Gaming

How to Make a Clickbait Blog Post About How to Market Your Indie Game by Allison James

So you've decided to write a post about how to market your indie game. It might be on your own website, or on a gaming website that accepts guest articles and has a far-from-rigorous quality control. Great, the world needs so many more of these articles! Here's a how to.

Step 1: Make a game of dubious quality

Let's face it, the reason you're writing your marketing article is that you think that writing an article on how to market your indie game is an efficient and effective form of marketing your indie game. And you might be right! If you can bullshit enough tactics into it and really hammer home some arbitrary percentages on the ratio of developing to marketing you should be aiming for (and how going for 1% less than that is indie suicide), it's bound to get you at least 10 yesses on your game's Greenlight page. Or if your game is already through Greenlight, maybe someone will buy it once!

Step 2: Oh, but while you're at it, you should be tweeting pictures, GIFs, and videos of it

Lead by example! And then your pictures, GIFs and videos can get another round of attention when you cite/embed them into your article! You should also have an IndieDB page for both yourself/your company and your game, and keep churning out long and picture-heavy news articles about the development of your game on it - IndieDB will frontpage news articles only if they are informative and actually fucking interesting.

Step 3: Also, social media

USE TWITTERLOTSAnd, like, make sure you've got a growing follower list on it.And then do that for all the other popular social shit that everyone's got nowadays. Instachat, Snapgram, Facespace, Pinterflickr, everything. Even if you just use the wonderfully free and freely wonderful IFTTT to carbon copy your content from one social network to all the other ones, that's better than not having a presence on them at all.So there's two ways you can go about improving your follower count. Well, three, but if you do #3 and just go and buy them, none of your followers are going to actually have any interest in your content (making them useless) and anyone that looks through your followers on Twitter are going to see that you're the sort of dick that goes around giving shady companies money because you're self-conscious about the low size of certain numbers pertaining to you.Numero uno: "I'd rather take my time than be a knob". Pump out those GIFs of your game! Make them good! So good, that your 10 followers retweet it! And then two of those 10 followers' followers become YOUR followers! Rinse, and repeat. Basically, make content engaging. How do you make content engaging? Yeah, GIFs are great - they're that halfway point between screenshots (everyone will see it but it's static) and videos (it's interesting but only 10% of people might watch it), whereby it's a pared-down video of your game but people will still see it.By the way, to make gifs, a lot of bastards swear by GifCam, a program that directly and easily records footage to a GIF, but I find it's a bit buggy - the footage it captured of Innoquous 5 was corrupt and the filesizes were astronomical even for short GIFs. The longer method is essentially to capture a video of it then use something like GfyCat to convert it to a gif.Numero twono: "I'd rather be a knob than take my time". If you actually care about your Twitter timeline, start by making a list of people you currently follow. The tweets in that list are your new timeline, get used to it :) Now, create a free account on Crowdfire and use it to help you start culling people you're following that are inactive, or the people you followed at the earliest time that aren't following you back. Meanwhile in Keyword Follow, search for #gamedev or #indiedev and start whacking that Follow button on people, particularly those with more following than followers.While you'll receive less engagement (in general) from followers generated with this method than you would people following you because they saw and enjoyed your tweeted content, they will still be actual, active Twitter users that have at least some interest in indie games (because they were using #gamedev or #indiedev).One thing to note: Crowdfire's free accounts impose a limit of 25 people you can freshly follow and 100 people you can unfollow using them per day. It's worth actually sticking to this, I've never run into problems but Twitter isn't keen on you literally just following people with their potential follow-back in mind, and then unfollowing them when you don't receive it. So unless you hit Twitter's variable limit on number of people you can follow at once (starts at 2,000, increases the more followers you have), don't unfollow people you followed with this method.Oh, and one other thing. Crowdfire also has an option to automatically DM new followers. I'd recommend avoiding it, it's spammy and horrid. But yeah, use it daily to follow 25 fresh faces and grow your audience!

Step 4: Also, when the game is complete and tested but not out yet, start pumping out your own marketing

You need to actually follow someone else's shitty blogpost on how to market your indie game to market your indie game before you can make your own shitty blogpost on how to market your indie game. To market your indie game, you'll basically want to:

  1. Set a launch day for your game. Work out when the game will be done, then add some time after it for extra QA. And then add some more time after that, because it's going to go wrong in some surprising way. And then add some more time if that launch day clashes with a big release from some other indie or even a big AAA game. You'll clash with something, better it's a game your own game utterly outclasses
  2. Write a press release with an informative but attention grabbing title, and a few paragraphs of copy text explaining your game with both accuracy and attractiveness
  3. Link to a place where the game can be downloaded DRM-free for free, on every available platform
  4. Embed a couple screenshots. Good ones
  5. Link to the best trailer you or your friendly neighbourhood motion artist can produce that you've upload to YouTube, even if it's Unlisted for now
  6. On your website, get an extended presskit with a lovely .zip file containing all the copy text, screenshots, gifs etc of the game. Make them interesting as well as representative of your game. Make it clear they're freely usable. Just use Rami Ismail's presskit() for fuck's sake
  7. Link to that in the release as well
  8. Don't have a website? Make one, you prick
  9. Link to your website in the press release as well
  10. Okay, now email that bastard out. Lots. And lots.

