Friday 27 April 2018

Dark Fiction - Horror, Save Us All!

Horror, Save Us All!

By Casey Douglass

Horror, Save Us All!

In every room of every house, there will be a spot where a connection is made with something, or somewhere, else. Luckily for us humans, often that connection is to the very next atom, and all is as it should be. Very occasionally, like, one chance in trillions to the power of lots of zeroes, the connection is to something very remote and very dangerous.

If you have ever taken a pot-bound plant out of its pot and had to pry the roots away from the bulk of soil, you will have an idea of the usual state of our reality. We are pot-bound. Pot-bound is safe. If even one of those roots, by way of a crack or split, finds its way outside of its usual confines, it carries a very high chance of being bitten off by some roaming bug or creature. Such is the chance our reality takes when it pushes into the realms around it. Or they encroach into our own.

Many horror authors know that reality is a feeble thing, that its skin brushes up against horrors and beings that we cannot even comprehend. These things leach through the divide and upset the balance. Our dullard minds don’t perceive this changing of things directly, but on a reptilian level, our bodies notice, and our minds scream. This makes us stupid. Angry. Destructive. It only takes one look at current events to see this playing out on the world stage. We can channel this fear.

The only deterrent is horror, pure, bloody, twisted horror. To fill our minds with the creations of our own dark sides, to drizzle our mental mashed potato with the gooey red blood of our worst nightmares. Other realities and monsters unseen just aren’t prepared for the depravity contained in the three pounds of flesh quietly flashing with neural lightening between our ears. Let them come if they  dare to, but we won’t be the ones squealing into the abyss with our tails tucked between our legs.

So go out and support the horror writers around you, buy their writing, spread their dark visions, and help inoculate and boost the defences inherent in the human arsenal. This universe might not be solely ours, but hot damn if we can’t have it, neither can they!


I started to write this with just the idea of the "dark things connecting" theme, but it soon turned into a kind of horror writer propaganda piece designed to sell horror fiction as savior of the world. Who'da thunk it. Thanks for reading.

Thursday 26 April 2018

Blinking Heck – When Games Resonate in Unforeseen Ways

Blinking Heck – When Games Resonate in Unforeseen Ways

By Casey Douglass

Anyone who knows me or reads my posts will likely know that I play horror game Dead by Daylight. After reaching Rank 1 as both Survivor and Killer, I decided to devote myself to mastering the Nurse, the Killer widely viewed as the very best, when played by skill fingers at least. My general Killer skills are decent: reading and predicting Survivors, robbing them of their lives usually coming reasonably easily. Playing Nurse is like putting the spotlight of scrutiny on these skills. If you can’t mind-game or predict accurately, you’ll be chasing shadows all game long.

This difficulty in mastery comes from her unique Blink ability: being able to teleport through obstacles. First, you have to get the muscle memory and timing set in your head in order to be able to Blink the distance you would like to, and to land where you hope to. This, for me at least, only came through hours and hours of play. I didn’t have to ‘try’, it just kind of clicks. The kicker is that after you Blink, the Nurse is hit with a large “Fatigue” effect, where she looks down to the ground, sighs, shakes, and generally makes it hard to see where a Survivor has run to for a few seconds.

I’ve made great progress with learning the Nurse, going from barely getting a few hits per game to averaging one or two kills. The strange thing is that, on recent nights, I’ve just lost interest mid-game. It seems to take about 30 mins. Last night I downed a Survivor, and I just couldn’t be bothered to pick them up and hook them. I went to the Killer basement for a few minutes instead and just rested in the dark corner. This is something I’ve not done with any other Killer in the game, and I only this morning, seem to have a guess as to why.

I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I suffer with exhaustion all day every day. I suspect that something about the Nurse’s exhaustion effect is tapping into my own feelings of despair and helplessness, and this is twisting my mood after prolonged exposure to her play-style. I mean, the game in which I just couldn’t be bothered to hook the downed Survivor, it’s not as if I couldn’t catch someone. I wasn’t angry, stressed or annoyed, it was just like someone drained my interest in what I was doing. After a short time doing nothing in the basement and hearing the exit gates power, I felt able to come out again and ended up damaging all the Survivors before they were able to escape.

It’s a strange thing, and I’m not sure if it’s just my mind reaching for connections that aren’t there, but it’s something I will be reflecting on for a little while. Sadly, my exhaustion doesn’t come from using some god-like ability such as teleportation, but maybe I do have some more mundane ability that is going unnoticed. Who knows. I can certainly keep a Fruit Pastel in my mouth without chewing. I hope that’s not it, that’s a bit dull. Oh, I do have the ability to meet up with women and the very next person they meet, they end up getting married to. That could be construed as a superpower I guess, even if one that doesn’t benefit me. Might make a bit of money from being some kind of love lucky charm though, more than spitting out words ever earns me anyway.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday 24 April 2018

Dark Fiction - The Parable of the Self-Editing Human

The Parable of the Self-Editing Human

By Casey Douglass

The Parable of the Self-Editing Human

There was once a man who was wholly dissatisfied with the way he was. He disliked his external looks while also cringing away from his internal world. He was a brilliant mind in the world of science, and it was here that he met his downfall.

