Editorial: July 2019

Welcome to July’s editorial post, a monthly progress report which rounds-up all the happenings here at Later Levels along with the games we’ve been playing. With our plans for GameBlast20 along with a trip to the London Gaming Market, let’s look at recent events.

Statistics:

Followers:

  • WordPress: 1,074
  • Twitter: 506
  • Facebook: 60
  • Instagram: 169
  • Twitch: 71
  • Posts:

  • Published: 14 posts
  • Most viewed: Essex: birth place of the MMORPG
  • Most liked: Blogging negativity: is my anger holding me back?
  • Most commented on: Casual, hardcore and everything in between
  • My favourite: Game passes: unexpected item in the bagging area
  • Games played:

  • A Plague Tale: Innocence (videos)
  • Alt-Frequencies (review / video)
  • The Darkside Detective (videos)
  • The Elder Scrolls Online
  • Theropods demo (video)
  • Your Future Self (videos)
  • Blogger highlights:

  • On Single Player Games by Shane from For The Sake Of Gaming
  • Underrated Ladies! by LightningEllen from Livid Lightning
  • Games of My Life: The Lawnmower Man from Mid-Life Geek Gamer
  • The Ultimate Game: dev team by Musings of a nitpicking girl
  • Music to carry the grind by Dale from UnCapt
  • Blog life:

    It’s that time of year again: prepare yourself for Blogger Blitz! A group of awesome creators and their favourite video game characters are battling it out in a series of wacky challenges set by Ian from Adventure Rules, and a team of just-as-awesome judges will be crowning a worthy winner. Chris from OverThinker Y and I have taken part in the past two events but this year we’re combing our powers to bring you something different. Check out our first competition commentary posts to catch up on what you’ve missed.

    Continuing the collaboration theme, a few other projects kicked off in July. I’m working on something special with Luke from Hundstrasse which will involve us being ‘away from keyboard’ (a small clue there). For GameBlast20, my other-half and I will be challenging ourselves to stream video games for at least an hour for 50-days straight from 05 January 2020. And starting from 01 August 2019, Phil and I will be taking part in this year’s Blaugust blogging festival and trying to publish a post every single day for a month.

    Real life:

    After having to work a long notice period, I finally moved into my new role at the beginning of July. I’m enjoying it as it’s more technical than my previous IT career although I’m at ‘the bottom of the mountain’s and there’s so much I need to learn. Every evening I’m arriving home exhausted after trying to cram as much knowledge into my head as possible, and sadly that’s leaving little time for video games and blogging right now so I haven’t been on the scene much recently.

    I don’t regret it for a second though and changing career was the thing to do. The lack of spare time has just made me realise I need to focus on the positives around me and do the things I enjoy when I do have a free hour. Fortunately our garden renovations are nearing completion so we’ll get to enjoy a few barbecues and being outside for at least part of this summer, and next month there’s a trip to Bristol lined up so we can visit Tim and Jake from GeekOut UK to play games over a beer or two.

    Gaming life:

    After buying a PlayStation 2 in the London Gaming Market in March, we went back to the July event to pick up some more games for the console. My favourite purchase of the day was Herdy Gerdy – I think I’m one of the only people who actually enjoyed this 2002 release and I’ll be doing a stream of it soon to relive the nostalgia! I also managed to find copies of Syberia and Syberia II to sate my point-and-click obsession, and Tetris Worlds could be a good one for GameBlast20 thanks to its split-screen functionality.

    As for digital releases, I also purchased a few new games during the Steam summer sale – although I’ve managed to complete most of them already and am once again searching for new titles to play. The highlight was A Plague Tale: Innocence and despite not being overly keen on the ending, I’d love to see a sequel one day. If you’re looking for something shorter and have 90 minutes to spare, I’d recommend checking out Alt-Frequencies. The storyline feels a little rushed but the concept is definitely an interesting one.

    Coming up:

    Events:

  • 01-31 August: Blaugust 2019
  • 10 August: Beyond Good & Evil stream
  • 14 August: The Game Room World Tour
  • 19 August: Detroit: Become Human stream
  • 20-24 August: gamescom
  • 23-26 August: Insomnia65
  • Take a look at the Side-quests page page for more
  • New posts:

  • What do you do when you get gamers’ block?
  • Child’s play: gaming with your kids
  • The depiction of trust in the Team Ico games
  • Do you replay titles immediately after completion?
  • When moves are misused in RPGs
  • And now over to you guys: what have you been up to lately, and what have you got planned for the coming month? Is there anything the community can help with or get involved in? Let everybody know in the comments below so we can show our support. Thanks for reading!

