Archive | January 2016

Celebrate The Small Things: 29 January

Things have been looking up a bit this week compared to the two weeks before. We’re feeling a lot more hopeful about the recovery of the person I mentioned before. Still not great and we cant know for sure, but there have been a number of small improvements.

Been getting on with a bit of programming this week. Admittedly I fell back into feeling a bit depressed again, but I fought through it and tried to get a few things done anyway. I built a small C++ program for my boyfriend and finished another prototype. I’m also trying to improve my skills with Android Studio at the moment. Managed to make the gym three times this week too.

Finally got to see Creed at the cinema. With everything that has been happening and places being busy we were struggling to see it. This was our 3rd attempt. It gave me the chance to watch through all of the Rocky films again anyway. I seem to be really into this sort of thing lately. Creed was brilliant, although I think you’ll have to be a fan of the others to fully appreciate it.

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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.

The Gross Visuals Behind Bloodborne And The Binding Of Isaac

bloodborne

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I find the visuals behind The Binding Of Isaac to be a bit off-putting, and I’ve noticed a few comments from people that feel the same way. My friend is a massive fan of the game and understandably finds that odd considering that I love Bloodborne, which is also a bit gruesome. Being a horror fan and considering some of the games, films and TV shows I enjoy, I’m obviously not totally against gruesome visuals. In fact, Bloodborne feels fairly tame to me compared to other things I’ve experienced and I wouldn’t have thought about it in this way if my friend hadn’t mentioned it. I think because it’s mostly blood, which doesn’t bother me, as well as the fact that it’s used in such quantities throughout the experience that you eventually desenitise to it. I don’t think we can claim that everything that uses gruesome visuals is the same, but it’s not always clear even to yourself why some things can be acceptable while others are distasteful. It might seem like an unusual comparison to make considering that Bloodborne and The Binding Of Isaac are completely different games, but as they are favourites in our group they’re talked about very much.

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How To Deal With Stress While Playing A Game

For the most part I believe that games are capable of reducing our stress, but every so often we get stuck on a challenge that has the opposite affect on us. A game shouldn’t be ruined by stress and I’ve found a number of different ways for dealing with it.

