Wizards Unite Has Confounded Me

I’m a Hufflepuff, I’ve seen all the movies, read all the books, won a pub quiz (granted that was a team effort), been to Harry Potter studios (UK version), I really don’t want to know how much money I’ve spent on merch… Basically, I’m a pretty big Harry Potter fan (Not the biggest by any means, but still). I was also a big fan of Pokémon Go when it came out so when Niantic’s latest venture, Wizards Unite, was announced I was pretty excited (obviously I’ll be comparing the two throughout this post). The big day finally arrived and I downloaded the app, very keen to start playing. I’d planned to walk into town (about a 20 minute walk) with the app to start me off and meet some friends for a drink, I set up the game and the chirpy Constance Pickering introduced herself and the game. Then she kept introducing stuff… I need to start walking now, let’s go Constance! This introduction is a bit long for a game where you essentially walk and collect stuff and I missed a bit of plot by getting frustrated and skipping text until I could walk around. Constance basically goes on about Confoundables that have appeared and you need uncounfound them, that’s basically the overall jist of the game.

What are Confoundables then? Well, as far as I can tell (from my skim reading and impatient tapping) Confoundables are some sort of dark magic spells and beasts that have removed ‘Foundables’ (I know, eye roll) aka creatures, students, ministry workers, artifacts, quidditch supplies, etc. and scattered them across the world which, as their insanely creative name indicates, you need to find. As an SOS (Statute of Secrecy) worker you need to find the lost Foundables, unconfound them, and return them to their rightful place by tracing patterns/spells on your phone and overpowering the Confoundable protecting the Foundable. Where do the Confoundables come from? Why are they here? Who created them? We don’t know but as you return more Foundables to their rightful place Constance, Harry and other characters we know and love try to unravel the mystery and have chats about it. This sort of indicates that there’s an end-game and that we’ll eventually discover who’s causing all this…

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Back to my walk… Maybe I’m just incredibly impatient or something, I know every game needs a little tutorial but trying to get out on the road was a never ending battle of Constance interrupting me telling me about all these things I was finding and what they did. I can figure it out Constance! Let me move! I didn’t remember Pokémon Go having such a wordy tutorial. In fact, my sister has come to visit for a few weeks and she downloaded Pokémon Go for the first time and was off to a flying start in about half the time I was in Unite. Maybe I should have cleared some time to sit down with it a bit first before trying to immediately set out on my walk but I didn’t think so much would be happening. After about 20 minutes of very slow walking I put my phone in my bag so that I’d actually get to town before the pub closed. To be fair, now that I’ve done most of the stuff there is to do I don’t get interrupted by Constance that much anymore, she still crops up occasionally though, and I guess you need to expect to walk slowly when playing so having a time limit on my first test might not have been the best way to do it. 

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In all honesty I expected this app to be a Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them thing where you collect magical beasts in your Mary Poppins suitcase and maybe collect things they like to kit out the suitcase and make it more homely for them, or certain items that attracts certain beasts to you, maybe you’d have to walk to a certain location to then release it back into its’ habitat, perhaps you can only get certain beasts in certain locations according to the Fantastic Beasts book… Basically a major Pokémon Go rip off with magical extras, maybe that sounds a bit repetitive but I really wouldn’t have minded that. This is a bit more… Everything. Do I want to save a baby hippogriff from a Confoundable whirlwind? Yeah! Of course! Do I want to save a poster from being on fire? Well… Not really, no… Do I want to save Filch and Mrs Norris from being chained up? No, he’s a dick, leave him there. Hogwarts and Ministry people trapped in ice? … I really don’t care. It doesn’t quite give you that “Look at this awesome thing I caught!!!” effect does it?

“What did you catch today?”

“A Slytherin Student!” 

“Nice! Where did you get it?” Not quite the same…

I feel like Wizards Unite have tried to bring everything that could have been released later in updates or events out all at the same time and it’s just a little confusing. There’s just too much going on right now; greenhouses, potion brewing, fortresses, lore, ingredients, energy, a surprisingly RPG-esque skill tree when you level up, and so much more… I want to shout at the app and tell it to chill out for a sec. Even though I own a scarily large amount of Hufflepuff branded clothing and accessories in an attempt to make my life more magical the sad truth is that I’m just a muggle really and I’m struggling to take it all in. Unlike the utter simplicity of Pokémon Go, which made it inclusive for pretty much everyone, Unite is too much to take in for people that don’t know much (or anything) about Harry Potter, newcomers aren’t going to care about all this stuff. It makes me worry about what they’ll bring out when they do release an update with more features. More stuff clogging up my map? More lore?

Speaking of lore, I think we’ve squeezed almost everything we possibly can out of the Harry Potter franchise. What else is there to know other than stuff JK Rowling seemingly dreams up on the fly and announces as canon on Twitter? Much like the god awful Hogwarts Mystery app that came out a while ago, the narrative they’ve tried to make in Unite is weak and in my opinion doesn’t really have a place in a game where you’re meant to be walking around most of the time. The only think that hasn’t been done yet, which I think would be pretty cool, is a TV series or something about the Marauders (feel free to take that idea Netflix, Amazon, anyone…)

My last big beef with this game is that I’ve been playing for a couple of days now and I do my fair share of walking, or rather I used to. If you want to unlock those Portmanteaus (eggs) you better not actually look at the app because you spend so long tapping the large amount of encounters, catching stuff, being told what you got as a reward, placing the image in the designated room (like a sticker book), and then maybe you got a special item and Constance or Harry will pop up to tell you about it, getting more energy to cast spells, growing plants, collecting ingredients… My lunch time walks have actually got much shorter. I’ve had the same 5k Portmanteau unlocking since I got the app and I’m still only up to about 3k. There is just way too much on-the-go admin to be done. I find myself standing around for way longer than I want to. In Pokémon Go you’d catch your Pokémon and tap on the Poké-stops as you went past and that was it. Yeah, maybe you had to stop for a minute or two sometimes to catch more powerful Pokémon but it never took that long. Then you’d get home, or sit down somewhere or whatever, you’d do your candy and achievements admin and voilà. Perhaps I need to manage my time with it better, but even if I did I still feel like I’d be standing around a lot.

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Hanging around way too long trying to trap the Dementor, sorry Harry, bye

The one thing I prefer immensely to Pokémon Go however (so far), are the fortresses. Granted, I haven’t played a lot of them yet, and I’ve only played them alone so far (queue the tiny violin.) These are the equivalent of gyms. You can go in alone or with a team and take on the monsters inside the fortresses. Each person plays a role, My profession is a Magizoologist so I’m a tank/healer, the Aurors are basically DPS, and I’m not sure what the Professors do, DPS as well I guess? The goal in a fortress is to take down all the monsters in the room before the timer runs out. This is the first part of the game that I have properly enjoyed, which surprised me as I was never bothered about gyms in the Pokémon era. I was working my way through the levels by myself and having a pretty good time. To be honest, I would enjoy this as its own game. I don’t know if you can join a stranger’s raid if you happen to be near the same fortress at the same time or if you have to be friends, I would assume anyone can join so maybe I need to find a more popular fortress…

In conclusion… It’s not what I hoped, they’re just trying to do way too much all at once. I feel like they need to take some of the ideas of this game (I love the idea of an open wizarding world RPG, for example, there are so many possibilities for that) and put it on a console so that they can properly get their teeth into it and get a much more interesting plot together. When you ask people what they think of the app the response seems to be a pretty non-committal “yeah… I mean It’s OK but…” and most of my friends are Potter nerds so that says something. As bad as I feel saying it as well, it’s kind of made me want to start playing Pokémon Go again instead. I really want to like Unite, and I truly hope it gets an update to give it a big boost but until then I don’t think I’ll keep playing. I want to get my step count back up again.

