Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Vision Issue 211

Note: My articles were a good deal longer, but ended up being compressed to fit the guest article on the page. Thing is; I didn't save the extended versions. I'm a idiot! =D

Reach For the Stars Tonight - Sonic Colours (Wii)
The modern gaming era has not been kind to Sonic. Depending on whom you ask, some will say the day the blue hedgehog appeared in 3D was the day the Sonic franchise died. Though you could argue that Sonic in his Sega Genesis days was far from perfect (but offered a certain polish the later games lacked); recent games have undeniably been dancing around a general theme of "enjoyable, but mediocre".

So when Sonic Team's newest project - Sonic Colours was announced at last year's E3 - the responses of Sonic fans and regular gaming enthusiasts alike were just that little bit tepid.

Previous Sonic games had generated a large amount of hype in the developmental stages; often claming to recapture some of that elusive game design magic the Genesis games were said to have; but upon release smacked of disappointment and missed opportunities. This happened with such regularity that the process was dubbed by fans as "The Sonic Cycle".

Now that Sonic Colours has been released into our anticipating - yet wary - midst; I can say with relief that it's finally a solidly-made and fun to play Sonic game. Which doesn't sound like overwhelming praise; but it's definitely a good step in the right direction.

This time around Sonic has gatecrashed a gigantic outer-space theme park; created by evil genius Dr. Eggman. Refusing to believe that his long-time rival has actually turned over a new leaf; he finds out that among the rollercoasters and ferris wheels is a plot to capture alien life-forms called Wisps - who hold the secret to an incredible power source.

As cheesy as the plot is; it results in a game that relishes in not taking itself seriously. The planets the theme park's made up of are vibrant and expansive (an aesthetic lovingly lifted from the Mario Galaxy games); and utterly breathtaking to dash about in. There's nothing like tearing around Sweet Mountain - a planet made entirely of cake, gingerbread, and oversized doughnuts - while the jazzy, upbeat soundtrack accopanies.
When it comes down to gameplay ideas, Colours has that covered too. Stages frequently switch between speedy into-the-screen dashing and slower, more methodical side-scrolling. Some levels require more planning and forethought to complete in one piece; not to mention a decent score.

The Wisps also add to how the game handles; certain colours of Wisps transform Sonic to allow him shortcuts. The Cyan Laser ricochets off enemies and through wires; the Yellow Drill plows through soft ground and underwater; the Green Hover serenely drifts you to high-up areas; with more powers besides. It's a great system - experimenting with your Wisps rewards you with collectables and adds longevity to the game; as does the intentionally retro Co-Op mode, complete with chiptune music remixes of the soundtrack.

As for downsides, Sonic's floaty physics can make him hard to control initially, until you get the hang of things. The game's intentionally childish nature make some cutscenes overly camp. Many deaths can occur from an awkward jump, or a Wisp power not working as intended; which can be frustrating. But persevere - Sonic Colours is well worth your time. The Sonic Cycle has been broken.

Nerds only? Not really...
"I'm such a nerd," he said as we sat in The Courtyard, both of us munching on burgers. "I've spent so much time playing Pokémon HeartGold; my house mates totally don't approve."
I blinked in surprise. I wasn't expecting the conversation to turn to video games. Outside of a certain crowd, bringing up gaming often feels like some kind of filthy taboo.
"I get what you mean," I replied. "Ever since Fable III was released, I've just burned so much time on it." An awkward pause hung in the air; and a puzzled look crossed his face.
"What's 'Fable'?"

Maybe I expected too much - even if he did self-profess to be a "nerd"; it's now cool to identify as one - whether it's true or not. I guess we have Scott Pilgrim to thank for that. It sounds incredibly pretentious to assume that only a special few can discuss your hobby; but despite the best interests of many, gaming (as compared to books or movies) is still something of a niche interest. And that's just a little bit unfair.

