Archive | December 2015

Thoughts On Undertale

My friend has been talking about Undertale a lot recently. You don’t have to look far to find a pouring of praise for the game either. It even managed to win the ‘best game’ contest on GameFAQs. It’s very difficult not to set your expectations high in wake of this and of course I just had to give it a go myself. At first I was sceptical, but after getting past the tutorial it managed to win me over. It has a lot of charm to it. Unfortunately I found the ending to be disappointing, which left me feeling gutted because of how much I’d enjoyed it up to that point. So here is an account of my feelings towards the game, the good and the bad. There will be spoilers so if you haven’t played it yet stop reading and go check it out. I highly recommend it and there’s a very good reason for why this game has had such a strong impact on so many people. I also advice sticking with the game until achieving the true pacifist ending, as you won’t be getting the most out of the experience otherwise.

In short, what makes Undertale good is that it has great humour and likeable characters. By the end I felt really invested in the game, which just goes to show that you don’t need amazing graphics to achieve this. In fact, the art style really grew on me; I know that some people find it to be off-putting, but it compliments the game well. The simplicity of it works better with the humour and allows us to project onto the characters more easily. Some of the boss fights actually looked pretty cool. If I’m going to make any sort of a criticism for it, it’s just that the art didn’t always feel consistent and some parts look much better than others. My favourite part of the game however, is the amazingly catchy soundtrack.

Read More…

Random Star Wars Facts

  • It was 17 April 1973 when George Lucas first sat down to start writing Star Wars. Although May 4th is known as Star Wars day.
  • Star Wars was inspired by the things Lucas liked as a child, including Flash Gordon, Lawrence of Arabia and The Hidden Fortress.
  • George Lucas also loved fast cars and originally dreamed of racing, but had a near fatal accident before his high school graduation. His passion for fast vehicles can be seen throughout Star Wars.
  • Lucas used tips on structure from Joseph Campbell’s book, The Hero with a Thousand faces. It follows The Hero’s Journey, including stages such as the call to action, the initial refusal to meet the call and then meeting with a mentor.
  • Star Wars had a very troubled production process and many believed the film would flop. Instead it became one of the highest-grossing films of all time.
  • The scenes on Tatooine were shot in Tunisia, during which they had to deal with an unexpected storm, the first one in 50 years.
  • A new Hope was released in 1977, The Empire Strikes Back in 1980, Return of the Jedi in 1983, The Phantom Menace in 1999, Attack of the Clones in 2002, Revenge of the Sith in 2005 and now The Force Awakens in 2015.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars is an animated feature film released in 2008, set during the prequel trilogy. It served as an introduction to the animated series of the same name.
  • Lucasfilm was launched in 1971.
  • Blue Harvest was used as a working title for Return of the Jedi, along with the slogan ‘Horror Beyond Imagination.’ It’s also the name of the twelfth episode in the first season of Star Wars: Ewoks the name of a Family Guy episode.
  • George Lucas preferred to spend his time editing and working with special effects to writing and directing. According the the actors he wasn’t the easiest person to work with.
  • Lucas had little involvement with The Empire Strikes Back, which was directed by Irvin Kershner. It is considered to be the best film of the franchise.
  • In the original films Darth Vader is played by David Prowse, but voiced by James Earl Jones. Although Sebastian Shaw was used at the end when Luke unmasks him. In the prequel trilogy Anakin is played by Hayden Christensen.
  • Jake Lloyd played Anakin as a child in Episode I, for which he gained worldwide fame. Unfortunately the stress of this caused him to retire from acting early and he destroyed all of his Star Wars memorabilia.
  • Lucas continued to edit the films to improve the audio/visual affects and to bring it closer to his ideal vision for it. One such change is a scene in the cantina where Greedo is shown firing a shot at Han Solo who responds in kind. Originally Han was the only one to fire, but this took away from the ideal image of his character. The force ghost of Anakin that appears at the end was also replaced. Some of these changes angered the fans.
  • Harrison Ford didn’t agree with how Han Solo was being treated and hasn’t enjoyed being associated with such an iconic character. He didn’t find the character to be interesting even though Han has become a fan favourite. Harrison Ford made a few changes, such as the moment before carbon-freezing in the Empire Strikes back when he says to Leia “I know” instead of “I Love You.”
  • There’s a moment during A New Hope when a Storm Trooper accidentally bumps his head on the top of a door. A homage is paid to this scene in Attack of the Clones when Jango Fett also bumps his head.
  • George Lucas always intended Star Wars to be for kids, but didn’t account for the fans growing up during the creation of the films. This probably explains the Ewoks in The Return of the Jedi and Jar Jar Binks in The Phantom Menace. Star Wars continues to attract new and younger fans while maintaining its older fan base.
  • Jar Jar Binks was intended as a comic relief character, but wasn’t well received. His role is severely cut down in the following films, during which he becomes a representative for his people in the galactic senate. Although I wouldn’t trust him in politics myself, and he’s seen as supporting Chancellor Palpatine.
  • The prequel trilogy attempts to shed light on the force by explaining the midi-chlorians, microscopic life forms that live inside the cells of all living things. When in subsequent numbers they allow their host to manipulate the force. However, this took away from the mystery surrounding the force and wasn’t well received by fans.
  • The highest known midi-chlorian count belongs to Anakin Skywalker, measuring at over 20,000 per cell. It is believed that he was conceived by the force. His creation could also be down to Darth Plagueis and Darth Sidious who attempted to manipulate the midichlorians to gain control over life. The legend of Darth Plagueis is briefly mentioned to Anakin during Revenge Of The Sith.
  • Padmé Amidala passes away after giving birth to the twins Luke and Leia. This is explained in the film as a loss of will to live, but one of the books puts it down to a broken neck as a result of Anakin grabbing her in a force choke.
  • The prophecy spoke of Anakin bringing balance to the force. This doesn’t specify that he will extinguish the dark side. While he sways too far in favour of the dark side, he is also responsible for ending Palpatine. Luke on the other hand was key in helping to bring him back to the light side.
  • Some characters disappear on death. This means that they have become one with the force, and they are shown as reappearing as ghosts. This requires great wisdom and strength to achieve. Anakin Skywalker appears as a force ghost and it is his suit alone that we see burning after his death.
  • TIE fighter stands for twin ion engines.
  • There are seven traditional forms of lightsabre combat and it’s possible to tell what characters are using during the films. Obi-Wan uses Soresu and Yoda uses Ataru for example. The names of the forms are also seen as skills in some games such as The Old Republic.
  • We only ever see one master and their apprentice as a result of the Rule of Two, which was introduced by Darth Bane. Previously there were too many problems with infighting due to the nature of the Sith. The rule of two ensures that they will continue to grow in strength as an apprentice will eventually destroy their master to take their place.
  • The Jedi ranks are youngling, padawan, knight, master, grand master and master of the order. Padawans have a braid that is cut off with a lightsabre when they are promoted.
  • Star Wars has expanded way beyond the films to include books, comics and games. This was known as the expanded universe and had very few continuity errors. However, since the arrival of the new sequel trilogy it was announced that the expanded universe would no longer appear in any future Star Wars material. It’s now classified as Star Wars Legends.
  • In 2002, a continuity-tracking database was created known as the Holocron Continuity Database to manage all of the Star Wars material. It includes classifications such as G-canon (coming directly from George Lucas.)
  • Disney bought the rights to the Star Wars franchise for $4.05bn (£2.5bn) in October 2012. George Lucas had already been developing the third trilogy, but was ready to retire and spend more time with his family.