 

Have you played Wizards Unite? What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with any of my points? Will you keep playing?

The Dragon’s Horde: June Edition

I swear since I’ve been writing these monthly round-ups the time has gone by twice as fast.

What I’ve Been Playing

Overcooked

Downloaded as part of the free PS+ games last month (just as I was about to unsubscribe and save a bit of cash as well, they know how to keep me hooked), I’ve been playing this with my boyfriend who warned me beforehand how angry everyone gets when they play so we’d see a new side of each other. We’re a pretty new couple so when I went from intense, silent concentration to screaming “GET OUT OF MY WAY YOU STUPID PEDESTRIAN! CAN’T YOU SEE I’M CARRYING FOOD?! YOU INCONSIDERATE PRICK!!!” back to intense silence in the space of about 5 seconds, with no warning, the look on his face was priceless. He, on the other hand, is not very shouty when playing games and just concentrates intensely (so far). Hopefully I’ve not put him off playing more games with me.

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First time playing went well…

Knowledge is Power

I’ve spoken about this before somewhat but I’d only every played it with three people (myself included). A couple of weeks ago there was 5 of us playing and it was intense. People were actually forming alliances to take down the top player and then back-stabbed their partners when they became top. It was brutal. I won the second round with the final question being about Britney Spears which stomped everyone else but I had been training for that moment my whole life. Did I celebrate by yelling “SUCK IT!!!”, putting on some Britney and doing a victory dance? That would have been incredibly obnoxious… But I did.

Wizards Unite

I have a lot of feelings about this. I won’t reveal too much as I have a post queued up and ready to go (stay tuned!) but overall… It’s not quite what I’d hoped it would be…

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Sorry Harry… Not really my level you’ll have to wait for someone else to stop by

Spiderman

Still on that Spiderman. Having a very good time, I’m trying to finish it reasonably quickly but all the little side things and collectibles are making that pretty tricky. I’m also terrible at the actual fighting part if there’s more than three bad guys. It’s always just about achievable eventually though which makes it a nice challenge.

Pokémon Sun

Sometimes I’ll go a week without playing this, then play it religiously for a week straight. I’m really enjoying it though, it’s been a long time since I played a ‘new’ Pokémon game so I’m having a great time discovering Pokémon I don’t know about. Also thinking about potential challenges coming up. How interesting do you think a dog-type only one would be? There seems to be enough of them to be able to make it…

I’m going on holiday in July so this will definitely be coming with me on the plane and will give me a good chance to get properly into it as usually I can’t play for more than about 45 minutes at a time.

I seem to have managed to get incredibly leggy, sassy Pokémon so far. Legs is a big thing now apparently?

What have you been playing in June? Have you been playing Wizards Unite? I’ve not seen much about it yet in the blogosphere. What are you playing in July?

 

 

 

Always Game in Good Company

If you have company watching you game that is.

I don’t usually like people watching me play a game, it makes me a little uncomfortable because I feel like I should always be offering them a turn while not really wanting to at the same time… Usually I play games alone but there’s been a few times in the past where I have had people watch me play and it’s not bothered me, mainly because they’ve made it clear they’re OK with it and they have usually been living with me so I’m not going to tell them to bugger off when they live there too.

Recently I started playing a game that I once considered pretty terrible, this time around though I’ve found my experience of it to be very different. The difference? I’d played it in the company of someone before who didn’t like it and until now I hadn’t realised quite how much that had effected my experience of the game. This got me thinking about how other people can impact our enjoyment of something, specifically people sat watching us play, so I’ve written a comparison with a game with a good reputation that was being negatively reinforced by a viewer, and a game with a bad reputation that was positively reinforced.

Back in 2017 I published a post about Batman: Arkham Asylum, basically absolutely slating it (though the post is one of my favourites if you fancy giving it a read) and I stopped playing halfway through due to boredom. I was disappointed at the time because people had been raving about it and I’d heard how amazing it was so I was always a little bemused about why I hadn’t enjoyed it so much.

I decided to pick it up again, mainly because I had just finished watching Gotham and I wasn’t quite done with Batman yet, but also I honestly had momentarily forgotten I’d played it before and had a moment of “oh… This is very familiar” when it started up.

In 2017 my main grievances were with repetitive boss battles, not getting to actually fight Harley Quinn (and Harley’s role in general in the games), basic logic failing to be a thing, convenient but absolutely useless for their original purpose ventilation systems, and the Batmobiles’ premature demise. That is still very much the case, I stand by what I said about those things 100%, but despite those things I am enjoying it this time around.

What’s changed then? Well, last time I played it I was accompanied by my then-boyfriend and as soon as I booted up the game one of the first things he said about it was “Eurgh, this was my ex-girlfriend’s favourite game”, not a wonderful start. As I progressed throughout the game his incessant complaining and pointing out every flaw got in my head and amplified them. Playing it through now, alone, all those flaws are still there but they really don’t bother me anywhere near as much as they did before, or at all even. I enjoy the fight scenes (repetitive as they may be), I love the Scarecrow levels (even though the way they happen should be incredibly avoidable), I like collecting character trivia and reading about all the wonderful,  sometimes just plain weird batman characters, and I am invested in the story. I’ll definitely see it through to the end this time.

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One of the creepy Scarecrow levels
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Kind of wish the Mad Hatter in Gotham was more about illegally collecting hats and headgear.

It’s incredible how differently you can experience something when someone isn’t being incredibly negative and putting a damper on everything, I hope Batman accepts my humble apology.

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Ivy is currently the hardest boss yet

The only thing that still makes me want to throw the controller through the screen is trying to capture the answers to some of the Riddler’s riddles. I took a video for your viewing pleasure. You can’t hear me but I think you can clearly imagine me screaming in frustration:

Let’s reverse the situation here and have a game with a bad reputation turned better because of someone else. Way back in 2012 my best friend (and flat mate at the time) and I somehow ended up with a copy of Final Fantasy XIII on PS3. She’s the sort of person that actually enjoys watching other people play games, that used to freak me out a little as I am usually either bored out of my mind or incredibly frustrated watching other people (“but I want to play”), once I realised she was genuinely happy though I settled into it. The only FF game I’d played before that was FF III on my Nintendo DS so I wasn’t sure what to expect. We knew there were flaws, so many flaws. We laughed at them and yelled SARAAAAAAH at each other randomnly throughout the day, when something dumb happened we would share a glance before bursting out laughing. Not to say the game was bad, but I was acutely aware that if I had been playing it alone there was no way I would still be playing. It’s just not my usual sort of game.

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In a strange turn of events annoying Vanille eventually became my favourite

Eventually we ended up fully invested in the story and the characters (even wet blanket Hope), though I would never be able to tell you what the hell was going on. Luckily the pathways through the levels are pretty linear so while the plot may be lost your character is generally where they need to be.

I may easily be able to pick flaws in this game but they are flaws that I see as mostly endearing and funny, and this is all down to playing it through with my bestie. XIII has a bad rep but I’ve played a few more Final Fantasy games since then, all of which were meant to be better than XIII and I really don’t get it to be honest… They all have overly-complicated plots, similar characters, weird monsters dreamed up on an LSD trip… I don’t understand why XIII gets all the hate. I’m probably just looking at it with rose tinted glasses but I can honestly say that not one of them have come close to matching the fun I had with XIII.

