is such a caring soul. Especially when his younger sister is involved in something. I can relate to his personality quite a lot and he is one of my favourite characters from the series. I only wish that the Corpse Party was a bit more mainstream so I would be easier recognised when I cosplayed as him.

Somebody who would be more noticeable would be either Phoenix Wright or Miles Edgeworth. To be honest, I would also enjoy cosplaying as Detective Gumshoe instead of them. I dunno why, but the cosplaying as somebody else from the series; those three clicked more with me. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, they are characters in the Ace Attorney franchise.

The biggest issue is that if I wanted to cosplay as somebody, I wouldn’t take the obvious ones. I would take somebody who isn’t easy to recognize or hasn’t a million cosplays of that character already.

Oh, I think of something fun. Hey, LaterLevels, what about I cosplay as this guy? Would you cosplay as Elaine? You may even pick which generation you like best!

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For those who don’t understand what I’m getting at, Kim from LaterLevels is a really big fan of Monkey Island and the image above displays Guybrush Threepwood from that series.

But, I think I’m going to turn the question around. Who do you think would be a great cosplay or have a great outfit for me? Let me know down in the comments! Also, who do you would to have their costume or cosplay at? That’s also something you can put in the comments.

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

Creative Christmas #9 – Holiday Gameplay

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Today in the collab with LaterLevels, I have to answer another question. A question in a series called “Creative Christmas” and I still don’t have a theme for my articles yet. So, what should I do? Should I just give up finding a theme or should I keep looking? Maybe I should sit down on the sofa and think about it… Perhaps a great idea will come to me. But, I think better if I play a game. So, it might be a great idea that I take this controller and start playing this game. What was the question today again?

 The presents have been opened and dinner has been eaten, so you’ve got a bit of time for gaming while Gran is snoozing on the sofa. What’s the best video game to play during the holidays?

wargamesSo, what’s the best game to play during the holidays? Well, I prefer longer games to play during holidays. Games that can take you a couple of hours or days to complete. If you would finish a game too soon, what else should you play during the holidays?

In the past, I used to play one game and fully devote my time to it. Even when I had such a big collection, I wanted to see everything that game had to offer before I went to the next one. Nowadays, I play a lot of different games in a week. That has two reasons, first of all, I like the variation in what I play in a week. One day I feel like playing an RPG game and another day I more like playing a puzzle game.

So, what game can hold you over during the holidays? Here is a list of games that can be great time wasters to play during the holidays.

One,  a sandbox game like Minecraft or Terraria. Since these games have a randomly generated world, there is always something new to discover. Personally, I prefer Minecraft over Terreria, since I enjoy the more relaxed focus of Minecraft compared to the bosses and such in Terreria. I’m not saying that Terreria is bad in any sense of the word, I enjoy Minecraft more.

817pmfOZsTL._SL1500_.jpgTwo, an RTS game like Age Of Empires III or Europa Universalis IV. I can enjoy myself a lot of rounds in RTS games. Every time I choose a different nation to play with, the game will go completely differently. Even when I choose the same nation twice. I really enjoy the gameplay of RTS games, even while I’m not the best in the combat system. I’m also unable to beat the AI at the harder difficulties. But, honestly, I don’t really care. I’m enjoying myself and that’s all that counts.

Three, an (open world) RPG. It speaks for itself that an (open world) RPG can give you hours upon hours of fun. I’m talking about RPG’s that have multiple endings like Stella Glow or Mass Effect. But, games where the focus is more on the open world also count in this category like Breath of the Wild or Fallout.

Four, party games like Mario Party or Mario Kart. I mean, do I even need to explain myself here? Games that you play while you are together with your family and/or friends?

I think I could make this list a lot longer, but the question is: “what’s the best game to play during the holiday season.” I thought about it for a while, and to be honest, I think there isn’t one single game that fits the bill perfectly.

I use the holidays as a way to either catch up with my backlog or to have long playing sessions of games I wanted to complete.

Also, the answer changes each holiday season I think. There are a few games I replay each and every year because the nostalgia is just too strong. Games like Phantom Hourglass, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine and the Zelda Oracle games are perfect examples.

