Why the Hell Haven’t You Played This Yet? – Doom

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Every few weeks I will write an article on what I believe to be the best games you need to play before you die. These are games from all platforms and all differing in genre and gameplay, whether you play them or not is completely up to you, but I’d recommend it – Nath

Doom

Before we get started, let it be known that Doom is not the granddad of first-person shooters. Wolfenstein 3D was released over a year before Doom so this game should be considered the first first-person shooter, albeit Doom was more popular and more successful.

I can understand that most people who read this will have already played Doom or the other sequels/spin-offs that the game has spawned, however it goes on this list as I have replayed this game so many times and I still don’t get bored. It may look primitive compared to the first-person shooters of today, but you still need skill and perseverance in order to successfully navigate the levels filled with the spawn of hell.

You play a character known as “Doomguy” and his only objective is to kill all the enemies he sees in front of him and stop the invasion. Seems simple, but it is not unless you’re a pussy and playing it on the easier difficulties, and if you are, shame on you, you should play this on “hurt me plenty” or higher.

The game starts off in a room with a pistol and a bloody corpse and your aim is to find the exit whilst battling numerous monsters with a variety of weapons. New weapons can be picked up from monsters, but most of them are just lying about the levels, mainly in secret areas. They vary from shotguns to rocket launchers to chainsaws to the legendary BFG 9000. Now if you don’t know what the BFG is, it is a weapon that fires a large green plasma shot and deals large damage to the monster it hits, as well damage to other monsters you can see in view. It is considered one of the best weapons ever created.

I can imagine most of you are thinking “why should I bother playing this 90’s game”, but trust me, it is worth it. I love this game, it brings me enjoyment when I play it as well the deep satisfaction I get when completing a level on Nightmare, the hardest difficulty on the game. This difficulty doesn’t even allow you to enter cheat codes so basically you are in for a rough time. You take more damage and the monsters are faster and they respawn, a lot, like seriously loads, its ridiculous. Good news is you get double the ammo when you play on this difficulty, not that it matters because you’ll be dead before you fire the gun.

In the end, this is a game you have to play for numerous reasons, the difficulty of nightmare, the fun and simplicity of the game and a history lesson in gaming. It is one of the first first-person shooters to grace the gaming world and it made a huge impact. Also if you play the game and/or the brilliant sequel Doom 2, you will have a massive appreciation for it’s reboot Doom 3 and it’s expansion packs. On a side note, don’t watch movie based on the game. I know it has Karl Urban and The Rock in it, but it is awful, except for the 4 minutes where the film enters first person mode. Actually watch that bit, not the rest.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueKhVcqQBtg

Hope you enjoyed the review, happy fragging. Also, roll on Doom 4!

Nath

Seven Seas Of R’lyeh

I walked down the aisle, as casual as a person being watched could. How long had it been? 3 maybe 4 aisles. His eyes burning into the back of my head. I reached for the tome. I’d spent my last few pounds buying an intolerable hog dog from a portable vendor, trying to hide the urgency of my mission from my pursuer. It hadn’t worked. I swiftly placed the book in my jacket and began exiting. Had I done it? Was the stalker just a physical manifestation of my paranoia? I could see the door. I had done it. That’s what I thought until a strong, authoritative hand grabbed my shoulder and asked me to come to the security office. Well, I thought to myself, that’s the last time I try to steal a book from Waterstones.

I arrived late to the Cthulhu mythos party, and hadn’t even brought a bottle of wine! But I haven’t looked back since. I love everything from the 1920s setting to the themes of mind-shattering paranoia. H.P. Lovecraft had been sold to me by a different medium – board games! I love Eldritch Horror and Elder Sign and that’s why I decided I must read some Lovecraft immediately.

After a small amount of research I found the best item to start with was “The Call Of Cthulhu”, a short story with only 32 pages. Now I love short stories and this has become one of my favourites. It’s based on the diary of an ill-fated professor and his grand nephew, who’s the narrator of the tale. He finds out as much as he can about the ancient one Cthulhu and the place he slumbers, the corpse city of R’lyeh. I won’t spoil anything but it’s a great nighttime read!

