It’s NOT Impossible if You Just Described It!

“His arm hung at an impossible angle.”

“They fell for an impossibly long time.”

“She made an impossible leap.”

It’s a pet hate of mine (and the above are just examples that may, or may not exist) but when it comes to writing, if something is impossible, then it can’t happen.  And if it can’t happen you can’t say that it just occurred.

Yes, your limbs might be jutting out at unnatural angles after hitting the ground from a large height. But the fall can’t have been impossibly long, and the angles impossible.  Using the word ‘impossible’ as an adjective is lazy.

The only time you can really get away way with using it is in dialogue.

“You’ll never make that jump. It’s impossible!”
“Just watch me.” He said, his square jaw radiating manly manliness.
She watched in horror as Biff leapt into the air, before disappearing from sight. She heard his scream grow quieter as he fell fifty storeys.  She didn’t hear him hit the ground, but when she looked over the edge she could just make out his broken body, his arms and legs twisted at painfully unnatural angles.
“I… think I’m okay!” He yelled. “Just winded….”

Okay, surviving that would be impossible for most people, but obviously not for Biff, the manly man of manliness himself.

Oh, and about that quote that’s going around social media apparently by AudreyHepburn (it’s possible, but I’m not interested enough to check it out) that says: “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible‘!”

What a load of tosh. Don’t believe me? Try saying that quote while gargling with lava on the surface of the sun….

Until then, don’t forget, ‘Lament for the Living’ is out on May 10th – get a sneak peek at the first chapter for FREE!

Currently it’s .prc (DRM free for Kindle) or .pdf only.
Kindle/.prc – Download Here
PDF – Download Here

Download, read, enjoy. Let me know what you think.

While you’re waiting for ‘Lament for the Living’ to be released the following titles are also available:
Hannibal House by David Nicol   The Deluge of Elias by David Nicol
For more information and purchasing links please visit:
www.tbfmedia.com/bibliography

So you want to be a commentator…

Currently, YouTube and similar sites are commentator crazy. The cost of recording gameplay and then yabbering over the top has come down so much over the past year or so means that gameplay commentary has become feasible for many more people. If you’re thinking of getting in to commentating then this article should give you some idea of how to go about it and the best way to get the most out of it. What this article is not about is how to become “YouTube famous” or gain oodles of subscribers.

What you’ll need:

1 – a mic
2 – recording software
3 – something to talk about

That’s simple right? Sure it is. Go for it!…….. Was it a breeze? Are you an instant success? If so then you’ll probably not need to read on. But if it wasn’t quite as simple as you thought it would be then read on.

Let’s have a look at each of the items we need and then we’ll work on putting it all together. Firstly, the mic – how can you get your commentary done if no one can hear you!? You can use literally any microphone available, from one built in to your computer (if necessary), to some really expensive bit of kit that you purchase especially for the job. But let’s be honest here – for the majority of people out there, you’re not likely to make much, if any, money out of doing commentaries so to begin with that in mind to ensure you keep your costs down.

I’ve personally tried a variety of different microphone setups with varying levels of complexity and success, but what do I use to do my commentaries? An £8 ($10) mic with a £5 ($7) pop filter. Some people use their gaming headsets to record their commentaries and others use more professional equipment – but if you work out the limitations of your equipment you can produce excellent audio results for a fraction of the price. Obviously the acceptable tonal or volume range of a cheap mic will not be as large as that of an expensive mic so you’ll notice distortion quicker from plosive speech sounds (‘T’, ‘S’ and ‘P’ sounds “Test Pop”) and if YOU YELL IN TO THEM. Chances are, you’ve already got a mic suitable for the job, you just don’t know it yet.

Next you’ll need some recording software. Again, you can pay hundreds, or even thousands of your favourite currency on some swanky piece of software, but in reality the majority of commentators are currently using a free audio program called Audacity (Download Link for Audacity). It’s simple to use and that’s basically all you need – but obviously software choice is a personal thing so if you’ve already got something you’re comfortable with, use that.

