EA Play 2018 Conference Review

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EA Play 2018 (Fifa 19, Anthem, Unravel Two Game images).  Image Source: Coming Soon.Net

Word Count (What I’m Writing)

  • Project Paradise Word Count: 357
  • Project Skye Word Count: 1617
  • Project Independence Word Count: 3041 
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

0.  Zero. Nada. Zilch. That’s my level of production since Tuesday of next week.  What happened?  Bad day on Wednesday and a realization that I’m still not focusing on enough on characters when I sit down to “plot” out my stories.  To be fair, school and reading for school interrupted as well as I should write after class (about 4:15pm), but usually end up spending the time in the sun outside watching YouTube videos instead.  

Currently Reading (What I’m Reading)

  • For Fun:
    Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy Novel, Stormlight Archive Book 3)
  • For School:
    Rhetoric in the European Tradition by Thomas Conley (A Book on the History of Rhetoric)
    Rereading the Sophists: Another book on the history of Rhetoric
  • For Research/Personal Development:
    Great Aircraft of WWII by Alfred Price and Mike Spick (for Project Skye)

I wanted to read Oathbringer over the summer break before classes started again, but BS said that it might be helpful to read a Novella entitled, Edgedancer, before starting on Oathbringer.  I finally found a copy at MTSU’s library and I’m reading it now.  X gives a history of Rhetoric.  Great Aircraft of WWII is a book that I’ve had in my collection for sometime–I’ve glanced at it periodically, but never read it cover-to-cover.  Now, with Project Skye, I intend to do just that.

Game Mode On (What I’m Playing)

  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands (Ubisoft Multi-platform): Open World, Third Person Tactical Shooter–About ¾th of the way through.  Special Ops/Military combat in a fictional Bolivia taken over by a Mexican drug cartel.  Difficulty is auto-leveling to its hardest difficulty (Tier One status) and it is slowing down my progress in the game as enemies take more hits to die, but you take far fewer hits to die.  Difficulty is currently set to ADVANCED–the game’s doing, not mine.  Very irksome when all you want to do is finish the game.

  • Until Dawn (Sony PS4 Exclusive): Third Person, Horror– branching storyline game that features a variety of choices that affect the outcome of the story using a system call the “Butterfly Effect.”  As I’m writing this, I haven’t put any time into this game as of this weekend because of E3.

Beginning of E3

So, while “technically,” E3 doesn’t begin until Tuesday (June 12), Saturday marked the beginning of the various E3 Press Conferences from the major game publishers to showcase their new products for the upcoming year(s).  As I type this, Electronic Arts (EA) is the only one to have shown their press conference as of yet (although, by the day this goes live, all of the major platform holders will have presented their shows).  I will wait until next week (June 18th) to start reviewing their shows, but since EA started a day early, I can talk about their 2018 show.

Battlefield V, Indies, Sports Games, and Anthem

While EA debuted and talked about many more than what is in the header above, their show basically broke down into these 4 main sections, with these four areas serving as the main topics of discussion for gamers.  Battlefield V seems interesting, but not nearly as revolutionary as 1) Battlefield One, their WWI game, or 2) as the designers seem to think that it is.  While being a part of the Norwegian Resistance is a novel concept, it doesn’t seem as if they are really invested in “doubling down” on that story to tell a truly “gritty” WWII drama (although it remains to be seen).   There were two notable indies talked about during the press conference, Unravel Two and Sea of Solitude.  While I didn’t play more than a demo of the original Unravel, I didn’t mind it.  It was okay . . . but I’ve played many games like it, so I decided to wait until it was on sale at a very low price (or hope that it would come to the “free” PS Plus games program).  U2 will probably go the same way.  Sea of Solitude (SoS) looks interesting, but as a poor college student, I’ll probably end up passing on it as well.  The sports games all look fine, but EA has pushed me out of the sports game market.  I used to be a heavy sports game enthusiast, but with the inclusion of “franchise” modes, “story” modes, and “ultimate team” modes (virtual trading cards purchased with real currency), I find that I simply can’t play the game like I want to–take my favorite team, play 1 “season,” and see if I can win the championship, and rinse wash and repeat each year, so I stopped buying them.

