Saturday, 31 December 2016

Top Games of 2016

With a countdown to 2017 looming, I thought it was apt to do a countdown of my own an sound off some of the best games that came out this year. It's going to be a 'Top 8' this time as its been a remarkably busy year for me, with my dissertation, grad film, graduation and first real job in industry.When you line it all up like that, it certainly sounds impressive anyway!

Without further ado, here's the list!

8: Overcooked



Of all the games I've played this year, this one inspired the most shouting. And with good reason, Overcooked is basically Gordan Ramsey simulator 2016 as you and up to four friends are put in charge of a very heated restaurant. You will shove one-another and bark out orders, and it can be absolute chaos if someone tries to do too many things (like me). But when it all goes right and your teamwork pays off, it can be remarkably rewarding.


7: Superhot

 
Fresh shooting game when time and bullets only move when you do. Genius. The game's mechanics turn the game into more of a violent game of chess, which I dig. And while I don't need much of an excuse for shooting a bunch of dudes in slow-mo, I really appreciated the game's story which does a god job of propelling you through the brief campaign. Simply put, “it's the most innovative shooter I've played in years.”

6: Battlefield 1



Bullets, mustard gas and trenches, Battlefield 1 spits on the people who thought that a WW1 setting could never make for a compelling shooter. Online play consists of up to 64 people simultaneously, and when games go well, they really do feel like you are in the middle of a merciless conflict. Above all else, the games tone is praiseworthy, treating The First World War with a lot of respect that I did not expect from a game series that inspires the ironic MLG community. A lot better than I was expecting this one to be, and that’s always a nice surprise.

5: Firewatch



Who knew that a game about being a fire warden for a national park could make for such a cerebral character study? While you are in a truly beautiful environment, you will feel very alone at times and your only means of contact is to another woman on a walkie-talkie. This dynamic makes for a psychological treat. While the ending doesn't quite hit the mark it wants to, but the journey is expertly written and almost feels like a moving graphic novel at times. It will keep you second guessing yourself at every turn and I love that.

4: The Witcher 3:Blood & Wine



The base game of Witcher 3 is a very tough act to follow, but without even breaking a sweat, the developers pushed out what is possibly the biggest piece of any DLC for any game ever. Vampires and banquets go hand in hand, creating a spectacular, and surprisingly humerous adventure. Special credit is due for ending a 100+ hour game in a way that is wholly satisfying and sure to please anyone who has even spent a few moments in Geralt's boots.

3: Inside



Every-time I think of this one, I like it more and more. It plays out as a really minimalist adventure, you start off as a little boy running through the woods, can jump and grab, and that’s about it. But its the way that the distopian world makes you feel so desperately vulnerable, everything is threatening and you are constantly being hunted by someone or something. Its a minimalist and incredibly fluid puzzle platformer that ties everything action back to he games world and tone, and its rare to see a game do that so consistently.

2: DOOM



Doom can be summed up in one word: visceral. Everything, from dismembering hell spawn to pulling the trigger on the super shotgun just feels so damn good. While I gave kudos to Super Hot for being an innovative shooter, DOOM is just straight up old-school. Your health doesn't regenerate and it smartly encourages you to keep moving and keep killing to keep your resources stocked so you are ready for the next bloody encounter. You could tell this game was made with high regard for the 90's, and call me nostalgic, but sometimes I want to go down a polished version of memory lane.

1: Overwatch



Undoubtedly the game I played the most this year, Blizzard's hero based shooter just works on every conceivable level. Multiple heros with unique play styles, a healthy pool of maps and really responsive gameplay that constantly inspires you to be your best, this is the gold standard of online shooters. I have played this dozens of times with friends and strangers, and we are all inclined to work together to achieve a common goal, and more often than not, you'll find yourself screaming down a microphone because you team landed a nail biting victory. And with even more free content coming in 2017, its going to be a game that just keeps on giving.

Nothing left to do than wish you readers a Happy New Year and a very easy going New Years Day! I'm probably going to spend it playing Overwatch!

Friday, 30 December 2016

Back in Flat

Louis and I were dropped back in Bristol by our folks, but not before we all went out for a final family lunch at a little fish restaurant. Now I've been reunited with Rebecca and our cosy flat, I'm gonna start tidying it up for our mini New Years party - it'll be the perfect excuse to eat all of our popcorn anyways!

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Back to World of Warcraft

Louis and I had a real old school day and played a bit of World of Warcraft. Its odd how we keep coming back to this game over the years, while Louis doesn't believe that nostalgia is a good thing, its quite clearly the main reason he plays it. We get a bit of a kick doing some silly roleplaying too alongside critiquing the design choices of the actual game - all good fun for two man children.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

On Call Devout

Checked my work email religiously throughout the day just in case I was needed to jump into action at work, so far thee has been no contact. That's not to say I haven't been proactive, I've spent a fair bit of time building up a presentation on some of Rubber's long term clients and sourcing some nice stats to go alongside it all. I'll be continuing with that tomorrow no doubt, but in the evening I was lucky enough to catch up with Jamie and play some games with him Don't get to see him too often and its always a pleasure to see his face. Probably won't see him again until the new year now, guess thats what happens when you are both such busy people.

