Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Ashton Levi; A New Indie Coffee Shop in Longbridge Town Centre

Ashton Levi is a brand new indie coffee shop, opening up in the heart of the recently developed Longbridge Town Center in Birmingham. Run by, a very passionate and lovely lady; Mel, and her team, this looks set to be the next cool spot to relax and enjoy life in Birmingham's hottest new town center development.

I was fortunate enough to have a sneak preview of what is going to be on offer there and I have to say I'm looking forward to their official launch on Friday 14th March. 
From the moment you walk in, you immediately appreciate the passion that is the driving force behind Ashton Levi. Wooden tables fashioned from pallets, a Johnny Cupcakes book to enjoy with your coffee and the iconic homage to Longbridge's motor industry heritage all work together harmoniously to create an atmosphere in which to relax and enjoy. Ashton Levi offers itself as a coffee shop that cares. It cares about the source of the bean; donating 5p of every cup sold to the Coffee Kids charity, it cares about the taste of its coffee and it cares about the satisfaction of its customers.
Knowledgeable, friendly staff are on hand to answer any questions you have regarding their coffee, from bean to cup. Genuinely interested in the coffee he is serving, Colin (one of the baristas) explained how they've been tweaking the coffee blend in the run up to their opening; "we've been working on the blend over the last week, finding the perfect balance between strength and taste". He went on to explain the various mocha varieties that will be available, using a mix of varying strength chocolate drops and even suggested his favourite mix of 2 parts 80% coca and 1 part 74% coca.

My distaste for milk instantly wipes lattes and cappuccinos off the menu for me, so I was genuinely happy to hear how much thought has gone into producing the best tasting americano and how varied the mocha options will be. All too often strong means bitter in the coffee world, but I was pleasantly surprised when my smooth Americano arrived, complimented only by the best amaretto biscuits I've ever had the pleasure to taste.
Ashton Levi's official launch happens this Friday, so head on down to be served amazing, authentic coffee by Mel and her team. For more information you can contact Ashton Levi via their Twitter page.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Candies, Candies as far as the eye can see! An interview with Candy Box creator; aniwey.

Sup Guys!

If you haven't played Candy Box yet, then you're missing out on an awesome game! It may not seem it at first, but show the game a little patience and you'll be rewarded with beautifully pieced together ASCII art game that takes you on an almost parodical RPG journey.

The game begins with a count of candies that increases each second with the ability to eat them all. Give it patience and it opens up into a crazy ASCII RPG with Quests, Levels and Rare Drops.

Since its public release, just one month ago, the game has received almost 82,000 unique game saves as the game has taken the internet by storm. Well received on sites such as 4Chan, Reddit and YouTube, I began to wonder how aniwey, the secret identity of the game's creator, is dealing with his new found fame. Well I recently had the chance to interview him to discuss Candy Box and other projects he's currently working on.

So, let's start off with a bit about who aniwey is..
I'm a 19 years old French student. I'm in first year of Computer Science, in Caen, France. The pseudo "aniwey" (with a lower-case a ! it's important :D) is just taken from the word "anyway" with two typos. I like how this word is pronounced, I think that's why I chose it :)

What's your background in game development?
I've already made some games before (no web-based game), but this is the first one I release to the public!

When was Candy Box publicly released?
Candy Box was published exactly one month ago, on Wednesday :)

Candy Box has made quite a stir, with almost 82,000 saves since launch; how're you finding the rapidly increasing interest in the game?
It was a real surprise for me, I really didn't expect such a thing. At first I wasn't even planning to make a sequel, but I did decide that after the relative success of the game :)

What were your main influences whilst developing the game?
A lot of people ask me this question; I really don't know... I'm quite young : I never played to any old ASCII RPGs, I guess Candy Box is just made with classical RPG mechanics shaped in an original way :)

Are you happy with the overall product? Is there anything you would've done differently if you did it again now?
There are a lot of things I would have done differently. I don't like the end of the game, I think swords aren't perfectly balanced, I think the game isn't long enough. I'm mainly making the sequel to correct all these points   ;)

