The Post Explaining Where We’ve Been

Ok, so it’s been a while. I did that typical thing of explaining why things had gone quiet, then things went really quiet without any explanation for almost a year.

The truth is, although we stopped blogging, we didn’t stop playing games.

What is your excuse then huh?

My wife and I found out in early November 2017 we were expecting (unexpectedly) our first child in July last year. By March 2018, July didn’t seem too far away, there were still so many games on my list I wanted to play, before the inevitable adulthood kicked in. Far Cry 3, Far Cry 5, Forza Horizon 2, State of Decay 2 all polished off. July came and went very quickly, then after 11 days past the due date, our little bundle of joy arrived. Talk about having your life turned upside down…

Something which has surprised me, is just how much I have enjoyed becoming a parent, having despised other peoples children for years, it turns out I love my own very much. That’s biology I guess!

Then Christmas came, some work stuff, illness, all sorts, and here we are in March 2019, save for one post in between, not much has been going on around here.

I find myself having the “time” (whatever that word means any more) to blog once again, now the sprog is a little older. WordPress hosting is up for renewal, so a decision had to be made. I have chosen to carry on, because I also realised, writing is something I enjoy, so why not continue? I will probably be migrating the hosting at some point though, to something cheaper.

Since I started putting this post together in October last year (no, really), there’s been a further development. My employer of 4 years agreed to let me work from home permanently, rather than head office. We have now moved half way across the country (to the Bristol area) to be closer to my wife’s family. Free babysitters! Result.

As for the others…

Woop has started working full time in a 9-5, after a number of years being self employed, so we’re unlikely to see much from her. She is juggling many things in real life now.

Jon has changed jobs (twice) and is in high demand, he’s also started blogging again on geeklish.co.uk; I guess the writing bug got to him in the end 😉

Hopefully I can convince folks to join me at various points. The Creative Christmas posts were some of my favourites in the short history of nowisgames.com, it has also amused me greatly they’ve been on the front page all this time. I had so many conversations about games with people putting those posts together, it reminded me what this blogging stuff is all about, for me at least 🙂

I don’t know what I’ll have to say, or when I will say it, but this will be the place it happens. I will continue to lurk on Twitter and in the comment section of lots of WordPress gaming blogs. I’ll post here when the urge strikes, when I’m not playing something of course.

So whatcha playing?!

At the moment, I’m heavily into Fallout 4 again, having picked up the Game of the Year Edition on a second platform, the Xbox One X, after almost 500 hours on PC. As amusing as it is using mods and building a robot/synth army on PC, I’ve been wanting to do an “idiot” character for a while, without mods, to get some achievements in the bag. With the child upstairs sleeping, it’s downstairs on the console and TV for me to get some gaming in. Boy does it look sweet in 4K.

I’ve finally finished Killzone Shadow Fall, giving the PS4 Pro some much needed attention. My first foray into a Killzone game, I have to say it was pretty good, even though I was terrible at it most of the time. I will probably hunt some of the older titles down and fire up the PS3.

For now, it’s back to Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, which runs like arse on my PC for some reason, so the PS4 Pro feels the love once more. Reportedly quite short, once that’s dusted off, I’ve got three months of Xbox Game Pass to squeeze in Halo: The Master Chief Collection, which I’ve been wanting to play for years. Now that I finally don’t feel the rage playing an FPS with a controller, the time is right.

At some point, I will try and write some words, so thanks for stopping by!

Strategy Guide Publisher Prima Games To Close (Apparently)

Sad news today, so sad in fact I’m breaking 9 months of silence! More on that later.

Prima Games is reportedly closing doors as of next year, due to “challenging market conditions” in recent times, as reported by various news outlets. Eurogamer is where I read about it first, they’re linking to Publisher Weekly where the news originates. The echo chamber is now in full force, here I am adding to it! At the time of writing my own post about this, I can’t find any official statement from Prima Games, Penguin Random House and so on.

With the rise of the internet, YouTube and places like gamefaqs, this is not really surprising.

