Just Another Update!

So, I’m a person, and I do things. This is crazy news I know, but now I’m going to write this to discuss said things with you.

Weird starts aside, hey, its been a while. I’ve been insanely busy over the last few months with some things, Firstly, I think in the last post I made I talked about how Fluid Flow in my Uni course was going terribly. Well, it turns out that I managed to get 66% in the final exam, so needless to say I’m glad that’s out the way!

Uni’s been taking up most of my time recently come to think of it, between lab reports, studying for exams, studying for class tests, trying to revise things I’m not sure on, its probably the hardest I’ve ever worked for something…well ever. It is paying off though, the lab reports are a pain in the arse, but the studying is working, I just recently did a class test for Chemical Principles and Thermodynamics, got 62% for CP and 89% for Thermo, so I must be doing something right!

I’m also playing A LOT of games. I mean that shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone who follows me on twitter, I constantly talk about games, and game news and shit, but I’ve been playing a lot more than usual. Still get an hour or so of Rebirth in every day naturally, but I’ve been doing a lot of multiplayer gaming recently, between Robot Roller-Derby Disco Dodgeball, Minecraft and GTA V, I might actually *gasps* have friends. I know, crazy right?

Apart from that, I’ve not got much of particular interest coming up. I still try to stream on my twitch as regularly as I can, which as of late has been not at all really. I also have a few ideas for videos for my YouTube channel that I’m working on, so be sure to keep an eye out for them!

Another couple of things to mention, Kaitlin Witcher, who is one of my favourite YouTubers is coming to the UK next month, as far as I’m aware she’s planning on coming to Scotland, so that’s something exciting for me! I’ve also bought a ticket for something called CoxCon. For those that don’t know, Jesse Cox is a YouTuber that does primarily gaming content, and he lives in the US. However, he’s hosting this convention to meet his UK fans, and he’s bringing another few cool special guests, so I decided to get a ticket! I’m really looking forward to that, its pretty small, for a convention, so it’ll be a good one for my first con.

Last thing, I’m going to Portugal in June, and I’m really fucking excited for that! 10 days in a Portuguese villa might be exactly what I need to relax myself, so I’m looking forward to that!

Apart from all that, there’s nothing else really to report. I broke up with my girlfriend just over a month ago, so that’s a thing to probably mention too, but honestly nothing else of note has happened recently, but we have an exciting future ahead of us this year!

Thanks for reading,
Adam Gaffney

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Defining A Game

So, I’ve been doing some thinking about this, as it is something that has been very prominent in recent years with regards to PC gaming specifically, and I think its still a very subjective topic. The question is: how do you define what is and isn’t a game?

There are a few factors that I feel affect this, and it is something that I think can still be further discussed and refined. It is also a discussion that needs to be had, as there is still a negative connotation surrounding things that are regarded as not games, but as “interactive experiences(IE’s)”, and honestly, there’s nothing negative about this at all. An interactive experience can be a good medium for someone to tell a story in a more visual way, but the interactivity still has to enhance the experience in some way.

To give some examples, Dear Esther is one that people often refer to as an interactive experience, and in a very negative way. I personally found Dear Esther to be a really good looking IE, and I think a lot of people did actually, but the story was pretty lackluster, and often it was very easy to miss some parts of the story because you didn’t explore a certain path. This is a very good IE to have this discussion about, because it raises the point of giving an element of exploration to these. If the player just wants to go through looking at the pretty landscapes and listening to a story, should it be fair that they miss out on some explanations or story elements because of that? Honestly I’m not completely sure. The argument could be made that if the exploration is taken out of the IE, and the player is then forced down a single linear path listening to the story, is there any point in it not being a short film? However, the argument could also be made that in fact, having certain aspects missed can be a good thing, as you then go back into the world to figure out what else is going on.

However, in the example of Dear Esther, this was poorly implemented. The world was pretty yes, the Caves and the Moonlit Beach being two absolutely gorgeous looking areas, however it was not a world worth revisiting. This is partially due to the lackluster story, as well as the complete lack of, well, anything in the environment to interact with.

