A quote about underrated music

Prompta2020

We’re just one third into this year’s special version of Blaugust, and the awesome blogging community has already outdone itself with lots of great posts about various topics.

The fourth blogging prompt, introduced to us by Roger Edwards on August 3rd, was this:

What type of content do you feel is severely underrated?

Well, that’s an easy one as far as I’m concerned. It’s Metal, of course!

Metal1

Err…wait, no, not this.

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Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about!

My cousin, ten years my senior, introduced me to Metal when I was about eight. Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Helloween, Ozzy Osbourne, stuff like that. I fell in love immediately.

At the time I didn’t really know what it was, exactly, that I liked so much about it. What I did learn incredibly quickly though was that, generally speaking, most people don’t share my passion. Which is severely downplaying the issue of course, as almost everyone I’ve ever met who doesn’t love it actively dislikes it at best, and regards it as “unbearable noise” at worst. According to the latter group anyone who’s into Metal surely must be some kind of psychopath.

Metal3

I really don’t know where they got that idea from…

Anyway, with kids being kids you can imagine that eight-year-old me, already wearing Metal band patches on the denim jacket, had to develop a thick skin rather quickly. It never grew quite as thick as I would have liked though, and I can still get pretty angry when someone badmouths something that I really like, especially when I feel that they have no idea what they’re even talking about.

Yet over time I’ve wisened up at least somewhat. A couple of years ago I would have, at this point, carried on to beat you round the head with at least half a dozen paragraphs “proving” that many flavors of Metal are, in fact, musically vastly superior to most forms of mainstream music, that geniuses like Bach and Beethoven would undoubtedly be metalheads if they lived today, and that channeling your inner rage through aggressive music does actually make you a less aggressive person, not more.

Instead though I’ll just leave you with one of my favourite quotes – which, incidentally, fits nicely into our Blaugust groove too, as Wilhelm gave us the prompt to do exactly that.

It’s taken from Helloween’s song Heavy Metal (is the Law), where Kai Hansen posits

If you don’t feel it you won’t understand.

Truer words have never been spoken about Metal – and I think it actually applies to pretty much anything human beings can be passionate about.

Media that’s shaped my worldview

Prompta2020

2020’s version of Blaugust is in full swing, and it’s my turn already. Thank you Dragonray for handing over the baton, I hope I’ll be able to meet the high expectations you’ve set for me. 🙂

Here goes.

Blaugust Promptapalooza – Prompt 3

What are some key sources of media (games/movies/etc) that have shaped your worldview?

As I’m writing a blog that mainly focuses on video games in general and MMORPGs in particular it shouldn’t come as a surprise that those will get a mention here. I was born in 1976 though, so I’ll have to start off with some earlier types of media.

Radio
Not ours, but we had the exact same model in our kitchen

You know, it’s funny. I’ve been working in radio broadcasting for almost 20 years now, and during that time I’ve often said that I enjoy it despite not being and never having been a radio listener myself. While thinking thoroughly about today’s prompt I’ve realized that it’s actually not true at all.

I couldn’t for the life of me tell you the stations’ names, but back when I was little the radio was always on at home. My mom also played vinyl (and shellac) records, of which I mainly remember The Beatles and ABBA, but mostly it was the radio playing.

I liked it a lot, and it didn’t take long until I begged for my own one with a built-in cassette recorder so I could record my favourite songs. Once I’d got it I would sit on my bed for hours on end, listen to the music and record the songs that I liked the most. To this day Depeche Mode’s Everything Counts is one of my all-time favourites, for example.

I guess radio shaped my worldview insofar that it taught me early on how beautiful, heart-warming and life-enriching music can be. I can’t imagine a life without it.

TV
Ok, I’m not actually THAT old, but you get the picture

Growing up during the eighties in an urban environment also meant watching a lot of TV. Until about 1985 we still had a black-and-white set and a grand total of three programs to watch, but around my 9th birthday we got a color set, a VHS recorder and cable TV. From then on there was no stopping me.

I soaked up everthing a boy of that age ought to like (at the time): shows like The Muppet Show and Sesame Street, reruns of The three Stooges or Laurel and Hardy; a bit later I was really into The A-Team, Knight Rider, Airwolf and so on. I even got my first taste of Anime (without knowing it) with Captain Future and Saber Rider.

I wouldn’t call any of that life-changing experiences, but the things I watched have undoubtedly shaped me in some way or other.

At the age of twelve or so a true landmark event happened though: I got to watch Return of the Jedi – and thus a Star Wars movie – for the first time. I believe I’d never been so enthralled by anything in my life. Other stuff I’d just watched, but that movie took me to a galaxy far, far away indeed, and I think it really changed the way I watch movies. Nowadays I get totally absorbed by the story – usually even if said story isn’t all that great – and forget about everything else until it’s over.

I have to admit that it can be somewhat demanding to watch movies with me as I don’t tolerate talking, cell phone usage or anything else that might distract me (chips are okay though as long as I can have some too), but that’s just the way it is now and the price, I feel, for being able to immerse oneself completely.

Great movies and shows take me to places and let me experience adventures I would never see and have in real life, and I’m extremely grateful for that.

Reading

You probably wouldn’t be reading this now if I hadn’t been a huge fan of reading all my life.

It started, unsurprisingly, with comics, mainly Mickey Mouse, Asterix and Clever & Smart. I tried to like Marvel and stuff, but those were just too ‘loud’ for me, if that makes sense.