And lastly…. something to talk about. Okay, I’ve played fast and loose here because there’s more to it than just having something to talk about. I’m sure everyone has come across a commentary and have clicked off it because the commentator’s voice does not work for us. They could be talking about the most important subject on earth, but still we mute them, or watch something else. Why is that?……

This is why: Most people are familiar with the saying: “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it” and this is very important to remember when you’re communicating with others without them being able to see you, your expressions or body language.

One study at UCLA indicated that up to 93 percent of communication effectiveness is determined by nonverbal cues. Another study indicated that the impact of a performance was determined 7 percent by the words used, 38 percent by voice quality, and 55 percent by the nonverbal communication.

So, what you’re looking at is that when doing a commentary you’re already missing 55-93% of your effective communication skills. And how people interpret what you’re saying is broken down to a sort of 80/20 mix of how you say the words you’re saying. Before a word comes out of your mouth the odds are not in your favour to be received well if you don’t get your personality across straight away. Which means that if you talk in a way that is not interesting to other people, chances are they’re not going to listen.

What to do? Don’t be shy. Don’t mumble. Be positive and upbeat. Avoid ‘ums’, ‘ahs’ and awkward pauses, and for the love of the baby Jeebus and his little cotton socks never ever say “So…. um….. yeah” (that’s a pet hate of mine, say it if you like, but it is incredibly annoying). Let’s get something straight here: You can make your commentary in as many takes as necessary so if you screw it up, or become a stuttering bumbling fool hit STOP and do that bit again. You don’t have to restart the whole thing – record in sections if you have to, no one will mind, and chances are most people won’t notice either (a ten minute commentary of mine can be made up of up to thirty separate audio files).

Positivity is really the key. An important tip that will help you come across more positively in your commentaries is a really simple one: Smile. You don’t have to be a grinning fool, forcing your words out through gritted teeth but smiling, especially when you’re relating something that is supposed to be funny or amusing will lift your vocal tone and put some emotion in to what you’re saying.

Even if you’re talking about a seemingly negative subject you don’t have to sound like a miserable old sour puss. The most popular commentators have an upbeat and positive vocal commentary style – even when they’re being negative about something. No one wants to listen to someone who sounds bored or uninterested. If you are actually bored and/or uninterested when doing a commentary then either you need to take a break, or do something else. Putting out negative commentaries will not serve you well (and I can promise you that).

You’ve got the technologies, you’ve got the attitude, now what to talk about? That’s the million dollar question. The best advice – talk about what you know. Talk about what your listeners don’t know. If you’ve got a gameplay up then in most cases you won’t need to give a play by play description of everything that’s going on as people will most likely be watching it. So you telling them what they’re seeing will be redundant. It’s better to mention specific points in the footage without discussing the entire game like a sportscaster.

You may want to discuss other things that are going on other than the gameplay. Many people do that with great success. However, you’ll do well to remember “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it”. People will misinterpret what you say, and others will completely miss the point, so be careful, especially when sailing the seas near the rocky shores of contentious subjects (don’t know what a contentious subject is?…… best stick to the gameplay then).

Don’t talk about something just because everyone else is – YOUR commentary should be YOUR commentary, not a rehash of what someone else has said (especially if it’s complaining about something). If you’re starting out, chances are you’re really low down on the priority list for people to watch/listen to so you could be the tenth person whining about whatever it’s cool to whine about – and by that time people will be bored of hearing it. Why complain anyway? Complaining doesn’t solve anything, it just makes you in to a moaner.

For best results – be yourself, and be positive. Don’t worry about what other people are doing. Do your own thing. Do what you want, not what you think people want you to do and you’ll be fine. The most successful commentators out there got there by being themselves, not by emulating someone else.

And that, my little satsumas of joy, is that. I’ve been David, and I hope you’ve found that useful, interesting or somewhere in between.

Peas and loaves.

Want to know how to comment on or subscribe to this blog? Click here.

Find me on PSN – evaDlivE


David Nicol is Articles Editor for hupitgaming.com, YouTube gaming commentator and blogger based in the UK.

