Before I begin, I just want to explain that through most of last year I was finishing an MSc degree. This meant that a lot of games I wanted to play and was half way through had to get put on hold. I’m still catching up! But so far I’ve managed to play many of last years big games. Dragon Age 2, Portal 2, Skyrim, Arkham City (almost!). But one game which I just finished blew all of these out the water!

Hey, I can appreciate the huge amount of work that goes into an epic expansive game such as Skyrim or the thought that goes into designing some of the mental puzzles in Portal 2, but the sheer impact of an indie game made by a team a fraction of the size of any of these other big players is astounding. After finally finishing Bastion tonight, the end of the story almost brought me to tears! Here was a game that balanced fun game-play with just the right amount of repetition so you could feel like you were improving as a player, but also just the right amount of variation so it never got too repetitive. My only qualm was the thought that certain weapons barely got used, but on talking to other friends who have played it, their favourite weapons were completely different to mine! The excellent use of conventional game mechanics but executed in an original combination made the game feel really fresh without breaking the bank. The beautiful cartoon style, creates lush 2D art in a 2.5 d game-play setting making it a world you really want to be playing in. The dulled down real world colours in a lot of todays sandbox / shooter titles can get really depressing after a while. None of that here!

Bastion Original Soundtrack (Digital Download)

But most importantly from my perspective: the audio. I don’t just mean the sound design. Though the sound effects were appropriate and imaginative for the setting, the music just never got old no matter how many times I heard the same tunes!  Skilfully combining two of my favourite musical features: Blues and Breakbeats, I’ll happily buy the OST separately just to give Darren Korb the extra credit he deserves. And the amazing story just wouldn’t have been the same without the perfectly phrased, perfectly edited and perfectly implemented voice of Logan Cunningham, with his voice that could melt butter.

Bastion has not only inspired me to put the sound effects aside for a while and get composing, but it has also inspired me to get back into learning XNA. If a wee indie team can create a game as great as Bastion with it, I’m keen to get stuck in!

New microphone :-)

Since leaving uni I’ve been feeling the pain of not have a whole room full of recording kit available at my disposal. While I was at uni I loved going out to collect nature sounds using a Rycote windshield and Sennheiser ME66 shotgun for some nice wind-protected directional location recording. Unfortunately my wee SE4 Cardiods don’t have quite the same directionality. Fortunately I’ve been saving for a new piece of kit and have recently treated myself to a birthday present. The Rode NTG-3 short shotgun!

Not only does it have a narrower polarity and wider frequency response than the ME66 or other mics of its price range, but it’s also more weather proof. I saw this as something worth spending the extra quids for as my favourite recordings often involve going into the sticks where weather can be unpredictable and shelter thin on the ground. As well as this, it’s pretty damn sexy. Very happy birthday me!