Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Happiness

Happiness is a strange thing, in that everyone expects you to be happy and it is often very difficult to admit that you are depressed or unhappy with life. It is especially difficult if you have what most would consider 'everything' (i.e a lovely girlfriend, enough money, independence etc). But alas here I am, saying to the world that I am depressed, or rather coming to terms with this. 

See, in September I went to the doctors and mentioned my moods have been strange, feeling a bit more down than usual you know what I had, at that time, considered the usual, the doctor screened me for depression and there I am, getting told I'm depressed and being prescribed anti depressants which was, to me, the weirdest thing ever at the time. Okay, I had my fallings, I'd just dropped out of university essentially branding myself a failure in the eyes of everyone else, just moved out of a hostile living environment but I just thought, no I can't be, there's too much good in my life right now, however, I am now aware that this can happen to people. 

I never considered myself depressed, I still avoid associating myself with it a bit but I feel like I'm getting closer to accepting that this is what I am right now in my life and hopefully with the help of counseling and the support from some wonderful friends and of course my family I'm hoping to beat it and somehow return to happiness again. I guess, what I'm trying to say with this blog post is I am starting to feel acceptance with my condition and with that acceptance I hope for recovery and once again happiness. Also, this is also to keep the few that read this up to date with whats going on in my life, yay!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Twin Peaks: Why it succeeds at keeping you hooked even when it's all over


A few months ago while subscribed to Netflix I noticed that they had both seasons of Twin Peaks available to watch, Twin Peaks is a show I've heard a lot about and I had always wanted to watch it so it being available on Netflix had me overjoyed. As I was only around a good internet connection for a brief period of time I mad it through the first season and enjoyed it so much that I had to get the second season.

Flash forward a few weeks ago, I have finished watching Twin Peaks, I watched the film the other day which was a great experience solely for the fact it was more Twin Peaks. So what makes Twin Peaks so special, so intoxicating that it has stuck with me long after I have finished watching it? Is it the great characters? The seedy underbelly of an otherwise peaceful, rural town? Or is it the way the web of intrigue surrounding Laura Palmers murder gets more convoluted and somehow delivers an overly satisfying conclusion? The answer is all of these yet it is also none of these. The thing about Twin Peaks is hard to pin point, it is very much a love it or hate it TV program and some people will be turned away by the many characters eccentricities while many will be drawn into it based solely on these.

Twin Peaks starts with the murder of Laura Palmer which continues to get investigated over the course of Season 1 and halfway through Season 2, however, it is clear from the pacing of the show that this is not all the show is about. It is about building up a believable yet implausible web of intrigue based solely on the inhabitants of the town, and the way the show goes about presenting this is very clever, there are straight cut characters you are introduced to in episodes only to find out, maybe tons of episodes later that they have a hidden agenda of their own or are plotting against another character. The only character who is really exempt from this is Agent Cooper who has his own demons which he confronts in season 2. 

There are many side stories which branch off from the murder of Laura Palmer, Leland Palmers story is an interesting one as is Ben Hornes however I won't go into spoilers. So how does a show about one murder which if it were any other show for the ADHD addled would solve in an hour hang on? It hangs on because you never know what it is going to throw at you next. There are so many red herrings presented in the series and so many otherwise throwaway scenes that are very important to the conclusion, an example of this is the red room scene in episode 3, from that scene you should be able to work out who killed Laura Palmer. However, it is not known how until the very end. 

David Lynch is clearly a very clever man and his cleverness is evident over the course of the series, so much can happen in one episode however you will not realise what has happened until a later episode explains it, like I said the show throws so much at you that it can be difficult to take in some of it's more surreal moments. 

Overall, I just wanted to gush over Twin Peaks in general and this is exactly what I am doing. Twin Peaks is a fantastic show when it picks up it's pace, it gives you mystery, intrigue and some supernatural elements. The blend of this shouldn't work but it pulls it off while still feeling grounded in the reality that the series has created for itself. Twin Peaks is a show everyone should watch and if you get hooked you will be thinking of it long after it's over as there are so many visual cues and little nods Lynch has thrown in to keep you guessing. What really happened to Cooper we will never know but it is always fun to theorise over it.



