Why Its Awesome To Be A Nerd\Geek.

I have my reasons, so do you. And if you really think about it anyone who loves something, so completely and honestly whether its sports, games, music, literally anything, fits under this namesake that we all call ourselves.

I started out with a growing interest in playing video games, even more so than most people around me. I delved into it with a passion because I simply loved everything about it. From the stories, the characters, the worlds, gameplay, EVERYTHING. It was clear to me even as a 10 year old boy, that video games were going to be a big part of my life. And the joy of finding other people who love the same things I did with as much fire in their souls, made mine burn even brighter. I will admit, at times I do question myself about it, and ponder on the many possibilities of who I might have been if I ignored it, but time and time again I simply think back on all the friends I’ve made and the experiences we shared because of this one similar love, I find those regrets quickly fading away.

I’m going to leave something special for you dear reader. This video below was taken from a Comic Expo in Calgary, USA; it was a young mother asking Will Wheaton to explain why it’s awesome being a nerd to her young daughter. I couldn’t agree more with every word he said.

It is indeed awesome to be a nerd\geek.

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Humble Deep Silver Bundle!

The awesome people at Humble Indie Bundle have put another set of games for you to get your hands on with a donation (of any amount) to their charity. The bundle offer will be available until August 13.

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This time around its the Humble Deep Silver Bundle, named after the publishing company which put out some pretty sweet games like Saints Row The Third and Dead Island. For this bundle, a donation of less then US$5 will get you Saints Row: The Third (Awesome game!), Saints Row 2 (Also good!), Risen 2: Dark Waters & Sacred 2 Gold Edition with the download link for the OSTs. Paying more than US$5 will get you Dead Island and Saints Row:The Third Full Package that includes all the great DLC missions you wouldn’t have otherwise + OST’s. And for those with more money to spare, giving US$25 or more will get you all previous games and the sequel to Dead Island; Dead Island: Riptide.

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As with previous humble bundles, you can allocate the amount you’ve given between the developer\publisher (Deep Silver), the Charity pot and the Humble Tip for the good people putting in the hard work to do this.

I highly recommend getting Saints Row: The Third Full Package as it is an amazingly fun game to play. Its essentially GTA minus all the realism, its wacky, outrageously funny and extremely fun to play. The perfect game to get your hands on when you want to unwind and just turn off your brain for a while. And the DLC missions are a real joy to play as well, like the one which puts you as a lead actor in a sci-fi movie shoot with a bias director or the one where a hardcore fan accidentally brings back an old friend from the dead, leading up to a very epic Frankenstein inspired story.

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For those more inclined to playing RPG’s Risen 2 & Sacred 2 will be decent games to go through. I haven’t played either before, which gives me incentive to try them out, although I have played the first Sacred and enjoyed it quite a bit. Dead Island is the only multiplayer centered game (4 players co-op) for you and your friends, and its actually not that bad. Light RPG elements combined with a hack & slash\FPS zombie game is always fun to play with a couple of friends on a weekend.

Well if any of these sound exciting to you, go ahead and donate some cash. These games might just be the thing to fill your time during the coming Raya holidays.

Top 5 Reasons Why Tabletop Dungeons & Dragons Is Good For You.

Just over the past month or so, me and a couple of friends got together the play some Dungeons & Dragons, old school style, none of that fancy-schmancy computer stuff. We’re talking actual pencils and paper, with sharpeners and erasers yo!

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After spending an hour or so getting down to the character building, we finally got into the game. Suffice to say, we were hooked and continued our first campaign well into the wee hours of the morning with plenty of tense moments and lots of laughs. It gave me a whole new appreciation to the game as the DM (Dungeon Master) as well as a player. That’s why I decided to compile my top five reasons why playing D&D is good for you, this qualifies for any one of any age.

1.) Role Playing

Its always interesting and fun to be someone else, especially in a fantasy world where you can really go deep into their character and act out exactly how you think and feel they should . Combine this with other players and you have a real party going on. Role playing is essentially allowing a person to fill in the shoes of someone else, either a character they’ve always wanted to be or someone completely opposite to who they are in real life. This allows a different way of thinking and behaving, it gives the person the freedom to be someone else and opens up their mind to seeing the world in a way they normally wouldn’t be able to.

Much like how reading an auto biography gives you a front row seat to a person’s life, in D&D you are living your character’s life and you can decide for yourself how to grow him\her in the way you feel is right. Its as much your story to write as it is for everyone else. The feeling of crafting out their back story to describing their appearance is a very liberating one, and by doing this you are indirectly training your brain to be more adept in describing images as well as getting into the mind of your fictional hero. Think of it like a very basic level of method acting, the more you understand someone, the better you are in thinking like them and becoming them. In the real world, this develops your ability to understand people better and indirectly allows you to see their side of things clearer, as you can picture yourself in their shoes much easier.

