About Theodoric

I'm passionate about video games, technology, and writing. I've been writing for other blogs/websites and I'll be posting my work here. :) FAQ: Who are you? I'm Theodoric, and currently I'm studying in Singapore Management University. I'm studying in the School of Business and my CCA is SMU Broadcast and Entertainment. Why do you love video gaming? I've set out on a magical journey to find out my passion in life. I've discovered a few things I love to do, but whenever I want to take a break, I end up playing some video games to destress. I've then come across a post that mentioned: Whatever you do when you procrastinate, is something you should pursue. Which is why now I blog about the games I play! Are you any good at it? I do my best. Haha. But I don't play competitively. I feel it takes the fun away from it (and also I'm not that good at it myself. Maybe if I'm much better I'd sing a different tune). This blog is about startups, and video gaming. Why such a weird combination? I blog about the things that interest me, and that's to tie up video games and a lifestyle that promotes the act of stepping out of your comfort zone. You don't need to be a budding entrepreneur to read what I have to say! Furthermore, I feel that if I blog about the things that interest me, the blog is more likely to interest you too. How can I contact you? Drop me an email at theophay@gmail.com Follow me on Twitter @theophay: https://twitter.com/theophay Or Instagram @theodoricphay

7 E3 Games That Had Me Totally Psyched

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So in case you have been living under a rock this entire time, E3 just came and went. If you want to take a look at all the games that were showcased, check out here:

http://www.e3recap.com/

Here are 7 games that I personally am super-hyped about, and can’t wait to just beta-test them right now.

(So can I has betakeys please?)

1.  Spiderman

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This one was for sure on the list. We had a few great Spiderman games, most notably Spiderman 2 and Ultimate Spiderman, which gave us some of the most wholesome experience of being able to web-swing around the city. It truly captured the essence of why one would pick up a superhero game in the first place, which is precisely because I want to feel like that particular superhero.

Kudos definitely to the Batman Arkham series for allowing us to feel what it is like to be Batman. In case you haven’t read a past review of mine about that series, check it out here.

Meanwhile, the gameplay trailer for Spiderman shown in E3 is here.

Yes, I knew that Spiderman on PS4 was announced some time ago, but to actually see the gameplay in action made me even more hyped to get that game. It was a lovely mix of the free-play that is Spiderman, where you can webswing around and choose to whether punch up or web up your enemies and much more. Granted, there was a bit of Arkham elements imbued in the game where it starts off immediately with a stealth sequence. However, stealthy Spiderman isn’t all too bad, especially if you have played Spiderman: Shattered Dimensions and experienced Spiderman Noir.

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Overall, looks like a very promising Spiderman game which I’ve been waiting for since Ultimate Spiderman.

2. A Way Out

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Interestingly enough, I feel this is a very underrated gem within the mass of new games. Just the concept alone got me sold.

It reminds you of a Monkey-Island style of gameplay, where it isn’t mostly action-based but based on your wits and how you approach problems in an unorthodox way.

It starts off in a prison cell, where you and a friend has to device a way to break out. After you break out, it seems like you need to do much more such as getting rid of pursuers by driving away or shooting at them.

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The feature of this game is that while you go around and solve problems in the game, you need to solve them with the second player while maintaining a high level of cooperation. For example, based on the trailers, there is an instance where one player had to distract the guard and the other infiltrate a particular area.

As such we can see new dynamics when it comes to cooperative gameplay, and I certainly look forward to seeing what kind of level-design A Way Out has. Check out the preview here.

3. Fortnite

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Probably the art alone was enough to get me hooked. This game is like a cross between Overwatch and L4D. In other words, this game was very similar to Orcs Must Die. You can choose different classes when a game starts. Some of the classes mentioned were the Ninja, Soldier and Construction Worker. Basically, the idea of the game was to work together with your team to scavenge for materials to build a base so that you can protect yourself from zombie attacks.

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The concept isn’t entirely radical, where we already have a few similar concepts. However. The idea of having different classes, a sassy art style, and a new cooperative gameplay genre will certainly entice me to keep my eyes peeled on this gem. Gameplay preview during E3 is here.

