Space Nation

I am a Customer Service Specialist and Player Support Specialist for the multimedia company “Space Nation”.

Space Nation is a space-themed lifestyle and media company, focused on bringing space to everyone. They maintain:

My duties include:

  • Responding to customer emails
  • Usage of Zendesk to address ad manage tickets
  • Creation of bug reports in Jira
  • Usage of back-end app CMS and google wallet
  • Playtesting
  • Writing of FAQ and tutorial documentation
  • Writing of employee training manuals

 

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Every year Microsoft holds a week-long summit for all the people who have been given the “Most Valuable Professional” (MVP) award. Held in the Seattle, Redmond campus; The summit is a fun and informal way of Microsoft talking to us about all their future plans and getting our feedback on their current direction. Read More

/r/XboxOne the official podcast of the Subreddit is released.

Episode 94 – We will sail together (Sea Of Thieves Interview)

Ahoy Listeners, Rhys, Ross and Carina discuss our ID@Xbox Indie Game of the week ‘Darkest Dungeon’. We also have an amazing interview with Rare! Emma Bridle (Engagement Manager), Joe Neat (Executive Producer) and Shelley Preston (Senior Designer) join us to chat everything Sea Of Thieves the week before the game launches.

Make sure you listen after the outro to find out what Carina likes to do with digital chickens…

Featuring…

Length: 01:11:25


 

I appeared in an interview in Microsoft’s weekly “This Week on Xbox” show. Available on youtube and directly through the Xbox One dashboard.

 

In 2018 I was awarded the prestigious Xbox MVP (“Most Valuable Professional”) award for my contributions to Xbox and its community.

WHAT IS THE XBOX MVP AWARD?

“Selecting and awarding the title of Xbox MVP is an opportunity to showcase the vital role community plays in Xbox products and services. The award allows Xbox to recognize community leaders for their contributions while bringing other voices into product and service development through direct conversations, relationships, and the annual MVP Conference.”
Xbox MVPs are community leaders who’ve demonstrated an exemplary commitment to helping others get the most out of their experience with Xbox products and services. They share their passion, knowledge, and expertise with Xbox and the community while encouraging others to do the same.
Learn more on the official Xbox MVP webpage.

The Xbox Butler Experience

So as I mentioned back in December, I was somehow chosen as the winner of the Xbox Butler Contest. The event finally came and went, so I thought id share what happened and some pictures of the night!


It was a fairly low key event. Many of my friends were scared off by the possibility of being involved in a Microsoft marketing stunt, but after it was revealed to be a private event with no media coverage whatsoever, I managed to rope a handful of people back into attending! Plus we organised for the butler party to be on my birthday!

The first part of my prize was a professional cleaner (not a butler) sent to my house a couple of days before anything went down. He set about scrubbing my house top to bottom, uncovering an uncomfortable amount of dirt for what I considered a clean apartment… He even offered to iron all my shirts!

A few days went by, and then the day before the party there was a ring at my door. Internet, meet Harri the butler.

This dapper chap was to be my personal assistant for the day. We had been provided with a car, so I made use of him as my personal chaperone. As an ex-chef, there was no way I was letting anyone else cater for my party, so I had Harri drive me all over Helsinki shopping for ingredients. He drove me to every obscure Asian supermarket I desired, happily carrying my groceries and pushing my shopping cart about. He even took me to the post office to collect packages waiting for me.

After a long day hunting ingredients I sent him home and spent the evening preparing food – I decided to make a Korean/Japanese themed dinner. The following afternoon Harri returned before the festivities and assisted me in getting dinner ready. He was in costume, so I dressed up as well. Thanks to the guys from Warhorse Studios for the kickass Kingdom Come Deliverance hat by the way!

Harri assisted me with the preparation, wrapping and setting of the table and other general buterly duties. We paused for an obligatory selfie.

At this point, i got a call from one of my friends that they would be running late, as they had been held up at work. I was having none of this. I dispatched my butler in his car to head over to his workplace and to collect him and his girlfriend personally. Whats the point of having a butler if you cant send them to collect your friends?

In the meantime, I set up Le Fancy Butler Menu.

That’s;

  • Chijeu-Buldak (“Fire Chicken” and Tofu for our resident vegan)
  • Sesame and Coconut rice
  • Edamame (me style – Coated with sea salt, pepper, dill and fennel)
  • Kimchi
  • Oi-Muchim
  • Sukjunamul

Harri soon returned with all my guests (all good butlers double as chauffeurs, don’t you know?) and I set him to serve drinks to our guests while I set the television to display the Netflix 4K film of a fireplace for that added fancy touch to the atmosphere and also ordered him to feed my cat – Because I can.

Shortly after we all had a chit-chat, it was time to eat. I prepared the food and Harri set it up as per my instructions. We all ate together and dinner was amazing if I do say so myself.

After we ate, we got to gaming while Harri the butler attended to our every whim. Delivering instant drink refills, clearing the table, putting the food away and photographing the fun. We offered to let him play a few rounds with us, but he was far to dedicated to his butlerly duties to be distracted by such improper behaviour!

We focused on playing 2 games. Firstly was Fusion Frenzy via the original Xbox backwards compatibility program and included as part of Xbox games pass. It looked amazing and ran like a dream. Most of us had played Fusion Frenzy when we were younger, so it was not only a fantastic party game to play, but it was a thorough trip down memory lane. I must confess, however, many of our opinions on the best minigames may have been slightly based on nostalgia. That said – Fusion Frenzy 3 when?

We also played a lot (and I mean a lot) of Black & White Bushido. A neat little party game by Good Catch (Who I have interviewed on the Party Chat Podcast). This game is simple but incredibly deep and skill based, with a focus on not only outplaying your opponents, but outsmarting them too. My throat was so hoarse from shouting by the end of it I could hardly talk. All of us were getting into character, shouting “NANI?!” when we died, sending out anime meme catchphrases such as “OMAE WA MOU SHINDEIRU”, impersonating Mr Miyagi and claiming that the opposing side lacked honour and discipline. Utterly hilarious.

