What started as a few overlaps, maybe 20 minutes here, an hour there, a couple of people at a time, tonight I find myself watching 4 streams. The same thing happened last night for a short while as well.
A few weeks ago, while looking for a solution to this, I found a site called mutlistre.am, which greatly simplifies the process of watching multiple Twitch streams.
Open a browser window and log into Twitch.tv as usual
In the address bar, go to multistre.am and then enter the channel names you would like to watch
Experiment with the layout to your liking, you can cycle through the windows, have one chat with a dropdown for the list of channels
By hovering over a feed, you can refresh just that feed, or remove it, view the channel profile or mute all audio apart from that single feed. You can also switch both the chat and audio to that feed.
Any URL you have in the address bar can be used by others to copy your layout. For example, the feed about is:
You’ll see me posting these layout links in the #stream-shoutouts channel on the Support Role Discord.
Realistically, this is more useful if you’re trying to watch two streams because it’s completely possible to fully engage in that many streams, in my opinion. Once you hit three or more, you can have a presence and jump around, but it starts to get difficult to keep up. Maybe you’re better at multi-tasking than I am though!
Yes, you could just use multiple browser windows or tabs, but I’ve found this to use slightly less resource, removes Twitch clutter and provides a simpler way all round to engage with multiple streams.
The Master System II wasn’t the first console we had during our childhood, it wasn’t the last either. We’d seen the Atari 2600 at some point, with the usual games, but it was the Master System II and the built in game, Alex the Kidd In Miracle World, which stands out to me.
As I write this, the Rock Paper Scissors battles just sprang back into my mind. Damn, that was some nostalgia!
I watched my Uncle play this game, I played it myself, my younger siblings also dabbled in it too. I don’t think I ever saw the end of the game, but we definitely played this quite a bit. We didn’t own too many games on the system, the only other game I remember now is Sonic the Hedgehog 2, but I was never a huge fan.
This was when I started to really take notice of video games.
Consoles fell out of favour for me, PC was where it was at by the mid-nineties. Other games at the time were obviously a big hit, stuff like Quake, Doom and the usual. For me, a huge portion of my time was invested in Team 17’s Worms series. Worms United, Worms 2, Worms: Armageddon and Worms World Party specifically.
My passion for the Worms series was strong enough during that 2D golden era, I ran a blog for a time, called the Worms Think Tank. When I search for that now, I can’t even find it on the Way Back Machine, but it does turn up here, against community member worMatty.
I don’t even feature myself on that site, but I went by the name Concrete Cowboy, something I stole from an episode of the Rugrats once haha. If you look closely during my streams today, you might notice some of my current profile names contain Ccowboy or something like that. Now you know why 🤣
Matt looked after the site for me towards the end of its existence, as I was going through a rough time with mental health. Eventually, I left the community and the site behind, I did improve my mental health situation though, not because of the games I must add.
Worms was ultimately responsible for me even knowing about HTML, CSS and blogging.
3. Grand Theft Auto
My mother and I argued a little about this game, as I was 15 at the time this released. Although my parents had recently separated at the time, my mother tells me she instructed my father not to allow me to play the game. It was an 18 rated game.
That obviously didn’t work, because I acquired it somehow, my father probably even purchased it for me! 😆
What a time to be alive. I still remember setting fire to anything that moved, running over pedestrians, jumping bridges, blowing up remote control cars. I remember acquiring a 4MB Voodoo 3DFX card and enabling the option in GTA for the first time. Absolutely incredible! My poor, tiny, fragile little mind.
It makes this list mostly for the series as a whole though, rather than the first game alone. I’ve played many of them, but there’s a lot of gaps in my experience too. GTA V and GTA Online, however, well they’re thoroughly covered.
Around the time of my wedding, I was heavily involved in GTA Online, it was definitely a crutch I was leaning on, but it did the trick. Sleepless nights were filled with deliveries of substances, riding bikes up the side of mountains, stealing jets from the army base, cruising around the highways on motorbikes. Mostly with total strangers in a group I found myself in.
There’s nothing quite like it. For a long time, it will probably remain the game I’ve sunk the most time into, around 1800 hours at the time of writing.
2. Left 4 Dead
Here is a game which I’d been keeping tabs on for a short while before it released, hyping up my friends. The demo Valve made available was approximately 2 of the 5 levels which made up the full No Mercy campaign.
This didn’t stop my little group from playing the demo for several hours, we couldn’t get enough. When the full game launched, we devoured it, nothing else mattered.
Around this time, I went through a pretty heavy break up after 5.5 years with someone. We were living in the same house, which we’d mortgaged together. Honestly, it was like hell. In the several months I stayed in the house, in the tiny bedroom I once used as a teenager, I had no idea what to do with my life.
While I figured that out, I would play Left 4 Dead as much as possible. This routinely meant starting around midnight, after finishing a shift at 11.30pm, or starting much earlier in the evening when not working, but always going to 4am or longer.
Staying up late and chatting with strangers on the internet, smoking way too many cigarettes, perched on the edge of a double bed my sister had donated to me, ready for my impending move. It was a simple time, a few hundred hours of Left 4 Dead under my belt, I cut my losses and moved out with my name still on the mortgage, I couldn’t handle the situation any more.
A series of events began after this which led me to meet my wife for the first time.
That zombie game, the definitive zombie game in my eyes, saved me in the real world.
This was the point in my illustrious gaming career when I realised the story was more important to me than anything else. My love for FPS games was suddenly presenting me with this vehicle for telling an amazing story.
I lapped it up, the set pieces, the dialogue… Opposing Force and Blue Shift expansions too, over and over again. Using the command console to play short segments of the game I enjoyed, again and again. Using mods. Drinking it all in, so amazing.
Half-Life 2 came along and further transformed storytelling and even physics in an FPS, then episodes 1 & 2, it was all thoroughly brilliant. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was about to become a serious story nerd.