What led you to choose jQuery and JavaScript as your scripting language and what limitations, if any, has that choice made on the development of Candy Box?
I used JavaScript because it's perfect for what I want to do : it runs entirely in the browser and it's compatible with almost everything. I don't use jQuery itself a lot in the code :)

You've confirmed there will be a sequel to Candy Box, but are there any other projects we're likely to see in the near future?
I never plan projects a lot in advance, so it's my only one right now, and I'm fully focusing on it :)

You mention your support for ethical computing on your site, how important is it to you, to ensure your projects follow this movement?
This is very important for me; I could do just computing, but I choose to do it in an ethical way because that's how I think computer science should evolve :)

With any future projects, would you consider working with other developers to produce games, or is working solely, something that you prefer?
I absolutely consider working with other developers, though I'm going to make the sequel alone (apart for the server part), since I won't really need anyone :)

Thank you again for your time.
I hope I answered to your questions! [sic]

Well, I'm off to check on my pile o' lollipops. How many do you have now? If the answer is 'none' then what are you waiting for.. Head on over to your own Candy Box.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

A Little Direction

Sup Guys!

Like any blogger I always begin new ideas with the positive outlook of posting constantly and consistently. This, as any of my regular readers will know, never actually happens.

I've decided I need to get on top of this (you can see where this is going), but I'm a little stuck at the moment as to where I should take this blog. I currently have a rough schedule of themed days which I dip in and out of, but lately I've been really hooked on the gaming world and a lot of my posts are heading in that direction.

This is why I'm in a small dilemma, this blog was originally meant to be a place for me to ramble my geekyness to the world and hopefully get you guys involved in the process. I used to run another blog; Trigger's View, that focused purely on video games.

I have been thinking about this for a few weeks and I've come down to three options;

  1. Keep this blog gaming free (for the most part) and keep to geeky ramblings, but re-start Trigger's View for all gaming related posts.
  2. Have a day in the schedule for everything gaming (Gaming Friday) and keep the rest of the posts 100% gaming free.
  3. Keep doing what I'm doing and allow this blog to slowly become 90% gaming orientated.
I genuinely need your input on this guys, I feel like I have a select few regular readers and I want to keep writing what you want to keep reading, so your input would be greatly appreciated.

Either comment on the blog or use the Facebook comment box belooooowwwwwww (thanks RWJ!)

Monday, 12 November 2012

MyDay Monday: Web Explorer

Sup Guys!

Thought I'd share a few sites with you that I regularly visit. You've probably been to a few, but hopefully there'll be a few gems you might have missed along the way.

Simple Desktops
  • Simple Desktops - Simple desktops is a site with a huge collection of desktop backgrounds that use simple designs and colours. From what I can tell they're all simply designed vectors with some pretty cool themes such as Iron Man and Nintendo. You can also submit your own designs to the site should you wish to contribute to this pretty awesome collection.
Iron Man
NES Controller

  • Game Grep - Gamegrep is a "community news" site. Effectively anyone can sign up to the site and begin posting news articles. Focusing purely on video game news, Gamegrep is a platform for anybody to become a journalist. Often people simply post links to other sites, but a few people take it seriously enough to write original pieces.

  • - are the creators of the famous internet comic; Cyanide & Happiness. A witty, dry humour comic Cyanide & Happiness employ a simple comic style that allow the punchlines to firmly plant a left hook into your funny bone.
Cyanide and Happiness

So, now I've shown you mine, you can show me yours. Post a comment below or link to a site in the Facebook comment box to share your favourite sites.

Peace Out guys!

Friday, 5 October 2012

Review Thursday Friday: Retro Night

Sup guys,

Today I'm going to be talking about 'Retro Night'; an awesome, fun-filled night of gaming, socialising and competing.

