Category

Games

Category

One year ago to the day, I stacked it getting off a bus.
Tripped over. Had a fall.
It hurt.

I jumped up quickly, looked around embarrassed, dusted myself off and wandered off.

Half an hour later my shoulder was pretty sore. 10 hours later I was in agony and took myself to emergency.

The story has a few more twists and turns. To get to the point, I had a broken collarbone and, shortly thereafter, a very badly frozen shoulder. I’d never had anything like it. The collarbone took three weeks to heal, the shoulder has taken all year.

In those first weeks I couldn’t sleep. I’d wake up in agony if I tried to lie down, even with a heavy dose of prescription painkillers. It literally ruined Christmas, and my summer was turning into a waking nightmare.


Bob Ross hosted a TV show, The Joy of Painting, that ran on US public broadcasting for 31 seasons from 1983 to 1994. The final episode aired on May 17, 1994, and sadly Bob died due to complications from lymphoma on July 4, 1995.

His show was designed to encourage others to paint, and to show that anyone can create landscape art through his use of a wet-on-wet oil painting technique. But its popularity was thanks to Bob’s incredibly positive, joyful presence, his soothing voice, and the way the whole experience becomes repetitive in both its warmth and pleasantness.

When the show ended, the web was still just emerging. Six months after the show ended, Netscape 1.0 launched. When he passed away, the idea of watching video streamed online was a pipe dream. As far as he would have known, his impact on the world was limited to a devoted but niche audience of American viewers who would admire his legacy of spreading happiness through art.

A great piece by The New York Times on where all the paintings have gone.

On what would have been Bob Ross’s 73rd birthday, 20 years after his death, streaming platform Twitch.tv launched its Twitch Creative platform with a marathon stream of every episode of The Joy of Painting. Over nine days, 5.6 million viewers tuned in to enjoy the stream and ever since the twitch.tv/bobross channel has streamed seasons of his show every weekend as well as running marathons again most holidays.

The channel now has 1.4 million followers, and a devoted community of fans who tune in each weekend to chat as if Bob was still with us, streaming in real-time.


While I hunted for anything to help me rest, I ended up propped on the couch at night, looking for shows, videos and streams to soothe my brain a little if sleep was not going to find me.

It turned out Bob Ross was the salve I was looking for.

His voice – so calm, silky smooth, deeply comforting. I’d seen Bob before. He was a meme well before I’d spent any serious time actually watching his show. But to let Bob wash over me, one pleasant 30 minute episode at a time, was a balm for my brain.

Alongside his wonderful voice, it was also the way the recordist on the show also picked up every brushstroke. Tapping, swishing, gliding sounds as the bristles crossed the canvas.

I suddenly realised Bob Ross is like an OG ASMR guru. And I was far from the first to grasp that idea. It turns out the custodians of his legacy at Bob Ross Inc were well ahead of me.

“He’s sort of the godfather of ASMR,” says Joan Kowalski, the president of Bob Ross Inc. “People were into him for ASMR reasons before there even was an ASMR.”

Newsweek

Bob soothed my mind and sent me into a kind of meditative state. I felt rested as I dozed in and out of conscious thought. Part painkillers, part dulcet tones and sounds coming from the TV.

But the marriage of Bob Ross and Twitch was essential to my bliss.

Every episode of Bob Ross is available on YouTube. And there are some collections of episodes available on Netflix. But both of these put the onus on me to choose something I want to watch. Where do I begin? Which episode? Which season? I don’t want to see the same thing every time, so I have to actively make a choice.

Bob Ross on Twitch is a stream in the same soothing way Bob talks about painting a stream. When you need it, it’s just there, ready to flow over you and refresh the mind. Sliding into stream, finding Bob in full flight is exactly what I needed. Not choosing what to see, just being surprised by whatever it was that weekend had to offer.

The internet needs more serendipity in this algorithmically controlled era. Everything is being programmed to immediately serve our taste for active engagement.

Bob is serendipity incarnate – the perfect passive engagement. The thing I didn’t choose, that wasn’t pre-programmed to suit my specific algorithmic tastes. It was the thing I never knew I needed and wasn’t being asked to lean into.


For the first 10 weeks of my recuperation, three nights a week Bob carried me to rest. Sleep was still fleeting, but Bob placed my mind into a meditative ASMR space that helped me get up in the morning and feel like I had enough energy to participate in life.

Now my whole family adores Bob. We tune in for at least an episode or two most weekends. We quote him when we’re not watching. But when we do, we sit back, we smile, and we let the Bob Ross experience wash over us.

After 5 years, The Game Awards has carved out its patch as an end of year celebration of the games industry that has the pretence of Hollywood awards shows while delivering marketing opportunity after marketing opportunity to viewers everywhere. And we’re really mostly here for the ads.