Enthusiasm for a film you've watched or an album you've listened to - even when the listener hasn't - isn't a conversation breaker; but an attempt to discuss a game can often be swatted aside with a "Sorry, I'm not into games," leaving the conversation cold, and the speaker feeling like more than a bit of a loser.
It might be something of a pipe dream to picture a world where games are treated socially the same way as any other media (though let's not get into a "are games art?"-type discussion here, they don't end well); but there has to be a solution we can use.

Firstly, it's up to us gamers to talk about interesting games. No one is going to care about your World of Warcraft raid, nor know what "Kill:Death Ratio" is. If talking about different games assists in you discovering new genres or old classics - so much the better.

Secondly, all you non-gamers out there: please don't run a mile when someone brings up their PS3, or new favouite game. We're sharing it because you might find it interesting! If it's something new to you; take comfort in learning something new about pop culture.

Finally, it's down to the game developers and producers to release interesting games to play. Call of Duty: Black Ops is a good game, but it has little in the way of discussion scope for people who haven't played it. Remember when The Sims was a new phenomenon? There was near infinite potential to chat and laugh about the TV Drama-like events that the game offered - and it was so accessible that near everyone played it.

So take my advice - be proud of your hobbies and interests, if they're as worthwhile as you feel they are; others will take interest. And please don't feign 'gamer-cred' by calling yourself a nerd. It's a bit embarrassing.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Vision Issue 210

Since it's a new year, I decided to give the page a stylistic revamp. It's nothing special; but I think the design is just that liiitle bit closer to Wired's design ethos. God, I love those guys.

Snow, Sleds & Space Aliens
The Christmas season is approaching, and it's the best time for games companies to bring out some of their big projects - though not all of them manage to do so in time. Nathan Blades gets stuck into four of the big name releases for you to anticipate on those lonely winter nights...

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
Ubisoft - PS3/360/PC
Now a well-established series, Assassin's Creed has now been polished to a sheen. Both the graphics and the gameplay have been upgraded since its previous incarnation - running across rooftops and plunging into bales of hay from dizzying heights has never looked so good, or been so easy to pull off.
And a good thing too, as the multiplayer mode offered will require all your skills. Put up against other assassins; you're given 'hits' to perform, sneaking up on your target, and taking them out with minimal fuss; all the while dodging those who're on your tail. It's a fun mixture of elaborate parkour to jump around the map, and patient stealth - blending in with the street rabble so your foes walk past.
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood releases 16 November 2010.

Kirby's Epic Yarn
Nintendo - Wii
Kirby is adorable. In almost every game he has been a part of, he spreads both irresistable charm and emasculating cuteness. The games in question tend not to be very difficult - but the presentation and fun factor more than make up for it. Epic Yarn takes this to the extreme, with its beautiful art style. It discards the idea of hyper-realistic graphics, and fills your television screen with wonderfully animated cloth and string.
Instead of using his well known copying abilities, Kirby instead pulls apart the scenery and enemies using the string he's made out of. Reducing obstacles to scraps of fabric and buttons is incredibly satisfying - and that feeling is doubled in Two-Player mode. In an interesting design choice, you are unable to die - getting hit or falling off-screen just reduces your score - but the decision strangely works. Even the threat of death won't stop Kirby from charming you and your friends. Scary.
Kirby's Epic Yarn has an unconfirmed release date, but will be out before Christmas.

Dead Space 2
EA - PS3/360/PC
I am probably not the best person to be reviewing a game like Dead Space. Not so much because it's a horror game; more because I am entirely awful at Shooters. I cannot aim for the life of me. This made the initial Dead Space something of a trial to play, and this sequel is little different.
The excellent aesthetic design is suspenseful - engines hum, gas hisses from pipes, and odd dents and scratches mark the walls. The combat is still visceral and chunky (stomping on an alien corpse, complete with thudding squishing sound effects is oddly cathartic), but the set pieces don't change if you walk through the same area twice - eliminating the suspense.
There are new enemy types, and lead character Isaac gets some hover boots to play with, but if the first game didn't pique your interest, Dead Space 2 won't sway you.
Dead Space 2 releases 28 January 2011.