Utilising his vast expertise in many fields, he discovered a way to change his appearance, his body and his brain. The machinery to do so bankrupted him, but he believed all would be fine if he could just fix his flaws.

He began with small changes: an adjustment to his nose, a change in eye colour, the correcting of an arthritic joint. He felt slightly better about himself with each small change, and so fell into the trap of thinking that bigger changes would yield higher amounts of self-satisfaction.

He became more ambitious, changing his muscle structure, sluicing fat from unwanted places, broadening his shoulders, extending his penis. He praised himself on the self-restraint he displayed on this last one, only making it big enough to ease his concerns of being below average in that department.

It was during his renovations that he realised he had little idea as to what the most attractive features were for a man. He made copious use of his research network, and even ran his own experiments with photo sharing and rating websites. He posted photos with one variable changed in each picture, and gauged the results by way of the likes and favourites that each image garnered.

His form continued to change as he incorporated the spoils of each research project into his being. He began to be pestered in the street by all varieties of people of any gender, people that wanted to know more about this alluring and handsome man, particularly why he strolled in such a hunched manner.

The man’s changes had done little for his underlying mental states, and it was towards these that his mind now turned. Every undesirable thought and emotion was erased, deleted and binned. The slightest irritation was muffled by a pillow of quietude, every surge of panic castrated and evaporated by the humming machine nodes attached discretely to his spine. He began to walk more upright, more assured.

It only took seven days for his body and mind to be purged of all unpleasant fears, doubts and emotions. He stood before the mirror and gazed at the reflection, but rather than this being a case of narcissus, he realised that the stranger before him was both him and not at all him. He felt null about this, the closest he now came to any uncomfortable emotion, and promptly asked his machine to remove this feeling too.

He was still hounded by a strange disconnect while he went about his days, and with no real caution left, he attempted to erase all memory of who he was before his change. It was a delicate affair, having to unpick all imagery and sensation that linked to the old him, while not affecting any other content in his mind. His intelligence collapsed in the manner of someone sucking the air out of a balloon. First it wrinkled, then it shrivelled, then it lay limp and motionless. The machine could not search and sort with the accuracy required to preserve his personality.

In the process of trying to improve himself, the man lost himself, and it is for this reason that the State of Jitan Six has decreed that humans are only permitted to make three minor changes in one lifetime. They are a peculiar race, and wholly untrustworthy with the technology at their disposal. They are still integrating into the Galactic Council. They are young and they will learn, but for now, we must moderate them before they eradicate themselves or worse, become a danger to the other species under our care.


Monday 23 April 2018

Dark Fiction - Patterns of Wetness

Patterns of Wetness

By Casey Douglass

Patterns of Wetness

(A story containing horror, sexual stuff and strong language, so stop reading now if that bothers you.)

