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.

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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

Life Is A Platformer

Don’t miss that call it could be important! Did you make it to your work on time? Did you remember to eat so you had enough energy to make it to the meeting with the boss? No matter how you look at it everything in life can be translated into a video game. In this case, it is all 2D.

That call could have been making it over the jump in a level that led to failure if missed.

If you didn’t complete the level in time you fail, same goes for missing work or an important family event.

Don’t get that mega mushroom and I’m sure you won’t have an easy time with the endgame boss.

I know that a lot of people see every day as a challenge and an uphill struggle that makes you stretch and get there. Taking a moment each day to see things in a different light, or a more lighthearted one even can change how everything goes.

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I mentioned in Starting The Day With A Win that I have a routine I try to do in the morning to get the ball rolling and really get pumped for what lays ahead. I tell myself that mission one is making that bed. Mission two is power up with food so you can take on the day. The biggest tasks that I look at remind me so much of how life is like a platform game than possibly any other.

Things in these games, like Mario, Sonic, Braid or even Never Alone are simple to start and they progress harder through the respective levels. So many people have stormed passed level 1 -1 of the original Mario Bros. How far have you gotten without the continues? Have you actually gotten to the right castle before and saved the princess?

I like to think of all the different stages you have in life as different levels you can have. Each year is marked down as a long level, each month, day, or even sometimes minutes if its a really hard moment. I set my goals up based on these different timepieces and in my journal write down all the big obstacles I have coming ahead of me. In my year goals, I have twelve months I have to get through so my level time is defined, what bosses sit at the end and how much of the special item do I have to collect?

In an example, this year I know I am getting debt free. I am getting a newer vehicle, jumpstarting my online presence in writing, and completing all my backlogged video games. There are so many other things on the list as well, but let’s save you some time here loyal reader.

Many of those things listed can be completed with one thing. Money. So my coins from Mario or golden rings from Sonic are defined as dollar bills in this case. I then add up my total cost for everything I want to accomplish and get that down too. Then I divide it all out and see where I sit as I break it down into tinier levels. After all, a day level isn’t going to be as hard as the whole year, and as long as I hit the daily goals it builds into completing that larger goal.

So I know what I have to collect in the level, then I start out with my fear setting. The large obstacles that I can run into. Tim Ferris has a lot to say about this topic through TED talks and his books. I advise both if this is something that interests you. With the fear setting, I am able to understand the obstacles and adequately prepare for them before hand. I know that after two weeks of dieting or three weeks of working two jobs I will hit a wall. I have been there, I have failed, and I learned more about the level. Writing down and mapping the level out helps me know when I have to jump before I even get there. Now I am finding my hand reaches for the water before even thinking about the Pepsi because I can’t complete the level otherwise.

Photo by Ian Chen on Unsplashian-chen-522675-unsplash.jpg

Complete the obstacles, collected the items and already you are almost done with the level, you just have the boss at the end. This is where you put your largest most blatantly hard task you have. In day levels for me, it’s usually getting to bed on time. Something that I lose a lot, but it teaches me the next day when I wake up how important that is to do. My devious weekly boss is staying in budget. Something I struggle with daily, but I know I have to do to get by. That yearly boss that I hate looking at is my physical fitness. Sure I can save money and pay things off, but it is easy to ignore what is in front of you.

Make the boss yourself and have your own Dark Link battle. It isn’t pleasant, but it needs to be done.

Life is simply a platformer that you make and build. Construct your level, find and prepare for the obstacles, and take down that boss. Only you can do it. There is no Obi-Wan coming, you are your only hope, but you also know the only path there is to take. After all, you are the one crafting your game.

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Weekend Blur

Sometimes everything passes by you in the blink of an eye. You get to work at ten in the morning and suddenly you are leaving at four AM. Normally this is a schedule you wouldn’t want to have, but every once in a while for a special event, it is totally worth it. So for today’s quick little article, I am going to tell you about all the gaming that was had at work that kept me away.

To give you a quick preface, my full-time job is at a game store. Been there for years and love it, but decided to also do this blog on the side for my own enjoyment and to branch out a bit. It helps scratch that itch I get at times to go out and write. The game store hosts all kinds of events throughout the year and this last weekend was the release of a large magic set. I talked about it a bit in The Culture, but this was a big one for a lot of reasons.

War of the Spark in Magic the Gathering brought a lot of high powered cards to the table and advanced the plot of the in-game lore significantly. Much in the same fashion of Game of Thrones and Endgame this last weekend, Magic also wrapped up years of work and the big bad guy battle.