Marvel Vs. Capcom 3
Capcom - PS3/360/ARC
As a genre, Fighting games can be difficult to get in to. Fans of the genre tend to be incredibly competitive; making it hard for newcomers to find a place to get started. This makes the Marvel Vs. Capcom series just a little bit special; it's design giving experts an in-depth system to chew on, and newbies the opportunity to tear faces off as Wolverine, or fill them full of bullets as Dante from Devil May Cry.
The game is still incomplete - the version I played had a limited character roster. Capcom's been leaking new characters on the internet to drum up interest. It's definitely been working, at least for me. Spider-Man and Arthur (Ghosts & Goblins) are joining the fray, but some of the veterans from past games, like Gambit, are said to not be returning, which is a damn shame.
At time of writing, Marvel Vs Capcom 3 has an unconfirmed release date. Get it together, Capcom!

Fear and Loathing in Isshu: Pokémon Black & White
Not soon after Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver were released in the UK, Nintendo started releasing information on their newest PokéProject - Black & White. After 5 months of internet leaks and press releases, the 5th Generation of Pokémon has hit the stores in Japan. Touted as a 'reboot' to the main series, Black & White take place in the all new region of Isshu; a fantastical representation of America, rather than the Japanese-based locations of the previous games. Casinos, skyscrapers, and basketball players await.

To go along with it are a new set of 156 Pokémon, protagonists that are actually older than 10, and a plot more complicated than a straightforward quest to beat 8 Gym Leaders and thwart the criminal organization du jour. Yes, Pokémon has finally decided to grow up with us - which can be a little conflicting for some. For a lot of people, Pokémon began and ended with Pokémon Red and Blue, and so the hundreds of new beasts and locations are entirely lost on them. If you're one of those people, I implore you to get with the program! Contrary to what you might think, what Pokémon (and games in general) have become won't be alienating to the fond memories of your youth.

That's not to say the core that made the original Red and Blue so enjoyable has changed. You've still gotta catch 'em all, you still get a rush from battling your captured minions with friends, and the number crunching behind the fights is still slick and complex. As for what kind of new Pokémon are appearing this time around - I'm personally quite impressed. They span from a gigantic electrical tarantula, to a bull with a gigantic afro, to an Ice type that looks amusingly similar to an oversized ice cream cone.

Another new feature is the Dream World, a game mode that is actually separate from the DS game itself, and is played on your PC. You can transfer your beloved monsters to the vastness of the internet, and play bonus minigames. Prizes include almost every Pokémon from the earlier games - so even in 2010, you can still have access to Charizard and Mewtwo. Praise be to Nintendo.
Pokémon Black & White have already been released in Japan. The EU release is slated for summer next year.

Nathan Blades

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

6 Types of Gamer

Note: This article was written with York University in mind, meaning it makes a few references to Societies and places that might not make as much sense otherwise. Also, the badass artwork was drawn by a dude called Drinks; who has a DeviantArt account. Check him out and stuff.

Playing video games as a hobby is big. Bigger than you'd expect.Enthusiasts span so many social scenes and preferences, you can never be sure if the person you're chatting to is one of those 'Gamers' you hear so much about. But never fear! I'll share with you some of my never-before-seen research on some of the many species of Gamer in existence, and where to find them in York. Happy Hunting!

"Retro Gamer" (Nostalgia Oldschoolus)
Clinging on to the remnants of Gaming's past, Retro Gamers eschew the modern releases for the nostalgic games of their youth. Depending on how old the Retro Gamer is, what qualifies as old-school enough varies. As a rule of thumb, if you play it on a cartridge, you're in the right era.
Appearance: The Retro Gamer proudly displays graphic tees displaying their gaming heritage. Alas, no one considers a t-shirt that says "Two Girls, 1-Up" to be tasteful. Ever.
Games of Choice: The classics of yesteryear (Mischief Makers [N64], Snatcher [MSX], Super Metroid [SNES])
Indie Games that embrace retro elements (Cave Story [PC/WII], La Mulana [PC/WII], Braid [360/PS3/PC])
Where Found: Trawling Gamestation and the Market for rare Second-Hand gems. But since game stores are stocking games from old platforms less and less these days, Retro Gamers are most likely resort to eBay instead.
Do Say: "I still own a Super Nintendo."
Don't Say: "Music in Videogames is just beeps and bloops."

