New Blog Theme!

Hey there,

So if you’re reading this from the website then you’re already staring at the new theme for the blog. The previous one was only ever meant to be temporary until I worked on it some more. This one’s better, as it’s somewhat darker and has a sidebar to use.

This theme may look quite simple, but it actually took all morning to figure out. I’m aware that the header isn’t very gaming oriented, but believe me, I tried. I even made a banner which I wasn’t able to end up using:

32 Bit Brain

And I experimented with a few logos too. But it matters not. The blog actually looks like it has some sort of rhyme or reason to it now, rather than the default simply thrown on. There’s room for improvement, certainly, but without much knowledge (or the ownership of) Photoshop, or designing banners, or that kind of thing, there’s not much more I can do.

See you on Thursday!

I’m Finally Playing Sports, Dad! (Rocket League)

Whilst I much preferred the predecessor’s name, Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle Cars, I must also admit that I’d never heard of it until Rocket League landed on our doorsteps, so I suppose there’s a lot to be said for punctual titles. From what I’ve heard and seen, the two games have an immense amount of gameplay in common, and the fact that the predecessor to Rocket League didn’t take off may very well be due to its foreboding title; you cannot even acronymise it easily. SARPBC? Whatever the reason, it’d be very interesting to study, as in contrast to Superbatic-Acrosonic-Rocketbattle-FUCK, Rocket League has, erm, rocketed into immense popularity.

And this pleases me.

I finally caved in and picked up a copy around the time my student finance was starting to consider my bank account as a possible future friend. In other words, I bought it at full price when I really probably shouldn’t have, and that rarely happens. The, ah, full price part, at least. I’d seen so many people play this game that it was on my favourites list before it had even finished installing. I did pause briefly to consider the irony and dismay the future would bring should I dislike the game or be atrocious at it, but luckily, this was not the case.

Rocket League is one of the most ego inflating games in existence. I’m not sure I’d ever shouted “Fuck yeah I’m awesome” at my computer screen before last week. Realistically speaking, I’d like to think I’m marginally better than the average player, although there’s a good chance that everyone thinks that way if they’re able to grasp the basics and some nifty tricks. For instance, the frontflip you spam when you’re out of boost and are trying with futility to reach your goal before the ball trundles its way across the line, sneering at you as it explodes in your face and frames you for hitting an own goal.

One thing I do not like about Rocket League is the people playing it. If you’re one of those people who screams at their teammates over text chat about how much they suck at the game, then for goodness sake, stop. In anticipation of this, I discovered and utilised the disable chat function in the options before ever entering a multiplayer lobby, having heard grim tales of rage goblins. Nothing’s to stop them from sending me an angry Steam message but luckily it seems that none of the ragekind have evolved far enough to hit shift and tab at the same time.

I also avoid ranked matches, and this typically goes for all games. Any type of game in which you feel forced to perform your absolute best for fear of being told you suck is, in my opinion, not a game at all but a competition. And I’m not playing for a competition. I’m playing to frontflip into the ball a second time, accidentally knocking it from its trail into the goal and subsequently sending it hurtling towards mine. I’m playing to laugh at those moments, not crumple into a ball of apology and regret. And if you take the game so seriously that you rage at my thankfully deafened ears over this, then maybe you should be playing ranked matches instead.

To clarify, I’m not saying that enjoying ranked, competitive play is foolish, or a waste of time. Everyone experiences fun differently. It’s just not for me. It’s the same reason why I don’t do raids in World of Warcraft. Anger, indignance and spite towards a bunch of pixels has never been what gaming is about for me.

Island of False Fantasies (Tomodachi Life)

I decided I wanted to remember what it felt like to feel happy rather than psychotic when playing video games, and therefore blew the dust off of my 3DS and smiled when the cute little music started up. Subsequently, I took a trip to my town in Animal Crossing, but seeing as all the anthropomorphic cuddle bags there were being such whiny bastards about my absence, I decided to abandon that guilt trip and head straight on over to Tomodachi Life instead. The Miis there had no concept of time. What could possibly go wrong?

