How I Set Up My Elgato Capture Card – A Step-by-Step Breakdown

Welcome everyone to another edition of Games with Coffee! It’s the end of yet another productive week! For us up here, we’re in the midst of yet another lockdown as cases surge. I hope that wherever you are, you’re staying safe, following the rules and keeping healthy.

Today is an extension of the previous post: I’ll demonstrate how I set up my capture card. This will include how I adjusted my audio/visual settings to compliment my card and the testing methods I employed to ensure I get a near-perfect synchronization between game audio, microphone audio and camera. Let’s get to it.


So, You Picked Up A Capture Card…

Congratulations first of all! You now have a doohicky that can capture your gameplay from your gaming console and transmit it to your computer. As far as the instructions go, it’s simple. First, insert the HDMI cable from your console to the input side of the card. Second, connect the output to your TV. Finally, connect the data cable (typically a USB 2.0 or 3.0) from the card to your PC.

Once that’s in place, you can begin streaming! There are several ways that you can do so:

Use The Capture Card’s Software

If you have an Elgato Capture Card, you can download the Game Capture software from their website. Once installed and opened, you’ll see this interface:

From here, you can modify the settings of your card depending on what you’re playing, including your microphone settings, game audio and titles. You can also link your streaming account to the software so that you can stream directly from it and record your gameplay. Now, to be perfectly frank, I’ve only used this software a few times. What I usually do is:

Use The Capture Card Through OBS

More specifically in my case, Streamlabs OBS, however, base OBS works just as well.

OBS integrates fairly well with most capture cards, especially with Elgato cards. While they work right out of the box, in order to utilize the card to the fullest extent within your stream, you’ll have to do a few modifications to your setup.

Setting Up For Success

In order to get the most out of your capture card, it’s important to understand one main thing: external cards have a slight delay on them, due to their reliance on wired connections. That means that if you’re playing live, the card will be capturing a few seconds behind you. Chances are, your microphone and webcam are set to pick up audio/visual in real-time. What that means is that you could be broadcasting your reactions about gameplay events a few seconds ahead of your capture, which is what your audience will see. If that doesn’t bother you too much, then that’s perfectly OK! You have to stream the way you want to, after all.

If it does bother you though, you have a few options. The first is to replace the external card with an internal card that can be mounted into a PCI slot. Because it’s internally mounted, you wouldn’t suffer from latency issues and would be able to capture and broadcast content in real-time without making any adjustments to your camera and microphone. The two main drawbacks here are that these cards are first and foremost expensive to purchase, sometimes ranging over $200. Secondly, their use is limited to PCs only – laptops can only use external capture cards (to my knowledge – if you know otherwise, please share!).

The second option – which is what I’ve used and will discuss in detail – is to modify the delay on both your microphone and webcam to match the in-built delay on the capture card.

Initial Settings

First off, connect your capture card to your console of choice and to your PC/laptop and then boot up OBS. I’ll be using Streamlabs OBS for demonstration purposes, but these methods will also work on base OBS.

Next, we’re going to play around with some delay settings on your microphone and webcam to sync it up to the captured gameplay. By doing this, you’ll be giving off the illusion that you’re playing and commenting on the game in real-time, despite being a couple of seconds ahead of your audience. That’s the main goal here!

Now, looking at this delay issue up on Elgato’s help site, it states that you’ll want to set your microphone and webcam delay to 650ms as the default. We’ll start with setting the delay to the microphone.

On the Audio Mixer panel, click on the gear icon on the top right-hand side of the panel. This will open the master mixing settings for all your audio inputs/outputs.

Go to where your microphone input is and under Sync Offset, set the value to 650. What this does is delay your microphone output to your audience by 650 milliseconds.

Next, under your sources, go to your webcam, right-click and select Filters.

In the Filters window, hit the + button and select ASync Delay. Then, set the delay to 650ms.

Once applied, you can visually notice a delay on your webcam broadcast, which is what your audience will see as well.

Optimizing The Settings

With these in effect, your mic and webcam should be roughly close to your captured gameplay. One way to test out if your mic and webcam have synched to your gameplay is to put on a platformer and record yourself saying “Jump” every time you press the jump button. Then, view the recording and see if your character (Mario, Sonic, whomever) jumps when you say “Jump” out loud.

If you’re using the base values above, chances are that synchronization is close but not quite there yet. Not to worry, as we can optimize the delay values to achieve total (or near-total) sync!

Now, adjusting the delay values depends on several factors. The first and foremost is the port that your capture card is connected to your laptop/PC. In my case, I have it hooked up to a USB expansion adaptor located at the front of my PC. The next factor is the cable that you’re using to connect the capture card to the PC. My Elgato is an older model and so, it utilizes USB 2.0 tech. That means that it’s quite slow compared to the newer models that use USB 3.0. The final factor is the HDMI cables that you’re using to connect between your TV, your console and your capture card. You don’t need the best of the best, just make sure you have a decent, undamaged cable.

Once you’ve got that confirmed, next comes the fun part: doing multiple audio and video tests and iterating your delay times after each test! Generally speaking, your audio and webcam delays should match one another, so after each recording, go to the mixer and filter settings respectively and adjust.