Christmas Su-Beer 2016

Journeyed back form the land of Orpington, just in time of four Christmas Smash Brothers event. We attempted a new style of tournament play called 'Swiss' and it worked out really well. Previously we always had people in the sidelines who were a bit bored since there was a lot of waiting around - up to an hour in some cases. Tonight though, there was never more than 5 minutes downtime and peoe got to play against lots of other people which was great. I walked out with the trophy once again but honestly, I just enjoy the opportunity to catch up with all the old peeps from my childhood to play a game we all love.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Boxing Day 2016

Boxing Day went by so fast, spent most of it sat in my grandparents front room once again and relaxing by the fire while chatting and reading. We deigned to go on a Winter's walk and I spent the whole time wishing I bought a jacket with me. Warmed up in time to watch The Lady in the Van which was a cosy film, perfectly suited for a Boxing Day viewing. Always been an armchair fan of Alan Benett, and this film has encouraged me to take a better look at his other works.

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Merry Christmas 2016!

Had a little bit of a Christmas lie-in this morning, which was a very relaxing way to start the day. Came down for the classic morning ham and grapefruit before opening presents.

Shortly afterwards we drove down to Kent to my uncle's house and celebrated the rest of the day with the extended family. And its been really nice too, mostly just chatting and catching up with a smattering of games to stoke the competitive spirit.

Scored a few extra graphic novels alongside plenty of foodie bits and some extra kitchenware for the flat. Louis surprised me with a copy of Metal Gear Solid 5.

Again, it was nice to see people receiving
our gifts, spent thrbpast few weeks fretting about what to get people, but everyone seemed genuenly very pleased with their bits.

About to tuck into bed now, I'm full of turkey, beer, wine, whiskey and port, so I guess that means it has been a very successful Christmas Day. Merry Christmas to all, I hope everyone had a smashing Christmas!

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Christmas Eve 2016!

Once again, the Durrant family hosted our annual Christmas Eve party. Louis and I helped out with the food and other bits in between games of World of Warcraft and Smash Bros, and before we knew it, the guests started pouring in. It was great to see Jamie and Daniel again after missing them the other week when they were down in Bristol, I always feel I have legit good chats with those guys whenever we bump into each other.

Of course, it wouldn't be Christmas eve without a bit of Smash Bros in the attic, so the younger guests and I gathered upstairs for some boozy, but hype games. Louis and I emerged somewhat victorious once again, I said it a she ago, but it wouldn't be Christmas Eve until I saw a disgruntled Harper.

Hope everyone has a very merry Christmas tomorrow and an around great day once again.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Christmas Casino

Back in Newbury with Rebecca and all the presents I need to give away this year. It was an amazing feeling walking back from lunch knowing that my Christmas shopping was finally sorted for this year and I think I've done OK this time round. Just sat in with my family watching the festive classic Casino Royale, just about got to the chest paddle scene too. Gonna help prep for our Christmas Eve party tomorrow and tidy up my bedroom incase some Christmas Smash Bros takes place.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Bye Bye Office

Officially said goodbye to the office and most of my coworkers today as everyone opted to work from home tomorrow, so I'll be doing that too for the first time ever as well. Headed out to the pub for one last beer with my colleges which was nice and then started thinking about what I could pack for going back home tomorrow.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Resident Evil 7 Demo

Had Mark and Lucy over for a Christmas get together before we all dispersed for the holidays. I took Mark aside to play the demo for Resident Evil 7 and it was way scarier than we both anticipated. Felt like living Japanese horror film that prodded in all the creepiest ways.

Revenge of the Christmas Party

Took myself away for my office's Christmas party. I must say, the gift I gave away from secret Santa went down a bit better than I was expecting, and the gift I got was spot on: a Nerf gun! All of us got back quite late last night, and that was reflected in the 'grogginess' at work today, everyone wasn't feeling their freshest.

Rebecca and I exchanged each other presents earlier tonight and she was blown away with how thoughtful my gifts to her were (think I did alright basically!) We had our own mini Christmas celebration by getting ur first ever take-away as a flat, hopefully the first of many. 

Sunday, 18 December 2016

The Christmas Burger

Couldn't be bother to make a proper roast this Sunday, and with Christmas around the corner, I decided to rustle up a Christmas burger for dinner tonight. Picture this: Toasted sesame seed bun with a base layer of sage and onion stuffing, atop that, a plump burger paddy, seasoned beautifully with salt and pepper. And to finish it off, a layer of melted Camembert topped with cranberry sauce. I snagged a picture of it, but it didn't come out great because my hands were a bit messy from eating them, so here's a Simpson's rendition of a bit of classic food porn!

