E3 2018 Conferences Review


Word Count (What I’m Writing); Updated Daily (mostly)

  • Project Paradise Word Count: 357
  • Project Skye Word Count: 1617
  • Project Independence Word Count: 3365 (+324)
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

Changed the way I write.  I moved back to Scrivener in order to utilize the word count tracking feature in the program.  I tried to find a web version (& I did), but it seemed silly to try to wrangle three different websites when I have an all-in-one solution in Scrivener.  Once I did, I was able to to get writing done.  I also reconfigured my workspace so let’s see if that helps.

Currently Reading (What I’m Reading); Updated Daily (mostly)

  • For Fun:
    Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy Novel, Stormlight Archive Book 3) (somewhere in 700s in terms of page count–more than half way finished.)
  • For School:
    Rhetoric in the European Tradition by Thomas Conley (A Book on the History of Rhetoric)
    Ancient Rhetorics, Digital Networks: A book that combines New Media (digital rhetorics) and combines them with ideas and theories of the Ancient Rhetorics.
  • 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’slibrary and I’m reading it now.   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); Updated Weekly (Mondays)

  • 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.

    Still working my way through–I’m trying to clear out a province a week, but because I’m catching up from E3 so I only got to clear about ½ of the province I’m currently working on.  I was planning on finishing that province today, but I have far too much to do today, so I’m not going to get to play it next week.
  • 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.”I got further along, but now I have a decision to make: do I let the “creepy” best friend die, or do I let the character’s potential girlfriend die.  I decided to stop right there.


Fairly disappointed in Bethesda’s conference as the games that I really want to play are Starfield and the next Elder Scrolls game, Elder Scrolls VI.  Both were teased with basically an environment and a logo, but did not show anything even remotely like a cinematic or gameplay.  They are also at least another year, probably two years away.  Their main game this year was Fallout 76, an online game in the Fallout universe.  That means that there have been (or will be when F76 comes out) two games in the Fallout universe this generation and none in the Elder Scrolls universe.  While I don’t begrudge other players their Fallout high, I’m not really a Fallout player.  I’m intrigued by Starfield as it is a new IP in what seems to be a Sci-Fi (spacefaring) setting, but as it is an unknown quantity, it is hard to get too excited for it.


6/19/18 Edit: I forgot that Bethesda also released a trailer and gameplay for the game Rage 2.  Having played the first Rage, I found it fairly interesting so I’m looking forward to this game, so I’m raising the score from its original C- to C.

Square Enix

So, the new Tomb Raider game, Shadow of the Tomb Raider looks pretty good as did the trailer for a new IP called The Quiet Man.  I’m also interested in the new Dragon Quest game as I’ve not yet played a game in that series.  Still, it was a short conference (half and hour) and its main claim to fame, Kingdom Hearts III, already had a trailer to drop before E3 started, so it was a bit of a let down.



I though Ubisoft had a particularly good showing.  Their conference was fun and had a lot of energy and they had a mix of games that I’m interested in playing among the ones that I’m not all that interested in.  The Division 2, The Crew 2, and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey are all games that I’m looking forward to playing, although I’m one Assassin’s Creed game behind and I need to catch up.



So, Sony showed the best games and gave the most detailed look at their upcoming portfolio for their various studios/projects, but they only went into detail about four games: The Last of Us, Part 2, Death Stranding, Ghost of Tsushumia, and Spider-Man.  Each of these projects got an extended look and they all look fantastic.  The problem is that Sony only showed these four major games (in addition to several lesser trailers with Control being the highlight of these trailers).  None of these games are listed as coming later than 2019 (although a couple had no date whatsoever, but I have a feeling they will also be 2019 games).

I’m guessing (and ONLY guessing) that Sony’s strange conference is due to the fact they will probably be “reloading” in 2020 with “next generation” games (perhaps even hardware–aka the “PS5”–as the system will be six years old in 2019 and seven years old in 2020).  My best guess is that 2019 will be the last major “swan song” for major releases for the PS4.  Bold prediction, perhaps, but that is the only thing that makes sense given both the age of the console and the paucity of gaming announcements at Sony’s conference.

