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Footie Journo Hibberd Brings Mature Game Musings & Indie Support

News

From Sheffield, United Kingdom earlier this week, arrived the Community’s latest addition to its circle of independent Video Game writers in the form of Terry Hibberd. A Sports journalist and Video Game enthusiast who’s long learnt to merge his passion for the two by bringing about creative Video Game journalism, Hibberd debuted with with an interesting take on Ubisoft’s upcoming post-apocalyptic opus, The Division — one that evaluated it’s worth while taking into consideration prior delays &  the ongoing Beta hubbub.

Contrary to what one might assume though, the term ‘interesting’ emerges not out of the fact that Hibberd offered a never-seen-before evaluation of the game’s graphics, engine or any other pivotal aspect — but rather approached the subject from the less-hardcore perspective of a forty-something man (naturally, since he is one), praising it purely for but the Beta’s ability’s to draw players in for an indefinite amount of time before delivering an absolute blast of multiplayer action with friends. ‘As good as this title looks, it’s about getting stuck in and I don’t think you can ever do a Video Game title like this justice if you don’t do just that’, he wrote.

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READ: The Division…Worth The Wait?

It is this very sort of casual, ‘mature’ perspective that Hibberd hopes to maintain as he gets back into the saddle of Video Game writing via his blog, ‘The Musings of a Fortysomething’ — after having spent a large part of last year helping professional footballer, Jose Semedo of the Sheffield Wednesday Football Club, promote his auto-biography ‘Win The Day’. By showcasing forthcoming written features that will focus on various popular Gaming trends & industry happenings on a regular basis, Hibberd hopes to not only inspire creative discussion within the Community, but also use 12 years of his experience with writing and PR in providing support to member indie game developers & other gaming artists that need it.

‘I just need to get back into it first’, he explains when asked about his plans on the same. ‘I enjoy gaming — it’s a distraction from ‘normality’. Writing helps me focus on things and now maybe even focus on gaming. I like to talk about games and I want to bring my conversational style to people who want to read about it! As for collaborating with the Game Developers & other gaming talent here, I’ll happily do so with anyone who needs some words to go with their pictures — be it interviews, features, reports, reviews, PR, and more; Just get in touch with me and we can work something out.’

Despite having harboured a strong passion for observing & writing about the things he observed for years, Terry Hibberd would commit to the art rather late in his life — after quite a few prods from the wife had eventually led him to Owls Online in 2004. A portal to England’s oldest football club, Sheffield Wednesday’s news & happenings, Owl Online would have Hibberd deliver periodic reports and more as a Staff Writer before eventually having him rise up to the post of an Editor in 2005. Subsequent years would see him not only earn an Honours degree in Journalism & Media from the University of Huddersfield, but also write for the official match-day magazines of popular English clubs such as Scunthorpe United, Doncaster Rovers, Birmingham City and AFC Halifax Town.

By 2012, his love for writing would finally lead him to articulate his views on his favourite Games. ‘My love of writing, my love of video games.. It seemed silly not to merge the two. When you’re passionate about something I think it was only fair to try and pass on that passion to others’, he states in retrospect. The years between 2012 & 2014 would then see Hibberd write for and moderate OldGamerz — a community for gamers middle-aged & aged — review Xbox360 games on TotallyGN, before eventually landing a role as Staff Writer & subsequent Xbox Department Head at console gaming website, Throwing Digital Sheep.

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READ: Hibberd’s review of PES 2015 as a writer at Throwing Digital Sheep.

The relationships forged by him therein with Gaming industry specialists, Developers & Publishers continue to be crucial to the functioning of the website, which he’d only end up leaving by mid-2015 due to personal commitments. ‘Gaming for me, began in 1982; when my Grandad bought a ZX Spectrum with 16k ram and that was it. Manic Miner, Jet Set Willy, Match Day, and numerous other titles I could spend all day listing, were just amazing,’ recounts Hibberd with regards to his affection for gaming. ‘With their chip tunes and brash colours I looked forward even more to visiting my grandparents house and starting it up.’

