An Evening in the Past: Toad Hall Toys

This evening, I got a chance to go shoot a photo essay at Toad Hall Toys. The proprietors were happy to talk to me about the history of the store and show off their diverse selection. There is a lot to be said about this little hole in the wall, as it has been around for almost 40 years, and it has grown in reputation and diversity ever since.

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When the Well Runs Dry (And I talk about spooky games)

This week, I have hit that point, the point in which I don’t know what to talk to you lovely people about (All 2 of you). So I might as well just talk about my last week.

For starters, I’ve been trying to use what meagre spare time I have after homework to indulge in some gold old fashioned horror games. I’ve played 2 in the last while, both of which are really compelling and I hope to finish them soon. The first is “Albino Lullaby”, a psychological horror experience that prides itself on not relying on jumpscares or gore. It’s an interesting game for sure, with a heavy focus on surreal imagery and unsettling audio. Unfortunately, it made me realize that sometimes, a few jumpscares aren’t so bad, as Albino Lullaby just isn’t scary. Unsettling? Yes. Scary? Not so much.

The second, and stronger of the two games I’ve played is “SOMA”, the new IP by Frictional Games. You may know Frictional as the team who brought you the now famous “Amnesia: The Dark Descent”. I’m a huge sucker for sci-fi horror, and SOMA scratches that itch perfectly. Set in an underwater research base where robots and humans are being spliced together, it asks very hard hitting questions about the nature of humanity and how far humans will go to save themselves. Think “Event Horizon” but under the ocean. It’s good stuff, and I highly recommend it.

Besides that, I had a good time at Nuit Blanche on Saturday. I’m not the artsy type, so a lot of the presentations there went right over my head, but the over ally atmosphere and good food made it more than worth it. If you haven’t gone to Bronuts in the Exchange, do it. Their espresso donut is something else.

So yeah, that’s my tiny update, not much going on otherwise save for the obligatory torrent of schoolwork. So I’ll see you lovelies next week (When my post will hopefully be on time).

Training with Chip Damage

As Winnipeg’s largest fighting game community, Chip Damage plays host to wide variety of games. Competitors from around Winnipeg come to the Engineering building at the University of Winnipeg every week to participate in friendly competition in games such as Ultra Street Fighter IV, Mortal Kombat X,  and Guilty Gear Xrd. With the school year starting, more members are joining, introducing new opportunities to learn and grow as players.

Photographer Trent Martin has been a member of Chip Damage for over two years.

Started from the bottom, now we’re slightly above the bottom.

If any of you have read any of my previous blog posts, you’ll know that in my spare time I do independent voice work. For the longest time, I spent countless hours recording line after line for whichever cartoon fan-dub or freeware RPG game came my way. But I’m excited to say that those years of menial grunt work have paid off!

Coming to Steam this fall is “Ancestory“! A turn based strategy card game featuring me as one of the playable characters!

It’s a pretty interesting story of how this came about. It goes back to March of 2015. I was browsing a voice acting forum when I came across an open casting call for an independently made strategy game. You know which one it is already. Anyway, having not auditioned for anything in a while, I felt my acting skills had gotten really rusty. I decided to give it a shot anyway. The character I auditioned for was a roguish assassin type named Simo. His role in the game was to be the heavy damage dealer with minimal defense, a “glass-cannon” if you will. For his voice, I drew inspiration from the iconic rasp of voice actor Steve Blum, who I look up to greatly.

In a fantastic turn of events, I was chosen as the voice of Simo out of over 80 other auditions. The folks from the development team are a great bunch of guys.

The orange guy on the right is Simo. Note the shadow cast over his face and stabby pair of daggers.

The base idea of the game is that it’s a 1 on 1 strategy card game. Players draw cards to summon minions and move them around the map on a grid in an attempt to capture control points. Players can also draw “spell” cards that have varying effects including taking control of an enemy minion, binding a minion in place, or dealing direct damage. Every turn, each player receives points based on the number of control points they have captured. The player with the most points at the end of the allotted number of turns is the winner. Between matches, players can customize their very own deck to suit their play style.

Recently, the game was shown off at Gamescom in Germany, where the biggest indie developers gather to share their projects and allow public access to their games. They have also recently attended CoxCon, where the game was played by popular YouTube personalities including John “TotalBiscuit” Bain, Jesse Cox, and Dodger of “Presshearttocontinue”.

Being developed by a team of university students in Kajaani, Finland, Ancestory is slated to release on Steam on October 13th for PC! You can check the team out on Twitter under @ancestorygame. If you ask nicely, they might even give you a beta key to try the game early! Spread the word, and happy summoning!

Back from the dead.