The two pints hit the table with about as much care as a mistress caning her slave.
‘Jesus Mike! You’ll spill it all!’
Mike dropped onto the bench opposite, a big grin on his face. ‘Never mind the fucking beer, look at the Nookie Booth!’
Arnold twisted his neck to take in the view behind him. Across the pub sat, what was affectionately known as, the Nookie Booth. It was also called the Fuck Seat and Juice Caboose, depending on who was doing the giggling. It had become the go to spot for couples that might just be feeling a bit too frisky for public view. The in-joke was that, even though it was kind of around the bend from the bar, at least half the pub could still see what was going on.
Arnold appraised the couple occupying it now, a pretty thirtyish blonde and her greying male companion. Their lips were locked, their hands pushed deep into the each other's crotch. Arnold turned back to Mike and grinned at Mike’s expression. ‘You perv!’
‘Hey, I’ll take what I can get!’
‘So I’ll spend the whole time we chat talking to the side of your face?’
‘No mate, I’m listening!’
‘Just look at me from time to time then!’ Arnold laughed.
Mike blew his cheeks out, took one last look at the couple and then swivelled his eyes to face Arnold. After a long look he said: ‘You look tired mate.’
‘I am. I’ve not been sleeping well.’
‘Maybe an early night might help?’
‘Hmm, well what I said isn’t quite right. I sleep all the night through, I just don’t feel rested when I wake up.’
‘Any reason do you think?’
‘Strange dreams.’
‘What kind of dreams?’
‘Weird, twisted ones.’
‘Oh yeah?’
‘Not twisted in a sexual sense.’
Mike glanced back at the couple. ‘Woo, I wouldn’t want to be the one to have to clean that booth!’
‘You don’t clean anything Mike, I’ve seen your place!’
‘True, true!’ Mike laughed. ‘So what are these dreams about?’
‘A strange city.’
‘What, like Hull?’
‘No. Not like anything on Earth. This one’s dark and warped, like a really old place that existed before humans were around.’
‘You’ve been reading too much Lovecraft!’
‘I’ve not read any Lovecraft for years! I’ve not read much at all lately.’
‘So what happens in this city?’
‘Nothing. It’s abandoned by the looks of it.’
‘So what do you do in the city?’
Yep. For hours and hours, taking in the sights, breathing the air, watching the lights.’
So it’s not totally dark?’
No, there’s a kind of green halo of light that shimmers high up in the sky. It glints back off the black stone architecture in a really odd way.’
Fucking Lovecraft mate, I’m tellin’ you!’
It’s similar I'll admit, it just doesn’t ring true.’
Hold on a second mate!’
Mike wriggled on his seat and produced his smartphone. He swiped a few times, made it beep, and propped it against his glass on the table. The lens pointed towards the Nookie Booth.
It’s heating up I take it?’ Arnold said.
Mate, let’s just say I can see a sausage and no one ordered a hotdog!’
You’re filming it?’
Of course. You know me. I’m going to put it on xHamster and get a shit ton of views for my channel.’
Oh, the Pub Special of The Day channel?’
You remembered!’
Jesus Mike!’
I blur the faces!’
Mike lowered his face to the screen, nodded and looked back at Arnold. ‘It frees my attention for you though!’
So you walk a lot in this dream city?’
I sure do. Seems like miles and miles.’
Anything jump out at you, architecture wise?’
It all looks the same in a way, like walking on a revolving sphere that gives the illusion of travel. I feel like I’m moving but that everything is the same as I pass it.’
You’re telling me.’
How does it end? Do you wake up while everything is still revolving?’
I get to a plaza of some kind, one with a giant fountain in the middle.’
I’m guessing it doesn’t have a peeing cherub?’
No. It’s a big obelisk thing. It must be hundreds of meters high, and I don’t think the stuff running down it is water. It’s thick and a bit gloopy. A bit like-’
Gironimo!’ Mike sniggered as he looked past Arnold.
I don’t need to know.’
She doesn’t look too happy! Think he broke an agreement, if you know what I mean!’
You know you’ll have my conversation on the audio of your sex video.’
I’ll only upload the visuals Arnold. Relax. I’ll put some jaunty music on it, something from the 70’s to evoke the old British sex film vibe.’
You put far too much effort into all this Mike!’
It’s my passion, what can I say!’
Give me a P. Give me an E. Give me an R-’
Mike retrieved his phone and stopped the recording. As he did so, he asked: ‘So this city, is it scary? Is that why you don’t sleep well?’
No, not in the slightest.’
Well, maybe it’s not the dream, maybe it’s something else making you tired.’
Could be.’
I erm, I should get going,’ Mike said as he downed his pint.
Arnold knew why he wanted to go, knew the rush he was in to upload his bounty. He didn’t mind. Mike was okay. A good guy behind the obsession with filming shit like this. ‘No worries Mike, catch you later.’
Mike smiled, turned and walked away. To his back, Arnold whispered: ‘The only scary thing about the dream city is that I feel more at home there than I ever have here.’
He ran a finger down the condensation on his pint glass and quietly occupied himself by drawing strange patterns of wetness on the dark wood of the table top.


Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed the story, please like and share it on whichever platform you found the link. It would mean a lot to me.

Friday 20 April 2018

Skindred, CKY and Danko Jones Gig Norwich 2018

I had the pleasure of seeing Skindred live again last night, along with CKY and Danko Jones. I'm really shattered from standing for so long but I wanted to write a little something to mark the occasion.

Danko Jones got things up and running with more energy than I really expected for the first band up. I thought they were really good.

CKY were up next and I felt a bit indifferent towards them. I was very tired by that time though, so it could have been more about me than them.

Skindred were up last and rocked the place, as they did when I last saw them. Benji is a cheeky chappy, and their ragga-metal sound infected the crowd from the get-go. They played a good mixture of songs, and new track That's My Jam is certainly growing on me.

All in all a great gig, and thank you to my friend Paul for getting me a ticket as my birthday present.

Thursday 19 April 2018

Dark Fiction - Ruptured

Dark Fiction - Ruptured

By Casey Douglass

Ruptured - Written By Casey Douglass

(It's horror, so stop now if you don't like gore or sex.)

I’m a lucky son of a bitch and I don’t mind admitting it. The swarm, when it appeared and started turning people into fleshy water balloons, sure had good timing. I was balls deep in a motel whore when things went south, my aching bones bouncing on the knackered mattress springs of the shitty bed. Luanne was astride me, wriggling and jiggling as I cupped her lovely titties. She was a gem, a good fuck, and, now I come to think of it, didn’t charge me as much as the other drivers. Sometimes she even let it slide until next time.

‘You’re too cute to charge honey,’ she’d said once. I’m really not. I’m an ugly pot-bellied truck driver who’d never get sex if I didn’t pay for it, and I know it! Shit, I’m getting maudlin now. Where was I?
Oh yeah, she was fucking my brains out when she yelped and rubbed her arm. ‘Some dang thing just bit me!’ she pouted.

‘Aw don’t pay it no heed, just another fan wantin’ a piece of you!’

She giggled and set to her rocking again. She stopped a few seconds later though, her cheeks flushing ruby, along with the rest of her face, her neck, holy shit, her everything.

‘I don’t-’ she managed before she popped like a water-balloon.

Shit man, it was like someone had dumped a bucket of slop over me, and thrown a raggedy old towel on me after! I was covered in Luanne, her gore and burst skin. I didn’t even scream as it was all in my mouth, my eyes, my hair. As it turned out, it was lucky I didn’t holler as it meant I heard the buzzin’.

