A big giant letter F

Figures… the day I end the hiatus and aspire to push on with my video game related writing and journalism is the day that the video game journalism world loses a hugely influential and important figure.

I have no personal story here. I’ve never met or chatted with Total Biscuit, though it was always kind of a dream of mine to be able to join that “inner circle” of sorts and show up on the Co-optional podcast or play on a stream with them… something like that. I’m not one of those that will be mourning the loss of a dear friend and family member. All the same, I’ll still be mourning.

This guy is immensely important to the work that so many people do in the video game writing and content scenes. He’s one of the key figures that people can look to on as having proved the viability of being a “content creator”. Whether that’s on podcasts, streams, YouTube videos, shoutcasting… he’s had a hand in all of it, and so many who now partake in this do so because of the ground work he laid down.

He had standards that he was rarely if ever willing to compromise in, both in his own work and in the video games that he looked over and reported on. At the same time, he was fair in covering the strengths and weaknesses of what he played, being honest about his feelings and experiences on them. More than that, he often covered indie games or lesser known titles that may have never gotten any kind of coverage or attention had he not.

It’s honestly crazy to look back and see how much has been influenced by his work. Hell, I first encountered him and Jesse Cox alike when they were covering the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm beta stuff. That would have been in 2010. Even by that point he was decently well known and established through WoW Radio stuff.

Throughout all of these years, the biggest lesson and message that Total Biscuit pushed to aspiring content creators was a simple one: be consistent. Set a schedule and keep up with it. Put your content out without fail, as much as you can, and stick with it. It’s a simple lesson, but an extremely important one… and one that the last update shows is one I sometimes struggle to take to heart, personally.

And it’s not just the writing and content creation part that TB is influential with, too. It’s been no secret that he’s been fighting a losing battle with cancer for years now, yet he never made it seem like a losing battle. The first diagnosis was terminal, but he chose to keep on fighting anyway like a goddamn rockstar. From the very outset he was determined to beat the odds, and his longevity means he very much did.

There’s been interviews and discussions that have talked about his battle with cancer that have honestly, legitimately saved lives through the information offered. All throughout, he’s been adamant on the notion of “It is the enemy, so I must fight it.” And so he did. He kept on with his content wherever possible, as unflinchingly as possible, and even in the final months when it was clear that he was in pain and suffering… still he pushed on. That’s probably why the news that he was finally retiring earlier this month, and this morning’s announcement that his fight was finally over really hit home.

You never knew me, John, but I — and many others — knew you. And we’ll carry on your work and legacy as best as we can. May you rest in peace.

Big-Boss-Salute-720x408

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Is there anybody… out there?

Yes, I’m still alive. Sadly the blog has not been, but I’m hoping to correct this in the coming days. Details below the cut, but to keep it brief…

tl;dr: Remaining Delfies entries to be released at once in abridged form ASAP, scheduled articles going away, various labelled articles becoming less important. Attempting at least a post once a week on no particular schedule or theme, as if this was a blog or something strange like that.

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Backlog Battle Report (5th Feb 2018)

Rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated.

I hadn’t been intending to skip over the last couple of reports, but with the focus being on keeping up with the Delfies I didn’t get the chance to write it. Clearly, I didn’t really keep up with the Delfies either. After having to put Right Click to Zoom to an intermittent release schedule due to not meeting my regular plans, you’d think I’d know better, but alas! I’m still working to get those written and out as quickly as possible, so do stay tuned.

Given that I was trying to write a lot during the skipped weeks, I didn’t play all that many different games at first. After three weeks though? Well, I’ve accrued quite a bit of playtime in various games and sampled a few titles, so I’m going to hit as many as I can. Let’s go.

Super Robot Wars J (GBA)

At some point a few weeks ago, I got to talking about mecha in a Discord chat. Very soon a handful of us were nerding out about our favourite giant robot anime or games, our favourite robot designs, and other such discussions. I love this stuff, but this knowledge tends to lie dormant for extended periods up until something reminds me about that love.

In this case, the discussion was enough for me to immediately go out and order a couple of giant robot games to fill the void. Problem is, good games that utilise good series and designs don’t tend to be all that common of late. I wanted to go to the heart of it, but in order to do so I would have to order a couple of games that don’t get western releases.

Rather than have to muddle through Japanese menus and incomprehensible plots, however, I nowadays have the option of ordering games from Southeast Asia that have cheaply done but perfectly functional English translations. The only catch is that those usually take a few weeks to ship. So I ordered my mecha fix, and then immediately was left waiting for it to arrive… meaning I had to take stopgap measures in between.

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The Delfies 2017 #8

Among the many strong titles of 2017 vying for a gamer’s time, there’s always the allure of the persistent games from yesteryear further muddying that choice. It’s not even a case of going and cleaning your backlog of The Witcher 3; I’m referring to the multiplayer games that remain a constant time sink in the gaming landscape. The MOBAs like Dota 2, the shooters like Counterstrike, the card games like Hearthstone, and, of course, the MMORPGs.

While the genre has retreated to more of a niche in the past few years, the behemoths of the MMOs still lurk… and one of them put out an expansion pack in 2017 that I thought was pretty damn good.

