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Alan Stock

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    Games, Photography, Travelling, Films, Clubbing, Dog's bottoms.

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  1. Alan Stock

    Battlestar Galactica - American series viewers

    Yeah my work colleagues introduced me to the board game back in the day, it's ace. The players play co-operatively against the Cylons but one or more players can actually secretly be Cylons themselves. Then their job is for the other players to lose, which means acting very sneakily to try and get them to make bad decisions, and also choosing when to reveal themselves (usually in mighty acts of sabotage). Even better as the game goes on other people can also "discover" they are cylons so just like the show, you may end up being a good guy at the start and a bad guy by the end! Highly recommended, though you do need at least 4 people to get the most out of it due to the betrayal.
  2. Alan Stock

    Battlestar Galactica - American series viewers

    Just finished a rewatch of the series as I bought it for my dad for xmas, and then decided I couldn't wait to watch it again either! It's still really good, even when you know about most of the main plot points. I'd forgotten a bunch of the twists which was nice. It's a weird show in that it bounces between pure brilliance and excellent writing, to dull as crap episodes and really cheesy TV show moments and sets. The emphasis on Baltar's cylon head lady and the cheesy adventures of Halo on earth still annoys me in the first few series, and of course it went downhill season 3 onwards. However I agree with a review of the series I read recently - when you know in advance the direction that the plot goes in S3/4, it's not as disappointing as the first time around. Still you can't help feel a bit gutted that they only managed to keep the raw quality for just a fraction of the final two seasons. At least season 1 and 2 are for the most part tense, full of twists and have a great premise in a constant cylon threat and the social and logistical needs of keeping the fleet alive. The last few series are still full of great character moments but the whole thing drags on full of way too many flashbacks and vision sequences, instead of actual plot. On the plus side the acting is still amazing and the characters are put in some great situations to test their loyalties and beliefs. There's some good action as well. These days the cylon robot CGI looks pretty crap (and cheesy in design), but the space battles hold up brilliantly. The camerawork and overall shot direction is great throughout. I could have stopped midway through Season 3 but the truth is that I had it S3/4 on in the background when I was working, yet I still ended up a number of times having to pause an episode and watch it later because I wanted to give it my full attention (even in Season 4). One of the big problems is definitely the filler episodes (presumably due to the writers strike). Yeah it's interesting to learn about the character's pasts and side stories but not for whole episodes, and the number of flashback back and forth within the same episodes gets old really fast. Minor Spoilers: Stuff like Kara and her mum, Kara and piano man, Bill Adama and his dead wife, Sam's relationship with Kara (Sam is such a dull character as it is), Apollo's hostage adventure, Apollo's black market adventure, Baltar's constant flashbacks and visions, the bloody opera house scenes we see 10 thousand times which ultimately doesn't seem to lead to anything. Lee and Kara's on-off relationship (which was good but just took so much screentime). Compare these to the majority of episodes in season 1 and 2 where there's always some big plot movement, drama or twist every episode and it's night and day. I binge watched until about season 3 and then just had it on in the background for half the time because it simply wasn't engaging enough in these episodes. Overall though it's still a fantastic series, especially the first half. It's disappointing how it ended up. If only we could go back in time and remake the other half of it. Or get another even more gritty remake. Problem is that the actors and characters in this version are hard to beat, Bill Adama, Saul, Rosslyn, Zarek, Baltar, the Chief, Sharon, Starbuck, Apollo - hell even most of the minor characters like Dee, Halo, Kat, Kane, Doc Cottle and Felix Gaeter are great. There's very few sci-fi shows, or shows in general, where you feel like you know the characters so well and how realistically they are portrayed (even in the fantastical circumstances). It's such a shame there's been no screen sci-fi to rival Battlestar in so many years. The only thing that comes close is the Expanse but although the plot of the Expanse is good, the characters and tension in Battlestar are way better (I do hear great things about Expanse season 3 though). Maybe one day we'll get some proper hard, mature sci-fi. I'll be waiting.
  3. Alan Stock