A lone midgie circled near the stained ceiling fan, lazy and plump in a really strange way. It’s body looked wrong, that’s the only way I can really describe it. Another joined it and they diddled around and around. Shocked as I was, I remembered Luanne’d been stung, but I was frozen. Well, another one joined the first two, and before long the room was infested. I braced myself, waiting for the bite that would likely see my slop added to the bed, but it never came. I must have passed out because they were there one minute, gone the next. The light had changed though, so yeah, I’d passed out.
Along with being ugly, I’m not a smart man. I don’t mind admitting it. Is what it is. I did realise that maybe they’d left me alone because they couldn’t find me though. On account of Luanne’s... erm, remains. 

I got up, feeling the slick stuff slide down my body like day old jello. I looked out at the dawn through the smoke encrusted curtains and swore at the view. Blisters of gore were scattered around the parking lot, flaps of skin and crimson blotting the gravel. I ran to the bathroom and puked in the bathtub, didn’t have no time for getting to the toilet.

It was a rough day after, but I got through it. And the next. And the next. I was haulin’ food in my trailer when the outbreak happened, so I was set for a good long time. The radio told me the world had gone to shit, so I did the best I could. It was grim, but I had a plan and I stuck to it.

Now I’m sitting pretty in my tent, miles from anywhere, with enough supplies to last a good six months by my reckoning. I’ve learned that I’ll do anything to survive, and survive I will.

I don’t sleep that good, but I think it’s the tent. You see... using my head, I collected up the bits of skin left by the popped people, and stitched them into a three season tent I managed to steal from a sports store at the mall. I thought that was bad enough, but that didn’t quite keep me safe until I found I needed to re-wet them with gore each day. It was lucky I noticed the midges getting closer to the sides each night as the flesh dried out. I went back to town and used a carpet cleaner to collect people juice from the ground. The sun had baked most of it outside but in homes, well, rich pickings. It’s sitting in big plastic drums at the back of the trailer now, ready to baste the skin. Uggh. It stinks, but I’d rather struggle sleeping than turn inside out in the night!

The other thing that keeps me awake is the buzzing. You can skirt the swarm in the daytime if you are careful and wrapped up in well-sealed gear, but at night, it comes down and blankets the ground. I think they come down to the ground to fuck. The swarm’s getting bigger, much bigger.

Shit, I don’t think I`ll last long, but I gotta try.

I miss Luanne.


Dead by Daylight Haiku No. 2

Monday 16 April 2018

Undulating Anxiety Waves

Undulating Anxiety Waves

By Casey Douglass

It’s been a few days, and thankfully, my visit to the doctor last week did reassure me somewhat that things were probably okay. I say somewhat, because things are never that simple with anxiety.

Despite my best efforts to relax and be patient, by the time my evening appointment finally arrived, I’d become very tired. This dented any resilience I had to my intrusive thoughts of catastrophe, and so I found myself pretty wound up. Even though some of the tension and fear had gone by going to see the doctor, my mind was still very much in health anxiety mode.

When anxiety hits, it plunges the body into fight or flight mode. Besides the physical changes this brings, such as adrenaline and a racing heart, it affects thought too. After the appointment, my thoughts were still back there, picking things over and trying to find any reason to worry. This wasn’t a conscious thing, more a fearful peeping under the bed to check that the bogey man really wasn’t under there. It was exhausting and upsetting, and my anxiety/OCD being the skilled agent provocateur that it is, it did manage to find areas of uncertainty to latch onto. I felt quite bitter about this, as it’s a sad thing to not be able to find reassurance reassuring, but a common issue with anxiety disorders.

This mental state has improved over the days since, but because it put me into a frame of mind that I’d not been in for some time, it pulled the scabs off a lot of, what I’d thought were, healed mental scars that relate to health. My mind has been like a fly buzzing around a meadow of cow-pats, landing here, then there, then there, rarely settling, but still finding the same old shit to chew over. This general state has also bled into other areas and agitated my OCD to start niggling at things that I was doing well with. Tiring. Fatiguing. Exhausting.

I’ve managed to mostly hold on to my progress in many areas however, which is something. This morning alone something that would have plunged me into despair was dealt with quite nicely. I’m mentally giving myself a pat on the back for that one, hell, a cheeky slap on the backside too. Why not. I did good after all.

Letting time pass is what I need to do, so it’s probably a real bonus that I can’t really delay time anyway, even if I wanted to. The hard thing is doing what I can in the day to not be idle enough to give my thoughts room to wander, but not busy enough to agitate my chronic fatigue syndrome. I get more fatigued as the day goes on at the best of times, and with this comes the lowering of my mental resilience. It’s damned tricky at the best of times, and a balancing act I often feel far too fat for.

Going for a rest now. Thanks for reading :).

Thursday 12 April 2018

The Patient Waiting - Maitri and Health Anxiety

The Patient Waiting - Maitri and Health Anxiety

By Casey Douglass

Blue Buddha - Casey Douglass

I have a doctor’s appointment today. Well, I say today, it’s early this evening, so might just as well be tomorrow. I don’t say this as someone wanting to bash waiting times or the NHS, I’m saying it as someone who knows how appointments can loom over your day, particularly if you suffer with any kind of health anxiety. I’m happy to have it at the time it is, I just need to get there, one second at a time.