Second up was “The Dunwich Horror”. I purchased the Penguin publication edition, which had a collection of other Lovecraft stories included. This tale is of the long forgotten hamlet of Dunwich and its rather backwards inhabitants. There are many old families based in this region, with even older secrets. It introduces another of the ancient ones with their own macabre way of forcing their will upon Dunwich. This story is amazing but the other stories included match up to it incredibly well.

Classic horror fans should really give these books a go! The language is challenging at times but it’s worth persevering with. I highly recommend both.

If you’re a fan of Cthulhu already, what stories would you recommend to our readers?

Malifaux: An Introduction

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Our own wargaming expert Ben is here to introduce the exciting world of Malifaux

Malifaux is a tabletop miniatures game you may have heard of, if not, it’s a game done by Wyrd games, you can check those guys out here

A very simple summary for those that don’t know of Malifaux, it’s a skirmish based, objective driven, strange steam-punk themed game without the use of dice.

For those of you that do know about the game, you may know about me from the various Malifaux things I’m associated with.

So let’s get to the point shall we?

Actually Skirmish

A major issue a lot of people have with tabletop wargames, is the sheer amount of space it takes up.
Now admittedly Malifaux still needs a 3 foot square table to play on typically, maybe even a little more space to keep your stat cards and all those things.
This however is less than the 8*4 that some mass wargames require.

I say “actually” skirmish in reference to the amount of miniatures you need to play a game (note, you’ll want more in your collection, geeks tend to be kleptomaniacs too).

A typical “crew” (what us Malifaux folks refer to our forces as) will have around 8-10 miniatures tops in a standard game, there is the possibility to fit in around 15 miniatures, but I am yet to see it and it probably isn’t advisable.

Now 8-10 miniatures, that is probably obvious to anyone who’s seen Warhammer and the like that it’s a lot less than those games (8-10 doesn’t even make much of a unit in some cases) but actually, even in comparison to a few other skirmish games this is still the low end.

What does that mean?
Well if you’re really into the painting you have a lot less models to paint, but it means you have a lot more time you can realistically spend on them, doing your best work.
I currently am running a painting competition on twitter, each month the category has a theme but has always been single miniature(so far), now even if you only painted for this, you could get a crew done in half a year.
If you dislike painting, then the lack of models you have to bother with is great or cheaper if you’re paying someone else to do it.

Transporting your crew is far simpler, no giant suit cases, smaller ones, that you can even ride the bus with, is possible.
If you don’t mind the larger cases, it’s something you are used to, then you can easily bring a lot of your collection, gives you more options and chances to show other friends.

Investment, when I say this, I don’t mean financially, but emotionally.
Each single miniature will become more important to you, the characters will have a much greater chance for you to be emotionally invested in them, growing in your mind, but that’s the next bit.

The themes and background

Now in the quick intro, I threw out “steam punk”, now where this is the strongest of themes in Malifaux and sets the time period, the characters and themes span a lot more than that.

Steam punk is your thing? Well it may be your bag, we have steam powered robots, clockwork guns, goggles and all.
You like animals? There’s a beast master, who almost has a menagerie rather than a crew, there’s hounds, there is even a master of pigs!

What about Cthulu? I know there’s a lot of geeks out there who love it, well, Malifaux has tentacle monsters like “The Nothing Beast” or even strange amphibious guys like “Silurids”.

Military? Outcasts have the Freikorps.

Ninjas? There’s an Asian themed faction the Ten Thunders.

Zombies? The Resurrectionists.

Little goblin like guys? Well there is the Gremlins.

If that wasn’t enough for you take a look, each of these factions have 7 masters.
Each with their own rich backgrounds and themes, each with their own style and minions that fit better with them.

The stories are so rich in this game, that I would even recommend buying the older books just for background.