At age 13 or so I shifted away from comics and started to read ‘real’ literature – if you’re willing to call penny dreadfuls literature, that is. John Sinclair is written by a German author and tells the stories of a Scotland Yard inspector specialized in paranormal investigations. I used to read those every week for a couple of years straight, and that’s what kicked off my turning into a serious bookworm. I assume it’s also where my penchant for horror movies came from, to boot.

For the next ten, fifteen years I read a hell of a lot, mostly science fiction and fantasy, but also thrillers, historical fiction and even non-fiction (the latter especially about ancient Egypt).

These days I’m not reading as much as I’d like, but I still do of course.

If you’re reading this I don’t need to lecture you about the power of the written word, do I?  Suffice it to say, without reading so much I wouldn’t be the person I am today, and I’ll never stop enjoying it.

Games

Playing video games is pretty much the earliest memory of consuming any type of media that I have, and it has always been my main hobby, if you will. It’s much more to me than a hobby though.

A really great game can, in a way, be the culmination of everything I talked about above. Experiencing adventures I could never have in real life? Check. Music that evokes strong emotions and makes the ride all the more enjoyable? Absolutely. Thrilling, touching or funny stories with heroes to root for and villains to despise? Sure thing. Well, sometimes anyway.

Add to that the ability to play an active part in all of it instead of just consuming passively, and in some cases to even fundamentally affect the outcome, and you get something truly marvelous.

Unfortunately playing video games has also helped to shape my worldview in a negative way though, as it has taught me that even amongst ‘normal’ human beings (i.e. not counting scum like terrorists, rapists and so on) there’s a frighteningly large number of dickheads out there. I’ve had stretches where I outright refused to play online-multiplayer games because I just wasn’t willing to take it anymore.

Apart from that though, what can I say, I just love playing video games. They’re inextricably a part of me.

And there you have it.

Tomorrow the wonderful Roger Edwards (thanks for all the great movie reviews by the way!) will be there for you with the fourth installment of Blaugust Promptapalooza 2020, so head on over to Contains Moderate Peril and have a look. I sure will.

Time flies when you’re having fun

CakeThree
As per tradition: moar cake!

Hard to believe, but today marks this here blog’s third birthday.

Had you asked me back then whether I thought I’d still be writing blog posts three years down the road…I really don’t know what my answer would have been.

One thing I do know for sure though. Had you told me at the time that I would publish 187 posts with a total of 156 thousand words, and still no end in sight, I’d called you crazy. But here we are.

The main reason, of course, is that it is a lot of fun. Much more so than I would have imagined. It’s also an ongoing learning experience. When I compare my first couple dozen posts with more recent ones it’s almost as if someone else had written the former. It’s remarkable how quickly human beings can learn stuff that’s rather alien to them and become at least somewhat proficient just by doing it over and over.

Along the way I’ve even learned a bit of HTML-code – I didn’t want to, but WordPress made me – which may come in handy…or not.

What didn’t happen was blogging becoming my true love and/or main driving force. Towards the end of Blapril Bhagpuss said that he’d rather write about games than actually play them, at least at the moment. To me actually playing the games is still much more important, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. After all the desire to chronicle my gaming adventures was and remains far and away the main purpose of this blog.

3rdBirthday1

Speaking of which, this third year has indeed been quite an adventurous one, not least due to the release of ArcheAge Unchained in October. Sucker for sandboxes that I am I’ve been deep-sea fishing, building a family empire with friends, trading, making music and generally goofing around quite a lot since then.

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Warframe was last year’s new addition to my gaming library, and a really great one. While it’s obviously neither an MMORPG nor a sandbox it has a surprising number of gameplay elements on offer that aren’t just about killing stuff. I’ve built a custom gun, went mining and fishing, composed deadly tunes, played Guitar Hero In Space and tried myself at parcours.

3rdBirthday2

The third game I’ve spent a lot of time with was EVE Online. I went back to nullsec, experienced my first Keepstar-kill, saw a faction Fortizar blow up and went to fight inside wormhole space. In April we would have finally made a trip to Iceland and attended the EVE fanfest too, but of course that didn’t happen. Maybe next year.

Finally, about a week ago Lakisa asked me, quite unexpectedly, about an MMORPG we hadn’t been playing for a couple of years. Honestly, I’d had heavy-heartedly made my peace with the fact that I’d never play it again some time ago, what with the reboot it got in 2017 that, in my opinion, was totally uncalled-for and ‘improved’ an outstanding game very much for the worse. Turns out, though, that the original version can still be played and even has a couple handful of players.

So yeah, we’re back.

3rdBirthday4
Looking stylish as ever…

Don’t be surprised to read some stories about a supposedly dead game around here in the near future. Year number four, here I come.

Have you ever…?

There’s another questionnaire making the rounds in blognation, and I found the results to be very interesting. While the idea is pretty simple on first glance I’ve been enjoying reading those posts a lot, not least due to the fact that, as it turns out, the answer to some of those questions depends a great deal on which corner of the world you come from. What’s a no-brainer to you might be a totally outlandish idea to me, or vice versa.

So let’s see in which ways having been born and raised in Germany has screwed me up, shall we?

Have you ever…

…driven or been driven at 100 mph / 160 kmh?

Oh boy, we’re starting off with a slam dunk. You see, many highways in Germany don’t have speed limits whatsoever for huge stretches. I think it’s stupid and high time for a change, but our politicians know all too well that we have a significant amount of speeders who love nothing more than to burn their money on the street, almost literally. Since more than half of that cash flows directly into state coffers it’s also a very serious source of governmental income, so…yeah.

It’s no big wonder, then, that I absolutely have driven at such speeds too when I was young. I think my all-time top speed was just over 200 kmh (124 mph). That being said, I don’t have to drive out of town much anymore, and I’ve also become older, calmer and wiser (I hope), so the needle rarely crosses 140 kmh when I drive nowadays.