  • Change the difficulty setting – If we’re feeling stressed it could be a sign that the difficulty setting is too high for our current expertise. A game feels best when it’s at the right level, not so easy that it gets boring but not so hard that it’s stressful. Adjust the difficulty to work for you (see ‘Enjoy The Experience The Way You Want To.‘) If the game doesn’t allow you to do that then consider going back to an easier area to improve.
  • Look for other things to do – Sometimes a game is too hard because we’re not yet meant to be there. Consider if you have done everything you could have before this point and head back to complete them first.
  • Remember that games are made to be completed – Most developers want you to be able to complete their games. They’ve made lots of wonderful content after that part you’re stuck on and want you to see it. I trust a lot of developers to have made the game fair and possible to complete in some way.
  • Remind yourself of previous achievements – Can you remember a time when you felt like you were never going to make it through a game just to prove yourself wrong? If you’ve made it through a tough part before you can do it again.
  • Get Stronger – If you’re playing a game in which the character can be made stronger than you can always head back to grind a few levels first as another way to adjust the difficulty for yourself. If not then think of yourself as improving. Make sure you fully understand how to play the game and practice. During each attempt you’ll be moving a little bit closer towards succeeding.
  • Put it into perspective – If a game carries a harsh death penalty, like having to repeat a section over, I treat this as a further opportunity to practice and get better. I also remind myself that if I could get so far in the first place I can probably do it again. It’s worth putting a loss into perspective – is it really so bad? My worse moment was in Tibia, where dying can destroy hours of experience. If we keep playing we eventually earn that back and then some, at which point what we lost feels like a small drop in the ocean compared to what we currently have. These types of wounds heal with time.
  • Consider all options – Some games allow for multiple strategies to get through something. So long as I haven’t yet tried everything there is still hope that I’ll find something that’ll work. It might also be the case that I haven’t set my character up correctly for what works for me. If all else fails look up tips for how others have gotten through.
  • Too much stress will make it harder – While a little bit of stress can improve our performance, too much can result in clumsy mistakes. I’ve had gaming sessions where I’ve gotten worse on each attempt as a result of stress and fatigue. It’s worth remembering that staying calm will help and we can achieve this in a number of ways, like taking deep breaths for example. It might also be a sign that we’re ready to take a break and will do much better next time.
  • Make jokes – I get through a lot of gaming experiences by making jokes and taunting my foes. It can also be a release to yell at the screen and far better than taking it out on your gaming equipment.
  • Learn to laugh at yourself – Some of my most memorable gaming moments are the times when it went wrong. I’ve made my fair share of silly mistakes that resulted in heavy losses (like rolling off a cliff in Dark Souls), but I can turn it into a funny story and laugh it off. I think a lot of stress caused by competitive gaming can come from bruised egos, but try not to take it personally.
  • Pause for a moment – Pause the game and give yourself a moment to breathe and calm down. I use loading screens as a way to regain my composure too.
  • Play with others – I sometimes find that playing with another in the room can help. For starters they can offer advice and moral support. I can also share my woes or talk to them, taking some of the focus away from what’s happening in the game. I guess I also prefer to keep my cool when I’m around others. Oddly enough though, whenever I try to show another person what I’m trying to overcome I seem to succeed at it, making it seem as if there wasn’t a problem afterall.
  • Without the challenge it wouldn’t be fun – Some games are more fun without the difficulty, but others are the exact opposite. For example, in Don’t Starve you can modify the world to generate with more resources, but it’s far less interesting to play it that way. A part of the enjoyment of that game is learning how to do it well. Unfortunately the stress of managing dropping hunger and sanity levels is just something we have to deal with, but it’s worth the satisfaction once we’ve mastered it. Remind yourself how worthwhile it’ll feel to achieve success against much lower odds. Besides, we don’t want to complete the game too quickly because then we’ll have nothing left to play.
  • Punch the air or jump around – Sometimes I get a build up of adrenaline while playing and it has nowhere to go. Getting up from your seat to move around a little can be a release – or sometimes I actually dance in front of my computer.
  • Perseverance is a good thing to have – Life is tough and throws curveballs at all of us from time to time. We can either choose to give up or fight back. Like Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) says, “it ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. It’s how much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.” At the card game shop they told me that if all we ever do is play with the same friends we can never truly tell how good we are. They recommended attending the tournaments, but warned us that we’d probably fail really badly, but that it would be the only way to get better. We can be proud of ourselves not for succeeding instantly at everything, but for giving things a go, trying out best and sticking it through until achieving mastery. You can learn more from failure anyway.

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Celebrate The Small Things: 22 January

It’s not been a great start to the New Year. Not only have we lost some amazing talents, but someone dear to us is very unwell. It’s hard to find the positivity at such times, but I guess I’d like to celebrate the warmth and kindness that we see when everybody comes together to offer support. Things are gradually improving and I’m a lot more optimistic than I was at the start of the week. I also greatly appreciate that I still have people in my life that I love very much.

I got to go to a gig yesterday. It was Rumours of Fleetwood Mac, a tribute band. My sister is the main Fleetwood Mac fan, but I gotta admit, the music is great and I had a good time out. I think I also had the second longest sleeves there – something that I noticed about the clothes Stevie Nicks wears. They also gave mention of the recent losses and that we can be grateful that we still have lots of excellent music to enjoy. I’ve been listening to a lot of David Bowie over the past week actually. I never had listened to it much before (I know him from watching Labyrinth a lot during my childhood), but it’s really cool.

We’re still making each other laugh and finding things to be positive about.

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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.

Thoughts On Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I tried to keep my expectations at bay for the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. With the franchise changing hands to Disney I didn’t know how well they’d be able to pull it off; Well, they seem to have succeeded. When the film came to our cinemas everybody seemed to be singing it praises and I allowed myself to feel the excitement fully for the first time. Unfortunately, I feel like this is one of those cases where coming to it as a major Star Wars fan has actually been a drawback. The Force Awakens is a brilliant movie. It was fun, had great humour and appealing new characters. So why afterwards did I feel a little empty inside?

