GR Strips - Takin' a little break
Posted on Tuesday, December 23 2014 @ 19:20:10 Eastern
I'm pretty sure I'm in the same boat as a lot of people when I say this but I can't believe 2014 is almost done. As I type this blog entry, it's 12:25 PM, Wednesday the 24th of December, Christmas Eve. I still can't believe it. This year has gone fast.
I'm writing this blog entry for two reasons. First, to announce that GR Strips will be taking a brief break for a few weeks, as this coming Sunday I will be leaving Australia and traveling to Japan for a few weeks with some friends for a holiday. Second, to have a bit of a spill about GR Strips and the experience behind it.
Around November last year, I noticed a thread over at GR forums, made by GR's content director and reviews manager Daniel Bischoff. He was asking if anyone would be interested in working as a freelancer for GR, more specifically to review games. While I've never professionally reviewed products or games, I stepped forward and spoke to Daniel to see if other work might be available, in this case, it was comics.
Daniel spoke to the permanent staff of GR and after a few back and forth e-mails of discussion, we came up with GR's own web comic, GR Strips, with our first comic “Maybe She's Born With It” uploaded on Friday the 31st of January.
44 comics later, now we're here.
Unfortunately, I've only been able to commit myself to one comic a week. I'd love to do more, but it is quite time consuming, especially because my colleagues, the staff of GameRevolution are all based in the United States, while I'm here on the planet of Australia. It's been a challenging learning curve, one for all of us I'm sure.
It's easy to admit that not all of our comics have been positive or successful. It's pretty evident when people don't like, or understand a comic. At the end of the day though that's kinda to be expected and quite understandable. You can't please everyone, and sometimes someone might think something is great, while someone else may not quite agree. That's fine, that's the nature of the beast. However in saying that, I know there are some comics of ours that have been very successful and looked upon in a positive light, and I'm very proud of those works and collaborations.
I used to run my own web comic Reckless Abandon with my older brother. We slowly stopped doing comics due to time and motivation. With GR Strips though, it's been a blessing to have, as the schedule keeps me motivated and driven. I get to collaborate with multiple people and it's really humbling to see people reading and enjoying my works. Hell, it's even interesting to have some haters and trolls!
GR Strips has given me an opportunity for many things. For starters, it makes me draw on a regular basis, allowing me to keep practicing with my art, it allows me to experiment and try new things in comics, people see my work and I enjoy the interaction with the readers.
For this opportunity, there's a fair few people I'd like to thank.
I want to thank the entire staff of GameRevolution... Anthony, Nick, Daniel, Alex, Ryan and all the other freelancers and contributors for all of their encouraging support, writing and editing of the comics.
I'd like to thank my older brother Morgan for also helping me write and edit some of the comics.
Finally I'd like to thank each and every one of you, the readers, the viewers of GameRevolution for not only coming to this site, but for at least looking at my work. Whether they've made you laugh, smile, or shake your head thinking “Craig is such an idiot”, I want to thank you for at least looking at my work.
Merry Christmas everyone. I hope you all have a great Christmas with your family and loved ones and I hope you all have a safe and happy new year. All the best for 2015 everyone!
GR Strips is scheduled to return on January the 30th, 2015.
It's been a pleasure.
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Welcome Home - PAX AUS 2014
Posted on Tuesday, November 18 2014 @ 11:26:56 Eastern
This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.
Last night I returned home from PAX AUS 2014. Long story short, it wasn't perfect, but it was quite possibly the best weekend I've had this year. It was a lot of fun. If you'd like to continue reading, the long story is just below.
Buckle up. This is gonna be “tl;dr”.
The Penny Arcade Expo, or PAX first came to Australia in 2013. A poll was held online asking readers where they feel an international PAX should go and lucky for us, Australia was the top voted country, so it became a joyful reality.
PAX came to Melbourne in Victoria, Australia. Melbourne is one of the biggest cities in Australia, having a diverse, multicultural population of nearly four and a half million people. Melbourne is also known for its art, as well as its “food and coffee culture”. Out of all the cities in Australia, it's the perfect place to go.
I went to PAX last year and it was amazing. I ventured there with my older brother and his girlfriend, while also catching up with a few friends of mine in the process. I even had the honour of meeting Mike “Gabe” Krahulik and Jerry “Tycho” Holkins. It's no secret that I look up to these guys, admire them, they're my Goddamn heroes really. I also had the honour to meet other staff members such as Gavin Greco, Josh Price, Kiko Villasenor, Levin Sadsad and Penny Arcade's president Robert Khoo.
I was pleasantly surprised that Gavin remembered me and my brother, as we had a very engaging conversation with her last year and we met again this year. She was even nice enough to give me a pin to give to my brother this time, since unfortunately my brother couldn't attend this year's show with me. My girlfriend couldn't attend with me either, but lucky for me I was able to sell my second pass to a friend of mine from work so I'm glad it went to someone who's passionate about gaming just as much as I am, perhaps more so.