Anthem

Closing the show was a “deep dive” on the game Anthem.  I’m actually going to save the discussion of Anthem for later as I plan to do individual posts for the most impressive game reveals/game trailers of E3 like I did for E3 2017.  Basically, I’ve heard some position Anthem as a Destiny/Monster Hunter World “clone.”  Long-time readers of the blog know that I’m a hardcore Destiny fan.  However, after the crap EA pulled with Mass Effect Andromeda, while I do plan to “preorder” the game, I will be waiting on reviews before I actually “purchase” it and will switch my money to another game should the reviews be anything less than stellar; I prefer to wait for a significant price drop in the summer and/or as a holiday game rather than pay full price for a game that is less than stellar these days.  Fool me once, EA.  I’ll be waiting on the reviews on this one.

Overall Grade: C-

So, I went back and forth on this one as I really think that this Conference was an improvement to last year’s EA Conference (mostly due to the host Andrea Rene) and it was an example of a “old school” type of conference that was fine in the PS2/PS3 era of gaming.  The problem is that it could have been so much more.  As the unofficial start of E3, everyone always hopes that EA will do better than it does, but EA refuses to actually do what the gamers want–less developers and more gameplay (and more diverse games).  You have the Star Wars license, please show us Star Wars games.  EA has the licenses for the Army of Two series, Battlefield series, Burnout series, Command & Conquer series, Crysis series, Dead Space series, Dragon Age series, Mass Effect series, Medal of Honor series, Need for Speed series, Plants vs. Zombies series, Rock Band series, SimCity series, The Simpsons series, The Sims series, Skate series, SSX series, Star Wars series, Titanfall series (list pulled from front page of Wikipedia).  

They only talked about Battlefield (newest game), Command and Conquer (mobile game–wrong venue as E3‘s audience isn’t really comprised of mobile gamers), The Sims (in pre-show), and Star Wars (and they couldn’t even release a logo/trailer/etc from the newest Star Wars game which isn’t even releasing until holiday 2019).  That’s it.  All those licenses listed above and that’s all the EA showed, knowing full well that gamers want gameplay.  Hopefully, Bethesda, Square Enix, Ubisoft, and Sony will be much more exciting and will feature the games/gameplay that gamers crave.

Here is a super-salty, but condensed version of the press conference that is only 5 minutes long (clean, but very dismissive–probably more than I would I have been, but the summary is on-point):

Well, that’s all I have for now.  Have a great day!

Sidney




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E3 Upcoming

Word Count (What I’m Writing)

  • Project Paradise Word Count: 357
  • Project Skye Word Count: 1617
  • Project Independence Word Count: 3041 
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

I didn’t manage any new words on any of my major projects–I didn’t even manage a blog post.  I realize this is where I’m sabotaging my writing, so I’m redoubling my efforts to write at least 250-500 words each day on at least one of these projects.

Currently Reading (What I’m Reading)

  • For Fun: Edgedancer by Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy Novella)
  • For School: Rhetoric in the European Tradition by Thomas Conley (A Book on the History of Rhetoric)
  • For Research/Personal Development: Great Aircraft of WWII by Alfred Price and Mike Spick (for Project Skye)

I wanted to read Oathbringer over the summer break before classes started again, but BS said that it might be helpful to read a Novella entitled, Edgedancer, before starting on Oathbringer.  I finally found a copy at MTSU’s library and I’m reading it now.  X gives a history of Rhetoric.  Great Aircraft of WWII is a book that I’ve had in my collection for sometime–I’ve glanced at it periodically, but never read it cover-to-cover.  Now, with Project Skye, I intend to do just that.

Game Mode On (What I’m Playing)

  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands (Ubisoft Multi-platform): Open World, Third Person Tactical Shooter–About ¾th of the way through.  Special Ops/Military combat in a fictional Bolivia taken over by a Mexican drug cartel.
  • Until Dawn (Sony PS4 Exclusive): Third Person, Horror– branching storyline game that features a variety of choices that affect the outcome of the story using a system call the “Butterfly Effect.”  My latest choice may have just gotten one of the characters killed.  😦

E3 is Here!

