What’s been happening in my little world

I know this is supposed to be a gaming-centred blog – and I will mention some gaming somewhere – but I thought I’d update you on how things are in my world at the moment.

Despite being unemployed for the past five weeks (did I tell you that I took voluntary redundancy from my newspaper employer after they restructured our department and “disestablished” my job?), I’ve actually been darn busy lately so sorry for the lack of blogs over the past few weeks.

I’ve been riding my bike quite a bit – two two hour rides in three days this week – and playing a bit of Grand Theft Auto V, as well as doing some freelance work for gaming blog NZ Gamer (which you can find here). And in something that’s completely out of character for me, I emailed off my CV to Snap, an internet service provider in Christchurch asking if they had any work going as a communications or social media specialist.

I wasn’t expecting a response but, luckily for me, Snap’s GM of retail got back to me and he offered me three weeks of contract to generate new content for the company’s new-look website.  So for three weeks, I was gainfully employed, arriving at Snap’s offices at 8.30am Monday to Friday, leaving about 5pm. It made me feel like I was part of the employed again.  I absolutely loved the work and the Snap crowd are a great bunch of people but it was only temporary contract work

Since Monday I’ve been re-evaluating where I want to go with my life – and after getting another job application rejection letter: I’ve applied for so many jobs both in NZ and in Australia that I’ve lost count  – I’ve decided that I might look at re-training, but as what, I’m not sure.

I’ve thought about maybe doing an adult apprenticeship as an electrician, or some form of tertiary training, but I’m actually contemplating heading back to “school” next year and doing a Diploma in either Web Design or Software Engineering and Design. As a tech journalist I’ve always enjoyed the technical aspect of gaming and app making so perhaps this is where my future lies.

Of course, I’m not sure whether we can survive on one wage so if I were to do full-time study again, I’d have to find some part-time work to supplement. It’s worth thinking about, though.

In terms of gaming, I was going to post some thoughts on David Cage’s PlayStation 3 game Beyond Two Souls – my daughter asked me while I was playing it: “Are you playing a game or watching a movie?,” she said. “There’s too much movie and not enough game” – but after spending literally hours on deciding what to write about it for this blog, I decided I’d just link to something I wrote for the Media Design School in Auckland’s gaming-centric blog, the Pick & Shovel. Have a read & let me know what you think about the game.

Would you like to fly in my beautiful, my beautiful ... blimp?

Would you like to fly in my beautiful, my beautiful … blimp?

I’ve played a fair bit of GTAV lately but I’m starting to feel a little “burned out” now and might just leave it for a few days, recharge my GTAV batteries. I actually spent most of the last couple of sessions driving cars or motorcycles up mountain tops and the driving them down again. I also ordered a blimp and drove (can you drive a blimp?) it as high as I could then parachuted out. That was pretty great.

I’ll come back to it in a couple of days. Maybe I’ll feel like playing it then.

I promise the blog will be back to normal in the next post.


GTAV: it’s not always about the story missions

It was the perfect afternoon for a drive.

I turned the convertible from the wide-laned freeway onto a mountain road, headed back towards the suburbs of Los Santos, the Pacific Ocean glistening to my right. Not a cloud in the clear, blue sky. Phil Collins, I think, was playing on the radio. It was the perfect day. Serene and calm.

I spotted what looked like a cyclist up a head, dancing on the pedals of his road bike, his body gently rocking from side to side as he made his way up the incline. A lot of small touches had impressed me before in GTAV but this one felt personal, this one resonated with me:  A tanned and fit cyclist, kitted out in sponsor-emblazoned  lycra, riding a sleek racing bike was out for an afternoon bike ride.

GTAVMichaelFranklinTrevorI slowed down and just followed him: transfixed at this virtual cyclist ascending a mountain road. I sped ahead and got out, activating the camera on my smart phone, hoping to get a good photo of what I’d seen. I snapped as he rode past. I’m sure he looked at me, strangely, but he kept on climbing.

