Real Neat Blog Award

Recently Megan of A Geeky Gal nominated my blog for a Real Neat Blog Award and to that I want to say thank you.

The Mask

It’s nice to know my ramblings about games are neat enough for a mention and not just me whinging to myself. I mean, they are me rambling or whinging but as long as it’s neat too that’s a good start. Megan set me and a bunch of other bloggers a difficult but fun scenario to theoretically survive. It’s a bit of a doozy and I’ll get to that but first, I want to give a mention to Megan and her great blog. A Geeky Gal is one of those blogs that I read a lot of on my commutes. The posts are just the right size and to the point which makes them perfect for a short ride to work. Specifically the anime related posts which I highly recommend if you’re like me and you like to watch anime but aren’t clued in to what’s good or not and tend to only know of the big name shows like Attack on Titan or One Punch Man. She recently did a 30 day anime challenge which was a fun read and I highly recommend you try that out if you haven’t. In fact here’s a Link for day one of that. So, thank you again Megan and let’s begin your scenario.

Really Neat Blog

The Rules:

  1. Display the Award Logo.
  2. Thank the blogger who nominated you and post a link to their blog.
  3. Answer the questions of the one who nominated you.
  4. Nominate 7-10 bloggers.
  5. Ask them seven questions.

The great and wise Megan has thrown me into a very interesting scenario:

Setting the scene: you’ve just woken up in the hospital. You don’t remember who you are or why you are there. The hospital is completely empty… You dress and head outside into the unknown. You must make some life or death decisions now.

Along with this, A Geeky Gal has provided 7 questions for me to answer and hopefully guarantee my survival. The first one is:

1. You need a partner for the apparent apocalypse that has taken place during your coma. Which video game character do you choose?

My answer is Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite. Not only is she just a great person to be around but as she as spent most of her life locked away, an apocalyptic world would still be full of wonder to her. I want that level of optimism in my life as no doubt I would be a moody bore pining for my PS4 or Netflix. To Elizabeth everything is new and exciting and I want someone to imbue me what that same energy, if I am going to survive I need to be raring to go and hopeful. Now on to a more practical side of Elizabeth, as I said she’s spent most of her life in a library. With the would reduced to a more basic state, that wealth of information in her noggin is bound to come in handy. With my knowledge of how the world was and Elizabeth’s knowledge of the base fundamentals of the world, I think our chances of basic survival are strong. Then there is her reality manipulation powers! With her powers I could bypass A Geeky Gal’s entire scenario by exiting to a new reality. But that’s no fun so we won’t do that. Nevertheless, Elizabeth has a knack for finding useful items either from her current reality or an arm’s length away in another. An invaluable skill  for the apocalypse if I’ve ever seen one.

Bioshock Elizabeth

2. Great monsters are now roaming the lands you used to call home… what fearsome video game creatures do you see on the horizon?

Honestly with this one I was torn. Giant beasts similar to Deathclaw’s in Fallout would absolutely terrify me but I’ve always thought in games, books or films that even though post apocalyptic monsters are scary, it’s other people that truly are the monsters. That’s why I’ve gone with a more Mad Max approach and chosen the No More Heroes rogues gallery of disturbing and psychotic assassins. These freaks lived their uncivilised lives in a civilised world previously and they were dangerous enough then. They killed for the thrill and to be number one in some weird assassins league that didn’t even seem to have an end goal. I don’t even think there was a prize besides a title! Imagine the lengths they would go to in a world with limited resources. I think this would be their paradise. No rules of society or even the rules of the United Assassins Association to determine who could fight who. It would just be a free for all with murder being their main desire and survival being just a necessity so that they could keep murdering. You wouldn’t want to run into one of these weirdo’s in a dark alleyway.