    Streamers Are The Worst

    Haha, I agree though re: #notallstreamers. I started getting into watching streamers over the last year. Yes, there are a lot of knobs. But there's also plenty of cool streamers who are intelligent, polite or entertaining. A lot of it depends on the games you watch and their audience. I've been watching people playing survival horror games and visual novels as I like to relive the games and see their reactions without necessarily wanting to play the game again myself. It's fun to see how different people react, and although you can never get those moments back yourself because you already played them, there's a joy to seeing other people go through those experiences. Another thing people overlook who don't watch streamers is that chat is a big part of a lot of streams. Usually in the chat room you have other people who are passionate about the games you can talk with, and channels thrive on memes and in-jokes. With smaller streamers the chat interacts directly with the player so there's a good sense of community and shared experience even though it's only one person playing. Regarding the OP, yes the guy's a massive arsehole and needs to be locked up. Even if his partner is a toxic arsehole as well there is simply no excuse for domestic violence. Unfortunately this is going big on the news now as well, not doing gaming any favours. But there's no denying there are plenty of dickwads in streaming and gaming in general, just like in real life. Streaming and Youtubing unfortunately does bring out nasty traits in some people (though I'm not saying it was down to streaming in this case). Plenty of folk who are quite reasonable in real life act like dicks for their videos/stream because they want to impress their audience/make them laugh. It's like the kid desperate to impress at the party who ends up being a massive bellend by insulting everyone.
  4. Alan Stock

    Ever been totally hooked on one game?

    Goldeneye - The longest I spent on a game in my youth. Multiple replays, speedrunning to get the cheats. But it was our go-to multiplayer game of choice for years for my mates. Even 3 or 4 years after the game came out, in our school we had an N64 in the common room and it was still super popular then. Phantasy Star Online - An online RPG, I got sucked into the world and community during uni. Edge magazine had touted it as the best thing ever and a bunch of us from the Edge forums used to meet up and play it. Back then it was still dial up internet and I ran up hundreds of pounds in phone bills on the game! It was really the atmosphere and community that kept me coming back. You'd rinse a character class to max level, and then go through it all again with a new character. It looked great and unlike the crappy looking high fantasy PC RPGs it had *style*. Counterstrike - I'm glad I can't count the number of hours on this as we played it religiously at uni on LAN, and I was still playing it online years later. It had the Battle Royale hook of you only get one life and it was down to pure skill and tactics whether you could win. I'm not surprised its still one of the biggest online games over a decade later. I played it so much that I promised myself I would never play it again and to this day I have kept that promise. It remains one of the most frustrating games as well due to the instadeath and sitting out for a round. One of the reasons I find Battle Royale games annoying. FFXI - I got really addicted to this, my first MMO. Square's environments and atmosphere was simply amazing and the world was so immersive. Once you started making online friends there were always people to play with, and we had a rllmuk guild too. It was a huge eye opener to discover a game world that would take you literally hours to traverse, filled with interesting creatures and NPCs. There was always something to strive for, new regions to explore and it all looked gorgeous. I eventually gave it up after a few years because the grind in the later levels became too much. Your progress slowed to a halt and advancing meant you had to have balanced parties with healers and tanks. Waiting around for half an hour for the right player class to show up makes you realise "what the actual fuck am I doing?"! WOW - Even though I swore after FFXI I wouldn't play another MMO, my boss at the time persuaded me to join him in trying out a free trial WOW. And we got seriously hooked. Blizzard had created a massive world like FFXI but with much better pacing. You constantly had a list of quests to do and there were always new areas in the world to seek out. I still can't believe how big even the old WOW was. Weeks into the game I arrived on the shores of another whole continent where Alliance players start out (I was Horde) and realised I'd just scratched the surface. Aside from the compelling gameplay loop it had great atmosphere and a great social aspect which made it really easy to team up with randoms, guildmates or friends. There was also an excellent auction house system making for a compelling mini-game of trading with other players. Again after a year or two I tired of the grind and limited combat interactivity, but until that point I played little else. My boss didn't stop though, he eventually joined a high level raid guild and I still think he plays it today! Overwatch - With less free time and patience for grindy games these days, it takes something special to hook me for thousands of hours. But Overwatch is a game I've sank about 1500 hours into. Why? For a start it's simply damned fun. There's a high skill cap on a lot of the heroes. It's got character. It's got teamplay, which half the time is ignored, but when a team works together it feels great. It's a game you can play for 10 minutes or a night and still get something out of it. But I think most of all its the fact that there are over 20 heroes, each with their own mechanics and tactics to learn and master. I have played pretty much the whole hero roster a significant amount of time and that's what makes the game keep feeling fresh. I do dip in and out of it, but then they release a new hero every few months and I've got another reason to jump back in. Now they even have the Overwatch League to watch and I lap that up too. This, I think, is the first online game I got really hooked on where it usually feels rewarding for the time I've sunk into it. Honestly I'm glad that back in the day game's didn't log your hours. But when you're younger you have a shitload of free time - and you're often skint as fuck - so finding games that will hook your for hundreds (or thousands) of hours is pretty par for the course if you're a gamer. However I have vowed never to get sucked into an MMO again, there's just too many great single player games to play to spend your gaming time on a never-ending MMO. I never find MMO's really truly satisfy me, I always end up with a kind of empty feeling after playing them for a while, especially with their grindy aspects.
  5. Alan Stock