Surviving BFBC2 Multiplayer – Part 1


Check out BackslashGaming.com for gaming news, views and reviews.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is probably the hardest multiplayer game of recent times for a newbie to survive in. Unlike Modern Warfare 2 you don’t get a taster of the classes you’ll be able to unlock as you level up, you don’t have a Copycat Killstreak available. In fact you get pretty much no help at all. Not even from the instruction manual.

If you’ve come to BFBC2 from MW2 and think that you can waltz in and be beast from the get go then you’d better think again, otherwise you’ll end up crying into your Gatorade. Thankfully, and with the help of the wonderful world of the intertubes I’m going to attempt to redress the imbalance by giving a heads up to all the new players out there. This can never be a definitive guide – I don’t have the time, and seriously don’t have the 1337 skillz to cover everything in the game. Hopefully areas that I’m sketchy on, have missed, or gotten completely wrong will be commented on by someone with more knowledge.

To begin with we’re going to go over getting started. We need to do this as EA appear to have forgotten this fairly important part.

Getting Started

When you start the game you can alter the brightness, volume and sensitivity settings – the run of the mill stuff that most people do. *Note* If you have been playing Modern Warfare 2 you’ll probably find the control quite sluggish in BFBC2. In MW2 on the PS3 I play on sensitivity 3 – on BFBC2 I have the sensitivity up at least 60% and even that can be too slow some times.

BFBC2 Multiplayer Options

Once you’ve finished fiddling with the settings go back to the main screen and choose the Multiplayer options (this being a Multiplayer guide, it would make sense to choose it). The two options we’ll look at in this part are Play Now and Play with Friends.

Play Now

No friends - no problem

If don’t have any friends online, don’t want to play with them, or simply have no friends then you can jump into a game using this option. Choose your game type, level and whether or not it’s hardcore and away you go…..good luck.

Play with Friends

When you choose the option ‘Play with Friends’ you get a screen with three choices – join a friend in their game (but not necessarily in their squad), create your own squad, or view game invites.

Joining a friend’s game.

To join the game of a friend who is already playing you need to highlight their name (as long as it has BC2 next to it) press X (on PS3) and the game will try and join you up. If the server is full you’ll get a message saying as much. You can either then try again until you do join their game, or choose someone else to join. When you get into your friend’s game it’ll put you in their squad only if there is a slot available – otherwise it’s pot luck whether you are friend or foe in game.

Creating your own squad

If you like to be organised and have it all worked out before hand you can create your own squad by clicking on the Create Squad Button. From there you can send invites to your friends and once accepted they will appear in your Squad box. Below the Squad Box is the area where you select your game type. When your squad is together and you’ve chosen the game type you can select Find a Game at the top to launch the multiplayer.

Create Squad and View Invites

Accepting an Invite

If you are invited to a game you can use this option to view your message invites. It’s not usually an issue if your friend is setting up a squad in a lobby, but if they are already playing then you need to pull your finger out or you’ll miss your slot.

That’s it for Part One. In Part Two we’ll be looking at the classes available to the new player and in game comms.

Peas and loaves.

Find me on PSN – evaDlivE


Check out BackslashGaming.com for gaming news, views and reviews.


Improving Your Aim

Let’s get some caveats out of the way before we get to the main feature. These tips are what work for me. I’ve been playing FPS games for almost a decade on and off and have been rubbish at them. But thanks to the wonder of YouTube and the YouTubers who take the time to upload videos and share their tips I’ve been able to improve by analysing what I’m doing compared to what they’re doing. There are two users whose videos I’ve found to be most useful – SeaNanners and Sasbenjr. The reason why I use them as examples out of the 60-odd other people I’m subscribed to on YouTube is that in their videos they explain what they are doing (sasbenjr to a much higher degree than SeaNanners) and because they also use a tactical play style that is more suited to us older (I never thought I’d be calling myself old at 34…..) and slower gamers.

So on with the tips.