Saturday, 18 August 2012

Going up

Hey it's been a while (once again) since I blogged so I thought I would blog once more and tell you, darling patrons of the internet, about what's going on in my life. Where to begin is where I begin to struggle, much like writing an essay or getting things done starting it, is always the hardest part but I suppose you could say I have achieved my start by explaining that I find it hard to start things, right? Anyhow it's been a while since I actually spoke about myself on here, I believe the last time was in February at some point and that was me just venting some negativity because it needed to be done. Special thanks to the Anonymous poster who's critique will be taken on board while I write this, I promise not to be contradictory this time, honest.

Anywho, my life in the past few months, well I guess I should begin on a high note, in March I got engaged to my wonderful (now) fiance and we couldn't be happier together, even the rough times feel great in the presence of someone you love. We've moved into our own place together too which is liberating and also gives us a taste of what life would be like just us, now I know we lived together in the past but that was constricted to one room or otherwise in a hostile environment so it feels good to be able to spread our wings and grow together in our own place. Our place is also very nice, like, you can tell it's not just for students as it really feels like effort has gone into the upkeep of the place.

I have now become a Mac user too which is something I have wanted to do for a very long time but never been able to afford it, it feels great. I don't think I would ever go back to a Windows system as a mac feels more user friendly and AWESOME. Thank you based jobs.

I am also happy to say as well that this summer has allowed me to close the door on a troublesome part of my life and hopefully, now, without the event hanging over me I can hopefully open new doors in my future and not have to worry so much about it. Speaking of future, I am at a crossroads in terms of academic life and life in general, unsure of which route to seek but hopefully with some guidance which I will seek in the future I can get back on track and hopefully figure out what it is I want to do in my future.

That's it for me really, I hope that this isn't contradictory and what not and it is a bit of a rambling but hey, this blog is called "ramblings" I believe it would be selling it short if I didn't ramble. Expect more in the future when I have more interesting things to say!

Monday, 2 July 2012

The genius of Minecraft


Minecraft is a simple concept really, take a a lego style approach of building and a mining approach to resource gathering and you have Minecraft. What you do in Minecraft is gather resources and build structures/houses - I favour building houses. To gather resources you can dig up the ground to gather dirt, punch trees to gather wood and etc. You can also craft these resources into weapons and tools like swords and pick axes which make gathering resources or killing enemies easier. 

So what's so great about it? It sounds really boring, graphically it is a bit of an eyesore and well the music isn't very good either, but the ease of being able to build an impressive looking house and the addictive nature of the resource gathering really makes it a winning package. I often find myself playing it for hours on end just digging for a certain resource and then being overjoyed when I come across it, this is the sort of joy that you seldom find in video games these days. Also, the monster encounters can be really tense, especially if you are not equipped to deal with the situation, monster battles don't amount to much, mostly just hit it until it dies but the feeling that you could die and lose all your stuff at any moment gets your heart racing and it just adds another layer to the immersion.


Nice house *boom*


Then there are creepers, creepers are a horrible looking green monster that roam the lands of minecraft with a mission statement, and that mission statement is ruin your day. If they see you they come after you and if they get near you they emit this horrible hissing sound and then proceed to blow up. Which is perfectly okay if you've got a lot of health and are in a open area but when they ruin the house you've spent hours working on is when shit's on like donkey kong.

The crafting system tends to be great and adds more depth to the game, you can make so much stuff and the items you create can be used for decorative reasons or for other reasons like the game has pistons and I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THEY DO but I can't wait to find out what they do! Also, my friend Joel who is big into minecraft has a house where he has THINGS THAT SHOOTS MONSTERS AND STOPS THEM FROM BREAKING DOWN HIS HOUSE, my mind was blown when I realised how complicated that must have been. 