What’s the moral of the story then? I guess if someone is being negative from the get-go about something you’re trying to play then chances are you’re probably not going to enjoy it. Take their negative attitude and drop kick it out the window. Play it when they’re not around, or make it clear that until you decide you don’t like it they can’t say anything bad, or even watch at all. At the end of the day we all have different tastes and skill-levels and you’re not going to like everything that I like and vice versa so don’t be a Negative Nancy and ruin it for the player.

How do you feel about people watching you play video games? Have you had your experience of a game altered through someone watching you play? Do you enjoy watching others play games? What do you call people that watch others play games? There should be a name for it.

 

The Dragon’s Horde: May edition

Yes it’s midway through June so is it a bit late for a May update? Maybe. It went by so fast though and I lost track of time… Well nevermind. It’s hard to know what month it is from my Dragon Cave rolling around in my horde of video games. May I offer you a cuppa and some scones as we have the monthly rundown and we pretend May just happened?

What I’ve been playing

Pokémon Ultra Sun

I had Pokémon fever after seeing Detective Pikachu (which I really enjoyed by the way and recommend, even if you’re not a big Pokémon fan) and I’d been wanting to buy Pokémon Sun for a while but had been holding off. I finally bought the Ultra version, mainly because there’s Mantine surfing available in that one and I wasn’t going to pass that up. I wasn’t expecting much to be honest but I think it’s actually a really refreshing take on the Pokémon series. It’s not the same story, the gym system is different, everything that has been a little problematic in previous games (the EXP share making you overpowered, clothes and hair styles, HMs…) has been very refined… The only thing I’d say is I haven’t really got a team that I’m particularly enamored with yet… I have some good Pokémon but… meh. I’m not that attached. I think a lot of this was the fact that this has been the first Pokémon game where I haven’t seen a starter I want from the get-go. This one was like: “do I want Emo Owl, Steroid Cat, or Ugly Mermaid?” I don’t really like any of them… I chose by closing my eyes and choosing at random in the end and I got Litten (Steroid Cat), he’s very cute now but it’s a shame he’ll turn into Dwayne ‘The Cat’ Johnson later.

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Emo Owl, Ugly Mermaid, and Steroid Cat

That’s my only fault though, other than that I’m having a lot of fun!

 

Spiderman

I was almost converted to digital copies of games until my co-worker lent me Spiderman. You can’t lend people digital copies and now I get to play this for free.

I shoved Batman: Arkham Asylum temporarily to the side so that I could focus on Spiderman to return it faster only to find that it’s basically the same game. The fighting is the same, the gadgets basically achieve very similar results, the sneaking through grates and perching on stuff jutting out from walls, swinging through the city is very similar to flying around in Arkham Knight, that woman in your ear telling you the smart stuff and directing you around… I don’t mind though, it’s a good game and there’s something incredibly therapeutic about swinging around the city.

As it’s borrowed I won’t be as into all the side quests as I usually am so that I can return it faster but if I really like it maybe I’ll get my own copy. Again, much like the Batman games it seems to be blissfully achievable in a short space of time, as long as I don’t get too hung up on the collectibles. I’m about a quarter of the way through now so still a ways to go.

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My Life as a Video Game

I published a post a while ago about what my life would be like as a video game and The Brink of Gaming has published their own wonderful version!

 I had a great time reading this and seeing someone else’s interpretation. A lot of creativity and imagination has been put into it. I particularly like the coffee boost ability and the Dark Doppelgänger as the antagonist, I think it’s a really cool and quite scary idea for a video game antogonist. Take a look!

 

There you go, there’s my monthly round up. What are you playing this month? Have you seen Detective Pikachu and what did you think of it? Most importantly, have a good rest of June!

Sunshine Blogger Award – Double Sunshine!

Way back in April the wonderful NekoJonez nominated me for a Sunshine blogger award and I did write all my answers out, I promise, I just didn’t quite get around to actually publishing them. Then the also incredibly wonderful Hannie Corner nominated me a while ago too!

I can’t believe it’s already June! But I have finally got around to answering their great questions! It may take a while but I’ll do it eventually! Rather than make two posts I thought I’d merge them and make it a double whammy of Sunshine!

Neko Jonez’s Questions

1. Do you think that nowadays there are too many reboots and sequels to old games instead of new IPs?

This is a good question because I am so sick of movies and TV shows being rebooted, so many of which haven’t even aged that badly so there’s no point. Don’t get me wrong some are OK, I quite like the ones that are more “inspired by” than actually based on. We’re talking about games though! Weirdly, in contrast to my complaint about movies, I actually like that they reboot games. There are so many good ones out there that new gamers won’t play because they are too old and to be honest I don’t blame them. If you were born straight into a world of the beautiful graphic standards we are used to now would you really want to play a game that looks like this?

Probably not. So why not reboot it and let them experience it in a new, modern way? As long as it keeps the original charm and essence of what made it so great in the first place of course. You could argue that this is the same with movies but the artwork and quality there is so different; Think about Old Cinderella versus New Cinderella. It’s pretty much the same movie just different styles. In the old movie Cinderella isn’t pixelated and glitchy, she’s a drawing. The only thing that ages particularly badly is the speech and I never struggled with that when I was a kid (sounding old there).

Sequels on the other hand, I can give or take. Again, in games I’m much more accepting of them but much like movies, they’re never usually as good as the first.

2. Can the big studios like Nintendo, EA, Ubisoft… Make Indie games?

I suppose that depends on your definition of an Indie game. The official meaning of Indie is basically “independant” and not associated with a major company so in that case I guess not. I think maybe those companies could be involved in funding a game but not in the actual creation and it could still technically be an Indie game.

3. If one of the games you played in the past gets an HD remake, do you get excited? Would you play the remake?

This is similar to my feelings in the first question: I think that remakes can be very good because they let a whole new generation experience an old game like it’s new. Also, I can’t play a lot of games I used to love when I was younger because they’re too old and won’t play through new consoles or computers. Honestly if they announced an HD remake of Simpsons Hit and Run, Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly, Neverwinter Nights, Baldur’s Gate… I would die of excitement. I am extremely hopeful that they’ll remake the first two God of War games soon as the new one did so well. All I want though is enhanced graphics, don’t change anything else.

4. What do you do during a grinding session? Do you do something else while grinding for resources or characters or do you focus on the game?

I HATE grinding. It’s the main reason I just can’t get on with Final Fantasy games. I get so damn bored. The only one where I’ll do it properly is Pokémon, everything else I tend to suffer later in the game for to be honest because I can’t be asked to grind enough. If I have to grind for hours to manage to do something I just see that as game filler and I probably won’t even bother to be honest.

When I play Pokémon I’ll generally grind while I’m doing something else like watching TV or YouTube.

If it’s just collecting enough resources to do something though and I don’t think it will take that long I’ll usually stick it out and just play. Maybe put some music on. Or if possible just skip that mission…

5. How do you take notes for your articles? Do you write them down on a piece of paper while playing on the game? Do you record your gameplay and write down time stamps?

Notes? Recording gameplay? Time stamps? Haha! I am incredibly disorganised. Generally, if I take any notes at all, I’ll do it on my phone. However, I tend to forget about them. The way that I write is very tangent-y though and I honestly just write as I think and then edit it quite a bit afterwards. I feel like I write too formerly otherwise and it just doesn’t feel like me. The most that I have done is for a post that I’m writing at the moment where I’ve had to a fair amount of research and back up my facts with sources, so that one has got a notes section and a huge amount of random bits of paper scattered around my apartment with what seems like nonsense about dinosaurs and dragons scrawled on them. One day I’ll find them all and put them all in order…

6. What are your least favourite sections in gaming?

Filler. Specifically grinding and long cut scenes that don’t need to be that long. It’s one of the key reasons I have to mentally battle my way through Final Fantasy games, I feel like the majority of actually playing them is just waiting for your turn to attack or waiting for a gratuitous scene to end… Not to say some scenes aren’t worth it (and it’s not all just Final Fantasy games, but they were the first that came to mind) but I have been known to go make a cup of tea when a long scene comes on or even just get tired of grinding and leave the game altogether. At the end of the day I want to play a game, not watch one.