So, you’re probably wondering what the hell this blog even is, and why there are old posts from a year ago stewing in the archive. The truth is, I didn’t make it through my entire school year last winter. After dropping class, this blog laid dormant, waiting for the day for its creator to return and start spewing useless knowledge across its layout.

Today is that day.

We’re starting fresh, and I have many exciting new stories to tell. For context, be sure to go and read my earlier posts, as they will give you a better idea of what you’re getting into. Why you would want to is beyond me, but if that’s your thing, then who am I to judge? Expect more entertainment related ramblings over the next couple of months!

It’s good to be back.

How Crecomm is leaving its mark.

I’ll admit, I’ve never been an exemplary student. I was that guy who sort of coasted through high school with B grades in just about everything.

That mindset still somewhat remains today, but its slowly being beaten out of me.

Wednesday night I was up until 2 AM writing papers, I had to get up at 4 AM to catch a bus. I haven’t eaten a real home cooked meal in days, and my energy drink consumption is at an all time high.

I’ll admit, I’m not a fan. But it has to be done.

I take solace in the fact that I’m not alone in this. Sure there are some of us who handle it better than others, but at the end of the day, we all bleed the same.

Amidst the chaos and printer paper, I am struggling significantly in my Journalism course. The work is hard, the situations it puts me in makes me feel uneasy, and I find the ethics behind it somewhat underhanded. but you know what? It needs to be done.

I may not enjoy it, and it may stress me out to no end, but more than anything I want to prove to myself that I can do it.

So for now I’ll continue getting my ass kicked, because I’m confident it will work out in the end.

The Beautiful Sounds of Evil.

Disclaimer: This post contains some explicit language and vivd descriptions.

Most posts on this blog have do with voice acting, you probably know this already. But recently, I began thinking of something that is relevant in the opposite sense and fascinates me to no end.

On Tuesday after class, I eagerly rushed to EB Games at Polo Park to pick up a new release I had my eye on for a while. I purchased a copy of Shinji Mikami’s new survival horror project, The Evil Within. After pioneering the genre with the Resident Evil franchise, I had high hopes for Mikami’s new venture into horror. After getting home, I popped the disc into my console and began the excruciating wait that is the installation.

Upon starting, I was put in control of Detective Sebastian Castellanos, I hardened cop dispatched to investigate a disturbance at Deacon Mental Hospital. Like most survival horror games, the setup was fairly predictable. Castellanos shows up to the hospital, bodies are strewn about and blood coats just about all the visible surface area in the room.

For every step I took, the viscera beneath my feet made a sickening squelch, and blood dripped from a nearby plant like a leaking faucet. My room was pitch black and my surround sound system was doing its job. It sounded like there had been an actual massacre in my room. In the following moments, Castellanos is knocked unconscious by an unknown assailant, waking up in an alternate reality filled with all manner of twisted creations out to nibble on his giblets.

Castellanos wakes up hanging upside down in a meat locker filled with mutilated corpses and an 8 foot tall maniac wielding a chainsaw harvesting the bodies. As you can see below, he didn’t look too friendly.

Sadist This is where I had a realization.

Castellanos voiced his thoughts with a prompt “What the fuck?”. Not an urgent, pained “What the fuck?” but an “I am totally reading this off of a script and I don’t care” what the fuck. This man wakes up battered and bruised in a torture chamber straight out of Saw, and all he can say is “What the fuck.”? It became very obvious. This game had god-awful writing, and the voice acting was no better.

Castellanos, played by film actor Anson Mount was just about the lamest protagonist possible for a game like this. For every pile of bodies he would land in, and for every massive power tool induced injury he would sustain, he would shrug it off with a snide one liner. It was the kind of campy B movie acting that I had expected to be left on the sidelines.

But you know what? I didn’t care. Because the sound design was so damn good.

When Castellanos landed in the piles of bodies, I heard the crunch of every bone accompanied by a disgusting splash. And when he was decapitated via chainsaw, I heard the horrific sound of metal shredding through flesh and bone. It was brutal, bloody, and downright beautiful. I believe that part of successful visual design is providing the player with audio/visual feedback, and The Evil Within knocked it out of the park.

Because the developers put so much love and effort into making this monster infested hellscape sound so authentic, I entirely forgot that Castellanos spat punch lines in the face of danger enough to rival Han Solo. I was too caught up in the creaking of dilapidated homes, the low hum of rusty torture machines, and the splattering of brain matter as it erupts from a monsters skull.

The Evil Within is a prime example of how mastery over one aspect of design can almost entirely make up for its faults. So I know that if I ever botch it horribly in the recording booth, I can hope that the audio designer is a genius. Maybe people would the me out like I did with Castellanos. Also, play The Evil Within, It’s great.