So 2019 has been a big year for me, and more to come!

JohnHQLD Site Background

The only constant this year has been change

As I said on Monday in Last Week’s Gaming, there have been a lot of going on for me over the last few days.

The main cause hasn’t been work for once, but I am moving again. That’s right – twice in one year!

Our current home has been sold to make way for units, but luckily we got a new place pretty quickly. This does mean a lot more activity over the next couple of weeks, which puts us right up against the holidays.

What does this mean for the site?

So because of this, I am going on a break a bit earlier and a bit longer than normal. Between the physical move, setup, lack of internet etc, I think it’s the best choice.

I am hoping to get a review up on Friday for Terminator: Resistance, but no promises. I don’t think I will get it finished before the move now, so it’s hard to review what I haven’t finished!

There will also likely be infrequent Last Week’s Gaming articles, as for at least 2 weeks I probably won’t be playing anything. Anything I do play though I will throw up on Instagram and maybe Twitter, with the odd random Facebook post to keep things happening.

Yeti hunting in the Puzzles will continue as normal though, as I have a few weeks primed already 😀

I am thinking I will bring things back to normal from the 13th of January. This will give me plenty of lead time to get things happening and maybe finally some of the new projects as well!

That’s a big break!

Yep, it is. And I am sorry it’s late notice for such a long break, but everything has been up in the air and moving close the holidays will surely bring some more suprises. Planning for the unexpected hoping it’s enough!

As mentioned, there will be infrequent bits and pieces happening, so keep in touch via Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and I hope you all have a more relaxing time than we will 😀

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Coming to PAX Aus 2019? Come join the XP Hunt!

We are on the road!

When you see this, Rabbit and I are making our way down to Melbourne! There will be pics occasionally on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter if you would like to see how we are progressing 🙂

Today would normally be last weeks games, and I did get to host/play some! The group played Chronicles of Crime last Monday while I worked, and I got a decent way into Catherine: Full Body. Expect normal gaming updates upon our return!

But today, I want to ask anyone coming to PAX Aus (or anyone just interested) that wants to join our PAX XP hunt to join on our Facebook group!

It’s a one off group (well, annually active group all going well) that only exists to share PAX XP locations and help others looking.

There is one question upon joining, and it’s to ask that you agree to being courteous to fellow members and not posting actual QR codes. That’s it!

So if you are interested, come and join us at the Facebook group!

See you there!

JohnHQLD

So until PAX Aus, a bit of a change in the schedule

The crunch has gotten to me!

As I have been talking about for the last couple of weeks, I have been working a lot in the buildup to PAX Aus. Not for PAX Aus, but my full time job that has a lot of things coming to a head.

I like to have all the articles done and ready to go while I am away like last year. This year, time has not been as kind.

So for the next couple of weeks, I am putting reviews on hold. Last Week’s Gaming and Yeti in Wahroonga Village will continue, but no reviews for a little bit.

Instead, today is me saying what I am planning on doing. Next week, I will be either frantically fixing work problems or packing for PAX. Probably both :p

So another quiet week next week article wise. The week after though, that is when Rabbit and I drive down to Melbourne. I won’t be putting much up on the site, but expect a more regular posting on Instagram and Facebook of our adventures!

Then, it’s time for PAX Aus itself. I don’t know what or when I will be posting, but it will be fun!

OK So this was from 2 years ago, expect new pics this week!

The PAX Aus XP 2019 group will be made over the next few days. I will be posting there for the XP hunt obviously, but if you aren’t doing PAX XP that won’t be of interest.

Random pictures of things will be posted of things I have seen/played with, again of Facebook and Instagram. Tweets if I remember. That many people in such a small area tends to lead to mobile issues, so it’s a ‘when it works’ scenario.

The week after that, we hang for a bit longer then come home. That review day (October 18th) will be a write up of all the things I got up to and random thoughts on PAX Aus 2019.

After that, the site will return to normal. For a given amount of normal anyway 😀

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

PAX Aus is coming – and I am ready for PAX XP again!

Who else is interested in joining forces for PAX XP?