Upon arriving in this fresh hell, I was greeted with music so cheerful I almost wanted to throw money at the screen a second time. Now, I don’t buy 3DS games very often, on account of Nintendo having not got the memo about a game costing less than £40 if it’s over a month old. Or a year old. But Tomodachi Life, at the time, was on sale for a whopping £10 off, and I’d been watching some playthrough of the game on Youtube and decided it would be a delightful idea to own a digital copy that was on my 3DS at all times.

If only I’d known what I would become.

To begin with, it was great. I’d already decided not to put any family members into the game due to the fact that there’s no “related” option and I didn’t want things to get weird, as I’ve heard can be the case in this game. (Update: I just found the option. Oh well.) But I did start putting people from the world around me into the game, and although it felt slightly weird being able to pick my friends up and yank them around the place like some malevolent god out for lunch money, it was only a game. I started buying them meals and clothes and silly little hats with a stupid grin on my face as I made them all make friends with each other.

Soon, I unlocked the compatibility tester, a function which acted much like the text you could send in to music channels back in the day; you put two names into a random number generator and it tells you the percentage of your relationship compatibility. (To be fair, I think Tomodachi Life factors personality into this.) At first, I thought it was a little odd and creepy to be messing with this kind of thing with virtual copies of my real friends… so I just didn’t touch it. In order to enable this feature in the first place, however, the little people I’d made required full dates of birth, and not wanting to shirk my responsibilities as autocratic god, I researched my friends’ full dates of birth via Facebook. And this is when I really started feeling creepy.

Now, apparently, in Tomodachi Life, it is impossible for a boy and a girl to just be friends. I know this because, when one of my university friends asked me if it was a good idea to go and talk to the little Mii representation of myself, I accidentally initiated some sort of mutual crush scenario which immediately got so weird I just stopped interacting with the two of them. Having not learned my lesson, however, many people who shouldn’t have been interested in each other suddenly jumped into each others’ laps, and it was then that I realised that I was not playing some silly little game anymore. At least, not to anyone who could view my save file, should they get their hands on it. They’d think I was warped. Creating an alternate reality which I must have wished for. Manipulating people to my will. Creating my own sanctuary where I was the center of everything and people made babies on my command.

So I did as any god would do when faced with great expectation. I left them to fend for themselves.

(Oh stop grumbling that was a joke)

In all seriousness, I know it’s stupid that a game made me paranoid about what people in real life would think, but Tomodachi Life can become a very personal experience when you add people from real life into the game. It’s like a diary which you can lose control of and that sometimes writes itself, but you’d never be able to convince anyone that what the diary wrote is different to what you wrote.

Towards the latter days on that godforsaken, cheerful island, I decided to add a few Youtube personalities into the mix in an attempt to balance out the weird. When my character subsequently fell in love with one of them, however, creating an awful love triangle between a real person who is actually in a relationship, myself who is uninterested, and a Youtuber who has never heard of any of us, I just quit. Just up and left. Too weird. Too messed up. Goodbye and good luck, virtual denizens of whatever I called this island. I was never meant to be a god.

And today, I return, to rain down fiery meteors and re-shape the island to my will.

I’ve decided I’m going to add myself, and fictional characters only. Nobody from the real world anymore. This will likely take away from the Tomodachi experience of managing your little virtual friends, but I’m not sure I want that kind of power anymore. That kind of power leads to dangerous mistakes. It’s easier to nuke them all and be done with it.

And that’s how a Nintendo game made me feel like a psychopath once more.

UPDATE: When I deleted the save, my character said, “Ahh! I’m fading away!” and “You may have deleted everything, but we still have some nice memories.”

I’m a monster.