Observe here everyone’s facial expressions. It got serious…

 

After some time gaming, we sent our butler on his way (he does need to sleep after all) and the party wound down after that. Overall it was possibly the weirdest and coolest birthday present I’ve ever gotten. For sure a story that I can tell to the grandchildren one day. I really wanted to thank Xbox for this whacky gift, as well as the production company who set everything up and of course Harri for being the most distinguished of gentlemen Xbox butlers.

This experience was a shining example of why I’m an Xbox gamer. Something like this simply wouldn’t happen to fans of any of the other gaming platforms. Xbox goes above and beyond for its fans and our community is the best there is. I am proud to be a part of it.


In closing, I will leave you with this one picture snapped by Harri. It perfectly captures my general mood of the night more than words ever could…

Kozuguru

I am currently operating freelance as the Marketer / Facebook advertising specialist for Kozuguru – A North American online retailer who specialises in Anime, Manga, Doujinshi & other Japanese merchandise.

www.kozuguru.com

 

My duties include:

  • Facebook Advertising
  • Budget planning and attribution
  • Marketing planning
  • Adroll
  • Reddit advertising
  • Copywrighting
  • Reporting

 

Wizardry Foundry

I am currently operating freelance as the Marketer / Facebook advertising specialist for Wizardry Foundry – A North American online retailer who specialises in custom designed Magic The Gathering “Grimoire” deck boxes and other Magic The Gathering, Tabletop gaming, Trading card game and Dungeons & Dragons accessories.

www.wizardryfoundry.com

It is also the parent company for it’s subdomain / sub-brand “Foundry Gameroom” which focuses on Tabletop accessories.

www.gameroom.wizardryfoundry.com

 

My duties include:

  • Facebook Advertising
  • Budget planning and attribution
  • Marketing planning
  • Adroll
  • Reddit advertising
  • Copywrighting
  • Reporting

 

Sea of Fools – The Sea of Thieves Open Beta

Recently Sea of thieves hosted an open beta on xbox one – I took to the seas with my good friends Ross (co-host of the party chat podcast), Bob (BobDucknWeave Mixer streamer) and Emma (Rare studios Engagement Manager).

I recorded our single session and then turned it into this compilation video. Enjoy.

 

Hello Nintendo Podcast Episode 26

I popped into the official podcast of the Nintendo subreddit for a guest appearance. We talk all things nintendo including some discussion on the Newly announced Nintendo Labo.

 

/r/XboxOne the official podcast of the Subreddit is released.

Episode 86: Kingdom Come: Deliverance Interview (Warhorse Studios)

Ross, Clay, Rhys and Carina discuss the latest happenings from the subreddit and the world of Xbox including our thoughts on PUBG.
We are also joined by Rick Lagnese Community manager for Warhorse studios, developers of Kingdom Come: Deliverance to talk everything about the game.

Don’t forget to listen after the final credits for some medieval outtakes.

Featuring…

Length: 01:08:03

What is Kingdom Come: Deliverance?

Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a story-driven open-world RPG that immerses you in an epic adventure in the Holy Roman Empire.

Bohemia – located in the heart of Europe, the region is rich in culture, silver, and sprawling castles. The death of its beloved ruler, Emperor Charles IV, has plunged the kingdom into dark times: war, corruption, and discord are tearing this jewel of the Holy Roman Empire apart.

One of Charles’ sons, Wenceslas, has inherited the crown. Unlike his father, Wenceslas is a naive, self-indulgent, unambitious monarch. His half-brother and King of Hungary, Sigismund the Red Fox, senses weakness in Wenceslas. Feigning good will, Sigismund travels to Bohemia and kidnaps his half-brother. With no king on the throne, Sigismund is now free to plunder Bohemia and seize its riches.

In the midst of this chaos, you’re Henry, the son of a blacksmith. Your peaceful life is shattered when a mercenary raid, ordered by King Sigismund himself, burns your village to the ground. By bittersweet fortune, you are one of the few survivors of this massacre.

Without a home, family, or future you end up in the service of Lord Radzig Kobyla, who is forming a resistance against the invasion. Fate drags you into this bloody conflict and shoves you into a raging civil war, where you help fight for the future of Bohemia.

Redeem your past and emerge a hero!

read more on the games official site


Episode 87 will be ou thursday, January 18th!.


If you could spare a few moments to subscribe and leave a rating on Itunes, or your platform of choice we would really appreciate it as it helps the podcast grow..

Thank you for taking the time to listen to the podcast every week, we really appreciate it!

 

Hiking Mt Misen, Miyajima

The resplendent island of Miyajima is one of the most beautiful (and subsequently most popular) tourist destinations in Japan. People come from all over the nation, and the world, to take it in – However, most people spend their day wandering the beautiful Itsukushima Shrine, admiring its iconic Tori gate and maybe grabbing a bite to eat at one of the many tourist-friendly restaurants there. Often overlooked is Mt Misen – Taking up the bulk of the island and rising to a peak of 500 meters, it gives the Miyajima its striking profile and is dotted with shrines, waterfalls and beautiful views. My mission for that day was not to scale it, but somehow I ended up doing so anyway….

Read More

I do so love a good recommendations list. I’ve had a lot of people ask me about some of the slightly less famous books I consider essential reading in the Sci-Fi / Cyberpunk / Space Opera genre, and as one of my favourite things just so happens to be telling people my opinion – I’ve gone ahead and submitted to their request!

But there is a catch. I like my Sci-Fi dark. Grimdark even. I need my reading so gritty I can feel the dirt in my teeth. So soul-shattering that after I put down the novel I need to go and sit on the bathroom floor under a cold shower for a few hours.

If you are looking for happy endings, look elsewhere.

This list is a little more obscure than your typical top 10 (although not wildly so) and is by no means definitive. You won’t find “Neuromancer” or “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep” here (Although if you haven’t read them yet, what are you even doing here?). You will, however, find 10 of my personal favourite dark and gritty sci-fi novels from the Cyberpunk and Space Opera genres.