If you have a preference for the original Star Wars films then you’ll probably love The Force Awakens as it’s definitely a return back to its roots. In fact, one of the main criticisms of the film is that it’s a little too much like A New Hope. I’m one of those rare individuals that didn’t mind the prequel trilogy, and I also find the expanded universe interesting, particularly the Old Republic Era. These times feel more exciting because they’re set before the collapse of the Jedi. Each individual has more training, and this results in far better lightsabre combat. I also like the mysticism surrounding the Sith. The Force Awakens has reset everything so that once again the rebels are on the back foot. Not only does this make the victory at the end of Return Of The Jedi feel less meaningful, but also limits the possibilities for exploring the force. I would have liked to have seen them rebuilding the Jedi temples and searching for lost knowledge, something that we haven’t yet seen. There were some moments during the plot that felt a little rushed and unclear too.

The story in The Force Awakens wasn’t bad as such, but felt somewhat lacking at the same time. It creates more questions than answers, and I reckon that how well we remember this film will depend on how the next ones follow it up. Parts of it also confused me based on previous knowledge of Star Wars. There were moments where it felt like they were taking liberties with how the force works. Initially I thought they were only planning to scrap everything set after the original trilogy. This didn’t bother me as there would be benefits to keeping the direction of the new plot a surprise. Well it turns out that the entirety of the expanded universe has now been moved to Legends, even events that happened years and years before the new film. Even if this decision turns out for the better, it’ll take a long time to soothe fans that have dedicated years to all of the books, comics and games. I personally feel that if you have a wealth of material to work with, then why not use it? It seems like they have definitely been inspired by it however, so perhaps in time parts of it will gradually move back into canon.

I’ve seen some criticism for how the new villains don’t seem to be evil enough. I actually really like Kylo Ren as I feel like his insecurities make him an interesting character. Perfect heroes can be flat, and the same is true of villains. Something that has always drawn me to Star Wars is that most of the bad guys were driven from the light at some point, and this can result in a potential back-story. I wasn’t so keen on Snoke’s appearance however, as it felt a little too much like something they’d do in a Marvel film. I guess there’s still not enough that we know about him yet though. I haven’t yet gotten around to reading any of the new books either, which may help to fill some of the gaps for me.

As a cult classic any attempt to add to the Star Wars franchise is going to be under pressure to deliver. There are lots of different elements to the franchise too and I imagine it appeals to people for different reasons. My partner and I love it more for the fantasy, mysticism and lightsabres than the space battles, and in all honesty we weren’t too fussed about seeing more of Luke, Han Solo and Leia. Overall The Force Awakens has probably delivered, but I’m still waiting to see what will come next before I can decide for sure what I feel about it.

I Never Rage Quit

We joke about how games can cause us so much stress we just quit outright. Even thrown the controller out the window (See these 14 gamers that took rage quitting to the next level on College Humor.) A game has never actually upset me to that point and I can’t recall ever having rage quit. Sometimes I make noises of frustration or yell at the screen, but I act it up for a laugh. Some people do genuinely get stressed and angry with a game to the point that they’ll quit out of anger, and If I’m being honest, it’s a type of gaming behaviour that I don’t really understand.

If a game is hard it can obviously cause our stress levels to rise. My main annoyance is when the A.I. is cheating or the odds are stacked against me because it feels so unfair. I came to realize that I do actually enjoy challenging games however. I like that feeling of mastery that comes with it, and when done well it’ll hook me to the point that I hate giving up. My boyfriend will have to prise me away to get me to take a break. This is how I can tell the difference between a game that is well designed to one that isn’t, because to keep somebody playing even if they’re failing a lot is quite a feat. Although the best games for this probably vary from person to person. Failing can be pleasurable in and of itself because it means we still have something left to master, but once we complete a game that’s it; No more left to enjoy and it gets taken out of the console.

I do get an emotional response to a difficult challenge, but not one of unpleasant stress. Emotions aren’t as simple as being able to place them in good and bad categories. It’s like how I can enjoy horror games, but it’s difficult to understand why you’d want to feel something as unpleasant as fear. Why do we watch tearjerkers if they make us cry? In small doses stress can improve our performance and give us a bit of a buzz. It’s like how some people would get bored if they weren’t in high flying jobs, but to everyone on the outside it looks too stressful and we’d rather have an easy life. My palms will get sweaty and my muscles will tense up, but I don’t feel angry or inclined to quit the game, in fact the exact opposite – a boost in determination. I enjoy the feeling and find myself wanting to give it just one more go. I don’t think of such experiences as being cruel because it’s all made up for afterwards by the high level of satisfaction you feel at succeeding.

