Tag Archive for Gaming

It was always gonna be like this…

Hey guys,

In true Josh Barker fashion, this blog has fallen by the way side. It has severely suffered from a lack of updates.

Well no more!

I am going to try in earnest to be a lot more productive with not only this website but with my life in general! So if you see me, make sure i am doing something!

To kick off this new productivity i have here a little game review, the next in my 60s Series. I talk very quickly about Rogue Legacy. There will also be a new “60 Minutes of Starcraft” video going onto YouTube very shortly. SO check back for that.

If you want to know more about any of this, leave a comment and i’ll get back to you.

Enjoy the review.

What a Fiasco!


Well, I have decided it is time for my first written game review. I have done video 60 second reviews (here) but this tie I wanted to dedicate a little more time to it. So here goes.

In this entry I am going to review the pen and paper role playing game, ‘Fiasco’ by Jason Morningstar.

Splash and tagline for Fiasco

The tag line pretty well captures the spirit of the game.

To start off with I will define a few things for players new this area of gaming, bear with me if you know all this. A pen and paper role playing game is a game you play with friends/other people and is based around you doing a bit of acting. You design a character and then you play that role throughout the game, deciding what they would do, what equipment they might use, how they might interact with others. As you might be able to work out, role playing games (RPG’s) are pretty flexible and open. A pen and paper RPG is not played on a computer buy instead, most likely round a table with friends using pens and papers to record the action, track equipment etc. The most popular example of this is Dungeons & Dragons. Most role play games have one person running the game, a Game master or Dungeon master or something like that. They look after the world, design stories and plots for your characters to follow and conjure up enemies and problems to beat.

Personally I really like RPG’s, I find they are incredibly social, it’s a great opportunity to meet up with a group of mates and hang out for several hours. Also they have a heap more freedom then any videogame I’ve ever played, giving you a chance to get creative. So that covers the basics of RPG’s, now onto Fiasco.

Fiasco is a little different to most RPG’s in a couple of ways. First of all Fiasco doesn’t have a game master, it doesn’t have someone building the world for you and ensuring you play within the rules of the game, in fact there are very few rules indeed. Most RPG’s have a strict set of rules and mechanics to work out what happens. “So you want to break down the door? Well take your strength score, roll a dice add those together with any modifiers you have. Does your total beat the door? Yes, congrats!” This is generally how most RPG’s go, revolving round stats and dice. Fiasco is all about acting out the character. The best way to describe it is, acting out a film and that is how it is designed, with a session expected to last around 2-3 hours. “But hey! With out a Games master how do we know what to do?” I hear you cry, well have no fear. In Fiasco you work together to work out a story and through your roleplaying you make this happen. Fiasco does have a small amount of guidance though; this is part of the setup.

Fiasco Setup

During the setup for Fiasco, you work out a rough framework for your session. First thing to do is pick a setting, so Gangster London, Bible belt America, a Submarine, a Theatre, the list of free play lists is quite extensive. After that you roll a load of dice, this is to generate some random numbers. These numbers are used to start determining how the player’s characters are related, important locations, objects that might feature and characters wants and needs. These features are then used to give you some context and a framework to start on and develop through the story.


Act 1

After the setup you will have a rough idea of certain elements that will feature in the story as well as the relationships between all you characters. In the two games I have played we took a small amount of time here, to work out exactly how the story would start and some vague links between the elements. Now we are ready to start act 1.

The way fiasco plays is you take it in turns to direct a scene from the story. These scenes usually involved characters interacting and doing something, but can include monologues, just descriptions of actions or anything else that is necessary or relevant. So you describe what’s going to happen, then you and all involved parties begin acting it out. Part way through the scene your friends will decide if it’s going to end well or badly for your character, and assign you a dice (these become important later on). You go round, so that each player gets two scenes then Act 1 ends. Act 1 tends to be used to set up the action for Act 2, so coming up with plans and schemes that will almost certainly go wrong!

Poster for Fargo

Fargo is one of the films that inspired Fiasco.


The Tilt

Plans have been made, traps have been set, and relationships have been forged. All is going well until… THE TILT!

Halfway through Fiasco everything goes wrong! Just like any good film something that happens that is just not expected and chaos ensues. This is what the Tilt table is for. After act 1 you roll for 2 elements on this table, they represent some type of disaster. So someone might die, something might get set alight, an object may go missing, betrayal anything and everything could happen.  This is where it gets interesting.