    Big-Up the Blitz: episode 2-and-a-bit

    Welcome back! Presumably you’ve just changed channels after watching the first half of the second episode of our unofficial commentary couch for 2019’s Blogger Blitz, but if not then please go and check that out now, because second halves don’t make much sense if you’ve not seen the first!

    Chris: Event number three sees Lightning take on Persona 5’s Morgana in Hectic Hiking, a challenge for the competitors to turn a disastrous expedition in the woods into a great day out for themselves and their Ship. This one strikes me as being open to a lot of different approaches: we could see them using their own sheer force of personality to cheer up their partners or drawing on all sorts of equipment or skills to develop fun activities! It feels like this one’s very open to interpretation, so we could see a really fun difference of styles here.
    Kim: The thing that everyone is going to be looking for is Livid Lightning’s awesome LightningEllen’s take on the subject. As the winner of the first Blogger Blitz in 2017 and a competitor again last year, her previous experience is going to be invaluable and she can make a good guess as to what will stand out for the judges. It’s added pressure for Winst0lf’s Portal’s excellent Winst0lf – but if he can beat Ellen in the first round, that will position him as an extremely strong competitor for the rest of the competition.
    Chris: Indeed – my friend the Bizzaro Mage is in the interesting position of having his first match against a known contender and one who’ll be perhaps a favourite to do well. If he can pull something out of the bag here, that’ll be a big confidence boost and put eyes on him as a strong competitor going into the next round!
    Kim: Can you see either character as having the upper hand in this match?
    Chris: I don’t know all that much about Winst0lf’s pair, but I don’t think this match is one that bestows an advantage either way. It’s so open that I think any pair, in the hands of a creative competitor like both of these are, could excel.
    Kim: I think that’s like most of BB this year so far: right now, it’s anybody’s game!
    Chris: Exactly! There’s really very little point at this stage trying to predict who’ll come through. There are so many factors at work, and every entry is always deserving of victory, and it’s often the smallest and most unexpected things that end up resolving what’s always a very hard decision for the judges.
    Kim: Finally we have Wacky Wedding, which will see Itsuki Aoi and Mortimer Goth battle it out to save a wedding from a freak storm after being invited to the event as their Ships’ plus-ones. This is another round where the competitors have chosen characters I’m not very familiar with – how do you think Pix 1001 from Shoot the Rookie and Alex Sigsworth from the Purple Prose Mage will do when it comes to making sure inexperienced readers are brought up to speed?
    Chris: I think once again creativity is the name of the game! The problem to solve here is how to save the wedding in the face of freak weather conditions, which might involve tackling the storm itself or might end up being an alternative: escape or some other solution. Whatever our competitors choose to do, they’ll just need to make sure they explain really clearly why their characters are well suited to this. Examples of when they’ve previously used the abilities, skills, knowledge, or equipment they’re relying on here will be helpful to show that their solution is a viable one! What would Guybrush do?
    Kim: This is Guybrush we’re talking about, so… probably make things worse! Pull out a monkey wrench, cover all the guests in root beer, then make a few sarcastic comments before suggesting the event is moved to the Scumm Bar? Now that’s a wedding I’d like to go to.
    Chris: Now, of course, Pix is a good friend of mine and we know she can write creative descriptions of characters doing things from the High Score Haute Couture events she and I have done together. As for Mr Sigsworth, we know from his appearance in last year’s Blitz that he’s extremely smart and detail-oriented, so I’m expecting to see some smart application of a specific skill of his characters’ that will let him make a good, strong argument.
    Kim: Any final thoughts, Chris?
    Chris: I think yet again this will come down to the wire and be decided by the tiniest thing: I also think, when we come back to do our next show (which will be after these four matches and before the two semi-final matches in the second round), we’ll have a lot to discuss about how the judges’ dynamic has worked and how that’s informed the results.
    Kim: Well we won’t want to wait long to find out, because the fun starts today when Around The Bonfire and FlameFlash tackle the first match. I can feel the anticipation building already.
    Chris: Holy heck, Kim. We’re in for a treat, that’s for sure!
    Kim: Stay tuned, fight fans, and we’ll see you after 23 August 2019 once the final round one results have been revealed for some more hot commentary action!