With this culmination of work getting put together, people showed up from all over to play in the prerelease. A chance to get to play with the cards a week before the set even officially comes out and to get together with other fans of the game to talk and trade. Every person has their own goals when coming to one of these events. For some it is fun, others it is the competition and trying to get first for more packs, myself I like to trade during the weekend. My first goal when a set comes out always is trading as fast as I can for a playset of each card. A playset is four in this game, with that being the max amount allowed in a constructed deck.

Friends and I joked about where we would be going next in the story as I read the Novel that was released for the set when I did finally get home. Part of the beauty of Magic is that the set pieces can change radically from location to location. An eldritch horror set can be followed by a steampunk one, all from the way the story advances between planes, something I will love touching upon soon. All the guesses aside I do want to thank everyone who did trade with me and helped me get closer to getting a set of the cards I need.

Now with me working the events I got out the shop around five am for the midnight release, midnight the next day and a little later the last. Many of these hours going into trying to get ahead on things with this upcoming weekend being big too. I always have loved the fact that at my job there is something new on the horizon every time you look.

To mitigate the busy weekend I have ahead I am going to pump out the articles and schedule them to post in advance this week. This blog has a lot of relearning attached to it on how to maintain a site. I love to think I will get back and still write something out, but priorities tend to shift and sometimes the minutes slip through your fingers like sand. To be fair when I was home I didn’t want to tear myself away from the book I’m enjoying either and that was a large part of it.

The largest thing about this blog is I don’t want to become known for “calling in sick” and you great readers missing out. I was given a few messages asking if I was doing okay since I missed two and it made me smile even though I had to admit I was just not getting to them. It did push me harder today as work finished and I got my chores out of the way. Doesn’t matter how old you get you still have to clean your laundry and do your dishes. With everything settling and my eyelids already getting heavy I just wanted to get this out there and thank everyone once again.

Photo by Tamar Waskey on Unsplashtamar-waskey-647177-unsplash.jpg

The schedule for the rest of this week is as follows.

Tuesday we will be firing up a new motivational post to really get you guys excited for the summer and the week in general.

Wednesday we have a brand new top five that I am excited to talk about. One that many people will chime in on I am sure, but I look forward to hearing opinions.

Thursday we have a tabletop game that I have enjoyed for years and wanted to bring to the table and show all of you. It is colorful, quick, and has an amazing drafting mechanic.

Friday I am popping out a game review even though I usually take this day off to get you guys some extra content for the missed days this last weekend. I wouldn’t be at this point without you guys and I plan to stand and deliver.

Saturday is talking about a few separate things involving comics and books that I’ve wanted to touch on for a few weeks.

Then we will finish strong on Sit Down Sunday with a co-op game you and a loved one have to try out.

I know this page isn’t much yet, but it is growing every single day with all of your help and that is awesome. So Listen up for that Facebook notification when a new post pops and I will excitedly see you all this week.

-Shane

Feature Photo by Sandeep Swarnkar on Unsplash

Tabletop Lifestyle

We were knee deep into a game of Betrayal at House on the Hill when someone walking by asked, “What are you guys doing?” A normal question, but a surprise since we had fully immersed ourselves and forgotten we were at a pizza place. A quick answer told them about the game and they were excited to know that they could bring the game in there as well.

Sometimes with things like that, I smile because people forget that they are allowed to go places and nerd out and be happy. I know that when my group of friends travels out of town and we sit down before a large magic tournament our talk may sound like gibberish to many. One of us at a large table usually is re-sleeving his deck up in between bites of a burger and trying to figure out the exact fifteen cards they need to use for their sideboard.

 I’m describing taking what you love in tabletop games and embracing it.

Many times growing up my friends would play card games or Game Boys we snuck in during recess. If someone caught us that wasn’t a teacher we had to hear over and over how we were nerds. It was an interesting experience getting made fun of for something you love. Something that I thought for most people would go away as they got older, but for many, it hasn’t.

A large part of it is different generations not understanding how much the gaming medium has changed over the years. I have had times playing a Star Wars game and my Dad asks what movie I am watching, mesmerized by the action taking place and not believing that I am controlling it. Things have grown and advanced and a lot of this article has been sparked by the popularity of things like Game of Thrones and Endgame this week. A sort of pride of being a gamer and nerd and seeing these things hit strides so large that everyone is talking about them. Except for those few people who some reason seem proud they haven’t watched either. I guess they don’t like badass things so the joke is really on them.

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People have started to bridge the gap between all of these different specializations in gaming and nerd culture. I have now convinced people who in their words, “Hate all board games from too many years of Monopoly.” To play the Game of Thrones boardgame with me and then eagerly ask how they can get one or when we can play next. I’ve seen people get into DC deck builder and Marvel Legendary just because their favorite hero is on the box. Things that in the nineties and early 2000’s you just didn’t notice. Well, other than Pogs I suppose.

