twitter facebook Instagram googleplus googleplus linkedin Xbox Live foursquare Email RSS

Archive for the ‘Opinions’ Category

Three Video Games I Would Like On Kickstarter

No word of a lie, Kickstarter is fucking dangerous.

If I’m browsing late at night, drunk, I find myself channelling my inner Peter Jones from Dragon’s Den and investing in projects. There doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to the projects I invest in, though it usually depends if I like the concept. For example: a movie about being Ginger? Have a tenner! A film about Nigel McGuinness, one of the greatest wrestlers to ever grace these shores? Here’s 50 notes! Hell a game about random games for the Android? Here you go! Here’s a fiver, let me have a copy!

But the main target of my “investment” are retro franchises that are seeking a new lease of life. Carmageddon was probably the most famous one to get funded, but I’ve contributed to reboots of Elite and Dizzy (the latter didn’t get funded in the end, though ironically one game that remained faithful to the franchise, Spud’s Quest, did). I’ve even did a wee jump for joy when I got a preview of the coffee table book based on artwork from Sensible Software through the post a few weeks ago.

With that said, here’s my three games that – as a seasoned Kickstarter investor – if they ever opened up for funding, I would throw much hard earned cash at.

I’ve tried to keep this list at least reasonable. These three games are games that haven’t had any new games since the PS1/Saturn/N64 era. I’m also trying not to focus on too well known franchises, or games that you can easily play now (basically: Theme Hospital and the Monkey Island series).

Also I’m looking at games that seem viable for consoles, and whose licences aren’t owned by notable dickheads in the industry (so yes, that rules out Killer Instinct – but seriously Rare & Nintendo should patch up their differences to get Killer Instinct 3 out. The public demands it). Finally, I’m trying to get focus on games that would run particularly well on the Xbox Live, PSN and below. So a remake of Final Fantasy 7 with full HD graphics and be on 85 Blu-Rays are out of the question.

streetracer

Street Racer

Right, let’s get one thing straight: Street Racer was the best racing game bar none on the Super Nintendo. Yes, that includes Mario Kart.

Mario Kart is a franchise that in my opinion has improved. The Wii version was absolutely superb, and had a lot of time for the Gamecube version. When people shake their head and say “don’t you like the SNES version? It’s an all time classic!”, I answer “it is, but it is so overshadowed by Street Racer”.

Street Racer is a game similar to Mario Kart. You have a choice of eight characters, each with their own special moves. Without a franchise behind them, the characters were creative and pulled from public fiction. Frank, for example, was a Frankenstein monster, and Suzulu was an African tribal prince. Each driver had their own special moves such as Persian’s prince Hodja’s car becoming a magic carpet, and Raphael’s Ferrari’s horn startling competitors. Pickups were limited to repair kits and nitro boosts, but that aided the game as you relied on skill, rather than the luck of picking up a good item.

In short, there was also no blue shells.

The game managed to balance difficulty without being too affected by rubber banding that plagued Mario Kart. In fact, pulling away and lapping back markers scored you more points, as well as fastest laps and punching people. It may have been more beneficial to scrap it out amongst the pack, rather than race to a multi lap lead. Add on the Royal Rumble mode and a Football game, then you have the greatest racing game on the Super Nintendo.

The series saw a game come out on the Sega Saturn and Playstation, but no other game was to follow. It’s crying out for a Street Racer 2.

Xbox and Playstation struggling with carting games, as Mario Kart has it tied up on the Wii. Even Sonic All Star Racing, whilst good, didn’t quite feel the same. I feel that a Kickstarter project for a new Street Racer game, with added characters, game modes and tracks could really add to the franchise. Furthermore, it can introduce new people to probably one of the greatest racing games ever. The fact there hasn’t been a new game is obscene. Get it done!

thedetectivegame

The Detective Game

A bit of an unknown quantity game, that – if released – could kickstart a genre. The Detective Game was released midway through the Commodore 64’s lifespan, and you played a detective who has to solve a murder in a mansion. The suspects are all in the mansion, and one of them is the murderer, and you have two hours to solve the murder before you are murdered yourself. Also on the hit list are various people in the house.

The reason I love this game so much is the atmosphere. Game designer Sam Manthorpe managed to recreate the atmosphere of a murder mystery on such a limited space, it is an adventure game first and foremost, but due to the story and everything that goes on, you could argue that it is the first ever survival horror game, released a decade before Resident Evil.