4. Monster Hunter World

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Just check out the trailer! I have never been a huge Monster Hunter fan. But when I saw this I knew this was going to be big. Hell, I’m willing to go hardcore for this.

In case you don’t already know, Monster Hunter is like an instance-like RPG that allows you to go into missions with friends, kind of like Diablo. You go into the main town to get your equipment so that you can take on contracts to hunt monsters down.

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The idea of it porting onto PC opens the possibility of more difficult yet exciting quests, therefore leading to a higher amount of cooperation between players. After all, Monster Hunter fans all know that big monsters aren’t easily taken down by tanking-and-spanking as each monster needs to be taken down in their own delicate way.

The world itself looks amazing, with plenty to explore. Coupled with minimal loading times, this is a game definitely to watch out for.

5. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

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This is too cute to ignore. As much as I’m avoiding the Switch (and even avoiding Skyrim on Switch), this game certainly caught my eye.

The biggest aspect too hard not to notice is two franchises blended together: Ubisoft’s Raving Rabbids, and Nintendo’s Mario. They come together to form what looks like a combination of the exploration mechanics of Sonic The Hedgehog and the turn-based combat of Final Fantasy Tactics.

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This makes for a very interesting genre. Rabbids has always been a “Party Game” genre, where you invite a few friends over to your house to play minigames while laughing at the Rabbids and how cute they are. Now, it seems like they overhauled the gameplay, where there are still elements for mish-mash fun and also some elements of hardcore gameplay.

I personally love the fighting cutscene shown by Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto, as there are so many random elements in it such as jumping on your teammates, shooting from corners, etc. Check it out here.

6. Skulls and Bones

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Who can forget one of the iconic reveals by Ubisoft. There is a bit of bias in this choice, as this is a game claimed to be developed in the country I come from. Being a small country, a AAA title developed by Singapore is no small feat. Yet, I must say I was very impressed and proud when the game was revealed.

Skull and Bones has a simple concept, especially after you have played Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag. Navel combat looks the same and is now improved upon, with new classes of pirate ships and seemingly more options to sink your opponents.

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This is, after all, a very logical leap: If the assassins are going to move to other places like London and Egypt, the navel combat battle system should be used somewhere else.

Graphics are incredible, and PVP reminds me a little bit of World of Tanks where you use pirate ships instead. Cooperation looks to be more important here as the fleet looks more daunting to go against as compared to a single frigate. Hopefully more details can be revealed soon, as this project is looking to be amazing.

7. Anthem

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Anthem was another huge game to be released and the hype for it was incredible. A new studio within EA, Bioware is set to make one of the biggest open world out there for gameplay and looks like a Destiny-style game. Not much of the gameplay was revealed but we saw glimpse of flight as well as combat.

Graphics were fantastic as well, and certainly I am hyped for this.

So that was all for my top picks for E3 2017. What were your favourite games that you were looking out for? Leave them in the comments below!


Images:
Image 1 from: http://nl.ign.com/e3-2017/98531/feature/e3-2017-alle-games-tot-nu-toe
Image 2 from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kwi8S3-AuZE
Image 3 from: https://fansided.com/2017/06/12/e3-2017-new-spider-man-trailer-release-date/
Image 4 from: https://www.engadget.com/2017/06/11/the-passion-behind-the-prison-break-in-a-way-out/
Image 5 from: http://www.techtimes.com/articles/209744/20170610/prison-break-game-a-way-out-can-only-be-played-as-split-screen-co-op-genius-concept-or-risky-move.htm
Image 6 from: https://www.gamespot.com/fortnite/
Image 7 from: https://www.playstation.com/en-us/games/fortnite-ps4/
Image 8 from: https://www.theverge.com/2017/6/13/15789856/monster-hunter-world-ps4-xbox-one-e3-2017
Image 9 from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXB2IHLm4m0
Image 10 from: http://www.ign.com/articles/2017/06/12/e3-2017-mario-rabbids-kingdom-battle-officially-revealed-release-date-announced
Image 11 from: http://store.ubi.com/ie/mario-%2B-rabbids-kingdom-battle/5927e76dca1a644d498b4578.html
Image 12 and 13 from: https://www.digitaltrends.com/gaming/skull-and-bones-news-roundup/#/1-2
Image 14 from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2017/06/11/anthem-is-eas-answer-to-destiny-and-that-doesnt-make-any-sense/#45541560723f

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Pokemon GO: How did the Hype Die Down

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Word.