"The Competitive" (Metagameus Antiscrub)
These guys don't just play games for fun, they play to win. The best scores, the best Kill:Death ratio and of course the best computer are all accolades to be reached - and then rubbed in the faces of those beneath them. Not bad people, just rather over-enthusiastic (and often 'sore winners').
Appearance: The Competitive tends to put comfort over fashion in their standard attire. If it's black or baggy, they own it.
Games of Choice: First Person Shooters (Team Fortress 2 [PC], Halo Reach [360], Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 [360/PS3/PC])
Fighting (Super Street Fighter 4 [360/PS3], King of Fighters XII [360/PS3], Blazblue: Continuum Shift [360/PS3])
Where Found: Competitives are more prevailant online than in real life, but we have our own group of them as Frag Soc.
Do Say: "What's your Gamerscore on Xbox Live?"
Don't Say: "Dude, it's just a game..."

Japanophile Gamer (Pokii Kawaiius)
Overlapping with the other popular nerdy interest in watching Anime and reading Manga, the Japanese Gamer has a heavy interest in all things from the land of the Rising Sun. But sometimes they can take it to an extreme and be a bit incomprehensible to others. But don't fear! I'm sure they have the best intentions... most of the time.
Appearance: Females wear bright colours to attact mates. Males may lean towards the overly tight or overly elaborate. Large gatherings of Japanese Gamers result costmes reflecting widely worshipped figures in their society, including "Naruto", "Link", and "Solid Snake".
Games of Choice: Japanese RPGs (Final Fantasy IX [PS1], Persona 4 [PS2], Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep [PSP])
Where Found: If York had an Arcade, they'd be there. Otherwise found in Oriental restaurants. Weekly gatherings at the Anime & Manga Society.
Do Say: "Goku could totally destroy Superman in a fight."
Don't Say: "Superman could totally destroy Goku in a fight."

Casual Gamer (Socialite Neophyte)
Will only play games from time to time, maybe even keeping the hobby a semi-secret. But when it comes to their game of choice, a whole different side is revealed; one that played Plants Vs. Zombies for 15 hours straight one weekend... Male variant is actually somewhat less prevalent these days, and favours the latest FIFA or Call of Duty release to Wii Sports and Super Smash Bros.
Appearance: Masters of blending in, they look just like everyone else.
Games of Choice: Multiplayer/Party Games (Mario Kart Wii [WII], Rock Band 3 [To Be Released, PS3/360/WII])
Sports (FIFA 2011 [MULTI], NBA Jam [MULTI], Pro Evo 2011 [MULTI])
Where Found: Find any large group of people, and there'll be a Casual Gamer hid among them somewhere. Can be found playing a DS or PSP while on the bus or train, secretly hoping someone will ask them what game they're playing.
Do Say: "Let's have a few drinks at my place and play Wii Sports."
Don't Say: "You wouldn't be interested in this game; it's kind of obscure."

High Fantasy Gamer (Tolkinus Eladrin)
The Proto-Gamer; this species has been around before video games even existed. Often enjoying the escapism of fantasy settings as opposed to competitive elements or an inherent sexy/gore factor. They tend to keep to themselves a lot, but are friendly enough.
Appearance: Trenchcoats. Big-brimmed hats. If it's imposing and dramatic, it'll be favoured. They'd wear full-plate armour to lectures, if they could get away with it.
Games of Choice: Western RPGs (Fallout New Vegas [360], Mass Effect 2 [360/PS3], Dragon Age: Origins [360/PS3])
Traditional and Paper Games (Dungeons & Dragons, Magic: The Gathering, Scrabble)
Where Found: Fairly shy towards those outside their Species, most are found in hobby shops (such as the Travelling Man), while a few select individuals may be found in open fields, hitting eachother with foam weapons. Approach these with light caution, lest you be mistaken for an Orc and (harmlessly) clubbed into submission. Can be found as part of the SciFi & Fantasy Society, natch.
Do Say: "Is that a d20 in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?"
Don't Say: "Sci-Fi and Fantasy are pretty much the same thing, right?"