…learned a possibly deadly skill?

Does tackling an opposing Football player as hard as I possibly can count? No? Then no.

…ridden in a helicopter?

Yes, in 2008 over the Grand Canyon. Pretty great, although I wouldn’t call it a life-changing experience.

That being said, flying (riding?) a helicopter myself is one of my lifelong dreams – most likely ever since I saw my first episode of Airwolf when I was about ten years old. I’ve done a bit of research though, and unsurprisingly this is something that takes a lot of time, effort and money. Unless you’re really wealthy I don’t think it can be realistically done just as a hobby, at least not in these here parts, so it probably won’t happen.

…gone zip lining?

Yes, in an adventure park on Koh Samui, Thailand. Quite fun. Lakisa even dared to ride upside down, which I politely refused.

My personal highlight in that park was all-terrain quad driving though. Hell, I want one of those things! And the terrain to match, which is the bigger hurdle.

…been Bungie jumping?

No. I would really like to, but I think someone would have to literally push me over the edge, as my fear of hights would prevent me from doing so myself, and I don’t think that’s allowed.

It may sound contradictory that I wouldn’t dare to jump yet still want to, but it’s that same fear of hights which lets me enjoy roller coasters, freefall towers and stuff like that all the more. Without a moderate amount of fear a ‘thrill ride’ is just a ‘ride’, I feel.

…been to an NFL game or Ice Hockey?

Yes and yes.

Being huge Football fans we’d wanted to watch a game live for quite some time. In 2017 the schedules finally aligned and we watched the Giants host the Lions in Metlife Stadium, New Jersey. The game was pretty crap, but it was still a great experience. We’d like to watch the Seahawks play at home in Seattle next.

We live in Cologne and thus have a first league ice hockey team playing right at our doorstep. We’ve watched the Kölner Haie, which translates to Cologne Sharks, playing at home three or four times. We’re not the biggest fans of the sport though, so we don’t go regularly.

…watched Dr. Who?

No, not even a single episode.

I don’t know why, exactly. I might be mistaken, but I think the show was never a big thing in Germany. At least I can’t remember anyone at school or anywhere else I used to hang out talk about it. It’s one of those glaring gaps in my entertainment-education, it seems.

…been to Canada?

No, but I’d like to see it. We’ve already talked about the possibility to make the above-mentioned trip to Seattle, watch the Seahawks play and head north afterwards one of these years.

…visited Disney?

No. We love amusement parks, but mostly those that focus on thrill rides. Also, the nearest one is in Paris, which isn’t that far but not around the corner either, and it’s said to be outrageously expensive.

…visited an actual castle?

Yes, several. Mostly in England and Scotland. I’ve been to Doune Castle, for example, which is where most castle-related scenes of Monty Python and the Holy Grail were filmed.

We even have quite a lot of them here in Germany, and, well…as Eddie Izzard once said, we (Europeans) are up to here in fucking castles. They still fascinate me though, and I love visiting them.

…visited Vegas?

Yes, twice. We’ll probably go again. It’s fun for a couple of days at a time.

…eaten alone at a restaurant?

It depends on how you define restaurant. If only ‘real’ restaurants count, so no canteen, no pub, no fast food place, then no. I think. Never thought about it, really. If you loosen up the rules a bit the answer changes to ‘pretty regularly’ though.

…played an instrument?

Yes. I’ve actively played the guitar for about six years, the drums for about twelve years and a wee bit of piano in between. I can still strum a couple of songs when I pick up a guitar and play the drums fairly well, but not counting small fun-gigs at birthday or christmas parties I haven’t done so in quite a while.

…ridden a motorcycle?

No.

…ridden a horse?

Yes, but I didn’t like it.

Lakisa rides a lot, and I reluctantly agreed to go on a ride with her when we were on vacation in Corsica. What can I say, I really don’t like being at the mercy of an animal that doesn’t appreciate me sitting on it. Also, I totally understand the horse’s mindset on the matter, and I’d rather leave it be so we’re both happy.

…been skiing/snowboarding?

Skiing, yes. Once when I was about six, hated it. A second time 25 years later, just to see whether my opinion on it had changed. It had not.

I guess I really like to stand on firm ground, so I’ll gladly pass on having huge, unwieldy planks nailed to my feet, thank you very much.

As you might have guessed it’s a No on snowboarding.

…gone to a festival?

Only single-day ones. The idea to live in a tent for a couple of days, without bed, shower, toilet or dignity…no thanks.

…driven a stick shift?

Again, this is a somewhat weird question for most Europeans as manual transmissions are still the norm over here rather than the exception. In Germany there are most likely a lot of people who have actually never driven an automatic, whereas most everyone has driven a manual. So have I, and our current car is a manual too.

…ridden in a police car?

No.

…driven a boat?

Yes, again in Corsica. We rented a small boat just for the two of us and cruised around for two hours (I think). Unfortunately it wasn’t nearly as fast as I’d hoped – turns out you need a driver’s license for any kind of bigger motor – but it was still quite nice.

…eaten escargot?

I had to google what that even is. Ew, no.

…been on a cruise?

I’m not proud of it, but yes, we’ve been on a couple. It does very much go against my desire to go on vacations that feel at least a little bit like an adventure, on the other hand it’s an extremely stress-free and relaxing way to see a whole lot of stuff in a short amount of time. A couple of years ago we’ve been to Athens, Rome, Crete, Mykonos, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca and a few other places all within twelve days, for example.