This is a game that isn't without problems, sometimes the game runs like ass even though it looks like a super nintendo could play it. And SOMETIMES I get gangraped by creepers but that's mostly because I suck at the game when it comes to fighting things, I just like building houses. Anyway the point of this blog is to say I like Minecraft, this is my opinion, it is my opinion that you dear reader should buy Minecraft and give Jeb some money to go on vacation.




Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Get kinected.


Kinect is one of those strange things where it SOUNDS like it could be awesome but looks absolutely awful to play and doesn't seem to add anything to the overall game experience at all. It is one of those things that is only good when YOU play it, watching it doesn't do it justice; the kinect enabled games themselves aren't very good but it's the feeling and that extra layer of immersion that some kienct games achieve that make very average games transcend into a sphere of greatness.

So you've bought a kinect, gone through the very annoying, but thankfully, one time set up phase and now you're going to be a controller.. The first thing you'll notice on the menus is that it actually works, pretty well infact. So now it's time to play a game, now, all kinects come bundled with Kinect Adventures which is a perfectly okay way of showing off what the kinect can do, I would say it's one of the best put together pack in games when compared to Wii Sports and the PS Move demo disc (fuck you sony you stingy bastards). 

Me playing Star Wars Kinect
Anyway back to my main point of this, Kinect makes you feel awesome. I played Star Wars kinect and tried the Jedi Destiny game in that and NOTHING will come close to how I felt when I force pushed a robot off a cliff, like I was immersed to the point where I felt I WAS THE FUCKING FORCE. And I was swinging my arms and dudes were dying, it especially feels great when you are deflecting blaster pistol stuff. The other stuff in that game is kind of neat like the stupidly stupid galactic dance off and the gleefully destructive Rancor Rampage but like I said, being a kinect game, the game is painfully average made amazing by the fact it immerses you to the point where you believe you are a jedi and that feeling makes the game so much better.

The kinect disneyland game is good fun too, and is a great representation of what disneyland (apparently) looks like, I have never been and now why would I go when I can give Mickey a hug from the comfort of my living room? The dancing games are cool too.

Anyway this blog is rather aimless today, I am so into kinect that I just felt like gushing over it. Buy a kinect (Simon) you'll have fun.



Saturday, 19 May 2012

Words about Max Payne 3

Every spring there is always that one game that comes, promising to deliver a great experience that will leave other spring releases in the dust, this is because spring is shit when it comes to new releases. Anyway, Max Payne 3 is one such game with its fancy graphics, noir influenced story and slow motion!

I won't go into story details because I don't really remember them too well and it's been kind of underwhelming. You play as Max Payne a drunken broken down man looking for a way out and some redemption on the way (redemption being a popular theme in rockstar games these days) this boils down to shooting dudes.

Pretty much all you do in Max Payne 3 is shoot dudes, not a complaint, it's a lot of fun with the shoot dodge moves and the quick time event-ish moments but it does leave you wanting a bit more variety. However this is very much a Max Payne game a thing I think rockstar went at with a little too much dedication, the story beats fall flat when compared to others and Max for a majority of the game is a very unlikable character.

This game is good, the graphics are fancy and the shooting is good. Want to shoot dudes for 12 hours? Then buy this game. Dislike bald protagonists then you will dislike half of this game.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Words about movies: the avengers

Remember at the end of iron man 1 when Samuel l Jackson turned up and was on about some avengers shit? I HAD no idea what the fuck he was on about.

Anyway, with how good both iron man movies were as well as Thor the avengers had some tough acts to follow as well as actually pulling the damn movie off in the first place and like any other person in the blogosphere talking about this movie I'm going to say they did it right.

Anyway go see this film it is fucking amazing, the story has a reasonable amount of depth and and and all the super heroes absolutely ruin shit in the big action sequences, no lie, shit gets blown the FUCK up.

Just go see this movie.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Mass Effect and the illusion of choice


Choice is a funny thing in modern video games, every action/rpg/farming game these days seems to be marketed heavily as being a choice filled fun fair where your decisions actually effect every aspect of the game and etc etc, essentially this is just clever marketing to draw people who like thinking that their actual thoughts and feelings will effect the little things in a pre-programmed game universe.