    Abandoned Theme Parks in Games

    Silent Hill immediately springs to mind. In the first game it was a pretty big area in the nightmare world, so its stressful, scary and mazelike. You're running around over all this rusted metal past fairground rides whilst getting chased by horrific monkey things. Silent Hill 3 also had the theme park and if I recall right it was bigger, you go on the rollercoaster and there's a boss in another carousel ride. In general I'm bored as hell with the setting, especially for horror games its such a trope. People still think it's creepy but it's not because it's been done so many times before. And the only scary thing in fairgrounds is clowns, and even that's been done to death. The only clown I ever found scary is the one from IT, yet you'll find "creepy" clowns, mannequins and haunted houses in every horror theme park game. Meeeeehhhhhhh. I give Silent Hill a pass as it was so long ago and also add in the horrors of Silent Hill and it was just as disturbing as any other part of the game. Detroit Become Human had an abandoned theme park but ended up not being quite what you expect, in fact it ended up being one of the most cheesy, saccarine moments in the game. The only thing aside from Silent Hill with a fairground quality to it that I've actually found scary is Five Nights at Freddies (which is giant creepy animatronics and theme park style music).
  6. Alan Stock

    Resident Evil 2 Remake

    Eh? I don't remember that. So what was the difference between Leon A and Claire A, for example? Is it just exactly the same scenario except the character models and dialogue is swapped around?
  7. Alan Stock

    PS+ December: Soma, Onrush, Iconoclasts

    Yeah Soma is quite intense but stick with it, honestly most of the scariest stuff is near the start of the game. And no harm in using Safe mode, the game is much more about the story and environment than the evil things. I've been playing Iconoclasts (maybe 4 hours in) and I agree with the people here that it's underwhelming. It looks fantastic and has some nice ideas but overall it just feels like going through the motions. It's like in theory most of the stuff in there is good - looks, sounds, player feedback, world - but in practice it just feels a bit hollow. Its certainly not a bad game but it hasn't really grabbed me, I'll finish it off when there's nothing else to play. I think maybe its that the movement and level design are a bit subpar, and although it has a metroidvania structure it falls flat as the levels aren't that interesting to move around or fun to revisit. Plus the hidden secret rooms are just minor powerups, rather than the items of Metroid. After 4/5 hours I still just have the wrench and two guns. The bosses are cool and there are some nice set pieces, but there's some finicky gameplay which the Eurogamer review pointed out which is still in there - like a loose feeling to certain item lock-ons and things going to crap when you take damage. And yes I agree although its laudible to attempt a real story, it kind of gets in the way of the game and feels a bit overwraught for what is essentially a simple cliched premise.
  8. Alan Stock

    The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe - Consoles & PC 2019

    Amazing trailer The Stanley Parable's one of those rare story-based single player games I think I would play through again. Because it's so random I've forgotten a lot of it. If this version is cheap enough I'd definitely pick it up again.
  9. Alan Stock

    Have videogames turned you on to other things?

    I stopped looking at cardboard boxes as mere containers, now instead of recyling them I save them to wear on my head and sneak into top secret military installations. Truthfully though, the Ghillie level in Call of Duty Modern Warfare inspired me to visit Chernobyl in real life. Before that game I'd only known about the place in abstract terms and turns out in real life its even more interesting and haunting.
  10. Awesome stories Alex, loved Burnout 1, 2 and Paradise. When I worked on action driving games, Burnout titles were always on the list of inspirations for combat, presentation and sense of speed! Dangerous Driving looks fun, but I'm curious whether you had much problem getting the publishers to say yes to it? Is it based off your heritage and the fact Dangerous Golf did ok? I am guessing the fact you are a tiny team with presumably low costs helps a lot in getting funded. I'm really curious to see how it does. Arcade racers have severely struggled lately but there's a lot of nostalgia for Burnout out there, and maybe the winning crash formula will be enough to rope in some new players. Will there be multiplayer by the way? Or maybe even split screen?
  11. Alan Stock

    Gaming for free....

