Little Big Pleasures

Yesterday’s article was kinda fun, barely a soul gave a toss but you know I can write a post on here just for the sake of writing it, that’s what blogs were for before they became a way to launch a promising career in writing… which I’m still waiting for. Anyway, that in mind, a conversation with a friend has got me in the mood for writing another fun fluff piece about video games and the astute ones among you can probably guess which game came to mind for me, Little Big Planet 3, the latest in a trilogy of platforming games that is fun for all ages.

As series go, some I can buy games from hit and miss, I can chip into a series late and go back, go from the start and watch it evolve or I can just try it and leave it. For example, I only own Sega All Stars Racing, not the Transformed version that came out later, the first didn’t excite me enough to merit paying money for me, my favourite game series Dynasty Warriors, I didn’t buy the games in order – starting with 3, than a crossover game, then 5, 4, expansion packs, 6 and so on. Thankfully there isn’t a continuity in Dynasty Warriors, it’s the same game made over and over again with better graphics, gameplay mechanics and expanded character rosters. Point being, Little Big Planet, I watched it grow. I played the first game at a friend’s house and fell in love and I made sure to acquire each game since. So why do I like the series so much? Well, this is not a rant today, today I’m here to rave, to sing praise, to review with a positive attitude so allow me to fill you in on why Little Big Planet might just be one of the finest series of games going.

Okay, for those who have never owned a PS3/PS4 and never played the game at any point, Little Big Planet is a platformer game in which you customise a cutesy knitted character with costumes of all varieties and run through themed levels to rescue a world of imagination from some big baddy, be it an owl driving a death robot, an evil space snake or Hugh Laurie in a bowler hat. You run, jump, swing, fly and glide through levels that take inspiration from just about anything – Medieval Europe, the Renaissance, Outer Space, 50s Style Diners, Giant Libraries – you name it, someone has made a LBP level about it. The game is artistically stunning, it has a style that makes it all look like it is essentially an enchanted art project, adding to this idea it is an imaginary world, a world consisting of doodles and craft sessions come to life and your main enemy is always some selfish, unimaginative monster who wants to stomp all over your creativity. With that explained, here’s why this series is so good:

Diversity and Suitability

You could easily make this the first game your kids play, their first real video game series and it would not corrupt them. Far from it, I would think it enriching. Across the series, the levels opt out of falling into the templates of Snow World, Lava World and Desert World, instead opting for culturally themed worlds – New York World, Japan World, England World – not in such obvious titles but you can see the inspiration. The costumes add to this, it’s not all armour and silly hats, though there a few, but there are costumes based on Chinese Traditional Wear, Japanese Robes, Ponchos, Tuxedos, Saris and Turbans, come Little Big Planet 4 or 5, or enough DLC, and this series will touch on every major world culture at least once. In this sense, the game is inoffensive. Granted, I’m a white hetero cis male, it’s hard to offend my demographic unless you question my masculinity, but with a game that so celebrates diversity and avoids violence (You defeat monsters by jumping on their weak spots and they turn into clouds of smoke, hardly that gruesome), this is a game that is either a light spot of fun for a twenty something like me, a tool for enjoyment and education for children or a game you could possibly talk Mum and Dad into trying. Parents, seize this game, fast, when you see kids playing it, introduce them to the cultures and histories that have inspired the artistic styles and level designs to make your children students of the world!

Endless Creativity

In terms of games that allow you to be truly creative, this is up there with Mario Maker, easily being worshipped as the new user-friendly creativity tool of the decade, a title it deserves – past the “Nyahahaha this is so hard!” levels, Mario Maker offers the chance for potential game designers to use assets they fully understand to create unique gaming experiences. Little Big Planet, by the same token, allows players to use any of the materials, monsters and power-ups they have encountered in game to create whole new worlds, stickers can be found to personalise existing levels and both your home screen and character are fully customisable. LBP DLC is endless, the blank canvas hero allowing so many possibilities – Baymax, Kermit the Frog, Solid Snake, Dr Eggman – You can be any of those guys, the DLC exists and the in-game content allows you to try out so many variations with costumes ranging from ogre outfits to jeans and shirts. The series includes a Create Mode, a Pod (your home screen) for you to decorate, essentially anything and everything can be personalised and because of this there is a wealth of user-created levels, some of which make me think the designer should be paid for making this stuff up. If games rot the imagination, LBP gives you a healthy dose of it again, it offers you so much chance to be creative, it is almost overwhelming!