Act 2

So act 2 starts up playing out very similarly to act 1. Everyone gets to participate in or direct 2 scenes each that start to resolve conflicts, action plans and generally start to conclude the story. All this has to make progress towards or resolve what happened in the tilt. Although the tilt is rolled before act 2 starts that is not necessarily when happened. This makes for interesting scenes as you work towards that goal, or try and deal with the fall out. While act 1 has the players establish a lot, act2 definitely sees lots of resolution. It all changes slightly in act 2 as the player gets to decide the outcome of their characters scene. So you may opt to negate the outcomes you received in the first act or concentrate on maxing out positive or negative for an exciting ending. Action will ramp up, characters motives and schemes will unravel as things go wrong, but what will happen in the aftermath!



The aftermath is when you find out what happened. You take the outcomes you have been assigned (dice) and you roll them on the aftermath table to see well or badly your character overall. So you roll positive against negative, work out the difference and that gives you an outcome, ranging from “The worst thing in the world” to “Fan-F***ing-tastic!!!” You then take a few short sentences to deliver the films closing montage of your character. These can often be tragic spirals of depression of glorious rises to fame, or just mediocre existence, but are inevitably a good giggle.



And with that…you have your Fiasco! Around 3 hours from top to tail, of story and role play driven fun.

I was originally introduced to Fiasco via Will Wheaton’s “Tabletop” Youtube series and was instantly intrigued. I promptly picked up a copy and do not regret it at all.

'Tabletop' logo

Fantastic webseries by Will Wheaton, him and various people play games.

So far I have played in two Fiascos, and they were both wildly different. The first was set in a Titanic-esque setting aboard a transatlantic cruise ship the and in the other we were part of a small time theatre group. The cruise was full of lies, gangsters, betrayal and death, whereas the theatre was a den of debauchery, filth, one-upmanship and snakes! Both were incredible fun reducing all those involved into fits of giggles, toe curling awkwardness and heartbroken tragedy as the exploits of our characters unfolded.


Final Thoughts

I must say so far I have been thoroughly impressed. Fiasco requires zero preparation time and the equipment list is 4 dice per player, some paper, a pen or 2 and access to a playset (I printed these but you could read them from a screen, you only need them for setup). I got hold of Fiasco to help me develop my story telling ability, I have always found ‘setting the scene’ difficult when I have played in previous RPG’s and this has really given me a chance to practice and hone this skill (purely because that’s pretty much the entire  game). It does away with complex rules, there are no mechanics to look up or remember. I even feel you could probably do away with the dice altogether if you really wanted, although I like the semi randomness, the dice force a narrowing of the options available, so you have to work with what you get.

I would very strongly recommend this anyone who enjoys role playing, especially if you prefer the role play bits to the dice rolling bits. This is purely written as a one shot system which means each session and story is separate, that being said, I guess you could do a couple of sequels if you so desired.

So, it’s a brilliant game, super simple to pick up and endless replay ability due to randomness of dice and a multitude of free playsets. Pick a copy of this up, you will not regret it. Keep it in your bag and that one day a player doesn’t turn up, throw it on the table, and roll up a one shot.

Buy it here!


Tabletop Fiasco Videos:

-Setup: here

-Act 1: here

-Act 2: here

List of all the current Fiasco playlists: here

Paradigm Shift

As many of you are probably aware, I love playing games. I think that is one of my main characteristics. I have always enjoyed games and always seek out new ones and a chance to play them. I don’t particularly have a favourite type, i will play anything from video games to board games and of any genre, racing, strategy, first person shooters and more. Yes obviously I have favourites…but in general I’ll play most things.

I have played games much the same way since I was younger but just recently there has been a change in my game playing habits. I’m going to have a look at that and why that has happened.

Way back at the beginning  I had a NES and a SNES and I loved them and it was great. I will never forget leaving my SNES on for over 24 hours just so I could complete Super Star Wars as it had no save system. Back in those days I had a real passion for platformers and puzzle solvers, playing Lemmings, Earthworm Jim, Star Wars, Puzzle Bobble and the like. I also dabbled with RPG’s which is started to develop a taste for. As time went on new systems were introduced, we got a family PC and my sister received a PlayStation One for Christmas (I was so shocked and disappointed that it was hers, not ours or mine. She didn’t even really play games). With the new technology came new games, I moved on. I discovered the wonderful world of strategy games on the PC, not before a stop off at the Magic School Bus ;-), platformers and RPG’s stayed constant with me eventually acquiring Final Fantasy VII for the PS (this remains one of my favourite all time games.). This was the time that I shifted well and truly into games.