…been on TV?

Yes, once or twice. It doesn’t really count though as some colleagues and I were just filmed doing our regular jobs, which in my case is handling the technical stuff of radio broadcasting.

…been in a paper/book/magazine?

Not that I know of.

…eaten Sushi?

Yes, quite often. My tastes in regard to fish are rather limited though, and I pretty much only eat tuna.

…seen a U.F.O.?

No.

…rescued an animal?

My ex-wife took in a very small and weak hedgehog once and nursed it for a couple of days until it seemed strong enough to go back out again. I helped her a bit with that, but since I don’t know whether the little fella actually made it after that I can’t be sure if it really was a rescue or only delaying the inevitable.

…met someone rather famous?

My aforementioned job brings meeting more or less famous people with it every now and then, yes. If we play someone’s music chances are they’ll swing by sooner or later and record acoustic or at least scaled down versions of some of their songs in our studio. I think the most famous artist I personally recorded was (don’t you dare laughing!) Chris de Burgh, because of course I had a day off when Mark Knopfler or two guys from Metallica came by. Chris de Burgh’s autograph made my mom happy though, so there’s that.

Just one more personality test

Richard Bartle isn’t the only one who concerned himself with finding out what makes people tick when playing games, and what different types of players there are.

Several fellow bloggers (too many by now to name them all) have recently done Quantic Foundry’s Gamer Motivation Profile survey, most of them not for the first time. Reading their results was really interesting, and I definitely prefer this test over the other, mainly because it doesn’t feel quite as restrictive to me, and it doesn’t paint me as a psychopath just because I like PvP either.

Unlike my keyboard pals (we are kind of a modern version of pen pals, aren’t we?) I’d never done this one myself yet, just like Bartle’s survey until two days ago. Well, now I have.

Profile1
These are defined as our ‘Primary Motivations’

Without context the graph itself is somewhat baffling because I feel the Social and Creativity percentages should be much lower, while I’d expected to score higher at Mastery and Immersion. Only Action and Achievement seem pretty spot on. So what’s the deal here?

Each of these scores is an aggregate of two ‘Secondary Motivations’. The Social category, for example, is made up of your results in Competition and Community. The idea is that you’re being social whenever you interact with other players, be it cooperatively, competitively or just chatting. My Competition-score is 60%, Community sits at 52%. The former still seems a tad low to me, but as it also includes wanting to be the best at everything, which I don’t care about, it does make sense.

Creativity is made up of Discovery and Design, which include stuff like exploring the game world and customizing one’s character or spaceship, respectively, so my high score here makes sense after all.

What really made me laugh was this description of gamers with a high score in Destruction (part of the Action category):

“If they accidentally find themselves in games like The Sims, they are the ones who figure out innovative ways to get their Sims killed.”

Yep, that’s me!

So knowing what those scores actually mean I’d say that my results are pretty accurate.

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All my ‘Secondary Motivations’ in one graph

The questionnaire itself, just like Bartle’s test, is a mixed bag. A couple of questions are really weird, as is the way some of your answers are interpreted. As Bhagpuss puts it:

Constant action and excitement“. Who wants that? It would be unbearable! It’s like asking “Would you like to live on a diet of nothing but donuts forever?” and then interpreting a flat “No, I bloody would not!” as meaning “Well, you obviously don’t like donuts then, do you?

That being said, I picked the second-highest answer for the question he refers to, which is “Enjoy a lot”. Which doesn’t mean that I would want to live on nothing but donuts, so I absolutely second his critique.

I also share UltrViolet’s feeling that the test seems to be more marketing research than scientific study, not least due to the fact that you’re asked which games you’ve played and enjoyed recently, which systems you play on etc., with those answers not affecting your test result in any way as far as I can tell. Oh well, if it somehow convinces people to make more of the kinds of games I like…

My three ‘recent’ games I enjoyed playing (they define recent as ‘released in the past few years’) were Uncharted 4, ArcheAge: Unchained and Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. Of course I cheated a bit with ArcheAge here, but since the legacy game and Unchained are listed seperately it’s technically correct.

I’m not currently playing any web/mobile/tablet games (and never have and probably never will), so I left all of those boxes blank. I was actually a bit surprised that I wasn’t kicked out of the questionnaire right then and there.

My three ‘any other’ games that I’ve enjoyed recently were EVE Online, Warframe and NieR: Automata. Again a bit of cheating here as I’ve just started to play the latter (I’m like two hours in), so I can’t really give a verdict yet. It started really strong though and I couldn’t think of anything else anyway.

Bullethell
That bullet hell sequence right at the start really caught me by surprise

So have I gained some new, groundbreaking insights about myself doing these two gamer-profile-thingies? Not really, no. But finding out stuff about yourself probably isn’t the main reason for doing them anyway. Sharing your results and talking about them is much more interesting. At least I think it’s kinda cool that I now know a bit more about the gaming preferences of my fellow bloggers, and they about mine.

Blapril 2020 post count: 12

Doing Bartle’s Test of Gamer Psychology

Bartle’s Test of Gamer Psychology has been around for a pretty long time now. Many people have done it, and its merits as well as its flaws have always been subject of much debate.

However my impression is that, despite all criticism, the majority of players are able to identify with their results for the most part.

When Krikket talked about hew own findings the other day I realized that I’d actually never taken the test myself. I guess it was about time to remedy that, wasn’t it?

Bartle_Krikket
I nicked Krikket’s much nicer version of the old graph, I hope she doesn’t mind

Before showing off my result I’d like to share some personal thoughts about the test, now that I’ve taken it.