It makes me sound like the laziest time-traveller around. I mean, it takes zero conscious effort to move forward in time at the same speed as everyone else. I say conscious because I know that during this time, your body is using chemical reactions and doing other things to stay alive, which is certainly effortful. Unless you are a robot. Hmm, a robot could be viewed in a similar way, using chemical energy in its battery to function. Okay, you might be a human or a robot, it makes no difference to this post I guess. Best of luck to you whichever you are.

I am a patient person. Decades of meditation and living with an anxiety disorder have shown me the virtue of being patient, both for health reasons, and in social interactions. It’s harder some times than others, like when you have a medical appointment looming, but there seems like a whole day between now and then. To top things off, your mind is firmly in the future already, waving from the doctor’s office, speaking to the doctor, getting that verdict on just what is wrong or right with you. That’s the tough part, the continual gentle effort of trying to keep the mind in the present moment. The lure of reassurance fantasies, or worst case scenario horror-fests, is a force that is hard to bear.

Since my current health anxiety flared last weekend, I have been practising the Buddhist notion of maitri, of loving kindness. This entails gently getting the mind to “stay” with whatever is going on in the current moment, to open up to it rather than to close off or push things away. It is something I’ve done before and have found new interest in this past week. I just sit, focus on my breath, and let myself feel what I feel, breathing it into my heart. On the exhale, I see whatever might help that feeling or state being projected to myself, and everyone else in the same situation. So in this case, I might be breathing in nervousness, and breathing out ease. I’m not doing it for any kind of outcome, to “get rid” of the feeling or to change it. I’m just trying to become friends with myself, as sitting with someone and wanting to change them isn’t often borne from a friendly place is it?

So that’s probably me for the day, doing the best I can to spend my time in a way that is helpful, with periods of maitri and rest. I feel that I’ve embraced the chance to practice “being” with how today is panning out, and I can see how it presents an opportunity to open up to things. Hopefully, and signs seem to point this way as far as I can tell at least, things will be, or are, okay. Whatever happens, I want to use this opportunity to grow as a person, as there will inevitably come a time when things won’t be okay, and I’d like to greet that time in as open a way as possible.

Thank you for reading, and I hope your day is going as well as possible.

Tuesday 10 April 2018

Drugged by the Anxiety Rabbit

Drugged by the Anxiety Rabbit

By Casey Douglass

I was trying to decide whether to post a horror story I’ve written, or to write a more personal post. After checking out a particular song, I’ve landed on the latter. The power of music y’all. The song is linked at the end of the post if you want to check it out early doors.

I’ve been having the severest bout of anxiety I’ve experienced in over a decade. It was caused by a health concern that might have some validity, and was something I’d initially dealt with in a skilful, level headed, calm way. By skilful, I mean keeping things in perspective, being accepting, and not going into panic mode with my anxiety disorder. Then, going to sleep later that night, I became very prone to the anxious thoughts hitting home, causing massive whole-body anxiety flushes and agitation. It absolutely wrecked me and kept me awake most of the night. This lowered my resilience in general and left me even more open to my fears.

Anxiety is a bugger. During the day, I can call on more mental elements and tools to balance things and keep myself from chasing the rabbit. Unlike in Alice in Wonderland or The Matrix, following the rabbit when anxious means a topsy turvy adventure into anxiety land. It’s like fake news but more personal, you end up believing your own mind’s propaganda. At night, it isn’t a case of not following the rabbit, its more like the rabbit had chloroform in its little paw, knocking me out and dragging me down that tunnel against my will.

I felt like my mind had been ripped open and become prone to every paranoid fear and thought. I managed three hours of sleep I’d estimate, and none of those were consecutive. I know this shit inside out, have lived with it for more than 25 years, and it still gave me hell. The days since have seen me slowly rebuilding my resilience and perspective, with periods of anxiety rushes, and feelings of fear and doom. Each day has been slightly better than the last in this regard, which I am thankful for, but it all feels so fragile. I am living hour to hour, trying not to think further ahead than that. I’m very tired, very rough, and just trying to gently coax my body out of its sensitized state so that I can make more balanced choices in things. It has also been a balancing act when it comes to my usual Obsessive Compulsive tendencies, not letting myself slip back into old behaviours, as that will just compound things. On the plus side, my anxiety has left me nauseous which has cut down my usual levels of comfort eating. A small positive there at least.

I’ve been trying to write or post something each day, even if it’s just a tweet. I’m not sure how much sense they make as my mind is pretty foggy but at least I’m trying. I’ve had no paid work since 2018 started, and that’s a mixed blessing right now. I’m so so tired. Finding stuff to write purely for myself is helpful to give me a focus without the stress of someone wanting something to be a certain way, but on the other hand, fuck, I hate feeling like such a failure when it comes to making a go of this writing thing. At the moment, I have bigger fish to fry just getting through the day though, so I can think about it and not feel too down.

Thanks for having a read, and thanks to anyone who has interacted with me in the last three or four days on social media, I appreciate it. Social media isn’t the best of places a lot of the time, but it’s always lovely to see there are some nice people on there too.