That’s not to say it can’t be done though, for example in the case of To The Moon. This is something that I think straddles the line, as there is explicit interaction in regards to collecting memories to time-hop, however there is no failure state, as the memories are very easy to locate, and there is no punishment for not getting them all, as you have infinite time to do so. To The Moon was very well received however, as it still felt like the player interactivity actually meant something. The story was excellent, and it was backed by a fantastic soundtrack, and this helped, but I’d still call it an Interactive Experience, and I don’t think many would argue otherwise. To The Moon was a fantastic showing of how a story can be told in such a format without making the player feel redundant. This is surprisingly difficult to achieve, as shown by the next game from Freebird Games, A Bird’s Story, which was criticised for having almost no interaction whatsoever, and while still having a great story, lacked what To The Moon had.

In this case, A Bird’s Story was only drawing a line between To The Moon and its true sequel, Finding Paradise, however, it still had the same standards imposed upon it, and it didn’t hold up. This shows how thin the line is, as there wasn’t much difference between To The Moon and A Bird’s Story besides the story, and yet the lack of interactivity was an issue for many.

I propose that we set out some sort of standard that we can all agree on, in order to try and truly define these interactive experiences, and show that they can be good in their own right, and maybe remove some of the stigma surrounding them. So here’s what I think the criteria something should need to meet in order to be classified as a game.

  • There must be a failure state, either explicit or implied. For example, an explicit failure state would be death in a shooter, while an implied failure state would be failing to “woo” a love interest in a dating simulator.
  • There must be a certain level of interactivity, such that replaying, whilst maybe having the same story, can have completely different game experiences. For example, doing a stealth run of Dishonored and then replaying by murdering everyone.

I think these two rules can definitely be expanded on, and there could be more additions to make the line clearer, but I feel this is the right step to showing that interactive experiences are not just failed games, but in fact are their own medium, and can be just as engaging as a game.

Things Have Been Hectic

So, as you can probably get from the Title, things have been rather busy for me recently. If you didn’t get that, you might as well give up reading just now to be honest, maybe just get a job throwing rocks at delinquents. Or licking cacti.

Now that they’re all gone, I’ve really not had a seconds peace the last two weeks. If I haven’t been buying presents I’ve been seeing my girlfriend, or seeing my Dad, or going out with friends, or studying for exams, or streaming when possible, or trying not to run out of money, or spending any small free time I have trying to 100% Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. I know half of that seems rather relaxing, but believe me, it most certainly is not.

For example, I had fun streaming games. I still do have fun streaming games, its great. But just the other day, this happened, and by god, that changed a lot. Within 1 minute of that tweet going out, I’d gained 15 twitter followers, 150 viewers, and 60 twitch followers. I all of a sudden had over 100 people watching me talk shite about a game at 1am. And I was loving it.

Believe it or not, the number actually lasted high for a while. It dropped below 50 after 2 hours of streaming, and ended on a solid 20, with the final count being an extra 64 twitch followers. I couldn’t believe what just happened. And not only was it amazing, but also terrifying. I now have 213 followers on twitch, and I barely get the chance to stream. I’ve been making an effort to stream more recently, but the problem is it came around Christmas time, and my dad was back, so naturally I’ve actually had less time than I would normally find myself with during a regular week.

So because of all this, I’m pushing myself to try to take any time I can to stream, as I don’t want all these people to forget me. For the love of god, I had 2 1M+ YouTubers watching, one actually lasting for 2 hours (Link here). I feel so lucky to maybe actually have a chance to take off on Twitch here, yet I also feel like I don’t have a chance in hell, because I cannot for the life of me find the time to bloody stream. This is becoming a serious dilemma for me, and I’m really unsure of what I should do at this stage. Obviously I will continue to stream, but what if everyone forgets about me in that time? Just some thoughts. I really want to capitalise on this opportunity Dan from Nerd³ gave me with this, but I don’t know if I’m too late or not.

Another thing is the fact that today was the first time I’d been on my PC since last Wednesday, LAST WEDNESDAY FOR CHRIST’S SAKE. I had Christmas obviously, then my girlfriend stayed through boxing day, we then went to her grans the 27th, and I stayed until this morning, well, technically yesterday morning now (morning of the 29th I’ll say). So this has put extra stress on the whole twitch thing. I’ve tried to stay on twitter as much as I can and keep people engaged with me, but there’s only so much you can do.