Pokemon GO, whether you like it or not, took the world by storm during its release. It didn’t contain breakthrough-level technology (AR and Location-based gameplay have been in the market for some time), but it had a place close to our hearts being the talk of all media and the hype of mobile gamers young and old.

Maintaining its position as the top app for a solid few months, Pokemon GO looked like it was the game of the future.

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Source: App Annie

And then came nothingness, at least in where I live. People stopped playing it, save only the most hardcore fans.

So what did Pokemon GO do wrong? It successfully tapped into the Pokemon franchise and made billions fall in love with it, so what happened?

My answer? Failing to capitalize on the one key insight about the Pokemon universe.

You see, people love catching Pokemon. And evidence also suggest that people love physically walking around to do it too. However, it turns out that “Catch em all”, albeit the main slogan for this entire franchise, isn’t the main reason why people play Pokemon in the first place.

Before Pokemon GO, Pokemon games were present in the Nintendo consoles (Gameboys, etc). When the game starts, there is always a huge speculation and debate on which starter Pokemon to choose.

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Charmander, Squirtle, Bulbasaur / Cyndaquil, Totodile, Chikorita / Torchic, Mudkip, Treecko

Those were the hardest choices. But once you made that choice, there was no going back. Most importantly, you stuck with that critter for the rest of the game.

That was exactly what Pokemon GO needed. Yes it could do with battling, or trading, etc. But the Pokemon universe was fun because you made an adventure with your starter Pokemon and added new Pokemon into your party. In Pokemon GO, you started with the initial 3 Pokemon, but shortly after you had to get rid of them because they were just too low in CP.

Pokemon GO shortly noticed this, and introduced buddy Pokemons, but it was too late. The hype was already dipping, and shortly after, Pokemon GO lost all its former glory.

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So there you have it! Do you agree with me? Leave your comments down on why you think Pokemon GO lost its initial momentum.

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Power Rangers Twitch Marathon: The Future of TV

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Almost a month ago, Twitch premiered a Power Rangers Marathon, where all the episodes of all the Power Rangers franchise were aired back to back.

For nostalgia-suckers like myself, this was certainly a treat. To watch one of the best shows that you watched growing up for free? Definitely not an opportunity to be missed.

Let’s skip the memes and the Bulk and Skull moments a bit. As much as “BLLBLLBLBLBLLLBLL” and “Billy afk” was funny as hell, right here we can be looking at the advent of “New Television.”

Source from:
https://www.bleedingcool.com/2017/04/11/twitchs-power-rangers-marathon-results/

With over 45,000 viewers watching ONLY the Mighty Morphin portion (admittedly still the best over the rest), over 13 million views in total, and a whopping 60,000 viewers watching the debut of the Green Ranger alone, this can spark a new era where watching content isn’t based only on what the broadcasting station brings to you, but clearly attributed to something else.

Let’s be honest, as much as the Power Ranger shows were nostalgic and entertaining, other elements such as the storyline and the graphics pales in comparison with the shows we have today. Granted, they were set in the past. But we can safely say that Power Rangers was in itself better than shows like ‘Sherlock’, ‘Breaking Bad’, and even the latest ’13 Reasons Why’? These shows have incredible storylines and in turn received incredible traction. So why is it that it was the Power Rangers got the hype that even broke Twitch?

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For starters, you can play the Nostalgia card, and the fact that the movie was coming up. But that means nothing for the future of television. There are only so many old shows you can air before you need new content.

Here’s my theory:

Twitch Chat.

Woah. You’re going to stop me there all of a sudden, and call me out for mentioning something that is seemingly so small and pointless that shouldn’t be attributed to that massive success Power Rangers experienced. After all, Twitch chat has been there since Twitch started, and chatting functions were there since the times of MSN. So why this time round?

