Distraction: Real Neat Blogger Award

Mainly due to my own laziness, I’ve kept this blog low-profile for years, so you can imagine my surprise when I found out that it was chosen by the invaluable halsdoll for something called the Real Neat Blogger Award. I don’t deserve this kind of honour, but thank you! It’s a welcome chance for some introspection and I love it. And yes, I know my answer comes late but having two jobs keeps me busy… All right, enough excuses.

Hey ho, let’s go, here are my answers:

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1. What is your earliest gaming memory?

It’s funny because I have two such memories and, no matter how hard I think, I cannot decide which one was really the first. What I do remember is that River Raid was the first game I’ve ever played when my Dad brought home a (somewhat battered) clone of Atari 2600 borrowed from one of his friends.

The second memory involves my first visit in a computer store. While Dad was busy talking with an employee, I noticed a kid sitting in front of a 286 PC and playing a game. I sat next to him on a free chair without saying anything and began to watch. At that time, I was really interested in military history, especially World War 2, so you can guess how amazed I was because said game was Wings of Fury. You know, a real F4U Corsair taking off from a carrier, bombing Japanese outposts and then trying to land in one piece. Despite my shyness, I finally asked the guy if he would let me play just for a short while… and he answered with a smirk and a brutal “No!”.

 

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*sigh*

 

Such was the end of my childhood innocence when I learned that some gamers can be real bastards.

2. When did you start blogging and why?

This blog was created in August 2015 and initially was meant to be an antidote to a personal flaw of mine. Since I rarely finish games and my backlog is constantly growing, I figured out it would be motivating to make a list of games I somehow completed. After a while, I found out that the blog is useful for roleplaying purposes and began to write about my fictional player characters, their personalities, goals, self-appointed challenges and restrictions, etc. Another step was to use it to capture fleeting gaming moments in screenshots and words, and generally ramble about the games I was playing. So here I am. It’s very far from perfection but my little WordPress corner has become an important part of my video games experience.

3. What feature do you wish any of your consoles had that they currently don’t?

I don’t own any consoles so I’ll just skip this question.

4. Name a movie that you wish had a video game made after it and what  developer would you want to make it and why?

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There are so many possible choices here. Sadly, halsdoll has already picked up one of my favourite films, Event Horizon, so I’ll have to improvise. How about the Ghibli classic Porco Rosso? It has everything I’d want from a video game. First, it’s the protagonist, a Great War ace pilot, who’s become shell-shocked by his experiences and turned into an anthropomorphic pig. Then it’s the setting, a magical realist version of post-WWI Italy with sky pirates and the Fascist government in the background. Not to mention all those finely drawn Italian planes and air combat. If I were a billionaire, I’d hire both Studio Ghibli and the team behind Beyond Good & Evil to create an open-world game being a spiritual sequel to the aforementioned masterpiece. In my vision, the gameplay would have a twist related to the main story with the government being the main antagonist, slowly limiting player’s freedom of movement and finally forcing them to either run away or die in a desperate last stand.

5. Do you have a games room/corner? If so, let us see it and show your favorite thing in there?

Nothing special here because I spend too much time playing games to care about secondary stuff like merchandise and collectibles. It’s just two shelves in one of my book cabinets with old game boxes and magazines.

6.  Do you have a child or a pet? Which character do you name it after?

Neither. If I ever have a child, he or she will have a traditional name, but I swear that one day I’ll visit a shelter and adopt a Dogmeat.

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7.  What keeps you going when gaming?

Curiosity. I’m always eager to see how the plot resolves, what kind of characters and enemies I meet on my way, what fancy weapons I will find. The other reason is the sense of accomplishment when I finish the game or at least beat a difficult boss or find all the gold stars.

Nominees:

Sorry, I’m posting it so late that it would be simply rude to nominate anyone but if you’re reading this and still want to participate, you have my personal approval.

Don’t forget to link to my blog if you do 😉

Again, thanks halsdoll!

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Looking Forward

Yesterday, I said ‘goodbye’ to 2017 by writing a post about the best game I played last year. Now, the time has become to welcome give the new year a proper welcome. What’s better than doing it by making a little LIST?

Let’s start with the simple part and draw a proper backlog of games I haven’t finished yet. Of course, the minimum to count it as finished is reaching at least one ending and publishing a proper Just Finished post.