SNOW CRASH

Author: Neal Stephenson
Year: 1992
Get it here

Let’s start things off easy. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson is the most famous and least soul-shattering novel on today’s list, but by no means the worst. Snow Crash is both an unabashed satirical parody of the Cyberpunk genre, and simultaneously one of the best examples of it ever written. You would think that a comedic satire about a man named “Hiro Protagonist” (A hacker, ninja, pizza delivery guy who works for the Italian mafia, who happen to have a monopoly on the pizza delivery business) would not be the kind of novel containing commentary on the human condition, politics, anthropology, religion, cryptography, linguistics and philosophy. But you’d be wrong.

Stephenson’s utterly amazing writing makes this bleak dystopian book about anarcho-capitalism and linguistics both poignant and thought-provoking, while also laugh out loud funny. A must read.

REVELATION SPACE

Author: Alastair Reynolds
Year: 2000
Get it here

The future is bleak. Mankind is alone. Everywhere we find the ruins of dead alien civilisations and we have no idea what killed them all. Revelation Space is one of my favourite fusions of the Cyberpunk and Space Opera genre. It tells 3 separate and seemingly unrelated stories that all come together in a way that never feels contrived. Set in a grimy, post-apocalyptic universe where the “melding plague” destroyed large swathes of civilisation and people make use of centuries-old technology that they can no longer rebuild or scarcely understand. Reynolds delivers us a pure page-turner of intrigue and suspense.

A dark and realistic tale, where the main characters are both heroes and villains in their own right, and featuring a chilling answer to the Fermi paradox that video game series Mass Effect managed to both rip off and do no true justice to at the same time…

ALTERED CARBON

Author: Richard K. Morgan
Year: 2002
Get it here

Now we are starting to get grim. This is a hardboiled noir-style detective novel fused with hardcore Cyberpunk. Altered Carbon is set in the dystopian far future where mankind has transcended death. We are all immortal, digitised personalities that can be downloaded at will into our physical human bodies, referred to as “skin sleeves”. The plot centres around a murder mystery; A wealthy man has been “killed” and of course, simply “re-sleeved” into a new body shortly after. He hires mercenary Takeshi Kovacs to investigate, with the twist being that in a world where murder is irrelevant, why on earth would someone do that?

The first novel of a trilogy that goes from strength to strength. This is a grim and nihilistic future full of graphic depictions of violence, torture and sex. Also, Takeshi Kovacs is one of my all-time favourite hardboiled protagonists. Easily the most badass cyberpunk detective ever written. Don’t mess with Envoys.

Oh, and Netflix is going to be releasing a series based on the novel soon. I couldn’t be more excited!

GOD’S WAR

Author: Kameron Hurley
Year: 2010
Get it here

God’s War is by far the most unique novel on this list. Typically speaking, Cyberpunk is interpreted through the lens of American or Asian pop culture. This novel, however, takes the cyberpunk dystopian genre and places it in in a setting that is essentially “space middle east”. Offering a spectacularly original take on the genre; We see Cyberpunk passed through Islam, religion, war, Arabic & Persian culture and what it means to be a woman in such a twisted and bleak dystopia.

Written by a woman, it is no surprise that Hurley gives us my favourite female protagonist ever. Nyx is not a flawless Mary Sue, nor is she a paragon of goodness and femininity rising up against the evil cyber-Islamic dictatorship that she lives under. No, she is, in fact, an awful, awful person. A murdering, lying, cheating and drinking assassin-cum-bounty hunter who is written with depth and humanity.

Highly recommended.

GRIDLINKED

Author: Neal Asher
Year: 2001
Get it here

Gridlinked is the first in a series of 5 novels that follow the story of Ian Cormac, which become progressively darker and more apocalyptic the further along the series you move. Gridlinked is, however, where it all begins. It is told via 2 separate narrative strings, one following the series main character Ian Cormac and the other following the main henchman of the primary antagonist.

Cormac is something of a cyberpunk James Bond. A handsome, smart and badass special agent from Earth Central Security. The twist is that he has been “Gridlinked” (The act of having your brain hardwired into the internet and the Earth Central AI) for decades longer than the maximum recommended time. The head of the ECS decides he should be disconnected from his gridlink, as he has seemingly lost his humanity and empathy. We follow his attempts to remember how to be a feeling human being, as well as dealing with space separatists, conspiracy, ancient alien intelligence and much much more.

An interesting series full of awesome characters, including many non-human AI characters that range from the god-like Earth Central AI through to his faithful dog-like flying Shuriken weapon, that he uses to violent effect. This is one of the more gory series on the list, with Asher seeming to delight in describing violent injury in vivid detail. Not for those with weak stomachs.

THE ELECTRIC CHURCH

Author: Jeff Somers
Year: 2007
Get it here

I must confess – The Electric Church and indeed the following 4 books in the “Avery Cates” series are a huge guilty pleasure of mine.

As the blurb on the back of the book says; “Avery Cates is a bad man…” Written in the first person, our hero Avery is a complete and utter sociopath. A foul-mouthed, down on his luck, uneducated and unapologetic piece of human garbage, who works as a “Gunner” – A killer for hire. You would think that living inside the mind of a sweary sociopathic hitman in a bleak dystopian anarcho-corporate future would be unpleasant, and in many ways it is, but at the same time you just can’t help but root for him.

The plot of the first book in the series centres around Avery being employed by shady corporate suits to assassinate the head of the titular “Electric Church”. A mysterious religious organisation of cybernetic monks that reject their earthly flesh. What follows is a highly entertaining action romp set within one of the most bleak and depressing dystopias out there. Avery gets seriously knocked about, but somehow he always pulls through. A real page-turner.

HYPERION

Author: Dan Simmons
Year: 1989
Get it here

Now we are getting seriously grim. Hyperion, and its direct sequel “Fall of Hyperion” are novels about human suffering, loss, vice and pain. It tells the tale of 7 pilgrims on a journey to the planet Hyperion and its valley of the time tombs. Mysterious alien artefacts that move backwards through time and are guarded by the god-like creature known as “The Shrike”. Each of the pilgrims has a connection to the Shrike and the tale is told in 7 separate backstories (one for each character) during their overarching journey to Hyperion. Each story is a different genre, ranging from hard-boiled cyberpunk detective through to outright Lovecraftian cosmic horror. Each tale is horrific, dark and depressing in its own right with “The Scholars Tale” being one of the most heartbreaking stories I’ve ever read. It messed me up for weeks afterwards and years later I still think about it.