#1 – Handicap yourself
This tip is not for everyone. It can cause you to fall out of love with the game, reconsider your life choices and generally cause a complete crisis of confidence – so if you are of sensitive disposition move on to tip #2. In order to improve your aim you need to be able to aim to begin with. Any nugget can pick up a Scar-H or an ACR and be a demon in game. It’s easy when you use a strong recoil-less gun. But that’s a crutch, doesn’t help you improve, and it soon becomes boring using the same thing all the time. What should you do? Use this loadout:
Sleight of Hand
Whatever second perk you like
Steady Aim or Ninja

The FAL

What?! The FAL!? Yes the FAL. It’s single fire which means that YOU will have to stop relying on spray and pray kills and actually learn how to aim properly. Think the FAL is too easy? Then use a pistol. Think the pistol is too easy? Then you don’t need to be reading a post about improving your aim. Using the FAL helps you get into the habit of #2…..

#2 – Make your targets come to you
Okay, there’s nothing you can do about someone zooming around the map using Marathon, Lightweight and Commando getting you in the back, but for everyone else you can pretty much control what happens if you are in the right position. In Modern Warfare 2 it can be difficult to hang back when everyone is running around like the sky is falling. But that’s what you’ve got to do – you already know the high traffic areas of the map (it’s where you die a lot) so your mission is to get a vantage point of that area that gives you a low profile to the enemy while allowing you to easily see them. You need to keep your crosshairs on the traffic area ready to get your victim. Always be looking straight down that corridor so that enemies are running towards or away from you – not across your field of view. It’s much easier to shoot a target when it is stuck in your line of sight rather than moving across it. I wouldn’t stay in the same spot for more than two kills (or a couple of minutes) – best move to another location that also gives you a view of your previous perch in order to ping the guy going for the revenge kill. Moving also prevents you from getting tunnel vision or ‘zoning out’ due to inactivity.

#3 Practice shooting stuff
Set up a Lan game and join it. It’ll be lonely as you’ll be the only one there, but it also means that you won’t spend your time being shot in the face while you attempt to improve your aim. Choose a target, or targets and practice shooting from one to the other. I like HighRise for this as one of the buildings has a clock above a doorway – I run around the corner and bring the aim up to that. If you do this for a couple of minutes before going online proper you should be a bit more prepared.

Target Practice


What you’re trying to achieve is the ability to bring up your sights and hit the target as soon as it comes into view. This skill will aid you when you spot someone while moving around the map. Also try shooting targets at varying distances – the exploding barrels are particularly satisfying targets.

#4 Make your aim true
Your crosshairs should always be where the threat is most likely. In buildings your sights should sweep the corners and then stay on the doorway as you move towards it ready for anyone coming through – apply this to moving through maps like Favela, Karachi and Invasion where there are many streets as well as buildings. When you’re maintaining a strategic presence (or camping) you should be sweeping the areas that the enemy are most likely to be coming from. Keep an eye on your mini map – unless your green triangle buddies start disappearing you should be looking in the opposite direction ready to get anyone who is attempting to flank. When you’re moving keep your sights up – if you find that you’re all over the place, move on to #5.

#5 Choose a sensitivity that suits you
Some people play on sensitivity 10 and treat it as some sort of mark of 1337ness. And good for them. Personally, I’m currently on sensitivity 3 on the PS3. When I had my Cheap Freaks on it was 7. Your level of sensitivity should compliment your playstyle and controller control. If you spend 12 hours a day playing and have the reactions of a rattle snake on speed then chances are that a higher sensitivity would suit you. Conversely, if you play a couple of games a day and are generally ham handed then lower sensitivity will be your thing. In either case you need to find what works for you. The only way to do that is to play – try the exercise in #4 – if you can’t hit the clock on your current sensitivity then try lowering or increasing it depending on your results.

#6 Choose your shots
I think it was Hutch that said “You’ll miss every shot you don’t take” which is true and is especially correct when sniping. But “Nothing gets you killed quicker than giving your position away” – that’s mine. If you are using an unsilenced weapon don’t blast wildly at anything that moves. If you miss, you panic and your aim gets worse, in the meantime the enemy knows where you are and is going to shoot you in the face. Load up a silenced weapon and add Stopping Power – then try it again. The silencer prevents you from showing up on the radar, and in my experience unless you’re standing right in front of the enemy they tend to get all jack rabbitty and hop for cover as they don’t know where they are being hit from instead of returning fire.