So, next week is E3.  If you don’t know what that is, it stands for the Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) and is the major venue for video game (& entertainment technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR), and Augmented Reality (AR)) announcements and trailers.  While it used to be things that would be coming in the next 6-8 months, now its more like things that you’ll be playing in the next 1-2 years, although there are some exceptions where publishers will pull the surprise, ” . . . and its coming out in four months, in time for Christmas, but that is very much a rarity these days.

The E3 ship is Leaking

While I’m usually excited for E3, I feel this year (especially), the “leaks” as to what will be shown have been particularly revealing in terms of both the number and the difficulty in avoiding them.  More and more YouTubers are putting the titles of the “leaked” line-ups into their thumbnails, making it nearly impossible to avoid.  Yes, I know they do it to drive up their “traffic” (especially, in light of YouTube’s pronouncement that smaller channels would be “demonetized” if they didn’t meet certain thresholds), but still, just say “leak” so I won’t click on the video; please don’t splash the name all over your thumbnail.  Let’s retain some mystery for the show, if you please.

Shrinking the Backlog

However, there is a downside to being a student vs a worker: I can’t game as often as I just to do.  After work, I would often come home and refresh with an hour or two of gaming each night, making significant progress in whatever game I was playing weekly.  Larger games, while taking more time, were still manageable.  However, now I don’t bring my TV and system to school, so I only get to game on the weekends.  Longer games take forever (I’ve been working through Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands since basically Christmas and here it is June and I probably have at least another month/month-and-half to go before I finish it.  Other games have piled up on my backlog and I’ve just stopped purchasing new games entirely until I work down this pile of games a bit.  So its hard to get super excited for the next new thing coming out when you haven’t played the old new thing from last year because you were loaded down with school work.

Now that I’ve discovered video game rhetoric is a thing, however, I’m actually using my video game time as also research time and I’m investigating writing scholarship around whatever game I’m playing.  I’ll let you know how that works later in the summer.

Well, that’s all for me.  I hope that, despite the leaks, E3 still has some surprises left for me!  Happy Gaming!

Sidney




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I earn a small commission on the purchase of these items.

 

Decisions, Decisions–Chromebooks, Apple MacBooks, or Windows Laptops

chromebookvsapplemacbook_YouTube

Word Count

  • Project Paradise Word Count: 357
  • Project Skye Word Count: 1617
  • Project Independence Word Count: 3041 
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

So, yesterday I had the best of intentions–I wanted to write, but I didn’t.  I only managed to “think” about writing.  I intend to do better today.  I’m going to at least “outline” page 13 of the Ship of Shadows project.  Based on the high view rates for Monday’s post–“finishing” projects is what I really need to be working towards.

Currently Reading

  • For Fun: Edgedancer by Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy Novella)
  • For School: (A Book on the History of Rhetoric)
  • For Research/Personal Development: Great Aircraft of WWII by Alfred Price and Mike Spick (for Project Skye)

I wanted to read Oathbringer over the summer break before classes started again, but BS said that it might be helpful to read a Novella entitled, Edgedancer, before starting on Oathbringer.  I finally found a copy at MTSU’s library and I’m reading it now.  X gives a history of Rhetoric.  Great Aircraft of WWII is a book that I’ve had in my collection for sometime–I’ve glanced at it periodically, but never read it cover-to-cover.  Now, with Project Skye, I intend to do just that.

Need a New (Wi-Fi) Laptop for the Summer

So, I have summer classes this year as well as a summer “assignment” to work on during my time at the Writing Center.  While there are computers in the Library that I have been using (including Laptops available for check-out), this still leaves me without a Wi-Fi connected computer while I’m in class, which is a major disadvantage because I can’t look up/refer to PDF documents online, or bring up other websites that might be germain to the discussion.  I love my MacBook Pro (even as old as it is), but the lack of Wi-Fi is a major detriment and deterrent to my being able to write (creatively or otherwise) in “spare” moments.