So email it to who? Here's a comprehensive list of YouTubers, possibly the best way in 2015 to generate your press. Also, basically, do everything else on PixelProspector's marketing page."But Andrew," you exclaim with whimsical delight, "that page is just full of everything I was going to include in my blog post on how to market your indie game, along with other things I had entirely forgotten about or wasn't going to bother doing because it felt redundant and my game's so fucking good who cares - the first gullible bugger to buy it is going to cum in their pants in the first 5 seconds of playing and immediately do all my marketing for me!"Well, yes! Blog posts about how to market your indie game are all essentially just that PixelProspector article, with some vague, wandering mentions, as well as stealthy links of advertisement, of their own game, as well as "how they got on" written like it was the sort of thing your school made you do in essay form after two weeks of work experience.And for fuck's sake, don't just email press people - social media it up! Make sure that your tweets and posts are still engaging, nobody wants to see the same link to the same game in their timeline 100 times - and with one gentle smack of the Unfollow button, they don't have to. Keep booting out new screenshots, GIFs, and even the occasional video, and attach a unique one to each mention of your game. That way, even if someone's seeing it for the Nth time, they're still seeing fresh content along with it.

Step 5: Upload it to all the stores

Is it done? Sweet. Upload it to all the stores you're targeting with plenty of time remaining. Where possible, go through the buying/downloading process while the game is still private and make sure you didn't fluff the upload. Cool, that step was relatively easy, unless you're like me with a 425MB game on your hands and an internet connection that rivals dialup for shittitude.ALTHOUGH, if something does go wrong, there's a silver lining to this thundersnow cloud - your game might suffer a loss of sales, but it makes for some great content to blab about in the mandatory "Mistakes I Made" section of your blog post about how to market your indie game!By the way, if a store allows HTML tags (or similar) in the description, for god's sake doll it up - pictures as headers for each section. And if you're doing your game's itch.io page, customise it!

Step 6: Now release the bastard

Hey look, release day! Assuming you've reached it smoothly (and if not, why not, you gimboid), all the stores it's on should unlock its content! Great! MOAR TWEETS. Again, if shit goes wrong here - your game doesn't work on any Nvidia cards because you've been a tit and only tested it on AMD ones - you've got content for your blog post about how to market your indie game.

Step 7: Give it a few months

Keep tweeting new content. Retweet, or tweet to, YouTube videos and articles that cover your game. meanwhile, start on your new game. You'll need to reference this in your blog post about how to market your indie game.There are things you can do post-release to help market your game as well. Give away free one-time use codes to the game. Turn it into a game - stick a ? in place of one of the code's letters/numbers - this also serves the purpose of stopping code-grabbing reseller bots from registering it in place of an actual interested person. If your game includes a level editor, do a little competition on who can make the best level. Or competitions for first person to complete the game, or best score, or quickest completion of a particular level. Make it so that people tweet their entries, so their followers see it and possibly get interested in the game and shit!I mean, you could even pull the age-old crap where you give something to a random person that follows you and retweets a specific competition tweet during a set amount of time!Just remember everything you're doing, it's crucial that you tell other people to do that exact same thing in your blog post about how to market your indie game. So maybe write it all down for the ultimate in blog postage.While this is happening, prepare a load of graphs. They don't really have to be relevant to much, but then in your blog post about how to market your indie game, you can point at all the anomalies and speculate aimlessly about what caused those bits of your graph to not be in the right place. You can also take your mandatory Sales by Week graph with its inevitable downward trend, and point that out, as if nobody ever realised that games become less popular as time progresses.

Step 8: Fuck me, it's time for your blog post about how to market your indie game

You've got your game that performed below expectations probably, because very few games perform above them. You've got your three months of wisdom. You've got graphs, GIFs, and gumpf. Time to do your article.Go back to PixelProspector's marketing page. Like every other bastard on the planet that's written a blog post about how to market their indie games, basically paraphrase it. But for each thing that that page recommends, slot in how you went about that thing for your game, with examples embedded and sources linked.There are extra things you'll need to do for your article. For starters, make up a good figure for the aforementioned ratio of developing to marketing you should be aiming for. Don't go for 50/50, everyone goes for 50/50. Do like 57% marketing, 43% developing or some breakthrough shit. Really blow some fledgeling indie minds as to how goddamn important marketing is. Keep using the word marketing, even long after you've written the entire article and are now attending your grandmother's marketing. Chisel marketing into her tombstone. And fuck it, the two percentages don't even need to add up to 100. Make them add up to 107%, that way you can tell people that it's the extra 7% that makes a game successful. That way, your readers think they've just opened Pandora's Box and found it to be full of fivers.Another one you absolutely must do, as has also been mentioned, is your Mistakes section. Come up with some mistakes you made, because you were an inexperienced dildo when you started but now you're the fucking indie second coming of Christ. These mistakes should be silly oversights - "whoops, forgot to make a game lol!" isn't going to suffice here. Show how you learnt from those mistakes. If you didn't make any mistakes, your mistake was thinking that a 56,277th article on how to market your indie game was a productive use of your time. It is only a productive use of your time if you made a more successful game than anyone who has ever previously written about how to market your indie game.But here's the most important thing you need for your article on how to market your indie game. You need a hook. A hook, unique to your article and your article alone. A singular piece of advice that the entire article revolves around. Don't make it "you need to make the game for yourself", that's bullshit. Maybe "you make the game for your mother". Or "you only program after you've downed a bottle of Jack Daniels". Or "every 20 minutes, you take a small break to writhe around on your floor naked pretending you're a wriggly worm". Something.Personally, I went for "make it seem like the article on how to market your indie game is taking the piss out of itself".