‘I moved onto almost every available thing over the years after that, Sega Master System, Mega Drive (I was the first person in our town to own one!), Saturn, Dreamcast, Commodore 64, Amiga 600 & 1200, Atari ST & Lynx, a few PC’s starting with a very expensive DX266, Nintendo 64 and then every iteration of the Playstation and Xbox, onto — Xbox Live. And that was the thing that has kept me going since; Giving me a chance to return to gaming with my mates like we used to in my room as a teenager. We can still mess about like we are teenagers at times! ‘

Interestingly, as Hibberd explains, The Musings of a Fortysomething was already in existence by 2012 more out of need than a personal desire at the time. ‘I started it as a place to just put a bit of my work that I did for local businesses for the London 2012 Olympics. The website where they were first put was to be closed down within six months of the games’ finishing and I didn’t want the people who I had worked with to just be ‘dropped’.’Work’ here referring to articles he wrote on behalf of the Newham Barnsley Partnership — covering the Olympics from the perspective of businesses in Barnsley and their connection with the games. The Digital Media Bursary award was later bestowed on him for his work on the same.

A quick glance at the blog might reveal that besides covering a large plethora of subjects that go beyond games, Hibberd is yet to make the transition to his own web domain.‘It’s been a little bit of a side track, as most of what I do has been football or sport based, not so much about me… Or my thoughts.’, he confesses. I’ve written for others for a long time, not so much for myself — I do hope to be getting back into the thick of writing about Games now more than ever.’

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READ: Hibberd reviews Spec Ops: The Line as a writer at TotallyGN.

Coupling that with his willingness to providing the indie gaming community here with written & PR experience gathered from both the Gaming & Sports domain then, it will be rather interesting to see what his perspective and tenure on the Community brings. In between now owning & running Owls Online, sport blogging for iTV, feature interviewing for the Sheffield Wednesday match-day magazine, riding & tweeting about his motorbike and tending to Jose Semedo’s Public Relations — Hibberd has already been approached by members Alien Pixel and PointFive for written reviews of their games, Polandball: Can Into Space and RAM BOE respectively.

As he warns though, his writing style and/or opinions on games might take some getting used to. ‘My inspirations are what I see, who I see it with and how I can explain it to you; as close to how I’d describe it to you in a conversation. The downfall to this — My style may not be for all people, but I can accept that. We’re all different, life would be boring otherwise.’ As with all of our members, Terry Hibberd’s gaming articles & musings on the Community can now be tracked via his Higher Eclectic Space. For written coverage requests of your games & more, Xbox live hookups, PR tips or a simple chat, feel free to drop him a line down at the member forums or the comments below.

Towers, Personal Strife & TinyWars

Features

Friday, the 5th of February not only brought along with it the Community’s first member independent game of the Tower Defense genre but also one of its most enigmatic yet; promising a journey of personal strife & character growth intertwined with Tower Defence at its core, the vision and passion of Bizurk Software’s TinyWars was described in but words on our Facebook page, while offering only a sample of what the game’s mobile marketplace banner would look like as a visual supplement.

With its prototype put together in mid-2015, TinyWars is described by its creator & CEO of Bizurk, Andrew Taraba as a tale that is both easy to fathom and complex in lore, about people that are tiny, and their wars, which are also relatively tiny. Set within the imaginary kingdom of Tiny that happens to be under relentless attack from as yet unnamed forces, the game narrates the tale of Mary, a Tiny resident who faces a subsequent metamorphosis into a matured being on her quest to liberate herself & those around her from bloodshed.

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The Many Emotions Of Mary.