It really is very engaging.

Back to the gaming side.

Look ma, no dice!

One of the big things you may already know about Malifaux, or are still taken back by from the intro to this blog, is that the game forgoes the use of dice completely.

Instead of dice, the game uses a deck of cards 4 full suits and 2 jokers for 54 cards.

In the briefest possible way to explain this, rather than having to roll a value on a dice to succeed in an action, the Space Marine needs a 3 or higher to hit his target, you need to flip a card.
Sometimes this is to get a certain number, but more often it’s in addition to your relevant stat vs. your opponents and their deck.
I flip an 8 with my shooting value of 6, my opponent flipped a 2 with their defense of 5.

I hit!

Well, it’s not quite that simple.

First off, the deck has 4 suits (face cards are 11-13), sometimes a more difficult action may require you to flip a specific one of these. Sometimes, flipping a certain suit may give you an additional bonus (a trigger we call it) and not just while attacking.

However, it isn’t just flipping cards, Malifaux, allows you to somewhat control your own fate, with the “control hand”.
Typically you start a turn with 6 cards in your hand, what these cards do is allow you to “cheat fate”.
Mechanically what this means is you can replace the card you flipped with one in your hand.
This is an important resource to use carefully, as you don’t draw a new hand until the next turn in most cases.
What “cheating” can mean though, is you can pass that test you failed, try and out do your opponent in a duel and many more things.
The totals you make matter as the degree of success or failure can sometimes effect further things, like the amount of damage you may be dishing out.

Controlling fate, simply gives you more control in the game.
You can plan a head further (strategy) or mess up your opponents plans on the fly.
Having 4 lots of 1-13 which you are drawing through, also allows you to predict luck a little, rather than just cross fingers and get superstitious.
You can’t have the game where you get only aces (which are ones, which is bad) as there is only 4.

However luck is still a factor, variance can make games fun.

Also, you still have your equivalents to criticals in the form of the Jokers.
Red is good, you will learn to love this card as it is whatever suit you want it to be and counts as a 14 plus a few more benefits, but as quick as you will learn to love the red joker, you will soon despise the Black Joker.
The Black Joker, is zero, no suit, nothing, you can’t cheat fate when it appears and at the wrong time it can mess everything up.
But hey, variance is fun right? Right?

Using cards over dice actually creates a lot more interesting mechanical interactions, but that could do with it’s own blog post one day.

Strategies, Schemes and a whole load of bluffing.

You’ll hear some Malifaux players tell you that you can win the game even if you get tabled, which to the typical wargamer would sound crazy.
I can lose all my figures yet win the game?
The reason for this madness, is actually one of Malifaux is biggest strengths.

It’s scenarios, or Strategies and Schemes.
These are randomized like many other games and give you a lot of variation regardless of how many different opponents or crews you may get to use.

The “strategies” are what you would typically see as the main mission of the game.
The big difference is only 1 of the 5 are solely about killing your opponents crew, the rest are about vying for power of areas, either quarters of the tables, the centre of the board, the typical objective based type things you may see in other games.
This is something both you and your opponent are going for, to score a maximum of 4 points from.

The “schemes” is where everything gets very cool.
First a pool of 5 schemes gets determined at the beginning of the game.
These range from, Assassinating your opponents leader, to framing your one of your opponents models for killing yours, to giving your opponents a cursed object, to planting some evidence, to
Ok I could go on for ages, there is after all, 19 different schemes.

What makes these even cooler and more exciting is two things.
First is the fact that you may have generated 5 schemes, but you are only picking 2, your opponent does not need to pick the same which gives the game some asymmetry to it.
You can pick what you think is easiest, more fun, more thematic, it is entirely up to you.
The second, is that some of the schemes are hidden, only once they are scored are they revealed to your opponent.
This means, your opponent may have to be playing a guessing game and the best bit of that.
You can bluff.

Not only in Malifaux can you bluff powerful cards in your ìcontrol handî but you can pretend to be going for one scheme you actually have no interest in at all.

