Where We Are

Summertime can feel like a dry season for the gaming world. The last large game that came out I was able to breeze through was Rage 2, a blast to play but a quick one at that. So what do you do with all this open time and no big new games coming out for you? How do you spend your time or maintain a solid hobby? Even before we get into the thick of it, let’s bring up how nice it is to be back.

Summertime and the living is easy doesn’t really apply to me at the moment. Sublime as life can be I have been working like a horse. A couple extra jobs to get ahead, the going has been tough, but it has been completely worth it. With some games still getting finished out and me itching to get back on For the Sake of Gaming to get you some new content to read.

So what has been getting played on these summer nights?

I have been trying damn hard to get through something all of us gamers have. A huge backlog of games that I have barely touched and constantly tell myself how later I will get to it. Finishing up a couple quick arcade titles and two Triple-A ones I want the reviews out within the week. We get that way quick when we buy games faster than we beat them, especially when fall and broketober hits with great new releases dropping weekly. I want to get through these backlogs before Borderlands 3 and Gears 5 and many more come out and siphon up all my extra time.

Going through the titles of PS4, Xbox One, 360, Switch and even old retro cartridges I also have been gaining an urge to write something else entirely. As the slow summer rolls on I have begun to work on an Ebook that shares a title from a blog I did a while back. Life is a Platform – Self-help from the Gaming Shelf.  I want to do this to help my friends in ways that I can’t always be there day to day. I know that if I could I would talk to them all day-to-day with suggestions and listen to any way I could. With working on this I hope it will give you a solid twelve chapters that you can always look back to when you need to hear from me.

So what will this blog be if I am working on that?

Well, I still plan on doing what I have been here. I like reviewing games so that others can hear a bit about them before they invest. I like ranting and getting out the thoughts on the culture of gaming and I like trying to inspire others. I want this to join in soon to a larger community of gamers and blogs and of course, the popular top five lists are coming back again as well with the first coming back tomorrow.

This is a quick post to just let you know I am alive and kicking. I get how you get used to seeing something from a place and when it disappears you wonder why it is gone. The fact is the small reprieve even made it so I can relax easier and get more content out. I no longer have car worries and I can even upload some of these blogs on the go.

So with a quick goodbye until tomorrow I just want to ask a few questions?

I have had requests for a Discord? Is that something that interests you?

And what would be more preferred, some youtube uploads or a podcast? They take about the same time to make and I am up to either, and the real goal is content to you. So forgive me for being a bit rusty, but let us get this up and rolling once more.

-Shane

Feature Photo by Startaê Team on Unsplash

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Lost Sequel

Sometimes you fall in love with a game, book or movie and can barely contain yourself as you hope for more. You may get that sequel or next installment and hate it. It just wasn’t good, didn’t perform how you wanted, even worse it could have ended badly. A tragedy all of us fall into when we get into something. So let’s talk about that.

Recently Game of Thrones ended and a lot of people just were not happy with the way everything turned out. For us old Dexter fans we just shrugged it off and joked about how ours was still worse. This leaves us to a question of what even is a “good” ending and how can you achieve it?

I think a lot of that answer is that you simply can’t make everyone happy. One person will be upset that their favorite person wasn’t the king, the next will find loopholes that were made in the earlier seasons of the show and everything crumbles from there. I get it though. Sometimes the writers just want to be done, I have even had DND sessions where at the end of the three months of getting together the finale of it all is lackluster because I was tired of writing.

You may think things like that don’t hit writers that are paid the big bucks. The director of a hit show making good money doesn’t just ‘get tired’ right?

I think we all lose interest in things and that plays a small part of it. More often for less prominent things like the largest show on television, the real problem turns into funding.

My favorite game that snuck through on the Xbox 360 was a title known as Alan Wake. A story of a writer that falls deeper and deeper into the story. A literal fight of light against darkness and a soundtrack to die for. It resonated well with me in all the right ways. Character development was great and all the people you met were memorable. The town was scenic and the woods felt ominous, I was hooked.

The titles DLC introduced you further into the story and how the writer worked things into the real world. Then a small arcade title came out and added a small bit more to the mystery, but still never a true sequel. It isn’t as far along as the Half-Life 3 joke, but it grows every year. With cameo appearances in titles like Quantum Break us fans are led along like a horse with a carrot. We just want to know what happens!