Simplicity

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for games being complex, a good strong plot in a video game is a major selling point for me but as a gamer with non-gamer friends I love hanging out with, getting them into games I’m passionate about is hard. They get names wrong, they laugh at things that aren’t supposed to be funny, they simplify the plot to the level of a child’s understanding and I don’t mind, they’re not fans, they’re not invested, but games that you can pick up, play once and understand are great. Pac-Man, Mario, Ghosts and Goblins, Little Big Planet – you have an objective, you have basic controls, away you go, that’s that, jump in and out at any point in the story and it still makes sense. For this reason, LBP is the most popular game on game night with my friendship circle, it’s good clean fun you don’t have to be a gamer to understand but it’s not insultingly easy to the point of being boring, the difficulty curve is perfect in every game (Well, LBP3 is actually more challenging for me than the last two, I think they’re trying to stop loyal fans from getting bored). A game you can share is a game you can love even more, nothing is as satisfying for a gamer as making someone else love the franchise you love, LBP is so easy to get into that you find yourself never short of friends willing to be Player 2. Try that with Dynasty Warriors, I get a lot of “I’m gonna be… Uhh… This big red guy with the pike. Is he good? What do I do? Oh I died… This game is hard, let’s do something else”. Worst. Damn. Thing.

It Evolves

If you make a sequel to a game, you have to change things up from the game before, that’s just a rule, you have to give the player something they can’t get from the previous game. Sonic 2 brought Tails and more levels, Sonic 3 had the option to save progress, Sonic 3 and Knuckles had a new character and a game twice as long as the games before, for those reasons those games got progressively more and more popular. Little Big Planet One is good, it plays very simply and it is very easy, a sort of introduction to the game series with nice tight level design and precious few variations on the run and jump format. Little Big Planet 2 took that and added to it, it added power-ups like a grappling hook, a fire-extinguisher hat, super strength gloves – the game had whole new realms of depth and more creative options to explore. LBP2 even had better mini-games added in, competitive ones, shooting galleries and giant dodgem car levels, this was a franchise that just got better. How do you top that? Try LBP3 – Create Mode and Play Mode now blend together in some levels, requiring you to fill blanks in a level’s design to advance (Hmm. No bridge? I better build one out of those cubes stacked on the cliff edge), the game operates on several layers with the standard far layer, near layer and in between now swapped for very very far, very far, far etc. and the game added whole new characters of different shapes and sizes with their own powers (shapeshifting, flying, running on walls and more). LBP could easily just get away with new levels and costumes and a new big baddy but it does so much more that each game is a distinct improvement on the one before. I just love it, I really do.

In conclusion, Little Big Planet as a series probably isn’t the best game series either but it’s a damn good candidate, in three games it has made more keen and loyal a fan than some game series have done in ten. I could play it with pretty much anyone and have a blast, I could play a level of any theme I could imagine or design it myself and my hero is whoever I want them to be, be it a dragon, a luchador or a green cat in a mankini (No joke, there is a mankini in this game). If you have a PS3 or PS4 and no LBP in your game library, try it, there’s something for everyone and that is pretty darn impressive.

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The Step Forward

Trigger Warnings – None.

Sorry this post is out a bit later than usual, I’ve missed that prime time opportunity but hey, it happens. I’m not sure what to write about tonight, I’ve felt really quite passionate about my previous articles of the week but my view stats haven’t been this low in some time – maybe I’m not reaching out, maybe I’m too proud of stuff that actually isn’t interesting, I don’t know. So, whilst I hate to be a self-piteous jerk (I do hate it, I know I post a lot of personal crap but that’s more for me really, this blog is the inside of my head), I need to get some stuff off my chest.

Understandably, my latest topics have put off would be readers because they’re heavy subjects – the Sydney siege, the Sony cyber attacks, talks of politics and whilst I thought I broke it up pretty well with the Cards Against Humanity post and the Cereal Killer post, which were distinctly more popular than the others. I’m not too surprised and whilst I did enjoy writing those articles, they’re fluffy filler posts, they’re not hot button topics and I don’t want to just write about that all the time because if I was just going to blog about insignificant topics that are amusing to the right people I’d blog about the depiction of historical events in video games and line by line did-you-knows about the ERB performances of Epic Lloyd and Nice Peter. I knew when I started on this blog I couldn’t extensively blog about what I find fascinating because when I bring it up in conversation, people just nod and have no reference points to go by as I explain my rage at a bad characterisation of a samurai or a ninja I like or something or as I try to clarify why I think something is genius. I’m not bitter about that, it’s fine, maybe if I ever hit the mainstream I can do some niche side projects for those fanbases.

