My Top 3 Video Games of 2016

One of the nicer things this year is the amount of video games I managed to play in 2016. I’ve not been able to play as much as I’d like in years gone past, so to play a lot of games this year has seen a welcome change.

With that said, the amount of games I did play was quite lacking, instead focusing on a few games rather than play a range of games. As such, I think I only played a small number of games in 2016. Here are my three favourites.

3. Golf With Your Friends

This was quite a find in Steam’s early access. Golf with Your Friends brings me back to my childhood of playing mini golf with my friends. Running around courses, not playing to the rules, but having a whale of a time. GWYF is probably my favourite Steam game I found this year. I covered it in a video below, but since playing it I’ve noticed more courses have been added to the game. This game is still well worth picking up.

2. Pokemon Go

For sheer changing the world, Pokemon Go should be up there. For a few weeks over the summer this game was my life. I was going out and exercising with friends on long walks, even having dates with my girlfriend which involved walking to the nearest pub or two. This usual ten minute walk took upwards of 45 minutes. As we were catching Clefaries, Machokes and Mr. Mimes. It was huge, so huge. Hell, we got so addicted so quickly that a pub crawl with a friend of mine saw us drink one pint in 90 minutes, as we were busy catching Pokemon.

It had a huge impact, but sadly fizzled out quicker than it began.

1. Overwatch

No game has taken more of my time in 2016 than Overwatch. I’m a huge fan of Team Fortress esque shooters and when I played the early beta 3 weeks before launch, I was immediately hooked.

Since May – when it came out, I’ve not played anything else.

I love Team Fortress shooters, as stated above. This is my new favourite. It combines a genuine e-sport with an in-depth lore. Characters are memorable, maps are engaging and Blizzard are geniuses. Content has been added constantly, with 2 new characters, 2 new maps, endless games and three seasonal events (even if I didn’t get the Tracer UK Skin or the Mercy Halloween Skin. Boo!). All for free. I cannot see me stopping playing this anytime soon.

Also, shout out to my fellow Symmetra Mains!

What were your favourite games of 2016?

Golf With Your Friends – Review

After the popularity of my Rocket League Review, I’ve decided to do another review, this is for a game I have been watching on Twitch a fair bit and is quite popular on there. An early alpha game that has been greenlit and is available to play now. Golf With Your Friends.

Here are some other thoughts not mentioned on my Golf With Your Friends Review:-

  • The game was originally called “Golf With Friends”. However recent trademark troubles with that name has seen the game renamed as “Golf With Your Friends”. You can read about it here. The video refers to the game as “Golf With Friends”. I couldn’t really change it as between recording and putting it live, the name was changed.
  • I ran the Alpha 0.0.82 version for this game.

Overall Thoughts

Golf With Your Friends is a fun little game to play with – surprise surprise – your friends. It does seem to work better privately with private rooms than public rooms, but even with playing with strangers the game does work.

There are glitches, but it is an early release alpha game. If you can look through the glitches (and you should be able to), then you have a great game. This will only get better as the game approaches release date.

Golf With Your Friends is available on Steam now for £4.79 / $5.99. You can buy Golf With Your Friends here.

My Favourite Moment from Wrestlemania 32

So now that the dust has settled from my trip , I’m beginning to think what my favourite moment from Wrestlemania weekend was. Whilst the Shinsuke Nakamura/Sami Zayn match was incredible and the Shane McMahon dive off the cage was breathtaking, the most iconic moment is rather not a return, or a match, but instead a change in direction for an important group of roster members.

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First some history. WWE – in a way to avoid athletic laws – has always tried to distance itself from being professional wrestling. As such, it calls itself “Sports Entertainment”, and it’s wrestlers “Superstars”. It’s a way to brand it to be different, and they are very very careful about how they brand them.