Back story done, now to talk about PAX.
Day 1 (Friday 31st of October)
My friends and I arrived to PAX first thing in the morning, about 7:30 AM. We eventually joined the queue which just seemed to grow and grow. I'd never seen so many people before. Last year's show was big, but this year due to the bigger venue it was huge. Rumours were flying around that the numbers were ranging to about fifteen thousand people. I believe that.
The first thing we did was watch the opening keynote, a “story time” featuring Pete Hines of Bethesda, which was really entertaining, funny and very revealing about Bethesda and the company that it is, in a good way of course. Straight after was the first Penny Arcade Q&A featuring Gabe and Tycho. Gabe and Tycho were drawing pre-asked questions that readers submitted online some time ago. Questions came from a white envelope or a red envelope. Supposedly, the red envelopes were the “hard” questions, but Gabe and Tycho often found difficult questions in the white envelopes.
I was happy to hear one of my questions were in those envelopes. I submitted a question and it was regarding their games. I asked them if they were planning on going back to making games, whether it's sequels/prequels to the Precipice series or perhaps an entirely new game. Mike explained that he doesn't really like making games but Jerry does and that Mike would like to see an RPG of the Lookouts, while both Mike and Jerry agreed that a game about Automata, developed in a similar way to the Telltale Games (perhaps by them even) would be awesome. I certainly agree.
We spent the rest of the day exploring the main expo hall. There was a lot going on and I mean a lot. A massive League of Legends competition, cosplay, many booths and indie games. The lines were huge so it was very difficult to see something that I wanted. I also spent more money than I care to admit on merchandise of Penny Arcade and other pop culture variety, but funnily enough the latter merchandise I bought was mostly gifts for friends.
Due to standing in lines a lot, I ended up playing a lot of Super Smash Bros. for the 3Ds via local wireless multiplayer. I don't mean to sound like a douche but in all honesty, I'm pretty good at Smash Bros. Out of the fifty local multiplayer matches I had that weekend, I only lost to one guy and even then we were even, he'd win one, I'd win one etc. but I'll explain more later.
We saw the first round of the Omegathon, a gaming competition and elimination tournament were twenty PAX attendees are randomly selected to compete against one another in a series of games. The first match was flying shooting game Ikaruga, which was a lot of fun to watch.
While hanging out in the hand held lounge, a young fella, probably in his early twenties and just said to me “Smash?”, so I thought sure man, let's go. I introduced myself but instead of responding, he put his ear phones in and put his game face on. I felt that was a bit rude, but I shrugged it off. We had our first match which he won. I would say “Good game man”, “Well done”, “Nice one” but he never responded. I found every time I knocked his character off into oblivion, his hands would shake and he would become frustrated.
We played a few more rounds and we were very evenly matched but he rarely spoke. When we were done, I said he's good and I enjoyed playing, then I introduced myself again and offered to shake his hand. He shook my hand and replied with his name. At first, I thought this guy was quite rude but then I thought to myself that I shouldn't think so negatively, the guy probably has a bit of awkward social issues and approaching me to play probably took some guts on his behalf. I think in the end it's great we got to play a few games together.
My friends and I visited the console free play area, we wanted to play Diablo III: Reaper of Souls for the PS4 with four players but unfortunately we were only allowed two controllers, so we ended up just playing Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U. While my friends played, I sat back and drew on my Microsoft Surface Pad Pro 2, drawing a cartoon of Delsin Rowe from Infamous: Second Son, since one of my mates was cosplaying as him. Speaking of which, cosplayers were everywhere, some were great, some were incredible and some were not so great, but in all honesty good on 'em for trying and giving it a go. They have more patience and more confidence than me, that's for sure.
We watched some of the music concerts they had at PAX. Australian comedy band Tripod played, my favourite song called “My Guy”, a song about their characters from Skyrim. Another duo eventually came on but unfortunately I didn't know who they were. We left shortly after that.
While on the way out, I actually ran into Tycho. Here's a short and embarrassing story. I was withdrawing money from the ATM, I was so tired (considering my lack of sleep and my red eye flight the night before) and he walked past. I thought “Oh ****! It's Tycho!” because I wanted to meet him again and get some stuff signed by him. So I managed to call him over, and he and his mate were like “You should probably finish getting you're money out”, here I am thinking “Oh ****, you're right”. Mean while, I'm withdrawing two hundred bucks and some people nearby saw me withdrawing cash and saw Tycho standing nearby. They asked, “Are you giving him money?” and I said “No no it's mine!”, it was really embarrassing. Tycho was nice enough to have a small chat with me before signing my stuff, then it was off to the hotel for me to get some Goddamn sleep!