B- (A- for the in-depth look at the games, but C for the overall showcase in general).


Ubisoft–while I didn’t like all the games Ubisoft debuted, they had the most eclectic mix, the strongest conference, and provided the most fun out of all the E3 Press Conferences that I watched.  Hopefully, Sony will get there act together next year (hopefully, with next generation games/hardware)


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The Crew 2: Beta Impressions


The Crew 2 Cover Art (Racer with car, boat, and motorcycles with U.S. landscapes in the background).  Image Source: Steamcommunity.com

Word Count

  • Project Paradise Word Count: 357
  • Project Skye Word Count: 1617
  • Project Independence Word Count: 3041 (+613)
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

So I managed a whopping 613 (!) words today.  I wrote for longer than I planned (about 20 mins longer than I planned), but I got into a real groove once I got the ship names down.  This is a first draft, but right now, I really like the way it is coming together.  Now, I need to stop and read for school.  

Currently 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.  It’s a book that I have to read for my History of Rhetoric class.  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.

First Impressions

After getting into and playing The Crew 2 Beta this weekend, I thought I’d give some general, overall impressions–nothing major as it is still a Beta after all and things could conceivably change (not likely, as the game is due to release in under a month and it still has to be “locked down” to be manufactured on the disc).  Still, as longtime readers will know that The Crew 2 is one of the games that I was most looking forward to at last year’s E3.  I really liked the original game even though it only got mediocre reviews (mostly due to the average “revenge” story and not necessarily next-gen graphics) and I find myself “tooling” around the “open world” of the U.S. map on a regular basis.

The Crew, Upgraded

Long story short, I liked the Beta.  Basically, this seems like a really upgraded version of the original game.  Strange to hear it described this way, perhaps, as it is a sequel, but the game plays much more like the first game, but with the added disciplines of air racing and boat racing.  The air racing sections means that you can fly over the entire map of the highly condensed map of the U.S. and they’ve taken creative liberties with the American waterway system so that you can essentially boat the length of the U.S. just as you can drive it, so essentially you can drive, fly, or boat in their sandbox.  It effectively triples the “sandbox” in which you play the game–instead of just driving, now you can drive, boat, or fly around the map.

Not Perfect, However

So, I was planning on buying this one as a “reward” for myself for getting through my June classes as it releases on June 29th and my classes end on July 6.  I may still get it, but after playing the Beta it isn’t a slam dunk as it was before for this reason: The Map is EXACTLY the same!  After playing the original game for so long, I have the majority of the map memorized, so I can tell that they’ve not changed their original road structure significantly based on my time with the beta.  Now, to be honest, they revealed this when they revealed the game, but it seemed like they were upgrading the map (roads) for the additional modes, so I thought they’d change the road system and add new cities, but that’s not what they’ve done.  They did upgrade the graphics and added in a more robust river system (& it looks like the events are greatly expanded), but the road systemcities are exactly the same as the first game.  I was hoping to visit new cities and drive on new roads–for instance, a greatly truncated Nashville, Tennessee and Chattanooga Tennessee are in the game, but not Atlanta, Georgia.  Now, I’m all about my home city (Chattanooga) being in the game, but realistically, Atlanta is a major metropolitan area that rivals New York, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, and Dallas as a major component in the country.  It is essentially the “New York” of the South and deserves to be in the game.  However, The Crew 2 still does enough new things that I’m excited to see the new interpretations of the places that I’ve already seen a ton of times in the original game.  I’m just not sure if it is worth full price based on the fact that the road system is pretty much the same–still, I will be getting this game, but I have to decide if it is worth an immediate summer purchase, or if it would be better as a “Christmas” game.


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Show Us The Gameplay!