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2.) It Actually Makes Maths Fun

No, seriously it does.

Think about it, would you rather solve an equation between who has the most apples in their hands, or would you rather count down the possibilities of a magic sword setting an enemy ablaze?

Exactly. You see D&D works on a system of probability and calculation. The game’s mechanics work solely on the basis that you know basic arithmetic and can balance out probabilities for certain actions. Whether these actions are successful or not comes down to the roll of the dice. The only way the DM or players can affect their success is by how high their skills are which adds or subtracts points to the value of the dice roll. For example, the DM challenges the Warrior to jump a chasm, its a difficult challenge, so the DM decides with a 20 sided die; he needs to roll a 15 or higher to safely jump across. The players rolls and gets a 13, which means he failed, but because he’s trained in Athletics he actually gets to add +5 to that amount which totals to 18, therefore he is successful.

Nearly every action in the game, from checking for traps to flirting with the barmaid, the odds are all determined to scale with how much of a challenge the DM thinks is fair to place on the players. A good game offers a fair amount of challenge, not too easy nor too difficult, and the only way to balance a game of D&D is with good use of mathematics. This is actually a great way to teach kids percentiles and fractions as well as an introduction to the theory of probability. The way I see it, I would’ve paid much closer attention in Maths class if my teacher didn’t force me into thinking of Ali & Abu with 30 watermelons all the time, and instead showed me Conan and Merlin dividing up goblins.

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3.) It Fosters Teamwork

D&D’s rules is well thought out to limit each character to a certain amount of abilities and strengths so as to balance the game for everyone. You can be great at certain things like a Mage skilled in magic spells; casting powerful magics at your enemies but are being held back by your weak body, where enemies can cut you down easily. This is where the strength of many can overcome the weaknesses of an individual. Taking the example of the Mage, he can keep enemies at bay with his Fireballs but as soon as an enemy gets too close the Warrior can defend him, likewise the Warrior would be overwhelmed by the enemies if not for the spells the Mage uses. Its understanding that you are not a one man army and that working together gets the job done better and faster.

This goes without saying that in real life, teamwork is important to everyone. In any work environment each person has their task and duty to fulfill, but the organization does not succeed entirely on that one person’s responsibilities, its the combined effort of everyone that pushes the company forward. Much like the Mage and the Warrior, a co-worker who comes in to help with your paperwork eases the workload allowing both of you to come out on top with your salary and free time as the prize. Knowing each others strengths and abilities is the key to overcoming the multitude of challenges in D&D and in life.

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4.) Face to Face Communication

Now you must be thinking that this is a redundant point. Anyone can talk! That’s one of the most basic things parents teach their children as a baby. Why is this even mentioned?! I’ll tell you why. Because the basic act of conversing with people and strangers is becoming less and less common with each passing year. I’m not saying people aren’t talking anymore, I’m saying people are not talking face to face as often anymore. When you look at how easily we’ve traded our person to person socializing with a messenger window or chat bubble, you just might start to see why our parents keep saying that people today look so dead and lifeless.

D&D is a very social game, even if you’re playing with just one other person.There are so many things to see and listen, from the tone of their voice to the small gestures and body language they show. Socializing with people isn’t just the conveyance of a written message, its in the emotion and expression it was delivered in, something that emoticons rarely describe honestly. You can feel and empathize with a character much better when you can actually see their expressions and hear the way they speak. Players could run into an injured old man who was ambushed, they need to hear his cry for help, the voice of desperation and fear with a tinge of sadness, or perhaps anger and distraught. That’s how a DM gets his players invested in a game, by making it believable. He\she should do their very best in expressing key characters well. You wouldn’t enjoy a game of D&D very much if every NPC you met speaks in the same tone and voice would you?

This actually lets all the players involved be more attuned to understanding each others behaviors. It deepens your understanding of another person, which gives you a better appreciation of them for who they are. This adds to the game’s overall experience and also allows friends to bond, both old and new, where you can actually see a real smile, instead of an emoticon. 🙂

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5.) Creative Thinking

The last and my most favorite point. I always believed that as a human being with the gift of a brain that allows me to dream and imagine, creativity is something that should not be ignored. We owe a lot to our creative abilities, from modern technology to amazing movies like Inception and The Avengers. It should be something everyone practices in their own way from sports to writing, constantly honing it to learn and explore the endless possibilities it has for us.

Which is why I love being the DM.