The schemes themselves are worth up to 3 victory points each, meaning you can score 10 total in a game and the schemes take up the greater part of that.
Some schemes that can be hidden can achieve these higher scores by being revealed, but then, there is no bluffing that.

All in all, the way this mission system is set up, makes the game so diverse and so interesting in comparison to a lot of straight forward and kill games we have out there.

Now this is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it definitely makes it possible, that Malifaux is the best miniatures game out there and more importantly, maybe the right one for you.

Thank you for reading, what is a fairly lengthy “sales pitch” as such.
Malifaux is a fantastic game that has been growing immensely over the past couple of years.
It’s recently had a second edition launch and this has seen the game become even better and even more beginner friendly.

One part I did not mention, was how great the community is for this game.
You’ll be hard pressed to find a group of war gamers more friendly and welcoming than the Malifaux scene.

All I hope is this gives you a spark of interest, maybe just to find out more, maybe to go find your local “Henchman” to run you a demo or maybe even, just to buy some figures and try out the game with some friends.

BYEEEEE
-Ben (@psientologist)

You can find more from Ben at the Malibros or Malifools sites.

Would You Kindly Get Me Into The Gaming Industry?

Today our good friend Nathan introduces us to his first steps on the road to games design.

Since I was young enough to use a mouse and keyboard, I have always enjoyed video games. I can remember playing Doom with my dad when I was very young even though my mother didn’t approve of it. I can still remember the cheat codes and for those of you who don’t know, all weapons, ammo and keys is IDKFA, god mode is IDDQD and level select is IDCLEV (no I didn’t just look them up).I purchased my first Sony Playstation when I was 11, much to the annoyance of my mother, she thought it would be a bad idea and at the time she was probably right. What followed for the next 15 years was the usual cycle of playing games, buying new consoles, LAN parties etc. however all of the above adds up to my love of gaming, whether I am shooting down aliens, jumping across buildings or with friends beating the crap out of each other.

Eventually my love of gaming would lead me into the industry, but it didn’t happen straight away as I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I went to Loughborough university and studied a science and engineering foundation degree that lead me on to a a degree in mechanical engineering. Unfortunately I dropped out after the first few months as I couldn’t handle the work load and started at Loughborough college studying video game design. When I left, I had a pretty awful portfolio so made it impossible to get into the industry. I started a job as a telecommunications engineer and worked there for around 2 and a half years before I realized I wanted to leave and work in the gaming industry. I stumbled upon an article regarding a company called Train2Game and how they get people into the industry. I went to their website and read the articles and testimonials and decided to apply. I didn’t hear anything for 6 months.

I started contemplating going into Cisco networking until I received a telephone call from Train2Game and to be honest, I tried to fob them off at first but then agreed to a telephone interview. I then had a face-to-face interview with a representative from Train2Game and I explained my reservations upon starting the course. He explained that in the surrounding area, 250 people were interviewed over the phone, 15 people were selected for face-to-face interviews and 5 were selected to start the course. He explained that their greatest advertisement were the students that complete the course and obtain a job within the industry. It would’ve been stupid of me not to sign up. So here I am, studying to be a video game producer.

My first assignment was an introduction into a game engine called GameMaker. Here I created a total of 5 different games in order to further my understanding of programming, a point-and-click game, a basic scrolling shooter, a more advanced scrolling shooter, a puzzle/maze game and finally a 2D platform game. All of these allowed me to understand the basic concept of coding as well as problem solving and debugging as to why the game may not work on the first try.

My second assignment was a brief history of video games. Luckily I studied this at college and I had recently watched Charlie Brooker: Videogames Changed the World so I could skim over this chapter quickly. At the end I had a multiple choice test to complete and I am waiting on the results at the moment. When I receive them I will let you all know and hopefully continue on the path that will lead me into the industry and hopefully become one of the best video game producers in the industry.