This would eventually lead me on to entirely different experiences, away from my comfort zone on the PC, back to consoles and on to third-person action games such as The Last of Us, RPGs, walking simulators and so much more, all in pursuit of an interesting story.
Today, I value the narrative, characters, lore, worldbuilding and storytelling above all else. The shiniest graphics can’t save you from a bad story.
So there you have it, the five most impactful video games in my life today. Many others would make the list if it carried on from there, but these are the most important to me!
What would your five most impactful games be? Sound off in the comments or write your own post, if you missed this the first time it did the rounds like I did 😁
Sixteen years of Steam sales have left me in a state of “meh” every time I get that email; oh joy, 20 of the items on my wish-list are on sale! Again!
There was a time when such sales meant steep discounts of 80-90% for older games, 50-75% off newer games. At least that’s what I remember, I have no data to back up this claim, I’m just ranting here. The discounts on Steam just don’t seem as high as often these days, or is it just me?
Regardless, unfortunately for Valve, so much time has passed since I began using the service, so many games have been purchased and un-played, I now scrutinise everything on my wish-list. There’s enough evidence of poor purchasing decisions in my backlog to suggest I shouldn’t buy anything until I’ve exhausted what I’ve already picked up.
Let me walk you through some of my decision making for this year’s Steam Summer Sale.
Doom Eternal. The re-imagining of Doom, released in 2016 was a spectacular video game. I was expecting to switch off my brain and shoot things, which is exactly what happened for around 10 hours. Glorious and gratuitous shredding of hell beasts.
Doom Eternal has been on my wish-list for a while as a result, released only a few months ago, it’s topping the Steam Summer Sale chart with a 50% discount at £24.99. Highly praised, it looks great, but it’s staying on my wish-list because this would blow my budget for the entire sale.
Far Cry: New Dawn. My first foray into the Far Cry series was only a few years ago, with Far Cry 3, thanks to you guessed it, a Steam Sale. After being introduced to the delights of Uplay via The Division, I started going on a Uplay splurge during Steam sales, because honestly, Uplay wasn’t that bad. I loved Far Cry 3, adored Far Cry 5 and I’m currently playing through Far Cry 4 for the first time. They’re all essentially the same, let’s be honest. I can wait for this one, at 60% off and £15.19, this is still a little too steep. I’ve also still got Far Cry 2 and Primal to get through.
Eastshade. This isn’t my usual cup of tea, as you’ve probably guessed from the constant mention of FPS games on this blog. I’m a recovering FPS junkie OK, I’m getting there… Eastshade and other walking simulators are something I’ve taken a fancy to over the years, thanks to titles such as Firewatch. Eastshade, Kim off of Later Levels tells me, is worth a play, there’s zero combat and its all about painting what you see, which is all beautiful. Is it worth 50% off at £9.74 though? Sorry, but nope.
Chuchel. This looks bananas, I’ve had this on my wish-list for a while, a comedy adventure game from Amanita Design. I saw Kim and Pete playing another title from this developer during the 50-day challenge for Special Effect earlier this year, I forget which title it was, but it was hilarious to watch. Can I see myself playing this any time soon, even for 70% off at £2.39? No, I just can’t!
Costume Quest 1 & 2. This was recommended as a purchase by Gaming Diaries during one of her streams, I forget why it was mentioned in the first place, but it looks great. Double Fine productions have quite the pedigree too, this Halloween themed role-playing game won me over with its art style and the fact that you can apparently collect a bunch of costumes! Sign me up, just not yet because it’s nowhere near Halloween.
Dead Space 3. This is an interesting one. EA has recently started releasing some of their back catalogue on Steam once again, after many years of trying to exclusively push Origin as its own thing. I guess that isn’t working out as well as they’d thought it would? In the wake of Epic Games’ dodgy exclusives practice last year, EA announced they’d be doing this, sure enough, we can now buy the likes of Sims 4 on Steam. Well, I never.
As for Dead Space, I started streaming the first game a while back, so I’ve just picked up Dead Space 2. A measly £8.99, 50% off the usual price, but hang on, how old is this game? Are you having a laugh EA/Steam?
There’s every chance I might play this, however, because I’ve been really enjoying the first game, so I might stream 2 and 3 immediately after. Will I get there before the inevitable winter sale? Probably. I’m also interested in how EA is managing integration with Steam. I think this might be my first actual purchase so far.
I could go through my entire wish-list here, but I’ll stop!
Sod it, I think Dead Space 3 might be my only purchase throughout the entire sale because it’s the only game I feel likely to play before the next sale.
Everything else I can talk myself out of, either because I don’t think I’ll get round to it soon enough, doesn’t offer a high enough discount etc.
Even the games that are super cheap, once added together, I start convincing myself I don’t need to spend £10 on games I won’t play, then the basket gets emptied once again. I also don’t need to jump into the sale straight away either, those impulse purchases are the killer, the sale is on until 9th July, I’ll hang on for now.
It doesn’t help having just dropped £52 on The Last of Us Part II either, because I don’t usually buy games on release day, but I had to make an exception there.
It all started with a conversation one evening with Phil from Later Levels. “What is the appeal with trophy hunting?” I asked. The answers came thick and fast, but the one which sticks in my mind the most is “I would never have played these games as much I have if it weren’t for the trophies.”
I like to get my monies worth too, but killing a hundred virtual pigeons? Picking up 100 pieces of paper in an open world map? Hmm. Sounds like busywork.
Then the subject cropped up time and again, with Solarayo from Ace Asunder also showing us the light. Let’s just say, she’s got a few trophies of her own…
It was becoming such a hot topic, Later Levels dedicated a Save Point chat show topic to trophy and achievement hunting, which was a great stream if you missed it. Fair warning though, there was also lots of talk about roast potatoes haha.