I’m thinking of moving on from blogging to YouTube, it’s where the people are and truth be told the concept is more exciting to me now, though I do despise the sound of my own voice. Heads up to you yanks that are expecting me to have a smooth sexy Hiddleston voice, I do not, I sound like a complete and utter twat. I mean, I’ve always loved the written word for expressing myself as a suave, charming fellow of sophistication but in person “Erm, erhem, so yeah that’s uh… hi… what?”. I’ll probably use prompts or write the article out and go from there and then upload the written version here for those of you who still read, a dying breed but a special one. I’ll need to invest in some good tech for it though I should think, a webcam won’t cut it by itself but thankfully I have people willing to help me out in their own way. I’ve decided the format will probably be a weekly or bi-weekly upload of a sort of me telling you the news with my own opinions and then the occasional less polished side notes of things I feel like sharing with you and a friend has discussed animated videos with me, it’s held an appeal to me for ages and would be fun to do.

I shouldn’t complain, I managed to inspire a friend of mine into starting their own blog, that’s pretty ego-boosting. I don’t want people thinking I did this ‘taking them under my wing, they owe it all to me’ thing because it was more just me idly saying ‘You need to blog, you are smart, I would read it’ and they sorta rolled with it. I’ll post a link below, check them out – a fellow feminist taking a fearsome arsenal of intellect and insight to tackle pop culture’s short comings, they’ve only just started but I look forward to what is to come:

https://fatalfeminism.wordpress.com/

I’m sure it will be well worth a nosey once the posts start rolling out but just to make sure you don’t miss out, bookmark the home page hey? And on that note, I hate to be the guy pushing myself forward and saying you should read this, we all know that creative one who uses any subject to segue into their blog or book or poetry and everyone rolls their eyes but speaking from experience as that guy, it’s usually the only way to get people to actually pay attention, nobody seeks out the unknown writer do they? Some friends and family support me and that’s great but audience is small and dwindling so I’m gonna suck it up and say it…

Please, like and share my articles if you enjoy them, subscribe as well. Ugh, feel dirty. Mind you, even the most popular presenters of the Tube still ask so I should feel no shame in doing it, I always just imagined my own merit would carry it but perhaps not, perhaps I have to actually advertise. Would a Facebook page help do you reckon?

Anyway, that’s that, I’ll try to come out with something better tomorrow.

Short Break

Trigger Warnings – None.

This just isn’t working folks, I’m sorry, I’m actually sick of my phone now, sick of holding it, sick of typing on it and getting nowhere fast with this, can’t make daily excursions to the library just to blog, you don’t get enough time on the computers and my mood has me only leaving the house if I need to or just get stifled for fresh air.

I have therefore decided to take a break, not for very long, just a week off whilst the laptop is in the shop being brought back to life through painstaking repair work. I’m worried forcing these posts out when I have nothing to really go on will only lead to strained awkward pieces of shit articles so I shall take a moment to refresh myself and hopefully be back at a proper keyboard within the week, who knows? Well… The repairman I guess…

Don’t lose hope, this is not the drawn out death of the blog, these past couple of months have reignited the flames of passion for writing within me and with my reader base continuing to expand steadily, next year, I’m going to up my game. I’ve had loads of people say they want me to get on YouTube and maybe change daily articles into weekly videos, let the world hear me ramble on and on. Truth be told, it’s getting more tempting abs and maybe I will invest in making it a reality.

Anyway, point being, I’m going to give blogging a bit of a rest for now rather than pump out daily nonsense. I need better facilities, a more positive mood and more resources than my phone has the ability to provide. See you all when I return, hopefully with a proper computer but if not, maybe a rest is all I need to get into this for real once again.

Running Out of Steam

Trigger Warnings – Nothing.

The title has probably given this much away but I’m running low on steam for this blog using my phone. Still, the computer is on the mend and I can always try getting to a library computer and doing it that way. That said, with this blow to the blog, getting back in order will be a task alright, not one that’s beyond me but still.

Truth be told, I think the biggest problem for the blog at the moment is me, not my facilities. If I was really determined, I could make do, type through the pain, stop my whinging and so on. I’m not doing the best mood wise really, hitting some real lows of late and it shows in my behaviour, particularly social.

I’m somewhere between reaching out and backing away, weird as that sounds. I can be very keen to start conversations, particularly at the wee early hours of the morning after midnight has passed, but I will also abruptly leave conversations or neglect to reply to people. I get annoyed or upset when people don’t reply to me though, as selfish as that seems, thankfully logic kicks sense into me after a while but there are nameless individuals who I seek validation from to get none. I’m not angry or bitter, just flat. To anyone who deals with me in their life, I apologise for everything, bear with me if you can.