    WordPress wonders: my favourite blogging people

    Tomorrow is International Friendship Day. To kick off celebrations, I shared some of my favourite video game buddies: these characters are there for each other no matter what and whether it’s deadly curses or scary monsters, the protagonist never has to face danger alone.

    But it’s not just video game characters who need friends. They’re important in real life too; they’re the people who pick you up when you’re feeling low, give you advice when you’re not sure what to do, and tell you you’re being an idiot when you need a good kick up the butt. I’ve made a number of friends here in the WordPress community over the past few years and they’ve taught me so much, both about myself and blogging. Here’s a shoutout to some of my favourite people to thank them for being so awesome.

    ❤   Ian from Adventure Rules

    Ian is such a positive person and he always has words of encouragement for anyone who’s struggling. He also puts an awful lot of effort and hard work into bringing the community together through events like Blogger Blitz. The first match of this year’s event starts today and you can find out more about it here.

    ❤   Athena from AmbiGaming

    Here is one intelligent lady. She knows her stuff when it comes to both life and video games, and I love the way her posts are always carefully constructed: Athena explains both sides to an argument and in a way that everyone can understand. You’re bound to learn something new every time you visit her site.

    ❤   Tim from GeekOut UK

    Tim was one of the first people from the blogging community I met in real life, and six years on he’s still a very good friend I talk to regularly. We visit each other in London or Bristol several times a year – and each trip usually ends up with food, games and a few beers. Be sure to check out the meetup group if you’re in the Bristol area.

    ❤   Luke from Hundstrasse

    I met Luke for the first time at Rezzed last year and he’s just as awesome in person as he is on his blog. He’s been so supportive of all our charitable efforts for SpecialEffect and has kept us company during every GameBlast event. He also has a fondness for Resident Evil, haikus and octopus emoji.

    ❤   LightningEllen from Livid Lightning

    I had the opportunity to get to know Ellen on a more personal level this year and she’s such a lovely person. Her sense of humour is very dry with a dash of sarcasm occasionally thrown in – I’m sure she should have been British! Most people within the blogging community will already know her, because she’s so supportive.

    ❤   Jonez from NekoJonez’s Gaming Blog

    Jonez and I have one major thing in common: our love for adventure games and cats! He was very supportive when one of our cats passed away earlier this year and would send me messages in the morning to see how I was doing. It’s lovely to see him very happy right now and I wish him all the best for the future.

    ❤   Dan from nowisgames.com

    Conversations with Dan are always interesting, whether they’re about video games or anything else, because he can see both sides to a story and will challenge you to really think about your opinion. He gave me a lot of help when I was looking for a career change this year and I can’t thank him enough for that.

    ❤   Chris from OverThinker Y

    I really do love having chats with Chris. They’re not only intelligent discussions, but they usually tend to go off at a random tangent and become filled with GIFs. We have a plan for world domination that we haven’t yet kicked off because we’ve both been busy, but one day there’ll be an epic collaboration from us – watch this space.

    ❤   Teri Mae from Sheikah Plate

    She cooks, she plays video games and she’s just an all-round great person. I wish Teri Mae and I lived closer (even in the same country would be good) because it’s likely we’d end up being best friends. Our conversations cover a lot of topics, from gaming all the way to politics, and she’s one of the kindest bloggers you’ll ever meet.

    ❤   Katie from The Gaming Diaries

    I love this girl! We started talking regularly earlier this year and now end up chatting several times a week, so I’ve had an opportunity to get to find out just how lovely Katie is. Hopefully one day we can arrange for her to come down to London for an expo or convention, so we can finally have the chance to meet up in real life.

    ❤   Kevin from The Mental Attic

    Kevin answered loads of questions I had shortly before a job interview in April and he took the time to explain technical stuff to me – I can’t thank him enough because this really helped. You can catch him and the others taking part in his latest D&D campaign on Twitch, and I’m excited about joining his next one starting in August.