I absolutely agree with the most commonly heard criticisms. My main complaint is that a lot of the questions are rather restrictive and sometimes outright weird.

Bartle_Question

This is, I think, a good example of a really strange choice I had to make. I mean, sure, I get that this one is meant to assess if you’re more of an explorer or a killer. There’s a whole bunch of assumptions tucked in there that I don’t necessarily like though.

If I was an explorer (spoiler: I am), why would I need to feel ‘safe’ to enjoy doing so? Why would I not dare to explore if other players were also present? The essay linked above claims that explorers say things like “You mean you don’t know the shortest route from [obscure room 1] to [obscure room 2]?”, which absolutely implicates that there can be a sense of competition to it, so this forced link between safe and exploration makes no sense to me.

If I was a killer (spoiler: I am), on the other hand, why would an area be useless to me by default as long as there’s no other player to kill there? Maybe a bunch of lucrative quests that I need to do to advance my gear are located there, and I’m actually glad that I don’t need to compete with others or fight over the quest mobs.

Now, I do realize that I’m probably being too nitpicky here. If I were to conceive a test like this and didn’t want to hassle people with having to answer hundreds of questions I’d be forced to generalize a bit, too. Still, it just rubs me the wrong way when my options feel too black-or-white, and also when choices are presented as mutually exclusive when they really aren’t.

This all being said though, here’s my result:

Bartle_Result

And what can I say, it represents me pretty well I think.

I love MMORPGs that allow me to feel like an Explorer, and many great adventures I’ve experienced only came about because I dared to venture into regions unknown.

It’s no secret that I also like to fight against other players and that I’m an advocate for open-world PvP, if done right. This is where I’m really quite at odds with Dr. Bartle’s essay because his description of a Killer is, in my opinion, more fitting for players I’d call griefers instead. Some versions of the test even use that term instead of killer. This is problematic though as it paints all fans of PvP with the same brush. Unjustly, I might add, proudly donning my Captain Obvious cape. I’m the perfect example in that I like to PvP a lot, but I hate griefers with a passion and would never behave like that myself.

That 40% Socializer score is probably a bit too high, to be honest. Oh, I do like to do stuff with my close friends of course, and when I’m in a great guild I also like to group up every now and then. More often than not I like to be on my own though, and even when I’m in a group I’m usually not very talkative. Except when you get me going about one of my favourite topics, then you’ll probably wish you hadn’t after a while.

The low Achiever score definitely hits the nail on the head. Being the first, having the biggest numbers, ticking off all the boxes…I couldn’t care less about things like that. Now, I do like to get my hands on nice rewards, so I sometimes engage in achievement-hunting and stuff like that if that’s what it takes. However it’s always about what I can do with those rewards, not about the achievements themselves.

And there you have it. If nothing else I guess this shows that a test like this can be flawed and still yield accurate results somewhat reliably. If you’d like to do it yourself, here it is.

Blapril 2020 post count: 11

My Five Favourite Game Series

Another great idea is making the rounds in our corner of the blogosphere right now, which is to name your most beloved game franchises and sing their praise.

Krikket, Naithin, Telwyn, Endalia, Izlain and others have already done so, now I’ll have a crack at it. Late to the party, as per usual.

I’m not aware of any official rules, but like Wilhelm I’m just going to assume that to qualify as a series there must have been at least three distinct games; expansions or DLC don’t count.

Anyway, here goes.

The Secret of Monkey Island

5games_Monkey1

I started to play video games a lot earlier than that, but the first titles that managed to absolutely enthrall me and keep me glued to my chair until four in the morning were the early Lucas Arts adventures (actually ‘Lucasfilm Games’ back then), Maniac Mansion and Zak McCracken.

It’s no wonder then that those will always have a special place in my heart. However the pinnacle of that development team’s work was and remains the Monkey Island series.

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Or: how to become a pirate in the weirdest, wackiest way possible

I don’t think I’ve played any other adventure game that’s as good as Monkey Island 1 and 2, before or since, which is hardly surprising as those are pure perfection. Puzzles, dialogue, humor, control scheme, music…all unmatched to this day. Even the graphics were great by 1990’s standards.

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Of course the special editions look even better; highly recommended

Part three, The Curse of Monkey Island, introduced voice acting to the series, which was also outstanding. Overall it’s ‘only’ a very good game, but it was still miles ahead of the competition.

Unfortunately everything that came after couldn’t hold a candle to the first three titles, but those alone easily make the series one of my all-time favourites.

Uncharted

When I bought a Playstation 3 in 2010 the first two Uncharted games had already been released some time ago, and while I was aware that people had a lot of praise for them – especially the second one – they weren’t high on my shopping list for some reason or other.

Part three released in 2011 to critical acclaim, but even then did I not jump on the bandwagon, at least not right away. The hype prompted me to add its predecessor to my Amazon wishlist though, and some time later Lakisa’s parents gifted it to me for my birthday.

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Ain’t that the truth

Holy crap, that game pulls no punches. Its prelude is probably the best, most gripping opening sequence I’ve ever experienced in a video game. It sucked me in, digested me thoroughly for about 15 hours and spat out an entirely new person. Or something. Look, I’m obviously exaggerating, but not by much. It was that great an experience.

Of course I bought parts one and three immediately afterwards and played them in order. The first is a bit rough in comparison, but still very good; the third is almost as great as the second, but not quite.

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Uncharted 4 is one of the very few games I’ve specifically bought a piece of hardware for, in this case the Playstation 4, and it did only disappoint insofar that – spoiler, kind of – the ending makes clear that we really won’t be seeing any more adventures of Nathan Drake, like the game’s subtitle suggests.

