I always like to create cool party themes for my kids and I have been known to go the extra mile to make something for the party. Last year I made Viking shields for Odin's 'How to train your Dragon' 8th birthday party. The cakes also take me a while in planning and execution. This year it is no different, with Odin's birthday in mid January, we like to get his invitations out before the Christmas Holidays. So, well in advance, Odin decided it was time for a Harry Potter party and me being me I thought I have to do a Hogwarts Acceptance Letter for the invites.
I will try to explain how I went about making the invitations and the success and failures I had during the process. The whole process from making the paper to sealing the envelopes only took one evening.
First up is making the paper look aged and more like the parchment we see in the movies.
Using plain printing paper, the kids and I dipped the paper into a concentrated tea mixture (4 tea bags to a cup of water). Moving quick is important as you don't want the paper to loose its integrity.
Pop the wet paper onto an oven tray and then into the oven for a few minutes or until the paper is dry (I had the oven at 230c). Keep an eye on it because if the paper cooks for too long it will become to brittle. Just repeat until you have enough paper.
At first I actually tried to print the letter on the paper before aging it, but found it discoloured the text which made it too hard to read. Simply put it just did not look nice.
Now we need to make the file to print on the pretty paper that we just made. There are a few assets you will need:
The Hogwarts Crest
Acceptance letter Font
The Text (Just below)
HOGWARTS SCHOOL of WITCHCRAFT and WIZARDRY
Headmaster: ALBUS DUMBLEDORE
(Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc., Chf. Warlock, Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. of Wizards)
Dear Witch or Wizard,
We are pleased to inform you that you have been invited to attend Odin’s birthday celebration at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and
Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.
Celebrations begin Time and Date, address. We await your owl by no later than 12 January.
Prof M McGonagall
Owls to be sent to Prof Your Name firstname.lastname@example.org
I used Photoshop to put together the file but I am sure Pages, Word or Publisher would work just fine. You can download my file below.
I made the font green as I think it is in the first Harry Potter movie. To match the text colour I put a colour overlay on the logo to make it match. Also I changed the wording a little to make it suit a birthday party invite better.
Just for the fun of it we included the same list of books and equipment that Harry got in his acceptance letter (PDF file found above)
Now the printing is a little fiddly now that the paper is a little bumpy, but as long as you keep and eye on it, it should work just fine. I found that pushing the paper down as it came out helped prevent it from getting caught in the printer. As you can see below we printed two pages per A4 piece of paper, so the letter was A5 sized in the end. This helps reduce the amount of paper needed and I think looks a little nicer.
With a little bit of cutting, folding and stuffing the envelopes are ready to be sealed. I just so happen to have a wax and seal set. You can get actual Hogwarts Crest seals but any wax seal works and looks good. If you don't have a set you can use crayons or just a coloured candle and anything with a pattern on it for the stamp. See this video for an example.
This was a fun little project that turned out great. I hope this helps you with your wizarding creations. If you do make your own Odin and I would love to see the results!
A few years back Odin and I purchased an ASB Bank Ambulance lego styled brick set. As per normal we did a build video for the set and have since been asked a few times for the instructions. I thought it would help to just put them on our website to make things easier, so here they are:
Knack II is an Action Adventure game, developed by Sony Interactive Entertainment Japan Studio, that mixes brawler and platforming game play into a fantastic couch co-op experience suitable for young and old. Knack is a intelligent humanoid organism that is made up of small relics that allow him to change his size. I have not played the original Knack, so when I first heard that Knack II was in development it didn’t really interest me. I then saw game play footage and heard that it had couch co-op and I was sold on the idea of playing it. Now that I have had the chance to play I am very glad that I did. I played the whole game in Co-op mode with my son Odin.
Knack II is a direct sequel to the first installment and from what I can tell has a lot of the same cast. Having not played the first game I did not feel at a disadvantage as the story of Knack II was stand alone. However, it does add to the original world of Knack with more in depth history being added to the lore of the in game world. This is done through the sub characters explaining historical events that are long forgotten by the major populous of this world. Part one of the series was referred to but I felt it was done well, for example in one of the chapters Knack has to break into a museum. Upon successfully navigating the security systems we find an exhibit in commemoration for the accomplishments achieved in the first game. I like this call back as it makes sense in the world we are playing in and adds more contexts for new players (such as myself) and a nice reminder of the adventures of the first game for those who have played it.
The story was cliché and predictable but was still fun and exciting all the same. Even though it is Knack who is the player Character, it is his friend Lucas who is the protagonist of this story. Things kick off with a large battle taking place in Newhaven, the capital of this world. While watching Knack fight large robot enemies, Lucas states he is to blame for this attack. The game then switches to 6 months in the past where the Journey began and we learn why Newhaven is under attack and who is behind it all. Again the story is simple but it was clear and had enough twists and turns to it to keep things interesting. Although, we did pick the bad guy pretty early on. The voice acting is very well done and is up there with some the best voice acting I have seen in gaming.