    Yes you can game for free these days if you want to. There are tons of good free multiplayer games these days that offer cosmetics or ingame currency for real money - that aren't rubbish. Off the top of my head Hearthstone and World of Tanks/World of Warships are excellent examples. Yes there is a grindy aspect to the World games but you can still have fun doing so. Then there's Fortnite which is incredibly generous - a good free game with money only used for cosmetics. I steer well clear of F2P games with pay to win or timers though - generally strategy/RPG games. They all start off well with fast build timers and tons of free currency. Then once you get hooked things take longer and longer to build, units become more expensive. In a lot of them (especially multiplayer) you will have to grind for hours or spend money to stand a chance in the late game. There are very few games of this type which don't try to squeeze you for cash at every opportunity. Then there are legacy games. Head over to GOG or other old game websites to grab a massive back catalogue of excellent PC and old console games for free! There are some real gems out there such as RPGs, strategy games and point and click adventures. On phones/tablets just search games by free and user rating and skim reviews to check that ads aren't too annoying. I know on Google Play it warns you if a game has ingame purchases, adverts etc.
  12. Alan Stock

    Game Awards 2018 (1:30am England time)

    - Red Dead 2 will probably dominate everything but I hope game of the year goes to Spider Man instead. - I'd like to see Return of the Obra Dinn win the Indie game category (even though Into the Breach is really good too, Obra Dinn is so original and clever) - I hope Detroit Becomes Human picks up an award or two because I loved that game (at least Conner's actor should win the performance category) - I want Monster Hunter World to win something - Why the hell isn't Overwatch in the best E-Sports game category. I know it's smaller than the others but Overwatch League was started this year and has been a big success paving massive new ground for esports overall. I bet the Overwatch team is pissed about not being on the list! I really hope we get another Death Stranding trailer! Thanks for the heads-up Capwn
  13. Alan Stock

    Resident Evil 2 Remake

    Really hyped for this, it sounds better and better the more I hear about it. Eurogamer preview sounds good although they do acknowledge the old skool level design feels a bit wonky and some bits are a little finicky. Thats a shame but overall its looking fantastic. Personally I don't mind the puzzles and silly item combos though, its all just an excuse to revisit the same areas and get to know the place really well. I hope they make it quite difficult with low resources. I've just been playing the HD Resi 1 remake and Resi Zero. They aren't as great as I remember, especially Zero which is a big let down. But in both of them ammo and health management play a big part in it especially at the start of the games. Resi 7 did quite a good job of keeping it tight until the final parts. I like that feeling of waiting desperately for the next green herb or typewriter, its a tension that a lot of the older Resis missed out on.
  14. Despite their strictness with media when I was young, fortunately they were very supportive later on. When they saw how passionate I was about games in my mid-high school years and I said I wanted to become a games designer, they just wanted me to pursue my dreams. I proved I was committed to it through all my uni applications and getting good grades, and ending up landing a games degree at the end of it all, eventually followed up with a game design job in the industry. I think I'm lucky though, a lot of old skool parents would balk at their son wanting to be a game designer especially if they knew very little about games themselves. I think their media restrictions on us was due to the usual fears parents have about too much exposure. Spending time inside instead of socialising, playing outside etc. But during school I still had an active social life, did outdoor activites and so on, so over time I guess they realised their limits weren't as necessary. If I'd been a shut-in recluse only playing games maybe it would be a different story. Funnily enough even though I don't have kids I do think I would place some restrictions on gaming time if I had them. At least in the early years. I know some kids these days spend their lives outside of school holed up in front of their PC/TV. But I'd definitely be more relaxed than my parents were about it. Especially as games are so social today, take Fortnite - yes it's addictive but at least it does foster group activities. It's just a shame that now it's mostly online - whereas when we were at school it was invite all your mates over to play split-screen Goldeneye or go to a LAN cafe to play Quake.
  15. Alan Stock

    Subnautica - Ver 1.0 Out Now

    Subnautica is now out on consoles! Don't miss this amazing game, probably my favourite of last year. Can someone update the original post title to announce the console release? Be warned the following trailer does have spoilers for enemies and environments, but I guess it does a pretty good job of selling the atmosphere:

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