Thursday, March 9, 2017

An age!

Wow, it has been an age since I last posted.

Life has been entertaining, I will give it that. I have not recorded a lets play in over a year, I have not written a blog entry in over 3... but I am hard at work as a Business Intelligence Developer / Analyst (Google it...) at a great University, and enjoying many aspects of the geeky lifestyle. I will hopefully get back into posting about them in the near future!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Minecraft 1.8 - The Bountiful Update.

So, yesterday Minecraft V1.8 dropped. The longest and biggest patch/revision to date, having taken almost an entire year to develop after the release of 1.7 in October last year.

Having spent some time reviewing the changes, and a little time in game, as well as the fact me and my friend Evic will be kicking off our new cooperative lets play this evening, I can confidently say I am excited to get into the new version of the game, and some of the changes I have seen or read about are awesome!

My world preview video for the Coop Lets play world.

The major changes revolve around new blocks, new mobs, material changes, changes to villagers as well as a batch of fun and interesting miscellanious changes.

World Generation:
There is a new option on world creation to create a custom world. With this, you can use a selection of sliders and check boxes to decide what is in your world, and how much presence for certain things there will be. A fantastic way to create challenge maps, or just something that looks a little different.

In ocean biomes, there is also the chance of discovering an ocean monument - large underground structures containing rare materials and guarded by new mobs - the guardians. To say they sound challenging is an understatement. Physics changes mean that arrows wont work under water (beyond 2 blocks) so you need to get up close to them, and to do that likely means crafting lots of water breathing potions.

On the subject of mobs, there are a lot of mob changes and additions. There are passive mobs, such as bunnies, that can be killed for food and leather scraps that can be combined to make leather. Guardians, which guard the monuments, and Endermites, which spawn around nether activities, like Endermen teleporting, and are similar to Silverfish. Sheep now drop meat, bunnies drop meat and can be used with a large recipe to make Rabbit Stew that restores 10 food and 12 sustenance, making it the most potent food in the game. Additionally, the Wolf AI has changed, they now actively hunt skeletons, and scare them away. Give a dog a bone eh?

Villagers have had an overhaul. The trade system is more effective and there are more unlocked trades, and villagers also have a level of willingness that goes up as you trade with them, making them susceptible to breeding with other willing villagers if they get to a certain level. They also have professions, which will dictate their tradeable goods. Best keep them villagers alive ;-)

Enchanting levels have been changed, and enchanting also uses Lapis Lazuli. Finally, a use beyond blue dye for this most useless of blocks.

Some other changes include making certain items stackable, like doors, and also making wood items like doors, fences and the likes actually have colour to match the base material. This makes for much better customisation. Other items include armour stands where you can hang up armour or mob heads - which themselves are gathered from blowing up mobs with a charged creeper. THere are also a load of new blocks ranging from new types of stone, to slime blocks (trampolines!) and sponge blocks (hold water).

On top of this there have been a butt load of tweaks and bug fixes. If you have not had the chance yet, get in there and enjoy!! :D

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Unturned - Speed Review of the DayZ / Minecraft game.

I played Unturned for the first time last night, and I have to say, for a game that comprises of the most basic of graphics, it is an excellent and fun game. Taking elements of DayZ, where you start with nothing and have to scrounge everything to survive against the zombie hordes and remain 'unturned', and elements from Minecraft - the styling and crafting, it is a very interesting and rather intense game, at times. The impact and effectiveness of the game was immediate, and it was very simple to play, and better than it's appearance conveys.

Here is how my first few lives went:
My first life I walked into a town, and was promptly zombified in the back of a shop when it turned out that not only can these zombies run indoors, they are also a little faster than you and miss a LOT less than in DayZ... They also hit a LOT harder.

My second life lasted a little longer. I even got a rifle. I ended up being flanked by an un noticed zombie whilst hunting a deer, and was hit from behind for my last 10% health.