 

 

3. You must pick a weapon to defend yourself with. What video game weapon do you choose?

I’ve actually had this answer in my head for a long time. The book, The Zombie Survival Guide mentions this and from one type of end of the world crisis to another, the crowbar is the weapon for me. First off, it’s intended use of prying open things. With lots of building’s to loot and resources to gather, the crowbar is the best way to get the job done (besides the key obviously) effectively and quietly. It doesn’t require ammo or petrol to function and requires minimal maintenance. It also functions as a blunt and a piercing weapon. Sure it means you have to get up close to whatever still exists in this world or a No More Heroes assassin, but I would rather trust a classic bonk on the head to a potential rusty gun jamming or a blade being too dull. And the best aspect of a crowbar? I get to pretend to be Gordan Freeman, scientist extraordinaire!

Half Life Crowbar

4. You and your partner are seeking shelter for the night after a long day of fighting. What video game house/apartment/place do you bunker down in for the night?

This was the toughest of the questions for me. I originally thought of DK’s cabin in Donkey Kong Country simply because it comes with a stash of end of the world bananas! Then I remembered that they usually get stolen and also bananas don’t last very long before they go super mushy like baby food. It’s the end of the world so beggar’s can’t be choosers but still….yuck. More on that food issue later though. For my final answer I’ve gone with Sigismund Dijkstra’s Bathhouse from The Witcher 3. Whether the bathhouse is functioning or not, this place still works as a sanctuary that I would consider keeping as mine and Elizabeth’s base. If the water is still running or at least there, that is ideal for us adventurers to have a soak and relaxation after trudging the mostly barren land. The body can only withstand so much before it needs to be soothed otherwise it becomes stiff and rigged, which is terrible in a fight for survival. It would be a great place for a drink of water, to fill up containers and to clean our tools, clothes and gear. If the bathhouse wasn’t functioning as its name implies, it’s still a secure place with big wide rooms which make it ideal to spot any intruders. There is also a secret tunnel which connects to the sewer system for safer traversal in or out.  A handy place for the night and possibly longer.

Witcher 3 Bathhouse

5. You’re getting awfully hungry battling those scary creatures. What video game food is in your pack?

Cans and cans of pickles from Deadly Premonition. Known as The Pickles. Not the tastiest of food but super useful for the current situation. Being in cans, the food is protected from outside damage and also has an extended life compared to those pesky free range pickles. The can itself could also be useful afterwards as either a container or potentially the metal could be used as a weapon of sorts. The brine is also a super useful bonus. Brine is essentially salt and water. It’s used to preserve food for longer periods of time. If me and Elizabeth kill an animal for survival or an assassin for their meat. Again, I’m going to stress this is a hypothetical situation! Would I eat a person? That’s another question for another day and depending on what marinade I had with me. But if me and Elizabeth had too much meat to consume, it would be a shame to let it go to waste. Meat would be hard to come by and a valuable source of nutrients. Brine to the rescue! After cans and cans of pickles our backpacks would be sloshing around with gallons of the salty stuff. Find a way to encase the meat and brine together and voila, longer lasting food. Might taste a bit of pickles but nutrients is nutrients. I believe that brine would function as a good source of drinkable water. Obviously you shouldn’t drink brine in its briny state but if you can separate the salt and the water then you’re good to go. Elizabeth, with her wealth of knowledge should be able to manage that. She’s essentially my Bear Grylls in this scenario and the longer she can keep us from drinking our urine the better.

Can of pickles

6. You and your partner run across more survivors who ask to join your party, but one of them is a little shady. Which video game character is the wolf in sheep’s clothing?

Again, going with the No More Heroes angle, Travis Touchdown. Travis is one of my all time favourite video game characters but would I trust him on my team? HELL NO! The guy is out for himself. Yes, he has a weird morale code when it comes to who he trusts or who he has sympathy for but it is that very word, weird. I wouldn’t be able to process if I was on his good side or not and I believe he would cut me down the second I got in the way of his plans. In the No More Heroes world he wanted to be the top of the United Assassins Association simply because he wanted to be. In this post apocalyptic world, the league is essentially just survival of the fittest. He would still want to be number one of that and I would be a contender in his head. Not only that but you don’t trust a guy who buys a functioning beam katana off an eBay equivalent! You just don’t. Not only that but he worships wrestling, to the point that most of his fighting moves are wrestling moves. Have you watched wrestling before? The amount of turns and story plot twists are out of this world. In Travis’s delusional head, I think he would act in a similar manner just because he once saw it on TV. I can’t trust a guy like that. Also, he hides behind his shades, I don’t trust a man whose eyes I can’t look into. As much as I would love to have him on my team, he’s too much of a wildcard.