Image from Final Fantasy VII

My favourite RPG of all time. Got me well and truly into the Genre

I enjoyed games, I liked the story telling, the mechanics. I revelled in solving problems, figuring out quests and beating my opponents. This stuck with me as I grew up, I never moved on. I played games with friends or I played games on my own, I didn’t care as long as I was playing. The next major stage was the acquisition of my PlayStation 2, on release day. Although I didn’t really use it till about a year after, the launch titles didn’t excite me. I don’t want to think about the countless hours I have ploughed into the box of electronics. It was an exciting time for games with a lot of them coming out and I played as many as possible, I still played my usual sample but also branched out into the racing and sports genre, as they had good multiplayer potential and a lot of my friends played them.

All the time I played games on the family computer, highlights include Age of Empires, Medieval: Total War, Machines, SimCity and Total Annihilation. I found myself using the PC purely for strategy and simulation games (that’s a lie i played Turok as well). I even managed to rope my family at times. I was furious that my dad worked out the secret to a successful SimCity 2000 city before i did!

This structure stayed the same until recently, Strategy and Sims on the PC/Laptop and all others on the Console PS2/PS3. I always preferred the controller for things like FPS games and the like (I know shoot me, but that was my opinion.)

This all changed in September of 2011, I graduated from University and decided to reward myself with the purchase of a proper Gaming PC, I had never had one of those, making do with a cheap laptop throughout Uni (I always attempted to optimise my game playing potential when picking a computer though). My new PC was fantastic! I could play anything, all the PC games my laptop couldn’t run now became available, services like Steam made it easy to get hold of them and I played furiously! I would even go so far to say that i had too much, every waking moment I was playing stuff and to this day my console has fallen by the way side. Although this may be some sub concious value for money thing.

This was spectacular for the first few months. Games like Skyrim, Civilisation V, Shogun 2: Total War absorbed as much time as i could spare, and then something changed.

I tried League of Legends…

League of Legends

A group of my friends had discovered it, this game is a DOTA clone, it’s a copy of an old mod for Warcraft 3. Essentially you and your team select a hero each and you do battle in an arena with another team, first team to kill the other teams base wins. No story progression, not complex puzzles to solve, no grand strategy (people with argue with me on this) just you 4 other people manipulating your champions and their abilities to best the other team. Of course there is strategy, what stat augmenting items do you buy, when do you engage, which heroes make a balanced team but you aren’t trying to design a transport network or plan a countries military strategy.

Usually this game would not interest me, perhaps hold my attention for a week or so but in the last 8 months or so i have logged more than 685 hours of gameplay, that’s 20 hours a week! So what has lured me into spending to much time playing this game.

Well having I think about it and looking at my normal game playing habits, it’s the social aspect. Whenever I am playing League of Legends I am on Skype to at least one other friend, usually 2 or 3. This is the really appealing aspect. We can chat about work, things in the news, recent games tournaments results all while playing my game. It’s like going out for a drink, well without the face to face bit or the alcohol but you get the idea. No longer is it just me and the computer. Gamers have an unfair stereotype that they are all unsocial, live in basements and just eat pizza, but that’s completely untrue in this day and age. I spend several hours each night on Skype to at least 2 or 3 friends…if I don’t it’s usually because I’ve gone out to see other friends. I think that is far from unsocial, and this has what has hooked me, I like talking to people and I like games and I can combine this. I think this is why I have recently got back into board games.

This is obviously not just applicable to League of Legends, I do the same thing when I play Team Fortress 2, Starcraft 2, DOTA 2 and so on. It’s not a new thing either, communicating while gaming has been around for an age! BUT, it’s the first time I really have done it.

This has now affected my other game playing habits, i now find it really difficult to play single player games on my own. Just doesn’t feel right, I recently played Bastion (60s Review coming very soon) and I played through it all while having a conversation with a special lady via Skype. Not sure if I would have stuck with it  if I’d have been on my own.

This has been a big revelation to me, it’s why over the last few months i’ve tried several free to play MMO’s with my Friend Fred (go read his blog!) because we can sit and chat on Skype while playing games.