The reason why it divides so many people is the difficulty level. It is a simulation of a detective game, and as such you have very few clues to work on. Evidence is marked with an “E”, however four pieces of evidence aren’t. Lateral thinking is needed throughout the game, but even that is enough – there are secret passages that need to be found in the game, and if you miss an item in a room that is later locked, then you will not be able to complete the game. You aren’t given any warning on this, except your death two hours later.

It is tough, but it is well worth playing and persevering with, as the game’s story and conclusion is superb. A kickstarter reboot with maybe an assistant to bounce ideas off (or even a two player option?), as well as DLC featuring new storylines, would be well received.

paradroid

Paradroid

Out of all the games I’ve talked about, I think this one is the most realistic, not only due to it’s original popularity, but it’s licence is fairly easy to obtain – which can help it.

Paradroid is an Andrew Braybrook classic for the C64. You are on a spaceship as a weak, 001 series droid, and you have to take back the spaceship that is crawling with robots that have run amok. To do this, it’s largely a top down shooter, however you can also obtain control of other robots to take them over. This is done in a mini game, which, if successful, you get control of the robot. If you are unsuccessful though, you end up back as your 001 series, and – if unsuccessful again – you are killed.

The stronger robots have the highest numbers, however the time you can control them are limited, with 999 series robots being few & far between. Also it’s far harder for a 001 series to capture a 999 series, than it is to capture a lower series. Strategy is needed to work your way upto the stronger robots, and use them to take out the difficult floors.

The spaceship you play on is huge (I believe there were a fair few of them in the game), and the gameplay was solid, and borderline atmospheric. The game had an almost encyclopaedic level of data on the robots.

There should be a reboot of this game. The game’s licence is fairly easy to get hold of, as Paradroid (and other Braybrook games such as Uridium and Alley Kat), have been on the Nintendo Virtual Console and are usually on those 10-in-1 joysticks you get. I’m not sure on sales figures, but it is one of the most well remembered C64 games out there. A reboot (even just a graphical reboot) would be welcomed by the community.

Anyway, these are my three picks for franchises for video games that should be rebooted, what do you want to see rebooted?

Achieving the Unachievable

Frank Sinclair said it best with these words – “We have achieved the unachievable”.

I rarely talk about Colwyn Bay FC, the claret and blue coloured love of my life, on this here blog. Usually when I show my passions with it then I rant on here (it’s a personal blog, I’m allowed). The last rant was back in January, whereby I bemoaned the “Crisis” at the club. In short, I wrongly stated a few things, which were:-

  • Nobody gave Lee Williams the chance.
  • The players weren’t taking responsibility.
  • Frank Sinclair would never become manager of Colwyn Bay Football Club.

Fast forward a week after that post and:-

  • Lee Williams was rightly sacked, he had too long in the job anyway.
  • The players were taking responsibility.
  • And Frank Sinclair was the new manager of Colwyn Bay Football Club.

At first, it was roses and petals and everything was lovely. Two great draws away at promotion chasing Guiseley and Altrincham, followed by a wins against Corby Town and Harrogate Town saw Colwyn Bay edge closer and closer to safety, but a defeat at Histon (that still annoys me to this day, hence why I struggle to write about it on You’re Supposed To Be At Home saw the season unravel. Chance after chance was spurned, and then following a defeat to already relegated Droylsden, many fans saw that as the end, as with six games to go – it looked bleak, as although we had 3 games in hand over third from bottom Corby Town, a dramatic upturn in form was needed to escape.

table10thapril

And, lo and behold, a lifeline was thrown.

Colwyn Bay scraped a win against Gainsborough Trinity. I remember following the game on the Bay forum like a ridiculously hungover stalker on the train home from BrightonSEO, shaking in a combination of nerves and acute alcohol poisoning, and it sounded like we weren’t going to win. Gainsborough were all over us, and we were defending too deep, and they were certain to score. Not so, albeit it took a 95th minute wonder save from Chris Sanna to claim all 3 points. People said our season turned on that save. I’m inclined to agree. 3 points in the bag and 6 points with three games in hand due to Corby’s loss with Workington meant that the table all of a sudden didn’t look too bad.