Chromebook

Right now, I’m leaning towards a Chromebook.  I’ve used them before when I was at East Lake Academy and I understand their limitations.  Basically, Chrome OS is just an upgraded browser with some other features added on to it.  As I really only envision using it as I did at East Lake Academy, for accessing Web Apps, the Web, and viewing/showing video, I’m thinking that a Chromebook should fit the bill.  The only downside to a Chromebook is that it has both limited presentation capabilities and its printing service is terrible.  As I have this computer (& the ones at MTSU’s library), I’m not so concerned with this particular limitation, but Google’s Cloud Printing service just doesn’t work for me.  Of course, neither of my printers are “Cloud Printing” compatible, coming out before this was a thing, but I usually have to connect directly to the printer or “sneaker”-net the file to my printer (or DropBox it, or use a similar solution) in order to be able to get it to print.  As someone who is often writing the document right up to the very last minute, that can make for some very stressful deadlines.

Apple MacBook/Pro

So, all things being equal, this is what I would be buying.  My computer is a 2008 MacBook Pro.  However, I’m in money-saving mode at the moment, and Apple’s products, while great from a usability and aesthetic standpoint, are NOT generally good for the cost conscious.  My plan is to get something that will get me through the summer and then upgrade this laptop to a newer model in the fall (hopefully from the WWDC announcement that should have aired by the time this blog post is published–if there is no Macbook/Pro announcement, then I may look into purchasing a *refurbished* 2015 Macbook Pro model as I can’t justify paying the cost of a 3 year old computer at the exorbitant “new” prices that Apple charges).  I love Apple’s products and their software platform (Independent Developers) create software that I like to use, but I simply can’t justify the expense at the moment.  I have too many other things that need to taken care of first and as a student, money is ALWAYS an issue.

Windows Laptops

So, I understand Windows 10 is doing much better than Wiudows 8 and, by all accounts, is a rock solid operating system.  I just do not like Microsoft as a company and so try to give them as little money as possible until they change their corporate ways (during my first draft of this post, I went into a long diatribe about Halo and the acquisition of companies/technologies, to the detriment of all but Microsoft, but suffice to say, I just don’t want to support MS as a company).  Having said that, if I could find a Windows 10 computer with full functionality, but at a price rivaling a Chromebook, I might look into the it, but the feature set would have to be extremely compelling, and it still wouldn’t be my main “driver” as I still would be looking for a MacBook/Pro in the Fall (either new or old, depending on June 4th’s WWDC announcement).

Anyway, I thought I’d detail some of my thoughts on trying to find a new Wi-Fi “laptop” as I head into the summer.  I’ll keep you posted on what I ultimately decide in a future post.

Sidney




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I earn a small commission on the purchase of these items.

 

So, I, Robot is a “bad” movie? What Gives?

  • Project Paradise Word Count: 357
  • Project Skye Word Count: 1617
  • Project Independence Word Count: 2428 (+71)
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

I managed to add 71 words yesterday, well below my 250 word goal.  In my defense, I only had about 40 minutes in-between assignments, but I probably could have gotten it done, but I had to eat dinner, and eating ribs and typing on a computer keyboard is a recipe for disaster.  I also had time on my breaks, but chose not to work on it.  Instead I skimmed YouTube for most of break time.  Today, I’m going to make a concerted effort to use my break times for writing and save YouTube for the weekend.  We’ll see tomorrow if I make it happen.

I, Robot = “bad”?

So, towards the end of the day at the Writing Center, a discussion emerged about the concept of Artificial Intelligence in video games and movies, and I brought up I, Robot as an example.  Now, I know I, Robot isn’t regarded fondly in the Sci-Fi community, but I was surprised to hear a MA (Master’s level) student pull a “Freshman Fiat.”  This is my term for when a freshman (or any other beginning level student) pronounces that something is “fact” and then provides no evidence for this pronouncement.  He categorically stated that I, Robot was a “bad” movie, but without giving any shred of evidence (such as characterization, plotting, setting, tone, etc) to back up his statement and I was supposed to just agree because that is the general consensus.

But I don’t agree.

Not only do I not agree, but as a student learning more and more about Afrofuturism, I would argue that the general consensus has less to do with the movie’s quality in terms of story construction than it does with the appearance of the hero and the formation of the hero’s identity.

But Looper = “good”?

As a counterpoint to the I, Robot narrative, I would offer the (as evidence, which the other participant in the debate never gave, I must repeatedly emphasize), the movie Looper.  Looper is a time travel story, one which (minor spoilers–skip down if you want to know nothing about the plot) sets the protagonist against an older version of himself.