I’m also not sure what to do about uploading to YouTube again. I have a plan of action, a Vlog every second day, as an update thing, and a daily scheduled gaming video. But the problem is, I’m so busy with Twitch and everything else I cannot find any time to fit this in. I don’t want to just simply upload Twitch Highlights, as I want it to take on a life of its own, but I also don’t want to stop streaming, or even cancel seeing my friends to make time for everything.

Ultimately, I really see an opportunity here to really grow myself on the internet, and make myself known in the community, but I don’t know how to go about it, or if I’m just wasting my time. I will continue to do streaming as it is something I enjoy, but I don’t know how to pick up YouTube, and whether or not to try to make the extra time and effort to give to it, when I don’t know if it will give back or not. I feel like the only thing I can do is try.

So…

So hello there, I’ve not posted here in ages Jesus. I’ve been rather swamped recently due to a massive amount of Uni work and also trying to balance other things too, but hopefully I’ll be able to post more regularly. I’ve actually been working on another gaming post to stick in here, so look forward to that, should hopefully get that done within the next week.

anyway, this is just really a quick update as to what has been happening with me. There was one class in my course this semester, Fluid Flow and Heat Transfer, that I just really struggled with. Because of this, I’ve had to dedicate most of my spare time in trying to learn and understand everything we were taught. However, I’ve actually started to get it now thankfully, and because of this I’m able to give myself a bit more free time to do other things. Unfortunately that has eaten into most of my spare time, but not anymore!

In other news, I’ve been talking to the guy that runs the site I used to write for. He decided he wanted to make it just his own for a while while he figured out how he wanted to proceed, and he has now returned having completely redesigned the site, and asking about coming back. I’m glad to be going back to it again, although due to my many time constraints I don’t think I’m going to be writing reviews and articles for them, I’d prefer to do that here as it is less regular. However, I will be taking part in the podcasts and also possibly making YouTube reviews. Obviously, with me having done YouTubing for years now, I would like to think I know a good amount about how to do things, and I also have good editing software, so I’m hoping that’ll be a lot of fun!

I also tried to start up my vlogging channel again, I posted an update video about 2 weeks ago I believe, but honestly I don’t have the same passion for vlogging that I have for gaming. I feel like vlogging would be fun for if I’m away somewhere in particular, at conventions or for updates, but ultimately I just enjoy gaming too much that I often find myself procrastinating from vlogging to play Binding of Isaac: Rebirth or Civilization V. Because of this, I really don’t know if I’ll keep the vlogging channel going. However, I much prefer the “AdamGaffney96” twitter and “brand” name to GafferGames, so I’m wondering if I should maybe make it mainly a gaming channel with a bi-weekly vlog or something like that.

Anyway, this was my “short” update post, I’m going to try to post more here, keep you updated on YouTube and also the site, which by the way is found here, and yeah, thanks for reading, speak to you guys again soon!

Steam Music Player Summary

So, I’ve done a bit of playing about, and here is my summary of Steam Music.

HOW TO ADD MUSIC
– You can now add your music to Steam, in order to play it while in-game.
– Firstly, go to Steam, then Settings, then Music.
– You should see this
– Make sure to add the folder that contains your music if not already listed. (NOTE:Steam picks up all music files in bother the source folder, and any sub-folders. So organise as much as you like.)
Sub-point here, but all songs bought from iTunes must be converted to MP3, as M4a files are not compatible.
– Then click Crawl at Startup, this way every time Steam is opened, it will check for new songs in all folders listed. (NOTE: This does work over multiple drives, in case you have your music separated.)
– Once done, go to Library, and then Music.
– You will arrive at this page. (NOTE: Yours will say something like “Click here to crawl now.”, I just removed my folders for the purposes of showing it empty.)
– Click the Crawl Now button in the message, and it will automatically search all listed folders for music.
– Once this is done, all your music is now available in Steam!

