Microsoft are leading the way…

Microsoft made a mistake when they announced the Xbox One. They stayed the fact that they would download games and so when you bought a game it would have a one use code. This meant at the time theoretically you couldn’t trade games in, you couldn’t sell a game on and people felt they would loose out. This however was way ahead of the time and now a good percentage of gamers download from Xbox Live only. I know that’s me as I’d much rather have all my games on the cloud rather than clogging up my book shelves.

Personally I’m slightly different to most as I don’t buy games at launch rather wait for a game to drop in price and purchase it then. There’s very few games I will grab at launch… Halo being one of them.

For the past few years services have popped up in the Xbox. First of all EA Access which for £20 gives you a selection of EA back catalogue games. This is a fair price however due to it being only EA the range of games is limited. Microsoft started their own version the Game Pass which gave the user a good selection of 1st and 3rd party titles. Initially it seemed ok but did I want to play old games. Was it worth the money.

Yesterday as I write this Microsoft had their 2019 E3 presentation and something that stood out was a lot of their 1st party games were available day one on the game pass. Now they’ve done this before with Crackdown 3 and a few other games but this showed virtually all of them on it.

This excites me… this is the future of gaming. Netflix changed the way we consume media and Microsoft is bringing that model to the Xbox and has been slowly changing the way we play our games over the last few years. They also announced the cloud service which will allow game streaming. This will reduce the need for a costly console full of storage so they can focus on the power alone.

Finally they have launched the Game Pass Ultimate that for a monthly cost gives you Game Pass for the Xbox and PC plus Xbox Live. I’ve signed up. I’ll never need to buy games again. I’ll happily try new games as they’re essentially free.

I see this being the future and I’m happy. I see developers being able to make smaller games or seasons and throw them on the service. I can also see Sony soon following too. It’s a win for us all.

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Kill Team

There’s a challenge I have faced during the entire life time of playing war games…. this challenge is one of pure boredom and anguish. On one side there are these amazing minutes made by Games Workshop (and those from other companies too, Malifaux in particular) which are so well sculpted and designed and look amazing on the tabletop. On the other side however is the painting. So with that I mind I now pronounce….

I do not enjoy painting miniatures!

I know it’s an embarrassing thing to admit for a war gamer but it’s true. This may of been made easier with the new range from GW but I am yet to be persuaded fully.

So the point of this ramble isn’t about painting, more so the fact painting has now pushed me away from playing big battle games. I used to play Warhammer Fantasy which saw me having to paint 100 to 200 miniatures plus to create an army that would do ok in a tournament. The thought of doing that now scares my poor frail mind. I fairly recently started trying to build a Warhammer 40k army choosing Space Marines as my option. I bought some models… then tried to paint. Within days they were back on eBay.

With this in mind when Kill Team was released last year it felt like the ideal game for me. Before this I had been playing Blood Bowl which was a low count but that’s not quite the same as an actual war game.

The Kill Team starter set came with Genestealer Cults as a team which I jumped on. The thought of throwing the alien griblies of the genestealers on the table excites me however they weren’t enough. I wanted big aliens and so Tyranids drew me in. They are a fun close combat team which scare most opponents silly as they run across the cardboard battle field trying to smash face. They require little tactics but aren’t quite point and click.

The best thing about them however is whilst they are generally a large kill team in model count, this is only up to 20 and I have found a very quick paint scheme to paint them. This makes this grumpy git happy.

Reviewing Comics

I hope to start reviewing comics on this blog however before hand I want to discuss and look at how I review comics and my selection. Being part of the Comic Art Festival Podcast we get a lot of comics sent for review. Many of these are digital (I’m old school on prefer paper but I understand the cost implications of sending review copies on paper). We don’t get time to review every comic and also we set a basic principal when we started the podcast of only being positive so if we get a comic we are not a fan of we just wont discuss it. I feel there is enough negativity on the internet that adding to it would be pointless.

The reason I say this is because this only seems to work for comics in my mind. I will happily go online and discuss the bad points of a movie or a TV series. I will also do the same with a video game or board game and it got me thinking… why? There is nothing wrong with being critical and a reviewers job is to openly and honestly discuss why something is good and/ or bad so purchasers have an idea whether they want to spend their hard fought money for.