If I had to rank them I’d say 2, 3, 4, 1, from best to worst, but in truth there is no ‘worst’ because they’re all great. I firmly believe that anyone who loves video games should have played these.

Grand Theft Auto

What can be said about the GTA series that hasn’t been said a thousand times? From GTA III onwards each game was a paradise for open world fans, full of memorable characters, action-packed missions, exciting and/or wacky stories and tons of optional side-activities.

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Also featured: stealing and driving cars; the name wouldn’t make much sense otherwise, would it?

Each new title’s release also reheated discussions about violence in video games, and the series has often been used by politicians as a poster child for ‘bad’ games that should be banned outright. I believe the most recent entry, GTA V, was the first that didn’t make much headlines in that regard, although the gameplay itself hasn’t changed much.

I guess that’s in part because gaming as a whole has finally started to become much more widely accepted in recent years, and it’s not quite as easily to scapegoat anymore. However the bigger reason, I believe, is that the game is just too good not to acknowledge it as what it really is: a piece of art.

5games_GTA2
We’ve all matured, you see. We talk things through first now, THEN we shoot

I’ve extensively played GTA III, Vice City, San Andreas and V. They’re all great. If you only ever play one I suggest to play V though.

Mortal Kombat

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I’ve already talked about my history with the Mortal Kombat series in some detail here, so I’ll keep this short.

I’m actually not a big fighting game buff, so to have fun with a game like this I need it to be accessible above all else, and I also need more than ‘just’ the fighting to hook me.

The fact that one character looked and sounded just like Bruce Lee, of whom I’ve always been a big fan, was what prompted me to buy MK1 for the SNES, and since the game was pretty easy to learn I liked the gameplay a lot. MK2 was even better and introduced some of my favourite characters to the series.

Just like with GTA, Mortal Kombat games were always the subject of much debate, mainly due to their huge repertoire of gory finishing moves. Obviously no one ever really dies in a fighting game though, and MK is no exception. That fact alone serves, to me, as proof that the games don’t take themselves very seriously. The hilarious story modes later entries had only reinforced that impression.

5games_MK
Those two alone must have killed each other millions of times by now

Over a span of 27 years I’ve played five Mortal Kombat games extensively and dabbled in a couple more. Yep, definitely a favourite.

Unreal Tournament

When I bought the first UT in 1999 it was quite a revelation. Up to that point I’d already spent a lot of time playing multiplayer shooters with a couple of friends – the likes of Doom, Doom 2, Duke Nukem 3D, Blood and Quake – and we’d had a lot of fun.

Unreal Tournament was quite different though. Above all it was a lot faster and much more fluid. Sprinting across maps and fragging people had never felt that good, and I loved every minute of it. The futuristic setting was also right up my alley.

The icing on the cake were the available game modes though. We’d played pretty much only free-for-all deathmatch before, and while that can be all kinds of fun fighting in teams over flags or control points offered us a whole new level of tactical gameplay. We even used the great Assault mode to team up against CPU-controlled opponents, giving us our first experience of co-op shooter gameplay.

The series’ second entry was called UT 2003, and while it looked much better thanks to a new engine the gameplay was, in my opinion, inferior to that of its predecessor, mainly due to a changed Domination mode that I didn’t like as much, and the Assault mode outright missing.

Then came UT 2004 though, the undisputed apex of the series. It didn’t actually change that much, but it brought the much-missed Assault back, and also a cool new mode called Onslaught that had huge maps and vehicle combat.

5games_UT
Unfortunately “Mailvaltar” wouldn’t fit on the license plate

I was so into 2k4 that I even joined a German UT-clan for a while. They were a great bunch, however playing the game that much and at that level made me realize that a) I’m not actually that good at playing shooters, and b) even the best ones get repetitive after a while. So I left the clan again, but kept playing the game on and off.

Of course I was pretty hyped for the release of Unreal Tournament 3 regardless (what is it with gaming franchises and their weird numbering?). Unfortunately it disappointed, for reasons I can’t quite explain myself. It had a new, great looking engine and hoverboards. Hoverboards!! Those are the only merits that immediately spring to mind though, so I guess by 2007 we’d all hoped for a bit more innovation.

My enthusiasm fizzled out relatively quickly then and I moved on to other franchises. I assume I wasn’t alone in this as there’s never been talk about another UT game as far as I’m aware. Still, I’ve sunk ungodly amounts of time into the first three titles, and 2k4 will probably remain my favourite multiplayer-shooter of all time.

Blapril 2020 post count: 10

I am just like WHO now??

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It’s still Getting To Know You Week, so I thought it might be fun to do the ‘fictional character personality test’ Endalia and Bhagpuss have already done with interesting results. Man, I so hope I’ll get a high match with Dale Cooper like Bhag did!

I’ll just do the complete version of the test – should take long enough to answer 121 questions – and except for the top match I’ll only refer to characters from shows and movies that I know well, with a match of at least 60%.

Let’s gooo!

SamanthaCarter

Top match at 76%: Samantha Carter (Stargate SG-1)

I like the movie but never watched the show, so…yeah, no idea. How’s she like, folks? She’s great, isn’t she? Please tell me she’s great!

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Odo

So, Odo, eh? The funny thing is, we’ve just started to watch DS9 from the beginning, so the first half of season one is fresh in my mind. I remembered Odo as a very likeable and respectable character from watching the show many years ago, though at the beginning he’s mainly grumpy and sometimes downright hostile (not just towards Quark either). I really hope the personality this test refers to is based upon that which I remember, not that first impression we get of him.