VOTE FOR INNOQUOUS 5 THANKS

PIXELPROSPECTOR'S FUCKING MARKETING GUIDE

Game of the Years by Allison James

For some reason, every time I've finished the last couple of games I've bought, my end thought was "This is good, but it won't take Portal 2's place as my Game of the Year". I've never, ever thought about what my personal game of any particular year would be. But this got me thinking what they would be for each of the last few years (ie the PlayStation 3 era, the one I know).Here are my listings so far for 2007-2013.20071. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion2. Uncharted: Drake's Fortune3. Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction20081. Grand Theft Auto IV2. LittleBigPlanet3. Burnout Paradise20091. Brutal Legend2. Skate 23. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves20101. Skate 32. Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City3. Dead Rising 220111. Deus Ex: Human Revolution2. Portal 23. LA Noire20121. Sleeping Dogs2. Batman: Arkham City Armoured Edition3. Professor Layton and the Miracle MaskHere's some explanations now.2007 was easily the weakest year of gaming PlayStation 3 had. Along with the price, the console was initially ripped apart for it. It did have some goodness though. Brilliant exclusives Uncharted, like a better version of Tomb Raider, and Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction, strong sequel to the PS2 series (and the first "proper" R&C game for four years), were followed by ports of other successful games like Elder Scrolls IV and Tony Hawk's Project 8 (which missed the top three despite how much I played it - it was pre-Skate so I'd not moved series at that point). There were other exclusives I enjoyed as well; MotorStorm, the game I got along with the PS3 on its launch, was good fun but mainly just a filler for the space between Burnout Revenge and Burnout Paradise, and Resistance: Fall of Man, a decent enough FPS and perhaps one of the last FPSes I've cared enough about to do that with.Following 2007 was 2008, which was really, really strong in releases. It kills me to put Burnout Paradise as third favourite since I loved it so much, but it unfortunately was released in the same year as the near-perfect Grand Theft Auto IV, and the vastly-community-expanded sandbox-lover's-wet-dream LittleBigPlanet. Had it been released in 2009 it would have been first place. GTAIV tops the list with absolute ease; one of the best game storylines I've ever witnessed (if anyone ever made a Grand Theft Auto TV show I would not remotely complain if they just shoved some real actors into GTAIV's cutscenes and filled the gameplay bits with filler content), along with the best-crafted gaming city I know. Seriously, San Andreas may have been bigger and Vice City glitzier, but IV's rendition of Liberty City is a beautiful, memorable, fun-to-explore take on New York. With a great physics engine that means you can now push people down flights of stairs or trip them up over kerbs, a shooting/covering system I only wish could be transplanted into the PS2-era GTA trilogy (I can't enjoy them as much now I know what IV had), and two expansion packs that only upped its excellence (see 2010) GTAIV has won a permanent place in my heart.2009 was okay at best. Brutal Legend was a stunning game, if not quite as interesting as Double Fine's earlier outing Psychonauts. The only big detractors for me of Brutal Legend were the strategy segments. I cannot stand strategy games, so despite it being difficult I spent most of them in the action style (you can stay omniscient and manage your troops and/or hop down as Eddie Riggs and take them on yourself). Skate 2 ate a ton of my free time, just wandering around the universe. The walking, while present (in Skate you could only skate), was dodgy, and because the entire level was on a hill I always seemed to end up at the bottom of it. But it was an excellent time sink. And Uncharted 2 was pretty fun. I'd have put it higher but, while I find the games very fun, there are others I prefer and that hold the memories better for me. With Uncharted, I play it a ton, finish it in a week, and ignore it forever.Then 2010 came along, and somehow it was worse for me. I enjoyed the Grand Theft Auto IV expansions (I got my Xbox 360 this year), Skate 3 was a fantastic improvement on Skate 2 and once again ate hundreds of hours of my time. There weren't many other games I was truly into in 2010 so I put Dead Rising 2 third, which was fun in short doses and in spite of the ridiculous lack of a "sandbox" mode (you HAVE to do the story, and you HAVE to do certain quests which are far less fun than just killing zombies).2011 was stunning. Best game lineup I've ever seen, and the first year where I had to fight multiple games. Honourable mentions would be Pokémon Black, LittleBigPlanet 2, The Elder Scrolls IV: Skyrim, and Saints Row The Third, all of which I adored. But the best three are headed by Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I was enamoured with it from start to finish (ignoring the bosses). It's one of those games that just let me play it however I damn wanted to. My mate would take a turn and do things all-guns blazing, I got to hide in pipes like a wimp and stealth-kill people. The missions were endearing, the side missions interesting enough, the game was sexy (though very black and orange) - it was just excellent. Narrowly second (I swore this would be first until I touched Deus Ex) was Portal 2. Portal 2 did the odd thing of making me nostalgic for it just days after completing it. While short, it was flat-out hilarious, memorable, stupidly clever - stunning stuff. And third goes to LA Noire, yet another memorable and unique experience. The facial motion tech it displayed was stellar, the game was interesting and long, it was set in a period not often seen in games and... yes, I just loved it.2012 was, for me, the year of the sandbox (weird given GTA didn't get a release that year). As well as finishing Saints Row The Third in 2012, I bought and played through Sleeping Dogs and Batman: Arkham City (the Wii U edition, so it was technically a 2012 release for me). Sleeping Dogs was another great sandbox game, though part of me kept dreaming about GTA V while playing it. Batman was fantastic, I'm surprised I hadn't bought the original version on impulse but it did mean I had a launch game on Wii U that wasn't the meh-tastic ZombiU. Speaking of the WiiU, it had a pretty good launch lineup! Ignoring ZombiU, I enjoyed four of its launch titles a ton - Batman, NintendoLand, New Super Mario Bros U and Sonic and Sega All-Star Racing Transformed. Best launch lineup I've seen for a console in recent memory (hi, PS3!). I put Professor Layton third because I fucking loved that too. I've loved all the Professor Layton games, but Miracle Mask was the best one I've seen since the first one.I predict for 2013 that GTA V will win it (GTA IV remains my favourite 7th Gen game to date), followed by Watch Dogs for PS4 and then... well, I don't know! Let's say Far Cry 3 or Tomb Raider's reboot for now.