What is a platinum trophy?
Trophies on PlayStation are awarded for doing stuff in a game, like completing a chapter, eliminating a certain number of enemies. It’s really up to the developer.
A platinum trophy is awarded when you’ve earned all of the other trophies in a game.
Many other platforms have similar systems by different names, such as Achievements on Xbox or Steam.
There was one thing about Spider-Man that made me do all of these things above, going for that coveted first platinum trophy, despite a lifelong ignorance and disinterest in the pursuit; it seemed entirely possible.
Play the game and get rewarded
Studying the requirements and matching them against my experience of the game, I believed it was possible without much deviation from enjoying the game a second time around.
There’s no multiplayer, so no problem having to rely on randoms. No over-the-top requirement to collect 100 bits of paper or some other trinket, the numbers were sensible and the targets all easily reachable. The only real stumbling block, the ultimate difficulty. Would I be able to see that through to the end?
Don’t be so difficult!
I seldom play video games on the hardest difficulty available, I usually go mid-range or straight in for easy. There’s no shame as far as I’m concerned, there’s also a big reason for that, which is time.
I don’t have as much time available as I used to for playing video games, real-life and all that, it sort of gets in the way, so I consider my time valuable for this hobby. I can manage the harder difficulties, depending on the game, I just choose not to unless I really want to be challenged and have the time and patience for it.
So I practised Ultimate difficulty a little, without much bother, then set about my journey towards those final two trophies, believing it was all possible. That shiny platinum trophy would be mine.
Relying heavily on the gadgets available in the game, as well as the haphazard fighting style I’d developed throughout my first playthrough, I settled into a groove that served me well, until the last enemy faction was introduced.
Those guys are heavily armoured and shoot you, a lot, with rockets and snipers. They were quite challenging at times, but after a bit of practice again off-stream, I ploughed through the remainder of the game.
By the end, I was very much doing it for the trophies, I was ready to move on and replay the game some other time, likely shortly before Spider-Man 2 comes along.
How can I get into this too?
Marvel’s Spider-Man is an excellent choice for your first platinum trophy in my opinion, or “easy” platinum if you’re a seasoned professional like Phil and Solarayo.
Ultimate difficulty is not as difficult as the name suggests, by the time you reach New Game+, you’ve likely unlocked everything you’ll need to tackle the game on that difficulty, which is to say all of the suits and gadgets. You’ll need them, trust me!
I would suggest using PSN Profiles to look at your own profile and find something you’ll enjoy investing that time and effort into. Don’t bother trying to navigate the PlayStation user interface, it will take too long for this 😀
Does this make me a trophy/achievement hunter?
I’m not sure it does, in the traditional sense. I’ve never gone out of my way to get the platinum in any of the games I own, nor do I have any intention of doing that.
I was burned by Valve having achieved 100% completion of Left 4 Dead when they released DLC with multiplayer trophies, which I was just never going to get. Since then, I’ve never really bothered.
But there is a certain sense of satisfaction from seeing 100% against the game…
Which game is next then?
OK, you’ve got me despite what I said before, I’m already looking for my next platinum trophy. Research suggests I’m not a million miles away from the platinum in Horizon Zero Dawn, after one playthrough two years ago. I skipped the hunting lodge stuff and there’s a quest line I can replay without doing the whole game.
With the PS5 close and HZD2 probably on the way in the next couple of years, I think this is one I’m going to try and tick off the list.
I’ve also pumped so many hours into Borderlands 2 I feel like I should invest some more time and effort into getting all the achievements on that too if I can. We’ll see!
In summary, I wouldn’t call myself a trophy/achievement hunter, but I am definitely paying more attention to them now than I was previously.
How do you feel about trophies and achievements? Is there a platinum trophy or an achievement you’re especially proud of? Let me know in the comments.
Update: I screwed up when I was writing the post, NG+ and Ultimate difficulty aren’t requirements for the platinum trophy in Spider-Man. At the time, I was just trying to get all possible trophies available, which I managed to do by the end of the NG+Ult playthrough!
Scrolling through the WordPress Reader one evening, I stumbled on a post from A Geek Girl’s Guide: Have You Ever? Gaming Edition. I’ve since seen these popping up in a few other places.
Normally I don’t partake in these things, but this one looked like a bit of fun. Without further ado, have you ever…
Rage quit a game
I’m ashamed to admit this, but yes. Once or twice I’ve been known to drop out of Left 4 Dead 2, or back in the day, Counter-Strike. I don’t really play either game these days and I’m generally much more chilled in life. If something isn’t fun, I don’t continue, or start in the first place. I definitely don’t rage about it, there’s better ways to spend your energy 😉
More recently, Overwatch has been rage quit because of the stupid loot boxes.
Earned all achievements in a game
I have definitely done this, only to have it taken away from me by the release of free updates or DLC! Left 4 Dead might have been the first, only to have multiplayer achievements I have no hope of acquiring, so it put me off the whole pursuit, until recently…
Most definitely, although it depends what you class as an all-nighter! I’ve routinely stayed up until 3-4am over the years, although less so recently, as I’m getting old and sleep is more precious. With an almost two year old sprog around, a year or so ago there were definitely some sleepless nights of Overwatch. Bless him though, he sleeps from 7.30pm until 7.30am these days, so I can’t use him as an excuse. Also, he wakes me up at 7.30am.
I stayed up until 6am once, playing NHL 98 (the demo) with my sister, sharing a keyboard and mouse.
Livestreamed your gaming
This is something I was hoping to do since the inception of the blog, but more so around January and February this year, when I was in the throws of home ownership, DIY and watching Later Levels do their 50 day challenge for Special Effect. Going from 2.5Mbps to 350Mbps broadband also didn’t hurt.