A space opera tour-de-force with one of the most original tales and epic universes ever put to page. Just prepare yourself for the emotional battery that is to come. Oh, and the ending to Hyperion is pants – You need to read its sequel to complete the tale.

USE OF WEAPONS

Author: Ian M. Banks
Year: 1990
Get it here

Ian M. Banks is famous for his series of books set within the “Culture” universe and this one is easily his most dark. A character study presented as the biography of the man “Cheradenine Zakalwe” and how he is used (as a weapon) by the hypocritical galactic ruling hegemony known as “The Culture”. It details the awful things he has done and the effects it has on his psyche as he keeps attempting to get out of the life, but keeps getting pulled back in – Rambo style.

Use of Weapons is perhaps one of the most challenging books I have ever read from both a literary and emotional perspective – It’s structure goes something like this;

A single tale is split into two narrative streams, interwoven in alternating chapters. One narrative string moves forward chronologically, while the second string is written in reverse chronology, with each chapter moving backwards. These 2 narrative strings eventually meet at the end of the book, which is chronologically the middle of the story. To make this even more complicated there is also a prologue and epilogue set shortly after the events, as well as many flashbacks within the chapters.

That may sound overly complicated, and for many people, it will be, but I assure you that the emotional gut-punch of a pay off (when the storeys meet in the middle and suddenly everything makes sense) is one of the best reveals of any book.

 

STARFISH

Author: Peter Watts
Year: 2000
Get it here

We now arrive at some of the deepest (see what I did there?), darkest depths of depravity with “Starfish” (Part one of the “Rifters” trilogy). What do you do when you are a monolithic mega-corporation in a dystopian future, who just opened a fancy new geothermal power plant that sits on the base of the ocean and are in need of good staff?

If your answer was: “Fill it with psychopaths, murderers, rapists, paedophiles, sadists and psychologically broken people just to see what happens” – Then you may be just the kind of HR manager N’am-Pac Grid Authority is looking for!

This is book can be very hard to read. It is cyberpunk at its most claustrophobic and depraved. It fuses horror, real science (The author is actually a marine biologist), intrigue, violence and tension. What starts out as a horrifying tale of dehumanisation, rape, murder and every other unspeakable act under the sun, ultimately becomes a tale of what it truly means to be human in the face of total annihilation. Can you sympathise with a child molester at the end of the world? Should you?…

THE REAL STORY

Author: Stephen R. Donaldson
Year: 1991
Get it here

The Real Story (Or by its full title “The Gap into Conflict: The Real Story”) is the first book of 5 in “The Gap” series and it is seriously messed up. Seriously.

I saved you the best for last, as this book is one of the most incredibly dark and brutal space opera novels ever written. A truly uncomforting read, with frequent sexual and mental abuse, torture, rape and violence. It is packed with enough stomach-churning scenes to make you think you are watching some kind of body horror flick like Saw or Misery. None of the main characters are good people. At all.

It spins a tale of treachery, deception and deceit, set upon the backdrop of sweeping intergalactic space opera. Despite being set in a sprawling universe, this is a very personal tale of 3 people and the utterly messed up things that they do to one another. The same story is told repeatedly, from differing perspectives, as we attempt to get to “The Real Story” (See what he did there?). In each subsequent version of the tale, the roles of victim, villain & hero are switched. This makes for one hell of a compelling read.

No matter how many awful things happened to the main characters, I couldn’t help but pick the book up again to see just what was coming next. Truly not for the faint of heart.

 

Seasons greetings everyone!

I recently organised and wrote up the 2017 reddit Xbox One game of the year awards. There was once again, an amazing turnout of voters! We had a total of 10,103 responses – And upon removing the 6,822 naughty votes from people who thought they could bot the system (tisk tisk) we arrived at the grand total of 3,281 respondents!

As always – The votes have been counted correctly, altered based on my own personal bias and edited to reflect the juicy bribes I received in bitcoin and anime hug pillows from publishers.

Each winner has been given a prestigious and totally not imaginary /r/XboxOne exclusive “award”, and are celebrated below.

As a heads up – By their very nature, these awards will contain mild spoilers. You have been warned

 

BEST SHOOTER

Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus
Blasting Nazis, robot dogs and the KKK with death lasers in a fictional alternate reality 1960s America? Whats not to love here?! The man who starred in the very first FPS game as we know them; B.J Blazkowicz returns and sets the record straight on just how the shooter genre is done.

BEST RPG

Assassins Creed: Origins
Something of a surprise winner this year – The AC series is not known for its RPG flair, but Ubisoft went back to the drawing board with the newest instalment of the franchise and re-imagined AC as a sprawling, open world RPG set in ancient Egypt. Well done Ubisoft. Despite very strong competition from South Park: The Fractured, But Whole, you managed to take the win! Just don’t get comfortable in your seats – I have a feeling we will see you back on the award stage very soon…

BEST ACTION/ADVENTURE

Assassins Creed: Origins
And by very soon – I mean right now…
Never before have we awarded the Action Adventure AND Role Playing Game trophies to the same game – But then again, never before has a game managed to fuse open-world action, platforming and adventure quite so well into a deep RPG system. Truly a new benchmark for the open world genre, AC:O smashed its second-place rival, Shadow of War by over a thousand votes and adds another feather in its hat.

BEST NARRATIVE

Wolfenstein 2: The New Colussus
4 awards given out and only 2 games mentioned. Despite very healthy competition in this award from many games, Wolfenstein 2 managed to narrowly outpace its nearest rival, Prey and take the win. Violent, ridiculous and funny – But also poignant, emotional and surprisingly human. Wolfenstein 2 takes one of the most ridiculous storeys ever told in gaming and makes it feel real

BEST FREE TO PLAY GAME

Fortnite: Battle Royale
This was not even a question in the minds of you guys. Epic’s somewhat *ahem* **familiar** take on the battle royale genre utterly decimated the competition this year. Just goes to show that when your original game idea is tanking, there are much worse things you can do than rebuild your game into cartoony PUBG meets Minecraft. Nice one Epic.