While the game itself promises to opt for fewer, meticulously detailed levels over multiple smaller ones, it makes no claims of innovating the Tower Defence genre in anyway. Having mulled over the game’s concept for years on end, when Taraba did put together the game’s prototype it turned out to be nothing more than basic — Red Squares vs Blue Squares, as he fondly recalls. And yet despite that, the fact that it worked was a testament of the sense his vision held, encouraging him and the others to work on it further.

‘Tower defense has been tried many times before, and I guess I could consider myself a tower defense expert’, Taraba explains. ‘I notice a lot of indie gamers tend to create a gameplay engine as their first step into the game, but we seemed to have a bit of a backwards approach. Since Tower Defense is a relatively regular genre, we don’t expect to make any ground breaking gameplay mechanics in the world of tower defense games. Many have tried and there’s a point where it either is no longer even tower defense or it’s just wacky weird one off type of game that couldn’t branch out into its own sub-genre. Our aim is pretty humble in that we just want to make a good, challenging tower defense title. I know tower defense very very well, I know what’s challenging, what’s annoying, having planned the game’s design with all of that in mind.’  

I, on the other hand, was more intrigued by the game’s claim of comprising a narrative that held parallels with life; it it is after all, not often one hears of a Tower Defense game pledging personal growth of its players. ‘We aim to bring the challenge level of TinyWars to a higher degree, requiring users to not mindlessly place towers but to carefully think, budget, and place their units wisely’, states Taraba in response.  ‘Part of growing up means one must learn to manage their finances wisely. One must learn when to speak up and when to be quiet, when the right time to act is and when it’s not the right time to set out your most powerful unit. Careful consideration must be put into all of your “moves” in life. And that it can be at times, impossible to predict what will be in the “next wave” that life throws at you. All these things must be taken into account, when one is playing the game.’

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Sample Level Render.

Interestingly, despite being 6 months into its development stint — that has so far witnessed original character designs, animations, assets & a lovely live orchestral soundtrack take form — the team has managed to garner a reasonably large following on social media without even delving into the finer details of the game’s tale or mechanics. This appreciation from the indie game community, seems to have stemmed out of a rather deep-rooted fascination for the protagonist, Mary’s design.

This of course, in no way means the team intend to keep the veil on for longer. As Taraba clarifies, ‘We want to build our fan base, that is what is most important to us in this early stage. To gather fans on our social media, so we can reveal content to them, get honest feedback, and continue to work towards the eventual release, knowing full well that the game has fans that are waiting for us to complete it and release it. We certainly will release more regarding specific details of the story, some test screen shots, and maybe some more artwork of the game’s characters! ‘

Taraba however does admit that despite the project’s being being funded by Bizurk Software — said funding does have a fast-achievable limit. ‘We may at some point reach out to a sponsor for funding or even crowd funding, it all depends on how much we can accomplish with our own funds. If we do get to a point where money is too tight and we can no longer make progress but we can see the end of the tunnel is near, then we may begin a crowdfunding campaign or work a deal with a potential sponsor. It’s unlikely that the project will be abandoned now that we have put so much effort, time and money into it.’

Additionally, Taraba also hints at the possibility of not only pairing up with other developers to further the game’s progress — but also utilising the talents of YouTubers both in and beyond the Community, especially with the game’s first demo now in the works. This demo, scheduled to arrive sometime in 2016 as soon as character, art & asset design reaches closure, will more than anything serve to put on display the team’s original, creative progress thus far and hopefully appeal to a few potential sponsors.

Either way, it’s already looking to be an illustriously vibrant ride ahead on the PC, Android & iOS. Be sure you keep an eye out for their progress via their Higher Eclectic Space, while also feeling free to leave them your feedback via the member forums, the Bulletin, or the comments below.

Introducing The Sam Central Gaming Channel

News

Last weekend witnessed yet another addition to Higher Eclectic Ground’s clique of YouTube gaming artists; 15 year old Multimedia enthusiast, Sam Pettican from London, United Kingdom.