I still play single player games, don’t get me wrong but I have now moved to a stage where playing with other people makes a game more appealing. These is a possibility that now I’m older I am finding the single player experience less rewarding, so I am looking for something else to add to a game, it will be interesting as a couple of big games are coming out in the next year or so, and these don’t look to include much time for Skype based multiplayer, so I will be interested to see how much time I plough into them.


So there we go, i’m playing much more social games now. You should totally join me, we can chat and game and stuff. Just get in contact and we’ll play together. Also if you are interested in League of Legends (and you should be it’s a great game to play with friends) then let me know before hand, I can send you an account invite, we both get some goodies :) SO e-mail me or leave a comment and I’ll sort that. Let me know about your gaming habits, would be interesting to see if anyone else has had a similar experience, or even gone the other way.

Happy Gaming.

PrE3! Pre-E3, Clever? no? ahhhh leave it…

Well to quote Andy Williams, It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No folks it isn’t Christmas, but E3 2012!!! Hoorah! The Electronic Entertainment Expo is a big date on the calendar of gamers. With it potentially being the date that a lot of exciting gaming news is released. This annual trade fair has seen huge announcements in the past from consoles being debuted, the Play Station 3, to long awaited sequels and reboots being announced, Castlevania and God of War, and even the revelation of exciting new peripherals, Microsoft’s Kinect and Wii Balance Board. And these announcements were just in the last couple of years.

Shot of the front of the E3 expo

E3 has a long pedigree of being the go to place for big games announcements. That being said the reverency of this trade fair has waned slightly over more recent times. This was due to a decision to move to invite-only during 2007 and 2008. This meant the public could only watch from afar, this pushed publishers to use the other games fairs to show off their new products. That being said E3 is still considered one of the best and still attracts the big announcements.

With these big announcements being made you can start to see why Gamers like myself get quite excited around this time of the year. As such i will be watching the press conferences with baited breath… interestingly you can follow along here by either clicking this link: http://revjb.co.uk/e3-liveblog/ or by clicking the “Liveblog” Menu button…but that’s all the way at the top of the page, so i recommend the link.

I also though i would put some of my hopes for E3 2012 up here for you guys to look at and discuss. So here we go!


E3 2012 Predictions

So i’m going to discuss some of my ideas and predictions for this years E3, some of them i have thought about and i think are serious, others have been mad flashes of inspiration so enjoy.



Well Microsoft are starting the show (5:30pm Monday 4 June) so i guess it is only fair to begin my predictions with them.

Xbox 360 Logo

If i’m honest Microsoft has been the company that i have thought the least about in the run up to this years E3 this being said i have a few ideas. First of all it’s worth noting that Microsoft have come out and flat out said that there will be no announcement of a new console this year. So the XBOX 720 Next  3 looks unlikely, i guess there is always the small chance they were lying but i doubt that. Which means they are going to be focussing on their current console with them having no handheld to flog. Microsoft have always been about integrating the XBOX into the living room. Last year saw integration with Twitter and ESPN this added to their compatibility with Netflix meaning that not only can you use the console for games but films, sports TV and social networking. I think this is a really good focus and will draw people in, i can’t wait for the day when i have one box that does everything, it will make things so simple (People will argue for the PC at this point, but shhhh!). I feel that this culmination of “things you do” will continue to be pulled into the XBOX increasing it’s status as the hub of your living room. Quite how they will do this i am not sure, maybe more partnerships will be announced. I certainly see a big push on streaming media as well, it can already stream films and you can download games and this functionality will only be increased and improved, the age of physical media is on the way out and adaptation is important to stay relevant.

Regarding games, we will certainly see more of Halo 4, Gears of War maybe a new Fable and a raft of new Sports games but not being an XBOX gamer myself i won’t attempt to tell the XBOXer’s what they should be excited about.

Another announcement i wouldn’t be surprised with would be the revelation of Kinect 2. This piece of hardware was something quite revolutionary on release and it still receives a lot of attention, but there are products that are beginning to compete so an update could well and truly be on the cards.



Sony are next up! Now i am a Playstation child so i’m quite excited about this conference, but i will do my best to try and avoid Bias.