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Gary Gygax, the creator of D&D

As the DM, I had the role of creating a world for my players to explore and have fun in. Of course, they’ll have ideas of their own, but its those ideas that allow me to create pathways to different outcomes and sometimes completely different results. I started out with a very simple guideline, there was a beginning, a middle and an end. How my players reach these parts of the campaign was entirely up to them, with me giving them concealed hints and guidance when needed. The campaign was designed to challenge them, but what challenged them was entirely based on their actions. One example, my group wandered into a dark. empty shop; rather than sleep in the inn, they wanted to scavenge for loot. Caught off guard from this choice, I worked around this by giving them what they wanted, but not without a fight. They ended up taking on a Zombie before finding a hidden chest with a Ruby and magical equipment. Suffice to say, it worked out well. The guys got what they wanted with some excitement thrown into the mix and I got to test out their strength as a team before deciding what other challenges I could throw at them.

The whole thing was made up on the spot. I did not anticipate them actually scrounging on the bad side of town in the middle of the night for loot, so I played ball and rolled with it. I was worried that I would have muffed up the whole game by drawing a blank and just insisting they go to the inn, but by keeping myself on top of their idea; I ended up sharing an enjoyable experience with them. Creative thinking helps in all sorts of situations, it lets you get in tune with your instincts and develops a faster reaction to solving problems on the fly.

This is beneficial to those who have jobs that require you to settle deals and need to resolve issues quickly or in different ways. And that’s my top 5 reasons why I think D&D is good for you. Its not that difficult to get your hands on a copy of the game. I got my red box basic 4th edition from my local comic book store down the road for RM90. And D&D has been around for a long time, you’ll find a whole community out there to get to know.

But enough talk, its time to roll for initiative!

Do you play D&D? Why not share your thoughts on it or some cool experiences you’ve had with me in the comments?

Ittle Dew Brings Back Memories

I’m back. Now that’s settled with, lets dive into it shall we?

This is Ittle Dew.

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This cutesy little Zelda-like indie adventure game has you in the shoes of a traveler and her trusty fox-with-dragonfly wings sidekick (named Tippsie) on an adventure! You start off on an island which is just reeking in it, and armed with your stick, you set off into the very first cave.

First off can I say just how pretty this game looks?! It reminds of Legend of Zelda: Windwaker, if it was a top down 2D game. The world looks like something you’d find in a comic book or cartoon and is brought to life with small animations like how the stencil outlines of characters are always moving and the way monsters move, like the floating turnips and waddling platypus (at least I think they are…). Its charming design drew me into the game quite quickly and I looked forward to finding out more. Controls are smooth and move fluidly enough to keep you on your toes while the world just looks so colorful and bright, even in the darker areas like dungeons.

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If you like games that reference other popular titles as well as self referential humor, than you will want to get this game. The jokes you’ll find here are varied from visual gags (best one is in the castle) to conversations between Dew and the other inhabitants on the island. Tippsie the sidekick lives up to his namesake, with his bottle of red liquid always at hand and Itan the Item Store owner has a strange obsession with carving all sorts of things, sea life especially. Even tutorial messages tend to kick out a smirk or snicker from me. So if you need a simple game with lots of humor in it, this game can easily serve your needs.

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Now onto the meat of the meal. The gameplay. Ittle Dew plays exactly as it should. Movement controls and actions are fluid and easy to pull off. It doesn’t ask for very complex maneuvers, as it is more puzzle oriented and asks more of your brain power, than button mashing.

The puzzles are varied and come in enough flavors to keep the game interesting, slowly starting you out with puzzle blocks, moving on to ice blocks and bombs, adding some depth into the whole package. It isn’t too difficult, so masochists might want to go back to Dark Souls II, but it is enough of a challenge to leave some sitting and pondering for a few minutes before your younger sibling comes by and solves it on their first try. (I’m locking my door from now on.) Dew will have a variety of weapons to wield that help solve puzzles, like the Fire Sword that lights things on fire and a Portal Wand (If you’re wondering what that does, go play something else.) among others.

As for how long this game will take you to finish, just the main story can go up to 3 hours or so, but if you’re a completionist, you may find yourself spending up to 6 hours or more. This is mostly in part that the trickier puzzles are hidden with pathways covered by trees and other stuff. Part of the challenge is finding them, solving them and grabbing that Collectible Card at the end. These cards usually comprise of Enemies and Bosses you’ll run into with some pretty funny flavor text included.

There really isn’t much in terms of replayability for Ittle Dew, as the puzzles will be straight forward once you’ve figured them out and the jokes can only be humorous after playing through it so many times. But it is a really fun game to play when you tackle it the first time. A solid recommend for fans of Zelda games of Indie adventure lovers. The creators at Ludosity, mentioned that there are Leaderboards and also encourage speed running as well as choosing to purchase only a certain combination of tools to beat the game to challenge yourself.

Ittle Dew will capture you with its charm and humor, and the puzzles will tingle your brains enough to keep you playing till the end.

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Ittle Dew is available on Steam for $13.99 or RM 49.72 for Windows, Mac & Ouya.