PAX Aus is getting closer. Just look at the countdown if you aren’t sure how close :p

PAX XP is apparently a little different this year. I haven’t seen anything official from the PAX Aus group yet, but I have had a look at the buzz from PAX West.

Last year, the prize for completing the AR game was a mug. OK, not the biggest prize to go nuts over, but it sits with my collection and is used constantly. It is a pretty nice mug to have my coffee from 🙂

This year, there are also trophies for PAX XP. Yep, Achievements/Trophies have hit PAX Aus!

On your badges this year is your own PAX QR code, and one of the first trophies you got was to scan yourself in. At PAX West, there were also two teams that collectively all PAX XP participants earned points towards to see which team won.

The individual pieces combine to create a custom image for each event
My prize from last year - a mug 🙂 Considering the merch cost, not a small prize!

Now, I am not 100% sure if this model will be followed by PAX Aus, but as they are so close together I would be rather surprised if they weren’t. I can confirm that this years badge has the code, as I got mine yesterday 😀 And yes, I was useless at work for about 15 minutes afterwards, I was so buzzed!

Last year after posting the completed image, I had a few people contact me for help finding certain codes. It was great actually meeting up with a few of them to help them find the code and chat about their experiences.

That got me thinking. This year, I thought it might be fun to create a JohnHQLD PAX Aus XP group. What do you think?

I was thinking of creating a closed Facebook group and we can mark down the individual locations as we find them. If there are trophies, maybe even make a trophy unlock list as well.

What I don’t want to do is post the actual QR code in the group. A big part of the fun is exploring all of PAX after all. A couple of people didn’t even realise that some areas existed!

If this is something you think you would like to join, hit like on the Facebook post or down below. If there is interest, I will create a group end of next week and post a link to it 🙂

Until PAX Aus,

JohnHQLD

And a new look commences!

JohnHQLD Logo

Hopefully you will all see the changes!

Happy Saturday everyone!

I haven’t been able to get in as many games this week as I have hoped, but I have been busy in other ways.

Have you noticed the improvements to the site speed?

Hopefully that will fix the loading issues that have been creeping in.

Now for a relaxing weekend. Maybe catch a movie! Have a great weekend everyone 😀

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

So R18+ still means something different for games in Australia

Once again, proof that our government doesn’t entirely give us what we ask for.

A few years ago, games lobbyists in Australia seemed to finally have a win in regards to adult content in games. By adult content, I am not talking about porn in video games, but adult topics that are shown on primetime TV and movies.

But as I discussed last year with the refusal of classification of We Happy Few, what we can see on TV for 20+ years still isn’t acceptable for games.

A large part of this is because games are still thought of as politicians as a child’s pastime. The fact that repeated surveys show the average age of gamers in Australia is closer to 35 than 15 doesn’t seem to be a factor in changing the rules.

The description is that same as for films, but it's not the case

What we got was the R18+ rating, sure. On the surface what we asked for. What we didn’t get was a change to the rules for Refusing Classification – the regulations that banned more games than the lack of an ‘adult only’ rating.

Like Fallout 3 years ago, We Happy Few was refused classification last year because of drug use. Not just drug use, but the fact you are seen by the rules as rewarded for taking drugs. If you look at the context of the game, this is not the case, and the classification was revised.

This was still an issue more than 10 years ago. How?

The change was only skin deep.

An update is coming for We Happy Few that required the game to resubmitted. Now the original Refused Classification rules have come back into play.

DayZ, a zombie survival shooter that has been digitally available for years, has been refused classification. Why? Because the players could use marijuana. And the bigger joke was marijuana didn’t do anything yet – the devs hadn’t implemented the feature.

Today this has been revised because the devs changed the game to remove the drug.

Don’t misunderstand, rating DayZ R18+ because of illegal drug use I consider reasonable. What isn’t is that adults can watch shows like Weeds or Narcos as a choice.

The problem is the base rules for refusing classification didn’t change. So if you have a game aimed at children where they get medicine from their parent to heal boo-boos, and that shows incentivized drug use. The refused classification verdict must be handed down.