You know, this will sound extremely cheesy, but I think it’s best that you play a game that you enjoy and can relax with. The holiday season is a time to be happy and relax. Even when it’s together with family and/or friends. Just make amazing new memories and perhaps you will be able to find that one game you can play during the holiday season. The game that can have that kind of a special meaning to you.

So, that’s my answer. Told you it would sound cheesy. I do hope you enjoyed this article as much as I enjoyed 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.

 

Creative Christmas #8: Nomnomnom

OrnamentsTrim_treetoppers99792-171002_1506972985225So, now that we had the Christmas party and the gifts, I think it’s time for food. Oh, I am not allowed to go on the dinner table when I don’t come up with a theme for these articles? Man, that’s unfair. I’m writing in a creative matter here while you would be able to enjoy the delicious foods served. I’m trying my best to come with a good idea for this LaterLevels collab you know. So, please let me eat while I think of a theme and answer today’s question.

It’s now time to head out to the kitchen to put on your oven gloves and start preparing Christmas dinner. It consists solely of video game food; what’s on the menu?

Besides pre-heated stuff and a few extremely basic things, I haven’t cooked on a day in my life. I haven’t played a lot of games that talk about food either. So, I had to look through my game collection for an answer.

One thing is for sure, most of the things I remember in terms of food are the strange food things happening. Like in Stella Glow, how Lisette’s cooking always turns purple or how Chloe only wants to eat meat in Etrian Odyssey Untold 2.

One game that involves cooking in a way is Minecraft, but that would be a bit cheap to put the food items of that game on the list. Since most of the food items in that game are food items you can eat in real life. Besides the purple fruits, but do you want to teleport to another location each time you take a bite out of your meal.

So, instead of giving a long explanation of which types of food I would like, I think it would be a great idea to make any of the foods in Breath of the Wild. Actually, if you want to make them in real life, don’t worry. I know an excellent blog you can use for that! It’s called Sheikah Plate.

As an appetizer, I could take some glazed veggies, as a main dish I could take some salt-grilled gourmet meat and some apple pie as a desert.

That could be one possibility. Since I’m playing Etrian Odyssey Untold 2 lately, it would be fun to give foods I would love to try in the real world. Here you find an overview of everything in the game. Beware of possible spoilers though when you click that link.

Here are a few screenshots of the pieces of food I would love to try:

Of course, there is a lot more I would love to try from the menu, but eating it all would be impossible I think.

The food in Monster Tale also sounds quite interesting, to be honest. But, you feed it to your monster pet to let it grow. So, I think I better not eat that, since I think there are some special growth hormones in it.

(Talking about food, dear Glados, you still owe me a cake!)

Before I end this, the food I wouldn’t put on my menu are the following:

  • Any meat from the Castlevania series. You never know it came from a wall or a monster drop.
  • Anything from FallOut, the radiation would be off the charts. No thanks.
  • A bottle of Pepsi from the Pepsi Man, that will be shaken up as all heck. So, I don’t want soda in my face.

I think you get the idea. In any case, I think I’ll leave it here. To be honest, I don’t know enough about food to make a decent and long article so, I think this is the best answer that I can come up with. Besides, in almost all the games I play, the food is somewhat realistic so far as I can remember.

So yeah. Forgive me for a shorter article. In any case, I thank you so much for reading and I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing this article. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

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.

Creative Christmas #7: Present Time

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And we are back with the Creative Christmas series, a collab I’m doing with LaterLevels. To be honest, during the past two days I was too busy with family parties. So, I was unable to think of a theme for this series. Okay, I have to admit that I thought about it, but I wasn’t able to implement. I thought of one where each article was a page in Santa’s diary, but then I wouldn’t answer for myself. Another idea would be where I would talk about if my answer would be in the naughty or kid side of Santa’s book. Well, maybe with the help of a present I can think of a theme. I got a new Mario shirt and a new compressor to blow out electronic material. But what’s this? Another question about presents for me to answer, let’s take a look! 

Your help must have worked, because it’s now Christmas morning and presents are under the tree! There’s a fancy box with your name on it; which gaming-related item are you hoping is inside?

