Category Archives: Gaming

Mass Effect Trilogy

I don’t normally post about games, mostly because I describe myself as these days a lapsed gamer. I used to play a lot more, as I had more time, and have been playing MMORPGs since the beginning with the first Everquest. Before that I’ve been playing computer games since we had personal computers (yes, I am that old), but I’ve not played WoW in over 5 years. Now I tend to pick up the occasional game that I can dip in and out of, finish and move on to something else.

Recently in the mood for something new I saw the first Mass Effect game on sale on Steam for less than £5 so I thought, sure, why not. This was after having finished Fallout 4 and it recommended ME as something I might like to try.

Mass EffectI love immersive games that are part sandpit, part first person shooter and part role playing adventure. Fallout 4 was a brilliant example of that in a familiar yet strange new world and ME was more of the same. However, ME went far beyond that because very soon after finishing the first game I was hankering for some more. I wanted to know more about the alien races and the Reapers and Collectors and all of the mythology. A friend said it reminded him a bit of Babylon 5 and he’s right. There’s a rich history to the different alien races and you feel it. As much as I love Star Trek, there were times when a new alien race was nothing more than a slightly different bit of plastic stuck to someone’s nose. Here, the alien races are fleshed out beings that are very different from each other. I’d never mistake a Centauri for a Narn in B5 and likewise a Krogan and an Asari.

Mass Effect 2After finishing ME1 and desperate for more I realised I could import my character to ME2. I was also delighted to see that my choices in the first game had real and lasting consequences. Minor spoiler, but someone dies in the first game and in ME2 on a mission you meet up with an old friend. Their identity depends on who lived or died in the first game and this echoes through to ME3. Also people react in different ways depending on your decisions. Suddenly I felt bad at some of the things I’d done in the first and second game. I didn’t realise acting so cavalier at times would have long term effects! I love that the games don’t punish you for making certain choices but you have to live with the consequences. I blasted through ME2 and rolled straight into ME3, barely pausing for breath.

Mass Effect 3The ME world is so rich and romance is another fascinating aspect of them. Relationships with NPCs isn’t new, but I was pleased by the possibilities in the series, again which are controlled by your actions. Act like a crazed renegade and you’ll attract a certain type of person. Act within the law and by the book at all times and someone else will flirt and suggest you have some quiet time together.

After finishing ME3 I did some reading up and realised there were whole sections I missed in ME2 and ME3. So feeling no guilt at all, I’ve gone back to ME2 and am going through it again, thinking more carefully about my choices and how they will ripple forward into the next game.

Everything I consume, films, TV, comics, book and so on, gets fed into my brain and parts of it trickle through into my writing. This is probably the first time in many years that a series of games has had such an impact. I really enjoyed playing this trio of games. It was such much fun in fact that I’m replaying two of them over again, plus I’m also fighting with other players against AI enemies in the co-op stuff online in ME3. I can’t remember the last time I played such an immersive game.

And now, we’re at the dawn of a new Mass Effect game. Mass Effect; Andromeda. It’s a whole new world and a new adventure. It looks both fresh and it has some familiar elements will no doubt please old school fans who were there in the beginning as well as latecomers like me. I’m not sure if my PC is up to spec to play it, but I am certainly going to investigate.

Have you played the Mass Effect games? Which is your favourite? Which is your favourite race? If you were one of the aliens, which would you be? Who did you spend time romancing? And what should I be playing next if I enjoyed these? Let me know.

5 Comments

Filed under Games, Gaming

November round up

A general update on what’s been going on for the last month or thereabouts. Starting with some book news.

Book 4

The first draft of book 4 (currently untitled), the first book in the new Age of Dread trilogy, has been sent off to my publisher. Phew. I got it in a couple of weeks early and I had enough time to do a pretty solid revision with some input from a trusted source. As it was the first book in a new trilogy, and even though it was set in the same world, I was super nervous. Digging in and giving it a good polish before it went off to my editor, and getting some positive feedback, has helped a lot. So now I am cracking on with book 5. I should say, you don’t have to have read the first trilogy (Age of Darkness) to read this book, however, it does follow on chronologically from the first and there are lots of overlaps in terms of characters and so on. But it is possible to come in as a fresh reader and it will all make sense. Book 4 comes out next year in October.

Blog posts

I’ve recently done some guest posts on a few blogs. The first was My Book: The Movie, where I was asked who would I cast if they were going to make a film of Battlemage. My answers often change but right now these are the people I see in the roles, so it gives you a bit of an idea what they look like in my head beyond what you read on the page.

The second blog post was over on The Page 69 Test. This is where if someone were to open my book to that page, what would they find? Is it representative of the whole book or not? Would it give new readers enough to make them keep reading? It was an interesting idea to explore and in this case p69 of Battlemage gives a flavour for one aspect of the book.