If a game is stressing us to the point that we feel like we want to quit all the time then we’re probably playing the wrong one for us and should try something else. Games are optional and we choose to play them, so why would you continue to put yourself through an experience that makes you angry. Once you’ve quit you’re no longer playing and that sort of goes against our objective of what we wanted to achieve by putting it on in the first place. Our abilities with the game can no longer improve through quitting and so we’ll never be able to overcome that challenge. If overall we enjoy a game, but stress is rapidly increasing with a detriment to our performance, then it’s probably a sign that we need a break. We’ll do a lot better the next time we try. 🙂

… Then again, I have a sort of stubborn pride that prevents me from wanting to show or admit to losing my cool. 😉

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Extreme Fandom and Hatred

When a game rises in popularity people seem to end up jumping to one extreme or another. Those fans that have to constantly go on and on about it and then those that do nothing but vent hatred towards it. Anybody with a neutral opinion seems to get overlooked or is automatically placed on a side. I have been on both sides at some point admittedly. I’ve loved a game and felt put down by others, and I’ve also come to despise games for seeing them everywhere. While a debate can be fun and light-hearted, a lot of us are also impassioned about games and can accidentally get a bit carried away.


The Haters
Hearing so much glowing appraisal for a game can really set your expectations high, so it’s no surprise that a few will be left disappointed. The experience can also be spoilt by hearing too much about it before you get a chance to play it. We don’t all have the time and the money to get every game on launch after all. Originally I might have had a neutral opinion on a game or could have even come to like it, but being surrounded by something you’re not sure about all the time can start to grate and push buttons. It’s even worse if it causes a change in our favourite websites and communities and I’m also concerned that this popular game could push the industry in a direction I’m not personally keen on. On top of that, it’s difficult to be able to express an honest opinion about the game without fans getting overly defensive and retaliating. Apparently I’m just being stubborn and avoiding it because “it’s popular,” but I feel like I made some valid points. Some even go as far as to down-vote negative reviews and make attempts to remove them. Critique is important as this allows games to be improved and gamers can make informed purchases. It can also be hard feeling left out and unable to connect over the excitement, but despite my best attempts I just don’t understand what all the fuss is about. Why can’t I be left alone to play the games I enjoy instead of constantly being pestered to try something I’m not interested in? Besides, it’s just a game, so why are they taking it so personally? Let me talk about what I enjoy for a change.

The Fans
It’s far better to focus on the things we enjoy rather than to go on about everything we dislike. If the haters don’t like a game why don’t they simply not play it instead of always raining on our parade (some of them haven’t even played the game they’re criticising.) I try to be gentle with my own distaste of a game, but some will go as far as to send out hate mail and spam fake negative reviews. It’s as if they want to sabotage the game and spoil it for everybody else. When we respond back they accuse us of being overly defensive and fling insults at the entirety of the fan base. It’s unfair to group and categorize people and we can’t all be held accountable for the actions of a few out of control fans. They might just be games, but this is downplaying the connection we can have with them. Storytelling and music are respected as a form of expression and something we can relate to, and games are no different. I could also use the same argument in turn and say, ‘it’s just a game, so why get so angry about it?’ I never actually intended to get on anybodies nerves, I just wanted to share what I love with people that I care about. Instead I felt like I was being put down for my tastes; Anybody that does this isn’t fun to be around. Why can’t they just be happy for me to have something I enjoy? It’s unfair towards the developers as well, as they are just trying to make a living out of the game and too much negativity can break morale. While a major title can bounce back, a small Indie developer could be seriously hurt by it. I’d like to see more games like this too, so I really hope it doesn’t deter them from making more.