For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next. I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime. – George Lucas

Celebrate The Small Things: 18 December

ZIA_Cat_small

I’m having one those weeks. Started off with great intentions, and then things went wrong very quickly. I was fine one moment and then the next I was on the floor in agony, unable to move. I’d been feeling dizzy prior and think It might have been a case of Sciatica. It’s ok though because the worst part cleared up after the first day and now I just have a bit of stiffness. Unfortunately, sitting at my computer for too long seems to aggravate the problem, but I’ve been using this as an excuse to lay down with a few Christmas films. I know of a few people that have to deal with problems like Sciatica on a regular basis and my heart goes out to them because it was incredibly unpleasant.

It was my sisters Birthday this week and it meant a lot to me to ensure she had a great day. I decided to make her a cake. A cranberry and chocolate Battenberg. It turned out ok, and I’m really good at assembling these cakes now. She loved the drawing I put on her card too (the above image.) Before I injured my back I also had a fun time putting up the Christmas decorations while my parents kept my Sherry glass full – come to think of it maybe this is how I injured my back in the first place. The house looks nice and festive at least. Also went to see a mystery film at the cinema that turned out to be In The Heart Of The Sea. They were giving out free sweets too.

Star Wars is out, but it happens to clash with other plans so haven’t been able to see it right away. We got it booked for next Monday though. Before that I’m also going to a concert. Lots of things to look forward to.

f5f01-vik-smallthings2

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.

It’s The Thought That Counts

Most of us have probably been there; We opened up a gift to find something that wasn’t to our tastes. We’ll try to convince ourselves that it’s the thought that counts and either put on a happy face or go through the apprehension of asking for a receipt. I’m not sure how much thought is put into some gifts however. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful or anything, but I reckon that if you know a person well you have a pretty good chance of getting something they like. It might not be that thing you’ve been dropping hints on all year, but it still says ‘you.’ For example, I’ve received a few presents that look as if they’ve come from a ‘gifts for her’ range, most of which is stereotypical and pink. It’s the kind of stuff that I’m not a fan of and something that my close family and friends are aware of. Although it’s cool with things like Bubble Bath, because I don’t treat myself to that stuff anyway and Christmas is my stock-up time. I’ve also received the odd gift that feels more like a hint that they think you need to change your life in some way, which doesn’t always go down so well depending on the implication. Another problem that I have is that I’m running low on space and I don’t want to have to add things that I’m not keen on, but at the same time I feel too guilty to get rid of stuff that people have bought for me. I’ve hung onto small things given to me years ago because I know somebody went through the hassle of getting it for me.