However, their women’s division, which began again in around 1998 after a break of a few years, has been referred to in a different name for the last few years: “Divas”. Although it’s branded as such, it’s generally seen as a bit of a derogatory term, as generally unless you’re Mariah Carey, nobody wants to be called a “Diva”.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the only thing that has held back women’s wrestling, as the hiring policy has seemed to value looks over athletic talent. Wrestlemania – the pinnacle of the pro-wrestling world, has generally seen the “Divas” compete in poor, nothing matches, usually seeing the #1 contender be whoever posed in Playboy for their “Wrestlemania Special”. That is when the “Divas” title had been defended. Often there has been matches, usually involving Z-List celebrities, or battle royales which lead to nothing and generally terrible and throwaways. Although the company has referred to these matches as “Divas matches”, the colloquial term amongst the fans due to the fact these matches are often placed between two other more marquee matches has been to refer to these matches as “The Piss Break”.

However, whilst glorified models had been stinking up the main roster, NXT saw something grow – really good women’s wrestling. True athletes were given time on shows to wrestle great matches. Lead by Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and Bayley, women’s wrestling became the highlight of these shows.

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Although talent such as AJ Lee, Emma, Natalya & Paige existed on the main roster, it was often in throwaway matches and occasionally at the expense of less talented women. It came to a head on February 23rd, 2015, where Paige and Emma took on The Bella Twins in a match that lasted under 30 seconds. In a three hour show. This came after a match on NXT a few days earlier where Sasha Banks took on one of Indie Wrestling’s top female stars Leva Bates’ non-Cosplay character “Blue Pants” in a feature match on the card, and the fans finally snapped. Shortly after #GiveDivasAChance trended on Twitter, and WWE had to act.

It was a stop/start push. There was a half decent tag match at Wrestlemania 31, and Paige had some good matches with the rapidly improving Bella Twins and Alicia Fox, but it came to a head on July 13th of RAW when Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks debuted on the main roster. Whilst well received, the WWE saw fit to rebrand this as a “Divas Revolution”, and whilst matches received more focus, nothing really changes – the matches were still not hugely focussed, and they were still Divas, competing for a title that looked like a bad tattoo from a drunken weekend in Ibiza.

This all changed in the Royal Rumble at the beginning of the year, when Charlotte and Becky Lynch had one of the strongest matches on the card. This match – that saw Charlotte retain the Divas title in an absolute clinic, saw the return of Sasha Banks (who had been booked impeccably since her debut), and the venue came unglued.

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It was a validation to three quarters of the four horsemen, and they were put into a marquee match at Wrestlemania 32 in Dallas. The three women wrestlers were put on the front cover of the programme, with a genuine storyline (that isn’t built on who was sleeping with who, but on respect and wanting to be the best in the world), and generally given a huge opportunity.

And boy, it was a marquee match.

All three got special entrances, Lynch got a steampunk entrance which fit her character, Sasha Banks got her cousin (Snoop Dogg) rapping her to the ring, and Snoop Dogg was referred to as Banks’ cousin, not the other way around. And Charlotte was given fireworks, a robe that borrowed heavily from her daddy, and looked majestic and every bit a star. They were all stars, and had an incredible match that became only the second women’s match in WWE history that lasted over 10 minutes (the other one? The women’s match approximately 90 minutes earlier on the pre-show of Wresltemania 32). After 16 minutes of probably the best match on the card, Charlotte beat Becky Lynch to become the first ever WWE Women’s Champion.

Yes, they dropped the “Divas” moniker which pidgeonholed female athletes. As I’m writing this we’re on the way to WWE Extreme Rules (one of the next big show after Wrestlemania), there are two genuine feuds, and one main evented the lead in Raw to the Pay Per View. There isn’t just one shoehorned in.

So, the moment for me for Wrestlemania is that women’s wrestling is something to be proud of. Sure it will have a few bumps down the road, but how WWE has handles the closing of the “Diva’s Revolution” and the beginning of the “Women’s Wrestling Era”, has been absolutely superb.

I’ll end with this tweet from Max Landis. Showing why it matters to millions of fans around the world.

Understanding Undertale’s Importance

2015 was a year with some huge titles released. Big games with bigger budgets and bigger than last year’s numbers on the end, these games were announced at big press conferences, and rightly dominated critical and commercial top 10 lists, as a lot of them were very good.

However, one game was also on many of those lists – usually high or number one, one that was a labour of love, funded on Kickstarter, and ended up becoming my favourite gaming experience of 2015.

That game is Undertale.

