Archive | October 2015

Celebrate The Small Things: 30 October

I went to a beat ’em up tournament over the weekend. As a spectator, not to play – I haven’t actually played a beat em’ up in ages. It was a new experience and allowed me to put some names to faces. While it had that fun competitive edge to it, everybody was incredibly polite. Afterwards I hung out with a few friends at the pub. I think I might have settled some of my differences with somebody. Actually, we really got talking about horror games, which is great because most of my friends don’t get them. (Oh, speaking of which, I finally got myself a copy of Alien Isolation.) We went to the card game shop too and played a few later on. I’d been drinking mead – purely medicinal – so my head wasn’t as clear as it could have been, but I won Citadels, yay!

This week has been a bit up and down really. I’ve been dealing with a really bad cold, and it’s giving me constant headaches and rather oddly dizziness. As a result I’ve been doing things at a slower pace, but I still managed to get some art and a little bit of programming done. I’m feeling a lot better today anyway, thankfully in time for Halloween. I’m really excited because we’re starting Until Dawn tonight – my boyfriend made me wait – and we also have plans to go out tomorrow. I have the excuse to dress up like a cat.

We did plan to see Jurassic World in 4D – you have to pre-book because of limited places – but everywhere was jammed and we couldn’t get parked, so we missed it. I was really disappointed, but it seems to be an increasing issue these days. Making plans outside the house feels like a gamble as to whether or not you’re going to get there, even if you set off early with the best intentions. However, despite the tickets saying they were non-refundable they were actually really cool about it and gave us our money back in full. I guess they’re use to dealing with this; A few others have told me that they also missed showings on that day due to how busy it was. It’s not the first time its happened to us either. We can always try again another week now though.

I finally got around to playing Life Is Strange. My friends been on at me about this for a while now. It was a really interesting story about a girl that could time travel. Felt a little emotional at the end.

Happy Halloween!

f5f01-vik-smallthings2Celebrate the Small Things is a weekly celebration created by VikLit and now hosted by Lexa Cain to celebrate the happenings of the week, however small or large. You can learn all about it and sign up for it here.

One Lovely Blog Award – Game Maker’s Edition

one-lovely-blog-awardI’ve been nominated for this award by KG of Taking Over The World With Games, to whom I’d like to say thank you very much. Please check out their blog and give them some support. This particular award is focussed on game makers. Admittedly I haven’t actually written much about any of the games I’ve made yet as I’m still working up the confidence to do so. Making a good game is actually really tough and intimidating, and so it’s great to see this kind of encouragement.

The rules are:

  • Link back to the blogger who nominated you
  • List the rules and display the award
  • Add 7 games that you loved
  • Nominate other game makers and let them know via a comment

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The Power Of Quitting

There are some wonderful thoughts on the blog ‘Into the Imagination Vortex‘ exploring the difference between letting go and giving up – Letting Go Gratitude and The Hunt For Resentment Gratitude. We frequently attach certain emotions to set actions, such as quitting. The problem is that such actions are neither good or bad, but just the decisions we make depending on the situation that we’re in. By only thinking of quitting as being a negative thing, we discourage ourselves from doing so when it’d be beneficial. A better way of thinking about it is that we’re letting go to free ourselves up for something else.

Letting go can be hard. It can make us feel like we’ve failed. We may feel guilty for letting others down. It could leave us feeling empty for removing something that we’re associated with. We may even feel grief for the loss. It also takes a lot of courage to commit to a decision that might result in us facing a new and uncertain future. The easy option is to continue plodding along as we always have, but that might not make us happy in the long run. I personally find that the biggest concern I have to making changes is in telling other people about it, because their own fears can fill us with doubt. I use to be more comfortable with giving lots of things a go, even if I was unsure. I was figuring out what was right for me by eliminating what was not. Only, there was this one time where a decision to quit was followed by words of disappointment. I know I did the right thing, because I was very unhappy, but it has put me off from trying new things. While it’s understandable that others will show concern for the decisions we make, only we know what feels right for us.

I’m not advocating giving up however. I’m a big believer in perseverance paying off. Choosing to quit is usually an informed decision, while many of us give up due to self-doubt and fear. To give up is to relinquish control, preventing us from being the person we want to be. Letting go on the other hand is to clear out what we don’t need, just as we throw out the clutter to make space in our homes. If we’re not careful we can be lumbered down with interests, values, beliefs or expectations that stopped working for us a long time ago. Choosing to get rid of this baggage can be an incredibly powerful decision to make as it frees us up to try out new possibilities. Just like the clichéd saying tells us, when one door closes another can open.

The video ‘Why To Quit‘ by Brendon Burchard is another excellent exploration of this topic that I recommend checking out.

Celebrate The Small Things: 23 October

I made a decision to quit some projects I’d been working on this week. It’s difficult to be able to say ‘I’ve had enough of this,’ but actually I feel more free and better for it. Knowing when to quit is powerful in and of itself, because it gives us more time to explore other avenues. Speaking of which, I found that I was able to invest much more time on my game development this week and it helped being able to fully focus. I worked on it all day and into the early hours of the morning. I haven’t felt like doing that in a while, but I just got into that flow and it felt good.