With games sometimes it is the studios crumble or are bought out and told to work on different things. We all get it, but we can be upset by it too. I think that as fans a large part of what is made is ours as well. We grow it all by becoming fans of the things we love. Adding to the lore with our own stories and theories and trying to keep the cult following going. If you look deep into the history of games you will find games that many had thought were ‘dead’ that keep trucking along because of dedicated fans wanting to see their passion go on as well.

What can we do to try and keep getting our sequels and getting endings that satisfy us?

Support the creators, keep them interested and let them know how much you appreciate what they do. There is a man trying to convert Ocarina of Time into the Unreal engine, that man is a hero of mine. His work is gorgeous and you should support him!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-86WpU2f7J_es2gWJSuX-w

That is a link to his page.

I could spend days telling you all about things I want to see go on. About the musicians, I want to hear more from. The books that I know have more story to them. MAybe if we all work together as a community we can fight away some of these lost sequels and get into more focus on creation. After all, we all like cool things.

Summer Log

For so many years while growing up summer was the time that I actually got through the bulk of my games. Booting up a lengthy Playstation RPG and enjoying it every night after running around all day outside. The warm of the concrete still on my feet as I let a fan blast nice cool air on me and I fell into my role as Cloud Strife or Sora. Slowly it has turned into a small tradition of mine that every summer I try to get as many games out I can, but one or two always sticks stronger as a memory.

It is crazy as I go over the year and see how many games I have tucked away and gone through. Sometimes it is a quick replay to make sure I have completed every quest or achievement. Then other times I get into one solid game and don’t touch another until I played it to the point I can’t look at it.

Sometimes when you get that chance to play through a game in the summer, the night air drifting in the windows and that 2AM grind as you finish the last levels is just exhilarating. I remember a few years back picking up Dying Light the day it came out but just couldn’t find the time to play through it. Months passed and it sat on my backlog just gathering dust. Finally, I got a solid three day weekend and got a chance to pop it in!

Was it the greatest game I ever played? I wouldn’t say it was, but it made memories for me that I will always remember. Leaping over the rooftops with the grapple hook and running in the dark from the zombies made a mark. When thunderstorms raged outside of my house in Nebraska I delved deeper into the world I was in.

A few years before I learned what a good story really meant in a game when I beat The Last of Us. The game again going into the late hours of the summer nights and the air conditioning kept clicking on as I tried to avoid the terror that was the clickers. Feeling a chill as I played through all the seasons in the game. The finale of the game finishing and me going to get breakfast from Burger King after since it was 7 AM. Now I get nostalgia anytime I get a summer chill from too much AC or I spend time late into the night.

Not that I can force you to play games and honestly that should never be the case. The only thing I can say is this summer I strongly suggest just focusing on one solid game to make a memory out of. For me, I have Rage 2 I know I want to slam through, but I also know I need to beat Horizon Zero dawn. A game that once again has just sat on my backlog and is giving me that itch to play through.

The last little bit here is I know gamer block can be a frustrating as hell thing to go through. When you lose the desire to play games and that is one of your main hobbies it can just suck. We all hit it, I hit it with all my hobbies at a time. It slows everything else down too and suddenly you are scrolling Facebook for another three hours. So if you need to get through the block or that hump you find yourself in, just focus on a single game this summer.

Make it your Summer game, make it a memory and enjoy the season.

Feature Photo by Paul Varnum on Unsplash

Movement

I can’t lie I haven’t been myself the past week. Personal things have gotten me down and it was an uphill battle even yesterday to get some words written down. All I could bring myself to do over the past few days was work, eat, and attempt to get some sleep. This happens, all of us go through depression or changes and have to give ourselves some extra time to get our momentum going. This article is about the one factor that can get you out of your dark depressive state and really attack life again.

This is about movement.

As in all things I am a gamer and I would like to throw out a simple example to illustrate the importance of getting yourself running and moving.

Level 1-1 of good classic Mario Bros on the NES is something that millions of people have played. Some memorizing the level to the point they know where to hit every jump and how to always get that flag pole to register from the very top. I have also seen people miss the very first jump in that game and say out loud, “I can’t do this I am bad at video games.” Well, Confucius was right when he said, “The man who says he can, and the man that says he can not, are both correct.”

