Of-course I get Gate 8! I’ve had some pretty severe family issues going on for a while now, definitely nothing to brag about… I thought there would be nothing better than to spend some quality time with my fave person on the planet, and that’s my Mum, so we’re off to Japan together for 8 days, a country which she took me to nearly every year as a child, should be a blast!
We’re going on a budget tour, but I’m flying with Mum, and that means in style! These chairs flatten right out into a bed, and damn I literally teleported to HK!!!
We’ve left 3 months of rain in Sydney for more rain… Boo! Tour guide says it’ll be sunny tomorrow though!
We only made a quick transit in HK, then we landed in Osaka.
As soon as we stepped out in to the airport we were greeted by Airport Staff in bright outfits handing out candy! Japan!
Land of Boss.
Oh and fuck, it’s raining here too…
We landed in Osaka SUPER early, which meant we couldn’t check into the hotel yet, so instead the tour started straight away, pretty hard going for a bunch of oldies on tour, but you get what you pay for?! We headed straight for Osaka Temple.
We’ve literally come at the perfect time. The Cherry Blossoms are JUST about to pop open! Will do so over the next few days.
There was an absolutely insane historical Samurai armour display in the Castle, but no photography! Massive bummer.
After the Castle we then checked out Dotonbori, the shopping district.
Lots and lots of paper mache signs, some, like this crab were animated (which brings me back to seeing one of these signs animating for the very first time when I was a little boy in Japan).
My first purchase!
Love the Japanese! One of the poor old ladies got lost, for at least a couple of hours in the busy streets of Dotonbori (on a very cold and wet night to boot!). The tour guides did nothing about it, and one of the more occa guys on tour decided to stand up and tell everyone in the group that we should all go back to the hotel and call the cops. I almost got into a fist fight with the fucker (he was pretty drunk and holding a beer in hand). There was no fucking way I was going to leave an old lady on her own on the streets in a country where she didn’t speak the language…
…LUCKILY for us some young Japanese kids found her, and guided her back to the restaurant we were all meant to meet at.
One of the girls broke down in tears when she saw how happy the old lady was to be reunited with the group! SO SWEET! Night made! PS: Old mate apologised more than a few times for getting worked up too, that’s a good thing as I’ll be on the tour with him for the next week!
Ah that budget tour. We had to walk 5 minutes in the rain, with our luggage, to the hotel! HAHAH! So awesome.
Love my little room though, so typical of cheaper hotel rooms in Japan. In fact identical to the last one I stayed in, in Tokyo!
Always remove the lower power tab off the bottom of a powerboard and bring it with you, plug it in to an adapter and you’re good to go to charge your laptop, phone and camera batteries!
This fan made video is awesome, and literally a love letter to the game itself! It’s what pushed me over the edge to hit the buy it now button (and I’m glad I did!)!
I’m a vampire. I swear. I’m 41, and feel like I’ve done so much and lived forever. Where I have lived on, my friends have gone, so I keep making new young friends in life, but eventually they all go too (“Going” in this case probably means getting married and having kids and moving on with their lives rather than dying, but you get my analogy?!).
Something that many might not know about me is that I am a huge vampire fan. I grew up on Anne Rice novels, and loved everything she wrote (later on I read her erotic novels which she published under a fake name, they were super fucked up!!!). Her novel “Interview with the Vampire” ended up becoming a pretty successful movie, one which I’ve watched a few times, and enjoyed (but ultimately I love Bram Stroker’s 1992 Dracula starring Garry Oldman as the Nosferatu the most).
I was more punk than goth when I was younger, but I hung out with goths all day long as my long term girlfriend Caryn at the time (we dated for 7 years) was sister to Sydney’s King Goth Charles Gillespie, who ran and owned Club 77 for years, had Marylin Manson hang out at his house, which has so many dead animals hanging on the walls you’d think you were hanging out at an abattoir!