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This is born on a simple insight that has prevailed since generations ago: it is always better to watch a show with friends than alone. When families and friends were more closely-knitted, people would do simple things like go over to a friend’s place to watch sports, or sisters hanging out at home to watch soap operas.

Fast forwarding to recent times, people actually tweeted while watching shows, such as to their friends or simply about the show to their followers. Platforms such as Twitter would track these tweets and subsequently rated the show using proprietary platforms.

Twitch chat allowed you to basically talk to people who are watching the same content as you. This, of course, gave rise to all the memes from that marathon alone. But if we dig deeper, we can see how people communicate, and how we love to simply talk during a show. We can joke, give insights, or simply tell the viewers what we already know “GREEN RANGER INCOMING”, “WHITE RANGER POWER”, etc.

As such, Twitch chat has become our social place where we can watch TV with people ‘next to us’. This used to apply mostly to the live-streaming content creators and their audience, where streamers will stream video games and the viewers will talk directly to the streamers or within themselves. However, this time round, the actors still do not interact with the audience. Yet, the abundance of social interaction within the viewers fuel the hype, and as the word-of-mouth spreads, more viewers tune in, and we create the chain effect from there.

Am I saying Twitch is the next big thing? Definitely not, but the possibility is there. However, what we can look towards, especially for new content creators, is that community interaction is just as important, if not more. Additionally, with the state of technology that the world is currently in, it makes is so much easier to actually create the landscape for this type of interaction.

Like it or not, the function of a chat, similar to Twitch chat, can potentially fuel the new change in television, where viewers can talk to each other while watching the same show with its being aired, even though they are many miles away.

Just don’t be toxic though, mkay? With that said,

IT’S MORPHIN’ TIME

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Why I Bought Overwatch

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The last weekend was quite highly anticipated for some gamers, and that’s because it was the launch of Blizzard’s new FPS: Overwatch. With plenty of marketing budget and Open Beta test results that shot through the roof (even more than that of The Division and Destiny), Overwatch generated so much hype that people queued 2 hours just to get a free goodie bag of it (more on that later).

So if you’re still like some of us, you’re probably still wondering to yourself, “Should I buy this game?”

Fair question.

After all, we’ve been spoilt with awesome games in 2015 and 2016 that were mostly free, including Blizzard’s  Hearthstone, which is still immensely popular. Why then, should we pay this much for a FPS, when Steam’s Counter Strike: Global Offensive, is at $15 and Team Fortress 2 is free?

Closed Beta

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In comparison: The Division (6.4 million players), Battleborn (2 million players)

I played the open beta for Overwatch. Granted, I only played for 1 day. However, I was mostly hit by 2 main facts:

  1. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO LEARN ALL THESE CHARACTERS IN A SINGLE DAY?
  2. ISN’T THIS LIKE TEAM FORTRESS 2?

The niche covered by Overwatch is very similar to Team Fortress 2 and Battleborn (not really Counter Strike) as it’s a fun-and-colorful FPS and each class/playable character is very unique.

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In each of these games, there are characters that can go offensive, defensive and support. They each play different roles and you need a good combination of each of them for a well-balanced team. However, players will soon realize that a well-balanced team doesn’t necessarily guarantee victory all the time.

You would think Overwatch would fall short when compared to the already well-established TF2. But the graphics, the quirkiness of the characters and the skill curve give players an unfamiliar but warm embrace each match as they try and experiment new characters. It’s the same same, but different.

On first impression, the big difference between OW and TF2 is the number of characters you can try and also the huge variety of powers in the game. TF2 focuses on traditional powers: Healing, rockets, flamethrowers. OW focuses on very unique powers: We have characters that can put up shields, fly around, throw shurikens, pilot a robot (and thereafter, send it in to explode) and a final ‘Bankai’ to blast your enemies into oblivion. It’s a well needed update of all the possible things a person can do in an FPS. Furthermore, the graphics are bright, colorful and cartoony, making it a less intense and ‘gritty’ shooter than CS:GO, Battlefield, and the CoD series.

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This girl can literally fly around the map and rain rocket barrages all day. And that’s how you thrust your ideas forward.