Who doesn’t love new trailers and ‘surprise’ announcements at a time of year when we’re normally only being bombarded with suggestions for what to buy right this very second? Isn’t it more exciting to get teased about stuff that might be ready for the end of 2020?

I love good trailers, I love good teasers. And games now seem to tease better than filmmakers – too often they show us 5 minutes of the best bits of a 100 minute experience. Games are vastly longer interactive experiences, so a teaser can only set a mood and give us flavour, and they’re getting very very good at doing that job.

So what stood out? Here’s my 10 favourites.

Xbox Series X

What a terrible name. But then, every Xbox sequel has had a weird name – 360, One, One with a letter, Series with a letter… But what it lacks in name quality it makes up for by, well, by telling us what it’s going to be called so journalists can start talking about it with a proper name. It’s just good to get this well ahead of E3 2020 so we’re all on the front foot together.

Hellblade II: Senua’s Saga

Look, this could easily be ‘bullshot’ footage, but it’s always cool to see something that is being developed for a platform that isn’t here yet. Then we can watch this video again once the game is out to discover how much they had to pull back or get rid of to make it actually work on people’s actual home consoles.

D&D Dark Alliance

It’s been SO LOOOOONG since the last Dark Alliance – 15 years since the PS2 / Xbox game! That fundamental concept of “Diablo but in the D&D universe” is so much fun, and I’m all for more console action RPG set in my favourite tabletop RPG. As a long time slayer of bugbears, ankhegs and illithids, and as a fan of the classic Drizzt Do’Urden books and the Icewind north of Faerûn, I am incredibly eager for this.

Godfall

This new IP from Gearbox, makers of Borderlands, sees Playstation 5 get its first confirmed title, and in many ways this is pitched as “What if Borderlands but hitting things instead of shooting them?” Yes, I want to play that game.

No More Heroes III

Suda51 is an icon of the games industry and he has loved messing with people about when or whether we’d ever get another No More Heroes. In 2015 he said it would probably be 15 or 20 years before NMH3. Yet here we are, getting a trailer 10 years ahead of schedule?

Weird West

WolfEye Studios has serious pedigree, sprouting from the brains behind Dishonored and Prey. A twisted dark fantasy / sci-fi in the West? Count me in.

Theros Beyond Death

I just LOVE seeing Magic the Gathering sets get cinematic trailers! If this is the primary gain from having concurrent releases of sets in both digital and physical forms, keep it coming!

Magic: Legends

New cards? Cool. A new MMORPG set in the universe of all things Magic: the Gathering? Intriguing! This is coming from Perfect World Games, the team that also makes the D&D MMO Neverwinter that’s been going strong for six years.

Ikumi Nakamura

The star of E3 2019, Nakamura is a bad ass art director on Bayonetta and The Evil Within games and was last in charge of the gorgeous looking Ghostwire Tokyo before exiting earlier this year, much to the dismay of fans. So it was a delight to see her on stage here to award Best Art Direction award to Control. You can now find her on Twitter talking about how she’s considering lots of offers of where to work next.

Reggie!

Reggie retired from Nintendo earlier this year but he is still one of the most iconic business leaders the industry has ever seen. When he got up to deliver the Best Indie Game award, he did it with the emphatic style we’ve always loved him for.

A special panel recorded live at PAX Australia 2019! Featuring a trio of amazing industry experts to explore the topic of shifting gears from just playing to truly pursuing esports as a passion.

Listen here or find it in your favourite podcast apps or Spotify!

Jocelyn Brewer: @JocelynBrewer
Andrew Kinch: @gameawareprogr1
Brandon Defina: @SINJuves

Find Seamus here: @seamus
Find Byteside here: @byteside

(Photo Credit: Anthony Brolin)

It’s no spoiler to point out that the new Dungeons & Dragons campaign book, Descent Into Avernus, leads a party of heroes from the mean streets of Baldur’s Gate directly into the first layer of Hell itself.

But how does it happen? And what happens when we get there? I want to avoid anything that spoils the story, but still give you a sense of whether the new expansion is a worthy experience for your table.

TL;DR: Yes. Yes it is.

Who it isn’t for: a group that wants pure, high fantasy D&D as the focus of its adventuring experience. Descent Into Avernus deviates from the classical fantasy tropes and instead embraces a Hell that invokes metal album covers and Mad Max vibes. War machines powered by souls roam this battlefield, and your group will have reason to get involved in these shenanigans.

There will not be green and pleasant lands to tromp through. There will not be relaxing taverns to rest in. Good will not necessarily triumph at the end of the day.

When you read this book, it feels like a D&D creative team that is really enjoying its work. And they are delivering adventure books that are utterly epic in proportion.

I adore the Hydro74 special edition covers

The current model of campaign design gives us stories that are for characters starting from the ground floor and heading off on journeys that have world shaping consequences. Descent Into Avernus is an exemplar of this model. It says it is for characters starting at first level and takes them on a journey through to level 13.