Once things settled down with the house purchase, I started dipping my toe in to Twitch streaming. Now, with the whole lockdown thing, there has been a great deal of Twitch watching and broadcasting going on in this house, to pass the time!
I generally avoid doing this, I think it’s a little shady, mostly because the pre-order bonuses dangled in front of you are often found for free or extremely cheap later on. That said, I have been known to pre-order a few games, most recently, Borderlands 3 on the Xbox.
Bought a game and never played it
What sort of passive-aggressive question is this?! I mean, the answer is most definitely yes haha. What gamer isn’t guilty of this one? I don’t even want to put a number on it, because its in triple figures.
GOG Galaxy tells me I’m the owner of around 450 games across multiple platforms. Most of those are un-played, but 2020 is the year of the backlog for sure!
Games on the list include Max Payne 3, the Batman Arkham series, the Call of Juarez series, Dead Island, F.E.A.R. 2 & 3, the Just Cause series, Mad Max, the Overlord series, Remember Me, Sleeping Dogs… I could go on, but you get the point.
Been jump-scared by a horror game
Horror games aren’t really something that appeal to me, so I don’t tend to pick them up, I’ve definitely had a few jump scares over the years, as well as chills down the spine.
Most notably was playing F.E.A.R. back when it released, in my dark living room with 5.1 speakers and not a soul in the house but my own. That first time you “see something” straight up scared the !@# out of me.
Jump scares have to go to Doom 3 though, really obvious and stupid ones. Forcing you to use a gun or a flashlight? Sod that, I just never finished it.
Had a set squad for a specific game
Back in the day a group of close friends were brought together by Counter-Strike and moreso by Left 4 Dead. Around that time we started doing LAN parties as well. Left 4 Dead 2 followed pretty quickly so we routinely played that together.
These days the same group still plays Counter-Strike, but I’ve long since given that up, I was never any good and it just fills me with rage! I’ve pretty much given up Overwatch for the same reasons. These days, I’m mostly single-player focused, but the better broadband has started to change that.
You’ll see me playing with Pete, Phil and sometimes Ben from Later Levels on their Twitch channel on a Wednesday evening.
Bought a game on multiple platforms
Sadly I have to admit to this, because it has become something of a habit, although I try and keep it under control.
I think it started with Grand Theft Auto V, which I purchased at release on PS3. I then purchased it again on Xbox One for the 1080p goodness, then again on PC (after a long delayed upgrade) for the 60fps and multiplayer goodness!
Yeah for sure, I picked up a PS3 back in 2011 in anticipation of The Last of Us and GTA V, then twiddled my thumbs while waiting for those to come out. Playing Blu-rays (the main reason I picked the PS3 over Xbox 360) and some pre-owned rubbish for a couple years.
I own a PS4 today for similar reasons, I wanted to play Horizon Zero Dawn and some other PlayStation exclusives like The Last of Us Part 2, God of War, Spider-Man.
Amusingly, some of those are now coming to PC, or are there already!? Not sure what is happening, but if The Last of Us Part 2 were to ever come to PC or Xbox, I just wouldn’t need a PlayStation in my life.
We’re all done!
If you’d like to take part in this, copy the following headings into a blog post of your very own! I won’t be tagging anyone either 😉
Rage quit a game Earned all achievements in a game Pulled an all-nighter gaming Livestreamed your gaming Pre-ordered a game Bought a game and never played it Been jumpscared by a horror game Had a set squad for a specific game Bought a game on multiple platforms Got a console for the games specifically
I’ve been wrestling with this for a while. After my failed attempts to use the wife as a thinly veiled excuse to just buy one (she’s not interested), I keep torturing myself over this one. Should I buy a Nintendo Switch?
First world problems, I know, but I just can’t seem to make this decision. The lure is strong, but I don’t know why. I guess I just love gadgets. This house is not short of games or consoles, with a PC, Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 on the go. In these uncertain times, I’m still trying to be frugal as well.
In my entire life, I’ve personally owned a single Nintendo console, the NES, well into its lifecycle on the market. A gift from the mother ship, with a single game, Super Mario 3, now widely considered a classic. If I finished that game, she proclaimed, I could have another. I never finished it, deep down I think she knew that would be the case.
The neighbour kid had a NES too, once or twice we played together on his console, he had way more games, but I was becoming less interested in traditional video games and consoles.
Some of my friends at school had these things called personal computers, or PCs for short. They had games too. Within a couple years, we had a PC, a couple more later, I acquired the internet for myself. The next 14 years were spent 100% on PC, until the acquisition of a PS3 in 2011.
These days, I’m firmly in the camp of “gamer” rather than PC elitist, or console war fanboy. I love games, I just couldn’t give a monkeys what platform they’re on, as long as I can play them. If I could own and use just a single platform to play all the games I’m interested in, including with my friends, that would be ideal. Sadly, cross-play and cross-save is still in its infancy, but hopefully one day, we can all play together in harmony.
If I want to play Nintendo exclusive games, I’d have to buy a Nintendo console. As is the case with Sony exclusives, otherwise I wouldn’t bother owning a PS4. The thing is, I’m not really interested in any Nintendo exclusive games, that I’m aware of.
This is probably because I’ve never been exposed to many of the franchises Nintendo players hold so dear. There’s no desire to play a Zelda game, Pokémon, Mario or anything else I can think of.
What I am interested in, is the portability of the Switch. Being able to play console quality games on the go is a big draw for me. Commute, lunch times, car rides. That spare 15 minutes you might find yourself with. Many of the Switch owners I’ve spoken to have touted this as the biggest benefit for them too, rarely using the console in docked mode as a result. In fact Nintendo have launched the Switch Lite, intended for handheld use only.
I’m also interested in developers and publishers taking this Nintendo console seriously. Generally speaking, they may have been guilty of ignoring Nintendo consoles in the past, due to them being perceived by many as under powered, or consoles for kids. This doesn’t seem to be the case with the Switch.