eBay Score! by Allison James

I browse eBay a lot for random job lots that are low on auction time and price alike. I just, for £70, got a chipped PlayStation 1 with two controllers, two memory cards, all the PS1 original manuals (and Demo 1, which is awesome)... and the following Japanese PS1 games:

Alundra 2
Arc the Lad III
Biohazard Director's Cut (Resident Evil)
Biohazard 2 DualShock Ver.
Biohazard 3 Last Escape
Black/Matrix+
Bloody Roar
Bloody Roar 2: Bringer of the New Age
Bomberman World
Brave Fencer Musashiden (x2, different boxart on each)
Brave Prove
Brave Saga
Bushido Blade 2
Captain Commando
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Chrono Cross
Chrono Trigger
Chocobo No Fushigina Dungeon
Command & Conquer Red Alert 2
Complete Graphics
Crisis Beat
Cyber Org
Dance Dance Revolution 2nd Remix
Dance Dance Revolution 2nd Remix Vol 1
Darius
Dead or Alive
Dewprism
Dino Crisis
Dino Crisis 2
Dragon Quest 2
Ehrgeiz
Fifa 99
Fighting Force
Final Fantasy V
Final Fantasy VIII (x2, though one's only one disc)
Final Fantasy IX
Get In The Tomorrow
GETTER ROBOT the BIG BATTLE!
Gran Turismo
Gran Turismo 2
Gundam The Battle Master 2
Hokutonoken Seikimatsukyuseisyudensetsu (dead serious)
Houshinengi
J.League 1999
Kagero
Kiganjo
The King of Fighters '97
The King of Fighters '98
The King of Fighters '99
The King of Fighters KYO
Koudelka
The Legend of Dragoon
Legend of Mana
Lunar Silver Star Story
Macross Digital Mission VF-X
Macross VF-X 2
Marvel vs Capcom Clash of Super Heroes EX Edition
Metal Gear Solid
Metal Slug: Super Vehicle-001
Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack
Mobile Suit Gundam: Perfect One Year War
Mobile Suit Gundam: Version 2.0
Mobile Suit Z-Gundam
Mortal Kombat 4
OverBlood 2
Panzer Warfare
Parasite Eve
Parasite Eve II
Pocket Fighter
Pop 'n Tanks!
Puzzle Bobble 4
Racing Lagoon: High Speed Driving RPG
Real Bout Special: Dominated Mind
Real Robot Battle Line
Real Robots Final Attack
Ridge Racer Type 4
Road Rash 3-D
Rockman X-4 (Megaman)
Rockman X-5
Runabout-2
Saga Frontier
Saga Frontier II
Samurai Shodown Special
Samurai Shodown Warrior's Rage
SD Gundam G-Generation
SD Gundam G-Generation Zero
SD Hero Fighter
Shiritsu Justice Gakuen Nekketsu Seisyun Nikki (assumed, same Kanji as sequel but without the 2 or the English...)
Shiritsu Justice Gakuen Nekketsu Seisyun Nikki 2
Silent Hill
Sin SD Sengokuden Kidoumushataisen
Sol Divide
Soukaigi
Star Ocean: The Second Story
Street Fighter Collection
Street Fighter EX-2 Plus
The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love.
Super Robot Wars Alpha
Super Robot Wars Complete Box
Super Robot Wars F (x2)
Super Robot Wars F Final
Tales of Destiny
Tales of Eternia
Tekken III
Tenchu
Tobal 2
UEFA Champion's League Season 1998/99
Valkyrie Profile
Wild Arms 2nd Ignition
Winning Eleven 2000 (either ISS or Pro Evolution Soccer)
X-Men vs Street Fighter Ex Edition
Xenogears
Zill O'll
??? (Super Robot Wars game)
???
??? (I imagine it's Japanese letters not Latin numerals but it looks like 335 something)
??? It's something to do with The King of Fighters)
??? Something II
...as well as two GameWeekly demo discs and a few unlabelled VCDs (I think) I'll be testing later.