I collected and read the entire Sandman series of graphic novels by Neil Gaiman too, love his artwork, love the fantasy world he has created, love Dave McKeon’s heavy layered photoshop work (a huge inspiration to me back in high school). I’m still hopeful they will one day make a movie on The Sandman, the lore is there for the taking!
Somewhere along the lines Twilight happened, and maybe Twilight killed the vampire for me just like Fast & Furious killed car culture. Either way I’ve not really felt attached to any kind of vampiric love for a while, until now!
Enter Vampire Bloodlines. I stumbled upon this title when searching for the best Role Playing Game (RPG) of all time. It came up time and time again. Made in 2004 (it’s old!), it was a rushed release and on release it was so broken that people could not play it. The game died in the ass on release, but over time a community of fans fixed the game to the point where they’ve released an unofficial patch which realises much of what the games developers wanted to do with the game in the first place.
Isn’t that just amazing?! I’ve seen it with Fallout 4 and the community of modders who not only fix bugs in the game, but make everything about the game better, from textures through to gameplay mechanics. What you have to realise is that it’s not the developers who are shit here, it’s the fact that there are a shitload more amazing ‘developers’ in the world than in one studio, so when a game developer releases a game which the community can mod, it’s only fair that there will be better coders/designers/artists out in the world (in comparison to the smaller pool of talent in one dev team).
So, back onto vampires, goths, and games. I decided to download Bloodlines off Steam (it was $25AUD), I downloaded the official patch, installed it without issues and the game is running fine so far. There’s no way of using a controller as there are a LOT of keyboard commands you can use, it’s going to take a while for me to be completely fluent with them all, but Bloodlines isn’t exactly an action first person shooter so I’m sure I’ll feel more comfortable with the controls over time as it’s a slower paced game.
When you launch the game you’re thrown into character creation, definitely one of my favourite parts of starting any new game (and I love that dark Massive Attack like track on the home screen! Sets the mood right!).
Like Fallout New Vegas’ start with the Doc. Bloodlines starts with a psych test to help figure out what class of vampire suits you best. I loved the psych questions right away and I answered them as honest as I could, this gave me the class of “Malkavian”, the crazy ones, which I’ve read over and over again as one of the most fun play though characters in the game as their dialogue is totally whack and almost nonsensical (which then makes for some fun unexpected results when you’re forced to make a choice). The Malkavian character is one that a lot of Bloodlines players suggest as a 2nd play though just for the sheer fun of it. It’s probably not the best character for a first play though due to the fucked up dialogue, but hey it’s what I got so I’m sticking with it.
If you answered in other ways you could have gotten Nosferatu for example, these guys are so ugly that gameplay would force you to always be lurking in the shadows and underground tunnels for the entire game. Talking to other NPC’s to gather info from them becomes impossible as you’re so not human looking that most of them will scream and run away from you. Unlike Skyrim where it almost doesn’t really matter what class you choose as in the end you can get any class to work once you’re levelled up enough, with Bloodlines classes it really seems to matter which class you choose and that’s an awesome thing (especially for game re-playability).
After the character creation screen you’re thrown into a cut scene which really shows how dated the graphics are, but you know what? Despite a low polygon count the expressions on the characters are better than this year’s 2017 Mass Effect Andromeda. Far from realistic, but the expressions are there and the voice acting is bang on. The tutorial at the start throws you into the basics, yup there’s a lot you can do in this game and surprisingly it’s not just a point and click RPG but much more dynamic than I originally thought.
It turns out you can play first person and 3rd person, and you have all the controls of a FPS, and that’s because this game has been built on an early Unreal engine (blew my mind and makes so much sense as to why I’m loving it right now). Bloodlines worked originally as a turn based Dungeons and Dragons style board game of sorts, but when it went digital it didn’t do the RPG point and click Fallout 1 style game, but went right into open world FPS, much more like modern Fallout games. Really impressive.
What I’m sincerely loving the most is the general goth vibe of the game. It’s so bang on I can’t believe it, and it’s surely the real reason as to why so many people out there think the writing in this game is so good. I don’t think it’s the writing. I think it’s the fact that the guys who made this game had to be goths, or at least were mates with goths, because some bits in this game are just SO goth it brings me back, hard!