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Celebrate The Small Things: 8 January

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Getting back into the routing of things after Christmas. I’ve really enjoyed this week as I’ve gotten stuck into designing this website for my friend. It’s also giving me a good chance to learn WordPress. I managed to create a theme from scratch, and it’s quite fun once you start to play with it. He seems to be happy with what I’m doing so far. I’m having one of those weeks where I seem to be more up-beat and full of energy, even though I’ve been staying up quite late to get some programming done.

Back to the gym this week, and I thought it was going to be a real struggle with my back still recovering. I think the exercise has actually been good for me. I managed to go three times this week, each one getting a little bit easier.

Had a final party over the weekend to end our festivities. We got to play a lot of Cluedo and for some reason people saw me as the one to beat. They managed to trick me, but I’ve learnt a few things for next time. Stayed up way too late listening to music on Amazon Prime, but nice to chill out together like that. Oh and we managed to finish a jigsaw over the holidays, which I hadn’t done in a while and it was actually quite challenging.

I feel like there’s a lot to look forward to this year, in terms of films and games coming out, as well as holiday plans we’ve been making.

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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.

New Year’s Resolutions for 2016 – Living With Less

An activity suggested in the book Mindfulness for Everyday Living by Christopher Titmuss suggests making a list of things and then contemplating what we could live without. The idea is that we can actually be content with less. A simpler life can be a much happier one, while all of the clutter causes us additional stress without us even realizing it. As well as this, it’s good to try and be appreciative of the little things from time to time, rather than always wanting more. This is a sentiment I have seen reflected elsewhere, such as in gaming (My new year’s resolution is to play fewer games) and photography (Why I believe in photographic gear minimalism).

To live with less is incredibly difficult because of all of the emotional attachments we have formed. Somehow we can end up fooling ourselves into believing that having more of something is good for us. So for the start of this year I have decided to make a list. We don’t all have to cut back completely and how far one goes is a personal decision. I’m still a compulsive geek that to loves collect things and I doubt that’ll ever change. Still, there are areas that I feel I could be happier if only I could manage to live with less of it.

  • Chocolate – I think I struggle with sugar cravings. Every time I consider cutting out chocolate I find myself walking towards it without even realizing what I’m doing. I can’t live without chocolate completely, but I could try to reserve it to weekends only.
  • Fizzy drinks – I love Coca-cola and Irn-Bru, but it isn’t good to have too much of this stuff. Already been making some efforts, such as going for fruit juice at the pub instead.
  • Alcohol – I don’t actually drink that much now anyway, and when I do it’s only during the weekend. I already started to cut back on alcohol over a year ago, as my boyfriend got ill after having too much. Usually I was the one that got ill while he looked after me, but the shock of being on the other side caused me to re-think. Not only this, but I can save a lot of money cutting back and put it towards other things that I enjoy more.
  • Eating out – My partner and I really enjoy eating out and like nice food, but we probably do it a little bit too often. Not only that, but we go to fast food places as well. I’ve found that it’s not easy to control what you eat because you don’t always have that many options depending on who you’re with and where you are, but if I can go for a healthier alternative from time to time I should probably give it a go.
  • Pizza – It’s no secret that I’m hooked on pizza. I don’t want to cut back altogether, but perhaps I could have one every other week instead.
  • Takeaways – Final bad habit on my eating list. I associate having a takeaway with feeling good, and it seems to be a part of programming culture. Yet I often feel guilty afterwards for doing it.
  • Playing games – Ok, so I love games and I’ll probably still want more time for this than your average person, but there are times when I can’t concentrate on more productive activities because I can’t stop thinking about how much I want to get back to that game. Arguably, in the long run I’ll feel happier if I can spend just a little more time working towards my goals without the distraction.
  • Buying games – I already have tonnes of games in my backlog that I haven’t gotten around to playing yet, so do I really need to get more? I’ve decided that I want to list up all of the games I want to get and wait until a sale starts. It’ll seem like I’m spending a large amount at once, but I bet that overall I’ll be saving a lot of money. This doesn’t count for major titles however, like Dark Souls for example. Plus my boyfriend has a tendency to buy a lot of games for me.
  • Buying books – I think I’m addicted to buying books. I’m desperately running out of space to store them however, and I haven’t even read them all yet. I managed to talk myself out of buying one the other week and I felt uneasy for a good while afterwards. I’m going to question whether I really need a book before I buy one from now on.
  • Watching TV – It’s so easy to just fall in front of the TV when you’re feeling tired, but then I usually regret not doing something more productive with my time later on. I’ve been trying to cut down on TV time for a while now in favour of doing more of what I enjoy. Like getting through that huge pile of books.
  • Complaining – I think if we’re not careful we can fall into a bad habit of complaining too much. Sometimes it’s cathartic, but other times it just keeps those annoyances running around our heads while irritatating those that have to hear it.
  • Moaning about other people – It’s not great to bottle things up, but we also have to try being forgiving and lenient too. We’re not always going to like other people’s behaviour, but how we handle this is important. Plus, how can we expect others to trust us if we come across as the type that will start to complain as soon as backs are turned? Gossiping and jumping to assumptions about others are also worth considering.
  • Feeling guilty – I feel way too guilty for silly reasons too often. It’s not an emotion that’s serving any real purpose, so I need to try and train myself to stop feeling this way. Reducing the amount of self-criticism and worrying are good things to work on too.
  • Needing control – I get anxious if I don’t feel like I’m in control, but trying to alter the inevitable or wishing for change only causes us more stress. We have to accept that life is challenging and bad stuff can happen to everybody.
  • Reliving the past – Getting upset about things that I can no longer change isn’t helpful. I need to learn from the past, but live more in the present.