I don’t know what I am after here, people could say I just want sympathy likes and shit but truth be told that has long since stopped mattering, I just have this blog and make use of it whenever. I like to think these posts are helpful to those close to me but that isn’t always the case, some people will claim to care and want to know the full story but if I direct them to my blog for the details, they suddenly have a lot less to say. Sorry, that probably sounds quite rude, I should be grateful these near strangers even give a flip but it can be a bit of a bitch considering how much of my soul I invest into this blog only to find a great deal of my friends don’t actually follow it, invalidates my work.

I know this post isn’t much, trying to keep up but struggling with my mood, my dreams, my social life, finding work… My blog sorta suffers as I do. Plus, phone typing makes my hands ache… Bleh. See you soon guys.

The Tea-Drinker’s Return

Trigger Warnings – None

Hey folks, it’s getting late again, my timetable was fiddled with by forces outside of my control that pushed everything back an hour so for now I need to find something to tide over until tomorrow because I like to keep the posts coming daily. However, with the only interesting subjects to mind being subjects that deserve full detail and not just a rushed effort before that late night hour that marks an end to views for the night, I find myself once again just looking for a topic to go over for now so I decided to reveal a little more about TDWC and its origins as well as its future, or at least, its hypothetical future at this stage

TDWC, that stands for Tea-Drinking Wisecracker, a working title that stuck, is the story of Lee Patience, a demon that hunts demons with the help of human companions and the characters have gone through several minor tweaks and hairstyles to try and create a working formula for adventure and comedy. TDWC combines a lot of ideas I’ve had into one beloved brainchild, using recycled ideas from old projects and drawing upon inspiration from the very shows and games it emulates such as Devil May Cry, Doctor Who and Archer. I had always wanted to do something using a character like Lee, who initially started out a very serious one-liner kind of man but gradually became a little more laidback and humorous as he was further developed

Lee and Katakura are actually both heavily inspired by my own personality and a few friends, as well as certain idols of mine from various points of my life. Lee is a fantasy, Katakura is reality and they also both represent the archetypes of the British TV hero – a handsome youngster in a big coat being brilliant and a tough-as-nails working class bloke dressed in various shades of brown. The chemistry is akin to Sherlock and Watson, though actually draws more heavily from internal conflicts and from the relationship between Masamune Date and Kojuro Katakura of Feudal Japan, thus leading to Katakura’s codename, as he studies history for a hobby. As for Valerie and Obadiah, well they’re based on a number of friends and characters from Archer, a personal favourite show of mine (A fan of TDWC and Archer may notice the Valerie/Lana and Obi/Cyril similarities)

To those who don’t know me in my personal life, you’re no doubt confused who Valerie is, the third incarnation of TDWC is not available on my blog at present but I hope to present the fourth to the world somehow. First things first, the scripts, characters and plot are all being worked on. I want to add another female lead role to counter Valerie, she won’t physically participate in the action like Valerie but might work as tech support or the head of the armoury. Valerie needs some work to avoid the typical “Grumpy woman brought along on a wacky adventure” persona that most female third-wheels experience. I also want the series arc to be stronger throughout, making more subtle nods to the finale rather than lumping it in halfway through and expecting my audience to be interested just because. TDWC bears the brunt of my experimentation and failure because it is entirely malleable as a work of art and more a project of fun than actual serious ambition, though seeing it on TV would actually make me weep with joy

I would make TDWC into a web series but lack the funding and the actors, as well as scripts, props, technology, directing skills, basically everything you’d need to make a web series. Casting would be a nightmare too, could you imagine trying to get a forty something Manchurian, a mid twenties Londoner and a Welsh woman in her early twenties all in the same place every week/month to do a YouTube video? Not impossible but not easy. Still, that’s far in the future and this would probably look better animated with a voice over I should think, who knows? I sure don’t, I’m always hacking this thing to bits

Ah, the writer’s curse, anything you write, you cross out and try and improve upon minutes later, much like the curses falling upon an artist. Oh well, I’ll get there, maybe one day I’ll have enough faith in a project to see it from start to finish and into publication as a book, a comic book series, a tv show, a movie, freakin’ anything other than a pile of papers in a bin

Sorry today’s post was probably not what you were looking for, though you’ve probably come to expect this distractions from the battle for equality right? Happens often enough. I hope that tomorrow things will be back to normal, at least this time I had no control over it, yesterday I was just indecisive and time got away from me