Fast forward to a Tuesday night, and a cobbled together night out at #Mancdigibowl. I still wasn’t convinced that we’d get out of it, so for the first time in a while I had my phone switched off as Colwyn Bay made the long away trip to Brackley Town, a promotion chasing side that if they won would guarantee a spot in the playoffs with games to spare. Take a draw and the dream is still on.

Half time, we were 3-0 up. Brackley pulled one back but all of a sudden we were now 3 points behind Corby with two games in hand. Oxford City at home was next up, two days after and this game I was locked in my room – refreshing the forum and checking Twitter like a madman, as a win would put us ahead of Corby on goal difference. After we were drawing at half time, it was looking unlikely, before two quick goals early in the second half saw us win 3-1, and a gap that 8 days before had seemed substansial was now gone:-

table18thapril

Corby taking the place in the relegation zone, and displayed a class that you don’t see higher up the league system:-

The work, and the games didn’t stop though. Workington away on the Saturday was next up, and we were afforded the luxury of BBC Radio Cumbria who were covering the game. Another 1-1 at half time was converted into a 2-1 after 90 minutes, and could’ve been more when Workington inexplicably brought their keeper up for the final corner of the game to try and salvage a draw. Following a clearance, Shelton Payne was unlucky to score right at the death. A small niggle in a fantastic performance (especially as Shelton’s performance towards the end of the season has been phenomenal). Due to Corby’s win at Gloucester and Histon’s draw to Boston United meant a trip two days after that to Bradford Park Avenue would see a win take us nearly safe, and definitely safe should results go our way on the Tuesday. This happened:-

Another 2-1 win, the fifth win in nine days, saw us nearly safe. Histon grabbed a draw against Solihull Moors the day after, which meant that a win or a draw against Gloucester City on the final day would see us definitely safe.

By now, people were starting to take up and notice the achievements of the Bay, and the gate for the game swelled to a massive (for us) 633. The town were finally proud in their football club, and many fans (myself included) took to fancy dress to celebrate the occasion.

bayvsgloucester

But would a celebration be premature?

Gloucester City were spirited, with a team struggling for players, and the City faithful were a good laugh, but Colwyn Bay completed their amazing turnaround in form by winning 1-0, to finish 5 points clear of the drop. For once the result didn’t matter, but not that you’d notice with the pitch invasion right at the end. With all due respects to the achievements of last season, this season felt something a little more special.

I cannot describe how dejected I was with my football club in mid April, with trips to Skelmersdale United, rather than Stockport County on the cards. In short I wanted the season to end. Now, I can’t wait for the new one to start. Hopefully this has been the shot in the arm the Bay needs, and the town begin to get behind their team more.

And to all my friends, I apologise profusely, to Cass, Shane and Alex, as well as my housemates, who have seen the brunt of my “OMFGWTFHAVEWEDONE!” in the last 2 weeks. Not one of them cares a single bit about football (well, Shane did quite enjoy his trip to Vauxhall Motors on Boxing Day). Think of this blog post as my final say on the matter, as now I’ll bloody shut up about it.

In short, we achieved something as a football club incredible.

You see, very few teams in a season go on a six-game winning streak. Very few teams begin that winning streak from 20th in the table. To win six games from 20th in the league in 15 days is unheard of*. Players showed a monumental effort to play these games, with cases of players having to stop on the drive home to vomit out of the window as they were so banged up, it is unheard of. This isn’t the Premier League, where players can be rested, it was largely the same 11 players throughout the run (with possibly one or two changes, due to suspensions). Furthermore, the players are all part time, meaning that many after arriving home at 2am, would be up the next day to earn a living.

Just incredible really. I’m so proud of what they have achieved, and am proud to say that my post in January was wrong, dead wrong. Bring on next season, as I would say we completed The Great Escape, but even then, Steve McQueen didn’t quite jump over the fence.

We did.

Header Image Credit: @Wayheyland

* Through reddit I did a bit of research, and managed to find that towards the end of the 2000/01 season Canvey Island played 7 games in 14 days, winning 4.

Google Reader To Shut Down: My Thoughts

So yes, I woke up to the news that Google Reader is To Shut Down.

Usually I am rather flippant when Google services shut down (remember Google Wave?), and I am usually that dickish mate who responds to my less intelligent mates who whinge about Facebook changing it’s layout with “If you don’t like it, ask for a refund.”.

But gah I am annoyed with this move.

Where's the "I AM NOT OKAY WITH THIS" button?