"The Neckbeard" (Repulsus Trollia)
A thankfully minor Species, the The Neckbeard takes their Gaming hobby to the point of elitism.
Appearance: Poor amount of attention paid to appearance (and possibly hygeine); identifiable by a scraggly beard going beyond the chin and starting to take over the neck. Consequently, there are extremely few female Neckbeards. It is unknown if this is the cause or the result of Neckbeard behaviour.
Games of Choice: Varies, but The Neckbeard will be guaranteed to say a harsh thing or two about the games you enjoy.
Where Found: Incredibly rare to find in the wild; will barely ever stray from their cave. However, they are incredibly prevailant on the Internet. Will either be extremely hostile or extremely skittish if approached.
Do Say: ~Data Unknown~
Don't Say: Most discussion will incite sudden rage or fear in a Neckbeard.

And here's the article in Published form. It's abridged somewhat:

Monday, 4 October 2010

A Height I Cannot Reach

I'll be frank - I cannot play First Person Shooters to save my life. Never have. Way back when, in the days where I went to a friend's house after school every day to play on his N64; our sessions of Perfect Dark consisted of him using me as target practice, and me just running around blindly into walls.

Nine years later, and that's not improved any. Aside from a short stint playing Team Fortress 2, my gaming diet has been pretty much FPS free. But the other day things came to a head when my housemate brought forth a game. A game that I thought I had no right playing.

Halo Reach.

Having literally no experience of the Halo series other than the words of its fanbase (which consists mostly of racial and sexual epithets, or so I'm told), I had no real idea of what to expect. We sat down and started the Campaign Co-Op mode. On Easy. If I'm to have the game bend me over backwards, I'd prefer it do so a bit gently, at least to start with.

I was honestly and pleasantly surprised. Being the fourth game in the series, I could feel the refinement the game offered, the kind of straightforwardness you get from developers having made the same gameplay experience over and over. That didn't stop me from struggling to aim properly, though. Compared to my gaming partner, who coolly landed all the headshots and snagged the best weapons, I got by with haphazard sprays of gunfire and hiding whenever the larger monsters with the laser swords (or worse, laser war axes) entered the fray.
What probably impressed me the most was how every so often there would be a change in gameplay to prevent things from getting too stale. This is a gameplay tactic that's the bread and butter of some game genres (What would a Zelda game be without the new items you gain, and the shifts in puzzles that go with them?), but one that I don't think appears in Shooters too often. What else could you do in a Shooter other than, well... shoot? Or hide behind cover? Turns out I can ride in silly sci-fi vehicles, man the gattling guns in a helicopter, and my favourite - pilot a combat spaceship and discharge lasers and missiles in all directions. I adored the space segments, and was a little disappointed when it only lasted 15 minutes. I was even more crestfallen when I eventually found out that this gameplay style wasn't available in online multiplayer.

On the other hand, a lot of things about the workings of the game didn't gel well with me; the story the Campaign follows being the main point. With Halo Reach being a prequel to the first game, the plot is sets in motion (and what it leads up to) meant very little to me. I can feel the character design actively trying to shy away from the "gruff, bald, space marine" stereotype the genre and setting is often lumped with, but making the player character female seemed like a weak way to solve the issue, especially when they followed it up by giving the occasional close up of her rubber-clad buttocks every few cutscenes. Otherwise, everyone felt somewhat distant and unlikeable. The segregation between what can happen in a cutscene and what can happen in-game is also really jarring. In one scene, a character is flung from space to a planet's surface and survivives. You'd be lucky to survive a drop of 20ft when playing.
The other thing that pushed me away from the game was more or less just how bad I was at it. The Campaign (at least on Co-Op Mode) is very forgiving when it comes to player death. You will respawn next to your team mate (who is consequently an exact clone of you. The plot and the other characters make no reference to this, which I find incredibly amusing); and should you both bite the dust, the game resumes at the last checkpoint reached without fanfare or penalty. This was great in that it actually let me finish the Campaign, but the cycle of Combat, Damage, Death, Repeat started wearing away on my patience around three quarters of the way into the game; once your foes realise that all their forces are being wiped out by just two people, and bring out the big guns.