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Gearing up for Xmas

Went out into Bristol Town Centre to continue my Christmas shopping. Just about got my secret Santa sorted and one or two other bits, but I still have a fair amount to grab. Met up with Pearless along the way and ultimate he came back to our gaff and we cooked dinner for him and his girlfriend, ended up being a fairly chill evening.

Going to be utilizing my slopey day tomorrow to create a real frankenfood: A Christmas burger! Watch this space to see the results.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Chilli Beef Pizza

Since it was Friday, my boss invited us all out for a quick drink at the pub, who was I to say no? Got a beer down me very quickly before we all had to disperse and walking home I noticed that I was getting quote ripsy, probably because I hadn't had much to eat beforehand so it went to my head quite fast. In my boundless wisdom, I decided that what I really wanted for dinner was an Asda pizza. As I approached the counter I reeled off all the toppings I wanted, and again, since it was Friday, I opted for the chilli beef.

Now I had assumed this would be a tikka level of spicyness in the beef, but boy was I wrong. Took one bite and I was sweating something fierce. Got flashbacks to the pizza I had in Slovakia many years ago that was crazy hot. This was nowhere near the same ballpark, but I was regretting my decision just moments after my first bite.

Rebecca came home shortly after and I treated ua both to a Bailey's hot chocolate which has made us both very sleepy...

International Tea Day

Sat in for one of works official 2017 'game plan' meetings. While I couldn't add a whole lot to the discussion, the chats and the end points were all really interesting and I think we are heading in a very healthy direction. I've been tasked with writing up some beta versions of the new PowerPoint's in our 'New Buisness' decks and, so far, I think I'm doing an OK job at that.

Took a swig of tea, seeing as it was international Tea Day. I'm really not a big fan of the stuff, and I confirmed my lack of love for it further today. Dah well, least I gave it a shot.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Playing Games Like the Good Old Days

Finally got around to doing a bit of Christmas shopping today. As I leave it fairly late each year, my presents will be effectively sponsored by Amazon Prime. Gonna have to brainstorm some other ideas for people tomorrow though and get them ordered in soon.

Came back home to a quiet flat since Rebecca is spending a night with friends down in Bournemouth. Having the whole pad to myself is lush and I'm really looking forward to starfishing in the bed. Played a lot of OverWatch tonight with Louis and co and that was genuinely lovely. Now that he and his mates are coming off for Christmas we all have time to play games together again and that reminds me of the good old days.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Humble Stoph

Popped round to Mark and Lucy's this eve for a game of Cosmic Encounter while watching parts of the Royal Variety Show. Had a really nice dinner there too! Mark insisted that he messed up the cheese sauce for the pasta bake, but I thought it was cracking, humble kid that Stoph.

Roped in Louis to help me out a bit on designing a document for work. While what I did wasn't naff, it could have done with some sprucing up - will try to tackle that one further tomorrow.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Ebay Success

My bosses were really pleased with how well the EBay AT-ACT video we launched last week was doing. Its been one of the best opening videos for them all year and it really been a great way to sign off the year.

Rebecca is going to be going away on Wednesday back to Bournemouth for a bit which means I'm gonna be home alone for a the first time ever in my new flat. Gonna eat ice cream, and watch scary movies and do all the cool things like that.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Charity Gala

Went on a neat little shoot last night in Andover, filming a charity drive and auction. Crazy nice venue, we were basically inside a stately home of sorts and the residents were apparently super cool with hosting events there. I was on sound, of course, and I got an opportunity to test drive my new 1/4 inch cable so I could plug myself into various sound desk. It was super useful when I needed to get simultaneous coverage of the live band and audience members singing along as separate tracks.

Since we got back at 2am, today was an easy one. Rebecca and I took a tour up Bristol's North Street to check out some of the independent food chains and other cool stuff. Ended up getting a late lunch out at Bagel Boy before coming home to watch Home Alone. I haven't seen it in years but Rebecca was is a big fan so I re-watched it with her to get us both into the festive mood.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Ebay Star Wars

Slept like a baby last night, and thankfully the cold has gotten a lot better. Still have a tickley throat, but its not sitting in the head as much today. Which is just as well, because the office was in full swing after the launch of our latest film for eBay.

We basically teamed up with a renowned YouTuber called Colin Furze who's forte is building massive things in his back garden. So we got him to build a Star Wars AT-AT and give it away to a big fan of his, check the video here:


And you can see his extended build video of it here:


Thursday, 8 December 2016

The Worst Cold

I felt it coming on yesterday, but its now official: I have an early December cold. And as a result, I had one of the worst nights sleep I think I've ever had last night. Work up repeatedly in the right as my brain was just felt 'busy' all night. It was strange, I couldn't actually formulate a coherent thought as my head was just pumping out literal static - so bizarre. Ended up getting out of bed at 4am just to walk around the kitchen for a bit in the dark. The cold didn't help at all as that really restricted my breathing.