Day 2 – (Saturday the 1st of November)
Once again we arrived to PAX ridiculously early, in line for Penny Arcade's second Q&A and the draw a strip. That was really fun, hilarious to watch and listen to.
When we got out, we ventured around the expo again. I took my camera out, taking photos of the area and the cosplayers. My friends were doing that QR scanner hunt thingo with their smart phones. It looked fun but I was way behind, I didn't worry about it.
A group of LARPers (Live Action Roleplayers) were doing a segment on swash buckling lessons. It sounded like a lot of fun but in the end I didn't do it. I was worried about doing something stupid. We watched 'em, basically they were on this damn big pirate style boat outside (the convention has some docks right next to it) and there was this massive brawl of LARPers, all sword fighting and stuff. It looked really rough! We saw this one fella charge into people with his shield. I thought to myself it was probably a good idea I didn't do it, just in case I accidentally used a judo throw on someone. I'm surprised, but glad no one got hurt considering they were fighting on a boat.
I also got to meet web comic artist Abby Howard. For those who don't know, Abby was one of the finalists of Penny Arcade's web series Strip Search. She was my favourite contestant and it was great to meet her, I'm a huge fan of her comic Junior Science Power Hour. She also has a very successful Kickstarter The Last Halloween.
Another embarrassing story... shortly before I met Abby, the buckle of my belt broke and I had to hold up my pants. So for a while, I was walking around like a cowboy. I decided to leave the venue and go to the nearby mall to buy a new belt but I saw Abby. I wanted to meet her but I didn't want to risk losing the opportunity to meet her by leaving and buying a new belt. So, I approached her like a cowboy, and quickly like an idiot I explained that my belt is broken, I'm trying to hold up my pants, sorry for being weird.
Day two was honestly a bit of a slower day for us. We spent a lot of time just walking around looking at stuff really. We managed to check out a presentation by Ubisoft for their upcoming title The Division. I didn't know much about The Division but the presentation gave me a much better understanding. It's one I'm looking forward to.
I had a number of people approach me inquiring about the pins I had (since I'm into the Pinny Arcade pin trading). A few people wanted pins that I can't let go due to sentimental value. Even had a few people offer me money. Sorry guys, I can't do it.
I left the venue early around 9ish PM, I was so tired that I just needed to get some sleep, it was ridiculous.
Day 3 – (Sunday the 2nd of November)
Day three was the busiest day, despite being the shortest. I arrived to PAX extra early, 7:30 AM, because I wanted to try and buy one of those PAX ten year anniversary pins for my brother. I made it and I got one, which was great.
My friend and I lined up in the queue quite early and despite being near the front, we couldn't make it to the Oculus Rift. By the time I had arrived the wait was already an hour long. So bugger it, no worries. Instead I went to try out the new Super Smash Bros for the Wii U, which I thought was incredible. The graphics are amazing, it ran at a smooth and solid sixty frames per second and using a Game Cube controller was much better than using a 3Ds. After my match, I went to check out the new 3Ds and 3Ds XL and I really like it. The new button layout as well as the much needed introduction of the C stick does wonders for the console.
My friends and I also tried out the upcoming Battlecry by Bethesda. Battlecry is almost in the Beta stages and will be released first to Australia and New Zealand. It'll be a free to play, third person team based arena game, set in a sorta steampunk setting. When I played there was a choice of three character classes. The class I chose was the Enforcer, a tank-style class who wields a massive sword.
Players automatically sprint across the battlefield until they draw their weapon out for combat. Players can also dive roll into and out of fights as well as use grappling hooks to hook onto specific points to quickly go up to higher areas.
Combat is very straight forward. As an Enforcer, the left mouse button swung my sword, the right mouse button turned my sword into some kinda groovy shield to block incoming attacks. As you fight, you have an "adrenaline" meter which builds up. By pressing the shift key, you can unleash your adrenaline and become more efficient in combat, dealing more damage and taking less. Should you fill all four bars of your adrenaline and use it, you'll unleash your ultimate skill which sadly I didn't get to do.
Each character class comes with three skills, used with the Q, E and F keys. Each skill when used must cool down, so it can't be used immediately after. The Enforcer has some kinda shout skill (dunno what it does), a spinning attack with his sword and finally his sword can become a fire sword. It's pretty cool. The strategy of Battlecry is to know when to use your adrenaline and your skills in battle.
The match we played was a control match, everyone knows what that is. At first my team didn't do very well but we eventually won the ten minute match.
After Battlecry, I wanted to see the final Penny Arcade Q&A but unfortunately it was suggested to me that if I wanted to meet Gabe and Tycho for the scheduled signing, I would have to pick one or the other, so sadly I skipped the Q&A and lined up early for Gabe and Tycho. They signed my stuff and I asked them a few questions which they were more than happy to answer.
I rejoined my friends in the table top area and from there we played a few rounds of Cards Against Humanity, which is so much fun. It's great because all you need is a sense of humour and it's really easy to learn.
