Movie Theory: The 2018 Movie Manatees!

So last year I wrote up the 2017 T-Man Movie Awards and talked about some of my favorite movies of the year in a wide variety of categories. This year I ended up naming my gaming superlatives the Manatees (see here and here, with special thanks to my good friend HarveyZ) and it seemed a shame to not also do awards for 2018 movies as well. Since I was struggling with a name for them last year, I might as well adopt my gaming name for movies as well. I will mostly be using the same categories as last year, with a few changes here and there. Some categories will have runners-up if I felt like there were multiple movies that were worth mentioning – others will only have one if they were particular standouts or if nothing else really impressed me enough to be mentioned.

Without further ado, I present to you TMan’s Movie Manatees for 2018!

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4X: Excite, Excel, Exhaust, Exclude?

Yesterday my friends and I had a snowy day to contend with and we passed the time by playing a board game. It’s a game called Scythe that I got as a gift from my girlfriend for Christmas. Scythe is described as a 4X board game – and just in case you didn’t listen to last week’s podcast, 4X stands for Explore, Expand, Exploit, and Exterminate. You explore a map, expand your empire, exploit the land for resources, and exterminate your rival empires.

These types of strategy games are found in both the spheres of both board and video games. Classic examples of 4X video games include the Civilization series, the Masters of Orion series, Endless Space, and Stellaris. Examples of 4X board games include the aforementioned Scythe, Civilization: The Board Game, Twilight Imperium, and Clash of Cultures.

4X games often take a very long time to play – I’ve personally spent a whole day playing Civilization 5 on the computer and not finished the game, and it took two long gaming sessions to finish one game of a board game version. This is because there are often a lot of intersecting mechanics and choices you have to make and since it is a strategy game there are lots of considerations to make every time it is your turn. Also because there is a lot of information to cover, the first time you play such a game it will take a lot longer to set up and understand.

I really enjoyed playing Scythe with my friends and am already eager to try it again. However, when I’m faced with a 4X video games I often shy away from them aside from the Civilization series. So why is 4X more palatable to me in board game form over video games? That’s what I’m going to explore and expand upon (get it?) in this article.

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Overwatch & LGBT+ Representation

Soldier 76 is gay. Blizzard has now revealed both of what would be considered the “primary” Overwatch characters to be LGBT+. The first reveal was Tracer being in a lesbian relationship in a comic, and now Soldier 76 through the short story Bastet. Tracer is the face of Overwatch – she’s on the box when you buy it and was the primary good guy of the very first Overwatch short. And Soldier 76 is the grizzled veteran who is who you control when you boot up the tutorial in Overwatch and is considered to be one of the easiest and most basic characters to introduce you to the game.

Blizzard has been very inclusive with Overwatch with characters of all different races hailing from all different countries. Aside from the continued controversy over a lack of a playable black female character, the representation has been wide enough to include most everyone. So it’s no surprise that some of the characters are LGBT+.

But the question I pose with this article is: is Overwatch gay enough? Is Blizzard taking the right approach to sexual representation in their game, or is this more of an appeal to the masses for good press?

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After The Hype: The Witcher 3

So this past weekend I started playing Witcher 3 for the first time. I read The Last Wish (the first chronological book in the Witcher series, although it is a collection of short stories and not a full novel) for a book club my friends and I participate in. The characters and world building were enough to intrigue me and finally got enough of my attention to actually start the Witcher 3. I’d bought the complete edition for PS4 during a sale who knows how long ago and it’s been sitting on my shelf as a “to play” game for a long time.

Despite it getting rave reviews and it winning a ton of Game of the Year awards back in 2015, I was never super jazzed about the game. I’d played the Witcher 2 on the XBox 360 and finished the first chapter, but I didn’t end up completing the game. I don’t remember a lot about the story (other than Triss was there and Geralt was in a town doing witcher things) and I ended up dropping it in favor of other games. It always struck me as generic fantasy – well done and in an interesting world – but generic fantasy nonetheless.

I watched everyone rave about how good it was and how the sidequests and stories were very well developed and meaningful. But I was hesitant to jump in since I knew I’d already given up on Witcher 2 and I have a low tolerance for generic high fantasy worlds. But nonetheless I ended up with a copy of it since it’s reputation was so strong and it just laid in wait until I was inspired enough to play it.

Which is apparently now. So for today’s article I’m going to talk a little bit about my first few hours of Witcher 3…just three and a half years later than everybody else did.

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Choice Paralysis: Video Game Edition

For 2019 I’ve made several resolutions – many of which are directly related to my writing. One of them is just quantity. I started off 2018 with the goal of 3 blog posts a week, which I kept to for about a month and change. By the end of the year I was getting two to three a month done which is still good (because I was still writing!) but not an output amount I felt good about.

Part of my writing problem is I feel everything article I write on here has to have a definitive point. It has to either be a review or an in-depth analysis or a summary of games I’ve been playing. Sometimes I have a lot of topics I really want to write about but can’t decide on one, or I wait for that “moment of inspiration” that drives me to choose one out of a hat. And because of these factors sometimes I never write at all.

This leads into the topic that I’m writing about today that applies to my writing, video games, and life in general: choice paralysis AKA analysis paralysis.

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The 2018 Manatees – Writing Edition!

Last Friday on a bonus episode of the Make Me A Gamer Podcast, I doled out the first-ever Manatees (T-Man, manatee, get it?) to some of the games I really enjoyed this year. But I also wanted to write up a companion article to expand a little bit on all the games I talked about and a few I didn’t get to on the podcast.

In the podcast I go over a lot of the technical and mechanical details as to why I enjoyed the game, but in this piece I wanted to go a little more into the feelings and emotional side of the games. I’ve gotten into a habit of writing about and reviewing games from a detached, matter-of-fact standpoint instead of really exploring how games make me feel. Sometimes a game just has that je ne sais quoi and grabs you from the beginning and never lets go.

So here are TMan’s 2018 Manatees in article format. Hope you enjoy, and happy new year!

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What I’ve Been Playing – October 2018

Well it’s November now, and that means it’s time for a recap of what I played in October. Much like September was spent primarily playing Spider-Man, I spent the majority of October playing Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. I posted my review of it last week and you can find it here. Since I already talked in-depth about it, I won’t be including it on my “games I played in October” list since I’d just be retracing my footsteps over topics I already discussed.

However, despite me putting 80 hours into Assassin’s Creed, I still managed to find time to play a few other games. I played a few levels of Mega Man 11 on the Switch, and that wasn’t the only side-scroller I got into. I also played Castlevania Requiem, which is the rerelease of Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night. I also spent a little bit of time in Dark Souls Remastered. Finally, I played a really interesting game called Return of the Obra Dinn and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Toby Fox’s fantastic (and free!) follow-up to Undertale – Deltarune.

So let’s dive in and talk about some games!

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