All in all, the level of polish the game has, both in graphics and gameplay are incredibly impressive - and show off just how skilled of developers Bungie are, but even after exposing myself to The Way of the FPS for hours straight, I still have my inhibitions to the genre. I've not been won over just yet. But there is one notion that Halo Reach has impressed on me -

More games need to have their weakest enemies explode into confetti when defeated in one hit. I cannot think of a single game that this feature would not improve.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Games Banner Evolution

Just a small bonus post. When coming up with the new banner design for the York Vision games page, I experimented a little to see if I came up with a style I liked. There are a few images that predate the ones shown here, but they've unfortunately gotten lost in the depths of the internet and office servers.

These two were my first designs. They don't really pay much attention to page width, and the characters on the side would end up stretching into the body of the page...

The waves were a bit too uniform, so I went for something more customised - a chain of 'nodes' and connecting lines intertwining with eachother. Amusingly, I got this idea from a Pokémon Card. The character now has a pattern of circles to be propped on, and to give them a bit a framing.

The basic finished design. I removed a layer of Nodes since it looked to cluttered, and changed the font. The font coloring was taken from Digi-Boy on the right, but they later became a fixed scheme on subsequent banners, and for headings in articles themselves.

The Finished design, set to fit the page dimensions of the newspaper, and at a resolution Adobe InDesign would like. The pattern of the Nodes had to be extended so it fit right across the page.

Article Catchup: York Vision Issue 208

The last of the articles I've written this year, and what will be my penultimate issue with York Vision.

This was to be another issue with a guest writer; but that entirely fell through - and very close to the dealine, leaving things in a bit of a hazardous state.

The main deal with this issue was the report on E3, but due to the sheer scale of content that took place during the Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft conferences (saying nothing of the conferences held by other publishers), there was no way I'd be able to cram in all the information I wanted to discuss; especially not on a single page. I will post the extended versions of the conference reports on here.

The Paper Mario article was a replacement for the AWOL entry from the guest writer; and honestly isn't anything outstanding. I found out here that the way Adobe InDesign deals with cutting out images is in no way Sprite-friendly. I had to take steps to make sure the edges of Mario and friends weren't prematurely sliced off.

Article Catchup: York Vision Issue 207

It's a miracle this article turned out how it did. Although I planned for the content in advance (A mixture of being able to do my own research at a gaming expo event, and holding another brainstorming session at The Spriters Resource Community), when it came to production week, I had fallen very ill. I dragged myself to the offices to get some of the work done - and succeeded - but it was with barely any of the formatting and style that I normally try to put into my work. Things looked pretty dire.

Fortunately, the Editor who ranked above me was able to work on the page in my absence, and saved it from being a complete train wreck. I was eventually able to get my shit sorted, and added the formatting finishing touches. You can tell that some of the layout features aren't in my usual style, but in a way it makes the page look even fresher. The background gradient turned out way too desaturated though.

While I do complain about my situation in York Vision, there were at least one or two people who cared enough to look out for me. I'm lucky.

Article Catchup: York Vision Issue 206

By this point I had settled into a rhythm with making pages for the paper. While the placement of the content varied from issue to issue, a lot of the basic templating carried over, making the construction of new pages a fairly speedy process.

Since the main draw of the issue was the Pokémon HeartGold & SoulSilver review, the Banner for the page was added to include a Pokéball, and featured a vector art of Rotom by Raylax. (The man has some skills, mad props to him).

The Pokémon review was nothing special. Compared to other publications (y'know, the ones people pay for and actually read), they had much more time and space to go into a fair bit more detail about the game than I did, which is probably the most crippling restriction with only having a single page to work with every issue. My main aim was to appeal to the people who haven't played the games - or maybe who only played the first generation of Pokémon installments - to give this new game a try. I never saw anyone with a Pokéwalker around after this got published; so I suppose I failed.