These are just a handful of things I think I could work on. I don’t really expect myself to be able to succeed at this whole list right away, but it’s an interesting activity to try. Doing this has helped me to realize a few things about myself and what’s really important to me. My main resolution is just to be more content with trying my best, which is all any of us can do.

Reminiscing On The Year 2015

What I remember about my year 2015:

  • Visiting the Canary Islands (Fuerteventura) a couple of times.
  • Walking up Mount Snowdon in Wales.
  • Going to London to see Nightwish (Endless Forms Most Beautiful tour) at Wembley – The first Finnish metal band to play there and the final concert on the tour. They played the entirety of The Greatest Show On Earth.
  • Having fun at comic con. Meeting new people.
  • My cousin getting married.
  • Improving my baking skills. Becoming a master at assembling Battenberg cakes.
  • The start of the colouring book craze – I think it’s becoming an addiction.
  • Adopted a cheetah family through Born Free.
  • Our cinema went through a major revamp, adding a 4D screen and fitting extra comfy seating.
  • Fixing my computer and upgrading to Windows 8. Everything works so much better now.

Games I’ve played:

  • Bloodborne – My favourite game this year has been Bloodborne by From Software. It sort of goes without saying though, because I’m also a massive fan of Dark Souls. The combat was incredibly fun and the world design was amazing.
  • SOMA – Frictional games are another favourite developer. SOMA might have been simplistic in terms of its mechanics, but it really made me think about it for weeks afterwards.
  • Don’t Starve – I finally started to master this game and have reached past day 100. It’s incredibly addictive once you get use to it, plus I have it on Vita so I can take it everywhere I go. Been playing a bit of Don’t Starve Together too as I try to teach my friends how to play, but it’s incredibly chaotic.
  • ARK: Survival Evolved – The release of Jurassic World put me in the mood for more dinosaurs. I like survival games too and my collection has grown considerably with such titles over the past couple of years.
  • Minecraft – My friends and I got a server together and spent a good bit of time working on it together. Some of my creations can be seen here.
  • Until Dawn – This is probably one of the best interactive stories I’ve ever played. It felt similar to Heavy Rain and beyond, but the themes appealed to me more. I love that it mixed real and supernatural elements to create a mystery. The characters looked amazing too and despite being annoying stereotypes I came to really care for them.
  • Life Is Strange – Another interactive fiction with great characters. A very touching and thought provoking story, with the ability to rewind time.
  • Alien Isolation – This game has really surprised me in how much it hooked me. It took a lot of patience to play, but I really enjoyed it. Put me in a massive Alien mood too, so I watched all of the films as well.
  • Five Nights At Freddy’s – An unique horror experience with memorable characters, although I enjoyed watching it more than playing it.
  • Just Cause 3 – I still haven’t gotten very far in this game yet (I can’t stop messing about on it), but it’s really fun and Rico Rodriguez is amazing.
  • Undertale – A special and thought-provoking experience with a fun battle system and incredibly catchy soundtrack. The major point of this game is that you don’t have to kill anybody.
  • Soul Sacrifice – This game was one of the main reasons I wanted a PS Vita. It’s not as good as other games in terms of combat, but I love the themes and art style.
  • There Came An Echo – My first experience playing a game with voice activation. Including the voice of Will Wheaton.
  • Guild Of Dungeoneering – Very fun and addictive.
  • Darkest Dungeon – A slightly more gruelling dungeon experience. I’m still learning how to master this one.
  • Binding Of Isaac -I’m still not taken by this game, but I have a better understanding of why so many other people like it.
  • Bravely Default – I love this game, but still haven’t made it to the end yet as it gets a bit repetitive late on. Anyway, I’m just that little bit closer to being able to say I’ve completed it.
  • Dyscourse – A short story, but with lots of branching. I’ve only played it through once so far, but it seems like a solid experience. The art style is eye-catching too. Oh and there was a really cute cat, so what more could you need?
  • Amnesia: Memories – Another interactive fiction, with cute boys in it. 😛
  • Sword Art Online – I love the anime, so naturally I wanted to buy the game. Its not the most memorable of RPGs I’ve ever played, but it’s cool being able to interact with the characters from the show.
  • Star Wars The Old Republic – Completed a couple more characters. I think I only have two more left to go now.