Unfortunately, as I walked back to the car, a few hundred metres up the road, another vehicle drove past, wiping out my open door. My convertible now not only had the top down, but it only had one door. Still, this was a day where nothing could bother me.

I passed the cyclist again, stopped and took some more photos. He gave me another funny look as he rode past.

On the descent I followed quietly behind, the cyclist freewheeling and gliding down the hill, pedaling every now and then to keep his momentum up.

Nearing the bottom of the hill, as the road joined a larger road, there was a service station (gas station) and the cyclist rode into the car parking area, dismounted and pulled out his smart phone.  Mysteriously, his bike just stood upright by itself but that’s OK. This is a game: Sometimes I can suspend belief.

He was a well-tanned individual, slightly European looking, but he was acting weird. I took some snaps of him and his bike, but as I focussed in on the bike frame (I am somewhat obsessed by bicycle frames) I heard him talking to someone on his phone: It was the police. He was saying some like I was being an arsehole and could they get here.

I stood amazed. Here was a non-integral person in the game having an impact on how things were shaping. My mini map suddenly turned a shade of light blue and a blue and red dot appeared on the screen: I knew what had happened here. The police were on their way to have a chat to me about harassing the cyclist.

For the record, I didn’t harass him: I was just taking photos. It’s a pity I can post the screen shots here.

A brief chase ensued but I managed to escape the police by running through a few luxury homes down the road, avoiding their cones of vision and confusing the heck of them.

Some other things I’ve observed; if you almost run over a person in a car and you’re stopped at a set of lights, bystanders will sometimes run over, pull you out of your car and start beating the crap out of you. One of my friends on XB Live told me to stand next a police man and see what happens.  I haven’t done it yet but it’s on my list of things to do.

I also want to buy a dock so I can do scuba diving.  I hijacked a speed boat one morning and just travelled around the island, seeing how far I could go, what I could see. During one mission involving a submersible in the Pacific Ocean and playing as Trevor, while I waited for Franklin and Michael to arrive, a large shark circled, giving me a bit of a shiver. It was a biggun,

GTAbikeI drove past a house to see a man imploring his wife to stop throwing his golf belongings from the balcony to the roadside. “Who plays golf at midnight?” the wife argues as she throws another bag onto the drive. I gave him and his favourite iron a ride to the golf club and he said he wouldn’t go home until he’d had a “few drinks in me and her meds had kicked in”.

GTAV isn’t just always about the missions and the story but I have to say the game has an appalling attitude towards the depiction of women: They’re either prostitutes, stripper or disgruntled wives/girlfriends/aunts – and that’s really not good in this day and age.

To be honest, I didn’t really start seriously tackling the story missions until I’d explored for a few hours, and that’s where GTAV’s strengths are: Just exploring and trying things. The stats at the Rockstar Social Club says I’ve sunk 21 hours into GTAV and completed about 40 per cent of everything there is to do.

So, I say go forth and explore. You might be surprised what you find.

Watch Dogs game play trailer

We like videos here at Game Junkie 2.0: It means we don’t have to concentrate so hard and just have to look at the pretty moving pictures.

Watch Dogs, from Ubisoft, is looking to be pretty good – it has a real Person of Interest TV show vibe to it (Person of Interest is a TV show about a computer network that can predict crime before it happens and the two guys out to stop those crimes) – but, of course, I’ll wait to pass judgement  on it when I eventually play it (and it could be some time before I play it as I expect Grand Theft Auto V to suck up a lot of my free time).

Any way, here’s a 14-minute game play trailer from Ubisoft that shows how protagonist Aidan Pierce can hack just about anything around him to gain access to things. Watch Dogs (I refuse to do the underscore between the two words) is either going to be an amazing game or it’ll be a run-of-the-mill third-person game that’ll be swallowed up in the wake of GTAV.

Hmmmm, I wonder if GTAV will be so big that we’ll start talking about games as “post-GTAV”?

Time will tell I guess. Let me know what you think of the video.