7. What is something unique/fun/interesting about your home town or community?

My home town is Bournemouth, South West coast of the UK! The only fun facts I could think of were “we have a beach and fun nightclubs!” which isn’t that interesting but after a bit of Googling I found out that JRR Tolkein liked to visit Bournemouth and eventually died here… Morbid fun fact?

8. What’s your advice to new bloggers, or even experienced bloggers looking for advice?

It sounds simple but don’t get stressed out about your blog. Unless you’re actually getting a decent amount of money coming in from it then it’s a hobby and you should be having fun with it.

Throughout my 2 years of blogging I’ve seen a fair few bloggers (myself included) have to take a step back and some time off and that’s absolutely fine, it shouldn’t stress you out so much in the first place though. There’s now a constant need to be a ‘brand’ rather than just a person even to the point where our hobbies have become a tool to market ourselves instead of simply something that we enjoy doing in our spare time. It’s hard to not get stressed about blogging when if you post regularly you’re more likely to get more readers, our blog stats are so easy to see, and you get notifications on your phone telling you when someone’s liked a post. If you got into blogging for the stats then great, but I think I’d be mostly correct in saying that most of us initially started because we enjoy writing about something we’re passionate about. Remember what your initial motivation was.

9. Can you answer this question with a wrong answer?

*Squints suspiciously* Probably…

10. Do you sometimes look back at your older articles and think “If I write another article about that today it would be much different”?

Definitely. I’d re-write my entire Nuzlocke Challenge so that it doesn’t read like a poor screenplay. If I do a Nuzlocke again (though I’m still emotionally drained from the last one) I’ll write it in some other format. I get a little stressed out with ‘proper’ writing so I felt safer with the script-esque format at the time but looking back it makes me cringe a bit, and as I got further into the challenge and had to unexpectedly keep introducing new characters I struggled to make it flow nicely.

The Hannie Corner’s Questions

1. What is the greatest weakness of your favorite video game of all time?

I’m not sure what my favourite video game of all time is to be honest. I sway between a fair few depending on the mood I’m in. Let’s say Neverwinter Nights, just for this question though I could change my mind easily. I think the greatest weakness is that it could be a little glitchy. Many times I would get stuck between a wall and some object I couldn’t destroy with no other option but to reload the game. Particularly annoying if I hadn’t saved for a while. I think glitches like that were pretty common back in those days though, it’s rare to have a glitch that impacts your game progress now.

 

2. What is the greatest strength of your least favorite video game of all time?

Really struggling to think of one here…  I know there are much worse games out there but I want to say one I’ve played… I’ll say Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn which made me wish I was watching paint dry instead of subjecting myself to the torment of a mangled Final Fantasy chess game with way less impressive graphics. It does have good reviews though so maybe it’s just me. The greatest strength for it is that my sister really loves it and while I may have moaned at her about it and played it all the way through just to prove to her how easy it was (yes, I can be an arse to my sister…) it is nice to see her find something she likes.

 

3. What is your personal definition of a “perfect” video game?

I like a good plot. I don’t want to be confused, bored, overwhelmed, or feel like it’s getting strung out. It should have a reasonably simple hook but with a good twist ending.

I think there should be a good element of exploration, but it does need to be quite linear too, if that makes sense. I don’t want it to be Open World. It needs to be just the right size for me to be able to go off the main path and get to know the world I’m in a little better but then get guided right back relatively soon without going too far off track.

 

4. What is the most “perfect” video game that you have ever played?

Off the top of my head, and based on what I’ve played fairly recently, I’d have to say Undertale. I haven’t felt that immense satisfaction in finishing a game that is just so wonderful for a very long time. I was actually quite sad for a while because I know that it’s going to be a long time before I get that feeling again, if ever. I was completely drawn into the characters, even the minor ones, the graphics while retro and pixelated were still imaginative and ambient, the plot was fantastic, it was funny, the difficulty level was perfect for me, there’s so much to it… I could go on. I did write a post about just how wonderful I think it is if you fancy getting a fuzzy, warm feeling inside today.

 

5. How would you rank the following media formats in order from your favorite to least favorite to consume:  Video games, Books, Movies, TV Shows, Music?

This is a really hard question, I really love all of these things!

I think that the thing I would miss most would be books. Out of all the above they were my first love and have brought me so much over the years. Even if I don’t seem to be able to read as much as I used to.

Secondly, Music. I really love music. I usually always have some on and I sing all the time, a fair few drivers have seen me on my commute really going for it, I know because I have seen some laughing.

Third, TV Shows. This one was tough, I very nearly put Video Games but sometimes I do just need to shut my brain down and look at something and put in zero effort. There are some great shows out there as well that I would happily watch over and over (Firefly, New Girl, Spaced, Brooklyn 99, Final Space, How I Met Your Mother etc I’m a bit of a nerdy sit-com with a hint of sci-fi fiend) and I really love discussing theories and talking about it with my friends.

Fourth, video games. Is it bad that it’s so far down my list? I love video games (obviously) but I’m not quite as into it as some people. When I was younger I spent ages playing but now that I’m an adult (ugh) my whole lifestyle has changed, I actually exercise now for example, hell I teach exercise!!! You’d never have looked at teenage me and thought that. Being a more active person with actual fitness goals and other hobbies that take up most of my after-work time I find it really hard to find the time for even an hour of gaming, I know that I can’t just play for half an hour, it’s too addictive and, being the vaguely responsible adult I am I actually have a bed time now or I get too tired, I can’t lose that precious extra sleep time to “just one more side mission…” I need to have a nice chunk of time set aside for me to get into it, and like I said before, sometimes I don’t want to have to think, sometimes I just want to sit and watch.

Fifth and final… Movies. I rarely watch movies any more in all honesty. Like with video games this is another ‘I just don’t have time’ thing. Movies are so long now I rarely have time to sit down and watch them. I’ve actually found myself judging if I want to watch a movie based on how long it is, if it’s over 2 hours that’s a point against it. However on the bright side they’ve become more of a sociable thing where my friends and I will have movie nights or I’ll go to the cinema, it’s quite nice really, it makes it feel more special.

 

6. Have you ever regretted buying a video game on day one?  If so, which game and why?

I think the only video game I bought on day 1 was the new God of War game and I didn’t regret that at all. I like to wait for them to get cheaper first to be honest. Though I will be at the front of the queue when the next Dragon Age comes out.

The closest I’ve got was when I bought Dark Souls 1 and returned it three days later.

 

7. What is an indie game release that you are eagerly anticipating?

I’m not really… I usually discover indie games through the Playstation store and think they look like fun. Considering I have a video game blog I’m pretty behind on the up and coming stuff.

 

8. What video game traveling party would you like to join?

The crew from Dragon Age Origins. Allistair, Morrigan, Leliana, Zevran, and best of all, my dog. That dog was the best.

 

9. If you had unlimited funds, talent, and technology to create any game you could ever dream of, what would you create?

So. Much. Choice. I love the idea of being able to develop something where you’re actually in the game, Sword Art Online style but without getting trapped and stuff. I would love a super advanced Pokémon game where you have your own house that you can alter Sim-style into whatever you want to fit your lifestyle in the game. You can go out and catch Pokémon, or befriend them if you prefer, and you could choose to battle with them, or breed them, or just train them. Whatever you want to do. I guess a Sim/Pokémon hybrid with a higher element of adventure.