Just seeing goth guys dance on the dance floor, IT’S BANG ON! If you’ve ever seen goths dance, it looks like they’re invisible sword fencing, or they look like gorillas going through the mist.. the game nails it, and seeing other NPC’s randomly joining in on the dace floor was cool, then when I randomly decided to have a closer look at the dancers a prompt appeared for me to start dancing too, BANG ON! This is just the kind of explorative mechanic that gets me in a good game.
SO I’m barely out of the tutorial, but I’m somehow I’m already hooked. This is amaze as most games usually start out super slow and boring, especially tutorial bits. I’ve only met a couple of NPC’s so far but the ones I’ve met have been fucking amazing. One vampire by the beach I stumbled into had an Aussie accent, and a great bit of dialogue to go through. Pretty sure he wasn’t anyone special in the game, just filler, but fucking good filler at that as he was super engaging.
Really looking forward to more Bloodlines, mainly because the culture of it all feels so bang on, respectful and legit. I literally feel like I am hanging out with my old goth mates again, for real! Will post up a final review at some point I’m sure.
Ah no bull. I love bush walking and this is legit the best looking natural nature formations I’ve seen in a game, it’s the randomness of things that make nature look natural. These guys have done the Takashi Amano Nature thing so nicely!
I’m always on the hunt for immersive games to play that I haven’t played yet (that would most likely be a lot of them!). I’m defining my priorities as a gamer, and I’ve chosen to value games which create great experiences by utilising a great mix of action, story, RPG and open world.
A while back I reviewed a very strong story driven Indie game “Firewatch” (review here). I loved that it was so strong on narrative, and that it moved me, but it was light hearted and I’ve still been looking for a MYST or RIVEN like experience.
I think I’ve found it.
I’ve stumbled upon “The Vanishing of Ethan Carter” on Steam. It’s an adventure game that’s immersive from the second you load in. The first thing you read is that the games developers do not intend to hold your hand, and too right. I screwed up my first playthrough by starting a lot of puzzles, not finishing them and moving on the start other ones, which somehow sadly broke the game for me a couple of times, forcing me to start the game all over as the game doesn’t let you save whenever you want to (crazy!), instead it autosaves when you’ve completed a puzzle.
The game breaking, and having to start all over again a couple of times ended up being a GREAT thing! I’d say this game would be only about 3 hours short if you knew where to go and how to solve the puzzles, getting lost exploring, and having multiple attempts at the puzzles is what soaked up a lot of my time, and where I usually hate puzzles in games I absolutely loved every single one of the puzzles in this game.
The game is drop dead gorgeous too (check my screen shots above). For a $20 game I think it’s environments look more realistic than my modded Skyrim which uses 4K texture packs. I often found myself pausing to take a screen grab, enjoy the views, the sounds and fauna swaying in the wind.
The soundtrack is great as well, it builds up as you go, but I hate music in the background in games so for my 2nd playthrough I left the music off and found it was more way immersive. The sound design really shines when the music is off, especially the sound of your footsteps over different terrain.
Do give this game a go if you’re after something different (find it on Steam, it’s a small download). It’s beautiful, creepy, dark and tragic all at the same time. It’s super short (I’d say a 5hr playthrough if you do everything there is to do in the game), but that’s alright for the price. It’s also got a GREAT ending which has had me pondering way after I’ve put the game down (also, there’s a sniper rifle “easter egg” to be found in the game, must have if you’re a completionist!).
PS: If you do get lost in the game, use this guide (helped me out with the one tricky puzzle I couldn’t beat!).
Crazy, right?! I have DIVINE tattooed on my left arm. The tattoo means a LOT to me, but Star truly does deserve the word with some of the shit she’s been through in life, and I’m honoured that I mean so much to her. We booked in to Tora Sumi in Balmain, Eduardo Star’s tattoo artist was an awesome dude, Star took the needle like a champ and she’s so ecstatic with the end result!