BEST SINGLE PLAYER CAMPAIGN

Assassins Creed: Origins
This was a close one! Going head to head with Wolfenstein 2 yet again, the sandy expanses of the assassins creed world were just enough to push it into the winning position, by less than 30 votes!

The trials and tribulations of Bayek of Siwa were enough to win award number 3 for Ubisoft this year.

BEST MULTIPLAYER

Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds
Get ready to drop. Not surprisingly, PUBG wins best multiplayer this year. The Xbox is known as the “shooters console” and PUBG is currently the most popular shooter in the entire world – With a staggering 10%+ of all PC gamers on steam having played it (Making it the 6th most popular PC game in the world). It only makes sense that Xbox gamers would catch PUBG mania as well. Congratulations Bluehole!

BEST SPORTS GAME

FIFA 18
Oh hey, it’s that genre that FIFA wins every year! Football is the worlds most popular sport, so it would only make sense that it would be the most popular sports video game as well. In fact, the only gaming franchise that sells more on console than FIFA is COD.

Well done EA. Next year we will ship your award early to save time.

BEST DRIVING/RACING GAME

Forza Motorsport 7
Oh hey, it’s that genre that Forza wins every year! Seriously though, Forza is the undisputed king of racing games. No other racing game series on any other platform comes close to the quality and frequency of releases that the Forza team manage every year. This year was no exception, with FM7 being used as the poster boy for the Xbox One X 4K, 60FPS HDR miracle. Turn 10 utterly obliterated the competition this year by over **THREE THOUSAND** votes. Possibly the widest margin of victory we have ever seen. Rekt.

BEST PLATFORMER

Cuphead
Let’s be real for a second – As a pure platformer, Cuphead is average at best. But in its own genre of “Artistic tour de force bullet hell cross boss rush cross platformer cross dark souls with incredible music” – It has no equal. The blue hedgehog made a come back this year with the incredible Sonic Mania, which did VERY well in votes, but it wasn’t even close to knocking the crown off of the cup’s head. Well done Studio MDHR.

BEST HORROR GAME

Resident Evil 7
Resident Evil is the king of the survival horror genre. After years and years of poorly performing sequels, the team went back to the drawing board and re-designed just what it is that makes a Resident Evil game. Despite changing everything from the setting, to the story, to even the player perspective – RE7 Still somehow managed to feel like Resident Evil. On top of that, it was one of the best horror games released this year. Prey and The Evil Within 2 managed to actually tie for second place, but they must both bow before the king. A true return to form from Capcom.

BEST SOUNDTRACK

Cuphead
Possibly by virtue of being one of the most original soundtracks in gaming, Cuphead stunned everyone with its old-timey Big Band and Barbershop soundtrack. Noticeable competition came from Prey, which was composed by Mick Gordon (Who won last year’s best soundtrack award for DOOM) and Destiny 2 – But they weren’t enough to overcome the originality and awesomeness that was Cuphead’s soundtrack.

Also worth noting that this song is actually sung by a woman. The incredibly talented Alana Bridgewater.

BEST “GAME PREVIEW PROGRAM” (EARLY ACCESS) GAME

Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds
Award number two for the innovative new franchise. Despite its technical and performance issues on release, the game is still fun enough for the VAST majority of you to overlook. They earned this particular chicken dinner by over 2 thousand votes. Tasty.

BEST SOUND DESIGN

Star Wars Battlefront 2
Despite the controversy surrounding the Battlefront series – There is one thing that nobody of sound mind can ever fault the series, and indeed DICE studios themselves for. Sound Design.
The pew pew of the blasters, the whroom of the light sabres and the skreeeeeuummmmm of tie fighters all coming through JUST right.

Oh, and who could forget the almighty thermal impolder…

BEST GRAPHICS

Assassins Creed: Origins
This game is simply stunning. In 4K HDR on the Xbox One X – There is arguably no better-looking game in existence right now. Incredible texture detail, stunning vistas, built up cities, sweeping sand dunes, a draw distance that stretches to infinity and historical accuracy so legit that you can play the game with an Egyptology book on hand and actually compare visual notes and translate the real hieroglyphics. AC:O is one hell of a pretty game. Battlefront 2 put up a good fight, but it was no match for that Ubisoft magic.

THE “SHOULD HAVE BEEN DELAYED” AWARD

Mass Effect: Andromeda
Mass Effect: Andromeda was, in what is retrospectively the height of irony, delayed more than once by EA who claimed “We’re willing to make moves in launch dates if we feel that it’s necessary to deliver the right player experience” after their first 5-month delay. It seems that wasn’t quite enough.

Bad characters, Bad Plot, Bad Glitches – The ME Series hit an all-time low with this instalment. Causing such a stir as to have EA gut the entire development team and then to declare that the Mass Effect franchise is to be shelved indefinitely.

Ouch…

BEST FREE GAME WITH GOLD

Ryse: Son of Rome
We live in a post Pool Nation FX world. Gaming has peaked. Since then we shamble about aimlessly, lost and alone. We make do with what we are given. Ryse: Son of Rome was a launch game for the Xbox One, that Meme’d on this subreddit only second to PNFX. With weekly threads asking for it to be a GWG, Numerous rumours and hoaxes – The madmen finally did it and gave it to us.

So that’s it. We defeated Microsoft and have no games left to meme… Soldiers without a war. Is there truly a place left for us in this world?

Oh, and the game is alright I guess.

MOST BANG-ABLE CHARACTER

The “Retry” button – Cuphead
Easily one of the most smashed menu options in recent memory. This filthy harlot was always there, ready for you to fail. You hated yourself for going back to its arms – But it was always there when you needed it. In the back of your mind, you knew this was an abusive relationship, but nobody truly knows you like the Retry button. Every time you press it, you swear to yourself that was the last time. That is until the next time…

Also as always, my mother was a strong contender in the “Other” category, as well as /u/MajorNelson and the Puddle Slime from Slime Rancher.