The number of characters, as mentioned, are enormous (for a FPS). We have 21 characters to choose from, with a well-balanced number in each role (Offense, Defense, Tank and Support). The fun part (at least for me) would be trying out each character and then re-learning another character as you keep playing them.

Overall, it was a very entertaining game. The gameplay was well thought through and character development was top notch. You should seriously take some time to read their lore!

Combined with a hugely successful marketing campaign, Overwatch is a game bound to impress.

But US$40 is a lot of money for a game!

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There’s lasers too! Don’t forget lasers!

Fair point. It takes a bit of investment to play this particular game. Furthermore, if you compare it to its counterparts TF2 and CG:GO, its a tad expensive. However, if you compare it to the entire video game market, there are games roughly around US$40-US$60 a game. The price you’re getting for a game that has high replay value is pretty worth it.

Don’t get me wrong: I would never advocate a WoW subscription. It is admittedly on the more expensive side and it’s something I would not try to convince someone to pay for, albeit it being a pretty fun game. But the initial price for OW is pretty worth it. Even Guild Wars 2 back then costed quite a penny to play, but the gameplay was worth it, and there were no subscriptions as well.

I’d rather play TF2 and Battleborn!

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Tracer judges you silently

For me, I’ve never played Battleborn so I can’t really comment on it’s gameplay. However, they are reported to be on the decline:

For TF2, it’s not that it’s worse than OW. It’s just that its ‘relatable’.

I know. That’s a horrible reason.

The thing is when I play video games, I want to be ‘immersed’ into a new world. A world I could never be a part of. TF2 fulfilled that niche, but only for a short period of time. After playing it for a while, it felt no different from CS. For OW, with its many different skills and possibilities in-game, there is a much different experience. This is probably compounded by the fact that there are so many characters for you to choose from. All in all, both games are very different.

Is the world playing it?

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What an understatement.

As mentioned previously, I had to queue 2 hours just to get into the Capitol Theatre only to queue another 2 hours to get a free loot box.

After much agony, I gave up. Whoops.

But the point is, the amount of awareness that entails with this game is immense, almost comparable to CS (and c’mon it’s a Blizzard game). Despite it being a pretty penny, many people don’t see the pinch in paying for it. And neither do I.

Overall, good game, delightful graphics, fun and immersive gameplay.

And lastly but certainly not the least: the characters are sexy. Both male AND female characters. A huge hit for the fanboys, as you can play sexy chicks and/or act as the cool dude at the same time.

 

Definitely a 5/5 star from me. This game is set to impress.

 

 

 

Batman Arkham Series: The best video game series that you MUST play.

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I have some friends who asked me what is a good PC game to start with. After all, I’ve never owned a single console in my life. (I had a Wii, and let’s not talk about that.)

Without a doubt, the first few games I would recommend anyone to play would be the Batman Arkham series consisting of Batman Arkham Asylum, Batman Arkham City, Batman Arkham Origins, and the latest addition Batman Arkham Knight. Each of them are awesome standalone games with a compelling storyline, awesome-to-do side quests, and a kickass experience of beating up criminals and solving mysteries. In essence, this game truly allows you to act and feel as Batman himself as you instill fear into the heart of criminals, just like how Batman in the comics would.

Let’s go through each series one-by-one:

Batman Arkham Asylum

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This series tore through expectations when it was released. Much like how comic adaptations of superheroes usually turn out bad (almost all Spiderman games fall into this trap save Spiderman 2 and Ultimate Spiderman), this game wasn’t given more than a glance either. But when you played it, you KNEW something was going to be different. With hyper-realistic graphics, voice acting and cinema-worthy introduction, this was the game to be playing. With almost 2 million copies sold within a month, this game proved itself worthy as an upcoming standalone franchise. Source here.

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Batman Arkham Asylum takes you through Joker’s Madhouse, which is basically Arkham Asylum infiltrated and reprogrammed into a trick house by none other than the clown prince of crime himself. You even get to face many famous criminals like Riddler, Penguin, Scarecrow, etc. (The Scarecrow part was honestly one of the best play-throughs I’ve ever.. played through.)

