Tag Archives: games

The shame of The Stack: extended

It just dawned on me that I don’t just have The Stack when it comes to videogames. And by that I don’t mean anything dirty – I mean a stack of unfinished or unplayed games that anybody who has taken a passing interesting in gaming will have, either literally or metaphorically.

I’ve had The Stack in other areas for years and not even noticed, but it’s just become clear to me just how great I am at accumulating things and how bad I am at doing what I’m supposed to do with them. I have a large box full of books, you see, and I’ve probably only read a quarter of them. I fully intend to read all of them, but it’s unlikely that I will for the next few years or something.

Yet I’ve just spent that last few days perusing Amazon for books I want to add to that particular stack.

Open my cupboard next to my bed and you’ll find hundreds of DVDs in there. Now there was once a time where there were hundreds more and I had barely watched half of them, but since the great eBay purges of the last few years it’s been mainly narrowed down to about 30-35% unwatched. A good ratio, I must say.

But when you take into account my hard drive of “LEGALLY ACQUIRED” movies, that percentage goes batshit in the wrong direction. Hoarding: it’s not the best thing to do.

But hey, at least it makes me feel a tiny bit better about not playing All The Games – I’m equally crap at following through on everything else, too.

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I’ve tried, but I’ve failed

I’m not willing to admit defeat just yet, but I can feel it getting closer. It’s there, behind me. I can feel its presence. Hear it breathing. But it hasn’t taken me down, and I won’t go down easily. I honestly don’t know if I’ll prevail – I’ve been trying to make things work out for months now, but I just don’t seem to be making progress. But I will not give up. Ever. Until I am dead, possibly. Or until I give up.

I’m talking, of course, about touch screen controls for more old-fashioned games on the iPad. Specifically, Speedball 2. The kinds of games that need a joystick/pad and buttons to play, and so have them overlaid on the screen you are playing on. I just can’t do them properly.

I’ve had the iPad for a couple of months now and I’ve tried all manner of games. Tilt control ones annoy me but if they work well enough, it’s okay. Those made with touchscreens in mind from day one are, naturally, nigh-on perfect. Though I do find my massive gammon hands getting in the way a bit much. But it’s those that rely on an old-fashioned input method that just screw me up, and try as I might I just can’t get it perfect.

I’m not a douchebag from the planet Idiototron IX – I can play these damn things. It just doesn’t feel right. I need clicking, resistance, physical boundaries. Without all of that, I can see myself living a very lonely life, ultimately dying unfulfilled and forgotten.

No, wait – I can see myself remaining unconvinced by the ‘overlay’ control schemes on some iPad games. That’s what I meant.

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This post does not contain SATIRE! about iThing owners becoming zombies. Damn.

Why did nobody warn me the iTunes store is as dangerous as it is? I’ve only ever bought one thing on it before, and that was a single song about a year ago. As such, my brain isn’t up to speed on how it all works. As a result of the life-changing, twat-becoming news the other day, I went to browse the available games to see if there was anything I would actually want to play on the iPad.

Now, fortunately I didn’t go mental and only spent about a tenner, but it struck me as decidedly odd that you can make it – literally – a one-button purchase. You click the price of the app, it’s yours. Obviously that’s brilliant in that it’s simple, to the point and you don’t need to dick about, but I can see myself being drunk, bored or drunk and bored and ending up with £50 of stuff I do not want or care about.

As for the… jesus.

I’ve just realised it’s already started. Twice in one week I’ve written a blog about my iPad. Which I don’t even have yet. I’m already turning. I’m like the bloke on the zombie films who hides his bite, slowly watching the infection manifest itself into an orgy of gore and brain-fuelled sustenance before his one-time friends have to put him down by destroying him in whatever way they can. Either that or I’m the one who gets bit and everyone knows he’s been bitten, but they decide to keep him around as he’s useful and they like him until ohmygod he starts to turn and it becomes the heart-wrenching moment where the best friend doesn’t want to pull the trigger and then he has to because his former friend is now lunging at him, trying to claw his eyes out with his dirty zombie fingers.

Something like that. Read into it what you will my talking of iPads before going off on a tangent about being a zombie. It could almost be devastatingly arrogant satire, if it weren’t for the fact I only noticed I’d done it after writing it. Sigh. This comedy career will never go anywhere.

Still – I got Harbour Master HD!

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The end of the World… of Warcraft.

I have recently lost someone in my life to the blight that is World Of Warcraft. I have had a chequered history with this game and now, once again, it has raised its ugly head, got all up in my grill and insulted me to my fat face.

I have never played WOW – which for some reason is hard for people to believe. For one, I don’t like the thought of paying a monthly subscription for a game. As for two, well – I know damn well I’d be hopelessly addicted within a day, so I don’t want to risk it. I have Football Manager. It’s my methadone.

But I’ve known many people in my life who played WOW, and who still do. My time in CEX was littered with stories about The Horde and guilds and other shit like that, as 90 per cent of people who worked there played religiously. I didn’t give in to temptation. I made a stand. I held my nerve and managed to stay strong.

And now, many years later, Darling Sweetheart Girlfriend has taken up the Warcrack habit. I fear I have lost her forever. I attempt to start a conversation – an interesting one, naturally – and her response arrives with 12.4% less enthusiasm than it did the other day (pre-WOW). I may have to start punching to get the attention I deserve.

I mean, honestly – who gets addicted to video games? They’re for kids and nerds, right? Only losers play them, etc, etc. Ho ho, the bitter ironing.

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Working in CEX was the best/worst time of my life… ish

I worked in CEX for 364 days of my life, and in that time I realised they were the best and worst days of my life. Well, maybe not that far. It was the best and worst job of my life. Well, maybe not best. And it’s bound to be at least pushing for worst because I’ve had so few jobs.