USING NOT IN-GAME

 You can sort your music either by album or by artist.
– If you play an album, then you can add songs to the Queue, or alternatively, just create an entire queue of all your songs.
– There is no easy way to do this that I have found, you can only go through and add each album to the queue as you go.
– Clicking the “Play Next” button will add the album/tracks to play directly after the current song, not after the current queue. Add to queue is for this.
– Double clicking a song in the queue will not push it to the top, but instead, will simply play from that point onwards.
– Repeat and shuffle functions are available on the player, shuffling re-orders the songs in the playlist, so you know what is coming on next.
– The queue can be cleared by right clicking on any song, and selecting clear queue. The same way is used to remove one song.
– The “Show In System” button simply opens the location in Windows Explorer.
– On the Steam Page, where the you see this, clicking the musical note opens the queue.
– Once the last song in the queue ends, you must add more to the queue, or play another song in the queue to play the music. (NOTE: Using the Repeat button repeats the queue indefinitely, but no individual song, much like Spotify.)
– When Shuffle is activated, and Repeat is on, the playlist does not continuously reshuffle after every cycle, but plays the same order until re-shuffled manually. (NOTE: Shuffling again while a song is playing does not change the position of that song, only those around it.)

USING IN-GAME
NOTE: Everything stated above still applies, these are unique to in-game usage.

– When in-game, show your music queue by clicking the Music button, found at the bottom of the Steam overlay, between Web Browser and Settings. (NOTE: If music was started on the Desktop, and then a game is opened, the music player is automatically open in the overlay.)
– Currently, music in the queue can be removed, and the queue can be cleared, but music cannot be added without tabbing out and following the instructions above to add music to the queue. (NOTE: Some games on Steam crash when tabbed out from, so be careful when doing this, as your game may crash.)
– Music settings cannot be adjusted in game, and you must tab out in order to access them.

I believe that is everything for now, this system has pretty much just been added, so as more things are worked on with it, I will edit this post, so if you are interested, bookmark it.

I hope this helped, and happy listening!

The Importance of Music

Music is something that most people listen to in some form, no matter the genre, or if its just simple humming, music is a language everyone can speak. It can be used to communicate feelings, to get closure, or to just let you express your emotions in an easier form. Regardless, music can bring tears from a repressed memory, or it can bring happiness to anyone, it is something we all understand, and something that is vitally important in your growth as a person.

Music at the current time can probably be split into a thousand different genres, but whether you like Death Metal, Country, or Classical, the fact remains that you listen to it because you enjoy it. I happen to listen to all three genres mentioned, as well as many more, and while there are some types of music I do not enjoy, its easy to appreciate that some people may find enjoyment from it. This is because in the end, its not about a specific genre of music that evokes specific types of emotions. Yes this can happen, but most of the time, it’s not the type of music, but just the fact that it is music, that can make people happy.

I believe this is for the same reason that people enjoy films and games. Escapism. You can just sit back, and stick on a playlist, and pretend that the world isn’t there, and that everything is perfect. No matter what issues you may have in your life, when you put in those earphones, lie back and close your eyes, the whole world ceases to exists, at least for a while. Its perfect for stress relief, no matter what kind of stress you are having, as suddenly, at least for a few minutes, that is gone, and you can relax. That is possibly the best feeling in the world. Sure, you will have to return to it afterwards, but just to have that break can be the difference in how you approach a situation. The calmness and clarity you get from having the alone time can really change your perspective on a situation.

It is for this reason that I always listen to music before going in for exams. I feel relaxed, and I can listen to it and recite the things I need to remember over and over, without it stressing me out. I have actively found that I remember things better while listening to music, as I am not feeling the same levels of stress, and so I am actually able to concentrate much easier, and I know of other people who have found this too. Music has this power over us, that just causes us to relax, and really can make us work much more efficiently. Think about it, when people go out for big events, they listen to music, before exams, before anything big, there’s music, and that relaxes us.

I think it could also possibly have something to do with our roots. From the earliest cavemen, art was a way of communicating, be it through the earliest cave drawings, to music. Take it from the natives in areas secluded from the world such as the Amazon, they still live as tribal villagers, no technology, just the most basic knowledge of fire, iron, hunting etc. With all this, and no technological advances, they still have music and drawings. It is something that appeals to our basic human nature, and it is something that has always made us happy.