Where’s the “I AM NOT OKAY WITH THIS” button?

You see I use RSS in 3 ways. Despite the usual way of keeping up with news, I also use it to provide basic content to my Twitter feed quickly and easily, using a combination of Buffer (which is amazing, use it), and IFTTT (which is amazing, use it). It helps keep me relevant and useful even when rushed off my feet.

The second is that, at least with this here blog, RSS is the fourth biggest source of traffic, and has the biggest engagement. I assume many of these people come from Google Reader, so to lose that source is really frustrating.

I have signed the petition on change.org with the unbelievably vain hope the behemoth that is Google listens, but I doubt they will. I am looking at alternatives as we speak (suggestions welcome! Especially those that have recipes already in IFTTT), but I guess this is a timely reminder that you should always always build your services and legacy on your own domain and hosting, and obtain email addresses when marketing. Whilst not 100% secure, it is more secure than building on services that are open to the whims of large organisations.

What are your thoughts on Google Reader Closing?

P.S. Even with this move, RSS isn’t dead. I think WordPress would have to stop offering RSS feeds, and this doesn’t look likely, at least for WordPress 3.6. Feedburner users should be worried, though.

‘Crisis’ at Colwyn Bay Football Club

In the last few years, I’ve taken a more “official” capacity at my local football club (Colwyn Bay FC) becoming an operative on one of the official channels (@ColwynBayFC). What I’m about to say is my own opinion, rather than anything associated with the club.

In case you’ve missed the mental breakdown of fans on the Colwyn Bay forum, let me summerise exactly where we stand. After two back-to-back promotions that took us from the Evostik Division 1 North to the Blue Square North, Colwyn Bay survived on the last day of the season to confirm their place in the Blue Square North for a second season. The manager at the time – Jon Newby (who is held in high regard by many of the Colwyn Bay faithful due to scoring the winner against FC United to put us into the Blue Square North) – was agreed to be kept on for the 2012-13 season. After a tough start, results began to go against us, and after a 4-2 loss at home to Vauxhall Motors on January 1st, Jon Newby was sacked, in what many believe to be less than auspicious circumstances – it was widely reported he was sacked at half time.

His replacement was brought in immediately – Lee Williams who managed Bangor a fair few years ago. After a few friendly wins against League of Wales opposition, defeats against Solihull and Workington has caused the club to be third from bottom in the Blue Square North, in the relegation zone (though, if you look at past form with the AGM Cup, and the fact we’re entering the end of the financial year, I wouldn’t be surprised if – providing we’ve balanced the books – we get reprieved even if we finish 20th).

If you read the Colwyn Bay forum, the place seems to be in complete and utter meltdown. People are demanding things of the club, a lot of this is funded by myths and fallacy. These main demands are listed below, as well as what I would do and where the blame for me lies.

Three Counter-Productive Demands

1. Drop Ticket Prices & Get More People In

I can’t see this happening, nor do I want to.

It’s usually the same people that bring this up time and again, and those who bring this up are often the ones who do little or nothing for the club on a personal capacity. Nobody becomes a football team’s fan because the team is cheap, the same way nobody becomes a smoker due to a pack of cheap fags from the airport, the only people this serves okay is existing fans.

I’m lucky, I must admit – a good job and few commitments means it’s quite easy for me to get to games financially.

2. Appoint A New Manager

According to two very helpful “through the grapevine” comments, the club has sacked their manager and are looking for a new manager. Lee Williams has only been in the job for a month and from the one game I saw them play under him (a friendly via Rhyl) we played some nice football. Nevertheless, fans aren’t happy and two names that have cropped up whenever this is mentioned is ex manager Jon Newby and defender Frank Sinclair.

Jon Newby I don’t believe is a right fit. Yes he is a nice guy, and a credit to the club, and a club legend, and missed by the club, and if he was sacked the way it was reported it wasn’t the right way to do it. However I don’t believe it is the step forward we are chasing if we hire him back. It frustrates me as people who are clamouring for Newby to return are largely the same that a month ago were calling for his head.

Frank Sinclair would be interesting but I don’t think he would take it. He plays for us inbetween broadcasting stints for Chelsea TV. Do I think his media commitments would allow him to be an effective manager? Probably not.

One thing that is said time and again is that Lee Williams isn’t up for the job due to his lack of experience at Blue Square North level. He has the same amount of Blue Square North experience as both of the above should they take the role.