I thrive off of the simple moment of showing someone that in that level all you need is to give the little plumber some movement and momentum and you can more than clear a jump! It is when the new player stops and looks at the hole and then jumps with no movement that they fall down and lose their life.

Now we all stop, things hit us, we trip and fall on hard times. Sometimes you miss someone so much it feels like your heart is ripped from your chest and you find you are at a standstill on the things you normally enjoy doing. None of that will get better until you make a move.

james-pond-191266-unsplash.jpgPhoto by James Pond on Unsplash

When I am helping a good friend out of a depressive state I start with the smallest step possible. Something small that they know they need to do and get them rolling. I ask, “Hey did you drink some water today or get a shower in?” Sometimes the answer is no, that is okay, sometimes we just need a little help. I’ll bring their dehydrated ass a bottle of water and get them moving. Suddenly the next day they text me and say, “Hey I showered and already drank two glasses of water, just letting you know so you don’t bother me.” At that point, I’m just happy they started moving since that was half the battle.

It is important since unlike that little Italian plumber we don’t have multiple lives. I like to think we do have a reset button to get the level rolling again at times, but really it is that we can climb out of the hole. Our Platformer known as life is a level that we don’t know how it ends. We may run up against a mean boss that we don’t think we can take, or a jump that is in our minds impassable.

Just take a step back and look at all the power-ups you have gained up to this point. Call a friend, grind, exercise and get what you need. Think of it like picking up your speed, each thing giving you a boost until you soar past that obstacle like it was a breeze.

The importance of movement is hard to describe in a small blog. It is something that I need to and will elaborate on further as I go. It is something that if you struggle with I am always only an email away. Start small friends, brush your teeth, make your bed, then get out and hit the big things hard.

Again, we all get hit with depression. You can let it win, and it will win undeniably. However, you can also fight, and when you fight then the victor is something you can help determine.

Just remember until the next one, play games and be happy.

-Shane

 

Feature Photo by Miguel Salgado on Unsplash

Do You Finish What You Don’t Like?

Recently I played all the way through a game that lost my interest after about the first three hours. Nothing was inherently wrong with the game, it just wasn’t fun anymore to me. I’ll talk about that title here, but in the end, I did enjoy the final levels of the game. Something I wouldn’t have gotten if I didn’t push through the middle of the game. So today we are going to look at life and gaming under the microscope of finishing what you started. Even when you don’t like it.

This is a concept that everyone experiences at some point in their lives. It could have been that your parents had you do sports or learn an instrument growing up and you hated it. Perhaps it is that you did the laundry, but you still need to fold it and put it away, or that you signed up for an eight-week exercise class and want to quit after two sessions. I get it, things are hard.

Jumping back and forth here, but when you slow down in gaming there are basically two reasons. The first is a spike in difficulty that throws you off from the normal and halts your progress. The second is the progress just isn’t rewarding or fun to you, through loot or a narrative it can simply die. A game, movie or book all need to keep you going and feel that you are making progress in something. Video games hit a special place for people when we feel rewarded for beating a level, boss or finishing a quest. That special place is good old dopamine. So again when progress slows you miss out on that and your body and mind just wants you to move along.

Already some of you are saying, “I play games for fun, why do it if I’m not having fun?”

Just give me some time to hear me out.

mika-baumeister-1171067-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Stephen Radford on Unsplash

Some games put this paradigm to the test and make them far more difficult than average. This allows you to feel even more rewarded when you do get past to the next point. Again any souls game or even Cuphead can fit into this category. It openly tells you that there is an option to beat it however, in a sense dangling a carrot in front of you to strive onwards. Games that just suddenly require you to be twenty levels higher and the reward stays the same fail at this and lose people fast.

Which brings us to the second problem, when progress is just too slow and unrewarding. The game I finished over the last week was Borderlands The Pre-Sequel. A shock to my system since I had loved every other Borderlands game to date and had only missed this installment from bad timing and not sitting down to go through it. Seeing the trailer for the third game pushed me to knock this game out so I didn’t miss any of the lore that may be needed for that title.