Oh. The song. Korn’s Jonathan Davis has a solo album coming out, and What It Is is a track from it. Really liking it right now:

Monday 9 April 2018

Dark Music Review – Visitors

Dark Music Review – Visitors

Review Written By Casey Douglass


Aliens are a funny bunch. If they aren’t lubing up the old anal probes, they are starring in our films and taking out their aggression on our national monuments. Still, the cinematic treatment they get is often a majestic thing to see, especially if they’re here to exterminate us all. Hey, I’m a horror writer, you shouldn’t be surprised that I like my aliens aggressive. Visitors is a dark ambient album from Eximia, and, judging by the description below, it should be the perfect accompaniment to some dark fantasising:
EXIMIA presents us with a sound design and field recording heavy album about an alien invasion. You won't find many harmonic elements on this album. It instead serves as a backdrop where Dominik has crafted a soundscape that sucks you into it's atmosphere. "For centuries people have been looking at the stars, wondering if we are alone in this infinite universe, or if there is someone else out there. Would they be friendly and if not, would we be ready for them? They came without warning. Our weapons pointless against these behemoths covered by storm. When I lay my eyes at their divine beauty in all it's power and destruction, I feel no anger nor sorrow, I feel awe. Our new gods have arrived." Highly recommended for fans of field recording and closed eyes listening.

I really really enjoyed the time I spent listening to Visitors. The soundscapes were hushed, dark, windy things to begin with, but the bass pulses and ululations of the strange alien invaders soon add extra elements to draw the listener's fascination and awe. Fantastical cries and calls sound across large soundscapes, the leviathan spaceships hanging still in the sky as if they had always been there. It’s cinematic and very well done indeed.

The aliens themselves put me in mind of the kinds seen in films like Monsters, and even the fog-horn like blaring of those seen in things like Skyline and Cloverfield Lane. The tracks give the impression of dark landscapes being buzzed by glistening craft, strange lights and sirens signalling both communication and threat at the same time. Moments of peace merge with moments of activity as vast forces are afoot.

Visitors joins the rare collection of dark ambient albums that I’ve listened to twice in one sitting. There is something relaxing and tranquil about impending alien-fuelled catastrophe, about creatures overseeing the Earth and not caring one jot about the strange monkey-like beings screaming and panicking below as their end approaches. One track even features said screaming (Extinction). Others feature air-raid sirens (First Contact), crackling lightning and the rumbling of monstrous footsteps hitting the ground (World Without Man). What every track certainly contains however, is a deft touch, the low-key vibrations of threat bumping up nicely against surprising sounds and calls from aliens and their technology.

It was a pleasure to listen to Visitors, and if you are a dark ambient fan, I definitely recommend adding it to your collection.

Check out the Visitors page on Bandcamp here for more information, and be sure to check out Day One below:

I was given a free copy of this album to review.

Album Title: Visitors
Artist: Eximia
Label: Cryo Chamber
Released: Apr 03, 2018

Saturday 7 April 2018

Tips on How to Reach Killer Rank 1 in Dead by Daylight

Tips on How to Reach Killer Rank 1 in Dead by Daylight

Written by Casey Douglass

Who’d have guessed that playing an invincible killer in a horror game would actually be the game’s hard mode? I certainly didn’t when I bought Dead by Daylight almost a year ago, but after around 400 hours of play, and having recently reached rank 1 for both Survivor and Killer, it really is much more challenging than the Survivor side. I wanted to put a few thoughts down about how I achieved Killer rank 1, on the off chance that someone else might find them useful.

Learn the game from both perspectives

It’s amazing how beneficial it can be to see and experience how the other side plays. Even though I view myself as a Killer main, I still play Survivor at times, and I even got my rank 1 on the Survivor side before the Killer side. Knowing how Survivors think and move is invaluable when it comes to chasing them down, particularly their perks and how they work. Faking out a D-strike or a Dead Hard continues to be one of the game’s great pleasures for me. It can also be useful to experience just how much the Survivors can see with their third-person camera, and the kinds of spaces, nooks and crannies that they can hide in unnoticed.

Find your level

I played without rank in mind for months and months. I have limited gaming time due to chronic illness, so I wasn’t even sure it would be possible for me to get to the highest rank in the gaming time I had available, even if I pipped every game. The rank reset each month loomed large in my mind. So I initially played for bloodpoints and levelling my characters, getting the perks that I felt I needed to be competitive. After a few months, I regularly found myself hitting the mid-ranks (which I view as around rank 10) without much effort, and that even included some messing around with unfamiliar Killers and perks. When I realised that I was no longer a newbie and could rise up the ranks part of the way without trying, it gave me the confidence to try to go higher, even though I’d heard that high rank games were the most stressful.

Set small goals

Initially, I hoped to gain one rank per play session, which meant getting at least 4 or 5 pips per 90 mins of play. I did achieve this for a decent length of time, but some evenings, where I lost more games or only safety pipped, I just settled for even one pip more than when I’d started that session. Once I’d gotten into the higher ranks (I’d say from 7 onwards), I lowered my expectation to 3 pips progress per evening. I knew that if I steadily got those, I’d have time to reach top rank before the rank reset. This took some of the frustration out of the losses and games that people rage quit, or that didn’t even start with a full complement of Survivors. Work out how much time you have to play, and how long there is until the next reset (the 13th of every month), and come up with a vague idea of where you need to be by when.