When you think of traditional ideas of visiting other planes, it is usually treated as the stuff of high level campaigning. Here, it doesn’t take long to find your character out of its depth in the middle of the blood war between devils and demons. And being out of one’s depth in combat terms means characters need to think smart and use their wits to not die. Always a worthy challenge.

Ahead of the launch, folks like Chris Perkins pointed out that there was a lot of work put into making you really feel like you’re in Hell. That everyone in Hell is, well, in their own Hell of sorts, so the scene setting does a lot of work to ensure you know your character is not having a nice time. But there’s a very important distinction here. One that means “my character is in Hell and having a rotten time” and “I, the player, am having a great time dealing with my character being in Hell” are all part of the experience.

The stakes in this storyline are vast. I am curious to see in the D&D canon after this campaign has been around for a while whether official lore will change to accommodate what is suggested by this story. Outcomes will vary based on what your party does, but with stakes like these it’ll be fun to see whether the lore keepers declare one outcome or another as having eventuated.

Early on I did hold some concern that this campaign might not suit younger players. But this feels like a fun conceptual space that has gross demonic and devilish things happening but can be delivered in a way that gives it all a laugh and a gross out without being nightmarish. Barovia is a far more troubling place for younger minds that this version of Hell.

The inclusion of deeper detailing of the city of Baldur’s Gate is great fodder for any Forgotten Realms campaign, as is the core mapping and detailing of the inhabitants of Avernus. If you never run this as a full fledged campaign, your table could still be a lot richer for having the source material available. There is a menagerie of characters and monsters here that would slot in nicely whatever kind of game you happen to run – as long as you’re ready for a side order of Hell to slot them into.

Descent Into Avernus is a bargain with the devils you should sign up for. No blood required.

Going back to where it all began can bring with it a lot of very specific vibes someone is looking for to get their nostagia trip just right. So it’ll be exciting for some, anxiety inducing for others, to hear that Blizzard is opening a chance to secure your perfect character name before WoW Classic launch day.

In a post to the WoW Classic forums, Community Manager Bornakk announced that anyone with an active subscription or game time in World of Warcraft will be eligible to reserve up to three character names.

We will release details regarding realm names and realm types later this week so you can coordinate with your friends on where to begin your adventure. If there are high numbers of players congregating on individual realms during the name reservation/character creation process, we will post warnings about the potential for long queues on those realms, giving you time to choose alternate realms. 

– Bornakk, WoW Classic Forum

Doors open on August 12 at 3.00PM PDT – precisely two weeks before the servers go live on the worldwide launch.

That translates to 8.00AM, August 13 in Sydney, Australia.

No build up. No hype. Just a wonderful sneaky release that means you can get it in your iPhones and iPads immediately. The best kind of surprise!

Annapurna Interactive has released the classic PlayStation 3 game ‘Journey’ for iOS. More than any other, the beautiful game is lauded as one of the greatest examples of a game that is a true art experience.

If you’ve had the pleasure, here’s a great excuse to carry it with you wherever you go, pushing it into the hands on unsuspecting doubters.

If you’ve never played it. Get it now. Then set aside a movie worth of time to play it start to finish. It’s the perfect way to play it.

There have been plenty of occasions in Fortnite’s history where hidden Battle Star have been placed in dark corners of Fortnite’s ever-changing map. The first week of Season X (yes, that’s Season 10) is no exception.

If you’re new to the race to level and tier up, you need to complete missions and challenges. Over the course of a Fortnite season, new challenges are released, and new secrets are uncovered. And all of these award precious Battle Stars, which are the primary currency when it comes to moving your Battle Tier from 1 to 100 – unlocking all the cool skins, emotes, tools and other collectibles along the way.

So it makes sense that a lot of Fortniters, especially anyone wanting to get to Tier 100 as soon as possible, will want to know where the only hidden Battle Star known so far this season is hiding.

Once you have completed your third B.R.U.T.E mission – a limited time set of challenges that ends on August 8 – you get the B.R.U.T.E squad loading screen. At first glace, it may seem like yet another awesome looking loading screen. But then it gets even more interesting when you find out that above game character X-lord, on the right side of the loading screen, there are a set of coordinates. These read: D2, D3, E2 and E3.

What could it be? Everyone’s best guess is that it reveals map coordinates, and there you will be able to find this precious prize.

The precise location of the Battle Star is directly south of the bottom left corner of The Block. Keep walking until you either see it or feel as though you’ve been walking for long enough. If that doesn’t help, here’s a video showing where you should go.

Notice there’s nothing in the video? That’s because, while we know the coordinates, so far the Battle Star has yet to appear. With just days remaining in the B.R.U.T.E challenge window… it’s got to happen soon? Right?

Don’t forget – if you miss this or you get to it in time – this will certainly not be the only Battle Star treasure for you to track down and collect. It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last. So keep hunting those secrets!

Now, go find this bounty and reap the rewards!