I suppose the difference with a comic is that generally they have been created by only a few creators, or even just one in many indie cases. By giving bad reviews on a piece of art such as a comic is knocking someone’s ability directly rather than when you critique a movie which has had 100’s if not 1000’s of people involved. The thought of publicly saying a comic is a steaming pile of dung and letting an individual feel so bad makes it difficult to do, pointless I suppose. Why would anyone want to do that to someone else’s work? I know people do but my choice is to not too.

Any comics I review on here will be positive and discussed because I have enjoyed them. They will all get my recommendation for you to spend your money on but I will give you an idea whether the comic story and art would be for you. If you want me to read your comic and possibly review it on here or on the Lakes International Comic Art Festival Podcast then please just get in touch.

On a completely different note… the majority of content creators on the internet such as podcasters and reviewers seem to get on really well. Recently I had a run in with one that put a sour taste in my mouth of ‘I’m more important than you’ and to be honest pissed me off no end. I wont name names but while I’m happy to help promote any other podcast or website, this persons work can just bugger off into the vast cavern that is the world wide web.

Until next time…

 

Video Game Grumps

I’ve just been playing Gears of War 4 with my partner Nikki in couch co-op mode. When Halo 5 got rid of this feature is caused massive frustration as we had loved playing through every other single Halo outing whilst sat snuggled up on the sofa. We had also enjoyed a little Gears before but the graphics being so pretty on the 4th outing and the fact it kind of starts the story afresh with new characters meant it was ideal to sit and enjoy. For most of the early game you run around as JD Fenix and Kait Diaz shooting robots in different forms and ducking behind cover a lot. Its a fun dumb shooter and a great game because of this. Then comes a new section of the game.. the bikes.

bike
Gears of War 4

Now having played Gears one to three I was well aware a driving segment would come up. Usually its in a big old tank or armoured truck and its more about shooting your way through hordes as opposed to actually driving well. The bike segment however felt like a frustrating ride through the forest of Endor whilst riding on a super fast cow. The bikes are so sloppy and when the game forces both players to ride their own bikes becomes a level of hate as we randomly crash our bikes and have to  start again. Nicole isn’t the best driver either which she will admit so this brought extra frustration too. Now I’m sure the developers feel they are being particularly clever with sections like this and I’m also aware some players will breeze through these parts without issue but for me… all I want is big guns and bigger baddies. Not bikes!

I recall other games that bring in, what I shall call, crap sections into games. One of my favourite games is the Far Cry series and I enjoyed the forth outing immensely. The first island is great fun to work your way through and the jungle setting makes it all the more intense as random animals attack, enemies appear from the bushes and driving through the under growth ramps up the tension as you try to get to your next mission. The second island however isn’t so much fun as they throw in a stealth mission that you have to complete to carry on.

City_of_pain
Far Cry 4

I managed to get through it but all I wanted to do was shoot everything in my path and go all gun hoe. That’s what I want from a shooter and that’s what I expect and I don’t want anything else. Its kind of the reason I don’t like … dare I say it… Fallout games as when I have a gun I don’t want to have to think of aiming at specific locations or whether I’m skilled up enough. I just want to be able to kill everything in sight.

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Battletoads

As a child I loved Battletoads which in a way did the same thing. It threw random missions into the game such as hover board riding. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade did the same as well. These however were meant to be hard and I didn’t mind these. Many platform games continue this tradition and it works for them altering the pace of the game and giving new challenges.

I certainly don’t play as often as I used too but when I do I don’t want sections that will take me out of the immersive world that first person shooters (or 3rd person) bring up. I want to get on with the game and shoot the hell out of the enemies.

Please developers… no more… oh and the next Halo better bloody have couch co-op Microsoft!

My brief history of tabletop gaming

Many, many … many moons ago I got into Warhammer 40k with a friend (let’s call him Paul… as that’s his name). I played as the Iron Hands space marines and him as the evil Dark Eldar whom are essentially dark elves in space wearing leather and carrying whips. We played for a few years learning the rules and meeting many new nerds along the way. Real life however happened and our war gaming play time was stopped. Well destroyed actually as Pauls to be wife destroyed all his toys with a hammer one by one after Paul was a naughty boy.