Interviews

There are a couple of these coming up. One I did for Mur Lafferty on her podcast, I Should Be Writing. Once this goes live I will repost it. I also did my first video interview! Very nerve racking and tense. However, I got through it and the two people who interviewed me were very friendly and helped me relax. This was during my recent trip to the MCM Expo in London and it was for Solarstorm Entertainment. The video will be on YouTube. I was interviewed along with several other Orbit authors on the day. [edit, the interview is now live]

Gaming

I don’t tend to talk much about games, but I thought I would add something for a change. I mostly say I’m a lapsed gamer, as I don’t have time to play as much as I used to. However, recently I have picked up the odd game from Steam and the best of them has been Fallout 4. This game is remarkable. It’s probably one of the best games I’ve played in the last 10 years or more. It has all of the elements that I like, exploration, a deep back story and world building, a sandpit aspect to the game, a strong storyline with some major twists that keep me guessing and also wondering about my actions and the choices I’ve made as my character. It is also massive. There is a lot to explore. It’s been a great way to unwind while wiping out a few settlements of Super Mutants.

That’s it for now. If you have read any of my books and would like to do me a favour, please post a review on Amazon or Goodreads, as it does help to me noticed by other potential readers.

Comments Off on November round up

Filed under Books, Games, Gaming, Writing

Wailing Heights

CaptureI can finally reveal a little bit more information about another of the secret writing projects I’ve been involved with. I recently had the pleasure of working with Outsider Games, on their latest project – Wailing Heights.

It was a real challenge for me, bringing humour to the content. It was very different to what I normally write and I had to write two pieces in very different styles and voices. I also had to do some research and delve into areas I would never normally look and it was quite an eye opening experience. I had a lot of fun working on the project with the guys and am looking forward to seeing the game when it comes out.

You can read more about my involvement with the game on their Production Blog.

Comments Off on Wailing Heights

Filed under Gaming, Writing

Summer Holiday

In a few days I’ll be off on my annual summer holiday for a much needed week of rest and relaxation in the sun. It will give me a chance to catch up on my reading (see previous for my list of books I’m taking away), my sleep and to recharge the batteries because when I get back it’s going to get very busy for a while.

In August I will be attending the second annual Nine Worlds event. I’ve posted about it before and after hearing such great things about it from last year I’m really looking forward to it this year. Not because of my small role in helping to organise a small part of it (the podcast track which I’ve running with a friend), but because of the many other tracks that are running at the event and the variety. Conventions are typically quite linear, organised around a particular TV show, or film, and to be fair sometimes there are cross TV show conventions, where a few guests from two or three shows.

Book conventions often bring together authors from related genres and sometimes there’s a tangentially connected guest from left field, but by necessity really events are quite focused so people know what they’re getting when they buy a ticket. Nine Worlds is the first convention of its kind that I’ve seen in the UK. One that has a track for books, and you can spend all weekend at that one, but if you want to jump over here for a few hours and do something else you can. So I’m going to jumping between monitoring the podcasting track, attending panels on the book track, dipping in and out of the games track, and possibly the gaming area, browsing the dealer room and probably dropping in on a few other panels here and there. I’m also appearing on a couple of panels, one for the podcast track and one for the book track, but I’ll post more info closer to the time.

Another reason I’m excited about the convention is because I don’t get down to London very often, maybe once or twice a year, and it will give me a chance to meet up with a lot of convention friends I only see when I’m down there. I spend a fair amount of time talking to them online via social media and email, but it really isn’t the same. So I’m really looking forward to sitting down and chatting over a pint or two, and meeting up in person with some new people I’ve chatted to online for the first time.There are too many to name individually, but I’m sure there will be photographic evidence and lots of blog posts after the fact.

So at Nine Worlds there will be copious drinking, hopefully a few games of Cards Against Humanity and I’m taking my Magic cards and might get to battle a few people with those, although I am incredibly rusty so it will take me a while to get back into the swing of things. When I say rusty I’m not being modest, I mean it. The last time I played Magic was when it first came out, maybe ten or twelve years ago, so I definitely need to practice a bit. Overall I think it’s going to be a cracking weekend but utterly exhausting.

Thankfully it’s nearly a month until the next convention, Fantasycon in York, so I will have plenty of time to recover. I’m not running anything at that event, so it should be a bit more relaxing, but no doubt there will be more drinking, meet-ups, panels and organised chaos.

After that it’s all quiet for a while, so I’ll be head down grafting away on book 2, then making a start on book 3. As tiring as the events will be they’re actually really good for invigorating me, and they make me want to get back to my own writing. I think it has sometimes to do with being around so many other creative people. Even though I could away exhausted it’s a good thing. So, I’m off soon, have a good summer holiday and I’ll probably see some of you at Nine Worlds next month.

 

Comments Off on Summer Holiday

Filed under Books, Events, Gaming, podcast, Writing