Other than that my only complaint is that Garak’s so low on the list. Not that I really identify with him, but hey, it’s Garak. One of the coolest characters in any show ever in my opinion.

Game of Thrones

Brienne

Brienne of Tarth as the highest match and no one else comes even close? I can very much live with that. As with Garak I would have liked to see Tyrion higher on that list of course (he’s at 233 with 59%), but at least there are no blonde Lannisters to be seen anywhere. Phew, dodged that bullet.

Marvel Cinematic Universe

CaptainMarvel

I omitted a few this time – there’s just too many of ’em – and I’m also starting to see a trend here. The characters I tend to like the most all appear only around the 60% mark, in this instance Tony Stark. Like the others I mentioned he’s smart and funny, but also kind of a dickhead. I guess I should probably be glad that I don’t match higher with my favourites… Anyway, Carol Danvers is very cool, so I’m not complaining.

The Big Bang Theory

Amy

I’m fine with Shamy up there, obviously. What I don’t quite get is Bernadette’s appearance this high on the list. That woman frightens me! Seriously, I hope I’m nothing like her.

Star Wars

Leia

Not bad. Who wouldn’t want a high match with our favourite snarky princess? I hope this is Sir Alec Guiness’ Obi-Wan though, not Ewan McGregor’s.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Giles

Yes! Unlike Bhagpuss I wanted to see Giles on top here, and I got him. Buffy and Willow are fine too of course. Angel’s matched just low enough for comfort.

Dexter

Dexter

Uh…70% match with a mass-murderer, and again a likeable dickhead at 60%. I think I should stop now.

Survey
Yes. No! Maybe…I don’t know. Can you repeat the question?

Well, this was quite fun. I got to say though that the survey isn’t easy to answer for non-native speakers, and I’m pretty sure the outcome would have been at least a bit different had I been able to do it in German. Seriously, even with a dictionary’s help I have no idea what ‘debased’ and ‘pure’ are supposed to mean in this context. I just let the slider sit at 50% in these cases (about eight or so). There were others where I knew which direction to pull the slider in, but since I still wasn’t completely sure about the choices’ exact meanings I didn’t go all the way to the left or right. I assume that’s why I don’t have any matches above 76%.

Oh, and now I almost forgot to resolve this: I’ve got a 68% match with Dale Cooper, neat! Aside from him I remember so little about Twin Peaks that it would have been pointless to list more characters though.

Anyway, if you’re a movie- and TV series-fan I highly recommend doing the survey for yourself. There’s many more franchises in there, like Friends, Harry Potter, The Office, LOST, Sherlock (got a 67% match with the high-functioning sociopath, huh), etc. Should be something there for everyone.

Blapril 2020 post count: 8

Blogger recognition, neat!

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It’s Getting To Know You Week in Blaprilverse, and while I’m way late to the party I guess now’s the perfect time to address the Blogger Recognition Award, which both Naithin and Bhagpuss tagged me for.

The rules are simple:

  1. Thank the wonderful person(s) who nominated you and leave a link back to their blogs.
  2. Explain your blog’s origin story or its history.
  3. Hand out two or more pieces of advice for new bloggers.
  4. Nominate 5 other bloggers and hook us up with links to their blogs.

Here goes.

Amiga500
Pictured: my history of writing, part one (ca. 1989)

If you’re reading this chances are you already know Bhagpuss and his blog, Inventory Full. He’s been around for a long time, posts very regularly and is always entertaining to read. When I discovered that there are such wonderful things as gaming blogs some seven or eight years ago, his was one of the first that I stumbled upon, and I’ve been a regular ever since. As a bonus he has the most extensive, auto-updating blogroll I’ve ever seen, which is very handy.

Naithin’s Time to Loot is relatively new in comparison. It isn’t his first blog though, and he’s a very active and thoughtful blogger too. Highly recommended.

Thank you both for nominating me, it’s an honor (not being ironic here)!

KeyboardOld
Ca. 1995; probably not exactly like mine, but close enough

As for my own blog, I think it came into being mainly for two reasons.

One, I’ve always been a big fan of language in general and the written word in particular. I love to read, and ever since I had a keyboard I’ve also been fond of writing (I hate writing by hand, it’s pretty much the most uncomfortable- and unnatural-feeling thing you could force me to do, and nobody would be able to read any of it either).

I’m not a terribly creative person though, so making up and writing stories or something like that was never even a consideration. I believe the first things I wrote were hints and walkthroughs for adventure games I’d beaten. I distributed those on 3.5 inch disks on our schoolyard. Once the internet had taken off I became a sucker for gaming forums. I read absolutely everything there was to read about the games that interested me, and I also added to the discussions and the knowledge base. Sometimes a lot. I wrote close to a thousand posts each in some forums I was active in, for example SWG.de, the biggest German Star Wars Galaxies community at the time, or our SWTOR-guild’s internal forum years later.

Websites and forums come and go though, and I’ve written a huge amount of stuff over the years that’s now lost forever. The majority of it wasn’t really worth preserving, obviously, but I clearly remember some guides I’ve written and conversations that I’ve had which I would really like to be able to read one more time, if only for nostalgia’s sake. So I guess at some point I started to feel that I needed my own, permanent place to stow away my ramblings.

Reason number two is that video games, especially MMORPGs, sometimes let me experience great adventures that I a) don’t want to forget, and b) would like to share with others. I remember vividly that one such adventure in specific triggered the actual, tangible wish to sit down a write about it. It took another couple of years however, but in the end I finally did.