Stick to one or two Killers

I enjoy playing a variety of Killers but I am certainly better with some than others. I got to rank 1 as The Pig, with the odd game as Huntress and Myers. I didn’t play any other Killers in this time and I think it helped me hone my Pig skills. Her reverse bear traps varied from game-changing to useless, but they often keep a Survivor busy for awhile. I’m getting flashbacks to the game where Survivors seemed to get them off at the first Jigsaw box they went to every time. That wasn’t fun, but was an exception really. Learn your Killer’s maximum lunge and when best to use their unique ability. As far as The Pig, her sneak attack is poor at high ranks so I rarely used it, save for a few instances of looking for the last Survivor as they searched for the hatch. I admit I did use it to tea-bag a tea-bagging Dwight once though. I hope he enjoyed it as he bled to death on the ground.

When going for rank, any notions of “niceness” need to be left at the door

I always used to feel a little guilty when a Survivor was about to die early in the game, and often would let them go and find someone else. If you do this at the high ranks, quite bluntly, you will get shit on. The same goes with giving the last Survivor the hatch. I liked to do that too, but if you’d get a double pip with that last kill (you won’t always because of rage quits etc.) sling that Survivor on a hook! That double pip will compensate for a game you might have later where you don’t manage a single kill. I’ve had any number of evenings where I’ve lost two or three games in a row, but then bounced back with a couple of “double pippers”. Every pip matters, so get them when you can. The chances are high that the Survivor you let go will be one of the ones tea-bagging and calling you a noob after the game anyway.

Be Ruthless

If you come across a Survivor that has just been unhooked, kill them! If there is a better target, maybe away from pallets, go for that person instead. Whatever you do, don’t dilly-dally with vague feelings of guilt, or fear of being called that lovely word that Survivors created: “tunneller”. Don’t be afraid to stay near the hook if you hook someone either. You’ll get called a camper anyway, even if you don’t camp, so who cares? You need to pick the strategy that gets the job done. You’ll hear all sorts of bollocks along the way: “Camper, tunneller, gen-minded, proxy camper, baby killer, respect the 4%” etc. You'll also be threatened with being reported about said things, even though they are not against the rules. It’s a total waste of time to read their blabbering, and the poor level of understanding and skill some in this community have often truly amazes me. Also, make sure you report the people who are really abusive, with their death threats and general keyboard warrior gobshite attitudes. They are the ones that will get banned. I know not all Survivors are like this, some are decent, mature people, but they don’t tend to be the ones you’ll hear much from after a game.

Hide the end-game chat.

I’ll say it again. Hide the end-game chat. I always like to give a “gg” or even a “gg wp” when a game finishes. I certainly never give people shit. Sadly, many Survivors do, and I’d rather risk missing the odd decent Survivor in a bid to definitely miss the salty ones. I used to keep the chat open and have a good giggle at how enraged people got, but even if you find the words funny, they still get into your mind. Basically, end-game chat often boils down to certain Survivors wanting the Killer to justify why they played a certain way, and, sadly, the Survivors only prove how ignorant they are about the game and the rules. Dead by Daylight is a pretty liberal game when it comes to its rules. As long as you don’t cheat, exploit or be abusive in chat, any strategy or play-style is allowed. It’s down to the other side to decide how they react via their in-game tactics, and if they don’t react well, they lose. Sadly, some people don’t know how to lose with dignity, and the Dead by Daylight community is one of the most toxic I’ve ever experienced, and I’ve experienced lots of the usual suspects in my gaming life. Hide the chat.

How to Untilt

You will get frustrated, angry and vexed at times, and when this happens, it’s quite easy to get tilted, to start to play in a way to deliberately take your mood out on the Survivors. This might be Insidious Butt Camping as Leatherface, or going on a slugging frenzy, to name just a couple of scenarios. I became tilted in around three play sessions. I got tired of chasing t-bagging arseholes and when I hooked one I just stood and hit them to make them scream. That’s not me, and not my usual style of play. It also didn’t help me feel any better. I think the trouble comes with expectations.

When you down a Survivor, it’s easy to think “Woohoo, I got a hook!”. Except you haven’t. You are still mid-celebration when the decisive strike hits, and suddenly your mood sours in an instant. It doesn’t take too many instances of this happening to make you annoyed and frustrated. The trick I used was to keep myself "in the now". When I downed someone, I’d try to think “Hmm, got one on the floor, now let’s see if I can pick them up without getting flash-lighted”. Basically, I would try not to assume that the next part of the process was a “given”. This resulted in less frustration, and more equanimity. This translated into being more relaxed and playing at a higher level, which turned into getting kills more easily. Those zen-like games where everything goes your way and you dance through the Survivors in some kind of murderous tango and get the four kills are amazing. I can’t remember ever having a game like that where I was fuming and uptight.

Decide on your preferred play-style and then adapt if you need to as a round goes on.

If I feel that I am in control of a game, I will be more free and easy with chases and running around the map. If on the other hand, the Survivors have gotten four gens done and I’ve only just hooked my first Survivor, I will stay close and use them as bait to get the others as they come for the rescue. I prefer more chases and more mind-games, but if the game is going against me I'll switch things up to the “bait and wait” technique.