If I would ever be able to get a certain gaming related item, I would have to divide my answer into two parts. First of all, real existing items. Which game-related items would I want that truly exist?

Besides a boatload of games that I want in my collection and a few consoles I want to have and start collecting for, let say which piece of merchandise do I really want to have?

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For me personally, I would love to have some more merchandise of the Bioshock series. I know that there are some nice looking t-shirts and bags out there.

If you would give me some merch from the Bioshock series, even when I already have it, I would always be happy. The Bioshock series is such a great series that is near and dear to my heart.

The same counts for merch from the Zelda series. I’m in love with the Zelda series and I would love to own a bit more shirts and merch of it. Oh, or the mangas that I don’t own of “the Zelda series” yet would also be a nice gift to get.

Now, there are a few games I know that there is barely any or no official merchandise on the market. But I would love some merch for it anyways. These games include Ace Attorney, Monster Tale, Stella Glow and the Zero Escape series.

Actually, if you ever need to give a gift to me; anything game related merch would do the trick for me. Because I’m a game collector I enjoy getting something game-related. You would make me even happier if you relate it to a game series I like. And you know those series if you read my blog or talk to me.

Now we come to part 2 of my answer. What if I’m able to get a fictional game item in the real world. This is going to be interesting.

You know what would be nuts? If I would be able to get any of the transformation masks for The Legend Of Zelda Majora’s Mask into the real world. Then again, what practical use would it have besides the cool factor? Besides, it wouldn’t be that much fun since I would have to use these while nobody sees me or I would be used for experiments and all that jazz.

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Then I thought about getting the Harp of Ages or the Rod Of Seasons from The Legend Of Zelda Oracle of Ages/Seasons. It would be so close to reverse the flow of time or change the seasons at will.

While messing with time presents a whole different host of problems, the same can be said for the Rod Of Seasons. If I would be able to change the seasons at will, I might destroy the planet with it. So, that’s not a good idea either. Besides, the rod only seems to work on sawn-off tree trumps and those aren’t around too often in my area.

The notebook from Scribblenauts would be pretty interesting to own as well. I would be able to summon what I want and when I want it. Then again, if this would fall into the wrong hands, dangerous things can happen and we would live in a strange world.

While it would be amazing to have any video game item in the real world, I think it would cause a whole host of other problems that might bring me into greater trouble. If the problems are solvable, you would have to put the practicality into question. Since not everything from the land of video games would have a use in the real world.

So, if I would be able to avoid any trouble, I would love to have the items I listed above these paragraphs. Yet, I think that the answer that was expected in the questions was more the 1st part of this article. I see the second part of this article more as a fun thought expirement.

That’s my answer for today. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

You can find other bloggers their answers here.

Review: Nintendo Pocket Football Club (3DS – eShop) ~ Let’s Play This Match

Nintendo_Pocket_Football_Club_(GER)Official website

From time to time, I tweet about a match I’m watching or I just watched. I’m a casual soccer fan. When a game is shown on TV, I go to my grandfather to watch. Apart from that, I don’t follow a lot of soccer. When I saw a Nintendo soccer game a few years ago on store shelves, I was interested but never bought the game. Until a few weeks ago, when it’s was on sale in the Nintendo eShop and I bought it with the money I had left over. And now, it’s time that this game plays it’s most important match, the review match. I’ll be the referee of this game, so I hope you are ready! If you want to shout something to the referee; especially your opinion on the game and/or my decisions in this match, go ahead in the comments! 

The goals

Nintendo_Pocket_Football_Club 2

So, this game scores a few goals. Let’s take a look at what goals this game scored.

In the first few minutes, this game scored with the visual presentation of this game. The artwork and the sprites blend together quite well. While the animation during the matches can be somewhat lacking sometimes; I think that changing them would destroy the charm of the presentation. That makes the 1-0 for the game.

The game scores a 2-0 with the overall gameplay during matches. Each match can go in many different directions. One time, I didn’t save after a match, restarted the game and replayed the same match. I did this five times, each time I got a different outcome. You will never know what you will get. During the matches, the game can be very tense. It’s a balancing act in when to substitute players, changing tactics and hoping for the best. There is an additional layer of strategy since you can only change your strategy when you substitute your players or during the break period of the match. And during the break period, you have more options to change your strategy so your decision will count.