Pettican of course, brings along with him his channel Sam Central — a youngling in the world of YouTube gaming, given that it was founded exactly a month ago on the 1st day of the New Year. And yet so, it’s arguable that his current body of video series, or the channel’s introductory video for that matter, bares no visible sign of quality struggles that often plagues gamers jumping into the realm of YouTube streaming & commentating for the first time.

From the eye-catching little introductory animation to the audibly crisp commentary that ensues, Pettican attributes a large part of this prevalent quality to his interest, understanding and experience in Video creation & editing as a Media student in school. ‘Couple that with the fact that I’ve always been influenced by YouTubers such as All-A and Ziovo’, he states. ‘It was only after a few of my friends started their own YouTube channels that I decided to do the same as well.’

As one would expect, Sam Central focuses on streaming content from games Pettican and his current audience base of nearly 50 subscribers enjoys — Minecraft, Rocket League and Star Wars: Battlefront being the subject of his current batch of videos with challenging outings such as Dark Souls III and an annual coverage of Call of Duty games being on the agenda. It’s not all smooth though, Pettican admits, having to often deal with rude and sometimes less than constructive criticism on the Internet as a growing YouTuber. ‘ It would upset me but I’m slowly starting to learn to ignore what’s not constructive. At the same time, I keep trying to improve based on the feedback I do receive — always listening to what my viewers are saying at any given time.

Meanwhile, Pettican is open to all sorts of collaboration and Video requests — with few of the Community’s member YouTubers, namely Craig Evans and Toby Burn of Channels Evanzo7 and Gaming Now respectively, having already expressed interest in working with him via the member forum. He’s is also up for any Game coverage requests, mentioning that he’s more than willing to try out some of the indie games within the Community. As always, he can be reached either via the Community’s member forum — the Bulletin — or by getting in touch personally via the details on his Higher Eclectic Space, which will also hold all his posts within the community henceforth.

For now, take a gander at his Channel’s latest addition —  the start of a play through of Dark Souls II: Scholar of the first Sin.

 Feel free to welcome him to the Community in the comments below.

Member Toby Burn Crosses 100 Subscribers On YT Channel ‘Gaming Now’

News

Nearly 2 years, 142 videos and 17,909 views later — Community member Toby Burn’s Multi-Gaming Console based YouTube channel, ‘Gaming Now’ achieved its first ever grand milestone in the form of 100 subscribers earlier this week. In celebration, the UK based streamer issued a quick montage of his time on the Channel thus far as seen below.

 

‘It’s been an interesting one!’, says he when asked about his journey thus far. ‘I’ve enjoyed all the projects I’ve done by myself and with others — I’ve enjoyed every minute of every video I’ve done. I need to thank everyone who helped along the way. I couldn’t have done it without them! :)’

Since its inception on July 10th, 2013, Gaming Now has catered to a wide variety of video gamers over the years — churning out videos and content on mainstream hits and offbeat instalments alone or with a group of like minded, guffawing online collaborators inclusive of community YouTubers Evanzo7 and Sonic_X49What’s interesting is that Burn had previously dabbled in running a multitude of other Gaming Channels prior to Gaming Now — but had failed to have them grow as per his vision due to lack of proper equipment, time or sufficient motivation.

When asked what his plans were for the future, he states — ‘To get to the next 100! Of course, with a lot, lot more variation in content along the way.’ Despite only two of the Channel’s videos being featured on the Community since his joining, it is worth checking out his prior body of work from over the years — inclusive of which is an ongoing Bully series as well.

 

As the others, Burn is constantly looking for Gamers & YouTubers based on the PS4, Xbox One and PC to collaborate with — and is also always open to any video requests and channels from other members; one of the forthcoming videos on his agenda is that of him playing RAM BOE, an indie puzzle game developed by Community members PointFive Team, in an act of raising awareness towards its Steam Greenlight campaign. To stay tuned to how that progresses, track his work or even get in touch with him — feel free to drop him a comment below, via any of his posts or the e-mail address listed on his Higher Eclectic Space.