MOST HATED CHARACTER

EA – Everything
Electronic Arts have been voted worst company in America. Twice.

Our very own mod /u/falconbox summed up everyone’s reaction to EA this year with [some High-Quality Gifs meme magic.](https://gfycat.com/SpanishAntiqueHuia)

THE “BUYERS REMORSE” AWARD

Destiny 2
This was a polarising choice. Seemingly Bungie managed to accomplish the impossible by irritating both the hardcore Destiny 1 fanbase AND the casual audience with a cavalcade of “downgrades”, controversies and poor press. From being caught stripping down content to be re-sold as microtransactions through to skimming EXP from players – Destiny 2 has not been a smooth ride. Not even Starwars Battlefront 2 came close to the level of regret felt by long-time Bungie fans…. Again…

BEST CONSOLE EXCLUSIVE

Cuphead
What is left for me to say here? Cuphead is one of the most original, well executed and highly decorated games of the year. A stunning achievement for indie developers Studio MDHR – They even got props from the prime minister of Canada himself! Congratulations again guys. You crafted a fun and unique game that took the old school and somehow made it new school. A game that no Xbox One owner should be without, Cuphead is a triumph in every sense of the word.

OVERALL BEST GAME OF THE YEAR 2017

Assassins Creed: Origins
Another Close one! With Cuphead and Wolfenstein 2 hot on its heels, it was once again Assassins Creed: Origins that managed to edge ahead of the crowd by a MEASLY 82 votes to pick up its 6th award this year – Making it the most highly decorated game in /r/XboxOne history.

 

Here is what the results looked like

 

There seems to be no question at all on your minds as to what the essential game of 2017 is for every Xbox One owner. That game is Assassins Creed: Origins.

Ubisoft took a year off in order to make the best new AC game they could and it is obvious that that little extra layer of TLC was exactly what the series needed. If you are a fan of action games, platformers, stealth, hack and slash combat, open world exploration, RPG mechanics, loot, crafting or even just a history buff – You owe it to yourself to play this game. Particularly in 4K HDR on the Xbox One X. Congratulations Ubisoft on your first ever big win on the sub!

 

A big thanks to everyone who voted once again! Looking forward to 2018’s wild ride!

Check out the full thread here

/r/XboxOne the official podcast of the Subreddit is released.

Episode 85 – A Rare Piratey Christmas (Sea Of Thieves ‘Progression’ Interview)

Ross, Clay, Rhys and Carina discuss the latest happenings from the subreddit and the world of Xbox and are joined by Mike Chapman And Joe Neate from Rare to discuss everything about progression in Sea Of Thieves in our Piratey Xmas Special.

Featuring…

Length: 01:05:10


Episode 86 will be out… Next Year! Merry Christmas!.


If you could spare a few moments to subscribe and leave a rating on Itunes, or your platform of choice we would really appreciate it as it helps the podcast grow..

Thank you for taking the time to listen to the podcast every week, we really appreciate it!

 

/r/XboxOne the official podcast of the Subreddit is released.

Episode 84 – Interview with Frictional Games (SOMA)

This week we interview Co-Founder and Creative Director of Frictional Games, Thomas Grip, about their newly released indie horror hit “SOMA” – Out now for the Xbox One.

Featuring…

Length: 01:22:20


Episode 85 will be out on Thursday, December 21st


If you could spare a few moments to subscribe and leave a rating on Itunes, or your platform of choice we would really appreciate it as it helps the podcast grow..

Thank you for taking the time to listen to the podcast every week, we really appreciate it!

 

I Won An Xbox Butler…

So this is a thing that happened…

Read More

Xbox One Party Chat Podcast: Episode 83

/r/XboxOne the official podcast of the Subreddit is released.

Episode 83 – Dark Souls, Awards and Failed Quiz Attempts

Featuring…

Length: 00:52:00


Episode 83 will be out on Thursday, December14th


If you could spare a few moments to subscribe and leave a rating on Itunes, or your platform of choice we would really appreciate it as it helps the podcast grow..

Thank you for taking the time to listen to the podcast every week, we really appreciate it!

 

Xbox One Party Chat Podcast: Episode 82

/r/XboxOne the official podcast of the Subreddit is released.

Episode 82 – The Cheese Episode

Featuring…

Length: 00:54:33


Episode 83 will be out on Thursday, December 7th


If you could spare a few moments to subscribe and leave a rating on Itunes, or your platform of choice we would really appreciate it as it helps the podcast grow..

Thank you for taking the time to listen to the podcast every week, we really appreciate it!

 

Hello Nintendo Podcast Appearance

I popped into the official podcast of the Nintendo subreddit for a guest appearance. We talk all things nintendo.

 

ID@XBOX Hidden Gems: Zombie Vikings

Episode 3 of my new YouTube show that exists to shed light on hidden ID@XBOX indie gems, on the xbox one marketplace.

This week I take a look at the ID@XBOX indie title Zombie Vikings. Zombie Vikings is a 4 player hack and slash adventure game with a whacky artstyle and loads of comedy.

 

A Day Trip To Ouarzazate & Aït Benhaddou

I rolled out of bed and face planted on the ice cold floor tiles of our Riad in the middle of Marrakesh. Not even the sudden shock of cold was enough to bring me fully into the realm of consciousness. Waking in the dark even before the first call to prayer in Morocco should be against some kind of law. I splashed my face with water and forced myself to wake up. We were going on a road trip and we were leaving early.

Our destination was the small town of Ouarzazate (pronounced a little like “or-zah-zat”). It sits high on a plateau just south of the High Atlas Mountains and is nicknamed “the door of the desert”, as to the south of the town lies the Sahara. The town is very famous for both its scenery and it’s numerous film studios that have produced some of the most famous films of all time (more on this later…).