When it comes to narrowing down the best offset numbers, I found that the optimal way to do so is by trying to match the delay to the game’s audio. What I mean is, I muted my PC audio, hit record and then hummed or whistled along to the game audio from my TV, making sure my microphone captures my humming or whistling. Then, I reviewed the recording, adjusted the delays and re-recorded until my humming and the game’s audio matched perfectly! It’ll take about half an hour or so to narrow down the delay to a single millisecond, but the results are totally worth it! In my case, my current offset values are at 515ms. What’s great about this method is that it doesn’t require you to be musically inclined – all one has to do is make sure the humming (however off-key it sounds) syncs up to the game’s audio. If you’re having trouble with it, enlist a friend or a family member to help out!


And there you have it! A (hopefully) easy-to-understand guide on setting up an Elgato Capture Card. Note, I haven’t tried other cards, however, I’m pretty sure that the above steps would work with them just as well! 

Do you own a capture card for streaming? Got it to work to your specifications? Let me know in the comments below!
Well, that’s it for this post. With that, this has been Ryan, reminding you to Live with No Regrets, Believe in Yourself and Chase the Impossible! See ya next time!

What I’ve Learned From Streaming – A Year-Long Journey

Welcome everyone to another edition of Games with Coffee! I hope everyone’s had a great week and is looking forward to the weekend!

As promised in my last post, today I’ll be talking about my streaming experience over the past year and share a few lessons I learned during that time.


Having A Proper Set Up Matters

Honestly, this can make or break a stream. When I first got into streaming back in 2018 or so, I had a budget-friendly refurbished laptop (that I later had to repair because the hard drive failed spectacularly…), a lapel microphone, some basic headphones and an Elgato HD60 Capture Card. I did one, maybe two streams using this setup before setting it aside for a year or so because I felt so intimidated by the whole process.

I revisited this back in 2019 and looked up specifics on what one needs to stream and this is what I found to work: A computer with mid-range specs on power and graphics, a monitor, a microphone and a pair of headphones. One could also get a webcam, but that’s really an optional piece of equipment – there are plenty of successful streamers who stream without ever showing their faces. 

As for what software to use for streaming, there are several options. The most popular of them is OBS, which literally means “Open-source Broadcasting Software.” OBS is a robust and fairly simple software to use and there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube to help with the learning process. On top of that, there are several flavours of OBS. The one I use specifically is Streamlabs OBS. It has a clean UI and links your live stream site account (Twitch, YouTube, etc.) with your Streamlabs account. From there, you can add things like animated images for alerts, banners, track donations and follows and a whole bunch of other things.

I used GIMP to develop my overlays and logos. I designed my overlays using sprite backgrounds that you can find all through the internet that I tweaked to suit my preferences. My current overlay for my Sunday stream is based on the large level screen display thingy in Knuckles’ Chaotix, while my Tuesday stream uses classic text boxes from RPGs to emulate a menu screen.

An example of my current Sonic Sunday overlay. Elements not included :P.

In terms of my equipment, I have a fairly powerful PC with an AMD processor and an older model Nvidia graphics card. I mentioned that this was given to me by my cousin Lee, who is freakin’ awesome by the way! I’ll never stop saying that haha. I use two monitors: an ASUS one which is my main and an old 22” Samsung LCD TV as my secondary monitor. The TV is what I use to connect my older consoles on since it has dedicated A/V, composite and HDMI inputs as well as a separate headphone jack.

I still retained the Elgato HD60 capture card, however, I didn’t use it when I started out; I was still too intimidated by it. I only started using it fully this year to great success and I’ll present a tutorial on how I configured mine in a future post.

Plan On What You Want To Stream

Having a good setup is nothing without having something to play! I honestly found this to be the fun part of streaming – planning what to play during your streams. When 2020 was around the corner, I knew immediately that the first games I wanted to stream were Sonic games, since I officially dubbed it the “Year of Sonic the Hedgehog,” due to my involvement with the “Characters That Define Us” collaboration. So, during the winter break, I compiled a list of Sonic games I planned on playing between February and June and I stuck with it (with deviations from time to time). After I got my list, I then picked a day that worked with my schedule. During a typical week in 2020, I had split my time between writing Mobius VII and spending time with my family. Saturdays were extremely busy but Sundays were not, so I chose Sunday nights to stream. Later in the year, I added a Tuesday stream where I played mainly retro action-adventure titles, like Alundra, Mega Man, Castlevania and Zelda, to name a few.

This habit of planning out what to play helped me be consistent with my streams while also giving me something to look forward to on the days I was streaming.

Run Plenty Of Tests

Retro Game Brews, a good, good friend of mine and fellow streamer, shared this extremely valuable piece of wisdom with me when I first started: Dealing with sound and video issues is a rite of passage within Twitch. Just as it’s important to have a good setup for streaming, it’s also important to test out your stream and adjust settings to suit your audience. With OBS and Streamlabs OBS, you have the option of recording yourself, which is vital for testing your setup. What I did was record myself playing and talking for about 30 seconds to a minute each time and then watching and listening afterwards to see both how the game and I sound. I also took the time to review my visual assets, like layouts and alerts and make sure they were coming out crisp and clear.