Looper was hailed as a “great” movie and was critically acclaimed.  It also made its director Rian Johnson a powerhouse in the Sci-Fi movie community (which ultimately lead to The Last Jedi and the splintering of the Star Wars fandom).  However, I found Looper (and The Last Jedi to a lesser degree) to be one of the least inventive, least original, and a movie so lacking in character motivation that it made the main character seem flat and uninteresting.  And yet, this movie is hailed as what we should aspire to in Science Fiction filmmaking, while I, Robot, which tries to explore the idea what a soul is and where does it reside, and can it reside in a machine created by man (i.e, first explored by “high” literature such as Frankenstein, and explored in many different movies, including the highly successful Terminator films).

What Makes It So?

I would challenge viewers to watch (or rewatch) each film and focus on the protagonists–the main characters.  I would also encourage viewers to take a moment to look at the way each character is defined and acts within the context of his respective movie.  Although one is a darker shade in terms of skin tone and borrows from his cultural heritage, I would argue that it is Looper’s protagonist who acts in a more stereotypical way.  The protagonist in Looper doesn’t emote (characteristic of the “strong, silent” type), his actor has the classic “Hollywood” face (“square-jawed”), and the character acts out of a misplaced sense of “love” (the character himself isn’t faced with any overriding conviction), whereas the protagonist of I, Robot hates the robots in his world as a way of displacing his own “self-hate” at the way his circumstances turned out.

I would argue that I, Robot challenges the stereotypical narrative far more than Looper does, but that the casting of the protagonist in Looper conforms more to the expectations of the viewers and thus, allows Looper benefit from a story that is far less engaging and far less revolutionary than the story that I, Robot tells.

If you happen to disagree, that’s perfectly valid.  I just wanted to take a moment to highlight a few of the reasons why I think that I, Robot gets a bad “rap.”  At least, there’s no “Freshman Fiat” to deal with here–you have points that you can refute if you disagree.

And that was ultimately the point of today’s post: a little more reason and a little less fiat.  Thanks for reading!

Sidney




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I earn a small commission on the purchase of these items.

C64 Nostalgia Review: Knights of Legend

A Birthday RPG

I cannot quite remember how I heard of Knights of Legend by Origin as a child.  It was either through an article or advertisement in a magazine that I bought at Waldenbooks called Computer Gaming World (CGW), although it could have been in a different magazine–I just can’t recall.  Regardless, I read either the article or adcopy (no internet/interwebs for public, only military/government at the time), and thought it was neat.  There was a go-to place that I found that would do mail-order for Commodore 64 games that I’d ordered from in the past, so I asked for this for my birthday.  I remember it coming on-time and after I got back from school and had dinner, cake, and ice-cream, I remember opening up the game and diving in.

The game came packed with 6 (!) floppy disks and a packed-in insert exhorting owners (of the IBM/IBM compatible versions) to get a hard drive and install it on there (a review I found said it had 4 disks, but I remember 6, though perhaps I’m wrong–I’ll check when I get home and revise this as necessary–regardless, it had many more than was normal for the time).  Now, understand, most games came on one floppy disk.  Sometimes the game might use front and back to store the floppy, but two disks were rare.  Some of the most intensive games out there used two disks and if they were really, really pushing the capabilities of the system, they might use up to 3-4 disks (for some reason, I’m thinking of the AD&D Gold Box games here), but for a game to need 6 disks was practically unheard of at the time.  Unfortunately, the C64 was older tech and did not have the option of adding a hard drive, something that was just starting to take hold in the PC/IBM computing space of the time, so I had to make do with the floppies.

Unique Races

Now, when I looked up this game on Wikipedia, I was fairly shocked to find that very few outlets seemed to have covered it and that it had an abysmal rating in the few outlets that did give it a look.  I (ultimately) thought it was a bad game (more on this in a moment), but I didn’t think (at least initially) that it was all that bad.

One of the things that this game had going for it was that it had (from what I recall), a fairly unique set of races.  What the game did was combine the RPG systems of race and class into one, so that whatever you picked determined your profession.  Some examples: a Kelden Cliff Guard, Ghor Tigress, or a Klvar Elf (a magic-user).  Each one of these is example of a race/nationality combined with a type of class to get your profession (fighter, magic-user, etc.).  At first, creating a class seemed really fun and unique and it occupied my time during the rest of the school year.  It wasn’t until the summer vacation/break that I was really able to dig into it and discover its flaws.

knights_of_legend_screenshot_indieretronews

Knights of Legend Screenshot.  Image Source: Indie Retro News.