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Gameplay was solid, with one of the most fluid combat systems ever created. Even newer game titles started copying the mechanic, where most notable mentions were Shadows of Mordor and Sleeping Dogs. Arkham Asylum also introduced a new stealth mechanic (back then) which was really fun to play, allowing you to strike fear into the baddies as Batman, which was refreshing compared to the dominating Assassin’s Creed mechanics at that time. As you can probably already tell, I had so much fun during the stealth scenes.

Definitely a must play, especially for Batman and Gotham TV series fans.

Batman Arkham City

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As experienced gamers already know, sequels usually end up worse. As such, we braced for the derailment of what would have been Arkham City (at least I did). Nonetheless, I gave it a spin and the experience was easily much greater than the first game.

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The formula is kept constant. Rocksteady really paid heed to the phrase ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. The same combat and stealth mechanics were employed and they added a lot more new gadgets into the equation.

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Most notable was the addition of an open world concept, where you can now free roam the map while you were getting from objective to objective. Skeptical at first, I tried out the roaming (while also noticing the missing batmobile. Where is it, Batman?!) and to my excitement, the grappling and gliding was exciting, intuitive and loads of fun. Getting from point to point was a blast and I had a LOT of fun.

Batman: Arkham City

 

– Because who needs a suit right?

Another addition was a new playable character: Catwoman. Her mechanics were notably different from Batman’s and her stealth scenes are pretty fun to play as well. You should definitely buy the collector’s edition just to play her. I mean, look at that costume.

Arkham City easily trumped Arkham Asylum, which was already spectacular.

Batman Arkham Origins

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This game was, to say the least, a little bit awkward. This game takes us back to the prologue where Bruce Wayne started off as Batman, and faced strong criminal underlords and villians. However, it seemed more like a 3rd installment than a prologue though. The big giveaway was the fact that gadgets that you had to fight to attain in Arkham City were available from the start in Origins.

A bit of oversight there wouldn’t you say Rocksteady?

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Nonetheless, the storyline was compelling and all the same formula applies. New villians, a new look, and a not-too-bad voice cast to take over the usual Batman voice. Still a must-play in my opinion, especially if you’re a Batman fan.

Batman Arkham Knight

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And finally, we’ve come to the end of the series (Fun fact: I’m not too sure about this, but I vaguely recall Rocksteady saying that this is the end of their trilogy. What happened to Arkham Origins?).

Arkham Knight is the finale of the series that is taking place after a major change in the game’s timeline at the end of Arkham City (no spoilers).

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-I also noticed they paid a lot of attention to his lips this time round. Kissable, no?

Everything to the equation is kept intact, which is awesome. So no point elaborating on that here. Batman even sports a cooler Batsuit slightly after the beginning of the game which looks absolutely sick. And as you can already guess from the box cover, a major part of the game (finally) involves the Batmobile! So let’s break down each of the new aspects:

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The Batmobile was, sadly, not that easy to control. It reminded me a lot of Watchdogs’s driving mechanism which wasn’t easy to control and slide. This made chase scenes slightly difficult. The only saving point was that the Batmobile could enter in a ‘Tank’ mode which sort of applies the brakes in order to transform. That was so much more intuitive than using the brakes themselves.

I believe I also mentioned previously that the gliding and grappling function was already very intuitive and exciting. The Batmobile downplayed Batman into a GTA-like mechanic of travelling. Personally, as long as the main mission didn’t require a Batmobile, I ended up just grappling my way across the map.

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But a new aspect has been added to the game. Firstly, we establish that the main villian of the game is Scarecrow and the Arkham Knight. In case you don’t know who that is, Scarecrow is the villian who uses fear toxins to overwhelm people with fear. What was magnificent of this game was that the entire game centered around fear itself. There are subtle jump scares planted around the map, and a creepy new aspect added that I will not spoil for you. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it’s as scary as horror games, but the new addition was definitely refreshing.

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– I probably shat my pants at this scene. Go find it out for yourself.

Ok I must admit though, I’m mostly a scaredy-cat and these kind of jump scares still frighten me all the way. Nonetheless, the gameplay was too compelling to stop. That HAS to show how awesome the game is.