It’s been raining non-stop (for at least a month now?!) and I’ve been gaming a LOT! I’ve geeked out (when do I not?!) and dug up some more older games that I probably should have played when they were first released. Fallout 4 (2015) has to be my favourite game of all time; the post-apocalyptic theme, deep lore, companions, the massive open world and balanced RPG and action gameplay. I’ve been hanging for Fallout 5, and that’s been primarily the catalyst in searching for other games which might fall into the “Open World Action RPG” genre.
After much research (the best bit!) I put my money into BioShock, a dark and atmospheric first person action shooter with RPG elements which many still say is their fave game of all time, and definitely a game of the year back in 2007. Metro: Last Light, a hardcore post-apocalyptic Ukrainian first person shooter and Fallout 3.
What’s awesome about buying these old games now is that A) they’re damn cheap! And B) They’re remastered versions which feature bug fixes as well as better graphics than release. Getting old games to run on the ZEN PC has been a lot of fun too. There’s a tonne of support out there when it comes to PC’s and gaming so finding others with the same issues was pretty easy.
So what did I think of these 3 games?
BioShock Remastered was a hoot! Really creepy, fast paced, intuitive retro fun. I loved the retro Art Deco style and especially LOVED the emotional ending I got (the good ending). I had no issues running it on Windows 10 either. When I finished the game I was left feeling super satisfied, so satisfied that I’m happy to put the series to rest (IE: not bother to play BioShock 2 or 3).
Metro: Last Light Redux looks and runs great (2013 so not that old). It came up a lot in searches when looking for games with a post-apocalyptic theme. It’s Russian, it tries to be hardcore with no HUD or crosshair too (I love that as HUD elements always ruin immersion for me), but in the end it just feels more arcade than hardcore shooter. You can’t save when you want, only at check points. The saves get corrupt too so you have to start chapters over each time you launch the game rather than continuing from your last save. I’m about half way through the game and losing interest. The AI in combat just isn’t that engaging, the story isn’t grabbing me either. Not a bad game! Just not blowing my socks off.
Fallout 3 Game of the Year Edition – in the end I just had to return to Fallout! Getting Fallout 3 to run on the PC has been super hard. I crashed out a billion times during the main story playthrough, sometimes I’d have a good 1-2 hour run with no issues, other times I’d be crashing every 15 minutes, or every time I went through a door or jumped to another scene. It was super frustrating, but fixing these issues is part of the fun of retro gaming too (geek out!). The mod community has come to the rescue again here, and this guide helped to get the game going (albeit still with random crashes every now and then).
Fallout 3 is on Nexus Mods too (oh noes!), so playing it with high res texture packs and a few other convenience mods has been a lot of fun. The game itself is a LOT like Fallout 4! I feel it’s as if Bethesda just took Fallout 3 and remade it with better technology, much like how Hollywood would take an old film and remake it today. I can see that if you were a Fallout 3 fan you could have been super underwhelmed with Fallout 4 as you might have been expecting a whole lot more, but as a huge Fallout 4 fan I was just so happy to be getting more Fallout, period!
So on that note, there’s Fallout (1997), and Fallout 2 (1998) I’ve yet to play. I’m eyeing the bundle on Steam right now… hitting that ‘buy it now’ button is inevitable!
EDIT: I’ve since played Fallout 1, my GOD, SO old school!!! I finished it with a guide, would not have been able to without! The bundle came with Fallout 2, and Tactics too, but will be giving those a miss. Bring on Fallout 5!
Matt Hart from The Escape Road, and Adam from Downshift.
And Skaifey had a few words too, legend!
Aussie Speedhunter Matt Everingham.
BIG MAN NICK!
Zen Racer Trent Grubel.
I got to do 3 hot laps in a #TR86 race car today on the full GP circuit (my fave!) at Sydney Motorsport Park Eastern Creek, we were given access to Mark Skaife, and Neil Crompton too. Was a great day, great vibes!