In no particular order:

Eisenhorn: Xenos

Gunpoint

Sunless Sea (nope, 700 hours wasn’t enough)

WH40k: Space Marine

Rain World

Skyrim

Volgarr The Viking

GTA V

Fallout New Vegas (of course)

Verdun (it’s a multiplayer FPS so I’ll just get level 100 of experience and quit)

Jalopy

Mad Max

Firewatch

The Final Station

That’s it. Maybe I should start with the last two games because I’ve essentially finished them already and all that remains is writing damn end posts to get rid of them.

Then there are some games, mostly classics, I’m planning to try out – some of them already waiting in the limbo which is my Steam library.

Half-Life 2

System Shock

1979 Revolution: Black Friday

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Portal

Max Payne 3

This War Of Mine

Wings! Remastered Edition

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So much for the list. My most important goal, however, is to completely change my attitude as a player, just as I mentioned in one of the Creative Christmas posts. I seriously need it to become less competitive, focused on score and achievements, and more reflective, enjoying the plot, characters, mechanics, visuals, and so on. Hopefully, the new approach will allow me to appreciate and enjoy games more, maybe take a new, broader perspective, and therefore become a better player. Quite exciting and so much to look forward to in the new year.

 

 

Creative Christmas: Things To Do In 2018

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On the last day of the year 2017, Kim asks the penultimate question in her Creative Christmas challenge:

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

The answer to this one is very easy.

Make Playing Vidya Fun Again

The most important reflection on my gaming behaviour in the past year is that I treat games too seriously. All too often I’m obsessed with finishing every task or quest, finding all secrets, getting all Steam achievements, playing at the highest difficulty level, etc. Eventually, what was supposed to be a pleasant hobby turns into a chore and I become bitter and disappointed. No more! Now I’m planning to simply enjoy games and take a more relaxed approach. Which leads to the second resolution…

Expand Your Horizons

There are so many classic titles I have never touched due to the reasons described above. Now when I’m about to change my approach, I will finally have more time to install and play some games which have been waiting in my library forever, like Half-Life 2. Hopefully, this will help me become a wiser gamer and blogger.

Appreciate Your Fellow Bloggers

With shame, I must admit that I’m bad at being mutuals with other blogs. Too many times I just skim through a post and click the Like button without adding any meaningful commentary or advice. But I promise I will change that and become your Best Blogging Friend ever!

Happy New Year, everyone!

Monthly: November Blood

Just writing a note to myself like the good emperor Marcvs Avrelivs.

Well, maybe October wasn’t that bad, because at least I was able to keep my Weekly post schedule, but it’s still far from enough. So just let make me a to-do-list and hope I can make at least 50% of the plan.

First, I’ll need to finally start publishing Just Finished posts. There are a few games that I completed some time ago and it feels like a burden that I didn’t even mention them here.

  • The Final Station
  • Firewatch
  • Another World

The next step should be finishing the current playthroughs, especially when I’ve left them at the embarrassing ‘too lazy to beat the final boss’ stage.

  • Sunless Sea
  • Space Marine
  • Völgarr the Viking

Finally, there are games I should write about even if, technically, they can’t be finished, but I’ve played them for long that I have a word or two to say about them.

  • Verdun
  • Jalopy

On a side note, I really need to change my way of playing. Less focus on getting achievements and finishing it on the hardest difficulty level, a more playful approach and maybe some experimenting with playing style, classes, custom challenges, etc. We’ll see what happens.

Weekly: Dead Money, Deadly Gold

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Last week I promised to post a picture of defeated Elijah, the charismatic antagonist who imprisoned my Courier in Sierra Madre, but I changed my mind after discovering a non-standard game-over sequence. Without spoiling too much, the final confrontation takes place in a vault which was built deep beyond the casino and contains a large gold stash. Initially, Elijah hides safely behind a terminal screen but, after an obligatory conversation about his sinister motivations and even more sinister plans, it’s possible to goad him into showing up. However, the story of Sierra Madre has another villain, the man who built the entire complex, and you can feel his wrath even if he’s turned into radioactive ashes long time ago. Accessing a certain file in the final terminal locks the Courier underground forever and the game over screen pops out. This gave me an idea…

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After reloading, I repeated the conversation and again boasted about my stealth skills until Elijah lost his nerve and came down to deal with me. This time instead of shooting him into pieces with my trusty Holorifle, I showed him that sneaking comes to me even easier than talking. Now he’s stuck down there behind sealed lift doors and I really hope he finds those gold bars tasty.

The whole Sierra Madre adventure was a cathartic experience because after finishing it I realised that I lost a few achievements due to my bad choices. This means that it’s impossible to finish the current playthrough with every possible achievement unlocked, which was my original intention. Instead, I can finally focus on enjoying the game without worrying about them. Feels refreshing.