Years later Paul pulled me back into the world of little plastic men however this time they were on square bases. We got into Warhammer 8th edition and I spent many years trying to find the right army. By right I mean one that would allow me to auto win without being any good or being able to roll dice well (another story). I played as chaos warriors, orcs, ogres, skaven and then back to orcs. The challenge and issue with all these was the requirement to paint every single bloody model. All 100 plus of these fiddly little men/ rats/ orcs/ beasts, but I did it every time. We even started playing in tournaments which to be honest weren’t so much about playing to win and more about playing so we can all go out later on and drink copious amounts of ale only to throw it up during the following days gaming. They were fun times and looking back times I was using to get away from real life. That didn’t stop them being fun however. I even happily wore a tutu to show who was playing the worst between me and the person who shall be called Paul.

Warhammer, as with many other table top games, had an update. I say update they completely destroyed the world they had created over 20 odd years and started a fresh. All the characters I loved and the army I had became dead over night. Warhammer died, Age of Sigmar arouse from the ashes.  Yes it could still be played but it was rubbish. Without serious time, money and painting it wasn’t going to cut it. I gave up. I couldn’t paint any more. I felt my time building big armies was over.

But it wasn’t the end of gaming….

Blood bowl was a game I’d played in the past when I originally played 40k. I built my own skaven team from standard Warhammer models. Games Workshop brought the game back and I eagerly jumped in. The problem however with skirmish games is I can play them but not over often and not for too long so my thirst for more games kicked in. During the years of playing Warhammer I looked for alternatives even signing up for Deadzone with 3 friends. Spending at least £80 I think I played 2 games of it. The joys of plastic crack.

I now sit in a stale mate. Not willing to paint up a full force for 40k or Age of Sigmar. I will happily play Bloodbowl but I am after more. I want to go pew pew with little men so I am searching for that idea game. Games Workshop have Kill Team, then there’s Mailfuax which is soon to have a new edition plus loads of other skirmish games such as Frostgrave. Its hard being a plastic crack addict. You try to escape and you fail. You try new things and then want more.

I could go cold turkey…..

Who am I kidding.

Day one in the gumpyverse

Hello there and thank you for opening this blog and reading the first post. My names Ian and this blog will be for me to express my thoughts and opinions on all things nerd culture and what’s going on in my life.

The blog will mainly focus on the following areas:

The Lakes International Comic Art Festival

Along with my partner Nikki, I host the podcast of the above event. We review comics, interview comic creators and look at the festival itself. Its been going for over 18 months now and weve met so many great people in that time. Nikki has even self published her own comic through the event as well. We love doing the podcast and will talk more about it as we go along this journey.

Gaming

I have been playing table-top games for almost 20 years now and have a love/ hate relationship with miniature based games. I enjoy playing them but have gotten so fed up with the painting side. The same can be said with video gaming. I enjoy playing them but 10 years working in video game retail has turned me into a grumpy bastard who only sees the job in video games rather than the pleasure they can be to play. Expect plenty of rants on this topic.

Comedy

So my new adventure is comedy. I say new it may only ever be new as I may fail at the first hurdle and never try comedy again. I recently did a one day comedy writing course which could lead me to perform a 5 minute slot at this years festival in Kendal. I’d like to imagine I can write this 5 minute piece, perform it and be the funniest guy in the room. Obviously this would be followed by a world wide tour and I’d earn millions. The reality is I’ll probably flop and never do this again. The 2nd reality will however be the more entertaining on this blog!

and finally Nerd Culture

This topic will cover all things comics, TV and movies. I don’t get to talk about all the stuff I see on TV and via film on the podcast so this will be my release for those subjects. Oh how I can rant about how bad a film is and will do so when required. It was always better in the olden days remember!

I hope you will follow this journey. Find me also on twitter too to keep updated on this blog. I’ll try and blog a few times a week until either I die… or the blog slowly fades away.