We snuck out of the Riad and met our driver. It is possible to catch a bus there, but it getting around is highly inconvenient this way. I highly recommend paying a driver. They are cheap and plentiful and can give you lots of banter and local background on the way there. Plus they know all the best spots to stop for photos!

Our journey took is up and over the High Atlas Mountains as the sun was rising. I have to be honest – This part of the journey was already worth what I paid for the driver. The rest of the trip was a bonus. The High Atlas is like nothing I’ve ever seen. Bright red and green rolling mountains that bubble up from the ground in spectacular chaos. Getting out of the car and walking around in the total silence at sunrise was like being on another planet. I will never forget this as long as I live.

We travelled on through the winding roads (not recommended for the car sick…) and passed several tiny Berber villages. At my request, we stopped in one for breakfast and were served a delicious array of cakes and bread to go with our mint tea.

Eventually, you leave the mountains behind and begin to cross a vast and flat rocky plateau. There is just… Nothing…

On the outskirts of Ouarzazate, we passed by the 2 big movie studio locations; Atlas Studios and CLA Studios. Atlas is one of the largest movie studios in the world in terms of total area and many famous movies were shot in these 2 studios including Gladiator, Lawrence of Arabia, Kingdom of Heaven and Game of Thrones to name a few. Sadly, they were filming some kind of military movie (there was fake army trucks and APCs all over the place) and we were shooed away by the police.

No matter – We headed into the town proper.

Parking across from Kasbah Taourirt, the imposing fortress in the centre of town, we were left to our own devices for a time. We popped into the Kasbah and were pleasantly surprised to find it almost completely open to exploration. Many beautiful tiles and Islamic artworks still adorn the walls too.

We took a short stroll into the modern centre just to get a feel for how the locals live. Not much different to the modern centre of Marrakesh if I’m honest. Quiet and sleepy, but not without its charm.

But we had seen enough. It was time for the main event, and the real reason I organised this trip in the first place; Aït Benhaddou.

Situated 10 kilometres out of town, Aït Benhaddou is a small fortified mudbrick town that is built up and around a tall hill. This ancient town is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. It has been featured in dozens of films, often as a stand-in for ancient Jerusalem, but also as fantasy settings like Yunkai, the fictional city in Game of Thrones.

There is a small newer portion of the town on one side of the river, where we stopped to grab lunch and then we made our way across the shallow river over a series of stepping stones and through the impressive gates into the old town.

This part of the town is more or less an abandoned ruin. There are a few stalls dotting the streets selling trinkets, but I doubt any of them actually live here. The streets are narrow and steep and the interiors of the old mudbrick houses are endlessly fascinating. We wandered the streets without any conscious direction, however, we found ourselves moving up and up towards the grainery at the top of the hill.

Getting up here was quite a climb in the now midday sun. I didn’t mention this before but bring plenty of water. There is no shade up here and you will need a drink when you make it up all those stairs. The view up here is nothing short of mind-blowing.

After shuffling back down and wandering the town some more, we headed back to catch our driver. On the way back we passed some camels and a few guys selling bits and pieces of the kasbah, such as the old wooden doors, which they assured me make excellent coffee tables. I wasn’t sure if I should have laughed or cried at the fact that 50 euros could have brought me a priceless wooden door from a UNESCO heritage site for a darned coffee table. I politley declined.

We drove back over the High Atlas as the sun was setting and reflected on what a wonderful day that had been. I can not recommend this enough if you are in Marrakesh and have a day to spare: Make the trip! Aït Benhaddou is easily among the top 10 coolest destinations I’ve ever been to and you will never see anything like it elsewhere in the world.

 

Youtube

I run a small, light-hearted YouTube channel for fun.

I am highly experienced at video editing. Particularly in Sony Vegas and Adobe After Effects.

 

Channel Link

Some Examples:

 

Xbox One Party Chat Podcast: Episode 81

/r/XboxOne the official podcast of the Subreddit is released.

Episode 81 – Lost Phones, Birthdays and Terrible Predictions

Featuring…

Clay, Rhys, Ross and Carina discuss the latest happenings from the subreddit and the world of Xbox including Carina’s predictions for Games With Gold and Will PUBG win Game Of The Year?

 

Including:

  • 15 years of Xbox Live
  • Black Friday Deals
  • Carina’s Games With Gold Predictions
  • Our GOTY predictions

Length: 00:40:03


Episode 82 will be out on Thursday, November 30th


If you could spare a few moments to subscribe and leave a rating on Itunes, or your platform of choice we would really appreciate it as it helps the podcast grow..

Thank you for taking the time to listen to the podcast every week, we really appreciate it!

ID@XBOX Hidden Gems: Stardust Galaxy Warriors

Episode 2 of my new YouTube show that exists to shed light on hidden ID@XBOX indie gems, on the xbox one marketplace.

This week is Stardust Galaxy Warriors: Stellar Climax – An oldschool sidescrolling shoot em up with modern appeal.

YouTube Channel Trailer

I made a trailer for my Youtube channel, featuring some highlights from the past.

 

A Day Trip To Lake Bled, Slovenia

If you have seen one photograph of Slovenia on the internet, it is possibly that iconic shot of Lake Bled. Easily one of the most picturesque and eye-bulgingly beautiful places on earth – This unassuming little lake lies nestled at the foot of the Julian Alps, near the border to Italy and Austria- It is well worth the small effort to get there.

Getting to Bled from Slovenia’s capital city, Ljubljana is easy as pie. In fact, you have two options: You can take the Bus or the Train. We took both because we can! After paying only 6€ each for a bus ticket, we jumped on a bus in the Ljubljana central station (these run every hour) and were treated to a leisurely drive through a few cute little small towns that actually made us lament not having driven ourselves, in order to stop and check them out. It took about an hour and 20 minutes to arrive in Bled, but the scenery on the way was so nice that the trip was over before we knew it. Bled is a small village that is connected to its sister village Lesce by a small 4-kilometre gap of road. The train station is in the Lesce side of this dual-village arrangement, so if you took the train then you need to take a bus, taxi or walk to the lake. More on this later…

The bus will drop you off either in the town centre of Bled, or if you stay on a little longer, it will drop you right against the shore. We walked out of the bus and were blown away by the beauty of the place. There is pictures and then there is being there. Nothing truly captures the scale of the mountains or the glittering emerald green/blue water of the lake as well as your own eyes.