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Who would win? A genius scientist who became a deadly warrior and fearless explorer after travelling into another dimension? Or a cast-iron chandelier? I got stuck in one of the latter levels of Another World because I forgot to clear a passage for my alien buddy and there was nobody to literally lend me a hand in that long and deadly corridor. Fortunately, my memory still works fine and after a dozen of frustrating attempts I finally managed to get him through and beat the level. Now it gets really exciting because I’m about to play a part of the game which was cut out from the Amiga floppy version. And some people say that remastered versions have nothing to offer but better graphics and audio.

No goals here because the All Saint’s Day is approaching. This means another Monthly post where I will torment myself with blog plans for November.

 

Weekly: Grande Finale

The Courier’s little vacation in the luxurious Sierra Madre spa seems to be nearly over.

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After leading my three companions to the crucial locations and triggering the gala opening event, I’m finally inside. What a wonderful place! They have a bar, a stage for singers and soft cozy beds! Too bad that the casino complex is simply infested with homicidal holograms and traps, not to mention that the locals decided to pay a visit too, which means more zombie-like Ghosts for me to kill. And then there’s that old bitter man who tells me to do ugly things, or else the collar on my neck explodes.

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The aforementioned trio is inside too and Elijah, the crazy renegade from Brotherhood of Steel, wants me to get rid of them. I don’t like villains telling me what to do (unless it’s Kay-saar), so I try to help my companions instead. First I find God/Dog in the kitchen: he is a supermutant suffering from a split personality, with his ego and id imprisoned within one body. Apparently, his animal side has had enough and wants to finish their lives by opening gas valves and sending us all to hell, but thanks to my Courier’s intellectual superiority he (it?) changes the plans. Eventually, the conversation gives me a chance to help God and Dog become one person again. Believe me, hearing the tone of their voice as they thanked me was one of the few moments in Fallout series when I felt genuinely touched.

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And then there’s Christine, another BoS member, who was sent to hunt Elijah down. She was captured by him in the Sierra Madre town and horribly mutilated, losing her voice and gaining many scars. She’s one of my favourite New Vegas characters so far, even if I spent most of our ‘conversation’ trying to guess her answers. Then I was genuinely happy when she finally recovered here ability to speech. Another moment of warmth in an otherwise cold game.

Eventually, thanks to Christine I’m able to reach the vault below the casino where our common nemesis is hiding. Unfortunately, to reach him I’ll have to beat a literal obstacle course with even more aggressive holograms and speakers making my head a-splode. As usual, I’m playing without manual saving and have to return to the checkpoint after each death, so this will take some time. Expect to see the steaming corpse of Elijah in the next Weekly post.

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Goals for this week: Publish the final post about The Final Station. With screens.

Weekly: Men Among the Ruins

Stealing from the evil Old World and giving it to the poor. Then going for a slow walk through a burning forest.

After a prolonged break, I got back to New Vegas and found my Courier in the same place where I had left him: slowly, painfully crawling through the killing cloud in the abandoned Sierra Madre casino. The reason it’s going so slow is, as always, my obsession with collecting all achievements, which includes snooping through each pile of trash in search of a special deck of cards. Note to myself: next time I should play NV in a more relaxed way.

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The main antagonist, Father Elijah, hardly counts as a villain in my book. Maybe I don’t know his full story yet, but he got my attention with one speech in which, essentially, he pictured breaking into the casino as a revenge against the corrupt Old World which destroyed itself and condemned its descendants to this existence full of misery. Speaking more generally, his determination to reach the goal, the ruthlesness, the weariness behind each word he speaks make him a very relatable character.

All right, Father, at this point I’m ready to forgive you everything, the exploding collar on my neck, poisonous gas and traps everywhere, finally the not exactly charming companions I’m stuck with. Let’s get into that fortress and claim what is rightfully ours.

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Firewatch seems to be the perfect game for the Autumn season. After all, if I understand it correctly, one of its main themes is the passing of things. The great fire will devour the forest just like the coming winter will take all the light and warmth. The people our protagonist loves so much will leave him too, just like the long Summer evenings have abandoned me. At least, in the so-called real-life I can always hope for a new dawn and coming of spring, but after watching the ending I doubt there will be renewal and rebirth for the game’s anti-hero. Actually, I began to despise him for his weakness and passivity, but maybe I’ll write more about it next time.

What is really great about playing it for the second time, I can finally stop following the conversations and focus on the visual side. This time, the goal is to take some screenshots which capture the essence of the game and make a gallery post. We’ll see how it works out.