#7 Take a breath – relax
This is probably the most important one, at least it is for me. I noticed that when I saw an enemy I would get a bit tense and my aim would be all over the place. This is because that tension made my movements stiff and jerky. By relaxing, my aiming movements were smoother and more controlled. It made sighting running enemy a lot easier. Get into the mindset of “I’m gonna shoot you sucka!” rather than “There’s a guy, has he seen me, can I get him…?”. Make it so that as far as you’re concerned you’ve already won the firefight, the only thing left to do is pull the trigger.

#8 Prefire and burst fire
When just using the crosshairs you can swing around quick and easy, but as soon as you ADS this movement is slowed significantly – even on higher sensitivities (although it is also dependent on the weapon you are using). When you encounter an enemy at closer range who is an active threat (an “Oh shit!” moment where you’ve seen them and they’ve seen you) get your crosshairs over them and fire before bringing up your sights – that initial prefire can be the difference between your killstreak, or just plain being killed. When you are firing a fully automatic weapon ensure that you burst fire by tapping the trigger. This will create a narrower grouping of your rounds. This is especially important when using LMGs, the MP5K, Tar-21 and the F2000 (not that anyone uses that one anyway). Although the recoil can be useful for getting headshots, after the initial kick you’ll be shooting at the sky – and unfortunately you don’t get kills by doing that.

#9 The Strafe Fire
When I first started playing FPS I was given this tip by a guy who played Quake (never my thing). It’s what they would do, back in the day, during the ‘dance of death’. The what? I know, you don’t see it so much anymore due to the lower health and stronger weapons in most games. The Dance of Death was what would happen when two players find themselves toe toe with no melee ability. They would basically circle each other until one had managed to shoot the other to death. Although the Dance of Death is pretty redundant nowadays, the circle strafe technique is not. It’s useful for getting around corners where you suspect there is someone maintaining a stategic presence (yes, camping). So here is how you do it. Find an object like a barrel that you can move freely around. Now put your crosshairs on it, or ADS if you like. Once you’ve done that your task is to move around it in an arc keeping your crosshairs or sight on the target object while maintaining a set distance from it. In order to do this you need to push the movement stick in one direction and the look stick in the opposite direction. Start off slowly with small movements and then build up the pace. You should practice doing this clockwise and anti-clockwise. This is actually easier to show rather than describe…

When I get the capability to record I’ll make a video illustrating these tips.

And so, example videos. First, SeaNanners. There’s not too much commentary regarding what he is actually doing at the time, but he give some good advice on playing the game. Main thing to watch for is where he positions himself, how he moves around the terrain the way he moves from position to position.

SeaNanners in action

Narrowing your profile to the enemy by using cover


Although he’s mobile he is not blindly running and gunning (ignore the Heart Beat Sensor). Watch how his crosshairs are always pointed at his direction of travel and where the enemy will be coming from – the pauses at junctions and minimising his profile to the enemy.

And now sasbenjr. This is the Rundown with M16 video. In contrast to SeaNanner’s video Geoff talks us through what he is doing and why, including cool little graphics to illustrate threat areas.

sasbenjr

Graphics showing threat areas from sasbenjr


Check out the part where he is on the balcony facing the bridges which allows him to control the engagements while maintaining a lower profile with height advantage.

Also check out his FAL videos.

I’d appreciate any feedback on this. If it’s been helpful to you, not helpful, or even if you have some tips of your own. Like I said, these work for me, but I’m always looking for ways to improve.

Peas and loaves.

Find me on PSN – evaDlivE


Practice for Christmas, M4A1 FTW, and Den Kirson

First off, this blog (or ramble amble as it often turns out to be) has been going for pretty much three months now and although I enjoy talking to myself I’d like to thank those of you who also enjoy me talking to myself and keep coming back for more. To make this thanks more real I’d like you go to your nearest mirror and look yourself square in the eye and sincerely thank yourself for dropping by. Actions speak louder than words, so give yourself a chumly pat on the shoulder too – that’s a nice touch.