  • Diablo III – I finally got around to giving this game a go. Not quite lived up to my expectations, but fun chaotic combat all the same.
  • Skyrim – I played a little bit more of this game. One day I’m going to stick it out for much longer. At least I made it up that mountain and learnt about dragon shouts this time.
  • Poltergeist – A puzzle game in which you have to scare people out of the house.
  • Civilization V – Played a lot of this with my friends this year. I feel like my knowledge of the game has improved. Research victory is my favourite.
  • Kitty Power’s Matchmaker – this game is pretty cheesy, but funny with simple and enjoyable gameplay.

Another one of my goals for the year 2015 was to make more time to play card/board games. It feels very different to playing video games and I love the social aspect of them. We’ve been playing a game almost every week and I’ve learn to play a couple of new ones including Pandemic, Cluedo and Hanabi. I also had the goal of appreciating my backlog of games more, rather than rushing out to buy new ones – I’m not so sure I’ve kept to this :P.

Books I’ve read:
One of my new years resolutions for 2015 was to read more. I’m still not entirely consistent, but I feel like I’ve gotten through more books than usual.

  • The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb – I started this series in 2014, but finished the final book at the start of the year. Overall I wasn’t massively keen on the book, but I did connect really strongly with some of the ordeals that the main character had to go through. The first two books had really interesting endings too, and at that I’ll leave this.
  • The Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters – A book full of really useful advice when it comes to mind management.
  • Revan by Drew Karpyshyn – I’d been meaning to get around to this book for ages, considering that Darth Revan is one of my favourite characters from the Star Wars universe. Overall it isn’t my favourite Karpyshyn or Star Wars book, but it introduced a number of characters that you also get to meet in the game The Old Republic.
  • Darth Bane Trilogy by Drew Karpyshyn – I was really in a Star Wars mood by this point and continued onto the Darth Bane trilogy. These were fantastic books outlining the creation of the Rule of Two. I loved having the opportunity to get into the mind of a character turning to the dark side and it was interesting to see how my own feelings towards them changed throughout the story. The ending was also intriguing.
  • A Brief Guide To Star Wars By Brian J.Robb – Finally I finished my Star Wars reading off with this guide covering the creation of the films. It was a really interesting read and surprised me to find out that a lot of people didn’t believe that it would be as successful as it was.
  • A Girl In The Box (books 1-3) by Robert J.Crane – This was a free series for my Kindle about a girl that develops powers and has spent most of her life being protected from the outside world. I don’t feel inclined to continue onto further books with this, but it was a nice light read.
  • Lady, Thy Name Is Trouble by Lori L. Maclaughlin – I was given the opportunity to read and review this book. Really enjoyed it and particularly liked the focus on the sisters, both of which are interesting characters. Looking forward to the second book.
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – It’s a bit of an ambition of mine to get through some of the classic horrors. Frankenstein was a story that I’d seen in a lot of places and yet never knew anything about the source. A lot of these classic books are also free for Kindle. I enjoyed the themes within it thoroughly, and I think I’m also improving at reading this older style of literature.
  • Inside Apple by Adam Lashinsky – I still haven’t finished this book, but what I’ve read so far has been a really interesting look into the inner workings of Apple.
  • You’re Never Weird On The Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day – I really enjoyed this humours book about Felicia Day and her work towards creating The Guild. I could also relate to a lot of her experiences.
  • Game Of Thrones by George R. R. Martin – I finally decided it was time to delve into Game Of Thrones. It took up a large part of the year and I’m still part way through the 4th book (A Feast Of Crows.) Admittedly I’m starting to fatigue slightly and feel ready to move onto something else now, but overall I really like the series.
  • Mindfulness For Everyday Living by Christopher Titmuss – I’ve been delving into mindfulness a lot this year and have purchased a few books to help me in this pursuit. Its definitely been helping me with my stress levels and anxiety, and I’ve also learnt a few interesting things about Buddhism in the process too. Another goal for 2015 was to work on my confidence and I feel like I have been making some good efforts towards this.