So  I wanted to bring this to the forefront of peoples minds and propose a challenge in this little blog of mine. In the spirit of For The Sake Of Gaming, I want all of you guys and girls, my loyal readers, to go out and play some games in the public. The largest renaissance I saw of this was during the first few weeks of Poke’mon Go and why did we stop? This weekend when you are out watching Endgame or grabbing a bite to eat, indulge in it. Take your favorite board game with you and a friend and play it around someone in the coffee shop. Be like that old geezer in the beginning of Bug’s Life and play some intense Chess.

Nothing is stopping you from going out each and every day and enjoying yourself. Some of the most painfully stricken people I’ve met are hand in hand with the happiest. They take each day as they can, enjoying the small things.

Photo by Peter Conlan on Unsplashpeter-conlan-687333-unsplash.jpg

I get that Thursday has been a tabletop review and I have next weeks on the works already. This week has been a crazy one with each and every day going late into the night and waking up early to rush into the store for work. Tomorrow night I will be working until about four am and enjoying the release of a new Magic set. This one is going to be huge and I can’t wait!

Fridays are soon going to turn into a guest author edition and if you want to be a person who gets themselves out and writes on here let me know. I want all my friends who have writing as a passion to follow through with it as well, I support you because I know how much you support me. I don’t ask much if you are interested other than the theme the blog has going for it right now. Again please message me with any questions you may have, I want to help.

Until the next time, go out, enjoy the culture, but don’t forget to Play Games and Be Happy.

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5 Horror Levels Done Right

Horror in video games can be something that is lost quickly. All it takes is for a moment to feel goofy to really take you out of the element and help you lose the immersion that you found yourself in. These five games that I am talking about today may not have been a scary game or horror all the way throughout, but the managed to really rock it on one level. Now keep in mind many of these were experienced as they came out and may have a different feel if played now as opposed to then. No matter the case let me know what some of the ones you thought were too in the comments.

WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD

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Number One – Timesplitters Future Perfect – Mansion Of Madness

Timesplitters was always a game that brought you to different locals. You may find yourself far in the future, in the past fighting in the jungles, or in this case a haunted mansion in the nineties. The previous two levels of this game had you working with a character much like Austin Powers and had a really light-hearted fun feel to it. That was that about to change.

As soon as you enter this mansion you could tell things were off. The new character to help you out was a teenage girl that was telling you about all the haunted rumors of the house. Sure there are zombies and giant deer corpse creatures, but that wasn’t the spooky part. The children rooms in the house had rocking chairs and quietly sang to you. It was eery because they didn’t have to put much into it to make you feel uneasy, the whole level was a blast and worth a play through on its own.

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Number Two – Half-Life 2 – Ravenholm

When you were told we don’t go to Ravenholm you should have listened. The Half-life games were fun for their oddity about them. From the guns feeling strong and unique to the craziness that was the G-Man, the game had a certain “feel” to it. So when you heard there was a scary level they added in, you had to give it a try. The headcrab infestation that is plaguing this old mining town is horror done right. The first time playing through this for me was on the Orange Box. I had on a pair of great headphones with full surround sound and was into it, the screams the headcrabs had made me wish I wasn’t. Top that with the fact that you didn’t have many good guns at the time and get ready for a level of horror you didn’t expect from the game until you were knee deep in it.

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Number 3 – Halo Combat Evolved – 343 Guilty Spark

The Flood may be known to everyone who hears the Halo name now, but at the time so many of us had no clue. My friends and I didn’t have internet when the game came out and thought it was just cool looking from fighting aliens. My best bud Matt and I had spent the night at a youth group and played the game nonstop throughout and got it soon after to beat the game campaign ourselves. I remember walking through the swamps and thinking how cool all the different locations in the game were. We played on a beach, in a space ship, in an alien control ship and now these swamps, how neat! I was wrong.

The Flood is an enemy that needs to be experienced to understand why they are a horror type enemy. As the ammo runs thin and they continue to sprint at you, your heart races, you ask your friend if they have shotgun ammo left, you run. The flood in lore is such a huge part of this franchise and later on encompasses much more of the games. To bring it all back home you need to start here, you need to fight the enemy that even the Covenant fear and 343 Guilty Spark knows the way. Obviously, he just wants to help.