DayZ. I never played it, but why should grown adults be refused the choice?

Why are you talking about We Happy Few again?

I keep talking about We Happy Few, and that is for a good reason. The gameplay is similar to A Clockwork Orange, considered a film masterpiece. But add ‘Hit X to take Joy’, and all bets are off.

Both A Clockwork Orange and We Happy Few are a known quantity to the mainstream, so that makes it handy as a quick example. But what about the last few weeks?

Rocksteady has been refused classification for Bonaire – and we don’t even know what it is. The thinking was a Red Dead Redemption 2 expansion, but only Rocksteady knows for sure.

Another high profile game coming up with various drug use is Cyberpunk 2077. With this recent spate of refusals, there is once again a genuine chance Australians will not be able to play it. Legally, anyway.

Cyberpunk 2077 Paramedics
Not the drug use the board is worried about, but drugs are a huge part of the Cyberpunk RPG

The biggest joke to me? I don’t even play We Happy Few. Reviews came out that things weren’t great, so I didn’t play it. I was going to play it sometime on Game Pass, but it looks like that might not happen now.

But it’s only a few games – what’s the problem?

Yes, it’s only a few games. There are so many other vitally essential fights happening at the moment. But it also shows what the Australian government and we as people have become. The message we sent previously was to rate interactive media (video games) the same as film and literature. What we got was a rating (yay) that because of a completely different set of rules means nothing. It was lip service to the majorities wishes.

It’s the same as when you only have $50, and a salesman offers you a new Tesla for half price. It doesn’t matter what the price is. I don’t have the money. Make the game adults only? That’s fine, but because the classification board can’t classify the game, it doesn’t matter what the rating is.

And if the government does this for simple things, think about what they do for things that matter. Yes, this is a political rant. But if you think I am picking on a party, remember that we didn’t get R18+ for years because of one man – South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson. He didn’t want it, so it didn’t happen. What finally got through was a flawed bill that showed action but did nothing.

Sure it would be nice, but you can do a lot with the asking price

The video game rating issue demonstrates beautifully has become of the Australian political system. And everyone in the system seems to be fighting tooth and nail to keep it that way.

So what can we do about this?

We need to be aware that the Australian system has problems. Australia has the most closed democracy system anywhere. We are one of the few democracies that doesn’t have protected freedom of speech for its population. For politicians, there is protection.

The party system has demonstrated more and more that the system is there for the politicians first. The NBN is a simple example of this. How much money has been wasted following the existing US system of multi-vendor technology?

New Zealand proved that the original fibre plan costings were correct. Implementation was expensive to begin with but got cheaper as the rollout continued. New Zealand is now ranked 17th in the world for internet speeds. Australia is 50th and doesn’t meet the definition of ‘high-speed broadband’ anymore.

Now the fibre plan had problems as well, and this is important to remember. Because of Australia’s widely spread population, rural areas did need something else to connect them, but well over 90% of the country would have been better off. The people winning with the multi-vendor solutions? Companies, and mainly Telstra at that. Why is Telstra more important than 90% of the people the government is supposed to represent?

These are landline speeds. We are great at wireless speed, but think of mobile data plan costs.

I have given two examples of things that are important to me personally. Games are admittedly a luxury. Internet in today’s world is a need.

Look at what issues are important to you, and look at what your representative is doing about it. If you don’t know, ask. It is their job to answer you.

I’ve said it before and will continue to do so. If we can come together on the little things, imagine what we can do for the important ones. A simple view of democracy is majority rules, but the top 10% seems to be controlling this country.

OK, rant over. Back to games with tomorrows review 🙂

Until then,

JohnHQLD

Tetris 99 has a Fire Emblem Event starting tomorrow

Life is but a theme, doo wop doo wop…

Tetris 99 is one of the few games not on my phone I can pick up, play a round or two, and walk away feeling like I have played ‘a game’. This weekend, the sixth Maximus Cup is on, and this time it crosses over with Fire Emblem: Three Houses!