This is why I believe that music is important to the growth of a person. In whatever form, it gives us relaxation, a reduction in stress, and not only that, but it is basic human instinct to sing and dance and draw. These things made up early communication, and to this day it is still something that makes us happy, in all its forms. Music may divide us in the modern world with preferred genre, bands/artists, or songs, but ultimately, it is all the same. Music has always been made to bring emotion into communication, and even to this day, it can bring people to tears, or elevate them to the highest they’ve ever been. Music is a wonderful thing, and its co-evolution with humanity is something that has shaped our society, and something you can always turn to in the bleakest of times, and the best of times.

Childhood

I know for a fact that I am not the only one who sometimes misses my childhood. I do not have a bad life, I’m in my dream course at my dream Uni, and acing it. I have loving parents, a loving girlfriend, great friends, and I have great online friends and co-workers too.

However, missing childhood doesn’t have to mean that you hate your life now, or that life was easier back then. I mean, of course it was, low responsibility, easy work at school, mostly play and little work, it just seemed like the perfect time. You hated it then, because you felt like things were hard, but as you grow older, you start to realise that things aren’t as easy in the real world. I once saw a chart that summerises things brilliantly. It was split into three categories, child, adult, and elderly. It compared 3 variables, those being Time, Money and Energy.

As you’d expect, it was the classic “pick two” scenario, as a child you have time and energy, but no money, adult you have energy and money, but no time, and lastly as an older person, you have time and money, but no energy. There are obvious exceptions to the rule (Child stars, or pretty much anyone rich), but nonetheless this tends to be pretty standard for most people. It made me think, is that really a bad thing?

Lets take the example of the child first. You have all the time in the word, and all this energy you want to use. You would love to be able to go to Disneyland all the time, or get all the latest video games, or be able to get loads of sweets, however, you never have much money. But think about it, imagine if your 6 year old self had access to a full say, £50,000 a year salary, how would that go down? Well, as you can probably figure out, the kid would spend all the money on sweets and such, end up not well a lot, and probably have a worse time that they would just playing.

So that’s the first example, lets move on to adulthood. What would an adult do with all the time in the world? Well, they might go on extravagant holidays all the time. Or they might spend lots of time in Las Vegas, gambling away. Alternatively, they could have no idea what to do. Holidays, luxurious things, winning millions, there’s a reason these things appeal to us. They’re rare, or in some cases, completely unobtainable. If you were able to take 20 holidays a year, would you still enjoy them 3 years down the line? Probably not, and then what would you do? Have huge parties, but then you might develop some issues, due to being so used to play and no work. There’s a big problem here too, as we want things we cannot have, its human nature to do so. If we could have the biggest mansion ever built, would we be happy? Or would we want 5 extra bathrooms, just because we can? I’ll let you answer that one.

And finally, retirement. You have loads of time, a decent amount of money behind you, but you’ve grown old and weary. You can do whatever you want, all those things you’ve ever wanted to do, you can finally do them, but you decide to leave it until tomorrow. Then the next day you fancy going to the golf club with a couple of friends, play a few rounds, and have a chat. And what do you do? Chat about childhood, how amazing it would be to have the same energy now that you did back then. But that’s the problem, you don’t. This is your chance to do everything you’ve ever wanted, but you decide to get into a comfortable routine, and live your life happy and predictable. And that’s great, it really is, but then you have to think, you had all these plans, yet you settle for this. Why? Because you never really wanted to do all those things in the first place. Sure, they sounded cool, but when you finally have the chance, you realise that these things aren’t important. You wanted them because you couldn’t have them, and now you can, you decide you are happy with your life.

Its interesting to think about childhood, and how you wish for everything. You spend your whole life wishing for bigger and better, and then you realise, that when it comes down to it, everything is great. Those songs you listened to by the lake that night with your then girlfriend, the crazy things you and your best friend could think up using nothing but a tree and some sticks. The way you could do anything you wanted, just spend all your time, pretending to live the things you wish you could have.

I suppose that’s the message I’m trying to get from this. The wishing is always better. I believe you should always strive for bigger and better, to improve yourself and also to help others. But when you are doing that, I urge you not to forget those songs that remind you of the small things. The nights up late under the stars, that time you walked to Spar at 4 in the morning, all because you wanted a can or Coke, the time you fell out that tree, and couldn’t feel the pain because you were laughing so much. Remember those times with fondness, and realise that, no matter how old you get, you are never too old to dream.