I’ve seen Bethesda release Doom and Wolfenstein games, CD Projekt Red have even released a Switch version of The Witcher 3 for crying out loud! The Outer Worlds, which I adored on the Xbox, also recently had a Switch version announced.
The graphical downgrades in many of these Switch versions are something to behold, but who cares, if you can play those sorts of games on the go?
The one thing stopping me from buying a Switch. Streaming console quality graphics with low latency over mobile is coming, no really. Google’s Stadia, released far too early, has been ridiculed, but this is not meant to replace your powerful hardware at home. For some, maybe it can, but this is just another option.
I’ve tried the Microsoft Project xCloud beta, to varying degrees of success, but so far I’ve been impressed.
From my desk at the office, with decent 4G signal, I’ve been able to play various titles such as Forza Horizon 4 and Borderlands 2, with little or no latency and graphical issues. This is on a Nokia 8, a two year old phone, with an £8 clip and one of my Xbox controllers over Bluetooth.
Supporting technology such as 5G is rolling out, newer phones are obviously already available. The internet in my own home is better than ever, in the not too distant future, I will be able to stream the games I want to a device I carry around in my pocket already, with minimal latency, either from my own console or from Microsoft’s cloud servers. So why would I buy a Switch?
My almost 2 year old son will obviously be a gamer, at some point. I’ve already told his mother to accept this. He’s going to see me playing video games, his future school friends will probably play too. This is mainstream entertainment now folks, like it or not.
I feel a duty to give the heir of my estate the video game education I never had, because my parents couldn’t particularly afford it and because I wasn’t overly interested at the time.
Don’t get me wrong, I will still kick a ball around with him and whatnot, if he’s interested in all of that, I certainly was, but I think Nintendo is the right way to go for a brand new gamer of a certain age. Also should prepare for the fact he might have other interests, of course!
I failed using the wife as an excuse then, but perhaps I can get away with using my son as an excuse?! If I purchased him one now, he’d just put it in his mouth and chomp down on it, so perhaps not quite yet, but I reckon I’m sold on this basis. Sod it then, gives me plenty of time to save I guess 🙂
What games on a Switch would be suitable for 3-4 year old? What has your relationship with Nintendo been over the years? Do you own a Switch and want to fanboy/girl about it? Let me know in the comments!
Ah well, I did it again, many months has passed by since I last wrote something. At this point, there’s no sense in even apologising any more, this is just business as usual 🙂
What is my excuse for being absent this time you may wonder? Well after all the stuff that happened previously, then changing jobs and potentially going to court, because my previous employer overpaid me, all of that was not enough stress and time sinking for me.
I decided to buy a house and move again at the end of last year, instead of continuing to rent. I think the total is now 10 moves in as many years. Given the political unrest and the state of my bank balance at the time, this was definitely the right decision. My rent was £900 a month, my mortgage is £600 a month, fixed for the next five years!
We can’t avoid the elephant in the room either. This post was originally written for some time around Valentines Day, a good six weeks ago itself now. Since that time, well, the whole world has collectively lost its !@#% while we fight off a global pandemic. Never in my life has the UK government ordered me to stay in my home, sent me text messages etc. Real life is like a movie right now. Maybe watching all those zombie films over the years was a bad idea.
Enough about all that!
Later Levels was doing #LoveYourBacklog week again this year, which I didn’t have time to whip something up for, I’m not sure I’ll be able to get involved with #MaybeInMarch either. Stay tuned though, there’s news coming about other community developments coming soon. Something I’m quite excited about and sort of responsible for kicking off.
I’m going to write here about something else I love instead though, video game related of course, several weeks after it was relevant 🙂
I love a good video game trailer. I’m referring to the kind of video game trailer which gets you hyped for a game before release, something which stirs up the anticipation you feel when the date is finally announced, or maybe its the first time you’ve seen gameplay at all, the graphics, a bit of story or all of those things.
I’m also referring to the kind of trailer which lives on way beyond the release of the game. Maybe even long after you’ve finished or even played, but you can’t help revisiting the trailer once in a while, to rekindle your love for the game.
Here’s a few trailers I personally love and still watch, when I have a few minutes to spare. They’re heavily weighted towards first-person shooters or action games, because my indie education continues. Also, action makes for the best trailers in my opinion!
Do you still go back and watch old video game trailers, or am I in a minority here? Judging by the YouTube comments in a lot of them, people do still go back when the game is relevant again for whatever reason. Good old nostalgia!
If you have any favourites, I’d love to hear about them in the comments, maybe I’ll even discover something new. As you can see above, my own palette is quite limited to pretty much FPS 😀
I’ve tried to remain calm about the Epic Game Store, exclusivity and all that stuff, even though I haven’t felt this strongly about something gaming related, well, ever really. Gaming is supposed to be fun, when it isn’t fun, I tap out. Mostly, I stay out of this kind of thing, but this time, it feels personal.
I get it, competition is a good thing, I don’t have to buy games from Epic. If they’ve secured exclusivity, then I’ll just have to wait(!) to buy it on Steam, if that is my preferred store, which it is for multiple reasons. That’s probably the subject of another post all to itself.
Having seen Metro Exodus, The Outer Worlds and World War Z fall victim to Epic’s Fortnite fortune, I knew eventually they would come for something I truly care about. Something for which, I just cannot wait.
Then it happened, the unthinkable, Gearbox Software announced Borderlands 3. That alone was exciting, but then they simply said it was coming to PC, without talking about specific stores.
Oh dear, I knew there and then I was in trouble. Would Epic really come for my beloved Borderlands?
Surely not, it’s been on Steam from the beginning, they axed the GameSpy integration when that was shut down, retrofitting Steamworks to keep the Borderlands 1 multiplayer alive.
