The last blog post of 2013: the year that couldn’t end soon enough

Merry Christmas to you!

Merry Christmas to you!

Note: This blog post may ramble more than usual as I’ve had a couple of bourbons during the evening and a glass of wine. Compliments of the season to you!

2013 is a year that I’d be quite happy if it ended right now. Today.

It’s been a year where my wife had three months off work because of a broken arm and nerve damage to said arm and a year that my position at a metropolitan newspaper in Christchurch was disestablished and I made the difficult decision to take voluntary redundancy and move on to challenges ahead.

And what challenges they have been. I naively thought finding a full-time job would be easy. I assumed I’d send out my CV, attach a cover letter  and within a few weeks I’d have a job. Well, four months, I’m still looking. Oh, I got down to the final two for a communications job in September but it seems the person who got the job – a  former colleague of mine who took redundancy at the same time  I did – was better than I was. That knocked my confidence for a six, to be honest.

I have to say, too,  over the past couple of weeks, when I was finishing up my last freelance writing contracts for the year and waiting for a couple of organisations to send me an “After reviewing your application we’ve decided you have been unsuccessful at this application”  email, I was pretty low, mentally. If it wasn’t for my wife, family and friends I think I’d have sunk pretty low. I feel for everyone who is out of full-time work and is trying to find something: It’s not an easy process. I feel your pain.

I’ve come to the realisation that despite a long and varied journalism career, the likelihood of me continuing in that field now is next to zero:  good journalists aren’t in demand any more, at least not in print, and besides, why would someone want to hire an experienced,  old hack like me when they can probably hire a young graduate for half the price? I think I’m a good writer but maybe I’m deluding myself and am a talentless hack?

I’ve been lucky enough to secure regular blog work for the Media Design School, which has been a godsend, and I’m hoping that NZ Gamer, a New Zealand video game website, will let me continue my blog with it. I’ve been on a four-blog trial period so if it hits its numbers (I’m not sure whether it has, to be honest) they’ll hopefully let me continue. I hope so. I’ve enjoyed writing the blog and the last two have generated some good traffic and comments. I’ve got my fingers crossed on that one.

Then there is this blog, which I neglected for a couple of years but rejuvenated once I became redundant. It’s been my go-to outlet for all my writings and game content and while I know it’s hardly read by anyone most of the time, I hope, in some small way, I’ve still got something to say in the field of games journalism. I haven’t got youth, but I’ve got experience, and I hope that counts for something. Maybe it does, who knows?

Since becoming redundant, and becoming more of an independent voice,  it’s become more noticeable to me that games journalism is often essentially nothing more than free publicity – mostly good, sometimes bad –  for games publishers and hardware manufacturers. It amazes me  how many game sites publish the same press releases verbatim or make out they’ve got exclusive video trailers (when everyone else has got it also). I don’t want my site to turn into one that has the same news as every other site does: What’s the point in that? I want to be a site that does something different, offers opinions that other sites don’t. I’m not sure if I succeeded over the past few months but I hope I did.

In terms of gaming, it’s been an interesting year, with some blockbuster games like Bioshock Infinite. Tomb Raider and GTAV released and some new consoles released onto the market, but to be honest, the most fun I had gaming this year was with games like The Stanley Parable, Gemini Rue on my tablet, games I’ve bought through the Humble Bundle and Tearaway on the PS Vita and Luigi’s Mansion 2 on the Nintendo 3DS.  Those are the games I’ve remembered most, despite sinking hundreds of hours into the big games (I’ve also been spending much of tonight installing Mac version of Humbe Bundle-purchased games onto my new second-hand MacBook Pro so I can take it away with me on holiday.)

In terms of the new generation of consoles, Microsoft have given me a loaner Xbox One console, which I’m incredibly grateful for,  but I’m not completely in love with the new-generation just yet.  The games just aren’t there yet, despite some pretty graphics in games like Ryse Son of Rome and Need for Speed Rivals. And over the past week or so, I’ve actually gone back to finishing games I’ve started on my Xbox 360 and PS3 until the real games start appearing for the Xbox One and PS4. When that happens then we’ll see what those consoles are capable of.

I’ve still got outstanding review of Gran Turismo 6 and Fifa 14 to write-up but they’re going to have to wait until I’m back from holiday (January 13) but I just want to say I’m incredibly grateful for you, the reader, who bothers to visit this site and read my waffling prose. I appreciate it a lot. I’m mulling over ideas to move the blog forward next year (a podcast maybe) but I’ll keep you posted. Alternatively, the blog may just self-implode due to my lack of posts and die an unnatural death. I really don’t want that to happen.

To you, the reader, I have this simple message: Have a great Christmas and New Year with your famlily and friends, enjoy and relax,  and let’s see what exciting things video games bring us in 2014.

Watch Dogs delayed: I have some theories

Wait a little longer: You'll have to wait until next year to play Ubisoft's Watch Dogs.

Wait a little longer: You’ll have to wait until next year to play Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs.

Watch Dogs, from Ubisoft, was a game I was looking forward to, so I was disappointed when Ubi announced the other day that it had been delayed until 2014.

Here’s the official line from the company: “Our ambition from the start with Watch_Dogs has been to deliver something that embodies what we wanted to see in the next-generation of gaming. It is with this in mind that we’ve made the tough decision to delay the release until Autumn 2014.

“We know a lot of you are probably wondering ‘why now?’ We struggled with whether we would delay the game. But from the beginning, we have adopted the attitude that we will not compromise on quality. As we got closer to release, as all the pieces of the puzzle were falling into place in our last push before completion, it became clear to us that we needed to take the extra time to polish and fine tune every detail so we can deliver a truly memorable and exceptional experience.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you. We thoroughly enjoy and appreciate the way you respond on the web, at events, press conferences and during other opportunities we have to interact. Your passion is what drives us.

“We can’t wait to see you in Chicago next Spring. We are confident you’ll love this game as much as we love working on it.”

I’m all for games being delayed if it’s going to give a better game – I think we all are – but is the delay of Watch Dogs really because Ubisoft wants “extra time to polish and fine tune every detail” or is it because Ubisoft was fearful that Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, which is releasing on October 29,  almost a month before Watch Dogs, would have taken sales away from Watch Dogs, a new and untested IP.  It’s a theory, anyway.


And here’s a conspiracy theory that I’m going to throw into the mix: Could the real reason for Watch Dogs being delayed be because Ubisoft aren’t happy with the state of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 version – and will eventually announce that the game will only come out on PC and next-generation consoles, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

I mean, it could happen, right? I saw some video comparisons of current generation Watch Dogs versus next-generation Watch Dogs and the current generation visuals looked poor when put alongside their next-generation brothers.  Will Ubisoft eventually make a surprise announcement that Watch Dogs is next-generation console and PC only?

I’m not worried about the console versions, anyway, I was going to buy it on PC anyway but one upside with the delay is that I now have a little longer before I’m forced to upgrade to Windows 8 from WIndows 7.

[Although, I may have to upgrade to Windows 8 sooner than expected as I’m expecting a review copy of Battlefield 4 and I believe that it runs better under Win 8. Oh, well.]