Okay, on with the ramble amble….

A Surfboard Wrapped in Bubblewrap

Santa was not a happy chappy


Merry Christmas!
<<< What the hell is that?! You're asking yourself. Is it The Mummy after being hit by a steamroller? No, it's my surfboard, packed and ready to be picked up by the courier to go to its new home on the other side of the country. Now here's my top tips if you ever feel the need to sell a surfboard:
1 – Sell it locally
2 – Make sure that your advert says 'pick up only'
3 – Put 'pick up only' in massive red letters
4 – Ensure that there are no postage options on your advert
5 – When tips 1 – 4 are ignored by your buyer purchase 25 metres of bubblewrap and some packing tape
6 – Do some warm up exercises prior to wrapping your ex-surfboard
7 – Make sure the kids are in bed so they can't hear you swearing as you attempt to wrap the surfboard

So there you have it. I suppose it's good practice for Christmas….well it would be if I decided to buy someone a 7'9" oddly shaped wierd thing. But no, I think ahead. At Christmas time, if the item you want does not come in regular box shaped packaging you either don't get it, or you can have it in the store bag it came in. Bah humbug!

But hang on? This is supposed to be a blog about gaming so what has my surfboard got to do with anything? First it was pumpkins and now Christmas? Well the surfboard was sold to part fund my Hauppage purchase. So there we have a chunk of money towards it. In case you're wondering what the Hauppage a Hauppage is you can have a look here. But in a nutshell it’ll allow me to record my gameplay in HD for your viewing horror pleasure.

M4A1 FTW (for the win)
This night was a good gaming night. The weekend is over so it was my turn to be handing out the asses. And hand them out I did. The best thing was the match making – it was fairly even and the games I played were really close, only the first game ended on maximum score, the others went to the wire.

For this evenings entertainment I’d moved away from the FAL set up and was mostly using M4A1 with Red Dot, Spas-12 with Grip, Sleight of Hand, Stopping Power, and Ninja Pro. Claymore and Stuns. Death Streak…..probably Painkiller (I don’t tend to pay attention to that one). UAV, Counter UAV and Predator Missile. Anyway, last time around I hardly used the M4A1 at all as I found it to be really weak compared to every other gun that was shooting me in the face. But now that I’ve found the beauty of Stopping Power, the M4A1 becomes a beasty beauty! The only downside to Stopping Power is that it prevents me from using Cold Blooded which means I get shot while attempting to shoot down the UAV – well, if I’m going to be a big red dot on their radar I may as well be getting my money’s worth!

So here’s how it went:

Scrapyard – Win – 18-1-3
Afghan – Loss – 16-2-5
Invasion – Win – 8-1-5
Favela – Win – 14-0-6

Definitely not beast scores, but much better than how I’ve been doing recently and I had a lot of fun – especially on Favela. It was crazy, all mixed up, people everywhere, not like I normally have it.

Den Kirson

So, who is Den Kirson and why should you care? The answers, I don’t know and if you’re interested in stats. If you’re not interested in stats just skip to the bottom for a really shameless plug. Anyway I was watching a video on YouTube…..this one in fact (a seamless link, neat-o!):

And towards the end he mentions this Den Kirson guy and gives his web address which you can go to by CLICKING HERE. On that page is a really cool tool that shows you the strengths and stats of the guns in Modern Warfare 2. Well, I was impressed. But I like stuff like that. If you like it too, then you should visit his site. If not, then you should definitely visit sasbenjr‘s channel on YouTube (how’s that for a shameless plug? Pick me Geoff!). But seriously – for real effective tactics none compare to Geoff’s vids. They definitely helped me tonight.

Peas and loaves.

Find me on PSN – evaDlivE


SneakyMode’s New Layout

Scots player SneakyMode has been fernoogling with video layout and has just posted version 2, it’s looking good – especially the pop up hint/tip bit at the bottom.

And here’s his channel – http://www.youtube.com/user/MrSneakymode – go show him some love.

Peas and loaves.

Find me on PSN – evaDlivE