Tombi, The £65 Preowned PS1 Game by Allison James

I have no idea where this sudden urge to blog multiple times has come from, honest!Being in employment, I finally have some money I can use to "complete" my video game collection. When I say complete, I mean of all the games I've ever wanted to own as opposed to absolutely everything (nigh on impossible!). In the last eight months or so I've been able to acquire such games as Gitaroo Man and Amplitude (both the sequel to a game I was lucky enough to get early, FreQuency, and the precursor to Harmonix's more famous games Guitar Hero 1 & 2 and the Rock Band series), two games that next to never appear in game stores and cost a good £20 pre-owned on sites like eBay - rather expensive for an old PlayStation 2 game. Kula World, sealed copies of which can sell for £200, and Bishi Bashi Special, another firm favourite game of mine (which I stupidly bought new but sold), were lucky hits as they both appeared as downloadable games on the PlayStation Store.But there's always been one I've never managed to own, and arguably the one I've wanted most. Tombi, known in America (AFAIK) as either Tomba or Tonba, has never appeared in any other application or on any other console. It's not on the PS Store, the franchise has been gone since Tombi 2 around ten years ago, also on PS1, and copies of it are about as common as days Paris Hilton isn't blowing some random bloke off.I've scouted eBay for months now, always looking for a cheap copy of Tombi. It's never happened. Copies usually sell for £60-70 for a working, used copy, new copies cost upwards of £300. It's scarce as all hell. But goddamn, it's a beautiful game. I'd happily recommend it if it was more readily available; alas, it's not, and I doubt I'd persuade many people with "It's a great 2D platformer, well worth the $120", so all I'll say is "if you're a lucky enough bastard to find a cheap copy, get it".But today I caved in. A copy selling on eBay for £72 (£1.99 P&P, £69.99 game) sat in my eyeline, longing for my money. So I put an offer in at £53.01, which would with P&P total £55. I got counteroffered - £64.99 for the game. Counteroffering with £58.01, bringing the total game cost to £60, I got it one more time with a final offer of £62.99. I accepted.I figure there's some sense to it all. If I truly love the game (which I suspect I will), I can keep it and it'll be a little personal treasure. If I complete it and have no desire to do so again, or if I don't even like it as much as the demo I used to replay continuously made me think I will, I can put it back on eBay and essentially get my money back!Whatever happens, all I'll know is the moment it pops through my letterbox, before I give it a PS3 to run it, I'll give it a hug. It cost me enough to warrant one!

A Day At Norwich by Allison James

Well, not a day really. Five hours or so.But earlier today, me and a friend (same one as from the "Falsettoing like Matthew Bellamy" musing) went to Norwich, the nearest legit city to here. We went to watch Iron Man 2, so I'll discuss that first.

It was generally a fairly decent film. Certainly enjoyable, just a bit naff and with a slightly crap story behind it. But the effects used were brilliantly done, the fight scenes were well thought out and great to watch, and some of the humour, mostly by Downey Jr himself, was very funny.

The downside was the price. The ticket itself cost £7.10. It goes up by about 50p a year. Extortionate in itself, but then I got the slush puppy. That was a further £4.50. Money grabbing bastards.

The other main thing we did, after Iron Man 2, was wander down to the mall. I went into Game Station and got myself five old gems of games. Matt, being highly opinionated, basically slandered all the old games as rubbish because of their age. It pissed me off but at the same time an inner part of me smiled at his elitist ignorance. I will, on occasion, get a game that's only been out a week or so, but I don't see the point in doing it constantly when I can... well, today's finds bring up a good example. I got a copy of The Getaway on PS2. It'll provide me with a few hours' entertainment and I'll have fun with it. It cost 98p.

The other games I got were True Crime: Streets of LA, Wild Wild Racing (incidentally the first PS2 game I ever played), and WipEout Fusion, all for PS2, and Virtua Tennis 3 for PS3 (an odd choice, but I remember having fun with the demo, so what the hey).

Anyway, I reckon it's time to enjoy this more-than-acceptable stack of games, while Matt is likely at home playing one drivelly shooter that cost him four times as much as my pile did in total (£10.96!).

One last note - happy birthday, Greyson!

Falsettoing like Matthew Bellamy by Allison James

So yesterday I went to a friend's house for a few hours, after my weekly shop shift (which, pleasingly, I have a week off of next week, meaning I only have to do one more until I hit 19). We fit in some gaming. He played a couple of my creations - madnessMADNESSmadness and Confusion Readily Achieved Perspectively Through Unrealistic Relative Dimensions. That's beside the point though. As well as quick goes on Fallout 3 (my game, but he's borrowing it at the moment and loving it) and WipEout HD Fury (also my game, got it on disc and took it over) we had a go on Guitar Hero 5. He has the entire kit.So, with him on the guitar, I had a choice between drums and singing (I'm awful with the guitar so I couldn't do bass). And, despite every inch of me thinking it'd be more humanly kind not to, but with encouragement from him as the drums are a pain in the arse to set up and require makeshift drum sticks... I sang. To mixed in-game results.

We started off with Michael Jackson's "Beat It". I annoyed Matt with a joke about how he's probably not beating it any more, then the song started. We BOTH blew it and lost about halfway through, though I was seeming to hit some of the screechy chorusy bits.

We did several other songs. My worst result came from Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" - I couldn't physically hit the lowest note sung in it, and if I went an octave higher I kept missing all the highest ones! A couple other songs basically proved to me that I'm a lot better when I know the lyrics off by heart. His fairly small TV makes lyrics difficult to read, especially as they're streaming across like lightning and split up into syllables. I was also generally worse at verses than I was at choruses, possibly also due to the unfamiliarity (pretty much everyone can do the chorus of Thin Lizzy's "Jailbreak", but all the verses are all over the place).