Winning the theme is simple – play and earn 100 points during the event. How do you earn points? Just play.

If you win a round, you will get 100 points instantly. One game, and a new shiny is yours!

From memory you get points for coming in the top 80, with more points the higher you place. This does make winning the prize more skill based, but one thing I love about Tetris is if you keep playing for the weekend, you are all but guaranteed to earn the points you need!

Oh yeah, another event just before I take off for a week!

The Splatoon theme is my favourite to date, and I am loving the fact I want to start playing Three Houses Sunday as I head over the ocean to New Zealand for work.

Obviously, this plan was supposed to be!

Are you going to join in? If you have Switch Online, Tetris 99 and entry is free!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

The Mandalorian and The Witcher 3 Switch release dates and more!

So many things going on!

So the relative drought of games releases lately is coming to an end. Gamescom announcements have been flying by my periphery this morning, and I don’t have the time to watch them all as they happen. Stupid day job :p

The Witcher 3 Switch Release Date Revealed

One notification that did grab my attention though was a hard release date for The Witcher 3 on Switch. October 15th is the day. The Tuesday after PAX Aus in fact. I don’t know why they didn’t highlight this in the new trailer though?

For me, I don’t know about buying it on Switch though. And it’s nothing to do with ‘graphical downgrade outrage’ or anything of the sort.

I have it on PC, and I still have to play it. I planned to replay the trilogy, maybe even recording the gameplay, but the timing is sucking. I also bought it on PS4 to try out console controls for the series. My planning was trying to work out if I played Cyberpunk 2077 on PC or Console.

Getting it on the Switch might mean I get to play it. Even though I wanted to finish Final Fantasy X by now, the fact I have been able to take it with me or play it on the couch means I am about 20 hours further in than I would be. And that’s the appeal of ‘Switcher’ for me – I will finally get to play it!

Disney+ is coming to Australia in the first run – and it brings The Mandalorian!

In another bit of news released recently, the new streaming behemoth Disney+ has a launch date. And that date is November 12th.

Usually, I would be looking at the date and thinking “That’s nice. The US gets the thing. When does it come to Australia?”. PlayStation Now and Google Stadia, I am looking at you!

This time though, Australia is in the first round of non-US releases. Australia and New Zealand will be getting the service by the end of November 2019!

Pricing wise, it looks good as well. $8.99 a month or $89 for an annual subscription. That’s a brilliant price to compete against pretty much anyone, and in Australia, it’s much cheaper than Netflix and Stan.

And one series that has always been a Day One launch title is The Mandalorian – I can’t wait to see what they are going to do with this series!

Because I don't already have a backlog of things to watch and play!

Iron Harvest, the RTS in the Scythe universe, has a release date as well!

A while ago, I backed Iron Harvest. It was basically a no brainer for me. A real time strategy game based on the same world as Scythe? OH HELL YEAH.

With all of my time juggling, I haven’t had a chance to sit with the Alpha build I got as a backer, which has been dissapointing. But I have been sitting back and waiting, madly hoping that this and Phoenix Point don’t release at the same time!

Don’t know what I am talking about? Have a look at this mornings new Gamescom trailer below!

Until then, I still need to finish XCom 2’s War of the Chosen expansion. Maybe over the holiday break?

What news has been coming out that has you excited? Let me know in the comments, Facebook or #JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

I finally updated my Beat Saber playlist!

Beat Saber Wouldn't you just duck

It’s hard to have the ‘complete’ playlist if you forget to update it!

A while ago, I created a Spotify playlist for Beat Saber. It’s incredible how often when listening to it during the day, and I catch myself moving my hands to hit the beats.

The last time I updated the soundtrack was when the Monstercat pack came out. It wasn’t until the drive into work yesterday I realised I hadn’t added Imagine Dragons!

So, that is now corrected, and the playlist is back to being complete 😀

You can browse the playlist below, or if there are any issues follow the Spotify link here.

Enjoy!

JohnHQLD

Teburu – the future of gaming, or a niche assistance?