My third life seen me accrue a good inventory of weapons, start using the crafting system and the built in XP sytem to upgrade my attributes to better survive and combat the undead hordes. I then went ahead and assaulted the local military base, mowing down zombies left and right with a stolen car, gearing up, grabbing a Hum-Vee and spiriting away into the sunset.

I have thus far only played single player. It is a tough little game, but is very thrilling... and gore filled! Let's just say a shotgunned zombie will paint the internal walls of a building liberally.

The game includes a few systems that work well, including crafting (Hang onto that last bullet because you will want to refill the clip using the crafting system!), and experience points. Feel like going on a Katana wielding zombie Murder spree? Go for it - you will get XP to spend on swinging that bad boy better! Whilst lives tend to be somewhat atomicised - when you die you lose everything, you still regain some of your skills that you have invested, and your corpse will litter the landscape somewhere to recover some of your equipment.

My suggestion: Get your asses on Steam and get this game downloaded and try it out. It is Free to Play (At least at the moment) -- I will be commencing a short series let's play shortly to see how well I do in this game before I look to hitting up a server with other players.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Adblockers: Yay or Nay

I have been thinking. Yes, lock the doors and hide your pets away, the brain is being switched to active, and my trade mark waffle is about to commence!

I have been thinking about ad-blockers, like Adblock plus, and the effect they have on web content creation. As an 'internet content creator', doing a little bit of Blogging, a little bit of web development and a lot of YouTubing - one of the primary, if not, sole sources of income seems to be advertising.

I have always gone under the concept that my own content creation is a hobby, and any income seen from that is just a bonus, and simply helps me to part-maintain equipment that I use to do so. (I go through a frightening number of headsets because of the kids, and because cheap headsets tend to break easy, and at some point the PC needs upgrades.)

I am never proud when I put up that AdSense panel in Blogger, or select the monetization option within YouTube. I don't know why. It almost feels like I am saying "I am a professional, and as such you should put up with these adverts so that I can get paid for it". I am not a professional. Perhaps it is because I sometimes find it irritating when I have to endure the flashy adverts on other peoples sites, or take that extra 5 seconds to watch a YouTube video before I can click 'skip'. I am impatient. Either way, it does leave me ambivalent on the matter, and looking online, a LOT of people really don't like advertising.

For a while my perspective was 'Eugh, I don't like these adverts. How arrogant some of these people are. Look that YouTuber has 20 subscribers and expects us to endure his adverts...'. The result being a high bounce rate for myself (Can you tell I'm an analyst? :p). I hit that blog, I hit that YouTube video, and if I was put off, I just left the page without even seeing what glorious content some poor soul has committed hours, days, weeks, even years of their time creating.

Enter the adblockers. They have been around for years. They are even integrated into browsers, like Chrome, and are a simple download and activate app. You turn them on and away you go. It feels smooth and better to stream video after video, to view websites and watch them load in double time because the adverts don't show. This was at least my opinion before I started becoming a content creator.

Whilst I myself, still see any income from advertising as a bonus for putting time into a hobby, I know there are many others out there for whom it is the livelihood. I have no doubt that most people who start creating a YouTube channel for regular content creation such as Lets Plays or making music videos, dream of one day making it big. Hitting that magical number of viewers and subscribers that they can give up their day job and live off that for the rest of their days. This is unlikely, I doubt the likes of YouTube will be around forever, but we all have aspirations! I know I would love to be able to live off the revenue, but I just don't think I am talented enough.

How does this affect my view now? I started Blogging back when I was playing World Of Warcraft and co-running a raiding guild back in 2008. I started YouTubing and making lets plays in 2012. I have seen over the course of this time some nice spikes in revenue from advertising, but all the analytics show the same thing: a downwards trend for people to click-through on adverts. (The Viewer to advertising Click Through ratio) For me, this is disappointing, I liked the little surges of money when I started a popular or well times YouTube series, or had a particular blog post that was drawing in readers. For those who's livelihood it is? I don't see this trend as a good thing. I can't name any big bloggers or YouTubers off hand that have ceased their creation as a result of this downturn of profit, but one thing that must be kept in mind: The Internet is volatile. Interests and popular culture can change in an instant. What might be pulling thousands of viewers a day to your channel because you are discussing a pre-release of the next version of Minecraft, but it has a short shelf life before the next pre-release is out. Content can suddenly become old fashioned and you need to adapt to survive, and create create create. (Consider this all as a warning if you choose to go the path of the humble content creator - it has it's stresses, and ego busting let downs, not to mention the occasional troll comment :p )