I then got into the habit of running tests and checking my stream settings prior to my broadcast. I did this because every game is different; the sound of some games comes out loud while other games are quiet. Sometimes my voice overpowers the game audio while sometimes I’m too quiet for my audience to hear. Bottom line is, it’s worth it to continue testing your setup prior to streaming.

Play What You Want To Play

The title speaks for itself. Don’t be so worried about consistently playing the most popular games around unless you’re really gunning for that Partner status. If you enjoy playing what you want to play, your enthusiasm will show and your audience will recognize that. In my case, playing Sonic games on Sundays helped me grow my audience base since those were the games I loved playing. Things would probably be different if I played a game that I wasn’t wholly interested in, despite its popularity.

Sometimes What’s Popular Isn’t Quite Popular 

On the other hand, even playing the most popular games might not garner enough attention from your audience. I did a stint of playing Final Fantasy VII Remake over the summer of 2020 and I noticed that my viewership dropped. It could be that the Remake just wasn’t interesting enough for my core audience, or it could be due to me using my PS4 as an alternate stream setup to play it, but I wasn’t drawing in people like I used to. Though it wasn’t a bad thing because I was able to make a great friend during the FFVII Remake journey and now he’s one of my favourite regulars!

As I mentioned above, I used my PS4 to stream my Remake game session. Looking back, I think I would have had better success if I utilized my capture card. This leads to my next lesson:

Capture Cards are a Godsend (Once Configured Properly)

Now, for most people, capture cards are quite intimidating. On the surface, they’re easy to operate – connect your console to the input side, connect your display to the output side, insert the data cable to your computer and voila! The capture card is connected and Ret-2-Go! (Sorry, I’ve been on a Shantae fix lately…)

Except that’s only half the battle. While the plug-and-play setup lets one instantly stream console games, I found that the Elgato capture card has an in-built latency delay due to the USB cable. That means that if I make a jump in real-time, my viewers will see that same jump about a couple seconds later. If you combine that with a webcam and mic set up that’s configured to pick up streamer audio/visual in real-time, viewers will see a synchronization delay which doesn’t look super professional. I figured out how to solve this sync problem (not without some issues) and so, I’ll be sharing a detailed post in the following week on how I synched up the audio/visual stuff to the capture card. I know this would be a big help for any up-and-coming streamers who are able to secure such a card!

So, the rig is ready, the mic and webcam are ready, the games are ready and the capture devices are ready. Now comes one of the biggest lessons I learned:

Consistency Is Key!

After figuring out the above, this lesson here is the most important – not only for streaming but also for anything in life.

Having a consistent and predictable schedule will help grow your audience. Period. Plan for it and let people know however you can. Share your schedule on social media, put it on your group chats, wave banners, shout it out from the rooftops if possible; it doesn’t matter, just get the word out! I found for myself that initially letting family and friends know that I’m streaming on x day at x hour ensured that I’d get at least a few viewers on my channel. Those views and interactions really helped when I started out!

Sometimes, life does get in the way of your consistent schedule, but that’s OK! If you can fit in a make-up day, go for it! If not, then delay until the following week. Don’t work for the stream, make the stream work for you.

Finally, there will be days where you’ll get a TON of viewers in your stream and there will be days when maybe one or two people show up. It doesn’t matter – just keep at it! Take every stream like you’re expecting a crowd to show up. Little by little, growth will happen!

Speaking of streaming growth, there are plenty of ways to do just that and my personal favourite is:

Networking!

Seriously, never underestimate the power of a good network. 

It does require a bit of legwork, perseverance and goodwill, but it pays off in dividends once it gets going. Networking with others can be as simple as visiting another streamer’s channel and just having conversations with them. Don’t be rude though and be like “Yo, go check out my stream, bruh!” Be genuine and be patient. If the streamer does ask if you stream yourself, then it’s fair game! Share what you play, what you’re about and what days and times you stream and go from there. Sometimes, viewers of that very stream may end up following you, giving you more opportunities to draw an audience.

Two of the many ways I’ve networked were from my work as a games writer/blogger and through participating in streaming competitions. As you know, I’ve worked on a fair deal of collaboration projects with various writing groups. Along with reading some way past cool stuff, I also made a ton of great friends, some of which visit me on stream from time to time to partake in my adventures! To those great people who do so, thank you so much by the way!

I was also fortunate to participate in a few streaming competitions hosted by none other than Retro Game Brews. The first contest I was in was a Sonic 2 speed race within Emerald Hill Zone and it was a riot! Though I didn’t make it to the next rounds, I still had a blast and cheered on the other competitors who were all great sports! I’ve since played other great games such as Kung Fu (NES), Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, Outrun (Genesis) and Super Punch-Out (SNES). My run on that last game was beyond epic because I finally beat the crud out of Super Macho Man, my nemesis from the original Punch-Out. Beyond finishing him off, I almost beat the game too! It was exciting!

Super Punch-Out ended up being my most memorable competition as it was the push I needed to reach Affiliate status. As I mentioned before in my last post, it was the best birthday gift I’ve ever received!