Not only that, you need to balance your team as well. The 3-0 goes to the training system. This is done with trainer cards, which I will expand more on later. But, you need to make sure that you don’t lose players since they rarely played or played too much. To manage your team well and who knows, you might be able to transfer more expensive players to your team.

The 4-0 is scored by the random element in this game, called the trainer cards. During a match, you gain a certain amount of random player cards. You can use these player cards to improve your players. If you combine them, you can make special combos which improve the player’s stats more than if you would use them separately. Also, you need to think about what stats you need to improve. For example, you don’t need to learn a keeper how to dribble, since he almost never needs to dribble. But, it’s a great idea to improve the jump stat of your keeper.

Surprisingly, the game scores a 5-0 with the sound design. Personally, I wish that there was music playing during the matches, on the other hand, I’m glad that they didn’t. Since it adds to the realism of the game. The only complaint I have about the sound design is that the goal scoring jingle doesn’t always play when your team scores when you are the “away” team. Minor nitpick really.

The game also scores a 6-0 with an interesting in-game manual. The game also explains some terms for players who aren’t that well known with soccer. Neat.

The 7-0 is a goal with the customization of the game. You can design the shirts of your team, the logo, and the name. When you want to redesign or rename your team, you can do that when you want, when you aren’t playing a match.

The kicks to the woodwork

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So, this game could have scored more points but they missed a few chances in this game. Let me start with the first one.

The backing system is where they had a missed opportunity. While I really like the concept, I’m really displeased with the fact that you loose backing when you play either a draw or lose a game. Personally, I think that you shouldn’t lose backing when you draw a game. Also, I think that you shouldn’t lose backing when you lose a game on certain occasions. For example, when you lose 1-0 from a team that is placed in the highest league when you are in the lowest league, that’s a big accomplishment of your team that shouldn’t go unnoticed, since, in the real world, fans would be happy with the play of their lower ranked team.

The game also hits the goal post with the trainer cards. While they are quite interesting to use, you don’t have a list of what cards make a combo. When you select a card, other cards will sparkle if you used them to make a combo in the past. But, when you have never made that combo, you won’t see them sparkle. Also, on my playthroughs, I noticed that I get a lot of the same cards each and every match.

Something that isn’t present is an autosave feature. Which can be a be a blessing and a curse. To me, it’s a blessing since I can restart a game when I’m not happy with the outcome of a match. But this can be considered cheating too…

The goals of the opponent

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Sadly enough, the game got a few goals in their own goal as well. Let me talk about those.

The 7-1 is scored due to the lacking controls sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that this game has unuseable controls in any sense of the word. But, sometimes the controls are so picky that you lose a lot of time with it.

For example, you need to confirm when you change players from a location in the field. Also, on the screen where you decide to swap players, the “L” button bugs out sometimes. When you go the bench with using the down arrow, the prompt of the “L” button changes when I’m at the 3rd player.

The 7-2 is scored because the UI lacks some information sometimes. While the UI is very well put together, I really wish I was able to see the stats of the player I wanted to replace. But, you can only see the stats of the player your cursor is on. In addition to that, when you use the “Y” button to swap players, you can’t see the stats of the players.

Outside of the matches, the UI can be annoying sometimes. I think that the biggest issue is that the game lacks some information screens. Like, how many times a player scored in the “players to watch” screen. Or on the screen where the players ran, you can’t see where the keepers ran.

The 7-3 is scored because I think that the offside rule is programmed a bit strangely. I’m under the impression that when a ball is going towards another player and when a player is running offside, the fault of offside is given. This is very frustrating.

After that, this game suffered another goal; making the score 7-4. This is due to the lack of options for the game. You can’t change the length of a match. When you leave a match early, you don’t get a lot of player cards and most of the times, your team automatically loses. Also, you can’t see in the history of a rival team to see how strong other players are and who to watch out for. You need to base your judgement on the stats of the players that you can only see at the start of a match. Oh well.