One of the victims of this is Mass Effect, Mass Effect is a fantastic series, filled to the brim with a ridicioulus amount of backstory, creative characters and for the most part a great storyline. I can hear you now, why are you criticising it if it's so great? Well, it was one of the first games I remember putting the whole choice aspect at the forefront of it's marketing.

The first Mass Effect game was easily the best in the series, it had excellent sci-fi elements, great characters, shooting dudes in the face, conversations and RPG stuff. I don't remember too much of the storyline or the choices in there but I do remember some of the desicions you had to make and ME1 actually contained decisions that would affect the course of the whole series (namely Kaiden vs Ashley). I will refer back to some of the more miniscule decisions in ME1 a bit later on.

THIS MAN IS YOUR FRIEND
The second Mass Effect was great, more of a middling game however, it also introduced us to the Illusive man and cerberus. It was also one of the first (in my memory) console games that allowed you to import your save from the first game. Which would in turn effect some aspects of the game. Namely the whole Kaiden and Ashley thing as well as determining whether characters like Wrex stayed alive. Nothing really wrong with Mass Effect 2's handling of this, did you pick Anderson to be the human counciller in ME1? If you did, he was doing that shit in ME2 and so on, see where I'm going with this?

The third and final Mass Effect 3 was where the whole illusion of choice falls apart and you finally realise that every decision you have made through the course of the first 2 games falls apart (apart from the kaiden/ashley thing). Was Anderson the human counciller at the end of ME1 and through ME2? Not anymore, Udina's taken over. Is THAT really Ashley? (I don't think so), were you best bros with the illusive man and did you give him the collecter base at the end of Mass Effect 2? Doesn't matter, he hates you now too. I'm sure there are some other alterations but these are the ones that bugged me the most. The worst thing about Mass Effect 3, however, is that all the big decisions in the game boil down to a "one or other" choice, they will tease you with an option that allows you to compromise for both but normally something will happen that prevents you from doing that. Also, this was more prelevant in Mass Effect 3 but has been a issue of mine with the whole series, the dialogue wheel is all smoke and mirrors, apart from the branching bits where Shepard asks question. What i'm trying to say is, the dialogue options will usually amount to Shepard saying the same thing but in a differing tone. I don't see how "Let's amass the fleet" in a menacing tone makes Shepard more of a renegade than he already is but it's the bioware way.

FUCK
The biggest thing Mass Effect 3 does to shit all over the "it's YOUR choice" mantra is the ending, remember all those decisions you made in the last 2 games? Yep okay, remember how long you spent finding cortez that dragon dildo on the citadel so you could get the LBGT fleet and increase galactic readiness? Yeah, well, none of that means shit when it comes to the end game. The end game of Mass Effect 3 does not take into account your galactic readiness or any of the choices you have made prior to it, it just throws you into a dialogue tree where you make a decision, destroy the reapers, control the reapers or merge with the reapers. Considering that you spend most of the game MAKING DECISIONS it is really annoying that they don't mean shit at the end. Everyone gets the same choice to make, everyone gets the same endings.

It is unfortunate that Mass Effect 3 went this way, there are so many inconsistencies in the plot as well as the fact all your decisions are meant to carry over into 3. It also really sucked that the big main bad guy "the reapers" weren't at the forefront of doing bad guy shit, it was more cerberus than anything.

If you want freedom of choice in your video games, look elsewhere, try Way of the samurai, in that game you make your own choices and they all have differing effects, you pick who to work for, who to kill, how to play, everything is at the leisure of your will. Just try not to fall for molyneux-esque excitement like this:

"As Mass Effect 3 is the end of the planned trilogy, the developers are not constrainned by the necessity of allowing the story to diverge, yet also continue into the next chapter. This will result in a story that diverges into wildly different conclusion based on the players actions in the first two chapters"