Delfies 2017 #8: Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood

Genre: MMORPG

Played on: PC, also available on PS4

Final Fantasy 14 has a development history unlike any other title in video games. If a bad game is released, it will usually remain bad, and even if the developers are somehow able to improve the situation it is unlikely to receive the attention of gamers a second time. It doesn’t matter what company you are or the size of your budget; releasing an awful game to abysmal scores and catastrophic results should not ever see the game rise above it to become great.

Still, most developers don’t have the budget or pedigree of Square Enix in order to make their second attempt. Even then, that pedigree isn’t exactly saying much when a trilogy of Final Fantasy 13 titles produced only one good game between them, and there’s a lot I could say negatively about their last ten years of JRPGs. Nonetheless, when the release of FF14 proved disastrous on all fronts, Square Enix decided to double down on the project and do their best to fix it, to the point of remaking the entire game from scratch as a sequel.

By all accounts, Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn should not have been possible. Even reusing assets and concepts from the original release, they effectively built an entire MMORPG from the ground up in just two and a half years. And somehow, that newly released title managed to recapture the goodwill of players who had written off the first, continuing to grow and improve into one of the largest and most successful MMORPGs in history.

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The Delfies 2017 #9

Assuming you don’t count any Switch titles as exclusively handheld games — and the jury is still out on that one — then this is the sole appearance of a game on a handheld console this year. Given that the 3DS has mostly been supplanted by the Nintendo Switch and the PS Vita continues to barely exist outside of Japan, this might be the last hurrah for solid handheld exclusives for the rest of the console generation.

That said, it feels fitting to me that perhaps the final game on the 3DS to get this distinction is also a glorious return to form for a long absent series, as well as a solid reimagining of a classic game.

Delfies 2017 #9: Metroid: Samus Returns

Genre: 2D Action/Adventure/Platformer

Played on: 3DS (Exclusive)

It’s been a while, Samus. Good to see you again; I know many missed your games, and I’m definitely among them.

2016 was the 30th anniversary of the original Metroid, but it barely received even the slightest acknowledgement from Nintendo during this time. It had been six years since the last Metroid game, unless you count Federation Force (which nobody does), and it had been even longer than that since the last good Metroid game. For a long time, the fanbase of Metroid was distraught and felt that perhaps there’d not be a return of the armour clad bounty hunter heroine’s adventures.

Instead, it took the extremely well made fan game of Project AM2R (Another Metroid 2 Remake) to acknowledge the prestigious date of the anniversary. Boasting immense attention to detail and quality pushing it well beyond what fan games had ever seen before, Project AM2R was an instant success and massively adored by players. It was sad, then, that Nintendo culled the project barely a week after its release, ordering its total closure.

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The Delfies 2017 #10

The first entry on this list is somewhat special, as it immediately stretches the criteria I set up for determining my favourite games of the year. That said, had I not done so, you’d be reading either a Top 9 or instead reading about another game that I finished but didn’t consider worthy of this list.  Given what I feel about that game compared to this one, that’d just be unfair, so this title gets the sole exception.

The Delfies 2017 #10: Prey

Delfies Prey header

Genre: FPS/RPG
Played on: PC, also available on PS4, XB1

(Note: For future entries, I’m planning to include a launch trailer here. In Prey’s case… the launch trailer just does a disservice to the game as a whole, quite frankly, so it’s omitted.)

It wouldn’t be accurate to say that Prey 2017 completely flew under the radar, but it did seem to get less attention than it otherwise should have. Perhaps that’s because people still long for the now canceled Prey 2 cyberpunk alien bounty hunter action shown only in glorious trailers. Maybe it was following right on the heels of a string of hotly anticipated games from February to April. Whatever the reason, people are missing out.

Prey is probably the closest an action game has gotten to evoking the sense of tension and unease that made System Shock 2 one of the most memorable games in history. Most other titles that accomplish this are usually firmly in the horror genre, and they usually do so by taking away any sense of empowerment a player might have against the creeping terrors; it’s hard to maintain that same sense of fear and tension when the game puts a shotgun in your hands.

Now some might quickly interrupt me here and say that Resident Evil 7 managed to accomplish this in the same year as Prey, and you’d be correct. But I would say that Resident Evil was firmly a horror game, pitting you against tough situations that you had limited resources to overcome. Prey? Prey doesn’t limit you nearly as much.

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The Delfies 2017: Introduction and Quick Links

Welcome to the Delfies Awards of 2017!

Starting with the number 10 position and counting down one per day, I shall be going over what I considered my favourite games of 2017. This post shall be kept at the top of the blog for the duration and will be updated with each new entry for quick links. Be sure to check them out!

#10: View
#9: View
#8: View
#7: ASAP
#6: ASAP

(All dates will usually be met around 11pm AEST, if not as soon as I can readily have them available)

While each post will be fairly detailed about what the games are and why I like them so much, I also want to go over my criteria for what qualifies for selection. There’s also a pretty big disclaimer in there that I shall direct you to if, for any reason, you want to protest my choices or believe something should be higher, lower, or absent. That said, I still welcome all discussions on the matter so feel free to message me and we can chat about it. More after the cut!

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