I now hold a different view on advertising. Google Adverts that you find on most blogs (unless they are of a banned nature too Google, such as porn sites, and other nefarious websites) and on YouTube are safe. The sites have been vetted and the advertisers are paying customers of Google. The adverts are generally passive. The worst I have seen is the 30s YouTube adverts that are not skippable, or the 5s wait before being able to skip an advert. What is so bad about them? Nowadays, I still use an ad blocker, but if I am visiting YouTube or a number of other sites, I simply White-List the site and it allows the adverts to show. On YouTube especially, when I am shown an advert, I will actually give it a moment, if it interests me I have no problem with clicking the ad to learn more. I am fully aware that the adverts are paid for by the company they advertise, and I don't just click for the sake of it - apart from it being against the rules and regulations for someone registered with Google Adsense, it wastes the companies money.

If you are curious, here is how, in my experience, advertising pays out to a content creator:

Static adverts, like on blogs - clicking these to go to a website can pay anything from a few pennies to a couple of £. I think the biggest ad payout I got was about £1.20 from a single click.

YouTube, most adverts being clicked only seem to pay a few pennies, but with a lot of viewers this mounts up. Also for YouTube, you can get revenue for the length of ad video viewed. When a viewer watches beyond the 30s mark in a video, a small amount of ad revenue is paid out.

I am suspicious that there are diminishing returns on advertising. For example, the more viewers a video has, the less the average payout per click seems to be. I have YouTube videos that have made about £5 - only a few, but they are there, with around 10k views. If this payoff was linear, then the likes of PewDiePie who is nearly guaranteed a couple of Million views per video, would be making like £50k per video - that's something like £200k per hour for recording (not including edit, prep, scrapped videos, etc.). That's a lot of money.

To summarize, my thoughts are thus:

Don't block all the adverts. Don't be afraid to click the adverts, they are there for a reason, and it is not just to benefit the company advertising, or the content creator that is showing them. If you particularly like someones content - don't just click the adverts to get them revenue, this is likely to get their account closed, but check out adverts that do genuinely interest you. Whilst many content creators make things for fun, many want, or may rely on some income for their time, and without it they may simply stop making content. For me, if my Lets Plays did not bring a small revenue stream, I would not be able to find the time to do it, regardless of how much fun they can be - I already work a 45-50 hour week without doing them, and have 2 kids and a wife that I spend what time I can with.

For me,  recording time the ad revenue seen approximately matches minimum wage. The recording time however, takes up about 1/2 to 1/3 of the time investment for each video that goes live. I put up about 6 videos a week, which ends up equating to about 3-5 hours a week, for minimum wage on the initial 1-2 hours.

Waffle over! I think I said what I wanted to say on the benefits and disadvantages of Ad Blockers. Your choice, I just hope I have not advertised for MORE people to use ad blockers :p


Monday, June 16, 2014

Game of Thrones.... Preparation for the S4 finale

WARNING - CONTAINS SPOILERS. MANY MANY SPOILERS! Some are direct discussions from events, others are theory craft but may be considered spoilers if they come true... :p

The last episode of GOT Season 4 airs here in the UK this evening. To say I am giddy with anticipation would be an understatement. Every season of Game of Thrones gets stronger and stronger, and R.R.Martins sadistic tendencies and his take on historical realism become clearer and clearer. I fear for my favourites... I also don't expect them to make it. At least that is my sincere thoughts after Episode 8... 

One point to note - I have not read the books. I have a huge collection of books to work through, and very little time to do it, so this is a fresh take from someone being served up the Song of Ice and Fire series through the gogglebox. (I hate that term...) 