In the last few years, I’ve developed a habit of spending more money on strategy guides, art books and general tat for video games, than on the actual video games. Er £20 for a strategy guide, no problem! Hmm £40 for the game WHAT!? I’ll wait until its £3.75 in the Steam Sale…

Magazine subscriptions have also become something of a guilty pleasure of mine. Edge magazine in particular shines and is a very high quality publication. By the time they arrive on my doorstep, they’re already out of date, despite having just been printed.

Its only a matter of time before there’s nothing left to subscribe to and we’re all left swimming in the quagmire that is online media. Enjoy accepting those cookie consents and dismissing full screen ads!

Steam Autumn Sale 2017 is now live! [Expired]

Ahhh the bargains are back! That is all, off you go now, purchase some games!

  • DiRT franchise is up to 80% off
  • Fallout franchise is up to 75% off (Fallout 4 is 50% off though)
  • What Remains of Edith Finch is 33% off, been wanting to pick this up for a while
  • Planet Coaster is discounted more than ever at 55% off, it’s almost rude not to
  • Tacoma looks interesting, if only because it reminds me (visually) of PREY
  • Warhammer End Times: Vermintide, which we’ve been playing as a group recently, is 75% off, this is Left 4 Dead with rats basically
  • Just Cause 3 is 85% off and the first and second game can be picked up for less than the price of a multipack of crisps
  • Alternatively there’s the EIDOS bundle, which is a whopping 89% off bringing over £600 worth of games down to £64.70
  • Stardew Valley, which a few of the team here enjoy, is 33% off, multiplayer is coming, at some point

We’ll update this post as we explore the sale, Steam is holding up for now but a few links have been slow to load at times.

Half-Life “Epistle 3” game jam gives us hope

Remember several weeks ago when former Valve writer Mark Laidlaw leaked a plot synopsis for “Epistle 3” with gender swapped characters?

It felt like closure, but deep down, we still want Half-Life 3, or Half-Life 2: Episode 3, or just any game to give us some real closure, right? We don’t care about the name!

On the back of Laidlaw’s disclosure of his vision for the plot, a game jam is being hosted over on itch.io, inviting anyone to make Epistle 3, using Laidlaw’s plot synopsis as the foundation.

There’s no restriction on genre or art style, creators are invited to go wild. A number of first-person shooters are in there, mostly using the Unreal 4 engine, but at least one is based on Unity.

Buried within these entries could be “the one”

The good news? This game jam has been going on since August and ends on October 31st, so it’s almost over. This means, I’m hoping, at least one of the current fifteen entries will deliver something promising by the end of it. I think it’s safe to assume Valve will never make the game, but maybe someone else can.

The Crowbar Collective are doing a great job recreating the original Half-Life in the Source engine, Black Mesa is not finished after over 10 years, but what’s available so far is excellent. They’re working on the final “Xen” alien chapters, which were notoriously bad in the original. The current claim for that is December as a “do-or-die” deadline.

What’s the longest you’ve waited for a game to be released? Are you still holding out for something, or have you aged significantly and given up?

Weekend gaming deals, there’s a few! [Expired]

These links are only good for the time frames mentioned, also, they likely only apply to the UK or EU.

The Witcher

All of The Witcher series is on sale on multiple distribution platforms. It’s the 10 year anniversary of the franchise, Rock Paper Shotgun have summarised the prices nicely, so I won’t bother to repeat it all. I believe you’ll also find them on the Xbox and PlayStation Stores discounted too. This is a very good time to pick up these titles.

Steam

  • After a Steam Link, so you can play PC games on your TV? This is an interesting bundle for £7.09, the likes of which I don’t recall seeing before. A discounted game called ICEY, bundled with a Steam Link that is 98% discounted, making the Steam Link £0.80. What? They get you on the shipping though, which is £7.40. Crafty…
  • Weekend sale on the Fallout franchise, if you haven’t jumped in yet, what are you waiting for? I put it off for almost 10 years and regret it now, I’ve got a lot of catching up to do! (Offer ends Monday at 10am Pacific Time)
  • Weekend sale on Codemasters titles, driving fans rejoice! But hey what is this? Unlike the usual Codemasters sales on Steam (so DIRT), there’s some other stuff heavily discounted this weekend I’ve never heard of. Toybox Turbos, Overlord? Sold! (Offer ends Monday at 10am Pacific Time)

News has also reached the internets this evening, originally via Reddit, of the upcoming dates for Steam’s Halloween, Black Friday and Winter Sales. It appears the original source has been removed, but Eurogamer claims to have corroborated said source. I always take this stuff with a pinch of salt. My wallet is ready Valve.

