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Personal Blog

Diablo II came to me back in 2003 and whilst I was a little late in getting into it, I still enjoyed it as though it was the latest game to come out. It is still one of my most played game of all time. I had hours of enjoyment out of that game and it didn't stop after one competition. No, in fact, I have 'completed' Diablo II about a dozen times with new builds each time.

My favourite class was either the Druid or Sorceress or even the Necromancer. Normally, I would be the assist character in the party. One of the things I liked most about Diablo II was that you would have a very diverse party. When I played recently with my buddy Campbell, he went as the Paladin. When I played with my brother he was a Barbarian. When I played with my old friend Nick, he was a Sorceress (and he would constantly spam Ice Blasts dealing hundreds of damage at a time). 

But when Blizzard announced the game was being remastered I was, much like with Warcraft III: Reforged, over the moon!

I still play Diablo II, and that happens almost every year that goes by, but it's getting increasingly difficult to run. Recently I had an issue with my latest graphics card not being supportive of me wanting to play the game, even after running the D2VidTest.exe file that normally fixes these issues.

A remaster would definitely lift these issues and fix the problems that I encounter. 

What worries me most

What worries me the most about this is that we have another Warcraft III: Reforged whereby the game became unplayable and it was almost impossible to go back (I say almost because I have over 30GB of Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne installations from version 1.21 up to 1.31). 

Diablo II: Resurrected deserves to be perfect on launch day and not a mess like Reforged was on its launch day. So come on Blizzard, make sure it is perfect!

Posted by J B Balfour in Gaming
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blizzard
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2017 has been quite a good year for gaming but no one more so than Nintendo, at least for me.

Nintendo's two biggest releases this year have both been incredible. I'm talking about Breath of the Wild and Mario Odyssey and then let's not forget the launch of the Switch itself. 

I have spoken to loyal PS4 and Xbox One players and within both groups I have found quite a few of them were really wanting to own a Nintendo console for the first time for Breath of the Wild. To me, this marks a change because it was down to Nintendo marketing properly again. The Switch brings a fresh new Nintendo that feels more like the original Nintendo that disappeared in 2006 with the release of the Wii and one that isn't focused only on family games.

Yes, Nintendo have the year. There's no doubt.

Posted by J B Balfour in Gaming

The Nintendo Switch, the console Nintendo could not afford to go wrong with, especially after learning that the hard way with the Wii U's failure. 

However, I believe Nintendo may go wrong again, and I'm disappointed to see my childhood gaming company make the error again.

If you haven't already heard about the Switch, head on across to Trusted Reviews to see all the information about it.

A lot was good:

  • The portability is awesome. I love the fact that I take home my games console and plug it into my TV then take it with me for the bus. 
  • It's Nintendo, which means some of the most awesome games will come to it
  • It's going to support Unreal Engine 4 - that's pretty demanding.
  • It's so flexible! I also love the fact that you can disconnect controllers and change things around so much.
  • Nintendo will final comply with standards and I will be able to use the USB Type C connector for my laptop to charge it

I will summarise what's wrong with it, and this is my opinion:

  • Underpowered. We have seen devices like the new Razer Blade Stealth (amongst many others) adding PCI-Express graphics cards to laptops when they are docked via Thunderbolt. Nintendo could surely have looked into this and made the Switch a 4K gaming experience when it's in the dock and then used a smaller less capable and yet more power efficient graphics chip when it's out and about, couldn't they?
  • Overpowered. Seems like a contradiction but I wanted to put that there because the Switch seems to suffer from the same problem that the Wii U Gamepad did. Battery life. How on earth can the Wii U Gamepad only last on battery for three hours when an iPad or even an iPhone can last for up to ten?! The thing only receives a wireless signal with a picture to display and the audio to play with it (as well as act as a controller). And what's worse is the low resolution (especially compared to tablets of today) of the Gamepad. Well, the same is said about the Switch which can last 6 and 1/2 hours playing games, except that it ranges from just two hours with games like Zelda only achieving about that. THAT'S IT?!
  • Storage, or the lack of. 32GB of storage is still the best option for 2017?! And knowing Nintendo, it will use eMMC memory which will make it a slow 32GB of storage.  
  • The price, at £300 I would expect a bit more, especially saying as you can get something like an iPad or Xbox One for just a little more, even if they haven't got Mario and Zelda on them.

Feel free to criticise my opinion and write your thoughts below.

Posted by J B Balfour in Gaming
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With Pokémon Sun and Moon just around the corner I felt that it was high time that I compiled a top ten list of the worst Pokémon in terms of design. Remember, this is opinion based. Disagree all you like but it will not change the fact that this is my opinion.

I think my list does pretty much summarise the worst designs and names, and I think it goes to show just how bad it's getting over time. My list is only the top ten, I'd like to say that other Pokémon deserve to be in here too such as Magmortar, Diggersby, Probopass and Binacle. 