Tom Cruise with the dialogue caption: “Show me the money!”  Image Source: The Social C Suite (http://thesocialcsuite.net/show-me-the-money/)

  • Project Paradise Word Count: 357
  • Project Skye Word Count: 1617
  • Project Independence Word Count: 2357 
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

I haven’t written anything as of yet–I wanted to do the blog post first and get it out before the long holiday weekend (U.S.).  Hopefully, if I don’t write today, I’ll be able to write at least 250 words over the 3 day weekend–that’s my goal, at least.  Let’s see on Tuesday if I can actually make it happen.

Games, Games, Games

Okay, so for the most part, my blog entries for the past two weeks have centered (mostly) around my writing endeavors as I try my best to find the best way to navigate the Work, Life, Writing Balance.  I’m actually going to veer a hard left today and move more into video games and gaming for the next two weeks.  Don’t worry, I’m still going to update the word counts and give a brief description of how the writing is going, but as E3 approaches, I want to shift focus just a bit for a while to cover some aspects of gaming that are intriguing.  Sometimes, like today, the writing and gaming will intersect (at least tangentially), but not always.  Just wanted to give you a head’s-up about where the blog is headed in the next couple of weeks.  Oh, I should mention that sometime in the near future, I’ll (hopefully, *fingers crossed*) be seeing Thor Raganarok in the near future & I’ll post here and update my Favorite Marvel Movies post when I do.

Gamplay is King

So, today I watch a trailer for a game called Earthfall (aha, tricked you, didn’t I.  Gamers are all up in arms about a “little” game called Battlefield V at the moment–I’ll actually cover that at a later date–maybe).  However, as you can see from the trailer below, the game looks to be a 4 person cooperative shooter against aliens.  The problem is that is all I can gather from the trailer.  As there is no actual “gameplay,” it is hard to decide if I should put it on my “radar” or not.  Is it a 1st person or 3rd person shooter, is it online only or is there a single player component (campaign), what does the moment-to-moment gameplay look like, etc.?   Yes, yes, I know that I simply google it and find out all of this information, but the point I’m trying to make is that I shouldn’t have to.  If you want me to purchase your game, show me (in gameplay) why I should do so.

We should be past creating a trailer, but not releasing any information about, especially since the game releases on July 13th, which is less than 2 months away (and knowing that a game goes “gold”–i.e., features “locked in” so that the discs can be pressed and shipped to retailers or downloaded for purchase doesn’t inspire confidence).   At most, show one trailer–the trailer below is the 2nd major one, and then start showing gameplay.  Even if they reveal gameplay at E3 in about two weeks time, I’m going to have to wait on reviews because, like movies, when companies aren’t confident that their product is good, they’ll often hold off releasing detailed information on the product until the last minute, hoping to “trick” consumers into seeing it/purchasing it before the initial waves of bad reviews start to flood in.

How to Do it Right!

So, last year, a racing game called The Crew 2 caught my eye.  It is the sequel to The Crew, a game I loved and sunk hours into over the past two years since its release.  The Crew 2 did have a trailer, but it has also consistently released gameplay elements, showing off the various parts of the game.  They’ve released so much that I’ve had to put it on media “blackout” so that I don’t see too much of the game and spoil the surprises of the new things that they’ve added.

As I know what The Crew 2 is and what its gameplay looks like, I’m all in and willing to invest my hard earned money “sight unseen” in it because I’ve seen enough gameplay of the new game and I’ve played enough of the old game to know that this new game will be right up my ally.  Also, as it comes out June 29th and my classes end on July 3, this will make the perfect “getting through your summer classes” gift to myself.  Earthfall might have also been included in this transaction had they shown more gameplay, but as it stands, I’ll probably pick up God of War instead and (if the reviews are good), pick up Earthfall on sale around Christmas time.

To any developers (or future developers) who may stumble across this blog post, please remember–“Gameplay is King!”

Have a great weekend, and for those in the U.S., have a great and safe Memorial Day Weekend!


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

What’s on my Bookshelf? Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag for the PS4

Sorry, but this blog post won’t be extremely detailed today.  I’m feeling under the weather today with a bit of a fever and sore throat.