 

10. Your favorite video game protagonist and antagonist get pitted together in a deathmatch.  Who would win?

My favourite protagonist would probably be Link. He’s been with me most of my life, we’ve been through some stuff together.

I’m going to revisit Undertale for the antagonist *SLIGHT SPOILERS*

The battle with Flowey was so intense and crazy, I loved it. I’m not sure how Link would fare against Flowey the Flower but I think he’d come out on top. The key to Undertale is determination and Link has that in droves.

 

11. What is your favorite video game genre?

I like RPGs but the sort that aren’t massive Open World. I like creating my character, gathering a party, and watching the character grow from the lowly village sheep herder or something to the fiercest warrior in the realm.

 

My Questions

  1. What’s been your favourite movie released in the last year?
  2. Does tea taste better from a pot or from a cup? (Genuinely going to be testing this myself at some point because I have genuine theories)
  3. Which biscuit do you dunk in tea/coffee?
  4. When it’s a sunny, warm day what do you like to do?
  5. What’s your comfort food of choice?
  6. How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
  7. Which game gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling inside?
  8. What was the last game you rage quit?
  9. What’s your feelings on Harry Potter: Wizards Unite?
  10. It’s your birthday and you can have any cake you want! What do you go for?
  11. Name your snacks and beverages of choice for while you game.

 

I’m not going to nominate anyone as honestly I’ve been quite off the grid so far this year and haven’t been able to spend much time reading blogs anywhere near as much as I’d like to. Please feel free to consider yourself nominated and have fun answering my questions!

The Dragon’s Horde: April Edition

It’s been a very lax month in terms of gaming for Dragon’s Tea Party. In fact, the only thing I’ve played has been Batman: Arkham Asylum and even that didn’t get much play time. I seemed to have an incredibly sociable month and was rarely at home but I need to crawl onto the sofa and re-charge my social batteries now so this month should be a bit more ‘video game active’.

What I’ve Been Playing

Batman: Arkham Asylum

It’s a bit quiet at the Tea Party this month with just Batman and myself in attendance. I’m determined to finish Arkham Asylum this month, I’m currently up to the Poison Ivy boss battle and annoyingly struggling quite a bit with it. I’d gotten used to the ‘big dude runs at you, throw batarangs boss format and this has thrown me.

Image result for batman arkham asylum

Coming up in May

Spider-Man

Isn’t it wonderful when you are talking about a game you want to play with someone and they happen to have it and let you borrow it so you don’t have to buy it? Hell yeah. Once I’ve finished Batman I’m going to start playing this, I need to actually make sure that I finish it in a decent amount of time as it’s borrowed, my usual half a year won’t do.

Image result for spiderman ps4

 

I have a fair few posts written out that I just need to edit and put up too so I do have more content on the way!

Blog Update

For the past couple of months I’ve been training to be a web developer, taking me on a whole new career path (turns out marketing just isn’t quite my cup of tea). To practice some of my new-found coding skills I’ve upgraded my blog to WordPress Premium so that I can use the CSS tool. You can expect my theme to change at some point in the near future and I’ll probably play around with it quite a bit so expect a few changes!

Also, if you are a web developer (or similar) and have any tips please let me know! Would love some advice!

Personal Update

A few days ago my lovely pet rat Genji passed away from old age. It came as a bit of a shock as he had a habit of rallying pretty well from being sick but he had been getting gradually worse and unfortunately it was his time. His brother Hanzo died about half a year ago and it’s very strange being pet-less suddenly but they were both old and lived happy lives. Please indulge me as I include a little picture shrine…

 

What have you been playing this month? Is there anything you’re looking forward to playing in May? 

Open World Burnout

Most people rather enjoy a good open world game, hence why so many games that come out now follow that format. You could play these games over, and over again and find things you never saw or knew about in your last playthrough, you could meet characters that you didn’t know existed before and maybe get some gear or side quests that weren’t available to you in the past… They’re definitely one of the best genres for replay value. However, I found myself thinking the other day that I could count on one hand the amount of Open World games I have actually finished:

  • Dragon Age: Inquisition
  • Borderlands
  • Batman: Arkham Knight
  • God of War

Depressingly I think that’s actually it. However, while the list isn’t extensive, and some are definitely more ‘open’ than others, I have played quite my fair share of open world games and here are the ones that I have not finished (off the top of my head):

  • Skyrim
  • Far Cry 3
  • Far Cry 4
  • Borderlands 2
  • Horizon: Zero Dawn
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  • Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  • Assassin’s Creed 2

The three key annoying ones for me on this list are Borderlands 2, Skyrim, and Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I am genuinely invested in the plot of these games and want to finish them, but I always get a little too into my side quests and wandering around not wanting to miss anything, only to then suffer from what I’ve been calling Open World Burnout.

This is when you get so overwhelmed with everything an Open World has to offer that you need some time away from it to play something a bit more linear, or shorter, for a while. You may come back to it later, you may play it on and off, but you need a good break from it every so often.

As the most recent example (and the inspiration for this post) let’s take a look at my experience so far with Breath of the Wild. I played Breath of the Wild for 9 hours straight once and achieved absolutely nothing in terms of plot, I was a little annoyed at myself. A) because time really flies when you play that game and I honestly believed I still had most of the day ahead of me, and B) because I could not tell you what I’d done other than run around collecting monster bits, cooking random stuff together, and finding koroks. I was just exploring and messing about and it felt like a bit of a waste. I haven’t played it for as long since, usually my sessions are max 3 hours and I have very slowly made progress but I get bored of climbing mountains only to find another bastard korok at the top shouting “Yahaha!” instead of maybe a shrine, or a fairy, or something cooler than an annoying, chunky stick chucking a seed at me. This all builds up until I need to take a break for a while. This is a problem I have in most open world games and it always annoys me. Granted some are much bigger worlds than others; Arkham Knight can’t really compare to Skyrim in terms of scale for example, and that’s probably why I actually finished it. Honestly, I do love Breath of the Wild, I think it’s gorgeous and fun in small doses but if it wasn’t a Legend of Zelda game and I didn’t have that nostalgic, loyal attachment to it I’m not 100% sure I’d still be playing it.

Korok BoTW

“Why not just focus on the main plot then?” I hear you cry. Well, wouldn’t that be lovely but every time I get a new quest I just have a desperate urge to finish it, every time I see a shiny thing I need to pick it up, even if I don’t know what it’s for but it might be important! I could be halfway to completing something big in the main quest when I’ll see something that looks like it might be interesting in the distance on top of that inconvenient mountain that will take me an hour to get to. What could it be? I must know. A temple? A crypt? *gasp* An incredible new weapon?!  “Yahaha! You found me!” *Throws controller across the room*. I just really want to know what is there, what if it’s something I’m missing or something that would make my journey easier? Sometimes that is the case but unfortunately not that often.

Another thing that I find to be incredibly tempting in Open World games is to start them from scratch, making a new character with the intention of playing it in a slightly different way. “I just need the right character for me and then I’ll finish it.” You’d have thought the largest and most obvious change would be through alignment which potentially affects the plot, choices and even the items you can acquire, but I find it very hard to play as a bad character in games so my ‘different way’ is generally playing as a different class and race, going to different locations first if possible, that sort of thing. Some games let these impact your gameplay quite well (Dragon Age is generally very good at this, especially the different races), others may simply change a little bit of dialogue but otherwise not let it effect the game at all. In that case maybe my “right character for me” is just an excuse to go back to the beginning.