However, the best competition I had a blast with was the RGB High Score Castlevania Speed Run contest that occurred last year during Halloween. Though I love Castlevania, I was always intimidated with the first game – I’ve never finished it before and I was nervous about it. As I practiced and shared my progress with the competitors though (who all gave great speedrunning advice by the way!), I felt my confidence build up until I could beat it for the first time. And then I beat it in half an hour, which is pretty impressive when I think about it.

And my overlay was all kinds of hilarious and awesome 😀

When it came to the actual run, I was gunning for sub 25 minutes as my overall goal. In the end, my best time ended up at just over 16 minutes! Here were my splits for that night:

During that time, I gained followers, earned bits from wonderful streamers and made some great, great friends who stop by either for a chat or initiate a raid from time to time. Bottom line is, networking works! Engage with your fellows in the community and you’ll see results. But networking is only half of the battle.

It Takes A Lot Of Work To Succeed

I may be waxing on about how easy streaming is, but I’ll be honest, it does take a lot of work. I built a lot of my own assets on my own, such as logos, overlays and BRB/Commercial screens. You also always have to be promoting your stream. Even though I’m doing this for fun, for some streamers, this is a way of life for them and so they’re grinding every day to get people to tune into their feed. That grind is something that I respect.

One of the most challenging things I feel that I need to work on more is to be more engaging. Streams live or die by how engaging the streamer is with the audience. I started off by sharing my wealth of Sonic trivia during my Sonic Sunday shows. I then did commentary explaining how I went through certain sections of the game I was playing, starting with Alundra on my Tuesday streams. There were times where I was distracted by the game that I couldn’t respond properly to chat or get my facts out straight without going with long pauses. It’s something I’m working on though.

Be Genuine

The biggest piece of advice I can give to make this work is to be genuine with others. It’s difficult to engage with your audience if you can’t muster up some authenticity within yourself. People are perceptive and they tune out if they can’t connect with you. So, talk with your audience! Laugh, cry, celebrate their victories, empathize with their anguish. Connect with them. The way I see it, every stream should feel like a couch session with your good friends and you all talk about everything under the sun while enjoying some good quality games. At least, that’s the impression I try to present whenever I stream.

Have Fun!

The last lesson here is to, well, have fun! Enjoy what you play, ignore worrying about what’s popular or not and above all, have a good time with it. I guarantee that people will come to check you out and stay if you’re engaging, relaxed and having a good time with the games you’re playing.

Continuing on the subject, don’t be afraid to be silly on stream! This isn’t some overly professional setting like work (unless you treat it as such), so go nuts! Myself, I wear certain hats during my streams: Sundays I wear my Sonic hat and Tuesdays I wear a Legend of Zelda hat, in celebration of the series’ 35th anniversary.


And those are some of the things I learned during my first year of streaming. I hope this helps you out, whether you’re just starting or if you’ve been in the game for quite some time! Next week, I’ll share how I configured my capture card.

Are you streaming? What have you been playing? Do you have any further tips or lessons to share? If so, drop ‘em in the comments below!

If you want to see me live, be sure to tune in on Sundays and Tuesdays at 9:30pm EST!

That’s it for this post. With that, this has been Ryan, reminding you to Live with no Regrets, Believe in Yourself and Chase the Impossible! See ya next time!

Games with Coffee: Recapping 2020

(It’s been a while since we had a normal post, huh?)

Welcome everyone to the return of Games with Coffee! Mobius VII is done for now, but if you read the previous acknowledgements post, you’ll see that we’re not done yet! We’ve only just started on our journey through this fantastic world! AND I’ve even begun writing notes for the next edition! It’s more worldbuilding than anything else, but it’s a start.

So, while we’re now in 2021 and way past the four year anniversary of the site, I wanted to take some time to recap a few things that happened in that dreaded 2020. Honestly… It’s been readers like you that have been keeping me going through that tough phase, so again, thank you all so much for your support. It means a lot to me that you’re willing to take time out of your busy schedules to come down and check out my content. Much love to all of you!

Anyways, let’s not delay further, shall we?


The Real Pandemic Blues

2020. What a year it has been… And it was honestly one that didn’t start off on the right foot for me especially.

Three days into the new year, I was unceremoniously let go from my field inspection job. After two and a quarter years, the company I worked for at the time decided it was time to downsize the inspection department, which led to my job’s elimination. Luckily though, I bounced right back onto my feet and landed a job at my current place of employment. Here, I’m doing sales of all things, and strangely enough, I’m doing fairly well in it.

Who knew, right?

Anyway, I don’t want to bore you with too much work stuff, except for the fact that 2020 was the first and only year where I’ve worked inside of an office for a grand total of 14 days. The rest of the year was spent home – either searching for jobs during the first two months of the year and then working from home for the remainder. In fact, I’m still working from home now, but it hasn’t been to my detriment, thankfully.

Working from home has brought its own challenges, though. Balancing work with personal stuff was hard. Add in a toddler to the mix and you get a perfect storm of busyness. In a way, I appreciated that – that storm prevented me from getting too bored and lethargic and… well, it kept me sane.