Undertale was a game written mostly by Toby Fox, an accomplished chiptuner who also composed the music. The game is an old school RPG with a similar graphic style to Earthbound and other Super Nintendo games. You play a child who has been dropped into a monster formed underworld. Your job is to escape from the underworld and return home.

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Why Is Undertale So Good

The beauty of this game is that your actions lead to a direct response to the game. Not just small changes like in a series such as Mass Effect, but your actions will lead to how your game progresses. It is very, very clever and with a great message behind it. It is very difficult to talk about it, so I won’t, but trust me it is very well done.

The second beautiful thing about the game is the combat system. Turn based combat is loved or hated by many people, but if you are like me you would probably skip through this quickly as possible to return to the selection. This is a dangerous thing in Undertale, as by slowing down and reading, Undertale drops hints as to what to do. Whilst the game has some puzzles, the battles themselves are puzzles and can require creative thinking. As well as a puzzle element, the battles also have some fun bullet hell esque segments that can help you win.

Another beauty of Undertale is that it is so very self assured. It knows it’s a game, and it knows it’s strengths and it’s weaknesses, so it doesn’t take itself very seriously. Could you imagine Call of Duty effectively tell the player where a glitch happens? Or where the graphics aren’t as good? Undertale does, and by doing so it peels away the fourth wall in the most creative way possible. Mix that in with a genuine laugh out loud dialog, a sense that it keeps you on the toes and can unnerve you as well as a cracking soundtrack that borrows from the 8-bit era, and you will understand why it has so many plaudits.

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Why Undertale is Important

Undertale did slip underneath the radar, being released on Steam. There was very little in the way of marketing, and it had to be uncovered a bit. In short, it has become the poster child of two movements in gaming.

The first is the Indie Game Movement. Indie games have been getting a lot of coverage over the last few games, and indie games are seen as places that due to the lack of budget as well as the lack of need to be “successful” games can take a few risks and be creative. However, I’ve never seen an indie game take so many risks, and for it to come off so spectacularly.

The other one is that this is a great example of a game that can be viewed as art. Whilst I believe not every game can be viewed as art, this one can be. Art can be commercially successful, but the majority of “commercially successful” art is rather watered down and bland – think of the pictures you buy in Ikea to decorate your living room. Those pictures are your Call of Duty’s, your Fifa’s or your other triple A titles that are released every year. Undertale is your Mona Lisa.

It isn’t perfect – it’s knowingly short and there was a feeling the first time I played that I rushed through it – but it’s cheap, good fun and well worth picking up. Maybe Undertale is one of the most important games out there – a creative slap in the face of an industry that is so bland – but that’s for others to judge. I will confidently say that is a very fun game, and one you will enjoy to complete.

Does Google Need To Make Their WordPress Plugin Better?

I was listening to a recent episode of the excellent WordPress Weekly Podcast of WP Tavern (episode 134), which covered WordCamps.

One thing that piqued my interest was the discussion of the first plugin released by Google in the repository. On it, one of the panelists (I didn’t quite get who) mentioned that it “sucked”. Which is something I actually agree with.

The reason I believe it sucked was that it only did two things: Webmaster Tools verification and allowing to add Google Adsense to your site, both of which had a lot of plugins in the repository. The panelist then went on to discuss the number of other technologies that Google have that are criminally underrated in the WordPress Repository: Google’s two factor authentication (incidentally, I’ve been using Rublon recently, and it’s pretty good), and Schema implementation are both pretty under-represented, surely it would be better if Google focused on one of those plugins?

In two words, probably not.

To play devil’s advocate, I think the reason why Google’s first plugin is Adsense’s focus is that their core business revolves around advertising. It make sense that they become to the go to plugin for people wanting to put Adsense on their site.

Yes I wish it was more advanced and I believe there would be better things for Google to work on for WordPress Sites, but remember Google doesn’t owe you anything, from rankings, to mail client, to even what is in their WordPress plugin.

Such is the beauty of WordPress that the plugin’s open source nature that anybody can take the plugin to make it better (something I’ve been messing around with). So yes: as I recommended at my MWUG Presentation on SEO for WordPress: listen to Google, but question them.