BOOK REVIEW – EXPLORE/CREATE MY LIFE IN PURSUIT OF NEW FRONTIERS, HIDDEN WORLDS, AND THE CREATIVE SPARK BY RICHARD GARRIOTT WITH DAVID FISHER

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Explore/Create is the memoirs of Richard Garriott, it tells the story of his life, from being the creator of the Ultima Games and starting Origin Systems with his brother, to his adventures in the arctic, visiting shipwrecks under the sea, and even his trip to space when he visited the International Space Station.

I am a huge fan of the Ultima games, a series of truly revolutionary PC role-playing games that were released between the early 1980s to the late 1990s. Each iteration in the Ultima series bought about something brand new, not only to the series but quite often to electronic gaming as a whole, for example the concept of morals and consequence that was introduced in Ultima 4, and to my knowledge this was the first time these kinds of topics had every really been addressed in a video game.  Or Ultima 7 that had the most realistic and immersive game world at the time, it is the first game I had ever seen where you could pick wheat in a field, grind it in a mill, then add water and bake a bread.

The Book also covers Richard’s many adventures, going places like the arctic, the amazon and even visiting the wreck of the Titanic.  And how he eventually followed in his father’s footsteps, astronaut Owen K. Garriott, when he traveled into space as a private astronaut with Roscosmos, becoming the second second-generation astronaut in history.

This book is a truly enjoyable and inspiring read and shows the full and rich life of a true polymath. I cannot recommend this book enough, so do yourself a favour and pick it up.

BOOK REVIEW – EXPLORE/CREATE MY LIFE IN PURSUIT OF NEW FRONTIERS, HIDDEN WORLDS, AND THE CREATIVE SPARK BY RICHARD GARRIOTT WITH DAVID FISHER

BOOK REVIEW – BATMAN: THE COURT OF OWLS AND BATMAN: THE CITY OF OWLS

The Court of Owls written by Scott Snyder and The City of Owls written by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV, formed part of the New 52 line and was originally published from 2011 to 2012.

The main story focuses on mysterious secret society, The Court of Owls, operating in Gotham city who attempt to assassinate various high-profile individuals, including Bruce Wayne, using a group of highly trained assassins called the Talons.

The story does a great job of building a sense of history, covering several members of past generations of the Wayne Family and even a story focused on Alfred’s father, who served as a butler to Thomas and Martha Wayne when Bruce was a small child.

Gotham City is also fleshed out more than any other Batman story, making it feel like an important character in the story, not just a location therein.

Without spoiling anything, the story progresses at an amazing pace, building tension and mystery at just the right amount, making it a very difficult book to put down.

This story arc was the start of the New 52 Batman reboot and is a classic Batman story with great art work that pulls the reader in. It is a great place to start for people new to the Batman comic books series and is a must read for any fan of the Batman comic.

BOOK REVIEW – BATMAN: THE COURT OF OWLS AND BATMAN: THE CITY OF OWLS

BOOK REVIEW – BATMAN HUSH

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Batman Hush is a mainline Batman story arc that was originally published in the Batman Comic between 2002 to 2003, which has subsequently been published in this graphic novel. Hush is a great self-contained story which can easily be picked up by anyone looking for a starting point in the almost endless selection of Batman comics.

Batman Hush is one of the best usages of the Batman Villains’ gallery, featuring a large cast including, the Riddler, Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, Scarecrow and the Joker to name a few. The graphic novel tells a great story written by Jeph Loeb, full of twists and a few surprises along the way, it really is one of the classic must read story in the Batman comic series.

The story is beautifully bought to life by the artwork, which is some of my favorite in the long running Batman comic series. The art is the combined work of Jim Lee, Scott Williams, and Alex Sinclair, being responsible for pencil, ink and color respectively.

I can really recommend this graphic novel if you want to get started in the Batman comic series as it is a great jumping-off point and if you are already reading the series and have not read Hush, then you are really missing out.

BOOK REVIEW – BATMAN HUSH

BOOK REVIEW – LITTLE NIGHTMARES VOLUME 1 GRAPHIC NOVEL

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Needless to say, this graphic novel is based on the game Little Nightmares and contains the first 2 comic books in the series. The series was initially announced to consist of 4 comic books, however at the time of this post book 3 and 4 unfortunately appear to have been cancelled.