It can be very repetitive when you need to sit through each and every match. The 7-5 is made by the lack of “simulating” the match or just give you the result.

But, the biggest flaw of this game is the 7-6, that’s the extremely harsh difficulty curve. What I mean here is that you don’t get enough information out of the game to improve your team and find out where your team is lacking. Minusworld says that’s it’s an uphill battle sometimes.

The game can be very difficult and unforgiving sometimes, to the point that I wish there was a rollback feature. Sadly enough, this isn’t present.

The 7-7 is scored because I feel that the game doesn’t explain some mechanics enough. How do you make a player not have the “balanced” play status? What’s the best combination for a midfielder? Those things are for you to find out and you don’t get any hints for the game about this. This should have been handled better.

And that concludes the match, now it’s time to give the final analysis of this game.

Final analysis

So, due to the structure of this review, I won’t be listing off the positives and negatives like I usually do in other reviews. I’m going to close off this review with my overall thoughts on this game.

I think that this game isn’t great nor bad. The game sits somewhere in the middle for me. If I would need to give points, this game gets a 65/100 for me. While I expected more about this game, I really had a fun time trying to survive with my team and try to find out what works and what doesn’t work.

Each playthrough, you learn more about the pitfalls of the game and you learn more mechanics. While the game can be repetitive from time to time, watching those matches of your team makes the game exciting.

A very important thing to remember is something that MinusWorld also said in his article about this game. You need to remember that you aren’t 100% in control of your team. You can set the general strategy and such, but you don’t play the matches themselves. If you look at this game more as a sort of casual-ish football club manager sim than a football game, I think you will get more enjoyment out of this game.

This isn’t a bad game, but the harsh difficulty and the lack of explaining certain game mechanics can be a real deal breaker for some players. Give the demo a chance and decide then if the game is for you or not.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Gamers Thoughts: From idea to article

BannerBlog3Today, it’s time to talk about something else. In the past, I have written a few articles on the gaming industry and the blogging world. Today, I’m going to tell you what before I click on the “Publish” button. Yup, let’s talk about the steps I take to create an article for this blog. This is my current process, so things might change in the future. But it might be interesting to share it, no?  Also, to avoid making this article too complicated, I’m only going to talk about how I write my gaming articles like my first impressions, reviews or game quickies. Feel free to leave your methods in the comment section below.

Phase 1: Picking the game

 

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So, how do I choose a game to review? Well, to answer that question, I should answer how do I choose which game to play?

Let’s get the easiest part of the answer out of the way first. Sometimes, I get a mail from a developer asking me to take a look at their game. Then, some emails happen. We discuss what the article should be about and what things I can or can’t mention. I have to stress that I hate censoring. If I’m not always to express my full honest opinion, I’m not going to write the article. Since I think that lying to the readers of the article is a bad idea. On this blog, I always express my honest opinion on the games I play, so that would be too much out of character.

So, the more difficult part of the answer is when I don’t get a mail from the developer to take a look at their game. So, what happens then? In my free time, I play a lot of games and when I find a game that interests me, I write it down on a list. It’s text document in my cloud storage so, I can access it at anytime and anywhere.

While I make schedules for my blog, I’m truly terrible at following them. The reasons for that are emails from developers that I want to first or games that interest me and that I want to write about that aren’t on the schedule. In very rare occasions, I choose the game that I’m going to write about on Sunday morning and then I play the game all day. That happened a few times already.

That’s why I rarely to never share my schedule. Since I know it can change at any moment. Not only thanks to emails from developers but you can never predict life. Also, I think I’m more creative when I don’t plan out my articles too much. Apart from deadlines or agreements with developers, I rarely plan a date for an article.

Phase 2: Playing the game & analyzing it.

This phase speaks for itself. I start playing the game and write down some notes on my phone or tablet. In the past, I wrote everything down. Each thing that could make it in the article was written down.

I stopped doing that. Since I noticed that I didn’t use all my notes to write the article. Also, it broke the immersion and my focus on the game when I had to take notes.