Encumbrance and Fatigue System No Bueno

The real problem, I soon discovered when I tried to actually do anything is the problem that the game’s designer, Todd Mitchell Porter was 1) far too ambitious with the ideas that he implemented in the game for the technology of the time and 2) confused complexity with fun.  The game’s manual (which I’m holding in my hand as I write this post) is a whopping 142 pages in length.  (There are actual RPGs from that era that are shorter than this manual–yes, I acknowledge that they were mostly “home-brew” RPGs by amateurs or very small RPG companies, but still, the fact remains true).  I once had a professor note, as I had once praised a piece of criticism that was very long-winded, that just because it is long and involved, doesn’t necessarily make it good.  That’s the way that I feel about this game in hindsight.  Teenage me loved the sprawling “epicness” of the game for the sheer possibilities that it seemed to offer, but in actuality, the game collapsed under the weight of its own systems.

Case in point–the fatigue and encumbrance system.  Once you got out of the character creation system and outside of the town, into the wilds and into combat, that’s when the game fell apart.  The game used a “hit location” system, meaning that limbs could be incapacitated without killing the body and your characters were “flimsy” meaning that the weakest of strikes could render them critically injured, so the best strategy was to wear the heaviest armor you could find.  However, you could carry only so much, so that you’re armor and weapons weighed you down and every time you took an action, you became more and more fatigued until you couldn’t fight and had to rest.  In combat, this came to down to two results: 1) wear too light of armor and getting your party decimated or 2) wearing too heavy of armor and having your characters able to withstand encounters, but leaving you too fatigued to swing your weapons.

I once had a Kheldon fighter (who had wings and could fly), fly up to his opponent to attack, but after flying, he became exhausted and had to rest each and every turn because his weapons and armor kept him from recovering enough to do anything and the enemy slowly battered him to death.  I did win a couple of battles, but on the whole, I discovered that the entire system was broken because it prioritized “realism” over “fun.”  The possibilities that had seemed endless when I bought the game and when I was just creating characters, turned out to be limiting and frustrating when one actually played the game because of the way the systems interacted with one another.  Just because something works a certain way in real-life, doesn’t mean it should work that way in a game.

Needless to say, the game didn’t really receive a whole lot of attention after that summer. I dabbled with it here and there, but for the most part, it was back to AD&D Gold Box games until I got my first PC where I tried another Origin game, Wing Commander II by another visionary developer, Chris Roberts, that I found more to my liking.  But that’s another blog post, for another day.

Sidney




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I earn a small commission on the purchase of these items.

 

What’s on My Bookshelf? InFamous: Second Son (Video Game)

So today on What’s on My Bookshelf, I thought I’d highlight a video game.  I know gaming is still fairly niche, but it has surpassed movies as the highest grossing entertainment genre, so I’d like to give equal time.  The game, InFamous: Second Son is the 3rd game in the InFamous brand.  Despite that, this feels like a “soft” reboot as the main character, setting, and supporting characters are all new, so it is a great jumping on point if you’ve never played an InFamous game.  The basic gist is that, thanks to an explosion in the earlier games in the series, a few people are not so “normal” anymore and have become “super-powered.”  So, essentially you get to play as a “super hero” in this game’s universe.

Characters, Setting and Plot

You play as Delsin, the younger brother to a cop.  Your parents aren’t around anymore, so you’re brother has had to take care of you and like any little brother, you’re just a bit rebellious.  How rebellious is up to you (see below).  The game is an open world game set in Seattle.  While not a one-to-one representation of the city, the game still bears a fair likeness to the city with many of Seattle’s landmarks on display (including a harrowing jaunt to the Space Needle).  As a super powered individual, you get to really let loose against the enemy forces, the DUP, who want to collar ALL “super powered” characters, regardless of their motives.  Add to the fact that you get to also “gain” new powers by absorbing them from other “super” characters that you face and the game gets quite inventive.