    ❤   Niki from TriformTrinity

    I got the chance to meet this man in real life last month and he’s so much fun! I can’t believe just how much knowledge he’s able to retain in his head on all sorts of subjects, from gaming to films to culture and more. Niki is planning to be over in London again soon so we’ll be able to hang out again, and I’m really looking forward to it.

    There are so many great people within the WordPress community and I wish I had a blog post long enough to mention you all. Have a lovely International Friendship Day tomorrow and keep being awesome.

    Best of friends: video game buddies

    Next Tuesday is International Friendship Day. It’s a time for celebrating the positive effect your friends have had on your life and showing your appreciation, as well as participating in activities which bring people from different backgrounds together.

    Good pals are just as important in video games as they are in real life. When you consider all the situations that could be thrown at a protagonist – armed enemies, deadly curses, scary monsters and more – it makes sense they’d want someone along for the ride who’s got be their back. So in honour of the event, I’ve put together a list of some my favourite friendly people. These guys are always there for each other through whatever digital dangers thrown at them.

    Ben and Dan from the Ben There, Dan That series

    Ben There Dan That, video game, Ben, Dan, home, sofa, living room, television, aerialYou know there’s always that one friend who’s completely on the same level as you? One who knows what you’re thinking, can finish your sentences and snorts at your crude jokes? Well that’s Ben and Dan. Whether they’re attempting to fix a broken television antenna so they can watch Magnum, P.I. or interrupting their time-travelling future selves in achieving world domination, you can guarantee they’re having a laugh while doing it. You get the feeling that they’re still going to be the best of friends and causing mayhem well into old age.

    Ico and Yorda from ICO

    There may not be anything romantic about this couple but it’s definitely a friendship built on trust – a theme throughout Team Ico’s releases (a subject for a future blog post perhaps). Although the game may start with Ico saving Yorda from a cage and leading her by the hand through a huge castle overrun with shadowy spirits, by the end it’s clear he needs her just as much. That moment after defeating the evil queen when the princess says goodbye to her friend is almost heartbreaking, and it makes their reunion scene after the credits even more uplifting. What does the future hold for them?



    Commander Shepard and Garrus from the Mass Effect series

    Mass Effect, Mass Effect 3, video game, men, Commander Shepard, Garrus, alienFriends should be there for you no matter what and this is proven by the undying loyalty between Commander Shepard and Garrus. From saving the world from an evil alien invasion to uncovering the secrets behind the fabric of our existence, whatever is thrown at them brings these two even closer. They tend us that true friendship doesn’t look at sex, race, species or any other differences – all that matters is that you’ve got someone you trust completely. As the Commander says: ‘There’s no Shepard without Vakarian.’



    The stranger and Atrus from the Myst series

    This pairing may be the most unlikely on today’s list considering they’re literally worlds apart, but the friendship between them has lasted through the years. Atrus calls on his pal’s assistance regularly, telling them things he’d confide in nobody else, and the stranger has answered every call. In return Atrus has given them the opportunity to expand their horizons and experience amazing adventures through beautiful worlds. They may have had to deal with some wicked family members along the way but not even time can break this bond.



    Sam and Max from the Sam & Max series

    Sam & Max, Hit the Road, rabbit, dog, detectives, Sam, MaxIn some ways these two couldn’t be more different. Sam is a verbose anthropomorphic dog who stays calm in most situations and rarely loses his temper. Max on the other hand is a ‘hyperkinetic rabbity thing’ who’s impulsive and indulgent, and loves nothing more to solve any problem in front of him with violence. They may be like chalk and cheese in terms of their personalities, but when they come together they form one of the best crime-fighting teams either – along with one of the strongest friendships we’ve ever seen in video games.

    Mae and the rest of the gang from Night in the Woods

    Mae, Bea, Gregg and Angus may have had their falling-outs over the years but regardless of what happens, they’re always there for each other. Whether it’s rescuing their town from some creepy cult dudes who sacrifice people to a god-like entity or helping someone who’s going through some mental health issues, they always support their friends. I particularly love the relationship between Mae and Gregg: they remind us how good it feels to get up to some mischief with your best mate and just be silly for a while.