All this time spent at home has helped me tremendously in finishing Book 1 of Mobius VII. By the time you read this, all 42 chapters will have been posted to the blog. It’s been a heck of a ride and I hope you all have enjoyed it as much as I have. As of this time, we’ll get back to a normal-ish schedule of things with new posts releasing every Friday. I found a system that works (relatively speaking), so we won’t see blackouts as we did through all of 2019 haha.

What this year has taught me, overall, is that reflection is good for the soul. No matter what job you have or what situation you’re in, if you don’t give yourself time to process how you feel about things, it can be hard to move on. A good example from gaming I can think of is Shadow from Sonic Adventure 2. Shadow initially wanted revenge on humanity for killing his best friend, Maria. However, after a conversation with Amy on Space Station ARK, Shadow reflected on it and finally remembered Maria’s wish – for him to help save humanity. Which he did at the end of the Final Story at the apparent cost of his life.

In my case, before I started my new job, I wrote a letter to myself to reflect on my feelings during the ten years since I started my career. I poured all the inadequacies, failures and disappointments I felt into words and then sealed it and all the objects and things that reminded me of how much I hated the last decade of my career into a box that I promised I wouldn’t open again for ten more years. I don’t exactly recall what I wrote in that letter now, but I know that I made a declaration on that piece of paper to never let those failures and disappointments affect me again.

Meanwhile, work wasn’t the only thing keeping me busy this year.


Becoming a Streamer

2020 was the year that I decided to start streaming. Back at the end of 2019, my cousin Lee gifted me a wonderful PC rig to use for streaming and gaming. This thing was much more powerful and robust than anything I’ve ever owned. With this in hand, coupled with my contribution to “The Characters That Define Us” collaboration by Normal Happenings, I decided to celebrate my love for Sonic the Hedgehog by streaming a whole bunch of Sonic games every Sunday starting in February. I took all of December and January to tweak my setup, get my equipment in order and create my layouts and heck, it paid off in spades! My consistency with my streams, coupled with participating in a few tournaments and networking with a bunch of great streamers allowed me to reach Affiliate status by July 13th – my birthday! Honestly, that was one of the best birthday presents I’ve ever received!

Now, streaming has become one of my favourite things to do besides writing and I’ve learned so much from the practice. The next post after this one will go into details about those lessons.


Collaborations

As I mentioned in the last section, I participated in a little collab called “The Characters that Define Us.” And by little, I mean over 50 amazing writers baring their souls about the characters that have helped them through thick and thin. Sometimes, these characters helped in small, minute ways. Others have impacted a writer’s life so much that they couldn’t imagine where they would be without them. My piece was about Sonic, of course. Writing about him helped me realize just how wonderful this life really is, even if I complain here and there about certain little things.

I was also a part of the Super Mario Multiverse collaboration set up by The Well-Red Mage in commemoration of Mario’s 35th anniversary. You can find my entry here.

I also participated in a charity stream for Stand Up 2 Cancer (SU2C), run by Andy AKA ProducerBTW. It was a great charity for a great cause. I learned a lot about fundraising and I’m hoping to do more charitable streaming this year. SU2C will be one of those that I’ll be working with for sure!


Patreon-ages

I bit the bullet and became a Patron for Story Mode: The Video Game Podcast. Starring my three good friends: Red (The Well-Red Mage), Blue (Wrytersview) and Ryebread (Retro Game Brews/Beer Ryan), they discuss the gaming news of the week and provide some colourful takes on various topics. They bring up some really interesting stuff and I highly encourage you to listen when you get a chance. The three hosts are hilarious and informative and they may hold differing opinions about certain things, but at the end of the day, they always Agree to Disagree. They are hosted on Buzzsprout, but you can also find them anywhere you find podcasts.


Some Personal Stuff

In spite of the pandemic, 2020 was not a bed of roses around the internet and within the gaming sphere. Toxicity within gaming had reached an all-time high and with people being completely burnt out from all the lockdowns, elections and uncertainty, I saw plenty of falling outs happen among good friends.

Speaking of which, despite being a homebody, I found this past year to be difficult in terms of talking with friends and family. I mean, I’ve been taking this thing seriously. I followed the rules and I’m trying to keep my family safe, but still, I see so many people not taking this seriously and it makes me wonder, are we even doing the right thing here? I dunno. People flaunting the rules, getting together, risking their lives and the lives they impact around them… man, it bothers me a little bit. I get the feeling though that things’ll get better soon. And they better – my mental health needs a bit of relief haha.

Also, right as this pandemic started, Mrs. Coffee had to go to surgery for gallbladder removal. Prior to that, she hadn’t eaten a solid meal in weeks and I was super worried about her… Thankfully, the issue has been fixed and she’s all better now!

If all that wasn’t enough, the calibre of games that were released this year were… mediocre at best? Well, save for a few good and unexpected ones, that is! 