Nathan

Don’t Bother Mate

Batman is hands down my favourite superhero, possibly my favourite character in fiction, and I’m fairly sure I’m not alone in thinking that. Most people that have met me know that. I once drunkenly gave my very patient girlfriend what can only be described as a 45 minute lecture on why Batman is so brilliant. Lucky girl.

It all started when I was very young, watching Batman the Animated Series (I still hear Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill when reading the comics). I was so taken with the show, that for a piece of early classwork that I recently dug out from around age 7 I basically state that I prefer the Dark Knight to my parents. Priorities. Then for a while I must have become more interested in something else, being a fickle child (I think it was Power Rangers), until about 10 years ago when I started getting into the comics and films in a big way.

I remember soon after Batman Begins came out, making the character credible in the cinema again, standing in line to see one of my favourite bands. The lead singer was hanging around outside chatting to people he knew behind us, including us along too, and he had just bought a book with a photo of Bale’s Batman on the front. He pointed out that Batman doesn’t really need to do anything because he looks so badass, then held up the photo in front of his own face and said “Don’t bother mate.”

I think the main appeal of the character comes from the distinction between Bats and his superhero counterparts, in that Bruce Wayne is ostensibly just a man, and yet he fights crime and often super-powered villains just as well as any big blue boy scout, Amazonian princess or power ring wielding arsehole. This is captured well in one of my favourite moments in Grant Morrison’s huge run in the comics following the events of ‘Batman R.I.P.’. He gets a priority call from the Justice League (leading up to the series ‘Final Crisis’), despite having just been buried alive, nearly drowned and forced to rely on a back-up personality he prepared in advance just in case he was mentally compromised. Just before heading out to an even worse fate, he tells the readers that ‘I’ve worked so hard to gain their respect, they sometimes forget I’m flesh and blood’.

That’s the crux of it, being mortal somehow makes being Batman an attainable thing, even though it absolutely isn’t. People (yes, I am people) like to think that if they had preposterous wealth, took a gap year or two to train to be a ninja, replaced sleep with working out and read a f**kload of Sherlock Holmes that they could be Batman. The same can’t be said about Superman, even though the characters are equally fictitious. This is of course ridiculous, but it does make the character more appealing. You would also have to be a lunatic to dress like a bat and want to be a vigilante every night and day.

DC comics have clearly realised that Batman is their main money maker. The Nolan films were hugely successful (even if the third one was a bit of a mess), and they certainly seem keen to get a new iteration on the big screen as soon as possible. It certainly helps that the main Batman title from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo is f*****g great every month, and tends to outsell most other titles on the stands. There seems to be a lot more going on this year too, being the 75th anniversary of the character’s first appearance in Detective Comics #27 way back in 1939 (just a year after Superman). That’s a hell of a long legacy for any character.

So there are some reasons why I love Batman. To the extent that I got a tattoo of the symbol 2 years ago, and have yet to regret that decision at all. Maybe someday I will stop enjoying the comics so much, and I’ll look at it and think ‘what a moron’. But I hope not, because that would be boring.

Also, the animated series completely holds up on rewatching. It is f*****g brilliant.

Adam

The Real Folk Blues

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I really struggle with lists. Desert island discs; top-fives; to-do lists; for whatever reason there is always a part of them I just can’t finish. With to-do lists I never have enough time to do everything, especially the important stuff like work or cleaning myself, so I inevitably put extra tasks on like ‘read new Justice League’ or ‘have a sandwich’ so I get some sense of achievement. Desert island discs I always think this will be dead easy. I know the bands I want, but then get stumped as to which of their albums I’d want to spend my days listening to while I cultivate my beard and yell at a volleyball.

Top fives are the worst, being too restrictive. I try to distil all of my favourite films, bands, video games, types of bacon or lengths of string into five measly choices and even then I can’t rank them. I usually just give up and say “these five, in some discernable order. No follow up questions”, failing even to decide what would top each list as it is so interchangeable. This is almost entirely true for my top five anime series of all time (I’ll save that attempt for a later post), except for that last part – I do know my number one: Cowboy Bebop.