    That’s not all you’re getting for International Friendship Day because there’s another post coming next week! While you’re waiting, share the love by telling everybody about your own favourite video game duos in the comments below.

    London Gaming Market July 2019: a round-up

    The London Gaming Market takes place every four months at the Royal National Hotel in Russell Square, London. With a hall full of stalls selling hardware, games, artwork and other gaming merchandise, it’s a great way to add to your physical collection for older consoles and PCs.

    At the last event in March, I came away with a PlayStation 2 after the hunt for my other-half’s original machine in our loft earlier this year proved unsuccessful. I also picked up a couple of titles: Fahrenheit (because playing it on PC now just doesn’t feel right) and ICO. As Pete had never played the latter before, we finally got around to streaming it a few weeks ago; and you can read all about his reaction to the game, along with my thoughts on how the Team Ico releases handle the theme of trust, in a post coming next month.

    We returned to the London Gaming Market last weekend with a view to buying more titles for the console and didn’t do badly at all. First was Herdy Gerdy, a puzzler that didn’t receive great reviews at the time of its release in February 2002 but I really liked. Then there was Beyond Good & Evil, because I just can’t seem to get my PC copy to work. Next we found Syberia and Syberia II, games which I’ll no doubt end up streaming in the near future. And finally we decided on Tetris Worlds, because the split-screen element could be perfect for GameBlast20.

    The other title that caught my eye was Lemmings. I’ve had copies of this game for multiple platforms over the years but don’t recall ever completing it, so the thought of trying again got me excited. The box I found however was special because it was still in its cellophane wrap and had never been opened. While I wad tempted, it didn’t seem right depriving a collector of an item like that; so I slowly backed away from the stall and vowed to order a physical copy online that I could actually play. Watch this space!

    My stepson had been saving his pocket-money since our last trip so he entered the market with a 12-year old’s desire to spend as much of it as possible. Two more Funko Pop! Vinyl figures now means he’s only three away from completing his entire Fallout 4 set so I expect his obsession won’t end until he gets his hands on them. He also decided to buy himself a green Game Boy along with Super Mario, Double Dragon and James Bond 007, so that will see him through the upcoming summer holidays.

    Did you go to the London Gaming Market? If so, what did you find there? Sadly we won’t be able to make the next event on 03 November 2019 because it clashes with AdventureX, but we’ll be back at the first market of 2020!

    London Gaming Market July 2019 photo gallery

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    Big-Up the Blitz: episode 1

    Friends, countrypeople and bloggers of all ages, welcome to the best unofficial by-bloggers-for-bloggers Blogger Blitz commentary show on the Internet! It’s that time of year again: when Adventure Rules brings together the community in the most awesome of ways to showcase friendship and the love of all things gaming.

    Kim: The next several weeks will see a group of amazing bloggers battle it out in a series of epic contests with the support of their favourite video game characters, to see who’ll come out on top. Their efforts will be judged by a separate group of just-as-amazing content creators – get excited, fight fans!
    Chris: We’re your hosts: this is Kim from Later Levels, the most supportive person you’re ever likely to meet, a helping hand and listening ear to anyone who needs her, and a darn insightful blogger to boot!
    Kim: Aw he’s much too kind! This is Chris from OverThinker Y, talented blogger and musical extraordinaire. He plays video games, can hold an intelligent conversation, and has fabulous style – what more could you want in a blogging partner-in-crime?
    Chris: Both of us have been involved in both previous Blogger Blitz events: in the first in 2017, I took part in my first bloggomunity event as a judge, and I got to know a whole lot of really awesome people for the first time. Then for 2018’s villain-focused Black Sheep, I made it as far as the semi-final with my champion Master Xehanort, which gave me the opportunity to do some really dumb stuff like making an entire PowerPoint in character.
    Kim: I participated in the first Blogger Blitz with the mighty Guybrush Threepwood and a sea-shanty, but we were thwarted in the first round by that dastardly Luke from Hundstrasse and Claire Redfield *shakes fist*. The following year I took part in the event as a judge – so Chris and I swapped roles! This year it’s time to join forces as we guide you through the awesomeness that is Blogger Blitz.
    Chris: That’s right, Blitz fans: neither of us was able to be a full-time competitor or judge this year, but we’ve decided to make our own roles instead and host this new spin-off commentary show!