Games, Games, Games

Final Fantasy VII Remake released in March and of course, I had to get it! I didn’t start playing it until the summer though after I completed Book 1. The game started out really strong for me, but the plot direction at the end really threw me off. I’m thinking about giving the game another chance, perhaps when I get a PS5 for the Intergrade upgrade, but I’m flip-flopping about it. I’ll admit, there were a LOT of great things that happened in Remake. The combat system was just flippin’ fantastic and the voice acting was pretty good. While I mained Cloud in most battles, I really enjoyed playing as Tifa. Her techniques are so fluid and powerful and she moves so gracefully! 

Oh my gosh, she’s so gorgeous!

On the flip side, there were a lot of things wrong with it too. The Whispers being my biggest complaint. They were so in-your-face about the fact that “OOOOO you’re ch—-anging the fu——–ture! That’s not allo—-wed!” Honestly, it was really annoying. There were also several awkward moments that, while funny, didn’t really jive well with me. I mean, a dance number? Seriously, I know Cloud is pretty good at most things, but getting up on stage and Bollywood dancing with Andres was not one of those things I was expecting! Especially after the incredibly awkward high-five moment. Despite the alterations, I’m happy that they kept the cross-dressing sequence.

That’s despite the changes they made to the sequence itself…

The moment I was looking forward to the most was the Shinra Tower infiltration… and it was so-so? I liked some of the newer elements, like the detailed break room, but getting through The Drum on the 68th was just weird. Plus, the whole prison break sequence was completely removed and I was a bit disappointed with that. Sneaking around the blood-soaked corridors of the upper floors after being mysteriously released in the original was both terrifying and exciting the first time around. Speaking of blood, the absence of it from JENOVA’s release threw me way off. The purple goop made things interesting, but the blood would have been better.

Icky.

Besides Remake, I played the Sega Ages version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, released the same week as the Sonic the Hedgehog movie, and it was awesome! I wrote a review on both the game and the movie. At this current moment, the game review is unavailable, but give it a few months and you’ll see it up again soon.

On top of that, I played Sonic Lost World for the very first time and I honestly don’t get why it’s so disliked? Sure, the writing was a bit subpar and there were some questionable level design decisions, but the introduction of parkour mechanics felt like a natural evolution on how Sonic is supposed to move. I’m currently writing a review on that game which will be released in a couple of month’s time (due to restructuring on the site that I write for).

So much fun!

In fact, since I dedicated 2020 to be the “Year of Sonic,” I’ve been playing several other Sonic games that I’ve never played before! Some examples include Sonic and Sega All-Star Racing, All-Star Racing Transformed and Tails Adventure.

I also played Final Fantasy XII – The Zodiac Age and Dragon Quest XI – two RPG’s that were phenomenal! I never finished the original FFXII (which I still own for PS2), but the quality of life changes within the TZA edition made it much easier to complete. As for Dragon Quest XI… I love that game! It’s so dense and epic and it pretty much rivals my love for DQ VIII – my all-time favourite entry of the series. I still haven’t finished all of XI just yet – I need to do some grinding and prepare my characters for the ultimate final battle against Calasmos.

In the tail end of the year, I picked up Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse and Shantae: Half-Genie Hero. I only recently started playing them, but oh man, are they a ROMP! Both games have hilarious dialogue and tight gameplay. Half-Genie Hero has tons of alternate game modes to play after the main story, and even includes increased difficulty modes.

One game that I really wanted to play after hearing about it so much was Ghosts of Tsushima. The game itself looks breathtaking – you can visit locales and compose haiku, take photos of beautiful environments, do battle honourably as a samurai or even use less-than-honourable methods to take out the invading Mongol forces. It looks like a treat to play and I definitely need to make it a priority to get this one.

Despite the rest of 2020’s offerings being controversial (The Last of Us 2, Cyberpunk 2077) or just OK (Final Fantasy VII Remake), the standout game for this year, in my opinion, was Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. The story takes place a hundred years before the events of Breath of the Wild and honestly, this era was perfect for a Dynasty Warriors-style game. I’ve only started playing it and I’m having so much fun revisiting the characters and environments that it honestly makes me want to go back and explore the corners of Hyrule once more. What’s more, the combat is exhilarating and mindless! Mowing down hundreds of Bokoblins never felt so good!


So, What’s Next?

2021 is turning out to be a huge year so far. There are so many gaming milestones being celebrated this year alone. Among those include Pokemon, Super Mario 64, Crash Bandicoot and Resident Evil, which celebrate their 25th anniversaries. Street Fighter II and Battletoads celebrate their 30th. Finally, Metroid and Dragon Quest celebrate their 35th!

But there are two anniversaries that are the most important to me. They are The Legend of Zelda, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary and Sonic the Hedgehog, which turns the big 30 this June! To commemorate those milestones, I’ve been playing a plethora of Sonic and Zelda games on my Sunday and Tuesday streams respectively.

Writing-wise, I’ve done at least one collaboration for The Legend of Zelda – I wrote a piece about Zelda II, my favourite in the series. I’ll also be collaborating with a bunch of other writers about the Sonic series and those entries will be coming later this year, post-Sonic’s birthday. 

I’m going to update the site a bit to include links to all my collaborations. I was supposed to do that from time, but I just never got around to it.