Bled is A sprawling and calm lake. Much larger than the pictures make it look. It is ringed by the mountains and a thick forest tinted burnt orange and yellow by the fall colours. The lake is Guarded by a stern looking medieval castle perched atop a mountain and is capped with off its beautiful centrepiece – A small island in the very centre of the lake, where a small 16th-century church sits. Swans and ducks float about in the brightly coloured waters and the mountain air is fresh and oxygen-rich. It’s a fairytale book come to life.

There was a popular looking cafe right on the shore that looked like an obvious tourist trap, but the location was just too good and we were very hungry, so we stopped for lunch. Remember when you are in Bled to try the famous “Bled Cake”. You can find this dessert in almost every restaurant in Slovenia, but of course you want the real deal in Bled, right? Allegedly more than 12 million of these things have been eaten in Bled in the last 50 or so years!

As you can see; calling it a cake is a bit of a misnomer. It is actually a “cream cake” – A square slice of very firmly set, baked vanilla custard. With a smaller layer of thick vanilla whipped cream and topped with a thin and crispy layer of puff pastry, all dusted with half a tonne of icing sugar. A diet snack this is not. It is, however, delicious and one of the best cream cakes I have ever eaten.

We moved on and decided to hike up to the castle. There are a few paths that meander up the mountainside, or you can follow the road from the town proper. The castle is a very classical 17th century white and red affair, enclosed on one side by a Romanesque wall and towers and open to the lake on the other. It was under heavy restoration when we went there, with some sections closed off – but it is always nice to see these places getting some TLC. That said, the entry cost was outrageous. 10€ per person! I actually laughed in the face of the ticket seller when he told me, which elicited quite a scowl. I clearly was not the first person to do so. Still, I paid up and went inside as there was no way I had just climbed up this mountain for nothing.

The view from the balcony is simply unrivalled.

How on earth they managed to build this castle, sheer against the cliff side, boggles the mind. I dare not dwell on just how many men fell to their doom trying to build this precarious thing. The castle features a large museum, but at the time almost all of the exhibits had been removed and the interior was under more of the aforementioned renovations. Disappointing, but no great loss.

Heading back down we decided to walk a ring around the lake. The entire lake has a very well maintained path that circles it and you can even rent a bike or take the tourist “train” cart that comes by every so often if you are so inclined.

We walked on unmolested. Only passed by the occasional jogger or cyclist. A very quiet and relaxing stroll indeed. The locals we spoke to in Ljubljana claimed that Bled is very crowded in the summertime. Luckily for us, during the fall “off-season”, we had the lake almost to ourselves. Too cold for a swim, but still a wonderful walk.

We declined to take a boat out to the centre island to see the church. I have seen a nigh an uncountable amount of European churches in my lifetime and was not particularly interested in jumping onto a boat to see one more up close. Instead we walked the full ring around at a very leisurely pace, stopping to take photographs every 20 steps or so. This took about an hour and a half. Other than the scenery, we met some very friendly swans and that was about it. Tranquil and beautiful.

 

The Buses depart once every hour. We missed the bus by a paltry 5 minutes and decided that instead of standing around at the bus stop for an hour, we would walk from Bled to Lesce and catch the train for some variety. The walk between the two towns is also rather beautiful. We passed what is apparently Europe’s largest “Dino Park” with giant Dinosaur statues everywhere. It was, unfortunately, closed.

Lesce is even smaller than Bled and consists of about 4 streets. We walked into the empty train station to find the snoozing ticket seller who, once we politely woke him up, was very nice and spoke good English. Although the entire time we did business he was staring at us like we were the first customers he had seen in months. We hopped on the train as the sun was setting. A fairly standard central European affair, with small rooms rather than rows of seats. The journey back only took an hour.

Simply put; If you ever visit Slovenia you MUST visit Bled. This is not a suggestion or an idea – This is mandatory. It is one of the most beautiful and unique places in the entire world and to skip it would be traveller’s blasphemy.

Xbox One Party Chat Podcast: Episode 80

/r/XboxOne the official podcast of the Subreddit is released.

Episode 80 – EA Drama and a Tinder Podcast Review

Featuring…

 

 

We apologise for the reduction of the sound quality from 12 minutes in, a technical issue meant we had to use our skype backup recording.

Clay, Rhys and the returning Ross discuss the latest happenings from the subreddit and the world of Xbox including the drama surrounding Battlefront and a podcast review from a unlikely source. We also debut the first Host v Host challenge featuring Jon McFarlane, host of the Rare Sea of Thieves podcast ‘Tales From the Tavern’

Including:

  • Our thoughts on Battlefront 2
  • Host V Host
  • Features in the next update

Length: 01:01:36

 


Episode 80 will be out on Thursday, November 23rd


If you could spare a few moments to subscribe and leave a rating on Itunes, or your platform of choice we would really appreciate it as it helps the podcast grow..

Thank you for taking the time to listen to the podcast every week, we really appreciate it!

 

ID@XBOX Hidden Gems: Stikbold

I have decided to start a new show on youtube in the hopes of shedding light on the hidden indie gems on the xbox one marketplace.

First up is Stikbold: A Dodgeball Adventure. A charming local multiplayer game by Danish developers “Game Swing”. Take a look!

 

Xbox One Party Chat Podcast: Episode 79

/r/XboxOne the official podcast of the Subreddit is released.

Episode 79 – The NYC Xbox One X Launch with u/unndunn

Featuring…

 

Rhys & Carina discuss with reddit user /u/unndunn the latest happenings from the subreddit and what it feels like to be the first person in line at the NYC launch party for the brand new Xbox One X..

 


Episode 80 will be out on Thursday, November 16th


If you could spare a few moments to subscribe and leave a rating on Itunes, or your platform of choice we would really appreciate it as it helps the podcast grow..

Thank you for taking the time to listen to the podcast every week, we really appreciate it!