Sony’s Red Screen of Death

Kids nowadays (insert crotchety old grumbling voice here) don’t know how easy they have it. When they insert their discs into their machines (if they still bother with discs), the worst that can happen to them is a friendly little error message telling them that it’s not compatible or whatever. In fact, I’m not sure what the PS4 does, but I don’t think the PS3 does anything at all, it just doesn’t read the disc and present you with an option.

Kids nowadays (crotchety voice etc etc) don’t have to deal with the horror… of the Red Screen Of Death.

Alright, alright, without context it doesn’t seem so bad. But picture me, seven years old, having never touched PC gaming in my life, sitting in front of my PS2 and ready to be greeted with my little Playstation 2 intro vwomp. Having never touched upon PC gaming, I’m not accustomed to errors and workarounds, I’m just used to shit working. And for Sony to not only throw up an error screen, but to accompany creepy music and a bloody red mist was actually one of the most terrifying experiences of my childhood.

The Playstation 1 had a Red Screen Of Death, too, but I guess I was lucky enough not to encounter it when growing up. I did encounter it a few years ago for the first time when booting it up for nostalgia, and although it did creep me out, the combination of a lack of creepy music and, you know, being an adult is what stopped me from throwing it out the window in a fit of fearful tears exclaiming “you were supposed to be the chosen one”.

Overly played out Star Wars references aside, I actually found out something interesting about the Playstation 2 startup screen today. The blocks shown in the booting up sequences apparently represent the amount of games you’ve played, with their respective heights being indicative of the time spent within these games. It’d explain why, after some years, my Playstation 2 appeared to be more of a crowded cityscape than New York. Its population, however, is somewhat smaller than New York’s, given the abundance of the toxic blue fumes which run through the city streets, absorbing the blood of all who come into contact with it.

Well, where did you think the aforementioned red mist came from?

In all seriousness, though, the abundance of people claiming that the Red Screen Of Death is totally the scariest thing ever should be of some indication that there’s actually psychological reasoning behind it. My guess would be that shaking a child’s certainty of getting past the already abstract bootup screen and into the game is bound to leave some lasting effects, and replacing it with a red mist and an eerily ominous music cue only adds to this effect. Adults watching it for the first time will think “well what’s so scary about some tosser putting his disc in upside down”, but let’s be honest, that error screen was a demon possessed hell pit and we all know it.

Weekly Updates!

Hello there! I’m Kristian Richmond. You may recognise me from other barely updated blogs, such as 32 Bit Brain and Perpetually Perturbed!

That’s not how I want to be presenting myself. Therefore, I’ve gone ahead and committed myself to the idea of – say it with me – weekly updates! Hardly the most original of concepts but a damn frightening one if I do say so myself! It is frankly ridiculous how little content I’ve produced for this blog, however, and as gaming is something I’ve grown more and more involved in (the less conservative description would be obsessed with), I’ve decided that it’s time to stop sitting on my arse all day playing video games and start… ah… sitting on my arse all day, writing about video games!

Small steps, eh?

This gaming blog will be updated every Thursday until the end of my tether AHEM I mean, the end of time. Whilst I won’t be doing reviews as such, I will be placing my thoughts and experiences about individual games here on 32 Bit Brain, as well as nattering about game theory and the industry as a whole. Think the Dude Soup Podcast but with less Soup and one Dude.

And less enticing gameplay.

What an advertisement.

I will also be updating my mother base blog, Perpetually Perturbed! You should be able to do a quick clickeroo to it any other time by looking at the header. Don’t scroll up yet, though, I’ve not told you the days we’ll be updating. The blog posts for Perpetually Perturbed will be appearing on Tuesdays, because nothing really happens on a Tuesday. The blog posts for 32 Bit Brain, however, will be appearing on Thursdays, because nothing really happens on a Thursday, either, but it’s a little bit closer to the end of the week, the fabled time for video game happenings in a working gamer’s quaint abode.

And with that… terrifying promise, I will end this announcement! I look forward to seeing you back here on Thursday, should you wish to partake in my ramblings about different arrangements of pixels.