Assassin’s Creed Series

So, I own all of the major in-line Assassin Creed games.  I bought the first Assassin’s Creed game when it came out for the Playstation 3 and marveled at its brilliance.  And then I couldn’t figure out how to play it as I’d never really played an open-world game before.  I had to play InFamous, a superhero open-world game to figure it out.  Once I did so, Assassin’s Creed II was released and I’ve finished every game in the mainline series to date (haven’t gotten AC: Origins yet–the latest one).

A Pirate’s Life

So, many people consider Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag to be a “pirate simulator.”  It gives you a pretty good approximation of being a pirate with sailing, swashbuckling, and boarding ships, all with the backdrop of Assassin’s Creed lore in the Caribbean setting.  While not my favorite AC game, it was still enjoyable.  I didn’t really like the ending, but it was still an enjoyable experience.  I would rate it a B if I had to grade it (not my favorite, but definitely above average).

Too Many Side Activities

Much of the problem lies in the fact of the “Ubification” of the game–too much stuff to do in order to pad the game’s playtime.  I wouldn’t mind finding the “sea chanties” for the crew to sing as the ship sailed along, but having to “chase” them down, only to have them reset if they “got away” is one of many “tasks” that just exists to waste time, so that 1) you play that game–and only that game–for a long period of time, and 2) along with that, as long as you’re playing the game, you’re not trading it in or giving it friends, etc.  Every since AC III, expansion of game-time has been a primary staple of AC games.

Anyway, I don’t want to badmouth the game.  I think that it is a very good game that I’m proud to have on my bookshelf.


“Ubification” of Ubisoft Games


Several popular Ubisoft game characters.  Image Source: WhatCulture

So, as I sit here waiting patiently to register for classes for the upcoming Summer and Fall terms, I find myself reflecting back on the game that I was playing over the Easter Holiday weekend, Ghost Recon: Wildlands (GRW).  Not really the most appropriate game for such a religious holiday, but I’m about half-way through it and I really want to finish it.  It is both fun and a slog.  How can that be, you might ask.  A game is either fun or it isn’t.  Well, it is much like Mass Effect Andromeda, fun in spurts, but far too long.

Jim Sterling on the “Ubification” of Games

Now, there is a video game personality, Jim Sterling, who talks about games and game companies’ practices on a regular basis.  He is something of a legend in the video game community, a pundit who is at times lauded and hated.  I don’t usually watch pundits, but every now and again, Jim calls out a segment of the video game industry that video game companies would prefer you not to notice.  Today, he chose to point out some of the things that Ubisoft is doing with their games, and since GRW is published by Ubisoft, I thought I’d watch.  Here’s the YouTube video if you’re interested–WARNING: NSFW (Harsh Language–unfortunately, Jim Sterling is in love with the F-Bomb and Crap word).

Now, Jim noticed this trend of Ubisoft’s games looking similar to one another with the release of Far Cry 5 last week, but as a player of quite a few of Ubisoft’s catalog (The Crew, all major in-line Assassin’s Creed releases, Tom Clancy’s The Division, and now Ghost Recon: Wildlands), I’ve been noticing that loop myself for a while.  Ubisoft actually has a gameplay mechanic that has been mocked and parodied in the gaming community for a while now– the unlocking of more of the game “map” by visiting some sort of “tower.”

Making it Relevant to Scholarship

One of the things that I’ve wanted to do for a while is to find a way to make what ever I’m currently playing relevant to scholarship.  While games, game theory, and video gaming is being studied in academia, it is still a very niche idea with too many scholars not understanding that many of the talented individuals who would be writing literature (books) or crafting cinema (movies) are actually working in the gaming arena.  What some scholars dismiss as mere “fluff” or have the idea that games that are not relevant to the greater society of the whole are missing a whole wider world in which subculture, especially gaming culture, is influencing and being influenced by the culture of gaming (don’t believe me–trace the backlash against Anita Sarkeesian and the GamerGate controversy with the backlash against Leslie Jones and the Ghostbusters (2016)–they are quite similar in reaction/rationale all happening “approximately” the same time).  My hope is that I can somehow use GRW to talk about video games in scholastic context.  I’m still formulating how I want to approach it (perhaps talking about Open World games in general).  We’ll see, but video game rhetoric is still such a new topic that the field is still fairly wide open as to what I can analyze, so there are many opportunities for scholarship from this one game.  I just need to figure out how to approach it.