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Another interesting addition was the chance to play many characters in the game. For the first time ever, you get to play ‘dual-play’ with Robin, or beat up baddies with Nightwing as well. Working together with your companions added a whole new gameplay experience that made this an even more spectacular game.

Overall, Arkham Knight once again defied expectations, making it easily one of the best game I’ve played in a long time.

So here ends my review of the Batman Arkham Series. Have any opinions or disagreements? Leave them in the comment section below!

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– And if you ever got too bored, know that you, too, can kick butt as the legendary animated Batman

 

 

 

 

Why Neko Atsume Could be the Best Game Ever

In case you haven’t noticed, the mobile app craze Neko Atsume has been spreading like wildfire in many English-speaking countries since it’s been translated from Japanese to English. Now even YOU can own a whole yard of cats that come by your house just to play with your stuff and leave you fish.

The gameplay is essentially very simple. In fact, a bit too simple. You start off with like a backyard where you can put cat food and other cat toys. Some stray cats with apparently nowhere else to go will wander into your backyard and free-load off your food and toys.

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My cat food brings all the cats into the yard.

And since you were being so nice, they would leave behind some fish for you. These fish can then be used to buy tons of in-game toys. On rare occasions, these cats can even drop GOLD FISHES that can be used to do cooler things like expanding your yard, changing its look, or purchasing cool-er looking toys.

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Kinda weird for them to be giving YOU fish. Shouldn’t it be the other way?

These toys can then be used to attract more cats, which gives you MORE FISH. Pretty simple to understand no?

All in all, this game got a lot of people hooked! It already hitting the top 37 in overall app charts for iTunes and top 10 for the  Android game charts (EXCEEDING CANDY CRUSH. LET THAT SINK IN).

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THEY EVEN HAVE MERCHANDISE! HOW SICK IS THAT?

So what made this game the phenomenon that it is today? Here are some good traits of this game that even game developers should take note:

1. Minimal loading times

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THEY USE PUNS AS WELL. I’m sold.

One thing that really struck me was the very short loading time of this game. Loading times could take a maximum of 5 seconds. This really helped if you needed something to play quick, like if you’re pooping (let’s be honest, we play games when we poop) or if you’re taking a short break from studying. More often than not, most games are not played because they take a few years to load (I’m exaggerating).

2. CUTE CATS

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SILLY CAT. YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO PUT IT OVER YOU AND BECOME SUPERMAN.

Aren’t they adorable!? Most people play Neko Atsume simply because of how cute the cats are. Watching how they interact with the toys is just therapeutic. They do stuff like rolling the ball around, laying down in the box, or even getting trapped in the vase.

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It was around now when Kyle realised he made a huge mistake.

Of course, using cute animals like cats definitely increased the popularity of the game. Cute characters have always been used and amounting to huge successes. Don’t believe me? Look at Plants vs Zombies, Angry Birds, and Cut the Rope.

3. Short commitment time spans

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The game needed very little commitment to play. In theory, you only needed to log on to refill their food bowls. These short commitment time spans really remove the fear of committing to a game where once you start a session, you know you’ll lose 30 minutes.

4. Clean and simple

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This is a game where you can find a cat that reflects yourself.

The interface is clean and very simple. No overload of gimmicks, hard sales that ask you to buy stuff, etc. This clean interface really adds on to the therapeutic effect and makes you always want to log back on.

5. Tapping on the niche population

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Eventually, as a cat lover, you’ll know who your real friends are – This definitely does not include Tubbs who ate all your food.

Perhaps an interesting approach of Neko Atsume was to target a niche population instead of the general population. You would imagine that this would reduce the number of downloads, but if this niche audience enjoyed the game, word-of-mouth marketing would spread exponentially, which is the case of this game. Targeting a niche audience is definitely not a common industry practice, but Neko Atsume pulled it off awesomely.

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So what makes you play Neko Atsume? Leave a reply in the comments section below!

What MLMs really are.

Today we’ll be looking at what is probably one of the most controversial start-up ‘concepts’ to date: Multi-Level Marketing, or ‘MLM’ for short.