Anyone who has played Little Nightmares will know that the world of the game is a dark and mysterious place, with a lot of unanswered questions. This graphic novel builds on this world and provides some additional bits of information about the greater world that was not directly shown in the game.

I really like the ascetics and feel of Little Nightmares and part of its appeal is this sense of unknown, and the graphic novel does not spoil this, providing just enough information to get the reader more curious. For example, the comic books explain how the kids end up on The Maw, the fictional ship on which the game and its DLC takes place, but gives no additional details about the mysteries surrounding the Maw itself.

The graphic novel is beautifully illustrated with amazing artwork, in line with the graphic style of the game.

It is however important to mention that this graphic novel will not make sense to someone who has not played the game. It is very much a companion piece to the game and builds on the world that was established therein. But if you played Little Nightmares and loved the world it built then this will be a great read.

BOOK REVIEW – LITTLE NIGHTMARES VOLUME 1 GRAPHIC NOVEL

BOOK REVIEW – MASTERS OF DOOM BY DAVID KUSHNER

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Masters of Doom tells the story of the formation of ID Software, one of the most influential companies in gaming. It focuses on the stories of the four founders, John Romero, John Carmack, Adrian Carmack and Tom Hall.

Covering everything from how and where they crew up, to how they got involved in game development, to how they met and started ID Software and eventually as most of them left ID Software, what came next for them.

The book covers everything from the early days when they worked at SoftDisk and started Ideas from the Deep (Later renamed to ID Software). Where they worked on Commander Keen and how they constantly evolved, creating revolutionary game after game, from Wolfenstein 3D to Doom to Quake, transforming the industry and what people thought possible along the way.

This book is by far my favourite video game related book, and I cautious writing any more regarding its contents out of fear of spoiling something. But if you are in any way interested in video games give this book a try. It is an amazing book and comes highly recommended.

BOOK REVIEW – MASTERS OF DOOM BY DAVID KUSHNER

BOOK REVIEW – BLOOD, SWEAT AND PIXELS BY JASON SCHREIER

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Blood, Sweat and Pixel is a very enjoyable book, containing the stories behind the creation of various video games. It gives the reader insight into how this process is never straight forward nor easy and is rather a perilous journey undertaken by developers out of sheer love for the medium.

The creation process of various video games are covered, from the successful, such as The Witcher 3 and Uncharted 4, to the ill-fated Star Wars 1313.

The book also conveys the sad stories of how many video games outlive the studios that created them, and the reality that very few video game development studios remains afloat in the challenging video game industry.

The reader is also given great insight into the challenges video game developers face, from tight budgets and technological difficulties to dealing with tyrannical publishers. It gives the reader a much greater sense of appreciation for what the developers endure to make their creative visions a reality.

As someone who loves video games and is interested in the development process behind them, I found this book highly entertaining and informative. I struggled to put this book down and would highly recommend it.   

BOOK REVIEW – BLOOD, SWEAT AND PIXELS BY JASON SCHREIER

BOOK REVIEW – VIRTUAL REALITY FOR BEGINNERS! by MURRAY RAMIREZ

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Virtual Reality for Beginners! is a basic, but comprehensive introduction to Virtual Reality, covering topics such as the history and development of Virtual Reality, current VR hardware and software, 360° cameras and a basic analysis of the VR industry.

The book goes into a fair amount of detail with regards to currently available VR headsets, covering everything from the Google Cardboard to the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. It provides a detailed breakdown of each product, giving a good amount of detail on the specifications and features of each as well as available software.  This does provide an interesting read, however because so much focus is placed on current hardware this will result in the book becoming outdated very quickly.

All the information in this book can be sourced online, however I found the book to be an interesting, well written quick read which was also inexpensive. Given this I would still recommend this book to anyone interested in VR, who currently has very limited knowledge on the topic.

BOOK REVIEW – VIRTUAL REALITY FOR BEGINNERS! by MURRAY RAMIREZ