The game had so much good going for it and yet fell flat. Maybe it was from a different studio working on the title, or that the characters didn’t grab you as much as the other games did, sure you have Jack and Athena to really drive it home, the others were just kind of there. Moxxi for instance just happened to have a moon bar, and Lilith and Roland were there on a date? I don’t know, something just felt odd. With this the guns progressed for damage a lot slower, meaning that mundane fights with bandits or “Scavs” in this title took far longer. Also if you wanted to explore the moon, you moved so much slower in the low gravity than you did in other titles normal speed. You would find yourself boosting with your oxygen reserves just so you didn’t move at a snail’s pace.

The first twenty levels of your character dragged hard. I can say that the ending was sweet and as you found out the big secrets in the title it was rewarding to see why things were happening. Even if the Raid boss is just the final boss over again, with more health. Bright side, Tiny Tina narrates the battle and the quest to it.

So why did I even play the game if I didn’t like it?

I learned a lesson in life that I have to finish what I start. I still am glad that I beat the game to check it off my list and to know how it all ended, actually enhancing my Borderlands 2 experience with new lore and insight into the characters. It comes down to something simple than that. In conversation time and time again I mention a title and I get the response, “I didn’t finish that.” It shakes me every time at how many unfinished things people leave going in their day today. I suppose I am weird that if I have something I need to finish it stays on my to-do list until it is done.

Now the goal of this blog is to promote playing games and having fun doing it. So if you don’t want to finish a game, don’t. There is a small chance if you take the time to go finish what you started, you will be that much happier with yourself. Take that into your life and follow it too. Don’t let an opportunity you started pass by you and just complete what you say you will. Find someone to hold you accountable, and put a little time in each day if you can.

In the end, you live life however it makes you happy but damn to I love filling in checklists as complete.

Feature Photo by Stephen Radford on Unsplash

5 Self Care Tips From Gaming

You may not think mental health often when you think of video games. How can something that is just a hobby to so many people end up being helpful to your everyday life? Well after years of gaming I have picked up five simple traits that have helped me that I try to apply every day. Some may come as second nature, others a large change to your day to day life, regardless, the goal here is to maybe impart one thing that will help you with your very own self-care.

Number One – Save Your Progress

Photo by Hannah Olinger on Unsplashhannah-olinger-549280-unsplash.jpg

Journaling at the end of the day is something that you can do to really help your mind shake off all the dirt and grime. A lot of mornings I wake up roll over and journal a little bit to whatever was on my mind over the night. Things that you normally wouldn’t think of in the day sometimes pop in that head over the night in your dreams. Then when you get through all the long slog of the day you write everything out and it helps to give you a good perspective on what you have done and what you need to still do. Little things tend to add up from this, such as I wrote down what I was eating for a solid week and suddenly I was dropping pounds before I knew it. All that from just getting pen to paper.

Number Two – Grind

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When you focus on a task and repeat it until you master it you will get ahead. Other people will see those wins as luck or happenstance, but it is directly related to the time you put into it that you get back in success. When a large boss stands ahead of you in a video game you grind out what you need if you can’t beat it. A game that comes to mind for me was Bloodborne. When I was trying to finish the chalice dungeons up I just couldn’t get a few of the bosses to drop down. I would come close, a hit away, damage short, or my health just wasn’t there. I spent a solid five hours justing grinding through some of the other dungeons, listening to metal music as I went, determined to finish those bosses. When I returned they fell easy! Sure I overleveled more than I needed to but I wanted them done, and in life, if you want to make the hard things easy you have to grind.

Number Three – Equip The Best Gear

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Many times I have heard that the two things you invest in are a good pair of shoes and a good bed. If you aren’t in one then you are in the other so invest wisely in both. In a video game sometimes you go for what looks cool on the character instead of what hits the hardest of is actually effective. I see people do this in real life with getting things that are bad quality and in the end spending more on the same item over and over. Take the time and save up for what you really want or you will always spend more on the worse version. Vehicles, clothing, healthy food versus ramen for days, buy the best gear and use it. The extra money put in will normally repay itself tenfold.

Number Four – Heal The Party

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You never know when the next battle is in life. When you ignore the small things that add up on you suddenly they become not so small. I have too many times in games not used a potion because I think it isn’t enough damage or not a big deal and then suddenly I am loading up an old save hours behind. You have to go around and do the small things, you have to brush your teeth, shower, get to the gym and see the damn doctor if you are hurting. When you don’t heal the party suddenly things just start snowballing down and you will be regretting that you didn’t “use your potion” sooner.