I got two prototypes done. I’m not actually happy with them as I’ve been struggling to balance, but its inspired a new idea that I’m really looking forward to giving a go. I’m getting better at learning to let go of everything needing to be perfect, which is ridiculous anyway. I feel less stressed and can enjoy it more as a result.

In general I’ve just been feeling a bit happier in and of myself this week. It’s probably too early to say but I think my attempts to be more mindful have actually been paying off. I also have a few plans to look forward to over the next couple of weeks. To everyone reading, enjoy your weekend!

f5f01-vik-smallthings2Celebrate the Small Things is a weekly celebration created by VikLit and now hosted by Lexa Cain to celebrate the happenings of the week, however small or large. You can learn all about it and sign up for it here.

The Subjectiveness In Horror Gaming

For a game to be in the horror genre it either needs to try and scare the player or carry a dark theme. Therefore we could argue that the success of a horror game is dependant on how scary it is because that is what separates it from other genres, only it’s not that simple. Finding the scariest games can almost seem like an obsession with no shortage of lists and fans eager to debate. From this spawns the gamer that will tell people they are silly for finding something scary, I admit to being a little surprised myself by what people admit to finding too scary, but I’m also aware of the fact that fear is mostly subjective.

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#1000 Speak For Compassion: Love

compassion1000 Voices Speak for Compassion was created with the intention of bringing compassion to the internet by selecting a theme to write about on the 20th of each month. This month’s theme is love.

At first, love was just a word that I spoke to show I cared, it was a while later that I realized what it meant to fully feel it. When I encountered love it felt natural and right, there were no doubts. For this other person I am happy to surrender my own individual needs to make them happy. I think more importantly, real love is able transcend all of our flaws and imperfections. In fact, we often love people because of all the ways in which they’re not perfect, or we’re at least able to be more forgiving of their mistakes. Unconditional love brings us warmth and security, knowing that we’ll always stand by each other through the thick and thin. Life is after all, a roller-coaster where there are no guarantees, but I for one prefer not to ride alone. Love can carry all sorts of different meanings to each individual, but one thing that I know for certain is that from the moment we are born we are deserving of it with no strings attached.

Our love doesn’t just have to belong to a few, but also to the communities that we consider ourselves to be a part of. This might include the entirety of our culture, the area where we live or groups of shared values, beliefs and interests (the connection we get through blogging for instance.) This type of love allows us to give without requiring anything in return; It motivates us to make contributions and to help others. The desire to protect the things we love drives some people to extraordinary lengths. Just by being a part of this world we belong to something, and together our love and compassion will influence what kind of place it is to be.

One of the main things that I would like to cover is something that I’ve come to realize recently, and that is the ability to be self-compassionate. Sometimes I put up walls to avoid getting hurt, but in doing so I also risk blocking out any people that are worth connecting with. Not only am I no longer able to share my love with the world, but I can’t receive it either. Although, the most hurtful criticisms usually come from within; Then I punish myself for having such thoughts, which only makes it harder to dispel them. Practising a little self-compassion is far more effective. We’re all human, so it’s ok to make mistakes – it’s how we learn. Learning this about ourselves also makes it easier to extend that understanding to others. If we don’t expect perfection from ourselves then we can’t expect it of others either. Learning to embrace our vulnerabilities together can give us a feeling of release and empowerment. Love also requires us to be a little vulnerable from time to time, but acknowledging that we are still deserving of it makes it easier for us to let it in. I guess this sort of goes full circle back to my initial explanation; Ideally love isn’t something we should feel like we have to earn.

There are times when it can feel like a challenge to offer our love because we consider a person’s behaviour to be distant or hurtful. Sometimes people lash out unintentionally due to low self-esteem, insecurities or simply because they’ve had a bad day. Unfortunately, not everybody has felt equally loved while growing up either. Many of us have been on the flip side of heartache too. Some will want to push love away as a result – I guess like me putting up my walls. However, this is probably the time when people most need our support and compassion. Sometimes we all just need a little reminder of what love feels like to help us to pick ourselves back up again.

Celebrate The Small Things: 16 October

A while ago I tried to play this game that crashed up and ever since my computer hadn’t been working right. I was getting freezes, more crashes and last week it went to blue screen. It was still usable, but causing me a lot of stress. I’d been putting off reinstalling my operating system just because of the hassle of getting my software set up again and then I figured I might as well get a new hard drive at the same time. Well I finally got around to it over the weekend, backed up all of my files and put in a SSD. Its fixed everything and my computer feels like it’s running a lot faster now. Some of my games were actually unplayable before due to graphics glitches and now they’re running with no problems whatsoever. Still getting my software and files sorted out, but I’m glad to finally have a fully working computer again. My phone was also getting old and starting to frustrate me, so I got that sorted too. Yay, no more tech issues for the time-being.