Well, that’s it for now.  Have a great day!


New Year, New Project: Introducing Project Sea

So the first of the new projects that I’m planning is a new short story that I’m calling Project Sea for the moment.  It is in “preproduction” stage throughout the month of January.  I have a small book that I’m reading in addition to try to gain the requisite knowledge for it as it involves sailing vessels, pirates, and voyages on the high seas.  I’m not a sailor, nor am I a sailing person, but I would like to get the nautical usage correct.  I’m a fan of Robert Silverberg and if I remember correctly, the first book of Silverberg’s Valentine novels (Lord Valentine’s Castlefeatured an extended voyage at sea with a cast motley characters.  This is what I’m looking for in this project.

I don’t want to go too into detail or depth so as 1) not to reveal, but 2) also not to write away the surprise of the first rough draft when I finally get to writing it at the end of the month.  Right now, I’m focusing on characters, their motivations, and (surprisingly) plot as this is one of the few stories where the action of what happens is nebulous for me.  Right now, I only have the world really clear in my mind and I’m trying to flesh out some of why the world works as it does and the characters that inhabit this world.

My ultimate goal is to have characters (goals, motivations, character change), plot (beginning, middle, end) and setting (why does the world look/act as it does) planned through January and write a 1 or 2 page Rough Draft during the last couple of days of January.  I then plan on putting it away for a while and pull it out again later in the year to Revise into a “Working Draft.”

Below is the trailer to Skull and Bones, a new game from Ubisoft coming later in 2018 that is a partial inspiration to this project.  It really only inspired one potential character, but it does also give a visual sense of what I’m trying to achieve in my story.


That’s all for today.  I hope you have a great day!

Read Skin Deep for Free at Aurora Wolf
Read Childe Roland for Free at Electric Spec

E3 and me: The Crew 2


Image Source: Rayman-Fanpage.de

This time I want to talk about another racing game that’s caught my eye: The Crew 2 (TC2).  This game is a sequel to The Crew by Ubisoft.  The Crew’s claim to fame is that it offers an open world map of the United States for players to drive through.  Players can start in New York on the East Coast and drive seamlessly though the game’s roads, highways, or even off-road and travel to Los Angeles or San Fransisco on the West Coast.  Now, while the map is highly condensed, it can still take anywhere from 30 – 45 minutes to travel the length of the map and there are quite a few unique elements to the game that I really enjoyed such as road discovery, landmark discovery, modifying vehicles, and a mostly satisfying in-game soundtrack delivered via radio stations.  The Crew was denigrated for its story and many reviews thought that the game’s visual’s were not up to “next generation” standards (which the devs. addressed by “up-rezzing” the graphics as part of a later patch) and they supported the game rather well, I thought.


Image Source: Techno Buffalo

TC2 seems to up the graphical fidelity even more and it looks like from the gameplay trailers that the map may be even larger than the previous game (and if not, it certainly looks more diverse).  It appears that they might be dropping the “story” mode to the game and going with more of a festival/win at all the various disciplines approach to the game.  Speaking of disciplines, the game is devoted into 4 main areas: Street Racing, Off-road racing, speed boat racing, and air racing.  It also looks like you can jump seamlessly between the various modes even in mid-race, although I’ll have to see how that plays in game to see if that is going to be as cool as it sounds.

The Crew’s large open world, its (in my opinion) inoffensive story, and its great game play made it a mainstay for me and helped me to keep my sanity during my second year of teaching middle school.  I’m hoping that The Crew 2 helps do much same now.  I’m cautiously optimistic about this game as well.

Here is the reveal trailer for The Crew 2.