Cowboy Bebop is a 26 episode series originally broadcast in Japan in 1998 by Sunrise, directed by Shinchirō Watanabe. Set in the year 2071, it follows a crew of bounty hunters aboard the spaceship Bebop as they take jobs around the solar system. The crew itself is a small eclectic (but still relatively standard) mix with Spike Spiegel, a former member of crime syndicate; Jet Black, an ex-detective; Faye Valentine, another bounty hunter they pick up on the way; Radical Edward, a master hacker; and Ein, a ‘data dog’. Throughout the series the characters have their back stories fleshed out always to exactly the right amount of detail, with their individual mysteries and motivations never becoming the focus of each player unless the episode calls for it. But each member of the Bebop still gets an arc that develops fully and feels genuine. It also, in my opinion, has one of those perfect endings, leaving you immensely satisfied but simultaneously wanting more.

The tone of the show can shift from quirky fun (there is an entire episode about the crew getting off their faces on mushrooms) to more serious noir-esque episodes, and it is consistently slick and stylish as hell. All the good stuff is in there too – life and death, drugs , tech cults, terrorism, people being kicked in the face, existentialism, a scene where a man uses a lift while on horseback, chess and bloody crime syndicates.  The animation still looks good 15 years on, with some great looking fight scenes and dogfights in space. It also remains one of the very few animes where I actually prefer the English dub too (the other probably being Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex), the entire cast really brings their characters to life.

Special mention definitely needs to go out to the music too, which is a brilliant mix of jazz and blues that always suits the tone and is a constant delight throughout, right up to the final confrontation. The music was arranged by Yoko Kanno and played by her along with The Seatbelts, a band basically created by Kanno for the series. It is a constant delight throughout, and the opening theme ‘Tank!’ remains one of my favourite starts to any show which I never find myself wanting to skip no matter how many times I hear it.

I really can’t express the love I have for the show. My screen name on everything from playstation network to Twitter is based on it. If you haven’t seen it, track it down on all the normal internet based retailers, or for an unnecessary mark-up if you can actually find it on the high street. The series is actually being released on Blu-ray, and I am going to have to have words with myself about whether or not buying it is a good idea (even though the boxset I already own is gorgeous). It is a great, self-contained show, and while I say it definitely should never be continued as it is perfect the way it is, I know I’m lying and would love to see more (though you can always check out the film, which is also great but with even better animation).

See you space cowboy…

Adam

The Woes of a Healer

In her first article for The Lost Lighthouse Kii helps us through the essential MMO role that is The Healer! Have you ever dropped dead in the middle of a dungeon in World of Warcraft? Ganked in mid lane during Ranked on League of Legends? Who you gonna blame? The Healer! Sometimes healing is just too hard and us Support players like to take naps. Here’s a quick list of things you can do so you don’t die and make your support cry.

KiiHealerAntimony     KiiHealerSoraka     KiiHealerLulu

  • Don’t be a d**k – Trust me, nobody likes healing a player who’s spouting abuse at anything that moves. Want HP? Keep your NOOBs at home.
  • Don’t be stupid, even game lives are precious – Some of us can’t heal you fast enough if you run forward, naked and alone into the entire enemy team.
  • Do listen to OOM – When your healer declares Out Of Mana, it’s time to be careful as they can do shit all to help you now.
  • Don’t be a d**k.
  • Do cover objectives instead of just playing Deathmatch – If you’re meant to be clearing out mobs, protecting a gate or pushing some form of button then f*****g do it! If you just try and kill enemy players all the time you’ll never get anywhere. Also you’ll probably die a lot and everybody will hate you.
  • Do think of your positioning – Most games run on the design that the healer will be behind the damage dealer. If you stay behind your support then they will be in the line of fire. Healers are weaklings and will squish up and die. Then you have no support and you will squish up and die.

DON’T BE A D**K. Kii