Gearbox started out by making impressive add-ons for the original Half-Life. Would they really turn their backs on Valve and Steam?
Then it hit me, Borderlands runs on Unreal Engine, a heavily modified version admittedly, but there it is, an existing relationship with Epic…
Exclusivity isn’t necessarily Gearbox’s choice
As mentioned by Gearbox’s CEO, Randy Pitchford, Gearbox apparently has no say in where it’s publisher chooses to distribute their game. Gearbox are simply the creative talent; they’re making the thing, 2K sells the thing.
2K/Take Two has exclusive publishing rights for Borderlands 3 and makes all decisions regarding price-points, territories, distribution and platform partnerships. Please direct all inquiries regarding any of those topics to 2K. We are *just* the talent. 1/3
That’s cool Randy. I believe you. He was sure to tweet all of this, and not mention it at all during the games reveal, because he knew what the reaction would be.
Then it was announced, Borderlands 3 is to be an Epic Game Store exclusive on PC.
The newly minted official Borderlands Discord server erupted, moderators were quick to create a new channel called #rant-discussion and filter the conversation into there, but it was impossible to keep up, even with slow mode enabled.
Hundreds of people were venting their frustration with tens of thousands probably looking on, some in agreement, others not.
Twitter and Reddit were a similar cesspit of comments. In the days and weeks since, conversations have taken place, with the Borderlands PC community now divided, as they all come to terms with the exclusivity.
What about consumer choice?
Many people in the community want to play this game as soon as it’s available, so what choices do we have in this case?
Buy the game on the Epic Games Store. 2K would definitely prefer we did this, as they will receive a bigger cut of the profits versus sales on Steam. Will 2K pass on that additional profit to Gearbox? Let’s be clear here, it’s most likely the publisher that’s getting the bigger cut, not the developers as Epic keeps yelling from the rooftops.
Wait for the exclusivity period to end, buy the game on Steam. This is a tough one to swallow, I’m a big story junkie and I need my fix. The ending of Borderlands 2 set up a sequel that is sure to be epic, if you’ll pardon the pun. It’s been 7 years, I need to know, first hand, what happens next!?
Pirate the game when it’s released and buy it on Steam once available. This is not something I condone, at all, nor is it something I’ve ever done; I’ve always legitimately purchased my games. There are others out there who see piracy as simply another method of acquiring games, rather than theft. In many cases, they’ve reduced their reliance on piracy once digital distribution caught up, thanks in no small part to Steam. They won’t touch the Epic Game Store, so they simply move on to the next method of obtaining the game.
Buy the game on console. This is the path I’ve chosen, not because there’s anything particularly egregious about the Epic Game Store itself, or because I prefer to play on console. In the case of Borderlands, I definitely prefer the PC experience.
Why abandon the PC for this game, just because of Epic Game Store exclusivity?
As a consumer, there’s very little I can do to make my voice heard, there’s the old adage though; vote with my wallet.
So that’s what I’ll be doing. Exercising my ability to make a choice, by avoiding the Epic Games Store and purchasing on a completely different platform.
I choose to do this because I draw the line at yet another store application on my PC. I completely disagree with Epic’s strong arm tactics. I resent not having the choice to buy the game on Steam, if that’s what I prefer, that should be my choice to make.
It’s not about just installing another launcher, because there are ways of dealing with all that, Steam works for me and that’s where I prefer to buy my games. I only buy them elsewhere if I absolutely have to, but now, I’m just increasingly finding console gaming more appealing. I wonder, what is the revenue cut for publishers and developers on digital sales from Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, the Nintendo eShop?
In the time since I started writing this post, Epic have been making headlines about developer crunch, as well as purchasing an entire studio, with plans to ultimately moving it’s game off Steam! It seems they’re not content with just purchasing exclusivity rights any more.
Just days before this collaboration went live, an “Epic Mega Sale” was started on the Epic Games Store, but seemingly without warning publishers and developers first, two of which swiftly removed their games from the store, including 2K removing the Borderlands 3 pre-order! What a kerfuffle!
There’s also an interview with Tim Sweeny in this month’s EDGE magazine too, which sheds some light on the plays Epic have been making over the last several months, but my favourite quote is “For a typical game, the store makes more profit than the developers themselves make, and that’s wrong. It’s got to change.”
Well yes, if the store is making 30% and the developers are making less than that from the remaining 70% cut, clearly there is something wrong, but not with the store, because they’re taking the 30% cut and they’re done. What is happening to that 70% then Tim?
Valve has essentially been printing money for the last 15 years, Steam brings in billions of dollars every year. They’ve probably got enough money in the bank to ride this out and not doing a thing, while Epic trips over itself to look like the good guy, but simultaneously driving customers away. You know, customers, the people who actually buy the games they give a bigger cut to the publishers for. Lets gloss over the idea digital distribution, even with that fabled 70/30 split, represents better profit than traditional retail, because it cuts out the middle-man. That’s probably why we all think games should be cheaper and love a good Steam sale in the first place.
All of this has left a bad taste in my mouth, so while my PC gathers dust upstairs, I’ll be training myself on Xbox with Borderlands 2. By September, I’ll be ready for Borderlands 3 with a controller, well away from the PC.
Rumour has it, I’ll be able to cross-play with PC users of the Epic version. Ah cross play, that’s great isn’t it? The freedom and choice to play with friends, regardless of platform… Cheers Tim.
After several years earning more money than we needed, saving a bit, splurging on a wedding, holidays and so on, times are a little more uncertain for the wife and I these days. Adult life has a way of creeping up on you.
One of the most obvious areas we were able to save money immediately was my gaming and technology habits. Here’s a few ways I’ve adjusted my spending to continue funding this hobby of mine.
The waiting game
Gone are the days of buying new games as they are released, not that I think they’re particularly expensive, considering how many hours of entertainment can be had from most titles these days.