So, what I do for notes now, is write down the things that I shouldn’t forget about the game. And let me tell you when you do this for a few years like I have, you are able to write articles without taking notes sometimes. So hear me out on this, I think that a review or a first impression should be a reflection of your experience. If you are unable to remember some negative aspects like an annoying puzzle or two, a few boring levels or a strange dialogue… I don’t think it’s worth mentioning in an article. But, I’ll go more in-depth about that later in this article.

Last year, I wrote an article where I talked a bit more about this phase. I wrote about how I analyze a game. So, here are a few things I didn’t mention in that article. I’m very picky when it comes to UI. I love it when I don’t have to go through five different menus when I know it would be possible in two menus. If you have a clear menu system, it’s more inviting to the player.

I’m very picky when it comes to UI. I love it when I don’t have to go through five different menus when I know it would be possible in two menus. If you have a clear menu system, it’s more inviting to the player.

I honestly enjoy tutorials to a certain extent. What I mean is that I enjoy tutorials when it explains the basics of the game without holding your hand too much. For example, that the explanation of controls is a sign you choose to read. But, when you have already played the game in the past or when you understand the game mechanics already, you can skip them without an issue.

For how long should you play a game before you can write an article about it? Well, my rule is that when I have played the game for more than 4-5 hours, I can write a first impression about it. I only write a review about games that I have finished or beaten. But, wait, what if the game doesn’t have an end goal or is unbeatable like Tetris? Well, then I review the game when I think I have seen or experienced enough to review the game.

Phase 3: Research & Writing

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So, I have played the game and/or I have beaten it. Now, it’s time to research and write the game. Like I said in a previous article, I have a habit of listening to the soundtrack of the game I’m writing about. This helps me to write and sometimes it helps me to remember the experience.

Also, when I’m writing, I have the game open near me. For example, when I write about a 3DS game, my 3DS is in front of my keyboard while I’m writing. When I want to quickly test something or refresh my memory, it’s just a second way.

Things I always check are Wikipedia/Wikis & Metacritic. I check Wikipedia to check if there are any interesting facts of the game I didn’t know about like it’s development history or something similar. If there isn’t a Wikipedia page or doesn’t have enough information, I look for a Wiki on the game.

Why do I check Metacritic? Well, not for the score or anything of that nature. I just find it very handy to see other articles on the game. What did other people think of the game? What are their positives and negatives?

Another thing I do is the “searchability and presence test”. I enter the name of the game in different search engines and on different social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube… to check what other people like or dislike about the game.

That test and the information I get from Metacritic help me to write. Now, I don’t copy somebody else’s opinion, but when you see sentences in my article like this: “A common complaint is …. and I (dis)agree because…” or something along that nature, well, that’s the consequence of that.

A very handy website is howlongtobeat.com. It’s very difficult to tell how long is a game is and this website helps a lot with that. This website allows me to talk about if the game is long enough and things like that.

When I start writing, I try to continue to write everything in one piece. So, when a link needs to be put in, I put it in before I continue with the rest of the article. What I do first is write the introduction and then the headings. After that, I insert the images of that article. Then, I put in brackets what part of the game I’m going to talk about in that paragraph. So, that way I know what I’m going to talk about in and give the article some structure.

So, how do I decide what to put in an article? Well, that’s a tricky question. To be honest, my answer to that is simple. I use my gut feeling. When something doesn’t feel right to mention, I don’t mention it. I also try to give my honest opinion what I think about the game and what I liked and disliked.

How do I decide the length of an article? Well, I try to have around 1000-1500 words. The reason for that is that I find it the perfect length to talk about the game with enough depth. If I make the review longer, it can be because of two reasons, either I have a lot to talk about or I got carried away while writing and I don’t want to cut out certain sections.

After I have written my article and the conclusion, I always go over the article with two spell checkers. I use Grammar.ly  for almost a year now to fix various spelling mistakes and after that, I copy the whole article into a Word document to double check. After that, I read the article myself and fix and/or tweak any other spelling mistakes I can find.

Then, the article is almost ready. I add all the tags and add it to the right category or categories. After that, I click publish and check if the post reached all my social media pages. After that, I update my overview page and go on with my day. I either start up a game that I want to write about next week or do something else.