So, if like me, you are up to date on this season - below is how my brain is anticipating the final episode. There is SO much to tie up, I hope they make the next series be more than ten episodes, but so far it is a winning format. I considered walking through all 9 released episodes but there is a LOT of story arc to cover. Instead, I pick up below, from the end of episode 9 - The Watchers on The Wall.

So, with that in mind. Where does that leave us for the final episode? 

Firstly, we need to find out what happens to Tyrion! I hope he makes a break for it, and I hope Bron or even Jaime will assist or join him. Tyrion has long been my favourite character, and after Ep7 and the majority of Ep8 I was hopeful his duel would pay off. And then, despite shouting at the screen to not get too close, the inevitable happened... I anticipated the duel would end with The Red Viper and The Mountain potentially killing each other, but Oberon's skills proved him the most skilled warrior, sadly to the point of arrogance *sadface*. The Mountain is clearly crippled. He looked like the killing blow on Obe might have been his last ghasp, but I don't think we have seen the last of him. I do anticipate his remaining screen time may be short and painful considering Oberons duel history... hopefully tonight will shed some light.

To continue points from there, will we see any more of Bron? He was another of my favourite characters. I would like to see him pair up with Tyrion again, or perhaps have his own spin off story line. I would also like, as mentioned above, Jaime to ditch his sisters company and pair with Tyrion to help him out. However it works out - gonnae no gut Tryion Mr Martin?!

What happens with Arya and The Hound? Will she reunite with her sister? Arya I have liked from the day she started getting trained using Needle, who doesn't like an Underdog story. (Except maybe President Snow) I have grown to really like The Hound - I don't want to see him moonwalking if they let them through the gates, although if he was to be snuffed out - I hope it would be Arya, and so do you :p. Actually, I would like to see them go back out into the wild and for him to continue her training, taking him under his slightly darkened wings... 

Sansa - after her showing in Ep8 - I am now, for the first time, curious about her outcome. There is a great potential for her plot (although the last thing I want to see is her cosying up with Little finger. Ooh, fun twist - potential hound v finger conflict?... do it! I wouldn't expect it to turn violent, but I wouldn't put it past the hound to just Gregor the crap out of him. Little fingers saving grace is disposing of some of my lesser liked characters this series.)

Brienne and Poderick - where will their adventures take them? Oh no. Brienne V Hound? but I like them both... they know where Sansa went, and last we seen of them they were horseback riding to The Eeyrie. I suspect they are a good half a series behind Arya and The Hound though.

Will Margaery and Tomlin get married? It's a creepy seduction so far, but I have always been a huge fan of Dormer. /Drool, and want to see more of her. (Not that we didn't get that in her recent photo-shoot)
Danerys. To be honest, I don't feel much for that end of the plot at the mo. I has been a 2 series long trek through desert with a few epic moments thrown in. I am not sure what will happen here, but I would like to see her send for Mormont after realising he has been at her side 100% (I think...) Missendi and Grey Worm are a cute couple though. We are all hoping that Grey Worm lives up to his namesake are we not?

What about the watchers at the wall? I have a sneaky suspicion, that after Jon showing his sub-par swordless fighting skills in Ep9 that he is wandering off to a rather bubbly end.

Bran - I am unsure about this arc. At the minute I am not all that into it, there are interesting aspects and they keep stumbling across others, but as I understand it, even the plot we are seeing is brought forward from a later book or freshly fabricated for the series. Not expecting much. 

Theon. The greyjoys are once more a story arc I dont follow with great interest. It served to introduce some characters we really want to see die, and has shown just how dark some areas of this show will go with torture and treachery, and it is always interesting, but I have no idea where it is going. Roose now holds the gateway to the North with 2 large armies, so where will this go I wonder?