The simple fact is, they’re often available much cheaper after only a matter of weeks or months from when they release. Far Cry New Dawn, for example, was available earlier this week for 50% off on Steam, just 6 weeks or so since it was released as a full(ish) priced game.
There will definitely be exceptions to this new rule, of course, if Valve dropped Half-Life 3 on us, or Gearbox gets on with it and finishes Borderlands 3. I will pay crazy amounts of money for those games, to start playing the very second they’re available.
Only buy during sales with maximum discounts
When I can’t resist the temptation to buy something, I’m waiting for the seasonal sales we often see. I’ve purchased most of my games during sales already, but often years before I get around to playing them, if at all!
Now, I’m looking for the heaviest possible discounts. I paid £15 on Steam for Max Payne 3 a number of years ago, but I still haven’t played it. I’ve seen heavier discounts on it since then, I should have waited.
Another terrific site comes in handy here for PC, isthereanydeal.com, which tracks current prices and also shows historic price information across most PC digital store fronts. This allows you to determine if there’s an active sale going on for the title you’re interested in, but also how low the price has been in the past.
When it’s at an all time low, say 90% off, hit the buy button, it’s unlikely to get any cheaper.
I’m not aware of any similar sites for the console stores, but I usually go by active percentages there. Typically things are 50-67% off, so anything at a higher discount is instantly attractive.
Love your backlog
I’m not special when it comes to my own backlog, like most peoples, there’s hundreds of games I already own which I haven’t played, not even for a minute. Last year I resolved to finish more of my backlog and I’ve done OK so far, but now it’s time to hit it hard.
I often use this to determine what game I’m going to tackle next, based on the time I know I’ll have available.
There are console games untouched in my backlog as well, The Last Of Us Remastered, the Nathan Drake Collection, Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Quantum Break and so on. All purchased, all not finished.
Hit the pre-owned stuff
A fat Christmas bonus (from just 8 weeks with a new company) in December 2011 made purchasing a PS3 an easy decision. I partly justified this, and console purchases since, by telling myself I would make use of the pre-owned games market.
I’d get rid of the games I didn’t want any more, pick up new old stuff, offsetting the higher prices of console games compared to my Steam library. No problem I thought. Two things happened.
Firstly, I only purchased one pre-owned video game until yesterday, in 8.5 years of being a console owner. I never traded in any of the games I finished either.
Secondly, the Xbox and PlayStation stores have thankfully gone the same way as Steam in the last few years, offering similarly huge discounts on console games as you can find on the PC. I can now pick up low cost titles on console directly from their digital stores.
There’s still many pre-owned bargains to be had however, I missed many titles prior to 2011 on PS3 and even more of the Xbox back catalogue. I paid a visit to my local CeX yesterday and picked up Killzone 2, for my recently resurrected PS3, for just 50p. They had hundreds of titles and many of them were 50p-£1.50, similar stories for other consoles too. I just didn’t have the time, but I’ll definitely go back and have a proper look at what they have to offer.
Hit the subscription services
If you’re happy to play random stuff, at a fixed cost, subscription services could be the answer.
I’ve dabbled a few times with Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass, £1 for a months trial here and there, two months for £2 during E3 etc. I’ve certainly had my money’s worth. I’m currently on a three month subscription for £12, not as good as previous deals, but 50% off the normal price. This is also plenty of time for me to finally start and finish Halo: The Master Chief Collection and probably finish Forza Horizon 4 as well. Perhaps more.
You can also disable the renewal at any time, dropping in and out as you please, as I’ve done numerous times. Anything you have installed will simply stop working, then start working again once you have an active Game Pass subscription. Anything you have installed via disc that’s on Game Pass will no longer require the disc either!
If you keep an eye out, you can often purchase a 12 month Game Pass subscription at 50% off, usually around Christmas time.
Another way to gain a large number of games for a small amount of money is the Humble Monthly subscription. Some huge titles have been available from this service in the past. You can also gift your unwanted keys to bargain hunting hard up friends.
Keeping up to date wish lists on platforms where this functionality is available will be useful for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, you will get an email from some stores when a game in your wish list goes on sale. In some cases they’re not shy about giving you all the details in the email, so you know straight away whether it’s worth it or not.
Secondly, friends and family can use this list to find something in their price range to purchase and gift to you. My wife is asked for every birthday and Christmas what I would want. Well, just go to the list people!
Grab those freebies
Various stores are giving away games these days, if you’re quick, you can grab games for free.
Epic Games Store are currently giving away a game every two weeks. So far I’ve claimed five games from them, a couple of which were on my Steam wish list. I’ve also nabbed a few via Twitch Prime and about a dozen over the last two years from Humble, often prompted by their mailing list.
Supplies are usually limited, but you don’t generally have to even install the game, just claim and it will be added to the library in question, ready to install another time.
Points mean prizes
This section was added in June 2020
Microsoft Rewards enables you to do quizzes, click links, perform searches and all sorts of similar busy work, which takes a few minutes a day at most, to gain Microsoft Rewards points. Stay with me here…
Although you can exchange those points for vouchers to different retailers or even donate them to specific charities, depending on where you are in the world, I’ve been most interesting in acquiring something gaming related; Xbox Store vouchers.
Its taken 11 weeks of half-arsed attempts to get this far, but I’ve just reached £25 worth of points, in time for my birthday and E3.
Now I could hit this harder all year and get Microsoft Store vouchers instead, put that towards an Xbox Series X. I think you can even cash the points in for something like Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, or at least spend the Xbox Store points on such a thing.
Either way, if you’re a cash strapped teenager, parent to Fortnite beasts etc, this might be worth looking at to help fund your gaming habit on Xbox.