Xbox Store

  • Fallout 4 is also on sale here, good work Microsoft on the busted links taking me to and from the US store! I lost my patience with this so I gave up looking for anything else…

PlayStation Store

There’s so much going on here, including 27% off Destiny 2 and a Halloween sale. Daniel New over at Thumbsticks.com summarises it all beautifully.

Humble Store

Green Man Gaming

I’ve used this site a few times to get games cheaper than anywhere else. Their current VIP deals (which you can access by creating a free account) are pretty interesting, they’re offering discount vouchers for select sale titles and preorders. It’s often a bit of work faffing around with the codes, but you can usually get a worthy discount.

Square Enix

Square Enix have apparently re-launched their store, so they’ve decided to have a sale to celebrate. There’s some good bargains to be had here, in particular Just Cause 3 XL, and Rise of the Tomb Raider but that’s just scratching the surface really. They’ve got a whole bunch of gaming merchandise on offer too, so if that’s your cup of tea, head over there and take a look!

If there’s anything I’ve missed or any of these links are broken, feel free to let me know in the comments, otherwise I’m off to spend some money and play some games!

Plot For Next Half-Life Game Leaked By Series Writer

Marc Laidlaw, former writer for Valve Software and scribe behind the Half-Life games, cheekily released the plot for the unreleased/made/announced game Half-Life 2: Episode 2/Half-Life 3.

You might be able to read his original post on his site here, which was struggling earlier, alternatively there’s a copy up on Pastebin with the amusing name/gender swaps replaced to their more well known counterparts.

It’s quite a read; using that thing I have called an “imagination” I feel like I played a Half-Life game today, one that I’ve never played before, it’s all quite sudden. I don’t know how I feel about it.

The internet is going understandably crazy about this, with many saying RIP Half-Life 3, feeling the game will definitely never be made now. It reads to me like the end of the episodes and Half-Life 2 story arc, setting up another full sequel which we’ll probably never get either.

I’ve long since given up waiting for Valve to finish or even continue this series, having moved on to titles such as Borderlands, but I have to admit, reading this did make me nostalgic for the games of my youth.

Modding teams, it’s over to you; there’s the plot, you have the technology, make it happen. I doubt Valve ever will.

Hitting Reset On No Man’s Sky

I was there with files preloaded, ready and raring to go, like a couple hundred thousand people, the day No Man’s Sky launched in 2016. That number surprised me, it surprised Hello Games too.

It became obvious fairly quickly there were issues with the game, particularly with that many people playing on day one concurrently; for me, it was mostly performance issues, even with a decent new PC I’d built a couple months earlier.

For the first few days, it was unplayable, the frame rate was unpredictable, it was giving me headaches. I was in denial, I wanted to love this game, I was ready for it to be the one. It was not the one.

After several weeks of trying new nVidia drivers, patches from Hello Games, tweaks from the community, about 14 hours in, I quit, it just wasn’t working for me, on any level, not just technically.

nms-vehicle
Vehicles for mining and exploring, just one of the post launch additions

Hello Games on the other hand, they have not given up on their creation, far from it.

Despite the continued avalanche of abuse they’ve faced since the game was released, they’ve been listening to their community, adding features, fixing bugs. Business as usual.

Here we are, a full twelve months down the line, a third major update has been released to coincide with the 1 year anniversary of the original release. It’s a pretty substantial update in its own right, but here’s a slice of what has changed across three major updates.