Although the story was passable and enjoyable, it is the gameplay that was the main drive for me and at its core, Knack II is a brawler. In between the combat sections, the platforming and the environments were just as fun. One of Knack II’s strong points is how the levels played with Knacks size as part of the puzzle and level design in each chapter. It never got old going from a 30 foot tall king kong Knack, down to a tiny 2 foot Knack to slip through a small gap in a wall. The knack particle effect was very cool. Leaving knack’s relic mass behind was always visually fun, although it sometimes made it hard to see where little knack was. I felt this helped with the pacing of the game as things were always changing. One minute, we were stomping through streets blasting enemies aside with ease, then the balance of power would shift by losing Knacks mass thus making combat harder and forcing us to play smarter to get through difficult combat situations.
The combat was also enhanced with the addition of elemental Knack. At different points of the game and as suited to the level, the player is given ice, metal or crystal parts additional to the standard relics. These sections of the game where great, but I would of liked to of seen more done with the elements and even a few more Knack types in the game.
The game looks and plays out like a mix between between Uncharted and a Lego game, with a dash of God of War combat. Co-op mini game with the quick time events was a nice touch and added to the fun Odin and I had with the game.
Overall I really enjoyed my time with Knack II and I think it is one of the best co-op experiences I have had in a while. I can safely recommend this game to any parents who are looking for a game to play with their kids. That said I also think its worth playing for any game enthusiast. Although many, including myself, thought Knack II was a sequel that didn't need to be made. I am very glad that Japan Studio saw potential and made the game they wanted to make. Now, I am keen to see what they do next with Knack. Enough from me, I am sure you are more interested to read what Odin thinks of the game.
The game is great!
I like that you can turn into a tiny Knack. He is very cute when he is small and a little scary when Knack is big. I disliked the end boss, because its' attacks were hard to dodge and did lots of damage, so I died a lot. My favorite enemy are robots with blades, because they will slice and dice you, with their spin attack. Also, their blue armor is awesome. I want one to guard my room. The best part of the game was when we got to pilot the Titan.
Our Video Review
You most likely are aware that out side of doing Youtube with Odin I am a co-host of a gaming podcast called Dark Insight. With 5 rotating hosts and numerous guests, we normally have no trouble putting together a new episode each week. However, hurricanes, road trips, new jobs, old jobs, well lots of things conspired to keep all most all of the Dark Insight hosts off the podcast this week.
Not wanting to skip an episode I put forward the idea of Odin coming on as guest. I got the go a head and with the help of some questions from the Dark Insight community, Odin and I had a good old chat about video the video games he loves to play. As Odin's Dad and co-op buddy I was not surprised by the games he chose to talk about. But what did surprise me was the the excitement he expressed as we talked about video games. We even had a little time for some friendly banter as Odin forbade Chris, co-host on the Chomp Chain Podcast, from using Youtube, or renaming Morbid Beard with the fantastic name of Morbid Bread.
Fated: The Silent Oath is a Narrative driven Virtual Reality game for Oculus Rift, Vive and Playstation VR developed by Frima Studios. I played the Playstation Vr version of this game that was released 28 Mar 2017 and like most VR games so far I experienced some motion sickness, but I will not focus on that in this review. Fated: The Silent Oath is set in the Viking era with Norse mythology being central to the narrative. On the brink of death, I play the role of the Valhalla doubting protagonist, Ulfer. Confronted by a Valkyrie who informs Ulfer that his life string is spent, but she can him give another if he promises to protect ‘her’. Meanwhile in the realm of the living, Ulfer’s wife is pleading for him to stay alive as they flee on the back of a horse-drawn cart. Having exchanged his voice for his life the world transforms from a grey brown tones to a beautifully vibrant world that is simple but very striking and helps sell this mystical world of gods and giants.
I am a fan of games that combine story with gameplay and this game is a great example. As previously mentioned, the player gave up his voice in order to have another chance to save his family and now can only respond with simple head gestures for ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Since I can’t talk in the game and neither can my character, the simple head gestures as the only form of communication immersed me further into this game.
Unfortunately when it came to the part of the game where I had to hunt deer with a bow and arrow the aiming was done via the analog stick. I would have loved to see the Move Controllers, or even just the Duelshock, used for a more immersive experience to match the rest of the game.
It could be argued that Fated: TSO could have been a normal game or even a third person Teltale styled game, but there are some very striking moments where playing it in VR really makes it worth while. A stand out scene for me is a section where you get to control the horse-drawn cart as you leave your war stricken village behind. As the surrounding environment changes to snow covered mountain pass, Ulfer’s daughter joins you at the front of the cart. In a very disparate situation Liv provides a ray of sunshine and childlike wonderment to the game. Being able to glance down at her as she chatters away, reminded me very much of my own curly haired daughter. This moment of calm is soon disrupted, much like the Fellow Ship of the Ring, our band of travelers are accosted by huge ice giants. The size and threat of the the Ice Giants is very much realized in this virtual world. As I fled, there was a real sense of fear and concern for my in-game daughter. This sense of fear for another character would not have been as strongly portrayed out of VR.