Bait and Wait is particularly good against a survive with friends group who are likely on voice-coms and who you’ll find swarming the hook as soon as you pick someone up. I’ve had a number of games where I’d pick up a downed Survivor and then see the other three clustered around the nearest hook, with no other hook close enough to get to. I get a few free hits, but the chances of getting a hook in those circumstances are slim. If they do this to me more than once, when I do get someone hooked I will camp them very tightly, as I’d have no idea if I’d get another hook during that game. Survivors being Survivors, this often turned one kill into a 3 or 4K win for me, as they throw themselves forward to try and save their pal. If you happen to have end-game chat open, this will be very salty after a game like this. The complainers aren’t very bright and can’t seem to fathom why after hook blocking a Killer, the Killer changes strategy and uses their altruism to his or her advantage. Cause and effect baby. Be willing to change strategy mid-game, be flexible and adapt.

I do see a number of Killers who camp the first hooked person early on in the game, and proceed to just blindly camp every person they catch. Fair enough, but it’s a dull way to play and I think it dulls their other skills such as tracking and chasing. Camp when you need to, kill when you want to. Fuck the other side, it’s you or them. Be respectful if you talk to them after the game, but in-game, see them as dead Survivors walking. And if you do lose, take it on the chin and move on without hurling abuse at them about how they played etc. There are things Survivors can do that I do find very irritating, but that’s the game, and when I play Survivor there are things that the Killer can do that aren’t exactly fun either. That. Is. The. Game. Without the shit games, the fun, amazing games would seem less amazing, and there are plenty of tremendous games to be had.

Quick Tips

A few very quick tips to end, seeing as this has turned into a very long post. These are some more things that I found helped me:

Use Hex: Ruin. It gives you the space, if it stays up, to have a more relaxed game. Games are over far too quickly without it at high rank, even though skilled Survivors can work through it. If it stays up long enough for you to down and hook your first Survivor, it did a fine job. If it stays up all game (which is rare), even better.

Always expect a flash light to the face. I very rarely get caught out by flash light saves, because it has become habit to face a wall or to fake the pick-up and get a free hit on the Survivor sprinting up behind me. If the worst happens, listen closely and you might be able to hear where either Survivor has gone while your Killer is blinded. It’s a great feeling to come out of the white screen and still be snapping at the heels of one. Also, if someone tries to flash light you and you can, look up, it's the best way to counteract the blind.

Ignore the clicky clicky flash light player. If a trial begins and someone actively seeks you out, clicking their little toy at you, just ignore them. The chances are high that they will be one of the most skilled players playing on that team, so take a few nibbles out of the others first, the weaker links. That being said, if clicky clicky gets too close and you have the chance, take their arse down. The same could be said for people that run Object of Obsession. Sometimes, Survivors who use these perks are atrocious, but on balance I’d say they are pains in the backside. If they are a Twitch streamer, they often seem to be this kind of player. I occasionally dodge a lobby if Twitch people are inside. I don’t appreciate being entertainment for their channel as they take the piss and generally mess around. They aren’t all like this, but most seem to be.

Game your red stain. The eerie glow that the Killer casts in the direction he’s looking gives away where you are when you are chasing around high walls etc. Walk toward the opening, then moonwalk backwards and turn sharply at the end in the direction the Survivor is likely looping. The number of Survivors I’ve caught out doing this is immense, but good ones will likely not fall for it so easily, so don’t do it every time.

Don’t mind-game every time. If you play in a tricksy manner from the start of the game, intelligent Survivors will realise that you know what you are doing. Make the odd calculated mistake when being looped, and they won’t be able to get a read on you. Eat the odd pallet, don’t change direction every loop, that kind of thing. Get them feeling all confident and cocky and then devastate them.

Watch streamers and YouTubers. Watch people like Hybrid Panda, Tru3talent and TydeTyme. Watching someone with 1000+ hours experience playing Killer will help your game on many levels. I learned the red stain thing from Tru3talent, but I’ve also found myself adopting other bits of gameplay without being wholly conscious of it. It’s a great way to learn the game, but do keep in mind that, particularly on YouTube, you will likely only see the games that the Killer won, not the times they got destroyed. As you play, your own style will emerge. Personally, I make tremendous use of Hangman’s Trick as a perk, yet I hardly ever see anyone else use it, as they tend to favour Iron Grasp or Agitation.

I think that’s about it for now. I’m certainly no expert at Dead by Daylight but my progress since beginning playing has been immense. While the Killer side of the game feels like the side most neglected in balance terms at times, it is still a whole heap of fun if you are in the mood for dishing out some pain. Rank in online games never bothers me as such, but I enjoy Dead by Daylight enough that I wanted to try for it, and I am glad I’ve now done it. I will spend the next month at least rotating more Killers and playing more Survivor, just to chill out and to try different things. With the Emblem System coming at some point, I will more than likely try for Rank 1 again when it releases, because, why not? I know that I can hold my own at the highest ranks now, and I want to play against the best players.

Thanks for reading, and good luck if you decide to try for Rank 1 too.

Sunday 1 April 2018

Dark Review - Lust for Darkness

I was lucky enough to have the chance to check out the beta for Lust for Darkness, a horror adventure game coming to PC soon. It's dark, sexual and sumptuous, and the hour of content contained in the beta really piqued my interest in finding out what happens next. You can read my review on Geek Syndicate here.