My best result? For Muse - Plug In Baby. For anyone that knows Muse, you'll know that the lead singer, Matthew Bellamy, frequently implements falsetto (really, really high) vocals into the band's songs. Plug In Baby features this. And, embarrassingly or otherwise, I hit the falsetto part NEARLY perfectly. I cocked it up with the final huge word, in which I began coughing uncontrollably. After the song I retained a headache for the remainder of the night, and my resulting sore throat continues to bug me right now, despite the medicine I took a few hours ago. I got 98% overall on Plug In Baby, by the way. I didn't drop below 60% in any song we played (we did about ten-fifteen), and only went below 70% in one - the first one.

But it was fun. I'm feeling the after-effects, and I'm sure Matt regrets ever letting me get my mits on that microphone. It was nothing short of fun though. I'm sure if I go over there again sometime we'll play it again.

I think my singing career is done for now, however.

Demo Review - Skate 3 by Allison James

Having very much enjoyed, and still being an owner and player of, both Skate and Skate 2, I felt a level of excitement suddenly born inside myself when I heard a friend mention the existance of a demo of the third instalment being publically available. I've now managed to give it a play, to mixed feelings.My first impressions were good. It appears that they've completely dropped the grunge act they had going in the first two games. Skate had erosion abundantly, its sequel not quite so much but still a fair bit. It seems now to be shiny, good-looking interface-wise and definitely an improvement. Having said that, I'm surprised they dropped it - as cliché and boring as it's gotten over the last decade, it seems to be a staple for any game where its average player might refer to friends as "brothers" and anything that looks rather pleasant as "rad", "cool", "wicked", or any other buzzword that got boring years ago but remains in heavy usage.

Before I got into the game I was given a set of options. These included a new difficulty mode (I started with "Normal", more on this later), the choice between the two camera angles Skate 2 had (I chose the further-away, slightly-more-overhead one, the dynamic one makes me feel sick), and a choice between five characters (presumably a demo-only feature as the two before it had you make your own character).

So, into the game. I was greeted with some douche with an annoying face and a more annoying voice. I skipped his stuff as quickly as I could, completed the first task (with a rather pleasant 180 kickflip) then got away from the goals and went to spend my 20 minutes of demo time in the small allowed area.

I spent five minutes just trying out all my favourite, and all the generic, manoeuvres from Skate 2. The kickflips, the ollies, the twists, the grinds, the obligatory Hippie jumps etc. To be honest, it felt worse than 2. The Hippie jump in particular feels really floaty in comparison to the old version. Getting off your board and moving on foot, however, is much, much better. Skate 2's walking was as good as broken, with what must've been an attempt at dynamic running ending up as spasticated can't-turn-very-well running. With Skate 3, it's whichever-way-the-stick-is-pointed that's-the-direction-you-run-in. Lovely stuff. But the jumping (not really Hippie jumping because there's no skateboard involved) is just as broken as its boarded counterpart.

I noticed something else which I didn't like. The HUD is just as clean and beautiful as the menus, which is a positive. But the negative is that there's no colour coding for multipliers. With Skate 2, 1.5x resulted in green, 2x resulted in yellow and 3x red. Now, 1.5x is blue, 2x blue and 3x... well, a slightly shinier blue. But it's still blue so you have to physically glance down to see how many extra points you're getting.

So, with the disappointment of the controls and everything down, I decided to try out the other two difficulty modes to see if they made it better. They did nothing. I couldn't tell the difference between the three. All I know is that if I do get the game in the future I'll be playing it on Hardcore because it'll probably net me more trophies.

I can't comment a huge amount on the music because I'm sure that, being a demo, it's only partial. But the tracks the demo had were crap. I gave them the whole 20 minutes just to see if I started enjoying them after a while, I didn't. I wasn't a fan of Skate 2's soundtrack either though - I either played it muted and with my own music, or just listened to Money For Love's "For Kristoffer" on repeat. So, meh.

Overall though, it's not bad but it's not great. It'll be a future purchase, I'm sure, but there's no chance in hell it'll be a full-on £40 one. I'll likely wait until I can get hold of it for £10-15, maybe £20 - then it'll be more worthwhile. But for now, I'll get my skating-game kicks from Skate 2, while shedding the occasional tear at how badly Tony Hawk's games died. Tony Hawk's RIDE... you son of a bitch.