The walking sections were my least favorite part of the game as the pace is very slow. I imagine that this has been done to reduce the motion sickness which I can appreciate, however it still made the pace too slow for my liking. At least the slow plodding moments are improved by the NPC that are on this journey with Ulfer. In between the walking and the cart rides, there are some simple puzzles and environmental obstacles, none pose too much trouble, but again the ability to glance up at the wall to see which symbol instructs where it is safe to walk in a very India Jones-esque way. Giant swinging blade traps have never felt this real or this frightening in any video game that I have played, which is the beauty of VR. Seeing and hearing these massive blades swish centimeters (inches for the USA readers) in front of your nose was quite the experience.
Having a son called Odin, you would correctly assume that I like Norse mythology, but for those who are unfamiliar with the comings and goings of the Ice Giants will find this game educational. The player is taught norse folklore as they traverse the ancient caves through the innocent questions of Liv, the daughter of our protagonist.
The ending left me stunned and a bit surprised at the potential twist which should be confirmed in part two of the story that I hope is not too far off. All in all, I really enjoyed my time with Fated: The Silent Oath and would recommend it to anyone with VR as a must play. Its not perfect but I am looking forward to what Frima Studios does next.
Odin is a huge fan of Minecraft, so it is no surprise that he has written his first review on it. The below review is all Odin's words and thoughts on the game.
I like Minecraft because you can craft crazy worlds and items. It is awesome that I can construct whatever I want. I like to build cities with homes that I pretend are for sale, but most of all I like to make hidden traps to catch people trying to steal my treasure 😜
This is a picture of secret tree house I built, that is blended in with the trees, kind of... 😅
This is my favorite Minecraft skin. Because I really like the game Skulls of the Shogun and this is General Akamoto the leader of the red team. It is really cool that there are lots of options. My second favorite is the Orange Knight for Castle Crashers.
I do not like Creepers because they explode your buildings. It would be awesome if there was a pink Creeper that when it explodes it gives you regeneration. Also, I dislike the spiders because they can climb your walls in a creepy way. It looks creepy because it is like they are flying up the walls.
It is really cool that the makers of Minecraft are still adding more the game. The new spawn point in the mini games is cool, because when you win you spawn on a balcony that has a door that leads to a diamond armour room. In the room there is a pressure plate with dispensers. when you step on it the diamond armour equips on you automatically. Glide is my favorite mini game, because I beat my dad all the time.
We have had the Switch for a few weeks now and so I figured now is a good time to put my thoughts into some semi coherent ramblings. Having skipped the WiiU I was pretty excited about the launch of the Switch as it gave me the perfect opportunity to jump back into the world of Nintendo gaming. My purchase of the Switch has also marked a few firsts for me. I am normally a fairly early adopter, but the Switch is the first time I have purchased a new console on the day of release and the first time I have attended a midnight launch. Although the attendance at the local store I purchased it from was small, there was a real sense of wonder and anticipation for what the Switch would provide to us gamers.
The console itself is a very nice piece of hardware, it looks beautifully made and it is great that there are two color options. Both options have their own appeal so it made it really hard to decide, in the end I went for the colour option. For someone who likes his gadgets and tech, I am not too interested in or know too much about the technical specs of the Switch. So I would rather talk about how it looks, feels and plays.
Despite criticism of the JoyCons being small I find that they sit nicely in each hand and I have even found I tend to play Zelda with a JoyCon in each hand. The JoyCons are a very clever piece of design that allow surprising verity on gameplay options. The ability to play multiplayer and have two controllers to play on the go is great to have straight out of the box. To add to the satisfyingly visceral feel of engaging one of the controllers, there is an audible Switch ‘Click’. It is these little things which Nintendo gets right that has made this console fun to use.
Handhelds have never really found a place in my gaming schedule, mostly due to the fact that when I game, I usually do so at home in my office. This is what I was hoping the Switch would challenge and it has exceeded my expectations. Credit in part has to be given to how fantastic Zelda is, but in truth the ability to play a console game anywhere is a breath of fresh air. From milking a cow with a co-worker, to playing Zelda while Noctis and crew drive to their next location. I have even found myself sitting at my computer, TV and Switch dock right next to me, playing the Switch as a handheld while waiting for videos to render.
All in all, I am really happy with my purchase and glad that the first console I have purchased on release day has turned out to be worth it. I am really looking forward to the games that are coming out on the Switch this year and in the future.
It is no secret that we like video games around here and we are also lucky enough to have an 'Office' (which is really just a games room, but don't tell anyone). Well since this is our first post to our blog, I thought it would be fitting to show you around our 'Office' ;).
First up we have our editing setup, we have a Mac computer (because they are the best!), our microphone and a comfy chair so I don't get sore whilst editing for hours at a time.
This is the heart and soul of this room, all of our consoles and games. We have a decent size TV so we can see our games properly, controllers, headphones, camera and a few gaming figurines.
No true games room is complete without a shelf of collectables so we decided to go all out and we have two. A lot of these items are thanks to our regular Gaming Lootcrate which means our collection continues to grow every month and you can watch our February 2017 unboxing video below.