'Retro Night' is held at a quaint, yet quite impressive store, aptly named; Retro World, located at The Custard Factory, Birmingham. The shop deals in wares from movie memorabilia, to vinyl records, to retro games and merchandise. Owned by a very friendly guy called Rob; any movie, music or game enthusiast will feel at home in this warm and welcoming place.
Exterior of Retro World at the Custard Factory, Birmingham
Retro World - Custard Factory
I attended the second ever 'Retro Night' on Wednesday, along with around 20 other retro lovers, including @Console_Ninjas podcaster; @JayceStokes and Nintendo 3DS Custom Case designer; @BlueBerriMoon

Partaking in a fight to the death on Mortal Combat, and a race to the line on Mario Kart: Double Dash, I failed to make it anywhere near to the prize; a big jar 'o' sweets and a £25 store credit for each competition, respectively. 
JayceStokes and BlueBerriMoon battling for the Mario Kart: Double Dash trophy.
The Mario Kart Comp Final
Everyone who attended were keen spirited and joined in the fun, allowing for a relaxed and enjoyable gaming event. The setting enhanced the experience; walls lined with movie posters and shelves stacked to the brim with retro games spanning some 15+ platforms. The ambiance was complimented with the sound of classic vinyl records from the likes of ABC, which noted the recent arrival of the vinyl section to the store.

The event featured four screens each linked to a different console; a Sega Mega Drive, Nintendo GameCube, Sony PlayStation and a Sony PlayStation 2. Two official competitions seeked to break the ice, spurring mini face-offs and a few grudge matches in their stead. Other games available to play included Time Crisis (PS1) and an arcade collection (PS2). Vectotrex was also available to endure, had you wished to really take it back to "the good old days".

Mario Kart was the favourite of the night with up to 15 people cramming around a small tv shaped like a helmet; the Philips 14" Discoverer.
Philips 14-inch Discoverer TV.
Philips Discoverer
The night ran on just past 10pm, until Rob managed to usher the last few veterans out the door. The event is slated for a return in the near future and is looking to be an ongoing event. With great, quality, music, retro gaming, competitions and a 10% discount on all purchases during the event 'Retro Night' is sure to continue long into the future.

If you haven't checked it out yet head on down to Retro World at The Custard Factory, Birmingham, or visit its sister store; Entertainment World, in Sheldon, where I'm sure you'll be greeted by a warm, friendly team running some very cool stores.
Two people batting for the top spot on Mario Kart: Double Dash, whilst another guy blasts his way through Time Crisis

Related Links

Monday, 17 September 2012

MyDay Monday: "Are There Necessary and Sufficient Guidelines and Information for Video Gamers?" *A Working Title*

AQA Extended Project CompanionSup Guys!

Back in my college days, however temporary they may have been, I was working on a short course called Extended Project. Basically I had to write a 5,000 word essay on anything I wanted, but it had to be interesting to folk.

So naturally I wrote about video games. Unfortunately my tutor didn't see my ramblings about favourite games as all that 'interesting', so instead I came up with the still working title of "Are There Necessary and Sufficient Guidelines and Information for Video Gamers?"

Well I've always wanted to do something with the essay I wrote and what better way than to share it with you guys! Looking back through the work I've realised I cut a lot of corners and never actually finished the piece.
Various symbols from the PEGI rating system
So as a little project I'm reviving this, errm project. I think I'll easily end up with 7,000 word+ by the end so best get your concentrating caps on! I'll be publishing it in sections throughout the next few weeks (if it all goes to plan, which as I'm sure any regular readers are aware; isn't going to happen).

I've included the first part of the project; my final plan that has been devised to outline what I plan to do - obviously! I'm not going to go as far as to say this will be a professionally polished piece of writing, but I do intend to take it seriously.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Facebook Commenting!

Sup guys!

Coming right at ya with a little update; FACEBOOK COMMENTING!

That's right folks you can now comment on individual posts much much easier using your facebook account! Just look for the comment box at the end of each post!

That's it geeks,

Peace Out!