#10 - Escavalier

Escavalier

I'm just not a fan of either Escavalier or Accelgor. Escavalier (for those who do not know, cavalier is French for a knight or mounted warrior) is the combination of a cavalier and Excalibur (King Arthur's sword). The Pokémon has two jousting lances, which just look ridiculous in the first place, and is encased in armour not too unlike that which cavaliers would have worn. Just silly and uncreative. 

#9 - Machop, Machoke and Machamp

Machoke

These humanoid Pokémon really make me angry and always have. The very fact is they are based entirely on humans. The name is even pathetic, since macho is a word in English which just means 'tough'. They even wear a pair of underwear and have slick back hair. All in all, Machoke is my least favourite of this family since it really does resemble a human far too much.

#8 - Purugly

Purugly

I hate cat like Pokémon in general, since all of them are incredibly boring. None quite make it to the same ranks as Purugly. It's name is just atrocious; a terrible combination of pur (like a cat) and ugly. And it is ugly. This Pokémon shows absolutely no signs of unique or fresh and really just adds another silly cat Pokémon.

#7 - Cofagrigus

Cofagrigus

A sarcophagus/coffin Pokémon?! In fact, a possessed coffin now makes a Pokémon. I hate the pre-evolution, Yamask, just as much as this, but I pick on this because firstly, it looks childish and pathetic and secondly because this is just pure lazy. I imagine this all the time to reside in Gobi's Valley in Banjo-Kazooie back on the N64, but not in Pokémon.

#6 - Garbodor

Garbodor

Okay, a pile of rubbish is now a Pokémon?! This Pokémon is trash. It's design is horrible. It looks like a combination of a bin liner (garbage bag) and rubbish that's spewing out of it. It's name is terrible too: a combination of garbage and odor. 

I can tell you, I would never be a proud owner having this pile of rubbish as my Pokémon.

#5 - Klinklang

Klinklang

A rip off of the original Magnemite family but looks even worse. Magnemite and co are one of thos families who really look awful, but Klinklang and just feel like somebody thought "you know what, we'll rip of the crappy Magnemite family and make a new range of crappy Pokémon". 

Klinklang is a terrible name too - a combination of klink and klang, two sounds associated with metal hitting together. 

#4 - Chandelure

Chandelure

A fecking possessed chandelier?! Really just when you didn't think it could get any worse (well you probably did since you are reading towards the worst Pokémon design ever) we get Chandelure. This Pokémon's name is a combination of chandelier and lure since being a Ghost type Pokémon it lures others. Who enjoys fighting using a chandelier then?! 

This Pokémon's typing is great since Fire and Ghost is a rare combo, but since it's ugly design (and it's family aren't any better) I just refuse to use it.

#3 - Klefki

Klefki

Another 'possessed object Pokémon'. Yeah right! Game Freak once again ran out of ideas and when one of the creators of these Pokémon got into his car and started the ignition suddenly came up with the idea that we could really use a keychain Pokémon. No bleeding way. 

Game Freak still brought it in and we now have our third possessed Pokémon in the list. Another absolutely waster of a Pokémon. 

#2 - Honedge

Honedge

Alas, Game Freak, the creator of some of the most successful games ever, decides to continue to shoot itself on the foot with the introduction of Honedge. This is one of the worst names ever. Hone, which literally means to refine or sharpen in the case of a blade, mixed with edge, specifically talking about the edge of the blade. It's evolution's names are just as bad. The name Doublade (double blade) and Aegislash (Aegis was the name of Zeus' shield in Greek Mythology and slash mixed into one). 

Anyway, once again we have another 'possessed object Pokémon'. This is another one the developers thought to look to the real world and just cheaply use an object and claim it to be possessed.

#1 - Vanilluxe

Vanilluxe

Woohoo! Number 1! 

I absolutely hate Vanilluxe. This Pokémon has the most childish design of all Pokémon, fails to introduce anything non-real world, and is just beyond belief pure lazy. I despise this Pokémon, and not just because it's an Ice Pokémon, but because this Pokémon is just awful. The name, which appears to be a combination of both vanilla and deluxe, is pathetic. "I'll have a deluxe vanilla ice cream please". Deluxe appears to have been stuck in here also since this is a tertiary evolution, making it the 'deluxe model of the family'.

Who would want to fight using an ice cream?! And how on earth is it so powerful; Vanilluxe has the highest base stat of any non-legendary Ice-typed Pokémon?! 

It's design is awful, obviously appearing to be like an ice cream cone with two wafers in it's head and then a giant cone shape for holding at the bottom. Honestly, when I saw this Pokémon I laughed and shed a tear at the same time - I literally froze and double checked what I had seen was correct.

I'd like to thank Calum for unintentionally suggesting I write this post.