Films I’ve Seen:

  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Obviously, do I really need to expand on this one?
  • Jurassic World – One of my favourites this year. Fun light-hearted action. Was a bit disturbing in places too, and I think it left a massive impact due to being compared to places like Sea World. Got to see it in 4D as well.
  • Into The Woods – A massive surprise for me. I love the dark humour in this film. It also has catchy songs in it and the meaning behind it is thought provoking too.
  • Ant-Man – I wasn’t expecting much from this. The idea seemed a bit silly. It turned out to be a really good film with a lot of humour in it. Probably one of my favourites from Marvel.
  • Avengers: Age Of Ultron – I get the feeling that this film didn’t do as well as many would expect, but I thought it was really cool and probably enjoyed it more than the first one.
  • Inside Out – Cool concept, and the end bit with the cat really made me chuckle.
  • Minions – Gotta admit, I’m not a massive Minion fan (tire of seeing them everywhere,) but this film had some funny moments in it.
  • Cinderella – This film was a lot better than I was expecting it to be. I loved Helena Bonham Carter’s performance. Cute mice too. :3
  • Spy – For the most part I’m not much into spy movies (I haven’t even seen James Bond: Spectre,) unless it’s also a comedy. Melissa McCarthy and Jason Statham were hilarious in this film.
  • Mortdecai – No where near the top of favourite films with Johnny Depp in, but I still have to go see everything with him in.
  • Ex Machina – I don’t think this is a film for everybody, but I found it really thought provoking and it’s definitely worth a watch.
  • Terminator Genisys – I’ve always been a big Terminator fan and I thought this film was pretty cool in how it recreates some parts of the original film.
  • Insidious: Chapter 3 – I managed to convince my partner to go see a horror film at the cinema, and it ended up being a return back to its scary roots. Lots of jump scares, but also some humour too.
  • It Follows – I finally found a film that genuinely disturbs me.
  • Krampus – A nice festive film and I’m interested in the folklore it’s based upon.
  • Crimson Peak – I was hoping for a more traditional horror experience in this one and I love anything Victorian. Unfortunately this film came up a bit short and the plot was a bit random.
  • In The Heart Of The Sea – I got to see this one before its release. It felt a bit long and drawn out in places, but I find whales fascinating.
  • Pan – I was disappointed with this film, but I really enjoyed Hugh Jackman’s perfermance regardless. Pirates singing Nirvana, what a hoot?
  • Self/less – Not a great film, but had an interesting concept behind it. In the effort to live forever the main character goes through a process of transferring their conciousness into a new body (only, it’s not all as it seems.)
  • Project Almanac – I don’t think this was as good as other similar films (like The Butterfly effect for example,) but it was an another interesting take on the consequences of time-travel.
  • Fifty Shades Of Grey – Yes, I’m going to admit to having seen this one. Not for me personally, but I gotta admit I’m interested to know what will happen next.
  • Pixels – Not a great film, but amused me all the same.

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