Travis_Touchdown-750x395

7. You hear of a place that’s been untouched by the apocalypse. What video game world do you hope it is?

This is short and sweet and pretty self explanatory. Super Mario Odyssey’s Luncheon Kingdom! It’s a kingdom of food. In a survival scenario it’s essentially the dream. Technically in the Mario universe it is a planet but it’s called a kingdom and so I believe it is accessible in my scenario’s reality. It would be the scenario’s version of El Dorado. There isn’t much opposition there either besides Goomba’s and if you pet them on the head they go squish so I’m not worried. My only hope is me and Elizabeth find it before those freaky assassins or before Travis ruins my day.

Mario Luncheon Kingdom

That was a great time! I really enjoyed those questions and I had a lot of back and forth on most of them. Now for my questions and scenario. Apologies for the lengthy questions but I wanted to set the scene a bit too much:

Scenario: You wake up to find yourself strapped to a cold metal table. You glance around and notice a lot of fancy technology but a bunch of stuff that bears a striking resemblance to video game consoles.  You see a bunch of moving things in the corner of your eye. They turn to look at you as you quickly look away from them. You spy a window and quickly realise that you are flying through space. Then it dawns on you, you’re aboard an alien spaceship.

  1. From the darkness you hear the things conversing with each other. It sounds eerily similar to a made up language you’ve heard in a video game. What games language do they sound like?
  2. One of the moving things starts shuffling towards you, as it gets closer you start to make out its shape. You can’t believe it but it’s a being that you know from video games. What is it, from which series and why does that particular being terrify you?
  3. The being realises that it has startled you. It clicks a button and begins talking to you in English. It explains that a translator has been activated and that it can still sense your duress. It says it wishes to play a song for you, a song of your choosing from video games to help calm you down. Which video game song do you pick?
  4. After you calmed down, the being clicks a button and you are released from the table. The being explains that it has been watching Earth for a long time and their race has a fascination with Earth’s video games. They wish to join Earth in its gaming culture and the being explains that they love local competitive video games. The being requests that the two of you play a friendly match together. It requests that you pick any game that has existed on any gaming system (PC included) but that the game must include alien races, as the beings find the exclusion to be upsetting to them. It doesn’t need to their species but something beyond Earth. The being suggests that if you win the game, it will show you around the ship. Realising that this may be your best chance to escape, what game do you pick that you feel confident in winning?
  5. After you win the match, the being praises you to all its fellow crew. They rejoice and hail you as Earth’s champion. The alien then requests you follow it around the ship. As you walk through the long corridors, you come across a wall of familiar weapons. On the wall is dozens upon dozens of weapons from video games. But, the weapons are half and half. The being explains that something went wrong and all the weapons were split in half and then merged with a random weapon. They all worked though and the beings liked the results so they kept them. Amongst the weapons you spot a weapon ideal for your current situation. You lunge for the weapon and proceed to go through with the act of escaping. What weapon fusion have you chosen and why? (For the sake of the following questions, it can’t be a weapon that would get you off the ship.)
  6. After your altercation with the being, you make a dash in the opposite direction from where you woke. As you run you hear a blaring noise and realise that the alarm has been sounded. You enter a new room and before you you see an escape pod. You go to enter the shuttle but quickly realise that you best prepare yourself first. At the back of the room and spy a row of containers, each with a spacesuit. The beings have created fully functioning spacesuits from video games. Each one with the abilities of their video game counterparts and fully stocked with oxygen. How convenient, you think! Which spacesuit do you take and why?
  7. After suiting up, you enter the pod. Before you is a mouse, keyboard and a display screen. The screen prompts you to press the Esc button to launch the shuttle. So you do just that. The escape pod breaks away from the ship and hurtles through space. The screen prompts you to type in your destination. EARTH you type. ‘Insufficient fuel’ the screen unfortunately tells you. The display then prompts a list of choices for you in the vicinity. It details a bunch of prototype worlds that the beings had set up. Each world has been created to resemble a video game world and has Earth’s atmosphere implemented on it. On the list you spy a place that you recognise from your games and you decide that that *Blank* Planet  is ideal for you. What planet is it and why?