One way to ensure everybody gets what they want is to swap Christmas lists, but it just becomes an exchange of similar value goods while also taking away the joy of surprise. As children it makes more sense to ask for what you want because you can’t otherwise afford to get it, but as adults we can either buy what we want more easily or we’re struggling for cash and keeping the money would actually be preferable. We’ve previously bought games for each other on our Steam wishlists, but because you can check the prices so easily you just end up sending something equivalent in return. Maybe it’s me missing the point with this, but we could have just bought what we wanted for ourselves instead. The other issue is that not everybody can afford to spend the same amount on presents, but if you have that one person that goes overboard everybody else is left feeling awkward if they can’t match it. Although really, some of us enjoy giving more than receiving and don’t expect as much in return. I like to think that the people who are worth knowing would be understanding if you couldn’t get them much.

As a kid I looked forward to getting presents and I won’t deny it’s a nice surprise, but what I love about it is more to do with how it brings us all together. We take a while, opening our presents up one at a time, and this gives us an opportunity to catch up. I particularly look forward to playing games together such as Monopoly, Cluedo and Articulate – my family is pretty big on holding quizzes. We don’t keep up with it the rest of the year because we’re all so busy and in a rush all the time. As a kid you don’t always appreciate these moments when compared to the idea of getting new toys to play with, but as you get older you start to realize how important it is.

I can’t afford to get people much, but I like to create my own Christmas cards and art for people. It might not seem as exciting as a new toy, but putting the time and effort into it is my way of showing I care. I’d rather only do this for the people I am closest to so that I can focus on getting them great gifts, as opposed to buying things that people don’t really want or need out of obligation. All throughout the year I take mental notes of what I notice about people, so then I know what to get them when the time comes. I think it’s a struggle for many of us to listen and to be there for each other in our busy lives, so for me it only has to be a small token, but a great gift is the one that shows they really were paying attention and care about who I am. For example, I once received a copy of the book Little Miss Stubborn, which brought a smile to my face. The emotional value of a gift can outweigh its monetary value.

It seems odd, but all of this awkwardness in giving gifts can give me slight apprehension. Even with everything I’ve just written I’m not too fussy. It’d be unfair to expect others to be able to find something that suits our tastes and needs perfectly. A gift is a treat that we otherwise wouldn’t have had, and so it’s good to be grateful all the same.

Related Links:

Celebrate The Small Things: 11 December

I decided to put time aside to get on top of all my Christmas shopping. I got the cards sorted too, which can take a while. I can’t afford to get people much, so I like to show that I care by creating my own cards. I thought I’d left it too late this year, but have somehow managed to do more than usual over the past week. I just hope it all arrives in time. I’m going to relax this weekend knowing that it’s all sorted. We did a practice Christmas meal thing on Sunday too. I don’t normally go for Christmas food, but it was really tasty.

Somebody I know wants a WordPress site doing for them, for which they’re willing to pay. This is a great opportunity for me to improve my WordPress skills, something that I’ve been wanting to work on for ages. I have plans for my own WordPress site eventually. I’ve been teaching myself how to create themes this week.

My boyfriend surprised me with a copy of Just Cause 3. I love this game and the wingsuit is so much fun. He does spoil me too much though.

f5f01-vik-smallthings2

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.

It Follows – A Genuinely Creepy Concept

At the time of watching It Follows I didn’t find the film to be particularly scary. It was only afterwards as I took the time to consider the concept behind the film that I genuinely managed to creep myself out. The premise is a simple one, after what seems like an innocent sexual encounter something starts to follow the main character. There aren’t many jump scares or any big build-ups. Unlike a lot of other horror films it’s incredibly subtle, but also why I think it’s so effective. There will be spoilers, so if you want to keep it a surprise then stop reading.

Read More…

Getting Into The festive Mood With Krampus

“That’s a thing in Don’t Starve, I have to see it,” was my reaction to seeing a trailer for a new comedy/horror film. I don’t think the Krampus folklore is very well known where I come from, but it’s an idea dating back hundreds of years, originating in Europe. Krampus is best described as the shadow of Saint Nicholas and comes to punish those that have been naughty. It’s often depicted as a devil with horns, hooves and a monstrous tongue.

The new Krampus film came out just in time for Krampusnacht, a festival held on the 5th of December where people parade around dressed up as demons. I was able to go and see it on that very day and was thoroughly excited about it. Unfortunately I can’t say it was a perfect film, but I found it entertaining nonetheless.

Read More…

Celebrate The Small Things: 4 December

robin

I managed to sell something on Red Bubble. It’s weird to think of people wearing my own work, but it’s cool too. My gallery is still pretty small, but I’m slowly building it up and to get feedback from it is encouraging. I’ve been in a more creative mood this week, so I’ve been thinking about what else I’d like to do to put on my gallery. As well as that I finally got around to doing some art prototypes for my game. Tested some animations out too. The guy who came up with the initial concept was having trouble visualising it, so hopefully it’ll help. I showed some of my work to my friend and he seemed to like it. We just had one of those really great catch ups too. Every so often you need that sort of thing.

Yay, start of December. Now I finally feel like I can get into a Christmassy mood.

f5f01-vik-smallthings2

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.