Sony Ps3 Logo

Once again just like Microsoft, Sony have stated there will be no next-gen playstation at E3, again i guess they could be lying but let’s not go there. So with no new console improvements may be announced for either the PS3 of the PS Vita, Sony’s handheld device. I think we may see a Vita price drop, it seems to be at that point in the product lifecycle, try and capitalise on a less than stellar performance of the 3DS but i can’t see any major changes coming in for the Vita. Regarding the Playstation 3, well this is a difficult choice, it’s starting to feel like it has been round forever, Microsoft keep updating the XBOX with bigger storage and other minor changes, but this helps keep it fresh. The Playstation hasn’t really had this, there was a form factor change but not much else. There have been renders recently of the Playstation 4/Orbis so maybe another change in form is coming. One crazy idea i had was fuelled by the rumours of there being a “Steambox” console made by Valve. Well Sony partnered with Steam to bring it to the PS3, and this has been used very little. So what if we get a Sony/Valve joint console, that can play PS3 games and download PC games from your Steam account! Crazy yes, but it would spread Gabe Newell’s Empire, it would mean some of the money could come from Valve rather than cash starved Sony and in the age of the All-in-one solution could be a bold step forward…who knows. Just remember you heard it here first!

With games we will no doubt see another raft of amazing sequels. Metal Gear Solid, God of War, LittleBigPlanet and Something awesome from Naughty Dog. Although a lot of these have been announced already which is great to build buzz but it means E3 runs the risk of just being one big trail rerun. I’m holding out for some exciting new IP’s. We will no doubt see some more from the Playstation Move although apart from a slew of new games i think that will stay quiet on the hardware front.

Again we could see some improvements to the Playstation Network which has (and will) always play second fiddle to Microsoft’s XBOX Live. I think it’s likely we will see similar directions from Sony with a push on integration and streaming coming in. Maybe this year we will see Television receivers in them, partnerships with SKY or something, who knows.


And that leaves us with Nintendo. Nintendo are interesting, they either announce something that is amazing and sells a million billion copies (Nintendo Wii) or they announce something and everyone goes “Wha????” and it disappears into obscurity (Wii Vitality sensor). Although i am lead to believe the Vitality sensor is being fine-tuned in development.

Ninetendo Wii Logo

Either way Nintendo have the potential to be the most interesting and the most surprising. That was until they released a load of information about the Wii U (their new console) in a Pre-E3 event. Overall the Wii U looks a little disappointing, with reports it’s just about up to current generation speeds while we are on the cusp of having a new generation announced. Saying that the Wii was considered technologically underwhelming and that sold like figurative ‘Hot Cakes’. So the verdict is still out on that one. Personally i think it will struggle, the Wii did so well because it appealed to everyone, it was and still is a fantastic family party game and has some brilliant games for the casual gamer and even has a few titles ‘hardcore’ gamers can enjoy. It was pitched at a perfect price and as such it worked. The Wii U, well i don’t think it can capture the market in the same way, but i may be surprised.

Games wise, we will see sequels for Mario and Zelda almost certainly for the new console. What will be interesting is if they announce much for the Wii itself or if they get right behind the Wii U. The same can be said for the DSi and the 3DS as i am aware of a couple of games that are being released on the DSi but not the 3DS. Nintendo often get badly credited with being predictable and not doing new things, but i am sure they will announce at least a handful of new games focussing on using the various pieces of technology they have at their disposal and i could actually see them announce more new IP’s than Sony and Microsoft.


In conclusion i think E3 this year has a couple of paths it could follow. We will see lot of games, but whether these games are new brands or direct sequels is still up in the air. There will be a lot of sequels, there always are but i would like to see a few attempts at new concepts and games, endless sequels tend to drag a bit and personally i think a trilogy is long enough, except for a few exceptions. That being said i am sure i will be quite excited about a couple of the sequels announced and as long as the game is good, i don’t care.

Hardware wise, we will either see a small amount or loads! We are definitely getting a new Nintendo console, what Microsoft and Sony decide to do is a mystery but i think if one does something the other will as well. With that in mind, i think any new hardware announced by these two will really need to add something, either as a concept to test or to push the market somewhere, i think that will be towards streaming.

As a generic rule we will see:

2 x Annoying presenters over the course of the live keynotes

4 x Botched demos

5 x Jokes fall completely flat

6 x Celebrities bought on to help publicise a game

1 x Completely inappropriate reference

Thanks for reading, i know it was a long one. Feel free to leave some comments below, tell me i’m wrong, have i missed something, are my ideas bang on the money, are you disappointed there won’t be donkeys. And tune into the live blog! comment on that, Tweet me during the conference etc. Also if you are reading this after E3 has happened let me know your reactions what you like/didn’t like.

A picture of a Donkey, that you won't see at this years E3

This is the donkey that won't be at E3!

Cheers Guys, Happy Gaming!