Number Five – Hard Mode

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Yes I know I wrote Are You On Hard Mode? not too long ago, but it is slowly becoming my mantra. Take the hard road in life and everything will start to be more to you. When you fight all the way to the top of the hill the view is better than the flat road. You get better loot when you fight harder enemies and you are the only person who can set your difficulty at the beginning of your adult life. Tutorial mode finishes and you get to see the world how you want it too.

All of these Self Care ideas are things that I have mentioned or talked about before, but I want to always try to help you push forward. I like to surround myself with people who like to go the extra step, people who want to fight and do the hard things. If you are ever struggling and wanting to get further ahead just send me a message and I will always try to help if I can. I know things look grim at times but follow these five and aim ahead and things will get better.

– SCH

Feature Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

 

 

Brick Wall Board Games

On my list of things to do today, I have, write a blog post about a board game called Seasons. Overall the things I have pumped out and written since I started this blog up, none of them have made me hit a brick wall when it comes to getting the words out. So I will be talking about that problem, but I do want to discuss the future of a board game day in general with all of you amazing readers.

Here is the problem.

Tabletop games are a large part of my life and I am around them often. I work with them and they are always there, yet somehow I draw a blank talking about them sometimes unless it is the week or months current demo. I get into my salesman mode over a game when writing when really I just want to talk about why I like it and how it is fun to me.

I noticed this in two places. One was that they are the least read topics out of anything I do. That is fine and somethings will be noticed and others will not. The interest of the readers and having conversations with you is the most important part of all this to me. I think I could easier talk about why Bastion is probably my favorite or second favorite game soundtrack over why Seasons is one of my favorite drafting games.

The reason why I can is that one is a passion. Something that I enjoy talking about and getting reactions from and seeing how you all react to them too. Having someone message me in an email and having it say they picked up a game after I talked about it made my whole day awesome. The other just still makes me feel like I am trying to sell something to you. Which if you saw me during the day at work, that is exactly what my goal would be. I want this blog to be a passion and not just more work.

That leads to the second places that I noticed this problem and that was my blog about Star Realms. I adore that game! It is something that I would gladly play if someone asks me too and enjoy it the whole time through, and yet still I made the thing sound like a sales pitch to my dismay. I felt that I was drifting from what I want this site to be and to grow into and that is a place to talk about games for fun and why we all enjoy them.

I don’t care if you play Minecraft to level out a mountain, beat the Ender Dragon, or to dig a hole. I care that you are happy and having a damn good time during it.

I don’t care if you go out to the movie for the plot, the date night, or the popcorn. I care that you enjoyed yourself and it gave you something to leave with. That you left with more than you brought.

Each time I post I worry that I will waste your time and that is the worst thing that I could possibly do with this site. So I need to really get down to my brass tacks and figure out what I like talking about so you get the best I can provide.

As the site expands and now has twitter and twitch is about setting up and ready to go I think making the time I do post matter more is the most important part. This summer along with my 40-50 hours at my game store job I plan to work another job as well to get a vehicle paid off and to upgrade my car to a newer one. I miss road trips and getting out to see everything, so I want to return to doing that as well. Turns out that is a lot simpler if you have a safe vehicle to rely on.

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Does this mean the end of board game posts?

I don’t think it does really. I like talking about things and at times boardgames will pop up and I will show why I love them, to try to share some of the joy with you. I know there will still be a post about the Game of Thrones boardgame, one that I have dumped hours and hours into. Really what I think the board game side of things will come down to is I will reach out to my network of friends and have someone who writes about them with a passion about boardgames instead. A few people already come to mind and they can hit the topic harder than I can anyways.

With this, I hope today wasn’t a waste for you. Sometimes all this website may turn out to be is a journal of sorts, but I will always be transparent with you guys and let you know what is going on. The other good news is I don’t think I will have any gaps in posting this week as a motivation based one for Friday crept into my mind, and I want to talk about it.

No matter what, go out and enjoy what is there. Play some games and be happy!

-SCH

Feature Photo by Susan Yin on Unsplash