Meanwhile, I’m in the planning stages for the next installment of Mobius VII. I’ve started worldbuilding and layout of the plot with the hope that I can start writing the first chapters by around the end of summer. Continuing on the subject of Mobius VII, I’m producing a podcast series on how I wrote the first book. This will be an in-depth discussion on how I framed the plot of FFVII around the Sonic the Hedgehog universe and will include references to various Sonic media and other things. The plan is to have the first ten episodes ready by summer, look forward to more news and progress in the coming months!

There’s also another story here that I need to finish and that is The Legend of Zelda: Black and White – a fanfiction I started on a whim three years ago. It’s a shorter series, with ten or twelve chapters total, so it shouldn’t take too long to finish that one. The layout for it is done, all that’s left is to write the rest of the story out.

As for ongoing posts, I’ll be putting out content every Friday or so. Fridays seem to be the most popular and easiest of days to post, so that’ll be the schedule from now on. Next up will be what I’ve learned from streaming, as I mentioned above.

Finally, in personal news, I’ve been more physically active lately. I felt like my health has been sliding as of late, so I got back into a workout routine and eating right and it’s been a big help so far! I feel a big difference two months in compared to how I started 2021. I’ve also been analyzing and taking notes on several books I’ve read so far this year in hopes to improve my writing. I may be decent right now, but I want to be a better writer for the future! Currently, I’m reading Atomic Habits in the hopes that I can find a way to make writing practise a daily habit. Spur of the moment things are great, but I need to put out stuff consistently while keeping up with other projects.

And with that, we come to the end of this very long update! I promise these posts’ll be shorter haha. How has 2020 treated you? Have you become stronger in spite of the challenges faced over the past year? Let me know in the comments below.

With that, this has been Ryan reminding you not only to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing, but to Live With No Regrets, Believe In Yourself and Chase After The Impossible! See you all next time!


Mobius VII – Book I – Afterword and Acknowledgements

Holy crap, it’s done.

After almost 15 years, Book I of Mobius VII has been completed and published to the world. As I’m writing this from my loyal and dedicated streaming rig in my basement/home office, I still can’t believe that this has happened. That’s actually the first thing I want to thank: the machines that have carried me so far in my journey.

I started writing this story on a chunky HP laptop running a Pentium 4 processor. That hefty machine helped me write the first original 18 or so chapters until I upgraded to a slimmer and more powerful laptop. I wrote the next five on that one before I scrapped the original draft and started the rewrite. When that laptop crapped out on me, I switched to a ultra-portable 2-in-1 hybrid laptop. It was severely underpowered, but was light enough to carry around and write with. It’s the computer that I built Games with Coffee on.

A year or two after that, the laptop’s keyboard became unresponsive and I had to purchase workarounds to keep up with writing. I eventually bought a refurbished laptop who’s screen broke about two years ago. That’s when my cousin, Lee, came in and offered his assistance. He recently upgraded his PC and offered to build a rig of my own using the old spare parts that he would have thrown away otherwise. I graciously accepted his offer and so I have to thank him and my beloved rig. Without his help and without this powerhouse of a computer, I would probably still be working on this first book at this very moment.

I also want to extend thanks to my younger brother, Shane. He was my original beta reader from day one. He listened to my crazy ideas and understood my passion towards this project. Though he oftentimes mentioned that I drove him nuts, he nevertheless was my sounding board and confidant during the early years of the story. Eventually, he stopped being my beta, because he told me (in his own words), “This thing is too damn long.”

Thanks also goes to my other two beta readers: The Mail Order Ninja aka Daniel Flatt and Winst0lf aka Bizzaro aka Craig Rathbone. Those two guys were both instrumental in making sure that Book I looked and sounded its best and my biggest hype men for spreading the word about it. You guys are amazing and I cannot thank you both enough for all your efforts, both big and small.

I also want to thank Moses Norton and Chris Durston, authors of “The Last Stitch Goes Through The Nose” and “Each Little Universe” and personal friends in the games writing sphere. You both really inspired me to get this thing finished once and for all.

Thanks goes to Alfonso aka Infernal on Discord, who has told me that this was his very first fanfiction and that he greatly enjoyed it. Thank you for putting in such a great word about the story man, it really boosted my confidence. Thanks also to Jeffery aka Virtua Neptune, a fellow writer and a fun guy to hang out with. I always appreciate our talks.

To my dear, recurrent readers, thank you, thank you, thank you. I’m so glad that I was able to deliver a story that kept you coming back for more. More than that, I’m glad you enjoyed it!

I want to send a special shout out to DirtySciFiBuddah aka Kent Wayne, who has never failed to like each chapter of the story. Much love to you, my man. I have to check out your work sometime as well.

To my family members who have read this story, thank you for doing so. Yes, this was ambitious and maybe a little out there for some of you guys, but I still appreciate the support!

Also, thank you mom and dad. Dad for teaching me the love of reading at a young age, and mom for always pushing me, even if we argued constantly because of it.

Thank you to the creators of Sonic the Hedgehog and Final Fantasy VII. Without those two, I’d never be who I am today.