Dragon Age™: Inquisition_20170319205311
Shawty is my third DAI creation, and most likely not the last

Other times I just grow to really hate my character. I played Borderlands 2 as the Mechromancer (how cool is that class??) and I had so much fun with her until, frustratingly quite far in, I hit a wall. Maybe I hadn’t built her skills up properly or maybe it’s down to an insane spike in difficulty but all of a sudden I was terrible. I would get through battles by summoning my robot and shooting stuff from a distance because if I was touched by anything it was instant death. If my robot was killed or timed out I was in deep trouble and had to hide until it was ready to summon again. All while being absoloutely baffled as to how I’d gone from kicking ass to hiding and praying I’d be saved by a giant robot. Not really the way you want to be playing. The annoying thing was I’d started a new game as the Mechromancer because I hadn’t liked my original choice of Assassin, and that my friends, is why I never finished Borderlands 2.

Mechromancer

I think that for the most part I want to start again because I get bored of running around but I’m not quite willing to give up playing yet and miss the days where side quests were just around the corner, I could learn all these new skills relatively quickly, and I was being introduced to this huge, new world before being let loose to do as I pleased. You tend to start these games near or in some sort of village or base with a fair few NPCs to get you started, but as you explore you often end up quite isolated. Then you do stupid stuff like get so unused to NPC interaction you accidentally back-stab an innocent guard thinking it must be an enemy because you didn’t realise you were near a town and now you’ve got a bounty on your head, alarms go off, you can’t sell anything. Disaster.

Environment affects it too. Generally you will be sent to every area on the map in the main plot for some reason or other and there’s always one which is bigger, boring, and just that bit more grueling. In Breath of the Wild when I was running through the desert it seemed to take ages to get to the Gerudo town, I just started to feel a little brain dead and fantasied about when life was simpler and the environment was lusher at the beginning of the game. I resisted and stuck with it though. It might be something about deserts, in Dragon Age: Inquisition it’s always the Hissing Wastes area that kills me off. It’s an absolutely huge desert, probably the largest area in the game, but there’s almost nothing there. Luckily the thought of traipsing endlessly through The Hinterlands again is usually enough to put me off. Not always though.

Hissing Wastes
Just look at all that NOTHING to explore

I am always in awe of those that can thoroughly explore these worlds, finish the game within a reasonable amount of time and apparently not suffer from burnout. Maybe I just have a short attention span. I still enjoy them though so while I may be incredibly frustrating to watch play an open world game at least you know that deep down I am actually enjoying it in my own way. I really need to finish off Inquisition so that I can start on some of the expansion I bought ages ago. Before I do continue with the plot though let’s investigate the top of that suspiciously shaped mountain… “Yahaha! You found me!”
KOROKS AREN’T EVEN IN THIS GAME!!!

Do you suffer from Open World Burnout? Do you often restart your game? Are you a fan of open world games or do you avoid them?

The Dragon’s Horde : March Edition

Welcome, puny human, to my spooky Dragon cave where I keep my Dragon’s horde. You may have ventured far and faced many perils to come here but now you meet your DOOM. Get ready for… You don’t seem very scared. Is the bunting and collectible teapots not quite what you were expecting? Is the pile of video game not the sort of horde you had in mind? I get that a lot. Well… While you’re here can I offer you a tea? Muffin? Try the sourdough crumpets, they’re amazing.

I thought I’d shake things up and make a new addition to my blog. At the end of every month I’ll write a summary post, invite the protagonists from the games I’ve been playing this month to join the Tea Party, talk about what’s been going on, and add a link to one of my posts that I particularly enjoyed writing this month. I always seem to miss some people’s posts so if you’d like to then please feel free to comment with a link to one of your posts from this month and I’ll give it a read! Similarly, if you’re a new Tea Party guest say hi!
So sit down, make yourself at home, grab a Hobnob (not the chocolate ones, they’re mine) and I’ll put the kettle on.

What I’ve Been Playing

Breath of the Wild

Our first Tea Party guest, who is unfortunately not much in the way of conversation we is Link. He’s going to be here a while as I am constantly on and off with Breath of the Wild. I’m so tantalisingly close to finishing the game but I’m still getting distracted by an insane variety of things to do… I feel like playing this game is actually quite exhausting sometimes and I find it hard to play for just an hour at a time. I need to make sure I have a good few hours set aside and unfortunately that’s kind of hard to come by for me at the moment. We’re getting there though, slowly but surely.
BotW

Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage

I’m trying not to get competitive with the other Dragon at the table, luckily Spyro doesn’t care about my video game and biscuit horde, he’s all about the gems and is quite happy to be the chatty, if slightly irritating, one at the table.
I’m really enjoying how easily I can jump in and out of this game, if I’ve only got half an hour I can generally complete the main part of a level in that time and it’s just so pretty. This has become my go-to game for when I don’t have that much time or brain power to offer. I’m on the last section of the game now so I should be able to finish this in April.
Ripto's Rage

Batman: Return to Arkham Asylum

Looking a little out of place surrounded by bunting, flowers, and a fairy lights, Batman holds a dainty pink tea cup and stays quite quiet. Much like Link, he’s also not much in the way of conversation and when he does speak he’s not particularly interesting. Maybe I should have invited Bruce Wayne instead, he’s a lot more fun…
There’s a story to me getting into this game: I bought the remastered Arkham series years ago after accidentally playing Arkham Knight first, I really enjoyed Knight and was excited to get started on Asylum and City but… Well, I wrote a ranty post back in 2017 about how much I didn’t enjoy it. Basically, I found it repetitive and kind of dumb. It’s sat in my library gathering virtual dust ever since. Recently though I finished watching the incredibly frustrating, but simultaneously addictive, Gotham. If you don’t know it it’s a TV show about before Bruce Wayne becomes Batman, with Jim Gordon as the main character. Like with a lot of American TV shows, they seemed to start with this great premise, fulfill it, then rather than just stop while they were ahead they got a new, bizarre plot line where you can’t really tell where they’re going with it and it’s pretty obvious that the writers don’t know either, but hey, they’re getting paid big bucks and they’re going to keep doing it until it’s so mind-numbing that the show gets cancelled or the kid that plays Bruce gets too old to be a ‘kid’ anymore. You’d have thought they’d just do 10 episode seasons with much more focused, better crafted story lines but what do I know? I could go on and on about Gotham, maybe I’ll write a post about it when it’s ended. The main reason I stuck with it is because I’ve always found the characters of DC incredibly interesting, far more so than Marvel (though I’d much rather watch a Marvel movie than a DC one) so luckily for the show’s writers they have a lot to draw from. Also, the best part about the whole thing is Penguin, who I never even considered a particularly interesting villain before but the actor (Robin Lord Taylor) and his portrayal is just absolutely brilliant and he steals every scene that he’s in.
Anyway… Sorry, went off on a tangent there… Once I exhausted the episodes of Gotham on Netflix I had a bat-shaped hole in my life and I decided to fill it by trying the Arkham series again. I only started Asylum a couple of days ago and haven’t got very far at all, but I thought if I get to a stage where I am not enjoying it I’m going to just stop and start Arkham City instead.
Image result for batman arkham asylum

My Favourite Post

I wrote a couple of posts that I really enjoyed this month but the one that surprised me the most was A Shout Out to NPCs. I asked some friends for help writing this and they were so enthusiastic about it, it was really nice to talk with them about it and see everyone’s ideas and opinions.