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Number 4 – Bioshock Infinite – Comstock House

Many people remember playing through the first Bioshock title and enjoying the horror elements it had. The creepy splicers and the Big Daddies stomping around with all that Adam they are guarding you against. Infinite took a different approach, the bright open sky, and sunshine for days. The game has it’s elements here and there like Songbird and effects your rifts soon have, but nothing could prepare you for the Comstock House.

In the element of the game that shows you the worst possible outcome, you learn why you must be there for Elizabeth. You hear the horrors she has to go through and what it ultimately turns her into. The Boys of Silence in this portion of the game reminded me what a scary enemy can mean. The lunatics that are normally docile beings leaping at you like no other when the Boys blare their horn. You want to see a dark future, give this level a play.

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Number 5 – Fallout 3 – Dunwich Building

To be fair I believe any of the fallout titles since three and their own version on the Dunwich Building would have worked. The Dunwich storyline in Fallout follows a strong Lovecraftian horror. In a game that is about Nuclear Apocalypse and how people fair you may think there would be more spooky things. The ghouls may make you jump the first time, but otherwise, the scariest thing is usually if you forgot to save and you die. Dunwich shakes this up with a story of an altar far below the building to Ug-Qualtoth. In normal Fallout fasion, much of what you learn comes from the PC terminals throughout. The descent into madness is a fun read for when you want to feel the horror writing kick in from Bethesda. I personally enjoyed the Dunwich touch in their newest 76 installment the best, but will always remember Fallout 3 for this particular level.

So there you have it, five levels that I believe really kicked you into a horror game. All of these didn’t feel like they would have them until you were there and fighting your way through the masses. I would have loved to save this until near Halloween, but it just kept creeping up into my head to get it typed up. I love games that surprise you with a level that doesn’t fit the mold. Things like how Splatter House reversed you back to 2D at times, it spices it up and keeps each level exciting. Even in the large open world games I always went back to that “level” when I would replay because the lore and flavor were so exciting to experience.

Either way, let me know what you all think. What games shook you up? What ones had a surprise scary level built in? Let me know and I will talk to all of you tomorrow!

Play Games and Be Happy

Shane

 

Feature Photo by Javier García on Unsplash

A Big Thank You

As of my last post, I have officially done twenty of these blogs. I know for many that may not seem like a large number, but it is a great start to something big. Instead of doing my normal review or post about games like I do I wanted to take a single day to talk about the future of this site and where I want things to go. As always any input from you is greatly appreciated and taken to heart. With that, every single like and share you give goes such a long way too so thank you.

Now for the longest time, I had tried to get a blog started to be efficient in my day to day writing. Recently I began this one and have gotten into the swing of things and enjoy what I am doing and talking about what my passion is. The group of you guys and girls that have been following and liking the pages makes me want to rush home after work every day and get another one of these up and sent for you all to read.

Now reaching people across the country with some of my latest posts and across the world even with a few! I’ve really begun to get a rush from the act of writing again and can’t wait to see how big this will thrive.

I’ve noticed that two types of posts get a lot more traction than any of my others do. Those are the top five reviews and motivational posts. Reviews of games are read too but seem to get less traction. There is nothing wrong with that as people will always read what they want to read and I am starting to see what some of those things are.

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I have laid out a long list of what I want to see each and every month from this website and blog. Videos and Podcasts are something that will not happen for some time yet but will prevail through. A few times people have asked me to go live on Facebook or Twitch and that setup won’t take me long. Any help or suggestions here are again appreciated.

Since writing has again taken deep root in my heart I want to also start to bring some of my book ideas to life again. Things ranging from fantasy to old war fiction, I have a ton of great things I want to tell. I plan on releasing these slowly through the year and will look into means that may have Patreon or Amazon for ebooks along the way. As always these things do take time and I enjoy the work I do for a living and am there forty to sixty hours a week without fail. So I will follow my daily goals on typing up words towards these stories and all of you here will be the first to know.

A quick segue. I hope you all understand what reading this really does mean to me. This morning I was able to practically hop out of bed and get rolling with everything. It lets me know that I can do something that I’ve wanted for ages and get some feedback on it. As I’ve written before in The Culture I believe that gamers are some of the best people out there. We don’t bash others who enjoy our same hobby and can form lifelong friendships without ever even meeting face to face. Some people met the love of their lives over games and others have gained true character strength by getting through a challenge in a title they never thought they would.

So really all I ask as this short Tuesday update hits is what would you like?

I have a top five ready to go for Wednesday again and more motivation for you soon. If you like these give me a shout. Send me a message anytime and I will get back to you all. If you see me on Xbox or one of the many gaming platforms feel free to drop in and chat. Tell me what games make you happy and help add more to my list of games to play.

Until the post, tomorrow, remember play games and be happy.

Shane

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