There are two other very important people that I need to thank and those are my wife, Usha and my son, Arjun. Ush is my planner babe and quite possibly the biggest reason I write. She inspires and pushes me creatively and though I doubt I can ever reach the heights she’s rapidly ascending to, at least she’s pulling me up alongside her for the ride.

As for Arjun… Son, I did it. Though you may be reading this years and years from now (Hopefully the site stays up for that long!), know that you’ve been a big part as to why I got this first book finished. Here, I’ve proven that I can finish what I start, even if it took way longer than it should have. I hope I made you proud, boy.


So, what’s next?

Well, good news is, Book II is definitely happening. I’ve started something that I can’t just abandon now. As the saying goes, there ain’t no gettin’ offa this train. So, Book II will be coming. I have a base layout of what this next installment will span. Know that as of Chapter 42, things will progress similarly to the original game, but differently at the same time. There will be familiar events as well as new scenarios that bring to light some of the events that unfolded prior to the beginning of the story. These include the war on Mobotropolis, for instance.

The plan is to start the layout fairly soon; say around summer or so. From there, I’m hoping to start the first draft in the winter and have the whole thing ready to edit and beta by the end of 2022. So, there’s gonna be a bit of a wait, unfortunately. However, I’m not leaving you all hanging! In between now and then, I want to share with you the process, the inspirations and some of the secrets within the story through a podcast! I’m laying out the groundwork as I speak, but I’m so excited to share with all of you how this whole thing came to existence!

On top of that, I’ll be porting the story to other fanfiction sites, such as Fanfiction.net, Wattpad and AO3. Call this moment the expiration of the “timed exclusivity” period. The original will still reside on Games with Coffee, along with all the extras, such as Character Bios and the World Archives. Those will be updated more frequently from this point on.

It’s late now as I finish writing this up and I feel a mixture of pride and sadness. Pride because it’s done. Sadness also because it’s done. But though every journey has an end, the beginnings of the next one are just around the corner. Here’s hoping that all of you will join me when it begins. For now, I’ll sign off by saying three simple things:

Live with no regrets.

Believe in yourself.

And Chase the Impossible.

See ya next time.

~Ryan

Secret Valentine: Brought to you by Adventure Rules!

Happy Valentines Day from Games with Coffee!

Ian from Adventure Rules had initiated a fun way to celebrate the occasion: Writing about a Secret Valentine! A bunch of us bloggers signed up and were given individuals in the blogosphere to write up about.

On today’s edition, I’ll be sharing my secret valentine, who is a mother of two, twin toddlers, and has shared her experiences and struggles to become a mother, along with advice to new and expectant mothers – Debi from Womb 2 Cradle n’ Beyond!

There are but a few posts on her blog, but they are all very meaningful and can help with couples struggling to conceive. I can somewhat relate with this; it took us quite some time for us to have a baby of our own, partially due to wanting to wait until we were ready and partially due to unexpected problems while trying to conceive. Today, our little baby bean is now over a month old! I have not had any proper sleep for a month and I’m thrilled about it! (Thank the Gods for Coffee!)

Below are a few posts that you guys should take a look at, especially if you’re thinking of bringing in a Lvl. 1 Human into your party!


One post lists the several causes of infertility and what both men and women can do to help boost fertility. The post is very informative and the advice given can be applied to both men and women alike. (it takes two, remember?!)

Another notes the top 10 myths about pregnancy and miscarriage. I wish I read this list earlier, since my wife (who, as a lettering hobbyist, is damn good at making words look pretty), is obsessed with pineapples and papayas and abstained from eating them throughout her pregnancy, fearing that she wouldn’t conceive or she would give birth prematurely if she ate it. She has indulged in eating copious amounts of papaya on a daily basis since giving birth. Fortunately, that myth and others listed in Debi’s post have been debunked, including myths that pregnant women should not work out or drink coffee of any amount.

Finally, she has a post about how to manage commonly occurring ailments during pregnancy. It’s super helpful for both men and women, since they can take the steps listed to alleviate some of the common status effects pregnancy can inflict on their favourite person, like backaches, heartburn and the like.


These are but a few, but great, examples of the stuff Debi has on her blog. If you get a chance to, check her site out and drop a line!

And Debi, please keep doing what you do; your advice is helpful to a lot of people! Keep it up!

Well, that’s all for today. Join me for the next edition, which hopefully will come soon (or whenever my little buddy gives me chances to write!)

This has been Ryan from Games with Coffee, wishing you all a Happy Valentines Day and reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing!

PSA: See stolen content from content creators? Content theft!

NekoJonez's Gaming Blog

Today, I had an unpleasant surprise this morning on the train to work. I found out that two websites actually stole my content! This was such a let down since the amount of content that was stolen from me is more than just one article. It’s almost all my articles from December. While I was working on contacting other sites and blogs that got content stolen, a good blogging friend of mine Drakulus wrote this article. And it’s actually a great lesson to learn. 

What do you if you come across stolen content? Do you ignore it? Or do you do something about it? What if the stolen content you come across is yours? 

WordPress is a great place to publish content of all sorts. Some people like to use it as a diary. While others, like myself, us it to express their love for gaming by reviewing games, writing…

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