Achievement Unlocked

It was Dragon’s Tea Party’s 2 year anniversary this month! I know!!! That really surprised me. I still consider this blog as a bit of a novelty but it’s been with me through quite a lot now. I’ve had my ups and downs with it, the last few months in particular have been a struggle keeping it up to date but I feel like I managed to smash that writers block up in March and I’m looking forward to seeing what April brings.
What have you been playing this month? Is there anything you’re looking forward to playing in April? Have you written (or read) a post that you particularly enjoyed? Leave a link below!

A Shout Out to NPCs

We’ve all got our favourite video game characters. It’s very easy for me to go off on a tangent about my personal favourites, as I have many a time on my blog, you can’t read more than two posts in a row without seeing something about Link or Kratos. While lamenting the fact that I’ve probably exhausted all I can say about my favourites for now I had a particularly inspirational moment where I started thinking about NPCs: The Non Playable Characters that make up the world you’re in. Some can be good, some can be bad, some you can get weirdly emotionally attached to, they all have their place and without them the game would be very boring.
I started off writing a “Top 10 NPCs list” but to be honest with you it was all characters from the same old games I play: Legend of Zelda, Pokémon, Dragon Age… Just different characters. I always talk about the same games, which isn’t a bad thing really as they’re all good, I just need to get a bit more variety going on, that and you’re all probably like “oh, Stardew Valley, wasn’t expecting that, it’s only been a week since she mentioned it”. Very aware of this, I reached out to a couple of my geeky friends (and my gamer dad) to get some of their input on theor most memorable NPCs. I thought I’d only get a couple of suggestions… My phone would not stop beeping all evening, it appeared I had touched on something they found pretty interesting. As a result I now have a diverse list with some games that I’ve not even played on it! I haven’t even ranked them because I haven’t played some of these games so I can’t really say, also I didn’t want to deal with texts from friends that helped me out with the post saying stuff like “what do you mean you ranked Shadowmere after Busty Barmaid???” so to avoid this, not only are the in alphabetical order but but I have put them in two categories: Main Characters and Background Characters. I mean, I can’t put Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII on the same list as Noober from Baldur’s Gate, even if they are both NPCs. I’ve also put who chose them in brackets.

Also, as everyone kept saying Portal and Undertale I’ve eliminated them as options because it’s wasn’t really fair to the other games.

We’ll start with the big kahunas, the Main Characters.
These are all the NPCs that have impacted the story of the game in a major way.

Alyx Vance – Half Life 2 (Gary)

“In 2004 you just didn’t have facial animations as good as hers, but she was also an audience surrogate as your character is mute so she basically talks for you and you manage to build a relationship with her even though you don’t say a word and you end up genuinely caring about her.”

220px-Alyx_Vance

Aribeth de Tylmerande – Neverwinter Nights (Me)

She may not be particularly sassy or have any memorable lines but when I was growing up Aribeth was one of my feminist icons. Seeing a woman in a leadership position in this absolutely massive game was wonderful and I was fully invested in her story. If you need more convincing just look at that armour she’s wearing, verging on impractical maybe but so fierce. Absolute Queen.

Aribeth

Claptrap – Borderlands 2 (Everyone)

Claptrap was a huge breath of fresh air, as was the whole Borderlands series really but everyone agreed that we are focusing on Borderlands 2 specifically. Claptrap clumsily guides you through the game sounding like he’s having a great time when he’s actually being incredibly sarcastic and kinda depressed. That’s all part of his charm though! If you knew him IRL you’d probably find him extremely annoying, as many of the game’s other NPCs do, but he really does come out with some gold:

“Well done, minion! Your ability to walk short distances will be Handsome Jack’s downfall!”

“You may wonder why I don’t just take a replacement eye from one of these broken Claptraps. Two reasons: firstly, because me and my eye have been through a lot. Secondly, because shut up.”

Claptrap

Hermes – God of War 3 (Dad) SPOILERS

“He is just so incredibly annoying, and finally catching him and giving him an agonising death is just so satisfying. The dark humour is great when he’s going off on a tangent about honour and betrayal but Kratos is eyeing up his boots and then you get to chop his legs off and steal them.”

Midna – Twilight Princess (Me) SPOILERS

I truly believe that Midna is by far the best Legend of Zelda companion. She is funny, she’s not annoying, she has the best storyline and character arc out of all the companions by far and she just looks amazing, in both of her forms. This is a princess that gets her hands dirty, she goes through so much trying to fight for her people, and the people of Hyrule too and when she gets mad she tries to take on Ganon herself in one of the most badass transformations ever. When she was revealed to be the princess at the end I was really shocked at the twist and so happy that she was still her cheeky self (*cough* Tetra).

Midna

Moira – Fallout 3 (Ben and Gary)

Slightly different opinions here, very differently expressed.

Ben: “Moira is an inventor, philanthropist and all around crazy girl. She has one of the most memorable quest lines in any game I’ve played, sending you to all corners of the wasteland to experience its delights, including but not limited to crossing minefields, exposing yourself to some serious radiation and exploding mole rat heads (delightfully messy), all to complete her survival guide. She has a unique charm in an otherwise pretty desolate world, and an air of positivity everyone else seems to lack. Plus mini nuke.”

Gary: “She’s a pain in the arse. The worst part about restarting Fallout 3 is her. She offers an interesting quest line but her voice is so grating. I tried to blow her up with a nuke and she was the only person in town that survived.”

Fo3 Moira
Unique charm or pain in the arse?

Mr X – Resident Evil (Gary)

“He’s a big hulking, stalking bastard who never stops following you and is completely invincible. He follows you throughout the whole police station. You love to hate him because everyone’s obsessed with him but he’s such an arsehole. He can’t touch you on certain levels but he tracks you in real time, for example if you’re on the other side of the station to him and you make too much noise he’ll hear you and track your approximate location. It was absoloutely genius the way it was all designed, I love it. He absoloutely makes the game and sets a new standard for horror in games.

Image result for mr x resident evil 2 remake

Navi – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Ben and Gary)

Another Ben and Gary one, I really should get them together at some point so that they can talk about their favourite games together.

Ben: “Possessing an expansive vocabulary (her words won’t leave my mind), Navi guides Link through his adventures in Hyrule with a series of helpful clues and tips; it’s almost certain the hero would have defeated Ganon in half the time if he’d only paused to listen. Watch our for her 10 hour loop on YouTube.”

Gary: “She’s a pain but she guided millions of players into 3D gameplay.”

Navi

Sephiroth – Final Fantasy VII (Mike)

“He’s the greatest villain ever because you sympathise with him and his motivations. He was experimented on when he was a child and made into a soldier, so you feel for him and can understand his descent into madness. I think he was the first villain I really sympathized with and it made me understand that evil is man-made. Plus he’s badass.”

Sephiroth

Background Characters

Busty Barmaid – Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance. (Wish I could say this was one of my friends choices but it was my Dad)

Her name is Alyth Eleandra, but that really wasn’t the memorable part.

“They were just ridiculous, they defied physics and moved independantly. Whoever made her obviously had a great time, they held back in the second game though.”

Baldur's gate barmaid

Lydia – Skyrim (Dad and I)

There was no way this post was happening without Lydia. She’s one of the first NPCs I thought of and when I asked my dad for his favourite or most memorable NPC Lydia was one of the first that came to mind for him as well. She complains, she’s not much in the way of conversation, she has a knack for setting off traps and getting lost, her most likely cause of death is standing in front of you when you are attacking someone else… But we love her anyway. The world of Skyrim is just a little duller without that moment where you turn around and say, “where the hell is Lydia?” and have to retrace your steps only to find her glitching into a door in a tomb you raided about 2 hours ago.