The car I got this time around was meant for a much taller driver. I could barely reach the pedals, and couldn’t see over the dashboard!!! I even hung a couple of wheels off the dirt because I just didn’t feel comfortable pushing the car. I had Pro Race Car Driver Ben Porter in the car with me so that was kinda nerve wrecking as well, though I’m sure he was WAY more scared than I was with me behind the wheel haha! Still, ANY excuse to get onto the full circuit for hot laps (such a privilege to get to drive at EC).
Running in 4K on the 65″ Sony x ZEN PC. Static screen grab doesn’t do this any favours though, got to see this on my screen in real life for major WOW factor.
That some games developers let the community mod their games is just truly UNBELIEVABLE! Check out the high res textures one fan has created to replace almost every texture in the game. So impressive (and mods are free!).
Horizon Zero Dawn left me wanting more. I felt like I was the only person out there that didn’t love it. I thought about that some more and started searching around for others out there who also didn’t fall in love with the game, that lead me to a few reviews which suggested that Horizon felt more like the best bit of a whole lot of games in one.
One of the games that Horizon was compared to was Witcher. I judged that game by it’s cover and never looked into it, but as I looked into Witcher 3 reviews I found that it won more game of the year awards than any other game in 2015, and at $40 (on Steam) with all DLC’s I couldn’t refuse.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an action RPG. It’s open world, which I love, the world looks and feels like Skyrim only it’s not your world, you’re not you’re own character either; in Witcher you’re the white Fox Geralt of Rivia, who’s a mature and super witty guy (some of his dialogue literally had me laughing out loud!).
Witcher 3 is all story and all graphics. Where Horizon had great action gameplay, Witcher really comes across as more of an interactive movie than an action game, but it does the interactive movie thing better than any other game I’ve ever played that”s for sure. And the graphics, WOW! It turns out Witcher 3 has mods on Nexus. I instantly downloaded a high res texture pack and man… this game, though a couple of years old now, is WAY better in ultra on a PC than Horizon on a PS4. WAY BETTER! I’d go as far as saying it also has the most detailed world, and most amazing sunsets and sunrises of any game I’ve ever played.
PS: As usual I’ve completed the main story line first, and I’ll move onto side quests later on. The main story ending is a motherfucker! I played about 40hrs or so to finish the main story and I amazingly got the good ending. Oddly it’s because I was just being “me” in the game (I made some rebellious choices that let my “daughter” in the game have fun, as opposed to over fathering her), that said most playters would have sunk more like 100 hours into the game to get to the end, they would also have made “good guy” choices, all of which would have served them up the sad ending, which is so fucking sad that heaps of Witcher 3 fans out there necked themselves.
I respect all the brave people who make a huge leap towards doing what they want to do in life (especially those who leave the “system” for less money, but more profit elsewhere). I always try to support friends who do and I have 2 girl friends who are going through the motions right now.
Dianne and Star. Dianne who’s quit corporate for her own foodie related business, and Star who’s making the leap from retail into design and marketing. Both have taken the leap, both are struggling, so this is where you all come in!
It’s a HUGE ask. I know, but I’m trying, and if you can help these 2 girls in the smallest of ways (just need 2 likes!) I’d appreciate it, the girls really would too I’m sure.
Star’s heading towards a career in graphic design, she’s landed a job at a mortgage broker, dry as fuck I know but she’s designing there, and running their facebook page too. It’s super HARD to get people to like a mortgage page, but from what I hear these guys are small team of great people. Like their page, Star gets MAJOR brownie points! Like: Loan Market Southwest
Dianne’s food boxes are $59 monthly, the first box was awesome! If you can’t afford the $59 for a box it would be awesome if you’d like and follow her facebook page in case you might be able to afford them down the line, or better yet, tell your friends about: Chilli & Vanilla
We’ve finally put our Black on Black Zen Graff snapback on our shopping cart and it’s sold over 20 units overnight which is great! I’ve only got one for shoots right now, but I’m pretty determined to keep many more for myself this time (still upset I didn’t even get to save a ZEN x GEEDUP collab T for myself!).