Right, try again: I worked in CEX. I disliked the job, I hated the scum we had to deal with but I liked the people I worked with. We had a lot of fun taking the piss, getting drunk, planning to form socially-aware punk rock bands that also sing about dragons, accidentally going on strike after falling asleep upstairs, being threatened by morons, getting drunk, being unable to open phones and getting drunk.

It’s just a shame the bad points were so massively bad. Not only was it standard shop lore of working menial tasks for low pay (as opposed to now, where it’s slightly-more-than menial tasks for slightly-more-than low pay) and putting up with crap from the public. But CEX is a shop that buys things from the public, meaning this wasn’t the normal ‘crap’ you have to put up with. Oh no. This was a different breed of crap. Spectaculcrap. Some of the most idiotic, moronic, brain-meltingly infuriating dillweeds would come through those doors and stand in that long, long queue.

People – and I use the term loosely – subjected us all to myriad complaints, like the man who (three weeks after I started) hurled abuse at me and threatened to deck me (in front of his kids) because I wouldn’t buy a DVD burner off him for about £2. Oh, and it didn’t work.

Or the guy who tried to sell a game without a cover, which I told him we wouldn’t buy. He responded “oh, I’ll go nab one from Zavvi then”. Minutes later he returned, triumphantly brandishing the stolen game box from across the street and actually expecting me to still buy it off him.

Or the women who tried to sell a phone that looked like it had been gone at with a set of bolt cutters. And, of course, they kicked up a huge fuss when we turned them down.

The man in Hull who accused me of changing his password on his phone as a part of some kind of conspiracy so we didn’t have to buy the phone off him. He failed to understand the concept that I didn’t know his original password so couldn’t have changed it to a new one.

Hull in general. One week of my life I’ll never see again.

That massive guy who would come in 10 minutes before we closed every day with a scratched to balls game that clearly didn’t work to trade in for another. Problem was he was about seven feet tall and absolutely, completely and totally stank – I mean he smelled like he had died or something – to the point that we just wanted him out as fast as possible. He never got any trouble from staff. At least, the ones who stayed downstairs when he entered the shop.

The scrots who would use the front of their trackie bottoms as game/DVD-storing pouches, and would be surprised – shocked, even – if anyone ever questioned why the fuck they used their balls as a carry case.

The multiple idiots who were relying on selling something in order to fund their bus ride home, then had a go at us like it was our fault they hadn’t got ID, or the DVD didn’t work or whatever. Sigh.

The people who just didn’t understand the rules, even though they were printed all over the shop. Though I suppose reading isn’t a strong point.

I could go on much, much more but this will just turn into 3,000 words of bile.

I see CEX staff get a lot of stick on the internet and yes, I agree they can be dismissive, seem arrogant and work in a badly-organised shop that always smells of BO. But the utter dickheads – and these are a brand of dickhead you do not get working in any other shop, unless it’s a pawn shop – the idiots they have to deal with gives me nothing but sympathy for the chaps and chapettes who put up with this gutterscum.

CEX: you were the best of times, you were the worst of times. Well, actually you were just a bit shit. Without the workmates (and the booze) I would have been out of the door in a matter of weeks.

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Everyone is entitled to (matching) opinions

I read this earlier, and it made me smile. It made me smile because it’s just nice to read sometimes that the role of the critic is supported. Part of my job is reviewing video games – offering a judgement on them – so it rang true, as this is the part of the job under the most scrutiny from seemingly everyone in the world.

All too often it seems that simply having an opinion that runs contrary to that of the general populace (i.e. Metacritic’s average rating) means risking scorn, insults, ridicule and even the ire of those that make or promote the game. I want to know why. I want to know why it is that I cannot have an opinion on something that runs against the grain; that goes against what others seem to think. It is, shockingly enough, my opinion and not that of someone else, or the general public. It is not the same as the average, it is not an opinion solely formed to appease Metacritic and it is not an opinion formed to ingratiate myself with others.

It is a critical evaluation of a product, of a piece of entertainment, arguably of a piece of art. It is not a wall to be splattered with the excess foam coming out of my mouth as I gush nothing but effusive praise in its direction, nor is it merely a porcelain receptacle made to welcome any and all shit I want to throw at it.

But I seem to be in the minority thinking this, meaning I seem to be going against the grain again. I wonder what the Metacritic opinion is on all of this.

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Play, create, share… or don’t

Those of you with inclinations towards the world of gaming will undoubtedly have seen the “announcement” of LittleBigPlanet 2 earlier today (another thing ruined by the internet, only this time it ruined it for the internet and not for everyone else like normal). Those who haven’t seen it: it’s a game where you make other games in the game, to make a game that you can play instead of playing at making games. Or something. If I were twattier than I am I’d use the term meta-game in some way, but I’m not, so I won’t.

Anyway, it got me thinking again about the first LittleBigPlanet, about other games that have been popping up seemingly determined to make us create half of the content for us to get any enjoyment out of them. It’s not something I want to rant about, oddly, it’s just something I kind of lament. I don’t see the designers of the likes of LBP 2 or ModNation Racers or whatever else as lazy, or cynical. I just see them as bringing out a product that really isn’t for me.

It may shock you to learn this, what with the derivative nonsense I tend to come out with here, but I’m not the most creative of people. I can string words together, but bar that indie game of which I’ve forgotten the name of (something about sleep) there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of creative games that involve writing. Maybe the Neverwinter Nights mod tools, but they also involve making levels and a game to go with it. Anyway, these are games that aren’t for me, and this makes me sad. I feel left out of the one thing I’m actually really into, quite good at and passionate about.

So please, Mr LittleBigPlanet et al: stop ruining it for Ian.

This lost its train of thought at the end of the third par, as background music confused my tiny mind. Apologies.

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