One Month Later

Trigger Warnings – None

Well one month down the line, or near enough, and so far I think I’ve come on leaps and bounds with this whole blogging hoopla, certainly managed to at least set something published once a day and within the same general time frame, for the most part. Regular posting is one of the basic rules of staying current in the fast-paced environment of cyberspace, you fall behind, you get forgotten, just seems to be a rule really. Anyway, I decided I’d take this opportunity to talk about my blogging and such like, seeing as I did a Remembrance Day special on Remembrance Sunday so I decided against just repeating myself for the actual Remembrance Day itself

So, where to go from here? Well, I think the next step is a self-hosted domain, the freebie version of WordPress is prone to bugs and statistic errors that are making my blog appear more/less popular than it actually is and on more than one occasion this site has forgotten how many people I actually have subscribed to me so when I look for the number, it sorta shrugs and guesses but then come the next morning it has remembered the real number. Maddening, considering the views and subscriptions are kinda how I measure success. I might move away from WordPress, I’m not sure, I want a blog that’s easier to comment on because some have said they’re put off responding to my articles by the weird commenting system my blog has and I have no clue how to change it, methinks it requires a paid membership. If I do pay to use this site, or move to another, I hope you’ll allow follow me there and I’ll be sure to post links and such on here so you can find me but it’s all in the air at the moment so we’ll see where the cards fall, one month isn’t enough to go on for these sorts of things I feel

I’ve expressed an interest in the past at making videos, animated ones, I’m not too sure about becoming a vlogger in the traditional sense with jump cut shots of my bedroom and what have ye, my bedroom is a dull dull place and these vloggers always have posters and collectibles everywhere, I have painted white walls, a few drawings pinned to the wall and a dream catcher with a wolf motif on it, that’s about it. The lighting in my room is atrocious and I lack good audio recording equipment, but I’d need that for vlogging or animating. I have got animation software though and I’m quite good with it in all fairness so you might be wondering why nothing ever came out of that for all my talk in the past of videos being the way forward so allow me to explain

Put simply, effort. The videos, animated or not, would require a great deal of effort to put together and considering my audience is a rather small one of around ten to thirty people at most, it seems like a lot more hard work for a lot less reward. Sure, videos are more popular as a whole and easier to spread around on the social media because people will give five minutes to watch pretty colours and funny moving pictures much more readily than they will when they realise they have to put the effort into reading, it’s something of a secret art in this day and age. I could do podcasts, that is an option, but we’ll see. Frankly, in a household of six, peace and quiet is hard come by so I’m worried the recordings would be spoiled by knocks at the door, people shouting, thunderous marches up the stairs and so on. Anyway, I need to be confident in the popularity of my work before I start making videos or such, as well as confident that I can deliver on them regularly to keep my subscribers interested

Ok, personal talk here, I’d like to see my blog circulate around a bit more and yes this is attention whoring but I don’t care, attention is what makes a blog thrive and I don’t feel I get quite enough for what I do, maybe that’s just my ego talking. On another personal note, I think one other reason I’m avoiding vlogging is my appearance, I’m not very happy with my looks, I’ve put on weight and want to lose that weight, particularly from my gut and face, used to have a really nice sloped jaw but now my head is sorta more circular. Bleh. I know some of you close to me will argue I’m not fat and I look fine but I FEEL fat and I FEEL less attractive than I was – no man should have the ravages of age set in at twenty! I’m a bit of a dandy, such as it were, ask anyone who knows me and they’ll swear I have my dress sense dictated to me by Barney Stinson from HIMYM, it’s almost always some form of suit – I own more smart shirts than I do DVDs – so the idea of being visible to basically anyone in the world and not feeling attractive when they’re looking at me makes me feel uneasy

Being a blogger is not an easy thing, a vlogger even less easy or perhaps not, depends who you ask, there are good arguments either way. I like blogging and writing and expressing my opinions to see how people respond and I like to make people laugh, my ideal job would be using my creativity to make people laugh and think. Speaking of which, TDWC is undergoing another revamp, those poor characters have been hacked up and stitched back together so much it seems borderline malicious what I do to them. TDWC sorta bears the brunt of my self-criticism and so it gets picked apart so often as is the creator’s curse – immediately after you’re done, you already know what could be better and thus you are never ever truly satisfied with anything you do. Heck, reading old posts on here, I cringe sometimes. TDWC is going to be a while off yet, it’s only ever been scripts and stories at present, though it was considered for a web series briefly by a drama group but it became less of a good idea the more it was considered by everyone involved. That’s life.

Anyway, I’ve managed thus far, had mild success, would like to achieve more and I’ll consider gathering the funds to be a bit more ambitious. Thank you for the support so far from everyone, I’m actually doing well in all fairness, not internet celebrity level well but good enough to be considered as more than just a one-post wonder. Wish me luck for the future and watch this space!