Even with setting my computer back up I managed to find some time to work on my game prototype and I think I can finally say I’m done with this one at least. I just need to get Android SDK set up again so I can make an APK and then get some feedback from the guy I’m doing this for.

It’s also Pizza month so we treated ourselves to a takeaway – yeah, any excuse.

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Celebrate the Small Things is a weekly celebration created by VikLit and now hosted by Lexa Cain to celebrate the happenings of the week, however small or large. You can learn all about it and sign up for it here.

My Thoughts On SOMA

Every so often a game comes along that I can’t stop thinking about. I’d been looking forward to Frictional Games’ SOMA for a while as the themes I noticed in the trailers instantly intrigued me. What I got was a more thought provoking experience than I even anticipated. I won’t be revealing any major spoilers here, but with the nature of what this game is, it’s difficult to talk about without revealing anything. I will be briefly mentioning the enemies later on as they are a major component to the experience. If you’re interested in playing the game then I would recommend doing so with the surprises still intact. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but it may be a bit hit and miss if you have a preference for gameplay over story.

I feel like I’ve experienced something really special with SOMA. I think ‘experience’ sums it up better than just simply calling it a game. The story was incredibly dark and sombre, building up gradually throughout. When the ending credits suddenly appeared with that soft piano tune I felt a little melancholic, but in a good way obviously. There were some difficult choices during the experience that took me a while to consider; From what I can tell they have no direct consequence on the gameplay or story, but if they had it might have actually influenced the decisions I made. They serve their purpose in getting you to think more deeply about the theme. This is existential horror, getting you to question what it means to be human. It’s incredibly effective so long as you allow yourself to be fully emotionally engaged with the experience, which isn’t difficult to do because it’s so well put together.

What particularly stood out to me about SOMA is the level of detail in the environments. I don’t think at any point I noticed any repetition. Everything feels like it belongs, whether you are in or out of the water. The audio is also varied and incredibly creepy at times, although this is something that I’ve always found Frictional Games to be very good at. If there is one criticism I can make it’s that some of the dialogue is a bit cheesy and there is a lot of it, which can be distracting from the sense of atmosphere. The thoughts of the main character are probably crucial to the narrative however, as it gets you to connect with what it feels like to be them and from that arises a lot of questions about your situation. I found that I was able to care deeply for the characters and their outcome, making it all the harder to deal with some of the choices I had to make.

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Canary Island Cats

cat07One thing that quickly becomes apparent when you visit The Canary Islands is that there are a lot of stray cats. We usually try not to get involved with such cats, but we were given very little choice. On our first visit we were taken off guard by a large group of kittens gathering outside one of the windows. We opened the shutters to let the sunlight in and they were just sat there, staring up at us meowing. Then a brave ginger one made a leap and the rest followed. Before we knew it we had dozens of cats running around the bungalow and had to guide them back out. I think the previous resident had been feeding them or something because they seemed to hang around where we were staying. I couldn’t sit on the patio without having them attempt to jump up onto my knee. They were very entertaining however; On this one night they were playing on this lilo, jumping onto it from a greater height and bouncing off. Although the lilo looked deflated the next day so I wouldn’t recommend leaving them out.

Making themselves comfortable in our lodgings

Making themselves comfortable in our lodgings

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Celebrate The Small Things: 9 October

I’ve been settling back home after my holiday. I had a lovely time away and after the initial shock of returning I’ve had an extra spring in my step. I’ve been doing a little bit of programming and art this week, and also worked on my colouring book while listening to relaxing music – wanting to keep that chilled out holiday feeling. Although, rather in contrast to this, one thing I was looking forward to getting back to was being able to give Frictional Games’ SOMA a go. I’m not finding it too scary, but I’m not disappointed with it. I’m actually quite impressed by the level of detail in there. It’s not much longer till Halloween, and I’m getting into that horror game mood again. I also found a collectors edition guide for Diablo 3 for just £5. I usually only get guides for games I’m really fond of – just as a collector – but I’ve been playing Diablo recently and that seemed like a really good price.

I had a lovely and unexpected surprise the other day. Some mail arrived from another country and I was confused as to why I’d be getting anything from there. Turned out to be a letter from a pen pal I had 10 years ago. Apparently they kept all of my letters and had included a photocopy of one. That was a bizarre blast from the past and it sort of made me cringe to see how much I’ve changed. It use to mean a lot to me to be able to write those letters because I struggled to find like minded people or to connect with others when I was younger – well I still do a little in all honesty. It’s pretty flattering that they’ve remembered me after all this time and I can’t wait to write back.

I finished another book from the A Song Of Ice And Fire series while I was away. Two more to go.

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Celebrate the Small Things is a weekly celebration created by VikLit and now hosted by Lexa Cain to celebrate the happenings of the week, however small or large. You can learn all about it and sign up for it here.