Wrapping up

So, thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing this. It honestly felt kinda strange writing down how I write articles. Honestly, this is my general workflow but sometimes it differs from article to article slightly.

My main goal with this article is to give a look behind the curtain on how I write articles. Also, I tried to give some tips and tricks if you are a starting blogger looking for some advice. Don’t copy my workflow, but try to improve your own.

I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

First Impression: TimeShift (PC – Steam) ~ Rewind

TimeShift_coverartWikipedia link

If I only was just a bit more to the left, I could have survived. That’s what I sometimes think while playing a first person shooter. And then Time Shift shows up in the Steam Store. I remember that I had a poster of it in my room. When I saw it, I was thinking about how the game could play. Shaping levels inside my head and drawing them. Anyways, I played the game and I’m still playing it here and there. Let me say, it’s a special experience. The people who know me, know that I barely play any shooters. But this is worthy of an exception. But is it a perfect game? Well, I’ll explain my first impressions in this article. Feel free to leave a comment on the content of the article and or the game. Thanks in advance. 

Scoring badly?

When I was researching additional facts for this game, I came across several reviews. Now, since I haven’t finished the game, I can’t review it. Yet, it surprises me that there are people giving this game mediocre points and high points. I didn’t read them but I think I know from where they are coming from.

galeria_galeria_duze_182426125I usually start my article with talking about the story. Now, this story asks a lot of the player. It’s quite possible that later in the game, the story gets explained in more detail but at the start… The story is just all over the place.

After more careful examination of the story, I came to a conclusion. It’s generic until the point I played. The issue is that somebody altered the future and it’s your job to fix it. At least, that’s what I make from it. How do I know? I had to piece those things together myself.

This actually is a reason why I don’t play the game each time I have the chance. The game doesn’t pull me in like other games can. If it starts to make sense, I will talk about it in my review.

Is that a bad thing? Well, yes and no. It’s a problem because it doesn’t draw you in as much as other shooters do. But it isn’t a problem because the player is allowed to make up the story a bit by themselves.

Slow-motion

timeshift-screen-1Did you ever wanted to play with the bullet time of the matrix? Well, now is your chance. At the surface, TimeShift looks like your everyday futuristic shooter. What sets this game apart is that you can play with time.

As long as the blue bar has energy left, you can either pause, rewind or go in slow-mo mode. And the enemies behave as they would if such technology existed. You see the enemies die in slow-motion or they don’t move an inch when you shoot them when you paused.

Your powers are actually essential to survive. And here I have another complaint. The AI of the enemies is not bad but there are parts where you can jump down to get cover in a sewer pipe without the enemies following you.

Now, that’s cheap. This way you can recharge your powers and as soon as you need to “regen” you powers, you can go hide again. Maybe that’s different on the higher difficulty settings but hey, I’m no pro shooter gamer.

Now, I advise you to mess around with the settings so that they fit your play style. Not that there is anything wrong with the standard control layout, but I’m a gamer who uses the arrows instead of the letters to move. I’m weird like that.

The game looks extremely well made. While I was afraid that my laptop wouldn’t be able to handle the game, I was proven wrong after I updated my graphical drivers. The game looks amazing to run around in and to play. I love the design of the places. Each and every new area they throw at me feels polished and ready for a big fight.

More stuff

galeria_galeria_duze_182421828Now, the enemies can call for help. While I haven’t seen reinforcements arrive ever, I might haven’t played the game for long enough. That brings me to the sound design. That is a strong point in this game. When I’m playing with my headset, this game sounds amazing. I feel like I’m right in a real war zone.

With the great graphics and the good sound design, this game is really intense to play. I actually shouted a few curse words because I was drawn into the gameplay so much.

And I think that’s the strong point of this game. The gameplay. It’s really well made. While the story isn’t all that good, the gameplay is where it’s at.

Now, the music isn’t helping. It isn’t bad but it isn’t great either. I don’t remember many tracks of TimeShift. I’m crossing my fingers that this game gives me better music that I might keep listing to after beating the game.