    Kim: Holy jumping mother o’ god in a side-car with chocolate jimmies and a lobster bib! So what’s happening this time around, Chris?
    Chris: So far we’ve had a free-for-all welcome-all-comers extravaganza and a baddie-focused bonanza, and this year also has a unique theme: for the first time, competitors aren’t just picking one character but two and the goal is to show they have the strongest bond of all. How do you think this’ll shake up the format, Kim?
    Kim: This is a game of level-ups and explosions! On one hand the competitors may benefit from having multiple characters, as it gives them access to a wider range of experience. But instead of needing in-depth knowledge of just one protagonist, they’ll now need to intimately know two; and can they make effectively show the strength of their relationship in some wacky situations?
    Chris: That’ll be the X-factor: partnerships mean potential, but it also means twice the effort to manage two characters and the dynamic between them. Of course, the other big question is: who’d be your pick if you were a competitor this year? I was thinking about this and I think I’d go for either a villainous pair like Wario and Waluigi or perhaps a team with a bit of a rivalry like Squall and Seifer.
    Kim: It’s certainly a tough call… most readers will expect me to go for Guybrush but after letting me down obviously, I think the wannabe pirate needs to sit this one out! I’d probably keep it old-school though: how about Manny and Glottis, or Sam and Max?
    Chris: Solid choices all round, but don’t be too hard on poor Guybrush! Not everyone can reach the final of the Blitz, but I really mean it when I say that every single person ever to take part has brought something unique to the table and helped make the event a really special thing. Speaking of, let’s meet the star cast of BB19!
    Kim: Holy Hannah hold the phone… I’m so excited, Chris!
    Chris: Me too, Kim! Now I always like seeing a mix in the Blitz of bloggers I already know and love and newcomers I’ll soon know and love. This year looks to be no different, with a blend of faces familiar and new; I’m super hyped to see fresh styles and interactions, new dynamics coming to this wonderful event, and see what everyone’s unique take on the BB looks like!
    Kim: So let’s jump straight in and find out who we’ve got the pleasure of following this year!
    Chris: Our first judge is Jace Puckett from Zen Mind, Zen Life, a newcomer and a blogger in the I’m-gonna-come-to-know-and-love-’em camp rather than the I-already-know-and-love-’em. I’ll be interested to see how Jace’s trademark insight and Zen approach of calm lend themselves to judging; from what I’ve seen, I think their disposition will be perfect for seeing right to the core of the issues central to each round and making good reasoned arguments for their winner.
    Kim: Next up we have Andrew Turnwall from Serial Bookseller, also known as the Ink-Stained Mage, who was a competitor during the first ever Blogger Blitz. His previous experience is sure to make him a great judge as that insight into what it’s like to participate is incredibly useful, plus his game reviews over at The Well-Red Mage mean he owns a keen analytical mind that’s going to be perfect for assessing the competition.
    Chris: And the final judge is Heather from Just Geeking By, someone I know (a little bit but not yet well enough!) from our previous co-collaboratings as part of Normal HappeningsThe Games That Define Us. I know she has a broad knowledge and a deep reflectiveness, so I think she’ll be really well-suited to judging. She’s also a World of Warcraft fan so it’ll be interesting to see how that comes into play when… well, we’ll discuss that when we talk about the competitors!
    Kim: That’s an awesome set of judges we’ve got right there! It’s a tough job picking a Blogger Blitz champion – trust us guys, we speak from experience here – but they’ve got the smarts and video-game-knowledge to really dig down into the arguments put forward by this year’s competitors and choose a worthy winner.
    Chris: I think Ian from Adventure Rules, our most phenomenal host, has done some work to make sure that the judging format is clear to all involved this time around: in previous years, judging panels have been able to really pick their own criteria for who deserves to win each round, so I’ll be very interested to see what sort of guidance or format there might be this time around. The judges all seem like eminently reasonable and impartial people but I’ll definitely be looking out to see how they resolve disagreements and what factors they rate as most important.
    Kim: That’s all we have time for right now folks, so let’s give a big round of applause to Ian and everyone taking part in this year’s Blogger Blitz!
    Chris: Don’t be sad though, because have another show airing later today over on OverThinker Y so go and check that out for a run-down of the all-important competitors!