I’m not saying he’s the right man for the job, just feel that these comments are counter productive.

3. The Club is Dropping Through The Leagues Deliberately To Join The League of Wales

Please? Really?

We have no affiliation with the League of Wales. Those of us over a certain age would remember the battle we took to keep out of the League of Wales. Many of those people are still shareholders.

If we were doing this: why the heck did we work so hard to raise £70,000 to build a stand last season? Surely it’d be easier to resign from the league then?

Three Areas Where The Blame Lies

1. Promote The Club

Linked to the previous number one, those who are clamouring for the football club to drop their prices are often the same ones who barely lift a finger. Clubs our size can be successful (I’m friendly with loads of the Gloucester City bunch, and they seem to have a great setup with everybody pulling in the right direction), but it requires everybody to be on the same page.

At the moment those who are actually getting off their arses and doing something are getting hounded for being lazy and thoughtless by those who don’t. This isn’t on, and I see the same names refusing to lift a finger for the club they claim to love, yet are happy to want to cut off a vital revenue stream.

If the club had a larger fan base, then they could get a larger revenue stream, sign better players, and maybe even drop prices. That requires promotion.

One issue that has been done to death and never gets done is putting up posters in the town. This should be one of the first and easiest ways to promote the club in town. I think I’ve seen one poster up around town (in a launderette in Old Colwyn). If those who truly loved the club would help promote it, then maybe their ideas will be better received.

I’ve found the board to be rather approachable and open to ideas, but it needs people to drive them. If you suggest ideas yet aren’t willing to implement them, then that’s like complaining about the government when you don’t vote.

Those who know me, know that I’m quite an emotional fella. I take every little pop at the club personally. I shouldn’t, but I do. I’ve got a couple of updates to the Facebook and Twitter stream that I’ve not done due to the backlash I know will happen. Too many pops and snide remarks at those who actually get off their arses and do stuff and they’d walk away from the club. What happens when everybody walks away? Who runs the club then?

2. Players Need To Take Responsibility

I believe a lot of players who play for the club have gotten off lightly recently.

The team from a few years ago are held in higher regards than a lot of other players who come in, and it frustrates me whenever players turn up and don’t play to the level that I know they are capable of. They have gotten off lightly in my opinion, seemingly turning up, collecting a paycheck, and then disappearing.

This does begin at management level and I think that needs to be addressed. One rumour that is going around is that the team haven’t trained in a month. If that is the case, then that is inexcusable from the club’s management level. But that I’ve heard is a rumour.

Update: It is reported that the lack of training is true, but more than this than meets the eye. The current training facilities in Chester are out of action, and it’s been nigh on impossible finding new facilities due to the snow.

3. We’re Punching Above Our Weight

When I told a non-league fan of the issues at the club, he turned to me and told me that I should just enjoy the ride. Look at Nuneaton Town fans: they are likely to be relegated at the end of the season from the Conference. Do they care? Not really. They’re enjoying their time in the highest level of non league football. We are punching above our weight, and as I said last season to a friend of mine we’re probably somewhere between tenth in the Blue Square North and tenth in the Evostik League Premier on average. We were a sleeping giant for years, now we’re where we should be. Lets just enjoy the ride. I almost had a nervous breakdown when we nearly got relegated last year, it’s not healthy this negativity.

Even if we do go down, so what? As things stand I think we’re in a stronger position than where we were five years ago, and I’m confident we’re not going to the wall.

I have rambled on too long. It’s a beer job this post, and I apologise. I just think that the club is going back from where it came from, and the fans need to take some responsibility. Dissension in the ranks has led to a lot of clubs going bump (ask any Hucknall or Eastwood Town fan this), and I don’t want it done to my beloved club.

COME ON THE BAY!

Does Anybody Else Get Fooled, Then Annoyed When Google Does This?

I was going to Tweet this, but then I’ve not had a blog post up for a while.

Lets say I do a Google Search, finding the directions between Witton Albion to Northwich Victoria. I click search and this gets brought up.

Useful, but not exactly what I want. Instead I want Google Maps. And I click on the link highlighted in the green arrow. This what happens:-

The query disappears!

I can’t be the only one who does this, am I? I know you can click on the links down the side, but surely it’ll be more useful preserving the queries between the links on the top of the page.

Anybody? Or just me?