Hack and Slash: A brief look

Hack and slash games are tons of fun to play, whether you’re busy dishing out painful retribution in Dante’s Inferno, or taking the piss out of the gods in God of War, the satisfaction and ability of being able to just decimate your foes with each push of a button solidifies this genre to be a class of its own.

As an avid gamer, I play and enjoy many games, but time to time there will come an urge within where I want to play a good hack and slash game. And there are many of them out there, from powerhouse titles like Devil May Cry to the simpler indie games like, Hack Slash Crawl. But how did the term hack and slash come to be? And what is a hack and slash game?

Looking back into history, Hack and Slash is a term which finds its roots in the old “pen and paper” RPG’s like Dungeons & Dragons. It was used initially to describe the campaign players would be involved in, which as the name describes it to be, one with minimal to no story but tons of battles to be in. The earliest quote of this can be found in a D&D Dragon Magazine article from the 1980’s, by editors, Jean Wells and Kim Mohan.

“There is great potential for more than hacking and slashing in D&D or AD&D:”

The article goes further, reporting of a D&D player who is described as a hack and slash type player in tournaments. From there the term grew to mean either a character or a situation that involved the use of weapons and combat.

Later on, the term hack and slash, transitioned from tabletop games to video games, since many of the earlier video games had visuals and game play styles similar to D&D games. The term was often coined to reference early 2D beat-em-up’s that included optional weapons in them, as well as action games such as Golden Axe and Final Fight. Bear in mind, that beat-em-up games were games where the players characters only used martial arts with fists or kicks like in River City Ransom, only if the game has weapons for the players to use was the term appropriate in its description.

Then came the console era, where consoles like the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and the SEGA Master System gave everyone the option to enjoy their favorite arcade games in their very own homes. It was here at this point where hack and slash games started branching away from the beat-em-ups, to become its own genre. Games such as Ninja Gaiden and Magic Sword had player characters that exclusively used weapons, which allowed the term to stand on its own.

A few years after the expansive explosion of 3D games came into play with more advanced consoles like the Playstation and the Nintendo 64, hack and slash games were given more breathing space to work in and gave rise to many opportunities in giving players a whole new range of options and challenges. When compared to the 2D side-scrollers, weapons used usually gave a few short combos or just additional reach and damage, the modern counterpart to these games which are in 3D, have progressed to allowing players the use of many different weapons, a mixture of combos as well as the need to consider the game’s environments, allowing varied game play and also encourages the player to experiment how to use them best, making for a complex and a deeper, satisfying experience. On PC, games like Diablo and Divine Divinity were hallmarks in this accord.

Today we consider hack and slash to be a distinct genre, mainly for 3D games in a third person perspective with weapons and beat-em-up action in the style of Dragons Dogma, Onimusha, and Prince of Persia. These games have come very far and each one brings its own unique style with it, but they all still fall in the same category. Whether the action is slow and more strategic, like in Demons Souls, wide and expansive like Dynasty Warriors or fast paced with heart pounding action like Devil May Cry, a hack and slash game is there to deliver the experience of epic battles, played out with a character skilled in the use of weapons.

So the next time you play another hack and slash game, take the time to appreciate it for more than just the carnage and action it offers. Each and every game has a rich history within them, and it’s a ton more fun when you know the story, or at least it’ll give you the upper hand the next time someone starts a nerdy discussion on the origin of games, by which when they’re still processing all the info, you can swiftly knock them out cold with the closest possible weapon at hand and get back to your game.

Merry Christmas & Happy Gaming!

Hey everyone!

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year! Also happy gaming with all your friends and family both near and far. Its that time of year where we come together and celebrate with good cheer and high spirits, or as some would prefer, getting high with some good spirits.

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Its been a wonderful year of opportunities and learning for me, from getting a job, to leaving it to pursue my real drive, writing game reviews and helping grow the gaming community. I’ve got plenty to look forward to next year and I hope all of you, dear readers, will look forward to more reviews from my blog. A big thank you to all of you for supporting me with your comments and recommendations. Merry Christmas! 😀

The Humble Indie Bundle 7 Available Now

Hey everyone,

Another delightful group of indie developers have gotten together to offer all gamers the chance to download 6 fun and enjoyable games at any price you set yourself to be donated to Child’s Play Charity!

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This time around the games on offer are:

Snapshot, The Binding of Issac + Wrath of Lamb DLC, Closure, Indie Game : The Movie, Shank 2 and for those who donate more than the average of USD$ 6.01, they get to unlock Legend of Grimrock and Dungeon Defenders + DLC.

Also included with the download are each individual games soundtracks in FLAC and MP3 format. Get all of them right now via: http://www.humblebundle.com

You can also portion how much of your donation goes to the charity, the game developers or as a Humble tip to the organizers.

So not only is this an awesome deal to enjoy some great indie games, its an opportunity to donate to charity and to spread some joy to children in hospitals around the world.

Gamers at heart, with heart. 🙂