So here we are, almost three years down the road from my first blog post. I’m really glad that I took the plunge when I did, and I’m grateful for the advice and inspiration all the great bloggers out there gave me beforehand and since, knowingly and unknowingly, because without that I’d probably not dared to.

LogitechG15
Ca. 2003; I had this for about 13 or 14 years, great piece of hardware

Now, as there’s already so much great advice out there, what could I tell you about blogging that’s not already been said countless times?

I guess that’s advice number one right there: it doesn’t matter if someone else has already written about a certain topic.

Firstly, no one reads all the blogs. It might not seem likely from your perspective, but it’s absolutely possible that someone comes to your blog and reads about that topic for the very first time.

And even if not, everyone’s viewpoint is unique, so your take on the subject can still give new insights and perspectives that others might find useful or at least entertaining. Whatever it is you want to say, knock yourself out!

My second advice is to only publish blog posts that you are pleased with, otherwise don’t publish.

This one might just be me though as I set pretty high standards for myself, and it bugs me – probably more that it should – when I reread a post of mine after I’ve published it and think it could have been better. What really does not matter is what anyone else thinks about your writings though. Unless you’re getting paid for it you do this for yourself after all, so if you are happy with your creation you’ve done a good job, period.

RoccatVulcan
This is what I’m typing these here words with, it’s really good too

At this point I’m supposed to tag some more folks for the award/challenge/whatever this actually is, and I’d really love to. By now most if not all bloggers I read have already been tagged at least once though, and I have completely lost track of who has or hasn’t been.

So please, if you read this and haven’t been tagged yet, consider yourself tagged now and chime in. It’s fun and doesn’t hurt at all!

Blapril 2020 post count: 7

What happens in Berlin, stays in Berlin

Nah, just kidding. That wouldn’t make for an interesting blogpost, would it?

I always wanted to attend EVE Online’s fanfest in Reykjavík, preferably combined with a trip around Iceland before or after the festivities. It never came to pass for various reasons however.

Hence, when CCP announced some time last year that there wouldn’t be a regular fanfest in 2019 I was pretty disappointed because I feared that my chance to go might have come and gone. After all, nobody but CCP knows the real reasons for the cancellation – the official one is that Harpa concert hall is/was being renovated – and I was a bit sceptical if there was going to be another fanfest in Reykjavík at all.

So what has any of this to do with Berlin?

Well, to compensate for the lack of a ‘real’ fanfest CCP decided to do a bunch of smaller events all around the globe, two of which not too far from where we live. So basically the only question was if would we make the trip to Amsterdam in March, or to Berlin in September. Amsterdam would have been the shorter drive, but since I had a football game on March 24th we would have missed at least part of the event. So G-Fleet in Berlin it was going to be.

World Tour

Attending the first G-Fleet – in 2018, also in Berlin – didn’t cross my mind at the time, but the thought of not wanting to miss yet another chance to be at an EVE event had really took hold by now. Lakisa was all for it too, so we bought the tickets and booked a hotel within walking distance from the venue, the Game Science Center.

We decided to go by car because it’s much cheaper than a train ride for two. The journey out made us regret this somewhat because a truck accident ahead of us made the trip take almost nine hours instead of six. That’s Friday 13th for you I guess. We missed the opening ceremony due to that, according to our NC Dot comrades it was more like a little talk than a ceremony anyway though.

Speaking of whom, of course we had been looking forward to meet some of the folks we had only known by voice or even text up to then. Altogether there was a dozen of us, mostly from Germany and Great Britain, and we had a lot of fun.

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Good thing we all look the same, it made meeting up so much easier

We also talked to people from other corps and alliances, but I couldn’t tell you any names even if I wanted to. Everybody was really nice and the whole event felt pleasantly civilized despite copious amounts of alcohol being consumed. Even Goons weren’t angry that a couple of us stole…I’m sorry, captured the flag they had put up inside the venue, but that may have something to do with us giving it back to them later.

On late Friday evening a special G-Fleet issue of Spectre Fleet was being formed, and since a couple of PCs were still vacant Lakisa and I decided to tag along. It took a while to get everyone sorted with a ship and Discord access, but once we got going we were killing stuff in and around Tama in no time. Really expensive stuff too. A shame that we didn’t use our own characters.

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EVE_GFleet_Spectre
And just like that yet another character has turned into an outlaw by my hand…

There was also a 2vs2 PvP tournament. Each team was allowed to field one Tech I battlecruiser and one tactical destroyer. We watched most of those fights although it was quite hard to see exactly what was going on.

EVE_GFleet_Arena
In hindsight I might need a new pair of glasses after all

On Saturday we attended some of the presentations. The one I’d been looking forward to, Epic stories from the EVE universe by Andrew Groen, didn’t disappoint, but the one about Bomber’s Bar and another about a special kind of logistics division within Signal Cartel were cool too.

The show CCP themselves put on wasn’t really that great to be honest. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate them being there and stuff, but my main takeaway, especially from the AMA on Friday, was a whole lot of “we have no idea” and “we can’t talk about that”.

Still, it was a cool event and worth it for the socializing alone. Oh, and for the swag of course.

EVE_GFleet_Swag

I’m really happy that we managed to snag those Quafe cans, but the other stuff is pretty nice too. The USB stick contains Andrew Groen’s first book Empires of EVE, of which I already have the physical version, but it’s cool to also have it in PDF format now. The gift-card’s code was redeemed for a set of three ingame SKINs:

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The Triglavian ships are still the new hotness, shown here the Draugur

So yeah, would do again.

By now we know that there will in fact be a fanfest in Iceland next year after all, from April 2nd to 5th. Since G-Fleet was really fun I’d like to go more than ever now, but we’ll see.