My Nominees:

Nerfd

A Dame’s Gotta Game

Extra Life Reviews

HannieBee Games

Hundstrasse

shoot the rookie

Why We Play Games

Black Disc Gaming

Livid Lightning

Best of luck to the nominees, thank you again to A Geeky Gal and thank you for reading my Real Neat Blog post.

5 Fundamentals That Make A Great Horror Game Great

Frights are like a curry. Some people like a korma, nice and mild or a balti with a bit of a kick. Others prefer their horrors stronger like a vindaloo, both though still require a change of underwear. We all have limits though when it comes to them. Today I want to look at key components of horrors, the spices if you want to keep with the curry analogy. While all these components may not always be featured in every horror, when used well they can be good enough on their own.

Sounds

What goes bang bang bang in the night? My neighbours! Not the fun kind even, I mean stomping round like T-rex’s trying to squish a flea. Sound is among one of the strongest senses. If someone tries to describe a smell to you, a flavour or even a texture, it’s not an easy thing to replicate in your mind. We are more visual and sound based when it comes to imagination. It’s easier to associate that with a previous noise or image we’ve seen.

When it comes to imagination and horror games like to feed off of that talent of ours. Imagination is our own worst enemy at times and to be quite frank I thought of giving it its own space on this list but it factors into so much of horror games that it needs to be broken down with these choices I’ve made.

Sounds in games don’t have to do much. We do the rest. *Tink*, as something hits the floor in a game, I stand completely still and stare into that vicinity for minutes until I’m brave enough to move the character closer. What is there is a pesky rat, what I imagined, was 3 shark toothed goblins riding spiders. And I don’t mean 3 spiders, I mean a swarm of millions of arachnids lifting the goblins up with their long, black legs. Feeling itchy yet? Thank your imagination for that.

Dread

Now with sound and imagination, comes the dread. A typical horror will have sprawling levels with lots of nooks and crannies. More than likely the game will be dimly lit and lighting used effectively to bring the shadows out to play. That’s when the dread will set in.

This usually occurs happens pretty quickly in horror games. It doesn’t give you time to relax, especially in the beginning. At the start everything is new to you, you don’t have a lot of weapons or a weapon at all. The beasts or dangers lurking ahead may not be revealed yet and so whatever your mind concocts will be primed to your personal fears.

The start of the game is usually bombastic in the beginning. Something needs to set the pace and similar to books, games need to make a good first impression. The dread you feel imbues you with curiosity. You want to play the game and dread is similar to ripping off a plaster (band-aid), get it over with and hope for the best. But, a game done well will then lead to……

Build up

A horror game needs to retain its scare factor. Otherwise it isn’t a horror game any more. The original Bioshock had that issue for me. The first couple of hours I was a twitchy mess. After a certain point though and once I had more guns than the army I wasn’t phased any more.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing as Bioshock is a great FPS as well as a horror but a full horror needs to build on what it starts. From start to finish the player needs to nearly always be on edge. Having lulls is a good tactic though when used well, it doesn’t need to be 150mph every second. A haven is also a great time to do a cheap scare. Like Dead Space (2?) having a save spot with a surprise Necromorph. Cheap but memorable.

Resident Evil does a fantastic job of this with the safe rooms. That calming music, the opportunity to save and the brightly lit room give a chance of respite. Every player gives a sigh of relief when they find a new safe room. They can calm down for a bit but then they have to go back out into the mansion. That’s the build up aspect again, because if you’ve found a new safe room, that means you haven’t seen what is to come. The new horrors around the corner, which…..

Monsters

…….are waiting in the shadows for you. Monster designs are crucial. If a monster isn’t scary, it’s not a monster. There don’t need to be thousands of monsters or monster designs in your game. One truly terrifying beast can carry it.