If you create a Microsoft Family, whereby you tell Microsoft which accounts are all part of the same family unit, you can pool your points together by sending them to one another, to get rewarded quicker. This is how I managed to get close to £10 a month so far, as I roped the wife in to help out. I haven’t even been trying that hard.
This is what I’ve managed to come up with so far, I don’t feel like I’m missing out too much, plus it is nice to finally finish games from the backlog! If you have any additional tips or thoughts on the subject, please let me know via the comments.
Question: You wake up the following morning, hungover but happy – you have an entire day of gaming ahead of you.You start thinking back over the video games you played during 2017; what was your game of the year?
Jon: My finger buffet approach to gaming makes this one difficult, and I’m thinking I’m going to cheat here a little bit and say the Witcher series. I’ve been meaning to play them for a while and I’ve just finished 1 and 2 and I’m downloading 3 while I type this. It’s been a while since something has really grabbed me – lore wise – so the Witcher series gets my vote, for reminding me that it’s not a race to devour a game, but an exploration to discover it.
Cat: For pure nostalgia, and hours of joy spent playing it, Sonic Mania.
Chris: Well for me GOTY is easy – Sonic Mania. It managed to pay tribute to the classic (and best) Sonic games on the Mega Drive, without relying purely on nostalgia. It’s a solid Sonic game in it’s own right, you can tell it has been made by people with a genuine love for Sonic. It had my inner child jumping up and down in excitement the moment the opening “Seeeggaaaa!!” intro played, right through to the end credits. The campaign for Streets of Rage Mania starts here!
Dan’s Wife: I loved playing Overcooked but it got difficult… I was obsessed with Piano Tiles on iOS and maxed out the levels!
Claire: Out of all the games to release in 2017, there is only one I could pick as GOTY, which led me to invest in a PlayStation 4.
Horizon Zero Dawn captured me straight away, thanks to my love for archery, but beyond that, I soon learned nothing could get me away from the game. Even since first playing it, other games like Sonic Mania, Cuphead, Life is Strange: Before the Storm and Crash Bandicoot: N Sane Trilogy have come along, but they still wouldn’t be able to reach top of the list.
I was so happy to see DLC released, The Frozen Wilds, to make the experience last just a little bit longer.
The mechanics of the game – open world, completing quests, puzzles, working out how to kill giant machines, it has a good balance between story and not overloading you too much with side quests. Working out how to kill the “boss” machines joyfully threw me back to working out how to take down the colossi in Shadow of the Colossus.
The graphics also make you feel like you are there in the world, on top of that, you can also have fun in photo mode…
Shoot for the moon
Unravelling the secrets of the game world, you learn it is closer to our own than you first think, but unfortunately, I cannot reveal why I love Horizon’s story without spoiling it for you 🙂
Overall, Horizon Zero Dawn is just the perfect balance, in my opinion, in all aspects of gaming. It feels like something truly original.
Dan: My game of the year for 2017, which released in that year… it would have to be Prey. It was such a great experience, I’m looking forward to revisiting it; 30 hours of BioShock and Half-Life smooshed together, I loved it.
If we’re talking about favourite game played during the year, I’d have to say Fallout 4. I put this series off for a long time, having seen my brother in law play Fallout 3 many years ago. Was this something I’d be interested in?
Eventually I caved during a Steam sale. To begin with, I had many issues with the game crashing, performance, losing progress because it doesn’t auto save very often and so on. I strayed too far too soon around the map, and was punished for it, not really knowing how the levelling and progression worked.
I just fell in love with it, then the research started, how can I get this game to run better, save more frequently, how can I mod it, how does the levelling actually work, the settlement building looks cool, I can mod the weapons, armour? Oh and build robots?
Before you know it, 300 hours has been invested and I’ve had an absolute blast. Think of all the games I could have finished with that 300 hours! Who cares, I love the wasteland!
Woop: I struggled to think of a game that was released this year that I would consider my game of the year. The only one that sprang to mind was PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, but with all the bugs, controversy and the fact it was only just released (fully) by the end of the year, I felt it probably didn’t deserve the title – maybe for 2018.
So I have decided the award, for me, goes to a game that was released in 2016 (almost 2017!). Planet Coaster is up there with my all time favourite theme park builder sims. I may even go so far as to say it has surpassed Rollercoaster Tycoon 2… I haven’t had chance to play it much, but I will definitely be sinking many, many hours into this game as they continue to develop it over the coming year.
Dan: So ends another year, quite a good one for gaming, in my opinion, some great titles chosen there! I’d like to namedrop a few others, which didn’t make the cut for me, but I’ve been asking todays question of many people, out of curiosity more than anything.
Ghost Recon Wildlands – Three of my colleagues surprised me in picking this one, I thoroughly enjoyed it, I’ve also been forced into playing “Expert” mode and I’m still enjoying it
Grand Theft Auto Online – I wasn’t surprised by this persons choice, as he hasn’t played much else all year, but he has a good point. Rockstar have consistently released some great (and free) DLC for about 18 months now, continuing to milk the cow…
Nier:Automata – I haven’t played this myself, but I’ve wishlisted it for the PlayStation 4, it’s been very well received and is highly rated, it does look worthy…
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds – Another popular choice at work and in the wider world, breaking more concurrent user records on Steam over the festive period. For me, a bit too unfinished, even leaving Early Access in December, but I’ll keep dipping into it over the coming months…
I’d like to thank everyone on the team, friends and family too, and everyone else out there for taking part in Creative Christmas. Huge thanks, however, must go to Kim from Later Levels, for organising this event in the first place, so thank you Kim!
Also, 2017 was the humble beginning of nowisgames.com, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you all for reading, following, liking and commenting on our musings.
It’s been so much fun working on the site, but more importantly, seeing what everyone else is up to and reading some truly great and original work out there, which is a nice change of pace from the big name sites.
Happy New Year to you, from all of us, here’s to a great 2018!