This game has a “Field Of View” slider. And I’m so glad that they have that. Because I decreased my FOV, my laptop runs this game with a rather nice frame rate.

A big advantage of this game is that you can buy it for a rather low price on Steam. It’s only 15€. That’s quite a low price for a gem like this.

Now, this first impression might be tad bit shorter then the others, but I haven’t played it too much yet. I wish I had more time. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed reading this article. If I ever finish this game, I’ll surely follow this article up with a review.

My wishes for future updates of Minecraft

minecraft-logo

Website of Minecraft

It’s no lie that I like MineCraft. But as a player since Minecraft 1.4 Beta, I think there are a lot of things lacking. In this blog I tried giving my better idea’s a chance. Dinnerbone or Jeb, if you read this, feel free to take my idea’s and use them in whatever way you want. I just placed them here to share my idea’s since I felt like it. Anyways, feel free to write in the comments what you guys think about my idea’s. Are they good  or are they bad? And what idea’s do you guys have to implement in the vanilla Minecraft game? 

Idea #1: Better durability bars.

o0IuWIn one of the recent updates of Minecraft you can see the durability of an item by pressing F3 + G. Yet, you only can see this in the inventory. What would be extremely welcome is that if you also press that shortcut, the durability is displayed above the bar.

In my original survival let’s play, I had a mod enabled for this. It’s sadly discontinued now.  But it was a welcome mod to see how much uses there was on my pickaxe or sword left. It was buggy when it had the unbreaking enchant. But in the Durability 101 mod for Minecraft 1.5.1 everything works just fine.

Idea #2: More stuff in the ocean or less ocean.

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When I was gathering idea’s for this article, a convention happened where Jeb told us that they are going to revamp the ocean biomes. Finally, since  there are simply way to much oceans in one single Minecraft world.

But also, only squids in the ocean? What’s wrong with some ocean life? Some coral plants would be lovely to have. But like DocM77 on the MindCrack panel said and I agree an awful lot, is that there should be some sharks or more ocean life.

This might not really be my original idea but it’s a much requested feature in Minecraft. But thankfully in Minecraft 1.7 it’s going to happen. Or that are at least the plans.

Idea #3: Make the Creative mode more complete.

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There is a petition on the Minecraft forums and mods like Too Much Items include this. Mobspawners in the creative inventory. They are missing and that is a sad thing.

The new Minecraft creative inventory was a very welcome change but enchants like Sharpness I aren’t in the creative inventory. Why?

Also, the big mushroom blocks aren’t present in the creative inventory. Which I think it would truly benefit from.

And why isn’t the command block in the creative inventory? It would truly benefit from being there.

Also, a feature where you can create fireworks thanks to looking to a list and enchanting the same way would be welcome addition to the creative mode of the game.

Idea #4: (Let) silk touch (keep the color).

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Why does grass or leaves change to the default color when you pick them up with silk touch? I can understand that a block need to change from color when placed  in a certain biome but what if I wanted some darker oak leaves in my build? It would give more freedom.

Like Infinity, I would remove the “I” after Silk Touch. It’s simply extremely silly to have that number there. But as amateur Java programmer, I can understand why it’s easier and more efficient to put the number there. But I think it isn’t useful at all to have it since it confused some (not that bright) players before.

Idea #5: Potion arrows

brewing-05-add-glistering-melonImage being in a PvP battle and you create a potion of poison. But you missed throwing it. That sucks so much. But also, when you want to give a potion to one person in PvP, you need to have some distance and that’s not helpful in tight combat.

But what if there was a special bow that could shoot arrows together with a random potion from your inventory?

In PvP this would make things more random and challenging. Since you might shoot off a health boost for the other player instead of a damage potion.

I talked this over with a few of my friends and they thought it would make for some new gamemodes or open a whole array of new possibilities.

There are several mods already with ice, fire or electric arrows. While this is also a good idea, I still doubt about the crafting recipes.

Finally, the end of the article.

That are all my idea’s that I currently have. To be honest, I have more idea’s but I thought they weren’t good enough to make the cut. It’s possible that I might write another article on this here, so I hope to see you next time here.