  • New game modes (Normal, Creative, Survival)
  • Base building, farming, deploying equipment in the field
  • Purchase freighters
  • Online base sharing, owning multiple ships
  • Numerous graphical enhancements, including high resolution textures, PS4 Pro support
  • Land vehicles, permadeath, photo mode
  • Procedural mission system, 30 hours of additional story content
  • Improvements to planetary biome variety and visual quality, new rare exotic planet types
  • Crashed freighters, terrain editing, portals, low flight, improved space combat
  • Joint exploration, wait what?

OK, now that is interesting. Multiplayer has always been a sore point with this game, many people believe it was promised but not delivered.

Personally I don’t remember either way, but I didn’t buy it for a co-op experience, although I would gladly try it.

Visualised by strange floating orbs, up to 16 players can see and communicate with one another, and explore the universe together.

While interaction with others is currently very limited, this is an important first step into the world of synchronous co-op in No Man’s Sky.

All of this, along with the passing of twelve months, has made me think, “Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to start again?”

So start again I shall, heck, they even “reset the universe” for one of the patches, so I’m sure I can bring myself to start a new save and try to love this ugly duckling one more time.

Dying Light Gains Some New Content

We’ve been playing Dying Light: The Following for a number of months, on and off, after a group of four of us formed by accident. Frustrations with the matchmaking and other technical issues aside, we’ve all had a blast with it.

After around 30 hours of play, we just don’t feel like we’re even close to being finished with this game. Almost 3 years on, it seems around 500k other players aren’t finished either, according to Techland; this is the number of players still active every week, to this day.

Good news then, as Techland have released the first (labelled #0) of what will now be 11 content releases in total, over the next 12 months. They’re calling this 10-in-12.

On the surface, this looks like a reskin of an existing enemy and weapon, with the usual complaints in the comments on Steam. Techland have made it clear this batch of content is “for the fans” and will be free throughout, which I applaud, so I don’t see what there is to complain about myself.

Maybe we’ll get extra lucky and this will take us through to Dying Light 2?

The Nostalgia Effect

This week, it appears that the Crash Bandicoot Remaster “N.Sane Trilogy” that was released last Friday, has whomped it’s way to the top of the UK Charts for the PlayStation 4. An impressive feat for essentially a game that was first released in 1996 (Yikes – feeling old) but what makes it that little bit more impressive is that it has also become the biggest single format physical release in 2017 for the PS4, just pipping Horizon Zero Dawn. Add to the fact the N.Sane trilogy also boasts the second biggest overall multi format launch this year in the UK VS Ghost Recon Wildlands, a title that was released across multiple formats against Crash’s one.

What’s my point? Basically, the PS4 and myself have never truly been friends. I watched my wife play through “The Last of Us” and I slogged through FFXV with little enjoyment but generally the PS4 is relegated to Netflix Duty. This isn’t the PS4’s fault, it’s just preference since there hasn’t been anything I REALLY wanted to play on the PS4 that I can’t play on PC. This current wave of nostalgia is putting my wallet in jeopardy.

I bought Crash on release day, something I rarely do with games nowadays, probably because the Steam Sales have trained me to be a complete tightwad. But I’m so glad I did since I’m actually using the PS4. However I noticed this had started a worrying trend, not a week before I’d shelled out for “Wipeout- The Omega Collection” based purely on my love for the PS1 version.

This is how my mind remembers the PS1 version

Have the gaming gods been spying on me? Have they discovered my nostalgia based weakness? I fired up my PC and had a quick nosey through my Amazon wishlist…Oh no, I’ve got Micro machines and Sonic Mania on there as well.

Take a look at the SNES Mini that was announced the other day, and how quickly the NES mini became unavailable due to demand massively outstripping the supply. Nostalgia SELLS!

It’s not to say that modern games are no good, quite the contrary some of them are amazing compared to what we had. But those that have grown up with the hobby have fond, if somewhat rose-tinted memories, of these games and we are now the target market due to our disposable income. Nostalgic games are a little bit like 80’s music, a lot of it was absolute trash but the good stuff tends to have survived. Good games get remastered and re-released and tug on those little nostalgia heart strings.

For myself, the PS1 era is when gaming became “acceptable” to the masses, hell the PlayStation even made it cool.

Let’s see if this is a nostalgia wave that will just keep on coming or it’s a bubble waiting to burst…