Morality

The thing I like most about the InFamous games is that they feature a morality system.  Actions that help the game world bring about a positive change (citizens take pride in their city and help clean it up, etc.) or you can do the opposite (being a bully and a pest drives the city into a state of dinginess and decay).  There are major choices that have this “good vs evil” paradigm along with smaller acts within the world.  Overall, the story still gets to the same resolution, but the game gives you the appearance of agency to affect the outcome of the story by giving you those moments of choice.

If you’re a gamer looking for something new to play, or maybe, you want to try out gaming to see what its all about, this is a good starting point and introduction to the gaming experience.  InFamous: Second Son is available for the Sony Playstation 4 video game system.

Have a great day!

Sidney



A Bibliophile’s Dream: Data Manager 2, Goodreads, and Library Thing

 

So, I’ve always been a bit of a bookish person.  Okay, who am I kidding, I’m an unabashed bibliophile–I love books in all their glorious forms.  Ebooks, print books, trade paperbacks, mass market paperbacks, hardcovers, books with dust covers, books without dust covers, magazines, graphic novels, comic books, spiral bound books, zines, etc.  If it has existed in printed form, I’ll probably love it if I get to see it. In fact, the first two places that I’m liable to visit in any new situation are the bookstores and the libraries of that town, place, or school.  Technology has made reading easier and disseminating print quicker and faster.  One day I might do a blog entry about that, but today I really want to turn my attention to the cataloging of books/media and some of the fun ways that I’ve done it over the years.

datamanager2_terapeak

Data Manager 2, Image Source: Terapeak

Data Manager 2

This is the first database program that I ever discovered.  I’d been using a pen-and-paper system before I discovered this program, but once I found that I could create record using the title, author’s name, publisher, genre, etc., I was in “hog heaven.”  I quickly converted my records into computer format and spent hours looking at the “Reports” function which combined the best of graphing functions of a spreadsheet program with a database program.  I loved comparing authors that I had, series, or most importantly genres to see where they ranked with others that I owned.  Great fun for a bibliophile!

Goodreads

After Data Manager 2, I flitted from database to database on the various computers that I owned, but none seemed as satisfying as DM2.  As much as rail against the whole Web 2.0 paradigm, it did bring in one good thing: Goodreads.  In many ways, it is a combination between a book database and a social networking site centered around books.  I have about half of my collection listed on GR along that with being a “GR Author” meaning that any of my works that are published in book form (not online) should show up (I say should because, with the variation on my name, some of the books that I’m listed in aren’t actually showing up–those periods and commas make a difference).  I really GR, but find that sometimes it is too “Facebook” for me and I actively resist all the social/community features that it pushes.  It has a yearly reading challenge that I like to participate in and you can really go in-depth on the types of books that you read at the end of the year with a year-end round up (pretty snazzy).  They also have an app that will scan your books’ barcodes and add them to your collection, but too be honest, I think the web interface is much more intuitive.

Library Thing

The second major site that I found is Library Thing.  It is also a Web 2.0 paradigm site, but it focuses (in my opinion) more on the books aspect rather than the social aspect.  Make no mistake, it has social/community features galore, but for some reason, whenever I’m there, I feel the focus is on books first, community second unless you really want to make it a community focused site.  I don’t have nearly as many of my books listed there, about a 1/10th of my collection, but I’m adding books there on a weekly basis.  I love that you can order the books by “shelves” (which you can also do on GR) and that you can print out a listing of books (or just the covers) by the shelves that you set up.  They also recommend books to read based on your shelves (again, GR does this as well).   One thing that I liked that came too late for me to use is TinyCat, a mini-library interface that you can checkout books with (sort of a mini-circulation module).  This would have been perfect for my classroom library when I was a 6th grade teacher, but it was implemented until the year that I left–I tried several systems (including GR shelves), but none fit my needs like TC would have.  Too bad, as even with the half solutions, I had a fair amount of buy-in with my students as “librarians.”  Imagine what I could have done with a fully fleshed out check-in/check-out database that the students could have used with their Chromebooks–I would have probably had what I was looking for developing as a 6th grade language arts teacher–a class of readers who would also share my love for books and reading.

Well, that’s all for today–have a good day!

Sidney