A Message From Home, Part I by Allison James

As many may know I am the owner, and enjoyer, of a PlayStation 3. I am also a big fan of its Second Life-esque free program, PlayStation Home.For starters, if you also play Home or PS3, feel free to add my PSN accounts - NAL-Games (for pretty much all games), and NAL-USA (which I use for Home because the American Home is better and the people I know go on this version too). If you don't go on Home though there's really no need to add the latter.So, today, I spent a while having a bit of fun doing the usual - exploration, free gift whoring etc. I also decided to get the camera out and take some pictures detailing this, so here it is, a little "story" kind of thing, featuring 19 pictures taken from Home. Click pictures to see them in high resolution.-----My miniature adventure began in the most recent of two Irem locations, Seaside of Memories, a pretty little oasis-like area featuring a beach, a bit of greenery you can't really explore, some ocean and a bunch of huts on piers containing mini-PS Stores with some inexpensive clothing for purchase. Yesterday I'd had a slight explore, but today I decided to go a little further around. I noticed no boundaries leading out to the sea, so I assumed some kind of invisible wall would cut me off. Wrong. You can actually go fully underwater, bringing up a breath meter and allowing you to go not too shabby a distance before some kind of fish netting halts you. There's actually an item underwater, marked with a sort of shining effect. And I promise I didn't pee underwater.-----I didn't see much throughout the rest of the exploration. As mentioned I'd already had a gander at the shop area - nothing much, just a few beds and sun loungers to sit on and a few things trying to wrangle 99 cents out of me in exchange for a tacky virtual hat. Though one other thing I did see, as illustrated (quite small), was a group of four friends, all dressed very oddly. It was disappointing that the cut off was so quick to come, the grassy, foresty part of the level looks both pretty and very explorable. Alas, no. There's one seemingly open gap, but it's just a bus stop to provide you with a quick route to Irem Square.-----So, with the bus providing a nice, easy route to the Square, a place which from prior experience has always been chock-full of free goodies, I took off. Irem Square is a very pretty-looking place. Set in a Japan-ish area, and packed with lights and a rather nice background track, it immediately sets a very pleasant atmosphere. I couldn't bring myself to run around. I had to walk. The picture shows what it's like from the ground level (click it to see what the caption is on about). But, yeah. Having a wander around showcases all the freebies available. If, when entering the level, you head left and move clockwise around the area, you see these.-----Firstly, there's a guy that gives out masks. Different mask each day. I've collected three, six different ones are on display though so I presume I still need three. They're annoying to wear because you can't have them on your face (they rest on the side). Then there's a food vendor - just for decoration of rooms. A shooting minigame is next, in which you can shoot off prizes to win. Easy peasy. Prizes are all decorative, though the L block acts as a seat. There's then a row with nothing but a money shop, then a stall in which you can win four decorative fish, including one I actually have two of myself - the ranchu. Was easy enough to win all four, though I couldn't play the game particularly competently because the stupid net thing kept breaking on me. After that it's mostly just decorative stuff for homes. You can also go up onto the bridge, which has a shady dealer which gives away shirts every day, and a really pleasant view of the village you irritatingly can't get to.-----The next stop was relatively short - a trip to the socialite paradise Singstar room. I'd not been here much before purely because it's so small and eventless - a few seats, a lot of lights, and a TV with music video extracts on (along with a thingy that lets you vote for which extract you want to see next. Sickeningly includes Amy Winehouse). But it is a pretty place. Infact, the entire neon aesthetic's beautifulness is second only to the Proclaimers - the Scottish singing duo whose song I Wanna Be (500 Miles) can be played (well, a short extract of it), on one of the walls. Try as I might I couldn't get a picture of them. Seems the camera dislikes video feeds.-----Next was the MotorStorm room, a place I'd yet to see. Shame really, as it's actually one of the bigger places. It's also probably the most varied. As I entered I was immediately greeted with none other than a dancefloor. It was fairly populated, with a plethora of people doing a total of about four dances. There was also a nice little eavesdropping opportunity - a girl giving a guy a lecture on why "hi, wanna cam?" is a pickup line second only to a death threat on the success scale. I didn't stay in this part of the Motorstorm area long, and presumed that it had little else to offer. I was proved wrong.-----After a nice trek over an odd path made out of wreckages of cars, pieces of sheet metal and all stereotypical junkyard stuff, I came across (innuendo block) a really rather stunning view - helicopters were flying past, a distant volcano was spewing smoke (topical!), a number of spotlights were shining into the air, and ships were sitting in the ocean. For such a mechanical site it was really quite compelling and had me staring for quite a few minutes, just trying to pick out each little detail featured in the landscape. When I broke away from the view I also went on to find a hidden area with a set of bright blue arcade cabinets containing a Motorstorm minigame I was entirely useless at.-----For my final destination I went to an old favourite, the Resident Evil Studio Lot. It's not a massive place but there's a lot of room for exploration and it's well made. Highlights include a little meat shop perfect for hide and seek (if only your nametag got the fucking hint and went dark), a crappy minigame, and some really good-looking puddles (I'm not joking). Lowlights include this man, who appeared to be an OAP BDSM angel. Complete with a sparkler. And a bald customer. Yeah.-----So that completes my Home story for today. Don't know when I'll be making another one but I'm sure I will one day. To see a complete collection of all the photos I've taken from it, including several from today I couldn't fit into this entry, please see the Flickr set here.Until next time. See y'all!