Posted by J B Balfour in Gaming
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Blizzard's Warcraft III may be over 14 years old, but I still consider this to be the best game of all-time and I still put a lot of time into developing for it.

Many years ago, in the high time of Warcraft III's lifetime, a scenario (or a mod as some may know it) was released called Spellcraft. For years, new versions have been scarce and it's not possible to edit the map file with the World Editor since the original owners locked it. 

As a result of all of the lack of openness, modular design and modern features, I am bringing a new scenario known as Heroes of Dalaran. This scenario is in many ways similar to Spellcraft in that uses the same system to generate the spells. I have a working prototype of this map and it currently features Gladiator Mode from Spellcraft and a new Research Mode (users can investigate spell combinations here) and Strife Mode is well underway.

The core focus of Heroes of Dalaran is the modularity of the triggers - something that many maps out there do not consider. I am also trying to make it open to development, and while I know Warcraft III has fewer users than ever since Starcraft II's success took many of us away, I do believe that it could be a fantastic scenario that everyone can enjoy. 

There is a page dedicated to this now on my website here.

Posted by J B Balfour in Gaming
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As you are maybe aware, Microsoft announced Project Scorpio at E3 a few days back; a second iteration of the Xbox One with more power and capabilities of 4K video output that will also includes 4K games. However, some of us will be disappointed Microsoft is making games specifically for the new console.

My brother used to argue that the Xbox is great because all you do is press a single switch and it's on in a few seconds and because it didn't need upgrading every four or so years. In direct comparison to my 2011 and 2013 PCs, the time for the Xbox One start up is actually about 3 or 4 seconds longer than them. So this argument is now void. The argument about upgrading has also become invalid due to Scorpio

Another argument was the lack of exclusive and fresh games on PC, but I think Steam has since taken care of this. And a lot of Xbox exclusives such as Titanfall have since come to PC. Microsoft also announced that many new 'exclusives' would now come to PC too.

So really, what is the difference between the Xbox One and your gaming PC?

The Xbox One is an x86 based machine, running Windows under the hood, and games at less than 1080p. So it's the same architecture as your PC. Why would you really bother with a system that doesn't do half of what your gaming PC can do? 

The controller, right? I do admit the controller for the Xbox One is amazing (it's why I chose it over the PS4). But wait, what's that you say? You can use your controller with your PC?! Indeed. This is a crucial point to me, since there are games that I would rather play with a controller such as GTA V, but then there are other games I'd still rather have my WASD key combination for.

So now the Xbox One will be a PC you cannot upgrade yourself but will need to update by buying a new one every few years, am I right? Well this is what Scorpio makes it look like. 

So give me one argument for why an Xbox One is better than a PC. I really am having a hard time trying to figure out why I bought an Xbox One, since I've not enjoyed many of the games I own so far. 

Please note, this post is not a criticism of the Xbox One, more of it's upgrade strategy.  

Posted by J B Balfour in Gaming
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Five years after the last update to Diablo II, the fans get an update that makes this amazing game compatible with Windows 10 and Mac OS X 10.10 and 10.11. This came as a shock to me and hundreds of other fans across the world who adore this game as much as I do. 

The game which is 16 years old has long had problems with not working on modern operating systems, so this update is a hugely welcomed update. This really shows the commitment that Blizzard have to their fanbase more than anything, and what a commitment this is too.

Posted by J B Balfour in Gaming
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Very recently I created an online tool for converting Spellcraft elements into the spells that Spellcraft uses. It's reasonably simple but none the less I find it really useful. You can find it here.

My converter

Posted by J B Balfour in Gaming
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warcraft
3
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translator

So I was somewhat disappointed by the latest Nintendo Direct, but two things stood out.

I particularly liked the re-releases of Pokemon Red, Blue and Yellow and the HD remake of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, which just so happens to be my favourite console game ever. I was also taken in by the trailers for the new Xenoblade and Starfox games.

I was also obviously interested in the Smash Bros content that is to be released, but was slightly disappointed to see Final Fantasy becoming a part of Smash Bros. None-the-less, any new content for the game is always good (but more money that needs spent, sadly).

Posted by J B Balfour in Gaming
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Whilst PlayStation Home may have been one of those games you maybe didn't think much of, it was a hugely popular game, racking up 31 million users (March 2013, according to Wikipedia). 

PS Home was one of my favourite things on PS3 and sadly it's about to come to an end. On March 31st 2015, PS Home will be retired for once and for all. To some this is very sad.

I bought just a few things throughout the time I spent on PS Home, but those few things were enjoyed by myself along with others greatly. 

Sadly, this is another PlayStation game service that is about to lose it's online play, just as MGS4 did a couple of years back (only two months after I bought the map pack for the game it was announced that it was to close - I was not happy).

Posted by J B Balfour in Gaming
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