Oh, Stannis. Another arc I have not been following with great interest. I probably should have. I may have had some things Stannis side spoiled for me, that I won't mention here, but it could get more interesting if what I accidentally read is true :)

Ok, I have talked about arcs, but not what I expect to actually be in the final episode. My expectation is:
We will see where Arya and The Hound end up, we will find out what is going to happen to Tyrion, we will find out if The Mountain is going to survive his multiple impalings, Jon Snow will walk off, I reckon, to his doom. I expect Sam is going to vacate his nights watch position to take Gillie somewhere safer. Danerys will make another 'cameo' - only I suspect she will make a big decision to continue marching on Kings Landing so she has something to do next series other than play Slaver-Sim City. Stannis may finally start things rolling now he has funding, and we will likely be shown his path. Sansa and Peeta may make an appearance if Arya and The Hound pass through the murder gate(?) but I think the plot lines for Sansa, Roose, Stannis, Theon and Bran are wrapped up, and everyone else is just waiting for their cliffhanger to be shown. finally - The white walkers always wrap up the seasons - where are they now. (Mayhaps they will pop up behind wildling lines and start killing them all saving Jon. Who knows!)

I would summarise this series, and the theme of the whole show in the following paragraph. 

The good guys never get an easy time, the best combatants usually fuck up something leading to their end (I think Bron broke the 4th wall on that one!) the best thinkers lead the way - but are often out manoeuvred by the other thinkers. It boils down to Brawn v Brawn, Brain V Brain, a slight mingling in the middle with the thinkers manoeuvring the fighters to do their bidding and dying. The assholes seem to have a protracted shelf life, but when they meet their end, it is GLORIOUS. Sadly, some of them win us over first (I thought Oberon was a bit of an ass for most of his screen time, but a fun one). Martin also seems to have some favourites. Characters that just pop, and are awesome, or make huge advances, but its almost like he is rolling dice for the results and pulling them from some sort of Gygax table. Like >This< but for gory endings, or glamorous encounters. As the saying goes: Trust no one. Don't trust their competence, or their incompetence, their friends, family, neighbours, priests or the weather. It can all turn in an instant - and often does. 

I love this show.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Long time - no update!

It has been a while since I last updated this blog. It is not for lack of content, trust me!

I have so many things I want to blog about. I want to discuss my thoughts on The Elder Scrolls Online, I want to talk about Wildstar, DOTA, League of Legends, Hearthstone, World Of Warcraft and it's upcoming expansion, Warlords of Draenor. DayZ. Minecraft. What I am planning now I have started recording Let's plays again. So much to talk about.

Do many things I want to post about. I shall endeavour to get some more content created soon.

One thing I will note, is that I have changed the name of my YouTube channel from Velkairiwyth (Which is a bit of a silly name for visibility...) to VelkGaming, for the obvious reasons... :p

Bare with me on the updates ;-)


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Flappy Bird giveth, and the Flappy Bird Taketh Away

As you all probably know by now - the creator of Flappy Bird had the game removed from the App stores a couple of days ago. As I understand it, he was not comfortable with the hype and attention that suddenly sprung up around the game. Each to their own I guess.

One crazy thing I over heard at work yesterday though, which I just had to post about, was how many people are selling their Apple and android phones/devices on the likes of Ebay for a rediculous markup because it has Flappy Bird installed. (Linked example selling for £800 rather than the more normal £350...) It seems a little crazy. It is just a game... an addictive one maybe, but one that will undoubtedly be recreated a bajillion times - then probably improved upon.

Just my 2c


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Flappy Bird. The Avian rage inducer!

Long time no post folks... thought I would come talk a bit about...

Yes, it's that new hit sensation: Flappy Bird, also known as: Mario Bird - probably due to all the goddamn pipes!

This little game is as simple as simple gets. The graphics are cartoony and pixelated, and remind me very much of Tiny Tower, another game that can be quite addictive. This game however has a crux... it is tough as balls!

Well, actually, it is NOT hard to play, but it requires lots of concentration and any tiny mistakes result in a bird pancake and a great big GAME OVER sign in your face. I first heard about it on the 31st of January by one person raging about the difficulty of it on Facebook. The 1st of Feb seen a half a dozen more people putting up pics of their 'epic 7 point score'! and various other rants. Yes, this game can be that tough. I myself have managed to break the 40 point barrier about 4 times, with the following snap being my highest score to date...