After we played for a while, we eventually lined up to the main theater to watch the final round of the Omegathon, which serves as the closing ceremony of PAX. The final round involved an old Atari game called Combat, which is a shooting tank game. It was hilarious and so fun to watch and be a part of.
It saddens me that PAX is over, amusingly people call it “Post PAX Depression” and to further add salt to the wound I got sick on my way back home. That being said, I had an amazing time at PAX, I can't wait until next year, I'd like to try and make this an annual thing. It's a great and fun experience that I recommend to any nerd, geek or gamer. If you identify yourself as any, or perhaps all of these things, then you have to experience PAX.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of GameRevolution, but we believe it's worthy of being featured on our site. This article, posted on November 3, has been lightly edited for grammar. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~ Ed. Nick Tan
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Nostalgia, or something more?
Posted on Monday, June 2 2014 @ 13:05:57 Eastern
This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.
A few weeks ago I had finally finished Dark Souls II for PC. Since finishing that game, I haven't really been playing anything else. I should be, considering I have a few unfinished titles for my 3DD but I prefer to save them for times when I am traveling and on the go. I picked up Watch Dogs last week for my PS4 and despite the mixed views it's receiving, I like it, but I have a sneaky suspicion that Watch Dogs may go on hold for a while in favor of Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U and now The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, the HD edition.
I love Mario Kart 8, it's an incredible game and I've praised it enough on here at the GameRevolution forums so I won't go into much detail. What I had completely forgotten about though and was reminded thanks to an article here at GR, is that for a limited time, if you register your copy of Mario Kart 8 to Club Nintendo online, you can download one Wii U game for free from a list of ten. I chose The Legend of Zelda.
I first played The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker back on the GameCube in 2003. That's eleven years ago. I was fifteen years old at the time and it was one of the hardest times in my teenage life. Now, I mean no disrespect to anyone but I'm sure there are people out there who can relate to what I am about to discuss.
When I was a teenager I didn't have a very good time. I didn't have many friends at school and those who were apparently my friends were not so much when behind my back. I was bullied, a lot, for about five years. Most of the time the bullying was verbal but there were times when these encounters became physical and violent. I hated going to school and quite often I would pretend to be sick so I could stay home and not go to school to face those bullies. I felt so bad and ashamed about myself that there were times when I honestly wanted to, how can I say, just end it.
I was picked on for absolutely stupid reasons. I was overweight back then. I was quiet and shy (still am). I didn't have the privileges or possessions many of the other kids had. These are all reasons that people, whether it's kids, teenagers, or adults should not be copping abuse for. Despite not having the same privileges and possessions of the other kids, my brothers and I were lucky to receive video games every now and then, usually for birthday or Christmas presents, something I am eternally grateful to my parents for.
I've grown up with video games my whole life and they're a big influence on me. Like many of you, I love games. I love the stories, I love the interaction, the graphics and visuals, the sound and music, the gameplay. Nintendo games always have a way to nail all these aspects on the head. Games in general also helped me through these difficult times as a teenager. It's sad but I must admit, I used games as a form of an escape.
I remember my older brother got The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker for Game Cube for his birthday back in 2003. I remember this, because I remember when playing this game I was going through one of the toughest times in my teenage life (which I won't get into). I just remember that this game was something that seriously helped me during those times. One of my favorite things about the game was the travel mechanic, sailing on a boat.
Back then when I was fifteen years old and playing this game, I would sail on the digital seas of Hyrule, traveling from one destination to the next whilst listening to the in-game music and strangely, I would feel so calm, so at peace. I would think about the things in my life that made me happy and I wouldn't think about all the things that were making me so miserable. It was a really nice feeling.
Now that I have the HD edition for the Wii U, almost the exact same feeling struck me again as soon as I started sailing for the first time. While it was a similar feeling, a calm feeling of peace, I wasn't thinking about things to make me happy but rather, I was reflecting, thinking about myself eleven years ago when I played this game, thinking about the times and what I was going through back then. I then wonder, as I sail those digital waters, the kids who bullied me back in my teenage years, where are they now, what are they doing? To confess, normally when I reflect on bullies of the past, it usually fills me with negative emotions; however, when I reflected back on these bullies whilst sailing in-game, I felt no negative emotion, I only felt peace.
One of the reasons I love The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker so much is because not only is it a great game in its own right, but it seriously helped me through one of the hardest times of my teenage life, and funnily enough it was mostly because of the sailing aspect of the game.
Do you have any games that have helped you through tough times? You don't have to tell us what was going on at the time, but I would love to hear what games helped you through these difficult times.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of GameRevolution, but we believe it's worthy of being featured on our site. This article, posted earlier in May 31, has been lightly edited for grammar and image inclusion. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~Ed. Nick Tan
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