Skyrim Lydia

Letting go of Lydia is one of the hardest things in a Skyrim player’s journey as this video from TobyGames shows (about 50 seconds in):

Noober – Baldur’s Gate (Me)

You don’t know annoying until you meet this guy. He will automatically open up dialogue with you as you pass through Nashkel and say trivial stuff like “ugh, I think I stepped in something” you’ll walk 2 steps and another box opens “What time is it?” So. Annoying. You can just turn around and kill him, which is extremely satisfying, but if you tolerate him for the whole 32 interruptions you get a nice 400 XP. Noober is definitely not an NPC that anyone is particularly fond of, but he is very memorable.

Image result for noober baldur's gate

Shadowmere – Skyrim (Mike)

“Shadowmere is the greatest companion ever. He’s immortal, he can beat up Dragons, the best part is you can ‘kill’ him (knock him out) and use him as extra storage. Also, he’s cute as.”

Shadowmere

“Look at all the arrows that are in him and he’s still trucking on.”

Shadowmere arrows

That’s the end of my list for now, who are your most memorable NPCs? Were they annoying, funny, or just super cute? Do you agree or disagree with any on our list? Let me know in the comments, it’s been really interesting to see what everyone thought of and I’d love to hear more!

My Life as a Video Game

Have you ever wondered what your life would be like as a video game? I think it’s safe to say that in most cases life would be a lot more interesting if it were a game, unless you have a very action-packed life. Even some of the chillest games, like Stardew Valley, have their advantages; If all I had to do was grow veggies, chuck them in a box next to my house and make a big profit over night I’d be a very happy woman.
Once I had the thought I couldn’t shake it, would I have powers? What about the world around me? Would I have a mortal enemy? I jotted down a few ideas but then I went overboard and I ended up with a load of stuff so I thought I’d share it all with you guys. It was pretty fun so if you wanted to give it a go as well then please feel free!

The World

I thought it made sense to start off with the world so you that you can imagine the characters and story within it.

While the outside would not be the first place one might think to look for me I do greatly appreciate how beautiful the world can be and I’m very keen on trying to be as eco-friendly in my day-to-day as I can. My video game world would be very bright and colourful. Think Pokémon or Stardew Valley. Lots of plants and animals, we’ve not destroyed any jungles or eco-systems. It’s basically a hippie’s dream.
Magic has a big place in this world, there are both magical and non-magical people and they work together to achieve a perfect balance. Need to get somewhere? Use one of the communal portals! Want a matching hat to go with that wizard cape you love? Talk to a seamstress. Need a house built? We have builders that work with wizards to create magically enhanced and faster to construct buildings! The main rule here is “you can’t create material objects or life with magic”.
As everyone has skills or magic that they can use to contribute to the world around them, everyone is considered as equals. Happy, happy times.

The Protagonist (aka Me)

All heroes have skills and powers, right? What would that mean for me then? Well, I tried to keep it based on what I’m like in reality, otherwise I’d go off on one about shapeshifting, and breathing fire, and who knows what. I wanted to make it so that I wasn’t indestructible.

I’m pretty sporty in real life, particularly inspired by aerial arts so I’d have enhanced acrobatic skills.
I’d also have an incredibly double-sided power where I can tangle anything up in my hair and subdue them, however once I’ve used the power I have to spend a couple of minutes playing the “de-tangler” mini game where I need to brush all the tangles out of my hair before the hairbrush becomes sentient and attacks.
Finally, I’ve always enjoyed playing as a druid, and if I were a Pokémon type-trainer I would choose grass, I have a fair amount of plants in real life too, so I’d have plant based powers on my side. Think Poison-Ivy meets Bulbasaur. If the battles are getting a little boring or tedious though I’m not opposed to bringing out a shotgun to finish the job quickly.

I suppose I should have weaknesses too. My big one would be that I am easily distracted. Do I really need to find that cure for the thing that’s happening right now when I could do some side missions for the NPCs instead? Or you know I’ve really been meaning to level up my Cooking skill recently…
My second weakness would be that my Hero training can easily be disrupted by sending me biscuits. I can’t buy biscuits because I will eat all of them but they’re still a frequent shared treat at the office or in cafés and stuff and honestly if I didn’t get so tempted by them I would be a lot fitter. There could be a mini game where you have to dodge ninja biscuits or something, that would be fun.

The Antagonist

Before I start this one I’d just like to say that any resemblance to anyone that I know in my personal life is totally coincidental…

With her incredibly shrill voice and habit of shouting at people, making them feel extremely uncomfortable and unhappy, The Hagraven (Skyrim inspiration coming through there) is a bitter woman living alone. Except for her deaf, loyal man-servant Igor who carries out her every wish. She has extremely long witch-like nails that are more like claws. These are her main method of attack once her screeching has subsided. One of her big attacks, usually used halfway through a battle is called “Playing with Fire”. She will appear docile and calm, fooling the attacker into thinking that she can be approached or reasoned with but if you fall for it she lashes out with both a screech and claw attack, taking off half your hit points. One time out of 20 though she can be reasoned with, causing the battle to end (unless it’s the final battle). Finally, The Hagraven will drain the life out of everything nearby to fuel her power and heal herself. This is the Hero’s biggest problem as she also relies on nature to help her, but in working with it rather than using it. If The Hagraven drains too much around them then that power becomes useless to the Hero.
Having decided to ignore the magical rule of “you can’t create life or bring things into being” she has been experimenting and in doing so created a zombie army which are the most frequently encountered enemies in the game.
The Hagraven’s arrogance is often her downfall, often putting too much faith in her own abilities and underestimating her opponents.

Plot

Got to have some plot!
The Hagraven lives in her own domain outside of the main town. Due to the negativity radiating from the house all plant and animal life surrounding the area has died. The Hagraven however doesn’t see that her actions and treatment of other people is what is causing the gloom surrounding her. She wants to bring life back to the world around her but through faster means such as using magic, as I said before though, magic can’t create life in this world.

Hyrule Castle Town
I have a bit of Breath of The Wild inspiration going on for the life draining devastation

The wizards were asked, politely at first, by The Hagraven to help her to bring life and beauty back to her domain but they had to tell her that it was impossible. Once she started screeching though the pain and fear she caused generated a torrent of gloom and depression which dominated the Wizard’s Tower until they agreed to help just to get her to stop. Now, The Hagraven has all of the wizards working haplessly to find a solution but without their presence and focus on the rest of the world everything imbued with their magic, (portals, heating, the magic telephone system, buildings supported by magic…) is falling apart and causing mass chaos and misery, helping the gloom surrounding The Hagraven’s domain to slowly spread. The Hero must restore life to the world by freeing wizards. Once a wizard is rescued they will become happy, meaning the area around them will become lush and full of life again, allowing the Hero to access places she couldn’t before and finally, once all wizards are freed, she will have enough power to defeat The Hagraven.

At the end of the game you can have two alternative endings:

Ending 1

You violently blow off The Hagraven’s head with a shotgun and almost everyone lives happily ever after.

Ending 2

You manage to make The Hagraven understand that she’s been a bit of an arsehole and she decides to change her ways and takes anger management classes, eventually becoming a quirky but valued part of the community. Everyone lives happily ever after.

The whole idea may sound a bit juvenile, cheesy, tiny bit over the top, and there are definitely some plot/logic holes in it, but a magical zombie fighting RPG game with Indie elements? Honestly, I’d play that.

I wrote this because I had a “what if?” moment and while it started out as being quite a short post I got a little carried away and I ended up having great fun writing it. If you want to give it a go please do! I think it would be interesting to see what other bloggers would write about for this.