Yeah... I think I got this score whilst sat in a gridlocked traffic jam for 30 minutes, how many times I seen this game over screen is inconceivable!
(Click it... go on, you know you want to!!)

Anyway, this game was released almost a year ago by Vietnam based developer: Nyugen Ha Dong. You control a small bird that flaps its wings with each tap, halting any descent and propelling it in a consistent and predictable arc up into the air then back down. Your task is to Oscillate this little avian clutz through a randomly  generated sequence of Mario-Pipes. Hit one and it is game over. Supposedly there are multiple levels and difficulties, but I have not seen any way to choose to change anything, and have clearly not advanced far enough through the game to unlock anything. It is challenging, it is entertaining, frustrating and is probably one of the most Viral games I have seen.

What made this go Viral? It has been around for the best part of a year now. It may seem obvious, but with the release date on the Android Apps store of the 30th of January - I think this is what got the ball rolling, and social media (Facebook and Twitter, I'm looking at you!) done the rest. It took the podium for most downloads of January 2014, surpassing any Angry Birds or Candy Crush downloads, showing just how quickly this was picked up by the general populous.

I am left wondering how long until the apocalypse occurs, with millions of players indulging in some Flappy Bird (Or 'Fappy Bird' as one infuriated friend of mine called it), and then rage quitting when they are 2 points behind their best score from  flapping into a pipe in an anxious adrenaline fuelled mis-tap. It really is that easy to screw up, it is relentless. I think this effect us surely part of the key to its addictiveness. It is really quick to play a quick game or two, it is simple (My 5 year old son was in hysterics at watching the bird hit a pipe and dive-bomb into the ground with a splat.) and you get REALLY engrossed. Your heart races, your brow sweats, and BAM, you hit the second pipe every third game...

One last thought... I wonder just how much ad-revenue this free to play game generates from that little ad-banner at the top... People dont tend to click ads, despite how safe they are... but with so many people playing, the mis-clicks alone must be worth thousands!

Ok, enough ranting for now. Go download it if you have not already, you will likely regret it, but it will be a fun ride!


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Thoughts on GTA:V Launch

I posted a few months back >here< I posted some comments on the delay of GTA:V. I made some guesses (some might say attempted predictions) as to the outcome of the delay on GTA:V on the sales numbers.

Well, the figures are in, and the figures are huge. According to The Huffington Post, the game mae over a billion dollars in sales in the first few days, the highest sales figures to date, blowing even World of Warcraft and Call of Duty: Black Op's out of the water.

GTA has always been a popular series with the gaming masses, but I am curious as to just how much having the game delayed and letting the hype build made. The local 'GAME' store here had a midnight launch for the game, and by gawd... people cued for a good hundred meters around the high street. The ultimate irony is there was a Tesco express across the road where some people just walked in after midnight and picked it up immediately. No two hours of queuing for them. Mind you, its the experience I recon people do that for. The pure nerding geekgasm of it all :p

I also noticed claims when browsing from an analyst claiming that the games sales were very front loaded, and that we can expect a sharper than normal decline in the sales figures post release. Whilst this is technically bound to be true, the more of the buying population that have it, the less there are available to purchase it, they forget one thing: New console sales in 2 months time. I don't know about you, but I held off buying in favour of buying it once for the next gen of consoles that will be launched. I done the same thing with GTA IV myself, but my consoles blu ray drive has stopped working.

Anyway, just my little waffle :-)

Long time no post.

So yeah, Aside from yesterdays little review of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, it has been quite some time since I have posted. Long story short: Uni and work and life have gotten in the way. I have not even got to play any more recent games. I am HOPING that when the next gen of consoles come out, that I will be getting my hands on GTA:V and The Last Of Us, and whilst I am at it, I will likely be doing let's plays of them if I can set up the system. Also - Avengers 2, Thor 2 - you know the shibbang. They will be getting the crap watched out of them :-) Follow follow follow if you wish to keep informed :)