You’ve probably read a lot of hate articles on how MLMs are unethical, ‘cheating’ people of their money. However, I feel that these articles cast a light so negative, even pre-developed photographs look optimistic.

Just to make things clear: I’m not trying to sell anything here. I simply wish look objectively at this ‘unethical Trojan horse’.

Here we go.

What are MLMs?

MLMs are the 21st Century version of Pyramid Schemes. A ‘Pyramid Scheme’ (don’t confuse this with MLMs, the two are totally different) is a business model that starts with one guy at the top. He ‘recruits’ people below him. These people have to in turn pay him a commission. These people then ‘recruit’ others below them and a chain is formed. Eventually, a pyramid is formed, as shown here:

This creates the mental picture everyone is familiar with: a pyramid is basically a money-making scheme for those at the top to earn at the expense of those at the bottom.

However, here are two things to note:
1. Pyramid Schemes are now BANNED in most parts of the world, including Singapore.

2. Pyramid Schemes explain only about 50% of how an MLM operates.

The big difference between MLMs and Pyramid Schemes is that MLMs have products attached to them. In other words, MLMs are in the business of selling something, be it health products, etc.

So, with products attached to them, MLMs become legal.

“So what do you think about MLMs?”

To some people, MLMs already leave a bad taste in your mouth when you talk about them. They feel like con jobs; like a way to manipulate friendships. So let’s dissect them one by one.

Can MLMs make you money?
Short answer, yes.

MLMs come bearing the promise of financial freedom, of not needing to work a full-time job anymore. Half of this is true. MLMs are a way to generate passive income, but this comes from recruiting people. You ‘retire’ when people at the bottom recruit more people, and you get your cut. So, yes, you do earn money.

There’s a reason why this article fell under ‘Entrepreneurship’. They actually provide an avenue for you to earn  money passively and without slogging your days out.

This brings me to the next question..

Is it ethical, or socially acceptable?

Here’s where I talk about my opinion. (Yes I know, objectively takes a break here)

MLMs have become twisted recently, most possibly by the avaricious nature of humans.

MLMs have reverted to being Pyramid Schemes, where nothing else matters other than recruiting people and asking people to recruit for you.

This is no different from asking someone to pay for your retirement. Whether that is socially acceptable or not, I leave it to you.

So you’re against MLMs?

No. Absolutely not. I think MLMs are a fantastic innovation. But this is what they should be:

MLMS are should be like a friend asking you to try his favourite chicken rice. You may or may not like it. It doesn’t matter. If you like it, you’ll end up eating it with him from now on. If you don’t like it, you don’t follow him to lunch from now on, but you can still remain friends.

MLMs should focus on the products, not the recruitment. MLMs should tell you that this product they’re selling (Product A) is awesome. You buy it, you try it, and maybe you decide it’s awesome too.

You then either

  1. Buy more from your friend who introduced you to the product, or
  2. Enter into a venture with him.

If you buy more from him, he earns a cut. But you don’t mind, you love the product anyway. If the product isn’t something you like, it doesn’t matter. You both move on, and remain friends.

In some cases, you think this product would be a huge hit in the market. You say, ‘I’m willing to sell this to my friends as well!’ You pay money to buy an inventory of Product A to sell to your friends, because you think your friends would love Product A too. This is how you ‘join a friend in his venture’, not so much of ‘him recruiting you’.

The Pyramid Scheme is still there, yes, but there’s no ‘forceful selling’. You don’t force a friend into joining your business. You simply ask if a friend if they would like to buy Product A, just as you would ask them if they would want to eat chicken rice with you.

This is how a MLM should be! Not the unethical selling that’s done by focusing on recruiting friends via forceful sales pitches in the office.

Imagine the possibilities…

…when MLMs don’t focus on recruitment. They would be forced to come up with innovative product ideas with a low barrier to entry when it comes to franchising that idea. MLMs could become an innovation-generating industry where people keep thinking of ideas to improve society so that people would willingly join the venture, instead of the need to force people to join you so that you can earn your ‘retirement fund’. All they need to do is to make sure their products are good and beneficial to society.