What makes a good monster? The unknown or something so mundane that when it’s different it’s unnerving. Resident Evil Remake does a great job of this is my mind. Zombies on their own are a classic horror enemy. Slow, lumbering and resilient. That aspect of them is scary but the fact that they can infect a person so easily is where I think their terror stems from. Similar to how Dracula was an analogy to STI’s, zombies represent a sickness. Nobody wants to get sick. It’s practically universal among all life and so everyone fears that aspect of zombies.

But zombies are a tried and tested monster which some may be a bit bored with, that’s where the Crimson Heads come into play. We became so use to the zombies of Resident Evil that when a variation is thrown in, it scares the bejesus out of us. Me especially. It’s a classic monster taken to a new level. Slow is now fast, easy to dodge is now horrifying to run from.  That shake-up keeps things fresh and taps into a particular fear. We all fear something. Monsters are just things that take advantage of those fears.

Scares

It’s obvious really. Be it a diary entry detailing a man’s personal transformation into a brain dead zombie or a mechanical bear lunging at the screen. A horror game needs to be full of scares. They can be subtle and intended to get under your skin, or a full on jump scare.

While some may call jump scares cheap and I will admit the Five Night’s At Freddie’s series isn’t really my thing, they still get me good. They’re effective but not long lasting in my opinion. Resident Evil has very few jump scares and is remembered as one of the best horror series. Again, that is the dread and build-up in big effect.

But everyone who played the original RE remembers the dogs jumping through the window or the time in Resident Evil 2 where there is a zombie in the door transition screen. The entire game before it didn’t have that and so everyone assumed the door transition was a sanctuary. Wrong! Heart attack city that was. So jump scares are just as good but a balance is the perfect recipe.

You need the calm before the storm to truly appreciate the savagery of the storm.  But anyway I hope you enjoyed my thoughts and feel free to let me know yours in the comments. Did a particular monster scare you or what scares you the most in games? Halloween season is upon us, let’s get scared together.

 

Tips Or Trivia- Bioshock Lighthouse Location

Trivia

In Bioshock, the game starts with the player aboard a plane over the Atlantic ocean, in 1960. The title card pops up and the very next scene is our hero drowning underwater. Due to the debris sinking around him we can gather that something has gone wrong and the plane crashed. Our hero, Jack then quickly swims to the surface and thankfully doesn’t drown. Amidst the fire and wreckage, Jack sees a lighthouse. A lighthouse in the middle of the ocean. There are no other islands nearby or anything and so what purpose does a lighthouse have in the middle of the ocean? But Jack isn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth and so proceeds to the lighthouse for safety. Within the confines of the lighthouse, Jack finds a bathysphere which takes him on his adventure through Rapture. I’m going to skip Rapture for today, even though it is a fantastic setting and has lots of lore surrounding it.

Today, I want to focus on the lighthouse. An odd thing to have in the middle of the ocean. So, I wanted to see how far away from land this lighthouse was. I was going to try and pinpoint the location using speculation and the process of elimination. But that’s not going to be needed. “When Mum and Dad put me on that plane to visit my cousins in England, they told me, ‘Son, you’re special, you were born to do great things.’ You know what? They were right.”. That is a quote on the Bioshock Wiki said by Jack. I personally don’t recall the visiting cousins part in England but I trust the Wiki. So, I was going to work backwards from that to see where he was coming from and where about he crashed. But………..the actual coordinates for the lighthouse have been published by the Bioshock team. There is no lighthouse there sadly.  The coordinates are 63° 2′ N, 29° 55′ W, which brings us to here:

Bioshock lighthouse

As you can see, it all adds up geographically. Jack was coming over from somewhere in America to visit his family in England. Along the way something went wrong and the plane careened off course and into the ocean below. The location of the lighthouse is between Greenland and Iceland. It’s still not close enough to land to serve a purpose to the residents of the islands. But, to get into it’s purpose is another topic all together and one that involves spoilers for the game. That’s why I’ll just leave the alone for now.