Integers, Nostalgia & Gitaroo by Allison James

Quite possibly the oddest blog entry name I've ever extrapolated from the murky depths of my brain.So, anyway, part one. Integers. Yesterday I participated in NT in a friendly "make a game within a set hour" competition. Amazingly, he actually bloody finished. His game was a jet pod-esque game by the name of Poorple (a portmanteau of his opinion of the game and the colour of the majority of objects in it). Mine was a game originally to be called 1234. I decided against that, it was boring. So I made it rhyme: "1234 LMV in Ecuador!". It's a kinda outright lie, I lost it in some empty village, but eeh. Anyway, I liked the concept of the game but wanted to make it just a little bit bigger. So I made it longer, added a tutorial/title and a finish, and a speedrun mode. Accompanying this, I renamed it to 1n23g4r - 1234 embedded near-legibly into the word "INTEGER". You pronounce the game name "Integer", not "Onentwothreegfourr", by the way. You can play it on YoYo Games or on Game Jolt.Part two - nostalgia. This is a short bit. I just find it odd how certain songs trigger an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia, even if they're not really tied to an event. Tracks that do this to me include Kasabian - LSF, Deepest Blue - Give It Away, Jamelia - Thank You (you heard), Dodgy - Good Enough, and the song that triggered it today, one of my all time favourites - Portishead - Sour Times. If Dr Horrible's freeze ray was a real object, then he must've shot me in the back as I listened to it. Odd.Part three - Gitaroo. About a week ago I got hold of a copy of Gitaroo Man on PS2. I have spend six goddamn years trying to get hold of a copy of this game, and it finally happened. As a direct result, I did the impossible. I broke my sleeping pattern even more. I was up until one in the afternoon playing the bloody game. (Subsequently I was down until seven in the evening eating pillow as my poor, decrepit body desperately tried to refuel my energy.) Now I'm stuck on it. God, Japanese studios really don't hold back on the difficulty of their games. Katamari Forever before it was one massive difficult pain in the arse.NALGames.com V4 is finished. Sean Buller finished it off and fixed a few of the bugs, and I've filled in everything I could find. Unfortunately I've lost all trace of the two fonts I made, but they weren't very good so I guess it was just my computer doing me a favour. If you've any bug reports or want to see an editable up that isn't yet, comment with it. I'll forward bug reports to Sean, and I'll be 99% okay with adding pretty much any editable you want to the site.Also in website-related news, me and Sean are creating a website for the somehow-unpublished Rebecca Smith. Her site's been a Synthasite jobbie for a while, and we decided that we'd make her a lovely big custom one to her design. I've also bought a .com domain for it and customised her a Blogspot skin based quite heavily on my own. She's highly appreciative of the work we've done so far which is a great motivation in making it. If you want to see her work, check out her current site at http://rebeccaclaresmith.com/ or her journal at http://rebeccaclaresmith.blogspot.com/.One more subject to converse about is how Clank needs to go and die. If you're a Twitter follower of mine you may know what that means. Basically, having played all the main Ratchet & Clank games and been in deep love with the series, A Crack In Time is like an OmniWrench to the gut. The platformingy-Ratchety sections were trimmed down in this one. The rest of the game is occupied by space sections (better than previous spaceship levels but there's too much of it), and Clank levels. Oh god, Clank Levels. I've always hated him. His tininess makes levels slow enough as it is, but the fact that all of his levels have the same tedious puzzles, boring location, and mind-blowing repetition just made me go "Oh f***, not again" every time I was thrown into the little isn't-funny-any-more piece of metal's shoes.But yeah, that's all. I shall be entering the Game Jolt Jam tomorrow/in two days (depending on how you look at it), so while it's going on you should be able to find up-to-date information through:Livestream (NALGames)Twitter (NALGames)Game Jolt's chatroom (NAL)Skype (NAL-Games)And that is all. G'bye folks!NAL

Charity Shops are the Tits by Allison James

That sums up what the majority of this post will encompass.Had to wake up at 8am today (when you've fallen into the habit of sleeping between 6am and 2pm that's a kick to the nuts) to go with my mum to Diss (closest town to here) to withdraw money to pay bills and stuff. Anyway, Diss is a small town, but it has a huge amount of charity shops. Quite a few people no doubt look at charity shops and die a little inside. I know a couple of my friends that won't buy anything unless it's new. I consider myself more sensible, though.Charity shops, to me, are the key to legally downloading near-free films. Put it this way - I can walk into a charity shop, and pick up five old VHS films for £1. That's 20p each. I then have the license to the films, so regardless of the quality of the VHS, I can download their .avi files legally. Easy peasy. Of course, they're not all 20p - it just depends on the charity shop.So today, I bought the following from charity shops:Little Britain Live on DVD, wrapped, for £3Two Mr Bean videos, comprising two episodes each, 29p eachIndiana Jones trilogy (not the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull shit), £2 - later discovered all three videos are wrappedBilly Connolly live show VHS, 20pTitanic VHS, 20pIndependence Day VHS, 20pHarry Enfield and Friends, three episodes VHS, 20pBeing John Malkovich VHS, 20pThe last one, Being John Malkovich, I'd been wanting to watch for a while. I did so earlier today - all I can say is "wow". If you haven't seen this film, next time you see it I'd advise you to buy it. It's stunning.I'm up to 11 levels in The Inverse Man, but apart from that, no new game making progress to report.Another story. About ten days ago I went with my dad to a car boot sale. I love these for a similar reason to charity shops, though with a car boot sale you can get ANYTHING cheap. I have a first edition PlayStation 3, aka a backward compatible one. I gave my dad my PS2 when I bought it since I didn't need it any more - I didn't consider errors in running PS2 games on a PS3 because I'd not experienced any problems five years prior when upgrading my PS1 to a PS2. Anyway, turns out there WERE a fair few problematic games:Ape Escape (PS1): "Press Start" won't recognise the pressing of startCanis Canem Edit: Occasionally freezesMetal Gear Solid 3: Frequently freezesRatchet & Clank 2-3: Runs at about 15FPSSSX3: Works for five minutes in-game then freezesI'd wanted to play all of those for a while now, so when I went to the car boot sale I decided to scout out a PS2.Got one with two controllers for £4. Works perfectly. I also bought a memory card for it, which amazingly cost £6. Sweet imbalance.I also got DRIV3R for £4, Ratchet & Clank 1 for £4, the first two then-WWF Smackdown games on PS1 for £1 each, and two live Al Murray stand up shows.That's pretty much it for this blog. I'll try to balance the game making and life sides of blog entries in the future, though, at times like this, when one is being more dominant than the other, something like this one will appear.Goodbye for now!~NAL