The Beat Hazard Vs. Audiosurf article was fun to write. The hardest part was fitting all the information on the page in an attractive way; especially with trying to cram screenshots of both games on there. What I ended up with wasn't haf bad, in my opinion.

Article Catchup: York Vision Issue 205

Now that I'd managed to get an entire page published on my own, it was time to step up my game. Issue 204 looked good (at least to me), but there were flaws. Although the page looked good on the screen, a lot of the images came out blurry and at a low resolution. The circuit board background was light enough to have the text above it readable, but it could still have done with tweaking.

I took these flaws on board, and corrected them with Issue 205. As a result, this one is probably my favourite in terms of layout. With the old format established by the previous Editor kicked to the curb, I was free to go for column articles, and features of varying lengths. The banner and background adapted to a different colour completely flawlessly. Changing the colours cheme was as easy as cake, and made the page look brand new each time.

This issue was to feature a guest writer, and has since been the only issue to do so. His original request was to do a review (Bioshock 2) which would have been an incredible help; I didn't have easy access to an Xbox 360 or a PS3 at the time, so he could appeal to an audience I could not. However, it turned out that he canceled on this idea at the last moment, and instead submitted AtmosFEAR. The article was fine (if wordy); but it left me in a hard-pressed position to come up with a review.

Therefore, the Ace Attourney Investigations review didn't arrive in best condition, and actually made print with a few bad typos still intact. It was all horribly embrassing.

The Co-Op gaming article was much better. The 5 games were thought up between me and the (mostly) lovely members of The Spriters Resource Community. Playing with a friend is quite possibly the greatest joy in gaming for me, and this article reflected that.

Article Catchup: York Vision Issue 204

This Issue is where I became the main Editor for the Games Page on the York Vision newspaper - at least partially because no one else was interested in doing the job. A bit of a hollow victory; but it meant that I now had full stylistic reign over the page; and I was completely set on changing the old ugly format that existed before.

The great thing to come out of this was that I now was having my photoshop and graphical design skills tested, along side my writing. Taking on a position with the newspaper is something that I am never going to regret - I've improved so many skills!

The order of the day was to come up with a design that was simple, modern, and clean; but also reflected the gaming aspect the page was about. I tried out a few test designs (Which, have since probably have gotten lost in the aether...); and settled on the 'node' design below. The way it was set up meant that I could change the colour scheme and the character on the right at will.

The texture at the bottom was taken from www.cgtextures.com, referred to me by an internet friend; and it's definitely helped me with various photoshoppery since.

I'm very happy with the articles in this one. Torchlight is a great game produced by a small, not very well-known company. While a lot of student gamers may be using Steam as a vehicle for playing PC games, not all of them might be aware of the hidden gems that it sells.

The interview with Tyvon Thomas is the first professional interview I've ever done, and it was a total thrill. Since then, his site has grown a lot! Head over to www.pixelxcore.net and check it out. Tell 'em GrooveMan sent you.

Article Catchup: York Vision Issue 202

It's been a while since I update here last, but I've definitely not stopped writing. I've finished an entire year working for the York Vision newspaper; and as such I've racked up a nice collection of articles.

Some of these articles I have saved .jpg copies of, so you can see the layouts of the pages too.

This issue, 208, is one of the earlier papers back when I wasn't the main editor for the games page. This meant that I had no say over the stylistic choices for the layout, which was... pretty bad.

The decision to do Style Boutique/Style Savvy as a review largely spawned from a dare imposed by a friend. After trying it out, I found it to be a really unique experience; so doing a review of something outside my gaming comfort zone sounded like something special. I'm happy with how the article itself turned out - even if the badly stretched images pretty much ruin the final piece.

The Gaming Cookbook  feature I've already posted here - this was the issue it was meant to be a part of. It's nothing special - and in retrospect, not as funny as I thought it was. Ho hum.

As a side note, I'd actually produced images for both of my articles to appear in this issue, but they weren't included in this version of the page. Before this issue went to print I was able to restructure the Style Boutique article to have better-fitting images and the image I took.