If you don’t like apps in your games, Teburu is going to make you really mad

Gaming apps. A phrase that some gamers want to love, and some love to hate.

I quite like some apps. Chronicles of Crime and Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game are excellent examples of games that include gameplay not possible with digital assistance.

But that is the keyword – assistance. If I want to play a video game, I will play a video game. Some apps mean well, but add very little to the experience. The whole thing is very hit and miss.

One of the first digital apps I tried to embrace was the Zombicide Companion App. People were enjoying the game, but a few had complaints about the amount of ‘little things’ they had to track with their characters. I was hoping that the companion app would help alleviate this. Spoiler alert – I was wrong.

As you still had to play wiht the cards physically, it was just doubling up on a lot of the admin

Some apps only try and help with one small facet of a game. For example, the 7 Wonders scoresheet app. And help it does. 7 Wonders scoring is almost a science unto itself when beginning to learn the game.

But there have been some great examples of apps that blur the line between tabletop and video games. Mansions of Madness 2nd edition, for example, made it possible for me actually to play as the player for a change. I did not always have to be ‘the bad guy’, which opened up a lot of new gameplay chances for me. In all of the games of Mansions of Madness I had played, I had never been a player character. Now thanks to the app, I can play Mansions by myself if I want!

I no longer have to spend an hour alone setting everything up thanks to the Mansions app

CMON and Xplored have taken the app ‘games master’ one step further. With the assistance of app integration, NFC and Bluetooth technology, the vision is you can play your game and have all of the admin done for you.

Introducing Teburu, the tabletop gaming console that CMON and Xplored hope ushers in a new age for tabletop gamers.

On the surface, I love the idea. The idea itself is far from new. Years ago, when the Microsoft Surface was still a tabletop computer concept design, developers showed off the possibility of playing Dungeons and Dragons with the tabletop being an interactive map that recognised your miniatures.

Teburu doesn’t seem to be going quite so far, but the basics are all there. You have an app on your phone with your characters information such as stats, inventory, etc. A central app keeps track of all other aspects of gameplay – enemy positions, line of sight rules, objectives, everything.

One advantage Teburu has over a lot of concepts I have seen are physical dice you roll and don’t have to tell the app the results. It might not sound like much, but having to stop to type in your rolls all the time sucks. Now, I am a little worried about the dice needing a charge halfway through a game, but that is a small price to pay.

The mat becomes a large sensor so that it knows the position and orientation of your pieces

There are a lot of games that can benefit from this type of system, and CMON makes a lot of them. Dungeon Crawlers is a genre that suffers from a lot of admin minutiae that stops you just having fun. Having something that takes care of all that math is appealing for a lot of players.

I am a little torn of the existence of Teburu. On the one hand, I admire the tech and passion involved in its design. It also allows for more social gaming, as you are still playing a physical game with your friends. Because the app takes care of the rules, ‘House Rule’ arguments and the like will be minimised as well.

I am hoping that this concept is successful, but I also hope that this technology will be available to other companies as well. Fantasy Flight could expand its existing app game lineup with the Teburu expansions, for example. Other games, like Betrayal at House on the Hill, would be so much easier for new players. The Betrayer would have their information and can see hidden rules on their phone, and the whole ‘What does this mean’ argument becomes invalid immediately as the app won’t let them make illegal moves.

Another thing I will be wary on is how fragile the system will be. Not in use, but storing and unfolding the base over and over.

Of course, this is probably going to cost a pretty penny. While described as a console that other games work with, the initial cost will likely be reasonably steep. If you aren’t a fan of CMON games in general or only really love one of their games, the investment may be too much.

I am still waiting to hear some feedback after the Teburu being shown at Gen Con 2019 with the new Zombicide, but I will be following the development news closely.

There have been hints and teases of other compatible games, such as the upcoming Project: Elite and even the newly revealed Ankh. I expect a lot of this information to continue to firm up before the Teburu Kickstarter alongside Zombicide Evolution – Las Vegas next year.

What about you? Do you like the idea of game apps in general? Do you like the idea of the Teburu, or do you think it’s going too far? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD