Mac's Blog I just say what comes into my head…


Idea for new TV Show

May not be the best idea ever but im pretty sure Channel 4 would show it along with "Come dine with me" and the other similar theme ones.

Anyway the idea is, they get a random guy off the street (much like they seem to do with Come dine with me, and a fancy chef. The chef makes a really exquisite meal for the random guy off the street and then the guy has to rate it with their primitive palate. Then the guy off the street has to make a meal for the chef, and the chef has to rate it.

It doesn't really matter who wins, as the viewer will win every time...

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Kotaku guy has it right…

Was doing my lunch time perusal of the gaming news and stuffs, and I came across an interesting article mentioning how games have lost their immersion factor.

Why dont i lose myself in games anymore

I completely agree with a lot of the points raised, and have lots of new points of my own, which have caused me to dislike most of the modern day RPG games, as lets face it I only really care about RPG games...

Where did world maps go?
If you go back to the old NES and SNES rpg games you will see that most of them have some form of world map, where you can waste hours just wandering round into pointless areas and occasionally finding hidden treasures. One of my favourite 16bit rpg games was Dungeons & Dragons - Warriors of the eternal sun, which consisted of a huge world map and lots of multiple dungeons scattered round the world. You were rewarded for going off the tracks of the normal path and trying to explore the world they have given you. Same thing in Final Fantasy VII/VIII/IX, you have a world map and you can go off investigating for lots of other hidden treasures.

Now jumping forward to modern rpg games, such as Final Fantasy XIII where there is no such thing as a world map. There is barely the idea of freedom, you are lucky if an area you are exploring has more than 1 path to follow. It makes me feel like the game designers think I am an idiot, and am unable to cope with free choice and many options. Final Fantasy X and the every other inbetween seems to have taken this sort of approach...

How do fancy graphics make up for shit stories?
Staying with FFXIII, my next point on the linear ranting roadmap is graphics. FFXIII is a graphical masterpiece as far as rpg games go, however this doesn't mean it is worth playing. I couldn't care how detailed the character is graphically if they are completely pointless as far as the storyline goes, and it makes me angry that almost all major rpg makers these days feel that they have to all compete on graphics and leave storyline as a minor addition to their technical demo.

If you think back to FFVII where they mixed 2d and 3d to make the game look detailed but also allow the characters to be animated in 3d, it looked great and the storyline elements were brilliant. I completely understand the argument that these days it is probably harder to get someone to make 2d style graphics than it is to get someone to do 3d style graphics, but that doesn't mean you should just try and go for the best possible graphics possible, just find a theme and stick with it... Even if it is a 3d game that *looks* 2d like Paper Mario. Concentrate on what makes an rpg game fun and immersive, the story and characters...

Why try and fix something that isnt broken???!?
How many different battle and equipment systems have you seen recently in rpg games? I assume quite a few... I don't mind them trying out different things, but what does annoy me is when I have to work with an equipment or battle system that makes no sense to a player. Take FFX as an example, there is no clear distinguishing factor as to if a new weapon is better than an old one... where are the stats?? This again is an example of where they think the modern gamer wants less information on the game mechanics, they cannot handle dmg or hit related information... I WANT MORE STATISTICS... why does Pokemon keep so many players coming back? It sure as hell ain't for the story, its because you can try to collect the most powerful pokemon and tweak them to be exactly what you want.

I spent hours on FFVII trying to optimise my equipment and materia, it was a simple system to understand but difficult to master. You could spend lots of time trying to make sure you have got all your blue materia with the right green materia and that you have the best possible slots filled while keeping the equipment quite damaging. It all made sense, even Suikoden had a similar sort of system with its runes and weapons, so you knew that your items would do X damage and the runes would enhance them, making them better against certain monsters.

Why get rid of all this information, maybe they think that it is less immersive as you have to break away from the actual gameplay to equip your items and tally up the numbers, but its completely the opposite and it gets you more immersed in the game, paying attention to all aspects of your character.

Voice acting and realistic animation ftw?
I am torn between if voice acting is really worth it in rpg games, part of me likes it and in games like Tales of Symphonia the voices helped make the game. However in others they just break everything, take White Knight Chronicles as an example, where you find a huge hog looking guy who sounds like a comedic Al capone. Same sort of thing for the animations, some games pull it off well, whereas others try to put in too much detail and just look silly. I really think less is more when it comes to character animation, FFVII and games of that era had it perfect for me, they did a few primitive animations and you as the player were left to fill in the blanks with your imagination. Allowing you to interpret the characters however you want, and this is one of the key things for me personally, being able to use my imagination in rpg games.

To sum up most of my ranting, I wish they would let the player use their imagination more. I don't want to be spoon fed every little detail and storyline arc, I want to have to figure out some of it for myself. I think this is why a lot of people think books are better than films, as the reader makes up a mental picture of the world and characters, whereas in films you see an actor who may not be who you imagined, making it different to what you would want.

Maybe I am wrong, as I am no game designer, but I really think that if things do not change soon the console rpg will be a dying breed... although I cannot wait for Skyrim :)


Fable 3… *sigh*

It was that time again where Jode and myself got bored and fancied playing through Fable 3. After playing through all previous Fable games we were a little apprehensive giving this one a go...

Anyway we started playing and all seemed ok... there was a pointless npc who acted like we were best friends for the intro part, and when forced with the choice of killing her or killing other random npcs we felt she was of little or no use to the story so we had to let her go.

After that there is a simple story involving a rebellion and lots of town rulers who tell you how bad they have it, you try to help them out then move onto the next one... I was starting to fall asleep as the story was a bit dull until after about 10 hours. POW a new storyline element seems to come out of nowhere, involving a hidden darkness and it trying to destroy everything... I woke up again and felt this was the part where the REAL story was going to begin... Unfortunately it was short lived and then the game seemed to fast forward giving me random chores to do and to either screw over the people I promised to help, or actually help them, which put me out of pocket and required some leg work.

Anyway long story short, the last boss dies in like 3 hits and is anticlimactic, the following ending then consisted of a black background and a small amount of text saying about 10 words either praising your actions or telling you that you failed.

I haven't bothered to dig into any of the gameplay aspects of the game, as if you have played Fable 1/2 it isn't anything new. Although I did like Mr Ross and Fry's voice acting, provided some much needed amusement during the boredom.

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WoW feels broken…

So the other night I was told i needed to update to 4.0.X, and I thought AWESOME i can actually try out some of the new changes i've been hearing about.

After getting the update and getting in I felt underwhelmed and a bit dissapointed. I will try and break down what i'm annoyed about and why...

General Performance
The game seems to be running in general about 15% slower than it used to across all things, in built up areas it crawls but used to be fine, and thats with exactly the same settings but the water details turned down. God forbid i go anywhere near water with the water settings up high, it instantly goes from 60fps to 40fps, its crazy.

Talent/Skill Changes
I came into this patch only hearing brief rumours about new skills and talent changes, so I was caught off guard with the talent changes, which seemed pretty huge. I was not a massive fan of what they have done, especially considering they were trying to make out they are getting rid of useless talents and making it so there are less *cookie cutter* specs, but this seems to do the exact oposite.

Some of the new skills are pretty cool, like the soul burn move for warlocks is nice, but I'm finding it all really unbalanced and confusing, everything worked fine before and this doesn't seem to be any sort of improvement...

There are so many glitches i've encountered so far, here are a few that have really annoyed me:

- Mouse over-ing the pumpkin at the headless horseman event crashes wow
- Clicking on a conjured mage table crashes wow
- Clicking on certain flight path people crashes wow

Overall it just feels like its still in beta, alot of spells and animations still dont seem to display correctly, and its awful getting a group then finding everyone crashing so you have to leave giving you a debuff...

Overall im thinking that they should have kept this patch back a bit longer until it was at least stable, im finding it really dull at the moment and have next to no freedom with my talents, although I am liking dual speccing now i can afford it :D

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Top 5 Games – continued

So continuing on from the previous post here are my *current* top 5 single player games.

5th Place - Grandia II
This game originally did not make the list, but then I thought back to the first time I played it. Not knowing what it was or why someone had thrown it in with my Dreamcast purchase.
After putting it on I was amazed at how the game looked and the voice acting and world design, the battle system also blew me away.
The characters and story may not have been the best, and it may have just been the buzz I got finding this gem when I was bored and stuck at a relatives home waiting to go to university. Either way im putting it at 5th position, but im sure that in 30 mins I will realise I should have put another game here.

4th Place - Resident Evil (Original)
This game was one of the first PSX games I was lucky enough to see. A friend had gotten a PSX for christmas although I will admit I had never heard of it at the time, and knew more about the 3DO and Jaguar than I did about that console.
Anyway another friend got one and invited me round to play this new game he got and I was completely immersed in the bad voice acting and wooden character animations, but at that age I couldnt care less about these faults.
I loved the fact that it had you at the end of your seat for the majority of the game, not knowing what was waiting around the corner, and what crazy part of the story would unfold next.
The graphics were pretty good for their time, and although people critisize the voice acting and camera angles, they just added to the whole thing in my opinion.

3rd Place - Baldur's Gate
When most people were doing GCSE revision, I found my time was better spent playing one of the best PC RPGs ever released.
Oz and myself spent soooooooooo many evenings playing that gem after rushing round to my uncles house after school to play on the PC (long story about having to have my PC at my uncles house).
The games graphics were vibrant and well put together, the D&D mechanics were brilliant and the storyline and character interactions were second to none.
We re-played that game so many times, and each time found something new, be it a new area, NPC, quest, item. It was possibly the only game I could put on in the morning and I would suddenly realise it was evening. Last time that happened it was D&D on the megadrive... which to be fair should be in this top 5 now that I think about it.
Baldur's Gate also had brilliant multiplayer and the sheer variety of character combinations and storyline choices made every multiplayer game feel different and new.

2nd Place - Final Fantasy VII
Not really cared *that* much about any of the other FF games, never played it on the Snes or Nes, although I did play Illusion of Time which was a brilliant Snes RPG.
Anyway back to the game at hand, I bought this game without having a PSX nor a memory card (I was young/stupid and had recently been given £30 for christmas or something), so I invaded a friends house, kicked him off his PSX and let one of the best opening sequences for any game unfold.
From that point on I was hooked, I even had to contact another friend to get a memory card so I could save my 7 hours of progress.

The storyline in this game seemed to be easy to grasp to begin with, but brilliantly paced. Although the more you play the crazier it gets and the more and more it becomes a challenge to understand what is going on and why Cloud is a gibbering wreck in a wheel chair... It had a great battle system and with one of the best equipment systems in any FF game ive played (materia system) it kept me hooked trying to find new rare materias and trying to search the world map finding hidden things.

While im on the subject what ever happened to the world maps, did someone take offense to them, or it was deemed to much effort to put in? The world map in this game was as much fun as the areas within the world.
The characters were brilliant and memorable, I knew their motivations, their back stories and they entertained me to no end. One of the best console RPG games to date imo... well apart from the first position.

1st Place - Suikoden I/II
Normally I wouldnt be allowed to include 2 games in first place, but luckily they did release the 2 games in one pack in japan, so I think that allows me to do so.
Anyway these 2 are the king of console RPG games, they have epic storylines heaps of memorable characters and events, simple but fun battle systems and world maps.
After Suikoden II they decided to persue a different set of characters and timeline, whereas Suikoden II follows Suikoden I a few years later and includes alot more of the characters and feels alot more like a sequel.
The amount of times you can replay these gems trying to collect everything and all characters is crazy, also changing your runes and other equipment to see what crazy combination attacks you can create make it a classic...

Games that didnt make it
There are lots of games that didn't make it on here...

- Pokemon
- Legend of Zelda - Link to the past
- Wild Arms
- Unreal Tournament
- Mario 64
- Mario Kart 64
- Warriors of the eternal sun (FULL OF WIN)

And many more...

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Top 5 Multiplayer and Singleplayer Games…

Now for those who dont know me that well im extremely volitile when it comes to naming my favorite games, films, tv shows... I will pretty much change my mind every few weeks but we were having a discussion at work yesterday and I came up with a top 5 list of each fairly quickly, although im sure i've missed out some gems in there, and it has changed slightly since yesterday...

The original discussion can be found here, on Tom's awesome blog site thing.


5th Place - Counter Strike
I have only really put this game in because we used to have alot of fun at the LAN nights playing Jeepathon and/or other crazy vehicle based levels. I would also like to add that the halflife level with the rollercoaster was a gem too.

4th Place - Diablo II
During the end of high school a slice of awesome pie was released unto the world. I spent many hours round at Col's place playing coop trying to beat his minmaxed paladin (which was impossible).
It was one of the few great PC games for its time that stood up well in single AND multiplayer, and as you could have loads of friends in one game it also went down well at the LAN nights, where we would all start new characters and just see how far we could get.
The game had brilliant graphics and character diversity for its time, with almost every character equipment combination looking unique, and the gameplay was brilliant, even if it did turn into a bit of a grind later on.

3rd Place - World of Warcraft
These days im not really a massive fan of the game, however back when it had first come out I loved the crafting and instance elements to the game. They had fused the best parts of pretty much all other MMOs of its generation and polished it up well.
The main problem I found with the game was the game seemed to enforce the *look after number 1* mentality, as you only did instances to get yourself more gear, you only joined a guild so you could get into the harder instances to get yourself more gear, see the pattern forming... Alot of other games tried to make guilds/clans more than just a raiding party, so you could get guild housing or take over areas of the world. Wow just fell short on this area for me, which is why it got boring after a while, saying that I still have about 7 level 70s.

2nd Place - Neverwinter Nights
Now this was a BRILLIANT game, the single player campaigns may have been a bit tripe at times, but the persistant world servers were quite possibly the best long term multiplayer experience i've had to date, which is why im so bitter about NWN2 being such a dissapointment.
It really gave me as a player what i wanted from multiplayer games, lots of variety, such as crafting, exploration, combat, story, character development, constantly evolving world.
It gave me everything an MMO would, apart from the thousands of people, but to be honest I found this alot better, as you got to put a name to the face. With only 50 players allowed on the server at one time, you got to know most of the regulars and there was always someone to talk to or do something with, and as they had active GMs there constantly changing the world and adding new content it gave you a reason to log in, as you NEVER knew what was going to happen.
Mez's legendary last words when walking towards a Dire Bear saying "Don't worry, i've got gloves of Animal Empathy +1" will be remembered forever.

1st - Battlefield 1942
If im honest, NWN really should be sat here... HOWEVER BF1942 gave me so many awesome gaming moments and would be more applicable to the masses I thought it should be promoted.

I remember the day Mez came back to Uni after the christmas hols and told us that he had got this great game called Battlefield. I was a bit sceptical as I had played lots of multiplayer centric games before that tried to involve vehicles but failed...

HOW WRONG I WAS... this game was amazing...

The graphics were great for its time, the levels were well designed, the vehicles gave so much freedom, it was a golden age for FPS/Vehicle multiplayer gaming for me.
I remember when Rolf, Jode and myself were flying a bomber in market garden, but were forced to land in a ditch on the enemy side so Jode could get out and repair it. As hes doing that 2 tanks are starting to head up over the hills towards us, I start the engines and prep for an almost impossible vertical takeoff... Just as the tanks are within distance I got some air and Jode jumped back in, flying away from the enemies laughing our asses off... there are so many great moments in this game that involve driving random players through minefields on a jeep, to trying to land an upside down plane on Jodes tanks, even re-enacting a scene from Regin of Fire, but replacing the dragon with a bomber plane.

The vast array of levels with different vehicles and lots of great areas to do stupid stuff in really made me and the rest of the guys laugh, and thats what games are there for, to give us some fun...

Will be posting the single player list later on...

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Kinect vs Move?

So I was half tempted the other day to buy a PS3 Move controller, primarly because I had some money sitting on a Game store card that I hadn't spent and thought I should do something with it.

After reading the reviews it sounds like the Move will have more games on release and more hardcore games coming out for it, however it just feels like an improved Wii remote. So im assuming like the Wii after playing with it for a couple of months and they decide to only release kiddy games for it then I would bin it.

The Kinect on the other hand sounds alot more interesting too me, not to say it will be any good, but it feels like it could do alot more than the Move, mainly because it can track lots more stuff and you dont need a controller.
The latter reason being a double edged sword really as I like controllers and it would feel weird without one, but on the flip side you can prance around the room like an idiot without having to hold a piece of plastic...

Neither seem to have any usages at the moment that make me go WOW, although I want them to release a starwars game where you get to properly hold a lightsaber and bean people and random entities in the face.

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Scott Pilgrim Movie Was Awesome!

So I went to the cinema the other week with a few of the guys to see Scott Pilgrim. I never bothered reading the comics, and only really knew about it because of a random trailer I saw a while back.

I was expecting it to be semi amusing, but fail like most game movies because no one would get the references or it would just be outright crap.

Anyway I was pleasently surprised by how awesome it was from start to finish, the cool thing was that there were LOADS of references to games dotted around, such as the link sounds at the start and even the bands name, however they can be quite subtle at times so the people who didnt get it didnt care.

Anyway cant be bothered waffling for ages but definatly recommend watching it if you have ever played a game, or had a fight, or have eyes...

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Online Again…

Well its been a while since I bothered having and using a blog, but I thought I should update and use wordpress rather than trying to maintain my own type.

I have ported over about 65% of the old posts/articles that I had on the old site, however all comments have been lost :( and all images will have moved, so it will just be text only stuff in the old posts.

I will try and port the rest of them over later!

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So… Diablo III

So who saw that one coming?

Personally im looking forward to D3, hpoing that it will at least recapture some of the GREAT gameplay that was in the previous games. Many a LAN was had where i would end up getting extremely frustrated at being killed on the first level in Hell mode as Col sprinted through on his god like paladin whos only move was to dash at monsters with some hefy mace and some stupid aura that does 5000% more damage or something... good times.

The game play trailers looked a bit average until they got outside, i thought it looked superb the way they had managed to keep the outdoor environment looking like a piece of artwork. They also kept mentioning how they were going to keep the game orientated around coop play, which is one of the best things about this series, seems like Bliz are one of the best game related companies at the moment so im sure things will be great.

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