Work today was also fun because of my illness. Basically, I was forced to pop to the loo every half an hour to blow my nose again. I get really bunged up so I thought it was only polite to spare my co-workers the trumpeting noise of me clearing my nose, but it was embarrassing to continuously be popping out to the loo. Generally, I just felt like I was being run over by a bus in slow motion. Knackered now, and I'm hoping tonight will be kinder to me.

Just want to say, bless Rebecca. She provided several great tablets to take throughout the day that really kept the worst of it at bay. Today would have been significantly worse if not for them.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Office Pub Quiz

Got to do a little bit of prop running, headed over to Paperchase to grab some boxes for a small short film that we're doing on Friday. Nice little break outside of the office anyhow, even got to instruct a random bloke towards a bank in town centre, he was genuenly impressed by the fact that I could go on google maps to find d the closest one to him; bless him.

Just got back from our office evening out at the pub with an impromptu pub quiz. We got separated into two teams, and while we were unquestionably the weaker team we still had a blast altogether.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Emails, On Their Marks

Prepped one more parcel for delivery at work today, this time it was only going within the UK though so nothing too exciting. Our office is about to become ground zero for emailing in the next two days a we will be seeding our latest video to potential news outlets and websites. Basically, we want the video and story to get as much coverage as possible, so we ask about 50 websites if they will feature us, this next one is genuinely very news worthy so it should be snapped up.


Rebecca was out most of the night at an unofficial Christmas party so I fended for myself at home. Cooked what may be the finest omelette I've made to date (I finally learnt the value of salt and pepper) and tucked into a night of unadulterated video games. twas bliss.

Monday, 5 December 2016

FedEx Continued

Got to deal with all the mailing joys of FedEx once more, but this time in reverse! The thing we shipped off to the US a few weeks ago needs to come back home to us now, so I had to schedule a courier to pick something up from LA to send it back over here. I didn't want anything to be messed up in the post so I spent a long time researching what I was doing before committing to anything, ended up making 3 separate phone calls to different FedEx staff members before I finally felt happy enough that I was actually doing the right thing.

As a result, I did a bit of production assistanting that would have made Mark proud. Sent off the invoices to our friends in the states alongside a home-made document instructing them on how to fill out certain forms, and I supplied them with super condensed fact sheets if anything needed writing down; in theory, its fool proof. But I guess I'll find out tomorrow if it all went to plan.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Loch Fyne

To celebrate Rebecca's Nan's Birthday we ate out at Loch Fyne. never been there before, and from growing up not liking fish, at first I thought I'd have trouble finding something I'd like. Then the tuna steak burger presented itself. 'When In Rome' I thought, and I had no regrets.

Back home now after a smooth ride home, already hoping that Monday will go easy on me, but I already have a good feeling about next week.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Drinking at the Movies

Yesterday Rebecca very proudly showed me her newly purchased copy of Drinking at the Movies, a graphic novel that looked right up my alley. I'm a little ashamed to admit that I have already finished the book before Rebecca had even started it, but it was a really easy read with a constantly light hearted tone. Think a hipster, NYC version of Persepolis and you'll be in the right ballpark.

Took a swing back to Rebecca's homestead of Twickenham this weekend and we are celebrating her Nan's 90th Birthday. Its great to be with her family once again and so far its been really chill, looking forward to tomorrow's party/dinner already.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Getting The Creative Juices

Finished up what has been the most difficult brief at work yet. Been struggling with it for the entire week after generally failing to come up with legit good ideas. Fortunately, I've come out of that process with a bit of hindsight, I have a better idea on how I can get the creative juices flowing better as it all comes down to pacing and structure as I work, eager to hit Monday with a vengence.

Louis and Rachel came round for a curry and movie, Planes, Trains and Automobiles to be exact. Say it every time so I won't bore you, but what a film. Always enjoy watching it with Louis as I think we see a little bit of our own relationship within the characters and it really starts to get me in the holiday mood.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

VR in the Workplace

Work splashed out and bought a 360 degree camera and I was put in charge of testing it out. Basically, it was a boys with toys session, especially since I had a VR headset to pair it with as well. Spent a good while pouring through the instructions and testing out VR with a Samsung phone, and left with quite a good impression of it. Took a 360 photo as well which feels really weird to view in VR as it makes everything feel so much bigger. Of course, the headset I was wearing also had a pair of googly eyes stuck on the front, my co-workers had a good laugh at my expense since I looked lke a bit of a ninny... Wish I had those photos.